With US Warships En Route To Islands, China Asks: “What On Earth Makes Them Think We Will Tolerate This?”
The US is in a tough spot militarily.
In Syria, Russia and Iran have taken advantage of the fact that the plan hatched by the West and its regional allies to destabilize the Assad regime took far too long to develop. The idea was to foment discord and provide covert support for the various armed militias fighting to overthrow the government. But the effort is entering its fifth year and Assad is still there. Not only that, there have been a series of unintended (well, at least we hope they’re unintended) consequences. First, one of the rebel groups the West and its allies supported morphed into an insane band of white basketball shoe-wearing, black flag-waving, sword-wielding desert bandits. Second, the fighting created a horrific refugee crisis that now threatens to destabilize the whole of Europe. Sensing a historic geopolitical opportunity, Moscow and Tehran simply stepped in and outmaneuvered Washington. Now, the US basically has to decide whether it wants to go to war with Russia, because paradropping ammo into the middle of the desert isn’t going to be a viable strategy.
Meanwhile, the US faces another superpower confrontation in the South China Sea.
When Beijing began its land reclamation efforts in the Spratlys, we’re reasonably sure the Pentagon didn’t anticipate the extent to which the effort would quickly become a giant headache for Washington.
As a reminder, it’s not so much the dredging that has Washington’s regional allies in the South Pacific upset. Island building has been done before in the area. Rather, it’s the scope of the project that has everyone unnerved as Beijing has so far constructed over 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory atop which China has built everything from cement factories, to greenhouses, to runways.
Whether or not the US really cares about this is debatable although these shipping lanes are indeed critical for world trade. But with The Philippines and others crying foul, Washington is left with little choice but to put on a brave face lest the world should get the idea that China can just redraw maritime boundaries at will and establish a Sino-Monroe Doctrine in the process.
So finally, the US decided that it would sail some warships by the islands just to see if it can do so without getting shot at.
No, really. That’s the whole plan. “Let’s see how far we can push them.”
This is of course orchestrated under the guise of a freedom of navigation operation which, in a way, makes little sense because China has never threatened global trade. Then again, it’s fairly obvious that Beijing has some military role for the new islands in mind.
In any event, China hit back on Thursday, saying the PLA would “stand up and use force” if necessary should the US make a “mistake” with the whole warship plan.
So in short, Washington is now in a staring contest with both Moscow and Beijing and both Russia and China seem to have gotten the idea that the US has lost its resolve lately and will probably blink first in both standoffs.
It’s with all of that in mind that we bring you the following rather amusing op-ed from Beijing out Saturday on Xinhua, presented below with no further comment:
* * *
The United States’ provocative attempts to infringe on China’s South China Sea sovereignty are sabotaging regional peace and stability and militarizing the waters.
The U.S. Navy is reportedly preparing to conduct “freedom of navigation” operations, sending warships within 12 nautical miles of Chinese islands in the South China Sea. The U.S. operations may take place within days, according to reports.
Last month, in his response to China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the United States “will fly, sail and operate wherever the international law allows, as we do around the world.”
White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said on Oct. 8 that U.S. warships patrolling close to artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea “should not provoke significant reaction from the Chinese.”
Let us not forget that in October 1962, when the Soviet Union was building missile sites in Cuba — not even on U.S. soil — U.S. President Kennedy made it clear in a televised speech that the United States would not “tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place.”
What on earth makes the United States think China should and will tolerate it when U.S. surface ships trespass on Chinese territory in the South China Sea?
China will never tolerate any military provocation or infringement on sovereignty from the United States or any other country, just as the United States refused to 53 years ago.
China’s stand on the South China Sea disputes is firm and clear. China’s sovereignty and claims of rights over Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea have been formed over the long course of history and upheld by successive Chinese governments, and have adequate and solid historical and legal basis.
Just as Article 15 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea stipulates, delimiting the territorial seas of China and other countries in the South China Sea shall be in accordance with China’s “historic title” to the region.
China has always been, in a constructive and effective manner, a firm upholder of the freedom of navigation as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea. And China has vowed to continue to do so in the future.
China’s construction of civilian and public facilities on the Nansha Islands and reefs, which fall within the scope of China’s sovereignty, serves not only China but also coastal nations in the South China Sea.
For instance, two lighthouses recently built on reefs in the region have helped guide passing vessels from around the world and significantly improved navigation safety.
Contrary to U.S. claims, it will be the United States, as an outsider, that further provokes tensions in the South China Sea by sending soldiers and warships to Chinese territory in the name of “freedom of navigation.”
This is not the first move by the United States to undermine the regional peace and stability that China has worked so hard for.
Over the past several years, the United States has held frequent large-scale drills with its allies in the South China Sea, flexing their military muscles.
According to the website of the U.S. Department of Defense, the country has deployed thousands of civilian and military officials, as well as a huge number of weapons, to the Pacific region.
To destabilize the region and contain China, the United States has deliberately involved non-party nations, such as Japan, in the South China Sea issue and stirred disputes between China and other parties, including the Philippines.
By no means will China let the provocateurs make waves in waters that should be characterized by peace, friendship and cooperation.
Last year, the bilateral trade volume between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) exceeded 480 billion U.S. dollars.
Concerned nations have no alternative but to jointly deal with disputes in the South China Sea that pose a threat to the development and prosperity of parties in the region.
On Sept. 18, in response to remarks made by the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific on patrolling the South China Sea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China, like the United States, upholds freedom of navigation in the waters.
However, the spokesman stressed, China opposes any country’s challenge, in the name of freedom of navigation, to China’s sovereignty and security in the South China Sea.
During a visit to Europe in March 2014, Chinese president Xi Jinping stressed that his country will “never stir up any trouble, but will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights” when it comes to sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Even though enhancing mutual trust and managing disputes through high-level visits and talks still remains the first option for China, the country will, without any doubt, adopt countermeasures against the United States if it doesn’t stop military provocations that infringe upon China.
On July 11, Israel announced it was not interested in having the United Nations become involved as a mediator in its maritime border issues with Lebanon.
But when it comes to recruiting other countries to assist in the enforcement of its naval blockade of Gaza, or having international airlines deny entry to passengers destined to the occupied territories from flying, Israel is keen to have other countries help.
In 2010, Israel faced the worst kind of media exposure when its military raided the Mavi Marmara, shooting dead nine activists and wounding 40 others, evoking global condemnation and a beginning a tectonic shift in its relations with Turkey.
Rather than risking direct confrontation with activists taking part the recent Freedom Flotilla II, or the ”Flytilla” of activists who attempted to fly into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, Israel instead chose another strategy that has proven quite effective.
Anchoring the flotilla
In June, ten ships carrying some 200 activists from 20 countries were to take part in what came to be known as “the second Freedom Flotilla”, whose goal was to break through the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
Israel began its campaign to keep the vessels from reaching Gaza by warning journalists on June 26 they could be banned from entering the country for ten years if they travelled aboard the aid flotilla.
The Israeli government also said journalists could also have their equipment seized, in addition to other sanctions placed on them.
Jay Bushinsky from the Foreign Press Association in Israel questioned the constitutionality of the Israeli government’s warning, and said it could be overruled by Israeli courts. He told Al Jazeera: ”If the steps are taken, it will reflect an unwise policy and a losing proposition.”
Israel backtracked and retracted the warning.
The next day, June 27, activists aboard the Swedish ship Juliano reported their vessel had been sabotaged by divers. In a statement, they said, ”hostile divers had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft”.
At approximately the same time, Israel escalated a media campaign that was geared towards demonising flotilla activists. According to Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Aharonoth, military sources said participants of the flotilla were planning to pour chemicals, such as sulphur, on Israeli soldiers, and senior Israeli officials claimed that ”radical elements” among the flotilla activists had stated an intention to ”spill the blood of Israeli soldiers”.
Then on June 30, three days after the Juliano was sabotaged, the Irish ship Saoirse had to abandon plans to set sail, because of what it called Israeli sabotage. Activist Huwaida Arraf told Israel’s Army Radio that the ship’s engine was damaged while in port and could have led to deaths on board.
“When the engine was started, it completely bent,” Arraf said. “While out at sea, if this would have happened, if it would have bent in this way, the boat would have started taking on water and it could have led to fatalities.”
The alleged sabotage occurred at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek where the Saoirse has been berthed for the previous few weeks, according to organisers.
Israel refused media requests for comment on both allegations.
source:Mike Maharrey tenth amendment center
BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Burlington police department unilaterally decided to sever ties with a U.S. Department of Defense program that allows law enforcement agencies to procure surplus military equipment, freeing the department from one significant form of federal influence and control.
A Burlington TV station reported on the move, saying the department had obtained two night vision devices through the program before deciding not to participate.
“There are times when military-style equipment is essential for public safety, but they are very rare,” Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said. “We have the resources to handle all but the most inconceivable public safety scenarios. Amassing a worst-case scenario arsenal of military equipment results in officers seeing everyday policework through a military lens. When I realized what a small role the military played in equipping our police, I concluded it was better to return the items.”
FEDERAL SURPLUS AND GRANT MONEY
Through the federal 1033 Program, local police departments procure military grade weapons, including automatic assault rifles, body armor and mine resistant armored vehicles – essentially unarmed tanks. Police departments can even get their hands on military helicopters and other aircraft.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) runs the “Homeland Security Grant Program,” which in 2013 gave more than $900 million in counterterrorism funds to state and local police. According to a 2012 Senate report, this money has been used to purchase tactical vehicles, drones, and even tanks with little obvious benefit to public safety. And, according to ProPublica, “In 1994, the Justice Department and the Pentagon funded a five-year program to adapt military security and surveillance technology for local police departments that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”
COMMAND AND CONTROL
“Arming ‘peace officers’ like they’re ready to occupy an enemy city is totally contrary to the society envisioned by the Founders,” Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center said, echoing del Pozo’s thoughts. “They’ve turned ‘protect and serve’ into ‘command and control.’”
In the 1980s, the federal government began arming, funding and training local police forces, turning peace officers into soldiers to fight in its unconstitutional “War on Drugs.” The militarization went into hyper-drive after 9/11 when a second front opened up – the “War on Terror.”
By stripping state and local police of this military-grade gear and requiring them to report on their acquisition and use, it makes them less likely to cooperate with the feds and removes incentives for partnerships.
THE WAY FORWARD
Very few police chiefs have the moral clarity demonstrated by del Pozo. We can’t rely on local police departments to turn their backs on all the free gear dangled in front of them by the feds. The vast majority won’t – not on their own.
But state and local governments can stop militarization of their police departments through laws and ordinances.
Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law requiring law enforcement agencies to get approval from a local government body before applying for military equipment. This creates a transparent process and gives area residents an avenue to stop militarization altogether through local action.
Montana took things a step further, passing a law prohibiting police agencies from procuring certain types of military equipment at all.
Local governments don’t have to wait for the state to act. They control their local police departments, and they can generally restrict or even ban militarization on their own initiative.
To take action to push back against federal militarization of police in your state, click HERE.
James Morris, political analyst and commentator confronts John McCain about the USS Liberty Cover-up on Memorial Day. Website: http://america-hijacked.com
John Gidusko’s USS Liberty website:
Listen to “Your Voice Counts” with USS Liberty survivor Phil Tourney
Saturdays at 7PM EST on RBN
McCain Confronted on USS Liberty Cover-up & Media Accomplices
Liberty Survivors Invoke Benghazi, Demand Hearings:
The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years as the military emerges from a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than on character, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Data shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct more than tripled in the past three years. The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.
It also reflects the Army’s rapid growth in the middle part of the decade, and the decisions to relax standards a bit to bring in and retain tens of thousands of soldiers to fill the ranks as the Pentagon added troops in Iraq and continued the fight in Afghanistan.
“I wouldn’t say lack of character was tolerated in (war) theater, but the fact of the last 10 or 12 years of repeated deployments, of the high op-tempo – we might have lost focus on this issue,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s top officer, told the AP last week. “Sometimes in the past we’ve overlooked character issues because of competence and commitment.”
His comments mirror concerns aired by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, several times in recent months. The ethical lapses, Dempsey said, can be attributed in some ways to 10 years at war when the military failed to properly balance character and competence.
Over the past year, a series of high profile scandals – from sexual assault and damaging leadership to mistreatment of the enemy and unauthorized spending – has dogged the military, leading to broad ethics reviews and new personnel policies.
Those scandals included the demotion of Army Gen. William “Kip” Ward for lavish, unauthorized spending; sexual misconduct charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair; and episodes of gambling and drinking by other general officers.
More recently, there have been cheating allegations against Air Force nuclear missile launch officers and a massive bribery case in California that has implicated six Navy officers. Examples of troop misconduct include Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters and soldiers posing with body parts of Afghan militants.
As a result, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other leaders say ethics is a priority about which they now routinely lecture troops and officers. They also have undertaken initiatives aimed at identifying and dealing with problem service members.
“We’re paying a lot more attention to it now. We are not tolerant at all of those showing a lack of character,” Odierno said. “We have to refocus ourselves so we get to where we think is the right place.”
A sharp-shooting former Army sergeant nicknamed Rambo has been charged with recruiting ex-soldiers as globe-trotting hitmen for drug traffickers in a scheme that prosecutors said could have been “ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel.”
Three members of the gang were ready to assassinate a federal agent for an $800,000 payoff, and one of them boasted that murder-for-hire was “fun,” according to court papers outlining an elaborate four-continent sting operation.
“The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
“Three of the defendants were ready, willing and eager to take cold hard cash to commit the cold-blooded murders of a DEA agent and an informant.”
The accused ringleader was Joseph “Rambo” Hunter, 48, whose family told NBC News he was mysterious about his international activities and they had no idea he had been arrested.
Hunter was in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2004, serving as a sniper instructor and senior drill sergeant, according to the indictment unsealed Friday.
After leaving the military, he launched a new career as a contract killer who “has arranged for the murders of multiple people,” the court papers charge.
“These were consummated, completed contract killings,” Bharara said at a Friday press conference, without providing details of the killings, which occurred overseas.
U.S. Military May Consider You a Potential Terrorist If You Are Young, Use Social Media, Or Question “Mainstream Ideologies”
Wired reports today:
These are some warning signs that that you have turned into a terrorist who will soon kill your co-workers, according to the U.S. military. You’ve recently changed your “choices in entertainment.” You have “peculiar discussions.” You “complain about bias,” you’re “socially withdrawn” and you’re frustrated with “mainstream ideologies.” Your “Risk Factors for Radicalization” include “Social Networks” and “Youth.”
That was the assessment of a terrorism advisory organization inside the U.S. Army called the Asymmetric Warfare Group in 2011, acquired by Danger Room.
And the government has more or less classified journalists as terrorists.
So it’s time for an updated list of actions and beliefs which government officials have said may indicate “potential terrorism” …
Highly sensitive U.S. military equipment stored in Libya was stolen over the summer by groups likely aligned and working with terrorist organizations, State Department sources told Fox News — in raids that contributed to the decision to pull Special Forces personnel from the country.
The stolen equipment had been used by U.S. Special Forces stationed in the country. Lost in the raids in late July and early August were dozens of M4 rifles, night-vision technology and lasers used as aiming devices that are mounted on guns and can only be seen with night-vision equipment.
“This stuff is how we win wars. The enemy doesn’t have that,” one source said.
The overnight raids happened at a military training camp run by American Special Forces on the outskirts of Tripoli, in the weeks before the team was pulled from the country in August.
That U.S. team was funded by the Department of Defense Section 1208, which provides support to assist and stand up foreign counterterrorism forces in other countries. And in the case of Libya, the trainers were also tasked with hunting down the Benghazi attack suspects that killed four Americans one year ago. As Fox News previously reported, members of that team are leaving Libya
Returning to the familiar sight of the U.S. threatening to attack a Middle Eastern country, Jon Stewart dismissed the posturing surrounding a possible military strike against Syria on The Daily Show on Tuesday. “Oh, right — we have to bomb Syria…
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria but also said Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a U.N. resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without U.N. Security Council backing.
The interview Tuesday night at Putin’s country residence outside the Russian capital was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in the country’s civil war.
Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a one-on-one meeting in Moscow that was supposed to have happened before the summit. But he expressed hope the two would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg.
“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” he said of their relationship.
“We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems,” Putin said.
He also denied that Russia has anti-gay policies — an issue that has threatened to embarrass the country as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February.
The Russian leader, a year into his third term as president, appeared to go out of his way to be conciliatory amid a growing chill in U.S.-Russian relations. The two countries have sparred over Syria, the Edward Snowden affair, Russia’s treatment of its opposition and the diminishing scope in Russia for civil society groups that receive funding from the West.
Putin said it was “ludicrous” that the government of President Bashar Assad — a staunch ally of Russia — would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.
“From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force,” he said.
The Obama administration says 1,429 people died in the Aug. 21 attack in a Damascus suburb. Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower, and Assad’s government blames the episode on rebels trying to overthrow him. A U.N. inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in Syria before completing a report.
“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council,” added Putin, a former officer in the Soviet KGB. “And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”
He noted that even in the U.S., “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention.”
He compared the evidence presented by Washington to false data used by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the U.S. called a mistake. Did we forget about that?” Putin said.