War & Conflict

The Trump Doctrine

by ROBERT REICH – Though his foreign policy seems arbitrary and inconsistent, a pattern has emerged to explain Donald Trump’s worldview and how the US will carry it out. What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary and devoid of principle. A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared. I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it. The Trump Doctrine began to emerge when Trump issued his travel bans (both the first and second) on predominantly Muslim countries. But he notably excluded predominately Muslim countries where Trump has business interests. So under what might...

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America’s Addiction to War (VIDEO)

by Andrew Mitrovica – War brings supposedly disparate parts of the US together to rally around the flag, yellow ribbons and even Donald Trump. Eventually, the truth reveals itself. And so it was after President Donald Trump – a still surreal phrase to put to paper – elected to bomb a mostly vacant Syrian airstrip in supposed response to the slow, suffocating murder of children by Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. The Pentagon-supplied images of Tomahawk cruise missiles bursting into the night sky triggered a near orgasmic reaction among the same band of US cable TV network-approved geopolitical “experts” and journalists-in-name-tag-only who gush with unbridled excitement each time flashy weapons go bang in the night. You’ll recall that not too long ago, this giddy, easily impressed lot, joined by rancorous Democrats on Capitol Hill, were universally repulsed by the same dangerous demagogue they recently applauded on Twitter, TV and elsewhere as a...

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Trump Touted ‘Armada’ He was Sending to North Korea While it was Sailing in Opposite Direction

by Aaron Rupar – The White House is blaming the Defense Department for the mistake. The armada Trump bragged about sending to North Korea last week was actually headed in the opposite direction, according to a new report from the New York Times. In an interview with Fox Business that aired on April 12, President Trump declared that the United States was “sending an armada” to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s refusal to stop testing weapons. Trump said,  “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.” Trump’s comments came on the heels of news reports that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group was headed toward North Korea — news seemingly confirmed by a strike group spokesman. The day before Trump’s Fox Business interview aired, Press Secretary Sean Spicer also seemed to confirm the strike...

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‘New Step in Long Walk to Freedom’: Palestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

by Deirdre Fulton – As many as 1,500 political detainees are taking part in the demonstration demanding ‘freedom and dignity’. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday, protesting dismal conditions as well as “Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation.” Some said as many as 1,500 political prisoners in six jails across Israel were participating in the open-ended strike, commemorating Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and coming ahead of June’s 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, when the occupation began. Solidarity rallies were also taking place in the occupied cities of Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus. According to the human rights and prisoner advocacy organization Addameer, which is urging global solidarity with the detainees, “the hunger striking prisoners’ demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention, and stopping the use of...

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Will China Intervene in North Korea? (VIDEOS)

by Salvatore Babones – If China intervenes in North Korea, it would not to be to save Kim Jong-un. North Korea is in the headlines – again. For a small, poor country of 25 million people, it sure does make a lot of news. This time it’s the perennial issue of nuclear testing. North Korea has tested five nuclear devices since 2006. Donald Trump is in no mood to allow a sixth. Just days before his Florida summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump vowed that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” Then just after the summit he backed up his pledge by ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. North Korea showcases new missiles at military parade Most people agree that North Korea is a problem. Aside from its nuclear tests, it also stands accused of state-sponsored counterfeiting of foreign currencies, the industrial-scale manufacture and...

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No, Dropping a MOAB on ISIS in Afghanistan Doesn’t Make Surge 2.0 a Good Idea

by Ed Krayewski – Geeze Louise. The U.S. military dropped the 21,000-pound GBU-43, or MOAB, on a tunnel complex out of which ISIS operated, U.S. Central Command announced today, giving proponents of a renewed surge in Afghanistan new hope that President Trump will follow that course. But another escalation in the war in Afghanistan remains a bad idea—there’s very little, if anything, the U.S. can do in its 16th year of war that it couldn’t accomplish in the first 15, even if the bombs used are getting bigger. The GBU-43, called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb, is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and was developed for the Iraq war (of course it was) but never used there. The action in Afghanistan was the first time the bomb has been used in the battlefield—it was tested in 2003. Its creator, Albert Weimorts, previously designed a 5,000-pound...

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Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President?

by BILL MOYERS – As our institutions bend and buckle and approach the breaking point, the president bombs Syria and is hailed by an obeisant media. It’s been a week now since Donald Trump once again became our president. Here’s how it happened. After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and elite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear. The headline above Glenn Greenwald’s story at The Intercept summed up the response: “The Spoils of War — Trump Lavished with Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria.” The hawkish Hillary Clinton, who long had been critical of Barack Obama for not bringing Bashar Assad to heel, “appeared at an...

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Could Trump’s Need to be Adored Lead to a War with North Korea: A Psychological Perspective

by HalBrown – Just watching Dan Rather talking about N. Korea to Rachel. He made the point that Trump basks in feeling adoration. Reflecting on the positive press Trump received after his last two militaristic actions, he worries whether Trump will push for a military engagement with North Korea. This would, of course, likely lead to war. The mere fact anyone would even consider that an American president’s psychological dysfunction — to put it mildly — could lead to a war is surreal and chilling. Dan Rather also suggested that Trump is woefully uninformed about what happened in the Korean War and that he ought to read, or have read to him, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War “ by David Halberstam, published in 2007. The cadre of online shrinks I communicate with every day who have been studying Trump, are asking this question: Given what we know about Trump’s extreme, malignant narcissism, do...

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North Korea Warns of ‘Thermonuclear War’ After Trump Threatens Strike

by Nika Knight – ‘Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. When the inevitable retaliation comes, what form does it take?’ The Trump administration has succeeded in ratcheting up tensions in the Korea Peninsula after dispatching a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean and threatening a “preemptive strike” against North Korea if the country goes ahead with a nuclear bomb test. In response to the Trump administration’s saber-rattling, North Korea on Friday warned of a looming “thermonuclear war,” threatening a preemptive strike of its own if the U.S. engages in “reckless” aggression. In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said that “Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is ‘more vicious and more aggressive’ than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama,” AP writes. “He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in ‘quality and...

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The ‘Mother of All Bombs’ is Big, Deadly – and Won’t Lead to Peace

by Medea Benjamin – “I’m really very good at war. I love war, in a certain way,” bragged candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Iowa. This is the same Donald Trump who avoided the Vietnam draft by claiming a bone spur in his foot, a medical problem that never kept him off the tennis courts or golf courses, and miraculously healed on its own. But with the escalation of US military involvement in Syria, the record number of drone attacks in Yemen, more US troops being sent to the Middle East and, now, the dropping of a massive bomb in Afghanistan, it looks like Trump may indeed love war. Or at least, love “playing” war. In Syria, Trump went for 59 Tomahawk missiles. Now, in Afghanistan, he has opted for a “super weapon”, the second largest of the US military’s non-nuclear bombs. This 21,600-pound explosive, never before used in combat, was used to...

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Syria’s Civil War Explained From the Beginning

The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed thus far. As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, more than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and over 12 million Syrians – half the country’s prewar population – have been displaced from their homes. In 2011, what became known as the Arab Spring revolts toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak . That March, peaceful protests erupted in Syria as well, after 15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of the boys, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb , was killed after having been brutally tortured. The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad , responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more. In July 2011, defectors from the military...

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Dan Rather Says What Every Person With a Moral Compass is Thinking Regarding Sean Spicer & Trump

by Sarah – It’s gotten to the point where if Donald Trump doesn’t fire Sean Spicer for his egregious remarks about the Holocaust, Assad and Syria, he should be seen as agreeing with Spicer’s sentiment as well as condoning it. It’s disgusting, to say the least, and the legendary Dan Rather just released a statement that should summarize what every person with a decent moral compass is thinking right now. Rather wrote: “It is with sadness that I do not know where to begin. Today in a briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement that is so far beyond the pale, so tone deaf and blind to history and our precarious moment in world affairs, that it is with only a heavy heart that I even bring attention to it. There can be no joy in such incompetence. In trying to make the case for the Administration’s policy...

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Russia Faces Mounting Pressure to Abandon Syria’s Assad (VIDEO)

New sanctions on agenda as foreign ministers from G7 group, Turkey and Arab states meet in Italy to discuss the war. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations meeting in Lucca in Italy are looking to put pressure on Russia to break its ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Italy has also invited the foreign ministers from several “like-minded countries” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar – to sit down with the G7 group in the Tuscan city to discuss Syria. Seated around conference tables in the Tuscan city on Tuesday, the diplomats smiled and exchanged pleasantries but made no remarks as photographers were allowed in briefly for the start of the meeting. The session lasted roughly an hour. Calling last week’s US missile strike on a Syrian airbase a “game changer”, Boris Johnson, UK’s foreign minister, said on Monday that support for Assad “was...

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AP: U.S. Official Alleges Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Attack on Civilians in Advance

by Leslie Salzillo – On Monday, the Associated Press ran an uncharacteristically vague and somewhat mysterious story about a Washington official who is stating Russia was well aware, in advance, of the Syrian chemical attack that killed 80 innocent civilians last week. Donald Trump said the images of the children prompted him to authorize the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian base days after the chemical attack. Given the ineffectiveness of his strike, Trump’s actual motives are still in question, as well as his ties to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. AP journalists Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor report: The official said a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons....

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The Chemical Brothers: Putin and Assad (VIDEOS)

by Roman Dobrokhotov – What would Russia’s support for Assad cost Vladimir Putin? This week the world witnessed yet another chemical attack in Syria. After horrendous footage from Khan Sheikhoun showed children suffocating from sarin gas and relatives crying over piles of dead bodies, Russia was forced to react. But while Washington used the attack as an excuse for missile strikes on a regime-held airbase in southern Syria, Moscow did the exact opposite – it used it as an excuse for more excuses. And the excuse was produced quickly: The ministry of defence announced that there was no chemical attack but that a rocket had hit a stockpile of “terrorists'” chemical weapons, which led to the release of the poisonous gas. WATCH: Idlib attack – Results show chemical weapons were used (2:16) To many Russian journalists, this explanation sounded familiar. In 1999 during another “counterterrorism operation” (the one that brought Vladimir Putin to...

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Trump’s Syria Strike Displays Arrogance, Not Toughness

by Robert Borosage – The bombing of Syria is the most irresponsible act of Donald Trump’s circus presidency – yet it enjoys the greatest applause from the foreign policy and political establishment. Trump is doing what Obama refused to do – bombing a sovereign nation in response to a humanitarian horror, purportedly committed by the Assad government. Obama’s refused to retaliate after the Assad government was accused of crossing his “red line” and using chemical weapons on his own people. Obama couldn’t understand how a retaliatory strike would produce any result. Instead, his administration joined with Vladimir Putin to negotiate the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. Our foreign policy establishment has condemned him to this day for his alleged “weakness.” Trump’s bellicosity is likely to prove the wisdom of Obama’s restraint. In his campaign, Trump indicted that foreign policy elite for its failures, particularly in the Middle East,...

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US Strike Group Heads Towards Korean Peninsula (VIDEO)

Third Fleet says USS Carl Vinson making its way to the Western Pacific Ocean following North Korean ‘provocations’. The Pentagon says a group of US warships is headed to the western Pacific Ocean to provide a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula. The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore towards the Korean Peninsula. The development comes in response to North Korea’s “reckless, irresponsible” conduct, a US navy official said, referring to recent missile tests. “US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific,” Commander Dave Benham, spokesperson at US Pacific Command, told AFP news agency. North Korea fires ballistic missile in advance of Trump-Xi meeting “The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of...

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What Next for US-Russia Ties After Syria Strike? (VIDEO)

US-Russian relations are under the spotlight ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Russia next week. Questions have been raised over the future of US-Russian ties after Washington launched a barrage of tomahawk missiles against an airbase in Syria, where Russia’s military is on the ground propping up its ally, President Bashar al-Assad. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will next week make the first visit to Russia by a Trump administration official, just days after the US strike on Shayrat airfield in Homs province – described as a response to a suspected chemical attack in the Idlib province, blamed by many on Assad. The attack, as well as multiple Russia-related investigations in the US, will follow Tillerson’s trip, which was designed to test the Trump administration’s hopes for closer ties to its former Cold War foe. Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said that the implications for US-Russia relations would depend...

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Saudi Arabia, Iran, Others React to US Airstrikes in Syria (VIDEOS)

Regional and world leaders are quick to react to the news after US fires missiles at Syria air base. The United States had fired nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield in Syria, the first direct military action Washington has taken against Syrian government forces in the six-year-old conflict. Survivors speak of Syria chemical attack, two years on The US said the missiles on Friday severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at the airfield. US President Donald Trump  said he ordered the strikes against Shayrat air base in Homs province, saying it is believed that a suspected gas attack on a town in Idlib province had been launched from there. Trump said he acted in America’s “vital national security interest”. World and regional leaders and countries were quick to react to the news. Russia, which has been bombing rebel-held areas in Syria in...

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Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead

by Phyllis Bennis – Further military engagement by the U.S. is not the way to end the horrific carnage. Let’s start with what we don’t know. Experts remain uncertain what chemical(s) were involved in the horrific chemical attack, almost certainly from the air, on the village of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province in Syria.  The nerve agent sarin, chlorine, and unknown combinations of chemicals have all been identified as possible, but in the first 48 hours nothing has been confirmed. We don’t know for sure yet what it was that killed more than 75 people, many of them children, and injured many more. Crucially, we also don’t know who was responsible. Western governments, led by the United States, and much of the western press have asserted that the Syrian regime is responsible, but there is still no clear evidence. Certainly Damascus has an air force, has been known to use chemical,...

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Trump Fires Missiles w/o Congress—Suddenly Cares About Syrians? No. He’s Found the #1 Distraction

by Leslie Salzillo – And here we go. Earlier this week, chemical warfare was used to kill over 80 Syrian innocent civilians (including children) many who suffocated to death. Vladimir Putin and/or Syria’s dictator Assad are allegedly responsible. Donald Trump is under critical investigation for his ties with Putin. And now suddenly, SUDDENLY Trump cares about the lives of Syrian Muslims after banning them from entering the United States for life-saving refuge and after vilifying them for over a year. On Thursday night Trump fired dozens of missiles onto a Syrian airbase without Congressional approval. It was about an hour after dining with China’s president at Trump’s resort in Florida (at the expense of American tax-payers  — while enriching himself and his family). Of course, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley prepped the world for this at the United Nations on Wednesday with her photos and statement, “We might have to take action.”...

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‘Chemical Attack’ in Syria Draws International Outrage (VIDEO) GRAPHIC !

UN to investigate potential war crimes after dozens were killed in Idlib attack US says ‘cannot be ignored’. WARNING: The below report contains images some may find distressing. A suspected chemical attack in Syria has drawn international condemnation, with the United States, France and Britain all pointing the finger at President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. At least 58 people, including 11 children, were killed in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday, doctors and a monitor said. The United Nations said it would investigate the bombing raid as a possible war crime, and an emergency Security Council meeting was scheduled for Wednesday . The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack caused many people to choke or faint, and some to foam from the mouth, citing medical sources who described the symptoms as signs that gas was used. Local health workers said the death toll could rise...

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‘Why is Jared Kushner in Iraq?’ Trump Son-in-Law Expands Shadow Diplomat Role

by Nika Knight – ‘Seems we have one family running our government’—Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Raising eyebrows once again about President Donald Trump’s merging of family and government business, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner accompanied the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman on an official visit to Iraq on Monday. Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, has no diplomatic, military, or foreign policy experience. Nevertheless, he has been tasked by the president with brokering Middle East peace, according to the Washington Post, and his trip to Iraq marks an expansion of his role as a shadow diplomat. Notably, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—who has been criticized for keeping a bizarrely low profile and avoiding the press—has not yet visited Iraq. Meanwhile, Kushner has “taken on some international outreach for the White House,” the Post writes, and his portfolio also includes China, Mexico, and Canada. Trump has strained U.S. relations with China...

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ISIL Second-in-Command Reportedly Killed in Airstrike (VIDEO)

Ayad al-Jumaili, along with other commanders, killed in air strike in al-Qaim region, Iraqi state TV reports. Ayad al-Jumaili, believed to be ISIL’s second-in-command after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in Iraqi air strikes near the Syrian border, Iraqi state TV reported. Jumaili and two other commanders were reportedly killed in the al-Qaim region in the western Anbar province. Brigadier general Yahya Rasool of Iraq’s Joint Operation Command, citing military intelligence, said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group’s director of administrative affairs, Salem Mudafar al-Ajmi, was also killed in the raid. The news comes as Iraqi government continued its push to liberate more areas from ISIL control in Mosul. Fears of ISIL fighters infiltrating Iraqi refugee camps More than 300 civilians have been killed in western Mosul since Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition began an offensive last month to push...

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Gaza: Israel’s War Drums are Getting Louder (VIDEO)

by Tareq Baconi – Israel is entertaining another round of fighting on the besieged strip. On Friday, a senior member of Hamas’s military wing, Mazen Faqha, was assassinated in the Gaza Strip by armed gunmen. It was an assassination tactic not seen in Gaza for at least a decade. Faqha was a leading member of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank. In 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel for his role in planning attacks following Israel’s assassination of Salah Shehadeh, then al-Qassam’s leader. Faqha was set free in the prisoner-exchange deal that released Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011. He was delivered from prison straight to the Gaza Strip, where he resided until his death. The timing and the tactic of Faqha’s killing raise questions about the possibility of another conflagration between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian factions in Gaza agree...

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Trump’s Awkward Meeting with Angela Merkel just got More Cringeworthy

by Laurel Raymond – Trump reportedly handed the Chancellor an invoice for what he thinks Germany “owes” NATO and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was always going to be awkward. Trump rode to office on a wave of nationalistic populism and has openly slammed NATO, one of the key alliances binding the U.S. and Germany, while Merkel has been a staunch defender of the global world order. During his campaign, Trump even levied Merkel’s name as an insult, sneering that his opponent Hillary Clinton wanted to be “America’s Angela Merkel.” Nonetheless, Trump took to Twitter the day after the chilly meeting to defend his “GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel” despite “FAKE NEWS” claiming otherwise, before reiterating his claim Germany owes NATO money for its defense — a claim that is profoundly ignorant of how NATO works. Now, the Times of London is reporting that Trump went a...

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Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously

by JOHN FEFFER – The president wants to put the U.S. on a permanent war footing to sustain his unpopular presidency. So, let me see if I’ve got this right. North Korea has been pushing its ally China to rein in the United States. Pyongyang is worried that Washington is about to launch a preemptive attack, so it has tried to use whatever minimal amount of influence it has to persuade China to use its considerable economic leverage with the United States to get those knuckleheads inside the Beltway to listen to reason. Or maybe I misheard the report on the radio. How about this: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to stop reckless U.S. military interventions overseas, like the one he so disliked (after it failed) in Iraq. So, as president, he is withdrawing all troops from Syria, reducing U.S. military presence in Asia, and pulling the United States...

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North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

South Korean and US officials say they have detected a failed missile launch attempt by North Korea. A new North Korean missile test appeared to have ended in failure, according to South Korean and US officials. The reported failed launch on Wednesday came during large-scale annual military drills involving US and South Korean forces that the North has called a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan but the launch was believed to had failed. “We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added. The statement came after Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the North might have launched several missiles and that they were a failure. A US military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with...

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Rebels Launch Second Damascus Attack in Three Days

Government forces and rebels engaged in fresh fighting as rebel offensive near Jobar neighbourhood enters third day. Syrian rebels stormed a government-held area in northeastern Damascus for the second time in three days, sources on both sides said, pressing the boldest assault on the capital by opposition fighters in several years. The spokesman for one of the main rebel groups involved in the attack said the new offensive began at 0300 GMT, targeting an area rebel fighters had seized from government control on Sunday before being forced to retreat. “We launched the new offensive and we restored all the points we withdrew from on Monday. We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it,” Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters. Syrian government hits back at rebels after Damascus assault Failaq al-Rahman rebels are fighting alongside fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and...

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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

by Alia Brahimi – As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise. “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered, and if they will not surrender they will definitely get killed.” While the impending combat threatens to be circuitous and uncertain – involving, as it will, fighting among civilians in the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – Abadi’s confidence about the final outcome appears to be warranted. But what will be the broader repercussions of Mosul’s liberation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? Back to insurgency WATCH: More than 76,000 flee Mosul’s war zone (2:30) Firstly, on the tactical level, ISIL will continue to devolve into an insurgency –...

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Israel Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Syria (VIDEO)

Fighter jets bomb multiple targets, prompting Syrian retaliation with ground-to-air missiles, Israeli army says. The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria overnight, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted. It was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011. In response of Thursday night’s attack, the Syrian government deployed air defence systems and fired a number of missiles towards Israeli jets, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. None of the missiles struck the jets, the army said, though one of the projectiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defence system north of Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. “Overnight … aircraft targeted several targets in Syria,” an Israeli army statement said. “Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and aerial...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Cambodia Outraged as US Demands Repayment of ‘Blood-Stained’ War Debt

by Nika Knight – The US dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen. While the U.S. was backing the Lon Nol government, it was also strafing the Cambodian countryside with bombs—a carpet-bombing campaign that would eventually see over 500,000 tons of explosives dropped on the small Asian country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and leaving a legacy of unexploded ordnances. “ dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF not to lend us...

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

by Adam Hudson, Truthout | Report – Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president. “I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu,...

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US says ‘All Options on Table’ to Deal with North Korea (VIDEOS)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley calls Kim Jong-un arrogant and not ‘a rational person’. The United States has said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after the United Nations Security Council discussed Pyongyang’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday. “We are not dealing with a rational person,” said Haley. “It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong-un at this time.” China urges US and North Korea to avoid ‘head-on collision’ She said the administration of US President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table”. “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly,” Haley said. North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s...

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Trump Spreads Lie About Obama Releasing Gitmo Prisoners

by Laurel Raymond – Trump doesn’t just get his news from Fox News. He takes it and runs with it. President Donald Trump began his Tuesday by live tweeting statistics from Fox News — and embroidering the media coverage on Fox to spread a falsehood about how which Guantanamo detainees former President Barack Obama released. While the statistic had appeared on Fox shortly before, the falsehood was Trump’s own extrapolation. At 6:13 a.m. during a news rundown, Fox News mentioned the death of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yasir al-Silmi, who was killed in an air strike on Yemen on March 2nd. “A win in the war on terror, the Trump administration just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama, Yasir al-Silmi,” the segment went. “He had been released back in 2009 even though the department of defense recommended that he stay behind bars. 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to...

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Father Of Slain SEAL Demands Investigation Into His Botched Yemen Raid

by John Prager – Donald Trump’s botched Yemen raid left 30 civilians — including an 8-year-old American girl and other women and children — dead, as well as a Navy SEAL. Trump has been largely silent about the death of William “Ryan” Owens, and with good reason: it was his negligence that caused it. An 11-year-old child was the first to be struck by a bullet after he heard a commotion outside. Many more children as young as three months old would lose their lives in the bloodbath that was Trump’s first military operation. Trump, in his haste to approve the operation over dinner without adequate “intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations” according to military officials, failed to kill his primary target. All that we have to show from the botched mission are a few training videos the Trump administration touted as evidence of their success. The videos have been...

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McMaster’s Challenge: His Boss Is Already Making America Less Safe

by Vikram Singh and Peter Juul – At a time when the Trump administration continues to spark an immediate and growing national security crises due to mismanagement and reckless policies, the national security community felt great relief at the president’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as the next national security advisor. McMaster will be tasked with resolving a number of serious foreign policy blunders already committed by the new administration. President Trump must ensure that McMaster has the authority and tools to deal with the following seven problems. Chaotic and dysfunctional management. Even before former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s forced resignation, President Trump’s National Security Council proved disturbingly dysfunctional. For example, U.S. military officials told Reuters that the president “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” The operation in Yemen was launched with no normal process and resulted in the...

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Iraqi Forces Take Control of Mosul Airport (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces storm ISIL-held Mosul International Airport as they continue offensive on western half of the city. US-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIL-held western half of Mosul have stormed the city’s airport and a nearby military base, state television said. Counterterrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response forces descended on the airport early on Thursday and the nearby Ghazlani military complex, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV. Iraqi army hits ISIL positions amid Mosul airport push “This is one of the major achievements that the Iraqi forces were hoping to get in the first phase of going towards the Western side of the city,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Erbil. “This area is about 30 kms away from the western edge of the city, and Iraqi forces now say that they are in full control. “They...

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Iraqi Forces Push Into ISIL-Held Southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit. Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city’s western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit. Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. “The federal police has resumed its advance … Our cannons are targeting Daesh defence lines with heavy fire,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said, using and Arabic acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS. INSIDE STORY: Will the latest Iraqi offensive mean the end of ISIL in Mosul? (25:10) The main...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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Trump Walks Back Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East (VIDEO)

by E.A. Crunden – The president says he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution. The two-state solution as we know it may be over. Speaking during a press conference Wednesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump failed to commit his support for a future Palestinian state, saying that he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution and that he would defer to whatever solution might be preferred by both parties. “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.” Trump’s comments are an ominous sign that a shift is coming, and a dramatic shift away from decades of U.S. foreign policy. Broad bipartisan support exists for the two-state solution and few U.S. presidents have seen fit to rock...

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Trump’s Over Dinner Commando Raid Loses an Ally in the Fight Against Extremists

by Mark Sumner – It’s amazing. Donald Trump has said the magic words “radical Islamic terrorism,” and yet it doesn’t seem to have caused all opposition to dry up and blow away. In fact, Trump’s Muslim ban has proven to be a gift to enemies. The beneficiaries of this policy have been extremists, who can now say across the Muslim world: “The US will never help you.” And in his first military action — approved over dinner with Bannon and Kushner — Trump has created a costly catastrophe that has had drawn mockery from the terrorists it was mean to target and made the fight that much harder. Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials. Also not helping the situation: A delusional White House...

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ISIL Fighters ‘Besieged’ in Syria’s al-Bab in Aleppo (VIDEO)

ISIL is now surrounded by Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, monitoring group says. Syrian government forces have advanced on the ISIL-held city of al-Bab, cutting off the last supply route that connects it to the armed group’s strongholds further east towards Iraq, according to a monitoring group. ISIL fighters in the area are now effectively surrounded by the Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, as Damascus and Ankara race to capture the largest stronghold of the armed group in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. Syrian rebels meet fierce ISIL resistance in al-Bab The British-based war monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s conflict, added that the army and allied militia had made gains southeast of al-Bab overnight and fought ISIL there on Monday. Backed by air strikes, they severed a road...

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Echoes of Iraq Heard in Latest Threats Against Iran

by Ben Schreiner – (Screenshot via CNN) Marx offered that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.  A mere two weeks into the reign of a new administration in Washington, it appears the farce has already commenced. In an eerie parallel to the George W. Bush administration’s fevered fixation on “regime change” in Iraq from its very earliest days, the freshly minted Donald Trump administration has wasted little time in laying the groundwork for a disastrous military confrontation with Iran. Appearing before the White House press corps last Wednesday, Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn provocatively boasted that the administration was now “officially putting Iran on notice.” The following day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to further explain Flynn’s “on notice” broadside by carelessly conflating a Saudi naval vessel with an American vessel and Yemeni Houthi rebels with Iranian forces.  According to Spicer, Iran is “on notice”...

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NATO Calls on Russia to Stop Violence in Ukraine

NATO chief says Russia must end the violence as both sides move heavy artillery close to front line. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to use its “considerable influence” to end fighting in eastern Ukraine after a renewed surge in violence there. Moscow-backed rebels and government forces have trade blame for the flare-up in the industrial east that has seen the highest casualty rate since mid-December and cut off power and water to thousands of civilians on both sides of the front line. The shelling eased on Wednesday, but the January 29 to 31 clashes near the Kiev-held front line town of Avdiyivka brought the festering conflict back into focus amid warnings of a looming humanitarian crisis. “We call for an immediate return to the ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels. “We call on Russia to use its considerable influence over the separatists to bring the violence...

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White House says Raid that Killed Civilians and a SEAL was ‘Successful Operation by all Standards’

by Aaron Rupar – Military officials said the Trump administration acted on insufficient intelligence. During his press conference on Thursday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterized President Trump’s first military raid — an action against al Qaeda in Yemen on Sunday that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and many civilians — as a “successful operation by all standards.” “It’s hard to ever call something a complete success when you have loss of life or people injured, but I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions and probably throughout the world, in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards,” Spicer said. Yemeni officials say 16 civilians — eight women and eight children — were killed, while medics at the scene said the number of...

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U.S. Military Officials Find that Trump’s First Counterterrorism Operation was Unprepared

by First Amendment – What a clusterf**k. Donald Trump is totally unprepared to run our country. Trump administration is a complete disaster. They can only be counted on to f**k up anything they touch. Trump administration drops SEAL team into reinforced Al Qaeda base that was defended by landmines and snipers and without sufficient intelligence, ground support and adequate backup preparations! Women and children killed in fierce firefight. SEAL team member killed. Totally unprepared and it cost many lives. We heard about Benghazi for months and just two weeks into Trumpland they have this massive screw up. Will there be outrage from Republicans? Don’t count on it, as they’re drunk with power and couldn’t care less. Without any conscience or sense of duty to country coming from Republicans, this will almost certainly be repeated. mobile.reuters.com/… U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens died in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14...

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Israel Begins Evacuation of Illegal Amona Outpost

Israeli police move to clear West Bank settlement as construction of 3,000 new settler homes announced elsewhere. Hundreds of Israeli border police have entered a hardline Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank Wednesday to evict its residents after a court ruled the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Hundreds of officers marched into the Amona outpost near Ramallah on Wednesday, just hours after the Israeli government announced that another 3,000 more illegal homes would be built in occupied Palestinian territory. The officers’ evacuation of Amona marked the end of months of attempts by government hardliners to legalise the outpost, and the approval over the past two weeks of nearly 5,000 new settler homes elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories was widely seen as a move to win their support. There had been fears of violence after hundreds of hardline sympathisers of the settlers slipped past army roadblocks on...

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White House is ‘Putting Iran on Notice’ While Ignoring Russia’s Alleged Escalation in Ukraine

by Aaron Rupar – Iran test-fired a missile. Russia is accused of escalating an illegal war. During the White House press conference on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the administration is “officially putting Iran on notice” in response to the country recently test-firing a ballistic missile. Flynn — a staunch opponent of the Iran nuclear deal who last year tweeted on separate occasions that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” and dared “Arab & Persian world ‘leaders’ to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed” — blamed Obama for the alleged provocation. “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk. President Trump has severely criticized the...

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LA Converts Abandoned Motels into Apartments for Homeless Veterans

by Brianna Acuesta – This creative solution is helping hundreds of homeless veterans find housing. Cities around the world have implemented countless programs and methods to combat homelessness on their streets, especially when many of those homeless people at one point fought in their country’s military. Though many programs fail to meet the needs of homeless people, some are successful in permanently housing these people and even addressing the problems that caused them to turn to the streets in the first place. One such program is an idea adopted by the city of Los Angeles and the organizations working inside the huge city to end homelessness. When the infrastructure of the city began to change, motels that were once constantly busy turned into financial black holes that were no longer viable. As a result, many of these broken down motels were closed and abandoned, becoming useless until Step Up, a group...

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Trump and Bannon’s “America First”

by Robert Reich – Donald Trump has reorganized the National Security Council – elevating his chief political strategist Steve Bannon, and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, the top inter-agency group advising the President on national security. Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed,” according to the presidential memorandum issued Saturday. Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice. But forget facts. Forget analysis. This is the Trump administration. And what does Bannon have to bring to the table? In case you forgot, before joining Donald Trump’s inner circle Bannon headed Breitbart News, a far-right...

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Mikhail Gorbachev: Appears ‘The World Is Preparing for War’

by Andrea Germanos – ‘Wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war,’ writes former Soviet leader. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that it appears “as if the world is preparing for war.” Writing in an op-ed published Thursday at TIME magazine, Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War, writes that the most pressing problem facing the world is “the militarization of politics and the new arms race.” State budgets, he continues, claim austerity to sacrifice social spending, but easily back funding for weapons of war. At the same time, he writes of the buildup on Russia’s borders: “NATO and Russian forces and weapons” are now in close proximity “as if to shoot point-blank.” He continues: Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and...

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Federal Hiring Freeze will Kneecap Veterans more than Perhaps any Other Group

by Kerry Eleveld – Without bothering to check the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday that Donald Trump’s hiring freeze on nonmilitary federal employees would combat the “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” But the only thing it will actually combat is veterans’ services and employment opportunities. Federal hiring has been significantly outpaced “in recent years” by the increase in civilian hiring—rising only about 3 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared to a 4.9 percent jump in civilian workers. Christopher Ingraham writes: As a share of the total civilian workforce, in percentage terms, the federal workforce is smaller than it’s been in nearly 70 years. There’s considerable doubt about the efficacy of hiring freezes as a federal management tool. A 1982 Government Accountability Office report found that “governmentwide hiring freezes, regardless of how well they are managed, are not an effective means of controlling federal employment.” The report...

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UN Condemns Huge Israeli Settlement Plan (VIDEO)

UN joins EU in denouncing Israeli move, as Palestinians call on more support against illegal settlement activity. The United Nations has denounced recent Israeli initiatives to accelerate settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory, stressing that “unilateral actions” are an obstacle to peace based on a two-state solution. “For the secretary-general there is no plan B for the two-states solution,” UN chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday. “In this respect any unilateral decision that can be an obstacle to the two-state goal is of grave concern for the secretary-general.” Israel approved a plan to build 2,500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, two days after it accepted building permits for more than 500 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The biggest settlement plan announced since 2013, it comes close after the election of US President Donald Trump, who has not been critical of...

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State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation. Waterboarding, which involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning, has long been considered torture, which is a war crime under US and international law. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding as a war crime after World War II. In late November 2016, Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out torture in the Trump administration. Torture Is Always Illegal What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that...

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Report Warns Trump Against Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal (VIDEO)

by Megan O’Toole – Ending the agreement would lead to ‘unfathomable consequences’ throughout the region, International Crisis Group says. Should the Iran nuclear deal fall apart, the consequences for the Middle East region would be “unfathomable”, according to a new report from the International Crisis Group. The report, coming on the eve on Donald Trump’s inauguration, urges the US president-elect to preserve and strengthen the landmark agreement, rather than tear it up as he has threatened to do. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took effect one year ago, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment programme in return for sanctions relief – a pact derided by Trump as the “worst deal ever negotiated”. “Any attempt by the Trump administration to undercut the deal in the hope of ‘fixing’ it is likely to backfire … Moreover, by destabilising the JCPOA, the new administration could usher in what it...

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Trump Declares NATO ‘Obsolete,’ Wants European Union Disbanded in Frightening Interview

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump is paving the way for Russian aggression against Europe and admitted it during an interview with European newspapers. Trump has had a cozy relationship with Putin ever since Russia helped him win the election in November. In fact, that was the consummation of a relationship that began months earlier when Trump started attacking NATO and made it clear that he intends to eliminate sanctions that were slapped against Russia after Putin seized the Crimea from Ukraine. Now Trump is practically inviting Russia to be more aggressive in Putin’s pursuit of tyrannical rule. “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems,” Trump told the Times of London on Sunday. “Number one it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying.” Trump then went on to praise Putin and...

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Trump’s Sec. of State Nominee, Tillerson, has a Plan to Defeat ISIS, and it’s not Very Good

by Justin Salhani – And it could greatly upset a key U.S. ally. During the hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, the candidate, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, pinpointed what he views as the gravest threat to the United States: ISIS. He also laid out a very basic plan in defeating ISIS. “In the case of the most immediate threat of ISIS — can we construct a renewed coalition using the forces that are already there, including the Syrian Kurds, which have been our greatest allies,” Tillerson told the panel. “We recommit to the Syrian Kurds that we intend to continue to support you with the capability to continue the advance on Raqqa and then build coalition forces that can contain ISIS if it attempts to move into this other part of the country. And eliminate them from Syria.” Watch: There’s one major...

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Abbas Warns Trump not to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem (VIDEOS)

Palestinian leader tells US president-elect that a relocation would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process”. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has written to US President-elect Donald Trump telling him not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian media reports. Trump has said at various times that he plans to relocate the embassy, and last month chose David Friedman, a right-wing lawyer who has pledged to move the mission to Jerusalem, as his ambassador to Israel. ‘The settlers and the guards harass us and our children’ In an official letter, Abbas gave warning that such a move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”, Palestinian news agency Wafa said on Monday. Wafa, which did not specify when the letter had been sent, said Abbas aimed to explain the “risks”...

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ISIL Ramps up Fight with Weaponized Drones

by John Beck – In addition to using drones for reconnaissance in Iraq, ISIL has been sending them out with bombs attached. Mosul, Iraq – As fighting raged in eastern Mosul on a recent afternoon, a black Humvee arrived at an Iraqi army command post with a collection of plastics, electronics and rotor blades lashed to its back. Soldiers leaped to unload the cargo, which comprised the remnants of the latest tool in ISIL’s armoury: drones. The haul included a number of small devices of the kind favoured by filmmakers and hobbyists, costing a few hundred dollars apiece. But there were also larger, fixed-wing craft fashioned out of corrugated plastic and duct tape, apparently made by the fighters themselves. Since mid-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group has held Mosul, after sweeping through northern Iraq in a shock offensive. It is now their...

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The Assad Conundrum (VIDEO)

by John Bell – Some argued that without his rule, radical Islamists such as ISIL would take over Syria. It is safe to say that, until recently, the debate over Syria’s political future came down to one thing: the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. With his victory in Aleppo, and the firm support of Iran and Russia, it is also fairly safe to say that the Syrian president’s future is secure, for the time being. What is it about Assad that has made him such a key issue? Some argued that without his rule, radical Islamists (ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham etc) would take over Syria. This has not only presented a threat to Syria and its minorities, but it was a problem for Europe, Russia and beyond. As Russia, Iran and Assad have repeated: only Assad and his system can effectively keep them at bay. The counterargument has been that it...

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Netanyahu Calls for Pardon of Convicted Soldier Azaria (VIDEO)

Israeli prime minister calls for pardon after military court convicts soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier found guilty of manslaughter after he shot and killed a wounded Palestinian last year. “This is a difficult and painful day – first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel’s soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me … I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria,” Netanyahu said Wednesday on his Facebook page. The country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who has the authority to issue pardons, said he will wait for the legal process to run its course before making a decision. “In the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the president in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities,” he said in presidential statement. The remarks were...

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White House Expects More Guantanamo Transfers

The White House ignores President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze transfers from the Guantanamo Bay. The US government has pledged to move ahead with the transfer of inmates out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze. With President Barack Obama set to leave office on January 20, White House spokesman Josh Earnest put Trump on notice on Tuesday that more inmates would be moved. “I would expect, at this point, additional transfers,” he said. Earnest’s comments come just hours after Trump tweeted that “there should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”  Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield. There are 59 prisoners remaining at the controversial detention...

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6 Foreign Hotspots the Trump Administration Will Have to Deal With in 2017

by Ed Krayewski – As the world turns. 2016 is mercifully coming to an end this weekend, and the Obama presidency will end less than three weeks later. Despite Donald Trump’s insistence that he’ll do things differently, January 20, 2017 will be no more a clean break from the past than January 20, 2009, was, especially when it comes to the exercise of U.S. foreign policy abroad. Both Barack Obama and Trump made a change in foreign policy part of their successful first presidential campaigns—for both, that promise of change was nebulous and uncertain. It allowed people with all different kinds of ideas about U.S. foreign policy to believe his vision would comport with their own. President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, just 10 months into office. He leaves office with a war in Afghanistan that’s gone on longer than the Civil War, World War I, and...

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Nuclear Experts Warn Trump: Do Not Torpedo Successful Iran Deal

by Lauren McCauley – Dozens of top scientists say the deal has led to greater non-proliferation in the region. President-elect Donald Trump has said that his “number one priority is to dismantle” the Iran nuclear accord, but dozens of the nation’s preeminent scientists and nuclear experts sent the incoming leader a strongly-worded letter (pdf) on Monday urging him not to do so, saying that the deal “has dramatically reduced the risk” of nuclear weapons in Iran. In turn, the scientists note, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is formally known, “has lowered the pressure felt by Iran’s neighbors to develop their own nuclear weapons options and none has announced a new dual-use nuclear program of its own,” referring to possible military use of civilian nuclear power technology. The letter, initiated by IBM Fellow Emeritus Richard L. Garwin, is meant to serve as an “assessment of the current...

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Istanbul: ISIL Claims Responsibility for Reina Attack (VIDEO)

Group says it carried out New Year’s Eve raid on Istanbul nightclub where “Christians celebrate their apostate holiday”. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group released on Monday a statement claiming responsibility for the raid. “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday,” the statement said. The announcement came as a manhunt was under way in Turkey for at least one assailant who attacked those celebrating New Year at the Reina nightclub. Shortly after the ISIL claim, AFP news agency citing local media said that police have detained eight suspects over the...

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Coming to Our Senses Regarding Nukes

by Robert Dodge – As part of President-Elect Trumps daily tweets this past week he stated: The United States must greatly strengthen its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.  In his 140 character tome he proposes maintaining a status quo of the mythology of nuclear deterrence and self-assured destruction (SAD) or a “coming to senses” of the nuclear states.  As President of the United States, he will have a significant role to play in determining which path is followed. He can lead us further down the road toward nuclear annihilation or lead us at long last to nuclear abolition and a world free of nuclear weapons.   Nuclear deterrence is indeed a myth propagated for 71 years since the beginning of the nuclear age. Rather than deterring a nuclear arms buildup, it is instead the greatest driver of the arms race as each...

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Iraq Resumes Mosul Operation After a Two-Week Lull (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces launch the “second phase” of the battle to retake eastern Mosul from ISIL. Iraqi troops backed by US-led air strikes have pushed deeper into eastern Mosul after a two-week lull in the operation to retake the city held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a senior officer in Iraq’s counterterrorism service, said the second phase of the operation, now in its third month, began on Thursday. He told the AFP news agency that forces began advancing towards the Quds neighbourhood. “Now our forces clashed with the enemy and there is resistance,” al-Assadi said, adding that forces on the northern and southern fronts were also advancing. Special elite forces also pushed into the Karama neighbourhood, while army troops and federal police advanced into nearby Intisar, Salam and Sumor neighbourhoods, the AP news agency reported. Smoke...

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Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

by Nadia Prupis – Even as other nations tighten budgets for weapons amid domestic financial concerns, US manages to sell $40 billion in one year. The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report. At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items. The report (pdf) was published by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts national policy analysis for Congress. It looked at conventional arms transfers to developing nations from 2008 to 2015. Russia sold $11.1 billion, a slight drop from its 2014 count at $11.2 billion. China sold $6 billion, doubling its output from last year. The leading...

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Turkey and Russia ‘Agree’ on Nationwide Syria Ceasefire

Truce, excluding areas where Assad forces are battling “terrorist” groups, may come into effect by Wednesday midnight. Turkey and Russia have agreed on a countrywide ceasefire plan for Syria, except for areas where government forces are battling armed groups declared terrorist organisations by the United Nations. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that a ceasefire plan had been submitted to Syria’s rival parties and could come into force as soon as midnight 22:00 GMT. Citing a source who requested anonymity, Anadolu said “terrorist organisations” would be excluded from the deal. I am a Syrian Child This would most certainly exclude the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front. The source also said that if the ceasefire succeeded, political negotiations would start in the Kazakh capital, Astana, under Turkey and Russia’s guidance. Samir Nashar, a Syrian...

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‘Let It Be an Arms Race’: Trump Clarifies Tweet on Expanding Nuclear Stockpile (VIDEO)

by Nadia Prupis – President-elect’s explanation seems to call even more explicitly for nuclear war games. “Let it be an arms race.” That’s how President-elect Donald Trump clarified a tweet he sent Thursday which said the U.S. must “strengthen and expand” its nuclear arsenal, a remark that set off warnings and calls for explanation. He then spoke on the phone with MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, who reported on air Friday morning that the president-elect said, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass.” Co-host Joe Scarborough added, “And outlast them all.” “And outlast them all,” Brzezinski confirmed. Both hosts were seated in front of a fireplace wearing pajamas and slippers. Watch below: Trump on Thursday tweeted that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”—a statement that seemingly echoed Russian...

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Saddam Hussein Was Not ‘Worth Removing From Power’: Ex-CIA Agent

by Nadia Prupis – New memoir details institutional failings that led to catastrophic invasion of Iraq and rise of Islamic State. A former CIA analyst who personally interrogated Saddam Hussein said the U.S. “got it so wrong” on the invasion of Iraq and should have left the now-deceased leader in power. In an excerpt from a memoir about his time with the agency, Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein, former analyst John Nixon—who was the first officer to question Hussein after his capture in December 2003—writes that the Ba’athist president was not “worth removing from power,” and that the decision to do so needs to be viewed in the context of what came next: the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). Nixon writes: Today, a decade following Saddam’s execution, with ISIS’s black flags still unfurled over sections of Iraq, we need to ask ourselves some provocative questions. One of...

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Aleppo Evacuation Will be Complete ‘In Days’ (VIDEOS)

Russian and Turkish ministers expect operation to be complete by the week’s end as Syria agrees to sending UN observers. The evacuation of Aleppo should take no more than two days, Russian and Turkish foreign ministers say, following a rare breakthrough and show of unity by world powers over Syria that allows UN monitors to observe the operation. A total 37,500 evacuees have so far left the war-torn Syrian city and the goal is to complete all evacuations by Wednesday, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish foreign minister,   wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. The evacuation of of Aleppo would be complete in a maximum of two days, Sergey Lavrov,  Russia’s foreign minister,  said. UN passes resolution on monitors for Aleppo Lavrov said that Russia, Iran and Turkey had used their influence to make the evacuation happen and that the 19-member International Syria Support Group including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US...

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What are President Putin’s Plans for Syria? (VIDEO)

With the evacuation of Aleppo under way, the Russian leader turns his attention to a political settlement. It has been a stop-go situation in east Aleppo as thousands of Syrians – both civilians and rebel fighters – are still waiting to get out. The chaotic process has already been halted several times. Activists say government forces opened fire on convoy trucks on Friday. But the government says it was the rebels who started shooting at the troops. Russia, Syria’s ally, is playing a major role in the operation. Its soldiers are in control of checkpoints along the route out of eastern Aleppo. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is trying to organise peace talks on Syria, possibly in Kazakhstan. Turkey would be involved but significantly, both the UN and the US would be excluded. What is Putin’s game and what does he hope to gain? Presenter: Dareen Abughaida Guests: Marwan Kabalan...

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