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Initial Thoughts on the Mid Term Election Results – Right wing juggernaut was slowed, but not stopped (for discussion)

November 7, 2018

Initial Thoughts on the Mid Term Election Results – Right wing juggernaut was slowed, but not stopped. It is a minor set back for the Republicans with mixed results (as detailed below) but even a minor setback can cause difficulties for Trump within his party. Situation in the country remains fluid, but still markedly tilted to the right. It will take more than elections (ie – Grassroots organizing to turn the tide).

When Trumpty-Dumpty says that the election results were a “great victory” for Republicans, – translated it means the Republicans didn’t do as badly as he/they feared but better than the Democrats predicted.

On the national level:

The fact that the Republicans increased their strength in the Senate they will be able to fill federal judicial offices with probable control for a long time to come. This result is catastrophic for Democrats and will have dark long term consequences.
• But then the Republicans took a beating in the House of Representatives – although not as badly as the Dems hoped and predicted. As a result, the House Dems now will be able to challenge Trump on fiscal policy and tax issues some. This somewhat blunts the Trump Administration’s ability to implement repressive and racist legislation. It also means that the Democrats will be able harass the Trump Administration with more investigations.
• The Democrats gained 7 gubernatorial races ad now control 22 state executives. But the Republicans still have governors in 25 states. This means the Republicans will still be able to gerrymander election results for at least the next decade…although not as aggressively as they did in the past. Read more…

Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part Two – Some Strategic Considerations

November 5, 2018

Rally against the nuclear arms race, June 1982, Denver, Colorado. It coincided with what is referred to as the Second Session on Disarmament at the United Nations in New York. There, a million people demonstrated against the nuclear arms race. In Denver, I don’t remember the number, but believe it was between 25,00-30,000, one of the largest in Colorado until Trumpty-Dumpty was elected and hundreds of thousands took to the street in protest. We’re (we = the world) are going to have to get back in the streets again on this one.

Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part Two. (Part One) (Part Three)

1.  Some Global Considerations Behind Trident Juncture 18

Trident Juncture 18, the largest NATO military maneuvers in nearly forty years in northern Norway and the adjoining Arctic Ocean are about to come to an end. They were meant, essentially, to scare the bejesus out of Russia and I have little doubt that they did just that. NATO is preparing for war against Russia. There is no other reasonable conclusion that one can make from the evidence presented. Driven by Washington, if NATO is preparing for war, what kind of war could it be other than nuclear war.

In the midst of these maneuvers close to the Russian border, as a kind of icing on the cake to put the Russians in their place, U.S. President Trump announced that the United States would soon be withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty for short). A double whammy – first the maneuvers themselves, then the announcement of the political consequence: a renewed nuclear weapons arms race.

Having withdrawn the United States from Paris Climate Accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known in the USA as the misleading “Iran Nuclear Deal,” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Social Organization (UNESCO), his recent announcement that now the United States is pulling out of I.N.F. Treaty – as ominous a development as it appears – should come as no great surprise. Read more…

Trump Pushes the Envelope: NATO Military Exercises Near Russian Border in Northern Norway – August – November, 2018: Part One

November 2, 2018

 

Area of military exercises

There is a long post WW2 history of US plans to militarize the Arctic; these plans go back to 1946 with plans to encircle the Soviet Union to limit their influence in Europe after the war. Norway figured large in these plans and its postwar leadership, purged of the left elements who had been among the most active elements in the Norwegian resistance against the Nazis, Norway essentially gave itself over to US plans. Early on radar and sophisticated listening devices were installed transforming Norway into a base for intelligence and sabotage. The militarization of the North also included the building of a major U.S. military base on the Danish controlled mega-Island of Greenland and a complex radar and anti-missile system established in northern Canada. Virtually almost immediately after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, through NATO – using Eastern European and Russian instability as the pretext – the United States began an intensified U.S. military build up in Europe’s most northern sectors, drawing in both Sweden and Finland, both of which, while not formal members of the alliance, have been drawn in to a great degree, this despite the denials, increasingly hollow, of their governments. (1) (for Part 2, click here) (for Part 3)

1.

On the phone with an old friend in Helsinki. He was a little boy when I knew him there, now a full-grown man in his early forties who spent a good part of his life struggling  with drug demons. He overcome them, no small feat. At the end of a conversation about possible trips to India and Thailand to escape the dark Finnish winter, he casually mentions, with some displeasure, that Finland, along with Sweden and 29 NATO countries, is participating in the NATO military exercises, Trident Juncture 18 (TRJE18), in the north of Norway. It is the largest of its kind in Norway since the 1980s, ie, before the end of the Cold War.

Part of the exercise includes air activity in the airspace not only of Norway but of Sweden and Finland. Although Sweden and Finland are not formally members of NATO, their militaries have been increasingly integrated into NATO military plans. As for NATO member Norway, it has hosted a permanent deployment of 700 U.S. marines from Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. The United Kingdom has announced that it will soon send some 800 commandos to re-enforce the U.S. military presence.

Statements, like those of NATO Secretary General Jens Stolenberg that “the exercises are not directed against any specific country” cannot be taken seriously. They are little more than public relations drivel. Of course the exercises are a major provocation against Russia, nothing less. Driven by Washington, if NATO is preparing for war, what kind of war could it be other than nuclear war. Read more…

Jamal Kashoggi and the Emerging Tripartite Negotiations – A Deal in the Making?

October 25, 2018
SYRIA_IDLIB_MAP_AUG_2018

Idlib Province, Syria…last mercenary stronghold, about to be liberated

As the dust settles now 23 days after the vile highly planned murder of Khashoggi, here are thoughts what happened and why, where the situation is going.

The most important development at the moment – the three main players center stage – Salman, Trump and Erdogan – are in the process of trying to work out some kind of triangular deal in order to stem the global anger over this incident. The essence of the deal is that neither King Salman nor his son, Mohammed bin Salman, will be held responsible for Jamal Kashoggi’s vile murder, a number of Saudi intelligence officers and military personnel will be targeted (and have already) as fall guys. There is a good deal of horse trading going on over what Saudi will have to give in exchange, some of the parameters of which are discussed below. Will the deal hold? Or will it break apart?

What has come rushing to the surface though in a most open manner is the profound bankruptcy, backwardness of the Saudi government as well as the long-term bankruptcy of the U.S.-Saudi political and economic cooperation. None of this is new to anyone having followed those relations over the years, but now they come out of the closet, so to speak. The allusion of Saudi as “a moderate” Arab state has just suffered an irreparable blow to their image.

As to how it will effect the balance of power in the Middle East in general and U.S. Saudi relations in particular, given how much Washington has invested in this relationship, most especially the Trump Administration, it is no so easy to see the U.S. changing course. Israel too is counting on Salman’s political survival as the alliance between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, long in the shadows, has come public full force of late. That said, there are pressures building up under the surface, both in Saudi and in Washington and who knows in what manner they will burst forth. Read more…

“From Lockerbei To Istanbul – Kashoggi’s Murder in Historical and Regional Perspective.” Hear Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince on KGNU Boulder (88.5 FM, 1390 Am, Streaming at www.kgnu.org) on Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues hosted by Jim Nelson. Tues, October 23, 2018 @ 6-7 pm Mountain States Time

October 22, 2018

While the media focuses on the brutal murder of one man, admittedly a heinous act, the UN Warns 10 Million More Yemenis Expected to Starve to Death by End of Year. According to the UN, the number of Yemenis in danger of starving to death would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by this December. That’s three times the estimated death toll of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

The murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist and political insider Jamal Kashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Turkey has triggered a storm of protest, unprecedented in many ways. He certainly is not the first journalist who has been killed in the line of duty nor the only Saudi  a victim of his country’s repressive practices. Nor, despite the effort to paint him as such, was he a great democrat nor particularly that much of a dissident if one is objective about it. Instead he was the consummate insider with a long history of being close to certain members of the Saudi royal family. One commentator simply put it “he bet on the wrong princes.”

Why was Kashoggi murdered in such a barbaric what did he know? Who benefits from his death? How is the whole affair shaping the geopolitics of the Middle East as the Syrian government, with Russian and Iranian support are preparing to cleanse Syria’s Idlib Province of mercenary forces? Will it change U.S.-Saudi Relations? Why is the Israeli media from the more conservative Jerusalem Post to the more liberal Haaretz – in tandem with Christian Fundamentalist ultra-conservative Pat Robinson publicly arguing against holding Saudi Arabia accountable (while saying little or nothing about the Saudi war against Yemen?

Tune in at KGNU’s Hemispheres “Middle East Dialogues” 1390 AM, 88.5 FM in Denver, live streamed at http://www.kgnu.org

The Khashoggi Affair…First Take: Trump Emerges As The Big Financial Winner…

October 17, 2018

Poverty In Saudi

As to what happened with Jamal Khashoggi and why…Frankly I don’t think we’ll ever know all the details…but now a nearly two weeks later there are some themes that are emerging…

Basically Khashossi is a man who knew too much, about Turkish, Saudi machinations here and there (Syria, 9-11) ..and with his death a number of possible embarrassments for both the Saudi and Turkish government are less likely to see the light of day. Plus as one knowledgeable commentator, As’ad Abukhalil, noted, “he did not bet on democracy in Saudi Arabia, he bet on the wrong princes.”

Ultimately, a man who is known to be a part of the Muslim Brotherhood network, yet close to the Wahhahbist leadership of Saudi Arabia not only has intimate knowledge of these two competing wings of Sunni Islam, but also probably knows what Washington has been up to as well. Thus for different reasons and probably with different levels of involvement, all three would not shed too many tears at his death and were willing to sacrifice him for “higher causes” – ie, protecting their own reputations.

There are some suggestions, yet to be proven – that all three of the main players – Saudi, Turkey and the U.S. had prior knowledge that some foul deed would occur to Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul and to one degree or another are complicit in Khashoggi’s cruel fate. While the Saudis are ultimately responsible for killing him, one of their own, none of these three are innocent. A killing of this nature – torture, murder and the hack-sawing of the body – could not take place without the approval of the highest authorities in Saudi. To think otherwise is to more than a bit naive.

Mohammad bin Salman, de facto ruler of Saudi has changed the rules by which key decision sin the kingdom are made. Before his coming to power and instituting what amounts to a palace coup, decisions were actually made collectively by the king but in cooperation with those closest him. Salman dissolved that system and now rules virtually by himself. Read more…

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Cheyenne Bottoms, Fall, 2018

October 5, 2018

 

Returning to Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Reserve

We came a little earlier this year than last. The migratory birds are arriving from the north,  feeding up a storm, waiting a few days until the winds die down and then heading to points south, the south Texas coast, Central America and even further. But the height of the migratory season at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira is still a couple of weeks away. Managed by the state of Kansas, Cheyenne Bottoms is just north of Great Bend, Kansas, Quivira, a national wildlife preserve, lies some 25 miles south of town.

Taken together the two wetlands are among the world’s most crowded migratory bird stop overs. The data from 143 weather stations gleaned from satellite radar predicts that some four billion – you read correctly – will fly from Canada over the United States during the fall migration this year. They will be met by another 700,000,000 avian residents of the lower 48 states and together the two groups, numbering 4,700,000,000 birds will head to points south this time of year. The birds passing  through Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira in Kansas are a part of a migration through what is called “the central flyover.” Read more…