Thursday, June 30, 2016

Iran-Saudi Cold War Reaches Japan

'Simmering Proxy Conflict' Suddenly Involves Key US Ally

Bloomberg's David Fickling writes:

Iran's simmering proxy conflict with Saudi Arabia is cropping up all over the place. 
Riyadh helped crush an Arab Spring uprising in Shiite-majority Bahrain in 2011, and friction between the two countries has fueled civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Attempts to reignite oil prices earlier this year were thrown into disarray when Iran refused to attend an oil producers' meeting in Doha. 
Now the Iran-Saudi cold war has made it to Japan.

Read more.

Washington, DC is Home to The World's Only Espionage Museum

Britain's 'Blond Bond' Used the Bedroom as He Used His Beretta

Amazing True Story of #WWII Heroism 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Explorations into the Hidden History of American Foreign Policy

Banned by CNN and MSNBC, Ignored by Hillary Clinton's Supporters ...

Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers and Overthrow 

David Talbot, author of The Devil's Chessboard 

Friday, June 24, 2016


By Luis Ramirez, VOA

LONDON—Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forecasts show, with nearly all of the votes counted.

British broadcasters BBC, ITV and Sky News all called the vote in favor of the leave camp, with nearly 52 percent voting to exit the EU.

The turnout was high in a vote that touches on immigration, sovereignty, security and Britain’s economic future, Britain's electoral commission said.

"Counting Officers have verified that a total of 33,568,184 ballot papers will be included in the count for the referendum. Based on a confirmed electorate of 46,500,001, turnout at the referendum was 72.2 percent," the commission said in a statement.

The leader of the Leave campaign, Nigel Farage said June 23 will go down as "Independence Day" in Britain’s history and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to resign following the leave vote.

The uncertainty that will follow Britain's exit sent the pound tumbling, and it was down more than five percent overnight in London.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interpol Asks Public to Help Catch Migrant Smugglers

By VOA News

Interpol has called on the public to help them search for 11 migrant smugglers on Thursday.
The international police organization, based in France, has already arrested 26 people across several countries who have been accused of being involved in migrant smuggling.

“The criminal networks involved have no regard for the safety or well being of the people using their illegal services, they are just another commodity for them to trade, as we have seen with tragic results around the world," said Michael O'Connell, director of interpol's operational support unit.

“Operation Hydra is aimed at dismantling these networks, to stop them from profiting from the desperation of people and bringing those responsible to justice, and we would encourage anyone with information to come forward,” he concluded.

Interpol posted pictures of the 11 suspects on their website Thursday, calling on anyone with information to step forward; however, they stressed the difficulties of catching migrant smugglers, as victims are most often unwilling or unable to share details.

Individuals suspected of migrant smuggling make thousands of dollars for each person they offer to bring to Europe, with one Albanian smuggling group charging as much as $16,000 per person to be smuggled by boat from France to England, according to the Interpol.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Russia, NATO, and the Hubris of the US Political Establishment

By Ron Forthofer

There are dangerous provocations along Russia's western border that have received little or incredibly one-sided coverage by the U.S. media. Thus the U.S. public is not aware of the possibility of a major conflict between two nuclear-armed powers occurring due to an accident or misinterpretation. The genesis of this current situation goes back in ancient history to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After the fall, the U.S. along with the West German leader Helmut Kohl, pushed for the reunification of West and East Germany. The Soviet Union allowed reunification based on the promise made by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (under President H.W. Bush). Baker said if the Soviets would allow reunification, that NATO would not expand "one inch" further east.

This promise was key for the Soviets who remembered previous devastating invasions by Western European nations. For example, during WWII estimates are that the Soviet Union lost over 26 million people, about 13% of its 1939 population. The Soviet Union was thus understandably concerned about a possibly hostile military group coming closer to its border.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the U.S. had unchallenged military power. Given this situation, the Washington establishment increased the risk of a new cold war and the possibility of an eventual war with Russia. President Bill Clinton started this process when, in violation of the promise made to the Soviets, he supported the eastward expansion of NATO.

In 1996, George Kennan, architect of the U.S. containment policy towards the Soviet Union after WWII, warned that NATO's expansion into former Soviet territories would be a "strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions." In 1998, Thomas Friedman solicited Kennan's reaction to the Senate's ratification of NATO's eastward expansion. Kennan said: ''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else."

Unfortunately, Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama failed to heed Kennan's wisdom and continued NATO's eastward expansion. Given Russia's weakened state in the 1990s, the political establishment thought there was little risk. However, while the U.S. was destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia rebuilt its military. Blinded by its hubris, the U.S. political establishment was slow to grasp the impact of the rebirth of a strong rival.

In April 2008 at a NATO summit in Bucharest, NATO temporarily postponed discussion of membership for Georgia and Ukraine. At the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly opposed NATO membership for both of these nations on Russia's border, viewing their membership as a security threat.

Reinforcing this point, later in 2008 Russia used military force to protect two breakaway provinces of Georgia with the goal of preventing Georgia from joining NATO. Despite Putin's strong warning and military action, after the 2010 election of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the U.S. increased its support of Ukrainians who favored connections with the West.

Removing Yanukovych, who opposed NATO membership, was the first step. In February 2014 after months of nonviolent protests, Yanukovych reached an agreement, mediated by EU foreign ministers, with the nonviolent political opposition for early elections. However, immediately following this compromise, members of the far right used violence and intimidation to oust Yanukovych. George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor, a U.S. firm known as the 'Shadow CIA', said: "It really was the most blatant coup in history."

In response, in late February and early March 2014, Russia deployed some of its forces already in Crimea under a treaty and took control, conducted a vote that showed overwhelming support for rejoining Russia, and then annexed Crimea. The results of a vote in this situation may be suspect. However, it is likely that a vote conducted without the presence of the Russian troops would have yielded similar results. The U.S. also alleges that Russia provided militarily support to the Ukrainians in breakaway areas who opposed the far-right coup. There was initially intense fighting in these breakaway areas. Even though there have been ceasefire agreements, attacks by the Kiev government continue today with neo-Nazis playing an important role in the violence against the coup opponents.

Since these events, the U.S. and NATO have raised the ante by placing additional weapons systems and planning on rotating thousands of additional troops in Eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO claimed their actions were prompted by Russia's actions in Crimea and the breakaway areas. In response to these moves, Russia announced plans to create three new divisions.

Posturing continues by both sides. During U.S. military exercises with Poland in the Baltic Sea in April 2016, two unarmed Russian jets came dangerously close to the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer. Adding to the tension, NATO recently concluded military exercises in the Baltic Sea area and also a massive military exercise with approximately 30,000 troops in Poland. The U.S. also has temporarily deployed a guided missile destroyer, the USS Porter, to the Black Sea for a brief tour there.

A mistake or misinterpretation could spark a conflict that no one wants. Given this possibility, why does the U.S. continue along this path when further expansion of NATO is not vital to U.S. security? Of particular importance and relevance, remember that this expansion is in violation of a U.S. promise not to expand NATO to the east. Since Russia views the expansion as a major threat to its security, Putin and Russia cannot back down. Amazingly, when we need statesmen, the geniuses in our political establishment think provoking another nuclear-armed power is a sane policy. If this establishment doesn't face reality soon, Kennan's worst fears could be realized.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and was a Green Party candidate for Congress and also for governor of Colorado.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Remembering Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Diplomat Who Risked His Own Life to Save Thousands of Jews During the Holocaust 

In a time of unfathomable horrors a courageous diplomat chose kindness.

Click here to read about Chiune Sugihara, below to view the documentary trailer.

SUGIHARA Conspiracy of Kindness Trailer from diane estelle Vicari on Vimeo.