Tag Archives: US military aggression

US media escalate anti-China propaganda over alleged hacking

By Thomas Gaist
June 6, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

After receiving a quiet go-ahead from the Obama administration this week, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the US television networks trumpeted unsubstantiated accusations that Chinese hackers have stolen personal data on millions of government employees from US government servers.

The alleged cyberattacks, which the corporate media strongly suggests have originated with the Chinese government, supposedly involved lifting files on some 4 million federal workers from servers of the Office of Personnel Management.

While the Obama administration has stopped short of directly accusing the Chinese government of involvement in the hacking, belligerent voices in the media and political establishment are already speaking as if Beijing’s involvement is certain.

None of the media reports is based on actual journalism. Instead, the reporters involved, whether at the major daily newspapers or the television networks, are taking their cues from the White House, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The report by the New York Times, for example, “Chinese Hacking of US Data May Extend to Insurance Companies,” has all the appearances of a semi-official US government press release. It lays out, not demonstrable facts, but rather an argument that serves the political aims of the US ruling class.

In the upside down, war-mongering narrative advanced by the Times, a growing wave of Chinese cyberattacks has been launched against the US, in spite of supposed efforts by the Obama administration to de-escalate cyber-tensions between the two governments.

“The intrusions also suggest that President Obama’s efforts over the past three years to engage China’s leadership in a dialogue that would limit cyberattacks has failed. The pace of the attacks is unabated, and the scope has grown,” the Times warned.

Painting the alleged hacks in grandiose and ominous terms, the Times proclaimed that the world is facing a “new era in cyberespionage,” in which the US population at large will face cyberattacks similar to those allegedly launched against US business and state institutions in recent years.

“Spies are no longer stealing just American corporate and military trade secrets, but also personal information for some later purpose,” the newspaper warned. “The attackers seem to be amassing huge databases of personal information about Americans.”

Readers should perhaps stop now to rub their eyes in disbelief. Only a few days ago, the main news story in the United States was the effort of the US National Security Agency to “amass huge databases of personal information about Americans.”

Moreover, this was accomplished, not by a murky hacking operation, but by a massively funded government program, authorized at the highest levels, that seized all telecommunications and Internet data generated by all telecoms, ISPs and corporations like Google and Yahoo!

The legislation signed into law by Obama Tuesday, and hailed by the Times as a breakthrough for civil liberties, only changed one aspect of this massive surveillance operation—described by the NSA internally as an effort to “capture it all”—by shifting responsibility for collecting telephone metadata from the NSA to the telecoms. All other NSA programs to spy on the American people and the population of the world continue entirely as before.

The media attack on China thus serves two purposes: to distract attention from the real and growing threat to democratic rights and privacy in the United States, which comes from Washington, not Beijing, and to further the campaign of anti-Chinese provocation and saber-rattling which the Obama administration calls its “pivot to Asia.”

Whatever the reality of the latest hacking allegations, the attribution to China is extremely dodgy and unsubstantiated. While the Times assured readers that there is “little doubt among federal officials” that the attacks were launched from China, it acknowledged that the White House has declined to publicly finger the Chinese state as the source “because of a broader diplomatic strategy.”

In part, the unwillingness of the White House to publicly stand behind the accusations against the Chinese government, even as the American corporate media screams them at the top of its lungs, is a demonstration of the extremely inflammatory nature of the charges, which verge on declaring that China is at war with the United States.

Even as it orchestrates a military, political and media campaign aiming to intimidate China and whip up public support for military action in the Far East, the Obama administration wishes to preserve its ability to maneuver diplomatically and extract concessions from Beijing through political and diplomatic pressure.

The announcement that discussion on cyberwarfare will be central to the upcoming meeting between US and Chinese officials on “Economic and Strategic Dialogues” indicates that the issue is being used to bully China.

In April, the US Defense Department issued a report claiming that China launched a wave of hacks against US military information networks during 2014.

It cannot go unremarked that the hysterical condemnations of alleged Chinese cyberattacks by the US establishment have been steadily escalated even as the US has developed massive data mining operations against the Chinese government and military.

NSA internal documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the spy agency has implanted “persistent” forms of malware technology on Chinese servers. Once embedded, the advanced malware technology used by the NSA can remain concealed indefinitely while transmitting data back to its controllers, performing manipulations of infected systems, and replicating itself on other networked computers.

There is little doubt that China conducts cyberespionage against the US government and military. But such efforts are dwarfed by the massive resources employed by the Pentagon, CIA and other US government agencies.

This week’s events make clear that the alleged hacking will provide occasion for expanded use of similar technologies within the US. In response to supposed cyberthreats, the NSA demanded authority this week to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance against US-based Internet users and networks.

Previously, the National Security Agency has technically only enjoyed legal authorization to conduct dragnet electronic surveillance against servers and networks located overseas, despite the fact that the distinction between “overseas data” and “US data” has been rendered largely meaningless by the globalization of production and the revolution in communications and information technology that has unfolded since the 1970s.

“Nuclear War our Likely Future”: Russia and China won’t accept US Hegemony, Paul Craig Roberts

By RT
June 3, 2015
RT

 

25a0a-war-looms-for-obama-in-iran-syria-and-north-korea-img_The White House is determined to block the rise of the key nuclear-armed nations, Russia and China, neither of whom will join the “world’s acceptance of Washington’s hegemony,” says head of the Institute for Political Economy, Paul Craig Roberts.

The former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy, Dr Paul Craig Roberts, has written on his blog that Beijing is currently “confronted with the Pivot to Asia and the construction of new US naval and air bases to ensure Washington’s control of the South China Sea, now defined as an area of American National Interests.”

Roberts writes that Washington’s commitment to contain Russia is the reason “for the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine and for its use as anti-Russian propaganda.”

The author of several books, “How America Was Lost” among the latest titles, says that US “aggression and blatant propaganda have convinced Russia and China that Washington intends war, and this realization has drawn the two countries into a strategic alliance.”

Dr Roberts believes that neither Russia, nor China will meanwhile accept the so-called“vassalage status accepted by the UK, Germany, France and the rest of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.” According to the political analyst, the “price of world peace is the world’s acceptance of Washington’s hegemony.”

“On the foreign policy front, the hubris and arrogance of America’s self-image as the ‘exceptional, indispensable’ country with hegemonic rights over other countries means that the world is primed for war,” Roberts writes.

He gives a gloomy political forecast in his column saying that “unless the dollar and with it US power collapses or Europe finds the courage to break with Washington and to pursue an independent foreign policy, saying good-bye to NATO, nuclear war is our likely future.”

Russia’s far-reaching May 9 Victory Day celebration was meanwhile a “historical turning point,” according to Roberts who says that while Western politicians chose to boycott the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, “the Chinese were there in their place,” China’s president sitting next to President Putin during the military parade on Red Square in Moscow.

A recent poll targeting over 3,000 people in France, Germany and the UK has recently revealed that as little as 13 percent of Europeans think the Soviet Army played the leading role in liberating Europe from Nazism during WW2. The majority of respondents – 43 percent – said the US Army played the main role in liberating Europe.

“Russian casualties compared to the combined casualties of the US, UK, and France make it completely clear that it was Russia that defeated Hitler,” Roberts points out, adding that “in the Orwellian West, the latest rewriting of history leaves out of the story the Red Army’s destruction of the Wehrmacht.”

The head of the presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov, told RT earlier this month that attempts to diminish the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany through rewriting history by some Western countries are part of the ongoing campaign to isolate and alienate Russia.

Dr Roberts has also stated in his column that while the US president only mentioned US forces in his remarks on the 70th anniversary of the victory, President Putin in contrast“expressed gratitude to ‘the peoples of Great Britain, France and the United States of America for their contribution to the victory.’”

The political analyst notes that America along with its allies “do not hear when Russia says ‘don’t push us this hard, we are not your enemy. We want to be your partners.’”

While Moscow and Beijing have “finally realized that their choice is vassalage or war,” Washington “made the mistake that could be fateful for humanity,” according to Dr Roberts.

US brinkmanship with China over South China Sea

By Peter Symonds
June 1, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Asia_US_It does not require a great deal of imagination to work out how the United States would respond to China sending its aircraft carrier into the Gulf of Mexico to assert its “right” to “freedom of navigation”, or Russia dispatching military reconnaissance aircraft just outside the 12-mile territorial limit off the coast of New York State.

Such actions would immediately be denounced as flagrant aggression, if not acts of war. US warships and aircraft would—at the very least—closely shadow the “intruders”. And, a clamour would erupt in the media demanding American retaliation and preparations for war.

Yet that is exactly what the US is doing thousands of kilometres from the nearest American territory. State-of-the-art surveillance aircraft now routinely patrol close to Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea. Last month the littoral combat ship, the USS Fort Worth, prowled around the same atolls. Now the Pentagon is provocatively preparing to directly challenge China’s territorial claims by sailing or flying within the 12-mile limit.

These reckless military actions are being accompanied by a mounting propaganda campaign in the American and international press branding China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea as illegal, aggressive and aimed at securing control of the strategic waters. The United States is transforming “freedom of navigation” into a casus belli for war with China.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter exploited last weekend’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore—a security forum originally established to ease regional tensions—to condemn China for being “out of step with international rules and norms” and to solicit further participation from other Asian countries in the massive US military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Carter declared that he was “personally committed” to the next phase of the US military “rebalance” aimed at encircling China. The Defence Department, he said, “will deepen longstanding alliances and partnerships, diversify America’s force posture, and make new investments in key capabilities and platforms.”

He continued, “The Department is investing in the technologies that are most relevant to this complex security environment, such as new unmanned systems for the air and sea, a new long-range bomber, and other technologies like the electromagnetic railgun, lasers, and new systems for space and cyberspace, including a few surprising ones.”

Carter emphasised that the US would “bring the best platforms and people forward to the Asia-Pacific.” These include “the latest Virginia-class [nuclear] submarines, the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, the newest stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt, and brand-new carrier-based E-2D Hawkeye early-warning-and-control aircraft.”

Having outlined this vast array of military might, Carter went on with a straight face to declare that the US opposed “any further militarisation of disputed features” in the South China Sea—a reference to two small mobile artillery guns that Washington claims China has placed on one of the islets.

While Carter declared that “there is no military solution to the South China Sea disputes,” the US has exploited these same disputes to secure new military basing and access arrangements with countries directly adjacent to its waters—the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

US imperialism is now actively preparing for war with China. It is not China that threatens “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, but the United States. Central to the Pentagon’s war strategy against China are plans to cripple its economy by imposing a naval blockade to sever shipping routes on which it heavily relies for energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East.

The Obama administration has made clear that it is willing to threaten, risk and provoke war in order to ensure its untrammelled domination in Asia in general and over China in particular. The historic decline of US imperialism during the past two decades has been matched by the eruption of American militarism in the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia. Now Washington is engaged in increasingly reckless brinkmanship in Asia in its efforts to force Beijing to back down.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Kaiser Xi’s Navy” ominously drew a parallel with the situation in Europe immediately prior to World War I, comparing China to Germany and Chinese President Xi Jinping to the German Kaiser. Its false depiction of China as an aggressive imperialist power was aimed at justifying the call for a vast US naval expansion “to convince Beijing that a naval race is unwinnable and not worth running.”

The US is setting itself on a collision course with China whose strategic and economic interests are directly threatened by the aggressive American intrusion into the South China Sea. Beijing is well aware that any concessions to Washington will be quickly followed by more strident demands. Admiral Sun Jianguo, head of the Chinese delegation in Singapore, rejected US condemnations of China’s activities and calls for a halt to land reclamation.

The implications of escalating geo-political tensions were obviously heavy in the air at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Calling for a diplomatic resolution to territorial disputes, Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein warned: “If we are not careful it would escalate into one of the deadliest conflicts of our time, if not our history.”

American imperialism’s provocations against a nuclear-armed power do indeed threaten to plunge humanity into another, even deadlier world war that will not be stopped by diplomacy or appeals to reason. The only social force capable of preventing such a disaster is the international working class, through a unified struggle to put an end to its root cause—the bankrupt profit system and its outmoded division of the world into rival nation states.

 

 

US defence secretary challenges China at Singapore security forum

By Peter Symonds
May 31, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Asia_US_At the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore this morning, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter provocatively threw down the gauntlet to China, demanding “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation” in the South China Sea. “We also oppose the further militarisation of disputed features,” he said.

While his remarks were addressed to “all claimants” in the South China Sea, Carter was unmistakeably targeting China. He blamed its “unprecedented” land reclamation for making these waters “the source of tension in the region and front-page news around the world.” The United States, he declared, had “deep concerns about any party that attempts to undermine the status quo and generate instability, whether by force, coercion, or simply creating irreversible facts on the ground, in the air, or in the water.”

In reality, the US has deliberately stoked tensions in the South China Sea by directly intervening in longstanding maritime disputes and encouraging China’s neighbours, including the Philippines and Vietnam, to more aggressively assert their claims against Beijing. The Obama administration has exploited the issue as part of its “pivot to Asia” to undermine Chinese influence and justify a US military build-up and the strengthening of alliances throughout the region.

In the lead-up to the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Pentagon ensured that the South China Sea would be “front-page news” by allowing a CNN news crew to join a US navy surveillance flight close to Chinese-controlled atolls. Yesterday the US claimed further evidence of China’s “militarisation” of the sea, citing the presence of two mobile artillery vehicles on one of China’s islets. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a US official acknowledged there was “no military threat,” but said “it is about symbolism.”

The Pentagon’s moves have been accompanied by inflammatory statements by US officials, as well as in the American and international press, magnifying the “threat” posed by China and indicating further military provocations. After last month denouncing China’s land reclamation as building “a great wall of sand,” Admiral Harry Harris, the newly installed head of the US Pacific Command, on Wednesday dismissed Beijing’s territorial claims as “preposterous.”

In what can only be interpreted as a threat to China, Harris declared there would be “no shortage of challenges that confront us. If called upon, we will fight tonight to defend American interests in the vast Indo-Asia-Pacific. This is not aspirational. It is in our DNA. Our nation deserves no less.”

In today’s speech, Defence Secretary Carter reaffirmed that the US would continue to challenge China’s claims through “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea. “There should be no mistake,” he said. “The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as US forces do around the world.”

Carter has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for US warships or aircraft to enter the 12-mile territorial limit around Chinese-controlled reefs, actions that risk a clash leading to an escalating conflict with China’s armed forces.

While asserting the “right” to freedom of navigation and overflight of territory claimed by China, the US routinely denounces similar activities by China in the East China Sea near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands administered by Japan as “provocative” and unjustified. Indeed, US President Obama has publicly pledged to back Japan in any war with China over the rocky, uninhabited outcrops.

Carter’s main pitch was an appeal for regional cooperation to ensure “peace and stability.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As outlined in his speech, the US has for the past five years engaged in a comprehensive military build-up and strengthening of strategic partnerships directed against China throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Carter’s long list of “cooperative” arrangements focussed on stronger military ties with Japan, South Korea, Australia and India. He noted that the navy’s state-of-the-art littoral warship, the USS Fort Worth, which has just completed a “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea, is based in Singapore. Carter foreshadowed the signing of a new operational cooperation agreement with Vietnam and a new US-India Defence Framework when he visits those two countries this week.

To underscore Washington’s commitment to its Asian allies, Carter declared that the US Defence Department would “continue to bring the best [weapons] platforms and people forward to the Asia Pacific, such as the latest Virginia-class [nuclear] submarines, the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, the newest stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt, and brand-new carrier-based E-2D Hawkeye early warning-and-control aircraft.”

Carter announced a Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative, which is clearly centred on the South China Sea. The US Senate Armed Services Committee has just approved the measure, which will provide $425 million over the next five years to help train and equip the armed forces of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The committee chairman, right-wing Republican Senator John McCain, is at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Yesterday he added his voice to the denunciations of China. He highlighted the Pentagon’s claim that China had placed artillery on one island, describing it as a “disturbing and escalatory development.” Indicating his support for US military provocations, McCain declared that the US needed to “take certain measures which will be a disincentive to China to continue these types of activities.”

The sharp escalation of tensions in the South China Sea in recent months is generating growing concern in Asian capitals about the danger of war, even among closer supporters the US “pivot.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who delivered the keynote opening address to the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday, declared that without cooperation the Pacific Ocean could be divided between the US and China, “each with its own sphere of influence, circumscribing options for other countries, and increasing the risk of rivalry and conflict between two power blocs.”

Lee called for China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to conclude a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as soon as possible, “so as to break the vicious cycle and not let disputes sour the broader relationship.” He warned: “On the other hand, if a physical clash occurs, which escalates into a wider tension or conflict, either by design or more likely by accident, that would be very bad. But even if we avoid a physical clash, if the outcome is determined on the basis of might is right, that will set a bad precedent.”

During question time following Carter’s speech, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo challenged Carter’s criticisms of China, calling them “groundless and not constructive.” He pointed out that “freedom of navigation and overflight” had never been at issue in the South China Sea and insisted that China’s land reclamation was “legitimate” and justified. Zhao questioned Washington’s “harsh criticism” and military reconnaissance.

Carter brushed aside these comments, falsely declaring that the US was doing nothing new in the South China Sea. The exchange presages further verbal clashes over the weekend between China and the US and its allies, including Japan, Australia and the Philippines, whose defence ministers are present. Several Chinese officers are slated to speak, including the head of the Chinese delegation, Admiral Sun Jianguo, a PLA deputy chief, who is due to address the forum tomorrow.

Pivot Insanity: Why is Obama Goading China?

By Michael Whitney
May 30, 2015
CounterPunch

 

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is willing to risk a war with China in order to defend  “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Speaking in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, Carter issued his “most forceful” warning yet, demanding “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation” by China in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Carter said:   “There should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.” He also added that the United States intended to remain “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”

In order to show Chinese leaders “who’s the boss”, Carter has threatened to deploy US warships and surveillance aircraft to within twelve miles of the islands that China claims are within their territorial waters. Not surprisingly, the US is challenging China under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,  a document the US has stubbornly refused to ratify.  But that’s neither here nor there for the bellicose Carter whose insatiable appetite for confrontation makes him the most reckless Sec-Def since Donald Rumsfeld.

So what’s this really all about?  Why does Washington care so much about a couple hundred yards of sand piled up on reefs reefs in the South China Sea? What danger does that pose to US national security? And, haven’t Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines all engaged in similar “land reclamation” activities without raising hackles in DC?

Of course, they have. The whole thing is a joke. Just like Carter’s claim that he’s defending the lofty principal of “freedom of navigation” is a joke. China has never blocked shipping lanes or seized boats sailing in international waters. Never.  The same cannot be said of the United States that just  recently blocked an Iranian ship loaded with humanitarian relief–food, water and critical medical supplies–headed to starving refugees in Yemen. Of course, when the US does it, it’s okay.

The point is, Washington doesn’t give a hoot about the Spratly Islands; it’s just a pretext to slap China around and show them who’s running the show in their own backyard. Carter even admits as much in his statement above when he says that the US plans to be “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.” China knows what that means. It means “This is our planet, so you’d better shape up or you’re going to find yourself in a world of hurt.” That’s exactly what it means.

So let’s cut to the chase and try to explain what’s really going on, because pretty soon no one is going to be talking about Ukraine, Syria or Yemen because all eyes are going to be focused on China where our madhatter Secretary of Defense is trying to start a third world war.

Here’s the scoop: Washington has abandoned its China policy of “containment” and moved on to Plan B:  Isolation, intimidation and confrontation. In my opinion, this is why the powerbrokers behind Obama dumped Hagel. Hagel just wasn’t hawkish enough for the job. They wanted a died-in-the-wool, warmongering neocon, like Carter, who is, quite likely, the most dangerous man in the world.

Carter’s assignment is to implement the belligerent new policy of incitement and conflict. His actions will prove to the skeptics that Washington is no longer interested in integrating China into the US-led system. Rather, China has become a the biggest threat to Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia. And, just to remind readers how important the pivot is to America’s future, here’s an Obama quote I lifted up from Tom Engelhardt’s latest titled “Superpower in Distress”:

“After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region….As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.”

The so called pivot is Washington’s “top priority”, which means that China’s unprecedented ascendency must be slowed and its regional influence curtailed. Thus, the dust up over the Spratly Islands will be used in the same way the US has used other incidents, that is, by demonizing China’s leaders in the media, by assembling a coalition that will publicly oppose China’s activities, by implementing harsh economic sanctions, by launching asymmetrical attacks on China’s currency and financial markets, by excluding China from critical trade agreements, and by inciting social unrest (color-coded revolution) through the support of dissidents living in China. These are the all-too-familiar signs of US meddling directed at “emerging rivals” who threaten US global hegemony. China now finds itself at the top of the list.

US powerbrokers know that bullying China involves significant risks for themselves and the world. Even so, they have decided to pursue this new policy and force a confrontation. Why? Why would they embark on a strategy so fraught with danger?

The answer is: They don’t see any way around it. They’ve tried containment and it hasn’t worked.  China’s growing like crazy and its regional influence threatens to leave the US on the outside looking in. Carter even admitted as much in a recent speech he gave at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University. He said: “We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines.  That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen.  If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”

See? It’s all about markets. It’s all about money. Here’s more from Carter’s speech:  (The) ” Asia-Pacific…is the defining region for our nation’s future”… “Half of humanity will live there by 2050″ and that “more than half of the global middle class and its accompanying consumption will come from that region.”….”There are already more than 525 million middle class consumers in Asia, and we expect there to be 3.2 billion in the region by 2030…President Obama and I want to ensure that… businesses can successfully compete for all these potential customers. ….Over the next century, no region will matter more… for American prosperity.”

This is why the Obama administration is making a general nuisance of itself in the South China Sea. It’s so the big US mega-corporations will have new customers for their IPADs and toaster ovens.

For that, they are willing to risk a nuclear war.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

 

US-China tensions escalate over South China Sea

By Peter Symonds
May 27, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Asia_US_Tensions between the US and China are continuing to escalate after Beijing lodged a formal protest with Washington on Monday over a highly-publicised US military surveillance aircraft flight near Chinese-controlled territory in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands.

An editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post yesterday continued the drumbeat of US denunciations of China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea and called for action by the Obama administration. “While it probably cannot be stopped, the project should be fully exposed—and China’s attempts to restrict air and sea traffic near its installations decisively rejected,” the newspaper declared.

The editorial’s language, condemning “the brazenness” of China’s territorial claims and its land reclamation as “a dangerous provocation,” has become standard fare for the US and its allies. In reality, the stepped-up actions of the US, thousands of kilometres from any American territory, have recklessly inflamed long-festering regional maritime disputes and are posing the danger of war.

Washington’s calls for “freedom of navigation” are nothing but a pretext for a military build-up in these strategically-sensitive waters and steadily escalating provocations, such as last week’s reconnaissance flight. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has called for the Pentagon to prepare plans for American military aircraft and/or warships to directly challenge Chinese sovereignty by entering airspace and waters within the 12-mile territorial limit around its islets and reefs in the South China Sea.

The US is clearly aiming to provoke a Chinese response that can be exploited to dramatically escalate the diplomatic and military pressure on Beijing in order to extract major concessions, even if that precipitates an open clash and conflict between two nuclear-armed powers.

The Washington Post editorial encouraged the Obama administration to step up the war of words against China at the annual top-level Shangri La Dialogue starting Friday in Singapore, where Defence Secretary Carter will undoubtedly use the opportunity to confront senior Chinese officials. The US and China’s neighbours, it declared, should “push back against the [Chinese] sandcastles in the Spratlys.”

In a similar vein, China’s announcement yesterday that it was constructing two lighthouses on reefs in the Spratlys was also portrayed in the US and international media as part of China’s supposedly menacing build-up in the South China Sea.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman Yang Yujun hit back yesterday against the US, declaring that “outside powers” were trying to “tarnish the Chinese military’s reputation and create an atmosphere of exaggerated tension.” Referring to China’s land reclamation, he said: “There has been a lot of hype surrounding this news. Is it because the South China Sea has shrunk and become more crowded?”

Alluding to the danger of further US military provocations, Yang declared: “We cannot eliminate the possibility that this is to create excuses for the actions that certain countries may be planning to take. This is not a new trick and has been used many times in the past.”

Yang was speaking at the launch of China’s new Defence White Paper, which lays out, in broad terms, the PLA’s strategy and objectives. After painting a fantastic picture of a world in which “peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit have become an irresistible tide of the times,” it proceeded to warn of “new threats from hegemonism, power politics and neo-interventionism.” It continued: “International competition for the redistribution of power, rights and interests is tending to intensify.”

The document explicitly pointed to China’s concerns about the US military build-up in the region and Japanese remilitarisation. “As the world economic and strategic centre of gravity is shifting ever more rapidly to the Asia Pacific region, the US carries on its ‘rebalancing’ strategy and enhances its military presence and military alliances in this region. Japan is sparing no effort to dodge the post-war mechanism, overhauling its military and security policies.”

The White Paper made clear that China is turning toward Russia, which is likewise being aggressively confronted by the US and its allies in Eastern Europe. China’s armed forces, the document emphasised, “will further their exchanges and cooperation with the Russian military within the framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership” between the two countries.

The White Paper highlighted the mounting tensions in the South China Sea, stating that some of China’s neighbours had taken provocative actions and reinforced their military presence on reefs claimed by China. “Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs; a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China,” it declared.

China’s military build-up, along with its reclamation work in the South China Sea, is aimed at countering US threats to its interests. While Washington denounces China’s land reclamation as a grab for control of the South China Sea, the US actions are directed at securing its own dominance. Since 2010, Washington has exploited the maritime disputes to drive a wedge between Beijing and its neighbours, and enhance the US military presence. The US now has basing arrangements with Singapore and the Philippines, directly adjacent to the South China Sea, and is seeking similar arrangements with Vietnam.

It is not China, but the US, that is threatening “freedom of navigation” through the South China Sea. China depends heavily on the key sea lanes through these waters for energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East, as well as for its global exports. A key element of the Pentagon’s strategic planning for war against China is to impose an economic blockade of the Chinese mainland by severing these shipping routes.

The defence shifts outlined in China’s White Paper are primarily aimed at preventing the US navy and air force from mounting such a blockade. The document calls for a gradual shift from the PLA navy’s current focus on “offshore waters defence” to include “open seas protection.” The White Paper also foreshadows a change in focus for the PLA air force, from territorial air defence to both defence and offence.

The danger of a catastrophic war between China and the US is being increasingly discussed in ruling circles. In comments last Friday, billionaire investor George Soros made an appeal for the US to make a “major concession” to China by allowing the yuan to join the International Monetary Fund’s basket of currencies and binding the two economies together more closely.

“Without it,” Soros said, “there is a real danger that China will align itself with Russia politically and militarily, and then the threat of third world war becomes real, so it is worth trying.” Like all of those who claim that international economic integration will prevent world war, Soros ignores the lessons of history—economic interdependence did not halt the slide into World War I or World War II.

The real driving force behind the eruption of US militarism and the growing dangers of war is the worsening breakdown of world capitalism following the 2008 global financial crisis. The only means for halting this drive to war is the revolutionary overthrow of the bankrupt profit system by the international working class.

US prepares new military provocations in South China Sea

By Peter Symonds
May 23, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

A Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft

Just days after a CNN news crew joined a P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over a Chinese-administered islet in the South China Sea, it is clear the flight was a calculated provocation aimed at ramping up pressure on China. American officials immediately exploited the reportage to underline Washington’s determination to challenge Chinese territorial claims in these key strategic waters, regardless of the consequences.

US surveillance flights, along with naval patrols, have become routine since January when Washington initiated its scare campaign over Chinese reclamation activities in the South China Sea. But the presence of a news team for the first time on Wednesday, providing breathless coverage of the flight, along with the unprecedented release of video footage, focussed public attention in the US and internationally on the issue.

Just like the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the media is once again being “embedded” as the propaganda arm of the military as the US prepares for war with China. CNN made no pretence of independent reporting, painting China as the villain engaged in “a massive military build-up” on the islets—an early warning radar station on Fiery Cross Reef—and dramatically highlighting warnings from a Chinese radio operator appealing for the aircraft to “please go away… to avoid misunderstanding.”

Responding to the CNN report, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren not only declared that the present “routine flights” would continue, but could in the future breach the 12-mile territorial limit around Chinese islets and reefs. While the Poseidon aircraft had not done so on Wednesday, he said, “that would be the next step.”

“We don’t recognise those islands as anything other than international space,” Warren remarked. “For us to fly through that, we wouldn’t see that as a change in the way we do business.” He acknowledged, however, that the US had not flown over Chinese claimed territory in the South China Sea in the past 20 years.

Warren’s comments confirm media reports over the past fortnight that US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has instructed the Pentagon to draw up options to fly American aircraft or send warships within the 12-mile limit. As Washington is well aware, such reckless actions have the potential to provoke conflict.

The CNN report featured the comments of former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell who warned “there’s a real risk, when you have this kind of confrontation, for something bad happening.” Asked about the danger of war between the US and China, he declared that while it was “not in their interests, [and] not in our interests,” nevertheless “absolutely, it’s a risk.”

In what can only be interpreted as a military threat to Beijing, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel told a press briefing on Thursday that the reconnaissance flight was “entirely appropriate” and the US would “continue to fully exercise” its right to operate in international waters and airspace. “Nobody in their right mind is going to try to stop the US navy from operating—that would not be a good bet,” he said.

The hypocrisy and cynicism involved is staggering. The US only began to assert its “right” to “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea in 2010, as the Obama administration prepared to unveil its “pivot to Asia” aimed at undermining China and encircling it militarily. Washington’s intervention into long-running and complex territorial disputes has transformed the region into a dangerous flashpoint.

While berating China for its land reclamation, the US remains silent about similar activities by South East Asian countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines on islets and reefs under their administration. No one in Washington is suggesting that the Pentagon is about to challenge the 12-mile limit around disputed territory controlled by Manila and Hanoi.

Indeed, one of the main US aims has been to drive a wedge between China and its neighbours and to establish closer military ties throughout South East Asia. Washington has encouraged both the Philippines and Vietnam to more aggressively assert their territorial claims in the South China Sea against China.

Last year the US and the Philippines signed an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that will provide American forces with virtually unlimited access to military bases in its former colony. Indeed, relations are already close, demonstrated by the fact that on Wednesday the Poseidon aircraft flew out from Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

The decision to ask the CNN news team to accompany the flight is part of carefully choreographed preparations for war with China. It came days after US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing to insist China back off its land reclamation, and just prior to the appearance of Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore next weekend where he is likely to confront Chinese military officials.

Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) analyst Mira Rapp Hooper explained this week: “What you’re seeing by the US is a calculated, transparent effort to reveal the situation in all its details and potential dangers.”

The CSIS is heavily involved with the US military in implementing the “pivot to Asia.” Not accidently, as the Obama administration escalated tensions with China this year over the South China Sea, the think tank established the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) headed by Hooper. Following the CNN report, using its own close Pentagon ties, the AMTI website released its own exclusive video of US surveillance flights.

There is no doubt Washington intends to continue its provocative actions. When China announced an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea in November 2013, the US immediately challenged the zone by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the area unannounced. US plans to fly military aircraft within the 12-mile limit around the Chinese islets are far more reckless. Beijing regards the South China Sea, which is adjacent to major Chinese mainland naval bases, as critical to its strategic interests.

Reacting to the CNN flight, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei declared: “Such action is likely to cause an accident, it is very irresponsible and dangerous and detrimental to regional peace and stability. We express our strong dissatisfaction, we urge the US to strictly abide by international law and international rules and refrain from taking any risky and provocative actions.” He warned that China would closely monitor the situation and “take the necessary and appropriate measures” to secure its islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

US imperialism’s overriding aim is not to secure “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Rather the South China Sea has become the pretext for a show of force intended to bully Beijing into accepting US hegemony in Asia. For this, Washington is preparing for, and willing to risk, war.

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Is the US planning a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident in the South China Sea?
[18 May 2015]

“War is just a Racket”: Memorial Day Is A Hoax. “Our Soldiers Died for the Profits of the Bankers”

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
May 22, 2015
Global Research

 

War-and-Peace-by-Anthony-Freda__700Memorial Day commemorates soldiers killed in war.  We are told that the war dead died for us and our freedom. US Marine General Smedley Butler challenged this view.  He said that our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers, Wall Street, Standard Oil, and the United Fruit Company.  Here is an excerpt from a speech that he gave in 1933:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Most American soldiers died fighting foes who posed no threat to the United States. Our soldiers died for secret agendas of which they knew nothing. Capitalists hid their self-interests behind the flag, and our boys died for the One Percent’s bottom line.

Jade Helm, an exercise that pits the US military against the US public, is scheduled to run July 15 through September 15.  What is the secret agenda behind Jade Helm?

The Soviet Union was a partial check on capitalist looting in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  However, with the Soviet collapse capitalist looting intensified during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes.

Neoliberal Globalization is now looting its own constituent parts and the planet itself. Americans, Greeks, Irish, British, Italians, Ukrainians, Iraqis, Libyans, Argentinians, the Spanish and Portuguese are being looted of their savings, pensions, social services, and job opportunities, and the planet is being turned into a wasteland by capitalists sucking the last penny out of the environment.

As Claudia von Werlhof writes, predatory capitalism is consuming the globe.

We need a memorial day to commemorate the victims of neoliberal globalization.  All of us are its victims, and in the end the capitalists also.

Why Are So-Called Progressives Defending Special Ops Training?

Sucker Punched

By Carol Miller
May 11, 2015
Counter Punch

 

[Jade%2520Helm%252015%2520Map%255B4%255D.jpg]Anti-militarism activists are shaking their heads in amazement. We have been working for years to push back against the massive military expansion underway both in the US and around the world, fighting back one threatened community at a time. The national media has barely mentioned these efforts and local media chooses to mostly ignore the work.

Militarized violence has become the new normal in the USA. It barely matters whether these militarized forces are controlled by the Pentagon, or state governors, each in control of a national guard (state-based militia), state or local police chief, or even a county sheriff with their own militarized departments.

Yet, the largest war “game” ever undertaken by the Pentagon is now getting huge amounts of superficial media attention. The media is not focusing on the tremendous financial cost, the potential environmental consequences, or the unconstitutionality of the plan. The media of both the left and the right are using the plan as yet another convenient tool in enabling the divide and conquer strategy of the Pentagon.

Jade Helm 15 and Texas have become the convenient punch lines of jokes and mocking by so-called progressives and the mainstream media without a single serious look at what the actual activity will do on the ground. Think about this; Viet Nam is the size of New Mexico. Iraq is smaller than Texas. Afghanistan is also smaller than Texas.

What war is being practiced for in an area comprised of seven of the largest states in the US including New Mexico and Texas – Russia? China? Africa? Europe? These are the questions the media should be asking. The public needs to know the endgame of all the proposed and ongoing war games.

The majority of people taking the Jade Helm 15 seriously are not conspiracy theorists, they are community volunteers and environmental attorneys that have been working for years to stop military expansion. Among the volunteers are retired people, school children, veterans, ranchers, peace activists, business people, and environmentalists. They are people who know and oppose intrusive, polluting, environmentally destructive, economically damaging military operations whether overhead, on the ground or in waterways.

Communities Organized Against Military Expansion

Across the US, communities are kept busy responding to endless Pentagon NEPA actions. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act, which supposedly protects or limits the environmental impacts of government activities. People are most familiar with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is the final stage of the lengthy NEPA process.

The group I work with is the Peaceful Skies Coalition, organized in 2010 to stop air force special ops from flying and practicing war at very low altitudes over most of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Over the past five years, the coalition has intervened in numerous Pentagon NEPA actions from Vermont to Alaska. We also stand in solidarity with the people around the world fighting US militarism; Okinawa, Guam, Jeju Island Korea and Sicily to name just a few.

A meeting of anti-militarization community leaders was held both online and in person in Taos, New Mexico in April. As community after community told their story we realized that the situation was identical no matter where in the US the military was expanding. Communities are organized to fight current Pentagon expansion plans. The Pentagon wants to expand the bootprint not only of its bases, but also to expand military activities across public lands; national forests, national parks and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As a result of agreeing to shared values in April, the organizations are in the process of creating a national organization to strengthen the reach and voice of the anti-militarization movement.

Pentagon’s Planned Gulf of Alaska Ecocide is Also Not a Joke

While attention is focused Jade Helm 15 in the southwest US, barely a speck of attention is being paid to the real navy plan to begin live ammunition bombing and sonar war “games” in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) in June. Without a miracle that intervenes to stop this project, the navy bombing will begin next month and be repeated every year for at least the next five years.

Public outcry, especially to the secretary of the navy and members of Congress, might help stop the planned bombings. (http://www.eyakpreservationcouncil.org/navy-training-facts/write-letter-navy-2/) The sample letter prepared by the Eyak Preservation Council states that “The coastline around the GOA is home to many coastal communities and Alaska Native people who rely on marine and freshwater resources… These exercises are planned during the most prolific breeding and migratory periods of the marine supported life in the region (salmon, whales, birds and more)… Commercial fishing is the largest private sector employer in Alaska, providing some 80,000 jobs as well as a healthy food source.”

The Eyak Preservation Council, which is fighting a lonely battle to stop the navy, describes the importance of salmon to their lives; “The life blood of our region – the basis for a culture, economy and community. The Copper River and Prince William Sound are spectacular watersheds that host a rich, plentiful, unique and roadless pristine ecosystem that supports one of the most sought after wild salmon runs in the world, known as the Copper River wild salmon. One of the last truly wild places on earth.”

The Gulf of Alaska fight is just one of the fights against the navy currently taking place all along the Pacific Rim including the West Coast of the US and Hawai’i. Community volunteers and a handful of attorneys versus the Pentagon, is a scenario repeated in one community after another.

Jade Helm 15 is Not a Joke

Jade Helm 15 is not a joke and must be taken seriously. Mock invasions, mock terrorist manhunts, shootouts, and roundups are not jokes. They are reminders that in the Global War On Terror (GWOT) being a US citizen doesn’t matter. Because in the eyes of the State, everyone is a suspect, everyone must stand up against war and war practice. The last shreds of democracy are at stake.

Carol Miller is a community organizer from Ojo Sarco, New Mexico (population 300) and an advocate for “geographic democracy,” the belief that the United States must guarantee equal rights and opportunities to participate in the national life, no matter where someone lives. She is an officer of the Peaceful Skies Coalition.

 

 

Obama’s Petulant World War II Snub of Russia’s V-Day Commemoration

By Ray McGovern
Global Research, May 10, 2015
Consortium News

 

gmo_putin_russia_735_350 (1)Russia celebrated the Allied victory over Nazism on Saturday without U.S. President Obama and other Western leaders present, as they demean the extraordinary sacrifice of the Russian people in winning World War II – a gesture intended to humiliate President Putin, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

President Barack Obama’s decision to join other Western leaders in snubbing Russia’s weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe looks more like pouting than statesmanship, especially in the context of the U.S. mainstream media’s recent anti-historical effort to downplay Russia’s crucial role in defeating Nazism.

Though designed to isolate Russia because it had the audacity to object to the Western-engineered coup d’état in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014, this snub of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – like the economic sanctions against Russia – is likely to backfire on the U.S. and its European allies by strengthening ties between Russia and the emerging Asian giants of China and India.

Notably, the dignitaries who will show up at this important commemoration include the presidents of China and India, representing a huge chunk of humanity, who came to show respect for the time seven decades ago when the inhumanity of the Nazi regime was defeated – largely by Russia’s stanching the advance of Hitler’s armies, at a cost of 20 to 30 million lives.

Obama’s boycott is part of a crass attempt to belittle Russia and to cram history itself into an anti-Putin, anti-Russian alternative narrative. It is difficult to see how Obama and his friends could have come up with a pettier and more gratuitous insult to the Russian people.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – caught between Washington’s demand to “isolate” Russia over the Ukraine crisis and her country’s historic guilt in the slaughter of so many Russians – plans to show up a day late to place a wreath at a memorial for the war dead.

But Obama, in his childish display of temper, will look rather small to those who know the history of the Allied victory in World War II. If it were not for the Red Army’s costly victories against the German invaders, particularly the tide-turning battle at Stalingrad in 1943-1944, the prospects for the later D-Day victory in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Adolf Hitler would have been much more difficult if not impossible.

Yet, the current Russia-bashing in Washington and the mainstream U.S. media overrides these historical truths. For instance, a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar on Friday begins: “The Russian version of Hitler’s defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II …” But that’s not the “Russian version”; that’s the history.

For its part, the Washington Post chose to run an Associated Press story out of Moscow reporting: “A state-of-the-art Russian tank … on Thursday ground to a halt during the final Victory Day rehearsal. … After an attempt to tow it failed, the T-14 rolled away under its own steam 15 minutes later.” (Subtext: Ha, ha! Russia’s newest tank gets stuck on Red Square! Ha, ha!).

This juvenile approach to pretty much everything that’s important — not just U.S.-Russia relations — has now become the rule. From the U.S. government to the major U.S. media, it’s as if the “cool kids” line up in matching fashions creating a gauntlet to demean and ridicule whoever the outcast of the day is. And anyone who doesn’t go along becomes an additional target of abuse.

That has been the storyline for the Ukraine crisis throughout 2014 and into 2015. Everyone must agree that Putin provoked all the trouble as part of some Hitler-like ambition to conquer much of eastern Europe and rebuild a Russian empire. If you don’t make the obligatory denunciations of “Russian aggression,” you are called a “Putin apologist” or “Putin bootlicker.”

Distorting the History

So, the evidence-based history of the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, must be forgotten or covered up. Indeed, about a year after the events, the New York Times published a major “investigative” article that ignored all the facts of a U.S.-backed coup in declaring there was no coup.

The Times didn’t even mention the notorious, intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 in which Nuland was handpicking the future leaders, including her remark “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who – after the coup – quickly became prime minister. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

Even George Friedman, the president of the Washington-Establishment-friendly think-tank STRATFOR, has said publicly in late 2014: “Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d’état organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history.”

Beyond simply ignoring facts, the U.S. mainstream media has juggled the time line to make Putin’s reaction to the coup – and the threat it posed to the Russian naval base in Crimea – appear to be, instead, evidence of his instigation of the already unfolding conflict.

For example, in a “we-told-you-so” headline on March 9, the Washington Post declared: “Putin had early plan to annex Crimea.” Then, quoting AP, the Post reported that Putin himself had just disclosed “a secret meeting with officials in February 2014 … Putin said that after the meeting he told the security chiefs that they would be ‘obliged to start working to return Crimea to Russia.’ He said the meeting was held Feb. 23, 2014, almost a month before a referendum in Crimea that Moscow has said was the basis for annexing the region.”

So there! Gotcha! Russian aggression! But what the Post neglected to remind readers was that the U.S.-backed coup had occurred on Feb. 22 and that Putin has consistently said that a key factor in his actions toward Crimea came from Russian fears that NATO would claim the historic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, representing a strategic threat to his country.

Putin also knew from opinion polls that most of the people of Crimea favored reunification with Russia, a reality that was underscored by the March referendum in which some 96 percent voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

But there was not one scintilla of reliable evidence that Putin intended to annex Crimea before he felt his hand forced by the putsch in Kiev. The political reality was that no Russian leader could afford to take the risk that Russia’s only warm-water naval base might switch to new NATO management. If top U.S. officials did not realize that when they were pushing the coup in early 2014, they know little about Russian strategic concerns – or simply didn’t care.

Last fall, John Mearsheimer, a pre-eminent political science professor at the University of Chicago, stunned those who had been misled by the anti-Russian propaganda when he placed an article in the Very-Establishment journal Foreign Affairs entitled “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault.”

You did not know that such an article was published? Chalk that up to the fact that the mainstream media pretty much ignored it. Mearsheimer said this was the first time he encountered such widespread media silence on an article of such importance.

The Sole Indispensable Country

Much of this American tendency to disdain other nations’ concerns, fears and points of pride go back to the Washington Establishment’s dogma that special rules or (perhaps more accurately) no rules govern U.S. behavior abroad – American exceptionalism. This arrogant concept, which puts the United States above all other nations like some Olympian god looking down on mere mortals, is often invoked by Obama and other leading U.S. politicians.

That off-putting point has not been missed by Putin even as he has sought to cooperate with Obama and the United States. On Sept. 11, 2013, a week after Putin bailed Obama out, enabling him to avoid a new war on Syria by persuading Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, Putin wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times that he appreciated the fact that “My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust.”

Putin added, though, “I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism,” adding: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

More recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov drove home this point in the context of World War II. This week, addressing a meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, Lavrov included a pointed warning: “Today as never before it is important not to forget the lessons of that catastrophe and the terrible consequences that spring from faith in one’s own exceptionalism.”

The irony is that as the cameras pan the various world leaders in the Red Square reviewing stand on Saturday, Obama’s absence will send a message that the United States has little appreciation for the sacrifice of the Russian people in bearing the brunt – and breaking the back – of Hitler’s conquering armies. It is as if Obama is saying that the “exceptional” United States didn’t need anyone’s help to win World War II.

President Franklin Roosevelt was much wiser, understanding that it took extraordinary teamwork to defeat Nazism in the 1940s, which is why he considered the Soviet Union a most important military ally. President Obama is sending a very different message, a haughty disdain for the kind of global cooperation which succeeded in ridding the world of Adolf Hitler.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A specialist on Russia, he served as chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch during his 27 years as a CIA analyst. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).