All posts by Finian Cunningham

Sorry Cover-Up for US Mass Murder

AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth, File

So a top US commander has come clean on primetime TV about the killing of 10 civilians in Afghanistan with a drone missile. Seven of the victims were children packed into a car.

CentCom General Kenneth McKenzie said the deadly strike was a “tragic mistake” and he offered his “deep condolences”. In an unprecedented televised press conference, the general said he took personal responsibility for the atrocity and that there would be financial compensation paid out to the victims’ families.

He didn’t offer his resignation though, which might seem appropriate for someone taking responsibility for such a heinous event. Neither did the Pentagon commander explain how compensation would be arranged given that the US evacuated from Afghanistan on 30 August with no officials now present in the country.

General McKenzie went to great lengths in his press conference to claim that the vehicle was surveilled carefully for several hours before the drone missile was launched, killing all the occupants. He presented a graphic to illustrate the detailed movements of the targeted car near Kabul international airport on 29 August. This was the day after a suicide bomber killed 13 US troops at the airport along with over 100 Afghan civilians trying to join the frenzied American airlift.

This handout photo courtesy of the US Air Force obtained on November 7, 2020 shows an armed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) as it flies over the Nevada Test and Training Range on July 15, 2019. © AFP 2021 / Haley Stevens/US Air Force

The general emphasised how his staff were under immense time pressure when they were assessing the target whom they believed was an ISIS terror team on its way to bomb the airport again.

What is objectionable about McKenzie’s apology live on TV is the impression of an exceptional error by US forces.

The reality is that civilians are routinely murdered by US drones in Afghanistan and several other countries where the Pentagon is operating, oftentimes illegally in violation of international law. Killing innocent people is not an “exceptional error” for US forces, it is the norm.

Daniel Hale, a former US Air Force analyst who turned whistleblower, was imprisoned in July for revealing the horror of civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan. He told a judge that 90 percent of victims were innocent civilians. Hale said he was sickened by the indiscriminate slaughter. For his truth-telling, he is now behind bars.

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles was expanded under the Obama administration and they were deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Obama personally selected targets every week in briefings from the CIA in what became known as “Terror Tuesdays”.

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley discusses the end of the military mission in Afghanistan during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2021 © REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

It was claimed that during the Obama drone assassination programme that the total number of civilians mistakenly killed was just 117. That figure was derided as a gross underestimate. The Bureau for Investigative Journalism puts a more accurate death toll at six times higher. Even the latter may be an underestimate.

Hale, the whistleblower, was prosecuted and jailed by the Trump administration. Public calls for a pardon have been so far ignored by the Biden administration.

The fate of truth-tellers who reveal the murderous nature of US military occupations in foreign countries is to be buried behind bars. Julian Assange’s biggest “crime” was showing to the world the systematic killing of civilians by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Assange is being held in a maximum-security prison in England awaiting the outcome of an extradition order by the US where he faces 175 years in jail for “espionage”.

People like Julian Assange and Daniel Hale are heroes who should be venerated publicly and given lifetime awards.

Meanwhile, the real criminals are given primetime TV to parade their insipid apologies while taking no responsibility for the murder. Saying “sorry” means nothing when the killings will go on and on. It’s just a sorry cover-up for US imperialism and its routine war crimes.

US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan © AFP 2021 / Wakil Kohsar

Unlike many other US drone murders of civilians that are brushed away into oblivion, the killing of 10 civilians in Kabul only came to light because one of the victims worked for a US charity. Otherwise, the Pentagon would have ensured that the atrocity was buried in a bureaucratic cover-up. The innocent victims like the truth-tellers are always buried.

General McKenzie’s “honourable” mea culpa is sick performance art. It is aimed at reassuring the American public that we really are the good guys who rarely commit atrocities. And when we do, then it is an exceptional “tragic mistake” for which we are truly “sorry”. That gives US imperialism a license to continue criminal wars, aggression, occupations and Mass Murder Inc.

The post Sorry Cover-Up for US Mass Murder first appeared on Dissident Voice.

9/11 Collapsed Towers… And Empire

AFP 2021 / Seth McAllister

The United States’ 245-year history as a political entity has been one long trail of wars and more wars. It is estimated that nearly 95 percent of that historical span has seen the nation involved in either all-out wars, proxy conflicts, or other military subterfuges.

But since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, the US has gone into hyper-war mode. Twenty years ago, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan ushered in multiple other American wars and covert operations from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to the Americas.

At one point, the former Obama administration was bombing seven countries simultaneously all in the name of “fighting terrorism”. Hundreds of US bombs rain down somewhere on the planet every day.

What is rather sickening is how the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 event this weekend is marked with solemn speeches by US president Joe Biden and his British counterpart Boris Johnson – the two countries that spearheaded the “War on Terror” era.

Biden claims that 9/11 demonstrates the “unity and resilience” of the American people, while Johnson blusters with platitudes about 9/11 showing that “terrorists did not defeat Western democracy and freedoms”. This self-indulgent piffle is contemptible and nauseating.

Two decades after the US and Britain launched their criminal blitzkrieg on Afghanistan and the rest of the world, those two nations are more financially broke than ever. Internally, they are more bitterly divided than ever. More evidently, their so-called democracies are in reality oligarchies where a tiny rich elite rule over a mass of impoverished people who are spied on and treated like serfs by unaccountable secret agencies and a mass media in hock with oligarchic masters.

If there was a genuine commemoration of 9/11 it would entail a mass uprising by the people to overthrow the war-mongering class system that Biden and Johnson serve as frontmen.

Just this week – of all weeks – the American and British states are in effect admitting that their societies are collapsing from vast economic inequality and crumbling infrastructure. The Biden administration is trying to release a budget of up to $4.5 trillion to alleviate poverty and repair decrepit roads, bridges, buildings and other public utilities.

The Johnson regime in Britain is forced to admit that the National Health Service is overwhelmed by a chronic lack of funding. Taxes are being hiked that will hit low-income workers in order to pay for the £12 billion ($16bn) needed to prop up the enfeebled health service.

All of the cost for trying to repair the US and Britain to make these countries a modicum of decency for its citizens to live in could have been covered by the expenditure on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere that the US and Britain have directly or indirectly been involved in.

A new estimate of the cost for the “war on terror” by the United States alone is put at $8 trillion. This is roughly double the infrastructure bill that Biden is trying to get passed by Congress. American politicians are objecting to the extravagance of that “rescue budget”, yet they had no qualms about spending $8 trillion on wars. It is also estimated that for Britain its military adventurism in Afghanistan alone cost a total of $30 billion. Again, just imagine how British society might be better off if that money had been spent instead on attending to the health needs of its citizens.

But 9/11 also ushered in wanton warmongering regimes in Washington and London that have bled the American and British public of finances and democratic rights. In 2001, the US national debt was about $6 trillion. This year that debt burden on future American generations has escalated to $28 trillion – a crushing, unsustainable burden largely driven by criminal wars.

The healthcare costs for American military veterans wounded and maimed from the wars on terror are projected at $2 trillion. Over 30,000 US service members and veterans are reckoned to have committed suicide over the past 20 years. That’s 10 times the number of American people who died on the day of 9/11.

Untold millions of innocent civilians were killed by the wars that the US and British launched after 9/11. Such suffering and destruction all for nothing except for the enrichment of war-profiteering corporations and the oligarchic elite.

fThe United States and Britain have been so deformed by criminal wars they have become dysfunctional and dystopian. They have inflicted failed states around the world, but none more so than on their own people. The towers that fell on 9/11 were a premonition of much bigger collapse.

The post 9/11 Collapsed Towers… And Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Next After US Defeat?

There may no longer be US military boots on the ground in Afghanistan, but there are still plenty of Afghan boots that Washington can mobilize to destabilize the country and, more importantly, the region.

Already there are tribal leaders in the Panjshir province declaring the beginning of anti-Taliban resistance. One of them, Ahmad Massoud, the young leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, wrote an opinion column in the Washington Post last week in which he appealed to the US for weapons and support to “once again take on the Taliban”.

Another allied leader is former Vice President of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh, who is also based in Panjshir province – the only area not under the control of the Taliban* – and who has vowed that he will never share the same roof as the dominant militant group.

This week marks a historic and shameful defeat for the United States in Afghanistan after 20 years of futile, destructive military occupation. Two decades since launching a war in the country to oust the Taliban rulers, the latter is back now in power. And what’s more, they are militarily stronger than ever after inheriting entire arsenals of American weaponry abandoned by the fleeing US troops.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, trying to put a positive spin on the debacle, said the military mission was over and “a new chapter” of diplomacy was opening. We can safely bet that “diplomacy” here is a euphemism for Washington’s political sabotage and machinations to ensure Afghanistan feels the full wrath of Uncle Sam’s vindictiveness for years, if not decades, to come.

Early signs indicate the form. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, Washington has frozen some $7 billion in foreign assets belonging to the state of Afghanistan. The Americans have also ordered the International Monetary Fund to cut off nearly $400 million in immediate funds that were due to Kabul. This suggests that the US is shaping up for a new chapter of economic warfare against the Taliban in much the same way that it has inflicted on Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979 against the US-backed Shah, and also more recently against Syria following the defeat of America’s proxy war for regime change.Many other nations that defy the US militarily end up incurring economic terrorism from Washington. Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela, among others.

However, in addition to economic warfare, the United States could also exercise the option of fueling a proxy military conflict – a civil war – in Afghanistan by sponsoring the anti-Taliban factions. These factions can be traced to the Northern Alliance and the Haqqani Network which the US-backed in the proxy war against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. No doubt, the CIA and Pentagon still maintain contact lines with these warlords. The fact that one of them was given a high-profile platform in the Washington Post last week to appeal for weapons to fight against the Taliban is a clear sign of such deep state influence.

It is significant that Russia, China and other regional countries are wary of security repercussions stemming from an unruly Afghanistan. Russia has rebuked the US over its freezing of Afghanistan’s assets, saying that the country needs international support, not isolation, in order to aid war reconstruction and stability. Likewise, China has engaged with the new Taliban authorities with promises of massive economic investment to develop infrastructure and industries in return for guarantees of regional security.

This alludes to a wider strategy by Washington. Fomenting proxy conflict in Afghanistan through military and economic means is not just a matter of narrow vindictiveness against the Taliban conquerors who gave Uncle Sam a bloody nose for all the world to see. Such machinations provide the US with opportunities to cause regional security problems for Russia and China. One can reasonably surmise that the Americans have been exploiting Afghanistan as a spoiler against Russia and China for at least 40 years, not just the last two decades.

Afghanistan could potentially become a linchpin in China’s global economic development plans. The country sits at the crossroads of China’s new silk routes crisscrossing between Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Given that the Biden, Trump and Obama administrations have all prioritized “containing” China and Russia as “great power rivals”, it seems that postwar Afghanistan presents a different opportunity for American imperial ambitions.

From Washington’s cynical point of view, such a new phase of proxy war in Afghanistan and, more widely in the region, would be a lot less costly compared with the full military occupation over the past 20 years involving $2 trillion expenditure. Plus there are no disturbing scenes of body bags arriving back on American soil.

Thus, celebrating the defeat of the US in Afghanistan comes with caution. The next chapter could be an even more murky and sinister story.

* The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

* First published in Sputnik

The post What Next After US Defeat? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Terror Attacks in Kabul Suspiciously on Cue… Who Gains?

Could an atrocity have been arranged by some of Baradar’s men at the request of the CIA?

Three days before the bloody carnage at Kabul airport, CIA director William Burns held a secret meeting with a top Taliban commander in the Afghan capital. That is only one of several suspicious events this week in the countdown to the dramatic U.S. evacuation.

At least 13 U.S. troops guarding an entrance to Kabul airport were killed in an apparent suicide bomb attack. Dozens of Afghans waiting in line for evacuation by military cargo planes were also killed. A second blast hit a nearby hotel used by British officials to process immigration documents.

It was not the main ranks of the Taliban who carried out the atrocities. The militant group which swept into power on August 15 after taking over Kabul has ring-fenced the capital with checkpoints. The explosions occurred in airport districts under the control of the U.S. and British military.

A little-known terror group, Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K), claimed responsibility for the bombings. IS-K was barely reported before until this week when the U.S. and British intelligence services issued high-profile warnings of imminent terror attacks by this group at Kabul airport. Those warnings came only hours before the actual attacks. President Joe Biden even mentioned this new terror organization earlier this week and pointedly claimed they were “sworn enemies” of the Taliban.

How is an obscure terror outfit supposed to infiltrate a highly secure area – past “sworn enemy” Taliban checkpoints – and then breach U.S. and British military cordons?

How is it that U.S. and British intelligence had such precise information on imminent threats when these same intelligence agencies were caught completely flat-footed by the historic takeover of Kabul by the Taliban on August 15? When the Taliban swept into the capital it marked the collapse of a regime that the Americans and British had propped for nearly 20 years during their military occupation of Afghanistan. Could their intelligence agencies miss foreseeing such a momentous event and yet less than two weeks later we are expected to believe these same agencies were able to pinpoint an imminent atrocity requiring complex planning?

What is the political fallout from the airport bombings? President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are adamant that the evacuation from Kabul will be completed by the deadline on August 31. Biden said the atrocity underscores the urgency to get out of Afghanistan, although he threw in the token vow that “we will hunt down” the perpetrators.

To be sure, the president is coming under intense political fire for capitulating against the Taliban and terrorists and for betraying Afghan allies. Some Republicans are demanding his resignation due to his overseeing a disaster and national disgrace. It is estimated that up to 250,000 Afghans who worked with the U.S. military occupation will be left behind and in danger of reprisal attacks.

There seems a negligible chance that the deaths of 13 U.S. troops – the largest single-day killing of Americans in Afghanistan since a Chinook helicopter was shot down in August 2011 with 38 onboard – will provoke an extension of the Pentagon’s mission in the country. Even after the bombings this week, the Pentagon advised Biden to stick to the August 31 deadline. The Taliban have also stated that all U.S. and NATO troops must be out of the country by that date.

Polls were showing that most Americans agreed with Biden’s pullout from Afghanistan – the longest war by the U.S. was seen as futile and unwinnable. The sickening bomb attacks this week will only underscore the public sense of war-weariness. Hawkish calls for returning large-scale forces to Afghanistan have little political resonance.

This brings us back to the secret meeting earlier this week between the CIA’s William Burns and Taliban commander Abdul Ghani Baradar. The Washington Post reported that Biden sent Burns to meet with Baradar in Kabul. It was the most senior contact between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the latter’s takeover of Afghanistan on August 15. The details of the discussion were not disclosed and some reports indicated other Taliban figures were not aware of the meeting.

Baradar is one of the founding members of the Taliban. He was captured by Pakistan intelligence and the CIA in 2010. But at the request of the United States, Baradar was released from prison in 2018. Thereafter he led the Taliban in negotiations with the U.S. on finding an end to the conflict. Those talks culminated in a deal in February 2020 with the Trump administration agreeing to troop withdrawal this year. Biden has stuck to the pullout plan.

From his career path, there is good reason to believe that Baradar is the CIA’s man inside the Taliban. Let’s say at least that he has the agency’s ear.

Why else would CIA chief Burns meet Baradar at such a crucial time in the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan? To get Taliban assurances of security measures safeguarding American troops as they exit? That obviously didn’t happen.

What else, then? Could an atrocity have been arranged by some of Baradar’s men at the request of the CIA? The objective being to shift focus from a shambolic, shameful retreat to one of necessity due to terror threats. It seems uncanny that U.S. and British intelligence services were warning of an event only hours before it happened in a way that was precisely predicted. The other consequence of benefit is that the droves of desperate Afghans queueing near Kabul airport are dispersed out of fear of more bloodshed. The beneficial optic is that U.S. and British military planes will take off on August 31 without the harrowing, pitiful scenes of Afghans running down the runway after them. Hence, the empire wraps up its bloody criminal war, with a little less shame than otherwise.

The post Terror Attacks in Kabul Suspiciously on Cue… Who Gains? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fight them on the beaches

Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, gives new and shameful meaning to Winston Churchill’s rousing speech about fighting an enemy on the beaches.

While the Taliban were sweeping to victory in Afghanistan at the weekend, Raab was reportedly lounging on a sun-splashed beach on the Greek island of Crete.

The arrogant Raab – who is prone to lecture Russia and China over alleged misconduct – tried to make out he was being fully briefed by intelligence agencies on the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan, no doubt while he was topping up his piña coladas and sunscreen.

His boss, prime minister Boris Johnson, has also come under fire for being on holiday at a time when the British-backed regime in Afghanistan imploded.

Raab claims he, like many other world leaders, was caught by surprise with the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban insurgents. Since the United States, Britain and other NATO members announced their military withdrawal from the Central Asian country several months ago, the Taliban have made dramatic gains culminating in the collapse of the Western-backed regime in Kabul on Sunday.

After 20 years of waging war in Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the Americans and British are fleeing the country like rats of a sinking ship – and with the Taliban back in power.

This is an ignominious debacle of epic proportions. The virtuous and nauseating pretensions of the United States and Britain are laid bare for the criminal lies that they are. President Joe Biden and his British lackeys are trying to spin the fiasco as a failure by the Afghan security forces.

But even the dutiful US and British news media cannot conceal the hideous reality. After trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and public services slashed to pay for that, the reality is the Western military-industrial complexes made a rip-off fortune from weapons that are now in the hands of the supposed sworn enemy of the Taliban.

As CNN candidly editorialised: “The imagery from Afghanistan is deeply damaging to Biden politically and paints a disastrous picture of a nation that has long seen itself as a global leader and guardian of democracy, human rights and humanitarianism”.

Indeed the imagery is devastating for the hypocritical posturing by the US and Britain. Henceforth, those two culprit nations should never be able to lecture other nations about “rules-based order”, international law and human rights.

Desperate scenes of Afghans clinging on to US military cargo planes as they take off from Kabul airport – and subsequently falling to their deaths – speaks of the horrific, callous debacle for American imperialism. After two decades of destroying a country along with Britain and other NATO powers, in the end, it’s a heartless, cowardly, hurried retreat in which Afghans are abandoned to a miserable fate.

Comparisons are being made with the Fall of Saigon when the United States fled in a hurry from South Vietnam in 1975 at the end of a war in which millions of Vietnamese were killed by American carpet bombing and scorched-earth raids. Incredibly, Biden and his aides are in abject denial, saying there is no such comparison with Afghanistan.

Not only Vietnam but comparisons can also be made with many other nations that the US and its allies have destroyed over the decades with their military machinations only to be finally forced to quit in defeat. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and others.

Afghanistan is perhaps the clearest, most damning demonstration of the criminal conduct of US imperialism along with its lapdogs in NATO. The United States is a warmongering tyranny and scourge on the planet.

And complicit in the war crimes is the corporate news media. For 20 years, the Western mainstream media have whitewashed and laundered the ludicrous, cynical lies of the US government and accomplices about what they were doing in Afghanistan. Fighting terrorism? Nation-building? Supporting democracy? Sickening sycophancy is the only fit description for such media.

How absurd and grotesque that Western media spun such narratives in the face of all the evidence of criminal military occupation. The proof of that is the fiasco of American, British and NATO now scurrying away from their 20-year disaster.

And nothing is more fitting than Biden trying to blame Afghans for the mess and British politicians lounging on Greek island beaches.

The post Fight them on the beaches first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Covid End of US Empire?

The United States is facing perfect storm conditions for the grueling continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic. The long-term economic impact could hasten the end of its global power as we know it.

Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise again – as they are in other capitalist states. But the outlook for the U.S. is uniquely bleak.

Already, the US has the shameful title of having the world’s biggest death toll from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its disease Covid-19. At over 630,000 deaths, that represents nearly 15 percent of the world’s total. Despite a relatively high level of vaccination (50 percent of the population), the disease appears to be resurgent.

The problem for the United States is the dominance of capitalist imperatives over social policy which prevents a coherent, effective public health strategy. The imperative of private profit is also present in European nations, but to a lesser extent compared with the US. Britain is probably closer to the US than any other European country in its compliance with capitalist interests, and it is no coincidence that Britain has the worst Covid-19 mortality in Europe, despite having a high rate of vaccination.

Compliance with capitalist interests prevents a proven policy of containing and eradicating the Covid-19 virus. That policy is best seen in practice in China where the government implements strict lockdowns, travel restrictions, widespread testing, rapid tracing of infections, masking-wearing in public, and mass vaccination. However, that policy is made feasible because China’s socialist system provides the public resources to enable compliance. Public health is the priority, not commercial interests.

By contrast, in the United States, the public is largely expected to bear the costs of lockdowns, long-term unemployment and general living costs. With an over-reliance on vaccination alone, the Biden administration is declaring the end of lockdowns, social distancing and wearing of masks. Government aid for the unemployed and rental assistance for families is being terminated.

Workers are being forced back to workplaces and schools are being reopened in total denial of the epidemiological scientific advice to maintain isolation. Why? Because of the imperative for capitalist businesses to resume profit-making. And, of course, without adequate government support to laid-off workers, many millions of citizens are frustrated by the need to get back to work.

One can easily understand anti-lockdown protests when people are not given financial support to cope with lockdown. The problem is not the practice of public health policy, per se, it is the practice of public health policy in a capitalist society where there is little support for furloughed workers.

Another distinctive problem for the United States – and to lesser extent European states – is the inordinate level of misinformation. Millions of Americans believe that there is no pandemic. Despite the death toll and prevalent sickness, it is incredible that so many people are convinced that the pandemic phenomenon is all a hoax. Such a view is particularly popular among Trump supporters and US Republicans who hold the outlandish conspiratorial belief that it’s all a giant ruse to take away individual liberty, impose a “Grand Reset” and a “fascist liberal tyranny” (what a discombobulation!).

This kind of unscientific conspiracy delusion feeds into other irrational convictions that are opposed to wearing face masks in public or against the administering of vaccines. Irresponsible pundits and media commentators especially on the right-wing Murdoch outlets Fox and Sky promulgate anti-vaccination theories that are deterring large sections of the population from taking up inoculation. Some of the wilder fringes actually believe that vaccines will turn us into zombies as in the horror film, I Am Legend. Then these same pundits talk about the danger of “Covid civil war” breaking out. Well, they have helped create an atmosphere of confusion, fear, ignorance and distrust.

The United States is doomed. In its private-profit-driving society, all basic measures of public health management are confounded. On top of this, the level of misinformation and misdirection also further thwarts a rational plan to contain the pandemic. That is why we are seeing a grave resurgence in the pandemic across the United States. By failing to contain the disease, the perfect storm conditions in the US make for the emergence of new deadlier variants of Covid-19. The biggest worry is that the existing vaccines will no longer be effective against a newer virulent strain of the virus.

Millennia of history attest that deadly plagues have altered the course of history and have even wiped out civilizations.

For most of the past century, many observers have pondered on whether the United States and its global imperial power would be taken down through war with a geopolitical rival such as the Soviet Union or more recently Russia and China.

Then along comes an invisible danger, a virus, that is ripping through the United States in a way not foreseen. And the vulnerability of the US is all down to its own internal failings as a capitalist society saturated with misinformation.

• First published in Sputnik

The post Covid End of US Empire? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Security U.S. Fears of China Nuclear Expansion… Déjà Vu of Soviet Missile Gap Hype

China is providing the equivalent scaremongering of the Soviet “missile gap” in order to sustain America’s militarist-dependent capitalist economy.

Media reports from the U.S. this week – regurgitated by the European press – highlighted concerns that China is embarking on a massive scale-up of underground silos for launching nuclear weapons.

Hundreds of silos are alleged to be under construction in the western regions of Xinjiang and Gansu, according to U.S. media reports citing commercial satellite data. American military officials and State Department diplomats are quoted as saying they are “deeply concerned” by the purported expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal.

For its part, Beijing has not yet commented on the claims of new nuclear silos. Some Chinese media reports say that the excavation could be due to something else entirely – the construction of large-scale wind farms. A Global Times dismissed the U.S. claims as “hyped”.

Context, as ever, is crucial. For a start, the U.S. headlines are equivocal and heavily qualified, indicating that the information is far from conclusive.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “China Appears to Be Building New Silos for Nuclear Missiles, Researchers Say”.

While CNN headlined: “China appears to be expanding its nuclear capabilities, U.S. researchers say in new report”.

Despite the lack of definite information that didn’t stop Pentagon and government officials from saying they were “deeply concerned”, thus adding a veneer of factuality to reports that were speculative.

Here’s another consideration. So what if China is expanding its nuclear arsenal with new silos? The People’s Republic of China has a stockpile of warheads numbering 350. The United States has a stockpile of some 5,550 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The U.S. has a nuclear offensive power 15 times greater than China. So even if China is planning to double its arsenal of nuclear weapons, according to the Pentagon, that increase is still a fraction of American destructive capability.

Beijing maintains that the onus is on Washington to de-escalate its nuclear arsenal. The United States and Russia have resumed talks this week in Geneva on renewing arms-control efforts – efforts that have been put on hold by Washington since the Trump administration. Washington and Moscow – both possessing over 90 percent of the world’s total nuclear warheads – need to get on with their obligations for disarmament before China is reasonably brought into the discussion, along with other minor nuclear powers, such as Britain and France.

Another consideration for context is the ramping up of hostility by the United States towards China. The Biden administration is continuing the aggressive agenda of its Trump and Obama predecessors. Arming the renegade Chinese island territory of Taiwan, sailing warships into the South China Sea, media vilification of China over allegations of human rights abuses, genocide, malign conduct in trade, cyber attacks, and the Covid-19 pandemic. All of this speaks of stoking confrontation with China and inflaming U.S. public opinion to accept war with China.

Pentagon officials tell Congressional hearings that they consider war with China a distinct possibility in the near term.

Given this context, it would be reasonable to expect China to expand its nuclear defenses in order to shift the American calculation away from contemplating a war. The problem is not the alleged Chinese military buildup. It is Washington’s criminal policy of hostility towards Beijing that is fueling the risk of war.

But here is another key factor: the United States is undergoing a trillion-dollar upgrade of its nuclear arsenal. That began under Obama and was continued under Trump and now Biden. That puts alleged Chinese expansion into perspective. The United States has already nuclear power that dwarfs China’s and yet the U.S. is expanding what is a provocative threat to China.

Furthermore, Washington’s nuclear upgrade of its triad of submarines, silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers is hurtling out of control financially.

A recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that the trillion-dollar nuclear upgrade was ballooning with “stupefyingly expensive” cost overruns. In just two years, the cost was over-budget by $140 billion and the upgrade program is to run for a total of three decades.

This eye-watering waste of taxpayers’ money has led some U.S. lawmakers to call for drastic cuts in nuclear arms expenditure. Senator Ed Markey and others have decried “our bloated nuclear weapons budget”. Given the crumbling state of America’s civilian infrastructure, popular opposition to exorbitant military spending is potentially a major political problem for the Pentagon and its industrial complex.

The U.S. media hype over the alleged expansion of Chinese silos begins to look like déjà vu of the alleged “missile gap” with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the 1950s and 60s, Washington and the compliant corporate media became animated by CIA data that purported to show the Soviet Union outpacing the U.S. in the numbers of nuclear missiles. It turned out that the “missile gap” was non-existent. But the fear-mongering it engendered, in turn, created public acceptance of massive military expenditure by Washington that has become structural and chronic to this day. The warped allocation of financial resources is a parasitical drain on American society. Any rational, democratic mind would abhor the grotesque priorities.

China today is providing the equivalent scaremongering of the Soviet “missile gap” in order to sustain America’s militarist-dependent capitalist economy.

The post Security U.S. Fears of China Nuclear Expansion… Déjà Vu of Soviet Missile Gap Hype first appeared on Dissident Voice.

U.S. Politicizing Covid Pandemic to Incriminate China Is Self-Defeating

The United States is losing the ability for rational political debate and respect for science. Politicians, media and public discourse have been infected by lies, conspiracies, racial stereotyping of nations like China, and rampant hostility.

The World Health Organization seems to have succumbed to U.S. pressure to falsely incriminate China over the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The United Nations-affiliated body has called for a Phase Two study of laboratories and markets in the Chinese city of Wuhan where early Covid-19 cases were detected in December 2019. Beijing has rebuffed the call, saying that the proposed investigation is a cover for politicizing the pandemic along the lines pushed by Washington.

What has happened at the WHO? An earlier survey by WHO and Chinese scientists published in February this year concluded it was “extremely unlikely” that the novel coronavirus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But now the WHO is recommending a follow-up study as if casting doubt on its previous findings. Beijing says this is an undue sole focus on China.

Two factors seem relevant here. Under President Joe Biden’s administration, the United States has rejoined membership of the WHO. His predecessor Donald Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the international body, claiming that it was too close to China and was concealing the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States is the main source of funding for the WHO, so its return will be a welcome move and no doubt has influenced the executive to be more favorable to American claims about the pandemic.

Biden and the U.S. media have remarkably revived the baseless conspiracy theory instigated by Trump and his rightwing Republicans that China was the origin of Covid-19 through a “leak” of the virus from the Wuhan institute. Biden has tasked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back in the coming weeks. It’s not hard to imagine how the intelligence will be made to fit the political agenda of smearing China.

Beijing says, with fair reason, that the Americans are putting politics above science in order to undermine China in the greater scheme of geopolitical rivalry. The Chinese are calling for an international and cooperative investigation to objectively determine the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in over four millions deaths worldwide over the past year.

Washington is coming from the premise that the disease is China’s fault, and so it is pushing the focus of investigation entirely on China and locations in Wuhan. This prejudice is unscientific and seems geared to consolidate the conspiracy theory that the Wuhan laboratory was the source of the pandemic through a release of the virus.

The political atmosphere in the U.S. has become extremely toxic. Last week during Senate hearings, the top American expert on infectious diseases Anthony Fauci was assailed by reckless accusations that he was complicit in the alleged Wuhan “lab leak” and responsible for all deaths.

The United States is losing the ability for rational political debate and respect for science. Politicians, media and public discourse have been infected by lies, conspiracies, racial stereotyping of nations like China (Russia, Iran and others), and rampant hostility. America’s much-vaunted democracy is a scrap heap of seething enmity which blocks any reasonable solutions to its many domestic social challenges as well as the conduct of civil international relations.

Obscene social inequality, lack of political leadership and lack of public trust in governance have resulted in the most shameful record. The U.S. death toll from the pandemic is over 620,000 – way above any other nation. That is an indictment of the failure of “American democracy” and its capitalist-oligarchic society.

Yet the Americans keep pushing the conspiracy that it’s all China’s fault. That country with nearly four times the U.S. population has incurred a tiny fraction (less than 1 percent) of the American death toll from Covid-19. That success is down to good centrally planned governance of China’s socialist system and national unity of purpose to contain the disease. Chinese people don’t question basic science such as efficacy of wearing face masks in public spaces or availing of vaccines. By contrast, American society is riven and racked by ignorance, selfishness and loony irrationality about so-called “freedoms”.

A productive, genuinely international effort to locate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic would be open to all leads for inquiry.

The unilateral demands by Washington to limit the investigation to the facilities in Wuhan are based on conspiratorial thinking and motivated by an effort to incriminate China.

Admittedly, the first reported cases of Covid-19 were detected in Wuhan in December 2019. But that does not necessarily mean the pandemic originated there. There are reports of the disease emerging weeks before that date in North America and Europe. But these cases were either misdiagnosed or under-reported. During 2019 there was a surge in seasonal influenza deaths in the United States. Perhaps some of these cases were not due to the normal flu virus but rather to Covid-19 which has similar symptoms.

China is calling for a wider investigation in which biomedical samples in the U.S. and Europe are retrospectively analyzed for possible infection with Covid-19.

Another major factor deserving international scrutiny is Fort Detrick, the U.S. military biowarfare laboratory in Maryland. This facility is believed to experiment with lethal pathogens, including novel coronaviruses.

Fort Detrick has a notorious record for safety failures going back to the Cold War decades. In August 2019, the laboratory was forced to shut down for several months after it was discovered its waste disposal processes had been compromised by failure. It is still not clear what that failure was due to exactly or what pathogens may have escaped.

But think about that. Such a grave breakdown in one of the most toxic centers on the planet preceded by only a few months the global pandemic. To a rational mind, that fact merits an international investigation for possible role in the origin of Covid-19. China’s government and many other nations have called on the WHO to open a probe into Fort Detrick. But the Americans point-blank refuse.

American arrogance and provocative politicization over the pandemic is endangering international relations and preventing an effective scientific approach towards eradicating a disease that has wrought so much misery on its own nation. The ultimate downfall from such hubris is the self-inflicted damage.

The post U.S. Politicizing Covid Pandemic to Incriminate China Is Self-Defeating first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Who’s Afraid of Fort Detrick Probe?

An international online petition calling for an investigation into a US military laboratory and the possible origin of Covid-19 was hacked at the weekend. The hackers were reportedly based in the US.

Fort Detrick in Maryland is the center of American biowarfare research. It is just one of the hundreds of such infectious disease laboratories located across the United States. During the Cold War, Fort Detrick was the main site for experimenting with lethal pathogens, including viruses causing deadly influenza.

In 2001, when a disgruntled researcher is believed to have killed five people by mailing deadly anthrax spores it was Fort Detrick that was the origin of the lethal material.

However, the network of secretive US biowarfare laboratories is also infamous for safety violations and accidents. In August 2019, Fort Detrick was shut down abruptly for several months when its wastewater decontamination process failed.It is not unreasonable to call for an investigation into the practices and records at the Maryland center to ascertain if it had any connection to the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far killed over four million people worldwide and more than 600,000 in the United States alone.

Of course, American politicians and media dismiss the appeal as “disinformation” put out by Russia and China. Americans have accused China of being the origin of the pandemic after the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in the city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. More sinisterly, the Wuhan virology institute has been fingered as the source of the virus even though an international survey by the World Health Organization concluded such a release was “extremely unlikely”.

Scientific consensus contends that the virus evolved naturally and was most likely transmitted to humans from animals.

US President Joe Biden has given credibility to the conspiracy theory unleashed by his predecessor Donald Trump that the Wuhan laboratory was the origin of the Covid-19 virus. Biden has tasked his intelligence agencies to look into the claims. They are due to report back on their findings next month. Washington berates China for not being transparent about its laboratory and is demanding that Beijing open up its facility for inspection. The Americans claim China was not fully open with WHO investigators who cleared the lab as not being the origin of the virus.

But two can play that game. If the Americans accuse China and demand an investigation into secret laboratories then why can’t China level the same at the US?

It is still not known where the Covid-19 pandemic originated. It may take years to determine that. But what is certainly hindering an answer is the politicization of the disease. Washington is using it to smear China while hypocritically suppressing any questions about its own conduct.

The early cases of Covid-19 were detected in Wuhan. But who is to say that cases may have existed elsewhere but were simply not detected and reported in other countries? The US had an unprecedented surge in influenza deaths in 2019 before the Wuhan cases. Were some of these misdiagnosed as flu instead of Covid-19?

Fort Detrick has a notorious history of safety failures. It works on a wide range of biowarfare pathogens with little public oversight. And it was shut down in mid-2019 for reasons that are not clear to the public.

It is therefore reasonable for China to demand a probe into the American facility. This is not just a matter of “counter-propaganda” to turn the tables over American speculation about the Wuhan institute. There are empirical grounds for suspecting Fort Detrick as possibly having a role in the origin of the pandemic.

An online petition was started in China earlier this month demanding the WHO launch an investigation into Fort Detrick. It had gathered over 10 million signatures when the online site was hacked into at the weekend. Apparently, the petition was defended by its cybersecurity system and continues to operate.

According to Chinese reports the hackers were identified as having computer server addresses located in the US. If that is confirmed then the suspicions around the murky practices of Fort Detrick become more acute. It looks like the Americans are afraid to permit a probe into the site, even though they make high-handed accusations and demands on China over tenuous claims about Wuhan.

• First published at sputniknews.com

The post Who’s Afraid of Fort Detrick Probe? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Arsonist US Plays With Fire

You would think riling up one nuclear power is bad enough, but the United States seems intent on doubling the risk of starting a world war by gratuitously aggressing Russia and China simultaneously.

Throwing around personal insults against the leaders of those two countries is one thing. But actually winding up military tensions is quite another which shows how reckless the Biden administration is.

Since Joe Biden became the 46th president, there has been an alarming increase in hostile rhetoric and conduct by the US toward Russia and China.

Ludicrously, the Biden administration is accusing Moscow and Beijing of aggression towards European and Asian allies when it is the United States that is building up warships, warplanes, missiles and troops in sensitive regions that threaten Russia and China.

Under this Democrat president, the US is increasing lethal military supplies to the Ukraine where an anti-Russia regime in Kiev has been waging a seven-year war against ethnic Russian people in the east of that country on Russia’s border. It is no coincidence that the US-backed regime in Kiev is emboldened to step up offensive military attacks on civilian centers in east Ukraine. The city of Donetsk is this week reportedly coming under intensified shelling.

Likewise, the Biden White House has become more vocal in support of Taiwan, the breakaway island territory off China’s southern coast. US military leaders are warning that China might invade the island, which most nations view to be a sovereign part of Chinese territory. Since 1979, even the US recognized this under its One China policy.

Washington is, however, conducting a record number of military maneuvers in the South China Sea and through the Strait of Taiwan, only about 100 kilometers from mainland China. This week – for the fourth time since Biden took office, the US dispatched a guided-missile destroyer through the Strait.

China’s territorial claims in the region have a lot more credibility than America’s posturing about “defending allies” and so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises.

But the reckless rhetoric from the Biden administration – labelling Russia and China as “aggressors” – is serving to embolden regimes in Ukraine and Taiwan to engage in dangerous provocations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week called on the US-led NATO alliance to fast-track membership for his country. Such a move would be incendiary for Russia’s national security. The Kiev regime is also intensifying offensive operations in east Ukraine which is another form of provocation toward Russia due to Washington’s indulgence.

Similarly, the anti-China separatists in Taiwan are feeling ever-more confident in taking a militarist posture. With American warships sailing nearby, the Taiwanese authorities this week warned they would not hesitate to shoot down Chinese aircraft that approach the island. This is a flagrant provocation to Beijing’s authority.

The United States has indicated it will support Ukraine or Taiwan if a war with Russia or China were to erupt. Such a policy is an incentive for rogue conduct leading to war.

It is perplexing to see just how far the Biden administration is willing to go in risking a war with either Russia or China, or both at the same time. Any such war would inevitably result in a nuclear conflagration in which tens of millions of people would die, if not bring about the end of the world as we know it.

This is a measure of how desperate the American imperial state is in trying to maintain its ambitions of global hegemony and domination. US global power is waning – in line with the historic failing of its capitalist system – and in order to offset that loss of power, its ruling class are resorting to maniacal militarism against perceived geopolitical rivals. The objective is to intimidate and terrorize the world into accepting its “rules-based order”. That is rules ordered by the US for its advantage and privileges over others.

Russia and China, and many other nations, are refusing to capitulate to America’s diktat. There was a time when such bullying may have worked. Not any more.

American rulers – the deep state – and their puppet president are behaving like arsonists. They’re playing with fire in provoking Russia and China. It is criminal and it’s psychopathic recklessness. It’s also abominable that the planet is being held hostage by such a crazy American regime.

• First published in Sputnik News

The post Arsonist US Plays With Fire first appeared on Dissident Voice.