February, 2016 United States


BY RAMZY BAROUD, The Japan Times

SEATTLE – AS U.S. LIBERALS AND SOME LEFTISTS ARE PULLING UP THEIR SLEEVES IN ANTICIPATION OF A PROLONGED BATTLE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION, THE TUSSLE BECOMES PARTICULARLY UGLY WHENEVER THE CANDIDATES’ FOREIGN POLICY AGENDAS ARE EVOKED.

Guardian Editorial
The Syrian war has lasted so long and diplomacy has proved so ineffective that the hope that it could end or at least be brought under some kind of control is hard to sustain. Yet the cessation of hostilities agreed by nearly all of the warring parties seemed to be holding this weekend. Most observers give it a chance, not because of some sudden change of heart on anybody’s part – nearly all those concerned still hate each other – but because it is arguably in the interests of the key players to pursue their objectives in the future in a different way.

Ömer Taşpınar
The real problem for the next American administration will not only be Russian hegemony over Syria but Turkey's propensity to challenge this domination by trying to get NATO involved in a conflict with Moscow.

 

 


Author Mustafa al-Haj
DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian regime’s advancement in Daraa, Aleppo and rural Latakia, among other areas, confirms the Russian intervention in Syria has changed the balance of power in favor of the regime. As opposition forces have failed to deter the regime’s attacks in Daraa province, hopes are hanging on a cease-fire truce announced following a US-Russian agreement approved Feb. 23 by the Syrian regime. The truce, which is to be implemented starting Feb. 27, could be a prelude to ending the military conflict and launching a political solution that would solve the Syrians’ crisis, observers say.


By Paul Craig Roberts

"Information Clearing House" - This morning I was stuck in front of a Fox “News” broadcast for a short period and then with a NPR news program. It was enough to convince me that Nazi propaganda during Hitler’s Third Reich was very mild compared to the constant stream of dangerous lies that are pumped out constantly by the American media.


By AT Editor
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the sides were closer to a ceasefire than ever before. But he indicated there were still issues to be resolved and he did not expect any immediate change on the ground.


By Salman Rafi
America does not want the emergence of China as a giant in the global hierarchy of states. While issues like the ‘militarization’ of South China Sea give it the opportunity to attack China and win praise from ASEAN members involved in islands row, US is also very much concerned over the rise of China as an economic power. 


By Finian Cunningham

 "Information Clearing House" - "RT" - A massive apparent terror attack in Turkey’s capital comes at a crucial time just when the Erdogan government is trying to woo Washington’s support for its military intervention in Syria.

Cold War lessons on the promise—and nuclear peril—of escalation
Robert Farley

A recent RAND wargame on a potential Russian offensive into the Baltics brought talk of a “new Cold War” into sharp focus. The game made clear that NATO would struggle to prevent Russian forces from occupying the Baltics if it relied on the conventional forces now available.

 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev giving an interview on the sidelines of the 2016 Munich Securit Conference (Photo: EPA)

Ronen Bergman
Op-ed: The general atmosphere at the 2016 Munich Security Conference was one of despair, confusion and belligerence. The Russians bickered with NATO on every topic, with Russian PM declaring the situation has deteriorated 'to the level of a cold war'; meanwhile, no one talked about the Palestinians, and Iranian FM Zarif failed to draw the same crowds he did in the past.
On stage in Munich, in an almost formal manner, the renewal of the Cold War was announced.

Ian Black Middle East editor
A deadline to secure a cessation of hostilities in Syria has passed, further delaying the resumption of UN-brokered peace talks between the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and the rebels fighting to overthrow him.

 Hillary_Kissinger_AP_img

Clinton just can’t quit him. Even as she is trying to outflank Bernie on his left, Hillary Clinton can’t help but stutter the name of Henry Kissinger. Last night in the New Hampshire debate, Clinton thought to close her argument that she is the true progressive with this: “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time.”


Project Syndicate
WINCHESTER – “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” George Santayana’s dictum seems particularly appropriate nowadays, with the Arab world, from Syria and Iraq to Yemen and Libya, a cauldron of violence; Afghanistan locked in combat with the Taliban; swaths of central Africa cursed by bloody competition – often along ethnic/religious lines – for mineral resources. Even Europe’s tranquility is at risk – witness the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, which before the current ceasefire had claimed more than 6,000 lives.


DEBKAfile Special Report 

At the end of hours of debate in Munich, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced early Friday, Feb. 12, that the US, Russia and other powers had agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war to take place next week and immediate humanitarian access to besieged areas.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added: The cessation would go into effect next Friday, Feb. 19 but, he stressed, “terrorist” groups would continue to be targeted.

by Daniel Pipes
Investigative Project on Terrorism

Wishing to address growing anti-Islamic sentiments among the American public, Barack Obama ventured on Feb. 3 to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (sadly, a mosque with unsavory Islamist associations) to talk about Islam and Muslims. The 5,000-word speech contains much of interest. Here's an in-depth assessment of its key points:


Dov S. Zakheim
When Jimmy Carter came into office, he was determined to reverse the growth in defense spending that had been bequeathed to his administration by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In particular, he tried to make good on his campaign promise by rescinding funds for a new aircraft carrier. Congress overturned his recission, but Carter persisted with his efforts to limit defense spending, in line with his view that the United States had other international security priorities, such as intensifying its pursuit of détente, achieving a further reduction of its nuclear arsenal as part of a SALT II agreement and limiting its foreign military sales to allies and friends.


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 
US President Barack Obama has retracted on his pledge of an extra defense package to compensate Israel for the damage caused its security by the nuclear deal concluded with Iran last year. This flat refusal, reported here by DEBKAfile’s Washington sources, confronted Israeli officials when they met last week with heads of the National Security Council at the White House.


We “liberated” it into chaos, by Justin Raimondo
In Pristina, the capital of the make-believe country of Kosovo, there is a street named after Bill Clinton, and a statue of Bill – done in the Socialist Realist style – towers over the main square. They also named a boulevard after George W. Bush, perhaps to hedge their bets after the Republicans took the White House. You couldn’t ask for a more “pro-American” country than this one: but that’s just on the surface. Undercurrents of rabid nationalism – and real resentment of the Americans and Europeans who have been baby-sitting the Kosovars all these years – is now breaking out that threatens whatever modicum of stability Kosovo has ever known.


DEBKAfile Special Report 

The five-year Syrian civil war, faces its most critical moment. Saturday, Feb. 6, a combined force of Syrian army and Hizballah troops and an Iraqi Shiite militia under Iranian officers, were led by Russian air and Spetsnaz (special forces) officers into pressing forward to encircle 35,000 rebels trapped in Aleppo, the country’s largest city. As they tightened the siege, 400,000 Syrian civilians were also trapped and forced to bear heavy Russian air bombardment and savage artillery fire from the ground forces closing in on the city.


James Borton, Geopolitical Monitor
The upcoming US-ASEAN summit on February 15-16 in Rancho Mirage, California provides an opportunity for the Obama administration to boldly demonstrate its rebalance towards Asia, and for the U.S. Senate to assert America’s national interests by ratifying the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Since the ten countries that make up ASEAN are home to 660 million people and represent the world’s seventh largest economy, it’s vital to demonstrate proof of strategic commitment to US allies, to denounce China’s militarization of outposts, and to uphold freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Nikolas K. Gvosdev
As expected, the Russian government has reacted to U.S. plans to quadruple its planned military spending. The spending increase, announced this week, is intended to support greater U.S. deployments in eastern and central Europe by expanding the equipment stationed there and by rotating American troops in order to maintain, at any given point, the equivalent of a full armored combat brigade in the area.


By BEHLUL OZKAN 

Last month, more than 1,200 Turkish and foreign academics signed a petition calling attention to the continuing humanitarian crisis in many Kurdish-majority towns in southeastern Turkey, which are the site of fighting between the Turkish Army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K. The petition decried the Army’s shelling of urban areas and the imposition of weekslong, 24-hour curfews, which have left many civilians unable to bury their dead or even obtain food. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly denounced the signers as “so-called intellectuals” and “traitors.” Within days, antiterror police had detained and harassed dozens of the signatories.

By U.S. Department of State from United States - Secretary Kerry Sits With Saudi King Salman Before Bilateral Meeting in Riyadh, Public Domain, $3

Lincoln Clapper, Geopolitical Monitor
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become somewhat of a revelation to the international community over the last several months. Commencing with the desertion from Al-Qaeda, to the self-proclamation of Caliph by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and finally the surge in Iraq and Syria, each move has occurred without a countervailing effort.

 

In “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” the soaring and chilling speech he delivered the day before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. ponders the thought of life in other places and times.Among other eras in history, he considers the prime of classical Athens, when he could have enjoyed the company of luminaries “around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality,” along with “the great heyday of the Roman Empire.”


Kim R. Holmes
For the last seven years we have witnessed an unprecedented experiment based on a fundamental question: What would the world look like if the United States pulled back from its traditional leadership role? That was after all, the key thrust of President Barack Obama’s new foreign policy. He promised to embark on a radically new way of dealing with the world—one where we would “engage” our enemies rather than confront them.

Beijing and Moscow are working well together, for now.
Michael Clarke Anthony Ricketts

China and Russia have increased their security, economic and diplomatic relationship, complicating an already fragile Asia-Pacific region. Many analysts have viewed this enhanced collaboration as the beginning of a partnership set on destabilizing the Western-led order and diminishing the capacity for the United States to influence strategic outcomes in the region. But this line of reasoning affords primacy to the material components of Beijing and Moscow’s newfound affection for each other, neglecting the salience of the historical and normative elements that inform their relationship.