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Friday, February 28, 2014

Europe Shows Resistance to US Drone Policies logo

Europe Shows Resistance to US Drone Policies

by Tyler Cullis
February 28 2014 |

Earlier this week the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the US drone program and expressing its concern over the desire of some European states to build a program of their own. Here in the US few have paid attention. But if the resolution signals a more serious commitment on the part of Europe to publicly disclaim the legal and policy architecture of the US’s “targeted killing” program, then the White House’s legal footing, which is already on thin ice, could become untenable in the face of near-unanimous global opposition.
The resolution, which is non-binding as a matter of European law, “expresses…grave concern over the use of armed drones outside the international legal framework,” which goes against US pretensions of acting within the bounds of law in conducting its “targeted killing” program. In doing so the European Parliament rejects the novel legal doctrines that the US has used to support its activities in the “global war on terror,” arguing that traditional jus ad bellum and jus in bello rules do not need to be revised in light of the threat posed by transnational terror groups (as the US has long alleged). This is a striking challenge to the United States and its claims to compliance with international norms, and is a sharp reminder of the twin reports from UN Special Rapporteurs last year (whose work is cited in the resolution itself).

Blackballed by AIPAC? logo

AIPAC1 (1)
Published on February 28th, 2014 |

Blackballed by AIPAC?

by Jim Lobe
In my 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service, only one institution has denied me admission to their press or public event. That was the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) shortly after the broadcast in 2003 of a BBC Panorama (its equivalent, more or less, of our “60 Minutes”) program on neoconservatives and their promotion of the Iraq war entitled “The War Party” in which I was interviewed at several intervals. In that case, I was told forthrightly (and somewhat apologetically) by the think tank’s then-communications chief, Veronique Rodman, that “someone from above” had objected strongly to the show (I had my own reservations about it) and my role in it and had demanded that I be banned from attending AEI events. My status as persona non grata was reaffirmed about five years later when Lobe Log alumnus Eli Clifton went there for an event and was taken aside by an unidentified staffer and told that he could attend, but that he should remind me that I was still unwelcome.
Now it seems I’ve been blackballed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), although, unlike AEI, it has so far declined to give me a reason for denying me accreditation to its annual policy conference, which runs Sunday through Tuesday. All I’ve received thus far is this email that arrived in my inbox Thursday morning from someone named Emily Helpern from Scott Circle, a public relations firm here in DC.

Obama's Trauma Team

Obama's Trauma Team

How an unlikely group of high-tech wizards revived Obama's troubled website,9171,2166770-1,00.html

Engineering Children for Gay Granddads


Engineering Children for Gay Granddads

AIPAC Convenes Sunday, Facing New Era of Declining Influence

AIPAC Convenes Sunday, Facing New Era of Declining Influence

WPR Articles Feb. 24, 2014 - Feb. 28, 2014

WPR Articles Feb. 24, 2014 - Feb. 28, 2014

Ahead of Elections, Colombia’s Santos Signals Tough Stance on Mining

By: Wesley Tomaselli | Briefing
On taking office, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos trumpeted mining as one of the country’s main drivers of growth. But recently, the Santos administration dealt an unprecedented series of blows to the country’s No. 2 coal exporter, Alabama-based Drummond Co., signaling that multinationals coming to mine Colombia’s natural resources could face a new, hard-line stance when they don’t play by the rules.

Risks Outweigh Gains in NATO Palestine Proposal

By: Erik Brattberg, Bernardo Pires de Lima | Briefing
Mahmoud Abbas’ recent proposal for a NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Palestine is not a novel idea. Similar proposals were floated by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as in NATO’s 2010 “Albright report.” But the Abbas plan, which calls for NATO troops to be indefinitely deployed to protect the West Bank and Gaza as well as checkpoints and within East Jerusalem, is worth considering.

Global Insider: North American Trilateral Summit Sets Stage for Deeper Energy Cooperation

By: The Editors | Trend Lines
Last week’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trilateral summit resulted in a communique that among other things called for increased energy cooperation on the continent. In an email interview, Jed Bailey, managing partner of Energy Narrative, a research and consulting group focusing on Latin America’s energy sector, explained the recent history of and next steps for North American energy integration.

World Citizen: A Budding Love Affair Between Israel and Latin America

By: Frida Ghitis | Column
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez once tried to insult his country’s next-door neighbor Colombia by calling it the “Israel of Latin America.” But the Colombian president said he found the comparison an honor. Relations between Latin America and Israel are starting to look like a budding love affair, with Latin American countries gaining a valuable economic partner and Israel new diplomatic allies.

Regional Tensions Complicate South Sudan’s Crisis

By: Gaaki Kigambo | Briefing
The deadly conflict in South Sudan is increasingly drawing in neighboring countries driven by disparate security and economic interests, further complicating the crisis and efforts to reach a quick resolution. The U.N. has accused both sides of human rights abuses in a conflict that has so far claimed an unknown number of lives, displaced an estimated 900,000 people and shows no signs of letting up.

Diplomatic Fallout: Putin’s Failure in Ukraine Could Worsen Syria Crisis

By: Richard Gowan | Column
The Ukrainian revolution and Syrian rebellion appear to be on different trajectories. President Bashar Assad maintains a brutally tenacious hold on power, while his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, was forced from the capital, Kiev, last week. Assad may view Yanukovych’s humiliation as proof of the need for utter ruthlessness against his opponents. But the two men’s fates remain intertwined.

In Context: U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation on Display in Guzman Arrest

By: Matt Peterson | Trend Lines
The arrest of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman this weekend was remarkable not only for its images of a long-sought drug kingpin finally captured, but also for its display of close U.S.-Mexican security cooperation. Despite a reported pause in security relations, wheels were moving behind the scenes; it was the Americans, relying on U.S.-gathered intelligence, who pushed for the operation that led to Guzman’s capture.

Global Insights: Ukraine Crisis Shows Strength of NATO Partnership Policies

By: Richard Weitz | Column
Although the geopolitical tug-of-war between the European Union and Russia was recognized as a principal factor driving Ukraine’s crisis, NATO’s role is not widely understood. Though NATO took no military action in the crisis, its partnership policies toward Ukraine have helped keep the Ukrainian armed forces out of the recent street fighting and could help the country emerge from its recent security crisis.

Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Moves Forward Despite Worries

By: Eric Auner | Trend Lines
Three months after the P5+1 and Iran reached an interim agreement to limit Iranian nuclear capabilities, the negotiating parties announced last week that they had agreed on a framework for negotiation of a final comprehensive agreement. Announcing the framework agreement, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said that these negotiations, set to begin in March, would be “very tough.”

Despite Divisions, Syria’s Rebels Mark Significant Gains in Tactics, Arms

By: Balint Szlanko | Briefing
Plagued by divisions and infighting, as well as indecision among their external sponsors, Syria’s rebels have lost ground to government forces, with the Western-backed rebel grouping seen as ineffectual and disorganized. But in the past six months, some things have gone the Syrian rebels’ way. Their organization and tactics have improved, and they have better weapons, strategic depth and superiority in manpower.

Strategic Horizons: For the New Autocrats, America Needs a New Strategy

By: Steven Metz | Column
Every day seems to bring news of another nation slipping into political crisis. It's hard to know what nation will next fall off the cliff, but it's a sure bet that some will. But instead of adjusting to what will be a decade or more of turbulence, the United States is clinging to an old mode of statecraft predicated on a relatively stable international system with a consistent cast of sovereign states.

Russian Arms Talks Underscore Uncertainty of Egypt-U.S. Ties

By: Eric Auner | Trend Lines
Last November, the United States suspended aid and arms transfers to Egypt in reaction to the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. In contrast, earlier this month Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Egyptian defense minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, praising the “unconditional friendship” between Egypt and Russia countries and reportedly working to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal.

Seeking Fiscal Safety, U.S. Defense Cuts Raise Geopolitical Risk

By: Hal Brands | Briefing
More than anything else, grand strategy is about balancing risk. Given limited resources, countries cannot defend perfectly against every threat, or spend robustly on every priority at home and abroad. Yet paring down the defense budget should not be seen simply as a way of managing fiscal risk. For in doing so, the United States is necessarily courting other kinds of risk, both geopolitical and military.

The Realist Prism: Venezuela, Ukraine Challenge Assumptions Behind Defense Cuts

By: Nikolas Gvosdev | Column
The protests in Ukraine and Venezuela and the unveiling this week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel of the Obama administration’s budget request to Congress would appear to be separate and unrelated events. Yet they are linked by the challenge those developments pose to the strategic assumptions behind the defense budget, namely, that the U.S. can focus on Asia while Europe and Latin America remain quiet.

Guest Post: Winslow Wheeler, Pierre Sprey; Chuck Hagel's A-10 Legacy

Pierre Sprey and I have authored an analysis of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's statements this past Monday on the A-10.  It follows:

Chuck Hagel's A-10 Legacy

By Winslow T. Wheeler & Pierre M. Sprey

When he spoke about next year's defense budget on February 24, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed his decision to go along with the Air Force and retire all existing A-10 close air support aircraft.  In that statement, he made the following assertions:

·         "To fund these investments [the new long range bomber, the new tanker and the F-35], the Air Force will reduce the number of tactical air squadrons including the entire A-10 fleet. Retiring the A-10 fleet saves $3.5 billion over five years and accelerates the Air Force's long-standing modernization plan - which called for replacing the A-10s with the more capable F-35 in the early 2020s."

·         "The 'Warthog' is a venerable platform, and this was a tough decision. But the A-10 is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield. It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses. And as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, the advent of precision munitions means that many more types of aircraft can now provide effective close air support, from B-1 bombers to remotely piloted aircraft. And these aircraft can execute more than one mission."

·         "Moreover, the A-10's age is also making it much more difficult and costly to maintain. Significant savings are only possible through eliminating the entire fleet, because of the fixed cost of maintaining the support apparatus associated with the aircraft. Keeping a smaller number of A-10s would only delay the inevitable while forcing worse trade-offs elsewhere."

Many of these statements are questionable; several are poorly informed; at least one of them is materially incorrect. 
In saying "the A-10's age is also making it much more difficult and costly to maintain," Hagel is implying, if not saying directly, that the A-10's "40-year" age is making it so expensive compared to other aircraft that it makes little sense to keep on throwing so many more dollars at the program. 
The Air Force maintains a data base on the cost to operate and support its aircraft.  It's called the "AFCAP" database which is a part of the Air Force's Total Ownership Cost (AFTOC) program.  It is available on public request from the Air Force Comptroller's office.  Data from the 2013 version of the AFCAP database, the latest available, is at the POGO website at 
We have worked with this annually available data for the last few years, using it for analysis, reports and articles.  While it has not been yet verified by an independent audit by an outsider like GAO, it is the most comprehensive data available on the operating and support costs for Air Force aircraft. It includes all known Air Force costs to keep its aircraft operating, as well as contractor supplied logistics and services.  One variation of the cost estimates, known as "Ownership" cost, even includes the cost to modify aircraft with upgrades.
(If you are hoping for a peek into the cost to support the F-35A, you will be disappointed.  As it was explained to us the F-35 data is too incomplete and preliminary; none of it is yet available.  Moreover, flying costs for programs in their early stages are typically astronomical, and the Air Force is hardly enthusiastic about releasing preliminary data that will stun even the skeptics of the controversial F-35 program.) 
The data for every operational aircraft in the inventory are available, however.  The data address multiple issues: the total and operational number in each fleet of aircraft types, the number of hours each fleet has flown in a given year; the total cost to operate each type, and-perhaps most usefully-the cost per flying hour (CPFH) for each type of aircraft.  It is the latter that amortizes total operating costs across each aircraft in each fleet and gives an apples to apples comparison across different aircraft types; it is a measure that has been used inside DOD by specialists for decades; that it is publically available is significant.
The Air Force contends that fighter-bomber and even long range-heavy bomber aircraft can perform the close air support mission effectively enough to allow the A-10, and its "difficult and costly" maintenance burden, to be fully retired.  Thus, it would be appropriate to compare the A-10's cost per flying hour to both existing fighter-bomber and long range bomber types, both stealthy and un-stealthy-for those who think stealth is an essential survivability characteristic on modern battlefields (more on that later).   
See the data, from the Air Force Comptroller's office in the figure below.
At an "Ownership" cost per flying hour (CPFH) of $19,736, the A-10 is the cheapest in the inventory of aircraft the Air Force asserts is capable of close air support. All other aircraft, including the most prevalent version of the ground attack-capable C-130, are almost twice or more to operate-except for the F-16C/D, which at $22,954 is only slightly higher than the A-10.  A-10 operating costs have been just above or just below their 2013 level for years, making the statement "age is also making it much more difficult and costly to maintain" nonsense.
Note the extraordinary costs to operate stealth aircraft.  The F-22 costs $68,262 for every hour of flight, and it has cost close to or above that level for every year of its operational existence.  2013 is no outlier.  Note also the astronomical cost to operate the B-2A: $152,871 for each hour of flight.   However, it is lunatic to think that the Air Force would be willing to consider trading in either of those aircraft to preserve the A-10.
On the other hand, consider the B-1B.  The Air Force is just beginning $1.8 billion dollars in electronics upgrades for the B-1B, and Air Force Comptroller data shows that operating the B-1B fleet of 66 aircraft currently already costs $1.4 billion, or more, per year.  Ever since its debut in 1986, the B-1B has been beset with major problems:  it failed to meet its range threshold and has a combat radius 24 percent less than a B-52; it failed to meet its stealth requirement; its supersonic dash capability is so short as to be unusable; it has a high accident rate; its major electronics problems began long before the current upgrade, and it is only "mission capable" 57.9 percent of the time (compared to 75.3 percent for the B-52).  The Air Force has already retired a third of the fleet and has completely withdrawn it from any nuclear missions-for which it was originally designed. 
Given the B-52H fleet's better performance, higher reliability and superior utility in both conventional and nuclear missions, we would lose much less combat capability if we retired the B-1B fleet rather than the A-10, and we would save every bit of the $3.5 billion that Secretary Hagel says he needs from retiring the A-10.
Moreover, the A-10 has just finished a major and expensive program to give the aircraft a new wing; to retire it now would be to squander the $1.1 billion just spent.  Other upgrades are also just now being installed for the A-10 program.
The uniquely low cost of the A-10 aside, it is widely held conventional wisdom that the A-10 cannot survive on the modern battlefield.  Secretary Hagel expressed that widespread thinking by saying, "It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses." And, it is well beyond the pale of conventional thinking to assert that the A-10 can survive as effectively as stealth aircraft. 
That presumed sagacity is contradicted by the facts.
In Operation Desert Storm in 1991, six A-10s or OA-10s were shot down and 14 were significantly damaged.  Meanwhile no stealth F-117s were either killed or damaged, and they were the only aircraft to penetrate what the Air Force described as the heaviest air defenses of the Iraqi air defense system over downtown Baghdad. 
Doesn't that prove the conventional wisdom?
In a 235 page unclassified report, GAO extensively assessed the Desert Storm Air War.  That report evaluated the aircraft survivability data in some detail.  The casualty figures cited above are indeed accurate, but GAO also found that the stealthy F-117 flew so few combat sorties and the A-10s flew so many that their survival rates were statistically indistinguishable: GAO found that "This calculation showed that 0 hits would be the most likely outcome for a non-stealthy aircraft [including the A-10] conducting 1,788 strikes [the number of missions performed by the F-117]. This indicates that although there were no F-117 casualties in Desert Storm, the difference between its survivability and other aircraft may arise from its smaller number of strikes as much as other factors." 
GAO also found the total casualty rate of the A-10 (for aircraft both shot down and damaged) was extremely low, just 0.0023 aircraft per sortie, and that it was zero for the missions the A-10 flew at night-the only environment the F-117 was able to operate in.  Significantly, the A-10 flew sorties more frequently at night than did the F-117, and it faced both daytime and nighttime defenses more lethal than the type deployed around "downtown Baghdad" that the F-117 typically flew against, according to GAO.
Both the A-10 and the F-117 also flew in the Kosovo Air War in 1999 against Serbia.  In that conflict, one F-117 was shot down, and one was significantly damaged.  Flying a greater number of sorties, no A-10 was shot down.
While it may fly in the face of accepted wisdom in Washington that the A-10 is too slow and primitive to survive modern air defenses, it has already survived such defenses, precisely as it was designed to.  In addition, it has done so at a rate that equals or exceeds that of more sophisticated (complex and expensive) aircraft, such as the F-117.  And, there is reason to believe that if a thin-skinned and highly flammable aircraft like the F-35 attempted to perform all elements of the close support mission, it would prove far, far more vulnerable than the A-10.
Third, as it has in multiple conflicts, the A-10 also flew multiple mission types in Desert Storm, including not just tank busting and close support against infantry but suppression of enemy air defenses, combat search and rescue, battlefield search, and even air-to-air combat-against helicopters, against which the A-10 is extremely lethal.  GAO also found the A-10 to be extraordinarily effective against that wide variety of targets, just as Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans persistently report it is today. 
In 1991, Iraqi war prisoners told DOD interviewers that the A-10 was one of two aircraft they feared the most; the other was the B-52. 
Also, while no one was looking, the A-10 has been totally modernized, now using a variety of guided munitions, the latest video displays and improved radios, essential for direct contact with troops-and missing from other Air Force aircraft.
To dismiss the A-10 as an ancient "single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield" is hogwash.
The fourth key element of Secretary Hagel's argument against the A-10 is that "the advent of precision munitions means that many more types of aircraft can now provide effective close air support."  That statement ignores essential elements of the close support mission.
Far more than hitting a specific target list is involved, if and when guided munitions, such as GPS-guided JDAMs or laser guided bombs (LGBs), can do that.  (In its study of the Desert Storm Air War, GAO found that LGBs could not be used in any adverse weather conditions--or even Persian Gulf levels of humidity--or against certain types of targets.  The probability that a technologically competent enemy will render GPS guidance unusable in the future is considered high by experts.)
More importantly, as pilots and ground force leaders made clear at two seminars on close air support in late 2013, there are essential elements to the close support mission that high speed, high altitude, delicate, multi-role fighter-bombers and long range heavy bombers can do only poorly or not at all.
Due to their un-maneuverability and vulnerability to small arms fire, bombers and high speed jets cannot operate in mountain valleys or under 1000 foot cloud ceilings, exactly the conditions enemy forces favor for attacks against our troops. Video, radar and infra-red sensors in high speed planes at 10,000 feet and above have resolution too poor to reliably find targets requested by ground troops or to find threatening targets the troops can't see. Nor can they safely separate friends from enemies, or combatants from civilians.  
Even more importantly, effective close support requires pilots who have an intimate understanding of ground tactics and the constantly shifting ground battle--skills obtainable only through specialized and dedicated close support training and combat experience.  Crucial is direct, constant professional exchange with ground troops ("living in each others' arm pits") to develop the bonds and implicit communication essential to cope effectively with the split second decisions and stress of land combat.  A-10 pilots, focusing only on supporting ground combat, do these things as a matter of routine. Multi-role fighter pilots, let alone long range bomber pilots, do none of that.  The dispersal of this uniquely skilled close air support A-10 pilot cadre will be the biggest loss of all if the air force gets its way on the a-10 controversy.  It is that which Secretary Hagel seems to understand the least. 
As a combat veteran and non-commissioned officer of the Vietnam War, Chuck Hagel should understand these things.  It would seem that he suffers not from the fog of war but from the miasma of being too long at the upper regions of politics and from the sludge being served up to him by Air force leaders too eager to drop their moral obligation to American soldiers and marines engaged in combat-now or in the future.  Mediocre close air support is not what those troops deserve.  We should like to see what Secretary Hagel tells the family of the next American serviceman killed in action because he let the brass convince him our country could only give soldiers and marines second rate support.
The A-10 should stay in the inventory of the American armed forces for however many years it takes for us to field a plane that does an even better job of supporting the troops.
Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.
Pierre M. Sprey, together with Air Force Cols John Boyd and Everest Riccioni, brought to fruition the F-16; he also led the design team for the A-10 and helped implement the program.  He is one of a very small number of Pentagon insiders who started the military reform movement in the late 1960s.

The weird, wacky & cool energy ideas coming out of labs across the US

Areva Hit By EUR 425 Million Losses On Olkiluoto-3 Project

Areva Hit By EUR 425 Million Losses On Olkiluoto-3 Project

Should the Military Pull All Forces Out of Afghanistan After 2014?

Should the Military Pull All Forces Out of Afghanistan After 2014?

EDITORIAL: The lies governments tell

EDITORIAL: The lies governments tell

How British spies pursue domestic annoyances, not terrorists

Liberal Prof.: Obama Has Brought Us to ‘Constitutional Tipping Point’

Liberal Prof.: Obama Has Brought Us to ‘Constitutional Tipping Point’

'It’s a dangerous point for our system to be in'

New Food Labels May Face Industry Resistance

New Food Labels May Face Industry Resistance

Food labels would have larger-font calorie counts and more realistic portion
sizes under an Obama administration proposal to significantly revise nutrition
labels for the first time in two decades.

The proposal, to be unveiled by first lady Michelle Obama at the White House on
Thursday, aims to make it easier for consumers to decipher unhealthy ingredients

Is Russia Saying One Thing But Doing Another?

Is Russia Saying One Thing But Doing Another?

Unmarked soldiers have seized both Sevastopol and Simferopol airports, and have
established roadblocks at key locations in the Crimea. The deposed president,
Viktor Yanukovych, who still maintains he is the legitimate head of state, is
due to give a press conference shortly in Rostov-on-Don in Russia. While Russia
continues to vow that it will respect [...]

Has the World's Largest Cyberattack Been Detected

Has the World's Largest Cyberattack Been Detected

An internet security firm has stumbled upon a "mind boggling" and
"Godzilla-sized" cache of personal data put up for sale on the online black
market by hackers.

One of the hacker attacks stole over 105 million records making it the single
largest data breach in cybercrime history.

The trove included credentials from more than 360 million accounts and around
1.25 billion email addresses.

LAPD Taking Lessons From NSA

LAPD Taking Lessons From NSA

Edward Snowden ripped the blinds off the surveillance state last summer with his
leak of top-secret National Security Agency documents, forcing a national
conversation about spying in the post-9/11 era. However, there's still no
concrete proof that America's elite intelligence units are analyzing most
Americans' computer and telephone activity — even though they can.

GCHQ Revealed: Inside Her Majesty's Listening Service By Christoph Scheuermann

GCHQ Revealed: Inside Her Majesty's Listening Service

By Christoph Scheuermann

The Latest from FP 2/28

The Latest from FP

How AIPAC is severing its historical roots -- and weakening its influence.

Zionist Movement

How AIPAC is severing its historical roots -- and weakening its influence.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobby once dubbed an "800-pound gorilla" for its ability to frighten senators and representatives into supporting its efforts on behalf of Israel, recently seems to have lost a bit of heft. Beginning last fall, it strongly backed legislation that, if passed, could have derailed ongoing negotiations to restrain Iran's nuclear program. That bill obligated President Barack Obama to seek a deal requiring Iran to dismantle all its nuclear facilities, while also forcing him to certify that Iran was neither supporting terrorism nor testing ballistic missiles -- and it would have imposed new sanctions if those conditions were not met. (An interim deal reached last November limited Iran's enrichment activities but did not require the closure of any facilities.) The Obama administration opposed the legislation, but spurred by AIPAC's efforts, the bill garnered 59 co-sponsors in the Senate -- one shy of ensuring that it could overcome a filibuster.

What Would Kennan Say to Obama?

The New York Times | Op-Ed Contributor

What Would Kennan Say to Obama?

“I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” Barack Obama volunteered to David Remnick in a recent interview. Obama got it wrong. He, and we as a nation, do need Mr. Kennan now, as much as at the dawn of the Cold War.

Take politics out of diplomacy:

Take politics out of diplomacy: USA Today Column
Let's stop pimping American ambassadorships out to the highest bidders.
by Thomas Pickering And Nicholas Kralev • Feb. 27, 2014 2 min read original President Obama(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
Diplomacy is easy and anyone can do it. This is the message U.S. presidents of both parties have been sending the American people and the world for decades. They have done so not verbally, but through their actions, giving away ambassadorial posts as rewards to unqualified people only because they were top fundraisers during the presidents' election campaigns.

Novel study puts Fukushima doses into perspective

A newly published study of the radiation doses received by Fukushima residents has concluded that most people in the prefecture are unlikely to receive doses significantly different to normal background radiation levels as a result of the accident.

Top Republicans Call for Return to Cold War

Top Republicans Call for Return to Cold War

America Turns East, China Turns West

Feb 28, 2014 02:00 am | Richard L. Russell
Richard L. Russell
“Bugging out” is exactly what our friends and foes alike in the greater Middle East think the United States is doing after more than a decade of war in the region. And perceptions are just as important as realities in international politics. Players in the region saw that the United States withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011 only to have the country return to the grips of sectarian violence. Many anticipate that the United States is soon to do the same by leaving few, if any, forces in Afghanistan to significantly increase the prospects for an upswing in Taliban violence.
To jaded observers, President Obama is bugging out of the Middle East under the guise of a strategic “pivot” to Asia. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton publicly launched the administration’s pivot in the pages of Foreign Policy in October 2011. Although administration officials subsequently have tried to talk about “rebalancing” rather than pivoting, the later term still lingers. The president’s national-security adviser, Susan Rice, in a November 2013 speech at Georgetown University, claimed that “…rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific remains a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.” This so-called “cornerstone” of President Obama’s foreign policy looms large in the future of American grand strategy and warrants critical appraisal.
read more

NATO in Combat, Twenty Years On

Feb 28, 2014 02:00 am | John R. Deni
Twenty years ago today, NATO conducted its first combat operation in history. Since that precedent-setting event, the alliance has engaged in numerous ‘out-of-area’ combat operations, from Kosovo to the Khyber Pass. As the alliance prepares to end its combat mission in Afghanistan this year, doubts have been raised over whether NATO’s longest, largest operation beyond Europe’s shores might be its last. Such a view is long on the politics of today and short on strategic perspective though, and there is growing evidence to suggest NATO will remain as committed to defending its interests beyond its members’ territory, continuing a trajectory begun exactly two decades ago.
In the skies over Bosnia in February 1994, the allies were responsible for enforcing a no-fly zone established by the United Nations. The UN had initially set up the no-fly zone in October 1992, asking organizations like NATO to assist in monitoring compliance. However, as the war in Bosnia intensified later that year and into the next—and as evidence grew of increased Serbian attacks against civilian and military targets within Muslim enclaves—the UN formally requested NATO assistance in enforcing the no-fly zone, and the alliance obliged.
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Ukraine: Will Putin Strike?

Feb 28, 2014 02:00 am | Joergen Oerstroem Moeller
The world should brace itself for a Putin strike to prevent Ukraine from turning towards the West.
For those in doubt, suffice to recall President Putin’s statement in 2006 that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century.
Ukraine firmly anchored in the Western system, on its way towards membership of the EU in due course, or even worse, a member of NATO—these are outcomes he will never tolerate. It would be the final straw in dismantling Russian attempts to extend its influence over the ‘near abroad’—those parts of Central and Eastern Europe that escaped domination by Russia in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Putin has several times invoked Russia’s right to influence, labelling the ‘near abroad’ strategically vital for Russia. Giving up, especially under such circumstances as these, would be tantamount to a humiliating defeat more than wiping out his diplomatic triumphs (Syria, for example) last year. And the domestic strongman image Putin has carefully cultivated cannot be reconciled with being outmaneuvered by the West and sidelined by a large part of the Ukrainian population.
From Putin’s perspective, this is not only a question of geopolitical power, but an omen of what may happen to Russia’s own political system. If the Ukrainian people can topple a president propped up by Russia (to the tune of cheap gas prices and a USD 15 billion credit line), the same can happen inside Russia. Consequently, it may be that for Putin no cost is too high to prevent such an outcome in Ukraine. People power and the lure of the Western system must not prevail. What is happening in Ukraine is synonymous with a looming threat to his own power.
read more

TNI Interviews John B. Judis

Feb 28, 2014 02:00 am | John Allen Gay
John B. Judis talks to Jacob Heilbrunn about his new book Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict. Bernard Wasserstein reviewed the book in the current issue of TNI; Heilbrunn observed the firestorm it's provoked on his blog.

Indonesia’s South China Sea Options

Indonesia’s South China Sea Options

Exclusive First Read
Indonesia has the potential to defend its maritime interests, but for now it will need a partner.

The week with IPS 2/28

Economic Reforms Needed for Peace in South Sudan
Charlton Doki
Gatmai Deng lost three family members in the violence that erupted in South Sudan on Dec. 15 and lasted until the end of January. And he blames their deaths on the government’s failure to use the country’s vast oil revenues to create a better life for its almost 11 million people. When the ... MORE > >

North Korea Doing Fine Without the South
Ahn Mi Young
If the North Korea of the 1990s was seen as a starving nation that produced an exodus of hungry people, then the picture should be even gloomier now – six years after it stopped receiving South Korea’s generous aid. But it’s not. The nation of 24 million people, widely said to be the most secretive ... MORE > >

U.N. Report on South Sudan Paints Grim Picture
Samuel Oakford
An interim human rights report released by the beleaguered U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan is being tentatively hailed by rights groups and observers who have pressured the mission to be more transparent with its findings. The report, delivered to the Security Council Friday and tweeted ... MORE > >

Smuggled Medicines Save Lives
Ashfaq Yusufzai
They are contraband, yet a large number of Pakistanis have come to depend on drugs made in India and smuggled into Pakistan. Patients as well as doctors say these are cheap and effective, even as law enforcers look the other way. The two countries do not have a trade agreement on drugs, but ... MORE > >

U.S., EU Out-Manoeuvred by Syria
Thalif Deen
An inflow of Russian-made weapons. Political and military support from Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Sharp dissension among fractious rebel groups. And the unyielding loyalty of the armed forces. These are four primary reasons why Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has succeeded ... MORE > >

EU No Instant Saviour for Ukraine
Pavol Stracansky
Ukrainians are facing years of pain and upheaval if the country moves towards closer EU integration – or the prospect of the country being left to “rot” if they do not, experts say following the weekend’s revolution. European leaders have pledged support for the East European state following the ... MORE > >

Where Would You Like Your New Glacier?
Marianela Jarroud
The idea sounds like harebrained science-fiction, but the accelerated retreat of glaciers due to global warming and the effects of mining is leading scientists to seek to restore or recreate these valuable reservoirs of fresh water. “There are a number of technologies for saving and creating new ... MORE > >

Somalis Caught in Crossfire as Al-Shabaab ‘Plays to Survive’
Ahmed Osman
As the Somali government plans to launch a new military campaign to wipe out the Islamic extremist group, Al-Shabaab, from its strongholds in this Horn of Africa nation, experts say that its Somalia’s innocent who live in areas controlled by the group who will suffer the most. On Friday, ... MORE > >

Ayurveda Offers Balm to Cancer Patients
K. S. Harikrishnan
Balakrishnan, a labourer from Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala, was suffering from oral cancer. He was admitted to the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in Thiruvananthapuram. After the first course of radiation therapy, the 60-year-old could not eat or drink because of severe pain and ... MORE > >

‘Humanitarian Crisis’ for Ogaden Living Near Ethiopia’s Oil Fields
Ed McKenna
New allegations of scorched earth evictions of the Ogaden people have raised concerns that a lack of benefit sharing could escalate instability in the region and reinforce separatist tensions as foreign energy companies prepare to extract oil and gas from troubled southeastern Ethiopia. “The ... MORE > >

Poverty Rises Amidst Gold
Catherine Wilson
Natural reserves such as gold, copper, nickel, gas and timber are being extracted in the western Pacific island states of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to feed the soaring economies of East and South East Asia. But despite these Pacific nations recording economic growth rates of 6-11 percent ... MORE > >

Recession and Repression Fuel Anger
Pavol Stracansky
As Ukraine’s capital experiences the worst violence in its post-Soviet history, some protestors are warning that the festering discontent with the regime which led to the current crisis is unlikely to disappear overnight even if a solution to the current impasse is found. When the ... MORE > >