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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Hybrid Wars: What Is New And What Is Not?




By Harry Targ

Diary of a Heartland Radical

On The Law of Hybrid Wars

Andrew Korybko, a Russian scholar/journalist, has written about a new concept, “hybrid wars,” with a long history in practice. The author refers to the Law of Hybrid War as “The grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political etc.) within a targeted transit state” (Andrew Korybko, “Hybrid Wars 1. The Law of Hybrid Warfare,” Oriental Review.org, 4/3.2016). His  concern was United States targeted efforts to undermine efforts by Russia to integrate with Eurasian states and the US desire to disrupt China’s “silk road” projects. It is clear that the concept refers also to efforts by imperial states, particularly the United States, to undermine any efforts by other countries to develop political and economic solidarity that might threaten regional or global hegemony. And Korybko added that ”Hybrid Wars are externally provoked asymmetrical conflicts predicated on sabotaging concrete geoeconomic interests.”

The tactics of Hybrid War prioritize identifying strategic weaknesses in target states. These do not necessarily prioritize targeting roads, bridges, or power plants for destruction but rather economic, political, ethnic, or other vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities may include ethnicity, religion, history, administrative boundaries, and socioeconomic disparities. Using “soft power” the imperial state supports the introduction of seemingly neutral technologies or processes, such as the internet in the target country. New intrusions are supported by some NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) such as the Soros Foundation or the National Endowment for Democracy. NGOs claim to be motivated to facilitate political and economic development. As David Harvey has suggested NGO projects come with a frame of reference, a goal, and/or a conception of desirable economic or political paths the host country should take. From the Hybrid War perspective these intrusions are used to exacerbate the class, ethnic, and/or geopolitical tensions in the target state.

Most important for our analysis is the argument raised by Korybko that a critical precondition for imposing hybrid war (and a critical tool of it) is the pressure brought by “globally recognized” sanctions. Early in the process of imperial intrusion, victimized states experience increased costs for importing critical commodities, food, energy etc., constraints imposed on exports, and denial of loan requests from international financial institutions. As political instability increases, targeted states are forced to spend more on security, thus sucking resources away from domestic needs. Thus, the Law of Hybrid War involves an imperial state deciding that transnational projects constitute a threat to its rule and assessing historic vulnerabilities of targeted states. Then the imperialists institute policies of intrusion on target states through technology, expansion of an NGO presence, and organizing a global sanctions regime against the targeted state. From a Hybrid War perspective, the imperial power hopes for such an exacerbation of tensions so that regime change will occur without the introduction of foreign troops.

https://orientalreview.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/08/AKHybridWarsupdated.pdf

Hybrid Wars in Latin America

A team of researchers affiliated with Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, published an essay online called “Venezuela and Hybrid Wars in Latin America,” June, 2019. The summary conclusion they drew indicates that “The elements of the hybrid war include: economic and financial suffocation economic destabilization, media and diplomatic blockades, the promotion of violence inside the country—including assassinations—the generation of chaos with the attack on essential services (including the electricity grid), the pressure for an institutional fracture or a coup d’etat and, finally, the threat of an external military intervention” (44).

 What we learn from the concept of Hybrid War (which is not new) is that instead of launching gun boat diplomacy as a first tactic (as in the case of over 30 US military interventions in Latin America from 1898 until the 1930s), the United States, in order to overcome developing regional solidarity against hegemony, identifies vulnerabilities in the most significant states (Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua) and launches a multidimensional campaign of destabilization, with traditional military intervention as just a last resort. High on the list are economic sanctions, commercial blockades, networking with dissidents from the wealthy, promoting a dissident local media, generating a whole media narrative for consumption in the United States and Europe that challenges the legitimacy of the existing governments, and generates a discourse among intellectuals, “experts,” that justify Hybrid War strategies. The latter particularly are inserted into left and progressive conversations about US policy. A significant facilitator of these destabilizing strategies iinclude socalled NonGovernment Organizations (NGOs) which often provide aid, promote education, advocate for specific economic development models, and promote religious agendas. At the level of culture the imagery of high mass consumption and how it is intimately connected to a neoliberal economic model undergirds the Hybrid War project. And again, if all else fails, militarism remains an option (and throughout the period of Hybrid War, war remains a threat). https://mronline.org/2019/06/10/dossier17venezuelaandhybridwarsinlatinamerica/

Meanings of the Hybrid War Concept for the Peace Movement

We can deduce a variety of conclusions from the Law of Hybrid Wars.

First, twenty-first century imperialism is not solely or primarily about fighting wars.

Second, hegemonic powers, such as the United States, see coalitions of states as a threat to global dominance. This is true in Eurasia, the countries along the Silk Road, and in Latin America where a crippled Bolivarian Revolution survives.

Third, strategists do not primarily act impulsively. They see a threat, which includes transnational cooperation and resistance. Strategists then identify weak links in threatened coalitions. They formulate multidimensional, stagebystage responses. And these responses involve economics, culture, sowing seeds of division, promoting demonic narratives about target states, and at the same time they leave “all options on the table,” which means traditional military action.

Fourth, the Law of Hybrid War suggests that the peace movement must treat economic blockades, efforts to isolate target states in the international system, blatant lies about target nations as acts of war.

Fifth, the peace movement needs to be wary of false narratives and NGOs that are presented as philanthropic.

Finally, it behooves the peace movement to be cognizant of twentyfirst century methods of imperialism; fashioning strategies that clearly and compellingly identify and combat economic sanctions, false narratives, and institutions that seem to be philanthropic as acts of war.

This analysis resonates currently with daily news accounts involving Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran and, while more complicated, Russia and China.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Biden's Military Policy




A Chinese Perspective on Avoiding Military Clashes




By Li Yan

China Focus via PLA Daily

Dec 30, 2020 - When he enters the White House as president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden may find it hard to make any fundamental revisions to America's China policy. It is more likely for his administration to change the way pressure is exerted on China, or to add more engagement or cooperative elements. This is a rather widely held view among U.S. strategists, reflecting both the long-term impact of the Donald Trump administration's China policy and the possibility for the traditional Democratic worldview to reshape it.

This framework for analysis is particularly useful where U.S. military policy toward China is concerned. On one hand, the military questions have always been sensitive and served as a touchstone for the state of China-U.S. relations. The Trump administration has fundamentally changed U.S. policy toward China, with clear military and security implications. Over the past four years, the U.S. has launched a new round of military action targeting China, leading to a visible cooling down of mil-to-mil interactions across the board. On the other hand, the military is the key to peaceful co-existence or the lack of it between China and the U.S. On this point, both Republican and Democratic administrations agree. But there are subtle differences between them in the approaches and strategies for military competition with China.

The Biden administration may adopt a “cautious containment” military policy toward China. This policy will have two prominent features. First, containing or hedging China's military modernization drive will top the Biden administration's agenda in dealing with China. This is determined by the basic American perception of China's military development. In recent years, the U.S. has developed an increasingly grave evaluation of China's military modernization and about the military balance between the U.S. and China. The DIA's 2019 Chinese military power report and the Pentagon's 2020 report on China's military and security developments both discussed the rapid breakthroughs in various systems in Chinese military modernization and their impact on America's overseas military deployment, training and logistical support.From the U.S. perspective, a local balance of military power with China may soon emerge, particularly in the Western Pacific, threatening U.S. regional dominance. In this connection, for the U.S. it is imperative to contain China's rapid military development. With wide bipartisan agreement on this point, the Biden administration is very likely to carry on the Trump administration's policies and prioritize containment in its military strategy. More attention will be paid to reach the policy goal through more comprehensive means, such as better distributed military deployments in the region, technological research and development and greater reliance on alliances.

Second, while pursuing containment, the Biden administration will, with extreme caution, also make attempts to avoid major military frictions with China. In this connection, Biden may re-emphasize the role of military exchanges with China, which will mean opportunities for bilateral military dialogue and exchanges at all levels to restart.That is a major point of departure from Trump. During the Obama administration, with strong pushes from China, mil-to-mil exchanges developed significantly to become a highlight and stabilizer in China-U.S. relations. As a witness to the warm exchanges between the two militaries, Biden declared during his campaign that China was a “competitor rather than a threat,” indicating a desire to bear in mind military competition with China while managing competition to prevent it from triggering friction or even conflict.Biden's national security nominees include Tony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Lloyd Austin, all former Obama administration officials with policy views similar to those of Biden himself. They are traditional and professional in foreign and military policies, emphasize the role of rules and allies and advocate caution with regard to the use of military means, which may add an element of caution to the American view of military frictions and the risk of an arms race.

The China-U.S. relationship has experienced a sharp decline over the past few years, and today it is at a new historical juncture. In his congratulatory message to Biden on his election, President Xi Jinping reiterated the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and argued for healthy and stable development of relations. He hoped that the U.S. side will recognize again the significance of a stable China-U.S. relationship, that the two countries will move toward each other on major sensitive issues such as military security, take concrete measures to ensure peaceful coexistence and healthy competition, avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations through resumed mil-to-mil exchanges and secure a generally stable global security situation through practical cooperation.

Editor's Note: The author Li Yan is the deputy director of Institute of American Studies, CICIR. This article is originally published on chinausfocus.com. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Trump Reportedly Entertained Michael Flynn’s 'Martial Law' Proposal in Meeting

 












President Donald Trump sits with the United States Military Academy Corps of Cadets during the game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen at Michie Stadium on December 12, 2020, in West Point, New York. DUSTIN SATLOFF / GETTY IMAGES

By Jake Johnson 

Common Dreams via Truthout

Dec 20, 2020 - During a meeting at the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump reportedly asked his advisers about retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s recent suggestion that the administration impose martial law and use the military to conduct a “rerun” of the November presidential election.

According to the New York Times, which first reported the discussion Saturday, Trump’s advisers pushed back against Flynn’s proposal and other ideas the president floated during the meeting, including his suggestion that notorious right-wing attorney Sidney Powell be named special counsel for an investigation into baseless allegations of widespread “voter fraud.” Flynn, who Trump pardoned last month, was reportedly present at the White House meeting.

In a tweet early Sunday morning, Trump — who is set to leave office in a month — denied that he raised Flynn’s call for martial law, dismissing the Times story as “fake news” and “knowingly bad reporting.”

The Associated Press reported that during the Friday meeting, the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani “pushed Trump to seize voting machines in his hunt for evidence of fraud.”

While Trump is unlikely to do anything resembling what Flynn and Giuliani suggested, observers warned that the lame-duck president’s willingness to entertain such proposals highlights the threat he still poses to democracy on his way out the door.

A week ago 126 of my Republican colleagues violated the Constitution by supporting Trump’s attempt to steal the election,” tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.), referring to GOP support for a Texas-led lawsuit that the Supreme Court rejected earlier this month. “How many support Trump’s discussion of military dictatorship?”

Axios reported Saturday that senior Trump administration officials, whom the outlet did not name, are growing “increasingly alarmed that President Trump might unleash — and abuse — the power of government in an effort to overturn the clear result of the election.”

“Their fears include Trump’s interest in former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s wild talk of martial law; an idea floated of an executive order to commandeer voting machines; and the specter of Sidney Powell, the conspiracy-spewing election lawyer, obtaining governmental power and a top-level security clearance,” according to Axios.

In response to the Axios story, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) dismissed the Trump advisers’ supposed alarm as “all for show,” given that they’ve repeatedly enabled the president’s past abuses.

“They have empowered him as he destroys democratic institutions and embarrasses the U.S. globally,” Omar tweeted. “They are shameless.”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ten Foreign Policy Fiascos Joe Biden Can Fix on Day One

 










"The U.S. should also accept its share of responsibility for what many have called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and provide Yemen with funding to feed its people, restore its healthcare system and eventually rebuild this devastated country," write Benjamin and Davies. "Biden should restore and expand USAID funding and recommit U.S. financial support to the UN, the WHO, and to World Food Program relief programs in Yemen."

By Medea Benjamin & Nicolas J.S. Davies

Common Dreams

Nov 19, 2020 - "The U.S. should also accept its share of responsibility for what many have called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and provide Yemen with funding to feed its people, restore its healthcare system and eventually rebuild this devastated country," write Benjamin and Davies. "Biden should restore and expand USAID funding and recommit U.S. financial support to the UN, the WHO, and to World Food Program relief programs in Yemen."

Donald Trump loves executive orders as a tool of dictatorial power, avoiding the need to work through Congress. But that works both ways, making it relatively easy for President Biden to reverse many of Trump’s most disastrous decisions. Here are ten things Biden can do as soon as he takes office. Each one can set the stage for broader progressive foreign policy initiatives, which we have also outlined.

1) End the U.S. role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen and restore U.S. humanitarian aid to Yemen. 

Congress already passed a War Powers Resolution to end the U.S. role in the Yemen war, but Trump vetoed it, prioritizing war machine profits and a cozy relationship with the horrific Saudi dictatorship. Biden should immediately issue an executive order to end every aspect of the U.S. role in the war, based on the resolution that Trump vetoed.

The U.S. should also accept its share of responsibility for what many have called the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, and provide Yemen with funding to feed its people, restore its healthcare system and eventually rebuild this devastated country. Biden should restore and expand USAID funding and recommit U.S. financial support to the UN, the WHO, and to World Food Program relief programs in Yemen.

2) Suspend all U.S. arms sales and transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Both countries are responsible for massacring civilians in Yemen, and the UAE is reportedly the largest arms supplier to General Haftar’s rebel forces in Libya. Congress passed bills to suspend arms sales to both of them, but Trump vetoed them too. Then he struck arms deals worth $24 billion with the UAE as part of an obscene military and commercial ménage à trois between the U.S., the UAE and Israel, which he absurdly tried to pass off as a peace agreement.   

While mostly ignored at the behest of the weapons companies, there are actually U.S. laws that require the suspension of arms transfers to countries that use them to violate U.S. and international law. They include the Leahy Law that prohibits the U.S. from providing military assistance to foreign security forces that commit gross violations of human rights; and the Arms Export Control Act, which states that countries must use imported U.S. weapons only for legitimate self defense.

Once these suspensions are in place, the Biden administration should seriously review the legality of Trump’s arms sales to both countries, with a view to canceling them and banning future sales. Biden should commit to applying these laws consistently and uniformly to all U.S. military aid and arms sales, without making exceptions for Israel, Egypt or other U.S. allies.

3) Rejoin the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA) and lift sanctions on Iran.

After reneging on the JCPOA, Trump slapped draconian sanctions on Iran, brought us to the brink of war by killing its top general, and is even trying to order up illegal, aggressive war plans in his last days as president. The Biden administration will face an uphill battle undoing this web of hostile actions and the deep mistrust they have caused, so Biden must act decisively to restore mutual trust: immediately rejoin the JCPOA, lift the sanctions, and stop blocking the $5 billion IMF loan that Iran desperately needs to deal with the COVID crisis.

In the longer term, the U.S. should give up the idea of regime change in Iran—this is for the people of Iran to decide—and instead restore diplomatic relations and start working with Iran to deescalate other Middle East conflicts, from Lebanon to Syria to Afghanistan, where cooperation with Iran is essential.

4) End U.S. threats and sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Nothing so brazenly embodies the U.S. government’s enduring, bipartisan disdain for international law as its failure to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). If President Biden is serious about recommitting the U.S. to the rule of law, he should submit the Rome Statute to the U.S. Senate for ratification to join 120 other countries as members of the ICC. The Biden administration should also accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which the U.S. rejected after the Court convicted the U.S. of aggression and ordered it to pay reparations to Nicaragua in 1986. Continued

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Hero’s Welcome: Inside Evo Morales’ Triumphant Return Tour to Bolivia

 


By Oliver Vargas

La Paz

Nov 15, 2020 - The return of Evo Morales to Bolivia on November 9, one day after President Luis Arce’s inauguration, marked the formal end of last year’s United States-backed coup.

What does his return mean for Bolivia, and for the world? Is he just a former president who the media will turn to periodically for comment? Is he yesterday’s news to his party? The answers to those questions remain unclear, but what is clear is that his three-day return tour was a statement that he intends to provide strong leadership for social movements in Bolivia and abroad.

Corporate media, both national and international, have been promoting a narrative that Morales is somehow in conflict with the incoming government of Luis Arce. A recent piece in the New York Times stated, “Mr Morales return now risks undermining Mr Arce’s efforts to bring the nation together to overcome the crisis,”’ and Reuters classified Arce as being “in Evo’s Shadow.”

Of course, Bolivia’s coup government knew that Morales would strengthen, not weaken, any future MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) government. They understood that he was, and is, the leader of Bolivia’s powerful social movements. They knew they had to keep him out of the country, so they piled on more than 20 criminal charges and a warrant for his immediate arrest if he ever set foot on Bolivian soil. The charges included terrorism, sedition, genocide, and more.

Morales was forced to escape to Mexico after the coup, he then moved to Argentina where he was also given asylum. The absurdity of the charges was proven when the coup regime, through its own hubris, took them to Interpol in an effort to force Morales’ adopted country to hand him over. Of course, Interpol rejected the two attempts to place a "red alert" on Morales, as they considered the charges against him to be political and without any legal basis.

Thrown out by international bodies, the legal persecution against Morales also collapsed at home. Just after the October 18 election results handed a victory to MAS, the power of the regime to pressure Bolivia’s courts immediately evaporated, and his arrest warrant was lifted just days after the election.

The stage was now set for his return to Bolivia. November 9 was a carnival fit for a king. He crossed the border on foot, from the Argentinian town of La Quiaca to the Bolivian town of Villazon with tens of thousands of supporters ready to receive him. As one of the many reporters there, I was naive enough to believe that the crowds would be kept at bay by the union activists from the Chapare region who were the designated security, but I quickly lost my good position as the masses of assembled supporters immediately overwhelmed the burly men who were supposed to form a protective ring around Evo.

Looking to the future

Our cameras jolted about as we were dangerously squashed by the sheer weight of those trying to touch him or at least take a photo. His victory parade went from the border to the town’s central plaza, about five blocks from the bridge through which he entered...more

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

US Cold War China Policy Will Isolate the US, Not China

 


'The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War,' write Benjamin and Davies, ' the U.S. military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its 'New' Cold War is just a revival of the old --CodePink

The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet.


By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies 

Common Dreams

Aug 4, 2020 - Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new U.S. sanctions and no less than three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the U.S. to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy. 

Most of the U.S. complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching U.S. election. 

Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers, and that this “has a wag the dog feel to it.” 

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been going toe-to-toe with Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a potentially dangerous “tough on China” contest, which could prove difficult for the winner to walk back after the election. 

Elections aside, there are two underlying forces at play in the current escalation of tensions, one economic and the other military. China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, and, until recently, Western corporations were glad to make the most of its huge pool of cheap labor, weak workplace and environmental protections, and growing consumer market. Western leaders welcomed China into their club of wealthy, powerful countries with little fuss about human and civil rights or China's domestic politics. 

So what has changed? U.S.high-tech companies like Apple, which were once only too glad to outsource American jobs and train Chinese contractors and engineers to manufacture their products, are finally confronting the reality that they have not just outsourced jobs, but also skills and technology. Chinese companies and highly skilled workers are now leading some of the world’s latest technological advances.   

The global rollout of 5G cellular technology has become a flashpoint, not because the increase and higher frequency of EMF radiation it involves may be dangerous to human health, which is a real concern, but because Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE have developed and patented much of the critical infrastructure involved, leaving Silicon Valley in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up. 

Also, if the U.S.’s 5G infrastructure is built by Huawei and ZTE instead of AT&T and Verizon, the U.S. government will no longer be able to require “back doors” that the NSA can use to spy on us all, so it is instead stoking fears that China could insert its own back doors in Chinese equipment to spy on us instead. Left out of the discussion is the real solution: repeal the Patriot Act and make sure that all the technology we use in our daily lives is secure from the prying eyes of both the U.S. and foreign governments.      

China is investing in infrastructure all over the world. As of March 2020, a staggering 138 countries have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. China’s international influence will only be enhanced by its success, and the U.S. failure, in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.  

On the military front, the Obama and Trump administrations have both tried to “pivot to Asia” to confront China, even as the U.S. military remains bogged down in the Middle East.  With a war-weary public demanding an end to the endless wars that have served to justify record military spending for nearly 20 years, the U.S. military-industrial complex has to find more substantial enemies to justify its continued existence and budget-busting costs. Lockheed Martin is not ready to switch from building billion-dollar warplanes on cost-plus contracts to making wind turbines and solar panels.  

The only targets the U.S. can find to justify a $740-billion military budget and 800 overseas military bases are its familiar old Cold War enemies: Russia and China. They both expanded their modest military budgets after 2011, when the U.S. and its allies hi-jacked the Arab Spring to launch covert and proxy wars in Libya, where China had substantial oil interests, and Syria, a long-term Russian ally. But their increases in military spending were only relative. In 2019, China’s military budget was only $261 billion compared to the U.S.’s $732 billion, according to SIPRI. The U.S. still spends more on its military than the ten next largest military powers combined, including Russia and China.   

Russian and Chinese military forces are almost entirely defensive, with an emphasis on advanced and effective anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. Neither Russia nor China has invested in carrier strike groups to sail the seven seas or U.S.-style expeditionary forces to attack or invade countries on the other side of the planet. But they do have the forces and weapons they need to defend themselves and their people from any U.S. attack and both are nuclear powers, making a major war against either of them a more serious prospect than the U.S. military has faced anywhere since the Second World War.

 

China and Russia are both deadly serious about defending themselves, but we should not misinterpret that as enthusiasm for a new arms race or a sign of aggressive intentions on their part. It is U.S. imperialism and militarism that are driving the escalating tensions. The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War, the U.S. military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its “New" Cold War is just a revival of the old Cold War that it spent the last three decades telling us it already won. 

'China Is Not an Enemy'

 The U.S. and China do not have to be enemies. Just a year ago, a hundred U.S. business, political and military leaders signed a public letter to President Trump in the Washington Post entitled “China Is Not an Enemy.” They wrote that China is not “an economic enemy or an existential national security threat,” and U.S opposition “will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”

 They concluded that, “U.S. efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” and that the U.S. “could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.”

 That is precisely what is happening. Governments all over the world are collaborating with China to stop the spread of coronavirus and share the solutions with all who need them. The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet. Only by cooperating with other nations and international organizations can we stop the pandemic—and address the coronavirus-sparked economic meltdown gripping the world economy and the many challenges we must all face together if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century. 

[Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include: Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection; Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin]

 [Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on "Obama at War" in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.]

Thursday, May 14, 2020

In a Pandemic, Military Spending is an Extravagant Waste

















In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines.


By Conn Hallinan
Foreign Policy in Focus

“There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”— Albert Camus, “The Plague”

May 13, 2020 - Camus’ novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short-sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.

Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work. They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money. At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits, and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.

A Hypersonic Arms Race

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound — 3,800 mph — although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20, 15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties. One is powered by a high-speed scramjet. The other, launched from a plane or missile, glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.

Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia, and the U.S., and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.

In the 1950s, it was the “bomber gap” between the Americans and the Soviets. In the 1960s, it was the “missile gap” between the two powers. Neither gap existed, but vast amounts of national treasure were nonetheless poured into long-range aircraft and thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The enormous expenditures on those weapons, in turn, heightened tensions between the major powers and on at least three occasions came very close to touching off a nuclear war.

In the current hypersonic arms race, “hype” is the operational word. “The development of hypersonic weapons in the United States,” says physicist James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “has been largely motivated by technology, not by strategy. In other words, technologists have decided to try and develop hypersonic weapons because it seems like they should be useful for something, not because there is a clearly defined mission need for them to fulfill.”

They have certainly been “useful” to Lockheed Martin, the largest arms manufacturer in the world. The company has already received $3.5 billion to develop the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (Arrow) glide missile, and the scramjet-driven Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (Hacksaw) missile.

The Russians also have several hypersonic missiles, including the Avangard glide vehicle, a missile said to be capable of Mach 20. China is developing several hypersonic missiles, including the DF-ZF, supposedly capable of taking out aircraft carriers.

“No Advantage Whatsoever”

In theory hypersonic missiles are unstoppable. In real life, not so much.

The first problem is basic physics: speed in the atmosphere produces heat. High speed generates lots of it. ICBMs avoid this problem with a blunt nose cone that deflects the enormous heat of re-entering the atmosphere as the missile approaches its target. But it only has to endure heat for a short time because much of its flight is in frictionless low earth orbit.

Hypersonic missiles, however, stay in the atmosphere their entire flight. That is the whole idea. An ICBM follows a predictable ballistic curve, much like an inverted U and, in theory, can be intercepted. A missile traveling as fast as an ICBM but at low altitude, however, is much more difficult to spot or engage.

But that’s when physics shows up and does a Las Vegas: what happens on the drawing board stays on the drawing board.


Without a heat deflecting nose cone, high-speed missiles are built like big needles, since they need to decrease the area exposed to the atmosphere. Even so, they are going to run very hot. And if they try to maneuver, that heat will increase. Since they can’t carry a large payload, they will have to be very accurate — but as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, that is “problematic.”