Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pentagon wants $582bn in 2017 budget, quadrupling of spending in Europe

News | 03.02.2016 | 00:28
RT - President Obama will request $582.7 billion in funding for the Pentagon as part of the fiscal year 2017 budget, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said. It will be partly used to keep a competitive edge over Russia and China, and to quadruple spending in Europe.
Carter said part of the $582.7 billion will include $71.4 for research and development funding, adding that much of the money will focus on maintaining an edge over the competition. The defense secretary called Russia and China "our most stressing competitors."
The budget will also include $7.5 billion to fight Islamic State, $8.1 billion for submarines, and $1.8 billion on munitions, according to Carter.
Carter said the budget was guided by five factors: the rise of power from Russia and China; the threat of North Korea to the US and its Pacific allies; Iran's “malign influence” against allies in the Gulf; and the ongoing fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“We don’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the choice between current fights and future fights – we have to do both,” Carter said. “And that’s what our budget is designed to do.”
He added that in the past, the Defense Department "tended to focus and plan and prepare for whatever big war people thought was coming over the horizon," but that such tactics "won't work for the world we live in today."
Spending in Europe
The Pentagon will also more than quadruple its spending in Europe, from $789 million to $3.4 billion, to reassure allies and deter so-called Russian aggression. This is expected to include more US forces in Europe, more training and exercising, the positioning of military equipment, and improving infrastructure there.
"While we do not desire conflict of any kind with any of these nations – and let me be clear, though they pose some similar defense challenges they are very different nations and situations – we also cannot blind ourselves to the actions they appear to choose to pursue," Carter said.  
Islamic State
When speaking about ISIS, Carter said "we need to keep ISIL down." 
"Our strategic approach is to keep motivated local forces which are hard to find. We have to take Mosul and we have to take Raqqa in order to make sure that there is no Islamic State," he said.
Carter noted that Americans will lead the fight against the militant group, but that other countries need to do their part.
"Many of them are not doing that much," Carter said.
The Pentagon plans to boost its spending on the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria by 50 percent from last year, to $7.5 billion. Of that total, $1.8 billion will go to buying more than 45,000 GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets, Carter said. 
The Defense Department will also aim to delay the retirement of the A-10 attack jet, which has been dropping bombs on ISIS, until 2020.
North Korea
Referencing North Korea, Carter said the US is "keeping an eye on the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) every minute of the day."
“...Don’t forget nuclear weapons coupled with ballistic missiles in the hands of North Korea, coupled with…how do I say this…their odd demeanor [is a bad thing]," he added.
Carter said he would like to see Guantanamo Bay closed.
“I would like to see Guantanamo closed, but here...is the issue. There are people in the detention facility, there’s no way to say this, [that] have to be contained. So it needs to be closed safely...there needs to be another place to keep them."
He added that he would "rather not leave this detention business to the next president. We need to work with Congress..."
When asked about damaged inflicted by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Carter said: “It was damaging to security, to work with other countries, but most importantly [it] hurt trust with industry. For companies, it has been used as a guise for protectionism. It has put our companies at a disadvantage. Some countries say 'store your data in our country, it will be safer here.'"
“When I was a physicist, the generation before me had a reflex that it was important to use your knowledge for the public good. I do find that people in Silicon Valley, these are people who are where they are because they like to do things of consequence, they see defending our country as something of consequence," Carter added.
Submarines & fighter jets
Meanwhile, the Pentagon's next five-year budget proposal will seek $13 billion in funding for a new submarine to carry nuclear ballistic missiles, along with orders for more Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) fighter jets, sources told Reuters.
According to one of the sources, the Pentagon will underscore the need to fund all three areas of a US strategic deterrent "triad." This includes a new Air Force bomber, a replacement for the Ohio-class submarines that carry nuclear weapons, and new nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The budget will also reportedly fund the procurement of materials for the new submarines that take a long time to acquire, with funding of the first full new submarine to follow in fiscal years 2021.
The sources added that the Navy will spend over $4 billion on research and development of the new submarines, plus over $9 billion in procurement funding over the next five years.
The Navy will request funding for two Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as part of the fiscal 2017 war budget, and 14 in the fiscal 2018 budget, one of the sources said. It will likely add a request for 12 more Boeing Super Hornets to their list of "unfunded priorities" for fiscal 2017.
The five-year budget plan calls for Lockheed to sell a total of 161 F-35 fighter jets to the Navy and Marine Corps. These include 64 C-model jets that take off and land on aircraft carriers, and 97 B-model jets which can take off from shorter runways and land like a helicopter.
Tags: Pentagon Eastern Europe US

Washington Is The Greatest Threat To World Order - Paul Craig Roberts

EDITOR'S CHOICE | 03.02.2016 | 00:00
Sergey Naryshkin, the Chairman of the Russian Parliament says that the growing tensions in international relations result from Washington’s lack of morals and violations of international law:
“The increasing crisis in international relations is rooted in Western nations’ lack of morals and their reluctance to observe basic norms of international law”, the State Duma chairman Sergey Naryshkin has said. “The tensions in the international situation have seriously increased over the past few years and this happens primarily because a group of Western nations, first of all, the United States of America, are neglecting the major principles of international law or interpret them freely,” Interfax quoted the Russian parliamentary leader as saying at a meeting with law students on Monday.
“I would be more direct – it happens due to the lack of morals”, Naryshkin added. He emphasized that the argument of “American exceptionalism” often used by many US politicians was against not only the legal principle of equality of all nations and peoples, but also contradicted basic human morality.
The Duma speaker also said that at the moment he considered Russia as the key protector of the basic foundations of international law. He noted that as one of the victor nations in World War II, Russia played a decisive role in introducing international law and that it had paid a great price for this achievement.
In May 2015, Naryshkin published an article in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily in which he urged European politicians to stop heeding advice from the United States and to start working on common Eurasian economic interests with Russia. If this doesn’t happen, Washington will eventually destroy the EU’s economic sovereignty by skilful manipulation of WTO mechanisms, Naryshkin wrote.
Naryshkin has also backed the idea of a future merger between the Russian Federation and the European Union, and suggested immediately starting consultations. The idea of the possibility of such a merger originally came from Czech President Milos Zeman, who confessed to having a dream that one day Russia would join the EU.
Naryshkin has a good point. Until the advent of the “war on terror”, torture was a rarely used tool of post-WW II governments in Europe and the US. But in the 21st century illegal torture became so commonplace that a magazine, Torture, was created to expose and combat torture. The magazine’s editorial board consists of Nilantha Ilangamuwa, Lauren Glenmere, and Eric Bailey.
In the current issue, Marjorie Cohn explains that “Torture Is Just Plain Wrong”. Morton Koch Andersen and Erik Wendt explain “Law As Repression”. Ron Jacobs explains “The Murderer As Hero”, as epitomized by American Sniper and the TV series NCIS. Noam Chomsky explains the disappearance of the US Constitution:
“The constitutional lawyer in the White House has introduced further modifications. His Justice Department explained that “due process of law” – at least where “terrorism offences” are concerned – is satisfied by internal deliberations within the executive branch. King John would have nodded in approval. The term “guilty” has also been given a refined interpretation: it now means “targeted for assassination by the White House.” Furthermore, the burden of proof has been shifted to those already assassinated by executive whim. As the New York Times reported, ‘Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.’ The guiding principles are clear: force reigns supreme; “law” and “justice” and other frivolities can be left to sentimentalists.”
Government in America reeks of lawlessness and violence, whether it is the police shooting down citizens on their streets and in their homes or the military killing and displacing millions of Muslims in Washington’s attacks on seven countries. I explain the enormous threat that Washington presents to the world in my latest bookThe Neoconservative Threat To World Order.  

500,000 Russians living in Germany Want to Return Home

News | 03.02.2016 | 00:03
fort-russ - About half a million Russian Germans, who had moved to Germany in the past, expressed a desire to return to Russia, said the head of the party of immigrants and migrants in Germany "Unity" (Einheit)  - Dimitri Rempel.
"According to our estimates, up to 500 thousand people show an interest and are willing to leave the territory for the Russian Federation. This figure is approximate because there is no reliable information," said Rempel on the air of the Crimean radio station "Russia today".
However, he stressed that the move requires a complex programme.
"Some people already left in a rather chaotic manner, they found themselves a place to stay and faced certain problems in obtaining residence permits, health insurance. If there is a specific comprehensive program, the number of people will be comparable to the numbers that we said," said Rempel.
According to him, the Russian Germans are thinking about moving to Russia because of the difficult situation in Germany, particularly with the influx of refugees.
"The crime situation with refugees has already inspired people to think about looking for a new country where they could move. And of course, knowing the language, culture and tradition – Russia has become the most attractive country for resettlement," – said the politician.
Rempel visited Crimea on an official visit to discuss issues of cooperation in the sphere of tourism, sport and public diplomacy. Earlier on Monday, it was reported that, according to a study conducted by the Cologne Institute of German economy (IW), the placement, maintenance and integration of refugees, including language courses, will cost the German state almost 50 billion euros between 2016/2017. 
Recall that on November 10th, the European border Agency Frontex reported that the external borders of the European Union, from 1st January to 1st November 2015, saw 1.2 million illegal migrants cross, which is an absolute record in the history of the EU. Frontex did not give any estimates about the number of cases that could not be resolved by the European border authorities. The European Commission stated that the EU is experiencing the largest migration crisis since the Second world war.
Tags: Germany Russia

FM Lavrov on Visit to UAE, Oman: Russia, GCC Members Inch Closer to Each Other in Times of Hard Choices

Andrei AKULOV | 03.02.2016 | 00:00

On February 1-3, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is paying working visits to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to discuss oil market and the issues concerning the situation in the Middle East, especially Syria. The top diplomat is to meet crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said, and Foreign Minister, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are both an important market for Russian exports (including weapons, nuclear reactors, and railroads) and a source of investment into the Russian economy. Since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, Moscow’s relations with the Gulf monarchies have improved dramatically. Russian President visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar in January 2007, and then the UAE in September of the same year. Gulf leaders have met with him in Russia on numerous occasions.
There are things to unite the parties. They oppose various aspects of US foreign policy. Neither Russia nor the Gulf states approve of Washington’s support for Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. Neither has been comfortable with the democracy-promotion efforts served to impose US vision on others.
Furthermore, neither Russia nor the Gulf states (except for Qatar) were happy about the US suddenly distancing itself in 2011 from then Egyptian President Mubarak, its old time ally, President Obama’s support for Egypt’s elected President Morsi (whose Muslim Brotherhood connections sparked great concern among the Persian Gulf states) and reduced military aid to the subsequent Egyptian government led by Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi. Russia offered to sell weapons to Egypt, and Saudi Arabia agreed to pay for it. It became obvious that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab states were gradually shifting away from Washington towards Moscow. The GCC countries did not join the United States and the EU in imposing economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.
* * *
The relationship between the Russian Federation and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stretches back to December 1971, when the Soviet Union and the UAE established diplomatic relations.
In 1986, the Soviet embassy in Abu Dhabi was opened and the UAE embassy in Moscow became operational in 1987.
The UAE-Russia relations in general have been going from strength to strength in recent years. The UAE has issued Federal Decree No 91 of 2013 ratifying the cooperation agreement with Russia in the field of peaceful nuclear energy. Also in 2013, the UAE issued Decree No 67 that witnessed the inking of an agreement on the protection of investments and relevant protocol. Several other agreements in the fields of double taxation, aviation, and coordination among the chambers of commerce have also been signed between the two countries. Russia has always emphasized its desire to benefit from the UAE’s proven advantages of open economy and advanced facilities and infrastructure. The UAE can be a major distribution hub for Russian products to the whole world. Investors in the Emirates enjoy many commercial benefits resulting from the country’s tax free environment and ability to seamlessly transfer money. Such factors amply qualify the UAE to be a vital market for Russian investments and industries.
Last September Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, organized a five-day trade mission to Russia along with 36 UAE companies from diverse sectors. It also hosted business forums and bilateral meetings in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. They were attended by a large number of Russian businesses and senior officials, as well as representatives of investment agencies and local institutions. Participants explored prospects for cooperation in investment and trade between companies from the UAE and Russia in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, construction materials, cosmetics, food, detergents and consumer products.
Engineer Saed Al Awadi, chief executive officer of Dubai Exports, explained why the relations with Russia were important for the UAE, «Russia is one of the world's largest economies and a huge consumer market of 142 million people, which makes it an attractive target for UAE companies. Dubai is witnessing exports to Russian markets rising and a 31 per cent increase was seen in 2014 compared to the previous year».
The economic cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Russia has not been damaged by Western sanctions. «The UAE complies with international laws introduced by the United Nations. This is how we regard such situations. I have not seen any sanctions from the UN for now», said UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al Mansoori.
Addressing the fifth meeting of the UAE-Russia joint ministerial committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the UAE maintains historic, friendly and special relations with Russia. These ties are stable and based on the spirit of mutual understanding and respect and a common desire to take them to new heights, he noted.
The two sides reviewed a number of issues related to the latest regional developments, particularly the Syrian crisis. They also touched on current counter-terrorism efforts and the need for the international community to confront terrorist groups. President Putin applauded the UAE’s efforts in combatting this evil.
* * *
The Sultanate of Oman stands tall fending off the attempts from outside to influence its foreign policy decisions. A US-allied Gulf Arab state, Oman sees itself as a conciliator in a volatile region. Being one of the founding members of the GCC, it likes to keep its identity distinct and its policies independent. The implementation of foreign policy based on non-intervention and non-alignment keeps instability at bay and lets Oman hold a double-edged sword.
For instance, it is the only member of Gulf Cooperation Council to preserve friendly relations with Iran. It also benefits the GCC with Oman acting as a mediator between the different parties. Egypt, Iran, and Oman enjoy friendly relations with one another; in fact, the latter two nations have entered into a naval pact that requires them to conduct military exercises together. The Sultanate also boasts special relationship with China.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen is another good example. Oman is the only GCC member who has not joined the Saudi coalition. It is also the only monarchy in the Arab League not do so.
The Sultanate is not mired in sectarian hatred. Oman, with Ibadi majority, views the escalation of sectarian strife between the Middle East’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims as a tragedy for the greater Islamic world.
Ideologically, it has no rivalries. It's neither Sunni, nor Shia, but Ibadi. «We cannot work on peace efforts at the same time we would be part of a military campaign. Those two things do not meet», Oman's Foreign Minister, Yusuf Bin Alawi, told Reuters. «Oman is not part of that campaign for simple reasons - Oman is a nation of peace».
Rather than joining Saudi Arabia in arming Sunni fundamentalists across the region to counter Iran’s extended influence, Oman has avoided taking sides in such conflicts, valuing instead a peaceful resolution. The Sultanate has leveraged its neutrality to develop trustworthy relationships with all sides in the Syrian and Yemeni crises, enabling it to serve as a legitimate and impartial mediator in ways that no other GCC member could.
Last October, Oman's Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met in Damascus to show that Oman could play the role of a mediator between Syria and Assad's adversaries, which include Washington and other Gulf states.
The meeting took place after Russia said Syria needed to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections. Oman has received parties from both sides of the war in recent weeks. Syria's Foreign Minister traveled to Oman to meet Alawi in August and the head of the main West-backed Syrian political opposition met with Alawi in Muscat earlier in October, 2015.
Last August, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a working visit to Qatar held a meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister, who had arrived in Doha to attend a conference of foreign ministers of the member-countries of the GCC. Sergey Lavrov and Yusuf Bin Alawi discussed topical issues of Russian-Omani relations, emphasizing the importance of stepping up ties and drawing on considerable cooperation potential in various areas.
They also reviewed the current situation in the Middle East, including the conflict in Yemen, where Oman has been playing a useful role as an intermediary, and prospects for developments in the Gulf zone after the signing of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
On September 26, 2015, Russia and Oman marked the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. On the occasion, foreign ministers exchanged greeting cables expressing their satisfaction for the high level of bilateral relations and constant coordination in international issues of mutual interest. The parties noted that over the past 30 years, the relations between the two countries have been constantly progressing and that is evident in the many bilateral cooperation agreements signed between the two countries, especially in culture and education fields. The joint communique establishing the diplomatic relations was signed on September 26th, 1985.
In 2009 Russia and Oman signed an important agreement on nuclear energy cooperation that could see the two countries building reactors and conducting research together. Hopefully, Mr Lavrov’s visit will promote the conclusion of other agreement to boost the relationship.
* * *
With lucrative economic benefits looming to boost the promotion of Russia-Oman, Russia-the UAE ties, the security issue are doomed to steal the show. The US has announced its decision to deploy regular army components in Syria and Iraq, and Turkey is evidently preparing an invasion to create a «safe-zone» on Syrian soil. The Geneva talks on Syria are hitting snags on the way. The animosity between Saudi Arabia and Iran negatively affects the situation in the Middle East. A US-led intervention in Libya appears to be imminent. Russia and its GCC partners have to address complicated agenda of many points inching closer to each other in the times of hard choices to make.
The ongoing visit to hold talks with the leaders of Sunni states proves that all the talks about Russia’s military operation in Syria making it «an enemy of Sunni Muslims» hold no water. 

Dostojewski und die moderne Demagogie

Der Idiot“ von Fjodor Michailowitsch Dostojewski / Федор Достоевский

Ihr könnt nicht zweier Herren dienen.... Ihr könnt nicht Gott dienen und dem Mammon“ 1
Alles ist jetzt verkehrt. Alles stellen sich auf den Kopf und strampeln mit den Beinen in der Luft.“2

„Der Idiot“ (1869) ist natürlich keiner. Der Titelheld ist ein junger Aristokrat, der an Epilsepsie erkrankt, nach 5 Jahren Schweizer Behandlung fast geheilt nach Russland zurückkehrt, wo ihn die Erfahrung mit einer todkranken Gesellschaft wieder erkranken lässt. Die Charakterfigur hat nur entfernt etwas vom „tumben Toren“, vom Naivling 'Parzival'. Er ist ein völlig zu unrrecht für närrisch gehaltener Mensch, der der Gesellschaft seiner Zeit ihren Spiegel vorhält. Der gläubig orthodoxe Christ Dostojewski, der selbst ein hoch dramatisches Leben geführt hat, Epileptiker, Offizier, Journalist, nach Sibirien verbannt, einem Todesurteil knapp in letzter Sekunde entkommen, später in Wiesbaden dem Spiel und schließlich dem Alkohol verfallen, wie eine Romanfigur, das Vermögen seiner Frau verzockt hat, erschafft mit dem fürstlichen „Idioten“ Myschkin einen 'modernen' Christus. Lew Nikolajewitsch Myschkin verarmter, doch durch Erbschaft wieder zu Vermögen gekommene Adelssproß, der letzte seines Geschlechts, ist eine überirdisch gute Seele, ein äußerst warmherziger Mensch, dabei keineswegs naiv, sondern sich stets dessen bewusst, was er da tut. Hochgebildet, überrascht er immer wieder und konfrontiert die anderen Mitglieder der gehobenen Gesellschaft dermaßen durch sein bloßes Auftreten mit ihren Schwächen, dass sie es nicht ertragen, sondern ihn am Ende alle hassen, trotz seiner Liebe für fast alle, die seine Wege kreuzen, mit all ihren Schwächen.

Ein ganzer Abschnitt ist den jung-dynamischen Rebellen, den Nihilisten, den angeblich für Gerechtigkeit eintretenden Halbstarken gewidmet. Da wird mittels einer ihrer Pamphlete die ganze wahrheitsverdrehende, pseudoaufklärerische, pseudofortschrittliche Demagogie vorweggenommen, die unsere Zeit so sehr kennzeichnet: Menschenrechtsnihilismus. Unter dem Vorwand der Verteidigung von Menschenrecht und Demokratie, unter dem Vorwand dem Volke dienen zu wollen, ist den Anarchisten kein Verbrechen zu barbarisch, um es nicht zu begehen und es dann mit einem Mäntelchen der Redlichkeit und der Menschenliebe zu umhüllen. Eine Vorwegnahme des viel Schlimmeren, das noch kommen sollte und hochmodern.

Obwohl Dostojewski etwa die damals schon moderne „Frauenfrage“ im pseudo-progressiven Sinne ablehnt, nichts von Frauenemanzipation hält, so schafft er doch Frauenfiguren wie die Kurtisane Nastassja Fillipowna Baraschkoff, die in ihrer Komplexität ganz großartige Menschen sind. Ob als Opfer und/oder als Mittäterinnen – sie bleiben nicht ewig unschuldig. Sie demonstrieren aber wie etwa die Generalsgattin Lisaweta Prokofjewna Jepantschin, dass sie die Verhältnisse, so wie sind nicht akzeptieren können, weil sie daran zugrunde gehen. Wenngleich sie sich meist in hilfloser, ja hysterischer, kranker Weise dagegen aufbäumen.

Dostojewski ist einer der bedeutendsten Autoren der Weltliteratur. Sein Vermächtnis ist uneingelöst. Ich verstehe erst heute die unheimliche Faszination, die besonders dieser russische Autor schon auf mich als Schulmädchen ausgeübt hat, obwohl ich seine philosophische und psychologische Tiefe nicht annähernd zu erfassen wusste. Für das Studium der menschlichen Seele ist Dostojewski eine wahre Fundgrube.
1 Matthäus 6/24

2 Jepantschin S. 439, der Idiot