position:defense secretary

  • Hard Brexit Means Hard Times on the Toilet – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/03/05/hard-brexit-means-hard-times-on-the-toilet


    A woman dressed in a flag leaves a portable toilet in Windsor, England, on May 19, 2018.
    Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Brexit secretary has warned of food shortages. The defense secretary has warned of soldiers on the streets. The Bank of England has warned of a financial crisis. The Taoiseach of Ireland has warned of violence at the border. And the queen, it has been reported, will be evacuated. With Britain inching ever closer to the edge of a no-deal Brexit, however, these dire warnings are increasingly falling short. In a January column in the Telegraph, Boris Johnson observed of his fellow Brexiteers: “[T]he grimmer the warnings, and the more systematic the efforts to make their flesh creep, the greater has been their indifference and their resolve.

    But new rumblings from Britain’s beleaguered paper importers may finally make clear what’s at stake. In conversations with industry experts, Foreign Policy has learned, a no-deal Brexit may leave Britain without an adequate supply of toilet paper.

    #papier_toilette #papier_hygiénique


  • Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/politics/nato-president-trump.html

    There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

    Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

    Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

    In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

    At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.

    Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.

    A move to withdraw from the alliance, in place since 1949, “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an under secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.

    “It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,” Ms. Flournoy said in an interview. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

    Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

    “Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” Admiral Stavridis said.

    Senior Trump administration officials discussed the internal and highly sensitive efforts to preserve the military alliance on condition of anonymity.

    After the White House was asked for comment on Monday, a senior administration official pointed to Mr. Trump’s remarks in July when he called the United States’ commitment to NATO “very strong” and the alliance “very important.” The official declined to comment further.

    American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.

    Comme on le voit au début et à la fin de cet extrait, si les #USA quittent l’#Otan ce sera pas mal la faute de la #Russie de #"Poutine


  • Kurdistan 24 captures completion of first US observation post on Syria-Turkey border
    http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/d1868d74-26e6-4609-917d-325b8f1d9a21

    Last week, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the US-led coalition had decided to set up observation posts in northern Syria along parts of the border with Turkey.

    Mattis further explained that recent Turkish attacks on Kurdish areas of Syria had delayed efforts of the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS) in the war-torn country.

    #Syrie #Turquie #etats-unis #Kurdes


  • Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae

    THIRTEEN HOURS BEFORE Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

    But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.

    The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

    In the days and weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed down their land, sea, and air borders with the country, Tillerson made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against the country. The flurry of calls in June 2017 has been reported, but State Department and press accounts at the time described them as part of a broad-strokes effort to resolve tensions in the Gulf, not as an attempt by Tillerson to avert a Saudi-led military operation.

    In the calls, Tillerson, who dealt extensively with the Qatari government as the CEO of Exxon Mobil, urged Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept. Tillerson also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to call his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to explain the dangers of such an invasion. Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

    Pressure from Tillerson caused Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, to back down, concerned that the invasion would damage Saudi Arabia’s long-term relationship with the U.S. But Tillerson’s intervention enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of that country, according to the U.S. intelligence official and a source close to the Emirati royal family, who declined to be identified, citing concerns about his safety.

    Later that June, Mohammed bin Salman would be named crown prince, leapfrogging over his cousin to become next in line for the throne after his elderly father. His ascension signaled his growing influence over the kingdom’s affairs.

    Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia discovered the plan in the early summer of 2017, according to the U.S. intelligence official. Tillerson acted after the Qatari government notified him and the U.S. embassy in Doha. Several months later, intelligence reporting by the U.S. and U.K. confirmed the existence of the plan.

    The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha. Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.


  • Mattis’s Last Stand Is Iran – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/28/mattiss-last-stand-is-iran

    As the U.S. defense secretary drifts further from President Donald Trump’s inner circle, his mission gets clearer: preventing war with Tehran.

    Long point de vue de Mark Perry (The Pentagon’s Wars). Après avoir décrit l’état d’usure et de fatigue des différentes forces armées états-uniennes, puis décrit en détail une attaque en règle de l’Iran,…

    At the end of the air campaign, Iran’s nuclear and military capabilities would be in ruins. But the worry for senior military war planners is that the end of the U.S. campaign would not mark the end of the war, but its beginning. Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War and a former professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program (and one of the Army’s most sophisticated strategic thinkers), argued that a conflict with Iran would not be confined to a U.S. attack — or Iran’s immediate response. Tehran, he said, would not surrender. “We should not go into a war with Iran thinking that they will capitulate,” he argued. “Al Qaeda did not capitulate; the Taliban did not capitulate. Enemies don’t capitulate. And Iran won’t capitulate.” Nor, Dubik speculated, would the kind of air campaign likely envisioned by U.S. military planners necessarily lead to the collapse of the Tehran government — a notion seconded by Farley. “There is very little reason to suppose that anything other than an Iraq-style war would lead to regime change in Iran,” Farley said. “Even in a very extensive campaign, and absent the use of ground troops in a major invasion, the Iranian regime would survive.” That is to say that, while Iran’s military would be devastated by a U.S. attack, the results of such a campaign would only deepen and expand the conflict.

    Shaping and executing an exit strategy after an attack is likely the most difficult task we will face,” [John Allen] Gay [the co-author of the 2013 book War with Iran] said. “While an overwhelming airstrike may end the war for us, it will not end it for Iran. Our conventional capabilities overawe theirs, but their unconventional capabilities favor them. Assassinations, terror attacks, the use of Hezbollah against Israel, and other options will likely be used by them over an extended period of time. All of this has to be factored in: Even if we destroy their nuclear capabilities, we will have to ask whether it will be worth it.
    […]
    In truth, the unease over any future conflict goes much deeper — and is seeded by what one senior and influential military officer called “an underlying anxiety that after 17 years of sprinkling the Middle East with corpses, the U.S. is not any closer to a victory over terrorism now than it was on September 12.

    #sprinkle_the_Middle_East_with_corpses
    #parsemer_le_Moyen-Orient_de_cadavres


  • “National security” cited as reason Al Jazeera nixed Israel lobby film | The Electronic Intifada
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/national-security-cited-reason-al-jazeera-nixed-israel-lobby-film/24566

    Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary into the US Israel lobby was censored by Qatar over “national security” fears, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

    These include that broadcast of the film could add to pressure for the US to pull its massive Al Udeid air base out of the Gulf state, or make a Saudi military invasion more likely.

    A source has confirmed that broadcast of The Lobby – USA was indefinitely delayed as “a matter of national security” for Qatar. The source has been briefed by a high-level individual in Doha.

    One of the Israel lobby groups whose activities are revealed in the film has been mounting a campaign to convince the US to withdraw its military forces from Qatar – which leaders in the emirate would see as a major blow to their security.

    The tiny gas-rich monarchy houses and funds satellite channel Al Jazeera.

    In April, managers at the channel were forced to deny a claim by a right-wing American Zionist group that the program has been canceled altogether.

    In October 2017, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit promised that the film would be aired “very soon.”

    Yet eight months later, it has yet to see the light of day.

    In March, The Electronic Intifada exclusively published the first concrete details of what is in the film.

    The film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as working directly with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

    Some of the activity revealed in the film could include US organizations acting as front operations for Israel without registering as agents of a foreign state as required by US law.

    The latest revelation over the censored film shows how seriously Qatar’s leadership is taking threats of repercussions should it air.

    Threats
    The Israel lobby groups reported on in the film could be expected to take legal action against Al Jazeera if it is broadcast.

    However, such threats alone would be unlikely to deter Al Jazeera from broadcasting the film.

    The network has a history of vigorously defending its work and it was completely vindicated over complaints about a documentary aired in January 2017 that revealed how Israel lobby groups in Britain collude with the Israeli embassy, and how the embassy interfered in British politics.

    Israel’s supporters are also pushing for the US Congress to force the network, which has a large US operation, to register as a “foreign agent” in a similar fashion to Russian channel RT.

    But the high-level individual in Doha’s claim that the film is being censored as “a matter of national security” ties the affair to even more serious threats to Qatar and bolsters the conclusion that the censorship is being ordered at the highest level of the state.

    A year ago, with the support of US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a transport and economic blockade on the country.

    Saudi rulers and their allies see Qatar as too independent of their influence and too open to relations with their regional rival Iran, and the blockade was an attempt to force it to heel.

    The Saudis and Israel accused Qatar of funding “terrorism,” and have taken measures to restrict Al Jazeera or demanded it be shut down altogether over what they perceive as the channel’s anti-Israel and anti-Saudi-monarchy biases.

    The blockade and the diplomatic assault sparked existential fears in Qatar that Saudi-led forces could go as far as to invade and install a more pliant regime in Doha.

    French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday that the Saudi king has threatened “military action” against Qatar should it go ahead with a planned purchase of a Russian air defense missile system.

    In 2011, Saudi and Emirati forces intervened in Bahrain, another small Gulf nation, at the request of its ruling Khalifa monarchy in order to quell a popular uprising demanding democratic reforms.

    For three years, US and British-backed Saudi and Emirati forces have been waging a bloody and devastating war on Yemen to reimpose a Saudi-backed leadership on the country, clear evidence of their unprecedented readiness to directly use military force to impose their will.

    And no one in the region will have forgotten how quickly Iraqi forces were able to sweep in and take over Kuwait in August 1990.

    Air base
    The lesson of the Kuwait invasion for other small Gulf countries is that only the protection of the United States could guarantee their security from bigger neighbors.

    Qatar implemented that lesson by hosting the largest US military facility in the region, the massive Al Udeid air base.

    The Saudi-led bloc has pushed for the US to withdraw from the base and the Saudi foreign minister predicted that should the Americans pull out of Al Udeid, the regime in Doha would fall “in less than a week.”

    US warplanes operate from the Al Udeid air base near Doha, Qatar, October 2017. US Air Force Photo
    It would be a disaster from the perspective of Doha if the Israel lobby was to put its full weight behind a campaign to pull US forces out of Qatar.

    Earlier this year, an influential member of Congress and a former US defense secretary publicly discussed moving the US base out of Qatar at a conference hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

    FDD is a neoconservative Israel lobby group that happens to be one of the subjects of the undercover Al Jazeera film.

    As The Electronic Intifada revealed in March, FDD is one of the groups acting as an agent of the Israeli government even though it is not registered to do so.

    In July 2017, FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer testified to Congress that it would be an “insane arrangement” to keep US forces at the Al Udeid air base while Qatar continued to support “terror.”

    It will concentrate minds in Doha that FDD was one of the lobby groups most dedicated to destroying the international deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program, a goal effectively achieved when the Trump administration pulled out of it last month.

    In a sign of how vulnerable Qatar feels over the issue, Doha has announced plans to upgrade the Al Udeid base in the hope, as the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes put it, “that the strategic military hub will be counted as one of the Pentagon’s permanent overseas installations.”

    The final straw?
    The cornerstone of Qatar’s effort to win back favor in Washington has been to aggressively compete with its Gulf rivals for the affections of Israel and its Washington lobby.

    Their belief appears to be that this lobby is so influential that winning its support can result in favorable changes to US policy.

    Qatar’s charm offensive has included junkets to Doha for such high-profile Israel supporters as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America who publicly took credit for convincing Qatar’s ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to veto broadcast of the documentary.

    While an all-out Saudi invasion of Qatar over a film series may seem far fetched, the thinking in Doha seems to be that broadcast of The Lobby – USA could be the final straw that antagonizes Qatar’s enemies and exposes it to further danger – especially over Al Udeid.

    With an administration in Washington that is seen as impulsive and unpredictable – it has just launched a trade war against its biggest partners Canada and the European Union – leaders in Doha may see it as foolhardy to take any chances.

    If that is the reason Al Jazeera’s film has been suppressed it is not so much a measure of any real and imminent threat Qatar faces, but rather of how successfully the lobby has convinced Arab rulers, including in Doha, that their well-being and longevity rests on cooperating with, or at least not crossing, Israel and its backers.

    Asa Winstanley is associate editor and Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada.

    Qatar Al Jazeera The Lobby—USA Al Udeid air base Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Donald Trump Jared Kushner Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Bahrain Iran Kuwait Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Jonathan Schanzer Morton Klein Alan Dershowitz Zionist Organization of America

    Gaza medic killed by Israel as she rescued injured
    Ali Abunimah 2 June 2018

    Who is the Labour Party’s “witchfinder general”?
    Asa Winstanley 31 May 2018

    Israeli minister threatens to destroy Gaza “once and for all”
    Ali Abunimah 30 May 2018

    Main menu
    FeaturesOpinion and analysisReviewsBlogs
    Search form Search


  • Mattis on aviation accidents: ‘We cannot repair our way out’
    https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/04/12/mattis-on-aviation-accidents-we-cannot-repair-our-way-out

    In congressional testimony partly driven by Military Times’ recent investigation into a 40 percent rise in aviation accidents, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Congress that the deep cuts to pilot hours and lack of ready aircraft that are partly to blame will not find a quick fix.

    “ We cannot repair our way out of the situation we are in, ” Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee Thursday.

    “ We’re actually going to have to buy, in some cases, the capabilities we have simply worn out and had to set aside and can’t even be repaired, whether it be aircraft where squadrons do not have enough, or it be ships that cannot go back to sea on time, because when we open them up, long overdue for their maintenance period, we find things wrong inside that lengthen their time in the shipyard. ”


  • Saudi-Qatar Feud Hits New Low as Saudis Plan Nuclear Dump on Border.
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/saudi-qatar-feud-hits-new-low-as-saudis-plan-nuclear-dump-on-border-1.59896

    Saudi Arabia could consider a proposal to dig a maritime canal along the kingdom’s border with Qatar, turning the peninsula-nation into an island and transforming its only land border into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported Monday.

    The project has not been given official approval and faces many obstacles. Still, the proposal signals a new low in the 10-month-old feud between Qatar and a quartet of nations that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

    The four accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism because of its support for Islamist opposition groups in the region and its warm relations with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations and says the moves attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

    Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Washington on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

    Saudi Arabia’s Sabq and al-Riyadh newspapers carried nearly identical reports Monday saying that under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would transform part of its side of the border with Qatar into a military base and another area would become a dump site for waste from nuclear reactors the kingdom wants to build. The UAE, meanwhile, would also build a nuclear waste site at the closest point near its border with Qatar.


  • Trump’s sending troops to the border to take on 200 kids and parents

    According to President Donald Trump, the mightiest, richest country in the world is under a threat so huge and scary that it will require the deployment of military forces — as many as 2,000 to 4.000, Trump said Thursday — along its 2,000-mile southern border. The danger consists of a ragtag caravan formed by several hundred impoverished people, many of them children from tiny Central American nations. Yes, the time has come to protect America from marauding youngsters and their parents.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/05/opinions/trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-kelly-opinion/index.html?sr=twCNN040518trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-ke
    #Trump #frontières #armée #militarisation_des_frontières #USA #Etats-Unis

    • The cost of 2 National Guard border arrests would help a homeless vet for a year

      President Donald Trump’s decision to send #National_Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border has drawn a mixed response. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the move, while California Gov. Jerry Brown’s National Guard said it would “review” the request.

      Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., had a specific complaint: He said it was a poor use of tax dollars.

      “Using the National Guard to do border security is very expensive,” Gallego tweeted April 3. “For what it would cost the Guard to make just TWO arrests at the border, we could give a homeless veteran permanent housing for an entire year.”


      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/05/ruben-gallego/arizona-rep-cost-2-national-guard-border-arrests-w
      #USA #Etats-Unis #coût #économie #prix #surveillance_des_frontières

    • Guard border deployment creates issues for Pentagon

      Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have now sent two requests for assistance to the Pentagon’s new Border Security Support Cell, which was hastily established to help coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security.

      It’s estimated that it will cost $182 million to keep 2,093 guardsmen at the border through the end of September, which represents just more than half of the personnel approved.

      The amount covers $151 million in pay and allowances for the 2,093 personnel, as well as $31 million for 12,000 flying hours for 26 UH-72 Lakota helicopters, according to a defense memo on the amount.

      http://thehill.com/policy/defense/386617-guard-border-deployment-creates-issues-for-pentagon

      #CBP #gardes-frontière #frontières

    • The Cal. National Guard Is Working At the Mexican Border, But Mostly Behind The Scenes

      In California - a state with strong differences with the White House on immigration policy - about 400 troops are on border duty. But they’re keeping a low profile.


      http://tpr.org/post/cal-national-guard-working-mexican-border-mostly-behind-scenes

      Signalé par Reece Jones sur twitter, avec ce commentaire:

      What are US National Guard troops doing at the border? Analyze intelligence, work as dispatchers, and monitor cameras “but not cameras that look across the border into Mexico”

    • L’armée américaine mobilisée pour défendre la frontière

      En campagne pour les élections américaines de mi-mandat, le président Trump a focalisé son discours sur la caravane de migrants d’Amérique centrale qui fait route à travers le Mexique. Il a promis de tout faire pour empêcher ces demandeurs d’asile de pénétrer sur le territoire américain (“Personne n’entrera”), y compris de déployer “entre 10 000 et 15 000 soldats” en plus de la police aux frontières et de la police de l’immigration.

      L’armée estime que seuls 20 % des migrants, soit 1 400 selon les estimations les plus hautes, iront jusqu’à la frontière qui se trouve encore à quelque 1 300 kilomètres et plusieurs semaines de marche, rapporte le Los Angeles Times. Le chiffre de 15 000 hommes correspond à peu près au nombre de soldats déployés en Afghanistan, observe le même quotidien. Les militaires envoyés à la frontière peuvent se poser des questions sur le sens de cette mission, comme l’illustre ici le dessinateur Chappatte.


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/dessin/larmee-americaine-mobilisee-pour-defendre-la-frontiere

    • U.S. Troops’ First Order at the Border: Laying Razor Wire

      Soldiers fill local hotels, joke about finding ways to keep busy.
      On Monday morning in this border town, about a dozen U.S. Army soldiers unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.

      The soldiers from the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Riley, Kan., who wore helmets but didn’t appear to be armed, are among thousands of troops deployed in recent days to the southwest U.S. border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.

      Around border crossings throughout Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, military personnel have filled up hotels and delivered trucks packed with coils of razor wire as they begin to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
      The personnel were sent in advance of the anticipated arrival of thousands of Central Americans, including children, traveling in caravans currently several hundred miles south of the nearest U.S. border crossing.

      At the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in McAllen, Texas, the bar did brisk business Sunday night as soldiers who had changed into civilian clothes chatted over drinks. Some joked about needing to find ways to keep soldiers busy during their deployment.

      The Anzalduas International Bridge, where the Kansas-based troops were working, is used only for vehicle traffic to and from the Mexican city of Reynosa. The wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment.

      Outside the port of entry where vehicles from Mexico are stopped after crossing the bridge, shiny razor wire recently placed around the facility glistened in the afternoon sun.

      Migrants seeking asylum who cross the border illegally generally don’t come to the port, but swim or wade across the Rio Grande and turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

      Near another bridge connecting Hidalgo, Texas, to Reynosa, a concertina wire fence was recently erected along the river edge, a placement more likely to impede illegal migrants who arrive on foot.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have determined where the military placed razor wire, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday during a briefing.

      It is part of an effort previously announced by Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, to “harden the points of entry and address key gaps.”

      Near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge about 22 miles southeast of McAllen, troops on Monday were working on what looked to be a staging area to prepare for coming work. Two armed military police officers stood guard, opening and closing a gate as flatbed trailers carrying heavy military trucks and transports with troops inside arrived. At least one tent apparently intended to house troops was in place Monday.

      President Trump ordered the deployment last month after the first caravan made its way into Mexico. He had described the impending caravan’s arrival as an “invasion.”

      The Pentagon said Monday that more than 5,000 troops are at or would be on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the day, with about 2,700 in Texas, 1,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in California. Eventually, nearly 8,000 will be deployed, according to a U.S. official. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have said the troops won’t be used to enforce immigration laws but will provide backup for Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers.

      At the Vaquero Hangout, an open-air bar within eyesight of the Anzalduas bridge, a flag declaring support for the U.S. military hung from the rafters. It was business as usual on Sunday evening. Some patrons watched the Houston Texans’ NFL game, while others were focused on a live band, George and the Texas Outlaws.

      A few folks briefly took notice of flashing lights from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle parked on the bridge as the soldiers lay down razor wire, an effort they would continue the next day.

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-troops-first-order-at-the-border-laying-razor-wire-1541509201
      #fil_barbelé #barbelé

    • Pentagon to begin drawdown of troops at border: report

      The Pentagon is planning to begin a drawdown of troops at the southern border as soon as this week, the Army commander overseeing the mission told Politico on Monday.

      Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan told the news outlet that the 5,800 active-duty troops sent to assist Customs and Border Protection at the U.S.-Mexico border should be home by Christmas.
      ADVERTISEMENT

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who is overseeing the mission from Texas.

      Buchanan said engineer and logistics troops, which make up the largest parts of the deployment, will begin returning home soon.

      According to Politico’s report, some troops will begin leaving the area before the so-called migrant caravan arrives at the border.

      The news of the troops’ return comes as critics call President Trump’s request to send thousands of troops to the border a “political stunt.”

      Trump before Election Day stoked fears over an approaching group of Central American migrants heading towards the southern border, which he referred to as an “invasion.” He requested the deployment of thousands of troops to the border in a support mission just before Nov. 6.

      Some lawmakers have accused Trump of wasting resources and manpower on the mission, as reports have emerged that the troops are restless and underutilized.

      Thousands of participants in the caravan over the weekend reached Tijuana, Mexico, where they were met with vast protests. Some of the protesters are echoing Trump’s language, calling the group a danger and an invasion, The Associated Press reported.

      Most of the members of the caravan are reportedly escaping rampant poverty and violence in their home countries.

      https://thehill.com/policy/defense/417503-pentagon-to-begin-drawdown-of-troops-at-border-report

      –-> commentaire sur twitter:

      Just 3 weeks after deployment, Trump’s Pentagon is sending the military home from the border. They’ve served their purpose as the GOP’s 11th hour campaign force. Now we’re stuck with a hundred miles of trashy concertina wire and a $200 million bill.

      https://twitter.com/LaikenJordahl/status/1064644464726048768

    • Troops at U.S.-Mexican border to start coming home

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      The 5,800 troops who were rushed to the southwest border amid President Donald Trump’s pre-election warnings about a refugee caravan will start coming home as early as this week — just as some of those migrants are beginning to arrive.

      Democrats and Republicans have criticized the deployment as a ploy by the president to use active-duty military forces as a prop to try to stem Republican losses in this month’s midterm elections.

      The general overseeing the deployment told POLITICO on Monday that the first troops will start heading home in the coming days as some are already unneeded, having completed the missions for which they were sent. The returning service members include engineering and logistics units whose jobs included placing concertina wire and other barriers to limit access to ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border.

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who leads the land forces of U.S. Northern Command.

      The decision to begin pulling back comes just weeks after Trump ordered the highly unusual deployment.

      In previous cases in which the military deployed to beef up security at the border, the forces consisted of part-time National Guard troops under the command of state governors who backed up U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies.

      But the newly deployed troops, most of them unarmed and from support units, come from the active-duty military, a concession the Pentagon made after Trump insisted that the deployment include “not just the National Guard.”

      Buchanan confirmed previous reports that the military had rejected a request from the Department of Homeland Security for an armed force to back up Border Patrol agents in the event of a violent confrontation.

      “That is a law enforcement task, and the secretary of Defense does not have the authority to approve that inside the homeland,” Buchanan said.

      The closure earlier Monday of one entry point along the California border near Tijuana, Mexico, was only partial and did not require more drastic measures, Buchanan said.

      “About half of the lanes were closed this morning, but that’s it,” he reported. “No complete closures.”

      Other ports might be closed fully in the future, he said, but he did not anticipate any need to take more drastic measures.

      “If CBP have reliable information that one of their ports is about to get rushed with a mob, or something like that that could put their agents at risk, they could ask us to completely close the port,” Buchanan said. “You understand the importance of commerce at these ports. Nobody in CBP wants to close a port unless they’re actually driven to do so.”

      The troop deployment should start trailing off as engineer and other logistics troops wind down their mission of building base camps and fortifying ports of entry for the Border Patrol.

      Army and Marine engineers have now emplaced about 75 percent of the obstacles they planned to, including concertina wire, shipping containers, and concrete barriers at ports of entry. “Once we get the rest of the obstacles built, we don’t need to keep all those engineers here. As soon as I’m done with a capability, what I intend to do is redeploy it,” Buchanan said. “I don’t want to keep these guys on just to keep them on.”

      Logistics troops, too, will be among the first to head home. “I will probably ask to start redeploying some of our logistic capability,” Buchanan predicted. “Now that things are set down here, we don’t need as many troops to actually build base camps and things like that, because the base camps are built."

      Among the troops who will remain after construction engineers and logisticians start departing are helicopter pilots, planners, medical personnel, and smaller “quick response” teams of engineers who can help Border Patrol personnel shut down traffic at their ports of entry.

      In contrast to the speed of the deployment in early November and the fanfare surrounding it, the withdrawal promises to be slower and quieter — but Buchanan expects it to be done before Christmas.

      “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” he added. “But right now, this is a temporary mission, and we’re tasked to do it until the 15th of December.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/19/troops-us-mexico-border-come-home-1005510

    • Trump’s Border Stunt Is a Profound Betrayal of Our Military

      The president used America’s military not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election.

      A week before the midterm elections, the president of the United States announced he would deploy up to 15,000 active duty military troops to the United States-Mexico border to confront a menacing caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The soldiers would use force, if necessary, to prevent such an “invasion” of the United States.

      Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president.

      The public debate focused on secondary issues. Is there truly a threat to American security from an unarmed group of tired refugees and asylum seekers on foot and a thousand miles from the border? Even the Army’s internal assessment did not find this a very credible threat.

      Can the president deny in advance what could be legitimate claims for asylum, without scrutiny? Most likely, this violates treaty commitments the United States made as part of its agreement to refugee conventions in 1967, which it has followed for decades.

      The deployment is not, in the context of the defense budget, an albatross. We are already paying the troops, wherever they’re deployed, and the actual incremental costs of sending them to the border might be $100 million to $200 million, a tiny fraction of the $716 billion defense budget.

      Still, we can think of many ways to put the funds to better use, like improving readiness.

      It’s also not unusual for a president to ask the troops to deploy to the border in support of border security operations. Presidents of both parties have sent troops to the border, to provide support functions like engineering, logistics, transportation and surveillance.

      But those deployments have been generally in smaller numbers, usually the National Guard, and never to stop a caravan of refugees and asylum seekers.

      So, generously, some aspects of the deployment are at least defensible. But one is not, and that aspect is the domestic political use — or rather, misuse — of the military.

      James Mattis, the secretary of defense, asserted that the Defense Department does not “do stunts.” But this was a blatant political stunt. The president crossed a line — the military is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. As many senior military retirees have argued, the forces are not and should not be a political instrument. They are not toy soldiers to be moved around by political leaders but a neutral institution, politically speaking.
      Editors’ Picks
      This Town Once Feared the 10-Story Waves. Then the Extreme Surfers Showed Up.
      China’s Women-Only Subway Cars, Where Men Rush In
      How a Common Interview Question Hurts Women

      Oh, some might say, presidents use troops politically all the time. And so they do, generally in the context of foreign policy decisions that have political implications. Think Lyndon Johnson sending more troops to Vietnam, fearing he would be attacked for “cutting and running” from that conflict. Or George W. Bush crowing about “mission accomplished” when Saddam Hussein was toppled. Those are not the same thing as using troops at home for electoral advantage.

      Electoral gain, not security, is this president’s goal. Two of us served in the military for many years; while all troops must obey the legal and ethical orders of civilian leaders, they need to have faith that those civilian leaders are using them for legitimate national security purposes. But the border deployment put the military right in the middle of the midterm elections, creating a nonexistent crisis to stimulate votes for one party.

      When partisan actions like this occur, they violate civil-military traditions and erode that faith, with potentially long-term damage to the morale of the force and our democratic practice — all for electoral gain.

      The deployment is a stunt, a dangerous one, and in our view, a misuse of the military that should have led Mr. Mattis to consider resigning, instead of acceding to this blatant politicization of America’s military.


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/opinion/president-trump-border-military-troops.html

    • The Military Is ’Securing’ a 1,900-Mile Border with 22 Miles of Razor Wire

      #Operation_Faithful_Patriot” is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign.
      Skim through the Pentagon’s media site for Operation Faithful Patriot—the fittingly ridiculous name for the deployment of some 7,000 American troops to various spots along the Mexican border—and you’ll see lots of razor wire.

      There are photos of American troops laying razor wire (technically known as concertina wire) along the California-Mexico border. Of wire being affixed to the top of fences and to the sides of buildings. Everywhere you look on the Pentagon’s site, you find wire, wire, and more wire. Photos of soldiers carrying rolls of unused wire, snapshots of forklifts bringing more of the stuff to the border, and even videos of wire being unrolled and deployed. It’s thrilling stuff, truly.

      The message is not subtle. President Donald Trump might not have convinced Congress to blow billions for a fully operational border wall, but good luck to any immigrant caravan that happens to stumble into the thorny might of the American military’s sharpest deterrents.

      The focus on concertina wire isn’t just in the Pentagon’s internal media. The Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire Election Day story to how troops in Granjeno, Texas, had “unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.” Troops stringing wire also appeared in The New York Post, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

      There is so much concertina wire deployed to the southern border that if it were all stretched out from end to end, it would reach all the way from Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast to....well, whatever is 22 miles west of Brownsville, Texas.

      Yes. Despite the deluge of photos and videos of American troops are securing the southern border with reams of razor wire, Buzzfeed’s Vera Bergengruen reports that “troops have deployed with 22 miles of the wire so far, with 150 more available.”

      The U.S.–Mexico border is roughly 1,950 miles long.

      The wire doesn’t seem to be getting strung with any sort of strategic purpose, either. That WSJ story about the troops in Texas hanging wire from a bridge says that the “wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment” while the bridge itself remains open to vehicle traffic from Mexico. If there is a goal, it would seem to be making the border look more prickly and dystopian while not actually creating any sort of barrier.

      It’s no wonder, then, that the troops deployed to the border are confused about why they are there. On Wednesday, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited some of the troops stationed near McAllen, Texas, he was met with lots of questions and provided few answers.

      “Sir, I have a question. The wire obstacles that we’ve implanted along the border....Are we going to be taking those out when we leave?” one of the soldiers asked Mattis, according to Bergengruen. Another asked Mattis to explain the “short- and long-term plans of this operation.”

      “Short-term right now, you get the obstacles in so the border patrolmen can do what they gotta do,” Mattis responded. “Longer term, it’s somewhat to be determined.”

      Even at a time when most American military engagements seem to be conducted with a “TBD” rationale, this feels especially egregious. Mattis did his best on Wednesday to make the effort seem like a meaningful attempt to secure the border, while simultaneously admitting that he does not expect the deployed troops to actually come into contact with any immigrant caravans. Lately he’s been talking about how the deployment is supposedly good training for unconventional circumstances.

      It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Operation Faithful Patriot—a name so silly that the Pentagon has decided to stop using it—is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign. Of the 39 units deployed, five of them are public affairs units. There seems to be no clear mission, no long-term objective, and no indication that the troops will add meaningful enforcement to existing border patrols.

      As for all that wire? It doesn’t really seem to be working either.

      https://reason.com/blog/2018/11/19/the-military-is-securing-a-1900-mile-bor
      #Faithful_Patriot #barbelé


  • Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Top three stunning admissions from the top U.S. general in the Middle East

    Assad has won, Iran deal should stand and Saudis use American weapons without accountability in Yemen: head of U.S. military’s Central Command’s stunning Congressional testimony

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/top-three-stunning-admissions-from-the-top-u-s-general-in-the-region-1.5910

    Haaretz and Reuters Mar 16, 2018

    The top U.S. general in the Middle East testified before Congress on Tuesday and dropped several bombshells: from signaled support for the Iran nuclear deal, admitting the U.S. does not know what Saudi Arabia does with its bombs in Yemen and that Assad has won the Syrian Civil War.
    U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said the Iran agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from, has played an important role in addressing Iran’s nuclear program.
    “The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the formal name of the accord reached with Iran in July 2015 in Vienna.
    Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the accord between Tehran and six world powers unless Congress and European allies help “fix” it with a follow-up pact. Trump does not like the deal’s limited duration, among other things.
    Votel is head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran. He was speaking to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the same day that Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, including Iran.
    Keep updated: Sign up to our newsletter
    Email* Sign up

    Tillerson had joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing a skeptical Trump to stick with the agreement with Iran.
    “There would be some concern (in the region), I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA. ... Right now, I think it is in our interest” to stay in the deal, Votel said.

    When a lawmaker asked whether he agreed with Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford’s position on the deal,Votel said: “Yes, I share their position.”
    Mattis said late last year that the United States should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal unless it was proven Tehran was not complying or that the agreement was not in the U.S. national interest.
    A collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would be a “great loss,” the United Nations atomic watchdog’s chief warned Trump recently, giving a wide-ranging defense of the accord.
    Iran has stayed within the deal’s restrictions since Trump took office but has fired diplomatic warning shots at Washington in recent weeks. It said on Monday that it could rapidly enrich uranium to a higher degree of purity if the deal collapsed.
    Syria
    Votel also discussed the situation in Syria at the hearing.
    During the Syrian army’s offensive in eastern Ghouta, more than 1,100 civilians have died. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, say they are targeting “terrorist” groups shelling the capital.
    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the U.N. Security Council failed to act on Syria.
    Votel said the best way to deter Russia, which backs Assad, was through political and diplomatic channels.
    “Certainly if there are other things that are considered, you know, we will do what we are told. ... (But) I don’t recommend that at this particular point,” Votel said, in an apparent to reference to military options.
    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked whether it was too strong to say that with Russia and Iran’s help, Assad had “won” the civil war in Syria.
    “I do not think that is too strong of a statement,” Votel said.
    Graham also asked if the United States’ policy on Syria was still to seek the removal of Assad from power.
    “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS,” Votel said, using an acronym for Islamic State. 
    Saudi Arabia
    In a stunning exchange with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, Votel admitted that Centcom doesn’t know when U.S. fuel and munitions are used in Yemen. 
    “General Votel, does CENTCOM track the purpose of the missions it is refueling? In other words, where a U.S.-refueled aircraft is going, what targets it strikes, and the result of the mission?” Warren asked.
    “Senator, we do not,” Votel replied.
    The Senator followed up, citing reports that U.S. munitions have been used against civilians in Yemen, she asked, “General Votel, when you receive reports like this from credible media organizations or outside observers, is CENTCOM able to tell if U.S. fuel or U.S. munitions were used in that strike?”
    “No, senator, I don’t believe we are,” he replied.
    Showing surprise at the general’s response, Warren concluded, “We need to be clear about this: Saudi Arabia’s the one receiving American weapons and American support. And that means we bear some responsibility here. And that means we need to hold our partners and our allies accountable for how those resources are used,” she said.


  • France: more bucks for your bang
    https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/france-more-bucks-your-bang

    When presenting the budget plan, Parly noted that “the world is more uncertain and the threats are more and diffuse”, and added that France needs to maintain its global influence, intervening where its interests are threatened and where it’s needed for global stability.

    The Macron government’s announcement will mean a serious boost to France’s defence capacity. But it is much more than that.

    For a start, the Trump administration will welcome the announcement very warmly; it positions France more directly as a reliable and relevant partner for the US in Europe and globally. The increased spending sends a strong signal about the seriousness of France’s commitment and leadership.

    As it happens, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was in Brussels on 14–15 February for a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers. One item on their agenda was to review progress towards NATO’s 2% of GDP target. Mattis continued to argue that other NATO members should shoulder more of the defence burden, something that US President Donald Trump has been pushing aggressively since taking office.

    Mattis reportedly told NATO members (behind closed doors) that they needed to show the same commitment to spending more on defence that the US had shown through its own very significant defence budget lift. NATO members, he apparently reiterated, needed to do more, or risk a reduction of US military support.

    In fact, the US point is well made. Very few NATO members have reached, or are anywhere near reaching, the 2% of GDP target. On 13 February NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said only eight NATO members are expected to reach the target this year, and very few (15, leaving aside the US, of NATO’s 28 members) are likely to reach it by 2024. France is now on track to join that club.

    Stoltenberg put a brave face on these statistics, noting that NATO members as a whole had increased defence spending. But it doesn’t alter the fact that several members are unlikely to meet the target.

    One of the worst offenders is Germany, Europe’s largest economy and the fourth-largest economy globally. Although Germany has indicated it will lift the defence budget by around €250 million a year, the fact is German defence expenditure is only around 1.24% of GDP, and considerably more funding will be required to achieve NATO’s target. Even that modest ambition is up for discussion.


  • Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People
    http://www.newsweek.com/now-mattis-admits-there-was-no-evidence-assad-using-poison-gas-his-people-

    Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has “no evidence” that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.

    This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

    Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.

    US has no evidence of Syrian use of sarin gas, Mattis says
    https://apnews.com/bd533182b7f244a4b771c73a0b601ec5

    The U.S. has no evidence to confirm reports from aid groups and others that the Syrian government has used the deadly chemical sarin on its citizens, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.

    “We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “We do not have evidence of it.”

    He said he was not rebutting the reports.

    “We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions,” Mattis said.

    #allons_bon


  • Trump’s parade and the threat of military dictatorship - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/08/pers-f08.html

    Trump’s parade and the threat of military dictatorship
    8 February 2018

    The order given by President Donald Trump to the Pentagon’s top brass to draw up plans for a military parade down Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue later this year is a political development that should be approached with deadly seriousness.

    The Washington Post reported that the demand for the parade was delivered by Trump to senior military officials, including his defense secretary, the recently retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a January 18 meeting in the “the tank,” the Joint Chiefs’ secret meeting room at the Pentagon.

    #états-unis #trump #parade_militaire


  • With Bannon banished from Trump World, pro-Israel hard-liners pin their hopes on Pence

    Far-right U.S. Jewish Republicans believed the one-time Breitbart supremo had their back, but his fall from grace shifts their focus to the vice president and a very unlikely blast from the recent past

    Allison Kaplan Sommer Jan 16, 2018

    Few American Jews shed tears at the downfall of Steve Bannon, whose humiliation was made complete Tuesday when he stepped down from Breitbart News following his ugly estrangement from President Donald Trump – confirmed by the insulting new nickname of Sloppy Steve.
    skip - Donald Trump tweet
    The catalyst for his fate were his uncensored remarks in Michael Wolffs White House tell-all book, Fire and Fury, alienating Trump and then, fatally, the Mercers (Bannons arch-conservative financial backers who bankrolled both Breitbart and his endeavors to become a renegade Republican kingmaker.)
    The vast majority of Americas overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic Jews viewed Bannon as either an anti-Semite or an anti-Semite enabler whose conspiratorial references to demonic global financiers awakened and emboldened white supremacists. His oft-quoted description of Breitbart as the platform for the alt-right white nationalist movement confirmed such views.
    But for the minority of staunchly hard-line, pro-Israel Jews (and evangelical Christians) who support Israels settlement enterprise, oppose a Palestinian state and any form of territorial compromise, Bannon was an important force in the White House.
    For this group, his out-of-the-box positions on Israel far outweighed any threats the views of the Trump-voting, alt-right fan base from which he drew his influence might pose.
    Notably, it was Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America – who invited Bannon to address his organizations annual gala last November – who was the sole loyalist quoted as willing to speak up for Bannon in a lengthy Politico piece on Sunday. Klein said: If there is anyone, like Bannon, who is a strong supporter of Israel and a strong fighter against anti-Semitism and that person ends up having less influence on the administration, that is something that would sadden me.

    In Fire and Fury, the extent to which Bannons position on Israel matched hard-liners like Klein was described in detail. The book not only revealed that Trumps then-strategic adviser planned to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Day One after entering the White House, but, moreover, had an extreme and highly unorthodox approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza, says Bannon in the book. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.
    He then claimed that both GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were all in on his plans.
    Taken as a whole, it is a depiction of an extreme right-wing cabal, one that could find its place on the right fringes of Likud, that has been guiding if not running [President Donald] Trumps Middle East policies, Haaretzs Chemi Shalev wrote. Shalev described it as an axis that dominated Trumps Middle East policies during his first year in office. It is an alliance that Netanyahu appears to have cultivated, with the assistance, or at the direction, of his Las Vegas benefactor, Adelson. All three operate under the premise ascribed to Bannon that the further right you were, the more correct you were on Israel.
    This hard-line trio of influence presumably acted as a counterweight against the more pragmatic former military men in the White House – most prominently National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, but also former Secretary of Homeland Security and current Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis – whom, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the far right privately scorn as Arabists who are soft on Israel. It was also a bulwark against Trumps fantasies of making the ultimate deal, which they believed were being cultivated by Bannons nemesis – Trumps son-in-law and aide, Jared Kushner.
    Bannons banishment from the White House, and now his political self-immolation and disappearance from Trumps circle of influence, comes as a deep disappointment to those who embraced and celebrated his outlook and that of satellite foreign policy Bannonites like Sebastian Gorka.
    Sad, tragic and disappointing, one pro-Trump Republican on the Jewish far right told me, asking not to be identified by name. Israels lost a really important voice.
    With that sadness comes concern over the increased influence of the generals, as well as Javanka (Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump), on Middle East policy. The Jewish Trump supporter said he believes the presidents son-in-law has got his head in a very dark place when it comes to this peace thing. I think Jared is really wrong on this whole peace plan and can only do damage, he noted.
    But the hard-liners are still hopeful, attributing their optimism that the Trump administration will avoid any Kushner-fueled peace attempts to three factors.
    First, and most prominently, their hopes are pinned on Vice President Mike Pence – who will visit Israel on January 22-23 – and the evangelical Christian base he represents. Rejecting the portrayal of a sidelined Pence in Wolffs book, they call him a powerful player, particularly on Israel.

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, January 9, 2018. JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
    Clear evidence for this, they argue, lies in the fact that last months declaration of recognizing Jerusalem as Israels capital and the plan for an embassy move came after Bannon left the White House. It was Pence and the evangelicals – not Adelson, Netanyahu and Bannon – who ultimately got something done, and they are the ones who will have Israels back in the post-Bannon era.
    Secondly, there are the Palestinians themselves, who called the Jerusalem declaration a kiss of death to the two-state solution.
    Third, there is Trump himself. Much as the president is portrayed as an utterly transactional empty vessel, his Jewish supporters dont believe his views were artificially foisted on him by Bannon, but instead come from his own core beliefs. It was the president himself who wanted to move the embassy at the very beginning of his administration, they say, and it was Netanyahu himself who told Trump it would be better to wait.
    skip - Conor Powell tweet
    Return of the Mooch?
    If there is now a vacuum in the conduit between the far-right Klein/Adelson crowd and the Trump White House, one figure is clearly eager to fill it. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is not only different from Bannon – as slick and public as Bannon is unkempt and secretive – but he is also Bannons nemesis.

    In this July 2017 file photo, Anthony Scaramucci blows a kiss after answering questions during the press briefing.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
    Call it a coincidence, but on the same day Bannon departed from Breitbart, it was also announced that Scaramucci – who spent the day dancing on his grave – would be a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. The RJC confab is set for early February at Adelsons Venetian hotel and casino. In the past, ZOAs Klein has described Scaramucci as being supportive of Israel in the ZOA way, not in the mainstream Jewish way.
    Scaramucci has made a point of cozying up to the Adelson-backed Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. It was at a Boteach Hanukkah party that Scaramucci reportedly took a verbal detour from recounting his trip to Israel to insult Bannon, allegedly calling the former Trump aide messianic and a loser, warning that Hell be a stalwart defender of Israel until hes not. Thats how this guy operates. Ive seen this guy operate. He was a stalwart defender of me until it became better for him not to be.
    In the end, it was not his failure to defend Israel that proved to be Bannons undoing. It was his failure to defend Donald Trump.

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Haaretz Correspondent

    Send me email alerts


  • White House Officials Push for Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections | Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/16/white-house-officials-push-for-widening-war-in-syria-over-pentagon-ob

    A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there, according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration.

    Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    Their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once, the two sources said.


  • Ambassador Slammed Donald Trump Amid UAE Campaign To Isolate Qatar | HuffPost

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/yousef-al-otaiba-emails-trump_us_59358e71e4b013c48169d5dc?section=us

    WASHINGTON ― Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S. and a confidant of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump in private correspondence last year ― including with officials loyal to President Barack Obama ― emails obtained by HuffPost show.

    Otaiba, one of the most powerful diplomats in Washington, figures in an unfolding regional crisis centered on U.S. partner nation Qatar, which hosts America’s largest military base in the region. The UAE and three other U.S.-aligned Middle East governments ratcheted up a simmering dispute with Qatar on Sunday night when they cut diplomatic and transportation ties to the Gulf nation over its support of the transnational Muslim Brotherhood and alleged assistance to Iran-backed militants around the region.

    The Trump administration has not taken a formal position on the issue. Many in Trump’s orbit agree with the UAE on the need to combat forces that Qatar supports in the region, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The UAE has designated the group a terrorist organization and pushed for the U.S. to do the same, a step counterterrorism researchers say would be controversial and risky.

    The leaked emails, which show Otaiba’s comments during a yearlong campaign to discredit Qatar in the U.S., threaten the UAE’s hope to win official American blessing for its pressure campaign against the Qataris. Trump is notoriously thin-skinned: He has banned people who publicly criticized him from his team (including GOP consigliere Elliott Abrams, a fellow Qatar skeptic who is friends with Otaiba) and seems unable to get over slights even years after they occur. And his administration already seems disinclined to pick a side. Top officials like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have emphasized the importance of resolving the dispute.


  • White House claims on Syria chemical attack ‘obviously false’ – MIT professor — RT America
    https://www.rt.com/usa/384520-postol-report-sarin-syria

    “I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun,” wrote Postol.

    A chemical attack with a nerve agent did occur, he said, but the available evidence does not support the US government’s conclusions.

    “I have only had a few hours to quickly review the alleged White House intelligence report. But a quick perusal shows without a lot of analysis that this report cannot be correct,” Postol wrote.

    It is “very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who conducted this attack itself,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday. (...)

    “Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real,” he wrote. “No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.”

    Instead, “the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.”

    “We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report,” he concluded, recalling the 2013 situation when the Obama administration claimed Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels in Ghouta, near Damascus.

    “What the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true,” Postol wrote, “and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security.”


  • Trump Turns on Assad, Strikes Air Base With Flurry of Cruise Missiles | Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/06/trump-turns-on-assad-strikes-air-base-with-flurry-of-cruise-missiles-

    The legal authority for the strikes is also unclear. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, under which the United States conducts counterterror strikes in the region, applies to terrorist groups, not states. The administration could point to legal justifications drafted during the Obama administration for the 2011 intervention in Libya, which allows for unilateral, punitive strikes on humanitarian grounds. But some lawmakers — citing Trump’s own long-held positions — said that Congress must authorize deeper U.S. involvement against the Syrian regime.
    […]
    Trump authorized the strike after being briefed on the target by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis earlier in the day. The cruise missile strike was on the more limited end of the range of options that secretary Mattis presented the president, a military official said. Trump is in the middle of a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Palm Beach, Fla., resort.


  • U.S. must release Abu Ghraib photos, judge says | Reuters
    http://www.reuters.com/article/abughraib-photos-idUSL1N1F82JM

    The U.S. Department of Defense must release a cache of photos showing how Army personnel treated detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison and other sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

    U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said the release was proper because departing Defense Secretary Ash Carter failed to show why publishing the photos would endanger Americans deployed outside the United States.

    Hellerstein’s decision is a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil and veterans rights groups whose lawsuit seeking the photos under the federal Freedom of Information Act began in 2004.

    #abu_ghraib #torture #irak
    Photos depicting abuse at Abu Ghraib began to emerge in 2004, with some detainees claiming to have endured physical and sexual abuse, electric shocks and mock executions.

    The number of photos sought in the lawsuit has not been disclosed but has been estimated at roughly 2,000, according to the Congressional Record and court papers.


  • Russia Applauds Trump Dream Team as Exxon CEO Eyed for State - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-11/putin-awaits-fantastic-trump-team-as-exxon-ally-may-head-state

    With two decades of deal-making in Russia’s vital oil industry under his belt, Rex Tillerson is Vladimir Putin’s kind of man.

    The Exxon Mobil Corp. chief is also in Donald Trump’s sights for secretary of state, fueling optimism in Moscow that a longed-for thaw in relations is near.

    If nominated and confirmed, Tillerson would join another supporter of closer cooperation with Russia at the top of America’s policy-making apparatus, Michael Flynn, the president-elect’s national security adviser. Add in Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, retired General James Mattis, who’s viewed in Moscow as more pragmatic than his predecessors, and the Kremlin couldn’t ask for much more, according to Sergei Markov, a consultant to Putin’s staff.

    This is a fantastic team,” Markov said by phone from the Russian capital on Sunday. “These are people that Russia can do business with.


  • Rex Tillerson of ExxonMobil Expected to Be Named Trump’s Secretary of State: Sources - NBC News
    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/rex-tillerson-exxon-mobil-expected-be-named-trump-s-secretary-n694371

    Donald Trump is expected to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, two sources close to the transition process told NBC News on Saturday.

    The 64-year-old veteran oil executive has no government or diplomatic experience, although he has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The pick would put to rest weeks-long speculation of who would earn the post as the U.S.’s top diplomat, and would place Tillerson fourth in line to the presidency.

    He will also be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state, one of the sources added, with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department.

    • One of ExxonMobil’s and Russia’s biggest deals fell victim to the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in reaction to Russia invading Crimea in 2014. That deal to drill in the offshore Arctic Kara Sea oil field would have reportedly been worth $500 billion.

      [...] Tillerson’s role and financial stake in ExxonMobil — the fifth-largest publicly traded company in the world with a $369 billion market cap — could open up cases of conflict of interest. His ExxonMobil shares are reportedly worth about $151 million.

      Tillerson was brought into Trump Tower for an interview with Trump at the recommendation of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who count Exxon among their private consulting clients, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. His name was first publicly floated for the job in early December and he met privately with Trump on Tuesday. Rice sat down with the President-elect in late November, and Gates followed her three days later.

      http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/12/rex-tillerson-exxonmobil-secretary-state-232455


  • Can You Spot the Snipers Hidden in These Photos? | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/2014/03/hidden-snipers

    Simon Menner’s ongoing series Camouflage shows landscapes with German snipers hidden somewhere in the frame. The project is like a deadly Where’s Waldo exercise. For Menner, the challenge of finding the snipers isn’t the important part; the photos comment on the way things like fear, terror, and surveillance are constantly part of our lives in the modern world.

    “I’m playing with this notion that you always have to be afraid of something that is not visible,” says Menner, who lives in Berlin.
    ...
    He started shooting back in 2010 and actually had a fairly easy time contacting the German army. He wrote a letter to the German Defense Secretary explaining his request and soon after was contacted by several high-ranking army officials who helped him arrange the shoot.

    “I didn’t expect much, but [the army] was very open to it,” he says. “I think part of the reason it was so easy was because there is a general lack of interest in society about the army, so they were very happy. They actually offered to have me go to Afghanistan as well.”

    #photgraphie #art #militaire #Allemagne


  • James Mattis, Possible Trump pick for defense post sees Israel turning into apartheid state
    Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who was known as ’Mad Dog,’ also has said that the United States pays a ’price’ for its support of Israel.

    JTA Nov 21, 2016
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.754253

    James Mattis, a former Marine General seen as one of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidates for Defense Secretary has said West Bank settlements are turning Israel into an apartheid state.
    Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who was known as “Mad Dog,” also has said that the United States pays a price for its support of Israel, the Times of Israel reported.
    Mattis met with Trump Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey
    An unnamed official “familiar with the transition process” told CNN that Mattis can be considered a leading candidate for secretary of defense.
    When Trump was asked by reporters whether Mattis is a candidate to lead the Defense Department, Trump said, “All I can say is he is the real deal. He is the real deal.”
    Mattis ran U.S. Central Command in from August 2010 to March 2013. In that position he had command authority for all U.S. forces in the Middle East.


  • Russia could ground UK’s F-35s by killing all 40 pilots – General’s memo — RT UK
    https://www.rt.com/uk/359656-russia-kill-f35-pilots

    A retired British general believes Russia would not need to shoot down the UK’s F-35 fighter jets – it would suffice to kill the “40 or so” people who can pilot them. It comes as one of the points in a memo obtained by the Financial Times.
    The 10-page document was sent to Defense Secretary Michael Fallon in April by General Richard Barrons, who retired as the commander of UK Joint Forces Command the same month.
    […]
    The British military are “by design” undermanned, underfunded and underprepared for a major war, Barrons argued. One of the concerns he voiced was what he saw as overreliance on a small amount of expensive equipment like aircraft carriers or the US-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The general said it would not be necessary to shoot down the advanced warplanes, but rather to “know how to murder in their beds” all 40 pilots the UK has who know how to pilot them.


  • Pentagon Weapons Buyer Orders Review of Troubled New Carrier - Bloomberg
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-29/pentagon-weapons-buyer-orders-review-of-new-carrier-s-troubles

    The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has ordered an independent review of the $12.9 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, citing a list of actual and potential deficiencies with the costliest warship ever.
    With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies” on the vessel, from those needed to generate power and launch and land aircraft to its radar and elevators to move munitions, Frank Kendall said in an Aug. 23 memo addressed to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and obtained by Bloomberg News.
    […]
    The inclusion of unproven technologies was a decision “made long ago as part of a DoD-level initiative called ‘Transformation,’” Kendall wrote. The initiative, which also produced several failed space programs, came under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld starting in 2001.
    […]
    Kendall’s memo lists five primary technology areas to be reviewed, including propulsion and electrical system components that he said could be tied to “recent issues discovered with the Main Turbine Generators,” launch and recover systems for aircraft and a new dual-band radar that he said has had “integration issues” on the Ford “that need to be avoided” on the next two vessels in the class.