Monday 28th of May 2018

the bells of war...

the bells of war

The bells of war do not toll for anyone in particular anymore. Too many people are dying to toll for. There is a foreboding emotion in events still unfolding and the history of war is longer than we can remember. As everyone (the US) and his dog (Abbott) is now blaming Russia for what is happening is Ukraine, we have to ask the question. Is the situation going to improve with such blame or carry on for another 20 years until an agreement for "peace", whatever that is, is signed. 

I would venture to say that the capitalist neo-fascist leaders of the west know that the tragedy of MH17 is actually reinforcing the resolve and the standing of the Russian side of politics, though it has gone quieter. This is why every media organisations attached to the capitalist neo-fascists and all the representatives of the west are piling up crap against Russia, while cajoling to Ukraine... It's not done for simple humanitarian reasons. It's done because Russia has been deemed to be evil long ago for having resisted capitulation and not becoming a slave of the west when the Soviet Union collapsed. And there is money to be made, well may be not now, but in 30 years time, from the relationship with Ukraine... 
Not only the capitalists are driven neo-fascists, they are also enlightened by religious fervour. And what a way for political figures but to be at the service for the dead. My very simplistic view is that should there be a religious service to honour the dead, it should not be with political figures... A separate secular political service should be held, with no godly bells, but true human sorrow. 
To me, the mixing of tragedy and politics is always insensitive. It is clear that the shooting down of MH17 was an accident, in a war zone, where people are still at war. 
Yes there are Ukrainian-Russians at war with the Ukrainian government. It's a fact. We can call them terrorists or whatever, they are at war against a central government which does not represent their values and that has, to say the least, committed atrocities in reciprocated kind. 
Nothing will stop this conflict unless we come to term with the ethnicity of Ukraine. And it's not baddies against baddies like the description of our little Turd-in-Chief about the conflict in Syria. Nor goodies versus baddies in Gaza. The simplification of conflicts into slogan does not help. Blaming Russia for MH17 is not going to help either. Nor placing the blame on an airline which should not have been sending plane in this air space. Nor blaming Kiev for wanting to make a few extra bucks by selectively banning civilian planes below 32,000 feet... 
The treatment of the dead in a war zone is rarely delicately done. To some extend, it's quite extraordinary that the Western media be allowed so close to the site of the tragedy. 
So, the Russians supplied rockets to the separatists. And? Contrary to what John Kerry is dancing about, this does not make the Russians "complicit" in the downing of MH17. Or did the Russians supply the rockets? Could these rockets have come from Ukraine's own stores of armament, looted by the rebels? Most of Ukraine's armament would be of Russian origins. And, should we trust the "videos of rocket launchers being moved"? Such video could come from Kiev's own military exercises for all we know.
And who supplies the armament, planes, tanks or the cash, used by Israel to savage Gaza? 
Who supplies the armament to Isis?
There is enough armament flotsam and jetsam —new and second-hand — around the world to have much bigger conflicts to the end of eternity or humanity whichever comes first, without running out of bullets. But the biggest weapon is our own idiosyncratic hypocrisy — our ability to all be psychopath with excuses and glorification to cover our own atrocities... 
So, What are the options?... More sabre-rattling until this Ukrainian conflict escalate into an international war that would also include the Chinese? We know that campaigns against Russia have been doomed in the past. Same in Afghanistan, where basically Kabul is the only "safe" place in that country. 
Or like in Yugoslavia, the country gets split along majority ethnic lines? Unless the Ukrainian government crushes the opposition, which would be unlikely, because it would require the Russians to abandon their own kind in Ukraine. Unless both sides agree to stop fighting with no resolution, but a tense ceasefire... And... 
Ukraine will resist the idea of a split forever after, unless it gets pressured by the West, possibly for the best of all, but would the west be prepared to give up part of its bone, as the killing goes on... This would be a shorter uneasy solution but which does not need to drag on, though most people are angry and need to save face...
The capitalist neo-fascists, us, the "good guys", have created a difficult situation with a subtle but forceful conquest by cash and dare I say, corruption of another kind, in a country where corruption might have been rampant already. Even in Australia, we get corruption of all kind, financial, political and religious. When ideologies and ethnicity are threatened beyond a certain point, the reactions are not always pretty. Actually, never pretty. 
As the USA and its five-eyes allies duplicitously spy on the rest of the world — in "self-protection", commercial and political interest — and on itself as well, as Russia makes a financial pact with China, India, Brazil and South-Africa, and as the USA owes more than twenty trillions dollars to the rest of the world and Russia owes three quarters of a peanuts, while China owns more of the US debt than ever, "sanctions" are a funny way to achieve an outcome. They are more decorations to our self-esteem than an efficient way to deal with such a problem, while the west is ready to embed its teeth in Ukraine like a dog having dug for a bone...
There would be more results by showing friendship in these difficult times and co-operation without thinking of robbery. Help is better than threats. Or is it?
We always choose biffo, don't we?
Meanwhile, most of this would not make any sense to the families — still in shock — of the dead.
Take care.



Gus Leonisky

Your local war expert.

not politicising a tragedy...


Moscow: Russia's President Vladimir Putin, the leader at the centre of the international crisis over the downed Malaysia Airlines' plane has broken his silence, saying no country should use the tragedy for its own ends.

“We must do everything to provide security for the international experts on the site of the tragedy," Mr Putin said to Russian network Russia Today, in his first public comments about the incident.

"In the meantime, nobody should and has no right to use this tragedy to achieve their ‘narrowly selfish’ political goals," he said.

Mr Putin called for a "fully representative group of experts to be working at the site" under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Authority, which governs the standards of crash-site investigations.

The leader has promised to co-operate with outraged world leaders seeking access to the site of downed flight MH17, after Washington squarely pointed the finger of blame at Moscow for the crash.

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meanwhile on another warfront...


Then came the older of the four siblings, a boy in his early teens. His head and face were covered in blood and he was pressing a rag to his head to staunch the flow. But his focus was on something else: ‘Save my little brother!’ he kept screaming.”

The unnamed boy pictured in the photograph was thrashing about and screaming for his father as the paramedic carried him straight from the emergency unit to intensive care.

“Upon carefully examining the wounds, it appeared that the explosion from the artillery round sent flying small pieces of stone from the walls of his house, and that some of his wounds were caused by these high-velocity projectiles,” Dr Dabour wrote.

The shrapnel in the boy’s neck just missed a major artery, the piece in his chest nearly punctured a lung, and the one in his stomach nearly hit his bowel. But the child was a “lucky” one, Dr Dabour said, because he had seen too many killed.

Just a day earlier, four boys aged between nine and 11 were playing on the beach in Gaza City when Israeli military strikes slaughtered them. They were cousins.

As the Islamic militant group Hamas and Israeli troops prepare to enter day 14 of their latest conflict, the death toll sits at 417 Palestinians and 18 Israelis.

A third of Palestine's dead were children, the United Nations children’s agency declared on Saturday. About 50 boys and 20 girls between three months and 18 years of age had been slain.

“From July 8, until 4am on July 19, at least 73 Palestinian children have been reported killed as a result of air strikes and shelling by Israel aerial, naval and ground forces,” UNICEF's Catherine Weibel said.

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Note that the Israelis are using flechettes as an indiscriminate weapon.

The Israeli military is using flechette shells, which spray out thousands of tiny and potentially lethal metal darts, in its military operation in Gaza.

Six flechette shells were fired towards the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, on 17 July, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Nahla Khalil Najjar, 37, suffered injuries to her chest, it said. PCHR provided a picture of flechettes taken by a fieldworker last week.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) did not deny using the shells in the conflict. "As a rule, the IDF only employs weapons that have been determined lawful under international law, and in a manner which fully conforms with the laws of armed conflict," a spokesperson said in response to a request for specific comment on the deployment of flechettes.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation, describes a flechette shell as "an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from a tank. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts 37.5mm in length, which disperse in a conical arch 300 metres long and about 90 metres wide".

The munitions are not prohibited under international humanitarian law, but according to B'Tselem, "other rules of humanitarian law render their use in the Gaza Strip illegal. One of the most fundamental principles is the obligation to distinguish between those who are involved and those who are not involved in the fighting, and to avoid to the extent possible injury to those who are not involved. Deriving from this principle is the prohibition of the use of an imprecise weapon which is likely to result in civilian injuries."

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in need of a new relationship...


America had already announced new sanctions against Russia just hours before the world learnt the plane had come down. Europe has not yet followed.

On the contrary, in recent weeks, Germany has made repeated efforts to broker direct negotiations among Kiev, Moscow and the rebels.

A policy of cooperation rather than confrontation with Russia is dear to many on the left in Germany, legatees of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, and also favoured by German business, which has significant commercial interests in Russia. But the demise of MH17 will make such cooperation much more difficult to justify to the rest of the world.

That is probably counterproductive. Even as their logic becomes irresistible to many in the West, sanctions will probably fail to force Putin to cut off the flow of weapons, money and recruits to the separatists. They might even strengthen his resolve to back them.

We forget that the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is, fundamentally, a geopolitical issue with its own logic to those embroiled in it. The passengers and crew of MH17 stumbled innocently into this conflict, but their tragic deaths won't change the underlying historical, cultural and strategic factors behind the rebellion or Russia's sponsorship of it.

By now, the story is well known.

Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has resented the eastward expansion of Western organisations such as NATO and the EU. It considers both organisations to have broken the commitments they made, in the early 1990s, to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to draw the countries of the former Eastern bloc or the old Soviet Union into an anti-Russian alliance or economic space.

Russia is particularly sensitive about Ukraine, whose people and territory it sees as culturally, historically and geographically Russian. Kievan Rus' was the first Eastern Slavic people to receive Orthodoxy, with the result that many Russians think of Kiev as "Mother of Russian cities", the font of their civilization, as Putin did expressly in his annexation speech on Crimea.

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The word "strategy" seems to invoke a system of tactics in 'war" — whether economical or in battles. I prefer the word "relationship"... It does not carry so much baggage. 



Moscow also denied supplying Ukrainian separatists with Buk missile systems or any other weapons, as it sought to head off international accusations it was responsible for the downing of the plane with 298 people on board.

Armed with slides, charts and images, two high-ranking officials of Russia’s general staff laid out a case against Ukraine at a specially called briefing.

Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov said the plane strayed north of its planned route, adding that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet, which is typically equipped with air-to-air missiles, had been recorded in the proximity of the Boeing 777.

The Malaysian plane “deviated from its route to the north ... the maximum deviation was 14 kilometres,” he said.

“An altitude gain was recorded for a Ukrainian armed forces plane. Its distance from the Malaysian Boeing was three to five kilometres,” he added, noting that the SU-25 is capable of reaching a height of 10,000 metres “for a brief time”.

“With what aim was a military plane flying along a civilian aviation route practically at the same time and at the same flight level as a passenger liner? We would like to receive an answer to this question.”

He also said the Russian Defence Ministry detected unusual activity from radar stations that are used to operate missile systems on the day of the tragedy.

“From July 17 [Thursday] the intensity of the operation of Ukrainian radar stations increased to the maximum,” General Kartopolov said.

He said seven radar stations were operating close to the area of the disaster on Tuesday, eight on Wednesday and nine on the day of the crash, Thursday. After the crash, just four radar stations were operating in the area on Friday and just two on Saturday, he added, citing data.

General Kartopolov insisted Russia had not supplied Ukrainian separatists with Buk missile systems or any other weapons. “I want to stress that Russia did not give the rebels Buk missile systems or any other kinds of weapons or military hardware.”

The general's explanation comes as US network NBC reported that a Russian broadcaster pinned the blame for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on the CIA.

The report, on Russia's Channel One, claimed the US had planned to do the same thing during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis - an event that brought the US and Russia close to nuclear war.

Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March has sparked the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War. 

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of wars and "military interventions"...


Philip Bump calculated how many years the U.S. has been at war over the last seventy years. It’s an interesting study, but it actually understates how often the U.S. has used force overseas. Some of this has to do with Bump’s rather arbitrary definition of what it means for the U.S. to be at war:

Using somewhat subjective definitions of “at war” — Korea counts but Kosovo doesn’t in our analysis, for example — we endeavored to figure out how much of each person’s life has been spent with America at war.

According to Bump’s chart, the U.S. has been at war for 43.2% of my lifetime (I was born in 1979). That is a large percentage, but it is too low. It counts the years between 1991 and 2001 as a time when the U.S wasn’t at war. As anyone familiar with U.S. foreign policy during that decade knows, that isn’t really true.

If we include all U.S. military interventions, we find that the U.S. has bombed and/or invaded at least one other country at least once every year for the past twenty-one years straight. There has been an almost uninterrupted string of foreign interventions dating back to the invasion of Panama in 1989. The U.S. bombed Iraq on a regular basis between 1991 and 2003 in the name of patrolling the “no-fly” zones. There were also sporadic missile strikes during the Clinton years in Iraq and the strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998. The U.S. embarked on an ill-fated “nation-building” exercise in Somalia that ultimately claimed eighteen American lives, invaded Haiti to reimpose a deposed president, and bombed Serbs in the Bosnian and Kosovo interventions. The Gulf War is counted as “time spent in war” in this analysis, and for some reason Kosovo is not despite the fact that the U.S. was engaged in hostilities against Yugoslavia for a longer period in 1999 than it was in Iraq in 1991.

Since the US revolution against the Poms, in 1775, the US has more or less been at war with someone, even with itself...


selective moral clarity...


Bobby Jindal likes to say that Republicans shouldn’t be the “stupid party,” but his response to Rand Paul’s remarks on ISIS suggests that he doesn’t believe it:

American weakness, not American strength, emboldens our enemies. Senator Paul’s illogical argument clouds a situation that should provide pure moral clarity.

Paul easily has the better of the argument here, and he could have gone further in tracing the origins of ISIS to the invasion of Iraq and the chaos created by regime change. Jeb Bush’s fantasies aside, the group that we now know as ISIS or the Islamic State sprang from the Iraq war. The flourishing of jihadist groups such as ISIS is one of that war’s most baleful consequences, and it would not have happened if there had been no invasion. Furthermore, ISIS did benefit from the weapons that the U.S. provided to the Iraqi army, since the army melted away and left those weapons to be seized by the terrorist group. It has also acquired some of the weapons that the U.S. has provided to “moderate” rebel groups in Syria, which is just what critics of proposals to “arm the rebels” warned might happen. Jihadists that declared support for ISIS have made gains in Libya thanks in part to the 2011 U.S.-led intervention supported by most Republican hawks. Jindal has nothing to say about any of these claims because he can’t refute them, and so he is reduced to flinging insults and rehearsing tired propaganda lines. 

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See toon at top...