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Sunday, September 25, 2016

October 2001, the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. was bombing no other Islamic country. September 8th, almost 15 years later, U.S. dropped bombs on, or fired missiles at, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia.


Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing - Antiwar.com Original

An Obsolescent Military

by , September 24, 2016 ANTIWAR

What, precisely, is the US military for, and what, precisely, can it do? In practical terms, how powerful is it? On paper, it is formidable, huge, with carrier battle groups, advanced technology, remarkable submarines, satellites, and so on. What does this translate to?

Military power does not exist independently, but only in relation to specific circumstances. Comparing technical specifications of the T-14 to those of the M1A2, or Su-34 to F-15, or numbers of this to numbers of that, is an interesting intellectual exercise. It means little without reference to specific circumstances.
For example, America is vastly superior militarily to North Korea in every category of arms – but the North has nuclear bombs. It can’t deliver them to the US, but probably can to Seoul. Even without nuclear weapons, it has a large army and large numbers of artillery tubes within range of Seoul. It has an unpredictable government. As Gordon Liddy said, if your responses to provocation are wildly out of proportion to those provocations, and unpredictable, nobody will provoke you.

An American attack by air on the North, the only attack possible short of a preemptive nuclear strike, would offer a high probability of a peninsular war, devastation of Seoul, paralysis of an important trading partner – think Samsung – and an uncertain final outcome. The United States hasn’t the means of getting troops to Korea rapidly in any numbers, and the domestic political results of lots of GIs killed by a serious enemy would be politically grave. The probable cost far exceeds any possible benefit. In practical terms, Washington’s military superiority means nothing with regard to North Korea. Pyongyang knows it.

Or consider the Ukraine. On paper, US forces overall are superior to Russian. Locally, they are not. Russia borders on the Ukraine and could overrun it quickly. The US cannot rapidly bring force to bear except a degree of air power. Air power hasn’t worked against defenseless peasants in many countries. Russia is not a defenseless peasant. Europe, usually docile and obedient to America, is unlikely to engage in a shooting war with Moscow for the benefit of Washington. Europeans are aware that Russia borders on Eastern Europe, which borders on Western Europe. For Washington, fighting Russia in the Ukraine would require a huge effort with seaborne logistics and a national mobilization. Serious wars with nuclear powers do not represent the height of judgment.

Again, Washington’s military superiority means nothing.

Or consider Washington’s dispute with China in the Pacific. China cannot begin to match American naval power. It doesn’t have to. Beijing has focused on anti-ship missiles – read “carrier-killer” – such as the JD21 ballistic missile. How well it works I do not know, but the Chinese are not stupid. Is the risk of finding out worth it? Fast, stealthed, sea-skimming cruise missiles are very cheap compared to carriers, and America’s admirals know that lots of them arriving simultaneously would not have a happy ending.

Having a fleet disabled by China would be intolerable to Washington, but its possible responses would be unappealing. Would it start a conventional war with China with the ghastly global economic consequences? This would not generate allies. Cut China’s oil lanes to the Mideast and push Beijing toward nuclear war? Destroy the Three Gorges Dam and drown god knows how many people? If China used the war as a pretext for annexing bordering counties? What would Russia do?

The consequences both probable and assured make the adventure unattractive, especially since likely pretexts for a war with China – a few rocks in the Pacific, for example – are too trivial to be worth the certain costs and uncertain outcome. Again, military superiority doesn’t mean much.

We live in a military world fundamentally different from that of the last century. All-out wars between major powers, which is to say nuclear powers, are unlikely since they would last about an hour after they became all-out, and everyone knows it. In WWII Germany could convince itself, reasonably and almost correctly, that Russia would fall in a summer, or the Japanese that a Depression-ridden, unarmed America might decide not to fight. Now, no. Threaten something that a nuclear power regards as vital and you risk frying. So nobody does.
At any rate, nobody has. Fools abound in DC and New York.

What then, in today’s world, is the point of huge conventional forces?

The American military is an upgraded World War II military, designed to fight other militarizes like itself in a world like that which existed during World War II. The Soviet Union was that kind of military. Today there are no such militaries for America to fight. We are not in the same world. Washington seems not to have noticed.

A World War II military is intended to destroy point targets of high value – aircraft, ships, factories, tanks – and to capture crucial territory, such as the enemy’s country. When you have destroyed the Wehrmacht’s heavy weaponry and occupied Germany, you have won. This is the sort of war that militaries have always relished, having much sound and fury and clear goals.

It doesn’t work that way today. Since Korea, half-organized peasant militias have baffled the Pentagon by not having targets of high value or crucial territory. In Afghanistan for example goatherds with rifles could simply disperse, providing no point targets at all, and certainly not of high value. No territory was crucial to them. If the US mounted a huge operation to take Province A, the resistance could just fade into the population or move to Province B. The US would always be victorious but never win anything. Sooner or later America would go away. The world understands this.

Further, the underlying nature of conflict has changed. For most of history until the Soviet Union evaporated, empires expanded by military conquest. In today’s world, countries have not lost their imperial ambitions, but the approach is no longer military. China seems intent on bringing Eurasia under its hegemony, and advances toward doing it, but its approach is economic, not martial. The Chinese are not warm and fuzzy. They are, however, smart. It is much cheaper and safer to expand commercially than militarily, and wiser to sidestep martial confrontation – in a word, to ignore America. More correctly it is sidestepping the Pentagon.
Military and diplomatic power spring from economic power, and China is proving successful economically. Using commercial clout, she is expanding her influence, but in ways not easily bombed. She is pushing the BRICS alliance, from which the US is excluded. She is enlarging the SCO, from which America is excluded. Perhaps most importantly, she has set up the AIIB, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which does not include the US but includes Washington’s European allies. These organizations will probably trade mostly not in dollars, a serious threat to Washington’s economic hegemony.

What is the relevance of the Pentagon? How do you bomb a trade agreement?
China enjoys solvency, and hegemonizes enthusiastically with it. Thus in Pakistan it has built the Karakoram Highway from Xian Jiang to Karachi, which will increase trade between the two. It is putting in the two power reactors near Karachi. It is investing in Afghan resources, increasing trade with Iran. . When the US finally leaves, China, without firing a shot, will be predominant in the region.

What is the relevance of aircraft carriers?

Beijing is talking seriously about building more rail lines, including high-speed rail, from itself to Europe, accompanied by fiber-optic lines and so on. This is not just talk. China has the money and a very large network of high-speed rail domestically. (The US has not a single mile.) Google “China-Europe Rail lines.”
What is the Pentagon going to do? Bomb the tracks?

As trade and ease of travel from Berlin to Beijing increase, and as China prospers and wants more European goods, European businessmen will want to cuddle up to that fabulously large market – which will loosen Washington’s grip on the throat of Europe. Say it three times slowly: Eur-asia. EurasiaEurasia I promise it is what the Chinese are saying.

What is the Pentagon’s trillion-dollar military going to bomb? Europe? Railways across Kazakhstan? BMW plants?

All of which is to say that while the US military looks formidable, it isn’t particularly useful, and aids China by bankrupting the US. Repeatedly it has demonstrated that it cannot defeat campesinos armed with those most formidable weapons, the AK, the RPG, and the IED. The US does not have the land forces to fight a major or semi-major enemy. It could bomb Iran, with unpredictable consequences, but couldn’t possibly conquer it.

The wars in the Mideast illustrate the principle nicely. Iraq didn’t work. Libya didn’t work. Iran didn’t back down. ISIS and related curiosities? The Pentagon is again bombing an enemy that can’t fight back – its specialty – but that it seems unable defeat.

Wrong military, wrong enemy, wrong war, wrong world.

Read more by Fred Reed

Fred's Biography

As He Tells It

Fred, a keyboard mercenary with a disorganized past, has worked on staff for Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times.

He has been published in Playboy, Soldier of Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, Air&Space, and suchlike. He has worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and authority on mercenary soldiers. He is by all accounts as looney as a tune.

I was born in 1945 in Crumpler, West Virginia, a coal camp near Bluefield. My father was a mathematician then serving in the Pacific aboard the destroyer USS Franks, which he described as a wallowing and bovine antique with absolutely no women aboard, but the best the Navy had at the time.

Turkish Immigrant, with a previous record for assault, arrested for the shooting and murder in Washington Mall

Washington mall shooting suspect named as teenage victim's mother speaks

Police name suspect in shooting deaths of five people at Cascade Mall in Burlington as Washington resident Arcan Cetin, aged 20



Washington mall shooting suspect Arcan Cetin
Arcan Cetin has been detained over a shooting at a mall in Burlington, Washington, in which five people died. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

The suspect in a shooting at a Washington state mall that left five dead is in custody, authorities said on Saturday, as the identity of one of the victims, a teenager, emerged.

The suspect was identified as Arcan Cetin of Oak Harbor, Washington, a 20-year-old who had emigrated from Turkey.

Cetin was “kind of zombie-like” and said nothing during his arrest, said Island County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mike Hawley, who spotted him during a patrol of Oak Harbor after a tipoff. Cetin was unarmed.

He had a previous arrest for simple assault and was a legal, permanent US resident, said Lieutenant Chris Cammock of Mount Vernon police at a news conference Saturday night.

A gunman opened fire at the Cascade mall in Burlington, Washington, on Friday night, killing four females and a male before fleeing. Law enforcement staged a massive search over more than 20 hours for the suspect, initially described by witnesses as a young Hispanic male wearing black.

The Seattle Times reported that one of the victims was a 16-year-old girl, Sarai Lara.

Her mother said she had survived cancer as a young girl and was a happy student.
Evangelina Lara told the newspaper she was shopping on Friday night at the mall in Burlington with Sarai and her younger sister, but they split up. She said Sarai went to Macy’s looking for pants.

Evangelina Lara said it was confirmed at 2am on Saturday that her daughter was among the five people killed.

On Friday at the mall, the first 911 call came in just before 7 pm: a man with a rifle was shooting at people in the Macy’s department store.


Five dead in Washington state shopping centre shooting attack

When police arrived moments later, the carnage at the Macy’s makeup counter was complete. Four people were dead and the shooter was gone, last seen walking toward Interstate 5. A fifth victim, a man, died early on Saturday as police finished sweeping the building, which measures 434,000 square feet (40,300 sq meters).
Burlington’s mayor, Steve Sexton, said on Saturday: “There are people waking up this morning, and their world has changed forever. The city of Burlington has probably changed forever, but I don’t think our way of life needs to change.
“This was a senseless act. It was the world knocking on our doorstep, and it came into our little community.”

As the small city absorbed the tragic news, critical questions remained, including the identity of the shooter and his motive. The FBI said terrorism was not suspected.

Surveillance video captured the suspect entering the mall unarmed and then recorded him about 10 minutes later entering the Macy’s with a “hunting type” rifle in his hand, Mount Vernon police Lieutenant Chris Cammock said.
Authorities did not say how the suspect might have obtained the weapon – whether he retrieved it from outside or picked it up in the mall – but they believe he acted alone. The weapon was recovered at the scene.

The identities of the victims four women who ranged in age from a teenager to a senior citizen were withheld pending autopsies and notification of family. The identity of the man who was fatally shot was also withheld and may not be released until Monday.

“Probably one of the most difficult moments for us last night was knowing that there were family members wondering about their loved ones in there,” Mount Vernon police lieutenant Chris Cammock said.

Residents gathered on Saturday to comfort each other at a community gathering in a city park.

“It’s too scary. It’s too close to home,” said Maria Elena Vasquez, who attended the gathering with her husband and two young children.

Joanne Burkholder, 19, of nearby Mount Vernon, was watching the movie The Magnificent Seven in the mall’s theater when security guards came in and told them to evacuate immediately. Dozens of panicked moviegoers gathered in the hallway, and Burkholder heard screaming as the officers escorted them to safety in a parking lot.

As she drove home later, she had to pull over because she was shaking so hard, she said.

“I’m just very thankful for my life this morning. I’ve never been so terrified in my life,” she said on Saturday, trying to hold back tears as she attended the community vigil.

“You’d think it would happen in Everett or Seattle, but a small town of Burlington, I’d never dream something like this would happen.”

People who believed they may have lost loved ones were being sequestered at a church three blocks from the mall, where counselors and a golden retriever therapy dog were present.

Dozens of people attended a Saturday evening prayer service for the victims. The gathering was held at Central United Methodist church in nearby Sedro-Woolley, Washington.

The Rev. Cody Natland lit five candles on a table in front of the church, one for each victim.

The Cascade mall is an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1990. It features JC Penney, TJ Maxx, and Macy’s stores, among other shops, restaurants and a movie theater.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A remarkable meeting took place in Grozny and was ignored by almost every media in the world – Two hundred Sunni Muslim clerics excommunicating the Saudis.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia is being attacked by both Sunni and Shia leaders

What, the Saudis must be asking themselves, has happened to the fawning leaders who would normally grovel to the Kingdom?


The Saudis step deeper into trouble almost by the week. Swamped in their ridiculous war in Yemen, they are now reeling from an extraordinary statement issued by around two hundred Sunni Muslim clerics who effectively referred to the Wahhabi belief – practiced in Saudi Arabia – as “a dangerous deformation” of Sunni Islam. The prelates included Egypt’s Grand Imam, Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar, the most important centre of theological study in the Islamic world, who only a year ago attacked “corrupt interpretations” of religious texts and who has now signed up to “a return to the schools of great knowledge” outside Saudi Arabia.

This remarkable meeting took place in Grozny and was unaccountably ignored by almost every media in the world – except for the former senior associate at St Antony’s College, Sharmine Narwani, and Le Monde’s Benjamin Barthe – but it may prove to be even more dramatic than the terror of Syria’s civil war. For the statement, obviously approved by Vladimir Putin, is as close as Sunni clerics have got to excommunicating the Saudis. 

Although they did not mention the Kingdom by name, the declaration was a stunning affront to a country which spends millions of dollars every year on thousands of Wahhabi mosques, schools and clerics around the world.

Wahhabism’s most dangerous deviation, in the eyes of the Sunnis who met in Chechenya, is that it sanctions violence against non-believers, including Muslims who reject Wahhabi interpretation. Isis, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are the principal foreign adherents to this creed outside Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Saudis, needless to say, repeatedly insist that they are against all terrorism. Their reaction to the Grozny declaration has been astonishing. “The world is getting ready to burn us,” Adil Al-Kalbani announced. And as Imam of the King Khaled Bin Abdulaziz mosque in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, he should know.

As Narwani points out, the bad news kept on coming. At the start of the five-day Hajj pilgrimage, the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar published online a database which it said came from the Saudi ministry of health, claiming that up 90,000 pilgrims from around the world have died visiting the Hajj capital of Mecca over a 14-year period. Although this figure is officially denied, it is believed in Shia Muslim Iran, which has lost hundreds of its citizens on the Hajj. Among them was Ghazanfar Roknabadi, a former ambassador and intelligence officer in Lebanon. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has just launched an unprecedented attack on the Saudis, accusing them of murder. “The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers...” he said in his own Hajj message.

A Saudi official said Khameni’s accusations reflected a “new low”. Abdulmohsen Alyas, the Saudi undersecretary for international communications, said they were “unfounded, but also timed to only serve their unethical failing propaganda”.

Yet the Iranians have boycotted the Hajj this year (not surprisingly, one might add) after claiming that they have not received Saudi assurances of basic security for pilgrims. According to Khamenei, Saudi rulers “have plunged the world of Islam into civil wars”. 

However exaggerated his words, one thing is clear: for the first time, ever, the Saudis have been assaulted by both Sunni and Shia leaders at almost the same time.

The presence in Grozny of Grand Imam al-Tayeb of Egypt was particularly infuriating for the Saudis who have poured millions of dollars into the Egyptian economy since Brigadier-General-President al-Sissi staged his doleful military coup more than three years ago. 

What, the Saudis must be asking themselves, has happened to the fawning leaders who would normally grovel to the Kingdom? 

“In 2010, Saudi Arabia was crossing borders peacefully as a power-broker, working with Iran, Syria, Turkey, Qatar and others to troubleshoot in regional hotspots,” Narwani writes. “By 2016, it had buried two kings, shrugged off a measured approach to foreign policy, embraced ‘takfiri’ madness and emptied its coffers.” A “takfiri” is a Sunni who accuses another Muslim (or Christian or Jew) of apostasy.

Kuwait, Libya, Jordan and Sudan were present in Grozny, along with – you guessed it – Ahmed Hassoun, the grand mufti of Syria and a loyal Assad man. Intriguingly, Abu Dhabi played no official role, although its policy of “deradicalisation” is well known throughout the Arab world.

But there are close links between President (and dictator) Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechenya, the official host of the recent conference, and Mohamed Ben Zayed al-Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince. The conference itself was opened by Putin, which shows what he thinks of the Saudis – although, typically, none of the Sunni delegates asked him to stop bombing Syria. But since the very meeting occurred against the backcloth of Isis and its possible defeat, they wouldn’t, would they? 

That Chechenya, a country of monstrous bloodletting by Russia and its own Wahhabi rebels, should have been chosen as a venue for such a remarkable conclave was an irony which could not have been lost on the delegates. But the real questions they were discussing must have been equally apparent. 

Who are the real representatives of Sunni Muslims if the Saudis are to be shoved aside? And what is the future of Saudi Arabia? Of such questions are revolutions made.







Friday, September 23, 2016

Suspect Shot and Killed in Home Invasion Accomplices Captured on Surveillance. Know them call 404-577-8477

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An Atlanta-area woman opened fire on three armed intruders early last Friday morning who were breaking into her home.
The dramatic home invasion shootout at 4 a.m., during which the woman defended herself from the men after a very rude and scary awakening, was recorded by surveillance video (see embedded footage below) as drywall debris flew everywhere from the gunfire.
As depicted in the footage, the burglars entered the home in Gwinnett County, Georgia, with their guns drawn.
The woman came running out of her bedroom in the Atlanta suburb and fired her gun at the intruders who apparently had kicked in the front door. All three suspects fled the scene, with one shown crashing through a glass door.
The suspect wearing a wig reportedly died in the encounter from wounds to his chest and was found in the driveway. He was identified as a 28-year-old Atlanta resident. The other two men are still at large, prompting cops to release the home video footage now.
“She exercised her right to defend her livelihood and property,” observed Cpl. Deon Washington of the Gwinnett County Police Department, Atlanta’s WSB-TV detailed in the news report below. “It’s not common that we receive this caliber of surveillance video showing the crime unfold. They’re not wearing anything on their faces so we’re highly anticipating someone watching the evening newscast will recognize these people.”