Category Archives: Britain

A single European military begins with merging of German-Dutch armies & navies

Formed in 1993, the European Union (EU) is a political-economic union of 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

28 member states of European UnionUntil now, the EU has been a confederation — a union of nation-states in specific and agreed-on areas, such as defense (NATO), economic cooperation and a common currency, wherein each member state retains its sovereignty. A mark of a sovereign nation-state is its possession of an independent military.

But with the merging of the militaries of Germany and the Netherlands — in spite of disagreements among EU members on refugee-migrant policy (see, for example “Sweden slams shut its open-door policy towards refugees“), and the UK’s upcoming Brexit referendum on leaving the EU — the beginning of an EU military is taking shape.

Donna Edmunds and Raheem Kassam report for Breitbart, April 20, 2016, that the German and Dutch armies and navies are poised to “merge”, creating the nucleus of the longed-for goal of a pan-EU military force.

As German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leye said in a speech last year, “The European Army is our long-term goal, but first we have to strengthen the European Defense Union. To achieve this, some nations with concrete military cooperation must come to the fore – and the Germans and the Dutch are doing this.”

To date, the merging of the German and Dutch military consists of:

  • Last year, German command took over the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade.
  • Last month the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade was subsumed into the German 1st Armored Division.
  • The two countries are sharing the Netherland’s largest war ship, the Karel Doorman, and aim to merge its two naval powers into one unified navy within the next two years.
  • That leaves the Netherlands with just the 13th Mechanized Brigade to its name, along with special forces and military infrastructure, but the plan is to accelerate towards a merger of these entities within the next few years, Germany’s Sachsische Zeitung confirms.

That is just the beginning. According to insiders, the Czech Republic has entered talks to bring its army under German control, with the Poles also considering to be part of the plan. But there are skeptics about the latter, doubting whether the new Polish Government would go down the same route.

As Britain prepares to go to the polls on June 23 to vote on whether or not to remain within the EU, UK Independence Party (UKIP) Defense spokesman Mike Hookem MEP warns that if the UK opts to remain in the EU, the British military forces will not be able to resist the same fate: “The EU is moving towards a common defense and foreign policy regime with an EU army as the goal. While Britain remains in the EU, we cannot escape being part of this dangerous setup. The EU was supposed to be about corralling Germany military dominance in Europe. That aspiration has clearly died and just as Germany now politically dominates the EU, this latest move with the Dutch army shows that in time Germany wants to expand and control as much as it can militarily.

Hookem warns that the EU Army will not be a benign force, dedicated only to the defense of the Union, pointing out that there has already been lobbying in European circles for intervention in Libya. Indeed, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has said, “You would not create a European army to use it immediately… But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”

UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage had previously issued multiple warnings that were mostly dismissed by the British political establishment and media classes. Most notably, then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in a live debate with Farage ahead of the 2014 European Elections, called Farage’s claims a “dangerous fantasy,” and that “The idea there’s going to be a European army, a European air force, it is simply not true”.

In September last year the Telegraph reported that German chancellor Angela Merkel expected British PM David Cameron to “drop his opposition to an EU army in exchange for supporting Britain’s [EU] renegotiation”. Cameron did drop his opposition, in exchange for a widely mocked “renegotiation” deal with the European Union.

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Military-aviation website forecasts economic collapse & massive depopulation for U.S. by 2025

Deagel.com, a military equipment and civil aviation guide website, is causing a buzz on the Internet for its dire forecast that in a mere 10 years, by the year 2025, the United States would be unrecognizable, a shadow of its former self. Specifically, the U.S.’s:

  • Population will be reduced by 254 million (or 78%), plummeting from today’s 318,890,000 to 64,879,100.
  • GDP will be reduced by $16.54 trillion, plummeting from today’s $17.42 trillion to $881.804 billion.
  • Power purchase parity will be reduced by $45,739, plummeting from today’s $54,800 to $9,061.

What is Deagle.com? Wikipedia does not have an entry on Deagle.com. This is what the precious metals website Silver Doctors says about Deagle.com:

Deagel.com is a military equipment and civil aviation guide website. I have spent time trying to figure out who is behind iit and whether or not it is legitimate – and what the purpose of it is. Certainly it seems legitimate as a catalog of military equipment, the corporations which manufacture the equipment and the Government organizations involved with anything related to the military.

Here’s a screenshot of Deagle.com’s home page (click to enlarge):

Deagle.com1

In a statement about its forecast, Deagle.com claims that:

  • Its forecasts employ mainly data from two sources:
    • Institutions such as the CIA, IMF, UN, and USG (U.S. government).
    • “Shadow sources such as Internet gurus, unsigned reports and others.”
  • Governments lie. Like the economic lies that communist regimes told their people and the world, present-day governments of seemingly-affluent countries like the United States also generate fake statistics about their economies.
  • The implosion of the U.S. will be triggered by a financial and economic collapse.
  • That, in turn, will result in a massive loss of population from deaths and out-migration.

Here’s Deagle.com’s statement in its entirety:

There have been many questions about the countries forecast specially the one focusing on the United States of America (USA). They won’t be answered one by one but below you can find some explanation, thoughts and reflections. We are going to keep this as short as possible. The majority of the economic and demographic data used in the making of the forecasts is widely available by institutions such as the CIA, IMF, UN, USG, etc. You can see the most relevant data at every single country’s page. There is a tiny part of data coming from a variety of shadow sources such as Internet gurus, unsigned reports and others. But all these sources are from the internet and are of public domain for at least a minority. For example, several years ago Dagong, the Chinese ratings agency, published a report analyzing the physical economy of the States comparing it with those of China, Germany and Japan. The conclusion was that the US GDP was something between $5 to $10 trillion instead of $15 trillion as officially reported by the USG. We assume that the official data, especially economic, released by governments is fake, cooked or distorted in some degree. Historically it is well known that the former Soviet Union was making up fake statistics years before its collapse. Western as well as other countries are making up their numbers today to conceal their real state of affairs. We are sure that many people out there can find government statistics in their own countries that by their own personal experience are hard to believe or are so optimistic that may belong to a different country. Despite the numeric data “quantity” there is a “quality” model which has not a direct translation into numeric data. The 2014 strain of Ebola has a death rate of 50-60% but try to imagine what would happen if there is a pandemic of Ebola with hundreds of thousands or millions infected with the virus. So far the few cases of Ebola-infected people have “enjoyed” intensive healthcare with anti-viral and breathing assistance but above all with abundant human support by Physicians and nurses. In a pandemic scenario that kind of healthcare won’t be available for the overwhelming number of infected leading to a dramatic increase of the death rate due to the lack of proper healthcare. The “quality” factor is that the death rate could increase to 80-90% in a pandemic scenario from the stated 50-60% rate. The figure itself is not important what is relevant is the fact that the scenario can evolve beyond the initial conditions from a 50% death toll to more than 90%. By the way, no pandemic or nuclear war is included in the forecast. The key element to understand the process that the USA will enter in the upcoming decade is migration. In the past, specially in the 20th century, the key factor that allowed the USA to rise to its colossus status was immigration with the benefits of a demographic expansion supporting the credit expansion and the brain drain from the rest of the world benefiting the States. The collapse of the Western financial system will wipe out the standard of living of its population while ending ponzi schemes such as the stock exchange and the pension funds. The population will be hit so badly by a full array of bubbles and ponzi schemes that the migration engine will start to work in reverse accelerating itself due to ripple effects thus leading to the demise of the States. This unseen situation for the States will develop itself in a cascade pattern with unprecedented and devastating effects for the economy. Jobs offshoring will surely end with many American Corporations relocating overseas thus becoming foreign Corporations!!!! We see a significant part of the American population migrating to Latin America and Asia while migration to Europe – suffering a similar illness – won’t be relevant. Nevertheless the death toll will be horrible. Take into account that the Soviet Union’s population was poorer than the Americans nowadays or even then. The ex-Soviets suffered during the following struggle in the 1990s with a significant death toll and the loss of national pride. Might we say “Twice the pride, double the fall”? Nope. The American standard of living is one of the highest, far more than double of the Soviets while having added a services economy that will be gone along with the financial system. When pensioners see their retirement disappear in front of their eyes and there are no servicing jobs you can imagine what is going to happen next. At least younger people can migrate. Never in human history were so many elders among the population. In past centuries people were lucky to get to their 30s or 40s. The American downfall is set to be far worse than the Soviet Union’s one. A confluence of crisis with a devastating result. The Demographic crisis in the former Soviet Union countries has extended for over two decades, if we accept that it ended early in this decade (2010s). The demographic crisis will hit the World in the near future and is projected to last between three and eight decades more or less depending on technological breakthrough and environmental issues. The aftermath is more likely a frozen picture with the population numbers staying the same for a very, very long period of time. The countries forecast population numbers do reflect birth/deaths but also migratory movements. Many countries are going to increase their gross population due to immigration while their native population may shrink. Over the past two thousand years we have witnessed the Western civilization built around the Mediterranean Sea shifting to Northern Europe and then by the mid 20th century shifting to an Atlantic axis to finally get centered into the States in the past 30 years. The next move will see the civilization being centered in Asia with Russia and China on top. Historically a change in the economic paradigm has resulted in a death toll that is rarely highlighted by mainstream historians. When the transition from rural areas to large cities happened in Europe many people unable to accept the new paradigm killed themselves. They killed themselves by a psychological factor. This is not mainstream but it is true. A new crisis joins old, well known patterns with new ones. Sorry to disappoint many of you with our forecast. It is getting worse and worse every year since the beginning of the pre-crisis in 2007. It is already said that this website is non-profit, built on spare time and we provide our information and services AS IS without further explanations and/or guarantees. We are not linked to any government in any way, shape or form. We are not a death or satanic cult or arms dealers as some BS is floating around the internet on this topic. Take into account that the forecast is nothing more than a model whether flawed or correct. It is not God’s word or a magic device that allows to foresee the future. Sunday, October 26th, 2014

The United States isn’t the only country for which Deagle.com has a dire forecast. Here are some other countries that will experience drastic population losses:

  1. United Kingdom: From 63,740,000 to 22,570,600
  2. Germany: From 80,990,000 to 48,123,620.
  3. Italy: 61,680,000 to 45,526,880.
  4. France: 66,260,000 to 43,548,080.
  5. Ireland: 4,830,000 to 1,506,920.
  6. Greece: 10,770,000 to 3,295,240
  7. Netherlands: 16,880,000 to 10,483,760
  8. Spain: 47,740,000 to 25,745,560
  9. Poland: 38,350,000 to 35,329,520
  10. Israel: 7,820,000 to 2,856,300
  11. Russia: 142,470,000 to 136,979,080
  12. Canada: 34,830,000 to 24,594,680
  13. Japan: 127,100,000 to 46,640,420.
  14. Taiwan: 23,360,000 to 15,431,900
  15. Australia: 22,510,000 to 8,882,220
  16. New Zealand: 4,400,000 to 3,398,200

Countries that will increase in population include:

  1. China: 1,350,000,000 to 1,360,720,000
  2. India: 1,240,000,000 to 1,357,200,000
  3. Indonesia: 253,610,000 to 269,846,400
  4. Pakistan: 196,170,000 to 222,018,120
  5. Brazil: 202,660,000 to 217,859,380
  6. Argentina: 43,020,000 to 44,104,700
  7. Colombia: 46,240,000 to 49,759,520
  8. Iran: 80,840,000 to 83,357,560

To see Deagle.com’s 2025 forecasts for all 182 countries, go here. Silver Doctors writes: “I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not this is a legitimate forecast from a legitimate organization. […] But, having said that, I have 100% conviction that the U.S. is heading toward a devastating financial and economic collapse that will trigger massive social upheaval and civil unrest. What just happened in Baltimore is small taste of what that will look like.”

UPDATE (May 8, 2015):

Here are my critique and analysis:

  1. Deagle.com’s flawed data: The website itself admits that governments, including the U.S. government, lie about their economic statistics. And yet Deagle.com says “most” of its data come from public information sources that include USG and other governments.
  2. Deagle.com’s faux numerical precision: Despite its flawed data, the website manages to make forecasts 10 years into the future with numerical precision of specific population numbers and GDPs in exact dollar amounts.
  3. There does not appear to be a discernible logic for the order of countries in Deagle.com’s list of 182 countries in 2025. The countries are arranged neither alphabetically, nor geographically (by region or continent), nor by their fortunes (decline or improvement), nor by the severity of their projected decline.
  4. If one assumes that the economic collapse of the U.S. dollar and of the U.S. economy would be the trigger event, that could explain why other western countries (Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and Japan would also decline. But why would China, whose economy is so dependent on the U.S. market for its exports, be exempt from the predicted precipitous decline, but instead is predicted to have a population increase of 10.72 million and only a slight $466 decrease in its PPP (from $12,900 to $12,566? That makes no sense.
  5. Making even less sense is that present-day 4th-world countries like Burkina Faso in Africa is projected to increase its population from 18,360,000 to 18,402,380, and its PPP from $1,700 to $1,841.

~StMA

U.S. State Dept memo on bringing foreign Ebola patients to America

Barack Ebola logoTwo weeks ago, on October 17, 2014, Judicial Watch, the non-partisan D.C.-based citizens watchdog group, claimed that the Obama administration is actively formulating plans to admit Ebola-infected non-U.S. citizens into the United States for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

Doing so would require special waivers of laws and regulations that currently ban the admission of non-citizens with a communicable disease as dangerous as Ebola.

Judicial Watch’s source said the Obama administration is keeping from Congress this illegal plan that endangers the public health and welfare of Americans.

Now, the watchdog group’s initial report is confirmed to be true.

From Judicial Watch, Oct. 29, 2014:

This several media outlets have confirmed JW’s story, attributing the information to an unclassified State Department report. It spells out a plan to rush foreigners into the U.S. for Ebola treatment […] It would cost $300,000 to treat each patient and another $200,000 for transportation, the State Department memo shows. […]

In the aftermath of the document’s leak, senior administration officials have anonymously come forth to say there are “absolutely no plans” to transport foreign Ebola patients to be treated in the U.S. What should Americans believe?

Judicial Watch will continue covering and investigating this scandal and has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Defense(DOD) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Specifically, JW is demanding that the DOD reveal its plans for evacuation of American personnel in Africa and OSHA’s plans for response to the Ebola outbreak as well as expressions of concern by agency personnel relating to the deadly virus. Additionally, JW is seeking information about the cryptic carrier Phoenix Air, which has been transporting Ebola-infected patients and has significant Pentagon contracts.

The Washington Times claims to have a copy of the State Department memo, but published only select sentences and paragraphs from the memo. Leave it to a UK newspaper, The Daily Mail, to publish the actual memo in its entirety.

Below are screenshots I took of the 4-page memo, “Admitting Non-U.S. Citizens to the United States for Treatment of Ebola Virus Disease.” An easier-to-read text version of the memo follows the screenshots. (You can also read the memo for yourself on Scribd or from CODA’s media library.)

Click page to enlarge

Ebola memo1Ebola memo2Ebola memo3Ebola memo4The memo on Scribd does not enable copying so that I can then paste the memo into this post. In the interest of public service, I copied the memo by typing each word, sentence, paragraph, and punctuation mark into the copy-enabled text below. Words in bold are from the memo; I supplied the red color to emphasize important sections.

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED – PREDESICIONAL

Admitting Non-U.S. Citizens to the United States for Treatment of Ebola Virus Disease

Purpose: Come to an agreed State Department position on the extent to which non-U.S. citizens will come to the United States for treatment of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). A cleared paper is urgently needed for circulation to the interagency and NSC for a policy decision.

Recommendation: The State and DHS devise a system for expeditious parole of Ebola-infected non-citizens into the United States as long as they are otherwise eligible for medical evacuation from the Ebola affected countries and for entry into the United States.

Issue: The United States needs to show leadership and act as we are asking others to act by admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis. The greatest stated impediment to persuading other countries to send medical teams to the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa has been the lack of assured medical evacuation and treatment for responders who may be infected with Ebola virus.

State Department contracted evacuation capacity has so far been sufficient to evacuate all Americans and several other international responders with EVD. (Spain, the UK, and Italy have each evacuated one or two of their own citizens.) Of those evacuated, all American citizens have come to the United States for treatment; all others have gone to Europe, where Germany is so far the only country to accept non-citizens with EVD for treatment. Several countries are implicitly or explicitly waiting for medevac assurances for their responders before committing to send medical teams; assurances are also essential to encouraging individuals to volunteer. (The scope of who is eligible for medical evacuation is the subject of another paper.)

There are four essential elements to every medical evacuation:

  1. Medical evacuation capacity;
  2. Overflight, refueling, and landing permission;
  3. A hospital able and willing to treat the patient; and
  4. Funds to backstop reimbursement, about $200,000 for medevac and $300,000 for treatment per case.

What is at issue here is point 3. As noted, Germany is so far the only country to accept non-citizens for Ebola treatment; Norway has offered to accept EU citizens in addition to its own. We will be working with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (EC ECHO) and with individual countries to impress on them the necessity of opening treatment beds to non-citizens in order to enable and sustain a robust Ebola response. Since it is several hours closer to West Africa by air, Europe is also a preferable treatment destination for medical reasons. We are exploring other destinations as well, and establishment of the Monrovia Medical Unit by the United States and the Kerry Town, Sierra Leone facility by the UK should reduce the need for medevac as they begin to prove themselves effective treatment centers.

There will also be cases where the United States will be the logical treatment destination for non-citizens. For example, we have an obligation to assist non-citizen employees and contractors of U.S. agencies and programs, as well as NGOs and private firms based in the United States. Non-European Ebola response partners (e.g., Australia) consider the U.S. a better destination as well. UN staff permanently employed at headquarters in New York are another category to consider. U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs) would also expect to come back to the United States. If, as expected, the United States deploys aircraft capable of evacuating more than one patient in the near future, there are likely to be occasions where one patient on a flight is a U.S. citizen and another is not.

U.S. Medevac Capacity: The U.S. Department of State has a contract with a commercial aviation company, Phoenix Aviation, which has the capability to safely transport patients with contagious disease using a specialized aeromedical biocontainment system.  A mechanism has been established for the U.S. government to provide reimbursable medical evacuation services to support countries and International Organizations in their efforts to address the Ebola crisis. Because of the specialized air transport and medical precautions required for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) the Department of State is assisting with evacuations of U.S. citizens infected with Ebola virus from West Africa whenever possible. State has assisted with medevac of several citizens with EVD back to medical facilities in the United States, in keeping with the U.S. government’s longstanding role of facilitating emergency medical care for U.S. citizens through the State Department, including bringing them home to receive potentially life-saving treatment for serious illness.

The U. S. government is also working with organizations like the UN Office of Ebola Special Envoy David Nabarro, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission, as well as with several countries, on medevac options for Ebola victims. In addition to U.S. citizens, we have assisted with the medevacs of four health care workers out of West Africa with confirmed Ebola cases who are citizens of other countries — three were evacuated to Germany and one to France. Any costs associated with evacuations are the responsibility of the patient or their parent organization. They are not funded by U.S. taxpayers — although the financial guarantees required of U.S. citizens are somewhat less stringent than those for non-citizens.

So far all of the Ebola medevacs brought back to U.S. hospitals have been U.S. citizens. But there are many non-citizens working for U.S. government agencies and organizations in the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa. These may be local employees of U.S. Embassies or third country national health care workers who are working for agencies like CDC and USAID. These workers are playing a critical role in the battle against the Ebola outbreak. Many of them are citizens of countries lacking adequate medical care, and if they contract Ebola in the course of their work they would need to be evacuated to medical facilities in the United States or Europe. Thus far Germany is the only country that has accepted citizens of other countries for treatment of EVD in their hospitals.

U.S. Treatment Capacity: Many hospitals in the United States have the technical ability to treat Ebola patients. However, experience with Ebola cases would minimize the risk to health care workers, and the medical community should consider how best to distribute patients. In addition to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which have both accepted patients, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center has expressed willingness to do so.

Legal Authorities and Implementation Requirements: State L notes that the legal and procedural constraints outlined below do not determine the policy outcome. If the U.S. government decides to restrict entry to the United States for non-U.S. citizen Ebola patients, it cannot attribute the outcome to legal and technical issues. At the same time, the mechanism for admission for non-U.S. citizen is not the usual visa process, and normally takes much longer than the time available to an infected Ebola patient, so setting up a mechanism that is ready to move would be essential.

To optimize clinical outcomes and give patients their best possible chance of recovery, air medical transportation of EVD victims should occur in the first five days of illness, with proportionately greater benefit the sooner it can be accomplished. Operationally that requires an almost immediate request for medevac and approval for travel to the United States, as the medevac process itself is a two-day journey. This presents a challenge, since under INA § 212(a)(1)(A)(i), (implemented by 42 C.F.R. § 34.2(b) and Executive Order No. 13295, as amended) Ebola Virus Disease is a communicable disease of public health significance and grounds for visa ineligibility. In order to permit the travel of such an individual, either an INA § 212(d)(3)(A) waiver of ineligibility or prior approval of parole pursuant to INA § 212(d)(5)(A) would be required from the Department of Homeland Security. (Note: legal permanent residents of the United States would not normally be ineligible to enter because they have an infectious disease, and counter enter on their “green cards” in most cases.)

Given the length of time necessary to obtain a waiver of ineligibility, or individual parole, as well as potential difficulties in securing the travel document for an infected individual, issuance of a properly annotated visa/boarding foil pursuant to a waiver request or parole is not a likely option. The Visa Office recommends the development and implementation of a mechanism similar to the one used for the African Leaders Summit (when technical issues precluded the issuance of visas), under which State worked with DHS to arrange expeditious port-of-entry waivers in advance of travel.

A pre-established framework would be essential to guarantee that only authorized individuals would be considered for travel authorization and that all necessary vetting would occur. The precise language and structure would be jointly developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

~End of memo~

~StMA

Obama’s ISIL strategy reexamined: air strikes ineffective; weak coalition

One month 4 days after President Obama’s grand announcement of a U.S.-led coalition to combat ISIL/ISIS or Islamic State (IS) “terrorists” (Obama says they’re neither Islamic nor jihadist!), as predicted by analysts, including members of this Consortium (their comments below are colored green), the “counterterrorism” strategy is failing.

Air Strikes

“Every analyst recognizes that attacks from the air may degrade (to a certain extent) the enemy, but not destroy him.” –A. James Gregor

“Well, airstrikes usually don’t amount to much. In the classic reason: You fly in and drop bombs, your aircraft run low on fuel and leave, and the locals declare victory and display pieces of a plane they shot down there because they’re still alive and in charge. Unless some key thing of the enemy’s got specifically attacked and destroyed in the raid, it doesn’t accomplish much….  Unless we concentrate force from the air upon ISIS in order to get them to do something particular (unlikely, since we’d have to kill a lot of them and in a manner not rewarded in the afterlife to reduce their will to fight) somebody will have to go in there and make them stop. Probably our guys, too.” –Anonymous

“Air strikes are useful, indeed essential, but they are only the first step in attacking ISIL…. Air strikes can disrupt communications, slow down movement, destroy supplies and logistical support assets and blunt enemy attacks. They will make the enemy slower to react, weaker at the attack point and less flexible in operations. All of these are desirable, but they cannot retake lost ground or destroy the will of the enemy. Only ground troops can do that.” –rthurs

Islamic State advancesClick map to enlarge

From the Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12 ,2014:

Islamic State militants have gained territory in Iraq and Syria despite weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, raising questions about the coalition’s strategy of trying to blunt the jihadists’ advance while local forces are being trained to meet the threat on the ground.

In Syria, fighters from Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have taken large sections of the city of Kobani in recent days, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the defense minister of the city’s Kurdish administration. “Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control,” he said. “The situation is getting worse.

This comes despite a week of heavy airstrikes around the city to help local Syrian Kurdish fighters keep Islamic State forces from the city center.

In Iraq, militant forces operating in a swath of territory the size of California have extended their control of the roads and commercial routes in strategically vital Anbar Province, which connects the capital Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.

Anbar, which has critical infrastructure and whose eastern edge lies only about 25 miles from Baghdad’s center, is also in danger of falling wholly under Islamic State control despite weeks of U.S. strikes aimed at weakening the group, local officials say. […]

Neither of the allied forces the U.S. had been counting on for help in the near term—the Iraqi army in the south or Turkish forces in the north—have been of much help, officials say. Iraq’s army has often proven unable to stop Islamic State forces, and Turkey hasn’t engaged in the fight despite its professed desire to halt the jihadists.

Which brings us to . . . .

A Coalition of the Unwilling

“In effect, there is no ‘broad coalition’ anywhere ready to support the ‘new’ strategy….” –A. James Gregor

“Turkey has a formidable army and can be decisive in Syria, but it lacks the political will to do so. Arab countries have some good troops, but lack the logistical base to project power into Syria and Iraq. And most of them are Sunni-dominated and are reluctant to fight other Sunnis.” –rthurs

“It is evident why most of the Arab nations make only modest and hesitant contribution to the “coalition against the network of death.” They have no assurance that the United States will stay the course…. The coalition cobbled together by the President is composed of participants (apparently now including Britain and France) prepared to lend a few aircraft to the bombing missions intended to ‘degrade’ ISIL forces, but there is no rush to supply ground troops essential to the ultimate defeat of the ‘radicals.’ ” –A. James Gregor

Immediately after Obama’s ISIL speech, Arab countries allied with the United States issued a joint communiqué supporting the U.S. strategy and vowed to “do their share” to fight the IS.

That was all lip service.

A day after Obama’s ISIL speech, Mark Sappenfield reported for the Christian Science Monitor that the speech “has been met with only slightly more than a shrug” among Arab countries — not so much because they are ambivalent about IS, but because “intersecting allegiances and strategic aims mean some Arab countries feel they must tread cautiously.”

Turkey: As a neighbor of both Syria and Iraq, Turkey would seem to have the greatest interest in stemming the influence of the Islamic State. But doing so might endanger Turkish national unity by empowering the Kurds, who are angling for an independent state of their own.

Other Arab states: Similar concerns weigh against strong support for the US in Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Defeating the Islamic State could give Iran, the region’s leading Shiite power — more scope to exert its authority.

Syria: Ironically, the Arab government most eager to join a coalition against IS was that of Syria, which Obama had already ruled out as a partner for what he described as terrorizing its citizens. (See Pulitzer-award journalist says Obama admin made up intelligence for war on Syria.) When the country most eager to help you is the one you have sworn to overthrow, that is not a good sign.

Gopal Ratnam and John Hudson write in Foreign Policy, Oct. 13, 2014:

Obama administration insists that it has a large and growing coalition of nations arrayed to fight the Islamic State . . . [but] the alliance may be far less robust than Washington says.

The latest row concerns the key question of whether Turkey, which hosts a sprawling American air base, will let U.S. warcraft fly from it into Iraq and Syria to batter the militant group. U.S. officials said Sunday that Ankara had given the green light. Less than a day later, Turkish officials categorically denied that they’d agreed to allow their bases to be used against the terror group.

[…] Incirlik Air Base, located about 50 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea in southern Turkey, is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing and about 1,500 American military personnel and is key to protecting NATO’s southern flank.

[…] Washington may be consistently misreading its partners and overestimating just how committed they are to the fight. [,,,]Ankara wasn’t the only capital to experience a fit of stage fright after its potential involvement in the anti-ISIS coalition went public.

In September, when Foreign Policy reported details of a secret offer by the nation of Georgia to host a training camp for anti-ISIS fighters, the story prompted a strong public backlash in Tbilisi due to security concerns for the tiny Caucasian nation of 4.5 million. Within 24 hours, Georgian officials denied having made any such offer.

“I categorically rule out any military participation or training base in Georgia,” Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said.

Last month, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said his government opposed terrorism, but expressed annoyance that his country was included in the U.S. government’s official list of anti-ISIS partners without being informed.

[…] Administration officials have said that at least 60 countries are part of the anti-ISIS coalition, but the vast majority aren’t contributing militarily.

In other cases, the United States has boasted about allied commitments of ground troops to fight ISIS, but the offers never materialized.

“We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance,” Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS last month. He insisted that the United States would not send ground forces but that other countries “have offered to do so.” However, none of the Arab coalition partners, the nations most likely to provide ground troops, have yet to make such commitments in public. (In September, the Times of London reported that Jordan offered to send its Western-trained special forces to combat ISIS in Syria, but the Arab monarchy has yet to confirm the offer.)

The United States has also struggled to explain its relationship with another key player, Iran. The majority-Shiite country has a vested interest in eradicating ISIS from the region but Washington insists it is not coordinating directly with Tehran, though some discussions on the topic have clearly taken place.

“We’re not in coordination or direct consultation with the Iranians about any aspects of the fight against ISIL,” White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Meet the Press on Sunday, using another name for the militant group. When pressed, she noted that “we’ve had some informal consultations” with Iran about regional issues on the sidelines of the ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna, but did not elaborate. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, by contrast, said Sunday that the two countries had exchanged messages regarding the fight against ISIS. Outside of Syria, hundreds of Iranian troops have crossed into Iraq to fight against ISIS forces.

[…] During his visit to Colombia on Oct. 10, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters that the United States would like to get access to Incirlik as a base from which to launch strikes against Islamic militants, according to the Associated Press.

[…] Turkey wants the United States to get involved but differs on the goals…. Turkey wants the coalition to focus on removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while President Barack Obama wants to keep the focus on the Islamic State and preventing the fall of Baghdad….

[…] The Obama administration’s criteria about what it takes to be considered a member of the anti-ISIS coalition requires little effort on the part of coalition members.

Kerry and Hagel have listed five lines of effort against the terror group: providing military support to the coalition; impeding the flow of foreign fighters; stopping the group’s financing; addressing the humanitarian crisis in the region; and exposing ISIS’s “true nature.”

Given the limited effort it takes to release a statement in opposition to the terror group’s ideology, which technically would merit inclusion in the coalition, it’s little wonder that the United States was able to boast a list of 60 nations. Still, such rosters do little to indicate the depth of commitment any one nation may be offering. Slovakia, for instance, said it won’t send soldiers to the effort, but that it would contribute $25,000 to the International Organization for Migration in northern Iraq — not exactly a game-changing move, but sufficient to merit inclusion on the list.

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~StMA

Russia had promised to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in the Budapest Memorandum

Crimea crisisAs of this morning, March 3, 2014, reportedly 20,000 Russian troops have occupied Crimea, all with unmarked insignia.

The Budapest Memorandum And Its Relevance To Crimea

February 28, 2014
by Ron Synovitz, for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

With tensions rising in Crimea and pro-Russian forces controlling the peninsula’s main airports, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on Russia to ‘not violate the Budapest Memorandum.’ So what is the ‘Budapest Memorandum’ and what does it have to do with Crimea?

What exactly is the ‘Budapest Memorandum’?

The ‘Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances’ is a diplomatic memorandum that was signed in December 1994 by Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document under which signatories made promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine kept these promises.

In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state. They did so by applying the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention in 1975 Helsinki Final Act — a Cold War-era treaty signed by 35 states including the Soviet Union — to an independent post-Soviet Ukraine.

Which principles in the Helsinki Final Act, reiterated in the ‘Budapest Memorandum,’ are relevant to the current situation in the Crimea?

In the ‘Budapest Memorandum,’ Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised that none of them would ever threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. They also pledged that none of them would ever use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest.

They specifically pledged they would refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or engage in other uses of force in violation of international law.

All sides agreed that no such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal and that the signatories would ‘consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.’

Is there anything legally binding about the ‘Budapest Memorandum’ regarding Russia’s obligations to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity?

‘That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,’ says Barry Kellman is a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law.

‘The ‘Budapest Memorandum’ follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don’t interfere.’

Kellman concludes that there are a host of other sources of international law that oblige Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity — including the provisions of the CSCE treaty and the UN Charter.

Cash-hungry governments across the world seize inactive bank accounts

dormant bank accounts

JAPAN

Julian Ryall reports for the South China Morning Post, Jan. 21, 2014, that the Japanese government, saddled with a public debt that is running at 214% of GDP, is planning to raid dormant private bank accounts to boost its bottom line.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its main ally in government, New Komeito, are planning to submit a bill to allow the government to access bank accounts that have not been touched for 10 years or more. The funds, expected to be about 50 billion yen ($488.65 million) each year, would be transferred to the government-run Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan and used for welfare and education projects.

Ryall says “The bill is likely to sail through the legislative process with the backing of the opposition as a similar suggestion was put forward by the equally desperate Democratic Party of Japan when it was in power.”

Australia

News.com.au reports, Feb. 26, 2013, that Australian households face losing up to $109 million from their family savings as the Federal government moves to seize cash from inactive bank accounts.

Legislation was rushed through parliament authorizing the government, beginning May 31, 2013, to transfer all money from accounts that have not been used for three years into the government’s own revenues. Previously, the rule was seven years.

This means that accounts with anything from $1 upwards that have not had any deposit or withdrawals in the past three years will be transferred to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. The law is forecast to raise $109 million in 2013 as inactive accounts for three years or more are raided by Treasury.

Elysse Morgan reports for ABCNews that the banking industry believes the Government’s changes to inactive bank accounts legislation is just revenue raising. Australian Bankers Association chief executive Steven Munchenburg says many accounts will be affected: “If you’ve put some money away to save for the future and you’re not adding any more deposits to that, and if you’ve got trust accounts where money is being held for some reason in the future, if you’ve got bond money for example where you’re a landlord and the tenant’s bond money is sitting in an account for more than three years, any of those sorts of those accounts, and the banks are obliged to move the money to the Government.”

Money seized by the government can be reclaimed through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

By August 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian government has collected more than $400 million in unclaimed money from inactive bank accounts in 2013. $85 million is money owned by account holders living or working overseas.

United Kingdom

Gary Parkinson reports for The Independent that as early as in December 2005, then-Chancellor Gordon Brown ruled that cash in accounts untouched for at least 15 years could no longer be left in the hands of the banks. Hundreds of millions of pounds are to be withdrawn from dormant bank accounts and returned to their rightful owners or given to worthy causes in deprived areas. 

But, as reported by Mark King for The Guardian, Brown was forced to back down after critics warned there would be administrative chaos and questioned whether the government had the legal right to seize the funds. Brown raised the idea again in 2007 and in 2008 the Dormant Bank and Building Society Act was passed, giving the government the right to collect and distribute unclaimed money from dormant accounts after 15 years. However, the Act does allow for owners of seized accounts to reclaim their money.

Robert Hutton reports for Bloomberg, July 19, 2010, that the British Bankers’ Association, a lobby group, estimates that about 400 million pounds ($610 million) was unclaimed in bank accounts. The government will set up a fund to be administered by Co-operative Financial Services that will hand over money to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Big Society Bank by the end of this year to fund “community projects.”

United States of America

Robert Morello writes for The Nest that each state has its own set of rules regarding the seizure of dormant funds from banks and financial institutions. If a bank has tried and failed to contact an account-holder over the required period of time due to her relocation, death or other circumstance, the bank must then turn over the funds to the state government, where it will enter the treasury. The state can then legally use the money as part of the annual budget, but must be returned to the rightful owner if she puts in a claim for it. A final standard warning is issued to the customer one month prior to the state seizure. If no response is received by the deadline, the funds are taken. The same laws apply to safe deposit boxes, stocks, rent deposits, insurance claims, uncashed checks and even retail gift cards.

To locate any funds that may have been seized due to extended dormancy, visit the website of your local state comptroller. Many states have online search options that require only your first and last name to discover what monies you may have neglected to collect over the years. Some states prefer to let an outside agency handle the details, but in either case you will be directed to the right place for performing a search. Once you’ve found unclaimed assets that belong to you, a claim can be made electronically or by mail.

The amount of time that makes an account “dormant” varies from state to state. But in the state of Georgia, for example, demand deposit accounts are deemed to be dormant after only 12 months without activity!

U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Locklear says China is eclipsing U.S. in Asia

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon taunts the Obama administration, saying the only way Israel could be “saved” is if Secretary of State John Kerry would just “leave us alone.”

Britain’s senior military advisor Sir Hew Strachan dismisses Obama as a know-nothing (“Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world”) who has “undermined America’s military reputation and destabilized the Middle East.” (See my post of yesterday, “Foreign leaders openly scorn US President Obama.“)

Now none other than the chief of the U. S. Pacific Command is confirming the decline of U.S. power in the Asia-Pacific region, a superiority that increasingly is eclipsed by a rising China.

Adm Samuel Locklear IIIU.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear III

Guy Taylor and Rowan Scarborough report for the Washington Times that three years after the Obama administration’s ballyhooed military “pivot” to Asia (and concomitant de-emphasis on Europe), the top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, says that U.S. dominance in Asia has weakened in the shadow of a more aggressive China.

At the annual Surface Navy Association conference in Virginia on Jan. 15, 2014, Adm. Locklear said, “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question.”

While it is obvious that Chinese military power is growing, Locklear maintains it is unclear whether China will seek to be a hard adversary to the U.S. in the long term. He recommends Washington should be working overtime on steering Beijing toward a cooperative security posture. “China is going to rise, we all know that. [But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

His remarks offered insight into the introspection at the Pentagon’s highest levels about how the U.S. should tailor its military presence in the region, where Beijing and Moscow — regional powerhouses and former Cold War adversaries to Washington — are keen to challenge U.S. dominance.

That Locklear thinks the U.S. could mold Beijing to be a “cooperative” partner stuns Heritage Foundation analyst Dean Cheng. Cheng observes, “The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security? The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods. But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself. This is the kind of bizarre lens that led one of Adm. Locklear’s predecessors to offer to help China with its carrier development.”

Meanwhile the Chinese are crowing.

Global Times, China’s official English-language newspaper, trumpeted Adm. Locklear’s remarks in a story beneath the headline “U.S. losing grip on Pacific: PACOM.”

In the Global Times story, Jin Canrong, a deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said Adm. Locklear’s comments are a recognition of China as a rising military power, but that “some people, who sit in their offices in Washington, tend to hold a more hard-line position toward China.”

China has focused its attention and actions almost exclusively on its naval and air power over waterways in its immediate vicinity.

Much of Beijing’s posturing has been within the context of territorial disputes with longtime U.S. ally Japan and smaller Pacific nations over patches of islands in the South and East China seas.

Read the rest of the Washington Times article here.

An Obama appointee, Locklear became Commander of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) on 9 March 2012. Based in Honolulu, USPACOM is the oldest and largest of the armed forces’ Unified Combatant Commands.

For the record, this is the same Admiral Samuel Locklear III who, in an interview with the Boston Globe in March 2013 and despite the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern (a “hiatus” in rising temperatures) for the past 20 years, said that the greatest threat to the Pacific region is not China or North Korea, but “climate change.”

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