Russia threatens military response to US missile defence deal

Russia threatened to retaliate by military means after a deal with the Czech Republic brought the US missile defence system in Europe a step closer.

The threat followed quickly on from the announcement that Condoleezza Rice signed a formal agreement with the Czech Republic to host the radar for the controversial project.

Moscow argues that the missile shield would severely undermine the balance of European security and regards the proposed missile shield based in two former Communist countries as a hostile move.

“We will be forced to react not with diplomatic, but with military-technical methods,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not detail what its response might entail.

Read moreRussia threatens military response to US missile defence deal

McCain wants much larger U.S. military

Of course John McCain wants more military, it’s the only thing he knows about. – The Infinite Unknown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain wants the U.S. military to be much larger than current expansion plans envision, an adviser to the Arizona senator said this week.

The Bush administration has begun expanding the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to create a combined strength of around 750,000 active duty troops — a process backed by McCain’s Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

But McCain believes an Army and Marine Corps with a combined strength of up to 900,000 troops is necessary, said Randy Scheunemann, an adviser to the candidate on foreign policy and national security.

“Sen. McCain feels the proposed increases are not sufficient. They need to be more, to fully address the challenges we face in the 21st century,” Scheunemann told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The U.S. Army and Marines have been severely strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many troops have served multiple tours in the war zones and currently spend only 12 months at home before they deploy again for another year.

As a member of the U.S. Senate’s armed services committee, McCain has built a reputation for scrutinizing the costs of big weapons programs and he has pledged to pursue that approach in the White House if he wins November’s election.

Read moreMcCain wants much larger U.S. military

NATO, US forces suffer deadliest month in Afghanistan

June was the deadliest month for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 fall of the Taliban and the second in a row in which casualties exceeded those in Iraq, official figures showed Tuesday.

Forty-nine soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the separate US-led coalition died in combat, attacks or accidents in June, according to an AFP tally based on military statements.

June accounted for more than 40 percent of the 122 deaths of foreign soldiers in Afghanistan during 2008, according to the independent website icasualties.org.

Most were killed by roadside bombs hitting their convoys or patrols.

ISAF spokesman General Carlos Branco said the figures should be seen in the context of rising numbers of international forces fighting a resurgent Taliban militia.

Read moreNATO, US forces suffer deadliest month in Afghanistan

A Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel

This is a talk given at the Nassau Club in Princeton by Chris Hedges, former New York Times Middle East bureau chief:

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez Canal and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue.

They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war as over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid. The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.

Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. Recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel’s withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. Flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. Sailors and wounded 171.

The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington’s enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. Direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. Foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money.

Read moreA Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel

Taleban ‘siege’ of Peshawar threatens Pakistan’s grip

Pakistan’s battle against the Taleban threatened to spiral out of control yesterday after Islamic militants extended their grip in the lawless North West Frontier region.

Emboldened by an increasingly weakened and demoralised security force, Taleban fighters moved in to the outskirts of the provincial capital. Peshawar, surrounding the city and placing it virtually under siege.

Army troops have increased patrols in the garrison areas and paramilitary soldiers carrying machineguns are posted at government buildings. But senior security officials said that militants, who now control the region’s main arterial roads, were in a position to cut off communications at will.

Police on the city’s outskirts have long given up patrolling at night for fear of attacks by militants, who are organised under the banner of Tehrik-e-Taleban, the group led by the notorious commander Baitullah Mehsud. Several officers have been killed in rocket attacks on police posts in recent months. “It is a highly alarming situation,” said a senior provincial government official.

The Taleban raided the main government hospital in the heart of the city last week, kidnapping 16 Christians and taking them to the Khyber Agency tribal region outside Peshawar. Although they were freed after a few hours, the incident heightened fears among non-Muslims.

The Khyber Agency, the supply route for Nato forces in Afghanistan, has emerged as the new centre of Taleban activity. Ambushes on convoys have become more frequent.

Read moreTaleban ‘siege’ of Peshawar threatens Pakistan’s grip

The Coming Catastrophe?

Global Research Editor’s note

We bring to the attention of our readers David DeBatto’s scenario as to what might occur if one of the several contingency plans to attack Iran, with the participation of Israel and NATO, were to be carried out. While one may disagree with certain elements of detail of the author’s text, the thrust of this analysis must be taken seriously.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

By David DeBatto

David DeBatto is a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent, Iraqi war veteran and co-author the “CI” series from Warner Books and the upcoming “Counter to Intelligence” from Praeger Security International.

The finishing touches on several contingency plans for attacking Iran

“Israel has said a strike on Iran will be “unavoidable” if the Islamic regime continues to press ahead with alleged plans for building an atom-bomb.” (London Daily Telegraph, 6/11/2008)

“Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined President Bush on Wednesday in calling for further sanctions against Iran if it does not suspend its uranium enrichment program.” Mr. Bush stressed again that “all options are on the table,” which would include military force. (New York Times, 6/11/2008)

We are fast approaching the final six months of the Bush administration. The quagmire in Iraq is in its sixth painful year with no real end in sight and the forgotten war in Afghanistan is well into its seventh year. The “dead enders” and other armed factions are still alive and well in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan again controls most of that country. Gas prices have now reached an average of $4.00 a gallon nationally and several analysts predict the price will rise to $5.00-$6.00 dollars per gallon at the pump by Labor Day. This, despite assurances by some major supporters of the decision to invade Iraq that the Iraq war “will pay for itself” (Paul Wolfowitz) or that we will see “$20.00 per barrel” oil prices if we invade Iraq (Rupert Murdoch).

One thing the Pentagon routinely does (and does very well) is conduct war games. Top brass there are constantly developing strategies for conducting any number of theoretical missions based on real or perceived threats to our national security or vital interests. This was also done prior to the invasion of Iraq, but the Bush administration chose not to listen to the dire warnings about that mission given to him by Pentagon leaders, or for that matter, by his own senior intelligence officials. Nevertheless, war gaming is in full swing again right now with the bullseye just to the right of our current mess – Iran.

It’s no secret that the U.S. is currently putting the finishing touches on several contingency plans for attacking Iranian nuclear and military facilities. With our ground forces stretched to the breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of the most likely scenarios involve a ground invasion. Not that this administration wouldn’t prefer to march into the seat of Shiite Islam behind a solid, moving line of M1 Abrams tanks and proclaim the country for democracy. The fact is that even the President knows we can’t pull that off any more so he and the neo-cons will have to settle for Shock and Awe Lite.

If we invade Iran this year it will be done using hundreds of sorties by carrier based aircraft already stationed in the Persian Gulf and from land based aircraft located in Iraq and Qatar. They will strike the known nuclear facilities located in and around Tehran and the rest of the country as well as bases containing major units of the Iranian military, anti-aircraft installations and units of the Revolutionary Guard (a separate and potent Iranian para-military organization).

Will this military action stop Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons? Probably not. It will probably not even destroy all of their nuclear research facilities, the most sensitive of which are known to be underground, protected by tons of earth and reinforced concrete and steel designed to survive almost all attacks using conventional munitions. The Iranian military and Revolutionary Guard will most likely survive as well, although they will suffer significant casualties and major bases and command centers will undoubtedly be destroyed. However, since Iran has both a functioning Air Force, Navy (including submarines) and modern anti-aircraft capabilities, U.S. fighter-bombers will suffer casualties as well. This will not be a “Cake Walk” as with the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the Iraqi Army simply melted away and the Iraqi Air Force never even launched a single aircraft.

Not even close.

If the United States attacks Iran either this summer or this fall, the American people had better be prepared for a shock that may perhaps be even greater to the national psyche (and economy) than 9/11. First of all, there will be significant U.S. casualties in the initial invasion. American jets will be shot down and the American pilots who are not killed will be taken prisoner – including female pilots. Iranian Yakhonts 26, Sunburn 22 and Exocet missiles will seek out and strike U.S. naval battle groups bottled up in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf with very deadly results. American sailors will be killed and U.S. ships will be badly damaged and perhaps sunk. We may even witness the first attack on an American Aircraft carrier since World War II.

That’s just the opening act.

Israel (who had thus far stayed out of the fray by letting the U.S. military do the heavy lifting) is attacked by Hezbollah in a coordinated and large scale effort. Widespread and grisly casualties effectively paralyze the nation, a notion once thought impossible. Iran’s newest ally in the region, Syria, then unleashes a barrage of over 200 Scud B, C and D missiles at Israel, each armed with VX gas. Since all of Israel is within range of these Russian built weapons, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and virtually all major civilian centers and several military bases are struck, often with a result of massive casualties.

The Israeli Air Force orders all three squadrons of their F-16I Sufa fighter/bombers into the air with orders to bomb Tehran and as many military and nuclear bases as they can before they are either shot down or run out of fuel. It is a one way trip for some of these pilots. Their ancient homeland lies in ruins. Many have family that is already dead or dying. They do not wait for permission from Washington, DC or U.S. regional military commanders. The Israeli aircraft are carrying the majority of their country’s nuclear arsenal under their wings.

Just after the first waves of U.S. bombers cross into Iranian airspace, the Iranian Navy, using shore based missiles and small, fast attack craft sinks several oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, sealing off the Persian Gulf and all its oil from the rest of the world. They then mine the area, making it difficult and even deadly for American minesweepers to clear the straits. Whatever is left of the Iranian Navy and Air Force harasses our Navy as it attempts minesweeping operations. More U.S casualties.

The day after the invasion Wall Street (and to a lesser extent, Tokyo, London and Frankfurt) acts as it always does in an international crisis – irrational speculative and spot buying reaches fever pitch and sends the cost of oil skyrocketing. In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iran, the price of oil goes to $200.00 – $300.00 dollars a barrel on the open market. If the war is not resolved in a few weeks, that price could rise even higher.  This will send the price of gasoline at the pump in this country to $8.00-$10.00 per gallon immediately and subsequently to even higher unthinkable levels.

If that happens, this country shuts down. Most Americans are not be able to afford gas to go to work. Truckers pull their big rigs to the side of the road and simply walk away. Food, medicine and other critical products are not be brought to stores. Gas and electricity (what is left of the short supply) are too expensive for most people to afford. Children, the sick and elderly die from lack of air-conditioned homes and hospitals in the summer. Children, the sick and elderly die in the winter for lack of heat. There are food riots across the country. A barter system takes the place of currency and credit as the economy dissolves and banks close or limit withdrawals. Civil unrest builds.

The police are unable to contain the violence and are themselves victims of the same crisis as the rest of the population. Civilian rule dissolves and Martial Law is declared under provisions approved under the Patriot Act. Regular U.S. Army and Marine troops patrol the streets. The federal government apparatus is moved to an unknown but secure location. The United States descends into chaos and becomes a third world country. Its time as the lone superpower is over.

It doesn’t get any worse than this.

Then the first Israeli bomber drops its nuclear payload on Tehran.

Source: Global Research

Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran


The Israeli Air Force is known for its “inventive solutions to military problems,” says Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert who has strong contacts to Israel. “Israeli military planners tell me it is mission doable.”

The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities — without the Americans, if necessary — is beginning to take shape.

Dani Yatom, a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, was invited to attend a NATO conference in Brussels last year. While reviewing the agenda, Yatom, a retired major general, was surprised to see that the meeting was titled “The Iranian Challenge” and not “The Iranian Threat.”

When a speaker with a French accent mentioned that a US military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities would be the most dangerous scenario of all, Yatom said, politely but firmly: “Sir, you are wrong. The worst scenario would be if Iran acquired an atom bomb.”

Yatom, 63, has spent most of his life in the military. He was a military adviser to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and, in the mid-1990s, was named head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Nevertheless, Yatom, a member of the Labor Party, is not some reckless hawk. Unlike most Knesset members, he flatly rejects, for example, a major Israeli offensive against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But Yatom’s willingness to strike a compromise ends when he is asked what he considers to be the best response to the Iranian nuclear program. “We no longer believe in the effectiveness of sanctions,” says Yatom. “A military operation is needed if the world wants to stop Iran.”

When Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister, expressed similar sentiments 10 days ago, they were viewed, especially in Europe, as the isolated opinions of a card-carrying hardliner seeking to score points with the electorate in a bid to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In truth, however, there is now a consensus within the Israeli government that an air strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities has become unavoidable. “Most members of the Israeli cabinet no longer believe that sanctions will convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to change course,” says Minister of Immigrant Absorption Yaakov Edri.

The one question over which Israel’s various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.

Read moreIsraeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran

Turkey, Syria eye nuclear energy cooperation: agency

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey and Syria are considering setting up a joint energy company and could build joint nuclear power plants for electricity, Syria’s oil minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

Turkey’s state-run Antolian agency quoted Oil Minister Sufian Alao as saying that the two countries will announce the establishment of a joint energy company in the coming days, which could explore for oil in Turkey, Syria and in third countries.

“We could also enter into cooperation in the nuclear field. I spoke to (Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler) Mr. Guler on cooperation. In the future we could found joint nuclear power plants for electricity production,” he was quoted as saying.

Washington released intelligence in April which it said showed Syria secretly built an atomic reactor with North Korean help. Damascus, a U.S. foe and ally of Iran, denies any covert nuclear activity and has said it would cooperate with a U.N. investigation into the allegations.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, is already under pressure from Washington because of its natural gas cooperation with Iran, whose secretive uranium enrichment program has been under scrutiny since 2003.

The general director of Turkish state energy firm TPAO, Mehmet Uysal, was also quoted as saying the two countries had decided to set up a joint energy company and that a deal could be signed by the end of the year, but did not mention cooperation on nuclear energy.

(So what now? Bomb them all? -The Infinite Unknown)

Fri Jun 13, 10:57 AM ET

Source: Reuters

Militants attack Afghan prison, free hundreds of inmates

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban militants staged a brazen bomb and rocket attack on the main prison in southern Afghanistan today, blowing down the gate and helping hundreds of suspected insurgents flee, officials said. Many police officers were reported killed.

The complex attack included a truck bombing at the main gate, a suicide bomber who struck a back wall and rockets fired from outside, setting of a series of explosions that rattled Kandahar, the country’s second biggest city.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said 30 insurgents on motorbikes and two suicide bombers attacked Sarposa Prison and freed about 400 Taliban members.

Abdul Qabir, chief of the Sarposa Prison, also said hundreds of prisoners escaped, but did not provide an exact figure. He said some inmates stayed at the jail, which also held criminals.

Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai who is president of Kandahar’s provincial council, said the prison held about 350 suspected Taliban fighters.

He said “all” the prisoners escaped, but also had no specific number. “There is no one left,” he said.

Kandahar was the Taliban’s former stronghold and its province has been the scene of fierce fighting the past two years between insurgents and NATO troops, primarily from Canada and the United States.

The prison attack came just a few hours after Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his counterparts in Europe that NATO members need to bolster their military effort in Afghanistan, where violence has been escalating.

Dramatizing his report, Gates said that for the first time, American and allied combat deaths in Afghanistan last month had exceeded the toll in Iraq.

Qabir, the prison warden, said the assault began when a tanker truck full of explosives detonated at the prison’s main entrance, wrecking the gate and a police post, killing all the officers inside. He couldn’t say how many police were killed.

Read moreMilitants attack Afghan prison, free hundreds of inmates

Pakistan condemns “cowardly” U.S. attack; 11 dead

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan said on Wednesday an “unprovoked and cowardly” air strike by U.S. forces had killed 11 Pakistani soldiers on its border with Afghanistan and undermined the basis of security cooperation.

The soldiers were killed at a border post in the Mohmand region, opposite Afghanistan’s Kunar province, late on Tuesday as U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan battled militants attacking from Pakistan, a Pakistani security official said.

The U.S. military said in a statement issued on Wednesday that it had coordinated the artillery and air strike with Pakistan, but was investigating further.

The incident came as frustration is rising in Kabul and among Western forces in Afghanistan over Pakistani efforts to negotiate pacts to end militant violence on its side of the border. NATO says such deals lead to more violence in Afghanistan.

In its strongest criticism of the U.S. military since joining the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, the Pakistani military condemned the killing of the 11 paramilitary soldiers, including an officer. If confirmed, it would be the most Pakistani soldiers ever killed in an attack by U.S. forces.

The attack “hit at the very basis of cooperation and sacrifice with which Pakistani soldiers are supporting the coalition in the war against terror,” the military said.

“Such acts of aggression do not serve the common cause of fighting terrorism,” it said in a statement.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also condemned the attack.

“We will take a stand for sovereignty, integrity and self-respect and we will not allow our soil (to be attacked),” he told parliament.

Read morePakistan condemns “cowardly” U.S. attack; 11 dead