US military officials are loudly bragging about their latest initiative to reassure Europe, a program that was called, unlikely enough, the European Reeassurance Initiative (ERI), and which to this point has involved moving a lot of sand around, and building some roads in rural parts of several Baltic states.

ERI is nominally the latest in a long line of programs the Obama Administration has announced to “combat Russian aggression,” and which are meant to build up nations along the Russian frontier to support massive US military deployments to spite Russia.

The plans are often ill-conceived, as the US idea to deploy huge amounts of tanks into several of these countries ran into problems because the tanks are stored in swampy areas where the mud makes it virtually impossible to drive a tank, and NATO has taken to having to “ship” those tanks back and forth to their various anti-Russia photo ops.

In this regard, ERI is trying to be the solution for the military-created problem, hauling thousands of tonnes of sand into those swampy areas to build “tank trails” that they can drive the tanks through, along with roads to support the infrastructure for the NATO operations in the area.

The army sees it as a win-win, as the pricey construction involves the use of contractors, and is subsequently popular with the host countries, and also lets the army deploy people to not-war-zones, which is “good for morale.”

That the whole program is make-work to “reassure” European nations about the US commitment to take part in some unlikely, disastrous future war with Russia is just gravy for them, as the Pentagon sees talk of a new Cold War as a great excuse to push for bigger budgets, and if they can’t physically position forces in the Baltic swamps for this scheme, they’ll build up the swamps so they can.

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose providing any special compensation to the state of Israel in order to assuage its concerns about the Iran nuclear deal. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the Iran deal as an “existential threat” and retains Israel’s right to attack Iran.

irmep-poll2

Asked to indicate their level of support for various compensation options proposed during or after negotiations:

Only 7.9 percent support increasing annual US aid to Israel from $3.5 billion to $5 billion. Israel currently receives the largest share of the total US foreign aid budget. The Obama administration is offering increased aid to reduce Israeli opposition to the deal, though no specific package is on the table.

Just 4.1 percent favor giving Israel deep penetrating “bunker buster” bombs of the type designed to destroy fortified targets. Michael Makovsky, president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, has widely promoted giving the weapons to Israel along with the bombers needed for delivery.

Continue

Last week’s U.S. drone strike in southern Somalia killed al Shabaab leaders Ismail Jabhad and Ismail Dhere. That’s according to both Somali intelligence and Kenyan officials, who offered incomplete and conflicting details on what appeared to be a larger strike against al Shabaab fighters near Bardere, along with a second US drone strike on al Shabaab in northern Kenya.

The one thing they were sure about – despite the secretive nature of US military operations in Somalia – is that a US drone carried out the strike in Somalia for at least the third time this year, one of dozens of US drone strikes on Somalia conservatively dating back to 2011. As US intervention continues to evolve and expand in the Horn of Africa, many of these missions have been confirmed in recent years by US military and intelligence officials, and by their diplomatic counterparts who are increasingly willing to concede there are American boots on the ground. As a token of the importance the US ascribes to tackling terrorism in Africa, President Obama will visit Kenya and Ethiopia later in July.

What is becoming less clear is how effective any US efforts are in securing a stable Somalia.

The latest strike comes just two weeks after a Foreign Policy magazine investigation revealed a US base in the southern Somalian port of Kismayo, as well as in Baledogle, operated by JSOC special operations personnel in support of the Somali military and African Union forces. Prior to the FP report, US drone strikes in Somalia were said to originate in neighboring Djibouti, one of several bases in Africa with a strategic eye on Somalia, including Ethiopia and the Seychelles.

Continue

From GritTV:

This week’s episode from GritTV focuses on modern warfare and US imperialism. Is drone warfare here to stay? It’s one of the few things Republicans and Democrats agree on. Andrew Cockburn has been a rare critical voice on the subject. He is the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of several nonfiction books on war and international politics. His new book is Kill Chain: The Rise of High-Tech Assassins. And later in the show, an excerpt from a new film about a young man held in the US prison at Guantanamo, Fahd Ghazy.

Listen to the debate.

At this summer’s Freedom Fest, our Director of Operations, Angela Keaton, debated historian and archaeologist Ian Morris on his recent book War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots.

Morris’ general thesis is that over human history war has created larger more organized governments which made for a more peaceful society. Keaton disagrees. Antiwar.com columnist Dan Sanchez weighs in with pre-debate commentary at No, War is not the Health of Peace and Prosperity.

Listen to the debate.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now that Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – have reached a comprehensive long term agreement for limiting Iran’s nuclear program and putting it under strict inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the opponents of the agreement, and in particular Israel and its supporters and lobby in the United State, have intensified their efforts to derail the agreement and force the Congress to reject it. In particular, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cohorts have been spreading lies, exaggerations, and half-truths about Iran in order to demonize it and make it impossible for those who are sitting on the fence to support the nuclear agreement. How much of Netanyahu’s claims are true? Let us examine some of them.

Destruction of Israel

In his joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond on 16 July 2015, Netanyahu claimed that he is astounded by the fact that the agreement with Iran did not address Iran’s wish for Israel’s destruction.

In his press conference of 15 July 2015 President Obama said, “Israel has legitimate concerns about its security relative to Iran. You have a large country with a significant military that has proclaimed that Israel shouldn’t exist.”

The rhetoric about destruction of Israel is unwise and inhumane. But, claiming that the Islamic Republic of Iran wishes physical destruction of Israel is sheer lie. It is not a lie because Iran does not have the military power to destroy Israel, as the United States and Israel have thousands of nuclear warheads to destroy Iran several time over. It is a lie because Netanyahu and others have distorted the unwise rhetoric about Israel’s existence.

Continue