Jan 3, 2012 (TSR) – There is something big brewing across the globe and it does not look good. India, Japan and Australia are strengthening trilateral ties while the United States and NATO are looking to firm up alliances between them all along with Ukraine and Armenia.
This comes soon after the United States announced they are going to place 2,500 Marines in Australia, in addition to cutting-edge fighter jets and transport planes, and Australia announced they are going to purchase $950 million in military equipment.
This is a large and quite complex picture that requires a great deal of reading and research and I recommend that everyone check out my sources and come to their own conclusions.
I can only speculate as to the purpose of these geopolitical developments and I would love to hear what my readers think as well so please email me if you care to share your analysis.
I will be going country by country and breaking down these latest developments in order to present to you the most complete information I can, but I am sure this is far more intricate than even I realize at this point.
Japan is reportedly partially lifting their 40-year-long, self-imposed ban on arms trade which began in 1967.
The ban stated that they could not buy or sell arms in concert with nations that had Communist governments or nations at war.
Slowly, Japan ceased all military cooperation with every nation, aside from the United States of course.
This is seen as a move to not only expand military cooperation but also to allow for Japan to get in on the controversial European Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) project.
Despite the ban on a great deal of arms trade, in the 1980s Japanese corporations outfitted the United States with some 15 new technologies for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
The SDI was proposed in 1983 by the President at the time, Ronald Reagan, and was derisively called “Star Wars” by the program’s many detractors.
Now, Japan, in a partnership with the Unites States, is in the process of creating a unit for a new, upgraded SM3 ship missile which is expected to become a key component in the European ABM system, according to the Voice of Russia.
The head of the Center for Japanese Studies, Valery Kistanov, said:
“Above all Japan wants to strengthen its military alliance with the US. Japan needs it amid current instability in the Asian Pacific region.”
It is concerned about the so-called Chinese military threat and the situation on the Korean peninsula after the death of Kim Jong-il. The government’s recent move is probably intended to show that Tokyo is loyal and committed to its alliance with the US,’ Kistanov added.
There is also the notable factor of a growing close cooperation between Tokyo and Brussels – the location of the headquarters of NATO – which would greatly contribute to a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
This is just another instance of NATO mission creep far beyond what the alliance was originally intended to do, and as you will see, this is expanding to a disturbing degree just as we saw in the case of Libya.
Japan is also greatly strengthening ties between India, starting with a 2008 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation which was modeled on a 2007 defense-cooperation accord with Australia.
This treaty later spawned a similar accord between India and Australia in 2009, leading to circular ties which are now developing into trilateral relations.
Japan is also reinforcing economic ties with India with a free-trade accord known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which became active a mere three months ago.
CEPA covers over 90 percent of trade and even spreads into the sectors of services, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, investment, customs regulations and other related trade issues.
This agreement is intended to strengthen bilateral trade between the two nations in order to reduce trade with China, which still outweighs trade between Japan and India by a large margin.
According to the Japan Times, India is already becoming a preferred nation for Japanese foreign direct investment.
Japan and India have also come to an agreement on development of rare earths after China leveraged their monopoly on production of rare earths to cut off exports to Japan in the fall of 2010.
Japanese-Indian relations go even deeper with an annual summit meeting between the two prime ministers along with several annual dialogues between their respective foreign ministers, defense ministers, and Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry and India’s commerce and industry minister.
There are also separate meetings between ministers of energy and other economic talks, dialogues between the Indian foreign and defense secretaries and the Japanese vice minister equivalents, a maritime security dialogue, comprehensive security talks and even military-to-military dialogues which include regular visits between the chiefs of staff of both nations.
To even further cement these relations, Japan, India and the United States have begun trilateral strategic talks which began in Washington just last week.
India and Japan already have their own missile defense cooperation agreements with Israel and the United States, but they are also looking to develop defense systems in cooperation with each other as well.
Despite the economic turmoil at home, the so-called leaders of America continue to pour astounding amounts of money into the Israeli missile defense program.
While Japan only has naval interoperability with the United States Navy, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a speech in New Delhi, India that the aim should be that “sooner rather than later, Japan’s navy and the Indian navy are seamlessly interconnected.”
Japan is also planning on employing the F-35 next generation fighter jet, which was developed with nine nations including Britain and the United States.
The regulations against arms exports in place previously prevented Japan from joining the development team for the F-35, even though they were asked to join the project.
A remarkable article was published in Gulf News written by Jaswant Singh, who is the former Indian finance minister, foreign minister, and defense minister entitled, “New regional order in Asia is reaction to Chinese hegemony.”
I found this noteworthy due to the phrase “New regional order” which calls to mind the infamous “new world order” concept, which is quite an interesting choice of words indeed.
Speaking of the trilateral relations between India, Japan and the United States, United States Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said it could very well “reshape the international system.”
According to Singh, “Burns and much of the rest of America’s foreign-policy establishment, now thinks that India’s regional influence has become comprehensive,” although he is obviously coming from a highly biased perspective.
It is quite remarkable that Japan and India are now developing the same type of comprehensive military and economic ties that have so long been the hallmark of ties between the United States and Japan.
Singh erroneously claims that the newly formed trilateral alliance is also aimed at helping to mitigate the so-called “gaping hole” which will supposedly be left in the Asian security architecture after the West will remove troops from Afghanistan without establishing peace there.
Of course, this is outright absurd seeing as there is no indication that the United States or NATO will actually be leaving Afghanistan.
This became clear in November when the spokeswoman for the loya jirga in Afghanistan stated thatWashington wanted a complete media blackout over the conditions being set in the new strategic long-term deal between American and Afghanistan.
Many of the loya jirga participants complained that they were not being provided with information about the terms and conditions of the long-term deal and Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that so long as some minor conditions were met they would be prepared to allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan for an unspecified length of time.
One man covering Kabul and provinces for The New York Times, Sharifullah Sahak, said at the time via Twitter that “members with different views [are] saying [the] government should sign the strategic pact for 10, 20, even for 50 years with the US.”
It is quite clear that Singh is parroting the blatantly false line promulgated by NATO and the United States, despite all of the proof showing that they have no interest in leaving that theater.
Rick Rozoff of Stop NATO (which puts out a free daily newsletter that is an absolute must read for anyone trying to keep up with the diabolical geopolitical machinations going on every day) says the evolution and expansion of the so-called “Asian NATO” is nothing new.
In fact, he says that he has been writing for at least 10 years on this subject and yet these developments are generally ignored like far too many other important issues that impact us all.
Rozoff points to the fact that Europe was first brought “under the NATO boot” and having finished that has now moved on to the Middle East and Africa.
“Asia is the only ‘unsubjugated’ part of the world except for Latin America – which is being saved for ‘dessert,’” Rozoff said.
It is clear that Asia is the new focus, and this only becomes clearer as we continue to look at recent developments that the West is setting the proverbial sights on the Asia-Pacific region.
It has also become quite obvious to even the casual observer that this is aimed at encircling the countries that will not follow the West’s orders, most notably China, Russia and of course Iran.
During the recent visit of India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony to Tokyo, it was decided that there would be a joint naval and air force exercise in 2012 between Japan and India, which would be a first.
This is part of the agreement between Japan and India which is aimed at increasing cooperation on “maritime security issues, including anti-piracy measures, freedom of navigation,” in addition to “maintaining the security of the Sea Lanes of Communication to facilitate unhindered trade, bilaterally as well as multilaterally with regional neighbors,” which Singh points out obviously means China.
In early 2012 a “Japan-India Defense Policy Dialogue” will be held in Tokyo along with the many top-level meetings between government and military officials as previously mentioned.
Singh says that these ties will certainly upset China while claiming that China’s role in the South China Seadispute “has been a wake-up call about the type of regional order that China would establish if it had the power.”
Then again, the “new regional order” being established by NATO isn’t quite as glorious and peaceful as Singh is making it out to be, and the United States has been pretty clearly goading China in the South China Seadispute.
“India’s and China’s rival aspirations to be acknowledged as regional Great Powers, as well as their quest for energy security, are compelling both countries to seek greater maritime security,” Singh writes.
Of course in this case “maritime security” is a not-so-subtle way of saying naval dominance as determined by the clout of alliances and sheer firepower.
Singh acknowledges the Indian approach has been opting “to construct a regional security structure with no Chinese participation,” and isolation isn’t quite the phenomenal strategy Singh seems to be making it out to be.
Cutting a nation out of the equation while encircling it and engaging in saber-rattling is bound to be disruptive, especially when the nation feels threatened.
This is exactly what we’re seeing right now with the NATO ABM program in Europe which is not leaving Russia either happy or reassured, as Rozoff has been extensively pointing out in his newsletters.
China is also not quite pleased with these developments, evidenced by China Daily saying that Japanese Premier Yoshihiko Noda’s visit to India was aimed at containing China.
They cite Lu Yaodong, the director of the department of Japanese diplomacy at the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social sciences who says that the summit between India and Japan is a continuance of the Japanese strategy known as the “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity.”
They also point to an expected dollar swap accord worth up to $10 billion along with possible increased nuclear cooperation between the two nations.
Su Hao, the director of the Asia-Pacific research center at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing reportedly said that Japan’s move to ease the arms trade restrictions “will complicate security in the Asia-Pacific region,” and thus “will have a negative effect on China,” according to the India Times.
There is also the concern that the Chinese People’s Daily Online reported on June 15, 2011 that the Liberation Army Daily said, “China resolutely opposes any country unrelated to the South China Sea issue meddling in disputes, and it opposes the internationalization of the South China Sea issue.”
This is a pretty clear statement to the United States who has been conducting naval exercises with nations involved in the dispute, arming others and encircling China with their increasing Japanese, Indian and Australian ties.
It is also worrisome that Australia has decided to sell natural uranium to India, which is a total reversal from the previous policy which had been in place since India had first developed a nuclear weapons program.
The Australian Greens characterized this “unethical, illogical and probably illegal,” pointing to the fact that India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although I think we all know just how much treaties are worth these days.
This comes as there is significant opposition to Indian nuclear power, including hunger strikes and the Australian Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said that “selling uranium to India will increase the proliferation of nuclear weapons in our region.”
Ludlam also cites the former head of the Indian National Security Advisory Board K. Subrahmanyam who said, “It is to India’s advantage to categorize as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refueled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons grade plutonium production.”
It is quite clear that uranium sold to India will just replace other uranium which would go to civilian nuclear programs so more uranium can be devoted to weapons-grade plutonium production and thus nuclear weapons.
Ludlam also said that even the Indian civilian nuclear program was considered dangerous, pointing out, “This trade is illegal, dangerous and opposed by many Indian people including nuclear experts.”
This issue dovetails with the concern over America’s new and quite pronounced military presence in Australia, which in combination with the nuclear proliferation is sure to make China a bit concerned.
There is also the matter of Australia purchasing some $950 million in military equipment from the United States.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed the U.S. Congress earlier in December that Australia will be purchasing 10 C-27J military planes and other equipment like missile warning and radar systems.
Washington approved the sale which is being done under the guise of helping “improve the air mobility and capability of the Australian Defence Force to run humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Southeast Asia,” according to the International Business Times.
They point out that the United States will also be opening a training center in Australia on top of the 2,500 Marines and the cutting edge F-22 fighter jet capable of cyberwarfare and electronic warfare, along with other military hardware, all of which will supposedly “help U.S. allies and protect American interests in Asia.”
Other items included in the order are: more electronic warfare equipment, portable flight mission planning systems, 23 Rolls Royce AE2100D2 engines, radios, support and test equipment, spares, aircraft ferry and tanker support, training equipment and personnel training, technical data and publications, maintenance trainers and an operational flight simulator.
Is this preparation for innocent humanitarian missions like they claim? Or, could it possibly be building up supplies for a greater encirclement and possible future military action?
The Filipino Presidential Communications Operations Office announced on December 26 that the Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) set out from Manila to the province of Palawan on December 23 for her first deployment as a warship of the Philippine Navy, after being handed over by the U.S. Coast Guard on May 13, 2011.
The Philippine Navy said that the vessel will act to strengthen the naval security in the Malampaya Oil Fields along with other areas west of the Palawan province.
The Malampaya field is roughly 80 km off the coast of Palawan Island, which Is not too far from the South China Sea as you can see in the following map where “A” is the South China Sea and “B” is Palawan Island.
While there very well might be closer areas to the South China Sea in the Philippines, the newest patrol frigate can sustain a month-long mission without any need to re-provision and is 378 feet long with a beam of 42 feet.
The ship carries 18 officers and 144 enlisted personnel and thus represents yet another aspect of the expansion and encirclement in the region thanks to the United States.
According to the KyivPost (Kyiv is an alternate spelling of Kiev), Ukraine hopes that the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago in May of 2012 will strengthen ties between NATO and Kiev.
They cite Oleh Voloshyn, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s information policy department director, who said, “We very much hope that next year’s NATO summit in Chicago will be an impetus to the deepening of cooperation between Ukraine and the alliance.”
Voloshyn also said that Ukraine and NATO have been engaging in intensified dialogues this year in a clear effort to bring the Eastern European nation into the alliance to further encircle Russia and China.
“Of course, we will continue to see NATO as our strategic partner in the sphere of security, reform of the armed forces, and in the sphere of tackling the consequences of emergency situations,” Voloshyn added.
The KyivPost adds that the United States Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft said that the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, would also be invited to attend the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
Bringing Ukraine into NATO could be a huge boon for those seeking to further encircle Russia and continue to grow the hegemonic Western control as Ukraine is a relatively large nation which shares a border with Russia.
According to Public Radio of Armenia, recently the interdepartmental commission which was coordinating the implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) between Armenia and NATO held their final meeting in 2011.
While Armenia does not border Russia, it is quite close and would provide yet another way to encircle Russia and strengthen NATO’s grip on the region.
Ashot Hovakimyan, the Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister lauded the effectiveness of the interdepartmental commission’s activity over the past year in presenting the general assessment of their actions.
Armenia’s First Deputy Defense Minister David Tonoyan said that the main areas of cooperation with NATO in the field of defense would be the participation of Armenian so-called peacekeepers in NATO actions along with support from NATO and member states in implementing defense reforms.
During the final sitting the results of the implementation of the objectives of IPAP in 2011 were summarized along with the progress they had made towards expanding the cooperation between Armenia and NATO.
If nothing else, this much is clear: NATO and the West are expanding far beyond their original stated intentions when NATO was created, and are now moving into new regions, expanding ties and military dominance, and overall doing whatever it takes to grow the hegemonic control of the world.
The direction this is heading is far from pleasant, and despite the constant reassurances that this is being done for humanitarian purposes or motivations that seem otherwise innocent, I think by now all of my readers realize this is very unlikely, to say the least.
There seems to be a significant push to bring Georgia into NATO, which is quite noteworthy due to the fact that Georgia shares its largest border with Russia.
Not to mention that relations between Georgia and Russia are shaky at best after the so-called “Rose Revolution” in 2003, especially when it comes to the conflicts over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, most notably during the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, also known as the 2008 South Ossetia War.
2011 has been an eventful year in terms of Georgia’s move to integrate into NATO and the European Union, according to Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze.
This includes the successful utilization of a “NATO-Georgia Commission” which Baramidze says has already resulted in 20 meetings and thus a closer relationship between the US-led alliance and Georgia.
“NATO Secretary General’s visit to Georgia and mentioning Georgia among countries – candidates for Alliance’s membership were important,” Baramidze said, as reported by Azerbaijani Trend News Agency.
He emphasized that this was the first time and that the decision made at the NATO summit in Bucharest saying that Georgia would become a NATO member still holds true.
Baramidze said that Georgia will be aiming to maintain a “high rate of integration into the NATO and EU,” during 2012.
He stated that the negotiations on an association agreement between the European Union and Georgia are important and must continue, including discussions on free trade and visas.
“Georgia expects [a] clearer signal on which steps should be taken for closer approximation,” Trend quotes Baramidze as saying, although the translation seems to be a bit off.
Georgian troops have also been acquiring experience on the hellish battleground that is Afghanistan, which they – or at least Georgia’s government – relish.
Recently Georgia’s Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaya visited Afghanistan to praise the Georgian contingent deployed there and meet with NATO commanders.
He met with the commanders of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the American commanders and stated that, “The NATO command in Afghanistan has told me once again about the highest marks given to the Georgian contingent’s actions. Certainly, it inspires pride in the country and our servicemen,” according to Interfax.
The Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has also recently made some quite strong statements about Russia, including the prediction that the Russian “empire will inevitably fall” and thus Georgia would be “liberated.”
He made these proclamations during a New Year message to the nation, noting that he considered 2011 “an important year for Georgia” during which they “achieved serious progress in many directions.”
“In 2008 our enemy [Russia] thought that [Georgia] was leveled to the ground, but in recent years an opinion has been firmly established throughout the entire post-Soviet space – in Ukraine, in Central Asia, among our neighbors and even in Russia – that Georgia is an absolute leader in terms of carrying out reforms and fighting corruption,” Georgian President Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili also touched on the prospect of Georgia becoming a full member in the EU, although Civil Georgia’s coverage makes no mention of NATO.
Saakashvili stated that in 2011 “everyone in the European Union seriously started [saying] that Georgia should become in following years [a] full-fledged member of the EU and this is a real geopolitical revolution.”
Indeed it would be a huge boon for the West to bring Georgia into the EU and NATO, while exerting more control over the nation and leveraging its strategic position near Russia, along with putting Georgia into increased receivership and dependence.
China’s Xinhua also recently published a piece speculating about the South Caucuses being a spot in which another crisis could emerge, especially seeing that will likely serve as a pipeline after Western troops (supposedly) leave Iraq.
The Georgian integration dovetails with the efforts to bring Azerbaijan into the sphere of the United States and thus NATO along with the rest of Eastern Europe.
Azerbaijan is also becoming increasingly chummy with the Western powers, most notably the United States, which is inseparable from NATO and NATO from it.
According to Trend, both the Azerbaijanis and NATO have endorsed the third stage of a pact which was first signed in 2005.
The third stage of the Individual Partnership Action Plan, or IPAP, between NATO and the small country of Azerbaijan, relatively close to Russia, covers cooperation between the alliance and the Azerbaijani government throughout 2012 and 2013.
Trend states that the IPAP covers four sections but then lists a great deal more than four issues which the agreement covers.
The sections they list are: politics and security, defense and military issues, public information, civil emergency planning, science and environmental issues, administrative issues, security of information, resources and legal issues, which seems pretty comprehensive in scope.
Given that phase one and two of the IPAP have already been successfully implemented, it is only logical to assume that stage three will be similar, especially since Trend says that the first two phases “were highly appreciated at various levels by NATO officials.”
Azerbaijan is far from alone in having an IPAP in place in the region, indeed the alliance is pushing for increased integration with most of Eastern Europe in order to further encircle Russia and strengthen regional ties.
Currently the following nations have IPAPs implemented (in order of signing from earliest to most recent): Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in 2008.
It was also announced by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry’s press service on December 30 that Azerbaijan and the United States will be holding bilateral military consultations on January 12-13.
These meetings will be held in Washington and the issues being discussed are not public according to the Azeri-Press Agency (APA).
This begs the question: what is being discussed that is too sensitive to publicize? If it is just matters surrounding the third phase of the IPAP, surely these matters should be public given that they involve the people of both Azerbaijan and America alike?
Even if the meeting is totally innocent and the subjects being discussed are harmless, it is surely going to do little to allay Russia’s concerns when a nearby nation is engaging in closed-door discussions with the United States, especially if the discussions touch on the ABM system.
Oddly enough, the APA reported on the Commander in Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard Myles Deering’s visit to Azerbaijan last December.
In an interview Deering stated that he had met with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev, noting, “we have a lot of similarities. That is the reason why Oklahoma [is] a partner of Azerbaijan. Because Azerbaijan has the oil and natural resources as [does] Oklahoma.”
It is quite clear that the United States is pushing to integrate Azerbaijan tightly into the NATO framework, even if just under the guise of the IPAP.
The majority of the previous installment was spent discussing the intricate web of relations in the Asia-Pacific region that is bringing together the United States with Japan, India and Australia.
These ties are all multilateral and complex but all are indeed troubling to those who relish peace, along with those whose objections might not be so pure of heart, like China – which is far from a guilt-free nation when it comes to these dastardly machinations.
The state-run media out of China has been expressing some serious concerns over the decision to lift the self-imposed Japanese ban on the arms trade and the increasingly tight integration of the Japanese and Indian militaries.
Not to mention the fact that Australia will be providing nuclear materials to India – a factor I covered in the previous installment, which you truly must read if you have yet to do so – and the American military presence in the region is getting a major upgrade.
There are also concerns over Japanese arms experts to the Philippines, which also just received a patrol vessel from the United States Coast Guard to be deployed in a region relatively close to the disputed South China Sea.
As I previously said, while there are regions of the Philippines that are closer than Palawan Island where it is being deployed, the ship is capable of carrying out a month-long mission so travel to the South China Sea would be no problem.
However, currently it is patrolling the rich Malampaya Oil Fields and other areas to the west of the Palawan province, although this is not likely to make China too happy even if it is totally innocuous.
Liu Jianyong, a man described as an expert on Japan studies at Tsinghua University, points out that the lifting of the arms ban allows for the export of arms to Japan’s neighbors and allies which will at first be done under the auspices of maritime security.
“But offensive weapons may eventually enter the picture, because that’s the only way to fuel its indigenous defense industry,” he said.
This is quite true as like every industry, the market needs to continue to expand in order for profit to grow and once the need for all defense maritime security equipment is met, there will still need to be more sales.
Therefore, it is only logical that Japanese contractors, like their American counterparts, will continue to create equipment even though there is actually no real need for it.
Liu states that in the long-term this Japanese policy shift will prove to be detrimental for China, especially when the inevitable maritime disputes arise.
“When these countries engage in maritime disputes with China – that’s when the impact of this policy may come to affect us,” he said.
It isn’t too hard to understand why China might see themselves as a potential target of the rapidly developing partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, which will likely serve to increase the already significant tensions.
Zhao Gancheng, the director of the South Asia research department at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, stated that Indian-Japanese arms trade may indeed make tensions even stronger in the region because of China’s status as a potential – if not likely – target.
Zhao sees this as a contradiction because while Japan “wants to counter china by linking with countries such as the US, India and Australia … it is aware of the fact that Sino-Japanese relations are a prerequisite for its quest to bcome a normal country.”
“So personally, I think the policy is itself contradictory,” Zhao added.
Zhao’s point was underlined by the announcement on December 26 that China and Japan have agreed to begin direct trading of their currencies, although chances are that Zhao is attempting to say that the Japanese are being contradictory but not the Chinese.
It was also said that Japan would be applying to buy Chinese bonds in 2012 after Japanese Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
This seemingly oxymoronic relationship is quite interesting, seeing that Japan seems to be drawing military and diplomatic support from one side while increasing economic ties on the other while the relationships are ostensibly contradictory.
This is one of the many cases that makes me wonder if all of this geopolitical maneuvering very well might be pure theatrics in an attempt to distract the public from the fact that the most powerful nations of the world are in fact working together towards total economic hegemony due to the ruling elite in all nations having the same interests.
Of course, this is pure speculation and the growing tension in the region does have all the hallmarks of a real conflict in the making.
Then again, the defense industry requires perpetual war, so it very well might be the case that the powers controlling the governments of these nations are pushing their countries towards war while making sure that their economic hegemony remains unchallenged in order to ensure future profits.
Afghanistan-Pakistan (often referred to as AfPak or Af-Pak)
Relations between Pakistan and NATO are, to say the least, unstable at this point. While the strain is nothing quite new, it has become considerably worse after NATO aircraft invaded Pakistani airspace and killed 24 Pakistani troops on November 26.
This led to the Pakistanis demanding that the Shamsi military base be vacated and a complete halt on drone strikes, along with restrictions on the transfer of military supplies which contributed to a $400/gall price tag on gasoline in Afghanistan, which of course the American taxpayer is put on the hook for.
This is evidenced by the Pakistani refusal to allow new American drone bases on their sovereign territory.
This is leaving the United States searching for more locations in central Asia and Afghanistan from which to launch their deadly drones.
Currently the United States is operating seven drone bases in Pakistan, one of which is run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while the rest are joint operations between the Army, Air Force and Navy.
Anonymous officials have stated that the United States is currently considering additional covert military bases in central Asia in order to continue the controversial drone strikes in Pakistan against alleged militants.
However, it appears that they are meeting some resistance as the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have reportedly refused to allow bases to be built due to pressure from Russia.
It seems quite likely that this will act as yet another issue which weighs on the strained ties between NATO and Russia as it has become clear that the West truly does not appreciate any opposition whatsoever, no matter how legitimate it may be.
The drone program in Pakistan has killed an estimated 3,659 people since 2004, including civilians and suspected militants.
In 2011 alone, 78 attacks killed about 607 people and 306 strikes have occurred since 2004 according to the Conflict Monitoring Center (CMC), a think tank based out of Islamabad, Pakistan which monitors conflict scenarios in South Asia.
The numbers provided by the Long War Journal are slightly different and are broken down in more detail here.
Abdullah Khan, the director of the CMC told Pakistan’s The Nation that the American drone program is “not as convenient and easy as it used to be. There are too many operational constraints involved in launching drone strikes from Khost compared to Shamsi.”
“Secondly, given that Pakistan has completely disrupted intelligence sharing on drones, it’s next to impossible for them (CIA) to continue with drones here,” Khan added.
The Khost provincial government spokesman Mubarez Zadran expressed ignorance as to the presence of covert military bases for drones in the province, which The Nation rightly points out is “something nobody would want to speak on,” given the thick veil of secrecy under which they operate.
Similarly, the United States embassy in Islamabad and NATO do not officially comment on the CIA’s drone program and NATO’s officials in Afghanistan deny any involvement with drone strikes in Pakistan.
Russia continues to disagree with the sustained presence of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan, and it looks unlikely that it is going to change any time soon if the loya jirga in November is any indication.
The Nation reports that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s October visit to Pakistan came on the heels of “a secretive agreement on drones as part of the renewed military Pak-US cooperation after a spree of hostility.”
“Unearthed by The Nation on October 22nd, the agreement envisaged resumption of intelligence cooperation between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA for hunting down the militants on both sides of the border,” they added.
There is also the matter of strategic partnerships between Afghanistan and the European nations of England, France and Italy.
French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet announced that French armed forces would remain in Afghanistan post-2014 yesterday with Pajhwok Afghan News reporting that strategic agreements with England and Italy were also announced by Janan Musazai, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Musazai stated that more discusses regarding the proposed Afghan-American strategic agreement needed to be held, while Pajhwok Afghan News points out that the accord was discussed originally at the loya jirga almost two months ago.
“The delegates gave a conditional green signal to the agreement allowing the Americans to establish military bases in Afghanistan,” they report.
The mainstream Western media has been conspicuously silent on this and continues to pretend that the rapidly approaching date of 2014 will be honored by any of the major players, which is a wholly laughable assertion.
As is the case with Japan’s security ties pulling one way and economic ties with China pulling in another, it appears that Afghanistan is attempting to balance their relations with the United States with Iran and other nations with seemingly opposing interests like Russia and China.
It is also quite interesting that the United States just acquired the “Avenger” Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or drone, which is being billed as the largest and fasted hunter-killer drone ever, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the same company behind the MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers.
This is odd given that drone operations in Pakistan are seemingly going to become more difficult, although it could very well be flying out of one of the many new secret drone bases which will be used to launch incursions into Somalia and Yemen and possibly other locales.
There is also the worrisome possibility that the so-called Predator C could be used against us here at home given that the domestic use of drones is increasing at a disturbing pace.
However, I find this highly unlikely given that the newest model evades radar, travels at 460 miles per hour and can carry a payload of up to 15,800 pounds which translates to a great deal of firepower.
The expansion of the drone program both inside and outside the United States is troubling for me and many others due to the fact that there are actually civilians in the so-called “kill chain” and drone pilots can be operating up to four drones at once with little training compared to traditional aircraft.
Drone pilots require less than 25% of the training that normal pilots receive, 44 hours instead of 200 to be exact.
There is also the matter of the immense number of personnel required to run the drones. Keeping a Predator in the air for 24 hours requires a whopping 168 people, while the Global Hawk needs 300, according to the Air Force.
This is quite a large figure compared to the 100 personnel required for a mission on with an F-16 fighter jet, although the Los Angeles Times doesn’t make it clear if that is also for a 24 hour period or for a shorter mission.
The constant expansion of the drone program defies logic yet is unquestioned, for the same reason that I discussed earlier in the case of Japan.
The so-called defense contractors need to make money and in order to do so they need to continue to receive government funds which can only be done by providing a product.
This requires perpetual conflict and a war with no end, which is exactly what the “War on Terror” happens to be.
The expansion of NATO and Western hegemony is not an issue that is going away any time soon and thus I will have no choice but to continue to cover this as much as possible.
All of the geopolitical rumblings we are witnessing at this point seem to be pointing in one direction: conflict. There is an undeniable trend towards encircling China and Russia, isolating them while of course continuing to do business.
I cannot be sure if all of this is purely superficial or if there is actually a fundamental schism between the West along with the nations being swallowed up by its influence and nations like Russia, China and Iran, or if it is just being done to continue to manufacture a need for one of the world’s most profitable industries: war.
AUTHOR: Madison Ruppert