By Nicolas J S Davies for Consortium News – As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama’s image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of U.S. military power. Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr. Obama’s “disguised, quiet, media-free” war policy.
By Andre Damon for WSWS – Some 4,000 US troops, together with tanks, artillery and armored vehicles, arrived in Poland over the weekend, further escalating tensions with Russia ahead of the January 20 inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump. It is the largest US troop deployment in Europe since the Cold War. The troops will be dispersed over seven Eastern European countries, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which border Russia. After nine months, the troops will be replaced with another unit, making the deployment effectively permanent. NATO plans to deploy a further four battalions to the Russian border later this year, including one each to Poland and the three Baltic states.
By Medea Benjamin for The Guardian – Most Americans would probably be astounded to realize that the president who has been painted by Washington pundits as a reluctant warrior has actually been a hawk. The Iran nuclear deal, a herculean achievement, and the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba unfortunately stand alone as President Obama’s successful uses of diplomacy over hostility. While candidate Obama came to office pledging to end George W Bush’s wars, he leaves office having been at war longer than any president in US history. He is also the only president to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.
By Jeffrey D. Sachs for Project Syndicate – NEW YORK – American foreign policy is at a crossroads. The United States has been an expanding power since its start in 1789. It battled its way across North America in the nineteenth century and gained global dominance in the second half of the twentieth. But now, facing China’s rise, India’s dynamism, Africa’s soaring populations and economic stirrings, Russia’s refusal to bend to its will, its own inability to control events in the Middle East, and Latin America’s determination to be free of its de facto hegemony, US power has reached its limits. One path for the US is global cooperation.
By Jakob Reimann for Roar Magazine – In 2009, Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize — not for any concrete action but rather for his effusive optimism and, eventually, for his Yes We Can campaign. The Nobel committee acknowledged Obama’s commitment to peace and admired his diplomacy-focused aspirations: “Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.” Furthermore, the committee appreciated the fact that Mr. Obama had given people everywhere “hope for a better future.” The president himself felt “deeply humbled” and considered the award a “call to action.”
By Victor Grossman for The Left Berlin – Hit that old song again, loud and clear! “Over there, over there, Send the word, send the word, That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming…” Yes, sirree! Shades of 1918 and the Battle of the Marne! Shades of 1944 and the beaches of Normandy! But no, not just shades and not just words have already been sent. 2017 had hardly begun in Germany’s port of Bremerhaven when 4000 lads and lasses in Yankee uniform disembarked and unloaded three shiploads, over 2,500 tanks, trucks and other combat vehicles, and sent them on by rail, on ferries through the Baltic or clanking along those Autobahn highways through North Germany. So many memories!
By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh for Vocativ – Russia’s attempt to sway the 2016 election continues to consume American politics as the Obama administration struck back with a series of punishments targeting Russia’s spy agencies and diplomats. The White House on Thursday moved to expel 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the U.S. and impose sanctions on the Kremlin’s two leading intelligence services in response for what the U.S. says were a series of cyberattacks conducted by Russia during the presidential campaign. For the time being, Russian President Vladamir Putin has indicated that he won’t immediately retaliate, though that could change. The simmering tit for tat has kept the issue of election meddling burning bright in the national spotlight…
By Staff of DONi News – The NATO war preparation against Russia, ‘Operation Atlantic Resolve’, is in full swing. 2,000 US tanks will be sent in coming days from Germany to Eastern Europe, and 1,600 US tanks is deployed to storage facilities in the Netherlands. At the same time, NATO countries are sending thousands of soldiers in to Russian borders. According to US Army Europe, 4,000 troops and 2,000 tanks will arrive in three US transport ships to Germany next weekend. From Bremerhaven, US troops and huge amount of military material, will be transported to Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. USA is sending to Russian borders 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.
By Eddie Haywood for WSWS – At the close of 2016, Africa saw a dramatic surge in the number of US Special Operation forces deployed across the continent. Since 2006, the US military has increased its operations in Africa from just 1 percent of overall global Special Operations to more than 17 percent. The rate at which troops have been surged on to the continent far surpasses that of any other region in the world, including Washington’s substantial military operations in the Middle East. There were 700 Special Operation commandos deployed across Africa in 2014; by 2016, the number had more than doubled, to 1,700.
By Medea Benjamin for Other Words – The U.S. is selling weapons to a country that’s killing a child every 10 minutes. That has to stop. While the world has been transfixed on the epic tragedy in Syria, another tragedy — a hidden one — has been consuming the children of Yemen. Battered by the twin evils of war and hunger, every 10 minutes a child in Yemen dies from malnutrition, diarrhea, or respiratory-tract infections, UNICEF reports. And without immediate medical attention, over 400,000 kids suffering from severe acute malnutrition could die, too. Why are so many of Yemen’s children going hungry and dying?
By Stephen Zunes for The Progressives – Among the many disturbing appointments by President-elect Donald Trump are the people charged with conducting U.S. policy in the Middle East. Trump’s ignorance of the region will make him even more dependent on his advisers than most Presidents. And that’s not good news. Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, as with other oil men who have taken leading positions dealing with U.S. Mideast policy, will presumably favor close relations with Arab despots, even if they are terrible on human rights. However, as CEO of ExxonMobil, he would likely oppose actions that could destabilize the region, and respect the views of State Department professionals who provide analysis and advice.
By Staff of Reuters – MOSCOW/ANKARA, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government starting at midnight on Thursday. The parties were also prepared to start peace talks, Putin said, after Moscow, Iran and Turkey expressed readiness to broker a deal to settle the nearly six-year-old Syrian war. The Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting but said Islamic State and ex-Nusra Front militants and all groups linked to them would be excluded from the deal. It did not say which unnamed groups would be excluded. Several rebel officials told Reuters they had agreed to the ceasefire, due to come into effect at 2200 GMT on Thursday.
By William Boardman for Reader Supported News – On December 13, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power offered up yet another stark exercise in imperial deceit, shedding crocodile tears for those suffering in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, while continuing her strategically amoral silence about much greater suffering in the country of Yemen. The basis for this unconscionable choice is simple. Russia, Syria, and Iran are attacking Aleppo. The carnage in Yemen is led by Saudi Arabia, allied with eight other Sunni Muslim states (supported by another seven countries including Canada, UK, France, and Turkey) – but this 16-state war of aggression would be impossible without the exceptional 17th enemy of Yemen, the US…
By Staff of Global Times – US President-elect Donald Trump appointed China hawk Peter Navarro as head of the new National Trade Council Wednesday. Navarro’s public image is largely shaped by his three books about China: The Coming China Wars, Death by China, and Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. An article in The New Yorker once said Navarro’s views on trade and China were so radical that it’s impossible to “find another economist who fully agrees with them.” Trump’s Navarro pick is regarded as a signal that he will take more aggressive actions to promote his American interests first agenda.