By Mike Head for WSWS – Defying warnings from Beijing not to escalate tensions in the South China Sea, the Trump administration last Saturday said a United States aircraft carrier strike group had begun “routine” patrols in the strategic waterway. According to a US Navy statement, the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer is joining the 97,000-ton Carl Vinson along with aircraft from Carrier Air Wing for the operations. The Carl Vinson carries a flight group of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 jet fighters, as well as a crew of 7,500. This is not the first such mission. The Obama administration also ordered US aircraft carrier operations in the South China Sea as part of its “pivot to Asia” to confront China’s rising influence. Almost a year ago, the USS John C. Stennis led another “routine” cruise through the area.
By Andre Damon for WSWS – One day after Donald Trump’s extraordinary news conference, the battle within the American state only grew more intense. The conflict pits the ultra-right president of the United States against powerful sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, with the corporate media, the Democratic Party and a section of the Republicans serving as mouthpieces of the CIA. There is no progressive faction in this dispute, which centers on issues of foreign policy and war. Trump is a noxious representative of the financial oligarchy. He has packed his administration with CEOs and billionaires, alongside ex-generals, social reactionaries and outright fascists. His opponents in the political and media establishment are themselves reactionaries, motivated not by democratic principles, but by concerns that Trump is shifting away from the aggressive, militarist policy toward Russia that is backed by the intelligence establishment and was carried out by the previous administration.
By Ali Abunimah for Electronic Antifada – US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday morning, before going into their much-anticipated bilateral meeting. Asked about whether the US was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy. “I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” the president said. On settlements, Trump reaffirmed to Netanyahu, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Advocates of a two-state solution, including the previous US administration and European governments, see it as the only way to rescue Israel as a racist state that ensures its Jewish demographic majority through a battery of racist laws – a situation they refer to as “peace.”
By Staff of Popular Resistance – If Donald Trump’s recent threat of military action against Iran sounds familiar to you, then It should. Democrats in Congress already beat him to it before Trump’s tiny hands could even grace the bible at his swearing-in ceremony. How did they do this? By creating a resolution in January to threaten military action against Iran if they tried to obtain nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, what’s being touted as a move for U.S. safety and security is starting to sound eerily similar to the threat to invade a country to find deadly weapons that turned out to never exist (think Iraq). So what’s the REAL reason behind this threat of military action? All signs seem to point both underground and in America’s wallets.
By Melissa Dykes for The Daily Sheeple – But Trump’s new Pentagon chief General Mattis also gave a press conference where he declared Iran to be “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world”. That was last week. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s administration is actively working to “drive a wedge between Iran and Russia”. So yeah, all that and it hasn’t even been three weeks yet…Now Breitbart is exclusively reporting (not much of a shock there considering their former executive chair is now White House Chief Strategist) that 17 ships from the US, UK, Australia, and France chose last week
By Jason Ditz for Antiwar – White House officials are ratcheting up the rhetoric over Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, accusing it of being “highly provocative” and threatening non-specific action, which might include military force, against Iran over the incident. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the Trump Administration is “putting Iran on notice” over the test, saying that the test threatens stability across the region and “places American lives at risk.” Other officials said a lot of options were under consideration. In practice very little happened to provoke this reaction. Iran’s single test of a medium-range ballistic missile almost certain did not violate the P5+1 nuclear deal’s restriction on testing nuclear-capable missiles
By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – In the most dramatic expression of insider opposition to a sitting administration’s policies in generations, over 1,000 U.S. State Department employees signed on to a memo protesting President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries setting foot on U.S. soil. Another recent high point in dissent among the State Department’s 18,000 worldwide employees occurred in June of last year, when 51 diplomats called for U.S. air strikes against the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad. Neither outburst of dissent was directed against the U.S. wars and economic sanctions that have killed and displaced millions of people in the affected countries
By Staff of Action Network – The U.S. war in Afghanistan is well into its 16th year. In 2014 President Obama declared it over, but it will remain a political, financial, security, legal, and moral problem unless you actually end it. The U.S. military now has approximately 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan , plus 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors (of whom about 8,000 are from the United States). That’s 41,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country 15 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government. During each of the past 15 years, our government in Washington has informed us that success was imminent.
By Phyllis Bennis for FPIF – Very soon, Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order regarding refugees and entry to the U.S. for a whole swathe of people. In effect, the edict would be aimed at banning Muslims from the United States, demonizing people from Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East and North Africa. It’s no accident that of the seven countries identified, the U.S. is bombing five (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia), has troops deployed and military bases in another (Sudan), and imposes harsh sanctions and frequent threats against the last (Iran). These military actions all reflect policies that fuel refugee flows in the first place. In a grim irony, the order bans refugees from wars that in many cases the U.S. itself started.
By Vijay Prashad for AlterNet – Gunfire broke out in Tehran, Iran’s capital, on Monday. A drone flew over the city and provoked anti-aircraft fire. Deputy of Air Defense Alireza Elhami said that the drone left the restricted area after the firing. It is likely that this episode is harmless. But nothing can be taken lightly just days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next US president. Trump has assembled a team that is obsessed with Iran. His Secretary of Defense James Mattis and his National Security Adviser Mike Flynn take their fulminations into bizarre territory. Last April, Mattis said that ISIS is ‘nothing more than an excuse for Iran to continue its mischief.
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.”