By Peter Symonds for Information Clearing House and WSWS – Just days after launching its criminal cruise missile attack on Syria, the Trump administration has provocatively authorised the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, together with its full strike group of guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, to waters off the Korean Peninsula. The move is a direct military threat to North Korea, which was at the top of the agenda in talks last weekend between the US and Chinese presidents. An unnamed US official told the Financial Times that the deployment was designed to be a “show of force.” The carrier strike group had taken part in joint US-South Korean war games but was heading south for port calls in Australia before being ordered to turn north from Singapore.
By Staff of 2nd District of Wisconsin – Washington, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 50 other Members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump calling on him to come to Congress before escalating military action in Yemen. The Trump Administration is currently weighing options for direct military involvement in Yemen’s two-year-old civil war, where a coalition of military forces led by Saudi Arabia has fought against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Saudi coalition has conducted indiscriminate bombings and imposed a crippling blockade…
By Diane Randall for FCNL – This week’s abhorrent chemical weapons attack was an act of unspeakable violence against civilians, and we are heartbroken over the deaths of Syrians, including many children. The Trump administration’s escalation is not the solution, and will only cause more killing and suffering for Syrian civilians. The U.S. should fully support the ongoing investigation of the chemical weapons attack and work with the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice. In all decisions about the U.S. course of action, policymakers must recognize that years of direct U.S. military intervention, support of extremist armed groups, and weapons shipments to anti-government rebels in Syria have only added fuel to the fire and put Syrian civilians in greater danger.
By Claudia Assis for Maeket Watch – Raytheon referred questions around costs to the U.S. Navy’s unmanned aviation and strike weapons program, which did not immediately return a request for comment. The missiles used on Thursday likely cost the U.S. military around $1 million, but the latest versions of the missile that would replace those could be more costly, depending on size of the order and other factors, said Loren Thompson, a consultant and chief operating officer of nonprofit Lexington Institute. President Donald Trump indicated the possibility of a policy shift on Syria during a press conference on Wednesday, after a chemical attack left dozens of Syrian citizens dead. Where may Mr. Trump be heading? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
By Jeff Desjardins for Visual Capitalist – There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week. However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History. To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget. With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017. In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops.
By Staff of Zoom In Korea – Ramsay Liem, a member of the Task Force organizing the speaking tour, spoke about the importance of highlighting the South Korean people’s anti-THAAD struggle: We will convey our solidarity with the citizens of Seongju County, South Korea and protest the THAAD deployment to officials in Washington D.C. We also want to take advantage of the tour to build stronger relations with the Boston-area peace movement and to ensure that Korea and Northeast Asia are squarely on the agenda of anti-war activists. For most Americans, Korea is a problem ‘over there.’ The deployment of THAAD in Seongju is just the latest example of U.S. intrusion into Korean affairs to further its own geopolitical interests.
By Peter Cary for Center for Public Integrity – Altogether, the survey looked at the 10 top areas of spending in Trump’s “Budget Blueprint” and found a gap of $139.6 billion between what the majority of the public would spend and what Trump has proposed. Steven Kull, PPC’s director, said he was surprised both by the extent of the gap and the fact that Trump’s proposals were at odds with the preferences of both Republicans and Democrats. In general, those who identified themselves as Republicans were more likely to favor cutting some of the spending that Trump has proposed to cut, but on a raft of areas where Trump proposed large reductions, members of his party preferred to cut less.
By Staff of Zoom In Korea – On March 18, approximately 5,000 people from across South Korea gathered in Soseong-ri, Seongju County to protest the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. The action was organized by a coalition of anti-THAAD task forces composed of residents in Seongju and Gimcheon near the deployment site, as well as the Won Buddhists, and joined by similar task forces formed in Daegu/North Gyeongsang Province and Busan/Ulsan/South Gyeongsang Province, as well as a national task force composed of peace/anti-war organizations and a long list of civic groups.
By Staff of Courage to Resist – We at Courage to Resist are reaching out to you to help imprisoned Army soldier Ryan Johnson and his wife Jenna. We’re helping them get on their feet upon Ryan’s expected May release from Miramar Brig in Southern California. Your support is critical to help them begin their next chapter. Ryan Johnson hasn’t gotten many easy breaks. He lost his father at the age of three. Growing up he would face years of abuse at the hands of a new stepfather. As a teen Ryan escaped into patterns of drug abuse, self-harm, and finally dropped out of high school. Now he endures insult of military imprisonment after literal injury serving the US armed forces. This pall of unfortunate circumstances doesn’t mean there isn’t light in Ryan’s life. He has persevered, with his compassion, kindness, and conscience intact.
By Joseph Gerson for Global Campaign On Military Spending – Trump and Congressional Republicans are preparing to eliminate any restraints in the Pentagon’s budget, while also reducing spending for essential social services, from housing and medical care to environmental protection to education. Projected cuts in social services could be as hight as $10.5 trillion over the coming decade. Even without the proposed increases in military spending, the Pentagon’s budget equals the combined total of the world’s next eight largest military spenders. Add to this the “Overseas Contingency Operation” funding for the military interventions from Syria and Iraq to Libya and Yemen, Department of Energy spending for nuclear weapons, and the black budget for “intelligence”
By Jason Ditz for Anti War – The US has announced its intention of permanently deploying a company of Grey Eagle drones capable of firing Hellfire Missiles, to South Korea, along the border with North Korea. Officials are saying they’ll provide “surveillance” capabilities. Yet the fact that they chose to send a missile-capable drone suggests surveillance isn’t the primary goal of this deployment. The Trump Administration has already shown an interest in escalating the use of drones to attack targets in places that are not directly part of current US military operations. While the US throwing more military forces at the Korean Peninsula is nothing new…
By Lee Chul-Jae and Lee Sung-Eun for Korea Joongang Daily – Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, better known as the SEAL Team 6, will arrive in South Korea soon for joint military drills and take part in an exercise simulating the removal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to the Ministry of National Defense Monday. The counterterrorism unit is best known for its removal of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, known as Operation Neptune Spear. It will be the team’s first time participating in the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, which will run through late April. The ministry did not say when the SEAL Team 6 will arrive.
By Michael Caster for Waging Nonviolence – On October 17, Hiroji Yamashiro was arrested for cutting a wire fence at a protest against a U.S. military base in Okinawa. He has been held in detention ever since. Yamashiro, the chairman of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, has been a fixture of the nonviolent opposition to military base expansion on the island for years. The 64-year-old Yamashiro had undergone cancer treatment in 2015, and medical tests two months into his detention revealed a decline in his health. Nevertheless, since his arrest almost five months ago, he has been held in pre-trial detention — mostly in solitary confinement, denied bail and any contact with his family.
By Carey Wedler for Anti-Media – When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush’s drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama’s presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties were not the intended targets. Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama’s “peaceful” presidency.
By Christine Ahn for Korean Women Take On Trump – U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently made the Trump administration’s first overseas trip. His destination: South Korea and Japan. Coming on the heels of Donald Trump’s loud complaints about America’s “freeloading” allies, Mattis was there to assure South Korean and Japanese officials of America’s commitment to the trilateral security alliance between the three countries. Yet Trump is hardly the only critic of Washington’s military alliances in the region. Civil society organizations in the region have long complained about their governments’ deference to the United States, from challenging U.S. military bases to warning against policies that could draw their countries into a superpower conflict between Washington and Beijing. In South Korea, Mattis’ first stop, women demanding genuine human security are at the forefront of the resistance.