China: Inside Xi Jinping’s Plan to Dominate the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Inside Xi Jinping’s Plan to Dominate the World

Elizabeth Economy’s “The Third Revolution” makes the case that China is most dangerous in the realm of ideas.

Man with a plan.

Photographer:  Ikegami Madoka/Getty Images

Who is the most important and disruptive leader in the world today? Most Americans would probably answer, Donald Trump — with Russia’s Vladimir Putin running a close second. But my choice for the must-read book of 2018, Elizabeth C. Economy’s “The Third Revolution,” makes a strong case that China’s Xi Jinping may deserve the title.

Under Xi’s leadership since 2012, an increasingly powerful China has begun throwing its weight around in ways that have led international observers to fear the emergence of a new Cold War — or perhaps even a new hot war — with the U.S. Xi has more candidly announced China’s ambitions to take center stage in world affairs than any leader since Mao Zedong; he has also amassed greater personal power than any Chinese leader since Mao. Economy’s book traces Xi’s influence and ambitions through an exhaustive reading of his speeches as well as an astute knowledge of Chinese politics and policy. It should be required reading not just for China-watchers but for anyone interested in U.S.-China relations and the future of world order.

Economy, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, catalogs the changes China has experienced under Xi: The replacement of collective leadership with personalized rule, the constriction of the political system, the efforts to tightly restrict the flow of ideas into China while expanding the stream of ideas and influence rushing out of it. Economy is also a reliable guide to Xi’s seemingly contradictory efforts to stimulate game-changing, high-tech innovation while also steadily increasing the role of the Communist Party in China’s economy and society.

Turning from the domestic to the foreign, Economy provides a concise discussion of China’s expanding military footprint, push to create new international institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, launching of the Belt and Road Initiative and other major geo-economic projects, increasing use of coercive diplomacy toward its neighbors, and other efforts to project influence not just in the Asia-Pacific but globally. All of these undertakings seem impressive at first glance, and Xi’s vision seems to be carrying the day in Chinese politics for now. But as Economy reminds us, all the elements of his agenda — from his grab for unchallenged individual authority to his drive for greater power and prestige overseas — carry the danger of provoking a backlash, whether from dissatisfied rivals at home or wary competitors abroad, that could ultimately waylay Xi’s “Chinese Dream.”

Perhaps the most valuable part of the book takes us from the realm of hard power to the realm of ideas. As Economy points out, Xi is advancing an ambitious ideological vision: “A uniquely Chinese model” that will “perhaps become a standard bearer for other countries disenchanted with the American and European models of liberal democracy.” That model may seem to cut against the flow of the post-World War II era, in which the world has become progressively more democratic. Yet it actually fits quite well with the more recent propensity of things, as democracy has receded, the allure of the American liberal-capitalist model has faded, China’s economic performance has wowed developing countries around the world, and authoritarian ideas make a resurgence. Economy’s book is thus a useful reminder that of all the ways China is testing American leadership, this ideological challenge may ultimately be the most important, and the hardest, for the U.S. to handle.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Hal Brands at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tobin Harshaw at [email protected]

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution


Ukraine - the first day after "victory" at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Ukraine – the first day after “victory” at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money.”

FALSE

Claim that U.S. funded “coup” in Ukraine long-since disproven

On Thursday December 20, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told theTASS news agency that the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine, set for March 31, 2019, is further straining bilateral relations with Russia.

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko has to win electoral support by all means, because the approval of him is low compared to the rivals who have overtaken him in the electoral rating. And this is exactly what he is doing, and this is clearly visible to us all,” Peskov said.

Peskov said that despite Poroshenko’s “relatively weak electoral positions,” the United States was stuck “babysitting” him on account of the sunk cost fallacy.

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money,” Peskov said.

Kremlin officials and the state media in Russia label the popular pro-EU uprising in Ukraine a “coup” when in reality the movement was civilian in nature and involved no military support.

Claiming Washington is waiting for its investment in Ukraine to “yield dividends,” Peskov said the U.S. “did not quite succeed” and now needs to do its best “to save the situation.”

“Washington has to support Poroshenko and turn a blind eye to the real situation, which is exactly what it is doing now,” he said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared following a November 25 incident, in which three Ukrainian ships attempting to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov were fired on and then captured by Russian vessels.

Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts
Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts

The following day, martial law was introduced in Ukraine for 30 days in the 10 regions that would be on the front lines of a military conflict with Russia.

Russian media and officials have argued that Poroshenko provoked the incident in the Sea of Azov as a pretext to introduce martial law and buoy his electoral prospects.

No media source currently available

0:001:230:43

During his annual year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Poroshenko had sent Ukrainian servicemen to die in the Sea of Azov to provoke Russia and boost his approval ratings.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to claim that Kyiv is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Peskov’s claim that the U.S. funded the “coup” in Ukraine is false.

While not stated explicitly, his comment is likely based on a claim promulgated by Russian state media that the U.S. invested $5 billion in the Ukrainian uprising.

Politifact reported the claim stems from a December 2013 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency promoting democracy in Ukraine.

In that speech, Nuland said that the United States had invested over $5 billion since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to help the country “build democratic skills and institutions” so it can “achieve its European aspirations.”

As Brian Bohm noted in the Moscow Times in May 2014: “U.S. law prohibits the funding of opposition leaders and movements, and there have been no violations of this law in Ukraine.”

Since the annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed war erupted in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance.

In July, the Pentagon told CNN it had released $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

In March, the U.S. State Department formally approved the sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and 37 launchers for an estimated cost of $47 million. That was the first time lethal military aid to Kyiv has been approved.

Citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Council on Foreign Relations said the U.S. had spent $49 billion on foreign aid in 2016, around 1.2 percent of the federal budget. That included security and military assistance.

USAID, which put total U.S. obligations at $50 billion that year, said $513 million, or roughly 1% of the total, had gone to Ukraine.

The idea that U.S. support for Ukraine is based strictly on a need to “recoup an investment” and not on broader security issues in the region does not appear to be supported by the data.

As for Peskov’s argument that the U.S. funded the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, Polygraph.info finds that claim to be false.

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

 

Folks this is simply the thoughts of an old man, roll with it where you will, or not. Time, age, it does give one advantage to the times people see fads come and go. I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the package but I do enjoy history and memories what one sees and understands often come from that. This article to you tonight is strictly a ‘what if’ letter and damn, I sure hope I’m wrong.

 

What If, what if President Trump is considered to be at the weakest point of his Presidency right now? What if right now even our Allies have no trust at all in Mr. Trump’s Leadership or even worse, if they consider the U.S. to now be a likely enemy? Now our real Enemies challenge U.S. authority all over the globe, Russia has been pushing the “West” for a fight over Crimea and now over the mainland of Ukraine, Mr. Putin has installed several hundred tanks facing Ukraine along their Border. Russian Naval Ships have fired on boarded and taken control of Ukraine Naval Ships.

 

If Mr. Putin and President Xi Jinping decided on a date over this Christmas Holiday to coordinate an attack on two fronts, first with Russia doing an all out attack on Ukraine and second, China doing an all out assault on Taiwan. Then of course this day would happen to be the time Hamas does an all out assault on Israel from the south and also the day Hezbollah does the same into northern Israel. My question is how would the U.S. Government and Military handle these situations, or could they in any real way enter into a WW3 situation, and win? There would also be the reality of every Three-Bit Dictator attacking whomever they choose all around the world. If the U.S. had great leaders would they take this kind of a chance? The reality is, we don’t have a mentally competent Leader in the Oval Office. So, what would happen if all of this occurred? You know folks, there is one thing that the world seems to forget about. Folks wake up, all of our ‘ways of life’ can change is just a fraction of a second with one bright flash up in the skies.

 

As I said, this was just a ‘what if’ theory and all I can honestly say is, I sure hope I’m Wrong!

In Syria withdrawal, Trump discards advice from allies and officials

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

In Syria withdrawal, Trump discards advice from allies and officials

GOP senators give Pence ‘earful’ on Syria 03:11

Washington (CNN)Seated at the head of his Situation Room conference table, President Donald Trump was adamant: American troops must come home from Syria. He had just announced as much to a crowd in Ohio. The assembled military and national security advisers told him the move was rash and unwise. So he gave them six months.

Eight months later, planning for the withdrawal is now underway — against the advice of those same officials, who warned in April that Russia and Iran would gain stronger footholds in Syria when the US presence there evaporates.
On Capitol Hill, even some of Trump’s GOP allies were warning of a grave mistake.
“My sense is that it’s been a shock through the administration that this was made,” Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker told reporters on Wednesday after returning from the White House, where he had traveled to meet with Trump but was told as he waited the meeting was canceled.
“It’s hard to imagine that any president would wake up and make this kind of decision with this little communication, with this little preparation,” Corker said. “I mean, my understanding is that we’re beginning to move out right now.”
Hurried discussions continued Wednesday about the timing and pace of the troop withdrawal, which the White House said has already begun. The announcement lacked the formality of previous presidents’ declarations they would remove troops from war zones: the White House did not schedule any presidential remarks nor provide any concrete details of the decision.

A ‘total surprise’

IP Syria_00043423

Play Video

U.S. preparing for “full” and “rapid” withdrawal from Syria 08:09
In conversations over the past several days, top presidential advisers have counseled Trump that withdrawing personnel from Syria would amount to a retreat from the region and allow adversarial nations to gain influence. Those cautioning against a rapid and immediate withdrawal included Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Diplomatic sources from two countries in the region said their countries were not consulted or informed, and described the news of the planned withdrawal as a “total surprise.”
Trump did alert one key ally two days ahead of the announcement: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a phone call with Trump on Monday, and a subsequent conversation with Pompeo on Tuesday, the US leaders assured him the Americans had “other ways of expressing their influence in the area,” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
In a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans, lawmakers gave Vice President Mike Pence an “earful” about the decision, according to Corker.
Speaking afterward, Corker said he felt badly for the vice president, who was acting as an emissary to angry lawmakers.
“He had talking points,” Corker said. “There’s no way he could really defend. He did what a loyal soldier would do.”
Trump’s top ally in the Senate, Sen. Lindsay Graham, was firmer.
“I want you to tell the President directly that this is a huge mistake,” he said he told Pence. “You are putting in motion ISIS getting a foothold again. They are not defeated.”
Pence addressed the issue by saying Trump “made a commitment to get out of foreign entanglements,” Graham said. But the vice president himself ignored reporters’ questions on the matter, instead staring ahead blankly as he departed.
It was an astonishing level of pushback from Republicans who, time and again, have avoided overt criticism of their party’s leader. It reflected deep unease among national security experts and advisers about the decision to abruptly withdraw troops from Syria without consulting members of Congress or gathering consensus among the administration’s national security team.

It was Trump’s decision

Graham on Syria: This is a high-risk strategy

Play Video

Graham on Syria: This is a high-risk strategy 02:39
An administration official briefing reporters on Wednesday insisted anyone caught off guard by the decision hasn’t been paying attention. But the official did not dispute that some of the President’s top advisers were opposed to the withdrawal.
“The President’s statements on this topic have been 100% consistent from the campaign through his announcement today, so I think the notion that anyone within the administration was caught unaware, I would challenge that, quite frankly,” the official said. “It was the President’s decision to make and he made it.”
Still, the decision only highlighted discrepancies among administration officials over the future of the roughly 2,000 troops deployed in the country.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this month that the US needed to train thousands of local fighters to ensure a lasting defeat of the terror group. Only last week, the US special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk said US forces would remain in Syria even after the terror group was defeated.
“I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring,” he said on December 11.
And in September, Bolton told reporters on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly that US troops would remain in Syria to counter Iran.
“We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” Bolton said.
Pressed about whether Bolton’s comments were still applicable, the senior administration official suggested previous statements no longer applied.
“The issue here is that the President has made a decision, and so previous statements … he gets to do that, that’s his prerogative,” said the official, briefing reporters during a call organized by the White House.
The official could not provide a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops nor say whether the US would continue to carry out airstrikes in Syria, instead referring questions to the Pentagon.
“It’s not information I have,” the official said.
If administration officials and Trump’s allies in Congress were distressed by the decision, however, there was little excuse for them to be surprised. Trump has long railed against foreign entanglements begun by his predecessors and vowed this spring to bring American troops home.
“We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” he said in April, comments that prompted a hurried effort at the Pentagon and in the National Security Council to convince the President that an immediate withdrawal could throw the region into chaos.
When military brass sought to dissuade him, he grew frustrated and complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in the region, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return, according to senior administration officials.

‘Beside themselves’

Despite his annoyance, Trump eventually agreed to hold off on immediately pulling troops from the war-plagued nation, even after airing his displeasure with top national security officials. At one stage, Dunford asked the President to state explicitly what he wanted to see happen in Syria, according to an administration official.
The President responded by saying US troops need to finish their mission against ISIS in Syria within six months, a timeline military officials — including Mattis — warned would be too short, according to the administration official. Trump responded by telling his team to just get it done.
One person familiar with the meeting said attendees left “beside themselves” about how a hasty withdrawal and cutting of funds for recovery projects like restoring water and power and rebuilding roads could affect the future of Syria, and make it more likely that ISIS could return to prominence.
Derek Chollet, a former US assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration, said much of Washington, including administration officials, lawmakers and Iran hawks have been the victims of “wishful thinking” when it comes to Trump.
“We’ve learned over and over, on issue after issue, that the President has his views, his instincts and that the administration is more often than not on a different page,” Chollet said. “He’s shown time and again he doesn’t listen to logic or reason.”
Advocates of a traditional hawkish GOP foreign policy have been “rationalizing that Donald Trump was going to ratchet up the pressure on Syria,” said Chollet, now an executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund, when Trump has long said he would pull out of the country, which has been ravaged by a civil war that started in 2011.
“He campaigned on this, he talked about it at a rally,” Chollet said of Trump’s desire to end US involvement in Syria. “This has been hiding in plain sight. He has been consistent on this issue.”

A Comment From A CBS Viewer Of Director Comey’s Interview: I Agree With Him

 

 

R.A. Dalton
It is about damn time! I am a 63 year old moderate independent voter and a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant (1972-1993). The United States getting militarily involved in Syria and supporting anti-al-Assad forces was a major foreign and military policy blunder. What we need here is REALPOLITIK. We cannot afford this type of brinkmanship, especially over a country and people who have NEVER been in our sphere of interest in any way, nor possess anything of value to us. Syria has been a major and close Russian ally since at least 1956. Those who think Russia is bluffing about defending the al-Assad regime, even if it means armed conflict with the United States, are sadly mistaken here. As the 1973 Yom Kippur war showed very clearly, Russia is willing to commit large scale ground forces, and risk conflict with the United States, in order to preserve the al-Assad regime, if they feel it is threatened with overthrow or destruction – a lesson we seem to have forgotten. While I would agree that destroying ISIS was and is a worthwhile military and foreign policy goal, it should have been done at the invitation of the present Syrian government and in cooperation with Russia. It also should have also been done cleanly using our own military forces instead of the questionable rebels we currently back, and who very much have their own agenda. While I would readily agree that the al-Assad regime are not nice folks, neither are half the other government leaders of this world – yet we do business on a day-to-day basis with many of them. I know this to be a fact as I served at both SHAPE HQ and with the School of the Americas during my military career. It is not for us in the United States to decide when a regime needs to go. It is for their own people to decide. We have unilaterally invaded a foreign country who is a close ally of Russia and are supporting forces dedicated to the overthrow of the present regime. How would we react if Russia had done this to one of our longtime allies and what lengths would we be willing to go to stop that? The day Russia decided to commit military ground and air forces to Syria to prop up the al-Assad Regime we should have folded our hand and pulled out our own forces and ended our support of the rebels. Make no mistake here. We cannot win this conflict or achieve the end we seek, ie; regime change, as long as Russia supports the current regime. Even if we do manage to get rid of al-Assad, what happens after that? Our record of regime change in places like Iraq and Libya over the last few decades does not make me feel optimistic about the future of a post al-Assad Syria. Make no mistake here. If we keep this up it will eventually lead to direct armed conflict with Russia. Is the terrible price of a new world war worth Syria? It is time to end our involvement in Syria now, before it is too late! For more on what happened during the Yom Kippur war with Russia see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War#Soviet_threat_of_intervention

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Ted Savage

Mr. Dalton, I enjoyed the read so I am going to do a copy paste of what you wrote. I believe that there are many other folks who think as you have written above. I forgot to mention, I am going to copy paste your message onto my blog site at truthtroubles.wordpress.com

Putin Raising Likelihood of War, Ukrainian Navy Chief Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT)

Does Putin Want WW3?

Analysts predict an ‘imminent’ surge in conflict between Russia and Ukraine in and around the Black Sea.By Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security WriterDec. 12, 2018, at 10:23 a.m.More

Ukrainian Admiral: Putin Raising Likelihood of WarMore

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a narrow-format meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, onlookers say.ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/POOL/TASS

RUSSIA APPEARS POISED to escalate hostilities in Ukraine, according to a new analysis – signs of an uptick in the broader war that the country’s top naval officer says is directed exclusively by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is extremely centralized power in Russia. Everything is in the hands of Mr. Putin,” Ukrainian Vice Adm. Ihor Voronchenko tells U.S. News.[ 

SEE: The Week in Cartoons for Dec. 10-14 ]

Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors and seamen on Wednesday remained in Russian custody following a November encounter between the two countries’ navies and security forces in the Black Sea. Russian ships have also blocked access to the Black and Azov seas, limiting Ukraine’s ability to use critical commercial ports and raising the specter of war following four years of simmering conflict.

“I can say with 100 percent probability, all command and control in this operation was run from Moscow. Not Rostov, not Crimea. Everything was given instructions by Mr. Putin,” Voronchenko says.

Russia’s latest activity has followed a monthslong, intense propaganda campaign seeking to spread disinformation about Western activity in Ukraine – home to a U.S.-led military training mission in place since Russia began supporting separatist rebels in the country’s east in 2014. Moscow appears prepared to escalate the conflict.

RELATED CONTENTU.S. Moves to Defy Russia in Black Sea

During a meeting last week, NATO members did not agree on a unified response to Russia’s latest activities, though the U.S. has begun preparations potentially to sail a naval vessel into the Black Sea in defiance of what it considers Russian aggression. American aircraft have also stepped up surveillance flights, including at least one through Ukrainian airspace as an affront to Moscow and show of support for Kiev.

“Russia will likely escalate militarily against Ukraine imminently,” Catherine Harris and Mason Clark, members of the Institute for the Study of War’s research team, wrote in a Tuesday analysis.

“Russia likely perceives the lack of a unified NATO response to Moscow’s aggression in the Sea of Azov as an opportunity to escalate against Ukraine and elsewhere in the future,” they wrote. “None of the responses are likely sufficient to deter Putin, whereas the disagreement itself will likely embolden him.”

Russia has moved ground units nearer its border with Ukraine in recent days, according to the ISW report, and deployed new ships to the Black Sea under the auspices of preparing for training exercises. It has also reportedly begun a propaganda campaign designed to alarm the populations in Ukraine about a Western attack.[ 

READ: U.S. Issues Nuclear Ultimatum to Russia ]

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander and head of U.S. armed forces in Europe, was scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, in Azerbaijan on Wednesday “to promote military predictability and transparency.”

Voronchenko says Putin appears frustrated and surprised because the Russian leader does not understand why Western countries have responded so intensely to these particular events.

“Now he is extremely nervous, and he’s like a rat in the [corner] of a dark room. He doesn’t know what to do,” the admiral says.

Voronchenko says he has been in email contact with at least one of the detained sailors, who said this week that his morale remains high, though he’s tired of listening to the Russian music his captors offer.

One of the captives was reportedly supposed to begin training to command one of two retired U.S. Coast Guard cutters that Ukraine received in September to add to its modest fleet of naval vessels. Bohdan Nebylytsia was a cadet at the Ukrainian naval academy in Sevastopol, Crimea, when the strategic peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 – a move Western countries say was illegal. He was among those who refused to side with the Russian occupiers, a spokeswoman at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., says, adding that he sang the Ukrainian national anthem at the Russian flag-raising ceremony.

Voronchenko met with defense officials at the Pentagon on Thursday and was scheduled to meet Navy Chief of Staff Adm. John Richardson on Friday to discuss a new naval strategy Kiev released earlier this year and to plan for countering the threat posed by Russia.

“The U.S. government continues to work closely with our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to support Ukraine in its pursuit of a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the ongoing Russian aggression, including Russia’s recent unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon says. “DoD leaders will reiterate the U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters, as well as the right of its vessels to traverse international waters.”

The new strategy focuses on modernizing the Ukrainian navy and coastal defenses and coordinating with NATO for exercises in and around the Black Sea.

“These steps and others, I think, demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment, and we are currently considering additional ways the United States might assist Ukraine to further develop its maritime capacity,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said at a security conference in Kiev on Nov. 29.Updated on Dec. 13, 2018: This story has been updated with additional details about meetings between U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security Writer

Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow h…  READ MORE

Tags: RussiaUkraineworld newsforeign policyVladimir PutinNATO

Wilfred DeFour, 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, dies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Wilfred DeFour, 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, dies

Tuskegee Airman Wilfred DeFour with Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, in New York in 2012.

(CNN) Wilfred DeFour, who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, was found dead Saturday in New York. He was 100.

New York police said officers responded to a 911 call to a residence in Harlem and found a man identified as DeFour unconscious and unresponsive. There were no obvious signs of trauma, police said, and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
DeFour attended a ceremony last month for the renaming of a Harlem post office in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, CNN affiliate WABC reported.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the US service corps. They trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Macon County, Alabama.
“I regret so many of my comrades are no longer here with us,” DeFour said, according to WABC. “It will mean there’s recognition for Tuskegee Airmen and that’s very important.”
The group was generally said to include pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff who went through a US Army Air Corps training program to bring African-Americans into the war effort, according to Tuskegee Airmen Inc., a group devoted to the history of the airmen.
DeFour was an aircraft technician during World War II, WABC said. After the war, he worked for the US Postal Service for 33 years.

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for Reporters

A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A woman in the poor mountain village of Al Juberia, Yemen. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

SANA, Yemen — At a restaurant in the Yemeni capital, Sana, a waiter brought bowls of slow-cooked lamb served with mounds of rice. For dessert there was kunafa, the classic Arab dish of golden brown pastry filled with cheese.

An hour later I was back at work, in a hushed hospital ward filled with malnourished children with skeletal faces, hanging between life and death for want of money and a good meal.

If that juxtaposition strikes you as jarring, even distasteful, it felt that way to me, too.

Crisis zones are often places of stark contrast, but in Yemen the gulf is particularly uncomfortable. The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available.

Years of blockades, bombs and soaring inflation have crushed the economy. A crushed state means there is no safety net.

As a result, beggars congregate outside supermarkets filled with goods; markets are filled with produce in towns where the hungry eat boiled leaves; and restaurants selling rich food are a few hundred yards from hunger wards filled with desperation, pain and death.

For a reporter, that brings a dilemma. Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation. A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?

It’s a question some readers asked after we published a recent article on Yemen’s looming famine.

Many were touched by a powerful photograph by Tyler Hicks of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old girl whose haunting stare brought the war’s human cost into shocking focus.

And many were devastated to learn that, soon after we left, Amal’s mother brought her back to the shabby refugee camp they call home, where she died a few days later.

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
Amal Hussain, who died at age 7 from malnutrition soon after this photograph was taken.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Some, in their anguish, turned the focus back on us.

Why didn’t we do something to save Amal’s life, they wanted to know. Did we just take the photo, conduct the interview and move on? Couldn’t we have somehow ensured that her family would get help?

“You can take the picture AND provide assistance,” one woman said on Twitter. “One doesn’t rule out the other.”

The questions resonated. Reporters are trained to bear witness; aid workers and doctors have the job of helping people.

Donating money, or other forms of assistance, can be fraught with ethical, moral and practical complications. Is it fair to single out one person or family for help? What if they embellish their story for the next foreigner who comes along, thinking they could get more money?

Plus, we have a job to do.

Doctors show us around, and sometimes we end up acting like them — examining stick-like limbs and flaccid skin with clinical detachment; tabulating figures about weight and age; listening as families recount their tragedies with amazing calm. The prospect of death is discussed. We nod sagely, make a note, move on.

But while we may try to mimic a stone, we are not stones, and every day in Yemen someone told me something that made a lump rise in my throat.

COMMENT OF THE MOMENT

Sandra commented November 30

Sandra
Times Pick

Let’s cut to the chase and get the U.N. and it’s agencies in there. Just do it. The USA should be spear heading the effort. War between armies is one thing. War on starving people is quite another….no grey area! NONE!

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Usually it was a mundane detail, like the lack of a few dollars to take a dying child to the hospital. Yemen, you realize, is a country where people are dying for lack of a taxi fare.

An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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An injured Yemeni fighter with the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is battling Iran-allied Houthis for control of Yemen at a field hospital in Durayhimi.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Yemenis have to navigate such terrain, too.

While some are dying, others are getting on with living. One night we returned to our hotel in Hajjah, a town ringed by rocky ridges in a province that has been pummeled by Saudi airstrikes. Lying in bed, I was startled by a loud bang then a burst of light that filled the sky — not a bomb, but fireworks.

Since the start of the war, the rate of marriage in Yemen has gone up. And so, in this town where malnourished infants were perishing at the city hospital, others were dancing and celebrating through the night.

But the surge in weddings, it turned out, was a survival mechanism.

Across the social spectrum, Yemenis are sliding down the poverty ladder. Where once a mother bought a sack of rice to feed her family, now she can afford only a small bag. The hand of a daughter in marriage brings a bride price, and so weddings can be a source of income for stretched families.

Disturbingly, many of the brides are children. According to Unicef, two-thirds of Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18, up from 50 percent before the war.

As we crossed Yemen — from the battle-scarred port of Hudaydah to the Houthi-held mountains — on a bumpy 900-mile journey, we saw scenes of heartbreaking suffering that unfolded against a backdrop of spectacular mountains, and customs that stubbornly endure despite everything.

Every day, town centers bustled with men buying khat, the narcotic leaf beloved by Yemenis. The khat bazaars are a social event. Men, some with guns over their shoulders, gather to trade news, meet friends and prepare for the afternoon chew.

Women in black cloaks flitted between them; in one place, a loud argument erupted into fisticuffs. Even as starvation bites, some are reluctant to cut back on their habit.

In one health clinic, Ibrahim Junaid, a worried father standing over his ailing 5-month-old son, was chewing a lump of khat that left a green stain on his teeth and lips.

Mr. Junaid was 60; his wife, 25, stood silently by his side. The nurses wrapped the boy in a gold foil blanket to keep him warm.

Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Junaid, 60, and his wife Zahra Ali Ahmed, 25, taking their son, Ahmed Ibrahim al Junaid, 5 months old, to a clinic to treat his malnutrition.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Mr. Junaid regretted that his son hadn’t enough to eat, adding that he had a lot of mouths to feed; he had married twice, and fathered 13 children.

The value of practices like chewing khat may be hard to understand in such turbulent times. But for men like Mr. Junaid, it is an integral part of their day. And it is a mark of the resilience of an ancient society, one of the oldest civilizations of the Middle East.

“People say Yemen is in a state of chaos, but it’s not,” said Thierry Durand, an aid worker who has worked in Yemen since the 1980s, and now runs a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Mocha. “There is still structure.”

“You can’t put it in three lines in your paper or describe it in three minutes on TV,” he continued. “This country is structured by family, tribe, traditions — and despite everything, those structures are still there, and they are strong.”

Still, Yemeni society is being ravaged by war. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, aided by American bombs, have killed thousands of civilians, and displaced many more. But for most Yemenis, war strikes their lives in quieter, more insidious ways.

Bombs blow up bridges or factories, killing jobs, causing the currency to crumble and prices to soar, and forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables. Soon, they are dependent on international food aid or, in the worst cases, resort to meals of boiled leaves.

A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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A bridge in Bani Hassan was damaged by a Saudi airstrike.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Small but vital things, like a cab fare, become unattainable.

As we drove away from the small hospital in Aslam, where Amal Hussain was being treated, we passed a young couple hitching a ride on the side of the road. They were holding a small infant. We stopped and offered them a ride.

They squeezed into the passenger seat — the father, Khalil Hadi, enveloped by the black cloak of his wife, Hanna, who held their fragile 9-month-old son, Wejdan, who had just been released from the malnutrition ward.

Theirs was a typical story. Their home near the Saudi border had been bombed, so they rented a room in a house near Aslam. Mr. Hadi tried to earn money driving a motorbike taxi, and by foraging for wood to sell at the market.

But it wasn’t enough, and when he tried to go home, the Houthi soldiers told him the area was a military zone. Their diet was reduced to bread, tea and halas, the vine that grew locally. His wife was four months pregnant with their second child.

Mr. Hadi wasn’t looking for pity; many people were in similar trouble, he said. “I’d do anything to make some money,” he said. “The situation is so hard.”

At a junction in the road, the couple stepped out, offered thanks and began to walk away. Fumbling in my pocket, I called them back.

I pulled out a wad of Yemeni notes — about $15 worth — and pressed it into his hand. It seemed so futile, in the greater scheme of things. What could it buy them? A few days respite, if even that?

Mr. Hadi accepted the money with a gracious smile. As we drove off I saw the couple amble down a dusty road, toward their shelter, their ailing son held tight.

Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
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Khalil Hadi and his pregnant wife, Itanna Hassan Massani, carrying their 9-month-old son, Wejdan, from a clinic in Aslam.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Follow Declan Walsh on Twitter:@declanwalsh

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Contrast in Crushed State Presents Journalists With Ethical Dilemma. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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To Stop WW3 Do The People Need To Kill This Batch Of The Worlds So Called Leaders?

To Stop WW3 Do The People Need To Kill This Batch Of The Worlds So Called Leaders?

 

Firstoff, because of my personal Christian beliefs I cannot condone killing anyone unless you, your family, your loved ones or your Country are being attacked with deadly force. So, for anyone to walk up to another person and kill them just because you don’t like them as a person, that would make you a murderer. We are told that we are all to pray for our Leaders, executing them is something that is not in the Scriptures. But one may well say, what about other Countries Leaders, is that allowed? Are those other Countries Leaders at war with you or with your Country? That, might be a more difficult question to answer than it seems.  If we believe that another Countries Leaders are at war with your Country, does that mean that the people of that Country are at war with you also? What about the so-called Leaders of your own Country, are they at war with you and your Country’s Constitutional rights? If you believe that they are and you cannot vote them out of positions of power, is it okay to kill them? I know, so many questions, but are there any correct answers?

 

There are many very evil people who are in positions of power all over the world, and that does include here in the U.S., can we the people ever get rid of all of them? Personally I believe that the answer to that question is no we can’t. Here in the U.S. we have evil people scattered throughout both of our Nation’s major political parties, they are not all on one side. I personally believe that there are many Nations of Earth that would love to conquer and or destroy every inch of ground that we call home, yet the same can be said for every Nation on the planet. I personally believe that President Putin of Russia is a very evil human being, I believe that he is a liar, a thief and a mass murderer and that he would love to bring an end to the United States. But, I do not believe that the vast majority of the Russian people are our enemies, I believe that their own President is their biggest enemy. I believe that Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping would love to blow the U.S. off of the World Map, but I do not believe that the vast majority of their people are our enemies either. Outside of the Nations where Demonic Religious Zealots rule, I do not consider the other people of the world to be each others enemies. Outside of these Zealots, most people of the Earth tend to want the same things, peace, safety, housing, food, good health, electricity and the trash picked up off the streets each week. I believe that it is these ‘Leaders’ that cause all of the people’s ill’s.

 

A simple solution it would seem would be to simply execute these horrible self-serving Leaders and get new ones, better ones installed, but would that really work? Could we simply lock up all of these evil Leaders? Yes, we could, but would that really do us or the World any good? Here in the U.S. if we locked up Donald the Donkey Trump and all of his household except for the First Lady and Barron his 12-year-old son, we would end up having Mike Pence as our President. I have family who lives in his home State of Indiana and I have many readers from Indiana who have told me that in their opinion Pence is even more dangerous than Trump, and that in itself is a rather scary thought. Pence, just like the Republican Party in general have very much proven to be for sale to the highest bidders but do not get me wrong on this issue, I believe just as lowly of the Democratic Party Leadership. Remember in November of 2016 we the people were given the choice of two habitual lying crooks to be our President. One was very smart (Hillary) the other a total idiot (Trump), yet both still very evil. If a Nation replaces their Leaders what are the people going to get in return, more crooks, more liars, more murderers? To me, by my beliefs, all any people of any Nation can do is to pray for worldwide peace and to never ever allow any politicians to ever take away your means of protecting your families. Yet never ever be the aggressor, the murderer, because if you become a murderer, even when it is from murdering an evil Leader, you and the one you murdered will end up in Hell together and that my friend is not winning the battle between good and evil, if you lose your Soul, you lost.

WORLD WAR 3 ALERT: Russia is ‘lining up tanks along our border’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EXPRESS NEWS)

 

WORLD WAR 3 ALERT: Russia is ‘lining up tanks along our border’ warns Ukraine

THE Ukranian President has sensationally claimed Russian military tanks are lining up along his country’s border, triggering another World War 3 alert.

Ukraine WILL defend against Russian aggression warns Klimkin

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Petro Poroshenko has shown Sky News images of what are apparently tanks gathering along the border, close to where Russia keeps its ammunition. He told the broadcaster: “This is the tank base just 18km (11 miles) from our border, this was happening in September, October, and now. This is 18km from my border, this is the same warehouse where they have their ammunition, the same where they have multi-rocket launch system, we should be prepared to protect my country.

If the whole world has no reason to trust Putin, Ukraine definitely doesn’t have a reason to go with him

Petro Poroshenko

“If the whole world has no reason to trust Putin, Ukraine definitely doesn’t have a reason to go with him.”

The Ukrainian President also appealed for help from Western leaders as tensions between the two countries threaten to boil over.

Mr Poroshenko said: “There is no red line for Vladimir Putin and this is the very strong reason why we should be together, the whole civilised world.

“Not only the leaders, with whom a very reliable partnership, but the people of UK, of Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, the whole civilised world would be together and this is very important for global security.”

READ MORE: World War 3: Ukraine digs TRENCHES and readies for Russia CLASH after martial law declared

World War 3 alert Ukraine Russia

World War 3 alert: Ukraine’s President says Russian tanks are linking up along his country’s border (Image: GETTY)

Ukraine's president says that Russia has tanks

Ukraine’s president says that Russia has tanks on the border (Image: GETTY)

This is the latest worrying developent in rising tensions between the two Soviet neighbours.

Last weekend, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crew in the Kerch Strait, accusing them of moving into their territory.

Russia has been blocking access to the strait and has so far not released the Ukrainian sailors.

Ukraine has rejected accusations of tresspassing in the Russian waters.

Ukraine's President says Russian tanks

Ukraine’s President says Russian tanks are massing on Ukraine’s border (Image: GETTY)

It added two of its ports are effectively under blockade by their Soviet neighbour in the Azov Sea, something that Moscow has denied.

Mr Poroshenko also accused Russia of “strangling” Ukraine with continuous restrictions.

He said: “They want to hit Ukraine because through Azov Sea, and our sea ports, we export about 40% of our industrial production.

“This is another step for a Russian organised embargo, only buying Ukrainian goods, switching off the natural gas, this is part of the hybrid war that Russia want to attack us.”

Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Mariupol

Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Mariupol (Image: GETTY)

Yesterday, Ukrainian troops started digging trenches after martial law was declared in the country for 30 days.

One Ukrainian soldier, Timokha, explained that due to the declaration of martial law, they were seeing a significant increase in military operations.

He said: “Under martial law, we’re watching the enemy more closely, we’ve put up more observation posts.”

The soldier explained that they were packing emergency rations and ammunition into the trenches “so if something comes up, we can counter an attack by the enemy and move in various directions, not be tied to one place”.

Ukrainian soldiers dig trenches

Ukrainian soldiers dig trenches (Image: GETTY)

Vladimir Putin to ‘pay a price’ for Ukraine aggression says MEP

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Another soldier, Trotsky, added the soldiers were feeling more threatened from the Sea of Azov following the seizure of the three Ukrainian vessels.

He said: “It’s like we’re boxed in, like we’re surrounded.”

According to Sergiy, a Ukrainian soldier stationed at Mariupol’s port, little has changed for the troops in the area because they have been ready for conflict since Crimea was annexed by Russia.

Sergiy said: “Nothing has changed for us with the introduction of martial law. We’re already into our fifth year of war.”

Additional reporting by Paul Withers.

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