Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Amid US-Iran tension, Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

‘Things are heating up,’ Yuval Steinitz warns as US aircraft carrier sails toward Persian Gulf; Iranian Guards chief dismisses US ‘psychological war’

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Israel’s energy minister, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned Sunday that escalating tensions between the US and Iran may lead the Islamic Republic to launch a missile assault against Israel.

“Things are heating up,” Yuval Steinitz told the Ynet news site. “I wouldn’t rule anything out. Iran may fire rockets at Israel.”

Steinitz added that Iran may also choose to attack Israel by activating its proxies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Gaza’s Islamic Jihad.

“The American sanctions are breaking the neck of the Iranian economy, and a new and stronger wave [of sanctions] is still to come,” he warned, suggesting that the danger was unlikely to pass in the near future.

Speaking later Sunday to the Kan state radio station, Steinitz stressed that he was not privy to any particular intelligence information on Iranian plans, but noted that Iran was facing drastic economic pressure and “anything could happen” in such a climate.

The Iranians could “go crazy” and “declare war on the whole Middle East,” he said.

There were some in Iran who recognized the imperative to dismantle their rogue nuclear program, and others who would seek to retain it in the hope that the regime could weather the current economic crisis.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at a conference in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2019. (Flash90)

Steinitz’s comments follow a report on Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday that said Israel had warned the US that Iran was contemplating targeting Saudi oil production facilities.

The unsourced report said the Iranians were “considering various hostile acts” against American or American-allied targets. Tehran had looked at targeting American bases in the Gulf, but that had been deemed too drastic a step, it claimed.

The main target then became “Saudi oil production facilities,” the report said. Such a strike would also send world oil prices soaring and enable Iran to get more income from its oil sales, the report added.

Channel 13 also quoted unnamed Arab intelligence sources as saying there was a debate raging in the Iranian leadership about striking US and US-allied targets, with some in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps pushing for attacks, including against Israeli targets, while others cautioned that it would be “suicidal” to get into a serious military conflict with the US.

Earlier last week, the same channel was the first to report that the Israeli Mossad had tipped off the White House two weeks ago about an Iranian plan to attack either a US or US-allied target. That earlier report did not specify potential targets for such an ostensible attack.

The US responded to the reported message, and to escalating rhetoric from Tehran, by saying it was moving significant military assets into the region, including an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, leading a larger naval strike group, sailed through the Suez Canal toward the Persian Gulf late last week.

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On Friday, the US Maritime Administration warned that Iran could try to attack American commercial vessels, including oil tankers, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the move was dismissed by the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as “psychological war.”

The Pentagon’s deployment of the USS Lincoln, Major General Hossein Salami told lawmakers at a parliament session in Tehran, was part of the American military’s regular rotation schedule.

“Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” Reuters quoted parliamentary leadership spokesman Behrouz Nemati as saying, summarizing Salami’s comments to the parliament’s ICANA news site.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened a “swift and decisive” American response to any attack by Iran.

In this undated photo released by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran (Sepahnews via AP)

“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,” he said.

The Pentagon also said Friday that the US would move a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.

An American official said the decision to send in more forces was based in part on intelligence indicating that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.

The moves have frightened some European allies as well as US President Donald Trump’s Democratic rivals, who fear the administration is pushing for war based on overhyped intelligence.

Illustrative: Iranian Navy exercise in 2011. (CC BY, Mohammad Sadegh Heydari, Wikimedia Commons)

Pompeo, who canceled a trip to Greenland to rush back to Washington last week, said, “We do not seek war. But Iran’s 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Meanwhile Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the United States Naval Forces Central Command, told Reuters he would bring the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln through the Gulf’s sensitive Strait of Hormuz if need be.

“If I need to bring it inside the strait, I will do so,” Malloy said. “I’m not restricted in any way, I’m not challenged in any way, to operate her anywhere in the Middle East.”

Iran on Wednesday said it would suspend some commitments under a 2015 nuclear accord rejected by Trump, frustrated that renewed US sanctions have prevented the country from enjoying the economic fruits of compliance with the deal.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said he sought talks with Iran.

“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask.”

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Trump also said Washington was not looking for a conflict with Tehran, but refused to divulge why the carrier had been dispatched.

“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” Trump said, according to Reuters. “They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places.”

Asked about the possibility of a military confrontation, he said, “I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen.”

Trump Reportedly Thought General Dunford Made $5 Million A Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TASK AND PURPOSE)

 

Trump Reportedly Thought General Dunford Made $5 Million A Year
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President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know how members of the military are paid, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, now the White House Chief of Staff, has told others in the administration that Trump once guessed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was pulling in $5 million a year, according to The Post.

Kelly, who the Post described as startled, informed the president he made under $200,000.

Everyone in the military, from private to general, is paid according to a standard table that increases based on pay grade and time in service. A private just joining the Army, for example, takes in just under $20,000 in base pay.

Meanwhile, Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, a four-star general with 41 years of service, rakes in $189,600 in base pay. He could be making more than that if he is also taking advantage of a basic allowance for housing or other incentive pays, but obviously, it’s not going to be anywhere close to $5 million.

Still, according to the Post, Trump noted Dunford had four stars and “suggested he get a large raise.”

Donald Trump: What I am Most Thankful On Thanksgiving is: Myself

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Donald Trump said he was most thankful for himself on Thanksgiving as he spent the holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The president was on a phone call with members of the media and the military early Thursday morning when one reporter asked him what he was “most thankful for” this year.

“For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” Trump responded. “I made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you won’t believe it.”

The president continued, adding, “And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders, they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago. Made a lot of progress.”

His response contrasted sharply with that of his Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, who said on Wednesday that he was thankful for the future “generation of leaders.”

“I am grateful for the next generation of leaders—the young people who are tolerant, creative, idealistic and doing the work to create the world as it should be. Who understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving,” Obama posted on Twitter.

Obama’s comment came after he made a surprise appearance at a Chicago food bank, where he volunteered ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

trump/thanksgiving/phone/call/militaryPresident Donald Trump speaks to military members via teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22. Trump told reporters on the call that he was most thankful for the “tremendous job” he’s doing for the country.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On the phone call Thursday morning, Trump also addressed American service members who were spending Thanksgiving at the southern border awaiting the arrival of the migrant caravan. The president has ordered nearly 6,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan of asylum-seekers, which Trump claimed, with no evidence, was filled with dangerous gang members, drug dealers and terrorists.

During the holiday call, Trump took the opportunity to slam the federal courts for ruling against his decisions on immigration. He directly referred to the judge who had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the White House from barring immigrants who crossed the border illegally from seeking asylum.

“It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. He also gave the military permission to use lethal force along the border.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Trump gave tribute to the military members overseas, police officers, first responders and firefighters, saying: “These are brave people, these are great people, these are special people.”

Trump says ‘good time’ for a government shutdown if no money for border wall

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump says ‘good time’ for a government shutdown if no money for border wall

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday that this would be a “good time” for a government shutdown if he doesn’t get funding from Congress for his border wall.

“I think probably, if I was ever going to do a shutdown over border security, when you look at the caravans, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown,” Trump said.
Trump added, however, that he didn’t think a shutdown would “be necessary, because I think the Democrats will come to their senses.”
Congress averted a government shutdown in September by passing a massive spending bill to fund a large portion of the government. The package did not, however, include money for Trump’s border wall, and Congress passed a shorter-term spending bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, among other agencies, until December 7.
With the midterm elections now over, Congress is anticipating returning to a battle over funding for Trump’s promised border wall before the December deadline. Since most of the government is funded, Congress will be trying to avoid a partial shutdown.
Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan predicted a “big fight” over border security on the horizon, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP is “committed” to working to secure the funding the President wants for his signature campaign pledge.
Congress allocated $1.6 billion for border security in a spending bill enacted in March.
At a White House event in August, Trump said he was looking for about $5 billion for the wall to cover this fiscal year, which some Democrats have already said they would vote against.

Military border mission

Trump also said Saturday that the US military will remain at the US-Mexico border “as long as necessary,” suggesting that the 5,900 troops deployed to the border could stay there past December 15, the scheduled end of the mission.
The President also touted the “tremendous military force” assigned to the border mission in Texas, Arizona and California, lauding the troops for building “great fences.”
“They built great fences. They built a very powerful fence, a different kind of a fence, but very powerful. The fence is fully manned,” he said.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that the troops are expected to finish their assigned task of reinforcing border crossing points, largely with barbed wire, in the coming days. After that, it’s unclear what additional orders they will be given other than putting up more wire, two defense officials told CNN.
Trump ordered the troops to the border to deter a caravan of migrants making its way through Mexico from seeking asylum in the US. Trump has called the caravan a threat and has alleged that gang leaders and criminals are among the migrants.
A senior administration official told CNN that the use of troops at the border is “a paper tiger.”
“A total joke,” the official said. “Of limited operational utility, and a waste of our troops’ time. (Defense Secretary James) Mattis knows it. (Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen knows it. (White House Chief of staff John Kelly)knows it. But that battle was lost with the President. He was hell-bent on troops.”

China Trying To Start WW III By Actions Against England In South China Sea?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘EXPRESS NEWS’ OF ENGLAND)

 

WW3 WARNING: China UNLEASHES helicopters and warship at British Navy in South China Sea

THE Royal Navy was confronted by China’s military might after a British warship passed close by Beijing-claimed Paracel Islands, in a move the Asian superpower has dubbed “provocation”, with tensions escalating in the region.

HMS Albion out at sea patrolling Asia Pacific Region

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HMS Albion sailed passed Paracel Islands in a bid to assert the “freedom of navigation rights” and challenge China’s “excessive claims” over the South China Sea.

Upon reaching the Islands, the warship was met by two Chinese helicopters and a frigate, but both sides reportedly remained calm during the stand off.

China’s navy warned the British vessel to leave Chinese territorial waters.

China’s Foreign Ministry added: “The relevant actions by the British ship violated Chinese law and relevant international law, and infringed on China’s sovereignty.

China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction.

“China strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such provocative actions, to avoid harming the broader picture of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.

“China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and security.”

The 22,000 ton warship was packed with Royal Marines as it made its route to Hanoi where it docked on Monday after a deployment in and around Japan.

british navy warship passes china claimed island

A British navy vessel was confronted by Chinese military after it sailed near Paracel Islands (Image: GETTY)

However, the Royal Navy insisted they did not enter the territorial disputed region but travelled twelve nautical miles away from the area, in accordance to the internationally recognised territorial limit.

In a statement, a Royal Navy spokesperson said: “HMS Albion exercised her rights of freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms.”

The Paracel Islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, as countries in the region compete over territorial claims within the South China Sea.

Dr Euan Graham, a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia, told the Daily Telegraph: “The UK has impressively deployed three Royal Navy surface ships to Asian waters this year, after a long gap between ship visits, to this part of the world.”

British navy warship passes China's claimed paracel islands

The HMS Albion, a Royal Navy assault ship sailed close to the Paracel Islands last week (Image: GETTY)

Chinese military warn US Navy not to fly over SECRET ISLAND

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He added: “Also, the fact that Albion was coming from Japan and on her way to Vietnam gives the signal a sharper edge to China.”

In June, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to send three warship to the South China Sea “to send the strongest of signals” to countries that “don’t play by the rules”.

This follows US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis warning to China, declaring the country would suffer “consequences” if it continued to militarise the South China Sea.

The US has previously announced hopes for more international initiative towards challenging Chinese claimed territories in the South China Sea, after Beijing claimed reefs, islands and built missile systems in the disputed region.

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned (6 Times) over South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned over South China Sea

Above the South China Sea (CNN) High above one of the most hotly contested regions in the world, CNN was given a rare look Friday at the Chinese government’s rapidly expanding militarization of the South China Sea

Aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, CNN got a view from 16,500 feet of low-lying coral reefs turned into garrisons with five-story buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.
During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory and urging them to leave.
“Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.
The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.
On Subi Reef, the Poseidon’s sensors picked up 86 vessels, including Chinese coast guard ships, moored in a giant lagoon, while on Fiery Cross Reef rows of hangers stood alongside a lengthy runway.
“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.
Each time the aircraft was challenged by Chinese military, the US Navy crew’s response was the same.
“I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state,” the response said.
“In exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”
CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

CNN gets rare access on board a US military surveillance flight over the hotly-disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Competing claims

The Chinese government staunchly maintains large areas of the South China Sea have been part of the country’s territory “since ancient times.”
Beijing’s “nine-dash line” extends more than one thousand kilometers from its southernmost province, taking in more or less the entirety of the waters, through which the United Nations estimates one-third of global shipping passes.
The South China Sea is also believed to contain rich oil and natural gas reserves that have yet to be fully explored.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all claim overlapping portions of the sea which spans 3.6 million square kilometer (1.4 million square miles), but the most far-reaching claims have been made by China.
Beijing’s sovereignty claims are considered by most other countries as unsubstantiated, a view backed by an international tribunal in 2016.
Despite this however, little has changed in China’s approach to the region in recent years.
To reinforce its claims of sovereignty, Beijing has been reclaiming land on and around reefs and shoals to construct artificial islands which are then militarized with airfields and radar equipment.
China has spent much of the past two years fortifying these islands, including placing missiles on the Spratly island chain during naval exercises in April.
This is despite a promise made by President Xi Jinping to then-US President Barack Obama in 2015 that the Chinese government would not be militarizing the artificial islands.

The US Navy's P8-A Poseidon plane which carried a CNN crew from Okinawa, Japan, over the South China Sea on August 10.

Rapid expansion

The last time CNN was given access to a US Navy mission over the South China Sea was in September 2015, when the aircraft was also warned off by Chinese military.
Since then, Beijing’s island building in the contested waters has moved forward at a rapid pace.
Flying over Fiery Cross Reef on Friday, a five-story building was visible, as well as a large radar installation, which looked like neatly arranged golf balls on the Navy plane’s infrared camera.
Though no Chinese missiles were seen on Friday’s flight over the South China Sea, Navy officers said some of the structures seen could potentially be used to house them.
Cmdr. Chris Purcell, who leads Patrol Squadron Four which undertook Friday’s mission, said the US has been doing these flights for five decades and they show US commitment to maintaining free passage in international waters.
“The reason we’re here hasn’t changed,” Purcell said. “The reason (the Chinese) are here has changed.”
Within hours of the trip, Chinese state tabloid Global Times posted a reaction to CNN’s report on its Chinese-language website. The article called for all readers to “give a thumbs-up to Chinese servicemen” for their defense of China’s territory.

China claims US sparking militarization

Beijing says its growing military presence in the South China Sea is necessary to protect its sovereignty, blaming Washington and its allies for tensions in the region.
Source: CNN reporting
Chinese military exercises in April included the largest naval parade in the country’s history, with President Xi Jinping overseeing drills that included 10,000 troops, 48 naval vessels and 76 fighter jets.
Beijing points to the regular US Navy patrols and flyovers of the South China Sea as an example of US militarization and provocations, and a justification for the increased Chinese military presence.
“By playing up the so-called China’s militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying “stop thief”,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in May. “It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea.”
In the past year, the US has stepped up freedom of navigation operations in the region, sailing US naval vessels within miles of China’s artificial islands across the South China Sea.
The exercises, which the US also conducts in other parts of the world, assert the navy’s right to travel wherever it pleases in international waters, a vital component of Washington’s naval power across the world.
Time may be running out to effectively challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea however.
Adm. Philip Davidson, the recently installed head of the US Pacific Command, told Senators during a confirmation hearing in April that China is already very firmly entrenched.
“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Davidson said.

China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments

Friday, 6 July, 2018 – 09:15
Trading shows and ships are docked on the Arabian Gulf waters near the town of Khasab, in Oman. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
China condemned on Friday Iran for threatening to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbors, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong.

He made his remarks during a news briefing ahead of a major summit between China and Arab states that kicks off in Beijing next week.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Carrying one-third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

Asked about the Iranian threat to the strait, Chen remarked that China and Arab countries had close communications about Middle East peace, including the Iran issue.

“China consistently believes that the relevant country should do more to benefit peace and stability in the region, and jointly protect peace and stability there,” he added.

“Especially as it is a country on the Gulf, it should dedicate itself to being a good neighbor and co-existing peacefully,” he continued. “China will continue to play our positive, constructive role.”

Ministers from 21 Arab countries are attending the summit, as well as Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah. Chinese President Xi Jinping will give the opening address on Tuesday.

The United States Navy vowed on Thursday to protect oil routes and international navigation in the Hormuz Strait in wake of Iran’s threats.

“The US and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the US naval reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

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How the ballooning federal debt threatens U.S. defense

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

ORDER FROM CHAOS

How the ballooning federal debt threatens U.S. defense

Dan Keeler 

“American economic might is the indispensable foundation of American military might and the essential element in our ability to project a stabilizing power worldwide.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

On June 18, the Senate passed its version of 2019 defense authorization bill. Continuing the recent trend of raising defense spending, the bill proposes an $82 billion increase from 2017, resulting in an overall total defense budget of $716 billion. In an unusually bipartisan sign of cooperative government, these congressional budgets fully support the president and secretary of defense’s recently released National Defense and Military Strategies. Both of these documents prioritize “great power competition” with Russia and China over other issues, and the new budgets allocate national resources to meet the demands of those documents.

Author

Dan Keeler

Federal Executive Fellow – The Brookings Institution

Commander – U.S. Navy

Unfortunately, neither the strategies nor the budgets account for a looming crisis. Driven primarily by increased mandatory spending, the federal debt threatens to consume all other spending, including defense, in the coming decade. Failure to reform mandatory spending now will ultimately erase any near-term gains in national defense and could result in significantly diminished U.S. global influence. Great power competition might continue, but not with the United States as a player.

APPROACHING A CLIFF

Concerns about mandatory spending are not new. Bean counters within and without the government have warned of a reckoning for decades. The reckoning is getting closer.

The largest programs in the mandatory spending category—Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the national debt—are all in some form of unsustainable crisis. This year, trustees from the Social Security and Medicare funds reported they will begin tapping into reserves in order to meet spending requirements. Trustees indicate that the Medicare fund will run out of dollars in 2026. Social Security is in slightly better shape, and will be solvent until 2034. After that, the federal government will have to find other means to fund those programs or apply draconian cuts to benefits.

Simultaneously, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal debt will continue to grow, and that the debt-to-GDP ratio will be 94.5 percent in 2027. Interest payments on that debt will also continue to grow, nearly doubling from 1.6 percent of GDP in 2018 to 3.1 percent in 2028. In dollars, that means net interest payments will increase from $316 billion in 2018 to $915 billion in 2028.

In other words, mandatory spending is going up, way up. As the CBO report states: “The federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path. … Federal policymakers face economic, security, and social challenges requiring difficult policy choices, but a long-term fiscal plan is also needed to preserve flexibility to address unforeseen events.”

DEFENSE SPENDING AT RISK

What does this mean for defense spending? Nothing good.

For the U.S. Navy, for instance—where I am a commander—it will be harder to sustain recent shipbuilding and modernization efforts. Based on the requirements of the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, the Navy estimates it needs to increase its current force structure of 280 ships to 355. Using 2017 dollars, the CBO estimates it will cost approximately $27 billion dollars per year, for the next 30 years, to reach a 355-ship Navy. When operating and personnel costs are included, the figure is about $103 billion annually. All of these numbers represent a significant increase from allocations over the last 20 years.

If mandatory spending increases take off and there are no structural changes, Congress will be forced to cut discretionary spending—including for projects like shipbuilding—in the mid-2020s to pay its bills. As it does, ships built in the 1980s and 90s will reach the end of their operating life, and without replacement ships, the nation’s fleet and global influence will shrink. What will happen then? For a current example, look no further than the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy. Due to recent austerity measures and budget priorities, the Royal Navy has shrunk to a shadow of its Cold War stature. Just last month, the U.K.’s national security adviser, Mark Sedwill, announced that his nation’s two new aircraft carriers would require allied escorts for wartime operations. Simply put, due to budget cuts, the Royal Navy does not have enough ships to defend its own capital ships. Apply similar scenarios across the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and the fiscal future for defense looks very bleak.

It does not have to be this way. There is still time to avoid the fiscal freight train coming our way. Over the years, experts and elected representatives have proposed numerous reforms to Social Security and Medicare in order to maintain the trusts’ solvency. Similarly, there are solutions for controlling the annual deficits that continue to drive the overall debt higher. Unfortunately, none of the solutions are politically easy. In 2011, a Congressional “super-committee” attempted to find a solution and failed spectacularly. The failure gave birth to the Budget Control Act, commonly known as sequestration. This failure should not preclude another attempt. If the United States wishes to compete on the world stage, it’s time to try again.

A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era. Read all the Order from Chaos content »

Google Bars Using Artificial Intelligence Tech in Weapons, Unreasonable Surveillance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Google Bars Using Artificial Intelligence Tech in Weapons, Unreasonable Surveillance

Friday, 8 June, 2018 – 09:45
FILE PHOTO: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Google announced Thursday it would not allow its artificial intelligence software to be used in weapons or unreasonable surveillance efforts under new standards for its business decisions in the nascent field.

The Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) unit said the restriction could help Google management defuse months of protest by thousands of employees against the company’s work with the US military to identify objects in drone video.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post: “We want to be clear that while we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” such as cybersecurity, training, or search and rescue.

Pichai set out seven principles for Google’s application of artificial intelligence, or advanced computing that can simulate intelligent human behavior.

He said Google is using AI “to help people tackle urgent problems” such as prediction of wildfires, helping farmers, diagnosing disease or preventing blindness, AFP reported.

“We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use,” Pichai said in the blog.

“How AI is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come. As a leader in AI, we feel a deep responsibility to get this right.”

He added that the principles also called for AI applications to be “built and tested for safety,” to be “accountable to people” and to “incorporate privacy design principles.”

The move came after potential of AI systems to pinpoint drone strikes better than military specialists or identify dissidents from mass collection of online communications has sparked concerns among academic ethicists and Google employees, according to Reuters.

Several technology firms have already agreed to the general principles of using artificial intelligence for good, but Google appeared to offer a more precise set of standards.

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3

Syria: The Perfect Storm To Ignite A Huge Chapter In This Current WW-3 

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST WRITTEN ON FEBRUARY 14th, OF 2016 BUT I HAVE ADDED 2 EXTRA PARAGRAPHS AT THE END)

Today Syria is primed to be the location where the pot boils over and this World War that we are currently all living in gets a new very nasty twist in pure violence. The Syrian civil war has turned into a continuance of the 1,400 year old Islamic civil war between the Sunni and the Shiite. The president of Syria is a Shiite so he is an ally of the government of Iran who is the biggest Shiite player in the world. Also there is the fact that the country of Iraq is now led by a Shiite government and its geographical location is as the bumper between the two. First ISIS joins the fight as the major Sunni group against the Syrian government and now Russian president Putin has joined the fight on the side of Iran and Syria. Soon we see if our Nations Leaders are actual leaders, or idiots and fools.

 

Today I picked up off of CNN a story within an interview being done by reporter Ms. Amanpour with the Saudi Foreign Minister while he was in Munich Germany  yesterday. I am going to type out a couple of the Saudi Foreign Ministers quotes and then I am going to ask you a couple of questions to see the level of understanding we each have. Quotes—“The Syrian President must go. If the political process fails then force must be used”. Yet he says that the Saudi’s will only send troops into Syria if…”we are part of a multi-national force lead by the U.S.”.  There is another important quote of his on this matter, “Syria’s President will leave–have no doubt about it. He will either leave by a political process or he will be removed by force”.

 

I am looking at this from an American persons view, those of you reading this from other parts of the world may have different view points than I do or what most Americans may have as a view, if so, please leave comments.  The Saudi Foreign Minister says that the Syrian President will leave “have no doubt about it”. Yet he say that the Saudi’s will only put boots on the ground in Syria if they are “part of a U.S. led force”. So, does he have some secret knowledge of an undercover deal with our President? Reality is that the only way the Syrian President gets removed is if he is assassinated or if the U.S. puts thousands of troops on the ground to fight against the Shiite side and for the Sunni side of this 1,400 year civil war. This Syrian conflict is indeed a Civil War but it is mostly a civil war between the Shiite and the Sunni. Russian President Putin has stuck his foot in up to his rear-end on the side of Iran and Syria if the U.S. puts boots on the ground they will be fighting on the side of the Sunni nations. There is this other absolute fact, all these people hate us and our military, they will applaud every time an American or Russian blood is spilled on Syrian sand. The Saudi Foreign Minister did say one accurate quote when he said that “you can not take, then hold ground from the air alone”. The question now is whose boots will it be, whose blood will it be?

 

(TODAY’S DATE IS APRIL 17th OF 2018)

 

Okay, it is now two years and two months since the Saudi Foreign Minister said that Syria’s President Assad would be removed one way of another, to me, it looks like he was wrong.  About the only way now that I can see President Assad being removed is if someone assassinates him. Will the Saudi’s go that far as to send an assassin into Syria to kill him? Personally I doubt it, it would be to risky for them to do that. It looks to me that because of the help of Russia’s President Putin and the help Mr. Assad is getting from Iran and Hezbollah that he will remain the president of this destroyed hunk of ground. Even if all fighting were to stop inside the borders of Syria today, it would take many trillions of dollars and several decades to rebuild the infrastructure that was in place there seven years ago.

 

As far as Syria being the location of a huge proxy war involving the militaries that are still operating inside their borders the risks are still very high. I personally believe that the U.S. should get out of Syria as quick as is humanly possible. We said we went in there to destroy ISIS, this mission is at least 95% finished. The government of Syria has made it very plain that they do not want any U.S. military inside their borders so we should leave and let Russian, Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah troops finish the mop up work on ISIS. The longer we are there the greater chances that we will get directly involved with the killing of Russian, Iranian and Syrian troops thus dragging us into a much wider and bloodier war with them directly.  There is also the reality that Syria will be the location of a direct shooting war between Iran and Israel, and Hezbollah. If Iran attacks Israel will the U.S. stand idly by? If we back Israel will Russia jump in to help Iran? You can bet your last nickel that if Iran attacks Israel that Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah will also attack Israel, so what is the U.S. going to do? What is Russia going to do, come to think of it, what is Saudi Arabia going to do? This article is all just fodder for your thoughts, what do you think is about to happen, full-out WW-3, or maybe nothing? China would probably love the U.S. to get tied up in an all out war in the Middle-East as this would give them free rein to totally dominate all of the Asian Countries. Also it would give China the green light to enforce their will over all of the South China Sea and to invade Taiwan. As I said, just trying to get you to think.

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