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Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon’

Pentagon: U.S. military footprint staying right where it is – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on December 1, 2021

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, National Guard units from Virginia and Kentucky sent 1,000 troops to Africa for “Task Force Red Dragon.” As Page/Plant wrote, “everything that’s small has got to grow,” and this footprint isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet.

VA and KY Guard in Africa. How does that defend VA and KY?

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/11/30/pentagon-u-s-military-footprint-staying-right-where-it-is/

Written by
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

An unclassified summary of the Defense Department’s Global Posture review was released Monday and in the words of the indomitable Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the song of American military primacy worldwide pretty much “remains the same.”

Of course the summary of the GPR, which has been long anticipated, doesn’t offer much detail, but the bottom line is this: China remains a key “pacing threat” and it will be met. There seems to be no plan, however, for reshuffling U.S. military forces from other theaters to grow the foot print in East Asia. Instead, Washington aims to build upon its strategic partnerships in the region. Where there is actual growth in the footprint, mentioned below, much of that had already been announced previously:

(The GPR) directs additional cooperation with allies and partners to advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter potential Chinese military aggression and threats from North Korea.  These initiatives include seeking greater regional access for military partnership activities; enhancing infrastructure in Australia and the Pacific Islands; and planning rotational aircraft deployments in Australia, as announced in September.  The GPR also informed Secretary Austin’s approval of the permanent stationing of a previously-rotational attack helicopter squadron and artillery division headquarters in the Republic of Korea, announced earlier this year.

Most of the hullabaloo over the Australia-UK-U.S. (AUKUS) agreement in September had been over the transfer of nuclear submarine technology to Australia. But as David Vine pointed out in this RS article, AUKUS is also allowing the U.S. to station more assets and personnel Down Under, including, “combined logistics, sustainment, and capability for maintenance to support our enhanced activities, including…for our submarines and surface combatants” and “rotational deployments of all types of U.S. military aircraft to Australia.”

As the Wall Street Journal noted Monday in its summary of the summary, the Biden administration’s goal of meeting “China’s military buildup and more assertive use of power” doesn’t seem to be coming at the expense of U.S. force posture in other parts of the world. Those forces are largely staying put.

According to the DoD summary, in Europe, the GPR “strengthens the U.S. combat-credible deterrent against Russian aggression and enables NATO forces to operate more effectively.” This includes leaving the 25,000 troops President Trump wanted to take out of Germany right where they are in the region (which we already knew about). There is no further detail on how Washington plans to “strengthen the deterrent” against Russia, though we know there have been plenty of efforts on Capitol Hill to send more troops to Europe.

Those hoping to see the Biden administration begin to extricate from the Middle East won’t find much solace in this summary either. Without committing either way, the DoD says “the GPR assessed the department’s approach toward Iran and the evolving counterterrorism requirements following the end of DoD operations in Afghanistan. In Iraq and Syria, DoD posture will continue to support the Defeat-ISIS campaign and building the capacity of partner forces.  Looking ahead, the review directs DoD to conduct additional analysis on enduring posture requirements in the Middle East.”

The big news here is that Washington is not even considering leaving Iraq and Syria, which many smart analysts deem essential not only for American interests, but for the security of the region. On the greater question of whether there will be a major shift toward reducing the U.S.-led security obligations in the Middle East, the summary, at least, seems to punt. On Africa and the Americas, as indicated by the release yesterday, no discernible change in posture.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise, as the signs of status quo are all around us — just read the RS piece by Nick Turse on U.S. commando presence in Africa, and then in Europe. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, National Guard units from Virginia and Kentucky sent 1,000 troops to Africa for “Task Force Red Dragon.” As Page/Plant wrote, “everything that’s small has got to grow,” and this footprint isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet.

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Theater Of Absurd… Pentagon Demands Russia Explain Troops On Russian Soil | ZeroHedge

Posted by M. C. on November 21, 2021

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/theater-absurd-pentagon-demands-russia-explain-troops-russian-soil

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

Via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin this week performed impressive, albeit pathetic, mental gymnastics.In a press conference, the Pentagon chief called on Russia to be more transparent about troop movements “on the border with Ukraine”. In others words, on Russian soil.

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The Oklahoma National Guard Refused the Vax Mandate. The Pentagon Is Not Pleased. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 20, 2021

We saw a similar response from the Pentagon in 2019 when the legislature of West Virginia contemplated limiting Pentagon control of West Virginia’s troops. Specifically, some West Virginia lawmakers considered a bill limiting the state’s National Guard deployments to only military operations conducted during a period of congressionally declared war. The Pentagon immediately threatened to use the cudgel of federal spending in West Virginia if the bill was adopted.

Maybe this will end OK guard troops defending the US on the other side of the planet where there are no US citizens.

https://mises.org/wire/oklahoma-national-guard-refused-vax-mandate-pentagon-not-pleased

Ryan McMaken

In a surprising development, Republican governor Kevin Stitt has refused to implement the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. This has placed the governor directly at odds with Pentagon brass and with the White House as it aggressively attempts to enforce its latest vaccine mandate for all military personnel. The Washington Post sums up the situation:

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) last week removed the state’s adjutant general, who had directed troops to comply with the vaccine mandate, and replaced him with a new commanding general who promptly issued the order rejecting it. In his memo, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the state’s new National Guard commander, said personnel could sidestep the policy with no repercussions unless they are put on federal duty.

The legal situation is complicated. As originally imagined by early Americans, the state militias are supposed to be independent military units unless called into national service during wartime. Moreover, state governors have at times exercised a de facto veto over federal control of state troops.

[Read More: “Decentralize the Military: Why We Need Independent Militias” by Ryan McMaken]

Since the National Defense Act of 1933, however, National Guard units have been deemed members of both the state’s National Guard and the federal military. Moreover, over time, the federal government has gradually eroded the authority of state governors in controlling the deployment and use of state troops. By 1990, governors had lost virtually all of their independence.

National Guard troops in each state nominally remain under the command of the respective governors unless activated by the US president. Thus, it appears that Governor Stitt is attempting to take advantage of these few remaining powers in order to refuse mandating vaccines for state troops.

Not surprisingly, this has led to resistance from the Pentagon—and if past experience is any indicator—the Pentagon will not hold back in devising ways to punish Oklahoma and its National Guard chain of command unless it quickly falls into line.

Who’s In Charge of Oklahoma’s Troops?

Over the weekend, Oklahoma’s adjutant general issued a statement on the state’s guard vaccine policy:

Under Title 32, Congress established a dual framework for the National Guard. The states receive federal funding in return for being made available to the federal government when called to active duty by the President.

Under Title 32, the Oklahoma National Guard is a state-controlled and federally-funded entity and takes orders from the Governor and his designated chain of command. When mobilized by the President, under Title 10, the Oklahoma National Guard takes all orders from the President and his designated chain of command.

Failing to follow the Governor’s lawful orders while on Title 32 would be both illegal, unethical, and against our sworn oaths. Nothing in this order prevents anyone from taking the vaccine. Also, nothing in his order eliminates the Federal Requirement. The Governor is hoping for Federal Relief from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and in the interim has granted state relief from this requirement.

Until a Guardsman is activated under Title 10, they follow the lawful commands of the Governor of the State of Oklahoma, who has not mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for Oklahoma Guard Members. Once activated to [T]itle 10 status, Guardsmen are subject to all Title 10 laws and mandates until returning to Title 32 status.

If you [Oklahoma guard members] are not mobilized on Title 10 orders, the only entity that can give you a “lawful” order—that is an order backed by the authority of law—is the Governor and his designated State chain of command. That “law” is Title 32 U.S. code. This is easily seen by the fact that the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] does not apply to you in Title 32 status. Instead, you are governed by the Oklahoma Code of Military Justice (OCMJ).

It is notable that in response to this (accurate) legal interpretation from the governor, the Pentagon has done little other than just insist repeatedly that it has authority to force compliance. No specific legal authority is quoted or invoked.

Yet the Pentagon has plenty of tricks up its sleeve when it comes to getting compliance from state National Guard units. During the 1980s, for instance, Ohio governor Richard Celeste refused to send National Guard troops to Honduras to assist with the Pentagon’s various interventions in Central American regimes.

How the Pentagon Threatens “Disobedient” State Governors

The Pentagon immediately made plans to remove military resources from Ohio in an effort to embarrass the governor. The idea was that the Ohio economy would suffer as military spending in the state was withdrawn. The governor soon caved to the Pentagon’s orders. Thus, the Pentagon has grown accustomed to immediate and unquestioning obedience from state governors, although this is directly contrary to the very idea of state-controlled military units.

We saw a similar response from the Pentagon in 2019 when the legislature of West Virginia contemplated limiting Pentagon control of West Virginia’s troops. Specifically, some West Virginia lawmakers considered a bill limiting the state’s National Guard deployments to only military operations conducted during a period of congressionally declared war. The Pentagon immediately threatened to use the cudgel of federal spending in West Virginia if the bill was adopted.

[Read More: “When State Governors Tried to Take Back Control of the National Guard” by Ryan McMaken]

It is likely the Pentagon will do the same in Oklahoma should the governor persist in refusing to enforce the vaccine mandate. On Wednesday, for example, the Pentagon reportedly claimed that if Oklahoma does not comply, it will no longer be “maintaining national recognition” and the guard will become just a state militia. This is likely a step on the way to removing all federal spending from the state’s guard in the manner used in the past as a means of turning the screws on state government.

BREAKING: Defense official reportedly says, if the Oklahoma National Guard doesn’t comply with COVID vaccine requirements, they will no longer be “maintaining national recognition,” thus, state will no longer have a Nat Guard, but rather a militia – VOA’s Pentagon correspondent— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) November 17, 2021

Moreover, the Pentagon has hinted it will force compliance by going after individual guard members on a “case-by-case basis.” Given that these troops are under the command of the state government, however, “it is unclear who will hold them accountable to the rule and what punishments, if any, will be handed down.”

Unfortunately, military spending is so centralized in the federal government that it will difficult for Oklahoma—or any other state—to refuse Pentagon orders in anything beyond the short term. Moreover, thanks to generations of militarist hysteria over communists and terrorists, the US military establishment has greatly centralized military command authority in Washington overall.

[Read More: “A Fat, Comfortable Military Is a “Woke” Military” by Ryan McMaken]

Yet this news is good news overall. Combined with the US military’s turn toward “woke” politics, this latest episode around vaccine mandates will further help to undermine support for military institutions among conservatives—the very group that has for so many decades offered untrammeled obedience and deference in favor of the Pentagon’s agenda.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first.

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The Pentagon as Pentagod – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on November 17, 2021

Here, for instance, was General David Petraeus at that time — and keep in mind that, before he commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he had never even been to war. As Astore put it then, “I counted nine rows [of ribbons] on Petraeus’ left breast during his Congressional hearings. If they were a valid metric across time, he would be roughly thrice as capable and valorous as George C. Marshall, perhaps America’s greatest soldier-statesman, who somehow ran and won a world war while wearing only three rows of ribbons.”

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012344421

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

Back in 2007, in his first piece for TomDispatch, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore focused on the proliferation of self-congratulatory ribbons and medals on the chests of America’s generals. Here, for instance, was General David Petraeus at that time — and keep in mind that, before he commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he had never even been to war. As Astore put it then, “I counted nine rows [of ribbons] on Petraeus’ left breast during his Congressional hearings. If they were a valid metric across time, he would be roughly thrice as capable and valorous as George C. Marshall, perhaps America’s greatest soldier-statesman, who somehow ran and won a world war while wearing only three rows of ribbons.” And, by the way, those nine rows weren’t even the sum total of the decorations on that uniform.

In other words, only six years into Washington’s disastrous post-9/11 wars, our losing generals were already treating themselves like minor deities from Olympus. In the ensuing years, much was written about evangelical Christianity and its role in supporting a twice-divorced, pussy-grabbing, religion-dismissing, profane salesman and bankruptee in the Oval Office, but remarkably little about the fervor of those who might be considered the truest evangelicals of our moment: America’s military high command and the Pentagon officials who were part and parcel of their world.

They were, of course, evangelists for a religion that Congress has subscribed to as well with remarkable unanimity, not to say staggering fervor. No matter that its god (about whom Astore will tell you momentarily) continues to suck up trillions of dollars in tithes from the American people as if there were no end to such funds. And mind you, despite all that dough and all those medals on all those chests, the Pentagon couldn’t keep a single promise it made globally when it came to its supposedly singular “skill”: making war. Think of those bemedaled generals then as evangelicals for a faith that couldn’t deliver, big-time — evangelists, in short, for an empire going down, down, down. Now, check out TomDispatch regular Astore, who also runs the Bracing Views blog, on this country’s true god. ~ Tom


America’s Abyss of Weapons and Warmaking

By William Astore

Who is America’s god? The Christian god of the beatitudes, the one who healed the sick, helped the poor, and preached love of neighbor? Not in these (dis)United States. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we speak proudly of One Nation under God, but in the aggregate, this country doesn’t serve or worship Jesus Christ, or Allah, or any other god of justice and mercy. In truth, the deity America believes in is the five-sided one headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

In God We Trust is on all our coins. But, again, which god? The one of “turn the other cheek”? The one who found his disciples among society’s outcasts? The one who wanted nothing to do with moneychangers or swords? As Joe Biden might say, give me a break.

America’s true god is a deity of wrath, whose keenest followers profit mightily from war and see such gains as virtuous, while its most militant disciples, a crew of losing generals and failed Washington officials, routinely employ murderous violence across the globe. It contains multitudes, its name is legion, but if this deity must have one name, citing a need for some restraint, let it be known as the Pentagod.

Yes, the Pentagon is America’s true god. Consider that the Biden administration requested a whopping $753 billion for military spending in fiscal year 2022 even as the Afghan War was cratering. Consider that the House Armed Services Committee then boosted that blockbuster budget to $778 billion in September. Twenty-five billion dollars extra for “defense,” hardly debated, easily passed, with strong bipartisan support in Congress. How else, if not religious belief, to explain this, despite the Pentagod’s prodigal $8 trillion wars over the last two decades that ended so disastrously? How else to account for future budget projections showing that all-American deity getting another $8 trillion or so over the next decade, even as the political parties fight like rabid dogs over roughly 15% of that figure for much-needed domestic improvements?

Paraphrasing Joe Biden, show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you worship. In that context, there can’t be the slightest doubt: America worships its Pentagod and the weapons and wars that feed it.

Prefabricated War, Made in the U.S.A.

See the rest here

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McCain and the POW Cover-Up

Posted by M. C. on September 1, 2021

The people and equipment we left behind in the Graveyard of Empires is trivial in scale to what the military-industrial-congessional-bankster complex did after the last major war failure.

They Were Expendable is more than a movie title. It is the government’$ attitude toward $oldier$, citizen$, you and me.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/mccain-and-the-pow-cover-up/

Sydney Schanberg

July 1, 2010

Eighteen months ago, TAC publisher Ron Unz discovered an astonishing account of the role the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, had played in suppressing information about what happened to American soldiers missing in action in Vietnam. Below, we present in full Sydney Schanberg’s explosive story.

* * *

John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain’s role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain’s military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn’t talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.

The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington—and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that “men were left behind.” This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number—the documents indicate probably hundreds—of the U.S. prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.

Mass of Evidence

The Pentagon had been withholding significant information from POW families for years. What’s more, the Pentagon’s POW/MIA operation had been publicly shamed by internal whistleblowers and POW families for holding back documents as part of a policy of “debunking” POW intelligence even when the information was obviously credible.

The pressure from the families and Vietnam veterans finally forced the creation, in late 1991, of a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. The chairman was John Kerry. McCain, as a former POW, was its most pivotal member. In the end, the committee became part of the debunking machine.

One of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon’s performance was an insider, Air Force Lt. Gen. Eugene Tighe, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the 1970s. He openly challenged the Pentagon’s position that no live prisoners existed, saying that the evidence proved otherwise. McCain was a bitter opponent of Tighe, who was eventually pushed into retirement.

Included in the evidence that McCain and his government allies suppressed or sought to discredit is a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general’s briefing of the Hanoi politburo, discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar in 1993. The briefing took place only four months before the 1973 peace accords. The general, Tran Van Quang, told the politburo members that Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war’s end as leverage to ensure getting war reparations from Washington.

Throughout the Paris negotiations, the North Vietnamese tied the prisoner issue tightly to the issue of reparations. They were adamant in refusing to deal with them separately. Finally, in a Feb. 2, 1973 formal letter to Hanoi’s premier, Pham Van Dong, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion in “postwar reconstruction” aid “without any political conditions.” But he also attached to the letter a codicil that said the aid would be implemented by each party “in accordance with its own constitutional provisions.” That meant Congress would have to approve the appropriation, and Nixon and Kissinger knew well that Congress was in no mood to do so. The North Vietnamese, whether or not they immediately understood the double-talk in the letter, remained skeptical about the reparations promise being honored—and it never was. Hanoi thus appears to have held back prisoners—just as it had done when the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and withdrew their forces from Vietnam. In that case, France paid ransoms for prisoners and brought them home.

In a private briefing in 1992, high-level CIA officials told me that as the years passed and the ransom never came, it became more and more difficult for either government to admit that it knew from the start about the unacknowledged prisoners. Those prisoners had not only become useless as bargaining chips but also posed a risk to Hanoi’s desire to be accepted into the international community. The CIA officials said their intelligence indicated strongly that the remaining men—those who had not died from illness or hard labor or torture—were eventually executed.

My own research, detailed below, has convinced me that it is not likely that more than a few—if any—are alive in captivity today. (That CIA briefing at the Agency’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters was conducted “off the record,” but because the evidence from my own reporting since then has brought me to the same conclusion, I felt there was no longer any point in not writing about the meeting.)

For many reasons, including the absence of a political constituency for the missing men other than their families and some veterans’ groups, very few Americans are aware of the POW story and of McCain’s role in keeping it out of public view and denying the existence of abandoned POWs. That is because McCain has hardly been alone in his campaign to hide the scandal.

The Arizona senator, now the Republican candidate for president, has actually been following the lead of every White House since Richard Nixon’s, and thus of every CIA director, Pentagon chief, and national security adviser, not to mention Dick Cheney, who was George H.W. Bush’s Defense secretary. Their biggest accomplice has been an indolent press, particularly in Washington.

McCain’s Role

See the rest here

Sydney Schanberg has been a journalist for nearly 50 years. The 1984 movie “The Killing Fields,” which won several Academy Awards, was based on his book The Death and Life of Dith Pran. In 1975, Schanberg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting “at great risk.” He is also the recipient of two George Polk awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and the Sigma Delta Chi prize for distinguished journalism. His latest book is Beyond the Killing Fields(www.beyondthekillingfields.com). This piece is reprinted with permission from The Nation Institute.

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The Real Reason Why Blackstone is Courting the Pentagon

Posted by M. C. on August 18, 2021

Ultimately, with David Urban’s hire, Schwarzman and Blackstone appear to be taking their efforts to shape AI’s future by lobbying the Pentagon and State Department directly in the event that Trump’s nationalistic tendencies threaten their vision of U.S.-China collaboration in AI in the post-Coronavirus world.

https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/real-reason-blackstone-courting-pentagon/

Author Whitney Webb

The sudden push by Wall Street’s largest private equity firm to heavily lobby the Pentagon and State Department for largely unspecified reasons is part of an increasingly visible conflict within the U.S. establishment regarding how to handle the Artificial Intelligence “arms race.”

One of Wall Street’s largest private equity firms, the Blackstone Group, has been making a series of moves that have left mainstream analysts puzzled, with the most recent being Blackstone’s hire of David Urban, a Washington lobbyist with close ties to the Trump administration.

Blackstone’s courting of a Trump ally was not surprising given that the firm’s CEO, Steven Schwarzman, recently donated $3 million to Trump’s re-election efforts and had previously chaired the President’s now-defunct Strategic and Policy Forum of “business leaders” and advisors. The close ties that have developed between Schwarzman and Trump following the latter’s election in late 2016 have led mainstream media to describe Schwarzman as a confidant of the President.

However, what was odd about Blackstone’s hiring of David Urban was its murky reason for doing so, as the firm plans to task Urban with lobbying the Pentagon and State Department on “issues related to military preparedness and training.” This is odd, as CNBC noted, because Blackstone “doesn’t have any publicly listed government contracts, and its known investments don’t appear to have direct links to the defense industry.” However, Urban has extensive experience in dealing with both Departments in addition to his close ties to the current administration and the fundraising apparatus of the Republican Party.

While media reports on Blackstone’s recent hire of Urban were unable to elucidate the motive behind Blackstone’s sudden desire to court the Pentagon and State Department, they did note that Blackstone’s previous hire of a Trump-connected fundraiser lobbyist, Jeff Miller, had been remarkably successful earlier this year, with Miller lobbying Congress specifically on coronavirus relief legislation like the CARES Act. The CARES Act ultimately allowed private equity giants like Blackstone to access funds designated for coronavirus relief, likely thanks to the efforts of Miller and other lobbyists hired by Blackstone as well as other private equity giants like the Carlyle Group.

Though CNBC was left looking for answers as to Blackstone’s sudden interest in aiding the Pentagon with “military preparedness” and wooing the State Department, the likely motive may be related to other recent moves made by the company, such as the hire of former Amazon and Microsoft executive Christine Feng. Feng, who was hired by Blackstone on August 3, previously led data and analytics mergers and acquisitions at Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is a contractor to the U.S. intelligence community and other U.S. federal agencies. Previously, Feng was a senior member of Microsoft’s Corporate Development team. Microsoft recently won lucrative contracts for information technology (IT) services and cloud computing for the State Department and Pentagon, respectively.

According to Blackstone executives, the decision to hire Feng was made due to her “deep relationships in Silicon Valley” and “her experience working at Amazon and Microsoft.” They also added that her hire was motivated by Blackstone’s push to “identify new opportunities to invest and partner with innovative companies reshaping the world” and Blackstone’s recent effort to “double down” on tech sector investments. Notably, Feng’s hire came just a few months after Blackstone had hired Vincent Letteri, another tech-focused investor experienced with growth-stage tech companies, and amid a series of recent investments by Blackstone in tech firms, including HealthEdge software and Chinese data center provider 21Vianet, among others.

Schwarzman’s Push for “Common Governance”

It strongly appears that Blackstone’s recent moves, including Urban’s hire, are part of the firm’s bid to become one of the top “innovative companies reshaping the world” as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) arms race becomes a key driver in the “reshaping” of the global economy. Blackstone’s Steven Schwarzman is a key part of the relatively tight-knit group of billionaires and influential political figures, like Henry Kissinger and Eric Schmidt, that are working to create a “global compact on the research, introduction, and deployment of AI,” and Schwarzman has heralded the coming age of AI as representing a “fourth revolution” for humanity.

Schwarzman argued for greater global collaboration on AI-driven technologies, particularly between the U.S. and China, in a July 2020 Op-Ed for Yahoo! Finance where he wrote that the establishment of “common governance structures” for the research, introduction and deployment of AI is necessary if “we are to avoid the negative consequences of AI,” ultimately comparing the current pace of development of AI to that of past arms races, such as those involving nuclear and biological weapons. Per Schwarzman, these “common governance structures” would produce “explicit global commitments, agreements, and eventually international laws with consequences for violation” that relate directly to AI and its use.

Blackstone’s head is convinced that these “common governance structures” should be built between the U.S. and China, hence his heavy investment in universities and artificial intelligence education in both countries. For instance, Schwarzman created the Schwarzman Scholars program in 2016 where around 100-200 students from around the world pursue a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing annually. The official goal of the program, which was modeled after the Rhodes Scholars program, is to “create a growing network of global leaders that will build strong ties between China and the rest of the world.” The program’s advisors include former Secretary of States Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as former World Bank President James Wolfensohn and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Goldman Sachs executive Henry Paulson. Schwarzman has also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to create an AI-focused institute at Oxford University.

Then, in the U.S., Schwarzman gave $350 million to MIT, prompting the school to create the Schwarzman College of Computing, which aims to specifically “address the global opportunities and challenges presented by the ubiquity of computing — across industries and academic disciplines — and by the rise of artificial intelligence.” MIT News later noted that “the impulse behind the founding of the college came from trips he [Schwarzman] had taken to China, where he observed intensified Chinese investment in artificial intelligence, and wanted to make sure the U.S. was also on the leading edge of A.I.” The college’s inauguration also featured Henry Kissinger as a speaker, where Kissinger mulled the potential impacts of AI and stated that “AI makes it technically possible, easier, to control your population.”

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, credits Schwarzman’s lead to invest in AI education in the U.S. and abroad as determining “the future of American philanthropy.” “Steve’s donation triggered an arms race among all the universities to match him. This is the next trend in philanthropy, in my view,” Schmidt told Axios regarding Schwarzman’s MIT donation last May. Schmidt also stated that his own investment in Princeton University’s Computer Science department had been prompted by Schwarzman’s previous acts of “AI philanthropy.”

Last May, a federal commission that Schmidt chairs, called the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI), produced a document that was obtained by a FOIA request earlier this year. One particularly important page made a point that was essentially repeated in Schwarzman’s July Op-Ed regarding a “global AI compact.” Titled “The Importance of a US/China AI Cooperation,” it begins with a quote from Kissinger, a key advisor to and “great friend” of Schmidt, about the need for “arms control negotiation” for AI and then states that “the future of [AI] will be decided at the intersection of private enterprise and policy leaders between China and the US.” In other words, the Schmidt-chaired NSCAI argues that the future of AI will be determined by the political leaders and business leaders of China and the U.S. The page also adds that “we [The United States] risk being left out of the discussions where norms around AI are set for the rest of our lifetimes. Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, and Microsoft will not be.”

This is particularly significant given the NSCAI is tasked with making recommendations to the federal government regarding how to move forward with AI regulations within the context of “national security” and its members include key members of the Pentagon, U.S. intelligence community and Silicon Valley behemoths that double as contractors to the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence or both. One of the NSCAI’s interests, per the FOIA-obtained document, is the use of “AI in diplomacy,” suggesting that it also seeks to explore potential State Department uses for AI. Notably, earlier this year, and a year after the aforementioned NSCAI document was written, the State Department saw key aspects of its IT infrastructure privatized and given over to NSCAI-linked companies like Microsoft.

The Establishment Divide over AI

Given Schwarzman’s views on AI, his AI-focused “philanthropy,” and Blackstone’s recent pivot towards technology, it becomes easier to understand why Blackstone has recently hired David Urban to lobby the Department of Defense and the State Department. Over the last few years, Schwarzman ally Eric Schmidt has “reinvented himself as the prime liaison between Silicon Valley and the national security community” through his chairing of the NSCAI and other positions and has been lobbying “to revamp America’s defense forces with more engineers, more software and more A.I.” Blackstone’s plans to use David Urban to woo the Pentagon are likely directly related to these efforts to speed up and determine not just when but how the U.S. military adopts A.I-driven technologies, particularly regarding the degree of collaboration with China.

Schwarzman, Schmidt, Kissinger and their allies, as pointed out above, appear to favor direct collaboration with China regarding A.I., seeing it as better for business and the best way to avert “catastrophe.” This is particularly true for Schwarzman who has close business ties to China and has been described as “Trump’s China whisperer” by mainstream media. Indeed, Schwarzman and Blackstone have completed numerous, multi-billion dollar deals in China, with a Hong Kong-based publication even claiming that “Schwarzman has become the go-to man for Chinese buyers.” In addition, Schwarzman has a strong personal relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and is credited with softening Trump’s rhetoric and stance on certain issues related to China since 2017. Part of the reason for this, per Henry Kissinger, owes to Schwarzman’s “unique standing” in China where Schwarzman has “done so many useful things.”

Despite his close ties to Schwarzman, Trump has sent mixed signals regarding how much of Schwarzman’s advice regarding China he will take. Trump’s tendency, in public anyway, has been to bolster the nationalist rhetoric of the cadre of neoconservatives and other figures who compose the Committee on the Present Danger, China (CPDC), chief among them former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

Bannon and other CPDC figures have described Schwarzman as a “rival,” with Bannon specifically singling Schwarzman out, asserting that the Blackstone founder threatened to “undo his efforts” at guiding the President towards more nationalist policies popular with his base, such as fighting an “economic war” with China. Bannon’s concerns are also echoed by some hardliners in the Trump administration and the Pentagon who, like Bannon, view China as an existential threat to U.S. hegemony and, therefore, “national security.”

Ultimately, with David Urban’s hire, Schwarzman and Blackstone appear to be taking their efforts to shape AI’s future by lobbying the Pentagon and State Department directly in the event that Trump’s nationalistic tendencies threaten their vision of U.S.-China collaboration in AI in the post-Coronavirus world.

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Next on the Agenda: War With China | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2021

The Navy routinely conducts what it calls Freedom Of Navigation Operations (FONOPS), in the waters surrounding China, sailing warships through the waters, particularly in the South China Sea, usually provocatively close to Chinese controlled or claimed islands. Biden’s regime just conducted its fourth FONOP. Under Trump, in 2020 the U.S. conducted a record high total of nine FONOPs poking China.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/next-on-the-agenda-war-with-china/

by Connor Freeman

In 2014, Lew Rockwell wrote, “Clearly the empire is targeting China…The U.S. seeks to encircle China and make it bow down before the hegemon. The increasing prosperity and freedom of China threatens the empire’s self-image.”

America’s new Cold War with China is a bi-partisan imperial project. In 2011, former President Barack Obama began it in earnest, dubbing it the “Asia Pivot.” The ‘pivot’ entails surrounding China with hundreds of bases and shifting two thirds of all U.S. naval and air forces to the Asia-Pacific, the greatest military buildup since World War II.

Putative outsider Donald Trump took office and sizably enlarged the U.S. military’s footprint in what is now referred to as the “Indo-Pacific” region and significantly increased provocations of China.

Now President Joe Biden and his hawk infested administration are escalating tensions with Beijing to heights previously unseen.

Biden has said bluntly that the U.S. is in “extreme competition” with China. In his first address to Congress, Biden said we are competing with China to “win the 21st century.” Space Force has plans for the moon to be a “militarized front.” They see it as a venue for a future war. Washington is spending more on the military and so called “defense” than at any time in the nation’s history. The Republican Party’s neocons say that even Biden’s 2022 national security budget request for more than $750 billion is not enough to counter China and are demanding that number be increased by tens of billions.

The Pentagon’s excuse for its record high spending is Beijing, the so called “pacing threat.” China poses a threat to the hawks’ world domination, at least that is what has been said by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. According to the general, since the end of the previous Cold War, America has held “unchallenged global military, political and economic power. With the rise of China, that is changing and changing fast.”

The U.S. Military Is Incessantly Goading China

Last year, while Americans were distracted by the COVID-19 crisis, Trump’s war cabinet seized the opportunity to dramatically expand military activity around China. U.S. warships and aircraft carrier group strike forces sailing in the South China Sea were reported constantly. In July 2020, according to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing based think tank, the U.S. flew record numbers of aerial surveillance flights in the South China Sea and near China’s coast. The number of reconnaissance flights averaged three to five per day. In the same month, the Trump administration formally rejected almost all of China’s claims to the waters in the South China Sea. This policy has since been reaffirmed by the Biden regime. Under both administrations, the U.S. has been challenging China, using the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, inserting itself into disputes between regional actors there whom all have overlapping claims on the waters including over various, sometimes unmanned, rocks, reefs, islands, islets, and archipelagos.

See the rest here

About Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman is a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com and Counterpunch, as well as the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also been a guest on Conflicts of Interest. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96

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Interesting Progression of Events – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 16, 2021

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/07/daniel-mcadams/interesting-progression-of-events/

The Best of Daniel McAdams Daniel McAdams is the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

creativecommons.org

Previous article by Daniel McAdams: Should We Celebrate Rumsfeld’s Death?The Deadly Heat Wave of July 1936 in the Middle of Arguably the Hottest Decade on Record for the USNew Documentary on JFK Assassination Reveals ‘Organized Black Op’

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Why the Regime’s Regulatory Power Is a Standing Threat to America | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 21, 2021

Today, it is hard to believe that a president, the Pentagon, the CIA, or the NSA would make these types of direct threats to any U.S. company or its executives. But they don’t have to. Everyone knows what can happen to them if they decide to publicly criticize the sordid, dark-side activities of the national-security establishment. Discretion is the better part of valor, which has to be one big reason why most executives choose to remain silent. 

https://mises.org/wire/why-regimes-regulatory-power-standing-threat-america

Jacob G. Hornberger

Whenever some foreign regime that is independent of the U.S. Empire goes after dissenters, U.S. officials trot out the First Amendment to show how different the United States is. Here, people are free to criticize government officials without fear of being put in jail or otherwise punished for exercising their free speech rights, they proudly point out. 

However, what goes unexplained in such pious proclamations is why so many leading executives in big American companies remain silent when it comes to America’s foreign wars, foreign interventions, coups, alliances with dictators, torture, mass secret surveillance, indefinite detention, denial of due process, Gitmo, state-sponsored assassinations, and other dark-side activities of the U.S. national-security establishment.

The reason is that every one of those executives knows that federal officials are able to retaliate against them in indirect ways for criticizing their policies and operations. Such indirect methods of retaliation can consist of IRS audits, regulatory harassment, denial of applications for mergers and acquisitions, non-renewal of radio and television licenses, and even the threat of disclosure of personal secrets acquired through secret surveillance of emails and telephone records. 

A good example of free speech nullification involved President Lyndon Johnson, soon after he became president after the assassination of President Kennedy. Johnson’s indirect nullification of the First Amendment is set forth in Robert Caro’s book The Passage of Power.

Prior to the assassination, a Dallas reporter named Margaret Mayer had begun investigating Johnson’s radio and television stations in Austin. On the evening of Saturday, January 4, 1964, Johnson telephoned her paper’s managing editor and spoke directly about what he was prepared to do if the paper didn’t stop Mayer’s investigation. 

Johnson mentioned by name the paper’s publisher and board owner, its president, and the president of radio and television stations owned by the paper. He then made it clear that he was prepared to use all the powers at his disposal against them if they didn’t stop Mayer’s investigation, including IRS audits, both personal and business, as well as non-renewal of FCC licenses for the radio and television stations. 

Johnson demanded a response by the next morning. The next morning—Sunday morning—the editor telephoned the president and said, “We’ll take care of the thing tomorrow” and assured Johnson that his role would be kept secret. Mayer’s investigation was shut down.

Caro provides another example, one involving not just a reporter but rather an entire newspaper which had been critical of Johnson before the assassination. Johnson set out to stop the criticism.

The paper’s president also served as president of a local bank that was trying to merge with another Texas bank. Such mergers require federal approval. Both the Federal Reserve and the Justice Department opposed the merger. Using presidential aide Jack Valenti as an intermediary, Johnson told the paper that if it wanted the merger to go through, it would have to cease criticizing him. According to Caro, the paper became a supporter of Johnson, even endorsing him in the 1964 race. Johnson overruled the Fed and Justice Department and ordered the approval of the merger.

Caro provides another example of this phenomenon, one involving a Washington, D.C., correspondent for a Texas newspaper. The reporter had been critical of Johnson. Johnson telephoned the paper’s owner and mentioned Fort Worth’s Carswell Air Force Base as well as the recent decision to close the Fort Worth Army Depot. He also mentioned a project to make the Trinity River navigable for barges from the Gulf of Mexico to Fort Worth.

The paper squeezed out the reporter. Carswell remained in operation and ended up playing a big role in Johnson’s war in Vietnam. Johnson also made sure that one billion dollars in federal money went to the Trinity River project, although the project was never finished. 

Today, it is hard to believe that a president, the Pentagon, the CIA, or the NSA would make these types of direct threats to any U.S. company or its executives. But they don’t have to. Everyone knows what can happen to them if they decide to publicly criticize the sordid, dark-side activities of the national-security establishment. Discretion is the better part of valor, which has to be one big reason why most executives choose to remain silent. 

Author:

Jacob G. Hornberger

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Despite Withdrawal, U.S. Commits Billions to Fund Afghan Military | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 8, 2021

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/despite-withdrawal-u-s-commits-billions-to-fund-afghan-military/

by Jason Ditz

U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan was meant to mark the end of the war in Afghanistan. As it stands, however, it seems that the administration is going through any hoops possible that might keep the war going and the US deeply invested in it.

The latest sign of the Afghan War to come was envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and a delegation committing the U.S. to $3.3 billion annually in direct funding to the Afghan military. This is just one aspect of all the U.S. aid to Afghanistan still being negotiated.

The U.S. spent decades designing an Afghan military that the country could never afford, and it was assumed the U.S. would be on the hook for some subsidy. The sheer size of the funding, however, points to a U.S. vision that they’re going to keep fighting a war, and doing it on the US dime.

This is a problem more than just for the $3.3 billion annually. U.S. officials, both military and diplomatic, have insisted that they will be supporting the Afghan government in the long run, just in ways that won’t require keeping the U.S. troops on the ground there.

Everything that is going to entail remains to be seen, but the Pentagon is envisioning $8.9 billion in “direct war costs” for Afghanistan in 2022. That’s direct war costs for a war that’s supposed to be over.

The Pentagon has called what’s going to happen an “over-the-horizon capability” involving forces positioned outside Afghanistan. Yet if this is a direct war cost, these forces are clearly going to be doing something direct in the war. The definitely-not-over war.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com

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