USA—No Strategy Yet?
CNN wrote on August 29:
“It’s too soon to say what steps the United States will take against ISIS in Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday. ‘I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,’ Obama told reporters during a White House news briefing. ‘We don’t have a strategy yet.’”
President Obama’s Unpopular Strategy
Fox News wrote on September 3:
“President Obama does have a strategy on dealing with the Islamist militants who have been beheading Americans and slaughtering religious dissenters in Iraq and Syria, but he apparently doesn’t feel very comfortable talking about it. Trying to mop up his mess from last week when he said he didn’t have ‘a strategy yet’ for dealing with the group, the president veered a bit in his press conference on a trip to Estonia… but then clarified that his aim was not to destroy the Islamist army but to hem in its forces until it was ‘a manageable problem.’ One sees now why Obama has been so reluctant to share his strategy since it is not one which Americans will likely accept. He probably should have just stuck with ‘we don’t have a strategy yet.’…
“In Estonia today, President Obama gave his first news conference since Steven Sotloff was beheaded by Islamist militants [see our report below]. It was also the first time the president answered questions since his infamous ‘we have no strategy’ line last week. And the president did something remarkable: He dug deeper. The big news going in was to see how the president ‘cleaned up’ last week’s statement. So after a strong opening about the atrocity of the newest beheading, the president said the strategy is to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. But later, he backtracked and said [the] goal was to make ISIS a ‘manageable problem.’ So which is it? Destroy or manage? And how exactly do you manage barbarians who are beheading your citizens? What promised to be a clarifying moment instead offered more fuzzy wording. And we’re left again with the question – what is our strategy with ISIS?…”
Time published the following headline on September 2: “Obama Offers Muddled Message to Europe in Face of Crises.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel found stronger words than the Commander in Chief, saying on CNN on September 3 that the US is trying to destroy ISIS. But he also said that there will be no American boots on the ground, while admitting that airstrikes alone will not accomplish the goal. He never explained this glaring inconsistency.
Likewise, Vice President Joe Biden was far more outspoken than the President (even though this does not surprise too many), stating, according to Time (September 3) that “we will follow ISIS to the gates of hell because hell is where they will reside.”
USA Arms Lebanon—a Smart Move?
Reuters wrote on August 29:
“The United States has begun delivering nearly $20 million of arms including assault rifles, anti-tank missiles and mortars to bolster Lebanon’s army after Islamist insurgents seized a border town for several days this month…”
Germany Sends Weapons to the Kurds—A Smart Move?
The Local wrote on September 2:
“400 German citizens were currently fighting with Isis in Iraq and Syria and could return to carry out attacks in Europe, [Angela Merkel said]… For the first time, weapons from the Bundeswehr (German army) arsenal will be sent, including 40 machine guns, 500 anti-tank rockets, 16,000 rifles and 10,000 hand grenades.
“Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that the arms would be used to outfit 4,000 Kurdish soldiers by the end of September. Some of the soldiers may be brought to Germany to be trained in their use… In a symbolic vote late on Monday, the Bundestag supported the government’s plans, with CDU/CSU and SPD members voting for and the Left and Green parties largely opposed.
“Left party leader in the Bundestag Gregor Gysi and Green leader Anton Hofreiter said that Germany would lose control of the weapons once they had been delivered… However, [Foreign Minister] Steinmeier shared his concerns about arming the Kurds, possibly enabling their longer-term goal of an independent state… ‘An independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq would lead to more secessions in the rest of the country,’ he said, causing ‘new battles over new borders and state territories.’”
The Massacres of the Demonic ISIS
The website of npr.org wrote on August 29:
“Ever since the Islamic State seized Mosul more than two months ago, it’s been difficult to get a detailed picture of life inside Iraq’s second largest city. But glimpses have emerged. This week, the United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay, presented details of a massacre that took place at the city’s Badoush prison in June. Islamic State fighters seized more than 1,000 inmates. The group spared the lives of their fellow Sunni Muslims, but gunned down some 670 people.”
Newsmax wrote on August 29:
“Islamic State has issued a new video threatening the United States with more decapitations of prisoners and hostages while showing a Kurdish soldier being beheaded… The video was released just hours after the terror group… posted footage of the mass execution of 300 Syrian national army soldiers in the desert… The footage concludes with ISIS fighters parading near Mosul in armored personnel carriers, waving their black flags and brandishing weapons in the air…”
BBC News wrote on September 2:
“An Islamic State video has appeared which [shows] the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist [formerly with Time magazine] being held hostage by the militants… A militant in the latest video also threatens to kill a British hostage… The masked man, whose voice is similar to that of the executioner in the Foley video, then describes the act he is about to commit as retribution for the US air strikes…
“The US has launched more than 120 air strikes in Iraq in the last month, in an attempt to help Kurdish forces curb the advance of Islamic State militants and protect minorities threatened by them.”
ISIS Operates in Mexico, Plans Attack on USA
Judicial Watch wrote on August 31:
“Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices… High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued…
“Specifically, the government sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.
“Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to ‘carry out an attack on the border,’ according to one JW source. ‘It’s coming very soon,’ according to another high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as ‘ISIS and Al Qaeda.’…
“The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks…”
Islamist Terrorists in Possession of Stolen Libyan Passenger Jets?
The Washington Free Beacon wrote on September 2:
“Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.
“Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.
“Meanwhile, officials said Egyptian military forces appear to be preparing to intervene in Libya to prevent the country from becoming a failed state run by terrorists, many with ties to al Qaeda. Libya remains an oil-rich state and if the country is taken over completely by Islamist extremists, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe it will become another terrorist safe haven in the region.”
Breitbart added on September 3:
“According to veteran reporter Bill Gertz, U.S. officials said that they received intelligence indicating eleven commercial aircraft could be used to attack New York City or Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the September, 11, 2001 jihadi attacks on America… Tripoli Airport is currently occupied by two rival groups deemed ‘terrorists’ by the Libyan parliament: Misrata and Zintan, who had previously worked together to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.
“On Monday, Libyan officials announced that their capital city in Tripoli had been completely lost to Islamist forces…”
Threat from Foreigners Overstaying Their Student Visas?
Newsmax wrote on September 2:
“The Obama administration is unable to locate 6,000 foreign nationals who have entered the United States on student visas, raising concerns about the government’s ability to track potential terror suspects who may already be in the country… The news comes as Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to block British jihadists with passports from re-entering Britain…
“U.S. immigration officials have had difficulty keeping track of the escalating number of foreign students entering the United States. In the past year alone, 58,000 students overstayed their visas… There are currently 9,000 institutions of higher learning which are on the government approved list certifying them to accept overseas applicants. But Congress has raised concerns that immigration officials have continued to grant schools certification even when they lack accreditation, state certification, or other measurable academic standards…”
In an atmosphere of hysteria, even these harmless categories become the subject of suspicion. But the real threat comes from another source: To demand state certification or accreditation of universities is far-fetched and supports universities which follow the dictates of state and government school curriculums.
Sinai Terrorists Behead Four Egyptian Men
JTA wrote on August 28:
“Four Egyptian men were beheaded by a Sinai-based terror group for allegedly spying for Israel… The terror group said that the men provided intelligence to Israel used in a July airstrike on northern Sinai… The Egyptian army said at the time of the strike that no Israeli aircraft had been in Egyptian airspace.”
Ukraine Turmoil Heating Up
Reuters reported on September 1:
“In the latest in a string of setbacks in the past week, Ukraine’s military said it had pulled back from defending a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where troops had been battling a Russian tank battalion… Ukrainian armed forces… fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev and its Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin… called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the ‘statehood’ of southern and eastern Ukraine…
“[Ukrainian] Defense Minister Valery Heletey [said] that Ukraine no longer faced a threat from separatists but outright war with Russian troops…
“Putin made his statehood remarks two days after comparing the Kiev government with Nazis and warning the West not to ‘mess with us’…
“[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel took a hard line [advocating new sanctions against Russia], although she acknowledged the sanctions have hurt German exporters to the Russian market… EU leaders asked the executive European Commission to prepare further sanctions within a week…
“Putin called for the EU to think twice about stepping up the sanctions… ‘A political solution is the only way out. Sanctions do not help to solve the underlying problems in Ukraine,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
“Several EU countries heavily dependent on Russian gas supplies, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, opposed new measures, which require unanimous agreement. ‘I consider sanctions meaningless and counterproductive,’ Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Sunday. ‘I reserve a right to veto sanctions harming national interests of Slovakia.’”
Ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine?
Deutsche Welle reported on September 3:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko have said their two sides have reached a ceasefire deal… The ceasefire plan, agreed to during a telephone conversation, aims to end fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists…
“Putin spoke to the conditions of a ceasefire, saying Ukraine must withdraw all its troops and pro-Russian separatists must agree to stop offensive actions in eastern Ukraine. He said international monitors must be in place to observe any truce that is reached. The plan, published on the Kremlin’s website, says both sides must agree on an unconditional exchange of prisoners. It also rules out using combat aircraft against civilians in the conflict zone and calls for the creation of ‘humanitarian corridors’ for refugees and aid deliveries…
“Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk slammed Wednesday’s peace proposal announcement, calling it an attempt by Russia to deceive the West and avoid new sanctions. ‘The real plan is to destroy Ukraine and to restore the Soviet Union,’ he said in a statement. ‘All previous agreements made with Russia – in Geneva, in Normandy, in Berlin and Minsk – were ignored or brazenly violated by the Russian regime,’ Yatsenyuk added.”
…and Yatsenyuk is absolutely right.
New EU Sanctions Against Russia?
The EUobserver wrote on September 3:
“EU ambassadors are holding talks in Brussels on new proposals for Russia sanctions – seen by EUobserver – with ideas including ‘action’ to block its 2018 World Cup. The talks are taking place amid news of a ‘ceasefire process’ agreed between Kiev and Moscow, which EU diplomats regard with caution… [A proposal] adds that EU firms should stop providing ‘future associated services’ to Russian oil firms, in areas including: seismic services; drilling; well-testing; supply of floating vessels for deep water oil exploration and production; Arctic oil exploration and production; and shale oil projects in Russia…
“The ambassadors’ talks began after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced earlier on Wednesday that he had agreed a ‘ceasefire’ with Putin by phone. But Russia later quashed the news, saying it cannot agree a ceasefire because it is not a party to the conflict… A Kiev-based EU diplomat said Poroshenko was ‘tricked by the Russians into making the announcement – this just gave them another chance to deny involvement in the conflict’.”
Russia Has Severed Its Relationship with Europe
The Local wrote on September 2:
“Russia has ‘effectively severed its partnership’ with Europe and wants to establish a new order, German President Joachim Gauck said on Monday… Gauck [spoke] at a ceremony in Gdansk to mark the 75th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland that set off World War II. Invoking the ‘miracle’ of post-war reconciliation between Germans and Poles, Gauck said he was disappointed with the turn of events in Russia…
“‘It was a shock when we were confronted with a new conflict on Europe’s borders. An armed conflict aimed at establishing new borders and a new order. It’s a fact, stability and peace on our continent are once again endangered,’ he added…”
Putin’s Further Ambitions
International Business Times wrote on September 1:
“Fears are growing in Kazakhstan over Moscow’s rhetoric towards the country following Russia President Vladimir Putin’s claim that ‘Kazakhstan never had any statehood’, it was ‘created’… Kazakhstan was the last Soviet republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union when it finally did so in December 1991…
“Putin’s comments conjure memories of a statement he made to former US President George Bush in 2008 when he said that ‘Ukraine is not even a state!’ during a Bucharest summit… Russia’s annexation of the Crimea Peninsula and its alleged incursion into eastern Ukraine and support of pro-Russian separatists have contributed to fears in Astana that Moscow may set its sights on other areas of the former Soviet Union.”
The New York Times added on September 2:
“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia reportedly told a European official that he could ‘take Kiev in two weeks’ if he wanted to, adding a new dimension to the tensions building in Ukraine as Russian forces become more involved in the fighting there… The Kremlin did not deny the remark, which was published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Monday, but on Tuesday it denounced the European official, José Manuel Barroso, for leaking details of what Mr. Putin understood to be a private telephone call.”
What IF Russia Were to Cut Off Gas Exports to Europe?
The EUobserver wrote on September 3:
“Finland would experience gas shortages even if Russia cut off exports just for one month, while other EU countries would last between three to nine months without Russian gas, according to a German study… Since Finland has no storage capacities and 100 percent of its gas comes from Russia, it would be the first country to experience supply shortages – up to 10 percent in the first month and over 50 percent if Russia halts gas exports for three months.
“A three-month Russian embargo would leave Poland with a 1.8 billion cubic metre shortfall and Turkey with a shortfall of 3.8 billion metres. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, the Balkan countries and Estonia would feel the effects of a six-month embargo.
“Meanwhile, if Russia switches off the tap for nine months, gas supplies in Germany, Italy and France would be ‘severely affected’ and a total of 46 billion cubic metres of European gas demand could not be served. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia would also have problems, as well as the countries already in trouble after three months (Finland, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Austria, the entire Balkan, Estonia and Switzerland).
“The countries in which gas supply would be secure even during a nine-month disruption are those who still have their own gas reserves, such as Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK. Countries importing from their neighbours or with LNG terminals would also be safe: Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
“The study also looks at the impact of one extremely cold week during a six-month disruption: ‘Supply shortfalls would occur in almost the entirety of Europe.’ In that scenario, Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria would also be affected.
“But Russia would be hit too, as it would lose €4-4.5 billion of revenues for each month of an embargo, some 3.5 percent of Gazprom’s annual revenue…
“Similar ‘worse case scenarios’ are also being considered in the European Commission, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict is likely to affect the gas supplies to EU countries this winter. ‘That Putin would use false information, lies and weapons was beyond my imagination,’ energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in Brussels on Tuesday. ‘That’s why I am not ruling out worst case scenarios anymore,’ he added, referring to Europe’s energy security… Europe’s reliance on Russian gas is expected to last for at least another 10 years, according to US ratings agency Fitch. ‘Any attempt to improve energy security by reducing European reliance on Russia would require either a significant reduction in overall gas demand or a big increase in alternative sources of supply, but neither of these appears likely,’ Fitch said in a report on Tuesday.”
Planned NATO Military Exercise in Ukraine
Reuters reported on September 2:
“As fighting between the army and Russian-backed rebels rages in eastern Ukraine, preparations are under way near its western border for a joint military exercise this month with more than 1,000 troops from the United States and its allies. The decision to go ahead with the Rapid Trident exercise Sept. 16-26 is seen as a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine while stopping well short of military intervention in the conflict…
“In addition to staging air force exercises, the United States is moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for joint maneuvers in October, replacing a more lightly armed force of paratroopers…
“The United States European Command (EUCOM) says the exercise this month will involve about 200 U.S. personnel as well as 1,100 others from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania and Spain…”
Another NATO exercise in Ukraine (“Sea Breeze”) with 400 US soldiers and 600 Allied soldiers is planned for the end of October. Russia responded that these planned exercises constitute provocations, fearing that NATO troops will stay in Ukraine after the exercises. Russia announced that in retaliation, it will conduct military exercises with more than 4,000 soldiers.
Italy’s Federica Mogherini New EU Foreign Police Chief and Poland’s Donald Tusk New EU Council President
BBC News reported on August 30:
“EU leaders have appointed Italy’s Federica Mogherini as EU foreign policy chief and Poland’s Donald Tusk as European Council president… Ms Mogherini, a centre-left politician, is Italy’s foreign minister. She will replace the UK’s Catherine Ashton. Mr Tusk, Poland’s centre-right prime minister, has been Polish leader since 2007. He will chair EU summits.
“The full-time appointments mean that the EU’s three top jobs are now filled. Mr Tusk and Ms Mogherini will work closely with the new European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker… Mr Van Rompuy said Mr Tusk would face three major challenges: the stagnating European economy, the Ukraine crisis and ‘Britain’s place in Europe’. He said the EU leaders were convinced that Ms Mogherini, 41, ‘will prove a skilful and steadfast negotiator for Europe’s place in the world’. He noted Italy’s ‘long-standing tradition of commitment to the European Union’.”
Who Is Donald Tusk?
The Guardian wrote on August 31:
“The elevation of Donald Tusk to one of the top jobs in Europe marks a coming of age for his native Poland. Ten years after joining the EU, Poland has secured the presidency of the European council and its prime minister has become the fixer for and mediator between Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Matteo Renzi, David Cameron and other European leaders. Tusk has already won the prestigious Charlemagne prize for leadership.
“Quiet, unassuming, firm and politically ruthless, the German-speaking centre-right liberal from Gdansk, the cradle of Poland’s anti-communist, anti-Russian revolution, has been one of the EU’s most successful and most pro-European prime ministers of recent years at a time when faith in the EU has been tested.
“… under Tusk’s seven years in charge of Poland and with the help of his anglophile foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, the country performed a strategic shift, redefining the country’s national interest. Coming into the EU, Poland was a natural ally of Britain… wary of the Franco-German dominion that ran the EU until the 2004 enlargement.
“Tusk inherited a Poland that was hostile to Russia and intensely suspicious of Germany, for good historical reasons. The alliance with the UK was reinforced by Britain’s championing of Poland’s membership against deep-seated west European reservations…
“Under Tusk and Sikorski, this has all changed. The keen pro-Americanism waned, leaving a sour taste. Tusk and Sikorski concluded that Britain and David Cameron in particular were making a mess of their tactics and strategy in Europe and with other EU governments.
“Tusk bonded with Merkel, the EU’s first among equals, cemented a close Polish-German alliance, and concluded that Poland’s destiny rested on its closest possible European integration, setting it at odds with a UK travelling in the opposite direction.”
What If Yellowstone Were to Erupt?
Time wrote on September 2:
“An eruption could blanket the east coast in a few millimeters and bury the Rocky mountains in several meters of ash. If Yellowstone erupted into a massive, ash-spewing volcano, how far might the plume travel across the continental United States? From coast to coast, blanketing every city in ash, according to an unsettling new study…
“[The] resulting ash cloud, depending on wind conditions, would blanket the continental United States in ash deposits of varying thickness… New York and Washington D.C., would get a light dusting of ash measuring roughly one-tenth of an inch, while San Francisco and Seattle would get a heaping 2 inches. Billings, Montana, meanwhile, would have to dig out from a 70-inch pile up.
“If the findings sound far-flunged, so to speak, researchers point out that Yellowstone’s last massive eruption spewed ash over tens of thousands of square kilometers. Deposits from that eruption have been traced as far afield as Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the last time Yellowstone erupted on that scale was some 2 million years ago and counting…”
The above-mentioned report (published on onlinelibrary.wiley.com) reached the following conclusion:
“Geological activity at Yellowstone provides no signs that a supereruption will occur in the near future… [We] suggest a confidence of at least 99.9% that 21st-century society will not experience a Yellowstone supereruption. But over the span of geologic time, supereruptions have recurred somewhere on Earth every 100,000 years on average… As such, it is important to characterize the potential effects of such events. We hope this work stimulates further examination of ash transport during very large eruptions.”
Even IF one was to accept these figures as correct, since the last Yellowstone eruption allegedly took place 2 million years ago, and supereruptions occur on an average every 100,000 years, then this would mean that the Yellowstone eruption has been overdue for the last 1,900,000 years. This is not very assuring.