Voila - World War Three

SUBHEAD: Things are happening at lightning speed over in the region and beware of how the turmoil spreads from one flashpoint to another.

By James Kunstler on 30 June 2014 for Kunstler.com-

Image above: Shakir Wahiyib is a feared enforcer for ISIS who does not cover up his face in videos of his killings. From (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10899901/Iraq-crisis-the-bare-faced-ISIS-executioner-who-spreads-terror-with-his-open-killing.html).

[IB Publisher's note: As the Great Collapse and Peak Everything continue their relentless path the US continues to slip into irrelevancy. We thrash and gnash our teeth we are lossing ground in many foreign landscapes including Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South China Sea. We are seriously challenged by China and Russia and want our hegemony back. It's way late for that.]

Whoever really runs things these days for the semi-mummified royal administration down in Saudi Arabia must be leaving skid-marks in his small-clothes thinking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his ISIS army of psychopathic killers sweeping hither and thither through what is again being quaintly called “the Levant.”

ISIS just concluded an orgy of crucifixions up in Syria over the weekend, the victims being other Islamic militants who were not radical enough, or who had dallied with US support.

Crucifixion sends an interesting and complex message to various parties around this systemically fracturing globe. It’s a step back from the disabling horror of video beheadings, but it still packs a punch. For the Christian West, it re-awakens a certain central cultural narrative that had gone somnolent there for a century or so. ISIS’s message: If you thought the Romans were bad…. Among the human race, you see, the memories linger.

ISIS has successfully shocked the world over the last two weeks by negating eight years, several trillion dollars, and 4,500 battle deaths in the USA’s endeavor to turn Iraq into an obedient oil dispensary. Now they have gone and announced that their conquests of the moment amount to a Caliphate, that is, an Islamic theocracy.>

In that sense, they are at least out-doing America’s Republican Party, which has been trying to do something similar here from sea to shining sea but finds itself thwarted by hostile blue states on both coasts.

More to the point, the press (another quaint term, I suppose) is not paying any attention whatsoever to what goes down with ISIS and the other states besides Iraq and Syria in the region. I aver to Saudi Arabia especially because Americans seem to regard it as an impregnable bastion against the bloodthirsty craziness spreading over the rest of the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia is, of course, the keystone of OPEC. Saudi Arabia has had the distinction of remaining stable through all the escalating tumult of recent decades, reliably pumping out its roughly 10 million barrels a day like Bossy the cow in America’s oil import barn.

Or seeming to remain stable, I should say, because the Saud family royal administration of mummified rulers and senile princes looks more and more like a Potemkin monarchy every month. 90-year-old King Abdullah has been rumored to be on life support lo these last two years, his successor brothers already dead and gone, and other powerful Arabian clans with leaders who can walk across a room and speak itching to kick this zombie Saud family off the throne.

To make matters worse, the Sauds have also managed to sponsor much of the organized Sunni terrorism in the region (around the world, really) in their role as the chief enemy of the Shia ­— as represented by the politicized clergy of Iran.

Things are happening at lightning speed over in the region and beware of how the turmoil spreads from one flashpoint to another. This would be an opportunity for ISIS to put the Saud family on the spot regarding the just-announced Caliphate — as in the question: who really calls the shots for this new theocratic kingdom? (Answer: maybe not you, doddering, mummified, America suck-up Saudi Arabia).

What’s more, what happens to the other kingdoms and rickety states in that corner of the world? For instance, Lebanon, which has been a sort of political demolition derby for three decades.

The founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), pre-cursor to ISIS, was the Lebanese Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi — blown up in a USA air strike some years ago. Lebanon has been under the sway of Hezbollah for a decade and Hezbollah is sponsored by Shi’ite Iran, making it an enemy of ISIS. Might ISIS roll westward over Hezbollah now to capture the pearl of the Mediterranean (or what’s left of it) Beirut? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Then there’s Jordan, and it’s youngish King Abdullah, another notorious USA ass-kisser. Those crucifixion photos coming out of Syria must be making him a little loose in the bowels. And, of course, Syria, where this whole thing started, is a smoldering rump-roast of a state. And finally, that bugbear in the bull’s-eye of the old Levant: Israel.

It is miraculous that Israel has managed so far to stay out of the way of this juggernaut. Of course, among its chief enemies are Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s foster father, Iran, which happen to be the enemy of ISIS and, of course, in that part of the world the enemy of my enemy is my ally — though, I’m sorry, it’s rather impossible to imagine Israel getting all chummy with the psychopaths of ISIS.

One thing is a fact: all other things being equal, Israel has the capability of turning any other state or kingdom in the region into an ashtray, if push came to shove. Voila: World War Three.

Ukraine attacks as cease fire ends 

SUBHEAD:  Russian  stressed the need to extend the cease-fire and also establish a reliable mechanism for monitoring it.

By Laura Smith park & Alia Eshchenko on 1 July 2014 for CNN -

Image above: A pro-Russian rebel prepares to fire a rocket propelled grenade during clashes as they attack a border guard base held by Ukrainian troops. From (http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/russia-calls-un-meeting-to-seek-cease-fire-in-ukraine-1.1849601).

Ukrainian forces began military operations in the east of the country Tuesday, marking a definite end to a unilateral cease-fire that had been in place for 10 days.

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, told lawmakers the government's "anti-terror operation" against pro-Russia separatists had been "renewed."

Ukrainian armed forces have been conducting "attacks on terrorists' bases and defended posts," he said.

The announcement came hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that his country would not renew a cease-fire with the separatists, vowing instead to "attack and liberate our land."

"Termination of cease-fire is our response to terrorists, insurgents, marauders ... and (those who) deprive people of normal peaceful life," Poroshenko said.

In a statement on his website, Poroshenko congratulated Ukraine's armed forces and border guards for re-establishing control over the checkpoint at Dolzhanskyi, in "the first victory since the restoration of the CTO," a reference to the government's Counterterrorist Operation. He said the armed forces and the State Border Service of Ukraine regained control over the checkpoint and combat engineers removed mines from the checkpoint and adjacent roads.

Violence flared Tuesday in Donetsk, one of the cities at the heart of the separatist unrest.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, on his official Facebook page, said that militants had launched an attack on a regional police headquarters building in Donetsk, killing one police officer and badly injuring two more.

Avakov said the police were barricaded inside the building in the city of Donetsk and that the fighting was ongoing.

The Interior Ministry later said three people were seriously injured -- one woman and two special forces policemen. Three others were injured and hospitalized, the ministry said.

Police successfully fought back the attack, the ministry said on its website.

On its website, the Donetsk regional state administration said Ukrainian forces attacked the central part of Kramatorsk from the air and ground. A bus attack in Kramatorsk left four people dead and five others injured. The statement did not say which side in the conflict carried out that attack.

Yuriy Stets, information security head for the National Guard and a parliamentarian, told CNN that the National Guard had regained control of Zakotne, near Slovyansk, and were targeting two other towns.

Cease-fire hopes dashed

The fragile cease-fire expired at midnight Monday, hours after Poroshenko spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Poroshenko also talked on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The cease-fire -- agreed on last month amid a volatile political crisis -- raised hopes that Ukraine could be moving back from the brink of full-fledged civil war.

As part of a peace plan, Poroshenko urged the rebels to lay down their arms and engage in talks. He also called for the strengthening of Ukraine-Russia border controls, the freeing of hostages and changes to the constitution to decentralize power.

In his statement, Poroshenko said the militants had failed to take up a "unique opportunity" to support the peace plan and had instead violated the unilateral cease-fire more than 100 times.

Putin, addressing Russian diplomats in Moscow, said he regretted the decision to end the cease-fire.

"Unfortunately, President Poroshenko decided to resume a military operation. I and my EU colleagues could not convince him" of the need to settle the crisis peacefully.

Putin: 'Only on equal terms'

Putin said Russia had been obliged to annex Ukraine's Crimea region in March in order to prevent NATO forces entering, which would have created "a completely different alignment of forces."

He told the diplomats that they would "face growing pressure in defending national interests" and that "the events provoked by the West in Ukraine have become a concentrated political expression of deterrence toward Russia."

Putin also referred to Russia's tense relationship with the United States, suggesting that the current crisis was born of the West's attempts to impose its own way of doing things on the rest of the world.

"Our relationship with the United States is not the best at the moment," he said.

"We have always tried to be predictable partners, handle business on an equal basis, but in return our legal interests were partially ignored and are still ignored. Russian and U.S. contacts have a great meaning for the entire world.

"We are ready for constructive dialogue, but again I emphasize only on equal terms."

Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Tuesday that the refusal to extend the cease-fire is a "negative sign," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

"This makes it even harder to understand the logic of how the confirmation of the so-called 15-point peace plan correlates with the refusal to prolong truce," Chizhov was quoted as saying by state news agency ITAR-Tass.

'Enemies and invaders'

Poroshenko declared in a late-night televised address that the cease-fire was over.

In Kiev's Independence Square, known as Maidan, activists outside the presidential administration building applauded Poroshenko's stance.

"We need only military actions," a priest named Valentyn said in a Reuters interview. "We were forced by those who entered our country as enemies and invaders."

The crisis has its roots in former President Viktor Yanukovych's decision last year to shun a European Union Association Agreement and turn toward Russia instead. The move unleashed deadly strife that led to Yanukovych's ouster, Ukraine's loss of Crimea, and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion. Russia also massed troops along its western border with Ukraine.

The Association Agreement, which will bring closer trade and political ties between Ukraine and Europe, was finally signed by Poroshenko and European leaders last week.

After Monday's phone call, Poroshenko said his goal was peace but insisted it takes the participation of all parties to maintain stability, noting violations of the cease-fire by pro-Russia separatists.

The Ukrainian government "has been completely fulfilling its commitments and unilaterally complying with the ceasefire regime for 10 days and paid dozens of lives for that," he said.

Peace talks were held last week among Ukrainian government officials, pro-Russia separatists from the restive eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Russian officials, and members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

'Bloody truce'

Activist Vadym told Reuters there was no point in continuing the cease-fire.

"There is definitely no need for an extension of the truce," he said. "Because a lot of our boys died during this truce."

Fellow activist Yulia agreed.

"Bloody military actions are better than such bloody truce," she said. "We must put an end to it once and that's all."

A statement from Putin's press office about the call said the Russian President "stressed the need to extend the cease-fire and also establish a reliable mechanism for monitoring" it.

Philippine & US troops at South China Sea

SUBHEAD: More than 200 US and Filipino Marines launched a mock amphibious assault on Monday on an enemy beachfront close to a disputed South China Sea outcrop.

By AFP Staff on 30 June 2014 in Channel News - 

Image above: Philippine Marines walk past a US Marine amphibious assault vehicle during a mock beach assault as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT14) during RIMPAC14.)

More than 200 US and Filipino Marines launched a mock amphibious assault on Monday on an enemy beachfront close to a disputed South China Sea outcrop.

Amid driving rain and rough waves, five amphibious assault tanks roared off from a US destroyer anchored off Zambales province, about two hours drive northwest of Manila, and landed on the soggy beach peppered with imaginary foes.

US Marines scanned the horizon on scopes mounted on assault rifles as they dramatically emerged from the hatch, while their Filipino counterparts took firing positions on the ground.

Shots later rang out towards enemy positions in an assault that lasted about an hour.

The drill was part of week-long, annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training that the United States bilaterally holds with Asian allies, including the Philippines, to boost maritime security.

About 1,000 US and Filipino troops and five warships, including an American missile destroyer, took part in the training, which began last week.

Philippine fleet commander Jaime Bernardino told reporters at the start of the war games last week that they were designed to upgrade the Filipino navy's capability in guarding the country's long coastline.

"These are the gaps that we would like to address (to) make sure we detect (foreign vessels) properly, we intercept them and we neutralise them if necessary," he had said.

Monday's exercise took place on an uninhabited beach near a naval outpost on Zambales on Luzon island, 220 kilometres (137 miles) east of Scarborough Shoal on the South China Sea.

The shoal, a traditionally-rich fishing ground, has been effectively taken over by China following a tense year-long stand-off with the Philippines in 2012.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters near its smaller neighbours' shores.
It has been accused of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the sea, a vital shipping lane also believed to contain vast oil and mineral deposits. Parts of the sea are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Filipino military officials had said the manoeuvres were designed to plug "capability gaps" within the Philippine military, considered one of the weakest in the region.

The Philippines has increasingly looked at the United States to boost its military capabilities amid the Chinese threat.

In recent years, the Philippine acquired two US ships to patrol its coasts.

In April, the allies signed a defence pact that would see thousands of US troops stationed in the country in the next decade, including in Subic Bay.

Clearing way for wider military role
SUBHEAD: Japan opens door for Self Defense Force use abroad; Abe says risk of war lessens.

By Staff on 1 July 2014 for Asahi Shimbun -

Image above American Marines and Japanese special Self Defense Force members emerge from US Osprey helicopters for joint  battle simulation in California. From original article.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is poised to achieve his long-held goal of reinterpreting Article 9 of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to engage in collective self-defense under the U.N. Charter.

In February, Abe reconvened an advisory panel of security experts for the first time since his previous, short-lived stint as prime minister nearly six years ago. He also appointed Ambassador to France Ichiro Komatsu, a collective defense advocate, as new head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, which has long upheld the ban on collective defense according to the government’s current interpretation of Article 9, which renounces the use of force to settle international disputes.

Reinterpreting Article 9, which Abe eventually hopes to amend, would be a big change for a nation that has effectively had a defense-only posture since the war.

Here are some questions and answers on collective self-defense and interpreting the Constitution:

What is the right?
Article 51 of the United Nations Charter authorizes member states to exercise collective self-defense — the use of force to defend an ally under armed attack.

Japan thus has this right under international law, but the government has banned its use because it implies the use of force beyond what is necessary to defend Japan.

Article 9 states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
The present interpretation dates to a report submitted to the Diet in 1972 by the then-Liberal Democratic Party-led government. The report said Japan as a sovereign state is entitled to the right to collective self-defense under international law but cannot exercise it under Article 9.

This stance was repeated in 1981. Then-LDP Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki’s Cabinet said in a written response submitted to the Lower House that Article 9 allows only minimum self-defense and any collective activity would go beyond that scope, thus the exercise of that right is banned by the Constitution, which took effect in 1947. This interpretation stands.

Collective self-defense did not become a major bone of contention until 1960, when the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised and questions were raised about whether the Constitution allows Japan to send the Self-Defense Forces overseas to defend an ally.

As demands from the U.S. for Japan to boost its defense cooperation increased in the 1980s and as the SDF started to participate in joint military exercises with the U.S., the debate heated up, leading the government to clarify Japan’s stance on the use of force other than for its own defense.

Why has Abe been eager to change the status quo?
The general argument has been that Japan needs to strengthen its security alliance with the U.S. to counter North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear threats and China’s expanding military might and provocations in the East China Sea. Cybersecurity and terrorism are also new angles Japan needs to consider, experts say.

What did the advisory panel set up in 2007 discuss?
Abe presented four hypothetical scenarios to the panel in 2007, asking them to determine if Japan can act on them.

In response, the panel compiled a report in 2008 recommending Japan be allowed to use force in all the scenarios, which included: shooting down a ballistic missile headed toward the U.S.; defending U.S. military ships on the high seas that are in joint operations with the SDF; using arms in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations to defend allied troops; and providing logistic support for U.N.-led troops fighting overseas.

After Abe stepped down in 2007, the panel in June 2008 submitted its recommendations to his successor, Yasuo Fukuda, who took no further action.

When Abe revived the panel in February, he picked the same 13 experts, headed by ex-Ambassador to the U.S. Shunji Yanai, to resume talks on lifting the self-imposed ban. The panel plans to make its recommendations by year’s end.

Will the same four scenarios be revisited?
The panel is reportedly expected to discuss more than the four hypothetical cases this time.
It will also consider extending the parameters of collective self-defense to include other countries than the U.S. They also plan to weigh whether to aid countries that defend sea lanes to protect oil shipments from the Middle East, reports said.

International University President Shinichi Kitaoka, the panel’s acting chairman, said in a recent interview with Kyodo News that its new report will state Japan can exercise the right of collective self-defense when “countries with close ties” are under attack.

Although Kitaoka said the panel won’t specify which countries Japan may seek to defend, Australia, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations were floated at its February meeting.

Last week, Kitaoka said his team is also looking at allowing Japan to engage in U.N.-led collective security — as allowed by the U.N. Charter. This is an arrangement whereby nations agree to take joint action against a state that attacks any one of them.

Can the government engage in collective self-defense merely by reinterpreting Article 9?
No. It will also need to change any laws related to the execution of the right, including the Self-Defense Forces Law, to stipulate the procedures and other details needed for the SDF to do so.

What opposition would a reinterpretation face?
The Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and even the LDP’s junior partner, New Komeito, are opposed to reinterpreting Article 9 and collective self-defense in any way.

But lifting the ban would also draw heavy criticism from China and what is now South Korea, which suffered heavily from Japanese conquest during the war.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot 6/28/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's PMRF is bang out of sight 6/26/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Then and Now 5/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Asian Pivot - An ugly dance 12/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Help save Mariana Islands 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End RimPac destruction of Pacific 11/1/13 
Ea O Ka Aina: Moana Nui Confereence 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to conquer Marianas again  9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Pagan Island beauty threatened 10/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Next-War-Itis 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: America bullies Koreans 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Despoiling Jeju island coast begins 3/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju Islanders protests Navy Base 2/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii - Start of American Empire 2/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Korean Island of Peace 2/26/12   
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - One 8/31/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Peace for the Blue Continent 8/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RimPac to expand activities 6/29/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War Games here in July 6/20/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 - Impact on Ocean 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 - Whale strandings on Kauai 9/2/04
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04 .

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