Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.
Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.
“Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children,” Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.
“Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city,” Shami said. “At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki’s army has killed and burned their bodies.”
While the Iraqi government has not cut the city’s water and electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that the Iraqi army, which they refer to as “Maliki’s forces,” continues to prevent medical supplies from entering the city.
- For Iraqis fleeing Fallujah, it’s 2004 again – but worse
- Iraq hosts arms exhibition as it battles militants
- Iraq Offers $17,200 Per Killed ‘Foreign Militant’
- U.S. says al-Qaeda is ‘skilled’ in exploiting Iraq
- US Steps Up Military Support for Iraq
- These are the 9 weapons the US is selling Iraq
- Sadr Slams Iraq PM Maliki as a Tyrant, Dictator
- Patrick Cockburn: The Political Retirement of Muqtada al-Sadr
- Congressman Mike Coffman Calls for Third Iraq War
- John Pilger: The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq can’t be ‘countered’ indefinitely
- Are We Witnessing the Break Up of Iraq?
- Iraq Near Implosion: The ‘Bad Years’ Are Back
- For Iraqi Politicians, Laws Are Only for Others
- Torture and hangings a trademark of Maliki’s reign
- Iraq a hotbed of human trafficking
- Iraq’s environment, water supply in severe decline
- Ten years on, the US are helping to destroy Fallujah again
- Ghosts of Baghdad: America’s Army of Contractors Hasn’t Gone Anywhere. They Just Work for The Iraqi Government
- Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre (Documentary)
We spent much of the eighties resisting Ronald Reagan’s new Cold War, and his new nuclear weapons of all shapes and sizes. We pushed back against his giant ‘defense’ budgets and countered his harrowing rhetoric. We knew Star Wars was a scam, and the MX missile a danger. We grimaced at his appointments to key policymaking positions, and scoffed at his insincere arms control efforts.
In the end, we prevailed (after a sort). We get much of the credit for preventing planetary incineration that seemed frighteningly close at the time (Gorbachev deserves some too). Professional activists, Plowshares heroes, and a handful of stalwart others stayed in the anti-nuclear weapons movement trenches. Although nukes were not abolished with the end of the Cold War, most of the rest of us nonetheless moved on to fight other evils, and to work on one or more better world construction projects.
It’s time to return. President Obama released his FY 2015 budget on Tuesday, March 4. Ready for this? It asks for considerably more money (in constant dollars) for nuclear weapons maintenance, design and production than Reagan spent in 1985, the historical peak of spending on nukes: $8.608 billion dollars, not counting administrative costs. The Los Alamos Study Group crunched the numbers for us.
President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad. The announcement on Wednesday comes at an awkward time as Russia currently stands accused of invading Ukraine, something most people recognize as one of the most un-peaceful things a leader can do.
Voice of Russia notes that the nomination had likely been submitted back in October, when Putin had just acted as a main figure in the deal to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons. This didn’t take into account that Putin was also providing Syria with conventional weapons, but such is the way the Nobel Peace Prize works. It’s a system much like the Pulitzer Prize, where it’s actually surprisingly easy to get nominated for the award and often doesn’t really mean anything.
The Marshall Islands marks 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll Saturday, with angry exiled residents saying they are too fearful ever to go home. Part of the intense Cold War nuclear arms race, the 15-megaton Bravo test on March 1, 1954 was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It vaporised one island and exposed thousands in the surrounding area to radioactive fallout. As those who remember that terrifying day and younger generations gather in the Marshall Islands’ capital of Majuro to commemorate the anniversary, many exiles refuse to go back to the zones that were contaminated, despite US safety assurances. ”I won’t move there,” Evelyn Ralpho-Jeadrik, 33, said of her home atoll, Rongelap, which was engulfed in a snowstorm of fallout from Bravo and evacuated two days after the test. ”I do not believe it’s safe and I don’t want to put my children at risk.”
People returned to live on Rongelap in 1957 but fled again in 1985 amid fears — later proved correct — about residual radiation. Rongelap, one of more than 60 in a necklace of coral islands, has been cleaned up as part of a US-funded $45 million programme, but Ralpho-Jeadrik has no intention of going back. ”I will be forever fearful. The US told my mother it was safe and they returned to Rongelap only to be contaminated again,” she said. It is not just their homes which have been lost, says Lani Kramer, 42, a councilwoman in Bikini’s local government, but an entire swathe of the islands’ culture. ”As a result of being displaced, we’ve lost our cultural heritage — our traditional customs and skills, which for thousands of years were passed down from generation to generation,” she said. Bikini islanders have lived in exile since they were moved for the first weapons tests in 1946, when Kramer’s own grandparents were evacuated. When US government scientists declared Bikini safe for resettlement, some residents were allowed to return in the early 1970s. But they were removed again in 1978 after ingesting high levels of radiation from eating local foods grown on the former nuclear test site.
At the beginning of this month, John Kerry vehemently dismissed the criticism that America is “retreating” from the world. Not even four weeks later, he is making that very criticism. He was right the first time. Like the John Kerry of February 1st, I can’t think of one single place in the world where the United States is withdrawing.
- Our State Department has helped usher in a change of government in Ukraine, as Washington continues to compete with Moscow for influence in a post-Soviet state that is of no vital interest to the U.S. Across Europe, in countries like Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, et al., Washington maintains military bases and continues to push for the expansion of NATO.
- The Obama administration continues to meddle in the Syrian civil war, futilely supporting rebel militias that are making the country and the region more dangerous; all the while demanding Assad step down, as if America has the God-given right to dictate heads of state.
- In Latin America, Washington is sending millions of dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela in the midst of instability and disorder because the U.S. has long opposed the leftist leadership. In places like Honduras, Washington is supportingcorruption, military repression, and fraudulent elections even as human rights groups publicly urge the U.S. to stay out of their internal affairs.
- In Israel and Palestine, the U.S. continues to pretend to be an impartial arbiter, even as it supports the Israeli government with $3 billion every year and all the advanced weapons systems it could want. The decades-long military occupation and creeping annexation of the West Bank is an issue which reverberates across the Middle East and the world and generates extreme hatred towards the U.S. thanks to our interventionism.
- The Obama administration has taken it upon itself to wage a secret, unaccountable drone war in which any target may be designated for extra-judicial assassination without any independent review or due process, in a legal view which understands the entire world as a legitimate battlefield. Drones have been deployed in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and others.
- The U.S. is increasingly supporting dictatorial governments in Africa – Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and beyond – to serve its own geopolitical ambitions. Joint Special Operations forces are conducting operations in Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, and training militaries in more than a dozen African countries.
- The Asia-Pivot is a plan to militarily encircle China with forward operating bases and a significant boost to our naval presence in across East Asia, all in an attempt to head off a Beijing with more economic and military influence, which we reserve for ourselves only.
- Not only does the U.S. maintain an empire of 1,000 military bases in over 130 countries around the world, but small units of elite special forces were secretly deployed into – at last count – 134 nations last year.
I could go on. I didn’t even mention the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the support of the Iraqi dictatorship putting the country on a path to civil war, Iran, etc. etc. No, unicorns don’t exist, the Earth isn’t flat, and the U.S. is not “in retreat.”
Black box recorders are a common feature in aircraft. They sit there keeping track of everything that is happening. Then, if something goes wrong the information can be reviewed to piece together exactly what happened and form a view of the events that may otherwise have been lost.
Now the Pentagon is attempting to develop a similar system for use in humans, and in particular soldiers who have suffered brain damage. If they could be fitted with a black box in their brain, then it may be possible to trigger memories surrounding a traumatic event and overcome memory loss quickly and easily.
Israeli companies in the field of cyber security raised $165 million in 2013, about 11% of the world total, Israel National Cyber Bureau chief Eviatar Matania told the Cabinet on Sunday. Israeli exports in the cyber field, he said, amounted to $3 billion, representing about 5% of the global market, and triple that of the United Kingdom. They represent about 14.5% of total cyber companies in the world.
“We established the INCB in order to assist turning Israel into a major cyber power,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the meeting. ”I see the INCB as spurring strong economic development, especially since there is considerable global interest in our abilities, and this can serve not only the defense component, but that of economic growth as well,” he added.
Last month, Israel launched CyberSpark, a high-tech park in Beersheba devoted to cyber security, and meant to take advantage of the proximity to Ben-Gurion University, the train, and future IDF bases. The park has already drawn investments from Lockheed Martin and IBM. The INCB and the chief scientist’s office have budgeted NIS 80 million, over two years, to support Israeli companies in the field.
The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.
“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.” Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.
It’s true that the devil is in the details. It is especially true, though, with legislative budgets. I wrote earlier about the Pentagon’s suggestions for $45 billion in cuts to its own budget and how much of it targets the bloated benefits plans for members of the military. Yay for cutting the defense budget. But the details are not so encouraging (as one would expect).
For example, “the Pentagon apparently still intends to retain 11 aircraft carriers, possibly cutting into modernization of the Navy’s surface combatant ships,” explains Cato’s Chris Preble. “As had been reported earlier, the venerable A-10 attack aircraft is going away, but the Pentagon remains committed to the troubled F-35.” The proposal was reported as one that would shrink the U.S. army to pre-WWII levels. Needless to say, that is disingenuous. Yes, troop levels will go “from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000″ to “between 440,000 and 450,000,” but other parts of the budget are getting a boost.
- The Winners and Losers in Obama’s Defense Spending Request
- Secretary Hagel’s Cuts Don’t Translate into Less Spending
- Defense Budget Proposal Postpones Key Choices
- Dick Cheney: Obama Should Cut Food Stamps, Not Defense
- Pentagon Troop Cut Plan Sets Up Battle in Congress
- Sources: Obama Administration To Slow Special Ops Funding
- Pentagon moving ahead with new vertical lift aircraft
- Laser Weapon System, Rail Guns Coming Soon For US Navy (Video)
- US Navy Would Receive Largest Piece of Fiscal ’16 Budget Boost
- New US Military Space Plane Aims for 2017 Liftoff
- DOD presses for EMF spectrum used by cell phones for next generation weapons
- Pentagon to buy fewer F-35 fighters
- F-35: The Jet that Ate the Pentagon (Video)
- Report: DoD Can Close Bases Without Congress
- Pentagon drops plan to retire USS George Washington
- Army Looks to Build Air-Droppable Armored Vehicle
- Defense contractors spend millions lobbying Congress, get billions in new budget
- White House Guidance: Increase Pentagon Budget Every Year
Move over, Peter O’ Toole. It’s Charles of Arabia time. Prince Charles switched to Lawrence mode when he went schmoozing and dancing in Riyadh this past Tuesday with the natives. And just like clockwork, the next day BAE Systems – Europe’s number one weapons peddler – announced that the UK and the House of Saud had agreed on “new pricing” for an extremely juicy deal; 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets.
The Eurofighter is a direct competitor of the spectacularly unsalable French Rafale and the very expensive American F-35s and F-16s. The Associated Press duly included in its dispatch – reproduced by virtually every newspaper around the world – the Washington-enforced meme “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are fortifying their military capabilities to counter a perceived threat from regional rivals, particularly Iran.” As if Tehran was going to bomb the House of Saud tomorrow.
The Eurofighter, on the other hand, has already been employed against fellow Arabs – as in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s humanitarian bombing of Libya back to failed-state status. It’s open to debate whether the House of Saud might be tempted to employ it against the enemy within: aspiring Saudi women drivers.
Brandishing the official excuse that near-nonagenarian King Abdullah was not able to receive him, Charles of Arabia declined to discuss with the House of Saud the absolutely appalling women’s rights, migrant workers’ rights and for that matter the full human rights situation in the kingdom. Of course not; this is only brought up when demonizing Russia, China and/or Iran.
This week Prince Charles flew to Saudi Arabia and danced for its autocratic rulers. The next day Saudi Arabia and arms company BAE Systems announced they had finalised their latest multi-billion pound weapons deal. Charles was in Saudi Arabia at the request of the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. BAE’s share price was set to fall this week unless agreement could be reached on its latest sales of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, so the UK government sent in the royals to seal the deal. As a Buckingham Palace spokesperson has said “Middle East potentates like meeting princes.”
Human rights organisations had highlighted Saudi Arabia’s appalling record on human rights and urged Charles to use his visit to promote reform. Instead he has sent a clear signal of support for repression. This is just the latest instalment in a shameful record of UK governments pulling out all the stops to help secure BAE’s weapons deals ‐ and of the royal family helping.
Prince Charles last visited Saudi Arabia only 11 months ago: the trip was explicitly requested by the UK government to help ‘enhance military links’. Just last month, Prince Andrew was promoting BAE’s jets to Saudi ally Bahrain – despite its own ongoing crackdown. The royal family claim to be apolitical – but these are not apolitical actions. They are political actions which put the interests of private weapons companies before human rights – and they are a shameful international representation of the UK.
Please add your voice to our petition to the Foreign Office and Buckingham Palace to say that the royal family should not be promoting arms sales. The media are reporting Charles’ ‘sword dance’ with glee, but very few outlets are focusing on the wider message he is sending. This morning, campaigners were threatened with arrest for unveiling a banner at Buckingham Palace to expose the royal family’s support for arms sales and human rights abuse. This message shouldn’t be hushed up. Please help to expose it!
The International Committee of the Red Cross has a message for the world: scrap all your nuclear weapons — and do it now.
Remarks from the group came during an international conference about the humanitarian impact of atomic weapons in Nayarit, Mexico on Feb. 13 .
“The humanitarian consequences following a nuclear explosion would cause unprecedented devastation,” said Fernando Suinaga, Mexican Red Cross president and member of the Movement in Nayarit. “Any rescue or relief operation undertaken by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for those affected would be virtually impossible.”
“The inability to ensure safe access for rescue teams would further complicate relief operations for the affected populations,” Suinaga added.
[...] For 25 years, during the latter half of the Cold War, the United States actually did deploy man-portable nuclear destruction in the form of the B-54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM). Soldiers from elite Army engineer and Special Forces units, as well as Navy SEALs and select Marines, trained to use the bombs, known as “backpack nukes,” on battlefronts from Eastern Europe to Korea to Iran — part of the U.S. military’s effort to ensure the containment and, if necessary, defeat of communist forces.
Throughout the standoff with the Soviet Union, the West had to wrestle with the fact that, in terms of sheer manpower and conventional armaments, Warsaw Pact forces had their NATO counterparts woefully outnumbered. For the United States, nuclear weapons were the great equalizer. In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower went a step further, unveiling the “New Look,” which sought to deter Soviet aggression on the cheap by threatening to respond to any attack with a nuclear onslaught of apocalyptic proportions — a doctrine known as “massive retaliation.” In this way, Ike thought he could hold back communism abroad and the military-industrial complex at home.
The strategy had a major flaw, however. Though massive retaliation was economical, it allowed the United States almost no flexibility in how it responded to enemy aggression. In the event that communist forces launched a limited, non-nuclear attack, the president would have to choose between defeat at the hands of a superior conventional force or a staggeringly disproportionate (and potentially suicidal) strategic nuclear exchange that would kill hundreds of millions of people.
To provide options between “red” and “dead,” the United States soon embraced the concept of limited nuclear war, championing tactical atomic weapons designed for use in combat. If Warsaw Pact forces ever bolted from East Germany and Czechoslovakia toward Western Europe, the United States could resort to nukes to at least delay the communist advance long enough for reinforcements to arrive. These “small” weapons, many of them more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, would have obliterated any battlefield and irradiated much of the surrounding area. But they provided options.
Hanford’s Dirty Secret: Federal Gov’t Refused To Take Action On Radiation Leak At Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
The U.S. military has been rocked by a series of scandals involving cheating, stealing, and corruption. The list of improprieties seems to get longer every day. Recent examples include missile control officers involved in a drug ring, and in cheating on certification tests; high ranking Navy officials accepting monetary bribes and liaisons with prostitutes in exchange for offering improper assistance to a major logistics contractor; Army recruiters manipulating a system of recruiting bonuses to line their own pockets; and instructors in the nuclear Navy cheating on tests on how to operate reactors used for training purposes.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is rightly alarmed about these incidents, and according to Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby “he sees this as a growing problem, and he’s concerned about the depth of this.” A review of the missile force is under way, and there are plans to make ethics a more integral part of the training process, and of promotion decisions. These reforms should move forward as quickly as possible. As John Kirby has noted, even though the vast majority of people serving in our armed forces are brave and honest, “it just takes a few to stain the integrity” of the entire force. That can’t be allowed to happen.
There’s plenty to deal with in addressing the scandals enumerated thus far. But sometimes the real scandal is what’s permitted, not what’s forbidden. That’s certainly the case with the privileges enjoyed by our military’s top brass. While he’s looking at ethics in the military, Secretary Hagel should take a hard look at the outsized benefits provided to our nation’s military leadership.
- Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny
- From the Pentagon to the private sector
- Report from Wasteland: America’s Military-Industrial Complex by Senator William Proxmire
- Star Creep: The Costs of a Top Heavy Military
- Does The Military Have Too Many Generals
- Lessons from around the world: Benchmarking performance in defense
The UK is about to commit to the F-35 fighter project, a US-led effort to produce 3,000 aircraft which is set to cost more than £600bn globally. The initial UK order for 14 F-35Bs will, with support costs added, cost about £2.5bn, Newsnight has learned. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the F-35B was an expensive plane, but one with an “incredible capability”. But critics have questioned Ministry of Defence suggestions that the jets will be combat capable by 2018.
The F35-B will be known as Lightning II in UK active service and is going to replace the already retired Harrier. The aircraft – capable of vertical landing – will eventually be able to fly from new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. The F-35 programme is central to the future of the Royal Navy and the military aerospace sector of the economy, but it has been plagued by development problems, is years late into service and the true cost to the UK is only just becoming clear.
The US has deployed a ballistic missile defense destroyer to Spain to boost NATO’s anti-missile shield in Europe. The move, allegedly aimed at curbing the Iranian threat, has sparked talks about Russia possibly scrapping the START nuclear treaty. The deployment of the Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis shipboard integrated combat weapons system, was announced by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Munich Security Conference.
“An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran,” Hagel said, adding that the US is committed “to deploying missile defense architecture there,”as a part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). Hagel also said that over the next two years, three additional Aegis-enabled missile defense-capable destroyers will join the effort to protect NATO countries on the European continent.
“Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense,” Hagel said, reiterating views he also expressed on a visit to Poland earlier last week. “There are some capabilities that the United States military will continue to invest heavily in,” Hagel told the Munich conference. “We will continue to be the world leader in those kinds of capabilities.” In his Munich speech, Hagel also mentioned that China and Russia “are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge and defense partnerships around the world.”
Britain’s role as one of the world’s leading military powers is under threat, an authoritative think-tank warns in a report that directly challenges claims by the prime minister. The UK has fallen behind Saudi Arabia and is now fifth in the arms expenditure league table, says the latest annual Military Balance survey, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
Responding to US criticism of cuts in military spending, David Cameron repeatedly insisted that Britain still had the fourth biggest defence budget. ”We have the fourth largest defence budget anywhere in the world. We are a first-class player in terms of defence and, as long as I am prime minister, that is the way it will stay,” Cameron said last month after the former US defence secretary Robert Gates said cuts meant Britain’s armed forces were no longer able to stand by the US as a “full partner”.
The IISS survey makes clear that while military spending is falling in the UK and throughout the west, it is rising fast elsewhere, notably in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Greater defence spending will lead to a relative shift towards Asia and away from Europe in a new balance of military power, it suggests.
Libya has destroyed with the help of Western countries the last known large stockpile of chemical weapons from the era of Muammar Gaddafi, officials said on Tuesday. Western countries had been concerned that the weapons might fall into the hands of Islamist militants and regional militias as the North African state grapples with widespread disorder more than two years after the uprising that ousted Gaddafi.
Militia groups and armed tribesmen control parts of a vast OPEC-member country awash with arms where the Tripoli government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has struggled to enforce its authority much beyond the capital Tripoli. Libya began dismantling its poison gas program after signing the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2004 but the operation ground to a halt in 2011 when the NATO-backed uprising against Gaddafi broke out.
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz told reporters that U.S., Canadian and German experts had helped destroy the chemical weapons stockpile in a region of southern Libya.
Saudi Arabia has long been a backroom player in the Middle East’s nuclear game of thrones, apparently content to bankroll the ambitions of Pakistan and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) to counter the rise of its mortal enemy, Iran. But as the West and Iran have moved closer to a nuclear accommodation, signs are emerging that the monarchy is ready to give the world a peek at a new missile strike force of its own – which has been upgraded with Washington’s careful connivance.
According to a well-placed intelligence source, Saudi Arabia bought ballistic missiles from China in 2007 in a hitherto unreported deal that won Washington’s quiet approval on the condition that CIA technical experts could verify they were not designed to carry nuclear warheads. The solid-fueled, medium-range DF-21 East Wind missiles are an improvement over the DF-3s the Saudis clandestinely acquired from China in 1988, experts say, although they differ on how much of an upgrade they were.
The German government has often drawn serious criticism for supporting defense deals with countries known to have democratic deficiencies. In the latest controversial move, SPIEGEL has learned that the new government in Berlin wants to secure a major defense deal with Saudi Arabia by offering Hermes export credit guarantees.
The information comes from a classified letter from a senior official in the Finance Ministry to the German parliament’s budget committee. The letter states that the German government intends to provide guarantees for the planned export of more than 100 patrol and border control boats to the Gulf state with a total value of around €1.4 billion ($1.9 billion). In the letter, official Steffen Kampeter writes of the “high importance in terms of economic and employment” of the deal, which includes contracts for the Bremen-based Lürssen Shipyard. Kampeter, a politician with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, asked for the “confidential handling of the business data” because negotiations are still in progress and competition is expected from other countries.
The plans are the first by the new government, comprised of Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democratic Party, to export weapons to the Gulf region. In 2011, the German government was criticized for plans to sell battle-tanks to Saudi Arabia after it helped rulers in neighboring Bahrain to violently suppress protests there during the Arab Spring. Despite it’s often pacifist positions on global security issues, Germany is also in the seemingly contradictory position of being one of the world’s largest arms exporters.
Uranium particles formed from exploding DU munitions are highly persistent in the environment, scientists have found. They are still hazardous after 30 years in soils or dumps and even their corrosion products are durable minerals. Campaigners have long argued that DU residues from conflict present a long-term risk to civilians.
This is due in part to the rate of radioactive decay from the isotopes in DU – and indeed DU gets more radioactive for thousands of years due to the in-growth of radioactive decay products. But as two new studies reveal, it is also because of the rate at which DU dust particles and intact or fragmentary DU penetrators corrode in the environment – and the corrosion products.
The manufacturing of tanks — powerful but cumbersome — is no longer essential, the military says. In modern warfare, forces must deploy quickly and “project power over great distances.” Submarines and long-range bombers are needed. Weapons such as drones — nimble and tactical — are the future. Tanks are something of a relic.
The Army has about 5,000 of them sitting idle or awaiting an upgrade. For the BAE Systems employees in York, keeping the armored vehicle in service means keeping a job. And jobs, after all, are what their representatives in Congress are working to protect in their home districts.
The Army is just one party to this decision. While the military sets its strategic priorities, it’s Congress that allocates money for any purchases. And the defense industry, which ultimately produces the weapons, seeks to influence both the military and Congress.