In a book published in early January, La Repubblica delle stragi impunite (The Republic of the Unpunished Massacres. The unpublished papers of the bloody events that have shaken our country), Italian Judge Ferdinando Imposimato places the blame on NATO for organizing the bloody attacks that ripped through Italy during the 1980’s.
Honorable Imposimato presided over several terrorism-related cases, including the kidnapping and ultimate assassination of President Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He was a leading anti-Mafia and is currently honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) under the label of the Democratic Party of the Left and subsequently to the Senate.
The book comprises, in particular, a 1967 document pointing to the involvement of the Bilderberg Group, a club that brings together the most influential people to defend the interests of NATO.
by Prof Michel Chossudovsky
NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been dispatched to Seoul for high level consultations.
The official disclaimer is that this has nothing to do with the ongoing US-DPRK confrontation. “The trip was long-planned and not connected with North Korean threats of nuclear war”.
Rasmussen is slated to meet the newly-elected President Park Geun-hye, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin.
Although unconfirmed, Rasmussen will likely also meet up with military brass of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command.
When asked if the trip was in any way linked with rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, a NATO official candidly responded that
“Rather than the current crisis, it would instead cover Afghanistan where non-member South Korea has contributed some 350 troops to NATO-led forces fighting the Taliban” (NATO official statement quoted by AFP, April 9, 2013)
It is worth noting that Rasmussen’s presence in Seoul coincides with the visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
What is at stake are high level discussions.
The presence of Rasmussen also confirms that NATO has taken on a global military mandate well beyond the confines of the so-called “Atlantic region”.
It also points to the possible military involvement at some future date of NATO member states in the Korean Peninsula.
by Paul Joseph Watson
Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and former Senior Investigative Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, the man who prosecuted the case involving the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II, has sensationally accused the Bilderberg Group of being behind terrorist attacks in Europe.
In an interview with the ArticoloTre website, Imposimato, who was also involved in the case involving the kidnapping and murder of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, said that he “found a document that left me appalled” implicating the Bilderberg Group in conspiring with the far right organization Ordine Nuovo to commit terror attacks.
Speaking of unsolved murders in Italy and the document in his possession, Imposimato stated, “When it comes to slaughter it also speaks of the Bilderberg Group. I believe this document. I did some tests and I can say that behind the strategy of tension and the slaughters there is also the Bilderberg group, a sort of Big Brother is over, maneuvering, using terrorists and Masons. “
The “strategy of tension” refers to a policy under the auspices of Operation Gladio, a NATO cold war “stay behind” project that sought to create an expedient political climate in Europe by having its agents carry out terror attacks which were then blamed on both far left and far right political groups.
Gladio was designed to demonize political opposition and “force the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security,” according to the testimony of former Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra. In 2000, an Italian parliamentary investigation found that the 1980 Bologna train bombing, which killed 85 people, was carried out by “men inside Italian state institutions and … men linked to the structures of United States intelligence.”
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game,” Vinciguerra explained in sworn testimony.
“The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened,” he added.
Imposimato stated that he was given the document by a former Ordine Nuovo terrorist. Members of Ordine Nuovo (Italian for “New Order”) participated in numerous deadly terrorist attacks, including the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, the 1970 Rome-Messina train attack, the 1974 Piazza della Loggia bombing in Brescia, and the Italicus Express bombing in 1974.
The Bilderberg Group is an annual confab of around 120 of the most influential power brokers on the planet from the world of politics, business, banking, academia, media, and even royalty. The organization’s yearly meeting is held in a plush hotel resort in either Europe, Canada or America, but despite a plethora of heavy hitters in attendance, the mainstream media affords the event scant coverage, labeling it a mere talking shop despite former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg member Willy Claes’ 2010 admission that Bilderberg attendees are mandated to implement policy decisions that are formulated during the meeting.
There are innumerable other examples of how Bilderberg has influenced major global events ahead of time, picking Presidents and Prime Ministers on a regular basis with total contempt for the democratic process.
In 2009, Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon even bragged about how the Euro single currency was a brainchild of the Bilderberg Group.
Imposimato’s broadside against Bilderberg follows in the footsteps of his compatriot Alfonso Luigi Marra, a prominent lawyer who recently requested that the Public Prosecutor of Rome investigate the Bilderberg Group for criminal activity, questioning whether the elitist organization’s 2011 meeting in Switzerland led to the selection of Mario Monti as Prime Minister of Italy.
Labeling the group a “unique, illegal brotherhood” of elitists who consider themselves to be “above the law,” Marra pointed the finger at Bilderberg for engineering wars, economic collapses, and arming dictators, activities which, “constitute an obvious, blatant violation, to say the least, of the articles of the Criminal Code.”
The precise date and location of the 2013 Bilderberg meeting is yet to be confirmed, although speculation has centered around the confab taking place somewhere near London in early June.
by John Daly
[...] China’s apparent if unstated strategy to deal with this threat [US-NATO expansion strategy] is very different from the USSR, which sought to match Washington bomber for bomber, missile for missile, submarine for submarine, effectively running the country’s economy into the ground.
No, China has proved a much more cunning enemy, drawing on its vast history and its premier military strategist, Sun Tzu, who wrote in his seminal work, “The Art of War” more than two millennia ago, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
China’s secret weapon?
Rick Rozoff: The US and NATO need a reason to expand into the Asia-Pacific Region, and North Korea serves that purpose ~ VoR
213,000 military personnel are involved in live fire training “exercises” involving nuclear capable hardware near North Korea’s borders. Hence it is no surprise North Korea feels threatened. Even if North Korea did not exist as the “evil” threat in the region, the United States would need to create a boogey man to justify its pre-planned military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. Voice of Russia regular contributor Rick Rozoff, from Stop NATO, spoke about these things and more in this interview.
An Illinois judge has declined to drop terrorism charges against three men accused of planning violence during the NATO summit in Chicago last year.
Cook County Judge Thaddeus Wilson said the state terrorism law under which the so-called “NATO 3″ were charged was “constitutional on its face,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.
Wilson said the attorneys for Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly could still argue the constitutionality of the law when the case goes to trial later this year.
The trio are charged with plotting to attack President Obama‘s campaign headquarters and the mayor’s home during the summit.
The terrorism charges their attorneys wanted thrown out include providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and two counts of possession of an incendiary device with intent to commit an act of terrorism.
It is only the second time the law has been used since it was passed following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Chase’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, slammed authorities for “selectively” using the law, charging they “pulled this statute out of their bag of tricks just for publicity purposes.”
Gunmen in Pakistan on Monday set ablaze five trucks carrying Nato equipment out of Afghanistan as the international military alliance winds down its combat mission there, officials said.
Four masked gunmen on two motorbikes opened fire at the vehicles, forcing them to stop and then doused them in petrol to set them on fire in the southwestern province Baluchistan.
“Five Nato trucks were carrying Nato equipment back. Gunmen first fired on the first vehicle and then sprinkled petrol on all of them,” Iftikhar Bugti, a senior government official told AFP by telephone.
The incident happened in Bolan district, around 120kms southeast of Quetta, the provincial capital.
“All five trucks have been almost completely destroyed,” Bugti said. One driver was slightly injured in the attack, he added.
by Jason Ditz
In comments to Britain’s The Independent today, Lt. Gen. Nick Carter, the top British commander in Afghanistan, and indeed the second-in-command for the entire NATO occupation, warned against any calls to withdraw troops from the nation.
Carter said that any cuts above and beyond the trivial ones agreed to beforehand would be “unforgivable” and would threaten the “progress” that the past 11 and a half years of occupation has produced.
“Our judgement is we have to manage this in a way that retains confidence,” Carter added, saying any cuts would ruin the Afghan government’s confidence of long-term deployment of NATO troops.
Carter’s confidence appears to run opposite to an internal report from the British Defense Ministry, which ruled the Afghan war “unwinnable,” saying that NATO following the same trail as the Soviet Union, whose own occupation ended with a precipitous withdrawal and the quick collapse of the Soviet-backed regime, which included many of the same elements as the new NATO-backed government.
Britain’s political leadership has talked up accelerating the withdrawal in recent months, and Chancellor George Osborne has called for a full withdrawal of troops immediately, saying they serve no apparent purpose.
by Gabriela Baczynska
NATO hopes a U.S. change to global missile defenses will dispel Russian concern and foster cooperation on an issue that has long strained relations, alliance Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said in an interview.
Russia has said U.S. missile shield plans could erode its nuclear deterrent. It has softened criticism since Washington announced on March 16 that it would station 14 missile interceptors in Alaska in response to North Korean nuclear threats and at the same time forgo a new type of interceptor that would have been deployed in Europe.
However, Moscow has said it wants a series of consultations on the new shield set-up and U.S. andRussian defense officials are expected to hold talks on that in the coming weeks.
Moscow has long been at odds with the West over anti-missile defenses it has begun to establish in Europe, which both the United States and NATO say are aimed at preventing any attack from Iran and pose no threat to old Cold War foe Russia.
[...] Moscow has frequently said it is unlikely to go for further cuts in its nuclear arsenal unless Washington satisfactorily addresses its concerns about the defense system Washington has started to deploy in Europe in cooperation with NATO partners.
Russia is also pushing to host a meeting of defense ministers of NATO and Russia in Moscow in May and some in Russia have expressed hope for progress by then.
But Moscow is sticking to its demand for legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be aimed at Russia, a request rejected by NATO and the United States.
Any significant progress may be difficult because of Russian concern that developing NATO infrastructure in central and eastern Europe is tipping the post-Cold War balance of power.
by John Glaser
NATO reiterated on Tuesday it had no intention of conducting any military intervention in Syria’s conflict after a Syrian opposition leader again urged the United States to intervene on behalf of the rebels by protecting and reinforcing rebel-held areas.
“NATO has no intention to intervene militarily in Syria,” a NATO official said in response to a request from Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib for American forces to defend rebel fighters with Patriot missiles.
“I have asked Mr Kerry to extend the umbrella of the Patriot missiles to cover the Syrian north and he promised to study the subject,” Alkhatib said.
While the US has all but taken direct military action off the table, it has been increasing its involvement in the Syrian conflict by proxy, helping send arms from throughout the region to rebel fighters and even training some in neighboring Jordan.
The Obama administration claims these efforts to arm and train the Syrian rebels are intended to bolster the so-called moderate elements of the opposition, but intelligence officials have previously criticized America’s capacity to do so.
US interventionism in Syria is contributing to a proxy war being played out by virtually all the region’s players. Syria maintains Russia’s backing, as well as Iran’s, while Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and others aggressively back the Syrian rebels, many of whom would prove dangerous if brought to power.
“The moderate political and military command structure the U.S. has been trying to foster within the Syrian opposition appears to be fracturing, a victim of bitter Arab regional rivalries,” writes The Washington Post‘s David Ingatius, with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states promoting Sunni jihadists and Qatar and Turkey pushing for an Islamist-led government by the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.
A cyberattack that sabotaged Iran’s uranium enrichment program was an “act of force” and was likely illegal, according to research commissioned by NATO’s cyberwarfare center.
“Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force” and likely violate international law, according to the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, a study produced by international legal experts at the request of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia.
Acts of force are prohibited under the United Nations charter, except when done in self-defense, Michael Schmitt, professor of international law at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island and lead author of the study, told the Washington Times.
The 20 experts who produced the study were unanimous that Stuxnet was an act of force, but were less clear about whether the cyber sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program constituted an “armed attack,” which would entitle Iran to use counterforce in self-defense. An armed attack constitutes a start of international hostilities under which the Geneva Convention’s laws of war would apply.
Stuxnet was launched in 2009 and 2010, and possibly 2008 as well, and targeted cascades and centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Iran. The cyberweapon was reportedly designed by Israel and the U.S. in an effort to set back Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon, though the U.S. has not officially acknowledged its role in the attack. Until the attacks occurred, intelligence agencies speculated that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon by 2010. The attacks by Stuxnet are believed to have set back the program by an estimated three years.
The 300-page NATO manual was produced by 20 researchers, including legal scholars and senior military lawyers from NATO countries, with assistance from cybersecurity analysts.
A U.S. plan to deploy missile defenseinterceptors to Poland and Romania has been a source of assurance to Washington’s allies, who welcome further integration in a key U.S. security system. Meanwhile, it has infuriated Russia, which sees the interceptors as a threat and has cited them to block cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues.
So some might have expected the Russians to be relieved and the Poles to express anxiety at a new plan announced last week by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, which effectively cancels plans to put long-term interceptors in Poland in the next decade.
But on Monday, the Russians said they still weren’t happy and Polish officials were saying almost nothing, a possible indication that they are relieved that shorter-range missiles, at least, will still be deployed to Poland in the next five years. Romanians also haven’t complained, noting merely that U.S. missile defense interceptors will still be deployed there in 2015, as planned.
“We feel no euphoria in connection with what was announced by the U.S. defense secretary and we see no grounds for correcting our position,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in comments carried Monday by the Kommersant newspaper. “This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such.”
Russia has complained about the U.S. plan, with the Kremlin saying it believes it is aimed against Russia’s missile program. Washington adamantly denies that and says the system is meant to stop missiles from Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. missile defense plans for Europe involve building up the system in four phases, with shorter- and medium-range interceptors to be deployed in the first three phases, and longer-range interceptors meant for the fourth phase.
Phase one of the system has already been deployed, with anti-missile interceptors on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Phase two is to include interceptors in Romania in 2015, then interceptors in Poland will be deployed starting in 2018 as part of phase three.
However, the fourth stage has not yet been funded by Congress, and there are indications the technology of the long-term interceptors — which theoretically could have protected U.S. territory from Poland — is not ready.
U.S. officials visiting Warsaw on Monday sought to reassure Poland that the cancellation of the final stage will not sideline the country and was not made to appease Russia.
The head of NATO said on Monday it was “absolutely ridiculous” for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to accuse the United States of colluding with the Taliban and said Kabul should recognise sacrifices made by other countries on Afghanistan’s behalf.
Karzai marred a debut visit to Afghanistan by the new U.S. defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, on March 10 by accusing Washington and the Taliban of colluding to convince Afghans that foreign forces were needed beyond 2014, when NATO is set to wrap up its combat mission and most foreign troops are to withdraw.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was concerned about the increasingly harsh rhetoric between Karzai and the United States, which contributes the largest contingent to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
“I reject the idea that was publicly launched by President Karzai that … there is so-called collusion between NATO, ISAF, the U.S. and the Taliban. It is an absolutely ridiculous idea,” Rasmussen told a news conference, using unusually strong language for the normally cautious NATO chief.
“We fully respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan but we would also expect acknowledgement from the Afghan side that we have … invested a lot in blood and treasure in helping President Karzai’s country to move forward,” he said.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has scrapped the final phase of its European missile defence shield, citing development problems and funding cuts.
Upgraded interceptors were to have been deployed in Poland to counter medium- and intermediate-range missiles, and potential threats from the Middle East.
Mr Hagel said the threat had “matured” and that the US commitment to Nato missile defence remained “ironclad”.
The interceptors had been strongly opposed by the Russian government.
It complained that they would be able to stop Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and undermine its nuclear deterrent.
The US has always insisted that the missile shield was intended to protect against attacks by Iran and North Korea.
Analysts said Friday’s announcement could open the door to another round of talks between the US and Russia on nuclear arms reductions.
TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=7082
by Jason Ditz
An internal report from the British Defense Ministry has concluded that the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is “unwinnable in military terms,” ruling that the NATO goals have largely failed and the survival of the Karzai government cannot be guaranteed.
The report says that whenever international troops leave, they will be leaving Afghanistan with a “very weak economic base,” and NATO will be on the hook for “large-scale support” of the government for many years.
It goes on to compare the NATO occupation for Afghanistan to the previous attempt by the Soviet Union, saying there are “an extraordinary number of similar factors” surrounding the two wars, and that commanders should learn the lessons of the Soviet war.
Elaborating, they say both wars aimed at imposing “an ideology foreign to the Afghan people” and that both eventually abandoned it in favor trying to secure relative support for their respective propped-up governments as the only alternative to the mujahedin, adding that the historical estimate of the NATO war would be, as with the Soviets’, linked entirely to how long the government survived after they leave.
The Defense Ministry downplayed the importance of the research report, insisting that the determination that the war is unwinnable does not change the official government position, which is that continuing the war is vital to British national security.
by Samuel Weigley
The business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.
These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in military spending in the U.S., which by far has the largest military budget in the world. In 2000, the U.S. defense budget was approximately $312 billion. By 2011, the figure had grown to $712 billion. Arm sales grew alongside general defense spending growth. SIPRI noted that between 2002 and 2011, arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%.
However, the trend has recently reversed. In 2011, the top 100 arms dealers sold 5% less compared to 2010. Susan Jackson, a SIPRI defense expert, said in an email to 24/7 Wall St. that austerity measures in Western Europe and the U.S. have delayed or slowed the procurement of different weapons systems. Austerity concerns have exacerbated matters. Federal budget cuts that took effect in March mean military spending could contract by more than $500 billion over the coming decade unless policymakers negotiate a pullback on the mandated cuts.
In addition, the U.S.’ involvement in conflicts abroad continue to wind down. The last American convoy in Iraq left the country in December 2011. Troop withdrawals from Afghanistan also began in 2011. Finally, SIPRI pointed out sanctions on arms transfers to Libya have contributed to declining arms sales.
Many defense contractors are looking overseas to make up for slowing sales in the U.S. and Europe. Arms producers are especially keen on Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia, Jackson said. For instance, BAE is securing contracts with Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the chief financial officer of Northrop Grumman has recently indicated his company may sell its Global Hawk airplane to South Korea or Japan.
Based on the SIPRI report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 biggest weapons companies. Arms were defined as sales to military customers, either for procurement or for export, but do not include sales of general purpose items, such as oil or computer equipment. We looked at sales figures for two years through 2011, among other metrics. Here are the 10 companies that profit the most from war:
10. United Technologies (UTX) — aircraft, electronics, engines
Arm sales: $11.6 billion, total sales: $58.2 billion
Gross profit: $5.3 billion, total workforce: 199,900
United Technologies makes a wide range of arms — notably military helicopters, including the Black Hawk helicopter for the U.S. Army and the Seahawk helicopter for the U.S. Navy. The company was the biggest employer in the top 10 though arms sales accounted for just 20% of revenue. UTX also produces elevators, escalators, air-conditioners and refrigerators. International sales comprised 60% of the company’s revenue in 2012.
9. L-3 Communications (LLL) — electronics
Arm sales: $12.5 billion, total sales: $15.2 billion
Gross profit: $956 million, total workforce: 61,000
Some 83% of L-3 Communications sales in 2011 came from arms sales, but this was down from what it sold the prior year. The company has four business segments: electronic systems; aircraft modernization and maintenance; national security solutions; and command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Among many products manufactured, the company has become a major provider of unmanned aircraft systems.
8. Finmeccanica – aircraft, artillery, engines, electronics, vehicles and missiles
Arms sales, $14.6 billion, total sales: $24.1 billion
Gross profit: $ -3.2 billion, total workforce: 70,470
Italian company Finmeccanica makes a wide range of arms, including helicopters and security electronics. Nearly 60% of the company’s sales in 2011 were in arms. Finmeccanica lost $3.2 billion in 2011. The Italian company is currently fending off allegation that it paid bribes to win an approximately $750 million contract to provide 12 military helicopters to the Indian government in 2010. The then-head of the company, Giuseppe Orsi, was arrested in February but has denied wrongdoing. Other executives, including the head of the company’s helicopter unit, have been replaced, and the company has delayed the release of recent financial results.
7. EADS – aircraft, electronics, missiles and space
Arm sales: $16.4 billion, total sales: $68.3 billion
Gross profit: $1.4 billion, total workforce: 133,120
The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), based in the Netherlands, had sales in 2011 roughly in line with the prior year. Arms sales comprised just 24% of the company’s revenue. EADS and BAE Systems unsuccessfully attempted to merge for $45 billion in 2012, which would have created the world’s largest aerospace company. The deal collapsed in October after German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concerns about the merger.
6. Northrop Grumman (NOC) — aircraft, electronics, missiles, ships, space
Arm sales: $21.4 billion, total sales: $26.4 billion
Gross profit: $2.1 billion, total workforce: 72,500
Northrop Grumman’s 2011 arms sales comprised about 81% of total sales even after a sharp decline in arms sales year over year. The company attributed the decline to reduced government spending on defense projects. Nevertheless, the company was more profitable than in the prior year.
5. Raytheon (RTN) — electronics, missiles
Arm sales: $22.5 billion, total sales: $24.9 billion
Gross profit: $1.9 billion, total workforce: 71,000
Raytheon, based in Waltham, Mass., is one of the largest defense contractors in the U.S. The company makes the Tomahawk Cruise Missile, among others. Arms sales comprised about 90% of the company’s sales in 2011 though they as a total they were lower than in the prior year. The slide hasn’t let up. Total sales in 2012 fell 1.5%, and Raytheon is expecting sales to fall 3% in 2013, a projection which doesn’t take into account the effects of mandated budget cuts. The company can rely on overseas customers to somewhat offset weak sales at home. As of January, approximately 40% of the company’s backlog was booked overseas. The company expects approximately a 5% increase in international sales in 2013.
4. General Dynamics (GD) — artillery, electronics, vehicles, small arms, ships
Arm sales: $23.8 billion, total sales: $32.7 billion
Gross profit: $2.5 billion, total workforce: 95,100
With 18,000 transactions in 2011, General Dynamics was the third-largest contractor to the U.S. government. Of those contracts, approximately $12.9 billion worth went to the Navy, while an additional $4.6 billion went to the Army. The company’s arms sales in 2011 comprised 73% of total sales. Arms sales in 2011 were slightly below 2010 levels. The company makes a host of products, including electric boats, tracked and wheeled military vehicles, and battle tanks. The company announced layoffs in early March, blaming mandated federal budget cuts.
3. BAE Systems – aircraft, artillery, electronics, vehicles, missiles, ships
Arm sales: $29.2 billion, total sales: $30.7 billion
Gross profit: $2.3 billion, total workforce: 93,500
BAE Systems was the largest non-U.S. company based on arms sales. Arms sales represented 95% of the company’s total sales in 2011 even though they were lower as a total of overall sales compared to the prior year. The products BAE sells include the L-ROD Bar Armor System that shields defense vehicles and the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer that provides sophisticated simulation training for military pilots. In 2013, the company said its growth would likely come from outside the U.S. and Great Britain — its home market. BAE noted that its outlook for those two countries was “constrained,” likely due to the diminished presence in international conflicts and government budget cuts.
2. Boeing (BA) — aircraft, electronics, missiles, space
Arm sales: $31.8 billion, total sales: $68.7 billion
Gross profit: $4 billion, total workforce: 171,700
Boeing was the second-largest U.S. government contractor in 2011, with about $21.5 billion worth of goods contracted. The Chicago-based company makes a wide range of arms, including strategic missile systems, laser and electro-optical systems and global positioning systems. Despite all these technologies, just 46% of the company’s total sales of $68.7 billion in 2011 came from arms. Boeing is the largest commercial airplane manufacturer in the world, making planes such as the 747, 757 and recently, the 787 Dreamliner. The company is also known for its space technology — Boeing had $1 billion worth of contracts with NASA in 2011.
1. Lockheed Martin (LMT) — aircraft, electronics, missiles, space
Arm sales:$36.3 billion, total sales: $46.5 billion
Gross profit: $2.7 billion, total workforce, 123,000
Lockheed Martin notched $36.3 billion in sales in 2011, slightly higher than the $35.7 billion the company sold in 2010. The arms sales comprised 78% of the company’s total 2011 sales. Lockheed makes a wide range of products, including aircraft, missiles, unmanned systems and radar systems. The company and its employees have been concerned about the effects of the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration, the latter of which includes significant cuts to the U.S. Department of Defense. In the fall of 2012, the company planned on issuing layoff notices to all employees before backing down at the White House’s request.
Prominent Afghan actor Nazar Mohammad Majnonyar Helmandi who starred in more than a dozen films highlighting the struggle against drug trafficking and terrorism was killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Pajhwok news agency reported on Sunday.
Helmandi was killed along with three militants who had seized the movie star on suspicion of spying for the government in Helmand province, his brother Dilawar said.
Helmandi had gone to the Khoskabi area on the outskirts of Lashkargah to inquire after his ailing sister when he was captured by the armed rebels, Dilawar told Pajhwok Afghan News.
The militants were interrogating Helmandi when the NATO airstrike took place, killing the actor and the rebels, said Dilawar, who identified his brother’s body mutilated beyond recognition.
The police headquarters confirmed the airstrike, saying a local rebel commander, Mohammad Alam, was among those killed.
by Jason Ditz
Just a week after Gen. Lloyd Austin had expressed support for such a move, NATO is moving forward with a plan to keep the massive Afghan Army, currently at 352,000, at its present size for the foreseeable future.
The problem with such an enormous military is that the Afghan government has little to no money to pay for it, and NATO is essentially on the hook for all of the funding of the Afghan military, with the US paying the vast majority.
NATO had previously agreed to reduce the size of the Afghan military by approximately a third after the end of 2014, but officials confirm a plan is being negotiated now to abandon that agreement and keep the current size through at least 2018.
Officials say the additional funding, which will have the US shelling out several billion dollars annually pretty much forever, is important for “confidence” in the Afghan government, and vital to continuing the “success” of the past 12 years of occupation.
by Jason Ditz
The claim that Taliban attacks are dropping in Afghanistan, the single piece of data backing up NATO claims of “progress” in the protracted occupation and indeed the centerpiece of President Obama’s re-election campaign speeches related to foreign policy, has turned out to be completely false, Pentagon officials admitted today.
The data, which seems to have formed the basis for much of NATO’s occupation strategy, was ultimately the result of a “clerical error” that officials attributed to the Afghan military turning in certain forms late. Officials say that the revised data shows attacks approximately flat, but they have simply removed all the old reports based on the false data and haven’t replaced them with anything since then.
Officials repeatedly cited the false data as proof of improved security in Afghanistan, and indeed it remains the only piece of “proof” that ever existed. Despite it turning out to be fake, officials say their assessment that the situation is getting better has not changed. They just don’t have anything to back it up with anymore.
Pentagon spokesman George Little says they only finally learned of the error during a “quality control” check recently, and that it is “unhelpful to have inaccurate information in our systems.” That the inaccurate information was the basis for major policy decisions, and that officials are standing by those decisions seemingly as a face-saving measure, is the much bigger concern.
The United States envisions only a minimal presence of American troops in Afghanistan once the NATO mission comes to an end in late 2014. SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that fewer than 10,000 US soldiers are to remain stationed in the country beyond that date. Douglas Lute, special assistant to the US president on Pakistan and Afghanistan, informed NATO ambassadors of the plan at alliance headquarters in Brussels in the second week of February. He said that only half of the units stationed in Afghanistan beyond 2014 will be made available for training Afghan troops.
Lute’s confidential briefing was the first official confirmation that the US foresees an extremely limited presence in the country going forward. And the numbers presented by Lute have alarmed the alliance. Though the post-mission support and training mission in Afghanistan — to be carried out by NATO in conjunction with eight non-alliance countries — has been under development for months, the extremely limited number of US troops available puts the alliance in a bind.
The aim of the mission — now called Resolute Support after a pair of name changes — is to ensure that the Afghan army, built up with great effort in recent years, doesn’t immediately fall apart once the NATO mission, known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), concludes. But Lute’s presentation made it clear that US President Barack Obama is determined to radically shrink the American presence in Afghanistan following 2014. In his State of the Union address this month, Obama publicized his intention to bring home half of the 60,000 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan by the end of this year.
The details of Washington’s post-2014 plans were not known until Lute’s briefing. Weeks prior, the US media had written of a “minimal option” calling for fewer than 10,000 soldiers to remain in the country, but the US government had made no official comment. Whether the topic is up for discussion at the meeting of NATO defense ministers this Thursday and Friday in Brussels is unclear.
by John Glaser
The head of the NATO military alliance has urged member countries to stop cutting their defense budgets in response to tough economic times, claiming reductions in military spending will undermine security, reports The Associated Press.
“My appeal to governments is, firstly, hold the line, stop the cuts,” Fogh Rasmussen said.
While the comments were aimed at all member countries, the NATO chief was almost certainly referring to the United States, with looming sequestration cuts of $500 billion over ten years set to be imposed.
Europe has benefitted greatly from US membership in NATO, as Washington disproportionately subsidizes their defense. The US contributes about a quarter of NATO’s entire budget, for all of 28 member states.
“In reality, NATO could not pay its bills without the United States, much less conduct serious military operations,” writes Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. ”American alliance policy has become a form of foreign aid.”
While the alliance is a drain on US taxpayers, the power centers in Washington benefit from the geo-political heft NATO affords.
by Jason Ditz
NATO officials say today that they are “accepting” Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s edict to Afghan security forces not to call NATO requesting air strikes when they are operating in residential areas.
This was only one of two edicts made by Karzai regarding last week’s US strike, which killed 10 civilians. The initial edict was a full ban on air strikes in residential areas, and it doesn’t appear that one was accepted.
Instead, officials say they will work with Afghan ground forceson the logistics of finding ways to help those troops that doesn’t involve random air strikes into neighborhood full of civilians. That doesn’t mean NATO troops can’t call in such strikes, however.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new NATO commander, says that his willingness to work with Afghan forces proves the “extraordinary progress” that has been made in limiting the number of civilians killed in air strikes.
by Jason Ditz
For the past decade-plus of the NATO occupation, the creation of the Afghan military has been repeatedly presented as a primary end-goal. The Afghan military has had several major problems, corruption, logistics concerns, and massive attrition.
NATO found a solution of sorts last year, and has been hyping the “improved” Afghan military ever since. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report details that embarrassing solution today: they simply lowered their standards.
The goal has long been to get Afghan troops to the top “rating” level, which from the occupation’s beginning was “independent.” In August 2011, however, NATO simply did away with the “independent” rating and created a new “independent with advisors” level as the new goal.
Even that was one that only about 14 percent of Afghan Army forces managed to squeak through, but that’s a lot more than the old “independent” rating could ever hope for, and this became proof of “progress” in many official reports.
At the end of the day, this “progress” remains illusory, however, and NATO officials know that the “independent with advisors” rating remains contingent on keeping NATO troops in the nation for “advice.”