Category Archives: Merchants of Death

Mini-Nukes and Mosquito-like Robot Weapons Being Primed for Future Warfare

Jeff Daniel reports for CNBC:

A mosquito used for Zika research.Several countries are developing nanoweapons that could unleash attacks using mini-nuclear bombs and insect-like lethal robots.

While it may be the stuff of science fiction today, the advancement of nanotechnology in the coming years will make it a bigger threat to humanity than conventional nuclear weapons, according to an expert. The U.S., Russia and China are believed to be investing billions on nanoweapons research.

“Nanobots are the real concern about wiping out humanity because they can be weapons of mass destruction,” said Louis Del Monte, a Minnesota-based physicist and futurist. He’s the author of a just released book entitled “Nanoweapons: A Growing Threat To Humanity.”

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Inside the ‘Blackwater of Jihad’

Kim Sengupta reports for The Independent:

malhama-tactical.jpgThey wear the latest and most advanced body armour and helmets, camouflage gear and anti-ballistic sunglasses: the fashion statement favoured by frontline private security companies across the world’s combat zones. But Malhama Tactical is not from the West like most of the others. Its fighters are in Syria training Islamists: a “Blackwater of jihad” who have found a new way of cashing in on the self-styled “caliphate”.

Blackwater became the most high-profile of Western security contractors in Iraq, gaining notoriety as the most violent and aggressive of the corporate military firms that spotted a highly lucrative trade following the “liberation” of the country in 2003. Such firms were largely immune from scrutiny or prosecution: that changed after a particularly bloody day in Baghdad.

One late morning in September in 2007, I watched as Blackwater’s guards opened fire from their armoured cars into families out on a Sunday in a popular location, Nisoor Square: 17 civilians were killed and more than were 40 injured. Four of the guards were later convicted in connection with the deaths. Blackwater changed its name, first to Xe Services and then Academi and continues to receive US government contracts.

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As Trump Pushes for Historic $54B Military Spending Hike, Which Programs Will He Cut to Pay for War?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Neta Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project and a professor of political science at Boston University, about President Trump proposing to increase the military budget to just over $600 billion—a 10 percent increase—while deeply slashing the budgets of other agencies, likely including the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. (Democracy Now!)

Trump’s Proposed Increase in U.S. Defense Spending Would Be 80% of Russia’s Entire Military Budget

Alex Emmons reports for The Intercept:

Screen-Shot-2017-02-27-at-5.12.20-PM-1488233648The U.S. government already spends $600 billion dollars a year on its military — more money than the next seven biggest spenders combined, including China and Russia.

On Monday, the White House said it would request $54 billion more in military spending for next year. That increase alone is roughly the size of the entire annual military budget of the United Kingdom, the fifth-largest spending country, and it’s more than 80 percent of Russia’s entire military budget in 2015.

If Congress were to follow Trump’s blueprint, the U.S. military budget could account for nearly 40 percent of global military spending next year. The U.S. would be outspending Russia by a margin of greater than 9 to 1.

At a meeting of U.S. governors on Monday, Trump described his forthcoming budget proposal as “a public safety and national security budget.”

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Trump’s Military Buildup Makes Even His Generals Nervous

Rob Garver reports for The Fiscal Times:

[…] We’re now at the point where Trump’s dedication to building up the military at the expense of the civilian national security apparatus is even making the generals nervous. On Monday, 121 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals from all branches of the US military sent a letter to Congressional leaders pleading with them not to allow the defunding of the country’s diplomatic corps or of international aid efforts.

Experience has taught them, they said, that “elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”

They added, “We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone – from confronting violent extremist groups like ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa to preventing pandemics like Ebola and stabilizing weak and fragile states that can lead to greater instability. There are 65 million displaced people today, the most since World War II, with consequences including refugee flows that are threatening America’s strategic allies in Israel, Jordan, Turkey, and Europe.”

The letter was copied to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (the latter two being a retired Marine Corps general and a serving Army General respectively.)

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Trump’s Defense Topline Faces a Big Hurdle, Just as When Obama Proposed It

Marcus Weisgerber reports for Defense One:

President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C.President Donald Trump has proposed to return Pentagon spending to levels originally proposed by then-President Barack Obama in 2013.

The move has drawn fire from Republicans who say it doesn’t increase defense spending enough and Democrats who decry the cuts it entails for the rest of the federal government.

The proposal was revealed in the top-level spending targets sent by Trump’s Office of Management and Budget to federal departments on Monday. The Pentagon’s share of Trump’s 2018 budget plan is $603 billion, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

The figure happens to be near the same amount envisioned for 2018 in a multiyear spending plan approved by the last administration. But Obama’s plan ran afoul of the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act, or BCA. That’s also a problem for Trump, who is proposing to spend $54 billion more, or about 10 percent, than the $549 billion cap allows.

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Colombia Aims to Rid Country of Landmines by 2021

Anastasia Moloney reports for Reuters:

Image result for Colombia aims to rid country of landmines by 2021Colombia, one of the most mined countries in the world, aims to remove all landmines and other explosives by 2021 after the government and FARC rebels signed a peace deal last year, a top government official has said.

Colombia’s left-wing guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), planted thousands of landmines across swathes of the country during its five-decade war against the government.

“Forty percent of the areas that were covered in landmines for the past 25 years are now being cleared to reach the goal of having a Colombia free of anti-personnel mines by 2021,” Rafael Pardo, the government’s post-conflict commissioner, told local media on Monday.

After Afghanistan, Colombia has the second highest number of landmine casualties, with more than 11,500 people killed or injured by landmines since 1990, government figures show.

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The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight

In 2014 Bill Moyers was joined by Mike Lofgren, a congressional staff member for 28 years, to talk about what he calls Washington’s ‘Deep State’, in which elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. “It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion or our civil liberties and perpetual war,” Lofgren tells Moyers. Lofgren also authored an essay titled: Anatomy of the Deep State(Moyers & Company)

Trump Hypes Missile Defense Systems Targeting Iran and North Korea

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Missile DefenseWithin mere minutes of his inauguration, President Trump’s White House website laid out a series of new policy positions, including a promise to develop a “state-of-the-art” missile defense system to protect against both Iran and North Korea.

The statement was prominently positioned, underscoring it as a point of emphasis for the new administration, but provided no details on what the announcement actually means, and indeed whether or not it marks any change from the existing missile defense systems the US has been throwing money at over the years.

The US started bankrolling anti-Iran missile defense systems way back in the Bush Administration’s waning years, a sore subject in US-Russia relations because Bush was positioning them all right along the Russian frontier, and far outside the range of Iran’s best missiles. In more recent years, the US has been scrambling to get a system in place in South Korea targeting their neighbor to the north as well.

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Jeremy Scahill on Betsy DeVos Lying During Her Senate Confirmation Hearing and Her Brother Erik Prince’s Ties to Donald Trump

Amy Goodman speaks to investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill about Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos lying during her Senate confirmation hearing and her brother Erik Prince‘s links to Donald Trump. (Democracy Now!)

Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the Shadows

Jeremy Scahill reports for The Intercept:

Image result for Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the ShadowsErik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.

In July, Prince told Trump’s senior advisor and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS. Such a program, Prince said, could kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror and that would even be the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities they’re in.”

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John McCain Plans Massive Boost in Defense Spending to Restore U.S. Military Dominance

 The Washington Times:

The Pentagon needs more fighter aircraft, an increase in the number of Navy ships, a higher number of Marines and Air Force personnel and a major modernization of the Army, says a white paper from the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. (Associated Press)Senator John McCain called Monday for a massive boost in defense spending totaling more than $85 billion per year over the next half-decade, saying that is just the beginning of what it will take to restore the U.S. military to a dominant role.

The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman’s plans, detailed in a white paper, are an important marker, laying out defense hawks’ wish list as Congress prepares to debate budget priorities under the Trump administration.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said that after years of bleeding, the Pentagon will struggle to fight the war on terrorism while preparing to engage emerging threats in Russia and China.

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Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag

Kristina Wong reports for The Hill:

Trump's navy build-up comes with steep price tagPresident-elect Donald Trump wants to expand the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships, the largest build-up since the end of the Cold War.

But where that money will come from is unclear and defense contractors aren’t counting their ships yet.

Experts say that going from the current fleet of 274 ships to Trump’s 350 goal will cost about $165 billion over 30 years. And it will be impossible to achieve unless there’s a dramatic increase in the defense budget, currently at $619 billion.

Navy budget expert Ronald O’Rourke said the $165 billion price tag does not include broader costs such as staffing the ships, maintenance and operations.

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Erik Prince’s Mercenaries Are Bombing Libya

Arnaud Delalande reports for War Is Boring:

On Jan. 11, 2017, Intelligence Online — a professional journal covering the world’s intelligence services — revealed that the pilots of Air Tractor attack planes flying from Al Khadim air base in Libya are private contractors working for Erik Prince, the founder of the company formerly known as Blackwater.

War Is Boring’s own sources in Libya confirmed the assertion. Our sources said that the pilots flying the United Arab Emirates Air Force IOMAX AT-802 Air Tractors — converted crop-dusters — are mercenaries and aren’t Arabs.

Most of the for-profit aviators are American, according to IOL. Prince denied involvement in the UAE air operations.

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How Japan Has Almost Eradicated Gun Crime

Harry Low writes for BBC World Service:

Japanese man points gun at cameraJapan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world. In 2014 there were just six gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. What is the secret?

If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%.

There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too – and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.

That’s not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.

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The UK’s ‘National Security’ Plan? It’s a Blueprint for a Police State

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

In early December, the British government released its first annual report on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Despite the total media blackout, the document reveals in stark detail the Conservative government’s plans to expand Britain’s military activities around the world.

In the name of defending “national security”, Britain is building a “permanent” military presence in the Gulf to defend Britain’s access to regional energy resources; deploying more troops into Eastern Europe, near Russia’s border; and drumming up support for rampant arms sales to despots in search of better tools to repress their own populations. This is all happening as it promotes economic aid as a mechanism to open up poorer economies to “UK businesses”.

To illustrate the levels of official delusion that saturate the thinking behind this document, it opens with a foreword from Prime Minister Theresa May, which describes “the phenomenon of mass migration” as “one of the global challenges of our times”, having “become more pronounced in the last 12 months”.

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World War Three, by Mistake

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, writes for The New Yorker:

[…] My book “Command and Control” explores how the systems devised to govern the use of nuclear weapons, like all complex technological systems, are inherently flawed. They are designed, built, installed, maintained, and operated by human beings. But the failure of a nuclear command-and-control system can have consequences far more serious than the crash of an online dating site from too much traffic or flight delays caused by a software glitch. Millions of people, perhaps hundreds of millions, could be annihilated inadvertently. “Command and Control” focusses on near-catastrophic errors and accidents in the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union that ended in 1991. The danger never went away. Today, the odds of a nuclear war being started by mistake are low—and yet the risk is growing, as the United States and Russia drift toward a new cold war. The other day, Senator John McCain called Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, “a thug, a bully, and a murderer,” adding that anyone who “describes him as anything else is lying.” Other members of Congress have attacked Putin for trying to influence the Presidential election.  On Thursday, Putin warned that Russia would “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces,” and President-elect Donald Trump has responded with a vow to expand America’s nuclear arsenal.  “Let it be an arms race,” Trump told one of the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict. Many of the nuclear-weapon systems on both sides are aging and obsolete. The personnel who operate those systems often suffer from poor morale and poor training. None of their senior officers has firsthand experience making decisions during an actual nuclear crisis. And today’s command-and-control systems must contend with threats that barely existed during the Cold War: malware, spyware, worms, bugs, viruses, corrupted firmware, logic bombs, Trojan horses, and all the other modern tools of cyber warfare. The greatest danger is posed not by any technological innovation but by a dilemma that has haunted nuclear strategy since the first detonation of an atomic bomb: How do you prevent a nuclear attack while preserving the ability to launch one?

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The Children of Agent Orange

Charles Ornstein, Hannah Fresques and Mike Hixenbaugh report jointly for ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot:

Army Veteran William Penner used to jokingly call the thick yellow crust that crept across his young son Matthew’s scalp “Agent Orange” after the toxic defoliant sprayed on him in Vietnam before the boy was born. The joke turned sour a few years ago, when Matthew, now 43, was diagnosed with a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Similar worries struck vet Mike Blackledge when staffers at a local Veterans Affairs hospital suggested his children’s diseases could be linked to his time in Vietnam. His son has inflammatory bowel disease so advanced he wears a pouch to collect his waste, and his youngest daughter has neuropathy, spinal problems and gastrointestinal issues. His oldest daughter — the one born before he went to fight in Vietnam — is fine.

They, like thousands of others, are grappling with a chilling prospect: Could Agent Orange, the herbicide linked to health problems in Vietnam veterans, have also harmed their children?

For decades, the Department of Veterans Affairs has collected — and ignored — reams of information that could have helped answer that question, an investigation by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot has found.

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Shadow World: Andrew Feinstein on the Global Arms Trade

Jaisal Noor speaks to Andrew Feinstein, the author of The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, about his new documentary Shadow World. (The Real News) 

Banned by 119 Countries, U.S. Cluster Bombs Continue to Orphan Yemeni Children

Alex Emmons and Mohammed Ali Kalfood report for The Intercept:

Image result for CBU-105[…] It was not the first time the villagers had seen such weapons. In December 2015, Human Rights Watch confirmed that coalition warplanes dropped CBU-105 cluster bombs on al-Hayma, damaging multiple homes and seriously injuring at least two civilians.

Researchers from Human Rights Watch identified the shell casings in photographs taken by The Intercept as a U.S.-made cluster bomb. The serial number documented in the photographs also begins with the five-number “commercial and government entity” (CAGE) code 04614 — indicating that the weapons were produced in the United States, by the Rhode Island-based company Textron Systems.

Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, seven months after Houthi rebels overran the capital city Sanaa and deposed the Saudi-backed leader, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The U.S. has been a silent partner to the war ever since, supplying targeting intelligence, flying refueling missions for Saudi aircraft, and authorizing more than $20 billion in new weapons transfers. Since the beginning of his administration, President Barack Obama has sold $115 billion in weapons to the Saudis, more than any of his predecessors.

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Making COIN: The Modern History of an Unstoppable Bad Idea

Tim Shorrock writes for The Baffler:

b33_shorrock_openerEight years ago, as Washington was making the transition from the nightmare years of George W. Bush to the endless possibilities of Barack Obama, national security elites were transfixed by a military doctrine called counterinsurgency.

The modern counterinsurgency faith stirred to life in the glory days of JFK’s “hearts and minds” campaign in Vietnam. Its champions promised to win over conquered lands by eschewing raw firepower for enlightened social projects. They pledged to use cash, economic aid, and military training to convince locals that America offered their last, best hope for a better life. When they retrofitted the doctrine to help salvage the disastrous 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, they called themselves “COINdinistas.”

Leading the twenty-first-century revival of counterinsurgency was an up-and-coming army general, David H. Petraeus, who had participated in nearly every major U.S. intervention overseas since Vietnam, including those in El Salvador, Haiti, Bosnia, and Iraq. After preaching the COIN gospel for decades on the margins of the national security establishment, Petraeus was appointed in 2007 to command U.S. forces in Iraq. There, he finally got his chance to practice what his followers liked to call the “new American way of war.”

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Bikini Was Just the Beginning, Bombs Still Threaten the Marshall Islanders

John Pilger reports for the New Internationalist:

01-12-2016-pilger-marshall-590.jpeg [Related Image]I was recently in the Marshall Islands, which lie in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and south of Hawaii. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, ‘Where is that?’

When I mention Bikini, their reference is the swimsuit. Few seem aware that the bikini was named after the nuclear explosions that destroyed life on Bikini atoll; its Paris designer hoped his ‘unique creation’ would ‘cause an explosion right round the world’. Sixty-seven nuclear bombs – each of them massive – were exploded in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years.

As my aircraft banked low over Bikini lagoon, the emerald water beneath me disappeared into a vast black hole, a deathly void. This is the crater left by the 1954 Hydrogen bomb known as Bravo. When I stepped out of the plane, my shoes registered ‘unsafe’ on a Geiger counter. Palm trees stood in unworldly formations. There were no birds.

I trekked through the jungle to the bunker where, at 6.45 on the morning of 1 March 1954, the button was pushed on the most powerful force on earth. That morning, the sun had risen; then it rose again as apocalypse. Now claimed by the undergrowth, the concrete bunker is like a capsule to modern times. There are cartons of Milkmaid powered milk, packets of Lucky Strike cigarettes and a sign that is beyond irony: ‘Please leave this property as you find it. Thank you for kindness and understanding.’

The explosion vaporized an entire island, its fall-out spreading over a vast area. There was a ‘miscalculation’, according to the official history; the wind ‘changed suddenly’. These were the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony have since revealed.

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35 States Set to Vote on 160+ Initiatives on Pot, Universal Healthcare, Minimum Wage, Death Penalty

As voters in the United States go to the polls, Amy Goodman is joined by Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, and Sarah Anderson, director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, for a look at some of the most important decisions they will make—not for president, governor, Senate or congressional races, but on more than 160 ballot initiatives in 35 states, more than in any election in the last decade. Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in nine states, and income inequality and economic insecurity are at the heart of many other measures, along with initiatives on guns, public education, the death penalty and Colorado’s Amendment 69, a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment which would finance universal healthcare. (Democracy Now!)

Why Is the Foreign Policy Establishment Spoiling for More War? Look at Their Donors

Former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich writes for The Nation:

Hillary Clinton CAPWashington, DC, may be the only place in the world where people openly flaunt their pseudo-intellectuality by banding together, declaring themselves “think tanks,” and raising money from external interests, including foreign governments, to compile reports that advance policies inimical to the real-life concerns of the American people.

As a former member of the House of Representatives, I remember 16 years of congressional hearings where pedigreed experts came to advocate wars in testimony based on circular, rococo thinking devoid of depth, reality, and truth. I remember other hearings where the Pentagon was unable to reconcile over $1 trillion in accounts, lost track of $12 billion in cash sent to Iraq, and rigged a missile-defense test so that an interceptor could easily home in on a target. War is first and foremost a profitable racket.

How else to explain that in the past 15 years this city’s so called bipartisan foreign policy elite has promoted wars in Iraq and Libya, and interventions in Syria and Yemen, which have opened Pandora’s box to a trusting world, to the tune of trillions of dollars, a windfall for military contractors. DC’s think “tanks” should rightly be included in the taxonomy of armored war vehicles and not as gathering places for refugees from academia.

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Trump Is Less Hawkish Than Hillary. Who Cares?

Micah Zenko writes for Foreign Policy:

Trump Is Less Hawkish Than Hillary. Who Cares? […] I took it upon myself this year to write several pieces assessing the sorts of Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would likely be. Of those, I have received the most feedback from the one titled “Hillary the Hawk: A History.” And given Clinton’s willingness to use force and belief in the power of coercive diplomacy, I do believe that she is slightly more “hawkish” than Trump.

To be perfectly clear, however, I have little doubt that Donald Trump would be a vastly more dangerous and destabilizing foreign-policy president than Hillary Clinton. The business mogul has not demonstrated a grasp of even the most basic principles, laws, and behaviors that govern the conduct of foreign policy, or the manner in which nation-states interact. Worse, he refuses to learn, proudly stating when asked who he listens to on foreign policy, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things…. I have a good instinct for this stuff.” He simply does not.

The basis for this judgment are Trump’s own statements on foreign policy issues.

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Clinton Campaign Invokes ‘Daisy Girl’ to Attack Trump on Nuclear Weapons

Brent Griffiths reports for Politico:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is hammering Donald Trump over his statements on nuclear weapons in a new ad. And the Democratic nominee is using one of the most recognizable moments in the attack ad arsenal to deliver the blow.

In a spot titled “Daisy,” the former secretary of state invokes the famous 1964 attack ad President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign used with devastating impact as footage of Trump’s comments plays throughout.

“This is me in 1964,” Monique Corzilius Luiz says as footage of her as the “Daisy Girl,” named for the shot of her plucking petals of a flower, plays in the background of the Clinton ad.

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To Sell Weapons, Defense Contractors Make War Seem Fun

Naomi LaChance reports for The Intercept:

image-13I’m getting command to aim and fire. I pull the trigger again and again until I see an explosion. I feel vaguely sick, maybe because my chair shakes every time I pull the trigger, or maybe because the images I’m seeing are blurry.

When I take off my VR headset, a smiling young woman hands me a round token: Distinguished Gunner A14, it says. I’m not exactly the target audience —  and neither are the high school boys I saw enjoying the game later.

The woman tells me the game is to show just how strong the General Dynamics Stryker 30mm cannon is. I’m at the Association of the United States Army’s annual exposition, Monday to Wednesday at the new, cavernous Washington Convention Center, where in order to score contracts with the Pentagon, defense contractors are making their weapons seem fun.

AUSA features a who’s who of the military-industrial complex, and the extreme excess of money in the industry is evident everywhere.

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UK Government Works ‘Hand in Glove’ With Arms Firms, Say Campaigners

Alice Ross reports for The Guardian:

The British government and the UK arms industry have a “politically intimate and hugely compromising relationship” that sees government officials working “hand in glove” with companies promoting weapons exports, according to campaigners who have tracked thousands of meetings between officials and arms trade representatives.

Officials from the government’s dedicated arms export department, the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), attended more than 1,000 meetings since the 2010 election – more than a third of all meetings recorded by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which has published data on contact between the government and the arms industry.

The data reveals how crucial the export of British-made weapons and security equipment – totalling £8bn last year – has become to both government and the industry, ensuring that Britain is among the world’s largest arms exporters.

“The government may talk about the importance of human rights, but its role is absolutely central to the UK arms trade,” said a CAAT spokesman, Andrew Smith.

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Colin Powell in Leaked Email Says Israel Has 200 Nukes

Jack Moore reports for Newsweek:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin PowellFormer U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell alleged that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of 200 warheads, a thorny subject that Israel never comments on, according to an email that Russian hackers leaked earlier this week.

Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to speak about its rumored nuclear arsenal and never even going as far as to admit that it has possession of nuclear weapons.

But Powell may have given away the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Speaking to Democratic party donor Jeffrey Leeds about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress focusing on the Iranian nuclear deal, he wrote that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon if it was able to develop one. He then stated that Israel has hundreds of nukes and Washington thousands, suggesting that such firepower would deter any Iranian action.

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Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

Alex Emmons writes for The Intercept:

In the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the war on terror is still in its opening act.

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