Washington Desperation Drives Nuclear Proliferation

January 22, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - A cornered animal is a dangerous animal. For the elite in Washington, with the terminal decline of their "American Century" and the global empire it built during it, they find themselves in a most unaccommodating corner and thus have become increasingly reckless and dangerous in their decision making.

Compounding matters exponentially is the fact that in that corner and amid Washington's desperation, they are in possession of thousands of nuclear weapons and an increasing disinterest in the treaties that sought to ensure such weapons were neither used nor proliferated.

The Unspoken Nuclear Threat

The highly destructive trade wars, real wars and political and/or economic interference the US is engaged in worldwide is creating a negative and very tangible impact on the globe. Despite the high costs of Washington's increasingly disruptive polices and the prominence they assert themselves with across daily headlines, it is perhaps the nuclear threat of an increasingly reckless political order that poses the most danger.

Yet it is often downplayed, spun or left unspoken entirely.

Incremental policy decisions spanning the presidential administrations of George Bush Jr., Barrack Obama and Donald Trump have seen the end of two important nuclear arms treaties signed with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Not only have these treaties been unilaterally shredded by the United States, the US immediately took actions these treaties had sought specifically to prevent such as the encircling of Russia with anti-missile systems to prevent Moscow from launching a nuclear retaliation in the wake of a hypothetical US first strike, undermining the entire premise of mutually assured destruction and the keystone of nuclear deterrence.

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is nearing its expiration in 2021 and policymakers in Washington appear to have little interest in renegotiating its extension or its replacement with a similar or better treaty.

According to Reuters in its 2017 article, "Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty - sources," it's claimed that:
In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.
While many may dismiss Trump's denouncement as an extension of his brash leadership style, it fits in perfectly with an incremental process of unilateral US withdrawal from a series of fundamental nuclear arms treaties, an incremental process almost never mentioned across the US mass media.

Washington Deliberately Walks Toward a Dangerous Nuclear Threat 

In 2002, US President George Bush Jr. would unilaterally withdraw the US from the The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty). This was immediately followed by US efforts to encircle Russia with anti-missile systems designed to stymie any Russian nuclear retaliation.

Then in August 2019, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). Despite Trump's name being associated with the withdrawal, the process of preparing for the withdrawal as well as developing the weapon systems prohibited under it began during the administration of US President Barrack Obama.

Immediately after the US withdrawal from the treaty, intermediate-range missile systems developed in the US were unveiled; systems that most certainly were under development long before the US withdrawal from the treaty.

US War of Terror Continues: Assassinating Iran's Top Anti-ISIS General

January 16, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US has eagerly taken credit for the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani amid a series of military strikes carried out by US forces across Syria and Iraq. The assassination was shortly followed by Iranian missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq.

The BBC in its article, "Qasem Soleimani: Strike was to 'stop war', says Trump," would claim:
President Donald Trump said the US killed Iran's top military commander Qasem Soleimani "to stop a war, not to start one".

He said Soleimani's "reign of terror is over" following the strike at Iraq's Baghdad airport on Friday.
The strikes also targeted infrastructure supporting a network of Iranian-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Units or PMUs.

The US claiming these strikes were meant to end "terror" are particularly surreal.

The PMUs along with General Soleimani and his special operations Quds Forces have played a key role in fighting and defeating US and Saudi-sponsored terrorism across the Middle East. This includes fighting terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, its many affiliates, and the so-called "Islamic State in Iraq and Syris" (ISIS) - all of which have been extensively exposed as recipients of US cash, weapons, and other forms of material and political support.

The War of Terror Continues 

Even the clumsy and often-manipulated Wikipedia lists Iran's Quds Forces as opposed against Al Qaeda, its affiliates, and ISIS alongside nations like the US and its allies. While Wikipedia doesn't overtly connect these terrorist organizations with their Western sponsors it is clear to even the casual observer that both appearing on the Quds Forces' opponents list carries with it many implications.

Beyond mere implications  - however -  it was the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) itself in a 2012 leaked memo that admitted, "the West, Gulf monarchies, and Turkey" were behind the rise of a what at the time was being called a "Salafist principality."

Strikes in Iraq and Syria: US Terror for the New Year

January 13, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) US strikes against targets in Iraq in Syria belonging to Iranian-linked militias operating across the territory of both Middle Eastern nations directly before New Year's marked a new low for US foreign policy in the region.

The strikes were soon followed by the assassination of senior Iranian military leader General Qasem Soleimani who headed Iran's renowned Quds Forces.

The combined provocations have led to a proportionate - and so far effective - counterstrike by Iran aimed at US military bases in Iraq. 

The US is Goading Iran, Not Defending Against It 

CNN in its article, "US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia," it was reported that:
US forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against five facilities the Pentagon says are tied to an Iranian-backed militia blamed for a series of attacks on joint US-Iraq military facilities housing American forces.
The article would also claim:
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman described the strikes against the group as "precision defensive strikes" that "will degrade" the group's ability to conduct future attacks against coalition forces.
And while the US would describe the strikes as defensive in nature - in reality the US is illegally occupying Syria and is coercing the government of Iraq to accept its open-ended and unwanted occupation there.

Worse still is that the Iranian-backed militias the US struck constitute one of the most formidable forces operating in the region arrayed against terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, its various affiliates, and the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

The US narrative of protecting its troops - who occupy the region illegally and in direct contravention to international law - attempts to paper over continued efforts to cling to US hegemony in the Middle East and reverse its flagging fortunes - particularly in Syria where its regime war has unraveled.

Strikes on Iranian-backed militias and their senior leadership are a vain attempt to redraw the quickly changing geopolitical landscape in the Levant where Syria and its allies - particularly Russia and Iran - have come out on top.

Stabbing Iraq in the Back...

All while the US attempts to portray its actions as underwriting regional or even global security - the very nations it has carried out its attacks in have unequivocally condemned them. In Iraq - where there is at least a semblance of legitimacy to America's ongoing occupation, the Iraqi government has described the attacks as treacherous.

The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani  was likewise condemned widely across the region.

Thus - the US has carried unilateral actions inside a nation it attempts to portray as an ally and partner - actions condemned by the Iraqi government itself.

Finally, the CNN article would point out that the recent US strikes represent an escalation between the United States and Iran - amid a wider conflict that spans the region from Syria and Lebanon, to Iraq, to the south in Yemen, and even as far as in Afghanistan where US forces have been waging war for nearly 2 decades along Iran's eastern flank.

Within Iran itself, the US has organized ongoing efforts to destabilize the nation economically and politically aiming to either coerce Tehran or remove the government of Iran entirely.

The irony of the US claiming it is striking Iranian-backed militias in self-defense or in an attempt to combat "terrorism" is multifaceted.

The US which claims to be waging a global war on terror - has just struck the very forces serving as the front line against Al Qaeda and ISIS. Furthermore, when considering the US and its Saudi allies are Al Qaeda and ISIS' primary state sponsors, the irony deepens.

When the nations the US claims it is protecting protest US unilateral actions - nations who are the primary benefactors of Iranian-back militias and their efforts to combat Al Qaeda and ISIS and their terrorism aimed at dividing and destroying their nations and the wider region - US foreign policy and its most recent belligerence lays fully exposed.

One must also consider that US actions serve as one of the most disruptive factors driving ongoing regional instability.

The US continues to isolate itself by doubling down on failed policies - and in the process it is resorting to increasingly dangerous and desperate tactics that threaten regional and global peace and stability. Resorting to high-level assassinations represents a rarely resorted-to measure fully illustrating the growing depths of Washington's desperation.

For nations enduring US belligerence - the process of slowly exposing and countering US foreign policy must continue in earnest. Iran's pinpoint missile strikes aimed at US bases in Iraq, avoiding casualties represents just such patience - a show of force reminding Washington of what could happen if hostilities widen - and a show of restraint illustrating to the rest of the world that Iran is reasonable even in the face of unreasonable provocations.

The US is already increasingly exposed and isolated. For the US which has waged large scale war across the region with diminishing returns - a handful of additional US airstrikes and assassinations will do little to diminish Iranian-backed militias or their ongoing efforts to move the region out from under decades of US hegemony, aggression, terror, division, and destruction.

For the New Year - the US gifts the Middle East with yet more violence and terror - ensuring the region, its nations, and their people labor under no delusions regarding the source of the region's ongoing instability and violence. During the coming new year and the years to come, the process of slowly and surely uprooting US hegemony and all that it entails will continue.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Big Pharma: Dangling Life Over the Dying

January 9, 2020 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - There are very few who have yet to come to the realization that Western pharmaceutical corporations and the health care systems they have created, control, manipulate and exploit represent not only a particular pinnacle of corruption, but also threaten rather than preserve the health of the many millions who fall within their reach.

They not only threaten the West by undermining what should be otherwise healthy and thriving populations, but their tentacles reach deep into Eurasia, South America, Africa and beyond.

At Face Value...

Pharmaceutical corporations, or big-pharma, have been embroiled in one scandal after another from everything including rigging research trials and efficacy studies, to peddling dangerous medications to children.

Some of the largest Western pharma corporations on the planet have been caught in multinational multi-billion dollar bribery rackets.

The US' own Justice Department in a statement titled, "Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History," would admit:
American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Inc. (hereinafter together "Pfizer") have agreed to pay $2.3 billion, the largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, the Justice Department announced today.
Pfizer would be caught up in similar criminal proceedings around the planet, with the Washington Post in its article, "Pfizer agrees to pay $60M to settle foreign bribery case," admitting:
Pfizer Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay $60 million to settle charges alleging that some of its foreign subsidiaries bribed doctors and health-care officials in order to gain regulatory approval for the company’s drugs and boost sales in those countries.
Countries mentioned in the article included Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan and Russia.

British pharmaceutical giant GSK would also be caught in a massive bribery racket. The New York Times in its article, "Drug Giant Faced a Reckoning as China Took Aim at Bribery," would claim:
The Glaxo case, which resulted in record penalties of nearly $500 million and a string of guilty pleas by executives, upended the power dynamic in China, unveiling an increasingly assertive government determined to tighten its grip over multinationals. In the three years since the arrests, the Chinese government, under President Xi Jinping, has unleashed the full force of the country’s authoritarian system, as part of a broader agenda of economic nationalism.
GSK's bribery racket in China wasn't merely an isolated incident for the company. It has been engaged in rampant and dangerous corruption for years and across various continents. 

The London Guardian would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $3bn after bribing doctors to increase drugs sales that:
The pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3bn (£1.9bn) after admitting bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children. Glaxo is also expected to admit failing to report safety problems with the diabetes drug Avandia in a district court in Boston on Thursday. 

The company encouraged sales reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions, including trips to resorts in Bermuda, Jamaica and California.
In early 2014, the London Telegraph would report in its article, "GlaxoSmithKline 'bribed' doctors to promote drugs in Europe, former worker claims," that:
GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s largest drug company, has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Europe. 

Doctors in Poland were allegedly paid to promote its asthma drug, Seretide, under the guise of funding for education programme, a former sales rep has claimed. 

Medics were also said to have been paid for lectures in the country which did not take place.
The Pfizer and GSK cases tell us that massive corruption isn't isolated to a single incident or even a single pharmaceutical corporation but is a norm across the entirety of Western big-pharma.

In many ways, Western big-pharma represents drug dealers in lab coats armed with massive lobbying resources, public relations and marketing departments to create the illusion of legitimacy where in reality, and as revealed by a trail of massive scandals, no legitimacy actually exists.

But as bad as bribing doctors and pushing dangerous drugs onto children may seem, Western big-pharma is so much worse.

Dangling Life Over the Dying 

Headline-grabbing scandals emanating from big-pharma happen so often and on such a scale that the general population seems desensitized to them. The fact is the very corporations for some reason charged with the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of life-saving medications are apparently run by criminals who enjoy near impunity hasn't registered as the human healthcare crisis that it truly is.

But there are other, far worse rackets big-pharma is working on that illustrate the true depravity of not only the pharmaceutical industry itself, but of Western academia, Western healthcare professionals and of course the Western mainstream media, all of whom play a role in perpetuating or excusing well-known scandals as well as well-hidden scandals.

Gene therapy represents a paradigm shift in human healthcare. Rather than using pharmaceuticals to treat a condition, gene therapy alters the very DNA of a patient and cures them permanently at the very source of the disease or condition a patient suffers from.

Laos: West's War on Asian Development

January 7, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - At face value, the Financial Times' article, "Laos’s Belt and Road project sparks questions over China ambitions," reads like a politically-motivated attack on infrastructure development in Asia. Because it is.

The article's subheading, "High-speed train line in one of Asia’s poorest countries may benefit Beijing more than locals," alone contradicts the correlation between the development of infrastructure and the alleviation of poverty. It also reveals the article as indeed, a politically-motivated attack on China and Asian development couched behind flimsy concerns over the nation of Laos and its people.

The article reports:
 Near Bom Or, a village of dirt streets and shacks in northern Laos, Chinese construction crews have cut a tunnel through a mountainside to carry high-speed trains along a 400km rail line across the country, a section of a planned route from Kunming in south-west China to Singapore. 
The tunnel is part of a $6.7bn project through the rugged countryside around Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, one of the highest profile being built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The article also claims:
Beijing has used the programme to build roads, ports and power stations in some of the world’s poorest countries. But critics have raised concerns about the social and environmental impact of the projects, saying that many of them are white elephants that have left states heavily indebted to Beijing. 

The project in Laos, one of Asia’s poorest countries which has no independent media and limited civil society groups, has been carried out with little public consultation.
Of course, by "independent media" and "civil society groups," Financial Times means fronts funded by and for US and European interests.

The construction of massive infrastructure projects always incurs debt. The construction of nation-spanning or region-spanning mass transportation systems always displace locals living in their proposed paths and locals will always protest having to move from their homes. These are problems that mega-projects throughout history have always faced and are not unique to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

While these issues are noteworthy, the fact that the Financial Times (and other Western media outlets) omit the obvious benefits for Laos exposes the lopsided narrative of political propaganda dressed up as journalism.

Landlocked Laos is Finally Being Unlocked 

Anyone who has previously set foot in Laos would have immediately seen and felt its isolation from the rest of the world and the impact it had on Laos' economic prospects.

A little more than a decade ago, those travelling through Laos would have noticed a severe lack of modern highways and a complete lack of rail.

To move from one part of the country to another, tourists, cargo and business people would have to travel through narrow, winding mountain roads. To travel from Laos' northern border with China to its capital near Laos' border with Thailand required around 3 days of travel only if team driving was used and no stops were taken for sleep.

The isolation of Laos because of its geographical location, mountainous terrain and lack of transportation infrastructure was an obvious obstacle for economic progress. The obvious solution was developing transportation infrastructure.

Now that China is working with Laos to do just that, it has been met by concerted and constant condemnation from the West.

With the completion of Chinese-built highways alone, an influx of business and tourism has predictably followed. The movement of tourists and products is expected to expand even more with the completion of high-speed rail (expected to be completed in 2021).

The Financial Times even admits:
One likely source of business will be Chinese tourists visiting Laos, whose numbers have roughly doubled from 400,000 in 2014 to 800,000 last year. 

“It is Chinese tourists and products in, and raw materials out,” said Nadège Rolland, an expert on BRI with the National Bureau of Asian Research, a US think-tank. “But eventually the BRI is about much more than infrastructure — it is policy co-ordination that will align the claimed needs of the region with those of Beijing.” 
Not only will transportation infrastructure in Laos connect it with China, Chinese as well as Thai projects seek to extend road and rail projects being built in Laos into Thailand and onward to Malaysia and Singapore.

Laos will go from a mostly isolated, underdeveloped nation, to a key corridor linking China to 3 of the top 5 largest economies in Southeast Asia. Its location will go from hindering its development to being central to its future development, wealth and trade.

China is indeed benefiting by transforming Laos into a corridor it can reach the rest of Southeast Asia through. But it is connecting Laos, its people and economy with the rest of Southeast Asia as well.

Villagers in the path of these projects may or may not be receiving adequate compensation. Laos may be taking on additional debt. Environmental issues may or may not be receiving adequate attention. But there is no doubt that unlocking Laos as a terminally landlocked and isolated nation will improve the net wealth of it and its people.