Moscow is showing understandable concern over the lowering of the threshold for employing nuclear weapons to include retaliation for cyber-attacks, a change announced on Feb. 2 in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
Explaining the shift in US doctrine on first-use, the NPR cites the efforts of potential adversaries “to design and use cyber weapons” and explains the change as a “hedge” against non-nuclear threats. In response, Russia described the move as an “attempt to shift onto others one’s own responsibility” for the deteriorating security situation.
Moscow’s concern goes beyond rhetoric. Cyber-attacks are notoriously difficult to trace to the actual perpetrator and can be pinned easily on others in what we call “false-flag” operations. These can be highly destabilizing – not only in the strategic context, but in the political arena as well.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has good reason to believe he has been the target of a false-flag attack of the political genre. We judged this to be the case a year and a half ago, and said so. Our judgment was fortified last summer – thanks to forensic evidence challenging accusations that the Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee and provided emails to WikiLeaks. (Curiously, the FBI declined to do forensics, even though the “Russian hack” was being described as an “act of war.”)
Mike Pence confirmed again that the administration’s idea of “talking” to North Korea doesn’t mean anything:
Vice President Mike Pence told Axios’ Mike Allen on Wednesday President Trump “always believes in talking [with North Korea], but talking is not negotiating.”
He said nothing will change with North Korea until they give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons [bold mine-DL]. He said they must “completely, verifiably, and completely abandon” its missile programs, and “only then can we consider any change in posture by the United States or the international community.”
The administration’s maximalism may feel satisfying, but it has no chance of reducing tensions or getting North Korea to agree to anything. The insistence that North Korea abandon these programs is as unrealistic as can be. It is not just that North Korea has already invested considerable resources in these programs and would be reluctant to dismantle everything they already have, but they also believe these programs to be essential to their security. Just as our government would not budge on something that it considered vitally important, theirs is not going to budge. More pressure and threats will just make them cling to these programs that much more tightly.
Former Secretary of Education and current neocon shill William Bennett was bloviating on Fox News Monday about the media "fawning" over the North Koreans at the Olympics. He was upset that Americans were not hating the North Korean attendees.
He appeared on "The Story With Martha MacCallum" on Monday, February 12, 2018. Under their faces appeared the headline: News Outlets Call Kim Jong Un’s Sister "Captivating" While Slamming VP Pence as "Embarrassing". Bennett expressed concern that the Vice President’s life was in danger, while MacCallum channeled the Secret Service’s concern about the VP being out of town.
Bennett’s appearance begins at 20:10, his fantasy about Pence being stuck with a poison needle starts at 20:40.
Bennett: I don’t know if anyone else had this thought, did you Martha? When you saw that photo of her (Kim Yo Jong) sitting right behind Mrs. Pence, didn’t you get nervous? I mean, I got worried, that she or one of her handlers might lean over and do something to the Vice President or Mrs. Pence. Remember, this is the crowd that killed Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in an airport. I wouldn’t put anything past them. I’m sure the Secret Service had things totally under control.
MacCallum: You’ve got to imagine that for the Secret Service it was not an optimum situation, and something that, no doubt, they were not comfortable with.
I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics on TV, and the color commentators for NBC are typically athletes who’ve earned gold medals in the past, like Tara Lipinski in figure skating or Bode Miller in skiing. Why is it, then, when NBC and other networks seek expert “color” commentary on America’s wars, they turn to retired generals like David Petraeus, who’ve won nothing?
I’m not dissing Petraeus here. He himself admitted his “gains” in Iraq as well as Afghanistan were both “fragile and reversible.” And so they proved. The U.S. fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost thousands of troops and trillions of dollars for gains that truly were ephemeral. Despite this disastrous and tragic reality, Petraeus remains the sage on the stage, the go-to guy for analysis of our never-ending wars on PBS, Fox News, and elsewhere.
President Trump has delivered his military budget request for 2019 that increases spending by 12 percent over 2017 spending. Designed to fully fund a “depleted” military, even Defense Secretary Mattis was surprised at the figures. Many more warships, many more F-22s (even though they don’t work). Half a billion more dollars to continue the US “regime change” operation in Syria. There’s something in it for everybody…except the American people. How this massive spending increase makes us less safe and less free in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Neocons — and even a few “libertarians” — are furious that North Korea is getting some credit for unleashing a “charm offensive” at the Olympic games. Rather than look to a future without crippling sanctions and the threat of nuclear war, they obsess on the lurid details of reported abuses by the North Korean government. But what’s the big problem with a “charm offensive”? Isn’t it preferable to a military offensive? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report: