Somalia: The Real Causes of Famine

By MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY | GLOBALRESEARCH | FEBRUARY 21, 2013

For the last twenty years, Somalia has been entangled in a “civil war” amidst the destruction of both its rural and urban economies.

The country is now facing widespread famine.  According to reports, tens of thousands of people have died from malnutrition in the last few months. The lives of  several million people are threatened.

The mainstream media casually attributes the famine to a severe drought without examining the broader causes.

An atmosphere of  “lawlessness, gang warfare and anarchy” is also upheld as one of the major causes behind the famine.

But who is behind the lawlessness and armed gangs? 

Somalia is categorized as a “failed state”, a country without a government.

But how did it become a “failed state”? There is ample evidence of foreign intervention as well as covert support of armed militia groups. Triggering “failed states” is an integral part of US foreign policy. It is part of a military-intelligence agenda.

According to the UN, a situation of famine prevails in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle, areas in part controlled by Al Shahab, a jihadist militia group affiliated to Al Qaeda.

Both the UN and the Obama administration had accused Al Shahab of imposing “a ban on foreign aid agencies in its territories in 2009″. What the reports do not mention, however, is that Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM) (“Movement of Striving Youth”) is funded by Saudi Arabia and supported covertly by Western intelligence agencies.

The backing of Islamic militia by Western intelligence agencies is part of a broader historical pattern of covert support to Al Qaeda affiliated and jihadist organizations in a number of countries, including, more recently, Libya and Syria.

The broader question is: What outside forces triggered the destruction of the Somali State in the early 1990s?

Somalia remained self-sufficient in food until the late 1970s despite recurrent droughts. As of the early 1980s, its national economy was destabilized and food agriculture was destroyed.

The process of economic dislocation preceded the onset of the civil war in 1991. Economic and social chaos resulting from IMF “economic medicine” had set the stage for the launching of a US sponsored “civil war”.  

An entire country with a rich history of commerce and economic development, was transformed into a territory.

In a bitter irony, this open territory encompasses significant oil wealth. Four US oil giants had already positioned themselves prior to the onset of the Somali civil war in 1991:

Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.

According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. …

Officially, the Administration and the State Department insist that the U.S. military mission in Somalia is strictly humanitarian. Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as “absurd” and “nonsense” allegations by aid experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that President Bush [Senior], a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.

But corporate and scientific documents disclosed that the American companies are well positioned to pursue Somalia’s most promising potential oil reserves the moment the nation is pacified. And the State Department and U.S. military officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done more than simply sit back and hope for peace.

Conoco Inc., the only major multinational corporation to maintain a functioning office in Mogadishu throughout the past two years of nationwide anarchy, has been directly involved in the U.S. government’s role in the U.N.-sponsored humanitarian military effort.( The Oil Factor in Somalia : Four American petroleum giants had agreements with the African nation before its civil war began. They could reap big rewards if peace is restored. – Los Angeles Times 1993)

Somalia had been a colony of Italy and Britain. In 1969, a post-colonial government was formed under president Mohamed Siad Barre; major social programs in health and education were implemented, rural and urban infrastructure was developed in the course of the 1970s, significant social progress including a mass literacy program was achieved.  

The early 1980s marks a major turning point.

The IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program (SAP) was imposed on sub-Saharan Africa. The recurrent famines of the 1980s and 1990s are in large part the consequence of IMF-World Bank “economic medicine”.

In Somalia, ten years of IMF economic medicine laid the foundations for the country’s transition towards economic dislocation and social chaos.

By the late 1980s, following recurrent “austerity measures” imposed by the Washington consensus, wages in the public sector had collapsed to three dollars a month.

The IMF Intervention in the Early 1980s

Somalia was a pastoral economy based on “exchange” between nomadic herdsmen and small agriculturalists. Nomadic pastoralists accounted for 50 percent of the population. In the 1970s, resettlement programs led to the development of a sizeable sector of commercial pastoralism. Livestock contributed to 80 percent of export earnings until 1983. Despite recurrent droughts, Somalia remained virtually self-sufficient in food until the 1970s.

The IMF-World Bank intervention in the early 1980s contributed to exacerbating the crisis of Somali agriculture. The economic reforms undermined the fragile exchange relationship between the “nomadic economy” and the “sedentary economy” – i.e. between pastoralists and small farmers characterized by money transactions as well as traditional barter. A very tight austerity program was imposed on the government largely to release the funds required to service Somalia’s debt with the Paris Club. In fact, a large share of the external debt was held by the Washington-based financial institutions.’ According to an ILO mission report:

[T]he Fund alone among Somalia’s major recipients of debt service payments, refuses to reschedule. (…) De facto it is helping to finance an adjustment program, one of whose major goals is to repay the IMF itself.

Towards the Destruction of Food Agriculture

The structural adjustment program reinforced Somalia’s dependency on imported grain. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, food aid increased fifteen-fold, at the rate of 31 percent per annum.’ Combined with increased commercial imports, this influx of cheap surplus wheat and rice sold in the domestic market led to the displacement of local producers, as well as to a major shift in food consumption patterns to the detriment of traditional crops (maize and sorghum). The devaluation of the Somali shilling, imposed by the IMF in June 1981, was followed by periodic devaluations, leading to hikes in the prices of fuel, fertilizer and farm inputs. The impact on agricultural producers was immediate particularly in rain-fed agriculture, as well as in the areas of irrigated farming. Urban purchasing power declined dramatically, government extension programs were curtailed, infrastructure collapsed, the deregulation of the grain market and the influx of “food aid” led to the impoverishment of farming communities.’

Also, during this period, much of the best agricultural land was appropriated by bureaucrats, army officers and merchants with connections to the government.’ Rather than promoting food production for the domestic market, the donors were encouraging the development of so-called “high value-added” fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and cotton for export on the best irrigated farmland.

Collapse of the Livestock Economy

As of the early 1980s, prices for imported livestock drugs increased as a result of the depreciation of the currency. The World Bank encouraged the exaction of user fees for veterinarian services to the nomadic herdsmen, including the vaccination of animals. A private market for veterinary drugs was promoted. The functions performed by the Ministry of Livestock were phased out, with the Veterinary Laboratory Services of the ministry to be fully financed on a cost-recovery basis. According to the World Bank:

Veterinarian services are essential for livestock development in all areas, and they can be provided mainly by the private sector. (… Since few private veterinarians will choose to practice in the remote pastoral areas, improved livestock care will also depend on “para vets” paid from drug sales.’

The privatization of animal health was combined with the absence of emergency animal feed during periods of drought, the commercialization of water and the neglect of water and rangeland conservation. The results were predictable: the herds were decimated and so were the pastoralists, who represent 50 percent of the country’s population. The “hidden objective” of this program was to eliminate the nomadic herdsmen involved in the traditional exchange economy. According to the World Bank, “adjustments” in the size of the herds are, in any event, beneficial because nomadic pastoralists in sub-Saharan Africa are narrowly viewed as a cause of environmental degradation.”

The collapse in veterinarian services also indirectly served the interests of the rich countries: in 1984, Somalian cattle exports to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries plummeted as Saudi beef imports were redirected to suppliers from Australia and the European Community. The ban on Somali livestock imposed by Saudi Arabia was not, however, removed once the rinderpest disease epidemic had been eliminated.

Destroying the State

The restructuring of government expenditure under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions also played a crucial role in destroying food agriculture. Agricultural infrastructure collapsed and recurrent expenditure in agriculture declined by about 85 percent in relation to the mid-1970s.”

The Somali government was prevented by the IMF from mobilizing domestic resources. Tight targets for the budget deficit were set. Moreover, the donors increasingly provided “aid”, not in the form of imports of capital and equipment, but in the form of “food aid”. The latter would in turn be sold by the government on the local market and the proceeds of these sales (i.e. the so-called “counterpart funds”) would be used to cover the domestic costs of development projects. As of the early 1980s, “the sale of food aid” became the principal source of revenue for the state, thereby enabling donors to take control of the entire budgetary process.”

The economic reforms were marked by the disintegration of health and educational programmes.’3 By 1989, expenditure on health had declined by 78 percent in relation to its 1975 level. According to World Bank figures, the level of recurrent expenditure on education in 1989 was about US$ 4 Per annum per primary school student down from about $ 82 in 1982. From 1981 to 1989, school enrolment declined by 41 percent (despite a sizeable increase in the population of school age), textbooks and school materials disappeared from the class-rooms, school buildings deteriorated and nearly a quarter of the primary schools closed down. Teachers’ salaries declined to abysmally low levels.

The IMF-World Bank program has led the Somali economy into a vicious circle: the decimation of the herds pushed the nomadic pastoralists into starvation which in turn backlashes on grain producers who sold or bartered their grain for cattle. The entire social fabric of the pastoralist economy was undone. The collapse in foreign exchange earnings from declining cattle exports and remittances (from Somali workers in the Gulf countries) backlashed on the balance of payments and the state’s public finances leading to the breakdown of the government’s economic and social programs.

Small farmers were displaced as a result of the dumping of subsidized US grain on the domestic market combined with the hike in the price of farm inputs. The impoverishment of the urban population also led to a contraction of food consumption. In turn, state support in the irrigated areas was frozen and production in the state farms declined. The latter were slated to be closed down or privatized under World Bank supervision.

According to World Bank estimates, real public-sector wages in 1989 had declined by 90 percent in relation to the mid-1970s. Average wages in the public sector had fallen to US$ 3 a month, leading to the inevitable disintegration of the civil administration.” A program to rehabilitate civil service wages was proposed by the World Bank (in the context of a reform of the civil service), but this objective was to be achieved within the same budgetary envelope by dismissing some 40 percent of public-sector employees and eliminating salary supplements.” Under this plan, the civil service would have been reduced to a mere 25,000 employees by 1995 (in a country of six million people). Several donors indicated keen interest in funding the cost associated with the retrenchment of civil servants.”

In the face of impending disaster, no attempt was made by the international donor community to rehabilitate the country’s economic and social infrastructure, to restore levels of purchasing power and to rebuild the civil service: the macro-economic adjustment measures proposed by the creditors in the year prior to the collapse of the government of General Siyad Barre in January 1991 (at the height of the civil war) called for a further tightening over public spending, the restructuring of the Central Bank, the liberalization of credit (which virtually thwarted the private sector) and the liquidation and divestiture of most of the state enterprises.

In 1989, debt-servicing obligations represented 194.6 percent of export earnings. The IMF’s loan was cancelled because of Somalia’s outstanding arrears. The World Bank had approved a structural adjustment loan for US$ 70 million in June 1989 which was frozen a few months later due to Somalia’s poor macro-economic performance. ’7 Arrears with creditors had to be settled before the granting of new loans and the negotiation of debt rescheduling. Somalia was tangled in the straightjacket of debt servicing and structural adjustment.

Famine Formation in sub-Saharan Africa:  The Lessons of Somalia

Somalia’s experience shows how a country can be devastated by the simultaneous application of food “aid” and macro-economic policy. There are many Somalias in the developing world and the economic reform package implemented in Somalia is similar to that applied in more than 100 developing countries. But there is another significant dimension: Somalia is a pastoralist economy, and throughout Africa both nomadic and commercial livestock are being destroyed by the IMF-World Bank program in much the same way as in Somalia. In this context, subsidized beef and dairy products imported (duty free) from the European Union have led to the demise of Africa’s pastoral economy. European beef imports to West Africa have increased seven-fold since 1984: “the low quality EC beef sells at half the price of locally produced meat. Sahelian farmers are finding that no-one is prepared to buy their herds”.”

The experience of Somalia shows that famine in the late 20th century is not a consequence of a shortage of food. On the contrary, famines are spurred on as a result of a global oversupply of grain staples. Since the 1980s, grain markets have been deregulated under the supervision of the World Bank and US grain surpluses are used systematically as in the case of Somalia to destroy the peasantry and destabilize national food agriculture. The latter becomes, under these circumstances, far more vulnerable to the vagaries of drought and environmental degradation.

Throughout the continent, the pattern of “sectoral adjustment” in agriculture under the custody of the Bretton Woods institutions has been unequivocally towards the destruction of food security. Dependency vis-à-vis the world market has been reinforced, “food aid” to sub-Saharan Africa increased by more than seven times since 1974 and commercial grain imports more than doubled. Grain imports for sub-Saharan Africa expanded from 3.72 million tons in 1974 to 8.47 million tons in 1993. Food aid increased from 910,000 tons in 1974 to 6.64 million tons in l993.

“Food aid”, however, was no longer earmarked for the drought-stricken countries of the Sahelian belt; it was also channeled into countries which were, until recently, more or less self-sufficient in food. Zimbabwe (once considered the bread basket of Southern Africa) was severely affected by the famine and drought which swept Southern Africa in 1992. The country experienced a drop of 90 percent in its maize crop, located largely in less productive lands.” Yet, ironically, at the height of the drought, tobacco for export (supported by modem irrigation, credit, research, etc.) registered a bumper harvest. While “the famine forces the population to eat termites”, much of the export earnings from Zimbabwe’s tobacco harvest were used to service the external debt.

Under the structural adjustment program, farmers have increasingly abandoned traditional food crops; in Malawi, which was once a net food exporter, maize production declined by 40 percent in 1992 while tobacco output doubled between 1986 and 1993. One hundred and fifty thousand hectares of the best land was allocated to tobacco .2′ Throughout the 1980s, severe austerity measures were imposed on African governments and expenditures on rural development drastically curtailed, leading to the collapse of agricultural infrastructure. Under the World Bank program, water was to become a commodity to be sold on a cost-recovery basis to impoverished farmers. Due to lack of funds, the state was obliged to withdraw from the management and conservation of water resources. Water points and boreholes dried up due to lack of maintenance, or were privatized by local merchants and rich farmers. In the semi-arid regions, this commercialization of water and irrigation leads to the collapse of food security and famine.

Concluding Remarks

While “external” climatic variables play a role in triggering off a famine and heightening the social impact of drought, famines in the age of globalization are man-made. They are not the consequence of a scarcity of food but of a structure of global oversupply which undermines food security and destroys national food agriculture. Tightly regulated and controlled by international agri-business, this oversupply is ultimately conducive to the stagnation of both production and consumption of essential food staples and the impoverishment of farmers throughout the world. Moreover, in the era of globalization, the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program bears a direct relationship to the process of famine formation because it systematically undermines all categories of economic activity, whether urban or rural, which do not directly serve the interests of the global market system.

Western Democracy: A Farce And A Sham

Paul Craig Roberts
Infowars.com
November 3, 2011

Every day that passes adds to the fraudulent image of what is called Western democracy.

Consider that the entire Western world is outraged that the Greek prime minister announced that he is going to permit the Greek people to decide their own fate instead of having it decided for them by a handful of banksters, politicians, and bureaucrats living it up at taxpayer expense at “talks” in the French resort of Cannes on the Mediterranean.

The Greek economy is facing its fourth year of decline and lacks the revenues to service its national debt held by private European banks. The banks don’t want to lose any money, so a handful of power brokers reached an agreement with representatives of the Greek government to write off some of the debt in exchange for EU capital subsidies to be financed by inflicting severe austerity on the Greek population. Wages, salaries, pensions and medical care are being cut while the rate of unemployment rises to depression levels. Government employees are laid off. Valuable public properties are to be sold to private parties for pennies on the dollar. In short, Greece is to be looted.

Large numbers of Greeks have been in the streets protesting the austerity policy and have reached the point of anger of throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. Greece is disintegrating politically. The Greek people sense that the EU “bailout” is not bailing out Greece. It is bailing out the French, Dutch, and German banks at the expense of the Greek people.

The Greek prime minister, watching his party’s support and power crumble, announced that he would let the people decide in a referendum. After all, allegedly that’s what democracies do. But it turns out that “we have freedom and democracy” is not supposed to be taken literally. It is merely a propagandistic slogan behind which people are ruled through back-room deals decided by powerful private interests.

The Greek prime minister’s announcement that he would put the back-room bailout deal to a referendum shocked the EU hierarchy, Washington, and investors. Who does this Greek guy think he is permitting the people, who bear the cost of the deal, to have a say in it? Who let this Greek guy out of his cage? This is not the way democracies are ruled.

The EU power brokers are outraged over the Greek prime minister’s departure from normal procedure. But the Greek PM is relying on the Greek people to approve the deal, and not without reason.

The Greek people have been brainwashed for decades as to the importance of “being part of Europe.” That means being a member of the European Union. When the Greeks realize that voting down the bailout of the banksters means being thrown out of the European Union, which is what they will learn between now and the referendum, they will vote for the back room deal.

Polls already indicate this. A poll for a Greek newspaper indicates that whereas 46% oppose the bailout, 70% favor staying in the EU, which the Greeks see as a life or death issue.

If this poll is a reliable indicator, the Greek PM has made a brilliant political decision. The Greek people will vote in favor of what they have been protesting violently in the streets. As the Greek people will do themselves in, the politicians are off the hook. This is the bet that the Greek PM has placed.

Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that the entire Western political and investor world was shocked that a politician, instead of simply imposing a back room deal, said he would let the people decide. Letting the people decide is a no-no in Western democracies.

If you need more evidence of this mythical creature called “Western democracy,” consider that Western governments are no longer accountable to law. Contrast, for example, the sexual harassment charges that are plaguing US presidential candidate Herman Cain’s campaign with the pass given to high government officials who clearly violated statutory law.

What follows is not a defense of Cain. I take no position on the charges. The real point is different. In America the only thing that can ruin a politician is his interest in sex. A politician, for example, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, B. Omama, cannot be ruined by violating United States and international law or by treating the US Constitution as a “mere scrap of paper.” Bush and Cheney can take America to wars based entirely on lies and orchestrated deceptions. They can commit war crimes, murdering large numbers of civilians in the cause of “the war on terror,” itself a hoax. They can violate US and international laws against torture simply “because the president said so.” They can throw away habeas corpus, the constitutional requirement that a person cannot be imprisoned without evidence presented to a court. They can deny the right to an attorney. They can violate the law and spy on Americans without obtaining warrants. They can send due process to hell. In fact, they can do whatever they want just like Hitler’s Gestapo and Stalin’s secret police. But if they show undue interest in a woman or proposition a woman, they are dead meat.

Very few commentators have said a word about this. The House of Representatives did not impeach President Bill Clinton for his war crimes against Serbia. They impeached him for lying about a sexual affair with a White House intern. The US Senate, which had too many sexual affairs of its own to defend, didn’t bother to try to convict.

This is Amerika today. A president without any authority whatsoever, not in law and certainly not in the Constitution, can assassinate US citizens based on nothing except an assertion that they are a “threat.” No evidence is required. No conviction. No presentation of evidence in any court. Just a murder. That is now permissible to the Amerikan president. But let him try to get a woman who is not his wife into bed, and he is a cooked goose.

In Amerika there is no such thing any longer as torture; there is only “enhanced interrogation.” A mere word change has eliminated the crime. So torture is permissible.

In Amerika today, or in the UK and the EU, anyone who tells the truth is a “threat.” Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who made public information leaked to him by US government sources horrified by the criminal actions of the United States government, is now, as a result of Amerikan pressure on UK courts, being turned over to Sweden, which, for favors from the “world’s only superpower,” will turn him over to the US regardless of law to be prosecuted on trumped-up charges.

Western “civilization” is totally corrupted by American money. There is no integrity anywhere. For a decade Washington has been murdering women, children, village elders, and journalists in the name of the hoax “war on terror.”

What terror does the world actually see? The world sees the terror that Israel, protected by Washington, inflicts on the Palestinians. The world sees the terror that the US inflicts on Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Latin America and now Africa, with Syria, Lebanon, and Iran waiting in the wings. The “war on terror” is nothing but an orchestrated invented excuse for Amerika-Israel to achieve hegemony while enriching their armaments industries.

In Greece, at least the PM committed to giving the people a say in their fate. In America the people have no voice whatsoever. The sheeple are content to be protected by “security,” porno-scanners, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, and sexual groping. To carry on the hoax “war on terror,” the US government has elevated itself above the law.

The American effort to achieve accountability to law, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, if not shut down by cold weather, ice, and snow, is likely to be shut down by police violence. One riot begun by provocateurs is all it takes to transform protesters into “domestic extremists,” the number one concern of Homeland Security. The presstitute media will make the case against the rioters, and the sheeple will buy it.

The police have been militarized by Washington. Community police forces no longer represent the local public that pays their salaries. Local police represent Washington’s war against America.

American citizens are all suspects. Anyone who goes through airport security knows this. The only law that the US government obeys is not even a law. It is a bureaucratic regulation that prevents, even in dire wartime, any profiling of suspects by ethnicity or country of origin.

Consequently, all native born, flag-waving, American super-patriots are suspects when they board commercial airliners. Americans who have a life time of security clearances are subject to being porno-scanned or sexually groped. Airport Security cannot tell a “terrorist” from a CIA analyst, a Marine general or a US Senator.

Well-connected members of the ruling elite, such as Michael Chertoff, can become rich from selling the porto-scanners to taxpayers in order “to protect the public from terrorists.”

The only terrorists Americans will ever experience are those funded by their own tax dollars within their “own” government. A people incapable of perceiving its real peril has no chance of surviving. America might be a military superpower, but it no longer exists as a free country with accountable government and a rule of law.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously an editor for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.

Guerra Libia es un Entrenamiento para Guerra Global

Por Rick Rozoff
Adaptación Luis R. Miranda
19 de junio 2011

Mientras la guerra de Occidente contra Libia entra en su cuarto mes y la Organización del Atlántico Norte ha volado más de 11.000 misiones, incluyendo 4.300 bombardeos, sobre la pequeña nación, el único bloque militar ya está integrando las lecciones aprendidas de los conflictos en su modelo internacional modelo de intervención militar basado en guerras anteriores en los Balcanes, Afganistán e Irak.

Lo que la OTAN llama una Operación Unificada Protectora ha proporcionado a la Alianza el marco en el que continuar la Asociación de Reclutamiento de Auxiliares de Paz, como Suecia o Malta, afiliados de la Iniciativa de Cooperación de Estambul como Kuwait y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos y la Alianza del Diálogo Mediterráneo como Jordania y Marruecos en el mundo del bloque bélico. Suecia, Jordania y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos también tienen personal militar asignado a la Fuerza Internacional de Asistencia para la Seguridad en la guerra de casi diez años de duración en Afganistán. En el primer caso, las tropas de la nación escandinava se han dedicado en su papel de primer combatiente, matar o ser asesinado. En dos siglos en Afganistán, ha proporcionado ocho aviones de guerra para el ataque a Libia, con las fuerzas de marina.

Los conflictos militares liderados por los Estados Unidos y sus aliados de la OTAN en los últimos doce años – en contra Yugoslavia, Afganistán, Macedonia, Irak, Somalia, Sudán, Pakistán y Libia – han contribuido al mayor presupuesto militar estadounidense que se duplicó en la última década; así como ayudó a quintuplicar las exportaciones de armas de EE.UU. en el mismo período.

El Pentágono y la OTAN están actualmente concluyendo los ejercicios militares llamados Sea Breeze 2011 en el Mar Negro frente a la costa de Ucrania, cerca de la sede de la Flota Rusa del Mar Negro con base en Sebastopol. Entre los participantes figuran los EE.UU., Gran Bretaña, Azerbaiyán, Argelia, Bélgica, Dinamarca, Georgia, Alemania, Macedonia, Moldavia, Suecia, Turquía y Ucrania, la nación anfitriona. Todos, excepto Argelia y Moldavia son miembros de las Naciones Unidas que aportan contingentes para la guerra de Afganistán de la OTAN. Las maniobras una vez al año se reanudaron de nuevo el año pasado después de que el Parlamento de Ucrania las prohibió en 2009. Los ejercicios de este año se organizaron por iniciativa del jefe del Estado Mayor Conjunto de EE.UU., el almirante Michael Mullen. Simulacros del año pasado, pertenecientes a Sea Breeze, la más grande en el Mar Negro, incluyeron 20 buques de guerra, 13 aviones y más de 1.600 efectivos militares de los EE.UU., Azerbaiyán, Austria, Bélgica, Dinamarca, Georgia, Alemania, Grecia, Moldavia, Suecia, Turquía y Ucrania.

Este año, los misiles de crucero guiados desde el USS Monterrey se unieron al ejercicio. El buque de guerra es el primero desplegado en el Mediterráneo, y ahora el Mar Negro, por fases del enfoque adaptado del Pentágono, que en los próximos años incluirá por lo menos 40 Standard Missile-3 interceptores en Polonia y Rumanía y el destructores Aegis, en los mares Mediterráneo, Negro y el Báltico. Versiones actualizadas de los misiles, el bloque de IB, Block IIA y IIB, son vistos por los analistas políticos rusos y los comandantes militares como una amenaza a largo plazo y, como tal, contra el potencial estratégico de la nación.

Como ex diplomático indio MK Bhadrakumar escribió en una columna reciente:

“Sin duda, los EE.UU. están aumentando la presión sobre la flota rusa del Mar Negro. La provocación de los Estados Unidos se está llevando a cabo en el contexto de la crisis en Siria. Rusia está obstinadamente bloqueando intentos de EE.UU. en el caso de Libia, al estilo de la intervención en Siria. Moscú entiende que la razón principal de los EE.UU. para presionar por un cambio de régimen en Siria es conseguir que la base naval rusa en ese país desaparezca.

“La base es el único punto de apoyo de Rusia en la región mediterránea. La Flota Rusa del Mar Negro cuenta con la base de Siria para mantener una presencia efectiva en el Mediterráneo. Con el establecimiento de bases militares de EE.UU. en Rumanía y la aparición del buque de guerra de EE.UU. en la región del Mar Negro, el arco de presión sobre Rusia se estrecha. ”

El USS Monterey, cuya presencia en el Mar Negro ha sido criticada como una violación de la Convención de Montreux de 1936, volverá al Mediterráneo donde el último superportaaviones nuclear de Estados Unidos, el USS George HW Bush y su grupo de ataque de portaaviones con 9.000 miembros del servicio y un ala aérea de 70 aviones también está presente, después de haber visitado recientemente las Fuerzas Navales de EE.UU. Europa / África y la sede de la Sexta Flota en Nápoles, Italia, al norte de Libia.

La semana pasada el buque de asalto anfibio USS Bataan participó en un ejercicio de certificación con su homólogo francés, FS Tonnerre en el Mediterráneo. El sitio web de Marina de los EE.UU. declaró que la certificación “proporcionará a Tonnerre con una mayor flexibilidad en su apoyo a la Operación Unificada Protectora de OTAN”, el nombre clave para la guerra de la Alianza contra Libia. El USS Bataan; grupo anfibio. incluye un estimado de 2.000 infantes de marina de la 22ª Unidad Expedicionaria de la Marina y decenas de aviones de combate y helicópteros de ataque, que está listo para la acción en Libia y, si el patrón se mantiene, Siria.

Los aliados de EE.UU. y la OTAN y sus socios – Albania, Argelia, Croacia, Egipto, Grecia, Italia, Malta, Mauritania, Marruecos, España, Túnez y Turquía – llevaron a cabo el ejercicio marítimo Phoenix Express 2011 en el Mediterráneo Oriental y Central desde junio 1 a 15 , que incluyó maniobras de apoyo a la Iniciativa Global de los Estados Unidos contra la Proliferación.

También a principios de mes la OTAN ejecutó las operaciones navales y militares Northern Viking, el último de una serie de ejercicios bajo ese nombre, en Islandia, con 450 miembros militares de la OTAN de los EE.UU., Dinamarca, Islandia, Italia y Noruega. El sitio web del Comando Europeo de Estados Unidos, citó al comandante noruego diciendo, “ejercicios como [Northern Viking 2011] permite a los pilotos a prepararse para escenarios del mundo real, como Operation Dawn Operación Odyssey”, el nombre de la campaña militar occidental en Libia del 19 al 30 de marzo.

Esta semana el Secretario General de la OTAN, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, visitó Gran Bretaña y España, para reunirse con el primer ministro David Cameron y el secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, William Hague en el primer país, y el primer ministro José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Trinidad Jiménez, y el ministro de Defensa, Carme Chacón, en el segundo.

En Londres Rasmussen se centró en las guerras en Libia y Afganistán, bajo el mando de la OTAN, y promovió la aplicación de la ala europea del sistema internacional de interceptores de misiles de E.E.U.U.

Quizás en parte como respuesta a la reprimenda que la OTAN y sus países miembros recibieron recientemente del para ellos es su autoridad, el secretario de defensa de EUA, Roberert Gates – se jactó:
“La OTAN es más necesaria y deseada que nunca, desde Afganistán hasta Kosovo, de la costa de Somalia a Libia. Estamos más ocupados que nunca. ”

En España se dirigió a la cámara alta del Parlamento de la nación en un discurso titulado “La OTAN y el Mediterráneo: los cambios por venir” y, según el sitio web del bloque, destacó “el papel cambiante de la OTAN en el Mediterráneo, centrándose especialmente en la Operación Unificada Protector y el futuro papel de la OTAN en la región.” Él también prometió que “podemos ayudar a que la Primavera Árabe verdaderamente florezca.” Libia y Siria, Argelia y el Líbano vienen a la mente como los objetos de la solicitud falsa de la OTAN, y Egipto y Túnez, también, como Rasmussen ya ha mencionado, en lo que respecta a la formación de la OTAN a sus militares y la reconstrucción de sus estructuras de mando, de acuerdo con las normas de la Alianza, como se está haciendo en Irak.

La guerra contra Libia, es el primer conflicto armado de la OTAN en el Mediterráneo y en el continente africano, y a través de este se está consolidando el control del Mediterráneo, el cual ya fue establecido por la vigilancia de la Operación Esfuerzo Activo en curso y la misión de interceptación lanzado en 2001 en virtud del artículo 5 de la OTAN sobre la provisión colectiva de asistencia militar.

Mientras Rasmussen fue a Gran Bretaña, el embajador ruso ante la OTAN, Dmitri Rogozin, dijo que la Alianza Atlántica “está elaborando en una operación terrestre”, y afirmó: “La guerra en Libia … significa el comienzo de su expansión hacia el sur.”

Dos días antes, los EE.UU. y la OTAN completaron operaciones en el Báltico (BALTOPS) 2011, que incluía 20 barcos procedentes de once países europeos y el buque insignia de la Sexta Flota de la base mediterránea de EE.UU., USS Mount Whitney, otros buques de guerra estadounidenses y el Comando de Ataque del Grupo de Portaviones, Grupo de Ataque 8.

Al mismo tiempo en el mar Báltico, se realiza el ejercicio Amber Hope 2011, cerca de la costa de Lituania, que dura 11 días y que se puso en marcha el 13 de junio con la participación de 2.000 militares de los miembros de la OTAN: los EE.UU., Canadá, Estonia, Letonia, Lituania, Noruega y Polonia y la Asociación para los miembros de la Paz Georgia y Finlandia. Las ex repúblicas soviéticas y los afiliados de la Asociación para la Paz: Armenia, Azerbaiyán, Belarús, Kazajstán. Moldavia y Ucrania fueron observadores.

La segunda fase del ejercicio se iniciará el 19 de junio y, según el Ministerio de Defensa lituano, “las tropas seguirán un escenario establecido sobre la base de las lecciones aprendidas por los lituanos y los Estados extranjeros en Afganistán, Irak y en la costa somalí”, en el último caso, una alusión a la campaña realizada por la OTAN llamada Operación Escudo del Océano. El bloque también ha transportado a miles de tropas de Uganda y Burundi a Somalia para luchar en la capital, Mogadiscio.

A principios de esta semana la OTAN también celebró una conferencia con los jefes de defensa de 60 miembros y Estados asociados en Belgrado, Serbia, que fue bombardeado en varias ocasiones por aviones de la OTAN hace 12 años, también se centró en la labor del bloque en la actual guerra en Libia.

La Conferencia Socio-estratégica y Militar contó con la participación del francés Stephane Abrial General Supremo de la OTAN y Comandante Aliado de Transformación con sede en Norfolk, Virginia, que dijo: “Estoy convencido de que la operación en Libia será un éxito”, aunque admitió que las hostilidades se pueden prolongar en el futuro.

La Fuerza Rotacional del Mar Negro, una fuerza especial que incluye marines y la fuerza aérea, continuó con ejercicios de entrenamiento militar en Rumanía, un ejercicio de dos semanas en Bulgaria el 13 de junio con las tropas de la nación anfitriona y, por primera vez, Serbia, en una de las cuatro bases aéreas y de infantería en el país, adonde personal del Pentágono se trasladó desde 2006. La formación anterior de Rumanía fue una de los otras cuatro bases adquiridas en esa nación.

La prensa local informó que la mayoría de los infantes de marina de EE.UU. que participan llegó a la Novo Selo Range “directamente de Afganistán” en aviones Hércules C-130.

El teniente coronel Nelson Cardella del Cuerpo de Marines de EE.UU., dijo de los ejercicios: “Nuestras tropas estarán capacitadas para mejorar la interoperabilidad de nuestro personal” para las guerras en Afganistán y el futuro.

Noticias de Bulgaria Standart anunciaron que “el año próximo el ejercicio de la Fuerza de rotación se llevará a cabo en Serbia.”

La misión de la Fuerza de rotación del Mar Negro, formado el año pasado, es integrar las fuerzas armadas de los doce países de los Balcanes, la región del Mar Negro y el Cáucaso – Albania, Azerbaiyán, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croacia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Rumanía, Serbia y Ucrania – a través de la OTAN para su despliegue en Afganistán y otras zonas de guerra y situaciones posteriores a conflictos.

Cada una de las guerras que los EE.UU. y sus aliados de la OTAN han librado desde 1999 ha dado como resultado el aumento en el número de bases disponibles para ambos brazos militares del complejo militar industrial. A esto se suman los contingentes expedicionarios en las naciones subyugadas y adyacentes en el sureste de Europa, el Mediterráneo Oriental, el Golfo Pérsico y Asia Meridional y Central.

Así como en Yugoslavia, las guerras de Afganistán e Irak han contribuido al desarrollo de la alianza liderada por la OTAN y a un aumento en su capacidad de intervención militar en cualquier lugar para después realizar operaciones internacionales como las de Libia, por lo que la experiencia de Libia se está empleando para conflictos futuros.

Desestabilización de Siria y la Gran Guerra en Oriente Medio

Por Michel Chossudovsky
Adaptación Luis R. Miranda
19 de junio 2011

Lo que se está desarrollando en Siria es una insurrección armada apoyada secretamente por potencias extranjeras, incluyendo los EE.UU., Turquía e Israel.

Insurgentes armados pertenecientes a organizaciones islamistas han cruzado la frontera de Turquía, Líbano y Jordania. El Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. confirmó que se trata de apoyar a la insurgencia.

Los Estados Unidos amplían los contactos con los sirios que cuentan con un cambio de régimen en el país.

Una manifestación a favor del gobierno en la plaza central en Damasco

Así lo afirmó la funcionaria del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU., Victoria Nuland. “Empezamos a ampliar los contactos con los sirios, los que están pidiendo un cambio, tanto dentro como fuera del país”, dijo.

Nuland también repitió que Barack Obama había llamado previamente a presidente sirio Bashar Assad para iniciar reformas o abandonara el poder. “(La Voz de Rusia, 17 de junio de 2011)

La desestabilización de Siria y el Líbano como países soberanos ha estado en la mesa de la alianza Estados Unidos-OTAN-Israel por lo menos durante diez años.

La acción contra Siria es parte de una “hoja de ruta militar”, una secuencia de las operaciones militares. Según el ex comandante de la OTAN el general Wesley Clark, el Pentágono había identificado claramente Irak, Libia, Siria y Líbano como países de destino de una intervención de Estados Unidos y la OTAN:

“[El] Plan para la Campaña de Cinco Años [incluye] … un total de siete países, empezando por Irak, luego Siria, Líbano, Libia, Irán, Somalia y Sudán” (citó un funcionario del Pentágono citado por el General Wesley Clark)

En “Ganar las guerras modernas” (página 130) General Wesley Clark declara lo siguiente:

“Cuando volví por el Pentágono, en noviembre de 2001, uno de los oficiales de estado mayor militar de alto rango tenía tiempo para una charla. Sí, todavía estábamos en el buen camino para ir en contra de Irak, dijo. Pero había más. Esto se está discutiendo en el marco de un plan de campaña de cinco años, dijo, y hay un total de siete países, comenzando con Irak, luego Siria, Líbano, Libia, Irán, Somalia y Sudán.

… Lo dijo con reproche e incredulidad, casi a la amplitud de la visión. Mudé la conversación porque esto no era algo que yo quería oír. Y no era algo que quería visualizar tampoco. … Dejé el Pentágono esa tarde profundamente preocupado “.

El objetivo es desestabilizar el Estado sirio e implementar un “cambio de régimen” a través del apoyo encubierto de la insurgencia armada, integrada por las milicias islamistas. Los informes sobre muertes de civiles se utilizan para proporcionar un pretexto y una justificación para la intervención humanitaria bajo el principio de “Responsabilidad de Proteger”.

Desinformación de los medios corporativos

La importancia de una insurrección armada es reconocida, pero los medios corporativos lo descuentan y le restan importancia. Si llegara a ser reconocido y analizado, nuestra comprensión del desarrollo de los acontecimientos sería totalmente diferente.

Lo que se menciona profusamente es que las fuerzas armadas y la policía están involucrados en la matanza indiscriminada de manifestantes civiles. Los informes de prensa confirman, sin embargo, desde el inicio del movimiento de protesta, un intercambio de disparos entre insurgentes armados y la policía, con víctimas registradas en ambos lados.

La insurrección se inició a mediados de marzo en la ciudad fronteriza de Daraa, que está a 10 km de la frontera con Jordania.

El Daraa “movimiento de protesta” tenía el 18 de marzo, todas las apariencias de un evento organizado que implica, con toda probabilidad, el apoyo encubierto a terroristas islámicos por el Mossad y / o de inteligencias occidentales. Fuentes gubernamentales señalan el papel de los grupos salafistas radicales (con el apoyo de Israel)

Otros informes han señalado el papel de Arabia Saudita en el financiamiento del movimiento de protesta.

Lo que se ha desarrollado en Daraa en las semanas siguientes los enfrentamientos violentos iniciales del 17-18 de marzo, es la confrontación entre la policía y las fuerzas armadas, por un lado y las unidades armadas de los terroristas y francotiradores en los otros que se han infiltrado en el movimiento de protesta.

Lo que está claro a partir de estos informes iniciales es que muchos de los manifestantes no eran manifestantes, pero terroristas implicados en actos premeditados de asesinatos e incendios. El título de la noticia de Israel resume lo sucedido: Siria: Siete policías muertos, edificios incendiados en las protestas.

(Véase Michel Chossudovsky, SIRIA: ¿Quién está detrás del movimiento de protesta? fabricando un pretexto para una “intervención humanitaria” de Estados Unidos y la OTAN, Global Research, 3 de mayo, 2011)

El papel de Turquía

El centro de la insurrección se ha centrado ahora en el pequeño pueblo fronterizo de al-Jisr Shughour, a 10 km de la frontera turca.

Jisr al-Shughour tiene una población de 44.000 habitantes. Insurgentes armados han cruzado la frontera de Turquía.

Los miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana se informa, han tomado las armas en el noroeste de Siria.
Hay indicios de que el ejército turco y la inteligencia son el apoyo a estas incursiones.

Los rebeldes de la Hermandad Musulmanes en Jisr al Shughour. AFP

No hubo un movimiento de protesta de masas civiles en Jisr al-Shughour. La población local fue atrapado en el fuego cruzado. Los combates entre los rebeldes armados y fuerzas gubernamentales ha contribuido a desencadenar una crisis de refugiados, que es el centro de atención de los medios.

Por el contrario, en la capital de Damasco, donde se encuentra la base de los movimientos sociales, ha habido manifestaciones masivas en apoyo y no en la oposición al gobierno.

El presidente Bashar al-Assad es casualmente comparado a los presidentes de Ben Ali de Túnez y de Egipto, Hosni Mubarak. Lo que los medios de comunicación han dejado de mencionar es que a pesar del carácter autoritario del régimen, el presidente al-Assad es una figura popular que tiene un amplio apoyo de la población siria. Es exactamente el mismo caso de Muammar Gaddafi en Libia.

La gran manifestación en Damasco el 29 de marzo, “con decenas de miles de partidarios” (Reuters) del presidente al-Assad fue apenas mencionado. Sin embargo, en un giro inusual, las imágenes y secuencias de video de varios eventos pro-gobierno fueron utilizados por los medios de comunicación occidentales para convencer a la opinión pública internacional de que el Presidente Assad estaba siendo enfrentado por grandes masas de la población.

El 15 de junio, miles de personas se manifestaron por varios kilómetros en la principal carretera de Damasco en una marcha sosteniendo una bandera siria de 2,3 km. La manifestación fue reconocido por los medios de comunicación y fue llamada de irrelevante.

Aunque el régimen sirio no es democrático, el objetivo de la alianza militar entre Estados Unidos, la OTAN e Israel tampoco es el de promover la democracia. Todo lo contrario. La intención de Washington es instalar un régimen títere.

El objetivo a través de los medios de desinformación -léase medios coporaticos- es demonizar al presidente al-Assad, y de manera más amplia desestabilizar a Siria como un estado secular. Este último objetivo se realizará mediante el apoyo encubierto de varias organizaciones islamistas:

Siria está dirigido por una oligarquía autoritaria que ha utilizado la fuerza bruta para hacer frente a sus ciudadanos. Los disturbios en Siria, sin embargo, son complejos. No puede ser visto como una búsqueda sencilla por la libertad y la democracia. Ha habido un intento de los EE.UU. y la UE mediante el uso de disturbios en Siria para presionar e intimidar a las autoridades sirias. Arabia Saudita, Israel, Jordania, y la Alianza del 14 de Marzo han jugado un papel en el apoyo de una insurrección armada.

La violencia en Siria ha sido apoyada desde el exterior con el fin de aprovecharse de las tensiones internas … Aparte de la reacción violenta del ejército sirio, los medios de comunicación han utilizado imágenes falsas para exagerar la supuesta oposición popular. El dinero y las armas también se han canalizado a los elementos de la oposición siria por los EE.UU., la UE …. El financiamiento también se ha proporcionado por parte de los nefastos e impopulares radicados en el exterior de la oposición siria, principalmente a través de depósitos de armas de contrabando procedentes de Jordania y el Líbano, en Siria. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, El Siguiente Teatro de Guerra Estadounidense: Siria y Líbano, Global Research, 10 de junio de 2011)

La articulación entre Israel y Turquía y el acuerdo militar de inteligencia
La geopolítica de este proceso de desestabilización es de largo alcance. Turquía participa en el apoyo a los rebeldes.

El gobierno turco ha sancionado a los grupos de oposición en el exilio sirio que apoyan la insurgencia armada. Turquía también presiona a Damasco para cumplir con las exigencias de Washington para el cambio de régimen.

Turquía es miembro de la OTAN con una fuerza militar poderosa. Por otra parte, Israel y Turquía tienen una larga historia de acuerdos militares y de inteligencia, que está explícitamente dirigida contra Siria.

… Un Memorando de entendimiento de 1993 llevó a la creación de “comisiones mixtas” (turco-israelí) para manejar las llamadas amenazas regionales. Bajo los términos del Memorando, Turquía e Israel acordaron “cooperar en la recolección de inteligencia sobre Siria, Irán e Irak y se reúnen periódicamente para compartir las evaluaciones relacionadas con el terrorismo y las capacidades de estos países.

Turquía aceptó permitir que las IDF y las fuerzas de seguridad israelíes reunieran información de inteligencia electrónica sobre Siria e Irán. A cambio, Israel ayudó a equipar y entrenar a las fuerzas turcas en la guerra contra el terror a lo largo de las fronteras de Siria, Iraq e Irán “.

Ya durante la Administración Clinton, se habían desarrollado una alianza militar triangular entre los EE.UU., Israel y Turquía. Esta “triple alianza”, que está dominada por el Estado Mayor Conjunto de EE.UU., integra y coordina las decisiones del comando militar entre los tres países relacionados con el Medio Oriente. Se basa en los estrechos vínculos militares, respectivamente, de Israel y Turquía, con los EE.UU., junto con una fuerte relación militar bilateral entre Tel Aviv y Ankara. ….

La triple alianza es también, junto con un acuerdo de cooperación militar de 2005 entre OTAN e Israel que incluye “muchas áreas de interés común, tales como la lucha contra el terrorismo y los ejercicios militares conjuntos. Estos vínculos de cooperación militar con la OTAN son vistos por los militares israelíes como un medio para (Véase Michel Chossudovsky, Triple Alianza, EUA, Israel y Turquía y la Guerra en Líbano, para “mejorar la capacidad de disuasión de Israel respecto a los posibles enemigos que la amenazan, sobre todo Irán y Siria, 6 de agosto de 2006)

El apoyo encubierto a los insurgentes armados fuera de Turquía o Jordania, sin duda, se coordinarán bajo la articulación entre Israel y Turquía y el acuerdo militar de inteligencia.

Cruce peligroso: La Gran Guerra de Oriente Medio

Israel y la OTAN firmaron un acuerdo de largo alcance de cooperación militar en 2005. Según este acuerdo, Israel se considera un miembro de facto de la OTAN.

Si una operación militar se pusiera en marcha en contra de Siria; Israel tendría toda probabilidad de participar en las empresas militares junto a las fuerzas de la OTAN (en el marco del acuerdo bilateral OTAN-Israel). Turquía también podría desempeñar un papel militar activo.

Una intervención militar en Siria por falsos motivos humanitarios llevaría a una escalada de la guerra de Estados Unidos dirigida por la OTAN en una amplia zona que se extiende desde el norte de África y el Medio Oriente hasta Asia Central, desde el Mediterráneo Oriental a la frontera occidental de China con Afganistán y Pakistán.

También contribuiría a un proceso de desestabilización política en el Líbano, Jordania y Palestina, sentando las bases para un conflicto con Irán.

Libyan War is a training ground for Global War Template

by Rick Rozoff
June 19, 2011

As the West’s war against Libya has entered its fourth month and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has flown more than 11,000 missions, including 4,300 strike sorties, over the small nation, the world’s only military bloc is already integrating lessons learned from the conflict into its international model of military intervention based on earlier wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

What NATO refers to as Operation Unified Protector has provided the Alliance the framework in which to continue recruiting Partnership for Peace adjuncts like Sweden and Malta, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative affiliates Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates and Mediterranean Dialogue partnership members Jordan and Morocco into the bloc’s worldwide warfighting network. Sweden, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates also have military personnel assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the nearly ten-year-long war in Afghanistan. In the first case, troops from the Scandinavian nation has been engaged in their first combat role, killing and being killed, in two centuries in Afghanistan and has provided eight warplanes for the attack on Libya, with marine forces to soon follow.

The military conflicts waged and other interventions conducted by the United States and its NATO allies over the past twelve years – in and against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan and Libya – have contributed to the American military budget more than doubling in the past decade and U.S. arms exports almost quintupling in the same period.

The Pentagon and NATO are currently concluding the Sea Breeze 2011 naval exercise in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, near the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in Sebastopol. Participants include the U.S., Britain, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Macedonia, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey and host nation Ukraine. All but Algeria and Moldova are Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s Afghan war. The once-annual maneuvers resumed again last year after the Ukrainian parliament banned them in 2009. This year’s exercise was arranged on the initiative of chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. Last year’s Sea Breeze drills, the largest in the Black Sea, included 20 naval vessels, 13 aircraft and more than 1,600 military personnel from the U.S., Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.

This year the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey joined the exercise. The warship is the first deployed to the Mediterranean, and now the Black, Sea for the Pentagon’s Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile program, one which in upcoming years will include at least 40 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Poland and Romania and on Aegis class destroyers and cruisers in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas. Upgraded versions of the missile, the Block IB, Block IIA and Block IIB, are seen by Russian political analysts and military commanders as threats to Russia’s long-range missiles and as such to the nation’s strategic potential.

As former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar wrote in a recent column:

“Without doubt, the US is stepping up pressure on Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The US’s provocation is taking place against the backdrop of the turmoil in Syria. Russia is stubbornly blocking US attempts to drum up a case for Libya-style intervention in Syria. Moscow understands that a major reason for the US to push for regime change in Syria is to get the Russian naval base in that country wound up.

“The Syrian base is the only toehold Russia has in the Mediterranean region. The Black Sea Fleet counts on the Syrian base for sustaining any effective Mediterranean presence by the Russian navy. With the establishment of US military bases in Romania and the appearance of the US warship in the Black Sea region, the arc of encirclement is tightening.”

USS Monterey, whose presence in the Black Sea has been criticized as a violation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, will return to the Mediterranean where the U.S.’s newest nuclear supercarrier, USS George H.W. Bush, and its carrier strike group with 9,000 service members and an air wing of 70 aircraft is also present, having recently visited U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa and Sixth Fleet headquarters in Naples, Italy, due north of Libya.

Last week the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan engaged in a certification exercise with its French counterpart FS Tonnerre in the Mediterranean. The U.S. Navy website stated that the certification “will provide Tonnerre with additional flexibility during their support to NATO-led Operation Unified Protector,” the codename for the Alliance’s war against Libya. The USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group includes an estimated 2,000 Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and dozens of warplanes and attack and other helicopters, and is poised for action in Libya and, if the pattern holds, Syria.

The U.S. and NATO allies and partners – Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey – conducted the Phoenix Express 2011 maritime exercise in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean from June 1-15, which included maneuvers in support of the U.S.’s global Proliferation Security Initiative.

Also earlier this month NATO held this year’s Northern Viking air and naval exercise, the latest in a series of biennial drills under that name, in Iceland with 450 NATO military members from the U.S., Denmark, Iceland, Italy and Norway. The United States European Command website cited the Norwegian detachment commander saying, “exercises like [Northern Viking 2011] allowed the pilots to prepare for real-world scenarios, like Operation Odyssey Dawn,” the name for the Western military campaign in Libya from March 19-30.

This week NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Britain and Spain, meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the first country and Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez and Defence Minister Carme Chacon in the second.

While in London Rasmussen focused on the wars in Libyan and Afghanistan, both under NATO command, and promoted the implementation of the European wing of the U.S. international interceptor missile system.

Perhaps in part responding to the dressing down NATO member states had recently received by the person Rasmussen truly, if unofficially, has to account to – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates – he boasted:

“NATO is more needed and wanted than ever, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from the coast of Somalia to Libya. We are busier than ever before.”

In Spain he addressed the nation’s upper house of parliament in a speech titled “NATO and the Mediterranean: the changes ahead” and, according to the bloc’s website, emphasized “NATO’s changing role in the Mediterranean, particularly focusing on Operation Unified Protector and NATO’s future role in the region.” He also pledged that “we can help the Arab Spring well and truly blossom.” Libya and Syria, tomorrow Algeria and Lebanon, come to mind as the objects of NATO’s false solicitude, and Egypt and Tunisia too, as Rasmussen has already mentioned, in regard to NATO training their militaries and rebuilding their command structures in accordance with Alliance standards, as is being done in Iraq.

The war against Libya, NATO’s first armed conflict in the Mediterranean and on the African continent, is solidifying control of the Mediterranean already established by the ongoing Operation Active Endeavor surveillance and interdiction mission launched in 2001 under NATO’s Article 5 collective military assistance provision.

While Rasmussen was in Britain, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin said that the Atlantic Alliance “is being drawn into a ground operation,” and asserted “The war in Libya means…the beginning of its expansion south.”

Two days before, the U.S. and NATO completed Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011, which included 20 ships from eleven European nations and the flagship of the Mediterranean-based U.S. Sixth Fleet, USS Mount Whitney, other American warships and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 8.

Concurrently in the Baltic Sea, the 11-day Amber Hope 2011 exercise was launched in Lithuania on June 13 with the participation of 2,000 military personnel from NATO members the U.S., Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Poland and Partnership for Peace members Georgia and Finland. Former Soviet republics and Partnership for Peace affiliates Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine are attending as observers.

The second phase of the exercise will begin on June 19 and, according to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, “troops will follow an established scenario based on lessons learnt by Lithuanian and foreign states in Afghanistan, Iraq and off the Somali coast,” in the last case an allusion to NATO’s ongoing Operation Ocean Shield. The bloc has also airlifted thousands of Ugandan and Burundian troops into Somalia for fighting in the capital of Mogadishu.

Earlier this week NATO also held a conference with the defense chiefs of 60 member and partner states in Belgrade, Serbia, which was bombed repeatedly by NATO warplanes 12 years ago, also focusing on the bloc’s current three-month-long war in Libya.

The Strategic Military Partner Conference was addressed by, inter alia, French General Stephane Abrial, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation based in Norfolk, Virginia, who said, “I’m convinced that the operation in Libya will be successful,” though conceding that the hostilities may be prolonged well into the future in his opening statement.

The Black Sea Rotational Force, a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, followed military training exercises in Romania with a two-week exercise in Bulgaria on June 13 with troops from the host nation and, for the first time, Serbia on one of the four air and infantry bases in the country the Pentagon has moved into since 2006. The earlier training in Romania was at one of another four bases acquired in that nation.

The local press reported that most of the U.S. Marines involved arrived at the Novo Selo Range “straight from Afghanistan” on Hercules-C-130 transport aircraft.

Lieutenant Colonel Nelson Cardella of the U.S. Marine Corps said of the drills, “Our troops will be trained to improve the interoperability of our staffs” for the Afghan and future wars.

Bulgaria’s Standart News announced that “next year the Black Sea Rotational Force exercise will take place in Serbia.”

The mission of the Black Sea Rotational Force, formed last year, is to integrate the armed forces of twelve nations in the Balkans, Black Sea region and Caucasus – Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – through NATO for deployment to Afghanistan and other war zones and post-conflict situations.

Each of the wars the U.S. and its NATO allies have waged since 1999 has gained the Pentagon and the Alliance new military bases and expeditionary contingents in subjugated and adjoining nations in Southeastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and South and Central Asia.

Just as the Yugoslav, Afghan and Iraqi wars contributed to developing a U.S.-led NATO international military intervention capability for use against Libya today, so the Libyan experience is being employed for future conflicts.