Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Incoming U.S. Defense Secretary Ret. General Mattis: The Iraq War Was A 'Strategic Mistake'

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Business Insider: MATTIS: The Iraq war was a 'strategic mistake'

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Defence Secretary called the invasion of Iraq a “strategic mistake” at a conference last year, in an audio recording obtained by The Intercept.

In a wide-ranging speech at an ASIS International Conference in Anaheim, California that covered everything from Iran, ISIS, and other national security hotspots, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis told attendees: “We will probably look back on the invasion of Iraq as a mistake, a strategic mistake.”

The assertion is not particularly controversial, given the faulty intelligence that led to the invasion, the many missteps afterward, and the unravelling of a country that eventually gave birth to the terrorist group ISIS.

But it is interesting as it’s the first known instance of Mattis portraying the invasion in a negative light, especially given his leadership of 1st Marine Division in 2003, which he led across the border and, eventually, into Baghdad.

Read more ....

Update #1: Iraq Was Probably a “Mistake,” Said Gen. James Mattis, Trump's Defense Pick (The Intercept)
Update #2: Iraq war a ‘strategic mistake’ – leaked Gen. Mattis audio (RT)

WNU Editor: None of the articles explain why he felt it was a strategic mistake at the time .... because with hindsight it is easy to make the claim. I can only hope that this will be one of the questions raised when he goes through the confirmation process.

An Aerial Time Lapse Video From Google Earth Shows How Much Area 51 Has Grown In The Past 30 Years

Daily Mail: Area 51 revealed: Aerial timelapse of America's mysterious government base shows how it has grown

* Animation shows how Area 51 has evolved since 1984 using Google Earth's timelapse feature
* The military facility has been a focal point of many conspiracy theorists since the late 1970s
* The original runway is now far wider and longer, with a second runway now built further to the East
* The site has previously been confirmed as a historic test site for military aircraft

Area 51 is one of the most secretive locations in the world.

The Nevada-based military testing facility has been a focal point of many conspiracy theorists and UFOlogists since the late 1970s, who claim that the base houses secretive alien technology.

Now, a Google timelapse has revealed how the mysterious base has developed over the past 32 years.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Someone has been very busy there in the past 30 years.

More News On An Aerial Time Lapse Video From Google Earth That Shows How Much Area 51 Has Grown In The Past 30 Years

Area 51 Aerial Time Lapse Shows How the Secretive Location Has Grown -- Popular Mechanics
Google time-lapse reveals what’s actually been happening in Area 51 for 30 years -- Metro
USA’s Area 51 Exposed In New Google Timelapse Video [Watch] -- Science World Report
Incredible aerial timelapse reveals how the mysterious Area 51 has expanded over the last 30 years -- The SUN

President-Elect Trump Wants To Cancel Boeing's $4 Billion Air Force One Contract

Wall Street Journal: Trump Says U.S. Should ‘Cancel Order’ for New Air Force One, Citing Costs

Aircraft maker is the latest company to come under scrutiny by the incoming commander-in-chief

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested the U.S. government should cancel a planned order with Boeing Co. for planes to serve as the new Air Force One, making the aircraft maker the latest company to come under scrutiny by the incoming commander-in-chief.

The move broadens Mr. Trump’s effort to influence industrial policy beyond rebuking companies for moving jobs overseas by tackling the single largest source of discretionary federal spending: the federal defense budget.

In a Twitter post Tuesday, Mr. Trump said the cost for a new “Air Force One” plane for future presidents was “more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Read more ....

More News On President-Elect Trump Wanting To Cancel Boeing's $4 Billion Air Force One Contract

Trump Targets Boeing for 'Out of Control' Air Force One Costs -- FOX News
Trump slams Boeing deal for new Air Force One -- USA Today
Citing high cost, Trump says Boeing’s contract to build Air Force One should be canceled -- Washington Post
Trump on Boeing's Air Force One contract: 'Cancel order!' -- Reuters
Trump wants to cancel Air Force One order from Boeing -- CNN
Trump urges cancellation of costly new Air Force One plane -- CBS
Trump rips Boeing for cost overruns on new Air Force One, says 'cancel order' -- FOX News
Trump: Cancel Boeing’s Air Force One contract -- Politico
Donald Trump Wants to Cancel Boeing's Air Force One Contract -- Fortune
Trump: Boeing should lose Air Force One contract over 'out of control' cost -- The Guardian
Cost of a 747? 20% of Air Force One, apparently -- USA Today/Wall Street 24/7

Chinese Media Tells President-Elect Trump To Stop Behaving Like A 'Rookie' And To 'Fall Into Line' With Beijing

Trump angered Chinese officials by firing off these two tweets on Sunday, criticizing the government

Time: China’s State Media Tells Donald Trump to ‘Stop Acting Like a Diplomatic Rookie’

They were responding to a series of tweets he issued on Sunday

Chinese media outlets have warned that Donald Trump is threatening healthy U.S.-China relations, on which “world peace and prosperity” depend, by behaving like a “diplomatic rookie” on issues like Taiwan, trade and the South China Sea.

Comment pieces published on China’s state media channels and newspapers with ties to Beijing criticized the President-elect in response to a series of tweets he issued on Sunday, chiding China for taxing U.S. imports, devaluing its currency, and building military installations in the South China Sea. This comes after he broke with decades of diplomatic niceties on Dec. 3 and took a phone-call with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China telling President-Elect Trump to be a good boy and tow the line .... oh yeah .... talk about putting even more gas on the fire. The Chinese are doing exactly what the main stream Republicans did during the primaries, the Democrats and the media did during the Presidential campaign, and what the Chinese are doing now .... underestimating Donald Trump and pursuing a course of action that will only blow-up in their faces. Of all the world leaders who seem to have some sense on how to "handle" Trump are the Russians .... at least for now .... Russian President Putin Praises President-Elect Trump. Says He Will Understand His New Responsibilities (December 4, 2016).

Previous Post: China Is Seething Over President-Elect Trump's Recent Tweets On China (December 5, 2016)

More News On China's Reaction To Recent Tweets By U.S. President-Elect Trump

'Rookie' Trump must fall into line: China media -- AFP
Chinese state media publishes scathing articles saying 'diplomatic rookie' Donald Trump 'won't make America great again' if he doesn't fall into line with Beijing -- Daily Mail
Trump 'tantrums' signal trouble for China-US relations – state media -- The Guardian
Chinese media mock Trump for 'running the country with Twitter' -- The Hill
‘Trump overestimates US power’: China fires back in harsh editorial -- RT

Japan's Prime Minister Will Not Issue An Apology At Pearl Harbor

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) carries a wreath as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on, in front of a cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Voice Of America: Japan: Abe Will Not Apologize at Pearl Harbor

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not apologize for his country's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor when he visits the site on the U.S. island of Hawaii later this month, a representative said.

"The prime minister's visit is to show his commitment toward the future and to never repeat the tragedy of the world war, as well as to send a message of reconciliation between the U.S. and Japan," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack that precipitated the American entry into World War II. Six months ago, U.S. President Barack Obama became the country's first sitting leader to visit a memorial in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where in 1945 the United States detonated the world's first atomic bomb intending to end the war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Cannot say that I am surprised .... and until Japan officially and publicly recognizes and atones for what it did during the Second World War .... this will always be a scar that will not heal .... even if the Japanese like to proclaim that they want to look at the future .... not the past.

More News On Japan's Prime Minister Decision To Not Issue An Apology On His Visit To Pearl Harbor

Japan PM's Pearl Harbor visit won't be for apology: spokesman -- Reuters
Japan PM Abe won't apologise at Pearl Harbor: government -- AFP
Japanese PM will visit Pearl Harbor to pay respects, not to apologize -- CBC/AP
No apologies: Abe visits Pearl Harbor to show strength of U.S.-Japan ties, not regret -- Globe and Mail
Suga: Abe’s Pearl Harbor visit not for apology -- Japan News/JiJi Press
Abe’s Pearl Harbor visit for remembrance, not apology: Suga -- Japan News/Kyodo
Pearl Harbor commemoration won't include apology from Japan -- DW

Editor's Note

I mentioned this yesterday, but for the next few weeks blogging will sometimes be absent for about 10 to 12 hours (like today). But this is temporary .... I am right now shedding away a number of my business responsibilities so that I have more time to read, write, consult, and to blog. My deadline is this Christmas Eve .... and by the looks of it I will be successful in achieving this goal. But until then .... sorry for those who need their regular and (hourly WNU) fix .... but blogging will on some days be sporadic.

Did The Soviet Union Have A Chance To Win The Cold War?

For one of the last times, the Soviet flag flies over the Kremlin at Red Square in Moscow, on Saturday night, December 21, 1991. The flag was replaced by the Russian flag on New Year's. (AP Photo/Gene Berman)

Robert Farley, National Interest: Did Russia Ever Have a Shot at Winning the Cold War?

Could the Soviets have won the Cold War? In retrospect, Soviet defeat seems overdetermined. The USSR suffered from a backwards economy, an unappealing political system, and unfortunate geography. But even into the 1980s, many Cold Warriors in the West worried that Red Victory was imminent.

We can think of Red Victory in two ways; first, if the fundamental rules of the competition between the United States and the USSR had operated differently, and second if Moscow and Washington had made different strategic decisions along the way.

Changing the Rules

The idea of socio-political “rules” that dictate how the world works runs counter to a lot of work in the social sciences. Still, certain social and political experiments initiated at the start of the Cold War ran aground on the shoals of social and human capacity. If we imagine the loosening of some of these “rules” then the Soviet and American experiments might have performed differently.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  I never believed that the Soviet Union had a chance to win the Cold War .... nor did anyone else that I knew at the time in the Soviet Union. If there was a conventional war .... no invading army would succeed in conquering the Soviet Union .... that was universally believed in the Soviet Union (myself included). But the Cold War evolved into an economic and ideological conflict .... a conflict that President Reagan accelerated .... and one that I knew that the Soviet Union could not hope to win for the simple that at the time I was one of the few Soviet citizens who had the opportunity to really know what the West was all about .... its strengths and its resilience .... and not what the Soviet media was trying to portray. And when the lines of communication between the West and Russia opened up even further under Gorbachev .... when the people in the Soviet Union could finally compare their standard of living to those in the West .... I knew that the ideological battle would be lost. The only surprised that I had from the Cold war was at the end .... when I stood with my father in Red Square and we saw the Soviet flag brought down from the Kremlin, and the Russian flag put in its place. We both knew that the Soviet Union had to change ..... it is that we never thought it would happen so quickly.

This Russian Submarine Was Built To Sink U.S. Aircraft Carriers

Russian submarine Tomsk in Vilyuchinsk. Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Konovalov/Mil.ru

Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: This Russian Nuclear Submarine Has a Very Special Mission: Kill American Aircraft Carriers

Russia’s enormous Oscar-class nuclear attack submarines, known as the Project 949A, were designed during the Cold War with a specific mission in mind: to go hunting for American aircraft carriers, the pride of American naval power.

Because each U.S. flattop is protected by its own little fleet of escorting warships—many of them specialized in antisubmarine warfare—the Oscar’s primary game plane isn’t to creep up close for a torpedo attack.

Instead, it’s designed to lob enormous anti-shipping cruise missiles (ASCMs) from hundreds of miles away.

Cruise-missile submarines, designated SSGs and SSGNs by the U.S. Navy, were not a new concept. The earliest missile subs were adapted from more conventional submarines in the 1950s, and the Soviet Echo class, commissioned in 1961, were the first ones designed to employ cruise missiles as their primary armament.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is one big sub.

Russia Is Laughing At Recent British - NATO War Games In Estonia

Daily Mail: Russia MOCKS British war games, saying: ‘Polish-assembled T72s are a poor replacement for the real stuff’

* The exercise, involving Nato, took place on Salisbury Plain at the weekend
* It was intended to simulate President Putin’s forces invading Estonia
* Taking part were troops due to be deployed early next year in the Baltic
* But the Russian Embassy in London said it was 'bizarre and delusionary'

Russia has mocked a British war games exercise at the weekend in which Nato forces posed as invading 'Russian' tanks rumbling across the border into a Baltic state.

The exercise, on Salisbury Plain, involved an army of imaginary Russian tanks and troops advancing onto the territory of a Nato ally in an act of naked aggression by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Under the North Atlantic Treaty Britain, the US, France and Germany would be obliged to come to their defence, like the Allies were when Poland was invaded by Hitler's forces in 1939.

Read more ....

Update #1: 'Not the REAL stuff' Russia MOCKS British Army over 'poor' war drills on Salisbury Plain (Express)
Update #2: Russia mocks Britain’s tank drills preparing for Vladimir Putin invasion warning ‘it’s a poor replacement for the real stuff! (The SUN)

WNU Editor: OK .... these T-72s are not exactly front-line Russian tanks .... but the Russians should not underestimate these NATO war games .... they are being done to send a political message, not a military one.

There Are Only 5 Russian Language Speakers In The British Army


RT: British Army has just 5 Russian language speakers… despite Tory warnings of war

Despite frequent warnings by the government of an impending Russian threat, cuts to Britain’s defense budget have left its military with just five Russian interpreters, according to the latest figures.

The Labour Party’s defense spokesman has blasted the Tory government over the shortfall. However, some experts say the current practice of relying on private contractors is justified.

The Foreign Office has 163 employees possessing Russian language skills ranging from basic to advanced levels, while 637 people in the military can speak languages such as Arabic, Pashto, and Mandarin.

Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffiths said the shortfall is the result of years of Tory-led defense austerity and “repeated failure to give our Forces the resources that they need.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This number is down from 15 earlier this year .... Lost in translation: British military down to just 15 Russian speakers (RT). How many English translators in the Russian Army .... I would say thousands .... English has become the second language of choice for many Russians. But in the event of a major conflict this will not be a problem for the West. There are many Russian speakers in the West (this blogger included) .... and I know only too well that we will be conscripted to act as translators if we become needed.

Poll: Americans And Westerners Are Becoming 'More Comfortable' With The Policy Of Using Torture And Harsh Interrogation Techniques

Shane T. McCoy / Reuters

Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast: Red Cross Poll: Americans Warm to Torture and Indiscriminate Bombing

An International Red Cross poll shows more Americans and other Westerners than ever before are OK with harsh tactics, yet those under fire still hope the laws of war apply to them.

Bombarded by President-Elect Donald Trump’s election rhetoric promising to step up the campaign against the so-called Islamic State, Americans are more likely to accept torture and indiscriminate bombing of suspected terrorists than they were two decades ago, according to a poll by the International Committee of the Red Cross released Monday.

The majority of those surveyed across more than a dozen countries including the United States still think bombing of populated areas and torturing detainees is wrong, according to the WINS/Gallup International poll, released by the ICRC. But rising numbers of people, especially Americans and Britons, said they are willing to accept less humane practices if it means winning the fight faster.

Yet the survey also showed that people in places like Syria and Yemen believe the laws of war are needed, in an almost wistful expression of hope for a humanity that is absent in two conflicts that have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: These are the poll numbers now .... but all that it will take is one major terror attack .... 9/11 or worse .... and these poll numbers will overwhelmingly shift to "do what it takes" to bring to justice on those who committed such a crime. I recall too well after 9/11 how many of my American liberal friends shifted their altitudes on what will need to be done to get Osama Bin laden .... shocking even me with what they wanted to do .... and how these same American liberal friends shifted a few years later back to their default position in regards to torture and harsh interrogations.

Internal Pentagon Audit Reveals $125 Billion In 'Waste'

Washington Post: Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Only $125 billion ?!?!?!? I figured that the number would be higher.

More News On An Internal Pentagon Audit Revealing $125 Billion In 'Waste'

Pentagon buried study that found $125 billion in wasteful spending: Washington Post -- Reuters
Pentagon reportedly buried study exposing $125 billion in waste -- FOX News
The Pentagon reportedly buried a report showing it wasted $125 billion of taxpayer money -- Aol.com
Report: Pentagon buried audit that exposed $125 billion in bureaucratic waste -- The Week
Pentagon Finds $125B in Internal Waste, Kills Report -- Newser

Monday, December 5, 2016

China Is Seething Over President-Elect Trump's Recent Tweets On China

The People's Republic of China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly along Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in Washington during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit, January 18, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

James Palmer, Foreign Policy: China Really Isn’t Joking About Taiwan

Beneath Beijing’s seemingly mild criticism of Trump’s phone call are currents of raw, public nationalism the government can’t control.

Tere’s a reason Donald Trump’s impetuous conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has left foreign-policy experts tearing their hair out by the roots. The fussy diplomatic protocols Trump flouted, in this case, are not a mere formality. They are a finely honed coping strategy for Chinese emotions that are very raw and potentially explosive. Although the Chinese reaction has been surprisingly — perhaps hopefully — muted, there is no more sincerely sensitive issue in China, among politicians and the public, than Taiwan.

Taiwan, or the Republic of China, was founded by the fleeing Kuomintang (KMT or “Nationalist Party”), the modernizing but corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent rulers of China in the 1930s, after they lost the mainland to the Communist Party, the modernizing but corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent rulers of China from 1949 to the present. They fled to the conveniently defensible island on China’s southern margins, once famous as a haven for pirates and later a Japanese colony.

Read more ....

Update: Beijing grits teeth in face of Trump's tweets (The Guardian)

WNU Editor: The Chinese have always been nationalistic .... but what I have seen in just the past few years is unprecedented .... and in many ways it has been nurtured by the central government to divert people's attention away from the country's economic problems and the imbalance between those who are doing well .... and those who are not. In regards to Taiwan ..... many Chinese regard Taiwan as part of China .... as well as much of the South China Sea an the East China Sea. And in regards to what the people in Taiwan may feel .... or what do the countries that border the South China Sea and the East China Sea may claim .... China's reaction has always been the same .... derision, threats, and simply using their military to enforce their claims. In regards to the U.S. .... their behaviour has always been predictable. They always pull something off in the first six months after a new U.S. President has been sworn in .... to gauge how he reacts, and to what limits can China push him on issues that are central to China. But the Achilles Heel of China has always been its economy, and the expectations of its population that they will benefit from continued Chinese economic expansion. This is the social contract that the Central Communist party in Beijing has with its people .... and as long as the economy continues to grow .... much of the population will be content with this arrangement. But the problem is that much of this growth has been fuelled by the export of Chinese goods around the world with a devalued currency, while restricting imports via through tariffs and other ridiculous bureaucratic measures. President-elect Trump has made it very clear to the Chinese that "business as usual" is not going to be his policy .... and this in turn has put China in a bind. The Chinese Central government is dependent on running huge trade deficits with the U.S. to fuel its growth .... and no one else can even come close to replacing the U.S. should the China choose to diversify their export markets. And that is the "rub" of it all. Upset the White House .... then expect tariffs and other trade restrictions from the U.S. .... and while it may hurt certain businesses and make the cost of Chinese products more expensive for Americans .... people will adjust their spending habits and other countries and companies will step in. But for the Chinese .... they would have lost their number one export market .... and for an economy that is already experiencing severe debt and financial mismanagement problems .... this will hurt them hard. My prediction still holds .... they will bite their tongue and take it .... and they are not going to test President-elect Trump when he is in the White House .... they now have a very good idea on who and what he is.

Libyan Pro-Government Forces Have Capture The Islamic State Stronghold Of Sirte

Al Jazeera: Libyan forces claim control of ISIL stronghold of Sirte

Hundreds of loyalist troops and unknown number of ISIL fighters killed as pro-government forces seize coastal city.

Forces aligned to Libya's UN-backed national unity government have gained full control of Sirte after months of fighting, in a major blow to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the country.

"Our forces have total control of Sirte," Reda Issa, a spokesman for pro-government forces, told AFP news agency on Monday. "Our forces saw Daesh totally collapse," he said referring to the Arabic name of ISIL.

The battle for the coastal city, which was the last significant territory held by ISIL, also known as ISIS, in Libya, cost the lives of hundreds of loyalist troops as well as an unknown number of ISIL fighters, Issa said.

Read more ....

More News On Libyan Pro-Government Forces Capturing The Islamic State Stronghold Of Sirte

Libyan Forces Claim Full Control of Former Islamic State Stronghold Sirte -- WSJ
IS loses Libya bastion in major blow to jihadists -- AFP
Libyan pro-government forces say they have seized IS-held Sirte -- DW
Isis loses control of Libyan city of Sirte -- The Guardian
Libyan forces close to securing last Islamic State holdouts in Sirte: officials -- Reuters
Libyan forces capture 32 IS militants as they comb through last holdout in Sirte -- Libyan Express

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2016

Residents wave as the caravan carrying the ashes of Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro arrives in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / REUTERS

Ian Bremmer, Time: After Castro—5 Nations Where Dictators Still Rule

Fidel is dead, and now, buried. Some will call him the last of the Cold Warriors. But there are still plenty of regimes that have been in power for decades. Are they frozen in time, or is change bubbling beneath the surface? In each case, the answer may depend on how long political power can be kept within the family. A look at five of the longest-ruling regimes in the world, and where they go from here.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 5, 2016

How ISIS Returned to Syria -- Roy Gutman, Daily Beast

Matteo Renzi resigns after Italian referendum rout -- Giulia Paravicini and Jacopo Barigazzi, Politico

Italy’s referendum is Europe’s next test in its fight for survival -- John Lloyd, Reuters

Europe's Populists Aren't Going Away -- Bloomberg editorial

Why Russia Is Using the Internet to Undermine Western Democracy -- Maria Farrell, Slate

European attitudes towards Brexit are hardening -- Paul Gillespie, Irish Times

In Europe, the center is not holding -- Michael Curtis, The Commentator

Why Raul Castro Is Happy Fidel Is Gone -- Brian Latell, Politico

Donald Trump's Middle East Promises: Can He Keep Them? -- Aaron David Miller & Richard Sokolsky, RCW

Why the fuss? Trump, the US, Taiwan and China -- a guide -- AFP

So, Why Can't You Call Taiwan? -- David Graham, The Atlantic

Worry not: the US-Japan alliance is safe in Trump’s hands -- Harry J. Kazianis, Asia Times

Trump Showing Signs of Changing U.S. Security Relationships in Asia -- John Grady, USNI News

China pressures Singapore with seizure of military hardware -- Euan Graham, Nikkei Asian Review

OPEC Production Cuts and the Illusive Power of Dealmaking -- Peter Kaznacheev, Moscow Times

Opec doesn’t hold all the cards, even after its oil price agreement -- Phillip Inman, The Guardian/Observer

World News Briefs -- December 5, 2016

Smoke rises after air strikes on rebel-controlled besieged eastern Aleppo, Syria December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Reuters: Russia says to start talks with U.S. on Aleppo rebel withdrawal

The Russian government said on Monday it would start talks with Washington on a rebel withdrawal from Aleppo this week as Russian-backed Syrian forces fought to seize more territory from rebels who are struggling to avoid a major defeat.

The latest army attack, which saw fierce clashes around the Old City, aims to cut off another area of rebel control in eastern Aleppo and tighten the noose on opposition-held districts where tens of thousands of people are trapped.

Advances in recent weeks have brought Damascus, backed militarily by Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, closer to recapturing Syria's second largest city before the nearly six-year war and a prize long sought by President Bashar al-Assad.

The rebels are now reduced to an area just kilometers across.

Read more ....


Status of main battle fronts in Iraq and Syria.

Army advances in Aleppo as Russia blocks UN truce plan.

Air strikes kill 73 in rebel-held Idlib province: war monitor.

Russia, China veto UNSC resolution on Aleppo ceasefire.

2 Russian paramedics killed, 1 gravely injured in militant attack on hospital in Aleppo – MoD. Second Russian female doctor dies of wounds after Aleppo shelling — ministry.

Aleppo tweeting girl Bana Alabed 'is safe'.

West Mosul shelled as Iraq steps up fight against Islamic State.

ISIS vows ‘victory’ in Iraq and Syria: Islamic State fighters urged ‘not to flee’ by new spokesperson.

Mosul residents 'won't leave' despite dire conditions.

Qaeda militants blow up Yemen gas export pipeline: local officials.

Erdogan calls for protection of Turkish Lira during crisis.

Netanyahu to discuss 'bad' Iran deal with Trump, Kerry stresses settlements. Kerry takes harsh tone on Israel, suggests opening for action at UN.

Kerry says Iran nuclear deal has made world safer, rejecting Trump criticism.


U.S. seeks to reassure Beijing after Trump call with Taiwan leader.

Afghan President urges Pakistan to spend aid money on fighting terrorism.

Rohingya in Rakhine state suffer government retaliation.

Fiji's police and military using torture with 'near impunity', Amnesty says.

New Zealand prime minister John Key resigns.

A new president for Uzbekistan.

Philippine vice president quits Cabinet in tiff with Duterte.

Pakistan hotel fire: Eleven killed at Karachi's Regent Plaza.

Pearl Harbour: Shinzo Abe to become first Japanese prime minister to visit site of 1941 attack.


Isis loses control of Libyan city of Sirte. Libyan pro-government forces say they have seized IS-held Sirte.

Several dead in DR Congo clashes.

U.S. worries about spiraling violence in South Sudan: State Department.

Egypt advisory council says Red Sea islands should remain Egyptian.

UN inquiry into CAR abuse claims identifies 41 troops as suspects.

Fake US embassy in Ghana shut down after 10 years issuing visas.

Nairobi striking doctors tear-gassed as patients 'walk out'.


Italy PM Matteo Renzi delays resignation until budget is passed. Renzi due to formally submit resignation as Italy ponders what next. Italian president asks PM Matteo Renzi to delay resignation until after budget.

Italy faces political, economic uncertainty after referendum.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announces presidential bid. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls resigns; announces bid for presidential election. French PM Valls launches presidential bid, quits government.

Austrians roundly reject far right in presidential election.

Trial of 'Butcher of Bosnia' Ratko Mladic enters final stage.

Russia's arms sales rising while America's drop.

Ukraine court whacks Russia's Gazprom with mega lawsuit.

Brexit: UK Government begins legal fight against ruling that could derail Theresa May's EU exit strategy.

Greece central bank chief wants more debt relief.

Afghan's murder-rape arrest reignites Germany refugee debate.


Suspense builds over Trump secretary of state search.

Al Gore meets Donald Trump and Ivanka for climate talks. Trump nominates Carson to lead U.S. housing, urban policy.

Peru's ex-leader Fujimori leaves prison for brain scan.

UN ‘concerned’ about increase in murders of Colombia community leaders.

Venezuela is printing a 20,000 bolivar note.

Standing Rock Protest: Trump to review Dakota pipeline ruling.

Death toll climbs to 36 in Oakland warehouse fire.

Snowden does not expect pardon from Obama.

Cemetery bearing Fidel Castro's ashes opens to public.


Islamic State identifies Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer as new spokesman.

Islamic State urges supporters to stage new wave of attacks.

White House: 9/11 law permits US attacks on extremists.

GOP senator calls on Obama to halt Guantanamo detainee transfers.


Dow Industrials close at fresh record.

Oil retreats on doubts OPEC cuts can ease glut.

Amazon working on several grocery-store formats, could open more than 2,000 locations.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 5, 2016


CNN: Joint Chiefs prep military strategy plans for Trump and top commanders

(CNN)The Joint Chiefs of Staff are finalizing a classified military strategy they plan to present to President-elect Donald Trump detailing the military challenges to the US, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Saturday.

The classified report has been underway for months, and is spearheaded by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Key commanders such as General Joseph Votel, head of Central Command and others have also been involved. The report was not created specifically ffor Trump, but for whomever the next president would be.

The five threats -- posed by Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and violent extremism -- are detailed in annexes to the classified report. There are no formal military responses and options detailed. The idea is that this will lay the groundwork for key decisions on spending, size of the military and readiness that Trump will have to make. The report was being prepared regardless of whom won the election.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 5, 2016

Joint Chiefs Preparing New ISIS Strategy for Trump: Chairman -- Military.com

Joint Chiefs preparing new plan to defeat Islamic State -- Washington Examiner

Carter: US, Partners Need to Stay in Iraq after IS Defeat -- AP/Military.com

Russian Su-33 Skids Off Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier, Pilot Unharmed -- Sputnik

Sukhoi-33 jet crashes while landing on Admiral Kuznetsov carrier -- TASS

China Tests Nearly a Dozen Missiles Since Trump’s Surprise Victory -- Sputnik

China Preparing For War? Chinese President Xi Jinping Wants World's Largest Military To Modernize -- IBTimes

Pakistan Is About to Buy a Half-Million New Rifles -- War Is Boring

War chest: UK arms giants return to profit after 2yr fall in sales -- RT

Weapons business booming despite decline in sales: SIPRI report -- DW

Denmark: Onboard with NATO Missile Defense? -- RCD

Polish Defence Ministry Unveils $14.5B Modernization Program -- Defense News

Carter looks to shore-up US-Japan military alliance -- CNN

US Air Force Looking Into Increase of Suicides at Japanese Base -- Sputnik

US Assault Ships in Mediterranean Might Mean Soon Ground Operation -- Sputnik

U.S. Navy, shipbuilders ready for Trump's expansion plan -- Reuters

Work: Munitions, Strategic Capabilities Office Boosted in FY18 Budget Plan -- Defense News

Marines Corps Test Fires New Precision-Guided 120mm Mortar Round -- Scout Warrior

1st-Ever Electronic Warfare Strategy Headed For SecDef’s Desk -- Breaking Defense

US Air Force Faces Shortage of Fighter Jet Mechanics -- VOA

Trump Defense Plan Still a Guessing Game -- Sandra I. Erwin, National Defense

Trump's Promises on Defense Spending Draw Praise but Questions Linger -- L.A. Times

Congress blocks funds for key military intel program, calls for Pentagon-wide investigation -- Washington Times

U.S. Military Capabilities Must Be Changed for Future, Dunford Says -- US Department of Defense

Mattis signals a new, better way forward for the military -- The Hill

Don't ‘Ram Through’ Mattis Confirmation, HASC’s Top Democrat Warns GOP -- Defense News

Dem lawmaker won't support waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary -- The Hill

Here's why officers can't easily become defense secretaries -- Lolita C. Baldor, AP

Petraeus on His Mishandling of Classified Information: 'I Made a Serious Mistake' -- ABC News

Confronting the LCS Myths -- Steven Wills, RCD

Secretary Carter Preparing to Pass the Baton to Successor -- National Defense

An Open Letter to the CIA Director Nominee -- Douglas Wise, Cipher Brief

Why Were We Caught Napping at Pearl Harbor? -- James A Warren, Daily Beast

Is The U.S. Military The Best In The World?

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., Dec. 3, 2016. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Col. Gary Anderson, USMC (Ret.)/Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy: Here’s why Ash Carter should stop saying we have the best military in the world

Ash Carter, the current secretary of defense, has been beginning his recent speeches with the statement that today’s American military is the best the world has ever seen.

That kind of chest beating breeds complacency. History is replete with civilian and military leaders who have made similar claims. The French king said something very similar before the debacle at Agincourt during the Hundred Years War. Numerous French ministers of war, including the infamous Andre Maginot, made similar claims in the 1920s and 30s prior to the humiliating French defeat at the hands of the Germans in 1940. The reality is that Carter currently has no idea how good or bad the American military really is. President-elect Donald Trump and James Mattis, his pick for secretary of defense, have a narrow window to judge how much, if anything, needs to be done at the Pentagon. If they wait too long, any problems will be theirs. Carter has done a good job of looking to the future, and he should be applauded for that. His “Third Offset” strategy is a good blueprint for 2025. But, what about today?

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WNU Editor: A sober warning.