CO2 Catastrophe for Egypt: Rising Seas, Salinization to Displace 5 mn by 2025

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/catastrophe-salinization-displace.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176585

Cairo (Middle East Monitor) – The climate change on Egypt’s northern coast is expected to lead to the migration of at least five million people from the Nile Delta if appropriate measures are not taken.

Climate changes on Egypt’s northern coast could force five million people to leave the country’s Nile Delta area, Egypt’s irrigation minister said yesterday.

In light of population estimates for 2025, annual water share per individual will shrink to 500 milliliters from today’s 600 milliliters’ share given the deteriorating quality of surface groundwater, Minister Mohamed Abdul Ati told a high-level Water for Sustainable Development conference, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Currently, there is an annual gap between water needs and available water. The gap is overcome by reusing wastewater and by relying on surface groundwater in the country’s Delta and Wadi areas.

The Egyptian minister added that his country is a prototype model of the developing countries facing imminent climate changes on top of other major economic, social and environmental threats, Anadolu reported.

He noted that Egypt is threatened by rising sea level, saltwater intrusion into aquifers, in addition to the areas prone to drowning due to their low geographical levels such as the Nile Delta.

Millions of people in the Nile Delta are at risk of displacement and of losing their investments which are worth billions of dollars. The climate change on Egypt’s northern coast is expected to lead to the migration of at least five million people from the Nile Delta if appropriate measures are not taken.

Climate change studies predict a reduction in the productivity of two main crops in Egypt, wheat and maize, by 15 and 19 per cent respectively by 2050. Moreover, about 15 per cent of the most arable land in the Nile Delta is expected to be salty, Abdul Ati said.

Given the country’s complex situation, Egypt cannot afford to lose its historical rights of the Nile water’s share, the minister said, adding that it is impossible to accept the Egyptian people’s dying of thirst and famine.

The Egyptian minister pointed out that cooperation with the Nile basin countries must be based on mutual benefit and not harming others.

Cairo fears that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam could negatively affect the flow of its annual share of Nile water, Egypt’s main water source.

Ethiopia says that the dam will have many benefits, especially in the production of electricity, and will not hurt the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.

This work by Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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Appendix:

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<p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/catastrophe-salinization-displace.html">https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/catastrophe-salinization-displace.html</a></p><p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="https://www.juancole.com/?p=176585">https://www.juancole.com/?p=176585</a></p><p>Cairo (Middle East Monitor) &#8211; The climate change on Egypt&#8217;s northern coast is expected to lead to the migration of at least five million people from the Nile Delta if appropriate measures are not taken.</p> <p>Climate changes on Egypt’s northern coast could force five million people to leave the country’s Nile Delta area, Egypt’s irrigation minister said yesterday.</p> <p>In light of population estimates for 2025, annual water share per individual will shrink to 500 milliliters from today’s 600 milliliters’ share given the deteriorating quality of surface groundwater, Minister Mohamed Abdul Ati told a high-level Water for Sustainable Development conference, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.</p> <p>Currently, there is an annual gap between water needs and available water. The gap is overcome by reusing wastewater and by relying on surface groundwater in the country’s Delta and Wadi areas.</p> <p>The Egyptian minister added that his country is a prototype model of the developing countries facing imminent climate changes on top of other major economic, social and environmental threats, Anadolu reported.</p> <p>He noted that Egypt is threatened by rising sea level, saltwater intrusion into aquifers, in addition to the areas prone to drowning due to their low geographical levels such as the Nile Delta.</p> <p>Millions of people in the Nile Delta are at risk of displacement and of losing their investments which are worth billions of dollars. The climate change on Egypt’s northern coast is expected to lead to the migration of at least five million people from the Nile Delta if appropriate measures are not taken.</p> <p>Climate change studies predict a reduction in the productivity of two main crops in Egypt, wheat and maize, by 15 and 19 per cent respectively by 2050. Moreover, about 15 per cent of the most arable land in the Nile Delta is expected to be salty, Abdul Ati said.</p> <p>Given the country’s complex situation, Egypt cannot afford to lose its historical rights of the Nile water’s share, the minister said, adding that it is impossible to accept the Egyptian people’s dying of thirst and famine.</p> <p>The Egyptian minister pointed out that cooperation with the Nile basin countries must be based on mutual benefit and not harming others.</p> <p>Cairo fears that the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam could negatively affect the flow of its annual share of Nile water, Egypt’s main water source.</p> <p>Ethiopia says that the dam will have many benefits, especially in the production of electricity, and will not hurt the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.</p> <p>This work by Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License</p> <p>&#8212;-</p> <p>Appendix:</p> <p><strong: Excerpt</strong></p> <p>S Jeffress Williams and Nabil Ismail, &#8220;<a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&#038;rct=j&#038;q=&#038;esrc=s&#038;source=web&#038;cd=6&#038;ved=0ahUKEwj_ss_tzubbAhWj7YMKHX34AwYQFghLMAU&#038;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mdpi.com%2F2077-1312%2F3%2F3%2F591%2Fpdf&#038;usg=AOvVaw2WExBu1RMnR09KPQilgfcQ "> Climate Change, Coastal Vulnerability and the Need for Adaptation Alternatives: Planning and Design Examples from Egypt and the USA</a> </p> <p>,&#8221; J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2015, 3, 591-606; doi:10.3390/jmse3030591 </p> <p>Nile Delta Coast and 2010 Storm Effects </p> <p>The coastal flooding in Alexandria on 12 December 2010 is a striking example of the more progressive severity of events since 2003. Egypt was hit by strong winds, exacerbated by heavy precipitation, up to 60 km/h with 10 h duration. These weather conditions resulted in waves of ~7 m height with a surge of 1.2 m, which forced the closure of Alexandria harbor. The typical significant wave height is 1–1.5 m. Maximum wave height during storm conditions averages 4.5 m. Typical values of storm surge on the delta coast are 40–50 cm. The storm had profound destructive effects on Alexandria, Abu Qir Bay as well as on shorelines between the two river Nile promontories, Rosetta and Damietta. </p> <p>A comprehensive program has been underway since 1970 to gather data related to coastal erosion along the Nile Delta shore. Review of major coastal problems and general description of the recommended protective measures to address these problems are in the coastal Master Plan for Phase I. . .</p> <p><img src="https://www.juancole.com/images/2018/06/Delta-Today.png" alt="" width="570" height="349" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-176586" srcset="/images/2018/06/Delta-Today.png 570w, /images/2018/06/Delta-Today-376x230.png 376w" sizes="(max-width: 570px) 100vw, 570px" /><br /> <i>Egyptian Delta Today</i></p> <p><img src="https://www.juancole.com/images/2018/06/Delta-2100.png" alt="" width="570" height="376" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-176587" srcset="/images/2018/06/Delta-2100.png 570w, /images/2018/06/Delta-2100-349x230.png 349w" sizes="(max-width: 570px) 100vw, 570px" /></p> <p><i>Egyptian Delta after 3 feet of sea level rise (expected by 2100) </i></p> <p>(- Creative Commons License) </p> <p></strong:></p>

#Bringbackourgirls: How Trump made the US into Boko Haram

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/bringbackourgirls-trump-haram.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176589

Trump campaigned in 2016 on being tougher against radical Muslim movements such as ISIL, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. He even went so far as to blame all of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims for these tiny groups (which have largely been defeated by other Muslims).

But one of the horrible practices of these radical groups was stealing children from their parents– especially female children, and making them disappear into social death.

Social death is a conception put forward by Orlando Patterson to help define slavery. Slaves are cut off from their families on a permanent basis.

The motive was the same. ISIL and Boko Haram took girls hostage from some villages as a warning to other villages not to oppose them or the same thing would happen to them. John Kelly, Jeff Sessions and Trump made clear that they were kidnapping children as a warning to Honduran and other villages not to defy them.

The mass kidnapping of girls in northern Nigeria received little attention among the US public, and Michelle Obama attempted to raise public awareness with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls . She was criticized by the American Right wing for resorting to an internet meme when her husband fully had the ability to do something practical about the problem (though of course the actual Republican Party would never have allowed a large scale conventional Obama intervention in Northern Nigeria).

While Trump’s family separation policy was not necessarily designed to be permanent, it was designed to last for potentially a long time. How long would it take to find the parents who had entered the US without documentation guilty? To have them serve time and then be deported? How long would the children be in concentration camps or on military bases? It is a sort of short term slavery to which the children would be subjected.

The children are being drugged and at danger of abuse. Of course Trump is not doing exactly what ISIL or Boko Haram did. But that he is doing things that make at least something of a comparison compelling is shameful enough.

Now it transpires that the Department of Homeland Security (which is lying to us assiduously) cannot even account for the whereabouts of the children taken, who have disappeared into a huge bureaucratic gulag. One Federal judge expressed astonishment, pointing out that arrestees are given a receipt for their personal property when sent to jail but that the parents here don’t appear to have been given a way of rediscovering their children. The militarization of the situation only makes it seem more like an Islamic State operation.

Now El Salvador is demanding that Trump bring back its child.

Trump keeps trying to take credit for the Obama strategy of defeating ISIL, which was actually carried out by Syrian Kurds and by Iraqi Shiites and the Iraqi National Army, i.e. by Muslims.

The irony is that he himself exemplifies the hatred of outsiders and the disregard for the rights of innocent women and children that made such groups as ISIL and Boko Haram such an anathema in the Muslim world. Both have been implementers of social death on a large scale.

—-

Bonus video:

CNN: New Time cover shows Trump towering over a sobbing toddler

How Trump’s Executive Order Reversing Family Separation just Makes Things Worse

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/executive-reversing-separation.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176580

The executive order includes no provision to reunite the 2,300 separated families and illegally proposes to detain children indefinitely.

Caracas (TeleSur) – United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday after an international outcry over his immigrant family separation policy at the southern border. The event was reported as Trump ending family separations, but that is far from true.

During his press statements, Trump confessed he “didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” but insisted “we are keeping a very powerful border, and it continues to be zero tolerance… We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

Trump’s solution is to imprison parents and children together. However, there is a legal problem with this. The 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, prohibits immigration authorities from keeping children in detention for over 20 days.

Because of this settlement, former President Barack Obama had to order the release of children who had been detained for crossing the border illegally with their parents. To not separate the families, his administration released both children and parents trusting they would appear at the court hearing on their immigration cases.

Trump’s solution to the problem created by his “zero-tolerance policy,” which orders the detention of everyone crossing the border illegally is creating a confrontation between the executive and judicial branch by directing the Justice Department to seek court approval to keep children detained for more than 20 days.

Again, curtailing the consequences of a decision made by the executive falls on other branches of government. Now, federal Judge Dolly Gee, who oversees the Flores settlement has 20 days to reverse the ruling and allow immigration officers to detain children with their parents for as long as necessary.

But detaining children indefinitely doesn’t seem like a real solution.

Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies, said “it is outrageous that the president is pushing for the criminal detention of innocent children as a solution to his own evil act… The best solution would be releasing families to sponsors or placing them in community-based alternatives to detention programs, which are less expensive and much more humane.”

The Trump administration has dismissed this possibility claiming 80 percent of the people crossing the border illegally would stop appearing at their court hearings and remain in the country.

Despite their claims, the Center for Immigration Studies has found that over the past 20 years 63 percent of immigrants did show up for their immigration hearings.

If the Flores ruling is not reversed, immigration officers will have to separate the children from their families again.

Furthermore, the president’s order does nothing to secure reunification of the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their families.

According to John Sandweg, former director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (commonly known as ICE) some parents have already been deported while their children continue under U.S. custody.

——–

Featured Photo: GETTY/AFP / JOE RAEDLE. Children and workers are seen June 19, 2018 at a tent encampment recently built for migrant children near the border in Tornillo, Texas.

Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

At US Border, Children Still ‘crying and screaming’ for Mothers

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/children-screaming-mothers.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176575

El Paso (United States) (AFP) – Children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border “cry and scream” for their mothers, reaching out for them through the chain-link pens where they are being held, a pediatrician who has visited several Texas processing centers said in an interview.

Marsha Griffin, who has monitored conditions on the Texas border with Mexico for a decade, described her horror at what she found.

Approaching one facility, she said she heard what sounded like children playing or laughing.

“But when they opened the door, we saw around 20 to 30 10-year-old boys in one of these chain-link enclosures, and they were crying and screaming and asking for their mothers,” she told AFP.

Their mothers, held in another enclosure just 15 meters (yards) away, were close but not close enough to console their children.

“Some of the mothers could see their children but couldn’t get near to them, some of them couldn’t see them. And the children were reaching their hands through the chain-link fences, crying and trying to reach out to their mothers,” Griffin said.

“It was horrifying,” she said.

– Desert camp –

Family separation is not new, but in the past it has been left to the discretion of border patrol agents.

Then President Donald Trump’s administration embarked on a new “zero tolerance” policy in April, and since then the numbers of separations have soared.


GETTY/AFP / JOE RAEDLE. Children and workers are seen June 19, 2018 at a tent encampment recently built for migrant children near the border in Tornillo, Texas.

Since April 19, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, according to official figures.

Immigrants who enter the United States illegally across the Mexico border, as well as those seeking asylum, are sent to a border patrol “processing center.”

There, they are separated by age and gender — with young siblings split up — and put in cage-like enclosures for up to 72 hours, until their case is resolved or the children are sent to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

But as these centers begin to overflow with new arrivals of children separated from their parents, new government solutions are emerging.

Most recently, authorities have built a camp for “unaccompanied” children in the austere Chihuahua desert near Tornillo, Texas. According to immigration lawyers, separated children are routinely reclassified as unaccompanied minors.

In this new camp, enclosed by numerous fences, there are at least 18 white tents. For now, it houses 16- and 17-year-old boys, with its 360 beds expected to reach 4,000. A delegation of US mayors will visit the facility on Thursday.

– Toxic stress –

The outcry has been so great that Trump, until now an unyielding defender of the anti-immigrant crackdown, signed an executive order to put a stop to the practice.

The US House of Representatives also is planning to vote Thursday on a bill that would keep families together while they are being processed by the courts.

Meanwhile, doctors warn that separation can cause “toxic stress” in detained children, among them minors who travelled alone, and others separated from their parents.

Griffin confirmed to AFP that even toddlers and babies are being held.

“Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians,” said the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Colleen Kraft.

The AAP said in a statement that “toxic stress, which is caused by prolonged exposure to heightened stress, has detrimental short- and long-term health effects … that can contribute to chronic conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and heart disease.”

“These children go through a process of toxic stress and trauma, because they don’t know what’s going to happen to them and they are not with their primary caregiver,” Griffin said.


AFP / Cecilia SANCHEZ. Origin of US asylum seekers.

As a result, pediatricians are calling for these centers to employ specialists trained in childcare, to comfort children and explain what is happening — but it’s a struggle to get the message across.

“When we tell that to the agents, they get upset,” Griffin explained. “They say this is not their work, they are law enforcement, they don’t have time for this.”

As pediatricians, “we know the severe damage this is causing right this minute on hundreds and hundreds of children,” she added.

“I think we are better than that. As a country, certainly we hold all children are valuable.”

Featured Photo: US Customs and Border Protection/AFP/File / Handout. Detained immigrants are separated by chain-linked fencing according to age and gender — with young siblings split up — for up to 72 hours.

Police Killings of African-Americans exact Mental Health Toll: The Lancet

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/killings-african-americans.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176572

Paris (AFP) – The disproportionately high rate at which unarmed black people die at the hands of police in the United States has a corrosive impact on the mental health of black Americans, researchers reported Friday.

The frequency of these killings has been cited as symptomatic of deeply rooted racism, and is in any case perceived as such by most black Americans, they reported in The Lancet, a medical journal.

Audio or video evidence of such deaths over the last few years has given rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, whether in the form of street protests or National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem before games.

“We found that when police kill unarmed black Americans, there is mental health fallout that reverberates throughout the black American community,” said senior author Alexander Tsai, an associate professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“This finding is significant because it shows that the effects of these killings go beyond immediate friends and family,” he told AFP.

Tallies kept by news organisations and researchers vary, but police have killed approximately 300 black Americans — about a quarter of them unarmed — each year since 2014.

Over this period, blacks were roughly three times more likely than whites to be killed by police, and nearly five times more likely to be killed by police while unarmed, the researchers said.

As of July 2017, 61 percent of the US population self-identified as “white,” and 13 percent as “black”, according to the US Census.

Statistics show that black Americans have proportionally more encounters with law enforcement, which in itself increases the opportunity for violent outcomes.

A state investigation, for example, into policing practices in Ferguson, Missouri after the 2014 shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old African American, Michael Brown, revealed that blacks were three-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be pulled over by police while driving.

– ‘Structural racism’ –

Black American stand-up comics have long highlighted the perils of “DWB”, or “driving while black.”

To probe the mental health effect of police killings of blacks on the larger black American population, Tsai and colleagues compared two sets of data.

One was a national, 2013-2015 telephone survey of more than 100,000 black American adults that asked how many out of the previous 30 days were marked by stress, depression and emotional problems.

The other was a state-by-state tally of police killings from the Mapping Police Violence database.

Using statistical analysis, the researchers found a strong link between more days of poor mental health and deaths at the hands of law enforcement occurring in the 90 days prior to the interview.

This “spillover” effect was strongest 30-60 days after police killings in or near the state in which respondents lived.

Extended to the US black adult population, the findings suggest that police killings of unarmed black Americans could account for up to 65 million excess days of stress or depression per year, on a par with the mental health burden associated with diabetes, the study found.

“Regardless of what is driving the disparate killings of black Americans, these killings have corrosive effects on population mental health among black Americans,” said Tsai.

“Police killings of black Americans — in contrast to police killings of white Americans — have a long, painful history and sociological meaning attached to them.”

“They undermine mental health among black Americans because they are a manifestation of structural racism,” he added.

Featured Image: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Justin Merriman. Police have killed approximately 300 black Americans — about a quarter of them unarmed — each year since 2014.

Not only Is Trump’s Refugee Policy Morally Wrong, it is Illegal in US and Int’l Law

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/refugee-morally-illegal.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176566

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Family Separation Policy that Trump has “temporarily” set aside (in favor of indefinite detention of entire families) has in some ways obscured what is really going on in Trump’s refugee policy overall. In essence, the Trump administration is attempting gradually to abolish the acceptance by the US of asylees, in stark contravention to US treaty obligations (and hence to domestic US law).

From Oct. 15 to present, 2017-2018, only 15,383 refugees were legally admitted to the US. By the way, in previous years up to 40% of those given asylum were Muslims, but almost none of those recently admitted are. Refugee rights organizations reckon that the US will accept only 25,000 refugees this year, down from 110,000 in Obama’s last year. Trump had reduced the ceiling for refugees to 50,000, but has put in place obstacles to the process that result in only half that number coming in. These measures are being taken at a time when the world refugee crisis is more acute, with 68 million displaced, than at any time since World War II.

The United States never signed the 1951 Convention on the Treatment of Refugees, which concerned the refugees created through WWII, but it did sign the 1967 Protocol to that treaty, which commits it to abide by articles 2-34 of the Convention and to apply its provisions to those made refugees after WWII. The Protocol binds Trump to act in concert with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, who has just denounced . . . Trump.

When the US signs an international treaty, typically it automatically becomes part of US law. Unfortunately, there are two kinds of treaty language, self-activating and passages requiring further US domestic legislation. The 1967 Protocol, although signed, is not “self-activating.” When it was signed, however, the US government asserted that no real change in US law would be required, since refugee law as it then existed would not be violated if the US executive simply abided by the terms of the Protocol.

Jeff Sessions is not abiding by the terms of the Protocol? Jeff Sessions is not abiding by the terms of the Protocol. Not being a lawyer or anything, it seems to me that, however, the US government bound itself to the terms of the Protocol not only by, like, ratifying it, but also by indicating a legislative intent in the signing to implement it in the Executive.

Although Sessions keeps maintaining in public that refugees will have their applications for asylum processed if they present them at a regular border crossing, the evidence is that such applications are being summarily dismissed by immigration officials, who are not permitting asylum-seekers access to counsel or judges (this procedure is illegal). As for his policy of arresting undocumented immigrants into the United States for the misdemeanor of crossing the border even where they are asylum-seekers from political persecution, this is a violation of international and of US domestic law.

Relief Web points out,

    “It is cruel and unnecessary to prosecute asylum seekers for crossing borders without authorization. Moreover, under Article 31 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the United States is bound by its accession to the 1967 Refugee Protocol, parties ‘shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened…enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.’”

I think it can be argued that the US is now also in contravention of Article 33:

Article 33
PROHIBITION OF EXPULSION OK RETURN (“REFOULEMENT”)</p>

1. No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Sessions has removed abuse of women as a grounds for seeking asylum, even though in Honduras and other countries from which asylum-seekers come, police and authoritarian males often use abuse and rape as methods of controlling and silencing women dissidents. Sadism toward women is a common keynote of Trump administration officials, and here is is implemented as asylum policy, as though we had suddenly become Saudi Arabia.

Whether we can manage to have it adjudicated in the courts or not, is is absolutely clear that the US under Trump is in violation of its commitments under the 1967 Protocol and the relevant articles of the Convention on the Treatment of Refugees. The US has often used other countries’ defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and of international treaty obligations as a casus belli (i.e. the Iraq War’s legal justification, such as it was, depended entirely on these considerations). But in this case it is Washington that has gone rogue, and you wonder whether a further decline in tourism (down 4% in Trump’s first 3 quarters but up 7% internationally), student abroad applications (worth $30 bn. a year), and in acceptance of US brands abroad, will follow.

——

Bonus video:

2000 children forcibly separated from their parents and other topics – Human Rights Council Briefing

Look Deeper: Child Detention and the US’s Paramilitary Politics Abroad

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/child-paramilitary-politics.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176560

Southwest Harbor, ME (Informed Comment) – Attorney General Sessions didn’t lose any sleep over those children forcibly separated from their parents. He maintained most of the asylum seekers will be denied because “many of them . . . like to make more money . . .” Unfortunately, however, when children are used as bargaining chips we may never know the conditions these families have experienced. As Daily Kos argues, “sign here and get your baby back” is hardly a way to elicit accurate information.

Trump’s hard right base imagines hordes of greedy, poorly educated workers eager to steal our well- deserved prosperity. Unfortunately, amidst the justifiable horror evoked by US authorities’ criminal treatment of these children there is too little examination of the conditions that spur many of these mass migrations. Nor is this an accident. US policy has played a major role in fostering or sustaining the violence that impels many to flee. Admitting that role by implication challenges the legitimacy of those policies.

From the days of the Monroe Doctrine on the US has treated Central and South America as wholly owned subsidiaries. That has included support for even the most vicious authoritarians as long as they were hospitable to US multinationals. FDR is purported to have called Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “an SOB, but he’s our SOB.” Take the recent example of Honduras, one home of those seeking asylum. In a late May conversation on Democracy Now between Amy Goodman and Dana Frank, University of California Santa Cruz scholar, Goodman reminded listeners that: this June marks “the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed the democratically elected Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, which the U.S did not oppose. It was the coup, more than drug trafficking and gangs, that opened the doors to the violence in Honduras and unleashed an ongoing wave of state-sponsored repression.”

Frank added, “when we talk about the fleeing gangs and violence, it’s also this tremendous poverty. And poverty doesn’t just happen. It, itself, is a direct result of policies of both the Honduran government and the U.S. government, including privatizations, mass layoffs of government workers, and a new law that breaks up full-time jobs and makes them part-time and ineligible for unionization, living wage and the national health service. “ These policies have been supported by Democrats as well as Republicans. Frank reminds us “A lot of these economic policies are driven by U.S.-funded lending organizations like the International Monetary Fund,… The Central American Free Trade Agreement is the other piece of this. Like NAFTA … it opens the door to this open competition between small producers in agriculture in Honduras, small manufacturers, and jobs are disappearing as a result of that.”

In language that directly addresses Sessions contempt for these migrants. Frank adds:”it’s not like people are like, “Let’s go have the American dream.” There are almost no jobs for young people. And we’re talking about starving to death—that’s the alternative—or being driven into gangs with tremendous sexual violence. And it’s a very, very tragic situation here. But it’s not like it tragically just happened. It’s a direct result of very conscious policies by the U.S. and Honduran governments.”

Throughout Central America extreme inequality along with ruthless and repressive governments have led to a pathological politics. Governments are brutal but also unstable. Often they rely on or tacitly encourage paramilitary forces. These allow them to evade responsibility for the crimes on which their rule depends.

That these conditions should constitute grounds for asylum is clear, but the Trump Administration defines violence in as narrow a manner as possible. Only a gun pointed at one’s head and imminently prepared to shoot is violence. To view violence of paramilitary forces or even spousal violence systemically– where murder and regular intimidation are the backdrop of daily life– might make the Trump administration appear soft on immigration and disdainful of its base. But equally significant, attention to these conditions and their cause casts doubt not only on the substance of US foreign policy but also on its methods.

The Obama Administration supported regressive economic policy in Latin America and stood idly by in the face of a brutal coup. Trump ups the ante. The US now has a president who explicitly supports foreign leaders’ assassination of drug dealers and here at home encourages his supporters to rough up opponents. How far are we from importing not only asylum seekers but also paramilitary violence from these unstable states? If we do not end this cruelty on our borders our children may pay a heavy price.

—–

Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Washington Post: “‘Danger everywhere’: A Honduran family is turned away at the US border and detained in Mexico”

Turkey: Social Media Activists Resist Authoritarian Pres. Erdogan in Run-Up to Elections

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/activists-authoritarian-elections.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176552

Essex (The Conversation) – Turkey will soon go to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced them on the same day that parliament extended the national state of emergency for the seventh time since the botched coup attempt of July 2016.

Erdoğan brought these elections forward to June 24 for his own political ends: to pre-empt an expected economic downturn, to take his rivals by surprise, and to ride a surge of nationalism stirred up by the recent military offensive in Afrin, Syria. This will be the first national vote since the controversial constitutional referendum of April 2017, which resulted in a narrow vote to establish a presidential system without any checks and balances. Should Erdoğan win this latest election, he will consolidate his power futher: the office of the prime minister will be abolished and taken over by a powerful executive presidency.

The election is taking place under the state of emergency’s restrictions, which have greatly distorted the campaign – but there are also signs that this time, Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) may find it more difficult to control events thanks to a highly motivated opposition and a lively social media environment.

Predicting the result is difficult, but the deteriorating economy, an unexpected alliance among four opposition parties, and the energy brought by the candidacy of Republican People’s Party’s Muharrem Ince undoubtedly will make life difficult for AKP.

Could Erdoğan ever be beaten? Perhaps – but if only there were a fair election campaign. Instead, the election is taking place under Turkey’s state of emergency, which compromises democratic freedoms and the rule of law.

Before the state of emergency was imposed, the High Electoral Board could penalise TV stations that failed to give opposition parties fair airtime. That provision has now been revoked, and the consequences are already visible: according to a recent report, TRT Haber, the publicly-owned and financed national broadcaster, has covered the AKP-Nationalist Movement Party alliance for 37 hours and 40 minutes, and allotted all opposition parties and their presidential candidates a combined 3 hours and 13 minutes. And to make matters worse, in March 2018, one of Turkey’s leading media groups, Dogan Media, was sold to a pro-government Turkish conglomerate.

This is all forcing the opposition to take its campaign elsewhere – and in particular, to social media.

Intimidation and resistance

None of the parties has done so more effectively than the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its imprisoned former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş. In the face of a de facto embargo by mainstream news sources, the HDP depends on social media to announce its parliamentary candidates, to mobilise supporters for its rallies, and to share its policy positions. The internet and the social media in particular also provide a space for many well-known journalists who’ve lost their jobs for criticising the government. They are launching new online newspapers and TV channels to provide alternative sources of information.

Meanwhile, everyday Turks are making a noise on their own, and using Erdoğan’s words against him. The president himself declared a few weeks before the vote that if the nation one day said “tamam” – meaning “done” or “enough” – he would step aside. Seizing upon this statement, the hashtag #TAMAM has been tweeted almost 2m times in various creative ways. The campaign has revived the spirit of the 2013 Gezi Park protests – the biggest popular challenge to the AKP’s rule to this day.

Obviously, a single hashtag campaign is hardly a reliable measure of national opinion, especially considering that only 20% of the population uses Twitter. But in a country where thousands have been prosecuted for their social media posts, such a visible public campaign may be a harbinger of change.

Civic groups are also using social media platforms to recruit and train volunteers to increase electoral turnout and transparency in vote counting. These volunteers could be critical on polling day; recent changes in electoral law have introduced some controversial measures, such as allowing security forces to attend polling stations if they are invited by a voter. Clearly this provision can be abused to intimidate voters, especially in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish south-east – and all experts agree that the size of the Kurdish vote will be crucial in determining the fate of Erdoğan and his party.

In fact, a recently leaked video shows Erdoğan instructing AKP’s local organisations to put “tight marking” on voters in every district in Istanbul to push the HDP below the national 10% threshold. The national threshold is the highest in the world, and has been criticised for many years for disenfranchising millions of voters, as happened most dramatically in 2002.

The online battle

Turning to social media is not without its risks. Since the 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has arrested thousands of people for allegedly supporting terrorism or insulting government officials on social media. According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, between January 20 and February 26 2018, authorities detained 648 people over social media posts criticising Turkey’s military operations in Afrin.

But Erdoğan’s distaste for social media dates back to the 2013 Gezi Park protests, when Twitter and other social media platforms were used extensively to bring people into the streets. Realising the potential of these platforms to disseminate information and enable collective action, he decried Twitter at the time as the “worst menace to society”, and in March 2014, Twitter was temporarily blocked in Turkey altogether.

But technology has also come to Erdoğan’s rescue before. During the failed coup in 2016, he gave an interview via FaceTime to CNNTurk and called on the people of Turkey to take to the streets against the apparent putsch. Through this last-ditch call and harnessing social media, messaging services, as well as the creative use of mosques calling people on to the streets, he survived the night and continued consolidating his power.

The ConversationShould an opposition candidate somehow defeat him, Erdoğan might well try to mobilise his supporters to delegitimise the election result. If he does, technology will certainly be one of his most important tools. But equally, all the major challenges to his rule in the last few years relied on social media to some extent. Each time, Erdoğan has managed to take control of the information environment and repel his rivals, tightening control on internet users, blocking social media platforms, harassing bloggers, and manipulating online discussions. But the internet still offers some hope – and this election will be a crucial test of its power to challenge Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule.

Rabia Karakaya Polat, Visiting Fellow at the Department of Government, University of Essex

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Turkish parties compete for expat vote in Germany | DW English

As Pentagon Encircles China, Does Military Conflict With Beijing Loom?

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/pentagon-encircles-military.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176549

Northampton, MA (Tomdispatch.com ) – On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis explained, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both.

What? You didn’t hear about this anywhere? And even now, you’re not exactly blown away, right? Well, such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous. Think of it as a signal that the U.S. military is already setting the stage for an eventual confrontation with China.

If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, I’m not surprised since the media gave it virtually no attention — less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched. What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in America’s Pacific alliance system. “In Symbolic Nod to India, U.S. Pacific Command Changes Name” was the headline of a Reuters story on the subject and, to the extent that any attention was paid, it was typical.

That the media’s military analysts failed to notice anything more than symbolism in the deep-sixing of PACOM shouldn’t be surprising, given all the attention being paid to other major international developments — the pyrotechnics of the Korean summit in Singapore, the insults traded at and after the G7 meeting in Canada, or the ominous gathering storm over Iran. Add to this the poor grasp so many journalists have of the nature of the U.S. military’s strategic thinking. Still, Mattis himself has not been shy about the geopolitical significance of linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans in such planning. In fact, it represents a fundamental shift in U.S. military thinking with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Consider the backdrop to the name change: in recent months, the U.S. has stepped up its naval patrols in waters adjacent to Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea (as has China), raising the prospect of future clashes between the warships of the two countries. Such moves have been accompanied by ever more threatening language from the Department of Defense (DoD), indicating an intent to do nothing less than engage China militarily if that country’s build-up in the region continues. “When it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis declared at the Shangri La Strategic Dialogue in Singapore on June 2nd.

As a preliminary indication of what he meant by this, Mattis promptly disinvited the Chinese from the world’s largest multinational naval exercise, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), conducted annually under American auspices. “But that’s a relatively small consequence,” he added ominously, “and I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.” With that in mind, he soon announced that the Pentagon is planning to conduct “a steady drumbeat” of naval operations in waters abutting those Chinese-occupied islands, which should raise the heat between the two countries and could create the conditions for a miscalculation, a mistake, or even an accident at sea that might lead to far worse.

In addition to its plans to heighten naval tensions in seas adjacent to China, the Pentagon has been laboring to strengthen its military ties with U.S.-friendly states on China’s perimeter, all clearly part of a long-term drive to — in Cold War fashion — “contain” Chinese power in Asia. On June 8th, for example, the DoD launched Malabar 2018, a joint Pacific Ocean naval exercise involving forces from India, Japan, and the United States. Incorporating once neutral India into America’s anti-Chinese “Pacific” alliance system in this and other ways has, in fact, become a major twenty-first-century goal of the Pentagon, posing a significant new threat to China.

For decades, the principal objective of U.S. strategy in Asia had been to bolster key Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, while containing Chinese power in adjacent waters, including the East and South China Seas. However, in recent times, China has sought to spread its influence into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, in part by extolling its staggeringly ambitious “One Belt, One Road” trade and infrastructure initiative for the Eurasian continent and Africa. That vast project is clearly meant both as a unique vehicle for cooperation and a way to tie much of Eurasia into a future China-centered economic and energy system. Threatened by visions of such a future, American strategists have moved ever more decisively to constrain Chinese outreach in those very areas. That, then, is the context for the sudden concerted drive by U.S. military strategists to link the Indian and Pacific Oceans and so encircle China with pro-American, anti-Chinese alliance systems. The name change on May 30th is a formal acknowledgement of an encirclement strategy that couldn’t, in the long run, be more dangerous.

Girding for War with China

To grasp the ramifications of such moves, some background on the former PACOM might be useful. Originally known as the Far East Command, PACOM was established in 1947 and has been headquartered at U.S. bases near Honolulu, Hawaii, ever since. As now constituted, its “area of responsibility” encompasses a mind-boggling expanse: all of East, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans — in other words, an area covering about 50% of the Earth’s surface and incorporating more than half of the global population. Though the Pentagon divides the whole planet like a giant pie into a set of “unified commands,” none of them is larger than the newly expansive, newly named Indo-Pacific Command, with its375,000 military and civilian personnel.

Before the Indian Ocean was explicitly incorporated into its fold, PACOM mainly focused on maintaining control of the western Pacific, especially in waters around a number of friendly island and peninsula states like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Its force structure has largely been composed of air and naval squadrons, along with a large Marine Corps presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Its most powerful combat unit is the

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<p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/pentagon-encircles-military.html">https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/pentagon-encircles-military.html</a></p><p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="https://www.juancole.com/?p=176549">https://www.juancole.com/?p=176549</a></p><p>Northampton, MA (<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176438/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_is_a_war_with_china_on_the_horizon/">Tomdispatch.com </a>) &#8211; On May 30th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a momentous shift in American global strategic policy. From now on, he decreed, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), which oversees all U.S. military forces in Asia, will be called the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). The name change, Mattis <a href="http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1537107/pacific-command-change-highlights-growing-importance-of-indian-ocean-area/" target="_blank">explained</a>, reflects “the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” as well as Washington’s determination to remain the dominant power in both. </p> <p>What? You didn’t hear about this anywhere? And even now, you’re not exactly blown away, right? Well, such a name change may not sound like much, but someday you may look back and realize that it couldn’t have been more consequential or ominous. Think of it as a signal that the U.S. military is already setting the stage for an eventual confrontation with China.</p> <p>If, until now, you hadn’t read about Mattis’s decision anywhere, I’m not surprised since the media gave it virtually no attention &#8212; less certainly than would have been accorded the least significant tweet Donald Trump ever dispatched. What coverage it did receive treated the name change as no more than a passing “symbolic” gesture, a Pentagon ploy to encourage India to join Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies in America’s Pacific alliance system. “In Symbolic Nod to India, U.S. Pacific Command Changes Name” was the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-india/in-symbolic-nod-to-india-us-pacific-command-changes-name-idUSKCN1IV2Q2" target="_blank">headline</a> of a Reuters story on the subject and, to the extent that any attention was paid, it was typical.</p> <p>That the media’s military analysts failed to notice anything more than symbolism in the deep-sixing of PACOM shouldn’t be surprising, given all the attention being paid to other major international developments &#8212; the pyrotechnics of the Korean summit in Singapore, the insults traded at and after the G7 meeting in Canada, or the ominous gathering storm over Iran. Add to this the poor grasp so many journalists have of the nature of the U.S. military’s strategic thinking. Still, Mattis himself has not been shy about the geopolitical significance of linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans in such planning. In fact, it represents a fundamental shift in U.S. military thinking with potentially far-reaching consequences.</p> <p>Consider the backdrop to the name change: in recent months, the U.S. has stepped up its naval patrols in waters adjacent to Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea (as has China), raising the prospect of future clashes between the warships of the two countries. Such moves have been accompanied by ever more threatening language from the Department of Defense (DoD), indicating an intent to do nothing less than engage China militarily if that country’s build-up in the region continues. “When it comes down to introducing what they have done in the South China Sea, there are consequences,” Mattis <a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1538599/remarks-by-secretary-mattis-at-plenary-session-of-the-2018-shangri-la-dialogue/" target="_blank">declared</a> at the Shangri La Strategic Dialogue in Singapore on June 2nd.</p> <p>As a preliminary indication of what he meant by this, Mattis promptly <a href="https://news.usni.org/2018/05/23/china-disinvited-participating-2018-rimpac-exercise" target="_blank">disinvited</a> the Chinese from the world’s largest multinational naval exercise, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), conducted annually under American auspices. “But that’s a relatively small consequence,” he added ominously, “and I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.” With that in mind, he soon <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/30/asia/mattis-south-china-sea-intl/index.html" target="_blank">announced</a> that the Pentagon is planning to conduct “a steady drumbeat” of naval operations in waters abutting those Chinese-occupied islands, which should raise the heat between the two countries and could create the conditions for a miscalculation, a mistake, or even an accident at sea that might lead to far worse.</p> <p>In addition to its plans to heighten naval tensions in seas adjacent to China, the Pentagon has been laboring to strengthen its military ties with U.S.-friendly states on China’s perimeter, all clearly part of a long-term drive to &#8212; in Cold War fashion &#8212; “contain” Chinese power in Asia. On June 8th, for example, the DoD <a href="http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1545620/us-indian-and-japanese-maritime-forces-begin-malabar-exercise/" target="_blank">launched</a> Malabar 2018, a joint Pacific Ocean naval exercise involving forces from India, Japan, and the United States. Incorporating once neutral India into America’s anti-Chinese “Pacific” alliance system in this and other ways has, in fact, become a major twenty-first-century goal of the Pentagon, posing a significant new threat to China.</p> <p>For decades, the principal objective of U.S. strategy in Asia had been to bolster key Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, while containing Chinese power in adjacent waters, including the East and South China Seas. However, in recent times, China has sought to spread its influence into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, in part by extolling its staggeringly ambitious “<a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/chinas-rise-as-a-regional-and-global-power-the-aiib-and-the-one-belt-one-road/" target="_blank">One Belt, One Road</a>” trade and infrastructure initiative for the Eurasian continent and Africa. That vast project is clearly meant both as a unique vehicle for cooperation and a way to tie much of Eurasia into a future China-centered economic and energy system. Threatened by visions of such a future, American strategists have moved ever more decisively to constrain Chinese outreach in those very areas. That, then, is the context for the sudden concerted drive by U.S. military strategists to link the Indian and Pacific Oceans and so encircle China with pro-American, anti-Chinese alliance systems. The name change on May 30th is a formal acknowledgement of an encirclement strategy that couldn’t, in the long run, be more dangerous.</p> <p><strong>Girding for War with China</strong></p> <p>To grasp the ramifications of such moves, some background on the former PACOM might be useful. Originally known as the Far East Command, PACOM was <a href="http://www.pacom.mil/About-USINDOPACOM/History/" target="_blank">established</a> in 1947 and has been headquartered at U.S. bases near Honolulu, Hawaii, ever since. As now constituted, its “<a href="http://www.pacom.mil/About-USINDOPACOM/USPACOM-Area-of-Responsibility/" target="_blank">area of responsibility</a>” encompasses a mind-boggling expanse: all of East, South, and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans &#8212; in other words, an area covering about 50% of the Earth’s surface and incorporating more than half of the global population. Though the Pentagon divides the whole planet like a giant pie into a set of “unified commands,” none of them is larger than the newly expansive, newly named Indo-Pacific Command, with its375,000 military and civilian personnel.</p> <p>Before the Indian Ocean was explicitly incorporated into its fold, PACOM mainly focused on maintaining control of the western Pacific, especially in waters around a number of friendly island and peninsula states like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Its force structure has largely been composed of air and naval squadrons, along with a large Marine Corps presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Its most powerful combat unit is the <href ="#aor"="=&quot;#aor&quot;" target="_blank">U.S. Pacific Fleet &#8212; like the area it now covers, the largest in the world. It’s made up of the 3rd and 7th Fleets, which together have approximately 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 sailors, pilots, Marines, and civilians.</href></p> <p>On a day-to-day basis, until recently, the biggest worry confronting the command was the possibility of a conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea. During the late fall of 2017 and the winter of 2018, PACOM engaged in a continuing series of exercises designed to test its forces’ ability to overcome North Korean defenses and destroy its major military assets, including nuclear and missile facilities. These were undoubtedly intended, above all, as a <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/25/asia-pacific/u-s-south-korea-will-stage-massive-air-exercise-warning-north-korea/" target="_blank">warning</a> to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about what he could expect if he continued down the path of endless provocative missile and nuclear tests. It seems that, at least for the time being, President Trump has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/12/us-to-suspend-war-games-with-south-korea-donald-trump-kim-jong-un-north-summit" target="_blank">suspended</a> such drills as a result of his summit meeting with Kim. </p> <p>North Korea aside, the principalpreoccupation of PACOM commanders has long been the rising power of China and how to contain it. This was evident at the May 30th ceremony in Hawaii at which Mattis announced that expansive name change and presided over a <a href="http://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1535776/us-indo-pacific-command-holds-change-of-command-ceremony/" target="_blank">change-of-command</a> ceremony, in which outgoing commander, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., was replaced by Admiral Phil Davidson. (Given the naval-centric nature of its mission, the command is almost invariably headed by an admiral.) </p> <p>While avoiding any direct mention of China in his opening remarks, Mattis left not a smidgeon of uncertainty that the command’s new name was a challenge and a call for the future mobilization of regional opposition across a vast stretch of the planet to China’s dreams and desires. Other nations welcome U.S. support, he <a href="https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1535689/remarks-at-us-indo-pacific-command-change-of-command-ceremony/" target="_blank">insisted</a>, as they prefer an environment of “free, fair, and reciprocal trade not bound by any nation&#8217;s predatory economics or threat of coercion, for the Indo-Pacific has many belts and many roads.” No one could mistake the meaning of that.</p> <p>Departing Admiral Harris was blunter still. Although “North Korea remains our most immediate threat,” he <a href="http://www.pacom.mil/Media/Speeches-Testimony/Article/1537219/us-indo-pacific-command-change-of-command-ceremony/" target="_blank">declared</a>, “China remains our biggest long-term challenge.” He then offered a warning: without the stepped-up efforts of the U.S. and its allies to constrain Beijing, “China will realize its dream of hegemony in Asia.” Yes, he admitted, it was still possible to cooperate with the Chinese on limited issues, but we should “stand ready to confront them when we must.” (On May 18th, Admiral Harris was <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-southkorea-harris/trump-nominates-pacific-commander-harris-as-u-s-ambassador-to-seoul-idUSKCN1IJ2RB" target="_blank">nominated</a> by President Trump as the future U.S. ambassador to South Korea, which will place a former military man at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.)</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1608469077/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank"></a>Harris’s successor, Admiral Davidson, seems, if anything, even more determined to put confronting China atop the command’s agenda. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 17th, he repeatedly <a href="https://news.usni.org/2018/04/24/sasc-confirms-davidson-nomination-next-pacom-commander" target="_blank">highlighted</a> the threat posed by Chinese military activities in the South China Sea and promised to resist them vigorously. “Once [the South China Sea islands are] occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” he <a href="https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Davidson_APQs_04-17-18.pdf" target="_blank">warned</a>. “The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”</p> <p>Is that, then, what Admiral Davidson sees in our future? War with China in those waters? His testimony made it crystal clear that his primary objective as head of the Indo-Pacific Command will be nothing less than training and equipping the forces under him for just such a future war, while enlisting the militaries of as many allies as possible in the Pentagon’s campaign to encircle that country. “To prevent a situation where China is more likely to win a conflict,” he affirmed in his version of Pentagonese, “we must resource high-end capabilities in a timely fashion, preserve our network of allies and partners, and continue to recruit and train the best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coastguardsmen in the world.”</p> <p>Davidson’s first priority is to procure advanced weaponry and integrate it into the command’s force structure, ensuring that American combatants will always enjoy a technological advantage over their Chinese counterparts in any future confrontation. Almost as important, he, like his predecessors, seeks to bolster America’s military ties with other members of the contain-China club. This is where India comes in. Like the United States, its leadership is deeply <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/india-moves-counter-growing-chinese-presence-indian-ocean-region/4236174.html" target="_blank">concerned</a> with China’s expanding presence in the Indian Ocean region, including the opening of a future port/naval base in <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/a-new-china-military-base-in-pakistan/" target="_blank">Gwadar</a>, Pakistan, and another potential one on the island of <a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2126897/chinese-flag-flies-over-sri-lanka-china-extends-its" target="_blank">Sri Lanka</a>, both in the Indian Ocean. Not surprisingly, given the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/16/indian-chinese-troops-clash-disputed-himalayan-border-region" target="_blank">periodic clashes</a> between Chinese and Indian forces along their joint Himalayan borderlands and the <a href="http://www.atimes.com/anti-piracy-mission-helps-china-develop-blue-water-navy/" target="_blank">permanent deployment</a> of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has shown himself to be increasingly disposed to join Washington in military arrangements aimed at limiting China’s geopolitical reach. “An enduring strategic partnership with India comports with U.S. goals and objectives in the Indo-Pacific,” Admiral Davidson said in his recent congressional testimony. Once installed as commander, he continued, “I will maintain the positive momentum and trajectory of our burgeoning strategic partnership.” His particular goal: to “increase maritime security cooperation.”</p> <p>And so we arrive at the Indo-Pacific Command and a future shadowed by the potential for great power war.</p> <p><strong>The View from Beijing</strong></p> <p>The way the name change at PACOM was covered in the U.S., you would think it reflected, at most, a benign wish for greater economic connections between the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, as well, perhaps, as a nod to America’s growing relationship with India. Nowhere was there any hint that what might lie behind it was a hostile and potentially threatening new approach to China &#8212; or that it could conceivably be perceived that way in Beijing. But there can be no doubt that the Chinese view such moves, including recent provocative naval operations in the disputed Paracel Islands of the South China Sea, as significant perils.</p> <p>When, in late May, the Pentagon dispatched two warships &#8212; the USS <em>Higgins</em>, a destroyer, and the USS <em>Antietam</em>, a cruiser &#8212; into the waters near one of those newly fortified islands, the Chinese responded by sending in some of their own warships while issuing a statement condemning the provocative American naval patrols. The U.S. action, <a href="http://time.com/5292908/china-warns-navy-warships-south-china-sea/" target="_blank">said</a> a Chinese military spokesperson, “seriously violated China’s sovereignty [and] undermined strategic mutual trust.” <a href="https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/south-china-sea-two-us-navy-destroyers-conduct-freedom-of-navigation-operation-in-paracel-islands/" target="_blank">Described</a> by the Pentagon as “freedom of navigation operations” (FRONOPs), such patrols are set to be increased at the behest of Mattis.</p> <p>Of course, the Chinese are hardly blameless in the escalating tensions in the region. They have continued to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/06/photos-beijings-militarisation-south-china-sea-philippines" target="_blank">militarize</a> South China Sea islands whose ownership is in dispute, despite a <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-completes-runway-on-artificial-island-in-south-china-sea-1443184818" target="_blank">promise</a> that Chinese President Xi Jinping made to President Obama in 2015 not to do so. Some of those islands in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries in the area and have been the subject of intensifying, often bitter <href ="#!/conflict/territorial-disputes-in-the-south-china-sea"="=&quot;#!/conflict/territorial-disputes-in-the-south-china-sea&quot;" target="_blank">disagreements among them about where rightful ownership really lies. Beijing has simply claimed sovereignty over all of them and refuses to compromise on the issue. By fortifying them &#8212; which American military commanders see as a latent military threat to U.S. forces in the region &#8212; Beijing has provoked a particularly fierce U.S. reaction, though these are obviously waters relatively close to China, but many thousands of miles from the continental United States.</href></p> <p>From Beijing, the strategic outlook articulated by Secretary Mattis, as well as Admirals Harris and Davidson, is clearly viewed &#8212; and not without reason &#8212; as threatening and as evidence of Washington’s master plan to surround China, confine it, and prevent it from ever achieving the regional dominance its leaders <a href="https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/claiming-dominance-china-sheds-pretense-peaceful-rise" target="_blank">believe</a> is its due as the rising great power on the planet. To the Chinese leadership, changing PACOM’s name to the Indo-Pacific Command will just be another signal of Washington’s determination to extend its unprecedented military presence westward from the Pacific around Southeast Asia into the Indian Ocean and so further restrain the attainment of what it sees as China’s legitimate destiny. </p> <p>However Chinese leaders end up responding to such strategic moves, one thing is certain: they will not view them with indifference. On the contrary, as challenged great powers have always done, they will undoubtedly seek ways to counter America’s containment strategy by whatever means are at hand. These may not initially be overtly military or even obvious, but in the long run they will certainly be vigorous and persistent. They will include efforts to compete with Washington in pursuit of Asian allies &#8212; as seen in Beijing’s fervent <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/17/china-courts-philippines-leader-duterte-amid-signs-of-us-rift" target="_blank">courtship</a> of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines &#8212; and to secure <a href="https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/chinas-new-network-indian-ocean-bases" target="_blank">new basing arrangements</a> abroad, possibly under the pretext, as in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, of establishing commercial shipping terminals. All of this will only add new tensions to an already anxiety-inducing relationship with the United States. As ever more warships from both countries patrol the region, the likelihood that accidents will occur, mistakes will be made, and future military clashes will result can only increase.</p> <p>With the possibility of war with North Korea fading in the wake of the recent Singapore summit, one thing is guaranteed: the new U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will only devote itself ever more fervently to what is already its one overriding priority: preparing for a conflict with China. Its commanders insist that they do not seek such a war, and believe that their preparations &#8212; by demonstrating America’s strength and resolve &#8212; will deter the Chinese from ever challenging American supremacy. That, however, is a fantasy. In reality, a strategy that calls for a “steady drumbeat” of naval operations aimed at intimidating China in waters near that country will create ever more possibilities, however unintended, of sparking the very conflagration that it is, at least theoretically, designed to prevent.</p> <p>Right now, a Sino-American war sounds like the plotline of some half-baked dystopian novel. Unfortunately, given the direction in which both countries (and their militaries) are heading, it could, in the relatively near future, become a grim reality. </p> <p><em>Michael T. Klare, a </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176422/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_the_road_to_hell_in_the_middle_east" target="_blank">TomDispatch <em>regular</em></a><em>, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of </em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1250023971/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">The Race for What’s Left</a><em>. A documentary movie version of his book </em>Blood and Oil<em> is available from the Media Education Foundation</em>. <em>Follow him on Twitter at @mklare1.</em></p> <p><em>Follow </em>TomDispatch<em> on <a href="https://twitter.com/TomDispatch" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Tom Engelhardt&#8217;s </em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1608469018/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">A Nation Unmade by War</a><em>, as well as Alfred McCoy&#8217;s </em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1608467732/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power</a><em>, John Dower&#8217;s </em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1608467236/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II</a><em>, John Feffer&#8217;s dystopian novel </em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1608467244/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Splinterlands</a><em>, and Nick Turse&#8217;s </em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608466485/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead</a><em>.</em></p> <p>Copyright 2018 Michael T. Klare</p> <p>Via <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176438/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_is_a_war_with_china_on_the_horizon/"> Tomdispatch.com </a></p> <p>&#8212;&#8211;</p> <p>Bonus video added by Informed Comment:</p> <p><a href="https://youtu.be/4anhM7jnuk4 "> Arirang from early June: &#8220;China lashes out at U.S. B-52 flyby over South China Sea&#8221; </a></p> <p><lj-embed id="8878"/></p>

Are Police Tracking You Using Facial Recognition? (Video)

https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/are-police-tracking-you-using-facial-recognition-video.html

https://www.juancole.com/?p=176431

“AJ+ explores the risks and benefits of facial recognition software. We traveled to the Mexico-US border as Trump vows to complete a US biometric entry-exit system. In an AJ+ documentary series, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin investigates facial recognition at the border, meets men struggling with addiction at a gaming rehab, looks into the harassment women face online, interviews current and former Facebook employees and travels to a Macedonian Fake News farms. When big tech breaks things and asks questions later, it affects everyone. AJ+ looked into what’s broken and how to fix it.”

AJ+: “How Police Are Tracking You Using Facial Recognition”