Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Russia and the US are Wrong in Syria

The United States is wrong in Syria, and the Middle East in general. Wrapping naked ambition in the cloak of national interest only serves to accentuate the gross abuse of power it wields there. There is no recognizable high ground, or moral imperative, that the US can trot out to justify its flagrant disregard for the rules of international law and state craft. It has to be said, and it must be said by people of good conscience, that the US is behaving like a barbaric, unrestrained colonial empire from the pages of our world's darkest history.

Having covertly, but obviously, supported the Islamic State in its attempt to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, the US now finds itself in the position of "Plan B". Plan B means upping its support for the Kurds to split Syria in half while green lighting Saudi Arabia and its allies into a coalition directly opposing Iran. In other words, having failed to overthrow Assad, the US is now aiming to make the new battlefield Iran itself. The newly named Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia said as much when he stated the upcoming battlefield would be in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia. In effect, the US has established Saudi Arabia as the attack dog of the Middle East.

Saudi has been very aggressive in its war of regional influence with Iran over the last year. It invaded Yemen after to counter an Iranian-friendly Houthi uprising deposed the Saudi-friendly president of the country. It led an "Arab NATO" exercise of 350,000 troops aimed directly at invading Syria. It has just recently led an economic and geographic blockade of the Iranian-friendly Qatar. On and on it goes. Essentially, the US is now employing Saudi directly in the region, which means Iran will become even more involved in the region, and so it goes. Bottom-line is this, the US is escalating the world's path to war in the Middle East like a child playing with matches in the fire works factory.

This is not a case of Iranian aggressive action against its neighbors. Nor is it the case that Russia is attempting to physically extend its influence or power in the region. The battle ground in Syria is an excellent case in point. The US and its allies were not invited by the Syrian government to militarily intervene in the conflict there. Prior to the Islamic State's armed insurrection in Syria the country was firmly in the grip of Russian and Iranian influence. That was the status quo, and has been for decades. There was no attempt by Syria to expand its influence. In fact, years before, Syria completely withdrew its military from Lebanon. In other words, there were no grounds for any country becoming involved militarily on Syrian soil.

Israel, which has up to recently been fairly prepared to remain on the sidelines while its enemies killed each other, has become more and more involved in the regional fight. Its air force has conducted numerous attacks on the Syrian army in the last year with apparent impunity. Furthermore, and in a sign of things to come, its ministers have made comments insinuating a coming invasion of Lebanon to take on Hezbollah - another Iranian ally in the region. Hezbollah has not been conducting any military assaults on Israel, but it has been an invited military ally of Assad in the current conflict.

It is a fair conclusion that prior to Russia's direct military intervention in Syria, with Iran and Hezbollah in tow, that the US, Israel, and Saudi were prepared sit back and covertly support the various Islamic militant groups that were tearing Syria apart. However, after the Russian led alliance stopped, and then reversed, theses groups battle field successes, all bets were off. It is all a matter of record now. No imputation of fact or speculation is required.

While the US has grossly abused its power and position to drive the world to the brink of war, the Russians are not without fault - just for the opposite reason. The Russians have been far too uncommitted for a country that purports to lead the bloc which seeks a multi-polar world. Russia is failing both Syria and its vision of a multi-polar world by not forcefully coming to the aid of an ally in crisis. By the way, China could also be included in that criticism. Both Russia and China have very large militaries, and both have the capacity to employ those forces far from home. Before now, well before now, the Russians should have deployed forces on a divisional level to assist in the destruction of militant groups in Syria.

Unfortunately, for regional and world stability, the Russians have decided to give Syria piece meal assistance rather than decisive support. Instead of a division or two of Russian troops rolling over the militant groups, and ending the war there swiftly and decisively, the Russians committed some air force support, but left control of the ground to Syria's army and Hezbollah. A minimal risk scenario for Russia, but not the actions of a world power intent on creating a multi-polar world. In effect, a timid response. That has left the door open to the US on the ground in Syria, and the US has taken advantage of that.

Less than a year ago there were essentially no US forces on the ground in Syria. Today the US has established at least one base, if not more, in Kurdish held Eastern Syria. Ditto for the southern border of Iraq and Syria, where the US has now established a base with missile artillery that has an effective range of 300 km. Now, instead of the Russians having to simply rid Syria of militant ground forces, they must engage American forces directly to free Syria from uninvited guests. The prospect of having to engage US forces that have invited themselves onto Syrian territory raises the spectre of a Russian-American direct conflict.

Make no mistake, the current crisis in Syria and now the Middle East in general, is as much a fault of Russian inaction as it is of US intervention. This cannot be overstated. The Americans no longer take Russian threats over Syria seriously, because Russia has failed to adequately respond to US and Israeli strikes against the Syrian armed forces. The US and Israel have been able to impose military action upon a key Russian ally with no consequences whatsoever. This is where the blame for Syria's destruction and the danger for our world meet. A habitually aggressive superpower vs a habitually over cautious superpower creates an imbalance that leads to conflict on a global scale. Russia by its lack of serious military commitment in Syria is for all intense and purposes appeasing the US, and in doing so emboldening the US to go ever further with its plans for the Middle East - and the world in general.

The only solution for the crisis of balance we face in the world is for the Russian and Chinese governments to become resolute in their responsibilities as world powers. That doesn't mean Russia and China should become overly aggressive with their militaries,  but a minimum requirement of a super power is to safeguard its weaker allies against the aggressions of another state - particularly another super power state. If Russia and China fail to take decisive action in Syria, and force the Americans out by facts on the ground, it won't be long before we will have the following wars: an Israeli invasion of Lebanon; a Saudi led war on Iran; and God knows what from there. The Russians and Chinese have a responsibility to act so this does not occur - for the world's sake. Balance in world affairs, in line with the rule of international law, must be restored to this place we call home, or the natural consequence may be that none of us have a home anymore. 



Monday, April 17, 2017

War in North Korea?

I said some time ago (years actually) that the United States is facing two choices: war with China; or surrender of its position as global financial king. Two stark choices with no grey area. Why? That answer is a little more complicated.

Since the Berlin Wall fell in the 90's the Chinese have adopted a deliberate policy to out play the Americans at their own game - capitalism. Essentially, the Chinese are mimicking the path the US took to super power status. Firstly, they became very disciplined and kept their cost of production of goods and services to the bare bone, thereby capturing the lion's share of global manufacturing trade. Secondly, they stayed out of wars. Security for China became a gradual building of their military capabilities without the expense of fighting wars in the process. Thirdly, they became a lender to nations all over the world, thus spreading their political and economic influence to the point they are indispensable. Much like the early American policies of industrialization, free trade, open seas, and non-interventionism. Now China is what the US used to be, and the US has become what the British Empire was. We all know what happened to the Empire.

China's dominant financial position globally has allowed it to lead in the development of BRICS, Eurasia, and its own version of the IMF. In other words, the Chinese, along with Russia have turned the world economic, and therefore political, order on its head. The US is now attempting to pivot. US encouragement of Britain exiting the EU is a good example. The US is  desperately trying to  create a viable trading bloc to counter Eurasia/BRICS. It is apparent that their answer is a British Commonwealth 2.0 -  ie: US, Canada, Britain, Australia, etc. In a strange little clue, former Vice-President Biden, after making his final remarks on the make election loss, whispered "God save the Queen" as he walked from a still live mike. The truth is that no combination of countries can stand up to the resources, demographics, etc of the combined Eurasia/BRICS.

The US has had some successes putting dents in BRICS though. Most notably in South America. The pro-Russian leaderships in Brazil and Argentina have been replace by more western oriented leaders. Also, the President of South Africa is under intense pressure to resign, including resignation of his finance minister. So far that hasn't worked, and South Africa has a new finance minister. While these are victories for the US, and have somewhat stymied the Chinese/Russian momentum, they are no where near enough to hobble Eurasia.

The real dent in the Eurasian shield, however, must be made in China. That brings us North Korea - China's proverbial guard dog on its southern border. Trump has offered the Chinese a carrot and stick approach on North Korea. If the Chinese denuclearize North Korea the US will offer it better trade terms and not label it a currency manipulator.(which is closer to blackmail, because either you are a currency manipulator or you aren't) The Chinese, having just seen the stick approach offered to Russia in Syria, are taking the Americans seriously. They have a mutual defence pact with North Korea, as does Russia. An attack on one is an attack on all. That's why 150,000 Chinese troops have been moved to the border with North Korea. Russia has also stockpiled troops on its small border with North Korea. They are there to defend North Korea should it be required, and not to stem refugees as the western media has been playing it.

Meanwhile the Americans are moving a carrier strike group to the shores off North Korea. In addition, new intelligence has a total of two other aircraft carriers joining the group within the next ten days - about the time joint US/South Korean forces finish their massive annual war games. The US also has positioned massive air power at its various bases throughout the region.

The question is: Will all this result in war. The answer is yes. It is not a matter of North Koreas nuclear program, or Syria's "rabid dictator", or Russia's "meddling" in Europe, or China's "sea grab" in the South China Sea. No it's not any of these things. They are just stuff to spin to get the US people worked up and scared. The reason is Empire - either there will be one or their won't. The US simply cannot allow itself to lose at the economic game it set up. The only way to stop that is to create a world war that defeats China and Russia, but mostly China. After that, if there is a world left, the US will redraw the economic rules once again to keep them on top. While China and Russia stockpile gold, either to underpin their currencies or to pay for a major war, the US maintains the same course of ruinous debt, now even moving to strip the only real safeguards from their securities markets - a safeguard designed to stop a repeat of the Great Depression. So, if you've been thinking the world has been on its head, and kind of crazy the last while, well that's a reasonable interpretation of the chaos caused by the moves underway.

Nobody can say with certainty what will happen when the "Great American Armada" approaches North Korea. Traditionally, armadas haven't faired well in this kind of scenario. The North Koreans did give a bit of a hint though. During their massive military parade to honour the "Day of the Sun" the speaker stated North Korea will use its "own style" of nuclear war if necessary. One has to interpret that as an unconventional use of nuclear weapons. It may well be that the missiles and launching platforms paraded last weekend are a bit of a ruse. North Korea is well adept at deception. It may well be something far simpler, which the US may not be able to neutralize easily with their own missiles. Perhaps tunneling or submarines acting as delivery vehicles, rather than missiles. After all, how hard would it be for North Korea to retrofit some of its subs with a nuclear war head making them the delivery vehicles. A sub only has to get so close off shore to detonate itself and destroy an American city without launching a single missile. Ditto for the American Armada. A sub close by detonates and takes the works down. Three aircraft carriers is a real tempting target for them. So are we heading for war in North Korea, and elsewhere? The answer is yes. Unfortunately, the Americans are unable to accept the consequences of being economically outplayed, and are willing to take the whole house down with them. My sole hope is that technological superiority on one side or the other will prevent total waste being wrought over our planet.
















Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Tragic Truth About the Muskrat Falls U-Boat Wreck - U-180

It was August 20, 1944, Bordeaux, France - at the U-boat pens. The Allies had broken out from their foothold in Normandy, and the USSR had crushed the German army and began its invasion of Romania. Five days earlier the US had invaded Southern France in an operation codenamed "Anvil". The German occupation of France was at its end, and the remnants of the German forces were desperately fleeing for Germany, or in the case of the U-boats - the sea. It was under these dangerous and chaotic circumstances that the Captain of U-180 prepared to take her out to sea on his maiden mission as the U-boat's commander.

Rolf Riesen, the commander, was not a fervent Nazi, but he was a very patriotic German. He was also a family man who loved his family dearly, but saw them very rarely since joining the German Navy in 1938. He considered joining the navy his patriotic duty, and was very committed to the "higher cause". His served as a junior officer on the German heavy cruiser Lutzow until the end of 1941. He then transferred to the destroyer and torpedo boat holding division. Deciding to take a different tact, Riesen undertook U-boat training until September, 1942, and then served as a watch officer on U-198 until February, 1944. He then undertook U-boat commander training for three months, and on April 2, 1944 he took command of U-180 - his final command.  This story, although of major historical import, is dedicated to the memory of  Oberleutnant zur See Rolf Riesen, the last commander of U-180.

Rolf Riesen as a watch officer in 1942


Rolf Riesen just before leaving on his final mission 2 years later



Riesen supervised the loading of his beloved first command before going to sea. However, there were a number of wood crates in his boat that he had no idea of their contents. He was a very meticulous officer, keen on details, but a very superior officer gave him the "it's on a need to know basis and you don't need to know" speech. As a loyal and dedicated officer he did not question his superior. Little did he know the crates contained u-234 - uranium. What he did know was they were stowed below, with other cargo stored upon them. He also knew his orders had him sailing for Japan, which was not an uncommon destination for the "black boats" of the German U-boat fleet.

"Black boats" meaning U-boats involved in transporting special cargos of uranium, mercury, weapons technology etc to Japan, and often bringing gold bullion back as payment to Germany. U-180 had been used in a well documented secret mission to transport Indian nationalist politicians to a Japanese sub for delivery to India earlier in the war, but her Mercedes engines were too loud and left an oil trail to be used again. She was mothballed, but then brought back having her engines pulled, new engines added, a state of the art snorkel and radar installed, and other modifications which improved her operations significantly. As he left Bordeaux on that August day, Riesen had no idea of the horror and betrayal that lay in wait for him from members of his own crew - many of them had no idea either.

U-180 left port with three other U-boats bound for Japan. They had an escort ship on the surface to protect them from sudden air or naval attack. Shortly after they submerged the escort ship reported that all U-boats had cleared the minefield and were en route. So far so good. However, just as the voyage started Riesen was confronted in private by MtrOGfr Helmut Hantschel. Riesen had befriended Hantschel, as much as a U-boat Captain would, he trusted the young man. They were all young men to Riesen as he was considered an old man in the U-boat service. What Riesen didn't know was young Hantschel was not a naval officer. His real name wasn't even Hantschel. He was, in fact, an SS officer acting under direct orders from Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler. His mission: take control of the U-180, and its cargo of uranium, and deliver it to the Americans at the Goose Bay Air Force base in Labrador, Canada. A grand plan to resettle Nazis after the war had been launched by Hitler's number one man, Martin Bormann. Bormann gave the order to Himmler, and Himmler gave the order directly to Hantschel.

Hantschel, for his part, was a fanatic Nazi with an almost psychopathic obsession with power. This was a dream mission for him, and he gladly accepted even though he had never been on a U-boat before. The confrontation between Riesen and Hantschel was nothing less than the deliberate killing of the Captain. Hantschel took a large knife from the sub's galley and plunged it in one single stroke through Riesen's heart. Riesen died almost immediately. As only a portion of the crew were aware of the plan to take over U-180, the killing needed to be kept secret to maintain order on the boat. To do this Hantschel used his experiences as a medic with the SS to carve Riesen into pieces. His remains were then placed in the rear torpedo tube and the Captain was expunged into the sea. And so begins the deliberate mutiny of U-180.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the absence of the Captain was kept under guard for days afterward. Days later three crew members suffered the same fate as they challenged the mutineers over the Captain's disappearance and the ship's mission. Most of the crew was unaware that the U-boat was heading for Canada rather than Japan. That was the way Hantschel and his mutineers wanted it kept. It was impossible to operate the U-boat over the trans Atlantic voyage without the various expertise of those on board, and complete discipline and control was absolutely necessary for success. It had to be a well oiled machine.

However, just a day before U-180 was to arrive at its destination in Labrador, a major battle broke out between the crew that was loyal to the mutineers and those that hadn't realized their mission had changed. In this one altercation, approximately half the crew were killed. Of an original crew of 56, only 24 were left now. Given the close proximity to the Goose Bay base, and wanting to remain submerged, the dead crew were left on the U-boat. Shortly after this final battle among the crew, Hantschel happened across a Canadian destroyer fishing with dynamite off the town Rigolet. read the media story here Years later, a then renamed Hantschel ( now Ernst Oscar Henschel) would relay to a sailor on that boat how he watched them fish with dynamite through his periscope. At that time Hantschel, or Henschel as he was then known, was a doctor in the Saskatchewan community of Prince Albert. Having been refused entry into the US after the war due to his "service" in the SS, Henschel emigrated to Canada at first.

U-180 then made its way up Lake Melville to a predesignated position just out to shore from the Goose Bay Air Force base. It was nighttime, and pitch black. The U-boat surfaced, and dispatched a dingy, with wooden crates, to a small supply/maintenance dock just south of the base (the dock no longer exists). There it was met by armed US servicemen. In the confusion and tension of the moment, 2 of the German U-boat men were shot to death by a US soldier when they made sudden moves he wasn't expecting. The uranium was eventually completely transferred. In accordance with the original plan given to him back in Germany, Hantschel and the remaining crew took the U-boat up the Churchill River on the surface. They used only their electric engines to power the boat to remain quiet in transit. However, even with these precautions they were heard and spotted by two Innu hunters in the area.

At the predesignated location, just south of Muskrat Falls, the crew scuttled U-180 in accordance with standard operating procedures of the German U-boat fleet. Charges were placed at the bow, rear, and centre of the boat. The dead crew members from the battle amongst the crew the day before, and the newly killed members from the supply dock, were left on board the U-boat as she sunk. However, even the scuttling didn't go well as two men were killed and two injured during the scuttling process. By the end of the mission only 15 crew members of the original 56 had survived.

The survivors of U-180, with the exception of Hantschel and a few others, were forced to stay in North America. Hantschel and the others were transported back to Germany to confirm the mission was successful. Ironically, Hantschel is shown graduating from Charles University of Prague, medical school, just six months later. He ended his career in medicine back in the United States as professor and chairman of the Medical College of Wisconsin, and has an annual award named after him. read here (notice the brief reference to his service in the German Navy) His wife, who he met in London in 1950, also became a well known doctor in the area. Today only two survivors of the horror and treachery that was U-180 are still alive. Both are now old men in their late 90's. One still has a keen mind, but the other unfortunately does not. The keen minded survivor was a fellow officer who loyally served under Captain Riesen, but as a young officer he was terrified to turn against the mutineers - with good reason as the history shows. He now lives with deep remorse and nightmares about his experience on U-180.

In the end, although the seizing of U-180 was a preplanned operation by the highest levels of the Nazi Party and the SS, the attempt to use the uranium as a bargaining chip with the Allies was apparently unsuccessful. The US double crossed their German partners, but got the uranium in any case for the Manhattan Project. U-180 remains unexplored on a sandy river bank near Muskrat Falls as a ghostly reminder of human tragedy, the ruthlessness of the dark world of Nazi Germany, and almost the last bit of evidence that the Germans and the Americans had cut a deal for uranium while still at war with each other in Europe. Meanwhile, the families of the men lost in U-180 have no idea what really happened to them on that dark voyage during the dying days of the war. Perhaps it may have been better that way, but for the necessity to observe the significant historical moment the wreck of the U-180 represents. It is the truth of the matter that counts now. It has been 75 years since U-180 sunk in Labrador's waters, yet the Government of Canada will still not release what documents they have on the matter. The grounds for the refusal - "releasing the information may cause harm or embarrassment to an ally." It was always hard to fathom how such an old story, and a forgotten wreck, could cause injury and/or embarrassment to an ally, but given the truth of what really happened to U-180 and its uranium cargo, well, perhaps it should.



Here are my previous stories on the U-boat wreck of Muskrat Falls:

Updated - Evidence of the Muskrat Falls U-boat Wreck
http://rocksolidpolitics.blogspot.ca/2016/06/the-evidence-of-muskrat-falls-u-boat.html

The Muskrat Falls U-boat Cover Up - emails
http://rocksolidpolitics.blogspot.ca/2016/07/the-muskrat-falls-u-boat-cover-up-emails_65.html