Posts tagged "War"

Right on, Nancy Pelosi! 

h/t: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM LiveWire

thepoliticalfreakshow:

DONETSK, Ukraine — Was the stabbing death of a 22-year-old man here on Thursday night a horrific incident resulting from the passion of protest — or was it due to deliberate provocations from Russia? No one in this eastern Ukrainian city knows the answer, and that’s why they’re all on edge.

Some think the man’s death, coming at the tail end of a protest between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia activists, can be blamed on unrest stirred by Moscow, seeing it as the next step in its designs on the country, following its occupation of the Crimean peninsula. The man died from stab wounds sustained after pro-Russia demonstrators attacked their rivals, in jarring violence that left at least 17 more people injured, some critically.

“The same forces that provoked the intervention in Crimea are trying to do the same here in Donetsk,” said Nikolai Yacubovich, an advisor to Ukraine’s minister of police and the head of a local group of pro-Ukraine activists who have organized themselves for what they call civil defense. “Nobody knows how serious the threat is.”

Yacubovich puzzled over reports that police stood idly by as the attack unfolded. Were the cops just afraid — or was their inaction part of something bigger? “We cannot explain why the police did that,” he said.

With reports of Russian military amassing on the country’s western border with Ukraine, fears that the Kremlin could move into the east have grown. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, reserved the right to deploy throughout the country in war powers he sought from Russian lawmakers late last month. And early Friday, the Russian foreign ministry issued a harsh statement and flipped Thursday night’s events on their head, claiming that the fatal attack — the first in this city — had been initiated by “right-wing groups” against a peaceful pro-Russia side. The statement concluded with a warning: “Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of compatriots and fellow citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take people under its protection.”

As in much of Ukraine’s east, there are close ties to Russia here — in language, in culture, in business and in extended family. The fear is that Russia will use the same pretext to send in troops — that of protecting the locals said to self-identify with it — as it did in invading Crimea.

The fears extend beyond Russia and Ukraine. A senior diplomat based in the region for a NATO power said he believed Russia could stir tensions or send troops into eastern Ukraine if the crisis continued much longer. “It’s not a chess game — it’s more like a game of chicken,” the diplomat said. “Both sides are trying to pressure each other into stepping back.”

Echoing the concerns of many in Donetsk, he expected the crisis to reach a head on Sunday, when Crimea holds its disputed referendum on joining Russia. “After a certain amount of time you can no longer find a face-saving formula — or an off-ramp, as the Americans are calling it,” he said. “And in the mean time, we are seeing, as yesterday, provocations in eastern Ukraine that could develop into a possible trigger.”

Signs of this tension are on full display in Donetsk. Konstantin Lavrov, the leader of a local civil defense group, said he fully expected an invasion — and spoke of responding with violence. He also ticked off the unproved rumors that have made many activists in the city increasingly suspicious of the pro-Russia camp ahead of a large march it has planned for Saturday: people with Russian accents pouring into the city; misbehaving on public transportation; struggling to buy a ticket for the trolley. “You don’t need to be a military analyst to see how many Russian troops are gathered near the Russian-Ukrainian border here. But the plan is the destabilization of the whole situation first,” he said. “Our country is in a great danger at the moment, even though it might look like things are calm.”

As one activist put it after Thursday night’s violence, which badly shook many in Donetsk: “I feel like someone is playing his cruel games with us.”

Speaking in London on Friday after a five-hour meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov said Russia had no plans to invade eastern Ukraine. Russia has also denied having troops in Crimea, and has presented all its actions in Ukraine as motivated by humanitarian concerns.

Donetsk’s new authorities — appointed only recently after the government in Kiev fell following month of sustained protests — were scrambling to get a handle on the crisis. On his first day on the job on Wednesday, before the deadly attack, Nikolai Frantovsky, the city’s chief prosecutor, said he suspected that some officials from the old government had collaborated with the Russians. He said he and his colleagues would be working to root out conspirators who hadn’t already been replaced. Frantovsky said he worried Donetsk would face a scenario like Crimea — “prepared well in advance, and the authorities let it happen.”

Amid the competing factions in Donetsk, Alexander Kruschev, an official with a local NGO, said: “I have never seen our civil servants so scared.”

Alexander Efremov, a senior regional official with the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU), the country’s national agency focused on anti-terrorism and intelligence, said in an interview Friday that the city’s pro-Russia movement had been small and scattered before the momentous events of last month. But after protesters toppled the government in Kiev, many in Donetsk became suspicious of its Western sympathies, and a counter-movement quickly grew.

Efremov said he believed it was likely helped along by Russian agents. “We are investigating the appearance of members of the Federal Security Service [the SBU’s Russian counterpart] who are engaging in shadow activity and meeting with citizens around the Donetsk region,” he said.

Their purpose, he said, was to instigate protests, and to make “the promise of Russian support [for these groups], as in Crimea.” 

Efremov also said that members of the Russian parliament had met with pro-Russia activists in Donetsk, and that citizens from the nearby Russian region of Rostov-on-Don had likewise been collaborating with these activists. He presented an information sheet on Pavel Gubarev, a local activist who had been calling for a referendum to join Russia, and whom the SBU arrested on charges of separatism last week.

He also said that the SBU had arrested one Russian man in Donetsk that it believed to be a spy: “We have some proof, but he is not saying anything to us at the moment.”

These are the kind of charges that Donetsk’s pro-Russia activists deny — for the most part, at least. Andrei Porgin, the co-founder of Donetsk Republic, one of the pro-Russia groups against whom opponents often cast suspicions of conspiracy, said his group had never taken money or direction from Russia. “The only support we’ve received is moral support, in the Russian media,” he said.

As to accusations of Russian citizens helping to fill out the ranks of the pro-Russia demonstrations: “Maybe there are 20 or 50, but they don’t make the weather.”

Porgin said there were more hardline pro-Russia groups in Donetsk than his, and that he supported decentralizing power from Kiev, not joining Russia. But if Russian troops came to Donetsk, he added, “I would be calm.”

“The Russians are acting according to their own interests and own security questions,” he said. “If the situation gets worse here, it will impact Russia, so Russia would be forced to react.”

As Irina Popova, a deputy in the regional government from Ukraine’s Communist Party, put it: “The Russians are not our enemies. We will not fight against them. If they will come, they will come. We consider them our family.”

Popova has been accused of being a separatist, but like Porgin said she wants only federalism. Most of those who were looking to Russia in Donetsk, she said, did so because they felt threatened. “The government in Kiev is the question. The West is the question,” she said. “Russia is a consequence. When people are afraid and have nowhere to turn, they ask the assistance of Russia.”

Source: Mike Giglio for Buzzfeed

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The US conceded on Sunday that Moscow had “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula” and announced that the secretary of state, John Kerry, will fly to Kiev in an attempt to halt a further Russian advance into Ukraine.

Senior US officials dismissed claims that Washington is incapable of exerting influence on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but were forced to admit that Crimea had been successfully invaded by 6,000 airborne and ground troops in what could be the start of a wider invasion.

“They are flying in reinforcements and they are settling in,” one senior official said. Another senior official said: “Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.”

On Monday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had discussed Ukraine with his Chinese counterpart and their views coincided on the situation there.

Lavrov said in a statement that the two veto-wielding UN security council members would stay in close contact on the issue. 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian border guards reported a buildup of armoured vehicles near a ferry port on the Russian side of the Kerch Channel – a narrow sea channel dividing Russia and the Ukraine. A statement from the guard spokesperson said Russian ships had also been moving in and around the city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked telephone services in some areas.

Although President Barack Obama’s administration called for Putin to withdraw troops to Russian military bases on the peninsula, its objective appeared to have shifted to using political and economic threats to prevent any further military incursion.

One senior official said the major decision facing Putin was whether to “continue to escalate troop movements into other parts of Ukraine”.

“We’ve already seen the intervention in Crimea,” the official said. “It would be even further destabilising to expand that intervention into eastern Ukraine.”

The official added: “Our bottom line is they had to pull back from what they’ve already done, go back into their bases in Crimea. We’ll be watching very, very carefully of course and will be very, very concerned if we saw further escalation into eastern Ukraine.”

Kerry will fly to Kiev on Tuesday, to meet Ukraine’s new government and display “strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty”, a state department official said. However, in Washington there were mounting questions, particularly from Republican opponents of the administration, about the influence Kerry and other officials have over Moscow.

Kerry, Obama and other senior officials spent the last 24 hours frantically attempting to rally an international coalition of countries to condemn Moscow over the Crimea invasion, and commit to economic sanctions in order to prevent a further advance into other pro-Russian parts of Ukraine.

Obama spoke by phone with the British prime minister, David Cameron, Polish president Bronisław Komorowski and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“We are concerned as we watch this situation that the Russians have badly miscalculated,” one of the senior officials said. “There is a very fierce and proud tradition in Ukraine of defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity. So far Ukraine has showed, and Ukrainians individually have showed, marked restraint … but the longer this situation goes on, the more delicate it becomes.”

Earlier on Sunday, Kerry told CBS leading western nations were prepared to enact economic sanctions against Russia over what he called an “incredible act of aggression”.

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” Kerry said. “It is really a stunning, wilful choice by President Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations.”

Asked how the US and its allies might respond, Kerry stressed the economic harm that could befall Russia if it continued its occupation of Crimea, but repeatedly said “all options” were under consideration.

However, in a conference call with reporters later on Sunday, three senior US administration officials made clear that the “menu” of options before the White House does not include military action.

“Frankly, our goal is to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, not to have a military escalation,” one of the officials said. “I don’t think we’re focused right now on the notion of some US military intervention. I don’t think that would be an effective way to de-escalate the situation.”

During the call, which last almost an hour, the officials said they were looking to provide Russia with “off-ramps” that would enable Putin to reverse his course, and were applying pressure through a broad international coalition that had agreed to to ostracise Moscow.

That process has begun with major powers pulling out of preparatory meetings ahead of the G8 summit which is due to be hosted in Sochi in June, as well as the cancellation of other trade-related meetings with Russia planned for this week. In effect, Russia is being threatened with expulsion from the G8 group of countries, unless it withdraws from Ukraine.

That will quickly escalate to possible sanctions, including potential visa and banking restrictions targeting Russians close to Putin. Currently, the US is reviewing “all of our economic and trade cooperation with the Russian Federation”, one official said, and all 28 members of Nato were planning to sign up to a single statement, strongly condemning Moscow.

Obama Putin phone callPresident Barack Obama talks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph: The White House/Getty Images

“He [Putin] is not going to have a Sochi G8, he may not even remain in the G8 if this continues,” Kerry told NBC earlier in the day. “He may find himself with asset freezes, on Russian business, American business may pull back, there may be a further tumble of the ruble.”

The Obama administration is also working with the European Union and International Monetary Fund to fast-track a package of financial aid and loans, in order to shore-up Ukraine’s economy.

The officials argued that Russia had miscalculated by invading Ukraine and effectively conquering the Crimean peninsula. What US officials described as the Russian “intervention” was likely to bolster “the people of Ukraine’s desire to reorient towards Europe”, an official said.

Another senior official said: “When it comes to soft power, the power of attraction, Vladimir Putin has no game. So he’s left with hard power and it’s a very dangerous game to play.”

However, the senior officials sounded flustered as they struggled with accusations from reporters that Obama had shown himself to be powerless in the face of Russian aggression.

On Friday, Obama made a forceful public address, warning Putin that there would be “costs” if Russia intervened in Ukraine. On Saturday he spent 90 minutes on the phone with the Russian leader, ultimately failing to dissuade him from taking military action.

Asked if Obama had a “credibility problem”, one senior official replied: “The premise of your question is he [Putin] is strong and [the] president of the United States is weak. He [Putin] is not acting from a position of strength right now.”

The official added: “You’re seeing the ability of the United States to bring with us … the rest of the G7 countries, the rest of Nato, and frankly the large majority of the world in condemning this action.”

America must move off a permanent war footing.
Obama at #SOTU2014. 

(via On CBS’s Face The Nation, Marco Rubio Accuses Obama Of ‘Emboldening The Taliban’)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday charged President Barack Obama with “emboldening the Taliban,” citing details from a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harshly criticizes the president’s leadership in the war in Afghanistan.

"I don’t think we can ignore what’s in that book, and I think for many of us it confirms our worst fears," Rubio said on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "And that is that this is an administration full of people that either have the wrong convictions or, in the case of former Secretary Clinton, lack the courage of her convictions."

Rubio pointed to parts of Gates’ book that suggest Obama didn’t feel that the war in Afghanistan was his war, and that his decision to pull out troops was political.

"You saw that reflected in the decision that [Obama] made," Rubio continued. "At the same time that he announced the surge, he also announced an exit date and strategy, thereby emboldening the Taliban to believe they could wait us out.”

The Florida senator, whose name has been floated as a 2016 presidential contender, said Obama’s actions on Afghanistan have had international repercussions.

"Our allies see us as unreliable, and our enemies feel emboldened," Rubio said. "I think that this confirms our worst fears, that this is an administration that lacks a strategic foreign policy and, in fact, is largely driven by politics and tactics."

holygoddamnshitballs:

image

WASHINGTON — When a less-gray-haired Sen. Barack Obama declared, early in his first presidential campaign, that he would be willing to meet with the leaders of estranged nations like Iran and Syria without preconditions, he was roundly chastised by both Democrats and Republicans alike for naivete.

But now, after six arduous, solitary years of standing by a policy of preferring accord with rogue nations over recourse to full-on war, his approach seems to be on the verge of bearing fruit.

In Syria, President Bashar Assad has agreed to open his chemical weapons program to international oversight, and eventual destruction, after a furious round of diplomacy involving Secretary of State John Kerry and top Russian diplomats. And in Iran, a new, moderate president has responded to a personal letter from Obama, engaging in direct communication for the first time in years and hinting that he might be willing to pull back from his country’s controversial nuclear program in exchange for a reduction of painful economic sanctions.

None of the developments has occurred without context or notes of caution, but it’s nevertheless a remarkable turn of events for a president whose foreign policy, even a month ago, appeared to be in hapless disarray. If the diplomatic tracks in Syria and Iran pan out, proponents say they could point the way to the resolution of two of the most significant international crises facing the nation, without any American-caused warfare.

"The administration’s willingness to show both strength and smarts is paying off," said Joel Rubin, the director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund and a former State Department official, who has worked to promote conflict resolution in the Middle East through discourse.

"On Syria, the president demonstrated that there was a clear point that he did not want the regime to pass, and then took a window of opportunity to cut a deal that actually advances American security interests even more," Rubin added. "An ancillary benefit has been that it’s demonstrated to the Iranians that the U.S. is thinking before it’s shooting, and that’s a pretty new trend for the U.S."

Next week, the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, travels to New York for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). His arrival brings perhaps the greatest hope for a diplomatic breakthrough between Washington and Tehran in recent memory, and in turn, a possible vindication of Obama’s refusal to condone military strikes against the country.

While I voted for President Obama twice (2008, 2012) and support most of his policies, I think he is misguided on the handling of #Syria, with the exception of making Congress vote on whether or not to go to war or not with them. I understand that Bashar Al-Assad is a horrible Pinochet-esque man, but the US does NOT need to go into Syria. 

addictinginfo:

House GOP Tells President They’ll Worry About Syria After They Come Back From Vacation

House Republicans have been ranting and raving all week about the President’s position on military…

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reuters:

Americans want the U.S. to keep out of Syria conflictMost Americans do not want the United States to intervene in Syria’s civil war even if the government there uses chemical weapons, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Wednesday, in a clear message to the White House as it considers how to respond to the worsening crisis.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed in the online poll said the United States should become involved in the fighting. Sixty-one percent opposed getting involved.

The figure favoring intervention rose to 27 percent when respondents were asked what the United States should do if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons. Forty-four percent would be opposed.

“Particularly given Afghanistan and the 10th anniversary of Iraq, there is just not an appetite for intervention,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

The rebellion against Assad’s government has resulted in 70,000 dead and created more than 1.2 million refugees since it erupted in 2011.

Continue reading about the Syrian civil war and American sentiment.

Photo: a Syrian boy plays with an AK-47 rifle owned by his father. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday afternoon that President Obama is preparing plans to send lethal weapons to rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

While the U.S. believes that chemical weapons have been used in Syria’s civil war, Obama said during a press conference on Tuesday that “we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them.” Noting that he has said chemical weapons use would be a “game changer” in terms of escalating American involvement in Syria, Obama added, “When I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts.”

The Post reports that Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday and is dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow in a bid to convince Putin to abandon his support for Assad.

h/t:  Think Progress

How this all began

The current crisis in Syria began in 2011, with civilian protests launched during a wave of pro-democracy sentiment known as the Arab Spring. Those protests were met with harsh repression from the Syrian government under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s regime continued to crackdown on protesters, eventually resorting to massive human rights abuses including torture, disappearances, extrajudicial executions and detention of medical patients. In response, civilians began to take up arms against the Syrian government, transforming a peaceful movement to increase democratic freedoms into an all-out civil war. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 70,000 Syrians have died.

Who’s doing the fighting

Over the past two years, the make-up of the Syrian opposition has shifted considerably. In the beginning, the opposition was composed mostly of civil society leaders and Syrian citizens with a small armed group taking shape across the border in Turkey. Since then, the rebels have spawned an entire network of loosely affiliated groups fighting against the Assad regime — and each other at times. Instead of hiding across the border, rebels now openly control a large swath of territory in the north and west of the country as the Syrian government continues to push back.

While many of the rebel groups are secular, recent months have shown an influx of foreign fighters into the country, seeking to impose a harsh version of Islam upon Syria once the Assad regime falls. The U.S. has labeled one such group — Jabhat al-Nusra — a terrorist group for itsclose ties to Al Qaeda. These murky connections between the rebels and jihadis have proved difficult for Western governments seeking to effect the situation on the ground.

The effect on the Syrian people and the region

As time wore on in the conflict, the Syrian government unleashed more and greater violencewas against civilians, including the use of armored vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft and mortars against whole neighborhoods. Making matters worse, rebels are now accused of taking part in atrocities as well.

This has all led to a massive humanitarian crisis in Syria and the surrounding region. As of March, more than one million Syrians have fled into the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, placing a massive strain on those states’ governments. According to the United Nations, over 4.25 million Syrians are now internally displaced within the country.

Did Syria use chemical weapons?

Whether or not the Syrian government utilized chemical weapons against its people is the primary reason Syria has exploded back into the news. Last week, the United States announced that it has evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, namely sarin. That revelation comes with several caveats, however: the chain of custody of the evidence the U.S. has isn’t clear, nor is exactly how the samples obtained were exposed to the chemical. The U.S. government has also not declared definitively whether or not it was the Assad regime that used sarin, an act that would cross a “red-line” the administration set forth as an action that would spur greater intervention.

The United States’ response

The Obama administration has declared several times that the Assad regime’s days are numbered and that the Syrian president must go. So far, however, the United States has stuck with its policy of providing humanitarian aid — more than $385 million worth to date — to Syria’s civilians and providing “non-lethal aid” to the opposition. That includes a recent decision to provide items such as night-vision goggles and bullet-proof vests to the rebels. The United States is also heavily involved in coordinating the flow of weapons to Syria from Gulf states while not providing such arms itself.

The question that remains is whether a greater U.S. intervention is necessary, and if so in what form. The range of possible responses under consideration range from directly providing armsto the Syrian opposition to establishing a No-Fly Zone in Syria to protect civilians and give the rebels cover to operate. The debate does not evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, with members on both sides advocating for swift action in Syria and members of both partiesurging caution in proceeding forward. Even hawks like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), however, arecoming out against the idea of American boots being on the ground in Syria.

The current policy towards Syria does not appear to be in the U.S.’ best interests, however. “It is time for a change in policy,” CAP experts said in a report on the situation in Syria released in February. “The United States needs to increase its assistance to the Syrian opposition with the goal of supporting an alternative opposition government that is better organized than at present.” Several CAP experts also last week released a series of recommended courses of action for the U.S. to lead the way in responding to the Assad regime’s possible use of chemical weapons. Such actions include coordinating with NATO and regional allies to provide a major humanitarian aid push for Syrian refugees and calling an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to put the onus on Russia to stand by the Syrian regime publicly in the aftermath of a likely chemical weapons attack.

h/t: Think Progress Security

(CNN) — North Korea’s leader approved a plan to prepare standby rockets to hit U.S. targets, state media said Friday, after American stealth bombers carried out a practice mission over South Korea.

In a meeting with military leaders early Friday, Kim Jong Un, “said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation,” the state-run KCNA news agency reported.

The rockets are aimed at at U.S. targets, including military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, state media reported.

"If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, [we] should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea," KCNA reported.

Analysis: Just what is Kim Jong Un up to?

North Korean state media carried a photo of Kim meeting with military officials Friday. In the photo, the young leader is seated, leafing through documents with four uniformed officers standing around him.

On the wall behind them, a map entitled “Plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S.” appears to show straight lines stretching across to the Pacific to points on the continental United States.

South Korea and the United States are “monitoring any movements of North Korea’s short, middle and middle-to-long range missiles,” South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesman Kim Min-seok said Friday.

The fact is that despite the bombast, and unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea’s strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed,” James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, wrote in an opinion column published Thursday on CNN.com.

North Korea’s latest threat Friday morning came after the United States said Thursday that it flew stealth bombers over South Korea in annual military exercises.

The mission by the B-2 Spirit bombers, which can carry conventional and nuclear weapons, “demonstrates the United States’ ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will,” a statement from U.S. Forces Korea said.

The North Korean state news agency described the mission as “an ultimatum that they (the United States) will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula.”

The North has repeatedly claimed that the exercises are tantamount to threats of nuclear war against it.

But the U.S. military stressed that the bombers flew in exercises to preserve peace in the region.

"The United States is steadfast in its alliance commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea, to deterring aggression, and to ensuring peace and stability in the region," the statement from U.S. Forces Korea said, using South Korea’s official name. "The B-2 bomber is an important element of America’s enduring and robust extended deterrence capability in the Asia-Pacific region."

The disclosure of the B-2 flights comes a day after North Korea said it was cutting a key military hotline with South Korea, provoking fresh expressions of concern from U.S. officials about Pyongyang’s recent rhetoric.

Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in December and an underground nuclear test last month, prompting the U.N. Security Council to step up sanctions on the secretive regime.

The deteriorating relations have killed hopes of reviving multilateral talks over North Korea’s nuclear program for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Pyongyang has declared that the subject is no longer up for discussion.

On Tuesday, the North said it planned to place military units tasked with targeting U.S. bases under combat-ready status.

Most observers say North Korea is still years away from having the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, but it does have plenty of conventional military firepower, including medium-range ballistic missiles that can carry high explosives for hundreds of miles.

Little said Thursday that the United States was keeping a close eye on North Korea’s missile capabilities.

H/T: CNN.com

(via Fox Host Eric Bolling: “Iraq ‘The Smartest Thing’ Bush Did, ‘Restored Confidence’ In U.S.” (VIDEO) | TPM LiveWire)

Fox News commentator Eric Bolling on Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq by arguing that launching the unpopular war was “the smartest thing George Bush did.”

Bolling, a co-host of Fox’s evening program “The Five,” began by establishing the premise that late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “was a bad guy” who had openly threatened to to invade Kuwait in 1990. Co-host Bob Beckel then pointed out that Hussein did launch an invasion and occupation of Kuwait, a correction that annoyed but didn’t deter Bolling.

Bolling then got back on track, asserting that deposing Hussein was a no-brainer and an unassailable decision by Bush.

It wasn’t the first time Bolling presented a dubious history of the Iraq War. In January, he took to Twitter to justify the 2003 invasion was justified because Hussein “financed” the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

nbcnews:

Iraq, 10 years on: Did invasion bring ‘hope and progress’ to millions as Bush vowed?

(Photos top to bottom, left to right: NBC News, IAVA, Maya Alleruzzo / AP)

When the administration of President George W. Bush planned the invasion of Iraq, hopes ran high that the massive deployment of troops and money wouldn’t just result in the toppling of Saddam Hussein: The United States would help create a country that stood as an example to others. 

Read the complete story.

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