By GAR SMITH
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
with added pictures, captions and brief commentary
Some people think America a great country.
Others see it as a loony bin whose rulers belong in padded cells.
Top Russian officials are concerned that a bill passed by the US Congress will do more than increase sanctions on North Korea. Moscow claims H.R. 1644 violates its sovereignty and constitutes an “act of war.”
On May 4, 2017, House Resolution 1644, the innocently named “Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act,” was quickly passed by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 419-1 and it was just as quickly labeled an “act of war” by a top Russian official.
What caught the eye of Russian critics was Section 104, the part of the bill that presumed to grant the US “inspection authorities” over shipping ports (and major airports) far beyond the Korean Peninsula – specifically, ports in China, Russia, Syria, and Iran.
The bill identifies more than 20 foreign targets for intrusive American inspection, including two ports in China, ten ports in Iran, three ports in Syria as well as Damascus International Airport, and three ports in Russia.
Under the proposed law, the US Secretary of Homeland Security could use the National Targeting Center’s Automated Targeting System to search ANY ship, plane, or conveyance that has “entered the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea, or landed in any of the sea ports or airports of North Korea.” Any vessel, aircraft, or vehicle found in violation of this US law — [including Russian and Chinese ships] — would be subject to “seizure and forfeiture.”
“I hope this bill will never be implemented,” Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Russian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Sputnik News, “because its implementation envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships. Such a power scenario is beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war.”
“No country in the world, no international organization, has authorized the US to monitor implementation of any resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Kosachev observed.
Kosachev’s Upper House colleague, Alexey Pushkov, underscored this concern. “It is absolutely unclear how the bill will be implemented,” Pushkov stated. “To control Russian ports, the US will have to introduce a blockade and inspect all ships, which amounts to an act of war.”
Pushkov argued that the lopsided 419-1 vote “indicates the nature of the legal and political culture of the US Congress.”
Andrey Krasov, the First Deputy Head of the Defense Committee in Russia’s Lower House, greeted news of the US move with a mixture of disbelief and indignation:
“Why on Earth did America assume these responsibilities? Who gave it such powers to control the seaports of our country? Neither Russia nor international organizations asked Washington to do so. One can only answer that any unfriendly step by the US administration against Russia and our allies will receive a symmetrical adequate response.
IN ANY CASE, NO AMERICAN SHIP WILL ENTER OUR WATERS. OUR ARMED FORCES AND OUR FLEET HAVE EVERY MEANS TO SEVERELY PUNISH THOSE WHO WILL DARE TO ENTER OUR TERRITORIAL WATERS. (Emphasis added)
America claims it has the right to invade Russian territorial waters and forcibly inspect ships in Vladistock and two other Russian ports. (See map above). There is no doubt whatever that this amounts to an act of war. Surely Russia would then have the right to bomb US air carriers in retaliation? (LD)
Krasov suggested that Washington’s “saber-rattling” was another sign that the US has no interest in accommodating other members of the world community – especially rivals like China and Russia. “These are heavyweights which, in principle, do not fit into the US’s overall concept on governing and ruling the whole world.”
Vladimir Baranov, a Russian ferry line operator whose vessels ply the waters between Vladivostok and the North Korean port city of Rajin, told Sputnik News that “the US physically cannot control Russian ports – you have to visit the Port Authority, demand documents, that sort of thing. This is essentially a bluff by the US, an attempt to show that it controls the world.”
Alexander Latkin, a professor from the Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service, was similarly skeptical: “How could the US control our ports operations? It might have been possible if the US possessed a percentage of the port’s equity but, as far as I know, all of the shareholders are Russian. It is essentially a political move by the US. The Americans don’t have any legal or economic basis for controlling our ports.”
Adding to the growing uncertainty over rising US/Russia tensions, top Russian military officials have expressed alarm over signs that the Pentagon is making preparations for a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia.
— § —
On March 28, 2017, Lt. Gen. Victor Poznihir, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, warned that the placement of US anti-ballistic missiles near Russia’s borders “creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia.” He repeated this concern again on April 26, when he alerted the Moscow International Security Conference that the Russian General Staff’s Operations Command is convinced Washington is preparing to exercise the “nuclear option.”
This terrifying news went virtually unnoted by the US media. On May 11, columnist Paul Craig Roberts (a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan and former associate editor of The Wall Street Journal) cited Poznihir’s comments in a clearly agitated blog post.
According to Roberts, a Google search revealed that this “most alarming of all announcements” had only been reported in a single US publication – the Times-Gazette of Ashland, Ohio. Roberts was alarmed to discover that no “US senator or representative or any European, Canadian, or Australian politician has raised a voice of concern that the West was now preparing for a first strike on Russia” nor had anyone reached out to “ask Putin how this serious situation could be defused.”
“Never in my life have I experienced the situation where two nuclear powers [Russia and China] were convinced that the third was going to surprise them with a nuclear attack,” Roberts wrote. Despite this existential threat, Roberts notes, there has been “zero awareness and no discussion” of the growing risks.
“Putin has been issuing warnings for years,” Roberts writes. “Putin has said over and over, ‘I issue warnings and no one hears. How do I get through to you?’”
THIS PICTURE SAYS IT ALL
IS AMERICA ON THE PATH TO SUICIDE?
The US Senate now has a critical role to play.
The bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The committee has an opportunity to acknowledge the grave risks created by H.R. 1644 and make sure that no companion bill ever makes it to the Senate floor.
If this ill-conceived legislation is allowed to survive, our survival — and the survival of millions of others – cannot be guaranteed.
LD: A new word is now being used to describe America by millions of people in China: the word “baizuo“, a derogatory term expressing contempt for “ignorant and arrogant westerners who pity the rest of the world and think they are saviors.”
The word is frequently applied to America’s ruling class: its liberal elites who look down on their own people and treat them as cannon fodder for endless wars on behalf of a foreign country in the Middle East whose chief raison d’être appears to be land grabbing and world domination.
That the US House of Representatives should vote 419 to 1 for invading Russian territorial waters, in what clearly amounts to an act of war, is all the proof we need that 419 out of 420 American politicians are not altogether sane.
It looks like the patients have taken over the asylum.