Sunday, November 8, 2015

U.S.: Russia, China Threaten Global Order, Secret Military Operations Divert LAX Planes

We're having some trouble with the links today, but the stories below are pretty widely circulated and easy to find:

Carter Says Russia, China Potentially Threaten Global Order

Secretary Ash Carter on Saturday accused Russia of endangering world order, citing its incursions in Ukraine and loose talk about nuclear weapons, and said the U.S. defense establishment is searching for creative ways to deter Russian aggression and protect U.S. allies.

Carter also expressed concern about China's expanding influence and growing military might, but he reserved his stronger words for Russia in his remarks to the Reagan National Defense Forum. National security experts and defense officials attended the gathering at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Carter said Russia is undertaking "challenging activities" at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace.

His remarks were perhaps the strongest he has expressed about America's former Cold War foe.
"We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot, war with Russia," he said. "We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all."

The backdrop to Carter's remarks is the reality that after more than two decades of dominating great-power relations, the United States is seeing Russia reassert itself and China expand its military influence beyond its own shores. Together these trends are testing American preeminence and its stewardship of the world order.

He accused Russia of stirring trouble in Europe and the Middle East.
"In Europe, Russia has been violating sovereignty in Ukraine and Georgia and actively trying to intimidate the Baltic states," he said. "Meanwhile, in Syria, Russia is throwing gasoline on an already dangerous fire, prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism Russia claims to oppose."
Carter made clear that Russia is at the forefront of Washington's concern about evolving security threats.
"We are adapting our operational posture and contingency plans as we - on our own and with allies - work to deter Russia's aggression, and to help reduce the vulnerability of allies and partners," he said.

Russia under President Vladimir Putin is challenging the U.S. in many arenas, including the Arctic, where last year Moscow said it was reopening 10 former Soviet-era military bases along the Arctic seaboard that were closed after the Cold War ended in 1991. Russia also is flying more long-range air patrols off U.S. shores.
Carter left open the possibility that Russia's role in Syria could evolve into one the U.S. can embrace.
"It is possible - we'll see - Russia may play a constructive role in resolving the civil war," he said.

In a question-and-answer session with his audience, Carter said he believes Putin "hasn't thought through very thoroughly" his objectives in Syria. He called the Russian approach there "way off track."
In his speech, Carter said the U.S. will take a balanced approach by working with Moscow when productive and appropriate.

As Russia makes what Carter characterized as threatening statements about its potential use of nuclear weapons, the U.S. is modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal - not only the submarines, bomber aircraft and land-based missiles that are armed with long-range nuclear weapons, but also the weapons themselves.
"We're investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia's provocations, such as new unmanned systems, a new long-range bomber, and innovation in technologies like the electromagnetic railgun, lasers and new systems for electronic warfare, space and cyberspace, including a few surprising ones I really can't describe here," he said.

Carter said China is the single most influential player in Asia's future, and he noted that earlier this week he went aboard an American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea to demonstrate U.S. commitment to freedom of navigation. The U.S. objects to China's claims of territorial limits around disputed artificial islands there.

"As a rising power, it's to be expected that China will have growing ambitions and a modernizing military," he said. "But how China behaves will be the true test of its commitment to peace and security."
He said the U.S. has been shifting its focus toward the Asia-Pacific, including sending its best naval and other military weapons, ships and equipment to that region.

"We are also changing fundamentally our operational plans and approaches to deter aggression, fulfill our statutory obligations to Taiwan, defend allies, and prepare for a wider range of contingencies in the region than we have traditionally," he said.

Secret Military Operations To Divert LAX Planes

Mysterious maneuvers over the Pacific are forcing a change in Los Angeles International Airport landings late at night, meaning noise for thousands of people in the flight path.

Instead of landing from the east over Inglewood, planes begin flying from the west and over the ocean to keep noise levels down, but due to secret military operations, the airspace over the Pacific is closed to incoming flights for the next week.

"We clearly understand that neighbors and communities east of the airport will experience noise and we apologize for that," said Nancy Castles, LAX public relations director.

The military is not saying what exactly is causing the change, and LAX claims it's also in the dark. Castles said all they know is planes can't be flying at low altitudes to our west.

Six years ago, ABC7 cameras captured a military operation in downtown LA. Helicopters were seen swooping between high-rises, close enough that residents were able to see armed soldiers in camouflage outside their window.

Authorities claimed it was part of a training exercise designed to ensure the military's ability to operate in urban environments and to prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployment.

What's going on this week is a mystery.

White House Gives Up On Two State Solution

President Barack Obama has admitted there is no possibility of securing a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians and doubts whether he will even be able to get them back round the negotiating table while he is in office.
Ahead of the Washington visit of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister next week, Mr Obama has made a "realistic assessment" that a peace deal will not happen before he leaves office in January 2017, US officials said.
“The president has reached the conclusion that, barring a major shift, the parties are not going to be in the position to negotiate a final status agreement,” said Rob Malley, Mr Obama’s senior Middle East adviser.
It marked the first time in two decades where the White House “faces a reality where the prospect of a negotiated two-state solution is not in the cards,” Mr Malley told journalists.
The admission comes at a time of soured relations between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu, who clashed bitterly in the spring over nuclear negotiations with Iran.
In an open challenge to the nuclear deal, the Israeli leader accepted an invitation behind Mr Obama's back to address the US Congress, where he criticised the White House's efforts in the nuclear deal.
The Israeli prime minister also set out a hawkish approach to peace negotiations in March of last year, announcing on the eve of parliamentary elections that he would not allow for the creation of a Palestinian state were he re-elected.
Mr Netanyahu's Likud party won a resounding victory against a strongly-tipped centre-Left opposition grouping, the Zionist Union, largely by appealing to supporters of Right-wing parties like the Jewish Home, which opposes a Palestinian state.

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