Daily Archives: June 14, 2014

Pentagon spending millions to prepare for mass civil unrest

The Pentagon is pumping millions of dollars annually into programs that set out to explore the factors responsible for creating civil unrest around the world, The Guardian reported this week.

An article by journalist Nafeez Ahmed published by the paper on Thursday this week acknowledges that the little-known United States Department of Defense program — the Minerva Research Initiative — has since 2008 partnered with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

According to the program’s website, it has recently awarded millions of dollars to be divvied up among 12 proposals from colleges that have launched projects relevant to the Pentagon’s interest, including a Cornell University study called “Tracking Critical-Mass Outbreaks in Social Contagions” as well as others involving state stability, social disequilibrium and, in one instance, “Understanding American Muslims Converts in the Contexts of Security and Society.” The funding all comes entirely from the Dept. of Defense.

“Understanding the Origin, Characteristics and Implications of Mass Political Movements,” a study out of the University of Washington, was among those selected as well. In Lowell, Massachusetts, researchers there will use $2 million from the Pentagon to study terrorist behavior.

“This research is intended to identify precisely how children get involved and how to interrupt and stop the process,” UMass Lowell Professor Mia Bloom told the Lowell Sun of her Initiative-accepted project. “The research will contrast children in terrorist groups with child soldiers and children in gangs to better understand how they are alike and how they differ.”

Jonathan Moyer of the Pardee Center for International Futures in the School of International Studies at the University of Denver told a campus publication at that school last month that a project he is involved with — one that will also now receive Pentagon funding — will “hopefully help us understand instability in middle-income countries, not just the low-income countries.”

“Trying to pull out the Tunisias and the Libyas and the Ukraines,” he told the Pardee Center, “and why they might be unstable.”

“The total funds awarded for this set of projects is expected to be around six million dollars in the first year and $17 million over three years,” the Minerva Initiative acknowledged on its website.

Writing for The Guardian, Ahmed investigated these programs further and determined that many are directly involved in mass protests and other acts of civil unrest witnessed by the world in recent years. The Cornell project, for example, will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey,” Ahmed wrote. To accomplish as much, researchers say they will examine social media conversations such as Twitter posts “to identify individuals mobilized in a social contagion and when they become mobilized.”

Another project, Ahmed added, is managed by the US Army Research Office and focuses in “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity” across 58 countries around the globe.

The Pentagon’s overseeing of academic projects like these have raised eyebrows before, and even earned the ire of the American Anthropological Society due to its concerns with where the funding comes from.

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners,” Dr Erin Fitzgerald, the Minerva Initiative’s director, told The Guardian. “While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

 

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US Orders Aircraft Carrier Into Gulf Over Iraq Crisis : Pentagon

aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush

aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush

WASHINGTON – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an aircraft carrier moved into the Gulf on Saturday, readying it in case Washington decides to pursue a military option after insurgents overwhelmed a string of Iraqi cities this week and threatened Baghdad.

“The order will provide the Commander-in-Chief additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The carrier USS George H.W. Bush, moving from the North Arabian Sea, will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, the statement said. It added the ships were expected to complete their transit into the Gulf later on Saturday.

President Barack Obama said on Friday he needed several days to determine how the United States would help Iraq deal with the insurgency. But he ruled out sending U.S. troops back into combat and said any intervention would be contingent on Iraqi leaders becoming more involved.

The Pentagon is preparing a range of options for Obama, including air strikes. Such actions would be aimed at helping Iraq counter militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

The USS George H.W. Bush is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the largest warships in the world, according to the U.S. Navy. The ships are powered by two nuclear reactors and can carry a crew of about 6,000 people

Breaking news – Military jet downed by anti-Kiev forces in Lugansk – Ukraine’s defense ministry

Anti-Kiev forces took down a Ukrainian military Il-76 jet as it was landing in Lugansk, the country’s Defense Ministry said. It did not provide details on casualties.

TSN.ua news website earlier reported that around 30 paratroopers were killed as self-defense forces hit the jet with a rocket.

The plane was transporting rotating military personnel and had “troops, machinery, equipment and food,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Il-76 is a heavy military transport aircraft that usually has a crew of seven and can transport up to 167 soldiers with weapons.

Meanwhile, shooting has resumed in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region as the Ukrainian military continues its crackdown on self-defense forces in the country’s east, a self-defense representative said.

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US conducted secret drone missions over Iraq

Even before the latest outbreak of violence and chaos in Iraq, the United States was flying secret drone missions in the country in an attempt to gather intelligence on the movements of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the clandestine surveillance missions have been going on since last year with the consent of the Iraqi government. Senior White House officials said the program was expanded as concerns over the possibility of a rebellion grew, but they acknowledged the activity provided little useful information for both the US and Iraq.

The secret missions were reportedly run for surveillance purposes only, though it was not revealed exactly what type of drones were used.

One official, who was unnamed by the Journal, noted that whatever intelligence gleamed was shared with the Iraqi government, but added, “It’s not like it did any good.”

The news comes as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have gained control of at least two Iraqi cities, including the country’s second-largest in Mosul. Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, has also fallen into rebel hands.

Although the New York Times reported Wednesday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had previously asked the US to consider using airstrikes to diminish the threat of ISIS, President Obama has so far declined to do so, reluctant to recommit the American military to operations in Iraq after withdrawing back in 2011.

Now that the Al-Qaeda-affiliated ISIS is making gains in northern Iraq, however, the White House has asked the Pentagon to put together a list of available options, one of which could include an even more expanded drone program to potentially help Iraqi forces combat insurgents or make way for US airstrikes.

Additionally, increasing intelligence-sharing operations and delivering military equipment are also on the table, as well as long-range options such as training Iraqi and Kurdish troops.

“They’re looking at everything and anything and have been told explicitly by the White House to think outside the box of what is possible,” a senior U.S. official told the Journal.

As RT reported on Thursday, President Obama himself declared that when it comes to responding to the violence in Iraq, “I don’t rule out anything”

“The basic principal obviously is that we, like all nations, are prepared to take military action whenever our national security is threatened,” he said.

While Obama said ensuring that militants do not gain a foothold in either Iraq or Syria is in the interest of the US, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later told reporters that putting American troops on the ground is not in the cards. Airstrikes, however, are a possibility.

Even if the US determines that military action is justified, many experts believe it would do little to stabilize Iraq in the long term without substantial political reform on the part of the Iraqis. Speaking with the New York Times, former CIA analyst and National Security Council official Kenneth Pollack said the Maliki government needs to establish a government that’s more open to the disaffected Sunnis who’ve lent their support to the ISIS.

“U.S. military support for Iraq could have a positive effect but only if it is conditioned on Maliki changing his behavior within Iraq’s political system,” he said. “He has to bring the Sunni community back in, agree to limits on his executive authority and agree to reform Iraqi security forces to make them more professional and competent.”