World War 5
In Episode 212 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the latest escalation in the Middle East—and continues to note discrepancies in the reportage. US air-strikes on Iraq are said to have targeted the self-declared Islamic Resistance in Iraq, and its constituent militias such as Kataib Hezbollah. But some reports indicate the actual target has often been the Popular Mobilization Forces, a paramilitary network integrated into Iraq's official security services. Meanwhile, insufficiently noted media accounts report "no evidence" to back up Israeli claims of Hamas co-optation of UNWRA, which has led to a devastating cut-off of funds to the UN agency by the Western powers.
In Episode 211 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the potential for escalation to world war as Joe Biden retaliates for a deadly drone strike on US forces by an Iran-backed militia with air raids on 85 targets in Iraq and Syria. The same militias that have been attacking US forces in Iraq and Syria have also brutally repressed protesters in Iraq, and fought for the genocidal Bashar Assad regime in Syria. Tehran's paramilitary network has also carried out deadly repression of protests within Iran itself. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, now also coming under US bombardment, are responsible for war crimes against the Yemeni people and repression of their popular movements. It is necessary to oppose Biden's widening of air-strikes against Iran's paramilitaries, but also to oppose the Islamic Republic, equally a force of regional reaction.
The Iraqi government condemned air-strikes by the US military on its territory as "hostile acts" after the Pentagon said it hit sites used by Iran-backed forces. The strikes killed one member of the Iraqi security forces and wounded 18 people, including civilians, Baghdad said Dec. 26, calling the raids an "unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty." Washington said the strikes targeted three sites used by Kataib Hezbollah, part of the network of Shi'ite militias in Iraq, in retaliation for a drone attack the day before on Erbil airbase that wounded three US service members, one of them critically,. (Al Jazeera)
A member of the Israeli cabinet broached a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip Nov. 5, making outraged headlines in the Arab world. Jerusalem Affairs & Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party said in a radio interview that there are "no non-combatants in Gaza," and using a nuclear weapon on the Palestinian enclave is "one of the possibilities." The comment was immediately repudiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement saying that Eliyahu has been suspended from cabinet meetings "until further notice." Eliyahu is not a member of the special "war cabinet" formed for the Gaza campaign, Netanyahu's office emphasized, adding: "Eliyahu's statements are not based in reality. Israel and the IDF are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory." (The Guardian, Haaretz, Politico)
Russia's military conducted exercises with nuclear-capable missiles Oct. 25, shortly after the State Duma unanimously voted to revoke ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Russian Strategic Missile Forces command claimed the exercises were part of a regularly scheduled annual training drill held every October. But Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the exercises were to simulate a retaliatory nuclear strike to be carried out if Russia were attacked with nuclear firepower first. The Russian military widely publicized videos of the exercises across state media. According to the Kremlin, the exercises were overseen by President Vladimir Putin from a Moscow command center.
As Israel intensifies air-strikes in the Gaza Strip, a northern front appears to be opening in the war. Escalating cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have led to the displacement of over 4,200 people in south Lebanon, and authorities have designated some 100 kilometers of the border with Israel a military zone. Inhabitants pf the border region have retreated deeper into Lebanese territory to avoid entanglement in the ongoing skirmishes. In the southern port city of Tyre, authorities have converted three school facilities into makeshift refuges for the displaced. (Jurist)
In Episode 189 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that despite all the tankie pseudo-left enthusiasm for the BRICS summit in South Africa, the notion of a unified bloc against Western hegemony is illusory. The Johannesburg confab was immediately followed by a diplomatic spat between China and India, sparked by Beijing's release of an official map of the territory of the People's Republic—showing two Himalayan enclaves claimed by India as Chinese territory: Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, which have both been the scene of border skirmishes in recent years. The map also shows an island in the Amur River, by mutual agreement half controlled by Russia, as entirely Chinese. Moscow, depending on China's acquiescence in the Ukraine war, has lodged no protest over this. But the border disputes between nuclear-armed India and China have the potential to escalate to the unthinkable. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 185 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews the Oppenheimer movie, and discusses the legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer 78 years after Hiroshima. Manhattan Project dissidents like Leo Szilard petitioned to stop the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. But such sentiment was overruled by Harry Truman's geopolitical imperatives—and what Freeman Dyson called the "technical arrogance" of Oppenheimer and his circle. Now, as open Russian nuclear threats continue to mount in Europe, we are poised at the brink of unparalleled catastrophe. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.