Geopolitics

Massive Explosion in Beirut

Apparently at least 67 people are dead and more than 3,000 are injured, according to Bloomberg:

They’re saying it was a fireworks factory, I guess?

Didn’t realize fireworks could make that big of an explosion. I doubt anyone believes the official version of events.

Via Twitter:

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I don’t know a thing about Lebanese politics so I don’t know what the Kataeb Party is, and I won’t pretend I do by running a quick Google search and then proclaiming myself an Expert On Lebanese Politics.

But given that a political figure was killed in the explosion, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to assume that had something to do with this.

Why Was Israel Trying to Spy on Trump?

From POLITICO comes a rather damning story about our supposed “greatest ally” spying on President Trump’s White House, and more:

“The U.S. government concluded within the past two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cellphone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.”

Apparently the Israelis were using fake cellphone towers to intercept calls and texts.

“The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.”

We should definitely assume they were.

“But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.”

If this were the Russians, we would never hear the end of it from the media. The media would probably be trying to provoke full-on shooting and bombing warfare.

But this story was barely a blip on the major media’s radar.

For his part, Trump refuses to believe the report:

“After this story was published, Trump told reporters that he would find it “hard to believe” that the Israelis had placed the devices.

“I don’t think the Israelis were spying on us,” Trump said. “My relationship with Israel has been great…Anything is possible but I don’t believe it.”

It’s quite possible this story was fabricated by anti-Israel intelligence community officials in an effort to get Trump to turn against Israel. That’ll never happen because Trump has a major hard-on for Israel, but it’s at least possible that this is what happened.

After all, why would Israel do anything to poison the relationship with the man who ripped up the Iran deal and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem?

So it’s possible this story is made-up.

But if not–if the story of Israel trying to spy on the Trump White House is true–then it it definitely begs some very uncomfortable questions.

For example, if Israel is so grateful for everything we do for them–and again, Trump has done a lot for them, as have all past presidents dating back to 1948–then why would they need to spy on him?

Why would our “greatest ally” need to spy on us?

Well, perhaps, Israel is not actually our greatest ally, and instead only pretends to be in order to use us for foreign aid and to fight their Middle Eastern wars for them.

Maybe this is much-ado about nothing. It’s likely that we spy on the Israelis and every other supposed ally of ours, like Britain, France and Germany. Remember the story from several years back about how Obama personally approved wiretaps on the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel?

Still, I think the story just goes to show you that you can never be completely trusting with any other country out there–even your ostensible “greatest allies.”

Trump needs to stop being so trusting with the Israelis. They may have a very powerful lobby in Washington, but that shouldn’t matter to the guy who is so rich he doesn’t have to listen to any lobbyists. After all, wasn’t that part of the inherent appeal of Trump from the start?

Israel acts in its own interests. Our interests are not always theirs, and vice versa. It’s time we started putting our own first–even ahead of Israel’s.

If India and Pakistan Go to War, We Are All Fucked

India and Pakistan escalate tensions in the highly disputed Kashmir region:

“(Bloomberg) — It’s the biggest escalation between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals in decades and with a bitterly contested national election in India just weeks away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to exploit his military’s air strikes on a terrorist camp inside Pakistan Tuesday. 

Speaking to a huge, cheering crowd at an election rally in the state of Rajasthan, Modi twice stated that India was “in safe hands” and declared it a “glorious day,” without explicitly mentioning the attack. 

India’s fighter jets destroyed a major terrorist camp in Pakistan early Tuesday “in the face of imminent danger,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in New Delhi. More than 300 people were killed in the air strikes on militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, according to an Indian official speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Both nations are nuclear-armed.

Here is a map of the area:

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Pakistan had its own version of events. After scrambling its jets in response to India’s early-morning incursion across the border, it released photographs of missile remnants it said had fallen on unoccupied territory. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office said Pakistan would respond “at the time and place of its choosing,” rejecting India’s claim that it had hit a terror camp or inflicted heavy casualties. “Once again the Indian government has resorted to a self-serving, reckless and fictitious claim,” a statement from Khan’s office said.

Facing the first major geopolitical challenge of his term, Khan directed the country’s armed forces and the public to “remain prepared for all eventualities.” 

Relations between the two countries have been tense since a Feb. 14 suicide car bombing in Kashmir, claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, killed 40 members of India’s security forces.”

The question now is how will Pakistan respond. 

“There will be some form of escalation,” Kamran Bokhari, the director of Strategy and Programs at Center for Global Policy with the University of Ottawa, said by phone. “Pakistan will have to strike back — I am not saying this will lead to an all out war, but I don’t see that it’s over.” 

Today’s strikes represent the worst escalation since 2001, when Pakistan and India moved ballistic missiles and troops to their border following an attack on parliament in New Delhi that was also blamed on Jaish-e-Mohammad. India and Pakistan have fought three major wars since partition and independence in 1947. 

“The last time the Indian Air Force crossed the line of control intentionally and publicly to conduct air strikes was 1971,” said Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, referring to the Indo-Pakistan war over Bangladesh.”

“While details of the attack remain murky, we are already seeing India claiming a massive success while Pakistan is downplaying the true extent of the damages,” said Uzair Younus, a South Asia director at Washington-based consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group LLC. “The upside is that it’s likely that neither side will go up the escalation ladder following this attack.” 

The airstrike may well have been a political move by Modi to appear tough on Pakistan, but that does not mean it is insignificant.

The bottom line is, if India and Pakistan go to war and nuke each other, the whole planet is fucked. 90% of all people will starve to death due to a giant smoke cloud covering the whole planet:

This war would plunge us into nuclear winter.

Even though it does not appear to be a serious situation on the verge of escalating beyond control, we cannot take this lightly.