Democracy promotion has long been one of the U.S. government’s favorite foreign charades. The Trump administration’s proposal to slash funding for democratic evangelism is being denounced as if it were the dawn of a new Dark Age. But this is a welcome step to draining a noxious swath of the Washington swamp.
Nineteenth century humorist Josh Billings quipped, “A fanatic is someonewho does what the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the matter.” Similarly, the U.S. government intervenes to rig elections in case foreign voters don’t know the facts of the matter. The U.S. has interfered — usually covertly — in more than 80 foreign elections since World War Two to boost its preferred candidates.
Former CIA chief James Woolsey was asked last month on Fox News whether the U.S. government was continuing to meddle and “mess around in other people's elections?" Woolsey replied with a smile and said: "Only for a very good cause. In the interests of democracy." Obviously, democracy is ill-served if any U.S.-preferred candidate lose.
Nowadays, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is the flagship for U.S. political meddling abroad, and Trump proposes to slash its budget by 60 percent, from $170 million to $67 million. When Congress created the agency in 1983, it prohibited NED and its grantees from directly aiding foreign political candidates. But that law restrains NED as effectively as the Fourth Amendment’s restriction on warrantless searches leashes the National Security Agency.
It was seven years ago this week that the conflict in Syria began. How might it have developed without the negative role played by Western powers and their regional allies?
Beware the Ides of March, the old saying goes. The 15th of March down the ages has seen not only the assassination of Julius Caesar and the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia; it was also the day, in 2011, that the conflict in Syria began.
According to the standard narrative, it was the intransigence and brutality of the Assad government (always referred to as a ‘regime’) that plunged Syria into chaos. But while it’s true that there was genuine discontent with the government for a number of valid reasons seven years ago, the divisions within Syria could have been overcome without much bloodshed, had certain countries not worked to sabotage any peaceful solutions to the crisis.
Faced with a direct threat to its rule, the Assad government showed it was willing to make compromises. As early as March 26, 2011, the BBC was reporting that the government had released more than 200 political prisoners. There were also amnesties announced in May and June.
Not only that but important political changes were introduced as Assad acknowledged in a televised address that demands for reform were legitimate.
McMaster: US Troops Will Stay Until Syria Is Stabilized
Despite conceding that the US and others had effectively liberated “100%” of ISIS-held territory in Syria, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster dismissed the idea that US forces might withdraw from the country any time soon.
Lawrence Wilkerson Is Not So Optimistic about a Meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un
“We’ve been here before,” College of William & Mary Professor Lawrence Wilkerson declared in a Monday The Real News interview in which he relates his less-than-optimistic take on an anticipated meeting between North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump. The meeting’s purposes would apparently include reducing tensions between the two nations and preventing a major military conflict from arising in the Korean region.
Russia Will Respond If US Attacks Syrian Government Forces
Recently,various US officials have been suggesting substantial attacks on the Syrian military are imminent. This talk of attacking Syria has provoked a warning from the Russian Foreign Ministry, and a second warning from top Russian generals. Russia’s military chief of staff warns Russia would retaliate “against the missiles and launchers used” by the US in such a strike.
What is Driving New Drive for AUMF?
After years of sitting back and letting Congressional authority to declare war transfer to the Executive Branch, it appears that some leading Members of the House and Senate are finally waking up to the consequences of their failure. On February 27, the House Progressive Caucus and the House Liberty Caucus joined forces to hold a hearing on the illegal wars raging in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, demanding that Congress take back the war powers authority.
Five Minutes Five Issues: MSNBC Warmongering, Bipartisan Peace, Pardon, Pulse Killings, Wrongful Convictions
A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is out. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.