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US Torture Policy: Part Of 'American Exceptionalism'?

One of the architects of the CIA's post-9/11 torture program was in court this week to testify in the pre-trial proceedings of several Guantanamo detainees. His justification for designing and practicing some of the most inhuman practices on earth should give pause to Americans with a conscience. Do we really reject torture? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Trade Sanctions Are Both Immoral and Ineffective

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On January 10, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin announced new economic sanctions imposed on Iran in response to its missile strikes against US forces in Iraq. The sanctions target enterprises operating in the manufacturing, textile, construction, and mining sectors. President Trump said that “These punishing sanctions will remain until the Iranian regime changes its behavior.”

The Iranian strikes were in retaliation to the US drone attack that killed Qasseim Soleimani, the powerful Iranian general and leader of the Quds Force. Thankfully, President Trump has chosen not to respond with any military action so as to avoid a full-blown war.

Nevertheless, new sanctions on Iran probably won’t change much. A long history of failed sanctions, which weren’t able to change the opposing regimes, can attest to that.

The Unintended Economic Consequences of Trade Sanctions

Almost ten years ago, Jonathan Catalán wrote an article on this same issue for the Mises Wire. Things haven’t changed since then. Governments continue to enforce trade restrictions on rival nations. Catalán explained that...
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How The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

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Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn't won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” -- interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction -- revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing.
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Truth Comes Out: New Evidence Syria Gas Attack Report Falsified

Former OPCW inspector Ian Henderson testified to the UN Security Council this week that his team's report on the April 2018 alleged gas attack in Douma, Syria, had been falsified at the orders of senior management and perhaps under pressure from the US government. The US mainstream media is silent. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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The Many Matryoska Dolls to America’s Way of Imagining Iran

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On the 17 September 1656, Oliver Cromwell, a Protestant Puritan, who had won a civil war, and had the English king beheaded in public, railed against England’s enemies. There was, he told Parliament that day, an axis of evil abroad in the world. And this axis – led by Catholic Spain – was, at root, the problem of a people that had placed themselves at the service of “evil”. This “evil”, and the servitude that it beget, was the evil of a religion – Catholicism – that refused the English peoples’ desire for simple liberties: “… [an evil] that put men under restraint … under which there was no freedom … and under which, there could be ‘no liberty of individual consciousness’”.
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A New Definition of Warfare

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Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.

Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”

The sanctions can kill. Those imposed by the United States are backed up by the US Treasury which is able to block cash transfers going through the dollar denominated international banking system. Banks that do not comply with America’s imposed rules can themselves be sanctioned, meaning that US sanctions are de facto globally applicable, even if foreign banks and governments do not agree with the policies that drive them. It is well documented how sanctions that have an impact on the importation of medicines have killed thousands of Iranians. In Venezuela, the effect of sanctions has been starvation as food imports have been blocked, forcing a large part of the population to flee the country just to survive.
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Iran Counters EU Threat Of Snapback Sanctions

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US President Donald Trump wants to destroy the nuclear agreement with Iran. He has threatened the EU-3 poodles in Germany, Britain and France with a 25% tariff on their car exports to the US unless they end their role in the JCPOA deal.

In their usual gutlessness the Europeans gave in to the blackmail. They triggered the Dispute Resolution Mechanism of the deal. The mechanism foresees two 15 day periods of negotiations and a five day decision period after which any of the involved countries can escalate the issues to the UN Security Council. The reference to the UNSC would then lead to an automatic reactivation or "snapback" of those UN sanction against Iran that existed before the nuclear deal was signed.

Iran is now countering the European move. Its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran may leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if any of the European countries escalates the issue to the UNSC
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Author of Leaked OPCW Engineering Report on Douma Speaks at UN Security Council

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The UN Security Council met in New York on Monday to discuss the investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into an alleged chemical attack that was said to have taken place in April 2018 in Douma, Syria. The alleged attack was blamed on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the US, UK, and France responded with an airstrike against Syrian government targets.
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Rich Liberals Protected By Guns...Why Not The Rest Of Us?

Yesterday's Virginia pro-Second Amendment rally shocked the elites to their core. Propagandized by the mainstream media, they expected out-of-control white supremacists but found a peaceful group of all races and orientations.  More importantly, the local government nullification movement is growing like wildfire, with local authorities openly vowing they would not enforce gun laws passed in Richmond that they consider unconstitutional. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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The War In Trump's Ear

A new book on Trump by Washington Post writers, "A Very Stable Genius," has tongues wagging and new accusations of the president's "instability." As usual, these politicized claims miss the target completely and also misunderstand the real war for Trump's ear. The generals are out, the "realists" were never quite in, there is little "America first" in the president's foreign policy, and, with reports that David Wurmser has the president's ear on Iran, the neocons are creeping back in. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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