http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:17:16 GMT Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:17:16 GMT New US Pentagon Chief – Vested Interest in War & Conflict Strategic Culture Foundation http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/new-us-pentagon-chief-vested-interest-in-war-conflict/

Mark Esper is expected to be confirmed in coming days as the new US Secretary of Defense. His appointment is awaiting final Congressional approval after customary hearings this week before senators. The 55-year-old nominee put forward by President Trump was previously a decorated Lieutenant Colonel and has served in government office during the GW Bush administration.

But what stands out as his most conspicuous past occupation is working for seven years as a senior lobbyist for Raytheon, the US’ third biggest military manufacturing company. The firm specializes in missile-defense systems, including the Patriot, Iron Dome and the Aegis Ashore system (the latter in partnership with Lockheed Martin).

As Defense Secretary, Esper will be the most senior civilian executive member of the US government, next to the president, on overseeing military policy, including decisions about declaring war and deployment of American armed forces around the globe. His military counterpart at the Pentagon is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, currently held by Marine General Joseph Dunford who is expected to be replaced soon by General Mark Milley (also in the process of senate hearings).

Esper’s confirmation hearings this week were pretty much a rubber-stamp procedure, receiving lame questioning from senators about his credentials and viewpoints. The only exception was Senator Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the potential “conflict of interest” due to his past lobbying service for Raytheon. She said it “smacks of corruption”. Other than her solitary objection, Esper was treated with kid gloves by other senators and his appointment is expected to be whistled through by next week. During hearings, the former lobbyist even pointedly refused to recuse himself of any matters involving Raytheon if he becomes the defense boss.

As Rolling Stone magazine quipped on Esper’s nomination, “it is as swampy as you’d expect”.

“President Trump’s Cabinet is already rife with corruption, stocked full of former lobbyists and other private industry power players who don’t seem to mind leveraging their government positions to enrich themselves personally. Esper should fit right in,” wrote Rolling Stone.

The linkage between officials in US government, the Pentagon and private manufacturers is a notorious example of “revolving door”. It is not unusual, or even remarkable, that individuals go from one sector to another and vice versa. That crony relationship is fundamental to the functioning of the “military-industrial complex” which dominates the entire American economy and the fiscal budget ($730 billion annually – half the total discretionary public spend by federal government).

Nevertheless, Esper is a particularly brazen embodiment of the revolving-door’s seamless connection.

Raytheon is a $25 billion company whose business is all about selling missile-defense systems. Its products have been deployed in dozens of countries, including in the Middle East, as well as Japan, Romania and, as of next year, Poland. It is in Raytheon’s vital vested interest to capitalize on alleged security threats from Iran, Russia, China and North Korea in order to sell “defense” systems to nations that then perceive a “threat” and need to be “protected”.

It is a certainty that Esper shares the same worldview, not just for engrained ideological reasons, but also because of his own personal motives for self-aggrandizement as a former employee of Raytheon and quite possibly as a future board member when he retires from the Pentagon. The issue is not just merely about corruption and ethics, huge that those concerns are. It is also about how US foreign policy and military decisions are formulated and executed, including decisions on matters of conflict and ultimately war. The insidiousness is almost farcical, if the implications weren’t so disturbing, worthy of satire from the genre of Dr Strangelove or Catch 22.

How is Esper’s advice to the president about tensions with Russia, Iran, China or North Korea, or any other alleged adversary, supposed to be independent, credible or objective? Esper is a de facto lobbyist for the military-industrial complex sitting in the Oval Office and Situation Room. Tensions, conflict and war are meat and potatoes to this person.

During senate hearings this week, Esper openly revealed his dubious quality of thinking and the kind of policies he will pursue as Pentagon chief. He told credulous senators that Russia was to blame for the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That equates to more Raytheon profits from selling defense systems in Europe. Also, in a clumsy inadvertent admission he advised that the US needs to get out of the INF in order to develop medium-range missiles to “counter China”. The latter admission explains the cynical purpose for why the Trump administration unilaterally ditched the INF earlier this year. It is not about alleged Russian breaches of the treaty; the real reason is for the US to obtain a freer hand to confront China.

It is ludicrous how blatant a so-called democratic nation (the self-declared “leader of the free world”) is in actuality an oligarchic corporate state whose international relations are conducted on the basis of making obscene profits from conflict and war.

Little wonder then than bilateral relations between the US and Russia are in such dire condition. Trump’s soon-to-be top military advisor Mark Esper is not going to make bilateral relations any better, that’s for sure.

Also at a precarious time of possible war with Iran, the last person Trump should consult is someone whose corporate cronies are craving for more weapons sales.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/new-us-pentagon-chief-vested-interest-in-war-conflict/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/new-us-pentagon-chief-vested-interest-in-war-conflict/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:17:16 GMT
How Corporate Media Are Fueling a New Iran Nuclear Crisis Gareth Porter http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/how-corporate-media-are-fueling-a-new-iran-nuclear-crisis/

The US news media’s coverage of the Iran nuclear issue has been woefully off-kilter for many years. Now, however, those same outlets are contributing to the serious crisis building between Washington and Tehran.

Iran has responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal by resuming the stockpiling of low enriched uranium, removing the cap on the level of uranium enrichment and resuming work at the Arak nuclear reactor, while making it very clear that those steps would be immediately reversed if the United States agreed to full compliance.

The major fact about Iranian nuclear policy before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was negotiated should shape public understanding of the current conflict: For more than three years, from 2012 to 2015, Iran could have enriched enough uranium at 20 percent enrichment level for one or more nuclear weapons, but it chose not to do so. Instead, it used the US’s knowledge of that capability as leverage against the US in negotiating what eventually became the JCPOA.

The real nuclear crisis facing the United States is not that of an Iranian regime threatening a nuclear conflict. Rather, it’s a US government policy that rejects the 2015 compromise and seeks to provoke Iran even further.

Yet that’s not the way The New York Times and other news media have covered the story. From the start of the current phase of the conflict, corporate media coverage has overwhelmingly emphasized a presumed new Iranian threat to “break out” in order to obtain the enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.

A July 1 Times story by Rick Gladstone about Iran’s breach of the JCPOA cap on uranium stockpile stated that Iran’s latest move “does not by itself give the country the material to produce a nuclear weapon. … But it is the strongest signal yet that Iran is moving to restore the far larger stockpile that took the United States and five other nations years to persuade Tehran to send abroad.”

In his article, Gladstone went on to challenge Iran’s assertion of its legal right to withdraw from some commitments in the JCPOA a year after Trump had unilaterally withdrawn from the agreement. Iranian leaders, he said, “have sought to justify these steps as a response to the Trump administration’s abandonment of the nuclear accord last year and its reimposition of sanctions.” He claimed that “[W]estern experts on the agreement” had disputed Iran’s reasoning.” But Gladstone cited only one “expert,” Henry Rome of the Eurasia Group, who called the Iranian claim “a unilateral interpretation from the Iranian side of what the nuclear deal means….”

Rome is evidently unfamiliar, however, with the fundamental principle of international law that grants a party to an agreement the inherent right to reduce or terminate the fulfillment of an agreement if there is a “material breach” by another party. In response to an email query for this story, Dr. Richard Falk, a leading scholar on international law, responded to Rome’s statement by commenting, “The US repudiation of the agreement and reimposition of sanctions constitutes without any reasonable doubt, a material breach of the Nuclear Agreement, which relieves Iran of any legal obligations with respect to complying with the treaty.”

David Sanger, who for two decades has served as chief national security correspondent for The New York Times, wrote a story published July 1 that led with the assertion that Iran had “violated a key provision” of the 2015 nuclear deal. Sanger thus ignored the distinction between a response to complete renunciation of the entire deal by the Trump administration and a violation of it. Sanger also called the announcement by foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran’s intention to increase the level of purity of enrichment “a provocative action” that “could move the country closer to possessing fuel that with further processing could be used in a weapon.”

Sanger acknowledged Iran has “consistently denied that it has any intention of making a nuclear weapon,” but asserted, “[A] trove of nuclear-related documents, spirited out of a Tehran warehouse by Israeli agents last year, showed extensive work before 2003 to design a nuclear warhead.”

But the alleged Mossad theft in 2018 of half a ton of purported top-secret Iranian nuclear weapons archive documents from an unguarded shack in Tehran was a highly implausible tale. No evidence was offered to prove that the entire story—and the new documents shown by the Israelis—were not completely fraudulent.

Fair Use Excerpt. Read the entire article here.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/how-corporate-media-are-fueling-a-new-iran-nuclear-crisis/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/19/how-corporate-media-are-fueling-a-new-iran-nuclear-crisis/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 13:53:45 GMT
New CNN Assange Smear Piece Is Amazingly Dishonest, Even For CNN Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/new-cnn-assange-smear-piece-is-amazingly-dishonest-even-for-cnn/

CNN has published an unbelievably brazen and dishonest smear piece on Julian Assange, easily the most egregious article of its kind since the notoriously bogus Assange-Manafort report by The Guardian last year. It contains none of the “exclusive” documents which it claims substantiate its smears, relying solely on vague unsubstantiated assertions and easily debunked lies to paint the WikiLeaks founder in a negative light.

And let’s be clear right off the bat, it is most certainly a smear piece. The article, titled “Exclusive: Security reports reveal how Assange turned an embassy into a command post for election meddling”, admits that it exists for the sole purpose of tarnishing Assange’s reputation when it reports, with no evidence whatsoever, that while at the Ecuadorian embassy Assange once “smeared feces on the walls out of anger.” Not “reportedly”. Not “the Ecuadorian government claims.” CNN reported it as a fact, as an event that is known to have happened. This is journalistic malpractice, and it isn’t an accident.

Whenever you see any “news” report citing this claim, you are witnessing a standard smear tactic of the plutocratic media. Whenever you see them citing this claim as a concrete, verified fact, you are witnessing an especially aggressive and deliberate psyop. The Ecuadorian embassy was easily the most-surveilled building in the world during Assange’s stay there, and the Ecuadorian government has leaked photos of Assange’s living quarters to the media in an attempt to paint him as a messy houseguest in need of eviction, so if the “feces on the walls” event had ever transpired you would have seen photos of it, whether you wanted to or not. It never happened.
“New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London,” the article begins.

In its very first sentence the article invalidates all the claims which follow it, because its use of the word “potentially” means that none of the documents CNN purports to have contain any actual evidence. It’s worth noting at this time that there is to this day not one shred of publicly available evidence that any of the Democratic Party emails published by WikiLeaks in 2016 were in fact “hacked” at all, and could very well have been the result of a leak as asserted by former British ambassador Craig Murray, who claims to have inside knowledge on the matter.

The glaring plot holes in the Mueller report’s assertions about Russia being the source of the 2016 WikiLeaks drops have already been ripped wide open by journalist Aaron Maté’s meticulous analysis of the report’s timeline in an article accurately titled “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”. The CNN smear piece, which claims to “add a new dimension to the Mueller report”, is entirely relying on this porous timeline for its reporting. Plot holes include the fact that Mueller claims (and CNN repeats) that the Russians transferred the emails to WikiLeaks on or around July 14, which Maté notes is “a full month after Assange publicly announced that he had them.”

CNN kicks off its smear piece with the inflammatory claim that “Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments”, mentioning both “Russians” and “hackers” in the same breath in an attempt to give the impression that the two are related. It’s not until paragraph 43 and 46, long after most people have stopped reading, that the articles authors bother to inform their readers that the “hackers” in question are German and have no established connection to the Russian government whatsoever. The “Russians” counted among Assange’s scores of visitors consist of RT staff, who have always consistently reported on WikiLeaks, and a “Russian national” about whom almost nothing is known.

The article falsely labels Assange a “hacker”, a defamatory claim the mass media circulates whenever it wants to tarnish Assange’s reputation. Assange, of course, is a publisher. WikiLeaks publishes materials which are given to it, it doesn’t “hack” them.
CNN also repeats the long-debunked lie that RT “published articles detailing the new batches of emails before WikiLeaks officially released them” during the 2016 election, citing no evidence because this never happened. RT reported on a WikiLeaks release in October 2016 after it had been published by WikiLeaks but before the WikiLeaks Twitter account had tweeted about it, and western propagandists willfully conflated WikiLeaks publications with tweets from the WikiLeaks Twitter account in order to make it look like RT had insider knowledge about the publications.

In reality, RT was simply watching the WikiLeaks site closely for new releases in order to get an early scoop before other outlets, because Podesta email leaks had been dropping regularly.

“That is a LIE that’s been debunked over and over,” tweeted RT America editor Nebojša Malić‏ in response to the smear. “We published ONE article about the emails that were RELEASED already, just not TWEETED about yet, because WikiLeaks had been releasing them like clockwork and we paid attention. It’s called journalism, they should try it sometime.”

“Yes that is fake news,” tweeted RT’s Ivor Crotty. “I was the editor on the team that monitored wikileaks and by Podesta 6 we knew they tweeted at 9am EST each day (1pm Dublin) — so we checked the database by reverse searching and discovered a new dump, tweeted about it, and the conspiracy theorists jumped.”

“RT already addressed this in 2016, convincingly if you read the sequence of events they lay out: the Podesta emails appeared on the WikiLeaks website before WikiLeaks sent a tweet about it,” Maté tweeted at CNN’s Marshall Cohen. “Ignoring that allows for the conspiracy theory you propose. It’s ridiculous to suggest that RT-Wikileaks ‘were coordinating behind the scenes’ based on the fact that RT tweeted about the Podesta emails AFTER they appeared on WL’s site, but BEFORE WL tweeted about them. You’re implicating RT in a conspiracy… for doing journalism.”

It’s not possible to research the “RT had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks drops” conspiracy theory without running across articles which debunked it at the time, so the article’s authors were likely either knowingly lying or taking dictation from someone who was.

“Spanish newspaper El Pais on July 9: ‘Spanish security company spied on Julian Assange’s meetings with lawyers’. Add little security state propaganda and 6 days later you get from CNN: ‘How Julian Assange turned an embassy into command post for election meddling’,” notedShadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola in response to the CNN smear, a reminder of how a little narrative tweaking can turn a story on its head in support of the powerful.



This would be the same CNN who told its viewers that it’s against the law to read WikiLeaks, with Democratic Party prince Chris Cuomo lying“Remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents; it’s different for the media, so everything you learn about this you’re learning from us.” The same CNN which falsely reported that Assange is a pedophile not once, but twice. The same CNN which has been caught blatantly lying in its Russiagate coverage, which has had to fire journalists for misreporting Russiagate in a media environment where that almost never happens with Russia stories, which has deleted evidence of its journalistic malpracticeregarding Russiagate from the internet without retraction or apology.

So this latest attempt to tarnish Julian Assange’s reputation from CNN is not surprising. Nor is it surprising that the article contains exactly zero of the “exclusive documents” which it says validate its claims and insinuations. Nor is it surprising that CNN is using invisible evidence which almost certainly came into its hands through a government agency to give weight to its smear. But the sheer volume of disinformation and deceit they were able to pack into one single article this time around was just jaw-dropping. Even for CNN.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/new-cnn-assange-smear-piece-is-amazingly-dishonest-even-for-cnn/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/new-cnn-assange-smear-piece-is-amazingly-dishonest-even-for-cnn/ Thu, 18 Jul 2019 19:28:08 GMT
Hating America After 9/11 Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/hating-america-after-911/

Listening to President Trump accuse Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of supporting al-Qaeda reminds me of how conservatives behaved toward libertarians who dared talk about motive immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

At the time of those attacks, some of us libertarians understood that this was a watershed event in US history, one that would inevitably adversely affect the rights and liberties of the American people. Fueled by deep anger and fear, the overwhelming sentiment among the American people was to support the desire of federal officials to lash out against “the terrorists” anywhere and everywhere they could be found in the world. That’s, of course, how we got the ongoing, never-ending “war on terrorism.”

Equally important, it was a time when Americans were ready and willing to sacrifice whatever liberties they had to the federal government in order to keep them safe from the terrorists. Not surprisingly, US officials were eager and willing to adopt whatever totalitarian and dark-side measures they deemed necessary to keep America “safe.” That’s how we got those secret surveillance schemes, the USA PATRIOT Act, the TSA at the airports, and the formalized assassination program, all of which shredded the protections our ancestors had enacted in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. It’s also how we got the undeclared forever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the regime-change efforts in Libya and Syria, which have killed, maimed, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

On September 27, 2001— about 2 1/2 weeks after the attacks — I posted my article “Is This the Wrong Time to Question Foreign Policy?” on The Future of Freedom Foundation’s website. The article called on Americans to examine the role that US foreign policy had played in motivating the terrorists to carry out the 9/11 attacks.

i have never been inundated with more nasty emails and letters in my life, mostly from conservatives, accusing me of hating America and loving the terrorists. Many suggested that I leave America and go live with the terrorists. Some wished some very bad things for me. Many of them said that they were going to do everything they could to stop people from donating to FFF, with the intent of putting our educational foundation out of business.

Their angry diatribes were, of course, entirely logical. For conservatives, the federal government and America are one and the same thing. Moreover, for many conservatives, the federal government is like a god or an idol, one that can do no wrong. Thus, once one mentally conflates the federal god with America the country, it is logical that he will immediately jump to the conclusion that if a person is criticizing a certain practice or policy of the federal government, that constitutes conclusive and irrefutable proof that he hates America.

What conservatives are unable to do is engage in critical thinking when it comes to “America’s” fights against foreigners. Once the 9/11 attacks occurred, the standard conservative mindset was, “We are now at war. The time for criticism is over. We need to rally around the government until we win the war,” which, again, for them is equivalent to rallying around the country.

Thus, conservatives could not grasp the concept of motive. As soon as some of us libertarians said: Let’s examine what what the US government was doing in the Middle East to see how such actions motivated the 9/11 attackers, conservatives immediately concluded that we were defending the terrorists and justifying what they had done. That’s what caused conservatives to conclude that libertarians loved the terrorists and hated America.

Even though motive is not an essential element in criminal offenses, in many criminal prosecutions prosecutors will talk to the jury about what motivated the accused to commit the offense. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, in doing so the prosecutor isn’t supporting and defending what the accused did. After all, he’s prosecuting him! Instead, he is simply providing the jury with a rational explanation as to why the accused committed the offense.

It was no different with libertarian analysis of the 9/11 attacks. We were explaining motive. For ten years, the US government had been killing hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq with its brutal system of sanctions, with total indifference to the massive death toll, which was producing deep anger across the Middle East. This anger was manifested by Ramzi Yousef at his sentencing hearing in 1996 in US federal court. He was one of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, some 8 years before the 9/11 attacks.

In the same year that Yousef was sentenced —1996, President Bill Clinton’s US Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, told Sixty Minutes that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions, although difficult, had been “worth it.” By “it,” she meant US regime-change efforts against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who, ironically, had been the federal government’s partner and ally in the 1980s.

While Clinton and other US officials expressed indifference to Albright’s pronouncement, perhaps because they agreed with it, not surprisingly her statement reverberated around the Middle East, where rage was already bubbling over with the constant death stream of Iraqi children. The sanctions continued killing Iraqi children for several more years, until the US government invaded Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

There were the US troops who US officials had intentionally and knowingly stationed near Mecca and Medina, the holiest lands in the Muslim religion, again with total indifference to the adverse reaction this was producing among Muslims in the Middle East.

There were the “no-fly zones” over Iraq, where US planes were periodically firing missiles to kill even more Iraqis, including one teenage boy who was tending his sheep. This was on top of the multitudes of Iraqis who had been killed in the Persian Gulf War and who had been killed by the sanctions.

There was also the unconditional support that the US government was providing to the Israeli government, no matter what it did to the Palestinian people, which was producing even more anger in the Middle East. Indeed, if any libertarian or anyone else criticized this support, conservatives would accuse him of hating Jews, given that conservatives conflate the Israeli government with Jews in general, just as they conflate the federal government and America.

All of these actions on the part of the US government worked to produce the anger and rage that brought terrorism to America, starting with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and then continuing with the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the US embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, and the post-9/11 attacks here in the United States.

But that’s not what federal officials wanted Americans to hear because that would have interfered with their agenda. They wanted Americans to believe that the attacks were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and that the US government had been an innocent babe in the woods the entire time. They wanted to seize upon the 9/11 attacks as a way to consolidate and expand the totalitarian-like powers of the federal government, especially the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, which already were the most powerful branch of the federal government. They also wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as a way to effect the regime change in Iraq that 11 years of sanctions and deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children had failed to achieve.

Thus, when some of us libertarians began showing the real motive of the 9/11 attackers, US officials and their conservatives supporters were outraged and came after us with a vengeance, saying that we loved the terrorists and hated America and were justifying what the terrorists had done. Even though it didn’t succeed when it came to FFF and some other libertarian organizations, it was a brilliantly malicious strategy designed to suppress criticism of their foreign policy of interventionism and to expand their totalitarian-like, dark-side practices, policies, and programs.

If we are to restore America’s founding principles of a limited-government republic and a non-interventionist foreign policy, it is incumbent on us libertarians to continue speaking truth to power and not let silly conservative diatribes and attacks dissuade us from continuing on that road. If we are to restore a society of liberty, peace, prosperity, harmony, normality, and morality, it is necessary for us to continue informing people of what the conversion of the US government to a national-security state and its adoption of an interventionist and imperialist foreign policy has done to America and to people around the world.


Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
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Will 500 Troops To Saudi Arabia Really Make Us Safer? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/will-500-troops-to-saudi-arabia-really-make-us-safer/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/will-500-troops-to-saudi-arabia-really-make-us-safer/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/18/will-500-troops-to-saudi-arabia-really-make-us-safer/ Thu, 18 Jul 2019 16:31:29 GMT
Showdown! Trump Takes On Turkey Over Russian Missile Purchase Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/showdown-trump-takes-on-turkey-over-russian-missile-purchase/


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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/showdown-trump-takes-on-turkey-over-russian-missile-purchase/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/showdown-trump-takes-on-turkey-over-russian-missile-purchase/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 16:39:02 GMT
It’s Un-American To Be Anti-Free Speech: Protect the Right to Criticize the Government John W. Whitehead http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/it-s-un-american-to-be-anti-free-speech-protect-the-right-to-criticize-the-government/

Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.
— Justice William O. Douglas

Unjust. Brutal. Criminal. Corrupt. Inept. Greedy. Power-hungry. Racist. Immoral. Murderous. Evil. Dishonest. Crooked. Excessive. Deceitful. Untrustworthy. Unreliable. Tyrannical.

These are all words that have at some time or other been used to describe the US government.

These are all words that I have used at some time or other to describe the US government. That I may feel morally compelled to call out the government for its wrongdoing does not make me any less of an American.

If I didn’t love this country, it would be easy to remain silent. However, it is because I love my country, because I believe fervently that if we lose freedom here, there will be no place to escape to, I will not remain silent.

Nor should you.

Nor should any other man, woman or child—no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe.

This is the beauty of the dream-made-reality that is America. As Chelsea Manning recognized, “We’re citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear.

Indeed, the First Amendment does more than give us a right to criticize our country: it makes it a civic duty. Certainly, if there is one freedom among the many spelled out in the Bill of Rights that is especially patriotic, it is the right to criticize the government.

The right to speak out against government wrongdoing is the quintessential freedom.

Unfortunately, those who run the government don’t take kindly to individuals who speak truth to power. In fact, the government has become increasingly intolerant of speech that challenges its power, reveals its corruption, exposes its lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

This is nothing new, nor is it unique to any particular presidential administration.

President Trump, who delights in exercising his right to speak (and tweet) freely about anything and everything that raises his ire, has shown himself to be far less tolerant of those with whom he disagrees, especially when they exercise their right to criticize the government.

In his first few years in office, Trump has declared the media to be “the enemy of the people,” suggested that protesting should be illegal, and that NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem "shouldn’t be in the country." More recently, Trump lashed out at four Democratic members of Congress—all women of color— who have been particularly critical of his policies, suggesting that they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

The uproar over Trump’s “America—love it or leave it” remarks have largely focused on its racist overtones, but that misses the point: it’s un-American to be anti-free speech.

It’s unfortunate that Trump is so clueless about the Constitution. Then again, as the history books make clear, Trump is not alone in his presidential disregard for the rights of the citizenry, especially as it pertains to the right of the people to criticize those in power.

While the government has been undermining our free speech rights for quite a while now, Trump’s antagonism towards free speech is much more overt. For example, at a recent White House Social Media Summit, Trump defined free speech as follows: “To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”

Except Trump is about as wrong as one can be on this issue.

Good, bad or ugly, it’s all free speech unless as defined by the government it falls into one of the following categories: obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes.

This idea of “dangerous” speech, on the other hand, is peculiarly authoritarian in nature. What it amounts to is speech that the government fears could challenge its chokehold on power.

The kinds of speech the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation, prosecution and outright elimination include: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, left-wing speech, extremist speech, politically incorrect speech, etc.

Yet this idea that only individuals who agree with the government are entitled to the protections of the First Amendment couldn’t be further from what James Madison, the father of the Constitution, intended. Indeed, Madison was very clear about the fact that the First Amendment was established to protect the minority against the majority.

I’ll take that one step further: the First Amendment was intended to protect the citizenry from the government’s tendency to censor, silence and control what people say and think.

Having lost our tolerance for free speech in its most provocative, irritating and offensive forms, the American people have become easy prey for a police state where only government speech is allowed. You see, the powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

This is how freedom rises or falls.

Americans of all stripes would do well to remember that those who question the motives of government provide a necessary counterpoint to those who would blindly follow where politicians choose to lead.

We don’t have to agree with every criticism of the government, but we must defend the rights of all individuals to speak freely without fear of punishment or threat of banishment.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, tolerance for dissent is vital if we are to survive as a free nation.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/it-s-un-american-to-be-anti-free-speech-protect-the-right-to-criticize-the-government/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/17/it-s-un-american-to-be-anti-free-speech-protect-the-right-to-criticize-the-government/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:19:27 GMT
Pirate Nation: Why Britain Hijacked Iranian Ship on Behalf of Washington Tony Cartalucci http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pirate-nation-why-britain-hijacked-iranian-ship-on-behalf-of-washington/

Had Iran openly hijacked a vessel of any nation, for any reason, plying through waters anywhere on Earth, the US and its allies would immediately cite it as a provocation toward war.

In fact, even without evidence, suspiciously timed attacks carried out last month on tankers passing through the Persian Gulf were cited by Washington and London as a pretext for increased pressure on Tehran despite the attacks appearing staged by the West itself.

Now in a display once again illustrating just who the actual menace is to global peace and stability, the British have openly – even proudly – hijacked a ship carrying Iranian oil allegedly bound for Syria.

The Guardian’s article, “Iran fury as Royal Marines seize tanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria,” would report:
Royal Marines have helped seize an Iranian supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, escalating tensions between the UK and Tehran as the agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear programme unravels.

A detachment of nearly 30 British troops working with the Gibraltarian police intercepted the vessel, believed to be carrying 2m barrels of oil, in a dramatic manoeuvre Spain said had been conducted at the request of the US.
The article would quote the British ambassador to Iran who claimed:
[The UK] welcomes this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities.
As to why the UK believed it was justified to hijack the Iranian tanker – the article would cite “sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad” the UK and EU placed on Syria – which are in themselves illegal and an act of war.

Stealing Ships from Stolen Land to Enforce Illegal Sanctions 

The UK’s presence in Gibraltar itself is a point of contention between London and Madrid.

Spain does not recognize British claims over the tiny piece of land located at the furthest tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The British presence is one of its many holdovers from its imperialist past. The British presence gives the UK a choke point over the Strait of Gibraltar and all shipping passing through it.

The fact that the British are using the disputed territory of Gibraltar to hijack ships or that the London Guardian is trying to depict it as an operation undertaken while “working with the Gibraltarian police” – when the “Gibraltarian police” are nothing more than functionaries representing London itself – provide a clear illustration of how foreign policy, media, and crimes against international law are being coordinated, justified, and sold to the public by Washington and London.

While Iran has regularly threatened to impede shipping through the Stait of Hormuz in retaliation to Western military aggression, it has never acted upon these threats – reserving them as a means of last resort.

The British and Americans – on the other hand – have literally implicated themselves in disrupting “freedom of navigation.” 

The US and UK both pose as international arbiters and underwriters of what they call “the freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas. They regularly accuse nations like China of impeding such “freedom” in the South China Sea – using these accusations as an excuse to build up a military presence off China’s shores – thousands of miles from their own shores.
They have also regularly cited Iran’s “threats” to shipping through the Strait of Hormuz as another reason Iran should be further pressured, sanctioned, and its government ultimately removed from power.

Yet by hijacking Iranian ships, or likewise intercepting North Korean vessels, or the ships of any nation based on sanctions unilaterally and illegally imposed by Washington, London, and Brussels implicates the West themselves as the primary threat to the very “freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas they claim to uphold.

Provoking War 

From Western policy think tanks to policymakers and politicians themselves – the West has all but admitted it is trying to goad Iran into war.

Sanctions, Western-sponsored terrorism aimed at Iranian territory itself, and provocations – like the recent hijacking of an Iranian tanker – all aimed at Tehran – are moves seeking to trigger a response from Iran that will justify even wider Western economic sanctions and military aggression.

And if Iran fails to provide such a provocation, one might be staged and blamed on Iran anyway.

These are the actions of outlaw nations presiding over a fading international order – one fading specifically because it is so transparently unjust, lopsided, and disruptive toward global stability. It has persisted for so long solely through the maxim of “might makes right.”

The British stealing ships from stolen land to enforce illegal sanctions is a vulgar display of “might makes right,” but one that may possibility be reaching its expiration.

The countervailing multipolar order emerging across Eurasia has an opportunity to oppose this flagrant provocation – not merely on Iran’s behalf – but to erode the impunity that will allow the US and UK to target the ships of other nations in a similar fashion if afforded impunity to do so to Iran now.

For Tehran, it will need to continue exhibiting “maximum patience” while enduring Washington and London’s “maximum pressure” campaign – avoiding the traps both have laid out for Tehran as they attempt to bait the nation into war and change their failing fortunes in the Middle East and around the globe.

The British – still a thorn in the side of global peace and stability despite losing most of its empire – presents us with a preview of what to expect from America even long after it fades as sole global hegemon. Learning to put the UK’s recent provocations in check now will help develop the tools necessary to put in check its future provocations – and those the US will find itself also depending on more and more often in the future.

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pirate-nation-why-britain-hijacked-iranian-ship-on-behalf-of-washington/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pirate-nation-why-britain-hijacked-iranian-ship-on-behalf-of-washington/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:35:04 GMT
Pompeo’s Big Lie on Iran Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pompeo-s-big-lie-on-iran/

In a tiff over whether Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation would be permitted to enter the United States as part of a meeting of the United Nations and over whether they would be free to travel freely around New York City, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a whopper, one that might have even embarrassed Pinocchio. Expressing a desire to be invited to appear on Iranian television, Pompeo said that he would tell Iranians that “we care deeply about them, that we’re supportive of the Iranian people, that we understand that the revolutionary theocracy is not acting in a way that is in their best interest.”

Why, that’s just a lie, a plain old, downright, old-fashioned lie.

When Pompeo is using the pronoun “we,” he is referring to US officials. And the fact is that US officials, from President Trump on down, couldn’t care less about the well-being of the Iranian people. All that US officials care about is re-installing a pro-US dictatorship in Iran, no different from that of the Shah, who US officials made Iran’s brutal dictator in 1953.

After all, look at the US sanctions on Iran. They target the Iranian people for economic impoverishment and even death. The idea is that if the US government can squeeze the life out of the Iranian people, they will rise up in a violent revolution against the ruling regime and replace it with one that is acceptable to US officials.

There is no maximum limit on the impoverishment or death toll that would cause US officials to lift their sanctions. That is, even if sanctions were causing thousands of people to die every week from starvation, illness, or plane crashes owing to the sanctions, US officials would not lift the sanctions. No price in terms of suffering or death of the Iranian people could be high enough to cause US officials to cease and desist.

Moreover, even though a violent revolution would cost the lives of thousands of Iranians, US officials couldn’t care less. All that matters to them is regime change. If thousands of Iranians have to be sacrificed for that goal, so be it.

How in the world can such a cruel and brutal policy be reconciled with Pompeo’s claim that he and his cohorts “care deeply” about the Iranian people? It can’t be. It’s a flat-out lie.

We saw this same phenomenon when US officials, with the same banality-of-evil mindset, enforced their system of sanctions against the Iraqi people for 11 years. Every year, the sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly children. Keep in mind that during the Persian Gulf War, the Pentagon ordered US bombers to destroy Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants, with the aim of spreading infectious illnesses among the Iraqi populace. After the war was over, US officials used their sanctions to prevent the plants from being repaired. The sewage-infested waters were one of the factors leading to the massive annual death toll among the Iraqi people.

Did US officials care about the well-being of the Iraqi people? Are you kidding? No more so than they care about the well-being of Iranians. When Sixty Minutes asked US Ambassador Madeleine Albright in 1995 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it,” she responded that while it was a difficult issue, the deaths were, in fact, “worth it.” By “it,” she meant the attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a pro-US dictator, the same goal that US officials have in Iran. The sanctions on Iraq continued for another six years, until US officials used the 9/11 attacks as the excuse for invading Iraq and ousting Saddam from power, something they had failed to accomplish with 11 years of sanctions and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.

When an American named Bert Sacks took medicine to Iraq to help the Iraqi people, US officials went after him with a vengeance, first fining him and then spending many years in an obsessive quest to get their money from him. Make no mistake about it: If any American violates US sanctions against Iran by trying to help the Iranian people, US officials will go after him with all guns blaring, this time with both harsh criminal and civil penalties.

Think about what US officials did to the Iranian people in 1953. The CIA knowingly, intentionally, deliberately, and secretly ousted Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, from office and vested full dictatorial power in the Shah of Iran. The CIA trained the Shah and his secretive SAVAK police force, which was a combination Pentagon, CIA, and NSA, into one of the most tyrannical agencies in history. Torture. Assassination. Indefinite detention. Secret surveillance. Arbitrary arrests. Suppression of free speech. All of the things that were in the US national-security state’s playbook were vested in the Shah and his SAVAK.

After around 26 years of suffering under this horrific US-installed and US trained tyranny, the Iranian people finally violently revolted. The shame, however, was that they were unable to replace the Shah with the democratic regime that US officials had destroyed in 1953. They ended up with a theocratic tyranny.

Thus, it was with great ironic hypocrisy that Pompeo also recently derided the Iranian regime for its tyrannical practices. The irony and hypocrisy are three-fold: One, US officials are responsible for the theocratic tyranny under which the Iranian now suffer. Two, the US-installed Shah was every bit as tyrannical as the current Iranian regime is. And three, US officials have adopted some of the same dark-side practices here in the United States, e.g., torture, assassination, indefinite detention, denial of trial by jury, denial of due process of law, and denial of speedy trial, that are engaged in by dictatorial regimes.

US officials caring about and supporting the Iranian people? Don’t make me laugh. Just more lies from a deeply hypocritical interventionist and imperialist regime, one that targets the innocent with death and impoverishment with the aim of achieving a political goal.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pompeo-s-big-lie-on-iran/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/16/pompeo-s-big-lie-on-iran/ Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:16:06 GMT
Forever Wars! House Republicans Furious Over Iraq War Authorization Repeal Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/forever-wars-house-republicans-furious-over-iraq-war-authorization-repeal/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/forever-wars-house-republicans-furious-over-iraq-war-authorization-repeal/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/forever-wars-house-republicans-furious-over-iraq-war-authorization-repeal/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 16:38:22 GMT
Ukraine Remains the Signpost of World Politics Melkulangara Bhadrakumar http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/ukraine-remains-the-signpost-of-world-politics/

The ice in the frozen lake shifting is one of the coolest sounds you can hear. The air is cold but not freezing, and the woods are silent. The frozen lake looks like it’s been stopped in time, but beneath the placid surface it keeps shifting and moaning. The phenomenon produces amazing sci-fi sound — like a cracking whip.

The phone conversation between the presidents of Ukraine and Russia — Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin — last Friday brings to mind the frozen lake acoustics. It lasted for 20 minutes, long enough for two Russian-speaking statesmen to exchange opinions. Zelensky took the initiative, but most certainly, there was some advance planning.

The Kremlin readout was taciturn but acknowledged that the two leaders discussed “issues of a settlement in the southeast of Ukraine” and “opportunities to continue contacts in the Normandy format.” The Kremlin took care to play down the phone call.

Earlier last week, Zelensky had publicly suggested that he and Putin meet in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the conflict in Ukraine’s east and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. He added that he would like the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany to join the talks. Putin reacted to the idea saying he’s open for talks with Zelensky, but negotiations would be unlikely before Ukraine’s parliamentary elections due on July 21 and after a new Ukrainian Cabinet is formed. Evidently, back channels have been working.

There is a substantial section of opinion within Ukraine that favours restoration of friendly ties with Russia despite all that has happened — Crimea, et al. Arguably, it was this groundswell of opinion that coasted Zelensky to such a massive victory in the presidential election in April.

Moscow pinned hope on Zelensky’s victory. Since April, that hope has somewhat faded, as Moscow wonders how far Zelensky would capitalise on the popular opinion within Ukraine to move forward with Russia. Evidently, Moscow is encouraging a process in that direction and the back channel contacts serve that purpose.

However, the powerful constituency of Ukrainian nationalists who were the street fighters spearheading the ‘regime change’ in 2014 remain the great spoiler. They enjoy tacit western backing, too. The nationalists, who include neo-Nazi elements, are a violent lot and have a record of coercive methods to force their will on the authorities. And they are well organised in an otherwise highly fragmented political landscape.

The nationalists have challenged Zelensky.  Then, there is the parliament, which Zelensky did not control. The Ukrainian constitution vests with the parliament enormous powers regarding policies and cabinet appointments. Zelensky did the expected thing — he disbanded the parliament and called for fresh election under revised electoral laws that give weightage to proportional representation for political parties. He hopes that his newly formed party would muster a majority — or at the very least, it will be able to form the government with support from pro-Russia parties. It is not a misplaced hope, since his party is hugely popular.

Zelensky is walking a fine line. Certainly, the western powers, which backed the regime change in Ukraine in 2014, will not allow Zelensky a free hand to open a direct line to Moscow without their knowledge or consent. Last week, the G7 ambassadors questioned Zelensky’s prerogative to lustrate Ukrainian officials who held office after the regime change in 2014 (who are almost all western surrogates in key positions in the Ukrainian state apparatus.)

Under these circumstances, Moscow has no option but to mark time and wait for Zelensky to consolidate his grip on the power calculus in Kiev. Even then, he is dependent on western support and cannot make overtures to Moscow without the consent of the US and its EU allies. Clearly, the West will not let go its hard-fought control over Ukraine, whose geographical location is highly strategic — although Ukraine’s membership of NATO or the EU will be a long haul.

From the Russian perspective, the key would lie in breaking the stalemate in the separatist region of Donbas. The working group meeting on Donbas due on Wednesday in Minsk will be keenly watched for signs if Zelensky will discard his predecessor Petro Poroshenko’s anti-Russian line and instead adopt a constructive approach on Donbas. The return of Donbas to Ukraine is an electoral pledge Zelensky had made. Russia too favours such a denouement as the equilibrium of public opinion within Ukraine will decisively shift in favour of friendly relations with Russia if Donbas rejoins Ukraine.

Depending on the outcome of the expert-level meetings currently under way, a summit meeting of the Normandy Quartet (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) cannot be ruled out. However, the key question is how far the West is interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis?

To be sure, the West is apprehensive that Russia has ‘hidden resources’ within Ukraine to leverage Zelensky’s policies. Therefore, any proximity developing between Moscow and Kiev — or between Putin and Zelensky — will trigger disquiet in the western mind. Broadly, Zelensky is a good thing to have happened from the Russian viewpoint, but Moscow has to pretend otherwise lest he became a ‘burnt out’ case. The G7 ambassador’s demarche   to block Zelensky’s attempt to revamp the administration and wean it away from the legacy of the ‘Euromaidan’ only goes to show that there is a keen tussle going on to ensure that Moscow’s capacity to influence Kiev remains under severe scrutiny.

What happens in Ukraine in the coming months provides a signpost of the trajectory of Russia’s relations with the West. There are good and bad signs. The US’ transatlantic leadership has come under cloud due to Trump’s controversial policies (and abrasive behaviour), but in the final analysis, the US still wields enough influence to make sure that a common position with regard to Ukraine remains in place, especially in respect of the EU sanctions against Russia.

On the other hand, there is growing exasperation in Europe about Ukraine’s future. France and Germany also recognise that Russia’s cooperation is needed for addressing other regional and international issues of concern to Europe. China’s rise worries Europe and Russia has the potential to be a balancer, too.

The bottom line is that the present stalemate over Ukraine is actually a legacy of the Barack Obama presidency. How far Trump attaches centrality to Ukraine — as Obama did — is unclear. However,  within the US establishment, there is adherence to the compass set by Obama, which aimed to create discord between Russia and Europe, which strengthened the US’ transatlantic leadership and gave ballast to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Obama met with remarkable success in putting a spoke in the wheel of the Russo-German axis in the heart of Europe. Again, thanks to Obama, NATO is thriving today, with Russia providing it the much-needed ‘enemy’ image. The NATO has advanced to Russia’s borders and is lurching toward the Black Sea, which used to be a ‘Russian lake’ historically.

Reprinted with permission from IndianPunchline.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/ukraine-remains-the-signpost-of-world-politics/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/ukraine-remains-the-signpost-of-world-politics/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 13:33:40 GMT
Conservatives Against Liberty Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/conservatives-against-liberty/

Recently several prominent social and populist conservatives have attacked libertarianism. These conservatives, some of whom are allies in the fight against our hyper-interventionist foreign policy, blame libertarianism for a variety of social and economic ills. The conservative attack on libertarianism — like the attack on the freedom philosophy launched by leftists — is rooted in factual, economic, and philosophical errors.

Libertarianism’s right-wing critics claim libertarianism is the dominant ideology of the Republican establishment. This is an odd claim since the Republican leadership embraces anti-libertarian policies like endless wars, restrictions on civil liberties, government interference in our personal lives, and massive spending increases on welfare as well as warfare.

Anti-libertarian conservatives confuse libertarianism with the authoritarian “neoliberalism” embraced by both major parties. This confusion may be why these conservatives blame libertarians for the American middle class’s eroding standard of living. Conservatives are correct to be concerned about the economic challenges facing the average American, but they are mistaken to place the blame on the free market.

The American people are not suffering from an excess of free markets. They suffer from an excess of taxes, regulations, and, especially, fiat money. Therefore, populist conservatives should join libertarians in seeking to eliminate federal regulations, repeal the 16th Amendment, and restore a free-market monetary system.

Instead of fighting to end the welfare-regulatory system that benefits economic and political elites at the expense of average Americans, populist conservatives are promoting increased economic interventionism. For example, many populist conservatives support increased infrastructure spending and tariffs and other forms of protectionism.

Like all forms of central planning, these schemes prevent goods and services from being used for the purposes most valued by consumers. This distorts the marketplace and lowers living standards — including of people whose jobs are temporally saved or created by these government interventions. Those workers would be better off in the long term finding new jobs in a free market.

Anti-free-market conservatives ignore how their policies harm those they claim to care about. For example, protectionism harms farmers and others working in businesses depending on international trade.

The most common complaint of social conservatives is that libertarianism promotes immorality. These conservatives confuse a libertarian’s opposition to outlawing drugs, for example, with moral approval of drug use. Many libertarians condemn drug use and other destructive behaviors. However, libertarians reject the use of government force to prevent individuals from choosing to engage in these behaviors. Instead, libertarians support the right of individuals to use peaceful means to persuade others not to engage in destructive or immoral behaviors.

Libertarians also support the right of individuals not to associate with, or to subsidize in any way, those whose lifestyles or beliefs they find objectionable. Social conservatives object to libertarians because social conservatives wish to use government power to force people to be good. This is the worst type of statism because it seeks to control our minds and souls.

Most people accept the idea that it is wrong to initiate force against those engaging in peaceful behaviors. Libertarians apply this nonaggression principle to government. Making government follow the nonaggression principle would end unjust wars, income and inflation taxes, and the destruction caused by the use of force to control what we do with our property, how we raise our children, who we associate with, and what we put into our bodies. Making governments abide by the nonaggression principle is the only way to restore a society that is free, prosperous, and moral.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/conservatives-against-liberty/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/conservatives-against-liberty/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:41:15 GMT
Two-Faced Democrats Move to Prevent Trump’s Iran War Kurt Nimmo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/14/two-faced-democrats-move-to-prevent-trump-s-iran-war/

House Democrats and a few Republicans have approved an amendment to the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that they say will prevent President Trump from violating the Constitution by bombing the daylight out of Iran without approval from Congress.
The attempt to prevent Trump from engaging in the same illegal behavior as his predecessors was championed by the so-called Congressional Progressive Caucus.
You have to wonder where these guys were when Obama was sending his drones to kill women and children, assisting the venal Saudis in producing one of the largest humanitarian crises in modern history in Yemen, overseeing the destruction of Libya and the murder of its leader, and maintaining for eight years interventions in seven countries, as Paul Craig Roberts noted on the eve of Trump’s ascension to the imperial presidency throne.

Dr. Roberts hoped Trump would be different and live up to his campaign promise to end the wars and bring the troops home. We know how that turned out.

Now we’re told Trump didn’t dump the Iran deal at the behest of a cabal of vicious neocons, but rather to get back at Obama.
In other words, Iran isn’t about the desire of Israel to annihilate—starve, sabotage, murder—the competition, but rather a reflection of Trump’s opprobrious ego and his desire to take down by crude tweet attack anyone who disses him.

No doubt this is true, but it completely avoids the larger issue—the Israel-first neocons exploited Trump’s pathology to get him to attack Iran for the Zionist cause. Trump, at the last moment, backed down, no doubt after realizing this would really screw up his image and place in history.

As the late Justin Raimondo and others noted a decade ago, the progressives are only progressive when a Republican is bombing innocents. Obama and crew—later including the entirely reprehensible Hillary Clinton—did a fine job of destroying what remained of the antiwar movement formed during Republican Bush’s neocon-infested reign as Constitution violator.

“The entire 11-member leadership of the US Congressional Progressive Caucus has voted in favor of a House resolution that calls for isolation of Russia, urges the shipment of military weapons to the Ukrainian government, and encourages the United States and NATO to step up preparations for military confrontation with Russia,” critical commentary on the Progressive Caucus website points out.
Missing from the Congressional resolution is the background of NATO expansion eastward to Russia’s border in violation of the promise the United States made to Russia in 1989, as well as the US support for a coup government in Ukraine and the attacks of that government’s militias on ethnic Russians.

H. Res 758 denounces Russia for purchasing weapons, arming dictatorships, and allegedly invading sovereign nations—all actions in which the United States routinely engages.

The resolution calls on President Obama “to provide the Government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training,” and demands that NATO prepare for war in defense of Ukraine as a NATO member. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but NATO is pushing hard for its inclusion.

Arming ethno-fascists in Ukraine and flirting with a nuclear war capable of ending life on planet earth is now “progressive.”
The CPC and establishment liberals are not opposed to war, they merely want a Democrat to do the bombing and killing, not boastfully as the intellectual tree stump currently planted in the White House does, but smoothly and suavely like Obama the ruling elite groomed teleprompter reader.

Reprinted with permission from KurtNimmo.blog.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/14/two-faced-democrats-move-to-prevent-trump-s-iran-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/14/two-faced-democrats-move-to-prevent-trump-s-iran-war/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 19:22:07 GMT
Trump Consiglieres Giuliani and Bolton Paid Big Bucks by MEK Terrorist Group Kurt Nimmo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/trump-consiglieres-giuliani-and-bolton-paid-big-bucks-by-mek-terrorist-group/

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, his pockets stuffed with terrorist cash, tweeted on Saturday that MEK is a viable alternative to the rule of the mullahs in Iran. 
Rudy, of course, didn’t bother to point out that NCRI is a front organization for MEK, short for Mojahedin-e Khalq, the terrorist organization that wants, with the help of the neocons, to rule Iran. 

According to research conducted by Ivan Kesić, a freelance writer for The Iranian, MEK is a terrorist organization on par with the Islamic State. 

Kesić writes that “based on the facts and figures, due to the terrorist attacks committed by the Mujahedin-e Khalq more than 16,000 people have been killed in Iran alone, not counting their atrocities against Iranian and Iraqi civilians during the Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 uprisings in Iraq. Their tactics included bomb attacks, targeted assassinations, aircraft hijackings, and so on. Only from 26 August 1981 to December 1982, the MEK conducted 336 terrorist attacks against targets in Iran.”

Americans were not immune from violence, according to Kesić: 
Mujahedin-e Khalq has also conducted attacks against numerous Western targets, both in Europe, North America and elsewhere. In the early 1970s, MEK members killed several US soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Such victims included US Army Lt. Col. Lewis L. Hawkins who was assassinated in June 1973, US Army officers Col. Paul Shaffer and Lt. Col. Jack Turner killed in May 1975, an Iranian employee at the US Embassy in Tehran two months later, and US civilian contractors Robert R. Krongrad, William C. Cottrell Jr. and Donald G. Smith assassinated by four gunmen in August 1976. Furthermore, in May 1972 US Air Force General Harold L. Price was seriously wounded in attempted assassination. Several hours later, the MEK had a plan to assassinate US President Richard Nixon and they blasted a bomb at mausoleum where Nixon was scheduled to attend a ceremony just 45 minutes after the explosion. In November 1970, a failed attempt was made to kidnap the US Ambassador to Iran, Douglas MacArthur II. MEK gunmen ambushed MacArthur’s limousine while he and his wife were en route their house. Shots were fired at the vehicle and a hatchet was hurled through the rear window, however, MacArthur remained unharmed. During the same period, MEK operatives also committed bombing of facilities of Pan-Am Airlines, Pan-American Oil, Shell Oil, and of gates of British Embassy.
Even Wikipedia, the establishment’s online encyclopedia of spin and historical omission, admits NCRI is a front for MEK. 
The organization has appearance of a broad-based coalition; however many analysts consider NCRI and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) to be synonymous, taking the former to be an umbrella organization or alias for the latter, and recognize NCRI as an only “nominally independent” political wing or front for MEK. Both organizations are considered to be led by Massoud Rajavi and his wife Maryam Rajavi. 
Not surprisingly, one of the most ardent Zionists to ever sit in Congress, Joe Lieberman, supports NCRI-cum-MEK and likely feeds at same MEK trough as Giuliani. 

None other than establishment propaganda paragon Politico reported the former New York mayor’s affection for MEK cash. 
According to a financial disclosure reported on by The New York Times, Giuliani has been speechifying at hyperspeed for years, collecting $11.4 million for 124 appearances in just one year—and that was before signing up for the MeK gravy train around 2011. Perhaps he just didn’t have time to consider the character of his paymaster.
The euphonious sounding “2019 Free Iran conference” will be held this weekend at the MEK compound in Albania. The terrorist organization has produced a video announcing the arrival of the wined-and-dined, many undoubtedly on the payroll. 
The NCRI née MEK proudly announced the following participants: 
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former United States Senator Joe Lieberman, Foreign French Foreign Ministers Michèle Alliot-Marie and Bernard Kouchner, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, former US Senator Robert Torricelli and hundreds of other international lawmakers, official and dignitaries attend the Iranian opposition’s 2019 Free Iran conference in ‘Ashraf 3’, the headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK or PMOI) in Albania. Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi is the event’s keynote speaker.
The chief neocon warmonger and Trump national security adviser, John Bolton, was not included on the above list. 

“There have been quite a few former officials, politicians, and retired military officers that have been cheerleading for the MEK over the last few years, but Bolton is one of their oldest and most consistent American supporters,” writes Daniel Larison

Bolton, like Giuliani, is slimy with MEK blood money. 
Reprinted with permission from KurtNimmo.blog.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/trump-consiglieres-giuliani-and-bolton-paid-big-bucks-by-mek-terrorist-group/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/trump-consiglieres-giuliani-and-bolton-paid-big-bucks-by-mek-terrorist-group/ Sat, 13 Jul 2019 18:02:30 GMT
Turkey Calls Trump's Bluff Eric Margolis http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/turkey-calls-trumps-bluff/

Turkey has just called Donald Trump’s bluff by going ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The outrage in Washington is volcanic. Trump is vowing to rain fire and brimstone sanctions down on the disobedient Turks.

The S-400 is Russia’s premier anti-air missile. It is believed highly effective against all forms of aircraft – including stealth planes – cruise missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, drones, and some other types of missiles. It offers the choice of a self-directing version with its own radar seeker, or a less expensive, "semi-active" version that is guided by its launch-battery radar.

What makes this AA missile (SS-21 in NATO terminology) particularly deadly is its remarkable 400 km range. The S-400 is said by Russia to be able to unmask stealth aircraft. I’ve been told by Soviet security officials as far back as 1990 that their radars could detect US stealth aircraft.

The missile’s remarkable range and detection capability puts at risk some of the key elements of US war fighting capability, notably the E-3 AWACS airborne radar aircraft, US electronic warfare aircraft, tankers and, of course, fighters like the new stealth F-35, improved F-15’s, F-22’s and B-1, B-2 and venerable B-52 heavy bombers used to carry long-ranged cruise missiles.

The Russian AA system can "shoot and scoot" – firing and then quickly moving. Even more important, the S-400 system costs about half the price of its leading competitor, the US Patriot PAC-2 system. The S-400 may also be more reliable and accurate. The Great White Father in Washington is not happy.

The Trump administration brought heavy pressure on Turkey not to buy the S-400, threatening to cancel Turkey’s order for 100 of the new, stealthy F-35’s. Few thought the Turks would defy the US on this issue, but they failed to understand the depths of Turkey’s anger at the US.

Most Turks believe that the US engineered the failed 2016 coup against the democratic government in Ankara working through a shadowy religious organization run by the spiritual-political leader, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States. Turkey’s elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been too independent-minded for Washington, clashing over US policy to Syria and the Gulf. He had also incurred the wrath of America’s Israel lobby for demanding justice for the Palestinians.

Turkey is now under economic attack by Washington. President Trump is threatening sanctions (read economic warfare) against Turkey, an old, loyal US ally. During the Korean War, Turkish troops saved American soldiers from Chinese encirclement. But Turks are mostly Muslim, and Muslims are hated by Trump and his allies.

S-400 missiles are now arriving in Turkey. What will Trump do? Cancel sale to Turkey of the F-35 and other military equipment or spare parts. Threaten to oust Turkey from NATO. Get Israel and Greece to menace Turkey.

Turkey can live without the F-35. It’s too expensive and may be more vulnerable than advertised. The Turks can get similar, less expensive warplanes from Russia. India and China are both buying the S-400. Even the Saudis may join them though Moscow is delaying the sale. S-400’s are also stationed in Syria with Russian forces and are slated to go to sea in a naval version.

If the US reacts with even more anger, Turkey could threaten to withdraw from NATO and kick the US out of its highly strategic air base in southeast Turkey at Incirlik. It’s worth recalling that Turkey provided NATO’s second largest army after the US. Someone has to remind the deeply unknowing Trump that NATO without Turkey will be declawed. Equally important, that a Turkey unconstrained by NATO membership, will seek sources of oil which it lacks and desperately needs, and new alliances.

Only a century ago, Iraq’s rich oil fields used to be part of the Ottoman Empire until taken away by the British and French imperial powers. The days of a subservient, tame Turkey may be ending.

Reprinted with permission from EricMargolis.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/turkey-calls-trumps-bluff/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/13/turkey-calls-trumps-bluff/ Sat, 13 Jul 2019 15:41:00 GMT
Mueller Does Not Have Evidence That The IRA Was Part of Russian Government Meddling Larry C. Johnson http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/mueller-does-not-have-evidence-that-the-ira-was-part-of-russian-government-meddling/

In the criminal case against alleged Russian operatives - Internet Research Agency and Concord Management and Consulting LLC - a Federal judge has declared that Robert Mueller has not offered one piece of solid evidence that these defendants were involved in any way with the Government of Russia. I think this is a potential game changer. 

The world of law as opposed to the world of intelligence is as different as Mercury and Mars. The intelligence community aka IC can traffic in rumor and speculation. IC "solid" intelligence may be nothing more than the strident assertion of a source who lacks actual first hand knowledge of an event. The legal world does not enjoy that kind of sloppiness. If a prosecutor makes a claim, i.e., Jack shot Jill, then said prosecutor must show that Jack owned a firearm that matches the bullets recovered from Jill's body. Then the prosecutor needs to show that Jack was with Jill when the shooting took place and that forensic evidence recovered from Jack showed he had fired a firearm. Keep this distinction in mind as you consider what has transpired in the case against the Internet Research Agency and Concord Management and Consulting.

To understand why Judge Friedrich ruled as he did you must understand Local Rule 57.7. That rule:
restricts public dissemination of information by attorneys involved in criminal cases where 'there is a reasonable likelihood that such dissemination will interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the administration of justice.' It also authorizes the court '[i]n a widely publicized or sensational criminal case' to issue a special order governing extrajudicial statements and other matters designed to limit publicity that might interfere with the conduct of a fair trial. . . . The rule prohibits lawyers associated with the prosecution or defense from publishing, between the time of the indictment and the commencement of trial, '[a]ny opinion as to the accused’s guilt or innocence or as to the merits of the case or the evidence in the case.'
In short, the US Government cannot come out and declare that Concord Management, for example, was acting on behalf or or in collaboration with the Russian Government without presenting actual evidence. A prosecutor cannot simply claim that Concord is a Putin Stooge.

The lawyers for Concord Management read the Mueller report and noted significant discrepancies between what was alleged in the original complaint and what was asserted as "fact" in the Mueller report.
On April 25, 2019, Concord filed the instant motion in which it argues that the Attorney General and Special Counsel violated Local Rule 57.7 by releasing information to the public that was not contained in the indictment. Concord’s main contention is that the Special Counsel’s Report, as released to the public, and the Attorney General’s related public statements improperly suggested a link between the defendants and the Russian government and expressed an opinion about the defendants’ guilt and the evidence against them.
Concord's lawyers wanted Judge Friedrich to find Robert Mueller and Attorney General Barr in contempt for violating rule 57.7.

Judge Friedrich gave Concord a partial victory:
Although the Court agrees that the government violated Rule 57.7, it disagrees that contempt proceedings are an appropriate response to that violation. Instead, the Court has entered an order limiting public statements about this case moving forward and cautions the government that any future violations of that order will trigger a range of potential sanctions.
But the Judge did not stop there. He pointed out some glaring discrepancies between the Mueller Report and the actual indictment:
The Special Counsel Report describes efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. . . . But the indictment . . . does not link the defendants to the Russian government. Save for a single allegation that Concord and Concord Catering had several 'government contracts' (with no further elaboration), id. ¶ 11, the indictment alleges only private conduct by private actors.

. . . the concluding paragraph of the section of the [Mueller] Report related to Concord states that the Special Counsel’s 'investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election through the "active measures" social media campaign carried out by' Concord’s co-defendant, the Internet Research Agency (IRA). By attributing IRA’s conduct to 'Russia' — as opposed to Russian individuals or entities — the Report suggests that the activities alleged in the indictment were undertaken on behalf of, if not at the direction of, the Russian government.

Similarly, the Attorney General drew a link between the Russian government and this case during a press conference in which he stated that '[t]he Special Counsel’s report outlines two main efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.' . . . The '[f]irst' involved 'efforts by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government, to sow social discord among American voters through disinformation and social media operations.' Id. The '[s]econd' involved 'efforts by Russian military officials associated with the GRU,' a Russian intelligence agency, to hack and leak private documents and emails from the Democratic Party and the Clinton Campaign.

The Report explains that it used the term 'established' whenever 'substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence.' . . . It then states in its conclusion that the Special Counsel’s 'investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election through the "active measures" social media campaign carried out by the IRA.' In context, this statement characterizes the evidence against the defendants as 'substantial' and 'credible,' and it provides the Special Counsel’s Office’s 'conclusion' about what actually occurred.
But the activities of the IRA and Concord Management are not established. In fact, Mueller's own report undermines his claims, as noted in a recent article by Nation's Aaron Mate. Although Mueller claims that it was "established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election through the ‘active measures’ social media campaign carried out by” Concord’s co-defendant, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), he provided no such evidence. According to Mate:
After two years and $35 million, Mueller apparently failed to uncover any direct evidence linking the Prigozhin-controlled IRA's activities to the Kremlin. His best evidence is that '[n]umerous media sources have reported on Prigozhin's ties to Putin, and the two have appeared together in public photographs.'
Mate's article, as I mentioned in a previous piece, does an excellent job of showing that the Mueller Report is based on heartfelt beliefs but devoid of corroborating evidence. 

Some readers will insist that Mueller and his team have actual intelligence but cannot put that in an indictment. Well boys and girls, here is a simple truth - if you cannot produce evidence that can be presented in court then you do not have a case. There is that part of the Constitution that allows those accused of a crime to confront their accusers. 

Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/mueller-does-not-have-evidence-that-the-ira-was-part-of-russian-government-meddling/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/mueller-does-not-have-evidence-that-the-ira-was-part-of-russian-government-meddling/ Fri, 12 Jul 2019 14:19:39 GMT
Americans Should Adopt Unilateral Free Trade Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/americans-should-adopt-unilateral-free-trade/

Given the ongoing destruction of liberty and prosperity from President Trump’s trade wars, tariffs, sanctions, and embargoes, it’s time to think at a higher level, one that goes beyond mere criticism of Trump’s trade antics. It’s time to think in terms of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government, all of which translate to the idea of unilateral free trade.

What does unilateral free trade mean? It means that the US government should simply lift, dismantle, abolish, repeal, and end all of its tariffs, trade restrictions, sanctions, embargoes, import quotas, and trade wars. No meetings. No negotiations. No demands. No “free trade” agreements. Just free the American people to travel wherever they want and trade with whomever they want.

Does this mean that other nations will do the same? Nope. Other nations might follow suit but not necessarily. Should that affect America’s decision to adopt a policy of unilateral free trade? Absolutely not! Americans should be liberated to travel and trade with others regardless of what foreign regimes are doing in their particular nations.

First and foremost is the principle of liberty. When people are living under a regime that wields the power to control the economic exchanges they enter into with others, there is no way for those people to be considered genuinely free. Freedom necessarily entails the right to travel wherever one wants to travel and trade with whomever he wants to trade. Any infringement on freedom of travel and freedom of trade, whether through tariffs, import quotas, trade restrictions, sanctions, embargoes, and trade wars, constitutes a severe violation of the principles of liberty.

Secondarily is the concept of prosperity and rising standards of living. It is an axiom that in every trade, both sides benefit, from their own individual perspective. That’s because in every trade, a person is giving up something he values less for something he values more. Every time a shopper buys any item from another person, he has improved his standard of living, and so has the seller. At the moment of the trade, they have both given up something they value less for something they value more.

Thus, whenever the government adopts rules, regulations, policies, or laws that interfere with the freedom of people to trade with others, the government is harming people’s economic well-being and reducing their standard of living.

Throughout history, people have been forced to live under regimes that wield the power to control trade. It’s time for one nation to lead the rest of the world out of this statist morass. I say that that nation should be America. Here is what I propose: A constitutional amendment stating the following: “No law shall be enacted, by either the federal government or the state governments, respecting the regulation of trade, or abridging the free exercise thereof.”

The advantage of a constitutional amendment, as compared to simply repealing, ending, abolishing, and dismantling Trump’s sanctions, embargoes, trade restrictions, tariffs, and trade wars is that the American people would no longer have to concern themselves with some president or Congress imposing, willy-nilly, some new restriction on their freedom to travel and their freedom to trade. If Trump, for example, wakes up some morning and suddenly and impulsively decides to start a trade war against China, someone can quickly file suit in federal court to get his trade war enjoined as a violation of the free-trade clause in the Constitution.

On July 4, Americans celebrated the Declaration of Independence, a document that points out that everyone, including Americans, possesses the natural, God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t it time for Americans to recapture those rights by prohibiting their own government from infringing upon them? A good place to begin would be the adoption of a policy of unilateral free trade and a constitutional amendment enshrining it into law.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/americans-should-adopt-unilateral-free-trade/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/12/americans-should-adopt-unilateral-free-trade/ Fri, 12 Jul 2019 13:53:14 GMT
Iran Keeps Calm While US And Britain Continue Their Provocations Moon of Alabama http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/iran-keeps-calm-while-us-and-britain-continue-their-provocations/

Great Britain has joined the US pressure and provocation campaign against Iran. It is creating incidents to put Iran into a defensive position and to provoke into a violent reaction.

Early today 'two US officials' spread a scare story about Iran which lead to this CNN headline: Iranian boats attempted to seize a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz
Armed Iranian boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident.

The British Heritage tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by boats from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, according to the officials.
The same 'two US officials' briefed ABCNews:
A British warship prevented an apparent attempt by five Iranian small boats to direct a British oil tanker towards Iranian waters on Wednesday, according to two US officials.
Remarkably the official British report came later than the US officials briefing. It showed significant differences:
The UK defence ministry said that "three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz."

"HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away," the ministry statement said.
...
"There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones," the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement.
The US officials claimed 5, not 3 boats. They claimed the boats tried to seize the ship, while the Brits just say they probably were getting in the way of the ship. The US officials 'direct knowledge of the incident' seems to be lacking. Iran says that nothing happened at all.

There are reasons to believe that the Iranian statement is the most truthful one.

The BRITISH HERITAGE is a crude oil carrier with an overall length of 274 m, a beam of 49 m and a maximum draft of 17.8 m. How three of the typical 20 feet long fiberglass speedboats of the IRGC could try to 'seize' or even 'impede' such a huge ships is not conceivable.

According to CNN the ship came from Basra, Iraq, had stopped at the Saudi coast and then left the Persian Gulf. It was not carrying any cargo at the time of the incident. That is quite curious as a crude oil carrier is typical loading and not delivering crude to Persian Gulf countries.

Here is a Marine Traffic chart of the last course of the British Heritage.

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Of interest is also that the ship turned off its AIS signal, see the dotted line, during its passage through the Hormuz Strait.

CNN also noted that:
On July 10, the ship turned off its transponders for almost 24 hours, making it undetectable by radars. When it switched on its transponders at around 1pm Eastern Time, it appeared to have sailed through the Persian Gulf escorted by the HMS Montrose.
Turning of the AIS in a high traffic area and especially at night is quite dangerous. The AIS signals a ships type, speed and course and other ships use that data to plan their own course. But even without AIS the ship will still be visible on the Iranian surveillance radars that control the Hormuz Strait. A ship on the radar screen without AIS information would be suspicious.

So why would the British ship do that? Was that an attempt to draw special attention to it from the Iranian coast guard or military?

To me it seems that the empty British crude carrier, which was shadowed by a British frigate, was used as bait. There were probably Royal Marines on board waiting for an Iranian attempt to seize the ship. Iran did not fall for it.

On July 4 the British military in Gibraltar hijacked the tanker GRACE 1 which was carrying Iranian crude oil allegedly to Syria. The ship had planned to receive provisions in Gibraltar. The British controlled enclave changed its local regulations only a day before the ship arrived:
The new regulation, introduced on July 3, allows Gibraltar to designate and detain ‘specified ships’ for up to 72 hours if the chief minister has reasonable grounds to suspect a breach of EU regulations.

Crucially, Grace 1 can be held until any other legal proceedings in other jurisdictions against the owners of the cargo or tanker are settled. The seizure has triggered a diplomatic row between the UK and Iran, amid claims the detention was done at the behest of the US.
Tomasz Wlostowski, a lawyer specialized in EU regulatory affairs, found that there is no legal base in EU sanctions law and regulations to nab the tanker.

Today the police of Gibraltar arrested the captain of the ship:
The spokesman confirmed too that documents and electronic devices have been seized from the ship.

Both men were arrested on Thursday afternoon interviewed under caution. Neither has been charged at this stage and investigations continue.

On July 3 a US military spy plane crossed into Iranian airspace, twice, likely to provoke an reaction. The pirating of the GRACE 1 on July 4 was a US planned provocation of Iran but carried out by the Brits. The passage of the empty BRITISH HERITAGE without AIS but with a military shadow seems to have been an attempt to lure Iran into a revenge action. When that did not work John Bolton strew the scare story about a failed attempt to 'seize' the ship. The Brits say the incident was less serious, and Iran says it never happened. The arrest of the captain of the GRACE 1 is another step on the provocation ladder.

The people who planned these provocation do not understand how Iran acts and reacts. Its military forces are obviously under orders not to react to provocations as such could allow the John Bolton's of this world to escalate towards a war.

Iran will react to these provocations and especially the British seizure of its tanker. But, as we noted in an earlier piece, its responses to such incidents are nearly always asymmetrical and come at an unexpected place and time.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/iran-keeps-calm-while-us-and-britain-continue-their-provocations/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/iran-keeps-calm-while-us-and-britain-continue-their-provocations/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 20:28:37 GMT
Fake News? CNN Claims Iran Tried To Seize UK Tanker Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/fake-news-cnn-claims-iran-tried-to-seize-uk-tanker/
]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/fake-news-cnn-claims-iran-tried-to-seize-uk-tanker/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/fake-news-cnn-claims-iran-tried-to-seize-uk-tanker/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 16:27:57 GMT
The Death of Privacy: Government Fearmongers to Read Your Mail Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/the-death-of-privacy-government-fearmongers-to-read-your-mail/

It is discouraging to note just how the United States has been taking on the attributes of a police state since 9/11. Stories of police raids on people’s homes gone wrong are frequently in the news. In one recent incident, a heavily armed SWAT team was sent to a St. Louis county home. The armed officers entered the building without knocking, shot the family dog and forced the family members to kneel on the floor where they were able to watch their pet struggle and then die. The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.

Indeed, any encounter with any police at any level has now become dangerous. Once upon a time it was possible to argue with an officer over the justification for a traffic ticket, but that is no longer the case. You have to sit with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel while answering “Yes sir!” to anything the cop says. There have been numerous incidents where the uncooperative driver is ordered to get out of the car and winds up being tasered or shot.

Courts consistently side with police officers and with the government when individual rights are violated while the Constitution of the United States itself has even been publicly described by the president as “archaic” and “a bad thing for the country.” The National Security Agency (NSA) routinely and illegally collects emails and phone calls made by citizens who have done nothing wrong and the government even denies to Americans the right to travel to countries that it disapproves of, most recently Cuba.

And traveling itself has become an unpleasant experience even before one sits down in the 17 inches of seat-space offered by major airlines, with the gropers of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acting as judge, jury and executioner for travelers who have become confused by the constantly changing rules about what they can do and carry with them. The TSA is now routinely“examining” the phones and laptops of travelers and even downloading the information on them, all without a warrant or probable cause. And the TSA even has a “little list” that identifies travelers who are uncooperative and flags them for special harassment.

Congress is considering bills that will make criticism of Israel a crime, establishing a precedent that will end freedom of speech, and the impending prosecution and imprisonment of Julian Assange for espionage will be the death of a truly free press. Americans are no longer guaranteed a trial by jury and can be held indefinitely by military tribunals without charges. Under George W. Bush torture and rendition were institutionalized while Barack Obama initiated the practice of executing US citizens overseas by drone if they were deemed to be a “threat.” There was no legal process involved and “kill” lists were updated every Tuesday morning. And perhaps the greatest crimes of all, both Obama and George W. Bush did not hesitate to bomb foreigners, bring about regime change, and start wars illegally in Asia and Africa.

The latest assault on civil liberties relates to what used to be referred to as privacy. Indeed, the United States government does not recognize that citizens have a right to privacy. Officials in the national security and intelligence agencies have reportedly become concerned that some new encryption systems being used for email traffic and telephones have impeded government monitoring of what information is being exchanged. As is often the case, “terrorism” is the principal reason being cited for the need to read and listen to the communications of ordinary citizens, but it should be observed in passing that more people in the US are killed annually by falling furniture than by acts of terror. It should also be noted that the federal, state and local governments as well as private companies spend well in excess of a trillion dollars every year to fight the terrorism threat, most of which is completely unnecessary or even counter-productive.

At the end of June senior Trump Administration officials connected to the National Security Council met to discuss what to do about the increasing use of the effective encryption systems by both the public and by some internet service providers, including Apple, Google and Facebook. Particular concern was expressed regarding systems that cannot be broken by NSA at all even if maximum resources using the Agency’s computers are committed to the task. It is a condition referred to by the government agencies as “going dark.”

Under discussion was a proposal to go to Congress and to ask for a law either forbidding so-called end-to-end encryption or mandating a technological fix enabling the government to circumvent it. End-to-end encryption, which scrambles a message so that it is only readable by the sender and recipient, was developed originally as a security feature for iPhones in the wake of the whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposure of the extent to which NSA was surveilling US citizens. End-to-end makes most communications impossible to hack. From the law enforcement point of view, the alternative to a new law banning or requiring circumvention of the feature would be a major and sustained effort to enable government agencies to break the encryption, something that may not even be possible.

In the past, government snooping was enabled by some of the communications providers themselves, with companies like AT&T engineering in so-called “backdoor” access to their servers and distribution centers, where messages could be read directly and phone calls recorded. But the end-to-end encryption negates that option by sending a message out on the ethernet that is unreadable.

Phone security was last in the news in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack that killed 14, where the Department of Justice took Apple to court to access a locked iPhone belonging to one of the gunmen. Apple refused to create software to open the phone but the FBI was able to find a technician who could do so and the case was dropped, resulting in no definitive legal precedent on the government’s ability to force a private company to comply with its demands.

There is apparently little desire in Congress to take up the encryption issue, though the National Security Council, headed by John Bolton, clearly would like to empower government law enforcement and intelligence agencies by banning unbreakable encryption completely. It is, however, possibly something that can be achieved through an Executive Order from the president. If it comes about that way, FBI, CIA and NSA will be pleased and will have easy access to all one’s emails and phone calls. But the price to be paid is that once the security standards are lowered anyone else with minimal technical resources will be able to do the same, be they hackers or criminals. As usual, a disconnected and tone-deaf government’s perceived need “to keep you safe” will result in a loss of fundamental liberty that, once it is gone, will never be recovered.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/the-death-of-privacy-government-fearmongers-to-read-your-mail/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/11/the-death-of-privacy-government-fearmongers-to-read-your-mail/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 12:52:28 GMT