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Daniel McAdams

American Exceptionalism: Putin, the Neocons, and Ron Paul

When Russian President Vladimir Putin took his American counterpart to task in a recent New York Times Editorial over Obama's invocation of the standard neoconservative boilerplate "American exceptionalism" to justify an aggressive US foreign policy, US neocons shrieked in unison. How dare he, they cried.

But to the neoconservatives, American exceptionalism has nothing to do with civil liberties, personal freedom, limited government, free markets, and the like. It is only the exeptionalism of the US sword, going abroad to seek monsters to destroy. It is only the exeptionalism of military might to force the world to follow US dictates.

Putin pushed back against this kind of false and ahistoric American exceptionalism and, likely because his argument made so much sense to the average American who is sick of war and aggression overseas, the neoconservatives suffered fits of convulsions and intestinal distress. Neoconserative Senator Robert Menendez, who has long dreamed of another Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, felt like he "wanted to vomit" after reading Putin's words. House Speaker John Boehner felt "insulted" by Putin. John McCain felt his intelligece insulted by Putin's comments.
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Hillary Mann Leverett: 'Obama Made Two Unforced Errors, in Libya and Syria'

Listen to Ron Paul Institute Academic Advisor Hillary Mann Leverett on the always-terrific Robert Wenzel Show discuss the intricacies of the Middle East. Ms. Mann Leverett is a rare breed of international affairs expert: she knows the region like nobody else, her expertise both inside and outside government is unquestionable; yet she retains a realistic rather than messianic view of what should be the US role in the world. How lucky her American University students are to have such a professor! And we greatly value her friendship as well.
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Congressional Danse Macabre Has Begun

Danse Macabre1

The first draft of the White House's war authorization legislation was leaked today, signaling the opening round of the danse macabre, in which the bargaining and maneuvering over what Congress and the president both want -- war on Syria -- begins its public journey from conception to law.

As according to past practice, the first draft is considered "too broad" for some Members and Senators. Senator Patrick Leahy opened the bidding, emerging from a closed-door classified intelligence briefing (the kind where the doctored intercepts and phony satellite photos are spread out before Members to better help them make the "right" decision) stating that the first draft of the war authorization was "too open-ended," but that he is certain it will be amended in the Senate. 

Similarly, Republican Senator Pat Roberts felt the first draft was too open-ended but was given assurances that the White House would work with Congress to reach an acceptable version.

There will be fighting and sharp words along the way. Members will be coy and make impassioned speeches. It is all for show.

It is important to make this clear to readers: The fight is not between whether the House and Senate will pass or reject the president's request for authorization to attack, but rather what kind of force authorization will ultimately be brought to the Floor for passage.
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Obama's Syria Dossier: 'Trust Us'

US Missile Syria

Release of the long-awaited US government intelligence dossier on the alleged chemical attack in Syria on Aug. 21, had been moved and postponed until the media black-hole of a Friday afternoon before a big US holiday weekend. 

Now we see why.

Here is the crux of the White House argument for war on Syria: 

A chemical attack took place. Trust us. Someone (the Israelis) told us they tapped a call where two Syrian government officials talked about the attack in an incriminating way. Trust us. The Syrian government was moving troops around in a way that suggested they were about to launch a chemical attack. Trust us. More than 1,400 people were killed even though at most a couple of dozen were seem in the videos that purported to be of the attack. Never mind, trust us. We watched a lot of YouTube videos of people who seemed to be suffering from a chemical weapons attack. Trust us.
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Obama's Flimsy Case For Attacking Syria Falls Apart

Obamacameron

It started with Secretary of State John Kerry. On Monday, he made the Obama Administration's preliminary case for a US attack on Syria. He promised an administration response, after watching the YouTube videos of people suffering from some sort of attack in Syria had convinced him that the Syrian government had carried out an attack on innocent civilians. Anyone who questions this, he said, "needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass." That's it. With an intelligence budget of at least $100 billion plus, the Secretary of State is getting his information on what is happening in Syria through videos made by the US-allied opposition and uploaded to YouTube for propaganda value. 

At best these videos only show the half-truth that their makers are seeking to convey. It is a very shaky foundation upon which to base a US war on a foreign country. His moral outrage that anyone might be skeptical about these videos is undermined by the incontrovertible fact that the Syrian opposition has a long history of falsifying evidence -- including fake videos -- of the Syrian government's war crimes. 

All sides use propaganda in a war situation and have done so since the beginning of man's war on man.
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US Set to Launch 'Iraq, The Sequel', in Syria

Missile Strike

If you liked the run up to the US attack on Iraq, with the lurid fictional tales of mobile chemical weapons labs and Saddam's nukes, you will love "Iraq, The Sequel", currently unfolding in Syria. It is everything the interventionists have been hoping for: a heady brew of Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya all rolled into one. The possibility for an infinitely more toxic conflagration is exponentially higher, to boot, adding for the interventionists much excitement to the mix.

Here is the latest:

A fourth US warship capable of launching the type of cruise missiles that turned Libya to rubble and paved the way for al-Qaeda affiliates to take control of that country is now rushing to the waters off of Syria, ready to unleash destruction. Chuck Hagel, who some antiwar commentators foolishly believed would put an end to Washington's military adventurism, is feverishly preparing plans for President Obama to attack. The media worldwide,  interventionist to the core, is pushing willing leaders in the US, France, and the UK to finally treat Syria to another devastating "liberation."

What has prompted this sudden dramatic move just over the past few days toward a Western invasion of Syria? A pretext. A claimed chemical attack near Damascus that has produced, according to an estimate from Médecins Sans Frontières, perhaps some 300 deaths. It is unclear whether a bona fide chemical attack has taken place, and it is even more unclear who might be responsible should the attack indeed be the work of some chemical agent. Yet all of a sudden another Washington/Paris/London war is to be set in motion. How banal the triggers for war have become. Almost like a video game.
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McCain and Graham's Strange Egyptian Adventure

Egypt Obama

What was President Obama thinking? Last week's trip to Egypt by the neoconservative dynamic duo, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, seemed like an improbably bad idea from the start. In the highly delicate situation inside Egypt, where the military is expected at any moment to initiate another bloody crackdown against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, Graham and McCain would not be most people's choice to smooth tensions.

Nevertheless it was reported that they traveled at the request of the US President in attempt to diffuse the increasing anti-American sentiment in all sectors of the Egyptian political universe. Indeed, the one position unifying nearly all political factions in Egypt is a deep disgust with the current US administration. Perhaps it is that commonality that the two senators hoped to build on. If that was the case, they certainly did not dissapoint.
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McCain Declares War on Russia

Mccain War

Fresh off of his flip-flop on aid to Egypt and his threats to vote for the left (neocon) interventionists in the Democratic Party should anyone remotely non-interventionist succeed in gaining the Republican nomination to be the next president, Senator John McCain is determined to light a new fire under the long dead ashes of the Cold War. However, he no doubt chokes on the smoke of irony as he fumbles with his matches.

What has set McCain’s neoconservative nerve on edge is the finalization yesterday of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s request for temporary asylum in Russia. According to McCain and his fellow neocons, when Washington demands extradition the rest of the world must immediately comply, regardless of the circumstances.

However, as William Blum points out yesterday in Counterpunch:

[A]ccording to the Russian Interior Ministry, 'Law agencies asked the US on many occasions to extradite wanted criminals through Interpol channels, but those requests were neither met nor even responded to.' Amongst the individuals requested are militant Islamic insurgents from Chechnya, given asylum in the United States.

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