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Philip Giraldi

Washington Invented Hacking and Interfering in Elections

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Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “US agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.

Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “ While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT…was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]

Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”
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America or Israel? Quislings in Congress and the Media Need to Decide Which Comes First

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I am reluctant to write about the “Israel problem” at the heart of US foreign policy two weeks in a row but it seems that the story just will not go away as the usual suspects pile on the Barack Obama Administration over its alleged betrayal of America’s “best and greatest friend and ally in the whole world.”

Even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his gaggle of war criminals continue to foam at the mouth over the United Nations vote it is, in truth, difficult to blame Israel for what is happening. The Israelis are acting on what they see as their self interest in dominating their neighbors militarily and having a free hand to deal with the Palestinians in any way they see fit. And as for their relationship with Washington, what could be better than getting billions of dollars every year, advanced weapons and unlimited political cover in exchange for absolutely nothing?

Surely even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that the settlements are illegal under international law and are an impediment to any peaceful resolution with the Palestinians, which is what Resolution 2334 says. It has been US policy to oppose them since they first starting popping up like mushrooms, but Netanyahu has encouraging their expansion in full knowledge that he is creating facts on the ground that will be irreversible. He has also pledged to his voters that he will not permit the creation of a Palestinian state, so why should anyone be confused about his intentions?
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The War on Terror: Anyway You Look at it, it's a Failure

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The twenty-first century, at least up until this point, might well be described as the age of the terrorist. Even though most Americans and Europeans rank terrorism as low among their concerns, the repercussions when a terrorist attack does take place are greatly magnified by the sheer horror associated with the mass killing of innocent people going about their daily lives.

There are a couple of annual reports that look at terrorism as a global phenomenon. The best known is the U.S. State Department’s Annual Country Reports on Terrorism that comes out in the Summer and covers the previous year. It is mandated by Congress and is largely based on Embassy and intelligence community sources.

The Country Reports purports to be an objective review of the year’s terrorist incidents as well as an overview of some of the players to include a discussion of “violent extremism” issues region by region and country by country. It is a valuable resource which provides considerable information on the various militant groups and the crimes attributed to them as well as their involvement globally. But it is nevertheless a government document. The Obama Administration definitely has had a point of view on what constitutes terrorism and how to deal with it based on how the White House would like to frame things from a political perspective. The section on Afghanistan, for example, implicitly makes a case for a more robust American role in the conflict engulfing that country.
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Bipartisan War: New Study Urges More US Interventions

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The Establishment and Realist foreign policy communities in the United States often seem separated by language which leads them to talk past each other. When a realist or Libertarian talks about non-intervention or restraint in foreign policy, as Ron Paul did in 2008 and 2012, the Establishment response is to denounce isolationism. As Dr. Paul noted during his campaigns, non-interventionism and isolationism have nothing to do with each other as a country that does not meddle in the affairs of others can nevertheless be accessible and open in dealing with other nations in many other ways.

Non-interventionists are fond of quoting George Washington’s Farewell Address, in which he recommended that “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible… Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.” Establishment pundits tend to dismiss that “little political connection” bit, preferring instead to warn how detachment from foreign politics might lead to the rise of a new Adolph Hitler.

I was reminded of the language barrier while reading the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Strategy Task Force report, which appeared on November 30th. The report, which promises a new “Compact for the Middle East” while also asserting that “isolationism is a dangerous delusion,” might be regarded as a quintessential document laying out the Establishment position on what should be done in the region. It is ostensibly the product of two co-chairs, Madeleine Albright and Stephen Hadley, but it is also credited to an Executive Team headed by Executive Director Stephen Grand and Deputy Executive Director Jessica Ashooh, who in all probability were responsible for the actual drafting and editing.
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Iranophobes on Parade: Will Iran be the Target of the Trump Regime?

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One of the most discouraging aspects of the filling out of the Donald Trump cabinet is the array of Iran haters that seem to be lining up in the foreign policy and national security areas. Trump has been personally advocating sensible policies relating to Russia and Syria but he appears to have gone off the rails regarding Iran, which just might be attributed to those who are giving him advice. A reversion to the relationship that prevailed prior to last year’s signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) between Iran and the so-called P5+1 consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and the European Union would be undesirable, to say the least, but that appears to be what is likely to develop. Or it could be even worse, finding bilateral support for “action” as a number of policy advisors in the presidential campaign from both parties were endorsing something like war against the Persians.

The irony is that the argument made then and now for attacking Iran were based on the threat of Tehran deciding to build its own atomic bomb. With the JCPA agreement, however, most would agree that any remaining concerns that Tehran might even be considering the development of a nuclear weapons program were greatly diminished. Iran has since that time been in compliance with the agreement, possible nuclear proliferation has been avoided, and, apart from the fulminations of the inevitable anti-Iranian politicians in the United States, the signatories to the agreement have expressed their satisfaction with the outcome. It has been Washington that has failed to live up to its part of the agreement by easing remaining restrictions that are being imposed against Iranian financial institutions and regarding the purchase of some commercially available dual use technologies.
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Oh, What a Lovely War!

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The American people don’t know very much about war even if Washington has been fighting on multiple fronts since 9/11. The continental United States has not experienced the presence a hostile military force for more than 100 years and war for the current generation of Americans consists largely of the insights provided by video games and movies. The Pentagon’s invention of embedded journalists, which limits any independent media insight into what is going on overseas, has contributed to the rendering of war as some kind of abstraction. Gone forever is anything like the press coverage of Vietnam, with nightly news and other media presentations showing prisoners being executed and young girls screaming while racing down the street in flames.

Given all of that, it is perhaps no surprise that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom has served in uniform, should regard violence inflicted on people overseas with a considerable level of detachment. Hillary is notorious for her assessment of the brutal killing of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, saying “We came, we saw, he died.” They both share to an extent the dominant New York-Washington policy consensus view that dealing with foreigners can sometimes get a bit bloody, but that is a price that someone in power has to be prepared to pay. One of Hillary’s top advisers, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to US led sanctions were “worth it.”
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Obama's Victory Lap?

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In between nearly daily campaign stops shilling for Hillary, President Barack Obama has been promoting his record as Head of State. To Obama’s credit, he talks nice and appears to be both thoughtful and rational, qualities that were not always evident in his predecessor in office. But the hype about what was achieved in his eight years appears to be more than a bit overblown, particularly if one considers the flagship domestic project, Obamacare. It is a program in which the government forces individuals to buy a product that has been crafted together by private, for profit companies. If the people do not buy, they will be penalized by the government. The companies in turn have learned that it is tough to make money insuring people who are actually sick so they are leaving the program while those individuals who have to buy their own coverage without government subsidies are discovering that the significant annual price increases mean that they cannot afford insurance at all.Donald Trump is right that the program is in crisis, is “over,” and should be repealed.

Against that, what has Obama accomplished domestically? I will not consider the constant pandering on gender and race because that is, after all, what Democrats do. But if one considers immigration a part of domestic policy, he is responsible for refusing to enforce immigration law, letting Haitians stay illegally in the US as compensation for a hurricane that occurred in 2010, while also failing to deport whole categories of Hispanics who are in the country without visas or residency permits. 

Domestic would also include the continuation of several types of surveillance of citizens by the NSA and FBI, the hounding and prosecution of whistleblowers, and the increased reliance on the State Secrets privilege to derail the use of the judicial system to pushback against government overreach. And in a just concluded parole hearing involving a Guantanamo detainee who had been repeatedly tortured, the Obama Administration has now determined that some individuals can be held in prison forever without ever being charged with a crime or convicted.
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The Legacy of United States Interventionism

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There are really two questions here – when is the use of force justified in the context of the key word “abroad” and what have Americans learned regarding overseas interventions from the Iraq experience. As a foreign policy adviser for Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, I lean in a non-interventionist direction, but that is at least somewhat due to that fact that recent interventions have not worked very well and have in fact increased the number of enemies rather than reduce them while also killing nearly 7,500 American soldiers and more than a million inhabitants of the countries Washington has become entangled with.

One might also reasonably argue based on post 9/11 developments that destabilizing or attacking other countries consistently makes bad situations worse and has a tendency to allow problems to metastasize. This is sometimes referred to as blowback.

Nevertheless, anti-intervention does not necessarily mean anti-war when war becomes the only option to protect vital interests, but armed conflict cannot be entered into lightly. There is in fact a simple answer to when to use force: it is to defend the United States itself against a clearly defined threat to the country or to a genuine vital interest.
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Israel's $38 Billion Scam

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As an American it is difficult to imagine a more unseemly bit of political theater playing out than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance before his cabinet to claim that he had gotten every last dollar of military assistance out of the Obama Administration. Netanyahu argued that he had obtained all that was on the table, adding that his bad blood with President Barack Obama had not proven to be detrimental in the bilateral negotiations that had been ongoing for more than a year. The Prime Minister was on the defensive because some of his critics claimed that he might have gotten $100 million more per annum, admittedly chump change on top of the $38 billion over ten years that the Memorandum of Understand will provide Netanyahu from the U.S. Treasury.

The critics also argued that the “real money” obtained from Washington was less than it seemed because of inflation, but the gift of $38 billion to Israel was nevertheless a considerable increase over the roughly $3.3 billion per year that Israel is currently receiving. The protracted negotiations over the exact sum to be handed over were reportedly due to Netanyahu’s demanding much more money, possibly as much as $5 billion per year. The deal did come with a minor problem for the Israeli defense industries, which had become accustomed to skimming 26% off the top of the annual U.S. grant to build and market their own weapons. 

Someone in Washington finally figured out that the U.S. taxpayer was directly funding foreign competition for its own defense industries, costing thousands of American jobs. But not to worry, the Israeli companies are now setting up U.S. subsidiaries, so the gravy train will almost certainly continue to deliver.
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Deep State America

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On September 9th the Washington Post featured a front page article describing how the Defense Department had used warplanes to attack targets and kill suspected militants in six countries over the Labor Day weekend. The article was celebratory, citing Pentagon officials who boasted of the ability to engage “multiple targets” anywhere in the world in what has become a “permanent war.” The article did not mention that the United States is not currently at war with any of the six target countries and made no attempt to make a case that the men and women who were killed actually threatened the U.S. or American citizens.

Actual American interests in fighting a war without limits and without an end were not described. They never are. Indeed, in the U.S. and elsewhere many citizens often wonder how certain government policies like the Washington’s war on terror can persist in spite of widespread popular opposition or clear perceptions that they are either ineffective or even harmful. This persistence of policies regarding which there is no debate is sometimes attributed to a “deep state.”

The phrase “deep state” originated in and was often applied to Turkey, in Turkish “Derin Devlet,” where the nation’s security services and governing elite traditionally pursued the same chauvinistic and inward-looking agenda both domestically and in foreign affairs no matter who was prime minister.
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