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Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget

Remember Fallujah? Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military fired on unarmed protestors, killing as many as 20 and wounding dozens. In retaliation, local Iraqis attacked a convoy of US military contractors, killing four. The US then launched a full attack on Fallujah to regain control, which left perhaps 700 Iraqis dead and the city virtually destroyed.

According to press reports last weekend, Fallujah is now under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates. The Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, is under siege by al-Qaeda. During the 2007 “surge,” more than 1,000 US troops were killed “pacifying” the Anbar province.  Although al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the US invasion, it is now conducting its own surge in Anbar.
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Progress Toward Peace in 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain

It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year as we look back we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.

A US attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Middle Eastern war. Public pressure was so strong that President Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack.
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Hobby Lobby Case is About Rights, Not Contraceptives

One of the most important cases the US Supreme Court will consider this term is Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit challenging the Obamacare mandate that employer-provided health care plans must cover abortion and contraceptives. Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned and managed by a traditional Christian family, argues that the mandate violates their First Amendment rights.

Much of the discussion has focused on whether a corporation such as Hobby Lobby can even have First Amendment rights. But the issue of “corporate personhood” is a smokescreen. Hobby Lobby’s corporate status has no bearing on whether under Obamacare, Hobby Lobby’s owners, about whose personhood there is no doubt, have a right to run their business in a manner consistent with their moral beliefs.
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You Cannot Negotiate With Iran?

You cannot negotiate with Iran. That is what they told us for years. The Iranian leadership is too fanatical, they are not rational actors, they are “not like us.” One US official even recently said that deception is part of the Iranian DNA. But just over a week ago negotiations between the five permanent UN Security Council Members plus Germany and the Iranians produced an historic agreement that may be first step toward a new era in US relations with the Middle East.

As Middle East expert Eric Margolis pointed out this week, for Iran’s major concessions it will only receive “$7 billion – of its own money, which has been frozen abroad by US-led sanctions.” That sounds like quite a bit of compromise for such a “fanatical” country.
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Can Karzai Save Us?

After a year of talks over the post-2014 US military presence in Afghanistan, the US administration announced last week that a new agreement had finally been reached. Under the deal worked out with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the US would keep thousands of troops on nine military bases for at least the next ten years.

It is clear that the Obama Administration badly wants this deal. Karzai, sensing this, even demanded that the US president send a personal letter promising that the US would respect the dignity of the Afghan people if it were allowed to remain in the country. It was strange to see the US president go to such lengths for a deal that would mean billions more US dollars to Karzai and his cronies, and a US military that would continue to prop up the regime in Kabul.
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What Was Not Said About Iraq

October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.
 
As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion.
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A Welcome US/Saudi ‘Reset’

Last week it was reported that Saudi Arabia decided to make a “major shift” away from its 80 years of close cooperation with the United States. The Saudi leadership is angry that the Obama administration did not attack Syria last month, and that it has not delivered heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government. Saudi Arabia is heavily invested in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, sending money and weapons to the rebels.

However, it was the recent diplomatic opening between the United States and Iran that most infuriated the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to the Iranian government and has vigorously lobbied the US Congress to maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran. Like Israel, the Saudis are fearful of any US diplomacy with Iran.
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An Opening to Iran?

Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event.

I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After all, we talked to the Soviets when they actually had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us! The Iranians have none, according to our own intelligence services. I even suggested a few years ago that we should “offer friendship” to them. Unfortunately, so many so-called experts have a stake in keeping tensions high and pushing us to war. They did not want to hear what I was saying. It seems, though, this is beginning to change now with these recent events.
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Own a Piece of Ron Paul History

In 1979, when I was headed to DC for my first full term in Congress, I bought a car to keep there. It was a 1979 Chevrolet Chevette. But this compact 4-door soon proved to be controversial. Tip O’Neill, the powerful House speaker, was advocating gasoline rationing for the rest of us, while he was chauffeured around in a Lincoln, all at taxpayer expense. And no waiting in gasoline lines for him, nor paying for it: he had his own pump in the House garage.

So my little car—which I paid for myself, of course—was parked next to the Tip behemoth for a cheeky photo. Well, you would have thought I was Ed Snowden. There was a huge blow-up. Tip even levied the ultimate punishment: he blocked pork-barrel funds for me, which I was not seeking anyway.

So this little car has some history to it. Yet it has only 69,000 miles on it. It was repainted after my youngest daughter used it at college, and has been garaged for the last 10 years. But it starts and runs, and is as cute as when Tip wanted to bomb it.
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A Grand Bargain for Liberty?

As I write this, it appears that the federal government is about to shut down because the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to add language defunding or delaying Obamacare to the “Continuing Resolution”. Despite all the hand-wringing heard in DC, a short-term government shut down (which doesn’t actually shut down the government) will not cause the country to collapse.

And the American people would benefit if Obamacare was defeated or even delayed.

Obamacare saddles the American health care system with new spending and mandates which will raise the price and lower the quality of health care. Denying funds to this program may give Congress time to replace this bill with free-market reforms that put patients and physicians back in charge of health care.
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