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Scott Ritter

How I tried to prevent the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and why I failed

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In fulfillment of his solemn, constitutionally-enshrined obligation, the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, on January 28, 2003, stood before the rostrum in the chambers of the United States Congress and addressed the American people.

“Mr. Speaker,” the President began, “Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens, every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year,” he intoned gravely, “we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.” The “decisive days” Bush spoke of dealt with the decision he had already made to invade Iraq, in violation of international law, for the purpose of removing the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, from power.

Regime change had been the cornerstone policy of the United States toward Iraq ever since Bush 43’s father, Bush 41 (George H. W. Bush) compared Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler and demanded Nuremberg-like justice for the crime of invading Kuwait. “Hitler revisited,” the elder Bush told a crowd at a Republican fundraiser in Dallas, Texas. “But remember: When Hitler’s war ended, there were the Nuremberg trials.”

American politicians, especially presidents seeking to take their country into war, cannot simply walk away from such statements. As such, even after driving the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait in February 1991, Bush could not rest so long as Saddam Hussein remained in power–the Middle East equivalent of Adolf Hitler had to go.
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Adam Kinzinger, the Quintessential American Idiot

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At 5:58 pm on December 18, 2022, the Twitter account, @blackintheempir (“Black in the Empire”, belonging to an “Anti Establishment Vet w/ commentary from experience inside the war machine and life in the civilian world as a Black man”) posted this tweet.

A fair question, given the reality that the 10-month-old war raging in Ukraine has, from its very inception, been a conflict between Russia and the “collective West,” where Ukraine has functioned as a de factor proxy for the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

This status did not evolve because of “Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression” against Ukraine, a common western narrative, but rather functions as a direct result of the intent of NATO, expressed through a policy more than a dozen years in the making, to use Ukraine as a vehicle to undermine and weaken Russia through a proxy war of attrition, one where NATO was willing to sacrifice the national integrity, sovereignty, viability, blood, and treasure of Ukraine for its intended purpose.

We know this how? The memorandum written by William Burns, the current Director of the CIA, and former US Ambassador of the US to Russia, on January 30, 2008, regarding NATO efforts to bring Ukraine into its fold, provides a good starting point. In short, Burns predicted that any effort to make Ukraine a NATO member would lead to civil war in Ukraine between Ukrainian nationalists and ethnic-Russians that would compel a Russian military intervention—classic cause-effect analysis.
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NATO in the horns of a dilemma after former Ukrainian regions vote to join Russia

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By infusing tens of billions of dollars’ worth of military aid into Ukraine, NATO produced a “game-changing” dynamic designed to throw Russia off balance. By undertaking the referendums in Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, and Lugansk, Russia changed the game altogether.

The ancient Greeks spoke of lemma as representing a logical premise, a matter taken for granted. This contrasted with a dilemma, or “dual premise”, where one would be presented with an either/or proposition. The Romans furthered this notion, referring to a “double premise” as argumentum cornutum, of the “horned argument,” because by answering one argument, an individual would be impaled by the logic of the second. Thus are the ancient roots of the modern idiom, “on the horns of a dilemma.”

This is the ultimate objective of maneuver warfare, for example: to position your forces in such a manner as to present the enemy with no good option – should they react to one pressing threat, they would find themselves overwhelmed by the other.
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Chuck Schumer’s War on Free Speech

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In May, Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, held up a vote on a bill which sought to approve some $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. Paul wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.

“This would be the inspector general that’s been overseeing the waste in Afghanistan,” Paul said, “and has done a great job.”

While senators on both sides of the aisle bristled at Paul’s delay tactics, Christopher Tremoglie, a commentary fellow for The Washington Examiner, questioned the fact that

“[w]hile much attention has been placed on Paul holding up the aid legislation, the more important issue is why are so many senators against ensuring that billions of taxpayer dollars aren’t being misused?”

One of the senators who took umbrage over Paul’s actions was the senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. Speaking from the floor of the Senate chamber, the senior senator from New York declared that “it is repugnant that one member of the other side, the junior senator from Kentucky, chose to make a show and obstruct Ukraine funding.”

Schumer added that Paul’s actions served to “strengthen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hand.”
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Live-Action Role Play in Ukraine

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It was — literally — a made-for-television moment. A former US Navy chief petty officer turned cable news pundit, dressed in a fresh out-of-the-box camouflage uniform replete with body armor and magazine pouches, wearing matching camouflage helmet and gloves, and cradling an automatic rifle, stared into the camera and announced “I am here to help this country [Ukraine] fight what is essentially a war of extermination.”

With a Ukrainian flag on his left shoulder, and a US flag emblazoned on his body armor, the man, Malcolm Nance, declared that “This is an existential war, and Russia has brought it to these people and is mass murdering civilians.”

A day before, Nance had tweeted a black-and-white photograph of himself, similarly clad, announcing “I’m DONE talking.”

Nance spent 20 years in the US Navy as a cryptologic technician, interpretive (CTI), specializing in the Arabic language, and has turned his career into a thing of legend, so much so that when he speaks of his journey from news desk to Ukraine, it almost sounds convincing.

“Ukraine announced that there was an international force on Feb. 27,” Nance told one reporter...
...and I started looking into it on Feb. 28 … I called the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, and I said: ‘Hey, I want an appointment.’ They were a little slow, so I just went down there and put in my application. The guy asked if I had combat experience and I said ‘Yep.’ Then he looked at my application and said, ‘You’re on the team.’
Just like that.
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Regime Change has Been the US Goal in Russia for Years

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It was the culminating event of a four-day trip planned at the last minute for the purpose of rallying Europe to the cause of standing up to Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine. Speaking before a large and enthusiastic crowd in the Polish capital of Warsaw, US President Joe Biden concluded his remarks by going off-script. After condemning what he called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s “brutality” in Ukraine, Biden uttered nine words that, in a blink of an eye, made moot whatever else had been accomplished on this trip: “For God’s sake, this man [Putin] cannot remain in power.”

Biden departed the venue and headed straight for Air Force One, which was standing by to fly him back to the US. Before his plane could get off the ground, the White House was scrambling to contain the damage done by Biden’s most recent gaffe. “The President’s point,” an unnamed White House official explained to the press, “was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

When Biden arrived back in the US, he was asked if he was, in fact, calling for regime change in Moscow. Biden offered a terse one-word answer: “No.”

But the off-the-cuff statement continued to haunt Biden, who was compelled to later offer a more detailed explanation for his outburst, telling the press “I was expressing the moral outrage I felt…[at] the actions of this man [i.e., Putin],” Biden said. “I wasn't then, nor am I now, articulating a policy change.”

Biden later added that “Nobody believes I was talking about taking down Putin. Nobody believes that.”
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Why a war may be the only solution Americans can bring to this conflict

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The US used to produce experts on Soviet and Russian affairs like Jack Matlock. Today we get the likes of Michael McFaul. The decline of popular interest in Russian-area studies, combined with intellectual laziness on the part of the average US citizen, is to blame.

On February 21, Russia’s President Vladmir Putingave what will most likely go down in history as one of the most important speeches in modern history. It was a brutally honest example of how current events are shaped by the forces of history. What is important about this speech isn’t so much the content–that is now part of the historical record–but rather how it was absorbed and interpreted by those who watched it.

As an American imbued with more than a little first-hand insight into Russian affairs, I have been struck by the inability of the American people to comprehend the historical foundation of Putin’s speech. It is not my place to either attack or defend the details put forward by the Russian president. I would hope, however, that my fellow citizens would be able to engage in an informed, intelligent, and rational discussion about the speech, given the immense geopolitical ramifications attached to it.

Unfortunately, the average American, lacking both the intellectual training and the critical resource of time, is ill-equipped to participate in such an exercise. Instead, they have subordinated this task to a category of public servant known as the “Russian expert.” Under normal circumstances, one might find the existence of such a class a relief; after all, Americans are willing to entrust their financial security to “financial managers.” Why not surrender the intellectual machinations required to make sense of something as complex as Russian affairs and all that topic entails to the hands of the specialists, men and women schooled in the history, economy, culture, and language of Russia?
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America’s Putin Psychosis

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The war of words between Russia and the United States over Ukraine escalated further on Tuesday as Russian President Vladimir Putin responded for the first time to the US written reply to Russia’s demands for security guarantees that were expressed in the form of a pair of draft treaties submitted by Moscow to the US and NATO in December.
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Blinken’s Blinkered Vision of Russia

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“One lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.” The level of hubris-laced ignorance it would take an ostensibly intelligent, well-informed individual to make such a statement, in public, in an official capacity, goes beyond political parody.
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What War With Russia Would Look Like

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If ever a critical diplomatic negotiation was doomed to fail from the start, the discussions between the US and Russia over Ukraine and Russian security guarantees is it.

The two sides can’t even agree on an agenda.

From the Russian perspective, the situation is clear: “The Russian side came here [to Geneva] with a clear position that contains a number of elements that, to my mind, are understandable and have been so clearly formulated—including at a high level—that deviating from our approaches simply is not possible,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the press after a pre-meeting dinner on Sunday hosted by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is leading the US delegation.

Ryabkov was referring Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands to US President Joe Biden in early December regarding Russian security guarantees, which were then laid out by Moscow in detail in the form of two draft treaties, one a Russian-US security treaty, the other a security agreement between Russia and NATO.

The latter would bar Ukraine from joining NATO and rule out any eastward expansion by the trans-Atlantic military alliance. At the time, Ryabkov tersely noted that the US should immediately begin to address the proposed drafts with an eye to finalizing something when the two sides meet. Now, with the meeting beginning on Monday, it doesn’t appear as if the US has done any such thing.
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