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The Syrian Madhouse Gets Even Crazier

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Last summer, I was positioned just across the border from the Syrian town of Afrin around which Turkish and Kurdish and, possibly, American forces, are now poised for a head-on clash.  It seems crazy to me that anyone would want to fight over this one-donkey farm town.  We were there on a mission to rescue wild animals trapped in a zoo in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.
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Mattis Threatens Military Action Over Syria Gas Attack Claims, Then Admits 'No Evidence'

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 "I don’t have the evidence,” Mattis said. “What I am saying is that other groups on the ground - NGOs, fighters on the ground - have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence.”

This week the American public was once again bombarded by fresh headlines alleging the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad gassed its own people. And in predictable fashion the usual threat of US military force soon followed.

Except of course rather than "alleging" a chemical incident, all the usual suspects from CNN pundits to State Department bureaucrats to Pentagon officials in typical fashion are opting for the simpler "Assad did it" narrative. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauertstated Thursday, "Russia is making the wrong choice by not exercising its unique influence. To allow the Syria regime to use chemical weapons against its own people is unconscionable. We will pursue accountability."

Nauert's statement was a repeat of talking points from last week's chemical attack claims, wherein both she and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ultimately blamed Russia. But like with other recent chemical attack allegations, the claims couldn't be more vague or poorly sourced, yet was still enough for U.S. officials to issue more direct threats of US military action against Assad.
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US Troops Arrive in Israel to Practice for Potential War With Hezbollah

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At a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East, U.S. forces have been deployed in Israel ahead of a large-scale joint Israel-U.S. military exercise set to start next week, the Times of Israel reports.

According to the Times, the drill will simulate a major conflict in which Israel is attacked with thousands of missiles. Known as the biennial Juniper Cobra military exercise and in its ninth installment, the simulation is clearly aimed at confronting Hezbollah’s alleged arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles.

Approximately 3,200 soldiers from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) took part in the February 2016 drill of the same name.

Despite the fact that the Israeli air force routinely strikes Hezbollah targets in Syria, it seems likely that these drills are intended to target Hezbollah in Lebanon, instead. On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that if war were to erupt again, Beirut would “pay the full price” for Iran’s presence in the country.

“Lebanon’s army and Hezbollah are the same — they will all pay the full price in the event of an escalation,” Lieberman also said. “If a conflict does break out in the north, ‘boots on the ground’ remains an option. We won’t allow scenes like in 2006, where we saw citizens of Beirut on the beach while Israelis in Tel Aviv sat in shelters… If people in Tel Aviv will be in bomb shelters, all of Beirut will be in bomb shelters.”
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Real Cost of 'Defense' - RPI's Daniel McAdams on 'Mises Weekends'

Ron Paul Institute Executive Director Daniel McAdams sat down with his old Ron Paul Congressional Office colleague, Mises Institute President Jeff Deist, to discuss the real costs of our massive yearly military spending bill. How does the new nuclear weapons "modernization" program fit in? How big is the US military budget -- how does it compare to the budgets of Washington's rivals? What should the role of the US be in the world?
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Turkish Invasion Pits Neocons Against Traditional Imperialists

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US foreign policy in the Middle East is not merely adrift, it is in a state of severe crisis. Even as Turkish tanks and warplanes continue to pound US allies in northwestern Syria (The Kurds), power-brokers in the White House and the Pentagon are unable to settle on a way forward. The frantic attempts to placate their NATO ally, Turkey, while trying to assuage the fears of their mostly Kurdish proxy-army (Syrian Democratic Forces) has further underscored the dismal absence of a coherent policy that would not only address the rapidly-changing battle-space but also deal with the prospect that a critical regional ally (Turkey) might seek strategic objectives that are directly at odds with those of Washington.
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The Biggest Threat to our Country

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The New York Times recently profiled three military veterans who are running for Congress. All three are women and all three graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Times highlighted the military experience of the women, which they plan to rely on to establish their credentials for running for Congress.

Of course, hardly anyone asks the obvious question: Why should serving in the military operate as a credential for serving in Congress? At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the members of Congress don’t personally do the types of things soldiers do, such as drop bombs on people, torture people, or assassinate people. So, why should a person’s military service operate as any special credential for serving as an elected representative in Congress?

Some people might say, “Because they served their country.” That seems to be the mindset of at least one of the three women, Mikie Sherrill, who said, “It’s incredibly important that I decided to serve my country before deciding to run for office.”

But there is one big important thing about her statement: It’s not true. Sherrill, like other US soldiers, was not serving her country when she was a soldier. She was serving her government. There’s a difference, a big one.
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We Have 1,000 Bases In 80 Countries. Do You Feel Safer?

The Pentagon spends hundreds of billions of dollars maintaining some 1,000 US bases overseas -- in every corner of the globe. The rest of the world combined maintains a total of 77 military bases outside of national borders. In this "we're number one." But what is the cost? As Professor Robert Pape has extensively researched, it is the sense of being occupied by a foreign power that most motivates potential suicide terrorists. Is a US worldwide military empire really keeping us safe...or is it just making the military-industrial complex rich? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Meet the Corrupt Billionaire Who Has Brought About a New Cold War

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One has to ask why there is a crisis in US-Russia relations since Washington and Moscow have much more in common than not, to include confronting international terrorism, stabilizing Syria and other parts of the world that are in turmoil, and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In spite of all that, the US and Russia are currently locked in a tit-for-tat unfriendly relationship somewhat reminiscent of the Cold War.

Apart from search for a scapegoat to explain the Hillary Clinton defeat, how did it happen? Israel Shamir, a keen observer of the American-Russian relationship, and celebrated American journalist Robert Parry both think that one man deserves much of the credit for the new Cold War and that man is William Browder, a hedge fund operator who made his fortune in the corrupt 1990s world of Russian commodities trading.

Browder is also symptomatic of why the United States government is so poorly informed about international developments as he is the source of much of the Congressional “expert testimony” contributing to the current impasse. He has somehow emerged as a trusted source in spite of the fact that he has self-interest in cultivating a certain outcome. Also ignored is his renunciation of American citizenship in 1998, reportedly to avoid taxes. He is now a British citizen.

Browder is notoriously the man behind the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which exploited Congressional willingness to demonize Russia and has done so much to poison relations between Washington and Moscow. The Act sanctioned individual Russian officials, which Moscow has rightly seen as unwarranted interference in the operation of its judicial system.
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The US Empire Has up to 1,000 Military Bases in 80 Countries

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On the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Baltimore University hosted more than 200 activists in the peace, environment, and social justice movements to launch a new initiative known as the Coalition Against US Foreign Military Bases, the Nation reported.

In a series of panels that lasted over two days, the conference attendees highlighted the horrors of American foreign policy despite the fact Martin Luther King warned against these horrors over 50 years ago, a fitting reminder to heed the warnings of Dr. King.

According to the panel, the U.S. has over 800 formal military bases in 80 countries, “a number that could exceed 1,000 if you count troops stationed at embassies and missions and so-called ‘lily-pond’ bases, with some 138,000 soldiers stationed around the globe,” the Nation notes.

According to David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Overseas Harm America and the World, maintaining bases and troops overseas cost $85 to $100 billion in 2014, while the total for bases and troops in war zones was between $160 billion and $200 billion.

The Nation also highlighted Vine’s claim that only some 11 other countries have bases in foreign countries, around 70 altogether. Russia is believed to have at least 26 bases in nine countries. They are mainly in former Soviet states, as well as Syria and Vietnam. The U.K., France, and Turkey have around four to ten bases each, and a handful of global bases are occupied by India, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. This might all change in the years to come, however, as China may be looking to build bases of its own in the Middle East.
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