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End Democracy Promotion Balderdash

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The Trump administration’s foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America’s piety exports.
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Bring the Troops Home From Korea

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There is one good solution to the Korean crisis, one that the mainstream press commentators simply will not confront. It’s not a solution that is likely to be adopted, especially by a blustery and bellicose president and a national-security establishment that has a Cold War anti-communist mindset. Nonetheless, it bears pointing out.

What is the solution to the Korean crisis: For all U.S. troops to vacate South Korea immediately and come home. No more threats. No more bluster. No more regime-change activity. No more anti-communist crusade. Just exit the country and come home.

There is one — and only one — reason that North Korea has been spending years trying to get nuclear weapons — to deter a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea or to defend itself from a U.S. regime-change operation in North Korea. The North Koreans have learned that that’s the best way to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from initiating one of their storied regime-change operations against North Korea.

North Korea’s actions are entirely rational. The U.S. national-security establishment has been committed to regime-change in North Korea for almost 70 years. That’s what U.S. intervention in Korea’s civil war in the early 1950s was all about — removing the North Korean communist regime from power and putting it under the control of South Korea, which was ruled by a pro-U.S. regime. It’s why the Pentagon and the CIA remained in South Korea for the next six decades. It’s why U.S. officials have imposed ever-increasing sanctions on North Korea, in the hopes that a starving populace will overthrow their regime and install a pro-U.S. regime in its stead.
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Why President Donald Trump May Let Hillary Clinton Walk Scot-Free

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Donald Trump famously said in an October of 2016 presidential debate with Hillary Clinton that she would be in jail if he became president. Pointing to her deletion and destruction of emails that were a focus of an Obama administration Department of Justice investigation, Trump further explained he would, as president, have a special prosecutor investigate Clinton. Yet, it is over six months since Trump was sworn in as president, and there is no special prosecutor and little indication that the Trump administration is making any effort to develop a case for prosecuting Clinton.

Then, on Tuesday, came a report from Ed Klein at Newsmax that the Trump administration Department of Justice had reopened the investigation of Clinton. That investigation had been strangely closed last year in conjunction with a statement by then-Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey in which Comey effectively said evidence indicated Clinton had broken the law but she would nonetheless not be prosecuted.

Now, just about as strangely, the story is, according to Klein, that the Trump administration’s Justice Department, after reviewing evidence pertaining to Clinton, is considering offering her a plea bargain in which she admits guilt and receives zero punishment related to both her emails and “pay to play’ deals with foreign governments and businesses. This is a plea bargain the average criminal defendant dreams of receiving but has virtually no chance of seeing offered.

Whether the Trump administration does nothing or offers Clinton the dream plea bargain that Klein mentions, either course would be about the opposite of the one to which Trump, as a candidate, said he aspired.
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US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere

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Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. The forces use several hundred bases, more than 1,000 if the figure includes overseas warehouse and installations. The US may need more soon, with its presence and involvement in armed conflicts on the rise.

It was reported on August 7 that the Pentagon plans to conduct airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines. This move will be part of the effort to rout IS militants who occupied Marawi, a city in the south of the Philippines, in May, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire southern region of Mindanao and ask the US for help. In June, the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident joined the battle.

Just three days before that (on August 4), it was reported by the Pentagon that a Special Operations Forces (SOF) team was deployed to Yemen to support the ongoing United Arab Emirates (UAE) operation against the Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror group. The amphibious assault ship Bataan with several hundred Marines aboard is also operating in the region. Close-air support missions in the current offensive against AQAP are not ruled out.

On August 7, the US was also reported to be sending dozens more Marines to Helmand Province in southwestern Afghanistan. Army Gen. John Nicholson as the US commander in that country has been lobbying for 3,000 to 5,000 troops in addition to the 8,400 US service members already on the ground.

In June, the US increased the size of its special operations advisory force embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces as the group prepared its invasion of Raqqa, Syria. Around 1,000 US service members are believed to be operating there.
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The Unsung Summit of Putin and Trump

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This week marks the 72nd anniversary of the criminal US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And as is the case each year, there is much discussion and lamenting over this atrocity, as there well should be.  For the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary for victory; Japan had already sued for peace.  It was the opening salvo, a brutal one, in the first Cold War in which the world was nearly incinerated during the Cuban missile crisis.

This week is also the one month anniversary of the first in-person meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin at Hamburg on July 7 in the shadow of the G20 meetings.  This comes at a time when we find ourselves years into a New Cold War. Given the tensions between Russia and the US, the leading nuclear powers, one would think that there would be rejoicing over the prospect of relieving the tensions between the nuclear superpowers. For that was the agenda of the Trump-Putin summit, as such meetings were called during the first Cold War. Unfortunately, such rejoicing was not to be heard, quite the opposite – with a few rare exceptions

This is lamentable, to say the least, because as tensions grow between the superpowers, the chance for nuclear war increases. During his lengthy interviews with Vladimir Putin, Oliver Stone showed him the movie “Dr. Strangelove” which Putin had never before seen. Putin commented that the movie captured, among other things, a technical truth with its depiction of the Doomsday Machine. That is, said Putin, nuclear weapons grow increasingly harder to control with every passing day.  Given this, the failure to applaud the Trump-Putin on the part of those who were full of praise for the UN vote on denuclearization made me wonder whether there was any thought behind their chatter.  Hatred of Trump and Putin seemed to blot out a rational concern for human survival. Are we living in a mad house? Did we not learn our lesson when we narrowly escaped Armageddon in Cold War 1?
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Reports of Hungary’s Slide into ‘Dictatorship’ Have Been Exaggerated

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Is Hungary sliding into tyranny and dictatorship? According to headlines which have painted a rather grim picture of Hungary’s present and future under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the answer is a resounding yes.

Hungary is “held hostage” by “tyrant” Orban who is returning the country to “totalitarianism,” claims The New Statesman. The International Business Times worries about Hungary’s “dark path toward dictatorship”.

The EU struggles to contain “dictator” Orban, says the Sydney Morning Herald. Orban is Europe’s “enemy within,” warns the Financial Times. He is “Europe’s New Dictator,” says Politico.

These attention-grabbing headlines and dramatic portrayals exaggerate the political situation in Hungary. Of course, there are plenty of legitimate complaints to be made about Orban (though, naturally, the specifics of the complaint will vary based on who is speaking). The problem is that the media has taken those complaints, exaggerated and embellished them, and used them to predict this country's slide into absolute tyranny irresponsibly. This distorts reality and lessens the readers’ ability to understand what is going on in Hungary.

Brussels likes to believe it promotes democracy within the 28 EU member states. Yet, when Orban begins to implement policies that they don’t like (but that his voters support), he becomes an outcast. Those shouting "dictator!" fail to take into account the wishes of the many Hungarians who voted for Orban’s reelection in 2014 and who support many of his policies. Disregarding the will of the people to score ideological points about democracy is ironic indeed.

Let’s break it down.
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The Tale of the Brothers Awan

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There has been surprisingly little media follow-up on the story about the July 25th Dulles Airport arrest of House of Representatives’ employed Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan, who was detained for bank fraud while he was allegedly fleeing to Pakistan. The mainstream media somewhat predictably produced minimal press coverage before the story died. The speed at which the news vanished has prompted some observers, including Breitbart, to sound the alarm over a suspected cover-up of possible exposure of classified information or even espionage that just might be part of the story that we are now calling Russiagate.

To be sure, the tale is a strange one with plenty of unsavory links. Thirty-seven year old Awan, his wife, sister-in-law and two brothers Abid and Jamal worked as IT administrators, full and part-time, for between 30 and 80 congressmen, all Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They did not have security clearances and it is not even certain that they were in any way checked out before being hired. Nor were their claimed skills at IT administration confirmed as their work pattern reportedly turned out to consist more of absences than time spent in the House offices. One congressional IT staffer described them as “ghost employees.”

At one point, Imran brought into the House as a colleague one Rao Abbas, someone to whom he owed money, best distinguished by his being recently fired by McDonald’s. Abbas lived in the basement of a house owned by Imran’s wife as a rental property. He may have had no qualifications at all to perform IT but the congressmen in question did not seem to notice. Abbas wound up working, on the rare occasions that he went into the building, in the office of Congressman Patrick Murphy, who was at the time a member of the House Intelligence Committee as well as forFlorida Congressman Theo Deutch. He was paid $250,000.
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Jeff Sessions Endorses Theft

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently ordered the Justice Department to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture, thus once again endorsing an unconstitutional, authoritarian, and increasingly unpopular policy.

Civil asset forfeiture, which should be called civil asset theft, is the practice of seizing property believed to be involved in a crime. The government keeps the property even if it never convicts, or even charges, the owner of the property.
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