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Trump's UN Speech: A Neocon Dream?

President Trump's speech yesterday at the United Nations got rave reviews from neocons like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams. The US president threatened North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. At the same time he claimed that the US is the one country to lead by example rather than by violating the sovereignty of others. Are the neocons on a roll as they push for more war? Have they "won" Trump?
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US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans

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After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba's communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there. 

But, some people in Washington won't let decades of failure dissuade them.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports
[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act ... would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country's democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly's power is fully restored.

'The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,' Coffman told the Washington Examiner. 'They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can't pay their security forces.'
Experience suggests there is little reason to believe that sanctions will cause the regime to give up in Venezuela. If the regime has less oil money with which to pay the military, the regime can always steal more from the average citizen to make up the difference. In other words, ordinary Venezuelans will suffer more in response to US sanctions.
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Let Catalonia Decide

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Should Catalonia be independent?

Surely Catalans, and nobody else, must answer that question. Some Catalans consider themselves Spanish and some don’t. Many Spaniards consider Catalonia part of Spain, while some don’t. But it’s clear that a significant number of Catalans feel politically conquered, and resent it. Why should they live under a Spanish government, when their history, culture, and language are not Spanish?

It’s a fair question, and one for which western democracies have no easy answer. If democratic voting is sacrosanct, are the results also sacrosanct, whatever the outcome? Do democrats really want democracy?

Ludwig von Mises summed up the problem succinctly in Liberalism1:
The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest.
Surely many Hillary Clinton voters in the United States feel this way today. They don’t consider Trump a legitimate president (even aside from the electoral college issue), and are not particularly interested in respecting election results or the views of Trump voters. They feel “their” government not only does not represent them, but is actively hostile toward them.
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The US Has New Red Line in Syria — And It’s...Ridiculous!

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In its latest breach of international law, the U.S. is unilaterally attempting to prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming its own territory. From Reuters:
US-backed Syrian militias will not let government forces cross the Euphrates River in their bid to recover eastern Syria, their commander said on Friday, but Russia said army units had already done so near the city of Deir al-Zor.
Reuters notes that Russia is involved in this particular part of Syria, bolstering the Syrian Arab Army and its allies with air power.

According to Reuters, an aide to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, said the government would fight any force that comes within its path, including U.S.-backed forces. According to Deir ez-Zor military council commander Ahmed Abu Khawla, who fights under the banner of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF):
Now we have 3 km between us and the eastern riverbank, once our forces reach the area, any shot fired into that area we will consider an attack on the military council.
He added:
We have notified the regime and Russia that we are coming to the Euphrates riverbank, and they can see our forces advancing…We do not allow the regime or its militias to cross to the eastern riverbank.
The “Deir ez-Zor military council” was established under the banner of the US-backed SDF as recently as December 2016. This was arguably a poor attempt to legitimize Washington’s aspirations for the oil-rich region. In actuality, 4,000 fighters backed by foreign powers can hardly be a more legitimate force than the current Syrian government and its forces, but as is usually the case, the United States is not remotely concerned with the legality of this current strategy.
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President Trump To Unleash The CIA Drones

It's not only "the generals" that President Trump defers to when it comes to war overseas. He's also planning to defer to Mike Pompeo and the CIA when it comes to operating killer drones in the "theaters" of military operations. Where President Obama toward the end of his term was phasing out the CIA drone program -- partly because of the high civilian casualties -- President Trump is seeking to ramp up the program and loosen the terms of engagement. Count on many more civilian casualties, which creates many more terrorists, which fuels the perceived need for US military action abroad, and so on...
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Korea Solution Needs US to Sign a Peace Treaty

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Germany and France have backed the stance of Russia and China for negotiations to avert the Korea crisis. South Korea and Japan also seem to be amenable to recent calls by Russian President Vladimir Putin for exclusively diplomatic efforts. Any other option in the alarming standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program portends disaster. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has endorsed the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran as a model for possible negotiations.

That puts the United States on the margin of international consensus, with its repeated threats to use military force as an option against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Last week, following another North Korean ballistic missile test that overflew Japan, US President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser reiterated Washington’s self-declared right to use pre-emptive military force, tacitly including the deployment of nuclear weapons.

"For those who have been commenting on a lack of a military option, there is a military option," said General HR McMaster to reporters in Washington.

While McMaster and President Trump, as well as Pentagon chief James Mattis, have said on other occasions that the US would prefer to seek a diplomatic solution to the Korea crisis, such purported preferences do not inspire confidence.
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Scandal: The Pentagon's $2 Billion Underground Syria Weapons Pipeline

Why is the Pentagon spending billions of dollars purchasing Soviet and east European weapons to ship to Syrian rebels? A blockbuster Bulgarian investigative report exposes the lies and illegality of the purchases and shipments; several mainstream investigations corroborate the Bulgarian report. Investigative Reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva joins the Liberty Report to explain her findings -- and why they got her interrogated and fired...
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America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup

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In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

Given the president’s ignorance of world affairs, the emergence of a military junta in Washington may seem like welcome relief. After all, its three members are mature adults with global experience — unlike Trump and some of the wacky political operatives who surrounded him when he moved into the White House.
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Rand Paul's Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State

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Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reminded Congress that in matters of war, they have the authority and the responsibility to speak for the American people. Most Senators were not too happy about the reminder, which came in the form of a forced vote on whether to allow a vote on his amendment to repeal the Afghanistan and Iraq war resolutions of 2001 and 2002. 
It wasn’t easy. Sen. Paul had to jump through hoops just to get a vote on whether to have a vote.
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Accused of War Crimes, Saudis Investigate Themselves and Find No Wrongdoing

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Amid international calls for an independent inquiry into Saudi war crimes in Yemen, the Kingdom has investigated itself and found it has done nothing wrong.

Countries including China, the Netherlands, and Canada have pushed forward with a U.N. Human Rights Council draft resolution to establish an independent investigation into Saudi war crimes against civilians in the small war-torn nation of Yemen.

This week, Human Rights Watch also accused the coalition of committing war crimes.

Though these allegations have been circulating and documented for years, little has been done to stop the Saudi attacks, and the Saudis and their U.S. and Arab allies have worked to undermine efforts to uncover wrongdoing.

“The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict,” U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva this week.

The U.N. has documented 5,144 civilian deaths, mainly from the Saudi-led coalition.
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