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Oh, What a Lovely War!

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The American people don’t know very much about war even if Washington has been fighting on multiple fronts since 9/11. The continental United States has not experienced the presence a hostile military force for more than 100 years and war for the current generation of Americans consists largely of the insights provided by video games and movies. The Pentagon’s invention of embedded journalists, which limits any independent media insight into what is going on overseas, has contributed to the rendering of war as some kind of abstraction. Gone forever is anything like the press coverage of Vietnam, with nightly news and other media presentations showing prisoners being executed and young girls screaming while racing down the street in flames.

Given all of that, it is perhaps no surprise that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom has served in uniform, should regard violence inflicted on people overseas with a considerable level of detachment. Hillary is notorious for her assessment of the brutal killing of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, saying “We came, we saw, he died.” They both share to an extent the dominant New York-Washington policy consensus view that dealing with foreigners can sometimes get a bit bloody, but that is a price that someone in power has to be prepared to pay. One of Hillary’s top advisers, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to US led sanctions were “worth it.”
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Another US Massacre in Afghanistan

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The latest massacre of many innocent people by US forces in Afghanistan provides another demonstration as to why it is imperative that the American people stop deferring to the authority of the national security state and demand the immediate withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan.

In a war that has now gone on for 16 years, US forces just killed at least 32 more civilians, many of whom were children. Another 25 people were wounded. Of course, this is on top of all the wedding parties, hospitals, and other victims of US bombing attacks that have brought the death toll from US interventionism in Afghanistan to more than 200,000, not to mention the wounded, maimed, homeless, and refugees. In the last seven days alone, 95 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan and 111 injured.

How many of those 30 people, including the children, who are now being buried had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks? It is a virtual certainty that none of them did.

How did this latest US massacre occur? Afghan government forces, assisted by US troops, decided to raid a home in a densely populated neighborhood in a village where a Taliban commander was supposedly having a meeting. The soldiers got trapped in a narrow dead-end street, where they began taking enemy fire from surrounding homes.
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Raqqa/Mosul: Politicians Fiddle As Middle East Burns

While Americans were obsessing about tomorrow's election, the Obama Administration launched a serious military escalation in Syria. US Special Forces on the ground and jet fighters in the air are deployed in an operation to take Raqqa from ISIS control. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford announced over the weekend that the US and Turkey agreed on a long-term plan for "seizing, holding and governing" the Syrian city. Is this the beginning of a US-recognized rival Syrian government, as Benghazi was in Libya? We discuss in today's Liberty Report...
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Regardless of How America Votes, Americans Want a Different Foreign Policy

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I have said throughout this presidential campaign that it doesn’t matter much which candidate wins. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are authoritarians and neither can be expected to roll back the leviathan state that destroys our civil liberties at home while destroying our economy and security with endless wars overseas. Candidates do not matter all that much, despite what the media would have us believe. Ideas do matter, however. And regardless of which of these candidates is elected, the battle of ideas now becomes critical.
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US Hypocrisy: Bombing of Aleppo is No Worse Than What Happened in Gaza and Iraq

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The Russian-Syrian bombing campaign in eastern Aleppo, which has ended at least for the time being, has been described in press reports and op-eds as though it were unique in modern military history in its indiscriminateness. In an usual move for a senior US official, Secretary of State John Kerry called for an investigation of war crimes in Aleppo.

The discussion has been lacking in historical context, however. Certainly the civilian death toll from the bombing and shelling in Aleppo has been high, but many of the strikes may not be all that dissimilar from the major US bombing campaign in Iraq in 2003, nor as indiscriminate as Israel’s recent campaigns in densely populated cities.

The impression that the bombing in Aleppo was uniquely indiscriminate was a result of news reporting and commentary suggesting, by implication, that there are no real military targets in east Aleppo.

But in fact, al-Nusra Front turned Aleppo into the central hub of a massive system of conventional warfare in Aleppo province in late January 2016 when it sent an enormous convoy of at least 200 vehicles with troops and weaponry into eastern Aleppo. A dramatic three-minute al-Nusra video shows what appears to be hundreds of vehicles full of troops and trucks with weapons mounted on them.
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Washington's Meddling in Foreign Elections

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As US officials continue to accuse Russia of meddling with the US presidential election, an accusation that they have provided no evidence whatsoever to support, let’s review some of the US government’s history of meddling with elections in others countries.

1. In 1951, the democratically elected parliament of Iran elected a man named Mohammad Mossadegh to be Iran’s prime minister. Mossadegh angered British Empire officials by nationalizing British oil interests in the country.

British officials then turned to the CIA for assistance. In 1953, the CIA secretly fomented a violent coup in Iran, which succeeded in ousting Mossadegh from power and making the Shah of Iran the supreme unelected dictator of the country.

To fortify the Shah’s dictatorial hold on power, the CIA helped organize and train the his domestic police force, the Savak, which was essentially a combination of the CIA, the NSA, and the military. Part of the CIA’s training involved teaching Savak agents the art of torture.

For the next 26 years, the Iranian people suffered under one of the most brutal and tyrannical dictatorships in the world, one that US officials fully supported and called an ally and friend of the United States.
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Will the Media Reset After the Election or Are We Stuck With This Tabloid Stuff?

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The venerable New York Times ran a story saying Donald Trump lies about the height of his buildings.

For no apparent reason, the Times resurrected some information from 1979 saying Trump insisted on counting the basement levels of his signature Trump Tower in the overall count of how many floors the building has. The Times compares this lie to “reports” that Trump adds an inch to his actual body height in his bio materials, and also repeated the gag line that he boasted about how long his penis is (no word on whether it is or is not actually longer than expected.)

You have to wade down to paragraph 12 to learn other New York developers use the same count-the-basements levels gimmick to be able to advertise their buildings as taller. There is absolutely no news.
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Twenty Years of a Dictatorial Democracy

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The 2016 election campaign is mortifying millions of Americans in part because the presidency has become far more dangerous in recent times. Since Sept. 11, 2001, we have lived in a perpetual emergency, which supposedly justifies routinely ignoring the law and Constitution. And both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have signaled that power grabs will proliferate in the next four years.

Politicians talk as if voting magically protects the rights of everyone within a 50-mile radius of the polling booth. But the ballots Americans have cast in presidential elections since 2000 did nothing to constrain the commander in chief.

President George W. Bush’s declaration in 2000 that America needed a more “humble” foreign policy did not deter him from vowing to “rid the world of evil” and launching the most catastrophic war in American history. Eight years later, Barack Obama campaigned as the candidate of peace and promised “a new birth of freedom.” But that did not stop him from bombing seven nations, claiming a right to assassinate American citizens, and championing Orwellian total surveillance.
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Sleepwalking into a New Cold War, Pentagon Style

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The Pentagon’s five year plan has been planted (or in Pentagon-speak, “front loaded”) with the seed money for a top-to-bottom modernization of our nuclear forces — a new bomber, new inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) (even though the Minutemen III has just been completely modernized and is essentially a new missile), new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBM), upgraded (read “new”) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), a new cruise missile, and big upgrade (read “new”) to the B-61 dial-a-yield nuclear bomb (including precision guidance which implies going back to the looney tit-for-tat nuclear war-fighting doctrines of late 1970s), a new nuclear-hardened satellite based command and control system to manage all these goodies in a nuclear war, even more money for the strategic defense initiative (SDI) (the shield to protect the aforementioned swords), and a rebuilding of the nuclear lab infrastructure.
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ISIS: Mortal Threat Or Paper Tiger?

If ISIS is such a mortal threat to the United States, why has US military action in Iraq and Syria been proceeding at such a leisurely pace? Is it possible that ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria are being used -- or even supported -- by the US and its allies as a "regime change" weapon against Syria's Assad government? The US pursued this policy before, when it used Saudi-trained radicals to fight a Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan. Those radicals became al-Qaeda...
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