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Kerry’s Anger as Assad Poised to Win; the US Still Serves Israel and Saudi Arabia

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The headline reads “John Kerry calls for war crimes investigation of Russia and Syria over Aleppo attacks”. John Kerry is angry that the Syrian army is about to take eastern Aleppo. He’s angry because the US has no viable force to stop this. He’s angry because Assad is still in power. He’s angry that Assad has allies in Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. He’s angry that the chemical rap didn’t stick on Assad. He’s angry that the US didn’t launch a massive air attack on Syria’s infrastructure and military in 2013. He’s angry that no viable force of “moderate” rebels exists. He’s taking his anger out on Russia.

Kerry attacks Russia with phony charges because his other options are so unpalatable. He acts as if attacking a city to win a war has suddenly become a war crime, today, in 2016, in Aleppo. He acts as if it was not a crime for Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, for NATO to attack Libya and for the US to attack Iraq and Afghanistan. He acts as if the moral designation of acts of war has changed drastically from the time that the US mercilessly bombed Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. This was a mere 45 years ago. Does the turning of a calendar page into the 21st century mean that an act of war that was always in mankind’s arsenal of killing suddenly has become a war crime? If so, then the US stands in the docket too.

Kerry is so angry and frustrated that he launches a propaganda salvo to obtain what he cannot win on the battlefield. He attacks Russia and Syria on grounds that apply to Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia in the 21st century. Is this also blindness? Is it also confidence that the American public and media will not call him on this because he’s gotten a free pass up to now? Is it that in the lame duck presidency, he feels free to express his frustration and lash out at convenient objects?
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Debate Round Two: Issues Vs. Character

Both presidential candidates spoke a good deal about Syria, Russia, Iran, Libya, and foreign policy in general. After they finished the exercise in mutual character assassination, that is. But which is more important, character or issues? And why are the candidates seemingly so ill-informed about basic aspects of the war in Syria? Bad advisors? Propaganda? We take a look at the second debate in today's Liberty Report...
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A Government is Seizing Control of Our Election Process, and It Is Not the Russians

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There is an attempt underway for a government to take control of our election process and throw the election to Hillary Clinton. It is not the Russian government. Mark this day — it is when we came to understand that the American government decided to elect a president.

Here’s how:

— Two days before the second presidential debate, the government of the United States officially accused Russia of a hacking campaign aimed at interfering in the U.S. election. In a joint statement, absent any specifics or technical details, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence stated “the recent [hacked email] disclosures… are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts… based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

— The statement goes on to detail how only Democratic servers were attacked, meaning the American government is claiming that Russia is trying to throw the election to Donald Trump, plain and simple. It is left unsaid why the Russians would risk cyberwar with the United States to do this, as many have suggested Trump is a neocon in spirit whose loose finger will be on the nuclear button from day one. Clinton is much more of a political realist, comfortable with the business-as-usual of the past eight years that has gone in Russia’s favor in the Ukraine and Syria. She in fact seems like the stable known known, always a preference.
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Fifteen Years Into the Afghan War, Do Americans Know the Truth?

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Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. There weren’t any victory parades or photo-ops with Afghanistan’s post-liberation leaders. That is because the war is ongoing. In fact, 15 years after launching a war against Afghanistan’s Taliban government in retaliation for an attack by Saudi-backed al-Qaeda, the US-backed forces are steadily losing territory back to the Taliban.


What President Obama called “the good war” before took office in 2008, has become the “forgotten war” some eight years later. How many Americans know that we still have nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan? Do any Americans know that the Taliban was never defeated, but now holds more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001? Do they know the Taliban overran the provincial capital of Kunduz last week for a second time in a year and they threaten several other provincial capitals?
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Obama’s Syria Policy and the Illusion of US Power in the Middle East

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With the collapse of the US-Russian ceasefire agreement and the resumption and escalation of the massive Russian bombing campaign in Aleppo, the frustration of hawks in Washington over the failure of the Obama administration to use American military power in Syria has risen to new heights. 

But the administration’s inability to do anything about Russian military escalation in Aleppo is the logical result of the role the Obama administration has been playing in Syria over the past five years.

The problem is that the administration has pursued policy objectives that it lacked the means to achieve. When Obama called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down in September 2011, the administration believed, incredibly, that he would do so of his own accord. As former Hillary Clinton aide and Pentagon official Derek Chollet reveals in his new book, The Long Game, “[E]arly in the crisis, most officials believed Assad lacked the necessary cunning and fortitude to stay in power.” 

Administration policymakers began using the phrase “managed transition” in regard to US policy toward the government, according to Chollet. The phrase reflected perfectly the vaulting ambitions of policymakers who were eager to participate in a regime change that they saw as a big win for the United States and Israel and a big loss for Iran.
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America’s Longest War Gets Longer

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Fifteen years ago this week, the US launched the longest war in its history: the invasion and occupation of remote Afghanistan. Neighboring Pakistan was forced to facilitate the American invasion or  “be bombed back to the stone age."

America was furious after the bloody 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration had been caught sleeping on guard duty. Many Americans believed 9/11 was an inside job by pro-war neocons.

Afghanistan was picked as the target of US vengeance even though the 9/11 attacks were hatched (if in fact done from abroad) in Germany and Spain. The suicide attackers made clear their kamikaze mission was to punish the US for “occupying “ the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and for Washington’s open-ended support of Israel in its occupation of Palestine.

This rational was quickly obscured by the Bush administration that claimed the 9/11 attackers, most of whom were Saudis, were motivated by hatred of American “values" and  “freedoms." This nonsense planted the seeds of the rising tide of Islamophobia that we see today and the faux  “war on terror."

An anti-communist jihadi, Osama bin Laden, was inflated and demonized into America’s Great Satan. The supposed  “terrorist training camps “ in Afghanistan were, as I saw with my eyes, camps where Pakistani intelligence trained jihadis to fight in India-occupied Kashmir.
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A Sandy Beach and Constitutional Political Economy

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I normally walk my dogs twice each day along the beach, which gives me an opportunity to ponder, among other things, issues in constitutional political economy. My late friend James Buchanan, one of the deepest thinkers in political economy during the past century, led the development of this field of study in his time. Jim maintained that both for understanding how the political world works and for constructing better institutions to foster freedom and prosperity, one ought to distinguish between the establishment and maintenance of the constitution, on the one hand, and normal politics, on the other. The idea is that the constitution has more durability and sets more binding constraints, whereas normal political action takes place within these bounds, dealing with less fundamental matters and doing so in a more volatile way.
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Why Snowden the Movie Matters

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I’ve reviewed Oliver Stone’s movie Snowden elsewhere, and it’s well worth seeing just as a movie. But of course the issues brought up by Snowden the man, and Snowden the movie, are more complex than fit into two hours.

I had this hit home in a recent discussion with a friend who keeps insisting he has nothing to hide in his emails, phone calls, social media, etc., so why should he care if the NSA looks at all that?

Friend, here’s why:

NSA surveillance is legal.

True, as was slavery in the US, the Holocaust under Nazi Germany, Apartheid in South Africa and so forth. Laws serve higher purposes. They can be manipulated for evil. That’s why we need checks and balances to protect us.

Well, there are checks and balances in the system to protect us.

The king of all checks and balances in this, the Fourth Amendment, has been treated by the government like a used Kleenex.
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Syria — What Cost 'Victory'?

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A deep contradiction lies at the heart of US policy towards the present horrifying conflict in Syria. Which is better? To now reluctantly accept continuation of Bashar al- Assad in power in Damascus for the foreseeable future, thereby hastening the end of the war and the killing? Or to fight till the last Syrian in the belief that an indefinite prolongation of the civil war will somehow bring about a much brighter future for Syria and deal a rebuff to the position of Russia and Iran in Syria? 

The Syrian war represents one of the darkest moments in civil conflicts anywhere in the world in recent years. At this juncture its locus is now in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, and an ancient center of Middle Eastern high culture. And this is where the human level of suffering particularly cries out for relief. The number of people who have been killed by bombing—in recent weeks especially by Syrian government forces and Russian air attacks— is horrendous. Fear, starvation and death haunt this once magnificent city.

But there is a decision to be made. Back in 2011 in the midst of the Arab Spring revolutions, there was reason to believe that the Assad regime too, would quickly bite the dust, as did Mubarak in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya and Bin Ali in Tunisia. But as an early uprising emerged against  Assad, the regime reacted swiftly with harsh reprisals in the belief that a quick putdown would nip it in the bud.
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Free Speech Victory: The 'Ron Paul' Sign Can Stay!

Are laws regulating how long you can keep up a political sign on your property a restriction of free speech? Texas businessman Michael Kleinman thought so after the state told him to remove his "Ron Paul 2012" sign after the election. According to Texas' "beautification" laws, political signs must be removed 10 days after an election and cannot go up more than 60 days before the election. Kleinman was fined by the state but he fought back. For four years. And this summer he finally won. We'll look at his story and free speech in today's Liberty Report...
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