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Nation-Building: Global Hegemony Without Local Knowledge

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In 1974, when Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics, he used his acceptance speech to deliver a warning to the world. Do not again fall for “the pretense of knowledge,” he counseled.

Hayek was singling out economic policymakers who presume to possess the knowledge needed to confidently predict and design market outcomes, much as engineers precisely predict and design mechanical outcomes.

Yet, as Hayek surely recognized, such epistemic arrogance is rampant throughout all social thought, and not just economics. It particularly plagues the realm of foreign policy.

Consider how impossible it is to know exactly what is going on in anyone else’s mind. Nobody can predict with certainty an individual’s future choices, and the preferences those choices reveal. The mind of even a single person is to a great degree opaque. Now take that opacity and multiply it by the millions of minds that make up an economy or a country. That is a hell of a lot of ignorance and unpredictability.
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Enemies Everywhere - The US War On The World

The USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis combat system, recently found the Russian air force unwelcoming as the US conducted military maneuvers just 50 miles from Russian soil. The Russian flyover was greeted in Washington with howls of "aggression!" But why was a US Naval vessel whose purpose is to target enemy missiles -- nuclear and conventional -- conducting exercises so close to Russia? Is that not also provocative? And what about the US Navy in the South China Sea? And near North Korea? And the Black Sea? Is the US at war with the world really the best idea for our security, or is Washington more interested in the financial security of the military-industrial complex?
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Washington’s War Against the World

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Secretary of War Ash Carter is concerned about America’s posture. No, it’s not about sitting with your back straight up and your knees placed primly together. It all has to do with how many enemies there are out there threatening the United States and what we have to do, globally speaking, to make them cry uncle. Ash outlined his views at a “posture hearing” before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 17th, part of a process intended to give still more money to the Pentagon, $582.7 billion to be exact for fiscal year 2017.

I respect Ash at least a bit because he once studied Medieval History at Yale, though he apparently has forgotten about the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses. Both devastated winners and losers alike, a salutary lesson for those who are concerned about what the United States has been up to for the past fifteen years. Yet Ash, who is characteristically no veteran and for whom war is an abstraction that must be supported by counting and piling up sufficient beans, thinks that more is always better when it comes to having fancy new toys to play with. Since his proposed budget will be giving the Navy a few tens of billions worth of Ohio class subs the Air Force will have to get its own strategic bombers so no one will feel cheated. Just wait until the bill from the Army comes in.

Ash justified all the needless spending by telling the Senators that there are five “security challenges” confronting the United States – terrorism, North Korea, China, Russia and Iran – before lapsing into Pentagon-speak about why more money is always better than less money. He attacked any attempt at sequestration, which would require budget cuts across the board, because it risks the “funding of critical investments.”
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The Terrorist iPhone Snow Job

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It all started so “harmless.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted to access the information of a person being investigated for mass murder so, the FBI said, it could try to prevent more terrorist attacks.

A couple months later this has morphed into a situation where the FBI is offering to help police departments across America access secured information of any electronic device connected to criminal investigations and where members of the United States Senate are moving forward with legislation to force technology companies to give the government access to secured, including via encryption, electronic devices information.

First, the FBI’s bumbled handling of an iPhone connected to a mass killing in San Bernardino provided an opening for the FBI to seek a precedent-setting court order to require Apple to assist the government in overcoming the phone’s security. Rather convenient, one might say, for a government agency determined to search and seize with the minimum possible constraint. Then, when Apple resisted the court’s order that was obtained ex parte (without Apple being afforded an opportunity to present its opposing arguments), the FBI dropped the case, claiming it found people who helped it bypass the iPhone’s security. This is after the FBI had told the magistrate judge that the FBI needed Apple’s help to accomplish the task.
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After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington

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Brazil’s lower house of Congress on Sunday voted to impeach the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff, sending the removal process to the Senate. In an act of unintended though rich symbolism, the House member who pushed impeachment over the 342-vote threshold was Dep. Bruno Araújo, himself implicated by a document indicating he may have received illegal funds from the construction giant at the heart of the nation’s corruption scandal. Even more significantly, Araújo belongs to the center-right party PSDB, whose nominees have lost four straight national elections to Rousseff’s moderate-left PT party, with the last ballot-box defeat being delivered just 18 months ago, when 54 million Brazilians voted to re-elect Dilma as president.

Those two facts about Araújo underscore the unprecedentedly surreal nature of yesterday’s proceedings in Brasília, capital of the world’s fifth largest country. Politicians and parties which have spent two decades trying, and failing, to defeat PT in democratic elections triumphantly marched forward to effectively overturn the 2014 vote by removing Dilma on grounds that, as today’s New York Times report makes clear, are, at best, dubious in the extreme. Even The Economist, which has long despised the PT and its anti-poverty programs and which wants Dilma to resign, has argued that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” and it “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.”
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Saudi 9/11 Blackmail: 'We'll Dump Dollar!'

Over the weekend, the Saudi foreign minister threatened to sell $750 billion in US dollar holdings if Congress passes legislation removing the kingdom's sovereign immunity from liability should Saudi official involvement in the attacks of 9/11 be demonstrated. What would happen to the dollar should a huge dump like this occur? It would have significant impact on global markets, says Ron Paul in today's Liberty Report. Why are the Saudis so nervous? Will their blackmail keep the 28 pages of the 9/11 Report secret? What will Obama say in Riyadh on Wednesday?
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What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?

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This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.

Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.
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The Phony War in Syria

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The great, long-awaited counterattack against ISIS has finally begun. The offensive that spans Syria and western Iraq is targeting the ISIS-held cities of Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

For a variety of reasons, the much ballyhooed “final offensive” against ISIS is moving with all the speed of a medieval army of drunken foot soldiers and all the audacity of a lady’s garden party.

As a former soldier and war correspondent, I find the spectacle both pathetic and weird. Back in my army days, our tough sergeants used to call such behavior “lilly-dipping.” There’s no risk that this pathetic campaign will go down in the annals of military history.

In fact, the whole business smells to high heaven.
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Deadly Myths: Iraq 'Surge' General Calls for 'Surge 2.0'

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The history of post Cold War US involvement in Iraq is the story of the enduring power of myths to drive a false foreign policy narrative and achieve the goals of a singularly-focused pressure group (the interventionist neocons). From the 1990 myth that Saddam Hussein had on his own and in opposition to stated US wishes made a land grab in Kuwait, the myth that Iraqi troops were poised to invade Saudi Arabia, the 2003 myth that Saddam had, "in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons,"  to the myth that the invasion of Iraq would be a "cakewalk," to the myth that the US attack on Iraq would bring the Iraqi people "hope and progress."

But perhaps one of the most enduring myths of all, endlessly reinforced by the media, has been that after the disastrous aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a few brilliant military philosophers in the Pentagon came up with a "surge" in tandem with a new "counterinsurgency doctrine" that snatched victory in Iraq from the jaws of a horrible, scorched earth defeat. 

The "Surge" of some 20,000 additional American troops along with the cancellation of out-rotations of many others is said to have been responsible for an end to -- or at least a great reduction in -- the almost unimaginable levels of violence in Iraq, both among Iraqis and toward the US occupying army. In the words of then-President George W. Bush, the purpose of the surge was "to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security."
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Ron Paul's 'What If' Speech - Like You've Never Seen it Before

Many people remember Ron Paul's powerful 2011 House Floor speech, "What If?" In less than four minutes, Rep. Paul completely obliterated the entire neocon foreign policy of interventionism. He turned their claims around on them, he used their lies against them. It was a tremendous, memorable speech. But thanks to a very talented YouTube videographer, that amazing speech got even better. See for yourself...
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