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'Think Tank-Gate': Corruption Is the Price of Empire

NYT Brookings

A New York Times investigation into the influence of foreign money on American thinktanks is causing a Twitter-storm as I write this, and with good reason. In one particularly egregious example, the report details an explicit agreement, signed by the principals, between the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the government of Norway for the former to propagandize on behalf of doubling a foreign aid program to Norway in exchange for a $5 million donation. Aside from the brazen corruption of the CGD/Norway relationship, the report focuses on three other Washington DC biggies: the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, all of which receive substantial chunks of cash from rich overseas donors, primarily from the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East. For example, the Times notes:

"The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world."

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Stop Being Mean to Tony Blair!

Tony Blair Lecture

Let me put in a word for Anthony Blair. I despise the Blair creature so much that words long ago failed me, and I have even run out of scornful facial expressions and rude noises to use when his name is mentioned.

I long for the day when the mystery of his rise to the highest office in British politics can be documented and explained, with all the culprits exposed.

But this week I must rally to his defence. It has now become fashionable to deride him (which it certainly wasn’t in the old days) and he got a nasty reception when he was given some award at a London dinner.

Yet the people who despise him mostly continue to support the policies that destroyed him – the babyish, grandiose warmongering and demands to impose ‘democracy’ on all corners of the world.
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Nixon’s Vindication

Forty years ago many Americans celebrated the demise of the imperial presidency with the Rp Weekly Buttonresignation of Richard Nixon. Today it is clear they celebrated too soon. Nixon’s view of presidential powers, summed up in his infamous statement that, “when the president does it that means it is not illegal,” is embraced by the majority of the political class. In fact, the last two presidents have abused their power in ways that would have made Nixon blush.

For example, Nixon’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to persecute his political opponents was the subject of one of the articles of impeachment passed by the US House of Representatives. As bad as Nixon’s abuse of the IRS was, he was hardly the first president to use the IRS this way, and the present administration seems to be continuing this tradition.
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Desperate Drug War Beneficiaries Spread Marijuana Legalization Disinformation

Marijuana Field

While local and state governments continue moving forward with reducing and eliminating restrictions and penalties regarding marijuana, drug war beneficiaries are desperately responding by spreading disinformation. One such effort is the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Traffic Area August report “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.”

The report purports to be a balanced analysis of the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. In fact, the report is over 150 pages of deceptive pro-drug war propaganda.

One may wonder how much time and money the HIDTA spent on researching, writing, and producing the professional appearing report. Whatever the cost, the HIDTA people must figure it is a good investment of other people’s money.

While the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its private and government allies spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating the agitprop, drug war writer Jacob Sullum had no trouble promptly rebutting a good portion of the report’s conclusions and exposing some of the rhetorical trickery that made the report particularly deceptive. Nonetheless, singers of prohibition praise from Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation to DARE enthusiastically promoted bite-size packets of the report’s disinformation.
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Mr. President, The Less You Do Overseas The Better

Obama

“We’ve got to stop ISIS… al-Qaida… Syria’s Assad… Hamas… Hezbollah… Taliban…

Shebab…the wicked Ruskis in Ukraine…those Yemeni Houthis…Iran…Sudan…Islamists in Libya and Mali…Boko Haram in Nigeria… the Red Chinese in Asia. Oh yes, and defend Latvia and fight the Lord’s Army in Uganda.

That’s the view in Washington where international police fever and growing hysteria over ISIS, the latest Mideast bogeyman, have gripped the nation, as elections near and politicians talk more nonsense than usual.

Listen to Republican windbags and you’d believe the hordes of ISIS are about to put Cleveland to the sword.

My question is: which “we” is going to stop all these malefactors?
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Iraq Has WMDs and Russia Has Invaded!

Iraq WMD

How did they imagine they’d get away with it, claiming that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and even nuclear weapons?

Defectors had made clear the chemical and biological weapons (some of them provided by the United States) had been destroyed. Inspectors had searched almost every inch of Iraq and said they’d get to the last few inches if given a few more days. Iraq was screaming that it had no such weapons. Numerous nations around the world were agreeing with Iraq. Colin Powell’s own staff warned him that his claims would not be deemed plausible.

And yet, they got away with it to such an extent that most well-intentioned people in the United States to this day maintain that nobody can possibly be sure that Bush, Cheney, et alia, knew their statements were false when they made them.
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US Boots in Iraq and Baltics, Authorization to Attack Syria...and US Troops in Ukraine!

Boots

It has been a busy week for US military planners.

As the NATO summit in Wales kicks off today, with an expected agreement to create a "spearhead" force of up to 5,000 troops to rapidly deploy to any "hotspot" in eastern Europe, we learn that the US will also send several hundred troops to participate in NATO military exercises in Ukraine later this month. The exercises, provocatively named "Rapid Trident," are said to be "a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine..."

As the civil war rages on in Kiev, with US-backed troops from Kiev fighting to suppress an independence movement in the east, the presence of US troops on Ukrainian soil sends a perhaps dangerously clear message of US willingness to become further involved in Ukraine's internal affairs. Russia has been accused of military involvement on behalf of those seeking independence from Kiev, but Moscow denies any official Russian role.
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Remembering Eugene V. Debs’ Imprisonment for Speaking Against War

Eugene V. Debs nearly 100 years ago was a political prisoner in the United States for the “crime” of opposing the United States government’s participation in World War I and conscription of people to fight in that war. In March of 1919, the US Supreme Court, pointing to the Espionage Act of 1917 for justification, upheld Debs’ conviction by a trial jury and ten-year prison sentence for making antiwar comments in a June 16, 1918 Canton, Ohio speech.
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Western Doublethink on Blind Path to War

Nato Summit

In October 1962, the United States threatened to go to war with Russia over the Cuban missile crisis. That high-stakes drama came about after Washington learned that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had overseen the installation of ballistic missiles on the Caribbean island, some 90 miles from the US mainland. Never mind that the nascent military alliance between Moscow and the socialist government of Fidel Castro was a inviolable matter between two sovereign states – Washington was apoplectic that Soviet missiles were permitted anywhere near its territory. The then US President John F Kennedy was impelled to go to war over the issue, even if that meant igniting an all-out thermonuclear conflagration. 

In the end, the standoff was resolved, in part through a mutual personal understanding between Kennedy and Khrushchev that such a catastrophic war had to be avoided at all costs. The Soviet Union eventually withdrew its missiles after receiving a guarantee from the White House that there would no follow-up US invasion of Cuba, as in the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs assault of April 1961. In addition, Kennedy gave a commitment to reciprocate US missile withdrawal from Turkey’s territory bordering with the former Soviet Union. 

Now fast-forward 52 years. The US-led NATO alliance this week announced that it intends consolidating its military presence in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea and the Baltic states. Ahead of a NATO summit in Wales, NATO secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called for the setting up of “reactive battalions” along Russia’s border. The contingency would include the eventual placement of ballistic missiles and it builds on recent dispatches of NATO warships and fighter aircraft in the region.
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Top Ten Ways You Can Tell if Russia Has Invaded Ukraine

NEWS Russia Invades

Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine's borders. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't; what do you know? They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

You be the judge. I put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday's announcement is yet another confabulation. (Credit to Roman Kretsul).

Because if Russia invaded on Thursday morning, this is what the situation on the ground would look like by Saturday afternoon.

1. Ukrainian artillery fell silent almost immediately. They are no longer shelling residential districts of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is because their locations had been pinpointed prior to the operation, and by Thursday afternoon they were completely wiped out using air attacks, artillery and ground-based rocket fire, as the first order of business. Local residents are overjoyed that their horrible ordeal is finally at an end.
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