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In Washington's View, It's Still 1945 in Europe

Obama Merkel

Just how independent is the European Union? Given recent events involving the United States and its European allies, one really must wonder.

First, there was the US National Security Agency brazenly tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private cellphone and, very likely, many more vip’s in Germany, a key US ally and Europe’s most important nation.

Washington and the NSA shrugged off this horribly embarrassing incident with the usual “well, everyone does it.”

Not true. Imagine the stink if Germany bugged President Barack Obama’s Blackberry. Chancellor Merkel was humiliated but she downplayed the scandal, unable or unwilling to chastise the US by taking any real punitive action – like closing one of the 69-year old US military bases in Germany.

Next, Britain’s Mutual Defense Agreement with the US is up for renewal. This 1958 pact is the foundation of the much ballyhooed US-British “Special Relationship.”

This writer has reported for years that Britain cannot fire its nuclear-armed missiles without Washington turning the key via special codes. Now, we learn that Britain’s nukes also contain components that only the US can provide. France, at least, has an independent nuclear force.
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Ron Paul Rewind: Israel Encouraged Growth of Hamas

As the death toll from the Israel government’s air strikes increases and its military prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza that the Israeli government justifies as a response to Hamas hostilities, consider former Rep. Ron Paul’s January 9, 2009 speech on the US House of Representatives floor explaining that Israel helped encourage the growth of Hamas to counteract the Palestine Liberation Organization. Paul, RPI’s chairman and founder, proceeds to discuss in the speech the similarity between Israel’s past actions regarding Hamas and the US Central Intelligence Agency’s support for radicalizing Muslims to compete with the Soviet Union.
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Inside the Strange Mind of NATO's Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Fogh Rasmussen2

This week, I attended a talk here in San Francisco by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, sponsored jointly by The World Affairs Council and The Commonwealth Club.

I have never heard remarks before quite like those made by Rasmussen, the former Prime Minister of Denmark.

In nearly perfect English, he called for the expanded role for NATO pretty much across the world. He said there was an "arc of crisis" around the world, from north and central Africa to Iraq and Syria. From the Baltics to the Black Sea and on the peninsula of Korea.

He stated that the answer to this global crisis was that NATO needed more ships, planes and troops on the ground. He called for all NATO countries to expand defense spending to two percent of their GDPs and said that the only NATO countries that currently spend above this level are the US, the UK, Greece and Estonia. He justified NATO, which was, of course, formed as a North Atlantic alliance, expansion into activities into the Pacific by pointing out that the NATO member, the US, has a Pacific coast line and that other NATO members have territories in the Pacific.
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Don't Cry For Me, Shevardnadze...

When Eduard Shevardnadze died on 7th July the tectonic plates barely moved in the international media. That evening, the anchor on the BBC News 24 network fumbled with his notes — and, obviously his memory — to say something of interest. In the end it all boiled down to Shevardnadze’s role in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union. And that is where the obituaries have remained stuck — in the world of the happy ending brought about in 1991 by Gorbachev and his foreign minister.

Shevardnadze’s  eleven years in power as president of Georgia is barely mentioned, apart from his overthrow in November 2003 during the inappropriately named  ‘rose revolution’. After that ‘Shevy’, (as he was known, if not entirely affectionately) disappeared into the shadows. Over the past ten years he gave a few interviews but so far, there have been no new memoirs nor any sign of an official biography. For someone who is meant to have changed the course of history, his passing has — to say the least — been underwhelming.
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Fox News and Terrorist Propaganda

Pirro

Comedian and movie star Russell Brand recently posted a video in which he played a segment by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro about the rise in Iraq of the terrorist group ISIS, and periodically interrupted the segment to respond to her remarks.

Pirro’s segment was a fear-mongering, wardrum-beating diatribe. Emphasizing each instance of the word “bomb” with a finger jab, she boomed:
“My resolution? Air strikes. Bomb them! Bomb them… Keep bombing them. Bomb then again and again!”
When she later referred to ISIS as a “fanatical terrorist organization,” Brand turned the accusation back on Pirro and Fox News, which he said is itself “a fanatical terrorist-propagandist organization,” more dangerous than even ISIS.
“That — I’m not being sensational — that is more dangerous than ISIS. That’s attitude. That’s far-reaching. That’s affecting millions and millions of people.”
Pundits like Pirro do play a big role in whipping up a war frenzy in portions of the public.
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Media Blaming Libertarians for Republican Candidates’ Losses Four Months Before Election

Love Politics State Of Union Marriage Divorce Democrat Republican Elephant Donkey

The media is not waiting until after the November general election to blame Libertarian Party candidates for Republican Party candidates’ upcoming losses. Indeed, Libertarian candidates are already being blamed for the Republicans’ potential failure to gain a majority in of the United States Senate. The Washington Post on Sunday published an article suggesting that Libertarian candidates could “spoil” Republicans’ chances of winning United States Senate races in eleven or more states, as well as some governor races.

Following an Associated Press article last month that erroneously suggested Libertarian governor candidate Ed Thompson caused the Republican incumbent Wisconsin governor to lose to the Democrat challenger in 2002, the Washington Post article points to Republican losses in the Virginia 2013 governor race and the 2006 and 2012 Montana US Senate races to support the assertion that Libertarian candidates are spoilers for Republicans.

What proof does the Washington Post article offer to advance this empirical argument? The Libertarian candidate received more votes than the number of votes by which the Democrat beat the Republican in each of those three races. That’s it — an underwhelming “argument” to say the least. The article seems to trust that readers believe the baseless, though widely repeated, characterization of libertarianism as a subset of conservatism
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The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About the American Police State

Homeland Troops

It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re experiencing at the hands of the government. Certainly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm have much to say about government tyranny, corruption, and control, as does Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Yet there are also older, simpler, more timeless stories—folk tales and fairy tales—that speak just as powerfully to the follies and foibles in our nature as citizens and rulers alike that give rise to tyrants and dictatorships.

One such tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, is a perfect paradigm of life today in the fiefdom that is the American police state, only instead of an imperial president spending money wantonly on lavish vacations, entertainment, and questionable government programs aimed at amassing greater power, Andersen presents us with a vain and thoughtless emperor, concerned only with satisfying his own needs at the expense of his people, even when it means taxing them unmercifully, bankrupting his kingdom, and harshly punishing his people for daring to challenge his edicts.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, the Emperor, a vain peacock of a man, is conned into buying a prohibitively expensive suit of clothes that is supposedly visible only to those who are smart, competent and well-suited to their positions. Surrounded by yes men, professional flatterers and career politicians who fawn, simper and genuflect, the Emperor—arrogant, pompous and oblivious to his nudity—prances through the town in his new suit of clothes until a child dares to voice what everyone else has been thinking but too afraid to say lest they be thought stupid or incompetent: “He isn’t wearing anything at all!”
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Why it’s OK to arm ‘Moderate’ jihadists in Syria

Syria Moderates

I must admit that I was a little confused when I first heard that Barack Obama was looking for another 500 million dollars to arm rebels in Syria. It didn’t make any sense! Then I realised that he only wanted to arm moderate jihadists. Thank God!

I mean … America has been leading the crusade against all forms of jihad and terror and Al Qaeda and all things radically Islamic, and while Uncle Sam’s "war on terror" may have been a miserable failure in terms of decreasing the actual amount of terror in the world, at least we’ve always known who the good guys and the bad guys are, and I thought for a moment that Obama was going to arm those crazy extremists!

No! Thank God! It’s only the moderates that Obama is going to arm! The moderates are lovely people! They are an entirely different group from the extremists, and it’s only the extremists who are the bad guys!

Moderates don’t want to kill anybody, and if they do inadvertently kill somebody it’s because they didn’t get the chance to arrest the person and read them their rights first. Moderates prefer dialogue to violence and would sooner work things out with someone over a beer than have to shoot anybody! You won’t find moderate rebels eating the hearts of their enemies or … OH! You mean that heart-eating guy was one of the moderates?!


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Iraq: What They Died For

Iraq Patrol

Over this July 4th weekend, and as I see the images of Iraq's unfolding civil war, sometimes I think I even recognize a place I had been, having spent a year in the midst of America's Occupation there, 2009-2010.

I was a State Department civilian, embedded with an Army brigade of some 3000 men and women far from the embassy and the pronouncements of victory and whatever bright lights Iraq might have had. I grow weary now of hearing people talk about America's sacrifices, our investment, the need for more troops or air strikes, our blood and treasure spent to free Iraq, or whatever it was we were supposed to have gone there to do.

So many people say those things. But before another one says another thing, I wish they could have seen what I saw in Iraq, this:

I

Private First Class (PFC) Brian Edward Hutson (name changed), in Iraq, put the barrel of his M-4 semiautomatic assault rifle into his mouth, with the weapon set for a three-round burst, and blew out the back of his skull. He was college-aged but had not gone and would never go to college. Notice appeared in the newspapers a week after his death, listed as "non-combat related." Of the 4,486 American military deaths in Iraq, 911 were considered "non-combat related," that is, non-accidents, suicides. In 2010, as in 2009, the years I was in Iraq with PFC Hutson, more soldiers died by their own hand than in combat. Mental disorders in those years outpaced injuries as a cause for hospitalization. The Army reported a record number of suicides in a single month for June 2010. Thirty- two soldiers in all, more than one a day for the whole month, around the time PFC Hutson took his life.


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Hobby Lobby Decision Creates Small Island of Freedom in Ocean of Statism

This week, supporters of religious freedom cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court was correct to protect business owners from being forced to violate their religious beliefs by paying for contraceptives. However, the decision was very limited in scope and application.

The Court’s decision only applies to certain types of business, for example, “closely-held corporations” that have a “sincere” religious objection to paying for contraceptive coverage. Presumably, federal courts or bureaucrats will determine if a business’s religious objection to the mandate is “sincere” or not and therefore eligible for an opt-out from one Obamacare mandate.


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