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Can the West Get Out of Its (Self-Made) Cul-de-Sac in Syria?

Obamakillingsyrian

In recent years, the limits on America’s ability to shape important outcomes in the Middle East unilaterally—or even with a few European partners—have been dramatically underscored by strategically failed interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Last year, President Obama’s inability to act on his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August made clear that Washington can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of force in the region.

Still, American and other Western elites persist in thinking they can dictate the Middle East’s future by helping armed insurgents overthrow Syria’s recognized government. If Western powers don’t drop their insistence that President Bashar al-Assad leave power—even though he retains the support of a majority of Syrians and is winning his fight against opposition forces—and get serious about facilitating a political settlement between Assad and parts of the opposition, they will do further damage to their own already distressed position in the Middle East.

Since protests broke out in parts of Syria in March 2011, Western policy has focused on destabilizing President Assad and his government.  American, British, and French decision-makers calculated that, by undermining Assad, they could inflict a damaging blow to Iran’s regional position. They also reckoned that targeting Assad would help coopt the Arab Awakening that had emerged in the months preceding the start of unrest in Syria.
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Ft. Hood: An Avoidable Tragedy

Last week we saw yet another tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas, as a distraught Iraq war veteran killed three of his fellow soldiers before killing himself. It is nearly five years after the last Ft. Hood shooting, where 13 people were killed. These tragedies are heartbreaking and we certainly feel much sympathy for the families of the victims.

While there is much focus on the mental illness that appears to have driven many of these men to murder, what is left unsaid is the cause of the tragedy. Government officials and the media only talk about the symptoms that lead to these tragic events. They will tell us that there are people who get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and kill themselves and others. They will all call for more government intervention into the lives of those in the military to root out and “treat” mental illness.
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US Government's Regime Change Obsession Rears Its Ugly Head Again

CUBAUSAID

The US government’s 116-year-old obsession with controlling Cuba has suddenly manifested itself again. Yesterday, the Associated Press, based on secret records that it obtained, reported that USAID, the federal agency that distributes billions of dollars in US-taxpayer funded foreign aid and which has long served as a front organization for the CIA, has been engaged in a super-secret, covert operation to effect regime change in Cuba.

The USAID scheme involved illegally securing the cell phone numbers of tens of thousands of Cubans, most of whom were presumed to be young people. Then, using a series of several private front companies, which is a classic CIA modus, they established a twitter-type service that enabled U.S. officials to feed messages to the recipients. The plan called for feeding messages that would incite young people to rise up with mass spontaneous protests against the Cuban communist regime.

Now, one might ask: What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with the U.S. government’s helping the Cuban people achieve their freedom?

Well, for one, the freedom of the Cuban people is the furthest thing from the minds of US officials. Their objective has always been — and continues to be — control over Cuba. They couldn’t give a whit over whether the Cuban people are free or not, any more than they gave a whit over whether the Chilean, Guatemalan, and Iranian people were free after the CIA instigated regime change in those countries.
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For America, Perhaps Now is The Time For Neutrality

Among the most striking aspects of the current debate over U.S. foreign policy is the almost complete lack of perception among Americans about their country’s actual economic and military capabilities and its international influence. Whether it is Ukraine and Russia, the intensifying Islamist offensive on several continents, or the blatantly Potemkin Middle East peace talks, U.S. political leaders, academics, pundits, and most of the media speak as if today’s America is the America of 1945, 1984, or 1991, times when the United States was a nation of almost unlimited military and economic power and telling international influence.

Today, we are barely a shadow of that powerful nation. Indeed, while Washington under either party speaks as if it is the world’s voice of power and all-knowing authority, we are really the very picture of an overused, late-middle age Madam who eagerly displays her sagging wares but doesn’t seem to realize that she has lost her looks, allure, and persuasiveness, and is much more laughed at than lusted over.
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Afghan Elections for Another Fake Regime

Afghanelection

Afghanistan’s national election held this week is a sham. A group of candidates, handpicked by the US, will pretend to compete in an election whose outcome has already been determined – by Washington.

The candidates include US groomed politicians, and drug-dealing warlords from the Tajik and Uzbek north. Chief among them, Rashid Dostam, a major war criminal and principal CIA ally who ordered the massacre of over 2,000 Taliban prisoners.

Such is the rotten foundation on which Washington is hoping to build a compliant Afghan “democracy” that will continue to offer bases to US troops and warplanes. Afghanistan’s majority, the Pashtun tribes, have little voice in the election charade.

The largest, most popular party in Afghanistan, Taliban, and its smaller ally, Hisbi-Islami, have been excluded as “terrorists” from the current and past elections. They are boycotting the vote, rightly claiming it will be rigged and run by the western powers and their local collaborators. We see this same pattern of faux democracy across the Mideast.
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NATO Exploits Ukraine Crisis to Demonstrate Its Relevance

NATO's bureaucrats — and the military-industrial complex that supplies them — are thrilled with the new lease on life given them by the Ukraine crisis. That is why NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen keeps telling anyone who will listen, that NATO is needed more than ever and it must be given even more new missions. Old cold warriors are coming out of the woodwork to wave NATO flags and talk about the glories of "collective security."

In the below edition of RT's Crosstalk, watch RPI academic advisor John Laughland and fellow NATO skeptic Eric Kraus debate a neoconservative hawk from the Heritage Foundation on the subject of whether NATO has any real value or purpose more than 20 years after the Warsaw Pact shut its doors. The inability of the hawk to provide any reasonable defense of NATO is very telling.
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The Theory Behind USAID Is Wrong...And in Practice It's Worse!

Usaidtroop

USAID (United States Agency for International Development) announces its theory as follows: “USAID says that its work helps ensure American security and prosperity – arguing that the world is more stable if there is less poverty and strife.”

If the U.S. government props up client states with aid, floods their markets with American agricultural goods, underwrites military purchases, introduces Keynesian economic practices, and provides disaster aid, this is supposed to make the people wealthier and reduce political strife. If the country becomes more indebted to the IMF and World Bank, building unprofitable signature projects, this is supposed to raise living standards, making people content and happy. And all of that improvement, which actually doesn’t happen, is supposed to make Americans more secure and prosperous, a very far-fetched theory.

Intra-domestic wealth transfers in the U.S. likewise have done more harm than good, producing greater dependency, worse education, more red tape, and higher debt while undercutting private capital growth that might have involved job creation. Why are we not to expect that foreign wealth transfers are likewise doing more harm than good?
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The US Government Should Butt Out of Venezuela

In an op-ed in the New York Times this week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro calls for peace in Venezuela. The socialist president has been besieged by demonstrations in which several protestors have been killed. The protesters focus on horrendous economic conditions brought about by Maduro’s socialist economic policies. Maduro is issuing a call for domestic peace.

The problem is that whenever a ruler who is independent of the US Empire is in power, the US national-security state apparatus, especially the CIA, oftentimes gets involved in the process, stirring up trouble and doing whatever it can to achieve the ouster of the ruler and his replacement with a pro-U.S. stooge, ideally one who is a military dictator. It’s no concern of the U.S. government how many foreign citizens die in the process.
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Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution

Torture

We previously discussed how CIA officials were accused of trying to intimidate Senate staffers working on an investigation into allegations of torture and lies by the agency officials. Now the details of that still classified report have been leaked to the media. For the Senate Intelligence Committee (long accused of being a rubber stamp for intelligence agencies), the report is quite damning. The Senate found a pattern of misinformation knowingly released by the CIA to convince the public that its torture program yielded valuable intelligence — and new forms of torture that have never been previously confirmed. What is most striking however is what is not in the report: a recommendation for criminal prosecution. Indeed, consistent with its past approach to intelligence abuses, the Committee does not recommend any action be taken against a single CIA official.

The investigation reportedly details how the CIA knowingly and methodically misled the government and the public about intelligence derived from torture. This was part of a concerted effort by CIA officials and Bush officials to claim that the killing of Osama Bin Laden and other intelligence victories only occurred due to the use of torture. Indeed, the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” was a disturbing revisionist film that directly linked torture derived information with the killing of Bin Laden despite an absence of any support for such a claim. The very persons who could have been prosecuted for the torture program have given countless interviews assuring the public that the torture was beneficial. Putting aside the question of why benefits from a torture program would excuse the crime, this report further confirms that these claims were untrue.
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Targeting Iran

Iranmossad

I am going to explain why Gareth Porter’s new book Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare is possibly the most important expose of political corruption and government malfeasance to appear in the past ten years. Investigative reporter Porter’s meticulously documented account tells the tale of how the government lied again and again to make a fabricated from full cloth case, which he describes as a "false narrative," against Iran. While the tale was being spun, the US and Israeli governments both knew that the entire process was completely bogus and that Iran had no nuclear weapons program but they continued to engage in the deception in spite of the fact that it created a crisis where none existed and generated an international confrontation that could have easily been avoided.

Shockingly, Washington participated in the fraud in spite of there being no compelling national interest to do so and in the latter stages of the grand deception it colluded with Israel to disseminate false documents and blatantly misleading assessments made by Mossad, while also feeding inaccurate information and other fabricated intelligence to both US allies and the media. It also aggressively pressured international bodies to force them to lend credibility to the lies in support of a US agenda that was both fraudulent and that made no sense then just as it makes no sense now. Along the way the United States ignored its obligations in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which it is a signatory, a clear violation of Article Six of the Constitution, and eventually brought itself perilously close to an unnecessary war, a trap engineered by Israel and its powerful friends which it is currently trying to disengage from.
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