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Progress Toward Peace in 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain

It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year as we look back we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.

A US attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Middle Eastern war. Public pressure was so strong that President Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack.
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Washington Acts Like Government-in-Exile For Ukraine

Mike Mcfaul Surprise

Americans may be deluded with “God-given exceptionalism”, self-congratulating propaganda known euphemistically as independent journalism and news, and a massive brainwashing diet of syrupy entertainment that reinforces the vacuous vanity of supposed American values – but do they really think the rest of the world is likewise comatose? Apparently, their officials think so.

In an interview this week with Radio Free Europe (a US “independent news publication” with strong ties to the CIA), Michael McFaul, the American ambassador to Russia, spoke of the political protests currently in the Ukraine.

McFaul said: “We believe we share [with Russia] a number of common interests in this. First, it’s a peaceful process. Second, a democratic process. How to handle it all, in which framework, it is up to Ukrainians to decide.”
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Syria Conflict: You Can’t Make Sound Policy by Disregarding Reality

Syria Destruction

The U.S. posture toward the conflict in Syria exemplifies some of the worst aspects of America’s Middle East policy. In recent years, the limits on America’s ability to shape important outcomes in the region unilaterally have been dramatically underscored by strategically failed military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

Just this year, President Obama’s largely self-inflicted debacle over his publicly declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there on August 21 made it abundantly clear that the United States can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of military force in the Middle East. Nevertheless, American foreign policy elites persist in thinking that it is up to them to dictate Syria’s future—and with it the future of the Middle East.

This outlook is epitomized by Obama’s August 2011 declaration that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go”—even though the Obama administration’s preferred strategy of working with the Syrian “opposition” to effect Assad’s departure was, from the outset, doomed to fail, as we have predicted for more than two and a half years.
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A Christmas To-Do List for a Better World

In an age of bureaucracy, overcriminalization and militarized police, it often seems as if no Christmas Treegood deed goes unpunished. Indeed, although Charles Dickens immortalized the money-loving, Christmas-hating, bah-humbuggiest of humbugs Ebenezer Scrooge in his classic A Christmas Carol, the world has always been plagued by Scrooges so single-minded in their pursuit of money, power and control that they exhibit few qualms about stamping out acts of kindness, compassion and true charity when they arise. Still, we must press on, despite the Scrooges of the world.

So how do we press on and make the world a better place in the face of weaponized drones, far-reaching surveillance and a government that with every passing day is coming to resemble authoritarian regimes of old?
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Washington Has Discredited America

Capitol

Years ago when I described the George W. Bush regime as a police state, right-wing eyebrows were raised. When I described the Obama regime as an even worse police state, liberals rolled their eyes. Alas! Now I am no longer controversial. Everybody says it.

According to the UK newspaper, The Guardian, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, had an angry exchange with Obama in which Merkel compared Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) with the East German Communist Stasi, which spied on everyone through networks of informers. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/merkel-compares-nsa-stasi-obama

Merkel grew up in Communist East Germany where she was spied upon by the Stasi, and now that she has risen to the highest political office in Europe’s most powerful state, she is spied upon by “freedom and democracy” America.
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Sen. McCain, Interventionism's ‘Energizer Bunny’

If there are US-backed groups anywhere seeking the overthrow of their government, you will Mccain Ukrainefind John McCain in their midst. He is the Energizer Bunny of interventionism.

Fresh off his trip to Libya, where he was granted an award by the military on the same day the Libyan parliament declared Sharia law, McCain was this weekend on the streets of Kiev.

McCain walked among the protestors, giving encouragement to those who have occupied and trashed government buildings in attempt to overthrow the Ukrainian government. “I am proud of what the people of Ukraine are doing,” he said.

Of course, when peaceful antiwar protesters showed up at McCain’s own Senate office in 2007, he promptly had them arrested.
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Is NATO's Trojan Horse Riding Toward the 'Ukraine Spring'?

NATO Kills

Ukrainian citizens have rallied in the bitter cold at Independence Square in Kiev to demand a better economic future and to protest President Viktor Yanukovych's failure to sign an economic agreement with the EU.

But while the draft of the EU "Association Agreement" is being sold as an economic boon for Ukrainian citizens, in reality it appears to be NATO's Trojan Horse: a massive expansion of NATO's military position in the region. What's more, the Agreement occurs under the cover of nebulous economic promises for a beset population hungering for better wages.

In a country where the average monthly minimum wage stands at about $150 USD, it's not hard to understand why Ukrainians are in the streets. They do not want to be in Russia's orbit, nor do they want to be pawns of NATO.
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Breaking: Federal Court Declares NSA Program Unconstitutional

NSA Seal

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has handed down a blockbuster decision this afternoon finding that the massive National Security Agency surveillance program is unconstitutional – a view shared by many constitutional scholars including myself. The decision is not only a courageous defense of privacy but a reaffirmation of the integrity and independence of the courts.

While President Obama often insists that his authority for such surveillance is clear, the Justice Department has fought mightily (and until now successfully) to block all major challenges of the program from securing judicial review. The decision is also an embarrassment to the “reform” boards set up by the White House, including one that just released its findings on the NSA program (including the assurance that the NSA program is perfectly legal).

The Review Board conclusions were leaked by officials, which noted that the board found that the NSA is operating within the laws. This was the day before Leon issued his ruling saying that the NSA was flagrantly violating the Constitution. Many of us have questioned the hand picked boards, including a privacy board that has yet to issue its recommendations, in the wake of the Snowden scandal.
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