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What Truly Conservative Foreign Policy Looks Like

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American foreign policy is based on deep convictions. Those who shape it believe the United States is the indispensable nation that must lead the world; this leadership requires toughness; and toughness is best shown by threatening or using force. Beneath these beliefs lies the assumption that the United States knows more and sees further than other countries.

Many liberals embrace this dogma. That makes sense. It emerges from the liberal tradition, which imagines that humanity is steadily progressing toward a perfect world in which no one will go hungry, warlords will disappear, diseases will be cured, and people will cooperate for the common good.

Any true conservative would find this preposterous. Liberals have an expansive, optimistic view of what they can achieve in the world. They see themselves as a force for good and can be tempted to crash into other countries to “help” them toward “modernity.” Liberalism contains within it a sense of evangelical mission, which sometimes leads to we-know-best arrogance.

Conservatism, by contrast, is a live-and-let-live ideology. By nature it is prudent, careful, and restrained. Conservatives do not believe that any country can solve the world’s problems or is called to do so. They want to leave other nations alone, not remake them. That makes restraint in foreign affairs an essentially conservative doctrine.
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Cheap Oil: Great For The Economy?

Cheap oil has not driven an economic recovery in the US as it was supposed to do. Consumers have benefitted in the short-term from lower prices, but there are still record numbers of Americans out of the work force and the economy looks as shaky as ever. Much of the shale boom was driven by the Federal Reserve Bank's money-printing policies, which created boatloads of money looking for places to mal-invest. But the soft underbelly of the current cheap oil "crisis" is geopolitical uncertainty primarily in the Middle East. The world is one Turkish missile, or Russian bomb, or US airstrike, or Saudi invasion away from what could a global earthquake in the oil markets. Today's Liberty Report takes a look at the economics and politics of cheap oil...
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If You Want Security, Pursue Liberty

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Judging by his prime-time speech last week, the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency will be marked by increased militarism abroad and authoritarianism at home. The centerpiece of the president’s speech was his demand for a new law forbidding anyone on the federal government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. There has never been a mass shooter who was on the terrorist watch list, so this proposal will not increase security. However, it will decrease liberty.


Federal officials can have an American citizen placed on the terrorist watch list based solely on their suspicions that the individual might be involved in terrorist activity. Individuals placed on the list are not informed that they have been labeled as suspected terrorists, much less given an opportunity to challenge that designation, until a Transportation Security Administration agent stops them from boarding a plane.
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Israel's al-Qaeda Rescue Program

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While the US government continues to face -- and vigorously deny -- charges that it secretly helps ISIS and other extremists in Syria to keep alive Obama's regime-change policy for Assad, Washington's closest ally in the region makes little pretense that it is at war with al-Qaeda and other extremists

In fact, Israel is openly coming to the rescue of al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusra just beyond the border of Israel-occupied Golan Heights. 

Not only is Israel making no secret of its assistance to the same group responsible for the 9/11 attacks against the United States, Tel Aviv is inviting western media to "embed" with Israeli troops as they embark upon dangerous rescue missions into Syria. Yesterday's Daily Mail ran an article complete with photos and "IDF Footage" of the Israeli army crossing into Syria to rescue members of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria after they were wounded by Syrian government forces fighting back the al-Qaeda/ISIS-led insurgency. 

This is not just a one-off emergency aid mission. According to the article, Israel has been running a three-year medical assistance program for al-Qaeda fighters in southern Syria. The article estimates that Israel has patched up at least 1,600 Islamist extremists and sent many back to battle the secular Syrian government. The missions have been undertaken at great danger to the Israeli soldiers involved and at significant expense for a small country: more than $13 million dollars spend thus far.

As for why Israel would undertake what would on the surface look like a suicide mission -- propping up Islamist extremists who we are told are Israel's mortal enemies -- the Daily Mail reports that while Israel claims it is operating strictly out of humanitarian concerns, many believe Israel "has in fact struck a deadly 'deal with the devil' – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad..."
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The Second Cold War

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In the light of the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, there has been much talk about the clouding of US-Russian relations. Some voices in the Internet’s alternative media sections have conjured the possibility that these conflicts might lead to a new major war, while social networks like Twitter saw the usage of the hashtags #WorldWarIII and #WorldWar3 explode after Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 jet in the vicinity of the Syrian border. Headlines in mainstream media outlets like Foreign Policy and the Guardian also proclaimed, “Welcome to Cold War III” and asked “are we going back to the bad old days?”.

This article suggests that although the ideological division of the Cold War ended de facto with the collapse of the Soviet Union, American geopolitical schemes to contain Russian power abroad have never really been abandoned. Throughout the 1990s and until today, US policymakers have been determined to wage overt or covert proxy wars with the aim of curbing its former adversary’s political, economic, and military influence. Chechnya, Ukraine, and Syria are the key spots where the logic of this second Cold War is played out.

A short glance over the state of the world today and its representation in the media suffices to identify a growing number of actual and potential centers of conflicts: Civil war is raging in parts of Ukraine, military tensions are growing in the South Chinese Sea, and the Middle East is more of a mess than ever. Nonetheless, some have suggested that the actual number of armed conflicts has actually reached a historical low. But this assertion is solely based on statistical preference.
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What ISIS Really Has in Mind


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Recent attacks by ISIS sympathizers in Paris, London and San Bernardino, California, are not random acts of mindless violence and gory atrocities. Far from it, they are part of a well-developed strategy by the Islamic State, or ISIS, to draw the western powers into a far larger war in the Mideast. They are being aided in this quest by the loud-mouthed right of American, British and French politics.

They are drawing inspiration from the defeats of the Anglo-British army of Hicks Pasha in the Sudan in 1883 that was lured up the Nile then ambushed and swamped by 300,000 Dervish and tribal warriors. And by the defeat in Afghanistan of the British at Maiwand in the second Anglo-Afghan War of 1880.
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From Crisis Comes Leviathan

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Lovers of big government love crises because crises are the sure-fire way to get big government. It is during crises that many people go into a fright-filled panic, demanding that government assume extraordinary powers to keep them safe. Government officials, of course, are always willing to oblige, given their love of power over others.


Then, as Robert Higgs points out in his insightful book Crisis and Leviathan (which I highly recommend), once the crisis is over, while the size of government might diminish, it hardly ever returns to the size that it was before the crisis. Thus, with each new crisis, the government only gets bigger, more powerful, and more oppressive.

We witnessed this phenomenon after the 9/11 attacks. We saw it after the Paris terrorist attacks. And we are seeing it again after the shootings in San Bernardino, California.

“We need gun control!” the fear-stricken cry, unable to recognize that California already is ranked near the top in the nation in terms of strict gun-control laws.

We need stricter immigration controls!” the panicked scream, unable to see that the shooters in California were here legally.
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Losing The 'Good War': Taliban Returns In Afghanistan

The US-led war on Afghanistan has lasted some 15 years and cost well over a trillion dollars. Yet Afghanistan is in arguably worse shape than when the US set out to "liberate" it from the Taliban. In fact, the Taliban are conducting ever bolder strikes against targets of psychological significance such as the airport in Kandahar this week. The US war in Afghanistan is lost, but no one in Washington will admit it because it is too profitable to the military-industrial complex, and the admission would reveal the bankruptcy of the "regime change" and "nation-build" that is at the center of US foreign policy. Instead they will press on, taking with them the lives of many more war victims and untold resources. Today's Liberty Report takes a look at the US slow-motion defeat in Afghanistan...
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Trump Didn't Vote to Kill One Million Muslims in Iraq, Hillary Did

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Thanks to Glenn Greenwald for pointing out that the US media is acting as though Donald Trump just invented bigotry this week (one of those ugly details I'm happy to miss by never watching television). But not only is explicit bigotry toward Muslims not new, implicit bigotry toward Muslims has been the foundation of the largest public project in the United States for the past quarter century.

The driving forces behind war planning in Washington are power, domination, profit, politics, and the inertia of war planning as a path toward career success. These sociopaths are happy to bomb Germans or Yugoslavians. The value they place on sailors in Pearl Harbor or contemplated victims of Operation Northwoods, or US troops stop-lossed into insanity is negligible. They don't think twice about overthrowing a democracy in Iran and laying the groundwork for Islamic power. They have no qualms about arming Muslim radicals in Afghanistan or Iraq, and toppling secular governments in Iraq or Libya or Syria. That most ISIS weaponry is US weaponry seized from Iraq can only please the profiteers who will sell the weapons to combat ISIS. Their best friends are the killer Muslims running Saudi Arabia and nearby kingdoms. Their Christian hatred for Islam is as real as Karl Rove's integrity or Donald Trump's hair.
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Congress Plans To Tax and Spy On You More

It seems like only yesterday that incoming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan promised that from here on the House would proceed only under regular order and that there would be no midnight bills pushed through without due consideration from the committees of jurisdiction. As Congress ponders its holiday break, the pressure it mounting to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing (CISA) Act, which encourages companies to spy on their customers and give the information to the US government. They've tried to pass this legislation for years, but finally it looks like it will make it. Once again Congress sells out our liberties with the false promises of providing us more security. Today's Liberty Report is joined by Campaign for Liberty president Norm Singleton to take a look at what Congress is giving us for Christmas...
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