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Iran, the United States, and the Middle East in 2014

Usa Iran Un

The year 2013 was, for many reasons, an important year for the Islamic Republic of Iran, for U.S.-Iranian relations, and for the Middle East more generally.  Looking back, one thing which strikes us as especially important is that, during 2013, the failures of U.S. grand strategy in the Middle East (and the gradual implosion of America’s position in the region) became evident even to some who were too analytically obtuse or ideologically reluctant to notice it earlier.

President Obama’s largely self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August was particularly crucial in this regard.  It is no accident that the Obama administration became at least superficially more interested in diplomacy after this episode.  For Obama’s flailing over Syria underscored that, after strategically failed military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the United States cannot now credibly threaten the effective use of force for hegemonic purposes in the Middle East.

If 2013 was a year in which the profound deficiencies of America’s Middle East strategy were on extended display, we expect that 2014 will be a year in which the effectiveness of Iranian strategy comes to the fore.  We are not optimistic that Obama and his team will get diplomacy with Iran “right.”  Fundamentally, official Washington remains unwilling to accept the Islamic Republic as an enduring political entity representing legitimate national interests, and to incorporate such acceptance into U.S. policy on the nuclear issue, the Syrian conflict, and other Middle Eastern challenges.
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Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget

Remember Fallujah? Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military fired on unarmed protestors, killing as many as 20 and wounding dozens. In retaliation, local Iraqis attacked a convoy of US military contractors, killing four. The US then launched a full attack on Fallujah to regain control, which left perhaps 700 Iraqis dead and the city virtually destroyed.

According to press reports last weekend, Fallujah is now under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates. The Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, is under siege by al-Qaeda. During the 2007 “surge,” more than 1,000 US troops were killed “pacifying” the Anbar province.  Although al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the US invasion, it is now conducting its own surge in Anbar.
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World Danger Spots for 2014

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Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014?

*Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack.

A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.



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I Worked On the US Drone Program. Here's What Really Goes On

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Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?" And: "How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Or even more pointedly: "How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?"

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.
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11 Good Things for Liberty in 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, let’s pause to recall some important developments for the cause of liberty – some of which you already know well, and others you’ll be hearing about for the first time.

Edward Snowden. After sitting on the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping story for 18 months, the New York Times revealed a portion of the surveillance activities of the US government in 2005. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the National Security Agency’s spying activities vastly exceeded anything we heard about in the media.

The Snowden revelations served two functions from the point of view of public enlightenment. First, the regime in DC was once again exposed as untruthful, even sinister. But second, the bipartisan condemnation of Snowden on the part of the political establishment – both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain denounced him, unsurprisingly – reminds us that there is, after all, one party: the state party. Whatever cosmetic differences separate politicians otherwise, when push comes to shove, they rally to one another in the face of a truth-teller.
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Ron Paul Rewind: End US Marijuana Prohibition and War on Drugs

Despite Colorado implementing on January 1 the legal sale and purchase of marijuana for recreational use, marijuana growers, vendors, and purchasers in Colorado will continue looking over their shoulders concerned that US government police may bust them for violating federal marijuana prohibition. In June, 2011 Rep. Ron Paul joined Rep. Barney Frank as the lead Republican cosponsor of Frank’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 2306). Paul took the introduction of the bill as an opportunity to discuss with Larry Kudlow on CNBC the need to end the US government’s marijuana prohibition and war on drugs:
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Life in the Emerging American Police State: What’s in Store for Our Freedoms in 2014?

In Harold Ramis’ classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Police StateBill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.—although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.
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'NSA Has Become a Four-Letter Word in US'

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The NSA “has become a four-letter word in the US” and Americans are irritated, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Daniel McAdams, told RT while commenting on a ruling which states that the agency's spying is legal.

RT: The hackers' congress which is underway in Hamburg is seeking to raise awareness of encryption and privacy. We're used to thinking about hacking as something illegal. Are hackers becoming the new heroes of our time?

Daniel McAdams: When the government is doing things that are illegal, it takes formerly illegal things like hackers to try to protect us. The only worry is [whether these are] all legitimate hackers or some [are] infiltrated. The whole world of encryption is also somewhat concerning as well.

RT: Assange called on hackers to fight back against the spy agencies. Is the job any easier these days, after all these revelations?

DM: I think there has been an enormous increase in awareness of what the government is doing. What is interesting is that this ruling by Judge Pauley on Friday said the ACLU does not have the right to challenge this collection of metadata because it was gotten illegally because of revelations by Snowden.


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Vitali Klitschko's American Coaches

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It has become the custom in independent Ukraine that there is not a single government ministry or agency and not a single political party in parliament besides the communists, where “quiet Americans”, or British, or Germans, do not stand by side to tell the Ukrainian politicians and officials how they should run the country.

And this is not likely to change if Vitali Klitschko becomes the next president of Ukraine. More likely this affliction will then be manifested in full. Lacking the knowledge and experience needed to govern a country, Klitschko will inevitably become a pawn in the hands of people who are about to raise him to the top of the state hierarchy hiding in the shadow of his “throne”. Among them will be the American consultants who work with the UDAR (“Удар” is “Punch” in Ukrainian)  Party. It is interesting to take a look at just what kind of companies are mediating in contacts between Klitschko and the U.S. Congress and American government agencies, as well as advising his staff on organizing the early presidential race …

Until recently, according to UDAR’s political strategist Rostislav Pavlenko, the party was working with the American company PBN, which specializes in the field of so-called “strategic communications” on the markets of Russia, Ukraine and other CIS countries. According to PBN’s site, the key areas of the company’s activities are “corporate and crisis communications, public and government relations, and financial communications and investor relations.”
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Turkey’s Role in Syria’s Unfolding Crisis

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Under Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey became directly involved in the Syrian crisis as his support for the Muslim Brotherhood brought an ideological context to Turkey’s hostile stance against Assad’s government.

At the beginning of 2011, continuing protests against Assad finally led to the end of the 48-year state of emergency in Syria and an amnesty for political prisoners, not without US and EU pressure. But several months later a well-known US whistleblower Sibel Edmonds claimed that the US and Turkey have been giving logistic aid and military training to the Syrian armed opposition since “April-May 2011”. Edmonds even declared that the US Air Force base in İncirlik (Turkey) was used as a training facility for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other opponents of the Damascus regime – in her own words, “the dissident base in Syria.”

In June 2011, the Assad government declared that 120 members of its security forces were killed by “armed gangs” in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour, located about 16 kilometers from Turkey’s Hatay region. Assad’s troops laid siege to the town and more than 10,000 people subsequently fled to Turkey.
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