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The Many Matryoska Dolls to America’s Way of Imagining Iran

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On the 17 September 1656, Oliver Cromwell, a Protestant Puritan, who had won a civil war, and had the English king beheaded in public, railed against England’s enemies. There was, he told Parliament that day, an axis of evil abroad in the world. And this axis – led by Catholic Spain – was, at root, the problem of a people that had placed themselves at the service of “evil”. This “evil”, and the servitude that it beget, was the evil of a religion – Catholicism – that refused the English peoples’ desire for simple liberties: “… [an evil] that put men under restraint … under which there was no freedom … and under which, there could be ‘no liberty of individual consciousness’”.
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A New Definition of Warfare

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Supporters of Donald Trump often make the point that he has not started any new wars. One might observe that it has not been for lack of trying, as his cruise missile attacks on Syria based on fabricated evidence and his recent assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have been indisputably acts of war. Trump also has enhanced troop levels both in the Middle East and in Afghanistan while also increasing the frequency and lethality of armed drone attacks worldwide.

Congress has been somewhat unseriously toying around with a tightening of the war powers act of 1973 to make it more difficult for a president to carry out acts of war without any deliberation by or authorization from the legislature. But perhaps the definition of war itself should be expanded. The one area where Trump and his team of narcissistic sociopaths have been most active has been in the imposition of sanctions with lethal intent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been explicit in his explanations that the assertion of “extreme pressure” on countries like Iran and Venezuela is intended to make the people suffer to such an extent that they rise up against their governments and bring about “regime change.” In Pompeo’s twisted reckoning that is how places that Washington disapproves of will again become “normal countries.”

The sanctions can kill. Those imposed by the United States are backed up by the US Treasury which is able to block cash transfers going through the dollar denominated international banking system. Banks that do not comply with America’s imposed rules can themselves be sanctioned, meaning that US sanctions are de facto globally applicable, even if foreign banks and governments do not agree with the policies that drive them. It is well documented how sanctions that have an impact on the importation of medicines have killed thousands of Iranians. In Venezuela, the effect of sanctions has been starvation as food imports have been blocked, forcing a large part of the population to flee the country just to survive.
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Iran Counters EU Threat Of Snapback Sanctions

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US President Donald Trump wants to destroy the nuclear agreement with Iran. He has threatened the EU-3 poodles in Germany, Britain and France with a 25% tariff on their car exports to the US unless they end their role in the JCPOA deal.

In their usual gutlessness the Europeans gave in to the blackmail. They triggered the Dispute Resolution Mechanism of the deal. The mechanism foresees two 15 day periods of negotiations and a five day decision period after which any of the involved countries can escalate the issues to the UN Security Council. The reference to the UNSC would then lead to an automatic reactivation or "snapback" of those UN sanction against Iran that existed before the nuclear deal was signed.

Iran is now countering the European move. Its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran may leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if any of the European countries escalates the issue to the UNSC
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Author of Leaked OPCW Engineering Report on Douma Speaks at UN Security Council

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The UN Security Council met in New York on Monday to discuss the investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into an alleged chemical attack that was said to have taken place in April 2018 in Douma, Syria. The alleged attack was blamed on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the US, UK, and France responded with an airstrike against Syrian government targets.
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Rich Liberals Protected By Guns...Why Not The Rest Of Us?

Yesterday's Virginia pro-Second Amendment rally shocked the elites to their core. Propagandized by the mainstream media, they expected out-of-control white supremacists but found a peaceful group of all races and orientations.  More importantly, the local government nullification movement is growing like wildfire, with local authorities openly vowing they would not enforce gun laws passed in Richmond that they consider unconstitutional. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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The War In Trump's Ear

A new book on Trump by Washington Post writers, "A Very Stable Genius," has tongues wagging and new accusations of the president's "instability." As usual, these politicized claims miss the target completely and also misunderstand the real war for Trump's ear. The generals are out, the "realists" were never quite in, there is little "America first" in the president's foreign policy, and, with reports that David Wurmser has the president's ear on Iran, the neocons are creeping back in. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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The Murder Of Qassem Soleimani Will Deter No One

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The Trump administration sees the US assassination of Qassem Soleimani as a form of deterrence not only with regards to Iran but also towards Russia, China and others. That view is wrong.

The claim that the murder of Soleimani was necessary because of an "imminent threat" has been debunked by Trump himself when he tweeted that 'it doesn't really matter' if there was such a threat or not.

In a speech at the Hoover Institute Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the assassination was part of a new deterrence strategy. As Reuters reported:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said Qassem Soleimani was killed as part of a broader strategy of deterring challenges by US foes that also applies to China and Russia, further diluting the assertion that the top Iranian general was struck because he was plotting imminent attacks on US targets.
In his speech at Stanford University's Hoover Institute, Pompeo made no mention of the threat of imminent attacks planned by Soleimani.

The speech itself, headlined The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example, makes that less explicit as Reuters lets it appear...
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Guaido's Last Ride

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Remember Juan Guaido? Just a year ago the Venezuelan politician, unknown even in his own country, was tapped by the US government to lead a coup against the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. In a phone call with no less than Vice President Mike Pence himself, Guaido was told that if he declared himself president the US would back him. So...he did.

Guaido hadn't received a single vote to be president in Venezuela's election - in fact he never even ran for the office - but such absurdity has never stopped the US government from backing military coups overseas. All done in the name of "democracy," to be sure.

News of US recognition of Guaido as the lawful president of Venezuela led to an avalanche of lies meant to bolster Washington's claim that Maduro must be overthrown because he was making war on his own people. The claim that the elections were invalid because of fraud were the product of the Foggy Bottom foghorn, amplified by US government funded entities like the Organization of American States instead of any actual evidence or investigation.
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How Expansive is FBI Spying?

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Cato Institute Research Fellow Patrick Eddington recently filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever conducted surveillance of several organizations dealing with government policy, including my Campaign for Liberty. Based on the FBI’s response, Campaign for Liberty and other organizations, including the Cato institute and the Reason Foundation, may have been subjected to FBI surveillance or other data collection.
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Keeping with its Crackdown on Alternative Voices, Google Deletes Press TV from YouTube

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Without warning, tech giant Google “permanently removed” Iranian government-owned media channel Press TV UK’s YouTube channel Monday night amid increasing American hostility to Iran.

“This attack on the freedom of speech of Press TV’s journalists seems to be part of an anti-Iran purge as the West sets its sights on regime change in Iran,” Press TV said. Its content, in its own words, focuses on “anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and covers aspects of the news which the mainstream corporate media in the United Kingdom have refused to air.”

The London-based outlet had over 28,000 subscribers on its YouTube account at the time of its deletion.

British-Sudanese journalist Ahmed Kaballo accused Google of acting like the “judge jury and executioner” for his employer’s channel, expressing his great disappointment that his journalistic output is now gone and his worry at “what this really represents” for alternative media that “show a different perspective and holds a critical lens” on war and empire.
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