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Nuclear Chicken in the Mideast

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To no surprise, nuclear talks between Iran and major world powers have become stalemated.

Iran will not sink “to its knees” to win a nuclear deal with the great powers, said its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after the failure of six months of talks in Vienna.

However, the talks will continue until at least next March. Pity the poor negotiators: besides being excruciatingly boring, dealing with the tough, savvy Iranians is like pulling teeth. The only nationality I ever saw get the better of Iranians in negotiations were Armenians.

The United States has been waging economic and political warfare on the Islamic Republic since 1979. Only Cuba has been pounded longer. Both have suffered hugely.

Of late, Iranian nuclear scientists and technicians have been murdered in broad daylight. Nuclear installations have been sabotaged. The Stuxnet virus allegedly unleashed by the US and Israel against Iran’s centrifuges risked a catastrophic explosion or the release of nuclear contamination. In neighboring, Iraq, some 300 of its former nuclear technicians and scientists have been mysteriously murdered during the US occupation.

Iran’s economy has been very seriously damaged by the US-led boycott and commercial restrictions. Iranians are suffering mounting inflation, shortages of goods, and a collapsing currency. Iranians are fed up being the target of western sanctions.
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Darren Wilson and the Reality of 'Blue Privilege'

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“Any time I’m involved in an officer-involved shooting, be it a fatal one or non-fatal, it is always during my initial investigation listed as an assault on law enforcement,” explained the St. Louis County Police Detective who inaugurated the investigation of the Michael Brown shooting. “Officer Wilson … was the victim of the assault we were investigating.”

Once it had been established that the living, armed individual was the “victim” and the dead, bullet-ridden body had belonged to the “assailant,” continued the detective in his September 3 grand jury testimony, “One of the sergeants with Ferguson [gave] me a brief walk-through to start my investigation so I [could] have a logical starting point from where I would start my video, photographs, and looking for evidence.”

That unnamed sergeant, most likely, was the supervisor who had told Darren Wilson to leave the scene after the shooter told him that Brown had tried to take his gun.

From its inception, the shooting of Michael Brown was not investigated as a potential criminal homicide, and the inquiry was an exercise in validating the killer’s story, rather than testing it against the available evidence. The assumption was that killing was part of his job description – or, as Wilson has subsequently told George Stephanopoulos, “I did what I was paid to do.”

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Syrian Christians: 'Help Us to Stay - Stop Arming Terrorists'

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Outgoing artillery shook St Elias church as the priest reached the end of the Lord's Prayer.

The small congregation kept their eyes on the pulpit, kneeling when required and trying to ignore the regular thuds that rattled the stained glass windows above them.

Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the hard to reach Syrian agricultural town of Izraa has stood the comings and goings of many empires over the centuries.

But as the country's civil war creeps closer, it is threatening to force the town's Christians into permanent exile: never to return, they fear.

"I have been coming to this church since I was born," said Afaf Azam, 52. "But now the situation is very bad. Everyone is afraid. Jihadists control villages around us."
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We Are the Enemy: Is This the Lesson of Ferguson?

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Should police officer Darren Wilson be held accountable for the shooting death of unarmed citizen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014?

That the police officer was white and his victim black should make no difference. In a perfect world, it would not matter. In an imperfect world such as ours, however, racism is an effective propaganda tool used by the government and the media to distract us from the real issues.

As a result, the national dialogue about the dangers of militarized, weaponized police officers being trained to act like soldiers on the battlefield, shooting first and asking questions later, has shifted into a largely unspoken debate over race wars, class perceptions and longstanding, deep-seated notions of who deserves our unquestioning loyalty and who does not.

Putting aside our prejudices, however, let’s not overlook the importance of Ferguson and this grand jury verdict. Tasked with determining whether Wilson should stand trial for Brown’s shooting, the grand jury ruled that the police officer will not face charges for the fatal shooting.
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'Coercive Diplomacy' and the Failure of the Nuclear Negotiations

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After more than a year of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the two sides have failed to reach an agreement by the agreed deadline in July.  They have agreed to continue negotiating, but the failure to meet the deadline was clearly not caused by the lack of time. 

To understand why the talks have remained deadlocked, it is necessary to review the Obama administration’s stance on diplomacy with Iran in the context of the long US history of favouring “coercive diplomacy” over traditional negotiations in managing conflicts with adversaries.

Reliance on coercive diplomacy is deeply imbedded in the strategic culture of US national security institutions. It has evolved over decades of US military and economic dominance in international politics, which has allowed the United States to avoid genuine diplomacy repeatedly.

Based on that military supremacy, the United States avoided negotiations with its communist adversaries up to the early 1970s, when Henry Kissinger courted China and launched his détente policy with the Soviet Union. But that brief period of serious negotiating came in the wake of political pressures for reducing US military spending and foreign military presence during the long and exhausting US war in Vietnam.  It soon gave way to renewed reliance on coercive diplomacy during the Reagan administration.
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What Does Hagel's Ouster Mean for US Syria Policy?

Does today's pink slip to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signal a big victory to the humanitarian interventionists and neocons pushing President Obama to go for broke against Assad in Syria? RPI's Daniel McAdams was on RT this morning to give his take.
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Reform the CIA? What Good Would That Do?

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After all, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, these two agencies operate in secret. Moreover, they know that they can do anything they want, including breaking the law, and that nothing will ever happen to them.

Suppose, for example, that Congress were to enact a law that prohibits the NSA from monitoring everyone’s email. Let’s assume that the NSA decides that monitoring people’s email is necessary for national security. Does anyone really think that the NSA is going to fail to protect national security, even if that means violating the law? In the minds of NSA officials, that’s their job — to protect national security, including when Congress takes actions that jeopardize national security.

It’s no different with the CIA. It’s going to do whatever is necessary to protect national security, even if that means breaking the law.

In the minds of NSA officials and CIA officials, national security is everything. Their attitude is: What good are the laws if the nation goes down? Their adage is: The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Let’s assume that the NSA and the CIA violate duly enacted laws that reform these two agencies. What will happen to the officials who knowingly break the laws?


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Defeat of USA FREEDOM Act is a Victory for Freedom

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It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.
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ISIS: Fighting the Modern Wahabis

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Sir John Baggot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, was one of the modern Mideast’s most colorful and romantic figures. He and ‘Chinese’ Gordon of Khartoum were the last of the great British imperial officers.

Seconded by Britain to its protectorate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Glubb built up its small Bedouin army, the Arab Legion, into the Arab world’s finest military force.

Glubb’s Arab Legion would likely have defeated Israel’s forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had Britain and Jordan’s double-dealing king Abdullah not blocked the Legion’s advance, as Glubb Pasha bitterly recalled in his memoires.

When asked which of his many medals and honors he valued most, Glubb surprisingly replied , “Defender of the Shepherds of Iraq, ” This obscure award was conferred upon Glubb by the King of Iraq when Sir John commanded the Iraq Border Constabulary during the 1930’s.
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Lew Rockwell: Europe Bowing to US Hegemon on Russia Sanctions

Mises Institute Chairman and Ron Paul Institute Board Member Lew Rockwell speaks out against US-instigated sanctions on Russia in a recent RT interview. With reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be easing toward the notion of dialogue with the Russian leadership, Rockwell warns that unless Europe wakes up and stops taking orders from the US, its foolish policy toward Russia may well lead the EU into a serious recession.
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