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The Unbearable Hypocrisy of US Sanctions on Iran

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On November 22nd of last year, the US government announced it would impose sanctions on Iran's information minister for his alleged role in limiting domestic Internet access while protests raged in that country over increases in gas prices. 

At the time, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin condemned the Iranian government for censuring information that Iranian citizens could view online, stating that, "Iran’s leaders know that a free and open internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor internet access to quell anti-regime protests."

The Iranians were evil, said the US government official in charge of economic sanctions, because it restricted what its citizens could read in the international press.

Our government would never do that...right?

Wrong. Yesterday, the US government knocked Iran's state news agency, FARS, off of the Internet entirely, citing US sanctions against the country.
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'No One Has Suggested My Son Did Anything Wrong': Joe Biden Doubles Down On Denial

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We have previously discussed the denials of former Vice President Joe Biden that his son did anything wrong in Ukraine. As I have written, not only did Hunter Biden clearly enter into a corrupt (but arguably lawful) contract but Joe Biden did not do enough to confirm that his son was not engaging in influence peddling. Nevertheless, this week, Joe Biden continued this indefensible position and declared bizarrely that “no one has suggested my son did anything wrong.”

According to the Washington Post, Joe Biden declared on the campaign trail that “There’s nobody that’s indicated there’s a single solitary thing that he did that was inappropriate, wrong … or anything other than the appearance. It looked bad that he was there.” He then curiously added “He acknowledges that he in fact made a mistake going on the board.” So, in other words, he did nothing wrong but he apologized for it.

Joe Biden continues to maintain that “no one” has accused his son of wrongdoing when there is a chorus of such allegations. He seems to be drawing a distinction between what is criminal and what is not — as if the criminal code is the only measure of wrongdoing or unethical conduct.

Hunter Biden not only clearly engaged in influence peddling but he is clearly a relevant witness.
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Our American Ancestors Didn’t Trust the Federal Government

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The US Constitution brought into existence a federal government whose powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution itself. If a power wasn’t enumerated, it simply could not be exercised.

That’s because our American ancestors didn’t trust governmental power. They clearly understood, based on both historical knowledge and life experience, that the greatest threat to their freedom and well-being lay with their very own federal government.

That’s why there was such a deep antipathy toward a type of government that had an enormous and permanent military-intelligence establishment. Our American ancestors knew that a government of that nature would wield the power to destroy their liberty and well-being.

Even though the American people ended up accepting the Constitution and its concept of limited power, there were still very leery of the new federal government. For more than 10 years before they accepted the Constitution, they had operated under a type of governmental system called the Articles of Confederation, under which the powers of the federal government were so weak that it wasn’t even given the power to tax.
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US Torture Policy: Part Of 'American Exceptionalism'?

One of the architects of the CIA's post-9/11 torture program was in court this week to testify in the pre-trial proceedings of several Guantanamo detainees. His justification for designing and practicing some of the most inhuman practices on earth should give pause to Americans with a conscience. Do we really reject torture? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Trade Sanctions Are Both Immoral and Ineffective

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On January 10, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin announced new economic sanctions imposed on Iran in response to its missile strikes against US forces in Iraq. The sanctions target enterprises operating in the manufacturing, textile, construction, and mining sectors. President Trump said that “These punishing sanctions will remain until the Iranian regime changes its behavior.”

The Iranian strikes were in retaliation to the US drone attack that killed Qasseim Soleimani, the powerful Iranian general and leader of the Quds Force. Thankfully, President Trump has chosen not to respond with any military action so as to avoid a full-blown war.

Nevertheless, new sanctions on Iran probably won’t change much. A long history of failed sanctions, which weren’t able to change the opposing regimes, can attest to that.

The Unintended Economic Consequences of Trade Sanctions

Almost ten years ago, Jonathan Catalán wrote an article on this same issue for the Mises Wire. Things haven’t changed since then. Governments continue to enforce trade restrictions on rival nations. Catalán explained that...
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How The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

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Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn't won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” -- interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction -- revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing.
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Truth Comes Out: New Evidence Syria Gas Attack Report Falsified

Former OPCW inspector Ian Henderson testified to the UN Security Council this week that his team's report on the April 2018 alleged gas attack in Douma, Syria, had been falsified at the orders of senior management and perhaps under pressure from the US government. The US mainstream media is silent. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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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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