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Echoes of Vietnam, or Between Iraq and a Hard Place

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Words seem to mean different things in the Middle East. “Training” is a new term for escalation, and “Iraq” seems more and more like the Arabic word for Vietnam.

But the terms “slippery slope” and “quagmire” still mean what they have always meant.

In 2011, making good on a campaign promise that helped land him in the White House, President Barack Obama closed out America’s eight-year war in Iraq. Disengaged, redeployed, packed up, departed.

Then America went back. In August 2014, Obama turned an emotional appeal to save the Yazidi people from Islamic State into a bombing campaign. A massive tap was turned and arms flowed into the region. The number of American soldiers in Iraq zoomed up to 3,100, quietly joined by some 6,300 civilian contractors. The reputed mission was training – or whipping the Iraqi Army into shape.
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One Person Dead, a Tragedy; A Million Dead, a Statistic

Recent police killings of unarmed individuals and the recent tragedy in South Carolina are horrific and they result in obsessive 24/7 media coverage. Isn't it strange that the thousands killed and maimed as a result of our aggressive foreign policy worldwide do not get nearly the same level of scrutiny? Is Stalin correct that mass killing is easier to ignore than a handful of individual cases? Or was Secretary of State Madeline Albright correct when she said that 500,000 dead Iraqis from US sanctions was "worth it" -- in other words just collateral damage or a mere statistic in the move to be rid of Saddam? Today's Ron Paul Liberty Report takes a look at these awkward questions...
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Will Seizure of Russian Assets Hasten Dollar Decline?

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While much of the world focused last week on whether or not the Federal Reserve was going to raise interest rates, or whether the Greek debt crisis would bring Europe to a crisis, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded a $50 billion judgment to shareholders of the former oil company Yukos in their case against the Russian government. The governments of Belgium and France moved immediately to freeze Russian state assets in their countries, naturally provoking the anger of the Russian government.

The timing of these actions is quite curious, coming as the Greek crisis in the EU seems to be reaching a tipping point and Greece, having perhaps abandoned the possibility of rapprochement with Europe, has been making overtures to Russia to help bail it out of its mess. And with the IMF's recent statement pledging its full and unconditional support to Ukraine, it has become even more clear that the IMF and other major multilateral institutions are not blindly technical organizations, but rather are totally subservient lackeys to the foreign policy agenda emanating from Washington. Toe the DC party line and the internationalists will bail you out regardless of how badly you mess up, but if you even think about talking to Russia you will face serious consequences.
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If Greece Defaults, Will the Fed Bailout Europe?

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The Greek crisis is dominating headlines this week, and promises to be the most important economic and financial topic of conversation through the weekend and into Monday. Neither the Greek government nor the European Central Bank (ECB) seem to be prepared to give an inch, and there’s every indication that things could come to head next week. If Greece does default, and if there is a resulting crisis in European markets, will the Federal Reserve get involved? To quote Sarah Palin, “You betcha!” How would the Fed do this? Read on to find out.

Although the euro is the dominant currency in Europe, a lot of debt in Europe is still denominated in dollars. The dollar being the world’s reserve currency and dollar markets being incredibly liquid, it just makes sense for a lot of companies to do business in dollars. But when a crisis hits and those businesses need dollars, they have to get a hold of dollars somehow. Banks in Europe have a limited supply, and once those dollars are gone, there is no dollar-printing central bank in Europe that can step in. Enter the Federal Reserve.
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Why The US Military Opposed New Combat Roles in Iraq

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The story published in the Washington Post on 13 June shows how the US military service chiefs - who make decisions on war policy in light of their own institutional interests - prefer an inconclusive war with IS and existing constraints on US involvement, to one with even the most US limited combat role.

The resistance of top US military officials to deepening US military involvement in the war against IS came in the wake of a major policy debate within the Obama administration following the collapse of Iraqi military resistance in Ramadi.

In that debate, senior State Department officials reportedly supported the option of putting US advisers into Iraqi combat units to direct airstrikes on IS positions and sending US Apache attack helicopters into urban combat situations. But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, joined top military commanders in opposing that option, the Post story recounted. Dempsey was said to have concluded that the potential gains from such an escalation were not worth the costs in terms of possible US combat losses.
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National Endowment for Democracy? Hardly!

After covert CIA backing of Radio Free Europe and other organizations was exposed in the 1970s, a group of neoconservatives decided to create a new kind of CIA to do in the open that which had been done in secret: the National Endowment for Democracy. More than 30 years later, even though the Cold War is a distant memory, the NED is still a $100 million per year, taxpayer-funded worldwide "regime change" operation. Yesterday's death of one of the masterminds of the NED should perhaps prompt Americans to again wonder why they are being forced to finance such dangerous and counterproductive government-funded bureaucracies.
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Road Pirates: Assemble! 'Desert Snow' is Coming to Idaho

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It isn’t often that honest people receive detailed intelligence about a planned gathering of violent men who steal for a living and kill with impunity. An event of that kind will occur from August 10-12th here in Idaho. In fact, I can provide the specific address of the armed robbers’ summit — 700 South Stratford Drive in Meridian. The location is conspicuously marked and easy to find: 
It is the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Academy, which will host a two-day session of Desert Snow’s “Phase 2015” asset forfeiture workshop.

“Civil asset forfeiture,” for the mercifully uninitiated, is a procedure in which police officers and the agencies that employ them steal money and property from people who have never been convicted of a crime, and quite often never face criminal charges. The agency designates the desired property as “proceeds” of illicit activity and then files an “in rem” civil lawsuit against it – not the owner of the property, but the property itself. In this process, the burden of proof is placed on the victim, rather than the perpetrator.

Fighting an act of state-licensed larceny of this kind is prohibitively expensive and frequently futile, which means that the privileged plunderers generally make out like the bandits they unfailingly prove themselves to be.
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House Refuses to Curb Obama's Middle East War

Yesterday the House voted down H. Con. Res. 55, which would have forced President Obama to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Syria by year's end without Congressional authorization. Congressional leaders clearly have no interest in asserting their Constitutional prerogatives. Meanwhile on the same day, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was telling the House Armed Services Committee that plans to train fighters in Iraq and Syria are failing because no one is signing up. Is this not an argument for an end to US involvement in the region?
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Policing and Defending Then and Now

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Inevitably the debate over issues that relate to both national security and domestic law enforcement often become mired down in wrangling over legal or constitutional niceties, which the public has difficulty in following as it fixates instead on the latest twist in the Bruce Jenner saga. That means that the punditry and media concentrate on easily digestible issues like potential bureaucratic fixes, budgeting, equipment and training, which presumably are both simpler to understand and also more susceptible to possible remedies. But they ignore some basic questions regarding the nature and viability of the actual threat and the actual effectiveness of the response even as the dividing line between military and law enforcement functions becomes less and less evident.

There has been a fundamental transformation of the roles of both police and the armed services in the United States, a redirection that has become increasingly evident since the 1990s when the conjoined issues of national security and crime rates became political footballs. Response to terrorism and “tough on crime” attitudes frequently employ the same rhetoric, incorporating both political and social elements that place police forces and the military on the same side in what might plausibly be described as a version of the often cited clash of civilizations.

A nation’s army traditionally exists to use maximum force to find and destroy enemies that threaten the homeland. A police force instead serves to protect the community against criminal elements using the minimum force necessary to do the job. Those roles would appear to be distinct but one might reasonably argue that the armed forces and the police in today’s America have become the two major constituents of the same organism more-or-less connected by a revolving door, dedicated to combating a new type of insurgency that comprises both global and domestic battlefields and is no respecter of borders.
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Samantha Power: Liberal War Hawk

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Propaganda and genocide almost always go hand in hand, with the would-be aggressor stirring up resentment often by assuming the pose of a victim simply acting in self-defense and then righteously inflicting violence on the targeted group.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power understands this dynamic having written about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where talk radio played a key role in getting Hutus to kill Tutsis. Yet, Power is now leading propaganda campaigns laying the groundwork for two potential ethnic slaughters: against the Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other minorities in Syria and against the ethnic Russians of eastern Ukraine.

Though Power is a big promoter of the “responsibility to protect” – or “R2P” – she operates with glaring selectivity in deciding who deserves protection as she advances a neocon/liberal interventionist agenda. She is turning “human rights” into an excuse not to resolve conflicts but rather to make them bloodier.
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