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Ron Paul: 'I Am Not Pro-Putin, I Am Not Pro-Russia, I Am Pro-Facts'

Ron Paul was a keynote speaker at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend, where he enjoyed his usual enthusiastic reception among America's youth, but found himself grilled by several east European visitors about his position on the civil war in Ukraine. "Why are you pro-Putin," asked the foreign participants in the conference, who seek a more robust US military "solution" against the secession movement in east Ukraine. Dr. Paul replied with his usual, consistent position on these foreign conflicts: "I Am Not Pro-Putin, I Am Not Pro-Russia, I Am Pro-Facts," he said. "The Ukraine coup was planned by NATO and EU... The best thing we can do for Ukraine is get the foreigners out," he explained.
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The Real Problem of 'Getting to Yes' With Iran

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Talking to reporters Monday, President Obama asked rhetorically, “[D]oes Iran have the political will and desire to get a deal done?” Iran “should be able to get to yes,” Obama said. “But we don’t know if that is going to happen. They have their hard-liners, they have their politics….”

The idea that Iranian agreement to US negotiating demands is being held back by “politics” is a familiar theme in US public pronouncements on these negotiations. The only reason Iran has not accepted the deal offered by the United States, according to the standard official view, is that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is a hardliner who is constraining the more reasonable Iranian negotiating team from making the necessary compromises.

But that is a self-serving understanding of the problem, and it reflects a much more profoundly distorted view of US - Iran relations on the nuclear issue. The premise of Obama’s remark was that US demands are purely rational and technical in nature, when nothing could be further from the truth. The US proposal on enrichment capacity is justified by the concept of “breakout”, which experts acknowledge is based on a completely implausible scenario. But Iran has now had a “breakout” capability – meaning the capability to enrich enough uranium at weapons grade level for a single bomb - for six years. So the US insistence on reducing its capability so that the breakout timeline is a few months longer clearly has nothing to do with denying a nuclear weapons capability.
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What You Should Know About the New Defense Secretary

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When President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961 delivered his farewell address and warned about the Military-Industrial Complex, he surely was thinking of men like Ashton Carter, the new Secretary of Defense.

Carter appears to move easily between the higher echelons of the military and the business world.

From October 2011 to December 2013, he served as the Department of Defense’s Chief Operating Officer overseeing more than $600 billion per year. During the Bush administration, he was a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's International Security Advisory Board; co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Policy Advisory Group; a consultant to the Defense Science Board; a member of the National Missile Defense White Team, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control.

When not working in a military capacity and doling out of billions, he has worked in the private sector for many of the firms that have benefited handsomely from the billions spent by the Defense Department.
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What Will 'Minsk II' Agreement be Worth?

RPI Director Daniel McAdams is interviewed on RT as negotiations dragged on between leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany over a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine. McAdams pointed out that some kind of document would certainly come out of such a high level meeting, but was unsure what real value it would have for those fighting for independence in eastern Ukraine.
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The Seduction of Brian Williams: Embedded with the Military

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Brian Williams was seduced.

He is a liar of course, someone who did not tell the truth no matter the reason or excuse, a bad trait for a journalist. Williams lied about being RPG’ed in a helicopter over Iraq; he did not see any variant of what you can see in this photo. And that’s not a hard thing to “misremember.”

But if there is any reason to forgive Williams, it was that he was seduced by both his own conflation of his sad little life as a talking head and the “brave troops,” and, more clearly, by the process of embedding with the military. I know. I saw it.

Journalists into Liars

What is it about the military that turns many normally thoughtful journalists into liars? A reporter who would otherwise make it through the day sober spends a little time with some unit of the US military and promptly loses himself in ever more dramatic language about bravery and sacrifice, stolen in equal parts from Thucydides, Henry V, and Sergeant Rock comics.

I’m neither a soldier nor a journalist. I was a diplomat who spent 12 months as a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) leader, embedded with the military in Iraq, and let me tell you that nobody laughed harder at the turgid prose reporters used to describe their lives than the soldiers themselves. They knew they were trading hours of boredom for maybe minutes of craziness that only in retrospect seemed “exciting,” as opposed to scary, confusing, and chaotic. That said, the laziest private knew from growing up watching TV exactly what flavor to feed a visiting reporter.
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Yemen Today: Another 'Fall of Saigon' Moment for US

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The US government was forced to flee yet another US facility overseas today, as the last of the US personnel at its embassy in Yemen were whisked out of country and the building was abandoned.

With the announcement last week that the rebel Houthi movement would form a government in Yemen, the country's second coup in just four years was finalized. Then-President Hadi had been put into place with US blessing after an “Arab Spring” coup deposed previously pro-US dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. But last month it was Hadi’s turn to be overthrown. He had been a loyal partner and supporter of the US drone program in his country, which had racked up untold numbers of “collateral damage” kills in addition to killing members of al-Qaeda’s Yemen franchise.

In September, President Obama heralded the US drone program in Yemen as the “model” for future US counter-terrorism operations.
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Obama's Force Authorization is a Blank Check for War Worldwide

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The president is requesting Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) resolution against ISIS. Congress has not issued a similar resolution since 2002, when President Bush was given the authority to wage war against Iraq. The purpose of this resolution is to give official authority to the president to do the things that he has already been doing for the past six years. Seems strange but this is typical for Washington. President Obama’s claim is that he does not need this authority. He claims, as have all other recent presidents, that the authority to wage war in the Middle East has been granted by the resolutions passed in 2001, 2002, and by article II of the Constitution. To ask for this authority at this time is a response to public and political pressure.

It has been reported that the president is going to request that the authority limit the use of ground troops. However it would not affect the troops already engaged in Syria and Iraq to the tune of many thousands. This new authority will acknowledge that more advisors will be sent. Most importantly it will appear to have given moral sanction to the wars that have already been going for years.
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Brian Williams Helped Pave the Way to War

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The scandal of the week is NBC anchor Brian Williams’s shabby bid for self-glorification by falsely claiming he was in a US military helicopter forced to land in the Iraqi desert after being hit by ground fire in 2003. Of course so-called news people shouldn’t make up stuff to look good, but there’s something much worse: uncritically passing along official lies intended to prepare the American people for war.

Williams, like nearly all of his mainstream media colleagues (with precious few exceptions) did this incessantly in the run-up to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. As conduits for the Bush administration’s baseless claims about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to 9/11, Williams and the others did Bush’s bidding in manufacturing public support for the illegal and morally outrageous invasion and occupation that would wreck Iraq even more than it had been wrecked in the 1990s through the military and economic warfare waged by George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

What did these fake-news presenters learn from that disgraceful episode? Not a thing. If you want proof, tune in to the three major networks’ newscasts or consult the American cable news channels: CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. There you’ll find stage actors conveying the Obama administration’s neoconservative line about the ISIS threat to the American people and the need for government military action to counteract it — never noting that there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in Iraq before the Bush war they helped make possible. Reporting “news” without providing the context is a surefire way to mislead viewers. Why don’t they know that? Or do they know it and prefer to mislead their viewers out of a sense of patriotism and in a quest for ratings?
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Sami Al-Arian and the Defining Moral and Political Challenge of Our Time

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Earlier this week, the US government deported our friend and colleague, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, from the United States. Turkey has granted him sanctuary.

Since we first met Dr. Al-Arian a few years ago, he and his family have set standards for faithfulness, moral steadfastness, and commitment to truth to which we can only aspire. More broadly, the US government’s treatment of Dr. al Arian underscores an urgent reality: how the West treats Muslims—in the Middle East, where they are the overwhelming majority, and in diaspora communities in the West itself—is the defining moral and political challenge of our time. The US government’s actions against Sami Al-Arian and his family should remind all of us how badly the United States is failing that challenge.

Sami Al-Arian was targeted by the US government because, during the 1990s, he emerged as one of the most prominent and effective advocates for Palestinian rights that US officials had ever faced. To offer some insight into his case and what it means, we highlight here two pieces. One, by Glenn Greenwald and his colleague at The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain, see here, assesses the US government’s case against Dr. Al-Arian as a glaring example of post-9/11 “America’s eroding democratic values.” This article explains how, as “part of a broader post-9/11 campaign by the US government to criminalize aid and support to Palestinians,” Dr. Al-Arian was “indicated on multiple counts of providing ‘material support’ to [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and fundraising on their behalf in the United States.”
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Kiev’s Bloody War Is Backfiring

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When Ukrainian army officers came to the Ukrainian village of Velikaya Znamenka to tell the men to prepare to be drafted, they weren’t prepared for what happened next. As the commanding officer was speaking, a woman seized the microphone and proceeded to tell him off: "We’re sick of this war! Our husbands and sons aren’t going anywhere!" She then launched into a passionate speech, denouncing the war, and the coup leaders in Kiev, to the cheers of the crowd.

What she did is now a crime in Ukraine: the only reason she wasn’t arrested on the spot is that the villagers wouldn’t have permitted it. But in Ukrainian Transcarpathia, well-known journalist for Ukrainian Channel 112 Ruslan Kotsaba has been arrested and charged with "treason" and "espionage" for making a video in which he declared: "I would rather sit in jail for three to five years than go to the east to kill my Ukrainian brothers. This fear-mongering must be stopped." Kotsaba may sit in jail for twenty-three years, the prescribed term for the charges filed against him.

Kotsaba’s arrest is part of a desperate effort by the Ukrainian government to intimidate the growing antiwar and anti-draft movement, which threatens to upend Kiev’s dreams of conquering the rebellious eastern provinces. Kotsaba’s particular crime, according to prosecutors, was in describing the conflict as a civil war rather than a Russian "invasion." This is a point the authorities cannot tolerate: the same meme being relentlessly broadcast by the Western media – that an indigenous rebellion with substantial support is really a Russian plot to "subvert" Ukraine and reestablish the Warsaw Pact – now has the force of law in Ukraine. Anyone who contradicts it is subject to arrest.
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