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Has The Tide Turned Against the Warmongers?

Will the history books record these past couple of weeks as the point when the tide finally turned against our interventionist foreign policy?

We began September with the Obama Administration on the verge of launching Tomahawk missiles at Syria. The missiles were needed, the administration claimed, to punish the Syrian government for using poison gas on its own people. There were reports that in addition to missiles, the administration was planning airstrikes and possibly even more military action against Syria. The talks of a punishing "shot across the bow" to send a message to the Syrian government also escalated, as some discussed the need to degrade the Syrian military to help change the regime. They refused to rule out a US ground invasion of Syria.
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Marching Into Uncertain Future Requires Leadership

Littoral

President Barack Obama’s plea to bomb Syria fell on deaf ears. In 1975, it was “No more Vietnams.” Today, it’s “No more Iraqs.”

The American public attitude is reinforced by the absence of an existential military threat to the United States and the demand for jobs and economic growth instead of military spending. Moreover, for the first time in decades, the public pressure on American political and military leaders to formulate strategic aims worth fighting and dying for before American blood and treasure are sacrificed is enormous and growing.

Regrettably, the growing demand for a new and less belligerent foreign policy has not been matched by coherent strategic guidance from the president and the secretary of defense to the military. As a result, the U.S. armed forces are adrift, floating on a sea of strategic uncertainty.
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The People Against the 800 Pound Gorilla

Middle East Map

The past ten days have seen what could be the start of an historic turning point away from endless war in the Middle East. Public opinion in the United States, in harmony with the majority of people in the world, has clearly rejected U.S. military intervention in Syria.

But for this turn away from war to be complete and lasting, greater awareness is needed of the forces that have been pushing the United States into these wars, and will surely continue to do so until they are clearly and openly rejected.

An American friend who knows Washington well recently told us that “everybody” there knows that, as far as the drive to war with Syria is concerned, it is Israel that directs U.S. policy. Why then, we replied, don’t opponents of war say it out loud, since, if the American public knew that, support for the war would collapse? Of course, we knew the answer to that question. They are afraid to say all they know, because if you blame the pro-Israel lobby, you are branded an anti-Semite in the media and your career is destroyed.


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American Exceptionalism: Putin, the Neocons, and Ron Paul

When Russian President Vladimir Putin took his American counterpart to task in a recent New York Times Editorial over Obama's invocation of the standard neoconservative boilerplate "American exceptionalism" to justify an aggressive US foreign policy, US neocons shrieked in unison. How dare he, they cried.

But to the neoconservatives, American exceptionalism has nothing to do with civil liberties, personal freedom, limited government, free markets, and the like. It is only the exeptionalism of the US sword, going abroad to seek monsters to destroy. It is only the exeptionalism of military might to force the world to follow US dictates.

Putin pushed back against this kind of false and ahistoric American exceptionalism and, likely because his argument made so much sense to the average American who is sick of war and aggression overseas, the neoconservatives suffered fits of convulsions and intestinal distress. Neoconserative Senator Robert Menendez, who has long dreamed of another Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, felt like he "wanted to vomit" after reading Putin's words. House Speaker John Boehner felt "insulted" by Putin. John McCain felt his intelligece insulted by Putin's comments.
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Holding Assad Accountable

Assad Portrait Actual Banner

President Obama has encountered a series of roadblocks after deciding to use military force against Bashar Assad’s Syria for its use of chemical weapons against civilians.  Many of those obstacles resulted from statements made by the President and prominent administration officials; a principal one was the failure to talk candidly and plainly to Congress and the American public about the likely scope of planned military attacks.

Repeatedly, Obama and other officials called the military actions as limited, tailored, surgical, and proportional, and they downplayed the level of violence.

The adjectives were unpersuasive because the administration contemplated sending in dozens of cruise missiles into Damascus, followed perhaps by aircraft bombings.  Many lawmakers and their constituents found the administration’s over-optimistic and unrealistic word play to be deliberate efforts to mislead and deceive.


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Putin Steps Into World Leadership Role

Obama Putin G8b

Putin’s article in the September 11 New York Times has the stuck pigs squealing. The squealing stuck pigs are just who you thought they would be--all those whose agendas and profits would be furthered by an attack on Syria by the Obama Stasi regime.

Included among the squealing stuck pigs are Human Rights Watch bloggers who seem to be financed out of the CIA’s back pocket.
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Hillary Mann Leverett: 'Obama Made Two Unforced Errors, in Libya and Syria'

Listen to Ron Paul Institute Academic Advisor Hillary Mann Leverett on the always-terrific Robert Wenzel Show discuss the intricacies of the Middle East. Ms. Mann Leverett is a rare breed of international affairs expert: she knows the region like nobody else, her expertise both inside and outside government is unquestionable; yet she retains a realistic rather than messianic view of what should be the US role in the world. How lucky her American University students are to have such a professor! And we greatly value her friendship as well.
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What's the Evidence Behind the Case for War?

Tomahawk

If the arguments being presented by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for attacking Syria seem increasingly shrill and disjointed that might well be because a legitimate case cannot be made for going to war. The central argument—i.e., that punishing al-Assad will “change his calculus” and dissuade him from using chemical weapons against rebel forces embedded within the civilian population—relies on demonstrating that al-Assad has already done just that, a case that has not been credibly made thus far. Nor would a “shot across the bow” strike be likely to influence the thinking of a regime that theoretically might find itself with its back against the wall, willing to use all resources at hand to defeat a ruthless enemy. Still less does the argument that Washington must act lest the chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists and be used against American and other Western targets convince. Such a scenario is much more likely if the rebels, who undeniably include many extremists, are empowered through military action to such an extent that they might eventually triumph. If Washington wishes to prevent possible weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists, it should be doing everything it can to support the Syrian government. Any scenario that involves attacking the very soldiers who are presumably guarding the chemical weapons is a recipe for disaster.

As has often been the case in other situations over the past 12 years, Washington has maneuvered itself into a new crisis because it is failing to see the Syrian situation in all its complexity, preferring simple solutions that do not involve any commitment or long-term strategic planning. One former intelligence colleague has called it “a very poorly defined problem” that will not be solved by lobbing a few Tomahawk cruise missiles towards Damascus. That is the issue precisely—failing to understand what the problem is frustrates any attempt to devise a reasonable solution.


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