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The Disaster That is US Foreign Policy

US Soldier Afghanistan

We live in angry times. For evidence, turn on any news program. An awful lot of people, led by right-wing politicians and radio and TV entertainers, are angry at Barack Obama for trading five Taliban officials, who have been held for years without charge in the Guantánamo prison, for an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from his outpost after having a change of heart about the Afghan war. The Right is apoplectic.

To make matters worse for the right wing, Obama had the nerve to embrace — on the grounds of the White House no less — the soldier’s parents, who themselves are under suspicion by the Right. Bergdahl’s father, after all, wears an ominously bushy beard (is the Calvinist really a Muslim?) and spoke to his son in Pashto, the language of the son’s captors. Worse yet, he was so desperate to rescue his son that he tweeted to a Taliban spokesman, “I am still working to free all Guantánamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.” (The tweet was later deleted.)

Before his disappearance, then-PFC Bergdahl emailed disparaging remarks about the U.S. military and America itself after he saw a U.S. military truck run over an Afghan child.

These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.… We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them.… I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america [sic] is disgusting.

In response to this email, his father wrote, “In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones’ [sic] conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible.”


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America’s Shale Revolution and the Dangerous Myth of Energy Independence

Fracking


American elites have talked about “energy independence” for forty years—since the United States became a net oil importer in the early 1970s, around the time of the first major oil crisis.  While they have rarely been precise or analytically rigorous in using the term, it seems to mean, in its most ambitious formulation, that the United States would never again have to import hydrocarbon molecules, in liquid or gaseous form.  In a more restrained (but still pretty ambitious) version, U.S. demand for oil and gas imports would drop to levels satisfiable with supplies from “friendly” neighbors, rather than countries geopolitically at odds with Washington.

But, in either form, the notion of energy independence is a myth, and a dangerous one.  It is a myth because it ignores the realities of today’s international oil and gas markets; it is dangerous because it conditions ill-advised foreign policy choices.
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US Turns Blind Eye to Lugansk Massacre

On June 2, a missile screamed through downtown Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine, leaving a trail of craters in a city park before slamming into a regional administration building. At least eight people were killed in the blast, as it struck in a busy pedestrian area. Blood and body parts were strewn throughout the blast zone.

Eyewitnesses said the missile was fired from one of the military jet fighters that had been circling the area. Security camera footage from nearby seemed to confirm this. The jets had been sent in from Kiev to put down an autonomy movement in eastern Ukraine that followed a US-backed coup in Kiev in February.


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Obama: Stop The Sanctimonious Kidstuff; Let Europe Fund Its Own Security

Pm500

The EU has a GDP of $17 trillion—-a figure approximately 9X that of Russia. If there is any one over there who actually believes that Putin is about to mobilize his troops on a reverse of Hitler’s march through the Ukraine and back into central Europe, let them make their case and take up a collection from the purportedly threatened states.

Quite obviously no one is making that case in Berlin, Brussels or any other significant European capital—for the simple reason that such a scenario is purely a figment of the Washington War Party’s imagination. So what we actually have is an American president on a photo op tour of Europe being importuned by local dignitaries for more Washington largesse. And the result will be more kidstuff maneuvers that are laughable in there own terms, but still another irritant in America’s utterly unnecessary confrontation with Russia.

In that regard, we have already witnessed the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, making this hideous remark as he stood with Obama alongside F-16s employed in joint training exercises between the two nations:
Mr. Komorowski said the U.S. and Poland are a “brotherhood in arms.”
Well, not at all. We are actually two nations at peace, and Poland is a fortunate nation that has been born again solely because of the sacrifices American taxpayers made for 50 years to first defeat its German occupiers and then to outlast its Soviet overlords.
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Ron Paul Rewind: Legalize Medical Marijuana and Hemp

The US House of Representatives voted Friday to require the US government to respect states’ laws legalizing medical marijuana and hemp. The move is an endorsement of the significant drug war rollbacks that RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul had promoted for years in the House and his presidential campaigns. 

In September of 2008, Paul spoke in Minneapolis, Minnesota to thousands of his presidential campaign supporters about the war on drugs, zeroing in on his advocacy for ending the US government’s war on medical marijuana and hemp...
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Just Shoot: The Mindset Responsible for Turning Search Warrants into Death Warrants, and SWAT Teams into Death Squads

SWAT Team

How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts, complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?

The latest incident comes out of Atlanta, Georgia, where a SWAT team, attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night, launched a flash bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded in the baby’s face, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. He is currently in the hospital in a medically induced coma.

If this were the first instance of police overkill, if it were even the fifth, there might be hope of reforming our system of law enforcement. But what happened to this baby, whose life will never be the same, has become par for the course in a society that glorifies violence, turns a blind eye to government wrongdoing, and sanctions any act by law enforcement, no matter how misguided or wrong. Indeed, as I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this state-sponsored violence is a necessary ingredient in any totalitarian regime to ensure a compliant, cowed and fearful populace.
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What Obama Told Us At West Point

Obama West Point Speech

At West Point Obama told us, to the applause of West Point cadets, that “American exceptionalism” is a doctrine that justifies whatever Washington does. If Washington violates domestic and international law by torturing “detainees” or violates the Nuremberg standard by invading countries that have undertaken no hostile action against the US or its allies, “exceptionalism” is the priest’s blessing that absolves Washington’s sins against law and international norms. Washington’s crimes are transformed into Washington’s affirmation of the rule of law. Here is Obama in his own words:

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Actions indeed. In the 21st century “American exceptionalism” has destroyed seven countries in whole or in part. Millions of people are dead, maimed, and displaced, and all of this criminal destruction is evidence of Washington’s reaffirmation of international norms and the rule of law. Destruction and murder are merely collateral damage from Washington’s affirmation of international norms.
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Mental Health Screening a Good Way to Decrease Liberty, Poor Way to Increase Security

Last week Americans were shocked and saddened by another mass killing, this one near a college campus in California. We all feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims. 

As usual, many people responded to this shooting by calling for new federal gun control laws, including the mental health screening of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. There are a number of problems with this proposal. Federally-mandated mental health screenings would require storing mental health records in a government database. This obviously raises concerns about patient privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality, as well as the threat of identity theft. Anyone who doubts that these are legitimate concerns should consider the enormous privacy problems with the Obamacare website; some have even suggested that healthcare.gov be renamed indentifytheft.gov.


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Trivial Pursuit: Obama Versus the Interventionists

Angry Obama

American politics is largely a series of debates over unimportant details. These debates are conducted far above the fundamental level because the supposed contenders share the same premises. Where they disagree is at the level of application, and so the disagreements end up being fairly minor, especially if you think the premises are wrong.

This is an especially pronounced feature of what passes for foreign-policy debate within the accepted range of opinion. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Barack Obama’s address to the West Point graduates the other day. In that address, as in other speeches on foreign policy, Obama tried to position himself in what he likes to portray as the reasonable center. On the one side is “isolationism”: “It is absolutely true that in the 21st century American isolationism is not an option. We don’t have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders.” On the other are those he calls “the interventionists from the left and right”:
U.S. military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader — and especially your Commander-in-Chief — to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.
Note how Obama stakes out his “moderate” position between isolationism and interventionism. To do this he has to misrepresent what he stigmatizes as “isolationism” and create a straw man in order to place himself in opposition to the interventionists.
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