http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:23:54 GMT Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:23:54 GMT Five Weird Conspiracy Theories from CIA Director Mike Pompeo Adam Garrie http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/22/five-weird-conspiracy-theories-from-cia-director-mike-pompeo/

In a tirade against Russia based news outlets RT and Sputnik, Donald Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted Russia for interfering not only in the 2016 US Presidential election but “the one before that and the one before that”. This would imply that Russia helped install Barack Obama in the White House even after his severely anti-Russian foreign policy became well known.

These statements are blasted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the following way:
If (Pompeo’s) statements mean that we interfered in the elections in 2008 and 2012 that means that President Obama owes us his victories. I’ll refrain from comment. In my opinion, this crosses the lines of what is reasonable.
Pompeo’s assertion came after a tirade in which he said that Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov helped develop a ‘propaganda’ strategy which underlies RT and Sputnik’s alleged purpose. Pompeo further asserted that Gerasimov did this in the early 1970s. According to Pompeo:
His (Gerasimov’s) idea was that you can win wars without firing a single shot, with firing a very few shots in ways that are decidedly not militaristic. And that’s what happened

What changes is the cost to effectuate change through cyber and through RT and Sputnik, the news outlets and through other soft means has just really been lowered. It used to be expensive to run an ad on a television station. Now you simply go online and propagate your message, so they have found an effective tool, an easy way to go reach into our systems and into our culture to achieve the outcome they are looking for.
The ludicrousness of this claim can be easily debunked when one learns that General Gerasimov was born in 1955. If one can conservatively say that 1973 was the ‘early 1970s’, this means that Gerasimov developed a communications strategy that relied on the internet being up to 2017 standards when he was 18 years of age. There is simply no logic in Pompeo’s assertions.

This is the same Mike Pompeo who has told some rather strange tall-tales about Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange while simultaneously calming that RT is part of Wikileaks.

In April of 2017, Pompeo stated:
It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.
He then stated:
No, I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history.
So to recap, the following are Mike Pompeo’s most ludicrous conspiracy theories:

1. Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff invented the concept of RT and Sputnik, one which relies on the power of the internet in 2017, in the early 1970s when he was in his late teens and still in the equivalent of high school.

2. Russia interfered in the US elections in 2008, 2012 and 2016, meaning that Russia supported Barack Obama who was the most anti-Russian US President in modern memory, but no one noticed this Russian interference at the time.

3. RT collaborates with Wikileaks which is a hostile intelligence agency rather than an on-line publisher.

4. Julian Assange, a self-styled free speech advocate and anti-war activist would have supported Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.

5. RT and Sputnik are supported by Russia because they are cheaper than going to war. This is ostensibly a bad thing in Pompeo’s view. 

Mike Pompeo seems like less of an intelligence chief than a simplistic conspiracy theories.

Reprinted with permission from The Duran.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/22/five-weird-conspiracy-theories-from-cia-director-mike-pompeo/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/22/five-weird-conspiracy-theories-from-cia-director-mike-pompeo/ Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:23:54 GMT
Syria Gas Attack and Russian Election Hacking...Debunking Fake News With Scott Ritter Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/syria-gas-attack-and-russian-election-hackingdebunking-fake-news-with-scott-ritter/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/syria-gas-attack-and-russian-election-hackingdebunking-fake-news-with-scott-ritter/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/syria-gas-attack-and-russian-election-hackingdebunking-fake-news-with-scott-ritter/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:03:29 GMT
Trump Ends Syrian Regime Change Campaign Justin Raimondo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/trump-ends-syrian-regime-change-campaign/

The headline in the Washington Post said it all: “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow.” The madness that has infected what passes for journalism today could not be more starkly dramatized: everything is seen through the distorting lens of Russophobia. It doesn’t matter that that the program had failed to achieve its ostensible goal, and that the US-vetted rebels had for the most part defected to al-Qaedaal-Nusra, and ISIS. Atrocities committed by the “moderate” rebels go unmentioned. That real experts on the region like Joshua Landishailed the move as a step toward a peaceful settlement is ignored. The only thing that matters is that, as one unnamed “current official” cited in the article puts it, “Putin won in Syria.”

From this perspective, the Syrian people are merely pawns in a geopolitical game between Washington and Moscow. Elsewhere in the piece, the authors – Washington Post reporters Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous – bemoan the fact that the US has somehow “lost” Syria. Under the cover of citing anonymous former White House officials, they write:
Even those who were skeptical about the program’s long-term value, viewed it as a key bargaining chip that could be used to wring concessions from Moscow in negotiations over Syria’s future.

’People began thinking about ending the program, but it was not something you’d do for free,’ said a former White House official. ‘To give [the program] away without getting anything in return would be foolish.’
The Syrian people are mere “bargaining chips” as far as the movers and shakers of the American empire are concerned: they have no reality outside the cold calculations of power politics, the maneuvers of our know-it-all political class, who think they are qualified to run the world.

This is the same mentality that led us into the disastrous invasion of Iraq, and the equally tragic and bloody intervention in Libya, both of which resulted in chaos and the triumph of terrorism. In both cases we destroyed a secular authoritarian regime and paved the way for the growth of radical Islamist factions, enabling the spread of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and similar terrorist formations. And for what?

When the history of this era is written, the motivations of US policymakers under both President Obama and President George W. Bush will be called into question: why did they destroy the Middle East? Was it simply an error of judgment, or was something more sinister involved? Did they deliberately upend these societies, actively aiding Islamist barbarians, much as the late Roman emperors invited the Teutonic barbarians into the empire as mercenaries – who eventually turned on them and sacked Rome?

The rebel forces, both those “vetted” by the CIA and freelancers like al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, all have a program in common: the establishment of an Islamic state in the whole of Syria, which will be ruled according to the medieval strictures of Sharia law. Christians, Alawites, Kurds, and other minorities will be either subjugated, or driven out: genocide is a likely outcome of a rebel victory. Under these circumstances, any support to these elements is criminal – so why did we undertake this project to begin with?

The reason is simple: our Sunni Arab “allies,” Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, have enormous influence in US ruling circles, and they utilized it to forge a bipartisan pro-Islamist coalition consisting of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and the liberal imperialists over at the Center for a New American Century, and the John McCain-Lindsey Graham wing of the GOP. Obama reluctantly went along with what was an aid-to-terrorists program, while putting some limits on it and ultimately balking at full-scale US intervention in Syria when the public rose up against it.

The framing of this issue in terms of whether it helps Russia signals a strategic shift for the War Party: during the Bush years, the alleged enemy was al-Qaeda and associated terrorist groups, but under the Obama administration we saw the beginning of a new turn, away from fighting radical Islamism and toward a policy of accommodating and even allying with it, starting with the so-called Arab Spring. With the Obama foreign policy in the region largely farmed out to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this culminated in the Libyan intervention and the arming of Islamist groups in Syria. Simultaneously, Mrs. Clinton started denouncing Putin as the modern-day equivalent of Hitler, and the foreign policy mandarins in Washington began to characterize “Putinism,” rather than radical Islamism, as the principal enemy of the United States.

Sen. McCain, one of the loudest advocates of arming the Islamist rebels and overthrowing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, was quite explicit recently about this radical reorientation of the War Party’s strategic vision: Russia, he declared in a visit to Australia, is the "premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS.” Clinton supporter and leading neoconservative Max Boot, a former CIA analyst, said the same thing during his recent lambasting by Tucker Carlson: asked why Russia is supposed to be a threat, he answered because “they have nuclear weapons.” Well, so do many countries, including China, Pakistan, Israel, and France. Why single out Russia for special opprobrium?

I answered that question here, at least in part, and won’t reiterate what I wrote back then. Suffice to say that what the War Party requires is a credible enemy, one with some size, a history of conflict with the US, and preferably a nuclear capability. Russia qualifies on all three counts, and Putin in particular has aroused the ire of the political class by criticizing Washington’s pretensions of global hegemony. And of course there’s the sheer political opportunism of the Democrats: rather than admit that Mrs. Clinton lost fair and square, because she was a terrible candidate, they’re claiming Putin “stole” the election on Trump’s behalf. Add to this the influence – and wealth – of exiled Russian oligarchs, and the stage is set for an anti-Russian crusade, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1950s.

Despite the relentless propaganda campaign waged in the media, the Trump administration has – finally! – been able to keep at least one of the promises made during the campaign: that “regime change” was no longer going to be an American goal in Syria. And with the ceasefire in southern Syria, and probably more to come along those lines, it looks like we are cooperating with Russia in an effort to bring peace to the region – this despite the hate campaign being waged against both Trump and the Russians here at home.

Progress is slow, inconsistent, and subject to sudden setbacks – but it’s happening all the same. And that is good news indeed.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/trump-ends-syrian-regime-change-campaign/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/trump-ends-syrian-regime-change-campaign/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:10:22 GMT
US Urges All Nationals In North Korea To 'Depart Immediately,' Bans Tourists From Visiting Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/us-urges-all-nationals-in-north-korea-to-depart-immediately-bans-tourists-from-visiting/

Dennis Rodman will be disappointed to learn that the US is set to ban all citizens from traveling to North Korea, according to two agencies that operate tours there. Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later, the BBC reported. "After the 30-day grace period any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government." The ban comes one month after US student Otto Warmbier died following his imprisonment by the Kim regime.

China-based Young Pioneer Tours, which had taken Warmbier to North Korea, and Koryo Tours said the ban will come into force on July 27 - the anniversary of the end of the Korean War - with a 30-day grace period. Koryo Tours added that the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which handles consular affairs for the United States in the North, informed it of the ban, but did not say how long it would last. The U.S. embassy in the South Korean capital, Seoul, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would "give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work". Simon Cockerill, of Koryo Tours, said: "It remains to be seen what the exact text is, but the indication is it's just a straight up ban on Americans going." Mr Cockerill told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.

Additionally, Rowan Beard of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC the embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately. He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.

For now there has been no official confirmation from the US: the state department continues to have an alert dated 9 May strongly warning US citizens not to travel to North Korea.

As the BBC adds, there has been movement towards a ban for a while in the US, which increased with the Warmbier death.
In May, two congressmen introduced the North Korea Travel Control bill to cut off the foreign currency the country earns from American tourists. The House foreign affairs subcommittee is scheduled to take up the draft legislation on 27 July but it would still have to go to the Senate. So there could be an executive order. Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: 'We have been evaluating whether we should put some type of travel visa restriction to North Korea. We have not come to a final conclusion, but we are considering it.' Apart from the treatment of Americans in North Korea, tension has been increasing over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.
Some are suggesting the US is using the date the ban is set to be announced - 27 July - to cloud North Korea's Victory Day on the same day. It was not clear if the urge to clear out US citizens from North Korea is a precursor to more "aggressive" (or kinetic) action by the US government.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/us-urges-all-nationals-in-north-korea-to-depart-immediately-bans-tourists-from-visiting/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/21/us-urges-all-nationals-in-north-korea-to-depart-immediately-bans-tourists-from-visiting/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:50:46 GMT
RPI's Peace and Prosperity 2017 Conference: 'Where We're Going and How We'll Get There!' Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/rpis-peace-and-prosperity-2017-conference-where-were-going-and-how-well-get-there/

We are witnessing a fascinating phenomenon that may signal that the neoconservative movement is nearing its "sell-by" date. As Glenn Greenwald documents in a recent article, there is a mass migration of neoconservative leaders back to the Democratic Party they left in the early 1970s. Why did they leave in the first place? The McGovernite peaceniks were destroying their party and they saw much potential in a Republican Party that had swung back and forth from the non-interventionism of the Taft wing to the big government, national-security-state Republicanism of the Buckleyites and others. 

What does all of this mean for us? Opportunity.

The interest in Ron Paul's foreign policy of non-intervention in the affairs of others, a defense of this nation, and an end to the trillion dollar military empire overseas is growing daily. The readership at the Ron Paul Institute website is up and the viewership of our Ron Paul Liberty Report continues to rapidly increase.

Did you know the United States spends twelve times more per person on its military than China? And next year's military budget is getting a huge bump-up from Congress. Something is clearly wrong.

It's great to sit in front of our computers reading important articles and watching informative videos, but we also need to connect with other like-minded people. We need to hear from those who are out there in the front lines. Their insights are so valuable. A movement is built on human contact and connections.

And we also need to show the world that there is a great interest in a foreign policy of minding our own business. Nothing gets that message across like a packed conference in Washington, DC!

On September 9th at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott we will again make history, as the Ron Paul Institute holds its second major foreign policy conference. Last year's sold out event was also seen by millions on CSPAN and enjoyed by so many who came out to join us.

Last year's attendees urged us through the year to do it again and we have listened to them!

What's on the agenda this year? Well there is much we are still working on but I can let you know that Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell will be on the stage in September. It is always so amazing to have them both in a room and I can't wait to see them together again.

Dr. Paul will have much to say on his new book -- which takes a penetrating look at his Liberty Movement ten years on -- and much to say about where we need to focus for the future. Likewise we are so grateful to Lew Rockwell for again joining us and providing us with his words of wisdom.

I am super excited about a whistleblowers' roundtable that we are organizing for the event. The truth will set us free and it is whistleblowers who risk their lives and careers to bring us the truth! You are going to be surprised at who will join us for this. 

This year we want to focus particularly on two things: making connections and taking action. The reason we get together is of course to hear the brilliant insights of our speakers. But we also need to build our own networks and coordinate ways to take action to promote our Peace and Prosperity agenda. 

I really want to encourage you to get your tickets to this exciting conference early, as the venue has a limited capacity, we have reserved the entire ballroom, and we expect to sell out far in advance of the conference date! We would really hate to see you miss the event of the year for those of us who believe in peace and prosperity.

Did you already buy your tickets? Get an amazing rate at the hotel especially for conference-goers!

So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets and join hundreds of other friends of peace and liberty in Washington, DC, this September!
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/rpis-peace-and-prosperity-2017-conference-where-were-going-and-how-well-get-there/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/rpis-peace-and-prosperity-2017-conference-where-were-going-and-how-well-get-there/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:35:06 GMT
40,000 Civilian Dead In Mosul? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/40-000-civilian-dead-in-mosul/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/40-000-civilian-dead-in-mosul/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/20/40-000-civilian-dead-in-mosul/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:46:14 GMT
New Survey: Americans Afraid Of Major War. Whose Fault? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/new-survey-americans-afraid-of-major-war-whose-fault/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/new-survey-americans-afraid-of-major-war-whose-fault/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/new-survey-americans-afraid-of-major-war-whose-fault/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:35:26 GMT
Silencing War Criticism: The Iraq Invasion of 2003 Lt. Col. William J. Astore (Ret.) http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/silencing-war-criticism-the-iraq-invasion-of-2003/

Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003), was a hot media commodity as the Bush/Cheney administration was preparing for its invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Ventura, a US Navy veteran who gained notoriety as a professional wrestler before he entered politics, was both popular and outspoken.  MSNBC won the bidding war for his services in 2003, signing him to a lucrative three-year contract to create his own show – until, that is, the network learned he was against the Iraq war.  Ventura’s show quickly went away, even as the network paid him for three years to do nothing.

I heard this revealing story from a new podcast, the TARFU Report, hosted by Matt Taibbi and Alex Pareene.  By his own account, Jesse Ventura was bought off by the network, which back then was owned by General Electric, a major defense contractor that was due to make billions of dollars off the war.

Of course, Ventura was hardly the only war critic to run afoul of GE/NBC.  Phil Donahue, the famous talk show host, saw his highly rated show cancelled when he gave dissenters and anti-war voices a fair hearing.  Ashleigh Banfield, a reporter who covered the Iraq war, gave a speech in late April 2003 that criticized the antiseptic coverage of the war (extracts to follow below).  For her perceptiveness and her honesty, she was reassigned and marginalized, demoted and silenced.

So much for freedom of speech, as well as the press.

As Phil Donahue said, his show “wasn’t good for business.”  NBC didn’t want to lose ratings by being associated with “unpatriotic” elements when the other networks were waving the flag in support of the Iraq war.  In sidelining Ventura and Donahue, NBC acted to squelch any serious dissent from the push for war, and punished Ashleigh Banfield in the immediate aftermath of the war for her honesty in criticizing the coverage shown (and constructed) by the mainstream media, coverage that was facilitated by the US military and rubber-stamped by corporate ownership.

Speaking of Banfield’s critique, here are some excerpts from her speech on Iraq war coverage in April 2003.  Note that her critique remains telling for all US media war coverage since then:
That said, what didn’t you see [in US media coverage of the Iraq war]? You didn’t see where those bullets landed. You didn’t see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you’re getting the story, it just means you’re getting one more arm or leg of the story. And that’s what we got, and it was a glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news. But it wasn’t journalism, because I’m not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor, and we got rid of a horrible leader: We got rid of a dictator, we got rid of a monster, but we didn’t see what it took to do that.

I can’t tell you how bad the civilian casualties were. I saw a couple of pictures. I saw French television pictures, I saw a few things here and there, but to truly understand what war is all about you’ve got to be on both sides. ….

Some of the soldiers, according to our embeds had never seen a dead body throughout the entire three-week campaign. It was like Game Boy. I think that’s amazing in two different ways. It makes you a far more successful warrior because you can just barrel right along but it takes away a lot of what war is all about, which is what I mentioned earlier. The TV technology took that away too. We couldn’t see where the bullets landed. Nobody could see the horrors of this so that we seriously revisit the concept of warfare the next time we have to deal with it.

I think there were a lot of dissenting voices before this war about the horrors of war, but I’m very concerned about this three-week TV show and how it may have changed people’s opinions. It was very sanitized. [emphasis added]….

This TV show [Iraq invasion coverage] that we just gave you was extraordinarily entertaining, and I really hope that the legacy that it leaves behind is not one that shows war as glorious, because there’s nothing more dangerous than a democracy that thinks this is a glorious thing to do. [emphasis added]

War is ugly and it’s dangerous, and in this world the way we are discussed on the Arab street, it feeds and fuels their hatred and their desire to kill themselves to take out Americans. It’s a dangerous thing to propagate.….

I’m hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects, you can already see the big hires on other networks, right wing hires to chase after this effect, and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage.
Nothing has changed since Banfield’s powerful critique.  Indeed, the networks have only hired more retired generals and admirals to give “unbiased” coverage of America’s military actions.  And reporters and “journalists” like Brian Williams have learned too.  Recall how Williams cheered the “beautiful” US Tomahawk cruise missiles as they were launched against Syria earlier this year.

It’s not just that US media coverage actively suppresses dissent of America’s wars: it passively does so as well, which is arguably more insidious.  Any young journalist with smarts recognizes the way to get ahead is to be a cheerleader for US military action, a stenographer to the powerful.  Being a critic leads to getting fired (like Donahue); demoted and exiled (like Banfield); and, in Ventura’s case, if you can’t be fired or demoted or otherwise punished, you can simply be denied air time.

When you consider that billions and billions of dollars are at stake, whether in weapons sales or in advertising revenue tied to ratings, none of this is that surprising.  What’s surprising is that so few Americans know about how pro-authority and uncritical US media coverage of war and its makers is.  If anything, the narrative is often that the US media is too critical of the military to the detriment of the generals.  Talk about false narratives and alternative facts!

America’s greed-wars persist for many reasons, but certainly a big one is the lack of critical voices in the mainstream media.  Today’s journalists, thinking about their career prospects and their salaries (and who is ultimately their boss at corporate HQ), learn to censor themselves, assuming they have any radical thoughts to begin with. Some, like Brian Williams, even learn how to stop worrying and love the beautiful bombs.

And so it goes …

Reprinted with permission from BracingViews.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/silencing-war-criticism-the-iraq-invasion-of-2003/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/silencing-war-criticism-the-iraq-invasion-of-2003/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 04:45:41 GMT
It Took Obama More Than Two Years to Kill This Many Civilians. It Took Trump Less Than Six Months. Andrea Germanos http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/it-took-obama-more-than-two-years-to-kill-this-many-civilians-it-took-trump-less-than-six-months/

A new investigation shows that President Donald Trump's bombing campaign against ISIS (the Islamic State) over several months has already led to nearly as many civilian deaths as those overseen by the Obama White House over several years.

According to an Airwars investigation conducted for The Daily Beast, at least 2,300 civilians were killed by coalition strikes from 2015 until the end of Obama's term earlier this year. But as of July 13, roughly six months into Trump's presidency, over 2,200 civilians have likely died from coalition strikes.

That translates to roughly 80 civilian casualties each month in Iraq and Syria during the Obama White House; during Trump's short tenure in the White House, it's been roughly 360 per month.

Samuel Oakford writes. "Airwars estimates that the minimum approximate number of civilian deaths from Coalition attacks will have doubled under Trump's leadership within his first six months in office."

The reason for the trend may be attributed to the result of new war plan to defeat ISIS. It includes a shift to what Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis  called "annihilation tactics" to defeat ISIS fighters and the president's having "delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities."

In March, the "month after Mattis delivered the new plan, US-led forces likely killed more civilians than in the first 12 months of Coalition strikes — combined," Oakford writes.

Mattis argues that there have been no changes to the rules of engagement. Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council under the Obama administration, pushed back, telling Airwars: "There is a tremendous disconnect between what we've heard from senior military officials who are saying there has been no change in the rules of engagement and clearly what we are seeing on the ground."

Human rights watchdogs, the UN-appointed Commission of Inquiry for Syria and Amnesty International among them, have been concerned about the increase in civilian casualties.

Top Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend has shot back against their accusations. "Show me some evidence of that," he said, referring to UN investigator Paulo Pinheiro's statement that the US-led coalition is responsible for a "staggering loss of civilian life" in Raqqa, Syria. To Amnesty's claim that the coalition is linked to "relentless unlawful attacks" on civilians in west Mosul, Iraq, Townsend said, "I would challenge the people from Amnesty International, or anyone else out there who makes these charges, to first research their facts and make sure they're speaking from a position of authority."

Arguing about whether or not there was a change in the rules of engagement is not helpful, said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, to Airwars. "The bottom line is more civilians are dying. Whatever the reason, that should concern the US greatly," she said.

Reprinted with permission from Common Dreams.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/it-took-obama-more-than-two-years-to-kill-this-many-civilians-it-took-trump-less-than-six-months/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/19/it-took-obama-more-than-two-years-to-kill-this-many-civilians-it-took-trump-less-than-six-months/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 04:31:14 GMT
Jeff Sessions Declares War On Liberty Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/jeff-sessions-declares-war-on-liberty/ National District Attorneys Association. Unfortunately his fire was all directed at our civil liberties. He wants to crack down on guns, ramp up the drug war (including more harassment of doctors), lengthen prison sentences and reduce sentencing flexibility, and expand the government theft of private property known as "asset forfeiture." Sessions' speech was pure authoritarianism from top to bottom. Endless wars overseas expand a war mentality at home, which governments love to exploit. More on Sessions' war declaration in today's Liberty Report:

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/jeff-sessions-declares-war-on-liberty/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/jeff-sessions-declares-war-on-liberty/ Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:17:03 GMT
US Stumbling into War with Iran Andrei Akulov http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/us-stumbling-into-war-with-iran/

There are signs that a US military operation against Iran is imminent. The administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new "temporary" facilities in Iraq and Syria. Its policy statement says the armed forces are hamstrung by legal restrictions on the ability to expand military infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration wants the existing authorities that only cover the "repair and renovation" of facilities extended to also encompass "temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection."

According to a 2016 Defense Department of Defense (DoD) report, the Pentagon wastes money on maintaining 22 percent excess infrastructure unnecessary infrastructure. The House and Senate Committee versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) deny the military the right to spend money on a new round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC), making it pay for the real estate it does not need. Now new military bases in the Middle East may be added to the financial burden.

The added flexibility is supposed to boost the capabilities against the Islamic State (IS) but it does not sound credible. After all, the group is already retreating everywhere and the process is unstoppable. But boosting military infrastructure is the right thing to do if the enemy is a strong military power such as Iran. President Trump appears to have decidedly hardline leanings on that country.

After all, the first Donald Trump’s foreign trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel were specifically targeted at Iran. In Riyadh, the president called for unity against Tehran, singling it out for its support of terrorism. He even hinted at the need for regime change. The US Treasury Department has applied additional sanctions on Iran’s missile program while the administration is mulling of declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. The Congress is considering a bill to impose a set of sanctions on Tehran. The CIA has made moves toward more aggressive operations.

Visiting Saudi Arabia in April, US Defense Secretary James Mattis flatly stated: "Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran." The Washington Post reports that active or retired military officials hold at least 10 of the 25 senior policy and leadership spots on Trump's National Security Council — five times more than under the previous administration. Colin Kahl, a former Pentagon and White House official, believes that being limited in their worldview those officials could overestimate their ability to control events and end up provoking more conflict.

President Trump granted US commanders the authority to order attacks in countries with American military presence on January 29 - shortly after taking office. The United States is already involved in places such as Syria and the Persian Gulf where confrontation with Iran is looming. It greatly increases the risk of sparking a conflict.

The US military has come a number of times recently into direct conflict with the Iran-supported Shiite militias and pro-Iranian Hezbollah. In the southeastern Syrian desert pro-US and pro-Iranian forces are facing off with one another. America’s military has bolstered its position in the area by deploying HIMARS mobile multiple launch rocket systems. The United States and Iran pursue different agendas in Syria to make them increasingly on a collision course. The US-supported coalition and pro-Iranian forces are maneuvering to control as much territory as possible in the vacuum created by the retreat of IS militants.

As the IS - the common enemy – gets weaker, the evolving battlefield in Syria and Iraq is drawing the United States and Iran towards a collision. The British Guardian cites Ilan Goldenberg, a former state and defense official, who said that "the tolerance that Shia Iranian-supported groups and American-supported groups have shown for each other" may disappear as the IS disappears off the map. He believes that with the IS gone, "You can see it all going haywire pretty quickly."

More and more sanctions, military exercises, huge arms deals with the countries hostile to Iran, and taking direct action against Iran’s militant proxies could escalate tensions and provoke a flare up. It would easily spill over into Iraq, where roughly 6,000 U.S. troops operate in close proximity to tens of thousands of Shia militia fighters aligned with Iran. The Persian Gulf is the place where the US and Iranian navies operate in close proximity. The incidents have already taken place. That’s where a spark can start a big fire.

President Trump’s standing with the American people has deteriorated since the spring, buffeted by perceptions of a decline in US leadership abroad, a stalled presidential agenda at home and an unpopular Republican health-care bill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News pollAccording to The Washington Post, Approaching six months in office, Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. His disapproval rating has risen five points to 58 percent. Overall, 48 percent say they "disapprove strongly" of Trump’s performance in office, a level never reached by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and reached only in the second term of George W. Bush in Post-ABC polling.

With the administration hemmed in by investigations into its alleged Russia links and the failure to advance his policy, a short victorious war would be just the thing to make the president win flag-rally popular support with approval rating going up again. Besides, a war against Iran may be a warning to North Korea telling it unambiguously - you’re next! America is gradually sliding into another war with a distant country that poses no immediate threat to it. So far, it has won wars but failed to win peace. Wading into the Middle East mess, the US will become weaker not stronger. No intervention was a success but this lesson appears to be never learnt.

Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/us-stumbling-into-war-with-iran/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/us-stumbling-into-war-with-iran/ Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:20:38 GMT
How to Sustain Perpetual War (It’s Easy!) Peter Van Buren http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/how-to-sustain-perpetual-war-it-s-easy/

Sustaining America’s state of post-9/11 perpetual war requires skillful manipulation of the public at home. The key tool used for this purpose is the bloodless narrative, a combination of policy, falsehoods and media manipulation that creates the impression that America’s wars have few consequences, at least for Americans.

How can the American government sustain its wars in the face of dead soldiers coming home? Why is there no outcry among the American people over these losses? The answer is the narrative of bloodless war.

The Dead

The bloodless war narrative’s solution to the dead is a policy of don’t look, don’t tell.

Dick Cheney, as Secretary of Defense for George H. W. Bush, helped decide in 1991 the first Iraq War would play better if Americans did not see their fallen return home. He recalled the images of coffins from the 1989 invasion of Panama on television, transposed against the president speaking of victory, and banned media from Dover Air Force Base, where deceased American personnel would arrive from the Persian Gulf.

The ban at Dover lasted 18 years, past George Bush 2.0 and Iraq War 2.0, overturned only in 2009, well after the casualty counts dropped off. Even then, allowing cameras at Dover was left at the discretion of the families, except of course when the president needed a blood-stirring photo op. Obama took one just before ordering the surge in Afghanistan.

Death, when it is reluctantly acknowledged, must still follow the bloodless narrative as closely as possible. Death must be for a good cause, freedom if possible, “for his buddies” later when public opinion weakens.

There is no better example in recent times than the death of Pat Tillman, America’s once-walking propaganda dream. Tillman was a professional football player making a $3.6 million salary. Following 9/11, he gave that all up, and volunteered for combat. When he died in Afghanistan, the Army told his family he’d been killed by enemy fire after courageously charging up a hill to protect his fellow soldiers.

It was of course the right thing to say to support the narrative, but it was a lie.

A month later, the Pentagon notified Tillman’s family he had actually died as a result of friendly fire. The month placed the non-narrative news safely after Tillman’s memorial service and in the fog of faded media interest. Later investigations revealed the Army likely knew the death was by friendly fire within days.

The Physically Wounded

For all the trouble the dead cause to the bloodless narrative, the wounded are even messier. They still walk around, sometimes speak to journalists, and, well, do not always look bloodless.

The Honolulu side of Waikiki beach is anchored by a hotel run by the Department of Defense as a low-cost vacation destination for servicepeople. While some of the grounds are public by Hawaiian law, the hotel itself is off limits.

I used to have a government ID that let me in. Inside, who is a soldier? The buff bodies stand out against the beached whale look more popular among regular tourists. The odd-patterned tans – browned faces with pale white limbs – betray a recent trip to the Middle East.

But sometimes it is a missing limb on a 20-year-old, or a face that looks like raw bacon. Could’ve been a car wreck or a factory fire, but I doubt it. The burns sketched precisely where the helmet had, and had not, been, a map of pain.

That’s on the inside. When we as outsiders see images of the wounded, they instead follow the narrative. Brave troopers, with their state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs, are shown skiing, surfing or working out. Some featured amputees even demand to return to active duty. They show off their new limbs, some decorated with decals from their favorite sports teams. They are brave and they are strong.

The inside story is again very different. A recent book by Ann Jones, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars, fills in what the narrative omits. As a summation, Jones offers the haiku of one military trauma nurse: “Amputees up to the waist. No arms. No legs. No genitals. Age 21 or 22. We cry.”


The Mentally Wounded

Military suicides have made it through the screen of bloodless narrative, but just barely, thanks to the Hollywood-ization of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Where we need clarity, we get tropes, such as the freaked-out-at-home scenes in Hurt Locker and American Sniper. Not to say those things don’t happen (they do) but to say those types of scenes are incomplete, giving enough info to arouse sympathy without actually being too alarming. As Ann Jones points out, such treatment of PTSD is “useful in raising citizen sympathy for soldiers, defusing opposition to Washington’s wars, and generally medicalizing problems that might raise inconvenient political and moral issues.”

At the same time, another non-Hollywood narrative bubbles just below the surface, that some vets are exaggerating or outright faking it. PTSD inherits all of our stigmas toward mental illness, and that dilutes the bad news.

Still, with all the attention PTSD and soldier suicides garner, one would think the military would, at minimum, have some ready statistics to help frame the problem. Oh, there are numbers, but not ones that fully strike back against the bloodless narrative.

The Department of Defense keeps statistics on suicides which occur while soldiers are deployed. The Veterans Administration (VA) tracks them at home. But since big suicide numbers run counter to the narrative, it is little surprise that it was only in 2011 that the VA announced a joint suicide database with the Pentagon, so the two bureaucracies might arrive at an accurate body count. Perhaps not unexpectedly, an Inspector General’s report stated that in 2015 the database is still a work in progress.

One way of not knowing is not to look for the answers at all. The narrative says we should be like Mafia bosses’ kids, who never ask what Daddy does for a living despite our big house and fancy cars.


When the Narrative Fails

During the year I spent in Iraq, the only deaths experienced by the Army units I was embedded with were suicides.

The death I was most familiar with was a young Private, who put his assault rifle into his mouth. No one back home saw what I saw, because they were not supposed to see: the fan spray of blood and brain on the wall, already being washed off as I arrived to look.

These things are not unspeakable, we just don’t want to talk about them, and the bloodless narrative says we don’t have to. That keeps it alive. Because when the narrative fails, the wars tend to end.

For example, in 1969, Life magazine published a famous edition consisting entirely of portraits of the Americans who died in Vietnam that week. Many subscribers canceled, but many more looked for the first time outside the narrative. The war found its end.

In another conflict, President Bill Clinton pulled American troops out of Somalia after a photo showed crowds cheering a dead American soldier dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. That image dogged American war mongering until it could be cleaned up by the bloodless narrative of Gulf War 1.0.

We are no longer likely to see those nasty pictures. The military has become more skillful at manipulating the media, even as the media has become more compliant. In the X-rated world of war, most of the media refuses to budge from family fare.

The military-media symbiosis is just one more tool that feeds the narrative. As long as Americans are convinced of the bloodlessness of perpetual war, the wars will go on.

Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/how-to-sustain-perpetual-war-it-s-easy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/18/how-to-sustain-perpetual-war-it-s-easy/ Tue, 18 Jul 2017 12:43:36 GMT
Four Major Famines - Unintended Consequences Of US Foreign Policy Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/four-major-famines-unintended-consequences-of-us-foreign-policy/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/four-major-famines-unintended-consequences-of-us-foreign-policy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/four-major-famines-unintended-consequences-of-us-foreign-policy/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:05:37 GMT
Photos Of Aleppo Rising: Swimsuits, Concerts And Rebuilding In First Jihadi-Free Summer Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/photos-of-aleppo-rising-swimsuits-concerts-and-rebuilding-in-first-jihadi-free-summer/
Aleppo orchestra concert, Summer 2017/via Sarah Abdallah

When taxi and bus drivers take journalists into Syria via the Beirut-Damascus Highway these days, there's a common greeting that has become a kind of local tradition as the drivers pull into their Damascus area destinations. They confidently tell their passengers: "welcome to the real Syria." Local Syrians living in government areas are all too aware of how the outside world perceives the government and the cities under its control. After years of often deceptive imagery and footage produced by opposition fighters coordinating with an eager Western press bent on vilifying Assad as "worse than Hitler", many average Syrian citizens increasingly take to social media to post images and scenes of Syria that present a different vision: they see their war-torn land as fundamentally secular, religiously plural, socially tolerant, and slowly returning to normalcy under stabilizing government institutions.

As the most intense phase of fighting in Aleppo was unfolding in 2016, veteran journalist Stephen Kinzer took to the editorial pages of the Boston Globe to remind Americans that the media has created a fantasy land concerning Syria. Kinzer painted a picture quite opposite the common perception:
Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press... For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: 'Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.' Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it...

The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story.
Now, during the first summer of relative calm Aleppo residents have seen in over four years of grinding conflict, the city commonly referred as "the jewel of Syria" is once again rising from the ashes. Foreign journalists are also accessing places like East Aleppo and the heart of the walled "old city" for the first time. Some few honest correspondents, unable to deny the local population's spirit of hopefulness and zeal with which they undertake rebuilding projects, acknowledge that stability and normalcy have returned only after the last jihadists were expelled by the Syrian government and its allies.

A Western press and political class which generally mourned the liberation of the city from al-Qaeda groups like Nusra (AQ in Syria), calling government actions a "massacre" and "genocide", now finds a reality that can't be ignored or denied: Aleppines are returning to ravaged parts of the city to rebuild, they are enjoying nightlife, going to music concerts, staying out late at cafes; families are swimming at local pools, women are strolling around in t-shirts and jeans free of the oppressive Wahhabi fighters that once ruled parts of the city.

Kinzer's Boston Globe piece further concluded that the entire web of assumptions on Syria woven by the media and fed to the public over the years were "appallingly distant from reality" and warned that these lies are "likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death." As new photos continue to emerge of the real Aleppo and the real Syria it is essential to revisit the most destructive among the lies that have helped serve to prolong this tragic and brutal war.

Aleppines didn't want to live under Wahhabi Islamist rule

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According to multiple eyewitness reports and studies, the story of how war entered Aleppo's environs was not primarily one of mass public protests and government crackdown, but of an aggressive jihadist insurgency that erupted suddenly and fueled from outside the city. According to then Indian ambassador to Syria, V.P. Haran (Amb. to Syria from 2009 to 2012), Aleppo on the whole was unwillingly dragged into the war after remaining silent and stable while other cities raged. In an interview which detailed his own on-the-ground experience of the opening years of war in Syria, the ambassador said:
Soon parts of Latakia, Homs and Hama were chaotic but Aleppo remained calm and this troubled the opposition greatly. The opposition couldn’t get the people in Aleppo to rise up against the regime so they sent bus loads of people to Aleppo. These people would burn something on the streets and leave. Journalists would then broadcast this saying Aleppo had risen.
Why did it take until July 2012 - well over a year since conflict in Syria began - for Aleppo to see any fighting? Why did residents not "rise up" against the government?

The answer is simple. The majority of Syrians, whether Sunni, Shia, Alawi, Christian, Kurd, or Ismaili, are sane individuals – they’ve seen what life is like under the “alternative” rebel rule marked by sharia courts, smoke and alcohol bans, public floggings, street executions, desecration of churches, and religious and ethnic cleansing of minorities. They recognize that there is a real Syrian national identity, and it goes beyond mere loyalty to the current ruling clique that happens to be in power, but in Syria as a pluralistic Levantine society that rejects Saudi style theocracy.

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Rebuilding Aleppo, Summer 2017. Latin Parish of St. Francis/via Sarah Abdallah

The kind of religious and cultural pluralism represented in the liberal democracies of the West are present in Syria, ironically, through a kind of government-mandated “go along, get along” policy backed by an authoritarian police state. One can even find Syrian Jews living in the historic Jewish quarter of Damascus’ walled old city to this day.

Syrian urban centers have for decades been marked by a quasi-secular culture and public life of pluralist co-existence. Aleppo itself was always a thriving merchant center where a typical street scene would involve women without head-coverings walking side by side with women wearing veils (hijab), cinemas and liquor stores, late night hookah smoke filled cafés, and large churches and mosques neighboring each other with various communities living in peaceful co-existence. By many accounts, the once vibrant secular and pluralist Aleppo is now coming back to life (and largely never left government-held West Aleppo).

"Moderates" did not "liberate" Aleppo, but gave cover to an ISIS and al-Qaeda invasion

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One of the most under reported and least understood events surrounding the history of how all of Aleppo province and the Northern Syria region became a hotbed of foreign jihadists is the fall of the strategically located Menagh airbase near Aleppo. As a Reuters timeline of events indicates:
In early 2012 rebels take control of the rural areas northwest of Aleppo city, besieging the Menagh military air base and the largely Shiite towns of Nubl and Zahra.
After a lengthy siege of Menagh, the base finally fell to jihadist factions under the command of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in August of 2013. This event was key to rebel fighters gaining enough territory to cut off the Aleppo-Damascus Highway, which allowed them to encircle all of Aleppo for much of that year. But a little known yet hugely important detail of the Menagh episode is that rebels only got the upper hand after being joined by ISIS suicide bombers commanded by Omar the Chechen (ISIS' now deceased most senior military commander). The fall of this government base is what opened a permanent jihadi corridor in the North, allowing terrorists to flood the area. The commander for the operation was US Ambassador Robert Ford's personal friend, Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, who was head of the US and UK funded Revolutionary Military Council of Aleppo (FSA). Okaidi worked in tandem with ISIS military commander Omar the Chechen and his crew for the operation - all while being supported by the United States and Great Britain.

Concerning US-backed Okaidi's close relationship to the ISIS faction in the summer of 2013, there is actually video evidence and eyewitness testimony (US Ambassador Ford himself later admitted the relationship to McClatchy News). Amazingly, the video, titled “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra” never had very widespread public distribution, even though it has been authenticated by the top Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the hugely influential Syria Comment. Using his Twitter account, Dr. Landis commented: “in 2013 WINEP advocated sending all US military aid thru him [Col. Okaidi]. Underscores US problem w moderates.”

The video, documenting (now former) U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to FSA Col. Okaidi in Northern Syria, also shows the same Col. Okaidi celebrating with and praising a well-known ISIS commander, Emir Abu Jandal, after conducting the joint Menagh operation. In an interview, this U.S. “key man” at that time, through which U.S. assistance flowed, also praised ISIS and al-Qaeda as the FSA’s “brothers.” Abu Jandal was part of Omar the Chechen's ISIS crew assisting the FSA. Further video evidence also confirms Omar the Chechen's role at Menagh. The videos also show Okaidi proudly declaring that al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) makes up ten percent of the FSA. The FSA was always more of a branding campaign to sell the rebels as "moderates" to a gullible Western media than a reality on the ground; it was a loose coalition of various groups espousing militant jihad with the end goal of establishing an Islamist polity in Syria.

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In the end, terror groups like ISIS enjoyed a meteoric rise in Syria due to US government and media support for these so-called "moderate rebels" - all entities which collectively sought regime change at all costs - even the high cost of mass civilian death and suffering that inevitably results from unleashing an insurgency in urban areas.

The Syrian Army and government were never "Shia" or sectarian-based

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The Arab Spring narrative was the ideological lens through which experts initially pit the oppressive supposedly “Alawite/Shia regime” against a popular uprising of Syria’s majority Sunnis. As Sunnis make up about 70 percent of Syria’s population, it was simply a matter of numbers, and of time. But this view proved overly simplistic, and according to one little known West Point study, utterly false. It was commonly assumed that the Syrian Army was a hollowed out Alawite institution with its Sunni conscripts apprehensively waiting for the right moment to defect to the rebel side. This was the fundamental supposition behind years of repetitious predictions of the Assad regime’s impending collapse, and predicated upon a view of the Syrian military as a fundamentally weak and sectarian institution. But West Point's 2015 study entitled Syria’s Sunnis and the Regime’s Resilience concluded the following:
Sunnis and, more specifically, Sunni Arabs, continue to make up the majority of the regular army’s rank-and- file membership.
The study's unpopular findings confirmed that the Syrian Army, which has been the glue holding the state together throughout this war, remains primarily a Sunni enterprise while its guiding ideology is firmly nationalistic and not sectarian.

The highest ranking Syrian officer to fall victim to rebel attack was General Dawoud Rajiha, Defense Minister and former chief of staff of the army, in a major 2012 bombing of a Damascus national security office. General Rajiha was an Orthodox Christian. Numerous Christians and officers of other religious backgrounds have served top positions in the Syrian Army going back decades - a reflection of Syria's generally nationalist and religiously tolerant atmosphere.

Mainstream press did not report from Aleppo, but was hundreds of miles away.

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The heavily populated urban areas of Syria continue to be held by the government. But most reporting has tended to dehumanize any voice coming out of government held areas, which includes the majority of Syrians. The war has resulted in over 6.5 million internally displaced people - the vast majority of which have sought refuge in government territory.

The fact remains that there are some popular figures in the establishment media and analyst community who speak and write frequently about Syria, and yet have never spent a significant amount of time in the country. Throughout much of the war they've primarily reported from Western capitals - thousands of miles away - or, if they are in a Middle East bureau, without ever leaving the safety of places like Beirut or Istanbul. Fewer still have the necessary Arabic language skills to keep pace with local and regional events. Some have never been to Syria at all. They become willing conduits of rebel propaganda beamed through WhatsApp messages and Skype interviews, which was especially the case when it came to the battle for Aleppo. That much of the world actually considers these people as authorities on what’s happening in Syria is a joke – it’s beyond absurd.

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We are hopeful that the jihadist menace will be fully expelled and that the international proxy war which has taken so many lives and reduced much of a beautiful nation to rubble will finally come to an end. Aleppines and other Syrians are rebuilding - they are optimistically preparing for the future. Welcome to the real Aleppo.

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Final national exams just before summer 2017/via Syria Daily

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/photos-of-aleppo-rising-swimsuits-concerts-and-rebuilding-in-first-jihadi-free-summer/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/photos-of-aleppo-rising-swimsuits-concerts-and-rebuilding-in-first-jihadi-free-summer/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:41:27 GMT
Big Military Spending Boost Threatens Our Economy and Security Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/big-military-spending-boost-threatens-our-economy-and-security/

On Friday the House overwhelmingly approved a massive increase in military spending, passing a $696 billion National Defense Authorization bill for 2018. President Trump’s request already included a huge fifty or so billion dollar spending increase, but the Republican-led House found even that to be far too small. They added another $30 billion to the bill for good measure. Even President Trump, in his official statement, expressed some concern over spending in the House-passed bill.

According to the already weak limitations on military spending increases in the 2011 “sequestration” law, the base military budget for 2018 would be $72 billion more than allowed.

Don’t worry, they’ll find a way to get around that!

The big explosion in military spending comes as the US is planning to dramatically increase its military actions overseas. The president is expected to send thousands more troops back to Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. After nearly 16 years, the Taliban controls more territory than at anytime since the initial US invasion and ISIS is seeping into the cracks created by constant US military action in the country.

The Pentagon and Defense Secretary James Mattis are already telling us that even when ISIS is finally defeated in Iraq, the US military doesn’t dare end its occupation of the country again. Look for a very expensive array of permanent US military bases throughout the country. So much for our 2003 invasion creating a stable democracy, as the neocons promised.

In Syria, the United States has currently established at least eight military bases even though it has no permission to do so from the Syrian government nor does it have a UN resolution authorizing the US military presence there. Pentagon officials have made it clear they will continue to occupy Syrian territory even after ISIS is defeated, to “stabilize” the region.

And let’s not forget that Washington is planning to send the US military back to Libya, another US intervention we were promised would be stabilizing but that turned out to be a disaster.

Also, the drone wars continue in Somalia and elsewhere, as does the US participation in Saudi Arabia’s horrific two year war on impoverished Yemen.

President Trump often makes encouraging statements suggesting that he shares some of our non-interventionist views. For example while Congress was shoveling billions into an already bloated military budget last week, President Trump said that he did not want to spent trillions more dollars in the Middle East where we get “nothing” for our efforts. He’d rather fix roads here in the US, he said. The only reason we are there, he said, was to “get rid of terrorists,” after which we can focus on our problems at home.

Unfortunately President Trump seems to be incapable of understanding that it is US intervention and occupation of foreign countries that creates instability and feeds terrorism. Continuing to do the same thing for more than 17 years – more US bombs to “stabilize” the Middle East – and expecting different results is hardly a sensible foreign policy. It is insanity. Until he realizes that our military empire is the source of rather than the solution to our problems, we will continue to wildly spend on our military empire until the dollar collapses and we are brought to our knees. Then what?]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/big-military-spending-boost-threatens-our-economy-and-security/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/17/big-military-spending-boost-threatens-our-economy-and-security/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:14:28 GMT
Democrats Gone Mad: The Year of Living Stupidly Glen Ford http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/16/democrats-gone-mad-the-year-of-living-stupidly/

For more than a year now, the collective US ruling class, with Democratic Party and corporate media operatives in the vanguard, has frozen the national political discourse in a McCarthyite time warp. A random visit to a July 26, 2016, issue of the New York Times reveals the same obsession as that which consumes the newspaper today: “Following the Links from Russian Hackers to the US Election,” “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked DNC.” A year later, the allegations persist, piled ever higher with innuendo and outright nonsense. However, proof of the predicate act -- that Russia, not Wikileaks, penetrated the DNC -- remains totally absent.

What is the purpose of this torture-by-media? Clearly, the Trump White House has been crippled by the tsunami that never ebbs, but the Democrats have not been strengthened in the process, and the corporate media’s standing among the public erodes by the day. A poll conducted last month showed majorities of voters want Congress to ease up on Russia investigations and get to work on healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. Almost three out of four respondents to the Harvard-Harris poll said lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the issues that are important to them -- including 68 percent of Democrats. Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House “collusion” with Russia, and 64 percent think the investigations are hurting the country.

“That two out of three Americans believe the so-called ‘mainstream’ press is full of fake news -- including a majority of Democrats.”

The non-stop vilification of Russia and Trump has seriously backfired on the corporate media. Another poll by Harvard-Harris, conducted back in May, showed that two out of three Americans believe the so-called “mainstream” press is full of “fake news” -- including a majority of Democrats. The Russiagate blitzkrieg, designed to delegitimize Trump and demonize Vladimir Putin, has exacerbated an already existing crisis of legitimacy for the entire US political system. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other,” said poll co-director Mark Penn.

The only unequivocal winner is the bipartisan War Party, which has used the manufactured crisis to drench the nation in anti-Russian hysteria – worse than back in the bad old days of the Red Scares. By March, Black Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was using much the same language as Dick Cheney to describe the Kremlin. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” said the hopelessly brainwashed representative of the Black Misleadership Class. “Liberal” Democratic Maryland Rep. Ben Cardin called the nonexistent “attack” a “political Pearl Harbor.”

If the US Congress actually took seriously its Constitutional powers to declare war, the human race would already have been exterminated.

“Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House ‘collusion’ with Russia.”

So insane have the Democrats become, that we are probably better off with war powers effectively in the hands of Donald Trump, than with California’s Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She was in her “right mind” then, but no longer. Trump’s willingness to talk with the leader of Russia, in Hamburg, infuriated Rep. Lee, who tweeted: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?” A better question is: When and where did Lee join the War Party?

The dogs of war at US intelligence agencies have led the charge against Trump since they encamped at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, last year. The spoiled oligarch was not trusted to maintain the momentum of the US military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked war against Libya. The state of war must be preserved, whatever the cost to the empire’s domestic institutions. Skilled in the arts of regime change, the spooks joined with their longtime partners in corporate media propaganda, to foment a “color revolution” at home. Barbara Lee is a recent recruit.

“The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago.”

Although the Democrats will ultimately harm themselves with the electorate by folding into the War Party, it suits the purposes of party leadership and the fat cats that finance them. The ruling class has nothing to offer the people except the total insecurity of gig-jobs and austerity. The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago. They can campaign as if there really is a clash of ideas about the organization of society, but they must propose nothing that fundamentally conflicts with the steady consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchy (the American one, not the Russians). That goes for Bernie Sanders, too. Heard anything about single payer from him, lately?

The “all Russiagate, all the time” information regime -- which also prepares the public for a wider war scenario – provides the illusion of motion that passes for “resistance” to the rule of the rich, as personified by Donald Trump. But there has been no Democratic program to reorder society for at least a generation. And now, under the New McCarthyism, the only politics that is allowed is war politics, consisting of denunciations of those who threaten “our fundamental democratic principles” – which need not be defined or even proven to exist.

That’s why it has been an empty year, albeit a very loud one. As Gil Scott-Heron sang in “Winter in America,” “Nobody’s fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.”

Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report.

Reprinted with author's permission from Black Agenda Report.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/16/democrats-gone-mad-the-year-of-living-stupidly/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/16/democrats-gone-mad-the-year-of-living-stupidly/ Sun, 16 Jul 2017 11:54:03 GMT
20th Anniversary, Asian Financial Crisis: Clinton, The IMF And Wall Street Journal Toppled Suharto Steve H. Hanke http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/20th-anniversary-asian-financial-crisis-clinton-the-imf-and-wall-street-journal-toppled-suharto/

On August 14, 1997, shortly after the Thai baht collapsed on July 2nd, Indonesia floated the rupiah. This prompted Stanley Fischer, then the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and presently Vice Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, to proclaim that “the management of the IMF welcomes the timely decision of the Indonesian authorities. The floating of the rupiah, in combination with Indonesia’s strong fundamentals, supported by prudent fiscal and monetary policies, will allow its economy to continue its impressive economic performance of the last several years.”

Contrary to the IMF’s expectations, the rupiah did not float on a sea of tranquility. It plunged from a value of 2,700 rupiahs per U.S. dollar to lows of nearly 16,000 rupiahs per U.S. dollar in 1998. Indonesia was caught up in the maelstrom of the Asian Financial Crisis.

By late January 1998, President Suharto realized that the IMF medicine was not working and sought a second opinion. In February, I was invited to offer that opinion and was appointed as Suharto’s Special Counselor. Although I did not have any opinions on the Suharto government, I did have definite ones on the matter at hand. After nightly discussions at the President’s private residence, I proposed an antidote: an orthodox currency board in which the rupiah would be fully convertible into and backed by the U.S. dollar at a fixed exchange rate. On the day that news hit the street, the rupiah soared by 28% against the U.S. dollar on both the spot and one year forward markets. These developments infuriated the U.S. government and the IMF.

Ruthless attacks on the currency board idea and the Special Counselor ensued. Suharto was told in no uncertain terms - by both the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and the Managing Director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus - that he would have to drop the currency board idea or forego $43 billion in foreign assistance.

Economists jumped on the bandwagon, trotting out every imaginable half-truth and non-truth against the currency board idea. In my opinion, those oft-repeated canards were outweighed by the full support for an Indonesian currency board by four Nobel Laureates in Economics: Gary Becker, Milton Friedman, Merton Miller, and Robert Mundell. Also, Sir Alan Walters, Prime Minister Thatcher’s economic guru, a key figure behind the establishment of Hong Kong’s currency board in 1983, and my colleague and close collaborator, endorsed the idea of a currency board for Indonesia.

Why all the fuss over a currency board for Indonesia? Merton Miller understood the great game immediately. As he said when Mrs. Hanke and I were in residence at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta, the Clinton administration’s objection to the currency board was “not that it wouldn’t work, but that it would, and if it worked, they would be stuck with Suharto.” Much the same argument was articulated by Australia’s former Prime Minister Paul Keating: “The United States Treasury quite deliberately used the economic collapse as a means of bringing about the ouster of Suharto.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger weighed in with a similar diagnosis: “We were fairly clever in that we supported the IMF as it overthrew (Suharto). Whether that was a wise way to proceed is another question. I’m not saying Mr. Suharto should have stayed, but I kind of wish he had left on terms other than because the IMF pushed him out.” Even Michel Camdessus could not find fault with these assessments. On the occasion of his retirement, he proudly proclaimed: “We created the conditions that obliged President Suharto to leave his job.”

Why did Suharto have to go? President Clinton had his own personal reasons for leading the charge for a regime change. This presented a golden opportunity for the neoconservative regime changers led by Paul Wolfowitz, a former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia (and subsequently a key figure in the Pentagon—Deputy Secretary of Defense— who pushed for the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein). Their agenda was for the U.S. to control the Greater Middle East, a swath stretching from Indonesia to Morocco. 

To depose Suharto, two deceptions were necessary. The first involved forging an IMF public position of open hostility to currency boards. This deception was required to convince Suharto that he was acting heretically, and that, if he continued, it would be costly. The IMF’s hostility required a quick about-face: Less than a year before the Indonesian uproar, Bulgaria (where I was President Stoyanov’s advisor) had installed a currency board on July 1, 1997 with the enthusiastic endorsement of the IMF. Shortly thereafter, on August 11, 1997, Bosnia and Herzegovina (where I advised the government on the implementation of its currency board) followed suit under a mandate contained in the Dayton Peace Agreement, and with the IMF’s full support.

Shortly after Suharto departed, the IMF’s currency board deception became transparent. On August 28, 1998, Michel Camdessus announced that the IMF would give Russia the green light if it chose to adopt a currency board. This was followed on January 16, 1999 with a little-known meeting in Camdessus’ office at the IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C. The assembled group included the IMF’s top brass, Brazil’s Finance Minister Pedro Malan, and the central bank’s Director of Monetary Policy Francisco Lopes. It was at that meeting that Camdessus suggested that Brazil adopt a currency board.

The other deception involved the widely-circulated story that I had proposed to set the rupiah’s exchange rate at an overvalued level so that Suharto and his cronies could loot the central bank’s reserves at a favorable exchange rate. It was intended to “confirm” Suharto’s devious intentions and rally international political support against the currency board idea and for Suharto’s ouster. This story was a linchpin in the Clinton administration’s campaign to dump Suharto.

The overvaluation story was enshrined by the Wall Street Journal on February 10, 1998. The Journal reported that Peter Gontha had summoned me to Jakarta, and that I had prepared a working paper for the government in which I recommend setting the rupiah-U.S. dollar exchange rate at 5,500. This was news to me. I did not know of Peter Gontha nor the rest of this fictive story.

I immediately attempted to have this fabrication—which had been concocted by Jay Solomon, a Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reporter—corrected. It was a difficult and ultimately unsatisfactory process. Although the Wall Street Journal reluctantly published a correction on February 14, the damage had been done.

Interestingly, Sir Alan Walters warned me that the Wall Street Journal was planning to publish a hatchet job on the idea of an Indonesian currency board and the Special Counselor. As Sir Alan wrote to me:
I have heard from our Singapore office that the WSJ (Asia) are likely to publish an attack on you either tomorrow or the day after. From what I hear it is quite scandalous and obviously it is the product of some envious advisors or politicians. I find it astonishing that they have not consulted me at all."
Even more interesting is that, as we reflect on the twentieth anniversary of the Asian Financial Crisis, Jay Solomon, the source of the Wall Street Journal’s great Indonesian fabrication and the Journal’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, reappears. Indeed, almost 20 years to the day after the Thai baht collapsed, Solomon was shown the door (read: fired). Concerning Solomon’s dismissal, theJournal’s spokesman Steve Severinghaus said, “While our own investigation continues, we have concluded that Mr. Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter, as well as our standards.”

One of the few journalists who bothered to interview me in an unedited, no-spin, question-and-answer interview was Stephens Broening of the International Herald Tribune. In his interview, “Q&A/Steve Hanke, Voice of Suharto’s Guru” that published on March 20, 1998, I refuted the phony rupiah overvaluation story that had gone viral since Jay Solomon’s Journal reportage. But, by then, it was too late.

The Journal’s original fabrication, or some variant of it, was repeated in virtually every major magazine and newspaper around the world, and it even continues to reverberate to this day, even in so-called “scholarly” books and journals. For example, in his 2000 memoir, From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, Lee Kuan Yew asserts that “in early February 1998, Bambang, the president’s son, brought Steve Hanke, an American economics professor from Johns Hopkins University, to meet Suharto to advise him that the simple answer to the low exchange value of the rupiah was to install a currency board.” This bit of misinformation was a surprise, since I have never had any contact with Bambang Suharto. But it is not just politicians who fail to “fact check” their assertions. Theodore Friend’s 2003 tome, Indonesian Destinies, misspells my name, and then proceeds to say that I “counseled the [Suharto] family to peg the exchange rate at 5000.”

Setting the record straight has been complicated by the official spinners at the IMF. Indeed, they have been busy little bees rewriting monetary history to cover up the IMF’s mistakes, and Indonesia represents one of its biggest blunders. To this end, in 2001, the IMF issued a 139-page working paper “Indonesia: Anatomy of a Banking Crisis: Two Years of Living Dangerously 1997-99.” The authors include a “politically correct” version of the currency board episode, asserting that, among other things, I counseled President Suharto to set the rupiah-dollar exchange rate at 5000. This pseudoscholarly account, which includes 115 footnotes, fails to document their assertion because it simply cannot be done. This official IMF version of events also noticeably avoids referencing any of my published works or interviews based on my Indonesian experience.

After twenty years, what have we learned? Regime change never works as intended. In Asia, China has filled the vacuum created by the discredited efforts of the U.S. Government and the IMF. And what about the neoconservatives who embrace the regime change doctrine and the dream of a U.S. controlled Greater Middle East? After multiple failures, they continue to embrace their doctrine evermore tightly.

Hanke is Professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University, and a Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute.

Reprinted with author's permission from Forbes.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/20th-anniversary-asian-financial-crisis-clinton-the-imf-and-wall-street-journal-toppled-suharto/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/20th-anniversary-asian-financial-crisis-clinton-the-imf-and-wall-street-journal-toppled-suharto/ Sat, 15 Jul 2017 14:34:39 GMT
Obama's AWOL Antiwar Protest James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/obamas-awol-antiwar-protest/

Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 as a peace candidate. He signaled that he would fundamentally change America’s course after the reckless carnage unleashed by the George W. Bush administration. However, by the end of Obama’s presidency, the United States was bombing seven different foreign nations.

But Obama’s warring rarely evoked the protests or opposition that the Bush administration generated. Why did so many Bush-era anti-war activists abandon the cause after Obama took office?

One explanation is that the news media downplayed Obama’s killings abroad. Shortly after he took office, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — not because of anything that he had achieved, but because of the sentiments he had expressed. Shortly after he accepted the Peace Prize, he announced that he would sharply increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan. Much of the media treated Obama’s surge as if it were simply a military campaign designed to ensure that the rights of Afghan women were respected. The fact that more than 2,000 American troops died in Afghanistan on Obama’s watch received far less attention in the press than did the casualties from Bush’s Iraq war.

In early 2011, popular uprisings in several Arab nations spurred  a hope that democracy would soon flourish across North Africa and much of the Middle East. Violent protests in Libya soon threatened the long-term regime of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who had become a US ally and supporter in recent years. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other advisors persuaded Obama to forcibly intervene in what appeared to be a civil war.

In March 2011, Obama told Americans that “the democratic values that we stand for would be overrun” if the United States did not join the French and British assault on the Libyan government. Obama declared that one goal of the US attack was “the transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people.” Qaddafi, who was dealing with uprisings across the nation, sent Obama a personal message: “As you know too well, democracy and building of civil society cannot be achieved by means of missiles and aircraft, or by backing armed members of al-Qaeda in Benghazi.”

Even before the United States began bombing Libya, there was no sober reason to expect that toppling Qaddafi would result in a triumph of popular sovereignty. Some of the rebel groups had been slaughtering civilians; black Africans whom Qaddafi had brought into Libya as guest workers were especially targeted to be massacred. Some of Qaddafi’s most dangerous opponents were groups that the United States had officially labeled as terrorists.

Obama decided that bringing democracy to Libya was more important than obeying US law. The War Powers Act, passed by Congress in 1973 in the waning days of the Vietnam War, requires presidents to terminate military attacks abroad after 60 days unless Congress specifically approves the intervention. Immediately after the bombing commenced, Secretary of State Clinton declared during a classified briefing for members of Congress that “the White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission.” Echoing the Bush administration the Obama administration indicated that congressional restraints would be “an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power.”

According to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Obama “had the constitutional authority” to attack Libya “because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest.” Apparently, as long as presidential advisors concluded that attacking foreigners is in the US “national interest,” the president’s warring passes muster — at least according to his lawyers. Yale professors Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway lamented that “history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking.”

The US attack on Libya evoked almost no protests across the nation. After Qaddafi was killed, Secretary Clinton laughed during a television interview celebrating his demise: “We came, we saw, he died.” But US missiles and bombs begat chaos, not freedom. Five years later, when asked what was the worst mistake of his presidency, Obama replied, “Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”

Syria

In 2013, Obama decided to attack the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Obama team alleged that the Assad regime had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians.

A front-page Washington Post headline blared, “Proof Against Assad at Hand.” But that hand remained hidden. On a Sunday talk show, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough admitted that the administration lacked evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” proving that the Syrian regime had carried out the gas attack. But McDonough asserted, “The common-sense test says [Assad] is responsible for this. He should be held to account.” Obama administration officials also insisted that attacking Syria would boost American “credibility.” But unless “credibility” is defined solely as assuring the world that the president of the United States can kill foreigners on a whim, that is a poor bet. This type of credibility is more appropriate for a drunken brawl in a bar than for international relations.

The administration never provided solid evidence to back up its claim. Even Obama ally Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) characterized the evidence presented in a Capitol Hill classified briefing as “circumstantial.” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) commented, “The evidence is not as strong as the public statements that the president and the administration have been making. There are some things that are being embellished in the public statements. The [classified] briefings have actually made me more skeptical about the situation.”

Seeking to rally the nation behind the cause, Obama called on Congress to authorize bombing Syria. But the American people had little stomach for another adventure abroad. There were a few protests — including one outside the White House on the Saturday when Obama was expected to announce that he had commenced bombing. I was there that day, along with a smattering of conservative and libertarian opponents to another war. The protest was a bit anemic until a couple busloads of ANSWER Coalition activists arrived from Baltimore. They had great signs — “Bombing Syria Doesn’t Protect People — It Kills Them” —and they marched and chanted in unison better than most high-school bands. The US Park Police were unhappy with the protest and rode their horses into the middle of the group. Federal officials came up and threatened to arrest anyone who did not clear away from the street behind the White House. A handful of arrests were made and the crowd simmered down.

But when Obama made his a radio speech to the nation that afternoon, the chanting from the protest could be heard in the background. Obama announced that he was postponing a decision on bombing.

However, in the summer of 2014, the ISIS terrorist group released videos of the beheading of hostages. That provided sufficient cover for Obama to commence bombing that group — and other targets in Syria. The media played its usual lapdog role. A Washington Post headline proclaimed, “Obama the reluctant warrior, cautiously selling a new fight.” So we’re supposed to think the president is a victim of cruel necessity, or what? A New York Times headline announced, “In Airstrikes, US Targets Militant Cell Said to Plot an Attack Against the West.” “Said to” is the perfect term — perhaps sufficient to alert non-brain-dead readers that something may be missing (e.g., evidence). By mid 2016, the Obama administration had dropped almost 50,000 bombs on ISIS forces (or civilians wrongly suspected to be ISIS fighters) in Syria and Iraq. A September 2016 Daily Beast article noted, “In January, the Pentagon admitted to bombing civilians on at least 14 different occasions. In July, an off-target airstrike in northern Syria killed more than 60 people.”

Obama acted as if he was doing God’s work by again bombing the Middle East. But the supposed beneficiaries were not persuaded. On the eve of the 2016 US November election, independent journalist Rania Khalek (who was visiting Syria) tweeted, “I’ve been asking Syrians who they want to win for president. The vast majority say Trump because they feel he’s less likely to bomb them.” Presidential rhetoric was not sufficient compensation for the lives and homes that would be destroyed by the increased onslaughts that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton seemed to promise.

Anti-war or anti-Republican?

Thousands of innocent foreigners were killed by US bombings and drone attacks during the Obama administration. In his 2016 State of the Union address, Obama scoffed at “calls to carpet bomb civilians.” Perhaps he considered it far more prudent to blow up wedding parties instead (as happened during his reign in Yemen and Afghanistan). As long as White House or Pentagon spokesmen announced that the United States was using “precision bombing,” media controversy over innocent victims was blunted, if not completely avoided.

Why did Obama suffer far less backlash than George W. Bush? Salon columnist David Sirota summarized an academic study released in 2013: “Evaluating surveys of more than 5,300 anti-war protestors from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that the many protestors who self-identified as Democrats ‘withdrew from anti-war protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success’ in the 2008 presidential election.”

Sirota noted that the researchers concluded that “during the Bush years, many Democrats were not necessarily motivated to participate in the anti-war movement because they oppose militarism and war — they were instead ‘motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments.’”

There have been plenty of stout critics of US warring in recent years — including Antiwar.com, The Future of Freedom Foundation, Ron Paul, the Mises Institute, and some principled liberals and leftists such as Counterpunch and Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept. But overall, the media spotlight rarely shone on US carnage abroad, as it did in earlier times. Perhaps the anti-war movement will revive if Donald Trump commences bombing new foreign nations. But it is clear that too many Americans have not yet learned the folly of “kill foreigners first, ask questions later.”

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/obamas-awol-antiwar-protest/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/15/obamas-awol-antiwar-protest/ Sat, 15 Jul 2017 13:34:31 GMT
Tucker Carlson, Neocon Slayer Justin Raimondo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/tucker-carlson-neocon-slayer/

Oh, it was glorious fun, yielding the kind of satisfaction that us anti-interventionists rarely get to enjoy: not one but two prominent neoconservatives who have been wrong about everything for the past decade – yet never held accountable – getting taken down on national television. Tucker Carlson, whose show is a shining light of reason in a fast-darkening world, has performed a public service by demolishing both Ralph Peters and Max Boot on successive shows. But these two encounters with evil weren’t just fun to watch, they’re also highly instructive for what they tell us about the essential weakness of the War Party and its failing strategy for winning over the American people.

Tucker’s first victim was Ralph Peters, an alleged “military expert” who’s been a fixture on Fox News since before the Iraq war, of which he was a rabid proponent. Tucker starts out the program by noting that ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have been killed in a Russian airstrike and that the talk in Washington is now moving away from defeating ISIS and focusing on Iran as the principal enemy. He asks why is this? Why not take a moment to celebrate the death of Baghdadi and acknowledge that we have certain common interests with the Russians?

Peters leaps into overstatement, as is his wont: “We can’t have an alliance with terrorists, and the Russians are terrorists. They’re not Islamists, but they are terrorists.” He then alleges that the Russians aren’t really fighting ISIS, but instead are bombing hospitals, children, and “our allies” (i.e. the radical Islamist Syrian rebels trained and funded by the CIA and allied with al-Qaeda and al-Nusra). The Russians “hate the United States,” and “we have nothing in common with the Russians” –nothing!” The Russians, says Peters, are paving the way for the Iranians – the real evil in the region – to “build up an empire from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean.” Ah yes, the “Shia crescent” which the Israelis and their amen corner in the US have been warning against since before the Iraq war. Yet Tucker points out that over 3,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists in the US, and “none of them are Shi’ites: all of [these terrorists] have been Sunni extremists who are supported by the Saudis who are supposed to be our allies.” And while we’re on the subject: “Why,” asks Tucker, “if we’re so afraid of Iran did we kill Saddam Hussein, thereby empowering Iran?”

“Because we were stupid,” says Peters.

Oh boy! Peters was one of the most militant advocates of the Iraq war: we were “stupid,” I suppose, to listen to him. Yet Tucker lets this ride momentarily, saving his big guns for the moment when he takes out Peters completely. And Peters walks right into it when Tucker wonders why we can’t cooperate with Russia, since both countries are under assault from Sunni terrorists:
PETERS: You sound like Charles Lindbergh in 1938 saying Hitler hasn’t attacked us.

TUCKER: I beg your pardon? You cannot compare me to somebody who makes apologies for Hitler. And I don’t think Putin is comparable.

PETERS: I think Putin is.

TUCKER: I think it is a grotesque overstatement actually. I think it’s insane.

PETERS: Fine, you can think it’s insane all you want.
For the neocons, it’s always 1938. The enemy is always the reincarnation of Hitler, and anyone who questions the wisdom of war is denounced as an “appeaser” in the fashion of Neville Chamberlain or Lindbergh. Yet no one ever examines and challenges the assumption behind this rhetorical trope, which is that war with the enemy of the moment – whether it be Saddam Hussein, the Iranian ayatollahs, or Vladimir Putin – is inevitable and imminent. If Putin is Hitler, and Russia is Nazi Germany, then we must take the analogy all the way and assume that we’ll be at war with the Kremlin shortly.

After all, Charles Lindbergh’s opponents in the great debate of the 1940s openly said that Hitler, who posed an existential threat to the West, had to be destroyed, and that this goal could not be achieved short of war. Of course, Franklin Roosevelt pretended that this wasn’t so, and pledged repeatedly that we weren’t going to war, but secretly he manipulated events so that war was practically inevitable. Meanwhile, the more honest elements of the War Party openly proclaimed that we had to aid Britain and get into the war.

Is this what Peters and his gaggle of neocons are advocating – that we go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and annihilate much of the world in a radioactive Armageddon? It certainly seems that way. The Hitler-Lindbergh trope certainly does more than merely imply that.

Clearly riled by the attempt to smear him, Tucker, the neocon slayer, then moves in for the kill:
I would hate to go back and read your columns assuring America that taking out Saddam Hussein will make the region calmer, more peaceful, and America safer, when in fact it has been the opposite and it has empowered Russia and Iran, the two countries you say you fear most – let’s be totally honest, we don’t always know the outcomes.

They are not entirely predictable so maybe we should lower that a little bit rather than calling people accommodationist.
This is what the neocons hate: reminding them of their record is like showing a vampire a crucifix. Why should we listen to Peters, who’s been wrong about everything for decades? Peters’ response is the typical neocon riposte to all honest questions about their policies and record: you’re a traitor, you’re “cheering on Vladimir Putin!” To which Tucker has the perfect America Firster answer:
I’m cheering for America as always. Our interests ought to come first and to the extent that making temporary alliances with other countries serves our interests, I’m in favor of that. Making sweeping moral claims – grotesque ones – comparing people to Hitler advances the ball not one inch and blinds us to reality.
Peters has no real argument, and so he resorts to the method that’s become routine in American politics: accuse your opponent of being a foreign agent. Tucker, says Peters, is an  “apologist” not only for Putin but also for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Again, Tucker answers smears with cold logic:
So because I’m asking rational questions about what’s best for America I’m a friend to strongmen and dictators? That is a conversation stopper, not a beginning of a rational conversation. My only point is when Syria was run by Assad 10% of the population was Christian and they lived in relative peace.
And that’s really the whole point: the War Party wants to stop the conversation. They don’t want a debate – when, really, have we ever had a fair debate in this country over foreign policy? They depend on fear, innuendo, and ad hominem “arguments” to drag us into war after war – and Tucker is having none of it.

So why is any of this important? After all, it’s just a TV show, and as amusing as it is to watch a prominent neocon get creamed, what doe it all mean in the end? Well, it matters because Tucker didn’t start out talking sense on foreign policy. He started out, in short, as a conventional conservative, but then something happened. As he put it to Peters at the end of the segment:
I want to act in America’s interest and stop making shallow, sweeping claims about countries we don’t fully understand and hope everything will be fine in the end. I saw that happen and it didn’t work.
What’s true isn’t self-evident, at least to those of us who aren’t omniscient. Many conservatives, as well as the country as a whole, learned something as they saw the disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria unfold. On the right, many have rejected the neoconservative “idealism” that destroyed the Middle East and unleashed ISIS. When Donald Trump stood before the South Carolina GOP debate and told the assembled mandarins that we were lied into the Iraq war, the chattering classes declared that he was finished – yet he won that primary, and went on to win the nomination, precisely because Republican voters were ready to hear that message.

Indeed, Trump’s “America First” skepticism when it comes to foreign warsmade the crucial difference in the election, as a recent study shows: communities hard hit by our endless wars put him over the top in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This, and not “Russian meddling,” handed him the White House.

Tucker Carlson’s ideological evolution limns the transformation of the American right in the age of Trump: while Trump is not, by a long shot, a consistent anti-interventionist, Tucker comes pretty close. He is, at least, a realist with a pronounced antipathy for foreign adventurism, and that is a big step forward from the neoconservative orthodoxy that has bathed much of the world in blood.

If the demolition of Ralph Peters was the cake, then the meltdown of neoconservative ideologue Max Boot the next evening was the frosting, with ice cream on the side.

Perhaps the neocons, having been trounced in round one, thought Boot could do better: they were mistaken. Tucker took him apart simply by letting him talk: Boot didn’t answer a single question put to him, and, in the course of it all, as Boot resorted to the typical ad hominems, Tucker made a cogent point:
[T]o dismiss people who disagree with you as immoral – which is your habit – isn’t a useful form of debate, it’s a kind of moral preening, and it’s little odd coming from you, who really has been consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade. And so, you have to sort of wonder, like – 

BOOT: What have I been wrong about, Tucker? What have I been wrong about?

CARLSON: Well, having watch you carefully and known you for a long time, I recall vividly when you said that if we were to topple the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the region will be much safer and the people who took their place would help us in the global war on terror. Of course it didn’t happen –
Boot starts to completely melt down at this point, screeching “You supported the Iraq war!” To which Tucker trenchantly replies:
I’ve been wrong about a ton of things, you try to learn your lesson. But when you get out there in the New York Times and say, we really should have done more to depose Qaddafi, because you know, Libya is going to be better when that happens. And then to hear you say we need to knock off the Assad regime and things will be better in Syria, he sort of wonder like, well, maybe we should choose another professions. Selling insurance, something you’re good at. I guess that’s kind of the point. Are there no sanctions for being as wrong as you have?
Why oh why should we listen to Peters and Boot and their fellow neocons, who have been – literally – dead wrong about everything: their crackbrained ideology has led to untold thousands of deaths since September 11, 2001 alone. And for what?

In the end, Boot falls back on the usual non-arguments: Tucker is “immoral” because he denies that Trump is a Russian agent, and persists in asking questions about our foreign policy of endless intervention in the Middle East. Tucker keeps asking why Boot thinks Russia is the main threat to the United States, and Boot finally answers: “Because they are the only country that can destroy us with a nuclear strike.”

To a rational person, the implications of this are obvious: in that case, shouldn’t we be trying to reach some sort of détente, or even achieve a degree of cooperation with Moscow? Oh, but no, because you see the Russians are inherently evil, we have “nothing” in common with them – in which case, war is inevitable.

At which point, Tucker avers: “Okay. I am beginning to think that your judgment has been clouded by ideology, I don’t fully understand where it’s coming from but I will let our viewers decide.”

I know where it’s coming from. Tucker’s viewers may not know that Boot is a Russian immigrant, who – like so many of our Russophobic warmongers – arrived on our shores with his hatred of the motherland packed in his suitcase. There’s a whole platoon of them: Cathy Young, who recently released her polemic arguing for a new cold war with Russia in the pages ofReason magazine; Atlantic writer and tweeter of anti-Trump obscenities Julia Ioffe, whose visceral hatred for her homeland is a veritable monomania; Gary Kasparov, the former chess champion who spends most of his energy plotting revenge against Vladimir Putin and a Russian electorate that has consistently rejected his hopeless presidential campaigns, and I could go on but you get the picture.

As the new cold war envelopes the country, wrapping us in its icy embrace and freezing all rational discussion of foreign policy, a few people stand out as brave exceptions to the groupthinking mass of the chattering classes: among the most visible and articulate are Tucker Carlson, Glenn Greenwald, journalist Michael Tracey, Prof. Stephen Cohen, and of course our own Ron Paul. I tip my hat to them, in gratitude and admiration, for they represent the one thing we need right now: hope. The hope that this madness will pass, that we’ll beat back this latest War Party offensive, and enjoy a return to what passes these days for normalcy.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/tucker-carlson-neocon-slayer/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/tucker-carlson-neocon-slayer/ Fri, 14 Jul 2017 17:09:40 GMT
Aleppo and Mosul: A Tale of Two Liberated Cities Neil Clark http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/aleppo-and-mosul-a-tale-of-two-liberated-cities/

The Iraqi city of Mosul. The Syrian city of Aleppo. Both 'liberated' in recent months from radical jihadist terror groups. But while one anti-terrorist operation has been lauded in the West, the other was fiercely denounced.

The very different ways in which the respective 'liberations' were portrayed tells us much about the way war propaganda works in the so-called free world.

For the last few days we've been fed triumphant reports on western news media about the 'liberation" of Mosul from ISIS. US President Donald Trump issued a White House Statement congratulating the Iraqi authorities in which the words "liberation" or "liberated" appeared three times.

Everyone, it seems, wants to get credit for the successful military operation. The Independent newspaper reported how a Pentagon official said that ISIS had been defeated because of Barack Obama's "training strategies." The liberation of Mosul has been sold to us as a great victory. Which, at face value, it undoubtedly is. Who, after all, would like to see the brutal terrorizing butchers of the Islamic State retain territory? But what’s noticeable is how the cost of ‘liberation’ has been glossed over, even though it has been very high indeed.

Airwars researchers, for instance, estimate that between 900 and 1,200 civilians have been killed by US-led coalition and artillery strikes during the eight-month operation, and that "many hundreds of even thousands more may have died in coalition actions."

Airwars quotes International Red Cross spokesperson Iolanda Jaquemet, who said of the mass civilian casualties: “They come with shrapnel wounds, bleeding even from their eyes, shot in the head, after being buried under the rubble, traumatized by the air strikes, the artillery, the snipers, the bombs, having lost their whole family – and too often, dying on arrival.”

In addition, there’s been the destruction of Mosul’s infrastructure. Around 80 percent of West Mosul has been destroyed. The UN says that more than 5,000 buildings in Mosul have been damaged, and 490 destroyed in the historic Old Town. Mosul may have been "saved," but the cost of rebuilding the city will be enormous. That old line from the Vietnam War that ‘it became necessary to destroy the town to save it’ springs readily to mind.

Yet, President Trump mentioned none of this in his White House Statement. Media reports too have tended to downplay the negatives.

How very different to Aleppo in 2016! Then, the anti-terrorist operation of the Syrian army and Russia, to free the east of the city from al-Qaeda/al-Nusra front control, was roundly condemned. The Mayor of Aleppo told Sky News that a "holocaust" was taking place and blamed the international community for doing nothing. Sky News ran special all-day coverage on 14th October, entitled "Aleppo, Death of a City."

In the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson broke with diplomatic protocol to call for protests outside the Russian Embassy. The lights of the Eiffel Tower were even turned off in a "gesture of support for the people under bombardment in Aleppo."

Prominent media coverage was given to unverified reports from anti-government activists, such as the so-called "White Helmets," that Syrian and Russian forces had targeted civilians. The tweets of an anti-Assad, anti-Putin seven-year-old girl caught up in the battle, Bana Alabed, were publicized by leading western celebrities, such as the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was tweeted by Bana's mother.

"What is happening in Aleppo is a modern-day Guernica," declared Peter Tatchell, who interrupted a speech by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to demand a response. In an emergency Parliamentary debate in London, ashen-faced MPs, who just a year earlier had voted in favor of bombing Syria, lined up to denounce the Syrian authorities and Russia, for, er, bombing Syria. Tory Tom Tugendhat called for a no-fly zone over Aleppo to be imposed. "The helicopters that are dropping barrel bombs could easily be brought down by rockets based in Turkey or Lebanon, or, indeed, by our own type 45s in the Mediterranean," he said.

Fellow Conservative Andrew Mitchell compared Russia’s actions to those of the Nazis: "The Russians are not attacking military formations. They are attacking hospitals and a terrified population."

Pro-war Labour MP John Woodcock concurred with Mitchell. "His comparison with the actions of the Nazi regime and the League of Nations is very powerful," he said. Woodcock lamented that "no-one is standing up to the Russian regime's bombs" and concluded with a rallying call to arms: "Are we going to be a latter-day generation of Neville Chamberlains, or are we going to take courage and act in the manner of the great Winston Churchill?"

In such a climate of warmongering hysteria, those who referred to the "liberation" of Aleppo, like the plucky, Neo-Con-Thought-Police-defying Morning Star newspaper, were rounded on in true McCarthyite style by "liberal interventionists" and Establishment gatekeepers.

"Eastern Aleppo being recaptured by the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad is not 'liberation'. The left must not pretend it is," proclaimed the New Statesman's Media Mole.

"If you associate with this traitorous scum after this front page you've no place in our politics," tweeted a furious John Woodcock.

In fact, contrary to the "Something Must Be Done" elite propaganda, the recapturing of eastern Aleppo from fanatical child-beheading terrorists was indeed a liberation. The "holocaust" we were warned about 24/7 did not happen. On the contrary, there were scenes of unbridled joy when the whole city was brought back under government control. For the first time in five years Christians could attend Christmas Mass in the old city's St Elias Cathedral. Western neocons would, of course, have preferred it if the jihadists had stayed on.

Since December, citizens in Aleppo have been slowly getting their lives back to normal. Thousands have returned to their homes. In fact, the UNHCR reports that almost 500,000 Syrians have gone back to their homes in 2017, returning to areas that are under government control or recaptured from anti-government "rebels." 

Needless to say, that won't be promoted in pro-regime-change media because it doesn't fit with the dominant narrative of Syrians fleeing their government.

How long, I wonder, will it to take for life to get back to anything like normal in Mosul, or Raqqa? The battle for Aleppo was portrayed very differently because the "official enemy" was doing the liberating.

Official enemies - whether it’s the Syrians or Russians, Libyan government forces in 2011, or the Yugoslav Army in 1999 - can never be seen fighting terrorism, or liberating cities/areas in their country from terrorist control. Whenever "they" act, its ALWAYS described as a "genocide" or "holocaust." They deliberately target civilians and bomb hospitals for fun.

However, whenever western "approved" sides kill civilians - whether they are part of a US-led coalition Israeli forces bombing Gaza or Saudis pounding Yemen - it's all justified. Such casualties are "collateral damage" and/or "mistakes." Or, of course, blamed on the "bad guys" for using "human shields." It’s interesting, too, that there’s no equivalent to the White Helmets in Mosul to report on civilians killed by Coalition bombs.

Those who were so outraged by civilian deaths during the military operation to recapture Aleppo don’t seem too concerned about them in Iraq. There’s been no emergency debate in the House of Commons to discuss the death and destruction in Mosul. The Eiffel Tower hasn’t dimmed its lights "in a gesture of support for the people under bombardment." Boris Johnson hasn’t called for any protests. And, to the best of my knowledge, the author of Harry Potter hasn’t been tweeting about children caught up in the "liberation" there as she did so regularly during the "siege" of Aleppo. 

The latest news is that Bana Alabed is to publish a memoir of her time in Aleppo, to be published by Simon and Schuster, a part of the CBS Corporation, in the US this autumn. The publishing  giant acquired the rights to the book from the Blair Partnership, the agent of J.K. Rowling. No doubt a lucrative Hollywood film offer will soon follow.

I think we can safely say that the odds of a big western publishing house giving a contract to an "anti-liberation" seven-year-old Mosul inhabitant, and the resulting book later being made into a Hollywood film, are at least 10,000-1.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/aleppo-and-mosul-a-tale-of-two-liberated-cities/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/july/14/aleppo-and-mosul-a-tale-of-two-liberated-cities/ Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:56:42 GMT