http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:03:35 GMT Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:03:35 GMT US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans Ryan McMaken http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/us-sanctions-against-venezuela-will-hurt-americans/

After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba's communist regime. After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success. Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there. 

But, some people in Washington won't let decades of failure dissuade them.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports
[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act ... would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country's democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly's power is fully restored.

'The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,' Coffman told the Washington Examiner. 'They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can't pay their security forces.'
Experience suggests there is little reason to believe that sanctions will cause the regime to give up in Venezuela. If the regime has less oil money with which to pay the military, the regime can always steal more from the average citizen to make up the difference. In other words, ordinary Venezuelans will suffer more in response to US sanctions. 

Moreover, aggressive moves such as these against the Venezuelan regime have tended to only solidify support for the regime among its supporters. Both the current president Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, were both successful in building support for themselves on a platform of opposing US meddling in Venezuelan political and economic institutions. 

When the US threatens to intervene in local politics, this only strengthens the resolve and support of the regime's supporters.

The US has already been acting in a reckless manner in this regard, as illustrated by President Donald Trump's recent speculations about invading Venezuela to effect regime change. As noted by Daniel Politi at Slate, American threats directed at the Venezuelan regime do nothing to help the opposition:
Throughout his power grab that has accompanied Venezuela’s descent into chaos, Maduro has long warned the United States was planning to invade the country. Trump’s words seemed to play straight into his narrative, recalling a time when Washington saw Latin America as its backyard where it could intimidate governments into doing its bidding. 'Maduro must be thrilled right now,' said Mark Feierstein, who was a senior aide on Venezuela to former president Barack Obama. 'It's hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say.'
Similarly, threatening Venezuela with more sanctions — something that may make the regime even more violent and desperate — do nothing to help the Venezuelan people in general, and only energize the regime's base.

Coffman claims the sanctions would be lifted if the Venezuelan regime were to restore the prerogatives and power of the national legislature, which has essentially been disbanded by Maduro.

In recent months, the Venezuelan regime has rapidly become more dictatorial as forces loyal to Maduro have increasingly clamped down on opposition politicians and essentially ignored the results of recent elections that have brought many opposition leaders to power in the National Assembly.

The working philosophy here, apparently, is that the imposition of sanctions will force the Venezuelan regime to democratize in response. One would be hard pressed to find examples of similar tactics actually working, however.

More astute observers might also ask why — if Coffman is so committed to democracy — he hasn't called for similar embargoes of Saudi Arabian oil. The Saudi regime, of course, has been a dictatorship ever since its founding, sponsors international terrorism, and tolerates no religious freedom or freedom of speech. The Saudi regime, for instance, routinely arrests critics of the regime, and the regime's spokesman has outright denied that elections should be allowed in Saudi Arabia.

If human rights are of such pressing concern to the Congressman, its unclear why Venezuela is at the top of the sanctions list. 

As with any discussion of sanctions, of course, we need not even consider the strategic futility of sanctions, or the morality of foreign regimes.

Far from being a matter only of concern to foreigners, US sanctions are built on the cornerstone of limiting the freedoms of Americans.

As I noted earlier in regards to the Cuban embargo
[S]upporting an embargo means supporting the government when it fines, prosecutes, and jails peaceful citizens who attempt to engage in truly free trade. Support for an embargo also requires support for a customs bureaucracy that spies on merchants and consumers, and the whole panoply of enforcement programs necessary to punish those who run afoul of the government’s arbitrary pronouncements on what kind of trade is acceptable, and what kind is verboten. Naturally, this is all paid for by the taxpayers...

At their heart, embargoes are nothing but a specific type of prohibition. Sometimes, the government imposes prohibitions on transactions involving certain goods, such as cannabis. Other times, the prohibition extends to all transactions with people in a certain place. The fundamentals are the same, however, in that they prohibit peaceful exchange, with heavy penalties for violators.
In the case of a new embargo against Venezuela, the effect would be to place prohibitions on American importers, and thus drive up prices for oil and energy for all Americans. Government bureaucrats would be dispatched to monitor private industry to make sure they don't violate the prohibitions. Government agents will impose fines, and make arrests if necessary. The American government will become more powerful at the expense of American consumers and American taxpayers.

Indeed, this has already been going on with smaller-scale sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Citgo oil refineries. Thanks to the sanctions, Citgo refineries in the US, which constitute four percent of American fuel capacity, and which employ American workers, are finding it more costly to obtain the oil they need for the refineries. Both domestic and foreign suppliers must scramble to work around the new regulations in order to avoid fines and lawsuits from government regulators who oversee trade. The effect of this will be to put pressure on more marginal employees and on more marginal operations, leading to layoffs and diminished refining capacity. Ultimately, it is Americans who will pay the price.

Reprinted with permission from Mises.org.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/us-sanctions-against-venezuela-will-hurt-americans/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/us-sanctions-against-venezuela-will-hurt-americans/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:03:35 GMT
Let Catalonia Decide http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/let-catalonia-decide/

Should Catalonia be independent?

Surely Catalans, and nobody else, must answer that question. Some Catalans consider themselves Spanish and some don’t. Many Spaniards consider Catalonia part of Spain, while some don’t. But it’s clear that a significant number of Catalans feel politically conquered, and resent it. Why should they live under a Spanish government, when their history, culture, and language are not Spanish?

It’s a fair question, and one for which western democracies have no easy answer. If democratic voting is sacrosanct, are the results also sacrosanct, whatever the outcome? Do democrats really want democracy?

Ludwig von Mises summed up the problem succinctly in Liberalism1:
The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest.
Surely many Hillary Clinton voters in the United States feel this way today. They don’t consider Trump a legitimate president (even aside from the electoral college issue), and are not particularly interested in respecting election results or the views of Trump voters. They feel “their” government not only does not represent them, but is actively hostile toward them.

They feel, in short, like many Catalans.

Understanding any region’s local politics and history is always a dangerous proposition for outsiders. Catalonia has a messy and complex past, dating back to the late 15th century and the nascent Kingdom of Spain. Momentum for independence from Madrid gathered throughout the 20th century, culminating in a 2014 referendum which the Spanish central government attempted to block in court. Over 80 percent of voters supported independence, yet only about a third of Catalans participated in the vote. It is unclear whether a scheduled October 1st vote on a new referendum will happen, given the possibility of Spanish criminal charges against the Catalan politicians behind it.

Should Secession Be Allowed for Groups We Disagree With? 

There are also very serious questions about what an independent Catalonia would mean, not only for economically wobbly Spain but also neighboring France and the EU.

Marta Hidalgo, a Spanish financial adviser and 2017 Mises University graduate, argues that Catalonia is Spain. She questions the region’s historical claims to independence, arguing that Catalan nationalism has been fraught with propaganda from those seeking to make a political movement out of a minority sentiment. She also points out that Spain is Catalonia’s principal market, propping up the Catalan economy through duties and tariffs on (otherwise) cheaper and better imports from England or Germany. And she stresses polls showing only about 2 million out of 7.5 million Catalans support secession.

But these arguments don’t address the fundamental underlying issue of self-determination. Should Catalans be allowed to make their own decisions, even if those decisions are “bad,” and we (or Spain or the EU) disagree with them?

Yes, some people would be worse off under an independent Catalan state — assuming Ms. Hidalgo is correct. But by the same token, some Spaniards may be objectively better off as a result of becoming unyoked politically from Catalonia. It’s a complex factual question, and both sides have arguments.

But whether an independent Catalonia would be better off or worse off is highly subjective, and simply not for us to decide.

Self-Determination Is the Highest Political End

For libertarians, self-determination is the highest political end. In political terms, self-determination is liberty. In an ideal world, self-determination extends all the way to the individual, who enjoys complete political sovereignty over his or her life. The often misued term for this degree of complete self-determination is anarchy.

In an imperfect world, however, libertarians should support smaller and more decentralized governments as a pragmatic step toward greater liberty. Our goal should be to devolve political power whenever possible, making states less powerful and easier to avoid. Barcelona is less ominous than Madrid. The Legislature in a US state is less fearsome than Congress in Washington DC. Street gangs are bad, but they can be avoided in ways Uncle Sam cannot.

Ultimately, the argument in favor of Catalonian independence mirrors the argument for Scottish independence in 2014:
Some … libertarians claimed that we should oppose the referendum on the grounds that it would create a new government, and thus two states would exist in the place of one. But reducing the size and scope of any single state’s dominion is healthy for liberty, because it leads us closer to the ultimate goal of self-determination at the individual level, to granting each of us sovereignty over our lives. It’s always good to reduce the number of individuals over which any government asserts authority.

Furthermore, some conservatives argue that we should not support secession movements where the breakaway movement is likely to create a government that is more “liberal” than the one it replaces. This was the case in Scotland, where younger Scots who supported the independence referendum in greater numbers hoped to create strong ties with the EU parliament in Brussels and build a Scandinavian-style welfare state run from Holyrood (never mind that Tories in London were overjoyed at the prospect of jettisoning a huge number of Labour supporters!).

But if support for the principle of self-determination is to have any meaning whatsoever, it must allow for others to make decisions with which we disagree. Political competition can only benefit all of us. What neither progressives nor conservatives understand — or worse, maybe they do understand — is that secession provides a mechanism for real diversity, a world where we are not all yoked together. It provides a way for people with widely divergent views and interests to live peaceably as neighbors instead of suffering under one commanding central government that pits them against each other.
So let Catalonia go, if it chooses.

Reprinted with permission from the Mises Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/let-catalonia-decide/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/20/let-catalonia-decide/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:39:17 GMT
The US Has New Red Line in Syria — And It’s...Ridiculous! Darius Shahtahmasebi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/the-us-has-new-red-line-in-syria-and-it-sridiculous/

In its latest breach of international law, the U.S. is unilaterally attempting to prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming its own territory. From Reuters:
US-backed Syrian militias will not let government forces cross the Euphrates River in their bid to recover eastern Syria, their commander said on Friday, but Russia said army units had already done so near the city of Deir al-Zor.
Reuters notes that Russia is involved in this particular part of Syria, bolstering the Syrian Arab Army and its allies with air power.

According to Reuters, an aide to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, said the government would fight any force that comes within its path, including U.S.-backed forces. According to Deir ez-Zor military council commander Ahmed Abu Khawla, who fights under the banner of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF):
Now we have 3 km between us and the eastern riverbank, once our forces reach the area, any shot fired into that area we will consider an attack on the military council.
He added:
We have notified the regime and Russia that we are coming to the Euphrates riverbank, and they can see our forces advancing…We do not allow the regime or its militias to cross to the eastern riverbank.
The “Deir ez-Zor military council” was established under the banner of the US-backed SDF as recently as December 2016. This was arguably a poor attempt to legitimize Washington’s aspirations for the oil-rich region. In actuality, 4,000 fighters backed by foreign powers can hardly be a more legitimate force than the current Syrian government and its forces, but as is usually the case, the United States is not remotely concerned with the legality of this current strategy.

According to Reuters, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the SAA had already crossed the Euphrates, making a difficult scenario for America’s ambitions in the region. Not only is the Syrian army ignoring Washington’s directions, Russia is apparently unfazed by these developments, as well.

Unsurprisingly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov just held aphone call to discuss Syria, presumably to try to come to some agreement about the partition of the region.

Why Russia and Syria should concede Syrian territory to the US and its allies has not been made clear given the land belongs to Syria in the first place. The corporate media’s longstanding anti-Assad narrative was undermined when the U.N. reported that 500,000 Syrians had begun returning home to areas liberated by the Syrian army in the first half of 2017 alone.

The U.S. media has also downplayed the fact that Russia is backing one side of this conflict and the US is backing another — even though this emerging conflict puts 900 US personnel directly at risk. What happens if and when the Syrian army decides it wants to defend itself from the U.S.-backed forces? Will the Russian and American air forces collide – or will the situation be successfully de-escalated?

That is a question no one seems prepared to answer — and that no one is even willing to discuss. The ‘trusted’ media outlets who do touch on the issue tend to fully support the United States’ bid to interfere further in Syria.

Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/the-us-has-new-red-line-in-syria-and-it-sridiculous/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/the-us-has-new-red-line-in-syria-and-it-sridiculous/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:46:23 GMT
President Trump To Unleash The CIA Drones Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/president-trump-to-unleash-the-cia-drones/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/president-trump-to-unleash-the-cia-drones/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/president-trump-to-unleash-the-cia-drones/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:49:58 GMT
Korea Solution Needs US to Sign a Peace Treaty Finian Cunningham http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/korea-solution-needs-us-to-sign-a-peace-treaty/

Germany and France have backed the stance of Russia and China for negotiations to avert the Korea crisis. South Korea and Japan also seem to be amenable to recent calls by Russian President Vladimir Putin for exclusively diplomatic efforts. Any other option in the alarming standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program portends disaster. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has endorsed the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran as a model for possible negotiations.

That puts the United States on the margin of international consensus, with its repeated threats to use military force as an option against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Last week, following another North Korean ballistic missile test that overflew Japan, US President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser reiterated Washington’s self-declared right to use pre-emptive military force, tacitly including the deployment of nuclear weapons.

"For those who have been commenting on a lack of a military option, there is a military option," said General HR McMaster to reporters in Washington.

While McMaster and President Trump, as well as Pentagon chief James Mattis, have said on other occasions that the US would prefer to seek a diplomatic solution to the Korea crisis, such purported preferences do not inspire confidence.

For a start, the whole doctrine of "pre-emptive" or "preventive" war is a violation of international law, if not outrightly criminal. The concept was earlier formulated by Nazi Germany as a pretext for aggression, and was duly criminalized at the Nuremberg Trials. Today, the United States stands alone as the only nation to invoke the self-declared prerogative to use military violence in "self-defense."

Also, when Washington talks about a "diplomatic solution" what it is referring to is a unilateral "denuclearization" by North Korea. There is absolutely no indication from the US that it reciprocates a responsibility to stand down its "overwhelming" military power aimed at the Korean Peninsula. Thus, what Washington means by "peace" is a one-sided surrender by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

For this reason, international calls for diplomacy and negotiations have to be underpinned by a proper foundational premise.

The proper starting point is for the US to finally sign a full peace treaty with North Korea to mark the definitive end of the Korean War. It seems almost bizarre that 64 years after the end of that war (1950-53), the US refuses to commit to a peace treaty. The matter is hardly permitted into public discourse by the US government and Western news media. Even though the issue is key to finding a peaceful solution.

The absence of a binding peace settlement means that, technically, the US and North Korea still view each other at being in a state of war. This gives profound substance to North Korea’s existential fears over the US continually conducting "war games" around the peninsula.

Former US President Jimmy Carter and former US ambassador to South Korea James Laney have both recognized the fundamental onus on Washington of now, at last, having to abide by international norms towards Korea.

The US-based Campaign to End the Korean War quotes ambassador Laney as saying: "One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War. A peace treaty would provide a baseline for relationships, eliminating the question of the other’s legitimacy and its right to exist. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy. Only with a treaty in place will both sides be relieved of the political demand to see each move as conferring approval or not."

Nevertheless, despite these reasonable voices from within the US, the dominant position of Washington is one of strong-arming North Korea  to capitulate to American demands – or face the threat of catastrophic military force.

Such an American position is totally unacceptable to international norms. Russia, China and Europe must take a firm stand and let Washington know in no uncertain terms that its unilateralism is unacceptable, and at worst, a reckless collision course for a nuclear war.

Diplomats from Russia and China last week both condemned US threats of violence against North Korea, as well as censuring Pyongyang for its missile tests.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, pointed out that the latest UN resolution 2375 voted on September 11 explicitly calls on all parties, including the United States, to re-engage in multilateral talks. Those talks involving North Korea were abandoned during the GW Bush administration more than a decade ago. How is that dereliction of diplomacy by Washington even remotely acceptable?

But, again, the push for diplomacy and negotiations must be founded on a proper and viable premise.

This is where German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal to pursue a P5+1 formula comes unstuck. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in July 2015 between the US, Russia, China, Europe and Iran has been continually undermined by the Trump administration.

Iran committed to stringent limits on its nuclear energy program in return for sanctions relief. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has filed seven reports since January 2016 confirming Iran’s full compliance with the JCPOA.

Yet, the Trump administration is threatening to scrap its participation in the internationally binding nuclear accord with Iran. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made the wholly irrational claim that Iran’s "technical compliance" with the JCPOA is not enough. He and US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, have said that Iran "is not living up to the spirit of the deal." Absurdly, Washington is claiming that Iran’s support for the Syrian state in its war to defeat US-backed terror groups is grounds for resiling from the JCPOA.

President Trump has called it the "worst deal ever." He said that a White House review due next month may finally signal the US walking away from it. If that happens, Washington will be able to reimpose sanctions on Iran, and extend those sanctions to Europe, Russia and China for doing legitimate business with the Islamic Republic.

Clearly, the US rulers cannot be trusted. If they cannot comply with obligations under an international legal agreement, which has been ratified by the UN Security Council, then any residual trust in US diplomacy is completely shattered.

North Korea has no doubt taken note of the US bad faith over Iran. Pyongyang has already pointed to the grim fate of Iraq and Libya which were invaded and destroyed by the US when it became evident neither possessed chemical or nuclear weapons.

Western corporate news media tend to portray North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "crazy." The reality is that Kim would be crazy if he were to somehow surrender the country’s nuclear weapons under prevailing conditions.

Washington’s hints at diplomacy are threadbare and have no credibility. Any proposed negotiations to genuinely resolve the Korean crisis must start with the US signing a peace treaty with North Korea and foreswearing the use of any military force. Any other format is bereft of confidence building, as the Iranian nuclear deal is unfortunately showing.

A declaration by the US that the Korean War is over is a bare minimum requirement in order to begin peace and security talks. Even then it still not failsafe given Washington’s perfidy.

However, anything less than a peace treaty signed by the US is not feasible to end the spiral of conflict over Korea.

Incredible as it seems, the demand on the US is to simply abide by international law and to stop using aggression as a foreign policy. How damning is that.

Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/korea-solution-needs-us-to-sign-a-peace-treaty/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/19/korea-solution-needs-us-to-sign-a-peace-treaty/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:18:28 GMT
Scandal: The Pentagon's $2 Billion Underground Syria Weapons Pipeline Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/scandal-the-pentagons-2-billion-underground-syria-weapons-pipeline/ investigative report exposes the lies and illegality of the purchases and shipments; several mainstream investigations corroborate the Bulgarian report. Investigative Reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva joins the Liberty Report to explain her findings -- and why they got her interrogated and fired:

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/scandal-the-pentagons-2-billion-underground-syria-weapons-pipeline/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/scandal-the-pentagons-2-billion-underground-syria-weapons-pipeline/ Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:01:25 GMT
America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup Stephen Kinzer http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/america-s-slow-motion-military-coup/

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

Given the president’s ignorance of world affairs, the emergence of a military junta in Washington may seem like welcome relief. After all, its three members are mature adults with global experience — unlike Trump and some of the wacky political operatives who surrounded him when he moved into the White House. Already they have exerted a stabilizing influence. Mattis refuses to join the rush to bomb North Korea, Kelly has imposed a measure of order on the White House staff, and McMaster pointedly distanced himself from Trump’s praise for white nationalists after the violence in Charlottesville.

Being ruled by generals seems preferable to the alternative. It isn’t.

Military officers, like all of us, are products of their background and environment. The three members of Trump’s junta have 119 years of uniformed service between them. They naturally see the world from a military perspective and conceive military solutions to its problems. That leads toward a distorted set of national priorities, with military “needs” always rated more important than domestic ones.

Fair use excerpt. Read the rest here.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/america-s-slow-motion-military-coup/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/america-s-slow-motion-military-coup/ Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:50:02 GMT
Rand Paul's Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/rand-pauls-senate-vote-rolls-back-the-warfare-state/

Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reminded Congress that in matters of war, they have the authority and the responsibility to speak for the American people. Most Senators were not too happy about the reminder, which came in the form of a forced vote on whether to allow a vote on his amendment to repeal the Afghanistan and Iraq war resolutions of 2001 and 2002.

It wasn’t easy. Sen. Paul had to jump through hoops just to get a vote on whether to have a vote.

That is how bad it is in Congress! Not only does Congress refuse to rein in presidents who treat Constitutional constraints on their war authority as mere suggestions rather than as the law of the land, Congress doesn’t even want to be reminded that they alone have war authority.

Congress doesn’t even want to vote on whether to vote on war!

In the end, Sen. Paul did not back down and he got his vote. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that nearly 40 percent of the Senate voted with Rand to allow a vote on repealing authority for the two longest wars in US history. I expected less than a dozen “no” votes on tabling the amendment and was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Last week, Rand said, "I don't think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago ... authorized war in seven different countries."

Are more Senators starting to see the wars his way? We can only hope so. As polls continue to demonstrate, the American people have grown tired of our interventionist foreign policy, which burns through trillions of dollars while making the world a more dangerous place rather than a safer place.

Some might argue that losing the vote was a defeat. I would disagree. For the first time in years we saw US Senators on the Senate Floor debating whether the president should have authority to take the US to war anywhere he pleases. Even with just the small number of votes I thought we might have gotten on the matter, that alone would have been a great victory. But getting almost 40 percent of the Senate to vote our way? I call that a very good start!

The first step toward rebalancing the separation of powers is for Congress to re-assert its authority and responsibility for declaring war. To this point, Congress has preferred to transfer its war responsibility to the president.

The second step, once Congress understands its obligations, is to convince our representatives that war was not designed to be the first choice in foreign policy, but rather to be the last resort when we are under attack or when a direct attack is imminent!

Just because Congress decides to approve the use of force does not mean that the war is just, justified, or wise. Congress is just as susceptible to war propaganda as the rest of America and unfortunately it is dominated by the false opinion that if you are not enthusiastic about US military solutions to disputes overseas then you are not being tough enough. In fact, it takes far more strength to exercise restraint in the face of the constant war propaganda and disinformation coming from the media and the neocons.

We have achieved a small victory last week, thanks to Senator Paul. But we still have a lot of work to do! We must keep the pressure on and convert more to the cause of peace and prosperity!]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/rand-pauls-senate-vote-rolls-back-the-warfare-state/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/18/rand-pauls-senate-vote-rolls-back-the-warfare-state/ Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:42:43 GMT
Accused of War Crimes, Saudis Investigate Themselves and Find No Wrongdoing Carey Wedler http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/16/accused-of-war-crimes-saudis-investigate-themselves-and-find-no-wrongdoing/

Amid international calls for an independent inquiry into Saudi war crimes in Yemen, the Kingdom has investigated itself and found it has done nothing wrong.

Countries including China, the Netherlands, and Canada have pushed forward with a U.N. Human Rights Council draft resolution to establish an independent investigation into Saudi war crimes against civilians in the small war-torn nation of Yemen.

This week, Human Rights Watch also accused the coalition of committing war crimes.

Though these allegations have been circulating and documented for years, little has been done to stop the Saudi attacks, and the Saudis and their U.S. and Arab allies have worked to undermine efforts to uncover wrongdoing.

“The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict,” U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva this week.

The U.N. has documented 5,144 civilian deaths, mainly from the Saudi-led coalition.

The Saudis said they did not object to the current push for an inquiry but claimed it was bad timing. According to Abdulaziz al-Wasil, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Geneva:
We have no objection (to) the inquiry itself, we just have a discussion about the timing.Whether this is the right time to establish an international commission with the difficulties on the ground, and we knew in advance that they will face tremendous obstacles in terms of access.
In the meantime, the Saudi government has set up its own panel to investigate potential war crimes and misconduct. Reuters reported on the Saudi panel’s findings, noting it concluded that “a series of deadly air strikes largely [was] justified, citing the presence of armed militiamen at the homes, schools and clinics that were targeted.”

Reuters continued:
The Joint Incidents Assessment Team said on Tuesday it had discovered mistakes in only three of 15 incidents it reviewed, and maintained the coalition had acted in accordance with international humanitarian law. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long been running the coalition fighting in Yemen as the country’s defense minister, a title he still retains.
The panel’s legal advisor, Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour, told journalists this week that, in one example, the Saudi coalition struck a water welling drill after mistaking it for a ballistic missile launcher.

However, the Saudis have been criticized for their longstanding pattern of targeting critical infrastructures such as agriculture, warehouses, and hospitals – in far more than just fifteen incidents. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claimed in early 2016 that the Saudis had attacked hospitals in more than 100 incidents, ultimately scaring Yemenis away from seeking medical help. The coalition has also been implicated in the cholera epidemic that has infected over half a million people since April.

The United States and the United Kingdom are complicit in this targeting of Yemen, which the Saudis view as a proxy war against Iran as they attempt to reinstate a former ruler who was ousted by Houthi rebels, a group they are now fighting. There is minimal evidence that Iran is backing the Houthis.

In addition to arming the Saudis with billions of dollars worth of weapons, which are being used to commit the alleged war crimes in Yemen, the western nations have military officials in the Saudi command room in control of air strikes.

British officials even schemed with the Saudis to paradoxically secure the repressive regime a spot on the U.N.’s human rights council. The U.S. remains a staunch Saudi backer at the U.N., as well, expressing opposition to the independent inquiry introduced this week.

Like the Saudis, the U.S. has brushed off civilian casualties at the hands of their military. In accusing the Saudis of war crimes this week, Human Rights Watch also called on U.S. lawmakers to curb the killing. They wrote:
So far, the US government has been content to keep the weapons to Riyadh flowing so long as Saudi Arabia pretends it’s been fighting a clean war. But its empty promises have proved devastating – and deadly – for Yemeni civilians.

Congress should make clear the US is no longer willing to be complicit in Saudi war crimes.
Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/16/accused-of-war-crimes-saudis-investigate-themselves-and-find-no-wrongdoing/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/16/accused-of-war-crimes-saudis-investigate-themselves-and-find-no-wrongdoing/ Sat, 16 Sep 2017 14:14:22 GMT
Afghanistan - US Resolved To Repeat Failures Moon of Alabama http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/afghanistan-us-resolved-to-repeat-failures/

The US military and political leadership is so devoid of learning capability that it does not fight multiyear long wars. Instead it fights one disconnected campaign after the other on the very same battlefield. Each of these campaigns will repeat the mistakes that previous ones made and will have the same outcome.

Thus we have seen several increases in troop numbers in Afghanistan. Each time such a surge happened under Bush, under Obama and now under Trump, the result was an increase in Taliban activity and success.

We have seen the use of local militia forces fail under Obama when these were called Afghan Local Police. The 20,000 men strong ALP was supposedly "trained" to hold land against the Taliban. But the local police groups turned out to be local gangs who, thanks to their "official" status, could rob, rap and kill people without fear of retaliation. The suppressed population then turned to the Taliban for relief.

The idea to create such a local force was so bad that it is time to repeat it:
The American military has turned to the [idea of a local militia] force as a potential model for how to maintain the Afghan government’s waning control — without too high a cost — in difficult parts of Afghanistan at a time when the Taliban are resurgent. 
...
The size of the new force is yet to be finalized, but it could number more than 20,000, according to a senior Afghan official 
...
While the senior Afghan official insisted that only the conceptual framework of the force has been agreed to, and that details were still being sorted out, several Western officials said that preparations were already underway to pilot the new force in southern districts of Nangarhar Province.
We can predict with confidence that a year from now those very same districts of Nangarhar province will again staunchly support the Taliban.

In 2001 the CIA and US special forces kicking out the Taliban with the support of northern alliance war-criminals. Arial bombing based on partisan information continued for years. After their defeat the Taliban had given up on ruling the country. They offered to dissolve in exchange for amnesty and an end of the war. But the bombing, often on direction of some local wannabe strongman, continued. Many people not involved with the Taliban or any resistance were killed and maimed. Their communities called out for help. The Taliban revived and came back to fight the invaders.

For a while the indiscriminate, unaccountable bombing seemed to calm down. But the insurgency, once revived, continued. Time then to repeat and expand the scheme - if only under a different logo and in more countries:
The CIA is pushing for expanded powers to carry out covert drone strikes in Afghanistan and other active war zones, a proposal that the White House appears to favor despite the misgivings of some at the Pentagon, according to current and former intelligence and military officials.
More indiscriminate bombing will obviously lead to more resistance and more war.

An argument can be made that the US military and intelligence complex is willfully and systematically creating new enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere to justify the continuation of its campaigns.

But that argument presume that there is sufficient intellectual capacity in the Pentagon and CIA to develop and follow such a design. Arrogance, bureaucratic inertia and lack of curiosity are the simpler and maybe more likely explanations.

Reprinted with permission from the Moon of Alabama.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/afghanistan-us-resolved-to-repeat-failures/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/afghanistan-us-resolved-to-repeat-failures/ Fri, 15 Sep 2017 15:20:18 GMT
Janet Reno: Saint or Tyrant? James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/janet-reno-saint-or-tyrant/

When former Attorney General Janet Reno died last November, the media heaped praise on her as if she had been justice incarnate. Reno had long enjoyed sainthood inside the Beltway; the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia even created a Janet Reno Torchbearer Award. But Reno’s record of deceit, brutality, and power grabs should not be forgotten by any American who cares about freedom.

Shortly after Reno became attorney general in 1993, she approved the FBI final assault on the Branch Davidians holed up in a rickety building outside of Waco, Texas. She went on Nightline the evening after 80 people died in a conflagration and announced, “I made the decision. I’m accountable. The buck stops with me.” Reno then asserted that the fiery end was all somebody else’s fault: “I don’t think anybody has ever dealt with a David Koresh, who would purposely set people afire in that number.” Nightline host Ted Koppel asked Reno why the feds used “tanks to ram the compound down.” Reno replied, “I think that what we were trying to do was to give everybody an opportunity to come out in the most unobtrusive way possible, not with a frontal assault.”

Reno masterminded a cover-up of the federal role at Waco. Americans did not learn until 1999 that the FBI had fired pyrotechnic grenades into the Davidians’ home, which could have started the fire that left 80 people dead. She also muzzled federal officials who had been involved at Waco. When she traveled to Oklahoma to hype Clinton’s crime bill in a speech in April 1994, FBI agent Bob Ricks, who had been the agency’s daily spokesman during the 51-day siege, told Reno that many people were still agitated by Waco and asked that the gag order be lifted on himself and other officials. Reno replied, “I don’t think the American people care about Waco anymore.”

The Oklahoma City bombing the following April showed otherwise. In a speech a few weeks later, Reno told federal law-enforcement agents, “There is much to be angry about when we talk about Waco — and the government’s conduct is not the reason. David Koresh is the reason.” She also revealed that the “first and foremost” reason for the tank and gas assault was that “law-enforcement agents on the ground concluded that the perimeter had become unstable and posed a risk both to them and to the surrounding homes and farms. Individuals sympathetic to Koresh were threatening to take matters into their own hands to end the stalemate, were at various times reportedly on the way.” This new “first and foremost” reason was a convenient ex post facto rationale after the Oklahoma City bombing. There was no evidence that FBI agents faced real threats from an uprising during the Waco siege. Previously, Reno had justified the final assault because she heard children were being abused.

That terrorist attack helped propel congressional hearings on Waco — the first time that Congress had seriously examined the carnage (thanks to the Republican takeover of Congress in the 1994 elections). Reno testified on August 1, 1995. In response to a specific question about why the FBI tanks began destroying the building before the fire, Reno responded, “I share your frustration when you have such a tragedy as this, and you try to figure out what to do in the future to avoid the recurrence of it, not in an experiment, but in a thoughtful way.”

The confidential FBI report that Reno received before approving the attack stated that the impact of the CS gas on “infants and children cannot be ignored because gas masks are not available for infants and younger children.” When Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) presented Reno with a gas mask to illustrate the point that it could not have fit children, Reno casually tossed the gas mask onto the floor and announced that “it’s not very helpful, in terms of trying to understand what happened there, to just show gas masks. We’ve got to show the people what went into the process.” And Reno continued ensuring that damning information did not come out.

The highlight of Reno’s testimony was her revelation that the 54-ton tanks that smashed through the Davidian ramshackle home should not be considered as military vehicles — instead, they were “like a good rent-a-car.” When she was challenged on this, she added, “These tanks were not armed. They were not military weapons. And I think it is important, Mr. Chairman, as you deal with this issue, not to make statements like that that can cause the confusion.” Reno later added that it would be wrong to focus on the “menacing quality” of the tanks, since “those tanks had been around. People [inside] knew about the tanks. I think they were very accustomed to the tanks, at that point.” But the Davidians were not accustomed to the tanks’ flattening their home.

Trashing free speech and privacy

In October 1993, Reno, upholding a long tradition of attorney generals in the forefront of sabotaging the Constitution, called for government censorship of television violence. In Senate testimony, she warned, “If immediate voluntary steps are not taken [by television producers] and deadlines established, government should respond and respond immediately. We must move forward to set a schedule for compliance with proper standards, or government should set those standards.” Reno did not say when she would be sending in the SWAT teams to take down Beavis and Butthead. But her intimidation tactics ensured her a tidal wave of positive press as a person who truly cared about children.

In 1996 Congress passed and Bill Clinton signed the Communications Decency Act. The measure would have effectively curtailed all sexual expression on the Internet, imposing a two-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine for anyone who engaged in speech that was “indecent” or “patently offensive” on the Internet if his words might somehow be viewed by children. A three-judge panel found the law “profoundly repugnant” to the First Amendment. Despite the setback, Reno defended the law. She declared in early 1997:
But one of the points we have to remember is, if you have an absolutely incredible technology that … provides new and incredible opportunities for learning, for communication, and for understanding, it also has incredible opportunities to put stuff on there that can be damaging, harmful, and hurtful, particularly to children. We have seen the problem that exists in this country of children who are unsupervised for many hours of the day…. We have got to design a system that can ensure the availability of this marvelous tool without damaging the children that will have access. And I think that there are ways and effective means, and I think that this will be the basis of the argument.
Reno was referring to the argument that Justice Department lawyers made before the Supreme Court to defend the law’s draconian penalties. NewsBytes summarized the government’s argument before the Supreme Court: “In the brief, the government asserts that a fear of encountering ‘indecency’ online could deter potential users from exercising their First Amendment interest in accessing the new medium.” An ACLU lawyer commented, “It is supremely ironic that the government now says it is protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans by threatening people with jail for engaging in constitutionally protected speech.” The Supreme Court trounced the Justice Department, ruling the law unconstitutional.

Reno was the chief law-enforcement officer of an administration that vastly expanded illegal government spying on private citizens. In 2000, controversy erupted over “Carnivore,” the FBI’s email wiretap software that allowed the agency to vacuum up vast amounts of private email — regardless of whether the feds had a search warrant. FBI officials “explained” the program’s ominous name by stressing that they never thought the public would learn of the program’s existence. Janet Reno took charge by announcing she would require the FBI to change Carnivore’s name.

Nonviolent machine guns

The highlight of Reno’s final year in power was an immigration raid by 130 federal agents in Miami’s Little Havana section on April 22. The raid went pretty much as planned — the agents seized six-year-old Elián Gonzalez and left shattered doors, a broken bed, roughed-up Cuban-Americans, and two NBC cameramen writhing in pain from stomach kicks or rifle-butts to the head. The only problem: Associated Press stringer Alan Diaz snapped a photo of a Border Patrol agent pointing his submachine gun towards the terrified boy being held by the fisherman who initially rescued the boy out of the Atlantic Ocean.

Reno called a press conference a few hours after the raid and, when asked about the photo, replied, “One of the beauties of television is that it shows exactly what the facts are. And as I understand it, if you look at it carefully, it shows that the gun was pointed to the side, and that the finger was not on the trigger.” Yet, the photo clearly shows a gun pointed towards the fisherman; admittedly, the muzzle of the gun was not in the boy’s mouth. The Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun sprays 800 rounds a minute — and a finger a half-inch away from the trigger means nothing. The agent did not even have both hands on the machine gun: if the weapon had fired, he would have had no control over where the bullets sprayed. Two days later, during a puff-piece interview on NBC Today, Reno declared, “One of the things that is so very important is that the force was not used. It was a show of force that prevented people from getting hurt.” That would be news to the NBC cameraman who was hospitalized after the raid after being smashed in the head with a rifle-butt.

The reaction to the raid epitomized the media’s coverage of Reno’s term as Attorney General. The Washington Post ran a laudatory article on how Reno had supposedly personally ensured that not all journalists would be beaten during the raid. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, in an article headlined, “Reno for President,” declared that the machine-gun photo “warmed my heart” and that it should be put “up in every visa line in every U.S. consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: ‘America is a country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people will go to preserve it.’” But the feds’ mandate to seize Elián and send him back to Cuba was legally shaky and they pretty much ignored the “knock and announce” rule for carrying out a search warrant.

Justice incarnate

For Reno, government was always the good guy. In a 1996 speech to government prosecutors, she declared, “All of you public lawyers are but little lower than the angels, and I salute you.” Reno showed her belief in angels in 1994 when she decreed that federal prosecutors would no longer be bound by the ethics guidelines issued by state bar associations prohibiting lawyers from contacting adverse parties directly without their lawyers’ being  present. Reno’s power grab for federal prosecutors was unanimously condemned by the Conference of Chief Justices, representing all the state supreme courts.

Reno’s greatest achievement was to teach Americans that “Justice Department” is an oxymoron. She proved that the federal government cannot be trusted to police itself. Unfortunately, that seems to be the same lesson that every attorney general teaches — and the media and most Americans ignore.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/janet-reno-saint-or-tyrant/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/janet-reno-saint-or-tyrant/ Fri, 15 Sep 2017 14:44:50 GMT
Reagan Documents Shed Light on US ‘Meddling’ Robert Parry http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/reagan-documents-shed-light-on-us-meddling/

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the US government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other US government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the US government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s US presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the US government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the US government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a US Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue US funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt US Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to US foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the US Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by US and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the US Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the US Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with US government money and collaborated with US officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence US public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing US policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of US foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on US-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence US government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the US government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the US government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, US officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

Reprinted with permission from ConsortiumNews.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/reagan-documents-shed-light-on-us-meddling/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/15/reagan-documents-shed-light-on-us-meddling/ Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:08:29 GMT
The Neocon Case Against The Iran Nuclear Deal - One Big Lie! Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/the-neocon-case-against-the-iran-nuclear-deal-one-big-lie/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/the-neocon-case-against-the-iran-nuclear-deal-one-big-lie/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/the-neocon-case-against-the-iran-nuclear-deal-one-big-lie/ Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:16:39 GMT
Six Major US Foreign Policy Failures of the Post-Cold War Era Adam Garrie http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/six-major-us-foreign-policy-failures-of-the-post-cold-war-era/

In the 1990s, US officials, all of whom would go on to serve in the George W. Bush White House, authored two short, but deeply important policy documents that have subsequently been the guiding force behind every major US foreign policy decision taken since the year 2000 and particularly since 9/11.

These documents include the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (more commonly known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine). This document, as the name implies was authored by George W. Bush’s deeply influential Deputy Defense Secretary  Paul Wolfowitz as well as I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who served as an advisor to former US Vice President Dick Cheney.

The other major document, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, from 1996 was authored by former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee in the administration of George W. Bush, Richard Norman Perle.

Both documents provide a simplistic but highly unambiguous blueprint for US foreign policy in the Middle East, Russia’s near abroad and East Asia. The contents of the Wolfowitz Doctrine were first published by the New York Times in 1992 after they were leaked to the media. Shortly thereafter, many of the specific threats made in the document were re-written using broader language. In this sense, when comparing the official version with the leaked version, it reads in the manner of the proverbial "what I said versus what I meant" adage.

By contrast, A Clean Break was written in 1996 as a kind of gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who apparently was not impressed with the document at the time. In spite of this, the US has implemented many of the recommendations in the document in spite of who was/is in power in Tel Aviv.

While many of the recommendations in both documents have indeed been implemented, their overall success rate has been staggeringly bad.  

Below are major points from the documents followed by an assessment of their success or failure. 

1. Regime change against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (A Clean Break)

This objective is in many ways both the clearest initial success and also the most strident overall failure.

In 1996, Richard Perle suggested that removing Saddam Hussein from power would be good for the US and Israeli interest because it would weaken a powerful, large Arab state that had poor relations with the US since 1990 and historically poor relations with multiple regimes in Tel Aviv. While Iraq’s President was removed from power by illegal force in 2003, that which happened subsequently did not deliver the outcome Perle had desired.

A Clean Break suggests that a post-Saddam Iraq could and should be ruled by a restored Hashemite dynasty, which was originally overthrown in 1958. Perle continues to suggest that Jordan, the last remaining Hashemite state in the Arab world, could work with Israel and the US to make this happen. Even more absurdly, Perle suggests that a Hashemite would-be union between Jordan and Iraq would be able to command more loyalty from Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon than Iran.

The realities could not be more different. After the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq, the idea of restoring the Hashemite dynasty was never again floated in any serious forum, as the idea would be simply impossible to implement. There was no will among any major faction in Iraq to restore a monarchy that was overthrown in a revolution in 1958 that many Iraqis continue to look back on with national pride.

Ironically, the biggest Arab bulwark against a resurgent Iran was Saddam Hussein. In the 1980s, the future neo-cons realised this, though they seemingly ignored what they once knew, as early as in 1992.

Since Saddam Hussein’s removal from power and violent execution, Iraq’s majority Shi’a population have generally rallied around Iran politically, militarily and spiritually. Iraq has recently signed a defensive military pact with Iran and it is well known that many of the Shi’a volunteer brigades which are fighting ISIS in Iraq have received training and advice from Iranian experts.

While the US bases in Iraq make a US military presence closer to Iran than it was prior to 2003, by the same token Iran’s influence in the Arab world, especially in Iraq has grown substantially. In any case, the desired illegal "regime change" war against Iran will likely never happen for two reasons. First of all, many in the Pentagon and in Washington moreover, realise that such a war would be an unmitigated disaster for the US and secondly, Iran has many influential international partners that it did not have in the 1990s, primarily Russia. Russia as well as China would not stand for a war on Iran in 2017.

In this sense, the US got very little of what it claimed it wanted in overthrowing Saddam apart from the weakening of a united Iraq.

2. ‘Containing’ Russia and China by preventing them from becoming superpowers (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

This policy has failed on every front. Since the rise of George W. Bush, the first White House adherent to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, Russia and China have risen to a status which means that there are three global superpowers, not the lone American superpower dreamt of by Wolfowitz and Libby.

China’s economic rise has fuelled a more robust stance from Beijing on global affairs. China now vigorously defends its claims in the South China Sea, has continually outflanked the US on the Korean issue, is engaged in the building of One Belt–One Road, the most wide reaching trade and commerce initiative in modern history and has opened its first military base overseas.

At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army continues its modernisation programme, making it as formidable a force which for all practical purposes, is as battle ready and capable as those of the US and Russia, countries which during the Cold War, had far superior armed forces to China.

Likewise, Russia’s return to superpower status, has been equally crushing in respect of the goals of Wolfowitz and Libby. Russia has not only strengthened old alliances but is now an important ally or partner to countries which were former Cold War opponents or otherwise non-aligned countries. This is true in respect of Russia’s alliances and partnerships with China, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Philippines and increasingly Indonesia. Russia is also becoming ever closer to South Korea and even Japan.

With Russia’s military now boasting modern defence systems which can rival those of the US and in many cases are objectively superior to those of the US, the idea that the US would prevent Russia from re-attaining super-power status and China emerging as a super-power has become a patent absurdity.

3. Containing Syria via Turkey and Jordan (A Clean Break)

For a while, this plan was implemented with some degree of success by the Obama administration. While Jordan never played a substantial part in the proxy wars on Syria, apart from being a NATO transport corridor, Turkey did help to undermine Syria’s sovereignty with its armed forces and its own proxies.

While relations between Turkey and Syria remain poor, relations between Turkey and the rest of its NATO "allies" is also poor.

Turkey has quietly ceased its support for terrorist groups (aka the opposition) in Syria, is participating in the Astana Peace Process with long time Syrian allies Russia and Iran and is engaged in multiple trading and commercial deals with Russia, including the purchase of the Russian made S-400 missile defence system.

The overall result of Turkey’s participation in the Syrian conflict has been a strengthening of Turkey’s relationship with historical adversaries, Russia and Iran, something which has happened simultaneously to Turkey’s essentially dead relationship with the EU and its incredibly weakened relationship with the US.

All the while, Ba’athist Syria has emerged from the conflict victorious with its commitment to the Palestinian cause as strong as ever.

Far from being “contained”, Syria is now more admired throughout the wider world than at any time in the last three decades.

4. Molesting Russia’s borderlands (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

In the original text of the Wolfowitz Doctrine, there was a provision stating that the US must work to make sure that places like Ukraine and Belarus became part of the US economic and geo-political orbit, maintaining both “market economies” and “democracies.”

The 2014 US engineered coup against the legitimate government in Kiev was a knee-jerk US response to the fact that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an economic association agreement with the EU, under the guise that the Ukrainian economy cannot afford to cut itself off from Russia.

Yanukovych was subsequently overthrown in a violent coup, and a neo-fascist, pro-western regime was installed. However, this can hardly be considered a success as the sheer violence and incompetence of the current Kiev regime has made it so that Ukraine, a place whose borders were always dubious to begin with, will almost inevitably fracture into something unrecognisable.

Already, much of Donbass has been incorporated into the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics that will never go back to Kiev rule and Crimea, whose relationship with Kiev was even more tenuous is now happily reunited with the rest of the Russian Federation.

Seeing the coup in Kiev, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko has pledged to crack down on any would be trouble-makers, all while remaining a committed albeit tantrum prone ally of Russia.

The only part of this element of the Wolfowitz Doctrine which has not been a failure has been the weaponisation of eastern Europe. The reason this has succeeded is due to the fact that Russia has no interest in invading eastern Europe. Russia has merely responded by building up its defences against NATO’s provocative weaponisation of Poland and the Baltic States.

5. Weakening Hezbollah (A Clean Break)

In 2017, Hezbollah is not only more popular than ever, but is militarily might is stronger than at any time in its history. Hezbollah’s role in fighting terrorism in Syria has won the party praise from groups in Lebanon that previously were never keen on Hezbollah, as well as individuals in the wider world who seek to build a genuine anti-terrorist coalition.

The conflict in Syria has drawn Iran, Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon (the heartland of Hezbollah) closer together than they have ever been. This has in many ways been a result of the common cause of fighting groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda that bound them all together.

In 2006, Hezbollah dealt Israeli forces a major defeat in South Lebanon. Today, Hezbollah is even stronger and everyone in Israel is all too aware of this.

This was a major failure in respect of implementing the "destruction" of Hezbollah advocated by Richard Perle.

6. North Korea not to be allowed nuclear weapons (Wolfowitz Doctrine)

The fact that North Korea just tested what is widely believed to be a hydrogen bomb, is a clear indication that this major goal of Wolfowitz and Libby has failed.

Beyond this, while Russia has condemned both North Korea and US led provocative acts on the Korean peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged that North Korea does have the right to self-defence, something which has become even more prescient after North Korea witnessed the destruction of Iraq and Libya which did not have weapons capable of deterring a US invasion.

Russia and China have clearly seized the initiative on the Korean issue. Apart from launching a disastrous war on North Korea, the US can now do little to change the realities in Pyongyang.

Conclusion: 

The aggregate effect of this analysis indicates that the US is still highly capable of starting wars and igniting conflicts throughout the world, but that it is likewise hardly ever capable of winning these conflicts or even achieving a majority of its own stated goals.

As the two most revealing foreign policy documents from the US in the post-Cold War era, both the Wolfowitz Doctrine and A Clean Break have been abject failures. In many cases, in attempting to achieve the goals of these documents, the United States has ended up achieving the opposite.

The US is militarily strong, but strategically, diplomatically and geo-politically, it is actually close to impotent.

Reprinted with permission from The Duran.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/six-major-us-foreign-policy-failures-of-the-post-cold-war-era/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/14/six-major-us-foreign-policy-failures-of-the-post-cold-war-era/ Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:35:33 GMT
Sen. Rand Paul Forces Vote On 16 Year Undeclared War Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/sen-rand-paul-forces-vote-on-16-year-undeclared-war/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/sen-rand-paul-forces-vote-on-16-year-undeclared-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/sen-rand-paul-forces-vote-on-16-year-undeclared-war/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 16:31:58 GMT
Bombshell Report Catches Pentagon Falsifying Paperwork For Weapons Transfers To Syrian Rebels Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/bombshell-report-catches-pentagon-falsifying-paperwork-for-weapons-transfers-to-syrian-rebels/

A new bombshell joint report issued by two international weapons monitoring groups Tuesday confirms that the Pentagon continues to ship record breaking amounts of weaponry into Syria and that the Department of Defense is scrubbing its own paper trail. On Tuesday the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of weapons from a shady network of private dealers to allied partners in Syria - mostly old Soviet weaponry - but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates,presumably in order to hide US involvement.

The OCCRP and BIRN published internal US defense procurement files after an extensive investigation which found that the Pentagon is running a massive weapons trafficking pipeline which originates in the Balkans and Caucuses, and ends in Syria and Iraq. The program is ostensibly part of the US train, equip, and assist campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a coalition of YPG/J and Arab FSA groups operating primarily in Syria's east). The arms transfers are massive and the program looks to continue for years. According to Foreign Policy's (FP) coverage of the report:
The Department of Defense has budgeted $584 million specifically for this Syrian operation for the financial years 2017 and 2018, and has earmarked another $900 million of spending on Soviet-style munitions between now and 2022. The total, $2.2 billion, likely understates the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels in the coming years.
But perhaps more shocking is the following admission that Pentagon suppliers have links with known criminal networks, also from FP:
According to the report, many of the weapons suppliers — primarily in Eastern Europe but also in the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine — have both links to organized crime throughout Eastern Europe and spotty business records.

The sheer amount of material necessary for the Pentagon program — one ammunition factory announced it planned to hire 1,000 new employees in 2016 to help cope with the demand — has reportedly stretched suppliers to the limit, forcing the Defense Department to relax standards on the materials it’s willing to accept.
It is likely that the organized crime association is the reason why the Pentagon has sought to alter its records. In addition, the sheer volume of weaponry continuing to ship to the Syrian battlefield and other parts of the Middle East means inevitable proliferation among unsavory terror groups - a phenomenon which has already been exhaustively documented in connection with the now reportedly closed CIA programto topple the Syrian government. The associations and alliances among some of the Arab former FSA groups the DoD continues to support in the north and east remains fluid, which means means US-supplied weapons will continue to pass among groups with no accountability for where they end up.

One of the authors of the OCCRP/BIRN report, Ivan Angelovski, told Foreign Policy that, “The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition." The report is based on internal US government memos which reveal that weapons shipment destination locations have been scrubbed from original documents. 

Falsified and altered Pentagon procurement documents (Click to enlarge):

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Is an EUC (End User Certificate) still an EUC if it doesn't include an end user?

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Balkan Insight, which is hosting the original investigative report: "Seven US procurement documents were whitewashed to remove reference to 'Syria' after reporters contacted the Pentagon to enquire about whether the exporting countries – Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia – had been informed of the destination."

The fact that Foreign Policy, which is the foremost establishment national security publication in the world, would admit that the Pentagon's Syria weapons procurement program is tied to East European organized crime is itself hugely significant. At this point the evidence is simply so overwhelming that even establishment sources like FP - which itself has generally been pro-interventionist on Syria - can't deny it.

FP further reports that the Pentagon program "appears to be turbocharging a shadowy world of Eastern European arms dealers." And adds further that, "the Pentagon is reportedly removing documentary evidence about just who will ultimately be using the weapons, potentially weakening one of the bulwarks of international protocols against illicit arms dealing."

Map/Infographic produced as part of the OCCRP/BIRN report, itself confirmed by Foreign Policy magazine. Notice the map denotes that prior CIA weapons went directly to Idlib province (northwest, section in green) and the Golan border region (south). Both of these areas were and continue to be occupied by al-Qaeda (in Idlib, AQ's Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham). In Idlib specifically, analysts have confirmed genocidal cleansing of religious minorities conducted by AQ "rebels" directly assisted by CIA weapons.

Late last month we featured the story of Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who was fired from her job after being interrogated by national intelligence officials for exposing the same Pentagon arms network which is the subject of the latest OCCRP/BIRN investigation. At the time, Al Jazeera was the only major international outlet which covered the story, which confirmed that Bulgarian agents interrogated Gaytandzhieva and "tried to find out her sources." An anonymous source had leaked a large trove of internal government files connected to the arms trafficking to the East European-based Trud Newspaper journalist, which was the basis of her reporting. The newest investigation released Tuesday appears to include some of the same documents, also confirmed by Gayandzhieva.

Read the full OCCRP/BIRN investigation here.

Read Zero Hedge's original coverage of the Pentagon's Balkan arms pipeline here.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/bombshell-report-catches-pentagon-falsifying-paperwork-for-weapons-transfers-to-syrian-rebels/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/13/bombshell-report-catches-pentagon-falsifying-paperwork-for-weapons-transfers-to-syrian-rebels/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 13:27:27 GMT
The UN Losing Poker Hand in Libya http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/the-un-losing-poker-hand-in-libya/

In poker, smart players know that the best thing to do with a weak hand is dump it. 

Not so the United Nations. Libya is doubling down on backing the failing Government of National Accord (GNA), hoping that by reopening its UN base in the capital, the previously fortified "Palm City Complex," things will improve. 

They are also sending some sending in Gurkha "Security Guards," but nowhere near enough to actually make a difference against the Tripoli-based militias.  For two hundred years the Gurkhas have been the most feared force in the British Army. If anyone can destroy the Tripoli militias, they can, but what's the point? Why shore up an unelected five-man government?

The GNA was created by the UN two years ago to unite the country and end the civil war. Instead, the GNA’s cabinet is unable even to unite Tripoli, which is "controlled" by various militias. Hence the need for Gurkhas to stop militias overrunning the ostentatious UN compound, "Palm City," which is itself a provocation to the Libyan people.

The elected parliament in Tobruk, rival to the GNA, is increasingly calling the shots. Thanks to the increasingly popular Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Tobruk now controls the majority of the country and its oil infrastructure and ports. The idea that the GNA will ever rule over areas held by Tobruk is laughable. But, having created the GNA, the UN remains determined to back it. Last week Haftar banned GNA personnel from visiting the East -- so much for the alleged French July détente efforts.

What makes the UN case so hopeless is that outside powers are split and at odds – in particular France and Italy -- over who to support. 

One European country is even pondering supporting the son of the late Colonel Gaddafi -- that is how desperate the situation has become.

Italy supports the GNA because militias in western Libya are in a position to stop people-smuggling. Italy faces parliamentary elections in 2018 and politicians are aware the electorate will focus on the immigration issue.

Most migrants from Libya end up in Italy, not France, and for Paris migration is less important than combating terrorism. Haftar is already combating Islamist terrorists in Libya, making France a natural ally.

“Serraj leverages off of Italian support,” said Jalel Harchaoui, a doctoral candidate in geopolitics and Libyan commentator, adding “and you can be sure Haftar makes use of the prestige of France’s apparent support for his military campaign.  On the ground, the inability of foreign states to coordinate among themselves on Libya has always generated more chaos.”

In July, Fayez Serraj, the UN-designated prime minister from the Government of National Accord, met with Haftar in Paris to sign a peace deal between the two sides. But neither leader actually signed the document. In an interview with France 24, Haftar later stated, “Serraj is a good man, but he cannot implement what he agrees to.”

Russia showed its support for Haftar by inviting him aboard an aircraft carrier earlier this year. It has since hedged its bets, insisting it is working for reconciliation by talking to all sides, including the Misrata-based Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos (BMB) militia.

Yesterday the BMB militia surprisingly pledged its support for an unknown multi-millionaire businessman Basit Igtet, a Swiss based Libyan with alleged links to Israel and designs on becoming President of Libya!

One thing must be made clear: The BMB Militia are enemies of Haftar's LNA.

Lev Dengov, head of the "Russia’s Contact Group for a Libyan settlement," recently stated, “Tripoli and Tobruk personnel share the same embassy building in Moscow, engineered by us, to bring them closer to each other.”

Britain is trying to have it both ways. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who presumably facilitated the Gurkhas' deployment, visited Serraj to show support, flying east to see Haftar on the of 24th August at his headquarters, urging the field marshall to keep to the "unsigned" agreement announced in Paris. But why should Hafter do so? It's farcical.

The United States has kept a low profile thus far. Though rumour has it there has been a shift in policy in the last few days. Expect Rex Tillerson to get involved in the near future.

With the big powers so divided, and the GNA experiment having failed, the new UN envoy, Ghassan Salame, a Lebanese politician, said by some to be distrusted by the Russians, would have done better to dump the GNA.

Instead Salame is planning to send UN staff and "British Gurkhas," disguised as "guards," into the Tripoli cauldron, putting many lives needlessly at risk to support a failed and unelected government.

When will the UN throw in its losing hand? And when will Russia return to the aces it had when it supported Haftar?
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/the-un-losing-poker-hand-in-libya/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/the-un-losing-poker-hand-in-libya/ Tue, 12 Sep 2017 17:32:53 GMT
Welcome to 1984: Big Brother Google Now Watching Your Every Political Move Robert Bridge http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/welcome-to-1984-big-brother-google-now-watching-your-every-political-move/

Google has taken the unprecedented step of burying material, mostly from websites on the political right, that it has deemed to be inappropriate. The problem, however, is that the world's largest search engine is a left-leaning company with an ax to grind.

Let's face it, deep down in our heart of hearts we knew the honeymoon wouldn't last forever. Our willingness to place eternal faith in an earth-straddling company that oversees the largest collection of information ever assembled was doomed to end in a bitter divorce from the start. After all, each corporation, just like humans, has their own political proclivities, and Google is certainly no exception. But we aren't talking about your average car company here.

The first sign Google would eventually become more of a political liability than a public utility was revealed in 2005 when CEO Eric Schmidt (who is now executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc, Google's parent company) sat down with interviewer Charlie Rose, who asked Schmidt to explain "where the future of search is going."

Schmidt's response should have triggered alarm bells across the free world. "Well, when you use Google, do you get more than one answer,"  Schmidt asked rhetorically, before answering deceptively: "Of course you do. Well, that's a bug. We have more bugs per second in the world. We should be able to give you the right answer just once... and we should never be wrong."

Really?

Think about that for a moment. Schmidt believes, counter-intuitively, that getting multiple possible choices for any one Google query is not the desirable prospect it should be (aren't consumers always in search of more variety?), but rather a "bug" that should be duly squashed underfoot. Silly mortal, you should not expect more than one answer for every question because the almighty Google, our modern-day Oz, "should never be wrong!" This is the epitome of corporate hubris. And it doesn't require much imagination to see that such a master plan will only lead to a colossal whitewashing of the historic record.

For example, if a Google user performs a search request for - oh, I don't know - "what caused the Iraq War 2003," he or she would be given, according to Schmidt's algorithmic wet dream, exactly one canned answer. Any guesses on what that answer would be? I think it's safe to say the only acceptable answer would be the state-sanctioned conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction, an oft-repeated claim we now know to be patently false. The list of other such complicated events that also demand more than one answer - from the Kennedy assassination to the Gulf of Tonkin incident - could be continued for many pages.

Schmidt's grandiose vision, where there is just "one answer to every question," sounds like a chapter borrowed from Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, where omnipresent Big Brother had an ironclad grip on history, news, information, everything. In such a intensely controlled, nightmarish world, individuals - as well as entire historical events - can be 'disappeared' down the memory hole without a trace. Though we've not quite reached that bad land yet, we're plodding along in that direction.

That much became disturbingly clear ever since Donald Trump routed Hillary Clinton for the presidency. This surprise event became the bugle call for Google to wage war on 'fake news' outlets, predominantly on the political right.

'Like being gay in the 1950s'

Just before Americans headed to the polls in last year's presidential election, WikiLeaks delivered a well-timed steaming dump, revealing that Eric Schmidt had been working with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as early as April 2014. This news came courtesy of a leaked email from John Podesta, former chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, who wrote:
I met with Eric Schmidt tonight. As David reported, he's ready to fund, advise recruit talent, etc. He was more deferential on structure than I expected. Wasn't pushing to run through one of his existing firms. Clearly wants to be head outside advisor, but didn't seem like he wanted to push others out. Clearly wants to get going...
The implications of the CEO of the world's most powerful company playing favorites in a presidential race are obvious, and make the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s resemble a rigged game of bingo at the local senior citizens center by comparison. Yet the dumbed-down world of American politics, which only seems to get excited when Republicans goof up, continued to turn on its wobbly axis as if nothing untold had occurred.

Before continuing our trip down memory lane, let's fast forward a moment for a reality check. Google's romance with the US political left is not a matter of conjecture. In fact, it has just become the subject of a released internal memo penned by one James Damore, a former Google engineer. In the 10-point memo, Damore discussed at length the extreme liberal atmosphere that pervades Google, saying that being a conservative in the Silicon Valley sweat shop was like "being gay in the 1950s."

"We have... this monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves. Really, it’s like being gay in the 1950s. These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that’s a huge problem because there’s open discrimination against anyone who comes out of the closet as a conservative."

Beyond the quirky, laid back image of a Google campus, where "Googlers" enjoy free food and foot massages, lies a"monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves," says Damore, who was very cynically fired from Google for daring to express a personal opinion. That is strange.

Although Google loudly trumpets its multicultural diversity in terms of its hiring policy, it clearly has a problem dealing with a diversity of opinion. That attitude does not seem to bode well for a search engine company that must remain impartial on all matters - political or otherwise.

Back to the 2016 campaign. Even CNN at the time was admitting that Google was Donald Trump's "biggest enemy."

Indeed, not only was Schmidt apparently moonlighting for the DNC, his leftist company was actively shutting down information on the Republican front runner. At one point when Google users typed in a query for 'presidential candidates,' they got thousands of results for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Missing in action from the search results, however, was, yes, Donald Trump.

When NBC4 reached out to Google about the issue, a spokesperson said a "technical bug" was what caused Trump to disappear into the internet ether. Now, where have we heard the word "bug" before? It is worth wondering if this is what Eric Schmidt had in mind when he expressed his vision of a "one answer" Google search future?

In any case, this brings to the surface another disturbing question that is directly linked to the 'fake news' accusations, which in turn is fueling Google's crackdown on the free flow of news from the political right today.

In the run up to the 2016 presidential election, poll after poll predicted a Clinton landslide victory. Of course, nothing of the sort materialized, as even traditional Democratic strongholds, like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan pulled the lever for Trump. As the Economist reported
On the eve of America’s presidential election, national surveys gave Hillary Clinton a lead of around four percentage points, which betting markets and statistical models translated into a probability of victory ranging from 70 percent to 99 percent.
The fact that Trump - in direct contradiction to what the polls had been long predicting - ended up winning by such a huge margin, there is a temptation to say the polls themselves were 'fake news,' designed to convince the US voter that a Clinton landslide victory was forthcoming. This could have been a ploy by the pollsters, many of whom are affiliated with left-leaning news corporations, by the way, for keeping opposition voters at home in the belief their vote wouldn't matter. In fact, statisticians were warning of a "systemic mainstream misinformation" in poll data favoring Clinton in the days and weeks before Election day. Yet the Leftist brigade, in cahoots with the Googlers, were busy nurturing their own fervent conspiracy theory that 'fake news' - with some help from the Russians, of course - was the reason for Hillary Clinton's devastating defeat.

Who will guard us against the Google guardians?

Just one month after Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, purportedly on the back of "fake news," Google quietly launched Project Owl, the goal of which was to devise a method to "demote misleading, false and offensive articles online," according to a Bloomberg report. The majority of the crackdown will be carried out by machines. Now here is where we enter the rat's nest. After all, what one news organization, or alternative news site, might consider legitimate news and information, another news group, possibly from the mainstream media, would dismiss as a conspiracy theory. And vice versa.

In other words, what we have here is a battle for the misty mountain top of information, and Google appears to be paving the way for its preferred candidate, which is naturally the mainstream media. In other words, Google has a dog in this fight, but it shouldn't. Here is how they have succeeded in pushing for their crackdown on news and information.

The mainstream media almost immediately began peddling the fake news story as to why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. In fact, it even started before Clinton lost the election after Trump jokingly told a rally: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing... I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” The Democrats, of course, found no humor in the remark. Indeed, they began pushing the fake news story, with help from the likes of Amazon-owned Washington Post, that it was Russians who hacked the DNC email system and passed along the information to WikiLeaks, who then dumped it at the most inopportune time for the Democrats.

With this masterly sleight of hand, did you notice what happened? We are no longer talking about the whereabouts of Clinton's estimated 33,000 deleted emails, nor are we discussing how the DNC worked behind the scenes to derail Bernie Sanders' chances at being a presidential candidate. Far worse, we are not considering the tragic fate of a young man named Seth Rich, the now-deceased DNC staffer who was gunned down in Washington, DC on July 10, 2016. Some news sites say Rich was preparing to testify against the DNC for "voter fraud," while others say that was contrived nonsense.

According to the mainstream media, in this case, Newsweek, only batshit crazy far-right conspiracy sites could ever believe Seth Rich leaked the Clinton emails.

"In the months since his murder, Rich has become an obsession of the far right, an unwilling martyr to a discredited cause," Newsweek commented. "On social media sites like Reddit and news outlets like World Net Daily, it is all but an article of faith that Rich, who worked for the Democratic National Committee, was the source who gave DNC emails to WikiLeaks, for which he was slain, presumably, by Clinton operatives. If that were to be true—and it very clearly isn’t—the faithful believe it would invalidate any accusations that Donald J. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in tilting the election toward him."

Blame Russia

The reality is, we'll probably never know what happened to Mr. Rich, but what we do know is that Russia has become the convenient fall guy for Clinton's emails getting hacked and dumped in the public arena. We also know Google is taking advantage of this conspiracy theory (to this day not a thread of proof has been offered to prove Russia had anything to do with the release of the emails) to severely hinder the work of news sites - most of which sit on the right of the political spectrum.

Last November, just two weeks after Trump's victory, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressed the question of 'fake news' in a BBC interview, and whether it could have swayed the vote in Trump's favor.

"You know, I think fake news as a whole could be an issue [in elections]. From our perspective, there should just be no situation where fake news gets distributed, so we are all for doing better here. So, I don't think we should debate it as much as work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources, have more fact checking and make our algorithms work better, absolutely," he said.

Did you catch that? Following the tiresome rigmarole, the Google CEO said he doesn't think "we should debate it as much as we work hard to make sure we drive news to its more trusted sources..."

That is a truly incredible comment, buried at the sea floor of the BBC article. How can the head of the largest search engine believe a democracy needn't debate how Google determines what information, and by whom, is allowed into the public realm, thus literally shaping our entire worldview? To ask the question is to answer it...

"Just in the last two days we announced we will remove advertising from anything we identify as fake news," Pichai said.

And how will Google decide who the Internet baddies are? It will rely on "more than 15 additional expert NGOs and institutions through our Trusted Flagger program, including the Anti-Defamation League, the No Hate Speech Movement, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue," to determine what should be flagged and what should not.

Feeling better yet? This brings to mind the quaint Latin phrase, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? -- Who will guard the guards themselves? -- especially since these groups also have their own heavy political axes to grind.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Pichai and his increasingly Orwellian company already stand accused of censorship, following the outrageous decision to bar former Congressman Ron Paul and his online news program, Liberty Report, from receiving advertising revenue for a number of videos which Paul recently posted.

Dr. Ron Paul would never be confused as a dangerous, far-right loony. Paul is a 12-term ex-congressman and three-time presidential candidate. However, he is popular among his supporters for views that often contradict those of Washington’s political establishment, especially on issues of war and peace. Now if squeaky clean Ron Paul can't get a fair hearing before the Google/YouTube tribunal, what are chances for average commentators?

“We have no violence, no foul language, no political extremism, no hate or intolerance,” Daniel McAdams, co-producer of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, told RT America. “Our program is simply a news analysis discussion from a libertarian and antiwar perspective.”

McAdams added that the YouTube demonetization “creates enormous financial burdens for the program.”

Many other commentators have also been affected by the advert ban, including left-wing online blogger Tim Black and right-wing commentator Paul Joseph Watson. Their videos have registered millions of views.

“Demonetization is a deliberate effort to stamp out independent political commentary – from the left or the right,” Black told the Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray. “It’s not about specific videos... It’s about pushing out the diversity of thought and uplifting major news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.”

In light of this inquisition against free speech and free thought, it is no surprise that more voices are calling for Google, and other massive online media, like Facebook and Amazon, to become nationalized for the public good.

"If we don’t take over today’s platform monopolies, we risk letting them own and control the basic infrastructure of 21st-century society," wrote Nick Srnicek, a lecturer in the digital economy at King’s College London.

It's time for Google to take a stroll beyond its isolated Silicon Valley campus and realize there is a whole world of varying political opinion out there that demands a voice. Otherwise, it may find itself on the wrong side of history and time, a notoriously uninviting place known as 1984.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/welcome-to-1984-big-brother-google-now-watching-your-every-political-move/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/12/welcome-to-1984-big-brother-google-now-watching-your-every-political-move/ Tue, 12 Sep 2017 16:42:18 GMT
What We Lost on September 11th Jeff Deist http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/what-we-lost-on-september-11th/

The cliché is true: September 11, 2001 represents a defining American moment. Generation X and Millennials suddenly had their own day of infamy, just as their parents and grandparents had Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. 9/11 marked the end of a relatively untroubled time in the US following the 1980 and 90s, and the beginning of a dark turn that continues to this day. Optimism, an enduring feature of the American psyche (rightly or wrongly identified as buncombe by Mencken) suddenly was in short supply.

Lives were lost, along with innocence. But the innocence lost that day had less to do with terrorism or even the threat of terrorism than it did with what we all knew was coming: an exponential rise in the size and scope of the American state. The specter of growing state power frightened even those eager to endorse it, as most Americans were in the days following.

For libertarians 9/11 was especially troubling precisely because of the intense public demand for Congress and the Bush administration to do something. Whether that something was rational, just, or even served American interests was almost beside the point. The people wanted blood, and after the images of bodies jumping from the twin towers who can blame the politicians in DC for obliging them? If there are no atheists in foxholes, there are very few libertarians after terrorist attacks. Our uneasy job was to counsel reason and restraint, even if that meant shouting into a wind tunnel.

The entire US national security apparatus, a trillion-dollar enterprise extending far beyond the Pentagon and alphabet soup intelligence agencies like CIA and NSA, had failed utterly in its ostensible mission. All the airport security, nuclear missiles, air defense command centers, bombers, fighter jets, aircraft carriers, destroyers, spooks, spies, analysts, and supercomputers could not protect a single American from a small group of middle-class Saudi kids with box-cutters and a few hours of Cessna training.

So what should have been a profoundly embarrassing and soul-searching moment for the US national security state became an exercise in chest thumping and war room sessions at the White House. Not a single federal employee was fired because of 9/11, at least not so far as Senator Rand Paul can tell.

Instead, both Congress and the Bush 43 administration reacted predictably to 9/11 and poured it on: we will spend whatever it takes, do whatever it takes, and go wherever it takes to get the people who did this.

16 years later, the War on Terror™ has yielded hundreds of thousands of dead and injured Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans, ongoing and intractable wars disguised as nation building, the Patriot Act, illegal executive actions, trillions in new federal debt, vastly increased federal surveillance powers, rubber stamped FISA court warrants, TSA at the airports, a useless Department of Homeland Security, overflowing VA hospitals, and increasingly militarized police here at home. More importantly, it has yielded a distressing complacency toward grotesque federal power.

It has not yielded peace, or liberty, or security. But liberty vs. security was never the choice.

* * *

An aside:

I vividly remember the morning of September 11th in Washington, DC. It was sunny and beautiful, with no trace of August's oppressive humidity. Ron Paul’s staff arrived at his office in the Cannon building around 8:00, ready for a typical Tuesday schedule of rote “suspension” bills (e.g. bills naming post offices) and gearing up for the week ahead.

The office had a TV to monitor C-SPAN and activity on the House floor. Although both the House and Senate were in session that day, as customary debates and votes would not begin until sometime in the afternoon. So we had CNN playing in the background when sometime after 9:00 they began to show footage of smoke billowing from one tower in the World Trade Center. CNN’s announcer wondered whether a small plane somehow had blundered into the building.

When word filtered down that the cause was not a small plane, things became more tense both on CNN and in our office: was this terrorism? We began to flip channels to find more information, and that’s when we realized it would be no ordinary Tuesday.

Around 9:45 the Capitol Police came through the building barking at us to evacuate. It became clear there was no “plan,” just a bunch of people shouting, running around, and pounding on doors. If anything, the underground tunnels beneath the House office building were safer than the streets outside, especially if gunman or bombs were lurking.

Instead police herded us outside, to go nowhere. The lawns surrounding the buildings were full of incredulous staffers milling about, making calls on their flip phones. The streets around the Capitol were impossibly jammed with cars attempting to get out. Some pedestrians headed to the Metro stations, but they were overwhelmed too. Nobody would get home easily or quickly. The corner liquor store, Subway, and nearby Taco Bell wisely stayed open to brisk business.

About this time rumors began to swirl about the Pentagon being targeted, but of course we didn’t know what to believe. Urban legends grew and just as quickly were debunked: a car bomb went off in front of the State department! Foggy Bottom is on fire! More planes are headed for the Capitol Dome! One can only imagine how social media would react today.

Keep in mind the entire Capitol complex, consisting of the Capitol building itself, the House and Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court is one or two square kilometers at most. Its daytime population, mostly staff, is about 25,000 people. Note also that the Supreme Court and Library of Congress have their own police.

A typical town of 25,000 might have a force of 20 or 30 law enforcement officers. The US Capitol Police force, by contrast, has more than two thousand officers today. Its budget is larger than the Atlanta police department! And while the DC Metro police have plenty of real crime to deal with, the Capitol complex is quite safe. Capitol police really serve as the personal security force for members of Congress more than anything else. So, some animals really are more equal than others...

Jeff Deist is president of the Mises Institute. He previously worked as chief of staff to Congressman Ron Paul, and as an attorney for private equity clients.

Reprinted with permission from the Mises Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/what-we-lost-on-september-11th/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/what-we-lost-on-september-11th/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 22:03:18 GMT
The Case Against the Iranian Nuclear Deal is One Big Lie Stephen Walt http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/the-case-against-the-iranian-nuclear-deal-is-one-big-lie/

Imagine we were back in 1948. Suppose Joseph Stalin offered to halt the Soviet Union’s efforts to develop its own atomic bomb for up to 15 years. As part of the deal, suppose he agreed to let inspectors from the United Nations enter the USSR and monitor all of its nuclear facilities. Suppose he’d even said these U.N. officials could also inspect other Soviet facilities, provided they had valid reasons to suspect proscribed activities were occurring there.

To sweeten the offer even more, imagine Stalin said he would also give up a substantial portion of the enriched uranium the USSR had already accumulated, leaving it well short of the amount needed to make a bomb. What did he want in exchange? Just some economic concessions to help rebuild the war-ravaged Soviet economy.

In making this offer, suppose Stalin insisted on retaining the capacity to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes (such as power reactors or medical uses). And let’s also suppose he made it clear he wasn’t going to withdraw the Red Army from Eastern Europe or stop trying to spread communism in other parts of the world. The Cold War would go on, in short, but the Soviet Union would not be a nuclear weapons state for as long as the agreement remained in force.

It is hard to believe the paranoid Soviet dictator would ever make such an offer, of course. But if he had, do you think Harry Truman, George C. Marshall, and Dean Acheson would have embraced it? You bet they would. And had that deal been in place in 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles would have moved heaven and earth to keep it in force. The reason is obvious: this deal would have kept the USSR from getting atomic weapons until the early 1960s (at least) and made it far less likely that Moscow would surprise us with a sudden demonstration test (as it did in 1949). At a minimum, this arrangement would have extended the warning time surrounding any future Soviet effort to break out and race to the bomb.

To be sure, the counterfactual scenario sketched above is almost unimaginable. Nonetheless, it reminds us how bizarre, short-sighted, and unrealistic the renewed campaign against the Iran nuclear deal is. For in fact, Iran agreed to essentially the same terms I sketched above, thereby removing the possibility of becoming an active nuclear weapons state for at least 15 years. Yet even though this deal is very much to America’s advantage — and to the benefit our main regional allies — the same critics continue to snipe at it.

The latest round in their campaign was U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s disingenuous and falsehood-filled speech at the American Enterprise Institute last week. The speech is useful in one sense: it provides a handy summary of just about every creative and mendacious argument that die-hard opponents of the JCPOA have been cooking up since the agreement was signed. Unfortunately, it is neither an accurate guide to the agreement, to its current status, nor more importantly, to U.S. interests.

Fair use excerpt. Read the rest here.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/the-case-against-the-iranian-nuclear-deal-is-one-big-lie/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/11/the-case-against-the-iranian-nuclear-deal-is-one-big-lie/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 19:52:23 GMT