Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:51:52 GMT Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:51:52 GMT Thanksgiving 2017 - Why There Is No Peace On Earth David Stockman http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/24/thanksgiving-2017-why-there-is-no-peace-on-earth/

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow's White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.

To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

We have elaborated more fully on this proposition in "The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson's War", but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 26 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation's capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony.

In short, there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.

So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.

In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1991 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

In fact, during the past 26 years Imperial Washington has lost all memory that peace was ever possible at the end of the cold war. Today it is as feckless, misguided and bloodthirsty as were Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna and London in August 1914.

Back then a few months after the slaughter had been unleashed, soldiers along the western front broke into spontaneous truces of Christmas celebration, singing and even exchange of gifts. For a brief moment they wondered why they were juxtaposed in lethal combat along the jaws of hell.

The truthful answer is that there was no good reason. The world had stumbled into war based on false narratives and the institutional imperatives of military mobilization plans, alliances and treaties arrayed into a doomsday machine and petty short-term diplomatic maneuvers and political calculus. Yet it took more than three-quarters of a century for all the consequential impacts and evils to be purged from the life of the planet.

The peace that was lost last time has not been regained this time for the same reasons. Historians can readily name the culprits from 100 years ago, such as the German general staff's plan for a lightening mobilization and strike on the western front called the Schlieffen Plan or Britain's secret commitments to France to guard the North Sea while the latter covered the Mediterranean.

Since these casus belli of 1914 were criminally trivial in light of all that metastisized thereafter, it might do well to name the institutions and false narratives that block the return of peace today. The fact is, these impediments are even more contemptible than the forces that crushed the Christmas truces one century ago.

Imperial Washington: Global Menace

There is no peace on earth today for reasons mainly rooted in Imperial Washington -- not Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, Mosul or Raqqah. The former has become a global menace owing to what didn't happen in 1991.

What should have happened is that Bush the elder should have declared "mission accomplished" and slashed the Pentagon budget from $600 billion to $200 billion; demobilized the military-industrial complex by putting a moratorium on all new weapons development, procurement and export sales; dissolved NATO and dismantled the far-flung network of US military bases; slashed the US standing armed forces from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand; and organized and led a world disarmament and peace campaign, as did his Republican predecessors during the 1920s.

Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush was not a man of peace, vision, or even mediocre intelligence. He was the malleable tool of the War Party, and it was he who single-handedly blew the peace when he plunged America into a petty argument between the impetuous dictator of Iraq and the gluttonous Emir of Kuwait that was none of our business.

By contrast, even though liberal historians have reviled Warren G. Harding as some kind of dumbkopf politician, he well understood that the Great War had been for naught, and that to insure it never happened again the nations of the world needed to rid themselves of their huge navies and standing armies.

To that end, he achieved the largest global disarmament agreement ever during the Washington Naval conference of 1921, which halted the construction of new battleships for more than a decade.

And while he was at it, President Harding also pardoned Eugene Debs. So doing, he gave witness to the truth that the intrepid socialist candidate for president and vehement anti-war protestor, who Wilson had thrown in prison for exercising his first amendment right to speak against US entry into a pointless European war, had been right all along.

In short, Warren G. Harding knew the war was over, and the folly of Wilson's 1917 plunge into Europe's bloodbath should not be repeated at all hazards.

Not George H.W. Bush. The man should never be forgiven for enabling the likes of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Gates and their neocon pack of jackals to come to power -- even if he has denounced them in his bumbling old age.

Even more to the point, by opting not for peace but for war and oil in the Persian Gulf in 1991 he opened the gates to an unnecessary confrontation with Islam and nurtured the rise of jihadist terrorism that would not haunt the world today save for forces unleashed by George Bush's petulant quarrel with Saddam Hussein.

We will momentarily get to the 45-year old error that holds the Persian Gulf is an American Lake and that the answer to high old prices and energy security is the Fifth Fleet. Actually, the answer to high oil prices everywhere and always is high oil prices -- a truth driven home in spades again two years ago when the Brent oil price plunged below $35 per barrel.

But first it is well to remember that there was no plausible threat anywhere on the planet to the safety and security of the citizens of Springfield MA, Lincoln NE or Spokane WA when the cold war ended.

The Warsaw Pact had dissolved into more than a dozen woebegone sovereign statelets; the Soviet Union was now unscrambled into 15 independent and far-flung Republics from Belarus to Tajikistan; and the Russian motherland would soon plunge into an economic depression that would leave it with a GDP about the size of the Philadelphia SMSA.

Likewise, China's GDP was even smaller and more primitive than Russia's. Even as Mr. Deng was discovering the PBOC printing press that would enable it to become a great mercantilist exporter, an incipient threat to national security was never in the cards. After all, it was 4,000 Wal-Marts in America upon which the prosperity of the new red capitalism inextricably depended and upon which the rule of the communist oligarchs in Beijing was ultimately anchored.

No Islamic Or Jihadi Terrorist Threat Circa 1990

In 1991 there was no global Islamic threat or jihadi terrorist menace at all. What existed under those headings were sundry fragments and deposits of middle eastern religious, ethnic and tribal history that were of moment in their immediate region, but no threat to America whatsoever.

The Shiite/Sunni divide had co-existed since 671AD, but its episodic eruptions into battles and wars over the centuries had rarely extended beyond the region, and certainly had no reason to fester into open conflict in 1991.

Inside the artificial state of Iraq, which had been drawn on a map by historically ignorant European diplomats in 1916, for instance, the Shiite and Sunni got along tolerably well. That's because the nation was ruled by Saddam Hussein's Baathist brand of secular Arab nationalism.

The latter championed law and order, state driven economic development and, politically apportioned distribution from the spoils of the extensive government controlled oil sector. To be sure, Baathist socialism didn't bring much prosperity to the well-endowed lands of Mesopotamia, but Hussein did have a Christian foreign minister and no sympathy for religious extremism or violent pursuit of sectarian causes.

As it happened, the bloody Shiite/Sunni strife that plagues Iraq today and functions as a hatchery for angry young jihadi terrorists in their thousands was unleashed only after Hussein had been driven from Kuwait and the CIA had instigated an armed uprising in the Shiite heartland around Basra. That revolt was brutally suppressed by Hussein's republican guards, but it left an undertow of resentment and revenge boiling below the surface.

Needless to say, the younger Bush and his cabal of neocon warmongers could not leave well enough alone. When they foolishly destroyed Saddam Hussein and his entire regime in the pursuit of nonexistent WMDs and ties with al-Qaeda, they literally opened the gates of hell, leaving Iraq as a lawless failed state where both recent and ancient religious and tribal animosities are given unlimited violent vent.

Likewise, the Shiite theocracy ensconced in Tehran was an unfortunate albatross on the Persian people, but it was no threat to America's safety and security. The very idea that Tehran is an expansionist power bent on exporting terrorism to the rest of the world is a giant fiction and tissue of lies invented by the Washington War Party and its Bibi Netanyahu branch in order to win political support for their confrontationist policies.

Indeed, the three decade long demonization of Iran has served one over-arching purpose. Namely, it enabled both branches of the War Party to conjure up a fearsome enemy, thereby justifying aggressive policies that call for a constant state of war and military mobilization.

When the cold-war officially ended in 1991, the Cheney/neocon cabal feared the kind of drastic demobilization of the US military-industrial complex that was warranted by the suddenly more pacific strategic environment. In response, they developed an anti-Iranian doctrine that was explicitly described as a way of keeping defense spending at high cold war levels.

And the narrative they developed to this end is one of the more egregious Big Lies ever to come out of the beltway. It puts you in mind of the young boy who killed his parents, and then threw himself on the mercy of the courts on the grounds that he was an orphan!

To wit, during the 1980s the neocons in the Reagan Administration issued their own fatwa again the Islamic Republic based on its rhetorical hostility to America. Yet that enmity was grounded in Washington’s 25-year support for the tyrannical and illegitimate regime of the Shah, and constituted a founding narrative of the Islamic Republic that was not much different than America's revolutionary castigation of King George.

That the Iranians had a case is beyond doubt. The open US archives now prove that the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953 and put the utterly unsuited and megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Shah on the peacock throne to rule as a puppet in behalf of US security and oil interests.

During the subsequent decades the Shah not only massively and baldly plundered the wealth of the Persian nation; with the help of the CIA and US military, he also created a brutal secret police force known as the Savak. The latter made the East German Stasi look civilized by comparison.

All elements of Iranian society including universities, labor unions, businesses, civic organizations, peasant farmers and many more were subjected to intense surveillance by the Savak agents and paid informants. As one critic described it:
Over the years, Savak became a law unto itself, having legal authority to arrest, detain, brutally interrogate and torture suspected people indefinitely. Savak operated its own prisons in Tehran, such as Qezel-Qalaeh and Evin facilities and many suspected places throughout the country as well. Many of those activities were carried out without any institutional checks.
Ironically, among his many grandiose follies, the Shah embarked on a massive civilian nuclear power campaign in the 1970s, which envisioned literally paving the Iranian landscape with dozens of nuclear power plants.

He would use Iran’s surging oil revenues after 1973 to buy all the equipment required from Western companies -- and also fuel cycle support services such as uranium enrichment -- in order to provide his kingdom with cheap power for centuries.

At the time of the Revolution, the first of these plants at Bushehr was nearly complete, but the whole grandiose project was put on hold amidst the turmoil of the new regime and the onset of Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in September 1980. As a consequence, a $2 billion deposit languished at the French nuclear agency that had originally obtained it from the Shah to fund a ramp-up of its enrichment capacity to supply his planned battery of reactors.

Indeed, in this very context the new Iranian regime proved quite dramatically that it was not hell bent on obtaining nuclear bombs or any other weapons of mass destruction. In the midst of Iraq's unprovoked invasion of Iran in the early 1980s the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against biological and chemical weapons.

Yet at that very time, Saddam was dropping these horrific weapons on Iranian battle forces -- some of them barely armed teenage boys -- with the spotting help of CIA tracking satellites and the concurrence of Washington. So from the very beginning, the Iranian posture was wholly contrary to the War Party’s endless blizzard of false charges about its quest for nukes.

However benighted and medieval its religious views, the theocracy which rules Iran does not consist of demented war mongers. In the heat of battle they were willing to sacrifice their own forces rather than violate their religious scruples to counter Saddam’s WMDs.

Then in 1983 the new Iranian regime decided to complete the Bushehr power plant and some additional elements of the Shah’s grand plan. But when they attempted to reactivate the French enrichment services contract and buy necessary power plant equipment from the original German suppliers they were stopped cold by Washington. And when the tried to get their $2 billion deposit back, they were curtly denied that, too.

To make a long story short, the entire subsequent history of off again/on again efforts by the Iranians to purchase dual use equipment and components on the international market, often from black market sources like Pakistan, was in response to Washington’s relentless efforts to block its legitimate rights as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to complete some parts of the Shah’s civilian nuclear project.

Needless to say, it did not take much effort by the neocon “regime change” fanatics which inhabited the national security machinery, especially after the 2000 election, to spin every attempt by Iran to purchase even a lowly pump or pipe fitting as evidence of a secret campaign to get the bomb.

The exaggerations, lies, distortions and fear-mongering which came out of this neocon campaign are truly disgusting. Yet they incepted way back in the early 1990s when George H.W. Bush actually did reach out to the newly elected government of Hashemi Rafsanjani to bury the hatchet after it had cooperated in obtaining the release of American prisoners being held in Lebanon in 1989.

The latter was self-evidently a pragmatist who did not want conflict with the United States and the West; and after the devastation of the eight year war with Iraq was wholly focused on economic reconstruction and even free market reforms of Iran's faltering economy.

It is one of the great tragedies of history that the neocons managed to squelch even George Bush's better instincts with respect to rapprochement with Tehran.

So the prisoner release opening was short-lived -- especially after the top post at the CIA was assumed in 1991 by Robert Gates. He was one of the very worst of the unreconstructed cold war apparatchiks who looked peace in the eye, and elected, instead, to pervert John Quincy Adams' wise maxim by searching the globe for monsters to fabricate.

In this case the motivation was especially loathsome. Gates had been Bill Casey's right hand man during the latter's rogue tenure at the CIA in the Reagan administration. Among the many untoward projects that Gates shepherded was the Iran-Contra affair that nearly destroyed his career when it blew-up, and for which he blamed the Iranian's for its public disclosure.

From his post as deputy national security director in 1989 and then as CIA head Gates pulled out all the stops to get even. Almost single-handedly he killed-off the White House goodwill from the prisoner release, and launched the blatant myth that Iran was both sponsoring terrorism and seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.

Indeed, it was Gates who was the architect of the demonization of Iran that became a staple of War Party propaganda after the 1991. In time that morphed into the utterly false claim that Iran is an aggressive would be hegemon that is a fount of terrorism and is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, among other treacherous purposes.

That giant lie was almost single-handedly fashioned by the neocons and Bibi Netanyahu's coterie of power-hungry henchman after the mid-1990s. Indeed, the false claim that Iran posses an “existential threat” to Israel is a product of the pure red meat domestic Israeli politics that have kept Bibi in power for much of the last two decades.

But the truth is Iran has only a tiny fraction of Israel's conventional military capability. And compared to the latter's 200 odd nukes, Iran has never had a nuclear weaponization program after a small scale research program was ended in 2003.

That is not merely our opinion. It's been the sober assessment of the nation's top 17 intelligence agencies in the official National Intelligence Estimates ever since 2007. And now in conjunction with a further study in conjunction with the nuclear accord that will straight-jacket even Iran's civilian program and eliminate most of its enriched uranium stock piles and spinning capacity, the IAEA has also concluded the Iran had no secret program after 2003.

On the political and foreign policy front, Iran is no better or worse than any of the other major powers in the Middle East. In many ways it is far less of a threat to regional peace and stability than the military butchers who now run Egypt on $1.5 billion per year of US aid.

And it is surely no worse than the corpulent tyrants who squander the massive oil resources of Saudi Arabia in pursuit of unspeakable opulence and decadence to the detriment of the 30 million citizens which are not part of the regime, and who one day may well reach the point of revolt.

When it comes to the support of terrorism, the Saudis have funded more jihadists and terrorists throughout the region than Iran ever even imagined.

Myth Of The Shiite Crescent

In this context, the War Party’s bloviation about Iran’s leadership of the so-called Shiite Crescent is another component of Imperial Washington's 26-year long roadblock to peace. Iran wasn't a threat to American security in 1991, and it has never since then organized a hostile coalition of terrorists that require Washington's intervention.

Start with Iran's long-standing support of Bashir Assad's government in Syria. That alliance that goes back to his father’s era and is rooted in the historic confessional politics of the Islamic world.

The Assad regime is Alawite, a branch of the Shiite, and despite the regime’s brutality, it has been a bulwark of protection for all of Syria’s minority sects, including Christians, against a majority-Sunni ethnic cleansing. The latter would surely have occurred if the Saudi (and Washington) supported rebels, led by the Nusra Front and ISIS, had succeeded in taking power.

Likewise, the fact that the Baghdad government of the broken state of Iraq -- that is, the artificial 1916 concoction of two stripped pants European diplomats (Messrs. Sykes and Picot of the British and French foreign offices, respectively) -- is now aligned with Iran is also a result of confessional politics and geo-economic propinquity.

For all practical purposes, the Kurds of the northeast have declared their independence; and the now "liberated" western Sunni lands of the upper Euphrates have been physically and economically destroyed -- after first being conquered by ISIS with American weapons dropped in place by the hapless $25 billion Iraqi army minted by Washington’s departing proconsuls.

Accordingly, what is left of Iraq is a population that is overwhelmingly Shiite, and which nurses bitter resentments after two decades of violent conflict with the Sunni forces. Why in the world, therefore, wouldn’t they ally with their Shiite neighbor?

Likewise, the claim that Iran is now trying to annex Yemen is pure claptrap. The ancient territory of Yemen has been racked by civil war off and on since the early 1970s. And a major driving force of that conflict has been confessional differences between the Sunni south and the Shiite north.

In more recent times, Washington’s blatant drone war inside Yemen against alleged terrorists and its domination and financing of Yemen’s governments eventually produced the same old outcome. That is, another failed state and an illegitimate government which fled at the 11th hour, leaving another vast cache of American arms and equipment behind.

Accordingly, the Houthi forces now in control of substantial parts of the country are not some kind of advanced guard sent in by Tehran. They are indigenous partisans who share a confessional tie with Iran, but which have actually been armed by the US.

And the real invaders in this destructive civil war are the Saudis, whose vicious bombing campaign against civilian populations controlled by the Houthis are outright war crimes if the word has any meaning at all.

Finally, there is the fourth element of the purported Iranian axis -- the Hezbollah controlled Shiite communities of southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Like everything else in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a product of historical European imperialism, Islamic confessional politics and the frequently misguided and counterproductive security policies of Israel.

In the first place, Lebanon was not any more a real country than Iraq was when Sykes and Picot laid their straight-edged rulers on a map. The result was a stew of religious and ethnic divisions -- Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Copts, Druse, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Kurds, Armenians, Jews and countless more -- that made the fashioning of a viable state virtually impossible.

At length, an alliance of Christians and Sunnis gained control of the country, leaving the 40% Shiite population disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged, as well. But it was the inflow of Palestinian refugees in the 1960s and 1970s that eventually upset the balance of sectarian forces and triggered a civil war that essentially lasted from 1975 until the turn of the century.

It also triggered a catastrophically wrong-headed Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, and a subsequent repressive occupation of mostly Shiite territories for the next eighteen years. The alleged purpose of this invasion was to chase the PLO and Yassir Arafat out of the enclave in southern Lebanon that they had established after being driven out of Jordan in 1970.

Eventually Israel succeeded in sending Arafat packing to north Africa, but in the process created a militant, Shiite-based resistance movement that did not even exist in 1982, and which in due course became the strongest single force in Lebanon’s fractured domestic political arrangements.

After Israel withdrew in 2000, the then Christian President of the county made abundantly clear that Hezbollah had become a legitimate and respected force within the Lebanese polity, not merely some subversive agent of Tehran:

“For us Lebanese, and I can tell you the majority of Lebanese, Hezbollah is a national resistance movement. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have liberated our land. And because of that, we have big esteem for the Hezbollah movement.”

So, yes, Hezbollah is an integral component of the so-called Shiite Crescent and its confessional and political alignment with Tehran is entirely plausible. But that arrangement -- however uncomfortable for Israel -- does not represent unprovoked Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border.

Instead, it’s actually the blowback from the stubborn refusal of Israeli governments -- especially the rightwing Likud governments of modern times -- to deal constructively with the Palestinian question.

In lieu of a two-state solution in the territory of Palestine, therefore, Israeli policy has produced a chronic state of war with nearly half the Lebanese population represented by Hezbollah.

The latter is surely no agency of peaceful governance and has committed its share of atrocities. But the point at hand is that given the last 35 years of history and Israeli policy, Hezbollah would exist as a menacing force on its northern border even if the theocracy didn't exist and the Shah or his heir was still on the Peacock Throne.

In short, there is no alliance of terrorism in the Shiite Crescent that threatens American security. That proposition is simply one of the Big Lies that was promulgated by the War Party after 1991; and which has been happily embraced by Imperial Washington since then in order to keep the military/industrial/security complex alive, and justify its self-appointed role as policeman of the world.

Washington's Erroneous View That The Persian Gulf Should Be An American Lake -- The Root Of Sunni Jihaddism

Likewise, the terrorist threat that has arisen from the Sunni side of the Islamic divide is largely of Washington's own making; and it is being nurtured by endless US meddling in the region's politics and by the bombing and droning campaigns against Washington's self-created enemies.

At the root of Sunni based terrorism is the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.

That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 42 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market.

Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Revolutionary Guards of Iran has produced oil—-and all they could because they desperately needed the revenue.

For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milk every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east, and most especially for its long-time alliance with the despicable regime of Saudi Arabia.

The truth is, there is no such thing as an OPEC cartel——virtually every member produces all they can and cheats whenever possible. The only thing that resembles production control in the global oil market is the fact that the Saudi princes treat their oil reserves not much differently than Exxon.

That is, they attempt to maximize the present value of their 270 billion barrels of reserves, but ultimately are no more clairvoyant at calibrating the best oil price to accomplish that than are the economists at Exxon or the IEA.

The Saudis over-estimated the staying power of China’s temporarily surging call on global supply; and under-estimated how rapidly and extensively the $100 per barrel marker reached in early 2008 would trigger a flow of investment, technology and cheap debt into the US shale patch, the Canadian tar sands, the tired petroleum provinces of Russia, the deep offshore of Brazil etc. And that’s to say nothing of solar, wind and all the other government subsidized alternative source of BTUs.

Way back when Jimmy Carter was telling us to turn down the thermostats and put on our cardigan sweaters, those of us on the free market side of the so-called energy shortage debate said the best cure for high oil prices is high prices. Now we know.

So the Fifth Fleet and its overt and covert auxiliaries should never have been there—–going all the way back to the CIA’s coup against Iranian democracy in 1953.

But having turned Iran into an enemy, Imperial Washington was just getting started when 1990 rolled around. Once again in the name of “oil security” it plunged the American war machine into the politics and religious fissures of the Persian Gulf; and did so on account of a local small potatoes conflict that had no bearing whatsoever on the safety and security of American citizens.

As US ambassador Glaspie rightly told Saddam Hussein on the eve of his Kuwait invasion, America had no dog in that hunt.

Kuwait wasn’t even a country; it was a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century.

That’s because he didn’t know what oil was or that it was there; and, in any event, it had been made a separate protectorate by the British in 1913 for reasons that are lost in the fog of diplomatic history.

Likewise, Iraq’s contentious dispute with Kuwait had been over its claim that the Emir of Kuwait was “slant drilling” across his border into Iraq’s Rumaila field. Yet it was a wholly elastic boundary of no significance whatsoever.

In fact, the dispute over the Rumaila field started in 1960 when an Arab League declaration arbitrarily marked the Iraq–Kuwait border two miles north of the southernmost tip of the Rumaila field.

And that newly defined boundary, in turn, had come only 44 years after a pair of English and French diplomats had carved up their winnings from the Ottoman Empire’s demise by laying a straight edged ruler on the map. So doing, they thereby confected the artificial country of Iraq from the historically independent and hostile Mesopotamian provinces of the Shiite in the south, the Sunni in the west and the Kurds in the north.

In short, it did not matter who controlled the southern tip of the Rumaila field—–the brutal dictator of Baghdad or the opulent Emir of Kuwait. Not the price of oil, nor the peace of America nor the security of Europe nor the future of Asia depended upon it.

The First Gulf War - A Catastrophic Error

But once again Bush the Elder got persuaded to take the path of war. This time it was by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the national security council and his Texas oilman Secretary of State. They falsely claimed that the will-o-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia.

That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of crusader boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-trained Mujahedeen of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The 1991 CNN glorified war games in the Gulf also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national security fanatics who had mislead Ronald Reagan into a massive military build-up to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear war winning capabilities and global conquest.

All things being equal, the sight of Boris Yeltsin, Vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army a few months later should have sent them into the permanent repudiation and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz managed to extract from Washington’s pyric victory in Kuwait a whole new lease on life for Imperial Washington.

Right then and there came the second erroneous predicate. To wit, that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the middle east was in America’s national interest.

More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the Gulf War proved it could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation.

What the neocon doctrine of regime change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that utlimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world which threaten normal civilian life in the West are the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the middle east.

The CIA trained and armed Mujahedeen mutated into al-Qaeda not because Bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty.

His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Bagdad after 1991.

Yes, Bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history.

The younger Bush’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled-up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But Shock and Awe blew the lid and the de-baathification campaign unleashed the furies.

Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a CIA recruit to the Afghan war a decade earlier and small-time specialist in hostage-taking and poisons, fled his no count redoubt in Kurdistan to emerge as a flamboyant agitator in the now disposed Sunni heartland.

The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers.

Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about the demise of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized Republican Guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners.

As one former US Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it:
'You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,' Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. 'When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, "If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood."'
What Gray didn’t know — but might have expected — was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca.

And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history.

Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound — and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice.

Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work.

According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’s organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’s top lieutenants.

The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities.

In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal, but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to the Shiite majority.

After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan that had been denied their 30 million strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since?

Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army.

In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. It wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria.

ISIS Is Washington's Frankenstein

Its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters.

And that wasn’t the half of it. The newly proclaimed Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington inspired and financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The latter were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door; they are the living embodiment of it. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying gas pipelines to Europe across the upper Euphrates Valley.

In any event, ISIS soon had troves of additional American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Gaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side.

So that the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene 18 months ago. But even then the Washington war party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century.

But if bombing really worked, the Islamic State would be sand and gravel by now. Indeed, as shown by the map below, it is really not much more than that anyway.

The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed out precincts of Anbar province do not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the middle east and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offers prosperity, salvation or any future at all.

What recruits them is outrage at the bombs and drones being dropped on Sunni communities by the US air force; and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean which rip apart homes, shops, offices and mosques containing as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists.

The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It was contained by the Kurds in the north and east and by Turkey with NATO’s second largest army and air force in the northwest. And it was surrounded by the Shiite crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq.

So absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiesce in their horrific rule in due course.

But with the US Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell have been opened wide. What has been puked out is not an organized war on Western civilization as Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to the mayhem in Paris.

It was just blowback carried out by that infinitesimally small salient of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt.

Needless to say, bombing wont stop them; it will just make more of them.

Ironically, what can stop them is the Assad government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. Its time to let them settle an ancient quarrel that has never been any of America’s business anyway.

But Imperial Washington is so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it can not see the obvious.

And that is why a quarter century after the cold war ended peace still hasn’t been given a chance and the reason that horrific events like November's barbarism in Paris still keep happening.

Even the so-called "inspired" terrorists like the pair who attacked San Bernardino emerge episodically because the terror that the American military visits upon Muslim lands is actually what inspires them. After all, whatever the Koran has to say about purging the infidel, it inspired no attacks on American soil until Imperial Washington went into the regime change and military intervention business in the middle east.

Another False Demon - Putin's Russia

At the end of the day there now exists a huge irony. The only force that can effectively contain and eventually eliminate the Islamic State is the so-called Shiite Crescent-----------the alliance of Iran, Baghdad, Assad and Hezbollah. But since they are allied with Putin's Russia, still another unnecessary barrier to peace on earth comes into play.

The fact is, there is no basis whatsoever for Imperial Washington's relentless campaign against Putin, and Washington-NATO's blatant intervention in Ukraine.

Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America has no interest in the current spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014.

For several centuries the Crimea has been Russian; for even longer, the Ukraine has been a cauldron of ethnic and tribal conflict, rarely an organized, independent state, and always a meandering set of borders looking for a redrawn map.

Like everything reviewed above, the source of the current calamity-howling about Russia is the Warfare State–that is, the existence of vast machinery of military, diplomatic and economic maneuver that is ever on the prowl for missions and mandates and that can mobilize a massive propaganda campaign on the slightest excitement.

The post-1991 absurdity of bolstering NATO and extending it into eastern Europe, rather than liquidating it after attaining “mission accomplished”, is just another manifestation of its baleful impact. In truth, the expansion of NATO is one of the underlying causes of America’s needless tension with Russia and Putin’s paranoia about his borders and neighbors. Indeed, what juvenile minds actually determined that America needs a military alliance with Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, and now Montenegro!

So the resounding clatter for action against Russia emanating from Washington and its house-trained media is not even a semi-rational response to the facts at hand; its just another destructive spasm of the nation’s Warfare State and its beltway machinery of diplomatic meddling, economic warfare and military intervention.

Memo To Obama: It’s Their Red Line

Not only does Washington’s relentless meddling in the current Russian- Ukrainian food fight have nothing to do with the safety and security of the American people, it also betrays woeful disregard for the elementary facts of that region’s turbulent and often bloody history.

In fact, the allegedly “occupied” territory of Crimea was actually annexed by Catherine the Great in 1783, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. Over the ages Sevastopol then emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the commissars.

For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia—a span that exceeds the 166 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego.

While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish rifles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland from Turks, Europeans and Brits.

And the portrait of the Russian “hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I—whose brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith, and who was revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans.

At the end of the day, it’s their Red Line. When the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945 he did at least know that he was in Soviet Russia.

Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev in honor of the decision by their ancestors 300 years earlier to accept the inevitable and become a vassal of Russia.

Self-evidently, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of the Ukraine—with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990’s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.

In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and in the 166-year interval since then, our national security has depended not one wit on the status of the Russian-speaking Crimea.

That the local population has now chosen fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev is their business, not ours.

The real threat to peace is not Putin, but the screeching sanctimony and mindless meddling of Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Obama should have sent them back to geography class long ago -- and before they could draw anymore new Red Lines.

The one in the Ukraine has been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of our damn business.

The current Ukrainian policy farce emanating from Washington is not only a reminder that the military-industrial-beltway complex is still alive and well, but also demonstrates why the forces of crony capitalism and money politics which sustain it are so lamentable. The fact is, the modern Warfare State has been the incubator of American imperialism since the Cold War, and is now proving itself utterly invulnerable to fiscal containment, even in the face of a $19 trillion national debt.

So 101 years after the Christmas truces along the Western Front there is still no peace on earth. And the long suffering American taxpayers, who foot the massive bills generated by the War Party's demented and destructive policies, have no clue that Imperial Washington is the principal reason.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman's ContraCorner.]]>
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Being Thankful in Difficult Times... RPI Staff http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/being-thankful-in-difficult-times/
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US-Led Anti-ISIS Coalition Ignores Civilian Deaths – and the Media Let Them Get Away With It Danielle Ryan http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-led-anti-isis-coalition-ignores-civilian-deaths-and-the-media-let-them-get-away-with-it/

The US-led coalition against ISIS has vastly played down the number of civilians that have been killed in Iraq as a result of their own airstrikes. In fact, the war against ISIS may be the "least transparent war in recent American history."

The conclusion comes from a report published by the New York Times. Reporters Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal spent 18 months investigating coalition bombing in Iraq, traveling to more than 150 sites of airstrikes across the northern part of the country. Their goal was to determine which air force launched which strikes — and whom they killed.

Troubling findings

The US-led coalition has admitted to killing civilians in a tiny minority of airstrikes. According to official figures, one civilian has been killed for every 157 airstrikes. In reality, Khan and Gopal found the actual rate is one civilian died for every five airstrikes. That means the rate of civilian deaths is 31 times higher than the US military has admitted.

The report said the most common justification given by the coalition when denying civilian casualty allegations is that it has “no record” of carrying out a strike at the time or area in question. This response, which amounts to brushing off the allegation, places the blame at someone else’s feet. The military wash their hands of the incident, and there is very little probing by politicians or the media after that.

Another excuse given by the US military is that civilians may have driven a vehicle into a target area after a bomb has been dropped and as such their deaths or injuries are unavoidable accidents – just more collateral damage.

But Khan and Gopal’s reporting calls into question some of these excuses. They found multiple discrepancies between dates and locations of strikes and what was recorded in official logs.

They also found that in about half of the strikes that killed civilians, there was “no discernible ISIS target nearby,” meaning the excuse that civilians happened to be unfortunately in the way does not always hold up. Many of those strikes, the report says, were based on “poor or outdated intelligence.”

Worse still, when civilians are indeed near legitimate ISIS targets, they are “considered guilty until proven innocent,” and those who survive the strikes “remain marked as possible ISIS sympathizers, with no discernable path to clear their names.”

Basim Razzo is one of those with a target on his head. Razzo, the Times story explains, was sleeping when a US coalition strike reduced his home in Mosul to rubble in 2015. The attack killed his wife and daughter, as well as his brother and nephew in the neighboring house. The same day, the US military uploaded a video of the strike to YouTube claiming it had destroyed an ISIS car-bomb facility, but in actual fact, it had demolished two family homes and the death’s of Razzo’s family members were never acknowledged until the Times reporters raised their case with coalition officials.

Coverage too late

When strikes like this occur, most in the media take US military officials at their word. There is very little inquiry as to the veracity of the claims regarding the numbers of civilians killed, the time and location of strikes and so on. When the media does report on civilian deaths or suggest that numbers may be higher than the US military leads us to believe, it is done in a clinical manner, and there is rarely any investigative follow-up reporting done. When caused by US coalition forces, civilian deaths are generally regarded as inevitable collateral damage.

The opposite appears to be true in the case of civilians deaths caused by either the Syrian or Russian air forces in Syria, for example. Those cases are regarded as reckless, barbaric attacks on civilians, and the more emotion-laden headlines the media can pump out about them, the better.

Khan and Gopal found “a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all.”

Perhaps that would not be the case if those in the mainstream media were putting the pressure on the US military to properly investigate reports of civilians deaths and casualties. But just as there is no will within the military to investigate these incidents, there is no will within the media to properly investigate or hold military officials accountable. Nor is there, unsurprisingly, much political will in Washington DC to investigate civilian deaths caused by American military operations.

One incident which did receive considerable coverage internationally was a US strike in Mosul in March of this year, which reportedly killed up to 200 civilians (although locals estimated up to 600 deaths). But even in such a severe case, there was very little media follow-up as to how many civilians were actually killed by those coalition strikes and the initial anger quickly dissipated.

How quickly we all forget is indicative of the attitude which says that certain numbers of civilian deaths are acceptable and even permissible during a war. Those deaths are merely a “fact of life” according to US Defense Secretary General James Mattis.

More exposure?

This new report is a serious feat of investigative journalism. It should shine a much-needed spotlight on the reality of what the US military falsely claims is “one of the most precise air campaigns in military history.”

Unfortunately, few major outlets have followed up on the Times report. It has not been radio silence. There has been some follow-up. Both MSNBC and CBS ran short segments about the report. It was also covered by Vox, Business Insider, Esquire, The Week — and some lesser known websites. Indeed, there has not been a huge amount of coverage.

It is hard to imagine the coverage would have been so contained if Khan and Gopal had been reporting on casualties caused, for example, by the Russian or Syrian militaries.

It is also hard to imagine how this “fact of life” attitude toward civilian deaths in places like Iraq and Syria would stand up if the bombs were hitting American homes and wiping out American families as they slept. How many deaths would be acceptable then?

Of course, the media can’t control how the US-led coalition operates in places like Iraq or Syria, but it is undeniable that the lack of sustained interrogation from journalists makes it a lot easier for the US military and its allies to continue killing civilians, not bothered by any kind of serious public criticism.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-led-anti-isis-coalition-ignores-civilian-deaths-and-the-media-let-them-get-away-with-it/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-led-anti-isis-coalition-ignores-civilian-deaths-and-the-media-let-them-get-away-with-it/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 13:46:03 GMT
A Basic Principle About Drug Laws Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/a-basic-principle-about-drug-laws/

Drug laws bring into existence drug gangs. it’s just a basic principle of economics. If you like drug gangs and the violence that comes with them, then you should support drug laws. if you oppose drug gangs and their violence, you should oppose drug laws.

When government enacts a drug law, the assumption is that everyone will comply with it. Drug addicts or casual drug users will presumably say, “Golly, they just made drugs illegal. I guess I had better stop now because otherwise I will be sent to jail.”

That’s not the way life works. Drug addicts need their drugs. They are willing to risk the state’s punishment. The same goes for many casual drug users. They figure that the odds of getting caught are minuscule and are willing to take the chance.

Enter what we call the black market. It consists of people who decide to sell drugs illegally to people who are willing to take the risk of buying and possessing them. Why do drug sellers violate the law? For money. By making the drug illegal, the government causes the supply of the drug to be constricted. Reduced supply means a higher price and higher profits, which aattracts sellers.

Who are the people who sell the drugs on the black market? No, not pharmacies and reputable businesses. They don’t do it because they don’t want to risk a felony prosecution and incarceration and the destruction of their businesses.

Instead, the drug sellers in the black market are the drug gangs, drug lords, and drug cartels, all of whom are fighting to expand their share of the market.

To expand their market share, drug sellers in the black market, however, do not employ the methods that businesses in legal markets use, such as advertising and marketing. Instead, black-market sellers employ violence to expand their share of the market. They just kill their competitors. That’s because the black market, unlike the free market, inevitably attracts unsavory people.

When the state cracks down on the drug lords and the drug violence, the situation only gets worse. If they bust one big drug gang, the price of drugs soars, which attracts people to take the place of those who have been busted. The fiercer the crackdown, the higher the price and the profits. The higher the price and the profits, the greater the incentive for new drug sellers.

What’s weird is how government officials are unable to recognize this phenomenon. For example, in the October 25 issue of the New York Times, Christa Castro, the minister for strategy and communication in the office of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, wrote in part:
In just the last four years, President Juan Orlando Hernández’s administration captured and extradited 14 drug lords, destroyed 150 landing strips previously used for drug trafficking, dismantled a dozen drug laboratories and cut the homicide rate by close to 50 percent…. If he is re-elected next month, criminals and drug traffickers in Honduras should prepare for a final defeat.
One has to ask: Was Castro born yesterday? How can she not know that drug war officials have been busting drug lords for decades? Has she never heard of the Medellin Cartel or the Cali Cartel? Pablo Escobar? Has she not heard about how U.S. prisons are filled with drug sellers who have been busted? What do they say about people who do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?

No, Ms. Castro, you and your president, if reelected, are not going to get rid of drug lords, drug cartels, and drug gangs by enforcing your drug laws even more fiercely. Just ask the Mexican government, which has done the same thing, with a death toll of over 100,000 dead people. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that’s a lot of people that the drug war has killed in one country alone.

There is one — and only one — way to get rid of drug gangs, drug lords, and drug cartels and the violence that comes with them: Acknowledge that drug prohibition was a mistake (just like alcohol prohibition was), repeal all drug laws, and restore the free market to drugs.

Reprinted with permission form Future of Freedom Foundation.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/a-basic-principle-about-drug-laws/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/a-basic-principle-about-drug-laws/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 13:24:10 GMT
US Military Fraud Endemic in Overseas Operations Wayne Madsen http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-military-fraud-endemic-in-overseas-operations/

History shows us that when empires over-extend themselves, military commanders become semi-independent warlords who usher into place systems of graft and corruption. Such was the case in the Roman Empire in 193 A.D., when Emperor Pertinax’s Praetorian Guard – a combination personal security force for the emperor and elite special forces unit that distinguished itself on distant battlefields – sold out the emperor in exchange for a bribe from an aspirant emperor, Didius Julianus. The Praetorian Guard assassinated Pertinax and swore their allegiance to the new emperor, Julianus.

The rot of corruption would help ensure the downfall of other global empires. The fraudulent British East India Company and its corporate nabobs, backed by British military and naval power, helped to ignite colonial rebellions in America in the 1770s and India in 1857.

As the United States has over-extended its military realm into the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Europe, the Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, corruption within so-called “Areas of Responsibility” assigned to regional US military commands has run rampant.

Within the US Pacific Command (PACOM) region, a major bribery and fraud scandal centered on a US Navy contractor, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), headed by Leonard Glenn Francis, a 350-pound Malaysian citizen nicknamed “Fat Leonard.” In return for cash, vacations at five-star hotels, first- and business-class flights, expensive concert tickets, Rolex watches, Mont Blanc pens, Dom Perignon champagne, vintage wine, Cuban cigars, spa treatments, foie gras, $2000 bottles of cognac, and prostitutes, US Navy officers provided Leonard with virtual unfettered access to Navy intelligence and sensitive contract information that was used by GDMA to secure lucrative Navy logistics contracts. The “Fat Leonard” scandal grew to include senior officers, including admirals, attached to the US Seventh Fleet in Japan. The Navy’s investigation is continuing, and more than 60 additional admirals are reportedly under investigation by law enforcement authorities. For years, the Navy scandal extended from Japan to the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sabah, South Korea, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, and Washington, DC and involved, in addition to Navy officer and enlisted personnel, Marine Corps officers and US government civilians, including investigators of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

One of the worst frauds to have arisen from the neo-conservative bowels of the George W. Bush administration was the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). The June 4, 2017, strangling death in Bamako, Mali of US Army Green Beret Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar by two US Navy SEALs is now linked to his discovery that the two Navy personnel were pocketing official funds used by AFRICOM to pay off informants in the West African country. This type of fraud points to a culture of malfeasance present in US area of responsibility commands, including AFRICOM, Central Command (CENTCOM), and Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

According to reports in The New York Times and The Daily Beast, the death of Melgar at the hands of the two SEAL thieves occurred within a barracks unit within the heavily-fortified US embassy compound in Mali. The SEALS, Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph and Adam C. Matthews, allegedly killed Melgar after he refused an offer to share their ill-gotten loot and shared, via email, his concerns with his wife back in the United States. The SEALS claimed Melgar died after becoming unconscious during a hand-to-hand combat training session. The SEALS also told military investigators that Melgar was drunk when he became unconscious as the result of a chokehold placed on him during the roughhousing. However, the US Special Operations Command and Army Criminal Investigative Command (USACIC) decided the SEALS had changed their stories so many times that they became subjects, rather than witnesses, in the investigation. An autopsy revealed that there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Melgar's body at the time of his death. Furthermore, Melgar was reported by friends and family to have been a teetotaler.

AFRICOM and USACIC tried to cover up the details of Melgar's death until The New York Times originally broke the story about the death last month. USACIC handed off investigation of the case to the NCIS, which is worse than its Army counterpart in covering up sensitive military criminal cases. Neither of the two SEALS, both of whom were transferred back to the United States and were placed on administrative leave, have been charged in the murder of Melgar. It was apparently officers of the US Special Operations Command, which is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, who tipped off the press about the cover-up involving Melgar's death.

AFRICOM has also been hesitant to provide full details about an ambush of a joint US-Nigerien unit operating near the Niger village of Tongo-Tongo in October of this year. Four US Army personnel were killed by an armed force that remains unidentified by AFRICOM. Tongo-Tongo sits astride a major African smuggling route for humans, drugs, ivory, and weapons between West Africa and the failed state of Libya. It was later reported that the four US soldiers died at the hands of the attackers after their unit's Nigerien army personnel fled the scene during the attack. The body of one of the American troops, Sgt. La David Johnson, showed signs of being tortured and executed by the unidentified captors.

The case of Melgar is similar to the murder of West Point ethics professor, Army Col. Ted Westhusing in Baghdad in 2005. Like AFRICOM in Mali and other African countries, CENTCOM was entrusted with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash used to pay-off informants and make local purchases on the Iraqi economy.

Westhusing's family and friends rejected the Army's determination that Westhusing took his own life. The Army based its decision on a "suicide" note said to be written in Westhusing's handwriting. At the time of his death, Westhusing was investigating contract violations and human rights abuses by US Investigations Services (USIS), a privatized former entity of the US Office of Personnel Management later purchased by The Carlyle Group, a firm with close links to George H. W. Bush. While he was in Iraq training Iraqi police and overseeing the USIS contract to train police as part of the Pentagon's Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, Westhusing received an anonymous letter that reported USIS's Private Services Division (PSD) was engaged in fraudulent activities in Iraq, including over-billing the government. In addition, the letter reported that USIS security personnel had murdered innocent Iraqis. After demanding answers from USIS, Westhusing reported the problems up the chain of command. After an "investigation," the Army found no evidence of wrongdoing by USIS.

Days before his supposed suicide by a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound in a Camp Dublin, Iraq, trailer located at Baghdad International Airport, West Point Honor Board member Westhusing reported in e-mail to the United States that "terrible things were going on in Iraq." He also said he hoped he would make it back to the United States alive. Westhusing had three weeks left in his tour of duty in Iraq when he allegedly shot himself in June 2005.

The cover-up of Westhusing's death involved the same Army Criminal Investigative Command that covered up Melgar's death in Mali. The murders of Melgar and Westhusing are not stand-alone events regarding US military forays around the world. Army Corporal Pat Tillman, the star National Football League player who enlisted in the Army after 9/11, became disillusioned with the war in Afghanistan. After Tillman's private feelings about the Afghan war were discovered by senior commanders in his chain-of-command, Tillman was "fragged" by members of his own unit in Khost province on April 22, 2004. Tillman's diary, uniforms, and other possessions were burned by his unit to cover up his execution by his own colleagues.

On September 4, 2006, Army Lt. Col. Marshall Gutierrez, the chief logistics officer at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, who was investigating over-payments for goods and services and other fraud, supposedly committed suicide in his base quarters after ingesting prescription sleeping pills and anti-freeze. In December 2006, Army Major Gloria Davis, a contracting officer at Camp Arifjan, allegedly committed suicide in Kuwait after she admitted to receiving $225,000 in bribes from Lee Dynamics, an Army logistics contractor. Davis had reportedly agreed to cooperate with government investigators in their overall investigation of contract fraud in Iraq and Kuwait.

In 2007, a senior Blackwater manager threatened to kill Jean C. Richter, the chief US State Department investigator of Blackwater's dubious operations in Iraq, unless the State Department called off the investigation. The incident occurred as Richter focused on problems with Blackwater's $1 billion State Department contract. The CEO of Blackwater was Erik Prince, whose sister, Betsy DeVos, now serves as Donald Trump's Education Secretary. Prince later sold Blackwater, which is now known as Academi. Prince has reportedly been involved in AFRICOM operations in Libya and Somalia via his Reflex Responses (R2) firm, which is based in Abu Dhabi.

The July 2, 2007, "suicide" of Army Lt. Col. Thomas Mooney, the US Defense Attaché in Nicosia, Cyprus, was said to be the result of a "self-inflicted cut to the throat." Mooney's body was found next to an embassy vehicle parked in a secluded location, some 30 miles west of Nicosia. He was said to have left the embassy in the embassy's black Impala Chevrolet to pick up an arriving passenger at Larnaca International Airport. Although the US embassy and State Department ruled Mooney's death a suicide, the Cypriot police did not agree with those findings but merely pointed out that suicide was illegal in Cyprus. Mooney was, according to our sources, investigating Iraq-related contract fraud involving companies headquartered in Cyprus, some of which were linked to the Israeli Mafia.

AFRICOM and PACOM 
 just as is the case with CENTCOM, which complements the culture of baksheesh bribery in the Middle East and South Asia  now find themselves mired in the same depths of kleptocratic fraud as is practiced in countries like Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, where AFRICOM is active. The Fat Leonard scandal and the recent murder of Melgar in Mali are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the malfeasance involved in global US military operations.

When it comes to the US military operating in its overseas locations, the Latin phrase popularized by the Roman poet Juvenal, perhaps wise to the corruption of the Praetorian Guard of his time, comes to mind. “Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” “Who watches the watchmen?”

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-military-fraud-endemic-in-overseas-operations/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/23/us-military-fraud-endemic-in-overseas-operations/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 13:03:26 GMT
JFK, the CIA, and Secrecy Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/jfk-the-cia-and-secrecy/

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who famously said,
The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings…
Isn’t that the ultimate of ironies, given that the “investigation” into his assassination was shrouded in secrecy and continues to be shrouded in secrecy?

It’s been that way since the day of the assassination. Everything was said to involve “national security,” which were (and are) the two most important words in the American political lexicon. Most of the proceedings of the Warren Commission, which was charged with pinning the assassination on Lee Harvey Oswald, were conducted in secret. The commission ordered that records relating to its proceedings be kept secret from the American people … for 75 years! When Warren was asked if Americans would ever be permitted to see the records, he responded, “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime….”

Immediately upon JFK’s death, a team of Secret Service agents, following orders from new President Lyndon Johnson, forced their way out of Parkland Hospital, where the president had died. Brandishing guns and screaming profanities, they made it clear to Dallas Medical Examiner Earl Rose that they had absolutely no intention of complying with Texas law, which required that Rose conduct an autopsy.

They took the body to Dallas Love Field, where Johnson was waiting for it. The body was delivered into the hands of the military in Maryland, which conducted an autopsy under top-secret conditions. Military personnel who participated in the autopsy were required to sign secrecy oaths in which they promised never to reveal what they had seen.

In the 1990s, thanks to Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, the American people came to the realization that the CIA, the military, and other national-security state agencies were still shrouding their assassination records in secrecy. Public pressure caused Congress to enact the JFK Records Act in 1992, which ordered the CIA, the military, FBI, Secret Service, and other national-security state agencies to show their assassination records to the American people.

That was when it dawned on a lot of Americans that the military had conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy on the president’s body. The evidence is detailed in my book The Kennedy Autopsy but I’ll share one example here. Saundra Spencer was petty officer in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Washington, D.C. She dealt with classified documents and worked closely with the White House. It would be virtually impossible to find a more credible witness than Saundra Spencer, and no one anywhere has ever questioned her competence and veracity.

When Spencer testified before the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s, she was shown the official autopsy photographs. She said that those photographs were not the ones she was asked to develop on the weekend of the assassination. The ones she developed showed a big exit-sized hole in the back of the president’s head. The official photographs she was shown showed the back of the president’s head to be intact.

Spencer’s testimony matched the statements of the Dallas doctors and nurses who treated Kennedy. They too said the president had a big exit-sized hole in the back of his head.

Why is that important? Because a big exit-sized hole in the back of the president’s head means the headshot that killed Kennedy came from the front. Oswald, the person who the Warren Commission concluded shot the president, was situated in the rear.

For some reason, perhaps pressure on Congress from the CIA and the military, the JFK Records Act gave the CIA and the military another 25 years of secrecy, which undoubtedly felt like a long time away back in the 1990s. That deadline expired on October 26, 2017.

Not surprisingly, however, the CIA said it needed even more time for secrecy. It wants to continue keeping its assassination records secret from the American people. Unfortunately, President Trump, at the very day of the deadline, granted the request. Notwithstanding all the hoopla in the mainstream press about the “release” of the JFK records, some 95 percent of the remaining records in the National Archives are being kept secret from the American people.

Not surprisingly, there has been nary a peep of protest from the mainstream press, which has blindly deferred to authority since November 22, 1963, automatically buying into the standard “national security” line that the CIA and the military have used to justify their secrecy in the JFK assassination for more than 50 years. It just doesn’t occur to these people that the reason for continued secrecy is not “national security” but rather the need to keep the most incriminating circumstantial evidence secret forever, or at least for another 25 years. 

Perhaps all those mainstream commentators have never read what President Kennedy said about secrecy or perhaps they just don’t care:
“The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings….
For more information, see:

The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger

JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne

Regime Change: The JFK Assassination by Jacob Hornberger

The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger

CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley

The National Security State and JFK,” a FFF conference featuring Oliver Stone and ten other speakers

Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence,” a five-part video by Douglas P. Horne

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/jfk-the-cia-and-secrecy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/jfk-the-cia-and-secrecy/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 20:07:33 GMT
Abolish The TSA As Soon As Possible. With Guest Jim Bovard Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/abolish-the-tsa-as-soon-as-possible-with-guest-jim-bovard/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/abolish-the-tsa-as-soon-as-possible-with-guest-jim-bovard/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/22/abolish-the-tsa-as-soon-as-possible-with-guest-jim-bovard/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 18:55:50 GMT
Who’s A ‘Foreign Agent’? Justin Raimondo http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/who-s-a-foreign-agent/

You know life’s become a joke when the US Department of Justice starts requiring foreign media to register as foreign agents. Will the BBC be forced to issue a disclaimer with every broadcast and web posting: “Proceed with caution – British propaganda ahead”? Don’t bet the ranch on it.

Such distinctions are reserved for the current bogeyman of the moment, i.e. typically some marginal outlet with a small-to-minuscule audience, in this case RT, formerly Russia Today, and its companion web site Sputnik. Banned from advertising on Twitter, and the subject of an official investigation by both houses of Congress and a special counsel, these two relatively minor state-sponsored outlets are nonetheless credited with nearly single-handedly putting Donald Trump in the White House.

It didn’t take much to create the kind of atmosphere in which a direct assault on the First Amendment goes largely unnoticed and even implicitly supported. A mysterious Russian “troll farm” amplifying the perfidious “divisiveness” of RT/Sputnik “disinformation,” a few hundred thousand bucks in Facebook ads (mostly placed after the election), and the “expert” testimony of professional hysterics who traffic in the mythology of the new cold war. Such are the ingredients that go into the making of a new industry, or rather a revived one: Kremlinology.

Compared to the “experts” of yesteryear, today’s Kremlinologists are a crankish lot. Bereft of any real knowledge of either Russian politics or the language, their elaborate conspiracy theories are unanchored by observable facts. Instead, we are treated to a series of mysterious “links,” and seemingly ambiguous meetings, which add up to a monumental nothing. Twitter accounts that may or may not be real human beings retweet “fake news” generated and centrally directed by Vladimir Putin, and this – so they tell us – was a meaningful and even a decisive factor in the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this nonsense is now the conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., where the foreign lobbies that matter, the ones with real power, rule the roost.

Since professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have done such a thorough job documenting the power and influence of Israel’s lobby in the US, the often decisive role played by AIPAC and allied groups is today largely acknowledged, even by the lobby’s partisans. If you have time or inclination, it’s worth looking into how AIPAC – surely not an insignificant force — and its predecessors were exempted from having to register under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Senator William J. Fulbright and the lobby had quite a go-round during congressional hearings on the subject.

How many foreign-funded thinktanks in Washington are pushing an agenda dictated by the amount of cold hard cash flowing into their coffers from abroad? Shall we have the public pronouncements of the Alliance to Secure Democracy – funded by a bakers’ dozen of foreign governments – labeled with the requisite Department of Justice “disclaimer”? What about the sainted Brookings Institution, which is on the take from a couple of dubious sources? And if not, why not?

Ranked in terms of their real influence and reach, the Russians are on a par with Syria, Zimbabwe, and the office of the Orleanist Pretender to the French Throne. The lobbyists with real clout – the Saudis, the Israelis, the EU/Franco-Gerrman bloc, the China lobbies (Taiwan and the mainland), not to mention George Soros, who surely qualifies as a country – are given free rein. If the feds are now intent on strictly enforcing the FARA, there are an awful lot of folks in the Imperial City who are going to have to come out of the closet, so to speak, and admit they’re simply megaphones for foreign actors.

If we’re going to start prohibiting or even limiting the activities of foreign lobbyists, then groups like the Atlantic Council – flush with foreign cash — are going to be set back on their heels. Which is why a strict double standard is in place and will remain so.

Indeed, ordinary standards of all sort, including the rules of evidence, have been thrown underfoot in the Blame Russia stampede to such an extent that to express certain views — say, on NATO expansion, or the wisdom of carrying out provocative military exercises at the gates of Moscow – is to be labeled an “unconscious agent” of the Russian state. Which means, of course, that anyone who challenges the new cold war paradigm, and criticizes US foreign policy as hegemonist, not in our interests, and dangerous, is part of the alleged Russian conspiracy to “undermine our democracy.”

Like the Kremlinologists of the 1950s, our phony “experts” are shameless opportunists looking to cash in on the latest fad: unlike their predecessors, however, none of these people actually knows anything about Russia, foreign policy, or “Putinism,” so-called. The old school anti-Communist “experts” who solemnly testified before Congress that subversion was everywhere in our midst at least had some real experience: many of them were ex-Communists, who knew the ideology and its adherents inside out.

Not so this latest batch: their insubstantial visions of ghostly cyber-armies who somehow maneuvered not only the election of Donald Trump but also pulled off Brexit, are unconvincing. Yet propaganda, to be effective, needn’t be all that convincing: volume and the power of sheer repetition are often enough to achieve the desired result, which in this case is to demonize anyone who opposes the new cold war with Russia.

That’s why, time after time, we see the professional smear-mongers going after Antiwar.com, as well as any other “alternative” media that fails to go along with the “mainstream” script. Thus I was treated to the ridiculous spectacle of seeing the Russians blamed for the Catalonian secession movement on the grounds that I – being “reliably pro-Russian” – supported the Catalan cause!

The War Party wants to drive anyone who opposes their agenda out of the public square, and silence proponents of peace once and for all. The next phase of this witch-hunt is to go after Putin’s so-called “dupes” and “fellow travelers,” which means anyone who opposes our foreign policy of global intervention but can’t be directly tied to Russia.

The militarists don’t want a foreign policy debate: their whole modus operandi is to shut down debate, to delegitimize dissent from the bipartisan interventionist status quo as a Russian covert operation. You’ll notice that their favorite argument these days is that such-and-such is “divisive.” Brazen and quite clever, actually, this openly censorious quasi-authoritarian tone is really an act of desperation. Faced with the public’s overwhelming opposition to new wars, the War Party has decided to simply outlaw the opposition – that is, to shut it down in the name of curbing “foreign influence.”

As we have seen, however, what’s really going on here is the fierce competition of foreign interests. It’s a question of which foreign interests will gain the favor of the Empire, and thus the upper hand, at any given moment. In the Washington casino, every conceivable country and would-be country is represented with cash on the table, hoping the Wheel of Fashion will turn in their direction. Every interest has a place at the table – with a singe exception. The lobby for America, the one pressure group that puts American interests first, is nowhere in evidence. I’m afraid it’s too much to expect that US government officials are and ought to be the front line defenders of American interests narrowly conceived.

If anyone is surprised that journalists haven’t been the first ones to protest the imposition of content regulations on “foreign” media, then they are being naïve. The “liberal” media has been agitating for some form of censorship, whether governmental edicts against “hate speech” or corporate conformity compacts, and Russia-gate has been their bread and butter. Perhaps this accounts for the tepid statement of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which declared “We’re uncomfortable with governments deciding what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”

An outright assault on the First Amendment is a mere discomfort: is that the Founders I hear weeping?

The Freedom of the Press Foundation worried that the DOJ decision “opens up serious risk of retaliation for many brave journalists who work in Russia – both independent reporters who may get funding from the US and the US government’s own Voice of America.” So their big worry is what this will do to US government propaganda efforts: no hint that a far more important principle is at stake.

What’s in store for us is a full-fledged no-holds-barred all-out witch hunt, with the reincarnation and rebranding of the ill-favored “House Un-American Activities Committee,” and, worse, the revival of the hysteria that made it possible. There can’t be any compromise in a fight of this kind: the enemy is out to illegalize us. They want to make dissent the equivalent of treason. We can’t let them succeed.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/who-s-a-foreign-agent/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/who-s-a-foreign-agent/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:52:43 GMT
Saudi Purges Explained, With Marwa Osman Live From Lebanon Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/saudi-purges-explained-with-marwa-osman-live-from-lebanon/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/saudi-purges-explained-with-marwa-osman-live-from-lebanon/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/saudi-purges-explained-with-marwa-osman-live-from-lebanon/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:02:51 GMT
Did the US Allow ISIS to Escape to Keep the Fighting Going? Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/did-the-us-allow-isis-to-escape-to-keep-the-fighting-going/

Americans have been living in a country that has not known peace since 9/11, when President George W. Bush and his posse of neoconservatives delivered the message to the world that “you are either with us or against us.” The threat was coupled with flurry of hastily conceived legislation that opened the door to the unconstitutional “war on terror” carried out at the whim of the Chief Executive, a conflict which was from the start conceived of as a global military engagement without end.

Bush and his handlers might not have realized it at the time but they were initiating a completely new type of warfare. To be sure, there would be fighting on the ground worldwide against an ideologically driven enemy somewhat reminiscent of communism, but there would also be included “regime change” of governments in countries that were not completely on board with the direction coming out of Washington. Instead of invading and occupying a country in the old-fashioned way, so the thinking went, far better to just knock off the top levels and let the natives sort things out while acting under direction from the pros in Washington.

Even though “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan did not work out very well, Bush saw himself as a triumphant war leader with his vainglorious “Mission Accomplished,” and he later dubbed himself the “decider.” He insisted that his reelection in 2004 when running against a weak John Kerry was a validation of his policies by the American people, but one has to wonder how many voters really understood that they were signing on for perpetual war that would of necessity also diminish their most cherished liberties.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and US President Barack Obama followed Bush and made it clear that there would be no stepping back from a policy of proactively “protecting” the American people. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed Libya, a disaster that is still playing out, increased involvement in Syria, and introduced death by drone for both American citizens who have transgressed and random foreigners who fit a profile. And to eliminate any pushback to what he was doing, Obama relied on invoking the state secrets privilege to block legal challenges more times than all his predecessors in office combined.

And now we have President Donald Trump, whose foreign policy is particularly unarticulated, though in many ways similar to that of his predecessors. The United States is increasing its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has been engaged for longer than in any previous war, is threatening both Iran and North Korea with annihilation, and is hopelessly entangled in Trump’s pledge to completely eliminate ISIS. Indeed, destroying ISIS (and al-Qaeda) has been the one clearly articulated part of the Trump foreign policy, though there are also occasional assertions that it should be accompanied by yet one more try at regime change in Damascus.

And the grand tradition of using military might to back up diplomacy has certainly found little favor, so much so that it is certainly clear even to the supine American public and a risk averse congress that there is something wrong in Foggy Bottom. It is astonishing to note the mainstream media, which reviled George W. Bush when he was in office, describing him currently as a voice of moderation and restraint due to his recent criticism of the White House. You can’t go wrong if you pile on Trump.

Even the US media has been reluctantly reporting that ISIS has been rolled back in Syria by the joint efforts of the Syrian Army and the Russian air force with the United States and its allies playing very much secondary roles in the conflict. The Russians have, in fact, complained that Washington seemed just a tad disinterested in actually cooperating to destroy the last remnants of ISIS in the few areas that the group still controls, citing most recently an alleged incident during the Syrian government liberation of the town of Abu Kamal in which US air assets on site appear to have allowed ISIS fighters to escape.

The shambles of American policy as it applies to the Middle East was highlighted by yet another similar and particularly bizarre episode that was revealed initially by the BBC on Monday of last week. In early October, when the Syrians and Russians were closing in from the west on Raqqa, the “capital” of the ISIS caliphate while the U.S supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which predominantly consists of the Kurdish militias, was closing in from the east, a deal was reportedly struck to permit an evacuation of the remaining ISIS fighters and their families.

According to the BBC investigative report, the SDF and Kurds were wary of clearing out the remaining fighters from the ruins of the city and so negotiated an agreement whereby the ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq and their families would be able to leave and be allowed to either go home and face the consequences or proceed to ISIS controlled areas about one hundred miles away. The objective was to avoid a final assault from the air and using artillery that would have produced a bloodbath killing thousands, including large numbers of civilians. The agreement stipulated that only ISIS fighters who were local would be allowed to leave. Others, referred to as “foreigners,” from Europe, Africa or Asia would have to surrender in order to avoid their going free and getting involved in new terrorist activity after returning home.

US and British military advisers who were with the SDF and Kurds reported, somewhat improbably, that they had not been party to the negotiations, that it was “all-locals,” though they later admitted that there had been some involvement on their part. In the event, trucks and busses were assembled on October 14th, formed into a convoy, and were loaded with more than 4,000 fighters and families. More than 100 ISIS-owned vehicles also were allowed to leave and there were ten trucks filled with weapons. The convoy stretched for more than four miles and film footage shows trucks pulling trailers filled with militants brandishing their weapons. The fighters were not allowed to display flags or banners but they were not forced to disarm and in fact loaded all the vehicles with as many weapons as they could carry, so much so that one truck broke its axle from the weight. The BBC reported that “This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.”

The drivers reported that they were abused by the ISIS fighters, many of whom were wearing explosive belts, and they also claimed that there was a large percentage of foreigners among those escaping. Various drivers told the BBC that there were French, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Saudi, Chinese, Tunisian and Egyptian nationals among their passengers. The evacuees made it safely to ISIS controlled territory and presumably will be ready, willing and able to fight again.

The escape of the Islamic State from Raqqa is, to put it mildly, bizarre. One might accept that avoiding the carnage that would have been part and parcel of an assault on the shattered city should have weighed heavily on the decision making by the attacking forces, but allowing hardened fighters to escape with their weapons would hardly seem a good way to end the conflict. In May, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said on television that the war against ISIS was one of “…annihilation. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so.”

Well, Mattis was possibly lying back then, or at least saying what he thought would play well on television and in the newspapers. On November 14th, the day after the BBC story about Raqqa broke, he lied again, saying that the United States is in Syria under a U.N. authorization to fight ISIS, which is not true. The Russians have been invited into the country by its legitimate government but the US is not there legally. The Turks are claiming that there are 13 US military bases already in Syria, some of which are permanent.

Mattis added to his bit of fiction by stating, somewhat ominously, that while the first phase of the ISIS war is coming to an end “Basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out. But that doesn’t mean we just walk away and let ISIS 2.0 pop back around. The enemy hasn’t declared they’re done with the war yet. So, we’ll keep fighting them as long as they want to fight.”

A waggish friend of mine suggested that Mattis might be deliberately selectively releasing ISIS fighters so the US will never have to leave Syria, but my own theory is somewhat different. I think that Washington, which has done so little to defeat ISIS, wants some threat to continue so it can keep its own “resistance forces” in place and active to give it a seat at the table and a voice at the upcoming Geneva discussions for a political settlement in Syria. Otherwise Washington will be outside looking in. The unspeakable Nikki Haley at the U.N. appears to endorse that line of thinking by asserting that Washington will continue “to fight for justice” in Syria no matter what the rest of the world decides to do.

Does this mean that we can expect considerable fumbling and a game with no exit strategy, something like a replay of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? You betcha.

Reprinted with author's permission from Unz Review.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/did-the-us-allow-isis-to-escape-to-keep-the-fighting-going/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/21/did-the-us-allow-isis-to-escape-to-keep-the-fighting-going/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:38:20 GMT
DOD Conference Bill Passed...Yet We're Less Safe & Poorer Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/dod-conference-bill-passedyet-were-less-safe-poorer/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/dod-conference-bill-passedyet-were-less-safe-poorer/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/dod-conference-bill-passedyet-were-less-safe-poorer/ Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:41:04 GMT
Why Are We Helping Saudi Arabia Destroy Yemen? Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/why-are-we-helping-saudi-arabia-destroy-yemen/

It’s remarkable that whenever you read an article about Yemen in the mainstream media, the central role of Saudi Arabia and the United States in the tragedy is glossed over or completely ignored. A recent Washington Post article purporting to tell us “how things got so bad” explains to us that, “it's a complicated story” involving “warring regional superpowers, terrorism, oil, and an impending climate catastrophe.”

No, Washington Post, it’s simpler than that. The tragedy in Yemen is the result of foreign military intervention in the internal affairs of that country. It started with the “Arab Spring” which had all the fingerprints of State Department meddling, and it escalated with 2015’s unprovoked Saudi attack on the country to re-install Riyadh’s preferred leader. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and millions more are at risk as starvation and cholera rage.

We are told that US foreign policy should reflect American values. So how can Washington support Saudi Arabia – a tyrannical state with one of the worst human rights record on earth – as it commits by what any measure is a genocide against the Yemeni people? The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs warned just last week that Yemen faces "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims." The Red Cross has just estimated that a million people are vulnerable in the cholera epidemic that rages through Yemen.

And why is there a cholera epidemic? Because the Saudi government – with US support – has blocked every port of entry to prevent critical medicine from reaching suffering Yemenis. This is not a war. It is cruel murder.

The United States is backing Saudi aggression against Yemen by cooperating in every way with the Saudi military. Targeting, intelligence, weapons sales, and more. The US is a partner in Saudi Arabia’s Yemen crimes.

Does holding hands with Saudi Arabia as it slaughters Yemeni children really reflect American values? Is anyone even paying attention?

The claim that we are fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen and thus our involvement is covered under the post-9/11 authorization for the use of force is without merit. In fact it has been reported numerous times in the mainstream media that US intervention on behalf of the Saudis in Yemen is actually a boost to al-Qaeda in the country. Al-Qaeda is at war with the Houthis who had taken control of much of the country because the Houthis practice a form of Shi’a Islam they claim is tied to Iran. We are fighting on the same side as al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Adding insult to injury, the US Congress can’t be bothered to even question how we got so involved in a war that has nothing to do with us. A few conscientious Members of Congress got together recently to introduce a special motion under the 1973 War Powers Act that would have required a vote on our continued military involvement in the Yemen genocide. The leadership of both parties joined together to destroy this attempt to at least get a vote on US aggression against Yemen. As it turns out, the only Members to vote against this shamefully gutted resolution were the original Members who introduced it. This is bipartisanship at its worst.

US involvement in Saudi Arabia’s crimes against Yemen is a national disgrace. That the mainstream media fails to accurately cover this genocide is shameful. Let us join our voices now to demand that our US Representatives end US involvement in Yemen immediately!]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/why-are-we-helping-saudi-arabia-destroy-yemen/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/20/why-are-we-helping-saudi-arabia-destroy-yemen/ Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:12:06 GMT
Thanksgiving Travel: Trump's Holiday Gift is More Invasive Airport Security James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/thanksgiving-travel-trumps-holiday-gift-is-more-invasive-airport-security/

On the campaign trail last year, Donald Trump derided the Transportation Security Administration as a “total disaster.” But his administration is making TSA more intrusive and abusive while its 42,000 screeners remain as incompetent as ever. New TSA screening guidelines will likely make Thanksgiving travel a disaster for legions of Americans — and the worst is yet to come. Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, TSA announced more "comprehensive" pat-down procedures which the Denver airport suggested might involve “more intimate contact than before.” TSA preemptively notified local police to expect potential complaints, and plenty of travelers are howling: 

*Jenna McFarlane, a 56-year old teacher and graphic designer, was traveling out of Charlotte, N.C., in April when a TSA agent repeatedly told her “to spread my legs wider” and proceeded to “touch my vagina four times with the side of her hand,” as she complained to TSA afterwards. She was selected for a vigorous patdown after an unreliable TSA test gave a false explosive alert for her carry-on baggage.

*Hollywood reporter and author Sharon Waxman complained this summer about an aggressive female TSA agent who “placed both hands around my legs and slowly — very slowly — rubbed up and down. The touching went all the way up to my groin. My private parts were touched by the edge of her hand, twice.” The TSA agent rested her hands on Waxman’s chest much longer than necessary to check for weapons. Waxman groused: “The TSA screening felt like nothing less than physical assault. If anyone other than a government officer had done anything of the kind, I would have reported it as a crime.” 

*David Stavropolous complained that a TSA agent doing a search at Chicago O’Hare airport jammed his hand into Stavropolous' groin so hard that it caused bleeding and will require surgery to correct, according to Chicago's NBC station and his lawsuit against TSA. 

But there is a ray of hope: TSA’s screeners may soon lose the legal immunity that has shielded all their abuses. Federal judge James Cacheris okayed a lawsuit by Captain James Linlor, an airline pilot, who complained that a TSA agent at Washington Dulles International Airport “rammed his hands into (his) genitals ... and subsequently laughed.”

TSA asked the court to dismiss Linlor’s case because, instead of suing, he could have phoned in his complaint to the TSA Contact Center. TSA also insisted that its screener deserved legal immunity even if he did pummel Linlor’s private parts. The judge scoffed at the government’s inference that “a reasonable federal officer would be surprised to learn that gratuitously striking an individual in the groin while searching them violates the Fourth Amendment.” The case is proceeding.

Federal groping-on-steroids is not making flying safer. In June, KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reported that a TSA Headquarters Evaluation Team succeeded 95% of the time in smuggling weapons and mock bombs past airport screeners. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general notified Congress that TSA screeners and equipment had recently failed to detect mock threats "in the ballpark" of 80% of the time, ABC News reported this month. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., declared that TSA is “broken badly.”

TSA has never bothered examining whether its tactics actually protect the public. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in September that “TSA does not measure deterrence (impact) for any of its aviation security countermeasures.”  Instead, the agency imposes burden after burden upon American travelers based on hunches.

Other Trump policies could soon blight millions of Americans’ travel plans. Starting Jan. 22, TSA may reject drivers’ licenses from many states that fail to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005 (formerly one of the Tea Party’s most hated edicts). Travelers without passports from New York, Michigan, Illinois and other states could be barred from flying domestically, according to information on a DHS website.

Previous TSA intrusion — even its strip-search scanners — are chump change compared to the agency’s next anti-privacy bombshell. The Electronic Frontier Foundation warned Nov. 9 that TSA plans to use facial recognition systems to track travelers through airports after extracting far more biometric data from them. Such a regime could also easily be deployed in public places throughout the nation. If that happens, the feds could quickly identify every person who shows up to #Resist.

If Donald Trump had to pass through a typical TSA gauntlet twice a week, the agency would not survive his Twitter onslaught. For 16 years, Washington bureaucrats and political appointees have promised to reform TSA so that it will cease being a farce and a menace. After too many failed fixes, it is time to follow the lead of Canada and European nations and privatize airport security.

James Bovard, author of Attention Deficit Democracy, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter: @JimBovard

Reprinted with author's permission from USAToday.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/thanksgiving-travel-trumps-holiday-gift-is-more-invasive-airport-security/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/thanksgiving-travel-trumps-holiday-gift-is-more-invasive-airport-security/ Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:34:07 GMT
Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media James George Jatras http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/attack-on-rt-is-another-step-towards-sovietization-of-american-media/

This week the US Department of Justice Criminal Division forced the Russian-funded television network RT (formerly Russia Today) to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Failure to comply would have risked arrest of RT’s management and seizure of its assets. The move comes on the heels of Senators’ recent demands that terrified tech giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google act as ideological filters.

With no discernible defenders among America’s media establishment, RT rightly denounced the selective FARA mandate as an attack on media freedom – which it is. But more ominous is what the move against RT says about America’s rulers’ further intention to limit the sources of information available to its subjects.

As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute writes:
RT America is a news organization operating in the United States that is funded at least partly by a foreign government. So is the BBC. So is Deutsche Welle, France24, Al-Jazeera, and numerous other foreign media organizations. It is assumed that they all to a degree reflect the editorial interests of those who pay the bills.

The same is true with other, non-state funded media outlets, of course. It’s up to us to factor these things in when we consume media. That’s what it means to be a free people.

A core value in a free society is that our own government has zero power over what we read, what we watch, how we think, how we come to interpret current events, the conclusions we draw based on these inputs, and so on. These are private matters over which any government that is not tyrannical should have no sway.

The real insidiousness of tyrannical systems is that the government most lasciviously seeks control over most private spaces — including the most private space called our brain, our intellect, our conscience. We must be free to follow our interests down whatever path they may lead us so that we may reach our own conclusions and then perhaps test them ourselves in the marketplace of ideas.
The attack on RT (and another Russian network, Sputnik, which evidently has not yet been given a deadline for registration) is a milestone in the degeneration of the American official (call them what you want – corporate, legacy, mainstream) media into PR agencies for the governing establishment and its ideological imperatives. We’ve been moving along this path for a while now, and it’s going to get worse.

Long gone are those halcyon days of yore when Americans could just sit back and watch CBS’s Walter Cronkite with total confidence they were getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. (For youngsters who have no idea who the hell Cronkite was, just Google “most trusted man in America.”) Back in the naïve infancy of the TV age, from about the 1950s until the beginning of the 1990s, there was a common national media culture that reflected the established, generally liberal, mainly Democratic tilt of the American inteligentsiya that was almost uniform among the (then only) three networks and a handful of major newspapers and magazines. To be sure, that was also a ruling class media of a sort, but it reflected a broad and deep social consensus.

Those days are no more. Perhaps the unraveling of media trust and social consensus alike started in earnest with Vietnam. But still, for decades afterwards there still seemed to be plenty of empty cranial receptacles for government and corporate propaganda of the first Gulf War under Bush 41, Bill Clinton’s phony humanitarian wars in the Balkans, Bush 43’s Iraq War, and Obama’s Libyan and Syrian imbroglios. Sadly, there are many such cranial receptacles even today.

By its attack on RT, the US government is officially telling us that only the mainstream media (MSM) can be regarded as are purveyors of Truth (with a capital T) and that anybody not on the approved list is fake. How do we know? Why, the MSM themselves tell us! The Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” CNN’s “Facts First.” The New York Times’ “The Truth is Hard.” (The fact that certifiably authoritative and truthful media are militantly hostile to Russia, not to mention to Donald Trump, is purely coincidental.)

A lot of Americans don’t buy it anymore, though. Some of the skepticism falls along purely partisan lines reflecting increasing moral and political polarization: our media (which I exclusively consult) tells the truth, but your media (which I don’t consult) are liars. About one-third of Americans get their talking points from, say, Michael Moore, and from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, with their related internet echoes, while another third gets theirs from Rush Limbaugh, and from Sean Hannity on Fox News, and their internet echo chambers. Increasingly, there is nothing like a national dialogue on anything, but rather two entirely separate, diametrically opposed ideological cultures – and alternate realities – each demonizing “them.” This is why when after Barack Obama’s election the Tea Party appeared, the GOP fell over itself trying to co-opt them, while the Democrats denounced them as a mob of racists and subversives. When later the “Occupy” and Black Lives Matter movements broke out on the Left, the Democrats tried to figure out how to channel it while top Republicans denounced it as gang of commie anarchists and losers.

With the election of Donald Trump the divide intensified further to one of latent civil war.

At some point the false picture of pseudo-reality (as Alain Besançon called it in the late Soviet propaganda context) diverges so far from real reality that the official media narrative becomes useless and even counterproductive. While a majority of Americans probably are still glued to the partisan outlets of “their” side of the political divide, there is a growing sense across the spectrum that not only the MSM but even partisan media like Fox News and MSNBC are untrustworthy.

In the past, notably in the totalitarian societies of the 20th century, maintaining the credibility of official media required the physical repression of alternatives. Today, such a crude approach is unnecessary and almost technologically unfeasible, even for such undemocratic countries as Iran, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia (though North Korea may be successful through the sheer unavailability of modern communications technology to most of the population). Instead of suppressing dissent, is it sufficient to maintain major media’s role as gatekeeper and certifier of reliability.

Which brings us back to the impact of foreign media like RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation, Al-Jazeera, CGTN, Press TV, often in parallel with alternative media like Zero Hedge, Lew Rockwell, Antiwar.com, Ron Paul Institute, and others, to break through the information firewall but arguably then being influenced by the agenda of the sponsoring foreign governments. In any case, a growing segment of the American public is discovering a skill once well-honed by the citizens of the former communist countries: reading between the lines of the official media (which is assumed to be full of lies) and making informed comparisons to samizdat alternative media, foreign sources, and the rumor-mill to guess what the truth might be.

Make no mistake – what has started with RT won’t end with RT. Our betters have decided they need to protect our minds from “propaganda” penetration that might cause us to doubt the truth of what CNN and the Washington Post tell us.

Citizens! Be grateful for such wise leaders and dedicated information workers! Smash the enemy voices that seek to undermine our democracy as we march boldly into the radiant future!

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/attack-on-rt-is-another-step-towards-sovietization-of-american-media/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/18/attack-on-rt-is-another-step-towards-sovietization-of-american-media/ Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:52:49 GMT
Secretary Mattis Is Off Base: US Military Presence in Syria Has No Legal Grounds Peter Korzun http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/17/secretary-mattis-is-off-base-us-military-presence-in-syria-has-no-legal-grounds/

Although the US has many times stated that its target is IS only, it appears that its intentions may go beyond the stated objective. In fact, Washington is seeking to retain post-conflict zones of influence within the country, where the American presence is illegal.

Asked at a press-conference on Nov. 13 if the US military will stay or leave Syria, US Defense Secretary James Mattis stated, “We're not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked.” He stressed the importance of the Geneva settlement process held under the auspices of the UN, saying “we got to get the UN-brokered effort in Geneva to take this thing forward.” Answering a question about the legal grounds for the US presence in the country, the secretary explained “You know, the UN said that ISIS — basically we can go after ISIS. And we're there to take them out.”

The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a firm warning to the US and other foreign forces in Syria on Nov. 14. According to it, “The presence of US forces or any foreign military presence in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government constitutes an act of aggression and an attack on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as a gross violation of the charter and principles of the United Nations." In September, Deputy Foreign Minister of Syria Faisal Mekdad stated that the US "should withdraw its military; otherwise the Syrian army will consider them as a hostile force."

So, the US is not going to leave and believes that its military operations in Syria do not run counter to international law. Now what about the legal grounds for maintaining the US military presence there?

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 was adopted unanimously on 28 September 2001 as a counter-terrorism measure passed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It does not say a military intervention is allowed. No border crossing is envisaged.

Resolution 2249 adopted by the UN Security Council in November 2015 called on UN member states “that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures” and “to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL [Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL)]” as well as other terrorist groups. However, the document emphasizes that the states are to do so “in compliance with international law”. It’s important to note that the resolution in question does not give the right to intervene militarily. It does not mention Chapter VII of UN Charter, which envisages the use of force under certain conditions. The document contains no specific reference to Syria.

Resolution 2254 adopted in December 2015 says it’s up to Syrian people to decide their fate through formal talks and a unity government.

UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 on the definition of aggression explicitly states that an “invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State” as well as “any military occupation, however temporary” or “bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State” is what particularly constitutes aggression.

It has become increasingly difficult for the US to justify its operations in Syria under the pretext of fighting Islamic State (IS). Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has accused the US military of turning a blind eye on IS militants fleeing Syria’s Raqqa unobstructed along with their weapons and ammunition. According to him, “The escaped [IS] members will be the reason for the deaths of innocent people in every corner of the world, including Turkey, Europe, and America.” He made these comments against the background of the Russian Defense Ministry accusing the United States of “providing de-facto cover” for IS jihadists in Syria “and only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East.”

With legal arguments unravelling, the Defense Department’s untenable position has become noticeable, even within its own ranks. General Raymond Thomas, the Commander of US Special Operations Command, acknowledged the US presence in Syria doesn't have a leg to stand on in terms of international law. “Here’s the conundrum,” he explained. “We are operating in the sovereign country of Syria. The Russians, their stalwarts, their back-stoppers, have already uninvited the Turks from Syria. We’re a bad day away from the Russians saying, ‘Why are you still in Syria, US?”

The establishment of a 55-km closed zone around the US base in the area of the Syrian town of al-Tanf with humanitarian aid to refugees blocked is an example of flagrant violation of international law that should be addressed by the UN Security Council. The establishment of the base near the Syria-Jordan border was publicly justified by the need to conduct operations against Islamic State. However, no information has been received about any US operations against the group conducted from this area. To the contrary, IS has been reported to operate freely in an area abutting the base.

The largest Rukban refugee camp accommodating more than 60,000 women and children from Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor is located in the "safe zone" close to the base. The refugees appear to be used as hostages or a "human shield" to protect the American military stationed at al-Tanf. On and off, militant groups supposedly trained by Americans in the area strike Syria government forces. The more US forces are in-theater in Syria, the greater the chance of conflict between them and Syrian troops.

The United States has many times stated its target is IS only; it is not at war with the Syrian government. It appears that its intentions may go beyond the stated objective of fighting terrorism, while seeking to retain post-conflict zones of influence within the country, where the American presence is illegal. Russia, Iran, and other allied Syrian forces are in Syria legally, at the invitation of the UN-recognized state authority. The United States and its coalition partners are not. This fact is irrefutable. By no stretch of imagination could anyone find a justification for US military operations on Syrian soil.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/17/secretary-mattis-is-off-base-us-military-presence-in-syria-has-no-legal-grounds/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/17/secretary-mattis-is-off-base-us-military-presence-in-syria-has-no-legal-grounds/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 16:31:11 GMT
How America’s Deep State Operates to Control the Message Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/17/how-america-s-deep-state-operates-to-control-the-message/

It is not possible to overstate the power of certain constituencies and corporate lobbies in the United States. These pressure groups, joined by powerful government agencies, many of which have secret agendas that focus on national security, constitute what is increasingly being recognized as “Deep State America.” Deep State is the widespread belief that there exists in many countries an entrenched and largely hidden infrastructure that really controls the national narrative and runs things. It explains why, for example, a country like the United States is perpetually at war even though the wars have been disastrous failures ever since Korea and have not made the nation more secure.

To be sure, certain constituencies have benefitted from global instability and conflict, to include defense industries, big government in general, and the national security state. They all work together and hand-in-hand with the corporate media to sustain the narrative that the United States is perpetually under threat, even though it is not.

The recent exchanges over the Russia-US relationship exhibit perfectly how the Deep State operates to control the message. American President Donald Trump briefly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vietnam. Putin reportedly told Trump that Russia “absolutely had not meddled” in the 2016 US election and Trump then told reporters that he believed the Russian leader meant what he said, “which is good.” As détente with Russia is not considered desirable by the Deep State, there was an immediate explosion of a contrary narrative, namely that Trump believes a Russian “enemy” and does not trust what his own intelligence agencies have told him about 2016 because he is being "played" by Putin. This story was repeated both on television news and in all the mainstream newspapers without exception, eventually forcing Trump to recant and say that he does believe in US intelligence.

Not a single major media outlet in the US reported that it just might be possible that Putin was telling the truth and that the intelligence community, which has been wrong many times over the past twenty years, might have to look again at what it considers to be evidence. No journalist had the courage to point out that the claims of the Washington national security team have been remarkably devoid of anything credible to support the conclusions about what the Russian government might or might not have been up to. That is what a good journalist is supposed to do and it has nothing to do with whether or not one admires or loathes either Putin or Trump

That the relationship between Moscow and Washington should be regarded as important given the capability of either country to incinerate the planet would appear to be a given, but the Washington-New York Establishment, which is euphemism for Deep State, is actually more concerned with maintaining its own power by marginalizing Donald Trump and maintaining the perception that Vladimir Putin is the enemy head of state of a Russia that is out to cripple American democracy.

Beyond twisting narratives, Russiagate is also producing potentially dangerous collateral damage to free speech, as one of the objectives of those in the Deep State is to rein in the current internet driven relatively free access to information. In its most recent manifestations, an anonymous group produced a phony list of 200 websites that were “guilty” of serving up Russian propaganda, a George Soros funded think tank identified thousands of individuals who are alleged to be “useful idiots” for Moscow, and legitimate Russian media outlets will be required to register as foreign agents.

Driven by Russophobia over the 2016 election, a group of leading social media corporations including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have been experimenting with ways to self-censor their product to keep out foreign generated or “hate” content. They even have a label for it: "cyberhate". Congress is also toying with legislation that will make certain viewpoints unacceptable or even illegal, including a so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that would potentially penalize anyone who criticizes Israel and could serve as a model for banning other undesirable speech. “Defamatory speech” could even eventually include any criticism of the government or political leaders, as is now the case in Turkey, which is the country where the “Deep State” was invented.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
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The Real Cost Of War: Three Times More Than The Government Admits Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/the-real-cost-of-war-three-times-more-than-the-government-admits/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/the-real-cost-of-war-three-times-more-than-the-government-admits/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/the-real-cost-of-war-three-times-more-than-the-government-admits/ Thu, 16 Nov 2017 17:38:04 GMT
There is Nothing Patriotic or Conservative About Our Bloated Defense Budget John J. Duncan, Jr. http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/there-is-nothing-patriotic-or-conservative-about-our-bloated-defense-budget/

Several times over my 29 years in Congress I have wondered whether there are any fiscal conservatives at the Pentagon.

It seems that the Defense Department is just like every other gigantic bureaucracy. When it comes to money, the refrain is always “more, more, more.”

On November 14, the House passed what one Capitol Hill paper described as a “$700 billion compromise defense bill.”  It was $80 billion over the budget caps and many billions more than even President Trump had requested.

I opposed almost all the major initiatives of the Obama administration. But it was false to say that the Defense Department was “depleted” or “eviscerated” during those years, or that now we must “rebuild the military.”

In fact, public relations experts in future years should conduct studies about how the Defense Department has been able to convince the public it has been cut when it is getting more money than ever.

Defense Department appropriations have more than doubled since 2000. In addition, the Department has gotten extra billions in several supplemental or emergency appropriation bills.

The military construction bill is a separate bill that has added another $109.5 billion over the last 10 years. It would be hard to find any U.S. military base any place in the world that has not had several new buildings constructed over the last few years.

In fiscal year 2016, we spent over $177 billion on new equipment, guns, tanks, etc. We have spent similar amounts for many years. Most of this equipment does not wear out or have to be replaced after just one year.

It is ironic that the only President in the last 60 or 70 years who has tried to rein in defense spending is the only President in that period who spent most of his career in the military.

In Evan Thomas’ book, Ike's Bluff, when told by his top staffer that he could not reduce defense spending, President Eisenhower said if he gave another star to every general who cut his budget, there would be “such a rush to cut costs you’ll have to get out of the way.”

The book also quotes Eisenhower as saying “Heaven help us if we ever have a President who doesn’t know as much about the military as I do.”

Therein lies an explanation for a big part of what has caused much excessive and/or wasteful defense spending and, the willingness, even at times eagerness, to go to war and support permanent, never-ending wars.

Only 18% of the current Congress has ever served in any branch of our military. Members are afraid if they do not vote for an increase in defense spending, or if they question waste by the military, some demagogue will accuse them of “not supporting the troops.”

It would be a huge understatement to say that I usually do not agree with New York Times editorials.

But the Times Editorial Board on Oct. 22 published an editorial entitled “America’s Forever Wars,” pointing out that the U.S. “has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11” and now has troops in “at least 172 countries.”

The Board wrote that so far the American people have “seemed to accept” all this militarism, but “it’s a very real question whether, in addition to endorsing  these commitments, which have cost trillions of dollars and many lives over 16 years, they will embrace new entanglements…”

The Times added that the Congress “has spent little time considering such issues in a comprehensive way or debating why all these deployments are needed.”

Backing these words up was a cartoon in the Oct. 25 issue of Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper. The cartoon showed six senators sitting at a hearing.

The first senator, reading a newspaper, says “Who knew we had troops in Niger?!” The second says: “Heck, we don’t even know how the military budget gets spent.”

Finally, the cartoon shows a senator who looks like Sen. Ted Cruz, saying “War is hell. I say we just give the Pentagon an extra $80 billion and call it a day.”

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, himself a veteran, wrote on Oct. 23: “But there is something else at work here: the slavish veneration now accorded the military. You can see it every time someone in uniform testifies before Congress.”

Since now less than one percent of the people serve in the military, it may be that many people who never served feel, perhaps even subconsciously, that they must bend over backwards to show their patriotism.

However, it is not unpatriotic to oppose wasteful defense spending or very unnecessary permanent, forever wars.

President Reagan once said “our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.”

We have far too many leaders today who seem to want to be new Winston Churchills and who are far too eager to send people to war.

No true fiscal conservative could ever justify spending many billions more than even President Trump requested.

Our national debt recently went over the $20 trillion level. A few days ago, it was reported that the deficit for fiscal 2017 was $666 billion. This fiscal year, it may be even higher.

Conservatives used to be against huge deficit spending. They also used to be against massive foreign aid. Much of what we have been doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan, training police and farmers, repairing electrical and water systems, even making small business loans, etc., is pure foreign aid.

Many of our foreign interventions have been done under the auspices or authority of the United Nations. Conservatives used to be the biggest critics of the U.N. and world government. Most of our so-called “coalitions” have been funded almost entirely by American taxpayers.

Most interventionists at some point resort to a slur referring to their opponents as isolationists. This is so false. Traditional conservatives support trade and tourism and cultural and educational exchanges with other countries and they agree with helping during humanitarian crises.

They just don’t believe in dragging war out forever, primarily so defense contractors, think tanks, and military bureaucrats can get more money.

One last point: We have far too many officers. In Scott Berg’s biography on Woodrow Wilson, it says during World War I, we had one officer for every 30 enlisted men. Eisenhower once said we had too many officers when there were nine enlisted for every officer. Now we have one officer for only four and a half to five and a half enlisted (varies by branch).

This is very expensive, both for active duty and retirement, but it also makes it much more likely that we will get involved in every little conflict around the world and/or continue basing troops in almost every country.

We simply do not have enough money to pay for defense of so many countries other than our own nor the authority under our Constitution to try to run the whole world.

Congressman Duncan served honorably in both the U.S. Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, starting as an enlisted man and rising to the rank of captain.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/there-is-nothing-patriotic-or-conservative-about-our-bloated-defense-budget/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/16/there-is-nothing-patriotic-or-conservative-about-our-bloated-defense-budget/ Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:55:02 GMT
Do Trump's Liberal Critics Seem Increasingly Unhinged? James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/do-trumps-liberal-critics-seem-increasingly-unhinged/

Last week’s anniversary of Trump’s election sparked widespread teeth-gnashing by the nation’s pundits. Trump is supposedly the gravest threat to American democracy since the secession of the Confederacy. His presidency, probably, continues to be a boon for antidepressant sales across the land.

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, in a column last week headlined “Anniversary of the Apocalypse,” lamented the “terror-struck and vertiginous days” after Trump’s win and the ongoing “metaphysical whiplash” and “hideous interregnum,” which leaves her “poleaxed by grief at the destruction of our civic inheritance.” Professor Henry Giroux of McMaster University frothed that Trump’s “ascendancy in American politics has made visible a culture of cruelty, a contempt for civic literacy, a corrupt mode of governance and a disdain for informed judgment that has been decades in the making.”

It is understandable that folks would be riled by Trump’s bluster about revoking the broadcast licenses of his critics or calling for the firing of protesting football players. His administration’s rhetoric on trade and the drug war threaten to revive moronic policies that should have been banished forever by perennial failures. But while Trump poses plenty of constitutional perils, many of his opponents are even more authoritarian. 

Anti-Trump fervor is making liberals far more illiberal. Commentators in The Washington Post and The New York Times have called for selective censorship of ideas and doctrines they abhor. A recent Washington Post article touted 38 fixes for democracy including mandating three years of compulsory labor for young people in the military of AmeriCorps-like programs, outlawing private education, punitively punishing gun owners and vastly increasing redistribution to end racial inequities. 

Thanks to Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, Democrats are exalting the FBI as if J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO never existed. Political mob violence by antifa against conservatives was vindicated in The Washington Post and cheered by prominent Democrats as the moral equivalent of the American soldiers who stormed Normandy beaches in 1944.

Some liberals believe the federal government should become domineering to vanquish the fascist tendencies of Trump supporters. But this is imprudent unless liberals irrevocably control all three branches of the federal government.

Unfortunately, Trump’s biggest follies (thus far) have evoked the loudest cheers from his Washington critics. Trump’s finest hour, according to much of the media, was sending 59 cruise missiles to blast the Syrian government based on mere allegations that it had carried out a chemical weapons attack. Pulling the rug from under the Iran deal (one of Obama’s solid achievements) was cheered by much of the foreign policy elite as if destabilizing the Middle East was akin to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Trump’s threats to “totally destroy” North Korea spurred no effective resistance on Capitol Hill. But blundering into another war would do more harm to American democracy than 10,000 raving Oval Office tweets.

Read the rest at The Hill.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/do-trumps-liberal-critics-seem-increasingly-unhinged/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/do-trumps-liberal-critics-seem-increasingly-unhinged/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:35:07 GMT
America’s Righteous Russia-gate Censorship Robert Parry http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/america-s-righteous-russia-gate-censorship/

A stark difference between today’s Washington and when I was here as a young Associated Press correspondent in the late 1970s and the early 1980s is that then – even as the old Cold War was heating up around the election of Ronald Reagan – there were prominent mainstream journalists who looked askance at the excessive demonization of the Soviet Union and doubted wild claims about the dire threats to U.S. national security from Nicaragua and Grenada.

Perhaps the Vietnam War was still fresh enough in people’s minds that senior editors and national reporters understood the dangers of mindless groupthink inside Official Washington, as well as the importance of healthy skepticism toward official pronouncements from the U.S. intelligence community.

Today, however, I cannot think of a single prominent figure in the mainstream news media who questions any claim – no matter how unlikely or absurd – that vilifies Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country. It is all Russia-bashing all the time.

And, behind this disturbing anti-Russian uniformity are increasing assaults against independent and dissident journalists and news outlets outside the mainstream. We’re not just entering a New Cold War and a New McCarthyism; we’re also getting a heavy dose of old-style Orwellianism.

Sometimes you see this in individual acts like HuffingtonPost taking down a well-reported story by journalist Joe Lauria because he dared to point out that Democratic money financed the two initial elements of what’s now known as Russia-gate: the forensic examination of computers at the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research on Donald Trump conducted by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

HuffingtonPost never contacted Lauria before or after its decision to retract the story, despite a request from him for the reasons why. HuffPost editors told a BuzzFeed reporter that they were responding to reader complaints that the article was filled with factual errors but none have ever been spelled out, leaving little doubt that Lauria’s real “error” was in defying the Russia-gate groupthink of the anti-Trump Resistance. [A version of Lauria’s story appeared at Consortiumnews.com before Lauria posted it at HuffPost. If you want to sign a petition calling on HuffPost to restore Lauria’s article, click here.]

Muzzling RT

Other times, the expanding American censorship is driven by U.S. government agencies, such as the Justice Department’s demand that the Russian news outlet, RT, register under the restrictive Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires such prompt, frequent and detailed disclosures of supposed “propaganda” that it could make it impossible for RT to continue to function in the United States.

This attack on RT was rationalized by the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” that was, in reality, prepared by a handful of “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. Their report included a seven-page addendum from 2012 accusing RT of spreading Russian propaganda – and apparently this Jan. 6 report must now be accepted as gospel truth, no questions permitted.

However, if any real journalist actually read the Jan. 6 report, he or she would have discovered that RT’s sinister assault on American democracy included such offenses as holding a debate among third-party candidates who were excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates in 2012. Yes, allowing Libertarians and Greens to express their points of view is a grave danger to American democracy.

Other RT “propaganda” included reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests and examining the environmental dangers from “fracking,” issues that also have been widely covered by the domestic American media. Apparently, whenever RT covers a newsworthy event – even if others have too – that constitutes “propaganda,” which must be throttled to protect the American people from the danger of seeing it.

If you bother to study the Jan. 6 report’s addendum, it is hard not to conclude that these “hand-picked” analysts were either stark-raving mad or madly anti-Russian. Yet, this “Intelligence Community Assessment” is now beyond questioning unless you want to be labeled a “Kremlin stooge” or “Putin’s useful idiot.” [An earlier State Department attack on RT was equally ridiculous or demonstrably false.]

And, by the way, it was President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who testified under oath that the analysts from the three agencies were “hand-picked.” That means that they were analysts personally selected by Obama’s intelligence chiefs from three agencies – not “all 17” as the American public was told over and over again – and thus were not even a full representation of analysts from those three agencies. Yet, this subset of a subset is routinely described as “the U.S. intelligence community,” even after major news outlets finally had to retract their “all 17” canard.

So, the myth of the intelligence community’s consensus lives on. For instance, in an upbeat article on Tuesday about the U.S. government’s coercing RT into registering as a foreign agent, Washington Post reporters Devlin Barrett and David Filipov wrote, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the network and website push relentlessly anti-American propaganda at the behest of the Russian government.”

In the old days, even during the old Cold War and President Reagan’s ranting about “the Evil Empire,” some of us would have actually examined the Jan. 6 report’s case against RT and noted the absurdity of these claims about “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.” Whether you want to hear the views of the Greens and Libertarians or not – or whether you like “fracking” and hate Occupy Wall Street – the opportunity to hear this information doesn’t constitute “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.”

The U.S. government’s real beef with RT seems to be that it allows on air some Americans who have been blacklisted from the mainstream media – including highly credentialed former U.S. intelligence analysts and well-informed American journalists – because they have challenged various Official Narratives.

In other words, Americans are not supposed to hear the other side of the story on important international conflicts, such as the proxy war in Syria or the civil war in Ukraine or Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. Only the State Department’s versions of those events are permitted even when those versions are themselves propagandistic if not outright false.

For example, you’re not supposed to hear about the huge holes in the Syria-sarin cases, nor about Ukraine’s post-coup regime arming neo-Nazis to kill ethnic-Russian Ukrainians, nor about Israel’s evolution into an apartheid state. All right-thinking Americans are to get only a steady diet of how righteous the U.S. government and its allies always are. Anything else is “propaganda.”

Also off limits is any thoughtful critique of that Jan. 6 report – or apparently even Clapper’s characterization of it as a product of “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies. You’re not supposed to ask why other U.S. intelligence agencies with deep knowledge about Russia were excluded and why even other analysts from the three involved agencies were shut out.

No, you must always think of the Jan. 6 report as the “consensus” assessment from the entire “U.S. intelligence community.” And you must accept it as flat fact – as it now is treated by The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other mainstream news outlets. You shouldn’t even notice that the Jan. 6 report itself doesn’t claim that Russian election meddling was a fact. The report explains, that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

But even quoting from the Jan. 6 report might make an American reporter some kind of traitorous “Russian mole” whose journalism must be purged from “responsible” media and who should be forced to wear the journalistic equivalent of a yellow star.

The Anti-Trump/Russia Hysteria

Of course, much of this anti-Russian hysteria comes from the year-long fury about the shocking election of Donald Trump. From the first moments of stunned disbelief over Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the narrative was put in motion to blame Trump’s victory not on Clinton and her wretched campaign but on Russia. That also was viewed as a possible way of reversing the election’s outcome and removing Trump from office.

The major U.S. news media quite openly moved to the forefront of the Resistance. The Washington Post adopted the melodramatic and hypocritical slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” as it unleashed its journalists to trumpet the narrative of some disloyal Americans spreading Russian propaganda. Darkness presumably was a fine place to stick people who questioned the Resistance’s Russia-gate narrative.

An early shot in this war against dissenting information was fired last Thanksgiving Day when the Post published a front-page article citing an anonymous group called PropOrNot smearing 200 Internet news sites for allegedly disseminating Russian propaganda. The list included some of the most important sources of independent journalism, including Consortiumnews.com, apparently for the crime of questioning some of the State Department’s narratives on international conflicts, particularly Syria and Ukraine.

Then, with the anti-Russia hysteria building and the censorship ball rolling, Congress last December approved $160 million for think tanks and other non-governmental organizations to combat Russian propaganda. Soon, reports and studies were flying off the shelves detecting a Russian behind every article, tweet and posting that didn’t toe the State Department’s line.

The New York Times and other leading news organizations have even cheered plans for Google, Facebook and other technology companies to deploy algorithms that can hunt down, marginalize or eliminate information that establishment media deems “fake” or “propaganda.” Already Google has put together a First Draft coalition, consisting of mainstream media and establishment-approved Web sites to decide what information makes the cut and what doesn’t.

Among these arbiters of truth is the fact-check organization PolitiFact, which judged the falsehood about “all 17 intelligence agencies” signing off on the Russian “hacking” claim to be “true.” Even though the claim was never true and is now clearly established as false, PolitiFact continues to assert that this lie is the truth, apparently filled with the hubris that comes with its power over determining what is true and what is false.

But what is perhaps most troubling to me about these developments is the silence of many civil liberties advocates, liberal politicians and defenders of press freedom who might have been counted on in earlier days to object to this censorship and blackballing.

It appears that the ends of taking down Donald Trump and demonizing Vladimir Putin justify whatever means, no matter the existential danger of nuclear war with Russia or the McCarthyistic (even Orwellian) threats to freedom of speech, press and thought.

Reprinted with permission from ConsortiumNews.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/america-s-righteous-russia-gate-censorship/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/15/america-s-righteous-russia-gate-censorship/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:01:35 GMT