Instead of directly deploying thousands of additional ground troops into Iraq or Syria, the sort of precipitous escalation that might get Congress voting on the war, the Trump Administration appears to have decided that the solution is to send thousands of US ground troops to Kuwait, and let the commanders in Iraq and Syria just take what they want.
Early reports of this strategy emerged Wednesday, when officials said there were considerations of sending around 1,000 troops into Kuwait for this operation. Just two days later, the figure was up to at least 2,500, with signs that it is continuing to grow all the time.
While President Obama was micromanaging the escalations, particularly in Iraq, where every couple of weeks another hundred or two troops would be sent, the Trump Administration appears to be throwing the troops into a big pile and leaving the deployments up to the commanders.
This adds credence to the sense that President Trump is going to be a bit more hands-off on his escalations, giving the military commanders additional leeway on actions, and even on troop levels, which is likely to raise further questions about what those commanders intend to do in the war, if they no longer have to get permission first.
The United States has been growing progressively insane for a long time. For my generation, the realization descended upon us in the 1960s when the military/security complex convinced Americans that if we permitted Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh to unify Vietnam, the dominoes would fall until the Communist World Revolution had us in its grip. This despite the fact that Stalin had killed off the Trotskyist world revolutionaries and declared “Socialism in one country.”
Nationalists in the West’s colonies, such as Vietnam and Cuba, misinterpreted the talk about making the world safe for self-determination as applying to them. Ho Chi Minh helped the US against Japan during World War 2. His requests for US help for Vietnamese independence from France were cold-shouldered by the Truman administration. He did not turn against the US until Washington turned against him. http://www.historynet.com/ho-chi-minh-and-the-oss.htm
America’s participation in the Vietnam War lasted for a decade or thereabouts. The extraordinary carnage and war crimes served no interest other than the power and profit of the military/security complex and the paranoia of the arbiters of US foreign policy.
No lesson learned, we have spent the entirety of the 21st century to date repeating the mistake. This time it is stateless Muslim terrorists who somehow were merged in official US propaganda into the governments of seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa. After 17 years of murdering women, children, and village elders, destroying the infrastructure of countries, and bombing weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, schools and hospitals, Washington has surpassed its criminal record in Vietnam.
The folly of the Vietnam War was not explicated for us until the war’s aftermath. However, the folly of our 21st century crusade against evil was presented to us in monthly installments as the folly unfolded by Lewis Lapham’s articles in Harper’s and later in the Lapham Quarterly. These essays have been collected together in a book, Age of Folly: America Abandons Its Democracy (Verso, 2016).
Lapham is one of the remaining “men of letters” who date from a time when some Americans still existed who preferred the red pill to the blue pill. In the 21st century, awareness has been out of fashion, and there were few to learn from Lapham’s demonstrations of our folly.
Lapham’s book should be titled “Our Age of Folly.” As I read Lapham, every age has been one of folly, and America has been abandoning its democracy from day one, if America ever had a democracy to abandon.
By Daniel Larison
March 8, 2017
The American Conservative
U.S. forces in Syria are now trying to keep different parts of the “coalition” from killing each other:
The deployment is “fraught with risk,” said Robert Ford, who served as the Obama administration’s last ambassador to Syria until 2014. He is now with the Washington-based Middle East Institute and teaches at Yale University.
“That’s not a small policy change. It is a huge policy change,” he said. “We have never in our Syrian policy ever put U.S. personnel in between warring Syrian factions or to maintain a local cease-fire.”
U.S. military involvement in Syria continues to increase without debate or authorization from Congress. This traces back to the original decision under Obama to expand the illegal war on ISIS into Syria, but the latest escalation is Trump’s responsibility. Neither the Obama nor the Trump administration has ever had to justify a policy of trying to fight a war alongside mutually antagonistic forces, and neither of them has ever been forced to do so by Congress or anyone else. The president has no authority to deploy U.S. forces into Syria, and especially not to act as a buffer between forces of an allied government and proxy forces inside Syria, but we can be certain that there will be no serious opposition to it. Most members of Congress aren’t willing to criticize a war that still has broad support, and they don’t want to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities in any case.
It is questionable whether the latest deployment can even achieve its immediate goal:
Meanwhile, the U.S. presence in the area does not appear to have ended the fighting. Battles continued west of Manbij on Wednesday, according to both sides. A video posted on social media Wednesday morning showed U.S.-armed Arab fighters allied to the Kurds using an antitank missile to destroy a military vehicle belonging to the Arab fighters allied to Turkey.
The real story behind The Fall of Michael Flynn has been confirmed by a highly informed US insider, who has previously detailed how the Trump presidency’s foreign policy will unfold.
According to the insider, which I named “X”, “Flynn was removed because he was agitating for a strike against Iran which would have had disastrous consequences. That would have led to Iranian strikes against Western oil supplies in the Middle East, raising Russia’s economic power as the oil price would have soared to over $200 a barrel, and the EU would have had to join the Russian-Chinese block, or not be able to obtain sufficient energy to survive. The United States would have been completely isolated.”
When still on the job as National Security Adviser, Flynn, on the record, had already put Iran “on notice”. That was, for all practical purposes, a virtual declaration of war. “X” expands on the ramifications: “Turkey is the key here, and Turkey wants a deal with Iran. The key danger to NATO is Turkey, as it does not control Serbia, and Turkey-Serbia undermines Romania and Bulgaria in an outflanking maneuver to the southern-southeastern part of NATO. Serbia linked to Russia in WWI and Turkey linked with Germany. Tito linked with Russia in WWII and Turkey was neutral. If Turkey, Serbia, Russia link together, NATO is outflanked. Russia is linked to Iran. Turkey is linking to Russia and Iran after what Erdogan perceives was a failed CIA coup attempt against him. All this was way beyond the capacity of Flynn to handle.”
“X” maintains that the Obama administration opening towards Iran, which led to the nuclear deal, was essentially a tactic to undermine Russia’s Gazprom – assuming an Iran-Iraq gas pipeline would be built all the way to Turkey and then connected to EU markets.
Newly released by WikiLeaks today is a collection of CIA documents referred to as “Vault 7,” detailing the CIA’s hacking and surveillance technology development. The current release spans “Year 0” of the program, with several more years of documents expected to be released.
Officially called “Weeping Angel,” the program sought 0-day exploits in myriad technology, including not just computers and routers, but things like smartphones and even Smart TVs, with documents showing the CIA could make a Samsung-branded TV go into a “fake-off” mode, where it would appear to be turned off, but its microphone was active and the CIA could listen in to everything happening.
The same was true of the phones targeted, with the CIA having what is said to be a large cache of exploits against both Apple and Android-based phones, exploits they carefully kept guarded from the manufacturers of the phones so that the flaws were never properly repaired. The phone breaches were focused in part on having an OS-level exploit that would render security features in encrypted applications useless,
Also among the efforts, the CIA was trying to hack into cars, with an eye toward gaining remote control over cars anywhere in the world, leading to speculation that the cars would be made to “assassinate” the drivers in an undetectable manner.
The CIA hid its discoveries not just from companies that might fix them, but also from the rest of the US government, meaning they knowingly let cabinet members, Congress and other top officials use knowingly vulnerable technology for secure purposes rather than reveal what they’d discovered.
The plan is described by some as an effort by the CIA to create its own NSA within the agency, only with even less oversight to the program. As WikiLeaks releases more documents it will be interesting to see how much of this surveillance technology was turned against Americans.
President George W. Bush was allowed to continue with a routine visit to a school when the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001. Remarkably, members of the Secret Service and other personnel responsible for protecting the president failed to evacuate him from the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, after they learned that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and it became clear that America was under attack.
As the nation’s leader, Bush should have been considered a likely target for terrorists. Furthermore, his schedule had been publicized in advance and so terrorists could have found out where he would be on September 11.
And yet, after arriving there shortly before 9:00 a.m. on September 11, Bush was allowed to stay at the Booker Elementary School until around 9:35 a.m.–almost 50 minutes after the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center and over 30 minutes after the second hijacked plane hit the Trade Center. He left the school just two or three minutes before a third attack occurred, when the Pentagon was struck.
The Secret Service’s failure to promptly evacuate Bush from the school is particularly baffling in light of the accounts of some key officials who were with the president that morning, in which these men recalled being worried that the school would be attacked. There were even concerns that terrorists might crash a plane into it. The failure to evacuate the school is also alarming in that it left hundreds of people there–not just the president–potentially in danger.
It would be wrong to attribute the inaction of the Secret Service to incompetence. Agents who were in Sarasota for Bush’s visit to the city were highly skilled individuals. They arranged extensive security measures for the visit, and they acted with great urgency and professionalism as they protected Bush after he left the school. They appear to have only failed to adequately protect the president for a period of about 40 minutes in the middle of the 9/11 attacks, after he arrived at the school.
We need to consider, therefore, whether the inaction of the Secret Service at this critical time is evidence of something sinister. Could efforts have been made to somehow put the agents in Sarasota into a state of paralysis? They might, for example, have been tricked into thinking the reports they received about the terrorist attacks in New York were simulated, as part of a training exercise.
The inaction of the Secret Service could in fact be evidence that, in contradiction to the official narrative of 9/11, rogue individuals in the U.S. government were involved in planning and perpetrating the terrorist attacks on September 11.
NO ONE CALLED THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THE FIRST CRASH DURING THE DRIVE TO THE SCHOOL
On the morning of September 11, 2001, President Bush was scheduled to visit the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, where he planned to take part in a reading demonstration, and then talk to parents and teachers about his education policies. 
His motorcade left the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, where he’d spent the previous night, at around 8:39 a.m. on September 11 and headed to the school. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Numerous people in the motorcade, including White House officials, military officers, and journalists, learned about the crash as they were being driven to the school.  But no one called the president to tell him what had happened.
Bush was first informed about the crash at around 8:55 a.m., when he arrived at the school. Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, ran up to him and said, “Mr. President, the Situation Room is reporting that one of the World Trade Center towers has been hit by a plane.” “This is all we know,” she added. 
(Administrator’s note: Bush admits he SAW the plane hit the first tower. How did he see that unless the Mossad agents who were filing the attack were sending him the live feed? )
Bush was told about the crash again by Karl Rove, his senior adviser, as he was shaking hands with members of the official greeting party outside the school.  He has recalled thinking at the time that the incident must have been “a terrible accident.” 
He then talked on the phone with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was at the White House. She told him the plane that struck the World Trade Center was a commercial jetliner, not a light aircraft. But Bush still thought the crash was an accident and went ahead with the scheduled event.  At 9:02 a.m., he entered the second-grade classroom of teacher Sandra Kay Daniels to listen to the students reading. 
BUSH CONTINUED WITH THE READING EVENT AFTER BEING TOLD, ‘AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK’
A minute later, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Bush was alerted to what had happened at around 9:05 a.m. to 9:07 a.m., when Andrew Card, his chief of staff, approached him and whispered in his ear: “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.” 
Despite receiving this devastating news, Bush carried on as if nothing was wrong. “In the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor,” author James Bamford commented, “he simply turned back to the matter at hand: the day’s photo op.”  Significantly, author Philip Melanson pointed out, “no [Secret Service] agents were there to surround the president and remove him instantly.” 
Bush listened to the children reading for five minutes, and then spent at least two minutes asking them questions and telling the school’s principal about the second crash.  He left the classroom shortly before 9:15 a.m.  He was still sticking closely to his schedule, which specified that he would conclude his participation in the reading demonstration at 9:15 a.m. 
The question in the title is V.I. Lenin’s question. His answer was to create a revolutionary “vanguard” to spread revolutionary ideas among the workers, the economic class that Karl Marx had declared to be the class rising to the ascendency of political power. Finally, democracy, frustrated by upper class interests in its earlier manifestations, would become reality. The workers would rule.
Given the presence of evil and human failing, it did not work out in that way. But Lenin’s question remains a valid one. Americans whose economic life and prospects for their children have been destroyed by the offshoring of American manufacturing and tradable professional skills jobs, such as software engineering, answered the question by electing Donald Trump.
The Americans, dispossessed by the offshoring corporations, elected Trump, because Trump was the only American running for a political office who called attention to the problem and declared his intention to fix it.
By standing up for Americans, Trump alienated the global corporations, their executives and shareholders, all of whom benefit from stealing the economic life of Americans and producing abroad where labor and regulatory costs are lower. Neoliberal junk economists describe this labor arbitrage, which reduces the real incomes of the American labor force, as the beneficial working of free trade.
These offshoring firms not only have destroyed the economic prospects of millions of Americans, but also have destroyed the payroll tax base of Social Security and Medicare, and the tax base of local and state governments, with the consequence that numerous pension systems are on the verge of failure. The New York Teamsters Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund has just failed. This failure, experts predict, is the beginning of a tsunami that will spread into municipal and state pension systems.
According to official US economic data, the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has expanded for 22 quarters, raising real GDP 12.1% above its high prior to the 2008-09 economic contraction. Yet, US manufacturing output and US industrial production have not recovered to their pre-contraction high.
So what is driving the real GDP growth? In my opinion, the rise in real GDP is an illusion produced by the under-measurement of inflation.
As I have reported on many occasions, John Williams of shadowstats.com has concluded that changes in the way that the government approaches the measurement of inflation has, in effect, defined inflation away.
Formerly, if a price of an item in an inflation measure rose, the inflation rate would rise by the price times the weight of the item in the index. Today, if a price of an item in an inflation measure rises, that item is removed from the index, and a lower cost item substituted in its place.
A second way that government has contrived in order to undermeasure inflation is to declare price rises “quality improvements” and not count the higher price as inflation.
Using these methods, an 8% rate of inflation can, for example, be reduced to a 2% inflation rate.
The low inflation rate is what produces the appearance of real GDP growth. As GDP is measured in prevailing prices, in order to know whether the GDP number is the result of an increase in the output of goods and services or merely the result of higher prices or inflation, the nominal GDP figure is deflated by the inflation measure.
For example, if nominal GDP rises 5% this year over last year, and the inflation rate is measured at 2%, real GDP has grown by 3%. However, if the 2% inflation rate is the contrived result described above, and inflation is really 5% or 8%, GDP growth was zero or declined by 3%.
The main reason that the government revamped its measurement of inflation is to save money by denying Social Security recipients cost-of-living-adjustments. During the many years that retirees have had no interest income on their retirement savings due to the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy in support of the balance sheets of the “banks too big to fail,” retirees have also been denied cost-of-living adjustments to their Social Security pensions.