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9/11 – A Cheap Magic Trick

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There is a wide bipartisan majority that seeks an American foreign policy of realism and restraint.

By James Carden
January 9, 2018
The Nation


In June 2017, US soldiers maneuver an M-777 howitzer so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. Sixteen years into its longest war, the United States was then sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to turn around a conflict characterized by some of the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. (AP Photo/US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Justin T. Updegraff, Operation Resolute Support via AP)

Last week, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy—a bipartisan advocacy group calling for congressional oversight of America’s lengthy list of military interventions abroad—released the results of a survey that show broad public support for Congress to reclaim its constitutional prerogatives in the exercise of foreign policy (see Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution) and for fewer US military interventions generally. Undertaken last November by J. Wallin Opinion Research, the new survey revealed “a national voter population that is largely skeptical of the practicality or benefits of military intervention overseas, including both the physical involvement of the US military and also extending to military aid in the form of funds or equipment as well.”

Bill Dolbow, the spokesman for the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy, said, “We started this initiative to give a voice to the people and the people have spoken—Congress needs to enact more oversight before intervening in conflict abroad.”

The headline findings show, among other things, that 86.4 percent of those surveyed feel the American military should be used only as a last resort, while 57 percent feel that US military aid to foreign countries is counterproductive. The latter sentiment “increases significantly” when involving countries like Saudi Arabia, with 63.9 percent saying military aid—including money and weapons—should not be provided to such countries.

The poll shows strong, indeed overwhelming, support, for Congress to reassert itself in the oversight of US military interventions, with 70.8 percent of those polled saying Congress should pass legislation that would restrain military action overseas in three specific ways:

  • by requiring “clearly defined goals to authorize military engagement” (78.8 percent);
  • by requiring Congress “to have both oversight and accountability regarding where troops are stationed” (77 percent);
  • by requiring that “any donation of funds or equipment to a foreign country be matched by a pledge of that country to adhere to the rules of the Geneva Convention” (84.8 percent).

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They are all the news that fits

Philip Giraldi
January 9, 2018
Antiwar.com

Award winning journalist James Risen has recently described in some detail his sometimes painful relationship with The New York Times. His lengthy account is well worth reading as it demonstrates how successive editors of the paper frequently cooperated with the government to suppress stories on torture and illegal activity while also self-censoring to make sure that nothing outside the framework provided by the “war on terror” should be seriously discussed. It became a faithful lap dog for an American role as global hegemon, promoting government half-truths and suppressing information that it knew to be true but which would embarrass the administration in power, be they Democrats or Republicans.

If one were to obtain a similar insider account of goings-on at the other national “newspaper of record” The Washington Post it is quite likely that comparable trimming of the narrative also took place. To be sure, the Post is worse than the Times, characterized by heavily editorializing in its news coverage without necessarily tipping off the reader when “facts” end and speculation begins. In both publications, stories about Iran or Russia routinely begin with an assertion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that Iran is the aggressor in the Middle East, contentions that have not been demonstrated and can easily be challenged. Both publications also have endorsed every American war since 2001, including Iraq, Libya and the current mess in Syria, one indication of the quality of their reporting and analysis.

A recent op-ed in the Times by Bret Stephens is a perfect example of warmongering mischief wrapped in faux expert testimony to make it palatable. Stephens is the resident neocon at the Times. He was brought over from the Wall Street Journal when it was determined that his neocon colleague David Brooks had become overly squishy, while the resident “conservative” Russ Douthat had proven to be a bit too cautious and even rational to please the increasingly hawkish senior editors.

Stephens’ article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like “Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal” and “Real democracies don’t live in fear of their own people” and even “it’s not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran.” Or try “A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.”

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by Patrick J. Buchanan
January 09, 2018
Antiwar.com

Informing Iran, “The U.S. is watching what you do,” Amb. Nikki Haley called an emergency meeting Friday of the Security Council regarding the riots in Iran. The session left her and us looking ridiculous.

France’s ambassador tutored Haley that how nations deal with internal disorders is not the council’s concern. Russia’s ambassador suggested the United Nations should have looked into our Occupy Wall Street clashes and how the Missouri cops handled Ferguson.

Fifty years ago, 100 U.S. cities erupted in flames after Martin Luther King’s assassination. Federal troops were called in. In 1992, Los Angeles suffered the worst U.S. riot of the 20th century, after the LA cops who pummeled Rodney King were acquitted in Simi Valley.

Was our handling of these riots any business of the U.N.?

Conservatives have demanded that the U.N. keep its nose out of our sovereign affairs since its birth in 1946. Do we now accept that the U.N. has authority to oversee internal disturbances inside member countries?

Friday’s session fizzled out after Iran’s ambassador suggested the Security Council might take up the Israeli-Palestinian question or the humanitarian crisis produced by the U.S.-backed Saudi war on Yemen.

The episode exposes a malady of American foreign policy. It lacks consistency, coherence and moral clarity, treats friends and adversaries by separate standards, and is reflexively interventionist.

Thus has America lost much of the near-universal admiration and respect she enjoyed at the close of the Cold War.

This hubristic generation has kicked it all away.

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76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror

Tom Engelhardt
January 4, 2018
Unz Review

He left Air Force Two behind and, unannounced, “shrouded in secrecy,” flew on an unmarked C-17 transport plane into Bagram Air Base, the largest American garrison in Afghanistan. All news of his visit was embargoed until an hour before he was to depart the country.

More than 16 years after an American invasion “liberated” Afghanistan, he was there to offer some good news to a U.S. troop contingent once again on the rise. Before a 40-foot American flag, addressing 500 American troops, Vice President Mike Pence praised them as “the world’s greatest force for good,” boasted that American air strikes had recently been “dramatically increased,” swore that their country was “here to stay,” and insisted that “victory is closer than ever before.” As an observer noted, however, the response of his audience was “subdued.” (“Several troops stood with their arms crossed or their hands folded behind their backs and listened, but did not applaud.”)

Think of this as but the latest episode in an upside down geopolitical fairy tale, a grim, rather than Grimm, story for our age that might begin: Once upon a time — in October 2001, to be exact — Washington launched its war on terror. There was then just one country targeted, the very one where, a little more than a decade earlier, the U.S. had ended a long proxy war against the Soviet Union during which it had financed, armed, or backed an extreme set of Islamic fundamentalist groups, including a rich young Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden.

By 2001, in the wake of that war, which helped send the Soviet Union down the path to implosion, Afghanistan was largely (but not completely) ruled by the Taliban. Osama bin Laden was there, too, with a relatively modest crew of cohorts. By early 2002, he had fled to Pakistan, leaving many of his companions dead and his organization, al-Qaeda, in a state of disarray. The Taliban, defeated, were pleading to be allowed to put down their arms and go back to their villages, an abortive process that Anand Gopal vividly described in his book, No Good Men Among the Living.

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January 6, 2018
Paul Craig Roberts

Identity Politics has responded with outrage against People Magazine’s choice of white male country singer Blake Shelton as “sexiest man in the world.” According to adherents of Identity Politics, the choice indicates that People Magazine is itself racist and part of the white supremacy movement to elevate white people above people of color. The choice is doubly outrageous because, according to a writer in Salon, it reinforces and celebrates toxic white male sexuality and elevates a white man to a position of popular acclaim.

Every white person needs to read this article — http://www.unz.com/article/the-end-of-white-celebrity/ — to understand how they are being demonized and marginalized to the point of oblivion. By focusing primarily on white heterosexual males, Identity Politics tries to split white women off from white men by the use of the pejorative “misogynist”, but, as the article reports, white women, such as Taylor Swift, are also publicly demonized for their whiteness.

Reading this article in The Unz Review reminded me of an article I read last November in a Texas university newspaper that declared white DNA to be an abomination. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/30/texas-student-newspaper-blasted-over-anti-white-your-dna-is-abomination-column.html

Think about this for a minute. Suppose the writer had said “homosexual DNA is an abomination,” or “black DNA is an abomination,” or, heaven forbid, “Jewish DNA is an abomination.” Anyone who declared homosexuals, blacks, or Jews to be an abomination would be instantly fired, sued, charged with hate crimes and driven so deep into the ground that they would never reemerge.

The article in the student newspaper was a bit too much for Texas and produced a furor of its own. Lost in the furor was the realization that the writer was correctly interpreting the Identity Politics that today defines the liberal/progressive/left. Hillary Clinton herself expressed Identity Politics when she declared Americans who rejected her as president to be “deplorables.” CounterPunch printed an essay by its radio host that concluded Trump’s election was not legitimate because he was elected by racist, sexist, homophobic white male Trump deplorables.

In other words, Identity Politics cannot be dismissed as some sort of idiocy on the part of a few kooks. It is institutionalized in American politics and culture and is becoming a habitual way of thinking. The growing demonization of white people parallels the demonization of the Jews and can result in marginalization and physical destruction.

The immigration policies of white countries have created a diversity basis for ganging up on whites. If we put together a diverse population with the anti-white ideology of Identity Politics, we have a political and cultural trap for white people.

It seems paradoxical that Identity Politics is led by white/liberal/progressive/leftists advocating their own marginalization. However, as it is a correct conclusion from Identity Politics that white DNA is an abomination, white adherents of the ideology can logically see their demise as a benefit to humanity. But why should they be allowed to condemn whites who do not see themselves as an abomination?

What we are seeing unfold with Identity Politics was foretold by Jean Raspail in his futuristic novel The Camp of the Saints. Perhaps white people should read it as an indication of their possible fate.

William J. Astore
January 5, 2018
Antiwar.com

At TomDispatch.com, Tom Engelhardt has a revealing article on the truly global nature of America’s war on terror, accompanied by a unique map put together by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. The map reveals that America’s war on terror has spread to 76 countries, as shown below:

This metastasizing of “counterterror” efforts is truly paradoxical: the more the U.S. military works to stop terror, the more terror spreads. “Progress” is measured only by the growth of efforts to stem terror networks in more and more countries. But the notion of “progress” is absurd: That 76 countries are involved in some way in this war on terror is a sign of regress, not progress. After 16 years and a few trillion dollars, you’d think terror networks and efforts to eradicate them would be decreasing, not increasing. But the war on terror has become its own cancer, or, in social-media-speak, it’s gone viral, infecting more and more regions.

A metaphor I like to use is from Charles Darwin. Consider the face of nature – or of terrorism – as a series of tightly interlinked wedges. Now, consider the U.S. military and its kinetic strikes (as well as weapons sales and military assistance) as hammer blows. Those hammer blows disturb and contort the face of nature, fracturing it in unpredictable ways, propagating faults and creating conditions for further disturbances.

By hammering away at the complex ecologies of regions, the U.S. is feeding and complicating terrorism with its own violence. Yet new fracture lines are cited as evidence of the further growth of terrorism, thus necessitating more hammer blows (and yet more military spending). And the cycle of violence repeats as well as grows.

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Administrator’s note: this is not the first time the NY Times has distorted or withheld stories. It’s been going on for quite some time.

Jan. 5, 2018
RT

The New York Times was “quite willing” to quash stories at the behest of the government, writes Pulitzer- winning former reporter James Risen. He warns that America’s press has been muzzled by “hyped threats” to national security.

In an in-depth retelling of his experience as a national security reporter for the New York Times (NYT), published in The Intercept, Risen explains how, on more than one occasion, the NYT yielded to government demands to withhold or kill his stories – including a bombshell report about the NSA’s secret surveillance program under President George W. Bush.

Jaded by previous experiences of US government interference in his work, Risen writes that his NSA story set him on a “collision course” with his editors, “who were still quite willing to cooperate with the government.” His editors at the Times had been convinced by top US officials that revealing the illegal surveillance program would endanger American lives, Risen said.

Bill Keller, the then executive editor of Times, said the newspaper’s decision to shelve the explosive report, which detailed how the NSA had “monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years,” was motivated by the lingering “trauma” of the 9/11 terror attacks, and the sobering reality that the “world was a dangerous place.”

Risen’s NSA scoop, which later won him a Pulitzer Prize, was eventually published a year after he submitted it to his seniors – but only after Bush had been safely re-elected. Risen said that upon hearing the story was finally going to print, Bush telephoned Arthur Sulzberger, the Times’s publisher, requesting a private meeting to convince him against running the story.

Risen also recounts how, in the run-up to the Iraq War, his stories questioning alleged links between Iraq and Al Qaeda “were being cut, buried, or held out of the paper altogether.” While cooperation between the press and the government poses a number of troubling questions, Risen also points to the zealous persecution of whistleblowers, leakers, and even journalists themselves, as a root cause of the troubling state of American media.

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12/18/2017
The Corbett Report

Half a century ago, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” to describe the fascistic collusion between the Pentagon and America’s burgeoning armaments industry. But in our day and age we are witnessing the rise of a new collusion, one between the Pentagon and the tech industry that it helped to seed, that is committed to waging a covert war against people the world over. Now, in the 21st century, it is time to give this new threat a name: the information-industrial complex.

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A new Declaration of Independence for 2018

Philip Giraldi
January 2, 2018
The Unz Review

Now that 2017 has ended with a whimper it is possible to look forward to what the new year might bring. Nuclear armed North Korea is the potential flash point for a new war, but unless leader Kim Jong-un is actually intent on personal and national suicide, it is unlikely that Pyongyang will take the steps necessary to escalate and trigger such an event. Far more dangerous is the Trump White House, which seems to confuse acting tough with acting smart. Every time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentions negotiating he is contradicted by Nikki Haley or the president saying that diplomacy has played out, but the reality is that the incineration of the Korean peninsula and the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions, which such a war would inevitably produce, might just be a bridge too far even for the generals and assorted psychopaths that appear to be running the show. Which means that at a certain point the diplomats, perhaps in an arrangement brokered by Russia or China, will have to take over. Let us hope so anyway.

And the United States has also shot itself in the foot regarding Russia, an adversary with which Donald Trump once upon a time wanted to improve relations. But that was all before a politically driven Russiagate happened, turning Moscow into the enemy of choice once again, as it once was during the Cold War. In any event dealmaker Trump did not appreciate that you can’t improve relations when you threaten a vital interest of those you are wanting to improve relations with. The United States and its allies persist in running military exercises right on Russia’s borders under the false assumption that President Vladimir Putin heads an expansionist power. The recent decision to sell offensive weapons to Ukraine is a move that serves no American interest whatsoever while at the same time threatening Moscow’s vital interests since Ukraine sits right on its doorstep. It is a bad move that guarantees that relations with Russia will continue to be in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future.

Note that all the major problems that America is experiencing versus the rest of the world are pretty much self-inflicted. In my view, looking beyond Russia and North Korea, America’s principal foreign policy problems continue to be centered on the Middle East and all originate in the deliberate instability generated by Israel, currently joined in an unholy alliance by its former enemy Saudi Arabia. The Tel Aviv (excuse me, Jerusalem) to Riyadh axis is current working hard to bring a new war to the Middle East as part of their plan to have the United States military destroy Iran as a major regional power.

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Finian Cunningham
Dec. 29, 2017
Strategic Culture Foundation

Like a good wine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s famous speech delivered in Munich 10 years ago regarding global security has been rewarded with time. A decade on, the many facets contained in that address have only become all the more enhanced and tangible.

Speaking to a senior international audience at the annual Munich Security Conference, on February 10, 2007, the Russian leader opened by saying he was going to speak about world relations forthrightly and not in “empty diplomatic terms”. In what followed, Putin did not disappoint. With candor and incisiveness, he completely leveled the arrogance of American unilateral power.

He condemned the “aspirations of world supremacy” as a danger to global security. “We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law,” adding at a later point: “One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

But, moreover, Putin presciently predicted that the American arrogance of unipolar dominance would in the end lead to the demise of the power from seeking such supremacy.

A unipolar world, he said, is “a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.”

Ten years on from that call, few can doubt that the global standing of the United States has indeed spectacularly fallen – just as Putin had forewarned back in 2007. The most recent example of demise was the sordid business earlier this month of arm-twisting and bullying by the US at the United Nations over the tabled resolutions repudiating Washington’s ill-considered declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Other examples of fallen American leadership can be seen in regard to President Trump’s reckless threats of war – instead of diplomacy – with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Or Trump’s irrational and unfounded belligerence towards Iran. The American propensity for using military force regardless of diplomacy and international law leaves most nations feeling a shudder of contempt and trepidation.

Another example of fallen American leadership is seen in the boorish way the Trump administration has unilaterally rejected the 2015 international Paris Accord to combat deleterious climate change. Trump views it as a conspiracy to undermine the American economy, as he alluded to in his recent National Security Strategy. How can such a self-declared global leader be taken seriously, much less, with respect?

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