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9/11 – A Cheap Magic Trick

How false flag attacks are manufactured by the world's elite.

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Tag: Fake al qaeda


Kill the 2001 authorization for war

By Jerrod Laber and Lucy Steigerwald
July 19, 2017
The American Conservative

In a late-June session of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) successfully added an amendment to a Defense Appropriations Bill that would repeal the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF).

Update, 7/19: Rep. Lee Tweeted Wednesday morning that Speaker Ryan had essentially stripped her AUMF amendment from the final defense bill “in the dead of the night” Tuesday.

The passage of this amendment sent a positive signal that America’s war-making capabilities will finally be the subject of a debate, at least on the House floor. On July 12, Lee even met with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the matter. Unfortunately, it appears that Lee’s amendment is being threatened by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who has offered up a replacement bill that, instead of repealing the 2001 AUMF, would ask Congress to clarify war powers and goals.

Unsurprisingly, Lee is not satisfied with that slight improvement. Lee has objected to its powers since 2001, when the AUMF was first passed four days after the terrorist attacks of September 11. The original vote gave the president wide latitude to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” that he determined were responsible for 9/11. It passed with remarkable speed, and there were no committee hearings. Lee was the only member of either chamber of Congress to vote against the bill.

Sixteen years of interventionist foreign-policy decisions have stretched this authorization to encompass any and all uses of military force broadly connected to the War on Terror, including actions against “associated groups” related to the 9/11 terrorists. The AUMF was used to justify the invasion of Iraq (though that invasion received its own resolution), even though there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda or 9/11. Every one of the recent drone wars in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia was “authorized” by the legislation. The AUMF is the backbone of U.S. actions in Syria against the Islamic State (beyond, that is, the evergreen assertions of executive power). Special Operations forces have entered 70 percent of the world’s countries so far this year. As investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill noted in the subtitle of his best-selling book Dirty Wars, the world is indeed a battlefield, and the 2001 AUMF gets a lot of the credit for that making that a reality.

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Senate Hearing on Foreign Agents Registration Act
By Grant Smith
Information Clearing House
July 18, 2017


Alleged Russian meddling in the US electoral process will be the subject of a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Wednesday. The hearing is titled “Oversight of the Justice Department’s (Non) Enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act: Lessons from the Obama Administration and Current Compliance Practices.” In 1938 the U.S. Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act to mandate disclosure of the activities of non-diplomatic foreign agents in the United States propagandizing for war, swinging public opinion, and obtaining foreign aid and other economic benefits through congressional lobbying without disclosing that their activities were conducted on behalf of foreign principals.

The first panel of witnesses for Wednesday’s Senate hearing will include Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Justice Department Adam Hickey, Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI Bill Priestap and Inspector General of the Justice Department Michael Horowitz.

Second panel witnesses include Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, an outfit which circulated the now infamous dossier of allegations made against Donald Trump by a British spy. William Browder, a Russian market investment expert from Hermitage Capital Management, who has now deemed Russia “absolutely uninvestable” will also testify. According to reports, Browder knows Natalia Veslnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. to peddle opposition research on Hillary Clinton.

Panel Chairman Chuck Grassley may ultimately conclude that the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has failed and that unregistered Russian foreign agents are taking over America. If so, he will be half right, but not the first such senator to express concern. Grassley should consider what happened after a more extensive Senate FARA inquiry was launched 55 years ago.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman JW Fulbright became convinced that unregistered Israeli foreign agents were a serious matter in 1961. A classified staff report worried that:

“In recent years there has been an increasing number of incidents involving attempts by foreign governments, or their agents, to influence the conduct of American foreign policy by techniques outside normal diplomatic channels….there have been occasions when representatives of other governments have been privately accused of engaging in covert activities within the United States and elsewhere, for the purpose of influencing United States Policy (the Lavon Affair).”

The Lavon Affair referred to Israeli false-flag terror attacks on US facilities in Egypt, in the interest of preventing the handover of the Suez Canal to Egyptian control. The Israeli spies were caught and prosecuted by Egypt, while the disclosure of the attacks created a diplomatic crisis.

During the course of the 1960s Senate and Justice Department investigations, it was revealed that Israel was funneling millions of dollars to unregistered foreign agents in America to lobby for foreign aid to Israel, set up think tanks, engage in Madison Avenue public relations, fund lobbying newsletters, and establish an umbrella organization called the American Zionist Council (AZC).

Within the AZC was an unincorporated unit that lobbied congress called the “American Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

On November 21, 1962, the Department of Justice ordered the AZC to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent. This touched off an intense battle between the Justice Department and the AZC which outlasted both JFK and RFK. The bloodied and bruised Justice Department hid away its files on the affair until they were finally declassified and released in 2008.

The effort to register Israel’s foreign agents clearly failed. Just 42 days after the Justice Department order, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee incorporated itself in Washington and took over the AZC’s functions. Since the year it was ordered to register—as part of the AZC—AIPAC has extracted an inflation-adjusted $250 billion from US taxpayers for its foreign principals. Influencing the conduct of US policy “by techniques outside normal diplomatic channels” has never stopped.

If AIPAC had complied with the 1962 FARA order, by now it would have filed 109 required biennial reports (1963-2017) of its activities. It would have had to detail joint efforts with Israeli operatives. These include a 1975 incident in which AIPAC Director Morris Amitay circulated classified information about a proposed US Hawk missile sale to Jordan. AIPAC’s FARA file would have had to detail AIPAC staffers Steven Rosen, Douglas Bloomfield and Ester Kurz 1984 receipt of stolen classified information taken from US industry groups opposed to allowing duty free imports from Israel into the United States. Of course, the FARA disclosure would include details on two AIPAC executives, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who from 2002-2004 solicited and received stolen classified national defense information from Colonel Lawrence Franklin about Iran and other matters which they passed to the Israeli embassy. The pair attempted to contextualize and place the stolen classified national defense information in the Washington Post to precipitate a US attack on Iran.

AIPAC is not complying with the 1962 DOJ order. The Grassley panel might want to invite the FARA Section Head Heather Hunt, who knows all about the AZC-AIPAC incident, to testify why. In 2009 Hunt, along with other members of the FARA division, received a two-hour briefing with the unsubtle title of “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is an Unregistered Foreign Agent of the Israeli Government.” (PDF)

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by Lucy Steigerwald
June 17, 2017

There are more than 8,000 troops still fighting in America’s longest war. According to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, we need about 3,000 more. The idea that 3,000 troops will change a decade and a half long stalemate seems dubious, but that’s the number Mattis suggests. Others in the administration are reportedly arguing that that number is too small.

The war in Afghanistan seems to be never-ending, but now something is a little different. The military is making the calls more directly. That’s not how it generally works. The Constitution specifies that civilians will control the armed forces. This has been laid out more overtly in subsequent legislation.

Congress is supposed to vote on war, though that only happens sometimes, and executives feel free to use drones, missiles, and Special Forces in countless countries on which the US has never declared war.

There are a lot of “supposed tos” that aren’t happening in US foreign policy. The president decides to go to war, and congress is too timid to enforce their ability to vote on it. The post-Richard Nixon War Powers Resolution has never once been actually used against a commander in chief who engaged troops or bombs or drones, or some combination, without approval from the legislative branch.

Few expected Donald Trump to be a micromanager of the armed forces. During his campaign, the future president talked the occasional good game about the benefits of the military being less of a presence in the world. When real world politics caught up with him, that supposed skepticism towards America’s past military adventures started to look a lot more like trusting the military to handle their own affairs – and that’s the most generous way of putting it.

To some, that’s a positive step. Trump sure thinks so. In April he said that the armed forces were making their own decisions on the ground and “frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

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He scores two takedowns in two days

by Justin Raimondo
July 14, 2017
Antiwar.com

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

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

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

“Because we were stupid,” says Peters.

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

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By Bob Graham and Dan Christensen
Special to the Tampa Bay Times
July 10, 2017 3:34pm

Sixteen years is a long time to expect the American public to wait to know who was behind 9/11, the most significant act of terror in modern U.S. history. Unfortunately, the wait continues because of the resistance of federal agencies to openness, the over-classification of information and the weakness of the Freedom of Information Act.

Vast numbers of investigative and intelligence documents related to 9/11 remain classified. The FBI alone has acknowledged it has tens of thousands of pages of 9/11 reports that it refuses to make public. To make matters worse, agencies withholding information tell what are essentially lies to make their actions seem as acceptable as possible.

For example, the FBI repeatedly has said its investigation of a Saudi family who moved abruptly out of their Sarasota home two weeks before 9/11 — leaving behind their cars, clothes, furniture and other belongings — found no connections to the attacks. Yet statements in the FBI’s own files that were never disclosed to Congress or the 9/11 Commission say the opposite — that the Sarasota Saudis had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”

Trust in government today is near historic lows. Recent polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found that only 20 percent of Americans trust Washington to do what’s right. When the people think government isn’t listening to them, or giving them the respect of knowing what it is doing, it feeds into that undercurrent and denies the public the opportunity to be part of the discussion about what we should be doing.

Last summer’s release of the long-hidden “28 pages” from Congress’ Joint Inquiry into 9/11 and FBI records obtained by Florida Bulldog amid ongoing FOIA litigation indicate that much about Saudi Arabia’s role in supporting the 9/11 hijackers remains classified. If the public knew the role the kingdom played in 9/11, would the United States be selling them $350 billion in sophisticated military equipment?

The Freedom of Information Act is intended to be how classified materials are unearthed. But as it is currently written and has been generally interpreted by the courts, most recently by Miami federal Judge Cecilia Altonaga in Florida Bulldog’s lawsuit against the FBI, the frequently trivial concerns of agencies trump the fundamental democratic principle that Americans deserve to know what their government is doing in their name.

The problem is illustrated by Altonaga’s June 29 order denying the public access to an FBI PowerPoint titled “Overview of the 9/11 Investigation.” The judge agreed with the FBI that much information, including classified pages about who funded the attacks, was exempt from FOIA disclosure because it might disclose law enforcement “techniques and procedures,” even though the overview doesn’t discuss those techniques and procedures. Altonaga ruled without holding a trial at which agents could be cross-examined in open court on the facts that supported the FBI’s claims.

For instance, the FBI withheld a photo taken by a security camera around the time of the attacks in 2001. The FBI argued, and the judge agreed, that the camera’s location could be deduced by viewing that photographic evidence. It is a trivialization of FOIA to use its exemptions to protect the location of a security camera 16 years ago.

The “techniques and procedures” exemption should not be used as a rationale for the nondisclosure of the image in the photograph. The camera didn’t give the American government information to avoid 9/11. Why are we covering up for this failed system 16 years later?

The classification process today is driven by the agency that’s trying to withhold the information. No disinterested third party is involved that would be free from the motivation of burying ineptitude, or worse, by the agency holding the material.

The government hasn’t always had such a tightfisted approach to records. During the Civil War, amid Northern discontent as the war grew increasingly bloody, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a policy that every diplomatic message received or sent would regularly be made public. Lincoln believed such extreme openness was needed so people could see how the Union was conducting foreign policy, particularly whether Spain, France or England were going to recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, a potentially crippling blow.

Acting in the face of extreme crisis, Lincoln demonstrated an early belief in the value of open records to keep the public informed and supportive. The president, the FBI and other agencies would be wise to follow President Lincoln’s example. Congress would be wise to reform FOIA so it serves its intended purpose.

Bob Graham was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chairman of Congress’s Joint Inquiry into the terrorist attacks. He served as Florida’s governor from 1979-87. Dan Christensen is an award-winning investigative reporter and the founder and editor of Florida Bulldog, a nonprofit news organization. They wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.


It’s unclear whether she is speaking for herself or the White House.

By Philip Giraldi
July 7, 2017
The American Conservative

I went to a meeting the other night with some Donald Trump supporters who, like me, had voted for him based on expectations of a more rational foreign policy. They were suggesting that the president’s attempts to move in that direction had been sabotaged by officials inside the administration who want to maintain the current warfare state. Remove those officials and Trump might just keep his pledge to leave Bashar al-Assad alone while improving relations with Russia. I was somewhat skeptical, noting that the White House had unilaterally initiated the April 7 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase as well as the more recent warning against an alleged “planned” chemical attack, hardly moves that might lead to better relations with Damascus and Moscow. But there are indeed some administration figures who clearly are fomenting endless conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.

One might reasonably start with Generals James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, both of whom are hardliners on Afghanistan and Iran, but with a significant caveat. Generals are trained and indoctrinated to fight and win wars, not to figure out what comes next. General officers like George Marshall or even Dwight Eisenhower who had a broader vision are extremely rare, so much so that expecting a Mattis or McMaster to do what falls outside their purview is perhaps a bit too much. They might be bad choices for the jobs they hold, but at least they employ some kind of rational process, based on how they perceive national interests, to make judgements. If properly reined in by a thoughtful civilian leadership, which does not exist at the moment, they have the potential to be effective contributors to the national-security discussion.

But several other notable figures in the administration deserve to be fired if there is to be any hope of turning Trump’s foreign policy around. In Arthur Sullivan’s and W. S. Gilbert’s The Mikado, the Lord High Executioner sings about the “little list” he is preparing of people who “never will be missed” when he finally gets around to fulfilling the requirements of his office. He includes “apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,” indicating that the American frustration with the incompetence of its government is not unique, nor is it a recent phenomenon.

My own little list of “society’s offenders” consists largely of the self-described gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts.” Unfortunately, the neocons have proven to be particularly resilient in spite of repeated claims that their end was nigh, most recently after the election of Donald Trump last November. Yet as most of the policies the neocons have historically espoused are indistinguishable from what the White House is currently trying to sell, one might well wake up one morning and imagine that it is 2003 and George W. Bush is still president. Still, hope springs eternal, and now that the United States has celebrated its 241st birthday, it would be nice to think that in the new year our nation might be purged of some of the malignancies that have prevailed since 9/11.

Number one on my little list is Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. Haley has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office and, it has become clear, much of what she says goes without any vetting by the Trump administration. It is never clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House. That issue has reportedly been dealt with by having the State Department clear in advance her comments on hot button issues, but, if that is indeed the case, the change has been difficult to discern in practice.

Haley is firmly in the neocon camp, receiving praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Haley sees the United Nations as corrupt and bloated, in itself not an unreasonable conclusion, but she has tied herself closely to a number of other, more debatable issues.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel. She signed into law a bill to restrict the activities of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Haley has also stated that “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating “You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction…if there’s anything I have no patience for, it’s bullies, and the UN was being such a bully to Israel, because they could.”

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July 7, 2017
Paul Craig Roberts

The backdrops to the Putin/Trump meeting are the aspirations of Israel and the neoconservatives. It is these aspirations that drive US foreign policy.

What is Syria about? Why is Washington so focused on overthrowing the elected president of Syria? What explains the sudden 21st century appearance of “the Muslim threat”? How is Washington’s preoccupation with “the Muslim threat” consistent with Washington’s wars against Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad, leaders who suppressed jihadism? What explains the sudden appearance of “the Russian threat” which has been hyped into dangerous Russophobia without any basis in fact?

The Muslim threat, the Russian threat, and the lies used to destroy Iraq, Libya, and parts of Syria are all orchestrations to serve Israeli and neoconservative aspirations.

The Israel Lobby in the United States, perhaps most strongly represented in Commentary, The Weekly Standard and The New York Times, used the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to urge US President George W. Bush to begin “a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from Power in Iraq.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century
See also: http://www.ihr.org/leaflets/iraqwar.shtml

Saddam Hussein was a secular leader whose job was to sit on the animosities of the Sunni and Shia and maintain a non-violent political stability in Iraq. He, Assad, and Gaddafi suppressed the extremism that leads to jihadism. Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, and under his rule Iraq constituted a ZERO threat to the US. He had been a faithful vassal and attacked Iran for Washington, which had hopes of using Iraq to overthrow the Iranian government.

Removing secular leaders is what unleashes jihadism. Washington unleashed Muslim terrorism by regime change that murdered secular leaders and left countries in chaos.

Fomenting chaos in Iraq was the beginning for spreading chaos into Syria and then Iran. Syria and Iran support Hezbollah, the militia in southern Lebanon that has twice driven out the Israeli Army sent in to occupy southern Lebanon so that Israel could appropriate the water resources.

The neoconservatives’ wars against the Middle East serve to remove the governments that provide military and financial support to Hezbollah. By spreading jihadism closer to the Russian Federation, these wars coincide perfectly with the US neoconservative policy of US World Hegemony. As expressed by Paul Wolfowitz, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Israel wants Syria and Iran to join Iraq and Libya in American-induced chaos so that Israel can steal the water in southern Lebanon. If Syria and Iran are in chaos like Iraq and Libya, Hezbollah will not have the military and financial support to withstand the Israeli military.

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By Patrick J. Buchanan
July 4, 2017
The American Conservative

In the first line of the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson speaks of “one people.” The Constitution, agreed upon by the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia in 1789, begins, “We the people…”

And who were these “people”?

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay writes of them as “one united people … descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”

If such are the elements of nationhood and peoplehood, can we still speak of Americans as one nation and one people?

We no longer have the same ancestors. They are of every color and from every country. We do not speak one language, but rather English, Spanish and a host of others. We long ago ceased to profess the same religion. We are Evangelical Christians, mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, agnostics and atheists.

Federalist No. 2 celebrated our unity. Today’s elites proclaim that our diversity is our strength. But is this true or a tenet of trendy ideology?

After the attempted massacre of Republican Congressmen at that ball field in Alexandria, Fareed Zakaria wrote: “The political polarization that is ripping this country apart” is about “identity … gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation (and) social class.” He might have added — religion, morality, culture and history.

Zakaria seems to be tracing the disintegration of our society to that very diversity that its elites proclaim to be its greatest attribute: “If the core issues are about identity, culture and religion … then compromise seems immoral. American politics is becoming more like Middle Eastern politics, where there is no middle ground between being Sunni or Shiite.”

Among the issues on which we Americans are at war with one another — abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, white cops, black crime, Confederate monuments, LGBT rights, affirmative action.

Was the discovery of America and conquest of this continent from 1492 to the 20th century among the most glorious chapters in the history of man? Or was it a half-millennium marked by mankind’s most scarlet of sins: the genocide of native peoples, the enslavement of Africans, the annihilation of indigenous cultures, the spoliation of a virgin land?

Is America really “God’s Country”? Or was Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, justified when, after 9/11, he denounced calls of “God Bless America!” with the curse “God Damn America!”?

With its silence, the congregation seemed to assent.

In 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance many of us recited daily at the end of noon recess in the schoolyard was amended to read, “one nation, under God, indivisible.”

Are we still one nation under God? At the Democratic Convention in Charlotte to renominate Barack Obama, a motion to put “God” back into the platform was hooted and booed by half the assembly.

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On Oliver Stone’s The Putin Interviews (Part III)
by Justin Raimondo Posted on June 30, 2017
Antiwar.com

As the “Russia-gate” farce continues to dominate the American “news” media, and President Trump’s foreign policy veers off in a direction many of his supporters find baffling, one wonders: what the heck happened? I thought Trump was supposed to be “Putin’s puppet,” as Hillary Clinton and her journalistic camarilla would have it. The Russian president, in his extended interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone, has an explanation:

“Stone: Donald Trump won. This is your fourth president, am I right? Clinton, Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama, and now your fourth one.

“Putin: Yes, that’s true.

“Stone: What changes?

“Putin: Well, almost nothing.”

Stone is surprised by this answer, and Putin elaborates:

“Well, life makes some changes for you. But on the whole, everywhere, especially in the United States, the bureaucracy is very strong. And bureaucracy is the one that rules the world.”

This is a reiteration of something the Russian president said earlier in the context of Stone’s questions about the US election. Stone asks what he thinks of the various candidates: Trump’s name doesn’t come up, but Stone does ask about Bernie Sanders. Putin replies:

“It’s not up to us to say. It’s not whether we are going to like it or not. All I can say is as follows … the force of the United States bureaucracy is very great. It’s immense. And there are many facts not visible about the candidates until they become president. And the moment one gets to the real work, he or she feels the burden.”

So it doesn’t matter who wins the presidential election, and inhabits the White House, because the national security bureaucracy is forever, and their power is – almost – unchallengeable. And so, given this, Putin’s answer to Stone’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek question, “Why did you hack the election?”, is anti-climactic. The answer is: why would they bother? Putin dismisses the question as “a very silly statement,” and then goes on to wonder why Western journalists find the prospect of getting along with Russia so problematic.

Trump and his campaign, says Putin, “understood where their voters were located” – a reference, I believe, to the surprising results in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Clinton’s supporters “should have drawn conclusions from what they did, from how they did their jobs, they shouldn’t have tried to shift the blame on to something outside.” This is what the more perceptive progressives are saying – but then again I suppose that they, too, are “Putin’s puppets.”

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By Daniel Larison
June 30, 2017
The American Conservative

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky also judge Mohammed bin Salman’s record to be very poor:

But one thing is already stunningly clear when it comes to his handling of foreign policy: In two short years, as the deputy crown prince and defense minister, MBS has driven the Kingdom into a series of royal blunders in Yemen, Qatar and Iran, and he has likely over promised what Saudi Arabia is able and willing to do on the Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking front. Far from demonstrating judgment and experience, he’s proven to be reckless and impulsive, with little sense of how to link tactics and strategy. And sadly, he’s managed to implicate and drag the new Trump administration into some of these misadventures, too.

Miller and Sokolsky are right about MBS’ shoddy record, but their warning to the Trump administration is very likely too late. They urge the administration to rethink its position before “its Middle East policy becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia,” but I fear that that already happened at the Riyadh summit. Unfortunately, some top U.S. officials are only just now realizing it and don’t know how to stop it. There could be some belated efforts to undo this, but Trump isn’t interested. He doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with identifying the U.S. so closely with the Saudis, and he doesn’t see their recklessness and destructive behavior for what they are. Since he is impulsive, careless, and has poor judgment, it isn’t surprising that he has such an affinity for the aging Saudi despot and his favorite incompetent son. On top of all that, MBS is a short-sighted, foolish hard-liner on Iran, and as far as we can tell Trump is much the same, so we should expect them to be on the same page.

There’s no question that every foreign policy initiative associated with MBS has “turned into a hot mess,” but this has been obvious in Yemen for the last two years. If no one in the Trump administration noticed that before, what is going to make them realize it now? The authors are also right that Trump’s decision “to side with Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Qatar and in Yemen is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire,” but until very recently uncritical backing of the Saudis in their regional adventurism enjoyed broad bipartisan support that helped make it possible for things to get this bad. There were very few in Washington who thought that pouring gasoline on the fire was the wrong thing to do, and for more than two years the U.S. poured a lot of gas on the fire in Yemen that has been consuming thousands of lives and putting millions at risk of starvation.

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