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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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Washington’s well-funded web of interventionist elites is quietly populating the president’s national security circle, again.

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
January 16, 2018
The American Conservative


U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster during September briefing on North Korea. (White House)

Over the last year critics have warned of the returning neoconservative influence on the executive branch’s national security apparatus, each day a little less confident that President Donald Trump will keep to the seeming anti-interventionist impulses he demonstrated during the 2016 campaign.

News flash: We’re already there.

Of course the most garish of the pro-war set—Sebastian Gorka, K.T. McFarland, John Bolton—are easy to identify in or on the periphery of Trump’s orbit (in Gorka’s case, he was cast out of the White House, only to flak away in any media outlet that will pay attention). Meanwhile, elite neoconservative voices like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have become darlings of the “Never Trump” cadre, finding new life as conservative tokens on “Resistance” media like MSNBC.

What has been less obvious, but has become much clearer in these last few months, is that other neoconservatives are quietly filling the vacuum left by Obama’s cadre of liberal interventionists. Many of them had taken a pass on “Never Trumping” publicly, and are now popping up at the elbows of top cabinet officials.

Take Nadia Schadlow, for instance. Never heard of her? Unless you’ve been navigating the rice paddies of Washington’s post-9/11 national security enterprise for the last several years, there’s no reason you would have. But she has been at the National Security Council since last winter, and is set to replace Dina Powell as deputy national security advisor, at the right hand of NSC chief H.R. McMaster. She was also the lead on the White House National Security Strategy, released last month.

This was Schadlow’s first position in government. Her résumé includes doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) under the tutelage of vocal Never Trumper and Iraq war promoter Eliot Cohen, who runs the largely neoconservative Strategic Studies program there, and whose last book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power, argued that the U.S., backed by a more robust military, must be the “guardian of a stable world order.” In that vein, Schadlow published a book last year, War and the Art of Governance, that extols the virtues of long-term military intervention for “achieving sustainable political outcomes,” requiring “the consolidation of combat gains through the establishment of stable environments.” Schadlow has repeated this for years as a mantra for reordering military strategy in the wake of the disastrous wars she and her contemporaries helped sustain, in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. Call it nation-building by another name.

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Four Star General Wesley Clark Reminds Us: 10 Years Prior to 9/11 Neoconservatives Had A Plan To Destabilize the Middle East

Part of the plan was to orchestrate a “new Pearl Harbor.”

There is no doubt that Gen. Clark is telling the truth, but it has had no effect.

Nandini Pandey
Jan 9, 2018
Antiwar.com

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Three days after 9/11, as the Twin Towers continued to burn, a near-unanimous United States Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The lone dissenter, Representative Barbara Lee, warned that the resolution gave a “blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events — anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.”

Representative Lee was right. In the sixteen years since 9/11, these 60 words have been used to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries under George W. Bush and Barack Obama alone, many targeting groups that played no role in the attacks. The Trump administration, too, continues to pursue covert military actions under the AUMF that only occasionally emerge into the news cycle — as with the mysterious deaths of four US soldiers in Niger this October. Expressing surprise at their presence, Senator Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, acknowledged, “This is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time or geography.”

I felt a shock of recognition as I read Graham’s words. Earlier that evening, my graduate seminar on empire in the Roman imagination had discussed Jupiter’s prophecy in the first book of Virgil’s Aeneid:

His ego nec metas rerum nec tempora pono;
imperium sine fine dedi.

For the Romans I place neither boundaries nor time limits on power;
I have given them empire without end.

Most readers, analogizing imperium with its English cognate, understand this as a promise that Rome’s territorial “empire” (imperium) will be “without end” (sine fine) in space or time (the Latin finis can refer to either type of boundary, and sometimes to purpose, as I’ll return to below). But long before imperium denoted the geographical entity or political abstraction now known as empire, it referred to an elected official’s legal permission to command troops within a specific region or scope (provincia). In the sense most common in Virgil’s day, then, Jupiter is granting the Romans an ex post facto AUMF: authorization for the “military force without limit” by which Rome would conquer the Mediterranean world, and finally herself.

Maps (left) of current US military operations under the AUMF and (right) Rome’s expansion of imperium, before and after the emperors.

In her 2001 speech against pursuing an “open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target,” Representative Lee warned Congress not to “repeat past mistakes” like the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which escalated America’s long and divisive war in Vietnam. But the Romans’ shifting uses and abuses of imperium provide older, and equally troubling, commentary on America’s nebulous “war on terror” — which has by now outlasted the Vietnam War and shows no signs of abating. If history does not repeat itself, but rhymes, then Rome’s “warfare without bounds” resonates with America’s present outward and inward strife. As Aeneas says to the Cumaean Sibyl, after she prophesies a new war in Italy that will reprise the one at Troy:

“No new or unexpected form of suffering appears to me, o virgin;
I’ve foreseen them all and experienced them before, in my own spirit.”

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by William D. Hartung and Tom Engelhardt
January 12, 2018
Originally posted at TomDispatch.

Here’s a cheery note for you: the last mass killing of 2017 took place moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A 16-year-old New Jersey boy picked up a semi-automatic rifle, “lawfully acquired” by a member of his family, and killed his father, mother, sister, and a family friend. In doing so, he helped ensure that 2017 would be the deadliest year for mass killings in our modern history. (There is now, on average, slightly more than one mass killing a day in this country.) Nonetheless, guns of all sorts, including military-style assault rifles and even bump stocks like the 12 Stephen Paddock evidently used to turn his semi-automatics into functional automatics and slaughter 58 people from a hotel window in Las Vegas, are still readily available. Nowhere on Earth, not even in ravaged Yemen (which takes second place in gun ownership), is more weaponry available to more types of people. As the years go by here, such weapons are more easily and openly carried with only the most minimal of background checks (or less than that). Think about this: Americans, 4.4% of the people on this planet, own 42% of the guns and commit 31% of the mass killings.

Oh, and I did promise you that there was something cheery in all this, didn’t I? So here it is: the Trump administration, knowing a good thing when it sees it, is now hard at work ensuring that American weapons makers will make it a remarkably similar world. Its officials are intent, it seems, on recreating the planet in an American image. Keep in mind that U.S. arms makers like Lockheed, Raytheon, and General Dynamics already monopolize the global arms market in a way that should (but in this country regularly doesn’t) stagger the imagination. U.S. weapons sales in 2016, for instance, took about 50% of global market share and many of those major weapons systems went into planetary hot spots, including Yemen (thanks to the American-backed Saudi war of annihilation there). Weaponry from other countries, year after year in this century, came in a distant second, third, or fourth. Between 2012 and 2016, in fact, the U.S. sold weaponry to at least 100 countries.

So Washington is already, in significant ways, arming the world, but evidently, as far as President Trump and the weapons makers he loves are concerned, not yet enough of it. As a result, his administration is reportedly planning to open the global spigot on the very sorts of weapons now regularly used in this country for mass killings, making it far easier for American gun and ammunition manufacturers to sell to anyone interested abroad and far harder for law enforcement here to track whose hands those weapons end up in. Administration officials supposedly plan to cut down on oversight for such sales by making the Commerce Department, not the State Department, responsible for them, while streamlining small arms export controls, a process the Obama administration began. At news of this, the (non-bump) stocks of gun manufacturers surged.

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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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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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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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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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Patrick Cockburn
December 30, 2017
The Unz Review

I spent most of the last year reporting two sieges, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, which finally ended with the decisive defeat of Isis. This was the most important event in the Middle East in 2017, though people are already beginning to forget how dangerous the Isis caliphate was at the height of its power and even in its decline. Not so long ago, its “emirs” ruled an area in western Iraq and eastern Syria which was the size of Great Britain and Isis-inspired or organised terrorists dominated the news every few months by carrying out atrocities from Manchester to Kabul and Berlin to the Sahara. Isis retains the capacity to slaughter civilians – witness events in Sinai and Afghanistan in the last few weeks – but no longer has its own powerful centrally organised state which was what made it such a threat.

The defeat of Isis is cheering in itself and its fall has other positive implications. It is a sign that the end may be coming to the cycle of wars that have torn apart Iraq since 2003, when the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein, and Syria since 2011, when the uprising started against President Bashar al-Assad. So many conflicts were intertwined on the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields – Sunni against Shia, Arab against Kurd, Iran against Saudi Arabia, people against dictatorship, US against a variety of opponents – that the ending of these multiple crises was always going to be messy. But winners and losers are emerging who will shape the region for decades to come. Over-cautious warnings that Isis and al-Qaeda may rise again or transmute into a new equally lethal form underestimate the depth of the changes that have happened over the last few years. The Jihadis have lost regional support, popular Sunni sympathy, the element of surprise, the momentum of victory while their enemies are far stronger than they used to be. The resurrection of the Isis state would be virtually impossible.

But the defeat of Isis in its heartlands has not produced the rejoicing that might have been expected. This is partly because people are uncertain that the snake is really dead and rightly fearful that Isis can kill a lot of people in its death throes. I was in Baghdad in October and November where there are now fewer violent incidents than at any time since 2003. Compare this with upwards of 3,000 people blown up, shot or tortured to death in the capital in a single month at the height of the Sunni-Shia sectarian civil war in 2006-7. At that time, Iraqi young men would have their bodies tattooed so they could be identified after death even if they were badly mutilated. Only 18 months ago, a bomb in a truck in the Karada district of Baghdad killed at least 323 people so Baghdadis are understandably wary of celebrating peace prematurely.

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