Monday December 18, 2017
President Trump has often said that his foreign policy objective was to keep his enemies guessing. If that’s the goal, you could say that he’s doing a good job. The problem is who does he think his enemies are, because the American people are often left guessing as well.
Sunday December 17, 2017
US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has refuted claims that the US is preparing for war on Iran after US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley led a bizarre press conference in which she stated that Iran has armed Houthi fighters in Yemen and thus violating the terms of the JCPOA (aka Iran nuclear deal). Haley did not provide any evidence to substantiate her claims, claims which are logistically impossible given the Saudi led blockade of Yemen which predates the JCPOA by nearly four months.
As I wrote at the time:
Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, has given an extraordinary 'press conference,' even by her habitually outrageous standards.
First all, it was hardly a 'press conference' as Haley did not answer any of the questions posed to her. Instead, she merely assured journalist that she has evidence to back her up position, although it is not clear what this evidence might look like.
Haley’s position is that since the outbreak of the current crisis in Yemen, beginning in March of 2015, Iran has been supplying Yemen’s Ansar Allah Movement, more commonly known as the Houthis, with the missiles they have sporadically used to target Saudi Arabia and allegedly the UAE.
Sunday December 17, 2017
The State Department recently announced it was committing $700,000 to what might be called Project Overreach – an American government initiative to “help” the Hungarians get the “right” news.
Department mandarins, it seems, have determined that Hungarians need access to “objective media” about what is happening in and to their country. As Ronald Reagan once said, “there you go again.” My view: It’s a really bad idea, an egregious misuse of U.S. taxpayer dollars, and also, understandably, deeply offensive to Hungarians.
Why? For starters, Hungary is both a good NATO ally and a robust democracy with free and healthy debates about policy. Hungarians are hardly shy about discussing their country’s future across all kinds of existing media channels. Is it the place of the U.S. government to intervene in the domestic affairs – the domestic politics – of another sovereign state? Today, as yet unproven allegations of that kind of aggressive diplomacy on the part of Russia have certain American elites in hysterics. Why, then, should we not expect the people of Hungary to be annoyed?
Saturday December 16, 2017
Sometimes things can be made more complicated than they really are. And such is the case with the story that the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee so as to help Trump become president.
In July 2016 Wikileaks released a number of documents showing that the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president had been rigged. A month earlier the DNC had announced it had been "hacked" and the cybersecurity company it hired announced that the Russians had done it – one of the reasons they gave was that the hackers had helpfully left the name of the Polish founder of the Soviet security forces as a clue.
Since then, this story has been broadly accepted and it has spun on and on for eighteen months. But it doesn't really make any sense.
Let us pretend that Moscow wanted Trump to win. Let us further pretend that Moscow thought that there was a chance that he could win despite the fact that almost all news outlets, pollsters and pundits were completely confident that he could not. And let us pretend that Moscow thought that, with its thumb on the scale, Trump could make it. And, the fourth if, let us pretend that Moscow decided to put its thumb on the scale.
Friday December 15, 2017
Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with "breaking" and "exclusive" stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed's story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing "a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist group."
The original study that Buzzfeed and other media are referencing comes from a UK-based independent weapons research organization called Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which has had a team of weapons and munitions experts on the ground in the Middle East for years examining arms and equipment recovered from ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Using serial numbers, crate shipping markings, and all available forensics data, the CAR experts began finding that as early as 2013 to 2014 much of the Islamic State's advanced weapons systems as well as small arms were clearly sourced to the United States and the West.
“Supplies of materiel into the Syrian conflict from foreign parties - notably the United States and Saudi Arabia - have indirectly allowed IS to obtain substantial quantities of anti-armor ammunition,” states the CAR report. “These weapons include anti-tank guided weapons and several varieties of rocket with tandem warheads, which are designed to defeat modern reactive armor.”
The study further reveals that in one notable instance, a weapons shipment of advanced missile systems switched hands from US intelligence to "moderate" Syrian groups to ISIS in only a two month time period. Though the report is now evoking shock and confusion among pundits, the same weapons research group has actually published similar findings and conclusions going years back into the Syrian conflict.
Friday December 15, 2017
The disclosure of fiercely anti-Trump text messages between two romantically involved senior FBI officials who played key roles in the early Russia-gate inquiry has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling “scandal” into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.
As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American “deep state” exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.
In one Aug. 6, 2016 text exchange, Page told Strzok: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” At the end of that text, she sent Strzok a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, which concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”
Thursday December 14, 2017
Are you worried about war? We are. Iran, North Korea, Russia. Every day we feel we might wake up to hear that the missiles have been launched. Ron Paul created his Institute for Peace and Prosperity in 2013 to be an uncompromising voice opposing war and war propaganda.
Thursday December 14, 2017
On Monday, President Trump is expected to release the new National Security Strategy for the United States. Will it rein in some of the global adventurism of the Bush and Obama presidencies? Will it correct the gaping disconnect between what the White House says about places like North Korea and what the Secretary of State says? Will the neocons successfully parlay the document into a road-map for more wars? Today's Liberty Report is joined by veteran foreign affairs analyst and former US diplomat Jim Jatras to discuss our hopes and fears for this important document...
Thursday December 14, 2017
Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.
But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges.
Indeed, deep state operating in a democracy or republic is far more dangerous that the secret police in a dictatorship. That is because in a system where the forces of the state are all-powerful, nearly everyone expects that what they read and what the government says is all a lie. In a democratic system there is what intelligence officers would refer to as plausible denial, which means that even when the government is behaving very badly much of the public will believe that it is acting honorably because they want to trust that the system works. And when the deep state includes management of the media, many citizens will likewise believe what they are reading or hearing is honest reporting, even when it is not.
Wednesday December 13, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told an audience at the Atlantic Council this week that the US is ready for direct talks with North Korea without preconditions. This seems to be a major shift for the Trump Administration, however the US president's spokesperson insisted US policy has not changed. What's going on here? We have a few theories...