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America the Punitive

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There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.
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A Milestone in Afghanistan

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Sometime late next year, possibly as early as September, news crews will gather in Afghanistan for a unique event: To interview an American serviceman or woman who was not born when the war they are fighting began. He or she will not remember 9/11, and will have grown up with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as background noise. No doubt also a senior commander will be on hand to pronounce that the war against the Taliban is making progress, the same pronouncements the young recruit will have seen on TV all his or her life.

It will be a stark reminder that America has been at war for 225 of the 242 years of its existence: A handful of those conflicts -- the defeat of Hitler and Japan, for example  --  go down as "good wars." But most go down as operations that cost dearly in blood and treasure for little appreciable result.

In 1961, ​Dwight D. Eisenhower, the only American to make it to the highest offices in both politics and the military, warned, on leaving the presidency more than half a century ago, of the power of the  “military industrial complex”, and how war can become an end in itself.
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Special Report: Senator Rand Paul on His Recent Trip To Russia

Ron Paul Liberty Report host Ron Paul is joined by his son, Sen. Ron Paul (R-KY), to discuss the Senator's recent trip to Russia. What was discussed? Where is this new dialogue going? Will Sen. Paul's efforts pay off and result in better relations? Or will the neocons, Democrats, and deep state continue to collude to invent a new Cold War? Join today's Liberty Report...
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Russia Hysteria Undercuts Our Values, Impedes Relations

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The mainstream media and out-of-touch politicians and bureaucrats want us to believe that the Cold War never ended, it’s a crime to talk with a Russian, and we should all be fearful of any Russians here in the U.S. Apparently our $21 trillion national debt, lack of border security, and the threat of radical Islamic terrorism pale in comparison to the grave threat posed by Russia.
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Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan

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There’s more than meets the eye to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearances that ex-CIA Director John Brennan enjoyed as a courtesy customarily afforded former directors.  The President’s move is the second major sign that Brennan is about to be hoist on his own petard. It is one embroidered with rhetoric charging Trump with treason and, far more important, with documents now in the hands of congressional investigators showing Brennan’s ringleader role in the so-far unsuccessful attempts to derail Trump both before and after the 2016 election.

Brennan will fight hard to avoid being put on trial but will need united support from from his Deep State co-conspirators — a dubious proposition.  One of Brennan’s major concerns at this point has to be whether the “honor-among-thieves” ethos will prevail, or whether some or all of his former partners in crime will latch onto the opportunity to “confess” to investigators: “Brennan made me do it.”

Well before Monday night, when Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani let a small bomb drop on Brennan, there was strong evidence that Brennan had been quarterbacking illegal operations against Trump.  Giuliani added fuel to the fire when he told Sean Hannity of Fox news...
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Trump Would be Stupid to Talk to Mueller

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The US mainstream press is obviously becoming increasingly anxious about Special Counsel (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller’s efforts to bring an early end to Donald Trump’s presidency. After all, it has now been 15 months (and millions of taxpayer dollars) since Mueller received his special appointment, and he still has not charged Trump with any wrongdoing whatsoever.

What Mueller has done is secure indictments against a few Russians who, according to Wikipedia, supposedly attempted “to trick Americans into consuming Russian propaganda that targeted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and later President-elect Donald Trump.”

Big deal.  I can’t help wonder which Americans ended up being tricked by that dangerous, mind-altering Russian propaganda. Maybe they ought to sue their public schools for educational malpractice.

Currently, Mueller is spending his time and US taxpayer money going after former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort. The charges? Income-tax violations and bank fraud.
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Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture

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Newly released official documents obtained by the National Security Archive showing that CIA Director Gina Haspel directly supervised waterboarding at the first CIA “Black Site” simply confirm what Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) already knew as he orchestrated the charade that was Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  Burr allowed her to “classify” her own direct role in waterboarding and other torture techniques so that it could be kept from the public and secure her confirmation—-further proof that this Senate oversight committee has instead become an overlook committee.
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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.
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Why Does Facebook Use NATO To Help Censor Users?

Facebook is using a NATO think tank, the Atlantic Council, which is also funded by the US government and foreign governments, to help it determine which posts are authentic and which are fake. The Atlantic Council is hardly an unbiased judge, however. It is extremely hawkish and has even encouraged US military strikes against Russian assets! Why is a US government funded entity involved in limiting speech? More in today's Liberty Report...
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Trump vs. His Own Administration?

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Are President Trump’s senior cabinet members working against him? It’s hard not to conclude that many of the more hawkish neocons that Trump has (mistakenly, in my view) appointed to top jobs are actively working to undermine the president’s stated agenda. Especially when it seems Trump is trying to seek dialogue with countries the neocons see as adversaries needing to be regime-changed.
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