http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:03:29 GMT Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:03:29 GMT Review: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership is Mostly About Making Jim Comey Rich Peter Van Buren http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/review-a-higher-loyalty-truth-lies-and-leadership-is-mostly-about-making-jim-comey-rich/

Despite the lofty title, in A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership James Comey comes across in turns petty, smug, sanctimonious, bitter, and most of all, pandering.

Comey feeds the rubes exactly what they paid the carnival sideshow barker in front at Barnes and Noble to hear: the pee tape, the jokes about small hands, the comparisons of Trump to a mob boss, and enough Obama-worship to fill a week’s worth of Maddow.

Where Comey could have shined — clarifying historical events from the Bush and Obama eras, shedding real light on the FBI’s interplay with the Clinton campaign, verifying or denouncing parts of the Russiagate narrative — he stops purposefully short. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership is a quick grab at the money, something that in the old days would have been on pay-per-view cable or tucked away inside a second-tier men’s magazine.

Comey tells us Trump is obsessed with the pee tape, desperate for the FBI to investigate-to-exonerate. “I’m a germaphobe,” Comey quotes Trump, emphasizing the president claimed he only used the Russian hotel room to change clothes. The then-Director of the FBI was apparently non-committal to his boss, but in his book safely removed by a year and the publishing process Comey writes “I decided not to tell him the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants. In fact, though I didn’t know for sure, I imagined the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow was large enough for a germaphobe to be at a safe distance from the activity.”

Classy, and it sets the tone for the two men’s encounters over loyalty pledges, Mike Flynn, and all things Russia. Trump says something neatly packaged and impeachment-worthy, conveniently only in a conversation he and Comey are privy to. Comey, rather than seek clarification, always assumes the worst, keeps his thoughts to himself, but remembers to document every word in writing. Everything about James Comey is presented so that you get the message that everything he is — straight-arrow bureaucrat, warrior-poet of the people, apostle of law and order, defender of the Constitution — is what Trump isn’t. It’s my word against his, you know who you believe, might as well be the title of the book.

You were expecting insight? Trump never laughs, Comey writes, a clear tell to a soul-seer POTUS harbors “deep insecurity, an inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others.” Comey describes Trump as shorter than he expected with a “too long” tie. The eyes, by the way, are “expressionless.” Comey says the president’s hands were “smaller than mine.” Jim, we get it — Trump is short, wears his ties long to compensate, has tiny hands — brother, just represent: I’m a bigger man than the president!

The Clintons are always in the background. Comey teases there is classified but unverified info on Loretta Lynch that “casts serious doubt on the Attorney General’s independence in connection with the Clinton investigation” but unlike in the case of Trump, where classification and proprietary have the value of a paper bag in the rain, Comey reveals no details.

Elsewhere, Comey creates his own standard, well outside the law, for why the investigation into Clinton’s exposure of classified material on her personal unclassified server did not lead to prosecution: she gosh golly just didn’t intend to do anything criminally wrong, he says, taking the term “willful” in the actual law and twisting it to mean “evil intent.” Comey says prosecution would have required a specific smoking gun message from someone telling Clinton sending classified material via unclassified channels was wrong. He has nothing to say about whether that message might have been in the 30,000 emails Clinton deleted, only shrugging his shoulders to say there was nothing to justify prosecution as far as anyone looked. Why, he adds, they even asked Hillary herself.

And as long as he’s making up the law, those memos Comey wrote of conversations between two government employees, on Federal property, regarding national security-related official government business? He “regards” them as personal property, so their contents didn’t have to be classified and thus could not by definition be leaked. He did not, however, include them in his book and they remain hidden from the public.

Comey writes he felt confident reopening the Clinton email probe days before the election because he ­assumed Clinton would win, and if the new investigation was revealed after her victory it might make her seem “illegitimate.” He says the same thing about keeping Russian meddling quiet, certain it wouldn’t matter when Hillary became his boss a few months later. The irony of Comey setting out to legitimize the expected Clinton presidency ended up hurting her aside, what is disturbing is the blatant admission a partisan calculus was part of the decision making in any way at all.

It’s a heck of a thing to admit in writing, and shows how empty Comey’s constant claims to integrity lie. Should any serious prosecution emerge from the mess of the Trump presidency, Comey’s credibility as a witness is tainted, and his value to the American people he claims to serve thus diluted. Comey will see his testimony whittled down by defense lawyers even now cross-indexing statements in the book with the public record. And who knows what Seth and Trevor and Rachel will pull out of him?

Most people tangled up in Washington beheadings get around these problems by waiting until after the dust has settled to write their books. That was the case for the Watergate gang, Oliver North, and Monica Lewinsky. The problem with Comey waiting is that there’s very little new here. If your impeachment fantasy includes the pee tape, or if you believe it is made-up, Comey has nothing to enlighten you either way.

Instead, this is like reading a 13-year-old’s diary about why she hates boys, or a bunch of angry Tweets dragged out over 304 pages. Comey doesn’t appear to have any political ambitions, and he doesn’t seem to be using the book to audition for a talk show job. It’s not even good “score settling” in that it’s just mostly the same stuff you’ve heard before.

And that’s all a shame, because there is a better book Comey could have written. Comey was witness to the legal wranglings inside the Bush administration over NSA’s illegal domestic spying on Americans, and was in the hospital room when Bush White House officials tried to bully ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft into reauthorizing the Stellar Wind surveillance program. Comey was there for the debates over torture, and under Obama, the use of the Espionage Act to punish journalists and whistleblowers. None of that was morally repugnant to him at a Trump-like level, and he never resigned in protest to protect his honor. Why, Jim?

But instead of insight into all that we get a quick overview that adds little to the known facts. Comey’s narratives are designed only to show leaders in each instance acted honorably enough for Comey’s taste, as opposed to Trump. Comey’s visceral hatred of Trump as a liar and a boor prevents Comey from writing an honorable memoir of his decades inside government, and instead drives him to present a version of events where history is only of value when it can be slaved to making Trump look bad in comparison. It’s a thin shell for anyone who knows more about these events than Colbert or Meyers spoon out.

There’s a reason why circus sideshows got out of town after a few days, before the rubes figured out the “Alien from Mars” was just a rabbit with some fake teeth glued on. It’s pretty clear Comey’s higher loyalty lies only to making a quick buck for himself with a near-substance free book, before anyone realizes it’s all a fraud.

Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/review-a-higher-loyalty-truth-lies-and-leadership-is-mostly-about-making-jim-comey-rich/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/review-a-higher-loyalty-truth-lies-and-leadership-is-mostly-about-making-jim-comey-rich/ Wed, 25 Apr 2018 19:03:29 GMT
OPCW Investigators Reportedly Found 'No Evidence' Of Chemical Weapons At Syrian Facilities Bombed By US Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/opcw-investigators-reportedly-found-no-evidence-of-chemical-weapons-at-syrian-facilities-bombed-by-us/

While it will likely take the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons weeks or even months to issue their final report on the alleged gas attack in Douma (an attack for which journalists and other independent parties have failed to find any evidence), the organization's investigators have apparently spoken with Russian military officials after visiting the site of the Barzeh research center in Damascus - one of the three facilities targeted by the strikes.

At the time we noted Paul Craig Roberts' 'awkward question' to Washington's warmongers:
If this were true, would not a lethal cloud have been released that would have taken the lives of far more people than claimed in the alleged Syrian chemical attack on Douma?

Would not the US missile attack be identical to a chemical weapons attack and thus place the US and its vassals in the same category as Washington is attempting to place Assad and Putin?
And now, according to Sputnik, the investigators, who spoke with Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, revealed that they had found no evidence of chemical weapons in the remains of research facilities that were supposedly integral to the Syrian Army's chemical weapons program. Of course, this shouldn't come as a surprise: After all, if the US, France and the UK really did bomb a building filled with chemical weapons, there would've been thousands - possibly tens of thousands - of bodies to show for it.
'Immediately after the attacks, many people who worked at these destroyed facilities and just bystanders without any protective equipment visited them. None of them got poisoned with toxic agents,' Rudskoy said.
Rudskoy said there was similarly scant evidence of chemical weapons exposure at the Han Shinshar facility, located in the province of Homs. Russia registered only seven missiles had struck the facility, while the Pentagon claimed that it had successfully fired 22 missiles. Russia has previously claimed that only 71 of 103 missiles launched by the coalition made it past Syria's antiquated air defenses. 
'According to the statements of the Pentagon’s representatives, 22 missiles hit the above-ground facilities. We registered no more than seven hits, which is shown in the space image,' he told a briefing.
Furthermore, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria said its representatives had questioned local doctors and investigated the site of the attacks. The doctors confirmed that they hadn't recently treated any patients with signs of exposure to chemical agents, and investigators searching the area found nothing suspicious. Moscow had said the April 7 gas attack that purportedly took place in Douma, part of the Eastern Ghouta region that was recently reclaimed following a military victory over the last rebel forces in the area, was in fact staged by the White Helmets, an NGO that supports US interests in Syria under the guise of altruism. While the US has refused to share the supposedly "slam dunk" evidence that the Syrian government was behind the attack, US and French authorities have cited videos posted to YouTube by the White Helmets as sufficient proof of an attack.

But as Ron Paul argued in a recent column, even if the Syrian army did carry out the gas attack in Douma, evidence of this still wouldn't justify the US, UK and France bombing targets inside a foreign country.

The Syrian civil war has been a bloody one. Hundreds of thousands of combatants (and tens of thousands of civilians) have been blown up by airstrikes, ripped to pieces by shrapnel or mutilated and murdered in some other grotesque fashion. The problem is, the US intervention wasn't motivated by humanitarian instincts - rather, Washington's outrage is very selective and politically motivated.

We are not the policemen of the world, Paul added. Bad leaders do terrible things all the time - and this is true even in the US. The US has neither the moral authority - or the money - to carry out overseas bombings. Especially now that it has become clear the Trump administration didn't have sound evidence of an attack, the hasty decision to resort to force was a foolish one.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/opcw-investigators-reportedly-found-no-evidence-of-chemical-weapons-at-syrian-facilities-bombed-by-us/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/opcw-investigators-reportedly-found-no-evidence-of-chemical-weapons-at-syrian-facilities-bombed-by-us/ Wed, 25 Apr 2018 18:17:03 GMT
Macron Changes Trump's Tune: 'We're Staying In Syria' Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/macron-changes-trumps-tune-were-staying-in-syria/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/macron-changes-trumps-tune-were-staying-in-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/macron-changes-trumps-tune-were-staying-in-syria/ Wed, 25 Apr 2018 17:56:42 GMT
How Neocons Destroyed a Chance for Peace with Iran After 9/11 Tho Bishop http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/how-neocons-destroyed-a-chance-for-peace-with-iran-after-911/

While most of the headlines the Trump administration has made on foreign policy have tended to focus on Syria and North Korea, the President’s approach to Iran may end up being the most important. The appointment of infamous hawk John Bolton, whose career goal has been to spark regime change in Tehran, is understandably seen as an indicator that Trump may abandon his campaign rhetoric opposing regime change in the Middle East in the case of the Ayatollah. As does Trump’s blossoming bromance with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recently said the supreme leader of Iran “makes Hitler look good.”

As the decision of whether or not the US should continue to honor the Iran Deal has re-emerged in the news, it’s worth looking back to 2001 to re-evaluate an overlooked moment of US-Iranian relations: the brief period of time where Iran became a military ally to the United States.

When criticizing the foreign policy of the United States in the age of the war on terror, Ron Paul would often discuss the concept of blowback. One of the greatest examples of this was obviously the Iranian Revolution, when secular Iranians joined with Islamic fundamentalists in rising up against the Shah regime after years of intervention by the US on behalf of the Pahlavi dynasty. In the aftermath, the secular liberals of Iran were overwhelmed by the Islamic theocrats led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The result is the Islamic Republic of Iran that exists today.

As a direct revolt to a western-backed regime, revolutionary Iran was inherently hostile to the United States. The Iran hostage crisis helped bring down the presidency of Jimmy Carter and led to America’s support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. It also imposed sanctions again the country, though that didn’t stop members of the US government from selling missiles to Iran during that time. While some attempts were made to de-thaw relations between the two countries during the H.W. Bush Administration, all progress was wiped away when the Clinton Administration ordered a full embargo of Iran in 1995.

Then 9/11 happened.

The Iranian government condemned the attacks, while citizens of the country took to streets with candles to remember the victims. Then the Iran government offered military assistance to the United States in their efforts against Afghanistan and al Qaeda.

In the words of James Dobbins, the Bush administration's chief negotiator on Afghanistan, the Iranian’s were "comprehensively helpful", sharing intel and helping organize regional allies for action against the Taliban — including putting American forces in contact with the Northern Alliance.

For a moment, it looked like 9/11 could have been the catalyst for a new era of relations between the US and Iran.

Then in 2002, David Frum was asked by President George W. Bush to write his State of the Union address. In the eyes of Frum and fellow Neoconservatives in the Bush Administration, Iran’s vital assistance to the US in the “War on Terror” did not excuse their continued hostility to Israel. As such, Iran was bundled together with their rival Iraq and the regime of North Korea as “the Axis of Evil.” The Bush Administration made Iran out to be allies to the same foe the two sides had been working against for the past five months — to the joy of the Saudi Arabia royal family that assisted the 9/11 hijackers.

While this decision was a bad look for the reliability of doing business to the United States, the consequences within Iran itself were significant. The biggest losers in Bush’s speech were anti-cleric moderates within the country. Those three words eliminated all hopes of Iran benefiting from improved economic relations with the US, which would have given them a political advantage within the country.

With outreach to the West now dead, the Iranian government sought to consolidate support from within by stoking anti-US sentiment and appealing to Islamic hardliners within the country. They picked an engineer from a small village in Northern Iran who had risen to the ranks of mayor of Tehran — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Valir Nasr describes in his book, The Rise of Islamic Capitalism, the clerics considered him "the perfect vehicle for stirring up the populist and revolutionary fervor of the lower classes and beating back a rising tide of reformist sentiment.”

Ahmadinejad did what he was expected to do. He was a populist champion for Iranian fundamentalists who despised the West and wanted to see Israel wiped off the map. In response to both his rhetoric and re-commitment to Iran’s nuclear program, the UN imposed new sanctions on the country. The US followed up with attacks on Iran’s banking system.

Interestingly, by the time Ahmadinejad’s presidency came to the end, he had managed to lose the favor of the Ayatollah. Key supporters of Ahmadinejad were arrested, government censors attacked his websites, and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, has been barred from seeking the presidency.

Unfortunately these moves towards moderation have had little impact on the desire of neoconservative policy makers to demand Iranian regime change. Just as they destroyed an opportunity to solidly relations under Bush, John Bolton and his allies seek to prevent peace from happening under Trump. We have already seen the administration escalate sanctions on the country.

As Mises wrote in Omnipotent Government, “Modern war is not a war of royal armies. It is a war of the peoples, a total war.” This is as true in Iran as anywhere else.

While the rhetoric against Iran is usually directed towards the country’s theocratic government, it must be understood that it is the people of the country that have suffered most from the actions taken against them. Beyond the obvious inevitable collateral damage of a US led military operation against Iran, it has been innocent people — those most opposed to Ahmadinejad and Iranian fundamentalism — who have paid the dearest price for America’s long lasting economic war on the country.

If the Trump administration wants to serve the best interest of both America and anti-cleric forces in Iran, he should end US sanctions and re-open trade with the Persian economy.

Or he can act on the desires of John Bolton and the neoconservative doctrine, and continue to destroy Iran at the expense of the US.

Let it be known though that it didn’t have to be this way.

Reprinted with permission from the Mises Institute.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/how-neocons-destroyed-a-chance-for-peace-with-iran-after-911/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/25/how-neocons-destroyed-a-chance-for-peace-with-iran-after-911/ Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:59:51 GMT
Unintended Consequences Of Trump's Syria Attack Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/unintended-consequences-of-trumps-syria-attack/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/unintended-consequences-of-trumps-syria-attack/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/unintended-consequences-of-trumps-syria-attack/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 17:56:44 GMT
Scarier Than John Bolton? Think of Nikki Haley for President! Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/scarier-than-john-bolton-think-of-nikki-haley-for-president/

The musical chairs playing out among the senior officials that make up the President Donald Trump White House team would be amusing to watch but for the genuine damage that it is doing to the United States. The lack of any coherence in policy means that the State Department now has diplomats that do not believe in diplomacy and environment agency heads that do not believe in protecting the environment. It also means that well-funded and disciplined lobbies and pressure groups are having a field day, befuddling ignorant administrators with their “fact sheets” and successfully promoting policies that benefit no one but themselves.

In the Trumpean world of all-the-time-stupid, there is, however, one individual who stands out for her complete inability to perceive anything beyond threats of unrelenting violence combined with adherence to policies that have already proven to be catastrophic. That person is our own Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who surfaced in the news lately after she unilaterally and evidently prematurely announced sanctions on Russia. When the White House suggested that she might have been “confused” she responded that “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” This ignited a firestorm among the Trump haters, lauding Haley as a strong and self-confident woman for standing up to the White House male bullies while also suggesting that the hapless Administration had not bothered to inform one of its senior diplomats of a policy change. It also produced a flurry of Haley for higher office tweets based on what was described as her “brilliant riposte” to the president.

One over-the-top bit of effusion from a former Haley aide even suggested that her “deft rebuttal” emphasizes her qualities, enthusing that “What distinguishes her from the star-struck sycophants in the White House is that she understands the intersection of strong leadership and public service, where great things happen” and placing her on what is being promoted as the short list of future presidential candidates.

For sure, neocon barking dog Bill Kristol has for years been promoting Haley for president, a sign that something is up as he was previously the one who “discovered” Sarah Palin. Indeed, the similarities between the two women are readily observable. Neither is very cerebral or much given to make any attempt to understand an adversary’s point of view; both are reflexively aggressive and dismissive when dealing with foreigners and domestic critics; both are passionately anti-Russian and pro-Israeli. And Kristol is not alone in his advocacy. Haley regularly receives 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.

The greater problem right now is that Nikki Haley is America’s face to the international community, even more than the Secretary of State. She has used her bully pulpit to do just that, i.e. bully, and she is ugly America personified, having apparently decided that something called American Exceptionalism gives her license to say and do whatever she wants at the United Nations. In her mind, the United States can do what it wants globally because it has a God-given right to do so, a viewpoint that doesn’t go down well with many countries that believe that they have a legal and moral right to be left alone and remain exempt from America’s all too frequent military interventions.

Nikki Haley sees things differently, however. During her 15 months at the United Nations she has been instrumental in cutting funding for programs that she disapproves of and has repeatedly threatened military action against countries that disagree with US policies. Most recently, in the wake of the US cruise missile attack against Syria, she announced that the action was potentially only the first step. She declared that Washington was “locked and loaded,” prepared to exercise more lethal military options if Syria and its Russian and Iranian supporters did not cease and desist from the use of chemical weapons. Ironically, the cruise missile attack was carried out even though the White House had no clue as to what had actually happened and it now turns out that the entire story, spread by the terrorist groups in Syria and their mouthpieces, has begun to unravel. Will Nikki Haley apologize? I would suspect that if she doesn’t do confusion she doesn’t do apologies either.

Haley, who had no foreign policy experience of any kind prior to assuming office, relies on a gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts” to help shape her public utterances, which are often not cleared with the State Department, where she is at least nominally employed. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Unfortunately, being a neocon mouthpiece makes her particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. She has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office with only minimal vetting by the Trump Administration, and, as in the recent imbroglio over her “confusion,” it is never quite clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House.

Haley has her own foreign policy. She has declared that Russia “is not, will not be our friend” and has lately described the Russians as having their hands covered with the blood of Syrian children. From the start of her time at the U.N., Haley has made it clear that she is neoconservatism personified and she has done nothing since to change that impression. In December 2017 she warned the U.N. that she was “taking names” and threatened retaliation against any country that was so “disrespectful” as to dare to vote against Washington’s disastrous recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which she also helped to bring about.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley first became identified as an unquestioningsupporter of Israel through her signing of a bill punishing supporters of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Immediately upon taking office at the United Nations she complained that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel” and vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was feted and honored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She was also greeted by rounds of applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March, saying “When I come to AIPAC I am with friends.”

Nikki Haley’s embrace of Israeli points of view is unrelenting and serves no American interest. If she were a recruited agent of influence for the Israeli Mossad she could not be more cooperative than she apparently is voluntarily. In February 2017, she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a diplomatic position at the United Nations because he is a Palestinian. In a congressional hearing she was asked about the decision: “Is it this administration’s position that support for Israel and support for the appointment of a well-qualified individual of Palestinian nationality to an appointment at the U.N. are mutually exclusive?” Haley responded yes, that the administration is “supporting Israel” by blocking every Palestinian.

Haley is particularly highly critical of both Syria and Iran, reflecting the Israeli bias. She has repeatedly said that regime change in Damascus is a Trump administration priority, even when the White House was saying something different. She has elaborated on an Administration warning that it had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime” by tweeting“…further attacks will be blamed on Assad but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.” At one point, Haley warned “We need to see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people.”

At various U.N. meetings, though Haley has repeatedly and uncritically complained of institutional bias towards Israel, she has never addressed the issue that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians might in part be responsible for the criticism leveled against it. Her description of Israel as a “close ally” is hyperbolic and she tends to be oblivious to actual American interests in the region when Israel is involved. She has never challenged the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as well as the recent large expansion of settlements, which are at least nominally opposed by the State Department and White House. Nor has she spoken up about the more recent shooting of three thousand unarmed Gazan demonstrators by Israeli Army sharpshooters, which is a war crime.

Haley’s hardline on Syria reflects the Israeli bias, and her consistent hostility to Russia is a neoconservative position. A White House warning that it had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime led to a Haley elaboration in a tweet that “…further attacks will be blamed on Assad but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.” Earlier, on April 12, 2017 after Russia blocked a draft U.N. resolution intended to condemn the alleged Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, which subsequently turned out to be a false flag,Haley said, “We need to see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people.”

Haley is particularly critical of Iran, which she sees as the instigator of much of the unrest in the Middle East, again reflecting the Israeli and neocon viewpoints. She claimed on April 20, 2017 during her first session as president of the U.N. Security Council, that Iran and Hezbollah had “conducted terrorist acts” for decades within the Middle East, ignoring the more serious terrorism support engaged in by US regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. She stated in June 2017 that the Security Council’s praise of the Iran Nuclear Agreement honored a state that has engaged in “illicit missile launches,” “support for terrorist groups,” and “arms smuggling,” while “stok[ing] regional conflicts and mak[ing] them harder to solve.” All are perspectives that might easily be challenged.

So, Nikki Haley very much comes across as the neoconservatives’ dream ambassador to the United Nations–full of aggression, a staunch supporter of Israel, and assertive of Washington’s preemptive right to set standards for the rest of the world. And there is every reason to believe that she would nurture the same views if she were to become the neocon dream president. Bearing the flag for American Exceptionalism does not necessarily make her very good for the rest of us, who will have to bear the burdens and risks implicit in her imperial hubris, but, as the neoconservatives never feel compelled to admit that they were wrong, one suspects that Haley’s assertion that she does not do confusion is only the beginning if she succeeds in her apparent quest for the highest office in the land. Worse than John Bolton? Absolutely.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/scarier-than-john-bolton-think-of-nikki-haley-for-president/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/24/scarier-than-john-bolton-think-of-nikki-haley-for-president/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:20:52 GMT
Will Trump Tear Up Iran Deal? "No Plan B" Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/will-trump-tear-up-iran-deal-no-plan-b/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/will-trump-tear-up-iran-deal-no-plan-b/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/will-trump-tear-up-iran-deal-no-plan-b/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:02:45 GMT
The Mainstream Media Fueled Military Action in Syria and Reprisals against Russia over the Skripals Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/the-mainstream-media-fueled-military-action-in-syria-and-reprisals-against-russia-over-the-skripals/

The complicity of America’s Fourth Estate in the evolution of the national security warfare state is often mentioned in passing but rarely analyzed in any detail. But a recent article on Lobe Log by Adam Johnson is refreshing in that it does just that, looking at the editorials in 26 leading newspapers relating to the April 13th strike against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons. All of the papers supported the attack in the belief that Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies had done something wrong and had to be punished. Some of the endorsements went well beyond the actual strike itself, urging the White House to do more. The article quotes the Toledo Blade’s assertion that:
Make no mistake, this was a warning to Vladimir Putin as well as Bashar al-Assad. The United States and its two longtime allies redrew the red line that had been obliterated by a failure of nerve by the US and the West generally: There will be cost for your barbarities…. But in the larger sense, the West did what it should have done a long time ago. It stood up for decency and international law. It stood up for those who are defenseless. It stood up for itself, and for simple humanity, and redeemed some self-respect.
Another recent editorial intended to stir up hysteria about perfidious Moscow appeared in theNew York Times on March 12th. It was entitled Vladimir Putin’s Toxic Reach. It said in part:
The attack on the former spy, Sergei Skripal, who worked for British intelligence, and his daughter Yulia, in which a police officer who responded was also poisoned, was no simple hit job. Like the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, another British informant, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 210, the attack on Mr. Skripal was intended to be as horrific, frightening and public as possible. It clearly had the blessing of President Vladimir Putin, who had faced little pushback from Britain in the Litvinenko case. The blame has been made clearer this time and this attack on a NATO ally needs a powerful response both from that organization and, perhaps more important, by the United States.
These two stories and the many others like them have something in common, which is that they were written without any evident “fact checking” and subsequently have proven to be largely incorrect in terms of their assumptions about Russian and Syrian behavior. They also share a belief that the United States and its allies can both establish and enforce standards for the rest of the world. In these cases, the stakes were very high as there was an assumption that it could be appropriate to risk going to war with a powerful nuclear armed government based on incidents that did not in any way impact upon American or British national security.

Regarding Syria, the first wave of “reporting” on the alleged gassing came from sources linked to the terrorist group that was under attack, Jaish el-Islam. This included the so-called White Helmets, who have been outed and exposed as a virtual PR outfit for those one might call the head-choppers. More recently, with government control reestablished over the Douma neighborhood where the reported deaths took place, independent journalists including the redoubtable Robert Fisk, no friend of the al-Assad “regime,” have been entering and discovering that there appears to be no evidence that a gas attack even took place.

Skeptics examining the incident from the beginning noted that the Syrian government had every reason to avoid a provocation in its rollup of the remaining rebel pockets near Damascus while the so-called rebels would have been highly motivated to stage a false flag attack to bring in outside forces in support of their cause. If there was a chemical attack of any kind, it almost surely originated with the terrorists.

Even assuming that the United States was acting in good faith when it attacked Syrian “chemical sites” believing that the al-Assad “regime” had actually used such weapons, one should also assume, given the time frame and lack of definitive intelligence resources, that the decision was based on an assessment that relied on limited information coming from sources hostile to Damascus as well as White House perceptions of persistent bad behavior by the Syrian government.

So a poorly informed Washington clearly went to war without exactly knowing why. As the story continues to unravel, there will, however, be no apologies forthcoming either from the White House or the national media, both of which got it so wrong. The mainstream media never even questioned whether Trump should bomb the Syrian “regime” at all, instead merely debating exactly how much punishment he should inflict.

To their credit, the British public and some former senior officials are beginning to ask questions about Syria through a reluctant media filter and opposition leader in Parliament Jeremy Corbyn has refused to be silenced. Similarly, the story of the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury has also begun to come apart. Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has detailed how the narrative was cooked by “liars” in the government to make it look as if the poisoning had a uniquely Russian fingerprint. Meanwhile U.S. investigative reported Gareth Porter sums up the actual evidence or lack thereof, for Russian involvement, suggesting that the entire affair was “based on politically-motivated speculation rather than actual intelligence.”

Here in the United States the mainstream media, which has supported every war since 9/11, has yet to account for its deliberately slanted reporting that has fueled both military action in Syria and reprisals against Russia over the Skripals. Unfortunately, the resulting actions undertaken by the United States and Britain have not been consequence free. The attack on Syria, given the fact that Damascus in no way threatened either the US or UK, was a war crime under international law. The mass expulsions of Russian officials over the Skripals affair has produced a diplomatic chill not unlike the Cold War, or perhaps even worse, with American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declaring that the White House is “locked and loaded” if Syria should again step out of line. One might ask Haley what is to be done when Washington steps out of line? It would be interesting to hear her answer.

Reprinted with permission from American Herald Tribune.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/the-mainstream-media-fueled-military-action-in-syria-and-reprisals-against-russia-over-the-skripals/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/the-mainstream-media-fueled-military-action-in-syria-and-reprisals-against-russia-over-the-skripals/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:46:00 GMT
Lies and Deception in the Failed US Strike on Syria Federico Pieraccini http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/lies-and-deception-in-the-failed-us-strike-on-syria/

At 4am on April 14, the United States, France and the United Kingdom executed a strike on Syria. The Syrian Free Press reported:
US Navy warships in the Red Sea and Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 and F-16 aircraft rained dozens of ship- and air-launched cruise missiles down on the Syrian capital of Damascus, an airbase outside the city, a so-called chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and an equipment-storage facility and command post, also near Homs. B1-Bs are typically armed with JASSM cruise missiles, which have a 450 kg warhead and a range of 370 kms. US Navy warships launched Tomahawks, which have 450 kg warheads and an operational range of between 1,300 and 2,500 kms. The British Royal Air Force's contingent for the assault consisted of four Tornado GR4 ground-attack aircraft armed with the Storm Shadow long-range air-to-ground missile, which the UK's Defense Ministry said targeted 'chemical weapons sites' in Homs. These weapons have a range of 400 kms. Finally, France sent its Aquitaine frigate, armed with SCALP naval land-attack cruise missiles (SCALP is the French military's name for the Storm Shadow), as well as several Dassault Rafale fighters, also typically armed with SCALP or Apache cruise missiles. According to the Russian defense ministry, the B-1Bs also fired GBU-38 guided air bombs. Undoubtedly weary of the prospect of having their aircraft shot down after Israel lost one of its F-16s over Syria in February, the Western powers presumably launched their weapons from well outside the range of Syrian air defenses, with all the targets located just 70-90 kms from the Mediterranean Sea, and having to fly through Lebanon first.
Recapping the information on the strike, the US and its allies used the following assets:

● 2 destroyers (USS Laboon, USS Higgins)

● 1 US cruiser (USS Monterey)

● 1 French frigate (Georges Leygues)

● 5 Rafale jets

● 4 Mirage 2000-5F

● 4 British Tornado fighter-bombers

● Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner

● 2 US B-1B bombers

Their ordnance brought to bear consisted of the following:

● The cruiser Monterey launched 30 Tomahawk missiles

● The destroyer Higgins 23 Tomahawks

● The destroyer Laboon 7 Tomahawks

● The submarine John Warner 6 Tomahawks

● 2 B-1 bombers 21 JASSM missiles

● 4 British Tornado GR4 fighter bombers 16 Storm-shadow missiles.

● The French Languedoc fired 3 MdCN land-attack missiles.

The US Pentagon reports the strike group targeted:

- 76 missiles at the Barzah research center in Damascus:

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(Source)

- 22 missiles at an undefined "chemical" structure:

undefined

(Source)

- 7 missiles against an undefined "chemical bunker":

undefined

 (Source)

The Syrian anti-aircraft forces responded, firing a total of 112 air-defence missiles:

● the Pantsyr system fired 25 missiles and hit 24 targets;

● the Buk system fired 29 missiles and hit 24 targets;

● the Osa system fired 11 and hit 5 targets;

● the S-125 system fired 13 missiles and hit 5 targets;

● the Strela-10 system fired 5 missiles and hit 3 targets;

● the Kvadrat system fired 21 and hit 11 targets;

● the S-200 system fired 8 and hit no targets.

undefined

(Source)

The Russians have stated that the target of the raids and the effectiveness of the missiles have resulted in a big fiasco for the Americans:

● 4 missiles were launched targeting the area of the Damascus International Airport; these 4 missiles were intercepted.

● 12 missiles were launched targeting the Al-Dumayr Military Airport; these 12 missiles were intercepted.

● 18 missiles were launched  targeting the Bley Military Airport; these 18 missiles were intercepted.

● 12 missiles were launched targeting the Shayarat Military Airport; these 12 missiles were intercepted.

● 9-15 missiles were launched  targeting the Mezzeh Military Airport; 5 of them were intercepted.

● 16 missiles were launched targeting the Homs Military Airport; 13 of which were intercepted.

● 30 missiles were launched targeting targets in the areas of Barzah and Jaramani; 7 of which were intercepted.

The effectiveness of the attack is called into question, especially in light of the prompt reaction of the civilian population that took to the streets in support of Bashar al Assad and the Syrian government only a few hours after the US-led attack.

What emerges immediately from the Syrian/Russian and American narratives are contrasting assessments of the outcome of the attack.

We can certainly try to dispute some statements. The Americans repeated that at least two chemical-weapons laboratories together with a chemical-weapons storage center were affected. As evidenced by the images shot by PressTV a few hours after the attack, the structure is destroyed but there are no chemical contaminations. To confirm this, the television operators were able to perform interviews and live footage a few meters from the site of the strike without experiencing any physical effects, which would have been impossible were the American version of events true, given that the release of chemical agents would have made the whole area inaccessible.

Further confirmation comes from Ammar Waqqaf interviewed on The Heat on CGTV, claiming that his relatives were about 500 meters from one of the alleged chemical-weapons research centers attacked by the Americans. Ammar says that even in this case, no chemical agent appears to have been released, thus disproving Washington's claims.

Another important consideration concerns the targets. For Washington, the targets were limited to research laboratories (Barzah and Jaramani) and storage centers. But Moscow revealed that the objectives also included military bases as well as the civilian Damascus International Airport, namely: Al-Dumayr Military Airport, Bley Military Airport, Shayarat Military Airport, Mezzeh Military Airport, Homs Military Airport. These were mostly unsuccessful attacks.

In light of the foregoing, we can assume that the operational goal of the Americans was twofold. On the one hand, it was aimed at the media, to show a response to the (false) accusations of a chemical attack in Douma (Robert Frisk has just dismantled the propaganda and RT reminds us of the various false flags perpetrated by the US in the past to start wars); on the other, it was used by the military to actually permanently damage the Syrian Air Force, as suggested by the warmongering neocon Lindsey Graham. The failure of this latter objective could be seen in the following hours when the Syrian planes resumed operational tasks.

What does all this information tell us? First of all, the American goal was not to hit the non-existent chemical weapons or their production sites. The aim was to reduce as much as possible Syrian Air Force assets at different military airports. The mission was a failure, as reported by the Russian military envoy in Syria thanks to the air-defense measures of the Syrian forces as well as probably a high electronic-warfare (EW) contribution from the Russian forces present in the country. Very little has been leaked out in technical terms from the Russian Federation, which officially states that it did not contribute towards defending against the attack. It is probable that Russia played a decisive role in terms of EW, with its little-known but highly effective systems as demonstrated in previous attacks in 2017.

Moscow has no interest in promoting its cutting-edge EW systems, and often does not confirm the reports issued by more or less government agencies, as in the case of the USS Donald Cook in 2014. Yet Russia Beyond explains EW as probably being fundamental in foiling the American attack:
Before the electronic jamming system kicks in, the aircraft scans the radio signals in its zone of ​​activity. After detecting the traffic frequencies of the enemy's equipment, the operator on board the aircraft enables the jamming system in the required bandwidth," a defense industry source told Russia Beyond. In addition to onboard systems, there are ground-based Krasnukha-4 EW complexes stationed around the Khemeimim airbase, Russia’s key stronghold in the Middle East. Their purpose is to suppress enemy "eavesdropping” and weapons guidance systems. The Krasnukha-4 blinds enemy radar systems to targets at a distance of 250 km.
The general public is yet to understand that the American attack was a complete fiasco, much to the irritation of Lindsey Graham, thereby confirming Damascus’s narrative, which presented Syria’s response as decisive and effective.

The logic of the matter must also be considered. We know that the US and her allies launched 105 missiles aimed at various targets, including some military bases, but none of them hit the targets indicated, except for two buildings already emptied previously and a non-existent chemical-weapons depot. The Pentagon amplified the military report with the lie that only two research centers and a chemical-weapons depot were intentionally bombed with something like 105 missiles; this in order to account for the number of missiles launched and to drown out other assessments that contradict the preferred narrative. But it is ridiculous to believe that the US used 76 missiles to hit three buildings. A much more plausible explanation is that there were many more targets but only three of them were hit, this measly success carrying zero tactical or strategic importance.

We should ask ourselves what the real goal of Washington was. First, let us split the story into two parts. On the one hand we have a PR exercise, and on the other an intended military strategy. In the first case, Washington was able to pursue its self-assigned role as “protector of the weak”, like those victims of the alleged Douma chemical attack. The intended optics were those of a humanitarian intervention, in line with the West’s self-assigned role of regent of the post-World War II neoliberal world order. In reality, we know very well that US hegemony is based on millions of deaths in dozens of wars scattered around the globe. According to the fictitious narrative of the media, it all boils down to good-guys-versus-bad-guys, and Assad is the bad guy while the US is the good guy punishing the regime for the use of chemical weapons.

The success of PR exercise depends very little on the military outcome and much more on the story as told by the media. It is based solely on the affirmation of the role taken up by the US and her allies, that of being in the right and driven only by the noblest interests. But such a series of unreasonable lies has only served to drag the world into chaos, diminished the role of the mainstream media, and destroyed the credibility of practically the whole Western political class.

From a military point of view, however, the goals, intent and results show a far more disturbing result for Washington and her allies. Soviet-era weapons that were updated by Moscow and integrated into the Russian air defense infrastructure network severely degraded the effectiveness of the American attack. Washington wanted to ground the entire Syrian air force, hitting air bases with precision, but failed in this objective. It remains to be seen whether this attack was a prelude to something bigger, with the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group currently heading towards Syrian territorial waters. Following the logic of deconfliction with Russia, it seems unlikely that a more intense attack will occur, rumors even circulating that Mattis dissuaded Trump from targeting Russian and Iranian targets, being well aware of the risks in a Russian response.

Let us focus for a moment on the risks in this kind of scenario. We are told that it would have brought about World War Three. This is probably true. But the consequences could also entail something much worse for Washington than for the rest of the world. The rhetoric that an American attack on Russian forces in Syria would trigger a direct war between the two superpowers is certainly true, but perhaps it is wrong in its interpretation. The danger seems to lie less in the possibility of a nuclear apocalypse and more in exposing the US’s inability to go toe to toe with a peer competitor.

While we cannot (and hope not to) test this hypothesis, we can certainly join the dots. If Soviet-era systems, with a slight Russian modernization, can nullify an American attack, what could the Russian forces do themselves? They could probably even block an attack of the scale visited on Baghdad, where several hundred missiles were directed towards civilian and military targets. It would be highly unlikely in such a scenario for Washington to peddle the false propaganda of a successful attack with little in terms of bomb-damage assessment commensurate with the number of missiles launched.

Already in the April 14 attack, the explanation that 76 cruise missiles were directed against three buildings is ridiculous but is nevertheless sustained thanks to the lies of the mainstream media and the paucity of available information. However, when thinking of 500 Tomahawks launched with limited damage to the Syrian infrastructure, even that would be impossible to sell to a very ignorant and deceived public. It would be the definitive proof of the decline in American military effectiveness and the potency of Russian air-defense systems. Just like during Putin’s presentation of new weapons some months back, when the Empire feels its core (military power) is threatened, it simply dismisses such reports as false, in the process becoming a victim of its own propaganda.

Yet one would only need to listen to the words of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Michael Griffin, in a conference at the Hudson Institute where he explained how Moscow and Beijing capabilities are far more advanced in hypersonic and supersonic missile defense and attack capabilities. He openly explained that Washington takes about 16 years to implement a paper-to-service idea, while its rivals in a few years have shown that they can move from concept to practical development, gaining a huge advantage over rivals like Washington.

The problem is inherent for the United States in its need to keep alive a war machine based on inflated military spending that creates enormous pockets of corruption and inefficiency. Just look at the F-35 project and its constant problems. Although Moscow's spending is less than twelve times that of the United States, it has succeeded in developing systems like hypersonic missiles that are still in the testing phase in the United States, or systems like the S-500, which the US does not possess.

The S-300, S-400, P-800 anti-ship missiles and the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missiles, in addition to EW, pose a fundamental problem for Washington in dealing with attacks against a peer competitor. The military in Washington are probably well aware of the risks of revealing the US to be a paper tiger, so they prefer to avoid any direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, more for the purposes of maintaining military prestige than out of a desire to avoid risking World War Three. If Russian forces ever were targeted by the US, in all probability Moscow would simply disable the electronics of the US ship rather than sinking it, leaving it to float in the Mediterranean uncontrolled for days.

The last fig leaf hiding the US military’s inadequacy rests in Hollywood propaganda that presents the US military as practically invincible. Accordingly, some sites have spread stories that Russia had been forewarned of the attack and that the whole bombing event was the same sort of farce as a year ago. In the first place, it is important to clarify that Moscow had not been given advanced warning of the targets, and the reason for this is simple: the attack was real and, as explained above, did not succeed precisely because of Moscow and Damuscus’s effective parries and blocks.

In reality, Washington has failed in its military strategy, and the media have turned to the usual propaganda of chemical weapons and the need to enforce justice in the world and proclaim a non-existent success. In the meantime, Moscow fine-tunes its weapons and prepares to deliver the S-300 to the Syrian state and its allies (Lebanon?), effectively limiting Washington's ability to attack in the Middle East. This is a fitting conclusion for a story that has only damaged the status of the United States and her allies in the Middle East, bringing Syria closer to a final victory.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/lies-and-deception-in-the-failed-us-strike-on-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/lies-and-deception-in-the-failed-us-strike-on-syria/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:10:51 GMT
What Will Weapons Inspectors Find in Syria…And Does it Matter? Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/what-will-weapons-inspectors-find-in-syria-and-does-it-matter/

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have finally arrived in Douma, Syria, to assess whether a gas attack took place earlier this month. It has taken a week for the inspectors to begin their work, as charges were thrown back and forth about who was causing the delay.

Proponents of the US and UK position that Assad used gas in Douma have argued that the Syrian and Russian governments are preventing the OPCW inspectors from doing their work. That, they claim, is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that Assad and Putin have something to hide. But it seems strange that if Syria and Russia wanted to prevent an OPCW inspection of the alleged sites they would have been the ones to request the inspection in the first place.

The dispute was solved just days ago, as the OPCW Director-General released a statement explaining that the delay was due to UN security office concerns for the safety of the inspectors.

We are told that even after the OPCW inspectors collect samples from the alleged attack sites, it will take weeks to determine whether there was any gas or other chemicals released. That means there is very little chance President Trump had “slam dunk” evidence that Assad used gas in Douma earlier this month when he decided to launch a military attack on Syria. To date, the US has presented no evidence of who was responsible or even whether an attack took place at all. Even right up to the US missile strike, Defense Secretary Mattis said he was still looking for evidence.

In a Tweet just days ago, Rep. Thomas Massie expressed frustration that in a briefing to Congress last week the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense “provided zero real evidence” that Assad carried out the attack. Either they have it and won’t share it with Congress, he wrote, or they have nothing. Either way, he added, it’s not good.

We should share Rep. Massie's concerns.

US and French authorities have suggested that videos shared on the Internet by the US-funded White Helmets organization were sufficient proof of the attack. If social media postings are these days considered definitive intelligence, why are we still spending $100 billion a year on our massive intelligence community? Maybe it would be cheaper to just hire a few teenagers to scour YouTube?

Even if Assad had gassed his people earlier this month there still would have been no legal justification for the US to fire 100 or so missiles into the country. Of course such a deed would deserve condemnation from all civilized people, but Washington’s outrage is very selective and often politically motivated. Where is the outrage over Saudi Arabia’s horrific three-year war against Yemen? Those horrors are ignored because Saudi Arabia is considered an ally and thus above reproach.

We are not the policemen of the world. Bad leaders do bad things to their people all the time. That’s true even in the US, where our own government steadily chips away at our Constitution by setting up a surveillance state.

We have neither the money nor the authority to launch bombs when we suspect someone has done something wrong overseas. A hasty decision to use force is foolish and dangerous. As Western journalists reporting from Douma are raising big questions about the official US story of the so-called gas attack, Trump’s inclination to shoot first and ask questions later may prove to be his downfall.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/what-will-weapons-inspectors-find-in-syria-and-does-it-matter/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/23/what-will-weapons-inspectors-find-in-syria-and-does-it-matter/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:02:41 GMT
Russia Exposes British Lies on Skripal, but Trail Leads to US Melkulangara Bhadrakumar http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/russia-exposes-british-lies-on-skripal-but-trail-leads-to-us/

The sensational case of the poisoning of the ex-MI6 agent and former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal on March 4 in Salisbury, in the UK, is becoming more and more curious. Under a blinding spotlight from Moscow, the British allegation regarding a Russian hand in the poisoning of Skripal is getting exposed. An engrossing plot in big-power politics is also unfolding. There is stuff here for a Le Carre novel.

Are we witnessing a replay of the false flag Gulf of Tonkin attack of August 1964, the imaginary “incident” concocted by the US military to provide legal and political justification for deploying American forces in South Vietnam and for commencing open warfare against North Vietnam?

To recap, Britain alleged without any empirical evidence that a military grade nerve agent of a type known as Novichok was used in Salisbury, saying it was originally developed in the former Soviet Union, and therefore, Moscow’s hand – possibly, even President Vladimir Putin’s hand – was “highly likely”.

Moscow has maintained, on the other hand, that it had destroyed all its chemical weapons and an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation verified and testified to that.

The British allegation quickly morphed into a large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats (over 100 of them) by western capitals, under heavy pressure from Washington and London. The US alone expelled 60 Russian diplomats, while Britain expelled 23.

Egg on May’s face

Britain is studiously ignoring the Russian requests for samples of the chemical agent used in the Salisbury attack and for consular access to be granted to the former spy’s daughter Yulia. Meanwhile, Britain instead approached the OPCW to investigate.

The OPCW has now responded that it cannot identify the country of origin of the chemical agent used in the Salisbury attack.

There is egg on PM Theresa May’s face.

However, Russians managed to get their hands on the report prepared for the OPCW by its reputed laboratory in Spiez, the Swiss Center for Radiology and Bacteriological Analysis. According to the Swiss lab’s report, the chemical formula used in the Salisbury attack has been in service in the US, the UK and other NATO countries. Furthermore, neither the Soviet Union nor Russia “ever developed or stockpiled similar chemical weapons.”

That’s more egg on May’s face.

Now comes the bombshell. On April 18, Moscow disclosed that it has formally handed over to the OPCW proof to the effect that the Novichok agent purportedly used in the Salisbury attack actually happens to be patented as a chemical weapon in 2015 in the US and produced in that country. (By the way, unlike Russia, the US is yet to destroy its chemical weapon stockpiles, as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997.)

Now, not only the British government but Washington too has some explaining to do.

Was Skripal attack a covert op by the West?

Simply put, the Salisbury attack might even have been an Anglo-American joint covert operation undertaken with the ulterior motive to ratchet up tensions between the West and Russia. (The Washington Post reported on Monday that the former National Security Advisor HR McMaster might have hoodwinked President Donald Trump into approving the expulsion under the wrong notion that similar numbers of expulsions by European allies was in the pipeline. In the event though, the Europeans made only token expulsions.)

Britain is steadily edging away from the Skripal case, hoping, perhaps, that the matter will die down. But will Moscow let Britain off the hook?

On their part, the Russians seem to be holding back on some explosive information pointing toward the US’s direct complicity in this affair.

Indeed, if this was McMaster’s swan song, the indefatigable Russophobe probably hoped to kill two birds with one shot – push Russia’s relations with the West to a crisis point and second, scotch the prospects of an early US-Russia presidential summit (which Trump wanted.)

McMaster reportedly tried to stop Trump from congratulating Putin on his big victory in the Russian election on March 18 in a phone conversation where they discussed a possible summit meeting in a near future.

How far all this is linked to Trump’s decision on March 22, finally, to sack McMaster as his National Security Advisor is yet another template. By the standards of military people, McMaster probably has the reputation of being an “intellectual” but the man proved to be an unvarnished Cold Warrior fit for a museum.

From all accounts, Trump never trusted McMaster and the two had an acrimonious relationship. The one-star general who was overlooked for promotion by the Pentagon was Trump’s default choice following the abrupt departure of Michael Flynn.

Michael Wolff narrates a hilarious episode in his book "Fire and Fury" that during the job interview for the NSA post, McMaster tried to impress Trump when he showed up in military uniform with his silver star and launched into a wide-ranging lecture on global strategy. After, Trump reportedly remarked, “That guy bores the sh*t out of me.”

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/russia-exposes-british-lies-on-skripal-but-trail-leads-to-us/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/russia-exposes-british-lies-on-skripal-but-trail-leads-to-us/ Sat, 21 Apr 2018 18:18:55 GMT
Doctor Death from Damascus? Eric Margolis http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/doctor-death-from-damascus/

Butcher of Damascus. Gasser of children. Baby Killer of Syria. Tool of Moscow. Cruel despot. Monster.

These are all names the western media and politicians routinely heap on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. He has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.

As a veteran Mideast watcher, I find all this hard to swallow.  Compared to other brutal Mideast leaders, Assad is pretty weak tea. The US/British propaganda effort to paint Assad in blackest colors is having a difficult time.

Mideast leaders who toe the US line and make nice to Israel are invariably called "statesmen" or "president" by the American government and its increasingly tame media. There’s good old President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, the military dictator who crushed that nation’s only democracy and imposed an iron-fisted rule. But we will never hear from the US media of Egypt’s political murders, disappearances, secret prisons and torture. Or that Egypt has been one of the world’s most draconian police states since the era of Anwar Sadat and successor Hosni Mubarak.

Saudi rulers are reverently treated by the US media and government in spite of leading the world in executions. Last year, 44 people were publicly beheaded.  In some years, around 150 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, often a quarter of them Pakistani guest workers. Having been arrested by the Saudi religious police, I can tell you that the kingdom is a police state with sand dunes and camels. Saudi vassal states Bahrain and the Emirates are better, but not much.

Morocco, a key US ally, is notorious for its ghastly prisons and brutal torture. Iraq and Afghanistan, now under US control, are even worse. Israel, the largest recipient of US aid, holds close to 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 400 children, and is gunning down Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border.

Syria has always been a repressive police state. I recall watching "spies" being hanged in front of my hotel. Its various police forces are notorious for brutality and torture. In fact, until recently, the US actually sent captive suspects to Syria to be tortured and jailed.

That was before Washington made the decision to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government ("regime" in DC talk) as the first step in attacking Iran.

But Damascus was no worse a human rights abuser than Cairo, Amman, Rabat and Riyadh, all US vassals.

While looking at the current western hate campaigns against Syria and Iran, keep in mind the history of the modern Mideast. We are again seeing the 1914 era lies from London about Belgian babies speared on German bayonets.

Any Arab or Iranian leader who sought an independent policy or refused the tutelage of London and then Washington was delegitimized, excoriated, and demonized. Remember the Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh overthrown in a CIA coup? The renowned Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom the British branded "Hitler on the Nile"? Or the late, murdered Libyan Muammar Khadaffi, called "Mad Dog of the Mideast" by President Ronald Reagan?  Imam Khomeini of Iran and President Ahmadinejad, both favored targets of western media invective, and both compared to the much overused Hitler.  Saddam Hussein, the "Butcher of Baghdad," and that modern Dr Fu Manchu, Osama bin Laden, the all-time favorite Muslim arch villain.

Of course, there’s nothing new in this nasty name-calling. During the Victorian Era, Britain’s press demonized arch villains like "the Mad Mullah," the Mahdi, the Fakir of Ipi, and Nana Sahib of the 1857 Indian uprising against British imperial rule.

Bashar al-Assad was a mild-mannered ophthalmologist living in London with his British-born wife. When his rash elder brother Basil was killed in a car crash, Bashar was compelled to return to Syria and become the nominal political leader after the death of his very tough, ruthless father, Hafez al-Assad. Bashar’s main role was mediating between powerful factions in Damascus and trying to modernize his nation.

In 2011, the US, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia ignited an uprising in Syria using often fanatical jihadists. The shy, retiring Bashar was forced to become war leader in a bloody civil conflict as his nation disintegrated. 

President Trump, whose B-52 bombers are ravaging the Mideast, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen calls al-Assad a "monster."  Some of his relatives are indeed ruthless. But very many Syrians think of Assad as their nation’s only hope of returning to normalcy.

Reprinted with permission from EricMargolis.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/doctor-death-from-damascus/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/21/doctor-death-from-damascus/ Sat, 21 Apr 2018 17:32:43 GMT
Democracy Now’s 'Alt Media' Platform for Humanitarian Imperialism in Syria Elliott Gabriel http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/democracy-now-s-alt-media-platform-for-humanitarian-imperialism-in-syria/

The dust had barely settled after last weekend’s US-led bombing of Syria before a split in the political class developed. While some Beltway figures, media personalities and former officials hailed the bombings, others decried the “limited” nature of the airstrikes. At the grassroots level, a somewhat different debate gripped the left and the right — those who opposed the bombings were accused of buying into the propaganda of the Syria-Russia-Iran alliance, while would-be defenders of human rights called for increased military measures to degrade the killing capacity of the “Assad regime.”

Democracy Now!, the daily hour-long news show hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, has long been the flagship institution for US progressives. With its jaunty 90s opening theme, timely coverage of world events, liberal (maybe radical-liberal) take on global affairs, and impressive range of top-tier guests including authors, government officials, policy experts, and activists, the syndicated program is seen as an exemplary display of independent journalism.

No doubt, the New York-based show is in a class of its own when compared to the vapidity and sensationalism of shock-jock right-wing radio or smug, Beltway liberalism of Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann or Cenk Uygur. Like a gust of oxygen in the choking smog of AC360-Maddow infotainment, Amy Goodman resembles an enlightened aunt at a Fourth of July party — a female version of Ira Glass who brings a kale, cauliflower, almond cheese, and cumin-spiced casserole to the potluck while discussing difficult topics in an unshakeably calm, Zen-like manner.

Despite its reputation as a standard-bearer for left-of-center “alternative media,” Democracy Now isn’t immune to the pressures of US politics: sometimes the Battle of Seattle veterans canvas their suburbs for Barack Obama; sometimes Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky get out the vote for Hillary.

In a similar manner, Democracy Now frequently accommodates narratives that would seem at home on CNN or the state-run Voice of America. With alarming regularity, the “war and peace report” has showcased passionate voices advocating Pentagon or State Department solutions to dire human-rights crises across the globe, including “regime change.”

Case-in-point: Syria. Since the country plunged into the depths of withering all-sided conflict and proxy war pitting the government of Bashar al-Assad against a range of opposition groups – from Gulf Arab-funded jihadists to Western-funded secular armies, with few independent players in between – the program regularly features interviews with activists who feel that Washington can play a progressive role for the people of the region through the deployment of the US Armed Forces, covert aid to factions on the ground, and the routine violation of international legal norms such as the United Nations Charter.

Democracy Now generally isn’t a Pentagon mouthpiece; a large portion of its coverage does consist of decent progressive journalism. Yet interspersed throughout programming covering genuine popular movements, we find narratives covering the left flank of US imperialism, normalizing the use of US military force for ostensibly “humanitarian” purposes.

Interventionist voices for peace

In the course of the last week — since Syria came under cruise missile attack by the trilateral US-UK-France alliance — Democracy Now has featured two interviews with activists who unabashedly call for the Pentagon to use military measures against the Syrian government for the sake of easing the Syrian people’s pain. Their arguments resemble the line of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who questioned whether the bombings were the result of a White House “choreographed Kabuki show” with their Russian counterparts rather than the Cuban Missile Crisis-style showdown which seemed apparent prior to the strikes.

On Tuesday, Goodman interviewed Ramah Kudaimi of the Syrian Solidarity Collective. Described as a “grassroots activist” and member of the anti-war movement, Kudaimi argued – as she has for several years now – that the bombings didn’t manage to go far enough in displacing “the regime.” Noting that the US, since Obama, has offered verbal support to the “Syrian people’s revolution” while acting in a manner that “strengthened the regime,” Kudaimi accused the Trump administration of continuing to not go far enough in ensuring regime change. Meanwhile, she accused the antiwar left of offering uncritical support to the Bush-style “War on Terror” being waged by what she depicts as the virtually united forces of Syria, Iran, Russia, and the US-led coalition of Western powers and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Mocking the very real possibility of the tripartite alliance clashing with the Russian military mission backing Syria’s government, Kudaimi said:
… it was kind of infuriating to see this being presented as breaking news, this being presented as an apocalypse, that we’re about to embark on World War III, especially as has been made clear again and again by the US actions is — and words — is that this was something very limited, just to kind of send a message to Bashar al-Assad that you can go on and kill people with barrel bombs, with anything, but don’t — limit your use of chemical weapons.
This was followed by an interview on Thursday with Moazzam Begg, a British Pakistani survivor of illegal detention and torture at the US prisons in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, who now heads the human-rights group CAGE. In his interview, Begg stressed the need for a No-Fly Zone over the last remaining rebel stronghold of Idlib to prevent an “unprecedented massacre.”

Maintaining that he is “completely against Western intervention” on account of his own first-hand experience, Begg complained that the US-led intervention in the country continues to target the Syrian opposition rather than the government, dourly noting that the US hasn’t limited itself to fighting ISIS alone but also those groups that fought alongside it or alongside other groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, the rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Instead, he implied, the US should attack the root of the conflict: the Syrian air force. Begg said:
At least we know that in the Kurdish regions, for example, during the Iraq War, there were no-fly zones. Indeed, in Bosnia …  it was bad enough, but a no-fly zone at least stopped those who had air forces to carry out even further killing with mass casualties.
Neither guest mentioned the significant proportion of “regime supporters” who reside in Syria, or the need for a resumption of negotiations between beleaguered opposition forces, the government and the various powers who are militarily involved in the conflict.

These are far from the first occasions that Democracy Now’s guests, like the New York City-based Democratic socialists of Jacobin magazine, have propagated a line favoring humanitarian intervention in Syria. Past interviewees and headline readouts enthusiastically supported the NATO-backed uprising in Libya against the government of Muammar Gaddafi as well, regularly citing the inflated figures of government-caused deaths published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Black Agenda Report head editor Bruce Dixon noted at the time:
Something is really wrong with this picture. We have to wonder … at least as far as the war in Libya goes, whether Democracy Now is simply feeding us the line of corporate media, the Pentagon and the State Department rather than fulfilling the role of unembedded, independent journalists.”
Humanitarian crises and the pro-imperialist illusions 'of idiots'

A denunciation of war crimes and indiscriminate bombings by the Syrian Arab Army or Russian Aerospace Forces — be it through hypersonic missile, artillery shell, barrel bomb, chemical warfare, etc. — is hardly our point of dispute. Nor is earnest solidarity with any people suffering at the hands of a state that disregards or does damage to their life-or-death interests.

Yet the position that any resistance to a reassertion of US or European hegemony in Syria is a product of “fake news” indoctrination or a “pro-fascist anti-imperialism of idiots” — as Leila Al Shami argued in a widely-shared blog post — woefully misses the mark and cynically equates principled opponents of imperialist war with reactionary misanthropes on the far right.

To assert that Washington, London or Paris can act as guarantors of human rights or allies of the Syrian people is not only criminally naive, it provides ammunition to ideological fusillades aiming far higher than the low-hanging fruit of the Ba’athist regime alone. 

For Washington and its European allies, as well as its junior partners in the region, Damascus is simply a pit-stop on the road to Tehran (and possibly Moscow) — a means by which so-called “Iranian imperialism” and the aims of rival powers can be thwarted, allowing hegemonic powers led by the US to continue a policy of global conquest stretching from the Caribbean through the Mediterranean to the Sea of China.

The assertion that the war-stricken Assad regime is uniquely fascistic — unlike the region’s dynastic/sectarian, Zionist, militarist, or neo-Ottoman regimes — illustrates a selective indignation which dangerously feeds illusions that unlawful wars waged by top-tier Western powers to effect regime change will improve the lives of the most oppressed groups in the region and meet their need for a just peace. In what country, on what planet, do such precedents exist?

Let’s provide a reminder of these actors’ regional deeds in the past century: two world wars, Sykes-Picot, the partition plan, the War on Terror, police-state fascism, Wahhabist despotism, the shredding of the Middle East’s social fabric, and so forth. Doesn’t this offer at least a bit of proof that imperialism, neocolonialism, the military-industrial complex and the finance oligarchy at its helm aren’t in the least bit concerned about advancing human rights, democracy, peace and social justice in the region?

Endless warfare — endless disorientation?

Throughout the late 20th century but especially since the end of the Cold War, the United States arrogated to itself the right of aggressive military intervention across the globe on various pretenses. From Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, across Africa and the Middle East — Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen — the US cited a combination of national security concerns like terrorism and human-rights crimes to justify a total disregard for international law and consensus, not to mention the subsequent war crimes its military carried out in the course of “humanitarian” warfare.

While the UK’s successive governments have eagerly played the “poodle” role in support of Washington’s military adventures, the British people still maintain a vibrant anti-war movement. Anti-war and even anti-imperialist voices are frequently heard in the media, while Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing faction of the Labour Party has waged a stiff opposition to Tory Prime Minister Theresa May’s eagerness to participate in attacks on Syria. As a result, only 28 percent of the British public supported May’s “commitment to combat” Syria while 36 percent opposed it, according to a poll by The Independent.

In the United States, Pew Research Center data from last year showed that over twice that ratio of Americans – 58 percent – supported such missile strikes.

The US anti-war movement stagnated prior to the dusk of the George W. Bush administration and the onset of 2008’s election season, due in no small part to inroads by the Democratic Party and sectarian infighting by dominant leftist groups. In anticipation of the election of Barack Obama, the movement and its peace parades simply ground to a halt.

Following the jubilation of Obama’s electoral success and his post-inauguration resumption of Bush-era policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine-Israel, and Guantanamo, the grassroots opposition never reactivated. Mocking the movement’s co-option by the Democratic Party, activist Cindy Sheehan noted at the time that she began referring to the “anti-war left” as the “’anti-Republican War’ movement.”

In a study of the movement’s failure titled “Partisan Dynamics of Contention,” University of Michigan researcher Michael Heaney wrote:
As president, Obama maintained the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan. The anti-war movement should have been furious at Obama’s 'betrayal' and reinvigorated its protest activity. Instead, attendance at anti-war rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement dissipated … the election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the anti-war movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions.
This grim state of affairs — ideological confusion, misplaced hopes, demoralization, disintegration — gives us ample cause to criticize the humanitarian window-of a center-left that’s now been housebroken, domesticated and rendered oblivious to the main enemy at home: US imperialism.

Who pays the piper calls the tune

The rise and fall of popular left-wing currents — anti-war movements, militant workers’ struggles, and Black, Native American, Puerto Rican and Latin American immigrant liberation struggles — has followed predictable trends: there is the violent counter-insurgency conducted by a reinvigorated repressive state apparatus, white nationalist vigilantes, and other far-right groupings; and then there’s the low-intensity counterinsurgency conducted through the ideological state apparatus of media and academia; the formation of new electoral alliances and installation of minority “faces in the right places” of power; as well as the key factor, which is the co-option of movement figures by non-profit foundations backed by major capitalist philanthropic figures.

While open repression – the iron fist – tends to radicalize movements and galvanize popular support for them, the persuasive approach of the “velvet glove” forms a much more effective, less explosive and more demilitarized way of neutralizing mass opposition — transforming the revolutionary into the reformist, the radical into the tame, and the left to the centrist.

Much has been made of the role of figures like Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, whose proclaimed mission is to protect dissent and “build vibrant and tolerant democracies” through philanthropic grants that ostensibly serve oppressed or marginalized communities. Much of the critique can veer toward the conspiratorial, or exaggerates his role as some all-powerful impresario of the global left. Yet Soros is a major activist financier both abroad and at home, one of many players invested in what’s been called the “Non-Profit Industrial Complex” or NPIC, which comprises a complex web of relations between local and federal governments, the capitalist class, philanthropic foundations, NGO/non-profit social-service and social-justice organizations.

A look at who sponsors Democracy Now! shows just how dependent it is on NPIC. It’s worth quoting last year’s analysis of DN’s funding structure by Danny Haiphong at length:
Democracy Now runs interference for imperialism because it is beholden to funding sources, as are all non-profits and non-governmental organizations … An analysis conducted in Critical Sociology found that the Pacifica Foundation received upwards of 148,000 USD between the years of 1996-1998 from the Ford, Carnegie, and other foundations to launch Democracy Now.

The Lannan Foundation gave Democracy Now an additional 375,000 USD packaged in a number of grants, according to the foundation’s IRS 990 forms since 2008. Patrick Lannan, the capitalist mogul who founded the organization, sat on the board of ITT corporation in the late 70s and early 80s. The ITT corporation was instrumental in the CIA-backed fascist coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende in 1973.

… Foundations wield a form of 'soft power' on behalf of US imperialism. Their main purpose is to provide a “civil society” infrastructure in targeted nations capable of fomenting conditions of regime change.
“Fake news” and critical consumption

The compromised nature of Democracy Now doesn’t render it entirely useless for genuine anti-imperialists and listeners opposed to war, be they “humanitarian” or not. Strong critical voices are often heard on Democracy Now – as may be the case on CBS, NBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, RT, MintPress News, PressTV, even maybe once in a blue moon on Fox News or CNBC.

When looking at any of these organizations we need to remain critical of the banalities they may spew such as a liberal-versus-conservative paradigm that upholds systems of power like global monopoly capitalism (imperialism), despite distracting debates over the finer points of how the system is upheld – is it for a more “humanitarian” world order, a more “secure” one?

All of us have a duty – as media producers and media consumers – to look beyond the rhetoric of social justice deployed by center-left establishment figures, and instead see the structures and principles they both depend on and uphold. “Fake News” in terms of bias, propaganda and lie by omission is unavoidable, but the key question remains “cui bono?” – who benefits from the propagation of this narrative?

In the case of Democracy Now!, we have incorporated non-profit 501(c)3s and big Wall Street money underwriting the ostensibly “independent” and alternative media. As usual, we should remain on guard.

The “war and peace report,” as progressive as it may often sound, has long ceased to be a purely listener-supported project, and this lack of economic independence has spilled into its politics. The clearest sign of that is an implicit support, especially in the Arab Spring era, of imperialist wars on “authoritarian” regimes who find themselves in the crosshairs of the US government.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/democracy-now-s-alt-media-platform-for-humanitarian-imperialism-in-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/democracy-now-s-alt-media-platform-for-humanitarian-imperialism-in-syria/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:06:29 GMT
Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit? James George Jatras http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/did-the-west-just-lose-world-war-iii-by-forfeit/

In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.

On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?

Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria? And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?

The answer soon came on Twitter. Assad was an “animal.” Putin, Russia, and Iran were “responsible” for “many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack” – “Big price to pay.”

Around the world, people mentally braced for the worst. Would a global conflagration start in Syria with an American attack on Russian forces? A grim trepidation reminiscent of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis gripped the hearts of those old enough to remember those thirteen days when the fate of all life on our planet was in doubt.

Certainly there were enough voices in the US establishment egging Trump on. Besides, at home he still had the relentless pressure of the Mueller investigation, intensified by the FBI’s April 9 raid on his lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump’s only respite from the incessant hammering was his strike on Syria last year.

During the first Cold War both American and Soviet forces took great care to avoid direct conflict, rightly afraid it could lead to uncontrolled escalation. But now, in this second Cold War, western commentators were positively giddy at the thought of killing Russians in Syria...

...or rather killing more Russians, citing the slaughter of a disputed number of contractors (or “mercenaries” as western media and officials consistently called them, implying they deserved to have been exterminated). That’ll teach ‘em not to tangle with us! It was unclear whether the warning from Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov that Russia would respond against an attack by striking both incoming weapons as well as the platforms that launched would be taken seriously.

After a slight softening of tone by both Trump and Defense Secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis on April 12, during which a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was approaching Douma to conduct an on-site examination, there emerged a slim ray of hope that Trump would step back from acting on the transparently false provocation. (The slimness of any such hope was illustrated by the fact seemingly the most restrained of Trump’s advisers was somebody nicknamed “Mad Dog.”)

When on the evening of Friday the Thirteenth (Washington time) news came that the US had initiated military action, together with France and (the country Russia had accused of staging the Douma fraud) the United Kingdom, many feared the worst. The hasty timing was clearly aimed at preempting the arrival of the OPCW inspectors.

Of greater concern was the extent of the assault? If Russians were killed, Gerasimov was serious.

As it turned out, the worst didn’t come. World War III didn’t happen. Or hasn’t – yet.

In fact nothing much happened at all. According to the official US reports, something over a hundred missiles were launched at three targets. All missiles reached their targets – “Mission Accomplished!” The other side, however, claimed to have shot down roughly 75 percent of the incoming Tomahawks.

In the end, the damage was even less than from the follow-up to Idlib last year. No one was reported killed, neither Syrian nor Russian nor Iranian. Western governments claimed to have struck a serious blow at Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Syrians and Russians scoffed that the missiles had hit empty buildings and that Syria had no CW to hit since 2014, as certified by the OPCW.

In the aftermath of the missile show, media carried unverified reports that Trump had wanted a stronger campaign but deferred to Mattis’s caution, no doubt reflecting the views of professional military men who didn’t want to find out whether Gerasimov was bluffing. Mattis also reportedly wanted Congress to vote on any action before it was taken but was overruled by Trump.

There was even some speculation that the whole thing was a charade worked out in cooperation with the Russians. Even if true (and it’s unlikely) the mere fact that Trump would have to engage in such a ruse speaks volumes about the weakness of his position. “Whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria,” writes Patrick Buchanan. “We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is ‘inoperative’.”

That’s clear from the comments of US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She states that America won’t disengage until three objectives have been met: that ISIS has been defeated (a pretext, since ISIS is on the ropes and remains alive only because of hostile actions taken by the US and others against Syria); Damascus is finally deterred from using chemical weapons (a falsehood, since they don’t have any); and Iran’s regional influence is blocked (which means we’re staying in effect permanently in preparation for a larger war against Iran and perhaps eventually Russia).

The last point is unfortunately true, as plans are underway to beef up a Sunni anti-Iran bulwark in eastern Syria to cut off Tehran’s so-called “land bridge” the Mediterranean. Most Americans in Syria are to be replaced with a so-called Arab force – the “Arab NATO” touted last year in connection with Trump’s maiden foreign trip as president. (As though the one NATO we already have weren’t bad enough!)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has suggested troops from his country would participate. Aside from whether Riyadh can spare them from their ongoing task of wrecking Yemen, Saudi personnel are likely to become a prime target for Syrians itching to get a crack at their chief tormenters over the past seven years.

So was anything really settled on April 13? On this occasion the West chose not to “cross the river,” much as Khan Ahmed’s force declined to do in 1480. For their part, the Russians in Syria, like their ancestors on the Ugra, were on defense and had no need to risk offensive action.

Unfortunately, unlike the “the great standing on the Ugra River,” which resolved the question of Russian independence and sovereignty in that era, nothing has been resolved now. The question remains: will the US peacefully relinquish its position as the sole arbiter of authority, legality, and morality in a unipolar world in favor of a multipolar order where Russia’s and China’s legitimate interests and spheres of influence are respected? Or will we continue to risk plunging mankind into a global conflict?

Syria remains a key arena where one path or the other will be taken to finally wrap up what US Army Major Danny Sjursen calls “Operation Flailing Empire.” The irony is that peacefully “losing” our pointless and dangerous attempt to rule the world would only be to Americans’ benefit. That’s what Trump promised in 2016. He hasn’t delivered and it’s increasingly doubtful he can.

In the end, the threat of World War III hasn’t vanished. It has just been postponed.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/did-the-west-just-lose-world-war-iii-by-forfeit/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/did-the-west-just-lose-world-war-iii-by-forfeit/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:25:54 GMT
What Are 'Assad Apologists'? Are They Like Those 'Saddam Apologists' Of 2002? Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/what-are-assad-apologists-are-they-like-those-saddam-apologists-of-2002/

Isn’t it fascinating how western journalists are suddenly rallying to attack the dangerous awful and horrifying epidemic of “Assad apologists” just as the western empire ramps up its longstanding regime change agenda against the Syrian government? Kinda sorta exactly the same way they began spontaneously warning the world about “Saddam apologists” around the time of the Iraq invasion?

The increasingly pro-establishment Intercept has published an article titled “Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists: Your Hero Is a War Criminal Even If He Didn’t Gas Syrians,” condemning unnamed opponents of western interventionism in Syria for not being sufficiently condemnatory of Bashar al-Assad in their antiwar discourse.

Last week The Times published an article titled “Apologists for Assad working in British universities,” frantically informing the public that “top academics” are circulating information that runs counter to the official Syria narrative, followed this week by a Huffington Post article attacking those same academics in the same way. Yesterday, the BBC ran an article titled “Syria war: the online activists pushing conspiracy theories,” warning its readers about “pro-Syrian government” internet posts.

I first encountered the word “apologetics” as a young Catholic girl in a parochial school, where the term was introduced to me as the religious practice of defending Church doctrine using discourse and argumentation. I did not become familiar with the related secular term “apologia” until much later, which is defined as “a work written as an explanation or justification of one’s motives, convictions, or acts.”

It wasn’t a term I ever made use of or encountered much in day to day life until I started writing extensively about the dangerous warmongering behaviors I was seeing in my country’s allies last year, when all of a sudden it became a part of my daily life. For me, I was just trying to help prevent the western empire from decimating yet another Middle Eastern country in yet another war based on lies and avoid dangerous escalations that could lead to nuclear holocaust, but to countless strangers on the internet I am an “Assad apologist” and a “Putin apologist.”

People have been calling me these things every single day for well over a year now. The internet is weird, man.

And surprise surprise, now that the war drum is beating louder than ever for Syrian blood, the phrase “Assad apologists” is enjoying a massive uptick.

The argument as I understand it is that people like Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson, the subjects of the aforementioned Times and Huffpo articles, are not protesting the latest warmongering agenda of a multinational power establishment with an extensive history of decimating Middle Eastern countries, but are in fact going out of their way to justify Bashar al-Assad’s motives, convictions, and acts. Not because they oppose death and destruction like normal human beings, but because they are just positively head-over-heels gaga over some random Middle Eastern leader for some reason.

And that’s always how these arguments go. By pointing out that the US-centralized empire has been plotting regime change in Syria literally for generations, I’m not opposing dangerous regime change interventionism, I’m defending a dictator. By noting that the western empire has an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture support for military aggression, I’m not stating a well-documented and frequently admitted fact, I’m performing apologia on behalf of a despotic regime.

It can’t possibly be because I am aware that the neoconservatives who have been braying for this attack for years are always completely wrong about everything. It can’t possibly be because the US-centralized war machine has had a well-established pattern for many years of demolishing countries based on lies and false pretenses of humanitarianism only to leave in their wake a humanitarian disaster, which they then blame on “mistakes” made by whoever happened to be in charge at the time. It can’t possibly be because US-led military interventionism in modern times is literally never helpful, literally never accomplishes what its proponents claim it will accomplish, and is literally always extremely profitable for its most vocal advocates.

Nope, it’s got to be because I fell in love with a gangly Syrian president whom I’d never even thought about before the neocons set their crosshairs on him, and I only oppose the next imminent military catastrophe because I agree so much with his policies and behavior.

Even more annoying than the honest regime change proponents are people like Mehdi Hasan, author of the aforementioned Intercept piece, who claim to oppose US regime change but find themselves tone policing the antiwar left instead. The world is full of problems, the greatest arguably being a third world war and potential nuclear confrontation between Russia and America ensuing from US interventionism in Syria, but men like Hasan choose to focus their creative energy on making sure the antiwar left mitigates its speech sufficiently and prefaces every antiwar argument with “Assad is a bloodthirsty evil dictator, but”.

Like that’s what the world desperately needs right now: for the antiwar left to be even more mitigated in its speech than it already is. For us to slam on the brakes of our antiwar surge to check one another to make sure we’re all being explicitly anti-Assad enough.

These writers never make it clear exactly why it’s so important for everyone in the antiwar movement to be checked and scrutinized for excessive enthusiasm about the Syrian government. Are they worried they’ll go and join the Syrian Arab Army? That they’ll install Assad as president of the United States? How is sympathy toward the Syrian government a threat to anything other than the manufacturing of support for more escalations in US-led interventionism?

We don’t need equivocation and tone policing right now. What we need is a loud and unequivocal NO to western military interventionism in the country immediately adjacent to the one we raped fifteen years ago.

We’ve been here before. Here’s an article from 2001 titled “Saddam Hussein’s American Apologist”. Here’s one from 2002 titled “Saddam’s apologists”. Here’s another from 2003 titled “After Saddam’s Capture: Will His Apologists Now Recant?” Here’s yet another from 2003 titled “Armchair generals, or Saddam’s leftwing allies.” Here’s one from 2005 titled “Parliament’s damning report about Saddam apologist George Galloway.” This was an extremely common smear against opponents of the Iraq invasion, who were of course later proven to have been 100 percent correct in every way.

Iraq is as relevant as relevant gets to this debate, and anyone who claims otherwise is only doing so because they know Iraq is devastating to their Syria arguments. They’re pulling the same damn tricks in the same damn way, in some cases with the same damn people. These “We must stop the Assad apologists!” op-eds are coming out with increasing frequency and urgency because they are losing control of the Syria narrative and they are running out of tricks. Don’t let their authoritative way of speaking fool you; they are not nearly as confident as they pretend to be.

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Reprinted with author's permission from CaitlinJohnstone.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/what-are-assad-apologists-are-they-like-those-saddam-apologists-of-2002/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/20/what-are-assad-apologists-are-they-like-those-saddam-apologists-of-2002/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:54:51 GMT
Trump Puts his Logo on the Military-Industrial Complex, Sets Up US Arms Sales with Syria Demo Whitney Webb http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/trump-puts-his-logo-on-the-military-industrial-complex-sets-up-us-arms-sales-with-syria-demo/

The week after the US, along with the UK and France, launched unilateral strikes against the Syrian government, the Trump administration is rolling out a “Buy American” weapons-selling initiative aimed at allowing other nations to buy even more weapons from US-based arms manufacturers. According to Reuters, the initiative, set to be announced today, will speed up the approval of arms deals to US allies and will call for members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, as well as the president himself, to act as “closers” in major arms deals and salesmen for US weapons companies at international air shows and weapons showcases.

“This policy seeks to mobilize the full resources of the United States government behind arms transfers that are in the US national and economic security interest,” a White House official told Reuters. After news of the initiative first broke in the media, US weapons manufacturers made massive gains in the stock market and Raytheon’s stock hit an all-time high. In addition to helping the military-industrial complex secure more business, Trump may be pushing the initiative, at least in part, because of his personal investments in US weapons giants like Raytheon, Boeing and General Electric.

The initiative comes less than a week after the US strikes launched against Syria, and the strikes themselves were likely part of a PR bid to boost US weapons manufacturers and international arms orders leading up to the “Buy American” announcement. In addition, doubts have been raised that the strikes were planned to cause any major damage to the Syrian government, as the Syrian and Russian governments were allegedly “tipped off” by Trump prior to the attack, and given ample time to prepare by evacuating nearly all key military hardware.

This suggests that the purpose of the strike was not actually to harm the Syrian government as much as showcase US military might and weaponry in the lead-up to the official announcement of Trump’s new weapons selling initiative.

My missile’s better than your missile

Indeed, the US military, after the strike, praised the offensive for its “precision,” and the types of missiles and assets used – nearly all from US weapons giants like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing – figured prominently in media coverage of the strike. After the strikes, the stocks of US weapon manufacturers jumped sharply, adding nearly $10 billion to their market value. The strike also enriched the president himself by virtue of his stock holdings in Raytheon and Boeing.

The Syria strikes were also notable because they were used to debut new US-made missiles, which – unsurprisingly – received glowing reviews and a PR boost following the Syria strikes. Nineteen of those new missiles – the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, or JASSMs, manufactured by Lockheed Martin – were used for the first time in last week’s Syria attack after over 20 years of performance problems and other setbacks drastically delayed their development. However, their performance in the Syria strike conveniently proved a real-time “testing ground” for the missiles, and enough buzz for the missile’s troubled past to be forgotten. Further proof that the strikes were ordered with this purpose in mind is the fact that Lockheed Martin executives were preparing for a jump in JASSM orders before the strikes were even announced.

Using the Syria strike as a weapons-selling strategy may well have backfired, however. According to Russia, 71 of 103 missiles fired by the US, U.K. and France were shot down, resulting in a dismal success rate of around 31 percent and leading the coalition to hit only three of its original eight targets. It is likely for this very reason that the Pentagon has since changed its story by claiming that the US and its allies had always intended to hit only three targets, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Changing the narrative here is essential in attempts to boost US weapon sales — as admitting the success of the Russian-manufactured missile defense systems used in Syria would damage the sales of US missiles and bomber jets while boosting sales of Russian missile defense units.

Peanuts, popcorn, cool new missiles!

Trump’s bid to increase US arms sales, by using the Syria strikes as a PR blitz to show the effectiveness of US-made weapons, is just the latest action taken by the president to cement his role as America’s top arms dealer.

For instance, Reuters reported that Trump had personally intervened on behalf of Boeing, currently the US’ top weapons contractor, in a January phone call with the emir of Kuwait. During the call, Trump reportedly pushed the Kuwaiti leader to move forward on a $10 billion fighter-jet deal that Boeing considered “critical to its military aircraft division.” Trump’s presidency has thus far been incredibly kind to Boeing, which received $1.1 billion as a result of the Trump tax cut legislation and has seen its stock price double during his presidency.

More recently, Trump, during the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, held posters with pictures of US armaments and jets that had been sold to Saudi Arabia, smiling while boasting to reporters that “we make the best military product in the world.”

In addition, Trump has been working on rewriting the government’s Conventional Arms Transfer policy and the International Traffic in Arms regulations in order to make it easier to export more military-grade weapons. “It is about making sure we are doing everything we can to promote the competitiveness of American trade,” a State Department official told Politico last fall about the upcoming deal. Another similar effort taken up by the Trump administration involves using US diplomacy to assist US weapons companies obtain lucrative foreign-government contracts.

These changes, which the Trump administration plans to make official policy as soon as this week, have long been a major lobbying objective of the US weapons industry. Ultimately, though, they show that the military-industrial complex – long operating behind-the-scenes in US politics – is now set to become an integral part of the US’ public face, as Trump finds his niche “closing deals” for US weapon manufacturers around the world. Of course, with so many arms deals in the making, major wars and global conflicts likely aren’t too far behind.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/trump-puts-his-logo-on-the-military-industrial-complex-sets-up-us-arms-sales-with-syria-demo/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/trump-puts-his-logo-on-the-military-industrial-complex-sets-up-us-arms-sales-with-syria-demo/ Thu, 19 Apr 2018 18:09:04 GMT
Former UK Ambassador Reveals Truth About Syria Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/former-uk-ambassador-reveals-truth-about-syria/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/former-uk-ambassador-reveals-truth-about-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/former-uk-ambassador-reveals-truth-about-syria/ Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:36:04 GMT
Why Each US President Ends Up As Ruthless Interventionist These Days Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/why-each-us-president-ends-up-as-ruthless-interventionist-these-days/

In the wake of last week’s cruise missile attack on Syria, there was a joke going around the internet saying that it doesn’t matter who Americans vote for, they always wind up getting John McCain as President of the United States. The humor derives from the fact that the past three presidents all ran for office committed to reducing America’s interventionism overseas but once in office they reversed course and expanded US military commitments worldwide, turning them into facsimiles of John McCain, who has never seen a war he didn’t like.

President Donald Trump’s explicit pledges to avoid expanded engagement in Asia and the Middle East while also fixing the relationship with Russia are by now lost down the memory hole as he has increased troop levels in Afghanistan while, by his own admission, the relationship with Moscow is now even worse than it was during the Cold War. And regarding Syria, his Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Halley has confirmed that the US military will not be going anywhere because certain goals have to be met first. One objective, monitoring developments relating to Iran, is open-ended, implying that it will be impossible to leave for the foreseeable future and suggesting that another Afghanistan-style quagmire is in the making.

Pundits see the process whereby all new presidents turn into hawks as evidence of the pervasiveness of the Deep State in US foreign policy, but as the Deep State operates largely in the open in the United States, it might also be referred to as the Establishment consensus. The persistence of the Establishment view in what has become increasingly a national security state is largely due to the fact that there is little pushback against it. The media is fully on board and Congress, which should be serving as a brake on presumed presidential prerogatives to go to war, benefits substantially from the bloated budgets and other emoluments that derive from American imperialism. Defense and related budgets grow in spite of the lack of any real threat and the public is fed a steady diet of fear by the media and government regarding fabricated threats to US national security.

The combination of government and media lies renders most Americans completely ignorant about what is going in in Syria. First of all, the United States and its allies, who are occupying nearly one quarter of the country, are in Syria illegally. Under international law, attacking and occupying a country that is not directly threatening you without any justifying United Nations Security Council resolution is illegal. It is also a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Trials that followed after the Second World War, which ruled that a war of aggression is the “ultimate war crime” as it inevitably leads to many other crimes. So the United States is undeniably an unindicted war criminal.

That the United States has not been indicted or brought to justice for its crimes is largely due to its political and military power, which few nations choose to challenge, but also because it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is able to veto resolutions criticizing it. There have been numerous motions condemning American behavior, but none of them have made it out of the Security Council. This is not a confirmation of US innocence but rather a result of the politics that operate at the United Nations.

The United States is also in violation of international law because it remains in Syria without the permission of the recognized and legitimate Syrian government. Iranian forces and those of Russia are present on the invitation of Damascus. The United States is not. The US has also been illegally working to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government, acting in collusion with groups of so-called rebels, some of whom are actually drawn from internationally recognized terrorist groups, violating its own laws regarding providing material assistance to terrorism.

Establishment politics has meant that the United States is now a rogue nation defined by its propensity to go to war. America’s bombing of Syria is illegal, immoral, ineffective and dishonest. It is past time for the United States to pull out its troops and leave the Syrians alone. Americans killing Syrians while hypocritically claiming that it is done to stop Syrians from killing each other is a recipe for disaster.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/why-each-us-president-ends-up-as-ruthless-interventionist-these-days/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/why-each-us-president-ends-up-as-ruthless-interventionist-these-days/ Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:21:23 GMT
UN Security Team Delays Inspectors Entrance to Douma for ‘Safety’ Jason Ditz http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/un-security-team-delays-inspectors-entrance-to-douma-for-safety/

The UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) continues to prevent chemical inspectors from entering Douma for their investigation, citing safety concerns. They have offered no timetable for when the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors will be allowed in.

The OPCW inspectors did not visit Monday, and there were a lot of allegationsexchanged as to why. Though British officials blamed Russia for the delay, it is now clear that the UNDSS is driving the scheduling.

The UNDSS team visited two sites in Douma, but fled both times. In the first case, they claimed there was a large crowd there, and they were concerned about safety. At the second site there was a report of an explosion nearby, and claimed to have come under small arms fire by some unknown faction. No UN workers were injured, though one Syrian was said to have sustained light injuries working in a security capacity.

The OPCW inspectors are supposed to look into an alleged chemical weapons attack earlier this month. There is no public proof that the strike took place, and a mounting amount of doubt that it didn’t, driven by inquiries from Robert Fisk. Residents within Douma have also expressed doubts about the strike.

OAN investigators weren’t able to confirm any evidence of a chemical weapons attack on Douma. To the extent that investigations are happening, they suggest there was no chemical strike.

Clearly, Douma was attacked by Syrian forces on that day, and the day prior. Those strikes, however,  were insisted by the Syrian government to be purely conventional strikes. There is little to suggest anything else, beyond claims from the White Helmets, and Western nations claiming to have secret proof.

Syria and Russia have both denied from the start that the attack took place, and they have believed the OPCW visit would reveal the truth. Russia in particular was pushing for an investigation to take place before any rash action against Syria. Ultimately, US-led attacks on Syria happened Friday night.

Now it’s still not clear if the OPCW will ever be allowed in, with the Russian UN Ambassador expressing annoyance at new Security Council attempts to determine responsibility for the attack. Ambassador Nebenzia noted this was “futile” since the US, Britain, and France already attacked Syria in the first place.

The security pretext is pretty flimsy though. Despite all the UNDSS security concerns, media groups seem to have no problem getting into Douma safely. One of the most egregious examples is a CNN reporter in Douma, handling and even sniffing supposed evidence.

This only adds to questions. Can CNN really infiltrate Douma and “investigate” in such a haphazard way while the OPCW can’t even get on site? Moreover, would a CNN reporter really sniff garments she believed were covered in chemical weapons on air?

The US seems to have been anticipating the OPCW probe not going their way, and is already accusing Syria and Russia of plotting to tamper with the site. There’s no evidence of tampering of any kind. The US suggestion was based on the fact that Russian military police visited the site. The visit, however, was done days ago, and Russia said it was meant to deter the West from attacking Douma and destroying  evidence.

Russia also wanted inspectors into the site from day one, which is not true of the United States or its allies. A Russian proposal for such an investigation was voted down at the UN Security Council, and the US-led coalition attacked multiple sites in Syria before the investigation could discredit them.

Since the US, Britain, and France already attacked Syria, they have little reason to want the OPCW visit to be successful. They clearly weren’t interested in getting the facts before the strike, and facts that don’t support their narrative could be very embarrassing.

Indeed, there is growing speculation that this UNDSS effort to block the inspectors is a relatively transparent effort to prevent the investigation happening now.

Reprinted with permission from Antiwar.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/un-security-team-delays-inspectors-entrance-to-douma-for-safety/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/19/un-security-team-delays-inspectors-entrance-to-douma-for-safety/ Thu, 19 Apr 2018 04:10:26 GMT
Fool's Errand - 17 Years In Afghanistan Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/18/fools-errand-17-years-in-afghanistan/ Fool's Errand - Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and the many other US empire wars. Could the Afghan war have been avoided even though Afghanistan had hosted al-Qaeda? Horton tells us exactly how the US could have pursued its national interest and national security without a 17 year quagmire:

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/18/fools-errand-17-years-in-afghanistan/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/april/18/fools-errand-17-years-in-afghanistan/ Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:34:05 GMT