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Philip Giraldi

Sanctioning Away Free Speech: Americans Meet With Iranians at Their Peril

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The issue of the United States waging what seems to be a global war by way of sanctions rarely surfaces in the western media. The argument being made by the White House is that sanctions are capable of putting maximum pressure on a rogue regime without the necessity of having to go to war and actually kill people, but the reality is that while economic warfare may seem to be more benign than bombing and shooting the reality is that thousands of people die anyway, whether through starvation or inability to obtain medicines. It is often noted that 500,000 Iraqi children died in the 1990s due to sanctions imposed by the Bill Clinton White House and current estimates of deaths in Syria, Iran and Venezuela number in the tens of thousands.

And meanwhile the regimes that are under siege through sanctions do not, in fact, capitulate to American demands even when they are feeling considerable pain. Cuba has been sanctioned by Washington since 1960 and nothing has been accomplished, apart from providing an excuse for the regime to tighten its control over the people. Indeed, one might argue that free trade and travel would have likely succeeded in democratizing Cuba much more quickly than threats coupled with a policy of economic and political isolation.

Apart from their ineffectiveness, the dark side of sanctions is what they do to third parties who get caught up in the conflict. America’s recently imposed total ban on Iranian petroleum exports comes with secondary sanctions that can be initiated on any country that buys the oil, alienating Washington’s few remaining friends and creating universal concern regarding the United States’ long-term intentions.
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Trump Administration Provides New Evidence for a Saudi Connection to 9/11

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The debate over what actually occurred on 9/11 and, more to the point, who might have been behind it, continues to preoccupy many observers worldwide. There is considerable legitimate concern that the commission that reviewed the incident engaged in a cover-up designed either to excuse a catastrophic failure on the part of the United States’ national security apparatus, or even connivance of federal agencies in the attack itself. And then there is the issue of possible foreign government involvement. 

The roles of the Saudi Arabian, Israeli and Pakistani governments and security services has never been adequately investigated in spite of the fact that all three countries had clear involvement with the mostly Saudi individuals who have been identified as the attackers. Beyond that, Israel had intelligence operatives that appeared to be celebrating the fall of the twin towers in real time, an involvement in what took place that has never been comprehensively looked at by .law enforcement due to unwillingness to offend the Israelis.

It was Saudi Arabia which had the most sustained and personal contact with some of the alleged hijackers. For years, families of victims have been seeking to find out more about the possible Saudi role, admittedly so they can sue the Kingdom in US courts under existing anti-terrorism legislation that dates from 2016 and is referred to as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The Act permits lawsuits in the US directed against any country whose government supports international terrorism.
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Trump Frees Himself From Bolton – but Robert O’Brien Will Be Just as Bad

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After months of rumors, John Bolton was finally fired from the White House but the post mortem on why it took so long to remove him continues, with the punditry and media trying to understand exactly what happened and why. Perhaps the most complete explanation for what occurred came from President Donald Trump himself shortly after the fact. He said, in some impromptu comments, that his national security advisor had “…made some very big mistakes when he talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong Un. That was not a good statement to make. You just take a look at what happened with Gadhafi. That was not a good statement to make. And it set us back.”
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Spy vs Spy vs Spy: The Mysterious Mr. Smolenkov

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A new spy story has been making the rounds in Washington, but this time it involved a brave Russian official who allegedly was allegedly recruited while in the Russian Embassy in Washington in 2007 and then worked secretly for the CIA until he was exfiltrated safely in 2017 lest he be discovered and caught. The tale was clearly leaked by the Agency itself to CNN by way of “multiple Trump administration officials.”
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Israel Spies and Spies and Spies

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Here we go again! Israel is caught red handed spying against the United States and everyone in Congress is silent, as are nearly all the mainstream media which failed to report the story. And the federal government itself, quick to persecute a Russian woman who tried to join the NRA, concedes that the White House and Justice Department have done absolutely nothing to either rebuke or punish the Israeli perpetrators. One senior intelligence official commented that “I’m not aware of any accountability at all.”

Only President Donald Trump, predictably, had something so say in his usual personalized fashion, which was that the report was “hard to believe,” that “I don’t think the Israelis were spying on us. My relationship with Israel has been great…Anything is possible but I don’t believe it.”

Ironically, the placement of technical surveillance devices by Israel was clearly intended to target cellphone communications to and from the Trump White House. As the president frequently chats with top aides and friends on non-secure phones, the operation sought to pick up conversations involving Trump with the expectation that the security-averse president would say things off the record that might be considered top secret.
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Trump the Russian Puppet. A Story That Just Will Not Die

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Certainly, there are many things that President Donald Trump can rightly be criticized for, but it is interesting to note how the media and chattering classes continue to be in the grip of the highly emotional but ultimately irrational “Trump derangement syndrome (TDS).” TDS means that even the most ridiculous claims about Trump behavior can be regurgitated by someone like Jake Tapper or Rachel Maddow without anyone in the media even daring to observe that they are both professional dissemblers of truth who lie regularly to enhance their professional resumes.
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Trump Foreign Policy as Theater of the Absurd

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One might be forgiven for thinking that the foreign policy of the United States is some kind of theatrical performance, like a comic opera, with new characters appearing on stage willy-nilly and then being driven off after committing an incredible faux pas only to be replaced by even more grotesquely clownish figures. Unfortunately, while the musical chairs and plot twists contrived by a Goldoni or Moliere generally have a cheerful ending, the same cannot be said about what has been taking place in the White House.
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Lindsey Graham’s Blank Check. Why a Defense Agreement With Israel Would Be a Disaster for Americans

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Two world wars began because of unconditional pledges made by one country to come to assistance of another. On July 5, 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledged his country’s complete support for whatever response Austria-Hungary would choose to make against Serbia after the June 28th assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia. This fatal error went down in history as Germany’s carte blanche or “blank check,” assurance to Austria that led directly to WW I.
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Punishing the World With Sanctions

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Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister.

Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.
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Quincy Who? Another New Think Tank Tests the Waters

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Think tanks sprout like weeds in Washington. The latest is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which is engaged in a pre-launch launch and is attracting some media coverage all across the political spectrum. The Institute is named after the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, who famously made a speech while Secretary of State in which he cautioned that while the United States of America would always be sympathetic to the attempts of other countries to fight against dominance by the imperial European powers, “she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

The Quincy Institute self-defines as a foundation dedicated to a responsible and restrained foreign policy with the stated intention of “mov[ing] US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” It is seeking to fund an annual budget of $5-6 million, enough to employ twenty or more staffers.

The Quincy Institute claims correctly that many of the other organizations dealing with national security and international affairs inside the Beltway are either agenda driven or neoconservative dominated, often meaning that they in practice support serial interventionism, sometimes including broad tolerance or even encouragement of war as a first option when dealing with adversaries. These are policies that are currently playing out unsuccessfully vis-à-vis Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
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