Scott Horton

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Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

I wrote another book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

.Advance Praise for Enough Already

“If you only read one book this year on America’s unending ‘War on Terror,’ it should be this persuasive and devastatingly damning account of how the United States created the original al Qaeda terrorism threat by its own actions and then increased that threat by orders of magnitude by its wanton killings in one country after another in the name of ‘counter-terrorism.’ Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop!” — Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower and author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

“Nothing has fueled the abuse of government power in the last 20 years like the ‘War on Terrorism.’ Scott Horton’s essential new book, Enough Already, is the key to understanding why it’s not too late to end the wars and save our country. Three administrations in a row have promised us a more restrained foreign policy. It is time we insisted on it.” — Ron Paul, M.D., former congressman and author of Swords into Plowshares: A Life in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity

“With outstanding scholarship, research and analysis, Scott Horton’s new book, Enough Already, lays bare the logical absurdity and self-defeating nature of America’s permanent-war establishment. It might have taken its title from a line in the book’s introduction: America’s war policy since at least the Carter Administration has been ‘a policy in search of a reason.’ As Horton painstakingly lays bare, in virtually none of the military conflicts the United States has chosen to fight in since the 1970s was our security ever genuinely threatened. His ultimate solution is the only one that has any chance of preserving American security and giving us a chance to be ready in case we do face a genuine threat in the future: end the pointless and self-defeating forever wars. All of them.” — Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, USA (Ret.) four-time combat deployer, two-time winner of the Bronze Star and author of Eleventh Hour in 2020 America: How American Foreign Policy Got Jacked Up and What the Next Administration Can Do About It

“This is it! Finally, we have a comprehensive, rigorously researched, beautifully written and unassailable argument to stop the ‘endless wars’ that virtually no Americans outside the foreign policy establishment want to continue. There is no better time for this book to appear and no better person to write it than Scott Horton, who has been the people’s foreign policy expert for decades. If you want to save lives, buy it, read it and share it.” — Thaddeus Russell, professor of history and philosophy at Willamette University and author of A Renegade History of the United States

“I finished reading Enough Already the same week I had to attend the funeral of a sailor from one of my Iraq deployments. He killed himself leaving behind a wife and three boys. Nothing in this book is simply historical or abstract to tens of millions of families. Scott Horton has written an incredible accounting of the wars of the last twenty years. This book should be used to hold accountable those who purposefully committed these crimes and to remember the generations of Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Libyans, Iranians, Syrians, sub-Saharan Africans and Americans whose lives have been forever damaged and destroyed.” — Capt. Matthew Hoh, USMC (ret.), former senior State Department official, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy

“Scott Horton is one of the best informed and hardest hitting critics of the War on Terror. His new book is a gold mine for anyone seeking to learn about the frauds and failures of U.S. foreign policy.” — Jim Bovard, columnist at USA Today and author of Public Policy Hooligan

“Scott Horton’s book courageously investigates the deception that is the ‘War on Terror.’ It provides an impressive and wide-ranging examination of the misguided and costly U.S. foreign policy decisions which led to morally indefensible, strategically useless and militarily catastrophic interventions and wars in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world. Enough Already must be read by every American who cares about the future of his country because the cost of these imprudent wars has proven detrimental to the nation’s moral compass, global reputation, economic well-being and, indeed, national security. Enough Already is an eloquently written book. Using accessible language, exhaustive research and indisputable arguments, Horton’s latest volume is a damning and impassioned case against war.” — Ramzy Baroud, editor of Palestine Chronicle and author of These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons

“Scott Horton has put together a devastating, deeply-researched account of how the U.S. war system betrayed the American people’s trust in carrying out the so-called ‘War on Terror.’ He shows convincingly that it actually served other objectives and represents an unforgivable treachery that has inflicted incalculable harm on the United States. Readers across the entire deeply divided U.S. political spectrum will find truth in it that they can trust.” — Gareth Porter, Martha Gellhorn Award-winning journalist and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

“Scott Horton is a walking encyclopedia of U.S foreign policy, and he has managed to chronicle the entire history of the government’s meddling in the Middle East in this well-written and important volume. Enough Already explains why still today the U.S. government continues to bomb countries at its caprice, long after the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks have disappeared.” — Laurie Calhoun, author of We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age

Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan was by far the best single account of the Afghan mire. Yet Afghanistan is only one of the conflicts unleashed by the U.S. and Western interventions in the ‘War on Terror.’ Scott Horton has now given us Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, a masterly history of these chaotic, tragic and above all futile conflicts, ranging with his usual excoriating accuracy from Mali to Pakistan, from Iraq to Yemen by way of Libya and Syria. Millions are dead, disabled or languish desperately far from their homes as the direct result of our blunders, bewilderment and outright malicious stupidity. Thousands of our own soldiers have died or are disabled. Hundreds more of our citizens have died in the U.S. and Europe in what Horton calls the ‘backdraft’ of our disastrous actions. Ignore the self-serving memoirs or grandiose academic tomes; if you read only one book on the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ this must be that book.” — Frank Ledwidge, former Royal Navy Reserve intelligence officer, “Justice Advisor” to the UK Mission in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province and author of Investment in Blood

“The United States must end its foolish empire building. In Enough Already, Scott Horton clearly demonstrates the dangers of following those that profit from the deaths of American service men and women fighting in undeclared and endless wars. We cannot wage conventional war on an unconventional enemy. Enough Already!” — Sgt. Dan McKnight, Idaho Army National Guard (ret.), Afghanistan war veteran, founder and chairman of BringOurTroopsHome.US

“There is no better title for Scott Horton’s ambitious new book than Enough Already because honestly, those are the two words that floated through my head the entire time I was reading it. U.S. foreign policy for the last 20 years has been an endless parade of regime changes, useless attempts to ‘fix’ our blunders, extra-legal killing and detention, and military interventions that have made troubled states failed states. It never ends. Whether it be our destruction of Iraq, the illegal drone wars, JSOC manhunting or Hillary Clinton’s last stand in Libya, Scott has expertly harnessed mountains of detail here in a compelling narrative that underscores what a rotten mess the War on Terrorism has become. More importantly it shows that no matter how righteous the mission to go after the 9/11 perpetrators seemed at the time, the American government has managed to twist those goals into something perverse and ultimately more dangerous to the world than the 19 hijackers who changed everything that fateful day. The book is grim but persuasive, and a must read for anyone who is interested in learning how we got to this place two decades later.” — Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and contributing editor at The American Conservative

 

Matt Taibbi on the Origins of the Russiagate Hoax

Matt Taibbi on the Origins of the Russiagate Hoax

From left, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sit together in the front row before President Barack Obama spoke about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance in this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, file photo at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ** FILE **

A New Whistleblower Exposes the ‘Cambridge Four’

This interview was recorded August 13, 2020. The computer garbled the audio terribly, but at least the auto-transcriber was able to make sense of it. The following is edited for clarity and minor mess-ups.

Scott Horton:
Alright you guys, introducing Matt Taibbi, formerly at Rolling Stone and now just doing his own thing over there at Substack. And of course, he also runs a podcast with Katie Halper called Useful Idiots, which is great. I watch it semi-regularly, at least. He’s got a brand new piece, “Our Man in Cambridge,” that goes along with this companion piece by Steve Schrage called, “The Spies Who Hijacked America.” Welcome back to the show, Matt. How are you doing, sir?

Matt Taibbi:
Good, how are you?

Horton:
I’m doing great. And you know what? I’m so glad that you’re focusing again on “Untitled-gate” here. I was pretty sad when you sort of abandoned that project for other things because I am just so curious about the origins of this gigantic Russiagate hoax, which, as my friend Dave Smith says, is as big a deal as if the accusations had been true. If everything they said about Donald Trump was true, the fact that it wasn’t is as big deal as that would have been. That’s what a crime it is that the FBI and the CIA falsely accused the president of treason for three years.

Taibbi:
Yeah, it’s funny when the story first broke in, I guess it was the end of December of 2016 when it first started becoming really a big, big deal. I remember saying to another journalist, “if this is true, it’s the biggest story ever. And if it isn’t true, it’s the biggest.” Because there was no other explanation as either as to be historic setup or, you know, historic kind of espionage tale. So it looks like the former.

Horton:
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of us knew from the very beginning. If people want to check the archives, I first interviewed Jeffrey Carr, the computer security expert, in July of 2016 about how CrowdStrike and/or the FBI don’t know who hacked into servers. The only people in the world who could know who hacked them is the NSA because they have God-like omniscient power of being able to rewind the entire internet and trace every packet wherever they want. No one else can do that. And no expert examining the server can tell you for sure who had been there, because it’s too easy to fake it. In this case, the tracks they left were so obvious, where they had references to “Iron Felix” and all these Cyrillic letters dumped in there and all this stuff. Pretty obviously, you know…

Taibbi:
From from a journalistic standpoint, the idea that we identify the source of the hack by somebody writing “Felix Edmundovich” in the code, it’s pretty ridiculous. It’s as if somebody wrote “Allen Dulles” in the middle of the Stuxnet code

Horton:
(Laughs) Right.

Taibbi:
You know what I mean? It would be very silly to think that would actually happen, you know?

Horton:
So anyway, So we have the different parts of this. And I sure would like to see your very meanest work on the hacking and leaking of those emails. I know this is a subject that you have not really focused the most on. But you know, your most recent work here, of course, is about the Steele Dossier and the group of retired old spies at Cambridge University and all of this. Steele was a part of that also, involved essentially in the framing of Page and Papadopoulos. Certainly Page. I don’t know about Papadopoulos. That’s, I guess, a different question. But anyway, so you have this new whistleblower. And so I guess I want to ask you just first of all, if you can explain who is Stephen Schrage? And why is it that it took him so long to come forward and tell the story here?

Taibbi:
Yeah, so Steven Schrage. He was a former State Department official, also was the chief of staff from Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts. He was, you know, a fairly senior official in the Romney campaign in 2008, left government after he left the Brown office in the early two-thousand-tens, decided to go into academia and ended up pursuing a doctorate under Stephen Harper, who is the central figure in the old “Spygate” narrative, right? So he was the retired quasi-retired FBI-slash-CIA person who was teaching at Cambridge. And Schrage worked for Halper, and in fact is the reason that Halper met people like Carter Page, because he invited Page to a conference in circumstances that are quite humorous. We can get into that later. But to answer your question of why it took him so long to come forward, his take on this is that he didn’t know until Halper was named in the news, which I think was in May of 2018, that any of this had had any kind of like FBI significance to it. And he felt that he was a little bit conflicted, he said. He says he felt that his best shot to bring this story forward would be to go to the authorities. He did go to the Durham investigators last year, and then he came back again this year, and he decided to go public when he became concerned that perhaps that investigation was not going to end up being effective.

Horton:
I think he kind of accidentally unearthed this old audio that…

Taibbi:
Yes. So his relationship with Halper has deteriorated over the years, Halper being his doctoral advisor. And he says that with Halper’s permission, he had begun taping exchanges with with Halper as early as 2015, so that really so that he could go back and point out to him inconsistencies in his academic advice, I think is the idea. So he has lots of tape of Halper talking, and the two of them during these conversations. And after he met with the Durham people, the first time, he went back and reviewed some of those conversations, and some of them he didn’t expect to hear anything terribly interesting. But in one of them, it was two days before the big leak involving Michael Flynn. If you remember that story, the one that was written in the Washington Post involving reporting to David Ignatius, and he’s asking Halper, “Hey, do you think would be a good idea for me to go try to work for Michael Flynn who is now the National Security Advisor?” This guy had a long record of working with Republican politicians, you know, why not? And Halper says, “No, I don’t think he’s going to be around very long.”

Horton:
In fact, let’s just put that conversation here.

Horton:
So what did we just hear?

Taibbi:
Okay. Yeah. So basically this is January 10, 2017, and that’s two days before the Washington Post came out with this story that ended up having enormous consequences because the January 12 story said that Flynn had been on the phone with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. And as a result of that leak, which incidentally was an illegal leak of telephonic surveillance, the FBI decided to re-interview Flynn. It was a result of that re-interview that they built their false statements charge and prosecuted Flynn. So the notion that somebody would know two days before that leak happened that Flynn was in deep trouble that he was not going to be around for very long, and that “if you know how these things work,” and that his opponents and so-called enemies are going to “turn up the heat” and all that stuff, it’s very suggestive of, you know, perhaps foreknowledge that something bad was going to happen to Flynn. From Schrage’s point of view, in the way he puts it was like, “I would have thought that the last person who would have job security issues in the Trump administration would be Flynn because he one of the only people who have real experience in Trump’s inner circle.” But, you know, the tapes incident suggests otherwise.

Horton:
David Ignatius, for people who aren’t familiar, he’s widely known as the CIA’s man at the Post. One of many, I guess. But when he writes, he’s always very, you know, keyed into what the intelligence community is saying, is really sort of the Mouth of Sauron for them in that way kind of, right?

Taibbi:
I can’t speak to his background. But certainly the idea that he’s very plugged into the CIA is kind of a known thing in the business.

Horton:
And we already know, right, that James Clapper, who right up until then was the Director of National Intelligence, I forget now the context of how we know that he had ordered this hit piece in the Post and said “now is the time to take the kill shot.” So from there, it seems like Ignatius, Halper and Clapper… that’s another sort of confirmation, right that Halper really knew something and wasn’t just making a wild guess here, and that then that would mean the director of the National Intelligence was in on it as well.

Taibbi:
Yeah, well, I believe the “killshot” quote came from Flynn’s second lawyer, Sidney Powell, who talked about… who theorized the leak traveled…

Horton:
Oh, I’m sorry about that if I screwed that up. I could have swore that was what I had read, that somebody had essentially caught Clapper giving that order.

Taibbi:
Yeah, so no, it came from Powell’s court filing.

Horton: For some reason I thought that that was what Clapper had told Ignatius. “You know what, pull the trigger on that article we’ve been waiting on here.”

Taibbi:
Yeah, but she just described it as Clapper. So yeah, “Powell also referenced a purported conversation between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, claiming Clapper told the reporter words to the effect of ‘take the kill shot on Flynn,’ after he reportedly obtained the transcript of Flynn’s phone calls.” And then Clapper denied it.

Horton:
I gotcha.
So, what other indications do we have other than this guy…

Taibbi:
Steven Schrage.

Horton:
Okay, and what all indications do we have of, you know, other than just the way Halper sounded on that audio, that Halper was not just doing this with his friends, but was in league with the American intelligence agencies or even British MI-6?

Taibbi:
Well, he, he didn’t know that at the time. He only found out subsequently. At least that’s his story. But, you know, if you’re putting two and two together. And remember, Powell, who was Flynn’s lawyer, had theorized that the leak had gone through the Office of Net Assessment, which is a Pentagon office that was Halper’s employer. They paid Halper enormous sums of money, like over $400,000 during this period for these mysterious reports. So the theory is that the leak goes from somebody to the Office of Net Assessment to perhaps Halper. Or at least I think that’s what’s being suggested there.

Horton:
Yeah, I mean, well, you know, the Pentagon was certainly paying him all that money all that time for something. No other apparent publications by him at that time or any other thing, right, so seems pretty cut and dry.

Taibbi:
So, no, I mean, that’s a pretty that’s actually quite a funny subplot two this whole thing is how the whole Office of Net Assessment thing works. You know, it appears to be just a way to funnel money to informants and other people who are useful to the government. And essentially what they do, and I actually talked to some people who contributed to some of these reports, the ONA will pay somebody like $50,000 for a report on say China’s position in the world right now, right? And, and what the American will do is they will call up some person in a foreign country and offer them peanuts to put together basically a bunch of text around open source material, they send it back to him, he compiles it into a big document, sends it back to the Pentagon, does basically zero work and makes probably 10 times what the highest paid journalist in the world gets paid to do that same kind of stuff. So it’s pretty amazing. It’s amazing little subplot to the whole thing.

Horton:
Although, I mean, in this case, it doesn’t even seem like he was turning in those phony reports. He was getting paid. It seems like there’s a very good chance it was for this.

Taibbi:
Well, yeah, superficially, you can make the argument and there’s a whistleblower case involving this that’s coming out right now unrelated to Schrage, but there’s somebody in the Office of Net Assessment, who was claiming essentially that these payments were exactly for that kind of activity. If you’re interested in looking for this kind of thing, for instance, you can look for a document called “China: The Three Warfares,” and that’ll be online somewhere. You’ll see Halper didn’t really write anything in it, but I think he got paid something like $47,000 for this.

Horton:
What a racket.

Taibbi:
Yeah.

Horton:
All right now, so this guy, Schrage, he coined this new term, “the Cambridge Four,” it’s not just Halper, but it’s also Richard Dearlove — and of course Dearlove, the former head of MI-6 is most famous for having compiled the Downing Street Memos about the meeting at the so-called Crawford ranch in July of 2002, about how “we’ve decided that the policy is that we’re going to war and the facts are being fixed around the policy.” That was his job there.

Taibbi:
Yeah.

Horton: So, anyway, that’s what we know about Dearlove from before. He was the head of MI-6 at the time that the British helped lie us into war. And then there’s also of course Steele, he groups into this, and so maybe that’s an opportunity to talk a little bit more about his background as well. And then there’s this other guy, Christopher Andrew, who I think is would probably be the least known of the four. And you know, in terms of the broader public in terms of his role in all of this, but you guys both make the case that these four really were kind of working together throughout 2016 to gin this thing up. I think as you put it, then something really bad happened: Trump won anyway. This was supposed to stop him. And then once Trump won, now they’re in real trouble. So do they back down? No, they double-down. Right?

Taibbi:
Exactly. Yeah. It’s funny, though a lot of people, when they look at this scandal, imagine that it was this overwhelming, devastating conspiracy that involves, you know, really intense planning and tons of resources. And I don’t really think it played out that way. I think what you have here is a group of people who had an immediate financial interest in producing research. So somebody along the line and this is the part that we don’t really know yet. Somebody got it got it into their heads in 2015 or early 2016 that the Trump campaign had some kind of untoward relationship with the Russians. And at some point, the Democrats got interested in that topic and decided that they wanted to make political hay out of it, at which point they hired Fusion GPS and instructed them essentially to really look into the Russia issue. Fusion GPS, then hires Steele who was a former officer who had been stationed in Russia and had some expertise there, ran this private investigatory firm called Orbis, but he also had a relationship with Dearlove who was at Cambridge, and Dearlove had a relationship with Halper. So the two big wings of the pre-election investigatory effort involves Steele, who is getting paid very significant sums of money to produce research suggesting that Trump had all these relations with the Russians, and then there was Halper, who was also getting paid a lot of money to do the surveillance on Trump figures. And the interesting thing here is the sort of cross-pollination between those two plotlines. One seems to be ending up confirming the other and vice-versa. Carter Page gets invited to Cambridge by Schrage, Halper and Dearlove sees him there and then a week later Carter Page appears in Steele’s reports for the first time. And nobody even knew who this guy was before that. So that’s what’s interesting about this whole thing is that a lot of the stuff that ended up in the news later on really had their roots in just a couple of characters in this British University.

Horton:
We’ll get back to Papadopoulos here in a minute, but we know now, we found out relatively recently that the FBI discounted the Papadopoulos thing right away. I think the IG report said they decided “forget the Papadopoulos, we’re going to go with this Page thing.” So they really hung the FISA warrant applications and all of that on Page and his alleged connections to the Russians. And then this ought to be the biggest scandal of all, it almost always goes unmentioned, is the CIA told the FBI, “this guy belongs to us,” and the FBI blacked that out of their FISA application and pretended to not know that. And then think about this Matt: for three years, all those leaks from all those spooks to all those newspapers and TV stations, and nobody ever leaked that “Page belongs to the agency. He’s a loyal American patriot and when he met with the Russians, he came straight to us and told us everything.” They never leaked that in three years. We only found that out this spring in the IG report, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah, absolutely. That was outrageous on multiple levels. It was outrageous that that nobody mentioned any of the news reporters that Michael Flynn had told his agency about his planned trip to the RT dinner, and seems to have done a little little bit of reporting back to the DIA during that trip. And I think what’s most outrageous is the thing that you mentioned up top, which is that in August of 2016, the FBI concluded — this is literally within weeks after they commenced this investigation — they concluded, the direct quote is, “the evidence didn’t particularly indicate that George Papadopoulos was having any kind of interactions with Russians.” So they were admitting within weeks of starting the investigation that the entire predicate for the investigation was incorrect. And was for that reason that they moved on to Page, and as you say, they suppressed the evidence that might have might have exonerated him, or or prevented the surveillance from from going forward. And there’s some stuff that Schrage has on that too, by the way. But yeah, absolutely. The scandal here is not only that they they did all that stuff, but they kept telling reporters to dig into these questions years after they’d already moved on from them.

Horton:
Right. I mean, that really goes to show how dirty it all was that they were completely over it and continued anyway. You mentioned about how it doesn’t seem like Brennan and Comey and a couple others had a big meeting and said, “Okay, we’re going to frame Trump for treason with Russia,” in this kind of over-the-top way. But the way that the conspiracy developed, essentially was that the FBI counterintelligence division and the CIA were pretending to believe this stuff, right? Like in the case of Papadopoulos , they couldn’t even pretend to believe that anymore. So they threw that out. But I know you’ve mentioned this numerous times. To me the first thing- I didn’t even finish reading the Steele Dossier when it first came out because as soon as I got to the part that said that the Russians offered Carter Page a 19% ownership stake in the Russian state government-owned oil company Rosneft, which would have been worth billions of dollars, on the successful accomplishment of him seizing control of America’s sanctions policy from the Congress and getting all the sanctions on Russia lifted, I thought that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

Taibbi:
(Laughs.)

Horton:
And I’m supposed to believe that Comey read that and was really concerned? And he had his guys go to the FISA court because of this unheard of Benedict Arnold action by this active CIA asset. And I want to be clear, not “officer.” He wasn’t a CIA officer. He was a CIA asset, literally speaking, working for the CIA, as he’s going on his regular trips to Russia to meet with business people, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah. I don’t know what the term technically would be. But yes, he was giving information to them and had been for a couple of years and was in good standing with them. So the whole thing is preposterous. Yeah, the first time I read the Steele Dossier, there were so many red flags in there, that it just read like a really ridiculous piece of fiction. To me, it reminded me a lot of the Graham Green book Our Man in Havana, which is about a vacuum cleaner salesman who becomes a spy and decides to just send pictures of giant vacuum cleaners back to the home office in London, making them think that the Cubans are building one in the jungle. And they buy it, you know, and that’s what happened here. It was a bunch of goons are sort of making up a bunch of stories, but the the irony is that, yes, it turned into a real investigation. They bought it.

Horton:
And they ruined the lives of so many people, like this lady, Svetlana Lokhova.
Have you talked to her? Tell us about that. Because I think this was one of the more harmful aspects of this. It didn’t get too much play in the media, I don’t think, but it did get played in terms of how it affected Mike Flynn in his job, or in the case against him, right?

Taibbi:
Yes. This is a very dark story and I’ve worked on this and haven’t been able to really tell all of it, but the outlines of it are as follows. In February of 2014, Michael Flynn who was then Barack Obama’s the head of the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, he visited Cambridge, and he was at an official dinner, and during that dinner he was sitting at a table where he was surrounded by two of these figures, Christopher Andrew and Richard Dearlove, and then a fourth person was this woman Svetlana Lokhova who was a doctoral candidate under Andrew. And at that dinner she showed Flynn an old postcard written by Stalin that she had uncovered during a trip to Russia to look through the old NKVD-KGB archives, and they had a conversation lasting about 10 minutes. The entire thing was supervised and surrounded by these sort of luminaries of British intelligence. And nobody said anything about it for two years. And then after all this nonsense started in the summer of 2016, suddenly Halper — who was there that night, although he wasn’t at the dinner — Dearlove, and then later also Andrew ended up sounding the alarm and saying that that Flynn had been seduced by a Russian national at that dinner. And this is something I know for a fact, which is that multiple members of the U.S. media were told by American sources that Flynn was actively having an affair with a Russian agent around that time. And if you go back and look you’ll find that at that time there were a series of news stories that started to come out in December 2016. And then in March of 2017, about Flynn’s interaction with this woman. And it all came from this idea that these these goofballs cooked up that Flynn had been seduced in that five or ten minute conversation by a Russian, because it was the only conversation with a Russian that anybody could think that he had, which is crazy.

Horton:
Yeah, and as Schrage says in his piece about this, this woman, as you just mentioned, was Andrew’s student. And he says at that time in 2014, she was a brand new mother and they just drag this woman through the mud saying that she is a spy, a honeypot, working for Vladimir Putin to suborn Mike Flynn and compromise him in all this treason. I guess you said you talked to her. This really destroyed her life to a great degree, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah, absolutely. And it was completely sociopathic on the part of all these people. And I talked to a bunch of the journalists who covered the story…

Horton:
Like who?

Taibbi:
It was all off the record. You can guess by looking at the bylines. There were only five or six major characters who covered this thing. But they all said the same thing. Basically, they were approached by Americans in late 2016. And told, you know, without any hesitation, that Flynn was having an affair with a Russian. This was this was big enough news that American reporters were flown over to London to cover it. And they dug, they tore through this woman’s personal life and they eventually put her name out there. And they never had any kind of real indication that anything had happened.

Horton:
Well, and they didn’t just pick up the phone and call DIA and say “When this guy was your boss, did you guys have any indication that he was sleeping with the enemy?” How about that for a dog that didn’t bark?

Taibbi:
Well and he had passed security clearances multiple times after that, which tells you that whatever these informants thought, they certainly didn’t raise any alarm about it for a significant period of time, for years at least. So the whole thing was was absurd on its face, and I think that a good reporter would have run run screaming in the other direction from the story because there’s just there’s no there there, you know, but they did it anyway. And what was amazing about that is that it led ultimately to the exposure of Halper because he was one of the people who alerted the FBI to this nefarious connection between Flynn and this woman. And his name eventually came out in the newspapers, but they were far more concerned about protecting the identity of Halper than they were about Svetlana Lokhova. So the whole thing was crazy.

Horton:
Yeah. And then, but, you know, it really is just like the Iraq war. You made that comparison in your writing before, where, you know, the case for the war against Iraq was about 10 or 15 points long, and every single one of them was zero.

Taibbi:
(Laughs)

Horton:
But a hawk could keep talking all day about why we have to do it. It’s just at the end of his talk, 15 times zero is still zero. None of it’s true. It’s all lies, but it’s like 15 lies. And so it’s the same kind of thing with this: people talking about, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” But it’s not smoke, it’s steam. It’s hot air. It’s all bs, but there’s so much of it, when people want to believe, there’s enough there for them to believe in. You know, we saw the way people got caught up in this. The entire cult of not the left, but the liberal sort of centrist Democratic Party types in this country, by the 10s of millions got caught up in this thing.

Taibbi:
Yeah, and I think it really speaks to, you know, kind of a problem that we have with the way we do investigative journalism in this country. There’s sort of a loophole that you can drive through with national security stories, which is if somebody from one of the spy agencies or from the FBI calls up and tells you like a shaggy dog story, but says, “Hey, I’m sorry, I got to keep my name out of this,” the newspapers will very frequently just run with that stuff anyway. So the normal fact checking process that we would go through to check all kinds of other things, we just don’t do that with this kind of story, which is one of the reasons the Iraq thing happened. Right. So it looks somebody in the military tells Judith Miller that, “Hey, we know we’ve got something just over the next hill that proves he’s got the WMDs,” but it’s a nameless, faceless source, right? That stuff ends up in the newspapers with amazing frequency. That happened over and over and over again with this Russia story. You know, they just kept driving through that loophole.

Horton:
Yep. And then of course, the other thing is, you have to have two sources. But who’s to say they’re not, you know, coming up with a list together of “here are the journalists we’re going to lie to. I’m going to call him on Tuesday. You call him on Wednesday, and we’ll have it in the paper by Thursday.”

Taibbi:
Right. Yeah, exactly. Or the classic construction of an intelligence source who tells a somebody in a congressional committee that’s like the House or Senate Intel committees. And so the congressional source tells their source to call up the reporter, and then puts the person in touch with the original source, but it’s a game of telephone. It’s not like you’re getting the story independently confirmed by another source. It’s just the same story that ran through two people. And that’s the problem that you have with these kinds of stories is that when the names aren’t made public, you can’t tell whether it’s just one narrative that’s been passed around an office, or whether it’s something that actually multiple people can confirm.

Horton:
Yeah. And we actually had the argument ad-absurdum on this sort of thing just recently with the story about the Russians paying for American scalps in Afghanistan, where the next day after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post put out this story, on Twitter all the reporters were telling each other “my story is confirmed by his story, which is confirmed by the other story.” And yet all they say is “anonymous sources tell us.” They have no evidence and no compelling narrative whatsoever. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, as they tried to create a compelling narrative, it all completely fell apart. And no one was willing to stand by the story and so it was all dead. But Charlie Savage really thought that when Warren Strobel wrote the same thing, that “See, I’m right.” And he didn’t even know how foolish he sounded. And I pick on Charlie Savage because I used to respect him a little bit.

Taibbi:
Yeah. Actually, I often thought that he was one of the better reporters that the Times had. But you know, this is an example. That story is a prime example of how this stuff works. Who among the American press corps, is going to be able to confirm that some warlord in Afghanistan got a bag of money to go assassinate Americans? That’s an unconfirmable story. The only way we’re going to ever get to that story is, is by the Americans who actually came up with it. And it could be the same anonymous source talking to five different newspapers. So they’re not confirming each other. They’re just confirming that they heard a story.

Horton:
Yep. And in fact, one more I’m sorry, It just came to mind and is so important, I think. Although I’m not sure how much of an impact it made, but last Saturday, the New York Times in the weekend magazine ran a 10,000 word hit piece on Donald Trump, essentially by the CIA. And I gotta tell you that I bet you a third or two thirds of it is true about how completely stupid Trump is. You can’t even talk to him in pictures anymore. And all he wants to talk about is his inauguration crowd size again, and this kind of garbage. I more or less believe it. But at the same time, what the hell is going on here? Another giant hit piece with what, 15 different CIA people went and talked to this reporter for this gigantic weekend magazine expose on Trump. And all it is is CIA guys complaining about the president. Who the hell do they think they are, these people? You know?

Taibbi:
And Bernie Sanders.

Horton:
Yeah, of course.

Taibbi:
That story, right? They talked about the NIE. Yeah, and I think what bothers me is somebody who kind of grew up in this business is that there was a time period where the normal attitude of somebody who worked in the news media was to be at best distrustful of people who work for the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, to a lesser extent. It was less of a thing back then. But now it’s like these people are the biggest stars in the world, and whatever they say is like gospel. And it’s not only that they get to say whatever they want in these newspapers, basically without any pushback, that, you know, they leave these agencies and immediately get million dollar positions on television and cable news. It’s like, you know, there’s just no skepticism that’s built into the media system about about information that comes from these folks anymore. And that’s that’s really depressing.

Horton:
Yeah, well, and you can see why people believe Earth is flat, or God knows what, because the same people who told them the Earth is round are the same people who lie to them about everything. And so they don’t know where to draw the line. They don’t understand. They know that it’s not the way TV and the newspapers say. So maybe it is this Q-Anon thing. Or maybe it is Vladimir Putin. Or maybe it’s some off-the-wall explanation because whatever it is, the common narrative delivered to us daily doesn’t make sense. You know? It doesn’t hold up, and so if these are the people we have to rely on, you know, people turn their back, but then which way do they go? Next thing you know they’re having a protest burning masks, or whatever it is because they’re caught up in who knows what.

Taibbi:
Yeah. And I think you brought up a good example there with the press attitude towards the Covid coverage. We went through these amazing stages right where they they first they were they were furiously angry at anybody who went outside to protest the lockdowns. Then during the Black Lives Matter protests, these the exact same sources, the exact same op ed writers simply said that it was more important to protest than it was to worry about the pandemic. And then they went back to the first thing a few weeks after that. So what’s the ordinary news consumer supposed to think watching all this? “Should I say inside? Or if I think it’s really important, can I go outside? I have no idea.” And I think people in this business underestimate the impact of those kinds of inconsistencies.

Horton:
Well, and you know, I’m sorry, because I hate the media so much, and you’re so good at talking about that. But I wanted to touch on a couple of more details here real quick if it’s okay. The recent revelations just in the last few weeks about declassified testimony from the House and Senate hearings on this stuff, where we found out finally who Christopher Steele’s sources were after being told they were high-level Russian government employees and people who work for powerful oligarchs and all this stuff this whole time. It turns out that what now? Where did he get this stuff?

Taibbi:
From a Washington-based analysts from the Brookings Institution named Igor Danchenko, who didn’t live in-country. He did travel to Russia for the story, but in an affidavit the FBI released where they interview him, he says he didn’t have any contact with any senior intelligence or any intelligence officials, that part of his M.O. was to drink heavily with the sub-sources that he talked openly about his sub-sources trying to monetize their relationship with him. It’s absurd that anybody ever took any of this stuff seriously. And if you read the FBI’s interview with this guy, you realize he was just kind of selling wolf whistles the whole time. He was openly going around telling people they can make money by giving him information. And they guessed what he wanted and gave him some information, but it’s not reliable.

Horton:
Can you refresh my memory on when it was the FBI had created… It must have been right away, or early in the investigation, when they got the Steel Dossier in the summer of 2016, they created this big spreadsheet where they crossed everything off the list as possibly being reliable information, or found that anything in there that was true, had been published in the Washington Post two days before and so we know that that was where they got it, the little kernels of truth here and there. Because that was even before they had gone to the FISA court, or at least back the second time or something, right?

Taibbi:
I’m not sure exactly when they did that process. I know that in the IG report, the Horowitz report, they talked about doing an analysis of how much of the original reporting in the Steele reports can be trusted, and the conclusion they essentially came to is that the true stuff in here has already been publicly reported. So (laughs) I don’t think they found anything original that turned out to be right in the report.

Horton:
Now, so the part about this that is to me the most interesting is the very few sporadic reports… And somewhere in the back of my head, I think you had mentioned in this, in some of your “Untitled-gate” reporting, that some of these contacts with the informants and the Trump people went back even to 2015. I can’t remember if that involved Halper or Papadopoulos. But also I don’t know the role of the Misfud and who originally put Misfud on the case of Papadopoulos. I guess the most I know about the Papadopoulos thing is from Michael Tracy’s interview with him where he talks about how he went and got this job and how immediately they were trying to set him up and figure out a way to put pro-Russian words in his mouth or some kind of thing. But who exactly was Misfud? And what was his role in this? And beginning when? I guess are to me the biggest questions. And same for Halper. What was the very first time that they started this put-on?

Taibbi: We don’t really know. My theory about how this began early-on was was based on some things that I heard a couple of years ago that I haven’t been able to really suss out since. We know for sure that by late July of 2016, that people were actively trying to approach both Papadopoulos and Page. Schrage’s account, you know, this is the guy that I’m talking to now, in his telling basically, they don’t start getting interested in Page until the second week of July 2016. And that’s basically when Dearlove runs into Page at this conference at Cambridge. And suddenly it seems like everybody’s interested in Page and any other Trump contacts. But the question of Misfud is really still one of the outstanding mysteries of this whole thing. Like where is this guy? Who is he? It’s pretty clear that the even the FBI didn’t believe that he was actually a Russian agent. He was in the U.S. briefly. I believe it was January of 2017 and released, interviewed and let go. So he couldn’t possibly have ever really been a suspected Russian spy. And yet they constructed the entire investigation based on the idea that he was one. So the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. I mean, it seems like it was much ado about nothing from the start.

Horton:
And, you know, this is not concrete. But I think the timeline is pretty indicative of a set-up here where Assange announced on I think June 14, that “Yeah, we’ve got some Hillary emails coming out here soon,” this kind of thing. And that gave the CIA three days heads up to come up with this Guccifer crap to try to sort of insinuate, you know, Russian, I guess, Cyrillic letters as part of it from from Guccifer’s thing. Wikileaks never published that stuff, but it’s sort of like with the Flynn accusations with this woman. “Well, it could be true… Men and women do have sex sometimes,” or something. So yes, it could be true that these emails all come from the same source, it sort of seems that way. And then that was right around the same time, the beginning of summer 2016. Seems like they decided “Whatever we can do to bring up the word Russia in the context of Trump, we’re going to try to do that, and blame them for the sabotage of Hillary Clinton.”

Taibbi: Yeah. The other time was really interesting. I have to admit that that’s part of the story that I haven’t looked at a whole lot. To be honest, the reason I haven’t is because my technical chops are not so hot in terms of being able to assess who is and who could have and who maybe didn’t try to hack the DNC, but certainly the all the release testimony that came out, suggests they had, they never had anything like a concrete indication that there was any kind of relationship between the Russians, this hack, Guccifer and Julian Assange. They never concretely established any of that. It was all a series of pretty thin assumptions. Obviously, the other amazing thing about that is that they never interviewed Assange about it, which tells you that they weren’t interested in the answer or, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know what that means.

Horton:
Yeah, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the language in the Muller report where some lawyer somewhere said “No, we have to go ahead and admit that we have nothing here.” And so they say they believe the Russians did the hack, but they don’t demonstrate that. And then they admit they can’t demonstrate a chain of custody to WikiLeaks. You know, after three years of “the Russians gave it to WikiLeaks,” Robert Mueller admitted that he had no causal chain, sorry.

Taibbi:
Yeah, there’s just mountains of testimony and investigation of the question of you know, whether or not there was foreknowledge or whether or not there was a relationship there, but they’ve never actually come up with anything that proves any of that story. And also, that was all going on independently of these of these other two prongs of the story with Steele and the spying. Like, I don’t know, to what degree that they might have been connected. But, you know, either way, it was all seemingly pretty absurd.

Horton: Yeah. You know, the whole thing about the Logan Act, we’re now and this is where Joe Biden comes in, is that Biden apparently was the one who brought up “Hey, maybe we can use the Logan Act as an excuse against Flynn here.” And Sally Yates at DOJ also said, “Oh, yeah, when I read the transcripts of the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak, and then I knew what he had said to the FBI, I thought ‘Oh, no! Now the Russians have compromised him because he’s breaking the Logan Act and lying about it, and so now they’ll have this over him.'” Even though the Logan Act might as well not even exist at all. And in this context, we’re not talking about a businessman from Houston making a separate deal with the UAE or something like that. We’re talking about the designated incoming national security adviser of the president elect of the United States, not in the summer, we’re talking about after the election, after the Electoral College has voted. This guy is the designated national security adviser. I mean, they might as well bring up child abuse or whatever. They’re just pretending to have a legal pretext at that point, right?

Taibbi: Yeah, especially in the context of all the other stuff that was going on with that investigation. The fact that they investigated Flynn for all these other things. They have this whole absurd Crossfire Razor sub-investigation that had come up dry. They were recommending, the people on that case were recommending that they give it up. And, you know, some folks didn’t want to, and they decided to hold on to the idea of of dirtying Flynn through this preposterous interpretation of this call to Kislyak. And the crime here, the idea that the Logan Act was violated is far less serious crime than the actual one, leaking the telephonic communication which is a felony, and that definitely happened. And you’re absolutely right that the Logan Act, even if it was something that we were ever going to prosecute, and we never have, it was not intended to cover the incoming national security adviser who was weeks away from taking power and essentially was telling the Russian ambassador, “Hey, you know, don’t overreact. Chill out.”
Like, that’s really what happened. So the whole thing was absurd.

Horton: Yeah, I mean, that is such an important point too. What was the secret big deal communication here is he was saying, “Don’t overreact in a tit for tat over Obama’s new sanctions, because after all, he’s on his way out. And we want to strike a better note.” And, you know, this goes back to what you’re saying about Flynn at DIA. This was a three star general, who was the head of the DIA and had this whole, you know, years-long liaison relationship with the Russian military. Not that he was a traitor supported by them. He was an American three star General, who had a pretty good relationship with some powerful people in the Russian military, which is the kind of thing that all other things being equal, and no Russiagate hoax involved, is the kind of thing that all Americans ought to celebrate. And think of it, probably the best thing about this kook, Mike Flynn, who after all, is sort of a Michael Ledeen co-author, Iran hawk, nutball, who said a couple good things about Syria one time. He said a couple of good things about Russia, but is otherwise a pretty dangerous character. And yet, he gets along with the Russian military. That ought to be a bright spot in the mind of all 7 billion people in the world. Isn’t that what we want, for America and Russia to get along, no matter what?

Taibbi: Absolutely, and I think a lot of the genesis of the Democratic Party frustration and the Obama administration frustration with Flynn was that he had had an open disagreement with that administration about some pretty serious strategic questions that among other things involved the Russians. Flynn was the subject of some reporting by Sy Hersh. And essentially was going public with this idea that the Obama administration was making a mistake by trying to make allies of so called moderates in Syria, who was saying we’re not really moderates, they were more like al Qaeda, and that the preferable way to go was to team up with the Russians to to combat those kinds of extremists. And, you know, there was disagreement about that. But I could understand both the arguments for both sides of that. But the notion that he was doing something that was treasonous is crazy. It was a strategic idea that he had that you could agree with or disagree with it, but it’s certainly not outside the pale of normal behavior.

Horton: And Susan Rice pretended — again going along with this narrative that it must be treason. She said that she had a conversation with Flynn, where he should’ve just humored her. What an idiot this guy. But instead he decided to get in an argument with her about how, “Nah, Russia’s fine. Russia’s no big deal. It’s China that we’ve got to worry about.” And then Rice said, “When I heard that I thought, ‘Oh no, it must be true. He really is a traitor under the control of some foreign power, because how could any American think that?'” Actually, a lot of people think that. I’m not one of them. But that’s a point of view. In fact, Trump said, “I went and talked with Henry Kissinger. And I said, ‘Henry, I think we ought to get along with Russia because the real enemy is China.’ And Henry Kissinger told me ‘You’re right, Trump go with that.'” So he’s supposed to be the longest gray beard of all. This is a strategic question: Which side of the Sino-Russian split are you on? We’re all Richard Nixon playing Risk here. Only when Trump and Flynn do it, it’s high treason.

Taibbi: Yeah, it’s amazing. I think some of that comes from Americans not having a real clue about what Russia is, you know, Russia is a geographically massive country with a pretty big military. But economically, it’s like somewhere between Italy and South Korea. It’s not a major power, it’s got very, very serious internal problems. It’s nowhere near the level of geopolitical rival that the Chinese are. Now you could say that they have a terrible government. And you could say that Putin is not a good leader. And I certainly have been very critical of him in the past. But I wouldn’t put Russia in the same category as, say, China in terms of the size of the rivalry there.

Horton: I know you lived there for many years and that kind of thing. For most of us, Russia is a place in our imagination. We don’t really know anything about it. And on one hand our government, say John McCain for example, who said “Oh, come on, Russia is a gas station with a border. It’s not even a country at all.” Obama ridiculed them and said, “Russia is a regional power at best.” But then they turn around and say, “Actually Russia’s intelligence agencies are responsible for the election results of every country everywhere in a world where we don’t like how they turn out. And they’re about to take over and conquer all of Eastern Europe again, like back in the bad old days.”

Taibbi: Right. I mean, in 2012, Obama was essentially saying the Russia “is the gnat on the bottom of an elephant,” which I thought was a pretty good description, having lived there. The old description of the Soviet Union, that I think Henry Kissinger said, was that “Russia is Upper Volta with rockets.” You know, it’s a country with a big military, it’s powerful in that sense. It certainly exerts a lot of influence on the countries that are on its borders, but internationally, it’s just not this chaotic juggernaut that they’re making it out to be in the press. And it doesn’t have anywhere near the economic power of China.

Horton: Alright, so then one last thing here is about the effect of this have on Trump. Say, for example, if they had never cooked up this Russiagate thing in the first place. And the President had been free to pursue this Russia policy in the same way that any other president would have been. I mean, for that matter, Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev, when he was the, you know, Supreme Leader of the Soviet Union and General Secretary of the Communist Party, and all of these things. And so, nevermind the opportunity costs of just what could have been in terms of progress, but just think of how backwards everything is going. You know, I interviewed Branco Marcetic from Jacobin magazine last week about all the anti-Russia positions that Trump has taken over and over again, and to a great degree, even in his own words, to protect himself from these attacks. “They keep accusing me of being soft on Russia. Well I’m not soft on Russia. I’ve done this, this and this.” Including he’s pulling troops out of Germany, but he’s moving them to Poland, which is even worse. And, you know, I’m sure you’ve got something to say about what might have been here if we, if our government was not caught up in this crazy narrative that they themselves have generated about Russia here.

Taibbi: Yeah. You know, I was not a fan of Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t think I’ll be voting for him again, but the the degree to which all of this handicapped his presidency and all the things that happened, particularly during the transition period, when there are all these leaks, was about Flynn or about the pee tape, or handing Trump the Steele report. He entered the presidency basically from day one facing a DEFCON 5 emergency. And you know, I would argue that this is a person who, under the best circumstances would have had a difficult time doing a great job because he probably, you know, he doesn’t have the experience and it would have been a rough ride anyway. But with this going on, I think it was inexcusable. What the press and all these these creatures in the intelligence services did to handicap the presidency — I get not liking Donald Trump, but this is also the country you know, that suffered when all this took up all of our time for three years. You know, it was was really ridiculous. And so yeah, you’re right on that.

Horton: There’s got to be some kind of accountability. I can’t imagine someone publishing Jane Mayer again, for example, or David Corn. We’re going to continue to use people who, you know went so far out on the limb with this garbage? — and boy there’s exhaustive list of them. I guess I should say exhausting.

Taibbi: There’s a long history of failing upward in the journalism business, right? Like the people who were the most wrong on Iraq tended to get promoted upward. I mean, look at who’s editing The Atlantic magazine right now. You know, people like Jonathan Chait and the editorial page editor of the Washington Post who got so much wrong. I mean, basically Judy Miller was the only one who paid. Everybody else kind of got away with it. And that’s another thing. We talked about this earlier, that’s the thing: that the public sees the stuff. You know, people in journalism think that the audiences aren’t paying attention, but they do pay attention. When we screw things up there has to be some kind of reckoning, or else we lose our credibility.

Horton:
Although, you know, what you talk about in your book, about all the different “silos” of information, you can see that there are huge swathes of the liberal side who still believe in this stuff because they were never made to confront the failure of the story when it all came out. They kind of had a narrative that “well, Bob Muller gave an old man rambling testimony to the Senate,” but they didn’t break down here’s what the report actually said about all that stuff that we said. They just let it go. And so you see on Twitter, of course, but really everywhere you see Democrats still believe that, in the words of recent rando I saw that, “Vladimir Putin sure got his money’s worth with Trump.” As Nancy Pelosi said, just in the recent Afghanistan scalp story, that “all roads lead back to Putin.” She said the same thing during the impeachment. They really still believe this stuff.

Taibbi: I know. You know, there was a woman who recently resigned from MSNBC, Ariana Pekary, and she wrote a note publicly saying part of the reason she she quit is because she had come to the conclusion or she quoted one of her co-workers basically saying that, “we’re not in the business of informing, we’re in the business of comforting our audiences.” So, you know, they believe the Russia thing, and there’s news that comes out that contradicts it, they just don’t put it out there because they know it’s going to upset their audiences. So they just allow them to kind of wallow in their ignorance, which is, I think a disservice.

Horton: Alright, well, listen. Thank you so much for coming back on the show, Matt. It’s always great talking to you and reading your great journalism.

Taibbi: Thanks Scott.

Horton: The book is Hate Inc., and you’ve got to subscribe at Substack — which, by the way, can I ask you a favor? Is there a way that I can get you to turn off the paywall on “Our Man in Cambridge,” for a couple of days so we can link to it at Antiwar.com?

Taibbi: (Laughs.) I’ll try, yeah. I’ll ask the Substack guys to do that.

Horton: We ran “The Spies Who Hijacked America” by Steven Schrage there as our Spotlight the other day and I’d like to Spotlight “Our Man in Cambridge” as well.

Taibbi: Okay.

Horton: But you gotta subscribe. He’s independent from Rolling Stone, now at Substack.com. And of course you can follow him on Twitter and all those great things. And again, his show is called Useful Idiots with Katie Halper. And thank you again. Appreciate it.

Taibbi: Alright, thanks. Take care.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

The Breonna Taylor Tapes

The Breonna Taylor Tapes

Guilty murderer Jon Mattingly

If this one hadn’t gone viral, the “law” would have buried innocent slain victim Breonna Taylor‘s heroic boyfriend Kenneth Walker under the prison for attempting to murder a cop.

Now the tapes of his interrogation have been released. As NBC News explains:

Walker was interviewed just hours after the shooting. He waived his rights to an attorney and emotionally recalled the chaotic night, saying he shot once at what he believed was an intruder before officers opened fire. Days later, the 27-year-old was indicted for attempted murder of a police officer and assault. …

At 4 a.m., hours after the raid, PIU Sgt. Amanda Seelye introduces herself to Walker.

She and her colleague Sgt. Chad Tinnell explain to a tearful Walker that their team is like “internal affairs.”

“We investigate officer-involved shootings,” Seelye says. “We’re here just to try to find out what happened.”

“I’m scared about what to say,” Walker says.

She encourages him to sign the Miranda rights waiver and talk.

“It would be good for you to sign this and then we can get you, get your statement and then we can leave you alone,” she tells Walker. He’s compliant, later also providing his iPhone passcode when Seelye asks for it.

Six days later, Seelye testified before the grand jury that indicted Walker. In a two-minute statement, she described the shooting but did not tell the members of the jury that Walker thought the noise at the door was an intruder.

Do you see what’s going on there? In the name of Internal Affairs — implying that she is investigating the crime of the cops’ murder of his girlfriend, rather than his one defensive round fired — PIU Sgt. Amanda Seelye encourages the innocent heroic victim to admit he fired a shot. Then she went and testified for the prosecution at the grand jury and did not tell the whole truth that he was legitimately afraid for his life and was defending himself — or at least that he even claimed so. They then indicted him in-part based on her description of his admission!

Read the rest of the story to see how the same investigators fed the proper defensive answers to the murderer cop to keep him on the safe side of self-implication:

“That’s kind of like what I was getting to because of your positioning, you know, initially when you’re shot — and then rightfully so, you’re returning fire,” says Vance [Seely’s partner, while she’s standing right there].

“Mm-hmm,” Mattingly responds.

“But you know you just said you made a conscious decision, you know, ‘I’m now injured I need to move, so they can protect themselves and me as well,’” says Vance. “And then — I don’t want to put words in your mouth …”

“No, that’s it,” says Mattingly.

Vance also offers that the apartment’s layout made it a “difficult” location.

“You’ve got to nearly 20 years of police experience, would you, would you say that the positioning of that apartment, made it extremely difficult?” asks Vance.

Mattingly replies, “It wasn’t ideal.”

None of the people responsible for murdering this young woman will go to prison. Not the judge who signed the warrant who no one would even think for a moment could ever possibly conceivably be held accountable in any way whatsoever for his actions — ever, not the cops who pretended to believe the innocent dead young woman possessed “contraband” drugs at her home, not the “Internal Affairs” cop who framed the surviving victim and perjured herself before the grand jury against him, nor her partner who conspired with the guilty murderer to frame his answers in the most exculpatory way. None of them will be held accountable ever. You know it and I know it and boy do they know it.

And you wonder why people riot.

By the way, according to her family’s lawsuit against the city of Louisville, they have credible reason to believe that her death was the result of a city government conspiracy to seize her ex-boyfriend’s land for a big new urban renewal project by trying to tie him to the commission of some drug “offences.” You know who should be surprised by that? Absolutely no one.

Coming Apart at the Seams

Coming Apart at the Seams

It doesn’t have to be this way

America is burning. Quite literally. The most destructive riots in America in a very long time have hit more than two dozen cities, as opportunistic thieves and arsonists hijack massive peaceful protests and acts of peaceful civil disobedience sparked by the senseless murder of a man named George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. The riots are a tragedy not just for those who have lost or been hurt – a few were even shot during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday – but for the protesters’ cause which is their righteous anger at unaccountable police violence running rampant through our society. The enemy is the state, but the rioters only make others feel grateful for the enemy’s protection. What is the sense in destroying the property and endangering the lives of innocent people? There is no sense in it, it’s mob-action stupidity and will almost certainly guarantee that the “great silent majority” of Americans continue to side with the “thin blue line” against them.

Even worse it provides the excuse for the further use of emergency tactics by police and could end up being cited to put the U.S. military on American streets. Already at least eight cities have declared curfews and almost one-third of American states have called out the national guard. The president has threatened to send in U.S. army forces as well. So much for limiting abusive police power.

And such limits are long overdue. Please go sign up for the afternoon email alert from the Free Thought Project site. You will see that every single day – virtually with no exceptions ever – Americans are killed by police. In a major proportion if not majority of these cases, the cops’ violence is obviously completely unwarranted. For example, Austin police murdered an innocent man just the other day. Note, as always, the local media spin on behalf of the cops against an innocent dead citizen, “officer-involved,” “shoot at.” There are thousands more.

Take the case of Breonna Taylor, a young, heroic EMT, slain in her own home by Louisville police on a paramilitary SWAT Team night raid on the wrong home, looking for evidence of supposed contraband violations by a man who had already been taken into custody in another location. For weeks the cops, in conspiracy with the compliant local news, smeared the innocent dead young woman as a “suspect” and her boyfriend as an attempted murderer of the heroic police. In fact, the boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the brave hero as well as innocent victim in the situation. These cops, pretending to be Navy SEAL Team 6 at war, did not announce their identities as police as they smashed down the door with a battering ram. Walker shot one officer in the leg. The cops then all opened fire, hitting Ms. Taylor 8 times, killing her.

Listen to the 911 call. After the cops apparently temporarily withdrew, Walker called the police for help, still unaware that it was the police who had committed the murder. Weeks later, after the story finally achieved wide publicity, the charges against Walker were dropped. Just another case of collateral damage in the tragedy-farce of the war on drugs.

It isn’t just the drug wars. America’s militarized war on guns is the same way. Even when not killed in paramilitary night raids like what happened to a young man named Duncan Lemp in Maryland last month, tens of thousands of Americans, maybe more, mostly poor and racial minorities, have been captured and locked in cages like animals not for using a firearm in any criminal way, but simply for having one when the state had commanded otherwise. Of course the alleged possible presence of firearms at a suspect’s location is the primary excuse for the use of deadly paramilitary teams in “no-knock” raids in the first place.

Another major problem beyond prohibition is the doctrine of “qualified immunity” for all law-enforcement officers, which after having been invented out of whole cloth by activist judges, has now evolved into an almost-blanket protection for murderous cops, serving as a license to kill and an always-get-out-of-jail-free card. For you to kill there must be no choice. For them it must only be “reasonable.” And reasonable means whatever they say. The suspect made a “furtive” movement! Blast him! He reached to pull up his sagging pants – “waistband!” Dead man. Two weeks paid vacation. Cops can even outright steal money from innocent people and the judges serve only as their accomplices. When they murder their own loved ones while off the clock, their partners only cover for them.

The same right-leaning patriots who are railing against police enforcement of the Covid lockdowns have got to ask themselves how they would feel if a cop did this to their father.

And what if it was almost certain they would all get away with it too?

In this case the cop who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has actually been fired and arrested, but only after the massive outcry, and almost certainly because of it. Even then, Chauvin, the cop seemingly most-responsible out of the three who were holding Floyd down, was only charged with little-old third-degree murder which carries a light sentence even if he’s convicted, which is unlikely anyway. The prosecutors had every incentive to “do something” like arrest him now to calm people down, but they also have every incentive to botch the case and let the killers all go free later on. In the charging documents the accusers themselves open up reasonable doubt in the form of autopsy results that say it was not damage to Floyd’s neck that killed him, indicating that it was the prone position of the victim as well as pressure to his back that made the difference instead. While far less than reasonable doubt, with the other men not charged, it’s almost certainly enough wiggle room for a cop to squeeze through.

The rest of America should try look past the stupidity and destruction of the riots in response to police violence and demand a serious change now. We need an end to all drug and gun prohibition, a permanent ban on all SWAT Team night raids, to shutdown the military’s 1033 and Homeland Security’s militarization of local police programs and federal militarized Joint-Task Forces, and most of all we need a massive new consensus to force the Supreme Court to overturn their made-up, Old World-style, qualified immunity doctrine. If government is above the law, then it is not law at all, only edicts of tyrannical men.

This is an emergency. These changes must be made immediately.

In the midst of all the virus, lockdown, police state and economic crises, take note, this society is in no position whatsoever to impose its “benevolent empire” on the rest of the world. We’re still a million miles from perfecting our own union. If it is to hold together at all, factions will need to do a better job learning to see things from others’ point of view. If no one can agree on what is to be done, let us then at least agree on what to stop. Roll back this government and let freedom reign instead. There’s no need to fight over our differences if we can be free to maintain them.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

America, We Have To End the Wars Now

America, We Have To End the Wars Now

The Coronavirus Crisis Makes It Clear

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide. It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people’s enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana’a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda’s side against them. So the war is genocide and treason.

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he’s doing it for the money. That’s right. And he’s just recently sent the marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to “get along with Russia,” and buy natural gas from them, while Trump’s government does everything in its power to prevent it.

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia’s western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world’s worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted, Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War. Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically, even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude. Communism really doesn’t work. And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it. But as Cato’s Doug Bandow says, we don’t even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn’t make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it? The “threat” of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there’s no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei. Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that’s their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that’s it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they’ve already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point, of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders’ wars rage on.

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well. As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley, World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies. That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what’s left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas “commitments” and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been. We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before. We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results.

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

The New Cold War With Russia Is All America’s Fault

The New Cold War With Russia Is All America’s Fault

The following is the text of a speech Scott gave to the King County, Washington Libertarian Party, February 29, 2020.

According to Rep. Jason Crow, Russian President “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

But that’s not true. There’s no real reason to believe that Putin means us any harm at all. The new Cold War with Russia is all America’s fault.

See, at the end of the last Cold War the American foreign policy community, led by the neoconservatives, adopted a doctrine of global dominance. This was as Charles Krauthammer put it in 1990, the U.S.’s “Unipolar Moment” and opportunity to remake the world our way and keep it that way. They call it leadership, hegemony, preeminence, predominance or even Full Spectrum Dominance. No really, it’s all for their own good though. Keeping the peace; protecting the sea lanes; enforcing the global rules-based liberal international order.

Dick Cheney’s Defense Department’s post-Iraq War I, “Defense Planning Guidance” from 1992 defined the doctrine for the new decade and into the new millennium: The U.S. must remain the single dominant power on the planet, and must maintain enough military power to prevent any possible strategic rivals, such as Germany, Japan, Russia or China, from even considering an attempt to challenge U.S. power.

The George Bush Sr. Years:

On February 9, 1990, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker, as well as West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, promised Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that if the USSR would withdraw their troops and allow German reunification under America’s NATO military alliance, they would not expand it “one inch eastward” beyond that.

Of course they lied about it since, at various times claiming this pledge either never happened or doesn’t count because it wasn’t in writing. But last year the records were posted at the National Security Archive at George Washington University’s website. You can read the writing yourself.

But then Bill Clinton started expanding NATO in his second term. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were brought in 1999.

Clinton and his advisers said that Russia wouldn’t mind. Maybe they’ll join! They created the NATO-Russia Council with a promise toward further integration. But then the Kosovo war of 1999 ended all that talk for good. Of course inviting Russia into NATO, creating essentially a one-world white army of the North, would have also been a disaster, but the alternative our government has chosen has hardly been better.

Many Cold War hawks such as Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry, George Kennan, who had coined the containment policy back in the 1940s, and his rival Paul Nitze who favored the more aggressive policy of Soviet “rollback,” the Butcher of Asia, Robert S. McNamara, who later confessed to war crimes in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and Robert Gates, the former director of the CIA and later defense secretary all warned Clinton not to do it. As Kennan told the New York Times:

“I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.

“Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

“Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”

On top of the insult and danger of Western incorporation of former Warsaw Pact states into the NATO alliance, was the “shock therapy” economic policy of the “Harvard Boys,” Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, David Lipton and Robert Rubin which totally destroyed the Russian economy. Instead of being a good sport at the end of a world-historical peaceful victory, the U.S. under Bill Clinton just kept kicking them while they were down. All at once the “Harvard Boys” abolished all subsidies and price controls in the formerly completely Communist economy, induced hyper-inflation, destroying all available capital for real investment and used “voucher” and “loans for shares” schemes that handed over entire industries to connected gangsters who mostly just liquidated it all and ran. The consequences for the economy and civilian population were beyond severe. Life expectancy fell by double digits across the country. The congressional testimony of former Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Williamson explains the full scale of the tragedy and how they got away with it.

The U.S. also rigged the Russian presidential election of 1996 with billions of dollars in last minute loans for passing out bribes and a massive and sophisticated propaganda and ballot box stuffing campaign. Is that “ancient history”? This scheme of course contributed to the rise of Vladimir Putin, whom Yeltsin named Prime Minister in 1999. He then resigned and named Putin to replace him as President on New Years of the year 2000. Putin has since isolated, exiled and replaced America and Israel’s favored Russian oligarchs with his own.

The George W. Bush years:

Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call George W. Bush on September 11th to offer his condolences and full cooperation, including the use of Russia’s “northern route,” into Afghanistan through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and the use of former Soviet bases in those countries. Putin is said to have spent considerable political capital facing down critics on his right in politics and the military to do so.

Bush turned right around three months later and announced American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and plans to put defensive missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. Attempting to avoid the obvious, the president claimed these were to protect Poland from ballistic missile attack from Iran. When Bush said this at a NATO or G-8 meeting in Europe – sorry, I couldn’t find it but do remember – the others all busted out laughing in spite of themselves.

Bush’s government also launched a project of what are called the Color-Coded Revolutions, primarily against Russian-leaning states in their near-abroad. These are essentially U.S. coup de tat’s disguised as fake “revolutions” backed by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and friendly supposedly private NGOs like Otpor. This trend got started in the Bill Clinton years with mixed success in Albania in 1996, Montenegro and Croatia in 1997, Slovakia and Armenia in 1998 and Serbia in 2000. Bush brought the successful Serbian template to Georgia with the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the failed Denim Revolution in Belarus in 2005, the short-lived Tulip Revolution in Tajikistan in 2005, the failed Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, and disastrous Green Revolution in Iran during Obama’s presidency in 2009.

The Bush government also continued further NATO expansion in violation of his father’s promise, bringing seven more countries into the alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. He tried very hard to include Ukraine and Georgia but Germany and France refused to allow it.

NATO membership is a war guarantee. The people in charge act as though it’s just an invite to a fancy cocktail party for powerful international government socialites. But as Pat Buchanan, former ardent Cold Warrior in the bad old days, likes to point out, the U.S. used to draw the line at the Elbe river half way across Germany. The threat was that if the Soviets invaded West Germany, threatening France, the Netherlands and the other Western democracies, we would go to war to stop them. Now America has moved that line 1200 miles to the east to Russia’s very western border with the Baltic states. There’s no real reason to fear it, but if Russia did decide to reconquer Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, our politicians have signed us up to fight a war to defend them from a power that could in fact destroy our entire civilization permanently in one afternoon if it came down to it. Nevermind our Monroe Doctrine in the sense that the Russians must feel the same way about their near-abroad as Americans do, but the Doctrine itself actually promises to stay out of European affairs if they will stay out of our hemisphere in return. That part always goes unmentioned, doesn’t it?

The short Georgia War of August 2008 could have turned into a real war. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili – victor of the U.S.-backed Rose Revolution of 2003 – was incentivized to take bigger risks due to U.S. military support and vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring. He launched an attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia, then enjoying full autonomy and protection by Russian peacekeepers under a deal that had been brokered by our European Union allies. The Russians, suffering casualties in the initial assault, quickly struck back, destroying Georgia’s invading force and securing South Ossetia’s independence from Georgia.

Vice President Cheney proposed missile strikes agianst the Russian troops coming through the tunnels under the Caucasus Mountains. Luckily, the much wiser George W. Bush had decided better than to listen to Cheney by that late date.

Imagine, Georgia, this tiny, weak nation in the southern Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas, being included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. You thought Turkey was pushing it. But what value could Georgia possibly add to the American alliance, other than to get the people of this country into the worst kind of trouble over issues that are absolutely none of our business?

Putin gave a speech to a NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, telling the Western leaders that, “The claim that this process [of bringing as many of Russia’s neighbors into the West’s military alliance as possible] is not directed against Russia will not suffice. National security is not based on promises.”

As Putin elaborated in an interview with Oliver Stone, whether America’s motives are truly just centered around corporate welfare or not, the position the U.S. is putting him in requires him to respond to the heightened threat. Soon thereafter he claimed in his annual address to the Duma an entire new generation of heavy MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) missiles, one of which could kill every major city in Texas; nuclear-powered cruise missiles with essentially unlimited range for evading U.S. defenses; virtually undetectable nuclear torpedoes for destroying American coastal cities and major ports; and hypersonic delivery vehicles which completely skew the balance of Mutually Assured Destruction by reducing the amount of time that policy makers have to decide whether to go to nuclear war from 15 or 30 minutes to perhaps less than five.

The primacy project didn’t create a permanent state of dominance and security. Instead we got endless new liabilities with nothing real to show for it, and a new nuclear arms race, which it looks like we’re losing.

Obama Years:

First of all the Obama government continued NATO expansion by adding Albania and Croatia to the alliance.

He also made a chump out of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev by lying him into supporting the Libya resolution in the UN Security Council. Obama’s government claimed they were only going to launch a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Benghazi in Libya’s east, and then used the resolution as cover to launch a nine-month long regime change war on behalf of the Libyan veterans of Iraq War II – those who had fought for al Qaeda in Iraq there: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Ansar al Sharia, who have helped turn the country into a free-fire zone in the decade since.

If you know nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Even libertarians, often times blind to history and context, see these problems through TV and John McCain’s eyes. For example, the crisis in Ukraine in 2014. “Freedom is being threatened by Russian aggression!” the narrative went, which could not have been further from the truth. It was a battle over spheres of influence. Ours is the entire sphere. Theirs is inside their own borders only, and even then only for the time being. As National Endowment for Democracy head Carl Gershman threatened in the Washington Post in September of 2013, just as the U.S.-backed Ukrainian Maidan movement was getting started, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, in, say, Canada. The Russians, after having won the Cold War had begun incorporating all of Latin America into the Warsaw Pact and then even used neo-Nazis to do a street putsch against the government in Ottawa, then helping them launch a war against the people of Vancouver, BC for refusing to recognize the new coup junta and threatening to overthrow the government in Washington D.C. next.

Right. We’d go to war over it. Those crazy, liberty-hating Russians though? They’ll just have to learn to get used to it.

Now, it is certain that the very worst things that Russia has done in this century has been their involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Syria. But it is important to note that first of all, in both cases the U.S. started it, not Russia. In Ukraine Putin sent deniable special operations types into the eastern Donbass region to help defend it. Like that or not, what they did not do was invade the country with any conventional force or take any territory in the east. When the Donbass region held a referendum and voted to ask to join the Russian federation in 2015, Putin refused. He would help them to maintain their autonomy from the hostile regime in Kiev only. More than ten thousand people were killed in the 2014-2015 war there – there is still some fighting – but the vast majority of these were Ukrainian civilians and militia fighters killed by the Kiev government, not pro-regime Ukrainians killed by Russian invaders. Nevermind the truth. The narrative is what counts on TV. Except in this case there’s hardly even a narrative at all. Just the endlessly repeated slogans “Russian aggression” and “Russian seizure of Crimea” without any explanation or context.

Well here is some context on the subject of Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014: Russia won the Crimean Peninsula away from the Turks back in the 1780s, when America was still under the Articles of Confederation. It is part of Russia like New York is part of the U.S.A.. The only reason it was under Ukrainian control at all was because Soviet First Secretary and Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave it to them by decree in 1954 in order to shore up Ukrainian support for his rise to power after the death of dictator Joseph Stalin. At that point it made no difference since they were all answerable to the Kremlin first. The population is something like 60% Russian, 14% Turkic Tatars and 25% Ukrainian, and in the generation between the fall of the Soviet Union and the events of the last decade, Crimea had maintained a great deal of autonomy from the central government in Kiev. After the 2014 coup, three former Ukrainian presidents signed a letter demanding that Russia be expelled from the naval base at Sevastopol where they had maintained a naval presence on lease on after the end of the Cold War. Instead Putin ordered his men to leave their bases and take control of the Peninsula. Not a single person was killed. Two warning shots were fired and that was it. A referendum was quickly held, and better than a super-majority of the people of the peninsula voted to join the Russian federation. Later independent polling confirmed the results.

Putin later joked in a speech by way of explanation that:

“[L]et me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organization, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.”

Again, when the eastern Donbass region tried to join Russia, Putin said no. The U.S. and its clients were threatening Russia’s vital interest in the warm water naval port at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. That’s the only reason they moved there. The status quo had held for 23 years since the red flag came down. The Russians were happy to lease the port and otherwise stay out. It was the U.S. that forced a change in the situation, and it blew up in their face.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend you-all look up and check out the clip of Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose on the old Stephen Colbert show bragging about the Kiev coup; about how easy it was and how we’re stealing this important strategic asset away from Russia while Putin is distracted with the Sochi Olympics so he can’t do anything about it. This was similar to Victoria Nuland and Geoffery Pyatt’s leaked discussion about getting the regime change all settled before Putin could figure out how to react. Just as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, the hawks’ hubris is unparalleled and is constantly their undoing.

And on Russia’s role in Syria: the various armed uprisings against the Assad regime in 2011 and 2012 would have been quickly destroyed by the regime there if the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel had not intervened on behalf of the supposed revolution, which was very quickly dominated by the jihadist followers of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s group from Iraq War II. Instead, U.S. and allied intervention on behalf of the bin Ladenites, motivated primarily by an animus against the Assad regime for its alliance with Iran, led directly to the rise of the Islamic State, which conquered western Iraq in 2014 and raised the real threat in 2015 that a combined assault against Damascus by advancing terrorist forces could lead to a fall of the regime. Only then, after Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan and John Kerry’s treason threatened a final victory for al Qaeda and/or ISIS in the capital city, did Russia finally enter the war in 2015. There’s no excusing the massive civilian so-called collateral damage inflicted on the people of Syria by the Russian air force flying on behalf of their government, but again, none of this would have happened if the U.S.A. and its allies didn’t create such a dangerous situation in the first place. If you listen to them now, the hawks are all screaming that Russia has returned to the Middle East after 25 years, but since it’s their fault, we shouldn’t listen to them. Half the time the same people boast that the Russians can’t afford it and that we like to see them bogged down in an expensive fight far from home. By the way, all three major chemical attacks blamed on Bashar al Assad’s government, in 2013, 2017 and 2018 were all hoaxes perpetrated by the bin Ladenites to try to increase U.S. support for their cause. In the latter two cases they got it.

Trump Years:

Donald Trump ran, for one thing, on the promise that he wanted to “get along with Russia.” Not that he had any real idea what issues divided the U.S. and Russia or what should be done about them. He simply possessed the completely pedestrian insight that the Evil Empire ceased to exist more than a generation ago, and that his predecessors’ failures to forge a peaceful coexistence and partnership with Russia by this late date should be placed at their own feet. He has also parroted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advice that the U.S. should seek partnership with Russia to divide them from and use them against China – getting the answer half-right for the wrong reason. But when Trump hired Paul Manafort, the lobbyist for foreign states who had worked for the previous, Russian-backed President, Viktor Yanukovych, in March 2016, they panicked. Nevermind that Manafort if anything was serving American interests attempting to persuade Ukrainian President Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to lean toward the U.S. and EU and away from Russia, they had a narrative to run with: Trump doesn’t just want to get along with Russia, he wants to give them the keys to the entire castle! Collusion!

Now I really don’t know what you know, so let me tell you, Russiagate was just a big fake hoax. CIA Director Brennan and FBI Director Comey and their underlings knew that the entire story of Russian interference and Trump Campaign “collusion” was nonsense. The investigation was the end in itself.

After the leaks about Russia’s supposed hack of the DNC emails failed to stop Trump’s election, the CIA and Democrats – I know this sounds so crazy it sounds like I’m the one who’s crazy, but really, check my facts in the New York Times – they wanted to have acting CIA Director Mike Morell brief the Electoral College that Trump cheated with the Russians to win and so they should throw the election to Hillary, or at least to the House of Representatives which could then name House Speaker Paul Ryan or former Secretary of State Colin Powell to take his place. That of course went nowhere. Someone must have finally told them those electors come from the state parties, not the D.C. suburbs, and there’s no way in the world they were going to give Trump’s win to anyone else. Then three days before his inauguration came the completely fake and stupid “intelligence assessment,” which is a made-up thing, written by a quote “hand-picked by Brennan” few, in place of a real National Intelligence Estimate, and which contained exactly zero substance whatsoever. This was followed by the leaking of the completely fake and stupid Christopher Steele Dossier alleging Trump’s full subordination to Russia and its goals going back for years. Of course the basis for the story was that the FBI’s Comey had warned Trump about the fake accusations against him in the first place.

After Trump fired Comey, the leaders of the Department of Justice plotted to try to invoke the 25th Amendment and get the cabinet to vote to remove him from power. Once they were sure they would fall short if they tried it, they settled on the plan to just pretend to investigate the fake plot for another two years. If they couldn’t get rid of him, they could at least “reign him in,” as FBI officials told CNN.

Amazingly, they kept this lie going for just short of three years; well, dozens of them: The DNC and Podesta email hacks, which they have never proven were done by Russia and later admitted they have no proof of a chain of custody to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange; Manafort’s supposed handling of Trump for Putin, which of course was never prosecuted because it was not true; George Papadopoulos and rumored stolen emails, which was revealed to all be an FBI/CIA set-up in the first place; Carter Page’s alleged deal to lift Russia sanctions – Yeah sure, the Russians promised someone with no pull inside the Trump campaign a 19% ownership stake in Gasprom, the giant Russian government-owned oil firm, if only he would seize control of America’s sanctions policy for them. It turned out in the end that Page was actually a CIA asset whom the agency had told the FBI was a solid guy and no traitor at all, which the FBI censored from their FISA search warrant application against him, alleging a pretended belief that he was an agent of the Kremlin in order to keep the investigation going. Then there was Senator Sessions’s substanceless meetings with the Russian ambassador in his office and at a public speech, Gen. Mike Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, which was spun as treason for Russia when in reality he was asking a favor of them on behalf of Israel – oops; endless snipe hunts for pee tapes which even Steel’s source admitted was made up; the big nothing Trump Tower meeting that we were told for years was the certain key to lock up the President’s son for treason, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s non-existent trip to Prague to arrange for the Russian Facebook ad campaign that in fact was not run by the Russian government at all, was not aimed at influencing the election and flatly did not do so; the Russian plot to hack Vermont’s power grid and C-SPAN TV; the “PropOrNot” blacklist of good journalists; the secret server communicating with Russian intelligence that was just a Trump Hotels spam bot; the Russians’ supposed invention of the Black Lives Matter movement to stir up those otherwise perfectly contented survivors of state violence; weaponized cricket chirps at the U.S. embassy in Cuba – yeah, no, really, the U.S. government said the Russians and Cubans were using a mind control beam weapon that was causing all sorts of terrible psychosomatic effects on the poor State Department victims therein; the Russian hacking of all the state parties’ voter rolls was an obvious joke long before they admitted it. You can go ahead and start with a scoff when the reports are coming from the Department of Homeland Security. They just want some attention. Then there was the Russian GRU’s alleged intervention in Brexit, in French, German and EU Parliamentary and other elections throughout Europe, and Putin’s supposed influence looming behind Trump’s choice of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State job, and then later arranging his eventual firing. Virtually all of these were eventually walked back or abandoned, with another few thousand dishonest claims and smears against everyone who knew better along with them.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller could have let it be known from at least near the very beginning of his appointment as Special Council in 2017 that their investigation was not pointing to the fact that the President of the United States was guilty of treason in league with the Kremlin to destroy our democracy and all. As Bob Woodward explained in his 2018 book, Fear, Trump told his lawyer to give Mueller’s team every scrap of paper from the 2016 campaign, no problem, not a thing to hide in the world. Just as Woodward understood and the Department of Justice must have, this meant that from the very beginning there was nothing there to find. They could have made that most important part of the story clear in a reasonable amount of time after that. Instead we got 1,000 leaks from the spies and the feds for another two years trying to make us believe it was all true. When Buzzfeed somehow crossed the line by falsely claimed that Bush had instructed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, Mueller quickly put out a press release denying that was true. But whether the sitting president was guilty of High Treason, of past and current subordination to the most dangerous foreign power on the planet? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait and wonder and watch TV speculate for a couple years until we get back to you.

And “reigning Trump in” has worked, in spades. As Tulsi Gabbard pointed out in a great piece in The Hill last week, Trump doesn’t have the intelligence or the strength to stand up to the National Security State’s onslaught. Desperate to prove what a traitor he’s not to the foreign policy establishment, Trump betrays the American people and his promise to end the recent era of enmity and work things out with Russia. Instead he’s overseen the addition of Montenegro and Macedonia to NATO; sent more American troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltics, including provocative military exercises and parades within just yards of the Russian border; and where Obama, the first black president to support a Nazi coup, was afraid to arm the regime forces who attacked their countrymen in the eastern Donbass region for fear of a real escalation into war with Russia, Donald Trump has gone ahead and sent arms to Ukraine’s Nazi-infested armed forces – sniper rifles, armed boats, RPGs and Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of non-lethal equipment like Humvees, night vision goggles, radars and armor, along with training and joint military exercises. All this just incentivizes more violence after the major Minsk II peace deal has already been signed, calm is mostly reigning and talks continue.

If you can believe it, the House of Representatives of the United States of America actually recently impeached President Trump over allegedly holding up part of this arms deal for a few days until he could generate some bad PR for ex-Vice President Biden who we know was intimately involved in the 2014 coup and whose son got an in-name-only job at a major Ukrainian gas company in the aftermath for a cool $85,000 per month – that’s a million dollars per year – which he blew on crack and sex workers while cheating on his wife and dead brother’s widow at the same time. But anyway, holding up that arms deal was really bad, the Democrats thought, worse than genocide in Yemen, worse than doubling down on a lost war in Afghanistan and much worse than picking a fight with Russia, which is what he’s actually been doing.

Under Trump the U.S. Navy has stepped up its presence in the Black and Baltic seas and armed U.S. frigates in the Baltic with medium range cruise missiles that reduce first strike warning times, which of course makes the Russians’ launch-on-warning trigger finger itch that much worse.

And worst of all Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and threatened to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and let New START expire next year.

Then again, when he proposes negotiations for a grand new nuclear deal between the U.S. and Russia, the media slam him as naïve and dangerous and only proving once again what an treacherous agent of the dastardly Vladimir Putin he is.

An important note about the INF Treaty: The MK-41 missile launchers Obama installed in Romania and Poland are supposedly for firing defensive missiles, but they also fit medium range Tomahawk cruise missiles. So the U.S. broke at least the spirit of the INF Treaty first, just as with the ships in the Baltic Sea. Russia then developed some new missiles that were probably also in violation – but were only being used for deployment near Russia’s frontier with China. But guess what? That’s why the U.S. wanted out of the treaty too, so they could deploy medium range missiles against China. So instead of saying, hold on now, and trying to negotiate a continuation, this important Reagan-era treaty that kept medium range nuclear missiles out of Europe for 30 years is now dead.

Perhaps worst of all is Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which, like Trump’s official National Security Strategy, announced a return to “great power competition,” specifically citing the Russian “threat” and called for the development and deployment of more low-yield, “usable” nuclear bombs and missiles (more on those in a minute), announced that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even denounces the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which of course America signed back in 1968, promising to abolish our nuclear weapons stockpile completely, but has always ignored anyway.

What’s it all about?

Well it ain’t the threat of Soviet Communism, dead and gone 30 years now.

And it ain’t “Russian Aggression” which exists only in the minds of their aggressive accusers. Russia’s GDP last year was 3 trillion dollars. When you include the VA and the energy department’s care and feeding of the nuke stockpile, the U.S. spends a trillion dollars per year on the military. Russia spends $60 billion. We have more than a million-man army spread throughout the world. They have 750,000 and they almost all stay home, except special operations types in Ukraine and those and some air power in Syria, where, again, the U.S. has provoked their intervention through irresponsible policies in the first place.

The Russians have one broken down old diesel-powered aircraft carrier. America has 11 nuclear-powered carrier battle groups throughout the world at all times, 20 carriers overall. The U.S. has more than 3 times the amount of military aircraft as the Russians when including the U.S. air force and navy.

But Congressman Schiff says we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.

And there is no reason to believe that Vladimir Putin is dumb enough to try to make the same old mistake and invade and occupy foreign territory at all. What does he need from the eastern European states that he cannot trade for – other than possibly a defensive “land cushion” to their west to protect them from American aggression?

It’s the money. As Richard Cummings did such a great job of explaining in his 2007 article “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” the 1990s-era U.S. Committee To Expand NATO was a project of Lockheed Vice-President Bruce Jackson. The whole thing was just meant to be a racket for selling jets either directly to the eastern European states, or failing that, to force the American taxpayer to pick up the tab for them.

A fun anecdote about that: back in the spring of 2014, Harper’s magazine reporter Andrew Cockburn reported that he had a source who had been at a big party at Crystal City outside of Washington, D.C. – an area heavy with military contractors and lobbyists – the night it was announced that the Russian sailors were leaving their bases and seizing the Crimean Peninsula. They all started laughing and cheering and celebrating. Forget patrolling peasants in Afghanistan, a massive buildup against the renewed Russian Threat was exactly the conflict these men were looking for; threatening the future of our entire species so they don’t have to get real jobs.

You’ll note that the Navy and Air Force are more concerned with implementing their Air/Sea Battle doctrines in East Asia, while the Special Operations Command is doubling down in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and on into West Africa.

It’s all in the game. The entire U.S. military is, as they themselves call it, a “self-licking ice cream cone.”

Full-Spectrum Dominance is a government program; as such it is the means and the end in itself. And so it goes.

Nukes.

The elephant in the room here of course are the hydrogen bombs, otherwise known as thermonuclear fusion bombs or “strategic” nuclear weapons. One of these in the high kiloton or low megaton range can kill your entire city in a single shot.

Barack Obama pushed a massive appropriation toward revamping the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal as well as a complete overhaul of the entire industry; all the factories and national laboratories too. They started by saying the project would cost 1 trillion dollars. Now it’s 1.75 trillion. We’ll be lucky if it’s only 3 or 4 trillion dollars by the time their done. (This after spending almost 6 trillion on the current arsenal during the last arms race with Russia in the 20th century.) A recent article in Defense One said:

“Modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is Pentagon leaders’ top priority. The Pentagon, in its fiscal 2021 budget request, asked Congress to approve [another] $28.9 billion to maintain its existing weapons and buy new intercontinental ballistic missiles, [a new generation of] stealth bombers, submarines, cruise missiles, warheads and communications equipment. The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has requested $15.6 billion for its nuclear weapons projects.”

Much of the time, if you listen to the DC wonks talk about it, the nukes just go without saying. Of course everybody knows that both sides are armed to the teeth with them still, but so then they just seem to get left out, leaving entire plans and discussions about war revolving around the idea that we could really just fight a conventional war with Russia like in some fun fantasy of a junior tank officer or a stay-at-home PlayStation general.

But both sides still have about 2,000 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs deployed, with approximately another 6-7,000 each in reserve. This is still way down from the height of the arms race the last time around in which both sides built up nuclear weapons arsenals in the tens of thousands of bombs.

Possibly even more dangerous than the multi-megaton city-killers are the new dial-a-yield bombs, capable of being detonated at “usable” low-yield strengths in the 10s or even single digit kilotons. They also come with new and improved proximity fuses that make them far more accurate. This might sound like an improvement, but at the same time it makes the actual use of these weapons seem far more plausible to the men in control of them. It was only just announced a few weeks ago that the first of the new generation of these weapons have been deployed on U.S. submarines.

The Americans have a theory that Russia’s new military doctrine in Europe is to “escalate to de-escalate” – that is, in the event of war, to use one small nuke to dissuade any further escalation by our side. But the U.S. wants them to know that that won’t work: the U.S. will escalate back, not disengage. To drive this point home a story was recently leaked about a war game earlier this month which included the use by Russia of a low-yield nuke under their new doctrine. So in the simulation, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper immediately nuked them right back. Hans Christianson from the Federation of American Scientists says this leak was also a public relations stunt to get Congress to fund the new submarine-launched low-yield cruise missile they want to develop.

(In Andrew Cockburn’s book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy, he describes how the former Secretary of Defense, filling in as the president while playing Continuity of Government games in the 1990s, would always blow up the world, every chance he got. Even when the game was designed to provide off ramps from full Omnicide, he still went for it every time.)

In real life, this type of exchange, beginning with so-called tactical nukes, would almost certainly devolve into general nuclear war and the destruction of the northern hemisphere and the starvation of billions more, as a war simulation carried out by Princeton University demonstrated last year. Any people who survived would have been set back centuries. Even an extremely “limited” nuclear war, such as between India and Pakistan, could kill as many people as all who died in World War II in a single day. The soot from the fires, rising high above the clouds where it cannot be rained out, could be enough to darken our sunlight enough to cause nuclear winter, massive global crop failures and the deaths of billions.

And for what? To keep Russia from occupying Tallinn or Vilnius, cities most Americans have never heard of and certainly would never have signed up to be wiped off the face of the earth over?

In another recent DoD exercise, Russia nukes first and the U.S. responds by nuking their ally Belarus. Who comes up with this stuff?

If you want to know how crazy America’s nuclear weapons policy really is, please read The Doomsday Machine by the great Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. He was also a nuclear war planner and has some serious things to tell you in there. For example, back in the ’50s, the one and only nuclear war plan said that in the event of a crisis with the Soviets, in, say, West Berlin, the U.S. would nuke every single city in the Soviet Union and China. Though that was revised somewhat in the Kennedy years, anecdotes since that time are not reassuring. Old “Iron Ass” Dick Cheney was said to be astonished and disturbed when seeing a simulation of a U.S. nuclear war against Russia which included scores and scores of strikes on Moscow, long after it would have ceased to exist. Every service wants two cracks at every target because what if the first shot is a dud? Better make it three air force gravity bombs, two ICBMs, two Tomahawk cruise missiles and a couple of sub-launched Polaris missiles at this one radar station on the edge of town, just to be sure. And every new weapon invented and deployed is added to the list while the old ones remain. Year after year it adds up to just comic book-crazy scenarios such as nuking cities full of people and then the empty craters over and over and over again. As Ellsberg recounted, when he left his first viewing of Dr. Strangelove, he and a RAND Corporation college said to each other, that wasn’t satire; it was a documentary.

It seems crazy and alarmist to even consider. After all, what could we really have to fight about with Russia now that’s more important that all the crises of the first Cold War era? But it is crazy. And that’s why we should be alarmed. And we should do everything we can to shout down those ignorant TV-slogan repeating myna birds in our communities who have climbed on board the bandwagon on this.

It’s no different than the demonization of any of the U.S. government’s enemies here and around the world: virtually the entire popular narrative is fake.

Of course the older generation is used to hating Russia and the young have been sold a line of garbage about “Russian aggression” throughout Eastern Europe, and of course the Russiagate hoax and Putin inflicting Trump upon our land.

But the U.S.A., not Russia, is the World Empire. And it shouldn’t be. Primacy in the Old World is a Fool’s Errand. This is the middle part of North America. Our supposed limited constitutional republic should never have tried it. And while it’s possible that economic catastrophe could end the era of attempted predominance before a nuclear war does, it seems like the more responsible course would be to recognize the self-destructive nature of our current policy and just call it all off now while we’re ahead.

In truth, neither Russia nor Germany nor anyone else has any interest whatsoever in starting a war in Eastern Europe. It is the U.S.A. which has picked this fight.

Of course in the current political climate any statement or position that contains anything better than the most overly simplistic, “other side”-bashing, fearmongering point of view is spun from on high as not just “pro-Russian,” but also “obviously-secretly-controlled-by-Russia” because what other explanation for someone not believing the hype could there possibly be?

But that’s why the current political climate must change. Already the most recent false accusations about Russia’s supposed support for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have fallen flat amongst all but those most determined to believe it about the other side. But last week, as the writer Matt Taibbi noted, Trump’s approval rating went up, while Sanders cleaned up in Nevada the day after the smear story was launched. Of course the entire story was later walked back, like all the rest of them.

America’s relationship with Russia is the single most important matter facing humanity. We all deserve policies that will bring an end to the current system which requires a perpetual nuclear sword hanging over all of our necks while tragic proxy conflicts are waged against innocent people and the threat of a real war breaking out is higher than at any time since the early 1980s, if not the early 1960s.

This essential issue is one where libertarians can lead by telling the truth and demanding an end to this insane game of militarism and global hegemony so that we can truly live in peace and prosperity together.

Thank you very much.

Iraq War IV?

Iraq War IV?

The U.S.A. has been bombing Iraq for 29 years. And it looks like it’s not over yet:

Iraq War I: January—February 1991 (aka The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, liberation of Kuwait)

Iraq War I 1/2: February 1991—March 2003 (The rest of Bush I, Bill Clinton years, economic blockade and no-fly zone bombings)

Iraq War II: March 2003—December 2011 (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom, W. Bush’s invasion and war for the Shi’ite side)

Iraq War III: August 2014—December 2017 (aka Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State, which America had helped to build up in Syria but then launched this war to destroy, on behalf of the Shi’ite government in Baghdad, after ISIS had seized the predominately Sunni west of the country in the early summer of 2014 and declared the Islamic State “Caliphate”)

Iraq War III 1/2: December 2017—January 2020 (The “mopping-up” war against the remnants of ISIS which has had the U.S. still allied with the very same Shi’ite militias they fought Iraq War II and III for, but are now attacking)

Iraq War IV: Now—?

In 1953, the American CIA overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran in favor of the Shah Reza Pahlavi who ruled a dictatorship there for 26 years until in 1979 a popular revolution overthrew his government and installed the Shi’ite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in power.

So in 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s government gave Iraq’s Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Iran, a war which the U.S. continued to support throughout the Ronald Reagan years, though they also sold weapons to the Iranian side at times.

But then in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in a dispute over debts from the recent war with Iran, with some encouragement by the U.S. government, leading to America’s Iraq War I, aka the first Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm at the beginning of 1991.

They said it was a quick and easy war, except in the aftermath, again with the encouragement of the U.S. government, the Iraqi majority Shi’ite population in alliance with the Sunni Kurds in Iraq’s north rose up to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s secular, Sunni Arab-dominated dictatorship.

But then President Bush Sr. changed his mind and let Saddam Hussein keep his attack helicopters and enough tanks to crush the uprising, leading to the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

Why did Bush Sr. change his mind? Because the Iraqi “traitors” among the Shi’ites who had chosen religious sect over ethnic and national sect during the 1980s, and had fled to Iran and fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war, especially the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, had begun to come across the border from Iran to lead the revolution. The Americans realized they were reversing the 1980s policy of supporting Iraq’s Baathist regime to contain the Iranian Shi’ite revolution and were now importing it into Iraq. So Bush Sr. choked and called it off.

Next, protecting the Shi’ite and Kurdish population the U.S. had just encouraged and betrayed became the excuse for the U.S. to maintain it’s newly expanded military presence in Arabia. It was declared that the U.S. and UK, and originally France as well, would have to maintain “no-fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq for the duration, which were the occasion for hundreds of bombings throughout the 1990s.

At the same time they maintained the pre-war economic blockade against the country in the name of making the people so weak and desperate that they would rise up and overthrow the Hussein government for the U.S. now after their one chance had been spent. Hundreds of thousands of people were deprived to death.

The U.S. military presence in Arabia to wage this half-state of war against Iraq then became the major motivation for bin Laden and his associates, who had fought with U.S. support against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to turn against the United States, which they did, beginning with the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

But Israel’s government, and the American neoconservative movement which was closely associated with it, was more concerned about Iran.

In 1996, neoconservative David Wurmser and his associates Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and a few others advised then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the best way to weaken Iranian influence in Syria and southern Lebanon would be to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” Their friend the Iraqi exile and criminal Ahmed Chalabi, whose “Iraqi National Congress” had its headquarters in Tehran, said it was going to be great. The new Iraq will help America dominate Iran, cut off Hamas and Hezbollah and build an oil and water pipeline to Haifa!

When the consequences of staying in Saudi Arabia after Iraq War I came on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government, led by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives they had appointed to high office, took the opportunity to launch Iraq War II to overthrow Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

But it did not work out like the neocons had promised.

Instead, essentially all they had done was pick up right where the Bush Sr. government left off. Less than a year into the occupation, the Shi’ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani demanded one-man, one-vote democracy. This led directly to the rise of the also-Iranian-backed Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance, who, under American supervision, wrote Iraq’s new constitution in late 2004 and won total control over the new parliament in the “purple-finger” elections of January 2005.

The Bush government was happy to deal with the Alliance’s Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Da’wa Party. Every Prime Minster since then has been from these two parties. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s military worked hand in glove with SCIRI and their militia, the Badr Corps. This was the very same Iranian-backed militia that had been living in Iran since 1980 and had fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war; the very same men whose presence among the Shi’ite uprising against Hussein in 1991 had caused Bush’s father to withdraw support for the revolution. Now the U.S. was putting them directly in power.

In 2004 the U.S. launched the “El Salvador Option,” empowering the Badr Brigade to hunt down and torture and murder the leaders of the growing Sunni-based insurgency. General David Petraeus used SCIRI’s Badr Brigade as the core of the new Iraqi Army, and during the “surge” of 2007–2008 helped them win their civil war, giving them total dominance over the capital city of Baghdad and the central government of Iraq, while pushing the Sunni-based insurgency, and ultimately the predominately Sunni western parts of the country into the arms of al Qaeda in Iraq, aka the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

But in the middle of all this, they realized their mistake. The Israelis had already decided to play their own game with the Iraqi Kurds. The Saudi king was angry and had been financing the Sunni insurgency against the U.S. and the Shi’ite parties in the war. So the Bush administration decided to launch what they called “the Redirection.”

This was the plan to put the U.S. back on the side of its client Sunni kingdoms in Arabia, allied with Israel, Jordan and Turkey against the newly expanded Shi’ite alliance of Tehran, Damascus, Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and now Baghdad, to try to somehow make up for the war they had just fought for the Shi’ite government in Iran that they all hated so much.

So that’s why Obama worked with Saudi and other regional allies to back al Qaeda in Iraq in Syria’s uprising against the Iranian-allied Baathist regime in Damascus. He wasn’t a secret Muslim terrorist from Kenya. He was George W. Bush.

However, instead of simply creating a bin Ladenite emirate in eastern Syria that would focus on moving west against the Assad government in Damascus, the Iraqi-led faction of al Qaeda in Syria, ISIS, decided to move east and conquer all of predominately Sunni western Iraq in June 2014. They then declared the establishment of a new bin Ladenite Islamic State straddling the old border between Iraq and Syria.

The “Islamo-fascist caliphate” of George W. Bush’s most ridiculous propaganda and Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams had come to life – thanks to Bush’s Iraq War II and Obama’s overt action in Syria.

Though they resented the Shi’ites, the establishment of the Sunni-bin Ladenite Islamic State caliphate in Iraq was too much. A sort of Islamist Khmer Rouge, ISIS threatened America’s oil interests in Kurdistan and the Shi’ite regime in Baghdad as well as being an overall “embarrassment” for the Obama government.

So they launched Iraq War III in 2014–2017 to help the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Iraqi government and its paramilitary militias destroy the radical Sunni state they had built to spite the Iranian-Shi’ite regional alliance they had fought Iraq War II for.

Iranian influence in Syria was also only increased during this time as U.S. and allied support for the bin Ladenites necessitated the Assad regime’s turning to Iran and Hezbollah for defense against them, turning Syria from an Iranian ally to a dependent.

Which brings us to the recent conflict. More than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in country fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency in western Iraq. It is doing so in cooperation with the Shi’ite-dominated Baghdad government and its paramilitary forces such as the Badr Brigade, Katib Hezbollah and Asaib Al al-Haq.

But over the past six months or so the Israelis, with the cooperation of the U.S. have been launching air strikes against some of these militias. However, when one militia fired rockets at U.S. bases in response on December 27, killing a contractor and wounding two American soldiers, this was labeled the first day in history and pure “Iranian aggression,” though it is unknown whether Iran’s forces were truly involved in the attack.

The U.S. then attacked Katib Hezbollah bases, killing approximately 25 and causing a massive reaction among the major Shi’ite parties and leaders in the country and a controlled semi-riot at the U.S. embassy. No lives were truly threatened but this was clearly seen as a threat of a future Benghazi-type assault on the American embassy there.

In response, on January 3, Trump escalated massively by ordering the killing of the second or third most powerful man in Iran, Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Qods Force – essentially their special operations command. Apparently, graffiti implicating Soleimani at the scene of the riot turned into his death warrant. (Endless accusations in the media that Iran and Soleimani were responsible for the deaths of 600 American soldiers in Iraq War II are false.)

It turns out that the protest was led in part by Hadi al-Ameri – the head of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade and member of the ruling coalition in parliament! And now his old close associates David Petraeus and Barack Obama are pretending not to know him.

Ironically, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out, this is all happening right when Iran and Soleimani’s reputation were at a low ebb in Iraq due to the Qods Force helping to organize a lethal over-reaction to the recent protest movement breaking out among the Shi’ites there. That’s over now.

Iran’s response may have come already in the form of the Iraqi Parliament’s vote on Sunday to expel U.S. forces (and file an official complaint against the U.S. at the United Nations).

If Ayatollah Khamenei is smart he’ll take this political victory as good enough and avoid further escalation of the violence, which could cost the U.S., Iraq and Iran all terribly: the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops and a zillion dollars’ worth of equipment within Iranian missile range in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi, Oman and UAE, as well as economic targets of unquantifiable value all up and down the west side of the Persian Gulf.

At the same time, the U.S. has enough firepower to completely decimate Iran, even without using nuclear weapons, if it came down to a real war. (By the way, is there anything in the world that Ayman al Zawahiri would like to see more than a U.S. war against the mullahs of Iran other than his own rear end on Pharaoh Sisi’s throne in Egypt?)

Mutually assured destruction has kept the relative peace thus far, but Americans should insist that the U.S. military leave Iraq immediately. Iraq War III is over. The “territorial caliphate,” as Trump calls it, has been destroyed and Baghdad’s sovereignty over western Iraq restored. If our best Iraqi allies that we’ve helped win two major wars in the last 17 years are such bad guys that we want to bomb their leaders, then now must be the perfect time to quit this war once and for all.

The U.S.A. has no real reason to fight Iran or their and our Iraqi friends. They do not threaten the American people. They only stand in the way of American political and military dominance over the Middle East. That ship has already sailed. If people are sad that Iran has increased its power and influence over the region in the past 20 years, they need to take that up with George W. Bush and Joe Biden. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.

Again, the U.S. has only a few thousand troops in the country to help these same Shi’ite forces fight against what’s left of AQI/ISIS. We do not have anything like the forces necessary to turn around and fight against the Shi’ite army and militias even if we had a good reason to do so.

Trump claims he ordered this killing to have the last word. To “stop a war not to start one.” As reckless as this is, it does seem to accurately reflect his intention. Secretary of State Pompeo immediately started calling for a time-out on Twitter, insisting that the U.S. was intent on “de-escalating” the conflict from here on.

On Sunday afternoon, Iran announced they were withdrawing from more of the restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal the U.S. left two years ago. Even if they quit the whole deal now, it would mean little since they are still within the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA. However, we can expect the usual suspects to pretend to believe that they are embarking on a new nuclear weapons program starting presently.

But so far there is still no real crisis other than what our government has made.

Twenty-nine years of bombing one country is enough. Starting Iraq War IV out of spite over the results of Iraq Wars II and III would be the height of folly and assuredly an unmitigated disaster.

Instead, let’s call the whole thing off and bring our troops home.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

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