Hey Mr. President, End Some Wars On Your Way Out

Hey Mr. President, End Some Wars On Your Way Out

Donald Trump may or may not be president much longer. But he has an opportunity to actually follow through on the better promises he’s teased his base with for years. Namely, he could end some “endless wars.”

Since he launched his campaign five years ago, Trump has been rhetorically good on various foreign policy issues, albeit very sporadically. Yet as early as the 2015 primary debates, it was nearly always obvious that he had a fondness for surveillance, torture, “bombing the shit out” of ISIS, and Fox News style jingoism.

Commendably though, a key difference between Donald Trump’s base as compared to the Biden camp, or even the Bernie Sanders types, is that they seem to really respond to and even demand that the president stand against the establishment. Other rightful objects of their contempt include the Bushes, the Clintons, “stupid wars,” “endless wars,” the military industrial complex, and even NATO, the anachronistic, war seeking military alliance.

Trump’s talking points may seem supremely disingenuous to those that judge him by his actions and his rhetoric as a whole. But those aforementioned aberrations mean a lot to a great many Americans.

It’s true, Trump has been loyal and servile to war profiteers, his Israel firster benefactor Sheldon Adelson, his Saudi allies, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the anti-Iran, anti-China neocons.

But impressively, more than any other President in memory, he has won himself the support of regular people for his nominal stance against the war party. That the new right tolerates this mostly oratorical position from Trump, and often supports him for it, is a massive, positive shift in political and cultural values from the Bush II, Obama years. Though it leaves much to be desired, this development should not be taken lightly. It’s more than we can say for the bulk of the American left who accepted, without a fight, Sanders’ long history of hawkishness, Zionism, ties to the military industrial complex, and support for anti-Russian sanctions.

In the last few months, with election day nearing, Trump talked more and more about taking the troops out of Afghanistan. In February, a peace deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban for a complete withdrawal by Spring 2021. On Twitter, Trump has hyped the possibility of having all American troops in Afghanistan back home by Christmas.

In 2017, Trump doubled the troop deployment in the Central Asian country. He loosened the rules of engagement and set records for the numbers of bombs dropped there in 2018 and 2019. There were approximately 15,000 munitions dropped in the two-year span, likely causing high civilian casualties. But troop numbers are now roughly half of what they were when he came into the office, about 4,500.

Unfortunately, violence in the country is on the rise and the Doha talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban are reportedly faltering. To continue the war, this situation can and will likely be exploited by the incoming Biden administration, and other hawks both in Kabul and D.C.

Biden has said he does not intend to withdraw, claiming the situations in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, are too ‘complicated,’ indefinitely prohibiting our extrication. This must be “normalcy’s” great return.

However, this week Trump fired his War Secretary, the Raytheon lobbyist and arch anti-China, anti-Russia hawk, Mark Esper. The acting Secretary is now Christopher Miller, formerly the Counterterrorism Chief, who seems to be signaling “it’s time to come home.” What’s more, the antiwar, retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor has been appointed as a senior advisor to Miller. For anybody who wishes to end the endless wars, that is undoubtably a good sign.

Macgregor is on the record opposing the war in Syria. And as for the 19-year-old war in Afghanistan, he advocates a running not walking, immediate withdrawal.

Dave Decamp, assistant news editor at Antiwar.com, covered the personnel change and quoted the retired Colonel:

In January, Macgregor told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that President Trump should fulfill his promise to end the war in Afghanistan:

“There is one man, only one man who can take decisive action and end this. His name is Donald Trump. He promised to do that a long time ago. He’s disappointed a lot of us because he hasn’t,” Macgregor said. “He could stand up tomorrow and pull us out, but he needs to send everyone out of the Oval Office who keeps telling him, ‘If you do that and something bad happens, it’s going to be blamed on you, Mr. President.’”

Trump should heed Macgregor’s advice and thwart the hawks.

Additionally, Trump has said he wants to finally take the troops out of Iraq. As the indispensable, former congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul wrote back in August,

Earlier this month, while meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, President Trump reaffirmed his intent to remove all US troops from Iraq. “We were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly,” the president told reporters at the time…Over the weekend, the Administration announced it would be drawing down troops currently in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,500. That’s a good start.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi has since confirmed that, at least, 2,500 troops have been removed. Regrettably, this is apparently part of a three-year long withdrawal process. While he is still able to, Trump should jettison the protracted policy and bring the remaining troops home immediately.

Trump kicked off 2020 with the brutal and illegal drone strike assassination at the Baghdad International Airport of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the mastermind of the anti-ISIS war. The general was a top Iranian political and national figure. Soleimani, who was reportedly in Iraq on a diplomatic mission, wasn’t alone when he was murdered. Among others, also bombed were Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces deputy. Had the Iranians been less restrained in their retaliation, Trump could have easily started a new war.

Following Soleimani’s extrajudicial killing, the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to end the nearly 18-year-old U.S. occupation. Trump responded by threatening to block the Iraqi government’s access to their Oil Ministry’s bank account at the New York Federal Reserve. This account holds 90% of their revenue. Trump’s threat, if seen through, would have instantly obliterated the country’s economy. He further menaced Iraq with the possibility of sanctions “like they’ve never seen before ever.”

The infamous U.S.-backed, 1990s UN sanctions regime doubtless already slaughtered Iraqis by the hundreds of thousands.

Iraq War II, Biden’s war that followed, was not a mere “blunder,” as so many pundits casually lament. It was an illegal, aggressive war, based on lies, that killed a million Iraqis, most of whom were civilians. Experts say when Biden championed the war, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he knew full well Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was known more than a decade prior to the “Shock & Awe” bombings that Saddam Hussein’s government destroyed what so called WMD they had, mostly chemical weapons supplied by the U.S. and their allies during his 1980s war with Iran. Incidentally, the Iran-Iraq war killed a million people, half on both sides. Saddam fought the war with ample support from the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan administrations, part of the anti-Iran containment strategy. Paul has discussed, at length, the lasting reverberating effects, the “blowback,” our government’s long war with Iran has had, and continues to have, throughout the region and on U.S. policy at large.

After the Iraqi parliamentary vote, the Trump administration refused to leave, absurdly describing the unwanted U.S. military presence as a “force for good,” in the region. Predictably, the usual spiel followed; we must stay to defeat ISIS anyway. Of course, Iraq’s ISIS problem was directly caused by Obama’s treasonous CIA program backing al Qaeda and their affiliates in Syria in the first place. As for that flimsy excuse to remain, here’s, Antiwar.com news editor, Jason Ditz:

The U.S. troop presence in Iraq, as U.S. officials are so often eager to remind us, is at the voluntary request of the Iraqi government. Currently, that is predicated on fighting ISIS, even though ISIS isn’t really active in Iraq anymore. There had already been talk, before the U.S. started attacking the Baghdad airport and assassinating people, that the invitation had worn out its usefulness.

The popular Iraqi nationalist, Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held a million-man march demanding that all U.S. troops leave the country. After successive decades of unprovoked U.S. proxy war, occupation, sanctions, and devastation, as a people, the least we can do for the Iraqis is to listen to them and get out now.

Trump has also expressed a desire to remove hundreds of troops from Somalia. These are troops he largely deployed in another decades long, undeclared war in another country that poses zero threat to the U.S. population. When Trump inquired with his War Department as to why we even need to be there, former Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis lied to Trump. He claimed that we are involved there to stop Times Square bombing attacks. The truth is the 2010 attempted Time Square bombing was blowback, from a well to do Pakistani American who witnessed the aftermath of a drone strike in his home country. He was attempting to avenge deaths caused by Obama’s drone war in Pakistan, which killed civilians by the tens of thousands. Trump has bombed Somalia more just in the first seven months of this year than the entire Bush II and Obama administrations combined. And in 2019, Trump bombed the country 63 times, the most in a single year so far. One of the alleged reasons for the shake up between the Pentagon and Trump was a disagreement over the pace of his planned withdrawal there. Trump should promptly end the deadly air war, as well as order all troops and Special Operations Forces back home from Somalia.

The unconstitutional U.S. wars waged against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia epitomize the legacy of the Bush II neocons and Obama/Biden’s coalition of neoconservative, neoliberal hawks. These endless regime change wars and terror wars have been with us for almost twenty years. To finally rebuke that shameful legacy, the absolute best thing that Trump could do now would be to decisively end these unconstitutional, bankrupting, bloody, no win, and totally unnecessary disasters. These conflicts have killed or caused the deaths of millions, while many millions more have been displaced. While at home, our economy continues to suffer, tens of veterans commit suicide daily, and the American people have been, and continue to be, criminally mulcted to pay for these multi trillion dollar mass murder sprees.

Enough is enough. Trump should listen to Macgregor and get to work ending the endless wars such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan before it’s too late. We know President Joe Biden won’t.

Trump knows these unprecedented moves would cement his legacy as a hero to his antiwar base and beyond. Contrarily, if he doesn’t follow through here, he’ll always just be another war criminal who lied his way in and out of the Oval Office.

We Need To Talk About the National Defense Strategy, Part I: Syria

We Need To Talk About the National Defense Strategy, Part I: Syria

Who remembers voting for all this brinksmanship with China and Russia?

It’s time we had one of those “national conversations,” we’re incessantly admonished to have by teachers, feds and talking heads. Only this conversation should be about the National Defense Strategy.

Indeed, Trump’s new war, namely against Beijing and Moscow, has been declared, though not by the proper authority, yet declared nonetheless. Worse, this war of all wars has bi partisan support.

Way, way back in 2018, the Donald Trump administration announced it was shifting overall defense priorities over from what they call “counterterrorism” to “great power competition,” with Russia and China.

So many relish saying Trump hasn’t started any new wars but this isn’t that kind of a war. This is a Cold War, this war was already being waged; Trump, since taking office, has been ceaselessly heating it up in various unprecedented ways.

The disorienting smoke grenade thrown by the intelligence community to obscure this plain reality, and compromise people’s judgment on all sides, is the baseless myth of Trump as Putin’s puppet, the White House dwelling sycophant to assorted, targeted “dictators.” (the “dictator” smear is never applied, however, to his pal Bibi Netanyahu who presides over an imperialist, apartheid state, and has been shown far more deference by Trump than even previous administrations).

Russiagate consumed the liberals’ souls and regrettably, it got over on much of the so-called left. It’s customary to hear songs of praise for a new right wing that’s ostensibly seen the light on the war issue, and yet they have not substantively opposed MAGA’s unprecedented military buildups and aggressions against China and Russia; (let alone the escalations and unspeakable brutality towards Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, a global drone policy more deadly than Obama’s, etc.). There are many libertarians too who look at Trump’s foreign policy through rose colored glasses and still paint him as an “anti-neocon.” This notion deserves to be debunked.

Syria

Syria was virtually destroyed by the American hegemon. This was done with ample support from the British, the French, the Turks, Israelis, Saudis, Qataris, etc. in a devastating proxy war, attempting to overthrow the Assad government. The aforementioned states sent and backed al Qaeda death squads there to wreak unimaginable havoc. The US, namely the CIA under Operation Timber Sycamore, and its allies spent more than a billion dollars, getting half a million people killed, and creating millions of refugees.

Russia decided to intervene, to defend an ally, Syria, where they have maintained a base for decades, and thankfully prevented Obama’s would’ve been invasion and bloody, Iraq style war.

Thus, Putin defiantly short-circuited the neocons’ and Charles Krauthammer’s Unipolar Moment.

Consequentially, this treasonous US regime change/proxy war policy, benefited Iran, along with Hezbollah, as they were further empowered having formed a great bulk of the fighting force that defeated the infamous ISIS caliphate. The so called “Islamic State” was knowingly cultivated by the U.S., and its allies. In 2012, the DIA was well aware, of this latent byproduct of the CIA’s al Nusra mujahedeen strategy. Together with the Russians and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), they pummeled and drove the assorted al Qaeda affiliates into their ultimate retreat into the Idlib province. ISIS still exists, though to a much lesser degree. However, in pockets south of Idlib and Aleppo there’s recently been some heavy fighting between the remaining ISIS and the SAA.

The fact that the neoconservatives’ war on Assad, and his Shi’ite allies, blew up in their face, and really benefited Iran and further battle-hardened Hezbollah, in and of itself, shouldn’t phase Americans one bit. The less al Qaeda and ISIS around, the better. We don’t need to be involved at all in that war, on either side, for or against Ayman al-Zawahiri’s men. In any case, we shouldn’t have provoked the Axis of Resistance’s reaction by launching the covert war in the first place. Those who did ought to be held accountable.

However, this development, viewed as a failure by the war party, is a major stick in the craw of the neoconservative, foreign policy establishment. Robbie Martin, the neocon researcher, has shown this cabal is all too adept at infecting the broader journalistic culture with propaganda. They have become increasingly capable of adapting to cultural changes and exploiting them to turn collective, domestic screws. They are the “Blob’s” radical imperial extremists. The “Blob,” is now a  commonly used term but it was originated by Ben Rhodes, a former Obama advisor. Daniel Larison, foreign policy critic, has said the phrase, “…refers in part to the tendency towards groupthink, aggression, and interference in other countries’ affairs among foreign policy pundits and think tankers.”

Trump essentially ran against the war in Syria, and is still viewed largely as opposed to it, though he has escalated the war during his whole term. He did officially end Operation Timber Sycamore, after it became so unpopular, in contrast to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s Afghanistan mujahedeen Holy War (which culminated with possibly one million dead). Although after Trump’s decision, reports began cropping up soon afterward that showed the collusion and support for the terrorists shifted from the CIA elsewhere. Israel certainly continued to back al Qaeda in the south for years, Saudi continued supporting their favored terrorists, as NATO member Turkey still does in the northwest in the Idlib province of the embattled country.

Trump and Obama carpet-bombed ISIS there illegally, in civilian populated areas too. Trump has bombed Syria over Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attacks which turned out to be false flags; such as in Douma, where OPCW elements orchestrated a cover up since exposed by whistleblowers.

He’s put troops on the ground, about 600, in fact, embedded with the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. These US troops still illegally occupy the northeastern part of the country to “secure” and “keep” the Syrian people’s oil. The deployment is designed to deprive Syrians of their desperately needed reconstruction funds that could come from the modest oil production of which Syria is capable.

Biden says he’d do much the same but with some faux humanitarian, pro regime change, pseudo justifications and more anti-Russian hostility, rhetoric.

Trump actually bombed and killed dozens, maybe hundreds, of Russians there, in a sovereign nation where the former has been invited and where we, the Americans, are the invaders. There are countless confrontations, close calls, and sometimes violent conflict between the US military and the Russian and Syrian troops. At least one SAA soldier has been killed and multiple US soldiers injured in these attacks.

Retired U.S. Army Major Danny Sjursen, former West Point history professor, and antiwar author has blasted the way US troops have been deployed in this endless war. Trump has them stealing Syria’s oil and risking their lives in unfriendly territory where they’ve illegally invaded and squatted. Sjursen incisively summarizes the chaotic nature of the ill-defined and hare brained mission:

So back to that inevitably future dead American soldier(s). Let us review just what he or she will die for exactly when his or her vehicle accidentally rolls over, aircraft crashes, patrol is bombed, or a futile firefight goes south. Well there’s always the ISIS—defeat sub-mission (disingenuously billed as Inherent Resolve’s inherent resolution raison d’être)—but the caliphate is kaput and the pervading presence of America’s infidel crusaders only justifies the jihadis lingering terror campaign. Then there’s the mission that speaks Trump’s language—protecting the corrupt and illegal concessions of Delta Crescent Energy. In other words staying on in Syria, “only for the oil”—according to the president. Of course, it’s not much oil—only an anemic 24,000 barrels per day—something like 1/500th the daily output of Saudi Arabia. So that by itself won’t do.

Netanyahu has illegally and constantly bombed Syria. In 2019, the BBC said, “Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011.”

Israeli bombings have been killing people, including in Damascus, repeatedly throughout the entire MAGA run. Jason Ditz, veteran Antiwar.com news editor, reported back in June that, “Israel attacks targets in Syria almost weekly, though they rarely discuss it publicly. The official narrative is that they’re hitting Iran, even when they aren’t, and that more attacks are to be expected.”

These Israeli attacks are never retaliated against. Here’s Ditz again, “Early on Syria often threatened to retaliate for such attacks at a time of their choosing. This has never happened, and in general Syria no longer threatens retaliation as Israel’s attacks have gotten even more frequent.”

Israel gets away with murder, and breaking international law, presumably because Syria, and her allies, are afraid that any retaliation, while justified in national self-defense as well as by traditional just war criteria, would trigger the wider regional war Israel is fostering. For the Israeli and neocon hawks, a longstanding desire for a war pitting the US versus Iran is the goal. Gareth Porter, the great investigative reporter, has written at length on this larger campaign to start said war before Trump leaves office.

In July, Muhammad Sahimi, a Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, reported on 2020’s long, hot summer of protracted U.S./Israeli covert terrorism against Iran. There were cyber-attacks and sabotage carried out against, among other targets, the Shahid Rajaee Port, the Parchin military complex, and Natanz uranium enrichment facility, “Iran’s main center for manufacturing centrifuges and enriching uranium in Iran.”

On the incessant bombings of Syria during the MAGA reign, Sahimi has said:

For over two years Israel tried to provoke Iran by attacking Iranian-backed Shiite forces in Syria, but Iran has opted not to retaliate. Since the attacks did not provoke Iran to retaliate, and also failed to dislodge Iran’s military advisers and the Shiite forces that it trained, armed, and dispatched to Syria, Israel has seemingly turned to attacking Iran directly within its borders.

Additionally, in keeping with Trump’s characteristic servility to Israel, the U.S. has recognized Israel’s illegal annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, which Tel Aviv has militarily, illegally occupied since 1973.

As Dave Decamp, Antiwar.com news editor and columnist, wrote recently,

President Trump has arguably been the most pro-Israel president of all time, recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, changing US policy to no longer consider Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal, and the so-called “Vision for Peace” that would essentially formalize apartheid rule over Palestinians.

Trump had the gall to send the vapid, rabid neocon, “ambassador” Nikki Haley down to the UN to practically be a diplomat for ISIS, al Qaeda in Idlib, and elsewhere, covering for their false flags, on numerous embarrassing occasions.

Foreign policy expert, Daniel McAdams, longtime advisor and partner to the antiwar former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, eviscerated Haley on many occasions while she was the UN Ambassador. From September 2017, here’s McAdams:

…she decided to opine on the utterly failed six year US regime change operation in Syria. Today, as Deir Ezzor has finally been liberated by the Syrian government from the scourge of ISIS, Nikki Haley chose to go on record defending ISIS and al-Qaeda by repeating Obama’s line that Assad must go.

Ponder this for a minute: Assad has just defeated ISIS in Deir Ezzor. ISIS is the reason the US has invaded Syrian sovereignty and initiated military action. Yet according to Nikki Haley Assad’s reward for wiping out ISIS is that he must be deposed — presumably in favor of US-backed rebels who have been in bed with ISIS for six years!

Is Nikki Haley pro-ISIS? Is she pro-al-Qaeda? Is she evil or just stupid?

You decide.

And now we have the Trump administration’s, bi-partisan supported Caesar Act sanctions, targeting particularly the construction and engineering sectors, crushing the life out of this country by targeting any individuals, of any nationality, for trading with Syria. This imperial legislation uses the big boot of the American empire to thwart the Syrian people in their attempts to rebuild their lives after nearly a decade of total war fomented within from without.

Of course, this is after Israel and Saudi Arabia, Trump’s greatest foreign allies, lobbied the hegemon to help obliterate Syria almost ten years ago. Benjamin Netanyahu, disclosed in Wikileaks’ Hillary Clinton email archive, actually blackmailed Obama into starting this war, threatening to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear sites and spark his long-desired war mentioned earlier. This endless, disastrous war on Syria has been one of Washington’s conciliation prizes, for itself and the above allies, for the Bush II neocons getting conned themselves by Ahmed Chalabi into the multi trillion-dollar Iraq war II. This was a war where they foolishly installed a theocratic, Shi’ite-Iranian backed government in Baghdad. Of course, all while killing a million people in the process.  This led to the infamous “Redirection” policy, where Bush and then Obama backed Saudi’s terrorist allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, etc.

It’s never enough for the neocons though, whether they’re advising Clinton, Bush II, Obama, or Trump, more American taxpayer money must always be spent, while more people always have to suffer and die overseas. And that makes sense, Andrew Cockburn has been said to have concluded that essentially the neoconservative movement can be best understood as where the military industrial complex meets the Israel lobby. Put into perspective, this characterization helps us clarify why half a million people were slaughtered. After all, Assad “must go.”

This is not what will make America great again. The broad right should use their political power to insist that Trump carries out the full withdrawal he has teased them with for years, not just in Syria but in Afghanistan as well. The left needs to start holding its fake “anti-establishment” types such as Senator, and former Presidential primary candidate, Bernie Sanders’ feet to the fire. Incidentally, Sanders’ 2020 campaign website’s Syria page still basically blames Assad for the war and for the Turkish-al Qaeda-White Helmet false flag chemical weapons attacks. He says in a world of vicious dictators, Assad “tops the list.” He supports the illegal US airstrikes against ISIS he says are “authorized under the current law,” though in violation of International Law, not to mention Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution. He then, most egregiously, insists that the duly elected President of sovereign Syria must be “phased out.”

With political “allies” like this, who needs enemies?

If the U.S. is to ever come home from Syria, a robust anti-war, anti-sanctions, anti-neocon movement is needed. Composed of a principled bunch, and hopefully a politically diverse coalition. If the Democratic Socialist left or the new right is truly antiwar and they want to be taken seriously, they should ruthlessly hold all their politicians to the Ron Paul standard: we just marched in, now let’s just march out.

Who’s Racist? The Continuing Tragedy of American Exceptionalism

Who’s Racist? The Continuing Tragedy of American Exceptionalism

Many young liberals truly believe that by voting for Joe Biden they’re somehow helping evict racism and fascism from the Oval Office. If only it were that easy.

This columnist is thinking, in particular, of an illustrative, albeit anecdotal example. A recent conversation with a well-meaning, 20-year-old fellow pleb may help us comprehend what makes America racist. This girl is my coworker, who proudly announced, the other day, that she voted for the first time and excitedly so.

The aforementioned interlocutor was solidly convinced that the United States is a “racist country.”

She laughed with disdain when recalling an interaction, from another week, with a fellow college educated young person who dared to question, in a debate setting on campus, how America could be racist? After all, Americans elected, and reelected, a “black president?”

How stupid, another employee scoffed in the chat “…can she even cross the street by herself?…How did she get into college?”

Your columnist, attempting to find common ground with my coworkers and their stylistically vague “anti-racist” sentiments, agreed that they were, in fact, right. Barack Obama, as President, committed unspeakable genocides against some of the poorest black people in the world, namely Somalis and Yemenis. (The devastation caused by Obama’s treasonous, illegal, and callous war in Libya, and the subsequent return of chattel slavery there, would have been another obvious example.)

There was no real response; that wasn’t what they meant. The comment wasn’t dismissed so much as it was ignored, much like the majority American population and mainstream media tend to treat the wars themselves.

American Presidents committing some holocaust, big or small, against brown, black, or often yellow people somewhere “over there,” to Americans, is like background music or having coffee with breakfast. So routine, we hardly ever think about it. The “expert” class has said, repeatedly, that it can be no other way; and you’d better support the guys, gals, and trans folk dropping the bombs and doing the shooting.

Think about how little most Americans pay attention to what the troops are doing “over there” anyway, then contrast that with the ridiculous consensus that they’re essentially our society’s best, bravest, and most admirable figures.

America’s long war on Iraq throughout the 1990s—an era of yellow ribbon fascism—is a potent case in point. During those days, immediately after the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell, our intellectual and political enthusiasts for “full spectrum dominance,”—that is American global hegemony—attempted to purge the citizenry of our “sickly inhibitions” against massive shows of military force. Therefore, Iraq was brutally sacrificed so that the so called “Vietnam syndrome” could give way to a heartless, neo jingoist culture more hospitable to the much coveted “unipolar moment,” that was now at hand.

Right now, our politics at home seem so polarized, confusing, hysterical, dire, and hateful. It makes some sense when we realize that, dozens of years ago, Americans probably lost their collective empathy somewhere over Iraq. Mercifully and very memorably, Ron Paul alerted the electorate and broader American culture of this ugly, forgotten history back in 2007 with his famous “Giuliani moment.”

See the UN sanctions crisis, allied bombings (including from the numerous U.S. bases on the Arabian Peninsula, a major al Qaeda recruitment talking point) and the blockade on Iraq throughout the entire decade of the 1990s and beyond. Bill Clinton launched a full-scale global trade embargo on Iraq (including banning chlorine for clean water after the water and sewage systems were deliberately bombed out, prohibiting imports of spare parts to repair the electrical grid and delivery trucks, blocking medical imports, as well as oil exports, etc.). This long strangulation followed the George H.W. Bush regime’s strategic obliteration of civilian infrastructure during Iraq War 1, where estimates show maybe 200,000 Iraqis died. After that, for the rest of the nineties and into the next millennium, America bombed Iraq, regularly, three to four times a week.

Clinton’s “Iraq War I and ½,” as Scott Horton calls it, killed hundreds of thousands.

In 1996, half way through killing these  people, Madeline Albright, who served as UN Ambassador and then Secretary of State during these years, said it was “worth it.” Ironically, she’s since rebranded herself as a neoliberal, anti-fascist, even feminist icon. In this country, some people really can do anything.

Shortly thereafter, the next Bush regime lied us into a full-on invasion, the regime change war, where one million Iraqis died.

That’s the “bad war” though, Iraq war II, the one Joe Biden championed as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That’s the one everyone remembers; although most Americans are likely unaware that their government killed that many people, in, as Ron Paul has said, “an impoverished Third World nation that lacked an air force, anti-aircraft weapons, and a navy. This was supposed to be the great threat, requiring urgent action.”

Is this the old “normalcy” pined for by so many Americans?

Back to our anecdote, another coworker, attempting to comfort this newest member of the voting class, assured her that, “I’m sure Trump has been more destructive than Obama was with that stuff.”

Depending on the regions, that point has merits. As Dave Decamp of Antiwar.com has pointed out, Trump has escalated the bombing campaigns and wars on Somalia, Yemen, and, until relatively recently, Afghanistan as well.

Trump’s almost totally unjustified reputation as “antiwar” notwithstanding, Somalia has been bombed, by the U.S., more in the first seven months of 2020, than the Bush II and Obama administrations combined.

Uncle Sam’s genocide in Yemen is another example, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The U.S.-Saudi coalition’s total war against the poorest Middle Eastern civilian population (a war of famine, terrorism, treason, terror bombings, blockades, record shattering epidemics, and deliberate starvation) was commenced, in early 2015, under the Obama-Biden administration. After nearly four years of Trump executing this war, with the gloves off, so to speak, according to the UN at least 233,000 people have died; almost half were killed violently, the rest have died due to deprivation, and disease. The U.S.-Saudi axis are purposely crippling Yemen’s population, its economy, and healthcare systems. As with Palestine, Yemen’s desperately needed aid has been largely cut. Additionally, Trump has vetoed multiple Congressional resolutions, including War Powers Act challenges, demanding an end to America’s illegal/unconstitutional support for the Saudi coalition’s war there.

And despite Trump’s ostensible progress working toward a full withdrawal from Afghanistan in Spring 2021, he set records for the number of munitions dropped on the long battered country. He doubled the number of troops left there by Obama, in 2017; and Afghanistan was bombed nearly 15,000 times between 2018-2019.

Beyond these campaigns, both parties, their constituents and leadership, seem all too content to have neocon apparatchiks continually forcing our whole population further into conflict, and possibly eventual hot wars, with China and Russia. Given all the hydrogen bombs involved, this is the issue of our time and surely one that all Americans, young people especially, should be united against.

For example, how many Americans know that Trump, in an incident during the early February of 2018, had hundreds of Russian mercenaries bombed in Syria, which is still illegally occupied by the U.S.? That’s some puppet Putin has there.

At the same time, the severe lack of coverage on the U.S. military’s countless, multi front provocations of China this year, (occurring constantly in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, etc.), in the media, the debates, public discourse, etc. is highly troubling.

If racism, or fascism, are the issues we must face, we should be honest and admit that American exceptionalism has successfully blinded the voter class, young and old, from these and many other critical points. For instance, the U.S. unconditionally backs what the Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow has called Israel’s “militarized apartheid” in its close to 60 year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights. For nearly 20 years, to the tune of more than $2 trillion, we’ve supported a coalition of communists, warlords, drug dealers, and child molesters in Afghanistan. Obama installed an anti-Russian, Nazi infested coup regime in Ukraine fighting a proxy war with Moscow for years, with more than 10,000 dead (and not to be outdone by his predecessor, Trump proudly sent them anti-tank missiles, manufactured by Raytheon, the former lobbying home of his current Defense Secretary, Mark Esper). The U.S. also backs a totalitarian, religious/gender apartheid regime in Saudi Arabia, along with their al Qaeda allies in Syria, Yemen, etc. And for decades, the U.S. has happily underwritten assorted fascist, death squad governments throughout Latin America. The list could go much further.

Speaking of Latin America, for all the criticism Trump gets for racism, one would assume now that the estimated death toll of his sanctions on Venezuela has reached 100,000 people, that we’d see quite the controversy. Evidently, these poor people will only be given the time of day when their misery—largely U.S. induced—can be intermittently exploited by CNN for regime change efforts against Maduro’s government.

In many diverse parts of the world, people are living through some version of hell because it’s profitable for our Military-Industrial-Congressional-Security Complex, it benefits their neocon think tank partners in crime, as well as their corporate and often foreign benefactors. Until we reject empire and the paper-thin propaganda it’s built on, we will be inextricably tied with this racism and fascism everybody is debating over. This racism/fascism discussion cannot remain a muddled and ambiguous partisan debate. Indeed, to be truly anti-racist, as an American, is to be an anti-imperialist.

It is impossible to oppose empire, racism, authoritarianism, or fascism in this election when the only apparently viable political alternative to such things is…checks notes…Joe Biden? We have “Israel’s man in Washington,” the author of not only the Patriot Act, but the infamous 1994 mass-incarceration bill as well. And let’s not forget, Kamala Harris, California’s top cop, who laughs about locking up poor people for victimless crimes; she’s a red baiting, neo Cold Warrior, and National Security Democrat.

If the terms mean anything, both candidates are fascist imperialists. For sure, those who would vote, this time, for either candidate because they think they’re fighting racism, authoritarianism, or fascism with that vote are likely not racist or fascist themselves. However, a culture and government that has so cynically and systematically coddled “the folks” into such delusions most certainly is.

Connor Freeman is a writer and college student, based in Arizona, primarily covering American imperial politics and foreign policy. He has written for the Libertarian Institute and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also been featured at Antiwar.com and Information Clearing House. You can follow him on Twitter at @FreemansMind96.

Blowback for Christmas

Blowback for Christmas

December is here and you know what that means.

That’s right.

It’s time for the dinosaur media and the U.S. government to conduct their annual ‘let’s scare the hell out of the American people during the holidays’ psychological operations.

The State does not refer to it in exactly that way and is it not yet official policy. But it has come to be every bit as American as apple pie.

It has been more than sixteen years since the attacks of September 11, 2001. And in those years, the establishment news and the regime have never missed a season.

As Americans celebrate the holidays and transition into 2018, they will no doubt be subjected to the highest quality fear mongering money can buy.

In fact, the macabre journalism has already begun.

Center right radio host Buck Sexton, formerly of the CIA, recently penned a particularly horrifying piece for The Hill titled ‘As ISIS prepares for holiday terror, we must prepare to smoke them out‘.

The article is boiling over with fear mongering and reads as if it was written circa 2002, not 2017.

Notable quotes include:

“An ominous poster of Santa Claus standing next to a box of dynamite in Times Square appeared in a pro-ISIS forum earlier this week with the headline “we meet at Christmas in New York soon.” A picture of a masked jihadi, with a rifle in the front seat of a car driving toward the Vatican marked with the banner “Christmas Blood so wait” appeared a few days before that. Christmas markets in Germany and Queen Elizabeth of England have also been the targets of Islamic State threats over the past month.”

As well as,

“It is symbolism, however, that would be the biggest driver of ISIS’s holiday terror. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other festivities celebrated at year’s end are a special time for America and Europe. For the fanatics of ISIS, there is no better time to inflict their misery and hatred upon us. Our holiday joy is an affront to their nihilistic sadism.”

And finally,

“They not only hate us for our freedom, but for the displays of happiness, prosperity, and unity from now until 2018.”

The worst part of the ‘forever war’ industry is the mass murder of civilians.

Since 1991, the U.S. has been responsible for the deaths of millions of Iraqis alone.

There is an ample supply of well meaning people in this country who continue to be suckered into sacrificing their progeny’s future and liberty at the altar of imperialism and the military-industrial complex.

For decades, U.S. bombings and occupations have been creating terrorists via the blowback phenomenon. And often the U.S. finds itself and its allies directly, albeit covertly, supporting terrorists as well.

Barrack Obama’s administration armed and supported Jihadis who were members of or were loyal to al Qaeda (AQ) during the Libyan regime change operation.

Beginning in 2011, the CIA along with America’s Sunni allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey established elaborate trafficking networks that supplied arms to AQ and its allies in their war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. A Defense Intelligence Agency document from 2012 revealed the intelligence community was aware that this would lead to the creation of an ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq. It further indicated that this was the aforementioned allies’ intention.

There are Israeli fingerprints on the Syrian war as well. Correspondence from 2012 between then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and James Rubin, the former diplomat and journalist, detail the Israeli government’s role in agitating Obama toward his ultimate Syrian strategy. This correspondence is documented in Clinton’s WikiLeaks email archive. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government essentially blackmailed the former president, threatening him with the much larger war that would necessarily result, absent a ‘more aggressive’ U.S. Syrian policy, from an Israeli ‘surprise attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities’. Jason Ditz reported at AntiWar.com, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in January 2016 that “ ‘he’d much rather see ISIS rule all of Syria‘, and consequently be directly on Israel’s border, than have the pro-Iran government remain in power.” In June 2016, as ISIS was losing increasingly more ground to Syrian forces, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevy said that ‘the Israeli military is looking at direct support for ISIS as a matter of policy, and not just rhetoric’. Israeli support and medical aid for al Nusra (AQ) and other rebel factions in Syria has been reported extensively.

Obama also supported and armed AQ in the Arabian Peninsula via his support for the Saudis’ Yemen genocide. The U.S. and U.K. backed Saudi war on Yemen has led to what is now the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Donald Trump continues to escalate Obama’s Yemen policy. And although he officially ended CIA support for al Nusra and their allies in Syria, it has since been reported that the Pentagon has assumed that responsibility.

In the Trump era, as with all other options, also on the table is collusion with ISIS. The BBC and Phil Giraldi recently reported on how the U.S., with its British and Kurdish allies, helped ISIS fighters escape death at the hands of Syrian and Russian forces in Raqqa.

From Giraldi’s piece:

“In the event, trucks and busses were assembled on October 14th, formed into a convoy, and were loaded with more than 4,000 fighters and families. More than 100 ISIS-owned vehicles also were allowed to leave and there were ten trucks filled with weapons. The convoy stretched for more than four miles and film footage shows trucks pulling trailers filled with militants brandishing their weapons. The fighters were not allowed to display flags or banners but they were not forced to disarm and in fact loaded all the vehicles with as many weapons as they could carry, so much so that one truck broke its axle from the weight. The BBC reported that “This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.”

Also from the article, “The evacuees made it safely to ISIS controlled territory and presumably will be ready, willing and able to fight again.”

The State and its military continually prove they are not fit to represent the American people. There is no American master plan. It is frequently the case that our disastrous policies in the Middle East were originally hatched up by neoconservatives working for the Likud, Israel, and Gulf oil money. On the other hand, the American people take the blame for enormities committed by their ‘leaders’ because democracy is a way for power holders to evade their actions’ consequences. After all, the people voted for politicians who supported this war or that policy. True enough, but Americans are besieged day in and day out by a trans-media propaganda network that would have made George Orwell blush.

Who knows how much more the Bill O’Reillys, Joy Reids, Rush Limbaughs, and Sean Hannitys of the world know than their duped fans. The State prefers to have deluded buffoons lying to the American people, giving them their (fake) news. It’s easier that way. Too much internal cynicism amongst propagandists leads to hubris and carelessness. See CNN.

Blowback, while horrible and inexcusable, is understandable. People whose lands are indiscriminately rained upon year after year with billions of dollars’ worth of cluster bombs, white phosphorous, Hellfire missiles, depleted uranium, etc., who live under endless foreign occupations, and suffer under Western backed Jihadi tyrannies can identify the responsible parties. Western democracies largely make up the coalitions dropping the bombs that kill their loved ones. Conversely, the victims suffer under despotisms. They assume, mistakenly, that these democracies represent the will of their people. However, these democracies are controlled by powerful special interests who do not give a damn about the will of the people. Whether it is a truck driving through a crowd of people in the West or an airstrike on an Iraqi family’s home, innocents are almost always the victims. Americans have been convinced by the regime and it’s kept media that the terrorism’s raison d’être is to literally terrorize innocent people and scare them. However, the definition of terrorism is: the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

These people want the West to stop killing their children, colonizing, and occupying their land. The radicals amongst them who commit these comparatively small and sporadic acts of terrorism give us a vivid idea of what it is like to have a mother, sister, brother, father, or friend murdered randomly and without reason.

In America, one is more likely to be assassinated by a bee or die in their own bed than to be killed by a terrorist. The empire and their media are playing a sick game.

War is a racket. In addition to privacy and due process, the ‘war on terror’ business has cost the American people $5.6 trillion, will cost $8 trillion in interest payments, and since 2011 has cost between $1.2 and $1.3 trillion every year.

Happy Holidays and fear not. Absent fear, the empire’s favorite racket would collapse. You can see why terrorizing us is such a priority.

House Leadership Pulls a Fast One for al Qaeda

House Leadership Pulls a Fast One for al Qaeda

House Concurrent Resolution 81 (H.Con.Res.81) is sponsored by Representatives, Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and 39 other lawmakers. The resolution commands an end to U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The sponsors of this resolution contend that such participation, which began in March 2015, was never authorized under the War Powers Act of 1973. Per the War Powers Act, any congressman can pose a legal challenge and is guaranteed a floor vote on the issue. This is known as a privileged resolution.

On November 1st, the night before the vote was scheduled to take place, House leadership swiftly pushed through a Rules Committee vote, denying the resolution’s privileged status. Thus, preventing the guaranteed floor vote.

What was their justification? Apparently, the House Rules Committee feels that the war in Yemen has yet to ‘rise to a level’ where the War Powers Act is applicable.

After preventing the vote on H.Con.Res.81, the House Leadership has said it shall permit a ‘compromise’ resolution on the war in Yemen. The debate, scheduled for the week of November 13th, will discuss the legality of U.S. involvement in the war. The vote will be non-binding.

Five peace activist groups, heavily engaged in promoting the resolution, said just after the Rules Committee vote:

“We remind the House leadership that under the War Powers Resolution of 1973,

“‘introduction of United States Armed Forces ’includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged…’

U.S. refueling of Saudi-UAE planes bombing Houthi targets in Yemen meets that definition.'”

Therefore the War Powers Act, clearly applies to the war on Yemen.

The House leadership is lying to the American people, supporting the continuation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, violating the War Powers Act, and attempting to prevent Congress from stopping yet another illegal and unconstitutional war.

Conservatively, since the beginning of 2017, at least 10,000 people have been killed in this war. The heroic and indispensable Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee has said the toll could be as high as 60,000 deaths.

The Saudis are ruthlessly bombarding the Yemenis and their civilian infrastructure. The coalition wants to cripple the people of Yemen to the point of submission. Their end goal is to force Yemen’s civilians to stop supporting the northern tribesmen if only to alleviate their suffering.

U.S. involvement is most critical to the Saudi effort in this war. The U.S. military is training Saudi Arabian forces. The U.S. is refueling the coalition’s warplanes not just in the air with tanker sorties, but also on its bases peppered throughout the region.

As of February, according to an article written by Oriana Pawlyk for Military.com:

“Saudi Arabian coalition jets bombing Houthi rebel sites in Yemen increasingly turn to U.S. Air Force tankers for refueling support almost two years after the conflict began. Since April 2015, the Air Force has logged 1,778 tanker sorties for the operation, Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told Military.com on Tuesday. That includes 1,069 over the past year, an increase of 360, or 50 percent, from the 709 in the previous period. ‘These operations are ongoing, with aircraft refueling occurring daily,’ Atanasoff said in an email. The service’s tankers such as KC- 135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders participated in 7,564 refueling ‘events’ with coalition aircraft, with ‘about 54 million pounds of fuel off-loaded in support of Saudi operations in Yemen,’ Atanasoff said.”

Donald Trump, doing his best Barack Obama impression, has been more than happy to sell the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons to continue their genocide. These include planes, ships, rockets, precision-guided bombs, cluster bombs, etc. American defense contractors, particularly Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are likewise more than happy to rake in their handsome profits from Yemen’s destruction. With Jared Kushner playing the role of matchmaker for Mohammed bin Salman and Marillyn A. Hewson (CEO of Lockheed), the profits will surely escalate.

However, the Saudis have another powerful ally in this war, al Qaeda. This certainly makes the upcoming debate on Yemen a great opportunity for the House to finally get around to discussing the legality of high treason. Or more specifically, fighting another war for al Qaeda.

In addition to the coalition’s sadistic air campaign, Yemini civilians are threatened and attacked on the ground day in and day out by Sudanese mercenaries, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and a local Islamic State affiliate. All of whom support the coalition.

In an article published in The Hill, Gareth Porter and retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff) said:

“U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials have regarded AQAP as even more of a foreign terrorist threat to the United States than ISIS. It mounted efforts to bring down U.S. airlines three times between 2009 and 2012, and nearly succeeded twice.  But the Saudi/UAE war in Yemen has made them the most powerful indigenous armed group in southern Yemen, with more money, arms and territorial control than ever before. The Saudi-led coalition and the forces of the Saudi backed former regime have allied openly with AQAP and even fought alongside them. As a result of the war AQAP is now poised for the first time to compete for national power in Yemen.”

See the map below of the military situation in Yemen as of this July for an idea of just how much territory AQAP has consolidated. The areas shaded white are controlled by AQAP, the pink areas are controlled by Hadi-loyal forces, and the green areas are controlled by the Houthi/Saleh alliance:

This is further evidence that U.S. involvement in the Saudi war is illegal. When asked for a justification for U.S. involvement in the Saudi/UAE war, both Barrack Obama and Donald Trump’s administrations have cited the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). That AUMF permits military action only against those entities who perpetrated the attacks on 9/11. In other words, military action is only permitted against al Qaeda. Yet, this war is being fought on behalf of al Qaeda against their enemies, the Houthis.

Indeed, Asher Orkaby made the point in Foreign Affairs that, “far from being aligned with extremists, the Houthi movement has repeatedly clashed with the Islamic State and AQAP” So, in addition to the fact that this war was never authorized under the War Powers Act, it is also clearly not covered under the current AUMF.

Since the Obama administration, this is at least the third major conflict wherein the U.S. has found itself aligned with, fighting along side, arming, and/or supporting al Qaeda. This was official policy notably during the regime change operation in Libya and in the failed regime change operation in Syria. It is very important to note that if things had gone to plan in Syria, al Qaeda would have almost certainly taken Damascus.

Neoconservatives are now calling for a new AUMF to explicitly define ‘the enemy’ more broadly as proponents of so called, ‘radical Islam’. The ‘radical Islam’ handle is a red herring callously promoted by the fake news establishment. It is meant to dumb down and obscure the realities of these conflicts for domestic audiences. The cynical neoconservatives are pleased to have Americans view all Arabs and Muslims as one homogenous and terrifying collective. Most Americans are designedly oblivious to the differences between Sunnis, Shiites, and other branches of Islam. It is in the interests of the War Party for American voters to see such radically opposed groups as Daesh and Hezbollah as cut from the same cloth. This is obviously done in order to prevent rational discussion of these conflicts from ever taking place. For if the American people were well informed of the consequences of U.S. policy abroad, especially in the Middle East, they would probably not even passively support their regime’s policies.

In 2013, popular sentiment from people of all political stripes helped to prevent Obama’s would have been Iraq-style invasion of Syria. I believe one of the primary reasons for this was the effectiveness of the famous ‘I will not fight for al Qaeda in Syria’ social media campaign undertaken by active military personnel. Americans do not want to support and subsidize al Qaeda in Syria, Libya, Yemen, or anywhere else for that matter. The reason these horrific policies persist is not the peoples’ apathy, it’s their ignorance.

This is a particularly indefensible war, even by U.S standards. If they choose to, this is a war the American people can end. The establishment is certainly not comfortable publicly debating and defending their Yemen policy. Exposing the realities of this conflict and ending the war in Yemen could trigger an anti-war domino effect. Not since the Vietnam War has there been more fertile soil for an American anti-war movement.

Please continue to call your Congressmen and women and tell them to vote against the war on November 13th. Give them some good talking points for the debate. Please share, retweet posts from Yemenis on the ground, post news items, write blog posts, write articles, and speak your mind about the war in Yemen on social media. Do not be afraid to talk about the U.S.-Saudi/AQAP alliance. We have the truth on our side.

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