American imperial policy has sharply trained its sights on Russia and China. Under President Joe Biden, sanctions have been leviedagainst both countries and, along with its allies, the U.S. military, has maintained a near constant, hostile, military presence in both states’ near abroad. This is occurring most frequently in the Black Sea and the South China Sea.
Washington decidedly blew its coveted post-Cold War shot at so called “unipolarity” by getting itself bogged down in the disastrous War on Terror. The American government, instead of taking its lessons and abandoning the “fool’s errand” of world dominance, like a drunk at a bar, is instigating closing time brawls it cannot possibly win.
The Global War on Terror, including the nearly two decades long occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the wars and interventions in Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, etc. killed and caused the deaths of multiple millions of people and displaced tens of millions more across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Central Asia.
Studies have determined the ultimate price of the war at well over $6 trillion. The interest alone on the debt accumulated to fund the war is expected to cost $8 trillion. Washington attempts to still justify, at the American people’s continued direct expense, further growth of its bloated and unsustainable, globe-spanning, hyper-interventionist military presence.
To do this, American government foreign policy apparatchiks and the arms industry funded neocon think tanks, along with their cohorts in the military, point to their new favorite red menace: China.
Enter Saagar Enjeti, Krystal Ball’s co-host on the world’s number one hit politics podcast “Breaking Points.” Ball was formerly an MSNBC talking head. Enjeti is a neocon disguised as a populist. Ball’s previous cohost on The Hill’s “Rising,” the show which preceded “Breaking Points,” was Buck Sexton. Sexton incidentally hailed from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Macleod documents Enjeti’s bizarre trajectory of studying “counterterrorism” at a Deep State connected Israeli university to working at neocon think tanks with the likes of Scooter Libby and the Kagan clan.
Like his former boss Tucker Carlson, Enjeti is part of a larger trend of putative outsiders carrying water for the neocon China hawks. Carlson is the Rachel Maddow of Fox News when it comes to China. Like Enjeti, Carlson somehow successfully markets himself as a kind of populist outsider even though, as Macleod writes he is the “stepson of the heir of the Swanson food empire.”
Moreover, Carlson attempted to join the CIA, worked for Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard, and has had his own shows on CNN, MSNBC, and now Fox News. How many people have that kind of résumé? Additionally, Carlson’s father, Richard “Dick” Carlson, was deeply enmeshed in the National Security State serving not only as a Cold War era director of Voice of America, but also as the public liaison for the U.S. Information Agency, as well as President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. From 2003-2011, “Dick” also served as Vice Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the notorious anti-Iran neocon think tank.
The implications of faux populists connected to the neoconservatives, spreading anti-China propaganda from their large platforms, ultimately manufacturing consent for Washington’s new Cold War is deeply troubling.
In 2018, the Pentagon announced a shift away from their failing policy of counterterrorism in the Middle East and North Africa toward a new National Defense Strategy of so called “Great Power Competition,” with Russia and China. Instead of turning toward peace, free trade, and diplomacy, this policy change will come at enormous opportunity costs such as further distorting our economy, practically guaranteeing boom-bust cycles of ever intensifying severity, as well as reducing the average American’s standard of living. It would impoverish the very people who desire genuine populism.
Cold War 2.0 will doubtless also entail the sacrifice of our last vestiges of liberty in exchange for a dubious security, and put Americans on the fast track to brinksmanship (or worse) with China and Russia, the next two greatest nuclear superpowers.
The word “détente,” or the concept of mutually assured destruction, is but a ghost in our self-obsessed, drunken jingoist culture. When pundits publicly pontificate about how best to stick it to Russia or China, the likely chance of nuclear war goes unsaid.
Biden has taken up the mantle from ultra-hawk Hillary Clinton and more specifically his old pal, former President Barrack Obama who launched the “Asia Pivot.” This “pivot” amounts to a dramatic expansion of Washington’s military footprint in East Asia.
As foreign policy expert and documentary film maker John Pilger has said, “American bases form a giant noose encircling China with missiles, bombers, warships—all the way from Australia through the Pacific to Asia and beyond.”
I have reported from Asia for many years. In 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the South China Sea was a “security interest” of the United States…In 2011, President Obama announced the “pivot to Asia”—which meant that two-thirds of US naval and air forces would concentrate in the Asia-Pacific, the biggest build-up of military forces since World War II. This was aimed, clearly, at China.
Biden’s regime is spending more than the U.S. government ever has on the military and on so called “defense,” as well as its new Space Force. As ever, the hawks intend to ratchet that spending up, into the future, indefinitely. Genuine conservative populists should be on the front lines alongside libertarians and anti-imperialist leftists opposing this absolute lunacy.
After all, for at least a decade, the U.S. Empire has burdened American taxpayers to the tune of over $1 trillion per year. This figure includes the expenditures involved in running the Veterans’ Affairs Department, as well as the Energy Department’s role in managing the nuclear arsenal, and also the other National Security State bureaucracies such as the “monstrous” Department of Homeland Security.
During the George W. Bush administration, Robert Higgs, the libertarian economist and historian, determined a good rule of thumb to estimate the true yearly price of American imperialism is to double the Pentagon’s official budget, which is currently a whopping $715 billion.
After years of Russiagate and pervasive neocon propaganda, our society has absorbed and sadly grown accustomed to the neoconservative/neoliberal foreign policy consensus. This coopting of the alternative media scene ensures those too smart for the TV news propaganda their parents tragically fell for during the Bush II years, can be scared to death by other means.
As the contrived, and sleep inducing, “woke mob” vs. Bari Weiss’ “Intellectual Dark Web” culture war saga drowns out any discussion of these critical issues, we gladly march, knowingly or unknowingly thanks to the corporate press, into simultaneous wars with Russia and China.
The Robert Kagans and Bill Kristols of the world envisioned the Empire, in this long-awaited era, finally establishing permanent control over the world.
As Scott Horton, Director of The Libertarian Institute, has said,
…at the end of the last Cold War the American foreign policy community, led by the neoconservatives, adopted a doctrine of global dominance… 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 Gaza Strip, measures only 25 miles long and five miles wide. It is one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a full blockade on Gaza from the air, land, and sea. The two million Palestinians living there (half of which are under the age of 18) are trapped in an open air prison where food, potable water, electricity, medicine, building materials, etc. are severely restricted by the Israeli authorities.
The latest Israeli military operation in Gaza was called “Guardian of the Walls,” a reference no doubt to the walls enclosing the Palestinian population of mostly refugees, victims of Zionist settler colonialism, forcibly prevented from returning home. Highlighting the unfairness of the fight, at the war’s onset reports described Israeli tanks and 80 aircraft, including F-35’s, being deployed against a people militarily conquered and occupied since 1967. The Gazans have no air force, no navy, and no control over their borders, airspace, or coasts.
Following 11 days of bombing, an Egypt brokered ceasefire was accepted after multiple offers were rejected by Tel Aviv.
Ethnic Cleansing in Jerusalem
Last month’s war on Gaza was largely precipitated by an ethnic cleansing campaign occurring in East Jerusalem, illegally occupied by Israel. The threatened evictions of dozens of families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood sparked protests among the Palestinians.
Writer and researcher Yanis Iqbal provides some background;
Beginning from May 2, 2021, Israel has begun its attempts to forcibly evict 26 Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. These families consist of refugees since the Nakba (the 1947-49 expulsion and forced exile of over two-thirds of the population by Zionist forces) and have been denied their United Nations (UN)-mandated right to return home. They were relocated in the neighborhood when it was under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967.
Israeli propaganda attempts to present the idea that the homes being seized were once owned by Jews. This is a complete lie – the Jordanian authorities were the ones to finance the construction of the homes. Since the early 1970s, Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah have been battling a series of Jewish settler organizations who filed lawsuits claiming the land belonged to them. Many Palestinians have been kicked out of the neighborhood and replaced by Israeli settlers. The current standoff and protests came about after an Israeli court ruled in favor of Nahalat Shimon International – an organization based in the US – and Ateret Cohanim, another settlement group that seeks to take over the properties.
In its bloody quest to eliminate Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, the settler state has left no stone unturned. Combat-clad murderers have been sent in to terrorize Palestinian sit-ins with skunk water, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and shock grenades. Protesters have been physically assaulted, kneeled on, choked, and shot at with live rounds. On May 7, 2021, the Israeli police forced its way into the neighborhood as Palestinians and solidarity activists gathered to break their Ramadan fasting in solidarity with 40 Palestinians, including 10 children.
Far right violence had already been ramping up in Jerusalem. In one illustrative example from late April, a Israeli brownshirt-like group named Lehava led marches with memorable choruses such as “your village will be burnt down,” “may your village burn,” “Arabs get out,” and “death to Arabs.” The demonstrations saw large groups of Jewish youths hurling rocks at Palestinians, including inside their homes and vehicles. Participants were encouraged to arm themselves and get violent. Haaretz reported on a social media group administered by far right Knesset member, Itamar Ben-Gvir, that included somebody enthusiastically promoting plans to burn Palestinians with Molotov cocktails. A video shared on social media showed an Israeli man driving through East Jerusalem firing his gun in the air to frighten the occupied Palestinian residents. The Lehava event was explicitly promoted to “restore Jewish dignity” to Jerusalem. Palestinian counter protests at Damascus Gate in the Old City were responded to by police using similar measures to those deployed against the sit ins described above by Iqbal: 105 people were injured, with 22 hospitalized.
During Israel’s crackdown on early May protests against the planned dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah, settlers again chanted “death to Arabs” and the police used cannons to fire the aforementioned “skunk water” into people’s houses. The pervasive stink spray smells like sewage and remains for weeks. After drying, it is only made worse when it coming into contact with water making it especially arduous to clean.
In an interview with Scott Horton, journalist Alan Macleod discussed the corporate media’s cynical efforts to create a “both sides narrative” despite the huge power disparity painted by vivid scenes of occupied civilians armed with “stones and prayer rugs” standing off with the Israeli security forces sporting their “machine guns and stun grenades.”
Even clinics were not spared. At Mondoweiss, Yumna Patel reported “[v]ideos from a clinic in East Jerusalem where injured Palestinians were being treated showed Israeli forces firing sound bombs into the clinic itself.”
As a result of consecutive days of Israeli violence and “clashes,” hundreds of Palestinians were injured and hospitalized. On May 10th, even before the rockets and bomb attacks, those at the Mosque and the surrounding neighborhood described the area as a “war zone.”
Hamas Retaliates on Behalf of The Palestinians
The armed brigades of Hamas, the militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, gave Israel an ultimatum that evening to withdraw from Sheikh Jarrah, the al Aqsa Mosque, and release Palestinian prisoners. The Israelis refused. Hamas retaliated on behalf of Palestinians throughout the occupied territories. Those Palestinians have essentially no other armed force to deter or defend against Israeli aggression. The first of the crude rockets launched by Hamas into Jerusalem killed nobody and “lightly injured” one Israeli. Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza that killed 20 people, nine of which were children.
Most of the children belonged to the same extended family. Two siblings, 11-year-old Ibrahim and seven-year-old Marwan, were the only children of Yousef al-Masri.
The children were playing outside their homes before the Ramadan iftar meal in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, before two explosions rocked the street.
Youssef al-Masri, the father of the siblings was quoted in the media as well, “My children were martyred. I cannot find any justification whatsoever for targeting someone passing through overcrowded civilian neighborhoods where dozens of children usually play.”
For nearly two weeks Israel then proceeded to pummel Gaza with high explosives.
Disgracing The American People
Along with the already massive but growing military and financial aid to Israel, the American government underwrote every bit of the massacre with diplomatic cover as it ensued. At the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. blocked three successive statements urging a ceasefire and cessation of attacks against Palestinians in just the first week of bombings. The third statement blocked was introduced by Norway, China, and Tunisia.
The French later introduced a draft Security Council Resolution demanding a ceasefire which the U.S. threatened to veto.
On the domestic scene, mainstream media sprang into action providing an abundance of hasbara to American audiences attempting to muddy the waters sufficiently to keep people from taking the obvious moral positionagainst the U.S. backed canned hunt.
Indeed, both the executive branch and much of the legislature are eager to provide “more for Israel” at the American people’s expense. In early June, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who in a video message during the war threatened “Gaza will burn,” visited Washington D.C. to request another billion dollars in military aid. Many in Congress are thrilled at the opportunity to fulfill his request and Biden has promised to “replenish” Israel’s U.S. funded Iron Dome missile defense system.
Once again, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a complete mockery of his post as America’s top diplomat. As Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, has written:
In a pathetic attempt to pretend that the Biden administration cares about the suffering Israel is causing… Blinken announced additional aid for the Palestinians after the truce was reached. The assistance includes about $5.5 million to rebuild Gaza, a pittance compared to what the US is poised to give Israel.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Blinken somehow claimed that Israel took “significant steps” to avoid killing civilians in Gaza. This ignores the deliberate targeting of civilian homes. In one Israeli air raid, bombs hit a residential building in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, killing 10 people; two women and eight children…
Not to be outdone by the Democrats, in the neoconservative wing of the Senate, Marco Rubio used Israel’s slaughter in Gaza as a political opportunity to sabotage renewed talks with Tehran. Rubio led an effort, backed by more than forty other Republican lawmakers, to thwart all sanctions relief and end talks with Iran. Rubio was hoping to preclude any U.S. return to the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA constitutes the most intrusive international inspections regime in history over Iran’s civilian nuclear program. Iran is a long time signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty unlike Israel, who has a clandestine but well known nuclear weapons arsenal.
On top of the annual $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel, five days before the war, Biden approved another $735 million weapons sale. The sale consists primarily of Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs). The JDAMs are used to convert unguided bombs into precision guided munitions or “smart bombs.” JDAMs were a weapon of choice during the assault on Gaza.
In one instance, Israel dropped a “smart bomb” on a building that contained offices used by the Associated Press, Middle East Eye, and Al Jazeera.
The targeting and destruction of Al-Jalaa Tower have been condemned by a number of local and foreign media groups, including two of its occupants, The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, which launched its own investigation identifying the weapon that wrecked its offices as a GBU-31, one of several JDAM variants known to have been exported by the U.S. to Israel in past years.
Israel even bombed roads around hospitals impeding ambulances from helping victims reach healthcare centers. A week into the war, Gaza’s Ministry of Information was reporting $18 million worth of damage done to streets and other key infrastructure alone.
“Why Do They Hate Us?” 20 Years Later
In the wake of the events of September 11th, 2001, Americans often pondered “why do they hate us?” The best way to answer this question is to analyze the words of Osama Bin Laden, the words he used to convince others to follow him and join his cause.
Throughout the 1990s, he called for violence against the U.S. explicitly for the U.S. Army and Air Force bases occupying Muslim holy land on the Arabian Peninsula. He railed against America, under then President Bill Clinton, for making the Peninsula a “staging post” for the bombing and blockade of Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims. He also pointed to U.S. support for myriad authoritarian Middle East dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He hoped to bait us into a protracted war that would bleed us dry. The plan is for us to eventually leave, but only after bankrupting ourselves and destabilizing the region, making al Qaeda’s long desired local revolutions more plausible. His plan is working better than expected.
In 1996, Bin Laden issued his first “fatwa” against the United States, he did not incite hate against Americans for their love of freedom and liberty. Contrarily, he specifically complained about U.S. support for Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.
The youths hold you responsible for all the killings, evictions, and displacements of the Muslims and the violation of their sacred places which were carried out by your Jewish brothers in Palestine using moneys and arms you supplied them with. [emphasis added]
We declared jihad against the U.S. government because the U.S. government is unjust, criminal, and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal, whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of [Palestine]… we believe the U.S. is directly responsible for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq. [emphasis added]
Along with some of the other fellow lead hijackers, Mohammed Atta, the man who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was motivated to attack Americans over their government’s support for Israel. In the book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, Scott Horton details Atta’s trajectory,
…as Lawrence Wright reported in The Looming Tower, in April 1996, after Israel launched their Operation Grapes of Wrath campaign in Southern Lebanon,… Atta signed his last will and testament, a symbol of his willingness to die in the fight against those he blamed for the war. As journalist Terry McDermott explains in Perfect Soldiers, his book on Atta’s so-called “Hamburg cell” of September 11th plotters, they had all agreed it was the Americans who were responsible for what Israel was doing since the U.S. government gives Israel so many billions of dollars in military equipment and other financial aid.
During Operation Grapes of Wrath, in what is called the First Qana Massacre, the Israelis infamously bombed a U.N. compound killing more than one hundred civilians seeking shelter. Qana was referenced often by Bin Laden in the speeches and writings that influenced Atta and his associates to join up the jihad.
In reality, Israel is ruthlessly occupying about six million people in Palestine with virtually no rights while expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The so called “Two State Solution” is dead. Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, Israel’s top human rights organization, issued reports this year calling the situation in Israel/Palestine a one-state situation akin to apartheid. As Sheldon Richman says, one state “dedicated to Jewish supremacy or domination.” Lately, Israeli ultra-nationalism, with the accompanying street violence, has been on full display without the establishment media’s filters. During the war, evidence proliferated across social media with videos exposing, yet again, the dystopian reality that is the life of Palestinians not just in the occupied territories but, within the 1948 borders too, in what is called Israel proper. In cities like Bet Yam and Lod, Arabs were attacked in the streets by roving mobs of Israelis destroying Palestinian owned businesses and storefronts.
What Must Be Done
It’s been 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. On Memorial Day, neoconservative spokesman and Senator Lindsey Graham, with an ear to ear grin, stood next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lied to the American people’s faces. He said “nobody does more to protect America from radical Islam than our friends in Israel.” He was lobbying his own country for another billion dollars in weaponry for the Israelis. Ironically, Tel Aviv has, for years, supported al Qaeda during the war in Syria against their common enemy in Damascus. So much for our ‘greatest ally’ in the Middle East.
From the beginning, the al Qaeda/terrorism issue was framed in a kind of unreality that shared little to no resemblance with the truth. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda was only a few hundred men, formally backed by Ronald Regan against the Soviets, tucked away in Nangarhar Province. It was the U.S. and its allies that started this fight when we supported Israel’s occupations, put troops on Saudi soil and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
And therefore, aside from dealing with those directly responsible for the attack, whom the Taliban offered to hand over anyway, there was no need to become further bogged down in the region. As it would only kill exponentially more innocent people, create more enemies, more war, more blowback, and destroy our economy.
But we were ceaselessly told by our government that September 11th, 2001 changed everything. Under the spell of the Cathedral, our society accordingly goosestepped into an era of totalitarianism at home to defeat the artificially inflated threat abroad. And what do we have to show for it? Record breaking “defense” budgets, unending mass surveillance, trillions of dollars in crushing debt, indefinite global wars against vaguely defined enemies, millions killed and displaced, torture prisons, assassinations of American citizens, thousands of dead and maimed soldiers, a suicide epidemic among veterans, militarized police, hyper divisive fake corporate news, ongoing economic crises and moral decay. In the end, we sacrificed our character and our way of life. And none of it was necessary.
U.S. support for Israel is a travesty, a stain on our history and present. And because of our own corrupt, imperialist government, Americans are still in the line of fire as Tel Aviv continues to kill men, women, and children on our dime and in our name. We can no longer morally, financially, legally, or strategically afford to offer aid to a regional superpower violating international law. Israel, an internationally notorious apartheid state, killing civilians, perpetually at war, armed with nuclear weapons, and comfortably surrounded by friendly dictatorships, has received well over $200 billion in U.S. money, adjusted for inflation, since its founding. Netanyahu himself once remarked, it is “absurd.”
As Jason Ditz, news editor at Antiwar.com, points out, “Israel’s relationship to the US has long centered around intense lobbying and getting embarrassingly large amounts of military aid ($58 billion in 20 years, more than all other US aid recipients combined).”
Israel uses its American taxpayer-funded, state of the art military to subjugate Palestinians, stealing their property in East Jerusalem and the West Bank while bombing those held prisoner in the Gaza concentration camp. Israel is also constantly attacking its neighbors, such as Syria, whom the Israelis conduct airstrikes against on a weekly basis.
It is a supreme disservice to the victims of 9/11, their memory, and their survivors, to continue down this road, year after year, still funding Israel’s atrocities and fighting the endless Middle East wars. It is time for the American people to not only renounce Washington’s permanent war agenda but emphatically refuse to foot the bill for Israel’s crimes against humanity.
On the basis of baseless accusations regarding the SolarWinds hack, the U.S. is launching cyberattacks, and may be adding more sanctions, against the Russians. According to The New York Times, the attack will be a “series of clandestine actions across Russian networks that are intended to be evident to President Vladimir V. Putin and his intelligence services and military but not to the wider world.”
As Dave Decamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, has reported,
The planned cyberattack is being framed as retaliation for the hack of the software firm SolarWinds that affected several US government agencies. The SolarWinds hack was discovered late last year. It was immediately blamed on Russia by members of Congress and Western media outlets despite a lack of evidence that showed Moscow was responsible.
The US formally attributed blame to Russia for the SolarWinds hack in January. The FBI, NSA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Office of the DNI released a statement that said the hack was “likely Russian in origin.” Missing from the statement was any evidence for the accusation.
The fact is SolarWinds’ update server password was “solarwinds123.” It was posted publicly online four years ago, at GitHub, and almost anybody could have pulled this hack off.
Here’s Decamp again;
The reality is, attributing cyberactivity is difficult as hackers have methods to conceal their identity. One reason US officials and media outlets say it could have been Russia is the sophistication of the hack. But testimony from SolarWinds’ former CEO and a cybersecurity expert made it clear that anybody could have accessed SolarWinds’ servers due to a major security lapse.
After the hack was first discovered, Vinoth Kumar, a cybersecurity expert who advised SolarWinds, said the password for the firm’s update server was “solarwinds123.” Kumar said he warned SolarWinds that anyone could access the server because of this password. “This could have been done by any attacker, easily,” he told Reuters last December.
Kumar’s claim about the password turned out to be true. It was confirmed during congressional hearings in February that not only was “solarwinds123” the password it was also leaked and available to the public on the internet for years. Former SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson blamed an intern for posting the password on GitHub, a platform programmers use to share software information.
“They violated our password policies and they posted that password on an internal, on their own private GitHub account,” Thompson said during a joint hearing by the House Oversight and Homeland Security committees.
Sudhakar Ramakrishna, the current SolarWinds CEO, said the password was publicly available as early as 2017. “I believe that was a password that an intern used on one of his GitHub servers back in 2017,” he said. SolarWinds did not correct the issue until November 2019. According to the timeline from SolarWinds, suspicious activity on their server began in September 2019.
The SolarWinds hack scandal has been and will continue to be cynically wielded by the Deep State, the corporate press, and the hawks in the administration against Biden to hem him in on foreign policy vis a vis Russia where he is already dangerously bellicose.
As Ray McGovern, Russia expert, former CIA analyst and Presidential briefer, along with Joe Lauria, the editor-in-chief of Consortium News, wrote late last year,
The hyperbolic, evidence-free media reports on the “fresh outbreak” of the Russian-hacking disease seems an obvious attempt by intelligence to handcuff President-elect Joe Biden into a strong anti-Russian posture as he prepares to enter the White House.
Biden might well need to be inoculated against the Russophobe fever.
There are obvious Biden intentions worrying the intelligence agencies, such as renewing the Iran nuclear deal and restarting talks on strategic arms limitation with Russia. Both carry the inherent “risk” of thawing the new Cold War.
Instead, New Cold Warriors are bent on preventing any such rapprochement with strong support from the intelligence community’s mouthpiece media. U.S. hardliners are clearly still on the rise.
Interestingly, this latest hack story came out a day before the Electoral College formally elected Biden, and after the intelligence community, despite numerous previous warnings, said nothing about Russia interfering in the election. One wonders whether that would have been the assessment had Trump won.
Instead Russia decided to hack the U.S. government.
Except there is (typically) no hard evidence pinning it on Moscow.
Ironically, according to a recent report, at the Washington Post, the spooks at the U.S. National Intelligence Council “asses” that indeed Russia, Iran, Cuba, as well as Hezbollah interfered in the 2020 election, or as respectively in China’s case and Venezuela’s “considered” influencing the outcome or had the “intent” to do so.
So what the US intelligence cartel is asking us to believe this time around is that America’s democracy has suffered yet another invisible attack, the evidence for which is of course top secret, and that the culprits involved are most of the governments the US intelligence cartel doesn’t like. Also, we’re being asked to believe that US-aligned nations like Saudi Arabia and Israel have had no similar interventions in the US electoral process at all.
And of course we’re already getting reports that this narrative will be used to justify sanctions against many of the accused nations, including Iran (which would necessarily kill the nuclear deal Biden campaigned on re-entering).
“The Biden admin is expected to announce sanctions related to election interference as soon as next week, three admin officials tell me,” CNN’s Kylie Atwood reports on Twitter. “They didn’t disclose details related to the expected sanctions but said that they’ll target multiple countries including Russia, China and Iran.”
Under the Donald Trump administration, largely due to the pressure of the Russiagate conspiracy theories that dominated media coverage, the neocons’ new Cold Wars ramped up dramatically. U.S.-Russian relations rapidly deteriorated and tensions rose higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Among other antagonistic actions, the U.S. killed Russians in Syria, expanded NATO, expelled Russian diplomats, imposed a multitude of sanctions, armed Ukraine, and withdrew from key arms treaties such as Open Skies and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Despite popular mythology on both sides, it is a fact that under Trump the hawks decidedly won. They aim to keep it that way.
Thus far, the only good thing that has come out of U.S.-Russian relations under this new administration, was the five-year extension of the New Start Treaty. New Start caps the number of nuclear weapons strategically deployed by Washington and Moscow. As recently as last month, Russia indicated their willingness to reenter Open Skies, a treaty that allows unarmed surveillance flyovers of cooperating states. But perhaps imposing sanctions, hurdling new evidence-free election meddling accusations, and attacking the Russians’ cyber infrastructure is not the most optimal way to begin the diplomatic ball rolling. The hawks look to be winning again.
In addition to the economic warfare and cyberwarfare, there have been more belligerent military exercises. This month, the U.S. used B1-B Lancer bombers, which Biden deployed to Norway last month antagonizing the Russians, to conduct flights in their near abroad. The flights were over the North and Baltic Seas, including one bomber making “low flies” over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The U.S. was joined in this exercise by fighter jets from Poland, Italy, Germany, and Denmark.
Just days into his term, Biden sent an air craft carrier strike group and multiple warplanes to the South China Sea.
In this warming Cold War climate, America’s European allies, following the bipartisan U.S. hawkish lead, are poking the Russians and Chinese flagrantly. At last month’s Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “the rise of China is a defining issue for the transatlantic community.” Last year, NATO released a report that identified China as a major threat to Europe and suggested the alliance should build up cooperation with states like India, Japan, and Australia. These aforementioned states, along with the U.S., form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad. The Quad is seen as a burgeoning East Asian NATO by many hawks and, since the Trump administration, has been operating together more openly including major naval exercises last year, the Malabar drills, challenging China in the Bay of Bengal. The drills were the largest the dialogue has held since 2007. It has been reported this month, in the Financial Times, that that the Quad is working jointly with the U.S. on vaccine distribution, part of a “broad strategy,” to spite China’s regional influence. Leading the effort is Kurt Campbell, Obama’s “Asia Pivot” architect, who is now Biden’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council. Campbell is a former CEO and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, an ultra-hawkish, anti-China think tank funded by, among others, the arms industry, the Japanese embassy, Taiwan’s de facto embassy, Google, Facebook, and big banks. Since, the skirmishes between the Chinese and the Indians last year in the Western Himalayas, the US has increased intelligence sharing with India and signed a military pact with New Delhi. The Germans announced that in August they will sail a warship in Asia that will transit the South China Sea. The British will sail an air craft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth to East Asia and the South China Sea as well. Last month, French warplanes were intercepted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea. And beyond that, a French nuclear attack submarine, with another Navy ship, made a “patrol” in the South China Sea.
As reported by France 24, “In April 2019, there was a naval incident in the Taiwan Strait when Chinese ships told the French frigate Vendemiaire to leave the waterway that separates the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, another sensitive area claimed by Beijing.”
Under cover of the pandemic, Trump set records last year sailing warships through the Taiwan strait 13 times. Under Biden, the US has already sent warships through the Taiwan strait three times. Trump sold Taipei Lockheed’s upgraded F-16’s and Boeing Standoff Land Attack Missiles that can be fired from the F-16’s to hit “far inland” Chinese civilian and military targets. Neoconservative Senator Tom Cotton wants to draw a series of “crystal clear” redlines that for China would mean war with the U.S., including if Beijing invades India, Taiwan, or attempts to seize an island claimed by Taipei. Cotton also supports the decoupling of the economies of America and China.
Last year, Australian Senator Jim Molan who supports the US and Canberra’s partnerships on these anti-China policies, said “We are likely in the next three to five years or in the next five to ten years to be involved in a war between China and the United States.”
“Anti-neocon” Tucker Carlson advocates “…treating China like the dangerous Cold War level adversary it has clearly become.”
“Normalcy” was promised in Biden’s campaign rhetoric. However, what constitutes “normalcy” to the average American is not what Biden’s hawks have in mind. The problem is that the neoconservatives and their fellow travelers’ top priority of “full spectrum dominance” and/or global “primacy” has been deliberately normalized since the end of the previous Cold War and particularly since the beginning of the War on Terror. The neocons’ new Cold War is really a desperate attempt to conserve Charles Krauthammer’s fleeting “unipolar moment” in an increasingly multipolar world.
The foreign policy wing of the “Cathedral” desperately clings to Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol’s vision of the “new American century,” that is what they believed could have been: world domination, preventing the rise of another great power, the successful waging of multiple concurrent large wars, etc. They have only themselves to blame. George Bush, Barrack Obama, and Donald Trump were stupid to listen to these same neocons and blew America’s post-Cold War wad. The U.S. spent trillions of dollars, wasting untold capital, productive capacity, goodwill, and energy by killing, maiming, and displacing millions of people, and destroying Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, etc.
However, in their bitterness, and to deflect from their countless failures, the corporate press, dutifully hype up copious distrust, fear, jingoism, and hatred against the Russians and Chinese. They concurrently sow similar rage and dysfunction amongst us and our fellow countrymen. This is done to distract the populace from uniting against the common enemy, namely them, the same American ruling class that impoverishes us is stoking this so called “great power competition,” leading potentially to, global scale, catastrophic wars.
Since the George W. Bush era, when it comes to presidential elections, the American people have come to expect that the final contestants will be jingoes. After the primaries have finished and the nominees have been named, it can be presumed that both candidates will support, among other horrible things, an indefinite continuation of the overseas economic warfare, endless counter terrorism missions, support for authoritarian governments, and the assorted regime change operations synonymous with American foreign policy.
At this point, we have entered an era where the options are even worse. It almost goes without saying that whomever the process turns out will still back the above hyper-interventionist foreign policy. But now it is practically certain that the so called ‘serious’ or ‘electable’ contenders will be ultra-belligerent toward Russia and China, the next two greatest nuclear superpowers. With hindsight, we can say this was ultimately true even in former President Donald Trump’s case.
Contrary his orange, cartoonish caricature in the corporate press, Trump was a dangerous hawk on Russia. By his second month in office, he was sending U.S. troops and tanks to Russia’s next-door neighbor, Estonia, to participate in NATO military exercises. In February 2018, while illegally occupying eastern Syria, the Trump administration actually bombed and killed Russians. An early Reuters report said some 300 mercenaries “working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm“ were killed or injured in a battle with US occupation forces and their allies. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman claimed these numbers were wildly exaggerated, but said five of those killed were Russians. Trump bombed Syria’s government over chemical weapons attack allegations that turned out to be false flags. This was the case in Douma, where elements in the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons perpetrated a cover-up since exposed by whistleblowers. Trump imposed myriad sanctions on Russia and expanded NATO. He sent anti-tank missiles to the U.S. installed regime in Ukraine, something even Obama, who launched the coup there, as well as a devastating proxy war backing al Qaeda against Moscow’s allies in Syria, wouldn’t do.
He also directed massive amounts of taxpayer money, more than a trillion dollars over three decades, toward revamping U.S. nukes. This focus on the nuclear arsenal was largely done with an eye toward Moscow.
As Caitlin Johnstone has written, “…Trump’s Department of Defense rolled out a Nuclear Posture Review which CNN itself called ‘its toughest line yet against Russia’s resurgent nuclear forces.’”
“In its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia,” CNN reported last year.
This revision of nuclear policy includes the new implementation of “low-yield” nuclear weapons, which, because they are designed to be more “usable” than conventional nuclear ordinances, have been called “the most dangerous weapon ever” by critics of this insane policy. These weapons, which can remove some of the inhibitions that mutually assured destruction would normally give military commanders, have already been rolled off the assembly line.”
During their first call together, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin successfully saved the New Start Treaty. Post-Trump administration, New Start is the only significant arms control agreement between Washington and Moscow left standing. Trump withdrew the U.S. from both the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and Open Skies. New Start, negotiated during the Obama administration, restricts the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons between the two countries. For all of humanity, this five-year extension is very good news.
But that’s where the good news abruptly runs out. Biden is continuing this trend of bellicosity aimed at Russia and China.
Biden has done more than taunt Moscow. It was recently reported that Biden is deploying four B-1 bombers to Norway in a message to Putin. Following the Trump administration, Biden seeks to increase US military assets and personnel in the Arctic baiting Russia.
Russia hawks and NATO are hoping the U.S. keeps up the military activity in the Black Sea this year.
According to Stars and Stripes, the U.S. Navy spent 82 days in the Black Sea in 2020, down 19 days from the previous year.
Later that weekend, a Russian fighter plane made a low pass over the USS Donald Cook. The next day, the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet stated the USS Porter was conducting military drills in the Black Sea with the Ukrainian Navy.
Biden would include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO; which, before the ink is dry, would start a war pitting the U.S. against Russia. Antony Blinken, Biden’s Secretary of State and right hand man on foreign policy, also supports bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.
It could be worse. War criminal Michele Flournoy, an arch anti-China hawk, was originally assumed to be Biden’s Defense Secretary pick. In the event of a war, she advocates for the U.S. to build the capability to sink the entire Chinese military and civilian merchant fleet within the first 72 hours.
Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies have described Flournoy’s weapons wish list, “Flournoy’s solution to what she presents as a growing threat from China is to invest in a new generation of weapons, including hypersonic and long-range precision missiles and more high-tech unmanned systems.”
Back in December, Trump’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley echoed similar recommendations calling for US superiority in advanced weapons systems. Saying as well that, “If you put in artificial intelligence and you do man-machine teaming, add that to robotics, put in precision munitions and the ability to sense and see, throw in a few hypersonic weapons, and you’ve got a fundamental shift.”
Flournoy likely still holds great influence over the current administration’s foreign policy being the former business partner of Antony Blinken at WestExec Advisors, their military-industrial complex linked consulting firm. Their slogan was “bringing the situation room to the board room.” Also critical is her role as founder at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the neoconservative think tank, where Victoria Nuland was CEO. CNAS is one of the think tanks where multiple people on Biden’s Pentagon team hail from, including another China hawk recently appointed as an advisor to Defense Secretary Austin, Ely Ratner. Ratner said, in report for CNAS, the US must counter China with a “combat-credible posture in the Indo-Pacific.”
In 2016, Flournoy was tipped as Hillary Clinton’s choice for Secretary of Defense, and she co-authored a CNAS report titled “Expanding American Power” with a team of hawks that included former Cheney aide Eric Edelman, PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan and Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The report was seen as a view of how Clinton’s foreign policy would differ from Obama’s, with calls for higher military spending, arms shipments to Ukraine, renewed military threats against Iran, more aggressive military action in Syria and Iraq…all of which Trump has adopted.
CNAS is funded by, among others, the US State Department, Taiwan’s de facto embassy, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Comcast, Microsoft, Exxon, Mastercard, the Japanese Embassy to the United States, Citigroup, Facebook, Georgetown University, Google, and Raytheon.
Kurt Campbell, former CEO at CNAS and one of the main players behind Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” has been selected by Biden to be the National Security Council’s coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs. In the Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, Campbell recently co-authored a piece that argued the US should counter China by “…investing in long-range conventional cruise and ballistic missiles, unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft and underwater vehicles, guided-missile submarines, and high-speed strike weapons.”
The “diplomats” are no better. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s nominee for UN ambassador, has sworn to, if confirmed, act “aggressively against Chinese malign efforts.” Following in the ultra-hawkish former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s footsteps, Blinken has reaffirmed the US rejection of all Beijing’s claims over the waters in the South China Sea. Conducting what it calls “Freedom of Navigation Operations” (FONOPS), the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet will continue to unnecessarily insert itself into disputes between regional actors there who all have overlapping claims over the waters. Blinken has also said former President Donald Trump “was right in taking a tougher approach to China.”
Trump sold Taipei Lockheed Martin’s upgraded F-16s, not since George H.W. Bush has a president sold such arms to the Taiwanese. He also sold them Boeing’s AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missiles (SLAM) that can be fired from the F-16s to hit military and civilian targets inside China’s Nanjing region.
…[U.S. policy shifted] sharply toward a much more aggressive stance on the geo-strategic island at the heart of military tensions between the United States and China.
Branded “Fortress Taiwan” by the Pentagon, the ambitious arms deal was the engineered by Randall Schriver, a veteran pro-Taiwan activist and anti-China hardliner whose think tank had been financed by America’s biggest arms contractors and by the Taiwan government itself.
Since assuming the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs in early 2018, Schriver has focused primarily on granting his major arms company patrons the vaunted arms deals they had sought for years.
The arms sales Schriver has overseen represent the most dangerous U.S. escalation against China in years.
The British and French will be getting in on the action this year. On the eve of 2021, Lyle Goldstein, Research Professor at the U.S. Naval War College, wrote,
A recent NATO report broke new ground by fingering China as a military threat to Europe for the first time. At first glance, this would seem to indicate that Europe has been listening to Washington’s repeated warnings and has finally come around to the American point of view on the salience of “great power competition” that recognizes both Moscow and Beijing as dangers, with the latter perhaps constituting a more ominous threat.
Next year, both the French and British navies are planning major naval exercises, together with the U.S. and Japan, in the Western Pacific, namely in maritime domains proximate to China.
This week, a French Navy ship and submarine made “patrols” of the South China Sea. The U.S. sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to conduct drills there as well for the first time since last July.
In late January, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech warning against a “new Cold War.” He said “we should respect and accommodate differences, avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs and resolve disagreements through consultation and dialogue.”
In response to a question about the speech, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki replied “…our approach remains what it has been…” “We’re in a serious competition with China,” she said.
In its final days as the global hegemon, the American Empire is lashing out. In our lifetimes, this new Cold War could possibly soon morph into a hot war, or a World War, which would imperil all human life.
There is perhaps no greater imperative for the peace movement, the antiwar movement, or the libertarian movement than to expose and oppose these constant military provocations against Russia and China. These occur mostly out of sight and out of mind for the vast majority of the American population. The antiwar movement should permanently change that, as well as dismantle the mass media and government created artificial consensus of enmity toward both countries which could easily translate into war fever as economic and social conditions worsen. The hawks exploit the U.S. government’s numerous failures, political and financial, as well as in dealing with the pandemic, to redirect anger American anger at these targeted states. The American people should shut the U.S. Empire down. It is putting all human life in the crosshairs; it costs us more than a trillion dollars each year. The Empire is what is bankrupting America, along with the Federal Reserve System used to distort the economy to temporarily stave off the inevitable results of all the spending and money printing necessary to fund the endless wars year by year. As these crises spiral out of control, the harsh domestic consequences of U.S. polices are reframed as Russian and Chinese abuses. This occurs while the corporate press and Congress ensure the targeted governments are painted as the ultimate evil. We must smash the bipartisan propaganda paradigm and prevent this imperialist strategy from causing the very conflicts being fomented by the military, neoconservatives, arms dealers, and think tankers.
Some 70% of the Yemeni population live in northern Yemen’s Houthi territory. Since the war began, north Yemen has been under a savage U.S.-backed, Saudi naval blockade. 80% of the country relies on aid to survive and north Yemen is where the widespread malnutrition is most intense. In essence, the designation was a death sentence for those civilians. The Houthis have been in power in Sanaa for six years. The U.S.-backed, Saudi puppet President has spent much of that time on house arrest in Riyadh. Aid groups who wished to help Yemenis in the north, would necessarily have to work with the Houthis and therefore open themselves up to being hit with U.S. sanctions. This policy was designed to tie the hands of the Biden administration as well, who had, during the campaign, already indicated their intention to end the war.
It remains to be seen what “offensive” operations and “relevant” arms sales means exactly. As they say, the devil is in the details. But tentatively, there seems to be reasons for hope. But make no mistake, right now is the time for activists, and concerned citizens opposed to the brutal Yemen war, to redouble their efforts and apply the most pressure on the administration, as well as Congress.
We were endlessly told that the Trump era’s racism and authoritarianism were an unfortunate, ugly aberration, a hiccup, in the long, progressive arc of history. An arc we are all encouraged to simply love and adore. Of course, all of this is ludicrous.
Biden, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with his right-hand man and now Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in their role overseeing hearings on whether or not to invade Iraq lied the American people into the second of almost four American wars. For thirty years, since this January, the U.S. has been bombing Iraq. As a result of the Iraq War, more than a million people were killed.
Biden did not just support the war. He served as Bush and Cheney’s Senate gatekeeper and whip, guaranteeing a majority vote for the war in the upper chamber while controlled by the opposition party. If Biden had any moral courage at all, he would have stopped that war. All he would have had to do was bring in real experts like former UN weapons inspection chief Scott Ritter and former CENTCOM commander General Anthony Zinni to debunk the case that Iraq was stockpiling banned weapons of mass destruction or had programs that necessitated that war. The senator could have asked Gen. Scowcroft to testify. He could have held up the authorization vote and refused to support an aggressive war. Instead, Biden conspired with the White House to force the authorization through.
Blinken, along with Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Samantha Power, Biden’s pick to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), helped engineer the disastrous wars in Libya and Syria. Power served on Barrack Obama’s National Security Council at the time, before being promoted to be UN ambassador, and was one of the main players advocating for the Libyan war.
As Dave Decamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, reported,
Just over a week into his term, a spokesmen from Biden’s State Department said the administration intends to continue Trump’s policy of an indefinite occupation of northeastern Syria. Of course, instead of saying it’s to ‘take the oil,’ like Trump, the Foggy Bottom spokesman said this is now about supporting the Kurds.
In his Senate confirmation hearings, Blinken promised the Biden regime would end U.S. support for the Saudis’ war in “short order.” Some arms sales have been paused and are under review. The war continues, Yemeni children are still being starved to death and bombed. When will they get to have some “normalcy?”
More than anyone else she is the face of the US-led violent coup against a democratically-elected government in Ukraine in 2014. Nuland not only passed out snacks to the coup leaders, she was caught on a phone call actually plotting the coup right down to who would take power once the smoke cleared.
Unlike the fake Capitol “coup,” this was a real overthrow. Unlike the buffalo horn-wearing joke who desecrated the “sacred” Senate chamber, the Ukraine coup had real armed insurrectionists with a real plan to overthrow the government. Eventually, with the help of incoming Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, they succeeded – after thousands of civilians were killed.
Now it seems the ruling class is preparing us to not only accept but support an ever intensifying, hostile stance against China. This other potentially catastrophic “new normal” is rapidly morphing into a war footing.
Even during this pandemic and financial crisis, cash strapped Americans are expected to pay the tab, one way or the other, now or in the future, for military budgets and government spending levels greater than those of the George W. Bush and Barrack Obama years. This is in accordance with the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s absurd priority to redouble efforts toward so called ‘great power competition’ with Russia and China. In keeping with this new strategy, President Joe Biden said, while on the campaign trail, that he expected the military budget to increase during his rule.
The South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) recorded 41 US flights over the disputed South China Sea, six over the East China Sea, and 13 over the Yellow Sea.
In a report released on Monday, the SCSPI said, based on refueling activity, the U.S. could be preparing for long-distance attacks on targets in the South China Sea. The report said the US sent planes from Guam to refuel surveillance planes over the South China Sea.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson inflamed the anti-China mania before his audience on an almost nightly basis. Considering Carlson’s resume includes working for Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard, hosting shows on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and applying for a position with the CIA, one wonders how he has been able to so successfully market himself as a populist, anti-establishment hero. Vis a vis China, he has essentially assumed the Rachel Maddow role. This all seems less puzzling given who his father, Dick Carlson, was. Richard W. Carlson was the public liaison for the U.S. Information Agency, director of Voice of America during the Cold War’s final years, and President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Tucker now plays an anti-neocon on TV, but bizarrely from 2003-2011, his father was the Vice Chairman of the anti-Iran, neoconservative think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Other significant aspects of Carlson’s term as director included opening a Moscow bureau and coverage of the Tiananmen Square student demonstrations in 1989, the end of Soviet jamming, and establishment of the Creole Service. He also oversaw the newly-launched Radio Martí broadcasting to Cuba.
It seems obvious where Tucker gets his knack for assisting America’s propaganda campaigns against its Cold War foes.
The early days of Biden’s tenure as President should serve as a warning to us all. Ostensibly Biden was elected to mercifully restore “normalcy.” However, he has already continued to turn up the heat on Washington’s cold war with Beijing. Four days into his term, Biden sent an aircraft carrier group into the South China Sea. Seven U.S. warplanes were spotted flying in the area as well.
President Donald Trump seems uninterested in ending any “endless wars.” Before leaving office, he could and should do so in Afghanistan, for example, where U.S. forces—while losing the longest war in our history—have led a brutal occupation for nearly 20 years.
In a previous column, this author covered the appointment of the antiwar, retired Col. Douglas Macgregor as senior adviser to Christopher Miller, the new acting Secretary of Defense. Many were cautiously optimistic that the recent Pentagon personnel shake up, that included the appointment of both aforementioned men, could herald an era of genuine last minute ‘America First’ foreign policy decisions. Namely, full U.S. exits from not only Afghanistan, but potentially Iraq and Somalia too.
Last month, the news arrived that after all the rosy predictions by some and the mainstream media pearl clutching over the appointments, Trump delivered virtually nothing.
The War Department announced that troop levels would be down to 2,500 in both Iraq and Afghanistan by January 15.
But under the U.S./Taliban peace plan, the timeline already established was to have troop levels down to 2,500 in Afghanistan by early January.
Due to the previous troop withdrawals from Iraq, which were initiated by Trump to his credit, there are approximately 3,000 soldiers deployed there now. So, all this amounted to was essentially that Trump made plans to take a token 500 troops out of Iraq. The Iraqis have been bombed and savaged by the U.S. military for nearly 30 years, including with chemical weapons such as white phosphorous and depleted uranium. Successive administrations have killed upwards of 2 million people there.
The president has ordered the removal of nearly all ground troops from Somalia, whom were mostly sent there by Trump himself. Even if he withdraws all the boots on the ground, if he doesn’t end America’s air war in Somalia based out of Kenya and Djibouti, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed, and where these ground troops will largely be relocated, this does not constitute ending the war at all. This is a cynical, empty gesture. It is all too transparent that he is not “bringing troops home from Africa” as Rand Paul claims, this is just optics.
Unfortunately, the likelihood is that Joe Biden will not change his stance on Afghanistan and will use that number, 2,500, as a floor not a ceiling for future deployments. He will probably keep US forces there indefinitely. Biden has said he will also maintain the troop presence in Syria and Iraq, without any plans for extrication, because its ‘complicated.’
With Trump, the people thought they voted for something different, but what they received was more of the same. Like Obama and Bush II, Trump was lying to his base, despicably pretending to be opposed to unnecessary wars in faraway lands. Trump made snide comments about the military industrial complex, etc. while looting the American people to pay for it all. He carried on with his “antiwar” façade while bombing to smithereens the same far flung countries that Bush and Obama nearly destroyed. At the same time, he was starving some of the poorest people in the world, from Venezuela to North Korea, with “maximum pressure” sanctions. He prioritized satiating the Israel first crowd first, and set the stage for brinksmanship with Beijing, as well as Moscow, while ensuring ever higher military budgets.
Cholera, along with the coronavirus pandemic, has further devastated the country as a result of the strategic deprivation of the civilians there. Yemen has seen the greatest cholera epidemic in recorded history, with over 2 million cases and thousands of deaths.
In the waning days of his administration, Trump is not shutting down this moral catastrophe he has forever bylined. Experts agree, the U.S. has the power to end the war but Trump has refused to many times before. This is a president, after all, who infamously celebrated U.S.-Saudi arms sales with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince and butcher of Yemen, in his oval office as a great boon for the weapons industry. No instead, his administration is working to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group, further thwarting the delivery of what little aid is able to get through the U.S./Saudi blockade and reach Houthi controlled areas. This measure is designed to prevent Biden from ending the war and further tighten the blockade strangling Yemen. He has also threatened to veto resolutions opposing new arms sales to the UAE including reaper drones, thousands of munitions, and F-35 fighter jets. Trump has previously used his veto powers to block bills that attempted to end the war, including War Powers resolutions. The UAE is allied with al Qaeda on the ground in Yemen, and have been for years, Trump can read about it in the Associated Press. In Yemen, there is little to no distinction between the Islamic State fighters and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This reminds one of Trump’s “bomb the shit” out of ISIS quote. He is, in effect, selling them weapons instead. In the end, Trump did not even have to veto the above efforts, tragically the Senate voted against all the endeavors to block the arms sales.
Trump’s foreign policy was brutal. The UN has said nearly a quarter of a million people have been killed in the treasonous Yemen genocide alone. His trademark sanctions, for instance, have killed more than one hundred thousand Venezuelans.
The president has let his base down. And his base encouraged this by rallying to his defense repeatedly, without ever pressuring him to follow through on his myriad unfulfilled “antiwar” promises. For one thing, maybe they could have used their power to force him to leave Syria, the war he ran most against in 2016. Instead, Trump illegally occupies the country with ground troops ostensibly to take Syria’s oil, further hobbling their recovery after the war.
The antiwar movement knows the hawks will not give up their wars and the loot of said wars easily. The powers that be understand their wars are growing unpopular and have learned to accept that, going forward, the usual, overt John McCain/Hillary Clinton style, across the board jingoism may not win elections. Trump is part of a larger pattern. In the last several years, we have seen a stream of “anti-establishment,” so called “outsiders” who market themselves as “antiwar” by comparison with the former, but who have their own hawkish foreign policies: Steve Bannon, Bernie Sanders, and Tulsi Gabbard to name a few. Furthermore, Ilhan Omar opposed Trump’s talk of withdrawals from Syria, saying it would empower, among others, Russia. Astoundingly, she even put her signature on an AIPAC circulated, anti-Iran letter. The letter supported an extension of the now lifted, imperialist, UN arms embargo.
The silver lining here is that that Trump has cynically, and for his own nefarious reasons, convinced his base that they are “antiwar.” Thus, he has substantially enlarged the already sizeable ranks of many on the broad right who consider themselves “antiwar.” Perhaps this can be exploited by non-interventionists and the antiwar movement during the coming Biden years. His base may have been too reluctant to call out Trump’s hypocrisy and mass murder. However, they should have no qualms full throatily opposing Biden and his trigger-happy cabinet, insisting they listen up and do what we say.
The American people have grown tired of trillion dollar, “endless wars” but they must cease being placated with mere rhetoric and persona. We must begin demanding, everywhere, that the US immediately get “out now.”
Leading up to his White House exit, President Donald Trump has dramatically increased tensions with Iran, possibly making war inevitable.
In mid-November, The New York Timesreported that, in an oval office meeting, Trump asked his top aides for options for attacking Iran’s civilian nuclear sites. The main target was the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Trump’s advisers apparently talked him out of the move, citing the unpredictable and far reaching war such a decision could catalyze. Yet he has been said to have left other options on the table.
Natanz had previously been hit with the Stuxnet virus by the US and Israel. The facility was bombed this summer by Israel as part of a protracted covert campaign of sabotage and terrorism against Iran. After the Natanz bombing, Iran decided to move this main center for enriching uranium and building centrifuges underground.
The US congress has shamelessly decided to join Trump, Mike Pompeo, Benjamin Netanyahu, the UAE, and Bahrain in exploiting the mirage of these recent “historic Middle East peace deals.” There is an effort underway to provide US weaponry to Israel that can destroy the nuclear facility wherever it may be.
When Israel sabotaged Iran’s Natanz civilian nuclear enrichment facility on July 3, 2020, Iran would respond by renovating the plant underground. Iran has followed this legal nuclear security strategy before. Israel does not need to acquire bunker buster bombs to maintain a military edge over the new UAE, it needs them to restore an edge over Iran.
So, bipartisan legislation in the US congress takes care of that. If passed, new legislation would permit the sale to Israel of 30,000-pound bunker buster bombs, also known as MOPs, or massive ordnance penetrators, that can penetrate even facilities that are deep underground. Representative Josh Gottheimer, one of the authors of the legislation, offers the assurance that the Mops would “shore up Israel’s qualitative military edge.” But not against the UAE, who will be receiving the US weapons as part of their deal with Israel: against Iran.
These signatory countries to the Abraham Accords, such as Bahrain and the UAE, were no enemies of Israel. This is an American corporate welfare scheme and a sham. It is intended to codify the precedent, as Pompeo has made clear, where so called “peace” agreements can be made between Arab countries and Israel without addressing the Palestinians’ plight. The authoritarian, Gulf fiefdoms are once again backstabbing the Palestinians, whom of course live under the boot of the Israelis in what is the longest modern military occupation, as well as a brutal apartheid regime.
The other goal here is to isolate and box Iran in by surrounding her with enemies armed to the teeth with U.S. weaponry.
The sharp uptick in the already highly aggressive US-Iran policy is owed ostensibly to the fact that Iran has been violating the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, upon analysis, it becomes obvious that this is a negotiating tactic. Firstly, the US abrogated itself from the deal. Secondly, the Europeans failed to provide sanctions relief to Iran, for fear of secondary sanctions placed on them by the Americans. Third, the deal itself, in Articles 26 and 36, permits Iran to walk back its commitments under the agreement if the other parties have done so and the US, as well as the Europeans, have left their obligations unfulfilled. Iran waited an entire year before they began to increase their stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and then only enriched slightly above the limits set by the JCPOA.
A bill was just approved in the Iranian parliament to increase enrichment up to 20%. Dave Decamp, assistant news editor at Antiwar.com, breaks the details down,
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report detailing violations of the JCPOA. The IAEA said Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium reached 2,442.2 kg, which is 12 times the amount allowed under the deal of 202.8kg. The uranium is only being enriched at 4.5 percent, slightly higher than the 3.67 percent permitted under the JCPOA and vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade.
…if Iran does adopt the strategy, it will likely be hyped by the US as the Islamic Republic racing to develop a nuclear bomb. But in reality, the plan would be another calculated transparent effort by Iran to gain leverage for sanctions relief and boost its domestic industries in the meantime.
In an official statement, Pompeo recently boasted, “[t]oday, Iran’s economy faces a currency crisis, mounting public debt, and rising inflation. Prior to the Maximum Pressure campaign, Iran was exporting nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. Now it struggles to export even a quarter of that volume.”
The sanctions and other measures have designedly crippled Iran’s civilians during the Coronavirus crisis. As Medea Benjamin and Ariel Gold, of Code Pink, have said “[these sanctions] have affected everything from the price of food and housing to Iran’s ability to obtain life-saving medicines during the pandemic. [Trump] has blocked Iran from getting an IMF $5 billion emergency loan to deal with the pandemic.”
Elliot Abrams, the arch neocon and special envoy to Iran, has said that more sanctions will be piled on Iran with each coming week for the duration of the Trump Presidency. He has gloated that he doubts if it will be even possible for Joe Biden to return to the JCPOA. Sanctions are a precursor to war. Israel’s Settlement Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of the Likud party, said Israel would go to war with Iran if Biden wins the election and tries to return to the JCPOA.
In what was seen as a clear message intended for Iran, the US deployed long-range bombers, US Air Force B-52s, to the Middle East. A State Department official, in Abu Dhabi traveling with Pompeo at the time, told the Associated Press “all options are on the table.” Israeli officials told Axios that Israel’s military has recently been ordered to prepare for an impending US strike on Iran during the “sensitive period” before Trump leaves office. The US military ensured tensions simmered further when the USS Nimitz carrier group headed into the Persian Gulf and F-16s were moved from a base in Germany to the UAE.
U.S. Central Command said a detachment of U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets moved from Germany to the UAE. The base in the UAE the F-16s moved to has been at the center of operations for planes patrolling the Persian Gulf to monitor Iran’s navy. The F-16 movement could be a sign the U.S. is preparing for a wider conflict in the region…
The journalist Elijah Magnier told Joanne Leon, of the Around the Empire podcast, that Iran had noted the above actions as preparations for some future event to anticipate. Thus they applied strategic restraint when Israel, likely with the Marxist-Islamist Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) terrorist group, assassinated their top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside of Tehran last week. The Israelis have not officially claimed responsibility, although in the pages of the New York Times and elsewhere, they have unofficially taken credit and even demanded that the hit be celebrated.
In fact, investigative journalist Gareth Porter has reported extensively on how the MEK and Mossad forged documents used to cultivate the propaganda narrative behind the phantom Iranian nuclear weapons program allegedly headed by Fakhrizadeh.
After Fakhrizadeh’s murder, there were subsequent reports out of Iraq, denied by Iran, of possibly another high-profile assassination, a drone strike possibly from the US or Israel, this time of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander in Syria.
In advance of the Fakhrizadeh killing, a source speaking to the Washington Post who was said to be familiar with the previously mentioned oval office meeting, said Trump was ready to respond immediately to the death of any American which could be attributed to Iran. Iran has no interest in starting the very war its worst enemies want. Nevertheless, this tired “redline” tactic is often used by US administrations wherein the announcement acts as a de facto solicitation for somebody to commit a false flag attack that can be pinned quickly on Iran or one of its allies, providing a casus belli.
This was likely the case late last year in Iraq. A rocket attack in Kirkuk was blamed on Iranian backed militias. But according to Iraqi intelligence the rockets more likely came from ISIS. Although the U.S. ignored their Iraqi counterparts investigating the matter. And before this intelligence was revealed, the death of an American defense contractor was used to justify US bombings that killed dozens of militiamen belonging to the Kataib Hezbollah group, the Islamic State’s enemies. This led to massive protests at the US embassy and Trump’s January drone strike assassination, at the Baghdad International Airport, that killed Qasem Soleimani, the top Iranian General and national figure.
According to a Daily Beast report published soon after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Trump has essentially gifted over his Iran policy to his most hawkish aides in these waning weeks of his term. Chiefly Pompeo and Abrams have been handed the reigns by Trump with his only condition being don’t start “World War III.” The former torturer, now CIA director, Gina Haspel is “intimately involved” as well. Based on the article, their policy is to discreetly support, and assist with intelligence, cloak and dagger actions by allies like Israel. The president is content to have Israel bomb and assassinate Iranian targets. He just wishes to avoid a situation where US soldiers might get killed. Yet, if this war starts before he leaves office, American soldiers will certainly die. There will doubtless be asymmetrical retaliations and casualties probably immediately in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, so this policy is contradictory.
This is the usual pattern with Trump. He completely eschews his base and their antiwar desires to please his most hawkish, pro-Israel backers and neoconservative advisers. Worse, his base rarely, if ever, holds him accountable. If Trump wishes to have another shot at the presidency in 2024, he should fire the hawks and stop this war in its tracks. He must lift the sanctions, regain control over his Iran policy, and turn toward peace and diplomacy.
The deal itself was to prevent the war the neocons and the Israelis wanted; it was unnecessary from the standpoint of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Ayatollah Khomeini prohibited such weapons during the Iran-Iraq war and Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty of which they have never been shown to have violated. Of course, Israel is not a signatory.
But this is the way Israel operates, much like the U.S. hawks, they project their crimes onto their enemies. They lie and say Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, when their state’s raison d’être is to wipe Palestine and its people off the map. They attempt to deceive the world saying Iran has nukes, when, in the Middle East, only they do. They say Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terror and point to Hezbollah. But Hezbollah was born in resistance to a nearly 20-year Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon that killed 20,000 people and partly led to the 9/11 attacks. Israeli intelligence even cultivated the creation of Hamas. Tel Aviv is behind the MEK and supported al Qaeda in Syria. And in the occupied territories, the IDF regularly commits acts of terror. Videos flood the internet daily of the IDF in the West Bank kidnapping children, beating civilians, overseeing settler attacks, conducting home demolitions, shooting unarmed protestors, etc.
The Iranians desire independence which used to mean something to Americans too. The Trump base should stand against these provocations most of all, especially those who feel they were robbed in this most recent US election. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Shah, the fascist dictator whom the CIA, with British intelligence, installed in a 1953 coup. To do this, the CIA overthrew the dually elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.
Whether their case is sound or not, given the reaction of a great deal of Trump’s base to the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, they should empathize with the Iranians.
As Ron Paul says. “…on a human level people resent that kind of interference in their affairs.”
Ironically, this would apply as well to all the Democrats who erroneously believed Russia intervened in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump. But again this was pure projection, the same political factions that backed the National Endowment for Democracy’s coup in Ukraine made up this nonsense about Russia.
Unfortunately, as much as those on the side of diplomacy would like to see Biden come through on his promises to return to the JCPOA, there have been indications from his ultra-hawkish soon-to-be cabinet that imply the brinksmanship described above may continue, regardless, with the new administration.
Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector and US intelligence officer, has said,
Biden and his team have been paying lip service to the notion of rejoining the JCPOA. However, the preconditions they have attached to such an action – Iran would have to return to full compliance first, and commit to immediate follow-on negotiations on a deal that would be more restrictive – were widely seen as a deal-breaker. The fact is, many of Biden’s closest advisers – including Secretary of State-designee Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor-designee Jake Sullivan – have indicated that Biden may have no choice but to continue the Trump policy of sanctions-based ‘maximum pressure.’
Such follow on negotiations, will likely be nonstarters for the Iranians who will not jeopardize their independent foreign policy, i.e. backing their allies in the region, and their national self-defense, i.e. their ballistic missile program. Those missiles and alliances are their primary deterrence.
Americans seem to detest coups or imaginary coups when they affect themselves. But they allow their imperialist government to impose sanctions, interfere in democratic elections, wage aggressive wars, and overthrow governments all over the world. American exceptionalism is a hell of a drug but just say no. The American people must rapidly sober up and choose peace.
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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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