Guaido’s Last Ride

Guaido’s Last Ride

Remember Juan Guaido? Just a year ago the Venezuelan politician, unknown even in his own country, was tapped by the US government to lead a coup against the elected government of Nicolas Maduro. In a phone call with no less than Vice President Mike Pence himself, Guaido was told that if he declared himself president the US would back him. So…he did.

Guaido hadn’t received a single vote to be president in Venezuela’s election – in fact he never even ran for the office – but such absurdity has never stopped the US government from backing military coups overseas. All done in the name of “democracy,” to be sure.

News of US recognition of Guaido as the lawful president of Venezuela led to an avalanche of lies meant to bolster Washington’s claim that Maduro must be overthrown because he was making war on his own people. The claim that the elections were invalid because of fraud were the product of the Foggy Bottom foghorn, amplified by US government funded entities like the Organization of American States instead of any actual evidence or investigation.

The US government staged several stunts on Venezuela’s border with Columbia in attempt to provoke the Maduro government into over-reaction. Washington claimed that much-needed aid was sitting on the border but Maduro had closed it off – a lie easily debunked by the fact that the border crossing had never been open. Washington’s tears over the suffering Venezuelans were more of the crocodile variety. After all, an estimated 40,000 Venezuelan civilians have died in the chokehold of increasingly crippling US sanctions and none of Washington’s regime changers has raised a whisper about the suffering.

Sadly, many libertarians also fell for the State Department lies about Venezuela. This was all about the “free market” versus “socialism,” they chanted. There was no logic in their mantra. If all of Venezuela’s problems were the result of its “socialism,” how would the installation of a leader picked by the State Department set them on the path to freedom and free markets? Since when has the US government given a damn about free markets and weakening the power of the state? If anything, US foreign policy strongly favors concentration of power in governments overseas. A strong central government is easier to strong-arm in a direction favored by US elites.

Besides, if libertarians really hoped to weaken the power of Maduro over the Venezuelan economy they would have put their energy into opposing US sanctions rather than backing the hapless State Department stooge Guaido. Like all sanctions, US sanctions on Venezuela delivered far more power over the economy to the central government: rationing, price controls, more bureaucracy, etc. are all the result of US sanctions.

So back to Guaido. After several comically failed attempts to wrest power away from Nicolas Maduro, it became obvious that the State Department “experts” were once again believing their own propaganda and using it to drive policy: no one showed up in the street to back Guaido because he had no following inside Venezuela.

Because Washington loves nothing more than doubling down on bad policies – and because they will spend other people’s money with reckless abandon – the US government, realizing that their man in Caracas would never be king, settled for quietly paying the salaries of the corrupt circles around Guaido.

Earlier this month the year-long neocon fantasy of a Mike Pence-appointed president ensconced in Miraflores Palace finally came to an end. The opposition-dominated National Assembly had split amidst in-fighting and that last scrap of hope that Guaido clung to as leader of the Assembly was ripped from his fingers when the legislative body voted to oust him from his post. Though opposed to Maduro, the National Assembly was even more opposed to Guaido, voting convincingly end the Guaido era and elect fellow oppositionist Luis Parra.

The US foreign policy establishment, being the hammer that only sees nails, reacted to the end of the Guaido era the only what it knows how: in addition to sanctions across the board on the government of Nicolas Maduro, Washington announced that it would also slap sanctions on the opposition to the Maduro government!

This is US foreign policy in a nutshell…or should we say “nuthouse”?

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Trump’s Assassination Disaster

Trump’s Assassination Disaster

Is Trump yet ruing the day he lent his ear to the siren songs of the Iran-obsessed neocons? One can almost imagine the president, sitting in the makeshift situation room at Mar-a-Lago just a few days ago surrounded by the likes of Sen. Lindsey Graham, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Esper, and his Pentagon advisors who breathlessly present him an “opportunity” to kick the Iranian leadership in the face and also dismantle an operation in the works to attack US military and civilian personnel in the region.

All he had to do was sign off on the assassination of Gen. Qassim Soleimani, a man he likely had never heard of a couple of years ago but who, he was told, was “responsible for killing hundreds of Americans” in Iraq.

“Soleimani did 9/11!” – Pence helpfully yet insanely chimed in.

“You’re not a wimp like Obama, who refused to assassinate this terrorist,” he was probably told. “You’re decisive, a real leader. This one blow will change the entire calculus of the Middle East,” they likely told him. “If you take out Soleimani, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”

(Actually, that last one was from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress in 2002 where he promised the US that “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.” Brilliant forecasting, Bibi.)

As could be expected, the cover story cooked up by the neocons and signed off on by Trump started taking water the moment it was put to sea.

Soleimani was not traveling like a man plotting a complicated, multi-country assault on US troops in the region. No false mustaches or James Bond maneuvers – he was flying commercial and openly disembarked at the terminal of Baghdad International Airport. He was publicly met and greeted by an Iraqi delegation and traveled relatively unguarded from the airport.

Until a US drone vaporized him and his entire entourage – which included a senior Iraqi military officer.

The furious Iraqi acting-Prime Minister Mahdi immediately condemned the attack in the strongest terms, openly calling for the expulsion of the US forces – who remain in Iraq ostensibly to fight an ISIS that has long been defeated but, de facto, to keep the beachhead clear for a US attack on Iran.

Arguing for the expulsion of the US in a special parliamentary session held on January 5th, Mahdi spilled the truth about Soleimani’s mission in Iraq. It was not to plot the killing of US troops: it was to deliver a response from Iran to a peace overture from the Saudis, the result of talks that were being facilitated by Iraq.

And the US side knew about the mission and had, according to press reports, encouraged Iraq to facilitate the Iran/Saudi talks.

Did the US neocons and Pentagon warhawks like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mike Milley knowingly exploit what they anticipated would be relatively lax security for a peace mission between Iran and Saudi Arabia to assassinate Gen. Soleimani (with collateral damage being Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units)?

And, to drill a little deeper, which US “allies” would want to blow up any chance of peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Factions within Saudi Arabia, where a fierce power struggle rages below the surface? No doubt. In Israel, where Netanyahu continues fighting for his political life (and freedom) with his entire political career built around mayhem and destruction? Sure. It’s not like Trump has ever been able to say “no” to the endless demands of either Bibi or his Saudi counterpart in crime MBS.

Who knows, maybe Trump knew all along and was in on it. Make war on a peace mission.

Whatever the case, as always happens the neocons have steered things completely off the rails. The cover story is in tatters, and the Iraqi democracy – for which we’ve been ostensibly fighting for 16 years with a loss of US life in the thousands and of Iraqi life in the millions – voted on Sunday that US forces must leave Iraq.

We destroyed Iraq to “give them democracy,” but they had the nerve to exercise that democracy to ask us to leave!

Iran could not believe its luck in the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, when it soon became clear that Iraq would fall into their hands. Likewise, it appears that the longstanding fervent wish of the Iranian leadership – the end of the US occupation of Iraq (and Syria) – will soon be fulfilled thanks to Trump’s listening to the always toxic advice of the neocon warmongers.

Can Trump recover from this near-fatal mistake? It is possible. But with Trump’s Twitter finger threatening Iraq with “big big” sanctions and an even bigger bill to cover the cost of our invasion and destruction of their country, it appears that his ability to learn from his mistakes is limited. A bit less time on Twitter and a lot less time with the people who hate his guts – Pompeo, Pence, Graham, etc. – might help.

Meanwhile…will Iran avenge Soleimani’s murder directly, or using asymmetrical means?

Trump said of his decision to assassinate a top official from a country with which we are not technically at war, “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” But it doesn’t work that way. When you kill another country’s top military leadership you have definitely started a war.

What remains to be seen is how it will play out.

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

For Cliff May, War Pays

For Cliff May, War Pays

To say that Clifford May, founder of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, loves war would be an understatement. He loves almost everything about war and he thinks the US should be in a lot more of them. He thinks that the US should never go home, should never withdraw troops, should forever be searching for “bad guys” to fight, lest they come find us and fight us here. Because the rest of the world is exclusively focused on how to invade and destroy the United States.

He likes to invoke Sun Tzu and Clausewitz and Plato to make his case for endless wars. Neocons love to do that because it makes them sound erudite and grounded in history – when in fact they are neither.

About the only thing Clifford May does not love about war is fighting it himself.

While others of May’s generation were being blown to bits in that lost cause called “Vietnam,” May was drinking brewskis at Sarah Lawrence College and then Columbia University. His experience of war consists of covering it as a pampered correspondent of the shining lights of the mainstream US media like Newsweek and the New York Times.

Not only does May disdain the idea of soiling his dainty hands with the real blood and guts of war, he actually disdains those unlucky young Americans who find themselves churned up in the endless killing machine called “US empire.”

In a recent Washington Times editorial, tellingly titled, “Why endless wars can’t be ended,” May argues that members of the US military should be constantly in battle. Not a moment’s rest from the killing and being killed. After all…

…the men and women volunteering to serve in America’s armed forces are not doing so in order to hang around the house drinking brewskies.

May’s is a rare look into the utter contempt the neoconservatives feel for members of the United States military. Veteran suicides are an epidemic in the United States and are in fact the second leading cause of death in the US military. Veterans make up 18 percent of all US suicides while representing only 8.5 percent of the population.

Why are veterans killing themselves at a rate of 20 per day? A recent study found that the risk of military suicide rises with rapidly repeating deployments – just the kind of constant warfare that Cliff May calls for in his Washington Times article this week.

After all, what the hell else would these kids be doing if they weren’t driving themselves to suicide from endless wars…hanging around the house drinking brewskis”? Right, Cliff?

In the Washington Times piece this week, May argues passionately against President Trump’s stated goal of removing US troops from their positions occupying parts of Syria. US troops in Syria are, in his telling, “both preventing a revival of the Islamic State, and helping contain the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

This above sentence is key to understanding May’s constant push for more US involvement in the Middle East. Hint: It’s not really about America.

May’s Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is lavishly funded by single-issue billionaires who believe they are helping Israel by sending US troops to the Middle East to constantly provoke and kill those they believe are Israel’s enemies. Thus far it has not brought peace any closer to either Israel or its rivals in the region. In fact the opposite. But the money keeps flowing so May keeps blowing. And American troops (along with millions of innocents in the target countries) keep on dying.

Just as the neocons like it.

Republished from ronpaulinstitute.org.

Iraq Redux: Trump’s Venezuela ‘Regime Change’ Another Pack of Lies

Iraq Redux: Trump’s Venezuela ‘Regime Change’ Another Pack of Lies

It has been just over a week since I last wrote to you, at the time just before Trump’s Venezuela regime change operation hit the mainstream media. I warned that his recognition of an unelected politician as president and his dedication to install that politician with violence if necessary would constitute the worst mistake of his presidency.

Since that time, Trump, through his neocon proxies, has doubled down on his Venezuela regime change plan to the point where the US is seizing Venezuela’s assets and channeling millions to the unelected opposition in the hopes that with a US cash infusion Washington’s regime change plans can become facts on the ground in the country. Of course for that to happen, it will require massive amounts of bloodshed, as regime neocons are already touting what they claim are opposition supporters on the street as evidence their regime change operation is legitimate and supported by “the people.”

But even if their photos are not manipulated and altered by those forces and institutions working on regime change (like the CIA, which has been dedicated to the overthrow of the Venezuelan government for at least the past 17 years), do thousands of people in the streets constitute a legitimate mandate in the “international rules-based order” so often cited by the interventionists? What of the thousands of us who demonstrated that freezing day in late 2002 against the Bush Administration’s march to war in Iraq? So we don’t count according to them?

What about the 2017 “Women’s March” against Trump? It was said to be the largest demonstration in US history. Surely the largest demonstration in US history means that Trump’s electoral mandate is invalid, no? Because even if Bolton’s Tweeted photos from the opposition demonstrations today in Venezuela are not CIA cook-ups, that is exactly what the neocons are claiming: people in the street = overturn elections. I guess we are exempt?

As a long-time regime-change watcher, I’ve never seen such a blatant and open US overthrow of a foreign government. Bolton and his neocons obviously feel so confident that they can pull the wool over Trump’s eyes that they don’t even try to justify their efforts on national security or even “humanitarian” intervention grounds. And they are moving at a frenzied pace, no doubt emboldened by not a whimper of protest from the “opposition” party in Washington, which is in fact just the left wing of the war party.

The leaders of this regime change have oceans of blood on their hands from all the horrific “liberations” they have pushed in the past, but shockingly no one seems to be asking questions. As neocon Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

For those who cannot remember recent history, this is a re-statement of the disastrous Bush policy as crafted by the neocons, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

What will be conveniently lost in the rapid pace of the neocon and media spin machine on Venezuela will be the original legal grounds upon which the US has based its case that opposition politician Juan Guaido is in fact the president of Venezuela. RPI Academic Board Member and long-time regime-change observer John Laughland has written a very important article reminding us that the legal basis of the US (and EU) recognition of Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela is not only a stretch of the Venezuelan constitution: it is a bald-faced lie!

As Professor Laughland writes:

The resolution voted by the European Parliament is actually worse than President Trump’s ‘recognition‘ of Guaido on January 23. Four political groups in the European Parliament, acting independently of one another before later agreeing on a common resolution, sat down to formulate their texts, in legal language, which state that Juan Guaido is the legitimate president ‘according to Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution.’

No one who has ever read Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution could possibly conclude that it says anything of the kind.

On the contrary, Article 233 is precisely what Juan Guaido violated when he performed his little stunt of proclaiming himself president in a public square in Caracas on January 23.

Most countries’ constitutions have articles like Article 233 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It deals with what happens if the president of the Republic does not, or cannot, fulfill his duties.

It lists six circumstances in which his term can be cut short: if he dies; if he resigns; if he is removed from office by a ruling of the country’s supreme court; if he is proclaimed physically or mentally unfit after a formal medical procedure validated by the National Assembly and by the supreme court; if he abandons his office; or if he is impeached by a popular referendum.

Not a single one of these conditions has been fulfilled: President Maduro has not resigned; he is not dead or unfit; he has not been impeached by the courts or by the people. Worse, Article 233 goes on to say who takes power if the presidency falls vacant – which it has not – and, guess what? It specifies that it is the vice-president who takes over, in this case Mrs Delcy Rodriguez, not the president of the National Assembly (Guaido).

The only circumstance in which the president of the National Assembly takes over is if the president has not been inaugurated. As Maduro has been president since 2013, it is impossible to pretend that this is the case. He took the oath of office for his second term on January 10, in front of the president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.

Remember this well, because it is being dumped down the memory hole. The legal basis upon which the US and EU make their regime-change claim is as bogus as Saddam Hussein’s “mobile chemical weapons labs.” That’s why they don’t want you to even think about it. Now, it’s all about the “crowds.”

The illegality of US claims as justification for recognizing as president an individual who has not earned a single vote to be president is being furiously buried under the new pack of propaganda lies that “the people” are with the opposition in favor of regime change.

See the bait and switch? It’s a little depressing to have to point out yet again that the neocons are lying us into war and the media is going along unquestioningly. You’d think Americans might have learned after Iraq and Libya and Syria and so on and so on.

They are lying again. And doing it more openly than ever.

What to do? As 2018 RPI Conference speaker Caitlin Johnstone advises, do not allow yourself to become a Pro Bono CIA Propagandist. As Caitlin says, it may actually be more moral to be the ones sent in with the guns to make “regime change” happen than to be the propagandist who acts as a conveyor belt for regime change propaganda. As she says, “In the end, the one with the gun is just delivering the bullet that was put in the mail by the propagandist.”

Bolton, Pompeo, and Elliot Abrams are playing for keeps in Venezuela, and they have much of the Democratic party “opposition” on their side. They can dial up the violence at will and have demonstrated that they have no concern about international law or the campaign promises of their president (see above). They are also not averse to using outright lies to push their agenda. Truly Trump has lost control of his presidency and into the intellectual void left by Trump’s lack of a principled view of the world and the United States’ place in it piles in the neoconservatives who have a very good idea what they want to do with the world. They want to burn it down.

Mark my words: If Bolton and the neocons succeed in “liberating” Venezuela, five years down the road they will be in the same boat as the Ukrainians are five years after their “liberation.” Their lives are more miserable and they cannot even get hot water.

Forget the “people in the street” propaganda. This is a blatant US coup against a sovereign nation. Particularly hypocritical is that while the US has been crippled for two years over unproven allegations of foreign meddling in our elections, all parties in Washington agree in an overt overthrow of the electoral process overseas.

With this regime change, we can likely stick a fork in Trump. He is totally owned by the neocons. It was fun to think of a non-interventionist in the White House while it lasted.

Republished from ronpaulinstitute.org.

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

The mainstream press coverage of President Trump’s announcement that he would be removing US troops from Syria has been unanimously apocalyptic. Journos who until a few days ago couldn’t care less about the Kurds (certainly not when US president after US president has used them as a cat’s paw and then abandoned them to their fate), were all of a sudden up in arms warning about an impending slaughter with the blood dripping squarely onto Trump’s hands.

In fact, US weapons, training, and backing had carved out a de facto super-sized Kurd-controlled section of northern Syria which it does not take a geopolitical expert to understand would incense NATO ally Turkey. Why prop up the Kurds and in the process infuriate Erdogan? The US-led regime-change program simply did not have many other boots on the ground to turn to. After years of arming jihadists whose masks slipped quickly thereafter to reveal al-Qaeda or ISIS markings, the game was up for the “Assad must go” crowd and the only move left was to pretend that a proxy Kurd militia was something called the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” When in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was simply the Kurds, rented by Washington.

And the bloodbath the media and neocons warned would come about should Trump dare reconsider another US forever war? More lies and bluster. The Kurds are re-considering their foolish refusal to partner more closely with the Syrian government against foreign-sponsored insurgencies. Just last week, they began negotiations with Damascus to reconcile and forestall a massive Turk incursion.

But the Kurds acting in their own best interest is a big problem for the neocons. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has given himself credit for slowing Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, has gone on record claiming it would be a “major disaster” if the Kurds in Syria aligned themselves with the Syrian (aka their own) government. To Graham and his neocon cohort, the US can never leave any war. Undeclared wars are just fine with them, but declared peace is a “major disaster.”

Which brings us back to public opinion. With the neocons clogging up the airwaves with predictions of gloom and doom if the US ends its illegal occupation of Syria and with the mainstream media in its continuing Pravda-esque lock-step when it comes to the US global military empire, something quite remarkable has happened: the American people are happy that Trump plans to bring the troops home. According to a recent poll, more than half of Americans surveyed support the removal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Overseas, support for President Trump’s moves is also significant. The Baroness Caroline Cox of the UK House of Lords, has sent President Trump a letter, with former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, and on behalf of a network of “concerned parliamentarians, senior clerics, former ambassadors and academics,” congratulating the president on his announced pull-out.

The Baroness writes:

Your courage in doing the right thing, in the face of conflicting advice and an onslaught from ill-informed politicians, a blinkered media and brittle allies, commands respect. We salute you.

The letter continues with a call for the end of US sanctions on Syria, which, she writes “only hobble its economy, hamper refugee return, cause mass unemployment, hinder recovery and create conditions for a re-emergence of ISIS.”

She warns Trump that there’s nothing his critics (like Lindsey Graham) would like more than a resurgence of ISIS in the areas left by US troops so as to make Trump look wrong in withdrawing. An end of sanctions would help strengthen the Syrian government and better enable it to fight against ISIS.

Let’s hope President Trump heeds the wise counsel of very engaged experts like Baroness Cox. Perhaps next time Sen. Graham demands a meeting to harangue Trump on a troop pull-out he can beg off. Let Graham and Bolton stew in their own juices in some West Wing broom closet. Better yet…maybe Trump should consider some additional personnel changes…

Reprinted from antiwar.com

My Daughter Molested by TSA; Me Nearly Arrested for Objecting

My Daughter Molested by TSA; Me Nearly Arrested for Objecting

As I begin writing this, my innocent 13 year old little girl is in tears sitting in the terminal at Reagan International Airport. Somewhere back at the TSA checkpoint there is a middle aged woman who has just, in clear view of law enforcement, committed a sexual crime against her, a minor child. I have it all on film.

I nearly went to jail. The TSA agent continues her crime spree.

Returning from the Ron Paul Institute’s Washington conference, where my family all pitched in to make the event possible, we found ourselves at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint.

To this point in our occasional travels, my wife had been able to accompany our two young daughters through the metal detector, while my teenaged son and I had been forced to undergo a “pat-down” because we refused to submit to the scanner. All of a sudden this time was different. An aggressive TSA officer barked that my 13 year old girl could not accompany her mother and younger sister through the metal detector, but rather would have to submit to a “pat-down.”

Meanwhile my 10 year old daughter had already been sent through the detector and was far out of our sight on the other side of the machine. That made me anxious, as it would any parent.

They would not allow my wife through to accompany the 10 year old, insisting she had “opted out” and must wait for “female assist.” She had done no such thing. We had no idea where our 10 year old was, no idea where our possessions were, and no one would let my wife through to re-join her. It was obvious retaliation for our refusal to go through their machine.

I strongly objected to the separation of my family. I was told to not raise my voice.

Read the rest at lewrockwell.com.

State Department Will Boost Hungary’s Anti-Orban Media

State Department Will Boost Hungary’s Anti-Orban Media

Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy. Here’s a prime example of the “do as we say, not as we do” that is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week that the the US Justice Department demanded that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary’s internal media.

So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what it says is manipulation of US domestic affairs while the US State Department announces a new program to manipulate Hungary’s domestic affairs.

The State Department’s new program would send three-quarters of a million dollars to Washington-selected Hungarian media outlets to “increase citizens’ access to objective information about domestic and global issues in Hungary.” On what authority does the United States pick winners and losers in Hungary’s diverse media environment? Since when does one government have the right to determine what news is “objective” in another country? Hungary is not a country to be “regime-changed” — it is a full democracy where the will of the people is regularly expressed at the ballot box and where the media competes freely in the marketplace of ideas.

Washington’s Hungarian media project is clearly meant to interfere in that country’s domestic political environment. Here are the stated objectives of the US government’s Hungary program:

The program should improve the quality of local traditional and online media and increase the public’s access to reliable and unbiased information.

Projects should aim to have impact that leads to democratic reforms, and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. (emphasis added)

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor identifies its mission in this call for grantees as “promoting democracy and protecting human rights globally.” So what is it doing in Hungary? Hungary has had nearly three decades of democracy since 1989 and hardly needs the United States to tell it what kind of media is allowed (subsidized) and which kind should be suppressed.

In reality this is a US government program to ensure that the Hungarian media follows Washington’s policy line. Hungarians are all too familiar with this kind of toxic interference from an outside superpower: it was called the Soviet Union. Does Washington really seek to take on that role?

Stab in the back

This US government intervention in Hungary’s internal affairs must feel like a stab in the back to Orban and his government. Orban was an early — and rare — supporter of candidate Donald Trump among his European colleagues. Indeed, where Brusssels saw Trump as a gauche loudmouth, Orban openly admired the soon-to-be-president’s position on immigration and particularly on the mass immigration of mostly Muslim “refugees” that has proven to be disastrous for so many European countries. Likewise, Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party has managed to retain a high level of popularity through two election cycles by embracing and promoting the kind of nationalism that characterized Trump’s successful campaign.

Orban’s early support for Trump appeared to have paid off. Where Fidesz had struggled to make any headway at all under GW Bush or Obama’s State Departments, both of which were openly hostile, one of President-elect Trump’s first moves was to invite Orban to the White House. Orban, for his part, hailed Trump on inauguration day, welcoming in an era where national interest takes precedent over multilateralism.

As recently as last month, President Trump praised Viktor Orban, saying that the “strong and brave” Hungarian Prime Minister is “on my guest list.”

Then Trump’s State Department launched a program to undermine Hungary’s national sovereignty by interfering in the Hungarian media market. It seems national sovereignty is a one-way street for Washington no matter who occupies the Oval Office.

Hypocrisy…or policy consistency?

But perhaps it’s inaccurate to accuse the US government of hypocrisy in this case. After all, pressuring RT America with the intent of silencing the news network and spending our tax dollars propping up US-friendly media outlets in the Hungarian countryside are actually two sides of the same coin: the US government will tell you what kind of media you are allowed to consume. If you are a media network in the United States that allows voices who oppose Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy they will shut you down. If you are a news outlet in the Hungarian countryside that spews the US party line, they will prop you up. Both cases are the same: your media will toe the US government official line or else.

Note to Washington: This is not 1950. Hungary has been a fully free and democratic country with plenty of free elections under its belt. It does not need you to come in and attempt to manipulate its newspapers and broadcast media. What would you do if China sent in a few million dollars to prop up US publications who agreed to push the Beijing line? What about if Tehran sent some money to publications pushing the Ayatollah party line? You cannot even tolerate RT America — which is largely staffed by Americans but dares to feature prominent Americans who challenge the neocon foreign policy line. Hands off Hungary!

Note to Viktor Orban: You risked arrest — and worse — in June, 1989 when you directly confronted the communists who were occupying your country. Now that Hungary’s freedom has been won — in no small way due to your efforts — do not allow Washington’s neocons to take it away from you! If you do not confront this violation of Hungarian sovereignty, the neocons will continue to increase the pressure. The neocons want you out! Just this week, neocon commentator Anne Applebaum wrote that you are a “neo-Bolshevik” who has “little to do with the right that has been part of Western politics since World War II, and…no connection to existing conservative parties.” Do a little research and you will notice that Applebaum is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Center for European Policy Analysis — the organization your own government funded for a big conference this summer! Neocon knives are out for you. You’d be smart to make a better assessment of who are your friends and enemies in the United States…before it’s too late.

Reprinted with permission of the Ron Paul Institute.

State Department Will Boost Hungary’s Anti-Orban Media

State Department Will Boost Hungary's Anti-Orban Media

Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy. Here’s a prime example of the “do as we say, not as we do” that is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week that the the US Justice Department demanded that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary’s internal media.
So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what it says is manipulation of US domestic affairs while the US State Department announces a new program to manipulate Hungary’s domestic affairs.
The State Department’s new program would send three-quarters of a million dollars to Washington-selected Hungarian media outlets to “increase citizens’ access to objective information about domestic and global issues in Hungary.” On what authority does the United States pick winners and losers in Hungary’s diverse media environment? Since when does one government have the right to determine what news is “objective” in another country? Hungary is not a country to be “regime-changed” — it is a full democracy where the will of the people is regularly expressed at the ballot box and where the media competes freely in the marketplace of ideas.
Washington’s Hungarian media project is clearly meant to interfere in that country’s domestic political environment. Here are the stated objectives of the US government’s Hungary program:
The program should improve the quality of local traditional and online media and increase the public’s access to reliable and unbiased information.

Projects should aim to have impact that leads to democratic reforms, and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. (emphasis added)
The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor identifies its mission in this call for grantees as “promoting democracy and protecting human rights globally.” So what is it doing in Hungary? Hungary has had nearly three decades of democracy since 1989 and hardly needs the United States to tell it what kind of media is allowed (subsidized) and which kind should be suppressed.
In reality this is a US government program to ensure that the Hungarian media follows Washington’s policy line. Hungarians are all too familiar with this kind of toxic interference from an outside superpower: it was called the Soviet Union. Does Washington really seek to take on that role?
Stab in the back
This US government intervention in Hungary’s internal affairs must feel like a stab in the back to Orban and his government. Orban was an early — and rare — supporter of candidate Donald Trump among his European colleagues. Indeed, where Brusssels saw Trump as a gauche loudmouth, Orban openly admired the soon-to-be-president’s position on immigration and particularly on the mass immigration of mostly Muslim “refugees” that has proven to be disastrous for so many European countries. Likewise, Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party has managed to retain a high level of popularity through two election cycles by embracing and promoting the kind of nationalism that characterized Trump’s successful campaign.
Orban’s early support for Trump appeared to have paid off. Where Fidesz had struggled to make any headway at all under GW Bush or Obama’s State Departments, both of which were openly hostile, one of President-elect Trump’s first moves was to invite Orban to the White House. Orban, for his part, hailed Trump on inauguration day, welcoming in an era where national interest takes precedent over multilateralism.
As recently as last month, President Trump praised Viktor Orban, saying that the “strong and brave” Hungarian Prime Minister is “on my guest list.”
Then Trump’s State Department launched a program to undermine Hungary’s national sovereignty by interfering in the Hungarian media market. It seems national sovereignty is a one-way street for Washington no matter who occupies the Oval Office.
Hypocrisy…or policy consistency?
But perhaps it’s inaccurate to accuse the US government of hypocrisy in this case. After all, pressuring RT America with the intent of silencing the news network and spending our tax dollars propping up US-friendly media outlets in the Hungarian countryside are actually two sides of the same coin: the US government will tell you what kind of media you are allowed to consume. If you are a media network in the United States that allows voices who oppose Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy they will shut you down. If you are a news outlet in the Hungarian countryside that spews the US party line, they will prop you up. Both cases are the same: your media will toe the US government official line or else.
Note to Washington: This is not 1950. Hungary has been a fully free and democratic country with plenty of free elections under its belt. It does not need you to come in and attempt to manipulate its newspapers and broadcast media. What would you do if China sent in a few million dollars to prop up US publications who agreed to push the Beijing line? What about if Tehran sent some money to publications pushing the Ayatollah party line? You cannot even tolerate RT America — which is largely staffed by Americans but dares to feature prominent Americans who challenge the neocon foreign policy line. Hands off Hungary!
Note to Viktor Orban: You risked arrest — and worse — in June, 1989 when you directly confronted the communists who were occupying your country. Now that Hungary’s freedom has been won — in no small way due to your efforts — do not allow Washington’s neocons to take it away from you! If you do not confront this violation of Hungarian sovereignty, the neocons will continue to increase the pressure. The neocons want you out! Just this week, neocon commentator Anne Applebaum wrote that you are a “neo-Bolshevik” who has “little to do with the right that has been part of Western politics since World War II, and…no connection to existing conservative parties.” Do a little research and you will notice that Applebaum is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Center for European Policy Analysis — the organization your own government funded for a big conference this summer! Neocon knives are out for you. You’d be smart to make a better assessment of who are your friends and enemies in the United States…before it’s too late.
Reprinted with permission of the Ron Paul Institute.

State Department’s New Victoria Nuland… Is Just Like the Old Victoria Nuland!

State Department’s New Victoria Nuland… Is Just Like the Old Victoria Nuland!

Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson swore into office a new Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Dr. A. Wess Mitchell became the Trump Administration’s top diplomat for Europe, “responsible for diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, and with NATO, the EU and the OSCE.”

Readers will recall that the position was most recently held during the Obama Administration by Kagan family neocon, Victoria Nuland, who was key catalyst and cookie provider for the US-backed coup overthrowing the elected government in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s virulently anti-Russia position was a trademark of the neocon persuasion and she put ideology into action by “midwifing,” in her own words, an illegal change of government in Ukraine.

It was Nuland’s coup that laid the groundwork for a precipitous decay in US/Russia relations, as Washington’s neocons peddled the false line that “Russia invaded Ukraine” to cover up for the fact that it was the US government that had meddled in Ukrainian affairs. The coup was bloody and divisive, resulting in a de-facto split in the country that continues to the day. Ukraine did not flourish as a result of this neocon scheme, but has in fact been in economic free-fall since the US government installed its preferred politicians into positions of power.

You don’t hear much about Ukraine these days because the neocons hate to talk about their failures. But the corruption of the US-installed government has crippled the country, extreme nationalist elements that make up the core of the post-coup elites have imposed a new education law so vicious toward an age-old Hungarian population stuck inside arbitrarily re-drawn post-WWI borders that the Hungarian government has blocked Ukraine’s further integration into NATO, and a new “Maidan” protest has steadily gathered steam in Kiev despite Western cameras being uninterested this time.

Fortunately Donald Trump campaigned on and was elected to improve relations with Russia and end the Obama Administration’s neocon-fueled launch of a new Cold War. He raised eyebrows when he directly challenged the neocon shibboleth – amplified by the mainstream media – that Russia was invading Ukraine. But candidate Trump really blew neocon minds – and delighted voters – when he said he was looking into ending US sanctions on Russia imposed by Obama and may recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

Which brings us back to Wess Mitchell. Certainly President Trump, seeing the destruction of Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Victoria Nuland’s anti-Russia interventionism, would finally restore a sane diplomat to the position vacated by the unmourned former Assistant Secretary. Would appoint someone in line with the rhetoric that landed him the Oval Office. Right?

Wrong!

If anything, Wess Mitchell may well prove to be Victoria Nuland on steroids. He was co-founder and CEO of the neocon-dominated Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Mitchell’s CEPA is funded largely by the US government, NATO, neocon grant-making mega-foundations, and the military-industrial complex. The “think tank” does the bidding of its funders, finding a Russian threat under every rock that requires a NATO and defense industry response – or we’re doomed!

Mitchell’s CEPA’s recent greatest hits? “The Kremlin’s 20 toxic tactics,” “Russian disinformation and anti-Western narratives in Romania: How to fight back?,” “Winning the Information War,” “Alliances and American greatness,” “Russia’s historical distortions,” “What the Kremlin Fears Most,” and so on. You get the idea. The raison d’etre of the organization founded by the new Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia is to foment a new (and very profitable) Cold War (and more?) with Russia.

Last month, CEPA put on its big conference, the “CEPA Forum 2017.” Speakers included central European heavy hitter politicos like the president of Latvia and also Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, who gave a talk on how “the unity of the NATO Alliance” is “what Russia fears the most.” The grand event was funded, as might be expected, by war contractors Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin. But also, surprisingly, significant funding came from the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban, who is seen as somewhat of a maverick in central Europe for refusing to sign on to the intense Russia-hate seen in the Baltics and in Poland.

The no-doubt extraordinarily expensive conference was funded by no less than three Hungarian government entities: the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC, the Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Hungarian Presidency of the Visegrad Group. Again, given Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s reputation for bucking neocon positions vis-à-vis Russia it is surprised to see the virulently anti-Russia CEPA conference so awash in Hungarian taxpayer money. Perhaps there is something to explore in the fact that the recently-fired Hungarian Ambassador to Washington, Réka Szemerkényi, was recently named executive vice president of CEPA. Hmmm. Makes you wonder.

But back to Mitchell. So he founded a neocon think tank funded by a NATO desperate for new missions and a military-industrial complex desperate for new wars. What about his own views? Surely he can’t be as bad as Nuland. Right? Wrong! Fortunately Assistant Secretary Mitchell is a prolific writer, so it’s easy to track his thinking. In a recent piece for neocon Francis Fukuyama’s American Interest, titled “Predators on the Frontiers,” Mitchell warns that, “From eastern Ukraine and the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, large rivals of the United States are modernizing their military forces, grabbing strategic real estate, and threatening vulnerable US allies.”

Mitchell continues, in a voice right out of the neocon canon, that:

By degrees, the world is entering the path to war. Not since the 1980s have the conditions been riper for a major international military crisis. Not since the 1930s has the world witnessed the emergence of multiple large, predatory states determined to revise the global order to their advantage – if necessary by force.

We are on a path to war not seen since the 1930s! And why are our “enemies” so hell-bent on destroying us? Because we are just so isolationist!

Writes Mitchell: “Over the past few years, Russia, China, and, to a degree, Iran have sensed that the United States is retreating in their respective regions…”

We are “retreating”?

So what can we do? Mitchell again does the bidding of his paymasters in advising that the only thing we can do to save ourselves is…spend more on militarism:

The United States should therefore enhance its nuclear arsenal by maintaining and modernizing it. It needs to sustain a credible nuclear extended deterrent at a time when revisionist states are gradually pushing their spheres of influence and control closer to, if not against, U.S. allies. Moreover, it should use the limited tactical nuclear weapons at its disposal and seed them in a few of the most vulnerable and capable frontline states (Poland and Japan, for instance) under “nuclear sharing” agreements.

There is our new Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia. Our top diplomat for Europe. The only solution is a military solution. President Trump. Elected to end the endless wars, to forge better relations with Russia, to rollback an “outdated” NATO. President Trump has replaced Victoria Nuland with something far more dangerous and frightening. Heckuva job, there, Mr. President!

Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Say Goodbye to ‘Getting Along With Russia’ – Trump’s NSC Pick McMaster is a Major Hawk

Say Goodbye to ‘Getting Along With Russia’ – Trump’s NSC Pick McMaster is a Major Hawk

Earlier today, President Trump selected Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his National Security Advisor, replacing the short-lived Gen. Michael Flynn. Those breathing a sigh of relief that the rumored favorite John Bolton didn’t get the nod may want to hold that thought — and their breath. McMaster is not the man to guide President Trump toward better relations with Russia and less US interference in the internal affairs of others.

In fact, he believes the opposite.

In a speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies just last May, Gen. McMaster blamed the lack of sufficient US military presence overseas for what he calls a more aggressive Russian geostrategic posturing.

Said the General:

“Even though it may have been apparent, at least since 2008, that Russia was changing its geostrategic behavior and engaging in…probing, probing at the far reaches of American power, our strategic response was to accelerate our withdrawal of…army forces from Europe. And what we’re seeing now is we’ve awakened to obviously this threat from Russia who is waging limited war for limited objectives. Annexing Crimea. Invading Ukraine. At zero cost. And consolidating gains over that territory, and portraying the reaction by us and partners as escalatory. … What is required is forward deterance. To be able to ratchet up the cost at the frontier.”

The General also made the completely fallacious assertion that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. Even the highly critical if not overtly anti-Russia European Union concluded that Georgia was to blame for launching an ill-advised attack on Russian peacekeeping forces that were part of an international mission in South Ossetia.

Does this sound like someone who is going to work to help President Trump improve relations with Russia?

No wonder neocons Max Boot and Sen. John McCain are absolutely thrilled with Trump’s choice of McMaster to be National Security Advisor.

Sen. McCain, who just returned from attacking President Trump at the Munich Security Conference for not being harder on Russia, said today that McMaster:

“…knows how to succeed. I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security cabinet choices. I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than the one we have right now.”

Max Boot had a similar reaction:

“H.R. McMaster is one of the most impressive army officers of his generation—a rare combination of soldier and scholar.”

McMaster’s claim to fame was the 1997 Dereliction of Duty, which is billed as a brave attack on the mistake of the Vietnam war, but was in fact largely focused on the failure to devote enough resources to actually winning the war — a typical neocon critique of failed military interventions.

Is McMaster a worse choice than John Bolton? Perhaps. Whereas Bolton would have been under the microscope, McMaster may just be able, due to his military history, be able to avoid close scrutiny.

Whatever the case, McMaster is all about conflict with Russia. Will his boss keep him in check?

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Pre-Emptive Attack Iran Bill Active in US House

Pre-Emptive Attack Iran Bill Active in US House

You will often see potentially important pieces of legislation languish in the US House. A bill will remain active, meaning that it can be brought to the Floor at any time. But it flies just under the radar. Other times the language floats around Washington for years until a “crisis” necessitates its activation and passage. As we know well, what eventually became the PATRIOT Act — one of the single greatest attacks on civil liberties in US history — started out and spent much of its early life as a sugar-plumb fairy dancing in neocon fantasies. Then came 9/11 and it was dusted off and imposed on the American people. And the United States has never been — and may never be — the same. Either way, these measures are important if seldom seen.

So it may well be with H.J.Res. 10, introduced in the House just as the new Congress began at the beginning of this month. The title of the bill tells the tale: a bill “To authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” This legislation, introduced by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), is as it appears: an authorization for the President to use military force against Iran. But it is much worse than that.

Why so? Because it specifically authorizes the president to launch a pre-emptive war on Iran at any time of his choosing and without any further Congressional oversight or input. The operative sentence in the resolution reads, “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added).

President Trump — and, importantly, his entire national security team — has been extraordinarily aggressive toward Iran, repeatedly threatening that country both at the negotiating table and on the battlefield. H.J.Res 10 would be just the blank check the Administration craves to realize such threats.

And thanks to ongoing US and allied sabre-rattling in the Persian Gulf, tensions continue to escalate. At the end of this month, the UK, US and allied military forces will take part in operation “Unified Trident,” a joint exercise in the Persian Gulf that will simulate a military confrontation with Iran.

How would Washington respond if a bill was active in the Iranian parliament authorizing war on the United States and the Iranian navy began conducting joint exercises with the Chinese in the Gulf of Mexico simulating an attack on the United States?

Reprinted from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Trump, Putin Speak on Telephone; Vow to Improve Relations

Trump, Putin Speak on Telephone; Vow to Improve Relations

After a rancorous presidential campaign in which the Hillary Clinton team actually accused President-elect Donald Trump of being a Russian agent, a new tone is being set by the next US president. Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone this afternoon with the incoming Republican and both men agreed to work toward “constructive cooperation” between the US and Russia. According to the Kremlin website, the two agreed to “return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation, which would address the interests of both countries as well as stability and safety the world over.”

It would not be unrealistic to see the removal of some US sanctions on Russia (and Russian counter-sanctions) as one of the early acts of President Trump.

Has the “Cold War II” crowd been silence by this surprise move toward a thaw in US/Russian relations? We can only hope that this surprise move has put a monkey wrench in their plans. For the neocons, who have few actual salable skills, survival and prosperity depends on them finding and promoting the next “Hitler” of the day. They had their Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, etc. But turning the US against Russia and Putin should have kept them on easy street for many years to come.

Yellow warning light, however: Rumors continue to persist that President-elect Trump is fishing in the neocon pond as he looks to fill the all-important Secretary of State position. Leading candidates like former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton have hewed strongly to the neocon line on Russia and US interventionism. Would such a Secretary of State undermine any move toward rapprochement with Russia? It is certainly possible.

Meanwhile, that sound you are hearing is the neocons gnashing their teeth from within their Beltway think tank offices.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute.

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