Saturday, February 23, 2019

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The Antiwar Comic: Weary of War

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
The Antiwar Comic:  Weary of War
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The Antiwar Comic: A Country of Something

This is a common theme in this comic, but it rarely seems to resonate outside Libertarian circles.  You know the story…

The Antiwar Comic:  A Country of Something

For more comics visit The Webcomic Factory.

Major Papers Target AG Sessions Over Russia

On Wednesday night, the big three papers, the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall St. Journal, all ran articles attacking the Trump administration over their supposed “ties” to Russia.

Yet, in the tradition of anti-Russia hype in the American media, on close inspection, the stories end up amounting to nothing but further evidence of America’s “permanent government,” its Cold War agenda, and their attempt to overturn, or at least “hem in,” the policy decisions made by the new elected administration on the issue of U.S. relations with Russia.

The Times story says that the Obama government went to great lengths to leave so-called, yet invisible, “evidence,” of the Russian government’s supposed interference in the election – their role in the hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails remains completely unproven – at different places all around the different departments so that Trump’s people would be unable to destroy it. It’s great Trumpian “arguing past the sale,” and complete with admitted unsubstantiated rumor-mongering about the Trump team’s connivance with the Russians in doing so, to boot:

“[The effort] also reflected the suspicion among many in the Obama White House that the Trump campaign might have colluded with Russia on election email hacks — a suspicion that American officials say has not been confirmed.”

The Post‘s story centers on former Senator, now Attorney General, Jeff Sessions’s supposed perjury before Senator Al Franken at his confirmation hearings when he claimed not to have spoken to any Russians as part of the Trump campaign. But the story throws cold water all over itself in paragraph number twelve, when “Justice Officials” admit,

“Sessions met with Kislyak on Sept. 8 in his capacity as a member of the armed services panel rather than in his role as a Trump campaign surrogate.”

Oh. Well then. Sessions’s spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, elaborated:

“He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee.”

The Post continued:

“She added that Sessions last year had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian and German ambassadors, in addition to Kislyak.”

The Wall St. Journal‘s contribution to the hit was their report that the FBI and other agencies were monitoring Sessions at the time.

“The outcome of the inquiry, and whether it is ongoing, wasn’t clear.”

House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are demanding Sessions resign or be removed from office.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

No Need to Wait for President Trump to Take Protectionist Actions Against China

President Obama is more than happy to oblige.

Thus, The New York Times reported last week that President Obama is blocking the sale of German semiconductor company, Aixtron, to a Chinese company, the Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund. In particular, the Obama Administration is blocking the sale of Aixtron’s American shares.

The official reason for the move was national security, but it’s not immediately obvious why the sale was a national security risk in the first place. Indeed, the Treasury Department’s specific statement on the alleged national security risk involved reads similar to a book report written by a teenager who neglected to read the book. The Treasury Department said the national security risk related to “the military applications of the overall technical body of knowledge and experience of Aixtron.”

So basically, military technology often uses semiconductors and Aixtron employs smart people?

Again, it’s possible there’s something more substantial to this claim that I’m missing. But the company does not appear to be a defense contractor and it does not even cite governments among its customer base on its corporate website. This is notable because typically, we would expect companies to brag to investors about having price-insensitive governments as customers. Aixtron does not. From this, it seems that the national security risk from having this German company get purchased by a Chinese is quite indirect.

And yet Obama intervened anyway.

Of course, this isn’t protectionism in the normal sense of the word, since the justification wasn’t explicitly economic in nature. Still, it’s another illustration of the vast unilateral power the US President has assumed when it comes to intervening in the economy.

It also offers another reason for international companies to steer clear of US jurisdiction for fear of arbitrary decisions by the government.

Finally, this episode suggests there will be far more continuity between the Obama and Trump Administrations than most people understand. Worried about having a US President that makes protectionist decisions and degrades US relations with China? If so, your fears shouldn’t wait for Inauguration Day.

Trump’s Poll Numbers Rise for Every Bomb He Drops

 

Highlighting the phenomenon of the “rally effect” — the surge in popular support presidents can receive in times of geopolitical crisis — one media outlet just drew attention to the fact that Donald Trump is seeing a bump in his approval ratings since his recent flexing of military muscle.

Writing for Quartz on Monday, Annalisa Merelli points out that as of April 18, after killing scores of civilians via airstrikes in Syria and dropping the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan, Trump’s approval rating in polls has gone up around five points compared to the end of March.

Merelli provides Gallup poll numbers that show, as she puts it, how the “rally ‘round the flag” effect of war hysteria can sometimes have on the masses. Presidents Truman, Kennedy and George Bush, Sr., for instance, all saw approval bumps at times of international crisis.

In fact, shortly after Bush’s son entered the White House, he saw a whopping 35 percent boost in popularity when he began military campaigns in the Middle East following 9/11.

Exploring the situation further, Merelli also notes the role the media plays in such matters:

“The Syria bombing in particular, news of which Trump shared with his Chinese counterpart over a ‘beautiful chocolate cake,’ gained Trump a new wave of respect from political commentators, especially many otherwise critical of his administration. They rushed to declare his action ‘presidential’ and praise his noble intentions in the Syria attack.”

Merelli closes by pointing out that while Trump’s boost in support may be small at the moment, the man’s “exploration of America’s military power seems to have only just started.”

That does, indeed, seem to be the case.

 

This post originally appeared at Anti-Media.

A Fool in the Crossfire over Russia and Israel

Only a fool would step into the crossfire between the warring tribes known as Democrats and Republicans on the two burning issues of the day:  Russia’s hacking and the U.N. resolution on Israel.

Well, that’s my cue to enter the crossfire with facts and opinions neither tribe will like.

Let’s begin with Russia’s hacking.

Democrat tribespeople, led by their petulant chieftain Barack Obama and his propaganda ministry of CNN, want to delegitimize Trump with the canard that he would not have been elected if had not been for the hacking of the Democrat National Committee.  Republican tribespeople, led by neocon jingoists and their propaganda ministry of talk radio, are spreading the canard that the two-bit nation of Russia is a threat to America.

Both tribes overlook their gross hypocrisy and double standards in their longtime spying, hacking, and otherwise interfering with the domestic politics of other nations.  For example, since 1950, both tribes:

  • helped to overthrow the Iranian government of Premier Mohammed Mosaddeq in 1953 and replaced him with the hated Shah of Iran;
  • condoned the assassination of South Vietnam Premier Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963;
  • dropped over seven million tons of bombs on North Vietnam and Laos in what was essentially an ideological civil war and certainly not a threat to us;
  • took sides in the Russian election that resulted in the drunkard Boris Yeltsin assuming the presidency;
  • gave arms to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Russians and then later sent American troops to Afghanistan to fight the same jihadists;
  • spawned ISIS, seeded the Syrian civil war, and emboldened Iran by overthrowing the Sunni regime in Iraq;
  • joined the French in hunting down Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, thus unleashing sectarian and tribal hatreds and turning Libya into another killing field; and
  • eavesdropped on Angela Merkel’s phone calls.

The foregoing is just the tip of a large pile of smelly messes left behind by both tribes.

By the way, the United States has 17 spy agencies and spends an estimated $75 billion on spying.  These agencies have facilities throughout the country, which is a surefire way of spreading federal pork and garnering congressional support.  For example, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has had its western headquarters in my boyhood hometown of St. Louis for 70 years.  Tourists visiting the Anheuser-Busch brewery near the river just south of downtown don’t know that the agency is nearby and employs over 3,000 snoops and spooks.  The agency is building a new $1.7 billion headquarters complex north of downtown near the former site of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing towers, which were torn down decades ago after—surprise, surprise!—they became havens for crime.  Many of the residents moved to the nearby suburb of Ferguson, where, as you know, black lives matter.

Anyway, let’s return to the subject of Russia’s hacking and entertain a heretical thought:  Russia should be thanked for exposing what goes on behind the curtain of one or both of our political parties—the pretenses, lies, distortions, and illegalities.  Shining a light on the creeps, leeches, ticks, and freaks (e.g., Anthony Weiner and his wife Uma) is good for the body politic and should be encouraged, no matter who is shining the light.

Another heretical thought is geopolitical in nature—namely, that it’s in our best interest to cozy up to Russia, whisper sweet nothings in Putin’s ear, and seduce him to be a counterbalance to China, which shares a border with Russia and covets Russia’s natural resources.  If the price of this is to let Russia have influence over parts of the world that have historically been in Russia’s orbit, it’s a cheap price.  After all, our economic, cultural and military hegemony around the world is large enough without having to worry about tossing a few fragments to the Russian bear.

Now for the subject of Israel, which is another place where only a fool would dare to tread.

It’s difficult to find a subject more distorted with the cherry-picking of history.  For example, pro-Israel partisans cherry-pick examples of Palestinian intransigence and terror to make the point that Israel is a besieged victim.  They conveniently overlook the history of Israeli intransigence and terror.  Pro-Palestinian partisans engage in similar cherry-picking.

Partisanship has become so one-sided in America that the federal government now equates criticism of Israel and Zionism to anti-Semitism.  Consequently, if I criticize Zionism, I hate my many Jewish friends.  Sorry, friends, but I’m going to criticize Zionism—or more specifically, I’m going to criticize the argument put forth by the likes of John Bolton to justify why a Jewish state was established in Palestine.

The argument is that Palestine is a Jewish homeland because Jews have lived there for millennia.

Using that logic, Christians also are entitled to establish a Christian state in Palestine, because they’ve been there for 2,000 years.

Similarly, using the same logic, Native Americans are entitled to establish states completely independent of the United States in their former homelands of Manhattan, Florida, the Great Plains, and many other parts of the continental United States.  This would mean that the Salt River Pima Indians could take my house, because it sits on their former land.  Being a swell guy, I would gladly let them have it and wouldn’t resort to violence to stop them.

Of course the preponderance of Zionist immigrants to Israel had emigrated from Russia and Poland, where their forebears had lived for generations.  That’s why bagels and lox are not native to Palestine.  These Zionists had about as much of a cultural tie to Palestine as this Catholic has to the Vatican.

Which brings me to another argument made by the John Boltons of the world in their support of Israel—namely, that Jews were entitled to their own state in Palestine, because they were victims of pogroms in Russia and Western Europe, due to being religious minorities.  Yes, there were certainly victims of pogroms in those parts of the world, but that was not the doing of Palestinians.

Using Bolton’s logic, the United States should support the establishment of scores of religious states throughout the world for religious minorities.  For example, an Armenian state should be carved out of Turkey, a Coptic Christian state out of Syria, a Catholic state out of Northern Ireland, a Shiite state out of Saudi Arabia, a Muslim state out of Lebanon, and so on.  While we’re at it, we should erase all of the arbitrary boundaries established by the Brits and Frogs after World War One and redraw the boundaries so that all Shiites and Sunnis have their own states.  That would mean that we’d have to put Bolton’s principle before access to oil, but, hey, it would be the right thing to do.

Don’t get me wrong:  If I were forced to choose between living with Israelis or with Palestinians, I’d choose the former in a nanosecond.  It’s a tribal thing.  I have more in common with Israelis than with Palestinians.  It’s also a matter of which tribe is the winner militarily and economically—that is, which one conquered the other.  As has been the case throughout human history, might makes right.  That’s why I’m right not to give my house to the Salt River Pima Indians

Instead of making silly arguments, Democrat and Republican tribespeople should just acknowledge the tribal nature of humans and nation states.

News Roundup 1/20/17

  • Trump’s pick for Secretary of Energy Rick Perry says he has changed his mind about eliminating the Department of Energy. As a presidential candidate in 2012, Perry’s platform called for getting rid of the department. [Link]
  • Trump picks Woody Johnson to the be ambassador to the UK. Johnson owns the New York Jets. [Link]
  • Trump picks Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of Agriculture. This pick fills the final opening spot in Trump’s Cabinet. [Link]
  • California’s budget had “math errors” that covered up a $1.5 billion dollar budget deficit. The deficit was discovered by Governor Jerry Brown’s office months ago, but the mistake was only recently shared with the public and California Senate. [Link]
  • Uber settles a lawsuit with the FTC about a complaint that Uber mislead drivers about how much money they can make. Uber agreed to pay $20 million. [Link]
  • Obama granted clemency to 330 federal prisoners on his final day in office. Most of those receiving clemency were low-level drug offenders or nonviolent criminals. Obama granted clemency or pardons to nearly 2000 people. [Link]
  • In 2012, a Massachusetts state lab worker admitted to falsifying drug test results. This discredited all of the cases that she gave evidence for. 1,500 of those 25,500 cases have been addressed. The Massachusetts top court rules all of the remaining 24,000 cases can get a new trial. [Link]
  • Mexican drug kingpin, El Chapo, has been extradited to the United States. [Link]
  • On Tuesday, the Obama Administration appealed a court ruling that would have made public some information about the US drone program. Appealing the decision will help the Trump Administration operate a drone program in secret. [Link]
  • US stealth bombers spend 30 hours in the air and drop 100 bombs on an ISIS camp in Libya. The US government reports that 80 Islamic State members were killed in the attack. The US ended its operations in Libya over a month ago. [Link]
  • ISIS is destroying ancient monuments in Palmyra. ISIS retook the city from the Syrian government in December. [Link]
  • ISIS forces are attacking a key Syrian government military airport in the Homs Providence. 12 Syrian government fighter and 18 ISIS militants were killed in the fighting. [Link]
  • 40% of the 1,000,000 Syrian children refugees living in Turkey are not currently enrolled in schooling. [Link]

News Roundup 4/4/18

  •  Trump on Syria, “I want to get out, I want to bring our troops back home.” [Link]
  • Trump suggests sending troops to the southern border to stop immigrants. [Link]
  • Trump on Russia “If we got along with Russia, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.” [Link]
  • Sheldon Richman explains why the outrage about Cambridge Analytica is overblown. [Link]
  • James Bovard explains how the Pulse Nightclub shooting was an FBI failure. [Link]
  • A Wisconsin police department will return a mine-resistant military vehicle. [Link]
  • British scientists are still unable to determine the source of a nerve agent used against a former Russian spy. [Link] Moon of Alabama explains that the evidence being uncovered about the nerve agent attack does not suggest Russia was behind the attack. [Link]
  • Macedonia apologizes for involvement in the US torture program. [Link]
  • Adam Johnson explains how NPR’s biased coverage of the protests in Gaza attempt to hide the crimes of Israel. [Link]
  • The Houthi hit a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea with a missile. The missile caused the ship minor damage. [Link]

Jan 3: Renegade University: Afghanistan: America's Longest War

I’ll be teaching a webinar at Renegade University on the history of the war in Afghanistan. It’s called “Afghanistan: America’s Longest War.” I’ll give a presentation, based on all the research I did for my book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and then you’ll be able to ask me questions during the discussion section of the webinar.
The webinar will be live on Wednesday, January 3, at 8:30 PM Eastern Time, 7:30 PM Central Time, and 5:30 PM Pacific Time.
To sign up for my webinar on the Afghanistan war, go to thaddeusrussell.com. I hope to see you there.

News Roundup 2/4/17

  • Trump signs an executive order and a presidential memorandum rolling back regulations on the finical sector. The regulations targeted by the executive action place rules on how retirement saving are invested. [Link]
  • A Federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocks the enforcement of Trump’s executive order on immigration. The Trump Administration is seeking an emergency stay of the ruling. [Link]
  • The Trump Administration reverses an Obama policy of speeding up deportations for families and children who are in the US illegally. Resources will be focused on having trials to determine whether or not to deport immigrants who in detention centers. [Link]
  • 400,000 fewer Americans signed up for Obamacare health insurance on the federal healthcare.gov website in 2017. [Link]
  • Over 70 DHS fusion centers exist across the US. The stated purpose of the fusion centers is to collect information on American’s to prevent terrorism. The fusion centers have been ineffective, costly, and violating the constitutional rights of Americans. [Link]
  • A student has been denied a chance to prove his innocence by a judge because it would impose psychological trauma on his accuser. [Link]
  • A study finds that there has not been an increase in adolescent marijuana use in Colorado since the plant was legalized in 2012. [Link]
  • The Ukrainian government is likely responsible for restarting fighting in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have been fighting with Russian-backed separatist throughout this week. [Link] [Link]
  • The US has positioned a destroyer off the coast of Yemen. The USS Cole has arrived in the Bab al-Mandab Strait with the official mission of keeping shipping lanes open. [Link]
  • In Yemen, al-Qaeda seized three towns this week. The al-Qaeda victories follow the botched US raid on al-Qaeda last weekend. [Link]
  • To prove the success of last weekend’s raid in Yemen, the Pentagon released a video they suggested was valuable intelligence recovered in the raid. The Pentagon took the video down after it was discovered the video has been publically available since 2007. The Pentagon then said the purpose of releasing the video was not to prove the success of the raid. [Link]
Read Scott's NEW Book!
Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan