Foreign Policy

Uncle Sam Must Cease Intervention in Haiti

The Assassination of President Jovenel Moïse

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 7, 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen. His first lady, Martin Moïse, was critically injured. She was airlifted to Florida for treatment where she remains in critical condition.

Moïse was elected president of Haiti on February 7, 2017. According to Moïse’s opposition, his four-year term was to end on February 7, 2021. Moïse refused to step down on that date, arguing the Haitian constitution entitled him a five-year term. He has since remained in office, spurring months of opposition protests and rising crime rates that some outlets blame on Moïse himself.

The aftermath of the assassination was filmed by the late president’s neighbors. According to the Maimi Herald, a man can be heard in one of the videos yelling in English over a megaphone: “DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.”

Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., stated the attack “was carried out by foreign mercenaries and professional killers,” that it was “well-orchestrated,” and that the attackers were “masquerading as agents of the DEA.” He asked the U.S. government for assistance with the investigation.

Haitian officials claim at least twenty-eight people were involved in the assassination plot including twenty-six Colombian citizens and two Haitian-Americans. On July 8, Haitian national police chief Leon Charles confirmed that fifteen Colombians and the two Haitian Americans had been taken into custody. Three others were killed in a firefight with authorities. The two Haitian-Americans were identified as thirty-five-year-old James Solages and fifty-five-year-old Joseph Vincent.

Solages has been circumstantially linked to Haitian oligarchs Reginald Boulos and Dimitri Vorbe. Although Boulos and Vorbe were initially friendly to Moïse, they later became his outspoken critics, leading many Haitians to believe they are involved with the killing.

The day before the assassination, president Moïse nominated Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, to replace Joseph as prime minister. Henry was slated to be sworn in to the position on the afternoon of the killing, Wednesday, July 7. Following the assassination, Moïse’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, assumed a tenuous control of the Haitian government over Ariel Henry. As of the writing of this article, Joseph remains in power, though questions persist regarding the proper succession of presidential authority.

Joseph declared a state of martial law immediately following news of the assassination. Fearing unrest, the Dominican Republic closed its border with Haiti and the Port-au-Prince-Toussaint Louverture International Airport was shuttered, with all arriving planes being rerouted.

Despite Joseph’s declaration of martial law, the political situation appears relatively stable, at least for the moment. Nonetheless, the assassination has the potential to exacerbate an already turbulent political state of affairs—one to which the U.S. and other international influences not innocent third parties.

The U.S. and the O.A.S. Have Controlled the Haitian Presidency Since at Least 2011

If the current Haitian political arrangement appears chaotic, the U.S. and the U.S.-led Organization of American States (“O.A.S.”) own a lion’s share of the blame:

In April, 2009, the [U.S.] State Department, under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, decided to completely change the nature of the U.S. cooperation with Haiti.

Apparently tired with the lack of concrete results of U.S. aid, Hillary decided to align the policies of the State Department with the “smart power” doctrine proposed by the Clinton Foundation. From that moment on, following trends in philanthropy, the solutions of U.S. assistance would be based solely on “evidence.” The idea, according to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, “was that if we’re putting in the assistance, we need to know what the outcomes are going to be.”

The January 2010 earthquake was the long awaited opportunity to test this new policy.

The idea was to transform Haiti into a Taiwan of the Caribbean, with maquiladoras, an apparel industry, tourism, and call centers. These would be the niche sectors that would guide the new cooperation framework.

In this plan, the particularities of Haiti itself didn’t matter much.

To set this plan in motion, Clinton selected Cheryl Mills to head the U.S. State Department’s Haiti Task force despite the fact that Mills had neither training nor experience in international development.

In order for the Haitian People to accept Clinton and Mills’ technocratic agenda, it had to be window dressed as democratic consensus. This first required the breaking of the country’s deadlocked presidential race, which had been pushed from April 28, 2010 to November 28, 2010 in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. After the November vote, the election became deadlocked when none of the candidates received the required 50 percent of the vote.

According to the Haitian election commission, the candidates who received the two highest November vote totals were Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, and Jude Célestin, the candidate backed by the then-outgoing president, René Préval. The two candidates were scheduled to compete in a final run-off election March 28, 2011.

Despite the Haitian election commission’s findings, Clinton and the O.A.S. conducted their own audit of the November vote totals. This audit found popular Haitian singer Michael “Sweet Micky” Martelly had actually placed second and not Célestin. Incidentally, Martelly was the preferred candidate of the O.A.S.

To assure the Haitian people did not make the wrong choice, Hillary Clinton met with then-outgoing president René Préval on January 30, 2011. In this meeting, Clinton muscled Préval into breaking the electoral stalemate between the front running candidates:

Towards the end of the meeting, she asked Préval to make a last gesture in favor of harmony and understanding. It was to be a gesture that would lead him, once and for all, to a special place in the pantheon of Haiti’s history and the struggle for democracy in the continent. Préval replied with an emotive, albeit enigmatic smile. It was only him who knew that the crisis had reached its epilogue at that moment.

As she was leaving the house, Hillary invited Bellerive to accompany her. The [then-]prime minister asked Préval for authorization to do so and placed himself between the two women inside the armored truck that left in a convoy to the airport. Confident that she had obtained what she wanted, Hillary was concerned now with the result of the second round. Bellerive removed all traces of apprehension when he informed her that Michel Martelly was going to win easily. And so he did.

As she was heading toward the plane, Hillary made a comment to Bellerive about his family relationship with Martelly. He confirmed that they were distant cousins. Since they were both educated individuals and the game was already over, the secretary of state allowed herself to make a joke and asked: “You are relatives, but you don’t sing?” Bellerive replied, humorously: “Neither does he.”

Hillary confessed having heard Martelly sing some songs and could not agree more with Bellerive. Then, smiling, she left Haiti.

Martelly proved to be a heavy-handed leader who was subservient to international interests. During his presidency, NGOs and the U.S. State Department poured 12.9 billion dollars into Haiti (ironically, under the slogan “Building Back Better”). One central planner in the U.S. State Department’s Haiti Task Force called the program a “Petrie dish” for technocratic central planning.

Despite the investment, Haiti remained in an appalling state of ruin, raising questions of how exactly that money was used.

In 2015, Martelly’s term expired and elections were again delayed. Eventually, Moïse, Martelley’s hand-picked successor, won the presidency. Several observers deemed this election provably fraudulent, pointing to undue influence from E.U. and O.A.S. observers. The fraud allegations became so prevalent that the Haitian electoral commission formally called for the election’s annulment. Nevertheless, the U.S. and O.A.S. supported the results, leading directly to Moïse’s presidency.

Under the platform “Haiti is Open for Business,” among other efforts, the presidencies of Martelly and Moïse propped the door open for foreign states and N.G.O.s to pillage that country. Furthermore, the presidents also demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with O.A.S.’ meddlesome plans for other Central and South American Nations.

The U.S. Has an Extensive Record of Intervention in Haiti

Indeed, U.S. intervention in Haiti is nothing new. Most notably, the last time a Haitian president was assassinated, the U.S. invaded that country and occupied it for the next nineteen years.

The extended record of U.S. meddling in Haiti is voluminous, as retold by Ted Snider:

America and its allies have a long history of coups and interference that have caused Haiti to struggle to attain stability. Haiti’s democratic wishes have long been snuffed out by the U.S., and the people of Haiti have never had much say in whom they want to lead their country. In 1959, when a small group of Haitians tried to overthrow the savage U.S. backed dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier, the U.S. military, which was in Haiti to train Duvalier’s brutal forces, not only helped locate the rebels but took part in the fighting that squashed them.

A quarter of a century later, when the people of Haiti longed to elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, the C.I.A., with the authorization of President Reagan, funded candidates to oppose him, according to William Blum in Killing Hope. When the people of Haiti surmounted American obstructions and elected Aristide, the U.S., sometimes with the help of Canada and France, took him out: twice!

C.I.A. expert John Prados says that the “chief thug” amongst the groups of thugs and militia behind the coup was a C.I.A. asset. Tim Weiner, the author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the C.I.A., agrees. Weiner says that several of the leaders of the junta that took out Aristide “had been on the C.I.A.’s payroll for years.”

More Foreign Intervention Will Not Fix the Errors of Past Foreign Intervention

After the assassination, it took only thirteen hours for the editorial board of the Washington Post to clamor for the U.S., other foreign states, and international NGOs to swoop in with “[s]wift and muscular intervention.” Others, like Colombian president Ivan Duque have also urged for military intervention.

Despite the fact that Moïse’s presidency itself was due in large part to U.S. meddling, the Washington Post laments his poor track record, using it to support its case for more intervention.

The prime directive of said intervention, according to the Washington Post, would be yet another round of elections to “produce a government that would be seen as legitimate in the eyes of most Haitians.” If this new round of elections is anything like the last three, the same international interests will ram through yet another authoritarian lapdog.

To achieve these elections, the Washington Post advocates yet another international peacekeeping force occupy Haiti, much like the 2004-2017 U.N. Stabilization Mission. This is an occupation they conceded introduced a cholera epidemic to Haiti, received many “credible allegations of rape and sexual abuse,” and “fathered hundreds of babies born to impoverished local women and girls.”

You see, the Washington Post argues, the problem is not that nation-building does not work. Instead, the problem with the last U.N. Stabilization Mission was that it constituted troops from Nepal, Brazil, and Uruguay—not from other western leaders. Furthermore, the Washington Post argues the above unintended consequences were worth it, because the “U.N. force did manage to bring a modicum (emphasis added) of stability to the 2004 uprising.”

Of course, the Washington Post fails to mention the U.S.’ instrumental role in causing the 2004 uprising that to begin with.

The ostensible solution to the above unintended consequences is to commit U.N. soldiers from other member countries like the U.S., France, Canada, and additional O.A.S. member states. This proposed U.S. led occupation comes as the Biden Administration is failing to deliver a complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a country the U.S. and other western countries have unsuccessfully occupied for the last two decades, to disastrous effect.

Circumstantial Evidence of U.S. Involvement in the Assassination

Given the Washington Post’s deep ties to the C.I.A., its “editorial board’s” urgent advocacy for U.S. intervention is suspicious. Especially as circumstantial evidence points to some degree of U.S. State Department involvement in the assassination.

For instance, cables released by Wikileaks have linked prime minister Claude Joseph with the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. State Department’s engine for regime change operations across the world. Furthermore, the U.S. military has a long history of training and arming the Colombian military, whose veterans composed the majority of the Assassination squad. At least one prominent member of the team, Manuel Antonio Grosso Guarín received direct training from the U.S. Military.

The U.S. State Department has vehemently denied involvement.

Suspicions of U.S. involvement aside, it is infinitely plausible that a very unpopular president was assassinated by purely domestic opposition.

U.S. and U.N. Intervention is Not Warranted Even If Haitian Officials Request It

On Saturday, interim Prime minister Claude Joseph asked the U.S. and U.N. to “deploy troops to protect key infrastructure” to aid the country as it prepares for elections. Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s elections minister, expressed support for Joseph’s request.

On Saturday “a senior Biden administration official said the U.S. has no plans to provide military assistance at this time.” However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also noted that agents from the U.S. domestic Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security would be dispatched to Port-au-Prince “as soon as possible.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Biden have both reportedly “promised to help Haiti.”

Even if Haitian officials ask for assistance, the U.S. and U.N. should not provide it.

If a U.S. business magnate had orchestrated an assassination of the U.S. president and the vice president requested foreign soldiers to secure key infrastructure across the U.S., Americans would likely see these foreigners as an occupying army. In fact, foreign occupation was a large reason the U.S. colonists fought their war for independence. Many American officials at that time had also asked for British occupation.

Many Haitians are equally tired of foreign intervention in their domestic affairs. Journalist Kim Ives, Editor of the English Section of the newspaper Haiti Liberte, told Dan Cohen of Behind the Headlines:

Essentially, we have a U.S. Puppet [Claude Joseph] asking his puppeteer to invade Haiti for the fourth time in just over a century…But in both the region and, above all, the Haitian people are sick and tired of U.S. military interventions, which are largely responsible for the nation’s current debilitated, critical state both economically and politically. Much of the most oppressed neighborhoods are now heavily armed and have already announced a revolution similar to that which emerged against the U.S. marines in 1915 and U.N. ‘peace-keepers’ in 2004, only more ferocious.

Regardless of the outcome of the latest interventionist snafu in Haiti, and regardless of how bad the situation becomes, foreign intervention will not solve the myriad problems caused by foreign intervention. After over a century of ill-fated international involvement in Haiti, it is high time for a radical concept: that Haiti should be left for Haitians to govern themselves.

Another Failed 20-Year War: America vs. Somalia

This essay is adapted from the Libertarian Institute’s Executive Director Scott Horton’s new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.

Freedom Works

The name “Somalia” has somehow become a slur against Americans who prioritize political liberty. “Oh, you think freedom works, huh? Well, why don’t you just move to Somalia?” This nonsense may have originated from the fact that some libertarian economists, such as Michael van Notten and Peter T. Leeson, noticed that when Somalia’s government ceased to exist after various warlords had exhausted themselves fighting over control of the country in the late 1990s, freedom was working. No power in the country had a monopoly on force, so traditional tribal methods of dispute resolution were being used instead. There was no authority to collect tariffs at the ports of Kismayo or Mogadishu, so the economy was booming. The cell phone industry, which was a huge marker of progress, was also growing rapidly in Somalia, greater than anywhere else in that part of Africa.

As Mary Harper wrote in her book Getting Somalia Wrong?: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State,

Although living standards in Somalia were low by Western standards, they compared fairly favourably with those in other countries in Africa…Telecommunications have improved dramatically since the fall of central authority, with Somalia moving from twenty-ninth to eighth position in the list of African countries.

One positive side of “statelessness” is that Somalia has benefited from the absence of restrictive and over-bureaucratic business laws and other regulations that are so prevalent in other parts of Africa, stifling the spirit of entrepreneurship and inhibiting growth….Many commentators have noted that the Somali civil war ironically resembled, in its outcomes, a radical structural adjustment program: it entirely freed the economy from state regulation – liberalizing foreign trade, freeing exchange rates, eliminating subsidies, destroying the public sector, and privatizing parastatals.

No, it was not perfect. It was Somalia. They had been ruled by the brutal American-backed Communist dictator Siad Barre until 1991. The country was essentially coming up from nothing. And in the scheme of things, they were doing okay without any single power leading it all.

But the U.S.A. canceled all that back in 2001.

The violence there since that time has been the result of intervention by the U.S. military and CIA. American power, not freedom, has brought this small, poor country out of anarchy and back into chaos and destruction.

Even if there had been a strong central government in Mogadishu, they obviously could not have held off the U.S. and its allies in the Ethiopian army, which invaded in 2006. In fact, it was the eventual consolidation of a central government in reaction to the CIA’s violence which had provoked the invasion and Somalia’s destruction.

A Vicious Cycle

Just after the September 11th attacks, the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) – that is top tier special operations forces – went to Somalia and started hiring the very warlords who had been America’s antagonists during the infamous “Black Hawk Down” disaster of 1993. In that case, local fighters assisted by Osama bin Laden’s men took revenge against the Americans for horrifying war crimes committed against Somali civilians, including children, by United Nations “peacekeepers” from Canada, Belgium and Italy. But with the advent of the War on Terrorism, Hussein Mohamed Aidid, the son of then-enemy Mohamed Farrah Aidid, and other local thugs, were hired by the CIA to hunt down and kill Islamist terrorists. What happened instead was the warlords took the money and guns and did whatever they wanted, fighting against their own enemies and for their own power at the expense of the Somali people. That is why they are called warlords. They may have turned up with the scalp of a jihadist here or there, or claimed so to the Americans every once in a while, but they were mostly using the money and weapons to fight amongst each other and oppress the locals. The situation grew progressively worse in a cycle where local militias would fight against these warlords and drive them back. The warlords would then come to the CIA, claiming the resistance to their criminality only proved how many enemies were out there. They would then receive more money and weapons for the effort. This pattern continued until finally, in 2005, 13 separate groups joined together into the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). They succeeded in driving the warlords across the border into Ethiopia later that year.

It should be noted here that virtually all of this story takes place in southern Somalia. The northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland have their own problems, including piracy, but nothing like this.

In the summer of 2006, the CIA renamed their favored warlords the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism (ARPCT). This provoked a massive popular reaction in favor of the insurgents. All across southern Somalia, tribal leaders, businessmen and the traditional courts united into the new ICU, renamed the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC).

It is possible the SCIC had some aspirations toward Talibanism. They were accused of closing a local movie theater in Mogadishu and banning female employment outside the home, but they had no power to enforce a real authoritarian state. Also, it turned out that the movie house rule only applied in the morning because kids had been skipping school and had nothing to do with Islamism, and the rumors about women being banned from working were false. Somalia is a Muslim country, but their traditions are nothing like the Hanafi Muslim Pashtun culture in Afghanistan or the Wahhabist absolutism of America’s Saudi allies. There were no real al Qaeda members around, but the SCIC had the word “Islamic” in their name. That was enough for George W. Bush.

Ethiopia Invades

The U.S. encouraged the Ethiopians to invade and smash the SCIC at the end of December 2006. The CIA and special operations forces backed up the invading army with C-130 gunships, strafing and bombing innocent people, a war crime. Americans also labeled anyone who was running for any border to escape the violence as a terrorist, some of whom were subject to “extraordinary rendition” to Ethiopia, including one American citizen.

The Washington Post claimed that this was all justified not because the Islamic Courts Union has the word “Islamic” in it. That would be overkill. No, the war was launched because the FBI said there were three al Qaeda “suspects,” who were “wanted for questioning” in the case of al Qaeda’s 1998 African Embassy attacks, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Talha al-Sudani. Back in the 1990s, terrorism was still considered a job for the Justice Department and the FBI. Federal agents were even being deployed overseas to try to arrest and prosecute al Qaeda plotters. After September 11th, Dick Cheney decided the days of filing criminal charges and empaneling grand juries were over. But these three guys, still wanted by the criminal justice system, were cited by the government as their excuse to launch a devastating war of regime change in Mogadishu with Ethiopian proxy forces.

The war against the Islamic Courts was over very quickly. But a new enemy is the target in Somalia now. When the 13 groups came together to compose the ICU-SCIC government, the least-influential of all the groups had been the youth, “al-Shabaab.” The elders and local authority figures were in charge. But when the Ethiopian army, backed by the United States, invaded and destroyed the fledgling state, who picked up rifles to fight? The youth.

Al-Shabaab are not really international terrorists, but they are sworn bin Ladenites, in word if not in actual form. Though they have not targeted the United States, they have grown from nothing into something that is certainly dangerous to the people of Somalia and the region. They are the effect of, and now the ongoing reason for U.S. intervention in the country.

Somalia expert Bronwyn Bruton wrote of the American role in the war:

From the beginning, the United States was viewed as a not-so-hidden partner of Ethiopia. Besides its public support for the Ethiopian invasion, the United States launched a series of missile attacks on fleeing SCIC leaders in January 2007. The missiles failed to hit their targets, but caused scores of civilian casualties, and inextricably linked the United States to Ethiopia’s occupation and subsequent human rights abuses by the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], Ethiopian, and African Union forces. These abuses included rape, kidnapping, mortar fire on civilian hospitals and media houses, and indiscriminate shelling of civilian crowds in response to insurgent attacks.

It has been a bitter war. Tens of thousands have been killed in the violence. At various times al-Shabaab has even ruled the major cities of Mogadishu and Kismayo.

In 2008, with the clock running out on the Bush administration, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, former leader of the Islamic Courts Union, could go ahead and be the president after all. But he would have to accept the role of president of the “Transitional Federal Government” that the U.S. and UN had created for Somalia instead of the old ICU-SCIC. “It would be preferable to co-opt a weak Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, to prevent hardliners from rallying around him,” Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer explained. America had launched and fought a two-year war up to that point just to say that the guy they overthrew can actually go ahead and be in charge anyway. Sharif took the deal. The U.S. kept him as the president through 2012. He is now known, at least in the West, as “The Father of Modern Somalia.” The whole war had been for nothing. Not that it is over yet. Al-Shabaab quickly denounced Sharif as a traitor for bowing down to America and their Ethiopian proxy and vowed to fight on.

Starving

Sadly, the worst part of the war has been the weather. Drought came in 2010–2012 and again in 2015–2017. Crops failed across the whole Horn of Africa, but Somalia was hit the hardest because they were at war. The farmers had not had a chance to sow their crops or to harvest them. They had no transportation, so whatever crops could be grown could not reach the market, which was closed anyway because no one had any money. The entire system of food distribution and services in Somalia completely broke down. People were lying down and dying in refugee camps on the sides of the highways. A quarter of a million of them had starved to death by the beginning of 2013. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), a U.S. and UK-backed non-governmental organization (NGO) that keeps track of global famines, said that more than half of the 250,000 who had died were children under five years old. The elderly were also among those hit hardest by the mass starvation. A million people had been driven from their homes.

America helped to reduce Somalia to the most desperate state. Then in 2011, President Obama sent President Bill Clinton’s old friend and national security adviser, Anthony Lake, to take charge of distributing international food relief. These efforts fell far short. The food relief did not get to the starving people out in the countryside. The warlords seized it all to feed their soldiers and sell the rest. Also in 2011, the Kenyan invasion disrupted the distribution of food aid. This has been one of the worst humanitarian crises of this century, inflicted by the most powerful nation in history against one of the weakest – people who have done nothing to us. In 2017, FEWSNET reported that mortality and under-five mortality rates remained at emergency levels. In 2020, the Cost of War Project estimated that 46 percent of Somalia’s population have been displaced since the U.S. began its latest intervention at the dawn of the War on Terrorism.

‘No Choice’

Al-Shabaab seized the southern port city Kismayo in 2008 and began clear-cutting for their industry in black market charcoal which contributed to the famine as well. In 2012, Kenyan troops took Kismayo from al-Shabaab and drove them out. However, separating them from their revenue had the perverse effect of forcing them to turn to funders in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere for support. They finally declared their allegiance to al Qaeda, six years into the war, to secure Saudi donors. There is no real reason to consider al-Shabaab to be actual bin Ladenite international terrorists. Though they have hit targets across borders in Kenya and Ethiopia, these represent military and reprisal attacks against their direct opponents in the war.

The Ethiopian army was driven out of Somalia in 2009, but have since returned along with Burundi, Ugandan and Kenyan forces acting under the auspices of the African Union, with America footing the bill. Al-Shabaab’s terrorist attacks against civilian targets expanded to Kenya and Ethiopia in response.

Two separate “black sites” – secret, illegal prisons – have been revealed by American journalists, one in the capital of Mogadishu and one in the northern province of Somaliland. In both cases prisoners were reported to have been tortured. Both are run with the help and cooperation of U.S. intelligence agents and officers.

All through the Obama years, he used CIA and Air Force drones, special operations forces and even fired cruise missiles from submarines in the effort to fight al-Shabaab. Hundreds of innocent people were killed. Dozens of Somali-Americans have reportedly traveled back to their home country to fight with al-Shabaab. Fortunately, none have yet decided to wage their part of the war here in America. However, in late 2020, the Justice Department charged and accused a Kenyan member of al-Shabaab of, they claimed, training to fly an airliner for the purpose of attempting a September 11th-type suicide attack on the United States.

President Trump escalated the war, expanding the number of airstrikes, special operations forces – both those fighting al-Shabaab and those training the Somali national army – and sent regular infantry there as well. He also signed orders designating Somalia as an active war zone, devolving strike authority lower down the military chain of command and removing some restrictions on who can be targeted.

But, at least according to the Washington Post, this was all despite the fact that Trump did not want the U.S. there at all. He complained about the Army’s useless mission in far-flung Somalia. “Can’t we just pull out?” the president repeatedly asked his staff in 2017. “You have no choice,” replied then-Secretary of Defense Mattis. So, Trump escalated the war, killing many but accomplishing nothing. In his term, Trump’s administration launched more drone attacks on Somalis than Bush and Obama’s combined. Terrorist attacks and territory held by al-Shabaab only increased.

Jason Hartwig, a former military assistance coordinator for the U.S. mission to Somalia, told the author there is no way the U.S.-created government in Mogadishu can defeat al-Shabaab without a massive, cost-prohibitive effort. The reality is that the situation, like Afghanistan, is worse than a stalemate. The initiative is with the indigenous insurgents. The mission to train up a new army has failed. Without the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), made up of Ethiopian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Burundian troops there to support the regime, it would fall to al-Shabaab “very quickly.” That is because the government the U.S. has installed has little popular support. Mary Harper writes that the government “is known by the derogatory Somali nickname daba dhilif, which translates roughly as a ‘government set up for a foreign purpose’ or a ‘satellite government.’” Bronwyn Bruton explains that the U.S.-installed regime uses false accusations of association with the terrorists as an excuse to do whatever they want. “The Somali government often uses the al-Shabaab charge to wipe out people either to get the land they want or out of clan rivalry.” Ugandan and Burundian troops have been credibly accused of raping Somali women and young girls. The current president was working at the Department of Transportation in Buffalo, New York, before the CIA dropped him in place to be the face of the national government. The people there are not going to submit to this any more than we would.

Ahmed Abdi Godane, leader of the al-Shabaab faction with the most extensive ambitions, was killed by a drone strike back in 2014. The war in Somalia is really a civil war and should be treated as one. America and its allies should simply withdraw and let the negotiations begin.

Without foreign intervention creating the pressures that hold the al-Shabaab alliance together, it is more likely that clan-based conflict resolution would return as the dominant tradition. As Bruton wrote,

Previous attempts by jihadist groups to govern Somalia have foundered against the Somalis’ hostility to restrictive, non-Somali religious edicts and the inability of foreigners to operate within the clan system. During the 1990s, an al Qaeda-linked group called al-Ittihad controlled a significant portion of southern Somalia, but quickly faced resistance and became defunct – without any intervention by the United States.

Even if al-Shabaab ends up taking over the whole southern part of the country, they will have every incentive to try to get along with America. The ICU tried to deal with the U.S. back in 2005, and many members of the current government are former ICU and SCIC members. Victory against their forces is not in the cards. So what are we still fighting for?

It does not matter one bit to the American people, or even “U.S. interests,” broadly defined, who rules the Horn of Africa. It is in no one’s interest to close the gates of the Red Sea, nor could any force on this planet resist the U.S. Navy if it came to a contest of arms.

Before the 2020 election, Trump’s staff leaked to Bloomberg News that he wanted to withdraw from Somalia. He could have simply commanded it to be so. Instead, after the election, in December 2020, Trump’s Defense Department announced they were pulling “the majority” of troops out of Somalia. They quickly clarified, “While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in U.S. policy.” The troops are being moved to Djibouti and Kenya instead. Anti-al-Shabaab missions are to continue indefinitely.

TGIF: Watch the Forest as Well as the Trees

It’s always important not to miss the forest for the trees. U.S. government announcements, such as its report of the turnover to the Afghan government of the seventh and last military base in Afghanistan, Bagram, should lead no one to think that U.S. foreign policy has changed worldwide or even in that particular region. Far from it. This is true even if virtually all U.S. troops, except for 600 military personnel, most of them left to guard the U.S. embassy, have left Afghanistan, as reported by Politico. (Who knows what the special operations forces will be up to?)

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki (at 1:03) said, “We have every intention of continuing an ongoing presence in Kabul, which is continuing even after we bring our military who are serving home by the end of August.” But will those people come home or be redeployed? Can we expect cuts in the military budget? That may hold a clue.

A month earlier Psaki said, “The United States will remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.” In part I translate this to mean that the U.S. military contractors need not lose any sleep.

Note that Psaki invoked the old “safe haven” case for being ready to do something more in Afghanistan–or anywhere else, really. This is the argument that if we aren’t careful, certain failing countries could become headquarters for terrorist groups bent on attacking America or Americans. Chief case in point, according to the convention wisdom, is Afghanistan after the Russians left and the U.S. government turned its attention elsewhere. Then came al Qaeda, supposedly given safe harbor by the Taliban.

But the “safe haven argument is a myth—a false but widely believed tale used to justify continuing a policy of perpetual failure,” Scott Horton has repeatedly pointed out. (See also Horton’s invaluable Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan.) As Horton summarized in The American Conservative in 2017, apart from the particular case of Afghanistan, from which the tiny remnant of al Qaeda has long departed, “terrorists don’t need safe havens from which to strike. As we’ve seen in recent attacks in the United States and Europe, one or two men with rifles or a truck can do plenty of damage with no more preparation space than a rented apartment.”

Moreover, he adds, “The few dozen core al Qaeda members who survived the initial Air Force bombing campaign in Afghanistan fled the country by the end of 2001 [largely to Pakistan]. They were a non-factor in the war against the Taliban regime, and at no point did they have major influence in the insurgency against the occupation that grew up in later years. If any did come back they would be irrelevant. Afghanistan is exile, as far as anyone can get from anywhere. It provides no special access to any Western target.” (Emphasis added.)

Just to drive the point home, Horton goes on: “The September 11 hijackers, none of whom were Afghans, gained entry to the United States under regular tourist and student visas. The terrorists launched the attacks from Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey. They had planned them in Malaysia, Germany, Spain, California, Florida, and Maryland.” (See the article and the book for details on how distant the Taliban was from Osama bin Laden, despite U.S. government efforts to conflate the two.)

Needless to say, the safe-have myth has cost many lives, Afghan and American. And the myth seems not to have outlived its usefulness. The case for the United States as guardian of the globe echoes the myth, even when it is not invoked outright. Never forgetting 9/11 apparently means that the U.S. military and CIA need to be ready to pounce anywhere and everywhere. Nothing that goes on the world can be allowed to escape the attention of our best and brightest, lest we are caught asleep again.

But as Horton points out in the case of Afghanistan and the Middle East, the allegedly vigilant policies are actually counterproductive: rather than avert threats, they produce threats that then are used to justify U.S. intervention. It’s been well-documented that 9/11 grew out of long years’ of American intervention in the Middle East, especially the close ties with Israel and the Saudi monarchy and the 1990s child-killing sanctions against the Iraqis. (For details, in addition to Fool’s Errand, also see Horton’s encyclopedic Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.)

Provoking threats in order to respond to them is a very old game of state. Whenever U.S. troops suffer casualties in some remote place, I can almost hear a U.S. official saying, “That’s why we need U.S. troops there. Without them, who would defend the U.S. troops there?”

In our efforts to keep track of the details of particular interventions, we must not lose sight of the big picture: the U.S. government’s lethal and costly self-appointed mission to police the world and its rationalizations for that role. If liberty matters, it’s a “little America” policy that we must promote.

Like Vietnam, the War in Afghanistan Shows the Disasters of Interventionism

The end of the 20-year U.S. war on Afghanistan was predictable: no one has conquered Afghanistan, and Washington was as foolish as Moscow in the 1970s for trying. Now, U.S. troops are rushing out of the country as fast as they can, having just evacuated the symbol of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, Bagram Air Base.

While perhaps not as dramatic as the “Fall of Saigon” in 1975, where U.S. military helicopters scrambled to evacuate personnel from the roof of the U.S. Embassy, the lesson remains the same and remains unlearned: attempting to occupy, control, and remake a foreign country into Washington’s image of the United States will never work. This is true no matter how much money is spent and how many lives are snuffed out.

In Afghanistan, no sooner are U.S. troops vacating an area than Taliban fighters swoop in and take over. The Afghan army seems to be more or less melting away. This weekend the Taliban took control of a key district in the Kandahar Province, as Afghan soldiers disappeared after some fighting.

The U.S. is estimated to have spent nearly 100 billion dollars training the Afghan army and police force. The real number is likely several times higher. For all that money and 20 years of training, the Afghan army cannot do its job. That’s either quite a statement about the quality of the training, the quality of the Afghan army, or some combination of the two.

Whatever the case, I am sure I am not the only American wondering whether we can get a refund. The product is clearly faulty.

Speaking of money wasted, in April, Brown University’s Cost of War Project calculated the total cost of the Afghanistan war at more than two trillion dollars. That means millions of Americans have been made poorer for a predictably failed project. It also means that thousands of the well-connected contractors and companies that lurk around the U.S. Capitol Beltway pushing war have become much, much richer.

That’s U.S. foreign policy in a nutshell: taking money from middle-class Americans and transferring it to the elites of the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment. It’s welfare for the rich.

Meanwhile, the Costs of War Project also estimated that the war took more than a quarter of a million lives.

The Biden Administration may believe it is saving face by installing a military command of nearly 1,000 troops inside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, but this is foolish and dangerous. Such a move establishes the U.S. Embassy as a legitimate military target rather than a diplomatic outpost. Has anyone at the Pentagon or the State Department thought this through?

Plans to occupy the airport in Kabul are also unlikely to work. Does anyone think that, having come this far, an emboldened and victorious Taliban are going to sit by as U.S. or allied military occupy the Kabul airport?

Trillions of dollars wasted and millions either killed or displaced from their homes. For nothing. The lessons of Afghanistan are simple: bring all U.S. troops home, defend the United States as necessary, and leave the rest of the world to its own business. We’ve tried it the other way and it clearly doesn’t work.

This article was originally featured at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is republished with permission.

Will the United Kingdom Trip Us Into a War with Russia?

Less than two weeks after NATO members reaffirmed allegiance to Article 5—that an attack on one member was an attack on all members—the UK nearly put that pledge to the test. In a shockingly provocative move, the UK’s HMS Defender purposely sailed into Crimean territorial waters on its way to Georgia.

Press reports suggest that there was a dispute between the UK defense and foreign ministries over whether to violate Russia’s claimed territorial waters with a heavily armed warship. According to reports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself jumped in to over-rule the more cautious Foreign Office in favor of confrontation.

As Johnson later claimed, because the UK (and the U.S.) does not recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the UK was actually sailing through Ukrainian waters. It was an in-your-face move toward Russia just weeks after the U.S. and NATO were forced to back down from a major clash with Russia in eastern Ukraine

This time, as was the case in eastern Ukraine, the Russians took a different view of the situation. Russian coast guard vessels ordered the HMS Defender to exit Russian territorial waters—an order they punctuated with rare live fire of cannon and dropping of bombs.

Having had their bluff called, the UK government did what all governments do best: it lied. The Russians did not shoot at a UK warship, they claimed. It was a previously-scheduled Russian military exercise in the area.

Unfortunately for the UK government, in its haste to create good propaganda about standing up to Russia, they had a BBC reporter on-board the Defender who spilled the beans: Yes, the Russian military did issue several warnings, yes it did buzz the HMS Defender multiple times, and yes there were shots fired in the Defender’s direction.

Similarly, in the spring, Russia rapidly deployed 75,000 troops on the border with Ukraine in response to a U.S.-backed Ukrainian military build-up. The message was clear: Russia would no longer sit by as the US government and its allies intervened next door.

Russia now has demonstrated that it will protect Crimea, which voted in a 2014 referendum to re-join Russia. The Crimean vote was triggered by the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine. That is called “unintended consequences” of foreign interventionism.

The problem with the UK, the US, and their NATO allies is that they believe their own propaganda and they act accordingly. A famous 2004 quote attributed to George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, clearly spelled out this line of thinking. Said Rove, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

These two recent near-clashes with Russia demonstrate that the “reality” created by an almost religious belief in American or NATO exceptionalism can often crash hard against the reality of 75,000 troops or the Black Sea Fleet

The anti-Russia propaganda endlessly repeated by both political parties in Washington and amplified by the anti-Trump media for more than four years has completely saturated the Beltway and beyond. Even as the Russiagate conspiracy was proven to be a lie, the propaganda it spawned lives on.

Blustering Boris Johnson almost provoked a major war over an infantile desire to continue poking and prodding Russia in its own backyard. This time the war was averted, but what about next time? Will the adults ever be in charge?

This article was originally featured at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is republished with permission.

“Stain of the Century?” An Investigation of Uyghur Genocide Allegations Ep. 173

  In the midst of the United States’ renewed great power competition with Russia and China, the western foreign policy establishment has launched a sustained propaganda campaign to steel the American public into supporting international confrontation with China. A large facet of this broader campaign is the allegation that China is actively committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims, a Turkic ethnic minority living in the nations westernmost province of Xinjiang. Despite the dubious credibility of the evidence supporting this claim and its US State Department origins, the establishment and “alternative” media have pushed these allegations as fact. This investigation documents the sources of this evidence, exposes its credibility issues, and examines those who are pushing it as truth, focusing on alternative media darling Tim Pool. Transcript, Support, and Sources: http://www.libertyweekly.net/uyghurgenocide

Iraqi Militia Declares War on U.S. Soldiers In-Country

U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria overnight didn’t take long to provoke a reaction, despite claims that the strikes were a “deterrent.” US troops in Syria were under rocket attacks within a matter of hours.

Details are still emerging, though the U.S. says that there are no casualties so far. This is just the start of the problem though, with the targeted militia vowing “open war with the American occupation.”

U.S. troops reportedly came under rocket fire in northeastern Syria, and U.S. troops responded with artillery fire. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that the U.S. is ready to act further.

Iraq’s umbrella militia Hashd al-Shaabi says four Iraqis were killed in the U.S. attacks, and promised to “wreak vengeance on the perpetrators of this heinous crime.” In the attack on Syria, the US killed at least one civilian child.

In addition to attacks in Syria, the group is threatening to target U.S. aircraft and fire missiles against U.S. bases in Iraq.

Many in Iraq are calling for revenge, while Iran issued a statement warning Biden that he is headed down the wrong path. Biden has touted this as a message to Iran.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

The Con Job of the Century?

Over the course of the past century, a number of truly awe-inspiring heists have been carried out by con artists, whose modus operandi is to exploit human frailties such as credulity, insecurity and greed. Con is short for confidence, for the con artist must first gain the trust of his targets, after which he persuades them to hand their money over to him. A con job differs from a moral transaction between two willing, fully informed trading partners because one of the partners is deceived, and deception constitutes a form of coercion. In other words, the person being swindled is not really free. If he knew what was really going on, he would never agree to invest in the scheme.

The “Ponzi scheme” was named after Charles Ponzi, who in the 1920s persuaded investors to believe that he was generating impressive profits by buying international reply coupons (IRCs) at low prices abroad and redeeming them in the United States at higher rates, the fluctuating currency market being the secret to his seemingly savvy success. In reality, Ponzi used his low-level investors’ money to pay off earlier investors, support himself, and expand his business by luring more and more investors in. More recently, Bernie Madoff managed to abscond with billions of dollars by posing as an investment genius who could deliver sizable, indeed exceptional, returns on his clients’ investments.

It is plausible that at least some of the early investors in such gambits, who are paid as promised, suppress whatever doubts may creep up in their minds as they bask in the splendor of their newfound wealth. But even those who begin consciously to grasp what is going on may turn a blind eye as the scheme grows to engulf investors who will be fleeced, having been persuaded to participate not only by the smooth-talking con artist, but also by the reported profits of previous investors. Eventually, however, the house of cards collapses, revealing the incredible but undeniable truth: there never were any investments at all. No trading ever took place, and all of the company’s transactions were either deposits or withdrawals of gullible investors’ cash.

Before a con artist is unmasked, nearly everyone involved plays along, either because they stand to gain, or because they truly believe. Sometimes the implications of having been wrong are simply too devastating to admit, and these same psychological dynamics operate in many other realms where most people would never suspect anything like a Ponzi scheme. It is arguable, for example, that the continuous siphoning of U.S. citizens’ income to pay for misguided military interventions abroad constitutes a form of Ponzi scheme. If President George H. W. Bush had never used taxpayers’ dollars to wage the First Gulf War on Iraq in 1991 and to install permanent military bases in the Middle East, then Osama bin Laden would likely never have called for jihad against the United States. If the U.S. military had not invaded Iraq in 2003, then ISIS would never have emerged and spread to Syria and beyond. Such implications are deeply unsettling, and even in the face of mounds of evidence, most people prefer to cling to the official story according to which the 1991 Gulf War was necessary and just, while the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were completely unprovoked, and all subsequent interventions a matter of national self-defense.

The series of bombing campaigns in the Middle East beginning in 1991 are plausibly regarded as a type of Ponzi scheme because the “investors” (taxpayers), have actually paid to make themselves worse, not better, off. Not only have the “blowback” attacks perpetrated in response to U.S. military intervention abroad killed many innocent persons, but the lives of thousands of soldiers have been and continue to be wrecked through dubious deployments abroad. Along with all of the blood spilled, much treasure has been lost. The more than $28 trillion national debt (as of June 2021) is due in part to the massive Pentagon budget, rubber-stamped annually by Congress, to say nothing of the many other “discretionary” initiatives claimed to be necessary in national defense. Afghanistan is a perfect example of how billions of taxpayer dollars continue to be tossed into the wind even as the formal U.S. military presence winds down. The reason why the War on Terror continues on is not because it is protecting the citizens who pay for it or helping the people of the Middle East but because it has proved to be profitable to persons in the position to influence U.S. foreign policy.

One might reasonably assume that anyone who stands to enrich himself from government policies should be excluded from consequential deliberations over what ought to be done, and in certain realms, the quite rational concern with conflict of interest still operates to some degree. With regard to the military, however, there has been a general acquiescence by the populace to the idea that because only experts inside the system are capable of giving competent advice, they must be consulted, even when they will profit from the policies they promote, such as bombing, which invariably increases the value of stock in companies such as Raytheon. Throughout history, there has always been a push by war profiteers to promote military interventions, but Dick Cheney, who served as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush and vice president under his son, George W. Bush, took war profiteering to an entirely new level. By privatizing many military services through the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), Cheney effectively ushered in a period of war entrepreneurialism, beginning with Halliburton (of which he was CEO from 1995-2000), which continues on today, making it possible for a vast nexus of subcontractors to profit from the never-ending War on Terror, and to do so in good conscience. When more people have self-interested reasons for supporting military interventions, then they become more likely to take place.

With the quelling of concerns that conflict of interest should limit the persons who advise the president on matters of foreign policy, the formal requirement that the secretary of defense be not a military officer but a civilian has been effectively dropped, with both James Mattis and Lloyd Austin easily confirmed as “exceptions” to the rule, despite the fact that, not only did both have significant financial interests in promoting war, but each also had a full career in the military before retiring and being invited to lead the DoD. Military men are inclined to seek military solutions to conflict, which is undoubtedly why high-ranking officers are invited to join the boards of military companies, making Mattis and Austin textbook examples of “revolving door” appointments.

Arguably even more ruinous to the republic in the longterm than the rampant conflict of interest inherent to “revolving door” appointments between the for-profit military industry and the government has been the infiltration of the military into academia, with many universities receiving large grants from the Defense Department for research. Academia would be a natural place for intellectual objections to the progressive militarization of society, but when scholars and scientists themselves benefit directly from DoD funds, they have self-interested reasons to dismiss or discredit those types of critiques—whether consciously or not—in publishing, retention and promotion decisions. In addition to the institutional research support provided by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), successful academics may receive hefty fees as consultants for the Pentagon and its many affiliates, making them far more likely to defend the hegemon than to raise moral objections to its campaigns of mass homicide euphemistically termed “national defense”.

As a result of the tentacular spread of the military, Cui bono? as a cautionary maxim has been replaced by Who cares? People seem not at all bothered by these profound conflicts of interest, and the past year has illustrated how cooption and corruption may creep easily into other realms as well. Indeed, there is a sense in which today we have two MICs: the military-industrial-complex and, now, in the age of Covid-19, the medical-industrial-complex. This latter development can be viewed, in part, as a consequence of the former, for in recent decades the military industrial complex has sprouted tentacles to become the military-industrial-congressional-media-academic-pharmaceutical-logistics banking complex. Long before Covid-19 appeared on the scene, the Veterans Administration (VA) adopted pro-Big Pharma policies, including the prescription of a vast array of psychotropic medications in lieu of “talk therapy” to treat PTSD among veterans and to preemptively medicate soldiers who expressed anxiety at what they were asked to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. The increase in the prescription of drugs to military personnel generated hefty profits for pharmaceutical firms, allowing them to expand marketing and lobbying efforts to target not only physicians but also politicians and the populace.

Since the initial launch of Prozac in 1986, the pharmaceutical industry has become an extremely powerful force in Western society, made all the more so in the United States when restrictions on direct-to-consumer advertising were lifted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. Already by 2020, about 23% of Americans (nearly 77 million out of a population of 331 million) were taking psychiatric medications, and those numbers appear to have increased significantly during the 2020 lockdowns, which took a toll on many people’s psychological well-being. As medications are prescribed more and more throughout every sector of society, drug makers exert a greater and greater influence on policy, even as the heroin/fentanyl overdose epidemic, caused directly by the aggressive marketing and rampant overprescription of opioid painkillers, continues on.

Just as the military industry is granted the benefit of the doubt on the assumption that they are helping to protect the nation, the pharmaceutical industry accrues respectability from its association with the medical profession. Who, after all, could oppose “defense” and “health”? In reality, however, for-profit weapons and drug companies are beholden not to their compatriots, nor to humanity, but to their stockholders. War and disease are profitable, while peace and health are not. The CEOs of military and pharmaceutical companies, like all businesspersons, seek to ensure that their profits increase by all means necessary, the prescription opioid epidemic being a horrific case in point. Just as academics may enjoy Defense Department funding, many doctors and administrators of medical institutions today derive essential funding from drug companies and the government, whether directly or indirectly. These connections are immensely important because many politicians receive generous campaign contributions from Big Pharma, which by now has more lobbyists in Washington, DC, than there are congresspersons, and not without reason. Formulary decisions at the VA regarding the appropriateness of prescribing, for example, dangerous antipsychotic medications such as Astrazeneca’s Seroquel to soldiers as sleep aids are made by administrators who are political appointees, as are public health officials more generally.

With a functional Fourth Estate, it would be possible to question if not condemn the conflicts of interest operating in the for-profit military and medical realms. Unfortunately, however, we no longer have a competent press. Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, this has become abundantly clear as alternative viewpoints on every matter of policy have been squelched, suppressed, and outright censored in the name of the truth, when there may have been ulterior motives at play. In fact, the complete quashing of any directives regarding non-vaccine therapies for mitigating the effects of Covid-19—including Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine—may be best explained by the simple fact that FDA emergency use authorization of vaccines in the United States is possible only when “there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives,” as is stated plainly on the specification sheets for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Regarding the origins of the virus, early claims by some researchers that Covid-19 may have been produced in the virology lab in Wuhan and released accidentally were swiftly dismissed as “conspiracy theories.” Anyone who suggested this eminently plausible origin of the virus was immediately denounced by the media and deplatformed or censored by the big tech giants. “Gain-of-function” research, often funded by the military, involves making existent viruses deadlier to human beings and is said by its proponents to be necessary in order to be prepared for future natural pandemics or in the event that some enemy might use such a virus as a bioweapon. The latter is a familiar line of reasoning among military researchers, invoked also (mutatis mutandis) in nuclear proliferation and the military colonization of space: we must develop the latest and greatest nuclear bombs and effect total spectrum domination of the galaxy before any other government has the chance to do so! Many of the scientists involved in these endeavors may have the best of intentions, but that does nothing to detract from the propensity of human beings to commit errors.

In the case of Covid-19, the origin of the virus was deemed settled because Dr. Anthony Fauci, an ardent apologist for gain-of-function research and the reigning public health guru in the United States, authoritatively insisted that the transition from bats to humans came about naturally. After Fauci’s pronouncement, it seemed a matter of common knowledge to “right-thinking” believers in The ScienceTM everywhere that the virus probably came from the wet market in Wuhan, where live animals were sold as ingredients for use in culinary delicacies such as bat soup. When the World Health Organization (WHO) looked into the matter, they appointed Peter Daszak to lead the investigation. But Daszak had in fact funded gain-of-function research by repackaging and distributing U.S. government funds through his firm EcoHealth Alliance. Needless to say, Daszak had every reason in the world to squelch any suggestion to the effect that he himself may have had something to do with the millions of deaths caused by Covid-19.

We do not yet know whether the virus had a natural or manmade origin, but if in fact U.S. taxpayer-funded research caused the pandemic and millions of deaths, then this would constitute yet another example of a government-perpetrated Ponzi scheme, rivaling and perhaps even surpassing the War on Terror in its negative consequences. We pay for gain-of-function research (determined by bureaucrats such as Anthony Fauci to be a good idea), and then we suffer the consequences when things go awry. Note that, just as Ponzi scheme perpetrators may begin as regular businesspersons before committing fraud, there is no need in the case of Covid-19 to invoke conspiratorial hypotheses. Many politicians who promoted and thereby helped to realize the 2003 invasion of Iraq may have been convinced that Saddam Hussein posed a grave danger to the world. Similarly, there may not have been a conscious intention on the part of anyone to let loose the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus on the world. After all, it’s not as though incompetence among government bureaucrats is a rarity.

Whether accidentally or intentionally caused, disasters invariably pave the way for massive power grabs on the part of select persons advantageously situated. Once Iraq had been invaded, this served as the pretext for sacrificing even more blood and treasure as the quagmire intensified and spread to other countries. When the Covid-19 virus arrived on the scene, it became the pretext for a massive and abrupt transfer of wealth. Not only did much of the commerce of small businesses crushed by lockdowns migrate to companies such as Amazon and Walmart, but billions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into pharmaceutical firms.

The multi-trillion dollar Covid-19 aid packages included provisions for research and development, testing, and hospitals. But the most lucrative venture in all of this frenzy has been a vaccine program with universal aspirations. The U.S. government funded the development of the Covid-19 vaccines, and now that they exist, President Biden has purchased 500 million more doses of the Pfizer product to donate to other countries. The global propaganda campaign to vaccinate everyone everywhere with elixirs touted initially by their developers as having up to 95% efficacy, too, has been paid for by governments. It was unclear from the initial press releases about the spectacular new vaccines what efficacy actually meant, as there was a fair amount of equivocation regarding whether the treatments would confer immunity and prevent transmission of the disease or simply lessen the severity of symptoms. After millions of persons had already been vaccinated, it emerged that the reports of 95% efficacy were at best misleading and at worst fraudulent, for the reported percentages were relative risk reduction (RRR) rates, which reflect outcomes only for the small proportion of the population vulnerable to the disease. When the rates are calculated for the general population, the vast majority of whom are not vulnerable to Covid-19, it turns out (as those who declined the vaccine had already surmised on the basis of the survival statistics), that the absolute risk reduction (ARR) rates of the Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are quite low, to be precise: 0.84%, 1.2%, 1.3%, and 1.2%, respectively. Nonetheless, aggressive campaigns to require vaccine passports of citizens as a condition on their resumption of normal life are everywhere on display.

A clue that the well-being of patients is not at the forefront of the minds of those running the “vaccine everyone” campaign has been the encouragement of pregnant women and children to undergo vaccination, though neither group is at serious risk from the virus and neither group was included in the trials used to secure emergency authorization. Even more remarkably, against all established science on immunology, the idea that persons who have already recovered from the disease must also “get the jab” has been aggressively promoted all around the globe. Judging by the media coverage, the reason for insisting that persons who were already infected with and have recovered from Covid-19 must also be vaccinated is supposed to be that people can become reinfected with the virus. That line of reasoning, however, is refuted by the statistics for reinfection. As of June 2021, out of nearly 180 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, there were 148 confirmed cases of reinfection. Studies recently published in Nature and by the Cleveland Clinic conclude that vaccination offers no benefit to previously infected persons.

In the build up to every new war, many people who do not stand to benefit from the intervention and may even be harmed by it often succumb to the propaganda and enthusiastically take up the cause. In the current crisis, the false dichotomization into two exhaustive and mutually exclusive categories, the enlightened science lovers and the anti-vaxxers, is also a part of a propaganda campaign. The persons who have declined vaccination, either because they already survived Covid-19, or because they prefer to wait for longterm safety data and do not believe that the possible benefits outweigh the unknown risks, are dismissed as crackpots, when in fact they are simply being prudent. Yet the media persists in propagating a misleading depiction of vaccine hesitancy in this specific case as proof of hostility toward science. This sort of polarization of the populace is, needless to say, on display during wartime as well, when anyone who dares to oppose a military intervention is depicted as a supporter of a tyrant abroad or an irrational pacifist or, when all else fails, a simple traitor.

It would be incredibly naïve to fall prey to the idea that pharmaceutical executives are somehow philanthropic, for they command enormous salaries for maximizing their stockholders’ profits. In 2020, Pfizer CEO Anthony Bourla enjoyed a 17% increase in compensation, to $21 million, while Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, became a billionaire. The pharmaceutical industry and the military industry, despite comprising publicly traded companies, are prime examples of “crony capitalism”, benefiting as they do from large infusions of cash from the government, which is allocated by bureaucrats many of whom have career and other financial interests at stake. Moreover, the funding links between the military and the public health and pharmaceutical sectors form a tangled web. Not only did the Department of Defense receive a chunk of the Covid-19 rescue packages, but gain-of-function research has been paid for by military institutions. Indeed, much of the funding provided to Peter Daszak for redistribution by EcoHealth Alliance derived from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Both the for-profit military and for-profit pharmaceutical industry now use the mainstream media as a propaganda outlet to further the interests of their shareholders. Even the independent media have been infiltrated by pro-military and pro-pharma voices, which is why falsehoods such as “Saddam is in cahoots with Bin Laden and has WMDs!” and “Lockdowns save lives!” are able to gain such traction among the populace. That liberty-restricting policies should be lifted only on the condition of vaccination requires people to believe that the mediation policies were both necessary and effective. But in the United States, the differences in outcomes in various states do not appear to depend on the timing or extent of lockdowns. Nonetheless, just as the mass surveillance and collection of people’s private data was accepted by many as a necessary part of the War on Terror, many persons with no financial interests at stake now rally on behalf of Big Pharma for universal vaccination.

The global propaganda campaign to require people to show health papers or a “vaccine passport” in order to participate in human society—to travel, dine out, shop or even gather together in groups—reveals that the mistakes made by a few actors are being seized upon to exert more and more control over the population. The mass surveillance of Americans was accepted by many as necessary, given the potential dangers of factional terrorism, and now, having spent more than a year whipped up by the media into a paralyzing state of fear for a virus which kills less than 1% of the persons it infects, many citizens appear willing to accept what influential globalists have been insisting must be “the new normal”. This is a grave mistake.

It is too early to know how this unprecedented chapter in human history will end, but the trends are not encouraging. With countries continuing their serial lockdowns, travel restrictions, masking, testing, and quarantine requirements, they deepen the divisions already on display making it seem more likely that some form of apartheid state with totalitarian qualities will emerge. Does any government have the right to force its citizens to undergo a medical treatment for which, according to all available statistical data, they have no need? Why are universities requiring vaccination as a condition of enrollment and employment? Why are more doctors not rising up to challenge the aggressive push to vaccinate everyone everywhere with an experimental treatment? There is no medical basis whatsoever for requiring previously infected persons to undergo vaccination, which has never been demanded in the case of any other disease.

What is at stake is not merely inconvenience, and the solution is not, as some liberty lovers have suggested (if only facetiously), to acquire a forged vaccine passport. We should reject in the most categorical of terms the very idea that anyone anywhere should be required to prove his health status to anyone else and that anyone anywhere should be compelled to undergo a medical treatment against his own will—whatever his reasons may be. One’s medical choices affect one’s health, well-being and body, which no government can be said to own. To relinquish one’s right to one’s own body is to render oneself the property of a tyrannical state. If citizens permit the government to strip them of their right to make decisions about how to lead their very own lives, then they will have been fleeced far worse than the victims of the most mercenary Ponzi scheme, having paid with their freedom for their future enslavement.

News Roundup

News Roundup 7/23/21

US News Texas and Florida are taking steps to use the states’ anti-BDS laws to divest from Ben and Jerry’s parent company and prevent contracting with the ice cream maker. [Link] The Senate Armed Services Committee added $25 billion to Biden’s proposed military...

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Forever Soldiers To Fight Forever Wars

The U.S. military says it is months away from launching clinical trials of a pill designed to block or reduce many degenerative effects of aging—an oral treatment that a leading researcher in the field says is better than nothing while questioning how effective it...

The Scott Horton Show

7/16/21 Branko Marcetic on the Julian Assange Media Blackout

Branko Marcetic discusses the stunning lack of mainstream media coverage of Julian Assange's case. Besides being the right thing to do, since Assange has heroically helped expose heinous crimes by many of the world's governments, journalists also have a selfish reason...

7/9/21 Jim Bovard on Biden’s Buffoonish War on Extremism

Jim Bovard discusses the recent rumblings about "domestic extremism," which the Biden administration and many Democrats have been warning is a rising problem in America. So far, Biden has only issued executive orders about so-called extremism, but some politicians are...

Free Man Beyond the Wall

Conflicts of Interest

COI #135: Hawks in Dove Feathers

On COI #135, Connor Freeman – writer at the Libertarian Institute – returns to the show to discuss how the popular ‘Breaking Points’ podcast sells war under the guise of populism and nonintervention. Connor reviews the career of host Saagar Enjeti, who spent time in...

COI #134: Biden’s War on Journalists

On COI #134, Kyle and Will give updates on the political situation in Haiti, where President Jovenel Moise was assassinated by a group of gunmen last week. The assassin team involved more than two dozen Colombians and two Haitian-Americans, and were reportedly...

Don't Tread on Anyone

10 Proven Conspiracies. Stacie4Truth & Keith Knight

LBRY / Odysee: https://odysee.com/@KeithKnightDontTreadOnAnyone:b/Stacie4Truth-Knight:3 Seth Rich Isabella Gardner Museum Theft Shawn Lucas Elie Cohen Bioweapons & Weather Control / Geoengineering NSSM 200 MKULTRA Operation Mockingbird Democracy Gold Confiscation...

Liberty Weekly Podcast

Top 10 PROVEN Conspiracies ft. Keith Knight Ep. 172

https://youtu.be/xjbbDI_70eQ Keith Knight joins me for this INSTANT CLASSIC episode of the Liberty Weekly Podcast. Keith and each picked and researched five proven conspiracies to share on air. Please review the show notes page for sources. Episode 172 of the Liberty...

Back Door to China Ft. James Corbett Ep. 170

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obIXmwX5_-I Were US banking interest behind China's precipitous rise to world power? What is China's place in the New World Order? What is driving the "destined for war" narrative between the West and China? Are the Chinese committing...

LIVE from Chillderburg III Ep. 169

Alright, so here are my live audio recordings from Chillderburg III! The experience was incredible and I was so glad to meet so many people I have known online only for so long. Please give your love to the guests I had on the show. Also, I hope the listeners can get...

Year Zero

The Death Of Men w/Coop, Matt Erickson, and Ace

I invited Matt Erickson, Coop, and Ace on the show to have a roundtable discussion on the plight of young men in modern times. We get into metaphysics, rights of passage, porn, and more. I'm certain you'll love this episode. Matt Erickson Twitter King Pilled Ace...

Responsibility w/James Jenneman

James of The Black Bird Podcast joined me to discuss what responsibility is. We talk about being a father, spirituality, truck driving, and much more. You're sure to enjoy this one. James Twitter The Black Bird 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy Course Critical Thinking Course...

Bomb Sniffing Dogs w/Bird

Bird joined Bea and I on our show I Done Told You. We talk about airport employees, bomb sniffing dogs, and NYC. If you want more I Done Told You become a patron. Bird Twitter Timeline Earth 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy Course Critical Thinking Course Donate Patreon...

Don’t Tell Pete w/Stacy 4 Truth

Stacy joined me to discuss things we shouldn't tell Pete. Stacy4Truth Twitter Stacy4Truth Odyse 19 Skills Pdf Autonomy Course Critical Thinking Course Donate Patreon RyanBunting.com

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