In Ukraine, Biden Reaps What He Sowed

In Ukraine, Biden Reaps What He Sowed

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell is given credit for popularizing the “Pottery Barn” rule of foreign policy. Though he denies using that exact phrase, in arguing against what became the disastrous 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq Powell made the point that, as in Pottery Barn, “if you break it, you own it.”

Bush and his neocons—ironically with the help of Colin Powell himself—did indeed break Iraq and the American people as a result “owned” Iraq for the subsequent 22 years (and counting). It was an idiotic war and, as the late former NSA chief Gen. Bill Odom predicted, turned out to be “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.”

Attacking and destroying Iraq—and executing its leader—not only had no value in any conceivable manner to the United States, it had negative value. In taking responsibility for Iraq’s future, the U.S. government obligated the American people to pick up the tab for a million ransacked Pottery Barns.

There was no way out. Only constant maneuvering and manipulation to desperately demonstrate the impossible—that the move had any value or even made any sense.

So it is with Ukraine. In 2014 the Obama/Biden Administration managed to finish what Bush’s neocons started a decade before. With the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Ukrainian government that year, the U.S. came to “own” what no one in their right mind would ever seek: an economic basket case of a country with a political/business class whose corruption is the stuff of legend.

Rather than admit what a colossal blunder the whole thing had been, the U.S. foreign policy establishment doubled down.

“Oh, this might be a neat tool to overthrow our own election: let’s pretend Trump is Putin’s agent!”

In fact Trump was impeached because a certain Col. Alexander Vindman—himself of Ukrainian origin and doing the bidding of a Ukrainian government installed by Washington—solemnly testified to Adam Schiff and his Democrat colleagues in charge of the House that Trump was clearly Putin’s puppet because his lack of enthusiasm for continuing to “own” Ukraine went against “the Inter-Agency Consensus.”

We “own” Ukraine and there is no way back—at least if the U.S. foreign policy establishment has its way.

That is why our hapless State Department today continues to peddle the fiction that Russia is about to invade – and thus “own”—Ukraine. U.S. foreign policy is one of projection: accuse your rivals of doing what you yourself are doing. No sane country would want to “own” Ukraine. Except the Beltway Think Tank class, thoroughly infused with military-industrial complex money.

That is why the U.S. government, though its Embassy in Kiev, is bragging about the arrival of $200 million in lethal aid, all pointed directly at Russia.

That is why the U.S. State Department is maintaining the fiction that Russia is about to launch a ground war to occupy Ukraine by dramatically announcing an “evacuation” of all “non-essential personnel” from its Embassy in Kiev.

It’s just too bad that we don’t share the opinion of who are really “non-essential” State Department personnel in Kiev: the last person out could be asked to turn off the lights.

By overthrowing an elected government in Kiev in 2014, the U.S. government disenfranchised millions of voters in eastern Ukraine who voted for the overthrown president. Those voters unsurprisingly came to view the U.S.-installed regime as illegitimate and sought self-rule under the concept of self-determination. As ethnic Russians, many of these successfully sought Russian passports.

Russia has been clear for a long time about Ukraine: it will not allow an armed invasion of eastern Ukraine that would result in the deaths of thousands of Russian citizens. Were the shoe on the other foot, the U.S.—and any country—could be expected to react the same way.

The U.S. is nearly the last country on earth that still holds to the WWII-era concept of war for territorial gain. Russia wants to “own” Ukraine like most people want to “own” a 2003 Saturn. That is why despite neocon/neo-liberal hype, magnified by the lock-step U.S. media, Russia is not about to invade Ukraine.

This fantasy is being pushed by those who desperately need to continue to gin up enthusiasm for a thoroughly idiotic and counterproductive imperial enterprise.

Biden while vice president sowed the regime change winds in Ukraine. Now his inept Administration will reap the whirlwind of that continuing train wreck and eventual dissolution of the country. No matter what Antony Blinken peddles to the contrary.

Even the comedian Zelensky knows this is a really bad joke.

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

News Roundup 1/25/2022

News Roundup 1/25/2022

US News

  • The Massachusetts Department of Health reports that about half of people hospitalized with covid have incidental covid infections. [Link]
  • The US donated 150,000 doses of the Pfizer covid vaccine to Kyrgyzstan through Covax. [Link]
  • Seven sailors were injured during a landing accident on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson. [Link]
  • The US deploys two aircraft carrier strike groups to the South China Sea, including the USS Vinson. [Link] 

Russia

  • Cyber Partisans – a ‘pro-democracy’ hacker group – claims to have carried out a ransomware attack on Belarus’ rail system to prevent the transportation of Russian weapons. [Link]
  • Ukrainian separatists warn the government is planning to invade the breakaway Donbas region. [Link]
  • Ukraine is unhappy with the US withdrawing staff from its Kyiv embassy. [Link]
  • The Department of Homeland Security warns Russia could launch a cyberattack. [Link]
  • Without providing details, NATO announced it was moving additional aircraft and warships to Eastern Europe. [Link]
  • The US places 8,500 troops on heightened preparedness to deploy. [Link]

Iran

  • Iran rules out any preconditions – including releasing American prisoners –  for returning to compliance with the JCPOA. The US recently suggested Iran would have to release American prisoners to return to the nuclear deal. [Link]
  • Iran says it is willing to engage in direct talks with the US. [Link]
  • The Deputy Iran Envoy, Richard Nephew, leaves the nuclear deal negotiation team. [Link]

Middle East

  • Airstrikes in Iraq killed ten militants, and three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. [Link]
  • The US carried out airstrikes on a prison in northeastern Syria. The prison is run by the US-backed SDF but was taken over by IS. Fighting for control of the prison continues. [Link]
  • CENTCOM reports it used Patriot missile interceptors to defend the UAE. [Link]
  • The UAE-backed Giants Brigades say they have halted their offensive in Marib. [Link]

Africa

  • Mali calls on Denmark to withdraw its special forces. [Link]
  • Burkina Faso soldiers claim they have captured the country’s president. [Link]
  • Three protesters were killed by security forces in Sudan. [Link]
Cold War Served Hot

Cold War Served Hot

The hawks are openly discussing killing Russians again. The last time this happened Donald Trump was running for President against a largely despised, pantsuit sporting war criminal. Confronted with these two alternatives, assuming he was the lesser of two evils, the American people elected the wild card Trump. Although, by early 2018, the Donald was bombing Russian mercenaries in Syria and Americans hardly blinked an eye.

Almost four years later, the Biden administration, members of the Senate in both parties, the CIA, NATO’s Secretary General, at least two former NATO supreme allied commanders, and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense are now, in various ways, advocating that Washington begin killing Russians.

Senate Democrats—led by Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the jingoist chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—introduced a bill that contains measures which if implemented would virtually commence total economic war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The bill would further impose sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and increase military aid to Ukraine by a whopping $500 million. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act has already authorized $300 million in military aid to Kiev.

The Democrats’ military-industrial complex wish list includes “anti-armor weapon systems, mortars, crew-served weapons and ammunition, grenade launchers and ammunition, anti-tank weapons systems, anti-ship weapons systems, anti-aircraft weapons systems, and small arms and ammunition.”

The bill states that these policies can be triggered if President Joe Biden simply determines Moscow is “knowingly supporting” a “significant escalation” in “hostile action in or against Ukraine prior to December 1, 2021.”

Lacking evidence, the corporate press has already put out a story about the Russians planning a false flag to manufacture a justification to invade Ukraine, the claims have been repeated by the White House and the Pentagon. This is practically an invitation to anti-Russian forces and covert operators, including those backed by the U.S., to attack or start trouble that can be deemed “Russian aggression” and lead to war.

On Fox News, Republican Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) boasted about potential “military action” such as putting U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine and always keeping “first use nuclear action” on the table. Additionally, he proposes having ships “stand off” in the Black Sea to “rain destruction on Russian military capability.”

With talks ongoing between the U.S. and Russia at the highest levels, there are reasons for both sides to deescalate and make concessions. There is reportedly an opportunity to restore the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, limit the scope of NATO as well as Russian military drills in Europe, limit the NATO troop presence on Russia’s borders, and prevent accidents occurring in the air and sea.

The Russians withdrew at least 10,000 troops away from the border with Ukraine. Moscow arrested and seized the assets of supposed members of a Russian ransomware group accused of being behind the Colonial pipeline hack. In a phone call with Putin, Biden quietly promised not to place offensive strike weapons in Ukraine. Biden also recently suggested that if Putin undertakes a small invasion, the U.S. might not react. The latter was framed, by the right, as the worst kind of weakness and appeasement.

Reflecting D.C. politics’ pro war bias, the White House immediately walked back the President’s statement. The Commander in Chief’s handlers clarified, “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”

Alongside some fellow GOP senators from the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, Wicker recently insisted that it’s time, with enhanced U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine, to ensure “Vladimir Putin will get a bloody nose.

Multi-millionaire Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), was recently part of a delegation, including Wicker, visiting Kiev. Blumenthal pledged the U.S. would “impose crippling economic sanctions, but more importantly, we will give the people of Ukraine the arms, lethal arms they need to defend their lives and livelihoods.”

GOP war hawks in the Senate want to send more anti-tanks missiles to Kiev. As Fox News reported, the “United Kingdom delivered short-range anti-tank missiles to Ukraine Tuesday—a move GOP lawmakers applauded and called on the Biden administration to increasingly emulate.”

Since 2014, the U.S. has supplied the Ukrainians with over $2.5 billion in military aid. American Special Forces have been training Kiev’s forces in the country for several years now and there are U.S. National Guard troops in Ukraine as well.

Reportedly, at a secret base in the southern U.S., the CIA is training Ukrainian paramilitaries to “kill Russians” and—in the event of Putin’s allegedly imminent invasion—even launch an “insurgency.”

According to a de facto Langley press release in the form of a Yahoo News report, the spooks have not only been overseeing this training program under our noses but also deployed ground unit advisors to Ukraine.

Since the Obama administration’s final years, the CIA has sent paramilitary elements to the Donbas region’s front where Kiev has been at war with Russian-backed separatists. This U.S.-supported war against Ukraine’s restive eastern provinces has seen neo Nazi militias, as well as the Islamic State’s “brothers,” unleash brutal violence against Kiev’s enemies. The neo-Nazis have proven quite useful to American-backed government in Ukraine. They were instrumental during America’s 2014 street putsch coup in Kiev. Some Nazi groups have since been incorporated into their National Guard.

The American people should now realize the foreign policy establishment and the Biden administration are warning Moscow that if they go through with their supposed plans to invade Ukraine, which Russia has denied all along, the killing of Russian forces will begin. One former supreme allied commander of NATO could hardly contain his blood lust.

As reported in the New York Times,

“If Putin invades Ukraine with a major military force, U.S. and NATO military assistance—intelligence, cyber, anti-armor and anti-air weapons, offensive naval missiles—would ratchet up significantly,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who was the supreme allied commander at NATO. “And if it turned into a Ukrainian insurgency, Putin should realize that after fighting insurgencies ourselves for two decades, we know how to arm, train and energize them.”

He pointed to American support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion there in the late 1970s and 1980s, before the rise of the Taliban. “The level of military support” for a Ukrainian insurgence, Admiral Stavridis said, “would make our efforts in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union look puny by comparison.”

Both Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned their Russian counterparts in recent telephone calls that any swift Russian victory in Ukraine would probably be followed by a bloody insurgency similar to the one that drove the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. In discussions with allies, senior Biden officials have also made clear that the C.I.A. (covertly) and the Pentagon (overtly) would both seek to help any Ukrainian insurgency.

For a point of reference, it is estimated that at a million people were killed during “Operation Cyclone,” the CIA’s dirty war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Keeping with the Cyclone theme, Wesley Clark, former General and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, recently signed a letter encouraging the U.S. to arm Kiev with stinger missiles.

Reportedly, the U.S. has just green lit the NATO Baltic states’ transfer of weapons to Ukraine, including stinger anti-aircraft missiles. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Kiev, the U.S. announced another $200 million in military aid to Ukraine.

On the eve of the recent U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia of “severe costs.” He told the Financial Times that if negotiations failed, NATO was prepared for “a new armed conflict in Europe.” Russia sent security proposals to Washington that precipitated bilateral talks with the U.S. and multilateral talks with NATO as well. The proposals include, perhaps most prominently, a demand that NATO officially rescind its promises of future alliance membership received by both Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 Bucharest summit. Before the ink dries, brining either country into NATO would start a war that could end in planetary devastation and nuclear winter. NATO and the Americans flatly rejected the request.

Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia in the Obama administration, said in an interview that this time “the gloves should come off.” She warns of a time when “must use our military to roll back Russians—even at risk of direct combat.”

Such spokespeople for the merchants of death always claim to hold the moral high ground. But when reporters at Newsweek asked Farkas about the Nazi problem in Kiev’s security forces her response was shocking. “They have right now existential issues to deal with, and the far-right groups are helping defend Ukraine,” she explained. “So at this moment in time, the Ukrainian government needs all the help it can get from its citizens, regardless of their ideology.”

Farkas ominously declares the U.S. ”must not only condemn Russia’s illegal occupations of Ukraine and Georgia, but we must demand a withdrawal from both countries by a certain date and organize coalition forces willing to take action to enforce it.”

With this kind of rhetoric, Farkas will surely be there on the front lines, sword in hand, with a Braveheart speech prepared to rally the “coalition forces.”

This unhinged agitation for war is very much in the spirit of ultra-hawk Dick Cheney who as Vice President, during the brief August 2008 war in Georgia, wished to drop bombs on Russians.

Then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili indisputably provoked that conflict by attacking Russian peacekeepers protecting the autonomy of the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Russian forces were there because of a European Union brokered deal.

As Scott Horton, Director of the Libertarian Institute, has explained, Saakashvili was “incentivized” by “vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring.”

Andrew Cockburn elaborates, “[Saakashvili’s] confidence may have been buoyed by back-channel assurances from minions of Vice-President Richard Cheney that the U.S. would in the end come to his aid.”

It was only a few months earlier that NATO promised Tbilisi and Kiev their future alliance membership.

The Americans also installed Saakashvili in power during the 2003 “Rose Revolution” and had provided Georgia with military aid for years.

Saakashvili was keenly aware of how U.S.-styled democracy works. As Cockburn has written,

To bolster his standing in the American capital, Saakashvili hired Randy Scheunemann, a Republican lobbyist and the executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neocon group formed in 2002 under the chairmanship of none other than Bruce Jackson, a senior Lockheed executive and president of the Committee to Expand NATO.

Scheunemann was a “close advisor” to the mega hawk Republican Senator John McCain who supported the Ukraine coup as well as inducting Tbilisi and Kiev into NATO. Then-presidential candidate McCain announced he told Saakashvili—after he had already started the war in 2008—“…today, we are all Georgians.”

The authors of the recently published, and previously mentioned, New York Times article describe this “conversation” as having “revived the specter of a new Cold War and suddenly made real the prospect of the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict.”

But after the Red flag came down, the American sore winners’ economic “shock therapy” devastated Russia, lowered the life expectancy of the population by double digits, allowed gangsters and oligarchs to loot entire industries and liquidate everything. As Horton has said, “…it was an economic war against Russia. Larry Summers and the Harvard Boys, what they did was as bad as dropping a couple of nukes on them.”

Despite repeated Western promises to the precise contrary, NATO’s eastward expansion has been ongoing since the 1990s and the anachronistic time bomb itself has nearly doubled in size. The U.S. has launched a plethora of color-coded revolutions in Russia’s near abroad including overthrowing the Kiev government twice in ten years, installing a Nazi infested regime on Russia’s very border, and keeping the door open to its full NATO membership. NATO has been constantly deploying warships and bombers to the Black Sea. The warships are often participating in massive military war games. The U.S. has ships in the Baltic Sea carrying medium range missiles. Of course, myriad sanctions have been levied against Moscow. Critical arms treaties such as Open Skies, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the INF Treaty have been unilaterally killed by successive GOP presidents. In Poland and Romania, the U.S. has so-called anti-ballistic missile sites with MK-41 launchers able to fit hydrogen bomb-tipped Tomahawks. The two previous presidents created a severe crisis by conducting massive expulsions of Russian diplomats and the neocons’ vast political and media influence has criminalized any notion of détente. The very concept may as well be treasonous.

Maybe what flies most flagrantly in the face of the claim that we are witnessing the “the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict” is the 2018 National Security Strategy which plainly states the War Department’s policy is “great power competition” or put differently, conflict, with Moscow and Beijing.

To illustrate, the U.S. just held massive military exercises with Japan and an American aircraft carrier strike group just drilled for war in the South China Sea. Last year, Biden sailed air craft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea ten times, nearly doubling Trump’s 2020 numbers. In 2021, American warplanes and spy planes flew more than 2,000 sorties around China, including 94 in November, more than doubling Trump’s deployments during the previous year. These flights take place in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. U.S. warships sail through the Taiwan Strait nearly every month. And the U.S. continues to further nuclearize the so called the Indo Pacific region.

As CNN just reported,

One of the most powerful weapons in the US Navy’s arsenal made a rare port call in Guam…

The USS Nevada, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 Trident ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear warheads, pulled into the Navy base in the U.S. Pacific Island territory on Saturday. It’s the first visit of a ballistic missile submarine—sometimes called a “boomer”—to Guam since 2016 and only the second announced visit since the 1980s.

Since the end of the previous Cold War, Washington has rigidly adhered to a neoconservative ideology bent on world domination and endless wars. To this end, the U.S. maintains more than 800 military bases globally and has been morally and financially bankrupted. Across multiple continents, this century’s American mass murder campaigns have killed and displaced millions of people. In Iraq alone, more than a million people were killed. Yet the U.S. public has not held the ruling class war criminals to account, there has never been a reckoning.

Months after the withdrawal, Afghanistan’s children are deliberately being starved. Biden’s current policy, freezing billions of dollars in the Afghan government’s assets and maintaining sanctions on the Taliban, amounts to a macabre economic war. As with the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran, humanitarian exemptions mean nothing since few if any international banks, businesses, medical companies, or aid groups will risk the U.S. Treasury Department’s wrath. This lays bare 20 years of cynical humanitarian interventionist propaganda supporting a multi trillion dollar war which killed an estimated 241,000 people. Those same women and girls we used to hear so much about are being starved to death at the hands of the sore loser American hegemon.

In December, Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, reported,

In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, which is being exacerbated by U.S. economic pressure. Citing the UN’s World Food Program, The New York Times reported that about 22.8 million Afghans—more than half of the country’s population—are expected to face life-threatening hunger this winter, and 8.7 million Afghans are “nearing famine.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. wants to benefit the Afghan people without benefiting the Taliban. But whether the U.S. likes it or not, the Taliban is now the government of Afghanistan. And history shows that U.S. sanctions and economic pressure do little to change the targeted government and always hurt the civilian population.

Taliban leaders are still under U.S. and UN sanctions, which discourage international businesses and banks from doing business with the new Afghan government, something Psaki explained.

The U.S. military still occupies nearly a third of Syria. The CIA’s six-year dirty war—this time backing the al Qaeda led “insurgency”killed roughly half a million people. One of the more infamous byproducts of this policy was the Islamic State caliphate. The Pentagon controls Syria’s oil fields, Israel bombs the country nearly every week, and more than 60% of the population is close to starvation. About 80% of the country lives in poverty. Rebuilding the country will cost an estimated $250-400 billion. Blinken, America’s top diplomat, has asserted that the U.S. is absolutely committed “to oppose the reconstruction of Syria.” The American people have repeatedly expressed an opposition to this war, yet they remain criminally indifferent enough to permit its indefinite duration.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, continues to be terror bombed and blockaded in a genocidal war ceaselessly waged by the American Empire and its Gulf dictatorship satellites. The U.N. conservatively estimates 377,000 people, mostly children, have been killed in this almost seven-year war. Trump vetoed war powers resolutions to end the war, Biden said he would stop it and has not. Less than a year into Biden’s term, investigative reporter Alan Macleod after studying the Pentagon’s sales records wrote “the Biden administration has already approved 20 separate weapons contracts, worth just shy of $1.2 billion, to Saudi Arabia alone.”

By the Deep State’s self-fulfilling prophecy, Russia and China must remain our perpetual enemies. Designedly, the American people have readily accepted this premise. Our fellow citizens seem to either despise China or Russia. While you are free to take your pick, the most obedient citizens are hawkish on both the Russians and the Chinese.

Those covered in Yemeni, Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi, Somali, and Libyan blood are merely feigning concern for the democracy, human rights and sovereignty of Ukrainians and the Taiwanese. It helps them sell weapons, increase the Pentagon budget, and boost their own power. If the military, Washington, NATO, and the DC foreign policy Blob cared at all about national sovereignty and human rights, our troops would no longer occupy Iraq in defiance of the parliament’s two year old unanimous demands for a complete withdrawal. If those crocodile tears over the unproven claims of a Uighur “genocide” in Xingang province were rooted in any concern for the plight of Muslims, the globally notorious Israeli apartheid regime would not be America’s top military aid recipient. Those are American weapons and warplanes being used to bomb Palestinian civilians confined in the Gaza concentration camp.

With the American public evidently bored with brutalizing Muslim countries, though unfortunately not bored enough to stop, we seamlessly move on to the next enemies, the next build ups, the next wars. Trillions of dollars are continually diverted from peaceful and productive use and poured into what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern refers to as MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex). This money funds the consensus that Washington’s sphere of influence extends the world over. Moscow and Beijing’s red lines be damned. It is common now to hear discussion of an impending war with China over Taiwan. Likewise, agreeing not to bring Kiev into NATO is viewed as “appeasement.”

On Memorial Day 2021, the U.S. flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over all 30 NATO member states. This past Thanksgiving, the U.S. sailed a guided missile destroyer into the Black Sea. Just months into Biden’s presidency, throughout Eastern Europe including on Russia’s borders, the “dangerous dinosaur,” NATO held the largest military exercises since the previous Cold War era.

Americans will have to soon give up their favorite drugs of apathy, partisanship, and blissful ignorance. The fights and wars our ruling elite are now picking threaten to kill us too. Last November, the U.S. brazenly simulated a nuclear attack on Russia, flying strategic bombers less than 13 miles off its borders. Voting will not suffice, we must recognize this global hostage situation for what it is, and make difficult decisions about how to finally end the American Empire.

News Roundup 1/25/2022

News Roundup 1/24/2022

Covid

  • A federal judge in Texas blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees. [Link]
  • The US donates three million covid vaccines to four African countries through covax. [Link]
  • The US donates nearly two million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Egypt through Covax. [Link]

Haiti

  • The judge overseeing the investigation into the assassination of President Moise quits. [Link]

Russia

  • The Biden administration notified Congress of its plan to transfer Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivers 90 tonnes of weapons – from a December aid package – to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The Baltic States’ arms transfers to Ukraine include Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. [Link]
  • Fewer than one in six Americans support sending US troops to Ukraine to prevent a Russian invasion. [Link]
  • The US will allow non-essential staff at the embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. The US ordered the family of staff to leave the country. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Vienna. The US agreed to give Russia a written response to its security proposal. The two diplomats will meet again next week. [Link]
  • Blinken asked Russia to release two US citizens who were convicted of crimes in Russia and serving prison sentences. [Link]
  • Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia will send political advisers to Paris for talks this week. [Link]
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined an invitation to speak with Biden about the Ukraine crisis. [Link]
  • The UK says Russia is planning to install a new government in Ukraine. [Link]
  • Blinken rejects calls to sanction Russia now. He explained that sanctions cannot work as a deterrent if they are already in place. [Link]
  • Biden is considering applying the ‘foreign direct product rule’ – cutting off semiconductors and related technology – to Russia in response to an invasion of Ukraine. [Link]
  • Biden is considering plans to deploy between 1,000 and 5,000 troops to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. [Link]
  • Blinken says there are a number of areas for the US and Russia to work together. [Link]

China

  • Taiwan reports 39 Chinese military aircraft entered its Air Defense Identification Zone. [Link]

Afghanistan 

  • The Taliban will meet with officials from Western governments in Norway. [Link]
  • ISIS-K claims it is behind a bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least six. [Link]

Iran

  • Shipments of thinning agents from Iran have allowed Venezuela to double its oil exports over the past year. [Link]
  • US and European officials warn time is running out in Iran nuclear talks. [Link]
  • Iran and Russia are in talks to upgrade Iran’s nuclear power plant. [Link]
  • The US Envoy to Iran Robert Malley says it is unlikely the US will return to the nuclear deal if Iran continues to hold four American prisoners. [Link]

Yemen

  • Saudi Arabia bombed a Houthi-run prison in Yemen, killing at least 80 people. [Link]
  • Shards from an American-made bomb were found at the prison. [Link]
  • The US claims it intercepted a ship transporting Urea-based fertilizer in the Gulf of Oman. The US alleges it was headed to the Houthi in Yemen. [Link]

Middle East

  • Israel’s cabinet voted to launch an investigation into the “submarine affair” that could implicate former prime minister Netanyahu. [Link]
  • The UAE bans civilians from using drones. [Link]
  • The UAE says it intercepted two ballistic missiles. [Link]
  • Eleven Iraqi soldiers were killed in an IS attack. [Link]
  • Nearly 200 people have been killed in three days of fighting between the US-backed SDF and IS for control over a prison in Syria. [Link]

Africa

  • A top Ethiopian military official says his army will attempt to eliminate the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. [Link]
  • Aid groups warn the people of Mali will pay the price for the sanctions recently imposed on the country. [Link]
  • A French soldier was killed in Mali. [Link]
  • Reports from Burkina Faso say several soldiers have mutinied against the government and a possible coup is underway. [Link]
Debunking The War on Terrorism Narrative – ‘Enough Already’ Book Review

Debunking The War on Terrorism Narrative – ‘Enough Already’ Book Review

… interventionism is not only immoral and aggressive; it doesn’t work. We must regain liberty at home, end all interventions in other countries, and return to the historic, forgotten “foreign policy” of serving as an example and a beacon-light of liberty to the rest of the suffering and strife-torn world.

 

Murray N. Rothbard, Ph.D., Libertarian Forum v. 1, p. 582

Buy Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism here

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From GITMO to the ‘Killing Machine’

From GITMO to the ‘Killing Machine’

Twenty years ago, on January 11, 2002, the prison at Guantánamo Bay (GITMO) admitted its first round of post-9/11 terrorist suspects. Two recent films, The Mauritanian (2021) and The Forever Prisoner (2021), chart parts of the ugly history of the facility, during which acts of torture were rebranded by officials as “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EIT) and inflicted on at least 119 of the 780 men held at GITMO over the course of the Global War on Terror. The story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was cleared for release in 2010 but remained incarcerated for another seven years as the Obama administration appealed the decision, is relayed in director Kevin Macdonald’s film The Mauritanian. The story of Abu Zubaydah, who remains incarcerated still today, is covered by Alex Gibney’s film The Forever Prisoner.

Many other men were abused in prisons such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram in Afghanistan, in addition to an array of “black sites” erected around the world in collaboration with “torture-friendly” governments. The CIA’s EIT program was commissioned and approved at the highest levels of the U.S. government, and deemed legal by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo. The practices included waterboarding (which mimics drowning), slamming detainees’ heads against the wall, rectal feeding, confining naked suspects in small boxes along with insects, depriving them of sleep for days on end, and forcing them to endure extremely cold temperatures while naked. Some of the victimized men died, and while a number of deaths were characterized by the powers that be as suicides, at least one prisoner was acknowledged to have died of hypothermia as a direct result of the conditions he was forced to endure.

The nightmarish series of abuses to which these men were subjected were claimed by the architects and orchestrators of the EIT program to be supported by “the science” and sure to save American lives. At least twenty-six of the victims of torture held in GITMO were later determined to have been captured in error in what were most charitably interpreted as overzealous efforts to thwart the next terrorist attack. Bounty hunter greed and/or penury appears also to have played a significant role in the erroneous capture of thousands of innocent men throughout the War on Terror.

A thorough investigation of classified CIA documents eventually culminated in the 2014 release of the “Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” This 712-page document, which has come to be referred to colloquially as “The Torture Report,” includes a 500+ page executive summary of the thousands of pages of the original report instigated by committee chair Senator Diane Feinstein and prepared over a period of several years by her staffer Daniel Jones, among others. The investigation was undertaken in response to the revelation that the CIA had destroyed films of some of the detainees being victimized. The story of how The Torture Report was commissioned and eventually released is relayed in the 2019 film The Report (directed by Scott Z. Burns), which offers shocking insights into the lengths to which the CIA—including the director at the time of the report’s release, John Brennan—were willing to go in order to absolve themselves from allegations of wrongdoing.

Faced with the findings of the report, some of those involved, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA Deputy Director for Operations José Rodriguez, continued to deny that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were morally repugnant forms of torture. Others employed by the U.S. government during that period, including John Brennan, claimed that they had expressed moral reservations about the program, although there is no written evidence to that effect, and the director of the CIA at the time, George Tenet, has publicly denied that he was ever approached with such objections. The EIT program proved in any case to be tactically nugatory, at best.

According to the report’s authors, none of the ghastly procedures deployed resulted in actionable intelligence used to thwart terrorist attacks. Some of the men were entirely innocent and so obviously had no information to share; others told interrogators only information which had already been obtained from other sources or which had already gone stale; and some of the men simply made up stories so as to call a halt to the torture. Most notoriously, the false claim that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al Qaeda was obtained through torture and used to rationalize the misbegotten 2003 war on Iraq.

In response to the Senate committee’s report, President Obama, to his credit, publicly admitted that “We tortured some folks,” and issued Executive Order 133491, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” The order references the Geneva Conventions and explicitly prohibits the barbaric activities perpetrated by U.S. government employees and contractors under the guise of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Notwithstanding Obama’s rhetorical efforts to restore the image of the United States as a beacon of human rights, the president never delivered on one of his primary campaign promises, to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. He also declined to prosecute any of the torturers. Obama did stop sending new prisoners to the facility, and some of the remaining prisoners were released and sent to other countries for processing and rehabilitation.

The primary obstacle to Obama’s closure of GITMO was claimed by his apologists to be the political opposition he encountered to the prospect of suspects’ standing trial in the United States, which was thought by some to risk the increased incidence of terrorist attacks in the homeland. Concerns were also raised that some of the prisoners may have been made more dangerous by the torture to which they were subjected. Indeed, it was thought by some that even men who were not previously connected to terrorist groups, having been captured and imprisoned on the basis of faulty intelligence, may have been radicalized by the dramatic proof of the evil nature of the U.S. empire which they themselves had personally witnessed.

The Guardian recently reported that some of the men removed from GITMO and relocated to other countries have been stuck in legal limbo for years, unable to return to normal life because they have not been cleared for release by the governments of those countries. Others have found themselves unemployable and therefore unable to reassimilate into civil society. But they are still alive, which cannot be said of the many suspects pegged during the eight years of Obama’s presidency and labeled “Enemy Killed in Action” (EKIA) after having been dispatched by missiles launched from drones on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence of possible future complicity in possible future terror plots. We have Daniel Hale, the drone program whistleblower now serving a federal prison sentence, to thank for sharing documents revealing that suspects were effectively defined by the Obama administration as guilty until proven innocent before being summarily executed.

A number of politicians in addition to Obama, including the instigator of the Torture Report, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war (POW) in Vietnam, spoke out against torture, agreeing with Obama that “That’s not who we are.” In addition to straightforward moral concerns about abusing human beings, some politicians and military officers aired concerns that such practices could also endanger U.S. troops, who when taken prisoner might be subjected to similarly cruel techniques.

Shockingly, however, some of the most vociferous denouncers of torture, including Senators Feinstein and McCain, continued enthusiastically to support the far more ghastly practice of summary execution without trial of suspects, often unnamed, on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence, even when the targets were neither bearing arms nor located in war zones. The Obama administration itself reported in 2016 that they had ended the lives of between 2,372 and 2,581 of such men “outside areas of active hostilities,” in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan (not the active war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria) where there were no uniformed U.S. soldiers on the ground to protect.

Having spoken out about the crimes committed by the Bush administration, Obama opted not to take as prisoners the suspects identified by his own administration using the very same forms of evidence which had served as the basis for capturing and imprisoning thousands of men during the first eight years of the War on Terror. It is therefore essential to observe here that 732 of the 780 men incarcerated at GITMO were eventually released without charges. Because the types of circumstantial evidence being used to peg suspects did not change under Obama, and continued to include intelligence obtained from bribed informants (human intelligence or HUMINT), and cellphone SIM card data and drone video footage (signals intelligence, or SIGINT), we have grounds for believing that many of the thousands of men executed rather than captured during Obama’s presidency, were, too, innocent.

President Obama had a choice to make in the light of the revelation that longterm detention and torture did not yield actionable intelligence. But rather than capture suspected militants and treat them humanely, detaining them in circumstances conducive to proper judicial processing, respecting their rights and acknowledging the very real possibility that they might in fact be innocent, his administration instead defined them as guilty until proven innocent and executed them using lethal drones.

Mentored by his drone-killing czar, John Brennan, Obama became known as the “drone warrior president,” who revved up a veritable “killing machine” to eliminate nearly all of the terror suspects identified as such during his eight-year term as president. Obama and Brennan (promoted to director of the CIA in 2013), opted to use lethal drones to execute suspects on hit lists generated by a vast network of government employees and private contractors who collected and analyzed HUMINT and SIGINT. These hit lists were reviewed by the president himself during what were termed “Terror Tuesday” meetings in which nominees for execution were evaluated on the basis of flash card presentations.

When the Obama administration located and executed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the president was praised by many U.S. citizens. Later that year, he proceeded to act on the political capital he had garnered to take the drone program to a qualitatively new level, executing even U.S. citizens without indictment or trial. He authorized the killing of not only Anwar al-Awlaki, a formerly moderate Muslim cleric arguably radicalized by the War on Terror itself, and Samir Khan, a propagandist, but also, two weeks later, al-Awlaki’s sixteen-year-old son, Abdulrahman, along with a group of his teenage friends.

Obama himself never deigned to explain why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a teenager not suspected by anyone of terrorism, was eliminated, but it seems unlikely to have been a “coincidental” targeting error. In fact, Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary at the time, offered the following garbled answer when asked about the U.S. government’s killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki:

I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.

The gravity of this normalization of summary execution of suspects and their associates (including family members) appears to have escaped altogether those who throughout the Trump presidency waxed nostalgically about the “good old days” when mild-mannered, anti-torture Obama was president. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump vowed not only not to close GITMO, but also that he would fill up the facility with “bad dudes.” In reality, once president, Trump simply followed Obama’s lead, putting his newly appointed defense secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis on a very long leash and essentially allowing the killing machine—not only the drone program but also special operations forces—to eliminate anyone anywhere suspected of connections to “bad dudes.” Trump, like Obama, killed one of the children of Anwar al-Awlaki. In Trump’s case the victim was an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, who was destroyed by U.S. special forces during a raid in Yemen, where both her father and her brother had been killed by drones.

Predictably enough, the norms governing state homicide were loosened yet again when President Trump, in his usual swagger-filled attempt to outdo his predecessor, openly vaunted his assassination of Qassim Soleimani, an Iranian general who was located in Iraq at the time. Before the War on Terror, assassination was widely regarded, even by U.S. officials, as illegal. President Bush may bear primary responsibility for the torture program, but we have President Obama to thank for having normalized the premeditated, intentional execution of persons believed by their killers to be dangerous, even when they are unarmed and located outside areas of active hostilities. This sleight of hand was accomplished through putting the CIA in charge of the drone program, ironically the very organization which had presided over the practices denounced in The Torture Report.

In the case of summary execution by drone of suspects, the CIA operated for years under its usual cloak of secrecy, allowing it to evade congressional oversight. As many critics of the drone program have observed (myself included), the decision to enlist the CIA to run the killing machine outside areas of active hostility was in all likelihood an effort to evade accusations of war crimes, to which the military itself would have been subject. In abject violation of the Geneva Conventions, the targets of drone strikes are not provided with the opportunity to surrender or lay down their arms, nor to defend themselves against allegations based on faulty intelligence. In other words, this slick rebranding of assassination as “targeted killing” also violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which suspects are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Instead, the “principle” governing the premeditated, intentional execution of specific persons at the caprice of the killers is tantamount to “Everything is permitted.”

Leaders rarely cede power unless forced to do so, and U.S. military leaders have long aimed to maximize both efficiency and lethality, so it should come as no surprise that President Joe Biden has taken up the drone-killing mantel to continue fecklessly on with the same policies vaunted by Obama as “smart war.” One horrifying example of the general laxity of standards in the use of lethal force by the U.S. government, regardless of who is in charge, was the incineration on August 29, 2021, of ten civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the basis of intelligence according to which people who drive white Toyota Corollas and move stuff around town might be planning to bomb the airport. A Pentagon investigation into the case concluded that no wrongdoing had been committed, as the perpetrators had abided by standard protocols and followed their rules of engagement. As a direct result of the manner in which the drone program has evolved through four presidencies, the impunity long enjoyed by the CIA for what once were plausibly deniable acts of lawless killing has in this way been transferred to the military as well.

Torture is inhumane, barbaric, and immoral. It harms the victims both physically and psychologically, and it degrades the perpetrators, who are corrupted by their atrocious treatment of fellow human beings. We should accordingly welcome films such as The Mauritanian, The Forever Prisoner, and The Report, which aim to illuminate some of the many crimes committed in our names and using our tax dollars. Let us not, however, be distracted by the heartfelt denunciations of torture by some government officials from the even more egregious practices which some of them continue to champion.

As objectionable as torture may be, its perpetrators can still be conceptualized as having chosen misguided means to the acquisition of what they believed would be actionable intelligence needed to thwart imminent terrorist attacks. In contrast, the summary execution of unarmed suspects located outside areas of active hostilities, and identified as such on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence, serves no tactical or strategic aim whatsoever. It is evil, pure and simple: the intentional, premeditated annihilation of human beings denied all human rights, from the right to surrender, to the right to defend themselves against false claims that they have committed crimes.

Substituting drone killing of suspects for longterm detention and torture may seem superficially less objectionable to the untutored populace, but as is so often the case, appearance diverges starkly from moral reality. Through linguistic neologism and rebranding, conjoined with the development of technologies which have made it possible to kill anyone anywhere, through the push of a button from thousands of miles away, the atrocious practice of torture has been supplanted by the intrinsically evil and tyrannical practice of summary execution without indictment or trial. Is this who we are?

News Roundup 1/25/2022

News Roundup 1/18/2022

Ukraine

  • A bipartisan group of seven Senators traveled to Ukraine. They met with President Zelenskyy and restated America’s support for Ukraine. [Link]
  • The UK will give Ukraine anti-tank weapons and deploy troops for training on the weapons. [Link]
  • Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko returned to Ukraine to face treason charges. [Link]
  • Germany calls for four-party talks – Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia – to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. [Link]

Russia

  • Russian forces are arriving in Belarus for war games. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea says it test-fired tactical guided missiles. [Link]

Israel

  • The US denies brokering an energy deal between Israel and Lebanon. [Link]
  • A Palestinian family was forcefully evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah. [Link]
  • A 75-year-old Palestinian activist who was hit by a tow truck, contracted by the Israeli police, dies from his injuries. [Link]

Yemen

  • A UAE oil facility was damaged by a drone attack, killing three. The Houthi claim responsibility for the attack. [Link]
  • Saudi bombs Yemen’s capital after the drone attack on the UAE, killing at least six. [Link]
  • The UAE is calling on the US to label the Houthis as a terror group. [Link]

Middle East

  • Iran says nuclear talks are being stalled by the US. [Link]
  • The Wall Street Journal reports Iran is seeking a legal promise from the US not to exit the nuclear deal once an agreement is made. [Link]
  • Two members of Iraq’s parliament had their offices targeted with explosives. [Link]

Africa

  • Libya’s eastern parliament calls the internationally recognized government illegitimate. Presidential elections scheduled for December were canceled. [Link]
  • The UN is pushing for Libya to hold elections in June. [Link]
  • Biden names Lucy Tamlyn to head the US Embassy in Sudan. [Link]
  • Medics say seven protesters were killed by security forces in Sudan. [Link]
COI #215: A Combat Vet on Biden’s First Year as Commander-in-Chief

COI #215: A Combat Vet on Biden’s First Year as Commander-in-Chief

On COI #215, Kyle Anzalone is joined by Henri Henrikson to discuss Biden’s first year as president. Kyle and Henri break down Biden’s continuation of the Iraq War, his economic war against Afghanistan which is creating a humanitarian disaster, as well as his failure to bring accountability for America’s air wars and the myriad civilian casualties. 

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News Roundup 1/25/2022

News Roundup 1/13/2022

Covid

  • Rhode Island will deploy 60 National Guardsmen to a psychiatric hospital due to staffing issues. [Link]
  • Oregon will deploy an additional 700 National Guardsmen to medical facilities, for a total of more than 1,200 soldiers. [Link]
  • Biden will deploy the 1,000 military personnel to hospitals in six states. [Link]

US News

  • Virginia Beach police used fake DNA reports to get people to confess to crimes. [Link]
  • Biden collected more in tariffs than Trump did. [Link]
  • The US approves the release of five Gitmo detainees. [Link]
  • US officials claim diplomats in Vienna and Paris came down with ‘Havana Syndrome.’ [Link]
  • Biden deports 10,000s Haitians. [Link]

Great Power

  • Russia met with US and NATO officials for over four hours. NATO proposed reopening diplomatic channels between the alliance and Russia. [Link]
  • While no progress was made at talks between the US/NATO and Russia, future talks are possible. [Link]
  • Germany calls on the US not to drag the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into the Ukraine conflict. [Link]
  • Estonia’s prime minister says the Baltic states are in talks with NATO for more troop deployments. [Link]
  • The US held a joint defense call with Japan and South Korea. [Link]
  • Japan has sailed near Chinese-controlled Islands in the South China Sea at least twice in the past ten months. [Link]

Korea

  • The US sanctions five North Koreans and one entity over the most recent missile test. [Link]
  • Biden is seeking more sanctions on North Korea issued by the UN Security Council. [Link]

Israel

  • Twenty-two Salvadorian journalists were targeted with the Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. [Link]
  • Last month, the Biden administration shelved its plan to reopen a diplomatic office for Palestinians in Jerusalem. [Link]
    Palestinians living in Israel and married to Israelis are unable to access the vaccine passport app. [Link]

Iran

  • The Biden administration says the fate of the Iran nuclear agreement will be decided in the coming weeks. The administration plans to blame Trump for the situation with Iran. [Link]
  • The eighth round of indirect talks continues between the US and Iran in Vienna. The remaining issues are a verification method to ensure sanctions are removed and a promise from the US it will not re-exit the nuclear deal. [Link]
  • US Cyber Command claims Iran is linked to a hacker group. [Link]

Middle East

  • Germany announces it will remove troops from Syria and extend the deployment of US troops in Iraq to October. [Link]
  • Syria officially joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative. [Link]
  • A group of US lawmakers sent a letter to Biden calling on him to prevent countries from normalizing ties with Syria. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia admits it presented Iraq War footage as evidence of Iran arming the Houthi. [Link]
  • The Giants Brigade was key in defeating Houthi fighters in Shabwah. [Link]

Africa

  • The US is backing French military operations in the Sahel with drone surveillance. [Link]
  • Mali claims a French military plan violated its airspace. [Link]
The Sapper in the Sewer

The Sapper in the Sewer

“The enemy was nowhere, but everywhere.”- Dan Rather, CBS News Report, Saigon, 1968

As the world approaches a period of unmanned systems, automation, and perhaps in many fields human obsolescence, warfare marches into its own future of certain uncertainty. Despite the great leaps in technology, warfare is very much the domain of the imperfect human. Perhaps in the not too distant future artificial intelligence will guide and “man” killing machines against one another and human beings. Engineers and geniuses will create and devise such killing machines to ensure that governments stay standing and expand their reach while always ensuring that there is profit from the techno-violence. But technologically inferior humans will resist and perhaps overcome as they always have.

The Vietnam War has been described as a “technowar,” a war of managers and planners who utilized their technological supremacy against a peasantry and second class enemy that resisted despite many short comings. For the planners and engineers, technology and complicated systems were the answer. Technology and superior ideas and methods are often the wisdom and hubris by which great powers wage wars. At times they will achieve victory, eradicating the enemy and absorbing them into their nation or empire. And when the great fail against the weak, a litany of reasons are sought but never are the will and resilience, determination and conviction of those defending ever properly appreciated until it is too late.

Twenty years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States military went home and in many ways the status quo returned to the region despite so much effort and loss. A horrible war by any measure. The objectives of the invaders, whether Soviet in the past or NATO in the more recent era, were never truly distinct. The basic goal was to prevent the capitulation of a proxy government, one that was never popular, after which Kabul still fell. Wars where wisdom and hubris existed alongside each other, and those on the ground who were observing from afar could see in the living minutes what was wrong, but the experts and planners persisted regardless, ever so confident and certain of victory, despite the uncertain aims. The powerful empires, Soviet and American, wrapped in the armor of resources and armed with immense weapon systems, failed under the incompetence of their own arrogance. And a determined human enemy won.

Whether in the jungles of South East Asia or the caves of Central Asia, the objective was often simple for the defender: eject the invader and reject the invader’s puppet government. What brought the insurgents to such a cause may at first have been deviant self-interest or religious idealism but for many it was a patriotism that the invaders in their own histories had experienced and romanced. The Soviets had once been those ejecting a powerful invader while the Americans were once proud insurgents. Greatness changed both their perspectives.

The well-armed invaders viewed the native populace as threats or the enemy. Whether walking through a village or observing via screens far away, the natives are unfamiliar. Regardless of how benevolent the invaders claim themselves to be, the natives are often considered as being inferior. For the locals, the strangers from afar may as well have come from another planet, alienated by ignorance of local customs and language while heavily relying upon superior technology and academic central plans of subjugation. Their perspectives would have been as different even if they were from off planet.

During the 1968 Tet Offensive, it is argued that the U.S. did not lose militarily, only politically. It was a coordinated offensive between insurgents and North Vietnamese military personnel attacking key targets of the U.S. and their allies. The impressive and expensive U.S. embassy in Saigon came under attack while a handful of insurgents managed to infiltrate and give the U.S. government a symbolic bloody nose. The flea had bitten the dog.

The Gardener and the Warrior

There is a samurai saying; “Better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in war.” And while this may be true for individuals, it ignores the importance of will and perspective. The gardener is not always just a gardener. When circumstances call upon them, whether through vengeance or a need to defend the home and garden, they become the warrior. Ones craft is defined by how they ply it. Most great warriors did not commence their lives with the ambition of being a war fighter and many who practice the martial trades in peacetime do not necessarily achieve victory in war. Most warriors by trade serve a master; this is their duty. Often duty requires them to venture into the gardens and face a man defending his everything, regardless of any peacetime trade and his tools at hand.

There is footage of a slender man, perhaps in his early twenties, almost naked being dragged from a sewer drain. His body is drenched in slime, he is armed with a pistol and perhaps a grenade or explosives. He had been crawling through the narrow sewage pipes of Saigon. With great discomfort and risk, he did this in the hopes of gaining entry into the government buildings during the 1968 Tet Offensive. One could never imagine that a man would be able to make the journey through such filthy pipes, and would risk his life and health while enduring such discomfort in the hope that he may plant explosives or shoot a government official. That’s determination.

The great planners with their war games, think tanks, and millions of dollars in research and technological marvels could seldom conceive that such a factor is important. It is not calculable, you can not duplicate it in training and among academic discussions it is not understood. That is the will to overcome, not just to survive but to kill the enemy, to outlast and destroy him. Such will is important. It cannot be trained. It needs to come from purpose and perspective. While the insurgent captured in the sewer tried to crawl his way to fight, some of his comrades had blown holes in the U.S. embassy’s walls and rushed into the compound, fighting to the death. They did not destroy the U.S. embassy, but they had bitten an empire.

The many governments of the world often invest time and resources into training police and military units that then become the elite. The elites that train hard are made up of individuals of great will and skills. They are those who are often depicted in fiction as being nearly superhuman, the men of the special forces. Unique humans are expected to perform with inhuman ability, to act as tools for their government.

The modern overreach of many governments has exhausted and over utilized these elite warriors, expecting them to perform missions that are almost impossible and then requiring them to do it again. In retirement some become celebrities while others may be lost to the strain and injury of their profession and experiences. These men who can usually perform great tasks are expected to be both mathematicians and elite athletes, operate complicated weapon systems while also performing paramedical acts under great stress. They are the warrior to the gardener.

Their enemy usually do not have such training, skills, or logistics. The government elites usually have regular military forces on standby, ready to back them up with aircraft and maritime vessels to extract them and provide support. Their enemies may at best have converted trucks and in the past bicycles and mules. It is uncertain how skilled that man in the sewer was. What had he done before the war? perhaps he was a gardener. As he crawled the sewer he had become a “combat sapper.” In that moment he was the machete inside the jungle of conflict, his utility was his simplified focus. His logistics was resilience and will. Though captured, his failure was in some ways a victory. As he was filmed and dragged into custody, his pathetic state of sewage slick nudity contrasted with the uniformed men of the government.

Inside a decade Saigon fell.

The Engineer

In a recent episode of a Dan Carlin hosted podcast titled “Engineering Victory with Elon,” Elon Musk discussed the importance of the engineer in warfare and how the engineer was often ignored by the historians. Musk made some interesting and relevant points. Engineers are crucial, and they are often downgraded after the fact, compared to the strategists and political leaders of war. Musk went on to make the case that technological supremacy is the key to victory and that the U.S. government could have won in Vietnam if it had of “wanted’ to.” Musk claimed that the U.S. government fought the war with the aim of preserving civilian life. Carlin politely mentioned the fact that the U.S. had destroyed nearly every building and village in North Korea during that war. But the issue was not pressed. Carlin did not mention the extensive civilian death count, not only in Vietnam but in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. Instead the conversation returned to the importance of technology and air supremacy.

The mindset that any great power could win any war if it really wanted to is one that is held by engineers like Musk and it is also the self-preserving declaration of the defeated imperialist. How does one win an insurgency? Wars between governments is one things but against the “people” it becomes a harder to define path to victory. If the goal is to kill every person in a region, to turn a nation into glass, then certainly the United States or any nuclear armed nation could do this. Is that victory though? And was that the aim and intention during the South East Asian war that the United States waged?

What were the actual goals in the wars on Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc? To kill so many people from that region that they would love the invader and assimilate? To kill those who opposed the presence of a foreign invader and anyone that fit the profile of such a defender? And then what? To turn the survivors into allies and proxies who must obey the ultimate aims of the invader? In that case then mass destruction and death is the antithesis to such aims. But to an engineer the problem is simple: to kill. To make weapons that kill as efficiently as possible. But to conquer and win an invader requires a degree of humanity and interactions with the population. There is more to it than lonely fortresses, checkpoints, and “firing lasers from space.”

If one can not define the war itself, it is hard to define who the enemy actually is. For the men and women driven by hatred, revenge, fear, ideology, faith, patriotism and even love, the aim is seemingly simple. They will endure so much just so that they can kill. To kill the invader becomes survival itself. By the end of the century drones and robots will likely dominate the future battlefield and their utility as a police and anti-insurgency weapon will be paramount. Those rejecting such control by an invader will fight with the ancient will that has stretched across all of human history. They will find a way, not through anticipation or academic conjuring, but in the moment, after gaining experience and loss.

For those who talk about war from afar, it is academic problem to be fixed by engineers and strategists. It is a comfortable and impersonal puzzle to be solved, where human lives are digits. To them technology alone is the crucial element, the trump card for dominance. Technology will not make the conquered love the invader and it cannot make them yield, only incarcerate or kill. Such defiance and determination, the crude ingenuity of the peasant, can and has overcome. If victory requires killing as many as possible then the serial killer is life’s champion. From the armchair or the tables of a think tank the blood and carnage is absent, so technical details are the fascination of calculation. For those on the ground it is never so simple. The engineer is important and often neglected but so is the human of purpose or seemingly no other choice.

A Stone’s Throw Away

It is not that the defender rejecting the invading warriors always succeeds; the past century is littered with examples of might being triumphant. In 1968, the same time that the U.S. was grappling for control in South East Asia, the Soviet Empire swallowed up those rejecting it in Czechoslovakia. A pin prick of defiance perhaps, but the spirit of ‘68 would remain decades later when then Soviet Empire collapsed along with communist rule in Czechoslovakia, succumbing to freer governance and independence. Other peoples are not so lucky and continue to suffer.

Young boys will stand in front of tanks and throw stones when they have nothing else to fight with. In occupied Palestine the Israeli government may some day soon utilize drones and non-human combatants to interact with those that it has conquered. Such technology may allow them to convert the region into the world’s largest prison. They may not be about to eradicate the Palestinians for fear of international condemnation, but they can at the very least imprison them in a dystopian city of walls, cameras, checkpoints, and tyranny. It is occurring elsewhere on Earth for those resisting the Chinese, Indian, and Venezuelan governments. There may only be a glimmer but the same instincts of defiance flicker on.

To the very bitter end, as the adults are imprisoned and killed, the children will go on fighting. It is a circumstance of misery and one where technology and an advanced military seeks to overcome an impoverished people. With an ancient spirit they will resist but they may not overcome. The reprieve in such a circumstance can only come from without, embracing the humanity of those inside. Understanding that one is not an anti-semite simply because they empathize with a Palestinian family who has lost everything due to the actions of the Israeli government. The child throwing the stone may do little damage to the tanks of the IDF but as a symbolic act of defiance it may as well be a boulder dropped from above. And when it is drone vehicles roaming the streets, children not yet born will cast rocks at them too so long as they are oppressed.

It is the enduring defiance and the yearning to be free that can give a small cadre of peasants the edge over a professional army of invaders. The drones and AI may not suffer the fatigue that a conscript or a professional soldier might, they may not suffer trauma or moral injury. The imperfections of the human killer will be removed and replaced by a synthetic one. That does not mean that the inevitable human replacement is superior or indestructible. These drones will have their own weaknesses and flaws and those fighting them will find it and exploit it because they have to. Unless of course winning means destroying everything and killing everyone.

There is no moral virtue in resistance alone, just as none exists in conquest. It is not a clear cut case of good and evil. It is the understanding that perspectives drive objectives. When objectives are intangible and unimaginable for those on the ground or among those who are charged with achieving them, it can become almost impossible to “win.” This is not limited to warfare but for most government policy. For those resisting, the victims or the others, the objective and goal are simple: an end to occupation, to be left alone, eject the invader, or even freedom itself.

To drop the bombs, run the check points, burn down villages and so on may be done in order to enforce security and support a “friendly” government.Over time one must realize that such actions lead to instability and disorder while feeding the resistance. While the frontiers were conquered, the “savages” were tamed and many aboriginal peoples have been subjugated or wiped away. The great nations have committed their genocides and replaced what was with their own. That was the victory those who claim “if we wanted to” accomplished. Modern technology also allows us to observe and challenge such a means of victory to shame and expose the violence for what it is. In both victory and defeat there will always be the warrior in the garden and the sapper in the sewer.

“Whether the primary cause of revolution is nationalism, or social justice, or the anticipation of material progress, the decision to fight and to sacrifice is a social and a moral decision. Insurgency is thus a matter not of manipulation but of inspiration.”

“I am aware that such conclusions are not compatible with the pictures of guerrilla operations and guerrilla motivations drawn by the counterinsurgency theorists who are so much in vogue today. But the counterinsurgency experts have yet to win a war. At this writing, they are certainly losing one.”

Their picture is distorted because their premises are false and their observation faulty. They assume–perhaps their commitments require them to assume–that politics is mainly a manipulative science and insurgency mainly a politico-military technique to be countered by some other technique; whereas both are forms of social behavior, the latter being the mode of popular resistance to unpopular governments.”

Robert Tabor, ‘The War of the Flea’, 1965.

News Roundup 1/25/2022

News Roundup 1/11/2022

Covid

  • Hospitals are allowing staff who test positive for covid to continue to work. [Link]
  • Biden will require health insurance providers to provide eight at-home covid tests per month. [Link]

US News

  • A court upheld the firing of two LAPD officers who ignored calls to respond to a robbery to play Pokemon Go. [Link]
  • Former Trump administration defense officials are joining the boards of small tech companies. [Link]

Latin America

  • A suspected member of the assassination team that killed Haitian President Jovenel Moise was arrested in the Dominican Republic. [Link]
  • The US sanctioned six Nicaraguan officials it accuses of rigging a recent election. [Link]

Great Power

  • National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan consulted with hawks on Russia policy. [Link]
  • US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman met with the Russian foreign minister for eight hours in Vienna. Russia says the US and Russia remain at opposite positions on Ukraine. The US discussed the possibility of reviving the INF Treaty and missile placements. [Link]
  • NATO says it is ready for a European war days before talks with Russia. [Link]
  • Kazakhstan announces Russian troops begin leaving the country. [Link]
  • Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill that authorizes an additional $8.6 billion in military spending. [Link]

North Korea

  • North Korea carried out a missile test. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The US will provide Afghanistan with $300 million in aid and one million doses of a covid vaccine. [Link]

Middle East

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel is undergoing its largest rearmament in years. [Link]
  • Iran is not seeking an interim agreement with the US. [Link]
  • Army paratrooper Rob Nicoson was cleared of charges at a court-martial. Nicoson was accused of misconduct that caused a gun battle between US and Syrian forces in 2020. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia used Iraq War footage as evidence of Iranian support for the Houthi. [Link]

Ethiopia

  • Biden spoke with Ethiopia’s president after Ethiopian government airstrikes killed scores of civilians. [Link]
  • Aid workers report a drone strike in Tigray, Ethiopia killed 17 people, mostly women. [Link]
A Porcupine Peace Plan: How An Independent New Hampshire Could Increase U.S. Security

A Porcupine Peace Plan: How An Independent New Hampshire Could Increase U.S. Security

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”– Sun Tzu

On March 12, 2006 five U.S. soldiers violated, then murdered, 14-year-old Abeer Hamza in her home at Yusufiyah, Iraq. Then they covered up the killing by wiping out most of her family at taxpayer expense.1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmudiyah_rape_and_killings

Fifteen years and four days later, several dozen U.S. policy enforcement officers stormed a quiet neighborhood in America’s Pleasantville: Keene, New Hampshire. After using a battering ram connected to an armored vehicle, they flew a drone through the window of a home studio housing the state’s top radio discussion show, Free Talk Live. Washington claimed that some of its libertarian hosts had been selling significant amounts of Bitcoin without government permission and filed charges of “unlicensed money transmission.” The imperial capitol is seeking life imprisonment for at least one of the arrestees, with no credible claim that he even victimized anyone.2https://www.unionleader.com/news/crime/claiming-flight-risk-judge-orders-free-keene-activist-held-until-bitcoin-money-laundering-trial/article_04baa708-5613-5bc2-9f58-ac97b76616d6.html

Though different in a hundred ways, each of these federal excesses exemplified the numberless grievances which have sparked a growing pushback against D.C. in the “Live Free or Die” state. Local activists and legislators reacted with the New Hampshire Independence Amendment, also known as CACR 32. This constitutional revision would allow all NH residents to vote in a 2022 referendum on whether the state will continue being governed by Washington.

New Hampshire already has a long history of example-setting. But by striving for independence—and a more humane world security protocol—its citizens may be able to do something better. With your help, and the careful placement of a new idea on the geopolitical board, maybe our tiny new nation could even stop a world war.

NH independence proponents make a simple case. The FedGov, they say, has bloated beyond the point where normal individuals can meaningfully oppose its atrocities with conventional civics. They point to the successes of Estonian and British independence movements as well as the global trend toward “smaller nations.” In 1900 there were roughly 60 countries in the world. Now there are about 200. Meanwhile, thanks to these and other national divorces, the harm-inflicting capacity of various empires is less than it would be if they were still full-sized. Successful independence drives in America, too, should have a limiting effect on U.S. warmongering in faraway places.

But what of, say, Chinese government warmongering outside its​ borders? Whatever cruelties the U.S. government may have imposed, the nations bordering China do seem to generally prefer alliance with Washington over alliance with Beijing; some rely on D.C. for their security more than they should.

One of the main criticisms of NH independence is that it could undermine U.S. defense capability or, more accurately, American capacity for carrying out the existing commitments to NATO and Taiwan. The latter is of special significance, and we’ll use it as the focus of this discussion. But the arguments here apply to every U.S. ally.

Critics argue that America is overextended, much as Britain was overextended in the 1939 era when it guaranteed Poland against the Nazis. In those days the perception was that London had only two available courses of action: Wage war on Germany or appease Hitler by abandoning Poland. Today people imagine that we face a similar unthinkable choice as China flexes its new powers against Taiwan. An invasion of the island could trigger these same two ruinous impulses against a great resurgent Power, this time with the likelihood it would escalate into nuclear war. Taiwan’s friends, the thinking goes, would either have to commit another Munich…or defend the quasi-nation by risking civilization. Wouldn’t a New Hampshire independence drive damage America’s ability to follow the second option to victory?

Actually, there is a third option which could prevent both the evils of “big war” and the abandonment of overseas promises. An independent New Hampshire, or prospect thereof, is one way to put that path on the table. Let’s call this option the “Porcupine Peace Plan” for now…in honor of a less-threatening but better-defended posture some of us envision for America’s alliances.

This plan rests upon the barely-discussed idea that there is a great, untapped defense capacity among all reasonably-prosperous peoples, especially in Taiwan. Unlike military buildup it is a power which, when exercised, saves tax dollars rather than spending them…increases freedoms rather than reducing them. It possesses little potential for starting wars of aggression but has a proven history of discouraging them. Nevertheless, this power is often suppressed by the rulers of vulnerable nations…even as some of them face invasion or treat nuclear first-strikes as a legitimate method of self-protection.3https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/us/politics/nuclear-war-risk-1958-us-china.html

This seemingly magical ability…is the power of armed, individual self-defense…weapons freedom for the private citizen. And it is a power that the government of Taiwan has systematically denied to its people, at grave risk to a nervous world. The island’s gun control laws are so strict that WorldPopulationReview.com lists the number of civilian firearms there at literally zero per 100 persons (the U.S. has 120). Historically, the relative gun freedom of America helped it win the Revolutionary War and limited its risk of invasion over the following centuries.4https://davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

We must respect the wishes of Taiwanese regarding their internal laws. But Taipei should respect our wishes when it comes to whether we risk our lives for them over their willful self-emasculation. We currently are doing exactly that at their government’s request; every last American is potentially on Beijing’s target list.5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_first_use And Taipei has unnecessarily increased the chances for war with Beijing…by keeping its civilians disarmed.

This policy cannot help but cause Taiwan to be a far more attractive target for invasion than it would be if it had weapons freedom for the average citizen. The island’s well-meaning government has formidable armed forces, but there is no substitute for the “defense dispersal” and individual initiative which comes from civilian weaponry. Gun freedom, in 1940, made fascist-surrounded Switzerland impractical for Germany to invade.6https://davekopel.org/2A/Foreign/swiss-and-their-guns.html Norway, by contrast, was heavily defended by the British Empire and nowhere near surrounded…but fell quickly when Hitler’s forces mounted an attack on “central points of failure.”7https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-II/The-invasion-of-Norway

Gun availability for the average person can solve only so many problems, but nations which acquire this freedom also acquire a ready-made, widely-dispersed guerilla arsenal ready for use against any occupier. It lets a tiny nation do what Sun Tzu suggested, and “be like water.” When added to Taiwan’s existing military deterrent…this “scary freedom” should be enough to prevent invasion indefinitely.

Skeptical? Then you tell us: How well has the U.S. “nuclear government” fared against Afghan riflemen? Why is Beijing so terrified of guns that it has enacted some of the world’s strictest prohibitions against civilian-owned weaponry?8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_China

Thanks to Taipei, the mainland communists don’t have much of that to be terrified of in Taiwan. They don’t have to factor civie-guns much into their “invasion equation” as Hitler did when he abandoned his plan to attack Switzerland. Ending this citizen-disempowerment could be just enough to prevent the expected attack on Taiwan. And New Hampshire can gently make the case…either through government policy or constructive private action. Here are the suggested steps to get us there:

  1. The New Hampshire Independence Amendment must get a full and fair hearing by our State and Federal Relations committee and face the full legislature without substantial alteration. This will give NHexiters new clout to advance the Porcupine Peace Plan. In the unlikely event Independence obtains legislative super-majorities on this first try, it would then go before the people. If they vote “yes” then…​
  2. Neutral by default, the newly independent nation could begin negotiations on whether it will re-join the alliances it has just departed.
  3. The negotiators should request, as a minimal precondition for re-joining, that Taiwan and other countries take steps of their own choosing to undo the invasion-friendly types of laws we’ve outlined above. It would be on the Taiwanese themselves to figure out how they want to handle this…and on us to decide whether their reforms, if any, are sufficient to win us over as renewed allies. The more weapon freedom they can offer their people, the more we’d want to join.
  4. If Taipei can’t accept this suggestion, loyally and responsibly given, New Hampshire could simply remain neutral and is probably better off that way anyhow. As Switzerland and Costa Rica have proven, neutrality can be much safer than joining an alliance. But we will have kept faith with the beleaguered island.

Even if New Hampshire doesn’t get past step one in 2022, we should at least be able to put the gun-control-helps-invaders issue on the table. And the same weapon freedom concerns which apply to Taiwan…should apply toward any potential ally, even as new personal defenses begin to replace firearms. A cheaper and more humane way of looking at security…may start to set in.

Objections

A) Crime concerns. Taipei presumably keeps its people disarmed in an honest attempt to reduce violent crime and/or uprising. Probably there is a fear that relaxation of gun laws would cause these to increase. There are not many test cases of real gun freedom in first-world Asia; we Westerners can only tell our own tale. We know that the U.S. states with the least gun control also have the least crime. New Hampshire, for example, has virtually no gun laws of its own and the second-highest level of gun freedom in America. Perhaps because of this it also has the second-lowest crime rate, and there was no violent uprising here during the 2020 unrest. Meanwhile the District of Columbia has gun restrictions comparable to Taiwan’s, “some of the strongest gun violence prevention legislation in the nation.”9https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/washington-dc/ Perhaps because of this…it also has America’s highest rate of violent crime and two semi-violent protests since 2020 which partially penetrated White House and Capitol Building defenses respectively.10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_violent_crime_rate

The statistics are not always so clear-cut in favor of gun freedom as a crime reducer…but they do not take into account the potential—much greater—violence of the wars which gun control enables.

B ) Gun incidents—More weapons could mean more accidents and suicides; people would need to get up to speed on firearm safety. For the sake of argument let’s assume it would also mean more crime. But let’s keep these challenges in context. Taipei’s gun control has helped create a situation where the U.S. Navy is prepping for a possibly civilization-ending fleet battle over Taiwan, projected to cost it more than 10,000 lives on the first day of full engagement.11https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_keFhXPclns

C) Disruption. The Porcupine Peace Plan could trigger more independence legislation or otherwise distract Beijing’s target governments at a time when they arguably need to focus on preventing/winning the hot/cold war. If we’re an unwelcome disruption, perhaps we can make up for it. Maybe we could trigger a larger volunteer effort to help Taiwan deter invasion, with her consent. The goal should be lawful, private weapon and ammo shipments to Taiwanese civilians. But perhaps medicines or other pre-positioned supplies are doable now on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, it should not be hard for New Hampshirites, thinking, acting, maybe even being​ outside the box, to do better for Taiwan than we have in the past. Last year we were just another tiny assimilated unit in the Pacific alliance…paying taxes to the fumbling U.S. torture state but giving little thought to our sister democracy on Formosa. There is plenty of room for improvement.

D) The next objection should come from you.​ Visit to the link above if you’d like to raise concerns publicly. You can also contact me there, or volunteer to help. This idea is potentially world-changing, but I’m just another de-platformed videographer; what I can do alone is very limited without you.

Ultimately, this idea is not competing with perfect. It’s competing with the existing, terrifying options which unimaginative bureaucracies have handed us: Appeasement and nuclear war. You don’t need much speed to win a race with turtles, but urgency is indicated. For Taiwan and an honorable world peace…time is probably running out.

This article was originally featured at the Shire Forum and is republished with permission.

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