Sexy Abby Martin vs American Empire

Sexy Abby Martin vs American Empire

What is this banging hot white chick doing in the Gaza Strip or Venezuela?

In this offensive political comedy episode, we follow the sexy journalist Abby Martin, to dive into how the Secret CIA Empire actually works.  From Coups in Venezuela and Ukraine, to propaganda of the empire though the map.

Presidential War Power

Presidential War Power

“It is, however, insane and intolerable that peace depends on the restraint of the Islamic Republic and an American president given to rage-tweeting war-crime threats,” the Cato Institute’s Gene Healy, who studies presidential power, writes in “Trump the Decider.”

“No one fallible human being should be entrusted with the war powers now vested in the presidency. Now, more than ever, Congress needs to do everything in its power to reclaim its authority over war and peace.”

By what authority did Trump order the drone-assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and key Iraqi militia commanders in Iraq, all former allies in the fight against ISIS? Writes Healy:

For now, the official rationale is classified. In terms of public justification, all we have is some hand-waving by Trump’s national security adviser about the president’s “constitutional authorities as commander in chief to defend our nation” and the 17-year old Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq (2002 AUMF). Neither comes close to vesting the president with the power to set off a whole new war.

The 2002 AUMF authorizes the president to use military force in order to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and enforce various UN resolutions “regarding Iraq.” Unless “45” is going to break out the presidential sharpie and change the “q”s to “n”s, that’s not going to cut it. Neither will the 2001 AUMF, as I’ve explained at length elsewhere (See: “Repeal Old AUMFs and Salt the Earth”).

Healy disposes of the “self-defense” rationale for Trump’s act of war without a congressional declaration of war. I’d only add that if no US troops were in Iraq, they would not be subject to attack by anyone there.

Presidential War Power

The Grammar of the Soleimani Assassination

By now we’ve heard enough official explanations of Trump’s assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others to realize they are all nonsense. (And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now admits it.) Trump killed Soleimani because, egged on by his unsavory friends Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has it in for Iran. So when the opportunity to pull off the murder-by-drone came along, he took it. It’s not as though he thought he needed a special justification. It’s good to be the king — er, president.

Most official explanations have entailed some sort of threat to US military or diplomatic personnel, “interests,” or “assets.” And sometimes one US official has had no idea what another is talking about. Trump said four embassies were threatened, but his secretary of defense said that was news to him. Other explanations tie the killings to the breach of the US embassy in Baghdad that occurred after Iran and the US had exchanged strikes in Iraq that took the lives of 25 Iraqis and one American. In other words, it was retribution not prevention. (Killing Iran’s top general while on a peace mission to Iraq seems, let’s say, disproportionate to the temporary embassy breach in which no one was killed or injured.)

If all this is confusing, don’t worry about it: Trump says none of it matters.

But I want to focus on the the initial claim, namely, that Soleimani had been planning “imminent” attacks of some unspecified nature. This, by the way, is debunked by an NBC report that the assassination was planned seven months ago. But we’ll let that go right now.

Since no such attacks occurred, we are entitled to dismiss Trump’s claim. Had attacks been imminent, why would anyone believe that killing Soleimani would stop them? Assassinating him would seem more likely to guarantee them. They were imminent after all.

But let’s go a step deeper — into the grammar, or logic, of all this. I realize that people can use words in differing ways, but I can’t shake the thought that if you are planning to do something, the planned action cannot be imminent. If you tell me something is imminent, I take that to mean the planning is over; execution is next. (Pun unintended but noticed.)

So I would advise that the next time the government tells you it’s killed someone because he was planning an imminent attack, it’s lying.

TGIF: Trump’s Escalation Imperils Innocents

TGIF: Trump’s Escalation Imperils Innocents

While an eerie, surreal calm has fallen over US-Iranian relations, I wouldn’t assume we’re out of the woods yet. Trump had no reason to be confident that Iran’s response to his most recent escalation of violence would be little more than symbolic. Although he’s accepted that response more or less passively for now, with Trump, things can turn on a dime. Who can tell what determines his mood at any given time?

Contemplating Trump’s January 3 escalation of the previously relatively low-level conflict with Iran, one might be struck by how casually the US government (and others of course) treat innocent bystanders. That was among my first thoughts on hearing of the Trump-ordered drone assassinations of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and others in Iraq. 

By innocent bystanders, I don’t mean the commander of Iran’s Quds Force or the leaders of Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, which are part of the Iraqi security establishment, all of whom were allies of US forces in the fight against the Islamic State. (Remember the Islamic State, don’t you?, which the US had fertilized the ground for by declaring open season on Syria’s ruler and Iranian ally Assad?) I take as a given that no one among the rulers and military leaders of countries in the Middle East has clean hands. The same can be said for the rulers and military leaders from powers outside the Middle East that have intervened in the region. The case for nonintervention has never depended on the presence of good guys in any particular conflict. That case stands  even when the targeted figures have been less than discriminating about whom they order shot. Interventionism is based simply on 1) the wisdom of keeping “one’s own” government on as tight a leash as possible and 2) the knowledge that the law of unintended horrific consequence is always in effect. After all we’ve lived through since 2001 — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, among others — must we really be reminded of this? 

By innocent life I’m also not even referring to American military and diplomatic personnel. Americans in Iraq may indeed be killed, injured, and captured as a result of Trump’s assassinations, but they are hardly innocent. On the contrary, they are there because Bush II ordered an invasion force into Iraq and his successors have carried on the operation and have extended it beyond Iraq. Absent that program (or something equally insane), we would not now be at this juncture.

No, the innocent lives I’m talking about are Iraqi and Iranian (among others) — lives that Americans have been treating like garbage for years: the lives, that is, of foreigners. I realize that for many, and maybe most, Americans, foreign lives don’t rank high on their list of concerns. It’s the prerogative of history’s presumed chosen nation to put itself first and only, and indeed it has. You’ll often hear how many Americans have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (or Vietnam), but rarely how many Afghans and Iraqis (or Vietnamese) were murdered by Americans. Nor will you hear how America’s economic warfare against Iranians and others have cost countless lives because of its effect on food and medical supplies. 

So my thoughts are with the overlooked innocent foreign lives that are on the line. Consider their predicament of powerlessness: they won’t even be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election. (Not that the one “cherished” vote that each American 18 and older possesses is worth terribly much.) I’m beginning to see why foreigners might want to “intervene” in American elections: it’s so easy for them to be on the receiving end of America’s lethal militarist imperial foreign policy; they certainly have an interest in the outcome of US presidential elections. The only country to blame for providing an incentive for foreign election intervention is the United States itself.  

The threat to innocent Iranians from a war with the US — whatever form it may take — doesn’t take much imagination. One need only look up the US record of civilians deaths in the region and beyond to see what I mean.

But let’s not overlook the potential Iraqi victims. After all, Trump had the arrogance to assassinate the Iranian Soleimani on “friendly” Iraqi soil, and Iran’s missile response (though it apparently was bloodless) also occurred there. The battleground, if it eventuates, could mainly be in Iraq. (But let’s not forget Syria.)

By the way, Soleimani flew to Iraq after Trump had urged the Iraqis to facilitate a de-escalation of tensions between Iran and US best buddy Saudi Arabia. Soleimani had flown openly to Iraq’s international airport to deliver his response to a Saudi proposal at a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. That’s when he was killed by the American drone strike ordered by Trump. Who says? Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi does

Thus did Trump add dishonor to murder.

With the killing of the top Iranian military/political operative and Iraqi militia leaders — again, all of them US allies against the Islamic State — fragile Iraq could spin out of control, with grave consequences for regular innocent Iraqis, Shi’ite and Sunni. Iraq is mostly Shi’ite, of course, but it has pro-Iranian and not-so-pro-Iranian factions, not to mention Sunni Arab and Kurdish populations. How much influence Iran should have in Iraq’s internal affairs is a contentious matter there. (Since 2003 the US strangely has favored the pro-Iranian factions over their more nationalist rivals.) If Trump’s lethal strike ignites a civil war, no doubt he’ll be safe and sound at Mar-a-Lago or in the White House. So it’s no big deal to him. Small comfort for the bystanders thousands of miles away.

But even if the strike ends up uniting Iraqis against the US presence, the results could still be deadly to bystanders as the cycle of violence intensifies. Moreover, as veteran war correspondent Patrick Cockburn points out, with the shift in US attention from the remnants of ISIS to the Iraqi Shi’ites and Iran, “The biggest cheer in Iraq after the US drone strike [that killed Soleimani et al.] will have come from ISIS commanders in their isolated bolt-holes in the desert and mountains of Iraq and Syria.”

Sure, some American military and diplomatic personnel may bite the dust too, but that would just give Trump another pretext to order his military into heroic action. So no big deal. He’ll be adored at rallies, and maybe he’ll throw in a photo op with a Gold Star family or two.

I’m not worried about Trump. I worry for the innocent bystanders.

TGIF — The Goal Is Freedom — appears occasionally on Fridays.

Year Zero 91: As Needed For Pain

Year Zero 91: As Needed For Pain

In Episode 91 Tommy looks at the death of Muhandis, and its potential meaning for US military in Iraq. Hassan Nasrallah called upon Hezbollah sympathizers to carry out attacks on US military personel and facilities in order to pressure the US to leave the region. What does that look like? Is it good or bad? And how long will it take?

Listen to Year Zero

*Bonus* Scott Horton On The Ceasing of Hostilities With Iran… For Now?

*Bonus* Scott Horton On The Ceasing of Hostilities With Iran… For Now?

27 Minutes

PG-13

Scott joins Pete to go over the recent hostilities with Iran and what looks like a possible end.

Scott Horton is Managing Director of The Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio for Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles and KUCR 88.3 in Riverside, podcasts the Scott Horton Show from scotthorton.org, and is the Editorial Director of Antiwar.com. He’s conducted more than 4,900 interviews since 2003. He is also the author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan (2017).

ScottHorton.org

Donate at the Libertarian Institute

Antiwar.com

Fool’s Errand

Lions of Liberty Podcast

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

Presidential War Power

About that Air Base in Iraq

After the Iraqi parliament (sans Sunni and Kurdish members) voted to oust US troops from Iraq, Trump said, “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”

Trump threatens economic warfare as casually as other people announce their intention to go shopping. We couldn’t count the number of times he’s done so. At any rate, it seems like a strange way to treat a presumed friend that the US government created. What’s a few more miserable Arabs anyway?

As for demanding money “back” for the airbase, that is even more bizarre. The US government didn’t buy the base for the Iraqis; it was for the American power elite and military-industrial complex. Were Iraqis free to reject it when the base was first proposed? The US government made a risky “entrepreneurial” decision when it built the base, so if access is denied, well, tough luck. It was an “investment” gone bad. You know about such things, don’t you, Mr. Trump?

Presidential War Power

Was Soleimani Lured into a Trap?

Donald Trump says he had to have Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani assassinated on friendly Iraqi soil because of an “imminent” threat to Americans. (Suddenly he believes the intel agencies?) But that seems unlikely since an imminent threat would not have been prevented merely by killing Soleimani.

But now we learn that, according to acting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Soleimani was had gone to Baghdad to deliver a response to a de-escalation proposal initiated by Iran-rival Saudi Arabia. The Daily Mail reports:

Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, told his parliament on Sunday that President Trump called him to ask for help in mediating with Iran after the American embassy in Baghdad was attacked….

The attack on the embassy on Tuesday unfolded after thousands attended the funerals of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah fighters killed in the American airstrikes last Sunday.

If this is indeed the case, Trump’s assassination of Soleimani and others, including an Iraqi military leader, is even worse than it first appeared. It would mean that Soleimani was on a peace mission that Trump had urged on Iraq’s prime minister. In other words, Soleimani was lured into a trap.

This would support Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal’s contention (in recent interviews) that Trump’s strike on Soleimani is right out of the Israeli playbook. More than once, Israeli forces have assassinated Palestinian leaders during truces and discussions on behalf of truces.

Episode 358: Dave Smith And Pete Hit Random Topics And Talk About Ben Shapiro

Episode 358: Dave Smith And Pete Hit Random Topics And Talk About Ben Shapiro

61 Minutes

Some Strong Language

60 Minutes

In a throwback episode, Pete welcomed Dave Smith to the show. Dave is a successful standup comedian and host of the most popular libertarian podcast in the world, Part of the Problem. Pete and Dave talk about some of the most outrageous recent news stories and a column written by Ben Shapiro in 2002. Enjoy!!!

Part of the Problem

Dave’s Website

Ben Shapiro Article

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Pete’s Link to Sign Up for the LP

Lions of Liberty Podcast

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

Iran & Israel: A Love Story

Iran & Israel: A Love Story

Did you know Iran offered to help the United States defeat al-Qaeda?

Israel and Iran both are isolated by the same Sunni Arab enemies.  They both funded the same terrorist group Hamas.  And they both rival for the attention of the United States.  Iran and Israel are now bitter enemies but looking back at the history, you might think these two were destined to be star-crossed lovers.  Where did it all go wrong?

Israel and Iran both are isolated by the same Sunni Arab enemies.  Where did these potential star crossed lovers go wrong?  Brand New Political Comedy, Iran & Israel, A Love Story:

Why Iran Hates Israel, if it’s NOT their land?!

Iran is a thousand miles away from Israel.  And unlike the Palestinians, Iran doesn’t claim Israeli land.

 

So why does Shiite Iran arm Sunni Palestinians, when their enemies are Sunni? The Palestinians are predominately Sunni Muslim, which is the Arab group that Iran is at war with!

 

If you are confused, then this episode is for you.  We’ll dive into the history of Israel arming Iran secretly during the Iran-Contra scandal.  And how that transitioned into modern relations.

This is based on the book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi:

You can find the schedule of upcoming episodes (Topics & Dates) here:
http://hypocritetwins.com/

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Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/HypocriteTwins

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