News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/27/2022

Covid

  • The Navy has now removed 45 sailors for failing to take the covid vaccine. [Link]
  • The US donates 900,000 Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Laos. [Link]
  • The US will send two million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Kenya and Morocco. [Link]

US News

  • In the first half of 2021, Twitter received fewer requests from governments for information on users but complied with the requests more often. When US law enforcement made informal requests for information, Twitter gave the info 68% of the time. [Link]
  • The Pentagon wants to accelerate its development of hypersonic missiles. [Link]
  • The Army will begin testing anti-aircraft lasers on Strykers. [Link]

Latin America

  • One body was found and 38 people are missing after a migrant boat capsized off the Florida coast. [Link]
  • The Coast Guard intercepted nearly 200 Haitians attempting to sail to the US. [Link]
  • Cuba asks the US to restaff its embassy after a CIA report on ‘Havana Syndrome’ found no diplomats were attacked by a foreign power. [Link]

Russia

  • Some large US companies lobby the Biden administration and Congress for waivers to continue business in Russia if more sanctions are imposed. [Link]
  • Germany offers Ukraine 5,000 military helmets. Some Ukrainian politicians felt insulted by the German aid. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Americans should strongly consider leaving Ukraine. [Link]
  • Ukraine says the number of Russian troops near its border is insufficient for a large-scale invasion. [Link]
  • Ukraine and Russia agreed to uphold the ceasefire in the Donbas during ‘Normandy format’ talks that included Germany and France. [Link] 
  • State Department Spokesperson Ned Price says Nord Stream 2 will not move forward if Russia invades Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivers its written response to Russia’s security proposal. [Link]

China

  • China says it is dissatisfied that the US is allowing embassy staff to leave China because of strict lockdowns. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles. [Link]

Middle East

  • Jeff Flake became the US Ambassador to Turkey. [Link]
  • US special forces continue to have an active role in the fight against IS. [Link]
  • The SDF claims to have regained control of a prison that holds alleged IS members and 700 children after IS captured the facility six days ago. At least 70 were killed in the fighting. [Link]
  • The Houthi threaten to attack The Dubai Expo. [Link]

Africa

  • France leads a group of 15 countries demanding Mali allow Danish troops to remain in Mali. [Link]
  • At least 20 Congolese soldiers were killed in an attack by M-23. [Link]
Reinhard Heydrich: Nazi Hero, Moral Monster

Reinhard Heydrich: Nazi Hero, Moral Monster

Martyr of the State

Known as “The Butcher of Prague,” Reinhard Heydrich was for the government of Nazi Germany an accomplished senior figure. He had the preferred look that many racialists enjoyed, clean cut and Germanic. A man that Adolf Hitler had described as having an “Iron Heart.” For many of the monumental events in the history of the Nazi government, Heydrich had helped organize or participated in them. From the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the Kristallnacht persecutions, he was a crucial element of the prewar government and its growth. Heydrich was an excellent administrator and would be an ideal asset for most any government; obedient, a stickler for bureaucraucy and administrative detail and void of compassion. A man of action. The particular ideology of the Nazi regime seemed to suit his talents and principles best. It was one of those perfect historical matches, where the outcome was terrible.

Heydrich became instrumental in establishing the task forces that rounded up Jewish people and placed them into ghettos. Some estimates claim that one million innocent people were murdered during the process of this bureaucratic implementation. Heydrich’s planning and attention to detail ensured that no child was left behind or no family was spared. No exceptions were made, it was the law. By 1941, Heydrich’s reputation was such that he was appointed as Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, what was formerly known as Czechoslovakia. Executions, arrests, and slavery ensued. For the history that was being written for the Nazi State, he was a great man. Which is why he was one of the key figures at the Wannsee Conference, the ninety minute meeting that would write the laws allowing for the mass extermination of those determined to be of Jewish descent. Genocide was to become official government policy.

The cruelty of Heydrich’s administration in Czechoslovakia was brutal. He was an efficient government director, calculating and obedient to the ambitions of the state. He was the viceroy of an already industrial and productive sector pre-occupation, and he milked and bled the people under his rule to gain profit for the state. The nation was at war and men like Heydrich were crucial in protecting the state from defeat from its many enemies. In 1942 Heydrich was killed by British military-trained Czechoslovakian operatives. For the Nazi state, a hero had been slain by foreign backed terrorists. The reprisal was horrible.

Immoral Revenge of the Law

The German government’s instinctive proposal was to kill 10,000 random Czechoslovakians, but after some consideration the plan was dropped. The region was an important industrial sector for the war effort, so such random mass murder could interfere with production. Over 13,000 people were arrested, most tortured. Approximately 5,000 were then executed. German military intelligence falsely linked the village of Lidice to the assassination. Everyone in Lidice was punished. On the spot 199 males were murdered. 195 women and 95 children were taken into custody and ended up in concentration camps. Rape and torture ensued; eventually the women were gassed to death along with 81 children. The village of Lidice and neighboring Lezaky were destroyed. The full power of the state and control over human life was on display as the spirit of vengeance took hold.

A thorough manhunt followed; the German government threatened to murder more innocent people if information relating to the culprits did not reach them by the end of a deadline. A bounty was also set for information leading to the capture of the killers of Heydrich. One of the culprits, Karel Caruda, gave himself up and shared the location of his contacts. For his confession he was paid one million Reich-marks. When the Nazi agents raided a safe house, a 17-year-old boy was tortured, forced to get drunk, and then shown his mother’s severed head that had been placed in a fish tank by the authorities, all attempts to get him to talk. He was told that if he did not give up information, his father would be next. He ended up revealing what he knew to save his father. He was later executed with his father, his fiance, and her family. The state rarely keeps its promises.

Others were arrested and a siege occurred at the Karel Boromejsky church. The defenders fought back with determination against a larger German paramilitary force. The defenders were armed with pistols and the German government, besides using conventional weapons of war, also deployed tear gas and had the local fire fighters flood the church. The defenders were eventually killed and identified. The bishop and senior church leaders were tortured and then murdered by the Nazis. The mathematics is always simple: the death of one government official is worth the blood of thousands of innocent civilians to the state.

An Exceptional Man and Collective Responsibility

Heydrich was mourned as a hero. Two large funeral ceremonies were held in his honor. A great leader of the Nazi Party had been assassinated by terrorists and the reprisal was a punishment to those associated by any collective identity to have been linked to the killing. It is the mindset that all governments impose when they embrace policies of vengeance. It may be the carpet bombing of cities, the targeted attacks on infrastructure, embargoes, or the destruction of Czechoslovakian villages. Because of his position in the German government Heydrich was an important human being. He is above others; in some ways such an individual is sacred and in death the government will sanctify such a man and justice will be absolute to any who would dare defy.

The collective responsibility of punishment utilized by the German government was not unique to the Nazi regime. It is in essence common among all governments. It is found inside of prohibitions and censorship and each regulation. The assumption that all are to be held responsible because of the imagined potential actions of a few or because in the past a minority had in some way been linked to that which is now being banned or controlled. The collective belongs to the state, to be ruled and regulated by the government. Regardless of the ideology of the government the outcome always is that the state is more important than individuals. The state is absolute but the elites that fill its key positions or hold influence are examples of unique human beings that transcend the rest of the citizenry. The more egalitarian the policies of the state, the more it collectivizes and the more the planners, experts, and policy makers of importance become exceptional and above all others.

Because the Nazi regime was defeated, men like Heydrich are no longer seen as heroes (except from among the ranks of a perverse few). Heydrich is seen as a criminal though he acted lawfully according to his own government. He was cruel and savage, though in victory he would have been justified. People like Heydrich are called monsters, though they were human beings. They left a path of pain and death for millions of innocent civilians. Any neutral moral observer would judge a person for such outcomes and that is all that should matter. No context needs to be considered other than the contribution to so many innocent deaths and countless tortures. We however do not live in a moral and neutral world; context and perspective seems to reign and steer many minds. For those inside Nazi Germany proper, Heydrich was a hero. His victims were necessary eggs to be broken in order to improve the omelette of the state, or so it is often said well beyond the bloody history of Nazi Germany.

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 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/26/2022

US News

  • The Department of Labor drops the OSHA-enforced vaccine mandate. [Link]
  • As many as 500 criminal cases could be dropped because NYPD detective Joseph Franco was caught planting drugs. [Link]
  • Twitter says it removed nearly 45,000 accounts in the first half of 2021 for promoting violence or terrorism. Over the same time span, Twitter forced users to delete 4.7 million posts. [Link] Twitter also saw a record number of government requests to remove content. [Link]
  • Lockheed Martin is investing heavily in hypersonic missiles. [Link]

Venezuela

  • The US-recognized leader – although he holds no actual power – of Venezuela Juan Guadio offers the country’s true leader – Maduro –  talks in exchange for the possible reduction in some US sanctions. [Link]

Russia

  • US and Ukrainian officials are giving conflicting statements on the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. [Link]
  • The UK delivered thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivered 80 tonnes of Javelin missiles and launchers to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The House will vote on the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act as early as next week. The bill would impose sanctions on Russia and give Ukraine $500 million in military aid. [Link]

China

  • China and Russia conducted joint naval war games. Russia said it discussed conducting bilateral trade with China in national currencies. [Link]
  • The US flew operations with patrol and spy planes around Taiwan. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea test-fired two cruise missiles. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The accounts for the Afghan embassy in the US have been frozen. [Link]
  • Thousands of Afghans – many CIA-trained commandos – have been stranded in the UAE. [Link]

Middle East

  • A senior Human Rights Watch employee had their device hacked by the Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. [Link]
  • Talks between Israel and Russia could reduce Israeli airstrikes in Syria. [Link]
  • The US says it is ready for direct talks with Iran. [Link]
  • Ted Cruz introduces a bill that will put the Houthi on the terrorism list. [Link]
  • UAE-backed forces report making gains in Marib against the Houthi. [Link]

Africa

  • The Biden administration approves a $2.5 billion weapons sale to Egypt. [Link]
  • Senegal says two of its soldiers were killed and nine went missing while on operations in The Gambia. The Senegalese military said the Movement of Democratic Forces for Casamance was behind the attack. [Link]
COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

On COI #222, Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman cover the hawks advocating the killing of Russians, the ongoing Cold War with China, and recent violence in Syria.

Connor reviews his latest column discussing the Washington imperial elite’s calls for Russian blood during the Ukraine crisis. The Biden administration, the CIA, Senators from both parties, and NATO officials have been promoting policies that will lead to war. Military aid to Kiev is skyrocketing. U.S. lawmakers seek to tie Biden’s hands and only continue increasing tensions with Moscow.

Kyle details military and political escalations with Beijing. In a move sure to anger the Chinese, Taipei’s Vice President is visiting the U.S. soon.  The Seventh Fleet is carrying out war drills with dual aircraft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. An F-35 recently crash-landed on the USS Carl Vinson’s deck during the provocative South China Sea exercise.  In response to a U.S. destroyer’s recent FONOP in the region, China’s military is demanding an end to these frequent hostile maneuvers.

Kyle updates the chaotic situation in Syria. An Islamic State attack on a prison in Kurdish territory reportedly holding ISIS suspects, including child detainees, has left scores dead and thousands displaced. The prison break in Hasakah began with two car bombs. Daesh prisoners overpowered prison guards, killing them and taking their weapons. Backing the Kurds, the U.S. has been committing airstrikes. On top of this, U.S. lawmakers are attempting to put a stop to Arab states’ efforts to normalize relations with Damascus.

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Israel’s Founding Father Called for Villages to Be ‘Wiped Out,’ Confirming Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Israel’s Founding Father Called for Villages to Be ‘Wiped Out,’ Confirming Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Archival institutions are not known to be pioneers of technological innovation. They are preoccupied with the past, after all. That is why censors still often black out classified information physically, with a marker, a piece of paper or whatnot.

The Israeli State Archives, on the other hand, have apparently been experimenting with virtual censorship tools. In the minutes of a cabinet meeting of Israel’s provisional government during its “War of Independence,” released following requests of the Akevot Institute, digital blackouts were included to cover the more problematic statements made by the Zionist leaders present. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently found out, however, these comments could be unveiled with a simple click. Woops! (Perhaps due to a similar technical error, I was able to access the paywalled Haaretz article once. Fortunately, the details can be found at Middle East Eye, too.)

The technical malfunction put the war-time document, dated July 1948, suddenly in an entirely different perspective. The censored version had shown David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the brand-new State of Israel, as saying that “I am against the wholesale demolition of villages.” But then, once the blackout was removed, there followed a “but.” Indeed, he quickly elaborated: “But there are places that constituted a great danger and constitute a great danger, and we must wipe them out. But this must be done responsibly, with consideration before the act.”

These comments are testimony of the well-documented ethnic cleansing of Palestine during Israel’s foundational war.1Ilan Pappe, The ethnic cleansing of Palestine (Oneworld Publications, 2006). In fact, the ‘wiping out’ of Arab forces and the “expulsion” of the Palestinians was officially sanctioned policy during the conflict. The censorship, which the Israeli State Archives claims to have been unintentional, is only the latest attempt to obscure this historical crime against humanity.

The Roots of Ethnic Cleansing

David Ben-Gurion is widely celebrated in Israel as the country’s founding father who led the war effort during and after the declaration of independence of May 14, 1948. Travelers flying to Tel Aviv today are immediately reminded of this historic figure as they land in Ben Gurion Airport. But the airport in fact predates the founding of Israel. Established in 1934, Arab and European airlines used Lydda Airport, as it was called before World War II, for local and transcontinental travel. In July 1948, however, the same month as the above-mentioned cabinet meeting, the Israelis seized the airport and gave it a Hebrew name: Lod Airport. In 1973, after Ben-Gurion’s death, it was renamed again to its present name in honor of Israel’s first prime minister.

This is just one tiny example of how Palestinian land—and Palestinian history for that matter—was ‘wiped out’ as a result of the 1948 war. This process, as well as the massive expulsion of Palestinians that went along with it, was not a haphazard outcome of the war, however. Rather, as this article argues, ethnic cleansing was at the root of the Zionist project and was implemented as policy by Ben-Gurion in the late 1940s.

From the very beginning, political Zionism implied the “transfer” of the indigenous population to other countries. In their early efforts to gain support from Western nations, Zionist leaders proclaimed that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land.” In reality, they knew that the first part of that slogan was a lie. The Palestinian people were like “the rocks of Judea, obstacles to be cleared on a difficult path,” as Chaim Weizmann, a prominent Zionist figure and future first president of Israel, put it in 1918.2Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: the concept of ‘transfer’ in Zionist political thought, 1882-1948 (Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992), 5-48. Quote at page 17.

This dismissive attitude towards the pre-existing civilization in Palestine perhaps explains the early Zionist optimism surrounding the “Arab question.” Theodore Herzl, the founding father of political Zionism, believed that the Palestinians could be uprooted with non-violent methods. In 1895, he wrote that “we shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country.” The property owners, on the other hand, could easily be tricked into giving up their lands according to Herzl. “Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us something far more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back.”3Idem, 8-9.

The free market turned out not to be a very good ally, however. Only 5.8% of Palestinian land was under Jewish ownership by December 1947, more than half a century after Herzl’s remarks. Realizing that Jewish immigration, establishing kibbutzes and buying property was not enough, Zionist leaders soon turned to political and military means.

Political help was secured first. During the First World War, a great-power patron was found in Britain, which pledged to put its weight behind “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” in the so-called Balfour Declaration of 1917. When the British secured a League of Nations mandate over Palestine in 1922, words were followed by deeds. During the Mandate period, the British allowed for the creation of a Jewish Agency to function as a semi-governmental body while denying similar advantages to the Palestinians. As such, the Palestinians had to bear the brunt of two colonial movements simultaneously: a settler-colonialist movement in Palestine, aided and abetted by the world’s foremost colonial power in London.4Rashid Khalidi, The hundred years’ war on Palestine: a history of settler colonialism and resistance, 1917-2017 (Metropolitan Books, 2020), 17-54.

The more extreme branches of the Zionist movement, such as the “Revisionists” led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, were the first to resort to military means. As far back as 1925, Jabotinsky wrote that “Zionism is a colonizing venture and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces.”5Idem, 51. Since he was open about an “Iron wall of bayonets” that needed to separate Jews and Arabs, there was little confusion about the purpose of the paramilitary militias that Jabotinsky endorsed. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Irgun and the Stern Gang launched a terror campaign against Palestinian civilians (and British officials towards the end of the Mandate period) that left hundreds of casualties.

Lest these extreme forms of intimidation be seen as evidence that the need for ethnic cleansing was solely a right-wing policy aim, it was actually accomplished under the leadership of the dominant “Labor” branch of the Zionist movement. With the help of sympathetic British officers, the Jewish Agency was allowed to expand its military arm, the Haganah, during the Great Palestinian Revolt of 1936-1939. Meanwhile, the mainstream Zionist leadership, too, was gravitating towards a military solution to the “Arab Question.” Ben-Gurion, for instance, told his compatriots of the Jewish Agency in June 1938—ten years before the ‘wipe out’ comment—that “I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it.”6Pappe, The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, XI.

The Execution of Ethnic Cleansing

But how was this “compulsory transfer” to be accomplished? How, indeed, did the Zionists gain control over the majority of Palestine by the beginning of 1949 if a little over one year earlier they owned barely 5% of the land, the majority of which was concentrated in the cities? Here, the political and military clout they had built up over the years converged.

This time, foreign political help came from the recently founded United Nations, which, bear in mind, before decolonization in Africa and Asia was in large part a club of the Western Great Powers. These nations felt obliged to compensate the Jews for the Nazi Holocaust. In February 1947, the British decided to turn the fate of Palestine over to the UN. On November 29 of that year, after nine months of deliberation, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which envisioned the partition of Palestine into two separate states. 56% of the land was to go to a Jewish state, while the Palestinians were left with only 43%. (A small enclave around Jerusalem was to become internationally governed.)

The Palestinians were vehemently opposed to partition, however. They considered it unfair since they held almost all of Palestine and had lived on their lands for generations. Moreover, while only 10,000 Jews would end up under Palestinian governance, 438,000 Palestinians—as well as hundreds of villages and the most fertile land—would end up under Jewish rule overnight. Leaving these Palestinians in the hands of an ideology which had openly vowed to de-Arabize Palestine contributed to the fate that was to befall them.

Indeed, the Palestinian and Arab rejection of the UN plan allowed the Zionist leadership to claim the moral upper hand. Ben-Gurion was a good tactician; like many of his successors, he kept the most extreme Zionist elements at bay and made sure to demonstrate to the outside world that the Jewish side, contrary to the Arabs, did accept the UN plan. Behind closed doors, however, he knew that the borders of the Jewish state “will be determined by force and not by the partition resolution.”7Idem, 36-7.

Still, the two-state solution created a huge problem that preoccupies Zionists until today: the so-called “demographic balance.” Jews would constitute only a tiny majority in the future Jewish state, and this did not stroke with the exclusionary Zionist ideology. As Ben-Gurion said in a speech a few days after the publication of the UN partition plan, “there are 40% non-Jews in the areas allocated to the Jewish state. This composition is not a solid basis for a Jewish state. […] Only a state with at least 80% Jews is a viable and stable state.”8Idem, 48.

And thus, the plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine was born. By the end of the year, parallel to an escalation in terrorist attacks by Irgun and the Stern Gang (and later on also the Haganah), Ben-Gurion gave the green light for lethal assaults on Arab villages. The object was clear: “Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion.”9Idem, 64. In early March, ethnic cleansing was adopted as official policy in Plan Dalet (or Plan D), which sanctioned operations aimed at “destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their rubble). […] In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.”

It is difficult not to read “in case of resistance” here as a silly pretext. Indeed, in a letter to the commanders of Haganah brigades, Ben-Gurion stated unequivocally that “the cleansing of Palestine [is] the primary objective of Plan Dalet.”10Idem, 128. Moreover, although there was certainly Palestinian armed resistance (and at times acts of retaliation), the systematic ethnic cleansing of 531 villages and eleven urban neighborhoods and towns that followed happened regardless of the presence and activity of Arab armed forces. Hundreds of civilians were killed in dozens of cold-blooded massacres, which, as intended, drove more than 750.000 Palestinians to flee beyond the territory under control of the Israelis. These refugees would never be allowed back in.

The Memory-Holing of Ethnic Cleansing

Like all subsequent assaults on Palestine, Israeli propaganda has done its best to try to paint the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1947-1949 as a defensive war. Echoing later proclamations that the Jews were about to be “driven into the sea,” Ben-Gurion and company justified their military action as a desperate attempt to stave off a “second Holocaust.” In private, however, Ben-Gurion was well aware of the superior military power of the Zionist forces. In a letter from February 1948, for instance, he wrote that “we can face all the Arab forces. This is not a mystical belief, but a cold and rational calculation based on practical examination.”11Idem, 46.

The Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, and Jordanian forces that entered Palestine following Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948 almost exclusively operated in the areas allocated to the Palestinians under the UN partition plan. For the Jordanians, not crossing the UN-proposed borders was even part of a secret deal with the Jewish Agency. But even at defending those borders the Arab forces did a bad job. Indeed, after the war was over the Israelis controlled 78% of historic Palestine, having conquered almost half of the land that was supposed to become part of a Palestinian state. What was left was the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the first two of which were annexed by Jordan and the last by Egypt. In 1967, finally, Israel conquered and occupied these areas (as well as the Egyptian Sinai and Syrian Golan Heights), too.

In the procrastinated peace process that has dragged on ever since, the acceptance of the State of Israel within the 1949 armistice lines (the so-called “Green Line”) has formed a sine qua non for the Israelis. Everything that happened before 1967 is considered a fait accompli and is simply not on the negotiating table. Israel, with diplomatic help from its new great-power patron, the United States, to this day ignores UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which affirms the right of return for the millions of descendants of the 750,000 Palestinians it expelled between 1947 and 1949. Meanwhile, under Israel’s 1950 Law of Return, every Jew in the world has the right to “return” to Israel and acquire citizenship.

The fate of the Palestinians that the Israelis failed to expel beyond the borders of historic Palestine is perhaps even more tragic. Palestinians inside the State of Israel, which today make up around 21% of the population, live under a system of Apartheid. Palestinians living in the West Bank continue to live under occupation. And Palestinians in Gaza are confined to what is often called “the world’s largest open-air prison,” suffering at the hands of a devastating fifteen-year-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade and intermittent Israeli bombing campaigns.

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.

Unmask America

Unmask America

Enough is enough. It is time to stop wearing masks, or at the very least to eliminate mask mandates in all settings.

This is especially urgent for children in schools and universities, who suffer the effects of masks for long hours each day despite being at exceedingly low risk for death or serious illness from COVID.

We have a responsibility, once and for all, to reject the ludicrous, ever-shifting narratives underpinning masks as effective impediments to the spread of COVID infections.

Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus

—former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams in February 2020.

The story changed from “masks don’t work,” to “masks may work,” to “masks work and you must wear one.” Now the narrative switches yet again: “cloth masks don’t work, so you should wear a surgical or ‘well-fitted’ mask,” or even wear two!

Note that even as COVID evolves into a less dangerous omicron variant, we are supposed to increase the hysteria level by wearing masks intended for surgeons maintaining a sterile environment over open wounds. We are told this by the same political, medical, and media figures who have been “frequently wrong but never in doubt” about all things COVID over the past two long years. And they spoke with just as much bogus certainty then as they do now.

Perversely, the Biden administration recently ordered 400 million surgical N95 masks for distribution across the country. Since N95 masks are considered disposable, and meant to be worn at most perhaps 40 hours, it is unclear what happens in a week or two when 330 million Americans run out of their “free” personal protective equipment.

The UK has sensibly ended its mask mandates, both in public places (offices and other workplaces, bars, restaurants, sporting events, theaters) and thankfully schools. One young university student broke down in tears at the news, lamenting the inhumanity of her experience over the past two years. As British Health secretary Savid Javid stated, “We must learn to live with COVID in the same way we live with flu.”

Amen.

The arguments against masks are straightforward.

  • Masks don’t work. Or at least cloth masks don’t.

Even the CDC now admits what Dr. Anthony Fauci told the world in February 2020: cloth masks don’t work and there is no reason to wear one:

“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.”

I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.

CNN’s dubious medical expert Dr. Lena Wen, previously an uber-masker, now tells us cloth masks are “little more than facial decorations.” And heroic skeptic Dr. Jay Bhattacharya cites both a Danish study and a Bangladeshi study which found cloth masks show little efficacy in preventing COVID.

Are we seriously prepared to wear tight and uncomfortable surgical masks all day to evade omicron?

  • Masks are filthy.

Humans lungs and our respiratory system are designed to inhale nitrogen and oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is literally a waste product, removed from the blood via our lungs. Masks may not trap injurious levels of carbon dioxide against our nose and mouth, but they certainly get filthy very quickly unless changed constantly. They also encourage mouth breathing, which can cause “mask mouth” symptoms including acne, bad breath, tender gums, and lip irritation.

Why would we ever interfere with natural breathing unless we felt sick, displayed symptoms, and were worried about infecting others? And in that case, why not just stay home?

  • Masks are dehumanizing.

Humans communicate verbally and nonverbally, and masks impede both forms. Masks muffle and distort our words. Our facial expressions are important cues to everyone around us; without those cues communication and understanding suffer. Infants and toddlers may be most affected, as a lack of facial engagement with parents and loved ones impedes the human connections and attachments formed during childhood.

Perhaps most disturbing, however, are the symbolic effects when millions of Americans dutifully wear masks based on flimsy evidence provided by deeply unimpressive people. Facelessness—the lack of individual identity, personality, and looks—is inherently dehumanizing and dystopian. Like prison or military uniforms, masks reduce our personal characteristics. Mask are muzzles, symbols of rote acquiescence to an ugly new normal nobody asked for or voted for.

  • Risk is inevitable.

Risk is omnipresent, and heavily subjective (e.g., COVID risk varies enormously with age and comorbidities). Nobody has a right to force interventions like masks onto others, just as nobody has a right to a hypothetical germ-free landscape. Exhalation is not aggression, short of purposefully attempting to sicken others. People wearing masks arguably shed slightly fewer COVID virus particles than those not, but this does not justify banning the latter from public life. As always, the overwhelming burden of justification for any intervention—including mask mandates—must rest on those proposing it, not those opposing it.

In sum, Americans are not children. Tradeoffs are part of every policy, whether government officials admit this or not. We know how to coexist with flu, just as we live with countless bacteria and viruses in our environment. We will similarly coexist with COVID. The goal is not to eliminate germs, and zero COVID is an absurdity. A healthy immune system, built up through diet, exercise, and sunlight will always be the best frontline defense against communicable disease. But diet, exercise, and sunlight cannot be outsourced to health officials or mandated by politicians.

Whatever slight benefits masks may provide are a matter for individuals to decide for themselves. People who feel sick with symptoms should stay home. We can all wash our hands frequently and thoroughly. Otherwise it is time for Americans to assert themselves against the dubious claims and non-existent legality of government COVID measures.

It is time to get back to normal life, and that starts with visible human faces.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

News Roundup 1/27/2022

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]

1/21/22 Richard Hanania on American Power, Public Choice Theory and the Rise of China

Scott interviews Richard Hanania of Defense Priorities. They discuss the reality of how the American military’s presence impacts global events. Hanania argues that, if it were true that the U.S. was out there defending its allies, you’d expect those countries to want U.S. troops present more than the U.S. wants to have troops stationed there. But in reality, we often find the opposite. Hanania also gives the reasons he thinks China is all but certain to become the dominant power in East Asia but that right-wing fears over a global Chinese takeover are overblown. 

Discussed on the show:

Richard Hanania is a research fellow at Defense Priorities and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. His work focuses on political psychology, the causes of civil war, and the effects of interest groups on U.S. foreign policy. Follow him on Twitter @RichardHanania

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

United States to Give Extra $200 Million in Military Aid to Ukraine

United States to Give Extra $200 Million in Military Aid to Ukraine

The U.S. is giving Ukraine an additional $200 million in military aid that was approved by the Biden administration in December, a senior State Department official confirmed with reporters on Wednesday. The additional military aid was announced while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Kyiv.

The official didn’t detail what military equipment would make up the new aid package. Since 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with over $2.5 billion in military aid. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. started giving Ukraine lethal weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles and armed patrol boats.

Earlier reports said the Biden administration was considering giving Ukraine more stinger missiles, mortars, and more Javelin missiles. Another plan under consideration is giving Ukraine military aid that was meant for the now-defunct U.S.-backed Afghan government that would include Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters.

With the constant U.S. claims of a Russian invasion, Washington is eager to give Ukraine weapons. On top of the $200 million, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes another $300 million for military aid to Ukraine. A group of Senate Democrats recently introduced a bill that would authorize an additional $500 million for Ukraine if the president determines Russia is being hostile towards its neighbor.

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

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