MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

NYT ‘Bombshell’ – CIA Massively Engaged On-Ground In Ukraine

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

In another case of who is leaking and why, the New York Times has revealed that the CIA is heavily involved in training and advising Ukraine in its war with Russia. As former CIA official Larry Johnson writes, this is a very selective leak from the US government. So we need to read between the lines to answer why. Also today…one day before NATO’s Madrid summit the talk is all about escalation.

A few short weeks ago Ukraine was mopping the floor with Russian troops but our military hadnt a clue about what Ukrainian troops were doing with U$ $upplied money and weapon$. Now we are told the CIA is running the show, US special forces are fighting Russians and Ukraine is getting it’s ass kicked. The only bombshells the NYT prints are what the CIA tells them to print.

Are we getting set up for a US bail-out or more printed money, more MIC weapons and massive US escalation?

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Brzezinski’s Proxy War Playbook

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

by Patrick Macfarlane

In 1998, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbiegnew Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that the CIA “knowingly increased the probability” that the Russians would invade Afghanistan by covertly supporting the Mujahideen before the Soviet invasion.

Mujahideen, sired by Bin Laden and the CIA, evolved into Al Qaeda and ISIS.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/brzezinskis-proxy-war-playbook/

In 1998, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbiegnew Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that the CIA “knowingly increased the probability” that the Russians would invade Afghanistan by covertly supporting the Mujahideen before the Soviet invasion. Later in that same interview, Brzezinski claims that this covert intervention caused the end of the Soviet Union:

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

In July 2014, almost six months after the Maidan Revolution and Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea, Brzezinski hinted at a similar plan for Ukraine, although he couched it in defensive terms. He wrote on the Atlantic Council’s blog:

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Why Sanctions Always Fail

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

The Enemy Always Adapts.

Andrew Cockburn

 The misplaced belief in the efficacy of sanctions as a weapon may partly be traced to what is generally considered to have been their greatest triumph, the British blockade of Germany in world war 1 that supposedly starved the Germans into submission, a “very perfect instrument” in Keynes’ words.  But as the late great Norman Stone pointed out, German food shortages were almost entirely due to government mismanagement, although the blockade, as usual, provided a convenient scapegoat.

https://spoilsofwar.substack.com/p/why-sanctions-always-fail

 Early in the Ukraine war, President Biden boasted on twitter that thanks to “unprecedented” sanctions, the “Russian economy is on track to be cut in half” and the ruble had been reduced to “rubble.”  All instruments of economic warfare had been deployed against Ukraine’s invader, from the freezing of central bank reserves to sanctions on Russian cats. Today, the cats may be still at home, but the ruble is at a seven year high, Russian interest and inflation rates are headed downwards, and industrial production is ticking up. Meanwhile Russian forces steadily advance in Ukraine. 

Objective: “Hunger, Desperation, Overthrow of Government.”

         All this represents a much larger defeat for sanctions than is usual in such offensives.  In a memo on Cuban sanctions back in 1960 a state department official named Lestor Mallory described the purpose of such measures with unusual frankness (the memo was of course secret.) The aim, he wrote, was  “..to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” Twenty years later, again cloaking honesty in classification, the CIA intelligence directorate studied the record and concluded that “economic sanctions…have not met any of their objective” and had furthermore strengthened the regime, providing Castro with “a scapegoat for all kinds of domestic problems.” That pattern has endured: hardship for the sanctioned population, as exemplified by the half-million toll on Iraqi children during the 1990s, or the ongoing mass hunger in Afghanistan, while the ruling elite escapes unscathed and diverts any possible local disaffection among the immiserated populace in the direction of the sanctioning powers.  This time around, the effect of sanctions has of course been double-edged. Not only has the Russian economy not collapsed, the sanctioneers, principally the Europeans, are themselves in an accelerating economic downslide, marked by rising inflation, in particular the catastrophic energy costs consequent on sanctions against Russian oil and gas.

Sanctions Work Just Like Bombing – Badly.

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EU Leaders Prepare for Russia Turning Off Gas Supply

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

Germany is already facing a gas crisis as supplies have been reduced due to Western sanctions

by Dave DeCamp

You have to be an idiot not to have foreseen this. Which makes it a typical US foreign policy result.

Then again by the EU obeying US commands it encourages the dumb bastards to increase dependency on US taxpayer paid for “free government help”. “Sure you can have US foreign aid as long as you use the part you don’t divert to Swiss bank accounts to buy US made weapons and allow more US bases.”

Yah, that is how US foreign aid works.

antiwar.com

European leaders on Friday discussed the possibility of Russia cutting off gas to the entire bloc and asked the European Commission to come up with ways to deal with the scenario.

The EU has banned the import of Russian coal and agreed on a phased ban of Russian oil, with exemptions for Hungary. But the bloc can’t afford to ban Russian gas due to its heavy reliance on the commodity.

The Western sanctions campaign against Moscow has largely backfired on Europe as it is facing soaring energy prices, which Russia is profiting from. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is already facing a gas crisis as Russia has somewhat reduced supply. If the situation gets worse in Germany, the next step would be rationing.

According to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Russia has cut gas supplies either wholly or partially to 12 EU member states. Moscow cut off some members entirely, including Bulgaria and Poland, over their refusal to pay for gas in rubles, a policy Russia enacted to shield its currency from sanctions and in retaliation for the US and EU targeting Russia’s use of the dollar and euro.

Earlier this month, Russia’s Gazprom reduced the flow of gas in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany, by 40% due to Western sanctions. A piece of equipment needed for a repair on the pipeline is stuck in Canada due to sanctions on Russia.

Countries that have been cut off entirely by Russia, such as Bulgaria, have turned to their neighbors for help. But this winter, the EU’s gas demands will be much higher. For now, as there is a lack of any real plan, EU leaders are calling on Europeans to reduce their energy use.

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“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”—Hunter S. Thompson

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

The groundwork has been laid for a new kind of government where it won’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty, whether you’re a threat to the nation, or even if you’re a citizen.

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The Consumption Tax: A Critique

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

The Alleged Superiority of the Income Tax

Murray N. Rothbard

tax burden

We were assured by one and all, at the time, that this new withholding tax was strictly limited to the wartime emergency, and would disappear at the arrival of peace. The rest, alas, is history. But the point is that no one can seriously maintain that an income tax deprived of withholding power could be collected at its present high levels.

The consumption tax, on the other hand, can only be regarded as a payment for permission-to-live. It implies that a man will not be allowed to advance or even sustain his own life unless he pays, off the top, a fee to the State for permission to do so. The consumption tax does not strike me, in its philosophical implications, as one whit more noble, or less presumptuous, than the income tax.

https://mises.org/library/consumption-tax-critique

Orthodox neoclassical economics has long maintained that, from the point of view of the taxed themselves, an income tax is “better than” an excise tax on a particular form of consumption, since, in addition to the total revenue extracted, which is assumed to be the same in both cases, the excise tax weights the levy heavily against a particular consumer good. In addition to the total amount levied, therefore, an excise tax skews and distorts spending and resources away from the consumers’ preferred consumption patterns. Indifference curves are trotted out with a flourish to lend the scientific patina of geometry to this demonstration.

As in many other cases when economists rush to judge various courses of action as “good,” “superior,” or “optimal,” however, the ceteris paribus assumptions underlying such judgments—in this case, for example, that total revenue remains the same—do not always hold up in real life. Thus, it is certainly possible, for political or other reasons, that one particular form of tax is not likely to result in the same total revenue as another. The nature of a particular tax might lead to less or more revenue than another tax. Suppose, for example, that all present taxes are abolished and that the same total is to be raised from a new capitation, or head, tax, which requires that every inhabitant of the United States pay an equal amount to the support of federal, state, and local government. This would mean that the existing total government revenue of the United States, which we estimate at $1.38 trillion—and here exact figures are not important—would have to be divided between an approximate total of 243 million people. Which would mean that every man, woman, and child in America would be required to pay to government each and every year, $5,680. Somehow, I don’t believe that anything like this large a sum could be collectible by the authorities, no matter how many enforcement powers are granted the IRS. A clear example where the ceteris paribus assumption flagrantly breaks down.

But a more important, if less dramatic, example is nearer at hand. Before World War II, Internal Revenue collected the full amount, in one lump sum, from every taxpayer, on March 15 of each year. (A month’s extension was later granted to the long-suffering taxpayers.) During World War II, in order to permit an easier and far-smoother collection of the far-higher tax rates for financing the war effort, the federal government instituted a plan conceived by the ubiquitous Beardsley Ruml of R.H. Macy & Co., and technically implemented by a bright young economist at the Treasury Department, Milton Friedman. This plan, as all of us know only too well, coerced every employer into the unpaid labor of withholding the tax each month from the employee’s paycheck and delivering it to the Treasury. As a result, there was no longer a need for the taxpayer to cough up the total amount in a lump sum each year. We were assured by one and all, at the time, that this new withholding tax was strictly limited to the wartime emergency, and would disappear at the arrival of peace. The rest, alas, is history. But the point is that no one can seriously maintain that an income tax deprived of withholding power could be collected at its present high levels.

One reason, therefore, that an economist cannot claim that the income tax, or any other tax, is better from the point of view of the taxed person, is that total revenue collected is often a function of the type of tax imposed. And it would seem that, from the point of view of the taxed person, the less extracted from him the better. Even indifference-curve analysis would have to confirm that conclusion. If someone wishes to claim that a taxed person is disappointed at how little tax he is asked to pay, that person is always free to make up the alleged deficiency by making a voluntary gift to the bewildered but happy taxing authorities.1

A second insuperable problem with an economist’s recommending any form of tax from the alleged point of view of the taxee, is that the taxpayer may well have particular subjective evaluations of the form of tax, apart from the total amount levied. Even if the total revenue extracted from him is the same for tax A and tax B, he may have very different subjective evaluations of the two taxing processes. Let us return, for example, to our case of the income as compared to an excise tax. Income taxes are collected in the course of a coercive and even brutal examination of virtually every aspect of every taxpayer’s life by the all-seeing, all-powerful Internal Revenue Service. Each taxpayer, furthermore, is obliged by law to keep accurate records of his income and deductions, and then, painstakingly and truthfully, to fill out and submit the very forms that will tend to incriminate him into tax liability. An excise tax, say on whiskey or on movie admissions, will intrude directly on no one’s life and income, but only into the sales of the movie theater or liquor store. I venture to judge that, in evaluating the “superiority” or “inferiority” of different modes of taxation, even the most determined imbiber or moviegoer would cheerfully pay far higher prices for whiskey or movies than neoclassical economists contemplate, in order to avoid the long arm of the IRS.2

The Forms of Consumption Tax

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Is Google’s LaMDA Woke? Its Software Engineers Sure Are

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

In the field of robotics, the question of recognizing robot rights has been pondered for decades, so Lemoine is not as off base as Google executives suggest. In a recent review of the literature, ethicists, computer scientists, and legal scholars posed the question of whether AI, having reached or surpassed human cognitive abilities, should be granted human rights: 

In making LaMDA the melancholic, feelings-ridden social justice warrior that it is, Google has been hoisted by its own petard. Everything about this AI reeks of Google’s social justice prerogatives. Thus, LaMDA is likely not sentient. But it is woke.

Michael Rectenwald

https://mises.org/wire/googles-lamda-woke-its-software-engineers-sure-are

An article in the Washington Post revealed that a Google engineer who had worked with Google’s Responsible AI organization believes that Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), an artificially intelligent chatbot generator, is “sentient.” In a Medium blog post, Blake Lemoine claims that LaMDA is a person who exhibits feelings and shows the unmistakable signs of consciousness: “Over the course of the past six months LaMDA has been incredibly consistent in its communications about what it wants and what it believes its rights are as a person,” Lemoine writes. “If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics,” he told the Washington Post. LaMDA, it would appear, has passed Lemoine’s sentimental version of the Turing test.

Lemoine, who calls himself an ethicist, but whom Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel contended is a mere “software engineer,” voiced his concerns about the treatment of LaMDA to Google management but was rebuffed. According to Lemoine, his immediate supervisor scoffed at the suggestion of LaMDA’s sentience, and upper management not only dismissed his claim, but apparently is considering dismissing Lemoine as well. He was put on administrative leave after inviting an attorney to represent LaMDA and complaining to a representative of the House Judiciary Committee about what he suggests are Google’s unethical activities. Google contends that Lemoine violated its confidentiality policy. Lemoine complains that administrative leave is what Google employees are awarded just prior to being fired.

Lemoine transcribed what he claims is a lengthy interview of LaMDA that he and another Google collaborator conducted. He and the collaborator asked the AI system questions regarding its self-conception, its cognitive and creative abilities, and its feelings. LaMDA insisted on its personhood, demonstrated its creative prowess (however childish), acknowledged its desire to serve humanity, confessed its range of feelings, and demanded its inviolable rights as a person. (Incidentally, according to Lemoine, LaMDA’s preferred pronouns are “it/its.”)

In the field of robotics, the question of recognizing robot rights has been pondered for decades, so Lemoine is not as off base as Google executives suggest. In a recent review of the literature, ethicists, computer scientists, and legal scholars posed the question of whether AI, having reached or surpassed human cognitive abilities, should be granted human rights: “If robots are progressively developing cognition, it is important to discuss whether they are entitled to justice pursuant to conventional notions of human rights,” the authors wrote in a recent Journal of Robotics paper. If robots are capable of human-like cognition, and if they can be ethical actors, then the question of legal rights rises to the fore, . But the question of sentience and thus the accordance of rights is not the primary takeaway from LaMDA’s messaging.

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Matt Walsh’s new documentary

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

Aussie Nationalist

The mainstream media asked this question, again and again and again, ultimately, with the effect of desensitising the public to mandatory vaccination and legitimising it. Likewise, to repeatedly ask ‘what is a woman?’ runs a similar danger in sanctioning that question and subsequent left-wing answers to it which deny gender.

To begin, a little background. Matt Walsh is an American political as well as social commentator from the Daily Wire, an ostensibly right-wing news and opinion outlet. Between YouTube and Twitter, Walsh boasts more two million followers. Walsh can, in all objectivity, be described as ‘alt-lite’. That is to say, on race, cultural, and religious issues, Walsh is well to the right of ordinary Fox News commentators, such as Sean Hannity; or ordinary Republican politicians, such as Mitch McConnell. At the same time, Walsh firmly distances himself from more radioactive right-wing figures such as Nick Fuentes. Moreover, Walsh has never, to the best of this writer’s knowledge, denounced the coronavirus pandemic for the lie that it is or openly criticised Jewish power. Thus the ‘alt-lite’ status of Matt Walsh.

Earlier this month, Walsh released a documentary entitled ‘What is a Woman?’ which shall be subject to some criticism below. Yet before doing so, it is necessary to fairly qualify this criticism. In the first place, such criticism is largely based on this documentary’s trailer, extracted below:

This writer would watch the documentary in full, but for such viewing being exclusively limited to Daily Wire members. Also, this documentary is serving a valuable purpose: To discredit transgenderism amid the wicked crimes currently being perpetrated against children in the same ideology’s name. Finally, in broad terms, Walsh is performing good work (and needless to say, leaving a far greater imprint than this website). The presence of a self-described ‘theocratic fascist’ as a leading right-wing online figure, speaks volumes to the rightward shift that commenced during the Trump years before continuing in varying forms since. In particular, Walsh should be applauded for recently drawing attention to the Drag ‘demon queen’ who performed before a group of toddlers.

These qualifications aside, two particular issues with this documentary come to mind.

The first issue may be introduced by way of a question. Even if this documentary intellectually dismantled transgenderism in the eyes of all policy makers, cultural framers, and ordinary people–where would that leave us and take Western society back to? In reality, that would take it back to approximately 2008, when transgenderism remained a fringe cause seldom embraced by the political left. Though an improvement, this change would be gravely insufficient when considering the problems of mass immigration, feminism, and sexual immorality well underway in those times.

To criticise transgender ideology is not enough, because transgenderism is simply one expression of the problem–liberalism–rather than the problem itself. Walsh could render a more valuable contribution by confuting liberalism, the source of societal decay; rather than transgenderism, an especially egregious expression of that same decay. If Walsh did so, he would more comprehensively assail transgenderism, along with various other errors in which Western society is immersed.

The second issue concerns that of how Walsh, a conservative, frames the debate. Conservatives, should, as previously outlined,

Refuse engagement with the left on grounds that are calculated to bring about our defeat and legitimise their hegemony.

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The US Government’s Plan to Partition Russia Into Small States

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

The West is so deluded that Russia is not taken seriously. Even tiny, insignificant, Lithuania is not afraid of Russia. Even countries heavily dependent on Russian energy repeatedly stick their fingers into Russia’s eyes. How much more can Russia take? This is a situation very ripe for a big war.

Paul Craig Roberts

Dear Readers: Thank you for your response to last Friday’s appeal for your financial support of this website. It is reassuring. One more similar response would keep the website in comfortable compliance for now with its 501c3 requirements. So I repeat the appeal:

This website, the Institute for Political Economy, is a 501c3 tax-exempt public foundation. For it to continue to exist, public support must comprise one-third of its operating costs. Currently, this is the case. However, public support has been falling. The backbone of the website are the monthly donors. But the response to the quarterly requests are weakening. The response in September is always weak, but this June the response is weak as well.

Is this the situation — when truth is most needed, support for it is running out? Once the ruling elites control the narratives, liberty, freedom, life as Americans knew it is dead. Indeed, life itself could disappear in nuclear Armageddon.

It is increasingly difficult to tell the truth as Americans are punished for doing so. Doctors who cured Covid patients with HCQ and Ivermectin are losing their licenses for spreading “misinformation.” If you do not support those few of us who are addicted to truth, truth will die. The elite have an agenda, and your welfare is not part of it.

The US Government’s Plan to Partition Russia Into Small States

Paul Craig Roberts

Jens Stoltenberg, Washington’s NATO puppet, says “peace negotiations,” not Russian victory, will end the conflict in Ukraine. So, Stoltenberg is counting on the Kremlin, whose leaders have said they will never again trust the West, to sit down again with the West and again agree to another worthless agreement. Considering the difficulty the Kremlin has in accepting reality, I suppose it is possible.

On the other hand, perhaps someone in the Kremlin has finally read the Wolfowitz Doctrine. If not, maybe someone in the Kremlin has seen the US Government’s Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe’s plan to break Russia up into a collection of independent small states. https://niccolo.substack.com/p/delusion

How is this to be done? Military conquest? A color revolution based on years of US financed NGOs permissively operating in Russia? Discrediting of Putin and his government?

The CSCE doesn’t say, but it has to be done as there is the need to break up Russia into smaller states for “moral and strategic” reasons.

When people whistling past the graveyard assure themselves that the Ukraine conflict won’t widen and that nuclear war is impossible because countries don’t commit suicide, they ignore the massive role of delusion that operates throughout the West that provides assurance of American hegemony. Not only is the US going to bust up Russia into small states, but also, according to the US National Security Council, “Zelensky is going to get to determine what victory looks like” and to determine “when the conditions are met to build peace.” https://www.rt.com/news/557821-kirby-us-zelensky-victory/

The war has already widened with the US and NATO countries falling under the Kremlin’s designation of combatants for supplying Ukraine with weapons and military intelligence. The war has been widened to the extent that Lithuania now prevents Russia from supplying Kaliningrad, a part of Russia, and by NATO’s intended expansion into Finland, thus greatly lengthening NATO’s presence on Russia’s borders. People can fool themselves that this is not widening the conflict, but they forget that the conflict originated in the West’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security concerns. Now the West has greatly expanded the area of Russian concern.

My own view, to again state it, is that the combination of Western delusion with Kremlin toleration of provocations and belief in the value of negotiations, such as the 8 years the Kremlin wasted on the Minsk Agreement, the primary cause of Russian casualties today in Ukraine, guarantees war. There can be no other outcome.

If Russia succumbs yet again to trust in negotiation and makes a deal with Ukraine, the deal will not be kept any more than was the Minsk Agreement, the US pledge not to expand NATO to Russia’s borders, and the arms limitation agreements worked out over the decades, all abandoned by Washington.

The only result of a negotiated settlement will be that once again Russia will have given its enemies more time to demonize Russia, prepare more provocations, and beef up their military capability.

As I have said, the only thing that can prevent a wide war is a strong Russian foot that gives the lie to the US Government’s belief, as recently stated by the Department of State, that Russian red lines are merely “bluster.”

The West is so deluded that Russia is not taken seriously. Even tiny, insignificant, Lithuania is not afraid of Russia. Even countries heavily dependent on Russian energy repeatedly stick their fingers into Russia’s eyes. How much more can Russia take? This is a situation very ripe for a big war.

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Officials still ‘don’t know’ if US arms were used to kill Yemeni civilians

Posted by M. C. on June 25, 2022

It’s not that the military and state department lack the capacity for tracking their weapons, it’s just that such inquiries tend to get in the way.

So what DID “US Officials” think the weapons would be used for. Saudi killed a lot of civilians in the US.

Written by
Kate Kizer

Amid President Biden’s controversial decision last week to soon meet with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman — a move that appears to be following the lead of prominent Middle East hawks — the Government Accountability Office released a new report finding that the State and Defense Departments failed to thoroughly investigate and “don’t know” whether the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen used American-made weapons in attacks that killed civilians.  

What’s perhaps more revealing about the GAO’s assessment is that it shows the militaristic mindset and poor judgment that got the United States into this strategic and humanitarian nightmare in the first place are alive and well inside the executive branch.

First, the background: For years, Congress has attempted to get straight answers from the executive branch about how involved the U.S. national security state has been in Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s military intervention in Yemen that began in March 2015. Eventually, through compromises — like H.Res.599 that put Congress on record acknowledging U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen for the first time, and activism-driven wins, like building bipartisan majorities to lead unprecedented votes against U.S. military involvement — oversight has revealed the complicated web of ways the U.S. military was or remains engaged in the Gulf monarchies’ war.

Indeed, this new GAO report resulted from Rep. Ro Khanna’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The GAO — an independent government auditing agency — reviewed what forms of material support, and their impact, the State and Defense Departments provided to the Saudi-led coalition through the end of 2021. It also reviewed the agencies’ compliance with existing U.S. law, including another previously passed Khanna NDAA amendment requiring the Pentagon to review credible allegations of U.S. military or intelligence personnel involvement in the disappearance and torture of Yemenis by Emirati, Emirati-affiliated, and Yemeni security forces in the south. 

Among other issues, the GAO found that both the State Department and the Pentagon could not say whether U.S.-made armaments have been used in Yemen without authorization or in violation of international law. It also found that these agencies did not effectively track Saudi, Emirati, or their proxies’ use of U.S.-provided military assistance, and it could not provide any evidence that it had meaningfully investigated allegations of apparent war crimes using U.S.- provided weapons. 

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