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3 Tallest Biden Tales on Foreign Policy | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 14, 2020

The Iraq War vote

The raid on Osama bin Laden

An Afghanistan war story

A lying politician. Not fake news, just old news.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/three-of-bidens-all-time-tall-tales-on-foreign-policy/

The former vice president has made a habit of distorting his national security record and telling stories that just aren’t true.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., ranking Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations, during an interview in his office about the possibility of war with Iraq, and Secretary of State Colin Powell’s intelligence briefing of the United Nations Security Council earlier today. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Former vice president Joe Biden has spun his foreign policy bona fides for the better part of two decades in order to make them fit with the political zeitgeist. Now, as he nears the Democratic nomination, it’s time for the media to take a closer look.

With that in mind, here are three of Biden’s most outrageous distortions of his national security record.

The Iraq War vote

Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he voted to give President George W. Bush the broad authority to go to war in Iraq. But he didn’t just vote for the war—he helped sell it to the American public, even though the majority at the time did not support taking immediate military action.

As Tara Golshan and Alex Ward explain:

Biden bought into the Bush administration’s argument. He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press. And in the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction.

Biden even praised Colin Powell’s notorious United Nations Security Council speech, saying, “I think Secretary Powell made a very powerful, and I think irrefutable, case today.”

“President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11,” Biden said in a 2002 floor speech. “He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress. At each pivotal moment, he has chosen a course of moderation and deliberation…in each case in my view he has made the right rational calm deliberate decision.”

On October 11, 2002, the Democratic Senate passed the resolution for authorization of use of military force in Iraq by a vote of 77 to 23, with Biden voting yes.

Just hours before the invasion, on March 19, 2003, Biden told CNN, “I support the president. I support the troops. We should make no distinction. …Let’s get this war done.”

“We voted to give [Bush] the authority to wage that war. We should step back and be supportive,” he said.

But when asked about his Iraq vote during the July 2019 Democratic debate, Biden stated: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ [the invasion of Iraq] started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress.”

Biden repeated the claim that he was against the war “immediately, the moment [shock and awe] started” again during an interview on NPR on September 3, 2019.

Biden didn’t actually call the war a “mistake” until 2005—not because he thought his vote for it was wrong, but because in his estimation we should have sent more troops: “We went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.” Of course by that time, American support for the invasion had also dropped off precipitously.

Now, in his 2020 bid for the presidency, Biden continues to offer “jumbled Iraq war revisionism.” “Yes, I did oppose the war before it began,” Biden said at a September 6 campaign event. During the Democrats’ September debate, he claimed he only voted for the war authorization “to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons.”

Biden frequently conflates his Iraq vote with the issue of inspections, as if it was necessary to approve the AUMF in order to guarantee those inspections. It was not, and the timeline bears that out. Almost a month before Biden’s pro-war vote, in September 2002, Iraq said it was willing to allow in inspectors without conditions. Those inspections began in November. There were several senators who, unlike Biden, voted against the Iraq war while also arguing for the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.

The raid on Osama bin Laden

When President Barack Obama sought advice on whether to carry out the raid that ultimately found and killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Biden advised him not to strike because he felt the U.S. needed more information.

Vouching for Obama’s stellar “instincts” when he retold the moment to Democratic colleagues at their congressional retreat in 2012, Biden said:

[When he] got to me, he said, “Joe, what do you think?” And I said, “You know, I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table.” I said, “We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”

Obama’s then-White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Biden was “speaking accurately” at the retreat about what had taken place in 2011.

By 2015, Biden had changed his story about that fateful 2011 meeting, claiming that “it would have been a mistake” to offer an opinion in front of the group, and that instead of saying to go or not go, he privately advised Obama to “go.”

Biden has continued to proffer this revised account, as recently as January of this year, despite the fact that it is contradicted by senior Obama officials, including none other than Hillary Clinton in her book Hard Choices and former CIA director Leon Panetta in his book Worthy Fights.

In January, Biden was asked by Fox News: “As commander in chief, if you were ever handed a piece of intelligence that said you could stop an imminent attack on Americans—but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terrorist leader—would you pull the trigger?”

Biden replied: “Well we did—the guy’s name was Osama bin Laden.”

“Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden that day?” Fox News asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Biden said.

An Afghanistan war story

Biden has misstated multiple key facts in a war story that he’s repeated on several occasions, according to The Washington Post:

Joe Biden painted a vivid scene for the 400 people packed into a college meeting hall. A four-star general had asked the then-vice president to travel to Konar province in Afghanistan, a dangerous foray into “godforsaken country” to recognize the remarkable heroism of a Navy captain.

Some told him it was too risky, but Biden said he brushed off their concerns.

“We can lose a vice president,” he said. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.”

The Navy captain…had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back. Now the general wanted Biden to pin a Silver Star on the American hero who, despite his bravery, felt like a failure. He said, “Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!” Biden said, his jaw clenched and his voice rising to a shout. “Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!” …”This is the God’s honest truth,” Biden had said as he told the story. “My word as a Biden.”

The problem with Biden’s moving account is that, as the Post puts it, “almost every detail in the story appears to be false” and that Biden seems to have “jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”

Biden did visit Kunar province in 2008, but as a senator, not as vice president. Twenty-year-old Army specialist Kyle J. White, not a Navy captain, performed the rescue. And Biden did not pin the medal on White; then-president Obama did six years after Biden’s trip.

In one short story, Biden managed to be wrong on the time the event took place, the location, the person being honored, the rank and branch of the military the honoree belonged to, the type of medal awarded, the heroic act itself, and his own role in the event.

Unlike Brian Williams’ “I was there” Iraq account and Hillary Clinton’s claim to have “landed under sniper fire” in Bosnia, both tales that exaggerate the tellers’ heroism, it is muddier what Biden’s mixed-up, mish-mashed Afghanistan account was supposed to achieve. The most charitable take may be that it is simply a result of his alleged cognitive decline.

The same cannot be said for his record, however. Unlike his plagiarism, Biden’s foreign policy decisions had far-reaching, devastating, international consequences. If he becomes president, that will be doubly true.

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Quincy Conference: A ‘Seat at the Table’…or a Kick in the Teeth?

Posted by M. C. on March 6, 2020

But nothing could be further from the truth. Out of 22 speakers there was not a single non-interventionist in the line-up.

The Republican, Arizona’s Andy Biggs, made the absurd and laughable claim that Juan Guaido was “rightfully elected” president of Venezuela and therefore it is legitimate for the US to install him in office. Though he didn’t say “Guaido” because he clearly did not even know they guy’s name. And as we know, Guaido never even ran for president in Venezuela – he was named president by Mike Pence!

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/march/05/quincy-conference-a-seat-at-the-tableor-a-kick-in-the-teeth/

Written by Daniel McAdams

his article originally appeared as a special update to RPI subscribers. Subscribe for free here.

I hesitate to write this, as I am a fan of the Libertarian Institute. But one of their recent articles has me scratching my head. And though I have never named them before in a critical piece, I notice that one of my articles is linked in their article so I believe I should set the record straight because the topic is so critically important to our movement.

The article in question, “The Quincy Institute: Off to a Decent Start,”  heaps praise on the Koch/Soros collaboration for its first conference, inaccurately titled, “A New Vision for America in the World.”

From the first sentence of the Libertarian Institute article it is clear there is something very wrong with the piece.

It begins, “Non-interventionists are not used to having a seat at the power table.” The implication is clear: with this conference non-interventionists have finally been given their “seat at the power table.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Out of 22 speakers there was not a single non-interventionist in the line-up. So, even though the table was absurdly large, there were still no seats for non-interventionists. Not. One. Seat.

And we are supposed to cheer?

Unfortunately, the piece was littered with some assertions that frankly are hard to explain. For example, the author, in responding to criticism over the speaker line up (where he links to my article on the topic), explains the abysmal selection of speakers by claiming, “The event was pitched as a forum between the Quincy Institute and Foreign Policy…” (emphasis added).

But that is simply not true. Nowhere in the promotional materials on either the Foreign Policy or Quincy website was this conference billed as a debate between Quincy and Foreign Policy magazine, with one favoring “restraint” and the other pushing the status quo. It was billed as a jointly hosted “leadership forum on the future of US foreign policy and national security.”

The whole “this was a debate between FP and Quincy” is revisionism in response to the outcry over the choice to feature the unreconstructed epitome of the “old vision” – David Petraeus – as the lead speaker facing no scrutiny or opposition. As if Quincy had no power to reject the inclusion of Petraeus in its own conference.

Further attempting to exculpate the Quincy Institute for any responsibility over the line-up, the author writes, “Quincy was discernably the junior partner in the conversation.”

Based on what evidence? Presumably being backed by moneybags Koch and Soros, the Quincy Institute picked up the lion’s share of the tab for the event. How does that make one a “junior partner”? More accurately it would suggest they are either grossly incompetent or in on the scam.

And while we’re at it, if you are seeking to launch a “new vision” for US foreign policy, why partner with a magazine that endorsed the bloodthirsty warmonger Hillary Clinton for president in 2016?

Don’t like Trump? Fine. Don’t endorse anyone.

Though it has received less scrutiny, it is worth mentioning that the other major backer for this event was the Pivotal Foundation. For those unfamiliar with that organization, it is among the single largest financial backers of…the McCain Institute! Yes…that McCain.

So we have an event funded by two huge backers of the warmongering Atlantic Council (Koch and Soros) and a major funder of the neoconservative McCain Institute. We have as “senior partner” in the conference a publication that endorsed for president the instigator of the murderous Libya invasion and the author of the plan to arm jihadists in Syria. It is a conference that features not a single non-interventionist on a single panel. Yet we are supposed to jump up and cheer because we finally have a place at the table?

Are we really that desperate for a pat on the head from the Beltway bombardiers and their think tanks?

The author does not go into the actual presentations at the conference beyond the Petraeus debacle, but it isn’t difficult to see that even the “best” speakers are, at best, self-described “realists.”

On the panel ostensibly to demonstrate that “left wing” Members of Congress are getting together with “right wing” Members to push non-interventionism we are treated to the display of BOTH Members of Congress agreeing that Venezuela’s president was a monster who had to go! That’s the real bipartisanship in Washington.

The Republican, Arizona’s Andy Biggs, made the absurd and laughable claim that Juan Guaido was “rightfully elected” president of Venezuela and therefore it is legitimate for the US to install him in office. Though he didn’t say “Guaido” because he clearly did not even know they guy’s name. And as we know, Guaido never even ran for president in Venezuela – he was named president by Mike Pence!

Biggs then further shows his utter ignorance of a country where he seeks US regime change by stating, “I view Maduro as the legitimate leader” before being corrected by a member of the audience and, clearly embarrassed, laughing it off.

This is the best argument for non-intervention: the people “in charge” have no idea what they are dealing with (and the people under them know exactly what they are dealing with).

Realists are not strategic allies of non-interventionists. There may be some tactical alliances on specific issues where there is the joint intent of sucking the oxygen out of the room on a particular intervention, but we should not forget that “realists” believe strongly in US government interventionism overseas. They only quibble with the neocons over the criteria. If it’s “in the national interest” they are all for it. But who gets to determine the “national interest”? Well they do, of course. And as ever check their funders to determine their interpretation of the national interest.

The neocons are Trotskyites determined to use force to remake the entire world in their image. Realists are for the use of force to affect outcomes determined by the masters of the Grand Chessboard.

To paraphrase Michael Malice, realism is just neoconservatism driving the speed limit.

The purpose of the Quincy conference was not to promote non-interventionism. Not a single non-interventionist was allowed to speak. Worse, actual non-interventionists were not welcome even in the audience. Genuine antiwar activist and intellectual Ray McGovern was denied entry to the event because presumably they could not bear having anyone with a history of challenging “King David” Petraeus on his murderous record.

The purpose was, as I said in my original piece, to serve up the old wine of a disastrous foreign policy in the new bottles of “restraint” and other meaningless wooden language phrases. One speaker even expressed the view that we should stop calling war “war” because it implied that there should be an end to the use of US military force overseas!

So this conference was “a good start” for non-interventionists? What’s their next act…a keynote from Bill Kristol?

As Ron Paul has always said, this is at its core a philosophical question. It is not about compromising one’s values or principles. We must stand strong against US government interventionism overseas. Full stop. Anything less and we are, like the Quincy Institute, merely providing cover for the continuation of Washington’s disastrous and anti-American foreign policy.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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David Petraeus and the Art of Staying the Same | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/david-petraeus-and-the-art-of-staying-the-same/

David Petraeus hasn’t changed a bit.

There was some vexation over his invitation to speak at today’s Quincy Institute/Foreign Policy conference, considering the event, entitled, “A New Vision for America in the World” was widely seen as a coming out of sorts for the ascendent restrainers and non-interventionist movement in Washington. Quincy, having brought together the powerhouse backers of both the Koch and Soros orbits, is in a way a manifestation of this moment, and a real Left-Right alignment against the old world order.

In response to some of the negative Petraeus buzz, some suggested that his presence might indicate that he is “coming around” to the new foreign policy approach, that the place to be right now is among a growing consensus against endless, expeditionary wars, and for rethinking our role in the world.

His remarks Wednesday, however, put that rosy notion to rest, quick.

In short, the “sycophant savior” believes the U.S. still needs to be deployed abroad (including Afghanistan) to control terrorism; we “almost always have to lead,” and yes, this “campaign” can be forever, as long as we are willing to spend the blood and treasure to sustain it.

And he really, really doesn’t like the word “interventionism.”

“Are we ‘intervening’ by having 30,000 troops in Korea? What do you mean by intervention?” he quipped to Jonathan Tepperman, editor of Foreign Policy, who had gently raised the idea that the American public was ripe for new non-interventionist approaches. It was Petraeus’s first flash of real personality in the 30-minute exchange, but it came off a bit testy. He ticked off a few other “endless” (and ultimately positive) U.S. occupations, including Germany and Japan. The usual jive, and a non-starter with this crowd—they’d heard that tune before.

Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be about a “new vision for America in the world”? The problem with Petraeus, a former general and CIA director who spent years around yes-men and failed up into a lucrative consulting career for the military industrial complex, is that he hasn’t had to be “new” at anything. Like Wednesday, he sprinkles a few anecdotes about being “downrange” in the last six years of his military career, and how “nobody wants to end endless wars more than those who have been fighting endless wars,” before offering assessments and solutions that are barely distinguishable from what he has prescribed for audiences over the last decade. More importantly, there is no sense of enlightenment or growth. Just a stubborn adherence to the status quo.

His “big ideas” amount to the same old dogma. If we leave Afghanistan it will create a haven for terrorists. Like Iraq. Then we’ll have to do something about it. “The problems just don’t go away.”

“Generally the U.S. has to lead,” he said, because we spend more and have superior capability than anyone else in the world. He talked about global drone surveillance, like a paternalistic watchman in the sky. “Having said that, we have to have allies, coalitions… And we want Muslim coalitions. This is a fight for the heart of the Muslim world, this is an existential struggle.”

And, “you cannot counter terrorists with just counterterrorism operations.” There has to be a “comprehensive civilian-military campaign,” although “host nations” will be doing all the fighting and negotiating. In other words, we’ll continue to put our troops and contractors in vulnerable positions in places where really angry people want to kill us, begetting more angry people who want to kill us the longer we have a presence there, while pouring all of our resources down an interminable black hole. But if we don’t lose a lot of guys and no one feels the pinch in the pocketbook, “then people will regard it like the long commitment we’ve had in Korea.”

Was he so elevated at the end of his career, so disconnected that he did not see the devastating toll the multiple deployments had taken on our armed forces? Does he not acknowledge the PTSD, the toxic exposures, the brain injuries? The painful family separations? Sure the military has “sustained” its tempo over the years, but at what cost to the rank-and-file?

“I was wondering when he was going to say something ‘new,’ something we haven’t heard in the last 20 years,” charged Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spoke after Petraeus had made a beeline for the door, no time for questions from the audience. Khanna, unlike the man once referred to as “King David,” has only grown in stature as he has found common ground with other restrainers across the spectrum over the last two years. He even spoke at TAC’s foreign policy conference in 2018. And he stayed for questions.

There seems to be no other explanation for Petraeus’s presence here other than he provided a good foil for the non-interventionists who followed—Khanna, Will Ruger, Mark Perry, and others. We suppose someone thought he added a sheen to the proceedings, though there was really no opportunity for a “debate” as suggested. His appearance took place in a carefully controlled format—a “conversation” opposite a sympathetic host (Tepperman) who actually spent time afterwards “clarifying” some the ex-general’s comments for the audience (he’s a general, “not a politician”). Cue laugh track.

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here. He knew what we wanted to hear, and he couldn’t say it. It will take a very long time for someone like him to come over to our way of thinking (if ever) because his very identity, his livelihood, is tied to the old order and any new approach that would cut off lifeblood to his world is a threat.

There are countless men and women just like Petraeus in Washington. Quincy will have a hard time winning them over. And maybe that doesn’t matter, just as long as they know, at some point, that a new vision, is winning. His hasty exit today suggests that at some level, he knows that already.

UPDATE 2/27 : This Free Beacon article notes that Petraeus’s remarks drew serious fire from members of the Quincy Institute as well, and appears to confirm my own suspicions, that the ex-general was brought in by the Foreign Policy magazine partner, not Quincy.

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How the US Wages War to Prop up the Dollar | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on January 13, 2020

America’s hatred of Iran starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil.

https://mises.org/power-market/how-us-wages-war-prop-dollar

Ryan McMaken

At Counterpunch, Michael Hudson has penned an important article that outlines the important connections between US foreign policy, oil, and the US dollar.

In short, US foreign policy is geared very much toward controlling oil resources as part of a larger strategy to prop up the US dollar. Hudson writes:

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

The actual context for the neocon’s action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

Basically, the US’s propensity for driving up massive budget deficits has created a need for immense amounts of deficit spending. This can be handled through selling lots of government debt, or through monetizing the debt. But what if there isn’t enough global demand for US debt? That would mean the US would have to pay more interest on its debt. Or, the US could monetize the debt through the central bank. But that might cause the value of the dollar to crash. So, the US regime realized that it must find ways to prevent the glut of dollars and debt from actually destroying the value of the dollar. Fortunately for the regime, this can be partly managed, it turns out, through foreign policy. Hudson continues:

The solution [to the problem of maintaining the demand for dollars] turned out to be to replace gold with U.S. Treasury securities (IOUs) as the basis of foreign central bank reserves. After 1971, foreign central banks had little option for what to do with their continuing dollar inflows except to recycle them to the U.S. economy by buying U.S. Treasury securities. The effect of U.S. foreign military spending thus did not undercut the dollar’s exchange rate, and did not even force the Treasury and Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to attract foreign exchange to offset the dollar outflows on military account. In fact, U.S. foreign military spending helped finance the domestic U.S. federal budget deficit.

An important piece of this strategy has been a continued alliance with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia maintains the world’s largest capacity for oil production, and it was the largest single producer of crude for most of the period from the mid-1970s to 2018, when the US surpassed both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Middle East Is More Stable When the United States Stays Away

Posted by M. C. on January 8, 2020

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/06/the-middle-east-is-more-stable-when-the-united-states-stays-away/?utm_source=Trita+Parsi&utm_campaign=bf1a8aed42-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_06_09_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bf648b5618-bf1a8aed42-274183893&mc_cid=bf1a8aed42&mc_eid=ba0ace703b

By
 
t has been a mantra of U.S. foreign policy for a decade or more that, without the United States, the Middle East would descend into chaos. Or even worse, Iran would resurrect the Persian Empire and swallow the region whole.

Yet when U.S. President Donald Trump opted not to go to war with Iran after a series of Iranian-attributed attacks on Saudi Arabia last year and declared his intentions to pull troops out of the region, it wasn’t chaos or conquest that ensued. Rather, nascent regional diplomacy—particularly among Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—and de-escalation followed. To be sure, the cards were reshuffled again in January, when Trump ordered the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, one of Iran’s most important military figures. Courtesy of Trump, the region is once more moving toward conflict, and the early signs of diplomatic progress achieved during the preceding months have vanished.

 

It is thus time for Washington to answer a crucial question that it has long evaded: Has America’s military dominance in the Middle East prevented regional actors from peacefully resolving conflicts on their own? And in that way, has it been an impediment to stability rather than the guarantor of it?


Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a new doctrine: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region,” he stated, “will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” In the context of the Cold War, preventing the Soviets—the main outside force Carter was worried about—from gaining control over the energy-rich region had a strategic logic.

But over time, that logic shifted. In the 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan expanded the doctrine to include threats to the flow of oil originating from inside the region, too. As the geopolitical context changed still further, subsequent presidents found even more ways to justify America’s growing military presence in the Middle East. What started as a policy to prevent others from establishing hegemony over the oil-rich waters of the Persian Gulf morphed into a policy of asserting American hegemony in the region in order to “save” it.

What started as a policy to prevent others from establishing hegemony over the oil-rich waters of the Persian Gulf morphed into a policy of asserting American hegemony in the region in order to “save” it.

As long as U.S. allies lack the capability or competence to secure the region, the thinking went, Washington would have no choice but to shoulder this responsibility. U.S. President George W. Bush was explicit about that; without an increase in U.S. troop levels in Iraq, he claimed, there would be chaos in the region. He missed the irony, of course, that his invasion of Iraq was the single most destabilizing event in the Middle East of the past decades. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Question that Is Never Asked About U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 19, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/laurence-m-vance/the-question-that-is-never-asked-about-u-s-military-aid-to-ukraine/

…Typical is an article on Vox that calls Trump’s suspension of military aid to Ukraine his “latest and greatest scandal.” Twice in the article the question is asked: Exactly why did Trump withhold the military aid in the first place?

This is the wrong question.

Here is a much more important question: Should the United States be giving military aid to Ukraine?

For those of us who believe that a Jeffersonian foreign policy of “peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none” is the best course for America to take, the answer is a simple one: Of course not…

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From Reagan to Obama: Secrecy and Covert Operations in the ...

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How To Make American Foreign Policy Yours – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2019

The only thing missing is mention of AIPAC.

https://original.antiwar.com/Ryan_Summers/2019/11/12/how-to-make-american-foreign-policy-yours/

Originally posted at TomDispatch.

 

“Legislation Is Prepared by Lobbyists All the Time”

Foreign powers have a remarkably direct way of making sure their voices are heard in Washington: let their lobbyists script what various members of Congress say. That may sound wild, but it’s actually commonplace. Lee Fang of the Intercept reported a typical example of this recently. He discovered that, on November 13, 2017, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, read verbatim into the congressional record a set of talking points given to his office by lobbyists working for the Saudi government…

Buying Think-Tank Thinking

Foreign powers have ample ability, through their lobbyists, to directly influence congressional legislation. They also have at least three indirect, perfectly legal avenues for trying to shift US foreign policy in their favor: think tanks, the media, and academia.

As CIP’s recent report on the influence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in America documented, lobbyists hired by foreign powers often work directly with influential think tanks to shape the narrative about the countries they represent. They meet with think-tank experts, provide them with talking points, offer research assistance, and sometimes even give them all-expense-paid trips to the country in question…

Shaping the Media Narrative

Media outlets are another prime target of foreign influence operations. Some governments, of course, run their own media outlets in America and many of these are required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. China’s CCTV and Russia’s RT, which was deemed “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet” in the Director of National Intelligence’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, are obvious examples. And, of course, foreign powers continue to engage in a number of illegal Twitter and Facebook activities meant to influence domestic politics, as well as American views of their own countries. In early November, for example, two former Twitter employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia and accessing the private information of the Kingdom’s critics in the US

Generally ignored, however, are the ways in which foreign powers often engage in legal media manipulation that neither they, nor such outlets, are required to tell viewers or listeners about. One of the most common tactics is simply to work closely with reporters covering issues of importance to them. No surprise then that the Center for International Policy’s investigations have consistently found journalists among the top targets of registered foreign agents. In some cases it’s fairly easy to see how this influence gets converted into extremely positive spin on their behalf…

Foreign Influence in the Ivory Tower

While foreign influence in Washington has consistently made front-page headlines, it’s arguably just as pervasive at American universities. Chinese influence has, for instance, garnered considerable attention in recent years. That country’s Confucius Institutes, ostensibly language and cultural centers at American colleges paid for by the Chinese government, have been the focus of eye-opening congressional investigations on the role foreign governments can play on campus. As a Senate investigation reported in early 2019, “Confucius Institute funding comes with strings that can compromise academic freedom,” allowing the Chinese government to play censor at academic conferences on US soil and even censor course materials critical of China…

Expanding the Spotlight to Perfectly Legal Foreign Influence

The scrutiny placed on malign actors like Rudy Giuliani’s associates and their alleged dealings with Ukrainian elites to compromise an American election is certainly warranted. We live in a world in which the ability of foreign powers to undermine American democracy (as this country once undermined democracies elsewhere) remains a genuine threat. Seldom, however, does anyone even think about the influence operations of foreign powers – operations that are perfectly legal and don’t garner headlines.

The American political system, which has always been vulnerable to outside influence, is arguably more susceptible to foreign meddling now than it has been in decades – and most of it is perfectly legal. From woefully inadequate disclosures regarding conflicts of interest by witnesses testifying before Congress to foreign agents filling campaign coffers and literally writing our laws, as well as influencing think tanks, media outlets, and universities, there remain a host of legal ways for foreign powers to try to bend our policies and thinking to their will. While it’s imperative that we be vigilant in rooting out illegal foreign influence, if American democracy is to remain “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” a bright light should be directed onto all forms of influence that seek to undermine it.

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In A Society Built On War, We Must Do More Than Just Prefer Peace – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2019

We live in a civilization that was built by war. A civilization that is currently propped up by war. A civilization that has its future mapped out with war as its career and war as its retirement plan. The political and economic system which dictates the way our society moves and operates has its roots sunk deep into the soil of war. The only thing separating us from the wars our government is waging in our name is physical proximity.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/10/27/in-a-society-built-on-war-we-must-do-more-than-just-prefer-peace/

American activist Angela Davis once said, “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Our responsibility to truth and justice isn’t fulfilled by merely witnessing the perverse tendency in western society toward white supremacy without participating in it, any more than our responsibility is fulfilled by merely witnessing but not participating in a gang rape. Simply choosing not to participate in a grave injustice while giving it our tacit permission to continue is insufficient, especially if the color of your skin gives you an advantage resulting from that injustice. This injustice must be forcefully opposed.

The same is true of war, which is the glue that holds together the empire which dominates our society.

There is a painfully common notion among leftists and progressives that it is perfectly acceptable to focus on domestic policy while de-emphasising the importance of foreign policy, or even ignoring foreign policy entirely. Politicians can generate immense support for themselves simply by promoting decent domestic policies while maintaining foreign policy that is not terribly distinct from the CIA/CNN mainstream consensus. I’m not as familiar with right-wing political circles, but I gather that libertarians and other right-leaning anti-interventionists often encounter a similar deprioritization of sane foreign policy.

War is the worst thing in the world. In terms of death, destruction and suffering caused to human beings, nothing else comes close: it’s just the absolute worst thing. It is worse than economic injustice. It is worse than racism. It is worse than sexism. It is worse than homophobia and transphobia. It is worse than draconian drug policies and immigration policies. All of those things are bad. War is worse. The politics of anyone who claims to care about people should reflect this.

If you don’t think that war is the worst thing in the world, it’s only because you haven’t looked closely enough at exactly what it is and how it works. Wars always necessarily involve not just mountains of human corpses, but lives ruined forever, bodies ripped apart, brains permanently destroyed by neurological trauma and minds permanently destroyed by psychological trauma, millions displaced from their homes, rape and slavery and human trafficking rising exponentially in the chaos, extremist factions rising to power and inflicting unspeakable evils on people. The suffering that is inflicted by every one of these military operations which get promoted by middle-aged men in DC think tanks in a casual tone of voice with the occasional joke mixed in, the suffering is literally unfathomable.

We live in a civilization that was built by war. A civilization that is currently propped up by war. A civilization that has its future mapped out with war as its career and war as its retirement plan. The political and economic system which dictates the way our society moves and operates has its roots sunk deep into the soil of war. The only thing separating us from the wars our government is waging in our name is physical proximity.

In such a society, it is not enough to merely not be a warmonger. It is not enough to simply have a preference for peace. Our responsibility to truth and justice does not end in our non-participation in warmongering, because the wars go on regardless. In fact, those who are responsible for keeping the wars going would much prefer that we didn’t think too hard about them. Because they know that if we thought with lucid intellectual honesty about the horrors that our civilization is unleashing upon the world every single day, we would find this entire system intolerable.

It is the responsibility of anyone who wants to be a good person, anyone who wants to be a just person, anyone who wants to be a truthful and authentic person to stand in ferocious opposition to this system. To look closely at what’s being done by your government and its allies overseas, to learn as much as you can about it, and to oppose it loudly and forcefully. This is more important than any other political agenda you could possibly fight for. If you don’t undertake it you have no basis on which to call yourself a good person, a just person, or a truthful or authentic person. You’re just another tacit facilitator.

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Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The Untold Story of the Trump-Ukraine ‘Scandal’: The Routine Corruption of US Foreign Policy – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on September 28, 2019

This fundamental corruption of U.S. foreign policy, which includes overthrowing elected governments, is matched only by the corruption of a political system that exalts partisan political power above all else. Exposing this deep-seated and longstanding corruption should take precedence over scoring partisan scalps, whether Biden’s or Trump’s.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/09/26/what-isnt-mentioned-about-the-trump-ukraine-scandal-the-routine-corruption-of-us-foreign-policy/

By Joe Lauria

The most crucial aspects of the Trump-Ukraine “scandal,” which has led to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, are not being told, even by Republicans.

Trump was very likely motivated by politics if he indeed withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev launching an investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, though the transcript of the call released by the White House between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelinsky does not make certain such a quid-pro-quo.

But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream is the context of this story, which shows that, politics aside, Biden should indeed be investigated in both Ukraine and in the United States.

We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in “midwifing” the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

That’s the biggest crime in this story that isn’t being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government.

As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.

A family friend of then Secretary of State John Kerry also joined Burisma’s board. U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto got a Ukrainian contract soon after the overthrow.  And the first, post-coup Ukrainian finance minister was an American citizen, a former State Department official, who was given Ukrainian citizenship the day before she took up the post.

After a Ukrainian prosecutor began looking into possible corruption at Burisma, Biden openly admitted at a conference last year that as vice president he withheld a $1 billion credit line to Ukraine until the government fired the prosecutor. As Biden says himself, it took only six hours for it to happen.

Exactly what Biden boasted of doing is what the Democrats are now accusing Trump of doing, and it isn’t clear if Trump got what he wanted as Biden did.

Threats, Bribes and Blackmail

That leads to another major part of this story not being told: the routine way the U.S. government conducts foreign policy: with bribes, threats and blackmail.

Trump may have withheld military aid to seek a probe into Biden, but it is hypocritically being framed by Democrats as an abuse of power out of the ordinary. But it is very much ordinary.

Examples abound. The threat of withholding foreign aid was wielded against nations on the UN Security Council in 1991 when the U.S. sought authorization for the First Gulf War. Yemen had the temerity to vote against. A member of the U.S. delegation told Yemen’s ambassador: “That’s the most expensive vote you ever cast.” The U.S. then cut $70 million in foreign aid to the Middle East’s poorest nation, and Saudi Arabia repatriated about a million Yemeni workers.

The same thing happened before the Second Gulf War in 2003, as revealed by whistleblower Katharine Gun (who will appear Friday night on CN Live!). Gun leaked an NSA memo that showed the U.S. sought help from its British counterpart in signals intelligence to spy on the missions of Security Council members to get “leverage” over them to influence their vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

In 2001 the U.S. threatened the end of military and foreign aid if nations did not conclude bilateral agreements granting immunity to U.S. troops before the International Criminal Court.

More recently, the U.S. used its muscle against Ecuador, including dangling a $10 billion IMF loan, in exchange for the expulsion of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy.

This is how the U.S. conducts “diplomacy.”…

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One Flow Chart Perfectly Sums Up the Truth About U.S ...

 

 

 

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Trump, the New York Times, and John Bolton – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2019

Bolton’s best-known policies have been to bomb Iran and replace the Mullahs with a US puppet government; turn Venezuela into an American oil well; exit the UN; and start World War III

We are well rid but Bolton’s opinion on one thing has always been correct.

Dump the UN.

https://original.antiwar.com/david-bromwich/2019/09/11/trump-the-new-york-times-and-john-bolton/

The New York Times on September 10 ran six articles with the word Trump in the headlines. Two of the stories were clearly warranted – one on Trump’s continuing resolve to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, and one on the way the commerce department played along with Trump’s false message about the Alabama destination of the recent hurricane. The other stories were tabloid-fodder.

Then midday September 10 came the news that John Bolton had been sacked. That deserved a story, so it was fair to predict the Times would run three: one on the event, one on the history of a memorable relationship, and one on “possible consequences.”

The Times on September 11 ran four stories on Bolton. News analysis on page one, by Michael Crowley and Lara Jakes, opened with this sentence: “On one foreign policy issue after another, John R. Bolton was the in-house skeptic who checked President Trump’s most unorthodox instincts.” The word unorthodox is doing a lot of work there. It would be truer to say that Trump cut down Bolton’s most dangerous initiatives: for example his idea of starting a war with Iran by an immediate violent retaliation after the bloodless downing of a US surveillance drone.

Was John Bolton a “skeptic”? An “adult in the room”? Bolton’s best-known policies have been to bomb Iran and replace the Mullahs with a US puppet government; turn Venezuela into an American oil well; exit the UN; and start World War III soon while the US can win (if we don’t tie our hands). And meanwhile withdraw from none of the following countries: Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan…

Bolton was originally appointed by Trump at the request of the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. It was Bolton’s advocacy of Israeli expansion, and his detestation of the very idea of a Palestinian state, that prompted both Adelson and Benjamin Netanyahu to recommend him as the the best choice for Trump’s third national security adviser…

It appears that anyone (no matter how devious and reckless) who opposes Donald Trump can now expect to be rewarded with the honorific title “skeptic” – a word often used in the past to describe a doubter rather than a fanatical supporter of an insane orthodoxy.

We are through the looking glass.

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