MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

America, We Have To End the Wars Now – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2020

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide.

https://original.antiwar.com/scott/2020/03/31/america-we-have-to-end-the-wars-now/

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide. It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people’s enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana’a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda’s side against them. So the war is genocide and treason.

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he’s doing it for the money. That’s right. And he’s just recently sent the marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to “get along with Russia,” and buy natural gas from them, while Trump’s government does everything in its power to prevent it.

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia’s western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world’s worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted, Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War. Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically, even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude. Communism really doesn’t work. And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it. But as Cato’s Doug Bandow says, we don’t even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn’t make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it? The “threat” of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there’s no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei. Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that’s their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that’s it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they’ve already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point, of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders’ wars rage on.

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well. As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley, World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies. That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what’s left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas “commitments” and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been. We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before. We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results.

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

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America Has Come Full Circle in the Middle East – Defense One

Posted by M. C. on February 1, 2020

In US interventionist foreign policy circles this is considered progress.

Eisenhower hastily convened a meeting with his top national-security advisers on the day of the Iraqi king’s downfall. John Foster Dulles, a consummate Cold Warrior and the U.S. secretary of state at the time, argued that a failure to heed Chamoun’s call would signal to the Soviets that the United States wasn’t ready to take risks for its allies, and would thus mean “the decline and indeed the elimination of our influence—from Indonesia to Morocco.”

More than half a century later, the future of the United States’ military presence in the Middle East is once again up for discussion, as Iraq calls on the U.S. to end its roughly 5,000-strong troop presence in the country and Trump struggles to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan as well. U.S. politicians are now grappling with the possibility of a post-American period in the region.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/01/america-has-come-full-circle-middle-east/162655/?oref=d-river

“We are opening a Pandora’s Box,” Dwight Eisenhower warned when he ordered the first U.S. combat mission in the region. Little did he know how right he would be.

In 1958, U.S. leaders stood at the threshold of an American era in the Middle East, conflicted about whether it was worth the trouble to usher in.

A year earlier, in the context of the emergent Cold War and fading British and French power in the region, Dwight Eisenhower had articulated and received congressional approval for what became known as the Eisenhower doctrine. The United States had for the first time staked out national interests in the Middle East—oil, U.S. bases and allies, Soviet containment—and declared that it was prepared to defend them with military force.

Sixty-two years before President Donald Trump dispatched a drone to Baghdad to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, this is how American combat missions in the post–World War II Middle East began.

Eisenhower felt compelled to issue his doctrine following a showdown over the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, an Arab nationalist whom U.S. officials perceived as allied with the Soviet Union. The U.S. president had pledged to honor requests for American military assistance by countries facing aggression from proponents of “international communism.”

That U.S. commitment was tested when insurrectionist Iraqi army officers executed their country’s last king, the Western-friendly Faisal II, in Baghdad in the summer of 1958. Camille Chamoun, the Christian leader of Lebanon and an opponent of Nasser, asked for American aid against the backdrop of the coup in Iraq and looming civil war in his own country. (The revolution in Iraq had little connection to Nasser, but the U.S. didn’t initially grasp that.) In keeping with the grand domino theorizing of that period, U.S. officials worried that if they didn’t act decisively, U.S. partners such as Lebanon and Jordan would be next to fall to Nasserite nationalism and, by extension, Soviet communism.

Eisenhower hastily convened a meeting with his top national-security advisers on the day of the Iraqi king’s downfall. John Foster Dulles, a consummate Cold Warrior and the U.S. secretary of state at the time, argued that a failure to heed Chamoun’s call would signal to the Soviets that the United States wasn’t ready to take risks for its allies, and would thus mean “the decline and indeed the elimination of our influence—from Indonesia to Morocco.” In a calculation that has been turned on its head today, the president maintained that “to lose this area by inaction would be far worse than the loss in China, because of the strategic position and resources of the Middle East.” His team insisted that the U.S. was on sound footing to intercede militarily in another country’s civil war, because Lebanon’s president had invited them in, a poignant point to read today as Iraqi officials seek to kick the U.S. military out of the country in retaliation forSoleimani’s killing. As for intervening in Iraq as well, Eisenhower, a celebrated World War II general who was typically cautious about taking military action, dismissed the notion as unworkable. In an illustration of just how new all this was to Americans, Eisenhower’s speech announcing the operation included a geography lesson, noting that Lebanon was “a small country, a little less than the size of Connecticut” and that Iraq was “nearby.” He was also mindful of the risks. “I realize we are opening a Pandora’s Box here,” a jumpy Eisenhower told Britain’s equally nervous prime minister on the eve of deploying the Marines to Lebanon.

The episode and its aftermath are essential to understanding how the United States went from being deeply apprehensive about getting involved militarily in the Middle East to conducting more military interventions there than in any other region in the world. The trajectory of U.S. involvement is one of American leaders gradually putting stock in their ability to achieve their objectives through discrete military action and then investing everything in costly military misadventures, to the point that we’ve come full circle: The American public and its leaders are profoundly ambivalent about even limited and critical missions, such as the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Even in 1958, now-familiar patterns of military intervention in the Middle East were evident. Though he advocated for a troop deployment to Lebanon, for example, Dulles warned that the United States was entering a situation in which “it will be easy to get ourselves involved, and very hard to get out.” Then, as now, military inaction was equated with the United States renouncing its interests in the region. “We must act [in Lebanon], or get out of the Middle East entirely,” Eisenhower told his aides, presenting a stark choice that Trump is surely acquainted with. Then, as now, the White House debated whether it needed congressional authorization for its combat operations. Then, as now, U.S. leaders offered the public misleading justifications for their use of force; Eisenhower greatly inflated the situation in Lebanon to be about avoiding another world war by refusing to appease the Soviet Union, when it mostly had to do with internal Lebanese politics.

Despite Eisenhower’s soaring rhetoric, the actual U.S. objective was narrow in scope: to prop up a friendly government. And that goal was achieved with surprising ease. Dulles had predicted that the military intervention would generate blowback, such as an oil crisis as Egypt and its ally Syria retaliated against commercial infrastructure, or “a wave of anti-Western feeling in the Arab world.” Yet when hundreds of U.S. marines came ashore in Beirut on July 15, 1958—backed up by three aircraft carriers and dozens of warships in the Mediterranean Sea, plus the threat of the U.S. deploying nuclear weapons from Germany—they were greeted merely by sunbathers and vendors on the beach. U.S. diplomats soon negotiated a political settlement that eased Chamoun out of power. American forces, eventually numbering in the thousands, left the country in October after suffering only one fatality, from sniper fire, during the three-month deployment. They got in easily, they stabilized the situation, and they got out easily.

More than half a century later, the future of the United States’ military presence in the Middle East is once again up for discussion, as Iraq calls on the U.S. to end its roughly 5,000-strong troop presence in the country and Trump struggles to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan as well. U.S. politicians are now grappling with the possibility of a post-American period in the region.

Though Eisenhower and his advisers couldn’t have known it at the time, their swift, successful operation would prove the exception rather than the rule. “Subsequent American combat missions in the Middle East would not be so lucky or so cost-free,” Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, has written. “The wars in Iraq have now seemingly become endless.”

In the years following the campaign in Lebanon, Iran underwent an Islamic revolution, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and violent Sunni Islamist movements rose up—all seismic developments that encouraged the United States to double down on its investments in the Middle East. By the ’80s, Washington had created a combatant command for the greater region and unveiled the Carter doctrine to defend Persian Gulf partners. The U.S. came to view Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq as its top threat after the Soviet Union collapsed, and George H. W. Bush’s carefully calibrated multinational military operations to reverse Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait arguably represented the height of U.S. military competence in the Middle East.

In the space of a decade and two Bush presidencies, however, the United States veered into a major debacle in Iraq. James Jeffrey, now Trump’s special representative for Syria, noted in a 2016 study that after the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush decided not to manage the challenges to U.S. interests in the region, as his predecessors had done for the past three decades, but to try to eliminate those challenges altogether. Through its post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq, the Bush administration attempted not only to root out hostile regimes but also to fundamentally remake the region in a manner consistent with U.S. interests and values.

Bush, of course, failed in spectacular fashion to achieve that transformation. Barack Obama, who ran for president in part to remedy those failures, mostly maintained America’s security architecture in the region and sought (largely unsuccessfully) to overhaul America’s role in the Middle East without resorting to military force. Trump, by contrast, has been willing to use limited military force, but has also demonstrated little interest in effecting any change in the region beyond retiring the United States as a security guarantor. Ultimately, he wants out.

And even if Trump doesn’t get his way entirely, he will undoubtedly seize on additional opportunities to reduce the American military presence in the Middle East, as fed-up Americans and progressive presidential candidates push in the same direction. When Eisenhower elected to open that “Pandora’s Box” back in 1958, his justification was that it would be “disastrous” if “we don’t.” Perhaps nothing signals the coming post-American era in the Middle East more than the fact that so many U.S. leaders these days fear the disastrous consequences of leaving the box open.

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Suez Crisis | Middle East [1956] | Britannica.com

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Another Crisis in the Middle East – When Will We Ever Learn?

Posted by M. C. on January 9, 2020

https://boydcatheyreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/

by Boyd Cathey

Friends,

Qasem Soleimani is dead, his life snuffed out by missiles shot from American drones which targeted his convoy near Bagdad International Airport. By all accounts this man, in many ways the second most important figure in Iran, was the mastermind of numerous violent actions—we call them “terrorist” acts—throughout the Middle East, and very likely was indirectly (maybe directly) responsible for the deaths of dozens of Americans in the region, at least if we can believe our discredited intelligence agencies (it’s ironic that most of those who rightly indict these agencies for their anti-constitutional attempts to “take out” President Trump, now enthusiastically embrace the assessments of those very same agencies when it comes to Iran).

And now the Iranians have reacted directly by firing ground-to-ground missiles aimed at Iraqi army bases; from reports no Americans, military or civilian, were killed or injured in these attacks. That may or may not indicate a particular strategic calculation on the part of the Iranians. Indeed, if this should be the only major response to Soleimani’s death it may—underline “may”—indicate an implicit desire to lower the level of high stakes hostilities…and a realization that the United States under President Trump is unlike previous American administrations. After all, Soleimani was arguably the most powerful and most significant military leader in Iran; the Iranians, given his death, had to react. As our leaders recognized, that was certain, and the attacks by the Iranians did not come as a surprise.

But now that this is done, multiple questions arise.

Watching “Fox & Friends” this morning there appeared former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and newscaster Brian Kilmeade, all a-twitter—almost in a frenzy—talking about “regime change” in Iran, about a “future strategy” to “take out” the regime in Tehran, about a Middle East strategy of total American involvement which takes hardly any account of the fall of Soviet Russia or the sorry record of repeated American disaster in that region of the world (e.g. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, etc.).

President Trump ran for office on a platform of strategic disengagement from many areas of the world, the draw-down of American troops, including from the immense and complex quagmire of the Fertile Crescent.

The fall of Communism in late 1991 as a world threat radically altered global politics. Winst0n Churchill once described Soviet Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”; if that was the case with Communist Russia, it certainly describes tenfold the situation in places like Iraq or Syria…

But American interests in this case do not coincide with the interests of either Israel or with the Neocons policy wonks who zealously continue to push what they call “democratic regime change” (at the price of thousands of dead Americans). Since 1991 that has been attempted too many times with horrendous results. It is not in the interest of the United States.

No; we have made our point in Iraq. We need now to find a way to withdraw our troops from that nation whose parliament just asked us to leave (Iraq is, after all, a sovereign nation). Our invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, while presented as necessary by the G. H. W. Bush administration was a tragic mistake, based on faulty and contrived intelligence. Yes, he was a cruel dictator, but he was a Sunni Muslim (who favored Iraq’s large Christian population) and a staunch opponent of Iran. What we “achieved” by that invasion was rule by a fanatical Shi’a majority, favorable to Iran…just the reverse that those think-tank ensconced Neocon “experts” and advisers promised us. And with dozens of body bags on their way back to American shores.

Let us hope that America will now finally come to its senses.

Let us pray that President Trump will honor his campaign promises…

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Iran's female skier blazes a trail to Pyeongchang | Iran ...

 

 

 

 

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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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A Giant Beset by Pygmies | Chronicles Magazine

Posted by M. C. on December 20, 2019

In sharp contrast, as early as 1989 Francis was telling us that, “Globalization doesn’t mean that America will prevail, but that it will vanish among the electrons and laser beams by which the planet is to be held together.”

https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2019/December/43/12/magazine/article/10847254/

by Tom Piatak

Most newspaper and magazine articles are forgotten not long after they appear. Does anyone read the 25-year-old columns of Norman Podhoretz, William F. Buckley, or Richard John Neuhaus for insight into current events? It therefore tells us something when First Things prints a 20-page essay about a political journalist who has been dead for almost 15 years. This person, we learn, “won almost no access to major conservative outlets” in life, and indeed was “purged and marginalized.” It tells us even more when the journal running this long essay rarely agreed with the subject during his life. Thus, whatever else it may be, First Things’ lengthy essay on Sam Francis must be regarded as proof that he remains relevant to contemporary debate, and was what many readers of Chronicles knew he was: a genius.

The essay’s author, Matthew Rose, says as much. He describes Francis’ posthumously published Leviathan and Its Enemies as “the most ambitious book by an American conservative in the last quarter-century.” Rose also admits that Francis accurately predicted our current political situation. “His hope for a conservatism rooted in economic nationalism and cultural populism is no longer difficult to imagine,” Rose writes. Francis described “the new right-wing parties coming into view across the Western world.”

Rose also recounts how Rush Limbaugh read portions of Sam’s essay “From Household to Nation” from the March 1996 Chronicles 20 years after its publication, and “hailed it as the Trumpist manifesto that no one, including the candidate, had been able to formulate.” Rose, to his credit, has called attention to a thinker who continues to resonate on the right.

While Francis was being “purged and marginalized,” the editors of Commentary, National Review, and First Things were maintaining that America should use its military power to spread “democracy” around the globe, particularly in the Middle East, while welcoming globalization in the form of free trade and mass immigration. These positions reflected a belief that America wasn’t a real country inhabited by a real people, but a mere incubator of ideas, and its people were worthwhile only insofar as they embodied neoconservative ideas.

As a result of such profoundly misguided thinking, thousands of American lives were lost and hundreds of billions of American dollars were wasted on pointless wars in the Middle East, Read the rest of this entry »

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Doug Casey on Trump… and an Impending Civil War? – Casey Research

Posted by M. C. on November 4, 2019

A fairly accurate assessment of Trump and our military, in my opinion.

https://www.caseyresearch.com/daily-dispatch/doug-casey-on-trump-and-an-impending-civil-war/

By

Chris’ note: Chris Reilly here, managing editor for Casey Daily Dispatch.

A couple of weeks ago, I flew out to Aspen, Colorado to catch up with legendary speculator and bestselling author Doug Casey.

It was a fantastic trip. I asked Doug about everything from technology… to the economy… and the resurgence of gold.

Doug also shared his thoughts on President Trump… and more importantly, what could be in store for America.

Like usual, Doug didn’t hold anything back. Today, I want to share our discussion with you…

Read on for this week’s special Conversations With Casey…


Chris: Doug, you predicted that Trump would win the election long before most people even thought he had a chance. Now, almost three years in, how would you rate his presidency?

Doug: Well, on the one hand Trump is a good thing simply because he’s not one of the lunatic fringe Democrats. He’s a cultural traditionalist at heart; he wants to see the US return to the “Leave It to Beaver” days of the 1950s. That’s essentially why he was elected, and why he’s still so popular. Despite the fact he’s culturally conservative, he has no core values. He runs strictly on gut feeling. He has no central philosophy or intellectual beliefs. It’s just whatever seems like a good idea at the time. He knows a lot about real estate speculation on high leverage. But he knows absolutely nothing about economics.

Let’s look at the good and the bad things about Trump.

Cultural conservative. That’s good in a time when the US is in a state of cultural turmoil, where the old order is being overthrown – which it is. Not so long ago, the country that was composed of white Christian people of European origin; it was quite homogeneous. And if you’re going to have a country, it’s good to be homogeneous.

Since the late ‘60s, however, the US has been inundated with migrants from all over the world; it’s no longer homogeneous. It no longer has real cultural traditions, and the remaining ones are being abolished, like Columbus Day recently. Columbus is no longer the discoverer of America so much as the oppressor of native peoples.

One major change is that Americans no longer share a common religious tradition. Say what you want about Christianity – and I’m not a religious person – but it was something Americans could share, that they had in common. But it’s no longer a major element; the US is becoming like Europe that way. That’s important because Christianity provided a broad moral framework. Now there’s a vacuum. It may be filled by Mohammedanism, especially since so many migrants take that creed seriously. Churches will be replaced by mosques in many places.

There’s no longer any kind of trust in the culture in general. And certainly not in the government. The only thing that Americans still trust – the only institution they still have any respect for – is the military. And that’s extremely dangerous because as Edward Gibbon said, regarding the Roman Empire and their military, “any order of men accustomed to slavery and violence make for very poor guardians of a civil constitution.” Nonetheless, I don’t doubt one or both parties will put up a general as the Greater Depression reaches a climax.

Of course Trump loves the military, which is natural for a statist. But the good news about Trump is that he also apparently sees all the pointless foreign wars are just making lots of enemies while they bankrupt the country. He’s trying to get the troops out of the Middle East quagmire; better late than never, although he’s been very, very slow about this. If he finishes that, maybe he’ll get them out of the new quagmires that are building up in Africa, and then start closing the 800 bases around the world, which serve no useful purpose besides feeding the Deep State. I don’t believe he’ll succeed, however. Warmongers are in total control in Washington.

So let’s put it this way. Trump has some real pluses, but no philosophical center. Politically he’s a statist. Economically, he doesn’t have a clue. In fact, he’s looking for more money creation, and lower or negative interest rates. Which is going to add flames to an absolutely catastrophic depression.

I appreciate his trying to stem mass migration, so what’s left of America can retain its cultural core. But his efforts are like building a sand castle on the sea shore. The waves are going to wash it away for all kinds of reasons. A pity, really. Minneapolis will resemble Mogadishu, Miami might resemble Port au Prince more than even Havana, El Paso will be like Juarez, and Cleveland like Karachi. But things change. The colors of the map on the wall are running more than has been the case since the barbarian invasions of the 5th century.

Chris: What do you have to say about the political landscape right now as we head into the 2020 election season?

Doug: Trump’s acting as a catalyst for something resembling an actual civil war in this country. And I’ll draw your attention to the fact that the unpleasantness of 1861 to 1865 was not, in fact, a civil war. It was a war of secession, which is very different from a civil war. In a war of secession, one group simply wants to part company from another – not rule them. In a civil war, on the other hand, you’ve got two or more groups that are fighting for control of one government. That wasn’t the case in the War Between the States…

The US could easily break up.

People say, “Well, what about our military, our defense?” The point I’d make is that the military is the second biggest thing, after welfare, that’s bankrupting the country. That’s number one.

Number two, they’re not defending the country. They’re actually drawing in outside attacks by going out and making enemies all over the world. The natives don’t like our soldiers in their countries any more than we’d like their soldiers in the US.

Number three, all our expensive high-tech weapons – F35s, B2s, aircraft carriers, and the rest of it… are basically junk. They’re going to be almost worthless in what resembles World War III, whatever that might look like. New technologies are going to totally obviate this crap, much more seriously than cavalry in World War I, which turned out to be worthless, or battleships in World War II.

When the military fails, it’s going to be a big disuniting influence for the US. Only a teeny-weeny portion of the American population knows anything about the military anymore. They’re isolated from it, even though they’ve been programmed to love and respect it. The military have, at the same time, become like a separate culture within the culture. Military guys hang out just with each other, not with civilians. Just like cops hang out just with each other, not with the people that they police. Most cops today, incidentally, are also ex-military. Another bad trend.

There’s a great deal more to be said about all this, but the purpose of this interview was just to touch on a few high points.

Bottom line? Trump has his hands full.

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What Should We Learn from 40 Years of U.S. Intervention in the Middle East? | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on November 3, 2019

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/what-should-we-learn-40-years-us-intervention-middle-east-41542

The presence of America’s vaunted military cannot necessarily shape the political orientation and structure of societies.

…These criticisms fail to take stock of the lessons that emerge from forty years of U.S. military action in the greater Middle East region. The presence of America’s vaunted military cannot necessarily shape the political orientation and structure of societies. Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious examples. Unrivaled American military power also has failed to contour the decisions of other actors in the theater. The United States failed to sufficiently influence the behavior of sectarian actors in Lebanon during its expedition there. The United States has failed to change Iranian foreign policy even after decades of relative military encirclement. Even after inflicting arguably the most humiliating and decisive military victory in modern history, American soldiers watched from just beyond the border as Saddam defied Washington and violently cracked down on Kurdish and Shia uprisings.

The notion that the United States could use its control on the north to shape the postwar Syrian state and expel Iran has always been a theoretical concept with no clear path to implementation.  In fact, many of the forces that have been deemed Iranian-backed are composed of Syrian citizens. Where would they be expelled too? Most likely, Damascus and its allies will work to secure the rest of the country while waiting America out. The simple fact that has been determinative to much of the conflict is that countries like Iran and Russia have more vital interests in Syria than a faraway superpower.

Others argued that Trump’s “strategy of retreat” from Syria, as the New York Times’ David Sanger called it, will result in chaos and terrorism as the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq did. Mimicking Bush administration talking points, Sanger claimed that “deployed forces are key to stopping terrorists before they reach American shores.” Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official and Clinton acolyte, took this line of reasoning to its natural conclusion. He wrote that, “[u]ltimately, the answer in the Middle East is to stay, but in a smaller more sustainable and cheaper way. We may need to have a few thousand troops in some of the various trouble spots in the region such as northeastern Syria for years to come. Their job will not be to ‘win’ but simply to muddle through.” Retired Marine General John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, argued that “U.S. global leadership and, where necessary, its forces” are needed in ISIS-influenced territory across Asia and Africa “until the idea of the caliphate has been defeated.”

ISIS was quickly defeated because its messianic state building delusion deprived it of strategic flexibility. In having to defend fixed positions, its forces could not focus on the kind of asymmetrical strategies that have been so effective for non-state actors in the region. What’s left of it has already made clear it will not make the same mistake. But indefinite American military occupation of broad swaths of the Middle East is not a simple antidote to anti-U.S. militant action or chaos. In fact, the connective tissue between many of non-state actors is aggressive opposition towards the influence or direct or indirect military presence of the United States or its key allies. A diverse array of non-state actors including Hezbollah, the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Iraq have strengthened or even been established under the noses of American soldiers and marines. In fact, the Sunni Arabs of northern Syria are already chafing under heavy-handed America-enabled Kurdish rule—even “ethnic cleansing”—and the long-term continuation of this trend will invite trouble.

One oft-cited criticism was that it was a betrayal of the very Kurdish group in question. “The West owes them a debt for the price they’ve paid,” argues an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. The Kurdish groups in northern Syria, the YPG, decried the original decision as a “blatant betrayal.” But the sponsor-client relationship is inherently bidirectional; they form due to convergences of interests. The Kurds fought ISIS because it posed an existential threat to their communities, not as an expression of loyalty to America. ISIS had once pushed the Syrian Kurds all the way to the Turkish border at many points, and in Iraq, they came close to sacking Erbil.

The overzealous alliance reinforcement ethos that permeates Washington and demands every strategic cooperation be treated as a treaty alliance (or an emotional commitment) demanding America’s unrestricted moral fidelity to the demands and ambitions of the client, is neither necessary for alliance management nor in keeping with U.S. interests…

Moreover, why shouldn’t public opinion be a factor in American military decisionmaking? Due to a series of reasons, such as its military prowess and providential location, America faces little in the way of existential threats and, therefore, can entertain a spectrum of options on how to address interests and security challenges. A de facto occupation of one-third of Syrian territory was never the only or the obvious course of action…

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The U.S. Dilemma in the Middle East Isn’t Really a Dilemma – LobeLog

Posted by M. C. on September 25, 2019

https://lobelog.com/the-u-s-dilemma-in-the-middle-east-isnt-really-a-dilemma/

by Lawrence Wilkerson

The Persian Gulf and its entryway, the Strait of Hormuz, have been a cockpit of U.S. strategic interest since President Jimmy Carter declared, in his January 1980 State of the Union address, that “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America…” Today, however, a different waterway is swiftly becoming the Persian Gulf’s equivalent, if not surpassing it.

The Red Sea’s Importance

It is the Red Sea and its entryway, the Bab el-Mandeb (“Gate of Tears”), though which more than half the world’s most important commerce—from fossil fuels to Chinese toys—flows. That waterway is the object of significant strategic cooperation and competition among the U.S., China, France, Japan, India, Turkey, and others, and its flanks are home to tumultuous conflicts or potential conflicts such as those in Sudan, Somalia, and the bugbear of them all, Yemen. Daily, refugee flows out of Yemen alone generate crime, dislocation, and death. But the flow of refugees out of Yemen is nearly matched by the flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa, who arrive seeking employment in the Gulf states and as refugees from conflicts in eastern Africa, such as in Somalia. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, these flows have helped push the total number of refugees in the world from 65 million to 70 million.

Moreover, while Iran has been—according to the U.S. and its regional allies—the primary threat to Persian Gulf commerce in oil and gas, the multi-state presence in the Red Sea area presents a kaleidoscopic array of potential contenders. Nowhere perhaps is this array more instantly visible than in the tiny East African state of Djibouti, where as one U.S. Marine put it recently, “deploy one more trooper to Djibouti and it might sink.” And he didn’t mean just a U.S. “trooper,” because there are French, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese forces there as well. One can imagine how the government of Djibouti plays off these states against one another to get the best possible deals for itself.

In addition to the military forces semi-permanently stationed in Djibouti, the region is also home to an almost constant presence of several navies. These were once led by the multilateral and seemingly semi-permanent anti-piracy task force established as Operation Ocean Shield (U.S./NATO), which lasted from its creation in 2009 to its stand-down in 2016. More than two dozen nations, from NATO and elsewhere—including, prominently, India—participated. Today, absent the task force, piracy is picking up again.

Beyond anti-piracy, the U.S. Navy has several reasons for its continued presence in the Red Sea, ranging from general Freedom of Navigation Operations (FON) to anti-Iran patrols. The latter are aimed primarily at arms smuggling under the aegis of the alliance of convenience between Tehran and the rebel Houthis fighting—and winning—in Yemen.

The most recent major state to arrive in the Red Sea area with an interest beyond simply commerce is one of the most powerful of the NATO states—though a bit wayward in that regard of late—Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. It seems in some respects and in some quarters that such a move on Turkey’s part might signal a “return of the Ottomans,” a disturbing development for most regional players who have a knowledge of history as well as an inkling of the struggle in the Islamic world—at least the Middle Eastern portion—among several state powers for the moniker of “the leader of Islam.”

As if this cocktail of state interests and powers were not sufficient, transnational criminal elements are finding the area highly conducive to their interests, whether the illicit traffic is in people, drugs, or arms. In the case of the arms trade, a new development is “toy pistols.” These are purchased as non-lethal arms—thus quite easily bought, shipped, and received—and then later reworked to be quite lethal weapons. The surmise by experts is that mostly individual civilians are purchasing such arms, individuals not very confident of their security in some of the area states, such as Ethiopia and Eritrea.

All Eyes on Yemen

At the moment, almost every state in the region (as well as the larger powers) is focused, to an extent at least, on the conflict in Yemen as the most destabilizing situation in the Red Sea area. They are correct…

But this isn’t a game or a bet. This is America’s real security. In the Middle East and the Red Sea area, it is past time to make a choice. The right and strategically sound choice is to end U.S. support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, then use that pressure to forge politically and swiftly an end to that war—and, if need be, to write off the Saudis if that is what they choose in the aftermath.

Political and moral courage coupled with diplomatic skill are the requirements of the day.

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Iraqi Archbishop: ‘Extinction Is Coming’ for Christians in Middle East

Posted by M. C. on August 8, 2019

“Fundamentally, in the eyes of Islam, Christians are not equal.

Our Middle Eastern friends.

The same ones that created 9/11.

The same ones the US finances and supplies arms.

The same ones the US government looks the other way for and US soldiers get punished for trying to prevent them performing this.

Look cross-eyed at a Muslim in the US and you are branded.

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/08/08/iraqi-archbishop-extinction-is-coming-for-christians-in-middle-east/#

by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil offered a grim prediction for the future of Christianity in the Middle East, saying recurring Islamic purges will inevitably lead to the extinction of Christians.

Although the Islamic State invasion of Iraq in 2014 led to the displacement of more than 125,000 Christians from historical homelands and despoiled the Christian community of homes, employment, and churches, this event was far from unique, Archbishop Warda told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need this week.

“This was an exceptional situation, but it’s not an isolated one. It was part of the recurring cycle of violence in the Middle East over more than 1,400 years,” he said, which is leading to the gradual eradication of Christians from the area.

“With each successive cycle the number of Christians drops, till today we are at the point of extinction,” Warda said. “Argue as you will, but extinction is coming, and then what will anyone say? That we were made extinct by natural disaster, or gentle migration? That the ISIS attacks were unexpected, and that we were taken by surprise? That is what the media will say.”

“Or will the truth emerge after our disappearance: that we were persistently and steadily eliminated over the course of 1,400 years by a belief system which allowed for recurring cycles of violence against Christians, like the Ottoman genocide of 1916-1922,” he declared…

There have been indeed been periods of Muslim tolerance of Christians in the area, Warda declared, but violent persecution always returns.

These moments of toleration “have been a one-way experience: Islamic rulers decide, according to their own judgment and whim, whether Christians and other non-Muslims are to be tolerated and to what degree,” the archbishop said. “It is not, and has never, ever been a question of equality.”

“Fundamentally, in the eyes of Islam, Christians are not equal. We are not to be treated as equal; we are only to be tolerated or not tolerated, depending upon the intensity of the prevailing jihadi spirit,” he said.

“The root of all of this is the teachings of jihad, the justification of acts of violence,” he said…

The archbishop’s view of the future for Christians in the Middle East is not a hopeful one, unless Islam undergoes major internal changes. And in his mind, the West is complicit, for its failure to take anti-Christian persecution seriously.

“When the next wave of violence begins to hit us, will anyone on your campuses hold demonstrations and carry signs that say, ‘We are all Christians?’” he asked. “And yes I do say, the ‘next wave of violence,’ for this is simply the natural result of a ruling system that preaches inequality and justifies persecution.”

“The equation is not complicated,” he said.

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Pence Promises Combat to West Point Class – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on May 27, 2019

Madeleine Albright – What is the point of having an army if you can’t use it.

https://news.antiwar.com/2019/05/26/pence-promises-combat-to-west-point-class/

“It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen,” Vice President Mike Pence told the most diverse graduating class of West Point on Saturday, “Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.” This speech comes just a day after the Pentagon confirmed 1,500 more American troops will be deployed to the Middle East.

“Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere … When that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns.” Pence warned the 980 newly commissioned second lieutenants. We know Pence spoke with Juan Guaido the night before he declared himself President of Venezuela almost igniting a civil war in the country. Guaido has since had several failed attempts to overthrow Maduro, it seems the only way to get Maduro out of power would be with an invasion of a US coalition. Let’s hope Pence doesn’t get his wish of this class serving in our hemisphere.

Pence went on, “As you accept the mantle of leadership I promise you, your commander in chief will always have your back. Mr. Trump is the best friend the men and women of our armed forces will ever have.”

If President Trump was truly the best friend of the men and women of our armed forces, 1,500 more of them would not be on their way to the Middle East right now. He would actually have ended our wars in Syria and Afghanistan like he said he was going to. The 2019 class included 233 women and 110 African Americans. How about we don’t celebrate this diversity by sending them off to die in pointless wars Mr. Vice President?

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