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Posts Tagged ‘Regime Change’

The Ukraine War Shows Nukes Mean Safety from US-Led Regime Change

Posted by M. C. on April 14, 2022

More savvy regimes have always known that nuclear arms bring independence from Washington. It’s why the French pursued their own nuclear program not controlled by the US or by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. France wanted to make its own decisions. Both India and Pakistan did not want to take orders from the US in South Asia. And they both obtained their own nuclear arsenals. 

https://mises.org/wire/ukraine-war-shows-nukes-mean-safety-us-led-regime-change

Ryan McMaken

Some journalists like Steve Portnoy of CBS seem unable to grasp that escalations that might lead to nuclear war are a bad thing. The journalist seemed incredulous last week when asking White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki why the United States has not started a full-on war with Moscow. Psaki’s position—with which any reasonable person could agree—was that it is not in the interest of Americans “to be in a war with Russia.”

Washington’s reluctance to go to war might seem odd for anyone who has paid attention to American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. After all, for more than thirty years, Washington has been enthusiastic when presented with opportunities to start wars with many countries—including the civilians who live there. Iraq has been a target twice. Washington made war on Afghanistan for more than twenty years. The US launched repeated bombing campaigns against Serbia and was happy to help bomb Libya. The US regime pushed for full-scale war with Syria, and ultimately executed a small-scale invasion. US troops are in Syria to this day. Iran has long been a target, and starting a war with Iran has long been a given, with John McCain once singing, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” But now even the White House admits war with Russia is not in the interests of “the American people.”

In the past, when the United States regime accused other regimes of war crimes and aggression, that meant regime change and war. It usually means widespread bombing campaigns against that “rogue” state’s cities, and it often even means military occupation. But now we see Washington accusing Moscow of very similar crimes, and yet no regime change is on the table.

Don’t think that foreign states haven’t noticed the abrupt change in enthusiasm over war when it comes to nuclear-armed Russia. The contrast between the US’s aversion to war with Russia and the US’s enthusiasm toward regime change in nonnuclear states, sends a clear message: states with nuclear arms won’t be targeted for regime change.

Why Regime Change Means Nuclear War

Yes, to some extent the opposition to war with Russia is due to Russia’s abilities in terms of conventional warfare. Moscow’s conventional defensive military capabilities far surpass anything that might have been used against US forces in countries like Iraq, Iran, and Syria. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Moscow’s military budget in 2020 was $66 billion. It was $12 billion in Iran during the same period. Both of these cases pale in comparison to the US’s gargantuan $700 billion–plus budget. But Russia’s conventional military can nonetheless inflict enough damage on US forces in a conventional war to the point of making such a war politically costly to prowar policymakers in the United States. But current military spending isn’t the whole story. Long-term war-making capability matters also. The total industrial capacity of the United States—thanks to remaining latent nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism—is vastly larger than anything the far more socialist state of Russia could possibly muster.

The reason the administration is minimizing even provocations of Russia, however, is Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Like the United States, Moscow controls more than five thousand nuclear warheads, and more than enough are deliverable with ICBMs.

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After Biden Sparks “Global Uproar” With Regime Change Comment, Blinken Awkwardly Tries To Walk It Back

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2022

The question remains, was this a mere “gaffe”? Anti-war journalist Michael Tracey and others say no: “Biden’s call for regime change in Russia wasn’t some off-the-cuff “gaffe.” It was declared as the climax of a carefully choreographed, “legacy-defining” speech, in a deliberately chosen venue (Poland) where the call would be well-received.

After Biden Sparks “Global Uproar” With Regime Change Comment, Blinken Awkwardly Tries To Walk It Back

Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday while on a visit to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett continued the White House’s efforts to try and clean up the mess unleashed by Joe Biden’s words from Warsaw the day prior where he issued statements tantamount to calling for regime change in Russia. 

“I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Blinken said, clearly trying to greatly alter the plain meaning of the words Biden spoke.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NrZWxldG9uX2xvYWRpbmdfMTMzOTgiOnsiYnVja2V0IjoiY3RhIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd19zcGFjZV9jYXJkIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6Im9mZiIsInZlcnNpb24iOm51bGx9fQ%3D%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1507879840099278851&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fpolitical%2Fblinken-awkwardly-tries-walk-back-bidens-regime-change-comments-putin&sessionId=bb4066b5b813b54011e1b8e8458023bc380ddb68&siteScreenName=zerohedge&theme=light&widgetsVersion=2582c61%3A1645036219416&width=550px

Biden had concluded the televised Warsaw speech by bluntly saying of Putin (who he also had called a “butcher” in a separate statement to a reporter)… “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” Within the very hour as headlines spread around the world that the US president called for regime change in Moscow, and none other than the deep state’s preferred mouthpie, the Washington Post, said Biden “sparked a global uproar“, the White House desperately scrambled to walk it back.

A White House official tried to clarify to Bloomberg, “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” But Biden appeared to be reading a carefully prepared written speech from the teleprompter. 

Blinken’s Sunday explanation of Biden’s words continued

“As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter,” the US’ top diplomat said.

“As in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russians,” Blinken said.

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The Cruel Farce of U.S. Regime Change Policy in Venezuela

Posted by M. C. on January 8, 2022

The use of broad sanctions against entire populations is inherently malign and must be brought to an end.

As a dumb kid I used to think-wouldn’t it be good to help our hemispheric neighbors advance to a level closer to the US and be more like Europe. Apparently no one else has thought the same.

https://daniellarison.substack.com/p/the-cruel-farce-of-us-regime-change

The Biden administration is continuing the farce that is our government’s regime change policy in Venezuela:

The United States continues to recognize the authority of the democratically elected 2015 National Assembly as the last remaining democratic institution and Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.  We welcome the agreement reached to extend the authority of the National Assembly elected in 2015 and of interim President Guaidó as its president.

It was a mistake to recognize Guaidó when he had some fig leaf of legitimacy three years ago, but to continue the charade now several years later when he and his allies have even less influence and standing than they did before is truly absurd. The chief problem with recognizing him as “interim” president then was that he had no effective control over the state he was supposedly leading. There was initially a belief among regime changers that defectors from the military would lend their support to the cause, but this never amounted to more than a trickle, and the few that threw in their lot with Guaidó were then left high and dry by the amateurish would-be coup attempt. Since then, the opposition has only lost ground. Fewer governments recognize Guaidó today than recognized him in 2019, and his approval rating in Venezuela is abysmally low. As Francisco Rodriguez points out, the “interim” president has no real democratic or constitutional legitimacy:

Guaidó’s claim is tenuous both legally and politically. He has never won a national election, his term as legislator expired more than a year ago, and his poll numbers are as low as Maduro’s.

In addition to lacking legitimacy, he also lacks power inside the country. The military remains firmly on the side of Maduro and his allies. U.S. regime change policy has utterly failed to reach its goal, but it has still managed to inflict horrifying damage on the population. Rodriguez continues:

The central idea of this “maximum pressure” approach – implemented by Trump and Biden both through economic sanctions and by the transfer of control of Venezuelan government funds to Guaidó’s interim government – is that depriving the country of the funds needed to sustain its economy will bring about regime change. It hasn’t, and it won’t. It will simply contribute to worsening the country’s humanitarian crisis, fuel animosity toward the United States, deepen opposition divisions, and weaken civil society.

Rodriguez has authored a new study of the effects of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s economy, and his findings make for alarming reading:

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World Braces for New Round of ‘American Leadership’ – RPI 24 Jan Update

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2021

But just as President Biden proclaimed that “America is back” at his inauguration, the rest of the world could see that “regime change is back” as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Suddenly Assad faces the prospect of a new war against him and his secular leadership and the Russians see a direct threat of a jihadist resurgence masquerading as a “democracy movement” in Syria… and beyond.

But wait…there’s more! After re-igniting the totally failed “regime change” policy in Syria, the incoming Biden Administration reignited the also utterly failed – and perhaps far more dangerous – “regime change” policy in Russia!

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/usleadership?e=4e0de347c8

Dear Friends of the Ron Paul Institute:

Say what you will about President Biden’s foreign policy team, they’re no slouches. Biden had not been president for one full day when a convoy full of military equipment and a reported hundreds of US troops rolled (illegally) into Syria from Iraq.

Readers will recall that it was the Obama/Biden Administration that came up with the brilliant idea that funding, arming, training, and equipping jihadists and terrorists in the Middle East would be a terrific way of bringing democracy to Syria.

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad faced defeat at the hands of US-backed rebels (often, as with al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda) and ISIS, he in 2015 formally requested Russian assistance. Facing the prospect of al-Qaeda and ISIS on its doorstep if they succeeded in Syria, Russia accepted the request and Assad was able to slowly regain much of Syrian territory. 

The hysterical warnings that Assad would genocide his people if he re-took control of the major cities proved to be all hot air – or more likely just pure war propaganda.

The US retained military control of parts of Syria, predominantly Kurdish areas, and proceeded to help itself to the Syrian oil in those areas. Though President Trump did order two attacks on Syria in response to bogus charges that Assad gassed his own people, he more or less gave up on the Obama/Biden “Assad must go” policy. Or at the least he was less enthusiastic about it than the neocons he put in charge of Middle East policy.

But just as President Biden proclaimed that “America is back” at his inauguration, the rest of the world could see that “regime change is back” as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Suddenly Assad faces the prospect of a new war against him and his secular leadership and the Russians see a direct threat of a jihadist resurgence masquerading as a “democracy movement” in Syria… and beyond.

But wait…there’s more! After re-igniting the totally failed “regime change” policy in Syria, the incoming Biden Administration reignited the also utterly failed – and perhaps far more dangerous – “regime change” policy in Russia!

Four years of the US mainstream media relentlessly parroting the bogus “Russiagate” narrative has resulted in many if not most Americans still believing the utterly shredded conspiracy theory that somehow former President Trump was an agent of Vladimir Putin and that the Russians were conspiring to impurify our precious bodily fluids

With the anti-Russia hysteria still – incredibly – at a fever pitch, imagine what would have happened if it came out that the Russian Embassy in Washington had posted information that made it easier for the perpetrators of the January 6th “melee at the Capitol” to launch their “insurrection” (or…as Schumer calls it), 

Anybody doubt the war drums would be at a fever pitch, particularly from the Democrat and mainstream media circles?

But that is just what the US Embassy in Moscow did for the violent anti-government protests in Russia yesterday. Though Washington has long wanted to crown the deeply unpopular Alexei Navalny the Juan Guaido of Russia, taking down the Russian government has unsurprisingly proven a bit more tricky than Hillary Clinton’s overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Honduras.

But the US Embassy, Moscow, is never discouraged by its failures. Under the guise of warning US citizens to avoid the planned demonstrations across Russia, the US Embassy published on its website all of the specific locations of the protests and the times they were to take place.

The US posting even included a strangely familiar helpful mention of a planned “march towards the Kremlin” – sounds like the “march on the Capitol” on the infamous 1/6 “insurrection day.”

Unsurprisingly, Russian officials were not amused over US officials encouraging an unauthorized protest in Moscow just a few days after those same US officials were calling for the identification and arrest of Americans participating in an unauthorized protest in the US Capitol.

Hypocrisy has always been the central organizing principle of US interventionist foreign policy. And boy it is back in vogue these days!

Oh, and the neocon buffoon Juan Guaido? The Biden Administration has announced that it will continue Trump’s boneheaded policy of recognizing the corrupt (and unelected) Venezuelan politician as that country’s legitimate president. 

Plus ça change

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : The Unwelcome Return of the Real Purveyors of Violence

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2021

Take returning Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, for example. More than anyone else she is the face of the US-led violent coup against a democratically-elected government in Ukraine in 2014. Nuland not only passed out snacks to the coup leaders, she was caught on a phone call actually plotting the coup right down to who would take power once the smoke cleared

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2021/january/18/the-unwelcome-return-of-the-real-purveyors-of-violence/?mc_cid=3bb95bc451

Written by Ron Paul

With the mainstream media still obsessing about the January 6th “violent coup attempt” at the US Capitol Building, the incoming Biden Administration looks to be chock full of actual purveyors of violent coups. Don’t look to the mainstream media to report on this, however. Some of the same politicians and bureaucrats denouncing the ridiculous farce at the Capitol as if it were the equivalent of 9/11 have been involved for decades in planning and executing real coups overseas. In their real coups, many thousands of civilians have died.

Take returning Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, for example. More than anyone else she is the face of the US-led violent coup against a democratically-elected government in Ukraine in 2014. Nuland not only passed out snacks to the coup leaders, she was caught on a phone call actually plotting the coup right down to who would take power once the smoke cleared.

Unlike the fake Capitol “coup,” this was a real overthrow. Unlike the buffalo horn-wearing joke who desecrated the “sacred” Senate chamber, the Ukraine coup had real armed insurrectionists with a real plan to overthrow the government. Eventually, with the help of incoming Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, they succeeded – after thousands of civilians were killed.

As we were unfortunately reminded during the last four years of the Trump Administration, the personnel is the policy. So while President Trump railed against the “stupid wars” and promised to bring the troops home, he hired people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to get the job done. They spent their time “clarifying” Trump’s call for ending wars to mean he wanted to actually continue the wars. It was a colossal failure.

So it’s hard to be optimistic about a Biden Administration with so many hyper-interventionist Obama retreads.

While the US Agency for International Development (USAID) likes to sell itself as the compassionate arm of the US foreign policy, in fact USAID is one of the main US “regime change” agencies. Biden has announced that a top “humanitarian interventionist” – Samantha Power – would head that Agency in his Administration.

Power, who served on President Obama’s National Security Council staff and as US Ambassador to the UN, argued passionately and successfully that a US attack on the Gaddafi government in Libya would result in a liberation of the people and the outbreak of democracy in the country. In reality, her justification was all based on lies and the US assault has left nothing but murder and mayhem. Gaddafi’s relatively peaceful, if authoritarian, government has been replaced by radical terrorists and even slave markets.

At the end of the day, the Bush Republicans – like Rep. Liz Cheney – will join hands with the Biden Democrats to reinstate “American leadership.” This of course means more US overt and covert wars overseas. The unholy alliance between Big Tech and the US government will happily assist the US State Department under Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Assistant Secretary of State Nuland with the technology to foment more “regime change” operations wherever the Biden Administration sees fit. Finish destroying Syria and the secular Assad? Sure! Go back into Iraq? Why not? Afghanistan? That’s the good war! And Russia and China must be punished as well.

These are grave moments for we non-interventionists. But also we have a unique opportunity, informed by history, to denounce the warmongers and push for a peaceful and non-interventionist foreign policy.


Copyright © 2021 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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Coming Soon to a U.S. Neighborhood Near You? Regime-Change Foot Soldiers Parading as Social Justice Warriors — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on September 27, 2020

Reading such comments almost forces one to conclude that the Democrats, at least the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party, have no illusions about Biden’s real chances for beating Trump. After all, if victory looked certain there would be no need for the threats.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/09/22/coming-soon-to-us-neighborhood-near-you-regime-change-foot-soldiers-parading-as-social-justice-warriors/

Robert Bridge
 

Is the ‘Trump regime’ about to get a taste of the color revolution tactics that America has employed in the past against “illiberal” foreign governments that refused to toe the neoliberal globalist line? It’s looking highly likely.

Despite great efforts by the mainstream media to play it down, an increasing number of Americans are being subjected to a level of aggression, intimidation and street violence that the authorities seem unable or unwilling to control. This is no accident.

Since 2016, a series of actions by the political left indicate that the chaos unfolding on the streets of America is no grassroots movement on behalf of ‘social justice,’ but rather a carefully coordinated plan to oust Trump in the event the Democrats fail to get Biden into office. Indeed, for the orchestrators of this coup, what happens on Nov. 4 is of far more relevance that what happens on Election Day.

The first sign of trouble came in 2016, when none other than George Soros began spending a king’s ransom in local judicial elections. As the Daily Signal noted, “[r]adical social justice activists will serve as the top prosecutors for three major Washington, D.C., suburbs—including the two wealthiest counties in the U.S.—after George Soros’ political action committee poured $2.1 million into ordinarily sleepy local races.”

Only a crazed conspiracy theorist, like Newt Gingrich, apparently, would see any connection between Soros supporting radical prosecutors, and his other pet project of supporting ‘social justice’ groups, like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, who occasionally find themselves in need of a sympathetic justice system. And if local courts somehow fail to catch and release the hoodlums, Hollywood has shown a disturbing willingness to write out the bail checks. The only thing the looters and ‘peaceful protesters’ need now is a government mandate that requires masks be worn in public to protect their identities, and for property owners to understand they will be prosecuted for demonstrating their 2nd Amendment rights.

 

Now that the radicals have their institutional support structure all in place, a strange yet not wholly unexpected thing is happening. Although police brutality has been occurring in the United States long Trump became president, and it effects both whites and blacks, the ‘peaceful protesters’ are venting their outrage primarily against Republicans, which the left has come to associate with ‘white supremacists’ and ‘fascism.’ This demonization of the right, which the mainstream media is happy to accentuate so long Trump is at the helm, gives left-wing groups the bare amount of legitimacy they need to carry out their activities.

By way of example, consider the way members of Black Lives Matter aggressively taunted Republicans as they attempted to leave the Republican National Convention where Trump accepted the nomination for the presidential election. As Senator Rand Paul and his wife Michele walked down the sidewalk, a frenzied mob could be heard shouting, “say her name!” in reference to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot to death by police at her home in March during a botched raid. Apparently it did not matter to the rabble, or they never knew, that Paul was responsible for filing legislation to prohibit police officers from using no-knock warrants like the one that led to the fatal shooting of Ms. Taylor.

 

Another strange coincidence for the coincidence theorists is that a number of Democrats have been calling for exactly the sort of harassment against Trump supporters that is now unfolding across the nation. In June, Maxine Waters, for example, incited her followers to “create a crowd, and you push back on them.” More recently, Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice president nominee, said in an interview with Stephen Colbert, “They [the protesters] are not going to stop before Election Day in November, and they’re not going to stop after Election Day…They’re not going to let up, and they should not, and we should not.”

Reading such comments almost forces one to conclude that the Democrats, at least the radical progressive wing of the Democratic Party, have no illusions about Biden’s real chances for beating Trump. After all, if victory looked certain there would be no need for the threats. In other words, what the Democrats are most concerned about are not the actual results of the election, which have a very high chance of being unfavorable, but rather the reaction to the results. On this point, appearances are everything. Thus the mainstream media, in cahoots with left-leaning polling agencies and colleges, have conditioned Liberals – in the very same way they did in 2016 with their hugely inaccurate polls – to believe that Biden simply cannot lose. It doesn’t require a degree in the theory of revolutions to predict how those BLM/Antifa protesters, many of whom were too young to vote in 2016, are going to react to the news of four more years of a ‘white supremacist in chief.’ Not calmly and rationally, that’s for sure. After all, we are talking about an entire generation that has graduated from Woke U. with a Marxist major in ‘American Imperialism’ and a minor in ‘Mass Destruction’.

© 2010 – 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org.

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What U.S. Troops Are Really Doing In Syria | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on September 25, 2020

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/what-us-troops-are-really-doing-syria-169410

by Michael Hall

James Mattis famously resigned from his secretary of defense post citing opposition to President Donald Trump’s order to remove U.S. troops from Syria. So it came as a mild surprise when it was recently confirmed that Mattis opposed a plan to assassinate Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria. This opposition was a prudent move as deposing Assad would not end Syria’s civil war but throw the country into deeper chaos. But this seeming incongruity of Mattis the hawk contra Mattis the dove is representative of the larger contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy.

 

These contradictions arise from the fact that U.S. policy in Syria has always been centered around opposition to Assad, rather than the defeat of ISIS, whose caliphate was destroyed long before Trump’s withdrawal order.

 

Perhaps this contradiction is most glaringly seen in the justifications Washington offers for the U.S. military presence in Syria. We are frequently told we’re there for one reason only to be given a new reason a few months later. It’s hard not to notice.

We were told the ISIS caliphate had to be defeated. But they lost their last scrap of territory in March 2019. Denied a physical base of operations, those going under the name of ISIS today are—as far as legitimate U.S. interests are concerned—indistinguishable from any other ragtag Sunni militias. But a defeated ISIS still wasn’t enough to convince Washington to withdraw.

 

ISIS’s caliphate was destroyed, completing the military mission that brought U.S. troops to the country. Why then are our soldiers still there? We’ve also been told they’re over there to counter Iran (which, by the way, had the same goal of destroying the ISIS caliphate).

 

Years ago, we were told that it’s important to be in Syria to counter Russia too. But today this mission—if it can be called that—amounts to the occasional road rage incident involving convoys representing the world’s only two nuclear superpowers pathetically struggling for space on a road or wheat field. It’s notable that this reason was recently revived to justify the decision to send more troops to Syria.

We’re also told that it’s important to support the Kurds and, though Washington has been quieter on this front lately, we were once told training and equipping anti-Assad militants was also vital. This latter notion resulted in an embarrassing situation where the CIA’s favored militants were fighting the Pentagon’s favored militants. These local groups have their own interests, but they shouldn’t be confused for America’s interests.

 

More recently, President Trump has touted a plan to “secure the oil” and his administration has paved the way for a U.S. company to manage some oil fields in the war-torn country. Trump has cited this as a reason for keeping the last few hundred U.S. troops in Syria. The thing is, ensuring American access to Syrian oil demands a certain level of security. More bluntly, it necessitates an endless occupation of Syria.

But, like any of the above reasons, it would be a mistake to accept that oil serves as the principal justification for the U.S. presence in Syria.

 

Trump has also defended the decision to keep a small contingent of troops in Syria by stating that Israel and Jordan asked him to keep our forces there. This justification was reaffirmed in a recent Trump rally where the president characteristically stated off-the-cuff, “The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. We’ve been very good to Israel.”

What are we to make of this flurry of reasons for staying in Syria? It may be a little bit of each, but the overarching reason has always been to engage in a campaign of “regime change-lite,” tragically keeping Syria territorially divided in a simmering civil war and making Syrians bear the brunt of any—and there are many—negative consequences. This is why the United States originally armed anti-Assad rebels and why troops that were ostensibly sent to defeat ISIS have remained after the fall of the caliphate.

 

But viewing all these reasons together, it is dizzying to keep track of them. It is perhaps tempting to just take Trump at his word and assume that we’re actually there for the oil. While the amount of oil in Syria is a significant amount for Syrians, it’s nowhere near enough to be a vital concern for the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the amount of oil in Syria is not even two percent of what Iran or Iraq boast, never mind America’s own status as the number one oil producer in the world.

In fact, this is what’s striking about all of the above reasons in this list—not one of the justifications is about something vital to the security of the United States. Instead of carefully deconstructing each reason, this bird’s eye view is all we need to make sense of this confusing list of inconsistent and constantly evolving justifications for staying in Syria.

 

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

 

We don’t need to keep playing this game of roulette where Washington spins the wheel and tells us why our troops are there—it’s a racket and should be recognized as such. Syria’s problems aren’t our problems and the only sensible option that comports with U.S. interests is a full withdrawal of American forces.

Michael R. Hall is the communications manager of Defense Priorities and a geopolitical analyst. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelryhall.

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‘Zombie Neocon’: How This Iran Contra Architect Is Leading Trump Policy | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 16, 2020

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/zombie-neocon-how-this-iran-contra-architect-is-now-leading-trump-policy/

Hawk Elliot Abrams, reborn as a U.S. envoy, is at the spear point of recent aggressive moves in Venezuela.

US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams addresses the Atlantic Council on the future of Venezuela in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2019. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

As we await answers on who funded the plot to use a handful of mercenaries and ex-Green Berets to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, it’s worth taking a closer look at the man behind regime change policy, the special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

Called the “neocon zombie” by officials at the State Department, Abrams is known as an operator who doesn’t let anything stand in his way. He has a long history of pursuing disastrous policies in government.

“Everything Abrams is doing now is the same thing he was doing during the Reagan administration. He’s very adept at manipulating the levers of power without a lot of oversight,” a former senior official at the State Department told The American Conservative. The official added that Abrams is “singularly focused” on pursuing regime change in Venezuela.

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

But then-president George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams. He went on to support “measures to scuttle the Latin American peace process launched by the Costa Rican president, Óscar Arias” and use “the agency’s money to unseat the Sandinistas in Nicaragua’s 1990 general elections,” according to Brian D’Haeseleer.

Under President George W. Bush, Abrams promoted regime change in Iraq.

Abrams was initially blocked from joining the Trump administration on account of a Never Trump op-ed he’d penned. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo succeeded in bringing him onboard last year, despite his history of support for disastrous regime change policies.

It’s no surprise that with Abrams at the helm, U.S. rhetoric and actions towards Venezuela are constantly “escalating,” Dr. Alejandro Velasco, associate professor of Modern Latin America at New York University, said an interview with TAC.

In just the last month, Washington has placed bounties on the heads of President Nicolás Maduro and a dozen current and former Venezuelan officials. The U.S. also deployed the largest fleet ever to the Southern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Abrams announced the “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela,” which calls on Maduro’s government to embrace a power-sharing deal. The plan doesn’t explain how Venezuelan leaders with bounties on their heads are supposed to come to the table and negotiate with Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Abrams has also said that the U.S. does not support a coup.

A few days after recommending a power-sharing arrangement, and 18 years after the U.S. backed a putsch against Hugo Chavez, Abrams warned that if Maduro resisted the organization of a “transitional government,” his departure would be far more “dangerous and abrupt.” To many, Abrams’ aggressive rhetoric against Maduro made it sound like the U.S. was “effectively threatening him with another assassination attempt,” like the one Washington had “tacitly supported” in 2018.

Two weeks after Abrams’ warning, Operation Gideon began. Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen, former Green Beret, and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Javier Nieto, a retired Venezuelan military captain, posted a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched an attack that was meant to begin a rebellion that would lead to Maduro’s arrest and the installation of Juan Guaido.

In a public relations coup for Maduro, the plot was quickly foiled. Given that American citizens were involved and have produced a contract allegedly signed by Guaido, the incident has severely harmed the reputations of both the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition.

Both President Trump and Pompeo have denied that the U.S. had any “direct” involvement with Goudreau’s plot.

However, the Trump administration has given billions of dollars from USAID to Venezuela, and that money is largely untraceable due to concerns about outing supporters of Guaido.

“With all the cash and arms sloshing around in Venezuela,” it is not hard to imagine how U.S. funding could inadvertently wind up supporting something like this, said Velasco.

There are other signs that the U.S. may have been more involved in the plot than they are saying publicly.

For one, American mercenaries don’t carry passports identifying themselves as American nor do they return to the U.S. where they can be brought up on charges for their work, said Sean McFate, professor of war and strategy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the National Defense University.

In order to sell weapons or training to another nation, it is necessary to receive permission from the State Department. It’s unclear whether Goudreau and his band did so. But Goudreau’s social media posts look like a pretty “clear cut” violation of the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at New America.

We know that months before the fated coup, the CIA met with Goudreau in Jamaica and allegedly warned him off the project. According to the AP, Goudreau is now under investigation for arms trafficking. Members of Congress have asked the State Department what they knew of Goudreau’s plans. Given the illegal nature of the supposedly unauthorized project, it’s very strange that the ringleader is at present in Florida, talking to the press and posting on social media.

Besides that warning, it seems no one in government tried to stop this calamitous operation.

And it’s not just regime change. Last year, Abrams advocated granting special immigration status for the 70,000 Venezuelans residing illegally in the U.S. as a way to “pressure Maduro” even though Trump ran on the promise to severely limit the number of people granted Temporary Protected Status.

It was in pursuit of special status for Venezuelans that Abrams showed himself to be “incredibly pompous, bull-headed, and willing to destroy anyone who opposes him, in a personal way, including by trashing their reputations in the media,” another senior State Department official told TAC. Abrams is not above hiding policy options he doesn’t like and offering only those he favors to Pompeo to present to Trump, sources said.

Abrams ultimately prevailed and Venezuelans received refugee status from the Trump administration, despite the fact that it betrayed Trump’s campaign promises.

According to Velasco, there are some people in the administration who believe that Venezuelans are the “new Cubans”—that they will become a solid, loyal Republican vote in the swing state of Florida if they’re granted special status. They also believe that Venezuelan expats want to see the U.S. remove Maduro. There are “many Cold Warriors” who believe all it will take is a “little push” for Venezuelans to rise up and take out Maduro, said Velasco.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether Abrams is pursuing a military confrontation in Venezuela.

“Cold Warrior” beliefs are dangerous. While “Operation Gideon” was especially clownish, had it been more sophisticated, it could have easily sparked a world war. The Russians, Iranians, and Chinese are all operating in Venezuela.

That specter is even more concerning now that Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that Russian special services are on standby to help Venezuela’s investigation of the mercenaries.

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Biden vs. Trump on Foreign Policy – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2020

We won’t know what’s in them until the election has passed.

https://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2020/05/08/biden-vs-trump-on-foreign-policy/

We all know that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been a disaster. But is Joe Biden’s any better?

Trump promised to stop America’s endless wars but has stationed some 80,000 troops in the Middle East. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord, and imposed harsh sanctions and even sent drones to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard. But Iran still has more political influence in Iraq than the United States. His administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban, only to see it rejected by the US-installed Afghan government.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, sharply criticizes Trump but, unfortunately, continues to defend many of the failed policies of the Obama Administration.

During Biden’s time as Vice President, the White House went from fighting two active wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) to seven (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, drone war in Pakistan, and escalation in Somalia).

Biden now says he disagreed with some of Obama’s interventionist policies, most notably in Libya. Today Biden calls for easing Iran sanctions, returning to the Iran nuclear accord, and reestablishing relations with Cuba.

“Biden represents the return of the classical foreign policy establishment,” Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, tells me. “Biden is running a campaign as a restoration candidate.”

But given significant changes in the world’s balance of power, it’s not all that clear what Biden could restore.

A changing world

Many corporate, State Department, military, and intelligence officials – otherwise known as the Deep State – hate Trump for his nationalist, America First policies.

The President imposed tariffs on allies around the world. He’s questioned the need for NATO. China and Russia have grown stronger economically and politically on the world stage, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even card-carrying members of the Deep State acknowledge Washington has no reason to keep fighting in the Middle East. Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, says what’s “been hard for many in the American foreign-policy establishment, including me, to accept: Few vital interests of the US continue to be at stake in the Middle East.”

In a major mea culpa in The Wall Street Journal, Indyk admits, “[A]fter the sacrifice of so many American lives, the waste of so much energy and money in quixotic efforts that ended up doing more harm than good, it is time for the US to find a way to escape the costly, demoralizing cycle of crusades and retreats.”

Whoever wins the election in November will face an economy wracked by recession, an electorate wary of more long-term military interventions, and other countries determined to go their own way.

What kind of foreign policy will that produce?

Biden boasts

Biden boasts of his foreign policy credentials. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001-2003 and 2007-2009. While generally hewing to interventionist Democratic Party policies, he has taken some independent stands, for example, by voting against the 1991 Gulf War.

By far Biden’s most reprehensible stand was his strong support for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. As documented by Professor Stephen Zunes in The Progressive, Biden forcefully supported the war, but later claimed he opposed it. (Of course, Trump lied about his support for the war as well.)

When the Iraqi occupation failed in the mid-2000s, Biden infamously called for splitting Iraq into three parts along sectarian lines, so the United States could continue imperial control at least in Kurdistan.

Even today, Biden favors maintaining some troops in the region, using the excuse of fighting ISIS. “I think it’s a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS,” he’s said.

Biden hasn’t learned the lessons of the Afghan war either. After nineteen years of failed war and occupation, he still wants to maintain some troops in the country.

“I would bring American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” Biden tells the Council on Foreign Relations. “Any residual US military presence in Afghanistan would be focused only on counterterrorism operations.”

But whoever wins in November will have to face the new reality: People in Afghanistan and the United States are fed up with the war. All foreign troops will have to withdraw.

Venezuela

Besides his bad record in the Middle East, Biden continues to support US domination in Latin America. Both Trump and Biden call for the removal of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, for example. Last year they supported efforts by Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly, to anoint himself president.

The Venezuelan government accuses Washington and Guaido of trying to overthrow Maduro by armed force. Rightwing, former military officers tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone strike last year. Then on May 4, a group of mercenaries – including two US Army vets – landed on the Venezuelan coast intending to overthrow Maduro and install Guaido in power. The coup plot was organized by a Florida private security company. It has the earmarks of a US intelligence operation, although not surprisingly, Trump denies it.

While Biden has not formally called for regime change in Venezuela, neither has he criticized the armed coup attempts. And he favors economic sanctions to cripple the economy, saying: “The US should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America.”

In my opinion and that of many others, Bernie Sanders offered a far better foreign policy program than Biden. But Biden may at least restore the Iran nuclear accord, normalize relations with Cuba, and take steps to end the Yemen War.

But one thing is for sure. Those who oppose America’s wars of aggression should take to the streets in peaceful protests no matter who wins.

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Regime Change through the Drug War – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2020

U.S. officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

https://www.fff.org/2020/04/01/regime-change-through-the-drug-war/

by

The Justice Department’s securing of a criminal indictment of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro reminds us that when it comes to the U.S. government’s regime-change operations, coups, invasions, sanctions, embargoes, and state-sponsored assassinations are not the only ways to achieve regime change. Another way is through a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury that deferentially accedes to the wishes of federal prosecutors.

The best example of this regime change method involved the president of Panama, Manuel Noriega.

Like many corrupt and brutal dictators around the world, Noriega was a partner and ally of the U.S. government. In fact, he was actually trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which is referred to in Latin America as the School of Assassins. He later served as a paid asset of the CIA. He also served as a conduit for the U.S. government’s illegal war in Nicaragua, where U.S. officials were using the Contra rebels to effect a regime change in that country.

But like other loyal pro-U.S. dictators, Noriega fell out of favor with U.S. officials, who decided they wanted him out of office and replaced with someone more to their liking.

The big problem, of course, is the one that always afflicts U.S. regime-change aspirations: Noriega refused to go voluntarily.

U.S. officials knew that it would look bad to simply invade the country and effect a regime-change operation through force of arms. Undoubtedly, they considered a state-sponsored assassination through the CIA, which specialized in that form of regime change, but for whatever reason that regime-method wasn’t employed.

So, the regime-changers turned to the U.S. Justice Department, which secured a criminal indictment against Noriega for supposedly violating America’s drug laws. The U.S. rationale was that the U.S. government, as the world’s international policeman, has jurisdiction to enforce its drug laws against everyone in the world.

On December 20,  1989, the U.S. military invaded Panama to bring Noriega back to the United States to stand trial on the drug charges. One might consider the invasion to be one gigantic no-knock raid on an entire country as part of U.S. drug-war enforcement.

An estimated 23-60 U.S. soldiers were killed in the operation while some 300 were wounded. An estimated 300-800 Panamanian soldiers were killed. Estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 200 to 3,000. Property damage ranged in the billions of dollars.

But it was all considered worth it. By capturing Noriega and bringing him back for trial, U.S. officials felt that they had made big progress in finally winning the war on drugs. Equally important, they had secured the regime change that had been their original goal. At the same time, they sent a message to other rulers around the world: Leave office when we say or we’ll do this to you.

Noriega was convicted and received a 40-year jail sentence. When his lawyers tried to introduce evidence at trial of his close working relationship with the CIA and other elements of the U.S. national security state, not surprisingly federal prosecutors objected and the judge sustained their objections. Better to keep those types of things as secret as possible.

Alas, Noriega’s conviction and incarceration did not bring an end to the war on drugs, as this crooked, corrupt, failed, and racially bigoted government program continues to this day. Moreover, as Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro might soon find out., the drug war continues to provide an effective way for U.S. officials to effect regime change.

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