NeoConWire

Ron Paul on Carving Up Syria: Anything Left for the Syrians?

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-20 13:20

Turkey has launched an attack on Syrian government-affiliated forces as they approach Kurdish areas of northern Syria. The Turks are occupying increasing parts of Syrian territory. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bragged that the US controls 30 percent of Syria. Israel also has designs on occupying even more Syrian territory. With ISIS all but defeated, will outside plans to carve up Syria succeed? Will Russia stand by? More in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Tillerson’s Blinkered Understanding of North Korea

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-20 11:58

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

The ‘60 Minutes’ interview with Rex Tillerson makes for depressing reading:

Margaret Brennan: What is the carrot that you’re dangling for North Korea to convince them to talk?

Rex Tillerson: We’re not using a carrot to convince them to talk. We’re using large sticks [bold mine-DL]. And that is what they need to understand. This pressure campaign is putting – is having its bite on North Korea, its revenue streams. It’s having a bite on its military programs.

Margaret Brennan: But to say full denuclearization, why would they agree to give up something they’ve already got that they think is an insurance policy?

Rex Tillerson: Because it buys them nothing [bold mine-DL]. It buys them more of being the hermit kingdom, isolated, isolated from the world diplomatically, isolated from the world economically.

Each of these answers is troubling, and taken together they show how hopeless the administration’s policy towards North Korea is. The U.S. is expecting North Korea to give up something that is clearly extremely important to them, but it is offering them absolutely nothing in exchange. There is something about dealing with “rogue” states that causes people in our government to shut off their ability to reason. If our positions were reversed and we were the ones being put under “maximum pressure” to force us to give up our nuclear deterrent, would we respond to increasing pressure by caving or by doing whatever we could to keep building up the thing that our adversary wants to eliminate? It would obviously be the latter. If North Korea is given no incentives to do something, and faces only more and more pressure unless it capitulates, it is a virtual certainty that their government will dig in its heels and concede nothing.

As if that weren’t bad enough, our officials can’t or won’t even acknowledge that North Korea gets something out of refusing to give up their nuclear weapons and missile programs. They get to keep what they have already built, and they retain an ability to use these weapons that they didn’t possess a little over a decade ago. If they consider having such a deterrent to be essential to their regime’s survival (and we have good reason to believe that this is what they think), refusing to denuclearize has almost inestimable worth to them. If our top government officials don’t understand that or can’t admit it publicly, we’re in much bigger trouble than I thought.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted fromThe American Conservativewith permission.

Mueller’s Russia Indictments: Covering Up for the Deep State?

Antiwar.com blog - Mon, 2018-02-19 15:58

Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and accused of interference in the 2016 US elections. They were not agents of the state, at least according to the indictment. They were private citizens. So why do it? Perhaps it was just a commercial “click-bait” venture? But one thing is sure: no one is talking about the FBI FISA deception or about the real foreign collusion in the election, which is the Hillary campaign collusion with “former” British spy Christopher Steele to produce information to undermine support for Donald Trump. It’s a win-win for the deep state. Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report for more:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

Antiwar.com blog - Mon, 2018-02-19 10:03

Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”

Nunes took this highly unusual, no-holds-barred stance during an interview with Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, which aired on Sunday.

Attkisson said she had invited both Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) but that only Nunes agreed. She asked him about Schiff’s charge that Nunes’ goal was “to put the FBI and DOJ on trial.” What followed was very atypical bluntness – candor normally considered quite unacceptable in polite circles of the Washington Establishment.

Rather than play the diplomat and disavow what Schiff contended was Nunes’ goal, Nunes said, in effect, let the chips fall where they may. He unapologetically averred that, yes, a criminal trial might well be the outcome. “DOJ and FBI are not above the law,” he stated emphatically. “If they are committing abuse before a secret court getting warrants on American citizens, you’re darn right that we’re going to put them on trial.”

Die Is Cast

The stakes are very high. Current and former senior officials – and not only from DOJ and FBI, but from other agencies like the CIA and NSA, whom documents and testimony show were involved in providing faulty information to justify a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign official Carter Page – may suddenly find themselves in considerable legal jeopardy. Like, felony territory.

This was not supposed to happen. Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? Back when the FISA surveillance warrant of Page was obtained, just weeks before the November 2016 election, there seemed to be no need to hide tracks, because, even if these extracurricular activities were discovered, the perps would have looked forward to award certificates rather than legal problems under a Trump presidency.

Thus, the knives will be coming out. Mostly because the mainstream media will make a major effort – together with Schiff-mates in the Democratic Party – to marginalize Nunes, those who find themselves in jeopardy can be expected to push back strongly.

If past is precedent, they will be confident that, with their powerful allies within the FBI/DOJ/CIA “Deep State” they will be able to counter Nunes and show him and the other congressional investigation committee chairs, where the power lies. The conventional wisdom is that Nunes and the others have bit off far more than they can chew. And the odds do not favor folks, including oversight committee chairs, who buck the system.

Staying Power

On the other hand, the presumptive perps have not run into a chairman like Nunes in four decades, since Congressmen Lucien Nedzi (D-Mich.), Otis Pike (D-NY), and Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) ran tough, explosive hearings on the abuses of a previous generation deep state, including massive domestic spying revealed by quintessential investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in December 1974. (Actually, this is largely why the congressional intelligence oversight committees were later established, and why the FISA law was passed in 1978.)

At this point, one is tempted to say plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – or the more things change, the more they stay the same – but that would be only half correct in this context. Yes, scoundrels will always take liberties with the law to spy on others. But the huge difference today is that mainstream media have no room for those who uncover government crimes and abuse. And this will be a major impediment to efforts by Nunes and other committee chairs to inform the public.

One glaring sign of the media’s unwillingness to displease corporate masters and Official Washington is the harsh reality that Hersh’s most recent explosive investigations, using his large array of government sources to explore front-burner issues, have not been able to find a home in any English-speaking newspaper or journal. In a sense, this provides what might be called a “confidence-building” factor, giving some assurance to deep-state perps that they will be able to ride this out, and that congressional committee chairs will once again learn to know their (subservient) place.

Much will depend on whether top DOJ and FBI officials can bring themselves to reverse course and give priority to the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. This should not be too much to hope for, but it will require uncommon courage in facing up honestly to the major misdeeds appear to have occurred – and letting the chips fall where they may. Besides, it would be the right thing to do.

Nunes is projecting calm confidence that once he and Trey Gowdey (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, release documentary evidence showing what their investigations have turned up, it will be hard for DOJ and FBI officials to dissimulate.

In Other News …

In the interview with Attkisson, Nunes covered a number of other significant issues:

  • The committee is closing down its investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign; no evidence of collusion was found.
  • The apparently widespread practice of “unmasking” the identities of Americans under surveillance. On this point, Nunes said, “In the last administration they were unmasking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of Americans’ names. They were unmasking for what I would say, for lack of a better definition, were for political purposes.”
  • Asked about Schiff’s criticism that Nunes behaved improperly on what he called the “midnight run to the White House,” Nunes responded that the stories were untrue. “Well, most of the time I ignore political nonsense in this town,” he said. “What I will say is that all of those stories were totally fake from the beginning.”

Not since Watergate has there been so high a degree of political tension here in Washington but the stakes for our Republic are even higher this time. Assuming abuse of FISA court procedures is documented and those responsible for playing fast and loose with the required justification for legal warrants are not held to account, the division of powers enshrined in the Constitution will be in peril.

A denouement of some kind can be expected in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and now servers on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.

Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy

Antiwar.com blog - Fri, 2018-02-16 16:33

Moscow is showing understandable concern over the lowering of the threshold for employing nuclear weapons to include retaliation for cyber-attacks, a change announced on Feb. 2 in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

Explaining the shift in US doctrine on first-use, the NPR cites the efforts of potential adversaries “to design and use cyber weapons” and explains the change as a “hedge” against non-nuclear threats. In response, Russia described the move as an “attempt to shift onto others one’s own responsibility” for the deteriorating security situation.

Moscow’s concern goes beyond rhetoric. Cyber-attacks are notoriously difficult to trace to the actual perpetrator and can be pinned easily on others in what we call “false-flag” operations. These can be highly destabilizing – not only in the strategic context, but in the political arena as well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has good reason to believe he has been the target of a false-flag attack of the political genre. We judged this to be the case a year and a half ago, and said so. Our judgment was fortified last summer – thanks to forensic evidence challenging accusations that the Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee and provided emails to WikiLeaks. (Curiously, the FBI declined to do forensics, even though the “Russian hack” was being described as an “act of war.”)

Our conclusions were based on work conducted over several months by highly experienced technical specialists, including another former NSA technical director (besides co-author Binney) and experts from outside the circle of intelligence analysts.

On August 9, 2017, investigative reporter Patrick Lawrence summed up our findings in The Nation. “They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation,” he explained.

As we wrote in an open letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the NSA’s programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,” our letter said. “If NSA cannot produce such evidence – and quickly – this would probably mean it does not have any.”

A ‘Dot’ Pointing to a False Flag?

In his article, Lawrence included mention of one key, previously unknown “dot” revealed by WikiLeaks on March 31, 2017. When connected with other dots, it puts a huge dent in the dominant narrative about Russian hacking. Small wonder that the mainstream media immediately applied white-out to the offending dot.

Lawrence, however, let the dot out of the bag, so to speak: “The list of the CIA’s cyber-tools WikiLeaks began to release in March and labeled Vault 7 includes one called Marble Framework that is capable of obfuscating the origin of documents in false-flag operations and leaving markings that point to whatever the CIA wants to point to.”

If congressional oversight committees summon the courage to look into “Obfus-Gate” and Marble, they are likely to find this line of inquiry as lucrative as the Steele “dossier.” In fact, they are likely to find the same dramatis personae playing leading roles in both productions.

Two Surprising Visits

Last October CIA Director Mike Pompeo invited one of us (Binney) into his office to discuss Russian hacking. Binney told Pompeo his analysts had lied and that he could prove it.

In retrospect, the Pompeo-Binney meeting appears to have been a shot across the bow of those cyber warriors in the CIA, FBI, and NSA with the means and incentive to adduce “just discovered” evidence of Russian hacking. That Pompeo could promptly invite Binney back to evaluate any such “evidence” would be seen as a strong deterrent to that kind of operation.

Pompeo’s closeness to President Donald Trump is probably why the heads of Russia’s three top intelligence agencies paid Pompeo an unprecedented visit in late January. We think it likely that the proximate cause was the strategic danger Moscow sees in the nuclear-hedge-against-cyber-attack provision of the Nuclear Posture Statement (a draft of which had been leaked a few weeks before).

If so, the discussion presumably focused on enhancing hot-line and other fail-safe arrangements to reduce the possibility of false-flag attacks in the strategic arena – by anyone – given the extremely high stakes.

Putin may have told his intelligence chiefs to pick up on President Donald Trump’s suggestion, after the two met last July, to establish a U.S.-Russian cyber security unit. That proposal was widely ridiculed at the time. It may make good sense now.

Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, was chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and briefed the President’s Daily Brief one-on-one from 1981-1985. William Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

Ray McGovern (rrmcgovern@gmail.com) was a CIA analyst for 27 years; from 1981 to 1985 he briefed the President’s Daily Brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials. William Binney (williambinney0802@comcast.net) worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.

Daniel Larison: Maximalist Demands Won’t Change North Korean Behavior

Antiwar.com blog - Fri, 2018-02-16 10:41

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Mike Pence confirmed again that the administration’s idea of “talking” to North Korea doesn’t mean anything:

Vice President Mike Pence told Axios’ Mike Allen on Wednesday President Trump “always believes in talking [with North Korea], but talking is not negotiating.”

He said nothing will change with North Korea until they give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons [bold mine-DL]. He said they must “completely, verifiably, and completely abandon” its missile programs, and “only then can we consider any change in posture by the United States or the international community.”

The administration’s maximalism may feel satisfying, but it has no chance of reducing tensions or getting North Korea to agree to anything. The insistence that North Korea abandon these programs is as unrealistic as can be. It is not just that North Korea has already invested considerable resources in these programs and would be reluctant to dismantle everything they already have, but they also believe these programs to be essential to their security. Just as our government would not budge on something that it considered vitally important, theirs is not going to budge. More pressure and threats will just make them cling to these programs that much more tightly.

If the U.S. and its allies hope to get anywhere with negotiating limits on either of these programs, they are going to have to accept that the programs themselves aren’t going to disappear. If there is any chance of establishing some sort of verification mechanism to ensure that North Korea complies with negotiated restrictions, they need to believe that the US and its allies are going to honor their end of any bargain. The US and its allies will also have to be willing to offer North Korea something in exchange, and it is probably going to have to be more significant than a guarantee not to attack them. The US and its allies won’t find out what the price of limiting North Korea’s weapons and missile programs will be until they enter into real negotiations with the other side, and it is only then that they can make an informed decision as to whether they are willing to pay that price. The empty “talks” that the Trump administration are grudgingly accepting won’t get us there, and we have to assume that the administration knows that.

Demanding that North Korea abandon these programs reminds me of the demand made to Iran that they agree to zero enrichment as a condition for sanctions relief. Iran was never going to accept giving up all enrichment, and as long as the US and its allies required that they surrender something that they believed they were entitled to there was never a real chance of reaching a compromise on the nuclear issue. In the end, the US and the other members of the P5+1 agreed to drop that demand as part of a larger agreement that included Iran’s acceptance of other restrictions. If the US and the other powers hadn’t been willing to modify that demand, it is very unlikely that there would have been a successful negotiation. Until the US and its allies give up on demanding things that are never going to happen, we shouldn’t expect any change on the North Korean side, either.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted fromThe American Conservativewith permission.

William Bennett says Pence Was in Danger From Kim’s Sister at Olympic Reception

Antiwar.com blog - Thu, 2018-02-15 23:33

Former Secretary of Education and current neocon shill William Bennett was bloviating on Fox News Monday about the media "fawning" over the North Koreans at the Olympics. He was upset that Americans were not hating the North Korean attendees.

He appeared on "The Story With Martha MacCallum" on Monday, February 12, 2018. Under their faces appeared the headline: News Outlets Call Kim Jong Un’s Sister "Captivating" While Slamming VP Pence as "Embarrassing". Bennett expressed concern that the Vice President’s life was in danger, while MacCallum channeled the Secret Service’s concern about the VP being out of town.

Bennett’s appearance begins at 20:10, his fantasy about Pence being stuck with a poison needle starts at 20:40.

Bennett: I don’t know if anyone else had this thought, did you Martha? When you saw that photo of her (Kim Yo Jong) sitting right behind Mrs. Pence, didn’t you get nervous? I mean, I got worried, that she or one of her handlers might lean over and do something to the Vice President or Mrs. Pence. Remember, this is the crowd that killed Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in an airport. I wouldn’t put anything past them. I’m sure the Secret Service had things totally under control.

MacCallum: You’ve got to imagine that for the Secret Service it was not an optimum situation, and something that, no doubt, they were not comfortable with.

David Petraeus: A Gold Medal Winner in Spin

Antiwar.com blog - Thu, 2018-02-15 10:01

I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics on TV, and the color commentators for NBC are typically athletes who’ve earned gold medals in the past, like Tara Lipinski in figure skating or Bode Miller in skiing. Why is it, then, when NBC and other networks seek expert “color” commentary on America’s wars, they turn to retired generals like David Petraeus, who’ve won nothing?

I’m not dissing Petraeus here. He himself admitted his “gains” in Iraq as well as Afghanistan were both “fragile and reversible.” And so they proved. The U.S. fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost thousands of troops and trillions of dollars for gains that truly were ephemeral. Despite this disastrous and tragic reality, Petraeus remains the sage on the stage, the go-to guy for analysis of our never-ending wars on PBS, Fox News, and elsewhere.

But then I got to thinking. Sure, Petraeus hasn’t won any wars. But he’s earned a gold medal in public relations. In spin. In 2007 he spun the Surge as a major U.S. victory in Iraq. (Temporary stability, bought at such a high price, did indeed prove fragile and reversible.) A later surge in Afghanistan didn’t prove as spinnable, but in a strange way his adulterous affair, a personal failure, came to obscure his military one. Now he regularly appears as a pundit, the voice of reason and experience, spinning the Afghan war, for example, as winnable as long as Americans continue to give the Pentagon a blank check to wage generational war.

In facilitating the growth of the national security state and ensuring it never takes the blame for its military defeats, Petraeus has indeed excelled in the eyes of those who matter in Washington. He’s no Tara Lipinski on ice or Bode Miller on snow, but when it comes to spinning wars and gliding over the facts, he takes the gold.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

2019 Military Budget: Pentagon Wins, American Taxpayers Lose

Antiwar.com blog - Wed, 2018-02-14 13:03

President Trump has delivered his military budget request for 2019 that increases spending by 12 percent over 2017 spending. Designed to fully fund a “depleted” military, even Defense Secretary Mattis was surprised at the figures. Many more warships, many more F-22s (even though they don’t work). Half a billion more dollars to continue the US “regime change” operation in Syria. There’s something in it for everybody…except the American people. How this massive spending increase makes us less safe and less free in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Korea Olympic Charm Offensive – What’s the Threat?

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-13 14:43

Neocons — and even a few “libertarians” — are furious that North Korea is getting some credit for unleashing a “charm offensive” at the Olympic games. Rather than look to a future without crippling sanctions and the threat of nuclear war, they obsess on the lurid details of reported abuses by the North Korean government. But what’s the big problem with a “charm offensive”? Isn’t it preferable to a military offensive? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

William J. Astore on A Curious Aspect of Air Power

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-13 10:13

Over the past several days, Russia and Israel have lost fighter jets over Syria. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those countries. When jets attack people on the ground, those people tend to fire back (if they have weapons at hand), and sometimes they even hit their targets.

What is interesting is the Russian and Israeli reaction, which was in essence identical: immediate escalation. More air attacks. More bombs. All justified as “reprisal” raids that are couched in terms of self-defense.

The mentality goes something like this: How dare you little people on the ground have the temerity to fire back at us and actually hit our planes? For that you must be punished with more air attacks and more bombs until you stop firing at and hitting our planes.

I think this reaction is linked to the imagery of jet aircraft as a symbol of technological superiority, a marker of power, potency, and prowess. Losing a jet over Syrian lands isn’t just seen as a mundane loss of military equipment in combat: it’s seen as a loss of potency by the attacker. This “loss” necessitates a bigger show of force so as to punish the enemy while regaining that sense of inviolate power from the skies that advanced countries like Russia, Israel, and the USA believe they are entitled to, simply by being “advanced” countries, as measured by military hardware like sophisticated jets.

Air power is a tricky thing. Students of the American involvement in the Vietnam War may recall that in 1965 U.S. Marine units were initially sent in to guard air bases from attack. Of course, their mission quickly escalated from static defense to “active” defense to “taking the fight to the enemy,” i.e. full-scale, offensive, military operations.

Today, US ground troops are similarly involved in places like the Middle East and Africa, helping to establish and protect air and drone bases. Yet, as history teaches us, those missions often expand quickly to aggressive military operations on the ground, often in the name of “securing” those very air bases. Air attacks may lead to ground operations, which lead to more air attacks in support of the ground ops, which lead to air planes being shot down and then reprisal attacks …

Air power, as I’ve written before, is neither cheap nor surgical nor decisive. It also often creates its own escalatory dynamic, which is what we’re witnessing now in the skies over Syria. Israeli jets, Russian jets, American jets, all attempting through force to alter the facts on the ground, but all instead creating conditions that are likely to generate more violence, more instability, and more war.

Curious indeed.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Ron Paul asks: Who Is the Aggressor In Syria?

Antiwar.com blog - Mon, 2018-02-12 14:19

It’s been a couple of weeks of serious escalation in Syria. First, the US attacked and killed some 100 Syrian government-allied troops for launching an operation against a US-funded rebel force that seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government. Then some US-trained rebels shot down a Russian jet fighter. Then Israel began bombing Syria for the 100th or so time. Then Syria shocked the world and shot down an Israeli F-16. Then Israel dropped some more bombs on Syria for what it said was a violation of its sovereignty. Where does it go from here? And why are we still there? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Ike’s Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Alive and Very Well

Antiwar.com blog - Sat, 2018-02-10 11:53

Look, Ma: More Money! Don’t Worry: We’ll Spend It Wisely

The new Congressional budget boosts military spending in a big way. Last night’s PBS News report documented how military spending is projected to increase by $160 billion over two years, but that doesn’t include “overseas contingency funding” for wars, which is another $160 billion over two years. Meanwhile, spending for the opioid crisis, which is killing roughly 60,000 Americans a year (more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War), is set at a paltry $6 billion ($25 billion was requested).

One thing is certain: Ike was right about the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex.

The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to “rebuild.” And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism.

Even if you’re a supporter of big military budgets, this massive boost in military spending is bad news. Why? It doesn’t force the military to think. To set priorities. To define limits. To be creative.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the expression, “Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.” Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those “sailors” an enormous boost in the loose change they’re carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely?

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Philip Giraldi on the Grassley Memo Shocker – Did The UK Meddle In Our Elections?

Antiwar.com blog - Thu, 2018-02-08 14:37

The release of the “Grassley Memo” earlier this week should have made headlines, but it didn’t. In addition to confirming key details from the earlier Nunes Memo on FISA abuses, the Grassley memo contained even more details on the incredible manipulation of the 2016 US presidential election. Perhaps the media is ignoring the memo because the manipulation it demonstrates is not the manipulation they want to report. There is no evidence of Russian meddling in the memo. Instead, it looks more and more like British intelligence colluded with the Clinton campaign and key elements in the US intelligence community in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. Think the Brits would never do such a thing? Think again. Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi joins today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report to break down this new information.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

William Astore on Military Parades and Super Bowls

Antiwar.com blog - Wed, 2018-02-07 23:35

Trump, inspired by the French, wants his own military parade

News that President Trump favors a military parade in Washington D.C., perhaps to coincide with Veterans Day in November, has drawn criticism, and rightly so. The president has a juvenile fascination with parades and other forms of pomp and circumstance, but more than anything I’m guessing he relishes the thought of posing as “The Leader,” reviewing and saluting “his” troops and generals as they pass in review. If only “Cadet Bone Spurs,” the telling nickname that Tammy Duckworth has pegged him with, could don a military uniform for the occasion — his fantasy would be complete.

The idea of a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, complete with tanks and jets (and maybe some big missiles and bombs too?), sounds radical. But is it really that different from other militarized celebrations that America has been witnessing and applauding since 9/11?

Consider this year’s Super Bowl. It was played in a domed stadium, yet there was the obligatory military flyover (featuring A-10 attack planes, which the Air Force ironically wants to get rid of). Fifteen Medal of Honor recipients were celebrated on the field, with one (a Marine) performing the coin toss for the game. A video link showed U.S. troops watching from overseas. In past years, troops featured were usually in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. This year the troops were in South Korea, perhaps because NBC wanted a link to the forthcoming Olympic games, hopefully not because the Trump administration is foreshadowing a “bloody nose” strike against North Korea that would turn that region into a combat zone.

Such patriotic (read: militarized) hoopla has become standard, not just at the Super Bowl and other NFL events, but at many other sporting events. At last year’s US Open tennis tournament in New York, prior to the men’s final played on 9/10, there was a ceremony to mark the 9/11 attacks, complete with the usual jumbo-sized US flag, with uniformed troops joined by officer cadets from West Point, climaxed by a military flyover. The ceremony was timed for maximum TV exposure.

As a retired military officer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve saluted the colors and sung the National Anthem. I have no objection to military color guards and proud renditions of our anthem. It’s all the other hoopla — the flyovers, the video links, the gigantic flags, the increasing size of military contingents on playing fields and tennis courts and elsewhere — that I find so exaggerated. It’s as if I sat down to watch a football game or a tennis match and a military parade broke out instead.

Give President Trump his due: he knows his audience. His supporters will revel in a military parade in Washington. So too will Trump. The rest of us? Why should we complain: we’ve been watching over-the-top military celebrations for nearly two decades. A big parade down Pennsylvania Avenue is the logical culmination of all this, especially with Trump in charge.

Like many other aspects of American culture, Trump is just bringing our love of the military into higher relief. Don’t blame him (or only him) if you don’t like what you see.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

UN Sanctions Forbid North Korea Hockey Players Getting Hockey Sticks

Antiwar.com blog - Wed, 2018-02-07 15:18

US Sanctions Likely Preclude Them Getting Uniforms

When the US and UN try to impose new sanctions on North Korea, as they do every few weeks, the question that inevitably rises is: what’s left to sanction. The Winter Olympics are underscoring just how far this has already gone.

Just participating in the hockey event is a challenge. North Korea is forbidden, by UN sanctions, from buying hockey sticks, because they’re “recreational sporting equipment.” In past events, North Korean participants have had to borrow all sticks, and return them before leaving.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. North Korea also has to find a third party to supply uniforms for them, because the uniform sponsor, Nike, is afraid that doing business with them will violate US sanctions.

Across North Korea’s participation, this is a recurring problem. The singers and dancers they agreed to send are coming by ship, but the ship may not have enough fuel. Buying fuel would be in violation of the sanctions, so the ship is stuck en route.

Samsung is giving all the Olympics participants Galaxy Note 8 phones, but some are claiming they count as “dual use” because of their processing power and GPS capabilities. The suggestion again is North Korea might be forced to give phones back at the end of the event.

Olympic games are meant to be a time to emphasize international cooperation, and while North Korea’s involvement started as an exemplar of sports diplomacy, increasingly it underscores just how obscene the anti-North Korea sanctions already are, and how petty they’ve become.

Vanessa Beeley on the NGOs Pushing a New Syria War

Antiwar.com blog - Wed, 2018-02-07 12:40

There is a new push for US and allied intervention in Syria. There is a vast propaganda network of NGOs pushing cooked up documentaries and providing “expert” witnesses all aimed to mobilize opinion in favor of a renewed war on the Syrian government. The White Helmets are a key part of this propaganda campaign. Syria expert Vanessa Beeley joins the Dan McAdams at the Ron Paul Liberty Report to debunk their lies:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Lawrence Wilkerson: Trump’s Iran War Push Is a Replay of Bush’s Iraq War Push

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-06 22:59

The Trump administration “is using much the same playbook to create a false choice that war is the only way to address the challenges presented by Iran” as the George W. Bush administration used to gain support for the Iraq War. College of William & Mary Professor Lawrence Wilkerson presents this argument, along with abundant supporting evidence, in a Monday New York Times editorial.

Wilkerson should know. In the lead-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson was chief of staff for United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose United Nations presentation regarding Iraq Wilkerson, at the beginning of the editorial, credits with boosting support among Americans for a war against Iraq.

Wilkerson, who is a Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Academic Board member, has frequently disparaged that effort to build up support for the Iraq War. Indeed, in the editorial he laments that “[t]hat effort led to a war of choice with Iraq – one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.”

The consequences of a war with Iran would also be dire. Addressing some of those consequences in his editorial, Wilkerson predicts that “this war with Iran – a country of almost 80 million people, whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain makes it a far greater challenge than Iraq – would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs.”

Read Wilkerson’s editorial here.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Scott Horton Presentation: The War on Terror: A Global Catastrophe

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-06 21:50

Wednesday, February 7th Antiwar.com opinion editor Scott Horton will be giving a presentation for historian Thaddeus Russell’s Renegade University about the War on Terrorism.

Sign up now!

James Bovard on FISA Spying Abuses – Are You Really Shocked?

Antiwar.com blog - Tue, 2018-02-06 19:28

Responses to the recently-released House Intelligence Committee memo are framed by the mainstream media according to whether viewers are on “Team Democrat” or “Team Republican.” You are supposed to think either that Rep. Nunes is a hero or that the Republicans are trying to destroy everything that is holy and good about the FBI and intelligence community. But what about those of us on “Team Liberty”? We look at the FISA memo and see another in a long line of abuses of our liberties by the National Security State. Author and journalist Jim Bovard joins today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report to give us the real historical context for recent revelations.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

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