American Resistance To Empire

Trump Straightens-Out Loud-Mouthed, War-Pig, Senator Lindsay Graham

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump argued that his Syria decision amounted to making good on one of his campaign promises. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Trump announced earlier this month that he would end U.S. military activity in Syria, a move he reportedly announced against the advice of multiple military and national security advisers. The announcement angered many on Capitol Hill, including some of his staunchest supporters, but Trump stood behind his decision in a series of posts Monday morning on Twitter.

Trump campaigned for president railing against the U.S. presence in the Middle East, and had long vowed to withdraw troops and to untangle the U.S. from extended conflicts there.

Trump on Monday hit back at the naysayers, writing on Twitter that the torrent of criticism stemmed from “the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived” and who “like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working.”

He argued that his Syria decision amounted to making good on one of his campaign promises, writing that he was “just doing what I said I was going to do! …..Except the results are FAR BETTER than I ever said they were going to be!”

While the U.S. has been successful in beating back the Islamic State in Syria, opponents of U.S. withdrawal have argued that the move amounts to handing back power there to the dictatorial regime of President Bashar Assad and his backers, Russia and Iran. The president’s decision has also sparked warnings that a U.S. withdrawal could create a vacuum that would allow the Islamic State to revive.

The catalyst for Trump’s Dec. 19 decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria has also been cause for concern.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies on the Hill but one of the most vocal critics of the Syria decision, said after a lunch with the president on Sunday that Trump would be “slowing” the U.S. pullout to “assess the effects of the conditions on the ground,” but he said Trump remained firm in his decision.

Does Newly Released Security Video Show Saudi Assassins Carrying Bags Containing Khashoggi’s Remains?

Video shows bags believed to contain Khashoggi’s remains: report

Footage shows Saudi hit team carrying bags believed to contain body parts of murdered journalist, Turkish reports say.

Video footage leaked to Turkish media shows a Saudi hit team in Istanbul carrying bags reportedly containing the remains of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder sparked an international outcry and jeopardised the kingdom’s relations with its Western allies.

The video shows the arrival of some of the members of the team at the Saudi consul-general’s residence in Istanbul on the day Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate, several hundred metres from the residence.

One of the hit team members is seen carrying bags, which according to the Turkish media, may contain body parts of the journalist, who was a critic of Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 to obtain documents certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry. He was killed and dismembered inside the consulate, in what Turkey called a “premeditated murder” orchestrated by the Saudi government.

Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation”, after initially claiming he had left the building before vanishing.

Turkey said the killing was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership, implying Prince Mohammed was behind the murder. The kingdom has maintained MBS had no knowledge of the killing.

Saudi authorities last month requested the death penalty for five unnamed suspects in Khashoggi’s murder, while 11 suspects were indicted and referred to trial.

Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said the video first aired on Turkish news channel A Haber, which sourced the footage through Ferhat Unlu, a journalist with the investigation unit of the Daily Sabah newspaper.

The publication is known for its close ties to Turkish intelligence and has in the past reported on a series of leaks from the Turkish investigation into the murder of Khashoggi.

The journalist recently released a co-authored book about the killing, titled Diplomatic Atrocity: The Dark Secrets of the Khashoggi Murder.

“The reporter said there is no evidence that the luggage carried by the hit team was taken out of the consul’s residence. Therefore, we are facing new questions,” Koseoglu reported late on Sunday.

“The consul-general’s residence was searched, but there was a well that the Saudis did not let the Turkish investigators search properly. These new pictures have changed the course of the investigation,” Koseoglu added.

Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center Washington, DC, called the release of the video “very significant”.

“It adds another layer of the complexity to the continuing investigation in the murder of Khashoggi, in the sense that there is one significant remaining question: where is the body?” he told Al Jazeera.

“Now we have direct evidence showing that a van left the consulate office building, went to the nearby consul-general’s house, and you see staff or members of the killing team unloading body bags or black bags of some sort. So, it leaves the impression that Khashoggi’s body ended up at the consular’s residence and that’s what the investigation should focus now, what happened to it there.”

On Sunday evening, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had a phone call with Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s former foreign minister and current state minister in charge of foreign affairs. It is not yet clear what was discussed during the call.

Last week, Saudi King Salman replaced Jubeir with Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former finance minister, in the first cabinet reshuffle since the killing of Khashoggi.

“Most probably, the Saudi side would hope that this recent cabinet reshuffle puts an end to the case and relieves Saudi Arabia from this pressure by the Turks and the international community looking for some answers – but it is clear judging from these pictures and judging from the new book that was released just a couple of days ago in Turkey … that the case is not disappearing, shuffling the cabinet or not shuffling the cabinet,” Jahshan said.

“Saudi Arabia needs to come clean, needs to explain the legal process, needs to prove that the people who have been dismissed from office because of their implication in this crime have actually been arrested and are being indicted on charges of murder.”

Saudi authorities have said that all members of the hit squad were arrested after returning to the kingdom, but the recently released book cites an unnamed source as saying that Salah al-Tubaigy, the forensic doctor who allegedly dismembered Khashoggi’s body, escaped any action.

Instead, the book says, Saudi authorities asked him to disappear from the limelight, and Tubaigy is now living in a villa in Jeddah with his family.


America’s slow-motion military and policy disaster in Afghanistan and Pakistan

An Afghan soldier stands guard at a military academy in Kabul after an attack by insurgents there Monday. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Graeme Wood writes for the Atlantic and is a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

In Kabul in December, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told Vice President Pence that more senior Taliban members had been killed in 2017 than in the previous 15 years combined. “Real progress,” Pence said. The dry language of wire reports does not reveal whether this reply was delivered in the sarcastic tone one might expect, given the utter chaos now reigning in Afghanistan. There are times when one wishes pool reporters used emoticons in their dispatches.

Steve Coll’s “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan ” is an account of a slow-motion military and policy disaster. It is sometimes as affectless as a wire report, but the unadorned facts in its narrative more than suffice to stoke bafflement and despair. After 17 years of war in Afghanistan, more than 100,000 Afghans are dead, and the Taliban and the Islamic State are competing to inflict wanton violence on civilians in the capital. The only thing U.S. policymakers know for sure is that the situation will degrade fast if we leave. It will probably degrade slowly and expensively if we stay. Previous attempts at discreet draw-downs have not, Coll notes, been dignified or had positive results. In 2014, at a ceremony marking the end of a phase of U.S. combat in Afghanistan, “the ceremony program noted that attendees should lie down flat on the ground in the event of a rocket attack.”

Coll’s book is chronological, and mostly a catalogue of mistakes made and lessons learned far too late, if at all. He quotes a soldier who summarized his job to Eliot Cohen, then counselor of the State Department: “You walk through a valley until you get into a firefight and then you keep shooting until it stops.” (“That’s a little troubling,” Cohen replies.) Various strategies are attempted — the current one, conceived at the end of the Obama era, involves vigorous use of drones and commando teams — but at no point after 2003 does the United States recover the initiative. Almost every endeavor threatens to be undone in a moment. By 2012, a quarter of the soldiers killed in the U.S.-led alliance were killed by the very Afghan soldiers they were training.

The mistakes are legion. First, in the heady days after Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. spies were fighting a war with “blood in the mouth” — an attitude that the CIA’s battlefield commander describes as a “burning need for retribution.” This attitude inspired numerous shortsighted policies in the war on terrorism, including the opening of Guantanamo Bay’s prison camp and the policy of making no distinction between al-Qaeda militants and those who harbored them. Most of the Taliban fighters were ornery yokels, with only the vaguest understanding of what America was. They did not require annihilation — of course, we slowly discovered that we couldn’t kill them all anyway — and they could, at some point, have been incorporated into the Afghan state rather than hunted in endless war. Moreover, the Taliban had provided order, and the United States had no plan to install and nurture a similarly orderly government. Afghans quickly grew irritated at an occupier skilled at fighting but uninterested or incompetent at governing.

“Directorate S,” by Steve Coll (Penguin Press/Penguin Press)

Coll’s strongest sections detail the relationship not with the Taliban but with Pakistan. Pakistan is a democracy of 193 million people. But the force that determines its national security and foreign policy is not its elected politicians but its spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. The agency has a staff of 25,000, and it is not paranoia but good sense to assume that if you are a journalist or politician in Pakistan, its agents are watching you. Foreign government officials treat its director — always a high-ranking army general — all but officially as Pakistan’s leader. Its most secretive division, Directorate S, controls covert operations “in support of the Taliban, Kashmiri guerrillas, and other violent Islamic radicals.”

ISI has been demonized both justly and unjustly; shadowy bureaucracies tend to be spotted in the shadows even when they aren’t there. But Coll’s account of the agency makes it hard to treat it as benign, overall. The Afghan Taliban fights with ISI’s blessing, and its members drop into Pakistani territory to rest and re-equip. (More than one policymaker has concluded that this problem of Pakistani sanctuaries makes defeating the Taliban impossible.) ISI analysts themselves acknowledge the desire to cultivate Taliban fighters for future deployment, especially in Kashmir. According to one estimate, Coll says, 100,000 militants are in Pakistan on ISI’s watch.

Coll reports that the late Richard Holbrooke, tasked by President Barack Obama with fixing the region, considered ISI “obsessed” with India and thought its policy toward Afghanistan was motivated by a desire to curtail perceived Indian influence. I tend to agree. Before 2001, ISI enjoyed access to Afghanistan as “strategic depth” for Pakistan’s war against India. We remember the al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, complete with monkey-bar obstacle courses, but we forget the many more Pakistani-run camps for guerrillas preparing to fight in the heights of Kashmir. ISI viewed the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as too India-friendly, and by 2003 — after the United States distracted itself with Iraq — ISI resumed its meddling in Afghanistan, to stave off Indian influence.

Finally, Coll identifies the Iraq invasion of 2003 as a costly distraction for the United States and a boon for Afghanistan’s forces of chaos. In 2003, Coll writes, “the National Security Council met to discuss Afghanistan only twice.” Meanwhile, the enemy extracted useful lessons from Iraq and began to apply them at home. Those ornery Taliban, once inwardly focused, came to learn from, and in some cases consider themselves part of, a global jihad. They acquired a taste for wanton slaughter — a hallmark of the Jordanian terror master Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but not of the Taliban previously — and became a pet movement for the religious fanatics of Pakistan and elsewhere.

Coll himself is, in the venerable tradition of newspaper reporting, absent from the narrative, although his harsh judgment of U.S. policymakers is pervasive. Absolutely nothing works; “the United States and Europe,” Coll writes, “have remade Afghanistan with billions of dollars in humanitarian and construction aid while simultaneously contributing to its violence, corruption, and instability.” “Directorate S” is one of the most unrelentingly bleak assessments of U.S. policy of recent years, and it shows, regrettably, that American errors have accumulated beyond recovery. The question is less whether Afghanistan can be saved than how its failure will affect the region. The billion-plus citizens of Pakistan and India have now enjoyed a generation without war, and the fall of Afghanistan could contribute to a premature end to that holiday.

Coll’s previous book on Afghanistan, the Pulitzer Prize winner “Ghost Wars,” is widely considered the best book on U.S. policy in Afghanistan before Sept. 11, 2001. This superlative actually undersells it: If you tore the book into two pieces, the resulting ragged scraps would be the best and second-best books on Afghanistan, respectively. This companion volume is also definitive, if different in effect. “Ghost Wars” struck a tragic tone, with a disastrous conclusion known to the reader. The conclusion of the policy blunders chronicled in “Directorate S” is not known. But because the errors so often look, in retrospect, unforced, they are just as painful to contemplate, and they should induce shudders as we consider the conclusion to which we might be hurtling this time.

The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

By Steve Coll

Pakistan’s Secret Terrorist Armies

ISI is Pakistan’s ‘first line of defence’ says Pakistani PM 

Pakistan General Elections: ISI, military ‘chose’ Imran Khan to lead country because PML-N, PPP were difficult to manipulate

Smoke rises from the site of a blast and gunfire between Taliban and Afghan forces in PD 6 as policemen keep watch in Kabul, Afghanistan March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Pakistan’s Secret War Machine

Pakistani intelligence has mainstreamed terrorism and political violence in the region.

A new nonviolent mass movement has swept through Pakistan in recent months, demanding an end to Pakistan military’s oppression and extrajudicial killings of minority ethnic Pashtuns. This grassroots movement has rattled Pakistan’s deep state, primarily the notorious spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

For decades, Pakistan’s spy service has operated as a formidable U.S. adversary, albeit dressed as a friend, especially in Afghanistan. It has endlessly frustrated the Afghan war efforts since 2001 by playing Santa Claus to all manner of anti-Afghan militant groups, mainly the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. This support has morphed the Afghan conflict into a bloody contest of competing interests and influence, where ISI’s toxic influence is supreme. ISI’s role in managing several anti-India proxy networks is also unmistakable.

ISI is no ordinary intelligence agency. It operates under Pakistan’s military command and is highly secretive, politically influential, patient, alarmingly active and ruthless to anyone they see as opposition. Unlike what some reports suggest, ISI is not a rogue agency but rather a disciplined, non-factional, cohesive and bureaucratic enterprise, where reports of defections are rare. The institution is also well-off. with its active and retired personnel frequently profiting from numerous Pakistani military-owned charitable foundations and corporations. The agency’s nearly  twenty-five thousand  personnel is mostly ethnically homogeneous, hailing predominantly from the army ranks.

More troublingly, the organization operates under a philosophy that it needs enemies to remain relevant—and in control. This paranoia has allowed the service to manufacture pet militant groups and imaginary threats to drive its motives. To do so, the service allegedly maintains a roster of nearly  one hundred thousand  militant fighters at its discretion.

Inside Pakistan, ISI sits at the core of the Pakistani state. It has regularly challenged the country’s civilian rule and has hampered Pakistan’s democratic progress through systematic coercive campaigns against dissenting voices, including politicians, activists, academics and the media. It has forged alliances with extremist religious groups and fringe political parties meant to control the Pakistani people by keeping them subservient to the state. As such, ISI has used old tactics wedded to the new, including intimidation, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and assassinations. The service also frequently engages in sabotage activities, psychological operations and influence campaigns. More worryingly, ISI’s infatuation with jihadi groups has adversely affected the agency and has turned segments of the agency increasingly extremist.

In Afghanistan, ISI’s Afghan operations are undertaken by at least three units. The first is Directorate S , the principal covert action arm that directs and oversees the Afghan policy, including militant and terrorist outfits and their operations. The second unit is the Special Service Group (SSG), also known as the Pakistani SS, and are the army’s special forces element that was established in the 1950s as a hedge against the communists. Today, some SSG units effectively operate as ISI’s paramilitary wing and have fought alongside the Taliban until 2001. In other instances, SSG advisors have allegedly been embedded with Taliban fighters to provide tactical military advice, including on special operations, surveillance, and reconnaissance. In fact, encountering ISI operatives fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan has become a common occurrence that no longer surprise Afghan and American forces. The third ISI unit is the Afghan Logistics Cell, a transport network inside Pakistan facilitated by members of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps that provide logistical support to the Taliban and their families. This includes space, weapons, vehicles, protection, money, identity cards and safe passage.

Such ISI support networks have been designed to break Afghanistan into pieces and then remold it into a pliant state. The objective is to complicate Afghanistan’s security landscape and drive its political climate into an uncharted constitutional territory to create a vacuum, which inevitably places the Taliban in the driving seat. These support actions have visibly made the group more effective. However, the Pakistani mantra is that they maintain contacts with the Taliban but exercise no control over them.

Yet the ground realities suggest otherwise. The Taliban has recently become deadlier and adaptive. The old Taliban has, in effect, transformed into a new Taliban—decentralized and sated with recruits, including mid-level commanders, who come fresh out of the Pakistani madrassas eager to kill. This new decentralization has enabled the group’s young frontline commanders to exercise greater autonomy in the field, allowing ISI to leverage them for their needs. ISI reportedly manage their leadership succession, bypassing the Taliban’s chain of command.

The Taliban’s devolution of authority has also seemingly fractured the movement’s unity and cohesion and has resulted in multiple power centers within the movement. The group is increasingly taken over by the Haqqani Network, which controls at least 15 percent of the Taliban’s manpower and influences many smaller Taliban fronts. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, and his principal deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, are allegedly on bad terms, which has also disturbed the movement’s unity. The new Taliban’s funding now streams not only from the Pakistani intelligence but also from drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion and kidnapping for ransom, where the Haqqanis play a seminal role.Meanwhile, some Taliban groups have taken on to undertaking basic state-like functions, including levying taxes on local businesses, overseeing kangaroo courts, resolving local disputes, and operating organized schooling. The Taliban uses such state-like measures to create legitimacy for themselves among the local people. Unsurprisingly, this has formed a tacit social pact between helpless local Afghans and the Taliban—a bargain in which the group guarantee no harm to the local people in exchange for their compliance. However, this frail Taliban-civilian relationship exists because of the Taliban’s intimidation and killing campaign, rather than peoples’ compatibility with the group.

More vitally, the Taliban have adopted a robust resource-efficient operational strategy meant not only to fragment Afghan forces but also to capture more territory. This strategy has enabled the group to determine where and when to fight, in which they skillfully avoid the strongest elements of Afghan forces and instead target where they are weakest. The group frequently employs similar tactics in their operations such as ambushes, traps, surprise and simultaneous coordinated attacks and, increasingly, the use of snipers. At the same time, the group has advised their fighters not to give away information upon capture for up to forty-eight hours to allow Taliban leaders the time to render any reports useless. Pakistani intelligence has been in many respects in sync with this Taliban strategy. In contrast, Afghan forces are often blind on the battlefield.

Simply put, Pakistan’s ISI has turned terrorism into a school of thought, directed from the country’s governed spaces that remain undefeated. What can the United States do to unravel the Gordian knot of the Pakistani intelligence and its support to terrorist groups? Three things.

First, the United States should begin to treat the Pakistani spy agency similar to how it manages Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This would involve the U.S. Treasury Department adding Pakistan’s ISI and its affiliate, the Special Service Group—akin to Iran’s Quds Force—to the U.S.’ antiterrorism sanctions list. By doing so, the United States would impose targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, on active and retired Pakistani intelligence personnel with ties to terrorist networks. Meanwhile, Washington and Kabul should encourage defections within the Taliban ranks, meant to loosen ISI’s grip on the group. Washington can extend defected and corrigible Taliban members some sanctions relief, including relaxing travel restrictions, to help build confidence.

Second, bolster the Afghan intelligence apparatus to become relevant and in sync with the Taliban’s shifting strategy. This would require boosting Afghan intelligence capabilities to include a 360-degree collection effort to better understand the internal leadership dynamics and changing tactics of the Taliban and other groups. Similarly, the Afghan Defense Ministry should increase the number of its S2 intelligence and information officers in Afghan forces to handle tactical intelligence and security clearances at the unit level. These officers should also be trained to trace militants, track Taliban surveillance routes, manage interrogations and weed out infiltrators. Meanwhile, the Afghan government should deploy counterintelligence assets to its prisons to limit the communication of Taliban detainees with their leaders outside.

Third, the Trump administration should cease the cyclical pattern of its tempestuous relationship with Pakistan. Unfortunately, America’s Pakistan policy has followed a much too predictable pattern for over sixty years that incentivizes the Pakistani military for cooperation that in fact does not truly exist. This recurrent pattern of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is often tactical and reactive. In the first half of the cycle, for example, the relationship spins around convening strategic dialogues and state visits by Pakistani leaders followed by U.S. military assistance and other concessions. But in the cycle’s other half, the warm period abruptly comes to an end until an unexpected event prompts the next standard cycle in the bilateral relationship. Instead, the United States should adopt fewer carrots and more sticks policy and ensure that the stick is tough enough to change Pakistani state behavior meaningfully.

In short, Pakistani intelligence has mainstreamed terrorism and political violence in the region. In Afghanistan, ISI appears increasingly confident in its assertiveness and is seeking a maximalist outcome. It is operating from a position of strength, but no position is so strong that it is permanent. ISI still requires access to funds and defense supplies for its reach, internal stability, as well as legitimacy. The United States can deny or strictly condition that access to them. Meanwhile, Washington should voice its support to the peaceful Pashtun movement, an investment that could potentially pay off and serve the United States in the fight against extremism.

Javid Ahmad, a nonresident fellow at West Point’s Modern War Institute, is a fellow at the Atlantic Council. The views expressed here are his own. You can follow him on Twitter at @ahmadjavid.


Russian Diplomatic Sources Claim Rukban Refugee Camp Shrouded In Heavy Smoke, Possibly Large Cremation Operation

A military-diplomatic source has told Sputnik that heavy smoke has recently been seen near the Rukban refugee camp situated near the Al-Tanf US military base. According to the source, it could be a sign that militants, “harboured by the US military” have intensified their activities following the announcement of the impending US pull-out.

The source believes that these militants could be burning bodies of the diseased camp inhabitants, who died of illnesses and famine because they failed to receive humanitarian aid shipments. He also suggested that international humanitarian and human right organisations will be spending years, sorting out the “legacy” of the US stay in Syria.

The Rukban refugee camp is located near the Syrian-Jordan border in the zone of responsibility of the US Al-Tanf base. Russia has accused the US base of providing safe haven for terrorists, who later conducted attacks on the positions of the Syrian army.

There Are No Good Reasons For Staying In Syria, Only Really Bad Reasons, With No Valid Justification

The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad reason the military wants to stay in Syria


The president has made the right decision. Having won the war against ISIS, he does not want to lose the peace by getting into a military conflict with the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces, or with the Iranians or the Russians, or even with the Turks for that matter.

As the father of an Army officer who is in theater right now, I think I have a right to an opinion. And in my opinion, the desert sands of Syria are not worth a single American life.

Everyone agrees that the commander in chief should bring our troops home from any overseas combat theater as soon as the mission is complete.

But what is the mission?

Was it the defeat of ISIS? Or is it “regime change” and “nation-building”?

When President Trump took office, he was assured that the reason we sent troops into Syria in 2014 was to assist local Kurdish forces in destroying the Islamic State. He approved the continuation of this limited mission. This mission is now complete. The Islamic State no longer exists as a territorial entity.

To be sure, scattered bands of ISIS terrorists — numbering perhaps 500 — still operate in parts of eastern Syria. But the mopping-up operation can be done by the Turks, or by the Syrian army, or even by the Russians. It certainly does not require a continued US presence, and Trump has declared “mission accomplished.”

The Washington foreign-policy swamp is outraged by Trump’s “mission accomplished,” calling it “precipitous” and “reckless.”

What they are not telling you is that, for them, the “mission” was never primarily about ISIS; it was about eliminating the Assad regime. The Islamic State was simply a convenient cover to deploy troops into Syria. And now, having taken control of everything east of the Euphrates River with the help of the indigenous Kurdish population, they want to attack Assad.

Overthrowing the Syrian dictator has been their goal since the beginning of that country’s civil war in 2011. Two different aid programs, one run by the Pentagon and the other run by the CIA, were set up to fund and empower the Syrian rebels. Both failed to dislodge the Assad regime, and both were ended by Trump by mid-2017.

Still, establishment types managed to convince the new president to expand the scope of the Syria operation. In mid-January of this year, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the US intended to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to not only defeat ISIS but to oust Assad and counter Iran’s influence.

Even as late as this September, the Washington Post, citing unnamed officials in the State Department, claimed that Trump had agreed to implement a new strategy that indefinitely extended the military effort with the goal of “establishing a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community.”

The same foreign-policy geniuses that gave us the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were back, offering the same old tired, unworkable ideas: regime change and nation building.

This mission creep was sold to the president as a continuation of the war on ISIS.

But when he learned that the Islamic caliphate was no more, he rightly decided it was time for America’s boys and girls to come home.

The Syrian Civil War is over. Obama failed to give the Democratic forces there the support that they needed at a time when it would have made a difference.

If we stay in Syria very much longer we will wind up fighting not ISIS, but the Syrian government forces, and perhaps the Russians as well.

If we stay in Syria very much longer we will wind up fighting not ISIS, but the Syrian government forces, and perhaps the Russians as well.

Our forces east of the Euphrates have already destroyed a Russian armored column that was advancing on them in a hostile manner. That battle, which resulted in a couple hundred Russian casualties, could easily have escalated into a wider conflict.

Of course, Vladimir Putin is happy to see us pull out of Syria, but so what? Let Russia pour the blood of its young men into the desert sands of the Middle East for a change.

President Trump is criticized for making the decision to withdraw after consulting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. But why shouldn’t we be working with our NATO ally, which has its own concerns about terrorists on its southern border?

The same people who love to attack this president for not working more closely with our NATO allies have now turned on a dime and are criticizing him for coordinating with Turkey. It’s a wonder that they don’t get whiplash.

Much of the angst in the Pentagon over America’s withdrawal from Syria has to do with the perception that we are abandoning our Kurdish “allies.” But the Kurds fought alongside us not because they had any particular affection for America, but because the caliphate was occupying their towns and villages.

I can understand the loyalty that some American commanders on the ground, including outgoing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, feel for their Kurdish battle brothers. But I am glad that our president understands he was elected to keep Americans safe, not Kurds. And not Syrians, or Iraqis, or Afghans either, for that matter.

There is no reason to keep American forces in Syria.

In fact, there is no reason to keep American forces in harm’s way, separated from their families and loved ones, in any foreign country unless it directly benefits the United States in direct, tangible ways.

As for me and my family, we are looking forward to having our son home soon.

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order

White House Denies That Trump Ordered Draw-down of US Forces In Afghanistan

[SEE: Pentagon withdrawing 7,000 troops from Afghanistan]

White House says Trump has not made a determination to drawdown US military presence in Afghanistan.


A week after reports about a possible withdrawal of US troops from the country, a White House spokesman, quoted by the Bloomberg News, said the US President Donald Trump has not ordered the Pentagon to pull troops out of Afghanistan.   

“The president has not made a determination to drawdown US military presence in Afghanistan and he has not directed the Department of Defense to begin the process of withdrawing US personnel from Afghanistan,” the Bloomberg News quoted Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, as saying in an emailed statement on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report about the possible withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

But, the US and NATO Forces Commander in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller in a meeting with Nangarhar governor last week on Sunday assured that they will continue to support the Afghan forces even if they get an order about troop withdrawal – an issue which Miller said is rumors by “newspapers”.

“I have seen the same rumors I have from the newspapers but all I would assure you is first of all I have no orders, so nothing changed,” he said in the meeting.

There are at least 14,000 forces in Afghanistan who are engaged in counterterror as well as train and advise mission for their Afghan counterparts.

Despite Trump Pullout, France’s Macron To Keep 9 Illegal French Bases In Syria

France admits military presence in northern Syria

Days after US President Donald Trump ordered US troops to withdraw from Syria, French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said that Paris would maintain its presence in Syria.

A few days after French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep regret” over Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out from Syria, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu claimed that France would maintain 9 military sites in the country, while the total number of French soldiers deployed in “YPG/PKK-held parts” of Syria east of the Euphrates River amounts to only 200 troops.

The deployments reportedly include artillery batteries, technical personnel and special forces units.According to the media outlet, French troops are present in the northern town of Ain al-Arab (Kobani), the Mistanur Hill and Sarrin districts, the town of Ain Issa, the Lafarge concrete plant in the village of Harab Isk, the Raqqa military base, the Kahar military site, the Tabqa airbase, and in parts of Manbij.

Anadolu Agency went on to claim that the French forces mostly rely on the US for logistics and otherwise are said to be under the protection of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara considers terrorist organisations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier warned that France’s continued military presence in Syria wouldn’t benefit anyone.

“If France is staying to contribute to Syria’s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the [militia], this will bring no benefit to anyone”.

Shortly after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of all 2,000 troops from Syria, his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, stressed that nobody should forget about the Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces (SDF) fighting against terrorists in the region.

“An ally must reliable and act in coordination with other allies”, he said.

Earlier this week, French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau was cited as saying that France would maintain its presence in Syria as “the fight against terrorism is not over”.

READ MORE: Erdogan Decides to Postpone Military Op in Syria After Talk With Trump

French Defence Minister Florence Parly, in turn, tweeted that “Daesh is weaker than ever. Daesh went into hiding and insurgency in the way it fights. Daesh has lost more than 90% of its territory. Daesh no longer has the logistics it could have”.

TWEET: “But Daesh was not removed from the map, nor were its roots, it is necessary to use military force to resolutely defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation”.

Following a phone conversation with Trump last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to postpone the start of a military operation against Kurds in Syria. Erdogan also stated that Trump had made his decision to withdraw American troops from the Arab republic after he vowed that Turkey would clear all remaining Daesh forces from Syria.

*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

Trump comes clean… from world’s policeman to thug running a global protection racket

Trump comes clean… from world’s policeman to thug running a global protection racket

Trump comes clean… from world’s policeman to thug running a global protection racket

In a surprise visit to US forces in Iraq this week, Trump said he had no intention of withdrawing the troops in that country, who have been there for nearly 15 years since GW Bush invaded back in 2003.

Hinting at private discussions with commanders in Iraq, Trump boasted that US forces would in the future launch attacks from there into Syria if and when needed. Presumably that rapid force deployment would apply to other countries in the region, including Afghanistan.

In other words, in typical business-style transactional thinking, Trump sees the pullout from Syria and Afghanistan as a cost-cutting exercise for US imperialism. Regarding Syria, he has bragged about Turkey being assigned, purportedly, to “finish off” terror groups. That’s Trump subcontracting out US interests.

Critics and supporters of Trump are confounded. After his Syria and Afghanistan pullout call, domestic critics and NATO allies have accused him of walking from the alleged “fight against terrorism” and of ceding strategic ground to US adversaries Russia and Iran.

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© REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst

Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters have viewed his decision in more benign light, cheering the president for “sticking it to” the deep state and military establishment, assuming he’s delivering on electoral promises to end overseas wars.

However, neither view gets what is going on. Trump is not scaling back US military power; he is rationalizing it like a cost-benefit analysis, as perhaps only a real-estate-wheeler-dealer-turned president would appreciate. Trump is not snubbing US militarism or NATO allies, nor is he letting loose an inner peace spirit. He is as committed to projecting American military as ruthlessly and as recklessly as any other past occupant of the White House. The difference is Trump wants to do it on the cheap.

Here’s what he said to reporters on Air Force One before touching down in Iraq:

“The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. It’s not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States… We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven’t even heard about. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.” He added: “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.”

Laughably, Trump’s griping about US forces “spread all over the world” unwittingly demonstrates the insatiable, monstrous nature of American militarism. But Trump paints this vice as a virtue, which, he complains, Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in.

As US troops greeted him in Iraq, the president made explicit how the new American militarism would henceforth operate.

“America shouldn’t be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price,” Trump said.

This reiterates a big bugbear for this president in which he views US allies and client regimes as “not pulling their weight” in terms of military deployment. Trump has been browbeating European NATO members to cough up more on military budgets, and he has beratedthe Saudis and other Gulf Arab regimes to pay more for American interventions.

Notably, however, Trump has never questioned the largesse that US taxpayers fork out every year to Israel in the form of nearly $4 billion in military aid. To be sure, that money is not a gift because much of it goes back to the Pentagon from sales of fighter jets and missile systems.

The long-held notion that the US has served as the “world’s policeman” is, of course, a travesty.

Since WWII, all presidents and the Washington establishment have constantly harped on, with self-righteousness, about America’s mythical role as guarantor of global security.

Dozens of illegal wars on almost every continent and millions of civilian deaths attest to the real, heinous conduct of American militarism as a weapon to secure US corporate capitalism.

But with US economic power in historic decline amid a national debt now over $22 trillion, Washington can no longer afford its imperialist conduct in the traditional mode of direct US military invasions and occupations.

Perhaps, it takes a cost-cutting, raw-toothed capitalist like Trump to best understand the historic predicament, even if only superficially.

This gives away the real calculation behind his troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan. Iraq is going to serve as a new regional hub for force projection on a demand-and-supply basis. In addition, more of the dirty work can be contracted out to Washington’s clients like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who will be buying even more US weaponry to prop the military-industrial complex.

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This would explain why Trump made his hurried, unexpected visit to Iraq this week. Significantly, he said“A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking”, regarding his decision on withdrawing forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since his troop pullout plan announced on December 19, there has been serious pushback from senior Pentagon figures, hawkish Republicans and Democrats, and the anti-Trump media. The atmosphere is almost seditious against the president. Trump flying off to Iraq on Christmas night was reportedly his first visit to troops in an overseas combat zone since becoming president two years ago.

What Trump seemed to be doing was reassuring the Pentagon and corporate America that he is not going all soft and dovish. Not at all. He is letting them know that he is aiming for a leaner, meaner US military power, which can save money on the number of foreign bases by using rapid reaction forces out of places like Iraq, as well as by subcontracting operations out to regional clients.

Thus, Trump is not coming clean out of any supposed principle when he cuts back US forces overseas. He is merely applying his knack for screwing down costs and doing things on the cheap as a capitalist tycoon overseeing US militarism.

During past decades when American capitalism was relatively robust, US politicians and media could indulge in the fantasy of their military forces going around the world in large-scale formations to selflessly “defend freedom and democracy.”

Today, US capitalism is broke. It simply can’t sustain its global military empire. Enter Donald Trump with his “business solutions.”

But in doing so, this president, with his cheap utilitarianism and transactional exploitative mindset, lets the cat out of the bag. As he says, the US cannot be the world’s policeman. Countries are henceforth going to have to pay for “our protection.”

Inadvertently, Trump is showing up US power for what it really is: a global thug running a protection racket.

It’s always been the case. Except now it’s in your face. Trump is no Smedley Butler, the former Marine general who in the 1930s condemned US militarism as a Mafia operation. This president is stupidly revealing the racket, while still thinking it is something virtuous.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

Kurds Invite Syrian Army To Manbij, Between Them and Turkish Army

Syrian Standoff: Kurds Ask Assad For Help Fighting Turkish Forces As Americans Leave

Syria’s Kurds look to Russia, Damascus to help protect border

Massive convoy of Turkish-backed rebels deploys to Manbij front-lines

Syrian Forces Trying to Run ‘Psychological Operation’ in Manbij – Erdogan 

US denies reports of Syrian regime incursion in Manbij

Syrian army says it has entered key city of Manbij after appeal from Kurdish fighters

Syria’s army said Friday it had entered the northern city of Manbij for the first time in years after Kurdish fighters called on Syrian forces to protect the area from the threat of a Turkish attack.

Syria’s military command announced in a televised statement that its troops had raised the Syrian flag in Manbij following what it described as an appeal by people in the area.
The US military rejected the Syrian claims Friday, describing them as “incorrect.” One US official with knowledge of the situation told CNN that there were no Syrian regime forces Friday in Manbij, but that the US assessment was that Syrian troops were moving closer to the city.

Inherent Resolve


Despite incorrect information about changes to military forces in the city of Manbij, Syria, has seen no indication that these claims are true. We call on everyone to respect the integrity of Manbij and the safety of its citizens.

The United States has Special Forces on the ground in the area, according to the US official. One Manbij resident told CNN he had seen a US patrol near a mosque Friday in the city center, and a Syrian opposition group told CNN that US forces still controlled Manbij.
Syria’s announcement came after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, issued a statement urging President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to “assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particular Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion.”
The YPG is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led fighting force that is the main US partner on the ground in the battle against ISIS.
The development comes more than a week after President Donald Trump blindsided allies in the region by announcing that US troops were withdrawing from Syria and declaring that the war against ISIS had been won.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned last week in disagreement over Trump’s decision, which could leave the Syrian Kurds, whom the United States has assisted and armed, at risk from both ISIS and Turkey. The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, and no specific date for their withdrawal has been given.
John Bolton, the US national security adviser, said in a tweet Friday that he will be visiting Israel and Turkey next month to discuss “security challenges” amid the withdrawal.
“Looking forward to visiting Israel & Turkey in January. We will discuss our continued work confronting security challenges facing allies & partners in the region, including the next phase of the fight against ISIS, as the U.S. begins to bring troops home from Syria,” he said.
US forces' vehicles and structures are seen Wednesday on the outskirts of Manbij, Syria.
US forces’ vehicles and structures are seen Wednesday on the outskirts of Manbij, Syria.
Turkey, a NATO member, also has forces in the area and considers the Syrian Kurds a terrorist group linked to a Kurdish insurgency inside its country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed skepticism over the Syrian claims Friday, saying he had not heard “anything conclusive” from intelligence or Russia, a key backer of Assad.
“We know that Syria is in a psychological action toward Manbij, we know they are waving their flags, but there is nothing conclusive or certain,” Erdogan told journalists Friday. He reiterated that Turkey’s goal in Syria was for “the terror organizations to leave. If they leave, we will have nothing to do there.”
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov welcomed the developments Friday, describing them as “a positive step toward stabilization of the situation.”
“Expansion of the government control zone is a positive trend,” Peskov said, adding that Moscow and Ankara would discuss the situation in Syria in a ministerial meeting Saturday.
Trump is leaving the fight against ISIS (and influence in the Middle East) to Russia and Iran
Kurdish forces have maintained control over swaths of northern Syria over the past few years. But in January, Turkey launched an operation targeting Kurdish groups in northwest Syria to clear the border area of militias it considers to be terrorist organizations.
Clashes between the Turkish military and Syrian Democratic Forces have intermittently plagued and delayed the final operations against ISIS.
The YPG said Friday that following its withdrawal from Manbij, it would be “focusing on the fight against ISIS on all fronts in the east of the Euphrates.”
The YPG had some small skirmishes with Syrian government forces earlier in the war, but it allowed the Syrian military to maintain footholds in its areas of control.

Did Pakistan Or China Car-bomb the Leader of BLA, Baloch Liberation Army In Kandahar?

The Ministry of Interior Affairs says six people were killed in the suicide bombing in Kandahar on Monday.


The Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Wednesday said that at least six civilians were killed after a suicide bomber targeted a civilian vehicle in Aino Mina Township in Kandahar city on Monday. 

Sources meanwhile said that Aslam Baloch, the leader of Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) was among those killed in the attack.

But, the Ministry of Interior has not confirmed the report.

“A number of civilians were killed as a result of the suicide attack in Aino Mina Township. They are six people and two others were wounded. It is said that a number of Baloch nationals were among those martyred,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

While the Pakistani media reported that Asalam Baloch was the mastermind of suicide attack on Chinese embassy in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, a number of political experts described Baloch as a migrant in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan asked for serious suppressing of separatists on Afghan soil when the Afghanistan-Pakistan intelligence sharing agreement was signed. It had a big meaning. I hope that this agreement is not in the implementation phase or it is not executed in informal shape, because it would have devastative implications ahead, in the view of that, the Baloch was targeted by Pakistan’s ISI,” said political commentator Ajmal Balochzada.

The Baloch separatist Aslam Baloch was living in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province since 2005.

“The Baloch people are fighting very tough. The Pakistani military does not want them to be free, because they will lose 60 to 70 percent of Pakistan’s territory if the Balochis get freedom,” said political analyst Dawar Nadi.

Aslam Baloch has been one of the mainstream critics of the Pakistani government. He had sustained wounds in the past after a clash with Pakistani security forces.

Israeli Aggression Over Lebanon Endangered Two Civilian Airliners

Russia slams Israel for ‘gross violation’ in Syria strikes

Fenianos Says 2 Flights ‘Escape Disaster’ over Lebanon during Syria Raid

Two civilian flights “narrowly escaped a humanitarian disaster” Tuesday over Lebanon during an Israeli raid on targets in Syria, a Lebanese minister said on Wednesday.

Caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos called Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to “put him in the picture of what happened yesterday” during Israel’s airstrike, the National News Agency said.

“Lebanon miraculously escaped a humanitarian disaster that was about to hit the passengers of two civilian planes in Lebanon’s airspace during the Israeli aggression against south Damascus that took place from Lebanese airspace,” Fenianos told Hariri according to the agency.

“They agreed that Lebanon will file an urgent complaint with the U.N. Security Council against Israel in order to reach a resolution that would protect Lebanon and its civilians,” NNA said.

Earlier in the day, the Russian military also said that that the Israeli airstrike had endangered two civilian flights.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that six Israeli F-16 jets launched the “provocative” raid at the moment when two civilian airliners were preparing to land in Damascus and Beirut, creating a “direct threat” to the aircraft.

Konashenkov said the Syrian military didn’t fully engage its air defense assets to avoid accidentally hitting the passenger jets. He added that Syrian air traffic controllers redirected the Damascus-bound plane to the Russian air base in Hemeimeem.

Konashenkov said the Syrian air defense forces shot down 14 of the 16 precision-guided bombs dropped by the Israeli jets, while the remaining two hit a Syrian military depot, injuring three Syrian soldiers.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Good Riddance to America’s Syria Policy

Good Riddance to America’s Syria Policy

As usual, Donald Trump has done the right thing in the wrong way.


President Donald Trump walks with Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 11. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump walks with Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 11. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images) 

President Donald Trump’s sudden decision Wednesday to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria has set off an all-too-predictable debate between those who believe he is abandoning the sacred mantle of U.S. global leadership and those who believe that Syria is not a vital interest and that U.S. power should be deployed elsewhere or preserved for future contingencies. Hard-line hawks such as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and neoconservatives such as Max Boot were quick to denounce Trump’s decision, along with other establishment figures (and Trump critics) such as former CIA Director John Brennan. By contrast, libertarians on the right and noninterventionists on the left have embraced the move, despite their deep aversion to Trump himself and their concerns about most of his other policies.

What’s really at stake in Syria? Is Trump following in former President Barack Obama’s footsteps (as David Sanger of the New York Times suggests), and continuing a “retreat” from America’s previous engagement in the region? Or has Trump simply ordered a prudent redeployment of a very small U.S. force, thereby ending an otherwise open-ended commitment whose strategic purpose was unclear? What broader lessons, if any, should be drawn from this latest episode?

For starters, this situation reminds us how stupid it was for the United States to have invaded Iraq back in 2003. Despite the recent (and richly deserved) demise of the pro-war Weekly Standard—the publication that consistently acted as a cheerleader for the campaign for war—there are a lot of unrepentant neoconservatives out there who still believe the solution to most global problems is the vigorous application of American power. But the war that the neocons dreamed up, lobbied for, and eventually sold to a gullible President George W. Bush is a big part of why the Middle East is so screwed up today. Had there been no Iraq War, there would have been no U.S. occupation, no anti-American insurgency, no “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” and therefore no Islamic State. Toppling Saddam Hussein also removed Iran’s main regional adversary and was thus a free gift to the clerical regime. Yet the strategic geniuses (including current U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton) who promoted this ill-fated scheme keep recycling new versions of the same policies today.

Second, we should be wary of the breathless rhetoric that is already being used to describe Trump’s decision. The Times’ headline (“A Strategy of Retreat”) is wholly misleading, as the orderly removal of a small U.S. force is hardly a Dunkirk-style evacuation or akin to Napoleon’s withdrawal from Moscow. Nor does it herald the end of the U.S. presence in the Middle East. After all, the United States still has over 40,000 soldiers, sailors, and air personnel in or around the region, and it still provides generous military aid and vast amounts of weaponry to its regional clients.

Third, it is equally misleading to talk about the United States “losing” Syria, because the country was never America’s to begin with. On the contrary, it has been a Soviet or Russian client state since the mid-1950s, which is of course why Moscow has worked hard to keep the Bashar al-Assad regime from falling. To say that Trump (or Obama before him) “lost” Syria implies that the United States once controlled its fate, or that it had a strategy for gaining control that had some reasonable prospect of success. But if we have learned nothing from the past 15 years, it is that the United States cannot control any of the countries in the Middle East and should not spend a lot of blood or treasure trying to do the impossible.

Fourth, it is worth remembering that prior to the Syrian uprising (and the subsequent emergence of the Islamic State), Washington never cared very much about who ran Syria and certainly didn’t see Syria’s internal politics as a vital U.S. concern. U.S. presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush did business with the Assad family when it was in the U.S. interest to do so, even though everyone knew it was a brutal dictatorship. Yet when the Arab Spring erupted, the Obama administration suddenly concluded that Syria’s internal politics mattered greatly and that “Assad must go,” even though they had no idea how to remove him or how to create a new government to replace his Alawite regime.

Fifth, many observers have been quick to see the redeployment as a loss for the United States and a big win for Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, or whomever, and to assume that some or all of these actors will quickly consolidate a lot of valuable influence in Syria. Maybe so, but Syria isn’t much of a prize at this point and may even be something of a liability. It was always a weak state, and its economy and infrastructure have been severely damaged by a punishing civil war. Instead of being a major strategic asset, Syria is more likely to turn into a costly quagmire for the supposed victors. The area remains a cauldron of competing political forces, and as the political scientist Mark Katz points out, their competing interests are likely to come to the fore once the United States withdraws. If so, then handing the Syrian quagmire off to others could be a net win for the United States.

Instead of obsessing about who is supposedly “winning” and who is supposedly “losing,” the United States should start by identifying its core strategic interests. When it comes to the Middle East, its main strategic interest is helping ensure that Middle East oil and gas continues to flow to world markets. (The United States gets very little energy from the region these days, but a sudden cutoff would damage the world economy and thus harm America as well.) This goal does not require the United States to control the region or dictate local political arrangements, however; it merely means helping prevent any other state from taking over the region. Fortunately, the region is as divided today as it has ever been, and the danger that any state (including Iran, Russia, China, or anyone else) will take over is vanishingly small. If that is the case, then staying in Syria contributes little to U.S. security or prosperity.

But hold on: What if the remnants of the Islamic State manage to reconstitute themselves, regain some territory, and sponsor new terrorist attacks abroad? Such a development is obviously undesirable, but the danger does not justify keeping U.S. troops in Syria for another one, two, or five years. The ideology of a group like the Islamic State is not eradicated by bombs, drones, artillery shells, or bullets, and the idea of violent resistance can live on even if every member alive today is killed or captured. The ultimate protection against such groups is not an open-ended American commitment but rather the creation of effective local governments and institutions. Legitimate and effective local authority is not something the United States can provide, however; its presence in such places may even be counterproductive. After all, the Islamic State’s ideological message rests in part on opposition to foreign interference, and it has long used the U.S. presence in the region as a recruiting tool. Getting out of Syria won’t neutralize that message right away, but it could make the group less persuasive over time.

Moreover, despite its fearsome image and the hype its brutal tactics have received, the Islamic State was never an existential threat to the United States. It did sponsor or inspire a number of lethal attacks in the United States and in Europe, but the actual risk it posed to the country was negligible. To be specific, attacks directed or inspired by the Islamic State have killed 64 Americans (out of a population of roughly 325 million) and roughly 350 Europeans (out of a population of more than 500 million). These deaths are deeply regrettable, but the danger does not rise to the level of an existential threat and in fact pales in comparison to more prosaic sources of harm.

A more legitimate concern is the fate of Kurdish militias that have been vital partners in the anti-Islamic State campaign. Trump’s critics rightly point out that his decision in effect abandons the Kurds, and I have some sympathy for this view. But America’s moral obligation to the Kurds is not unlimited, and—rightly or wrongly—the long-term consequences for the United States are unlikely to be significant. The Kurds were not fighting the Islamic State in order to do Uncle Sam a favor; they did it out of their own self-interest. Welcome to the brutal world of international politics: Nations and states cooperate when their interests align, but cooperation often ceases once interests diverge.

In calling an end to our involvement in Syria, therefore, Trump did the right thing. (In case any of you are wondering, I found it hard to type that sentence.) But true to form, he has done it in the worst possible way. There seems to have been no advance warning or interagency preparation for the decision, which means that the timing, arrangements, and broader implications have not been gamed out in advance. (It is therefore no surprise that the decision on Syria was soon followed by the announcement that Secretary of Defense James Mattiswould be retiring in February). As is typical for him, Trump did not consult with U.S. allies or inform them in advance. Nor did he make any serious effort to use the U.S. presence in Syria to orchestrate a diplomatic process to stabilize the country or use the possibility of a U.S. withdrawal to elicit parallel concessions from others. Like his phony nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un or his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Trump was once again demonstrating the “art of the giveaway”: making unilateral U.S. concessions and getting nothing in return.

Finally, the decision reveals that Trump’s approach to the Middle East possesses neither consistency nor a coherent strategic logic. In addition to doubling down on America’s “special relationships” with Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia (thereby encouraging each of these governments to misbehave in various ways), Trump, Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to put “maximum pressure” on Iran. Whatever one thinks of this policy—and I happen to believe it is deeply mistaken—his latest decision is clearly at odds with it. Over time, such twists, turns, and inconsistencies can only fuel the suspicion that Trump really doesn’t give a damn about what is good for the country (or the world) and is motivated solely by whatever might salvage his diminishing political fortunes.

Even when he does the right thing, in short, Trump manages to maximize the costs and minimize the benefits. But at this point in his presidency, that should no longer be much of a surprise.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. @stephenwalt

Brit Press Acting As ISIS Spokesman In Libyan Attack…making claims that no one else makes

[SEE:  brit press]

British Propaganda and Disinformation–An Imperial and Colonial Tradition


ISIS storms foreign office in Libya: At least four dead in Tripoli terror attack

A TERROR attack in Tripoli, Libya, has killed at least four people, with ISIS suspected of carrying out the attack.

Libya terror attack: Tripoli scene

Libya terror attack: Tripoli explosion as terrorists storm foreign office (Image: REUTERS)

An explosion and a shooting took place after terrorists stormed Libya’s foreign ministry in the capital of Tripoli. A number of terror attackers were involved in the attack according to the Libyan government’s official television channel. An employee at the ministry said three people were killed and six wounded. The health ministry confirmed one dead and nine wounded. The three attackers were suspected to be Islamic State militants, the security source, who requested not to be named, said.

One was killed by the ministry’s guards and the two others blew themselves up, the source said.

Heavy smoke rose from the building which was surrounded by security forces as wounded people were rushed to hospital.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala was safe, a ministry employee said.

The area is on lockdown with all employees and individuals in nearby buildings told to evacuate.

Libya’s security forces have taken control of all buildings in the vicinity of the foreign ministry and cordoned off the area.

Witnesses said attackers stormed the building and started shooting with heavy gunfire heard.

Trump Claims That Saudis Will Pay ‘Necessary Money’ To Rebuild Syria…but…which Syria?

Trump: Saudi to pay ‘necessary money’ to help rebuild Syria

Without offering details, US president thanks Riyadh for stepping in to support Syria following US military withdrawal.

US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabiawill spend the “necessary money” to help reconstruct war-torn Syria, without offering any details.

Trump’s comments on Monday came days after he took to Twitter to announce the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria while also abruptly declaring victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in the country. The surprising decision on Wednesday contradicted his own experts’ assessments and sparked surprise and anger among some of Washington’s allies.

On Monday, in his latest unexpected foreign policy statement made on Twitter, Trump said Riyadh would step in to support Syria following the US military withdrawal.

“Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See?” Trump wrote.

“Isn’t it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbours rather than a Great Country, the US, that is 5,000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!”

Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See? Isn’t it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!


There was no immediate comment from the Saudi government, which in October delivered $100m to the US, two months after pledging the sum to help stabilise parts of Syria and just as the international outcry over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Riyadh’s shifting narratives about his fate grew.

‘Who will get the money?’

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, said the initial reaction to Trump’s announcement was “one of bafflement” as no other US officials had commented on his statement which also came on a day that the president was not scheduled to have a telephonic conversation with the Saudi leadership.

“It came out of nowhere and there are more questions than answers, including how much money is he talking about. We know that the Saudis in October delivered $100m intended for Syria reconstruction but the president’s tweet seemed to imply that there was more money that is going to be forthcoming,” said Reynolds.

“Also, how will this money be spent? When will it be disbursed? And most importantly, in a country that is divided into many different spheres of influence, who will get the money?”

The US president has repeatedly expressed his support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, despite CIA assessment that the royal ordered Khashoggi’s killing inside the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October.

Trump has also defied pressure from US legislators to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia over the journalist’s murder by indicating that he had no intention of cancelling military contracts with the kingdom.

“The Trump administration sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner in the region, and Trump has certainly gone out on the fence to defend that strategic partnership,” Ellen Wald, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the author of Saudi Inc: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power, told Al Jazeera.

“And now he is saying, ‘look we are still committed to you, now you’ve got to step up and do what needs to be done’ – and it’s definitely been clear from Trump’s policy that they would like Saudi Arabia to really serve as an effective counterpoint in the region to Iran,” she added.

Sen. Richard Black Slams Illegal US Bases In Syria and Protecting Islamic Terrorists

Sen. Richard Black to ST: U.S. has established 17 bases in Syria without the slightest lawful justification for doing so

He told the Syriatimes e-newspaper that The U.S. has attempted to block routes between the countries wherever possible and it has established 17 bases in Syria without the slightest lawful justification for doing so.

“The United States has established a semi-autonomous region dominated by Syrian Kurds to control the region. Since Kurds make up only 20% of the area’s population, allowing them to dominate the region creates a political unstable situation; the much larger Arabic population is almost certain to take up arms to avoid falling under the domination of the Kurdish minority. This creates a situation where ethnic violence provides justification for the U.S. to remain in the area indefinitely, since the United States has announced it’s intention to prevent the resurgence of ISIS. The reemergence of violence in the area would likely be attributed to ISIS and used as a pretext for continued occupation,” the senator said.

U.S. refuses to publicize barbaric nature of its premier “moderate rebel” group

Asked about the US use of internationally banned weapons in attacking areas in the north of Syria, Sen. Black replied: “There are reports that the U.S. has used cluster bombs and white phosphorus in Syria. The U.S. has denied those allegations. Meanwhile, the U.S. led coalition repeatedly complains about the use of so-called “barrel bombs” by Syria. It is not clear what the distinction is between a barrel containing explosives and shrapnel and a 15,000 pound “bunker-busting” bomb that hurls razor-sharp shrapnel great distances.”


He pointed out that during his recent visit to Syria [in September 2018] he entered a building that contained “barrel rockets” that were manufactured by the terrorists who were driven from Aleppo.

“Some people claim that “barrel bombs” should be illegal because they are not precision-guided. The “barrel rockets” were fired by terrorists into random civilian areas for the sole purpose of killing innocent people. I have not heard any of Syria’s military opponents complaining about the use of “barrel rockets” by the terrorists. In fact, the west has never complained about any legal violations by terrorists that they support,” the Senator stated.

He made it clear that the United States refuses to publicize the barbaric nature of it’s premier “moderate rebel” group [the Free Syrian Army], and its constant cooperation with terror forces like al Nusra and ISIS.

“We know, for example, that the Free Syrian Army frequently beheads and mutilates captives. We know they have cannibalized soldiers in battle. We know that they have thrown postal workers from municipal buildings to their death. Within the last several weeks, the Free Syrian Army distributed a video depicting one of its soldiers carrying out an “honor killing” of his own sister by machine gunning her to death,” the Senator said.

He indicated that he traveled five hours from Damascus to Aleppo on his trip to Syria this September. Everywhere he went, there was a feeling of joy among the people that the terrorists were driven out and that freedom had returned to Syria. There was tremendous gratitude for the Syrian president and the Syrian armed forces.

“Had Western powers, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey overthrown Syria, an al-Qaeda-style government would have seized power. It would have combined with ISIS-held territories to form a massive and violent caliphate with all of the arms presently held by the Syrian Arab Army. Surrounding nations would have collapsed as a result, and been integrated into the savage caliphate. This terroristic government would have annihilated millions of moderate Muslims and religious minorities,” Sen. Black asserted.

He went on to say: “Had the West and its Arab allies succeeded in toppling Syria, I am convinced that Europe would now be threatened by jihad waged not by isolated terrorists, but by massive armed forces. In 2016, I went to Palmyra right after it was liberated by the Syrian armed forces. When I spoke to the pilots and aircrew standing by an attack aircraft, I told them that they were not only fighting to defend Syria but that they were defending the entire civilized world.”

Continued presence of ISIS is advantageous to the West

The senator, in addition, referred to the fact that the Law of Land Warfare has been completely disregarded by Western and Arab nations seeking to overthrow the legitimate, duly elected government of Syria.

“For example, the Law of Land Warfare prohibits the occupation of another non-belligerent sovereign nation. Nonetheless, the United States has established 17 bases in Syria without the slightest lawful justification for doing so. This has been done under the guise of fighting ISIS. However, the United States has prohibited Iraqi forces from entering Syria to finish off the final ISIS pocket where the Euphrates River crosses into Iraq. By the same token, the U.S. bombed and killed 200-300 Russian fighters who crossed the Euphrates to attack ISIS positions in the same region,” Sen. Black affirmed.

He added that it seems clear that the continued presence of ISIS is advantageous to the West even if a massive ISIS caliphate is not.

The Senator concluded by saying: “In my lifetime, there has never been a greater force of evil than the terror rained down on Syria by foreign nations. Its cruelty and savagery have had no bounds. Nonetheless, Syria has defended itself against the economic might of 2/3 of the world’s great powers and has beaten them all. As a career military officer and student of military affairs, I cannot explain how Syria could accomplish this if it were not the will of God.”

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

 Sen. Richard Black to ST: Syria has won the war

Sen. Richard Black to ST: US occupation of Al-Tanf complicates Syria’s efforts to liberate all of its territory from terrorists

Sen. Richard Black to ST: Poison Gas Claims Have always Been False, but Used to Justify War

  doomed to failure

Origins of the Syrian War

The Atrocities of US Backed “moderate rebel” Terrorists

Public Opinion Started to Realize Reality About Syria Events

This is what it is!

War on Syria was an unlawful war of aggression

Senator Richard Black: attacks on Syria are war crimes

Another Page of Glory

Syria: Defender of the World

Journey into the Heart of Reality


Pakistani Courts Give Former PM Nawaz Sharif 7 years In Adiala Jail, Pakistan’s Most Notorious Prison

Nawaz Sharif handed 7 years in Al-Azizia, taken to Adiala Jail

PML-N quaid Nawaz Sharif arrives at the accountability court in Islamabad. ─ Photo courtesy Twitter
PML-N quaid Nawaz Sharif arrives at the accountability court in Islamabad. ─ Photo courtesy Twitter

An accountability court on Monday handed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference.

The court also fined Nawaz Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million.

A disqualification of 10 years from holding any public office is part of the sentences awarded to the former premier. The disqualification will go into effect following his release from jail after serving the seven-year sentence.

According to the detailed judgement of the case, the court also ordered that all assets, properties, rights, receivables and interests of and in Hill Metal Establishment “stand forfeited to the federal government, which shall forthwith approach the Government of KSA [Saudi Arabia], so as to implement and give effect to the said forfeiture”.

The reference pertains to the Sharifs being unable to justify the source of the funds provided to set up Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, making this a case of owning assets beyond means.

Nawaz Sharif being transported to Adiala jail.

“The known and declared sources of income of the Accused No. 1 (Nawaz Sharif) and practically of also his two sons […] are patently and grossly disproportionate to the reasonable (bare minimum) cost of setting up [Al-Azizia Steel Company Limited and Hill Metal Establishment],” reads the judgement.

The judgement also notes that Hussain Nawaz — the self-claimed sole proprietor of HME — “could have deposed on oath to […] furnish and place on record money trail so as to dislodge the presumption against Nawaz Sharif. But significantly, he has opted not to appear”.

Giving further reasoning for the applicability of Section 14(C) of the National Accountability Ordinance, the court concluded that Nawaz Sharif “intentionally, willfully and as a stratagem to avoided appearing before the Investigation Officer … so as to avoid having to respond to questions with regard to the issues which are now the subject matter of this reference and avoid being confronted with the glaring absence of money trail, documentary evidence and material divergence, gaps, and inconsistencies in the version of the accused [Nawaz]”.

The former premier, however, was acquitted in the Flagship Investments reference. Accountability Judge Arshad Malik while reading out the short order said there was no case against Nawaz in the Flagship reference. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) announced that it would appeal against the verdict.

Following the judgement, Nawaz was taken into custody from the courtroom. His lawyer Khawaja Haris requested the judge that the PML-N quaid be shifted to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Central Jail instead of Adiala jail. The court, after reserving its verdict on the request, agreed but said he would be sent to Adiala today and to Kot Lakhpat tomorrow (Tuesday).

Armoured vehicles standing by outside the premises transported the former three-time prime minister to Adiala prison. They left the judicial complex at 4:45pm.

Nawaz will travel from Rawalpindi to Lahore in his personal bulletproof vehicle and will be accompanied by a judicial magistrate. He has asked Hamza Shahbaz to reach Adiala jail with the car at 10am.

Short order:

  • Nawaz handed 7 years in jail in Al-Azizia reference
  • Fined Rs1.5 billion, US $25 million
  • No case against Nawaz in Flagship reference

The verdict ─ initially expected between 9am to 10am ─ was announced almost immediately after Nawaz arrived in the courtroom close to 2:45pm.

Accountability Judge Arshad Malik, while reading out the short order, said that Nawaz was indicted in the Al-Azizia reference under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Section 9(a)(v) says: “A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has acquired right or title in any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for, or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income.”

The short order said that the burden of proof lies on Nawaz in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

Lead-up to verdict

PML-N workers started gathering outside the court to show their support for the party’s supreme leader as early as 7:30am.

PML-N workers gather outside the accountability court in Islamabad chanting slogans in favour of Nawaz Sharif. ─ DawnNewsTV
PML-N workers gather outside the accountability court in Islamabad chanting slogans in favour of Nawaz Sharif. ─ DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and veteran politician Javed Hashmi arrived at court and were permitted to enter the premises. Other leaders, including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, were not allowed to enter.

Nawaz, who arrived in Islamabadfrom Lahore on Sunday, visited a farmhouse this morning where he offered sadqa and held a meeting with senior party leaders, DawnNewsTV reported, citing sources.

He reached the Federal Judicial Complex a little after 2:15pm, after which PML-N supporters gathered outside the premises began pelting stones and tried to force their way into the court complex, DawnNewsTV reported. Police retaliated with tear gas shelling and baton-charging the supporters.

Security was beefed up around the judicial complex, with heavy contingents of police and Rangers deployed around the building and along roads leading to the court.

Although Section 144 has been imposed in the capital, the Islamabad and Rawalpindi administrations decided that there would be no blockade at the entry points of the capital, and security officials would only ensure strict checking.

Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments

Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik on Dec 19 had reserved judgement in both the references filed by NAB against the former premier.

The two references concern the setting up of the Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, and Flagship Investment in the United Kingdom. The accountability court charged Nawaz in both references under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Take a look: ‘Corruption references against me are punishment for treason case against Musharraf’

According to NAB’s special prosecutor, the case against the Sharifs revolved around finding out how the family’s companies were established and through which resources.

According to a plea by the Sharif family in court, the late Mian Mohammad Sharif, [Nawaz Sharif’s father] established Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) in the UAE in 1974.

Seventy-five per cent shares of GSM were sold to Abdullah Kayed Ahli and the entity was re-named Ahli Steel Mills (ASM) in 1978 and the remaining 25pc shares were further sold to the ASM in 1980. This yielded an amount of AED 12 million which was invested with the Qatari royal family.

While the Sharifs were in exile, the late Mian Sharif had provided AED 5.4m for Hussain Nawaz and AED 4.2m for Hasan Nawaz to establish Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, and Flagship Investment and 16 other companies in the UK.

In-depth: How one of Pakistan’s most controversial cases has unfolded

According to the prosecution, the Sharif family failed to justify the source of the funds provided to set up the firms, making this a case of owning assets beyond means.

The Sharif family took the stance that it was out of the AED 12m that the late Mian Sharif invested with the Qatari royal family. Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, however, did not appear before the joint investigation team (JIT) to verify the details, said the prosecution.

During the final arguments, the defence attorney maintained that the JIT made no serious effort to record the prince’s testimony, since this would have benefited the defence’s case.

Another ‘guilty’ verdict for Nawaz

On July 28, 2017, the Supreme Court verdict had, besides disqualifying then prime minister Nawaz from his position, also directed the accountability authority to file three references – regarding the family’s Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia, and Flagship Investment – before the accountability court.

In September 2017, NAB filed three references against members of the Sharif family.

On July 6 this year, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir handed down convictions to Nawaz, Maryam, and son-in-law Capt Mohammad Safdar (retd) in the Avenfield Properties reference and jailed them for 10 years, seven years and one year respectively.

But on Sept 19, the Islamabad High Court granted all three bail after suspending their sentences. NAB’s appeal against the suspension of the sentence remains pending before the SC.

Since September 2017, Nawaz has appeared before the accountability courts some 165 times, according to the former premier himself.

The Opioid (DEA) Witch Hunt…Patients Criminalized Because They Have Pain

Crackdown on Opioid Prescriptions Called Another War-on-Drugs ‘Failure’

Opioids: Chasing the Wrong ‘Epidemic’

pain pills

Photo by Damian Gadal via Flickr

Every first responder is familiar with the scenario. You are called to the scene of yet another drug overdose. Naloxone is administered. The comatose “victim” rouses and groggily stands up. Many refuse to be taken to hospitals and drift away.

You are tempted to call out “see you again soon…”

Odds are good that you will. Though Naloxone saves thousands from overdose, death is too often postponed rather than prevented.

I have never personally witnessed this scenario. I work the other side of the street. I’m a health care writer, patient advocate and social media moderator who interacts daily with thousands of chronic pain patients and their families. My wife and daughter are among them.

These are the people whom government policy is turning into scapegoats for the so-called “opioid epidemic.”

They are increasingly being told that because the nation must deal with its addiction crisis, and that they must be denied or taken off the only medical therapy which offers them even marginal quality of life. By this I mean opioid pain relief managed by their doctors.

This is a false policy choice, founded more on mythology than facts.

The US is now chasing the wrong epidemic in its efforts to reduce the death toll from narcotic drugs. Both pain patients and addicts are paying the ultimate price for this misdirection. Addicts die in droves from street drugs—mostly heroin and fentanyl. Patients denied effective pain management spiral into agony, disability, and sometimes suicide.

Doctors leave pain management practice, afraid of losing their licenses and livelihoods to a widely perceived Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) witch hunt and a hostile regulatory environment. Meanwhile, other doctors, in frustration, have argued for a better “balance” in assessing the use of prescription drugs for chronic pain. Others have gone even further by calling the application of strict limits on opioid prescriptions “inhumane.”

The death toll from government policy is founded on mythology. One myth is that the relaxed opioid prescribing of the 1990s led to a wave of addiction and death. It is also claimed that over three-quarters of addicts begin with prescription drugs. Both statements are readily shown to be misleading distortions.

The demographics that supposedly connect chronic pain to addiction don’t work. The typical new addict is an adolescent or early-20s male with a history of family trauma, mental-health issues and prolonged unemployment. Young men from economically depressed areas are rarely treated long-term for pain severe enough to justify use of opioids.

By contrast, a majority of chronic pain patients (by a ratio of 60/40 or higher) are women in their 40s or older with a history of accident trauma, failed back surgery, fibromyalgia, or facial neuropathy. Women of this age whose lives are stable enough to allow them to see a doctor don’t often become addicts.

The second myth, that prescription drugs caused our addiction crisis, is also a distortion. A Cochrane Review in 2010 revealed that among properly evaluated pain patients who haven’t abused drugs before, risk of opioid abuse disorder was less than 0.5 percent during the first year of treatment for chronic pain.

Many young people first abuse prescription drugs and alcohol—but the drugs aren’t provided to them by a doctor. They are stolen from home medicine closets or purchased from street dealers. Drugs stolen at home or given by a family member cannot account for high volumes. Abusers quickly switch to drugs they can purchase elsewhere. We may now be coming to understand where some of that much higher volume originates. A Dec. 18 article in the Washington Post offers a startling story.

In the Post article, DEA investigators complain of being stymied by their own lawyers and Department of Justice prosecutors, when they sought to prosecute multi-billion-dollar national drug distribution companies for clear failures to report patterns of suspicious opioid deliveries.

Huge volumes that could never have been justified by medical demand were shipped into rural counties in West Virginia and western States. Proof was conclusive. But distributors were allowed to get off with what amounted to a minor tap on the wrist.

It seems highly plausible to many readers that DEA lawyers were likely bought by the companies they were supposed to regulate. The process was the same revolving-door policy that guarantees the complicity of Representatives and Senators who anticipate being paid well as lobbyists or defense lawyers if they are miraculously turned out of office by voters.

Turn a blind eye and your future is bright. Come after us and we’ll crush you.

This is not the end of the story. Unable or unwilling to pursue the truly major players in drug diversion, the DEA instead went after lower hanging fruit. They attacked independent pharmacies and pain management doctors who prescribe high dose opioids in local practices.

When they attack individuals, DEA “Diversion Investigators” appear to lack the tools or training to distinguish between small-scale pill mills versus doctors who specialize in difficult cases where high dose opioids are the only therapy that works. As multiple doctors have told me, DEA instead employs an arsenal of extra-judicial tools in this persecution:

  • Prominent announcements of doctors under investigation, intended to ruin professional reputations and influence potential jurors;
  • Confiscation of doctor (or pharmacy) assets, to render legal defense more difficult;
  •  Suborning witnesses by threatening prosecution unless they testify to doctor misbehavior;
  •  Deliberate delays of prosecution, grand jury proceedings and court proceedings, to put further financial pressure on doctors to sign consent decrees before cases go to court.

The number of doctors prosecuted isn’t high. But using press as a messenger works very well. Prescriptions of opioid pain killers are dropping steadily even as overdose deaths climb.

Denying pain management to people in agony doesn’t help anybody. But we know what is needed. For that story, we’ll need another article.

Richard Lawhern

Richard A. Lawhern

Richard A Lawhern, PhD, is Co-Founder and Corresponding Secretary of the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. A non-physician patient advocate and writer with 20 years of volunteer public service. he has written for The Journal of Medicine, National Pain Report, Pain News Network and other online media. His wife and daughter are pain patients. He welcomes comments from readers.

Did Trump and Putin Make A Deal w/Semitic Army (Jews and Arabs) To Sabotage Iran In Syria?

Is Trump Pulling Troops Out of Afghanistan Only To Replace Them w/Blackwater Goons?

[Trump Considering Blackwater Solution For Afghanistan]


Ominous Blackwater ‘is coming’ advert raises prospect Trump has privatised war

The day Donald Trump decreed he would pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, controversial US mercenary group made a scary threat.

Jamie Seidel, News Corp Australia

The day President Trump decreed the US would abandon Syria and Afghanistan, controversial US mercenary group Blackwater declared — “WE ARE COMING’. Does this mean war has just been privatised?

The highly controversial move sent shockwaves through the Middle East, NATO and many US allies. It also prompted US Defence Secretary James Mattis to quit.

But as the turmoil unfolded, a blast echoed out from the past.

Blackwater, the mercenary organisation disgraced for its trigger-happy behaviour during the occupation of Iraq, took out a curiously timed full-page advert in the gun-and-hunting magazine Recoil.

It was stark. Black. There was the company’s distinctive bear’s-paw logo. And three words: WE ARE COMING.

It has ominous implications.

Many military analysts and international affairs think-tanks argue such mercenary groups are thinly-veiled fronts for state-backed intervention. But the corporate nature of the combattans gives them ‘plausible deniability’ to avoid international outcry.

It’s being called the ‘Grey Zone’, because of its legally dubious nature.

President Donald Trump has surprised his own government - and the world - with his surprise decisions to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Picture: AP

President Donald Trump has surprised his own government – and the world – with his surprise decisions to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Picture: APSource:AP

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Trump’s pullout from Syria has already raised eyebrows, given the announcement came just hours after the US President hung-up on a phonecall to Turkey’s autocratic President Tayyip Ergodan.

That call had clinched a $US3.5 billion deal to supply Turkey with advanced air defence systems.

Turkey, a NATO ally, is actively oppressing the Kurdish ethnic-religious group in its own country. And it has been attacking the US-allied Kurds in Syria and Iraq whenever it gets the opportunity. Those opportunities will dramatically increase once US forces have withdrawn.

Just one day later, shortly after Defence Secretary Matis resigned over Trump’s treatment of his allies, the President also announced a dramatic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The US has been embroiled in Afghanistan since it sent in troops shortly after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US mainland. Like Russia and the UK before them, it has met with little success in subduing the mountain tribesmen.

But Trump’s critics warn these abrupt pullouts will produce dramatic power vacuums.

And the likes of Russia, China and Iran will be keen to step in.

Now it seems private armies such as Blackwater may also want a piece of the action.

Civilian contractors from private security company Blackwater taking part in firefight in Najaf, Iraq, in 2004.

Civilian contractors from private security company Blackwater taking part in firefight in Najaf, Iraq, in 2004.Source:AP

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Mercenary groups are no stranger to the Syrian conflict. Russia’s shady Wagner group is believed to have suffered more than 100 casualties when it took part in a Syrian Government attack against an encampment manned by US Marines and Kurdish troops in February.

Wagner defines itself as a “security services” company. But the international community has sanctioned its business operations due to its ongoing activities in Ukraine. It is believed to have several hundred ‘contractors’ fighting in Syria.

Wagner is just one of many such ‘ambiguous’ mercenary groups fighting in the world’s hot spots.

And Blackwater is likewise no stranger to controversy. It was banned from operating in Iraq after its trigger-happy operatives opened fire in a crowded Baghdad public square.

At least 20 civilians were reportedly killed.

Since then Blackwater has attempted to ‘rebrand itself’ with a name change after being sold-off by its original owners.

Now the US Military Times reports Blackwater’s original CEO has been actively lobbying the Trump White House administration. And, according to NBC News, Trump liked the idea.

Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince argues the now 17-year Afghan War is “a total failure.” In the past year, Prince has been using media appearances to promote such a privatisation

Prince, however, has no known official ties to the current incarnation of his old Blackwater, renamed Constellis after being sold to the Apollo Holdings Group. He now heads Hong Kong-based security firm Frontier Services Group.

Prince’s sister, however, is President Trump’s personal appointee to the role of US Secretary of Education — Betsy Devos.

Erik Prince founder of private security contractor Blackwater being sworn in while testifying before the House Oversight Committee examining the performance of the private military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Erik Prince founder of private security contractor Blackwater being sworn in while testifying before the House Oversight Committee examining the performance of the private military contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.Source:AP

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The old Blackwater, Constellis, is still active in Afghanistan. It has a headquarters — called Camp Integrity — near the Kabul Airport. Military Times says it has leased extra space at the facility in order to accommodate a further 800 personnel.

Again, Prince’s involvement is unknown.

But he has previously told NBC News that he will launch a full-scale media blitz to promote his mercenary agenda, and that Trump and his cabinet will be lobbied.

Prince says he wanted the entire NATO mission scrapped. He claimed he could do the same job with just 6000 privately contracted mercenaries, backed by 2000 international special forces troops.

The idea had been rejected outright by Mattis as Defence Secretary. He saw it as a severe risk to US national security.

“When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatising it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters during a rare appearance in the Pentagon Briefing Room in August.

Mattis also made a veiled warning about the potential impact of mercenary involvement: “It’s enormously easier to be the criminal in a town than it is to be the policeman. And that’s true whether you’re in Ghazni, Afghanistan or anywhere else”.

With his departure, that opinion may no longer hold sway.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton in August said he was open to the idea.

“I’m always open to new ideas,” Bolton said in response to a question on the subject. “I’m not going to comment on what [Trump’s] thinking is. That’ll ultimately be the president’s decision,” he added.

Prince, however, is adamant.

“What I am proposing will end the conflict, save the lives of hundreds of US armed forces personnel (and thousands of Afghans), and will cost only a fraction of what we currently spend. To emphasise, this is not a privatisation of the war effort as has been wrongly stated by my critics. It is actually a reduction in the number of private contractors engaged in Afghanistan,” Prince said in a statement.

How American Exceptionalism is Used to Sell War

How American Exceptionalism is Used to Sell War

Americans are taught that they are intellectually, socially, economically, and morally superior to any other people on earth. We believe that we place a higher value on life than others do.

Americans are expected from birth to believe in the notion of U.S. superiority over other peoples in other nations. The daily school ritual of pledging allegiance to the flag and playing the national anthem at sporting events—whether the Super Bowl or a neighborhood swim meet—is a given. Americans are taught that they are intellectually, socially, economically, and morally superior to any other people on earth. We believe that we place a higher value on life than others do.

“And God bless these United States of America” – the ever-present phrase that U.S. presidents habitually intone is offensive to millions of non-believers and non-Americans. That leaders of many militaristic and imperialistic countries have assumed that God is on their side does not make the formula any easier to swallow.

Most Americans are unaware of the amount of human suffering the U.S. government has inflicted on others throughout the world, especially post 9/11. We are incessantly told it is our duty to support the troops and our leaders who invade, bomb or otherwise intervene in other nations. The motives offered might be to stop genocide, to take down a maniacal despot, or to spread democracy and American values. Our government purportedly acts with reluctance as well as with compassion, respect for others, and good intent. We are reminded that the troops keep us safe, all the while helping spread the American way of life to a needy world. Why? It is because we are “exceptional.”

September 11, 2001

We are told the United States was “brutally attacked” by Al-Qaeda on 9/11. It was certainly an act of depravity by depraved individuals. That it happened in real time, on our soil, live in our living rooms, made it seem even worse. The event dominated local and national news for weeks.

But thoughtful Americans who have looked closely at all the facts of that day see the small group as being internal criminals. Unlike Pearl Harbor, a blatant act of war by the Japanese, 9/11 was a crime. Did we treat it like a crime or an act of war? How did we respond? And apart from the deaths of 2,977 people, was the event really as devastating as we perceived it to be? And did it mean what we perceived it to mean?

The average citizen viewed the Twin Towers, which dominated the New York skyline, as symbolic of America’s financial strength. To Americans, the Pentagon was, and is still today, symbolic of U.S. military strength. To watch the towers crash to the ground, and to see a smoldering hole in the side of the Pentagon were gut-wrenching experiences for us all. Our collective psyches were shattered, and we all felt very vulnerable. The “attack” was gruesome and grotesque from a human perspective. From a property damage perspective, not so much.

Few Americans knew that the Twin Towers, owned by the Port Authority of New York, were a financial drain, functionally obsolete and full of asbestos. In their book, 9/11 Revealed: Challenging the Facts Behind the War on Terror, Ian Henshall and Rowland Morgan note that “by 2001 much of the tower space was empty.” On May 21, 2001, the Port Authority lost a 10-year court battle with insurers for asbestos abatement. Finally, in July 2001, ownership of the project was transferred to private investors. The actual victims when the towers collapsed were the tenants and the firefighters trapped inside. As for the new owners, it was a financial windfall. They were awarded more than $4 billion in insurance claims.

The damage to the Pentagon could have been far worse since it came in an area of the building that was under renovation and relatively empty. The event did little structural damage to the building. The victims were the 125 people working inside who were murdered.

Yes, the event was visually shocking—spectacular in a grisly sense—but the real horror lay in the loss of the 2,977 victims. Our response to this abhorrent crime should have been that of a just, democratic society, acting on the rule of law. Instead, it was completely out of proportion, becoming barbaric and grotesque. Yet our response was justified by those who believe that an American life is more valuable than the lives of all others.

The response


As noted, 9/11 was a criminal act, not a state-sponsored act of war. The United States, however, responded as though it had been an act of war. On October 7, 2001 the United States invaded Afghanistan, violating the UN Charter’s principle of sovereign equality. Justification provided to the world was that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi national and not an Afghan, masterminded 9/11 and was living there in the mountains. The ruling Taliban government offered to extradite bin Laden but needed proof of his guilt, as is customary in extradition cases. George Bush ignored the Taliban’s request and instead invaded one of the poorest countries in the world.

From October 2001 to the present, an estimated 31,000 civilians  have been killed, and approximately 29,900 have suffered war-related injuries. To this day, Americans occupy the country and continue to kill and wound Afghan civilians, with no end in sight. It is now the longest war in U.S. history. Bin Laden, whose alleged involvement in the crime was used as justification for the invasion, has been dead for years. I would challenge any American to explain why our troops are still there. I would ask that American the following: “Would you encourage your son or daughter to join the military and fight the good fight?” I would ask, “Who would your son be trying to kill? Would it be terrorists or perhaps Afghan nationals who don’t want to be occupied and just want to live in dignity and peace with their families? Would you be a proud parent if your son or daughter came home from war in a flag-draped coffin after killing innocent civilians?”

Finally, I would ask whether the 69,000-and-counting Afghan casualties of war, along with a near 18-year occupation of a sovereign country, were just and appropriate responses to 9/11. Or might this response instead be grossly disproportionate, planned and executed by an aggressive cabal of American leaders exceptional only in the way they inflict violence on others?


In September 2002,  the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), consisting of 12 members selected by the Bush administration, was formed to meet in the White House on a regular basis. The group was described by SourceWatch (a website published by the Center for Media and Democracy), as “the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public.” Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, yet this group was assembled to create a justification that did not exist for a war they wanted to start. They decided on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). There weren’t any. And mushroom clouds. There weren’t any. The selling began in September 2002 and from then on was relentless. A rational person might wonder, how do you sell a war?

According to French academic Dominique Reynié, between January 3 and April 12, 2003, 36 million people across the world took part in nearly 3,000 anti-war protests. On February 15 alone, in more than 800 cities, millions filled the streets to protest the invasion of Iraq before it happened. The Guinness Book of World Records estimated that between 12 and 14 million people from major cities and small towns on every continent came out to voice their dissent. An event like this was unprecedented in world history. Protests within the United States took place in more than 225 communities, but received little media attention.

Before the invasion, Pope John Paul ll stated, “This war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be legally or morally justified.” He and French Archbishop Jean Louis Tauran stated that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq violated the Catholic “just war” theory. Bush, Cheney, et al. ignored the protesters and the religious leaders.

They ignored the United Nations as well, and by doing so violated international law. All members of the Security Council but the United States and Great Britain rejected the call for war with Iraq. The UN Charter requires a unanimous vote of the Security Council for any war to be sanctioned. On September 16, 2004, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that the Iraq invasion “was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.” In the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg after World War ll, British judge Norman Birkett said that “a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from the other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” It is doubtful that an American president will ever be dragged off to a prison cell no matter the crime. That said, shouldn’t a man cited by the Secretary General of the United Nations for committing a war of aggression, a supreme international war crime, at least be shunned by polite society? Bush and Cheney were re-elected in 2004.

A lone voice for sanity in the media in the run-up to the Iraq war was Phil Donahue. On his final show, weeks before the invasion, his guest was retired Marine General, Anthony Zinni, a former commandant of the Marine Corps and leader of the Central Command, preceding the better-known Tommy Franks. Zinni was in charge of the no-fly zone in Iraq for a time and spoke Farsi. His familiarity with, experience in, and knowledge of the Middle East, particularly Iraq, were extensive. He stated unequivocally that Saddam Hussein was contained and no threat to his neighbors, much less the United States. Donahue’s show, though the most popular on the network at the time, was cancelled by MSNBC, which deemed the show and Zinni’s remarks unpatriotic. As it turns out, Zinni was correct, though it mattered little to the “exceptional” leaders who ordered the invasion.

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. A study done by researchers in Canada, the United States and Baghdad, with the cooperation of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, found that as of December 2017, nearly 500,000 civilians had died from war-related causes. Thousands upon thousands of homes were bombed into rubble, killing members of families and leaving the survivors homeless. The UN reported in 2014 that more than 4.4 million Iraqis were internally displaced, forced to live in refugee camps or neighboring countries.

Let us not forget that this war was created out of thin air by WHIG, marketed and sold to the American public and the world. It was a fraud from the very beginning and never could have been sold to anyone had the 9/11 event not occurred. All the credit for this merciless barbarity needs to be bestowed on our exceptional leaders, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

As an aside, on November 28, 2011, American exceptional leaders George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice, in a criminal tribunal held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were convicted in absentia of war crimes for the illegal (according to Kofi Annan) and immoral (according to Pope John Paul ll) invasion of Iraq. They destroyed the lives and hopes of innocent families numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Too bad the trial was not held in Washington D.C. or The Hague, with the defendants present in handcuffs.


The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011 in conjunction with the Arab Spring. The protest started out peacefully but then became violent. It was alleged that Bashar al-Assad used brutal methods to put down the uprising. That being said, uninvited intervention by any outside nation state is a violation of international law. For example, when Abraham Lincoln used brutal methods in unleashing Generals Sheridan and Sherman to wage war on civilians in the South during the American Civil War, no exceptional leader from any other nation came to the aid of these civilians and demanded regime change in the United States. No one needs be reminded that Lincoln’s likeness is carved in the side of Mt. Rushmore and he is considered one of America’s greatest presidents. The United States violated Syria’s sovereign equality in violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter.

In 2012, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan convened a group in Geneva to bring a ceasefire to the hostilities in Syria. The talks ended abruptly when the Obama administration demanded that Assad and his elected staff step down before any ceasefire agreement could be reached. What right did the United States have to make such a demand? The violence continued. Then in late 2012, the CIA launched an operation code-named Timber Sycamore, with the goal of toppling Assad’s regime through the continuous military training and financial support of all types of radical militants.

The estimated civilian death toll in the war in Syria through March 2018 varies from 353,593 to 498,593. Out of a population of approximately 26 million, an estimated 6 million have been internally displaced and 13 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

It can be argued that the majority of these casualties of war can be directly attributed to a combination of Obama’s intransigence in 2011 and the CIA’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia in arming, funding, and training the radical militant groups in Syria. Their interference has led to one of the most serious humanitarian crises of this century. This intrusion from the United States constitutes a violation of Syria’s sovereign equality as per Article 2 of the UN Charter. It was also another savage, disproportionate act of violence that had nothing to do with 9/11.


This is starting to sound repetitive. In March 2011, U.S.-led NATO forces began bombing Libya and continued bombing for seven months. The country, once one of the richest in Africa was, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. At present Libya is lawless, run by radical militants. Hillary Clinton is largely responsible, her role outlined in the “Libya Tick Tock” e-mail, made public by Julian Assange. In this e-mail, “A step-by-step guide to destroy Libya,” the Clinton team listed in chronological order all of the steps she took in order to prove that she was the architect of the U.S. bombing in Libya. It was to be a “brag sheet” to strengthen her foreign policy credentials in the upcoming election debates in 2016.

Estimates of the death toll in Libya range from 10,000 to 50,000. The National Transitional Council puts the dead at 30,000 and the wounded at 50,000. In addition, Libya’s Great Man-Made River, an underground pipeline that supplied water to Libya and other countries in Africa was destroyed by NATO planes, a violation of the UN Charter, thus making this destruction of Libya a war crime.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the intervention in Libya was another fraud. On September 14, 2016, the British Parliament issued a scathing report. Assessing the evidence, they wrote that the “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.” In less polite rhetoric, the bombing of Libya was based on deception and lies.

Once again, our exceptional leaders destroyed a sovereign country and the hopes of its citizens. It was another barbaric, out-of-proportion overkill that never would have happened without 9/11, yet Libya had nothing to do with 9/11.

Could the arrogance of Hillary Clinton and her willingness to destroy Libya just to impress voters be the reason the exceptional Donald Trump is now America’s president? Who knows?

As for Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient dramatically expanded both the air wars via drones and the special operations forces around the globe. In 2016 U.S. forces could be found in 70 percent of the countries in the world—138 nations—a staggering 130 percent increase in special-ops incursions since the days of the Bush administration. In his last year as president, according to Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs on seven different countries. Obama was the only president in U.S. history who served two terms with the nation at war the entire time of his presidency. Like his predecessor George Bush, Barack Obama was exceptional at committing acts of violence on others.


Torture? What American leader would ever condone torture much less make it official policy?

Since my childhood, the crime of torture was attributed to other less humane, less enlightened societies – never to Americans. Individuals from the Third Reich and Japan were punished harshly at the Nuremberg trials for torturing prisoners and, in the case of Germany, torturing and murdering Jews in death camps. Torturing another human being as an official doctrine of the state was inconceivable in America. That was then.

Following 9/11, torture became the official Bush administration doctrine. Then Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States John Yoo provided the legal cover for Bush, Cheney and the CIA, going as far as asserting that the president had unlimited wartime powers and could order the massacre of an entire village of civilians if he so desired. Yoo, an exceptional American indeed, is currently a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley.

At the Guantanamo Bay facility prisoners, most innocent of any crime, were subjected to beatings; waterboarding; sodomization; shackling in stress positions; sleep-, sensory-, and dietary deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to extreme temperatures. Closing Guantanamo was one of Obama’s campaign promises. He could have done so by a simple executive order. He chose not to, which leads many to speculate if there are forces that get in the way, as in so many other instances.

At Abu Ghraib, detainees were forced to sleep on the floor in flooded cells, stripped naked, then forced to crawl and bark like dogs. There were also attacked by real dogs. The staff regularly sodomized prisoners with foreign objects. General Antonio Taguba issued a scathing report, concluding that the majority of the detainees (70-90 percent of them, according to the Red Cross), arrested in nighttime sweeps of homes, were innocent of any crime. By 2006, at least 100 prisoners had died in U.S. custody, most of them violently.

On December 9, 2014, the government released the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. Techniques used on captives by the CIA included waterboarding, rectal force-feeding, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, and physical brutality. Former vice president Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press following the release of the report and bragged about authorizing torture. He said he would do it again. A former vice president of the United States appeared on national television and before the world openly admitted to authorizing war crimes with total impunity. Were U.S. citizens repulsed by this man’s criminal arrogance? Apparently not.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted soon after the Torture Report was released, by a margin of almost 2 to 1 (59 percent to 31 percent) Americans said they supported the CIA’s brutal methods at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Post 9/11 America has proved itself comfortable with the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria and now, it seems, even with torture.

Our ‘exceptional’ friends

Our closest allies in the Middle East are two of the most brutal, ruthless, oppressive regimes on earth. I am referring to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudis are bullies on steroids, to both their own people and their neighbors. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia internally suppresses freedom of expression, association, and belief by jail sentences or, in some cases, public execution. Women are not permitted to obtain a passport, marry, travel or access higher education without the approval of a male guardian. There is nothing remotely secret about any of this.

In Syria, the Saudis were funding ISIS and other militant groups. An e-mail from Hillary Clinton to John Podesta, dated August 17, 2014 and released by WikiLeaks, notes that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were named as countries arming and funding ISIS. She wrote, “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” But in 2010, during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the United States had sold a $60-billion package of arms to Saudi Arabia. If I understand this correctly, the Saudis supply ISIS with weapons purchased from the United States. ISIS, our mortal enemy, then turns the weapons on American soldiers, and our leaders have full knowledge of this practice.

The Saudi intervention in Yemen started when Obama was in office and continues under Trump. Since the beginning, thousands of civilians have been slaughtered. The Saudis have been found dropping U.S. bombs on schools, hospitals and marketplaces, directly targeting civilians. Yet the United States continues its full support. In the spring of 2015, Saudi Arabia placed a full blockade on all flights into Yemen, including humanitarian aid. The blockade has stopped the flow of medical supplies and food and is on the brink of causing the largest genocide by starvation in modern history. Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, said, “The continued closure of borders will only bring additional hardship and deprivation with deadly consequences to an entire population suffering from a conflict that is not of their own making.”

Why does the United States tolerate this? It could be because the massive arms sales to the kingdom by Obama and Trump has benefited the military industrial complex. It could also be because of the gifts showered on the Obama family and the Trump family by the Saudi leaders. According to the Federal Registry, in his first year as president, Obama and his family received in excess of $300,000 in gifts from Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

During the presidential debates Donald Trump took a hard line against Saudi Arabia for their human rights abuses and slammed Hillary Clinton for the lavish donations her foundation received from Saudi Arabia. As president, to no one’s surprise, Trump did an about-face. He approved a billion-dollar arms sale to the Kingdom and he too received lavish gifts from the Saudis during his visit there in May 2017.


The Balfour Declaration of 1917 paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948. With this new nation state came the forced exile of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland. They were not allowed to return. Since then, millions more have been displaced, including those forced into an outdoor prison known as Gaza.

In its short history, Israel has violated more UN resolutions than all other UN member nations combined.

On June 8, 1967, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) attacked an American naval vessel, the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 172 others. Israel was never held accountable.

It is a well-known “secret” that Israel has a nuclear arsenal, yet is not in compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It is the law in the United States that no humanitarian funds be sent to any country not in compliance with NPT, except, of course, Israel, which receives $3.6 billion in foreign aid annually from the United States. Blatant hypocrisy like this does not go unnoticed, especially in the Middle East

Israel repeatedly terrorizes the Palestinians living in the open-air prison called Gaza, including through the use of WMDs. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008, the IDF repeatedly exploded white phosphorous canisters in the air over heavily populated areas in violation of international law.

In recent essentially non-violent protests in Gaza, the IDF fired live rounds into crowds of Palestinians. As of April 23, 2018, the death toll was 39, including a Reuters reporter. More than 1,000 have been wounded, many of them seriously.

On May 14, 2018, the IDF fired on unarmed Palestinians in Gaza for protesting the U.S. embassy transfer to Jerusalem, killing 60 and wounding more than 2,700, according to the New York Times. Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, attended the ceremony and predictably blamed the Palestinians for the violence. This is American Exceptionalism on full display for all the world to witness.

As with Saudi Arabia, all Israeli crimes are done with full knowledge of and support from the United States government. Is it any wonder that in polls conducted worldwide since 2013 the United States has been voted the greatest threat to world peace by a wide margin?

Presidential candidates – 2016

Hillary Clinton

International human rights attorney and professor of law at Illinois University, Dr. Francis Boyle, was on the legal team that convicted Bush and his cohorts for war crimes in Malaysia. In a radio interview on Information Clearing House, he was asked about the presidential candidates for 2016 and said this about Hillary Clinton: “She is a psychopath and a war criminal.” Based on the Libya “brag sheet” alone, he is not going out on much of a limb. Adding in her vote for the Iraq war and her role in the Syria disaster, it is hard to argue with Dr. Boyle’s contention.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda might just be what gave the “pussy-grabber” racist his nomination and victory in the Republican primaries. But also, anti-war voters were encouraged by his criticism of the Iraq war and claims of non-intervention if elected president. As president he has confirmed his detractors’ worst fears and then some. The narcissistic, practiced liar has thumbed his nose at everyone except our exceptional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. We don’t know yet if he is as much of a bully as Bush/Cheney or Obama/Clinton, but it looks like he is headed in that direction. His actions thus far—moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, pulling out of the Paris Agreement, reneging on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal), appointing a torturer to head the CIA, and bringing warmonger extraordinaire John Bolton back into a seat of power—do not bode well for all of us everywhere.


An olive branch

Not all Americans are bullies. Millions spend their lives in careers in the service of a better life for others. Health care workers such as nurses, doctors, first responders, physical therapists, hospital volunteers, and the like come to mind. These “heroes” devote their lives to improving ours. The same can be said of teachers and firefighters. These Americans are crucial to our well-being, yet in my view are taken for granted and often disdained.

The Pentagon has manipulated us into lavishing praise on all things military at venues like sporting events and airports. It is perverse. The real heroes in our society get little credit or little financial recompense. Imagine if your house were on fire, you dialed 911 and the operator said, “Sorry, the firemen are out on the town.” Imagine if one of your children were in an accident, and when you called the hospital no one was there. Imagine if there were no teachers in our schools. Our priorities and values seem to have been turned upside down since 9/11.

In polls conducted by Gallup worldwide that began in 2013 and have continued every year since, the United States came in first hands down when participants were asked: “Which country is the greatest threat to world peace? “

If an outsider asked me what my country stands for, it would be hard to come up with an answer. I might start with how we break our word, threaten other countries, force regime change, impose sanctions, arm the world, launch drone strikes, bomb countries, invade countries, destroy homes and families, and go from there.

There is a fitting tribute to those who were murdered senselessly on 9/11 at Ground Zero. Nearly 3,000 names are inscribed in bronze at the memorial, so at least their loved ones can feel a sense that the country will not forget them.

To be fair, it would be nearly impossible for the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya to build similar memorials to those who have been murdered senselessly by the U.S. government, simply because of the sheer numbers. A possibility might be that each country build one memorial with one name inscribed in bronze. Years ago the Pentagon was kind enough to simplify the mass killings by U.S. bombs and bestow one name to the fallen. The name on the plaques would represent tens of thousands of lives lost in the same brutal fashion as the lives that were lost here on 9/11. They would be memorialized forever in history, thanks to the Pentagon, as “collateral damage.”

Is America “exceptional” in how it inflicts violence and death upon countless innocent people around the world? And is it fair to call American leaders “exceptional” bullies?

Is there any doubt?

Top Photo | A pickup truck with a rear window decorated in the theme of the American flag and Statue of Liberty, sits in the parking lot in Manchester, N.H. David Goldman | AP

Geoffrey O’Neill is a former Marine officer, Vietnam veteran, former business owner, and unexceptional American citizen who believes in the right of all people to live in peace and with dignity with their families. Geoffrey can be reached at

Source | Truth and Shadows 

Americans should welcome the age of unexceptionalism

July 4th in a Dallas suburb. AP/Michael Prengler

Exceptionalism – the idea that the United States has a mission and character that separates it from other nations – is ingrained in everyday talk about American politics.

It shapes high-level discussions about foreign policy – for example, in a recent argument by a foreign affairs scholar that the United States plays a “unique role as the world’s anchor of liberal ideas.”

It shapes conversation about domestic policy too. It leads us to think that America’s internal divisions and problems are distinctive – and by implication, that the experience of other countries cannot tell us much about how to handle them.

But is the United States really exceptional?

Every country is special

It is, at a basic level, of course. Every country believes that its circumstances are distinctive. Russians talk about their “specialness.” The Chinese insist on their “uniqueness.” Indians have long noted the unusual complexity of their politics.

Beyond this, though, the idea of American exceptionalism does not hold up. My research suggests that it is also obstructing the country’s ability to think clearly about the challenges ahead.

Exceptionalism has two aspects. One is the notion that the United States, since its founding, has had a distinct ambition – a “messianic mission” to promote liberty and democracy.

By itself, having a national mission is not unusual. The European empires of the 19th century were also driven by grand ambitions. The French talked about their mission to civilize the world. The British promoted “British ideals” such as liberty and the rule of law. They even promised eventual self-government for colonies – when London judged that the colonies were ready for it.

The American practice was not entirely different. The country’s leaders declared their mission to civilize the continent. They acquired territory, often by force, and then decided whether people were ready to govern themselves. The empowerment of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, native peoples and immigrants was delayed because they were considered by the white Anglo-Saxon majority to be “ill-fitted for self-rule.”

And the United States was also a colonizing power. For example, it occupied the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century, sought to introduce “American civilization” and again deferred self-rule because Filipinos were judged not to be ready for it.

In the 20th century, politicians in the United States and Europe were pushed toward a more enlightened view of freedom. Faced with protests and rebellions, Western countries gave up most of their colonies and enfranchised more of their people. And they adopted codes like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Freedom and democracy, a shared goal

Again, though, the United States was not exceptional in its pursuit of freedom and democracy. There was a shared commitment to human rights, even though countries often fell short of the ideal in practice.

The U.S. was born from a revolution, which contributes to the myth of exceptionalism.National Archives 

The second aspect of exceptionalism has to do with the character of American society and politics. The claim is that governing in the United States is different than in Europe because the U.S. population is so diverse, people are so wedded to their rights, and central government has been historically weak. After all, the United States was born in revolution. And it empowered the people before modern conditions required strong government.

This claim does not get the scrutiny it deserves. Sometimes it relies on a stereotype of centralized government in Europe. It overlooks Europe’s long history of uprisings, civil wars, coups and partitions. Deep ambivalence about authority is certainly not peculiar to the United States.

Moreover, western Europe accounts for a small minority of the world’s 195 states. Almost half of those states are fewer than 80 years old. Most are categorized as fragile. Leaders in fragile states struggle to establish central authority and manage deep internal divisions, while respecting domestic and international law on human rights.

In short, they wrestle with all of the challenges that are said to make the United States exceptional.

Need to recognize commonalities

This wrongheaded emphasis on exceptionalism is unfortunate for two reasons.

The first is that it complicates the task of building a global coalition to defend freedom and democracy. Recent history shows the urgent need for such a coalition. Around the world, democracy is perceived to be in retreat. China, a one-party state, will soon have the world’s biggest economy. In the fight to advance human rights, the United States needs all the friends it can get. Rhetoric about U.S. exceptionalism does not help to build alliances.

It also undermines the country’s capacity to deal with one of the most challenging aspects of democratic governance. This is the problem of managing sharp internal divisions without resorting to methods that crush liberties and respect for minorities.

As any history book will show, the United States has much experience with this problem. But so do many other countries. Some, like India, the world’s most populous liberal democracy, deal with it on a much larger scale. There is an opportunity to learn across borders. Rhetoric about exceptionalism makes it less likely that this will happen.

In this century, the pursuit of traditional American ideals requires new ways of thinking. The ambition to advance freedom and democracy is now broadly shared. So is experience in translating these ideals into practice. To defend those ideals, all of the world’s democracies must pull together in a common cause.

The first step is adopting a new point of view. Call it unexceptionalism: an attitude that acknowledges the commonalities, as well as the differences, in the American experience.

America exceptional? Facts tell a different story.

“The World Bank found that for equitable distribution in wealth, the United States ranks 147 out of 152 countries.”

America exceptional? Facts tell a different story.


By Carolyn Bninski
One way "American exceptionalism" matches reality is in military spending. The United States military costs nearly as much as the rest of world

One way “American exceptionalism” matches reality is in military spending. The United States military costs nearly as much as the rest of world militaries combined. (U.S. Navy / Getty Images North America)

As Americans, we’re trained from birth to believe that the United States is the exceptional and “greatest” nation on the planet. This message is reinforced by parents, schools, media, government and social and political institutions. Every president repeats this message without blinking an eye or reflecting on its implications. It’s the mantra of the United States.

In 2010, 80 percent of Americans polled by Gallup said the United States is the “greatest country” in the world. Of the 20 wealthy “democracies,” U.S. citizens were the most proud of their nationality and most supportive of attacking other countries without the U.N.’s consent. Younger generations were less likely to share these beliefs.

So what is the reality? When we look at the indices of economic, social, health and even the level of “democracy,” the United States comes out behind other countries.

According to the World Health Organization, the United States comes in 31st for life expectancy. The World Bank found that for equitable distribution in wealth, the United States ranks 147 out of 152 countries. In December 2017, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty in the United States found that the United States has the highest youth poverty rate across the 36 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
The U.N. Rapporteur also found that the United States ranks 36th in water and sanitation and has the highest incarceration rate in the world. What about education? The Programme for International Student Assessment found that U.S. students rank 38 out of 71 countries.

We are constantly touting our “democracy.” A 2014 study by Professor Martin Gilens from Princeton and Professor Benjamin Page from Northwestern University found the United States is an oligarchy, a country where a small group of people have control. In 2016, they wrote, “Economic elites and interest groups can shape U.S. government policy — but Americans who are less well-off have essentially no influence over what their government does … We believe this massive inequality of influence is a serious indictment of the quality of American democracy.”

The United States rises to the top position in some areas. The United States is the richest country on the planet. Its military costs nearly as much as the rest of world militaries combined. It leads in global weapons sales and as of 2017 provided weapons and, in most cases, training to 73 percent of the world’s dictatorships. We have over 800 foreign military bases, while all other countries combined have about 30. The U.S. public stands out in its support for militarism. The United States is also exceptional in its disregard for international treaties, law and courts.

A 2017 survey by Pew Research Center found that people in most countries polled called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

These statistics provide us with a reality check on our unquestioned fealty to the idea that we are “the exceptional nation.”

American exceptionalism results in enormous violence and killing of innocent people around the world. When we claim to be exceptional we also devalue the lives of others. U.S. exceptionalism, and consequent wars, also results in unimaginable damage to the Earth and its ecosystems.

To our detriment, our military gobbles up funds for the domestic social and jobs programs, health care, housing, environmental protection and infrastructure. The people suffer; the weapons manufacturers and Wall Street prosper.

So how do we cure ourselves of the American belief of exceptionalism? David Swanson, author of a 2018 book entitled “Curing Exceptionalism,” offers some ideas. First ask ourselves who “we” are. What increases our humanity, identifying with a nation or all of humanity? Can we drop the idea that we are the democratic and good country, while our “enemies” are undemocratic and evil? Can we imagine other countries doing to us what we do to them? How would we react if Russia was doing military exercises on our borders with Mexico or Canada, or if Syria or Iraq bombed the United States?

We could learn about others by reading foreign books and watching foreign movies and TV stations. We could focus on how to de-escalate conflicts rather than supporting the next war or demonizing other people’s leaders and countries. American exceptionalism is a kind of cancer eating away at our souls and our humanity. Becoming humble would go along way.

I urge people to read “Curing Exceptionalism” and visit Swanson’s website at

If you’d like to help with Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s anti-war efforts, please contact me at

Carolyn Bninski, a Boulder resident, is on the staff of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

Website Claims Trump To Vacate Contentious, Illegal Base At al-Tanf, Syria

U.S. illegal presence in Syria

Trump’s Surprise Withdrawal From Syria Betrays Allies and Bolsters Rivals

BuzzFeed News reveals that the US is preparing to shut down a key base near Syria’s border with Jordan that some US officials have cast as part of efforts to counter Iran.

Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Delil Souleiman / AFP / Getty Images  Kurdish fighters in Syria.

WASHINGTON — The US is set to withdraw from a special forces base in Syria that has been the subject of repeated Russian complaints, and that some US officials have cast as a key part of US efforts not just to defeat ISIS but to counter Iranian influence in the country.

Muhannad al-Talla, a rebel commander at al-Tanf, a US base near the Syrian border with Jordan, told BuzzFeed News that the base would see the withdrawal of the US troops who have trained and fought alongside rebels there, adding that he was helping to inventory and remove equipment. A US official confirmed that US troops will leave the base as part of President Trump’s decision to pull US forces from Syria.

The withdrawal at al-Tanf added to the concerns among US partner forces in Syria that they will be abandoned mid-fight — and it came as Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a resignation letter stressing the need for the US to stand by its allies.

Mattis resigned on Thursday, writing in his letter that US cooperation with its allies is key to its stability — just as US officials and analysts tracking the conflict were fretting over the ramifications of abandoning US allies in Syria. “One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,” Mattis wrote. He cited the “Defeat-ISIS coalition” as “proof.”

At the same time, citing Russia, Mattis stressed a need to be “resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.”

The closure of al-Tanf reinforced the view that Trump’s surprise decision to pull US troops from the country threatens to do the opposite of what Mattis laid out: While US allies in Syria face the sudden prospect of destruction, the removal of US troops will strengthen the hands of Russia and Iran.

Russia has repeatedly objected to US presence at al-Tanf. A Russian official earlier this month expressed “growing concern” about the “illegal occupation of the 55-km zone around the base in al-Tanf,” calling it “the basic source of destabilisation in that part of Syria.”

Trump’s decision also came less than three months after national security adviser John Bolton announced that US troops would remain in Syria as long as Iran and its proxies did. Bolton reportedly lobbied Trump not to close al-Tanf, envisioning a role for it in the US strategy to check Iranian influence. Russia, which entered the civil war in 2015 to prop up Assad, meanwhile praised Trump for the planned withdrawal, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling it the “correct” decision.

But sources in the US and Syria warned that the withdrawal would keep the US mission of defeating ISIS from being completed. They also said that abandoning US allies in the unfinished fight puts US credibility at risk. “How can such a decision be issued by a superpower in this way?” asked Ahmed Khader Al-Mahaya, a media officer in al-Tanf. “ISIS has now turned into a new type of fighting, relying on sleeper cells and small groups that carry out surprise attacks. They have not been eliminated.”

A contingent of hardened ISIS fighters still holds a pocket of territory in eastern Syria, battling a Kurdish-led coalition of fighters, called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), that US troops armed and trained for the mission. As with the fighters at al-Tanf, US special forces have been fighting ISIS alongside the SDF, and their presence has also deterred attacks from Syrian, Turkish, Iranian, and Russian forces. Now, faced with the prospect of being left on their own, the SDF might not finish the job.

“I don’t see how they keep the focus on ISIS while faced with an existential threat from Turkey,” said a US military officer who has worked at senior levels of the anti-ISIS coalition, referring to Turkish threats to invade SDF territory. The SDF is dominated by Kurdish fighters linked to the PKK, which has been fighting a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and Ankara has been upset about the partnership from the start. Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops followed the Turkish threats and a phone call with Turkey’s president.

“If I was [SDF leadership] and I saw that we’re leaving relatively quickly, and at a time when they’re fighting the most vicious, hardcore ISIS fighters, I would be thinking: Where’s my indirect fire coming from? Where’s my [air support]? Where’s my Medevac?” the US officer said. “I would really question how many more Kurdish lives I am going to waste on ISIS when the US is pulling out.”

US officials had signaled continued support to the SDF until Trump’s surprise decision. Congress sent the same message with continued approval of US funds and assistance to SDF areas, said Dana Stroul, until recently a senior professional staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Clearly this wasn’t discussed with the SDF over time,” she said. “It was policy by tweeting.”

More than ever, the US relies on local forces to fight its counterterrorism campaigns. The so-called “by, with, and through” strategy is arguably more effective than large US troop deployments in places like Iraq and Syria — and it is more politically viable with a war-weary American public. The strategy calls on local forces like the SDF to carry out the brunt of the combat while US special forces and air power act as a force multiplier. The US partnership with the SDF was meant to be a showcase of this strategy.

“If you’re a local partner and the US is saying, ‘We would like you to risk your life and the lives of your family to work with us,’ there is a question now of whether the US can be trusted to see the fight through,” Stroul said. “The big lesson that I would take in a regional capital is that the US is unreliable as a partner. You couldn’t find a counter-terrorism expert in the US government or outside the US government or in the Middle East or elsewhere who believes that ISIS has been substantively defeated. And we gave our word to these local partners that we would have their backs.”

A regional security official said Trump’s abandonment of the SDF would leave a “bitter aftertaste” with other US allies. “It also plays directly into Iran’s messaging: the US is not a reliable partner,” he said. “The US will now have to think long and hard next time it calls on local partners to bear the brunt of war.”

A sudden US departure would risk not just SDF forces but the stabilization efforts the US has been leading in former ISIS territory, which range from rebuilding areas destroyed by US airstrikes to demining efforts and capacity-building for local security forces and governments. In addition to addressing humanitarian concerns, these efforts were intended to help prevent an ISIS resurgence. The US withdrawal raised concerns about how the projects will move forward and who will provide the security guarantees they need.

“They just pull the plug with no warning, no plans — it’s crazy,” said Sasha Ghosh-Siminoff, executive director of People Demand Change, a nongovernmental organization that carries out US-funded development work in northeastern Syria. “What the hell happens to all that money and all the plans? You have hundreds of millions and maybe even over a billion in U.S. aid and development contracts that will be left in limbo.”

Ghosh-Siminoff noted that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, at US urging, had recently pledged $250 million in stabilization aid, and that the work of other countries and organizations in SDF territory requires a guarantee of security. “All that money is tied to US government presence and force protection. The French, Canadians, and other countries who were ramping up and preparing to help with stabilization will not show up with that if there is no force protection from the US government.”

Turkey Delays Military Operation on Syria Over U.S. Pullout–Kurds Threaten To Release 3200 ISIS Prisoners

Kurds Discuss Releasing 3,200 ISIS Prisoners After Trump Threatens Pullout From Syria

  • Phone call with Trump led Turkey to wait ‘a little longer’
    Turkey has been preparing attack on U.S.’s Kurdish partners
Armoured vehicles and soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces  patrol near Manbi.  Source: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“Our phone call with President Trump, along with contacts between our diplomats and security officials and statements by the United States, have led us to wait a little longer,” Erdogan told an exporters’ group in Ankara on Friday. “Obviously, this is not an open-ended waiting period.”

The speech comes two days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to pull out of Syria, where U.S. troops are fighting Islamic State alongside Kurdish-dominated forces led by a group called the YPG. Turkey says the YPG is an extension of a terrorist organization.

The U.S. alliance with the YPG has been a source of frustration for NATO ally Turkey, which deems the militant group a front for Kurdish separatists it’s been fighting since 1984. Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw disappointed the Kurds but was met with cautious optimism in Ankara, where officials said the decision would likely serve Turkish interests.

Trump’s ‘Green Light’ to Erdogan Sets Off Jostling on Syria (1)

About a week before the Trump announcement, Erdogan said he would soon send his army into an area to the east of the Euphrates river in Syria, where U.S. troops and Kurdish militants are stationed.

After the U.S. exit, Turkish forces will fight both Islamic State and Kurdish militants, Erdogan said.

Trump Ordering Large Number of US Troops Withdrawn From Afghanistan, “Mad Dog” Mattis Quits As Sec/Defense

BREAKING: U.S. Making ‘Significant’ Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan, Report Says

Pentagon chief Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Trump

President Donald Trump waves as he steps out of Air Force One during his arrival at JFK International airport in New York, Thursday, May 4, 2017

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US troop withdrawal from Syria and the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis has the establishment fearful that President Donald Trump might finally implement the foreign policy he campaigned on, former diplomat Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

“Terror has again gripped the establishment that the Trump who was elected president in 2016 might actually start implementing what he promised,” Jatras, who was also once a US Senate foreign policy adviser, said on Thursday.

Trump needed to also overhaul the rest of his top-tier defense and national security advisers and chiefs, Jatras said.

“This will be a critical time for the Trump presidency. If he can get the machinery of the Executive Branch to implement his decision to withdraw from Syria, and if he can pick a replacement to General Mattis who actually agrees with [his own] views,” Jatras said. “It is imperative that he pick someone for the Pentagon — and frankly, clear out the rest of his national security team — and appoint people he can trust and whose views comport with his own.”Trump in a tweet earlier in the day commenting on his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, said it was “time to come home and rebuild.”

READ MORE: US Likely to Proceed With INF Pullout Even if UN Backs Treaty — Russian Envoy

On Thursday, Mattis stepped down citing the fact his views no longer aligned with Trump’s a day after the White House announced that US troops were leaving Syria.Earlier on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has ordered the US military to withdraw some 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

The president made promises during his campaign to stop expending money and lives on foreign wars to rebuild the United States.

Putin Has A Bold Plan for Libya…Restore the Qaddafi Govt, Muammar’s Son, Saif al-Islam


Russia Has a Plan for Libya—Another Qaddafi

Vladimir Putin is working to fill voids left around the world as Donald Trump puts America first.

A Libyan National Transitional Council fighter walks under a torn picture of Muammar Qaddafi in Sirte, in 2011.  Photographer: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

The former dictator’s son, Saif al-Islam, this month became the latest in a long line of Libyans to seek Moscow’s support as President Vladimir Putin steps up Russia’s role in the energy-rich North African state.

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi appears via video link at a court in Tripoli on April 27, 2014.
Photographer: Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images

With the U.S. all but absent, the Kremlin sees an opening to become the key power broker in Libya, rudderless and divided since Muammar Qaddafi’s overthrow and death in 2011. Russia is likely to be emboldened in that aim by U.S. plans to pull out of Syria.Moscow has until now been seen as throwing in its lot with Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who controls most of the oil-producing east of Libya. Yet Russia has been quietly building ties with all the competing factions, according to two European diplomats who study the Kremlin’s strategy. That puts it in a position to benefit more than other outside powers that support one side or another.

“The West did everything it could to plunge this country into chaos. Now all parties to the conflict trust Moscow”

While there are major issues facing a bid for power by Saif al-Islam, for the Russians, “their best-case scenario is to back someone from the former regime, because they know each other well and have had decades of dealings during Qaddafi’s rule,” said Mohamed Eljarh, co-founder of Libya Outlook for Research and Consulting, a Tobruk-based think thank.

For Putin, who angrily condemned the NATO-led military campaign that overthrew Qaddafi’s four-decade rule as a “crusade,” restoring Russia as a key player in Libya after his successful intervention in Syria would bolster his country’s heft at U.S. expense. It also opens up the path to reconstruction contracts worth billions of dollars, a share of Africa’s largest oil resources and a possible new naval base on the Mediterranean.

“The West did everything it could to plunge this country into chaos,” said Alexander Dynkin, head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, a state-run research group that advises the Kremlin. “Now all parties to the conflict trust Moscow.”

Libyan Power Play

The rival factions vying for control of an energy-rich state

Sources: RiskIntelligence – Dec. 10, 2018; ECFR

Russia switched strategy on Libya last year, according to the diplomats. As well as supporting Haftar, Moscow put a lot of effort into courting the rival UN-backed government in Tripoli and other power centers, including the western region of Misrata, they said. Haftar has been a frequent visitor to Moscow since 2016, but Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and other top Libyan officials are also regularly in the Russian capital.

QuicktakeChaos in Libya

The Kremlin’s strategy appears to be paying off. Russia is in talks with Libya on restarting a 2.2 billion euro ($2.5 billion) contract to build a high-speed rail line from Benghazi to Sirte, suspended since Qaddafi’s demise. Russian defense manufacturers that lost $4 billion in arms deals in Libya also stand to gain. Libya is meanwhile buying 1 million tons of Russian wheat for $700 million.

Russian energy interests are also advancing. Libyan National Oil Corp. CEO Mustafa Sanalla was in Moscow in October for talks with Gazprom PJSC and Tatneft PJSC on relaunching Libyan projects that date from the Qaddafi era. Rosneft PJSC has agreed to invest in exploration and production in Libya and to buy crude. All deal exclusively with Tripoli-based NOC, in spite of Moscow’s Haftar ties, because it alone has the right to strike foreign agreements.

“The support shown for NOC by Russian political and commercial leaders demonstrates the strength of our future prospects,” Sanalla told Bloomberg.

Marshal Khalifa Haftar leaves Russia’s Foreign Ministry in Moscow in 2016.
Photographer: Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images

As Russia deepens its engagement, President Donald Trump’s global pullback, most recently in Syria, risks leaving the U.S. adrift. Neither Russia nor the U.S. has functioning embassies in Libya—U.S. operations were suspended after the American ambassador was killed in 2012 during an armed attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Yet last month, even as the Trump administration worked on a new strategy for Africa, the U.S. sent Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield to a conference on Libya hosted by Italy’s government; Russia dispatched Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia’s involvement in Libya goes back to 1969, when Qaddafi came to power as a 27-year-old military officer in a bloodless coup against the Western-backed monarchy. The Soviet Union and its Russian successor state armed Qaddafi’s regime, but after his overthrow Libya disintegrated into rival factions with the central government unable to control even the capital.

During the bloodletting, Saif al-Islam, 46, who studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was captured, put on trial and then freed in mid-2017 by the rebels who toppled and killed his father.

Russian representatives entered into contact with the one-time heir apparent soon after his release and talk by video-link, with him speaking from an undisclosed location, said a person in Moscow with knowledge of Libya policy. The Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

A representative of Qaddafi’s son met Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in early December, delivering a letter on his behalf with greetings to Putin and the Russian government, explaining his political vision for Libya and asking for political support.

The visit by his emissary was not the first. Qaddafi’s son is looking to Russia for financial help and mediation with other Libyan power centers to back his bid to become president, the person said.

Saif al-Islam could choose to stand in national elections the United Nations wants to hold next year under its latest plan to unify the country, even though he’s wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges from 2011 including two counts of crimes against humanity. Haftar also has his own presidential ambitions as do other Libyan politicians, and Russia hasn’t yet decided on supporting one particular candidate, said the person.

Muammar Qaddafi and Vladimir Putin in 2008.
Photographer: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images

Given the legal constraints, with prosecutors in Tripoli also seeking his arrest, “it’s difficult to see how Saif al-Islam can make a comeback” unless the issue is resolved through a wider national reconciliation process, said Eljarh of Libya Outlook. The Russians though are “keeping their options open,” he said.

With Haftar aged 75 and in ill health, Qaddafi’s son could win Russian support if there is a consensus among Libyans, said Maria Al Makahleh, a Middle East expert at the Kremlin-backed Valdai Club. Lev Dengov, a Russian envoy to Libya, said in November that his government was in touch with Saif al-Islam, describing him as “a participant in the political process” who is now “very optimistic” about his prospects.

Another hopeful, Aref Ali Nayed, a Libyan politician seen as close to Haftar who’s declared his candidacy for president, has visited Moscow twice since September for talks with top officials. The aim was “to encourage the Russians to play an active role,” Nayed, a former Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said by phone from London. “I truly feel that we are at an impasse in the political process. I believe I can be a unifying figure.”

Inside Libya, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s mainly Muslim Chechnya region, has been promoting unofficial contacts since he secured the release of Russian seamen held in the country in 2015. He’s in touch with both Tripoli and important tribal forces elsewhere in Libya.

Members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, which is loyal to Haftar.
Photographer: AFP Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

In the east, where Haftar’s Libyan National Army holds sway, Russian military personnel are providing training and weapons maintenance, while there are indications Russian special forces were dispatched and took part in operations there, two Western officials said. In the competition for the country’s future, “Russia has one main advantage—Haftar,” said Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian businessman and Putin ally with contacts in Libya.

Russia still faces significant hurdles in dealing with armed Libyan factions unable to agree on how to share power. The picture is further muddied by other outside actors, with Italy and Qatar seen to be betting on Tripoli, and the U.A.E., Egypt and France siding with Haftar.

By hedging its bets and keeping channels of communication open to all parties, Russia is ensuring it will benefit “regardless of the winner of the conflict or the peace deal in place,” said Riccardo Fabiani, a Middle East and North Africa expert at Energy Aspects. In Libya, “neither side can afford antagonizing or refusing to speak with Russia,” he said.

— With assistance by John Follain, Ilya Arkhipov, Salma El Wardany, Dina Khrennikova, Yuliya Fedorinova, Anatoly Medetsky, Saleh Sarrar, Caroline Alexander, and Samuel Dodge

US to leave Syria-Turkey border observation posts in effort to buy withdrawal time

US to leave Syria-Turkey border observation posts in effort to buy withdrawal time

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region of Iraq – U.S. officials are planning to pull out of recently-built observation posts on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkey border, The Defense Post learned on Wednesday, December 19.

The move is part of a impromptu effort to buy time in the hope of productive political engagement with Turkey before the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country, according to a State Department official.

The revelation comes just house after White House confirmed that U.S. forces will withdraw from Syria, saying in a statement: “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign” against Islamic State.

The U.S. intends to leave the outposts, some of which are located in Kobane, Tal Abyad and Tal Arqam, in an attempt to show Turkey the American withdrawal is legitimate, according to the source.

The U.S. plan is to coordinate with Ankara to ensure as many of the stated U.S. goals in Syria can be maintained without the presence of American forces in the country, including continued support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which faces the threat of imminent attack by Turkey.

It is unclear in what capacity that support will be provided. The SDF lacks heavy weapons and even helmets for most of its fighters, and relies heavily on close U.S. air support for success on the battlefield.

U.S. officials on Wednesday were resistant to any commitment to a timeline for U.S. forces to withdraw. It is also unclear how quickly the observation posts will be dismantled.

According to the source, U.S. officials fear that maintaining the observation posts could trigger Turkish aggression, but will not prevent any inevitable incursion.

Part of the plan is a proposed deployment of other forces intended to create a buffer to prevent an outbreak of fighting between the SDF and the Turkish military, which American officials fear could put U.S. forces at serious risk.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly vowed to clear Syria’s eastern Euphrates region of U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG), a key component of the SDF. The SDF has seized swaths of territory from ISIS in northern and eastern Syria, backed by U.S.-led Coalition troops, who advise and assist the force.

The predominantly Kurdish YPG is considered by the Turkish government to be inextricably linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and is designated as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

But the YPG is not a proscribed organization in the European Union, United Kingdom or United States.

Earlier this week Erdogan said Turkey would launch a new operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates “within days.” He insisted that U.S. forces would not be the target of a Turkish invasion.

In an interview with Reuters last week, SDF commander-in-chief General Mazloum Kobani said his forces were prepared to fight any Turkish incursion and called on the United States to step up diplomatic engagement with Turkey to resolve the crisis.

Both the U.S. and SDF have stated that any Turkish attack would divert sorely-needed SDF fighters from the ongoing battle against the last remaining ISIS territorial stronghold near Hajin, not far from the Iraq border on the Euphrates river.

“If there is a Turkish attack, the YPG forces will be forced to come protect the borders, to defend their families,” Mazloum told Reuters. If that occurs, Mazloum said, “the battle against Daesh is not possible.”

‘We have defeated ISIS in Syria’

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

It is not clear if Washington has a clear plan to complete the ongoing ground operations against ISIS, which U.S. special envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS Brett McGurk saidjust last week could take “a period of months.”

McGurk also said U.S. forces would remain in Syria after the “physical defeat of the caliphate,” and that any other approach would be “reckless.”

There is still a large number of ISIS sleeper cells throughout northern Syria. “If the U.S. pulled out tomorrow, ISIS would be outside Qamishli in 24 hours,” a U.S. intelligence source told The Defense Post last week, referring to the main administrative center of SDF-controlled territory.

Other forces to deploy?

Washington’s plan for the border includes a U.S.-brokered attempt to organize a force of Rojava Peshmerga and a small number of fighters under the command of Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba, according to the source, as well as efforts to accelerate implementation of the “Manbij roadmap” agreed to between the U.S. and Turkey last June.

The number of men under Jarba’s authority is unclear, but sources with knowledge of the matter say it is relatively small. Among the groups under his command are Jaysh al-Nukhba, or Syrian Elite Forces, a unit of former Free Syrian Army fighters which were absorbed into the SDF, then subsequently sidelined.

A representative of the Syrian Elite Forces was unavailable for comment.

The Rojava Peshmerga, made up mainly of Syrian Kurdish fighters based in northern Iraq, was formed in 2015 as the military wing of the Syrian Kurdish National Council (ENKS), a rival party to the YPG-allied Democratic Union Party (PYD).

A convoy of Rojava Peshmerga was reportedly turned away earlier this week after trying to enter northern Syria. The implications for the U.S. plan are unclear.

As of Wednesday morning, Amina Omar, co-Chairperson of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the SDF, had not been officially informed of the plan to deploy Rojava Peshmerga, she told The Defense Post.

Amina added that the U.S. outposts were still in place, and a new one had just been constructed at Bahr Abyad.

About 2,000 U.S. troops are officially in Syria where they work with the SDF in the northeast and the vetted Syrian opposition group Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) in the south at At-Tanf, which controls the Damascus-Baghdad highway on the Syria-Jordan border.

The Trump administration’s planned withdrawal may include U.S. forces stationed at the Tanf base, according to a U.S. intelligence source. Some 40,000 Syrian refugees remain stranded at the Rukban refugee camp within the 55-km deconfliction zone around the base.

Syria border observation posts

Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar asked U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey to remove the border observation posts during their meeting in Ankara on December 7, and pressed the U.S. to “end its relationship” with the YPG.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced on November 21 that the posts were intended to “track any threat that we can spot going up into Turkey.”

Mattis acknowledged Ankara’s concerns, but insisted that the YPG is not the same as the PKK.

One week earlier, Jeffrey had publicly stated that the PYD is an offshoot of the PKK, challenging the official line of the U.S. Defense Department in an apparent gesture to Ankara.

“We can’t do any of the things we’re doing in Syria without the active participation, cooperation, coordination with Turkey,” Jeffrey said at the Defense One forum in Washington.

“But we also cannot be present in the northeast of the country and continue the fight against Da’esh – which is not yet over – unless we have a local partner, and that local partner since 2014 has been the PYD, which is a Syrian offshoot of the PKK.”

Jeffrey pointed out that the U.S. had not provided the SDF with heavy weapons in honor of Turkey’s requests.

“It’s not a question of placating one or the other … That’s the dilemma we have, and we’re trying to convince both sides,” Jeffrey said.

Earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the U.S. could not “contain” the proposed Turkish operation to clear U.S.-backed fighters from territory east of the Euphrates.

The U.S. Defense Department announced last week that it would find any such incursion “unacceptable,” but did not articulate any clear steps to be taken should the Coalition partner-force come under Turkish attack.

The U.S.-led Coalition has struck non-ISIS forces on numerous occasions, citing its legal right self-defense and “the defense of partner forces” under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, but has refrained from retaliating for Turkish attacks on the YPG.

“The Coalition hopes diplomacy works before anything else,” Coalition spokesperson Colonel Sean Ryan told The Defense Post on Friday.

SDC’s Amina Omar told The Defense Post that the U.S. had not given them any guarantees of protection in the case of Turkish invasion.

“The Americans should protect this territory, but it is clear that their political objectives are just the defeat of ISIS,” she said.

“Given the threats of marching in to deal with this problem themselves, the U.S. at every level has reached out to the Turks,” Jeffrey said at an Atlantic Council event on Monday.

“We think that any offensive into northeastern Syria by anyone is a bad idea. That was a position that I conveyed when I was in Ankara, that everyone from the president on down has conveyed,” he said.

Jeffrey met with Turkish officials in Ankara earlier this month to discuss the situation east of the Euphrates and address Turkey’s concerns.

“There’s no question that Pompeo and Jeffrey are making a concerted effort to bring the Turks off the ledge,” former Syria Director at the National Security Council Alex Bick told The Defense Post.

“Not just because they don’t want the Turks fighting the SDF, but from a bigger geostrategic perspective, they see Turkey as a more important ally for the United States,” he said.

Asked whether she expected the U.S. to assist in the case of Turkish invasion, Omar responded, “Nothing is certain.”

Trump Honors Campaign Pledge To Leave Syria…Pentagon Preparing the Withdrawal of US Troops

The Pentagon Is Reportedly Preparing To Withdraw All US Troops From Syria

The United States is preparing to rapidly withdraw all 2,000 troops in northeastern Syria as soon as Kurdish and Arab forces drive ISIS from its last enclave, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday.

  • “The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders.”
  • Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed on Wednesday that U.S. military has begun to draw down its forces in Syria.
  • “The coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over,” White said. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign.
  • “For force protection and operational security reasons we will not provide further details. We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates.”
  • In August, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that U.S. troops would remain in Syria until diplomatic efforts to peacefully end that country’s civil war showed progress.
  • “We need the Geneva process, the U.N.-recognized process to start making traction towards solving this war,” Mattis told reporters at an Aug. 28 news briefing. “Now, if the locals are able to keep the security, obviously during this time we might be reducing our troops commensurate with their ability to deny ISIS a return, but it really comes down to finding a way to solve this problem of [Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s] making.”
  • News about the pending departure of all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria comes amid signs of a wider rapprochement between the United States and Turkey, which views Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists.
  • The Defense Department has notified Congress that it has approved the sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey, which had been flirting with buying Russian S-400 missiles, and President Trump has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he will consider extraditing cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for a 2016 coup.

The US/Israeli Plot To Restore the Iranian Dynasty of Shah Reza Pahlavi

The US Wants to Bring Back the Shah of Iran


[First published by The Greanville Post]













The US had a great deal going from 1953 to 1979 with the Shah of Iran. For 25 years Iran was a cornerstone of the US usurping the British Empire in the Middle East, following World War Two. Iran was a base for projecting US power in the region, and strategically it bordered the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

During the early 20th century the British Empire had full control of Iran’s oil industry, and was paying Iran a flat fee for every barrel of oil it extracted. A rough calculation of Iran’s royalties is between 8% to 16% of the profits, but Iran was never allowed to look at the financial books. [*]

Prior to the CIA-led 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran demanded 50% of the profits and control of their oil industry. That was not unreasonable, but Iran was willing to negotiate. At the time, the US oil companies had a 50/50 profit sharing agreement with Saudi Arabia.

The British refused any negotiated settlement. It was then that the Iranian parliament led by Mossadegh voted to nationalized Iran’s oil industry. The British responded with a naval blockade, and began plotting to overthrow Mossadegh and the parliament. As the Prime Minister, Mossadegh held the most political power in Iran because the people were behind him. The Shah of Iran was mostly a figurehead, at the time. [*]

Mural on the American Embassy in Iran. (Credit: Phillip Maiwald)

President Harry Truman was adamantly against colonialism and sided with Iran, which infuriated the British. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office in 1953, he sided with the British. Eisenhower and Churchill plotted a coup d’état to overthrow Mossadegh. The frightened Shah, who was in on the plot, fled from Iran before the coup attempt just in case anything went wrong. The first attempt did fail. A second daring CIA-led coup succeeded and the US reinstalled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the Shah of Iran, with dictatorial power.

By its intervention, the US broke the British Empire’s monopoly on Iran’s oil. That was part of the US’s calculus. After the coup, US oil companies got 40% of Iran’s oil industry, 14% went to Royal Dutch-Shell, 6 % went to the French Petroleum Company, and the British oil company (forerunner of BP] kept 40%. In addition, Iran got its 50/50 share of the net profits that it wanted in the first place. The US immediately sent financial aid to prop up the Shah, and to bolster Iran’s weakened economy from the British blockade.

If the British had initially been flexible, renegotiated a 50/50 oil deal with Prime Minister Mossadegh, then it would have made a coup less likely. Iran was developing a secular democratic government. It might have become a model for other post-colonial countries in the Middle East. Democracy and self-determination are what the US said its world mission was going back to President Woodrow Wilson in 1918:

“….every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.” [*]

Since Iran was a developing democracy, an excuse had to be found for a US intervention. Churchill accused Mossadegh of being a communist. There was no evidence that he was. Mossadegh was an anti-colonial nationalist who cared about the welfare of the Iranian people, and that was all the evidence that Eisenhower needed. Mossadegh had to be punished for standing up to the British and demanding Iran’s natural resources for the benefit of the Iranian people.

The winners from the coup were the US and the timid Shah who had ran from his own people. The US would teach him how to have a backbone. He turned out to be a good student, and with the support of the US he turned Iran into a totalitarian police state and ruled by terror. The Shah got US protection from his own people and from foreign enemies.

The US looked the other way from the Shah’s corruption of conspicuous consumption, stuffing dollars in foreign bank accounts and lining his own pockets, and those of his cronies. The US got a big piece of the Iran oil industry, and Iran gave the US a strategically important location for a military presence. As for the people of Iran, they continued to live in abject poverty and illiteracy. [*]

Now that the Shah is gone, the US propaganda machine and the mainstream media put out a flood of stories about how wonderful life was under the Shah. The propagandists use economic indicators of inflation, employment, gross domestic product, oil exports and the upper-class standard of living. Anybody who puts out those kinds of comparative economics deserves to flunk Economics 101.

Iran has been under severe US-imposed economic sanctions for 40 years. The US has been threatening Iran with war and “all options are on the table” for decades. The US has also instigated instability inside Iran and supported external attacks by terrorist groups such as Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK. [*]

MEK was on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organization until it was removed by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012. [*] The fact that MEK has killed US citizens in terrorist attacks did not hinder some US politicians from accepting large speaking fees at their conventions, even when MEK was still on the US terrorist list. [*]

The US project to destroy Iran’s economy has had a devastating impact. The husky Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo said that it is up to Iranians’ leadership “if they wanttheir people to eat”.[*] Because of the US, Iran lacks sufficient funds that it would like to invest in human resources and social programs. Iran’s constitution guarantees healthcare and free education for all, as well as protections of civil rights. As reflected in the drafting of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, the vision of the economic order was:

“Social justice and economic independence were the main economic goals to be achieved, among other means, through the expansion of the welfare state, extension of public ownership, creation of an active cooperative sector, and strengthening the agricultural and industrial sectors for greater self-reliance. ….the Constitution of the Islamic Republic bears great resemblance on economic issues to the charters and constitutions of Arab “socialist” states drafted during the 1960s and 1970s.” [*]

Constant US, Israeli and Saudi threats require Iran to divert its domestic budget more towards defense, instead of its desired economic goals. Terrorist attacks and internal dissent stirred up by the US causes Iran to increase its internal security to the detriment of civil liberties. The US and the mainstream media propaganda machines know what the deliberate effects of US aggressive actions cause, but they cruelly taunt Iran for its economic and social hardships by blaming the victim.

The US uses these same dirty tricks against Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia and every other country that the US demonizes for not falling into line behind US domination in the neoliberal New World Order. The New World Order is the US foreign policy that it alone is unrestrained to “destabilize countries in order to integrate them militarily, politically and economically ….into US-style capitalism and culture”. [*]

The US is still fighting a cold war against socialism, the welfare state, and public ownership. A cold war against Iran is not about US national security. Iran is not an existential threat to the US, or to Israel either. [*] It is about US corporations being thwarted from exploiting Iran’s natural resources, privatizing their state-owned enterprises, and “opening” Iran to unequal trade arrangements. It is also about the US being the hegemon in the Middle East.

The US is still using the same gunboat diplomacy that it has been using since the 19th century to “open” Latin America, Japan, Korea, China and the Philippines to exploitation. It is old fashioned imperialism dressed up in the jargon of “human rights, democracy, and US exceptionalism”. It is what old-world colonialism called “civilizing the heathens”.

The US will never forgive the Islamic Republic of Iran for shutting down the US deal of exploitation. With the Shah’s cut from oil companies, he was a very big customer for US weapons manufacturers, such as General Dynamics, Lockheed, and Northrop. He also aggressively bought into President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. At the urging of the US, Iran began its nuclear program in 1957. [**]

Selling weapons and nuclear technology was good business for weapons manufacturers and the nuclear industry. US companies like General Electric and Westinghouse sold Iran the nuclear equipment and technology, as well as the enriched uranium fuel. They even sold the Shah highly enriched weapons grade uranium, which is the most efficient for producing electricity, and making atomic bombs, too. [*]

As far as the US public knew the Shah was highly popular and loved by his people. Imagine the surprise when the people of Iran overthrew him in 1979. The mainstream media was shocked too, since they had swallowed their own propaganda. The images of Iranians rioting, protesting, burning the US flag and shouting Death to America were frightening, it looked irrational, and it seemed to come out of nowhere.

The US public and press became outraged when the US Embassy in Tehran was stormed by revolutionary students who took 52 Americans hostage. The students renamed the US Embassy the “Den of Spies”. The students had every reason for that name, given the cache of incriminating documents they discovered. [*]

In the US, every nightly TV news broadcast began with the number of days that had passed since the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis. [“America held hostage”] It lasted for 444 days, and resulted in President Carter losing his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Instead of an imperial looking shah, the Iranian Revolution ushered in an Islamic leader to head the government. The thought of Iran turning into a theocracy seemed antiquated to Americans. They had not known that Ayatollah Khomeini was a national hero since the early 1960’s. He had been arrested, tortured, imprisoned and then exiled to France for his outspoken opposition to the Shah. [*] The unphotogenic image of a dour looking Ayatollah Khomeini was an easy target for Western racist and Islamophobic propaganda.

Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic (PressTV)

The US public could not understand why Iran became anti-US, anti-West, anti-modern, and appeared to be fanatical. The violent purging of the Shah’s cronies and of the opposition was shocking. Iranian supporters of the Shah who fled to the US brought with them wild tales of people being hung from street lamps for having televisions and toilets in their homes. They left out the part about how they lived in affluent luxury, while the vast majority of people lived in hovels. The transition was violence, and it lasted for about 2 years.

The US public had no idea why the Iranian people hated the US so much. The facts were kept secret from the public for years. The State Department documents were finally made public in 2017. [*] For many decades the public did not know that it was the US, from President Eisenhower on down through the State Department and the CIA, which overthrew the popular democratically elected government of the charismatic Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. [*] But the Iranian people knew that It was the US that put the brutal regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the Peacock Throne. [*]

The US public was uninformed of the Shah’s repression, political prisoners, torture chambers, assassinations, disappearances and executions. Not only did the US government turn a blind eye to the brutality, it was the CIA (and Israel’s Mossad) that was the overseer and mentor to the Shah’s secret police; the “Organization of National Intelligence and Security of the Nation”, known as SAVAK. [*]

[YouTube, 1953 Iran US-Led CIA Coup d’etat]

For an example of the Shah’s brutality, an Amnesty International assessment for 1974-1975 report stated:

“The shah of Iran retains his benevolent [world] image despite the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.” [*]

Once when The Shah was confronted by a journalist for the French newspaper Le Monde about his brutal repression methods he responded:

“Why should we not employ the same methods as you Europeans. We have learned sophisticated methods of torture from you. You use psychological methods to extract the truth; we do the same.”

In 1978 Amnesty International reported that nothing had changed for the better in Iran. Even the mention of the word SAVAK was enough to send chills down the backs of Iranians.

The explosion of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Hostage Crisis and the animosity of the Iranian people towards the US government was the direct result and blowback from 25 years of the US coddling and sheltering its shah puppet. As Kermit Roosevelt who was the CIA station chief in Tehran in 1953 said of the Shah: “He’s our boy”. It was Roosevelt who engineered and implemented the coup that brought the Shah to power. The codename for the coup was Operation Ajax. [*]

Just as Trump is trying to cover up for MBS (as Thomas Friedman affectionately refers to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), President Jimmy “Human Rights” Carter tried to cover up and sheltered Mohammad Reza Pahlavi after the Iranian Revolution. The Iranian people wanted the Shah arrested by the US, where he had fled. They wanted him extradited to Iran to face justice.

Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller had appealed to Carter’s compassion to admit the Shah to the US for health reasons. After much vacillation Carter agreed. [*] Carter had had a friendly personal relationship with The Shah. In 1977 Carter visited Iran and toasted the Shah for his “island of stability” and for “the admiration and love which your people give you”. [*]

Carter admitted the Shah to the US on October 21, 1979. On November 4, 1979 revolutionary students took over the US Embassy in Tehran, and demanded the Shah in exchange for the US hostages. Carter said he refused to give in to “blackmail” to a group of “terrorists”. Still vacillating, Carter expelled the Shah from the US. He died in Egypt in 1980. [*]

As a reaction to the Iran Hostage Crisis, the US imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, cut off the sale of oil and froze their assets in the US. The US put an embargo on Iran, including humanitarian supplies, and the US broke diplomatic relations. Needless to say, the US stopped its “Atoms for Peace” program and cooperation with Iran in developing nuclear energy. [*]

Not coincidentally, Iran released the US hostages within hours of Ronald Reagan being sworn in as President in 1981. The circumstances and timing of the hostage release is still controversial. [*] Most likely, Carter deserves the credit for successfully negotiating the release of the hostages. [*] Why the Iranians released the hostages when they did is still a mystery.

In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran starting the Iran-Iraq war that lasted until 1988. Whether or not the US gave a “green light” to Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, the US did not try to prevent or stop Iraq’s aggression. According to Dexter Filkins, writing in the New Yorker:

Iran’s leaders took two lessons from the Iran-Iraq War. The first was that Iran was surrounded by enemies, near and far. To the regime, the invasion was not so much an Iraqi plot as a Western one. American officials were aware of Saddam’s preparations to invade Iran in 1980, and they later provided him with targeting information used in chemical-weapons attacks; the weapons themselves were built with the help of Western European firms.

The other lesson drawn from the Iran-Iraq War was the futility of fighting a head-to-head confrontation. ……Instead, they had to build the capacity to wage asymmetrical warfare—attacking stronger powers indirectly, outside of Iran. [*]

According to the New York Times, “the Reagan Administration secretly decided shortly after taking office in January 1981 to allow Israel to ship several billion dollars’ worth of American arms and spare parts to Iran”. [*]  Cynically the US later said that it gave aid to both sides “to remain neutral”; and unsaid was to keep either side from winning. Both Iran and Iraq suffered over 500,000 casualties each in the Iran-Iraq War.

If the US had hoped that the Iran-Iraq war would weaken Iran, then the unintended consequences were just the opposite, as often is the case with US duplicity. Iraq’s invasion of Iran united the Iranian people strongly behind the Iran revolutionary government. In 2003, President Bush’s invasion of Iraq would make Iran an even stronger regional power.

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, and through a series of events Reagan sent US Marines to Lebanon. He called them a “peacekeeping force” to avoid having to get Congressional approval under the 1973 War Powers Resolution. In 1983 a truck bomb suicide attack on a Marine barracks in Lebanon killed 241 people, mostly US Marines. The US blamed the attack on Iran and declared Iran a “terrorist state”. More US sanctions were imposed on Iran even though there was only circumstantial evidence that Iran was the perpetrator.

In 1988 the US shot down an Iranian commercial airliner that was in Iranian airspace. All 290 passengers and crew of the airliner died. [*] The US claimed that it mistook the plane for a threatening fighter jet. Even though the US admitted that it had shot down the airliner, President George H. W. Bush refused to apologize, saying “I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy”. [*]

Even with all the turmoil of the 1980’s, Iran continued to work on its nuclear program. It had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970. Iran has every right under the treaty to a nuclear energy program. In fact, under the treaty the nuclear-weapons countries are obligated to cooperate with the non-nuclear-weapons countries in the peaceful development of atomic energy.

Instead of abiding by the NPT, the US used the red herring that Iran had a nuclear weapons program. Without proof, the US slapped unilateral economic sanctions on Iran. So, Iran turned to France, Russia and other countries to purchase material, equipment and technology for its nuclear energy program.

After the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the US war with Iraq, the US imposed sanctions on both Iraq and Iran. While Iran had declared neutrality in the war, the US accused Iran of secretly aiding Iraq. The real reason why the US imposed sanctions on Iran was that it was concerned that a weakened Iraq would strengthen Iran as a regional power, which is exactly what it did. [*]

Then in 1996 under President Bill Clinton, what was to become known as the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act was passed by Congress. l*] This act penalized any US or foreign entities that invested in Iran’s oil and gas industry. The supposed rational was that investing in Iran’s oil and gas industry would provide Iran with the funds to develop weapons of mass destruction. Since money is fungible, the same logic could be used about all trade with Iran, and eventually it was. Still there is no proof, except circumstantial, that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program.

The real reason for economic sanctions is that the US is engaging in economic warfare against Iran. It is angry because their puppet shah was overthrown. US economic sanctions are an attempt to destroy Iran’s economy. As the most powerful and influential economic nation in the world the US can exert tremendous financial penalties, hardships and isolation on other countries. Most of the suffering from sanctions are borne by civilians.

Does supporting the aggressor in a war, aiding the aggressor in the use of banned chemical weapons, giving both sides weapons to kill each other, and shooting down a civilian airliner qualify as “state sponsored terrorism”? Since 1979 the US has killed millions of people is covert operations such as in Afghanistan, and in illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Yet, Iran is condemned by the US as the world’s “leading state sponsor of terrorism”? Such accusations by the US against Iran are hypocritical and politically motivated hyperbole. [*] The motive for US propaganda is to aid the cause of overthrowing, one way or another, the internationally recognized legal government of Iran. [*] The world’s leading sponsor of state terrorism is surely the US, and its partners in terrorism are the UK, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The definition of terrorism according to Webster’s dictionary is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”.

The victims of US economic sanctions call it financial terrorism. It is and it does hurt mostly civilians financially, and it causes them unnecessary suffering and deaths from the lack of nutrition and medicines for curable and preventable diseases. There is also tremendous emotional distress on the civilian population caused by economic sanctions. Alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, crime and many other social conditions are exacerbated.

Economic sanctions meet the definition of terrorism, and that makes economic sanctions a crime against humanity. Even UN authorized economic sanctions overstep the Geneva Conventions and are immoral and may be unlawful. The International Committee of the Red Cross has cautioned the United Nations Security Council that the “Security Council is bound to observe the principles of international humanitarian law when designing, monitoring and reviewing sanctions regimes.” [*]

The US wants to turn the clock back to 1953 and a return of the Shah of Iran. Why not? The US had a great deal going with the Shah of Iran for a quarter of a century, until the Iranian Revolution of 1979. That is why the US hates the current government and wants to overthrow it.

The US is determined to undermine the government of Iran. President Trump’s violation of the JCPOA, “Iran Deal”, has put “all options on the table” again: economic sanctions, terrorism, war and even the use of nuclear weapons. Iran is now in its 40th year of the Islamic Republic. [*] Speaking to the terrorist group MEK in 2017, John Bolton said that President Trump’s policies should be that “Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.” [*] The 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution will take place in a few months, on February 11, 2019. Obviously, Bolton is not invited.

Iranians vote for the establishment of Islamic Republic in 1979.

John Bolton: Iran Regime Must Not Reach 40th Birthday

Trump says that the Iran Deal is the worst deal in history. What the US wants is the old deal that it had with Iran from 1953 to 1979. That was the “Greatest Iran Deal in History”. The CIA already has their man ready. They have been grooming him since he was 17 years old. He lives not far from the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He is Reza Pahlavi, the Crown Prince of Iran. He is the last heir apparent to his father’s defunct Peacock Throne. He is waiting in the wings for the job opening for a new Shah of Iran.

Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran


[*] Glide your mouse over the stars in the article for hyperlinks to supporting attributions.

“The Plot to Attack Iran: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Iran”, by Dan Kovalik.

“Shah of Shahs”, by Ryszard Kapuscinski.

“All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror”, by Stephen Kinzer.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.


No exceptions…It’s brainwash propaganda


About the author
David William Pear is a columnist writing on U.S. foreign policy, economic and political issues, human rights and social issues. David is a Senior Contributing Editor of The Greanville Post (TGP) and a prior Senior Editor for OpEdNews (OEN). David has been writing for The Real News Network (TRNN) and other publications for over 10 years. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete (Florida) for Peace, CodePink, and the Palestinian-led non-violent organization International Solidarity Movement.

The Curse of the Extremely One-Sided Mainstream Media

Ted Bainbridge: Am I only imagining these things I’m hearing?


Is it my imagination? I still hear crazy things:

When a conservative politician accuses the news media of being biased against him and not telling the truth, that “makes life dangerous for reporters.” When a leftist rioter attacks a news reporter, that is a non-story.

Saying “Trump for president” is an aggression. Saying Trump staffers should be mobbed, harassed, pushed and given “no rest, no peace” is not.

The current economic boom was not caused by the current president’s policies; it was caused by his predecessor’s opposite policies.

The current immigration problems were caused by the current president; not by his predecessor’s identical policies.

When hundreds of newspapers coordinate same-day editorials attacking someone, that proves they are not biased against him.

Claiming that minorities are inferior to whites is bad. Claiming minorities are less able to comply with voter registration and voting laws is good.

When guns were outlawed in England, gun crimes doubled. When guns are outlawed in America, gun crimes will disappear.

The statue of a man on a horse at the University of Wyoming is racist. The statue of a man on a horse at Fort Leavenworth is not racist.

Praising gay pride shows you are open-minded. Praising straight pride shows you are closed- minded.

Nobody has told me I’m hallucinating. Even worse, some people tell me they hear the same things. I’m getting worried.

Ted Bainbridge

Longmont, CO.

Turkey’s Syria operation also against two Middle East crown princes

Turkey’s military offence on the east of Euphrates River will be the most critical geopolitical intervention in the region and will also mean a defeat for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), columnist İbrahim Karagül said in pro-government Yeni Şafak daily on Saturday.

Turkish President Reecep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Wednesday that Turkey would launch a military operation against Syrian Kurdish forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in a couple of days.

Turkey sees the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting inside Turkey for more than 30 years.

The YPG forms the backbone of the U.S.-led struggle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

Columnist Karagül said on Saturday that the military intervention will mean a war of survival for Turkey, against what he called a new wave of occupational ambitions in the region.

Turkey has been threatened from all directions and not only Western armies but also local actors have been taking in part in the occupation of the region, Karagül said.

“In addition to terrorist organisations like the PKK and the ISIS, some countries in the region are also pushed to the battleground by assuming a similar mission like those organisations,” Karagül said.

“Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia are two important regional actors of this occupation of the West,” Karagül said. “The role those two crown princes assume against Turkey is similar to the role assumed by the PKK and the ISIS,” he said.

The pro-government columnist said that the operation on the east of Euphrates would also be an operation against those crown princes. “Not only the PKK, but also those two crown princes would be defeated,” he said.

“Whatever the price to be paid, even if it means suicide, this operation should be launched,” Karagül said.

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011, the relationship between Turkey and the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia has become more strained.

When Egypt’s democratically elected president Mohamad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted by a military coup, Turkey supported Morsi. Saudi Arabia backed the Egypt military and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former Minister of Defence who became Egypt’s president after the coup.

In May 2017, when a crisis erupted between Qatar and the other Gulf States, Turkey strongly backed Doha.


Ibrahim Karagül

Mueller Investigation Set To Reveal UAE, Saudi, and Israeli Election Tampering, Next

Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection

the daily beast

The ‘Russia investigation’ is set to go global. In court filings due to drop in 2019, prosecutors will unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence U.S. politics.

EXCLUSIVE/Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast

Over the past year, the indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas have largely been connected, in one way or another, to Russia. But now, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is preparing to reveal to the public a different side of his investigation. In court filings that are set to drop in early 2019, prosecutors will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence American politics, three sources familiar with this side of the probe told The Daily Beast.

In other words, the “Russia investigation” is set to go global.

While one part of the Mueller team has indicted Russian spies and troll-masters, another cadre has been spending its time focusing on how Middle Eastern countries pushed cash to Washington politicos in an attempt to sway policy under President Trump’s administration. Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, according to people familiar with the probe. Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran.

Now, according to those same sources, the Special Counsel’s Office is ready to outline what cooperating witnesses have told them about foreigners’ plans to help Trump win the presidency. Two sources with knowledge of the probe said Mueller’s team has for months discussed the possibility of issuing new charges on this side of the investigation.

“If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank which we haven’t seen,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney. “I guess what Mueller has to date has turned out to be pretty rich and detailed and more than we anticipated. This could turn out to be a rich part of the overall story.”

“If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank which we haven’t seen”
— Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney
The switch in focus comes as Mueller winds down cooperation with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who participated in 19 interviews with the special counsel’s team. In often-heavily redacted court documents made public over the last two weeks, the Special Counsel’s Office hinted at ways in which Flynn helped with its investigation into links between Trumpworld figures and the Russian government.

But Flynn was also involved in conversations with representatives and influential individuals from other foreign governments, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—encounters The Daily Beast has reported over the last several months. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller could bring new details about the scope of the special counsel’s probe into how individuals from those countries offered not only to help Trump win the presidential election, but also how they sought to influence foreign policy in the early days of the administration.

Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, said it is unclear if Mueller’s team will unveil nefarious foreign activity beyond what normally occurs in Washington.

“Many of these characters involved are somewhat unsavory,” he added. “But governments deal with all kinds of people all the time. It might be possible to question the wisdom of some of these connections, but not really possible to impugn the right of a government to deal with shadowy dealers in influence and access.”

Still, the Special Counsel’s Office has taken a keen interest this year in practices that were once considered business-as-usual in Washington. Republican operative Sam Patten pleaded guilty to the rarer-than-rare charge of “causing foreign money to be paid to the 2016-17 Presidential Inaugural Committee.” Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Flynn were both charged with not disclosing parts of their businesses under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—the first indictments of this nature in more than half a century.

It’s unclear exactly how, if at all, this side of Mueller’s probe overlaps with his mandate from the Department of Justice to investigate links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

Mueller also has the jurisdiction to “investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses,” according to the code.

“For something like this to happen, Mueller would have needed to get approval from [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein for this,” Litman said. “It’s not really in the original grant of jurisdiction and it appears then that he made his case to Rosenstein some time ago and that Rosenstein agreed.”

Mueller’s office has been investigating several meetings attended by George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and emissary to the UAE. Nader helped arrange the now-infamous meeting between Trump associate and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds—and he also acted somewhat as a go-between with representatives from Gulf state governments, at least one well-connected Israeli, and the Trump team.

Although Nader has been cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office since March, it is still unclear what evidence he has offered prosecutors during interviews.

In one August 2016 meeting, first reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by The Daily Beast, Nader told the room that the crown princes of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help Trump win the election. Also ready to lend his services was Joel Zamel, a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence. Zamel had already been in close contact with the Trump team because one of his companies, Psy Group, had drawn up a plan to use social-media manipulation to help Trump clinch the Republican nomination. The company sent former senior campaign aide Rick Gates that proposal.

But the connections between Trumpworld and Psy Group in 2016 were more extensive than previously reported, as The Daily Beast noted in November. Former employees said there were at least two other individuals who reached out to the firm during the campaign, both representing themselves as members of Trump’s inner circle.

Over the past year, Mueller’s team has interviewed a host of employees from Psy Group because of its connection to the Trump camp. Several former employees said the firm never went forward with its plan to help Trump, but others disputed that claim.

Zamel, through his lawyer, has also said publicly that he cooperated with the Special Counsel’s Office. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story. The Special Counsel’s Office declined to comment. Nader’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zamel remained close to the Trump team throughout the election and into the transition. Part of the reason? He had an easy in. He had been introduced to Nader years earlier by John Hannah, a former aide to Dick Cheney who now works as a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank. Hannah has also been in the sights of the Special Counsel’s Office.

Zamel popped back into the mix in the transition period after the election and further offered services, this time for crafting a plan for regime change in Iran. The Daily Beast was the first to report the meeting, which included Nader, Flynn, and a Saudi general, Ahmed al-Assiri. During this time, Nader was also promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Tehran. The meeting appears to be part of Saudi and Emirati efforts to lobby the incoming Trump administration against Qatar and Iran, their top regional competitors. The New York Times reported this year that Nader worked with Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to urge the White House to take an aggressive stance against the two countries.

Mueller has also probed Nader’s role in the January 2017 Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. In his House testimony, Prince said the meeting was a chance encounter and the two met to talk about trade and mineral wealth. But prosecutors this year received evidence that showed the meeting was premeditated. Communications reviewed by The Daily Beast reflect that narrative.

A memo shows the two spoke about a range of topics, including peace between Ukraine and Russia, military operations in Syria, investment in the Midwest, and nuclear weapons. Although RDIF is under U.S. sanctions, it was and is still legal for U.S. individuals to meet with Dmitriev, and, in some circumstances, do business with the fund.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are hoping to take another shot at questioning Prince next year—part of the new Congress’ effort to investigate the Trump administration. Prince told The Daily Beast this summer that he was cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office, but it is not clear to what extent. His previous lawyer, Victoria Toensing, is no longer representing him.

World War For Israel…Next On Trump’s Agenda

With the appointment of leading neoconservative John Bolton as National Security Advisor, the Zionist war-party takeover of the White House is nearly complete. With Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Nikki Haley at the U.N. and now Bolton whispering in the President’s ear, we have a fully endowed war cabinet that will make sure the Mullahs, Russkies and Rocket Man begin to pay attention. As Haley laid down the law in the United Nations last week, “Our patience is not unlimited.”

Bolton, the point man for Israeli-American casino billionaire and GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, will be the spark plug that ignites a new round of warfare on behalf of Israel. Bolton has long been planning to attack Iran. He secretly and illegally met with Israel’s Mossad intelligence service in 2003-4 when he was in the State Department under George W. Bush to lay the groundwork for such a conflict. Today, right-wing Israelis are certainly cheering his appointment. Naftali Bennett, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, has already praised the move, calling Bolton “an extraordinary security expert, experienced diplomat and a stalwart friend of Israel”.

War is likely to start in the Middle East as Iran, Lebanon and Syria are relatively soft targets with only limited capability to strike back. As neocon pundit Michael Ledeen put it, “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” There have been numerous indications that Israel is preparing for war. Its planning clearly includes deliberately involving the United States in the conflict, making turning American soldiers into de facto hostages, with U.S. casualties guaranteeing Washington’s direct and immediate involvement in the fighting.

Largely unknown to the American public, the United States has just completed the largest ever joint military exercises with Israel even though it has no defense agreement or treaty with Tel Aviv. That is, in part, because military alliances are dependent on an attack on one partner mandating support from all parties to the agreement. Israel has balked at such an arrangement because it cannot define its own borders, which are constantly expanding.

The recent maneuvers featured scenarios in which U.S. troops fought Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians in a mock-up Arab village to defend Israel. Washington’s particularly vulnerability vis-à-vis Israel derives from the recent opening of a U.S. permanent facility at Mashabim Air Base in the Negev Desert. It is described as a base within a base, completely contained by an Israeli air force installation and operating “under Israeli military directives,” meaning that if the facility is attacked Americans will likely die. It has no function in support of U.S. regional interests but is instead a shell facility with a few dozen airmen that can be ramped up considerably if Israel goes to war and calls for American assistance. Together with billions of dollars-worth of U.S. military equipment that is pre-positioned in Israel and can be used by the Israelis as needed, it is all about supporting Israeli war-making and has nothing to do with American security or defense interests except as a tripwire to bring about U.S. involvement.

For that reason, all of the above is something more than just the latest “we have to support Israel” gimmick. The American soldiers and airmen who are now based in Israel are the sacrificial lambs that will guarantee U.S. entry into a war that Israel intends to start, make no mistake about that. A group of U.S. Senators who have just returned from Israel have confirmed that Netanyahu’s government is preparing for a major regional war. Their recommendation? Give Israel more money so it can “defend” itself, a proposal that might be well received in the White House, which is also itching to confront both Syria and Iran. In addition to Bolton, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and the President himself have all been particularly ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran. At the U.N., Nikki Haley betrayed her ignorance of international law and the U.N. Charter, recently warning that the U.S. is prepared to attack Syria again because “…there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.”

When Israel attacks Syria and/or Lebanon, as it clearly intends to do, Hezbollah will retaliate with its missiles, some of which will surely be directed towards the Mashabim Air Base, which will be targeted to inhibit the base’s ability to bomb Lebanon. And once Washington is well and truly engaged in what is referred to as “force protection,” Israel will undoubtedly widen the conflict by drawing Iran in through attacks on that country’s identified bases in Syria that are supporting the al-Assad government. The bigger war will suddenly become America’s responsibility after Israel inevitably proves itself incapable of handling the escalation.

During the recent bilateral military exercises, Air Force Lieutenant General Richard Clark enthused that American soldiers are “prepared to die for the Jewish state” and also added that they would “probably” be under the command of Israeli Air Force General Zvika Haimovitch, who would decide on the involvement of U.S. personnel. Haimovitch commented “I am sure…we will find US troops on the ground…to defend the state of Israel.”

I somehow doubt if General Richard Clark would be so sanguine if his own son were told to prepare to die for the Jewish state. And I have to wonder if the good general has considered Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution about declaring war or the 1973 War Powers Act or the issue of national sovereignty itself in allowing another country to declare war for you. General Clark is a perfect example of how we have been sold out by the people we have honored and rewarded to defend our country when it comes to pandering to Israel. He and Bolton as well as the other Administration hawks clamoring for more war for Israel are a national disgrace.

*(John Bolton speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image credit: Gage Skidmore/ flickr)

The Future Of Mass Patient Surveillance–Medical Dictatorship

The Covert Dictatorship Called “Obamacare”

The rise of the Psychiatric State under Obamacare


Obama To Save Medicare By Killing-Off the Sick and the Elderly Americans Slowly Waking-Up To Harsh Reality of the Unaffordable Nature of “Affordable Care Act”

Obamacare Is A Bureaucratic Cyber-Weapon—“Stuxnet” for Healthcare Plans

Obama Finds the Man Most Eager To Initiate Govt. Behavioral Control and Makes Him Surgeon Gen.

Authored by Tho Bishop via The Mises Institute,

As tech executives continue to be grilled in front of Congress, the growing Bernie Sanders-wing of the Democratic Party is preparing to push its misnamed “Medicare for All” into the political mainstream after its political gains in the midterms. While these two stories seem to have very little in common, it’s not difficult to imagine a not-so-distant future where the two are dangerously connected. After all, so long as the scope of government grows, the continued politicization of all aspects of life will follow – the inevitable consequences of which could be quite horrific.

The State’s Shadow over Silicon Valley

First let’s consider some of the overlooked causes behind the increased censorship from Silicon Valley.

While Republican politicians relish in collecting cheap soundbites railing against the censorship practices of widely despised tech executives, few are willing to point out the obvious influence of government in Big Tech’s growing hostility to free speech.

For example, just recently Facebook announced it was following the lead of Tumblr by cracking down on “sexualized content” on its platform. While both decisions were widely ridiculed by users and pundits alike, largely ignored was the role that recent Congressional laws aimed at cracking down on sex trafficking played in sparking the new policy. Similarly, “anti-hate speech” laws from Europe had very real consequences for American social media users as mechanisms designed to police speech oversees are inevitably used to manage content throughout their global communities.

While tech censorship began with isolated bans on individual social media platforms, it has evolved over time into a far more sinister crackdown of modern-day thought criminals. Alex Jones, for example, saw multiple social media accounts closed in a coordinated campaign earlier this year in what’s been likened to a modern version of Orwell’s “unpersoning.” Increasingly we are seeing financial services platforms, such as PayPal and Patreon, become another particularly effective form of censorship for those found guilty of violating the norms of political correctness.

The traditional libertarian response to these issues is to simply build another platform, but that seems increasingly impotent in the face of the union between Big Tech and state.

Gab, for example, is a product that arose in direct response to increased censorship on Twitter. The app has found itself deplatformed from both major phone app stores, even before user Robert Barnes killed 11 people at a Pennsylvania synagogue earlier this year and heightened law enforcement’s attention to the site. It’s worth noting that Facebook, a prolific donor to America’s political class, did not receive similar treatment when it was used to broadcast torture and murder. Similarly, cryptocurrency exchanges have faced backlash from government officialstraditional financial services companies, and tech companies in their effort to build alternatives to state-controlled financial networks.

Of course the answer to this new era of Big Brother (Sister?) isn’t government regulation, as many on the populist right advocate. The history of government involvement in communication platforms has been one of increased censorship. Instead, the best way to confront the Silicon Valley’s censorship is to recognize the inherently perverse influence of government and pursue a separation of tech and state. For example, attack all forms of state privileges enjoyed by companies that don’t recognize freedom of speech: such as government contracts, and liability waivers. Additionally, allow private citizens to sue when companies violate their terms of service or mislabel themselves as “open platforms.”

Socialism and Political Correctness are a Dangerous Mix

Unfortunately instead of working to depoliticize tech, it’s far more likely that we will see increased politicization of other vital parts of American life – and perhaps none is more dangerous than that applied to healthcare.

While it is easy to mock the economic illiteracy of politicians like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, there is no question that her brand of democratic socialism is growing in popularity – and not just on the left. It’s worth remembering that only a few years ago candidate Donald Trump gave his own endorsement to a healthcare vision similar to that held by AOC and Bernie Sanders.

Consider the troubling potential of a progressive government that drops all pretense of valuing free speech, and then giving that government complete control of the healthcare system.

While this perhaps sounds like the makings of an outlandish dystopian novel, imagine the sort of policies we’ve already seen come from the executive branch. Under the Obama Administration, we saw the use of the IRSDepartment of Homeland Security, and even intelligence agencies to target and punish political opponents. Meanwhile, the progressive left has increasingly identified those who believe the “wrong ideas” – such as skeptics of anthropogenic climate change – as dangerous threats guilty of the crimes equivalent to murder.

In an age where a new generation of doctors increasingly rejects the Hippocratic oath, a government take over of medical care – as the honest advocates of “Medicare for All” propose – could inevitably lead to politicized regulators making life and death decisions for Americans.

Now does this mean I think it’s likely that a President Ocasio-Cortez would instruct a “political death panel” to not provide Alex Jones with life saving treatment? Not necessarily. The issue, however, is that the greater control the state has on medicine, the more decisions are influenced by the concerns of government, rather than the needs of patients. In such a dark timeline, if socialized healthcare forced America to face the sort of medical rationing that Britain’s prized National Health Service has been reduced to, it would be fair to wonder if Gavin McInnes would receive the same sort of treatment as an Ezra Klein.

At the end of the day the more socialist a country is, the greater the danger in opposing the narrative of the state.

As Mises warned in Omnipotent Government:

Within a socialist community there is no room left for freedom…There can be neither freedom of conscience nor of speech where the government has the power to remove any opponent to a climate which is detrimental to his health.

Now obviously the US is far away from such a terrorizing future, and there are far more immediate threats than the specter of political death panels. Can we be so confident about China, with its new social credit system? Or even the UK with the previously mentioned stress placed on its health system, and its own growing political polarization? It’s fair to wonder.

No matter where you are in the world, the danger is the same. Grow the scope of government and expand the weapons of the state that can be deployed against its political enemies.

It’s Big Tech today. Let’s not allow it be healthcare in the future.

Russia Backs Syrian Threat To Answer Israeli Air Attacks “Tit-For-Tat”

Authored by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai MediaSource: Office of the Russian President

Syria will adopt a new rule of engagement with Israel now that Russia has taken a tougher and clearer stance on the conflict between Israel and the “Axis of the Resistance”. Henceforth, Damascus will be responding to any Israeli strike. If it damages a specific military target it will reply with a strike against a similar objective in Israel. Decision makers in Damascus said, “Syria will not hesitate to hit an Israeli airport if Damascus airport is targeted and hit by Israel. This will be with the consent of the Russian military based in the Levant.”

This Syrian political decision is based on the clear position taken by Russia in Syria following the downing of its aircraft on September 18 this year. In 2015 when the Russian military landed in Syria, it informed the parties concerned (i.e. Syria, Iran and Israel) that it had no intention to interfere in the conflict between them and Hezbollah and that it would not stand in the way of Tel Aviv’s planes bombing Hezbollah military convoys on their way to Lebanon or Iranian military warehouses not allocated to the war in Syria.

This was a commitment to remain an onlooker if Israel hit Iranian military objectives or Hezbollah convoys transporting arms to Hezbollah from Syria to Lebanon, within Syrian territory. Russia also informed Israel that it would not accept any attacks on its allies (Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies) engaged in fighting ISIS, al-Qaeda and its allies. Israel respected the will of Moscow until the beginning of 2018, when it started to attack Iranian bases and Syrian military warehouses, though it never attacked a Hezbollah military position. Israel justified its attack against the Iranian base, a military facility called T4, by claiming it had sent drones over Israel.

Tel Aviv considered violation of its neighbors’ sovereignty as its exclusive prerogative. Damascus and Iran have responded with at least one confirmed shooting down of an Israeli F-16. Israel started to attack Syrian warehouses, mainly where Iranian missiles were stored. Iran has replaced every single destroyed warehouse with other more sophisticated precision missiles, capable of hitting any objective in Israel.

However, Russia’s neutrality towards Israel in the Levant turned out to be quite expensive. It has lost more than Iran, especially after the downing of its IL-20, and with it, 15 officers highly trained to use the most advanced communication and espionage systems.

S-300 anti-aircraft defense system, via EPA

Russia then brought to Syria its long-awaited advanced S-300 missiles and delivered them to the Syrian army while maintaining electronic coordination and radar command. The S-300 poses a danger to Israeli jets only if these violate Syrian airspace. Tel Aviv has kept its planes out of Syria since last September but launched long range missiles against a couple of targets.

For many months, the Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Only through real harassment by the latter did Putin finally accept to briefly meet with Netanyahu over lunch or around the dinner table during a large Summit or meeting of Heads of State, without however accepting any compromise or reconciliation. Russia has now taken a clear position and has no intention of extending its embrace or pardon to Israel. Russia felt that its generosity (by closing its eyes to Israel’s activities in Syria) was neither recognized nor sufficiently appreciated by Tel Aviv.

This past week, Moscow agreed to receive an Israeli military delegation led by Major-General Aharon Haliva, following Israel’s insistence on breaking the ice between the two countries. However, Russia’s position is not expected to change in Syria and no Israeli bombing of Syrian or Iranian targets will be tolerated.

According to these sources:

“Russia has informed Israel that there are Russian officers present at every Syrian or Iranian military base and that any strike against Syrian or Iranian objectives would hit Russian forces as well. Putin will not allow his soldiers and officers to be struck down by Israel’s direct or indirect bombing”.

Moreover, Russia has given Syria the green light  said the source  to strike Israel at any time if and when Tel Aviv’s planes launch raids against Syrian military targets or launch long-range missiles without flying over Syria (for fear of the S-300 and to avoid seeing its jets downed over Syria or Lebanon).

The source confirmed that Syria  contrary to what Israel claims  now has the most accurate missiles, which can hit any target inside Israel. The Syrian armed forces have received unrevealed long and medium-range missiles from Iran. These operate on the GLONASS system – the abbreviation for Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, the Russian version of the GPS. Thus, the delivery of Iran and the manufacture of missiles inside Syria (and Lebanon) is now complete.

Israel, however, claims it has destroyed Syria’s missile capability, including that of the missiles delivered by Iran. According to the source, Damascus controls a very large number of precision missiles, notwithstanding those destroyed by Israel. “In Iran, the cheapest and most accessible items are the Sabzi and the missiles”, said the source.

The new Syrian rule of engagement  according to the source  is now as follows: an airport will be hit if Israel hits an airport, and any attack on a barracks or command and control center will result in an attack on similar target in Israel. It appears that the decision has been taken at the highest level and a clear “bank of objectives” has now been set in place.

The rules of engagement are changing and situation in the Levant theatre is becoming more dangerous; regional and international confrontations are still possible. The Middle East will not return to stability unless the Syrian war ends — a war in which the two superpowers, as well as Europe, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have played essential roles. The final chapters have not yet been written.

Erdogan Promises Action Against Kurdish Terrorists In Syria, Pentagon Issues Threats, Terrorists Taunt Turkey

[SEE: Turkey Warns of Impending Anti-Kurd Offensive in North, East of Euphrates–US Stolen Territory]

[ US sends STARK WARNING to Turkey over Syria – ‘Military action in northeast UNACCEPTABLE’ ]

[SDF Spokesperson: Turkey not able to invade the east of the EuphratesKurdish terrorist spokesman, Kino Gabriel, bravely mocks Erdogan’s vow to eradicate them…while hiding safely under America’s skirts.]

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 42nd Mukhtars Meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on December 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:00 P.M.) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went on the offensive against Washington on Wednesday after announcing his forces were preparing to kickoff their new offensive east of the Euphrates.

Erdogan accused the U.S. military of continuously supplying weapons to the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), despite denying that they weren’t giving them heavy arms

“They (the U.S.) said they did not supply heavy weapons when we objected to them arming YPG.
They said they will collect the current arms after the threat of Daesh is eliminated. Who are you deceiving? They are talking about a 150 square-kilometer zone where they (Daesh) are active. If it is about this zone, Turkey is ready to immediately eliminate any Daesh presence in the area,” Erdogan said, as reported by the Daily Sabah.

According to Erdogan, the U.S. has failed to live up to its promises in Manbij, which has forced him to take action east of the Euphrates.

“Although Manbij is made up 80-85 percent of Arabs, there are terror organizations there and they are not being honest. They still can’t remove terrorists from there. Then we will do it,” Erdogan added.

Turkey Warns of Impending Anti-Kurd Offensive in North, East of Euphrates–US Stolen Territory

Syria war: Turkey warns of fresh anti-Kurd offensive in north

Turkish soldiers stand near armoured vehicles as a man waves a Turkish national flag during a demonstration in support of the Turkish army's Idlib operation near the Turkey-Syria border near Reyhanli, Hatay, on 10 October 2017GETTY IMAGES

Turkey will launch a new operation against US-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria “in the next few days”, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

The move, which he said would focus on territory to the east of the Euphrates river, risks confrontation with the US.

America’s support for the Kurdish YPG forces has strained relations with Turkey, which considers the YPG to be part of a terrorist group.

Turkey has launched two offensives against the Kurds in Syria since 2016.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) currently controls large swathes of the north-east of Syria on Turkey’s southern border.

What did President Erdogan say?

“We will start the operation to clear the east of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a few days,” Mr Erdogan said on a televised speech on Wednesday, referring to territory held by the YPG.

He did not specify which areas would be targeted, but it would be the first time Turkish troops have moved east of the river.

Map showing control of territory across Syria
Presentational white space

“Our target is never US soldiers,” he added. There are some 2,000 US troops currently in Syria, many of them stationed in the north.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

Mr Erdogan wants to prevent the Kurds from consolidating their hold on Syrian territory and forming an autonomous region on the border.

What’s the context?

US soldiers have been working closely with Kurdish forces who form part of an alliance – the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group. Turkey has long criticised this US policy.

Tensions between the two sides have risen in recent weeks. Turkey says it is frustrated over what it sees as delays to a deal agreed with the US to clear a flashpoint city in the north of Kurdish fighters.

The deal over Manbij, which lies to the west of the Euphrates river, was agreed in February in a bid stabilise the region.

Why is Turkey attacking Syria? Mark Lowen explains

And on Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it had erected observation posts in the northern border region aimed at preventing clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish fighters.

Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has called on the US to scrap the move and end its co-operation with the YPG.

In late October, Turkey shelled Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria, forcing the SDF to briefly suspend its operations against IS.

What has Turkey already done in Syria?

Turkey has launched two major offensives in recent years in northern Syria. Both took place west of the Euphrates river.

The first – dubbed Euphrates Shield – began in the summer of 2016 and was an eight-month operation targeting IS and Kurdish forces that ended in March 2017.

Earlier this year they launched a second military operation – Olive Branch – against Kurdish militia in Afrin province. It lasted two months and the city was eventually cleared of the Kurds.

However Turkish forces have until now avoided direct confrontation with Kurdish fighters and their US backers located on the east of the Euphrates river.

Pentagon Denies Resurgence of ISIS In US-Occupied Syrian Areas, Even Though Kurdish Allies Allegedly Killing 600/month

[More than 600 killed in fighting in eastern Syria: Observatory]

U.S. Downplays Reports of Surge in ISIS Activity

Reports of a rise in attacks claimed by the Islamic State group contrast with the latest appraisal by the U.S.-led coalition.

By Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security Writer
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) watches as a US-led coalition Chinook helicopter flies by in the town of Shadadi, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakeh, on September 11, 2018. - The US-backed SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched on September 10 an assault against a dwindling pocket of territory held by the Islamic State group in the town of Hajin in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces watches as a U.S.-led coalition helicopter flies by in the town of Shadadi, Syria in September.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

THE U.S. MILITARY IS downplaying suggestions that the Islamic State group is on the rise in Iraq amid reports in recent days of continuing and even increased hostilities by the extremist network.

Attacks by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, have risen to as many as 75 per month on average, up from 60 per month in recent years, according to recent reports. The group still holds control of a small swathe of territory in the Syrian town of Hajin, which remains under siege by U.S.-backed forces there known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The New York Times reported Sunday that some Kurdish positions in Syria were digging trenches in anticipation of an Islamic State group resurgence after a U.S.-led operation cleared out its fighters.

However, Army Col. Jonathan Byrom, deputy director of Joint Operations Command, told reporters from his headquarters in Iraq on Tuesday that security there remains stable.

“Many attacks are going on, but they are not having a significant impact on the security situation,” Byrom said. “It really is a good news story.”

Byrom cited the U.S.-led coalition’s work to rebuild the Iraqi military and police forces after they were decimated by the Islamic State group’s initial onslaught in 2014 and the complex effort since then to unite at-times warring factions like Iran-backed militias and Kurdish units toward a common enemy.

Globally, Terrorism Deaths Are on the Decline

He declined to confirm some estimates that place the total number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria as high as 30,000 or to provide the U.S. assessment. He said only that the remaining fighters exist largely in “austere” environments, mostly in underground tunnels and in caves.

When asked about what changes might need to take place, Byrom said, “It’s going to take the [Iraqi security forces] doing exactly what they are doing.”

Others do not share the same optimism about the fight to rid Iraq of Islamic extremists and to prepare local security forces that can withstand the kind of disruptive insurgency the world witnessed in 2014. Rampant corruption among government officials and political divisions have eroded stability in the day-to-day lives of many Iraqis, leaving the idea of joining the Islamic State group as viable, according to a recent analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“While many U.S. policymakers and Iraqi politicians have been quick to declare victory against the Islamic State, there are several indicators that suggest the Islamic State remains a persistent threat, and is refocusing its tactics and attacks against government targets,” Maxwell Markusen, associate fellow with the Transnational Threats Project at CSIS, wrote in the analysis.

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security Writer

Pentagon Conveniently “Accidentally” Refueled Saudi Jets Over Yemen for Free

Pentagon Accidentally Refueled Saudi Jets Over Yemen for Free

Millions of dollars have likely been drained from US coffers to support the Saudi-campaign, according to the report.


Though Washington “believed” Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates “had been charged for the fuel and refueling services, they in fact had not been charged adequately,” wrote William S. Castle, principal deputy general counsel at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in a November 27 letter obtained by The Atlantic.

In the letter, one of the Pentagon’s top attorneys acknowledges that free refueling services for the Saudi coalition cost more money than he could calculate. While one might think that someone at the 3 million-person organization that is the Pentagon would know exactly how much the US is owed, Castle said in the letter that the department is “currently calculating the correct charges.” The Pentagon reached its conclusion following an inquiry sent by Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island who sits as the second most powerful member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Tens of millions of dollars is probably a decent estimate of how much US taxpayers have contributed to the Saudi campaign, according to The Atlantic.

A spokesperson from the Pentagon confirmed the letter’s contents and its authenticity to the publication late last week.

“Although DoD has received some reimbursement for inflight refueling assistance provided to the Saudi-led coalition (SLC), US Central Command recently reviewed its records and found errors in accounting where DoD failed to charge the SLC adequately for fuel and refueling services,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, speaking to The Atlantic.

A spokesperson for CENTCOM specifically said the command was “still working through the calculation” of how much the Saudi coalition has paid for the refueling services and jet fuel.

In other military finance news, the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit last month, as accountants found myriad discrepancies in the department’s books that may take years to reconcile. “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

Trump Chooses A World Divided Over A Shared Planet…If He Cannot Rule the World

[There will never be world peace until governments stop planning for war and world domination.]

[This makes it perfectly clear that Trump, like all previous Imperialist presidents before him, WANTS a divided world, if he cannot overcome all national and international opposition to his divisive commands.  Trump is doing his best to fight a total economic war upon the rest of the world, since we have exposed our hand militarily, revealing our total inability to dominate everybody, everywhere by force of arms.  In economic warfare, the entire world can be neatly divided technologically by small steps, or limited measures, such as strong-arming the world into blocking out Chinese 5G technology.  Apparently, 5G is the next level stuff that powers all “smart” technology, autonomous operations, self-driving vehicles, and other A.I.-related gizmos.  In the same ways that Trump “held a gun to Iraq’s head”, to force Iraq to give all electrical-related rebuilding contracts to the moribund General Electric Corp, instead of German-based Siemens (SEE: Donald Trump Strong-Armed Baghdad To Give Contract To Rebuild Iraqi Electric System To Bankrupt General Electric over Siemens). Trump is holding many guns to the heads of many American allies on this 5G matter.  Apparently, Trump is holding a very big gun to the head of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau (SEE: Chinese executive facing US extradition appears in court)]


Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou

US has a ‘concerted strategy’ to push allies to reject Huawei’s 5G equipment: Eurasia Group

  • The United States has a “concerted strategy” to pressure its allies to shun Chinese tech giant Huawei’s 5G network equipment, Eurasia Group analyst Kevin Allison says.
  • U.S. allies, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Japan, are keeping Huawei out.
  • 5G technology will “set the tone for the rest of the 21st century,” according to Allison.


Miquel Benitez | Getty Images

The United States is pushing its allies to shut out Chinese tech giant Huawei’s 5G networks due to national security concerns as the high-speed technology is set to play a critical role in the 21st century, a Eurasia Group expert said Tuesday.

Japan, Washington’s close ally, will reportedly stop buying Huawei and ZTE network equipment for government offices and its military forces. Huawei has also been excluded from providing technology for the core 5G network that’s being developed by U.K. telecoms firm BT.

Australia and New Zealand have also banned Huawei from participating in building their 5G networks — the next generation of mobile technology expected to revolutionize the interaction of internet-connected devices and appliances.

“This is part of a concerted strategy on the part of the United States to pressure allies, western countries and other like-minded allies not to include Chinese 5G equipment in their next generation networks,” Kevin Allison, director of geo-technology at risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Allison said that 5G technology is a “geopolitically consequential network upgrade” that represents a new level of innovation with major implications for a number of sectors including driverless vehicles, smart cities, advanced factories and artificial intelligence.

Such technologies “are really going to set the tone for the rest of the 21st century,” he said, citing intense competition in areas such as the race for faster economic growth and stronger militaries.

The U.S. approach to box in Huawei is also a factor in its broader conflict with China over trade, Allison said.

Complicating the tariff conflict is Canada’s arrest on Dec. 1 of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, for alleged violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. The U.S. is seeking her extradition and hearings are ongoing in Vancouver.

‘Strictly complies’

China has strongly criticized the treatment of Meng and summoned the ambassadors of both Canada and the U.S. to complain.

Huawei, in a letter to its suppliers released late Thursday, said that it “strictly complies with all applicable laws and regulations in our global business operations” and added it “is not aware of any wrongdoing (by Meng).”

Allison predicted that the U.S. effort will result in “a split between a 5G network that is built with Chinese technology in some countries, and networks that are built to be free of Chinese technology in other countries.”

That echoes the view of former Google top executive Eric Schmidt who said earlier this year that within the next decade there will be two separate internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China.

“Certainly there’s no more important role for a government than to look after national security but it’s also important to pursue these commercial issues in the context of a rules based environment.”-Josh Kallmer, Information Technology Industry Council

Key vendors in the 5G network business besides Huawei and fellow Chinese company ZTE include Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia, South Korea’s Samsung, Japan’s NEC and Fujitsu, as well as IntelQualcomm and Cisco of the United States, according to a Eurasia Group report in November.

Huawei arrest hurst

Huawei arrest hurts ‘mutual trust’ needed for trade deal, says expert Josh Kallmer, executive vice president for policy at the Information Technology Industry Council, expressed hope for a system of rules whereby questions of security and competition can be balanced.

“Certainly there’s no more important role for a government than to look after national security but it’s also important to pursue these commercial issues in the context of a rules based environment,” Kallmer told CNBC.

“We’re confident that if both China and the United States and other markets commit to that, then companies will be able to compete on the merits that everybody will have a fair shake at succeeding — and that’s the outcome we should all prefer,” he said.

The Myth of What’s Driving the Opioid Crisis

#OpioidCrisis Pain Related SUICIDES associated with forced tapers–Thomas Kline, MD, PhD  (SEE BOTTOM OF PAGE)


The civil war over prescription opioids

As doctors taper or end opioid prescriptions, many patients driven to despair, suicide

Oxycodone pain pills are pictured. | Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

The Myth of What’s Driving the Opioid Crisis

Doctor-prescribed painkillers are not the biggest threat.

As an addiction psychiatrist, I have watched with serious concern as the opioid crisis has escalated in the United States over the past several years, and overdose deaths have skyrocketed. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show fatalities spiraling up to about 42,000 in 2016, almost double the casualties in 2010 and more than five times the 1999 figures.The White House Council of Economic Advisers

recently estimated that the opioid crisis cost the nation half a trillion dollars in 2015, based on deaths, criminal justice expenses and productivity losses. Meanwhile, foster care systems are overflowing with children whose parents can’t care for them, coroners’ offices are overwhelmed with bodies and ambulance services are straining small-town budgets.American carnage, indeed.

I have also watched a false narrative about this crisis blossom into conventional wisdom: The myth that the epidemic is driven by patients becoming addicted to doctor-prescribed opioids, or painkillers like hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and oxycodone (e.g., Percocet). One oft-quoted physician refers to opioid medication as “heroin pills.” This myth is now a media staple and a plank in nationwide litigationagainst drugmakers. It has also prompted legislation, introduced last spring by Senators John McCain and Kirsten Gillibrand—the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, which would impose prescriber limits because, as a news release stated, “Opioid addiction and abuse is commonly happening to those being treated for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction.”

But this narrative misconstrues the facts. The number of prescription opioids in circulation in the United States did increase markedly from the mid-1990s to 2011, and some people became addicted through those prescriptions. But I have studied multiple surveys and reviews of the data, which show that only a minority of people who are prescribed opioids for pain become addicted to them, and those who do become addicted and who die from painkiller overdoses tend to obtain these medications from sources other than their own physicians. Within the past several years, overdose deaths are overwhelmingly attributable not to prescription opioids but to illicit fentanyl and heroin. These “street opioids”have become the engine of the opioid crisis in its current, most lethal form.

If we are to devise sound solutions to this overdose epidemic, we must understand and acknowledge this truth about its nature.

For starters, among people who are prescribed opioids by doctors, the rate of addiction is low.According to a 2016 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 87.1 million U.S. adults used a prescription opioid—whether prescribed directly by a physician or obtained illegally—sometime during the previous year. Only 1.6 million of them, or about 2 percent, developed a “pain reliever use disorder,” which includes behaviors ranging from overuse to overt addiction. Among patients with intractable, noncancer pain—for example, neurological disorders or musculoskeletal or inflammatory conditions—a review of international medical research by the Cochrane Library, a highly regarded database of systemic clinical reviews, found that treatment with long-term, high-dose opioids produced addiction rates of less than 1 percent. Another team found that abuse and addiction rates within 18 months after the start of treatment ranged from 0.12 percent to 6.1 percent in a database of half a million patients.A 2016 report in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that in multiple published studies, rates of “carefully diagnosed” addiction to opioid medication averaged less than 8 percent. In a study several years ago, a research teampurposely excluded chronic-pain patients with prior drug abuse and addiction from their data, and found that only 0.19 percent of the patients developed abuse and addiction to opioids.

Indeed, when patients do become addicted during the course of pain treatment with prescribed opioids, often they simultaneously face other medical problems such as depression, anxiety, other mental health conditions, or current or prior problems with drugs or alcohol.According to SAMHSA’s 2014National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than three-fourths of those who misuse pain medication already had used other drugs, including benzodiazepines and inhalants, before they ever misused painkillers. And according to CDC data, at least half of all prescription opioid-related deaths are associated with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, alcohol and cocaine; combinations that are often deadlier than the component drugs on their own. The physical and mental health issues that drive people to become addicted to drugs in the first place are very much part of America’s opioid crisis and should not be discounted, but it is important to acknowledge the influence of other medical problems and other drugs.

Just because opioids in the medical context don’t produce high rates of addiction doesn’t mean doctors aren’t overprescribing and doing serious harm. The amount of opioids prescribed per person in 2016, though a bit lower than the previous year, was still considered high by the CDC—more than three times the amount of opioids dispensed in 1999. Some doctors routinely give a month’s supply of opioids for short-term discomfort when only a few days’ worth or even none at all is needed. Research suggests that patients given post-operation opioids don’t end up needing to use most of their prescribed dose.

Among people who misused prescription pain relievers in 2013 and 2014, only 22 percent said they received the drugs from their doctor.

In turn, millions of unused pills end up being scavenged from medicine chests, sold or given away by patients themselves, accumulated by dealers and then sold to new users for about $1 per milligram.As more prescribed pills are diverted, opportunities arise for nonpatients to obtain them, abuse them, get addicted to them and die. According to SAMHSA, among people who misused prescription pain relievers in 2013 and 2014, about half said that they obtained those pain relievers from a friend or relative, while only 22 percent said they received the drugs from theirdoctor. The rest either stole or bought pills from someone they knew, bought from a dealer or “doctor-shopped” (i.e., obtained multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors). So diversion is a serious problem, and most people who abuse or become addicted to opioid pain relievers are not the unwitting pain patients to whom they were prescribed.

It’s not turning out that way. While the volume of prescriptions has trended down since 2011, total opioid-related deaths have risen. The drivers for the past few years are heroin and, mostly, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times as potent as heroin. Fentanyl has legitimate medical use, but there is also illicit fentanyl, trafficked mostly from China, often via the Dark Web. Fentanyl and heroin (which itself is usually tainted to some extent with the fentanyl) together were present in more than two-thirds of all opioid-related deaths in 2016, according to CDC data. Painkillers were present in a little more than one-thirdof opioid-related deaths, but a third of those painkiller deaths also included heroin or fentanyl. While deaths from prescription opioids have basically leveled off, when you look at deaths in which prescription opioids plus heroin and fentanyl were present, then the recorded deaths attributed to prescription opioids continue to climb, too. (An especially pernicious element in the mix is counterfeiters with pill presses who sell illicit fentanyl in pill form deceptively labeled as OxyContin and other opioid pain relievers or benzodiazepines.)

Painkillers were present in a little more than one-third of opioid-related deaths in 2016.

Notably, more current heroin users these days seem to be initiating their opioid trajectory with heroin itself—an estimated 33 percent as of 2015—rather than with opioid painkillers. In the first decade of the 2000s, about 75 to 80 percent of heroin users started using opioids with pills (though not necessarily pain medication prescribed by a doctor for that particular person). It seems that, far more than prescribed opioids, the unpredictability of heroin and the turbocharged lethality of fentanyl have been a prescription for an overdose disaster.

Intense efforts to curb prescribing are underway. Pharmacy benefit managers, such as CVSinsurers and health care systems have set limits or reduction goals. State-based prescription drug monitoring programs help doctors and pharmacists identify patients who doctor-shop, ER hop or commit insurance fraud. As of July, 23 states had enacted legislation with some type of limit, guidance or requirement related to opioid prescribing. McCain and Gillibrand’s federal initiative goes even further, to impose a blanket ban on refills of the seven-day allotment for acute pain. And watchdog entities such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance have endorsed a system that compares the number of patients receiving over a certain dose of opioids with the performance rating for a physician.

A climate of precaution is appropriate, but not if it becomes so chilly that doctors fear prescribing. This summer, a 66-year-old retired orthopedic surgeon who practiced in Northern California—I’ll call her Dr. R—contacted me. For more than 30 years, she had been on methadone, a legitimate opioid pain medication, for an excruciating inflammatory bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. With the methadone, she could function as a surgeon. “It gave me a life. I would not be here today without it,” she told me. But one day in July, her doctor said the methadone had to stop. “She seemed to be worried that she was doing something illegal,” Dr. R told me.

Dr. R was fortunate. She found another doctor to prescribe methadone. But her experience of nonconsensual withdrawal of opioids is not isolated. Last year, the nonprofit Pain News Network conducted an online surveyamong 3,100 chronic pain patients who had found relief with opioids and had discussed this in online forums. While not necessarily a representative sample of all individuals with chronic pain who are on opioids, the survey was informative: 71 percent of respondents said they are no longer prescribed opioid medication by a doctor or are getting a lower dose; 8 out of 10 said their pain and quality of life are worse; and more than 40 percent said they considered suicide as a way to end their pain. The survey was purposely conducted a few months after the CDC released guidelinesthat many doctors, as well as insurance carriers and state legislatures, have erroneously interpreted as a government mandate to discontinue opioids. In other accounts, patients complain of being interrogated by pharmacists about their doses; sometimes they are even turned away.

The most tragic consequence is suicide. Thomas F. Kline, an internist in Raleigh, North Carolina, has chronicled 23 of them. His count is surely a harbinger of further patient abandonment to come. Meanwhile, so-called pain refugeeschronic pain patients whose doctors have dropped them—search out physicians to treat them, sometimes traveling more than a hundred miles or relocating. And in a recent Medscape survey, half the doctors who were polled expressed fear of violent reactions if patients were refused the prescription.

Most lives do not come undone, let alone end in overdose, after analgesia for a broken leg or a trip to the dentist.

Still, given that diverted pills, not prescribed medication taken by patients for pain, are the greater culprit, we cannot rely on doctors or pill control policies alone to be able to fix the opioid crisis. What we need is a demand-side policy. Interventions that seek to reduce the desire to use drugs, be they painkillers or illicit opioids, deserve vastly more political will and federal funding than they have received. Two of the most necessary steps, in my view, are making better use of anti-addiction medications and building a better addiction treatment infrastructure.

Methadone and buprenorphine are opioid medications for treating addiction that can be prescribed by doctors as a way to wean patients off opioids or to maintain them stably. These medications have been shown to reduce deaths from all causes, including overdose. A third medication, naltrexone, blocks opioids’ effect on the brain, and prevents a patient who tries heroin again from experiencing any effects.In 2016, however, only 41.2 percent of the nation’s treatment facilities offered at least one form of medication, and 2.7 percent offered all three medications, according to a recent review of a national directory published by SAMHSA. We must move beyond the outmoded thinking and inertia that keep clinics from offering these medications.

Motivated patients also benefit greatly from cognitive behavioral therapy and from the hard work of recovery—healing family rifts, reintegrating into the workforce, creating healthy social connections, finding new modes of fulfillment. This is why treatment centers that offer an array of services, including medical care, family counseling and social services, have a better shot at promoting recovery. That treatment infrastructure must be fortified. The Excellence in Mental Health Act of 2014, a Medicaid-funded project, established more robust health centers in eight states. In 2017, House and Senate bills were introduced to expand the project to 11 more. It’s a promising effort that could be a path to public or private insurance-based community services and an opportunity to set much-needed national practice standards.

As we sort through and further pursue these policies, we need to make good use of what we know about the role that prescription opioids plays in the larger crisis: that the dominant narrative about pain treatment being a major pathway to addiction is wrong, and that an agenda heavily weighted toward pill control is not enough.

#OpioidCrisis Pain Related SUICIDES associated with forced tapers

Thomas Kline, MD, PhD


Phillip Kuykendall from Statesville, North Carolina was a 63 year old man, an active member of society and hobbyist whose doctor refused to prescribe medication for his pain disease. After a stay in a hospital near Statesville where he went to have his pain disease assessed, he was discharged with no pain medicine. His brother, who was involved with helping him obtain pain control, went to Phillip’s home on December 29, 2016 and found Phillip dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his head. “He took the last, and only, relief he thought he had left,” said a person familiar with the situation.

Link to obituary:


Allison Kimberly, age 30, of Colorado was denied treatment for her intractable pain from interstitial cystitis and several other painful conditions. Interstitial cystitis can end in suicide from the failure to treat it properly as it is an extreme form of agonizing discomfort. It is said that the University of Colorado emergency room in Aurora refused her treatment for her pain.


Allison posted on Instagram describing how she was treated as an addict and sent away without pain medicine. “I was rushed to the ER because my pain was so out of control I couldn’t take it anymore, I got ZERO help. After 7 hours I was discharged. The nurse has the nerve to say that my kind of pain shouldn’t be that bad and basically I was faking for medication. I am so beside myself I am shaking as I type this. Screaming and begging in pain, needing any kind of help they’d give me and I was just sent home. As soon as I am able I’m reporting my whole experience.” Allison did not have time to file a complaint against the hospital as she violently ended her life while her mother walked her dog, the animal companion that had made her anguish less lonely. No doctors appear to have been charged. The Colorado Hospital Association was in the process of piloting a no-opioid policy for the state. She died in June, 2017.

Link to obituary:


Ryan Trunzo of Massachusetts committed suicide at the age of 26. He was an army veteran of Iraq. He had experienced fractures in his back for which he tried to get effective painkillers, but failed because of the VA’s policy of denying or reducing needed pain medication. His mother stated: “I feel like the VA took my son’s life.” Link to obituary:,-ryan-j

4.Kevin Keller, a Navy veteran from the USS Independence in the 1980’s was from Virginia. He took his own life at age 52. He shot himself after breaking into the house of his friend, Marty Austin, to take his gun. Austin found a letter left by Keller saying “Marty sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain!” Keller had experienced a stroke 11 years earlier, and he had worsening pain in the last two years of his life because VA doctors would not give him pain medicine. On the subject of pain medication, Austin said that Keller “was not addicted. He needed it.” The suicide occurred one year after the VA announced the “Opioid Safety Initiative” to stop pain medicines for US veterans, like Kevin Keller. The VA would not comment.

Link to story:


Mercedes McGuire of Indiana ended her life August 4th, 2017 after struggling with agony originally suppressed with opioid pain medicine but reappearing after her pain medicine was cut back in a fashion after the CDC regulations. She was in such discomfort she went to the ER because she could not stand the intractable pain by “learning to live with it” as suggested by CDC consultants. The ER gave her a small prescription. She went to the pharmacy where they refused to fill it “because she had a pain contract.” She went home and killed herself. She was a young mother with a 4 year old son, Bentley.

Link to obituary:


Bob Mason, age 67 of Helena, Montana was denied pain medicine to treat his chronic pain after losing access to his pain control doctor and finding no one else, took his own life in January of 2016. He tried to “deal with his pain” as is recommended by the new pain minimizer CDC consultants. He tried for 7 days to deal with it.

Bob Mason

According to Mason’s daughter, Mieska, the last couple weeks up before Bob passed away, there were a lot of tears everyday on the phone,” she said, “between the pain and really just the sadness of not being able to walk his dog, but, I’m sure it was more than that. There would be tears, then he would joke,” she said, “then he’d call back an hour later and be teary and in pain again. He didn’t like the drugs, but there were no other options.” His suicide became the other option.


Zach Williams of Minnesota died by his own hand at age 35. He was an army veteran of Iraq and had experienced back pain and a brain injury in battle. He had successfully treated his pain with opiate pain medicine until the VA began reducing prescriptions under the new VA law, December 2015, based on CDC recommendations of reducing or stopping pain medicine to avoid addiction.

Link to the obituary:


Jessica was a “pain warrior”, loved by a group of people with similar issues dealing with intractable pain after forcibly reducing her pain medicines as suggested by the contagious disease specialists at CDC encouraging doctors to reduce “opioids” for fear people might addict or die from an overdose. Jessica had particularly painful central pain syndrome that is untreatable except for pain suppression. She would never have addicted as she was already on pain medicine. She ended her life after inadequate treatment by physicians (other details withheld).


A Cleveland, Ohio resident (name withheld), mother of a teenage daughter, and wife was denied her long term pain medicine reportedly by doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. She had a spinal electrical stimulator implanted, at great cost and discomfort in order to satisfy CDC’s dictum of “alternative” treatment first even if more expensive, painful and less effective. It did little to help. What worked was long term opiate medicine which was successful in the past without side effects or addiction. Her medicine was reduced for no other reason other than honoring CDC “voluntary” directives. She waited for her husband to be out of town and her daughter to with a friend, then took her life to stop the intractable pain in August of 2016.


Donald Alan Beyer, living in Idaho, had experienced back pain for years. He suffered from a job-related injury resulting in a broken back. After his doctor retired, Beyer struggled without pain medicine for months. He tried his best using other methods, nothing worked except the opiate pain medicine he had been taking long term. . He shot himself on his 47th birthday. His son said he before his death he could not get out of bed to make it to the bathroom. He was a logger and the painkillers allowed him to function. Physicians refused treat him. He had two small grandsons. No doctors were charged as complicit.

Link to obituary:


Denny Peck of Washington State was 58 when he ended his life. In 1990, he experienced a severe injury to his vertebrae during a boating accident. His mother, Lorraine Peck, said “he had been in severe pain ever since,” and his daughter, Amanda Peck, said she didn’t remember a time when her dad didn’t hurt. During the last few years of his life, Peck had received opiates for his pain from a Seattle Pain Center, until these clinics closed after DEA raids. Seattle, the University of Washington Pain Doctors, the State nor the Federal Government and the DEa made made provision for the continuation of care for the estimated 12,000 patients. After suffering and unable to find doctors who would help with his pain, Peck called 911. Becoming a pariah, like many other former patients of any DEA closed clinic, Denny could find no one to continue the previously successful pain treatment. Two days after asking for help at the ER and not getting any, Peck was found dead in his home from a handgun. A note found near Peck read: “Can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t do anything. And all the whitecoats don’t care at all.”

Link to news story:


Doug Hale of Vermont killed himself at the age of 53. He had experienced pain from interstitial cystitis, and decided to end his life six weeks after his doctor suddenly cut off his opiate painkillers. He left a note reading “Can’t take the chronic pain anymore” before he shot himself. His doctor said he was no longer willing to risk his license by writing him another “script for Opioids”.

Doug Hale, wife and daughter

Ms. Hale can be contacted and is going public with her husband’s suicide as a direct result of forcibly without consent, refusing effective pain treatment. His widow feels long term pain patients like Doug are examples of horrible decisions people have to make weighing the options of not being able to function or “resting in peace” all for the fear pain medicines will cause addiction. Doug was not addicted so it made no sense to stop his life giving pain disease medicine, according to Ms. Hale. Doug left his daughter Nicole, 5 younger siblings and their children plus an ‘honorary’ 4 year old grandchild who is still looking for “Grampy”. Doug waited until his family was away so they would not have to watch and relieved his untreated pain with a handgun on 10–10–16.

Link to obituary:

Link to news story:


Travis Patterson, a Texan, a decorated Staff Sergeant in the Army, combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was injured by a road side mine, and discharged from the army in 2016. He was in daily severe pain. He could not get pain treatment, and tried to commit suicide and was admitted to a Topeka Kansas VA hospital by his 26 year old wife. The VA refused to treat his war wounds with pain medicine and offered instead a stress ball. Two days later he made sure of his own method for treating his intractable pain by killing himself. He had a future with his wife and studying law but it did not matter. He showed no signs of mental illness, just the stress of failure to treat his underlying war injuries with long term daily pain. One other veteran remarked the US Government was finding other ways to “kill us”.

Additional information: Travis was denied pain medication for this combat wounds by the VA by law passed without knowledge of most 12–15, deep in a 2000 page budget bill. It is now federal law to forcibly taper wounded veterans with intractable pain to “prevent addiction and heroin overdoses” Traviswas a Texas native).

Travis Paterson and his widow

Link to news story:


54-year-old Bryan Spece of Montana killed himself two weeks after he experienced a major reduction in his pain medication. The CDC recommends a slow reduction in pain medicine, such as a 10% decrease per week, but it was not followed. There was no medical reason to stop the medicine as it was working well. Based on information from his relative, his dose was quickly and severely reduced without his permission, “forcibly if necessary” as one CDC team member later recommended. He died over a concern of addiction which had not happened. His relative felt he should have not been reduced at all as no medical reason was given by the doctor.

Link to news article:


In Waldport, a small town in coastal Oregon, Sonja Mae Jonsson, 42, previously vigorous camper and hiker in the Oregon mountains sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2006 leaving her with pain she describe as an “axe in the back of my head”, She was controlled with pain medication. She was cut off from her pain medicines according to CDC negative portrayal of opioid pain medicine. After her pain medicine was stopped without her permission she had a return of around the clock intractable pain levels previously lessened with opiates. Her now untreated pain was so severe that “even though I don’t want to end my life”, she did — recently.

Link to news story:


United States veterans have been committing suicide after being unable to receive medicine for pain. These veterans include Peter Kaisen and Daniel Somers according to a reliable ex-naval medical officer. Their cases are being investigated but their records are on file with DoD/VA.


Sherri Little was 53 when she committed suicide. She was a Californian andrequested her story be told. She related how she had lost her adult friendships, as many do, with her constant painful diseases: occipital neuralgia and Fibromyalgia. A friend described Little as having a “shining soul of activism” as she spent time advocating for other chronic pain sufferers. However, Little had other struggles in her life, such as her feeling that her pain kept her from forming meaningful relationships. In her final days, Little she tried to get medical help from a hospital. When she was unable to receive pain medicine Little ended her life in July of 2016.

Sherri Little (left)

Link to news story:


Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle of North Carolina shot himself at age 71. He suffered from long-term pain. Although he went through several medical tests to determine the cause of his pain, the results could not provide relief. After Trickle’s suicide, his brother stated that Dick “must have just decided the pain was too high, because he would have never done it for any other reason.”

Link to news story:


In August 2017, a couple planned a mutual suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning after being cut off from both their pain medicines in Flagler County.Florida. Katherine Goddard died after being found by her daughter. Her boyfriend, Bruce Haughton was found in the same car with his now deceased girlfriend. Haughton was barely alive. He was arrested for assisting in a suicide, and held without bond. The Flagler County Sheriff said assisting in a suicide was illegal. Doctors whom refused treatment both people apparently have not been charged or sanctioned.

Link to news story:


40 year old woman E.C. from Visalia, California had lupus and painful joints to the point of “barely being able to stand”. She could only go to urgent care centers since she had no health coverage. They only would provide the lowest dose pain medicine. She pulled away from her friends after suffering on inadequate doses of pain medicine. She had talked about “quitting her life” as a solution. She knew she would never have a husband since the pain immobilized her all day. She had no children and lived with her parents who did not believe in her intractable pain. Without pain relief she was trapped. Finally one day, alone, “She left. She just left,” in the words of her friend.


58 year old navy veteranJay Lawrence of Tennessee had chronic pain following an accident, a common cause of intractable pain. He had surgeries, he tried epidural steroids, nerve blocks, and a spinal cord stimulator as “alternative treatments” to avoid pain medicine, a plan recommended by the contagious disease specialists at CDC. These all failed leaving the opioid pain medicine as the next step which was done. But the Comprehensive Pain Management Clinic decided to reduce the dosage without medical reason apparently afraid of the DEA’s raids and CDC rules. His pain became nearly continuous with the low doses. When asked to restore the previous level of medicine his doctor at the Clinic said “my license is not worth my patient’s quality of life”.

Jay was disabled to the degree that he was award SS disability status, but this made no difference in his pain treatment. His wife wrote his story on Pain News Network, describing Jay’s pain: “A bad day was awful for me to watch, and absolutely horrible for Jay to live.” In the end, as his wife, she assisted in the plan to end the pain once and for all. After his death his wife was charged under the state assisted suicide law. Meredith Lawrence is currently on probation for a reduced charge of reckless endangerment. Neither the Clinic nor the doctor has been charged. Meredith after much soul searching has decided to go public with how the government bullied Jay’s doctor into doing something unethical.

Link to news story:

Link to obituary:


Bruce Graham, a father of three, fell from a ladder two years before his death. He broke several bones, and was in a coma for two weeks. As his relative said later in retrospect: It is unfortunate he awoke from his coma as he, for all intents and purposes, ended his life with the fall. Modern medicine was able to keep him alive through his coma, and helped with effective opiates for the recovery time in the hospital but multiple doctors were unable or unwilling to help him deal the excruciating pain every day over the next two years even with knowledge they worked well without side effects. Doctors dismissed his pain (actually post op adhesions) as psychosomatic. He was seen as an “addict” trying to “score” and treated without compassion or dignity. In January, he tried for the last time to obtain pain medicine that worked so well 18 months before. He chose to shoot himself in the chest explained to a friend weeks before. Even though a brain bullet is more “efficient” he did not want his family to “experience the trauma-inducing mess of shooting himself in the head” In January 2017, he relieved his pain, permanently, with a gunshot wound to the heart. No prescriptions for pain medicines were found.

His autopsy showed the adhesions and the spinal column disease responsible for his intractable pain. “May Bruce Graham rest in peace, but some of us will not live in peace until physicians’ attitudes and the laws change” said the teller of this story.

Editor: it is common after multiple trauma to have lifelong pain emanating from various areas, and expanding into the whole body if not treated.


Debra Bales, age 52, went to a motel in Petaluma, California, for three days with the intention of compassionately ending her life together. Debra suffered chronic pain and was taken off her pain medicines “some time ago”. They tried three times in motel and failed to cut off her breathing. They were working alone. The newspaper speculated she was in withdrawal. Together they ended her misery outside of the motel in a nearby tree, as she wished. Her husband was arrested.

Editor: Living with constant pain is unimaginable. The love that it takes to help a spouse end their intractable pain… . Debra was a pain patient not an addict. Less than 1% of the population will develop addiction disease (4/1000) exposed to high doses of opiates, including heroin. It is genetic.

Link to News Story:


Kellie Bernson, a resident of Grand Junction, Colorado had a long history of multiple medical problems including a stroke and trigeminal neuralgia. Her death was reported on the many Facebook pages dealing with refused treatment for intractable pain in the United States for fear of causing addiction and “getting in trouble”. The face book report: “Kellie was a good friend to many of us in the pain community and she will be dearly missed. She has crossed over the “rainbow bridge” now. She is finally in no pain”.

Members of the ATIP group of advocates for pain patients tried desperately to get help for her in Colorado, but failed. She committed suicide December 11, 2017, a 59 year old widow and mother, in her home town of Grand Junction.


Ed: it is an important commentary there is a “community of pain patients”


Michelle Bloem was a person who could not absorb pain medicines for her intractable pain from her Central Pain Syndrome triggered after trauma where pain and swelling move from the original injury site to various other areas of the body and with it pain so severe that it requires long term treatment. It is a frequent and known “suicide disease.” Dr. Forrest Tennant, the leading expert in difficult to treat pain patients, discovered her inherited inability to absorb oral pain medications, but meaning she could absorb injections of pain medicine. It worked as she said: “I experienced instant relief and received my quality of life back. I have taken this for two years with relief and no side effects”

The medication was not covered by her insurance and was too expensive. On January 29, 2017, Michelle Bloem killed herself. The concerns she would become addicted to her pain medicine were unfounded. She was young. She had a husband. She had no mental illness, just intractable pain.

Michelle’s Obituary:


Jennifer Adams of Helena, Montana was 41 when she ended her own life by gunshot. She was a deputy sheriff, avid athlete, and mother of an 11-year-old son. Jennifer suffered from reflex sympathetic disease and arachnoiditis both incurable diseases. Her doctor, Dr. Mark Ibsen, told her to use opioids for her pain, despite the fact that “her law enforcement background made her skeptical of opioids.” Jennifer went to the famed pain specialist Dr. Forest Tennant, “who is known as a staunch advocate of using opioids for the treatment of intractable chronic pain.” The use of opioids helped Jennifer to live with her pain and lead a normal life. Then, Dr. Tennant closed his pain clinic after raids by the DEA without charges. According to her friends, Jennifer had been living in fear that her dosage of opioid medication would be reduced. After the closure of Dr. Tennant’s clinic, Jennifer “finally determined she couldn’t take it anymore.” She was a single mom and left a 10 year son in the hands of her family. She would be alive today if pain care was provided in her area. Most patients like Jenn are reporting virtually no doctors to take their cases due to the fear of arrest and raids for providing compassionate care after the CDC declared pain medicines second line drugs and too dangerous to use for most people, a policy not based on fact according to the CDC, but based on hired consultants who worked in secret.

Links to News Story:


Chris Gedney of Syracuse, New York committed suicide at age 47. Chris had been an All-American football player for Syracuse, and had joined the NFL after college. He suffered from ulcerative colitis and had many injuries during his NFL career. Chris also had surgery to remove his large intestine. A friend said that Chris had “a pain he hid from all of us.” His suicide followed a forced pain medicine reduction by a local doctor, it was reported, ulcerative colitis is an extremely painful disease with constant severe abdominal cramping. The disease has no cure, and the only treatment is to relieve pain and suffering in the truest from of compassionate medical care, palliative care. There is no law preventing physicians from prescribing full doses of opiate pain medicine in the United States and palliative care is protected from any restrictions in dosage,

Links to News Story:


On June 11th, 2016 Louise Ramage posted a message in a Facebook group about her doctor wanting her to withdraw from her pain medication. She was desperate to find documentation about the need to taper opiates gradually. 12 days later on June 23rd, 2016 she was dead.

Louise’s Obituary:

Discussion About her Death:

31. Robert “Bob” Breault of New Hampshire committed suicide at the age of 52. He crushed a few discs in his back when he was young and took medication to function. He ended his life in his home May 21st, 2018 about a thousand feet from his daughter’s house.

Bob’s Obituary:


Names are withheld from these four people, all from the same town in Kentucky.

The first man committed suicide January 2017. He was known as a hard worker and dedicated family man.

The next man was in a wreck that ruined his spine, but was restricted to 10 mg Oxycodon a day anyway. He was the life of the party, always laughing and one of the “most generous people you’ve ever met”.

The third man had a neck injury that required medication. After being cut off he killed himself, with a note in his pocket reading “I couldn’t take it anymore”.

The last person, a woman, had multiple surgeries to deal with her painful disease, all of which failed. She was taken off her normal medication and was given neurontin, which didn’t do anything. She was described as “a sweetheart who would do anything for anyone” She left a note for her little brother, who helped pick pieces of her brain and skull off the floor and walls.

37. Shalyn Manson of Lansing, Michigan recently threw herself into a river after a being forced to taper for unknown reasons. She was a marathon runner and apparently developed a pain syndrome resulting from a foot injury. She was on pain medicine for years before she wrote her suicide note on social media describing her feelings of being in “ a living hell with no way out.” Notes written by her were found in her car with instructions on what to do with her possessions, a gruesome task her son is now in charge of. The doctor has not been charged.

Link to News Story:


Pam Clute of California committed suicide at the age of 66. She had been a professor of mathematics and assistant vice chancellor at UC Riverside. Pam had received several distinctions during her lifetime, including being named a Leading Woman in STEM Education. She was also known for her baking skills and for establishing a workout program. Pam was afflicted with chronic pain from a spine condition, and “medical treatment had failed to relieve the pain that shot down her legs.” Her husband was charged with assisting Pam’s suicide by supplying the gun that she used to end her life, a common response when families mutually decide life if not worth living when painful disease is not treated with compassionate pain care. In this case it appears Pam was swept up in the anti-opioid “to prevent overdose deaths” movement currently and sadly growing stronger by the day, none of which is based on fact, according to the CDC.

Links to news stories:

Russia Promises Effective Countermeasures Against Any US Military Bases Allowed To Open In Cyprus


Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russia will respond to any ‘US military build-up in Cyprus’ (Update 3)


Moscow will respond in case of a military build-up by the US in Cyprus, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, warning that such a move would “inevitably lead to dangerous and destabilising consequences” for the island.

Nicosia responded to the threat with a non-confrontational statement merely saying that Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides “at his own initiative” had a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during which they reviewed bilateral Cyprus-Russia relations and “exchanged views on possible ways to further enhance them”. They also discussed the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region, as well as EU-Russia issues and agreed within this context to meet in the next few months.

Zakharova said that a US delegation had inspected potential sites for bases in the region and that Washington was engaged in intensive talks with Nicosia on expanding military cooperation.

“It [Cyprus] is being drawn into US and Nato plans in the eastern Mediterranean,” she added. “In Moscow we can’t ignore the anti-Russian element in these [US] plans and in the event that they are implemented we will be forced to take countermeasures.”

Citing Zakharova, Russia’s Tass news agency quoted her saying that information was coming from different sources “about Washington’s active actions to ensure the possibility of building up its military presence in Cyprus for countering the growing Russian influence in the region in light of the successful implementation of the operation of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria”.

“The further militarisation of the island and its involvement in the implementation of American and Nato plans will inevitably lead to dangerous and destabilising consequences for Cyprus itself,” she said.

“We have repeatedly pointed [this] out to the leadership of Cyprus … Moscow cannot but take into consideration the anti-Russian background of these schemes. We will have to take response measures in case of their implementation.”

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday he was expecting the US to express in practice its interest in taking part in the existing tripartite cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. Anastasiades was addressing the 6th Energy Symposium in Nicosia.

“I attribute particular importance in the interest shown on the part of the USA to take part in the trilateral (cooperation mechanism) between Greece, Cyprus and Israel,” he said. “I expect that soon this will be confirmed in practice.”

The US has expressed increased interest in the development of hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation in the region. In addition, it was recently announced that Cyprus would appoint a military attaché in Washington. According to the government, the decision is part of the effort to strengthen bilateral ties between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States and to engage in a “balanced defence diplomacy”.

In a bland written response to Zakharova earlier in the day, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said a US military build-up or any militarisation of the island “was never our goal”. The statement from Prodromou did not address the direct threat from Moscow but merely cited the number of times the island had facilitated some other countries with the use of the Paphos airbase, ports and airports but only for humanitarian reasons.

“The Republic of Cyprus, taking advantage of its geographical location, provide facilities for humanitarian operations and then only in cases where some countries submit a request or have a relative MoU with the Republic of Cyprus,” said Prodromou.

He said last year the Republic granted such facilities in 672 cases at the island’s airports and 225 instances at the ports. Up until October 29 this year, facilities were granted at airports in 212 cases, and at the ports, in 207 cases.

After decades of close ties, relations with Moscow have become strained over the past two years in several respects due to tighter controls in the financial sector from US sanctions, and the Bill Browder case, in conjunction with international attitudes towards Moscow due to its involvement in Syria, the Skripal poisoning case in the UK, and alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 US election, all of which have not left Cyprus’ relations with Russia untouched.

Thousands of Russians live in Cyprus and some have purchased controversial ‘golden visas’. Russia is also the island’s second-biggest tourism source.

Russian ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy has not been shy in making Moscow’s feelings known of late, issuing warnings that bilateral relations will suffer following frequent meetings he has with Greek Cypriot politicians, though none have openly criticised him for allegedly interfering, especially in the Cyprus issue. Russia has always been a strong supporter of the Greek Cypriot side in its capacity as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

However, analysts perceive that Moscow is not in favour of a solution that might involve any role by Nato in a post-solution Cyprus such as might be implemented in place of the Turkish guarantees. Osadchiy did draw fire last year by attending – the only diplomat on the island to do so – a seminar organised by some of the rejectionist parties, and this year the Russian embassy issued a statement rapping ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou after he said in an interview that Russia, was looking towards Turkey for political and energy reasons. The Disy chief also reiterated his party’s position that Cyprus belonged to the West.

Moscow later reiterated that, despite its initial reaction, its long-standing stance on Cyprus had not changed. This, as Osadchiy has repeatedly said, is a solution reached by both sides without outside interference, meaning the West.

“Apparently, some partners of the Republic of Cyprus would like to drive a wedge between Russia and Cyprus in order to deter Russia in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” the Russian embassy said, also hinting that its own relations with Ankara could benefit Cyprus.

Earlier this month, Osadchiy said that EU sanctions against his country and a Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) crackdown on shell companies had led to the closure of thousands of bank accounts belonging to Russians and the departure of companies from the island. He expressed hope that the obstacles in the relations between the two countries would soon be overcome.

Last year, the ambassador also warned that Cyprus’ relations with Russia suffered after Hermitage Capital founder Bill Browder resorted to Cypriot justice and was granted an injunction to prevent Nicosia prosecutors cooperating with their counterparts in Moscow. Since then, in October this year, following international pressure, especially from Europe, Cyprus suspended cooperation with Russia in the Browder case.

More recently, Osadchiy said that if the Church of Cyprus sided with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople who has supported Ukrainian demands for an independent Orthodox church, this would affect relations between Russia and Cyprus, at least psychologically.


How the US Uses Anti-Corruption Laws and Sanctions To Wage Economic War Upon the World


The cases of Patrick Ho and Sabrina Meng Wanzhou show the extraterritorial reach of US authorities


The conviction of former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho in a New York court and the detention of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, in Canada have demonstrated the global reach of United States law enforcement.

Ho was convicted for money laundering and bribery, pertaining to oil rights in Chad and Uganda, on behalf of CEFC China Energy under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a US law aimed at combating bribery of foreign officials.

It does not matter that there were no American citizens involved – since 1977, the FCPA has allowed the US to become the anticorruption policeman for the whole world.

“There are a lot of instances where the total conduct has taken place outside the US, by non-US persons. It’s a non-US company and non-US government officials, going about their business outside the US. But if any of the money transited through the US, if there was a bank account that was draw on there, or if a server based in the US was used to send an email, there is jurisdiction,” said Wendy Wysong, who leads the Asia-Pacific anticorruption and trade controls practice at law firm Clifford Chance.

Eberhard Reichert, a German national and Siemens executive, was extradited to the US in 2017. He was arrested in Croatia on charges of taking part in a US$100 million scheme to bribe Argentinian officials for a contract to produce national identity cards in 1996.

The biggest case in FCPA history, meanwhile, involved the Brazilian national energy company Petrobras. It was handed a US$853.2 million criminal penalty by the US Department of Justice for bribing politicians in Brazil. Petrobras had subsequently accessed US capital markets and was, thus, deemed to be within its jurisdiction.

If any of the money transited through the US, if there was a bank account that was draw on there, or if a server based in the US was used to send an email, there is jurisdiction

Neither case directly involved US entities or firms, but the wide reach of the FCPA allowed the US to intervene.

For decades, however, it is economic sanctions that have been an extension of US foreign policy. In 1940, the US led an embargo against Japan after it invaded what was then French Indochina. It led its allies in a sanctioning of Soviet grain in the late 1970s, which eventually led to a western boycott of the Moscow Olympics.

Through the years, Washington has used sanctions as a way of isolating countries such as Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Sudan and Syria from international trade. They are, unlike actions under the FPCA, overtly political and designed to exert maximum pressure on the regimes they target.

Not only are companies and individuals forbidden from trading with US entities. The dominance of the US dollar, as well as the ubiquity of systems such as Swift, the trade finance messaging system, mean there is an unofficial embargo on other countries trading with sanctioned countries too.

In 2015, Deutsche Bank, for example, was fined US$258 million for doing business with Iran and Syria. Deutsche Bank is German, but the fact that much of its business is in the US, using US dollars, means it must abide by US sanctions.

Sanctions have always been used as a tool of political leverage, but in recent years they have been deployed more aggressively, according to Tatman Savio, a Hong Kong-based partner at US law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

The US used economic sanctions to target Chinese technology company ZTE this year, after it admitted to breaking an embargo on trading with sanctioned countries. And as geopolitical tensions rise, Chinese companies can expect to be targeted again.

“In the context of China we notice several things that seem to be coalescing. The trade war and Section 301, which are designed, in part, to combat China’s access to high technology. The US government has made a serious effort, which is designed to go after the way in which China is able to access technology by different means,” said Savio.

Only Israel Likes U.S. Foreign Policy

“Disregard for world opinion as well as the opinion of the U.S. citizenry defines the U.S. government. “


(Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Most of the world does not like U.S. foreign policy


This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba. 189 member-nations of the world said that Cuba does not deserve this embargo, which began in 1961 and has continued — unabated — to this day. Only two countries — the United States and Israel — voted against the motion. No country abstained.

Cuba’s minister for foreign affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, said that the U.S. embargo has cost the small socialist island state upwards of $933.678 billion, with the losses in the past year amounting to $4.3 billion (twice the amount of foreign direct investment into the island). This embargo, Rodríguez Parrilla said as he put the resolution forward, is an “act of genocide” against the island and its people.

The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement — both important groupings of the Global South — as well as regional groupings from Africa to Latin America backed the resolution. China’s representative to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, made the case that the U.S. embargo on Cuba prevented the island from meeting its obligations to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Last year, the United States strengthened the embargo with an attack on the tourism sector (83 hotels were placed on the banned list). It is likely that the Trump administration will deepen its assault on Cuba.

Threats by the United States did not convert the vote of otherwise reliable U.S. allies. Each year since 1992 a resolution of this kind has come before the UN General Assembly. Each year the world has overwhelmingly voted against the U.S. embargo. This year was no different.

The world is worried about the United States

You don’t need a Pew poll to know which way the world thinks.

But it is useful. Last month, Pew Research Center released a poll that looked at the image of Donald Trump and the United States in 25 countries around the world. In most countries, neither Trump nor the United States come off well. Seventy percent of the populations in these countries have no confidence in Trump. The same number of people believe that the United States does not take the interests of other countries into consideration when moving policies forward. This is evident with the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Neither the people of Canada nor Mexico — the closest neighbors of the United States — has a favorable view of either Trump or the United States. Only Israel, which voted with the United States over the embargo on Cuba, has a high opinion of Trump and of the United States.

Beyond the Pew poll, it is evident from the atmosphere in the United Nations that the countries of the world—even close U.S. allies—fear U.S. policy on a number of issues. Cuba is a canary in the coal mine. But even clearer is the U.S. policy of ramping up sanctions against Iran.

The world does not want to strangle Iran

At the debate over the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Iran’s representative to the UN — Gholamali Khoshroo — detailed how the U.S. has withdrawn from several international agreements and how the U.S. has failed to implement UN Security Council resolutions that it does not like. Behind Khoshroo’s comments lay the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and the UN Security Council members, the United Nations and the European Union. This deal was sanctified by a UN Security Council resolution. Trump’s unilateral move to scuttle the nuclear deal and the return of sanctions against Iran this week replicates — Khoshroo intimated — the long-standing and unpopular sanctions against Cuba. The United States, Khoshroo said, should “sincerely apologize” to the people of Cuba and Iran.

As the new U.S. sanctions regime went into place against Iran, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara, “U.S. sanctions on Iran are wrong. For us, they are steps aimed at unbalancing the world. We don’t want to live in an imperialist world.” Erdogan is not alone here. Even countries with close ties to the United States — such as India and Japan — are against the sanctions. They may not use words like “imperialist,” but their actions clearly bristle at the heavy-handedness of the U.S. government when it comes to its use of instruments such as financial sanctions.

It was clear that China was never going to honor the new U.S. sanctions on Iran. Nor were Turkey and Iraq, and nor were the three large economies of Asia that rely on Iranian oil (India, Japan and South Korea). No wonder that the United States gave these countries waivers to the sanctions. These countries — including India and Japan — have been discussing the need for an alternative financial system so that they can do trade with countries that are sanctioned by the United States. They do not believe that the United States should be allowed to suffocate world trade through its control over banking systems and through the world’s reliance upon the dollar. Pressure to build alternatives no longer comes from the margins; it comes from Tokyo and New Delhi, from Frankfurt and Seoul.

One major casualty of the U.S. sanctions on Iran will be Afghanistan, already ripped apart by almost two decades of war. Afghanistan relies upon Iranian oil and — during this year — non-oil trade rose by 30 percent. India’s project to help build the port in Chabahar is linked to opening new land routes into Afghanistan. Just as the U.S. sanctions went into place against Iran, Ahmad Reshad Popal, director general of Afghanistan’s Customs Department, opened the Farah crossing to Iranian goods—a snub to U.S. policy. Even Afghanistan, virtually under U.S. occupation, cannot abide by the U.S. policy on Iran. Nor even can the NATO troops, whose trucks are fueled — in part — by Iranian oil.

The world does not want an Iraq War in South America

George W. Bush used the term “axis of evil” to lump together Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Of the three, the U.S. could only go to war against Iraq in 2003. Pressure for regime change in North Korea was held back by its nuclear weapons program, and pressure for regime change in Iran continues.

Donald Trump has now come up with a new term — “troika of tyranny,” which includes Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Miami, Trump’s close adviser John Bolton gave a speech where he inaugurated this term. He spoke of the right-wing turn in Latin America and the isolation — as far as he was concerned—of socialist governments. Bolton celebrated the election of men such as Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) and Ivan Duque (Colombia), men who he said are committed to “free-market principles and open, transparent, and accountable governance.” No mention here of the grotesque views of Bolsonaro or the militarism of both men.

Bolton called the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela “strongmen.” There is no more “clownish, pitiful” figure — to borrow from Bolton — than Bolsonaro, no more authoritarian heads of government than Bolsonaro, Duque and Trump. Duque has taken Colombia into NATO, a sign that the Colombian military will now answer more to Washington than to the Colombian people.

In his speech, Bolton threatened the governments in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Trump’s administration, he said, “is taking direct action against all three regimes” — “direct action” a key phrase here.

Such actions against these countries are not new.

The United States invaded Cuba in 1898 and held it as a virtual colony till the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Pressure on the Cuban Revolution intensified by 1961, with the U.S. forcing an embargo on the island, attempting an invasion of the country and attempting to assassinate the leadership of the revolution.

United States Marines entered Nicaragua in 1909 and occupied the country till 1933. When the Marines left, the national liberation forces under Augusto César Sandino attempted to free the country. Sandino was assassinated, and a U.S.-backed dictatorship by the Somoza family ruled the country till 1979. That year, the Sandinistas—named after Sandino—overthrew the dictatorship. In response, the U.S. funded the Contras (short form for counter-revolutionary forces), who prosecuted a bloody war against the small country.

Ever since Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela, the U.S. has tried to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution that he inaugurated. A failed coup in 2002 was followed up by various forms of intimidation and sanctions. In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that Venezuela was an “extraordinary threat to U.S. security” and slapped sanctions on the country. It is this policy that Trump has since continued.

Itchy fingers in the Trump administration are eager to start a shooting war somewhere in South America—either Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela. The appetite for this is not there in the United Nations. Nor is it shared in Latin America. But that has never stopped the United States.

Disregard for world opinion as well as the opinion of the U.S. citizenry defines the U.S. government. Thirty-six million people around the world, half a million of them in New York City, protested on February 15, 2003, to prevent the U.S. war on Iraq. George W. Bush did not pay attention to them. Nor will Trump.

Last August, Trump asked his advisers why the U.S. can’t just invade Venezuela. The next day, on August 11, 2017, Trump said he was considering the “military option” for Venezuela. At a private dinner with four Latin American allies, Trump asked if they wanted the U.S. to invade Venezuela. Each of them said no. Not sure if their opinions count.



Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World(The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South(Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution(University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World(LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.



The Double Standards of US Foreign Policy

“So the United States bombed Syria because Syria bombed Syria, to teach Syria not to bomb Syria?”

[Was Vietnam The Greatest Disaster in All of US Foreign Policy?  No…we are still in the greatest foreign policy disaster in All US history…Thank you Bush.]

The Double Standards of US Foreign Policy

It’s easy for many Americans to perceive the effects of war as short-lived, this is in part due to mainstream media’s lack of coverage; the aftermath and hypocrisy of war are rarely presented. While the news might show the public a glimpse of the initial bombings raining down on the “US enemy,” this is stealthily unveiled through the eyes of the military industrial complex, romanticizing the attacks while fascinating over the American firepower strength.

“I am guided by the beauty of our weapon,” Brian Williams said cheerfully on MSNBC as he watched the Pentagon-provided footage of the US missile strike in Syria, quoting Leonard Cohen’s song “First We Take Manhattan.”

A heroic narrative was quickly molded on the public and all logic was thrown out the window; the United States was portrayed as the good guys stopping the evil dictator Assad from bombing his own people, hence no one stopped to ask the most glaring question of them all, “So the United States bombed Syria because Syria bombed Syria, to teach Syria not to bomb Syria?”

To make matters worse, the US strikes were on Assad’s alleged chemical weapons sites, as if launching more than 100 missiles at chemical weapons storage facilities wouldn’t risk creating a greater hazard and possibly contaminate the surrounding areas. Nonetheless, it was later revealed that the labs bombed were actually an anti-venom medical facility, with zero relation to toxic weapons. Syrian’s who worked at the facility were in shock to learn they had been hit, “If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I’ve been here since 5:30 am in full health – I’m not coughing,” said one of the workers; according to them, they were only producing antidotes to scorpion and snake venom while running tests on chemical products used in making food, medicine and children’s toys. Somehow mainstream media failed to report on this, or the fact that inspectors from the OPCW had inspected the building numerous times and concluded that it did not produce any chemical weapons. Moreover, why would anyone have a chemical weapons facility in the middle of their capital? One would think you would try hiding it a bit better.

The truth is US foreign policy exhibits certain patterns that are not so easy to detect because of mainstream media’s distortion of reality.

There’s no doubt that this is extremely reminiscent to Bill Clinton’s missile attack on the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. Due to Clinton claim that the plant produced VX nerve for Bin Laden, the US bombed it under the pretext of stopping the production of chemical weapons. Of course it was later revealed that this was completely false. The plant was merely producing most of the pharmaceuticals in veterinary drugs, and as one of the poorest countries in Africa that was currently under an embargo, it suffered a horrific humanitarian crisis as a result of Clinton’s attacks; the casualties were estimated at tens of thousands – many of them children who died from malaria, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases. Sudanians no longer had access to lifesaving medicine, and just like in Syria, the plant had recently been inspected and cleared before the attack; the World Health Organization granted it a “good practicing license.”

“The point is you bomb anyone you want to” Noam Chomsky said. “It’s a western crime and therefore it was legitimate. Just suppose that Al-Qaeda blew up half the pharmaceutical supplies in the US or England or Israel or any country in which people lived, human beings, not ants, people, can you imagine the reaction, you’d probably have a nuclear war, but when we do it to a poor African country it didn’t happen, not discussed.”

Moreover, prior to Trumps attack on Assad, a US led coalition had actually been caught using chemical weapons in Syria; munitions loaded with white phosphorus were being used by the US led forces battling the Islamic State. This was indiscriminately used over civilian populated areas. Similarly, during the Iraq war in the Second Battle of Fallujah, the US used chemical weapons on civilians during their bombardment, leading to irreversible health problems among Fallujah’s population. Ironically, this was also done under the pretext of stopping an evil dictator – Saddam Hussein from possessing chemical weapons, an outright lie that was later proven false after no chemical weapons were found; instead the US used them on Iraqi civilians, poisoning generations with cancer and birth defects. Maybe if the public knew that America helped Saddam launch some of the worst chemical attacks in history back in 1988, they would’ve been less eager to invade.

Nonetheless, when it comes to the US attacks on Assad, all of this is contingent on the theory that he bombed his own people, a ridiculous proposition at a time when Assad has almost won the war against ISIS. Why would he want to use chemical weapons on civilians and drag the West back into conflict when he almost regained full control of Syria? The mainstream media refused to ask any of these blatant questions.

Yet behind the scenes, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had already questioned Assad’s alleged chemical attacks in Khan Shaykhun a year earlier.

“I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.” Professor Ted Postol said. “The video evidence that is being used in the UN report actually shows evidence of tampering with the site,” he said in an interview with RT.

If the media had done its job the public would have known that the US has a history of using chemical weapons on civilians and that no evidence actually exists that proves Assad bombed his own people, yet this would allow for the double standard of US foreign policy to be clear as day, making the job of the military industrial complex much more difficult.

Marcelo Guadiana writes for the Borgen Project and RouserNews, focusing on war and poverty. He is a senior at UMass Boston a B.A. in economics.

Sea of Azov

Sea of Azov

The sea [ Sea of Azov] is considered an internal sea of Russia and Ukraine, and its use is governed by an agreement between these countries ratified in 2003…The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world with an average depth of 7 metres (23 ft) and maximum depth of 14 metres (46 ft)–wiki 

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer draft: 30.5 ft deep, 505-509 ft long, 66 ft wide

Kerch Bridge that has only 33 meters clearance.

US preparing to sail warship into Black Sea: CNN

Air Force Flies ‘Extraordinary’ Mission Over Ukraine In Rebuke Of Russian ‘Escalation’

“The flight comes on the heels of an unusual U.S. Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay [in the Sea of Japan–ed]. The guided-missile destroyer USS McCambell conducted the operation”

Top general: No discussion of military response to Kerch Strait incident


The top military officer in the United States said Thursday there has been no discussion of a military response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine near the Sea of Azov.

Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford was responding to a question at a Washington Post event about providing Ukraine with naval weaponry as some have called for in the wake of last month’s incident in the Kerch Strait.

“There is not a discussion ongoing right now about a military dimension in response to the Sea of Azov,” Dunford told moderator David Ignatius. “Obviously, my job in uniform is to make sure the president has options available should he decide to respond with military force. But there has been no military response nor has there been a discussion about a military response to the Sea of Azov in public.”

Last month, Russia fired on Ukrainian ships as they tried to transit the Kerch Strait, which links the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. Several crew members were injured, and Russia seized three ships. Moscow has been detaining the sailors from the ships since.

Earlier Thursday, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. military and several allies took part in an “extraordinary” flight over Ukraine as part of the Open Skies Treaty that was meant to send a message to Russia.

During the Washington Post event, Dunford said the Kerch Strait incident is part of a pattern of behavior from Russia meant to test the international community.

“And in this case, clear violations of sovereignty have taken place, and that doesn’t by any means indicate that there should be a military response,” he continued. “But I think the international community certainly has got to respond diplomatically or economically or in the security space, or Russia will continue to do what they’ve been doing over the last couple of years.”

Dunford added that he has not “specifically” spoken about the incident with his Russian counterpart, with whom he is in regular contact to prevent the U.S. and Russian militaries from coming into direct conflict.

The Kerch Strait incident is one of several recent developments that have ratcheted up U.S.-Russia tension in recent weeks.

This week, the United States also gave Russia 60 days to come back into compliance with a landmark arms control treaty or else the United States would stop adhering to it. Russia denies it has violated what’s known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Dunford said Russia’s continued violations of the INF Treaty could affect the extension of a separate treaty known as New START. That treaty, which caps the number of deployed nuclear warheads for each country, expires in 2021 with the option for a five-year extension.

“It’d be best if Russia would comply with the INF, which would set the conditions for a broader conversation about other arms control agreements, to include the extension of START,” he said. “I will not obviously make this decision– I’ll make recommendations. But it’s very difficult for me to envision progress in extending START II, as an example, if the foundation of that is noncompliance with the INF Treaty.”




The consequences of the explosion in college in Kerch–OCT 17, 2018


“The Pakistani Taliban are the key to the entire psyop.  Understanding who they actually are and what master they really serve is vital to understanding what is going down in the homeland of the “Islamic bomb.”

The Tehreek Taliban emerged from S. Punjab, spreading from there to S. Waziristan.  Contrary to popular deceptions, they are an “anti-Taliban” force.  Like everything else in Pakistan, they were meant to play a “double-game,” pretending to be part of the real Pashtun Afghan Taliban, while waging war in secret upon them.  Musharraf and his generals created this “Taliban” force that was not really Taliban, by utilizing “Islamists,” who were not really Muslims.  They were created to serve as a safe “loyal opposition,” who pretended to wage a fake war of terror for American audiences, without risking a fight with real rogue terror groups.  The plan was to use military men to lead the criminal gangs of real revolutionaries and ordinary rabble,

The Tehreek Taliban are not really “Taliban,” they are more accurately described as a      counter-Taliban force, an “anti-Taliban.”  Like all the real Taliban, they follow a counterfeit Saudi Wahabi version of Islam.  Unlike the real Afghan Taliban, their warped Wahabi Islam has been blended with another, even more radical “Islam” from India, Deobandi Islam.  The result is the most sectarian bloodthirsty form of Sunni Islam yet devised, to them, anyone who doesn’t follow this perverse Wahabi-Deobandi fusion, just like them, is “Kfir,” the unbelievers.  We are discussing the religious faith of people like Baitullah and Hakeemullah Mehsud, the same people who are now waging war in Pakistan.”– Waging War Upon Ourselves

Anti-Taliban Faction 2nd In Command, Who Called Afghan Peace Talks “A Lie”, Assassinated By Drone Strike Today


The evolution of the Taliban over the last two decades underscores the group’s continued influence and its enhanced confidence in pursuing military action in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban’s spring offensive in 2015, the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly. According to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 5,166 civilian casualties were recorded in the first half of 2016. UNAMA attributed nearly half of these causalities to anti-government forces such as the Taliban. Moreover, this security scenario has presented greater challenges to consensus-building within the Afghan government, particularly at a time when multiple actors—such as Russiaand Chinahave volunteered to engage with the Taliban. Growing fragmentation within the Taliban itself also negatively impacts peace talks since the group’s varying attitudes towards dialogue and cooperation make it difficult to assess which faction allows for the most productive engagement. This combination of internal and external factors make it increasingly unlikely that meaningful negotiations will take place soon.

The dramatic rise of the Taliban at the end of 1994 was, in some ways, both a nightmare and gift to the people of Afghanistan. On the one hand, the Taliban provided ordinary Afghans with hopes of more responsive and inclusive governance. But on the other hand, by the time the Taliban centralized power in 1996, the regime’s ruthless, dictatorial system came to light. The Taliban resorted to one-man rule through Mullah Muhammad Omar, which ultimately exposed serious weaknesses within the movement. As the Afghan economy collapsed and public sympathy for the Taliban diminished, signs of dissent within the leadership grew.

Sixteen years of war with the United States and the death of Mullah Omar have drastically changed the group’s power structure, which has seen two leadership changes since 2015. Various Taliban factions raised objections to the way both leaders, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, were appointed. After Mullah Mansour succeeded Mullah Omar as the head of Taliban, it was reportedthat the Taliban Shura Council was not consulted before his appointment. Syed Tayyab Agha, the leader of the Afghan Taliban’s political office in Qatar, consequently resigned in protest.

As Mansour fought his way through such dissent and opposition, Mullah Muhammad Rasool launched his own faction, calling it the “Higher Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Two prominent figures, Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi and Mullah Dadullah, rose high in the ranks of this group. Rasool’s faction, however, suffered a setback when Dadullah, who accused Mansour of conspiring with Pakistani intelligence to hide Mullah Omar’s death, was reportedly killed in August by Mansour’s loyalists. Following Mansour’s own death by a U.S. airstrike, Akhundzada was ridiculed by some Taliban faithful for his lack of battlefield experience. The head of the Military Council, Mullah Ibrahim Sadar, reportedly refused to send cash from opium-rich Helmand to the Quetta Shura following Akhundzada’s appointment.

These fragmentations are impacting long-established dynamics of authority within the Taliban. Despite discontent within their ranks, however, the Taliban has succeeded in prolonging the conflict with international and Afghan security forces. While some Taliban factions wish to engage in peace talks with the Afghan government, their voices are often overruledby hardliners who desire outright victory. The political crisis in the Afghan government combined with the territorial advances made by the Taliban have further encouraged the Taliban to follow its familiar military line. Additionally, the presence of the Islamic State (IS) inside Afghanistan has made the situation even more complicated and dangerous. The leadership crisis within the  Afghan Taliban presented an opportunity to the IS branch in Afghanistan, and shortly after they established their presence, several disenchanted members of the Taliban pledged allegiance to IS.

Even though fragmentation and internal disaffection make peace talks unlikely, engaging with the Taliban remains an important aspect of achieving peace in Afghanistan. In June, President Ashraf Ghani led a regional conference where he appealed to participating countries, including Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, to cooperate with the Kabul government in combating terrorism. He also issued an ultimatum to the Taliban, warning them to accept peace or “face consequences.” The Taliban dismissed the Kabul process as “futile.”

Though the Taliban have shown interest in the flexible approach adopted by the “Moscow Tripartite” (China, Pakistan, and Russia), which would allow for the removal of certain Taliban members from United Nations sanctions list as part of peace negotiations, they have refused to support the Russian-sponsored negotiations on the grounds that the talks are motivated solely by the “political agenda” of the organizers. Many fear that the growing relationship between Russia and the militants will grant the Taliban legitimacy as a potent military and political force. The involvement of multiple actors in negotiating with the Taliban has caused further chaos and confusion within the group. This has arguably prevented the various Taliban fragments from rallying around their mutual interests and working towards a peaceful solution.

Afghanistan faces a far deeper crisis today than in the past. Thus, dealing with a fractured Taliban becomes even more critical. Regional powers continue to engage with the Taliban to monopolize their influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan still has not done enough to curb the Taliban and Haqqani network inside its own territory. Likewise, Russia sees the Taliban as a bulwark against IS and as an effective means of limiting U.S. power in the region. Meanwhile, the United States’ attention is divided between IS and the Taliban. These external pressures are further compacted to growing domestic opposition to the Ghani government. Once again, the complex issue of reconciliation and reintegration of the Taliban, arguably a key aspect of winning the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, has been relegated to the back burner.


Editor’s Note: Click here to read this article in Urdu

Image 1Wikimedia Commons via Aslan Media, Flickr

Image 2U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Benjamin Addison via Flickr

Posted in AfghanistanMilitancyTerrorism

Neha Dwivedi

Neha Dwivedi

Neha Dwivedi is an SAV Visiting Fellow, July 2018. She holds a Master’s degree in Geopolitics and International Relations from Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Manipal, India. Her research interests include Afghanistan, emerging geopolitics of the Middle East, refugee crises, Islam and identity politics, and regional aspects of human rights. Previously, she was associated with the Centre for Studies in International Relations and Development (CSIRD) in Kolkata as a research intern. She has also contributed articles for The Diplomat magazine. Formerly, she worked as a journalist at the online news platform, Saddahaq.



The peace talks with the Afghan Taliban have apparently reached a high note with U.S. President Donald Trump declaring that the United States is in the midst of very strong negotiations in Afghanistan. Amid reportssuggesting this is a crucial opportunity for the United States to settle the seventeen-year war, questions have been raised regarding the feasibility of the Afghan presidential elections that are scheduled to be held in April 2019. Even as efforts are being made to engage the Taliban in talks, the group continues to launch deadly attacks on civilians and Afghan security forces. They also attended the recent Moscow-held peace talksboycotted by Washington, but attended by members of the Afghan Peace Council–where they repeatedly assailed the Afghan government for its failures. Taliban leaders are playing by their rules, demonstrating that they will continue to undermine the government of Afghanistan, engage in peace negotiations on their own terms alone, and spell trouble for the future of Afghan democracy.

Flouting the Afghan Government

During the recently held multilateral peace talks in Russia, which saw the representation of several regional players, including India, China, Pakistan, and Iran, the Afghan Taliban openly disregarded President Ghani and his government. Touted by analysts as a triumph for Russian diplomacy, the Moscow conference signals the failure of the peace commission that was representing the Afghan government to counter the narrative of the Afghan Taliban. At the recent Moscow talks, the Afghan Taliban, in its statement on the conditions for settlement, raised numbers released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), according to which American bombardments in Afghanistan have exceptionally increased and are killing more civilians. While these numbers might be true, it is undeniable that raising them at an international platform allows the Afghan Taliban—itself responsible for 42 percent of total deaths in Afghanistan—to promote itself as a potential legitimate government for Afghanistan.

The rising confidence of the Taliban is also reflected in its referral to the organization as “Islamic Emirate” at least 61 times at the Moscow talks, where their remarks were as assertive and contentious as ever. Their insistence on the reestablishment of an “Islamic Government” was also seen in the official statement after the three-day meeting between the Taliban and high level delegation of U.S. officials in Qatar. These developments signal the existence of an emboldened Taliban and an undermined Afghan government that has failed to convince the Afghan Taliban to accept its legitimacy.

Kabul in Disarray

Touted by analysts as a triumph for Russian diplomacy, the Moscow conference signals the failure of the peace commission that was representing the Afghan government to counter the narrative of the Afghan Taliban.

A sense of urgency is palpable in the developments surrounding the Afghan peace process. On a Thanksgiving teleconference call with U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, President Trump, while conveying the United States’ strength in ongoing peace negotiations, also hinted at his skepticism about the success of such efforts. Uncertainty regarding the peace talks seems natural considering the recent developments portraying the weakness of the Afghan government. Per the New York Times, at least 242 Afghan security force members were killed from November 9th  to the 15th. Contradicting to the claims of the U.S. military, which says that the Taliban has 28,000 to 40,000 fighters in its rank and file, the Long War Journal reported that the Taliban likely has more than 70,000 fighters. Additionally, the government of Afghanistan has been steadily losing territory. Compared to November 2015, when the central government had control over 72 percent of the country, it now governs only 55.5 percent of the country’s districts.

The Afghan government is also beset with disagreements and internal rivalries. Significant questions were raised concerning the state of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) after the resignation of National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar in September. The same month also witnessed other top officials such as Interior Minister Wais Barmak, Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami, and Chief of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Masoom Stanekzai offering their resignations, all of which were rejected by Ghani. Serious differences have been observed between the Afghan political circle and the security agencies throughout 2018. Afghan politicians have criticized security agencies for engaging in political issues and levied accusations that members of the security apparatus collaborate with the Afghan Taliban. The fractious political climate amidst preparations for peace talks and presidential elections will only favor the Afghan Taliban, which has mocked the Afghan government before for its lack of unity.

 Our Conditions, Our Rules

With the United States directly engaging with the Taliban, much is being said and written about the conditions defined by the latter to reach a settlement. However, the Taliban’s refusal to talk to the Afghan government while constantly mocking it as stooges of the U.S. government and attacking its legitimacy demonstrates that the road to peace remains far off. It continues to remain adamant about not engaging with the Afghan government, even as President Ghani assembles a team of Afghan government officials to hold talks with the Taliban. As visible from the Moscow talks, its demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan also continues to prevail.

As evidenced by the Taliban’s statement in Moscow, the Taliban is cognizant of the U.S. strategy of pressurizing and bringing the group to the talking table. There is a sense of hastiness in the actions of the United States, as evidenced by its abrupt decision to directly engage with the Taliban and even to discuss the presence of U.S. bases in Afghanistan. However, the Taliban’s actions haven’t suggested that it is seeking to compromise on its preconditions. On the contrary, its tone has become stronger with every negotiation. At present, it does not appear willing to depart from its preconditions.

If American policymakers were to disagree with the Taliban on their preconditions and conditions, they would likely put an end to the peace efforts that have been gaining momentum since the Eid ceasefire. The United States would once again have to opt for the same old strategy of hoping to pressurize the Taliban through tactical military victories, a policy which has been failing until now.

As the debate in Afghanistan now begins to shift towards whether the government should delay elections in favor of peace talks, there are concerns that such concessions could weaken the democratic set up of the country. Even so, the move has received support from within the Afghan government and the academic community on the grounds that the likeliness of deal would decrease as long as the Taliban can’t be sure that the incoming Afghan president will be on board with the tenets of a newly-inked peace deal. While the argument does possess logic, it is certain that the Taliban will leverage its position in negotiations if elections are delayed. The Taliban believes that it is their religious duty to oppose Afghan elections, as they are “un-Islamic” in nature. Postponing of elections would support their propaganda about the illegitimacy of the Afghan government. Thus, any delay in elections in favor of peace talks would bolster the confidence of the group. Importantly, there is no guarantee that the Afghan Taliban would stick to their promises even after the decision to delay the elections.

It is conceivable that the United States, which appears to be both hopeful and desperate for a peace deal, might give into the pressure of the deteriorating security situation and agree to some of the Taliban’s preconditions and conditions, including the removal of its leaders from UN sanctions list, a formal recognition of its political office, and the elimination of U.S. presence in Afghanistan. But if American policymakers were to disagree with the Taliban on their preconditions and conditions, they would likely put an end to the peace efforts that have been gaining momentum since the Eid ceasefire. The United States would once again have to opt for the same old strategy of hoping to pressurize the Taliban through tactical military victories, a policy which has been failing until now.


Image 1: U.S. Department of State via Flickr 

Image 2: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Poland To Close “Suwalki Gap” Between Kalingrad, Russia, Using New “Fort Trump”

Why the Suwalki Gap Keeps Top U.S. General in Europe Up at Night

Russia Plans Huge Zapad 2017 Military Exercises With Belarus

Cunning plan: Poland wants to set up a US military base right next to Russia’s Kaliningrad

Cunning plan: Poland wants to set up a US military base right next to Russia’s Kaliningrad

Poland and the US are reportedly in talks over setting up an American military base on the border with Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. How serious, and most importantly, how realistic are Warsaw’s plans?

Polish diplomatic sources told Russian paper Izvestiya that a US military base could soon appear very close to Kaliningrad. Even though the final decision is yet to be made, the most likely site for the base has reportedly been picked.

It’s the town of Orzysz, mere 140km (87 miles) away from Kaliningrad. Among its advantages as a location for a permanent military base is Orzysz’s proximity to the Russian border. Besides that, it has all the necessary infrastructure, including a training facility.

READ MORE: ‘Obvious threat’: Russian officials warn Poland not to proceed with permanent US military base

Another argument in favor, which advocates of the idea put forward, is that Orzysz is in the part of Poland that’s key in terms of conducting both defensive and offensive military operations. Polish experts believe that troops deployed here in advance would boost the defensive capacity not only of the northeastern part of the country, but also of the Baltic states. The latter point is questionable, however, as the authors of this idea don’t go into any detail about how it might be implemented when it comes to Lithuania and Latvia, let alone Estonia.

Polish experts are also cited as saying that the permanent presence of US troops in the area would ensure a more effective defense for Poland in general. However, it’s impossible to deploy any substantial military force in terms of manpower and combat strength to a single military base. In a best-scenario, we’re talking about a brigade or a division at most.

However, a hypothetical war with Russia could turn into a protracted world war that would definitely involve coalitions, with their forces and equipment.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Our build-up is defensive, Russia’s aggressive,’ says NATO after Putin’s remark – but is that fair?To sketch it out, this hypothetical large-scale conflict would involve all-out use of all types of weapons, maximum-intensity hostilities, and – I should emphasize this specifically – constant danger of nuclear weapons, followed by unrestricted use of all means of mass destruction, starting with all the strategic nuclear weapons.

In a war this huge it would be impossible to achieve military objectives of any significance with the force of just one brigade or division.

Looking at such a small number of troops and the location of their base as some kind of staging area for launching an offensive against Russia is also unreasonable. For that, you’d need a fundamentally different kind of military force, and I don’t mean at a tactical level, but at the operational and strategic level. First of all, there has to be an airfield network to allow tactical air forces in.

If Poland wants to get ready for aggression that badly, it needs to start with preparing its territory for battle; the country needs to brace itself for war in general.

In that case, Poland would need to raise adequate troops in terms of numbers and combat strength and think of a plan to efficiently deploy troops to strategic sectors. This would require much more than building a single military base.

In other words, Warsaw would need to get the entire country and its armed forces ready for a full-scale war instead of resorting to half-measures. However, it seems that Poland has not yet started this process and has not even discussed it in fact.

ALSO ON RT.COMState Department claims that Russia is stronger than EU is blatant disinformationAs for deploying one brigade or division in eastern Poland, this seems to be a purely cosmetic gesture because it will not boost the country’s defenses significantly. What it will do, however, is further deteriorate relations with Moscow. There are no other foreseeable military or political gains that the current Polish plan can bring about.

But Poland’s fear of a hypothetical armed invasion of its territory by Russia can be explained otherwise. History has shown that on more than one occasion the Western allies of Poland were unprepared to provide it with any palpable help and support other than friendly advice. In September 1939, for example, neither Great Britain nor France did anything at all to help Warsaw reflect the act of aggression which Nazi Germany perpetrated against Poland.

That’s why a deployment of foreign troops on Polish territory could help reach a long-sought-after result as the government of Poland sees it. If a military conflict erupts then NATO forces, primarily US troops, would be involved in fighting, one way or another.

ALSO ON RT.COMCannon fodder for nuclear war: What the US division deployed to Poland will becomeSuch ideas have been circulating among politicians and the military in Warsaw for quite a while. In September, this year the Polish government came up with the idea of building a US military base in Poland, nicknamed “Fort Trump,” which it has been called unofficially ever since.

Today, the viability of a permanent military presence of the US in Poland is under discussion. There are currently about 3,000 US troops deployed in Poland on a rotation basis. Decision makers in Warsaw seem to think that bringing in American troops on a permanent basis will help improve security in the region.

Yet, another increase in NATO’s presence on Russia’s doorstep may in fact undermine stability as Moscow sees the growing military activities of the US-led alliance in eastern Europe as threat to national security.

Russia has repeatedly said that it’s not going to attack anyone but it has to protect its borders against any potential attack. It warned that if a US military base is built on the Polish territory, it will have to take countermeasures. The Kremlin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov was earlier quoted as saying that Russia would not turn a blind eye to “the breach of parity.”

By Mikhail Khodarenok, military commentator for


Mikhail Khodarenok is a retired colonel. He graduated from the Minsk Higher Engineering School of Anti-Aircraft Missile Defense (1976) and the Command Academy of the Air Defense Forces (1986).
Commanding officer of the S-75 AA missile battalion (1980-1983).
Deputy commanding officer of a SAM regiment (1986-1988).
Senior officer at the High Command of the Air Defense Forces (1988–1992).
Officer at the main operational directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces(1992–2000).
Graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (1998).
Worked as an analyst at Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000-2003) and editor-in-chief of Voyenno-Promyshlennyi Kuriyer (2010-2015).

Think your frien

Afghanistan Peace Talks Stick on Bases–US Wants 2, Taliban None


U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, second left, arrives at NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sept. 7, 2018.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, second left, arrives at NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sept. 7, 2018.

Negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban for a political settlement to end the protracted war in Afghanistan are stuck over the issue of maintenance of U.S. military bases in the country, according to Waheed Muzhda, a former Taliban official in Kabul who remains in regular contact with Taliban leaders.

The “U.S. wants the Taliban to accept at least two military bases, Bagram and Shorabak (home base of Mullah Dadullah Faction, site or recent drone killing of Rasoul Taliban leader,Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi). The Taliban are not willing to accept it,” Muzhda said, adding the insurgent leaders are unwilling to accept anything more than a nominal number of troops required to secure the U.S. diplomatic mission.

Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Kone Faulkner declined to comment on Muzhda’s claim, saying, “Questions concerning any diplomatic negotiations need be addressed directly with the U.S. State Department.”

US combat forces unwelcome

However, high-level sources in Washington who deal with Afghanistan confirmed to VOA on condition of anonymity that maintenance of certain military bases in Afghanistan was a top priority for the U.S. government.

Christopher Kolenda, a retired colonel and former Pentagon adviser who held informal talks this year with the Taliban in Doha, told VOA in an earlier interview last month the insurgent group considers U.S. combat troops an occupying force and wants them out.

“Their No. 1 reason for war, their casus belli, if you will, is the occupation. So, they’re not going to just simply say, ‘We’re OK with U.S. combat troops running around Afghanistan.’ Because that’s what they’re fighting to prevent, from their point of view,” he said.

He said the Taliban did show some willingness to allow foreign troops to train Afghan forces, but only if a new government formed after a negotiated settlement, that would likely include the Taliban, agreed to their presence. Speaking to VOA again Friday, he said he was not aware of any U.S. demand at this time to maintain the two bases after a peace agreement.

Following Kolenda’s initial contacts with the Taliban, in which retired U.S. diplomat Robin Raphel also accompanied him, Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia at the U.S. State Department, met Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, in July.

Alice Wells, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, meets with Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss how to ensure peace in Afghanistan following a recent cease-fire between the Taliban and Kabul, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, July 3, 2018.
Alice Wells, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, meets with Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss how to ensure peace in Afghanistan following a recent cease-fire between the Taliban and Kabul, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, July 3, 2018.

The meeting was widely believed to be a response to Taliban demands to negotiate directly with the United States, rather than the Afghan government in Kabul, which they consider a “puppet regime.”

President Ashraf Ghani has offered the Taliban unconditional negotiations anytime, anywhere.

Other Taliban priorities

Prisoner release is another high priority for the Taliban, according to Muzhda.

Reuters reports Taliban officials are preparing a three-to-four member delegation for another round of talks with the United States and want the group’s prisoners freed to “meet again for another great cause.”

The third major demand, an implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law, is more for the optics.

The Taliban accept 80 percent or more of the current Afghan constitution, he said, but think the current constitution was formed under what they term the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.

Khalilullah Safi, an Afghan peace activist who has previously worked with Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international group that has organized several meetings on Afghanistan that included the Taliban, agrees the group largely accepts the Afghan constitution. ​

FILE - Afghan shopkeepers try to recover items from burning shops after a Taliban attack in Ghazni city, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2018.
FILE – Afghan shopkeepers try to recover items from burning shops after a Taliban attack in Ghazni city, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2018. 


Hopes for peace talks received a boost after an unprecedented cease-fire in June this year, on Eid-al-Fitr, a Muslim holy festival marking the end of Ramadan, led to several days of almost calm in the otherwise volatile country.

But violence picked up pace after the cease-fire was over, with the Taliban launching major offensives and putting Afghan security forces under severe pressure.

Safi said one reason for the increase in violence was that the Taliban wanted to prove that a fatwa by up to 2,000 Muslim scholars outlawing suicide bombings and denouncing Taliban violence had no impact on the morale of their cadre.

Others believe the Taliban want to strengthen their position before possible negotiations with the U.S.

US air bases

The Bagram air base, about 60 kilometers north of Kabul, is the largest military base housing U.S. forces in Afghanistan. It includes runways capable of handling aircraft of any size.

When high-level U.S. officials such as the secretaries of state or defense visit Afghanistan, their planes land in Bagram, before taking helicopters from there to Kabul for meetings. The latest such trip was when Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Bagram earlier this month.

Shorabak, a military base in Helmand province in the south of the country, houses U.S. and Afghan forces. The province produces most of the world’s opium. The drug trade helps fuel the insurgency. It is also one of the most volatile provinces with the highest number of casualties among foreign troops.

Suicide attack hits police post in Chabahar

Chabahar in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province is located near the border with Pakistan [Tasnim/Reuters]
Chabahar in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province is located near the border with Pakistan [Tasnim/Reuters]

At least three people have been killed following a suicide car bombing attack near a police post in Iran‘s southern port city of Chabahar, state television Press TV reported, quoting security and local officials.

Press TV quoted Rahmdel Bamari, governor of Sistan and Baluchestan province, as saying that an “explosives-laden vehicle” targeted the police post on Thursday.

“The attacker set off the bomb as soon as he stopped outside Chabahar’s police headquarters,” Bamari said.

Reports say at least 19 people were also hurt, but Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the number of injuries.

Images posted online showed thick smoke rising from the sky in the area where the incident took place.

پايگاه خبری انتخاب@Entekhab_News
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The southeastern port city in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province is located near the border with Pakistan.

It hosts the operation of a joint port project between Iran and India.

Chabahar Port, which is being developed with funding from India, has been described as India’s “golden gateway” that will help boost trade links to land-locked Afghanistan and central Asia, while bypassing its regional rival, Pakistan.

In December 2010, at least 41 people were killed and 90 others were wounded following a suicide attack near a mosque in the city.

That attack was claimed by a Sunni Muslim group called Jundallah, also known as Soldiers of God.

While rare, Iran has been targeted by armed groups in recent years.

In September, gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, killing and wounding dozens. Arab separatist groups and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group both claimed the assault.

Another coordinated assault by ISIL fighters on June 7, 2017 targeted the parliament in Tehran and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, killing at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.


“There Is Only One Truth”, It’s Whatever The Govt Says Is “True”


Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

If you’re one of the millions of human beings who, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, still believe there is such a thing as “the truth,” you might not want to read this essay…

Seriously, it can be extremely upsetting when you discover that there is no “truth” … or rather, that what we’re all conditioned to regard as “truth” from the time we are children is just the product of a technology of power, and not an empirical state of being.

Humans, upon first encountering this fact, have been known to freak completely out and start jabbering about the “Word of God,” or “the immutable laws of quantum physics,” and run around burning other people at the stake or locking them up and injecting them with Thorazine. I don’t want to be responsible for anything like that, so consider this your trigger warning.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at how “truth” is manufactured. It’s actually not that complicated. See, the “truth” is … well, it’s a story, essentially. It’s whatever story we are telling ourselves at any given point in history (“we” being the majority of people, those conforming to the rules of whatever system wields enough power to dictate the story it wants everyone to be telling themselves). Everyone understands this intuitively, but the majority of people pretend they don’t in order to be able to get by in the system, which punishes anyone who does not conform to its rules, or who contradicts its story. So, basically, to manufacture the truth, all you really need is (a) a story, and (b) enough power to coerce a majority of people in your society to pretend to believe it.

I’ll return to this point a little later.

First, let’s look at a concrete example of our system manufacturing “truth.” I’m going to use The Guardian‘s most recent blatantly fabricated article (“Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy“) as an example, but I could just as well have chosen any of a host of other fabricated stories disseminated by “respectable” outlets over the course of the last two years. The “Russian Propaganda Peddlers” story. The “Russia Might Have Poisoned Hillary Clinton” story. The “Russians Hacked the Vermont Power Grid” story. The “Golden Showers Russian Pee-Tape” story. The “Novichok Assassins” story. The “Bana Alabed Speaks Out” story. The “Trump’s Secret Russian Server” story. The “Labour Anti-Semitism Crisis” story. The “Russians Orchestrated Brexit” story. The “Russia is Going to Hack the Midterms” story. The “Twitter Bots” story. And the list goes on.

I’m not going to debunk the Guardian article here. It has been debunked by better debunkers than I (e.g., Jonathan CookCraig MurrayGlenn GreenwaldMoon of Alabama, and many others). The short version is, The Guardian‘s Luke Harding, a shameless hack who will affix his name to any propaganda an intelligence agency feeds him, alleged that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, secretly met with Julian Assange (and unnamed “Russians”) on numerous occasions from 2013 to 2016, presumably to conspire to collude to brainwash Americans into not voting for Clinton. Harding’s earth-shaking allegations, which The Guardianprominently featured and flogged, were based on … well, absolutely nothing, except the usual anonymous “intelligence sources.” After actual journalists pointed this out, The Guardian quietly revised the piece (employing the subjunctive mood rather liberally), buried it in the back pages of its website, and otherwise pretended like they had never published it.

By that time, of course, its purpose had been served. The story had been picked up and disseminated by other “respectable,” “authoritative” outlets, and it was making the rounds on social media. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, in an attempt to counter the above-mentioned debunkers (and dispel the doubts of anyone else still capable of any kind of critical thinking), Politico posted this ass-covering piecespeculating that, if it somehow turned out The Guardian‘s story was just propaganda designed to tarnish Assange and Trump … well, probably, it had been planted by the Russians to make Luke Harding look like a moron. This ass-covering piece of speculative fiction, which was written by a former CIA agent, was immediately disseminated by liberals and “leftists” who are eagerly looking forward to the arrest, rendition, and public crucifixion of Assange.

At this point, I imagine you’re probably wondering what this has to do with manufacturing “truth.”Because, clearly, this Guardian story was a lie … a lie The Guardian got caught telling. I wish the “truth” thing was as simple as that (i.e., exposing and debunking the ruling classes’ lies). Unfortunately, it isn’t. Here is why.

Much as most people would like there to be one (and behave and speak as if there were one), there is no Transcendental Arbiter of Truth. The truth is what whoever has the power to say it is says it is. If we do not agree that that “truth” is the truth, there is no higher court to appeal to. We can argue until we are blue in the face. It will not make the slightest difference. No evidence we produce will make the slightest difference. The truth will remain whatever those with the power to say it is say it is.

Nor are there many truths (i.e., your truth and my truth). There is only one truth … the official truth. The truth according to those in power. This is the whole purpose of the concept of truth. It is the reason the concept of “truth” was invented (i.e., to render any other “truths” lies). It is how those in power control reality and impose their ideology on the masses (or their employees, or their students, or their children). Yes, I know, we very badly want there to be some “objective truth” (i.e., what actually happened, when whatever happened, JFK, 9-11, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Schrödinger’s dead cat, the Big Bang, or whatever). There isn’t. The truth is just a story … a story that is never our story.

The truth is a story that power gets to tell, and that the powerless do not get to tell, unless they tell the story of those in power, which is always someone else’s story. The powerless are either servants of power or they are heretics. There is no third alternative. They either parrot the truth of the ruling classes or they utter heresies of one type or another. Naturally, the powerless do not regard themselves as heretics. They do not regard their “truth” as heresy. They regard their “truth” as the truth, which is heresy. The truth of the powerless is always heresy.

For example, while it may be personally comforting for some of us to tell ourselves that we know the truth about certain subjects (e.g., Russiagate, 9-11, et cetera), and to share our knowledge with others who agree with us, and even to expose the lies of the corporate media on Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs, or in some leftist webzine (or “fearless adversarial” outlet bankrolled by a beneficent oligarch), the ruling classes do not give a shit, because ours is merely the raving of heretics, and does not warrant a serious response.

Or … all right, they give a bit of a shit, enough to try to cover their asses when a journalist of the stature of Glenn Greenwald (who won a Pulitzer and is frequently on television) very carefully and very respectfully almost directly accuses them of lying. But they give enough of a shit to do this because Greenwald has the power to hurt them, not because of any regard for the truth. This is also why Greenwald has to be so careful and respectful when directly confronting The Guardian, or any other corporate media outlet, and state that their blatantly fabricated stories could, theoretically, turn out to be true. He can’t afford to cross the line and end up getting branded a heretic and consigned to Outer Mainstream Darkness, like Robert Fisk, Sy Hersh, Jonathan Cook, John Pilger, Assange, and other such heretics.

Look, I’m not trying to argue that it isn’t important to expose the fabrications of the corporate media and the ruling classes. It is terribly important. It is mostly what I do (albeit usually in a more satirical fashion). At the same time, it is important to realize that “the truth” is not going to “rouse the masses from their slumber” and inspire them to throw off their chains. People are not going to suddenly “wake up,” “see the truth” and start “the revolution.” People already know the truth … the official truth, which is the only truth there is. Those who are conforming to it are doing so, not because they are deceived, but because it is safer and more rewarding to do so.

And this is why The Guardian will not be punished for publishing a blatantly fabricated story. Nor will Luke Harding be penalized for writing it. Luke Harding will be rewarded for writing it, as he has been handsomely rewarded throughout his career for loyally serving the ruling classes. Greenwald, on the other hand, is on thin ice. It will be instructive to see how far he pushes his confrontation with The Guardianregarding this story.

As for Julian Assange, I’m afraid he is done for. The ruling classes really have no choice but to go ahead and do him at this point. He hasn’t left them any other option. Much as they are loathe to create another martyr, they can’t have heretics of Assange’s notoriety running around punching holes in their “truth” and brazenly defying their authority. That kind of stuff unsettles the normals, and it sets a bad example for the rest of us heretics

The 2nd. US/British War of Colonialism…this time “The Colonies” Are In the Middle East

Britain, America and the battle for mastery of the Middle East


 The legacy of the countries’ rivalry lives on in today’s bitter struggles for influence in the region and the fight for its resources

SAUDI-US-DIPLOMACY : News PhotoA billboard in Riyadh in May 2017 welcoming Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia for his summit with King Salman © New York Times/Redux/Eyevine


David Gardner, NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Anthony Eden, the British prime minister whose career crashed when the US pulled the plug on the 1956 Anglo-French campaign to reclaim the Suez Canal, recalled in retirement a conversation he had with his Conservative colleague Enoch Powell. Powell, who came across as somewhat unhinged long before his poisonous “Rivers of Blood” jeremiad on immigration, said to Eden in the late 1940s: “I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans.” Eden was nonplussed. “You know, I had no idea what he meant.” He and other British leaders, emerging from the second world war victorious but in penury, would find out over the following three decades of postwar Anglo-American rivalry for control of the region and its oil — even if some of them, living in the imperial past such as Eden, were slow on the uptake. The competition was under way by 1945, when Franklin D Roosevelt, on his way home from the Yalta summit with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, met Abdulaziz ibn Saud — king of Saudi Arabia, the land to which he gave his family name — on a US warship midway up the Suez Canal. Having settled the disposition of postwar Europe, FDR laid a foundation stone of the postwar Middle East: the US would shelter the kingdom that Ibn Saud had recently united by the sword under its security umbrella; the Saudis would make sure oil flowed westwards freely and at reasonable prices. To this day, the Wahhabi kingdom, with its petrodollar-fired gaudiness abroad and its absolutist puritanism at home, has been a cornerstone of Middle East policy for every US president and British prime minister. That celebrated meeting between FDR and Ibn Saud sealed a bargain that began two years before, when Roosevelt in 1943 made non-belligerent Saudi Arabia eligible for US aid under the wartime Lend-Lease Act. FDR’S move followed his discovery that Churchill was using Lend-Lease funds — which funnelled American aid to the Allies before the US entered the war — to bolster Britain’s position in the Middle East, setting the stage for an epic rivalry. As James Barr narrates in Lords of the Desert, the UK was using this American money to upgrade its oil facilities in Iran and Iraq, as well as to curry favour with Ibn Saud, in whose kingdom the US had its biggest oil concession.

Roosevelt soon had had enough of British middlemen taking credit and extended Lend-Lease directly to the Saudis. “I hereby find the defence of Saudi Arabia vital to the defence of the US,” he declared — pretty much the position ever since. Donald Trump’s bizarre statement last week — essentially saying that any responsibility that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had in October’s gruesome murder in Istanbul of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi took second place to his promise to buy $110bn in US arms — may reflect the transactional crudeness and Twitter-ish syntax of this president. But it is not so very far from the practices of his predecessors. James Barr — author of A Line in the Sand, an account of Britain and France’s earlier attempts to carve up the Middle East and each other — has written another riveting history, masterfully arrayed and engagingly written. Like a good conversation, it is full of great anecdotes that even those who know this story might have missed. Anglo-American connivance in 1953 to bring down the elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh, a secular nationalist who had presumed to nationalise Iran’s oil industry, gives a false impression of shared interests in the region. In reality, the British and Americans were already battling each other up dune and down wadi. It was, of course, a British government that issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 that would eventually lead to the Jews establishing the state of Israel in Palestine after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. But the UK and US were often at loggerheads in the postwar run-up to the creation of Israel. Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor and, for mainly US electoral reasons, a Zionist supporter, was almost caught lying about the commitments to the Arabs that FDR had given Ibn Saud — who threatened to publish the minutes. This opened a flank for the British. The to and fro worked both ways. Clement Attlee’s Labour government was anxious to be rid of its Palestine mandate but bearing down hard on Jewish paramilitary attacks against its local forces.

The ferocity of Truman’s criticism forced Attlee to reveal to parliament links between the Jewish Agency (Israel’s government-in-waiting), the Haganah (its embryonic army) and the Irgun, the terrorist group led by Menachem Begin, the future Israeli prime minister. Barr says the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel, Britain’s HQ in Jerusalem, in July 1946, killing 91 people, to bury proof of these links that it believed was still held there. In the rest of the Middle East, the US played the card of self-determination, just as it had under President Woodrow Wilson after the first world war — though it was careful to ensure that the freedom of local peoples from clapped-out colonialism was in pragmatic alignment with American interests. Thus, Washington would dally with Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s nationalism in Egypt, which had no oil and where this would spite the British; but suppress the nationalism of Mossadegh in Iran, which was awash in oil. Neither side in the battle for power in the Middle East emerges with glory. They leaked and lied, and vetoed each other at the UN Security Council There was a brief window when nationalists in the region hoped to link up with a benevolent western power that would help them resist or overcome colonialism and open a path to modernity. That story came to an end with the 1953 coup in Iran. Initially reluctant to see Mossadegh as a communist pawn and rightly suspicious that Britain was recruiting the US to protect its most valuable overseas investment, the US, in the grip of McCarthyite anti-Red hysteria, quickly succumbed to a formulaic cold war approach that saw emerging Soviet satellites everywhere. But Barr shows that antagonism towards Britain was at least an equivalent organising principle. The State Department and the CIA combined to unravel London’s attempt to create a UK-aligned Greater Syria under Hashemite rivals to the House of Saud in the 1950s. Dwight Eisenhower all but finished off the British empire by forcing Eden to withdraw from Egypt in the 1956 Suez crisis. There was something almost otherworldly about Eden, until recently considered Britain’s worst postwar prime minister. As he outlined the Anglo-French military operation to topple Nasser, he told Cabinet: “As on previous occasions the United States would follow our lead if we took it.” Neither side in the “great game” that Britain and the US played out across the postwar Middle East emerges with glory. They leaked and lied, and vetoed each other at the UN Security Council. Both sides exhibited a casual racial supremacism towards Arabs, Jews and Persians. The British, who dubbed the US-backed 1953 coup in Iran “Operation Boot” and the Suez conspiracy “Operation Musketeer”, sometimes seem to leap from the pages of Evelyn Waugh. But many larger-than-life figures leap from Barr’s pages. A good specimen is Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt. The grandson of the swashbuckling president Theodore Roosevelt, and cousin of FDR, was a CIA agent, masquerading as a gentleman journalist, who organised coups, exploited dynastic rivalries and seeded revolts. He drove from Beirut to Tehran with a car full of cash for the Iran coup. He hid in Nasser’s bedroom once when the British ambassador arrived unexpectedly. The CIA funded the Voice of the Arabs radio station, Nasser’s intoxicating regional propaganda arm, until the US reclassified the Egyptian leader from George Washington of the Middle East to Arab Lenin. The contemporary great game playing out bloodily across the Middle East, between oil-fired theocracies in Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, is the subject of the prolific Dilip Hiro’s latest book, Cold War in the Islamic World. He tells the story with relish. The schism between Sunni Muslims and Shia — a minority of perhaps 250m of the estimated 1.6bn Muslims worldwide — dates back to the dawn of Islam. When Saudi Arabia and Iran were both monarchies, they rubbed along easily enough. The overthrow of the Shah in Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution changed all that.

The House of Saud was already under attack at home from Sunni extremists without Tehran now seeking to export its Shia radicalism. Saudi rulers reacted by using their vastly increased oil wealth to export the radical bigotry of Wahhabi Islam. This has done untold damage to Muslim culture worldwide and, coupled with Tehran’s regional adventurism, has seeded proxy wars across the Middle East. The Saudis and their Gulf allies, egged on by the west, bankrolled Saddam Hussein’s 1980 invasion of Iran — standing aside as Iraq rained chemical weapons on Iran’s troops and missiles on its cities during the ensuing war. Tehran developed its nuclear capability in response to that, rather than Israel, as Hiro rightly points out. Under regional and international siege, it has withstood all enemies. The Saudis and their allies have no answer to Iran’s winning formula of militias and missiles. Admittedly, Iran has been lucky in its enemies. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, greenlighted by Washington, enabled it to develop Hizbollah, its paramilitary spearhead in the Levant. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 installed by a mix of happenstance and carnage Shia governance in an Arab heartland country for the first time in centuries, rekindling the embers of Sunni-Shia enmity. The dark side of the so-called Arab Spring loosed a sectarian whirlwind across the region of which Iran has taken cynical advantage — though it genuinely believes its forward positions in Arab countries are lines of defence. The ayatollahs wield power ruthlessly. But in Saudi Arabia the Wahhabi clerical establishment pours out sectarian venom enjoining the faithful to spurn the infidel and combat the (Shia) idolater. Among the many acts of political arson committed by Trump, taking the Sunni side in this bitter dispute ranks among the most wilful.

Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East, by James Barr, Basic Books RRP$32, 432 pages

Cold War in the Islamic World: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Struggle for Supremacy, by Dilip Hiro, Hurst RRP£25, 320 pages David Gardner is the FT’s international affairs editor

US DECLARATION OF ECONOMIC WAR–Trump and Bin Salman Preserve “New World Order”, Call It “Liberal”

“we are rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order”

[What the hell does noble nations mean?]


Restoring the Role of the Nation-State in the Liberal International Order

Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
German Marshall Fund
Brussels, Belgium
December 4, 2018

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Ian, for the kind introduction. Good morning to all of you; thank you for joining me here today. It’s wonderful to be in this beautiful place, to get a chance to make a set of remarks about the very work that you do, the issues that confront the Marshall Fund and confront our region as well.Before I start today with my formal remarks, it would be – I would be enormously remiss if I did not pay a well-deserved tribute to America’s 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a – many of you know him. He was an unyielding champion of freedom around the world — first as a fighter pilot in World War II, later as a congressman. He was the ambassador to the United Nations, and then an envoy to China. He then had the same job I had as the director of the CIA – I did it longer than he did. He was then the vice president under Ronald Reagan.

I got to know him some myself. He was a wonderful brother, a father, a grandfather, and a proud American. Indeed, America is the only country he loved more than Texas. (Laughter.)

I actually think that he would be delighted for me to be here today at an institution named after a fellow lover of freedom, George Marshall. And he would have been thrilled to see all of you here, such a large crowd gathered who are dedicated to transatlantic bonds, so many decades after they were first forged.

The men who rebuilt Western civilization after World War II, like my predecessor Secretary Marshall, knew that only strong U.S. leadership, in concert with our friends and allies, could unite the sovereign nations all around the globe.

So we underwrote new institutions to rebuild Europe and Japan, to stabilize currencies, and to facilitate trade. We all co-founded NATO to guarantee security for ourselves and our allies. We entered into treaties to codify Western values of freedom and human rights.

Collectively, we convened multilateral organizations to promote peace and cooperation among states. And we worked hard – indeed, tirelessly – to preserve Western ideals because, as President Trump made clear in his Warsaw address, each of those are worth preserving.

This American leadership allowed us to enjoy the greatest human flourishing in modern history. We won the Cold War. We won the peace. With no small measure of George H. W. Bush’s effort, we reunited Germany. This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting.

After the Cold War ended, we allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode. It failed us in some places, and sometimes it failed you and the rest of the world. Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.

Was that ever really true? The central question that we face is that – is the question of whether the system as currently configured, as it exists today, and as the world exists today – does it work? Does it work for all the people of the world?

Today at the United Nations, peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace. The UN’s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations as simply a vehicle to redistribute wealth. Anti-Israel bias has been institutionalized. Regional powers collude to vote the likes of Cuba and Venezuela onto the Human Rights Council. The UN was founded as an organization that welcomed peace-loving nations. I ask: Today, does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?

In the Western Hemisphere, has enough been done with the Organization of American States to promote its four pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and economic development in a region that includes the likes of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua?

In Africa, does the African Union advance the mutual interest of its nation-state members?

For the business community, from which I came, consider this: The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were chartered to help rebuild war-torn territories and promote private investment and growth. Today, these institutions often counsel countries who have mismanaged their economic affairs to impose austerity measures that inhibit growth and crowd out private sector actors.

Here in Brussels, the European Union and its predecessors have delivered a great deal of prosperity to the entire continent. Europe is America’s single largest trading partner, and we benefit enormously from your success. But Brexit – if nothing else – was a political wake-up call. Is the EU ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats here in Brussels?

These are valid questions. This leads to my next point: Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain. This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat. President Trump is determined to reverse that.

China’s economic development did not lead to an embrace of democracy and regional stability; it led to more political repression and regional provocations. We welcomed China into the liberal order, but never policed its behavior.

China has routinely exploited loopholes in the World Trade Organization rules, imposed market restrictions, forced technology transfers, and stolen intellectual property. And it knows that world opinion is powerless to stop its Orwellian human rights violations.

Iran didn’t join the community of nations after the nuclear deal was inked; it spread its newfound riches to terrorists and to dictators.

Tehran holds multiple American hostages, and Bob Levinson has been missing there for 11 years. Iran has blatantly disregarded UN Security Council resolutions, lied to the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors about its nuclear program, and evaded UN sanctions. Just this past week, Iran test fired a ballistic missile, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Earlier this year, Tehran used the U.S.-Iran Treaty of Amity to bring baseless claims against the United States before the International Court of Justice – most all of this malign activity during the JCPOA.

Russia. Russia hasn’t embraced Western values of freedom and international cooperation. Rather, it has suppressed opposition voices and invaded the sovereign nations of Georgia and of Ukraine.

Moscow has also deployed a military-grade nerve agent on foreign soil, right here in Europe, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention to which it is a party. And as I’ll detail later today, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty for many years.

The list goes on. We have to account for the world order of today in order to chart the way forward. It is what America’s National Security Strategy deemed “principled realism.” I like to think of it as “common sense.”

Every nation – every nation – must honestly acknowledge its responsibilities to its citizens and ask if the current international order serves the good of its people as well as it could. And if not, we must ask how we can right it.

This is what President Trump is doing. He is returning the United States to its traditional, central leadership role in the world. He sees the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. He knows that nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests. He knows, as George H.W. Bush knew, that a safer world has consistently demanded American courage on the world stage. And when we – and when we all of us ignore our responsibilities to the institutions we’ve formed, others will abuse them.

Critics in places like Iran and China – who really are undermining the international order – are saying the Trump administration is the reason this system is breaking down. They claim America is acting unilaterally instead of multilaterally, as if every kind of multilateral action is by definition desirable. Even our European friends sometimes say we’re not acting in the world’s interest. This is just plain wrong.

Our mission is to reassert our sovereignty, reform the liberal international order, and we want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty as well. We aspire to make the international order serve our citizens – not to control them. America intends to lead – now and always.

Under President Trump, we are not abandoning international leadership or our friends in the international system. Indeed, quite the contrary. Just look, as one example, at the historic number of countries which have gotten on board our pressure campaign against North Korea. No other nation in the world could have rallied dozens of nations, from every corner of the world, to impose sanctions on the regime in Pyongyang.

International bodies must help facilitate cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world, or they must be reformed or eliminated.

When treaties are broken, the violators must be confronted, and the treaties must be fixed or discarded. Words should mean something.

Our administration is thus lawfully exiting or renegotiating outdated or harmful treaties, trade agreements, and other international arrangements that do not serve our sovereign interests, or the interests of our allies.

We announced our intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, absent better terms for the United States. The current pact would’ve siphoned money from American paychecks and enriched polluters like China.

In America, we’ve found a better solution – we think a better solution for the world. We’ve unleashed our energy companies to innovate and compete, and our carbon emissions have declined dramatically.

We changed course from the Iran deal, because of, among other things, Tehran’s violent and destabilizing activities, which undermined the spirit of the deal and put the safety of American people and our allies at risk. In its place, we are leading our allies to constrain Iran’s revolutionary ambitions and end Iran’s campaigns of global terrorism. And we needn’t a new bureaucracy to do it. We need to continue to develop a coalition which will achieve that outcome which will keep people in the Middle East, in Europe, and the entire world safe from the threat from Iran.

America renegotiated our treaty, NAFTA, to advance the interests of the American worker. President Trump proudly signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the G20 this past weekend in Buenos Aires, and on Friday will submit it to the Congress, a body accountable to the American people.

The new agreement also includes renegotiation provisions, because no trade agreement is permanently suited to all times.

We have encouraged our G20 partners to reform the WTO, and they took a good first step in Buenos Aires this last week.

I spoke earlier about the World Bank and the IMF. The Trump Administration is working to refocus these institutions on policies that promote economic prosperity, pushing to halt lending to nations that can already access global capital markets – countries like China – and pressing to reduce taxpayer handouts to development banks that are perfectly capable of raising private capital on their own.

We’re also taking leadership, real action to stop rogue international courts, like the International Criminal Court, from trampling on our sovereignty – your sovereignty – and all of our freedoms. The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor is trying to open an investigation into U.S. personnel in connection with the war in Afghanistan. We will take all necessary steps to protect our people, those of our NATO allies who fight alongside of us inside of Afghanistan from unjust prosecution. Because we know that if it can happen to our people, it can happen to yours too. It is a worthy question: Does the court continue to serve its original intended purpose?

The first two years of the Trump administration demonstrate that President Trump is not undermining these institutions, nor is he abandoning American leadership. Quite the opposite. In the finest traditions of our great democracy, we are rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order that prevents war and achieves greater prosperity for all.

We’re supporting institutions that we believe can be improved; institutions that work in American interests – and yours – in service of our shared values.

For example, here in Belgium in 1973, banks from 15 countries formed SWIFT to develop common standards for cross-border payments, and it’s now an integral part of our global financial infrastructure.

SWIFT recently disconnected sanctioned Iranian banks from its platform because of the unacceptable risk they pose to a system – to the system as a whole. This is an excellent example of American leadership working alongside an international institution to act responsibly.

Another example: the Proliferation Security Initiative, formed by 11 nations under the Bush administration to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. It has since grown organically to 105 countries and has undoubtedly made the world safer.

And I can’t forget, standing here, one of the most important international institutions of them all – which will continue to thrive with American leadership. My very first trip, within hours of having been sworn in as a secretary of state, I traveled here to visit with our NATO allies. I’ll repeat this morning what I said then – this is an indispensable institution. President Trump wants everyone to pay their fair share so we can deter our enemies and defend people – the people of our countries.

To that end, all NATO allies should work to strengthen what is already the greatest military alliance in all of history.

Never – never – has an alliance ever been so powerful or so peaceful, and our historic ties must continue.

To that end, I’m pleased to announce that I will host my foreign minister colleagues for a meeting in Washington next April, where we will mark NATO’s 70th anniversary.

As my remarks come to a close, I want to repeat what George Marshall told the UN General Assembly back near the time of its formation in 1948. He said, quote, “International organizations cannot take the place of national and personal effort or of local and individual imagination; international action cannot replace self-help.” End of quote.

Sometimes it’s not popular to buck the status quo, to call out that which we all see but sometimes refuse to speak about. But frankly, too much is at stake for all of us in this room today not to do so. This is the reality that President Trump so viscerally understands.

Just as George Marshall’s generation gave life to a new vision for a safe and free world, so we call on you to have the same kind of boldness. Our call is especially urgent – especially urgent in light of the threats we face from powerful countries and actors whose ambition is to reshape the international order in its own illiberal image.

Let’s work together. Let’s work together to preserve the free world so that it continues to serve the interests of the people to whom we each are accountable.

Let’s do so in a way that creates international organizations that are agile, that respect national sovereignty, that deliver on their stated missions, and that create value for the liberal order and for the world.

President Trump understands deeply that when America leads, peace and prosperity almost certainly follow.

He knows that if America and our allies here in Europe don’t lead, others will choose to do so.

America will, as it has always done, continue to work with our allies around the world towards the peaceful, liberal order each citizen of the world deserves.

Thank you for joining me here today. May the Good Lord bless each and every one of you. Thank you. (Applause.)

Anti-Taliban Faction 2nd In Command, Who Called Afghan Peace Talks “A Lie”, Assassinated By Drone Strike Today

Taliban Splinter Faction Says Moscow Meeting Was A “Lie”

A splinter faction of the Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, said on Sunday the recent Moscow meeting on peace in Afghanistan was a “lie”.–11 NOVEMBER 2018 

Mullah Mohammad Rahim Mannan, also known as Mullah Abdul mannan Akhund, was killed on Saturday in Helmand’s Nawzad district in a drone strike.–Killing Of Key Taliban Commander May Affect War–3 DECEMBER 2018

TOLO NEWS Identifies Mullah Rasoul Faction As Pro-Peace Talks vs Pro-Pakistani Taliban of Mullah MansourJan 21, 2016

Taliban: Mullah Zakir denies reports he called for negotiations with the West–April 11, 2016

November 8, 2015

 — A new Taliban splinter faction claimed Sunday that it was ready to engage in peace talks with the government and that it would allow women to be educated and to work. If genuine, this suggests a distinct split with the insurgents’ core leadership.“We have realized this now, that under an Islamic system all rights of human beings — both men and women — need to be implemented 100 percent,” Abdul Manan Niazi, the deputy head of the breakaway group, told the BBC’s Dari service.


“The Pakistani Taliban are the key to the entire psyop.  Understanding who they actually are and what master they really serve is vital to understanding what is going down in the homeland of the “Islamic bomb.”

The Tehreek Taliban emerged from S. Punjab, spreading from there to S. Waziristan.  Contrary to popular deceptions, they are an “anti-Taliban” force.  Like everything else in Pakistan, they were meant to play a “double-game,” pretending to be part of the real Pashtun Afghan Taliban, while waging war in secret upon them.  Musharraf and his generals created this “Taliban” force that was not really Taliban, by utilizing “Islamists,” who were not really Muslims.  They were created to serve as a safe “loyal opposition,” who pretended to wage a fake war of terror for American audiences, without risking a fight with real rogue terror groups.  The plan was to use military men to lead the criminal gangs of real revolutionaries and ordinary rabble,

The Tehreek Taliban are not really “Taliban,” they are more accurately described as a      counter-Taliban force, an “anti-Taliban.”  Like all the real Taliban, they follow a counterfeit Saudi Wahabi version of Islam.  Unlike the real Afghan Taliban, their warped Wahabi Islam has been blended with another, even more radical “Islam” from India, Deobandi Islam.  The result is the most sectarian bloodthirsty form of Sunni Islam yet devised, to them, anyone who doesn’t follow this perverse Wahabi-Deobandi fusion, just like them, is “Kfir,” the unbelievers.  We are discussing the religious faith of people like Baitullah and Hakeemullah Mehsud, the same people who are now waging war in Pakistan.”– Waging War Upon Ourselves

Pakistan Police Arrest 1100 Islamist Supporters of Radical Cleric Leader of “Blasphemy” Protests

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Police in an ongoing crackdown arrested some 1100 supporters of a detained radical Islamic cleric, who disrupted daily life with nationwide rallies following the acquittal of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, officials said Saturday.

Senior police officer Tahir Mahmood said that supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party were picked up in sweeps across the country, mainly in Punjab province, following the arrest of its leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Mahmood said police teams raided Labbaik party seminaries, the homes of party leaders and supporters and hiding places to net them.

He said police also arrested scores of Rizvi’s supporters as they took to streets to protest his overnight arrest. He said most of the arrested men were sent to prison for one month. He added that those charged with violence and arson in their protests over Asia Bibi’s acquittal would be dealt with according to relevant laws.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the current crackdown on Labbaik party supporters has nothing to do with Asia Bibi’s case. He said the arrests are being made to contain those exploiting the situation in the name of religion to gain political strength.

Rizvi’s supporters held violent rallies against the Supreme Court’s Oct. 31 acquittal of Bibi. Rizvi has called for more protests on Sunday in the capital, Islamabad. Pre-empting the possible protest, police in the capital have set up security posts near a vital intersection that connects the capital with the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Rizvi and his supporters earlier this year blocked that intersection for 20 days protesting the change of a religious reference in a parliamentary document. That protest led to the resignation of the law minister of previous government.

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2017 file photo, the head of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Labbaik radical religious party, Khadim Hussain Rizvi prays during a sit-in protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. The party of a radical Islamic cleric who disrupted daily life with rallies across Pakistan following the acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case says he has been arrested Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 by police in the city of Lahore. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash, file)Pakistan’s hard-line Islamists have threatened to kill anyone who insults Islam or speaks out against the country’s blasphemy laws.

US Airstrike Kills Leader of Anti-Taliban Faction, Brother of Taliban Founder, Mullah Omar

[SEE: Mullah Omar’s Son, Mohammad Yaqoub, and His Brother, Abdul Manan Akhund, Reject Pakistan’s Puppet, Mullah Mansour]

[Now that Washington is playing the Taliban negotiations in Qatar game with half the Afghan Taliban, the Mullah Akhtar faction, they have once again turned towards the elimination of the leadership of the anti-Akhtar faction, led by Guantanamo alumni, Mullah Rasoul/Zakir.]

[SEE: NYT Highlights Taliban Split and Afghan Govt Sponsorship of Mullah Rasoul Faction–(updated)]

[SEE: Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?]

[SEE: Pakistan Arrests Mullah Rasoul After He Outs CIA/ISI Taliban Mansour]

Key Afghanistan Taliban commander killed in US air strike

Afghan security officials in Helmand on 2 December 2018Image copyrightEPA
Security has been stepped up in the aftermath of the killing of Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund 

One of the Taliban’s most senior commanders has been killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan.

Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund was the Taliban’s “governor” and military chief for the southern Helmand province.

He was killed in the Nawzad district of Helmand on Saturday night, provincial officials said.

The Taliban said his death was a “major loss” but it would not deter them in their efforts to take back control of Afghanistan.

But Afghan interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told the AFP news agency his death was a major blow to the Taliban and would “lower the moral” of its fighters in southern Afghanistan.

Helmand is where British troops were based for eight years before ground troops were withdrawn in 2014. Large parts of the province are now back under Taliban control.

The BBC was given rare access to see life under the Taliban in 2017

BBC research earlier this year showed Taliban insurgents control more territory in the country than at any time since 2014.

It is estimated that about 15 million people – half the population – are living in areas that are either controlled by the Taliban or where its fighters are openly present and regularly mount attacks.

However, there have been intense efforts to persuade the Taliban to begin peace talks to end the fighting. It sent delegates to a meeting in Russia last month to discuss the issue, but has refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government.

Highest-Ranking US Admiral In Mideast, Allegedly “Commits Suicide” In Saudi-Dominated Bahrain

Scott Stearney, Top U.S. Naval Commander In Middle East, Found Dead In Bahrain

No foul play is suspected in the vice-admiral’s death, Navy officials said.


Vice-admiral Scott Stearney, the head of U.S. Navy operations in the Middle East, was found dead on Saturday in his residence in Bahrain, according to the Navy.

Defense officials said an investigation had been launched into Stearney’s death, though no foul play is suspected. Officials told CBS News that the death was being treated as an “apparent suicide.”

Stearney, who the Navy Times said was 58 at the time of his death, took charge of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command in May. He oversaw U.S. naval operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, which includes more than 20,000 U.S. and allied forces, The New York Times reported.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, pic

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, pictured in Bahrain on October 24, 2018. Stearney was found dead in his residence in the Gulf country on Saturday. 


Adm. John M. Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said in a Saturday statement that the deputy commander of the Fifth Fleet, Rear Adm. Paul J. Schlise, had assumed command.

“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at Fifth Fleet and the entire Navy,” Richardson said. “Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all of us.”

Embedded video

Adm. John Richardson


Team, it’s my sad duty to inform you that today the Secretary of the Navy and I were informed that Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, our commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and commander of U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, was found deceased in his residence in Bahrain today.

Stearney, a Chicago native, joined the Navy in 1982 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame, according to his Navy biography. An FA-18 fighter pilot who accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours, Stearney served as a Top Gun instructor, a chief of staff of Joint Task Force 435 in Afghanistan and commander at U.S. Transportation Command, Strike Force Training Atlantic and Navy Warfare Development Command, among other notable stints.

“America’s Khashoggi” (Murder By Govt. Torturers) Was Named Gul Rahman, and He Was Afghani

The CIA Tortured An Afghan Suspect To Death But Refuses To Say Where His Body Is

Sixteen years ago, the CIA detained and tortured Gul Rahman until he died of hypothermia — but the agency never notified his family he died in its custody.

October 2002 was the last time Gul Rahman’s family ever saw their father, dead or alive. Little did they realize that the Afghan citizen, who was residing in a refugee camp in Peshwar, Pakistan, at the time with his family, was taken by Central Intelligence officers to a secret prison over 40 miles away near the Afghanistan capital.

It was inside this clandestine facility, also known as the Salt Pit, where Rahman was chained up, interrogated and tortured for three weeks. He was also deprived of food and sleep, made to stand for days and was drenched with freezing water until he showed signs of hypothermia. For the almost the entire time he was held, Rahman was either fully naked, naked below the waist, or naked except for a diaper he wore.

Rahman remained in those conditions until he died of hypothermia on Nov. 20, 2002. His body was found early that morning, still shackled, nude from the waist down on the concrete prison floor where temperatures dropped to almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit that night.

His family, who still believed he was still alive and just missing at the time, wouldn’t find out for over 16 years that Rahman was actually dead. It was only in December 2014, during the release of the declassified executive summary of a 6,000-page report titled the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program did the CIA confirm that  Rahman died while in their custody. The agency, however, did not mention where his remains were and now his family cannot bury their family member.

What this lawsuit would give [the family] is some kind of closure and the basic decency that the CIA has denied them for so long by just making him disappear.Dror Ladin, staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Security Project

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the family is now suing the CIA in order to find out exactly what happened to Rahman’s body. The family, who is being represented by Rahman’s nephew, Obaid Ullah, hope to receive their uncle’s body in order host a burial and finally some closure after over a decade of silence from the American government.

“I think everyone can understand the agony across any culture of not having your loved ones’ remains and not being able to bury them,” Dror Ladin, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Security Project, told HuffPost. “Throughout history, people have gone through extraordinary lengths to get the remains of their loved ones back. For them, it’s this open wound that they still can’t bury him. It’s a piece of them. It’s just really, really hard. What this lawsuit would give them is some kind of closure and the basic decency that the CIA has denied them for so long by just making him disappear.”

The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Rahman’s family and the ACLU demands “the CIA to immediately to produce all records” in regards to Rahman’s death and information about his remains.

The CIA has not responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.

“For the longest time, the CIA has relied on secrecy to cover up lies and abuse and this is another extreme example of that,” Ladin said. “Everyone knows that Gul Rahman was killed. Everyone knows he died in CIA custody. The CIA itself has admitted it. The CIA has admitted it made a mistake and not held anyone accountable and the CIA has admitted that killing Gul Rahman was wrong but even so they still kept this key piece of information secret.”

Prior to this lawsuit, Ullah and the ACLU filed an earlier lawsuit alongside two surviving former Salt Pit prisoners in 2015 against the two contract psychologists who designed the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. During the pretrial, the defendants alleged that Rahman was an enemy combatant but presented no evidence to support that claim. The lawsuit was settled in August of last year in which the CIA confirmed that Rahman was tortured and assaulted by the intelligence officers which “resulted in his death and pain and suffering to his family.” There was no mention of his remains.

“I have faith that people in America will know the right thing for their government to do is to tell me and my family what happened to my father’s body,” Hajira Hematyara, Rahman’s daughter, said in an ACLU press release. “Only then will we be able to do right by my father and give him a proper funeral.”