In Kerry’s Own Words: Syria Prohibited from Attacking al-Qaeda

It turns out that one of the US demands was that the Syrian air force must be prohibited from attacking the Al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria). Crazy conspiracy theory? Listen to John Kerry’s own words at the UN yesterday:

Kerry argued at the UN that it would be impossible to separate Washington’s “moderates” from al-Qaeda while al-Qaeda was under attack:

Now, I have said to Russia many times it’s very hard to separate people when they are being bombed indiscriminately and when Assad has the right to determine who he’s going to bomb, because he can, quote, ‘go after Nusrah’ but go after the opposition at the same time because he wants to.

Does this make any sense? It seem much more logical to argue that the threat of being bombed alongside al-Qaeda would be the greatest incentive for “moderates” to separate themselves from al-Qaeda as soon as possible!

You would think Washington would tell its “moderates”: “You must cease and desist from fighting alongside al-Qaeda in Syria within the next 48 hours or you will yourselves become targets of Syrian, Russian, and coalition planes.”

Instead Washington argues that because its “moderates” refuse to separate from al-Qaeda the Russians and Syrians must stop attacking al-Qaeda!

George W. Bush famously said, “either you’re with us, or you are with the terrorists.” But what happens when Washington itself is “with the terrorists”?

By Daniel McAdams

This article was originally published on ronpaulinstitute.org. Read the original article here

A Veteran’s Perspective On War

A Moral Case for the Warfare State?

When can war be morally justified? Libertarians will typically draw from a broad range of non-interventionist philosophical thoughts ranging from total pacifism to defensive-only measures of varying degrees.  One side believes that steadfast, “turn the other cheek” pacifism has little utility in an increasingly globalized world. Yet the other side of the coin is equally difficult to digest.  What is to be said for the neoconservative war hawk’s “shoot first” foreign policy; is it any more easily justifiable?

Veterans in particular have a fairly accepting view of war.  Often in the military community, it’s seen as the logical means to achieving a secure homeland. The argument goes that without a large and advanced military, we would fall behind the power curve of the most elite militaries and they would subsequently burn our cities and loot our coffers.  Obviously, this is a logical leap.  The need for an advanced military only arises as war itself does.  Remaining on the cutting edge of military technology suggests that we walk the razor’s edge of war and peace at any given moment.  Some may argue that this is our reality, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

Preparedness is, of course, important.  However, Seymour Melman, a Columbia University professor focusing much of his time on the warfare state’s effect on the economy, found that the US of the 1960’s had the equivalent of 6 tons of TNT per person on the planet.  He wondered, “Have we become more secure than when we had only 1 ton of TNT per human being on earth?”  Naturally, we haven’t.  What we have become is poorer and simultaneously more accepting of the pulsating mass that is the modern warfare state.  The distortion that the “overkill” material Melman reference’s has on the economy is profound.  Imagine the possibilities for innovation that would be possible, if not for the time and effort wasted on militaristic chest beating. Beyond that, shouldn’t we question how the stockpiling of such armaments and their distribution in strategic areas around the world impacts our chances of peace with other powers?

Historically, James Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution”, was resolutely against standing armies.  In his opinion, the threat of a military that could act at any given moment at the sole discretion of the federal government was a recipe for tyranny. As a matter of fact, non-interventionism is the true militaristic history of this country.  Even the World Wars of the early and mid twentieth century had huge numbers of dissenters, such as the recently repopularized America First movement”.  As Tom Woods notes on his podcast, even Pat Buchanan began questioning the military leviathan after the collapse of the USSR.  What need do we have as American’s to have troops stationed on every inhabitable continent on the world; does this really make us safer since the fall of the Red Army?

My “Come to Jesus” Moment

When September 11, 2001 happened, I was a 5th grader playing on the playground.  Almost to the day a decade later, I found myself in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps as a truck driver providing security for Afghan owned-and-operated civilian fuel trucks.  It was the Wild West to 20 year old me, and I loved it.  Our mission was to ensure the safe movement of fuel and other gear from base to base.  The Taliban, whose mission seemingly paralleled that of Osama bin Laden, would rarely bother targeting the local drivers, but would rather hit the tanks of the thin-skinned trucks.  They knew the absurd costs of fuel we paid, and that we expected losses on every mission.  The irony of millions of American dollars being soaked up by Afghan sand as we worked to plug holes with torn rags wasn’t lost on me even then.  Yet, I had no question about the infallibility of American foreign policy at the time, or the good we were doing for our countrymen by being there.  That has since changed.

The abject poverty experienced by the average Afghan in the Helmand province is astonishing.  There, the humanity of the perceived enemy became real to me.  Intel briefs prior to our arrival, and ‘in country’, suggested that many of the combatants we engaged weren’t actually Taliban, and surely weren’t al-Qaeda.  They were often average Afghan’s either coerced into taking up arms to protect their families from the Taliban’s threats, or simply defending their villages from occupiers they didn’t want around.  It changed my perspective on a war seemingly no one there could rationalize.

In Marc Guttman’s book “Why Peace?” Alex Peterson’s chapter entitled “Discovering Nationalism and The Revolutionary Spirit in Iraq’s Insurgency” speaks to a similar revelation.  The enemy insurgents we’re fighting often have a much more comprehensible position for violence against the US than simply jihad; many of the men taking up arms against occupiers in Iraq are educated professionals.  One must wonder how we would react in a similar circumstance.

So What’s Our Rationale?

Is it our nationalism fueling fervor for war?  If so, is that pride properly placed?  I sometimes see myself as a bit of a Boy Scout patriot.  I recognize, however, that admiring the ideals, history, culture and people of a certain geographical space does not require or equate to loving the government that presides over it or, its responsibility for the negative actions it takes.

Since September 11th we have been at war with terrorism.  Such a broad, enveloping term is borderline Orwellian.  How can we support a global (meaning super duper expensive) ‘war’ on an idea?  Short of a fully functioning world wide thought-police, it seems unlikely to ever succeed.  Surely, the wise leaders in Washington recognize this?  Then why bother?

Maybe Marine Corps General Smedley Butler was on to something.  Twice awarded the Medal of Honor, General Butler simply and brilliantly developed the grotesque link between money and split blood in his speech, “War is a Racket”.

Further, think of the invasion of our digital privacy, the onerous and ineffective means of securing air travel, the creation of Homeland Security and more border restrictions, the calls for limits on firearm sales to those on arbitrarily “terror lists,”, the suspension of Habeas Corpus and so on.  Are you truly any safer because of it?

There has been so little official recognition of the actions of our own government policies in fostering the environment for terrorism to grow.  We have direct fiscal and logistical links to many of the major Middle Eastern insurgency groups of the last three decades.  Yet we continue our foreign policy initiatives of toppling undesirable leaders by arming their detractors in the hopes of propping up more American-friendly ones. All of this intimate intervention in foreign governments and politics shouldn’t leave one perplexed as to why those respective peoples would be tired of our ‘help’, or shoulder animosity because of it.

Even if perpetual, fiscally crippling war in the Middle East sounds better to you than the growth of insurgencies abroad that could potentially cause us harm, consider this: how would a Caliphate with people to feed, an antiquated military, and a relatively modernized economy justify constant war abroad?  Wouldn’t we crush them if engaged, and find it easier to pressure them in such a case? Finally, doesn’t it feel like we are losing this so-called war when the enemy who thrives on instilling fear has resulted is us sacrifice our liberty and money in the name of protection?

With every military action since WWII questionable at best, given the uniformly terrible results, why are we still so quick to beat the drums of war?

To The Veteran and Civilian Alike

The veteran community in the US has been racked by depression, substance abuse and suicide.  It’s gut wrenching, and it’s infuriating.  There are many reasons for this, and it would be unfair to oversimplify, but I speculate that at least a portion of it is due in part to the inability of veterans to emotionally and rationally connect to the mission we’ve been a part of over the last 15 years.  It’s time we, as a community, take a long, hard look at the product of our country’s decisions in the Middle East and decide where our frustrations would be most appropriately placed.

Moreover, as a nation we need to examine the government’s role in our lives.  The increasing size and scope of government is undeniable over the last 100 years of our nations history.  The most glaringly obvious question to me is the morality of a single organization, comprised of imperfect individuals, having the self-proclaimed right to a monopoly on force.  Should the government possess the ability to conscript us, or our children, to fight and die on their behalf?   Is the government entitled to a stake in each of our paychecks that translates into terribly inefficient, fruitless warfare spending? If we were to attempt to deny them any of these self-proclaimed “rights of government,” they then reserve the right to use coercion and violence against us to regain compliance.

The War on Terror, for all its brutality and cost, gave us an entire generation of men and women equipped with a perspective we would be foolish to ignore.  The US government’s foreign policy over the last 4 presidential terms has been an abject failure.  Not necessarily because of the military’s shortcomings, but rather the mission objectives with which they were yoked.  Under no circumstances will we ever defeat or eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, communism, fascism, or whatever other ideological enemy comes before us.  Friedrich Nietzsche aptly noted, “beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” It’s time we re-awaken the quieted spirit of true individual freedom and self-empowerment, and unshackle our selves from the bondage of fear and subservience.

By John A. Dangelo III

Follow him on Twitter @rallyandrecall

The Peril of American Empire

It’s 2016, and our liberties are threatened more than ever. We’ve seen more sporadic terrorist attacks in the last seven months than in any given year, the Middle East is in a geopolitical mess, and we haven’t been closer to nuclear conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, these issues of 2016 have not come out of nowhere. They are the result of American attempts of foreign intervention throughout our time as a world superpower. These can include but are not limited to: The attempts at regime change in Syria and Libya, the wars in Iraq, the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, or even the CIA overthrow of the democratically-elected Iranian government in 1953.

Many try to blame the current mess on the Sykes-Picot agreement, which is the British-French agreement that arbitrarily drew borders for the Middle East while claiming to be a self-determination project. However Sykes-Picot has not been the problem, at least not nearly as much as American intervention has been. Many historians, academics, and political figures try to pin the Middle East’s problems on how Sykes-Picot tried to group different peoples together, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sykes-Picot is just one more example of the divide and conquer strategy that the United States (as the new Western power) has been using in the Middle East in its interventions for decades. The problems in these countries have been caused by the disunification of these nations due to American intervention.

Furthermore, these interventions breed the rise of radical movements like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and have resulted in blowback to our liberties. One such example, divide and conquer in Iraq, is how a CIA-backed Saddam Hussein overthrew the Iraqi government conveniently when the government was in the final stages of a full political and military unification with Syria, and then decades later the US directly overthrew Saddam Hussein. The American-forced disbandonment of the Iraqi Baath party created large ethno-sectarian divisions in Iraq resulting in the rise of ISIS.

Our interventionist foreign policy has resulted in our congressmen and congresswomen on both sides of the aisle attempting to take away our 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendment rights due to ISIS inspiring attacks, without even considering how our foreign policy might be a problem. They haven’t considered the human toll, or how our actions of interventions and the actions of our allies have contributed to the increased destabilization of the world.

As a result, the next stage we are entering into is a political one of nationalistic movements, highlighted by Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. In some ways, this will be better than the alternative of a continuation of our disastrous policies. The world as a whole will probably suffer less at least in the short-term, however this has also lead to risks in divisions in American and other Western societies, and we may now face internal instability and disunity; a result of America inflicting it onto the rest of the world.

By Michael Beshara