Monday, January 14, 2019

Radio Interview with Frank Morano


AM 970 The Answer

Guests include Col. Douglas Macgregor, PhD, Kevin Harris and Jason Koebler of Motherboard and VICE


https://omny.fm/shows/morano-in-the-morning/5am-hour-january-13th-col-douglas-macgregor-analyz?t=13m6s

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tucker Carlson Tonight 1/2/2019


Washington's Addiction to Endless War
https://youtu.be/YFaXuykwj9o


Romney Rings In the New Year—Attacking Trump


The senator-elect’s clearly-timed New Years’ Night op-ed throws down the gauntlet as he’s set to be sworn in this week.


“So it begins,” a former senior White House official emailed Tuesday night, in reference to Senator-elect Mitt Romney’s striking op-ed published in The Washington Post on New Year’s Night. “It begins.”

The Romney op-ed is ostensibly about character. “The president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Donald Trump’s predecessor as GOP standard-bearer wrote.

But what’s most revealing is that the lede, and the crux of his argument, is in opposition to President Donald Trump’s December foreign policy moves-- moves that have shaken the establishment, and thrilled elements of the president’s base, as well as long-time critics of the Washington consensus.

Romney, set to be sworn in later this week along with a new, oppositional and Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, decried the “deep descent” of December. 2018 closed out with President Trump parting ways with his establishment-darling Defense secretary, James Mattis, and initiating pull-outs and partial pull-backs in Afghanistan and Syria, respectively. Mattis told U.S. military personnel upon his departure New Years’ Eve to “keep the faith in our country and hold fast.”

“Romney largely uses criticisms of Trump's character flaws as a jumping off point to oppose the parts of the president's agenda that differ from Mitt's GOP,” said W. James Antle III, editor of The American Conservative.

But for some critics of this president, as well as those concerned about the ongoing Robert S. Mueller-led independent investigation into the president’s campaign, the Romney op-ed was an opening salvo in what could be prove to a ruinous year for this president.

Former aides fret that Trump’s moves to challenge establishment orthodoxy on foreign policy could be the bridge too far that finally spell Trump’s doom. “Can't do it this way,” the former senior administration official has told me. “Plays into hands of the never-Trumpers for a reason.”

Indeed, neoconservative emcee Robert Kagan and Kerry State Department alumnus Antony Blinken also teamed up for a searing op-ed in the Post this holiday weekend, arguing Trump’s “America First” foreign policy is driving the U.S. into a ditch.

But others reacted that Romney isn’t president for a reason.

“The truth is [Mitt Romney] lacked the ability to save this nation,” said Brad Parscale, Trump’s pugilistic 2020 campaign chief, soon after the publishing Tuesday night on the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The president “has saved it,” Parscale said. “Jealousy is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it.”

“Benedict Arnold is a poor model to follow on your way into the US Senate,” Ret. Col. Douglas Macgregor, who’s been considered by the administration for national security advisor in the past, told me.

Macgregor, a favorite of Fox host Tucker Carlson, full-throatedly backs the withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria, seeing the manuevers as in the national interest. For those who seek a course correction in U.S. foreign policy, Trump’s December was a shocking, needed breath of fresh air.

Piling on was the more mainline Fox commentariat, with prominent personality Dan Bongino remarking: “This guy is hard to take. With everything going on in the country right now Mitt swears in and right away he hits the POTUS. Few of us are surprised though, we all knew Mitt to be a world-class opportunist.”

And Romney is now going in the opposite direction of his state’s senior senator, Mike Lee, who favors many of the White House’s recent foreign policy moves. Libertarian-leaning and a close ally of Trump whisperer Rand Paul , Lee, who previously distanced himself from Trump’s politics, recently signaled that he will back the president for re-election.

What is clear is that doubts about Romney’s new role in the U.S. Senate are dissipating.

Romney, who was briefly considered by this president for secretary of State, will be loathe to work tightly with the administration. In the op-ed, Romney lamented the departure of most of the appointees he admired: “his early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly and Mattis were encouraging.” All, cf course, are now gone from this White House. With this gauntlet thrown, Romney positions himself as the heir to a troika of Trump Senate critics -- the retiring Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake, and the late John McCain. Never a dull day in Trump’s Washington.

Curt Mills is the foreign-affairs reporter at the National Interest, where he covers the State Department, National Security Council and the Trump Presidency.

Image: Reuters

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Important Read: Trump Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS


‘There are now real reasons to fear that a Turkish advance will ignite a resurgence of ISIS. Turkey was not only a source of aid and oil sales to the jihadist group, it currently oversees a mercenary force of Salafi militiamen that includes droves of former Islamic State fighters.’

Trump Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS


Too many of those protesting the removal of U.S. forces are authors of the catastrophe that tore Syria to pieces, reports Max Blumenthal for Consortium News.

By Max Blumenthal
Special to Consortium News




President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former Secretary of State and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.”

Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s Secretary of Defense, slammed the pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing US troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.

Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation? 

Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

Birthing ISIS From the Womb of Regime Change

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Clinton, Kerry, and the rest of the Beltway blob lined up reflexively behind George W. Bush. The insurgency that followed the violent removal of Iraq’s Ba’athist government set the stage for the declaration of the first Islamic State by Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2006. Five years later, with near-total consent from Congress, Hillary enthusiastically presided over NATO’s assault on Libya, cackling with glee when she learned that the country’s longtime leader, Moammar Gaddafi, had been sodomized with a bayonet and shot to death by Islamist insurgents — “We came, we saw, he died!” 

It was not long before an Islamist Emirate was established in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, while 31 flavors of jihadi militias festered in Tripoli and Benghazi.





Clinton and Kerry: Architects of chaos in Syria.

While still defending her vote on Iraq, Hillary made the case for arming the anti-Assad opposition in Syria. “In a conflict like this,” she said, “the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking.”

In 2012, the CIA initiated a one billion dollar arm-and-equip operation to fund the so-called “moderate rebels” united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of that year warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.

Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, Jabhat al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s “moderate rebels”: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey — an extremely ironic development considering Turkey’s role in fueling the Syrian insurgency. Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of anyone who could grab them across the Syrian border.

As early as February 2013, a United Nations independent inquiry report concluded, “The FSA has remained a brand name only.” The UN further issued a damning assessment of the role of the United States, UK and their Gulf allies in fueling extremism across Syria. “The intervention of external sponsors has contributed to the radicalization of the insurgency as it has favoured Salafi armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and even encouraged mainstream insurgents to join them owing to their superior logistical and operational capabilities,” the report stated.

US Arms, ISIS Caliphate

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, some neoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition.





Opposition activists fly the flag of the US-backed Free Syrian Army alongside the flag of ISIS in the center of Raqqa, December 2013. (Raqqa Media Center)

Back in March 2013, a coalition of Syrian rebel forces representing the CIA-backed FSA, the Turkish and Qatari proxy, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, overwhelmed the Syrian army in Raqqa. Opposition activists declared the city the “icon of the revolution” and celebrated in Raqqa’s town center, waving the tricolor flags of the FSA alongside the black banners of ISIS and al-Nusra, which set up its headquarters in the city’s town hall.

But disorder quickly spread throughout the city as its residents attempted to order their affairs through local councils. Meanwhile, the US-backed FSA had ceded the city to al-Nusra, taking the fight to the front lines against government forces further afield. The chaos stirred by the insurgents and their foreign backers had created the perfect petri dish for jihadism to fester.

A month after Raqqa was taken, the Iraqi zealot and ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed that al-Nusra had been a Trojan horse for his organization, referring to its commander, Mohammed Jolani, as “our son.” Jolani, in turn, admitted that he had entered Syria from Iraq as a soldier of the Islamic State, declaring, “We accompanied the jihad in Iraq as military escorts from its beginning until our return [to Syria] after the Syrian revolution.”

By August, Baghdadi completed his coup, announcing control over the city. According to the anti-Assad website,Syria Untold, the U.S.-backed FSA had “balked in the face of ISIS and avoided any military confrontation with it.” Many of its fighters quickly jumped ship to either the Islamic State or al-Nusra.

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“The [FSA] battalions are scared to become the weakest link, that they will be swallowed by ISIS,” a media activist named Ahmed al-Asmeh told the journalist Alison Meuse. “A number joined ISIS, and those who were with the people joined Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Backing “Territorial ISIS”

As the insurgency advanced towards Syria’s coast, leaving piles of corpses in its wake and propelling a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, the U.S. stepped up its arm-and-equip program. By 2015, the CIA was pouring anti-tank missiles into the ranks of Nourredine Al-Zinki, an extremist militia that eventually forged a coalition with bands of fanatics that made no attempt to disguise their ideology. Among the new opposition umbrella group was one outfit called, “The Bin Laden Front.”

Despite all its war on terror bluster, the U.S. was treating ISIS as an asset in its bid to topple Assad. Then Secretary of State Kerry copped to the strategy in a leaked private meeting with Syrian opposition activists in Sept. 2016: “We were watching,” Kerry revealed. “We saw that Daesh [ISIS] was growing in strength and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, you know, that Assad might negotiate and instead of negotiating, you got Assad, ah, you got Putin supporting him.”

When Russia directly intervened in Syria in 2015, the Obama administration’s most outspoken interventionists railed against its campaign to roll back the presence of Al Qaeda and its allies,comparing it to the Rwandan genocide. These same officials were curiously quiet, however, when Russia combined forces with the Syrian military to drive ISIS from the city of Palmyra, to save the home of the world’s most treasured antiquities from destruction.

At a March 24, 2016, press briefing, a reporter asked U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “Do you want to see the [Syrian] regime retake Palmyra, or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s [ISIS] hands?”

Toner strung together empty platitudes for a full minute.

“You’re not answering my question,” the reporter protested.

Toner emitted a nervous laugh and conceded, “I know I’m not.”

About a year later, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman openly called for the U.S. to use ISIS as a strategic tool, reiterating the cynical logic for the strategy that was already in place. “We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad,”

Friedman proposed. “After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war—the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other.”

Giving ISIS ‘Breathing Space’




Palmyra saved twice from ISIS. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the U.S. finally decided to make a move against ISIS in 2017, it was gripped with anxiety about the Syrian government restoring control over the oil-rich areas ISIS controlled across the northeast.

With help from Russia, and against opposition from the U.S., Syria had already liberated the city of Deir Ezzor from a years-long siege by the Islamic State. Fearing that ISIS-occupied Raqqa could be next to be returned to government hands, the U.S. unleashed a brutal bombing campaign while its allies in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (a rebranded offshoot of the People’s Protection Units or YPG) assaulted the city by ground.

The U.S.-led campaign reduced much of Raqqa to rubble. In contrast to Aleppo, where rebuilding was underway and refugees were returning, Raqqa and outlying towns under U.S. control were cut off from basic government services and plunged into darkness.

The U.S. proceeded to occupy the city and its outlying areas, insisting that the Syrian government and its allies were too weak to prevent the resurgence of ISIS on their own. But almost as soon as U.S. boots hit the ground, ISIS began to gather strength. In fact, a report this August by the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team found that in areas under direct American control, ISIS had suddenly found “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.”

This October, when Iran launched missile strikes against ISIS, nearly killing the ISIS emir, Baghdadi, the Pentagon complained that the missiles had struck only three kilometers from U.S. positions. The protest raised uncomfortable questions about what the top honchos of the Islamic State were doing in such close proximity to the American military, and why the U.S. was unwilling to do what Iran just had done and attack them. No answers from the Pentagon have arrived so far.

Target: Iran

With the appointment this August of James Jeffrey, a self-described “Never Trumper” from the pro-IsraelWashington Institute for Near East Policy, as Trump’s special representative for Syria engagement, it became clear that the mission to eradicate ISIS was of secondary importance. In testimony before Congress this December, Jeffreylaid out an agenda that focused heavily on what he called “Iran’s malign influence in the region,” “countering Iran in Syria,” and “remov[ing] all Iranian-commanded forces and proxy forces from the entirety of Syria.” In all, Jeffrey made 30 mentions of Iran, all of them hostile, while referring only 23 times to ISIS. It was clear he had regime change in Tehran on the brain.

Trump, for his part, had been mulling a removal of U.S. forces from northern Syria since at least last Spring, when he put forward a vision for an all-Arab military force funded by Saudi Arabia to replace them. But when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was sawed apart inside his country’s embassy in Istanbul this October, Trump’s plan went to pieces as well. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploited the Khashoggi saga to perfection, helping to transform Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman from the darling of America’s elite into persona non grata in Washington. As a result, he arranged a front line position for Turkey in the wake of any U.S. withdrawal.

There are now real reasons to fear that a Turkish advance will ignite a resurgence of ISIS. Turkey was not only a source of aid and oil sales to the jihadist group, it currently oversees a mercenary force of Salafi militiamen that includes droves of former Islamic State fighters. If the Turkish onslaught proves destabilizing, Iran and its allied Shia militias could ramp up their deployment in Syria, which would trigger a harsh reaction from Israel and its Beltway cut-outs.

Then again, the Kurdish YPG is in high level negotiations with Damascus and may team up with the Syrian military to fill the void. From an anti-ISIS standpoint, this is clearly the best option. It is therefore the least popular one in Washington.

Whatever happens in Syria, those who presided over U.S. policy towards the country over the past seven years are in no position to criticize. They set the stage for the entire crisis, propelling the rise of ISIS in a bid to decapitate another insufficiently pliant state. And though they may never face the accountability they deserve, the impending withdrawal of American troops is a long overdue and richly satisfying rebuke.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, The Fifty One Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and the forthcoming The Management of Savagery, which will be published by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie and the newly released Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded the GrayzoneProject.comin 2015 and serves as its editor.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

After Syria, Trump Should Clean Out His National Security Bureaucracy


Posted By Doug Bandow On December 27, 2018 @ 12:01 am


President Donald Trump has at last rediscovered his core foreign policy beliefs and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Right on cue, official Washington had a collective mental breakdown. Neocons committed to war, progressives targeting Trump, and centrists determined to dominate the world unleashed an orgy of shrieking and caterwauling. The horrifying collective scream, a la artist Edvard Munch, continued for days.
Trump’s decision should have surprised no one. As a candidate, he shocked the Republican Party establishment by criticizing George W. Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq and urging a quick exit from Afghanistan. As president, he inflamed the bipartisan War Party’s fears by denouncing America’s costly alliances with wealthy industrialized states. And to almost everyone’s consternation, he said he wanted U.S. personnel out of Syria. Once the Islamic State was defeated, he explained, Americans should come home.
How shocking. How naïve. How outrageous.
The president’s own appointees, the “adult” foreign policy advisors he surrounded himself with, disagreed with him on almost all of this—not just micromanaging the Middle East, but subsidizing Europeans in NATO, underwriting South Korea, and negotiating with North Korea. His aides played him at every turn, adding allies, sending more men and materiel to defend foreign states, and expanding commitments in the Middle East.
Last spring, the president talked of leaving Syria “very soon.” But the American military stayed. Indeed, three months ago, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced an entirely new mission: “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”
That was chutzpah on a breathtaking scale. It meant effectively that the U.S. was entitled to invade and dismember nations, back aggressive wars begun by others, and scatter bases and deployments around the world. Since Damascus and Tehran have no reason to stop cooperating—indeed, America’s presence makes outside support even more important for the Assad regime—Bolton was effectively planning a permanent presence, one that could bring American forces into contact with Russian, Syrian, and Turkish forces, as well as Iranians. As the Assad government consolidates its victory in the civil war, it inevitably will push into Kurdish territories in the north. That would have forced the small American garrison there to either yield ground or become a formal combatant in another Middle Eastern civil war.
The latter could have turned into a major confrontation. Damascus is backed by Russia and might be supported by Ankara, which would prefer to see the border controlled by Syrian than Kurdish forces. Moreover, the Kurds, under threat from Turkey, are not likely to divert forces to contain Iranians moving with the permission of the Damascus government. Better to cut a deal with Assad that minimizes the Turks than be Washington’s catspaw.
The Pentagon initially appeared reluctant to accept this new objective. At the time, Brigadier General Scott Benedict told the House Armed Services Committee: “In Syria, our role is to defeat ISIS. That’s it.” However, the State Department envoy on Syria, Jim Jeffrey, began adding Iran to his sales pitch. So did Brian Hook, State’s representative handling the undeclared diplomatic war on Iran, who said the goal was “to remove all forces under Iranian control from Syria.”
change_me
Apparently this direct insubordination came to a head in a phone call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Why are you still there?” the latter asked Trump, who turned to Bolton. The national security advisor was on the call, but could offer no satisfactory explanation.
Perhaps at that moment, the president realized that only a direct order could enforce his policy. Otherwise his staffers would continue to pursue their militaristic ends. That determination apparently triggered the long-expected resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who deserves respect but was a charter member of the hawkish cabal around the president. He dissented from them only on ending the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Still in place is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who so far has proven to be a bit more malleable though still hostile to the president’s agenda. He is an inveterate hawk, including toward Tehran, which he insists must surrender to both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as part of any negotiation. He’s adopted the anti-Iran agenda in Syria as his own. His department offered no new approach to Russia over Ukraine, instead steadily increasing sanctions, without effect, on Moscow. At least Pompeo attempted to pursue discussions with North Korea, though he was certainly reluctant about it.
Most dangerous is Bolton. He publicly advocated war with both Iran and North Korea before his appointment, and his strategy in Syria risked conflict with several nations. He’s demonstrated that he has no compunctions about defying the president, crafting policies that contradict the latter’s directives. Indeed, Bolton is well-positioned to undermine even obvious successes, such as the peaceful opening with North Korea.
Supporting appointments to State and the National Security Council have been equally problematic. Candidate Trump criticized the bipartisan War Party, thereby appealing to heartland patriots who wonder why their relatives, friends, and neighbors have been dying in endless wars that have begotten nothing but more wars. Yet President Trump has surrounded himself with neocons, inveterate hawks, and ivory tower warriors. With virtually no aides around him who believe in his policies or were even willing to implement them, he looked like a George Bush/Barack Obama retread. The only certainty, beyond his stream of dramatic tweets, appeared to be that Americans would continue dying in wars throughout his presidency.
However, Trump took charge when he insisted on holding the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Now U.S. forces are set to come home from Syria, and it appears that he may reduce or even eliminate the garrison in Afghanistan, where Americans have been fighting for more than 17 years. Perhaps he also will reconsider U.S. support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen.
Trump should use Secretary Mattis’s departure as an opportunity to refashion his national security team. Who is to succeed Mattis at the Pentagon? Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan appears to have the inside track. But former Navy secretary and senator Jim Webb deserves consideration. Or perhaps it’s time for a second round for former senator Chuck Hagel, who opposed the Gulf war and backed dialog with Iran. Defense needs someone willing to challenge the Pentagon’s thinking and practices. Best would be a civilian who won’t be captured by the bureaucracy, one who understands that he or she faces a tough fight against advocates of perpetual war.
Next to go should be Bolton. There are many potential replacements who believe in a more restrained role for America. One who has been mentioned as a potential national security advisor in the past is retired Army colonel and respected security analyst Douglas Macgregor.
Equally important, though somewhat less urgent, is finding a new secretary of state. Although Pompeo has not so ostentatiously undermined his boss, he appears to oppose every effort by the president to end a war, drop a security commitment, or ease a conflict. Pompeo’s enthusiasm for negotiation with Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin is clearly lagging. While the secretary might not engage in open sabotage, his determination to take a confrontational approach everywhere except when explicitly ordered to do otherwise badly undermines Trump’s policies.
Who to appoint? Perhaps Tennessee’s John Duncan, the last Republican congressman who opposed the Iraq war and who retired this year after decades of patriotic service. There are a handful of active legislators who could serve with distinction as well, though their departures would be a significant loss on Capitol Hill: Senator Rand Paul and Representatives Justin Amash and Walter Jones, for instance.
Once the top officials have been replaced, the process should continue downwards. Those appointed don’t need to be thoroughgoing Trumpists, of whom there are few. Rather, the president needs people generally supportive of his vision of a less embattled and entangled America: subordinates, not insubordinates. Then he will be less likely to find himself in embarrassing positions where his appointees create their own aggressive policies contrary to his expressed desires.
Trump has finally insisted on being Trump, but Syria must only be the start. He needs to fill his administration with allies, not adversaries. Only then will his “America First” policy actually put America first.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What the ‘Neocon Chickenhawks’ Have Wrought


An outgoing congressman takes stock of years of American foreign policy disaster.


By JOHN DUNCAN 
TheAmericanConservative.com
December 4, 2018


Members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard transfer Capt. David A. Wisniewski’s casket to a caisson while HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters fly overhead during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Aug. 23, 2010. Wisniewski died July 2, 2010, from injuries suffered during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. (Credit: SSgt Gina Chiaverotti-Paige/Public Domain)

The 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end World War I has generated a lot of discussion and articles about the so-called “Great War.”

Most of the neocon chickenhawks who so eagerly led us into the disastrous war in Iraq seemingly want to be regarded as modern-day Winston Churchills.

They might be very surprised to read Scott Berg’s great biography of Woodrow Wilson, which quotes Churchill as saying: “America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War,” meaning World War I.

Churchill told William Griffin, editor of the New York Enquirer newspaper in August 1936: “If you hadn’t entered the war, the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace, then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by Fascism, and Germany would not have…enthroned Nazism.”

It is amazing how often one war leads to or causes another one.

It is also amazing how cavalier those who have never fought in war can be about sending others to fight and even be killed or maimed.

It is a sad commentary on our recent history of unnecessary but seemingly permanent wars that the most anti-war president that we’ve had in the last 70 years has been Dwight D. Eisenhower, a career military man and leader in World War II.

Eisenhower’s most famous words came in his farewell address at the very end of his presidency when he warned against the excesses of the military-industrial complex.

I believe he would be shocked at just how far we have gone down the road he told us to avoid.

Less famous are the words from his first major speech as president when he spoke to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April 1953.

In that address, he called peace the “issue which most urgently challenges and summons the wisdom and courage of our whole people.”

He added: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

President Donald Trump seems to have good instincts, having spoken out against the war in Iraq and said we should not be paying so much of other countries’ defense bills.

Just as importantly, in December 2016, five weeks after winning the election, he criticized the $400 billion F-35 program and said there would be a “lifetime restriction” on top military officials going to work for defense contractors, the famous revolving door at the Pentagon.

However, the president has thus far not brought home any significant number of troops. He’s also bragged about his big increases in defense spending.

Defense spending has more than doubled since 2000. I opposed most of President Barack Obama’s programs, but it is false to say he decimated the military when defense spending went up under both Presidents Bush and Obama.

By some estimates, we now spend almost $1 trillion a year on defense and defense-related programs. Additionally, Congress gave the Defense Department more than $200 billion in relief from the very ineffective budget caps that were in place from 2013 to 2017.

Now, of course, we are entering our 18th year of war in Afghanistan, are supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and are operating 800 military bases around the world.

Our very determined but very foolish neocons, not embarrassed at all by the foreign policy blunder in Iraq, continue to demand sanctions and ever-tougher action against Iran.

Stephen Kinzer, longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times, wrote that “violent intervention (by the CIA) in Iran seemed like a good idea in 1953, and for a time it appeared to have succeeded. Now however, it is clear that this intervention not only brought Iran decades of tragedy, but also set in motion forces that have gravely undermined American national security.”

He added that “the results were exactly the opposite of those for which American leaders had hoped.”

Those words could be applied to almost everything we have done in the Middle East over the last many years. Our unnecessary wars and other diplomatic initiatives there have caused much more harm than good and have created even more enemies for the U.S.

Too many members of Congress are afraid to vote against or even criticize defense spending for fear of being called unpatriotic. I hope more will begin to realize that our recent wars have been more about money and power than any real threat to this nation.

And I wish they would consider the words of columnist John T. Flynn, written in 1956, about what he called the “racket” of using government money to buy votes.

“In pursuit of this racket,” Flynn wrote, “the politicians are confronted by the problem of finding defensible activities on which to spend. There must be visible in the spending some utility to justify the heavy taxes. Of course, the oldest racket for spending the people’s money is the institution of militarism.”

We need more people to heed the dictates of the Bible, where it tells us in both the Old Testament and the New to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 and 1stPeter 3:11).


John “Jimmy” Duncan, a Republican, is the U.S. representative for Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/what-the-neocon-chickenhawks-have-wrought/