Friday, November 27, 2015

Once Again, Media Terrorize the Public for the Terrorists

Another devastating terror spectacle and another media panic playing right into the script: spreading fear and sowing Islamophobia. Better writers than I have documented the latter, but not as much attention has been paid to the former—how in the wake of the Paris attacks 10 days ago, much of the media have needlessly stoked fears and acted, entirely predictably, as the PR wing for terrorists.

Let’s take a look at one of the more entirely pointless and trolly non-stories from last week:

Islamic State Releases Video Threatening Attack on New York City
–USA Today

ISIS Threatens Paris, Rome, US in New Video
–Daily Dot

New ISIS Video Threatens France, Italy, US

Do media have an obligation to cover terrorism? Of course. Is there any rule of journalism that says they have to jump in panic every time some anonymous ISIS account tweets out a spooky video? No.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Russian Warplane Down: NATO’s Act of War

For Turkey’s government – one that has been consistent only in its constant failure regarding its proxy war against its neighbor Syria, who has been caught planning false flag provocations to trigger wider and more direct war in Syria, and whose government is now exposed and widely known to be directly feeding, not fighting ISIS – the prospect of Russian retaliation against it, either directly or indirectly, and in whatever form will leave it increasingly isolated.

Until then, Russia’s best bet is to simply continue winning the war. Taking the Jarabulus-Afrin corridor and fortifying it against NATO incursions while cutting off ISIS and other terrorist factions deeper within Syria would be perhaps the worst of all possible retaliations. With Syria secured, an alternative arc of influence will exist within the Middle East, one that will inevitably work against Saudi and other Persian Gulf regimes’ efforts in Yemen, and in a wider sense, begin the irreversible eviction of Western hegemony from the region.

The West, already being pushed out of Asia by China, will suffer immeasurably as the world dismantles its unipolar international order, region by region.

As in the game of chess, a player often seeks to provoke their opponent into a series of moves. The more emotional their opponent becomes, the easier it is to control the game as it unfolds. Likewise in geopolitics and war, emotions can get one killed, or, be channeled by reason and superior strategic thinking into a plan that satisfies short-term requirements but serves long-term objectives. Russia has proven time and time again that it is capable of striking this balance and now, more than ever, it must prove so again.

Read the entire article

Monday, November 23, 2015

To France from a post-9/11 America: Lessons we learned too late

For those who remember when the first towers fell on 9/11, there is an unnerving feeling of déjà vu about the Paris attacks.

Once again, there is that same sense of shock. The same shocking images of carnage and grief dominating the news. The same disbelief that anyone could be so hateful, so monstrous, so evil as to do this to another human being. The same outpourings of support and unity from around the world. The same shared fear that this could easily have happened to us or our loved ones.

Now the drums of war are sounding. French fighter jets have carried out a series of “symbolic” air strikes on Syrian targets. France’s borders have been closed, Paris has been locked down and military personnel are patrolling its streets.

What remains to be seen is whether France, standing where the United States did 14 years ago, will follow in America’s footsteps as she grapples with the best way to shore up her defenses, where to draw the delicate line in balancing security with liberty, and what it means to secure justice for those whose lives were taken.

Here are some of the lessons we in the United States learned too late about allowing our freedoms to be eviscerated in exchange for the phantom promise of security.

Read the entire article

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bankers are Behind the Wars

Former managing director of Goldman Sachs – and head of the international analytics group at Bear Stearns in London (Nomi Prins) –  notes:

Throughout the century that I examined, which began with the Panic of 1907 … what I found by accessing the archives of each president is that through many events and periods, particular bankers were in constant communication [with the White House] — not just about financial and economic policy, and by extension trade policy, but also about aspects of World War I, or World War II, or the Cold War, in terms of the expansion that America was undergoing as a superpower in the world, politically, buoyed by the financial expansion of the banking community.

In the beginning of World War I, Woodrow Wilson had adopted initially a policy of neutrality. But the Morgan Bank, which was the most powerful bank at the time, and which wound up funding over 75 percent of the financing for the allied forces during World War I … pushed Wilson out of neutrality sooner than he might have done, because of their desire to be involved on one side of the war.

Now, on the other side of that war, for example, was the National City Bank, which, though they worked with Morgan in financing the French and the British, they also didn’t have a problem working with financing some things on the German side, as did Chase …

When Eisenhower became president … the U.S. was undergoing this expansion by providing, under his doctrine, military aid and support to countries [under] the so-called threat of being taken over by communism … What bankers did was they opened up hubs, in areas such as Cuba, in areas such as Beirut and Lebanon, where the U.S. also wanted to gain a stronghold in their Cold War fight against the Soviet Union. And so the juxtaposition of finance and foreign policy were very much aligned.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Is Putin Our Ally in Syria?

Among the presidential candidates of the Republican Party and their foreign policy leaders on Capitol Hill the cry is almost universal:

Barack Obama has no strategy for winning the war on ISIS.

This criticism, however, sounds strange coming from a party that controls Congress but has yet to devise its own strategy, or even to authorize the use of U.S. military force in Syria.

Congress has punted. And compared to the cacophony from Republican ranks, Barack Obama sounds like Prince Bismarck.

The President’s strategy is to contain, degrade and defeat ISIS. While no one has provided the troops to defeat ISIS, the U.S. is using Kurdish and Yazidi forces, backed by U.S. air power, to degrade it.

And recent months have seen measured success.

Read the entire article

Friday, November 13, 2015

The War Party Lost the GOP Debate

Most Americans don’t think much about politics, let alone foreign policy issues, as they go about their daily lives. It’s not that they don’t care: it’s just that the daily grind doesn’t permit most people outside of Washington, D.C. the luxury of contemplating the fate of nations with any regularity. There is one exception, however, and that is during election season, and specifically – when it comes to foreign policy –  every four years, when the race for the White House begins to heat up. The President, as commander in chief, shapes US foreign policy: indeed, in our post-constitutional era, now that Congress has abdicated its responsibility, he has the de facto power to single-handedly take us into war. Which is why, paraphrasing Trotsky, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is certainly interested in you.

The most recent episode of the continuing GOP reality show, otherwise known as the presidential debates, certainly gave us a glimpse of what we are in for if the candidates on that stage actually make it into the Oval Office – and, folks, it wasn’t pretty, for the most part. But there were plenty of bright spots.

This was supposed to have been a debate about economics, but in the Age of Empire there is no real division between economic and foreign policy issues. That was brought home by the collision between Marco Rubio and Rand Paul about half way through the debate when Rubio touted his child tax credit  program as being “pro-family.” A newly-aggressive and articulate Rand Paul jumped in with this:

“Is it conservative to have $1 trillion in transfer payments – a new welfare program that’s a refundable tax credit? Add that to Marco’s plan for $1 trillion in new military spending, and you get something that looks, to me, not very conservative.”

Read the entire article

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carson Spurns GOP Base With Support for ObamaTrade TPP

Pediatric neurosurgeon and 2016 GOP frontrunner Ben Carson has easily fended off most of the spurious attacks from the establishment press, but growing conservative outrage over the Carson campaign's recent announcement of support “with reservations” for Obama's deeply controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal may prove more tricky. Ironically, the Carson camp claimed Carson supported the deal, dubbed “ObamaTrade” by critics, as a “counterbalance to China’s influence” just two days after the Obama administration publicly invited the brutal Communist Chinese dictatorship and Russia's Vladimir Putin to join the TPP as well. Among many of Carson's conservative supporters, the pro-TPP position is likely to be a bitter pill to swallow, if it can be swallowed at all.    

The Obama administration has been promoting the controversial managed-trade scheme as the “most progressive trade agreement in history.” However, despite the stigma of the “progressive” label attached to the plot by its own chief architect, top establishment Republicans — often ridiculed as RINOs among conservatives — have been instrumental on the road to making ObamaTrade a reality. Among other concerns cited by critics is the fact that the TPP regime, which brings together 12 governments including communist and Islamist dictatorships, creates supranational kangaroo courts and regulatory bodies that are purportedly superior to U.S. and state law and court rulings. It also opens the immigration floodgates, and according to U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), represents European Union-style “global governance.”

But none of that appears to have fazed Carson, who recently soared to the top of multiple national polls on the Republican Party presidential primary before announcing his support for TPP. Initially, he expressed skepticism over the scheme with the left-wing Huffington Post, saying he would not give Obama “Fast-Track Authority” to ram it through. On November 6, though, the Wall Street Journal, citing Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts, reported that Carson “believes the agreement does help to level the playing field in key markets and is important to improve our ties to trading partners in Asia as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the region.” The spokesman also said Carson was “now inclined to support TPP, with reservations.” In doing so, the Journal reported that Carson was “aligning himself more with the GOP’s establishment wing than with the social conservatives who have powered his campaign.”

Read the entire article

Monday, November 09, 2015

TPP, WTO, NAFTA: The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History

The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.

“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C.

“It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.

Read the entire article

Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Real Issues You Won't Hear from the 2016 Presidential Candidates This Election Year

The national debt. Why aren’t politicians talking about the whopping $18.1 trillion and rising that our government owes to foreign countries, private corporations and its retirement programs? Not only is the U.S. the largest debtor nation in the world, but according to Forbes, “the amount of interest on the national debt is estimated to be accumulating at a rate of over one million dollars per minute.” Shouldn’t the government being on the verge of bankruptcy be an issue worth talking about?
Black budget spending. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the sixteen or so intelligence agencies tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence and covert activities. The agencies operating with black budget (top secret) funds include the CIA, NSA and Justice Department. Clearly, our right to privacy seems to amount to nothing in the eyes of the government and those aspiring to office.
Government contractors. Despite all the talk about big and small government, what we have been saddled with is agovernment that is outsourcing much of its work to high-paid contractors at great expense to the taxpayer and with no competition, little transparency and dubious savings. According to the Washington Post, “By some estimates, there aretwice as many people doing government work under contract than there are government workers.” These open-ended contracts, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, “now account for anywhere between one quarter and one half of all federal service contracting.” Moreover, any attempt to reform the system is “bitterly opposed by federal employee unions, who take it as their mission to prevent good employees from being rewarded and bad employees from being fired.”
Cost of war. Then there’s the detrimental impact the government’s endless wars (fueled by the profit-driven military industrial complex) is having on our communities, our budget and our police forces. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer, with more than 3.2 million employees. Since 9/11, we’ve spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you add in our military efforts in Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $4.4 trillion.
Education. Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more on education than any other developed nation, our students continue to lag significantly behind other advanced industrial nations. Incredibly, teenagers in the U.S. ranked 36th in the world in math, reading and science.
Civics knowledge. Americans know little to nothing about their rights or how the government is supposed to operate. This includes educators and politicians. For example, 27 percent of elected officials cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, while 54 percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. As one law professor notes: