• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zondag 30 augustus 2015

Geen Jorwert zonder Brussel 60

 The Saker Archive
 
Europe in Free Fall
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Europe is in free fall. Nobody can doubt that any more. In fact, the EU is simultaneously suffering from several severe problems and any one of these could potentially become catastrophic. Let’s look at them one by one.
The 28 member EU makes no economic sense
The most obvious problem for the EU is that it makes absolutely no economic sense. Initially, in the early 1950s, there was a small group of not too dissimilar nations which decided to integrate their economies. These were the so-called Inner Six who founded the European Community (EC): Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In 1960 this “core group” was joined by seven more countries, the Outer Seven, who were unwilling to join the EC but wanted to join a European Free Trade Association (EFTA). These were Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Together these countries formed what could loosely be called “most of western Europe”.
For all their faults, these treaties did reflect a reality – that the countries participating in them had much in common and that their peoples wanted to join forces. After 1960, the history of the European integration and expansion became very complicated and while it progressed in zig-zags with regular setbacks, at the end of the day this process ended growing uncontrollably, just like a malignant tumor. Today the EU includes 28(!) member states including all of what used to be called “central” and “eastern” Europe – even the ex-Soviet Baltic Republics are now part of this new union. The problem is that while such an expansion was attractive to the European elites for ideological reasons, such huge expansion makes no economic sense at all. What do Sweden, Germany, Latvia, Greece, and Bulgaria have in common? Very little, of course.
Now cracks are clearly appearing. The Greek crisis and the threat of a “Grexit” has the potential for a domino effect involving the rest of the so-called “PIGS” (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain). Even France is threatened by the consequences of this crisis. The European currency – the Euro – is “a currency without a mission”: is it supposed to support the German economy or the Greek one? Nobody knows, at least officially. In reality, of course, everybody understands that Frau Merkel is running the show. Quickfix solutions, which is what the Eurobureaucrats are offering, only buy time, but they are offering no solution to what is clearly a systemic problem: the completely artificial nature of a 28 member EU.
As for the the obvious solution, to give up on the crazy dream of a 28 member EU, it is so absolutely politically unacceptable that it won’t even be discussed although everyone fears it.
The EU is on the verge of a social and cultural collapse
The undeniable reality is simple as it is stark:
  • The EU cannot absorb so many refugees
  • The EU does not have the means to stop them
A massive influx of refugees presents a very complex security problem which EU countries are not equipped to deal with. All EU countries have three basic instruments they can use to protect themselves from unrest, disorders, crime or invasions: the special/security services, the police forces and the military. The problem is that neither of these are capable of dealing with a refugee crises.
The special/security services are hopelessly outnumbered when dealing with a refugee crisis. Besides, their normal target (career criminal, spies, terrorists) are few and far in between in a typical wave of refugees. Refugees are mostly families, often extended ones, and while they sometimes include criminal gangs, this is far from always the case. The problem is that if, say, 10% of Kosovars are drug dealers, that gives a bad name to all the refugees from Kosovo and the refugees themselves ended up being treated like criminals. Finally, special/security services rely very heavily on informants and foreign gangs are hard to infiltrate. They often also speak difficult languages which only few local language specialists master. As a result, most of the time the EU security services are clueless as to how to deal with the security problem presented to them, if only because they lack the personnel and means to keep track of so many people.
In contrast, cops have an advantage of sorts: they are literally everywhere and they typically have a good sense of the “beat on the street”. However, their powers are severely limited and they need to get a court order to do most of their work. Cops also mostly deal with local criminals, whereas most refugees are neither local, nor criminals. The sad reality is that most of what cops do in a refugee crisis is provide riot police – hardly a solution to anything.
As for the armed forces, the very best they can do is to try to help close a border. In some cases, they can assist the police forces in case of civil disturbances, but that’s about it.
Thus the various states of the EU neither have the means to lock their borders, deport most refugees, nor control them. Sure, there will always be politicians who will make promises about how they are going to send all these refugees back home, but that is a crude and blatant lie. The vast majority of these refugees are fleeing war, famine and abject poverty and there is no way anybody is going to send them back home.
Keeping them, however, is also impossible, at least in a cultural sense. For all the doubleplusgoodthinking propaganda about integrating all races, creeds and cultures the reality is that there is absolutely nothing the EU has to offer to these refugees to make them want to integrate it. For all its sins and problems, at least the US is offering an “American dream” which, false as it might be, still inspires people worldwide, especially the unsophisticated and poorly educated. Not only that, but American society has little culture to begin with. Ask yourself, what is “American culture?” If anything, it is really a “melting pot” rather than a “tossed salad” – meaning that whatever enters the melting pot loses its original identity while the overall mixture of the pot fails to produce a true indigenous culture, at least not in a European sense of the word.
Europe is or, should I say, used to be radically different from the USA. There used to be real, deep, cultural differences between the various regions and provinces of each European country. A Basque is most definitely not an Catalan, a Marseillais is not a Breton, etc. As for the differences between an German and a Greek – they are simply huge. The result from the current refugee crisis is that all European cultures are now directly threatened in their identity and their life style. This is often blamed on Islam, but the reality is that African Christians don’t integrate any better. Neither do the Christian Gypsies, by the way. As a result, clashes happen literally everywhere – in shops, streets, schools, etc. There is not a single country in Europe where these clashes are not threatening the social order. These daily clashes result in crime, repression, violence and the ghettoization of both the immigrants and of the locals, who leave their traditional suburbs and move to less immigrant-saturated areas.
[Aside: to my American readers who might think “so what? we have ghettos in the US too” I will say that what the French call “zones de non-droit” (non-law zones) are far worse than anything you could see in the USA. And keep in mind that no country in the EU has the kind of huge, militarized, police forces which every major US city now has. Neither is there the equivalent of the US National Guard. At best, there are anti-riot forces like the French CRS, but they can only do so much.]
The level of aggravation suffered by many, if not most, Europeans directly resulting from this crisis in immigration is hard to describe to somebody who has not seen it. And since voicing such frustrations was considered “racist” or “xenophobic” by the powers that be (at least until recently – this is progressively changing now), this deep resentment is mostly kept hidden, but it is perceptible nonetheless. And the immigrants most definitely feel it. Every day. And, again, this is why the notion of a US-style “melting pot” in Europe ain’t happening: the only thing Europe has to offer to all these hundreds of thousands of refugees is a silent hostility fed by fear, outrage, disgust and helplessness. Even those locals who used to be refugees themselves in the past (immigrants from North Africa, for example) are now disgusted and very hostile to the new wave of refugees coming in. And, of course, not a single refugee coming to Europe believes in any “European dream”.
Last but not least, these refugees are a huge burden on the local economies and the social services which were never designed to cope with such an influx of needy “clients”.
For the foreseeable future the prognosis is clear: more of the same, only worse, possibly much worse.
The EU is just a colony of the United States unable to defend her own interests
The EU is ruled by a class of people who have completely sold themselves to the United States. The best examples of this sorry state of affairs is the Libyan debacle which saw the US and France completely destroy the most developed country in Africa only to now have hundreds of thousands of refugees cross the Mediterranean and seek refuge from war in the EU. This outcome could have been very easy to predict, and yet the European countries did nothing to prevent it. In fact, all these Obama Wars (Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) have resulted in huge movements of refugees. Add to this the chaos in Egypt, Mali and the poverty all over Africa and you have a mass-exodus which no amount of wall-building, ditch-digging or refugee tear gassing will stop. And if that was not enough, the EU committed what can only be called political and economic suicide by allowing the Ukraine to explode into a major civil war involving 45 million people, a completely destroyed economy and a bona fide Nazi regime in power. That outcome was also easy to predict. But all the Euro-bureaucrats did is to impose self-defeating economic sanctions on Russia which ended up providing exactly the kind of conditions needed for the Russian economy to finally diversify and begin producing locally instead of importing everything from abroad.
It might be worth recalling here that after WWII Europe was basically occupied territory. The Soviets had the central-eastern part while the US/UK had the western part. We all have been conditioned to assume that the people living under the “oppression” of what the US propaganda called the “Warsaw Pact” (in reality called the “Warsaw Treaty Organization”) were less free than those who lived under the “protection” of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Nevermind that the term “North Atlantic” was coined deliberately to tie western Europe to the USA, the central issue here is that while in many ways the folks in the West were, indeed, granted many more freedoms than those in the East, the US/UK occupied part of Europe never recovered true sovereignty either. And just as the Soviets carefully nurtured a local comprador elite in each East European country, so did the USA in the West. The big difference only appeared in the late 1980s/early 1990s when the entire Soviet-run system came crashing down while the US-run system came out reinforced as a result of the Soviet collapse. If anything, since 1991 the US iron grip over the EU became even stronger than before.
The sad reality is simple: the EU is a US colony, run by US puppets who are simply unable to stand up for basic and obvious European interests.
The EU is in a deep political crisis
Up until the late 1980s, there used to be some more or less “real” opposition “Left” parties in Europe. In fact, Italy and France the Communists almost came to power. But as soon as the Soviet system collapsed, all the European opposition parties either vanished or were rapidly co-opted by the system. And, just as in the US, former Trotskysts became Neocons almost overnight. As a result, Europe lost the little opposition it had to the Anglo-Zionist Empire and became a “politically pacified” land. What the French call “la pensée unique” or the “single thought” has now triumphed, at least if one judges by the corporate media. Politics has turned into a make believe show where various actors pretend to deal with real issues when in reality all they talk about are invented, artificially created “problems” which they then “solve” (homosexual “marriage” being the perfect example). The only form of meaningful politics left in the EU is separatism (Scottish, Basque, Catalan, etc.) but so far, it has failed to produce any alternative.
In this brave new world of pretend politics nobody is in charge of real problems which are never tackled directly, but only shoved under the carpet until the next election and that inevitably only worsens everything. As for the EU’s Anglo-Zionist overlords, they don’t care what happens unless their own interests are directly affected.
You could say that the Titanic is sinking and the orchestra keeps playing, and you would be close to the truth. Everybody hates the Captain and crew, but nobody know whom to replace them with.

In Case You Forgot: Television Is Not The Truth

Voor het geval dat u het vergeten bent:

TELEVISION IS NOT THE TRUTH

Because you people and 62 million other Americans are listening to me right now. Because less than 3 percent of you people read books. Because less than 15 percent of you read newspapers. Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. 
Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers. This tube is the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world. 
And woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people. And that’s why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA – the Communication Corporation of America. There’s a new Chairman of the Board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the 20th floor. 
And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network. 
So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television’s a goddamn amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business. 
So if you want the truth, go to God. Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves, because that’s the only place you’re going to find any real truth. But, man, you’re never gonna get any truth from us. 
We’ll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We’ll tell you that Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he’s gonna win. 
We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! 
But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. 
You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube. You eat like the tube. You raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion!
So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I am speaking to you now! Turn them off!

Boycot Egyptian Military Regime

VIDEO: Al-Jazeera Journalists Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison in Egypt 

Posted on Aug 29, 2015
A Cairo court has sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists to three years in prison on charges that legal experts said were unfounded and politically motivated. Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were led away from court after the verdict Saturday. Australian Peter Greste was deported to Australia earlier this year and was tried in absentia.
The move has sparked worldwide outrage, with the European Union describing the verdict as “a setback for freedom of expression in Egypt.” In this video, Amal Clooney, lawyer for defendant Mohamed Fahmy, calls on the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, to overturn the court’s decision.
According to Al-Jazeera, “the journalists had been initially found guilty in June 2014 of aiding a ‘terrorist organization,’ a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.” Read more here.
—Posted by Roisin Davis

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/video_al_jazeera_journalists_sentenced_to_3_years_in_jail_in_egypt_20150829


Henk Hoflands 'Hillary' 11

Martin O’Malley Accuses DNC of ‘Rigging’ 2016 Primaries for Hillary 

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

    Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, addresses the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee. (Jim Mone / AP)

Democratic presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley said Friday at the Democratic National Committee’s annual summer meeting that the party’s process for nominating a candidate for the 2016 presidential election was “rigged” in favor of Hillary Clinton.
O’Malley is frustrated that the committee has scheduled just four debates before the first primary vote in Iowa and just six debates total. By contrast, the Republican Party has scheduled 12 primary debates.
Conducting so few debates before the Iowa primary gives voters little time to develop opinions about the candidates based on their unscripted confrontations with one another. This increases the influence of political advertising on shaping voter perception of the candidates.
The Guardian reports:
“The Republicans stand before the nation, malign our president’s record of achievements, denigrate women and immigrant families, double down on trickle-down, and tell their false story,” the former Maryland governor said. “We respond with crickets, tumbleweeds and a cynical move to delay and limit our own party debates.”
His presidential rival Bernie Sanders reportedly told journalists that he agreed with O’Malley that the primary process was rigged.
“One debate in Iowa. That’s it. One debate in New Hampshire,” O’Malley said, adding that the New Hampshire debate was “cynically wedged into the high point of the holiday shopping season so as few people watch it as possible”. Parts of his speech demanding debates received standing ovations from the crowd.
After he spoke, there was frost in the air between O’Malley and the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as the governor left the podium, which led many on Twitter to believe that she snubbed him. In fact, they did shake hands – but with visible enmity.
Read more here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/martin_omalley_accuses_dnc_of_rigging_the_2016_primary_for_hillary_20150829

Boycot Israel 136

First national trade union in the US to endorse BDS ... 

Seems the Adelson-Saban-Clinton-AIPAC-J Street-Jewish Federation-ADL-Hillel-Nutty Christian Fundamentalist-Hollywood moguls-Etc multi-million dollar, neo-McCarthyist crusade to undermine BDS is not going well!

Omar



U.S. Industrial Union Votes to Endorse BDS

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America votes in favor of boycotting Israel, supporting Iran deal.

Haaretz -- 30 August 2015 

One of the more prominent industrial unions in the U.S. voted to endorse the goals of the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, citing "its long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians," thus purportedly becoming the first nationwide union to do so.

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers' national convention met in Baltimore last week and voted on a string of foreign and as well as domestic policy issues, including the call to boycott Israel and support the nuclear deal with Iran.

According to a statement on the UE's website, the union voted in favor of the "Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel", and cited Israel’s sordid human rights record: "starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel."

The move's goal, the union said, was "to pressure Israel to end its apartheid over the Palestinians just as similar tactics helped to end South African apartheid in the 1980s." The union further called for the U.S. aid to Israel to be cut off and expressed support for "the right to return."

The union also voted on a number of other foreign policy issues, including the demand to end U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and other regions.

"We (need) to get rid of this culture of war,” said Mike Ferritto, a local delegate. “We have done enough damage. We need to get out of the Middle East," said Brandon Dutton, another delegate.

The vote on Israel was prompted by an encounter with Palestinian trade unionists during the World Social Forum in Tunisia. Delegate Autumn Martinez, who cosponsored the resolution and participated in the meet, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting what is going on. Free Palestine!”

The New Fascism 6

Sonja heeft een nieuwe reactie op je bericht "The New Fascism 5" achtergelaten:

West Point professor calls on US military to target legal critics of war on terror

The West Point faculty member urges the US to wage “total war” on “Islamism”, using “conventional and nuclear force and [psychological operations]”, in order to “leave them prepared to coexist with the West or be utterly eradicated”. He suggests in a footnote that “threatening Islamic holy sites might create deterrence, discredit Islamism, and falsify the assumption that decadence renders Western restraint inevitable”. 


West Point professor calls on US military to target legal critics of war on terror

US military academy official William Bradford argues that attacks on scholars’ home offices and media outlets – along with Islamic holy sites – are legitimate
Underclassmen attend a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
 Underclassmen attend a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
An assistant professor in the law department of the US Military Academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a “treasonous” fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants.
In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”.
Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.
“Shocking and extreme as this option might seem, [dissenting] scholars, and the law schools that employ them, are – at least in theory – targetable so long as attacks are proportional, distinguish noncombatants from combatants, employ nonprohibited weapons, and contribute to the defeat of Islamism,” Bradford wrote. 
West Point is the revered undergraduate institution north of New York City where the US army educates its future officer corps. It prides itself on the rigor of its curriculum. Representatives from the school said Bradford had only begun his employment there on 1 August. 
william bradford
 William Bradford. Photograph: West Point United States Military Academy
Bradford’s article, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column”, appeared in the most recent issue of the National Security Law Journal, a student-run publication at the George Mason School of Law. Bradford clarifies that the term means “treason of the professors”, itself an allusion to a famous attack on French intellectuals from the 1920s.
In the paper, Bradford identifies himself as an “associate professor of law, national security and strategy, National Defense University”, seemingly his previous job before West Point. But a representative of the National Defense University said Bradford was a contractor at the prestigious Defense Department-run institution, “never an NDU employee nor an NDU professor”.
It appears not to be the first time Bradford misrepresented his credentials. He resigned from Indiana University’s law school in 2005 after his military record showed he had exaggerated his service. (Among his paper’s criticisms of supposedly treasonous lawyers is “intellectual dishonesty”.)
The National Security Law Journal’s editor-in-chief has called the article’s publication a “mistake” and an “egregious breach of professional decorum”.
“We cannot ‘unpublish’ it, of course, but we can and do acknowledge that the article was not presentable for publication when we published it, and that we therefore repudiate it with sincere apologies to our readers,” the editor-in-chief, Rick Myers, wrote on the journal’s website. 
Bradford does not clearly name his academic opponents, instead using the neologistic acronym CLOACA, for “critical law of armed conflict academy” to describe them. (In nature, “cloaca” is also the name of a body cavity into which intestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts empty in some animal species.) 
The CLOACA, in turn, are part of a GMAC, or “government-media-academic complex”, which Bradford defines as an “aristocracy of senior government officials, elite media members, and university faculty, which squeezes non-members from public colloquy and shapes opinion on security, military and legal issues.” 
This “clique of about forty” scholars, Bradford writes, have “converted the US legal academy into a cohort whose vituperative pronouncements on the illegality of the US resort to force and subsequent conduct in the war against Islamism” represent a “super-weapon that supports Islamist military operations” aimed at “American political will” to fight. They are supported by “compliant journalists” marked by “defeatism, instinctive antipathy to war, and empathy for American adversaries”, but Bradford considers the lawyers a greater threat. 
The offending legal scholars “effectively tilt the battlefield against US forces [and] contribute to timorousness and lethargy in US military commanders”, he writes. They are among several “useful idiots” who “separate Islam from Islamists by attributing to the former principles in common with the West, including ‘justice and progress’ and ‘the dignity of all human beings’”.
Bradford derisively quotes Barack Obama, who has prosecuted a globalized war against al-Qaida and now the Islamic State, discussing “co-existence and cooperation” with the Islamic world in his 2009 Cairo speech.
The West Point faculty member urges the US to wage “total war” on “Islamism”, using “conventional and nuclear force and [psychological operations]”, in order to “leave them prepared to coexist with the West or be utterly eradicated”. He suggests in a footnote that “threatening Islamic holy sites might create deterrence, discredit Islamism, and falsify the assumption that decadence renders Western restraint inevitable”.
Robert Chesney of the University of Texas, a founding editor of the influential national-security law blog Lawfare, is one of the legal scholars Bradford references as pernicious – for a 2011 paper that largely defended Obama’s execution without trial of US citizen and al-Qaida preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.
“It’s very hard to take this seriously except insofar as he may actually be teaching nonsense like this to cadets at West Point,” Chesney said.
Bradford did not respond to emails and phone messages for comment. 
A spokesman for the US Military Academy, army lieutenant colonel Christopher Kasker, told the Guardian: “Dr William Bradford was hired on 1 August 2015 at the US Military Academy. His article in the National Security Law Journal titled ‘Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column’ was written and accepted for publication prior to his employment at West Point. The views in the article are solely those of Dr Bradford and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense, the United States army, the United States Military Academy.”
The US military’s educational institutions have come under fire before for promoting “total war” against Islam. In 2012, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, ordered a comprehensive scouring of anti-Islam training material after a course proposed “Hiroshima” tactics against Islamic holy sites, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary”.
The previous year, highly regarded counter-terrorism scholars affiliated with the US army aided the FBI in eradicating similar material from its own training. Those scholars came from West Point
Additional reporting by Kira Goldenberg and Megan Carpentier

Robert Parry 41

Will Peace Find a 2016 Advocate?

Exclusive: Campaign 2016 has offered few useful ideas about worsening global crises. On the Republican side, it’s been mostly the same-old tough talk while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have said little. Is there a way to break through the frozen thinking about world conflicts, asks Robert Parry.

At least since the 1980s – when Ronald Reagan made war seem like fun again and the modern mainstream media took shape – the Democratic Party has lacked a coherent foreign policy, highlighted today by the fact that its top 2016 presidential candidates have largely evaded the topic in favor – almost exclusively – of domestic issues.
Part of the problem is that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has a record of pandering to the neoconservatives during her time as a U.S. senator from New York and as Secretary of State. She voted for the Iraq War in 2002 and, while President Barack Obama’s top diplomat, supported what some call “liberal interventionism,” which is barely distinguishable from neoconservatism.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)
Indeed, arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the infamous Project for the New American Century, said – in his praise of Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy – that he was ready to jettison the term “neoconservative” in favor of the phrase “liberal interventionist.”
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department, said in 2014: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
So, it’s understandable why Hillary Clinton’s campaign has downplayed the details of how she would conduct foreign policy. Many Democrats, who opposed the Iraq War and are uncomfortable with the hawkishness that Clinton displayed as Secretary of State, would recoil at the prospect of her being a Trojan Horse for Kagan and the neocons to sneak inside another Democratic administration to continue their bloody strategies.
Though Sen. Bernie Sanders, her principal challenger, also has chosen to downplay foreign policy issues in favor of economic ones, the Vermont “democratic socialist” can at least point to his prescient opposition to the Iraq War in 2002.
In a Senate floor speech, Sanders cited five reasons for voting against President George W. Bush’s war resolution: the death and destruction that would result, the dangerous precedent of “a unilateral invasion,” the damage to the war on terror, the “extremely expensive” price tag of “a war and a long-term American occupation,” and the “unintended consequences.”
On the last point, Sanders asked: “Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in [an] ensuing civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.”
Back-burner Issues
Though right about Iraq, Sanders is unwilling to put forward a comprehensive strategy for dealing with today’s Mideast chaos and other international tensions, including the Ukraine crisis which was partly fomented by Kagan’s neocon wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who rose to prominence under the protective wing of Secretary of State Clinton.
When Sanders has spoken about the Mideast, he has framed his comments in ways that make them acceptable to Official Washington but that ultimately make little sense. For instance, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Sanders suggested that Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikdoms replace the United States as the region’s policeman in the fight against Sunni terrorists in the Islamic State (also called ISIS).
“Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world,” Sanders said. “They’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Sanders’s Screwy Mideast Strategy.”]
Frankly, it’s hard to believe that Sanders is that naïve. A core reality of the Mideast crisis is that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni Gulf states have been the principal funders and ideological supporters of the Sunni extremists who have organized into violent jihadist movements, including Al Qaeda, its Syrian affiliate Al Nusra Front, and a hyper-violent spinoff, the Islamic State.
Vice President Joe Biden blurted out this reality at Harvard’s Kennedy School last October, when he said: “Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down [President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” [Quote at 53:20 of clip.]
Biden had confirmed something that was well-known in the region and inside the U.S. intelligence community, that many of these terrorist groups were supported, directly and indirectly, by elements of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and by oil-rich sheiks around the Persian Gulf who see themselves fighting a sectarian war against Iran and the Shiites. The Vice President later apologized for speaking the truth, but the cat was out of the bag. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Islamic State Is Winning.”]
Saudi Arabia’s Dirty Hands
The Saudi role in this regional chaos dates back to its financing of fundamentalist Wahabbi teachings and its encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980. Later that decade, the Saudis co-sponsored – with the CIA – the Afghan mujahedeen who fought a Soviet-backed secular government in Kabul. The Afghan conflict poured billions of dollars in weapons into the hands of Islamic extremists, including a Saudi named Osama bin Laden, and created the basis for an international jihadist terror movement called Al Qaeda.
Even after Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials shielded the Saudis from the wrath of the American people. After consulting with Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin-Sultan, Bush agreed to let bin Laden’s family members in the United States board the first planes let back into the air, with only perfunctory FBI questioning. Later, Bush suppressed a 28-page section of the congressional 9/11 report about Saudi support for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were identified as Saudi nationals. (Obama has continued to withhold those 28 pages.)
But the Saudis were not always happy with Bush’s actions. In 2003, when Bush’s invasion of Iraq had the unintended consequence of replacing a Sunni autocrat, Saddam Hussein, with Shiite autocrats, the Saudis saw the regional balance of power tilt toward Shiite-ruled Iran, which suddenly had allies in power in Baghdad.
In response, the Saudis stepped up their support of Sunni militant movements in Iraq and then Syria with the goal of frustrating Iraq’s government and removing Syria’s Assad, an Alawite (a Shiite spinoff sect), and replacing him with a Sunni.
As Saudi Arabia intervened more aggressively in this regional fight against Iran, the Saudi royals reached out to Israel, which shared Riyadh’s hostility toward Iran. Israel also favored “regime change” in Syria and saw the war there as a way also to undermine Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, a Shiite force on Israel’s northern border. This de facto Saudi-Israeli alliance guaranteed strong support within the U.S. government and media for the effort to remove Assad from power. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Money Seal Israeli-Saudi Alliance?”]
The Gulf states also recognized that the most effective fighters against Assad were the Sunni jihadists, especially Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Thus, much of the Gulf money and weapons flowed in those directions, as Biden revealed.
So, in regards to Sanders’s lament about the need for the super-rich Saudis to “get their hands dirty,” the truth is that the Saudis have long been getting their hands not only dirty but bloody.
A Looming Genocide
The Sunni terror groups operating in Iraq and Syria have served essentially as Saudi Arabia’s irregular forces fighting a sectarian war against the Shiites. In Syria, these Sunni extremists also have targeted the Christians, Alawites and other minorities for possible extermination if Assad’s military collapses.
Besides these proxy forces, the Saudis have intervened directly in Yemen with an indiscriminate bombing campaign against Houthi rebels who follow a version of Shiite Islam. The Saudi attacks have not only killed thousands of civilians but created a humanitarian crisis in the poverty-stricken country on Saudi Arabia’s southern border.
Thus, Sanders’s idea that – just because the Saudis are rich – they should expand their military operations throughout the region is as dangerous as it is ludicrous. It would guarantee a major escalation of the bloodletting and the chaos. The proposal only serves to underscore how bereft the Democrats are when it comes to expressing a coherent alternative foreign policy as a challenge to the dominance of the neocons and their liberal-interventionist cohorts.
So, what could be an alternative that would allow Democratic candidates to make sense and avoid being dismissed as unrealistic pacifists or foolhardy isolationists? And no progressive should underestimate the political risk that goes with any deviation from the “tough-guy/gal-ism” of Official Washington. The easiest attack line against anyone advocating restraint and negotiations is a reference to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Adolf Hitler at Munich before World War II.
But there are politically savvy ways to counter the power of the neocons and the liberal hawks:
–Stand for transparency in foreign policy. Instead of letting neocons and liberal hawks shape the narratives of foreign crises by demonizing foes and hiding inconvenient truths, demand as much disclosure as possible especially regarding pivotal events. Over the past several decades, the neocons and liberal hawks have monopolized the information flows, allowing them to exaggerate threats beyond what the actual intelligence supports. We have seen this pattern in every crisis, from Iraq’s bogus WMD threat in 2003 to the mystery of who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014. American voters would not punish a candidate for insisting that more information be shared with the people.
–On a related point, repudiate the notion that information should be shaped into a strategic weapon of propaganda warfare. It is now a trendy concept inside the State Department and Washington think tanks that clever propaganda can be used as a “soft power” weapon to weaken an adversary. Some liberal interventionists think this “soft power” manipulation of facts is preferable to “hard power” military action, but that misses the point, since deceiving the public, which must include the American people as well as a foreign target audience, is an assault on democracy. Also, as we have seen, propaganda can be a gateway drug to full-scale war.
No Entangling Alliances
–Remind voters about the wisdom of the early U.S. presidents who warned repeatedly against foreign entangling alliances. Endless warfare against exaggerated bogeymen around the world may sound tough during a debate or a talking-head moment on TV but such belligerence inevitably destroys the Republic. A more recent example of how foolhardy hasty interventionism can be is the Iraq War, which was embraced by not only neocons but many liberals who fancied themselves as doves until they realized that their careers might suffer so they reinvented themselves as hawks. As an opponent of the Iraq War, Sanders, in particular, is in a very strong position to hammer away at the “geniuses” who gave us the disastrous Iraq War.
–This is harder but be prepared to stand in the way of the next propaganda-driven stampede against some demonized foreign “enemy.” To do so requires some political courage. You will surely be called a “(fill-in-the-blank) apologist,” but respond by noting the much greater danger of another “group think.” Remind people how other Orwellian “five minutes hate” sessions against various foreign leaders led the United States into terrible mistakes and bloody misjudgments.
–Sometimes, non-governmental organizations with labels asserting their commitment to “human rights” or “democracy promotion” can be very successful in focusing attention on some offensive act in a target country (while ignoring similar or worse offenses in “friendly” countries). Remember, this is how propaganda works – by using selective outrage. Not all NGOs are fair-minded observers. Some are fronts for governments and special interests.
–Stress the value of “realism” in foreign policy, i.e., the concept of weighing the cons as well as the pros of some intervention. Just because taking action at some passion-filled moment may feel good, it doesn’t necessarily do good.
–Reflect on how America does best, both economically and geopolitically, when countries are at relative peace and have achieved some prosperity. America’s greatest “soft power” is its ability to sell its products to the world and to benefit from the symbiosis that comes when people around the world appreciate U.S. inventiveness and innovation. By destabilizing entire regions and promiscuously imposing economic sanctions, the U.S. government disrupts these positive relationships. Perhaps a new slogan could be: “Make money, not war.”
Just as police domestically should work on conflict resolution rather than pulling out their tasers and guns, U.S. diplomats should concentrate on deescalating crises rather than swaggering in with harsh rhetoric, sanction threats and “regime change” strategies.
–Though this point is risky, suggest that America might benefit from rearranging its alliances in the Middle East, confronting Saudi Arabia over its covert support of terrorism and demanding that Israel finally resolve its disruptive conflict with the Palestinians. As part of this shift, the United States could encourage Iran to play a stabilizing role in Iraq and Syria and push both governments to share power more equitably with Sunnis, thus undercutting jihadist violence. Russia, with its influence in Iran and Syria, could be helpful, too.
What’s Possible?
But can an alternative foreign policy really be built around truth-telling, resistance to “perception management” and respectful diplomacy even toward adversarial governments? Obviously, a big problem is the U.S. news media which tends to hype whatever propaganda is being spread about some designated villain and then berates anyone who dares suggest that there might be two sides to the story.
Building a more independent and fair-minded media will be a long-term project. Right now, challenges to the latest “group think” are confined mostly to some Internet sites and small-audience radio shows. And there’s the additional confusion because some hip Internet sites are simply the latest fad in propaganda, essentially fronts for the same misinformation that gets spread by the mainstream media except operating behind the façade of “civic journalism” or some innocent-sounding goals like “fighting corruption” and “protecting human rights.”
Yet, despite all the difficulties that a politician would confront if he or she chose to strike out in a more peaceful and more truthful direction, there is urgency to undertake this mission.
For one, continued U.S. confusion over the civil war in Syria – whether it be Hillary Clinton’s fanciful notions about arming the non-existent “moderate” rebels or Bernie Sanders’s silly idea about demanding that Saudi Arabia subdue the Mideast by force – could lead to a genuine catastrophe if the black flag of Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State is raised over Damascus.
Between Al Qaeda plotting new terror attacks on the West and the Islamic State chopping off the heads of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics,” there might be little choice for the U.S. president – whoever he or she is – to intervene on a massive scale, launching a new hopeless war that could well be the final death blow to the American Republic.
Even more dangerous is the showdown with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine. Since February 2014 when Assistant Secretary of State Nuland plotted “regime change” in Kiev, the American public has been fed a steady diet of anti-Russian propaganda with the special demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Though a resolution to the Ukrainian civil war should have been relatively simple – autonomy for ethnic Russians in the east and respect for Crimea’s secession referendum from Ukraine – the extreme rhetoric about “Russian aggression” and the West’s imposition of economically disruptive sanctions have ratcheted up tensions and raised the possibility of a nuclear war.
Though all might hope that cooler heads will prevail before the nuclear codes come out, the West’s “tough-guy/gal-ism” over Ukraine already has contributed to less existential though still serious problems, including the risk of another global financial meltdown because the sanctions have helped stall Europe’s already sluggish recovery from the Wall Street crash of 2008.
At this moment when the world’s economy needs more commerce and more consumer buying power, the Ukraine crisis has contributed to less business and less spending, dragging down the economies of China and the United States as well as Europe.
Meanwhile, the neocon-liberal-hawk-driven chaos of the Middle East has added to Europe’s budgetary and political pressures by flooding the Continent with refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Africa. Not only is this humanitarian crisis deepening Europe’s economic woes, it is threatening to splinter the Continent’s fragile unity with many countries refusing to open their borders to these waves of humanity.
Given these cascading dangers, it is well past time for American politicians of both parties to get serious about practical ways to ease geopolitical tensions, not exacerbate them. Instead, pretty much all we’re getting from Republicans and Democrats is more unrealistic tough talk.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.