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

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 6 februari 2016

U.S. Wants War With Russia

U.S. Now Overtly at War Against Russia

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on February 2nd that he approves of US ‘Defense’ Secretary Ash Carter’s proposal to quadruple US armaments and troops in Europe, against ‘Russian aggression’.
Secretary Carter said earlier that same day, in his announcement of America’s arming for war against Russia:
We are reinforcing our posture in Europe to support our NATO allies in the face of Russia’s aggression. In Pentagon parlance, this is called the European Reassurance Initiative and after requesting about $800 million for last year, this year we’re more than quadrupling it for a total of $3.4 billion in 2017.
That will fund a lot of things: more rotational US forces in Europe, more training and exercising with our allies, more preposition and war-fighting gear and infrastructure improvements to support all this.
And when combined with US forces already in and assigned to Europe – which are also substantial – all of this together by the end of 2017 will let us rapidly form a highly capable combined arms ground force that can respond across that theater, if necessary.
The US is preparing for an invasion of Russia.
«By the end of 2017» the US will be prepared to invade Russia.
Secretary Carter went on to say:
Russia and China are our most stressing competitors. They have developed and are continuing to advance military system[s] that seek to threaten our advantages in specific areas. And in some case[s], they are developing weapons and ways of wars that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before they hope, we can respond.
Because of this and because of their actions to date, from Ukraine to the South China Sea, DOD has elevated their importance in our defense planning and budgeting.
Since he is a Secretary of ‘Defense’ instead of a Secretary of Offense, he immediately added:
While we do not desire conflict of any kind with either of these nations – and let me be clear.
That’s all there was to the assertion there; he didn’t finish the sentence, nor even the thought. But in this offhanded way, he did at least try to give the impression that the US is never an aggressor – for example: that, though the US is expanding NATO right up to Russia’s borders, Russia is being the ‘aggressor’ to move troops and weapons up to those borders – up to Russia’s own borders (to counter the US & NATO invasion-threat, of course; but, no: it’s to threaten NATO, if you believe the West).
In the statements by Ash Carter, Barack Obama, and Jens Stoltenberg, that’s ‘Russian aggression’. In the allegory by George Orwell, 1984, America’s rhetoric is called simply «Newspeak».
It’s as if during the Soviet Union (i.e., before 1991), when Nikita Khrushchev was the aggressor in 1962 and John Kennedy was the defender (against Soviet missiles in Cuba), Khrushchev had refused to yield and said that Soviet nuclear missiles near the US had only a defensive, not offensive, purpose (no purpose for a blitz nuclear attack against the US too fast for the US to be able to get its missiles launched in retaliation). Kennedy said no to that idea then, and Putin says no to that idea (right on Russia’s very borders) now. The US, in post-Soviet, post-communist, Russia, has turned around and become the aggressor – against the now democratic nation of Russia. (And Putin’s approval-rating from the Russian people is at least 80%, whereas Obama’s approval-rating from the American people is near 50%.)
We’ve switched roles. The US has turned to dictatorship, while Russia has turned to democracy. It’s a super-switcheroo. ‘Democracy’ in the US has become, during recent decades, the election of Presidents and congresspersons who were campaigning on lies, and who then actually delivered more like the opposite, as their actual governmental policies.
A good example of this is that when Mr Obama was campaigning for re-election to the Presidency in 2012, he outright mocked his opponent Mitt Romney’s asserting (2:22 on the video) that, «Russia, this is without question our number one geopolitical foe». But the moment that Obama became re-elected, Obama activated a 1957 CIA plan to overthrow Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and a more-recent CIA and State Department plan to overthrow the actually neutralist Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine and replace him with a rabidly anti-Russian government. The head of Stratfor called it «the most blatant coup in history,» and it was an extremely bloody coup, followed by a civil war – and economic collapse, and even more corruption there. In addition, Obama carried out a French plan to overthrow Russia’s ally Muammar Gaddafi in Syria.
All of these plans were strongly welcomed by Russia’s main oil-market competitors, all of them fundamentalist Sunni Arab financial backers of jihadists: the Saud royal family of Saudi Arabia, and the Thani royal family of Qatar, as well as the Sabah royal family of Kuwait, and the six royal families of the UAE. Those royals own most of the world’s oil, and only Russia and its ally Iran are even in that league. All of those Sunni Arab royal families (especially the Sauds) are the main financial backers of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other jihadist groups, all of which are fundamentalist Sunni terrorist groups, which especially aim to exterminate all Shiites – and Shiites just happen to be supported by Russia. (The US overthrew the democratically elected progressive President of Iran and installed the tyrannous Shah, back in 1953, and Iranians have loathed the US government ever since.)
President Obama, in his second Administration, ceased his previous focus against the Sunni group al-Qaeda, and refocused US policy to be against Russia, even to the extent of supporting al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other rabidly anti-Russian Sunni groups, who are driving millions of refugees from Syria, Libya, etc., into Europe. (Of course, Obama’s rhetoric remains against those Sunni extremists – just as his rhetoric was against Romney’s policies that Obama ended up imposing in his second term.) All of those terrorist groups are allied with the Sunni Arab royal families against Shiite-led Iran, and Shiite-allied Syria.
The fundamentalist Sunni beliefs of the Arab royal families have, since at least 1744, been committed to exterminating all Shiites. Now that Shiite and Shiite-allied nations are supported by Russia, the United States is more overtly than ever preparing to conquer Russia, for the benefit of the aristocracies of America, and of Arabia.
And there are many other examples of President Obama’s policies exposing him to be an example of «the election of Presidents and congresspersons who were campaigning on lies, and who then actually delivered more like the opposite, as policies», such as his claiming to champion democracy in Syria when his actual demand regarding Syria is to block democracy there because all the evidence shows that it would result in an overwhelming electoral victory for Bashar al-Assad. And another example is Obama’s support of the right of self-determination of peoples regarding Scotland and Catalonia, but not in Crimea, nor in Donbas, nor in Abkhazia. The United Nations supports the right of self-determination of peoples everywhere, and Ban Ki-moon has clearly stated that America’s demand for the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power is alien to the principles upon which the United Nations was founded.
 
So: the US regime is moving toward a nuclear confrontation against Russia, as a ‘defensive’ measure against ‘Russian aggression’.
Obama had previously used ‘The Iran Threat’ as his basis for placing anti-ballistic missiles in European countries near and bordering Russia, but he can’t do that anymore and so he’s now doing it with what had been his actual motive all along: to ‘protect’ Europe from ‘Russian aggression’.
What had led up to Romney’s assertion that Russia «is without question our number one geopolitical foe» was his having been baited by CNN to comment upon a private statement that Obama had made to Dmitry Medvedev, saying that, «This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility». CNN didn’t say what that matter was about, but simply baited Romney with it for Romney to play the Red-scare Joseph R. McCarthy role, which Romney did (McCarthy, of the anti-communist witch-hunts, being a Republican hero). Reuters explained what the context was, what Obama had been replying to there: Putin’s concern was that placing anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) in Europe to strip Russia of its ability to retaliate against a first-strike from NATO forces in Europe, was unacceptable. Obama was telling that he would «have more flexibility» against Republican hate-mongers against Russia, after he’d win re-election. It was just another lie from him. He won re-election and turned out to be actually a black Mitt Romney. In fact, Obama had spent his entire first term deceiving the entire world to think that he rejected Republicans being «stuck in a Cold War mind warp», as he put it. It was all merely an act for him. He should be in Hollywood, not in the White House.
If this cat gets much farther out of the bag, it’s not just the cat but the whole world that will be lost.
The first priority for a President Bernie Sanders, or for a President Donald Trump, must be to undo the Bush-Obama foreign policy, because it certainly won’t be undone by a President Hillary Clinton, nor by a President Ted Cruz, nor by a President Marco Rubio – and this is the main thing that’s at stake in the current US Presidential contest. What’s at stake here is nothing less than whether civilization even survives another few decades. That’s now seriously at question, and trillions are being spent right now to bring it to an end.
This isn’t kid’s stuff. And it’s not really rocket science, either. It’s instead a fundamental and stark moral issue, that’s staring the entire world in the face right now. And it hasn’t got a thing to do with religion, but it has a lot to do with restoring democracy where it has been eroded down to virtually nothing.
Democracy requires a truthfully informed public. And that’s the truth. Let’s get with it, before it’s too late to do so.
The likelihood of a nuclear war has never been higher than it is now, except perhaps for the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the entire world was being informed about that then, and what about the situation now? This time around, the situation is perhaps even more serious. The urgency of the situation is critical.
Is this the type of ‘news’ coverage we’ll continue to get on the world’s top matter – that Russia is invading our territory, when we’re actually constantly invading (and perpetrating coups) in theirs, and they’re actually doing what they must do in order to defend the Russian people themselves from NATO?
End NATO now. Or else it (and its cooperative ‘news’ media in the West) will end us all. The whole expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders has been based upon US President George Herbert Walker Bush’s lie to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, which induced Gorbachev to end not just the Soviet Union but their equivalent of NATO, the Warsaw Pact – all of which Russia did do in 1991. Russia has consistently fulfilled its part of the bargain, but GHWB’s vicious violation of his promise has been consistently followed, adhered to, by American Presidents ever since. The deceit goes on, and the US is now heading towards culminating the most dangerous lie in world history.
Eric Zuesse, Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .

Warren Looms Large

Elizabeth Warren Looms Large In 2016 Presidential Race

She's not running, and she hasn't endorsed. But her influence is everywhere.

 02/05/2016 10:20 pm ET | Updated 3 hours ago
JACQUELYN MARTIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a strongly felt presence in the 2016 presidential election, even though she isn't running. Some voters are eager to hear where she stands on the matter of Bernie vs. Hillary.
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Betsy Burtis, 52, is one of the most sought-after people in the country this week: She's an undecided voter in New Hampshire.
"I think Bernie speaks to my heart, and Hillary speaks to my head," the Derry resident told The Huffington Post Wednesday after a CNN town hall forum featuring Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. 
Burtis didn't think she'd have to go through all this. She was a volunteer for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's presidential campaign, until he dropped out after the Iowa caucuses. 
Burtis said if O'Malley were to endorse either former Secretary of State Clinton, or independent Vermont Sen. Sanders, that wouldn't really make a difference in her decision. But there is one person's backing that would: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
"It would make a difference. ... I was really hoping she would run this time," Burtis said, adding that she wanted to see Warren become the first female president. 
Warren, of course, isn't running. She resisted a loud effort to draft her into the race, repeatedly insisting she had no interest in the Oval Office. Although she also hasn't endorsed anyone yet, she is a constant presence in the race. 
Without Warren, Sanders likely would not be the phenomenon he is now. His entire candidacy is based on exploiting an intra-party rift that Warren opened up by talking about Wall Street after the crash. By making corporate accountability a top issue for the party and highlighting the ways Democrats in Washington weren't taking it seriously, she helped create the coalition that is now backing Sanders. 
Sanders' primary message is that big money and corporate interests have tilted the economy and political system against regular people. It's a theme that Warren has long made her trademark, as Sanders readily points out. 
"When I talk about our economy, I use the term a 'rigged economy.' People like Elizabeth Warren and I use that term," Sanders said Friday at a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast forum in Manchester.
Sanders also invoked Warren during Thursday night's Democratic debate when responding to Clinton's resistance to restoring the banking law known as Glass-Steagall. 
"Folks who have looked at this issue for a long time, whether it's Elizabeth Warren or many other economists, will tell you that right now, yes, we do need a 21st century Glass-Steagall legislation," Sanders said. 
But Clinton, too, has tried to associate herself with the Massachusetts senator. On Thursday, Clinton retweeted Warren's criticism of a House GOP bill making it harder for the federal government to go after financial crimes. 
Warren and Clinton's ties actually go back to the 1998, when Clinton read an opinion piece by Warren, who was then a professor at Harvard Law School. She was interested in Warren's arguments against a bankruptcy reform bill before Congress, which was being heavily pushed by credit card companies. Clinton met with Warren, who walked away impressed. 
The first lady then went back to the White House and persuaded her husband to veto the bill. 
"She turned around a whole administration on the subject of bankruptcy. She got it," Warren told PBS host Bill Moyers in a 2004 interview. 
Clinton, however, then voted in favor of bankruptcy reform when she was a senator in 2001. She said the provisions she was most concerned about, which she had discussed with Warren, had been removed.
A Warren endorsement would be a nice boost to either candidate, especially with the debate focused upon what it means to be a progressive. Warren's progressive credentials are unquestioned, and she remains incredibly popular with the Democratic base. 
"I wouldn't say so much that we've reached out, but I know Sen. Sanders speaks to Sen. Warren. They're colleagues, they've chatted," Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "But it's not so much that we're kind of leaning on her or anything. We'd love to have her support and the support of others in the Democratic Party, but that's her decision with what she does about it."
The Clinton campaign didn't return a request for comment.
Although endorsing Sanders may seem like a natural fit, Warren is facing pressure from her fellow Democratic senators to back Clinton. She is the only Democratic woman in the Senate who has not publicly endorsed Clinton -- several of them came up to New Hampshire to campaign for her in the final days before the primaries -- and some of her colleagues told The Hill that they've been talking to her about joining them
"I've told Sen. Warren that we would welcome her anytime she's ready," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).  
Warren, for her part, has been sticking to her core issues -- no doubt getting a boost because of the focus from the presidential race, and in turn fueling activist pressure on the candidates themselves to address the issues. 
This week, she delivered a scorching speech from the Senate floor, calling the criminal justice system "rigged" and going after the House GOP bill on financial crimes. It followed a report released by her office documenting 20 cases in which federal officials had enough evidence against corporate malfeasance to issue fines -- but a corporate offender went to jail in only one case.
And on Tuesday, she delivered a big speech -- it already has more than half a million views on Facebook -- against the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Deal that both Clinton and Sanders oppose. (Clinton came out much later against the deal, under significant pressure from activists to do so.) 
With the success of Sanders and his populist message, some Democrats are still wondering what would have happened if Warren had run -- even if they are happy with the current primary field. 
"She would have had my vote 100 percent," said Courtney Kuketz, 29, a Massachusetts resident who attended the CNN town hall in Derry Wednesday and is backing Clinton. "She has stood by everything she's ever said, and she's done it. That's why if she had run, she would have had my support."
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Huffington Post Friday that he thinks another progressive candidate, such as Warren, could have been a strong contender as well this cycle. Grijalva is one of just two lawmakers who have endorsed Sanders. 
"Bernie stepped up," he added. "He's it now, and I think he's galvanized around ideas. ... I'm happy Bernie's in it."
"The good news here is that we have a very rich bench," added Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a Clinton supporter. "There could have been a number of people who offered themselves up as candidates for president. I think we've got two of the best right now."
Julia Craven contributed reporting.
This piece has been updated with additional background on Clinton and Warren.



Robert Parry


Giving Peace Very Little Chance



Exclusive: What the next U.S. president can do to bring endless warfare to an end is one of the most important issues of Campaign 2016, but it is getting only a cursory treatment in debates as politicians seem to fear neocon wrath if they seek peace, writes Robert Parry.

After nearly 15 years of Mideast war – with those conflicts growing ever grimmer – you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.

No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies – besides more and more “regime changes” – that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.

Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.

But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels).

Blasting Iran

In Thursday’s debate – coming off her razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses – Clinton painted Iran as the big regional threat, putting herself fully in line with the neocon position.

“We have to figure out how to deal with Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Clinton said. “They are destabilizing governments in the region. They continue to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon against Israel. …
“If we were to normalize relations right now [with Iran], we would remove one of the biggest pieces of leverage we have to try to influence and change Iranian behavior. … I believe we have to take this step by step to try to rein in Iranian aggression, their support for terrorism and the other bad behavior that can come back and haunt us.”
Iran, of course, has been a longtime neocon target for “regime change” along with Syria (and before that Iraq). Many neocons were disappointed when President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained peaceful (an accord reached after John Kerry replaced Clinton as Secretary of State). The neocons had been hoping that the U.S. military would join Israel in an air war to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” — as Sen. John McCain once famously declared.
Yet, there were other distortions in Clinton’s statement. While it’s true that Iran has aided Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel, Clinton ignored other factors, such as Israeli acts of aggression against both Lebanon, where Hezbollah emerged as resistance to an Israeli invasion and occupation in the 1980s, and the Palestinians who have faced Israeli oppression for generations.
Silence on the ‘Allies’
In the debate, Clinton also avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for their military and financial assistance to radical jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. At the urging of Clinton, the Obama administration also approved military shipments to Syrian rebels who then either turned over or sold U.S. weapons to the extremists.
Iran’s role in Syria has been to help support the internationally recognized government of Bashar al-Assad, whose military remains the principal bulwark protecting Syria’s Christian, Alawite, Shiite and other minorities from possible genocide if Al Qaeda-connected jihadists prevailed.
Clinton also ignored her own role in creating a haven for these terror groups across the Middle East because of her support for the Iraq War and her instigation of the 2011 “regime change” in Libya which created another failed state where Islamic State and various extremists have found a home and started chopping of the heads of “infidels.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who battled Clinton to a virtual tie in Iowa, took a somewhat less belligerent position at Thursday’s debate, repeating his rather naïve idea of having Sunni states lead the fight against Sunni jihadists. On the more reasonable side, he indicated a willingness to work with Russia and other world powers in support of an anti-jihadist coalition.
“It must be Muslim troops on the ground that will destroy ISIS, with the support of a coalition of major powers — U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Russia,” Sanders said. “So our job is to provide them the military equipment that they need; the air support they need; special forces when appropriate. But at the end of the day for a dozen different reasons … the combat on the ground must be done by Muslim troops with our support. We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
Sanders continued, “We cannot be the policeman of the world. We are now spending more I believe than the next eight countries on defense. We have got to work in strong coalition with the major powers of the world and with those Muslim countries that are prepared to stand up and take on terrorism. So I would say that the key doctrine of the Sanders administration would be no, we cannot continue to do it alone; we need to work in coalition.”

Sounding Less Hawkish

While Sanders clearly sought to sound less hawkish than Clinton – and did not repeat his earlier talking point about the Saudis and others “getting their hands dirty” – he did not address the reality that many of the Sunni countries that he hopes to enlist in the fight against the jihadists are already engaged – on the side of the jihadists.

Clinton, as she seeks to cut into Sanders’s lead in New Hampshire polls, has been stressing her “progressive” credentials, but many progressive Democrats suspect that Clinton could become a neocon Trojan Horse.
Arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, has praised Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy.
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department (while his wife Victoria Nuland received big promotions under Clinton), 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?”]

Not only did Clinton vote for the Iraq War – and support it until it became a political liability during Campaign 2008 – but she rejoined the neocon/liberal-hawk ranks as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. She routinely sided with neocon holdovers, such as Gen. David Petraeus, regarding Mideast wars and Israel’s hardline regime in its hostilities toward the Palestinians and Iran.

In 2011, Clinton pushed for “regime change” in Libya, chortling over Muammar Gaddafi’s torture-murder in October 2011, “We came. We saw. He died.” Since then, Libya has descended into a failed state with the Islamic State and other jihadists claiming more and more territory.

Clinton also favored an outright (though limited) U.S. military invasion of Syria, setting up a “safe zone” or “no-fly zone” that would protect militants fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government. Over and over again, she has adopted positions virtually identical to what the neocons prescribe.

But Sanders, although he opposed the Iraq War, has hesitated to challenge Clinton too directly on foreign policy, apparently fearing to distract from his focus on income inequality and domestic concerns. He apparently has chosen fuzziness on foreign policy as the better part of political valor.

GOP Neocons Score

On the Republican side, the first week of the presidential delegate-selection process saw two candidates who mildly questioned the neocon conventional wisdom face reversals. Billionaire Donald Trump was upset in the Iowa caucuses and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul shut down his flailing campaign.

Trump has noted his opposition to the Iraq War and his willingness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against jihadist terror, while Paul pushed a libertarian-style approach that questioned neocon interventionism but not as aggressively as his father did, apparently hoping to avoid Ron Paul’s marginalization as “an isolationist.”

While Trump and Paul stumbled this week, neocon favorite Marco Rubio surged to a strong third-place finish, catapulting past other establishment candidates who – while largely me-too-ing the neocon orthodoxy on foreign policy – are not as identified with pure neoconservatism as the youthful Florida senator is.

However, even the non-neocons have opted for visceral warmongering. Tea Party favorite and winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has vowed to “carpet bomb” Islamic State strongholds and promised to see “if sand can glow in the dark,” as he told a Tea Party rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The phrase “glow in the dark” popularly refers to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb detonation.
However, as hardline as Cruz is, he still received a tongue-lashing from the neocon-flagship Washington Post for not doing a “full-neocon” when he suggested that the United States should not focus on “regime change” in Syria. Cruz has worried that overthrowing Assad’s government might pave the way for a victory by the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist terrorists.

In a Dec. 31, 2015 editorial, the Post’s editors instead hailed neocon favorite Rubio for arguing “forcefully” for Assad’s removal and castigated Cruz for saying Assad’s ouster was “a distraction at best – and might even empower the jihadist.”

A Beloved ‘Group Think’

It is one of Official Washington’s most beloved “group thinks” that Syrian “regime change” – a neocon goal dating back to the 1990s – must take precedence over the possible creation of a military vacuum that could bring the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda to power.

After all, it won’t be the sons and daughters of well-connected neocons who are sent to invade and occupy Syria to reverse the capture of Damascus by the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So, the Post’s editors, who in 2002-03 told the American people as flat fact that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD, engaged in similar exaggerations and lies about Assad in demonizing Cruz for his apostasy.
“Mr. Cruz is arguing for a stridently anti-American and nakedly genocidal dictator who sponsored terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq and serves as a willing puppet of Iran,” the Post wrote.

That is typical of what a politician can expect if he or she deviates from the neocon line, even if you’re someone as belligerent as Cruz. Any apostasy from neocon orthodoxy is treated most harshly.

There is, by the way, no evidence that Assad is “nakedly genocidal” – his largely secular regime has never targeted any specific ethnic or religious group, indeed his government is the principal protector of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities that have been targeted by Sunni extremists for death.

Nor did Assad sponsor “terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq.” By definition, terrorism is political violence against civilians, not against a military occupation force. Assad also sought to collaborate with the Bush-43 administration in its “war on terror,” to the point of handling torture assignments from Washington.

But distortions and falsehoods are now the way of the modern Washington Post. The newspaper will say anything, no matter how dishonest or unfair, to advance the neocon cause.

But the most dangerous outcome from these pressures is that they prevent a serious debate about a most serious topic: what the next president must do to bring the costly, bloody and endless wars to an end.

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).