Category Archives: Scott Horton’s Articles

U.S. Government to Blame for Somalia’s Misery

By Scott Horton Future of Freedom Foundation

At the beginning of May the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a U.S.- and U.K.-government-financed organization that monitors various food crises around the world, released a new report detailing the horrific consequences of the Somali famine of 2011.

According to FEWS NET, “An estimated 4.6 percent of the total population and 10 percent of children under 5 died in Southern and Central Somalia [between October 2010 and April 2012.]”

It is now estimated that more than a quarter of a million people died, more than half of them — at least 125,000 — children. This is more than twice the number the British government had previously concluded.

Even in the midst of the global economic crisis, there is enough wealth in the world that it is an outrage so many should die of such extreme poverty and deprivation. But what is absolutely unforgivable is the role played by the U.S. government in making a horrible drought into a humanitarian catastrophe in what has to be the worst case of the strong picking on the weak since — well, probably the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If one were to bring up U.S. intervention in Somalia to most Americans, they would probably think only of George H.W. Bush’s “Operation Restore Hope” food-aid mission in 1992, which turned into the infamous “Black Hawk Down” warlord-hunting debacle under Bill Clinton in 1993. The U.S. government thankfully stayed out of the Somali civil war in the years that followed.

By the turn of the century Somalia was more free and prosperous than it had ever been. It was not that Austrian-American anarcho-capitalism had taken hold in the minds of Somali economists and policymakers, but simply that their various postcommunist warlords had finally worn themselves out after years of fighting, and had left the place as a stateless, if not completely ungoverned, society. There were still highwaymen and gangsters here and there, but none had the ability to do any large-scale damage.

Somalia was never paradise.

According to a 2003 article by Michael van Notten in Liberty magazine and a 2007 paper by Peter T. Leeson of George Mason University in the Journal of Comparative Economics, anarchy was working out. Old Somali tribal customs for dealing with disputes came back into effect, violence waned, trade in the markets and at the ports was soaring, technology was advancing, and health and wealth were growing. By virtually every measure, the Somali standard of living was rising.

Somalia was never a paradise — though some progressives enjoy pretending that libertarians think it was. But by any measure the short era of statelessness was preferable to the preceding eras of communism and civil war, and was certainly better than what was in store for Somalis when the Yankees returned.

American interventions

In the summer of 2000 the U.S. government and its allies attempted to create a Transitional National Government (TNG), later called the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), to rule, though it had very little real power.

Then in 2001 came the September 11 attacks, and the U.S. government decided to take full advantage of the crisis to extend its military hegemony across the planet.

As General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, explained in 2007 at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his staff had drawn up a hit list of countries ripe for “regime change” shortly after the 9/11 attacks. At the top of the list were Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran — none of which had any involvement whatsoever in the attacks or any real ties to those who did.

The fact that Somalia, strategically located on the Horn of Africa, was included on this list seemed to emphasize that the policy was about expanding the American empire’s power and influence rather than protecting America from foreign attack. Luckily for the Pentagon and CIA, it was not very difficult to find cutthroat warlords willing to accept their cash to carry out targeted assassinations and kidnappings against those they accused of being Islamists — or anyone else they felt like targeting.

What happened next is almost a perfect microcosm of the whole terror war. It is as tragic as it was predictable.

The more the CIA supported the warlords — including the son of Mohamed Farrah Aidid, villain of Bill Clinton’s Somalia misadventure — the worse they abused people. More abuse spurred more local resistance to the warlords and then more support from the Americans to counter it. The cycle of violence continued until the Somali public was finally motivated to support the rise of a new government, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), to protect them in 2005. The combined forces of the 13 groups in the Courts Union drove the warlords and the Transitional Federal Government out of the country and established themselves in power in the capital by the summer of 2006.

The ICU then declared the reign of Islamic law. That, of course, was none of America’s business, and even if it had been, the Somali regime lacked the power to create an authoritarian religious state like, say, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the ICU was led mostly by truly grassroots imams, uncles, and elders — the last men standing after decades of communism and war — rather than strongmen who had simply seized power. There had been no power to seize. And Somalia’s traditional Muslim beliefs were much more laid-back and tolerant than those in Arabia. While they did close a couple of local movie theaters and other minor things that grabbed headlines in the West, the Courts Union had no ability or desire to turn Somalia into totalitarian Afghanistan under the Taliban, or to pick a fight with the United States.

But they had defied the empire and won, for the moment. Then Uncle Sam got mean. In late December 2006, U.S. satellite state Ethiopia, its dictator’s arm twisted by the U.S. government, invaded Somalia, with CIA and special-operations officers leading the attack. The Islamic Courts Union was quickly smashed and driven from power.

The Bush regime hardly bothered with an excuse for the war, telling the Washington Post that this invasion by proxy was justified by the supposed presence of just three “suspects” “wanted for questioning” by the FBI in connection with the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.

The army of the Christian Ethiopians, historic rivals of the Somalis, took the opportunity to ravage the helpless country for two years. They were accused of numerous war crimes against civilians, including rape and mass murder on a grand scale, and the “renditioning” of approximately 85 Somalis and others to Ethiopia to be tortured. At least one American citizen, Amir Mohamed Meshal, caught at the Kenyan border, was presumed guilty of terrorism, threatened with torture and death, and denied all access to the American consulate or other legal representation while he was repeatedly interrogated by the FBI and CIA.

In 2008, with the help of what had been the youngest and least influential group in the ICU, al-Shabaab (“the youth”), the people of Somalia finally drove the Ethiopians out of the country after two years of fighting. At that point it appeared the Bush administration had simply run out of time, and so Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a deal with the old men of the ICU. The U.S. government would let them take power in Mogadishu if they would accept the form of the Transitional Federal Government the Bush administration had created. That way the Republicans could at least save a little bit of face in their failure.

The former ICU leaders took the deal. They were immediately denounced as traitors and American lackeys by the armed young men who had won the war. Al-Shabaab vowed to fight on. It was only then — years after the whole mess began — that it declared loyalty to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. It started acting like al-Qaeda too, implementing Arabian-style laws and punishments in the areas they dominated, such as cutting off the hands of those accused of stealing.

The story has been covered by few in the West. The best work has been done by intrepid investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill in his book Dirty Wars, which reveals that the U.S. government meant to keep Sheik Sharif, the former head of the ICU, all along. The whole war was launched because it was “preferable” that Sharif be “weakened,” but ultimately “co-opted.” He ended up staying in power until 2012.

Nation-building: Obama edition

Benefiting greatly from the fact that hardly anyone in the United States knows the first thing about the crisis and that even fewer care, Obama’s junta remains on the same Bush/Cheney course of stumbling blindly in vain for a policy on Somalia that will solve the problems created by their last great idea, or that will even make sense at all.

After the Ethiopians withdrew, they sent in the armies of Uganda and Burundi under the auspices of the African Union to hunt down and destroy al-Shabaab. Then came the Kenyans, who apparently panicked after luxury resorts near their border had come under attack. In 2011 the Ethiopians reinvaded. Kenyan forces took the port city of Kismayo from al-Shabaab in 2012 and loudly declared victory when the rebels melted away. But the stubborn insurgency continues the fight.

The Americans, for their part, continue to back the invading forces, as well as what passes for the “government” in Mogadishu, with hundreds of tons of weapons and tens of millions of dollars.

The CIA and military have also remained directly involved, partly by advising the politicians, police, and military in the capital, but also by firing deadly cruise missiles from submarines at thatched huts full of women and children, by mounting helicopter attacks, by launching repeated drone strikes  from a little formerly French-conquered airstrip of a country called Djibouti, and by overseeing at least two different torture dungeons; one found by Scahill and his photojournalist partner Rick Rowley, and the other by the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake (whose reporting in this instance seems credible).

Though the May FEWS NET study focuses on 2011, the drought and starvation started really kicking in back in 2009 and 2010, as Human Rights Watch activist and Africa expert Leslie Lefkow explained on my radio show at the time. But the bad weather couldn’t have picked a worse war to intervene in. The drought hit the whole Horn of Africa, but the Somalis took it the hardest. All the chaos, fighting, and killing over the past three to four years had made it much more difficult for farmers to save their crops, and then the few who could had much more difficulty getting the food to market, where no one had any money anyway. The economy was ruined. Millions were living in makeshift refugee camps up and down the roadways.

Finally the rains did come back and the famine was broken, but at unimaginable cost to the people of that tragic land. And the war continues.

This article was originally published in the September 2013 edition of Future of Freedom.

Stupidity or Plan?

By Scott Horton Future of Freedom Foundation

Are America’s disasters abroad a result of stupidity or some elaborate plan? An observer of modern U.S. foreign policy can be torn on that one.

It makes sense that generals, contractors, and other national-security state types will invent and follow a deliberate policy of divide and rule, as well as to create crises to move on to the next big job. But if one looks closely, it does begin to seem that perhaps narrow-minded, shortsighted stupidity is a better overall explanation of the causes and results of the U.S. government’s recent behavior in other people’s countries.

George W. Bush’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 destabilized the entire region and created plenty of new problems for his successor to deal with, but Barack Obama has taken every opportunity to only make matters worse.

For example, in Libya it appears the main reason the Obama administration took America to war on the side of Islamist rebels against Qaddafi in 2011 was that the empire simply had a bad public-relations problem after the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Uncle Sam and the 40 thieves

When the “Arab Spring” began — mostly as a consequence of the global currency devaluation and price inflation precipitated by the Federal Reserve and Bush administration to disguise the upfront costs of the war on terrorism — there was no escaping the fact, even in the American media, that as protesters gathered by the millions in capitals across the Middle East, seeking a modicum of self-government for a change, the United States was the bad guy behind every dictator in the region: in Morocco, Algeria, Libya (where one-time top enemy Muammar Qaddafi had been the United States’s friend since 2003), Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, and Jordan. The only governments in the region the United States was not backing in 2011 were Syria, even though for many years its regime tortured prisoners for the American administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Iran, at least since its revolution and declaration of independence in 1979 (or when Ronald Reagan sold arms to both sides of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, if you want to count that).

Otherwise, if there was a tyranny anywhere between Morocco and India, America was behind the regime. And through the tear gas delivered by canisters labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” everyone could see it. It had never been more clear.

Losing Egypt

Even though the Middle Eastern protesters in 2011 were largely focused on challenging their own individual despots, they were also, at least in effect, challenging U.S. dominance in the region.

In the case of Egypt the U.S. government did everything it could to keep 30-year U.S. sock-puppet dictator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “family friend” Hosni Mubarak in power until the bitter end. The administration was so clumsy in its panic, it actually urged the peaceful protesters whose skulls were being cracked open by interior-ministry truncheons to restrain themselves and blurted right on the front page of the New York Times its determination to keep Mubarak in power;  failing that, the administration would settle for Omar Suleiman, the loyal head of Egypt’s secret torture police, to be pharaoh-puppet runner-up.

After Mubarak was overthrown by the popular uprising, the U.S. government failed to get either Suleiman the torturer the job as fill-in dictator or their favored liberal groups a majority in parliament. Instead American meddlers were unceremoniously arrested and deported, and an independent Egyptian political process with fair elections took root, starting with votes for a new parliament and president and major victories for the conservative-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in both cases.

This was earthshattering. Clinton may have been pushing for “democratic reform” in some parts of the Middle East, but only in the context of staving off real revolution and the threat of diminished influence for the United States. What the empire got instead was “The World Turned Upside-Down” in Arabic. The rest of the region sat up and took notice. “Day of Rage” protests broke out across the Muslim world.*

Regime change in Libya

When the demonstrations started soon after in Libya, it was Clinton’s idea of a chance to at least confuse the issue by trying to sell the notion that America was the comic-book Superman that liberated France from the Nazis back in the olden days and always supports underdog popular “democratic” protesters against their mean old dictators. Michael Hastings reported in Rolling Stone that after the revolution in Egypt, Clinton was desperate for another chance to try to shape the narrative of the “Arab Spring” in that way. That is why she pushed Obama to overrule Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s advice and take the side of the rebels against Qaddafi.

The Libyan dictator had been invited in from the cold by Bush in 2003 but was still a bit erratic. He was asking for a bit more than the usual cut for his country’s oil sales and hadn’t come through on buying all the armored personnel carriers and other equipment the U.S. government and its friends had been trying to sell him. And so to the empire he was expendable for the sake of political spin.

The casus belli invoked — that Qaddafi’s men were certain to murder every last man, woman, and child in the city of Benghazi if the United States and NATO did not immediately intervene — was notable for being completely laughable on its face, and perhaps even for being unnecessary, since by then the American people didn’t seem to really care whom their government bombed anymore.

But who was to replace Qaddafi? The war was not fought in behalf of “the people of Libya,” but for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the Libyan veterans of al-Qaeda in Iraq, predominant in the east of the country, whom Qaddafi had specialized in suppressing. Those fighters, just as the wacky colonel had been claiming, were now being backed and led by American and European special forces on the ground and supported by American-bought and -armed NATO planes from the air. When the mujahideen finally caught Qaddafi and tortured and murdered him on the side of the road, Clinton only laughed, “We came, we saw, he died.”

Today, virtually all the conservative criticism of the Obama administration about the jihadist attack on the makeshift U.S. consulate in Benghazi in eastern Libya on September 11, 2012, has focused only on the lousy security and poor immediate response to the attack. It has entirely missed the point that the war itself, with the full support of the leadership of the Republican Party, had been fought for America’s enemies. As Rachel Maddow explained on her MSNBC show, only days before the attack al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had put out an audio message calling for the Libyan mujahideen to avenge the death of an al-Qaeda operative named Sheik Yaya al-Libi, killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan the previous June. (Apparently this al-Libi was the brother of the man the Bush administration tortured into implicating Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the training of al-Qaeda in chemical weapons and airliner hijacking; he later “committed suicide” in one of CIA partner Qaddafi’s prisons.) Zawahiri’s call to the mujahideen in Libya to avenge the attack against their comrade was a call to Americas’ “allies” who had Ambassador Stevens and his men surrounded.

It’s as though American foreign policy is being made around the reality depicted in the propaganda rather than the truth the spin is meant to conceal.

The 2011 war has led to chaos in Libya to this day, with ongoing racial pograms and mass rapes of black sub-Saharan Africans, and different militias and tribal and criminal groups fighting against one another for power. The conflict has also spread beyond Libya’s borders, both to Mali and Syria so far.

Palling around with terrorists in Syria

Libyan arms and fighters have been turning up in Syria, where the United States is also backing the jihadists, in that case against the Shi’ite-backed Ba’athist dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. One can confidently predict continued disaster at the hands of American intervention there as well, especially since the policy makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to begin with.

Seizing on the protests that brought down the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, a massive protest movement was launched by the Syrian people demanding major reforms from the Ba’athist tyranny. But that was very quickly co-opted by ruthless jihadist suicide bombers, civilian-slaughterers, and prisoner-beheaders from al-Qaeda in Iraq and other mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and around the Middle East and Central Asia, reportedly even Chechnya and Afghanistan.

Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn of the Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom fears the worst: a Lebanese civil war-style, 15-year multi-ethnic, multi-faction, multi-militia tribal conflict of death, pain, and foreign intervention. The grief and fatalities so far — in the tens of thousands — could be just the beginning.

But instead of staying out of this hornets’ nest, the U.S. government has, since at least the end of 2011, worked with the governments of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in coordinating money, weapons, intelligence sharing, and training for the rebels. It has also encouraged them to refuse negotiations with the Syrian government until Assad agrees to leave power first, thus helping to perpetuate a long-term, no-win grind.

For now at least, it is not altogether clear the Assad regime is going to fall without an escalation by outside powers. The major cities are still under his government’s control.

The al-Nusra Front jihadist rebels do control parts of the countryside and a few small towns, but they don’t control Damascus, Aleppo, or the other population centers. The Assad regime has majority support of the population of the country, and they have very motivated backers in virtually every faction except the Sunni Arabs. Even many Sunnis have kept the peace they’ve made with the Shi’ites and have stayed out of the fight, if they are not outright loyal to the regime.

Syrian Kurds and Druze factions are reported to be split for and against the regime. But otherwise all the Shi’ites, Alawi, and different factions of Christians are backing the regime because they fear a nightmare future if it falls.

The rebels have made it clear that the only thing standing between members of those minority groups and beheadings is the Assad tyranny. But they — the beheaders — are the guys that the CIA is organizing the whole war for. (Unlike matters in the recent Iraq war, al-Qaeda makes up the supermajority of the entire Sunni-based insurgency in Syria, according to McClatchy’s David Enders.)

In Iraq the U.S. government fought against Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-based Ba’ath Party government, and later Sunni-based “insurgents,” which included “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” in favor of the Iranian-backed Shi’ites. Now in Syria it’s backing the “al-Qaeda in Iraq”-type Sunnis against the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Ba’athists.

In other words, America has created a “Shi’ite Crescent” — an Iraq-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance that they feared so much — by invading Iraq and turning it over to Iran’s best friends in the Da’wa Party and Supreme Islamic Council. Since they can’t reinvade Iraq and install a Saudi-allied Sunni regime there, the U.S. government figures it can at least try to take out Syria’s Assad as a consolation prize.

The Obama administration swears up and down this intervention is meant to isolate and prevent the jihadists from taking the lead and reaping the gains of the war. Indeed, in 2011 and 2012 Clinton tried repeatedly to set up “ruling councils” of “moderate” puppets, mostly Syrian expatriates living in the West, to try to assume some level of power over the fighters and prepare for the next regime.

But those “moderates” have had to turn right around and declare their loyalty to the jihadists in their own desperate bids at credibility, underscoring the fact that moderates are not fighting in the insurgency in Syria. U.S. and allied money and weapons have continued to show up in the hands of the al-Nusra Front jihadists.

In effect, all the talk of support for and training of “moderates” simply amounts to a small bit of not-very-plausible deniability for the U.S. government’s aiding of the ideological cousins of the 9/11 attackers and the worst of those who fought against the American occupation of Iraq (for example Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s civilian-butchering monsters, as opposed to regular Iraqi “insurgents”).

This isn’t how it was supposed to be. The governments of America, Israel, and Turkey apparently thought they could secure a quick victory against Assad and would be able to work well with his replacements, but instead have found him much more difficult to dislodge from power than Qaddafi, and his opponents more frightening and uncontrollable. Thus far the United States and its allies have refrained from sending more than light weapons, money, and “humanitarian aid” to the rebels, and there are indications that Turkish public opinion, which is decidedly against intervention in Syria, is preventing the Erdogan government from escalating further.

However, once the president of the United States issues a declaration that the president of another country must leave power, it becomes nearly impossible to retract it. So even though Obama and others of his highest-level officials have complained publicly about the danger of moving too hard and fast in Syria and inadvertently helping the bin Ladenites, the U.S. government’s slow-motion, half-hearted support has still only aided their war against Assad, even if it has not succeeded in overthrowing him.

Recent media reports that the U.S. government is considering CIA drone strikes against the al-Nusra fighters in Syria and that federal prosecutors are hypocritically indicting Americans for joining up with them should not, even if true, be allowed to obscure the role the United States has been playing thus far in helping the Syrian mujahideen in their insurgency against the Ba’athist regime.

Perhaps this is the end of the Obamaites’ magnificent ploy to use Assad and the old al-Qaeda in Iraq brigade to weaken each other. Maybe they’ve even changed their minds about losing the old stable Ba’athist regime in Syria and now truly mean to leave their jihadi friends high and dry in another new Bay of Pigs-style backstab. They may not have even decided what to do next at all.**

The war has certainly weakened Assad, but the blowback is already being felt in Iraq, as the Syrian rebellion has “energized” the old Sunni-based insurgency and al-Qaeda in Iraq’s war against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the U.S.- and Iranian-installed government in Baghdad.

(It has been reported that there are enough CIA agents still in Iraq to try to help Maliki’s forces chase the jihadis back across the line into Syria, where they can be useful again.)

Will Syria even exist when all is said and done in Obama’s war? In early April the al-Nusra fighters of Syria formally declared their allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri in Pakistan and their alliance with Iraqi al-Qaeda, naming their new group “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

Ever since the summer of 2012 there has been some talk among the rebels of resorting to secession and alliance — perhaps even merger — with the predominately Sunni areas of Iraq if they cannot succeed in toppling the power in Damascus — the beginning of Bush’s and Osama bin Laden’s ridiculous Islamofascist caliphate in real life!

What in the world?

For at least the past year the Democrats have publicly warned of the dangers of arming the rebels in Syria and then have continued to do exactly that. But if they know better, why do they persist?

In March 2012 Obama gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic in which he explained that the policy of regime change in Syria is all about weakening and isolating its ally Iran. He never even pretended for a moment to invoke the hardships of the poor unfortunate civilian masses of Syria who need rescuing from dictatorship. And why would he be so determined to weaken Iran, right after the U.S. government finished fighting a war in Iraq that only empowered the ayatollahs and their allies, that he would go to such lengths as to back bin Ladenite madmen in Syria?

Because in 1979 Iran had the audacity to declare independence from the U.S. empire after 26 years of dictatorship under the U.S. stooge-dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and it maintains a “safeguarded” civilian nuclear program, which apparently is considered the vaguest of “existential threats” by Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel.

So is this stupidity or plan? Perhaps the question should be, Whose stupid plan?

* In July of 2013 the U.S. and Saudi Arabia’s friends in the Egyptian military deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, freed Murbarak from prison, and restored the old order.

** In August, 2013, President Obama nearly initiated a campaign of airstrikes against Syria over their regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel forces and nearby civilians, but was stopped by super-majority opposition among the American people and the U.S. congress. A UN mission to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is ongoing.

This article was originally published in the July 2013 edition of Future of Freedom.

Reality Check: Iran is Not a Nuclear Threat

Forget the neoconservative hype. The facts show Iran is not and has not been a nuclear threat to either the United States or Israel.

By Scott Horton Christian Science Monitor September 17, 2010

Politicians, lobbyists, and propagandists have spent nearly two decades pushing the lie that Iran poses a nuclear weapons threat to the United States and Israel. After a brief respite in the intensity of the wolf cries over the past two years, the neoconservative movement has decided to relaunch the “Must Bomb Iran” brand.

The fact that Iran is not and has not been a nuclear threat to either nation is rendered irrelevant by a narrative of universal “concern” about its nuclear program.

US media distortions

In mid-August, for example, after The New York Times quite uncharacteristically ran a piece diminishing the supposed danger of Iranian nukes, the story was misrepresented in newspapers and on TV stations across the country in the most frightening terms. As MSNBC’s news reader put it that afternoon: “Intelligence sources say Iran is only one year away from a nuclear bomb!”

On August 13, on Fox News, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton implicitly urged Israel to attack Iran’s new light-water reactor at Bushehr before it began “functioning,” the implication being that the reactor represented some sort of dire threat. But the facts are not on Mr. Bolton’s side. The Bushehr reactor is not useful for producing weapons-grade plutonium, and the Russians have a deal to keep all the waste themselves.

On September 6, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a new paper on the implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement which reported that the agency has “continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran to any military or other special purpose.”

Yet despite the IAEA report and clear assertions to the contrary, news articles that followed were dishonest to the extreme, interpreting this clean bill of health as just another wisp of smoke indicating nuclear fire in a horrifying near-future.

A Washington Post article published the very same day led the way with the aggressive and misleading headlineUN Report: Iran stockpiling nuclear materials,” “shorthanding” the facts right out of the narrative. The facts are that Iran’s terrifying nuclear “stockpile” is a small amount of uranium enriched to industrial grade levels for use in its domestic energy and medical isotope programs, all of it “safeguarded” by the IAEA.

More sensational claims

If the smokescreen wasn’t thick enough, late last week a group of Marxist holy warrior exiles called the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq, working with the very same neoconservatives who sponsored Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress – which manufactured so much of the propaganda that convinced the American people to support the invasion of that country – accused the Iranian government of building a secret nuclear enrichment facility buried deep in tunnels near Qazvin.

Headlines once again blared in total negligence and without verification that here indeed was, an official told Fox News, proof that Iran has a “hidden, secret nuclear weapons program.’” TV news anchors on every channel furiously mopped sweat from their brows, hearts-a-tremor. When will the forces of good rise to stop this evil?!

Yet even US officials quickly admitted that they’ve known about these tunnels for years. “[T]here’s no reason at this point to think it’s nuclear,” one US official said – a quote that appeared in Fox’s article, but only after five paragraphs of breathless allegations. All day long, top-of-the-hour news updates on TV and radio let the false impression stand.

IAEA inspectors have had open access to the gas conversion facility at Isfahan, the enrichment facility at Natanz, and the new lightwater reactor at Bushehr, as well as the secondary enrichment facility under construction at Qom.

An ignored clean bill of health

The September 6 IAEA report confirming for the zillionth time the non-diversion of nuclear material should be the last word on the subject until the next time they say the same thing: Iran, a long-time signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is not in violation of its Safeguards Agreement.

So what’s all the hubbub about Iran’s “nuclear defiance” and “danger”?

The IAEA’s latest report does note that Iran has “not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Indeed, the agency’s frequent mentions of Iran’s “lack of full cooperation” is a big reason why US media reports portray Iran in ominous terms.

But here, too, US media frequently miss the point. Never mind that 118 nations around the world have signed a statement criticizing the IAEA’s “peaceful activities” conclusion as a departure from standard verification language. More broadly, Iran’s “lack of full cooperation” by itself is an outcome of Western bullying and propaganda.

Real reason for lack of cooperation

The US and the UN, acting upon no legitimate authority whatsoever, have demanded that Iran submit to an Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement, which would allow endless inspections on issues not directly related to Iran’s use of nuclear materials. They have also demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment and submit to an endless regime of questions based mostly on the “alleged studies” documents, which several sources have said are forgeries posing as a pilfered laptop of a dead Iranian nuclear scientist. [Note: Due to an editor’s mistake the original version of this article misstated an implication of the Additional Protocol.]

These separate, UN Security Council-mandated investigations have even demanded blueprints for Shahab 3 missiles – a subject far removed from hexafluoride gas or any legitimate IAEA function. In 2003, Iran voluntarily agreed to the extra burden of the unratified Additional Protocol during “good faith negotiations” with the so-called “E-3,” Britain, France, and Germany, acting on behalf of the US. When those negotiations broke down, Iran withdrew in 2006.

With these details left out of the discussion, the impression is left that Iran is refusing to abide by international law, when in fact, it is completely within its NPT obligations.

An outrageous standard

Meanwhile, Washington continues to apply to Iran the outrageous standard it used in the run-up to the Iraq war: an unfriendly nation must “prove” it doesn’t have dangerous weapons or a secret program to make them – or potentially face military action.

“Proving a negative” is, to say the least, a difficult obligation to meet: You say you haven’t read Webster’s Dictionary cover to cover? Prove it!

The bottom line is that Iran is still within its unalienable rights to peaceful nuclear technology under the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement – a point even Tehran’s fiercest critics (grudgingly) acknowledge. The only issues it is defying are the illegitimate sanctions and demands of the US and UN, which themselves defy logic and sense.

Journalists’ ethical obligation

It is far past time for the members of the American media to get their act together and begin asking serious follow-up questions of the politicians, “experts,” and lobbyists they interview on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program.

Many of these same journalists still have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis on their hands from the months they spent continuously and uncritically parroting the lies, half-truths, and distortions of agenda-driven Iraqi dissidents and their neocon champions who pushed us into the Iraq war.

Perhaps this is their shot at redemption.

Scott Horton is host of Antiwar Radio on the Liberty Radio Network and assistant editor at Antiwar.com

Finding Ways to Stay in Iraq

by Scott Horton, Antiwar.com March 05, 2009

Those who bought into the slogans “Hope” and “Change” last fall should have read the fine print. We were warned. Over and over during the campaign for the presidency Barack Obama made it clear that “withdrawal” from Iraq on his flexible 16-month timetable meant only the removal of “combat forces.” He has also made it clear all along that “combat forces” means whatever he wants it to mean – until he decides to change his mind.

At least he’s honest.

On Friday, Obama announced in a speech at Camp Lejeune that 16 months have become 18, and that 50,000 soldiers and Marines will be continuing the occupation until 2012 under the guise of training Iraqi army and police forces, “counter-terrorism,” and force protection.

No mention was made of the largest embassy one nation has ever built in another, the future use of air power, or the 100,000-plus contractors and mercenaries still inside the country.

These glaring omissions, along with the announced intention to maintain 50,000-plus troops in the country after the summer of 2010, add up to nothing but a ruse, a loophole for mission creep right back to full-blown occupation. Since many of the troops scheduled to leave the country will only be headed off to another war zone in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the entire exercise may end up amounting to nothing but an escalation of the Afghanistan occupation while the door is left wide open for more troops to be sent back into Iraq.

The alleged need to leave “counter-terrorism” forces in country is a farce. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” only came into existence in opposition to the U.S. invasion and occupation, and it never amounted to anything but the smallest percentage of the Sunni insurgency, which tolerated them only as allies against the occupation. Long before the “surge” of 2007-2008 and the so-called Awakening movement surrounding those insurgents eventually put on the payroll by Gen. Petraeus, Iraqi Sunnis had decided they had had enough and marginalized al-Qaeda in Iraq virtually out of existence. The idea that without U.S. troops there, foreign jihadists would be able to take over and use their land as a safe haven to provoke the United States into invading again is beyond far-fetched. Worse is the belief that leaving “counter-terrorism” forces inside the country will make terrorism less likely. It was, of course, in part, the blockade and ritual bombing of Iraq from Saudi Arabia in the 1990s that provoked the 9/11 attacks on America in the first place, and it has been the occupation that has provoked the hundreds of suicide bombings in Iraq over the last six years.

Obama’s claim that the mission is now changing from combat to training the Iraqi military to take our soldiers’ place ought to be considered no different from George W. Bush’s claim, when debuting his “Strategy for Victory” in December 2005, that “as they stand up, we’ll stand down.” It was a sham to delay leaving then, and it remains so.

The U.S. “embassy” in Baghdad – a monument to the hubris that gripped America’s imperial court as it rushed to launch this war, and a symbol of their contempt for the democracy they proclaim so loudly to uphold and deliver to the world – is now the size of a small city-state within the heart of Baghdad. Its construction alone is proof of the widely held belief in the American establishment that they have stolen Iraq fair and square and intend to hold onto it until the last helicopter leaves the roof.

Which brings us to “force protection.” This is the most obvious excuse to leave infantry divisions in the country beyond the summer of 2010. In the speech, the president said he remained committed to the status of forces agreement (SOFA) and its mandate for the withdrawal of the entire U.S. military presence by the end of 2011, but if the withdrawal agreement remains the law up to 2012 and all forces are removed, it will have been at the insistence of the Iraqi people and government despite all of the best efforts of the empire to find a reason to stay.

Gareth Porter’s recent series for IPS News has examined the push by Secretary of Defense Gates and Generals Petraeus and Odierno to convince President Obama to extend the timetable for the combat troops’ withdrawal and begin renaming infantry divisions as “force protection” for the long haul. He doesn’t seem to have required too much convincing.

The generals seem to be betting that the SOFA can be renegotiated indefinitely, as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will certainly, they believe, ask them to stay and help him maintain his grip on power.

However, the War Party’s ability to count on Maliki to backtrack on the withdrawal agreement in favor of prolonging the occupation may be in real doubt. Middle East corespondent Patrick Cockburn of England’s Independent newspaper reports that Maliki and his Da’wa Party’s position has increased relative to other major Shi’ite factions led by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, and that the day when the Green Zone government is able to maintain itself in power without U.S. help may have already come. When Cockburn first broke the story of the negotiations over the SOFA early last summer, the Bush administration was pushing to keep 58 bases in Iraq indefinitely, but over the course of the rest of the year, Maliki stuck to his position and forced Bush to agree to the 2011 timeline for complete withdrawal of all forces.

As Iraqi public opinion remains in opposition to the occupation by supermajorities, whatever legitimacy Maliki does have among them is mostly a function of his resistance to U.S. demands. There seems to be little incentive for him to back down now, though NBC News is reporting that the Pentagon wants to stay for another 15-20 years and is already negotiating the option of retaining a permanent airbase near Kirkuk, an idea floated by Secretary of State Clinton during the presidential campaign last year, as though the SOFA never existed.

Despite all the propaganda about how “the surge worked,” no one seems to notice that most of the political benchmarks the surge was supposed to accomplish by October 2007 have yet to be achieved, and that a temporary strategy of buying off – and arming up – every faction can only be temporary.

Whether the Sunni tribal councils and the Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi government can work out a long-term power-sharing deal remains to be seen, as does the fate of Kirkuk and many other parts of Iraq that are still in dispute. The “surge” has done nothing to resolve these problems.

Any violence over these outstanding issues will undoubtedly serve as an excuse to abandon the withdrawal and continue the war indefinitely.

Many Iraqis watching Obama’s speech may have been surprised to hear what a great favor the U.S. has done them by invading and destroying their country. They may be sorry to find out there’s more help where that came from.

 

The Revolution: A Manifesto

By Scott Horton LewRockwell.com April 21, 2008

Read this book!

I’ve just finished Ron Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto, and am once again floored by Dr. Paul’s ability to identify the most important issues facing this country and explain their libertarian solutions in “honest, direct language,” as George Carlin would say.

In seven concise chapters, heavy with notable quotes from the founders, American historical figures, social researchers and Austrian economists, Dr. Paul destroys the myths of governmental benevolence and benefit on nearly every issue of importance for the present and future of this country.

He begins, of course, with foundational explanations of natural rights and the limits placed on the general government by the constitution which allows its existence. Paul then excoriates the government and explains the solution to its problems of empire, war, terrorism, conscription, violations of the Bill of Rights, spying, torture, the drug wars, health care, the welfare state, regulatory state, managed trade and the destruction of the American economy at the hands of the Federal Reserve system. He points out that the differences in the positions of the major parties and politicians are nearly meaningless as our country becomes a de facto one-party state under the centrist Democrats and neoconservative-controlled Republicans. They fight all day about meaningless details while we descend into tyranny.

Dr. Paul, whose steadfast opposition to warfare in the U.S. Congress extends back to his first terms in office in the 1970s, makes his standard case that rather than leading to some abstract “national greatness,” empire, in fact, weakens America. He says the cost of maintaining our empire is nearly a trillion dollars a year and that we just can’t afford it. Paul maintains that rather than protecting our freedom, war is nearly as destructive to our society as those of the people we wage them against. War leads to unchecked executive power and the destruction of our most highly valued liberty. Paul denounces our government’s policy of “preemptive” aggressive war as always morally and consequentially wrong and never justified. He also explains the anti-imperialist legacy of the Old Right and the antiwar sentiments of the more thoughtful leaders of the middle-to-New Right such as Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and Robert Nisbet. Paul explains that there is nothing conservative about waging war; it undermines every principle that conservatives claim to cherish (i.e., the Constitution, the rule of law, family values, free markets, fiscal restraint.)

Paul thrashes the War Party over the subject of the next aggressive war on the horizon: Iran. He reminds us that he’s been correct for years in saying there was no evidence of a secret nuclear weapons program in Iran as all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed in their National Intelligence Estimate last fall and shows clearly that to this administration, as with their invasion of Iraq, the agenda is war and any excuse or varied combination of excuses will do.

Terrorism, the current excuse for our world empire, he explains, is not an enemy, but a strategy employed by enemies. People in occupied countries, Muslim or otherwise, have used this tactic to try to force the democratic societies which occupy them to withdraw their combat forces due to the expense of the predictable overreaction. He quotes intelligence beat journalist James Bamford’s reporting of Ayman al Zawahiri’s stated goal of trapping us in the Middle East to give us a “desert Vietnam” – to bleed us dry and force us out as the Reagan administration helped them do to the Russians in the 1980s. This being the case, Paul concludes further invasions and occupations of their countries is exactly the wrong policy to follow. It is the founders’ foreign policy of peace, commerce and honest friendship which best protects Americans from terrorism. (In this section, Paul quotes former CIA counter-terrorism agents Michael Scheuer and Philip Giraldi from my interviews of them for Antiwar Radio.)

Paul says we should demand the immediate repeal of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and insist on the protection of habeas corpus for all detainees unless the most immediate circumstances on the battlefield prevent it and that no American should ever be held by the military and subjected to torture as was José Padilla. He has introduced legislation in Congress to ensure those very things, among others, in the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007.

Paul says that torture is always wrong and should never be tolerated for one second by the proud residents of a free society no matter what excuse those with power can conjure.

Paul also makes an eloquent case against conscription, calling it “slavery” and quoting Daniel Webster and Ronald Reagan to make the case that the draft contradicts the very premise of a free society, the constitution forbids it and that it should never be allowed in this country ever again.

He explains in detail how the administration has told lie after lie in order to justify their blatantly unconstitutional, unnecessary and illegal spying on Americans.

Economist Paul also explains his moral and practical opposition to managed trade organizations like NAFTA and the WTO, since they are unconstitutional transfers of Congress’ delegated powers and they actually sanction trade wars, require our Congress to raise taxes when they feel like it and otherwise interrupt peaceful trade. He points out that nothing new needs to be done to have free trade with other countries; all the government has to do is stop interfering. Presto, no tariffs, no subsidies.

It should be no surprise that a free market fundamentalist like Paul opposes all foreign aid and “restructuring” of other countries’ economies though the IMF and the World Bank, whose proclaimed purpose is to help the poor, when all they do is prop up governments that the locals oppose, distort and disrupt local markets and generally impoverish those who are supposedly being helped.

In The Revolution, as on the House floor, Paul takes a heroic stand against the federal government’s war on drugs and the entire policy in general. It is the creation of the black market by the congress and state legislatures which creates the environment in which murder, extortion and gang wars prevail, he explains. He gives special attention to the long history of frauds perpetrated by government in order to criminalize marijuana possession and sale. It was simply racist bigotry against Mexicans and a desire to persecute them which motivated the early American drug warriors. Their legacy is one of lives destroyed not by drugs, but by the state in its post-constitutional, “we own you and will decide what’s good for you” role it now plays in our society.

In the book Paul brings up the issue of race in terms of a limited national government, the unfair prosecution and sentencing of minorities in the drug wars and in terms of the impossibly burdensome regulatory state. The solution, he maintains, is a belief in individualism and a willingness of people to enforce their rights from the bottom up rather than looking to Washington DC. He explains how government serves only to divide us more even when attempting to ameliorate the problems of the past.

Paul also explains how government drives up the cost of health care for everyone and how the current welfare state is simply unaffordable and unsustainable by any measure. He explains how government interventions have led us to our current crisis and how real laissez-faire – not corporatist or socialist – reforms would fix the problems.

Another example of government failure cited is the current state of public education in this country. While not calling for abolition of all public schools, Paul does demand we get rid of the federal Department of Education and also explains how incredible amounts of resources are wasted into oblivion by the bureaucrats in ways that would never happen at private schools, making a strong case that parents could afford many more choices in education without the oppressive tax burdens they carry and that they would be well served to seek education outside the strictures of the state. Always tying political questions back to individual liberty, Paul also asks a basic question almost unheard of in polite company: why should anyone be forced to pay for the education of another and particularly when that person disagrees with the slant of the instruction? As just one example of the direction DC is leading us, Paul points out a little noticed but obviously dangerous move by the pharmaceutical companies and the national government to give mandatory “mental health” exams to all school children in order to force many millions more of them to take psychotropic drugs at the threat of removal from their parents. He rightly complains that even 20 years ago the people of this country would have been absolutely outraged. Maybe it’s the Prozac.

Dr. Paul also excoriates the modern regulatory state and explains how it makes us all poorer in order to benefit those who are already rich. Paul sticks up for the individual and his property rights against all, the rich, the poor or anyone else’s attempts to separate him from it with force – personally or through the state. It is our free economy, not government intervention which has made us so prosperous. Paul’s argument is nowhere close to an apologia for big business. It is they who have pushed all along for the governmental cartelization and regulation of business. The state is the mechanism by which those connected to its power can stifle competition and socialize their costs onto the rest of society. Questions of environmental pollution are one of Paul’s favorite examples of the failures of regulation, and for good reason. Really, no EPA is necessary – to protect the victims of the crime. Pollution can be handled simply by protecting people’s basic property rights with local courts. In fact, the purpose of the EPA is to protect the polluters from competition first and the consequences of polluting the environment second by claiming “public” ownership of the affected area (the air, bodies of water, etc.) and then providing immunity to those politically connected corporations who are within the “guidelines” they set for themselves. The right of the average guy to seek redress in a local court is then circumvented by the regulation of the executive branch. The explanation of why this is so, contained in The Revolution, should be enough to educate even the most pointy-headed of your liberal and leftist friends.

Paul, a supposed student, but really an Austrian school economist in his own right, also gives a concise explanation of the criminal Federal Reserve System which robs the poor to benefit the bankers and merchants of death. Inflation, Paul explains, is a hidden tax, one that hurts the poor, working and retired people most for the benefit of these war-mongering plutocrats. They try to make the system seem too mysterious for the average guy to understand but it’s not. Stealing is stealing. The central bank causes the booms and busts they claim to “smooth out” with their process of artificially inflating the supply of money, causing bubbles of malinvestment in the market and setting us up for recessions. The popular line that “we the people,” through “our” Congress, use the state’s regulation to protect us from the “excesses” of capitalism must be the greatest line of bull fed to a population since the Aztec Flower Wars. Again, the light shed by Paul provides clarity to a subject extremely important and yet opaque to the people most affected.

Dr. Paul ends the book with a celebration of the wide and varied millions who’ve rallied around his campaign and a call for those of us who love liberty to stand up for ourselves and put our out-of-control empire back in its place.

The joy I feel knowing that millions will eventually read this concise libertarian primer just makes me want to celebrate.

The heroic Ron Paul has done it again.

Ron Paul 2008!

by Scott Horton LewRockwell.com January 3, 2008

I want this man, Dr. Ron Paul, to be the president of the United States.

Believe me, I’m not the type to go from one so-called leader to another pinning all my hopes on their greatness like some Deaniac. I don’t like politicians. I didn’t like Ann Richards. I don’t like Bush Jr. I didn’t like Ronald Reagan, I don’t like Bush’s dad and I don’t like Bill Clinton. I don’t like Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, Nancy what’s-her-name, John D. Rockefeller IV or bitch-ass Harry Reid. I can’t stand any of the presidential candidates. Politicians are scum. All of them. Nothing but a band of highway robbers, the lot of ’em. Liars! Warmongers! Jailers! Bastards! Two wings of one bird of prey! Not a dime’s worth of difference!

Except Ron Paul.

For more than 10 years I have had one and only one reason to have hope for the possibility that the course our government is on could be turned around short of ruin; one congressman out of 535 who represented me. One politician I could refer to and say, “go read his ‘A Republic, If You Can Keep It,’ and you’ll see what I mean,” and know that there was a damn good chance whoever-it-was really would understand by the time they were done.

Not only is he right about 95% percent of the time, Ron Paul is a kind, decent and principled individual and individualist. Read his position on natural rights here, for example.

Congressman Paul ought to have his own Ph.D. in Austrian economics, the school of peace, little-to-no government and free trade. He’s a medical doctor, not a lawyer. The lobbyists don’t even bother to knock on his office door since they know he’ll smile and nod and then vote “no” on their project anyway. He refused government welfare for his kids to go to college, he delivered babies for free or on a sliding-scale type of payment plan rather than accept Medicare and Medicaid, he is refusing his congressional pension and he returns a substantial portion of his office budget back to the treasury at the end of every term (or fiscal year or however they do it). He’s never voted himself a pay raise (not even through the modern technicality of “automatic” cost-of-living increases), and has never – never – voted to raise taxes.

They call him “Dr. No” because 95% of what the national government does is unconstitutional and he votes according to his oath – which often leaves him all by himself. A committed non-interventionist, he predicted the fall of the USSR if the U.S. would only stop propping them up. He opposed the first Iraq war in 1990/91 and the second Iraq war since 1998. When first coming back to Congress in 1997, he spoke against the overseas bases being used to stage the endless attacks on Iraq which provided the motive for those responsible for the attacks of September 11th.

Paul has opposed every Federal gun control bill that has ever come his way, along with the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Transportation Security Administration Act, the Homeland Security Act and just about anything else you could think of.

A fierce defender of America’s independence – and that of every other country – Paul opposes NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, IMF, World Bank, UN and NATO. He’s against central banking – recognizing it as the cause of, not solution to, the business cycle and a destroyer of savings. He proposes to let Americans circulate their own gold-backed currencies, repealing the taxes and restrictions which now forbid it. He wants to use his bully pulpit to encourage the Congress and the several states to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, abolish the personal income tax and to end, once and for all, the depredations of the sinister IRS.

When they ask him about his heroes, he answers Gandhi and MLK. They resisted the state non-violently, and that’s important, Paul says.

Rep. Ron Paul M.D. is, as far as I can tell, the greatest congressman in American History – the last of the Jeffersonians – and that doesn’t mean he’s flawless. He’s just a regular, humble old guy. That’s part of why I like him so much. He sometimes stumbles around and starts his sentences over again the same way I do when I’m trying to explain something right. A lot of times he speaks in a sort of shorthand that just leaves it to the audience to try to figure out what the hell he means. He’s not like one of those Mitt Romney/Rick Perry–type polyurethane politicians. In fact, lately I’ve seen him do a pretty funny politician impression in a couple of interviews.

Sometimes, if rarely, I disagree with how he votes in the House and there have been a few mistakes in his campaign, including, as has been pointed out – with some undo hysteria, it seems to me – some pretty lousy TV spots, particularly the one about one of the issues I most strongly disagree with him on: immigration.

Well, good. It’s nice to have something to criticize the man about for a change.

(As far as the smears about Dr. Paul being some sort of mean bigoted type, I think it is quite obvious with a moment on YouTube that it simply cannot be true; that he just doesn’t have the temperament to be a hater. The angriest I’ve seen him in all these clips has come out in statements like “…and you jolly-well better realize it,” “…that can sometimes be pretty annoying,” and “I mean, what the devil?” Sorry, the champion of individual liberty for all is not a meanie, a racist or oppressor. I’m afraid the smear artists will have to stick to arguing against his policies, which can be quite difficult, I know.)

Ron Paul is no knight on a white horse, but a just regular man running for Napoleon’s job – as it already exists – in order to turn it back into the presidency as described in Article II of the Constitution. This mission of Paul’s, running for President and against the presidency, is something that any defender of liberty must value in this current age of executive kidnapping, “ghost prisons,” torture, aggressive war, widespread wiretapping, trillion-dollar military budgets, the “unitary executive” doctrine, signing statements and the doctrine of the “plenary” powers of the commander in chief of the armed forces in undeclared wartime.

Face it, America has gotten this entire post–Cold War/Beginning of the 21st Century thing off to a real bad start. The peace dividend is blown, the population of most of the world now puts our government in the same category as the old Soviet empire or worse, the budget is blown, the dollar is worth less all the time and our liberties are under more threat from the government than they’ve been in a long time.

The candidacy of Ron Paul is the best hope to get America back on track. This is particularly true in regards to our government’s relationship with other states in the world, protection of individual rights here at home and in terms of preserving our republican form of government; the checks and balances and separations of power defined in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights (restrictions) which are meant to protect us from the kind of tyranny overthrown by the generation of 1776.

These are principles which, at this point, federalists and antifederalists, liberals, conservatives, right-wingers, leftists, communists, rednecks, boys and girls, employers and employees, country and rock-n-roll and individuals of all ethnic backgrounds, religions and descriptions in America ought to be able to agree on. They are the principles that make this America in the first place.

The message of individual liberty unites us. Isn’t it cool how that works?

To the Right: Paul wants to get at the actual threat. What he opposes is all this empire building, foreign “aid” and the backing of other people’s dictators. The former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit says Paul’s policy is the best for solving the Osama problem. Quite a few others agree. See here and here. What other problem do you have? Paul represents what you claim to believe in – at least he agrees with you about what government ought to stop doing to people, if not all the things you want government to do to people. Seems like a reasonable compromise to me. And none of the other GOP candidates even come close.

To the Left: Many of you object that Ron Paul wants to set the corporations free along with the rest of us, which to you seems a terrible mistake. Here’s what you’re missing: The entire project that is the national government of the United States is to take money from us working folks and give it to the people who are already rich. I know this is hard to accept after a lifetime of beltway “libertarians” complaining in your ear about the transfer payments the other way around, but no, really.

It’s the bazillionaires who benefit the most from big government. It is their escape from the risks of the market. You want those greedy corporate bastards to have to shape up or go out of business don’t you? You have to set them free – to face the wrath of the sharp competitor and the fed-up consumer. No more welfare for Lockheed. No more welfare for Archer-Daniels Midland. No more welfare for Halliburton. No more welfare for Goldman-Sachs or Citigroup. No more welfare for Wal-Mart. No more welfare for Exxon. No subsidies. No bailouts. Get it? This is Austrian economics. Please don’t mix ‘em up with the right-socialist/demand-side-for-the-rich Chicago monetarist school.

Also, no matter what they may have told you, Ron is running to rein in the empire and reinstate the Bill of Rights, not to abolish the welfare state for social security and Medicare recipients. In fact, he offers the only real plan to shore those programs up, bring the military home from overseas, save the dollar and guarantee that for the people who have been made to pay in their whole lives, they not only get their checks, but they get them in dollars whose value is not being inflated away day by day.

Ron Paul is the only credible candidate who means to end the Iraq and Afghan occupations and bring our military home from their 750+ overseas bases. Isn’t that what you want?

To the anarchists: I personally would very much like to see major portions of Article 1, Section 8 removed, followed by a return to the Articles of Confederation, secession and eventually a private property, individual liberty–based anarchy in the world, but there should be no doubt that reinstating the Constitution as the law of the land would be a great step toward that wonderful no-government future. A Paul presidency is not likely to justify or legitimize the state, but instead will prove just how little we need it. And what’s the alternative, wait for the empire to crash all around us?

So far, the Ron Paul campaign for the presidency has gone far, far better than I could have imagined when I first heard he was running. It turns out that just because he is one of a kind in terms of politicians, it didn’t mean there weren’t millions of us who believe in the same things – enough of us to compete with the financial totals of the War Party players. Many on board this Revolution have been little l libertarians all their lives and just needed someone to explain it to them out loud. If Paul gets the nomination, I think he’ll have no trouble beating Obama or Clinton in the fall and as president will be able to refuse to do a great many things. It would be cause for beer drinking, barbecues, fireworks and celebrations across the land.

If he doesn’t, then whether he goes back to the House, makes an independent run, both or however it shakes out, no one really knows. But America, as local Meetup organizer Paul Davis pointed out in his speech at the Austin, Texas Tea Party of 2007, has already been changed forever by this movement of regular Americans stepping up to restore the rule of law to this country, to prevent any further descent of our society into this brave old world of mercantilism, perpetual war, and the expansion of executive power into every aspect of our lives – and even to make some major reversals before the worst consequences of empire come due. It’s the fruition of the classical liberal revival so many libertarians have worked so hard to build over the years. Perhaps it is even the beginning of a permanent new realignment in America. Peace and Freedom are a big deal again.

Already the other congressmen are asking Paul how to get people to like them (and give them money) too. The message is loud and clear: start with following the example of Ron Paul’s dedication to liberty.

Maybe Garet Garrett was wrong. Maybe it’s not too late to restore the republic.

Why We Support Ron Paul for President

From Prof. David Beito, cowritten with Scott Horton The Volokh Conspiracy

Voters who want more liberty and smaller government have only one realistic choice in the upcoming presidential race: Dr. Ron Paul. No other candidate comes close to matching his record. For more than three decades, he has consistently opposed spending, tax increases and burdensome regulation.

Paul is perhaps the most dedicated defender of free trade in the history of American politics. For this reason, he votes against agreements such as NAFTA, the WTO, and CAFTA, which advance managed trade more than they do free trade; empowering unelected bureaucracies and pitting one country against another. Instead, Paul wants the United States to follow Milton Friedman’s call to lead by example, reducing trade barriers, regardless of what other countries do.

“Free trade is not complicated,” Paul argues, “yet NAFTA and CAFTA are comprised of thousands of pages of complicated legal jargon. All free trade really needs is two words: Low tariffs.” Paul is the best hope to breathe life into the largely moribund unilateral free trade tradition championed by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Richard Cobden, and Frederic Bastiat. By contrast, Fred Thompson, who is probably the best of the other candidates on this issue, has voted to impose sanctions on Japan for failing to reduce tariffs.

Paul’s unilateral approach combined with his calls for a foreign policy of humility, prudence, and diplomacy stands in stark contrast to other candidates who vow to meddle in the foreign affairs of other countries through sanctions and military force. Paul, of course, is the only Republican to call for ending the embargo on Cuba. He insists that private property rights and free markets are the only answers for Latin America, but knows that by trying to force these principles, we only drive their people toward socialism.

Paul breaks completely from the others in monetary policy. His long-term goal is to phase out the Federal Reserve, which he compares to a price fixing agency. As recent events, such as the lending crisis, devaluation of the dollar and roller coaster on Wall Street have shown, the Fed is incapable of managing the money supply in a world of uncertainty and constant flux. Paul would follow the course recommended by Nobel prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek, fully legalizing competition in currencies as well as eliminating legal tender laws and capital gains taxes on gold coinage.

Paul is the most consistent champion of civil liberties in the presidential race. He voted against the PATRIOT Act and has fought against the Real ID, personal income tax and attacks on habeas corpus.

Among the Republicans, Paul stands alone in calling for an end to the ruinous federal war on drugs. By contrast, none of the other Republican candidates will even endorse the moderate reform of letting states legalize medical marijuana. He is also unique in calling attention to the racism inherent in the drug war and the death penalty.

Only Paul has a realistic plan for Social Security. He will allow young Americans to opt out. To pay for the transition costs, and ensure that no one is thrown out on the street, he will close the foreign bases and reorient the military to national defense rather than world policing. Such a policy will foster peace and stability in the world. As examples such as Iraq, Iran, and now Pakistan show, foreign adventurism only leads to blowback and stokes anti-Americanism.

According to Michael Scheuer, the man whose bin Laden Unit at CIA gave Bill Clinton ten chances to capture or kill bin Laden before September 11th, Dr. Paul is the only candidate running who truly understands the terrorist threat and what should be done about it. Paul is determined to finally get those al Qaeda members who attacked and continue to threaten our country, while at the same time reversing the policies that drive their recruitment efforts.

No candidate, of course, is perfect. We differ with Paul on immigration and abortion. Even in these cases, however, he compares favorably with his opponents. While Paul, like Thompson, has spoken in favor of ending birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, he believes that a Constitutional amendment is necessary to make the change. And although Paul, an obstetrician, favors abortion restriction, he will allow the states to choose. Given the plurality of views on abortion, this is a sensible compromise.

Paul has shown time and again that he will act according to his conscience regardless of the personal consequences. When a draft resister named Paul Jacob went on trial in the early 1980s, Ron Paul did not hesitate to help. At considerable political risk in a time of Cold War, he traveled to the trial at his own expense and spoke on behalf of a powerless young man. This is the kind of courage we need in a president.

Ron Paul, the champion of the Constitution, the Air Force veteran for peace, the doctor for free market medicine, is by far the strongest candidate to face Hillary Clinton in the general election. He is the only member of the Congress to win three times as non-incumbent and has repeatedly won reelection by overwhelming majorities despite attempts of Republican leaders, including George Bush and Tom Delay, to defeat him.

Voters of all political descriptions, including anti-war and Reagan Democrats, independents, moderates, and conservatives have rallied around this man, in large part because they know he means exactly what he says and will stand up for what he believes in. If he wins the Republican nomination, most of the rest of the 68 percent of Americans who say that we’re “on the wrong track” so far in this new century will be on board the Revolution by fall.

Ron Paul is hands-down the best hope for real change; for liberty, economic freedom, and limited government in this presidential race. His efforts to spread the message of individualism and constitutional government have already changed America. With your help, Dr. Paul can win and restore the republic.

Ron Paul Is Correct About Pakistan

by David T. Beito and Scott Horton Liberty & Power

David Beito Ph.D. is a member of the Liberty and Power Group Blog at the History News Network and Scott Horton is Assistant Editor at Antiwar.com.

The conventional wisdom among presidential candidates is that the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has proved the importance of continued American meddling in that land. Both Republicans and Democrats are rushing to mumble incoherent platitudes before the cameras while several have even proclaimed their next big idea for how Pakistan ought to be run.

Democratic candidate Bill Richardson made his first headline in months by proclaiming that President Bush ought to give former General – now just “President” – Pervez Musharraf his pink slip. Most of the rest simply say we should “support democracy” there.

This “wisdom” of interference is so conventional that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer expressed shock when Republican candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said that the tragedy proved his case for nonintervention in the affairs of other nations. We should not, Paul said, either subsidize or work to undermine other governments because such policies invariably only empower our enemies.

But why should Blitzer have been shocked?

Benazir Bhutto herself thought this was so. In one of her last interviews, she told Parade magazine, “[The U.S.] policy of supporting dictatorship is breaking up my country. I now think al Qaeda can be marching on Islamabad in two to four years.”

As Paul told David Shuster of MSNBC, “the murderers are 100 percent responsible” for what they have done, but we should not look at the events of this week in a vacuum.

The U.S. has poured tens of billions of dollars into Musharraf’s dictatorship while he has failed to prevent the entrenchment of Qaeda radicals hiding out on the Afghan border, and numerous attacks by them, revealing the overall policy to be flawed and counterproductive.

The U.S. government’s backing of the military in Pakistan helps it to play an inordinate role in the society at large and ultimately makes it harder for democratic forces to organize their own power structures, weakening them and alienating the population. This is especially true when “democracy” is identified with the U.S., which backs their dictatorship.

Then when Musharraf’s public relations have soured, we reverse our policy and work to undermine the government we’ve been propping up (i.e. Bhutto’s U.S.-brokered return to Pakistan this October).

Is it the case that good intentions always result in good outcomes? That because “We’re an empire now,” we can “create our own reality,” as a White House staffer once put it to journalist Ron Suskind? Is it possible for American politicians (other than Dr. Paul) to question for a moment whether the policies they advocate might do more harm than good?

Those who think that Paul’s noninterventionist outlook somehow amounts to a “weakness” on the terrorism issue might examine the view of the former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheuer – the man whose team gave the Clintons ten separate opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden before September 11th.

After a debate last May, when Congressman Paul tangled with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani over his view that we’re threatened by suicide terrorists due to our bombings, occupations and support for dictatorships in the Middle East, Scheuer released a statement defending him.

“Of [all] presidential candidates now in the field from both parties, only Dr. Paul has had the courage to square with the average American voter.” He continued, “[Y]ou can safely take one thing to the bank. The person most shaken by Dr. Paul’s frankness was Osama bin Laden, who knows that the current status quo in U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world is al Qaeda’s one indispensable ally.”

Terrorism is a tactic adopted by weak actors. Having limited resources with which to wage war, groups like al Qaeda resort to a sort of foreign affairs judo: using the enemy’s power against itself – in this case, us. The action for them is in the reaction. Al Qaeda’s strategy is to recreate the old Afghan jihad against the USSR: hit the U.S. and our allies hard in order to provoke invasion and occupation to bleed our treasury and military dry. They celebrate our occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq as steps towards our eventual total withdrawal from the region.

Regarding the assassination of Bhutto, former Centcom commander General Anthony Zinni appears to validate Paul as well. He told the Washington Post he believes al Qaeda is trying to bait the U.S. into reacting by broadening the Afghan war into Pakistan.

The al Qaeda movement has only been halfway successful thus far in its war with the United States. Even with our occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and the spread of the jihad through them both, the thousands of American lives and hundred of billions of dollars wasted, the jihadists have failed in their primary mission: to rally the people of the Muslim world around their movement. They may have the ability to assassinate leaders; however, mostly exiled in the Waziristan region, bin Laden’s followers have no real chance of ever taking their places.

If anything could change that, it’s further American intervention, while a hands-off policy could be just what the doctor ordered to allow the Pakistani people to handle their own business and marginalize their own violent radicals.

Intervention is precisely what our enemies want. Will Americans smarten up, or will bin Laden and Zawahiri succeed once again in dictating American foreign policy?

Why Ron Paul Is Right About Terrorism: A Letter to the GOP Base

by David T. Beito and Scott Horton LewRockwell.com November 28, 2007

“Policy toward Iraq is … not designed to protect U.S. national security. It is instead a threat to our security because it may lead to war and loss of American lives, increase terrorism and certainly an additional expense for the U.S. taxpayer. The hyped rhetoric coming from Washington which describes Hussein as the only evil monster with which we must deal in the world is a poor substitute for wise counsel.” ~ Rep. Ron Paul, Letter to President Bill Clinton, November 19, 1997

“If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road.” ~ Gov. George W. Bush, Presidential debate with Al Gore, October 3, 2000

Many conservatives have said that they agree with Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul on just about everything, but they just can’t see things his way when it comes to dealing with the Middle East. Paul’s views – correctly or incorrectly perceived – could well be a deal breaker for some in the base of the Republican party who look for strong presidential leadership to protect us from foreign threats. This open letter is an attempt to persuade you that Paul has been, and continues to be, right about the terrorist threat and what should be done about it.

Ron Paul understands something that the other candidates from both parties apparently cannot: Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda is a relatively small organization with limited reach. The attack of September 11th was a desperate act from a desperate group who has failed miserably in their quest to conquer and unify the Islamic world. They do not control a single state on earth. By all indications Bin Laden, al Zawahiri and their closest followers remain isolated in the no-man’s-land between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al Qaeda is not an Islamo-fascist caliphate on the march, but they have attacked us and remain a threat. It is al Qaeda – not extremism everywhere – that Dr. Paul means to fight. Responding appropriately demands a cold and objective assessment of the situation, not unchecked, knee-jerk emotion.

Let us start with the question “Why did they attack us on September 11th?”

Dr. Paul’s fellow GOP candidates may publicly denounce him all they want for his view that the September 11th hijackers, their accomplices and financiers were motivated by a hatred of American policy in the Middle East. The terrorists themselves cite U.S. support for Israel and an indefinite military occupation of the Saudi desert, necessary for the enforcement of the blockade and no-fly zones against neighboring Iraq during the 1990s.

Similarly, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a primary architect of the Iraq invasion, explained to Vanity Fair magazine soon after the fall of Baghdad, in May, 2003, that the ability to move the bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq was a great benefit of the war because it detracted from one of bin Laden’s motivations for attacking the U.S.:

“There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed – but it’s huge – is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda. In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.”

According to authors Lawrence Wright, Terry McDermott, Michael Scheuer, Loretta Napoleoni and James Bamford, the purpose of al Qaeda terrorism, and specifically the September 11th attacks, was to provoke a reaction. Bin Laden and his partner Zawahiri have both explained that they already saw the U.S. as being in a state of war with them, but through their own governments and from far away North America. Their strategy was to hit us hard enough to provoke a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan. Essentially, their goal was to recreate their war against the Soviets a generation before – a war that they, of course, consider to be the primary cause of the USSR’s collapse. In other words, they meant to lure our military to their sandtrap to bleed our treasury dry, forcing our empire out of their region for good.

In this sense, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s decision to keep the invasion “light and fast” – at least at first – was smart insofar as it would deny the terrorists the quagmire they sought to provoke. Unfortunately, the administration’s decision to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq stole defeat from the jaws of victory, ridding the largest Arab state of its secular and formerly Western-backed dictator and creating a second chance for bin Laden to claim gains against the United States.

Years before 9/11, In February 1998, Dr. Paul told the Congress:

“Mr. Speaker, the Saudis this past week expressed a sincere concern about an anti-American backlash if we start bombing Baghdad. We should not ignore the feelings of the Saudis. If a neighbor can oppose this bombing, we should be very cautious.”

Later that year, while Bill Clinton was shooting cruise missiles at antibiotics factories and empty training camps in Afghanistan, Ron Paul spoke from the floor of the House of Representatives, warning the public and the Congress that our policy was in fact making enemies of our former friends, the mujahedeen warriors of Afghanistan (who he had opposed funding in the first place during his stint in Congress in the 1980s):

“Osama bin Laden and his Afghan religious supporters were American allies throughout the 1980s and received our money and training and were heralded as the Afghan ‘Freedom Fighters.’ Even then, bin Laden let it be known that his people resented all imperialism, whether from the Soviets or the United States. …

“[T]he region’s Muslims see America as the imperialist invader. They have deeply held religious beliefs, and in their desire for national sovereignty many see America as a threatening menace. America’s presence in the Middle East, most flagrantly demonstrated with troops and bases in Saudi Arabia, is something many Muslims see as defiling their holy land. Many Muslims – and this is what makes an extremist like bin Laden so popular – see American policy as identical to Israel’s policy; an affront to them that is rarely understood by most Americans.

“Far too often, the bombing of declared (or concocted) enemies, whether it’s the North Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Sudanese, the Albanians, or the Afghans, produces precisely the opposite effect to what is sought. It kills innocent people, creates more hatred toward America, unifies and stimulates the growth of the extremist Islamic movement and makes them more determined than ever to strike back with their weapon of choice – terror.”

You can see now why Ron Paul did not endorse Bill Clinton’s endless bombing campaigns back then and why he opposed the war in 2003. He saw the consequences of U.S. policy on their way back when most were caught up with the dot-com bubble and White House sex scandal.

Between these two warnings from Dr. Paul about the possible terrorist blowback from U.S. foreign policy, Osama bin Laden had re-released his 1996 “fatwa” against the United States. Titled “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places” (the Arabian peninsula), he invoked support for Israel, the occupation of Saudi Arabia, the backing of local dictatorships and the continuous bombing of Iraq as his major grievances against U.S. policy.

For those determined to see bin Laden as simply a cold-blooded murderer who hates us because we are free, what is important to understand is that no matter what he actually believes, his message is one of specific complaints against U.S. policy. And it is this, as Ron Paul noted back in 1998, that makes bin Laden’s message useful in gaining new recruits to his “jihad.”

Even though some on TV complain that recognizing these facts somehow implicitly excuses the actions of those who attacked the United States, this, of course, is a red herring. Nothing could excuse the acts of September 11th. A Congressman identifying the motives at play is not justifying the attacks any more than when a local DA tries to figure out why someone has committed any other crime. If we believe that the terrorists are motivated to attack us because we have freedom, or have yet to invade their countries and give them freedom, then our policy prescriptions for multiple regime changes across the Middle East can only make matters worse. With opinion of the United States falling all across the world, and especially in the Muslim world, the continued presence of U.S. combat troops on Arab soil makes attacks against this country much more likely, not less. Paul voted to give the president the authority to use military force against bin Laden’s group in Afghanistan and has repeatedly stated that were he president, actually doing so would be a top priority.

Not only did Paul foresee the problem with terrorism stemming from our continuous bombing campaign in the 1990s, he also predicted the consequences in Iraq were Saddam and the Ba’athists to fall. In the February ’98 speech quoted above, he also asked:

“And even if we do kill Hussein, what do we do? We create a vacuum, a vacuum that may be filled by Iran. It may be filled by some other groups of Islamic fundamentalists.”

The invasion of Iraq created what the CIA calls a “training and recruiting ground” for al Qaeda wannabes in that land, though it seems the low numbers of so-called “foreign fighters” being brought into “al Qaeda in Iraq” have had even less influence than the skeptics had predicted.

These al Qaeda wannabes in Iraq have worn out their welcome with the local Sunni insurgency and have not been able to mount attacks outside Iraq. The local Sunnis tolerated them only as long as they were useful in fighting the occupation and were able to flick off “al Qaeda in Iraq” like a switch when they felt like it, as seen in the 2006–2007 “Sunni Awakening” in provinces where they had been welcomed.

The president threatens that if the U.S. withdraws, Osama bin Laden and his followers could somehow take over Iraq and create a new terrorist state bent on attacking the America. This just does not hold water. Osama’s movement remains small and marginal. The “central front” in the fight against them is in the Waziristan region of Pakistan, not in far away Iraq.

The end of Saddam’s rule has also empowered Iran, which has used the democracy provided by the American occupation to get their proxies elected to power. The Bush administration apparently tolerated this for no other reason than that the pro-Iran factions needed the U.S. occupation and so welcomed it, while the nationalist Shi’ite leaders like Muqtada al Sadr insisted on withdrawal. Were the American occupation to end, it is much more likely that nationalist types such as Sadr’s Mahdi Army would drive the Iranians back to Persia.

Ironically, the U.S. has spent 2007 accusing Iran of backing and waging war against American forces in Iraq through the Sadrists, who are not Iranian proxies and who are not fighting the occupation. They have provided no evidence that this is the case and our Shi’ite allies in Iraq have nothing but praise for Iran’s support of their government.

When it comes to Iran, Ron Paul’s view isn’t much different than that of Gen. John Abizaid, George Bush’s former head of Central Command. The General stated recently that Iran is not much of a threat and still would not pose one were they to obtain nuclear weapons – an achievement they are years away from, according to Mike McConnell, Bush’s National Intelligence Director.

The Iranians pose no real threat to Israel or the West. Their nuclear enrichment equipment is nothing more than first-generation crap bought second-hand from the Pakistanis, every bit of which is monitored by international inspectors. Ninety percent pure Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239 is needed to make an atom bomb; the Iranians have yet to enrich their uranium higher than 4 percent and could not do so in the presence of the International Atomic Energy Agency monitors and sensors. Harvesting plutonium from their nuclear reactors would take years and likewise could not even begin without everyone knowing.

Iran’s much touted “support for international terrorism” has nothing whatsoever to do with Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or the September 11th attacks on this country. Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. While often times extremely violent, these groups are not global in their reach, are not enemies of the United States and pose no threat to this country.

It has been claimed that the president of Iran, who actually holds the power of a glorified Secretary of the Interior, has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map,” in a speech in October, 2005. But according to those who are fluent in Farsi, he said no such thing. What he said was that the “regime” over Jerusalem would one day “vanish from the page of time.” This was not even a subtle or implied threat, much less a promise of imminent attack. The fact also remains that Iran has no capability to destroy Israel, conventionally, with nukes they don’t have or through nearly powerless groups like Hamas.

No country in the world would attempt to “annihilate” Israel. The politician who did so would be dooming himself and his entire nation to perish in nuclear flames. Israel has at least 300 nuclear bombs and the delivery systems necessary to “wipe Persia off the map” in the space of an afternoon. As Paul has noted, the U.S. triumphantly faced down the Soviet Union (who actually were an existential threat), while our modern day think-tankers say the only way to deal with nearly-helpless Iran is with preemptive war.

Many Americans believe they need the government to defend them from “radical Islam,” but those who hold truest to enforcing the strictest interpretations of Islam as a way of life have no chance of gaining or maintaining real dominance over humanity in the 21st century. Even if 100 impossibilities found Osama bin Laden leading the new caliphate in the Middle East, it would be as doomed as Communism was in the last century. Do we really fear that a stateless band of pirates in exile in the Hindu Kush will destroy us? Have we so much confidence in the capabilities of those who had to steal our planes in order to launch their Kamikaze attack and so little belief in the resilience of our own civilization?

Speaking of (Japanese Shintoist and Buddhist) Kamikazes, why should we believe that terrorism is intrinsically connected with Islam at all? Suicide bombings are rife in Sri Lanka where neither side is Muslim. By contrast, radical Islam is prevalent in Sudan, where it has no relationship to the current widespread violence (both sides are Sunni Arabs) and there has never been a suicide bombing. Did radical Catholicism motivate the IRA?

In the book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Dr. Robert A. Pape’s research shows that suicide terrorism is a strategic response to occupation by foreign armies, plain and simple. The only role religion plays in this struggle, according to Pape, is that the willingness of the occupied to resort to suicide attacks increases when the occupying army is made of people who come from far away, look different and believe differently due to the fear that their entire way of life will come under attack.

Americans are the same way. Our irrational fear that Arab Islamic terrorists from the Middle East are coming here to force us all to convert to Wahhabism has convinced us to spend thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, pass piles of new laws and nearly break our defenses in our efforts to preempt them. Now that’s suicide.

The hyperbole about “radical Islam” has also helped to obscure divisions among those who oppose the U.S. in the Middle East and Central Asia. Even presidential candidates speak as though al Qaeda, the Ayatollahs in Iran, Sunni radicals in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon are all one unified threat that must be “preempted.” This may be good for defense manufacturing firms and votes, but if we can’t even tell who our adversaries are, what distinguishes one from another, how are we supposed to win the fight?

A recent local newspaper story from Dr. Paul’s Texas Gulf Coast district quoted one of his constituents complaining that if Paul were elected president and withdrew U.S. troops from the Middle East, we would have no oil at all. This is just not the case. In fact, it is the economic theory of mercantilism that Adam Smith refuted in The Wealth of Nations back in 1776.

It is not necessary for the Japanese, Chinese or Swiss to send armies to the Middle East in order to get the petroleum their economies demand. They simply buy it on the market like anything else. The only reason one would need the Marine Corps to “secure” the oil is to ensure which companies get to do the pumping and distributing. The fact that the price of oil is now approximately triple what it was before the war ought to tell us that someone is benefiting. But who? Is it you and me? Or is it politically connected big-wigs such as oil company shareholders and executives? The oil will always be for sale. Even if unfriendly regimes sit on the wells and sell only to others, it will free up other supplies elsewhere in the market and we’ll be just fine.

It is a mistake to think of Ron Paul’s foreign policy as some sort of liberal exception to the rest of his conservative outlook. Instead, his views follow the tradition of the Old Right Taft Republicans. They opposed foreign interventionism for the same reason America’s founders did – out of caution for the inevitable domestic detriments that accompany permanent military establishments. It has only been since the Vietnam War era that the antiwar position has been perceived as the province of hippies and leftists. Paul’s prescriptions for dealing with the world are the most conservative in the race. Meanwhile, the current National Security Strategy – unlikely to change substantively under Giuliani, Romney or Hillary administrations – is itself a radical doctrine, called “Hard Wilsonianism” by its closest adherents. Paul’s policy is to pull back the empire in order to preserve the republic and the Constitution from the radical changes brought about by avoidable conflict. These are conservative principles of independence and prudence, friendly relations and open trade. As Gov. George W. Bush once advised,

“[U]se of the military needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious. … I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, ‘We do it this way. So should you.’ … I think the United States must be humble … in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.”

Sooner or later the U.S. must leave Iraq – for financial reasons if nothing else – and the jihadists will attempt to claim credit for it no matter when it happens. Leaving Iraq and the larger Middle East as a matter of principle, however, is the only way to do so with any hope of restoring some of the integrity that has been lost since the invasion. Dr. Paul believes we have no business maintaining a world empire and that its consequences cost us far more than the gains. A withdrawal from Iraq under a Ron Paul administration would not be a victory for the terrorists, but an event to which they quickly become irrelevant bystanders.

When someone finally captures or kills Osama bin Laden and his few hundred followers, the larger “Global War on Terrorism” must end as well. The sooner the U.S. disengages from the Middle East, the quicker al Qaeda’s support will dry up. International cooperation from the various national police forces and intelligence agencies will be plenty to handle the problem. The more America intervenes in the affairs of others, the more blowback we can expect to suffer, but it is not too late to put our country back on the right track.

Thanks to Chad McMahill for helping to edit this article.

Ron Paul: The Only Presidential Candidate to Challenge the American Empire

by David T. Beito and Scott Horton Liberty & Power

David T. Beito is a member of the Liberty and Power group blog at the History News Network and Scott Horton is the host of Antiwar Radio in Austin, Texas and runs the blog Stress.

Flying under the radar of mainstream media coverage, supporters of Dr. Ron Paul, a seventy-two year old ten-term congressman and obstetrician from Texas, have staged a political revolution. Despite little publicity, they have raised over $15 million, mostly in small donations, giving Paul more money in the bank than John McCain.

In a November 5 “money bomb” (inspired by Guy Fawkes Day as depicted in the film, “V for Vendetta”) the Paul Revolutionaries raked in $4.3 million. In doing so, they set a new one-day record for all Republican candidates. In addition, Paul’s backers have spontaneously organized over 1,100 meet-up groups. That’s more than any other candidate in the race including the youthful and photogenic Barak Obama. By all indications, most of the meet-up group members, now numbering over 60,000, are under age twenty-five. Paul’s appeal can be attributed to his no-holds-barred small government, pro-liberty message as well as his consistent call to bring home the troops.

Reporters are right to emphasize the wide gap between Paul and the pro-war Republican presidential field but they should not stop there. If they dig a little deeper, they will find that his disagreements with Democrats are equally great. Paul is the only candidate in either party who wants to shut down the entire American overseas political and military Empire.

Rather than “isolationist” in foreign policy, however, Paul embraces as his own Thomas Jefferson’s stated goal of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” But, unlike our third president, Paul appears bound and determined to apply these words across-the-board. His voting record shows a consistent support for free trade and legislation to redirect the military strictly to home defense rather than foreign occupation. The Democrats, by contrast, largely share the bi-partisan post-World War II consensus of spreading democracy, human rights, or “vital interests” by military force.

Few subscribe to this consensus more zealously than Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton who has considerable credentials as a hawk dating back to her husband’s administration. Most notably, she was an aggressive cheerleader for the bombing campaigns against both Iraq and Serbia in Kosovo. Paul, like many Republicans at the time, opposed both. Although Hillary later broke with Bush on Iraq, she rejects a non-interventionist approach. She wants to leave U.S. troops behind in Iraq to fight al Qaeda as well as keep them in the region. When asked in a recent debate whether she would promise that the troops would be home from Iraq by the end of her first term, Clinton refused. Although Barak Obama opposed the war from the outset, his current views are not much different. He also intends to station U.S. forces permanently in the region and reserves the right to put them back in Iraq again in full force to stop “genocide” (a term he never defines). John Edwards advocates the same approach.

While it is true that the Democrats are dovish on Iraq when compared to Bush, they blow bugles on the Darfur region of Sudan. The frontrunners demand tougher sanctions, imposition of a no-fly zone, and U.S. aid for more UN troops. Edwards pledges to work with NATO and deploy U.S. “military assets” to enforce the zone. Clinton has even suggested a blockade of the Port of Sudan, an act of war under international law. The truculence of the Democrats on Darfur defies logic given their objections to the Iraq War. The same conditions apply in Darfur that also led to the Iraq quagmire including a history of Islamic sectarian strife, a long civil war, and no real tradition of the rule of law and democracy. Despite widespread violence and Sunni fundamentalism in Sudan, there has never been a suicide bombing there. Were the Democrats to spread the War on Terror into Darfur, that statistic would certainly change.

Rather than avoid all foreign political entanglements, as would Paul, the Democratic frontrunners promise to extend them. All three, to quote Edwards, hope to exercise “American leadership to forge powerful alliances-with longtime allies and reluctant friends, with nations already living in the light of democracy and with peoples struggling to join them.” In contrast to Paul, they do not intend to scale down foreign American bases, much less reconsider the merits of George McGovern’s old dream to “Come Home America.” As Obama puts it, the United States “cannot afford to be a country of isolationists right now….we need to maintain a strong foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world.” Woodrow Wilson could not have said it better.

If Americans expect a “great debate” about foreign policy fundamentals in 2008, absent an upset by Paul and his campaign against the American empire and for free trade, they will not get it. That would be a pity. As examples of “blowback” from previous and ongoing interventions continue to mount, such as spiraling oil prices, the free-fall in the value of the dollar, and the current strife in Pakistan and Kurdistan, Americans need such a debate more than ever before.

Saving England Wasn’t Worth It

By Scott Horton Antiwar.com June 30, 2007

Editor’s note: Antiwar.com Assistant Editor Scott Horton wrote the following essay for the Oxford Forum, whose editors asked him to contribute a piece on the Anglo-American role in international conflict. Unfortunately, the Forum‘s editors completely rewrote the essay without Horton’s permission, distorting its thesis beyond all recognition. It appears here in its full, original version.

Most Americans can’t believe that their government maintains an overseas empire of as many as 1,000 military bases. U.S. interventions are always portrayed to us as defensive in nature, and for one simple reason: Americans don’t want empire. Our country was founded in revolution from the clutches of empire, and our culture celebrates those who oppose it, from George Washington to Luke Skywalker.

We don’t want empire, but we have one. Since the end of the second World War, the people of the United States and of the world have had to deal with the terrible consequences of our country’s involvement. It turns out it’s nearly impossible to turn a limited constitutional republic into a globe-spanning, war-making leviathan and then go back again.

The Battle of Britain was won. The Germans had no ability to mount a successful land invasion of England – or even an unsuccessful one. If they had, certainly the English would have stashed the queen away somewhere and fought an insurgency as ruthlessly as the French, Russians, and Serbs, among others. The British empire may have been lost without U.S. help, but in the end, it was anyway.

However, the USSR was preserved by American intervention. The U.S.-UK invasion of Europe simply popped the lid off the jar wherein the two most despicable regimes in the world were stuck fighting each other. Had America not helped, the Soviets would likely have met defeat, with the vastly overextended Nazi empire on course for the same fate soon after. Instead, Stalin enslaved half of Europe, helped Communists seize power in China, killed millions more, and ultimately provided the pretext for America’s dominion over the Old World’s empires for the next half-century.

(The Holocaust was never a reason for American intervention. Indeed, Roosevelt delayed doing anything about the death camps for as long as he could.)

The consequences of American intervention for the Eastern Europeans were summed up by former President Herbert Hoover in terms that also foreshadowed the coming propaganda model for the new enemy:

“In June 1941, when Britain was safe from German invasion due to Hitler’s diversion to attack Stalin, I urged that the gargantuan jest of all history would be our giving aid to the Soviet government. I urged that we should allow those two dictators to exhaust each other. I stated that the result of our assistance would be to spread Communism over the whole world. … The consequences have proved that I was right.”

For a short time after World War II, as after every previous war, the U.S. began to demilitarize, but the inheritance of so many foreign empires demanded a permanent state of military readiness and deployment – and an excuse. The only way to gain consent to secure this world empire would be to “scare the hell out of the American people” – that is, lie – as Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg advised President Harry Truman. Suddenly, the Soviet Union, despite having just lost 20 million people fighting the Germans and with blind devotion to a system that had been proved not to work a generation before, was going to take over “the whole world” if we didn’t stop it. Millions of Americans trusted this new crusade to be “containment,” not world empire.

The “Cold War,” however, was merely a ruse, as former CIA adviser, ardent Cold Warrior, and self-described “spear carrier for empire” Chalmers Johnson now realizes and admits. Today’s neoconservative doctrine of “benevolent global hegemony” is merely the newest stage in an empire made permanent long ago. The role the national government took in the society and economy could not be more than partially scaled back after World War II; there was just too much money in it. Companies who prospered during the war wanted their newfound access to the U.S. Treasury preserved. America has since employed Pearl Harbor-style attacks against populations in dozens of countries as a matter of course, often, it seems, just so it can keep buying more bombs.

And all along the American people have internalized these policies, believing even that they had come up with them. As Randolph Bourne wrote back in 1918:

“War is the health of the state. … [In wartime,] the State thus becomes an instrument by which the power of the whole herd is wielded for the benefit of a class. The rulers soon learn to capitalize the reverence which the State produces in the majority, and turn it into a general resistance toward a lessening of their privileges.”

The American people are a captive market of 300 million for many of the world’s wealthiest corporations – particularly when it comes to raiding the Pentagon vault, what military strategist William S. Lind calls “the largest honey pot in the world.” Lobbyists representing the munitions industries have multi-million dollar budgets to spend on niceties for congressmen, military officials, and anyone else crucial for access to hundreds of billions of dollars. For those in the right position, it’s the best investment in the world.

Former USAID attorney and international law professor Richard Cummings, in his explosive article for Playboy magazine in March, “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” documented the decisive role played by the military industries in setting the policy of the United States. Indeed, as Cummings shows, many of the biggest players in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq were closely connected to Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Neoconservative ringleader Richard Perle’s firm Trireme Partners famously cashed in on the Terror War for over $20 million. In 2002, Lockheed executives actually set up an “advisory board” to come up with excuses for invading Iraq. (They mostly settled on crimes committed by Saddam back when he was working for the U.S., since there were no weapons of mass destruction.)

But American Cold War policy created the best enemy the War Party could have ever hoped for in the modern Sunni jihadist movement.

As Professor John Mueller points out in his book Overblown, after the defeat in Vietnam, “containment” lost favor, and the U.S. even turned to encouraging the Russians. Near the end of the 1970s the United States began a massive covert operation to lure the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan in order to give them their own “Vietnam War.” So ceasing to contain the USSR broke their economy, while the training and weapons given to the mujahedeen by the U.S. provided the experience needed for some to coalesce into what is now known as al-Qaeda – whose enemy is no longer Russia.

President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted as much with a shrug to the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998:

“What is most important to the history of the world – the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

The Cold War did end, and it was the perfect opportunity for President George H.W. Bush to show the world what it means to abdicate power for the sake of liberty by abolishing NATO, but he didn’t. In fact, when informed of the USSR’s imminent collapse, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker attempted to intervene and find a way to save the evil empire – to no avail.

Anyone who believed they would get their “peace dividend” by that point was a fool. The American empire was here to stay. The first chance George Bush Sr. had, he invaded Panama, killing thousands. Soon thereafter, with a determined Prime Minister Thatcher as a backbone, he sent the U.S. Army to the Middle East to stay for good.

Osama bin Laden issued his “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places” in 1996. And even though the Clinton administration backed the Muslim Kosovo Liberation Army during the bombing of Serbia in 1999 and paid the Taliban millions of dollars, bin Laden remained hostile.

In his book Dying to Win, Robert A. Pape shows that suicide terrorism has only one cause: foreign occupation. So the invasion of Iraq has certainly compounded a serious problem. In 2005, the Royal Institute of International Affairs wrote:

“There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism. It gave a boost to the al-Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment, and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. … Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and U.S. military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.”

That’s the kind of thing that keeps BAE Systems on the American dole for the long haul – a perfect setup for all war parties involved. Osama seems a farsighted hero to radicalized millions, and those who lurk around the U.S. government till have an enemy vague enough to last, according to Vice President Cheney, “decades.”

The Terror War has already spread to Africa, and a new military command, AFRICOM, has been set up there. The recent U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia– in the name of catching three al-Qaeda “commanders” – is only the beginning, as bin Laden predicted in an audio tape in the summer of 2006. Many liberals who oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq are pushing hard for an invasion of Sudan – next on bin Laden’s wish list.

In his newest book, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chalmers Johnson explains that following World War II the English were left with a choice between becoming the subjects of their own empire or abandoning it, and they chose the latter.

So while the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia suffer, the Bill of Rights burns, the U.S. government condones and uses torture, local police become more dependent on the national government, the president’s lawyers argue for a “unitary executive” with “plenary powers,” the national debt tops $9 trillion, and important provisions of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1876 and the Insurrection Act of 1807 are scrapped, very serious questions emerge: Are these the last days of the American republic? Can we never turn back? Must we implode like the USSR or be carpet-bombed like the British?

Peace preserves liberty. America’s founders knew this. They advised the likes of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, and indeed the American people, to stay out of political entanglements with the Old World and to be friends with everyone, allies with none.

America would be much better served if we gave up “global hegemony” and fought only in defense of our own liberty – our true legacy as a country born in revolution and secession from empire.

For Those Interested in Facts: They Hate Our Foreign Policy

By Scott Horton Antiwar.com May 20, 2007

“There are a lot of things that are different now [that the U.S. occupies Iraq], and one that has gone by almost unnoticed – but it’s huge – is that … we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al-Qaeda.

“In fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.

“I don’t want to speak in messianic terms. It’s not going to change things overnight, but it’s a huge improvement.” – Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Vanity Fair May, 9th 2003

The rhetoric and spin about Congressman Ron Paul’s “blaming America” for the September 11th attacks is symptomatic of the problems of foreign interventionism plaguing this country. The media establishment is so out of touch with reality they don’t know where to begin analyzing an actual informed opinion.

First of all, Dr. Paul did not “blame America.” What he said was that the United States government – which is not “America” and is certainly not the innocent American citizens who were murdered that day – had enacted a foreign policy that was a “contributing factor” in the attacks as it created what the CIA calls “blowback” against those innocent American citizens. Even then, there is a big difference between provocation and “inviting” the attacks as Fox News questioner Wendell Goler put it and Giuliani disingenuously repeated in his demand that Paul retract the plain truth that he had spoken.

He also did not say, contrary to Fox News’ John Gibson, that “that the U.S. actually had a hand in the terrorist attacks” or that “President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand.” And despite the thousands of ways his actual statements have been and will be paraphrased, he most certainly did not say that anyone in America deserved to be attacked. Nor was Paul defending the terrorists, excusing their behavior or explaining 9/11 away – he was just explaining it.

Congressman Paul also specifically said, in the very same debate, the following about the fight against Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network that he rightly holds responsible for committing the attacks of September 11th:

“[J]ust think. We gave the president authority to go into Afghanistan, and here we have Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. They have nuclear weapons, and we’re giving them money.

“And we forgot about him, and now we’re over in Iraq in a war that’s bogging us down, and we have forgotten about dealing with the people that attacked us. And here you have a hypothetical attack that you’re dealing with; we ought to be dealing with the one we have right now on our hands.”

As is to be expected, the TV news hairdos, having no idea what they are talking about, act as though it is Dr. Paul who is in ignorance.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, on his show “Hardball” May 16, in “debunking” Paul’s assertion that al-Qaeda was provoked in part by America’s perpetual bombing of Iraq from bases on the “holy” Arabian Peninsula revealed his ignorance as much as his sycophancy to the War Party in this exchange with NBC political director Chuck Todd:

Matthews: “[Y]ou can’t say it’s because we put troops in Iraq, over the no-fly zone, because they tried to blow up that same building back in ’93, before all these skirmishes over the no-fly zone. You can’t say that particular argument.”

Todd: “I mean, I just think – look, it – it – Rudy, he owns 9/11. And he just proved it.”

Matthews: “I know.”

Has Chris Matthews somehow forgotten “Operation Desert Storm,” AKA the War in the Persian Gulf, and that the U.S. military began building and occupying bases in the Saudi desert – “Operation Desert Shield” – in 1990 and started bombing Iraq from them in January 1991?

If he only read Time magazine, he would know that bin Laden, who had just finished fighting a successful, U.S.-backed holy war against the Russians, was enraged by the Saudi king’s decision to allow American forces onto the Arabian Peninsula in 1990 – he wanted to expel Saddam from Kuwait. And if Matthews were to quickly peruse the Jim Lehrer Newshour Web site, it would reveal bin Laden’s “fatwa” of 1996, which is titled “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” Pretty subtle, huh?

It is apparently necessary to remind those who give us the news that the bases in the Saudi desert were used to launch attacks on Iraq all through the 1990s. Indeed, in the “declaration of war,” bin Laden cites the presence of foreign combat forces near Mecca and Medina and “blood spilled in Palestine and Iraq” as his casus belli.

The good thing is that we don’t have to believe bin Laden about his motives at all. He is an evil mass murderer of innocent civilians. Why would anybody listen to him?

Why would anybody listen to him?

The only reason anyone listens to or follows bin Laden is because he points at specific foreign policies of the U.S. in order to maintain that he is the one fighting on the defensive. Michael Scheuer, the former head analyst at the CIA’s bin Laden unit, and author of Imperial Hubris, told me this himself. He said that the Ayatollah Khomeini spent the 1980?s railing against American culture and the entire region yawned. Osama bin Laden, on the other hand, kept his pitch straight and to the point – and it worked.

He told them that America was the aggressor, and cited 6 specific policies as evidence:

1: The bases in Saudi Arabia

2: Unquestioning support for Israel (The 1996 Fatwa came on the heels of the first Qana massacre in Lebanon)

3: The no-fly zone bombings and blockade of Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of people (now replaced on the jihadist sales pitch list by the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan which have killed hundreds of thousands more)

4: Support for dictators across the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, etc.)

5: Pressure on the oil producing states to keep their prices set where America wants them

6: Support for Russia, China and India in their wars against Muslims

This is why al-Qaeda is not just bin Laden and Zawahiri sitting around hating “the Jews” and American culture from their mother’s basement. They have a following because they point at concrete examples of how the U.S. government makes life worse for the average guy in the Islamic World – when it’s not taking it from him outright.

As Professor Robert A. Pape proved in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism – by studying every single individual suicide bomber on Earth between 1980 and 2004 – the one characteristic that all suicide bombers have in common is the presence of foreign combat forces in their country – not Islam. Whether it’s Sikhs in India, the Communist and atheist Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Hamas in Palestine, al-Qaeda fighters from Saudi Arabia and Egypt crashing planes in the United States, or Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

None of the September 11th hijackers was from an “axis of evil” state (Iraq, Iran or Syria). They were all from countries whose governments are our government’s “allies” – in truth, client dictatorships. Most of them were from Saudi Arabia.

It is unbelievable that the media is handling this entire thing as a victory for Rudy Giuliani and his position – as he asserted to Sean Hannity after the debate – that al-Qaeda members want to attack us because we have “freedom for women.”

This is Giuliani’s shining “Reagan debate moment”? When he is completely wrong and the statement he’s denouncing and the man making it are 100% right? Now Paul should be excluded from future debates for having actually read a thing or two about our enemies, unlike his opponent who claimed to have “never” heard such an “absurd” thing before?

Now to Dr. Paul’s argument that al-Qaeda is happy to have the U.S. military in the Middle East presently. This may be too complicated for the folks at Fox and MSNBC, but for the rest of you, here’s veteran intelligence beat reporter James Bamford:

“Ayman al-Zawahiri argued that al-Qaeda should bring the war to ‘the distant enemy’ in order to provoke the Americans to strike back and ‘personally wage the battle against Muslims.’ It was that battle that bin Laden and Zawahiri wanted to spark [with the 9/11 attacks]. As they made clear in their declaration of war ‘against Jews and Crusaders,’ they believed that the United States and Israel had been waging war against Muslims for decades. Now their hope was to draw Americans into a desert Vietnam, with bin Laden in the role of North Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh.”

It is very important to emphasize: They want to suck us in so they can bleed us dry and then push us out for good – while empowering themselves in the process.

Ask an old Commie. He’ll tell you, “The action is in the reaction.”

This is why they knocked down the towers: al-Qaeda’s purpose was to give the United States “no choice” but to come fight on their territory personally instead of, as they saw it, through their Western-installed governments and the Israelis, and then “bleed” us until the American people demand an end to the intervention or the dollar breaks, whichever comes first.

Bin Laden couldn’t have laid out his strategy more clearly than in his speech of October 2004:

“All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.

“This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. …

“So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”

They wanted to bring the U.S. army to Afghanistan, scene of their victory over the Russians. America did bring an army to Afghanistan and that war continues – though bin Laden and his friends got away. Overthrowing the tyrant Saddam Hussein, who bin Laden reviled as an “infidel” and a “socialist,” however, was an additional “gift” to the al-Qaeda movement in the words of former CIA-man Scheuer. The Bush team’s invasion killed a few birds with one stone for bin Laden: It got rid of the Ba’athists, put tens of thousands of Americans within rifle range and it created a training ground and propaganda tool for new recruits.

There had never been a suicide bombing in Iraq before 2003. Never. Now there have been well over a thousand. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the “Islamic State in Iraq,” a Sunni Arab insurgent group, has bragged that Iraq has become “Terrorism University,” thanks to the U.S. invasion.

The CIA put out a National Intelligence Estimate in the spring of 2006 which says the Iraq war has worsened our terrorism problem over all – by far.

According to Centcom, in a letter from an al-Qaeda leader named “Atiyah” to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the now-dead leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, captured in December 2005, he was instructed,

“[D]o not be hasty. The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God’s permission.”

Also in 2005, the Saudi government and an Israeli think tank did studies tracking the individual jihadists traveling to Iraq to be trained in fighting Americans. They both found that virtually all of them were youngsters who had been radicalized by the invasion of Iraq – that the only thing older jihadists had to do with it was in sending them off.

This very month of May 2007, there have emerged two strong pieces of evidence to support Dr. Paul’s view of the situation.

On May 5th, Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s number two guy despaired in an interview that the U.S. Congress was showing signs of wanting to withdraw from Iraq. ABC News reported:

“‘This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap,’ Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him [by] an interviewer.

“Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, ‘We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson.’”

And on May 17th, Yahoo News India reported:

“Suspected militants being held in Saudi Arabia on charges of plotting terror attacks have told prosecutors their main aim had been to draw the U.S. into Saudi territory, Saudi media reports said Tuesday.

“They also said they had planned to attack Saudi Arabia’s Bqeeq oil field under the instruction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

“They believed that the U.S. would have moved in to protect the oil field if the attack was carried out. If this had happened, according to the militants, the U.S. would have been an easy target for al-Qaeda attacks.”

They don’t want American combat troops stationed at bases with the permission of their government – they want a war there. They want to radicalize as many people as they can to their cause, shoot our soldiers and bleed our treasury dry.

In England, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, long thought of as the center of their foreign policy establishment, wrote a report in which they advise

“There is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism. It gave a boost to the al-Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. …Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and U.S. military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.”

So you see, foreign occupation – American foreign policy – is a “major contributing factor” in creating terrorism today, just as it was in the years before September 11th.

Bush Continues to Serve Osama

by Scott Horton Antiwar.com February 20, 2007

Everyone but the few remaining Republicans in this country understands that the purpose of the 9/11 attacks was to bait the U.S. into personally invading the Muslim World. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri wanted to bog Americans down in the Afghan mountains and rally more Sunni radicals to their cause. They hoped against hope that the U.S. would overreach and invade their fourth and fifth worst enemies, Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khamenei (the Saudi Kingdom, the United States, and Israel are numbers 1, 2, and 3). Bin Laden and Zawahiri wanted to extend their influence into the power vacuums created in our wake.

It first looked as though the U.S. was going to deny Osama the kind of protracted occupation of Afghanistan that the Russians had supplied. The CIA used Northern Alliance proxies and the U.S. Air Force to do most of the fighting while the Army was busy preparing to invade Iraq.

Our Army isn’t as bogged down in Afghanistan as the Russians were back when the U.S. was backing the jihadists against them, but the chance that the phony, U.S.-created “government” of Hamid “Lando Calrissian” Karzai will be able to establish, much less maintain, a monopoly on authority in that country must be less than nothing. The Taliban are as strong as they have been since 2001, and the United States will eventually leave Afghanistan in defeat just like every other imperial power has before. Though many have occupied Kabul, only Pashtuns have ever ruled Pashtuns for long. (Hasn’t anyone in the Pentagon’s policy department ever seen Rambo III? I would have thought they helped produce it.)

Perhaps feeling guilty for letting Osama down in the ‘Ganistan, George Bush went ahead with the invasion of Iraq and the removal of the secular Ba’athists from power. He further insisted on a prolonged occupation in the name of creating “democracy” and succeeded only in smashing that society into a mess of murderous slivers.

It is widely agreed by the experts – for example, the CIA, the Brits, the Saudis, and the Israelis – that the invasion of Iraq has transformed al-Qaeda, an organization of a couple thousand at most in 2001, into a much larger, decentralized movement, with crazies all over the world trying – with frequent success – to blow things up in its name. Bush has thus earned the United States the title “Osama bin Laden’s indispensable ally” from the former head analyst at the CIA’s bin Laden unit (which Bush has abolished).

They are not a dominant force in Iraq, and the president’s threat that al-Qaeda will take over if we leave is a lie. Over the last four years, however, thousands of al-Qaeda recruits have gone to Iraq to be trained and indoctrinated (they are still apparently seen as useful allies against the occupation by the native Sunni rebellion). Who knows where those who leave Iraq end up?

Though far short of the jihadist advances that grew out of American-Saudi-Pakistani efforts on behalf of the mujahedeen against the Russians in the 1980s, this has all made Osama bin Laden – still freer than you and me – very happy, to be sure. His brand of Salafist Wahhabism remains a million years from ruling the Middle East, but his strategy of letting the United States take down all of his hardest targets has worked brilliantly.

Now comes the news that bombs are going off in Iran, killing members the Revolutionary Guard.

Was it the formerly Saddam- and now America-backed communist cult the Mujahedin-e Khalq? American special forces getting the war started early?

No. Initial reports are that a group of radical Sunnis with “alleged links to al-Qaeda” are claiming responsibility.

From the Independent:

“The group, known by its Persian name Jundollah, shot dead 12 people last May on the Kerman to Bam highway in southeast Iran. Earlier, the group issued a video showing the execution of an Iranian officer. Other kidnapped soldiers have been beheaded.

“The U.S. has in the past accused Iran of sheltering senior al-Qaeda officials, including Osama bin Laden’s son Saad. Iran denies those charges and says Jundollah is itself part of the al-Qaeda network and is intent on fomenting sectarian strife.”

Now, John Lewis, the deputy assistant director of of the FBI’s counterterrorism section, and Sylvestre Reyes, the Democrats’ new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, may not be able to tell the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground, but most casually informed Americans can tell you that Iran, while an ethnically diverse society, is ruled by iron-fisted Shi’ite ayatollahs. If you’re Osama bin Laden and you want your movement to rule that area one day, having a gigantic Shi’ite-controlled Persia smack dab in the middle of Islamic South Asia is an obstacle, to say the least.

So it makes perfect sense for the little bin Ladens of Baluchistan to try to exploit sectarian division in an attempt to weaken the regime.

The problem is that the United States is trying to do the exact same thing. The Financial Times reported a year ago that the Marines had commissioned a study by SAIC subsidiary Hicks and Associates to identify

“the depth and nature of grievances against the Islamic government, and appeared to be studying whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq.”

And you people say the mission in Iraq is a failure!

One might wish to forget at this point that Iran has tried to make peace with the United States repeatedly over the last few years. Despite Iran’s 2003 attempt to give up everything, its repeated offers to internationalize their entire nuclear program, and its bid to turn over captured al-Qaeda members, neocons in the administration have blocked constructive engagement every step of the way.

Rather than tolerating Iran in order to obtain its help collaring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, the administration has apparently decided to tolerate al-Qaeda while focusing on their shared enemy, Iran.

There are many indications that the Bush administration is preparing for a war against Iran and its alleged but completely unproven nuclear weapons program. The Iranians even stand accused of supplying weapons to the same factions the United States is “training up” to take over – the Ayatollah Khomeini-created Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

They are the “Iraqi government,” and the idea that Iran backing them is a threat to our soldiers in Iraq only makes sense in the context of our preparations to bomb SCIRI’s bosses, the Iranians. SCIRI’s leader, Abdul Aziz Hakim, has promised that in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran, “We would do our duty.”

Regardless, the U.S. Navy’s carrier strike groups Eisenhower and Stennis are nearby, and the Nimitz is on its way. (Newsweek is now reporting it as their mistake that the Nimitz is an addition to the force, but it is “scheduled to replace” the Eisenhower.) The commander of Centcom was replaced with an admiral well versed in naval and air operations, and the administration is sending defensive missiles to friendly Gulf states.

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones is so worried that he’s introduced a measure in the House of Representatives to make it clear to Bush that he may not attack Iran unless war is declared by the U.S. Congress.

Informed people such as Wayne White, the former director of the Iraq desk at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, say that the neoconservatives‘ and paid-off defectors‘ idea that the Iranian people will rise up in the wake of an American attack and overthrow the mullahs is preposterous, and let’s hope he’s right.

What could be worse for America and the world than our creation of another catastrophic battle for power in the Middle East?

What could be better for Osama bin Laden?

Could Bush Start Another War?

by Scott Horton Antiwar.com December 24, 2006

“If the king attacks Persia, he will destroy a great empire.” – Delphic Oracle

All the news is that despite growing antiwar sentiment among the public and the establishment, Bush has decided to reject the major recommendations of the Baker panel and continue to settle for nothing less than total “victory” in Iraq, that he has turned back to the dark heart of the War Party, the American Enterprise Institute, for a plan to win and that more troops and ships are headed to the region.

Everyone outside AEI seems to agree that the chances for his “victory” of a multiethnic, America-friendly, democratic Iraqi state have long since expired. The Baker panel avoided using the term at all. And as investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss explained to me last week, the U.S. is backing the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) death squad leaders because they are the only ones (besides some of the Kurds in the autonomous North) who want – need – the U.S. to stay. This is hardly the “road to victory” as it has been defined by the President.

But Bush can’t stop now. He figures his legacy as a disgrace to America and all mankind can be postponed or perhaps somehow even reversed if he could have just a little more time.

Time for what? Could it be that Bush truly intends to carry out the full neoconservative program in the Middle East, complete with more regime changes?

Could spreading his most spectacular failure to Iran and Syria make Iraq seem merely a “catastrophic success“? Are even Bush and Cheney stupid enough to think an air war against Iran will accomplish anything other than forcing their withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, pushing their rebellious populace back into the arms of the Mullahs, driving the price of oil over $200 a barrel and beginning a brand new war in Iraq against the Iran-friendly Shia whom the U.S. has spent hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars installing in power?

Could Bush, whose approval ratings remain in the 30s, initiate an aggressive war without authorization from Congress? Could he claim that the authorization for the war in Iraq was all the authority he needed?

Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh seem to think so. On December 14th Democracy Now! replayed the audio of their October 16, 2006 appearance at the Ethical Culture Society.

They emphasize the role of the communist cult Mujahideen-e-Khalq – once Saddam’s loyal terrorists, now “ours” – in the early stages of war against Iran and the then-recent – and now recent again – news of U.S. Navy ships, including minesweepers, being sent to the Persian Gulf region. Ritter also explained that the American people have already accepted Bush’s false premise that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that the U.S. must not allow it to be successful.

But as Hersh reported in the New Yorker‘s November issue, the CIA’s new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran says that they have no evidence at all of a secret weapons program. Indeed, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has had full access to Iran’s nuclear program, has reported all along that there is “no indication” that Iran has diverted nuclear technology to any other purpose beyond their declared and monitored electricity program, a program which they have an “inalienable right” to under the NPT.

According to Ritter and Hersh, the Israelis don’t have any more evidence than the U.S. does, and it does not matter. In the eyes of right-wing Likudnik crazies like Benjamin Netanyahu and his ex-communist, Israel-First, neocon buddies in the U.S., any nuclear technology in the hands of the Iranians is tantamount to a ready capacity to “wipe Israel off the map.” The fact that the ability to enrich uranium to the grade required to generate electricity (around 3.6% U-235) does not equal the ability to enrich it to weapons grade (well over 90% U-235) – especially in the presence of IAEA inspectors and video equipment – is irrelevant to them.

It has been reported, first by Philip Giraldi, then by Hersh, Larisa Alexandrovna and Col. Sam Gardiner (ret.), that Bush has considered using real nukes on Iran’s pretend ones. While it seems inconceivable, Iran’s Natanz facility is buried deep underground, and we know how concerned Bush is with getting things right the first time.

It seems the only way he can imagine to take one last shot at greatness is to compound his mistake by 1,000 times.

Perhaps the question is whether Israel will start a war in Syria as a back door to the expansion of America’s war to Iran, or will the U.S. simply fake another Gulf of Tonkin provocation in the Indian Ocean and hit Syria second?

Even if Iran did have nuclear weapons, it would still be none of America’s business. They do not have the rocket technology to deliver them here, nor would they be likely to share their prize with terrorists. Nuclear bombs all come with a “return address.” And let’s not forget that back in 2003, they offered to give the U.S. everything.

Israel has at least 400 nuclear bombs, a fully capable conventional military and can protect itself just fine. They don’t need the U.S. for their defense, but for aggression against threats that do not really exist.

Even Robert Gates, our new secretary of “defense” admitted to Congress that the only reason Iran would want a nuke is that they are surrounded by powers with nukes.

Robert Parry reports that Bush, Blair and Olmert are already planning for more war in the new year. The Iranians seem to have waited too long to get their act together. If they had withdrawn from the NPT and started harvesting plutonium the way North Korea did, instead of throwing their books wide open to the UN and trying to go along, they’d have a nuclear deterrent by now.

Teens Frustrate Military Recruiter’s ASVAB Scam

by Scott Horton Antiwar.com November 25, 2006

With MySpace.com bulletins and a handful of homemade flyers, two teens have struck a blow against the American Warfare State, Lindale, Georgia Division.

On a Friday afternoon the 17th of November, 17-year-old high school seniors Robert Day and Samuel Parker decided to act after Day overheard some teachers at Pepperell High School saying that first thing Monday morning the school’s juniors would be made to take the ASVAB military aptitude test.

Often administered under the guise of a career aptitude test, the ASVAB’s purpose is to better equip the State to prey on young people tricked or pressured into taking the test. According to Debbie Hopper of Mothers Against the Draft, it is often given under the pretext of being a “career placement” test. (In some cases it has in fact been used that way, no doubt in an attempt to legitimize what many Americans regard as not legitimate: the use of government schools as military recruiting grounds.)

The school board answered a concerned email from Parker’s mother with a suggestion that the test is not mandatory but “customary.” Sane Americans might ask, “Where, in Prussia?”

As a senior, he would not be made to take the test, but Day confronted the high school principal, Phil Ray, in defense of students younger than himself, and was told that the test was mandated by federal law. Day says he already believed that to be false, since he remembered the test being given only to the kids actually trying to join the military the year before. Regardless, the principal dismissed his objections. The juniors who were to be tested for their military “aptitude” were not to be told before the weekend.

Principal Ray did not return repeated calls to his office.

Not easily deterred, Day and Parker decided they would do what they could to “warn” the juniors themselves. They talked to a few kids at the end of school Friday afternoon, and over the weekend sent out more than 20 messages to MySpace bulletin boards discouraging cooperation. Arriving early Monday morning, Day and Parker picked out spots soon to be populated with kids waiting for the bell to ring, and with the help of some others who quickly volunteered, rapidly distributed their 200 homemade fliers to some and also spoke to many others, encouraging all to refuse to report to the cafeteria or to sabotage the test – either by ripping it up or filling in false information.

One of the military recruiters present attempted to snub their efforts, claiming the No Child Left Behind Act allows access to all of their information anyway, and so they might as well take the test.

Journalist and author James Bovard says the NCLB does indeed “roll out a red carpet” in terms of empowering the military to demand school records, but says that the ASVAB is far beyond what even it allows. The pushing of this military aptitude test, Bovard says, is “typical of how government guides kids – to an early funeral.”

Despite the recruiter’s interruption, Parker says that he, Day and their volunteers made sure every junior who may not have wanted to take the test had a chance to hear them explain its purpose and to understand that it was not mandatory.

They estimate that about half of the school’s juniors refused to even leave their regular classes to report to the testing site in the school’s cafeteria. Some of the teachers, apparently learning about this at the last minute like most everyone else, and confused as to the nature of the proceedings, insisted that their students at least go to the cafeteria even if they did not mean to cooperate with the military. Once they were there, the kids were informed that anyone who showed up in the cafeteria would be made to take the test.

The old lunch room Catch-22.

Some of the students decided to deliberately fill in faulty information. Perhaps that will go on their permanent record instead. “Listen kid, we’re looking for test-refusers just like yourself. Do you have what it takes?”

The soldiers told the students that if anyone ripped up their test, then all the tests, including those belonging to the one-third or so of the kids who actually wanted to take it and receive their scores, would be thrown out. This bit of blackmail apparently worked on the kids who had reluctantly taken it, as no one physically destroyed their tests. Day and Parker estimate that less than a third of Pepperell’s juniors went along with their government’s scheme.

The high school counselor, Ms. Nixon, made it clear to the juniors that she was very disappointed in them for embarrassing principal Ray, but so far, no punishments have been handed down.

All in all, Parker and Day said they were pleasantly surprised by the help and encouragement of kids who they thought would not have cared at all.

We could all learn from their example.