Residents and local administration officials in the northern Syrian town of Al-Hasakah rallied on Wednesday to protest against the illegal presence of 150 US troops in the Kurdish-controlled town of Rumeilan, Syrian SANA news agency reported.
“We are categorically against the impermissible and flagrant violation of our country’s sovereignty. We will not allow American boots on our soil. We are also against any plans for a division or federalization of Syria,” Al-Hasakah Governor Mohammad Zaal said during the meeting.
A similar rally had earlier been held in the neighboring town of Al-Qamishli.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the reported deployment of 150 US troops to Rumeilan airport in the northeast of the country “an unacceptable and illegal intervention” which came without authorization from the Syrian government.
On April 28, US President Barack Obama announced that Washington would “deploy up to 250 additional US personnel in Syria including Special Forces.” They are reportedly expected to train the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The White House asserts that the deployment of the Special Forces is intended to repel Daesh terrorists.
On Wednesday, about 150 US soldiers arrived in the Kurdish-controlled town of Rumeilan in northeastern Syria, according to a Kurdish security source. According to the source, part of the contingent immediately headed to the north of Raqqa province.
Meanwhile, a 28-year-old US Army officer has sued President Barack Obama over the legality of the war against the Islamic State (Daesh), questioning Mr. Obama’s disputed claim that he needs no new legal authority from Congress to order the military to wage the ever deepening mission, The New York Times wrote on Wednesday.
Captain Nathan Michael Smith, an intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, voiced strong support for fighting Daesh but, citing his “conscience” and his vow to uphold the Constitution, he said he believed that the mission lacked proper authorization from Congress.
The legal challenge comes after the death of the third American serviceman in the fight against Daesh and as President Obama has decided to significantly expand the number of Special Forces members.
President Obama has argued that he already has the authority he needs to wage a conflict against the Islamic State under the authorization to fight the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, enacted by Congress shortly after the attacks.
With only eight more months in office, Barack Obama shows no signs of giving up his role as the most aggressively imperialist American president in modern history. Liberal Democrats rightly point fingers at Hillary Clinton’s bellicosity, yet they say nothing about Obama as he continues on a path of destruction around the world.
Nations on every continent are victims either of outright American military violence or of war waged by other means. Venezuela sinks further into despair as a result of American manipulations of oil prices and sanctions that cripple its economy. Millions of people have had their homes destroyed by United States interventions in Somalia and Libya and Syria and are forced to make dangerous treks in hopes of finding safety.
While the American instigated war goes on in Syria, that country’s government and its Russian ally make gains against terrorists. Because they are winning the United States continues to make bizarre demands that “Assad must go.” Obama has to turn over the keys in January 2017 but Assad may sit in his presidential office watching as his enemy rides off into the sunset.
The least reported and yet biggest danger is taking place in Europe. The United States and NATO continue to provoke Russia in what could be a deadly game that spins out of their control.
In recent weeks the Russians have made clear that they won’t take the provocation lying down. While the corporate media follow the president blindly, they won’t tell viewers and listeners that Russia has territory on the Baltic sea coast. Kaliningrad is Russia, just as Hawaii and Alaska are America. Of course there are Russian planes and submarines in the Baltic. They belong there while American vessels do not. Russia has every right to “buzz” United States ships and escort spy planes out of its airspace.
These very simple facts are rarely presented to Americans who have no idea that 200 of their troops will perform exercises in Moldova, a small country located between Ukraine and Romania. It is an example of how American presidents from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama made a mockery of a promise not to encircle Russia.
Instead they do just that and keep adding to the NATO arsenal. Nations like Sweden, traditionally neutral, are being lured into that organization’s grasp. In the absence of the old Soviet block there is no use for NATO except to act as the foot soldiers for American dirty work.
It seems that the end of his presidency has made Obama more anxious and therefore more dangerous. There are now “boots on the ground” in Syria, so far just 300 Special Forces, but even that small number is too high and represents the extent to which the United States is committed to maintaining the imperialist project.
Only the now inevitable Republican nominee, Donald Trump, questions this premise of American foreign policy. Hillary Clinton assisted Obama in his designs and the supposedly left wing Bernie Sanders warns of non-existent Russian aggression, supports presidential “kill lists” and thinks that having U.S. troops in Syria is a fine idea.
While the United States threatens to start World War III, the corporate media go into overdrive in their determination to distract us from the dangers our government poses to the world. They turn trivialities into major controversy but rarely report anything we ought to know. For example, Larry Wilmore saluted the president as “my nigga” during the last Obama era White House Correspondents Dinner. There was much arguing back and forth about the propriety of the words but no one spoke of the impropriety of the event itself.
The media ought to have an adversarial relationship with presidents. At the very least they should be somewhat distant and skeptical. Instead they are very cozy and quite publicly too. They even celebrate their collusion at this love fest as a president makes jokes with television comedians who compete for the chance to be sidekick for an evening.
There is no longer any pretense of impartiality. The media want access so they play along and tell lies of commission and omission with every presidential administration. They tell jokes at Russia’s expense but won’t tell readers and viewers that it is the United States who is provoking Russia in its sphere of influence.
Obama apparently wants to commit more destruction than he has already. Turning Libya into an utterly failed state was not enough. That act unleashed ISIS and Boko Haram and a wave of refugees. The coup in Ukraine ignited a civil war. The Syrian government hangs on but at a terrible price. Russia answered the call to help but America doesn’t want that war to end and will continue to use its allies to prevent a cease fire or an end to the conflict altogether.
A lot of damage can be done between now and January 20, 2009. There is no reason to mourn or rejoice Obama’s departure because he will be followed by someone who likes his foreign policy as it is. That person will also like Americans as they are: mostly intelligent but uninformed even if they wish to know what is happening around the world. The expression to do something “like there’s no tomorrow” is poignant. If Obama and company continue down this path, we shall all find out what those words mean.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
The United States has signed a military cooperation agreement with Senegal that allows “the permanent presence” of American troops in the West African country.
Sources familiar with the subject said the deal, which was clinched on Monday, would give US forces access to many areas in Senegal, such as airports and military installations, allegedly to respond to security or health needs.
The agreement allows for “the permanent presence of American soldiers in Senegal” and aims to “face up to the common difficulties in security” in the region, Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said during the signing ceremony alongside the US Ambassador to Dakar James Zumwalt.
Zumwalt, for his turn, said, “We believe that this agreement will help the US military and the Senegalese military reinforce our cooperation together to deal with threats to our common interests.”
“This agreement is about access, is about coming when there is an urgent desire and when both sides agree,” he added.
Some 40 American soldiers are currently deployed in Senegal, according to the US Africa Command. The US mission in Dakar said that number would not rise under the deal.
Washington has increased its troops in Africa in recent years under the cover of humanitarian aid or fighting terrorist groups; however, many political analysts believe the US military is actually expanding its presence all over the continent.
Reports say the US Army has in recent years developed a remarkably extensive network of over 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 African countries — more than 60 percent of the nations on the continent.
It’s not often that government officials admit to failure in the face of popular resistance. When they do, it’s an occasion for celebration.
Draft registration was reinstated in 1980, supposedly to prepare for possible deployment of US troops in Afghanistan on the side of the Islamic fundamentalist warlords and “mujahideen” who were then fighting against the USSR. The US government put me in prison for refusing to agree to fight on the side of the people who would later become the Taliban and Al Qaeda! It’s no wonder that people of my generation, or later generations, have no faith in the ability of the US government to decide for us in which wars, or on which (if any) side, we should fight.
Today in U.S. News & World Report, Steven Nelson has the most significant piece of reporting about draft registration and the Selective Service System in decades, asking questions that journalists, politicians, and the public should have been asking years ago.
It’s been obvious — to anyone who wanted to look — that resistance forced the government to abandon the attempt to enforce draft registration in failure in the 1980s, after show trials of a handful of the “most vocal” nonregistrants. But this is the first time that responsible Selective Service officials and former officials have confirmed this on the record.
The article is worth reading in full, but I’ve posted some key excerpts below, followed by my analysis and comments:
Gender-Neutral Draft Registration Would Create Millions of Female Felons
by Steven Nelson, U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2016
A key congressional committee voted last week to require young women to register for potentially compulsory military service, but the gender-equalizing reform threatens to make felons out of women who refused to participate.
Though prosecutions currently appear unlikely, men jailed for not registering with the Selective Service System and some former authorities who participated in the cases are concerned about criminalizing a large swath of the population.
“It will inevitably lead to massive resistance, whether visible in the streets or women just blowing it off the way men have,” says Edward Hasbrouck, prosecuted for not registering in the 1980s. “Congress is smoking crack if they think women can be forced to register.”
Hasbrouck served more than four months in prison after catching the eye of an ambitious federal prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who went on to be FBI director. He originally received a suspended sentence, but recalls an unamused judge sending him to prison in late 1984 [actually 1983] for doing peace activism to satisfy court-ordered community service….
The government was “faced with far more people who had initially refused to register in the start-up period than they had ever imagined — it was beyond their worst nightmare. They were self-deluded in the way people today who think they can just wave their wand and women will sign up for the draft are self-deluded,” Hasbrouck says….
In all, 20 men were prosecuted in the 1980s for not registering, a diverse and geographically scattered group including ideological advocates of individual rights and members of the historical peace churches.
The last indictment came in 1986 when Terry Kuelper of Arkansas was slapped with the felony charge. He agreed to register before trial and the charge was dismissed. Court proceedings ended when Gillam Kerley of Wisconsin was released from a three-year prison sentence after four months, with the case ending in 1988….
Former Selective Service associate director Edward Frankle … developed a process for … enforcement of the registration law…. “We did what we had to to keep at least some level of credibility in the system,” he says. “You couldn’t just totally ignore it — how could you do that and still with a straight face say, ‘Yeah that’s the requirement’?”
In the late ’80s the Justice Department discontinued prosecutions. Dick Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service who was with the agency at the time, recalls the Justice Department “decided that since there was no draft … there are limited resources and the FBI’s time would be better spent chasing white collar crime than some Mennonite kid through Pennsylvania.”
“We said, ‘Fine, we understand,’ and that’s why it ended in ’88,” he says. “The agency did agree to what the Justice Department proposed, a suspension of prosecutions [during peace time]. Since they did the prosecutions we didn’t have much leverage anyways.”…
Flahavan says the Selective Service had hoped for a much stronger approach from federal prosecutors, but was rebuffed.
“What we would have preferred was every year in all 95 judicial districts there be a prosecution to keep the heat on and the publicity going,” he says. “But they couldn’t sustain that.”
If someone registered just before trial, the prosecution would be dropped, Flahavan notes, making the pursuit of resisters “really a losing proposition for the feds” and often “a big waste of time.”
Wilfred Ebel, acting director of the Selective Service System in 1987, when further waves of prosecutions were being considered, says he can’t recall the precise discussions that led to abandonment of new cases. Former Attorneys General Ed Meese, who left the department in 1988, and successor Dick Thornburgh did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Mueller….
Though hard numbers are elusive, Hasbrouck says with confidence “compliance with the address update requirement is and has been since 1980 essentially zero.”
A central insight of both Gandhian and anarchist political theory is that governments have power only to the extent that people are willing to carry out or comply with their orders. But few of the people pontificating lately about whether extending draft registration to women is “desirable” (from one or another perspective) have stopped to ask whether it is possible. So far as I know, no historian or scholar has made a study of draft registration since 1980. (If I’ve missed something, please send me a link or citation, or post it in the comments.) There’s been no GAO audit of the accuracy of the Selective Service database of registrants and their current addresses since 1982.
Despite the refusal of the Justice Department to prosecute nonregistrants, the Selective Service System continues to refer names of possible nonregistrants identified by automated data-matching to the Justice Department “for possible prosecution”. According to the latest Selective Service System Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2015 (page 16), “If a man fails to register or fails to provide evidence that he is exempt from the registration requirement after receiving Selective Service reminder and/or compliance mailing, his name is referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible investigation and prosecution for his failure to register… During FY 2015, 146,997 names and addresses of suspected violators were provided to the DOJ.” None of these nonregistrants were investigated or prosecuted, nor have any of the other millions of suspected draft registration resisters whose names have been referred by the SSS to the DOJ in the last thirty years.
If resistance rendered draft registration of men unenforceable, why would anyone think that young women will be more willing to sign up to kill or be killed on command than young men have been?
Resistance to any attempt to extend draft registration to women is inevitable, but people tend to (wrongly) discount the practical or political significance of silent resistance, despite its effectiveness. That’s a major reason why the ongoing resistance to draft registration by young men has been so little noticed or understood.
Much of the active political life of subordinate groups has been ignored because it takes place at a level we rarely recognize as political. To emphasize the enormity of what has been, by and large, disregarded, I want to distinguish between the open, declared forms of resistance, which attract most attention, and the disguised, low-profile undeclared resistance….
For many of the least privileged minorities and marginalized poor, open political action will hardly capture the bulk of political action…. The luxury of relatively safe, open political opposition is rare… So long as we confine our conception of the political to activity that is openly declared we are driven to conclude that subordinate groups essentially lack a political life…. To do so is to miss the immense terrain that lies between quiescence and [open] revolt and that, for better or worse, is the political environment of subject classes….
Each of the forms of disguised resistance… is the silent partner of a loud form of public resistance.
And Scott said this in Two Cheers for Anarchism (Princeton University Press, 2012, Chapter 1):
Desertion is quite different from an open mutiny that directly challenges military commanders. It makes no public claims, it issues no manifestos, it is exit rather than voice. And yet, once the extent of desertion becomes known, it constrains the ambitions of commanders, who know they may not be able to count on their conscripts…. Quiet, anonymous,… lawbreaking and disobedience may well be the historically preferred mode of political action for… subaltern classes, for whom open defiance is too dangerous.
To make this happen, Congress and the public need to hear from young women who don’t plan to register for the draft. Otherwise they won’t think about the prospect of resistance by women to draft registration, or take it seriously. I’ll be happy to publish or link to “I Won’t Go” or “We Won’t Go” statements, anonymously or with names as the authors wish. If there are other things I can do to help young women prepare to resist draft registration, or to support their resistance, or to support the ongoing resistance by young men, please let me know.
Finally, it has become clear what the world has been set to expect from the NATO summit to be held in Warsaw on July 8-9. Summing things up, it is clear that the Alliance is moving to the east. It plans to create a Black Sea «allied fleet». It should be done quickly – the standing force should be formed by July.
The idea has been put forward by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis who probably wants to leave a historic legacy. The «allied fleet» is to comprise the warships from Germany, Italy, Turkey and the United States. At present, non-Black Sea NATO vessels visit the Black Sea only during exercises. The ships from Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Georgia may join the force on permanent basis.
The 1936 Montreux Convention regulates the transit of naval warships. The document restricts outside navies’ access to the Turkish Straits and the Black Sea to 21 straight days per warship, and a maximum aggregate tonnage of 45,000 tons, with any one vessel no heavier than 15,000 tons.
Non-Black Sea states must also give Turkey a 15-day notice before sending warships through the straits.
International law is not strictly observed nowadays, so this problem could be solved. But what mission the new NATO standing force in the Black Sea is destined for?
A bit more than a couple of years ago Washington and Brussels had plans to make Sevastopol a NATO naval base. For many centuries the city has served as an outpost to protect the peninsula. After Crimea was reunited with Russia, Sevastopol became a fortified area with integrated command and control, intelligence and reconnaissance, anti-air, anti-surface ship and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
Sevastopol’s reunification with Russia was a great frustration for NATO planners. Now they start to mull retaliatory measures. The «allied fleet» is an element of broader strategic plans. A few ships cannot tip the balance of forces in the Black Sea. Neither US, nor Romanian surface ships, nor the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy escorted by rubber boats, or German conventional submarines pose any threat to Sevastopol. But it may change in the future. The Montreux convention can be changed (or violated), public opinion can be influenced and democratic parliaments can be convinced to approve allocations for creating a really strong maritime force in the Black Sea with Odessa as its home base. The port could be upgraded to host a large naval force.
Then the situation will be escalated to the days of the Cold War. The status of Ukraine led by Petro Poroshenko will change, if the president still remains in power and the Hetman Sahaydachniy still keeps afloat. Poroshenko is happy. He is impatiently waiting for the July NATO summit. The event can ultimately do away with whatever is left of «détente», «reset» etc. and bring the world back to the days of uncompromised mutual assured destruction.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Daesh militants must immediately be pushed back from an area in Syria near the Turkish border.
“Daesh should be cleared from the Manbij region southwards at once and we are doing the necessary work for that,” he said in comments broadcast on NTV Wednesday.
He was referring to a northern Syrian town that has been used as a logistical route by the Takfiri group.
It was not immediately clear whether Cavusoglu’s remarks meant a possible Turkish military operation inside Syria.
Earlier, security sources said Turkey’s military shelled an area of northern Syria after rockets allegedly hit the Turkish border town of Kilis.
Nobody was wounded in the morning attack on the town as the rockets hit empty land, the sources said.
Kilis, just across the border from an area controlled by the militants, has been regularly hit by rocket fire.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced concerns over the conduct of Turkish military actions on the ground and its push for so-called safe zones inside Syria.
“What makes Russia and many others worried is that Turkey is still firing at Syrian territory; and there are still those who demand the establishment of some sort of safe zone in Syria, also the non-stop voices calling for ground action in Syria.
“We believe they are the ones who place their hopes for solving the Syrian crisis on force instead of through political solutions. We believe this will have disastrous outcomes; therefore, these pleas should shop,” Lavrov said in Moscow.
Lavrov stressed that Russia insists the border between Syria and Turkey should be closed to cut off supplies for terrorists in Syria.
He expressed hope to see solutions from the UN regarding the matter in the new report on the situation soon to be released by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“We very much hope that the United Nations Secretariat’s report will find solutions on those facts regarding how terrorist organizations use the Syrian-Turkish border as supply channel,” he said.
“We stress that those channels that deliver weapons and personnel supplies to terrorists must be shut down,” Lavrov said after meeting with the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.
“Therefore, Russia believes the critical thing here is to close the Syrian-Turkish border since that is where these activities are rampant.”
The US has given Israel categorical assurances that it will not deliver F-35 stealth multirole fighter jets to Arab states to beef up their aerial power, a report says.
According to the Hebrew-language daily Maariv, Washington had confirmed to Tel Aviv that this type of aircraft “will be exclusively allocated for Israel in the Middle East.”
The newspaper further said Israeli authorities are wary of the fact the sale of F-35 military aircraft to Arab countries would chip away at the “technological superiority of Israel in the region.”
There are reports that Washington is mulling the sale of fifth-generation F-35 aircraft to Qatar and Kuwait. US military officials have already announced that they will maintain a quality gap in favor of Israel in such a case.
The Hebrew-language newspaper Yisrael Hume reported recently that the Israeli Air Force is due to receive the first the first batch of F-35 fighter jets at the end of the current year.
It will receive a further seven warplanes next year. An airbase is going to be constructed in Israel’s southern desert region of Negev for the new aircraft.
US military aid to Israel negotiations stalled: Report
Officials, meanwhile, say negotiations meant to enshrine US military aid for Israel over the next decade have snagged on disputes about the size, scope and fine print of a new multibillion-dollar package.
Israel is trying to garner $10 billion more than the current 10-year package, and billions more than the US administration is currently offering through guaranteed funding for missile projects.
US President Barack Obama, however, wants the funds to be spent entirely on US-made weapons, and not spent even partly on Israeli arms, several US and Israeli officials told Reuters.
Under the current agreement signed in 2007 and due to expire in 2018, Israel has received a total sum of about $30 billion or an average of $3 billion per annum from the US.
The current deal allows Israel to spend 26.3 percent of US funds on its own military industries. Washington is seeking to phase out this provision, and ensure that all of the money is spent on US-built munitions.
Tel Aviv says such a measure would give a devastating blow to its arms firms, which make some $800 million a year.
The United States also wants to put an end to a provision which allows Israel to spend around $400 million in annual funds on military fuels.
Israel has long been a major recipient of US aid, most in the form of military assistance.
Tel Aviv also wants the US administration to support missile defense projects that have so far relied on ad hoc assistance by the U.S. Congress.
The Obama administration has reportedly balked at Israel’s request to stipulate a separate funding track in the military deal for missile projects.
In recent years, US legislators have given up to $600 million to Israel in the form of annual discretionary funds for missile systems. The figure is four-fold the $150 million requested by the Obama administration.
When Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Iraq a few days ago, he did it, as always, under a shroud of secrecy. The mainstream press was asked in advance to keep the trip secret and dutifully complied. Biden declined to spend the night in Iraq, staying only 10 hours before whisking away to Italy, where presumably he slept safe and sound.
Why all the secrecy? Why didn’t Biden stay in Baghdad a few days, walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the country? After all, isn’t this the country that the US government invaded and regime-changed under the military rubric “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Isn’t this the country that the US military and the CIA occupied for more than 10 years, killing people with impunity and destroying homes, buildings, and infrastructure in the process, all with the aim of producing a showcase for interventionism to present to the world?
Oh, let’s not forget the regime they installed. After all, lest we forget, this was, in fact, a regime-change operation, one devoted to removing Saddam Hussein from power (who had been a partner and ally of the US government during the 1980s) and installing and establishing a government that would be, well, more pro-USA. and, therefore, more “free.” And after all, the structure of the new government was modeled after that of the US government — that is, one founded on an all-powerful national-security establishment, including an enormous military and intelligence force with the omnipotent power to round up people, torture them, and kill them.
The purpose of Biden’s trip? To offer support to the beleaguered regime of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government is wracked with political corruption. In fact, the corruption goes so deep that over the weekend hundreds of Iraqi protestors broke into the infamous “Green Zone” in Baghdad to protest the corruption. That’s the walled-in zone that the US government constructed as part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” It was the first time that many of the protestors had ever been inside the Green Zone.
Today a car bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing 18 and wounding at least 28 others. That was a different car bomb from the one that exploded in Baghdad on Saturday, which killed 21 people and wounded another 42. Those two were different from the car bomb that exploded in Baghdad on April 25, which killed at least 11 people and wounded 39.
No wonder Biden sneaks into Iraq and doesn’t dare spend the night there, much less walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the sites. Indeed, have you ever noticed that not one single American neocon has ever taken his family on vacation to Iraq since the Pentagon invaded some 13 years ago? Have you ever noticed that congressmen never include Iraq on their list of nice, little junkets to take?
What better testament to the philosophy of foreign interventionism than Iraq? Here was their chance — the great opportunity for the Pentagon, the CIA, the entire national-security establishment, the neocon movement, and the interventionist movement to show what they could do if given carte blanche over a country, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
All that needed to be done was to kill a few hundreds of thousands of people, incarcerate and torture tens of thousands of others, reeducate millions who would survive the onslaught, and bring into existence a new government — one that might be a bit brutal, corrupt, and tyrannical but at least would be pro-USA.
Iraq was to be the showcase for foreign interventionism. It was to be their model.
Alas, all they’ve done is produced one giant hellhole of death, destruction, misery, suffering, privation, violence, crises, civil war, and loss of freedom. All they have to show for their grand interventionist experiment is hundreds of thousands of corpses, tens of thousands of others who have been detained and tortured, an impoverished society, and a crooked, corrupt, and tyrannical government, not to mention a brand new organization that their interventionism produced to the Middle East: ISIS, aka ISIL, aka the Islamic State.
The Iraq intervention is proof positive that God has created a consistent universe, one in which evil means beget evil ends. How in the world can any right-thinking American be an interventionist? How can anyone who cares about moral principles be an interventionist? How can any Christian be an interventionist? What does he say to God — that he meant well when he supported the violence, death, suffering, and corruption that comes with interventionism?
There is but one thing for the US government to do: Leave everyone in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East alone. Come home. You have done enough damage, especially if we throw Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia into the interventionist mix. You have killed, incarcerated, tortured, and maimed enough people. You have destroyed enough buildings. You have produced enough terrorists. You have caused enough refugees.
No more interventionism. Just bring all your troops home. Don’t pour fuel on the fire that your interventionism has ignited.
Last week the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring women to register with Selective Service. This means that if Congress ever brings back the draft, women will be forcibly sent to war.
The amendment is a response to the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat. Supporters of drafting women point out that the ban on women in combat was the reason the Supreme Court upheld a male-only draft. Therefore, they argue, it is only logical to now force women to register for Selective Service. Besides, supporters of extending the draft point out, not all draftees are sent into combat.
Most of those who opposed drafting women did so because they disagreed with women being eligible for combat positions, not because they opposed the military draft. Few, if any, in Congress are questioning the morality, constitutionality, and necessity of Selective Service registration. Thus, this debate is just another example of how few of our so-called “representatives” actually care about our liberty.
Some proponents of a military draft justify it as “payback” for the freedom the government provides its citizens. Those who make this argument are embracing the collectivist premise that since our rights come from government, the government can take away those rights whether it suits their purposes. Thus supporters of the draft are turning their backs on the Declaration of Independence.
While opposition to the draft is seen as a progressive or libertarian position, many conservatives, including Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and Robert Taft, where outspoken opponents of conscription. Unfortunately, the militarism that has led so many conservatives astray in foreign policy has also turned many of them into supporters of mandatory Selective Service registration. Yet many of these same conservatives strongly and correctly oppose mandatory gun registration. In a free society you should never have to register your child or your gun.
Sadly, some opponents of the warfare state, including some libertarians, support the draft on the grounds that a draft would cause a mass uprising against the warfare state. Proponents of this view point to the draft’s role in galvanizing opposition to the Vietnam War. This argument ignores that fact that it took several years and the deaths of thousands of American draftees for the anti-Vietnam War movement to succeed.
A variation on this argument is that drafting women will cause an antiwar backlash as Americans recoil form the idea of forcing mothers into combat. But does anyone think the government would draft mothers with young children?
Reinstating the draft will not diminish the war party’s influence as long as the people continue to believe the war propaganda fed to them by the military-industrial complex’s media echo chamber. Changing the people’s attitude toward the warfare state and its propaganda organs is the only way to return to a foreign policy of peace and commerce with all.
Even if the draft could serve as a check on the warfare state, those who support individual liberty should still oppose it. Libertarians who support violating individual rights to achieve a political goal, even a goal as noble as peace, undermine their arguments against non-aggression and thus discredit both our movement, and, more importantly, our philosophy.
A military draft is one of — if not the — worst violations of individual rights committed by modern governments. The draft can also facilitate the growth of the warfare state by lowering the cost of militarism. All those who value peace, prosperity, and liberty must place opposition to the draft at the top of their agenda.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that NATO is preparing to deploy four battalions — approximately 4,000 troops — to Russia’s western border. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work was in Brussels today to announce the Western military escalation on Russia’s border, which he claimed was in response to Russian military exercises near the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Work, two of the battalions would come from the United States, with one each coming from the UK and Germany. This announcement might come as news to German lawmakers, as such a significant German military presence on Russia’s borders has not been approved by Berlin. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given Washington reason to believe that Germany would join the escalation, the move is considered highly controversial in a Germany growing weary of following US foreign policy dictates. In fact, according to recent polling, only one in three Germans supports the idea of the German military defending the Baltics even if there were a Russian attack. A clear majority of Germans oppose NATO military bases on Russia’s border.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK government has not agreed to send the troops either, despite the claims of unnamed “Western officials.”
The US deputy secretary of defense explained in Brussels that the US must send these thousands of troops thousands of miles from the US because Russia is conducting military exercises on its own soil and the US finds that intolerable.
Said Deputy Secretary Work:
The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops. From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.
What is not made clear in the article but should not be lost on readers is that “right up against the borders” is still Russian territory. But “right up against the borders” on the other side — where the US military is to be deployed and to conduct exercises — is most definitely not US territory. In other words, the US is traveling thousands of miles to place its troops on Russia’s border in response to Russian troops inside its border.
Here is Washington logic: Russian military exercises inside Russia are “extraordinarily provocative” but somehow stationing thousands of US troops on the border with Russia is not at all provocative. Just like US military exercises in the Baltic sea some 50 miles from Russian soil is not at all provocative, but Russian military plane fly-overs in response to these US military exercises is “reckless and provocative.” And just like the US flying a spy plane over highly-secret Russian military facilities on the Kamchatka peninsula is not at all provocative, but when the spy plane is buzzed by another Russian fighter, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warns, “This is unprofessional. This is dangerous. This could lead somewhere.”
It’s never provocative when Washington’s interventionists do it.
Donald Trump’s long-awaited, much-discussed speech on foreign policy has been praised by some and slammed by others, but the more neocons recoil in horror over his ideas, the more those who are not otherwise inclined to support him might warm up to the Republican frontrunner’s ‘radical’ ideas.
Trump’s exploratory speech on foreign policy had its bright moments, with the candidate emphasizing that US foreign policy disasters in the Middle East threw the region into chaos, and saying that the cycle of hostility between Washington and Moscow must come to an end (“from a position of strength only” on the US’s part, naturally).
At the same time, long-standing non-interventionists including Ron Paul Institute political analyst Daniel McAdams weren’t as enthusiastic about Trump’s proposals, McAdams telling Sputnik that Trump’s proposals are a mixed bag, since his advisors appear to be realists, and “that is not super satisfying to a non-interventionist and an anti-war person because realists…lack the philosophy…of avoiding war and avoiding entangling alliances.”
Nevertheless, the neocons’ incessant bashing of Trump has created the potential to make the candidate appealing to those Americans sick of aggressive policy against Russia, and those opposed to never-ending wars in the Middle East.
This holds true in the case of neocon pundit Anne Applebaum, who has previously gone so far as to say that a Trump presidency would mark “the end of the West as we know it.”
Responding to Trump’s foreign policy speech in an op-ed for the Washington Post, Applebaum suggested that his rhetoric was not only ridiculous and contradictory, but also dangerous (to the neocons, of course).
“On the one hand, he said that ‘your friends need to know that you will stick by the agreements that you have with them.’ On the other hand, he threatened to ‘walk’ if those same friends didn’t pony up to his demands. He wants to invest heavily in the military, but he wants to stop using the military. He doesn’t want to do ‘nation-building’ but does want to promote ‘regional stability’.”
Ratcheting up the pretentiousness, Applebaum suggested that “there was no sense” that Trump even “knew what either of those terms meant,” adding that unfortunately, neither may many American voters.By the same token, she said, the ‘multiple contradictions’ in the speech indicate “that audiences can pick and choose their message. Isolationists and ‘realists’ heard what they wanted to hear. On the other hand, Trump’s call to ‘reinvigorate Western values and institutions’ might well appeal to those voters who aren’t isolationist at all. He says he likes American soldiers and wants to spend more on defense, so what’s wrong?”
At the same time, “foreign audiences are already hearing different Trump messages and are picking and choosing the ones that they like. The Russians love the way he talks about foreign policy as if it were a cynical business deal, because that’s exactly how President Vladimir Putin sees it. A part of the European left is already warming up to the suggestion the United States withdraw from Europe, because that’s what it has always wanted, too. And yes, all concerned will be perfectly capable of ignoring, simultaneously, all of the things about Trump that they should in theory deeply dislike.”
Ultimately, Trump’s foreign policy proposals do appear to be somewhat contradictory and hazy, in contrast to the more principled approach proposed by Dr. Ron Paul. Nevertheless, the fact that neocons continue to throw a fit over Trump’s remarks on foreign policy, despite his status as the presumptive Republican nominee, is an indication that he remains a thorn in the side of Washington’s neoconservative foreign policy establishment.At the same time, with fellow non-interventionist Bernie Sanders effectively sidelined by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment, Trump may yet prove to be the lesser hawk compared to the former secretary of state, who voted for the Iraq war, pushed the Libyan intervention, and whose aides promoted the Maidan coup d’etat in Ukraine. In any case, Trump’s ‘common sense conservative’ views certainly never helped him win support among hawkish Republican elites. But they have given him the ear of those sick and tired of business as usual in Washington’s political and and military relationship with the rest of the world.
Aleppo now continues to be the focus of a renewed and nasty propaganda war, with US and Western officials claiming the Syrian regime has been bombing civilian or moderate opposition targets in breach of the ceasefire. Both points – firstly that these are ‘moderate’ opposition targets, and secondly that the Syrian regime has been breaching the cease fire agreement – are refuted, meaning essentially that there’s no real way to know the truth of the matter.
More than 200 civilians, including 35 children, are reported to have been killed as violence erupted again this week, apparently leaving the ceasefire agreement in doubt.
We all know the drill by now, however. When Western officials and corporate media report that an MSF hospital has been destroyed by unknown aircraft, this is basically code for ‘We Did It – But We’re Going to Blame Assad’. We’ve seen all of this strategy before, with the Houla massacre or with the chemical attacks in 2013.
The hospital bombing in recent days, which has sparked outrage, has been blamed on the Syrian government by most Western media, including the comedy act of the US State Department. Both Russian and Syrian officials have refuted this accusation, which in fact is a sequel to the bombing of hospitals that occurred in February, which Washington blamed on Russia, but which Russia accused the US of having carried out.
Just as previous instances, most Western media has fallen into line with the US State Department, running the by-now-familiar stories of ‘Assad, the Butcher’, etc. Even The Guardian, I am disappointed to see, has followed this line, providing a one-sided story and portraying events in Aleppo purely as a regime massacre. It’s worth nothing, however, that their main source appears to be the ‘White Helmets’ (see Vanessa Beeley’s analysis of White Helmets and war propaganda here).
What isn’t highlighted, however, is that for the last several days the government-held parts of Aleppo (and the 2,000,000 inhabitants and refugees there) seem to have been under bombardment with improvised gas-canister mortars and rockets from the al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) side.
The idea that Aleppo is filled with ‘moderate’ opposition is generally refuted. And if you’re experiencing deja vu, it’s probably because you remember that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and co have played this game before, like when they insisted the Libyan government forces under Gaddafi were carrying out ‘massacres’ in Tripoli and Benghazi when in fact they were simply attempting to retake territories that had been seized by Al-Qaeda and other foreign-backed jihadists/mercenaries.
And just as the much-referenced Benghazi massacre was in fact a Western government/media fiction, we would do well to question the Aleppo narrative now.
According to Russian officials on April 12th, some 10,000 al-Nusra militants were surrounding Aleppo, planning to blockade the city. Russian officials have confirmed that the rebels in Aleppo are primarily al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda – and exempt from the ceasefire) and have asked the United States to prove otherwise. Far from proving otherwise, even US government officials appear to have been acknowledging in recent days that Syrian Army targets in Aleppo are primarily Al-Qaeda – and therefore exempt from the ceasefire agreement.
A week and a half ago, Col. Steve Warren, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon that it was “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities”. This implied fairly clearly that the Syrian government would not be breaching the ceasefire agreement if it tried to attack them.
In February, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, had confirmed that “foreign terrorists” and not Syrians were trying to prolong the conflict, saying that “foreign jihadists have been given the green light to intensify the bombing of civilians.”
Mons. Georges Abou Khazen, reported “We have been under continuous bombardment in Aleppo with civilian deaths, injuries and destruction… and these attacks are being carried out by the so-called ‘moderate opposition groups’.” The prelate crucially pointed the finger at the front defended by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the West. Crucially, he also suggested that the escalation represented the desire to “derail the peace negotiations” by “regional forces” that he believed were trying to prevent Aleppo being liberated from terrorist control.
In all likelihood, it has been al-Nusra escalating the fighting, quite likely encouraged by their foreign backers, in the full expectation that government forces would have to retaliate – and that this retaliation could then be spun into a ‘vicious regime attack’ narrative.
This latest round of propaganda is presumably attempting to derail the peace initiative, so that the much-talked-about ‘Plan B’ can be initiated – ‘Plan B’ (which is essentially ‘Plan A, Part 2’) is basically to resume arming and backing rebel groups. Which seems to have been going on anyway – even during the ceasefire – with the US recently allegedly delivering 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition to anti-regime fighters (including al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda), most of who aren’t Syrians anyway.
And so on it goes.