Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Email Leaks Prompt Hillary to Ratchet Up Cold War Rhetoric

Hillary Clinton is dangerous.

kissinger-pinochet
Pinochet & Kissinger

She was the leading Democratic advocate for the Iraq War. Yet that alone did not compel war criminals Henry Kissinger & John Negroponte to endorse her candidacy for president:

She supported the 2009 Honduras coup which caused enough violence to result in a refugee crisis we shamefully & simultaneously ignored & fear-mongered. Libya is a shambles since the assassination of Gaddafi, which Hillary supported and defiantly insists is a success story. She supports opposing sides of the civil war in Syria. She threatened to attack Iran. Her position on Israel/Palestine is to the right of every single current and former US president.

mccarthy
Senator Joseph McCarthy

Rather than confront the substance of leaked emails, Hillary, her campaign, and much of a parroting corporate media are employing McCarthy-ite, Red Scare antics. They are waving the contents off as Russian propaganda unworthy of dissemination. Those reporting on the damning leaks have been castigated as complicit agents of the Kremlin.

David Sirota
David Sirota

Just the New York Times, the Intercept, The Young Turks, the International Business Times, and a few others are reporting the leaks without caveat.

Despite Wikileaks’ 100% record of authenticity – and Clinton’s own admission of the emails’ authenticity during a presidential debate – the Podesta leaks have been brushed off by Clinton surrogates as Kremlin-doctored fakes.

Worse, Cold War flames are being fanned for partisan & personal political gain. Without providing a single bit of evidence, Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama have accused Russia of meddling in our presidential election. They are claiming that Donald Trump, Vladamir Putin, and Julian Assange are in cahoots to undermine Hillary’s ascent to power. And that Russia is behind all of the hacks –Hillary’s campaign staff emails, the DNC, and dozens of state voter databases.

Here’s their case: Guccifer 2.0, who claimed responsibility, is Romanian (Russia-adjacent?). The hacker(s) utilized tactics used by Russian hackers in the past. Ex-KGB Agent Putin is the marionette of dimwitted Trump, who is vulnerably indebted to Russian banks, having been black-balled for defrauding many in the US. Trump-henchman Roger Stone has ties to Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who clearly has disdain for Hillary.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange

Also, Assange lost journalistic free speech rights when he conspired to hold onto the emails for maximum impact on the presidential election, and thus should face extradition (or worse). John Kerry didn’t pressure Ecuador to cut his internet. John Podesta is a private citizen whose privacy was violated. And Russia committed a cyber attack against the US.

Whether any or all of that is accurate – given WMDs & the Gulf of Tonkin their claims deserve scrutiny – is completely separate from the substance of the emails. No one cares that the Pentagon Papers were stolen. Or Donald Trump’s tax returns.

john_podesta_before_the_u-s-_senateJohn Podesta – of the Podesta Group, the third most influential lobbying group in the world – is one of the most powerful men in the world.

Hillary Clinton is on the verge of becoming the Leader of the Free World.

While I personally disagree with Wikileaks’ publishing of everything up to and including Podesta’s risotto recipe, many revelations in the emails are of great public import and very much need daylight.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Source: CC-BY, US Congress
Debbie Wasserman Schultz

After all, former-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was pressured to resign as result of the DNC hack. She used her political position to tilt the primary election against Senator Bernie Sanders (before going back to work for Hillary’s campaign).

The American public were shown proof that Hillary’s State Department gave political favors, such as ambassadorships and approval of arms deals, to Clinton Foundation donors.

donna_brazile_1
Donna Brazile

The Podesta leaks continue to roll out by the thousands. We’ve thus far learned that Hillary was provided, in advance, a primary debate question by CNN contributor and now-interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile.

We see the Clinton camp feeding stories to friendly journos and being given final approval of stories in advance; and given interview questions in advance with final approval.

There is evidence of illegal coordination between the Clinton campaign and pro-Hillary super PACs Correct the Record and Priorities USA Action.

Hillary assured Wall Street executives that her public stances do not necessarily reflect her real, private positions which she shares with her fellow monied elites.

Hillary, along with her surrogates in the media and her online army of mercenary trolls, do not wish to deal with uncomfortable truths about their favored candidate. Rather, they obfuscate and saber-rattle.

This is extremely dangerous and will have effects long outlasting this particular political campaign. An adversarial relationship with Russia is the path toward mutually assured destruction. We’ve been (rightly) accusing each other of human rights abuses and war crimes. Our plutonium reprocessing deal was cancelled. Our Syrian cease-fire was broken.

Ronald Reagan promised Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not move an inch toward Russia. In a bold move of aggression, we offered NATO membership to Russia’s neighbor Ukraine. Estonia and Latvia are already NATO aligned. We essentially occupy the Russian border. We are in a constant state of reverse-Cuban Missile Crisis and most Americans don’t seem to know or care.

trump Tronald_DumpDonald Trump is a fascist mad-man. He says Japan & Saudi Arabia should have nukes. He may be a belligerent bumbler, but he is not actively pushing for WWIII. Trump says he wants to work with Putin to defeat ISIS (Daesh). We cannot work with them while busily fear-mongering and threatening retaliation. Let them burn their money bombing peace into the Middle East for a while – we could use a break.

Hillary wants a no-fly zone in Syria, enforcement of which would require boots on the ground. Besides, Daesh doesn’t have any planes in Syria – they don’t have any planes at all. Russia does. Would Hillary have us shoot down a Russian pilot and instigate Word War III for inevitably violating a nonsensical no-fly zone in Syria?

Hillary Clinton has called for a military response to a cyber attack. They are calling these leaks a cyber attack and blaming Russia! Thanks to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, we are closer to nuclear war than at any time in at least a generation.

The Cold War is resurrected. For political expediency.

Torture Report





Five years after it’s completion. After five years of legal and political wrangling between the Senate Intelligence Committee, the CIA, and the Obama administration. The Torture Report has at long last been made public.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein (D-CA)

And ohhh did the tussle get good. At one point, senators were allowed to review the CIA’s (Former CIA Director Leon Panetta’s) internal review of the torture program. But were only allowed to look in a secure room by themselves – sans staffers – and not even allowed to take any notes. They were given access to a less-redacted version than they had originally expected. The CIA was then caught spying on the senators personal devices, and those of their staffers. Yes, the CIA was caught spying on the Senators specifically tasked with oversight of their agency. To the point that Senators considered liberating classified documents from the CIA for safekeeping, in fear that they would be destroyed. Constitutional crises.

obama fingerThe White House withheld nearly 10,000 documents from the Senate. The most juicy of details, one would imagine. That’s the overarching, the meta, angle to keep in mind. None of them are guiltless. And they are all trying to deflect blame. To point fingers at one other.

Mark Udall, outgoing senator who threatened to leak torture report if not released
Mark Udall, outgoing senator who threatened to leak torture report if not released

The Bush White House gave permission, and Dubya lied about when he knew the details. The Senate, including many current members, reiterated permission numerous times. The CIA carried out the torture, and lied about it’s efficacy to everyone, including the White House.  And Obama doesn’t want the precedent of going too far up the totem pole. Saying from the get-go that we should “look forward, not backward.” And sending Secretary of State John Kerry just this week to try and convince Feinstein to delay release of the report, days before it’s eventual release. As if ignoring our past makes it go away. As if there will ever be a perfect time when everyone in the world loves us enough to ignore war crimes.

This is not an option. We have to confront our mistakes, so that we never make them again. Inaccountability is precedent. Is ratification of blanket immunity. At this point, the only person punished is the guy who exposed what we did. Ex-CIA officer – and American hero – John Kiriakou pled for 30 months in federal prison.

Good Guy Jon Kiriakou
The report released to the public is a mere 600 pages. But the original report approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2012 was over 6000 pages. And was made from over 6,000,000 CIA documents. (6,6,6. Sometimes it seems they purposely make things sound far-fetched.)

Gory details? Rectal feeding, and rectal rehydration became instant hashtags. Yes. We shoved tubes up our prisoners asses. Some would get rough enemas. Others got food…enemas. We raped men in their asses with as big of hoses as we could find, and shoved food inside to pretend we weren’t simply raping them.

Majid Khan
Majid Khan

Majid Khan was presented a plate of hummus – yes, hummus -, nuts, raisins, and pasta with sauce. Which was pureed and inserted into his anus. He was abused until he had anal fissures, and his rectum was prolapsed.

Abu_Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah

Abu Zubaydah suffers from entomophobia – fear of insects. We put him in a coffin-shaped box filled with bugs. Put one of his eyes out for good measure. Coffins were widely used, as mock executions were commonplace. As were threats of rape and murder against family members. Especially mothers. We put prisoners in ice-water baths. Walling – we would put a collar attached to a chain around the neck of a prisoner, used to repeatedly slam them against the wall. Inverted suspension. Of course, slapping of the face and body. And as a reward for good behavior, we would supply the prisoner a bucket for excrement. Are we not merciful?

sesameThere are lighthearted moments, too. We tortured people with the Sesame Street theme song. The Barney theme song. The Meow Mix jingle. The Bee Gee’s Staying Alive. Rawhide – Rolling, rolling, rolling. Metallica’s Enter Sandman. Eminem’s Kim, and White America. See? Even state-sanctioned torture can be pop-culture relevant. Fun, right?

Even given this report, there is still a lot we don’t know. Some if it is on purpose. Because they don’t want us to know. It’s classified. And some because the CIA isn’t even sure themselves exactly how many people they had in the torture program. At least 119. They lost some detainees. Some mistaken identities. Thus, they can’t even say exactly how many people we accidentally (…) tortured to death. Only that it was at least one.

We stripped Gul Rahman down to just a sweatshirt, and chained him down so that he would be seated on the cold concrete. He died of hypothermia. And he was found to be innocent.

We would chain naked prisoners in stress positions. In standing positions for days at a time. Give IVs and blood-thinners for their swollen legs, and stand them back up again. Abu Hudharfa was forced to stand for 66 consecutive hours. Some were kept awake for days at a time, allowed to sleep for just an hour, and kept awake for days again. That’s where the Sesame Street came in. And buckets full of near-freezing water for extended periods.

ksm
KSM

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was kept awake for seven-and-a-half days straight. He was also waterboaded at least 183 times. As well as the rectal rehydration treatment. He was ran through the gamut of enhanced interrogation tactics. EITs, the new Orwellian term for torture. And yes, that KSM.

Which brings us to the moral of the story. The immorality of torture. It seems a given that torture is wrong. Yet there are many defending it’s use.

We’ve been over this subject in the past. We have the 8th Amendment – no cruel & unusual punishment. The Nuremberg Trials. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992. The Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1994. All of which ban torture altogether. Whether in war time or peace. No matter the threat, nor fear of threat. Torture is illegal in any and all circumstances. Period. (Yet even now, our gov’t says that it might be okay under certain circumstances on foreign soil.)

jack bauerSo why is it even a question? The big hypothetical. The nuclear bomb under Los Angeles, and the prisoner who can tell us where it’s at. We have to be able to torture a single person, if it means saving thousands or millions of American lives. Well, that’s just bull mess. An  action movie fantasy scenario. And that’s not what we did.
We tortured at least 119 people, including many innocents. The Senate report says that at least 26 of the men we tortured were completely innocent. Over one-in-five. We tortured people who we thought were telling the truth, just to make sure. We tortured people before we even asked them anything. We tortured people without even knowing who they were. And it didn’t work. How do we know that it didn’t work?

bin ladenThe CIA gave 20 specific examples of when torture led to actionable intelligence. When it had worked. Each and every one of the 20 claims were found to be false. Yes, including the claim that torture led us to Osama Bin Laden. It did not. Zero Dark Thirty was a lie. The courier who gave up the information, did so before he was tortured. Before he was even transferred into our custody. We tortured him as soon as we got our hands on him anyway. So he stopped cooperating.

Because torture doesn’t work. Torture only causes someone say something. They will say what they think you want to hear. They will say whatever they think they must in order to make the torture stop.

Brennan
Brennan

Even CIA Director John Brennan – while defending the use of torture, and while refusing to rule out more torture – said that what we did was “abhorrent” and a “mistake”. Even admitting that he can’t know if it worked. Unknowable, as he put it.

Well, it is knowable. Torture did not work. Torture does not work. And even if you want to believe that it did – do chemical weapons work? How well do nuclear weapons work? Does a guillotine work? Slaves built the pyramids and the White House. Did slavery work? It certainly got results.

Jessen, 1989
Jessen, 1989

And one last bit. The dual psychologists we hired (Jim Mitchell & Bruce Jessen, $81m) to devise our torture program? They basically copied the tactics used against American POWs in the Korean War. Now, ISIS is using the same tactics against us. ISIS is water-boarding it’s prisoners. Because we did. ISIS is dressing prisoners in orange. Because we do (Guantanamo).

There are consequences for our actions. When we torture people, not only the tortured are injured in the process. Screams in terror. Fluids flowing from various orifices. And not just the tortured. The Senate report tells of interrogators puking, and quitting for the demented & deranged things they had done. What we did. To human fucking beings.

putinWe surrender moral authority when we act like the villains. And the worst of actors get to point at us. Not only for our hypocrisy. Not only for our immorality. But because it gives them the excuse to do wrong, too. Precedent. To do worse. Down, down the spiral of immorality.

The (Other) Ugly Side of Fear-Mongering Ebola/ISIS

10/16/14

 




The summer/fall of 2014 has seen wall to wall pants-shitting over two emergent and omnipresent storylines – ISIS & Ebola. While neither should be ignored, the mass hysteria surrounding each far outweigh either’s respective/relative level of threat.

Ebola has so far killed nearly 5000 people so far this year, the vast majority of which have occurred in Western Africa. A single person has died in the United States. One.

Yet, the American corporate news-media establishment (90% of American media is owned by six corporations) have been going mad fear-mongering Ebola to the American public. To the point that nearly 40% of Americans believe that they or someone they know will catch Ebola in the next year.

Odd, considering the fact that more people die from AIDS worldwide every single day than have died from Ebola this year. Or the fact that roughly one hundred Americans die from the plain old flu every single day.

Five hundred American kids in forty-three states caught Enterovirus D68 this past summer. Four kids died of various causes, and tested positive for the mysterious disease; another who tested positive caught pink-eye and didn’t wake up the next morning. We don’t have a clue how all of these kids are catching it, nor what exactly the symptoms are – some get cold-like symptoms, others get polio-like symptoms. And yet, the corporate media tells me to be afraid (be VERY afraid!) of Ebola.Comcast-Time_Warner_Cable_Logo

There are certainly valid concerns surrounding Ebola. Of primary concern are the people of West Africa. The threat of Ebola to Americans will remain so long as it keeps spreading in Africa, no matter what measures we attempt to put into place here in the US (including counterproductive travel-bans). The biggest immediate threat of Ebola to Americans is the fact that we only have capacity to effectively disinfect the by-products (fluid loss of up to 20 liters per day) of roughly ten Ebola patients. With additional investment in man-hours, we could likely double that. Twenty beds for 300+ million people is certainly not ideal. But rest assured, Nigeria and Senegal have effectively rid themselves of Ebola, it just takes the wherewithal and commitment to studious attention to the individuals at risk until the incubation period (21+ days) has passed. Again – Nigeria and Senegal.
Daash flag

ISIS/Daash? Those people are abhorrent, they are despicable. If the term ’terrorist’ means anything anymore, they are certainly deserving. But Boko Haram are easily as demented. Daash behead people, but our A#1 ally Saudi Arabia beheaded 31 people in August alone. Daash occupy and invade Iraq, we occupied and invaded Iraq. Daash kill civilians & enemies with guns & bombs, we kill civilians & enemies with drones & air-strikes. Daash execute with knives, we execute with needles. They have hostages, we have Guantanamo.

Why are we so afraid? Fear sells, and the corporate news-media has an endless supply on demand. They are the megaphone for their fellow profiteers of fear.

General Smedley Butler
General Smedley Butler

Defense contractors always want more war, war is their raison d’etre. Generals (et al) know they have cushy jobs with defense contractors waiting for them, and they want to please their future bosses. The Pentagon is the hammer who sees everything as a nail, and need to justify the ever-increasing defense budget. Our politicians are already being paid by the defense contractors by way of legal bribery, and have defense-lobbying jobs waiting for them, so they are basically towing the company line. And the election is fast approaching, so anything they can possibly use to point a finger at Obama, goes.eisenhower

War makes money for an elite few. It is the people who suffer.

But why are we so easily moved?

For starters, fear is a rational and necessary feeling. Secondarily, the profit-motives of the elites listed above. And perhaps as disturbing – an ugly amalgamation of nativism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

Ebola is killing Africans, and that’s where black people come from, so it’s easier to fear-monger Ebola in largely-white America. And ISIS/Daash are Muslim, so it’s easier to fear-monger them in largely-Christian America.

It’s disgusting.

Drones: National Security or Domestic Threat?




Meet your new neighbor – the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

7/11/12          Follow @jelleesnacks
MQ9 Reaper
General John Meyer
 “They save lives!” General John Meyer said of drones in 1972.

“The only reason we need (UAVs) is that we don’t want to needlessly expend the man in the cockpit”, explained General George Brown – also in 1972 – the year before public admission of the existence of a drone program in the U.S. military.

In a practical sense, if an aerial vehicle is to be lost, that loss is very much preferable if not accompanied by the loss of an airman in the process.

Thus, drones save lives.

Click HERE for Obama White Papers

Anwar al-Awlaki
Unfortunately though, for a certain 16 year-old born in Denver, Colorado, the inverse turned out to be the case. Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki – American-born citizen – was specifically targeted and killed via drone attack in Yemen apparently for his crime of having radical kinfolk.

White House Secretary Robert Gibbs explained that he should have had a “far more reasonable father“.

“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same,” according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “Citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.” Apparently not.

Attorney General Eric Holder

We learned recently of a so-called kill-list: photos and stats similar to baseball cards of the top 30 al-Qaeda members, and charts resembling year-book pages of the targets and their likely companions. “How old are these people?” Obama is said to have queried, adding “If they are starting to use children, we are moving into a whole different phase.” Indeed.

The POTUS himself reportedly identifies targets to be pursued, and hopefully eliminates any mistakes involved in delegating such responsibility. Added national security advisor Thomas Donilin, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

CIA Director-Nominee John Brennan

According to the CIA, since May 2010, there have been exactly ZERO accidental civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes. This thanks, in no small part, to our policy of posthumously declaring all military-aged males as militants. Which of course, makes it very difficult to appeal those charges.Identity strikes, like those on al-Awlaki, target a specific individual. There may be a certain level of collateral damage, but the attack is focused in it’s intent. The signatures strike, however, is a tactic which identifies targets whom display suspicious behavior. Unfortunately though, traveling in a caravan might look a bit suspicious. Outdoor group activities, especially calisthenics and the occasional wedding party (sadly, it’s happened), might look a bit suspicious.

Hopefully unfounded for the repulsiveness of content, there are now reports (by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism) of strategic double-tap tactics being carried out by UAVs. This double-tap is the second attack, which occurs once the responders arrive on the scene of the initial attack. Also, follow-up attacks of mourners and funeral processions. Hopefully these incidences have been coincidental and not strategic.

In 2009, President Obama’s initial UAV endeavor wound up accidentally killing 19 people with all of five missiles, and all of whom turned out to be civilians. By July 2012 – nearly 300 drone strikes later (after 52 under Bush) – upward of 3000 people, including around 800 civilians, had been killed (BIJ).

The USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance wing flew nearly 3500 drone missions in Vietnam. Today, at least 50 countries worldwide are advancing drone warfare. We enlist Reapers, Predators, Ravens, Shadows, Hawks, and their brethren; which are deployed in Yemen, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan & Afghanistan. The Pentagon currently counts some 7000 UAVs among it’s fleet.

RQ-1A Predator

Collateral Damage & Toxic boots

The use of combat drones allow opportunistic circumvention of the political toxicity surrounding boots-on-the-ground conflict, while further disconnecting the majority of the populace from the 1% representing us overseas in combat. Rather than dealing with the hassle of being open with the public; rather than dealing with the political calculus of gaining Congressional for approval of war; rather than uprooting troops from their families and shipping them off into harm’s way on foreign lands… Instead we can simply deploy an army of flying robots. And the best part? The drone pilot can carry out ordered assassinations, and then go home and play with the kids in the yard. What’s not to love?

RQ-7 Shadow
 Let’s not forget about the money. We can never forget about the money. An RQ-1 Raven has a unit cost of $35,000, with a program cost of $250,000 (GlobalSecurity.org). The MQ9 Reaper has a $36.8 million unit cost and $11.8 billion program cost (Department of Defense). The MQ1Predator is $4million and S2.38 billion (DofD), and the RQ-7 Shadow is $750,000 and $15.5 billion (Aeroweb).

Drones are relatively inexpensive compared to the B-2 Spirit, with a $1.07 billion unit cost and a whopping $44.75 billion program cost (or $2.1 billion apiece) through 2004 (US General Accounting Office). Or the F-22 Raptor with a $150 million unit cost and $66.7 billion program cost (USAF). In other words, the price tag on a single B-2 bomber equals the cost of 65 of even the most expensive drone unit.

A160 Hummingbird

Eastern Gateway Community College?

As the war in Afghanistan inevitably winds to a close, domestic drone use is on the verge of an explosion. The Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act (2012) welcomes commercial drones onto the scene, as the FAA projects 30,000 domestic drones and has reportedly approved 82 drone models (including nano/hummingbird drones) and issued 285 licenses while streamlining the process. Mostly utilized as Patriot Act surveillance apparatus, Seattle PD, WSDOT, & Eastern Gateway Community College (?) are all “permitted drone operators.” A Reaper MQ-9 drone recently assisted North Dakota sheriffs in apprehending suspected cattle-rustlers.

MQ-1C Warrior

Imagine, if you will, a future in which patrolling UAVs are so commonplace as to become unnoticed. Or quiet enough to go largely unheard, and small enough to remain largely unseen. Thirty-thousand approved drones potentially patrolling the country-side. What happens when Wal-Mart’s seemingly inevitable drone fleet (I’m kidding) falls prey to cyber-terrorists? What about a single drone armed with chemical weapons?

Curtiss N2C-2

An airliner was not generally seen as a potential form of munitions until 9/11.

So yes, it’s a nuanced issue – what determines the palatability are not the drones themselves, but the manner in which drones are used. Are drones programmed with Geneva Convention rules acceptable? Would we rather have tens of thousands of boots on the ground in Yemen and Pakistan? I get that. But the drone program further separates the public from sacrifice of battle. And by incessantly reigning down death from the sky upon civilians, we just create more and more backlash in the form of terrorism.

OQ-2A

There is a compromise to be made here, by much more intelligent folks than myself, and it lies somewhere between the need of surveillance for public safety, and the privacy concerns of individual citizens.

Two BQM-34 Firebees

Can we have this conversation please?

RQ1 Predator sensor operator’s chair

Obama’s War With ISIS




10/1/14         Daash flag
War. Again.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Two American journalists were beheaded, so President Obama took to the Cross Hall of the White House to declare that the US would ’degrade and destroy’ ISIL. ISIS. IS. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the ‘caliph’ of DAASH (Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham), so that‘s what we‘ll call them. Google it.
Daash are despicable. They’ve beheaded journalists and aid workers. They’ve enslaved hundreds (at least) of women and sold them into slavery/forced marriages. They’ve shot rows of blindfolded, kneeling men in it the back of their heads, filling mass graves along their way. They kill Christians, they kill Yazidi, they kill Shia. Their message is: convert, or die.

Yazidi refugees
Yazidi refugees

So, what do they want, how did we get here, and what should we do? Luckily, I have answers.
First, we need to know what Daash wants – they’re aim is to unite under a single political border, all majority-Muslim areas of the world, to be ruled by their religious leader.
To that end, they want to bait the West into more war on the ground in more Arab countries, in an effort to unite the Muslim world against the West in a world-wide religious holy war.

caliphatereach

What makes them think that this is a reasonable goal to be attained?
The Prophet Muhammad ruled the first Islamic caliphate (state led by religious leader) for 10 years before dying in 632. They were of course in need of a successor (caliph). Some (Shia) wanted a blood-line caliph (Ali, cousin/son-in-law), while others (Sunni) believed that the Prophet had personally appointed his close companion, Abu Bakr. Hence the Sunnia-Shia divide.

daashcontrolled

By 750, the caliphate grew to include basically the entire Middle East – as far as modern-day Pakistan to the east; Syria, Iraq, much of Turkey to the north; and all of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman to the south – and west to include the entire southern coast of the Mediterranean (Egypt, Libya, Algeria…), even Spain.
What got us to this point?
Well, it goes back to the post-WWI, Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916. Westerners (Britain and France specifically) ignored all religious, ethnic, and tribal borders – and scratched out their own Middle Eastern borders, likely (kidding) on the back of a napkin over a cup of Starbucks…

iran pm
Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq

Of course, this only served to push local tensions to the fore. By 1949, the US had little choice (…) but to force regime change in Syria. A few years later, Iran’s democratically elected leader was ousted via coup d’etat, again pushed by the US (CIA specifically, and admittedly).
The Iraq-Iran War began in 1980. President Reagan decided that Saddam Hussein was the more preferable/moderate option, so he had Iraq removed from the ’State Sponsors of Terrorism’ list, and sent Rumsfeld over to shake Saddam’s hand and reaffirm US intelligence and material support for Iraq. In the process, Reagan illegally traded weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages (Iran Contra).rummy sadaam
The month the Iraq-Iran cease-fire was signed (Aug ‘88), our main man Saddam turned the chemical weapons he had used to defeat the Iranians, toward ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq. Two years later, he invaded Kuwait. At that point, we realized that the guy we thought was cool so we helped him, wasn’t so cool so we had to drop some bombs on his head.
Oops.

mujahideen
While the Iraq-Iran War was being waged, Russia was fighting jihadis in Afghanistan (1979-1989). You know – enemy of your enemy. So, we (US) launched Operation Cyclone, and armed the Mujahideen. It worked in the short-term, Russia was bled financially, which led Gorbachev to seek the end of the Cold War with the US. Success!911
Until 9/11.osama
Nineteen Saudi hijackers, plotted out in Germany. So of course, President George W. Bush lied (well, Halliburton gave Cheney a $34 million exit bonus quid, so he lied to Dubya), and we went to decade-plus wars in both Iraq & Afghanistan (whilst Halliburton made a $40 billion quo). Not Saudi Arabia, where the attackers were actually from, but Iraq & Afghanistan. Bin Ladin? Bin Ladin was Saudi, was funded by Saudis, and was captured in Afghanistan by JSOC via Seal Team Six. Not by declared war or 100k boots-on-the-ground, but by intelligence and special forces.

sadaamspiderhole
Our main man from the 1980’s, Saddam, wound up being decapitated by way of hanging at the hands of his own people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in the process of deposing him. Eventually, Iraqis decided it was time for us to leave, so they refused to allow our military personnel legal amnesty for their actions. Dubya had little choice, and agreed to pull out. Obama was elected, and had little choice but to follow through with Dubya’s forcedwithdrawal. Luckily, we spent 7 years training and arming Iraqi gov’t forces…

Al-Maliki
Al-Maliki

Our new main man in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, took over in 2006. His predecessor, Saddam, was Sunni, and ruled with an iron fist. Al-Maliki is Shia, and when forming his gov’t, chose not to include Sunni representation, but to simply turn the tables. The entire country was torn asunder. And we were the instigators.

missionaccomplished
The most vile of these groups has apparently turned out to be Daash, excommunicated from al-Qaeda, the previous ‘worst guys on the planet‘ . How have Daash risen above the rest, at least in the minds of the West? (I’ll take this time to note Boko Haram.)
Well, Daash are good at social media. They’ve adopted some Capone or Pablo-esque tactics – they publicly do nice things for folks in order to curry local favor, and to distract from their blatant abhorrence and brutality.assas
Meanwhile in Syria, ongoing civil war has seen the deaths of hundreds of thousands, as President Bashar al-Assad has unleashed chemical weapons on his own people (sound familiar?). Just one year ago, Obama was calling for the ouster of Assad, and calling on Congress to let him drop some good-ole American freedom-bombs on Assad’s head. Congress said no, so we worked with Russia, and confiscated/disposed of Assad’s chemical weapons cache.
Success!
As per usual, US success in the Middle East could only be short-lived. Given the power vacuum in Iraq, and the rise of rebels in Syria, numerous militant/rebel groups have risen like phoenix from the ashes.
Most importantly, they’ve taken oil fields. Ah yes, Texas tea. Daash is making $2-3m/day off of stolen oil. Given Daash’ income, they can afford to pay tens of thousands of mercenaries to join their cause. And of course, winning breeds band-wagon support (there‘ve been reports of ‘Islam for Dummies‘ being shipped by Amazon to Daash recruits en route). Daash’ social media aptitude also includes video of beheadings and mass killings.
These public displays of brutality have dissuaded the Iraqi (Shia) gov’t forces – which, again, the US spent 7 years training and arming – from risking their literal necks to defend Sunni territory in Iraq. Thus, Iraqi gov’t forces have simply dropped their (made in the US) equipment and tucked tail, rather than defend people they don‘t particularly care for.
Here inlies one of our bigger problems – Iraq is really three countries in one.

iraqethnoreligious
Sunni=Orange, Shia=Green, Kurd=Peach

Ethnic Kurds are the majority in northern/northeastern Iraq, bordering Turkey and Iran. Shia are the majority in eastern Iraq, along the Iranian border and south to the Persian Gulf. Sunni control the majority of Iraq, including the entire western and southern regions.
Biggest problem with a three-state solution? Iraq is largely land-locked, with a scant 36 mile coastline along the Persian Gulf. This renders control of the sister oil terminals of Al Basrah & Khor al-Amaya a matter of great import. The Kurds would certainly be land-locked, and the Sunni & Shia could conceivably fight ad infinitum over control over the all-important port cities. Sunni and Shia have never been in agreement, and aren’t likely to be. But as they say – you can disagree without being disagreeable.
So how can there be peace?syriaair
We can be certain of a few things: the US/West dropping freedom-bombs on Middle Eastern heads, and the US/West placing our thumbs on the scales where political rule is concerned, does not produce desired results. We overthrow democratically elected rulers, it turns out poorly. We defend brutal dictators, it turns out poorly. We prop up strong-men, it turns out poorly. We arm the rebels, it turns out poorly. We assist the supposed moderates, it turns out poorly.syriaair2
We need to stop.
Since we have a lot to do with the current situation, it could be argued that we cannot simply wash our hands of it. And of course, the world is dependant upon their oil. The solution to that problem is the same as before, we need to stop. Unfortunately, moving away from oil-guzzling autos and single-use plastics, and toward renewables & advanced energy storage/portability are not exactly short-term propositions.
Moreover, Daash itself is a symptom. Daash could be wiped off the face of the planet, but another worst of the worst would simply take it’s place. Employment is low, poverty is high, and foreigners have been occupying their land for over a decade.
So what do we do now?

malala2
There is a possible ‘wash our hands’ solution. Daash could have their own Islamic State (apart from Kurdistan and say, Shiastan or what-have-you). Just because Daash is good at beheadings and social media, does not mean that they are capable of governing. Governing requires roads and schools and assisting the poor, elderly, & disabled. Daash forbids soccer and music, movies and dancing – all are distractions from faith. If allowed to govern, Daash would collapse under their own weight.
Of course, there is still the matter of the 40-odd journalists/aide workers held by Daash. Personally, I don’t think 40 hostages demand a full-fledged war. But simply wishing that the Kurdish Pershmerga, the Free Syrian Army, and the Iraqi gov’t forces are capable of taking back Mosul, Tikrit, Fallujah, Raqqa, et al does not make it so.
So how do we get them back? By currying support among Arab nations.opec
Daash has a hit list. It includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE. We need Egypt, whom we give $1.5b/year in aid, to step up. We need Qatar, with their vast wealth (natural gas), to stop funding terrorists and get on the right side here. Same goes for Kuwait. Most importantly, we need our A#1 ally, Saudi Arabia, to get right. Not only have they funded extremists, possibly including Daash specifically, but the Saudi gov’t beheaded 31 people in August alone! (Cut to Rick Perry sighing with envy…)
Arab states must figure out how to stand up for themselves. If they require air-support, let them (plural, not just Iraq) ask for it explicitly before we go jumping in head-first to yet another perfectly avoidable, decade-plus debacle that we cannot afford.qatar

Obama’s ISIS Gamble





In the summer of 2014, a group known as ISIS was reported to have acquired, either by force or payment, roughly forty Western journalists & aid workers.
Daash flag ISIS (Daash, Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham) was also reported to be threatening genocide against a group known as the Yazidi. Daash believed the Yazidi to be devil worshippers, and were forcing them to convert or die. Tens of thousands of Yazidi fled atop Mount Sinjar, and were dying from lack of sustenance.

Yazidi refugees
Yazidi refugees

And whom emerged from the sky to answer the prayers of the Yazidi? Good ole Uncle Sam, that’s who. Uncle Sam came to air-drop aid for a dying people. Unfortunately, food and water didn’t change their being trapped on a mountain, with certain death lurking below. So, President Obama announced that the US would begin air attacks on the Daash fighters at the foot of the mountain, so that the Yazidi could flee to safety in neighboring Syria.
And that, folks, is what it means to be a superpower. This is what superiority is supposed to look like.

Alas, Obama thwarted any goodwill earned by helping the Yazidi, by using their plight as cover for his broader mission. In the very same speech Obama said ‘America is coming to help’ the Yazidi, he also announced that the US would be launching additional strikes against Daash apart from the mission to save the Yazidi.
We attacked them. Not just to save the Yazidi, we attacked them under the guise of helping the Yazidi. They were but a pawn.
In response, American journalist James Foley was executed. Daash wanted a $132 million ransom for Foley. The US does not negotiate with terrorists*, and the Foley family was advised that paying ransom equates to funding terrorism. So he was beheaded, and the US was warned that there would be further beheadings should the US continue air strikes against them. Which we did. And they did. Steven Sotloff was beheaded next.
At which point, the US media went into a state of hysteria from which they‘ve yet to escape.

Fear sells. War sells. War equals ratings. Ratings equal ad revenue. US media, from television networks and newspapers, from movie studios to books and magazines – it’s all owned by six mega-media conglomerates. And they’re hungry. They get fed when we get scared. And boy are we good at being scared. (We have an entire political party in this country that is based upon a perpetual state of fear.)
So, on September 10th, 2014, Obama gave address which had the distinct look and feel of a war declaration. We would be launching attacks against Daash, in an effort to ‘degrade and destroy’ them. However, he also assured us that Daash posed no imminent threat, and that there would be no boots-on-the-ground.

Why the obfuscation? (Obamafuscation?) As a constitutional scholar, Obama was well aware that an official declaration of war would put him on the clock. The War Powers Act authorizes the executive to deploy military force on an emergency basis, but demands the Congress formally & affirmatively approve and deployment beyond 60 days. Sixty days from September 10th is roughly a week after the midterm elections.
Obama doesn’t want to be on that clock. He was turned down last time he asked Congress for permission to go into Syria. Not all Congressfolk are nincompoops, some of them remember that Hillary lost to Obama because of how she voted on Iraq.

Hillary Clinton & Lindsey Graham, Hawks of a Feather
Boehner

Speaker Boehner has said that the House doesn’t plan to vote until next year. In fact, Boehner called upon Obama to call upon Boehner to call for a vote. Leader Reid neither seems to have any inclination to hold a vote any time soon. Those 60 days will be long-passed come 2015.
What’s a president to do? Lie and obfuscate.
There’s no immediate threat, and there won’t be ground troops. We’re going to war, but not call it war.
For two days. Day-and-a-half. On September 12, White House surrogates were sat in front of cameras and microphones to drone on the brand new talking point: We’re at war with ISIL, in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda? The president said ISIL. Apparently, Obama and his legal team have determined that the 2001,3 Authorization(s) for Use of Military Force in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, were broad enough to authorize force in Syria over a decade later. Oh by the way, the same AUMF this same President said just last year should be repealed. Funny that.
And more importantly, since when do underlings get to declare war? Especially against a group that the president himself poses no immediate threat to the homeland?
Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head about the Constitution. There was yet another twist: Khorasan. Dun-dun-dun.

Al-Qaeda

A group which no one had ever heard of. A group which no one in Syria had ever heard of. Khorasan was the new worst of the worst. Even more worse that the other worst of the worst: ISIS. Which was even worse than the previous worst of the worst: Al-Qaeda.
Khorasan was supposedly an elite offshoot whom were plotting an imminent attack on the homeland.
Of course they were. Hindquarters legally covered.

Muhsin al-Fadhli

Then miraculously, the leader of Khorasan was killed seemingly the next day. Threat averted. Phew, that was a close one. Thanks Obama!
In the weeks following, we learned that Khorasan is an ancient term, which US intelligence used generically. We also heard that if there was an actual Khorasan group, their threat was simply aspirational, they had no imminent plans on the homeland. Other reports told of a rogue French agent, whose name was found on a list of 13 individuals, under the heading of Khorasan. Regardless, either the bad, bad boogeymen simply didn’t like us, or a single rogue agent was on the loose, hence legal basis for war in Syria. See how that works?
Maybe Obama doesn’t care about traveling to Switzerland, but he needs to be concerned about his job security.

The ICC

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) lost his primary. He won’t be returning to Congress in 2015. He can finally afford to tell the truth.
“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later.’ It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”
Hear that Obama?
Those 60 days will pass. The election will pass. More specifically, those 60 days will be up a week after the mid-term elections. Those in the know expect Mitch McConnell will be Majority Leader come January. Sending us to war on shaky legal grounds, with the prospect of the GOP controlling both the Upper and Lower Chambers in a few months? The moment anything goes awry in Syria, the Republicans will pounce. Democrats will want Hillary to come fund-raise for them on the campaign trail, and Hillary will be running against Obama nearly as much as against the republican nominee. The democrats won’t save him.
Obama is playing a dangerous game.