Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Tuesday Afternoon Links

  • Careful driving is not probable cause for the police to search your car.  At this point, I’m pretty sure you can probably count on one hand the activities that are not probably cause for a search.
  • If you work at a company that provides free lunch, like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, the IRS wants to tax it as income.
  • RTP, Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello.  This is a personal tragedy for most guys om their 60s and 70s.

Afternoon links

The U.S. considers sanctions against Pakistan over a $7B “peace pipeline” deal with Iran.  Such a deal threatens U.S. efforts to bring Iran to its knees for failing to prove that it is not manufacturing nuclear WMDs in a repeat of the same strategy used to start a war with Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.  Wait a sec.  Aren’t they already a nuclear state?  Surely the recent U.S. strategy of flying strategic war planes around over the peninsula will calm things down.

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man who stabbed his best friend ten years ago, paralyzing him, to be paralyzed himself if he can’t come up with $266,000 in compensation for his victim.

What happens to persecutors who abuse their trust and destroy people’s lives?  Nothing.

From  A Texas state trooper charged with sexually assaulting two women during a traffic stop was providing them with “customer service,” says Dale Roberts, the executive director of the Columbia Police Officers Association (CPOA) and a professor at the University of Missouri. (The CPOA is a part of the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the country’s largest police unions.)

Monday Morning Links

Bailout agreement for Cyprus will close their largest bank and seize deposits greater than €100,000.  Without the bailout it might have been the first country forced out of the Eurozone.  No one wants to be first, you know.

The good news is the Dow Jones is back to what it was before the financial crisis.  The bad news is that the value of the dollar relative to gold has fallen faster than the improvement in the Dow.

While the U.S. government looks for ways to restrict gun ownership in “the land of the free”, the CIA is busy shipping thousands of tons of military equipment to rebels in Syria.  Because the U.S. unequivocally supports the right of people to rebel against tyranny (except in cases where the tyrants are friendly to the U.S.).

The military is asking Congress for money to expand the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  The want $50M for a new building to house special prisoners.  This would bring the total bill for upgrading the prison to $195M.

So much for Colorado’s plan to treat marijuana like alcohol.  And that’s not to suggest that alcohol regulation is exactly a great example of government restraint.  The real mistake was letting government think it had the power to control either one.


The costs of war don’t end when the war ends.  We’re still paying beneficiaries from 19th century wars and billions for 20th century wars.  And the costs of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are rising.


I just finished watching the Oscar winning film Argo.  I gave it five out of five stars on Netflix because it was a great movie if you leave aside the fact that it, like most Hollywood films that are “based on a true story”, contained massive amounts of bullshit.

As Andrew O’Hehir wrote in Salon:

The Americans never resisted the idea of playing a film crew, which is the source of much agitation in the movie. (In fact, the “house guests” chose that cover story themselves, from a group of three options the CIA had prepared.) They were not almost lynched by a mob of crazy Iranians in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, because they never went there. There was no last-minute cancellation, and then un-cancellation, of the group’s tickets by the Carter administration. (The wife of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor had personally gone to the airport and purchased tickets ahead of time, for three different outbound flights.) The group underwent no interrogation at the airport about their imaginary movie, nor were they detained at the gate while a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard telephoned their phony office back in Burbank. There was no last-second chase on the runway of Mehrabad Airport, with wild-eyed, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs trying to shoot out the tires of a Swissair jet.

That seems to constitute a pretty complete list of every suspenseful scene in the movie.  And, from Nima Shirazi in Policymic:

One of the actual diplomats, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie “cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.” The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful.  “If asked, we were going to say we were leaving Iran to return when it was safer,” Lijek recalled, “But no one ever asked!…The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Berne. It was that straightforward.”

Furthermore, Jimmy Carter has even acknowledged that “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian [while] the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA…Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only in Tehran a day and a half and the real hero in my opinion was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”

At the end of the movie, there’s a statement that says that Tony Mendez was chosen as one of the CIA’s top fifty most important operatives.  It didn’t say whether that list also included any of the CIA agents who helped engineer the coup that ousted Iran’s democratically elected prime minister and restored to power U.S. puppet, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a corrupt brutal tyrant ultimately culminating in an intense hatred by Iranians of the U.S. (especially the CIA).  Nope.  Nothing was said about those CIA operatives.  Nothing was said about how the CIA sent U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. (father of the well known Desert Storm commander) to train the Shah’s security forces that would become the dreaded Gestapo-like organization known as SAVAK.

I guess they just didn’t have enough space between the fabricated dramatic scenes to fit any of those details in there.

Slate has a great article written by Mark Lijek, one of the six rescued diplomats, about the real life events.

Afternoon Links

  • Fifth Circuit rules that Benedictine monks can make and sell low cost caskets in Louisiana referring to the regulation as “nonsensical”.  Up to now, state law forbade anyone except state license funeral homes from selling caskets.  You know, to protect the people.  Such a law would instantly be recognized as sleazy political corruption by anywhere except in “the land of the free”.
  • No charges will be filed against a New Jersey man who posted a picture on Facebook of his son holding “what appeared to be a military-style rifle”.  From what I’ve heard through various news sources, it’s pretty obvious the cops, acting on an anonymous tip called into a child abuse hotline, used intimidation tactics to try and get permission to search the house and record the serial numbers of his weapons.  Well, you know, anything to protect the children…
  • Kill Anything that Moves is the name of a new book about Vietnam that I just added to my Amazon wish list.  The reason you have to read numerous books about war is no other governmental activity generates so much official and mainstream media bullshit.  We will never hear the story of what the U.S. really did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Mali, or Syria until everyone who played a role in it is dead.  By then  most of us will also be dead.
  • The “Rise of the naked female warriors“.  I wish two things.  First that they had a position I believed in and second that they weren’t always protesting in places so far from where I live.  They clearly favor using nudity and sex as a means to get attention.  But, they oppose women using nudity and sex to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.  The same story in U.S. media outlets would, of course, be edited to satisfy those who vociferously claim to be offended by nudity in order to make sure no one else can see it.
  • Obama declares that the oxymoron, Mideast Peace, is not an oxymoron just as every U.S. president since WWII has done.  Peace will remain perpetually unlikely as long as neither the Palestinian nor Israeli (or U.S.) governments would benefit from it.  Obama supports a two-state solution which is exactly one state beyond what the Israeli government is willing to agree to.

Morning Links

Obama is worse for press freedom than Nixon says Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale.

The next country on the NATO target list is apparently Syria.  Pretty soon it will be easier to count the middle east countries that the west hasn’t attacked than the ones they have.

And if Syria weren’t enough to keep the war industry going, Obama is also going to be discussing the fate of Iran on his visit to Israel, where some officials in the U.S protectorate believe Obama has been dragging his feet on attacking Iran.  While Obama has clearly been pursuing a strategy to justify a war with Iran nearly identical to the Bush administration’s lead-up to the Iraq invasion, it has not yet culminated in an actual war as powerful Israeli political powers have wanted.

Mainstream press outlet, UPI, reports that  : The Iraq War killed 190,000 people, 70 percent civilians and 4,488 U.S. service members and will cost the U.S. taxpayer $2.2 trillion, U.S. researchers say.  But, a respectable 2006 study claimed death toll of 650,000 and there have been many more since then.  And this article says the dollar cost could total $6T.

Maryland Senate votes to decriminalize small amounts of pot and the House is also expected to pass it.  The federal government, corrupt as ever, remains under the control of the beneficiaries of the drug war.

Fifteen benefits of the drug war.  Not for you.  For the government.

Transportation Security Administration inspectors forced a wounded [active duty] Marine who lost both of his legs in an IED blast and who was in a wheelchair to remove his prosthetic legs at one point, and at another point to stand painfully on his legs while his wheelchair was examined, according to a complaint a congressman has registered with the TSA.  Nice work, TSA.

Know your rights at increasingly common U.S. police state checkpoints.

Tell your dog, Rover, to start saving more for his health care.  Obama care is expected to hit veterinarians by forcing them to pay an excise tax on any equipment that can also be used for human care.

Whose drones are whose?

According to the New York Times, recent drone attacks in Pakistan are being disavowed by the CIA.

“They were not ours,” said one of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the drone program’s secrecy. “We haven’t had any kinetic activity since January.”

Sounds like another case of leaks of classified information that will never be prosecuted because they serve the government’s purposes.

What exactly took place in those remote tribal villages, far from outside scrutiny, is unclear. But the Americans’ best guess is that one or possibly both of the strikes were carried out by the Pakistani military and falsely attributed to the C.I.A. to avoid criticism from the Pakistani public.

If the American version is true, it is a striking irony: In the early years of the drone campaign, the Pakistani Army falsely claimed responsibility for American drone strikes in an attempt to mask C.I.A. activities on its soil. Now, the Americans suggest, the Pakistani military may be using the same program to disguise its own operations.

So, let me get this straight.  The Pakistanis  say the CIA did it, but they used to cover for the secret CIA attacks.  But now we’re supposed to believe the CIA when they say they didn’t do it.  The article then goes on to explain the difficulty in getting any accurate information out of the area because foreign reporters are barred from the area and local reporters are subject to pressures from powerful local influences.  And it’s not like the U.S. government has established any credibility when it comes to telling the truth about…  anything.

If one thing is clear about the drones, it is that all sides — Pakistanis, Americans and the Taliban — have an interest in manipulating reports about their impact.

I’m sure Pakistanis all realize that American drone attacks are for their own good.  They should consider it an honor to have American bombs falling on them.  It’s not like the U.S. just bombs anyone, you know.  Well, okay, that last part isn’t true.

Viewed from Washington, a handful of erroneously reported strikes may seem inconsequential. According to most estimates, the C.I.A. has carried out about 330 drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt since 2004, the vast majority of them in the past five years.

Yet in Pakistan, they carry greater significance, igniting huge and sometimes violent anti-American demonstration that make drones a toxic subject for generals and politicians alike. But the American claims about the two attacks this month suggest that they may, also, be trying to have the best of both worlds.

It certainly is a great government in Pakistan, one of our great allies in the war on terror, that agrees to let the U.S. routinely bomb their citizens.

This all seems so distant, of course.Pakistan is half way around the world.  Who cares what happens there?  And it’s not like that kind of militaristic, drone-dominated environment will ever come to “the land of the free”. Right?



Out of control government secrecy is why we need more Bradley Mannings

Glenn Greenwald has a great reaction to Manning’s appearance yesterday:

Heroism is a slippery and ambiguous concept. But whatever it means, it is embodied by Bradley Manning and the acts which he unflinchingly acknowledged today he chose to undertake. The combination of extreme government secrecy, a supine media (see the prior twocolumns), and a disgracefully subservient judiciary means that the only way we really learn about what our government does is when the Daniel Ellsbergs – and Bradley Mannings – of the world risk their own personal interest and liberty to alert us.

Lincoln’s oft quoted words, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” are nothing more than a meaningless arrangement of letters in a state where the government hides behind an impenetrable iron curtain of secrecy.   The U.S. government has a long history of secrecy, deceit, and intolerance of whistle-blowers, but 9/11 provided the excuse it needed to expand that methodology to the point where the U.S. can no longer be readily distinguished from the totalitarian police states erected under communism and fascism.

Today, U.S. government secrecy has little to do with national security and everything to do with shielding its actions from oversight or Constitutional challenge and avoiding embarrassing exposure of its brutality, corruption, and incompetence.

The U.S. government now routinely terrorizes the innocent people of other countries by killing them, imposing crippling sanctions on their already suffering economies, inciting civil war among them and hatred toward the U.S., interfering in their politics, supporting their corrupt despotic heads of state, over-throwing their government leaders (elected or not), provoking them into war, or sometimes simply by backing other nations that do these same things. And it does most of this in secret and it does all of it in the name of the American people, in your name.

Of course, after the next devastating terrorist attack, Americans will be told that some evil immoral enemy has attacked us through no fault of our own.  The dead will be declared innocent victims as we immediately acquiesce to new wars and further erosion of what freedom we have left.  Then the following November we will run to the polls and happily reelect all the same people who brought this down on us.

The fact is that Bradley Manning did more to hold our government accountable than any politician ever elected to Congress or the White House.  A government that shrouds itself in secrecy is not, and never will be, a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people“.  Manning is not the poison.  He’s part of the antidote because he courageously pushed back against that secrecy and will pay for it for the rest of his life.  The other part of the antidote is us.  All we need to do is go to the polls and throw out the self-serving politicians of both parties in Washington who perpetuate this secrecy and the corruption that it conceals.  It’s easy to do and won’t cost us a thing.  If we don’t, we will simply get what we deserve.

Resolution would allow Israel to commit U.S. to war

According to this story in the HuffPo, a group of U.S. Senators wants to pass a resolution in support of Israel.

The United States would back Israel militarily if the Mideast ally were to attack Iran in self-defense, a bipartisan group of senators said Thursday in introducing a forceful resolution.

This fits right in with the new definition of self-defense which now includes attacking another country because you think they might attack you or might have the capability of attacking you sometime in the future.

“No one wants another conflict anywhere in the world militarily, but we also don’t want a nuclear-capable Iran,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a news conference.

A pretty good case can be made that the government of any country that is as much under military threat from the U.S. and Israel as Iran is, would be derelict if it weren’t pursuing nuclear weapons.

The rest of the quotes in the article are essentially politicians swearing that this is not a blank check to Israel, even though that’s what it amounts to.  Of course, U.S. foreign policy has, for decades, put U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic power behind Israel.

The group hopes to pass the resolution before President Barack Obama’s expected trip to Israel in March.

As the Times of Israel has already reported, Obama is expected to commit U.S. lives and treasure to stop Iran’s nuclear program if Israel promises to sit it out.

U.S. to strike Iran in June as Israel sits it out?

That seems to be the message that Obama will deliver to Netanyahu when he visits Israel next month according to the Times of Israel:

hen he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.

So much for the idea that the U.S. and Israel are allies rather than Israel being nothing more than a protectorate of the U.S.

In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out.

Well, John, what’s America’s position on Israel having nuclear weapons?  Oh, that’s right. Israel is our friend, so the rules are different for them.  And since when is diplomacy equal to threatening a country with military attack if they don’t surrender their sovereign right to  arm themselves against other nuclear powers like say, Israel?

There is no moral high ground in the U.S position on Iran.  It is simply a case of a super power imposing its will on another country by force in response to the demands of a powerful lobby.  And you can’t expect a government with the biggest military on the planet no to use it.  And our military is so large, our government uses it often.

The strategy being used against Iran is identical to the strategy that led to the invasion of Iraq and just as transparent.  Make impossible demands on the target country and, when they can’t comply, attack.  Iraq was invaded because they couldn’t prove they had no WMD.  They couldn’t prove a negative.  The outcome of such a strategy is inevitable which is exactly why it was used.