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The United States national election is now only three months away and it should be expected that the out-and-out lies emanating from both parties will increase geometrically as the polling date nears. One of the more interesting claims regarding the election itself is the White House assertion that large scale voting by mail will permit fraud, so much so that the result of the voting will be unreliable or challenged. To be sure, it is not as if voter fraud is unknown in the United States. The victory of John F. Kennedy 1960 presidential election has often been credited to all the graveyards in Mayor Richard Daley’s Chicago voting to swing Illinois into the Democratic camp.

The Democrats are insisting that voting by mail is perfectly safe and reliable, witness the use of absentee ballots for many years. The assertions by Democratic Party-affiliated voting officials in several states and also from friends on the federal level have been played in the media to confirm that fraud in elections has been insignificant recently. That may be true, up until now.

The Democrats, of course, have an agenda. For reasons that are not altogether clear, they believe that voting by mail would benefit them primarily, so they are pushing hard for their supporters to register in their respective states and cast their ballots at the local mail box. Nevertheless, there should be some skepticism whenever a major American political party wants something. In this case, the Democrats are likely assuming that people at lower income levels who will most likely vote for them cannot be bothered to register and vote if it requires actually going somewhere to do it. They have spoken of “expansion of voting,” presumably to their benefit. The mail is a much easier option.

A Fox News host has rejected the impelling logic behind the mail option, saying “Can’t we just have this one moment to vote for one candidate every four years, and show up and put a ballot in without licking an envelope or pressing on a stamp? If you can shop for food, if you can buy liquor, you can vote once every four years.”

The fundamental problem with the arguments coming from both sides is that there is no national system in the United States for registering and voting. Elections are run at state level and the individual states have their own procedures. The actual ballots also differ from voting district to voting district. To determine what safeguards are actually built into the system is difficult as how electoral offices actually function is considered sensitive information by many, precisely because it might reveal vulnerabilities in the process.

To determine how one might actually vote illegally, I reviewed the process required for registering and voting by mail in my own state of Virginia. In Virginia one can both register and vote without any human contact at all. The registration process can be accomplished by filling out an online form, which is linked here. Note particularly the following: the form requires one to check the box indicating U.S. citizenship. It then asks for name and address as well as social security number, date of birth and whether one has a criminal record or is otherwise disqualified to vote. You then have to sign and date the document and mail it off. Within ten days, you should receive a voter’s registration card for Virginia which you can present if you vote in person, though even that is not required.

But also note the following: no documents have to presented to support the application, which means that all the information can be false. You can even opt out of providing a social security number by indicating that you have never been issued one, even though the form indicates that you must have one to be registered, and you can also submit a temporary address by claiming you are “homeless.” Even date of birth information is useless as the form does not ask where you were born, which is how birth records are filed by state and local governments. Ultimately, it is only the social security number that validates the document and that is what also appears on the Voter’s ID Card, but even that can be false or completely fabricated, as many illegal immigrant workers in the U.S. have discovered.

In a state like Virginia, the actual mail-in ballot requires your signature and that of a witness, who can be anyone. That is also true in six other states. Thirty-one states only require your own signature while only three states require that the document be notarized, a good safeguard since it requires the voter to actually produce some documentation. Seven states require your additional signature on the ballot envelope and two states require that a photocopy of the voter ID accompany the ballot. In other words, the safeguards in the system vary from state to state but in most cases, fraud would be relatively easy.

And then there is the issue of how the election commissions in the states will be overwhelmed by tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that they might be receiving in November. That overload would minimize whatever manual checking of names, addresses and social security numbers might otherwise take place. Jim Bovard has speculated how “The American political system may be on the eve of its worst legitimacy crisis since the Civil War. Early warning signals indicate that many states could suffer catastrophic failures in counting votes in November… Because of the pandemic, many states are switching primarily to mail-in voting even though experiences with recent primaries were a disaster. In New York City, officials are still struggling to count mail-in ballots from the June primary. Up to 20% of ballots ‘were declared invalid before even being opened, based on mistakes with their exterior envelopes,’ the Washington Post noted, thanks largely to missing postmarks or signatures. In Wisconsin, more than 20,000 ‘primary ballots were thrown out because voters missed at least one line on the form, rendering them invalid.’ Some states are mailing ballots to all the names on the voting lists, providing thousands of dead people the chance to vote from the grave.”

Add into the witch’s cauldron the continued use of easily hacked antiquated voting machines as well as confusing ballots in many districts, and the question of whether an election can even be run with expectations of a credible result becomes paramount. President Trump has several times claimed that the expected surge in mail-in voting could result in “the most corrupt vote in our nation’s history.” Trump is often wrong when he speaks or tweets spontaneously, but this time he just might be right.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2020 Election, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Voter fraud 
Few want to return to Obama or Clinton
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Donald Trump might be described as unique as a president of the United States in that he constantly impulsively self-promotes in a bizarre fashion which the Independent has described as “wild days of authoritarian and incoherent outbursts.” But normally politicians are canny enough to steal and connive out of sight without letting on what they are doing or thinking. Given that, you know you are in deep trouble as a nation when a major political party is so tone deaf as to persist in introducing spokesmen who suffer from serious negative perceptions to boost the chances of their current candidates for office. That is precisely what the Democratic Party has been doing when it keeps employing the Obamas and Clintons to promote the Democratic National Committee platform and its candidates for the November elections while also supporting the campaign of Honest Joe Biden.

Reminding the national electorate of the legacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama guarantees that voters normally inclined to vote Republican or even independent will be energized and turn out in large numbers in spite of their disdain for Trump’s style. Hillary, after all, should still be in jail for her mishandling of classified information while Barack ought to be in prison for life for having given the orders to assassinate American citizens without due process while also using the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to undermine the Donald Trump campaign. Hillary and Barack were also complicit in unnecessary wars against Libya and Syria that have devastated both countries.

Hillary is a co-founder of Onward Together, a Democratic Party front group that is affiliated to other activist organizations. In a recent e-mail she played the race card in a bid to solidify the black vote behind the Democratic Party, writing “Friend, George Floyd’s life mattered. Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s lives mattered. Black lives matter. Against a backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately ravaged communities of color, we are being painfully reminded right now that we are long overdue for honest reckoning and meaningful action to dismantle systemic racism.”

It is, of course, a not-so-subtle bid to buy votes using the currently popular code words “systemic racism” as a pledge that the Democrats will take steps to materially benefit blacks if the party wins the White House and a majority in the Senate. She ends her e-mail with an odd commitment, “I promise to keep fighting alongside all of you to make the United States a place where all men and all women are treated as equals, just as we are and just as we deserve to be.” The comment is odd because she is on one hand promising to promote the interests of one group based on skin color while also stating that everyone should be “treated as equals.” Someone should tip her off to the fact that employment and educational racial preferences and reparations are not the hallmarks of a government that treats everyone the same.

But if one really wants to dig into the depths of the Democratic Party soul, or lack thereof, there is no one who is better than former U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, the estimable Madeleine Albright. She too has written an e-mail that recently went out to Democratic Party supporters, saying:

“I’m deeply concerned. Donald Trump poses an existential threat to our standing in the world and continues to threaten the decades of diplomatic progress we had made. It is easy to forget from the comfort of our homes that for many people, America is a beacon of hope and opportunity. We’re known as a country that keeps our promises and upholds justice and democracy, and that didn’t just happen overnight. We’ve spent decades building our nation’s reputation on the world stage through careful, strategic diplomacy — but in just under four years, Trump has done unspeakable damage to those relationships and has insulted even our closest allies.”

Albright, who is perhaps most famous for having stated that she thought that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions was “worth it,” is living in a fantasy bubble that many politicians and high government officials seem to inhabit. She embraces the America the “Essential Nation” concept because it makes her and her former boss Bill Clinton look like great statesmen. She once enthused nonsensically that “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”

Madeleine Albright’s view that “America is a beacon of hope and opportunity…known as a country that keeps our promises and upholds justice and democracy” is also, of course, completely delusional, as opinion polls regularly indicate that nearly the entire world considers the U.S. to be extremely dangerous and virtually a rogue state in its blind pursuit of narrow self-interest combined with an unwillingness to uphold international law. And that has been true under both Democratic and Republican recent presidents, including Clinton. It is not just Trump.

Albright is clearly on a roll and has also submitted to a New York Times interview, further enlightening that paper’s readership on why the Trump administration is failing in its job of protecting the American people. The questions and answers are singularly, perhaps deliberately, unexciting and are largely focused on coronavirus and the new world order that it is shaping. Albright faults Trump for not promoting an international effort to defeat the virus, which is perhaps a bridge too far for most Americans who are not even very receptive to a nationally mandated pandemic response, let alone one requiring cooperation with “foreigners.”

Albright’s persistence as a go-to media “expert” on international relations is befuddling given her own history as an integral part of the inept foreign policy promoted by the Clinton Administration. She and Bill Clinton became cheerleaders for an unnecessary Balkan war that still resonates and were responsible for what was possibly the greatest foreign policy blunder (with the possible exception of the Iraq War) since the Second World War. That consisted of ignoring the commitment to post-Soviet Russia to not take advantage of the 1991 end of Communism by expanding U.S. or NATO military presence into Eastern Europe. Clinton/Albright reneged on that understanding and opened the door for many of the former Soviet allied states to enter NATO, thereby introducing a hostile military presence right up to Russia’s border.

Simultaneously, the U.S. enabled the election as Russian president of the hapless drunk Boris Yeltsin, who, guided by advisers sent by the White House, oversaw the western looting of his country’s natural resources. The bad decision-making under the Clintons led inevitably to the rise of Vladimir Putin as a corrective, which, exacerbated by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and a maladroit Donald Trump, has in turn produced the poisoned bilateral relationship between Washington and Moscow that currently prevails.

 
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The continued presence of tens of thousands of American military personnel in Europe seventy-five years after the end of the Second World War is rarely questioned either by politicians or the mainstream media. Currently there is little recollection of how, after the war ended, soldiers from Britain, France, the U.S. and the Soviet Union occupied Germany, each in a designated zone. Germany’s capital Berlin was divided into four sectors, each with a foreign military occupying force. I was a part of that occupation force from 1968 through 1971, serving in the U.S. Army’s Berlin Brigade as part of the 430th Military Intelligence Detachment.

The initial intention to keep postwar Germany in check morphed into the Cold War with the Soviets. The Soviet sector of Berlin became the capital of communist East Germany while the U.S. led efforts to create a military union based in Western Europe that would resist further Russian expansion. That alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, a structure that incorporated the newly minted Federal Republic of Germany, and the Soviets countered with the Warsaw Pact that included nearly all of Eastern Europe. Both the Organization and Pact were ostensibly defensive alliances and the U.S. active participation was intended to demonstrate American resolve to come to the aid of the Europeans. The Cold War between the two alliances continued until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Germany was reunited, the Berlin wall was torn down, the foreign troops went home and the city again became the country’s capital.

During my time in Germany the Cold War was decidedly hot, having relatively recently witnessed the Russian denial of Berlin’s occupied city status shared among the four victorious nations by building a wall and confronting U.S. forces at the new border crossing points. My recollection is that in 1970 there were more than 10,000 GIs in Berlin alone and about 200,000 more stationed in West Germany.

Today there are approximately 36,000 American soldiers and airmen based in a reunited Germany but President Donald Trump decided in early June to withdraw 9,500 of them and to also cap the total U.S. military presence in that country at 24,000, which would involve 2,500 more cuts and might go even deeper depending on what is eventually included in the numbers. Preliminary planning suggests that about 5,600 will be repositioned to other NATO countries, including Italy, Belgium and Poland, while 6,400 will be returned to the U.S., from which point they might go on to the Pacific theater to confront “Chinese ambitions.” Unlike previous Trump pronouncements on reductions in force in Afghanistan and Syria, neither of which has actually been achieved, this latest move regarding Germany appears to be serious.

As some of the soldiers that are being re-positioned elsewhere in Europe will undoubtedly be closer to the border with Russia, there should be no doubt but that the Kremlin is still the designated enemy. Whether Russia is an actual threat is questionable and many observers privately believe that NATO is an anachronism, kept going by the many statesmen and military establishments of the various countries that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

In spite of the clearly diminished threat in Europe, NATO has expanded to 30 members, including most of the former communist states that made up the Warsaw Pact. The most recent acquisition was Montenegro in 2016, which contributed 2,400 soldiers to the NATO force. Since the demise of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has found work in bombing Serbia, destroying Libya and in helping in the unending task to train an Afghan army, tasks which were not envisioned when the treaty was signed in 1949.

Trump has also stated his intention to move the European Headquarters of U.S. forces from Stuttgart in Germany to Mons, near Brussels in Belgium. The move would seem to make some limited sense as NATO headquarters is also in Brussels, but there is also a political dimension to it. Trump has been sending the not unreasonable message that if the Europeans want more defense, they should pay for it themselves, though he has wrapped his proposal in his usual insulting and derogatory language. A wealthy Germany currently spends 1.1% of GDP on its military, far less than the 2% that NATO has declared to be a target to meet alliance commitments. That compares with the nearly 5% that the U.S. has been spending globally, inclusive of intelligence and national security costs.

Trump might actually have a reasonable U.S. perspective on the burden sharing issue, but the European concern is more focused on how Trump does what he does. For example, he announced the downsizing in June without informing any of America’s NATO partners. The Germans were surprised and pushed back immediately. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas regretted the planned withdrawal, describing Berlin’s relationship with the Washington as “complicated.” Chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly shocked. And Trump made matters worse last week when he tweeted “Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia” before maladroitly observing that “The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. We are protecting Germany. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bill. It’s very simple: They’re delinquent. Very simple.”

The timing of the decision has also been questioned, with many observers believing that Trump deliberately staged the announcement to punish Merkel for refusing to attend a planned G-7 Summit in the U.S. that the president had been trying to arrange. Merkel argued that dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus made it difficult for her to leave home and the G-7 planning never got off the ground, which angered Trump, who wanted to demonstrate his global leadership in an election year.

Predictably, the Democrats and also some Republicans are piling on Trump over the decision. Joe Biden sees a “profound problem” in the withdrawal while Senator Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee quipped “Champagne must be flowing freely this evening at the Kremlin.” Republican Mitt Romney declared the move to be “grave error…a slap in the face at a friend and ally when we should instead be drawing closer in our mutual commitment to deter Russian and Chinese aggression. The move may temporarily play well in domestic politics, but its consequences will be lasting and harmful to American interests.”

The limited reduction in force actually makes no sense if one believes that NATO itself should instead be terminated due to its lacking any credible threat from Russia or from anyone else. A recent opinion poll suggests that keeping U.S. troops in Germany is not considered desirable by the Germans themselves, only 15% of whom support their remaining on national security grounds. And moving troops to Belgium and Italy is going in the wrong direction if one actually considers that there is an active threat from Moscow.

 
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A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find out if there had been any attempt made by the Kremlin to manipulate the voting.

The Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is reportedly perplexed by the lack of official interest in what might have been a foreign intelligence operation that had major impact, all too plausible given that it is assumed that Moscow would have welcomed Brexit as a first step that will eventually put an end to European political and economic unity.

So, no one knows if Russia or anyone else interfered in Britain, which is perhaps just as well as inquiries into voting in the U.S. also in 2016 have likewise created nothing but confusion and no smoking pistol. And, of course there is a question of definitions of interference. Millions of pounds were spent on advertising by those pro- and con-Brexit, just as billions were spent in political adverts in the United States. Much of the “information” provided in that fashion was deliberately misleading, often fearmongering, both in the U.K. and the U.S., suggesting that the problem is much bigger than one country’s possible attempt to influence the vote, if that even took place.

There were similar claims about Russian generated fake news and “a massive hacking attack” in the French presidential election in 2017, while Germany’s Federal Election was notable for a lack of any identifiable Kremlin interference in spite of warnings from some observers that Berlin would be targeted.

So, while claims of Russian interference in elections are fairly common, they are difficult to prove in any serious way. And one should recognize that the “victimized” governments and political parties have strong motives to conjure up a foreign enemy to explain to the public why things are going wrong, be it for coronavirus fumbling or for general political ineptitude. To be sure, as the allure of blaming Russia has faded China is increasingly being targeted by American politicians as a scapegoat, indicating that there must always be a foreigner available to blame for one’s problems.

The most recent nugget to come out of the U.S. Congress on foreign interference in elections originates with Adam Schiff, the sly head of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC, Schiff revealed that U.S. intelligence has obtained information suggesting multiple nations could be trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. elections, to include feeding or “laundering” possible disinformation through Congress.

Schiff explained how various nations us different tactics to get “fake news” messages through to the American voters. Some governments openly support a particular candidate or policy, while others like the Chinese provide misinformation during their trade negotiations with Washington. He observed that “The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs.”

A letter signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va has asked for a counterintelligence briefing for Congress regarding foreign efforts to interfere in the upcoming election. It includes “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democratic Party presidential candidate presumptive Joe Biden also has confirmed that he has received briefings about Russian alleged plans to interfere in November saying “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Of course, there are a number of things to say about the claims that other nations are possibly planning to meddle in the voting. First, the list of possible players being presented by Schiff and others is all too convenient, kind of like a Congressional dream list of bad boys. Russia pops up because of longstanding claims about it, but China is a new entry in the game because it all ties up into a neat package, including the “Wuhan virus” and its challenges both to American economic supremacy and to U.S. naval power in the South China Sea. And of course, there are Iran and also North Korea.

One should ask what exactly China, Iran and North Korea stand to gain by attempting to “interfere” in the election? What message could they possibly be sending and what would be the mechanisms they would use to get their points of view across to a skeptical American public? In a campaign that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising and other “messaging,” what exactly is the possible place of Iran and North Korea?

There is also a lack of “realism” in the Schiff comments. By far the country that interferes the most in U.S. politics is Israel. Israel and its domestic Lobby initiate legislation relating to the Middle East and Israeli diplomats, lobbyists and soldiers all have free access both to Capitol Hill and to the Pentagon. If a Congressman dares to speak up against the Jewish state’s crimes he or she is smeared in the media and eventually forced out of office by a well-funded pro-Israel opponent. No other country gets away with all that. As it is highly likely that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be pulling out all the stops to reelect Donald Trump in November, why isn’t the Jewish state included on Schiff’s list?

 
New think tank needs an Israel reality check
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The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft think tank launched last November. It has recently issued a roughly 15,000 word manifesto entitled “Ending America’s Misguided Policy of Middle East Domination.” For those who would find ten thousand words plus intimidating, the paper includes a more digestible 1,221 word executive summary which fairly accurately summarizes the document’s conclusions.

I have written about Quincy before, here and here and here. In short, while I would applaud a restrained foreign policy, particularly for the Middle East, I find Quincy unconvincing. It claims to promote “ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace” and further takes some pride in being non-partisan, though bipartisan might be a better description. To be sure, Quincy’s two major donors have been reported to be the highly controversial George Soros on the globalist left and the equally notorious Koch Foundation on the libertarian-lite right.

Soros in particular has been much in the news of late given his alleged propensity to fund and otherwise support groups and organizations that many would regard as conspiratorial or even violently radical, to include black lives matter and Antifa. Soros, a Hungarian Jew who is now a U.S. citizen, has been especially engaged in interventions to bring about “regime change” through “democracy movements” in Eastern Europe and he has exhibited a particularly animosity towards Russia, making one suspect that his cash will influence what Quincy is allowed to say about the Kremlin.

The new Quincy report was co-authored by Paul Pillar, Andrew Bacevich, Trita Parsi and Annelle Sheline. I am not familiar with Sheline’s work, but Pillar, Bacevich and Parsi are all highly respectable and very knowledgeable about both national security and developments in the Middle East. To be sure, the paper includes a lot of useful information and insights into how various policies have evolved plus some very positive suggestions for extricating the U.S. from the Asian quagmire. But one should also accept that what is included in its agenda and how it is framed might be shaped by outside considerations, to include how Quincy is funded. It is not so much a matter of what the contributors write, but rather how it is spun and what is either minimized or not even addressed at all.

The ability to write about the Middle East in an even-handed “realistic” fashion, which is what the new article seeks to do, is based on the premise that there is equivalency among all of the players involved. That is, of course, nonsense. Many observers would note that the United States currently is in the Middle East and playing the role that it does mostly due to the immense power of Israel and its domestic lobby operating largely out of Washington and New York City.

Israel’s ability to make American presidents and the U.S. Congress do what it wishes is clearly visible wherever one chooses to look. The American people have gained nothing from giving Israel hundreds of billions of dollars and an endless supply of weapons while also looking the other way as Israel stole nuclear secrets and spied on the U.S. more than any other “friendly” country. What did the U.S. gain in recently moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, in allowing Benjamin Netanyahu to annex the Golan Heights, in approving the bombing of Syria and Iran, or in permitting the systematic Israeli dehumanizing of the Palestinians?

A recent article by Professor Bacevich entitled “President Trump, Please End the American Era in the Middle East” appears to a precursor study to the current longer Quincy report. It is a good example of how self-censorship over Israel by authors works. The article particularly focused on the foreign policy pronouncements of Bret Stephens, the resident neocon who writes for The New York Times. Stephens, per Bacevich, has been urging constant war in the Middle East and worrying lest “we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the American era in the Middle East.” Bacevich correctly described how “in the Middle East, the military power of the United States has played a large part in exacerbating problems rather than contributing to their solution.”

The overall message is sound, but in this case, it is interesting to note what Bacevich left out rather than what he included. He cited Iran seven times as well as Saudi Arabia, but, strangely enough, he never mentioned Israel at all, which a number of commenters on the piece noted. It rather suggests that there is a line that Bacevich is reluctant to cross. The omission is particularly odd as Israel is absolutely central to and might even be described as driving American policy in the Middle East and Bret Stephens, whom Bacevich excoriates, is a notable Israel-firster who once worked as the editor of the Jerusalem Post.

Bacevich also has produced an op-ed entitled “Foreign governments are messing with our elections the old-fashioned way” in the Boston Globe. It again fails to mention Israel at all in spite of that country’s enormous influence over the U.S. electoral process through the political donations provided by dual loyalty billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban to Republicans and Democrats respectively. In fact, Bacevich has clearly indicated that there will be red lines, that the Quincy Institute won’t focus on “highlighting pro-Israel organizations or donors.” In other words, it will not criticize Israel’s Lobby as a key driving element in America’s interventionist foreign policy.

Bacevich is a smart man who knows perfectly well what Israel and its lobby represents but he also knows that anyone who wants to be a player in Washington DC has to avoid the Israel hot wire. The Quincy report includes, for example, lengthy separate sections on Iraq, Syria, Iran and Yemen but nothing similar on Israel. I have, however, excerpted all the citations of Israel in the full text. They are:

“U.S. military assistance—most prominently to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, but also to armed proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya—exacerbates abuses that contribute to instability… Unconditional U.S. military support for Israel has facilitated its continued occupation of Palestinian territory (potentially culminating in the annexation of the West Bank) and reduced incentives to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

The bombing of the U.S. “embassy in Beirut, [was] a direct response to U.S. military intervention in Lebanon, which, in turn, was an attempt to deal with the consequences of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon a year earlier.”

 
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There is something unique about how the United States manipulates the “terrorism” label to avoid being accused of carrying out war crimes. When an indigenous militia or an armed insurgency like the Taliban in a country like Iraq or Afghanistan attacks American soldiers subsequent to a U.S. invasion which overthrew the country’s government, it is considered by Washington to be an act of “terrorism.” Terror attacks de facto permit a carte blanche response, allowing virtually anything as retaliation against the parties involved or countries that support them, including the assassination of foreign government officials. But for the attacker, whose perspective is quite different, the incident often could reasonably be described as legitimate resistance to a foreign occupier and much of the world might agree with that assessment.

So, it all comes down to definitions. The United States covers its version of reality through liberal use of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which more-or-less gives a blanket approval to attack and kill “terrorists” anywhere at any time. And how does one become a terrorist? By being included on the U.S. government’s heavily politicized annual list of terrorist groups and material supporters of terrorism. That was the argument that was used by the United States when it killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January, that his organization, the Qods Force, was on the “terrorist” lists maintained by State and the Treasury Department and he was therefore held to be guilty of any and all attacks on U.S. military carried out by Qods or by presumed Iranian surrogate militias.

The case made to justify killing Soleimani was considered deeply flawed at the time it took place. Because the United States says something is legal due to a law Congress has passed does not make it so, just as most of the world would consider the U.S. profile killings by drone in Afghanistan and elsewhere, based on nothing more than the assumption that someone on the ground might be a “terrorist,” to be little more than war crimes.

It has recently been revealed that the Trump Administration has issued a so-called “finding” to authorize the CIA to conduct more aggressive cyberattacks against infrastructure and other targets in countries that are considered to be unfriendly. The finding specifically named Iran, North Korea, China and Russia as approved targets and it is of particular interest because it basically left it up to the Agency to decide whom to attack and to what degree. As Washington is not at war with any of the countries named and is essentially seeking to damage their economies directly, the activity undertaken by CIA has constituted acts of war and, by widely accepted legal definition, attacks on countries that are not actually threatening are war crimes.

To counter the negative publicity about Trump Administration actions and to establish a possible casus belli, Washington has been floating numerous stories alleging Iranian, Russian and Chinese “aggression.” The ridiculous story about Russia paying Afghans bounties to kill American soldiers was quickly debunked, so the White House and the captive media are now alleging that Moscow hacker/spies are seeking to steal proprietary information dealing with the development of a coronavirus vaccine. The agitprop coming out of Washington to blame Russia for nearly everything notwithstanding, opinion polls suggest that most of the world considers Washington to be the primary source of global instability, rejecting the assertion by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. is a “force for good.”

So, it is reasonable to suggest that the United States has been guilty of many war crimes in the past twenty years and has only been shielded from the consequences due to its ability to control the message combined with its power in international fora and its unwillingness to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

But the willingness of the international community to look the other way in support of the war crimes double standard appears to be changing. The ICC, which has had its investigators denied entry to the United States, has been investigating Israeli war crimes even as it also looks at developments in Afghanistan and Iraq involving U.S. forces. Trump’s ban on entry by ICC personnel includes their families even if they are American citizens and it also protects Israel in that ICC investigators looking into the possible war crimes committed by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers and officers as well as the relevant Jewish state’s government officials will also be sanctioned and denied entry into the U.S. In practical terms, the Trump Administration is declaring that IDF and U.S. soldiers will be regarded as one and the same as they relate to dealings with the ICC, a conceit that is little known to the American public.

The Israelis have responded to the threat from the ICC by compiling a secret list of government officials and military officers who might be subject to ICC issued arrest warrants if they travel in Europe for war crimes committed in Lebanon and Syria as well as of crimes against humanity directed against Palestinians. The list reportedly includes between 200 and 300 names.

That Israel is making a list of people who might be vulnerable to accusations of having possibly committed war crimes is a de facto admission by the government that such crimes were in fact committed. The ICC will soon decide whether to move on the December request by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate both Israel and Hamas over suspicions of war crimes in Gaza and Jerusalem as well as on the occupied West Bank beginning in 2014. The investigation would include “crimes allegedly committed in relation to the use by members of the IDF of non-lethal and lethal means against persons participating in demonstrations beginning in March 2018 near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which reportedly resulted in the killing of over 200 individuals, including over 40 children, and the wounding of thousands of others.”

Given the time frame, Israeli government officials and military officers would likely be the first to face scrutiny by investigators. According to Haaretz, the list would almost certainly include “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; former defense ministers Moshe Ya’alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett; former Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, and current Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi; and the former and current heads of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen and Nadav Argaman, respectively.”

 
Piece by piece
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First they came for the toilet paper and kitchen towels, then they came for flour and now they are taking your coins. Yes, the American public sitting out the COVID-19 virus is now having to deal with what is referred as a “small change shortage.” caused apparently by hoarding. Coffee shops and other retail outlets that deal in cash have been hit hard by the shortage, finding themselves unable to make change. Apparently, people have decided spontaneously and in large numbers that nickels, dimes and quarters, as they have value as being made of metal, will somehow maintain their worth better than the pieces of paper being printed in Washington.

The government has acted decisively to meet the threat by having the Federal Reserve convene a 22 strong U.S. Coin Task Force to “mitigate the effects of low coin inventories caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ironically, of course, the Fed is the source of America’s long suffering backed-by-nothing currency. As several of the major private banks, including JP Morgan and Bank of America, are represented on the Task Force as well as a swarm of government bureaucrats, one can assume that nothing will happen except possibly a decision to change the design of the coins to eliminate Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Sacagawea can stay on the funny looking dollar coin, which no one has actually seen in years as she represents an approved ethnic minority.

There are a lot of indications that the American stratocruiser is about to crash. My wife and I went to a local gun range last week for a refresher course. I knew how to shoot from my time in the Army and CIA but have not actually fired a weapon since 1978 and my wife learned how to use a handgun about fifteen years ago when we made the decision to have one available in the house “just in case.” To be sure, the current situation with deranged radical groups unrestrained by feckless politicians and a complicit media, our decision to re-arm as it were was based on the assumption that we can no longer rely on a demoralized and passive police force to protect either us or our property, particularly if there are any racial overtones to who is doing what to whom. So, we might have to be prepared to defend ourselves.

The first thing we learned was that it was hard to get an appointment with a trainer at a licensed range. It took us weeks to make an appointment and we only got one when there was a cancellation. It seems large numbers of ordinary Americans are looking to defend themselves because they, like us, are shocked when they see politicians ignore looting, beatings and arson even as they kneel before thugs. Meanwhile, the media endorses the process, also throwing in a blanket condemnation of the white race, which suggests that there is nothing good that will come out the other end of what it taking place.

We did our shooting training but the next hurdle was upgrading our weapons. We had a venerable 9mm automatic and an even older 38 caliber revolver. Modern handguns have better safety features and their mechanisms work more smoothly for ageing hands. We were looking for a new 9mm automatic and an AR-15 so-called assault rifle for greater reach if that should become necessary but the man at the sales desk shook his head and said “No, everything is back ordered for six months or more. Everyone is buying new weapons. Give me a deposit and I will call you when something comes available.”

So “everyone” is training to shoot and buying new weapons, and it is even being reported that break-ins to steal guns from sporting goods shops are increasing dramatically. Weapons are a hot commodity, which just might mean that the confidence among people that the state will keep them safe is at the vanishing point. Even the mainstream media has noticed the spike in gun sales, but they predictably use that fact to explain the surge in gun homicides across the country in the past several months. More weapons, per The Washington Post, means more armed racist white people are out on the streets raising hell, but it ignores the fact that the gun deaths have been overwhelmingly black-on-black, as has always been the case.

I would also suggest that at least part of the explanation lies elsewhere, in less policing as cops have figured out that they have no one on their side and are best served by doing as little as possible when the shooting starts. Policemen have, in fact, been on the receiving end of much of the recent violence. Instead of seeking help from a cop, violent crime victims should call 911 and ask the operator to have Mayor Bill de Blasio send out a social worker whenever they get attacked by irate gang bangers. The NYPD cops are apparently too busy in any event as they are guarding the black lives matter paintwork covering Fifth Avenue in front of the Trump Tower.

Another thing one is now having difficulty in buying is alcohol. People are depressed and are drinking a hell of a lot more than normal, which can, of course, result in impulsive behavior. I live in Virginia and our state store is constantly running out of everything. A cashier told me that they are selling 300% more booze than normal for this time of year. Last week I went into a large and well-known liquor store in Washington D.C. and bought the last few bottles of our favorite scotch The Famous Grouse. They had run out and didn’t know when they would get more. My wife and I are anticipating a Famous Grouse crisis and we have discussed setting up a still in the basement.

Finally, a family member owns a construction company. He recently said that business is unexpectedly booming, in part because people are building panic rooms, safe havens and even 1960s style fallout shelters in and behind their houses. But unlike the threat of nuclear war in the sixties, the current fear is that with the wreckers being given a free hand by the authorities, organized home invasions penetrating prosperous neighborhoods cannot be that far away. Most of the construction work is being done as unobtrusively as possible because the clients don’t want their neighbors to know how scared they are.

 
Bari Weiss bids The New York Times farewell
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This week’s resignation of neoconservative journalist Bari Weiss from the position of staff editor and contributor on the opinion page at The New York Times provoked considerable discussion both for and against her. Her resignation letter, which was quickly made public, depicts her as a brave non-conformist, a “conservative” among liberals (though she describes herself as a “centrist”), and someone who was willing to write stories that others at the Times would not touch. She was particularly critical of the dominant progressive “group think” at the management levels of the newspaper which created a “hostile environment” that did not tolerate any alternative viewpoints on breaking stories.

The resignation came shortly after the “scandal” at the newspaper that had led to the firing of opinion page chief editor James Bennet in June. Bennet was forced to walk the plank after a piece by Senator Tom Cotton appeared that advocated using military force to put down the unrest that is sweeping America’s cities. “Using military force” is apparently equivalent to “shooting demonstrators” in New York Times-speak, so when Bennett admitted that he had not even read the op-ed, he had to go for approving a piece that “did not meet the Times’ standards.”

Admittedly, Weiss makes some shrewd points about the state of journalism in the United States and how it has become a sounding board for what is appearing on Twitter. To her credit, she has been openly critical of the so-called “cancel culture” which seeks to restrict the free exchange of information and ideas, but she is also very selective about her own record. She claims that she was derided as a “Nazi, a bigot and a racist” because she questioned the reporting on issues like BLM and was not “inclusive” enough. But while she rightly decries what she describes as the tribalism of the corporate mainstream media, she does so without recognizing that she too has her own particular tribal allegiance. She makes a point of implying that she was the victim of anti-Semitism, accused of “writing about Jews again,” without any recognition that she herself has been a strident hardline apologist for Israel and for Jews in general in a journalism world that has been over-populated by mostly liberal Jews for many years.

Bari Weiss’s letter included an overwrought description of Pulitzer Prize winning black writer Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, as “a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati,” suggesting that she does indeed nurture an agenda focused on Jewish-related issues. Glenn Greenwald recalls how she, in 2012, speaking before a conference of the American Zionist Movement, stated that she had dedicated herself to the “connection between advocacy journalism and Zionism.” Greenwald has also documented how she, starting when she was a sophomore at Columbia, was in the forefront of efforts to silence all criticism of Israel, particularly that which was allegedly coming from professors of Arab background. He observes that her objective was no less than “trying to suppress criticisms of Israel from college campuses… Anyone remotely familiar with the wars over the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia University, in which Weiss played a starring role, knows that her claim here — that the campaign was just a benign attempt to protect students’ rights — is utterly false. The campaign was designed to ruin the careers of Arab professors by equating their criticisms of Israel with racism, anti-Semitism, and bullying, and its central demand was that those professors (some of whom lacked tenure) be disciplined for their transgressions… That the campaign against these Arab professors was about suppressing criticisms of Israel and intimidating and punishing professors who voiced such criticisms was barely hidden. The New York Civil Liberties Union — historically reluctant to involve itself in disputes involving Israel — strongly condemned the campaign against these Arab professors at Columbia that Weiss helped to lead.”

Given all the pressure from Weiss and her associates, as well as threats from prominent Jewish donors to the college, the university investigated the charges. It found that “… for several years, after pieces appeared in the tabloid press blasting the department as anti-Israel, many non-students, clearly hostile and with ideological agendas, had been attending classes in the [Middle East Studies] department, interrupting lectures with hostile asides and inhibiting classroom debate.” All the professors were cleared of the charges leveled against them and the report concluded that they had been the victims and not the perpetrators of an organized harassment campaign.

Weiss, the epicenter of the campaign of vilification and academic censorship, was furious at the exoneration of the instructors and both held a press conference to denounce the findings while also organizing demonstrations by Jewish students. She complained that the issue of “large scale intimidation of pro-Israel students” had not been addressed.

Weiss was hired by The Times in 2017 around the same time that the much better-known Jerusalem Post and Wall Street Journal alumnus Bret Stephens was also brought on board. Both she and Stephens are unflinching in their support of Israel and they joined a Times staff that was hardly anti-Israeli. The Times for long has been something like an uncritical sounding board for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but recently, it has indeed allowed some pieces by Tom Friedman and others that are critical of the Israeli plan to annex much of the Palestinian West Bank. But the arguments are always framed around the premise that the move would be “bad for Israel,” leaving the Palestinian victims on the sidelines as hapless observers of the deliberations.

In retrospect, it is difficult to understand what the stink over Bari Weiss is all about, apart from the fact that she is clearly engaging in self-promotion to get another job. A quick perusal of the list of her undistinguished NYT articles does indeed suggest that roughly half of what she wrote was either about Israel or Jews. As an editor, she commissioned interviews and op-eds by people that she may have considered either “centrist” or “conservative,” but, again, she, and they, hardly had much impact. Whatever her “new perspective” was perceived to be by NYT management when she was hired is somewhat elusive.

 
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As the combined impact of the corona virus and the wholesale destruction of America’s history and culture, or at least the part of it that is white, continues, it is nice to see that other nations are getting into the game that will lead to the de facto elimination of western civilization. No one is yet quite up the U.S. level of senseless destruction and looting by the heroes of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa, but in Britain mobs are beating policemen, statues including that of Winston Churchill are being attacked and the Cenotaph commemorating the country’s war dead has been vandalized. In a bizarre incident demonstrating the fundamental ignorance of the wreckers, a memorial to those who died at the 1651 Battle of Worcester in the English Civil War has suffered “significant damage”, with the letters BLM painted on the marker.

Perhaps the most ridiculous SJW demand arising out of the ethno-racism nonsense that has induced the politicians and journalists to go down on their knees and beg for forgiveness is the argument that the Arch of Titus in Rome, which has been standing for two thousand years, should be destroyed because one of its panels depicts the triumphal parade that displayed the loot obtained from the Roman capture of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Yeshiva University senior Michael Weiner writing in the Jewish magazine “The Forward” argues that “…like Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and King Leopold II, it too must come down. There is no excuse for Italy to maintain, fund, and proudly display a structure that celebrates the destruction of Jerusalem, the forced displacement of the Jews of Judea, and the burning of the Temple… As an ancient propaganda tool to glorify Rome’s bloody conquests and a modern emblem of Christian persecution and Jewish subjugation, the Arch of Titus is a cruel symbol.”

Weiner seems unaware, or more likely does not care, that there is considerable irony in his denunciation of the Roman subjugation of Judea while ignoring the very real contemporary genocide of the Palestinian people by his co-religionists in Israel. It just goes to show you that once the destruction game starts, anyone who has a grievance can join in and the damage will increase exponentially as every foolish demand becomes self-justifying.

If the current political turmoil ever reverts to anything like normalcy, what is likely to emerge out the other end is a coalition of grievance groups that have figured out that destroying things indiscriminately to make some people feel consumed with guilt so you can steal their money and property is a whole lot easier than actually having to come up with something reasonable. Whatever it winds up calling itself the “NewPolitics” will look a lot like Nancy Pelosi’s groveling Democratic Party or possibly Britain’s Labour Party under its new dystopian leader Keir Starmer, whose overriding mission appears to be ridding the world of anti-Semitism.

Be that as it may, and assuming that the world will not end in the next year or so, the distraction arising from the virus and demonstrations has provided plenty of opportunity for the Trump Administration’s consigliere Mike Pompeo and his foreign allies to make mischief all around the world. Indeed, there have been opportunities for several “twofers” with condemnation of China’s and Venezuela’s relations with Iran permitting attacks on multiple “enemies” simultaneously.

China is completing a “New Silk Road” trade agreement with Iran that will reduce the impact of U.S. sanctions while Iran has been supplying refined petroleum products to Venezuela. Washington has been working hard to disrupt both developments, even threatening to use counter-terrorism legislation to intercept the Greek-owned but carrying-Iranian-fuel tankers in international waters.

The real question all along has been whether the United States and Israel will attack Iran now or later, but the usual anonymous sources in Washington that provide the New York Times with fodder for its fabricated foreign policy pieces are now suggesting that we are looking at something that might be called “incremental conflict management”, which would consist of a series of “short-of-war clandestine strikes, aimed at taking out the most prominent generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and setting back Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran described the U.S. government’s vapid Iran policy by observing “We have seen historically that timidity and weakness invites more Iranian aggression.” Also, in an election year, “incremental” sounds better than real war and it also obscures the reality that Israel is already attacking Iran and its allies, almost daily, aided by the Trump Administration and also encouraged by a belligerent U.S. Congress.

The U.S. approach to Iran is only marginally more subtle than that of the Jewish state, consisting of seeking to destroy the country’s economy by blocking its oil exports and its banking sector. Last week a U.S. court in Washington cited “anti-terror legislation” to rule against Iran, awarding $879 million in damages to the survivors and families of the U.S. airmen killed in the Khobar Towers bombing attack in 1996. Iran has denied involvement in the bombing and there is certainly no hard evidence that it was behind it, but the victims will in any event have a hard time collecting their money as the Iranian government has had many of its bank accounts frozen by the U.S. Treasury.

The “incremental war” crowd sees a situation in which the United States and Israel have de facto been pursuing a plan to bring down the Iranian government while also devastating its nuclear program. The United States is applying the economic pressure through an increasing use of sanctions, while Israel regularly bombs Iranians and Iranian proxies in Syria and Lebanon. The two governments believe that the combination of military force and economic sanctions will eventually force the Iranian regime to basically surrender and effectively disarm without having to escalate into an open, shooting war.

 
Half a billion dollars goes to companies and foundations
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Washington D.C. is surely one of the most corrupt places on earth. Money talks and nearly everyone into the game sometimes referred to as politics has his or her hand out and expects to end up a millionaire. Given that, it should surprise no one to learn that a large chunk of the CARES Business Assistance Program’s trillions of dollars recently doled out for coronavirus relief, sold to the public as intended to help small businesses survive, has instead gone to those who are politically connected through lobbyists and other special interests.

A recent Time magazine article describes what it calls “a familiar lobbying bonanza.” To be sure, the details regarding who got the cash makes for depressing reading, though there is a familiar smell to it in light of the many boondoggled programs to make America “safe” over the past twenty years. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has provided no less than 663,000 loans over $150,000, but much of the money has gone to “billionaires, country clubs, lobbyists, political allies, Wall Street, and big business,” all of which have better access to government than does the small business owner.

Recipients included 600 mostly large equity and asset management firms that were actually ineligible because of their involvement in “investment or speculation.” Cash rich law firms also benefited with more than 45 of top firms receiving at least $210 million in PPP loans while companies owned in whole or part by nine congressmen also received funds. A business partially owned by Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, obtained a loan as did a real estate project run by the family of Jared Kushner.

Other decidedly questionable recipients include Planned Parenthood, the Church of Scientology, and rapper Kanye West, up until recently a Trump favorite, who, with his wife Kim Kardashian, owns a shoe and clothing company worth an estimated $3 billion.

Given the apparent fact that obtaining a loan was largely a matter of who you know, it is perhaps not surprising that the state of Israel and its myriad supporting entities in the United States were in front of the line when the money was passed out.

I recently wrote about the apparent holocaust scam run out of Israel whereby gullible foreigners have been receiving emails and seeing media solicitations regarding how Jewish survivors of World War 2 currently in Israel are living in squalor and starving due to the impact of the coronavirus. Readers commented that there are similar ads running on television in the U.S. soliciting money from “Christians and Jews” to help relieve the suffering. There have recently been allegations of fraud regarding the millions of dollars that have been raised by Christian groups in the United States. As Israel is a wealthy, socialist state with world class medical and social services systems in part paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, as well as pensions provided mostly by Germany for all survivors, the entire business definitely has a bad smell to it.

If so-called holocaust survivors are actually suffering, the fault should be firmly placed where it belongs: the Jewish “charitable” organizations and the state of Israel itself, which are custodians for the money coming from Europe and elsewhere. Professor Norman Finkelstein has demonstrated in his book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering how all the billions of dollars extorted by Israel and Jewish groups has been diverted and rarely reaches those who might actually have suffered.

A review of the Finkelstein book notes “…that very little of the recently extracted ‘compensation’ has reached its nominal beneficiaries. Instead, the industry’s concern today lies with winning compensation for law firms, consultants, politicians, Holocaust organizations, and industry elites. ‘When Jewish elites rob Jewish survivors no ethical issues arise; it’s just about the money…’”

In the current economic and healthcare crisis, some of these groups including Israeli start-up companies and proxy groups that lobby in the United States are eligible to received PPP under the multi-trillion dollar CARES Business Assistance Program as long as they have some salaried U.S. employees. The loans can be up to two and a half times the cost of wages actually paid to employees up to a total of $10 million and are issued at 1% interest that is repayable within two years, with a six-month grace period before payments are due. The loan would be converted into a grant if the company can demonstrate that the money was actually spent on salaries that prevented terminating employees.

Predictably, Israeli connected law firms in the U.S. were immediately out of the starting gates. “’In this program, it’s all about being first to the prize,’ said Attorney Oz Halabi, a partner and head of the U.S. taxation department at the New York office of law firm Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz and a former senior official at the Israel Tax Authority. ‘It is very important to submit applications as soon as possible and to understand that the program is relevant to 99% of Israeli startups.’”

Because Israeli companies are well wired into political and financial power brokers in Washington and New York, they inevitably have had insider help applying early and obtaining immediate approvals for loans that struggling American small businesses will not receive. Reportedly 1,000 Jewish and Israel linked groups have already received $500 million but then proceeded to lay off employees anyway after they received their money. There has been, of course, no reciprocity of tax breaks or loans for U.S. companies operating in Israel.

 
Philip Giraldi
About Philip Giraldi

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren.


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