The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Topics/Categories Filter?
2008 Election 2012 Election 2016 Election 9/11 Afghanistan AIPAC American Media American Military Assassinations Barack Obama Benjamin Netanyahu CIA Civil Liberties David Petraeus Deep State Donald Trump Economics Foreign Policy Gaza Government Surveillance Haim Saban Hillary Clinton History Ideology Immigration Iran Iraq Iraq War ISIS Israel Israel Lobby Israel/Palestine John Brennan John McCain Kagans Libya Michael Flynn Michael Morell Mitt Romney Neocons Nikki Haley Pakistan Race/Ethnicity Rand Paul Republicans Ron Paul Russia Sarah Palin Sheldon Adelson Sibel Edmonds Syria Terrorism Torture Turkey Ukraine USS Liberty Vladimir Putin Aarab Barghouti Abe Foxman Abu Ghraib Academia Adam Schiff AEI Africa Al Jazeera Al-Qaeda Alan Clemmons Alan Dershowitz Alt Right American Exceptionalism American Jews American Left American Legion Andrei Nekrasov Angela Stent Ann Coulter Annual Country Reports On Terrorism Anti-Semitism Antifa Antiwar Movement Apartheid Arab Spring Arabs Argentina Default Armenians Arnon Milchan Arthur Lichte Ash Carter Atlantic Council Avigdor Lieberman Barbara Comstock Bashar Al-Assad BDS Movement Ben Cardin Benghazi Benjamin Cardin Bernard Henri-Levy Bernies Sanders BICOM Bill Clinton Bill Kristol Bill Maher Black Crime Black Lives Matter Boko Haram Boris Johnson Bowe Bergdahl Boycott Divest And Sanction Boycott Divestment And Sanctions Bret Stephens Brexit Britain Campaign For Liberty Carly Fiorina Caroline Glick Carter Page Catholic Church CCTV Cell Phones Censorship Charles Krauthammer Charles Schumer Charlie Hebdo Charlie Rose Charlottesville Chas Freeman China Chris Gown Christianity Christmas Christopher Steele Chuck Hagel Chuck Schumer Civilian Deaths CJIA Climate Change Clinton Global Initiative Cold War Colombia Conservative Movement Conservatives Conspiracy Theories Corruption CRIF Crimea Dana Milbank David Brooks David Friedman David Frum David Ignatius David Kramer Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Democratic Party Dennis Hastert Dennis Ross Derek Harvey Dick Cheney Diplomacy Dirty Bomb Drone War Drones Ebola Economic Sanctions Edward Price Edward Snowden Egypt Eliot Cohen Eliot Engel Elliot Abrams Elliott Abrams Emmanuel Macron Enhanced Interrogations Environmentalism Erdogan Eric Cantor Espionage European Right European Union Ezra Cohen-Watnick Facebook Fake News Fascism FBI Federal Reserve Fethullah Gulen FIFA Financial Bailout Financial Crisis First Amendment FISA Food Football Foreign Service Fracking Fred Hiatt Frederic Hof Free Speech Gays/Lesbians Gaza Flotilla GCHQ George Clooney George Soros George Tenet George W. Bush Georgia Gina Haspel Glenn Greenwald Global Terrorism Index Google Government Secrecy Guantanamo Guns H.R. McMaster Haiti Hamas Hasbara Hate Crimes Hate Speech Hezbollah Hispanics Hollywood House Intelligence Committee Humor Illegal Immigration Imran Awan Intelligence Internet Internet Research Agency Iran Nuclear Agreement Iran Nuclear Program Iranian Nuclear Program ISIS. Terrorism Islam Islamophobia Israel Defense Force Israeli Occupation Israeli Settlements Israeli Spying Jake Tapper James Clapper James Comey James Mattis James Wooley Jane Harman Jane Mayer Janet Yellen Japan Jared Kushner JASTA JCPOA Jeff Sessions Jennifer Rubin Jeremy Corbyn Jerrold Nadler Jerry Seinfeld Jews Jill Stein Jim Webb Jimmy Carter Joe Cirincione Joe Lieberman John Allen John Boehner John Bolton John Kasich John Kerry John McLaughlin John Mearsheimer John Yoo Jonathan Pollard Joseph Lieberman Judge George Daniels Keith Ellison Ken Livingstone Kenneth Marcus Kevin McCarthy Kevin Williamson Knesset Ku Klux Klan Kurds Larry Franklin Law Of War Manual Libertarians Lindsay Graham Lindsey Graham Lloyd Blankfein Lobbying Lorde Lyndon Johnson Madeleine Albright Mahmoud Abbas Malaysian Airlines MH17 Mark Warner Marwan Barghouti Max Blumenthal Max Boot Memorial Day Michael Jackson Michael Pompeo Michelle Bachmann Microsoft Middle East Mike Huckabee Mike Pence Mike Pompeo Mike Signer Military Pay Military Spending Miscellaneous Missile Defense Moldova Mormons Mossad Movies Muslim Ban Muslims Mutual Assured Destruction My Lai National Review National Security State National Security Strategy NATO Naz Shah Neo-Nazis Neoconservatism Neoconservatives New England Patriots Nobel Prize North Korea NSA NSA Surveillance Nuclear Proliferation Nuclear War Nuclear Weapons NYPD Obamacare Oliver Stone Osama Bin Laden Palestine Palestinians Pamela Geller Patriot Act Paul Manafort Paul Singer Paul Wolfowitz Pentagon Perception Management Phil Onderdonk Philip Breedlove Police State Police Training Political Correctness Presidential Libraries Press Censorship Prince Bandar Priti Patel Progressives Qatar Rachel Maddow Rahm Emanuel Randy Fine Raqqa Recep Tayyip Erdogan Refugee Crisis Reuel Gerecht Rex Tillerson Robert Ford Robert Kraft Robert McNamara Robert Mueller Robert Spencer Roger Ailes RT International Russiagate Russian Hack Same-sex Marriage Saudi Arabia Science Scotland Scott Ritter Senate Sergei Magnitsky Sergei Skripal Seymour Hersh Shai Masot Shimon Arad Shmuley Boteach Shoshana Bryen Shurat HaDin Somalia South Africa Sputnik News State Department Steny Hoyer Stephen Colbert Stephen Hadley Strategic Affairs Ministry Stuxnet Surveillance Susan Glasser Susan Rice Sweden Syed Farook Taliban Tashfeen Malik Tea Party Ted Cruz The New York Times The Washington Post Theresa May Tom Cotton Tony Blair Traffic Tulsi Gabbard United Nations United States Valerie Plame Venezuela Victoria Nuland Video Games Vietnam Vietnam War Wall Street War On Terror Washington Post White Helmets Wikileaks William Browder William Kristol WINEP Yellowcake Forgery Yemen Yochi Dreazen Zionism
Nothing found
 TeasersPhilip Giraldi Blogview

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
Pay and benefits are out of control
🔊 Listen RSS

America’s Republican politicians complain that “entitlements,” by which they mean pensions and medical care, are leading the country to bankruptcy even as they fatten the spending on the Pentagon, which now takes 12 percent of the overall budget. And it should be noted that while workers contribute to the social programs during all their years of employment, the money that goes to the military comes straight out of the pockets of taxpayers before being wasted in ways that scarcely benefit the average citizen unless one seriously thinks that folks over in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan actually do threaten the survival of the United States of America.

I was in a Virginia supermarket the other day checking out when the woman behind the cash register in a perky voice asked me “Will you give $5 to support our troops?” I responded “No. Our troops already get way too much of our money.” She replied, “Hee, hee that’s a funny joke” and I said “It’s not a joke.” Her face dropped and she signaled to her boss over in customer service and asked her to take over, saying that I had been rude.

If there is any group in the United States that exceeds the sheer greed of our politicians it is the military, which believes itself to be “entitled” as a consequence of its role in the global war on terror. I am a veteran who began service in a largely draftee army in which we were paid “twenty-one dollars a day once a month” as the old World War 2 song goes. When we got out, the GI Bill gave us $175 a month to go back to college, which did not cover much.

Today’s United States has 2,083,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen on active duty plus reserves. Now that the military is an all-volunteer rather than a conscript force, it is understandable that pay and benefits should be close to or equivalent to civilian pay scales. Currently, a sergeant first class with 10 years in service gets paid $3968 a month. A captain with ten years gets $6271. That amounts to $47,616 and $75,252 a year respectively plus healthcare, food, housing, cost of living increases and bonuses to include combat pay.

Though there are several options for retirement, generally speaking a soldier, sailor Marine or airman can retire after 20 years with half of his or her final “high three” pay as a pension, which means an 18-year-old who enlists right out of high school will be 38 and if he or she makes sergeant first class (E-7) he or she will be collecting $2338 a month or more for a rest of his or her life adjusted for cost of living,

Many Americans would be astonished at the pensions that general officers and admirals receive, particularly since 80% of them also land in “retirement” generously remunerated positions with defense contractors either in active positions soliciting new contracts from their former peers or sitting on boards. General David Petraeus, whom The Nation describes as the “general who lost two wars,” pulls in a pension of $220,000 even though he was forced to resign as CIA Director due to passing classified information to his mistress. He is also chairman of a New York City based company KKR Global, which is part of a private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts. He reportedly is paid in six figures plus bonuses for “oversee[ing] the institute’s thought leadership platform focused on geopolitical and macro-economic trends, as well as environmental, social, and governance issues.”

It apparently is difficult to take money away from general and flag officers. An Air Force four-star general named Arthur Lichte was reduced in rank to a two-star in 2017 after he was found guilty of having raped a lower ranking woman officer. His pension went down from $216,000 to $156,000 due to the reduction. Normally, however, America’s 1,000 general and flag officers can look forward to comfortable retirements.

But on top of that rather generous bit of cash there are the considerable other benefits, as the old recruiting sergeants would put it, the “bennies.” Military retirees can receive full tuition and expenses at a college or technical school if they choose to go back to school. This is why one sees so many ads for online universities on television – they are trolling for soldier dollars knowing that it’s free money. The retiree will also have access to heavily subsidized medical care for him or herself plus family. The medical care is a significant bonus under the Tricare system, which describes itself on its website as “the gold standard for medical coverage, [that] is government managed health insurance.” A friend who is retired recently had a hip replacement operation that would have cost $39,000 for only a few hundred dollars through Tricare.

What is significant is that even enlisted military personnel can start a second career on top of their pension, given that many of them are still in their thirties. Some that have security clearances can jump into highly paid jobs with defense contractors immediately while others also find places in the bureaucracy with the Department of Homeland Security. Working for the government twice is called “double dipping.”

Some would argue that military personnel deserve what they get because the jobs are by their very nature dangerous, sometimes fatal. Indeed, the number of maimed and PTSD-afflicted soldiers returning from the endless wars is a national tragedy and caring for them should be a top priority. But the truth is that only a very small fraction, by some estimates far less than 20% of Army and Marine personnel in so-called “combat arms,” ever are in danger. Air Force and Navy personnel rarely experience combat at all apart from bombing targets far below or launching cruise missiles against Syrians. It is true that given the volatile nature of war against insurgents in places like Afghanistan many soldiers in support roles can come under fire, but it is far from normal and most men and women in service never experience a gun fired in anger.

Some numbers-crunchers in the Pentagon have already raised the alarm that the current pay, benefits and retirement levels for military personnel is unsustainable if the United States continues its worldwide mission against terrorists and allegedly rogue regimes. And it is also unsustainable if the U.S. seeks to return to a constitutional arrangement whereby the nation is actually defended by its military, not subordinated to it and being bankrupted by its costs.

 
Time to question the loyalty of some legislators and judges
🔊 Listen RSS

I have a number of times discussed how the U.S. and other governments have legislated and otherwise promoted Jewish and Israeli interests in ways that most people would find unacceptable if they were aware of what exactly has been going on. Here in the United States, special Medicare coverage and immigration status have been granted, often concealed in other legislation, to benefit holocaust survivors and Russian Jews seeking to emigrate. State legislatures and the U.S. Congress have meanwhile been working hard to pass legislation that blocks and even criminalizes the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protests against Israeli behavior while universities have been banning anti-Israel demonstrators and groups on campus because they apparently are offensive to the sensitivities of some Jewish students.

The latest outrage against the First Amendment comes from South Carolina, the home state of the arch-Zionist poseur and United Nations Ambassador extraordinary Nikki Haley. A new hate speech law was inserted in the state’s recently approved annual budget. The legislation borrows from the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which proscribes speech that “demonizes” or applies “double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” as anti-Semitic.

While the State Department definition is a guideline, the South Carolina’s specific inclusion of it in legislation makes explicit that criticism of Israel as hate speech can be subject to criminal penalties. It also is binding on all the states universities and educational institutions.

The law was promoted by Alan Clemmons, a Mormon legislator who has led numerous delegations to Israel and who has been described as “Israel’s biggest supporter in a U.S. state legislature.”

Supporters of the Bill of Rights have been universally opposed to the bill, but pro-Israel groups have praised the initiative and are expecting a “new wave” of legislation all across the United States blocking any criticism of the self-described Jewish State. The Brandeis Center has enthused

“This bill gives South Carolina the tools to protect Jewish students’ and all South Carolina students’ right to a learning environment free of unlawful discrimination. We are hoping this momentous step will result in another national wave to, once and for all, begin defeating rising anti-Semitism.”

Other states will undoubtedly follow the South Carolina lead, so it would appear that any criticism of Israel will become illegal in the public square if the many friends of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have their way. And they generally do get what they want from the federal level all the way down to the states and local communities, so be prepared.

Israel also is regularly exploiting the American legal system to punish countries that it has defined as its enemies. Its government sponsored lawfare organization called Shurat Hadin has initiated a number of lawsuits in U.S. courts to punish Palestinians and Iranians. Ironically, it is currently seeking to demonstrate that Hamas is committing war crimes in Gaza, where Israel has been using army snipers to kill unarmed demonstrators.

Other lawsuits filed on behalf of mostly Jewish Americans in U.S. courts seeking compensation from Iranians and Palestinians are also pending, with the tribunals in Manhattan particularly prone to being sympathetic to the plaintiffs. Last week, at the Federal Court for the Southern District of Manhattan, Judge George Daniels issued a default judgment relating to his 2011 determination that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to the hundreds of family members of victims who are named in the case. The judge ordered Iran to pay $6 billion in compensation – “$12,500,000 per spouse, $8,500,000 per parent, $8,500,000 per child, and $4,250,000 per sibling” to the families and estates of the deceased. A 4.96 annual interest rate will also be applied to the amount, starting from September 11, 2001 to the date of the judgement.”

Normally foreign governments have what is referred to as sovereign immunity which prevents their being sued, but that all changed in the U.S. with the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) of 2016, which permitted individual lawsuits in any federal court involving any government’s alleged participation in international acts of “terrorism.” This has resulted in a series of multi-billion-dollar lawsuits against Iran, the Palestinians and also Saudi Arabia. Many of the lawsuits have Israeli citizens as plaintiffs, suing in American courts.

Though the lawsuit claimed, and Judge Daniels agreed, that Tehran had supported the 9/11 hijackers with training and other assistance, most authorities would question that judgement. Many would consider it to be ludicrous as Iranian Shi’ites were considered to be kill-on-sight heretics by al-Qaeda. The idea that Iran was somehow involved in 9/11 is in reality a ridiculous Israel Lobby contrivance that was first floated in 2015 by ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, a renowned Zionist stooge and conspiracy theorist who is viewed by many as not completely in possession of all his marbles.

Indeed, it is far more plausible that Israel was involved in 9/11 than was Iran. Israel operated a massive spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. and several of its intelligence officers were seen in Jersey City to be filming themselves while dancing and cavorting in delight as the twin towers went down, suggesting some prior knowledge.

But, of course, no one would be allowed to sue Israel in an American court. The 9/11 Commission failed to examine the case against Israel even though it allegedly sought to compile a “full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding” the attacks, but it did investigate the possible ties to Iran. It found the only evidence of any Iranian support to consist of certain 9/11 hijackers travelling through Iran on their way to Afghanistan without having their passports stamped.

In his Farewell Address President George Washington warned that

 
The nuclear agreement with Iran is worth preserving
🔊 Listen RSS

The analysis of the recent exchanges between French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump suggest that Washington is most likely about to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran that was signed by the U.S. and five other governments in July 2015. The decision will likely be made public before the deadline on re-ratifying the agreement, which is May 12th. As one informed observer has noted, “a train wreck is probably coming, with very damaging consequences that are hard to predict.”

Macron was polite, both in his meeting with Trump and during his speech before Congress, not hammering on the unimaginable awfulness of the White House decision while also offering an alternative, i.e. cooperation with the United States to improve the nuclear agreement while also supporting the principle that it is worth saving. Whether that subtle nudge, coupled with a pledge that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon, will be enough to change minds either in Congress or the White House is questionable as the unfortunate truth is that going to war with Iran is popular among the policy makers and media for the usual reason: it is a major foreign policy objective of the Israeli government and its powerful U.S. lobby.

Iran has been vilified for decades in the American media and it rarely gets a fair hearing anywhere, even when its behavior has not been particularly objectionable. Currently, it is regularly demonized by the Israelis and their supporters over its apparent plan to create an arc of Shi’a states extending through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, a so-called “land bridge” to the Mediterranean Sea. What that would accomplish exactly has never really been made clear and it assumes that the Syrians and Iraqis would happily surrender their sovereignty to further the project.

The Iranians for their part have made it clear that no modification of the agreement is possible. They note, correctly, that the JCPOA was not a bilateral commitment made between Tehran and Washington. It also included as signatories Russia, China, France, Britain and the European Union and was ratified by the United Nations (P5+1). They and others also have noted that U.S. exit from the agreement will mean that other nations will negotiate with Washington with the understanding that a legal commitment entered into by the President of the United States cannot be trusted after he is out of office.

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to non-weapons level of 3.67%. Iran also pledged not to build any new heavy-water facilities and to limit uranium-enrichment activities for research and medical purposes to a plant using old technology centrifuges for a period of 10 years. To guarantee compliance with the agreement, Iran accepted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal that it have highly intrusive access by a team of unannounced inspectors of all the country’s nuclear facilities. In return, Iran was to receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council sanctions, an aspect of the agreement that the United States has never fully complied with.

Trump’s objection to the agreement is that it is a “bad deal” that virtually guarantees that Iran will have a nuclear weapon somewhere down the road. There is, however, no factual basis for that claim and that it is being made at all is largely reflective of Israeli and Israel Lobby propaganda. It is, on the contrary, an American interest not to have another nuclear proliferator in the Middle East in addition to Israel, which Washington has never dared to confront on the issue. The JCPOA agreement guarantees that Iran will not work to develop a weapon for at least ten years which is a considerable benefit considering that Tehran, if it had chosen to initiate such a program, could easily have had breakout capability in one year.

The U.S. and Israel are also expressing concern about Iranian ballistic missile capability. Again, ballistic missiles would appear to be a weapon that Israel alone seeks to monopolize in its neighborhood because it seeks to regard itself as uniquely threatened, that is, always the victim. It is an argument that sells well in the U.S. Congress and in the media, which has apparently also obtained traction in the White House. It is nevertheless a fake argument contrived by the Israelis. The missiles under development do not in any way threaten the United States and they were not in any event part of the agreement and should not be considered a deal breaker.

Ironically, the JCPOA is approved of by most Americans because it prevents the development of yet another potentially hostile nuclear armed power in a volatile part of the world. American Jews, in fact, support it more than other Americans, according to opinion polls. Even the generals in the Pentagon favor continuing it as do U.S. close allies Germany, France and Britain. The ability of Israel and its Lobby to dominate U.S. foreign policy formulation in certain areas is thereby exposed for what it is: sheer manipulation of our system of government by a small group dedicated to the interests of a foreign government using money and the political access that money buys to achieve that objective.

Those who argue that the withdrawal of the U.S. from JCPOA will be countered by the continued cooperation of the other signatories to the agreement are, one might unfortunately note, somewhat delusional. The U.S. has tremendous leverage in financial markets. If it chooses to sanction Iran over its missiles while also re-introducing the old sanctions relating to the nuclear developments, it would be a brave European or Asian banker who would risk being blocked out of the American market by lending money or selling certain prohibited goods to the Iranians. The United States could force the entire JCPOA quid pro quo agreement to collapse, and that might be precisely what the White House intends to do.

Add into the equation the clearly expressed and oft-times repeated Israeli intention to begin a war with Iran, starting in Syria, sooner rather than later, a disaster for American foreign policy is developing that might well make Iraq and Afghanistan look like cake walks. Iran will surely strike back in response either to the termination of the JCPOA or to Israeli bombing of its militiamen and surrogates in Syria. America forces in the region will surely be sucked into the conflict by Israel and will wind up taking the fall. Someone should tell Donald Trump that there are real world consequences for breaking agreements and rattling sabers. But who will tell him? Will it be John Bolton or Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo? I doubt it.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Iran, JCPOA 
Think of Nikki Haley for President!
🔊 Listen RSS

The musical chairs playing out among the senior officials that make up the President Donald Trump White House team would be amusing to watch but for the genuine damage that it is doing to the United States. The lack of any coherence in policy means that the State Department now has diplomats that do not believe in diplomacy and environment agency heads that do not believe in protecting the environment. It also means that well-funded and disciplined lobbies and pressure groups are having a field day, befuddling ignorant administrators with their “fact sheets” and successfully promoting policies that benefit no one but themselves.

In the Trumpean world of all-the-time-stupid, there is, however, one individual who stands out for her complete inability to perceive anything beyond threats of unrelenting violence combined with adherence to policies that have already proven to be catastrophic. That person is our own Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who surfaced in the news lately after she unilaterally and evidently prematurely announced sanctions on Russia. When the White House suggested that she might have been “confused” she responded that “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” This ignited a firestorm among the Trump haters, lauding Haley as a strong and self-confident woman for standing up to the White House male bullies while also suggesting that the hapless Administration had not bothered to inform one of its senior diplomats of a policy change. It also produced a flurry of Haley for higher office tweets based on what was described as her “brilliant riposte” to the president.

One over-the-top bit of effusion from a former Haley aide even suggested that her “deft rebuttal” emphasizes her qualities, enthusing that “What distinguishes her from the star-struck sycophants in the White House is that she understands the intersection of strong leadership and public service, where great things happen” and placing her on what is being promoted as the short list of future presidential candidates.

For sure, neocon barking dog Bill Kristol has for years been promoting Haley for president, a sign that something is up as he was previously the one who “discovered” Sarah Palin. Indeed, the similarities between the two women are readily observable. Neither is very cerebral or much given to make any attempt to understand an adversary’s point of view; both are reflexively aggressive and dismissive when dealing with foreigners and domestic critics; both are passionately anti-Russian and pro-Israeli. And Kristol is not alone in his advocacy. Haley regularly receives praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard.

The greater problem right now is that Nikki Haley is America’s face to the international community, even more than the Secretary of State. She has used her bully pulpit to do just that, i.e. bully, and she is ugly America personified, having apparently decided that something called American Exceptionalism gives her license to say and do whatever she wants at the United Nations. In her mind, the United States can do what it wants globally because it has a God-given right to do so, a viewpoint that doesn’t go down well with many countries that believe that they have a legal and moral right to be left alone and remain exempt from America’s all too frequent military interventions.

Nikki Haley sees things differently, however. During her 15 months at the United Nations she has been instrumental in cutting funding for programs that she disapproves of and has repeatedly threatened military action against countries that disagree with U.S. policies. Most recently, in the wake of the U.S. cruise missile attack against Syria, she announced that the action was potentially only the first step. She declared that Washington was “locked and loaded,” prepared to exercise more lethal military options if Syria and its Russian and Iranian supporters did not cease and desist from the use of chemical weapons. Ironically, the cruise missile attack was carried out even though the White House had no clue as to what had actually happened and it now turns out that the entire story, spread by the terrorist groups in Syria and their mouthpieces, has begun to unravel. Will Nikki Haley apologize? I would suspect that if she doesn’t do confusion she doesn’t do apologies either.

Haley, who had no foreign policy experience of any kind prior to assuming office, relies on a gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts” to help shape her public utterances, which are often not cleared with the State Department, where she is at least nominally employed. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Unfortunately, being a neocon mouthpiece makes her particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. She has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office with only minimal vetting by the Trump Administration, and, as in the recent imbroglio over her “confusion,” it is never quite clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House.

Haley has her own foreign policy. She has declared that Russia “is not, will not be our friend” and has lately described the Russians as having their hands covered with the blood of Syrian children. From the start of her time at the U.N., Haley has made it clear that she is neoconservatism personified and she has done nothing since to change that impression. In December 2017 she warned the U.N. that she was “taking names” and threatened retaliation against any country that was so “disrespectful” as to dare to vote against Washington’s disastrous recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which she also helped to bring about.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley first became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel through her signing of a bill punishing supporters of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Immediately upon taking office at the United Nations she complained that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel” and vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was feted and honored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She was also greeted by rounds of applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March, saying “When I come to AIPAC I am with friends.”

 
Israel continues to wag the dog for Middle Eastern wars
🔊 Listen RSS

In March 2003, Pat Buchanan wrote a groundbreaking article entitled “Whose War?” in opposition to the Bush Administration fueled growing hysteria over Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which was producing demands for an armed intervention to disarm him. Buchanan rightly identified a number of prominent Jewish officials and journalists closely tied to the Israel Lobby as the principal driving force behind the rush to go to war.

Buchanan is still a powerful voice arguing against the war fever in its 2018 manifestation, which is all too similar to the hysteria prevailing in 2003. But if he were writing his article today, even though those demanding war are pretty much the same people with the same names including Podhoretz, Krauthammer, Kristol, Kagan, Brooks and Boot, he would have to broaden his purview to ask “Whose Wars?” as it is no longer a simple case of going after one third-world autocrat and overthrowing him, we are now instead being urged to attack Syria, Iran and even nuclear superpower Russia due to Moscow’s support of Damascus and its friendship with Tehran.

Lest there be any confusion, the same country keeps surfacing as a central player in the lead-up to America’s regime-change wars, which now have included an illegal attack on Syria, the second such intervention in the past year. That nation is Israel.

Israel’s fingerprints are all over American interventionism, reflecting Jewish power in the United States and the presence of a plethora of well-funded Israel-centric lobbies, think tanks and media outlets. Just last week, the only persistent voice in the mainstream media who, prior to Trump’s cruise missile attack, asked why on earth the United States should be contemplating a major power confrontation that could end life on this planet as we know it over Syria, where Washington has no vital interests, was Tucker Carlson of Fox News. His memorable monologue blasting the “talk show generals” who have “no idea of what is really happening” skewered the pretexts for war being bandied about in spite of the lack of any actual threat directed against the United States or a vital national interest is a model for what the Fourth Estate should be doing but isn’t. Carlson later followed up with an interview of Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. He asked what might be an American national interest that would mandate military involvement in Syria. Wicker hardly hesitated before responding, “If you care about Israel, you have to be interested in what’s going on in Syria.”

Israel indeed. And Israel is not at all shy about what it wants to happen, namely a war in Syria targeting both Damascus and Tehran, leading to a much bigger war with the Iranians. Fought by Uncle Sam, to be sure, as Jewish lives are far too precious to waste.

Tel Aviv has long been feeding the propaganda line relating to why war with Syria and Iran are desirable. Gilad Erdan, who is Netanyahu’s deputy in Likud and serves as Public Security Minister, addressed the latest alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, saying “The shocking attack shows the incredible international hypocrisy of the international community focusing on Israel confronting the terrorist organization Hamas that is sending civilians to our [border] fence, when dozens are being killed in Syria every day. It shows the need for strengthening the presence of Americans and other international forces, because without them the genocide we are seeing will only intensify.”

Construction Minister Yoav Galant, a former IDF major-general and a security figure close to Netanyahu, also called for military action against the Syrian leader. “Assad is the angel of death, and the world would be better without him.”

The compassion for Syrian civilians, being expressed both in Washington and in Tel Aviv, is, of course, a joke. Donald Trump and John Bolton couldn’t care less about Syrian babies and if Trump were genuinely concerned about civilian deaths due to war crimes by governments the first country he would attack would be Israel. Erdan and Galant, meanwhile, serve in a government that has recently shot and killed or injured 2,000 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, in some cases involving snipers having fun by shooting boys running away and cheering when they were successful, so their hypocrisy is evident.

Israel has also been busy at creating a pretext for using Syria as a stepping stone to Iran itself. The Associated Press is reporting comments by Yossi Cohen, head of Mossad, who claims to be “100 percent certain” that Iran remains committed to developing a nuclear bomb, which is the old “weapons of mass destruction” ploy used to jumpstart the Iraq War. Israel’s bombing attack on Syria that took place one day after the reports of the alleged chemical weapon incident, deliberately targeted Iranians, killing 7 at a military base near Damascus. Iran has promised to respond, guaranteeing that the conflict will expand and draw in both regional and foreign players, definitely including the United States.

More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the U.S., the U.K, and France for bombing Syria, an operation that was coordinated in advance with Israel by National Security Advisor John Bolton. Netanyahu went on to assert that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must understand that “his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endangers Syria,” an analysis of the situation which is, of course, self-serving bullshit.

Unfortunately, Israel has a receptive quasi-American audience in the team that Donald Trump has pulled together under his son in law Jared Kushner to deal with the Middle East. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is supposed to represent U.S. interests, has become adept at repeating Israeli Foreign Ministry talking points as if they were American policy, while Chief Negotiator Jason Greenblatt has warned demonstrating Gazans to avoid provoking Israel while also failing to advise the Israeli Army that shooting unarmed protesters just might be considered unacceptable.

 
Skripalgate is the latest chapter in Russiagate
🔊 Listen RSS

At least since the time of Marcus Tullius Cicero in the late Roman Republic everyone has certainly understood that politicians lie all the time. To be sure, President Donald Trump has been exceptional in that he has followed through on some of the promises he made in his campaign, insisting periodically that he has to do what he said he would do. Unfortunately, those choices he has made to demonstrate his accountability to his supporters have been terrible, including moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, threatening to end the Iran nuclear agreement and building a wall along the Mexican border. Following through on some other pledges has been less consistent. He has increased U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and turned the war over to the generals while also faltering in his promise to improve relations with Russia. The potential breakthrough offered by promising exchanges during phone calls to Vladimir Putin have been negated by subsequent threats, sanctions and expulsions to satisfy hysterical congressmen and the media.

Concerning Syria, Trump last Tuesday said “I want to get out,” promising to pull U.S. troops out very soon, but was quickly brought to heel by pressure from Congress and a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that compelled him to change his mind within 24 hours. Israel wants chaos in Syria and its instrument of choice is the American military. Netanyahu has Congress to do his bidding and, for whatever reason, appears to also have Trump under his thumb.

So Donald Trump turns out to be a pretty good liar, even if one has to take into account the fact that he frequently has no idea what he is talking about. But the prize for lying at a high level has to go to the British as related to what has been going on both in the Middle East, with Russia, and also in Britain itself. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was the first master at dissimulation in 2002 when his intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove told him that the Bush White House had decided on war and “the intelligence and facts were being around the policy” regarding Iraq, meaning that it was ignoring the information that did not support its desire to create a pretext for invading the country and removing Saddam Hussein. Blair presumably could have derailed the ill-fated invasion by refusing to go along with the venture, which was a war crime, but instead he fully supported George W. Bush in the attack and thereby had a hand in America’s worst foreign policy disaster ever. In 2016 an official British government inquiry determined that Bush and Blair had indeed together rushed to war. The Global Establishment has nevertheless rewarded Tony Blair for his loyalty with Clintonesque generosity. He has enjoyed a number of well-paid sinecures and is now worth in excess of $100 million.

Moving along to the present, we have Prime Minister Theresa May. May has been in serious trouble, politically speaking. After losses suffered in the recent parliamentary elections, she is clinging to power and is increasingly unpopular even within her own Conservative Party. So what do you do when you are in trouble at home? You create a foreign crisis that you have to deal with. If you are someone as venal as former American President and bottom feeder Bill Clinton you accomplish that end by firing off a few cruise missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan and at some mud huts in Afghanistan. If you are Theresa May, you up the ante considerably, coming up with a powerful enemy who is threatening you, enabling you to appear both resolute and strong in confronting a formidable foe. That is precisely what we have been seeing over the past month relating to the alleged poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

There is quite a bit that is odd about the Skripal case. Even the increasingly neoconnish Guardian newspaper has conceded that “the British case [against Russia] has so far relied more heavily in public on circumstantial evidence and secret intelligence.” And secret intelligence, so called, has all too often been the last refuge of a scoundrel whenever a government is selling snake oil to the public. In this case, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rushed to judgement on Russia less than forty-eight hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury England, too soon for any chemical analysis of the alleged poisoning to have taken place.

Theresa May addressed Parliament shortly thereafter to blame the Kremlin and demand a Russian official response to the event in 36 hours, even though she had to prevaricate significantly, saying that the apparent poisoning was “very likely” caused by a made-in-Russia nerve agent referred to by its generic name Novichok. She nevertheless rallied the backbenchers in Parliament, who responded with a lot of hearty “Hear! Hear!” endorsements. When Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn attempted to slow the express train down by suggesting that it might be wise to wait in see what the police investigation uncovered, he was hooted down. The British media was soon on board with a vengeance, spreading the government line that such a highly sensitive operation would require the approval of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself. The expulsion of Russian diplomats soon followed.

One of the strangest aspects of the Skripal case is what is going on now that daughter Yulia will soon be out of the hospital and Sergei is no longer in critical condition. A cousin Viktoria Skripal has offered to fly in from Moscow to provide support for her family, but it is believed that she will not be able to receive a visa from the British. Russian television aired a recording of a phone call between the two cousins in which Yulia said that she was disoriented but improving and that neither she nor her father had suffered permanent damage from the poisoning. The call ended abruptly and Viktoria Skripal believes that it was scripted by the British government on a controlled phone line.

Repeated requests by Russia to obtain a sample of the alleged nerve agent for testing have been rejected by the British government in spite of the fact that a military grade nerve agent would have surely killed both the Skripals as well as anyone else within 100 yards. As the latest British account of the location of the alleged poison places it on the door handle of the Scripals’ residence, the timetable element is also unconvincing. That means that the two would have spent three hours, including a stop at a pub and lunch, before succumbing on a park bench. Military grade nerve agents kill instantly.

A request to have the testing done by the politically neutral Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is in progress, but there is little enthusiasm from the British side, which does not want a Russian observer to participate in the process. The May government has already established its own narrative and certainly would have plenty to hide if the whole affair turns out to be fabricated. And fabricated it might have been as the nerve agent, if it actually exists, could have been manufactured almost anywhere.

 
The United States should cut all ties with war criminal Israel
🔊 Listen RSS

If you want to understand what the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States really means consider the fact that Israeli Army snipers shot dead seventeen unarmed and largely peaceful Gazan demonstrators on Good Friday without a squeak coming out of the White House or State Department. Some of the protesters were shot in the back while running away, while another 1,000 Palestinians were wounded, an estimated 750 by gunfire, the remainder injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

The offense committed by the Gazan protesters that has earned them a death sentence was coming too close to the Israeli containment fence that has turned the Gaza strip into the world’s largest outdoor prison. President Donald Trump’s chief Middle East negotiator David Greenblatt described the protest as “a hostile march on the Israel-Gaza border…inciting violence against Israel.” And Nikki Haley at the U.N. has also used the U.S. veto to block any independent inquiry into the violence, demonstrating once again that the White House team is little more than Israel’s echo chamber. America’s enabling of the brutal reality that is today’s Israel makes it fully complicit in the war crimes carried out against the helpless and hapless Palestinian people.

So where was the outrage in the American media about the massacre of civilians? Characteristically, Israel portrays itself as somehow a victim and the U.S. media, when it bothers to report about dead Palestinians at all, picks up on that line. The Jewish State is portrayed as always endangered and struggling to survive even though it is the nuclear armed regional superpower that is only threatened because of its own criminal behavior. And even when it commits what are indisputable war crimes like the use of lethal force against an unarmed civilian population, the Jewish Lobby and its media accomplices are quick to take up the victimhood refrain.

Last week, the Israeli government described the protests an “an organized terrorist operation” while Gazans are dehumanized by claims that they act under the direction of evil Hamas to dig tunnels and rain down bottle rockets on hapless Israeli civilians. The reality is, however, quite different. It is the Gazans who have been subjected to murderous periodic incursions by the Israeli army, a procedure that Israel refers to as “mowing the grass,” a brutal exercise intended to keep the Palestinians terrified and docile.

The story of what happened in Gaza on Friday had largely disappeared from the U.S. media by Sunday. On Saturday, The New York Times reported the most recent violence this way: “…some began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence, the Israelis responded with tear gas and gunfire.” Get it? The Palestinians started it all, according to Israeli sources, by throwing things at the fence and forcing the poor victimized Israeli soldiers to respond with gunfire, presumably as self-defense. The Times also repeated Israel’s uncorroborated claims that there were gunmen active on the Gazan side, but given the disparity in numbers killed and injured – zero on the Israeli side of the fence – the Palestinian shooters must have been using blanks. Or they never existed at all.

The Israelis reportedly also responded to “suspicious figures” on the Gazan side with rounds from tanks, killing, among others, a farmer far from the demonstrations who was working his field. Israeli warplanes and helicopters also joined in the fun, attacking targets on the Palestinian side. Drones flew over the demonstrators, spraying tear gas down on them. One recalls that the major Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014 included vignettes of Israeli families picnicking on the high ground overlooking the assault, enjoying the spectacle while observing the light-and-sound show that accompanied the carnage. At that time, more than 2,000 Gazans were killed and nearly 11,000 were wounded, including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were permanently disabled.. If the current slaughter in Gaza continues, it would be a shame to forego the entertainment value of a good massacre right on one’s doorstep.

The reliably neocon Washington Post also framed the conflict as if Israel were behaving in a restrained fashion, leading off in its coverage with “Israel’s military warned Saturday it will step up its response to violence on the Gaza border if it continues…” You see, it’s the unarmed Palestinians who are creating the “violence.” Israel is the victim acting in self-defense.

The newspaper coverage was supplemented by television accounts of what had taken place. ABC News described “violent clashes,” implying that two somewhat equal sides were engaged in the fighting, even though the lethal force was only employed by Israel against an unarmed civilian population.

The backstory to the killing is what should disturb every American citizen. When it comes to disregard for United States national sovereignty and interests, the Israelis and their amen chorus in Washington have dug a deep, dark hole and the U.S. Congress and White House have obligingly jumped right in. Since June 8, 1967, when the Israelis massacred the crew of the U.S.S. Liberty, Israel has realized it could do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, wherever it wants, any time it wants, to anybody…including American servicemen, and the U.S. would do nothing.

Let me speak plainly. The existence of many good Israelis to who oppose their own government’s policies notwithstanding, the current Israel is an evil place that Americans should be condemning, not praising. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not be receiving 29 standing ovations from Congress. He should be rotting in jail. Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy and dehumanization of the Palestinian people is nothing to be proud of. That the United States is giving this band of racist war criminals billions of dollars every year is a travesty. That the reputation of American has been besmirched worldwide because of its reflexive support of anything and everything that this rogue regime does is a national disgrace.

Gazans are demonstrating in part because they are starving. They have no clean drinking water because Israel has destroyed the purification plants as part of a deliberate policy to make life in the Strip so miserable that everyone will leave or die in place. And even leaving is problematical as Israel controls the border and will not let Palestinians enter or depart. It also controls the Mediterranean Sea access to Gaza. Fisherman go out a short distance from the shore to bring in a meager catch. If they go any farther they are shot dead by the Israeli Navy.

Hospitals, schools and power stations in Gaza are routinely bombed in Israel’s frequent reprisal actions against what Netanyahu chooses to describe as aggressive moves by Hamas. Such claims are bogus as Israel enjoys a monopoly of force and is never hesitant to use it.

 
Time to find out if CIA interfered in the 2016 election
🔊 Listen RSS

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan, a Barack Obama friend and protégé as well as a current paid contributor for NBC and MSNBC, has blasted President Donald Trump for congratulating President Vladimir Putin over his victory in recent Russian national elections. He said that the U.S. President is “afraid of the president of Russia” and that the Kremlin “may have something on him personally. The fact that he has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin …continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear.”

It is an indication of how low we have sunk as a nation that a possible war criminal like Brennan can feel free to use his former official status as a bully pulpit to claim that someone is a foreign spy without any real pushback or objection from the talking heads and billionaire manipulators that unfortunately run our country. If Trump is actually being blackmailed, as Brennan implies, what evidence is there for that? One might reasonably conclude that Brennan and his associates are actually angry because Trump has had the temerity to try to improve relations with Russia.

It is ironic that when President Trump does something right he gets assailed by the same crowd that piles on when he does something stupid, leading to the conclusion that unless The Donald is attacking another country, when he is lauded as becoming truly presidential, he cannot ever win with the inside the Beltway Establishment crowd. Brennan and a supporting cast of dissimulating former intelligence chiefs opposed Trump from the git-go and were perfectly willing to make things up to support Hillary and the status quo that she represented. It was, of course, a status quo that greatly and personally benefited that ex-government crowd which by now might well be described as the proverbial Deep State.

The claim that Trump is a Russian agent is not a new one since it is an easy mark to allege something that you don’t have to prove. During the campaign, one was frequently confronted on the television by the humorless stare of the malignant Michael Morell, former acting CIA Director, who wrote in a mind numbing August 2016 op-ed how he was proud to support Hillary Clinton because of her “commitment to our nation’s security: her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all: whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.” Per Morell, she was a “proponent of a more aggressive approach [in Syria], one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold…”

But Morell saved his finest vitriol for Donald Trump, observing how Vladimir Putin, a wily ex-career intelligence officer “trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them” obtained the services of one fairly obscure American businessman named Trump without even physically meeting him. Morell, given his broad experience as an analyst and desk jockey, notes, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” An “unwitting agent” is a contradiction in terms, but one wouldn’t expect Morell to know that. Nor would John Brennan, who was also an analyst and desk jockey before he was elevated by an equally witless President Barack Obama.

So Morell is by his own words clearly an idiot, which explains a lot about what is wrong with CIA and is probably why he is now a consultant with CBS News instead of serving as Agency Director under the beneficent gaze of President Hillary Clinton.

Well, Trump’s fractured foreign policy aside, I have some real problems with folks like Michael Morell and John Brennan throwing stones. Both can be reasonably described as war criminals due to what they did during the war on terror and also as major subverters of the Constitution of the United States that has emerged as part of the saga of the 2016 election, the outcome of which, ironically, is being blamed on the Russians.

Back in 2013 John Brennan, then Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, had a difficult time with the Senate Intelligence Committee explaining some things that he did when he was still working at CIA. He was predictably attacked by some senators concerned over the expanding drone program, which he supervised; over CIA torture; for the kill lists that he helped manage; and regarding the pervasive government secrecy, which he surely condoned to cover up the questionable nature of the assassination lists and the drones. Not at all surprisingly, he was forced to defend the policies of the administration that he was then serving in, claiming that the United States is “at war with al-Qaeda.” But he did cite his basic disagreement with the former CIA interrogation policies and expressed his surprise at learning that enhanced interrogation, which he refused to label torture because he is “no lawyer,” had not provided any unique or actionable information. He claimed that he had only “raised serious questions” in his own mind on the interrogation issue after reading the 525 page summary of the 6,000 page report prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee which detailed the failure of the Agency program. Brennan’s reaction, however, suggested at a minimum that he had read only the rebuttal material produced by CIA that had deliberately inflated the value of the intelligence produced.

Surprisingly the subject of rendition, which Brennan must surely have been involved with while at CIA, hardly surfaced though two other interesting snippets emerged from the questioning. One was his confirmation that the government has its own secret list of innocent civilians killed by drones while at the same time contradicting himself by maintaining that the program does not actually exist and that if even if it did exist such fatalities do not occur. And more directly relevant to Brennan himself, Senator John D. Rockefeller provided an insight into the classified sections of the Senate report on CIA torture, mentioning that the enhanced interrogation program was both “managed incompetently” and “corrupted by personnel with pecuniary conflicts of interest.” One would certainly like to learn more about the presumed contractors who profited corruptly from waterboarding and one would like to know if they were in any way punished, an interesting sidebar as Brennan has a number of times spoken about the need for accountability.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

One of the most discouraging aspects of the musical chairs being played among the members of the White House inner circle is that every change reflects an inexorable move to the right in foreign policy, which means that the interventionists are back without anyone at the White House level remaining to say “no.” President Donald Trump, for all his international experience as a businessman, is a novice at the step-by-step process required in diplomacy and in the development of a coherent foreign policy, so he is inevitably being directed by individuals who have long American global leadership by force if necessary.

The resurgence of the hawks is facilitated by Donald Trump’s own inclinations. He likes to see himself as a man of action and a leader, which inclines him to be impulsive, some might even say reckless. He is convinced that he can enter into negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with virtually no preparations and make a deal that will somehow end the crisis over that nation’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, for example. In so doing, he is being encouraged by his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his Pentagon chief James Mattis, who believe that the United States can somehow prevail in a preemptive war with the Koreans if that should become necessary. The enormous collateral damage to South Korea and even Japan is something that Washington planners somehow seem to miss in their calculations.

The recent shifts in the cabinet have Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. A leading hawk, he was first in his class of 1986 at the United States Military Academy but found himself as a junior officer with no real war to fight. He spent six years in uniform before resigning, never having seen combat, making war an abstraction for him. He went to Harvard Law and then into politics where he became a Tea Party congressman, eventually becoming a leader of that caucus when it stopped being Libertarian and lurched rightwards. He has since marketed himself as a fearless soldier in the war against terrorism and rogue states, in which category he includes both Iran and Russia.

Pompeo was not popular at the CIA because he enforced a uniformity of thinking that was anathema for intelligence professionals dedicated to collecting solid information and using it to produce sound analysis of developments worldwide. Pompeo, an ardent supporter of Israel and one of the government’s leading Iran haters, has been regularly threatening Iran while at the Agency and will no doubt find plenty of support at State from Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East David Satterfield, a former top adviser of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Pompeo has proven himself more than willing to manipulate intelligence produce the result he desires. Last year, he declassified and then cherry picked documents recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that suggested that al-Qaeda had ties with Iran. The move was coordinated with simultaneous White House steps to prepare Congress and the public for a withdrawal from the Iran nuclear arms agreement. The documents were initially released to a journal produced by the neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Pompeo has a number of times spoken, to guarantee wide exposure in all the right places.

Pompeo’s arrival might only be the first of several other high-level moves by the White House. Like the rumors that preceded the firing of Secretary of State Tillerson two weeks ago, there have been recurrent suggestions that McMaster will be the next to go as he reportedly is too moderate for the president and has also been accused of being anti-Israeli, the kiss of death in Washington. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton has been a frequent visitor at the White House and it is believed that he is the preferred candidate to fill the position. He is an extreme hawk, closely tied to the Israel Lobby, who would push hard for war against Iran and also for a hardline position in Syria, one that could lead to direct confrontation with the Syrian Armed Forces and possibly the Russians.

Bolton, who has been described by a former George W. Bush official as “the most dangerous man we had during the entire eight years,” will undoubtedly have a problem in getting confirmed by Congress. He was rejected as U.N. Ambassador, requiring Bush to make a recess appointment which did not need Congressional approval.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, John Bolton, Neocons 
Who poisoned the Russian spy?
🔊 Listen RSS

I don’t know what happened in Salisbury England on March 4th, but it appears that the British government doesn’t know either. Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech before Parliament last Monday was essentially political, reflecting demands that she should “do something” in response to the mounting hysteria over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. After May’s presentation there were demands from Parliamentarians for harsh measures against Russia, reminiscent of the calls for action emanating from the U.S. Congress over the allegations relating to what has been called Russiagate.

This demand to take action led to a second Parliamentary address by May on Wednesday in which she detailed the British response to the incident, which included cutting off all high-level contacts between Moscow and London and the “persona non grata” (PNG) expulsion of 23 “spies” and intelligence officers working out of the Russian Federation Embassy. The expulsions will no doubt produce a tit-for-tat PNG from Moscow, ironically crippling or even eliminating the MI-6 presence and considerably reducing Britain’s own ability to understand what it going on in the Kremlin.

May, who referred to a “Russian mafia state,” has blamed Moscow for the attack even though she made plain in her first speech that the investigation was still underway. In both her presentations, she addressed the issue of motive by citing her belief that the attempted assassination conforms with an established pattern of Russian behavior. She did not consider that Vladimir Putin’s government would have no good reason to carry out an assassination that surely would be attributed to it, particularly as it was on the verge of national elections and also, more important, because it will be hosting the World Cup later this year and will be highly sensitive to threats of boycott. And it must be observed that Skripal posed no active threat to the Russian government. He has been living quietly in Britain for eight years, leading to wild tabloid press speculation that the Kremlin’s motive must have been to warn potential traitors that there are always consequences, even years later and in a far-off land.

To provide additional buttressing of what is a questionable thesis, the case of the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 has been repeatedly cited by the media on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of Russian turpitude, but the backstory is not the same. Litvinenko was an FSB officer who fled to the United Kingdom to avoid prosecution in Russia. In Britain, he became a whistleblower and author, exposing numerous alleged Russian government misdeeds. Would the Kremlin have been motivated to kill him? He was seen as a traitor and a continuing threat through his books and speeches, so it is certainly possible. The story of Skripal was, however, completely different. He was a double agent working for Britain who was arrested and imprisoned in 2006. He was released and traveled to the UK after a 2010 spy swap was arranged by Washington and his daughter has been able to travel freely from Moscow to visit him. If the Russian government had wanted to kill him, they could have easily done so while he was in prison, or they could have punished him by taking steps against his daughter.

There are a number of problems with the accepted narrative as presented by May and the media. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a nerve agent as “usually odorless organophosphate (such as sarin, tabun, or VX) that disrupts the transmission of nerve impulses by inhibiting cholinesterase and especially acetylcholinesterase and is used as a chemical weapon in gaseous or liquid form,” while Wikipedia explains that it is “a class of organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanisms by which nerves transfer messages to organs.” A little more research online reveals that most so-called nerve agents are chemically related. So when Theresa May says that the alleged agent used against the Skripals as being “of a type” associated with a reported Russian-developed chemical weapon called Novichok that was produced in the 1970s and 1980s, she is actually conceding that her own chemical weapons laboratories at Porton Down are, to a certain, extent, guessing at the provenance and characteristics of the actual agent that might or might not have been used in Salisbury.

Beyond that, a military strength nerve agent is, by definition, a highly concentrated and easily dispersed form of a chemical weapon. It is intended to kill or incapacitate hundreds or even thousands of soldiers. If it truly had been used in Salisbury, even in a small dose, it would have killed Skripal and his daughter as well as others nearby. First responders who showed up without protective clothing, clearly seen in the initial videos and photos taken near the site, would also be dead. After her first speech, May summoned the Russian Ambassador and demanded that he address the allegations, but Moscow reasonably enough demanded a sample of the alleged nerve agent for testing by relevant international bodies like the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons before it could even respond to the British accusations. It was a valid point even supported in Parliament questioning by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but May and her government decided to act anyway.

May’s language also conveys uncertainty. She used “it appears” and also said it was “highly likely” that Moscow was behind the poisoning of Skripal but provided no actual evidence that that was the case, presumably only assuming that it had to be Russia. And her government has told the public that there is “little risk” remaining over the incident and that those who were possibly exposed merely have to wash themselves and their clothes, hardly likely if it were a military grade toxin, which gains it lethality from being persistent on and around a target. She made clear her lack of corroboration for her claim by offering an “either-or” analysis: either Russia’s government did it or it had “lost control” of its nerve agent.

As noted above, May’s argument is, to a certain extent, based on character assassination of Russians – she even offered up the alleged “annexation” of Crimea as corroboration of her view that Moscow is not inclined to play by the rules that others observe. It is a narrative that is based on the presumption that “this is the sort of thing the Russian government headed by Vladimir Putin does.” The British media has responded enthusiastically, running stories about numerous assassinations and poisonings that ought to be attributed to Russia, while ignoring the fact that the world leaders in political assassinations are actually the United States and 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.


Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.