By Danielle Ryan
Birthdays are always a good time to take stock of one’s achievements, make some resolutions and contemplate the road ahead. So, with NATO turning sixty-seven today, perhaps it’s time for the military alliance to engage in some honest self-reflection.
The problem is, sometimes it’s just hard to let go. No one wants to admit their glory days are behind them. Everyone wants to feel they have a purpose, some grand vision yet to fulfill. When the time comes to hang up your hat, some bow out gracefully. Others need to be dragged kicking and screaming.
If Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove’s latest comments are anything to go by, the alliance won’t be performing a graceful exit any time soon. Instead, the 28-member bloc is simply recalibrating its efforts in an attempt to justify its existence and remain relevant.
‘Not a peace program, a war program’
Intending to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, the military alliance was founded on April 4, 1949 by 12 countries, led by the United States. The bloc would aim to prevent the spread of communism and promote American economic interests across the European continent. Once the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased to exist in December 1991, NATO was at a bit of a loose end. Instead of disbanding, the organization continued to usher in new members in bouts of expansion that were sure to provoke modern Russia.
As I have written before, there were those even at the time of the organization’s founding that foresaw such a situation emerging. US Senator Robert A. Taft — the son of President William Howard Taft — was one of them. Taft was outspoken in his misgivings about the appropriateness of such an alliance. He believed that a military bloc built on arming nations against the USSR could leave Moscow feeling “ringed” in and could lay the groundwork for another world war — even going so far as to say it is “not a peace program, it is a war program.” In a speech explaining his vote against the formation of the alliance, he asked: “How would we feel if Russia undertook to arm a country on our border; Mexico, for instance?”
For as long as it has existed, NATO has been geared primarily towards serving Washington’s geostrategic interests. It was then, as it is now, far more about creating vassal states in Europe that would do America’s bidding than it was about keeping them safe. The goal was to unite as many nations as possible under a pro-Washington umbrella which would rarely, if ever, question US foreign policy.
NATO’s greatest hits
Despite the fact that its original adversary obviously no longer posed any threat to its member states, NATO could hardly just sit twiddling its thumbs, waiting for something to happen. It wouldn’t do to simply disband such a useful tool of political influence, so Washington needed to make it look useful. It needed to justify its existence.
Suddenly, the alliance was about to fall head over heels in love with “humanitarian” interventions. Or, as Noam Chomsky has put it, the NATO that emerged after 1991 was basically “a US-run intervention force.” More interesting though, was the fact that NATO’s interventions over the past two-and-a-half decades have actually had little to do with maintaining the security of its members, despite the fact that it claims its “essential purpose” is to “safeguard” their freedom and security. The “defensive” alliance, which is “committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” has simply acted as a front for US aggression on three different continents.
In one of NATO’s most recent displays of its commitment to peace, it called for the implementation of a no-fly zone in Libya and then proceeded to bomb the country — once the richest in Africa — back into the dark ages, leaving it a failed state. Under the guise of humanitarian intervention, NATO provided cover for a regime-change operation that Washington had been planning for decades.
During the 1990s, NATO intervened in the Yugoslav wars, which involved a disastrous attempt to implement a no-fly zone in Bosnia between 1993 and 1995 and a 78-day bombing campaign in Yugoslavia which reduced much of Belgrade’s infrastructure to rubble and killed hundreds of civilians. These conflicts posed no direct threat to NATO states, but the pretense was that of necessary“humanitarian” intervention. The reality, as ever, was about little more than shifting the political balance into Washington’s favor.
Justifying its existence
But none of that is enough. Washington can’t sell NATO as a peace-loving military organization that intervenes in external conflicts out of the goodness of its heart. Nobody would be much interested in joining that. There still must be a tangible, visible threat to the safety of member states. Enter a “resurgent and aggressive” Russia. NATO’s press office has gone into overdrive since 2013 hyping a Russian threat. Vladimir Putin has been on the verge of invading the Baltics for about two years now. That there is no evidence of any imminent threat to anyone is irrelevant; the idea is to keep repeating it until everyone believes there is.
Moscow’s sin, Breedlove recently said, is that it “continues to seek to extend its influence on its periphery and beyond.”There is of course huge irony in hearing this from the head of a military organization that allows the US to extend its influence about four and a half thousands miles away from its border.
Not content to let bygones be bygones and work in tandem with Moscow on crucial issues, differences aside, NATO has continued to exacerbate tensions. As one analyst noted, by expanding towards its border, NATO has “deliberately and recklessly posed a major threat to the security of the Russian Federation.” All the while, NATO has played the victim.
Time to say goodbye
A broken clock is right twice a day. US presidential candidate Donald Trump may be a bumbling fool, but in his latest assessment of NATO as “obsolete” he is absolutely correct.
Sixty-seven years after its founding, NATO exists for no good reason. Where threats don’t exist, it imagines them. Where tensions should be minimal, it heightens them. In the grander scheme of things, it serves the interests of only one of its members.
It’s time to call it a day.
Reprinted with permission from RT.
By Adam Dick
How about a Ron Paul Institute (RPI) conference this year? Ron Paul, RPI’s chairman, is excited about the idea. Of course, he would be a featured speaker at the conference.
The only barrier to making the conference a reality is money. The institute needs to spend its minimal resources on its ongoing activities; there are just not the additional funds now to pay for a conference as well.
Recently, the possibility of a conference became more real. I brought up the topic with an RPI supporter. He told me the conference sounds like a great idea. He donated $500 to help make it happen.
A few additional people kicking in big donations will immediately move the conference from the planning boards to reality.
RPI can put on a top-notch conference if it can raise an additional $5,000 in earmarked donations.
Please email me if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation of $500 or more toward putting on RPI’s first conference.
We are not asking anyone to make a donation right now. Instead we are asking for pledges of large donations for making the conference a reality.
If we receive enough pledged support to cover conference expenses, we will (1) ask the pledgers to make their donations, and (2) immediately begin conference preparations.
If we do not receive enough pledges, the conference will remain on the institute’s “wish list.”
One donation of $5,000, two donations of $2,500, five donations of $1,000, or ten donations of $500: That will bring about a conference featuring Ron Paul and other great speakers. That will also bring together people, from around America and the world, who value Ron Paul’s message.
Donors for the conference will be recognized as the conference’s Host Committee. Host Committee members will receive special perks, including an invitation to a private VIP reception with Ron Paul, additional conference speakers, and other notable people. Host Committee members will also have the satisfaction of knowing that their generous support enabled the conference to occur.
If you are excited about making this conference featuring Ron Paul a reality and are interested in pledging a tax-deductible donation of $500 or more earmarked for that purpose, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.
By Louis Rouanet
What is Europe? It seems that no rigorous answer can be provided. Europe is not exactly a continent. It is not a political entity. It is not a united people. The best definition, in fact, may be that Europe is the outcome of a long historical process that engendered unique institutions and a unique vision of what men ought to be. The idea that men ought to be free from violent government interference. Europe has no founding fathers. Its birth was not orchestrated but completely spontaneous. Its development was not imposed by armies and governments but was the voluntary product of clerics, merchants, serfs, and intellectuals who were seeking to interact freely with each other. Europeans were united by their freedoms and divided by their governments. In other words, Europe was built against States and their arbitrary restrictions, not by them.
After the fall of the Roman Empire a period of political anarchy followed where cities, aristocrats, kings, and the church all competed with each other. Therefore, as Dr. Ralph Raico noted in his article “The European Miracle,”
Although geographical factors played a role, the key to western development is to be found in the fact that, while Europe constituted a single civilization — Latin Christendom — it was at the same time radically decentralized. In contrast to other cultures — especially China, India, and the Islamic world — Europe comprised a system of divided and, hence, competing powers and jurisdictions.
In other words, over the centuries, a long evolution of the institutions gave birth to personal liberty. Although the European aristocracies and states were restricting freedom, they were forced to grant more autonomy to their subjects, for, if they did not, people were opting out by migrating or using black markets. As Leonard Liggio puts it, after 1000 A.D.:
While bound by the chains of the Peace and Truce of God from looting the people, the uncountable manors and baronies meant uncounted competing jurisdictions in close proximity. ... This polycentric system created a check on politicians; the artisan or merchant could move down the road to another jurisdiction if taxes or regulation were imposed.
Europe was where the road to freedom began. It was in Europe that the values of individualism, liberalism, and autonomy rose from history and gave humanity a sense of progress that no civilization had ever experienced to such an extent before. Unfortunately, the values and institutions that made Europe great vanished under the pressure of political centralization, nationalism, statism, socialism, and fascism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, however, a new danger looms over Europe — the European Union.
The European Institutions Against the Free Market
Contrary to what is often said, the European Union has nothing to do with peace, freedom, free trade, free capital and migration movement, cooperation, or stability. All this can very well be provided in a decentralized system. The European Union is nothing more than a cartel of governments that tries to gain power by harmonizing the fiscal and regulatory legislation in every member State. Article 99 of the Treaty of Rome (1957) clearly states that indirect taxation “can be harmonized in the interest of the Common Market” by the European Commission. As for Article 101 of the same Treaty, it explicitly restrains regulatory competition “where the Commission finds that a disparity existing between the legislative or administrative provisions of the Member States distorts the conditions of competition in the Common Market.”
Since the very beginning, with the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, the European institutions were more planning agencies than anything else. Indeed, the coal and steel industries at the time were mostly nationalized and the goal of the ECSC was to coordinate governments’ activities in these two sectors, not to liberalize activity. The fact that the ECSC was not about free trade but about government planning was known by everybody at the time. It was Robert Schuman, the French minister of foreign affairs, who proposed in his declaration of 9 May 1950, that the Franco-German coal and steel production be placed under a common High Authority within the framework of an organization in which other European countries could participate. Also, the ECSC created for the first time European anti-trust legislation, which as Austrians know, is nothing less than government planning in the name of an erroneous vision of what competition is.
Even the Treaty of Rome (1957), the basis of the EU as we know it, despite enacting the free movement of goods, capital, and persons, remains a highly statist treaty. Indeed, it is often forgotten that among other things, the Treaty of Rome created a “European Investment Bank,” a “European Social Fund,” the highly protectionist “common agricultural policy,” the “common transport policy,” and reinforced European anti-trust legislation. Therefore, if in the short and medium run, the Treaty of Rome, by breaking the neck of protectionism, was a boon for the European economy, it created institutions that could easily expand their regulatory power in the future, and that is exactly what they did.
Many free marketers support the European Union on the ground that even if their regulations are bad, they are still far better than those produced by our very prolific national governments. Such a line of argument, often used in more socialist countries such as France, is sheer nonsense. It is the equivalent of saying: “I don’t mind being robbed twice because the second thief will be much nicer to me.” The question is not how to make “better” regulations but how to expand free trade.
Europeanism: True and False
In 1946, F.A. Hayek wrote a pathbreaking article named “Individualism: True and False” where he distinguished two different individualist intellectual traditions. One, as Hayek calls it, is “true individualism,” based on evolutionism, the idea that institutions and individuals’ behaviors are not planned consciously but are rather the result of a spontaneous process. True individualism follows the tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment. False individualism, on the contrary, is based on extreme rationalism and solipsism. False individualism is based on the idea that society, freedom, and markets, can be planned and should be planned. This false individualism is the heir of the 1789 and — even more clearly — of the 1793 French Revolutionaries.
These two sorts of individualism are today at the root of two different sorts of Europeanism. True Europeanism admits that most of what made Europe was not planned but rather spontaneous. The implications are that we ought to have as much decentralization as possible for Europe to continue to strive and to safeguard human liberties. On the other hand, false Europeanism thinks that Europe can only truly become Europe if planning by common political institutions exists. False Europeanists believe that the only alternative is between Nation States and the European Union. Their defense of a centralized European political entity is based on the erroneous idea that political centralization is positively linked to the process of civilization because society, law, markets, prosperity, and the “European spirit” ought to be designed by rulers. Europe during the Middle Ages, those thinkers say, lacked trade integration because it lacked political unification. It follows that we must be grateful today for the existence of the European Union. In their narrative, economic progress took place only when “Europe” slowly began to develop new trading alliances that combined some aspects of military protection with something akin to a free-trade area. But this version of history is very far from the truth. In the Middle Ages for instance, the lex mercatoria, the law of merchants, was purely private. Furthermore, the protective tariffs were mostly ignored anyway by Europeans. Smuggling was so widespread that England in the late Middle Ages should be in fact considered as a nation of smugglers rather than a nation of merchants. As Murray Rothbard noted in Conceived in Liberty:
Too many historians have fallen under the spell of the interpretation of the late nineteenth-century German economic historians (for example, Schmoller, Bucher, Ehrenberg): that the development of a strong centralized nation-state was requisite to the development of capitalism in the early modern period. Not only is this thesis refuted by the flourishing of commercial capitalism in the Middle Ages in the local and non-centralized cities of northern Italy, the Hanseatic League, and the fairs of Champagne. … It is also refuted by the outstanding growth of the capitalist economy in free, localized Antwerp and Holland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Thus the Dutch came to outstrip the rest of Europe while retaining medieval local autonomy and eschewing state-building, mercantilism, government participation in enterprise — and aggressive war.
Thus, the idea that a centralized authority, in our case the European Union, is necessary for free trade is pure fantasy, It is false Europeanism. Its constructivist approach has prevailed in European institutions since the beginning. For example, one of the goals advanced by the Treaty of Rome was to “create markets” through a unified European Anti-trust legislation. Similarly, the official justification of the Common Agricultural Policy introduced in 1962 was to create a unified agricultural market. But markets do not need States or treaties to exist and they certainly do not need the European Union.
The parallel between false Europeanism and false individualism is also relevant when it comes to their respective imperialistic tendencies. Whereas the French revolutionaries wanted to invade Europe to impose their “universal values” through force, the European Union does not tolerate, in the name of Europe, independent States that do not want to submit to Brussels. Switzerland, for instance, is forced by the European Union to adopt countless regulations concerning food safety and gun ownership. If the Swiss confederation does not comply with many provisions of European law, the European Union threatens to cut Switzerland’s access to the single market.
The most incredible political success of the European Union zealots is their constant shaming of those who refuse to submit to a European hegemonic super-State. But we must understand that only so-called “Euro sceptics” can truly be pro-Europe. Only “Euro sceptics” can be loyal toward the history and liberal values of their continent. In other words, the European Union is a highly anti-European institution.
We Need Decentralization
On June 28, 2016, the British will vote on whether they want to stay in the EU or not. If the NO vote wins, it might be the end of the European Union as we know it. Historically, Britain played a major role in the maintenance of a fairly decentralized European order. Whether it was with Napoleonic France, or the German 2nd Reich, or Nazi Germany, it has always been Britain that ultimately helped to break up the hegemonic endeavors of empires on continental Europe. The question is, then, will Britain play its historical role this summer against the imperialistic European Union? We should consider any attempt to establish a more decentralized system with more competition between States as a boon for Europe and the Europeans. To be sure, the Nation-States must be dismantled, but not if it means the creation of an even bigger European Leviathan. It is, on the contrary, the regionalists and independence movements that must be supported, whether it is Scotland, Catalonia, or Corsica. The European miracle can be revived only through extreme political decentralization. What history teaches us is that Europe is greater than the individuals that compose it only insofar as it respects liberty. Insofar as it is controlled or directed by a monolithic and central political authority or by bellicose Nation-States, Europe is limited by the inability of Europeans to escape the arbitrary restrictions of their governments.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Chris Rossini
Have you noticed that as government raises the minimum wage, automation seems to appear more and more for those low-skilled jobs?
Coincidence? Not at all. The minimum wage incentivizes and accelerates automation. The minimum wage is an unemployment generator. It is purely destructive.
In other words, if the minimum wage is $20/hr, but you don't have the necessary skills or productivity to earn that amount, no one will hire you. Sure, in a free country, you'd be able to offer your labor for less than $20/hr, but this is the new America. Government has decided that you're better off collecting unemployment checks.
Just as you don't like to overpay for anything that you buy, neither do other people. You're not unique in that respect. No one likes to overpay, and if someone is forced to, they'll only do so until they find a workaround.
Here's the key - there's always a workaround. The minimum wage incentivizes workarounds. It causes those who are entrepreneurial to get to work on creating workarounds.
No one overpays, no matter what the government says. People merely adjust. It's during that adjustment that government's laws always end up hurting those who were supposedly getting the "help".
One way that employers adjust is with automation. A machine becomes so much more attractive when government comes around with its minimum wage mandates. A machine will always be on time, will always do the job right, and will not demand "healthcare" or "access" to contraceptives! A machine won't steal, or get sick, or demand three months vacation.
How attractive do you think a robot becomes when government says that businesses must pay someone $20/hr when they're not worth it? It becomes very attractive.
And so we watch as one low-skilled job after another gets turned into a computer screen. Kiosks, robotics, and various types of automation are the pushback against the bully government.
There is nothing inherently wrong with robots or automation. After all, they free up people to perform other tasks. However, people who are laid off need a free society so that they can quickly find other work. Options exist in a free society. You don't have to jump through hoops, and neither do employers.
Sadly, America has shifted away from a once free society to one where the hiring process has become a nightmare. Not only does the minimum wage prevent people from finding new jobs quickly, but there are oceans of red tape and "regulations" that making hiring very cumbersome. Rarely can you walk into a place and get hired on the spot with just a handshake. Government has destroyed that.
Let us also not forget that government's debasement of the currency (via the Federal Reserve) and the inflation that it creates are the reason that people are having a harder time making it on lower wages. The Federal Reserve is the source of "Always Higher Prices".
So the next time you order fast food on a computer screen, or airline tickets, or any other job that people used to perform, thank the minimum wage.
It's the law that forces the employment of robots over people.
By Ron Paul
Last week Defense Secretary Ashton Carter laid a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in commemoration of the "50th anniversary" of that war. The date is confusing, as the war started earlier and ended far later than 1966. But the Vietnam War at 50 commemoration presents a good opportunity to reflect on the war and whether we have learned anything from it.
Some 60,000 Americans were killed fighting in that war more than 8,000 miles away. More than a million Vietnamese military and civilians also lost their lives. The US government did not accept that it had pursued a bad policy in Vietnam until the bitter end. But in the end the war was lost and we went home, leaving the destruction of the war behind. For the many who survived on both sides, the war would continue to haunt them.
It was thought at the time that we had learned something from this lost war. The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 to prevent future Vietnams by limiting the president’s ability to take the country to war without the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional declaration of war. But the law failed in its purpose and was actually used by the war party in Washington to make it easier to go to war without Congress.
Such legislative tricks are doomed to failure when the people still refuse to demand that elected officials follow the Constitution.
When President George HW Bush invaded Iraq in 1991, the warhawks celebrated what they considered the end of that post-Vietnam period where Americans were hesitant about being the policeman of the world. President Bush said famously at the time, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”
They may have beat the Vietnam Syndrome, but they learned nothing from Vietnam.
Colonel Harry Summers returned to Vietnam in 1974 and told his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tsu, "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield." The Vietnamese officer responded, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
He is absolutely correct: tactical victories mean nothing when pursuing a strategic mistake.
Last month was another anniversary. March 20, 2003 was the beginning of the second US war on Iraq. It was the night of “shock and awe” as bombs rained down on Iraqis. Like Vietnam, it was a war brought on by government lies and propaganda, amplified by a compliant media that repeated the lies without hesitation.
Like Vietnam, the 2003 Iraq war was a disaster. More than 5,000 Americans were killed in the war and as many as a million or more Iraqis lost their lives. There is nothing to show for the war but destruction, trillions of dollars down the drain, and the emergence of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Sadly, unlike after the Vietnam fiasco there has been almost no backlash against the US empire. In fact, President Obama has continued the same failed policy and Congress doesn’t even attempt to reign him in. On the very anniversary of that disastrous 2003 invasion, President Obama announced that he was sending US Marines back into Iraq! And not a word from Congress.
We’ve seemingly learned nothing.
There have been too many war anniversaries! We want an end to all these pointless wars. It’s time we learn from these horrible mistakes.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
By Daniel McAdams
You know the old saying: if at first you don't succeed, keep trying the same dumb thing over and over and wonder why you are still not succeeding. Well, at least that's the Beltway version of that old saying.
We know what happened last time the Pentagon launched a program to train rebels to fight ISIS (and overthrow Assad) in Syria: they spent half a billion dollars and ended up with five fighters.
What do they care, it's only (our) money!
But the interventionists are never dissuaded by failure, so last month President Obama signed off on yet another Syria rebel training program. This time they decided the solution to the problem of most of their trained rebels either being killed by or going over to the side of al-Qaeda's Nusra Front and ISIS -- and more than half of the US-supplied weapons going into the hands of al-Qaeda: instead of training rebels in groups, train rebel commanders one at a time in Turkey. Yes, that Turkey.
The Pentagon is not worried about this latest plan working or not. They are ready to spend untold hundreds of millions of dollars on plan after plan until they find one that works. According to Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman Colonel Steve Warren:
So, in accordance with our commitment to find things that work, we're trying this. And so, what this is, is pull some individuals out of units, vet them, give them some training, give them some capability, and then reinsert them back into the battle field.
The Syrian army with the assistance of Russia dealt a potentially lethal blow to ISIS just over a week ago in liberating Palmyra from ISIS control. The Syrians are on the move toward ISIS's self-styled capital, Raqqa. This has placed the US in an awkward position, as its stated goal in Syria is to fight ISIS but in fact it is also fighting ISIS's enemy, the Assad government. Forced to choose between who Washington would like to see in charge, Col. Warren had this shocking thing to say about the Syrian army's liberation of Palmyra from ISIS:
But it's a tricky situation, right? Because, you know, what do you see in Palmyra? You see the Russian regime has pushed out ISIL. So, in our view, that is kind of like going -- at least for the people of Palmyra, that is certainly a movement from the frying pan into the fire, isn't it?
So according to this Pentagon spokesman, ISIS is only the frying pan but the Syrian government is the fire.
Look for another few hundred billion dollars to be wasted on this new program. More rebels inserted into Syria will only prolong the war, prolong the killing, prolong the suffering. But the US is apparently incapable of reversing course on a bad policy, no matter how many must die in pursuit of Washington's goals.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.