By Daniel McAdams
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement today warning the Syrian government to cease and desist from its final military push against ISIS and al-Qaeda groups in southwest Syria. The United States is "deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria" because such operations are within the "de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November," the statement says.
What a strange warning. The United States, which illegally occupies territory of a country nearly 6,000 miles away, is warning Syria, the country it partly occupies, not to conduct military operations against terrorist organizations within its own borders!
Aside from the absurdity of Nauert's press release, there is the important matter that the whole statement is a lie.
First, the "deconfliction zone" to which she refers has been unilaterally declared by the United States. Syria never agreed to cease military operations within its own borders. Suggesting that Damascus is violating some agreement when it was never party to the agreement is shockingly dishonest.
Second, even the "de-escalation zones" agreed between Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May, 2017, exempted UN-recognized terrorist groups from the deal. So even if Syria was a party to the US-claimed "de-escalation" agreement, its current advance on ISIS and al-Qaeda controlled territory would not be a violation.
Third, the State Department's claims on the "Da Nang" agreement between Presidents Putin and Trump are purposely misleading. The very first sentence of the "Da Nang" statement affirms the two leaders' "determination to defeat ISIS in Syria," demonstrating the high priority placed on fighting ongoing terrorist occupation of parts of Syria.
So why now, seven months later, is the US warning Syria against completing the very task that Trump and Putin made a top priority?
Also, the "Da Nang statement" discusses the "de-confliction" areas explicitly in the context of the fight against ISIS:
The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved.
So, again, why is the US objecting to the Syrian government's actions to achieve a goal -- defeat of ISIS -- reiterated by the US government?
The "Da Nang" statement also made it clear that when it comes to Syrian territory, that country's sovereignty must be respected:
The Presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character...
How can the US be committed to Syria's sovereignty when it violates that sovereignty by occupying Syrian territory and warning the Syrian government against attacking al-Qaeda and ISIS-dominated areas of Syria?
The United States -- which maintains hundreds of US troops illegally in Syria -- warns Syria about conducting military operations within its own borders against internationally-recognized terrorist groups, citing the "Da Nang" agreement, which:
...reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area...
But those "foreign fighters" they agreed to eliminate by definition must include the US military itself! So actually it is the US that is violating the agreement by remaining in Syria, not the Syrian government by fighting al-Qaeda!
As an astute colleague wrote today, "have also been rumors in Washington that the Administration is preparing for something 'big' in Syria, possibly related to warnings from the Pentagon that Syrian forces have been threatening the unilaterally declared “de-escalation zone” in the country’s southeast."
Nauert's release may be one big lie, but the US threat against Syria is looking to be deadly serious.
Don't miss RPI's Summer Peace and Prosperity Conference! More information here.
The number of US airstrikes overseas has skyrocketed under President Trump, reaching an average of one every 12 minutes. And we're not even officially at war! Who is being killed by these airstrikes? Who's being separated from their parents (permanently) by these airstrikes? Why does it seem no one wants to talk about it?
The mainstream media has identified another "crisis" over which we are supposed to drop everything and "do something": people crossing our border illegally with children are being arrested and their children separated from them. But this is not a new phenomenon. The "crisis" is largely manufactured because the media has no interest in looking at the real cause of the illegal immigration problem in the US.
By Jacob G. Hornberger
In a time in which President Trump is saying that the U.S. government will lift economic sanctions against North Korea if it “denuclearizes,” why not lift the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba? After all, Cuba “denuclearized” back in 1962. Why is the U.S. government still punishing the people of Cuba with its brutal economic embargo?
In fact, the continued existence of the Cuban embargo might well cause North Korea to ask: If we really do denuclearize, how can we be assured that U.S. officials will really lift their sanctions on North Korea given the continuation of their brutal embargo against Cuba after it denuclearized more than 50 years ago?
What is the point of continuing the embargo against Cuba? What is the point of continuing to target the Cuban people with economic misery and impoverishment, on top of the misery and impoverishment they already suffer from living in a socialist economic system?
The goal of the Cuba embargo has always been regime change. Ever since Cuban revolutionaries ousted the brutal and corrupt pro-U.S dictator Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959, the CIA and the Pentagon have been hell-bent on doing whatever was necessary to oust the communist regime in Cuba from power and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship.
That was the purpose of the CIA’s paramilitary invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. That was why the Pentagon was constantly exhorting President Kennedy to attack and invade Cuba. That was the goal of the terrorism and sabotage that the CIA inflicted inside Cuba. That was the aim of Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon’s false-flag operation that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended to Kennedy. And that has been the purpose of the brutal economic embargo on Cuba.
That was why Cuba invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear weapons in Cuba in 1962 — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from invading the island or, if an invasion did take place, to be able to defend themselves with nuclear missiles. That is the same reason that North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking and invading North Korea for the purpose of regime change.
Why not just leave Cuba alone? So what if it has a communist regime, just like North Korea does and just like China does? Why does that justify the continued infliction of economic harm on the Cuban people? What business does the U.S. government have in continuing to try to achieve regime change in Cuba? After all, U.S. officials don’t have an embargo against Vietnam, whose communist regime killed some 58,000 American men in the Vietnam War. Why is there an embargo against Cuba, whose regime has never attacked and invaded the United States or even threatened to do so?
Through the more than 50 years of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, many American have missed a critically important point: The embargo has been not only an attack on the economic well-being of the Cuban people but also on the freedom of the American people. Keep in mind, after all, that when Americans travel to Cuba and spend money there, they are prosecuted, fined, and incarcerated by their own government, not by thy Cuban government.
Thus, the perverse irony is that in the name of fighting communism with their economic embargo against Cuba, U.S. officials have been prosecuting, fining, and incarcerating Americans for exercising such fundamental, God-given rights as freedom of travel, economic liberty, private property, and freedom of trade. Why should Americans (and anyone else) be punished tor traveling to wherever they want and spending their own money anywhere and any way they want?
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
President Trump surprised his audience yesterday by announcing he would create a new "separate but equal" branch of the military to "dominate" space. Will Congress go along? Where will the money come from? Where's the threat?
By Ron Paul
When I was in Congress and had to regularly fly between DC and Texas, I was routinely subjected to invasive “pat-downs” (physical assaults) by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). One time, exasperated with the constant insults to my privacy and dignity, I asked a TSA agent if he was proud to assault innocent Americans for a living.
I thought of this incident after learning that the TSA has been compiling a “troublesome passengers” list. The list includes those who have engaged in conduct judged to be “offensive and without legal justification” or disruptive of the “safe and effective completion of screening.” Libertarian journalist James Bovard recently pointed out that any woman who pushed a screener’s hands away from her breasts could be accused of disrupting the “safe and effective completion of screening.” Passengers like me who have expressed offense at TSA screeners are likely on the troublesome passengers list.
Perhaps airline passengers should start keeping a list of troublesome TSA agents. The list could include those who forced nursing mothers to drink their own breast milk, those who forced sick passengers to dispose of cough medicine, and those who forced women they found attractive to go through a body scanner multiple times. The list would certainly include the agents who confiscated a wheelchair-bound three-year-old’s beloved stuffed lamb at an airport and threatened to subject her to a pat-down. The girl, who was at the airport with her family to take a trip to Disney World, was filmed crying that she no longer wanted to go to Disney World.
The TSA is effective at violating our liberty, but it is ineffective at protecting our security. Last year, the TSA’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), conducted undercover tests of the TSA’s ability or detect security threats at airports across the country. The results showed the TSA staff and equipment failed to uncover threats 80 percent of the time. This is not the first time the TSA has been revealed to be incompetent. An earlier DHS study fund TSA screenings and even the invasive pat-downs were utterly ineffective at finding hidden weapons.
The TSA’s “security theater” of treating every passenger as a criminal suspect while doing nothing to stop real threats is a rational response to the incentives the TSA faces as a government agency. If the TSA puts up an appearance of diligently working to prevent another 9/11 by inconveniencing and even assaulting as many travelers as possible, Congress will assume the agency is doing its job and keep increasing the TSA’s budget. Because the TSA gets its revenue from Congress, not from airline passengers, the agency has no reason to concern itself with customer satisfaction and feels free to harass and assault people, as well as to make lists of people who stand up for their rights.
Congress should end the TSA’s monopoly on security by abolishing the agency and returning responsibility for security to the airlines. The airline companies can contract with private firms that provide real security without treating every passenger as a criminal suspect. A private security firm that assaults its customers while failing to detect real dangers would soon go out of business, whereas the TSA would likely have its budget and power increased if there was another attack on the US.
If shutting down the TSA is too “radical” a step, Congress should at least allow individuals to sue TSA agents for assault. Anyone who has suffered unfair treatment by the TSA as a result of being put on the “troublesome passengers” list should also be able to seek redress in court. Making TSA agents subject to the rule of law is an important step toward protecting our liberty and security.
A "mysterious" attack on Syrian government forces in southwest Syria earlier today has left as many as 52 Syrian (and Iraqi) troops dead. The Syrian media blames Washington, which has been warning Syria for several weeks to leave ISIS forces alone in the area. Who did it...and why?
As the Saudis attack the Yemeni port town of Hodeidah, the stated goal is to starve the residents into opposing the Houthi forces controlling the city. The US is actively participating in what is clearly a war crime against civilians. Why?
By Jacob G. Hornberger
Suppose my neighbor acquired a bazooka and stored it in his home. He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t threaten me with it. I ask him, “John, why have you acquired that bazooka?” He responds, “Just in case you decide to attack me and my family. If you do, we are going to defend ourselves by firing this bazooka at you.”
That infuriates me! I am indignant. I demand that John immediately get rid of his bazooka. I hurl insults at him. I threaten him. I openly and publicly declare that I am going to rain fire and fury onto John, his home, and his family if he doesn’t get rid of his bazooka.
John responds, “Jacob, if you attack me, you might well prevail and destroy my home and kill my family and me. But rest assured: The minute you attack me, I’m going to fire back at you with my bazooka.”
All the neighbors come out to witness my stream of angry outbursts, insults, and threats. The local media comes out to report on the crisis.
At that point, I agree to a meeting with John. We sit down and we discuss the problem. I compliment him, and he promises that at some undefined point in the future, he will give up his bazooka. We go away from the meeting as good friends.
What happens then? Isn’t it obvious? I am peacemaker, a statesman, a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Who cares that I am the one precipitated the crisis by demanding that John give up his bazooka? Who cares that I am the one who started the series of angry insults and threats between us? What matters is that I have shown courage and statesmanship by agreeing to sit down with John and make friends with him. Don’t I deserve a prize for that?
And that’s precisely where we are with President Trump and North Korea. The media has conveniently forgotten that it was Trump who started this entire brouhaha in the first place. North Korea was never threatening to attack the United States. It also wasn’t threatening to attack South Korea. Its position was very clear: Our nuclear weapons are not intended to start a war with the United States. Instead, we have them for one reason only: to deter the U.S. government, specifically the Pentagon and the CIA, from attacking North Korea or, in the event of an attack, to have them at our disposal as a way to defend ourselves.
In other words, North Korea’s position has always been the same as that of my hypothetical neighbor John.
At that point, Trump went ballistic (so to speak). No, he openly and publicly declared, you North Koreans have no right to defend yourself from a U.S. attack with nuclear weapons. You must dismantle your nuclear weapons immediately. If you persist in keeping these weapons for deterrence or defense, we will attack North Korea with the full fire and fury of our nuclear arsenal.
At that point, everyone got extremely anxious. Would Trump carry out his threats? Would there really be a nuclear war in Korea?
But what everyone forgot was that it was Trump who created the crisis. North Korea was never threatening anyone. They just had their nuclear weapons, which they had no intention of using unless the U.S. government attacked North Korea.
Trump ultimately settled down and suddenly accepted North Korea’s invitation to have a summit. At the summit, Trump became best friends with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, who, like his father before him, has promised to “denuclearize” at some undefined point in the future. Trump has now ceased his threats to bring nuclear fire and fury to North Korea and now says that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat to the United States.
So, where are we? We are back to where we were before Trump initiated his series of angry outbursts, insults, and threats against North Korea. North Korea still has its nuclear weapons and is promising to get rid of them sometime into the future, just like Kim’s father did. In any event, Trump is no longer concerned about them and says that Americans can now sleep soundly again.
And everyone is now hailing Trump for sitting down and meeting with the communist dictator. They’re saying that talking is better than war. What they are ignoring is that if Trump had never started his series of angry outburst, insults, and threats, there never would have been a crisis to resolve. We would have been here at this point back then — back before Trump initiated his angry outbursts, insults, and threats.
Despite the fact that North Korea is headed by a brutal communist regime, it is important to look at the situation from their perspective.
Kim wishes to continue maintaining communist control over North Korea, just as the Democrat-Republican Party wishes to continue maintaining control here in the United States. That continued control, however, is threatened by the possibility of a regime-change operation at the hands of the U.S. national-security establishment.
Now, before anyone accuses North Korea of being paranoid, let’s keep in mind that sometimes paranoid people really are followed and put under surveillance by the Pentagon and the CIA. (Ernest Hemingway comes to mind.) The fact is that the Pentagon and the CIA do specialize in regime-change operations. Iraq, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Afghanistan, Panama, Libya, Syria, and Cuba, just to name a few targets of U.S. regime-change operations.
There are also people within the U.S. government who have openly expressed support for a military regime-change operation in North Korea. Trump’s national-security advisor John Bolton comes to mind.
And let’s not forget that U.S. national-security state officials have openly declared North Korea to have been part of an “axis of evil.” And we all know what the Pentagon and the CIA do to people and entities they consider to be evil.
Moreover, let’s not forget that regime change is the primary purpose of U.S. sanctions against North Korea.
The North Korean communist regime knows that it could never defeat the United States in a war. So, it acquired nuclear weapons to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from initiating a U.S. regime-change operation.
Along comes Trump and essentially says to the North Koreans, “Okay, fair enough. But you have my word. I’m not going to let the Pentagon and the CIA attack or invade North Korea. Therefore, you don’t need nuclear weapons any more. And you can trust me on this. And I’ll help you develop your beaches with condos. You’ll be rich, like me!”
Now, what do you do if you’re North Korea? Do you trust Trump to keep his word? Keep in mind that once you destroy your last nuke, that’s it. If you’re double-crossed and U.S. bombers are dropping their bombs on you, it’s too late. You can’t get your nukes back.
But let’s assume that the North Koreans decide that Trump can be trusted. Okay, but Trump is 72! He could suddenly become incapacitated owing to health issues. What then? Can the North Koreans trust President Pence to keep Trump’s word? Maybe.
But what about the 2020 presidential election? Suppose the Republican and Democratic nominees are John Bolton and Hillary Clinton. What then? Can the North Koreans count on them to keep Trump’s word? Well, we know that Trump didn’t keep Barack Obama’s word on the Iran nuclear deal. Is it that difficult to imagine either Clinton or Bolton smilingly saying about Kim, “We came, we saw, he died. Too bad he trusted Trump and got rid of his nukes.”
The question is: How can North Korea be reasonably assured that it doesn’t need to fear a Pentagon-CIA regime-change operation?
Let’s assume that Trump permanently cancels the war games between Pentagon, CIA, and South Korea. Let’s assume also that he immediately brings back all U.S. troops from South Korea.
Would that be enough to convince North Korea that there no longer is a threat of a U.S. regime-change operation? Possibly. It would certainly be more convincing. But the problem is that there is nothing to prevent the Pentagon and the CIA from flying bombers over North Korea and unleashing their fire and fury or attempting an assassination of Kim. They don’t need troops in South Korea to do that. They didn’t have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan before they brought about those regime changes.
There is only one way to guarantee North Korea that it no longer need be concerned about a U.S. regime-change operation: The restoration of a limited-government republic to our land, which necessarily means the dismantling of the national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto the federal government after World War II. Republics don’t engage in regime-change operations and, anyway, they lack the means to implement them.
In other words, no more military-industrial complex, no more military empire, no more Pentagon, no more CIA, and no more NSA. The return to a constitutionally limited-government republic, the type of government that the Framers intended for the American people.
And why not? The only reason the federal government was converted into a national-security state in the first place was to fight the Cold War against the communists, including those in North Korea. When the Cold War expired more than 25 years ago, the justification for a national-security state expired with it.
Thus, if Americans want to restore a society of freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony, it is essential that they begin thinking at a higher level and a deeper level. Sure, give Trump his Nobel for sitting down and talking with a communist dictator. But for lasting, positive change, both here at home and in the rest of the world, it is necessary to return our nation to its founding principles.
For more information, see my book The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Over the last 100+ years, the U.S. has waged endless wars that have all been wrapped in extravagant lies. The lies were not only to get into the wars, but during the wars as well. How many times did the U.S. "turn the corner" in Vietnam? How many times, over the last 17 years in Afghanistan have we heard "we've turned the corner"? Do you think it's possible for the government to lie about the economy too?