By Ron Paul
Back in the 2008 presidential race, I explained to then-candidate Rudy Giuliani the concept of “blowback.” Years of US meddling and military occupation of parts of the Middle East motivated a group of terrorists to carry out attacks against the United States on 9/11. They didn’t do it because we are so rich and so free, as the neocons would have us believe. They came over here because we had been killing Muslims “over there” for decades.
How do we know this? Well, they told us. Osama bin Laden made it clear why al-Qaeda sought to attack the US. They didn’t like the US taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict and they didn’t like US troops on their holy land.
Why believe a terrorist, some responded. As I explained to Giuliani ten years ago, the concept of “blowback” is well-known in the US intelligence community and particularly by the CIA.
Unfortunately, it is clear that Giuliani never really understood what I was trying to tell him. Like the rest of the neocons, he either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. In a recent speech to the MeK – a violent Islamist-Marxist cult that spent two decades on the US terror watch list – Giuliani promised that the Trump Administration had made “regime change” a priority for Iran. He even told the members of that organization – an organization that has killed dozens of Americans – that Trump would put them in charge of Iran!
Giuliani shares with numerous other neocons like John Bolton a strong relationship with this group. In fact, both Giuliani and Bolton have been on the payroll of the MeK and have received tens of thousands of dollars to speak to their followers. This is another example of how foreign lobbies and special interest groups maintain an iron grip on our foreign policy.
Does anyone really think Iran will be better off if Trump puts a bunch of “former” terrorists in charge of the country? How did that work in Libya?
It’s easy to dismiss the bombastic Giuliani as he speaks to his financial benefactors in the MeK. Unfortunately, however, Giuliani’s claims were confirmed late last week, when the Washington Free Beacon published a three-page policy paper being circulated among National Security Council officials containing plans to spark regime change in Iran.
The paper suggests that the US focus on Iran’s many ethnic minority groups to spark unrest and an eventual overthrow of the government. This is virtually the same road map that the US has followed in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so on. The results have been unmitigated disaster after disaster.
Unleashing terrorists on Iran to overthrow its government is not only illegal and immoral: it’s also incredibly stupid. We know from 9/11 that blowback is real, even if Giuliani and the neocons refuse to understand it. Iran does not threaten the United States. Unlike Washington’s Arab allies in the region, Iran actually holds reasonably democratic elections and has a Western-oriented, educated, and very young population.
Why not open up to Iran with massive amounts of trade and other contacts? Does anyone (except for the neocons) really believe it is better to unleash terrorists on a population than to engage them in trade and travel? We need to worry about blowback from President Trump’s fully-neoconized Middle East policy! That’s the real threat!
The drama in Washington continues around President Trump's choice of CIA official Gina Haspel to be its new director. Haspel's involvement in the CIA torture program and in covering up the evidence has led some Senators feeling unsure. Is Haspel qualified to head the CIA? That depends on what you think of the CIA and its mission...
A free society needs very few laws, such as don’t use aggressive force against another person or their property; and don’t defraud someone or break a contract. Once government ventures out of these basic laws, tyranny starts to snowball. Over a couple hundred years, the snowball turns into an avalanche. Constant government aggression is met with constant blowback. Society unravels, and must begin again.
By Jacob G. Hornberger
Mark my words: American leftists who are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birthday will not make any mention of the problem of economic calculation under socialism. The reason? The calculation problem reveals that socialism is an inherently flawed economic paradigm. It makes sense that American leftists would not want to talk about something that shows that the economic system they favor is fundamentally flawed.
Imagine a socialist society as envisioned by Marx. The state owns and produces everything. That is what is meant by the socialist term “public ownership of the means of production.” All the factories, the businesses, stores, and enterprises are owned and operated by the state. Everyone in society is a government employee.
Suppose state officials decide that it’s important to produce sweaters. How many do they produce? How many factories should be built to produce them? How much money should be spent on them? How many government employees should be allocated to the project? How much should they be paid?
As Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek demonstrated, it is impossible to answer these questions with any degree of rationality. The reason for that is because under socialism, there are no prices. Without prices, it is impossible to calculate the costs of projects or evaluate their worth.
The result is what Mises called “planned chaos.” That’s what socialism always and inevitably produces — chaos. Just look at Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Nothing but economic chaos in all of them.
In a private-property, free-market economy, people are free to enter into economic trades with one another. In every trade, a person gives up something he values less for something he values more. Such trades establishe prices for various items, based on the supply of items and the demand for them.
Suppose, for example, that Peter and Paul enter into a trade in which Peter gives Paul an apple and Paul gives Peter a dollar. The price of the apple, then, is $1. If suddenly lots more people show up at Paul’s farm and express a desire for an apple, it is likely that the price of an apple will go up. If neighboring farms suddenly put their apples up for sale, it is likely that the price of an apple will go down.
It’s all based on the relative value that people subjectively place on the thing they are purchasing and the item (e.g., money) that they are giving up.
Thus, in a free market, people have a way to calculate the costs of what they are purchasing. They know what they have to give up in order to get what they want. If they subjectively decide it’s worth it to them to make the trade, they’ll do it. If not, they will walk away. The price system enables them to make a rational calculation in terms of their own personal, subjective values.
But note something important: The reason that prices come into existence is because of trades between people. Without trades, there would be no prices and, therefore, no way to make rational economic calculations.
Under socialism, there are no trades that take place because there are no traders. Everything is owned by one entity — the state. The state can’t trade with itself. Since there are no trades, there are no prices. The state’s decision to produce and distribute items, such as sweaters, becomes an entirely arbitrary process. Government officials simply decree the production of sweaters based on their own feeling that people will buy them. They do the same thing with respect to quantity and colors. They allocate arbitrary amounts of resources to factories and stores that sell sweaters even though people might want something other than sweaters.
Since it revealed an inherent and critically important flaw in the socialist paradigm, the socialist calculation critique that Mises and Hayek leveled at socialism was devastating. It has gone down in history as the “Socialist Calculation Debate.” Socialists have never been able to refute the point that Mises and Hayek made, which is why you will not find any mention of it in any of the paeans that American leftists write today celebrating Marx’s birthday.
This article was originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation.
Angered by President Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, German Chancellor Merkel has urged Europe to get its act together and stop relying on the US for defense protection. If Europe follows through, it can only be good news for the US...
By Chris Rossini
It's Spring....time to plant.
When the Fall arrives, what is it that you'd like to harvest? It's up to you. If you want cucumbers, you plant cucumber seeds. If you want tomatoes, you plant tomato seeds.
Whatever you want!
You're free to plant, and the soil will grow it. The soil won't throw you any curveballs. It won't grow a zucchini if you plant a tomato seed. It won't tell you "No," and it won't pick and choose which seeds it'll grow for you.
Even if you plant weeds by mistake, the soil will grow the weeds too.
The weeds may strangle the rest of the garden, but that's not the soil's fault. Don't blame the soil. It grew what you planted. Blame yourself.
You plant the seeds. The soil will grow them.
When Fall arrives, you'll look out at a big harvest. You get to see the results of the seeds that you planted in the past.
Good or bad, it's time to reap.
Let's say you're not happy with what you see. Come next Spring, it would be foolish to plant the same exact seeds, don't you think?
If you hate the tomatoes, it would be odd if you kept planting tomato seeds, especially since no one is forcing you to keep planting tomato seeds.
Now let's get to the point of the analogy being made here....
When we look out at society and civilization we're seeing the results of ideas that were planted in the past. We're seeing the results of ideas.
Ideas have consequences.
The ideas of communism led to the death of over 100 million people ... Bad ideas ... Weeds of the mind.
The ideas of socialism leads to impoverishment every single time it's adopted ... More virulent weeds of the mind.
It's like the farmer who hates tomatoes, but he keeps planting tomato seeds. Why would he do that? Why would he expect a different result? The soil is not going to give him a different result, even if he wants it really badly.
When the ideas of Liberty were widely held in the minds of Americans at the time of the country's founding, it produced the greatest wealth boom in the history of the world. Mankind sprang forward at warp speed!
The "Old World" of perpetual government tyranny was shaken by an earthquake of new ideas. Suddenly the individual discovered himself.
One would think we'd want more of that.
The ideas of Liberty are far superior to the 'Old World'.
Ahhhhh, but the 'Old World' doesn't give up without a fight. It's not just going to roll over.
Today, the very same America has 1,000 military bases around the world, has been at war for over 100 years with almost no break, and is the epitome of debt, welfare, and dependency.
The 'Old World' Strikes Back.
Extremely bad ideas ... extremely bad results.
Yes, the bad ideas were planted in the past. And yes, we weren't around to stop them from being planted, or even to offer an alternative.
We're here now, and we get to see the horrible results.
So what are we to do?
Keep re-enforcing the bad ideas? Keep planting the seeds of the 'Old World'?
Or do we start planting news ideas ... like liberty, private property, sound money, free markets, voluntary interactions, privacy ... and most important -- PEACE.
The soil is not withholding. It waits for us to plant. It won't throw us any curveballs.
Plant the ideas of Liberty ... and Liberty will be the harvest someday.
But nothing happens before the idea.
It's Spring....time to plant.
By David Stockman
The Donald's action to ash-can the Iranian nuclear deal marks the War Party's complete and baleful triumph. There is now nothing much left of America First.
Trump's reckless, unwarranted and utterly irrational action will pull Washington ever deeper into an incendiary middle eastern vortex of political and religious conflict that has absolutely nothing to do with the safety and security of the America people.
To the contrary, picking a fight with Tehran is an exercise in unprovoked Imperial aggression. The Iranian regime has no means to attack America militarily and has never threatened to do so. Nor has it invaded any other country in the region where it was not invited by a sovereign government host.
Even Iran's minor skirmishes with American forces in recent years have been owing to the happenstance of Washington's far-flung imperial ventures.
For example, Washington destroyed Saddam's Sunni/secular government in Iraq and installed a Shiite regime in Baghdad, thereby leaving the Sunni lands of western Iraq in chaos. Only then did Baghdad invite their shiite co-religionists from Iran to help excise the scourge of ISIS that formed from the remnants of Saddam's army and government.
Likewise, Washington and its allies sent thousands of jihadist warriors and billions of aid and supplies into Syria to topple its dully elected government. Only then did the Alawite (Shiite) Assad regime invite help from its confessional compatriots in Tehran.
And you can't find any more ludicrous example of the cat calling the kettle black than the Donald's claim that Iran is a terrorist state because it is aligned with the Shiite population of Lebanon represented by Hezbollah.
For crying out loud. The War Party pretends Washington has turned much of the middle east into rubble and barbarism in order to spread democracy -- whether they wanted it or not, and whether they were ready for it or not.
But Lebanon is a serviceable democracy and last weekend Hezbollah and its allies -- including certain Sunni factions -- won an overwhelming election victory. They now control a clear majority in its legislature, where Hezbollah will have the power to name a new Prime Minister (a Sunni) and Speaker of the Parliament (a Shiite) -- both of whom will be pledged to work with the country's Christian president.
That particular outcome of democracy the War Party can't abide. But it fairly violates the english language itself to call it state sponsored terrorism.
In a similar vein, the Houthi tribe of Shiites have dominated much of northern and western Yemen for centuries. So when a Washington installed government in Sana'a was overthrown, the Houthi took power in northern Yemen -- as had been the case during the long expanse from 1918-1990 when the two Yemens were finally unified.
But it is the Houthis who are the victims of aggression by the brutal Saudi bombing campaign that has left more than 10,000 civilians dead and the land plagued with famine, cholera, rubble, and economic collapse.
There is no telling which faction in Yemen's fratricidal civil war and invasion by Saudi Arabia is the more barbaric, but the modest aid provided by Iran to its Shiite kinsman in northern Yemen is absolutely not a case of state sponsored terrorism.
In a word, the Donald has fallen hook, line and sinker for the War Party's lie- and propaganda-filled demonization of the Iranian regime. We have debunked this false history elsewhere, but suffice to say that it boils down to two very imperialist propositions.
To wit, that Iran is not entitled to have its own foreign policy via alliances with Iraq, Syria, the dominant party of Lebanon, or the official government in Sana'a Yemen because Washington (and Israel) say so; and that it's not allowed to have even intermediate and medium range missiles (that can't reach either the US or most of Europe) to defend itself -- even though Washington has armed its far wealthier Sunni rival across the Persian Gulf with upwards of $250 billion of America's most advanced warplanes, attack helicopters, missiles, drones and sundry other accoutrements of war.
And that is to say nothing of a tiny residual capacity to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent purity (compared to 90 percent weapons grade) for civilian power reactors on fewer than one-fifth of the oldest and slowest centrifuges it had before the 2015 nuke deal.
Nor does it consider that all 17 US intelligence agencies certified in an official NIE (national intelligence estimate) in 2007 and again in 2011 that Iran only had a small weaponization research program between 1999 and 2003, which was then abandoned and never restarted.
Moreover, the documentary proof of that was thoroughly investigated by the IAEA after the 2015 deal, which then re-validated that the Iranian weapons program was indeed disbanded in 2003.
In short, the Donald has fallen for a pack of lies and distortions that are only remotely plausible if the aim is to find enemies and territories around the planet to police, occupy or otherwise hegemonize. And to thereby keep the Warfare State in business, its $800 billion budget funded, and the Imperial City's vast beehive of think-tanks, contractors, NGOs, lobbyists, and racketeers in clover.
The invincible grip on power of the above -- the Deep State for short-hand purposes -- has now been proven. And that's a full-on tragedy because the Donald's inchoate notion of America First was an incipient challenge to its power -- the only one since the end of the cold war.
To be sure, Donald Trump never had a coherent or articulated notion of America First. But all of his impulses were in the right direction.
Perhaps like renegade Sarah Palin before him, for example, he could see Russia from his airy on the 68th floor of Trump Tower and recognize that it is no threat whatsoever to America's security.
That is, from his perch the Donald could gaze upon metro New York's $1.6 trillion of GDP, which is greater than the entirety of Russia's economy ($1.5 trillion GDP); and whether he knew the precise numbers or not, his impulse toward rapprochement with Putin was spot on.
Likewise, whether he had gotten George Bush's folly in Iraq right on day one or not -- he was loud and clear in his consistent denunciation years before Hillary sprouted her dawkish feathers.
Nor was he any less correct when he averred that NATO was obsolete. After all, the GDP of the EU-29 is 10X larger than Russia's, and their combined military spending is 4X greater.
If you're not a prisoner of Imperial Washington's twisted group think you cannot possibly believe that Russia's supremely rational leader -- Cool Hand Vlad -- intends to militarily assault his European neighbors. He'd like to supply their markets, not occupy their cities -- something that anyone except the demented, self-serving bureaucrats of NATO can easily understand.
Ditto for Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia et. al. They aren't cold war "dominoes" because the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history 27 years ago; they don't threaten America directly, either, because they don't have two dimes to rub together economically or militarily; and whether they affiliate with the Saudi-Sunni axis or the Iran-Shiite crescent makes not one damn bit of difference for the safety and security of American citizens in Lincoln NE or Springfield MA.
Read the rest here
Yesterday President Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Washington's European partners failed to follow suit, opting to remain in the deal. For now. Will Trump's team be able to take the world back to pre-2015, when all were agreed on sanctioning Iran? Or has Trump backed the US into a corner? Who wins from Trump's move?
By Daniel McAdams
Yesterday, President Trump announced that he was canceling US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. The president's assertions were ludicrous and factually incorrect, but the neocons who were no doubt behind the speech have never been all that wedded to the truth. It became obvious fairly on that Trump's rationale was not to be taken seriously, when he cited last week's comical stage performance by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "Iran Lied" about its nuclear program.
Netanyahu's fairy tale required us to believe that the Iranians were storing their most sensitive national security (paper) documents and compact discs in an unguarded desert hut, which the crack Israeli team of intelligence operatives were able to discover and remove by the truckload right under the noses of what they claim is among the most totalitarian "regimes" on earth.
And even if one believes that fairy tale, one is required to suspend logic and reason and conclude that evidence that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons technology but had halted the program by 2003 is actually proof that Iran is currently pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities -- despite repeated inspections that have concluded otherwise. Really, it's something a child could see through. Which is perhaps why the neocons were so successful at packaging it for Trump's consumption.
Likewise Trump's claim that Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism...for among other things fighting actual terrorists (al-Qaeda and ISIS) in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government!
Only in the twisted world of the neocons can one country arming al-Qaeda and ISIS (the US) be "anti-terrorist" and another country killing al-Qaeda and ISIS (Iran) be "pro-terrorist."
But all that aside, there is something potentially earth-shattering in what at first appears to be just bluster and blunder by President Trump. With neocons in charge of the words coming out of his mouth we should not believe it was an accident.
When President Trump uttered this line: "Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other terrorist networks," he was signaling his official determination that Iran is one of the "associated forces" that is fair game for US bombs as outlined in the post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force.
In short, Trump's sentence indicates, in our convoluted and post-Constitutional current reality, that President Trump believes he has all the authority he needs to initiate an attack on Iran.
Forget all the other speculation on Trump's speech. This is the only thing to really focus on.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.
The new, bi-partisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) introduced by Senators Kaine and Corker is billed as evidence that Congress is finally taking its Constitutional war-making authority seriously. This could not be further from the truth. Congress is about to grant the president "forever war" power and return to its slumber. Bad for America.