Tag Archive: US Foreign Policy

Jan 07 2015

CIA Secrecy and Drone Strikes Affect on US Foreign Policy

From torture and black sites to continued drone strikes on sovereign countries, the CIA has been secretly undermining US foreign policy around the world but mostly in the Middle East and Near Asia.

MSNBC’s host Rachel Maddow discusses how the CIA making deals for black site torture facilities undercut the State Department calling for open disclosure about the prisoners that were being held in those countries.

She is joined by Philip Zelikow, counselor to the State Department from 2005 to 2007, to discuss the conflict between the CIA and State Department.

It isn’t just the secret dealing to cover up the crime of torture that is damaging foreign policy, drone strikes that allegedly target Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders have angered the governments of the countries that have been attacked. The effectiveness of these strikes are dubious since there is no evidence of their effectiveness. What is certain is that the strikes have killed more civilians than terrorists and made Americans less safe.

Scott Horton, human rights attorney and contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, joined Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to the US secret foreign policy of drone sites and torture black sites.

At least nine Pakistanis were killed Sunday in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, the first reported drone strike of 2015. News accounts of the strike are based on unnamed Pakistani government and security officials. The Obama administration has said nothing so far. For years, the United States did not even publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone strikes. The drone program is just one example of the national security state’s reliance on secret operations. The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report revealed another example: the shadowy network of overseas CIA black sites where the United States held and tortured prisoners. The report also noted the CIA shrouded itself in a cloak of secrecy keeping policymakers largely in the dark about the brutality of its detainee interrogations. The agency reportedly deceived the White House, the National Security Council, the Justice Department and Congress about the efficacy of its controversial interrogation techniques



Full transcript can be read here

Jul 19 2014

Stop Listening to Morons

Surface To Air Missiles Kill People

I know I’m a silly and naive hippie. Very Serious People know the importance of arming the rebels, and the rebels of the rebels, and of the governments fighting the rebels, and of the random people who might just be good guys today but who knows about tomorrow, because it’s what we know how to do and our friends get rich in the process.

But, you know, weapons kill people. That’s what they’re for.

Atrios

We need to stop arming morons but most of all we need to stop listening to them.

In the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17 yesterday that took the lives of 290, there is a lot of ranting and finger wagging among war hawk conservatives who believe this tragedy could have been averted of we had just given the new Ukrainian government weapons. Considering the clear possibility that the plane was taken down by a Russian made Soviet era surface to air missile, the logic of these neo-cons is baffling. The US backing, arming and training rebels and rogue governments hasn’t worked very well in the past and isn’t working out very well today in either the Middle East or Latin  and South America

Charlie Pierce thinks we should stop listening to morons, in particular a couple of our elected morons, who have never seen a war they didn’t like or a terrorist under every rock, want more weapons and more war. Sen. John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ):

“It’s just been cowardly,” McCain said. “It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.” He speculated that the Russian separatists who allegedly shot down the plane “may not even have occupied and had access to these weapons, which apparently they got at an airfield,” [..]

“First, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory. Second of all, move some of our troops in to areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, in other countries like the Baltics and others. Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places. And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s just for openers.”

This from the man who wanted to arm the Syrian rebels who were affiliated with Al Qaeda, some of whom are now trying to overthrow the American backed Iraqi government. John, please, just please, retire.

And of course the call for throwing more weapons into the mix wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ fear mongering for Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

“[W]e need more leadership from the president,” King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on MSNBC. “He gave this a passing reference in his speech in Delaware, then went on to tell Joe Biden jokes and take the usual shots at Republicans – which is fair game, but not on this day – and then to go to New York and go to two fundraisers. I mean, I can’t imagine [former Presidents Dwight] Eisenhower or [John F.] Kennedy or [Ronald] Reagan doing that.”

Ronnie Reagan? Seriously. The man who slept through the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Kamchatka Peninsula by Soviet forces in 1983 and took three days to make a statement? Pete, get a grip

More of what Charlie said about arming morons:

I often refer to the scene featuring the great character actor Philip Bosco, as a judge in the small upstate New York town that is the setting for the vastly underrated Paul Newman movie Nobody’s Fool. Newman is before the judge because he has punched a local cop — played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman — and, in response, the cop had fired off a warning shot that frightened an old woman a few blocks over. Bosco listens to the story and then addresses the police chief. “You know my views on arming morons,” Bosco says. “If you arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise, it isn’t good sport.”

It is becoming plain that the atrocity visited on the Malaysian jetliner is a direct result of arming morons. The New York Times obtained audiotape, allegedly from the people who shot down the plane, and these guys sound like they shouldn’t be trusted with a lemon zester, let alone a surface-to-air missile. And it is quite plain that the one thing this situation doesn’t need is to arm more morons, or to have another superpower come bungling in. Either by accident or by design — and Josh Marshall is right to point out that, if it’s the former, that’s infinitely worse — Vladimir Putin is responsible for a horrendous crime, and one that weakens his international standing. The only thing that would bail him out would be a flood of American arms to our own set of morons. The only thing that would bail him out would be if we all started listening to John McCain again.

We do know that the separatists in Eastern Ukraine have been armed by the Russians and have taken credit for bring down other planes over the last several weeks. If this is true, the culpability for this tragic loss of lives lies directly at the feet of Vladimir Putin, he alone has the power to stop this. Like Putin, the US needs to stop arming morons and stop listening to them as well.

Apr 19 2011

Whither America?

Crossposted from Antemedius

The other day, on April 15, veteran journalist, war correspondent and truthdig.com columnist Chris Hedges was interviewed on RT News about the state of American society, repeating his oft stated warnings about the long corporate assault on and takeover of politics, the seeming death of reason and critical thinking in public discourse, and the development of a feudalistic “totalitarian democracy” in which the vast majority of the population is reduced through a media manufactured state of ignorance, inability to think clearly, and entertainment dazed complacence to a state of serfdom as a renewable ‘resource’ for a capitalism defined by American and multinational big business, and critiquing from this perspective the US budget developments of the past few days.

The budget is closing American schools and libraries across the country while firing teachers and taking away collective bargaining rights, Hedges notes, while banks and the largest corporations are not paying any taxes, including Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, and GE. Protesters gathered on Saturday April 17 at New York City’s Union Square for the Sound of Resistance protests, part of the US Uncut tax weekend protests challenging the banks, most notably Bank of America, for avoiding paying taxes.

usuncut.org’s about page states that:

US Uncut is a grassroots movement taking direct action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public service cuts across the U.S. Washington’s proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans. That’s unacceptable.

Obama seeks to trim $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next ten years by cutting or eliminating over 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education. For instance, it cuts in half funding to subsidize heating for low-income Americans; limits an expansion of the Pell grant program for students; and decreases Environmental Protection Agency funding by over 12%.

Meanwhile, Republicans are using their new House majority to slash spending even more brutally. The GOP has made it clear that they are bent on raiding funds for Social Security, Medicare, education; determined to kill health care reform; and gut needed investments in infrastructure, climate change and job creation, at a time when America needs it most.

These cuts will come on top of very painful austerity measures made at the state-level across our nation–worth hundreds of billions–since the recession began.

In short, budget cuts demonstrate that Washington has abandoned ordinary Americans.

What is making the situation worse is the ignorance of politicians and others leaping around he fringes. Hedges also reminds that the US is the only industrialized nation in the world that argues over the existence of evolution. Magical thinking, combined with a military superpower, is frightening, he says. “We invest emotional energy on the ridiculous and the sublime… the liberal class has been decimated… what used to be unconstitutional is now legal“, he says, pointing to illegal searches under the Patriot Act and corporate bailouts under the health care legislation. The rights and needs of citizens are being ignored in favor of corporations.

Whither America?

While all across the blogosphere and in mainstream media I watch people argue about which faction of the ‘corporatist party’ to elect in 2012, I’m reminded strongly here of something Chris Floyd wrote nearly four years ago, in September 2007:

Mar 27 2011

The Curious Libya ‘opposition’

Crossposted from Antemedius

Who exactly are these rebels we’re supporting?

A short quote from a very exhaustive annotated article:

The so-called Libyan opposition itself is a hodge-podge mix of political opportunists, ex-CIA-trained Mujahideen guerillas such as Abdel Hakim al-Hasidi of the so-called Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who openly admits to close ties to al-Qaeda going back to Afghanistan.12 That certainly raises the level of incredibility of Washington’s most bizarre military crusade of recent times.

As well, the opposition includes former senior Gaddafi regime members who saw greener grass on the US, British and French-backed opposition side, and outright cutthroats who, encouraged by Washington, London or Paris smelled the chance to grab control of one of the richest lands on Earth.

Their “opposition,” unlike in Tunisia or elsewhere, was never “non-violent.” It was an armed revolt from the git-go, a war of tribe against tribe, not of surging aspirations for democracy. NATO member countries are being told by Washington to back one band of tyrants to oust another whose agenda does not comply with what the Pentagon calls Full Spectrum Dominance.

Jan 30 2011

Egypt, Jordan, and Fear Based US Foreign Policy

So here I sit to face

That same old fire place

Gettin’ ready for the same old explosion

Goin’ through my mind

And soon enough time will tell,

About the circus in the wishing well

And someone who will buy and sell for me

Someone to toll my bell


Jimi Hendrix, Burning of the Midnight Lamp

In 1991 Sheldon L. Richman at The CATO Institute virtually gave away the US Foreign Policy game for anyone who hadn’t already seen through the long years of the “spreading freedom and democracy” smoke and mirror show emanating from every US administration since Eisenhower’s warning about the Military Industrial Complex, in a long and very detailed policy analysis article titled  “Ancient History”: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention:

After 70 years of broken Western promises regarding Arab independence, it should not be surprising that the West is viewed with suspicion and hostility by the populations (as opposed to some of the political regimes) of the Middle East.[3] The United States, as the heir to British imperialism in the region, has been a frequent object of suspicion. Since the end of World War II, the United States, like the European colonial powers before it, has been unable to resist becoming entangled in the region’s political conflicts. Driven by a desire to keep the vast oil reserves in hands friendly to the United States, a wish to keep out potential rivals (such as the Soviet Union), opposition to neutrality in the cold war, and domestic political considerations, the United States has compiled a record of tragedy in the Middle East.

[snip]

If the chief natural resource of the Middle East were bananas, the region would not have attracted the attention of U.S. policymakers as it has for decades. Americans became interested in the oil riches of the region in the 1920s, and two U.S. companies, Standard Oil of California and Texaco, won the first concession to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. They discovered oil there in 1938, just after Standard Oil of California found it in Bahrain. The same year Gulf Oil (along with its British partner Anglo-Persian Oil) found oil in Kuwait. During and after World War II, the region became a primary object of U.S. foreign policy. It was then that policymakers realized that the Middle East was “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.“[4]

Subsequently, as a result of cooperation between the U.S. government and several American oil companies, the United States replaced Great Britain as the chief Western power in the region.[5] In Iran and Saudi Arabia, American gains were British (and French) losses.[6] Originally, the dominant American oil interests had had limited access to Iraqi oil only (through the Iraq Petroleum Company, under the 1928 Red Line Agreement). In 1946, however, Standard Oil of New Jersey and Mobil Oil Corp., seeing the irresistible opportunities in Saudi Arabia, had the agreement voided.[7] When the awakening countries of the Middle East asserted control over their oil resources, the United States found ways to protect its access to the oil. Nearly everything the United States has done in the Middle East can be understood as contributing to the protection of its long-term access to Middle Eastern oil and, through that control, Washington’s claim to world leadership. The U.S. build-up of Israel and Iran as powerful gendarmeries beholden to the United States, and U.S. aid given to “moderate,” pro-Western Arab regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, were intended to keep the region in friendly hands. That was always the meaning of the term “regional stability.“[8]

Dec 27 2010

World Has Had Enough Of U.S. Imperialism

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and is the author of “Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire” (1968 & 2003), “Trade, Development and Foreign Debt” (1992 & 2009) and of “The Myth of Aid” (1971).

ISLET engages in research regarding domestic and international finance, national income and balance-sheet accounting with regard to real estate, and the economic history of the ancient Near East. Michael acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide including Iceland, Latvia and China on finance and tax law.

Here Hudson talks with The Real News Networks’ Paul Jay about the 800+ empire of military bases the U.S. has established around the globe, about how all of the money that the military spends abroad is spent on foreign economies and is then “siphon[ed] up into the central banks. And the central banks would have nothing to do with these dollars but to keep their currency stable by recycling the dollars into US Treasury bills.” and about how “If it weren’t for the military deficit, America would have had to finance its own domestic budget deficit. It’s been foreigners that are financing the budget deficit.”

Hudson concludes here with the observation that “Now that foreigners are essentially saying, we don’t want any more dollars, we’re not going to fund your deficit, all of a sudden they think: who’s going to fund the deficit if not foreign central banks? The answer is: American labor, the American middle class and working families are going to fund it, not the military.”

The rest of the world has had enough of financing it’s own encirclement and subjugation by the U.S. military.

From here on in it is you who is going to be paying the bill…



Real News Network – December 26, 2010

World Tired of Paying Bill for US Military

Michael Hudson: Major countries looking for alternatives to US dollar

transcript follows

Dec 06 2010

Ann Wright: WikiLeaks and Accountability

Mary Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. (wikipedia)

“We were told as diplomats, ‘Don’t ever put anything in a cable you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper.’ It shows that they’re a lot of arrogant people, that the system itself wasn’t checking itself,” says Wright of the latest documents released from WikiLeaks.  Meanwhile, several of the diplomatic cables released depict possibly illegal actions by the U.S. government, and Wright notes that the chances of anyone being held accountable are slim.

Ann Wright joined Laura Flanders of GritTV to discuss the latest releases from WikiLeaks, what they tell us about the U.S. Government and Defense and State departments, and what should happen, but probably won’t, to the people implicated therein.


GritTV.org

Although WikiLeaks has had problems since the latest release with hacking, denial of service attacks, web hosts closing their sites down, and domain name registrars pulling their domain name, you can always get to their site by navigating to any of the WikiLeaks mirror sites listed at wikileaks.info: