Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rex Tillerson: Neocon


By Michael S. Rozeff - January 27, 2018 at 01:18PM

undefined

In case it is not clear, the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is a neocon. Strong evidence of this unfortunate fact is his speech on January 17, 2018 at Stanford’s Hoover Institute. After warmly acknowledging his debt to Dr. Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, Tillerson goes into his “Remarks on the Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria.”

What do we hear? “…it is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.” He wants the US to stay in Syria indefinitely, its purposes being to defend the American nation, to cause the war to end, and to create a new government/state in Syria.

We’ve heard the same neocon language in the past 17 years regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other countries. None of these countries are “crucial” to American security. Entry by US forces into each and every one of them has increased American insecurity, generating ever more Muslim terrorist forces. None of these places posed state-led threats to Americans and none posed non-state forces that could not have been addressed by means other than the failed methods that the US government adopted, symbolized by the entirely unnecessary and counter-productive War on Terror.

In his speech, Tillerson presents new elaborations, new rationales, and new flowerings of neocon thought, but the root of it all remains unchanged. It’s the same old rot we’ve heard for the past 17 years and longer. The War on Terror remains fixed firmly in his mind. This he makes clear, saying “The fight against ISIS is not over.” And he says “Similarly, we must persist in Syria to thwart al-Qaida…” The secondary excuse for the uninvited US presence inside Syria is to get rid of the Assad government and create a new state. “Additionally, a total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad and continue his brutal treatment against his own people. A murderer of his own people cannot generate the trust required for long-term stability.”

Baloney. Tillerson’s language echoes the language used against Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. The US always resorts to holier-than-thou language like this when it wants to justify the empire’s presence in some place that has nothing to do with American security.

Tillerson knows enough not to name “nation-building” in Syria as US policy. Instead he uses a euphemism: “STABILIZATION”.

The world is not a pretty place everywhere, not even in parts of the Americas that I’ll refrain from naming; but some are close to the White House. This doesn’t justify a costly US presence that, in any event, is very likely not only to fail but also to produce a worse situation.

It’s not the role of the US government to dry out an alcoholic world, or to get it off drugs, pretty it up, wash it clean, apply new makeup, get it a paying job, find it a mate, turn it into a responsible citizen, and have it raise its children as good parents. Why not? Because it cannot! It doesn’t know enough to do it and it cannot know enough to do it, so that when it tries the results are no better and often worse than doing nothing at all, not to mention the costs.

People in power who use lofty language as in this speech present to us a scenario, which is that they have surveyed the turf, discovered the issues, and formulated a plan. They make out that they actually understand human problems and can do something about them using the powers of their office. We should believe none of this. The processes that they think are predictable and governable are neither. Non-ergodicity rules much of human life.

NON-ERGODIC: “Attribute of a behavior that is in certain crucial respects incomprehensible through observation either for lack of repetition, e.g., by involving only transient states which are unique, or for lack of stabilities, e.g., when transition probabilities (see probabilities) are so variable that there are not enough observations available to ascertain them. Evolution and social processes involving structural changes are inherently non-ergodic. To understand non-ergodic behavior requires either reference to the underlying organization of the system exhibiting it or the study of a large sample of systems of the same kind (see ergodic). (Krippendorff)”

Reprinted with permission from LewRocwell.com.

from Ron Paul Institute NeoCon Watch

via IFTTT

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How President Trump Normalized Neoconservatism


By Ilana Mercer - January 17, 2018 at 07:20AM

undefined

It's fact: Neoconservatives are pleased with President Trump’s foreign policy.

A couple of months back, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake let it know he was in neoconservative nirvana:

"… for Venezuela, [Donald Trump] came very close to calling for regime change. 'The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable,' Trump said. 'We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.'"

"For a moment," swooned Lake, "I closed my eyes and thought I was listening to a Weekly Standard editorial meeting."

Onward to Venezuela!

Mr. Lake, a neoconservative, was loving every moment. In error, he and his kind confuse an expansionist foreign policy with “American exceptionalism.”

It's not.

As it happens, neocons are in luck. Most Americans know little of the ideas that animated their country’s founding. They're more likely to hold ideas in opposition to the classical-liberal philosophy of the Founders, and, hence, wish to see the aggrandizement of the coercive, colossal, Warfare State.

That's just the way things are.

So, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have enlisted the West in “a proxy Sunni-Shia religious war,” Riyadh’s ultimate aim. Donald Trump has been perfectly willing to partake.

After a campaign of "America First," the president sided with Sunni Islam while demonizing Iran. Iranians have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks in the US between 1975-2015; Saudi Arabians murdered 2369!

Iranians recently reelected a reformer. Pray tell who elected the Gulf petrostate sheiks?

Moderates danced in the streets of Tehran when President Hassan Rouhani was reelected. Curiously, they've recently been rioting.

If past is prologue, Ron Paul is probably right when he says the CIA is likely meddling in Iranian politics. For the Left and the pseudo-Right, this is a look-away issue. As the left-liberal establishment lectures daily, to question the Central Intelligence Agency—its spooks are also agitating against all vestiges of President Trump's original "America First" plank—is to "undermine American democracy."

Besides, "good" Americans know that only the Russians "meddle."

In Saudi Arabia, a new, more-dangerous regime is consolidating regional power. Almost overnight has the kingdom shifted from rule by family dynasty (like that of the Clintons and the Bushes), to a more authoritarian style of one-man rule.

When it comes to the Saudi-Israeli-American-Axis-of-Angels, the Kushner-Trump Administration—is that another bloodline in-the-making?—has not broken with America's ruling dynastic families (the Clintons and the Bushes, aforementioned).

It's comforting to know Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in the UN's human rights affairs. In January of last year, the Kingdom executed 47 people in one day, including a rather benign Shiite cleric. Fear not, they went quickly, beheaded with a sword.

Then US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, a woman as dumb and dangerous as Nikki Haley, was cool with the carnage. (One almost misses Henry Kissinger's realpolitik. At least the man was highly educated and deeply knowledgeable about history and world affairs. Second only to Jared Kushner, of course.)

Our bosom buddies, the Saudi’s, are currently barricading Yemeni ports. No aid gets through her hermetically sealed ports. Yemenis are dying. Some Twitter followers twittered with joy at the sight of starving Yemeni babies, like this one. Oh well, Yemeni babies can be sinister.

No one would deny the largely neoconservative nature of Trump’s National Security Strategy. Tucked in there somewhere is the Trumpian theme of "sovereignty," but in watered-down words. The promised Wall has given way to "multilayered technology"; to the "deployment of additional personnel,” and to the tried-and-tested (not!) "vetting of prospective immigrants, refugees, and other foreign visitors."

These are mouthfuls Barack Obama and Genghis Bush would hardly oppose.

"It’s often said that the Trump administration is 'isolationist,'" wrote historian Andrew J. Bacevich, in the UK Spectator. Untrue. "In fact, we are now witnessing a dramatic escalation in the militarization of US foreign policy in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan. This has not been announced, but it is happening, and much of it without ... any debate in Congress or the media."

Indeed, while outlining his "new" Afghanistan plan, POTUS had conceded that "the American people are weary of war without victory." (Make that war, full-stop.) Depressingly, the president went on to promise an increase in American presence in Afghanistan. By sending 4000 additional soldiers there, President Trump alleged he was fighting terrorism, yet not undertaking nation building.

This is tantamount to talking out of both sides of one's mouth.

Teasing apart these two elements is near-impossible. Send "4,000 additional soldiers to add to the 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan," and you've done what Obama and Bush before you did in that blighted and benighted region: muddle along; kill some civilians mixed in with some bad guys; break bread with tribal leaders (who hate your guts); mediate and bribe.

Above all, spend billions not your own to perfect the credo of a global fighting force that doesn’t know Shiite from Shinola.

The upshot? It's quite acceptable, on the Left and the pseudo-Right, to casually quip about troops in Niger and Norway. "We have soldiers in Niger and Norway? Of course we do. We need them."

With neoconservatism normalized, there is no debate, disagreement or daylight between our dangerously united political factions.

This is the gift President Trump has given mainstream neoconservatives—who now comfortably include neoliberals and all Conservatism Inc., with the exceptions of Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson.

How exactly did the president normalize neoconservatism: In 2016, liberals accused candidate Trump of isolationism. Neoconservatives—aka Conservatism Inc.—did the same.

Having consistently complained of his isolationism, the Left and the phony Right cannot but sanction President Trump's interventionism. The other option is to admit that we of the callused Old Right, who rejoiced at the prospects and promise of non-interventionism, were always right.

Not going to happen.

To some, the normalizing of neoconservatism by a president who ran against it is a stroke of genius; of a piece with Bill Clinton's triangulation tactics. To others, it's a cynical sleight of hand.

Ilana Mercer has been writing a paleolibertarian column since 1999, and is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016) & “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa” (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook,Gab & YouTube.

from Ron Paul Institute NeoCon Watch

via IFTTT

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Surrounded by Neocons


By - January 09, 2018 at 09:02AM

undefined

Award winning journalist James Risen has recently described in some detail his sometimes painful relationship with The New York Times. His lengthy account is well worth reading as it demonstrates how successive editors of the paper frequently cooperated with the government to suppress stories on torture and illegal activity while also self-censoring to make sure that nothing outside the framework provided by the “war on terror” should be seriously discussed. It became a faithful lap dog for an American role as global hegemon, promoting government half-truths and suppressing information that it knew to be true but which would embarrass the administration in power, be they Democrats or Republicans.

If one were to obtain a similar insider account of goings-on at the other national “newspaper of record” The Washington Post it is quite likely that comparable trimming of the narrative also took place. To be sure, the Post is worse than the Times, characterized by heavily editorializing in its news coverage without necessarily tipping off the reader when “facts” end and speculation begins. In both publications, stories about Iran or Russia routinely begin with an assertion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that Iran is the aggressor in the Middle East, contentions that have not been demonstrated and can easily be challenged. Both publications also have endorsed every American war since 2001, including Iraq, Libya and the current mess in Syria, one indication of the quality of their reporting and analysis.

recent op-ed in the Times by Bret Stephens is a perfect example of warmongering mischief wrapped in faux expert testimony to make it palatable. Stephens is the resident neocon at the Times. He was brought over from the Wall Street Journal when it was determined that his neocon colleague David Brooks had become overly squishy, while the resident “conservative” Russ Douthat had proven to be a bit too cautious and even rational to please the increasingly hawkish senior editors.

Stephens’ article, entitled Finding the Way Forward on Iran sparkles with throwaway gems like “Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal” and “Real democracies don’t live in fear of their own people” and even “it’s not too soon to start rethinking the way we think about Iran.” Or try “A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.”

Bret has been a hardliner on Iran for years. Early on in this op-ed he makes very clear that he wants it to be dealt with forcibly because it has “centrifuges, ballistic missiles, enriched uranium [and] fund[s] Hezbollah, assist Bashar al-Assad, arm[s] the Houthis, [and] imprison[s] the occasional British or American citizen.” He describes how Iran is a very corrupt place run by religious leaders and Revolutionary Guards and proposes that their corruption be exposed so that the Iranian people can take note and rise up in anger. And if exposure doesn’t work, they should be hammered with sanctions. He does not explain why sanctions, which disproportionately hurt the people he expects to rise up, will bring about any real change.

Stephens cites two of his buddies Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who are apparently experts on how to squeeze Iran. Weinstein prefers exposing the misdeeds of the Mullahs to anger the Iranian people while Dubowitz prefers punitive sanctions “for corruption.”

The article does not reveal that Weinstein and Dubowitz are long time critics of Iran, are part of the Israel Lobby and just happen to be Jewish, as is Stephens. The Hudson Institute and the FDD are leading neocon and pro-Israel fronts. So my question becomes, “Why Iran?” The often-heard Israeli complaint about its being unfairly picked on could reasonably be turned on its head in asking the same about Iran. In fact, Iran compares favorably with Israel. It has no nuclear weapons, it does not support any of the Sunni terrorist groups that are chopping heads, and it has not disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people that it rules over. The fact is that Iran is being targeted because Israel sees it as its prime enemy in the region and has corrupted many “opinion makers” in the U.S., to include Stephens, to hammer home that point. To be sure, Iran is a very corrupt place run by people who should not be running a hot dog stand, but the same applies to the United States and Israel. And there are lots of places that are not being targeted like Iran that are far worse, including good friend and ally of both Jerusalem and Washington, Saudi Arabia.

Oddly enough Stephens, Weinstein and Dubowitz do not get into any of that back story, presumably because it would be unseemly. And, of course and unfortunately, theNew York Times opinion page is not unique. An interesting recent podcast interview by Politico‘s Chief International Affairs correspondent Susan Glasser with leading neoconservatives Eliot Cohen and Max Boot, is typical of how the media selectively shapes a narrative to suit its own biases. Glasser, Cohen and Boot are all part of the establishment foreign policy consensus in the U.S. and therefore both hate and fail to understand the Trump phenomenon. Both Cohen and Booth were vociferous founding members of the #NeverTrump foreign policy resistance movement.

Boot describes the new regime’s foreign policy as “kowtow[ing] to dictators and undermin[ing] American support for freedom and democracy around the world,” typical neocon leitmotifs. Glasser appears to be in love with her interviewees and hurls softball after softball. She describes Boot as “fantastic” and Cohen receives the epithet “The Great.” The interview itself is remarkably devoid of any serious discussion of foreign policy and is essentially a sustained assault on Trump while also implicitly supporting hardline national security positions. Cohen fulminates about “a very serious Russian attack on the core of our political system. I mean, I don’t know how you get more reckless and dangerous than that,” while Boot asks what “has to be done” about Iran.

Pompous ass Cohen, who interjected in the interview that “and you know, Max and I are both intellectuals,” notably very publicly refused to have any part in a Trump foreign policy team during the campaign but later when The Donald was actually elected suggested that the new regime might approach him with humility to offer a senior position and he just might condescend to join them. They did not do so, and he wrote an angry commentary on their refusal.

Hating Trump is one thing, but I would bet that if the question of a hardline policy vis-à-vis Russia or the Jerusalem Embassy move had come up Cohen and Boot would have expressed delight. The irony is that Trump is in fact pursuing a basically neocon foreign policy which the two men would normally support, but they appear to be making room for Trump haters in the policy formulation process to push the national security consensus even farther to the right. Indeed, in another article by Boot at Foreign Policy he writes “I applaud Trump’s decisions to provide Ukraine with arms to defend itself from Russian aggression, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and to accelerate former President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting the Islamic State.” Cohen meanwhile applauds the embassy move, though he warns that Trump’s success in so doing might embolden him to do something reckless over North Korea.

Perhaps one should not be astonished that leading neocons appearing in the mainstream media will continue to have their eyes on the ball and seek for more aggressive engagement in places like Iran and Russia. The media should be faulted because it rarely publishes any contrary viewpoint and it also consistently fails to give any space to the considerable downside to the agitprop. It must be reassuring for many Americans to know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing itself to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the United States and it will be sharing information on the appropriate preparations with the American people. There will be a public session on how to prepare for a nuclear explosion on January 16th.

CDC experts will consider “planning and preparation efforts” for such a strike. “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” the Center elaborated in its press release on the event.

That the United States should be preparing for a possible nuclear future can in part be attributed to recent commentary by the “like, really smart” and “very stable genius” who is the nation’s chief executive, but the fuel being poured on the fire for war is the very same neocons who are featured in the mainstream media as all-purpose experts and have succeeded in selling the snake oil about America’s proper role as aggressor-in-chief for the entire world. It would be an unparalleled delight to be able to open a newspaper and not see Bret Stephens, Eliot Cohen, Max Boot or even the redoubtable Bill Kristol grinning back from the editorial page, but I suppose I am only dreaming.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.



from Ron Paul Institute NeoCon Watch

via IFTTT