May 21, 2019

Earth to Washington, D.C.: Russia will never give up ports in Syria and Ukraine

sevastopolThere are four days to go before the election and voters are up to their ears in the usual cries of “most important election of our lifetimes” and “we’re at a crossroads,” the latter suggesting, as usual, that the very nature of the republic is at stake.

In reality, there are very few policy differences between the two major party candidates. Both are protectionists. Yes, Trump presents his protectionism with the rhetoric of a classic conservative mercantilist, while Clinton tries to sound more like a socialist unionist. But in the end, they are both willing to champion destructive trade policies to appease specials interests.

Both promise to sign family leave legislation, forcing employers to provide this compensation, which they will either subtract from monetary compensation or add to the prices of their products. Neither Trump nor Clinton have said anything remotely suggesting they will rein in government spying or protect civil liberties in general. And they both promise yet another war of some sort in the Middle East, this time against paper-tiger-boogeyman-of-the-month, ISIS.

But there is one significant policy upon which the candidates appear to disagree, relations with Russia. Trump has stuck by his position to attempt to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, despite the ammunition it has given Clinton in portraying him as being influenced by a foreign power and even a Putin “puppet.”

Clinton has maintained the Establishment position: Putin is aggressive, seeks to expand Russia’s borders and the U.S. must remain firm on curbing this ambition, including military intefvention in the Ukraine.

There is only one problem with the Establishment narrative: It has no basis in reality. A quick glance at maps of NATO in 1991 and 2016, respectively/ makes it abundantly clear that it is not Russia that has expanded over the past 25 years. On the contrary, NATO has expanded eastward, breaking well-documented promises to then-Premier Mikhail Gorbachev it would not do so if he acquiesced to the reunification of Germany. Gorbachev kept his promise; U.S.-led NATO did not.

With NATO now literally on its border, Russia has two things left to lose: it’s only two warm water ports in Tartus, Syria and Sevastopol, Ukraine. And guess where the U.S. has focused its latest “regime change” efforts? The $100 prize goes to the nice lady in the second row who said, “Syria and Ukraine.”

Aggression doesn’t get any more naked than this and, in case you haven’t noticed with all the e-mail servers and groping dominating the news cycles, the Russian’s have zero sense of humor at this point. Yes, there are cover stories on both sides for what is going on in Syria and Ukraine, but the bottom line is this: Russia is not going to give up those ports without a fight. And with a GDP roughly the size of Italy’s, they can’t fight a conventional war against the U.S.

Do the math.

The scariest part is the indifference with which beltway elites seem to be treating the overt preparations for war in Russia. That any intervention by the “exceptional nation” might be resisted with force by a major power seems completely beyond the comprehension of the enlightened ones, as evidenced by the stunned reaction to joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford’s blunt answer to Republican Sen. Roger Whicker on why a no-fly zone over Syria might not be such a swell idea:

Right now, Senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria it would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.

Yes, there are many in the national media pooh-poohing “alarmism” over Russia’s recent moves, writing them off as election-year posturing or mere coincidence. Who ever heard of a world war starting due to major powers butting heads over a tiny country, right?

Maps don’t lie. Whatever Washington and Moscow says or does today, they are both involved in conflicts involving assets the Russians are not going to relinquish, in places the United States have no legitimate reason to be in the first place. This doesn’t end well unless the U.S. changes course, something Hillary Clinton has firmly resolved not to do.

She cannot be allowed to ascend to the presidency. If Trump is too flawed, there is still a chance for peace with Libertarian Party Nominee Gary Johnson.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Isn’t Hillary Clinton’s Syria no-fly zone worse than Donald Trump’s lewdness?

ap_16284103255269Unsurprisingly, Sunday’s presidential debate opened with a question on Trump’s “locker room talk” scandal. Neither Trump nor his supporters raised any serious objection. It had to be asked and Trump handled it about as well as anyone could expect to handle his indefensible comments. There is even an argument for it being charitable to Trump to open the debate with it, allowing him to address it and get it out of the way, instead of it hanging over the debate like a Sword of Damocles, waiting to torpedo any momentum Trump might have built later in the evening. John King made exactly that argument for why he opened a presidential debate with a Newt Gingrich scandal back in 2012.

And while the “debate” never got far out of the gutter for long, the two candidates did manage to move on and discuss other issues, one of which is getting surprisingly little emphasis from the media or the public at large: the candidates’ positions on Syria and Russia. Here, we have one of the few genuine issues of substance upon which the candidates fundamentally disagree, one far more important than any idiotic statements either of them may have made when they thought no one was listening.

Clinton has stuck by her position that deposing the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria is a foreign policy priority for the U.S. She has not backed away from her support for a no fly zone over Syria, despite Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford’s unqualified statement that it would “require us to go to war” with Russia.

Read the rest at Rare…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Obama administration makes Putin, Russians look like the good guys

putinTAMPA, September 10, 2013 – Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier today that his government would accept the proposal to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction by the international community, according to the Associated Press. The proposal was made by the Russian government in an attempt to avoid U.S. airstrikes in reprisal for alleged chemical weapons attacks by its Syrian counterpart against rebels and civilians on Aug. 21.

The Syrian government has consistently denied launching the attacks.

President Obama has now reportedly changed the goal of his meetings today with Congressmen from persuading them to approve his military strikes to participating in the diplomatic solution. This begs an obvious question.

Why was it Russia that proposed a diplomatic solution, while the Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. president would consider nothing but war?

Indeed, Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently been a calm voice of restraint and caution during the entire crisis, while Obama has sounded more like Khrushchev than Kennedy.

Syria is a longtime Russian ally and the home to Russia’s only military base outside its borders. The U.S. threats of military action against Syria is only the latest in a long train of provocative actions by the U.S. government towards its former Cold War adversary. As Pat Buchanan wrote in the American Conservative,

“George W. Bush sought to put an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Neither country had requested it. We said it was aimed at Iran. When my late friend, columnist Tony Blankley, visited Russia in the Bush II era, he was astounded at the hostility he encountered from Russians who felt we had responded to their offer of friendship at the end of the Cold War by taking advantage of them.”

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, chiefly for economic reasons. That’s not the same as surrendering to an adversary in a hot war. Yet, the U.S. government has treated Russia more like Germany after the Treaty of Versailles than the major First World power that they remain.

Imagine how the U.S. government would react if Russia were talking about bombing Israel in response to some alleged misdeed?

Yet, Putin has avoided bellicosity in the face of the Obama administration’s refusal to consider anything but military action, asking only that the administration at least wait for all of the evidence to be presented and examined.

Yesterday, it was Putin who proposed a diplomatic solution to the crisis while Obama maintained his full court press for war. This isn’t the first time that Americans have been confronted with bizarre role reversals between their government and Russia’s. At a G20 conference in 2009, while the Obama administration was promoting its housing bailout bill, Putin lectured the administration about the evils of socialism.

“Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake…In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated,” said Putin.

For the past four and a half years, the Obama administration has pursued the very interventionist economic policies it had so vehemently criticized the Bush administration for, while the Russian government advised to let the market do more of the work.

During the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, the Obama administration has demonstrated the same eagerness for war, the same rush to judgment and the same disregard for the opinions of the international community and its own citizens that it criticized the Bush administration for in the lead-up to Iraq. It has managed to make the Russians look like the good guys.

That’s because in this case, they are.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

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Does anyone really believe Assad used chemical weapons in Syria?

does anyoneTAMPA, September 6, 2013 – Public opinion polls are virtually unanimous. The American people oppose military intervention in Syria, despite poll questions worded in a way that assumes the Syrian government perpetrated chemical weapons attacks against its own people. The Washington Post/ABC News poll asked:

The United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there. Given this, do you support or oppose the United States launching missile strikes against the Syrian government?”

 

Who could imagine the question being put in words more likely to elicit a favorable response? Nevertheless, Americans were resoundingly against military intervention. 59% said they opposed missile strikes. 36% said they favored them. 5% were undecided.

Results like that in a poll so obviously constructed to achieve the opposite begs the question:

Does anyone really believe the Assad government launched chemical weapons attacks against rebels and civilians?

That virtually every politician and pundit talks about the attacks as if it were proven they occurred and that Assad’s government perpetrated them is beyond surreal. U.N. weapons inspectors say that they won’t even be able to confirm that chemical weapons were used for two more weeks. Yet, the Obama administration says it is not only certain the attack occurred, but that Assad’s government launched it.

This despite strong suspicion that it was the rebels, not the Assad government that launched the chemical weapons attack earlier this year. As reported by Shaun Waterman in the Washington Times on May 6,

“Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.”

The rebels stood to gain far more from last month’s chemical weapons attack than Assad. The government had the upper hand in the two-year-old revolution. The attack would increase the chances that an outside force like the U.S. would join the struggle on the rebels’ side. Judge Andrew Napolitano is skeptical that the attack occurred at all and, if it did, that Assad perpetrated it. Writing in the Washington Times, he says,

“Never mind that the photos shown by Mr. Obama’s folks of aid workers ministering to the supposed victims of government gassing show the workers without gas masks or gloves, and never mind that the Assad regime has permitted United Nations weapons inspectors unfettered access to its materiel, and never mind that the president wants to invade Syria before the weapons inspectors issue their report. The president wants us to think that the Assad regime intentionally gassed 1,000 Syrian innocents who were of no military value to the rebels or threat to the regime…”

 

That’s not the only circumstantial evidence questioning the official story. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told Ron Paul Monday on the Ron Paul Channel that the U.S. government has been waiting for an excuse to intervene in Syria since 2011.

“Stratfor is a U.S. intelligence contractor based in Texas and we got hold of five million of their e-mails. They do consulting work for many different government organizations and private organizations. And one of those e-mails from late 2011, December 2011, is a report back from one of their agents meeting with the U.S. Air Force, members of the French military and British military, speaking about what the hopes and game plan was under various circumstances, essentially by the West, by the U.S. and NATO, if you like. And that they really felt that what they needed was for there to be some humanitarian outrage in Syria and that once they had that, that would legitimize going in with a big airstrike,” said Assange.

With no known evidence against the Assad government and strong circumstantial evidence against the rebels, the Obama administration still insists that they have conclusive proof against Assad, but cannot share the evidence. According to the Washington Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s replied,

“Claims that proof exists but is classified and cannot be shown are beneath criticism. “ He added, “If the U.S. says that the al-Assad regime is responsible for that attack and that they have proof, then let them submit it to the U.N. Security Council.”

The Obama administration hasn’t given the American public any more reason to believe it than Putin does. It’s been caught in one lie after another about its domestic spying programs, according to Forbes magazine. It’s also fighting the specter of a war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

The truth of what happened in Damascus last month will be known eventually. Until then, the Obama administration is trying to sell a dog that just won’t hunt to an American public that’s weary of war and has little reason to believe its government about anything.

If experience is any teacher, Americans would be wise to remain incredulous.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Why are American citizens financially responsible to defend Syrians?

Tax DayTAMPA, September 1, 2013 — One day after President Obama indicated he would seek a vote from Congress on whether to launch missile strikes against Syria, media outlets have already begun reporting on the debate from a number of perspectives. As usual, one perspective is completely ignored: that of the American taxpayer.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to tax U.S. citizens to provide for the common defense of U.S. citizens, not every soul on the planet. The only exception is for citizens in countries with whom the United States has signed a mutual defense treaty. In those situations, it is assumed that American taxpayers get a reasonably equal benefit back in defense provided to them.

The founders still told us to avoid those alliances whenever possible.

Regardless, the United States has no treaty with Syria. If it did, it would be with the Assad government, not with rebels attempting to overthrow it. Syria has not attacked the United States nor issued a declaration of war against them. There isn’t even a U.N. Security Council resolution for force against Syria, which strict constitutionalists don’t recognize as legitimate anyway.

President Obama is arguing for the United States to intervene militarily solely for “humanitarian” reasons. That begs the question:

How did American taxpayers become financially responsible for protecting Syrian rebels and civilians?

Every other U.S. president has recognized that Americans can only be taxed to pay for their own defense or the defense of allies by treaty. The arguments haven’t always been bulletproof, but at least they have acknowledged this principle.

President George W. Bush made his case for the Iraq War based upon Saddam Hussein’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction.” At one point, the administration went so far as to say that Hussein could strike the United States “within 45 minutes.”

Why did the administration go to such lengths to exaggerate Iraq’s capabilities? Because it recognized that only an imminent threat to American citizens would justify a war against Iraq.

“Operation Deliberate Force” in Serbia was recognized as a NATO operation, meaning the United States participated due to a supposed treaty obligation. President Clinton’s attempts to conduct military operations in Africa and Haiti for humanitarian reasons were met with public and congressional opposition. Both interventions were aborted prior to prolonged involvement.

In Korea and Viet Nam, Americans were told war was necessary to prevent “the domino effect,” where one Asian nation after another would fall to communism, which then would spread to the rest of the world. The theory was proven wrong when North Viet Nam took over South Viet Nam and communism still failed. Still, the stated reason for war was to protect Americans from communist aggression.

President Obama has broken new ground. He has argued that not only does the U.S. government have the authority to tax Americans to defend every human being on the planet, but that the president can order military intervention for that reason on his authority alone.

Unfortunately, this has led many to believe that his decision to wait until Congress debates the intervention is some sort of victory for constitutional government.

It’s not. Nowhere in the Constitution is it stated or implied that American taxpayers are financially responsible for the common defense of the whole world.

Military operations are not funded by donations. Taxpayers are compelled to pay them by force. That’s why the Constitution sets limits to what Americans can be taxed for: “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

As widely as that clause has been interpreted, no one could possibly interpret it to mean defense of Syrian civilians under present circumstances, nor for the citizens of non-treaty partners in any other country.

If the constitution imposes no such financial obligation on American taxpayers, then what does? When and how did American taxpayers consent to it? By what authority is it enforced? When and how will this financial obligation end?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Congress is not authorized to start a war with Syria, either

congress

TAMPA, August 29, 2013 – The British Parliament is debating the U.K.’s response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against rebels and civilians. This prompted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to tweet a picture juxtaposing the ongoing debate in Parliament with the empty U.S. Congress building.

Cruz and others have expressed the opinion that President Obama cannot take military action against Syria without consulting Congress first.

They’re wrong. Congress doesn’t have the power to start a war with Syria, either, under present circumstances.

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. It’s not.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.

This is supported by each and every declaration of war in U.S. history. Each declaration has followed the same format.

1. Congress cites the overt acts of war committed by the nation in question against the United States.

2. It recognizes the existence of the war because of those overt acts.

3. It directs the president to utilize the military to end the war.

The process is somewhat analogous to a criminal trial. The president “makes his case” to Congress that certain actions by a foreign nation amount to acts of war. Congress then deliberates, renders its verdict and passes sentence. The president is directed to execute the sentence.

When James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

“But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war.

As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.

In further vindication of our rights and defense of our territory, I invoke the prompt action of Congress to recognize the existence of the war, and to place at the disposition of the Executive the means of prosecuting the war with vigor, and thus hastening the restoration of peace.

After deliberating, Congress issued the following declaration of war,

“Whereas, by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that Government and the United States: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of enabling the government of the United States to prosecute said war to a speedy and successful termination…”

Note the italicized words. The state of war already exists because of the act of the Republic of Mexico.

Most people remember FDR’s Pearl Harbor speech during which he rattled off the acts of war committed by Japan. “Last night, Japanese forces attacked Wake Island. Last night, Japanese forces attacked Midway Island, etc.” Roosevelt concluded,

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

The framers of the Constitution intended that the president would never initiate planned military action until this process took place. Yes, the president could deploy the military if the British or Spanish were discovered marching through Maryland, a very real possibility at the time.

Otherwise, acts of war had to be committed against the United States before the president directed a military response.

Syria’s government may or may not have used chemical weapons against its own people. It has not committed any acts of war against the United States. Therefore, there is no basis upon which to declare a state of war between Syria and the United States.

The constitution assumes that the only justification to utilize U.S. military resources is to defend U.S. citizens after another nation has initiated a state of war. The only exception is to defend a nation with whom the United States has signed a treaty establishing one of those entangling alliances the founders told us to avoid.

The Syrian conflict meets none of those requirements. Neither Congress nor the president have any constitutional authority to attack.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Syria: The U.S. has learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan

TAMPA, August 28, 2013 —  “And now we’re back where we started. Here we go round again. Day after day I get up and I say I better do it again.”

Apparently, Ray Davies’ lyric has become the U.S. government’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, they’ve added a line to the chorus that Davies left out: Make sure you learn absolutely nothing from the day before.

After twelve years of war, hundreds of thousands of U.S. and foreign civilian casualties and trillions in debt, the U.S. has accomplished nothing in the Middle East. They haven’t eradicated the Taliban or Al Qaeda. There has not been a single regime change favorable to U.S. interests. Americans are not freer. They are less free than they have ever been in U.S. history.

The Obama administration’s response? Do it again.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who does not have a strong sense of déjà vu this morning, as officials from the president on down gear up for a missile strike against Syria. The U.S. and U.K. governments have both issued statements that they have “no doubt” that the Assad government used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians. But U.N. inspectors have not concluded their investigation and have issued no such statement confirming anything.

The Assad government denies use of chemical weapons.

If the U.N. inspectors do conclude that chemical weapons were used, there is still reasonable doubt about who used them. There are suspicions that the rebels may have actually deployed the chemical weapons in an attempt to frame the Assad government and persuade the U.S. to enter the war.

In 2003, the Bush administration emphatically warned of the imminent threat that the Saddam Hussein Iraqi government posed to the U.S. and the rest of world. Images of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities were invoked, with the administration making the absurd claim that Hussein could strike the U.S. within 45 minutes.

No such capabilities existed. After the U.S. had invaded the country, destroyed its infrastructure, displaced over two million refugees and set the stage for an Islamic government friendly to Iran to replace the previous secular one which was hostile towards Iran, it admitted that the “WMD” didn’t exist.

The entire eight year debacle accomplished nothing. Zero. Nada.

Now, even the man who wrote up the plan for missile strikes against Syria says that those strikes won’t accomplish anything.

“Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive. I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that,” said Chris Harmer, the senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who wrote up a plan for missile strikes.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been warning for months that intervention in Syria will accomplish nothing favorable to U.S. interests. He’s gone so far as to say that even if the rebels were to win, they would not likely be friendly toward the U.S. government.

There are no “good guys and bad guys” in this struggle. On one side you have an oppressive dictatorship with strong ties to Russia. On the other you have a fundamentalist Islamic coalition of rebels with many different factions, including one that just took a pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri.

These are the “freedom fighters” the Obama administration has been backing.

In Afghanistan, the “security forces” that U.S. soldiers are training to supposedly enforce the rule of law and democratic government after the U.S. leaves occasionally kill their trainers. They are restrained only by their own officers who remind them of the weapons the U.S. is supplying them.

This is what thousands of American casualties and trillions of dollars in new debt has bought us. That’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new terrorists that U.S. intervention has created. Every drone strike against a terrorist leader results in innocent civilian deaths. Fathers, brothers or sons of the dead then dedicate their lives to war against the U.S.

Every bomb launched against Syria will be purchased with borrowed money. Each one will take innocent lives and create new terrorists. According to anyone with any expertise, it will accomplish nothing, although the stated goal is to oust the Assad government and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic government that is even more hostile towards the United States.

The U.S. just did that in Egypt. It did the same in Iraq. The Taliban is now negotiating with the U.S. and others for an end to the war in Afghanistan, where they may very well return to power.

Einstein is credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

James Madison said that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. We haven’t. In the past twelve years, we’ve built a frightening police state, turned federal government surpluses into $12 trillion in public debt and accomplished nothing in the Middle East or against terrorism in general.

Let’s not do it again.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.