Donald Trump channels Noam Chomsky (sort of)

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In a pre-Superbowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Trump defended Vladimir Putin’s kills.

A statement President Donald Trump made to Bill O’Reilly during a pre-Superbowl interview landed Trump in more trouble than usual. In defending Russian dictator Vladimir Putin from O’Reilly’s allegation that he’s a killer, Trump said, “You think our country’s so innocent? Take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the War in Iraq from the beginning… a lot of people were killed, so, a lot of killers around, believe me.”

Establishment politicians and media fretted over Trump’s frank assessment of American foreign policy, but for once he’s not wrong. In fact, Trump went much further than most politicians usually do in his remarks, venturing into territory usually reserved for the likes of Noam Chomsky. His equation of the Iraq War with Putin’s murders suggests the Iraq War was not merely an honest mistake made with good intentions, but a crime. Continue reading

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Trump’s true agenda crystallizes, and it’s oil imperialism

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Trump may never have met Putin, but his Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has received an Order of Friendship from him.

Donald Trump is less than five weeks away from being inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. His cabinet picks offer Americans an ominous preview of what they can expect for the next four years. Corporate America will run roughshod over workers and consumers as Trump obliterates the line between big business and government. But it’s his Secretary of State pick, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, which bodes most ominously for both the environment and international relations. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton, WikiLeaks, and the new Cold War

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Hillary Clinton supports Syrian insurgents, many of whom are linked to known terror groups, over the Russian-backed Bashar al-Assad regime.

As leaked audio of Donald Trump bragging about his history of sexual assault became the biggest story of the 2016 election, WikiLeaks released another trove of Hillary Clinton documents. They include portions of transcripts from her mysterious speeches to big banks, as well as emails from campaign chair and longtime ally John Podesta. While much of the content is illuminating, little of it is outside the scope of the dirty politics the Clintons have long been known to play. Continue reading

Words versus deeds: Foreign policy in the 2016 election

The likely 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the most disliked major party candidates in American history. But of all the faults these candidates have, their darkest aspects are most visible in foreign policy. And for as much as Americans don’t like the two of them, imagine what the rest of the world must think as the most powerful nation on earth prepares to hold an election between an accomplished war criminal and a maniac who pledges to become one. Continue reading

Stop ‘trump’ing up the threat of Islamic terror

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ISIS soldiers march in Raqqa, Syria, the terrorist organization’s de facto capital.

Radicalized Islamic terrorists have become the focal point of national security concerns and much of the 2016 presidential election. Not without good reason – groups like ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and others are among the most barbaric gangs of cold-blooded killers, kidnappers, torturers, rapists, sex traffickers and drug dealers ever. But treating them as an existential threat superseding the Nazis, as some have done, is granting them way too much legitimacy. Continue reading

How the gun debate and the War on Terror are connected

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San Bernardino shooting suspects, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.

Right-wing extremism received heavy scrutiny for a few days following the Planned Parenthood attacks. Commentators and left-wing politicians criticized the venomous rhetoric the right uses to denounce its opponents, one of which – the red herring cry of “baby parts” – was used by the Planned Parenthood shooter himself. Since the San Bernardino shooting, committed by Muslims a few days later, white terror has largely fallen off the radar. It shouldn’t.

What hasn’t fallen off the radar is the gun debate. It’s being waged as aggressively now as it’s been in years, with President Obama calling for restricted access to assault weapons and other mild reforms. Conservatives, as expected, reacted with total apoplexy. There has been a strange development, though, as the gun debate has become part of the discussion on Islamic terror. Continue reading

ISIL thrives on mayhem – don’t give it to them

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The Brandenburg Gate is lit in solidarity with Paris on Saturday, Nov. 14 in Berlin, Germany. ignacionimo/Instagram

On Friday, November 13, the city of Paris was laid siege by a small band of terrorists from the Islamic State who raided a theater, a concert hall, a soccer stadium and other venues using AK-47s and suicide bombs to. No final tally has been released and many victims remain hospitalized, but at least 129 are known to have died. In terms of death toll, it’s the worst attack in France since World War II.

In addition to the French massacre, ISIL is responsible for downing a Russian airplane carrying 224 tourists to Egypt. The day before the Paris attack ISIL detonated bombs in Beirut, Lebanon, claiming dozens more lives. These attacks are in addition to many smaller ones, the group’s destruction of culture, and the atrocities committed against women, hostages and apostates in ISIL-controlled territory.

After the attacks, French President Francoise Hollande called for the eradication of the Islamic State and declared France at war. France has since launched several air strikes against the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, which has served as a capital since roughly 2013. Among the targets were an Islamic State “command post, jihadist recruitment center and weapons and ammunition depot,” as well as a “terrorist training camp.” Continue reading

Washington hypocrisy and warmongering jeopardizes breakthrough nuclear deal with Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

As diplomats from the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany move closer to reaching a historic deal with Iran that would temporarily block it from pursuing certain nuclear ambitions in exchange for relaxation of sanctions, Republicans are vowing to do all they can to scuttle the deal. It’s remarkable that, at a time when the first modern meaningful international agreement between the US and Iran is about to go through, Republicans are rattling sabers as aggressively as ever.

Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker called the deal “one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” “Instead of making the world safer,” Walker alleges, “this deal will likely lead to a nuclear arms race in the world’s most dangerous region.” In keeping with the lockstep obstructionism that has defined the GOP throughout Obama’s presidency, other Republicans have protested the deal, citing Iran’s untrustworthiness and existential threat to world peace.

For years, Washington and the news media have portrayed Iran as the most dangerous national power on the planet. That opinion is not widely shared by the global community, however, which by a significant margin places the United States at the top of a list of the biggest threats to world peace. Despite the abundance of negative public opinion on Iran in the US, the question of what exactly makes the country such a threat is rarely meaningfully explored.

A brief history of US/Iranian relations reveals everything about who should be distrustful of who. Continue reading

Greece has the right idea: Say no to debt

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, meets with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, meets with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Around 2,500 years ago, the Greek city of Athens developed a novel concept: dēmokratía, the rule of the people. Though their system was far from perfect, Athens laid important moral and philosophical groundwork that stood in contrast to the dynasties of pharaohs and emperors. Leave it to the Greeks, two and a half millennia since developing the concept, to remind the world of today what democracy is supposed to look like.

Greece’s ongoing debt predicament is not unlike the subprime mortgage crisis in America. Lenders issued bad loans which the debtors proved unable to pay back. In Greece, those lenders have been both private banks and fellow Eurozone nations. As in America, rather than allow the banks to eat the loss, what’s being demanded instead is taxpayer sacrifice. Continue reading

Hersh’s bin Laden revelations actually aren’t that revelatory

This famous photograph shows senior officials waiting for an update on the bin Laden raid, an event Hersh alleges was all but scripted.

This famous photograph shows senior officials waiting for an update on the bin Laden raid, an event Hersh alleges was all but scripted.

Four years ago, President Obama announced that U.S. forces pulled off a targeted killing of the new millennium’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. Media and celebrities poured praise on Obama and expressed closure on behalf of the entire nation at the death of a man believed to be responsible for killing 3,000 Americans.

Now, Seymour Hersh, a veteran investigative journalist whose previous exposés uncovered military atrocities at My Lai and Abu Ghraib, has challenged the official account. Continue reading