American Double Standards On Display In Ukraine

Last week, two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition newspapers.

While some journalists here in the U.S. have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the U.S. government has yet to say a word.

Compare this to the U.S. reaction when a single opposition figure was killed in Russia earlier this year. Boris Nemtsov was a member of a minor political party that was not even represented in the Russian parliament. Nevertheless, the U.S. government immediately demanded that Russia conduct a thorough investigation of his murder, suggesting the killers had a political motive.

As news of the Russian killing broke, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) did not wait for evidence to blame the killing on Russian president Vladimir Putin. On the very day of Nemtsov’s murder, Royce told the US media that, “this shocking murder is the latest assault on those who dare to oppose the Putin regime.”

Neither Royce, nor Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama, nor any U.S. government figure has said a word about the series of apparently political murders in Ukraine.

On the contrary, instead of questioning the state of democracy in what looks like a lawless Ukraine, the Administration is sending in the U.S. military to help train Ukrainian troops!

Last week, just as the two political murders were taking place, the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade landed in Ukraine to begin training Ukrainian national guard forces — and to leave behind some useful military equipment. Though the civil unrest continues in Ukraine, the U.S. military is assisting one side in the conflict — even as the U.S. slaps sanctions on Russia over accusations it is helping out the other side!

As the ceasefire continues to hold, though shakily, what kind of message does it send to the US-backed government in Kiev to have U.S. troops arrive with training and equipment and an authorization to gift Kiev with some $350 million in weapons? Might they not take this as a green light to begin new hostilities against the breakaway regions in the east?

The Obama administration is so inconsistent in its foreign policy. In some places, particularly Cuba and Iran, the administration is pursuing a policy that looks to diplomacy and compromise to help improve decades of bad relations. In these two cases, the administration realizes that the path of confrontation has led nowhere. When the president announced his desire to see the end of Cuba sanctions, he stated very correctly that, “…we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”

So while Obama is correctly talking about sanctions relief for Iran and Cuba, he is adding more sanctions on Russia, backing Saudi Arabia’s brutal attack on Yemen, and pushing ever harder for regime change in Syria. Does he really believe the rest of the world does not see these double standards? A wise consistency of non-interventionism in all foreign affairs would be the correct course for this and future US administrations. Let us hope they will eventually follow Obama’s observation that, “it’s time to try something new.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Who Really Profits From The West’s Warmongering?

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Militarism and military spending are everywhere and on the rise, as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new “threats” that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda.

Here are just a few examples:

The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more “Leopard” tanks — a 45 percent increase in the country’s inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks, as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims that these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian ‘assertiveness’ in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.

The U.S. Cold War-era nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, which was all but shut down in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is being brought back to life. The Pentagon has committed nearly a billion dollars to upgrading the facility to its previous Cold War-level of operations. U.S. defense contractor Raytheon will be the prime beneficiary of this contract. Raytheon is a major financial sponsor of think tanks like the Institute for the Study of War, which continuously churn out pro-war propaganda. I am sure these big contracts are a good return on that investment.

NATO, which I believe should have been shut down after the Cold War ended, is also getting its own massively expensive upgrade. The Alliance commissioned a new headquarters building in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, which is supposed to be completed in 2016. The building looks like a hideous claw, and the final cost — if it is ever finished — will be well over $1 billion. That is more than twice what was originally budgeted. What a boondoggle! Is it any surprise that NATO bureaucrats and generals continuously try to terrify us with tales of the new Russian threat? They need to justify their expansion plans!

So who is the real enemy? The Russians?

No, the real enemy is the taxpayer. The real enemy is the middle class and the productive sectors of the economy. We are the victims of this new runaway military spending. Every dollar or euro spent on a contrived threat is a dollar or euro taken out of the real economy and wasted on military Keynesianism. It is a dollar stolen from a small business owner that will not be invested in innovation, spent on research to combat disease, or even donated to charities that help the needy.

One of the most pervasive and dangerous myths of our time is that military spending benefits an economy. This could not be further from the truth. Such spending benefits a thin layer of well-connected and well-paid elites. It diverts scarce resources from meeting the needs and desires of a population and channels them into manufacturing tools of destruction. The costs may be hidden by the money-printing of the central banks, but they are eventually realized in the steady destruction of a currency.

The elites are terrified that peace may finally break out, which will be bad for their profits. That is why they are trying to scuttle the Iran deal, nix the Cuba thaw, and drum up a new “Red Scare” coming from Moscow. We must not be fooled into believing their lies.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

IRS, Congress Hold Our Liberty In Contempt

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This past week, the Justice Department announced it would not charge former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner with contempt of Congress. Some members of Congress requested that Lerner be charged with contempt after she refused to testify at a congressional hearing investigating her role in denying or delaying the applications for tax-exempt status of “tea party” and pro-limited government organizations.

Cynics might suggest it is not surprising that a former government official would avoid prosecution for refusing to tell Congress about how federal employees abused their power to help the incumbent administration. These cynics have a point, but the problem goes beyond mere partisanship. Government officials are rarely prosecuted for even the most blatant violations of our liberties. In contrast, federal prosecutors routinely pursue criminal charges against whistleblowers. For example, the only American prosecuted and imprisoned in relation to the government’s use of torture was whistleblower John Kiriakou!

While some officials like Lois Lerner who find themselves at the center of a high-profile scandal or partisan dispute can expect harsh treatment from Congress, this is the expectation, not the rule. Executive branch officials usually receive deferential treatment from members of Congress. I recall one hearing on government surveillance where a representative actually apologized to a government official because Congress had the gall to ask that official to testify about the government’s ongoing surveillance of the American people.

In contrast, private citizens called before Congress are harangued and even bullied. Congress should stop using the hearing process to intimidate private citizens and start using it to intimidate those government officials who are threatening our liberty. For example, Congress should continue to investigate the IRS’s ongoing attempts to silence organizations that work to advance free markets and individual liberty.

My Campaign for Liberty organization has had to battle an IRS demand that it hand over personal information regarding some of its top donors. The IRS is either ignoring, or ignorant of, the numerous precedents protecting the right of organizations like the Campaign for Liberty to protect their members’ privacy from government officials.

The IRS is drafting a new regulation that would empower the agency to revoke an organization’s tax-exempt status if that organization sends out a communication to its members or the general public mentioning a candidate for office by name sixty days before an election or thirty days before a primary. By preventing groups from telling their members where candidates stand on issues like Audit the Fed and repeal of the PATRIOT Act, this anti-First Amendment regulation benefits those politicians who wish to hide their beliefs from the voters.

Since the IRS’s power stems from the tax system, the only way to protect our liberty from this agency is to eliminate the tax code. Promising to end the IRS is a popular applause line for politicians wishing to appear as champions of liberty. This week, John Koskinen, the current IRS commissar, responded to these cries to end the IRS by pointing out that shutting down the IRS would deprive Congress of the revenue needed to fund the welfare-warfare state. Koskinen has a point. Congress cannot shut down the IRS until it enacts major reductions in all areas of government spending.

Politicians who vote for warfare abroad and welfare at home–yet claim they want to shut down the IRS–should not be taken seriously. Freeing the people from the IRS’s tyranny is one of the best reasons to end the welfare-warfare state and return the federal government to its constitutional limitations.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Repeal, Don’t Reform, The IMF!

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A responsible financial institution would not extend a new loan of between $17 and $40 billion to a borrower already struggling to pay back an existing multi-billion dollar loan. Yet that is just what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did last month when it extended a new loan to the government of Ukraine. This new loan may not make much economic sense, but propping up the existing Ukrainian government serves the foreign policy agenda of the U.S. government.

Since the IMF receives most of its funding from the United States, it is hardly surprising that it would tailor its actions to advance the U.S. government’s foreign policy goals. The IMF also has a history of using the funds provided to it by the American taxpayer to prop up dictatorial regimes and support unsound economic policies.

Some may claim the IMF does promote free markets by requiring that countries receiving IMF loans implement some positive economic reforms, such as reducing government spending. However, other conditions imposed by the IMF, such as that the country receiving the loan deflate its currency and implement an industrial policy promoting exports, do not seem designed to promote a true free market, much less improve the people’s living standards by giving them greater economic opportunities.

The problem with the IMF cannot be fixed by changing the conditions attached to IMF loans. The fundamental problem with the IMF is that it is funded by resources taken forcibly from the private sector. By taking resources out of private hands and giving them to IMF bureaucrats, government distorts the marketplace, harming both American taxpayers and the citizens of the countries receiving the IMF loans. The idea that the IMF is somehow better able to allocate capital than are private investors is just as flawed as every other form of central planning. The IMF must be repealed, not reformed.

The IMF is not the only U.S. institution that manipulates the global economy. Over the past several years, a mysterious buyer, identified only as “Belgium,” so named because the buyer acts through a Belgian-domiciled account, has become the third-largest holder of Treasury securities. Belgium’s large purchases always occur at opportune times for the U.S. government, such as when a foreign country sells a large amount of Treasuries. “Belgium” also made large purchases in the months just after the Fed launched the quantitative easing program. While there is no evidence this buyer is working directly with the U.S. government, the timing of these purchases does raise suspicions.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Federal Reserve is involved in these purchases. The limited audit of the Federal Reserve’s actions during the financial crisis that was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act revealed that the Fed actively intervenes in global markets.

What other deals with foreign governments is the Fed making? Is the Fed, like the IMF, working to bail out Greece and other EU countries? Is the Fed working secretly to aid U.S. foreign policy as it did in the early 1980s, when it financed loans to then-U.S. ally Saddam Hussein? The lack of transparency about the Fed’s dealings with overseas central banks and foreign governments is one more reason why Congress needs to pass the audit the fed bill.

By taking money from American taxpayers to support economically weak and oftentimes corrupt governments, the IMF distorts the market, enriches corrupt governments, and harms both the American taxpayer and the residents of the counties receiving IMF “aid.” It is past time to end the IMF along with all instruments of American interventionist foreign policy.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

After A Twelve Year Iraq Mistake, Time For America To March Home

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Twelve years ago last week, the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, an act the late General William Odom predicted would turn out to be “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

Before the attack, I was accused of exaggerating the potential costs of the war when I warned that it could end up costing as much as $100 billion. One trillion dollars later, with not one but two “mission accomplished” moments, we are still not done intervening in Iraq.

President Obama last year ordered the U.S. military back into Iraq for the third time. It seems the Iraq “surge” and the Sunni “Awakening,” for which General David Petraeus had been given much credit, were not as successful as was claimed at the time. From the sectarian violence unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq emerged al-Qaeda and then its more radical spin-off, ISIS. So Obama sent the U.S. military back.

We recently gained even more evidence that the initial war was sold on lies and fabrications. The CIA finally declassified much of its 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was the chief document used by the Bush Administration to justify the U.S. attack. According to the Estimate, the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded, “[W]e are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed… the information we have on Iraqi nuclear personnel does not appear consistent with a coherent effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.”

But even as the U.S. Intelligence Community had reached this conclusion, President Bush told the American people that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons” and “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.”

Likewise, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s “bulletproof” evidence that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaeda was contradicted by the National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that there was no operational tie between Hussein’s government and al-Qaeda.

Even National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice’s famous statement that the aluminum tubes that Iraq was purchasing “are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs,” and “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” was based on evidence she must have known at the time was false. According to the NIE, the Energy Department had already concluded that the tubes were “consistent with applications to rocket motors” and “this is the more likely end use.”

It is hard to believe that in a society supposedly governed by the rule of law, US leaders can escape any penalty for using blatantly false information — that they had to know at the time was false — to launch a pre-emptive attack on a country that posed no threat to the United States. The fact that they got away with it simply makes it all the easier for Washington’s interventionists to try the same tricks again. They already did with Libya and Syria. It is likely they are also doing the same with claims of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.

Last week, President Obama correctly blamed the current chaos in Iraq on the Bush Administration’s decision to invade. He said, “… ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

However, if the U.S. intervention in Iraq created the “unintended consequences” of ISIS and al-Qaeda, how is it that more US intervention can solve the problem?

A war based on lies cannot be fixed by launching another war. We must just march home. And stay home.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom