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

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com  Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

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

Iran Fighting ISIS – Is it Really A Problem?

ISIS in Iraq

As Iran continues to take an active role in helping Iraq fight the Islamic State group (ISIS), many neocons are upset that the U.S. military is not over there on the ground doing the fighting. They want Americans to believe that only another U.S. invasion of Iraq — and of Syria as well — can defeat ISIS. But what is wrong with the countries of the region getting together and deciding to cooperate on a common problem?

While the entry of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias into ISIS-occupied areas may not be ideal — there is bound to be revenge killings and sectarian fighting — it is far more likely that the ISIS problem will be solved by the countries in the region than by U.S. bombs and ground troops. Our bombs will continue to make the problem worse because it was our bombs that helped create the problem in the first place. What the neocons who lied us into the Iraq war don’t like to admit is that there was no ISIS problem and no al-Qaeda problem in Iraq and Syria before we invaded Iraq.

ISIS is an idea, not a country or an army, which is why the U.S. declaring war on ISIS makes no sense. It is clear that if we really want to defeat ISIS, the last thing we should be doing is bombing and sending troops back to Iraq and into Syria. Our bombs and involvement in the region only serve to recruit more fighters into ISIS. To make matters worse, many of these radicalized fighters come from Europe and even the U.S. What happens when they go home?

What if the U.S. had not gotten involved with Iraq in 1990 when Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait after getting what he thought was a green light from the first Bush Administration? The interventionists were saying that if we did not act, Saddam Hussein was going to take over the region and perhaps more! But what about the other countries in the region that may have felt threatened? Maybe Saudi Arabia would have made a move; maybe Israel would have taken care of the problem. Why does it always have to be the U.S.?

The dedicated neocons and other interventionists will not cheer Iran currently taking steps to defeat ISIS, even though they claim that ISIS is at this time the number one threat to the U.S. Why don’t they like this good news? Because they desire the rest of the world to believe that the U.S. is the only indispensable nation. They want the rest of the world — and especially the American taxpayer — to believe that no problem anywhere can be solved without U.S. involvement.

It diminishes our prestige, they argue, for us not to take the lead in every conflict everywhere on the globe. Perhaps if people overseas begin to see that they can solve their own local and regional problems without the U.S. military involved, more Americans would come to see the neocons as the real threat to our national — and financial — security.

Instead of being angered at Iranian help to address the problem of ISIS, perhaps we should send them a “thank you” note.

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

Don’t Be Fooled By The Fed’s Anti-Audit Propaganda

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com  Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

In recent weeks, the Federal Reserve and its apologists in Congress and the media have launched numerous attacks on the Audit the Fed legislation. These attacks amount to nothing more than distortions about the effects and intent of the audit bill.

Fed apologists continue to claim that the Audit the Fed bill will somehow limit the Federal Reserve’s independence. Yet neither Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen nor any other opponent of the audit bill has ever been able to identify any provision of the bill giving Congress power to dictate monetary policy. The only way this argument makes sense is if the simple act of increasing transparency somehow infringes on the Fed’s independence.

This argument is also flawed since the Federal Reserve has never been independent from political pressure. As economists Daniel Smith and Peter Boettke put it in their paper “An Episodic History of Modern Fed Independence,” the Federal Reserve “regularly accommodates debt, succumbs to political pressures, and follows bureaucratic tendencies, compromising the Fed’s operational independence.”

The most infamous example of a Federal Reserve chair bowing to political pressure is the way Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns tailored monetary policy to accommodate President Richard Nixon’s demands for low interest rates. Nixon and Burns were even recorded mocking the idea of Federal Reserve independence.

Nixon is not the only president to pressure a Federal Reserve chair to tailor monetary policy to the president’s political needs. In the fifties, President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Fed Chairman William Martin to either resign or increase the money supply. Martin eventually gave in to Ike’s wishes for cheap money. During the nineties, Alan Greenspan was accused by many political and financial experts — including then-Federal Reserve Board Member Alan Blinder — of tailoring Federal Reserve policies to help President Bill Clinton.

Some Federal Reserve apologists make the contradictory claim that the audit bill is not only dangerous, but it is also unnecessary since the Fed is already audited. It is true that the Federal Reserve is subject to some limited financial audits, but these audits only reveal the amount of assets on the Fed’s balance sheets. The Audit the Fed bill will reveal what was purchased, when it was acquired, and why it was acquired.

Perhaps the real reason the Federal Reserve fears a full audit can be revealed by examining the one-time audit of the Federal Reserve’s response to the financial crisis authorized by the Dodd-Frank law. This audit found that between 2007 and 2010, the Federal Reserve committed over $16 trillion — more than four times the annual budget of the United States — to foreign central banks and politically influential private companies. Can anyone doubt a full audit would show similar instances of the Fed acting to benefit the political and economic elites?

Some fed apologists are claiming that the audit bill is part of a conspiracy to end the Fed. As the author of a book called End the Fed, I find it laughable to suggest that I, and other audit supporters, are hiding our true agenda. Besides, how could an audit advance efforts to end the Fed unless the audit would prove that the American people would be better off without the Fed? And don’t the people have a right to know if they are being harmed by the current monetary system?

For over a century, the Federal Reserve has operated in secrecy, to the benefit of the elites and the detriment of the people. It is time to finally bring transparency to monetary policy by auditing the Federal Reserve.

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

How Many More Wars Must The U.S. Government Start?

Photo credit: DVIDSHUB (Flickr)

Last week, President Obama sent Congress legislation to authorize him to use force against ISIS “and associated persons and forces” anywhere in the world for the next three years. This is a blank check for the president to start as many new wars as he wishes, and it appears Congress will go along with this dangerous and costly scheme.

Already, the military budget for next year is equal to all but the very peak spending levels during the Vietnam war and the Reagan military build-up, according to the Project on Defense Alternatives. Does anyone want to guess how much will be added to military spending as a result of this new war authorization?

The US has already spent nearly two billion dollars fighting ISIS since this summer, and there hasn’t been much to show for it. A new worldwide war on ISIS will likely just serve as a recruiting tool for jihadists. We learned last week that our bombing has led to 20,000 new foreign fighters signing up to join ISIS. How many more will decide to join each time a new US bomb falls on a village or a wedding party?

The media makes a big deal about the so-called limitations on the president’s ability to use combat troops in this legislation; but in reality, there is nothing that would add specific limits. The prohibition on troops for “enduring” or “offensive” ground combat operations is vague enough to be meaningless. Who gets to determine what “enduring” means? And how difficult is it to claim that any ground operation is “defensive” by saying it is meant to “defend” the US? Even the three year limit is just propaganda: who believes a renewal would not be all but automatic if the president comes back to Congress with the US embroiled in numerous new wars?

If this new request is not bad enough, the president has announced that he would be sending 600 troops into Ukraine next month, supposedly to help train that country’s military. Just as the Europeans seem to have been able to negotiate a ceasefire between the opposing sides in that civil war, President Obama plans to pour gasoline on the fire by sending in the US military. The ceasefire agreement signed last week includes a demand that all foreign military forces leave Ukraine. I think that is a good idea and will go a long way to reduce the tensions. But why does Obama think that restriction does not apply to us?

Last week also saw the Senate confirm Ashton Carter as the new Secretary of Defense by an overwhelming majority. Carter comes to the Pentagon straight from the military industrial complex, and he has already announced his support for sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. Sen. John McCain’s strong praise for Carter is not a good sign that the new secretary will advise caution before undertaking new US interventions.

As we continue to teeter on the verge of economic catastrophe, Washington’s interventionists in both parties show no signs of slowing. The additional tens of billions or more that these new wars will cost will not only further undermine our economy, but will actually make us less safe. Can anyone point to a single success that the interventionists have had over the last 25 years?

As I have said, this militarism will end one way or the other. Either enough Americans will wake up and demand an end to Washington’s foreign adventurism, or we will go broke and be unable to spend another fiat dollar on maintaining the global US empire.

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

Yemen Fiasco Shows Futility Of America Trying To Police The World

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Last September, President Obama cited his drone program in Yemen as a successful model of US anti-terrorism strategy. He said that he would employ the Yemen model in his effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

But just a week ago, the government in Yemen fell to a Shite militia movement thought to be friendly to Iran. The US embassy in Yemen’s capitol was forced to evacuate personnel and shut down operations.

If Yemen is any kind of model, it is a model of how badly US interventionism has failed.

In 2011, the US turned against Yemen’s long-time dictator, Saleh, and supported a coup that resulted in another, even more US-friendly leader taking over in a “color revolution.” The new leader, Hadi, took over in 2012 and soon became a strong supporter of the US drone program in his country against al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.

But last week, Hadi was forced to flee from office in the coup. The media reports that the US has lost some of its intelligence capability in Yemen, which is making it more difficult to continue the drone strikes. Nevertheless, the White House said last week that its drone program would continue as before, despite the disintegration of the Yemeni government.

And the drone strikes have continued. Last Monday, in the first US strike after the coup, a 12 year old boy was killed in what is sickeningly called “collateral damage.” Two alleged “al-Qaeda militants” were also killed. On Saturday, yet another drone strike killed three more suspected militants.

The US government has killed at least dozens of civilian non-combatants in Yemen, but even those it counts as “militants” may actually be civilians. That is because the Obama administration counts any military-aged male in the area around a drone attack as a combatant.

It was al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that claimed responsibility for the brutal shooting at an anti-religious magazine in Paris last month. At least one of the accused shooters cited his anger over US policy in the Middle East as a motivation for him to attack.

Does anyone wonder why, after 14 years of drone strikes killing more than 800 al-Qaeda militants, it seems there are still so many of them? As a Slate Magazine article this week asked, “what if the drones themselves are part of the problem?” That is an excellent question and one that goes to the heart of US anti-terrorist strategy. What if it is US interventionism in general and drone strikes in particular that are motivating so many people to join anti-US militant movements? What if it is interventionist and militarist western foreign policy that is motivating people to shoot up magazines and seek to bring terrorism back to the countries they see as aggressors?

That is the question that the interventionists fear most. If blowback is real, if they do not hate us because we are so rich and free but because of what our governments are doing to them, then US interventionism is making us less safe and less free.

The disintegration of Yemen is directly related to US drone policy. The disintegration of Libya is directly related to US military intervention. The chaos and killing in Syria is directly related to US support for regime change. Is there not a pattern here?

The lesson from Yemen is not to stay the course that has failed so miserably. It is to end a failed foreign policy that is killing civilians, creating radicals, and making us less safe.

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