Here’s What Really Should Be Done In The Aftermath Of The Terror Attacks

The horrific attacks in Paris on Friday have, predictably, led to much overreaction and demands that we do more of the exact things that radicalize people and make them want to attack us.

The French military wasted no time bombing Syria in retaliation for the attacks, though it is not known where exactly the attackers were from. Thousands of ISIS fighters in Syria are not Syrian, but came to Syria to overthrow the Assad government from a number of foreign countries — including from France and the United States.

Ironically, the overthrow of Assad has also been the goal of both the U.S. and France since at least 2011.

Because the U.S. and its allies are essentially on the same side as ISIS and other groups — seeking the overthrow of Assad — many of the weapons they have sent to the more “moderate” factions also seeking Assad’s ouster have ended up in the hands of radicals. Moderate groups have joined more radical factions over and over, taking their U.S.-provided training and weapons with them. Other moderate groups have been captured or killed, their U.S.-provided weapons also going to the radicals. Thus, the more radical factions have become better equipped and better trained, while occasionally being attacked by U.S. or allied planes.

Does anyone not believe this is a recipe for the kind of disaster we have now seen in Paris? The French in particular have been very active in arming even the more radical groups in Syria, as they push for more political influence in the region. Why do they still refuse to believe in the concept of blowback? Is it because the explanation that, “they hate us because we are free,” makes it easier to escalate abroad and crack down at home?

It may not be popular to say this as emotions run high and calls ring out for more bombing in the Middle East, but there is another way to address the problem. There is an alternative to using more military intervention to address a problem that was caused by military intervention in the first place.

That solution is to reject the militarists and isolationists. It is to finally reject the policy of using “regime change” to further perceived U.S. and western foreign policy goals, whether in Iraq, Libya, Syria, or elsewhere. It is to reject the foolish idea that we can ship hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons to “moderates” in the Middle East and expect none of them to fall into the hands of radicals.

More bombs will not solve the problems in the Middle East. But a more promising approach to the Middle East is currently under fire from the isolationists in Washington.

The nuclear deal with Iran ends UN sanctions and opens that country to international trade. Just last week, the presidents of France and Iran met to discuss a number of trade deals. Other countries have followed. Trade and respect for national sovereignty trumps violence, but Washington still doesn’t seem to get it. Most presidential candidates compete to thump the table loudest against any deal with Iran. They will use this attack to propagandize against approving trade with Iran even though Iran has condemned the attack and is also in the crosshairs of ISIS.

Here is the alternative: Focus on trade and friendly relations, stop shipping weapons, abandon “regime change” and other manipulations, respect national sovereignty, and maintain a strong defense at home including protecting the borders from those who may seek to do us harm.

We should abandon the failed policies of the past, before it’s too late.

© Copyright 2015 Ron Paul

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

Obama Starts Meeting With Netanyahu By Saying 2 Unbelievable Words

President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday at the White House, affirming the alliance between the U.S. and Israel, while acknowledging the two leaders have a disagreement regarding the “narrow issue” of the Iranian nuclear deal.

In their first meeting since the deal was struck in July, Obama said, “It’s no secret that the prime minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue, but we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about us blunting destabilizing activities in Iran that may be taking place.” (See video above starting at 3:40.)

The president also affirmed the right of Israel to protect its citizens from attacks by Palestinian terrorists. “It is my strong belief that Israel has not just the right, but the obligation to protect itself,” Obama said. He further stated his hope to “lower the temperature” between Israelis and Palestinians, while looking into “how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process, even as we make sure that Israel is able to secure itself.”

Netanayhu, in turn, related that is it “tremendously important” for the U.S. and Israel to continue to work together. “We are obviously tested, today, in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East,” he said. “I think everybody can see it. With the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression in terror by Iran’s proxies, and by Iran itself, and the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands, and we don’t know what will transpire.”

The Israeli prime minister was not shy while the Iranian nuclear deal was being negotiated and, after it was signed, to let his feelings be made known. In an address to Congress in March, he said the deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” creating an existential threat to his country.

Nethanyahu listed at least three specific reasons he opposed it a few months later.

  1. It lifts economic sanctions against the rogue regime, allowing hundreds of billions of dollars to flow into Iran.
  2. It keeps Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place.
  3. It gives Iran 24 days to respond to any inspection of facilities by the U.N.

Iran “likely” already has broken the terms of the agreement by conducting ballistic missile tests last month, according to CNN. Additionally, the Islamic Republic violated U.N. sanctions by allowing Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani to travel to Moscow in August. 

h/t: Gateway Pundit

Hillary Clinton Hasn’t Learned A Thing From Iraq

As the first Democratic presidential debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper posed a question to Hillary Clinton: How might her presidency differ from Barack Obama’s?

Clinton smiled. “Well, I think it’s pretty obvious,” she replied to rapturous applause. “Being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had.”

Indeed, a Hillary Clinton presidency would shatter the glass ceiling for women in the United States. But it would also leave intact the old boys’ military-industrial complex that’s kept our nation in a perpetual state of war for decades.

Clinton, it seems, failed to learn anything after supporting the disastrous Iraq War, which plunged a huge swath of the Middle East into chaos and cost her the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Instead of embracing diplomacy, she continued to champion ill-conceived military interventions as secretary of state.

In 2011, when the Arab Spring came to Libya, Clinton was the Obama administration’s most forceful advocate for intervening to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. She even out-hawked Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief first appointed by George W. Bush who was less than enthusiastic about going to war in Libya.

Ironically, the political grief Clinton has suffered over the subsequent attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, might never have occurred if Clinton had opted against intervening in Libya’s civil war.

While House Republicans recently spent 11 hours relentlessly drilling Clinton about Benghazi and her personal email account, the larger disaster by far is the postwar chaos that’s left Libya without a functioning government, overrun by feuding warlords and extremist militants.

Clinton favors greater military intervention in Syria’s civil war, too. In her presidential bid, she’s joined hawkish Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham in supporting the creation of a no-fly zone over the country.

That puts her at odds not only with President Barack Obama, but also with her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, who warned that it could “get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

Clinton did end up supporting the administration’s Iran nuclear deal, but her support came with a history of bellicose baggage.

Back in 2008, for example, she warned that Washington could “totally obliterate“ Iran. During that presidential campaign, she chided Obama as “naïve” and “irresponsible” for wanting to engage the country diplomatically.

Even after the nuclear agreement was sealed, she struck a bullying tone: “I don’t believe Iran is our partner in this agreement,” Clinton insisted. “Iran is the subject of the agreement.” She added that she “won’t hesitate to take military action” if it falls through.

Contrast Clinton with the more moderate Secretary of State John Kerry. It’s no wonder Obama’s two signature foreign policy achievements — the Iran deal and the groundbreaking opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba — came after Clinton left.

There was a very telling moment about Clinton’s attitude during the debate when Cooper asked, “Which enemy are you most proud of?”

Alongside the NRA, Republicans, and health insurance companies, Clinton listed “the Iranians” — which could mean either the Iranian government or the nation’s 78 million people. In either case, it wasn’t a very diplomatic thing to say while her successor and former colleagues are trying to chart a new, more cooperative relationship with Iran.

When it comes to war and peace, it might not matter too much if a Republican or Hillary Clinton wins the White House. In either case, the winner will be the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about.

Medea Benjamin, the founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

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

Former Iranian President Rafsanjani Admits Iran Has Always Sought To Build Nuclear Weapon

During an interview with the Iran Republic News Agency (IRNA), former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (pictured above, right) admitted that Iran has sought to obtain nuclear weapons ever since it launched its covert nuclear program.

The interview with Rafsanjani was conducted in Farsi and was translated and distributed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group in Iran.

The former Iranian president told IRNA that the decision to build a nuclear bomb was related to the war with Iraq in the 1980s and Saddam Hussein’s covert nuclear program.

“At the time that we started, we were at war, and we were looking to have this capability (a nuclear weapon) for the day that our enemy would want to resort to the nuclear bomb,” Rafsanjani reportedly told IRNA.

“Those years, we were all thinking that we should arm ourselves with deterrent elements since the war was not about to end and in our defensive policies we had the word of Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) in mind that the war may last 20 years.

“Our basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology although we never abandoned the idea that if one day we are threatened and it is imperative, we would have the capability for going the other path (to a nuclear weapon) as well,” Rafsanjani added.

Rafsanjani also told IRNA that both he and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continued the project to acquire a nuclear bomb. The former Iranian president admitted that the Iranian nuclear program had covert elements such as secret nuclear facilities, uranium enrichment facilities, the construction of a heavy water reactor and centrifuge development.

Rafsanjani’s admission is consistent with what Israeli intelligence services always have said about Iran’s nuclear program: Khamenei ordered the production of nuclear weapons in 1987.

Israeli Iran expert Ronen Bergman wrote in his book, The Secret War with Iran:

During a secret meeting of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran that year, Khamenei said the following: “Our nation has always been subject to external threats. The little we can do to stand up to this danger is to make our enemies aware that we can defend ourselves. Accordingly, any step that we take here will serve the defense of our nation and your revolution. With this aim in mind, you must work hard and fast.”

Is Instability The Goal Of U.S. Mideast Policy?

Donald Trump’s indictment of the Bush II administration for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks presents an opportunity for more of a bird’s eye view of American foreign policy in the Middle East, a policy that has killed many hundreds of thousands, maimed countless more, and laid waste to entire societies.

As Peter Beinart reminds us, when George W. Bush took office in January 2001, he and his closest national-security staff showed little interest in al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, despite alarms set off by the CIA and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke. Al-Qaeda of course had attacked U.S. government assets in the decade before Bush became president. (Also see this.)

“But both Clarke and [CIA boss George] Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded,” Beinart writes. “Clarke recounts that when he briefed [national security adviser Condoleezza] Rice about al-Qaeda, ‘her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.’”

Repeated attempts to get Bush’s attention were frustrated despite accelerating indications that “Bin Laden [was] Determined to Strike the US.” Even the prospect of aircraft hijackings was raised.
But Bush and his top national-security aides were interested in other things. What things? Ballistic-missile defense, which Bush had promised in his campaign, and Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. Let’s remember that the overthrow of Saddam, euphemistically dubbed “regime change,” was a U.S. goal at least since 1990. In 1991, Bush’s father, President George H. W. Bush, sent forces to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait, but he didn’t go in for the kill and send the military to Baghdad to topple Saddam’s government. Instead, Bush imposed a trade embargo on the Iraqi people, subjecting them to unspeakable hardship, a policy maintained by his successor, Bill Clinton. The deaths of half a million children — the result, among other things, of U.S. destruction of the sanitation and water infrastructure — constituted the price for regime change that Clinton’s UN ambassador, Madeleine Albright, infamously and coldly found “worth it.” (Clinton rewarded Albright by naming her secretary of state — something an enterprising reporter might want to ask Hillary Clinton about.) Bill Clinton also conducted regular bombing raids on Iraq in the name of maintaining no-fly zones. When will Clinton get his share of the responsibility for 9/11? (Another question for Hillary Clinton.)
So the Bush II administration had Iraq on its collective mind in the first eight months of its tenure not withstanding repeated warnings from its terrorism specialists that al-Qaeda was the likely immediate threat.
Beinart writes:

When that April [cabinet-level] meeting [demanded by Clarke] finally occurred, according to Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz objected that “I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” Clarke responded that, “We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al-Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” To which Wolfowitz replied, “Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example.”

As soon as the 9/11 attacks occurred, the Bush administration’s eyes were on Iraq, and the intelligence agencies were ordered to get the proof. Detainees were even tortured to force them to implicate Saddam Hussein, and false stories about contact between al-Qaeda and Saddam’s regime were floated.

Can we make any sense of this fixation on Iraq? I think we can.

It begins to make sense when we realize that American neoconservatives, who include Wolfowitz and a host of people in the Bush Pentagon and State Department, have for years acted as a brain trust for the right-wing of Israel’s ruling elite (Likud). In that capacity, they issued papers, under the auspices of the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, expressing favor toward policies to destabilize the secular regimes in Iraq and Syria, as well as the governments in Lebanon (home of Hezbollah) and, ultimately, Iran — the Shia Crescent. (Hence the general demonization of Iran and the touting of the nonexistent nuclear threat.) These proposed policies would embody a change in strategy for Israel, from seeking a “comprehensive peace” with its neighbors to managing a balance of power. Those signing on to these papers, which were issued in the mid-1990s just as Benjamin Netanyahu was about to become Israel’s prime minister, were aware that, at least in the short run, radical Sunnis would profit from the destabilization and fill the vacuums created in Iraq and Syria. (The papers are here and here. The author is David Wurmser, who later worked in the Bush II administration for both Vice President Dick Cheney and John Bolton in the State Department. The “study group leader” who oversaw the preparation of the papers was Richard Pearle, a leading neoconservative intellectual.)
As the first of these papers stated, “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” The paper envisioned, bizarrely, King Hussein of Jordan extending his rule over Iraq, a move that the neocon brain trust expected to unite Iraq’s Sunnis and Shi’ites and cut Iran out of the picture. Note how well that worked out.
The second paper, in speaking of Syria but with Iraq in mind, stated, “The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.” (Emphasis added.) Observe the hubris in assuming that chaos can be limited, that is, managed. (For more on these papers, see Dan Sanchez’s writings here and here.)
If this is not enough to make sense of an otherwise seemingly senseless U.S. policy in the Middle East, we may also mention an earlier paper, written in the early 1980s by Oded Yinon, a journalist who had been in Israel’s foreign ministry. This paper saw the Arab world as a “house of cards” ripe for “dissolution” by Israel and the United States:

Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unqiue [sic] areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today….

Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.

Inter-Arab confrontation promoted by the United States and Israel — let’s recall here Israel’s medical care for al-Qaeda fighters — would suit expansionist Israelis who have no wish to deal justly with the Palestinians and the Occupied Territories The more dangerous the Middle East appears, the more Israeli leaders can count on the United States not to push for a fair settlement with the Palestinians. The American people, moreover, are likely to be more lenient toward Israel’s brutality if chaos prevails in the neighboring states. Chaos would also undercut Hezbollah, which repelled Israel’s last invasion of Lebanon, and Hamas, which refuses to disappear despite savage Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The success of radical Islamists in the wake of the destabilization of Iraq, Libya (home of Benghazi, a source of arms thanks to the CIA), and Syria came as no surprise to people in the know. Indeed, a 2012 Defense Information Agency report, widely circulated through the upper echelons of the U.S. government, noted that U.S. policies to “isolate the Syrian regime” — such as funneling arms indiscriminately to rebels — were enabling the emergence of a “Salafist principality” (i.e. an Islamic state), a development (the report said) that would be viewed favorably by the West and its regional allies. Since that time, U.S. policy in Syria, and Yemen (i.e., the backing of Saudi Arabia’s brutal war and starvation blockade), have worked to the advantage of al-Qaeda affiliates. Not coincidentally, in both cases the targets are interests that get support (in widely varying degrees) from Iran. This helps us understand why the Obama administration condemns Russian President Vladimir Putin for directing airstrikes against Islamists seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As a recent Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, put it, “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” (Emphasis added.) Hence the suggestions, most notably from retired general and former CIA chief David Patraeus, that the U.S. government side with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria — its “moderate” elements of course — against the Islamic State. (Nusra also opposes the Assad government.)

This is not to say that the neoconservative-Likud alliance is the only force driving U.S. policy. It is well known that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states (which are no threat to Israel) wish to throttle Iran, perhaps fearful that a U.S.-Iran detente could be in the offing. Regime change in Syria would suit the Saudis’ anti-Iran, anti-Shi’ite agenda, which is another reason why arms, money, and fighters have flowed so freely to the Sunni rebels in Syria. (If bona fide moderates there be among the rebels, their chief role has been as arms conduits to the jihadis.) The U.S. government, it hardly needs saying, does not wish to alienate its Arab allies, as long as their interests do not conflict with Israel’s.

Thus, we need not puzzle over a lethal and self-defeating U.S. policy that appears more aimed at Iran and its allies rather than at the radical jihadi network that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. government should not be intervening in the Middle East at all, but working with Israel and corrupt Arab states in order to create an instability that serves Islamist interests is simply crazy.
Sheldon Richman keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Become a patron today!

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