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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/24/19

Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

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It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider's viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that "There's a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us." Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington's principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington's claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicola's Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but "all options are on the table." Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

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The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly 10 times as much on "defense."

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a "foreign terrorist organization" and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 percent of the American people.

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A current bill originally entitled the "Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019," is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will ""require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations." The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world's best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as ""comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia's interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine."

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today's Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that "Putin's Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order." Menendez noted that "President Trump's willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress" while Graham added that "Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin's Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria." Cardin contributed "Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad" and Shaheen observed that "This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order."

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The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as "foreign terrorist organizations" is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

 

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Philip Giraldi Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Mr. Giraldi was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish. His columns on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues regularly appear in The American Conservative magazine, Huffington Post, and antiwar.com. He has written op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain, has appeared on "Good Morning America," MSNBC, National Public Radio, and local affiliates of ABC television. He has been a keynote speaker at the Petroleum Industry Security Council annual meeting, has spoken twice at the American Conservative Union's annual CPAC convention in Washington, and has addressed several World Affairs Council affiliates. He has been interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Britain's Independent Television Network, FOX News, Polish National Television, Croatian National Television, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, 60 Minutes, and other international and domestic broadcasters.


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John Rachel

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A peaceful world is the victim of this monomaniacal shift in policy, when the U.S. slammed shut the window of opportunity presented in 1992, to pursue Pax Americana domination of the planet. This is the arrogance that has preceded the decline of every other empire and perpetuated war and conflict throughout human history. Our current disastrous course might still be altered but the citizenry would have to wake up to the realities of our self-sabotaging world view, then rise up en masse to challenge the imperial project. Time is running out. Or maybe it's already too late.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 9:20:17 PM

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Michael Dewey

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Tough selling peace when people won't lift back finger for what they can do nothing about. Back year and a half from 7 years in Belgium and am making new and old friends playing pool and darts around Leoburg. Some, a few, seem to be figuring out the message on juke box from the sixties Rock and roll. Though as departed Marie in Belgium would joke over song, "it will be over your dead body." Gonna be printing up you peace dividend in next 4; page paper news letter we pass around town.

Submitted on Thursday, Apr 25, 2019 at 3:21:16 AM

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"Gonna be printing up you peace dividend in next 4; page paper news letter we pass around town."

Excellent!

Submitted on Thursday, Apr 25, 2019 at 10:30:36 PM

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Stan Crawford

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If Carter had won a second term in 1980, the world would be a much different place than it is today. In 40 years time, Ronald Reagan "Freedom Fighter's" provided billions of $'s in weapons have been relabeled "Terrorists," and costing the country trillions of $'s and scores of US soldiers killed, maimed and committing suicide in the farce War of Terror.


Reagan's misguided domestic/foreign policies laid the foundation for the PRC/CCP to now enable it to threaten US economic/military interests and Taiwan.


Those who created the Iran-Contra weapons for cocaine scandal and the PNAC 9/11 (minus Ollie North), are now in the tRump administration trying to foment regime change in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran.


I've witnessed in my lifetime the USA missed opportunities to lead the world in a responsible fashion, instead choosing to be short-sighted, greedy, opportunists. This is why the world will not miss the USA in the very near future.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019 at 9:35:54 PM

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