Category Archives: Foreign Policy

When Should the US Go to War? by Doug Bandow

Remember the good old days when the watchwords of US foreign policy were: avoid foreign entanglements. Those days are long gone, but they should be reinstated. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The U.S. is the most militarized and warlike nation on earth. Most Americans don’t think of their nation that way. Indeed, stating this fact often generates anger and outrage. However, what other state has gone to war so often since the Cold War ended? Certainly not the countries most likely to be on the Right’s “to bomb” list – China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, or Venezuela, individually or collectively.

The tally of nations droned, bombed, invaded, and/or occupied, threatened with war by the US, or attacked by other nations aided by America, over the last three decades is long: Afghanistan, Haiti, Iran, Iraq (twice!), Kenya, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, and Yemen. Others have been hit with financial war in the form of immiserating sanctions, which sometimes do as much economic damage as military action.

Many of these conflicts were small scale. However, their consequences were usually large. For instance, Iraq resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and destabilized the entire region. Yemen is a humanitarian disaster. Afghanistan’s and Libya’s civil wars drag on. Having failed to force the Assad regime from power, US troops remain, illegally occupying Syrian oil fields in order to hinder that desperate country’s economic recovery. Threats against Iran and North Korea easily could have turned out as wars worse than Iraq.

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The heart of the matter in the South China Sea, by Pepe Escobar

China doesn’t seem to harbor any ambitions in the Caribbean, but the US government thinks the South China Sea should be a US lake. US policymakers seem offended by the fact that the Chinese government has other ideas. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com via zerohedge.com:

The battle for the contested maritime region is over before the shooting even begins and China has won

When the Ronald Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups recently engaged in “operations” in the South China Sea, it did not escape to many a cynic that the US Pacific Fleet was doing its best to turn the infantile Thucydides Trap theory into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The pro forma official spin, via Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of the Nimitz, is that the ops were conducted to “reinforce our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules-based international order, and to our allies and partners”.

Nobody pays attention to these clichés, because the real message was delivered by a CIA operative posing as diplomat, Secretary of State Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo: “The PRC has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region”, in a reference to the Nine-Dash Line. For the State Dept., Beijing deploys nothing but “gangster tactics” in the South China Sea.

Once again, nobody paid attention, because the actual facts on the sea are stark. Anything that moves in the South China Sea – China’s crucial maritime trade artery – is at the mercy of the PLA, which decides if and when to deploy their deadly DF-21D and DF-26 “carrier killer” missiles.

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When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Punked, by James Howard Kunstler

America’s facing a sea of woes, and so too is the Democratic party. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Did you happen to view the Attorney General being assailed by lunatics in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday? It kind of looked like a scene from the French Revolution acted out by a road company touring Alice in Wonderland. Mr. Barr stolidly endured their orchestrated calumnies as though he had larger matters on his mind. Do not suppose it will end there, or end well for this shabby claque of mutts and harpies.

There is the rectified essence of your Democratic Party circa the awful year 2020, spreading its poisons into every organ of society like a fungal overgrowth, making the nation crazy as the old economy of cheeseburgers and happy motoring disintegrates under the spell of a mystifying plague and the peoples’ zombie indifference turns to epic woe and fury.

If the forlorn homunculus Chairman Nadler accomplished anything, it was to ratchet up Mr. Barr’s determination to round up and indict the figures behind the years-long campaign of sedition waged against the public interest and decency. Sometime before Halloween, an awful wrath is going to befall Barack Obama’s wingmen and handmaidens, and it will be a supremely sobering moment.

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The Russians Are(n’t) Coming!: Paul Reveres, the Washington Hawks Are Not, by Danny Sjursen

Having an enemy, even a made up one, greatly increases spending on the military. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

One’s opinion on the multiplicity of Russia-inflected-“gates” is now a lucidity litmus test. Spoiler alert: D.C. is apparently an open-air psych ward.

In America’s Emerald City these days, if there’s even a hint of a war-wind-down, imperial-deescalation, or military budget-cuts, Washington’s (non-dribbling) Wizards have a ready response: Russia! Indeed, these military’s magicians have a far-simpler and more effective playbook than the city’s aptly-named NBA franchise. Since President Donald Trump’s election year, basketball’s Wizards are a meager 148-162; the Wizards of Warfare are essentially undefeated – not a single war hath ended. The first-place War Wizards rely on two go-to moves to maintain militarism:

    1. Invent or Exaggerate a “new” Russian threat (anywhere and everywhere).

And, if that hasn’t done the trick:

  1. Plant, time, or twist a “new” media story evincing Trump’s collusion, favoritism, or blindspot for Vladimir Putin.

Enter this last, now typical, Wednesday. At a morning Pentagon press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that 12,000 U.S. troops will be removed from Germany per the president’s previously stated intentions. Later that same night, the Daily Beast reported that according to three ironclad sources – “two senior American officials and another individual with knowledge of the matter” – that the State Department “Warn[ed] Russia on Bounties While Trump Cries ‘Fake News.’” The article’s subtle subtitle offered the gist (and motive-rub): “The secret warnings stand in contrast to what President Trump has said about the intelligence in question.”

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This is bigger than Covid. But few people are paying attention. By Simon Black

Chinese-US relations may be far more important for Americans than Covid-19. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Most people realize that 2020 has thrust two game-changing trends upon us that will change the world for years to come.

The first is Covid.

In less than six months, this virus has created extreme global hysteria and economic devastation.

Countless businesses have gone bust or are teetering on the edge. Tens of millions of jobs have been lost.

Government debt around the world has exploded higher. And their heavy-handed abuse of power has been astonishing… often incomprehensible.

Politicians and public health officials have suspended many of our most fundamental freedoms, threatened to come into our homes and take our family members away, and even banished us from our own private properties.

We’ve also seen a breakdown in basic social conventions.

Family and friends have stopped gathering together in person out of fear that someone may be a carrier. Weddings and funerals are virtual. And a simple handshake is practically considered an act of biological terrorism.

And, just like 9/11 nearly two decades ago, many effects of Covid will never return to ‘normal’.

Then there’s the social justice movement… which tore onto the world stage two months ago with a desire to make important cultural changes.

At its core, the movement is virtuous. After all, it’s supposed to be about freedom.

But it has quickly become divisive, menacing, and pointlessly violent.

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Biden’s Revenge Agenda, by Kurt Schlichter

Biden and the Democrats intend to inflict misery on many Americans, particularly those inclined to support Trump. From Kurt Schlichter at theburningplatform.com:

Biden’s Revenge Agenda

The agenda of President Joe “25th Amendment Bait” Biden, to the extent he has an agenda besides trying to find his perpetually lost slipper down there in his basement lair, consists entirely of taking vengeance upon you for your crime of defying the garbage establishment and electing Donald Trump.

He doesn’t want to help you. He’s not even interested in leaving you alone. Instead, the progressive Geppetos holding the strings to this withered old Pinocchio, should he become a real boy next January, are entirely committed to punishing you and ensuring that you are nothing like a citizen ever again.

All they have to do is hold the House, flip a few Senate seats, and fool America into thinking that Grandpa Badfinger is still “Middle Class Joe” instead of a basement-dwelling, desiccated, gropey old strange-o with delusions of mental competence and a running feud with that uppity squirrel who lives in his backyard.

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Ready to Go to War? Republicans Beat the War Drums Over Taiwan, by Doug Bandow

Taiwan has evolved into a modern democracy, but that doesn’t mean that a US “guarantee” of its safety from Chinese invasion is a good idea. From Doug Bandow a antiwar.com:

The sun never sets on the American Empire, which is no less extensive than the British Empire. What makes Washington’s imperial domain unique is that it regularly expands without conquest.

Now members of the ever-hawkish Republican Party want make Taiwan an official defense client, with Washington promising to defend the island from the People’s Republic of China. And the threat is real. Earlier this month Taiwan’s Foreign minister Joseph Wu warned that “for China, Taiwan would be an extremely convenient sacrificial lamb.” He worried that “The threat is on the rise.”

If the U.S. guarantees Taipei’s security the danger of war will be great. Barry Posen of MIT observed that “The US commitment to Taiwan is simultaneously the most perilous and least strategically necessary commitment that the United States has today.” How many American lives might be sacrificed in another people’s fight that could go nuclear?

China is an ancient civilization. Once the world’s greatest economic power which dominated Asia, the empire turned inward. The vast land stagnated as Europe flourished. By the mid-1800s European countries were forcibly “opening” China for trade and seizing territory, ranging from Hong Kong to Western “concessions,” including in Shanghai, where many original buildings from that time remain on the Bund, or waterfront.

The “century of humiliation” extended into the 20th century. The decrepit Qing dynasty was overthrown in 1911. The Republic of China was established on January 1, 1912, but much of the country fell under the control of warlords. Over time the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, revived the ROC’s authority, but still fell short of real control. The Chinese Communist Party emerged, in which Mao Zedong soon gained preeminence. In 1937 Japan began an extended war of conquest against China. Tokyo promiscuously murdered and destroyed but could not control the territory it seized. With Japan’s defeat in 1945 came full-scale civil war in China. Chiang lost, allowing Mao to dramatically declare creation of the new revolutionary government in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949. Two months later Chiang moved what remained of his government to Taiwan.

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War Crimes and War Criminals: Who Will Be Held Accountable? by Philip Giraldi

Let’s see, if the US invades your country, perhaps to change the regime, and you fight the invading force, you’re a terrorist. It makes perfect sense. From Philip Giraldi at strategicculture.com:

There is something unique about how the United States manipulates the “terrorism” label to avoid being accused of carrying out war crimes. When an indigenous militia or an armed insurgency like the Taliban in a country like Iraq or Afghanistan attacks American soldiers subsequent to a U.S. invasion which overthrew the country’s government, it is considered by Washington to be an act of “terrorism.” Terror attacks de facto permit a carte blanche response, allowing virtually anything as retaliation against the parties involved or countries that support them, including the assassination of foreign government officials. But for the attacker, whose perspective is quite different, the incident often could reasonably be described as legitimate resistance to a foreign occupier and much of the world might agree with that assessment.

So, it all comes down to definitions. The United States covers its version of reality through liberal use of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which more-or-less gives a blanket approval to attack and kill “terrorists” anywhere at any time. And how does one become a terrorist? By being included on the U.S. government’s heavily politicized annual list of terrorist groups and material supporters of terrorism. That was the argument that was used by the United States when it killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January, that his organization, the Qods Force, was on the “terrorist” lists maintained by State and the Treasury Department and he was therefore held to be guilty of any and all attacks on U.S. military carried out by Qods or by presumed Iranian surrogate militias.

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More Fallout from Iran/China Deal: India Loses Farzad-B, by Tom Luongo

India is caught in the middle between the US and the Eurasian axis of China, Russia, and Iran. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

he carnage for following President Trump’s lead on ending the JCPOA continues for India.

From SputnikNews last week comes this note about the Farzad-B oil and gas field and Iran.

Close on the heels of breaking the Chabahar-Zahedan rail project agreement, Iran appears set to deny India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), exploration and production rights for the key Farzad B gas field.

The granting  of rights to OVL was already delayed with New Delhi moving slowly on the issue, but came to a complete standstill after the 2018 imposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Now that threat looks to be a reality.

Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency quoted India’s External Affairs Ministry (EAM) as saying on Thursday Tehran would develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf region “on its own” and might engage India “appropriately at a later stage”.

Translation: “Stop stalling for Trump’s sake and make good on your promises or the project goes to China.”

Because that’s where this leads in light of the announced mega-deal between Iran and China worth a reported $400 billion.

I wrote last week I thought India has lost its way on the New Silk Road. Losing the contract to build the railway it pushed for to bypass Pakistan and assert independence from China’s OBOR plans should have been a clear enough signal.

But apparently it wasn’t.

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Stress Test of a Straining Superpower, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US is a failing superpower and it assuredly will not pass this stress test. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

How great a burden can even an unrivaled superpower carry before it buckles and breaks? We may be about to find out.

Rome was the superpower of its time, ruling for centuries almost the entirety of what was then called the civilized world.

Great Britain was a superpower of its day, but she bled, bankrupted and broke herself in the Thirty Years War of the West from 1914-1945.

By Winston Churchill’s death in 1965, the empire had vanished, and Britain was being invaded by a stream of migrants from its former colonies.

America was the real superpower of the 20th century and became sole claimant to that title with the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991, an event Vladimir Putin called “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

Has America’s turn come? Is America breaking under the burdens it has lately assumed and is attempting to carry?

Today, at the presidential library of Richard Nixon, who ushered Mao’s China onto the world stage, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is laying out a strategy of containment and confrontation of a China that is far more the equal of the USA than was the USSR.

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