Category Archives: History

Could Trump End the Syrian War? by Eric Margolis

As Eric Margolis notes, the US has no real business being in Syria, no strategic interests. However, if Trump actually ends the Syrian war, there’ll be hell to pay with the Deep State, which will not realize its cherished goal of deposing Assad. From Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled. So far, they have been disappointed. But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel.

President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria’s jihadist rebels that have fuelled the bloody six-year conflict. Washington, and its allies Britain and France, have persistently denied arming Syria’s jihadist rebels fighting to bring down the Russian and Iranian-backed government of President Bashar Assad.

Former President George W. Bush actively considered invading Syria around 2008 in collusion with Israel. But the Israelis then pointed out that there were no Western-friendly groups to replace Assad, only extreme militant Sunni Muslim groups. Even the usually reckless Bush called off the invasion of Syria.

By contrast, Barack Obama gave a green light to the CIA to arm, train and logistically support anti-Assad jihadist rebels in Syria. Arms poured in from Lebanon and, later, Turkey, paid for by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Small numbers of US, British and French advisors went to Syria to teach the jihadists how to use mortars, explosives, and anti-tank weapons. The media’s claim that the fighting in Syria was due to a spontaneous popular uprising was false. The repressive Assad government was widely unpopular but the uprising was another CIA ‘color-style’ operation.

The object of this operation was to overthrow President Assad and his Shiite-leaning regime, which was supported by Iran, a bogeyman to all the US-backed feudal Arab oil monarchies. Syria was also to be punished because it refused Washington’s demands to sever ties with Iran and accept US tutelage.

To continue reading: Could Trump End the Syrian War?

 

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Anticipating the Forthcoming PBS Documentary, ‘The Vietnam War’, by Camillo Mac Bica

Famed documentarian Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have created a 10-part documentary on Vietnam. Camillo Mac Bica is hoping it document the reality of Vietnam, not simply regurgitate the propaganda, but early indications are not good. From Bica at antiwar.com:

Much has been written and many documentaries made about the American War in Vietnam including the highly acclaimed 1983 effort by PBS, Vietnam: A Television History. Though not without its shortcomings, this 13-part documentary series was well crafted, meticulously researched, carefully balanced and thought-provoking.

In September 2017, PBS will air the highly anticipated – seemingly touted as the definitive documentary – about the Vietnam War, directed by respected documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The goal of this 10-episode, 18-hour project is, according to the directors, to “create a film everyone could embrace” and to provide the viewer with information and insights that are “new and revelatory.” Just as importantly, they intend the film to provide the impetus and parameters for a much needed national conversation about this controversial and divisive period in American history.

The film will be accompanied by an unprecedented outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities for communities to participate in a national conversation about what happened during the Vietnam War, what went wrong and what lessons are to be learned. In addition, there will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students in multiple platforms.

In an interview and discussion of the documentary on Detroit Public TV,Burns describes what he hopes to accomplish as a filmmaker, “Our job is to tell a good story.” In response and in praise of Burns’ work, the interviewer offers his view of documentary. “The story that filmmakers like yourself, the story that storytellers create, are the framework that allows us to understand the truth because the truth is too unfathomable to take in all at once.” To which Burns quickly adds, “And there are many truths.”

My hope is that Burns and Novick, in “creating their story” of the Vietnam War, will demonstrate the same commitment to truth and objectivity as did their PBS predecessor. That they will resist the urge and the more than subtle pressure from what many historians and veterans see as a Government sponsored effort to sanitize and mythologize the US involvement in this tragic war, as illustrated in President Barack Obama’s proclamationestablishing March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day.

To continue reading: Anticipating the Forthcoming PBS Documentary, ‘The Vietnam War’

 

A Mainstream Dose of Reality on Iraq, by Jacob Hornberger

Some of us predicted back in 2003 when the US invaded Iraq that it would end up making Iraq safe for the Iranians. We were right. From Jacob Hornberger at ronpaullibertyreport.com:

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​Ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, we have been hit with a multiplicity of bromides, myths, falsehoods, and deceptions by U.S. officials and the mainstream media. “Saddam was coming to get us with his WMDs.” “Mushroom clouds were going to start appearing over U.S. cities.” “The troops in Iraq are defending our freedoms.” The troops are bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.” “Occupation Iraqi Freedom is going to produce a paradise of freedom and prosperity.”

And then every once in a while a small dose of reality about Iraq creeps into the mainstream media, which is what happened in the July 15, 2017, issue of the New York Times.

The Times’ article pointed out what we here at FFF have been saying about Iraq for the past 15 years: that the winner of the U.S-Iraq War in 2003 was … Iran! Yes, Iran, the country that the U.S. government ranks among the top of its official-enemies list.

The title of the article says it all: “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. “Handed the Country Over.”

Of course, that title implies that if the U.S. government had not exited Iraq in 2011, Iran would not be “dominating in Iraq.” That’s ridiculous. Iran has been dominating in Iraq ever since the U.S. ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.

The Times essentially acknowledges that central point:

When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.

From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies.

In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.

This is what most Americans have avoided confronting ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ever since then, Americans from all walks of life have blindly thanked the troops for their “service” in Iraq, without giving any thought to exactly what such “service” consisted of.

With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons, by Glenn Greenwald

The Democrats dominant foreign policy strain is neoconservativism. From Glenn Greenwald at theintercept.com:

ONE OF THE most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons.

The Democrat, Laura Rosenberger, served as a foreign policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and chief of staff to two Obama national security officials. The Republican is Jamie Fly, who spent the last four years as counselor for foreign and national security affairs to one of the Senate’s most hawkish members, Marco Rubio; prior to that, he served in various capacities in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council.

To continue reading: With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons

The “Deep State” Then and Now, by Edward Curtin

Many of the histories written of the CIA and other intelligence agencies implicitly assume that the they are not still doing the dark deeds the history chronicle. In most instances that’s a faulty assumption. From Edward Curtin at lewrockwell.com:

“…since grasping the present from within is the most problematic task the mind can face.”

Frederic Jameson

Have you ever seen a photograph of yourself from the past and laughed or grimaced at the way you were dressed or your hair style? It’s a common experience.  But few people draw the obvious conclusion about the present: that our present appearance might be equally laughable.  The personal past seems to be “over there,” an object to be understood and dissected for its meaning, while the present seems opaque and shape-shifting – or just taken-for-granted okay.  “That was then,” says the internal voice, “but I am wiser now.”  Historical perspective, even about something as superficial as appearance, rarely illuminates the present, perhaps because it makes us feel ignorant and unfree.

This is even truer with political and social history.

In recent years there has been a spate of books and articles detailing the CIA’s past Cold War cultural and political propaganda efforts, from the creation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) with its string of magazines, to its collaboration with many famous writers and intellectuals, including Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Richard Wright, Irving Kristol, et al., and its penetration and working relationships with so many publications and media outlets, including The New York Times, the Paris Review, Encounter, etc. These exposés show how vast was the CIA’s propaganda network throughout the media and the world, and how many people participated in the dirty work.

Joel Whitney, in his recently published book, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (the word “tricked” ignores the eager accomplices), tells this scandalous story in illuminating detail.  His account informs and nauseates simultaneously, as one learns how the CIA penetrated NGOs, television, universities, magazines, newspapers, book publishing, etc., finding willing collaborationists everywhere – scoundrels eager to spy on and betray even their friends as they deceived the public worldwide; how well-meaning leftist writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Garcia Marquez were tricked into lending their names and work to propaganda publications; how leftists were set against leftists in an elaborate effort to sow paranoia and confusion that could be used to put the Soviet Union in the worst possible light; and how many front organizations were created to secretly funnel money to support these endeavors and make and break careers.  The story makes your skin crawl.

To continue reading: The “Deep State” Then and Now

Why 2017 Is Like 1969, by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith considers the similarity between 2017 and 1969, and between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

1969-2017: and here we are again, in so many ways.

A deeply polarizing new president, a disastrously misguided official narrative that the political Establishment doggedly supports despite a damning lack of evidence, and an economy teetering on the edge of recession–and worse.
Sound familiar? Welcome to 1969 redux. The similarities between the crises unfolding in 1969 and the present-day crises are not just skin-deep–they’re systemic.
Consider the basic parallels.
1. Nixon was if anything more polarizing than Trump. If there was any politician Democrats loved to hate, it was Nixon. Yet Nixon won a close race against an Establishment Democrat, at least partly because he ran as a “peace candidate” and because he spoke to the Silent Majority who disagreed with the nation’s direction. The Silent Majority was mocked and ridiculed by the mainstream media as racist, close-minded deplorables.
2. The Democratic Party had become the Establishment bastion of war-mongering. The Democratic White House had been obscuring its devastating strategic and tactical miscalculations behind a slick PR campaign and a pervasive and often illegal program of suppressing dissenters and whistleblowers.
3. At the behest of the Establishment, an immense propaganda machinery had been running full-tilt to paper over foreign-policy failures and tragedies (including but not limited to the Vietnam War). In 2017, this immense propaganda machine is focused on discrediting the Trump presidency by unearthing or fabricating evidence of collusion with our default Bad Guy, Russia.
4. The political Establishment had decided to tamp down discontent with the Vietnam War by borrowing vast sums to pay for both “guns” (the war) and “butter” (the Great Society social welfare programs). Paying for the war and a military capable of fighting one-and-a-half other wars (at that time, the Pentagon was geared to fight 2.5 wars) would have required some sacrifice in domestic spending, and that would have further inflamed popular resistance to the Vietnam War. The expedient (and predictably disastrous) choice was to ramp up deficit spending so no domestic sacrifice was needed to pay the crushingly high costs of the Vietnam conflict. In 2017, U.S. public debt basically doubled during the Obama/congressional guns and butter borrowing spree from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.
To continue reading: Why 2017 Is Like 1969

Russia Baiters and Putin Haters, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Given the many thugs and dictators the US has dealt with through the years, it’s a mystery why Vladimir Putin excites such special animus among the US establishment. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Is Russia an enemy of the United States?” NBC’s Kasie Hunt demanded of Ted Cruz. Replied the runner-up for the GOP nomination, “Russia is a significant adversary. Putin is a KGB thug.”

To Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr., entertained an offer from the Russians for dirt on Clinton could be considered “treason.”

Treason is giving aid and comfort to an enemy in a time of war.

Are we really at war with Russia? Is Russia really our enemy?

“Why Russia is a Hostile Power” is the title of today’s editorial in The Washington Post that seeks to explain why Middle America should embrace the Russophobia of our capital city:

“Vladimir Putin adheres to a set of values that are antithetical to bedrock American values. He favors spheres of influence over self-determination; corruption over transparency; and repression over democracy.”

Yet, accommodating a sphere of influence for a great power is exactly what FDR and Churchill did with Stalin, and every president from Truman to George H. W. Bush did with the Soviet Union.

When East Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Poles rose up against Communist regimes, no U.S. president intervened. For those nations were on the other side of the Yalta line agreed to in 1945.

Bush I and James Baker even accused Ukrainians of “suicidal nationalism” for contemplating independence from Russia.

When did support for spheres of influence become un-American?

As for supporting “corruption over transparency,” ex-Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili resigned in disgust as governor of Odessa in November, accusing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, our man in Kiev, of supporting corruption.

As for favoring “repression over democracy,” would that not apply to our NATO ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, and our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte? Were U.S. Cold War allies like the Shah of Iran and Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile all Jeffersonian Democrats? Have we forgotten our recent history?

The Post brought up the death in prison of lawyer-activist Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Under the Magnitsky Act of 2012, Congress voted sanctions on Russia’s elites.

Yet China’s lone Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to 11 years in prison for championing democracy, died Thursday of liver cancer, with police in his hospital room. Communist dictator Xi Jinping, who makes Putin look like Justin Trudeau, would not let the dying man go.

To continue reading: Russia Baiters and Putin Haters