Is A Permanent Military Presence In The Persian Gulf The Only Way To Counter Iran?

It might sound counterintuitive, but a larger military presence in a given region can actually lower the chances of a violent outbreak. It’s the concept of ‘Peace through Strength’ that’s right out of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War rhetoric and/or the movie ‘Starship Troopers’. Yet, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, who first requested the American military buildup in and around the Persian Gulf last month, has credited this strategy for warding off the unspecified “specific” Iranian threats.

The rapid US buildup, Gen. McKenzie said, has, for now at least, stabilized the threat from Iran – though the dangers posed by Tehran remain real and an attack could be imminent. The buildup has been so successful, in fact, that we might need to increase our deployment. After decades of an expanding American military presence in the region, the Trump Administration last year started trying to slowing wind down its presence: Several Patriot missile batteries were removed from Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain last year, and aircraft carriers, once a constant presence, were moved to an “as needed” basis.

Cali

And look what happened?

“We think this is having a very good stabilizing effect,” Gen. McKenzie said regarding the deployments.

But Gen. McKenzie is considering expanding military capabilities to ensure the U.S. has a long-term, credible deterrence force in the region. Such a move would amount to a significant reversal in the U.S. global military posture, which has shifted away from the Middle East under the Trump administration’s national security strategy, which emphasizes risks from competition with Russia and China.

Gen. McKenzie and others, while backing the national defense strategy issued as part of the national security strategy, said the threat posed by Iran may merit adjustments.

“We’re in the process of negotiating that,” Gen. McKenzie said, acknowledging the potential costs of a shift. “I think very carefully and long and hard before I talk about bringing additional resources into the theater. We are talking about it, but it’s going to be based on a running estimate of the situation as we go forward.”

Even the few brushes with the Iranian IRGC have been ‘professional and uneventful’.

Despite the heightened Iranian military activity, the country’s regular military forces and the IRGC have continued to operate professionally and the interactions at sea have been uneventful, said Adm. John Wade, commander of the Lincoln strike group.

“Since we’ve been operating in the region, we’ve had several interactions with Iranians,” he said. “To this point, all have been safe and professional – meaning, the Iranians have done nothing to impede our maneuverability or acted in a way which required us to take defensive measures.”

The USS Abraham Lincoln is supposed to end up in San Diego at the close of a round-the-world deployment. But who knows? If these unspecified threats aren’t resolved, the deployment in the Middle East could be permanent.

AWS is now making Amazon Personalize available to all customers

Amazon Personalize, first announced during AWS re:Invent last November, is now available to all Amazon Web Services customers. The API enables developers to add custom machine learning models to their apps, including ones for personalized product recommendations, search results and direct marketing, even if they don’t have machine learning experience.

The API processes data using algorithms originally created for Amazon’s own retail business,  but the company says all data will be “kept completely private, owned entirely by the customer.” The service is now available to AWS users in three U.S. regions, East (Ohio), East (North Virginia) and West (Oregon), two Asia Pacific regions (Tokyo and Singapore) and Ireland in the European Union, with more regions to launch soon.

AWS customers who have already added Amazon Personalize to their apps include Yamaha Corporation of America, Subway, Zola and Segment. In Amazon’s press release, Yamaha Corporation of America Director of Information Technology Ishwar Bharbhari said Amazon Personalize “saves us up to 60% of the time needed to set up and tune the infrastructure and algorithms for our machine learning models when compared to building and configuring the environment on our own.”

Amazon Personalize’s pricing model charges five cents per GB of data uploaded to Amazon Personalize and 24 cents per training hour used to train a custom model with their data. Real-time recommendation requests are priced based on how many are uploaded, with discounts for larger orders.

All Americans Have Blood On Their Hands

Authored by Robert Scheer via TruthDig.com,

Shortly after Truthdig columnist Danny Sjursen left the Army, where he spent 18 years on active duty and rose to the rank of major, he sat down with Editor in Chief Robert Scheer for an interview about life after the military and a discussion about the conclusions he drew throughout his military career. Sjursen, who attended West Point and did several tours in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, opened up to Scheer about how leaving the institution where he spent most of his adult life has allowed him to finally be completely frank about his experiences, in his columns as well as in his recent book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.”

“I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty,” Sjursen tells Scheer in the latest installment of ‘Scheer Intelligence’, “but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But the book was a labor of love [that] tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.”

Now, as Sjursen pursues a Ph.D and a career as a writer while adapting to his new life and grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the former soldier is still profoundly troubled by his experiences at war, not only as he led soldiers to their deaths, but also as he watched U.S. forces devastate Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he went to Iraq thinking the trouble with the war was the way it was being fought, he left with a very different impression of the conflict.

“What I saw happen to the Iraqi people [haunted me more] than what happened to my soldiers,” Sjursen says.

“Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis… Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. … That was a big turning point, when I started to say, ‘Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.’ ”

Recounting the many ways the U.S. created worse conditions for Iraqis after the death of Saddam, Sjursen explains that the nearly half a million Iraqis who have died since the early 2000s were not killed directly by American soldiers, but by the unleashing of a “Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society.” The war in Afghanistan, while fought under different pretenses, was no less brutal or foolish than the Iraq War, in Sjursen’s eyes.

The reality is, any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute – and this only took weeks – the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system – the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost.

But the blood on Sjursen’s hands, which he remains conscious of long after his last deployment, is on all Americans’ hands, as the Truthdig columnist points out. And with no end in sight to what have been dubbed our “forever wars,” it’s unlikely we’ll be able to wash our hands clean of these ongoing tragedies any time soon.

Listen to Sjursen and Scheer as they talk about everything from WikiLeaks to the accumulating failures of America’s leaders, at home and abroad. You can also read a transcript of the interview below the media player and find past episodes of “Scheer Intelligence” here.

-Introduction by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s someone–this is sort of the second part of an interview that began, oh, months ago, when Major Danny Sjursen was active duty in the Army. And he had spent 18 years of his life, ever since signing up at West Point–being admitted at West Point, a kid from Staten Island, a basically poor, working-class background. A lot of firemen and cops in his community and family. And affected by 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Center. But he went to West Point before 9/11. And people just thought, well, you know, god, they’re letting poor kids in there now, because the congressmen and the bankers, they don’t want their children to grow up to be lieutenants or even majors; he became a major eventually. So the military academy is actually more merit-based now than it might have once been. And so welcome, Major Sjursen. How are you?

Danny Sjursen: Oh, I’m great. Thanks for having me again, Bob.

RS: OK. And the reason I wanted to talk to you today is that, first of all, it’s two months now since you’ve been an active duty major. It’s something you’ve done, I’m sure, your whole life, adult life. And you were a lieutenant, you were in Iraq for a year and a half or so; you were in Afghanistan, and you were deployed other times. How many times were you deployed?

DS: Ah, just two combat deployments and then some short tours for–

RS: Yeah, but in many other countries and so forth–

DS: Of course, yeah, absolutely.

RS: And you’re a father of two children; you’ve had an interesting life. And you wrote a book about the surge in Iraq called “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” And it’s a really terrific book that people can get, if they want to go online or find some bookstore that has it. And what it really—you know, I was going to start with something from the book, and you can help me here. It was a quote from Graham Greene: “Innocence is a kind of insanity.” Graham Greene, the great writer, great novelist. And he wrote “The Quiet American,” which is about innocence as a form of [insanity], how we got involved in Vietnam. And your book is really an unmasking of the conceit of innocence. Somehow Americans go off to war, they’re always intending to do good, they’re always going to make it a better world. And generally, they screw it up horribly, with very few rare exceptions. And that’s really the thesis here, isn’t it? And so why don’t you give us that overall view. And are you bolder in that view now that you’re not active duty, that you’re out of the military for the first time in 18 years? How does it feel?

DS: It feels good. I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty, but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, you know, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But you know, the book was a labor of love. It started out as an essay, an angry essay that I wrote to Senator Lindsey Graham because I didn’t like something he said on C-SPAN, and it became a book. But you’re right that there are sort of the—the theme of innocence runs through it. And it’s two tracks; it’s my own innocence as someone who was, you know, naive enough to believe not only that the Iraq War might be valuable and necessary, but also that the military was just ultimately a force for good in the world. But the other innocence is a collective, national innocence. Only such a collective, national innocence that borders on insanity, as the quote says, could have allowed us to invade Iraq. Probably the catastrophic blunder of the 21st century, if not even larger than that. And I don’t even think we understand the scale of what a disaster we’ve created, because the aftershocks are–they’re sometimes worse than the initial earthquake. And we haven’t seen the last of it. So the book is an unmasking of my own innocence, which very quickly was rattled. By my third or fourth month in Iraq, I was anti-war. I mean, I was posting anti-war poems from World War I on the door to my room in Iraq, you know, provocatively. My little protest, you know, before I was told to pull them down. But you know, that’s what the book does. It tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.

RS: The day that Julian Assange was arrested, you know, in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and they hauled him out of there. And you know, he’s been charged, and the charge is conspiring to commit computer intrusion. And what they’re doing is basically getting him on something they think they can nail him on; they don’t want to, this is his helping Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, and be able to crack a computer code preventing entry into some data trove. But they didn’t—but at that moment in time, Bradley Manning had already released a million documents. They were fairly low-level secrecy; you can discuss that. But really, very revealing information, unquestionably, in my mind, that the public had a right to know, and a need—a need to know. Including how we shot up civilians, and so forth. And one reason why I wanted particularly to do this interview with you today is, you know, when people release these secrets, they’re always told they’re putting the troops in harm’s way. And you’re not, you’re dishonoring and threatening the troops. Well, you were a young lieutenant at that point, or had been a few years before. You were involved in the surge. And the documents that Chelsea Manning released really affected the kinds of activities you were in. You were in constant patrol in Baghdad, one end to the other, with your unit of what, 20 soldiers?

DS: Yeah, give or take, 20 soldiers.

RS: Half of whom ended up being killed or seriously injured, some of whom committed suicide. And I want to ask you, as the grunt on the ground—now, you were a lieutenant; you were a West Point graduate. You end up later in life teaching at West Point; you end up being a major before your retirement two months ago. But what did you think about that release of documents by Manning through WikiLeaks?

DS: You know, I had a very provocative view of it, in the sense that I thought it was a national service that he’d, you know, that he’d committed. My peers were horrified. They believed the myth that the troops were put in harm’s way by what he released, which was patently false. The people who were doing harm to the troops were the people who were lying, the people who were creating the secrecy. That’s what damaged the troops: the people that brought us to Iraq. One of the things that was most staggering for me was, in that million documents that then-Bradley Manning released, what there was was this evidence that we, the soldiers on the ground, knew that we were policing an internal, sectarian civil war. So in 2006 and ’07, dozens and sometimes hundreds of civilians would kill one another, right? Sunni versus Shia, in the middle of the night. And in the morning, we would gather the bodies and count them and report them. But that was all classified, at a low level; just secret, not top secret or anything. But at the same time that was going on, when we were using the words “civil war,” when we were witnessing a civil war, our leaders–General Casey, who was at the time the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and senior defense officials, Rumsfeld, et cetera—they were telling the press, no, it’s not a civil war. We won’t use the words “civil war.” And I think largely that’s because they did not want to admit to the chaos that had broken out, that we had lost control, if we ever had it. That we had patently, forever, lost control of Baghdad. And of, really, the whole country, but especially the capital city. And you know, I was offended by that lie, because I lived the civil war. You know, I lived the multipronged war, where they were both attacking us and attacking each other. And that the country was both literally and figuratively on fire in late 2006, and I was offended by the lie. And I thought it was a brave decision. And, of course, whistleblowers were out of fashion, as you said earlier today, Bob. And obviously, he was crucified–she–and was given a 30-year sentence. And my peers thought that was just about right. Some of them thought, you know, she should have been executed.

RS: “She” being Chelsea Manning. And Julian Assange published these documents. And Washington Post, The Guardian, the British paper, papers all over the world, printed them. And interestingly enough, Julian Assange is not in the position that Daniel Ellsberg was in when he released the Pentagon Papers, a trove of—a history study, really; you’re a historian, I should point out you’re about to get your doctorate. The military sent you to graduate school in preparation of being an instructor at West Point. And now you’re at the end of your dissertation, and will be doctor, Dr. Danny Sjursen, in a couple of months. And the really interesting thing here is who controls history, who controls knowledge, who controls truth and true news? And fake news is really, in a way, the norm, it seems to me, if we talk about Vietnam, we talk about Iraq, and so forth. And without the whistleblowers, we don’t even get a crack—a crack there where the light can come through. But you were on the ground, and when you talk about it being—I mean, look, after all, we had supposedly gone to Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction; that was a lie. And it was a lie that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11; he didn’t. You know, and another lie is that somehow this was a backward country with no redeeming virtue–well, we managed to make it a far more unlivable, miserable country than it had ever been. Why don’t you talk—you got an education there. And now you’re in this, even though you’re going to be Dr. Danny Sjursen, you hopefully will be successful as a writer about history and a professor. And you, you know, you’re honorably discharged as a major from the military. But you’re a deeply troubled person by what you saw and experienced. Why don’t you—I mean, tell us the consequence, not just for you, but also for the Iraqi people.

DS: You know, I got there with just a little bit of idealism left. I had read Thomas Ricks’ “Fiasco,” so I was aware of the failures early in the war. But I think, at the time, I was in the mainstream of military officers, in the sense that I thought the war was being fought poorly, but I did not necessarily think that the war was wrong in itself. And, of course, I quickly came to believe that it was. And the best way, Bob, to talk about it is, you know, what I saw happen to the Iraqi people. Because more, believe it or not, than what happened to my soldiers, that haunted me. Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis–not attacking us, as far as I knew, you know; talking to me, drinking chai with me, thousands of them. And they all started telling me—Sunni and Shia, OK, and Saddam had been pretty brutal to the Shia—but Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. And they would say, we like you just fine; you’re a nice guy. But we want you out of here. I mean, look what you’ve done. You know, this is why we can’t have nice things. I mean, they really thought we had destroyed their country. Because we had. We had. So for me, that was a big turning point, when I started to say, “Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.” We’ve brought disaster–to the tune, now, most estimates, half a million dead, right. Mostly civilians, in Iraq. Did we—you know, we didn’t directly kill all of them. But we unleashed the Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society. Men and women holding hands, drinking in cafes—that’s all over with now. People get their heads cut off for less. That really shocked me. And then, of course, there was the idealism of my soldiers, who, you know, they were just fighting for each other, as the cliché goes. But it’s true.

RS: A serious student of the course—are we not up against the incompatibility of empire and republic? We were founded as a republic. As a historian, you know, we began to betray that promise from the day of our founding, or even before, when we were striving to be an independent country. What about this tension? Where are we now in empire land? And isn’t, really, this what the whistleblowers have been revealing, the consequence of empire?

DS: There are precious few whistleblowers about military issues, as you mentioned. And that is a shame, because what Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Chelsea Manning should be is a splash of cold water, a bucket of cold water, on the face of the collective American people. And yet it’s not, for the most part. We’re willing to accept what our military does in our name. We’re willing to accept that the United States has a system where the president is essentially a dictator in foreign policy. You’re right that it’s the only institution where we do not, you know, expect whistleblowers to provide that check, that truth that you mentioned. And it’s very, very disturbing. The bottom line is, you know, from a historical perspective, to answer your question, we are—we are long, long down the road of this empire. I mean, absolutely, far down that road. The republic, the ostensible republic, is dying. And empires tend, not only does it not end well when the empire comes home—as it always does; the empire always comes home, Britain, Rome, you name it. These countries on the way out, on the decline, that’s when they act the most absurd. Things go really poorly. They do not behave well. And what you’re looking at today is a United States of America that is not behaving well in the world, because it is in, you know, the twilight of its empire. And it may take a long time before the empire collapses, but in the interim, we are going to act poorly. And as long as we have an all-volunteer force, as long as a, you know, a select half of a percent—the other 1%, as I like to call them. As long as we give it out to a military caste, and it doesn’t Main Street, especially in the wealthy communities, then this will continue indefinitely, and America will continue to behave badly, as the empires often historically do.

RS: In what sense are we an empire? Because some people think, “Oh, you’re just throwing around rhetoric.” Now, we do happen to live in a time when more people are open to the possibility that something has gone awry, because Donald Trump is president, and he has the aura of an emperor. And, you know, the whole notion of, his notion of American greatness is a notion of power over others, and being able to dictate and fire lesser people, and dictate the terms of agreements, and they’ll do this, they’ll pay for the wall, these Mexicans, and the Chinese will bow to our will, and et cetera, et cetera. So we actually have an [emperor], but most people blame that on Julian Assange, or many people do, or on WikiLeaks, or something. They don’t seem to want to come to grips with the idea that maybe, maybe Trump is the man for the time of empire. And this is what emperors do, and sometimes they’re a little bit wacky, and sometimes they’re a little bit out of control, or more so. In what sense are we—you’re a historian; in what sense is this accurate labeling?

DS: You know, we—we are an empire. And I’m going to explain why, and then I’m going to talk about Trump a little. I have a complex relationship with my old commander in chief, my old chum. You know, we have 800 military bases in 80 countries; on any given day, we are bombing at least seven countries, some days more, if there’s something going on in Africa. We have a defense budget as large as the next seven countries’ combined. We have, you know, the majority of the world’s aircraft carriers, 10 times more than the Russians and the Chinese. We have divided the planet into regional commands—CENTCOM, Northcom, Southcom—where our four-star generals in charge of these commands are essentially Roman proconsuls, right? Ruling over—and much more powerful than our diplomats. Our diplomats are not taken seriously anymore; it’s the military that gets the business done. And you know, finally, we are unique. We are exceptional. Exceptional in the sense that we are the most imperial of all the places on the planet. Because there are 77 total foreign bases split between all the other 200 countries of the world, and we have some 800. So yes, certainly, we’re are an empire, by any stretch of the imagination. Now, our people, ironically, like to think we’re not. But you’re right that people are becoming a little more open to that. Now, Trump is—I think you’re correct—the reason why people are starting to accept that we might be an empire. But I would argue that Trump is not such an anomaly. He is a man for his times. You know, the question you have to ask in America, when it comes to the popularity contest that we call the presidential election every four years—that entertaining bit, right, of the blue team and the red team–you have two choices. And you will always have two choices. And the choice in the two major parties is between, do you like coarse emperors? Do you want your empire to be coarse and absurd and a little bit buffoonish? Or do you like your empire and your emperors to be polite? Because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been polite emperors. But the reality is, if anything, Donald Trump questions the empire at times—doesn’t always follow through—more than a Barack Obama, more than a Hillary Clinton or a George W. Bush or a Bill Clinton, for that matter. I mean, the question is not whether we’re an empire; it’s how do you like your imperialism? And you have two choices. Well, “liberal,” in quotes, society prefers polite emperors. And so they try to get them elected, and they can’t accept that a coarse emperor, like Donald Trump, is currently in charge.

RS: Well, one of those polite emperors was Lyndon Johnson. In fact, most of the more aggressive emperors have been Democrats, but put that aside for a minute. And then you’re raising an interesting question: Is this debate really over manners? Because, after all, Lyndon Johnson—and then came Richard Nixon—but together, I think a conservative figure would be that 4 or 5 million people lost their lives. Maybe more, certainly whole societies were disrupted. Certainly Barack Obama, to take the most pleasant of our emperors, if we’re going to use that language, you know, every morning would decide who to fire a drone attack on. Maybe it’s a wedding, maybe it’s a family living somewhere. And you served, in your 18 years in the military, under mild-mannered emperors and under more aggressive and buffoonish emperors. What was the difference on the ground?

DS: There was almost none. Certainly under George W. Bush we pursued more conventional military means. So there were more soldiers on the ground; there were more tours, right. Because there was more people there, therefore you deployed slightly more often. But what we were doing—

RS: But not as much as under Lyndon Johnson.

DS: No, no. By no means as much as under Lyndon Johnson. And of course, in reality, what we were doing on the ground was precisely the same. I mean, we were bringing instability, and we were dealing death. Usually from above, with the polite people like, you know, Barack Obama. He preferred the, you know, that killing. And it’s a myth. I mean, the myth that this is somehow a controlled killing, it’s precision-guided—of course, it’s not, it never is, and it probably never will be. But the big answer to your question is, very little changed on the ground for those of us carrying water for the empire, whether we had George W. Bush or Barack Obama or even Donald Trump.

RS: Well, spell that out, because most of us are not on the ground. In my own situation as a journalist, I’ve been parachuted into a few war zones, and can sense the mayhem. And some of my colleagues stayed much longer; I’m not going to take that away from them. But still, we are voyeurs to violence. You were dealing violence, right? And you were receiving, on the receiving end of violence. You know, this is not a video game. Most of us accept war as a video game now. The [thing] about the drone attacks, we see somebody in Omaha killing somebody in Baghdad or someplace, and we assume they’re accurate, we assume they know what they’re doing. That’s what Barack Obama did, right? He approved every one of those. What’s the reality on the ground?

DS: The reality on the ground is much different. It’s much more brutal, it’s much more of what you’d expect of a conventional war. I’ll give you one really good example that I think demonstrates this. During the, quote, surge in Iraq of 2007, when we put all these extra soldiers on the ground, and we flooded the neighborhoods, and we lived among the Iraqis, and we fought every day, and we received and dealt violence—you know, that was a George W. Bush thing. And many of us, like myself, were naive enough to believe that when a Democrat won—and I liked Obama at the time—that it would change. That we would no longer think that we can fix these societies, and unzip the American inside every Arab, or inside every Afghan–that that would change. But it did not. Because Barack Obama applied that very same model to Afghanistan, and we had ourselves a surge there. This was the Obama surge. And the reality is, the figures leading these surges didn’t change at all. Because Petraeus was the commander of both surges, at least after Stanley McChrystal was fired. So it’s the same folks doing the same things, going on the same inane patrols, trying to secure or pacify or win the hearts and minds–you pick. But it usually means use violence in order to convert them to our way of life, or whatever we perceive to be our way of life. And unlock the American inside each of them. So no, it didn’t change very much at all. Barack Obama’s surge in Afghanistan was equally as brutal and equally as wasteful as George W. Bush’s. And if we are to have another surge, and it’s the favorite tool now of generals, you can be sure that under Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, if she had won, it’ll be largely the same.

RS: So you—we haven’t talked much about Afghanistan. Iraq made no sense whatsoever. But the argument somehow, because we—9/11 had been launched at least logistically from Afghanistan, the planes that flew into the World Trade Center—that that was defensible. And we have an image—in order to do all this, the mannered style requires, you know, that the enemy be defined as thoroughly loathsome. Another Hitler, in the case of Saddam Hussein; the analogies have to be there so there’s no possibility of negotiation. The irony in Afghanistan, where you spent quite a bit of time in a very dangerous situation, is we’re actually now—Donald Trump, amazingly, is accepting, negotiating with the Taliban. Something that could have been done, you know, weeks after 9/11. I mean, you know, who are these Taliban? What was the—how did they get there, how did fanaticism come to Afghanistan, which was not a center of Islamic fanaticism? Mostly paid for by Saudi Arabia; 15 of the hijackers were traveling on legal papers from Saudi Arabia. You know, so suddenly—wait a minute, we can talk to the Taliban? You had a lot of familiarity. What was Afghanistan all about?

DS: Well, Afghanistan is, you know, what Barack Obama called the “good” war. Remember, he was selling us the idea during the campaign in 2007 and ’08, that there’s a bad war—the stupid war, in Iraq—and then there’s the good war, the one that we have to win. The reality is any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute—and this only took weeks—the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system—the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost. And you’re right that it’s going to end—I promise you, it is going to end with a negotiated settlement, and the Taliban will still have their guns and will still be a force of essentially militiamen. And they might take over half the country, or maybe the whole thing. And you’re right that that could have, that negotiation could have been done from a position of more strength, mind you, in December of ’01, or in February of ’02. And we would have had the same thing. And you know, this happened in Vietnam as well; Richard Nixon prolongs the war for four or five years, and then he actually accepts terms that are about the same that were on offer from the North Vietnamese, you know, in January of 1969. Now, in the interim, I think the number, if I’m not mistaken, is 20,532 American soldiers died, more than a third of our casualties coming after it was no longer necessary, if it ever was. The same has happened in Afghanistan. In this case, 95 to 98% of the Americans who died, and an equal number of Afghans, who we often forget about, died after that moment when the war was no longer winnable. And the war will end with those same terms that would have been on offer, maybe even better terms would have been on offer when the Taliban had first been knocked out of power. And that’s the ultimate tragedy of this, is that everyone who died in the interim, that blood is very specifically on our hands.

RS: I want to end this on a point you may not agree with. But it’s I guess sort of the main, [Laughs] maybe the only significant—and I don’t know why I’m laughing, because I took some risks to learn this; I went to some dangerous areas. Not like you, for 18 years, but. And what came to me was an overwhelming sense of the stupidity of the very smart people who were in charge. Whether I was sitting at some high-ranking diplomat’s house; whether I was talking to a general who had also, not always had a Ph.D, but a good education. Basically, I was talking to people—Halberstam captured it with the title, “The Best and the Brightest”—who could present well. Again, manners; they weren’t buffoons, they were reasonable, and so forth. And yet, when I would have these conversations, it was informed by an idiocy, an unawareness. So, for example, in Vietnam, they would talk about the people, and I would say, “But the guy you put in power here–it wasn’t just ’69 they could have had peace.” They could have had peace with Ho Chi Minh after the Second World War, when he quoted the U.S. Declaration of Independence and was a nationalist who wanted—they could have had peace when he defeated the French. No! We picked a Roman Catholic from New York state, who was in a monastery in New York state, Vietnamese refugee, and we said he’s going to be the George Washington of his country. Ignoring the fact that the Catholics, who had been brought in by French colonial education, represented only 10% of the country. This is what Graham Greene wrote about. So, stupidity, you know. And then you look at the whole course of it, and a myth that somehow this is an extension of communism and China and—it wasn’t anything of the sort. We lose the war, and the Vietnamese communists and Chinese communists go to war with each other. OK? And now they’re going to war to fill the shelves of Costco or Walmart with different products. And something very similar happened in Iraq, happened in Afghanistan. It’s the same kind of, you know—we honor these leaders of our military as—and you taught at West Point. That’s why I’m putting the question to you. And you’re a very smart guy, you know, and yet, why don’t they learn from this? And my own explanation is because they’re not subject to a critical environment. And they’re not held accountable. And I’m bringing it back to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. When we get these documents, like the Pentagon Papers that Daniel Ellsberg released, we realize if they only read their own memos, if they only talked honestly to each other, they would know this. There wasn’t—everything they had to know was in the Pentagon Papers. Their own document. Right? And what we’ve learned from the WikiLeaks—if they would just have studied what Chelsea Manning, Bradley Manning released through Julian Assange, and just read those things—that were published in newspapers, Washington Post, The Guardian—they would have known, they would know how idiotic the whole enterprise is. So when you were brought back to West Point, and when you were sent by the Army to go get your doctorate, you’re an intelligent guy, you’ve paid your dues, they had you marked to be a general, you made it up to be a major. What happened when you tried to speak in reasonable terms to these fellow officers? And I know you just came from a conference a few weeks ago where there were some at least two-star generals, and important colonels. What is it like talking to them?

DS: You know, the best and the brightest have failed us again. And I’m glad that you used that term. The reality is that most of the general officers and most of the colonels are not in a critical environment; they’re not in an environment that, you know, wants dissent or wants critical thinking. I mean, they’re surrounded in a bubble by sycophants. I mean, that’s how they are raised up through the ranks in the Army; they don’t get a lot of criticism from above, below or laterally. It’s a very hierarchical structure. And it is stupidity. I mean, flat-out. The truncated nature of their thinking, I mean, it’s so narrow. And it is almost childish. I mean, their view of Islamism as the new communism, which is the new Nazism—I mean, that sort of thinking, it’s absolutely, it’s ludicrous. And yet it’s the, it’s the norm, right, it’s the consensus among the people that I served with, and among the policymakers, who are often worse, often more hawkish. You know, the “chicken hawks” like John Bolton. But they have failed you again, and they will fail you in the future. And there are very, very few critical-thinking officers who are able to get outside of that box and say, “The question isn’t are we doing this well, the question is should it be done at all—can it be done at all?” And if the answer is no, it’s time to speak up. And it’s time to give your military advice, and if necessary, resign.

RS: And, well, you’re no longer in the military. I don’t know where the next Danny Sjursen’s going to come from. But if you want to really have a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground in one of these wars that we treat as video games—and most of us, because we don’t have a draft, don’t really have to think about it, even though the country is being bankrupted by it. And we often commit genocide, war crimes and what have you. That’s what Julian Assange, for my money, revealed, and Bradley Manning. Check out the book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Because the surge is held up, and will be held up in Afghanistan and so forth, as the saving grace. And then people like Barack Obama were criticized because they didn’t have another surge, or didn’t do more killing on that level. And check it out. Danny Sjursen, I want to thank you for doing this. It’s—it’s just so, to me, so depressing that there’s like 15 truth-tellers that we’ve had about our wars, from Daniel Ellsberg up to Danny Sjursen. You got to ask yourself some tough questions about why we, the citizens of this modern Rome, with a great deal of freedom and a great deal of arrogance about our power as individuals, are letting the empire drag us into these disasters and ultimately destroy the republic. But that’s it for this edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” Our engineers at KCRW in Santa Monica are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore. Joshua Scheer is the producer of this show. And a special shout-out to Sebastian Grubaugh, the brilliant sound engineer here at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who holds this whole thing together. And you know, yes, we have General Petraeus on the faculty, but we also heard from [Major] Danny Sjursen, presenting a very different view than that of Petraeus. So let it go at that, see you next week.

Iran Calls For ‘Elimination’ Of Dollar To Stop US ‘Economic Terrorism’ 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that America’s economic influence would be eliminated if countries halt the use of dollars in their international transactions, reported Sputnik.

“America’s power rests on the dollar; a great part of America’s economic power will go away if countries eliminate the dollar from their economic systems,” Zarif said at a school even in Tehran.

President Trump has waged economic warfare on Iran ever since Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal). Washington has forced Iran’s trade partners, who use dollars, to halt trade with Iran.

“It amounts, by definition, to economic terrorism because the US is putting pressure in terms of what its president calls warfare on normal ordinary Iranians in order to change the policies of their government,” he told reporters.

Zarif isn’t the only senior official in the world who has spoken about to dollar’s demise; we reported last Wednseday that Russia and China are set to sign an agreement which would boost the use of their national currencies in bilateral and international trade, in an attempt to move away from the dollar.

“It is planned that Russia and China will be developing bilateral payments in national currencies, encourage and expand the use of national currencies, particularly through the promotion of their use when signing international trade contracts. According to the draft agreement, the sides will also assume the required measures to lift barriers for payments in national currencies. -TASS

De-dollarization efforts in Iran come against a new tranche of US sanctions on Tehran’s petrochemical sector, targeting Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company.

In response to worsening relations between Washington and Tehran, the US Navy’s USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike and bomber groups were deployed to the Gulf to send Iran a powerful message.

Iran has been preparing for de-dollarization for quite some time. Earlier this year, Iran announced that four of its banks had developed a gold-backed cryptocurrency called PayMon.

Iran is also escalating its de-dollarization effort by seeking a bilateral rial-yuan agreement with China.

The writing is on the wall for dollar hegemony: Iran is leading the charge, intending to eliminate the dollar from its trade, a move that could potentially lead to a shooting war with the Americans.

Trump’s North Korea Policy Should Be Encouraged, Not Undermined

Authored by Peter Huessy via The Gatestone Institute,

  • China is rarely called to task in Washington by US leaders for its role in proliferating nuclear-weapons programs in some of the world’s most notorious rogue states. Pressure is rarely placed on Beijing even by US arms-control groups.

  • The Chinese government made a deliberate choice in 1982 — in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 — to disperse nuclear-weapons technology to its allies in the Third World. Through the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network in Pakistan, China was able to help produce nuclear weapons in Pakistan and North Korea, and start nuclear programs of varying significance in Iran, Libya and Iraq, and later in Syria.

  • The Trump administration is doing more than its predecessors to meet the challenges and threats posed by North Korea, and therefore should be encouraged to continue the policy of employing a mixture of tough measures and diplomacy.

At a recent event on Capitol Hill — hosted by the Washington-based Mitchell Institute — the former China Country Director at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joe Bosco, defended U.S. President Donald Trump’s North Korea policy against critics who were accusing the White House either of leaning too far in the direction of diplomacy with Pyongyang, or too bent on imposing maximum economic and military pressure on it.

The criticism, according to Bosco, stems from two false narratives — emanating from Pyongyang and Beijing — which have been governing the debate.

The first is that North Korea is justified in having nuclear weapons, due to America’s long-standing “hostile policy” towards the regime in Pyongyang.

The second is that China has had virtually no role in the establishment of North Korea’s nuclear program — and that Beijing seeks “denuclearization” and “stability” on the Korean peninsula.

To grasp the absurdity of North Korea’s claim that its nuclear program is “defensive” in nature and created to counter American “hostility” — one need only ask why Pyongyang was party to the 1994 “Agreed Framework Between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and the 2003 Six-Party Talks.

China’s denial of having had anything to do with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is equally ridiculous.

In their 2009 book, The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation, co-authors Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman illustrate that the Chinese government made a deliberate choice in 1982 — in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 — to disperse nuclear-weapons technology to its allies in the Third World. Through the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network in Pakistan, China was able to help produce nuclear weapons in Pakistan and North Korea, and start nuclear programs of varying significance in Iran, Libya and Iraq, and later in Syria.

Nevertheless, China is rarely called to task by US leaders for its role in proliferating nuclear-weapons programs in some of the world’s most notorious rogue states. Pressure is rarely placed on Beijing even by US arms-control groups. They, one would assume, would be most upset with China’s proliferation policies and seek to get China to admit that its gambit in deploying nuclear weapons in North Korea was designed to fuel tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Ignoring China’s role is only one way in which Trump’s critics undermine his administration’s attempts at forging a successful policy to keep North Korea’s nuclear program in check.

Another, more important, way in which Trump’s detractors harm his ability to re-establish deterrence against Pyongyang is by denouncing any move by the White House or State Department. On the one hand, senior members of Congressroutinely accuse the administration of provoking a confrontation and risking war through economic sanctions, missile-defense deployments and tough rhetoric.

When, however, the administration scheduled a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and suspended certain joint military exercises to be held with South Korea, Trump was criticized by a former member of the National Security Council for achieving “virtually nothing.”

Yet the North Korean government did suspend tests of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles — and for the first time in nearly 25 years, a North Korean leader put a nuclear deal on the table.

This act, although far short of denuclearization, did eliminate the endless speculation of what the North Korean government would or would not do with its nuclear weapons, if left undeterred.

Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump meets for negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (Image source: Dan Scavino Jr./Wikimedia Commons)

What this means is that the Trump administration is doing more than its predecessors to meet the challenges and threats posed by North Korea, and therefore should be encouraged to continue the policy of employing a mixture of tough measures and diplomacy.

Mexico Refuses To Name International Figures Bankrolling Migrant Caravans

After freezing the bank accounts of 26 individuals and entities amid a probe into human trafficking, Mexico has refused to name the account owners – some of which appear to have originated in the US, UK, African nations and Central America, according to Breitbart

Mexico’s Finance and Tax Secretariat (SHCP) on Thursday announced that the 26 accounts had been seized. Diplomatic sources told Breitbart News that the probe is being personally overseen by UIF Director Santiago Nieto Castillo, who briefs Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador directly. 

The SHCP’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) tracked suspicious transactions beginning in October 2018 to determine the sources of funding for the caravans. The results reportedly pointed to some monies coming from the U.S., U.K., African nations, and throughout Central America. Diplomatic sources revealed the investigation is still developing since the case was prioritized Monday as tensions over tariffs escalated. –Breitbart

As part of Mexico’s crackdown to avoid US tariffs, Mexican authorities also arrested two caravan organizers reportedly tied to the US-based group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which helps migrants illegally cross into America. According to officials, the groups would demand money from some of the migrants. 

What’s more, law enforcement sources revealed to Breitbart that the UIF investigation found four sanctioned accounts linked to human smuggling groups that are loyal to Mexican drug cartels in border towns. Two of the accounts were linked to Piedras Negras, which is tied to the Cartel Del Noreste faction of the Los Zetas, as well as an independent smuggler in the area. The two other accounts are believed to be tied to Gulf Cartel operators based in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. 

Pepe Escobar: The Unipolar Moment Is Over

Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

The Russia-China strategic partnership, consolidated last week in Russia, has thrown U.S. elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, and they are now holding the whole world hostage…

Something extraordinary began with a short walk in St. Petersburg last Friday.

After a stroll, they took a boat on the Neva River, visited the legendary Aurora cruiser, and dropped in to examine the Renaissance masterpieces at the Hermitage. Cool, calm, collected, all the while it felt like they were mapping the ins and outs of a new, emerging, multipolar world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was Xi’s eighth trip to Russia since 2013, when he announced the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

First they met in Moscow, signing multiple deals. The most important is a bombshell: a commitment to develop bilateral trade and cross-border payments using the ruble and the yuan, bypassing the U.S. dollar.

Then Xi visited the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s premier business gathering, absolutely essential for anyone to understand the hyper-complex mechanisms inherent in the construction of Eurasian integration. I addressed some of SPIEF’s foremost discussions and round tables here.

In Moscow, Putin and Xi signed two joint statements – whose key concepts, crucially, are “comprehensive partnership”, “strategic interaction” and “global strategic stability.”

Xi and Putin cruising into a multipolar world: Aurora Cruiser Museum (Wikipedia)

In his St. Petersburg speech, Xi outlined the “comprehensive strategic partnership”. He stressed that China and Russia were both committed to green, low carbon sustainable development. He linked the expansion of BRI as “consistent with the UN agenda of sustainable development” and praised the interconnection of BRI projects with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). He emphasized how all that was consistent with Putin’s idea of a Great Eurasian Partnership. He praised the “synergetic effect” of BRI linked to South-South cooperation.

And crucially, Xi stressed that China “won’t seek development to the expense of environment”; China “will implement the Paris climate agreement”; and China is “ready to share 5G technology with all partners” on the way towards a pivotal change in the model of economic growth.

So what about Cold War 2.0?

It was obvious this was slowly brewing for the past five to six years. Now the deal is in the open. The Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is thriving; not as an allied treaty, but as a consistent road map towards Eurasia integration and the consolidation of the multipolar world.

Unipolarism – via its demonization matrix – had first accelerated Russia’s pivot to Asia. Now, the U.S.-driven trade war has facilitated the consolidation of Russia as China’s top strategic partner.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs better get ready to dismiss virtually everyday statementscoming, for instance, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, when he alleges that Moscow aims to use non-strategic nuclear weapons in the European theater. It’s part of a non-stop process – now in high gear – of manufacturing hysteria by frightening NATO allies with the Russian “threat.”

Moscow better get ready to dodge and counteract reams of reports such as the latest from the RAND corporation, which outlines – what else? – Cold War 2.0 against Russia.

In 2014, Russia did not react to sanctions imposed by Washington. Then, it would have sufficed to merely brandish the threat of default on $700 billion in external debt. That would have killed the sanctions.

Now, there’s ample debate inside Russian intelligence circles on what to do in case Moscow faces the prospect of being cut off the CHIPS-SWIFT financial clearing system. 

A 1936 map of Eurasia. (Flickr)

With few illusions about what may pass at the G20 in Osaka later this month, in terms of a breakthrough in U.S.-Russia relations, intel sources told me Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin is prepared to send a more “realistic” message— if push eventually comes to shove.

His message to the EU, in this case, would be to cut them off, and link with China for good. That way, Russian oil would be completely redirected from the EU to China, making the EU completely dependent on the Strait of Hormuz.

Beijing for its part seems to have finally absorbed that the current Trump administration offensive is not a mere trade war, but a full fledged attack on its economic miracle, including a concerted drive to cut China off from large swathes of the world economy.

The war on Huawei – the Rosebud of China’s 5G supremacy – has been identified as an attack on thedragon’s head. The attack on Huawei means an attack not only on tech, mega-hub Shenzhen, but the whole Pearl River Delta: a $3 trillion yuan ecosystem, which supplies the nuts and bolts of the Chinese supply chain for high-tech manufacturers.

Enter the Golden Ring

Neither China’s technological rise, nor Russia’s unmatched hypersonic know-how have caused America’s structural malaise. If there are answers they should come from the Exceptionalist elites.

The problem for the U.S. is the emergence of a formidable peer competitor in Eurasia – and worse still, a strategic partnership. It has thrown these elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, which is holding the whole world hostage.

By contrast, the concept of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers has been floated, by which Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China might provide a “stability belt” along the South Asia Rimland.

I have discussed variations of this idea with Russian, Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish analysts – but it sounds like wishful thinking. Admittedly all these nations would welcome establishing the Golden Ring; but no one knows which way Modi’s India would lean – intoxicated as it is with dreams of Big Power status as the crux of America’s “Indo-Pacific” concoction.

It might be more realistic to assume that if Washington does not go to war with Iran – because Pentagon gaming has established this would be a nightmare – all options are on the table ranging from the South China Sea to the larger Indo-Pacific.

The Deep State will not flinch to unleash concentric havoc on the periphery of both Russia and China and then try to advance to destabilize the heartland from the inside. The Russia-China strategic partnership has generated a sore wound: it hurts – so bad – to be a Eurasia outsider.

DOJ Targets ‘NGOs And Individuals’ In Spy Agency Abuse Probe

The Justice Department revealed on Monday that it is investigating several “non-governmental organizations and individuals” in its “multifaceted” and “broad” probe into alleged misconduct by US intelligence agencies surrounding the 2016 US election, according to a DOJ letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

The letter was in response to Nadler’s request as to the scope of the investigation, led by Connecticut US Attorney John Durham. 

According to Fox NewsDurham is looking into whether “foreign intelligence services” played a role. Of note, the highly controversial “Steele Dossier” – created by an ex-British spy for employer Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign an the DNC was referred to as “crown material” in emails unearthed last month.

And while the letter doesn’t name specific individuals, foreign intel services or non-governmental organizations, the prime suspects here would be Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS, Stephan Halper, “Azra Turk,” Alexander Downer, Joseph Mifsud, along with UK and Australian intelligence services. 

Last week, reports indicated Steele had agreed to talk with Durham if certain preconditions were met. Multiple sources familiar with the matter told Fox News, meanwhile, that Durham is “very dialed in” and “asking all the right questions.” Separately, sources within the Justice Department confirmed to Fox News that Barr has met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” with Durham in Washington, D.C.

Numerous problems with the Steele dossier’s reliability have surfaced, including several issues that were brought to the FBI’s attention before it cited the dossier in its FISA application and subsequent renewals. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report made plain, for example, that then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen did not travel to Prague to conspire with Russian hackers seeking to access Democrat files, as the dossier alleged. –Fox News

They knew…

On Sunday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Fox News that he had seen “additional documents” which reveal that “prior to the first FISA application, Peter Strzok, Andy McCabe, and others at the FBI knew that Christopher Steele’s dossier was not credible.” 

Meadows, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” pointed specifically to a report from The Hill’s John Solomon, who found that Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, a key figure in Mueller’s report, was actually a U.S. informant. In his report, Mueller linked Kilimnik to Russian intelligence, and did not mention Kilimnik’s secretive ties to the U.S. in the report other court filings — even as Mueller suggested former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to Kilimnik were nefarious. –Fox News

“The deeper the dive we take into the Mueller report, we’re starting to find out some of the conclusions, and actually some of the facts they put forth in there, are a misrepresentation of what we actually know,” said Meadows. 

Tulsi Gabbard Pushes No War Agenda… And The Media Is Out To Kill Her Chances

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Voters looking ahead to 2020 are being bombarded with soundbites from the twenty plus Democratic would-be candidates. That Joe Biden is apparently leading the pack according to opinion polls should come as no surprise as he stands for nothing apart from being the Establishment favorite who will tirelessly work to support the status quo.

The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.

Tulsi’s own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged “focus on the issue of war and peace” to “end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.” She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.

In a recent interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Gabbard doubled down on her anti-war credentials, telling the host that war with Iran would be “devastating,adding that:

“I know where this path leads us and I’m concerned because the American people don’t seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be…

So, what we are facing is, essentially, a war that has no frontlines, total chaos, engulfs the whole region, is not contained within Iran or Iraq but would extend to Syria and Lebanon and Israel across the region, setting us up in a situation where, in Iraq, we lost over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniform. A war with Iran would take far more American lives, it would cost more civilian lives across the region…

Not to speak of the fact that this would cost trillions of taxpayer dollars coming out of our pockets to go and pay for this endless war that begs the question as a soldier, what are we fighting for? What does victory look like? What is the mission?”

Gabbard, and also Carlson, did not hesitate to name names among those pushing for war, one of which begins with B-O-L-T-O-N. She then asked “How does a war with Iran serve the best interest of the American people of the United States? And the fact is it does not,” Gabbard said. “It better serves the interest of people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia who are trying to push us into this war with Iran.”

Clearly not afraid to challenge the full gamut establishment politics, Tulsi Gabbard had previously called for an end to the “illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” also observing that “the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.” She then backed up her words with action by secretly arranging for a personal trip to Damascus in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was important to meet adversaries “if you are serious about pursuing peace.” She made her own assessment of the situation in Syria and now favors pulling US troops out of the country as well as ending American interventions for “regime change” in the region.

In 2015, Gabbard supported President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and in 2016 she backed Bernie Sanders’ antiwar candidacy. More recently, she has criticized President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza, a very bold step indeed given the power of the Israel Lobby.

Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years, and that is why the war party is out to get her. Two weeks ago, the Daily Beast displayed a headline:

“Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.”

The article also had a sub-headline: “The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood.”

The obvious smear job was picked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, television’s best known Hillary Clinton clone, who brought it up in an interview with Gabbard shortly thereafter. He asked whether Gabbard was “softer” on Putin than were some of the other candidates. Gabbard answered: “It’s unfortunate that you’re citing that article, George, because it’s a whole lot of fake news.” Politico the reported the exchange and wrote: “’Fake news’ is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump…,” putting the ball back in Tulsi’s court rather than criticizing Stephanopoulos’s pointless question. Soon thereafter CNN produced its own version of Tulsi the Russophile, observing that Gabbard was using a Trump expression to “attack the credibility of negative coverage.”

Tulsi responded “Stephanopoulos shamelessly implied that because I oppose going to war with Russia, I’m not a loyal American, but a Putin puppet. It just shows what absurd lengths warmongers in the media will go, to try to destroy the reputation of anyone who dares oppose their warmongering.”

Tulsi Gabbard had attracted other enemies prior to the Stephanopoulos attack. Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept described how NBC news published a widely distributed story on February 1st, claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.”

But the expert cited by NBC turned out to be a firm New Knowledge, which was exposed by no less than The New York Times for falsifying Russian troll accounts for the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to suggest that the Kremlin was interfering in that election. According to Greenwald, the group ultimately behind this attack on Gabbard is The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which sponsors a tool called Hamilton 68, a news “intelligence net checker” that claims to track Russian efforts to disseminate disinformation. The ASD websiteadvises that “Securing Democracy is a Global Necessity.”

ASD was set up in 2017 by the usual neocon crowd with funding from The Atlanticist and anti-Russian German Marshall Fund. It is loaded with a full complement of Zionists and interventionists/globalists, to include Michael Chertoff, Michael McFaul, Michael Morell, Kori Schake and Bill Kristol. It claims, innocently, to be a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group that seeks to identify and counter efforts by Russia to undermine democracies in the United States and Europe but it is actually itself a major source of disinformation.

No doubt stories headlined “Tulsi Gabbard Communist Stooge” are in the works somewhere in the mainstream media. The Establishment politicians and their media component have difficulty in understanding just how much they are despised for their mendacity and unwillingness to support policies that would truly benefit the American people but they are well able to dominate press coverage. Given the flood of contrived negativity towards her campaign, it is not clear if Tulsi Gabbard will ever be able to get her message across.

But, for the moment, she seems to be the “real thing,” a genuine anti-war candidate who is determined to run on that platform. It might just resonate with the majority of Americans who have grown tired of perpetual warfare to “spread democracy” and other related frauds perpetrated by the band of oligarchs and traitors that run the United States.