All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

Iraq Déjà Vu with Iran

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Given US National-Security Advisor John Bolton’s war-provoking antics with Iran, I’m getting that déjà vu feeling with how President George W. Bush and his team of interventionists took the US to war with Iraq.

Of course, the first question that naturally arises is: Who’s the real acting president, Donald Trump or John Bolton? The Washington Post reports that Trump is lamenting that Bolton wants to get him “into a war.” So, who’s in charge — Bolton or Trump?

The second question that arises is whether Bolton will succeed in achieving a war with Iran, either by provoking an Iranian attack on “US interests” or by just concocting an attack, which would then enable him to exclaim, “We have been attacked! We are innocent! We had no idea that this was going to happen! We are peaceful regime! We are a force for good in the world! Unfortunately, we now need to carpet-bomb Iran to defend ourselves.”

After all, isn’t that what happened with Iraq, a country whose government never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so? Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people killed, tortured, maimed, or injured. Countless homes, businesses, industries, roads, and bridges bombed and destroyed. A brutal and ruthless multi-year military occupation to protect a crooked, corrupt, and tyrannical puppet regime, all billed under the false label “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” All of which gave rise to ISIS, which then became a new official enemy with which to scare the American people and embark on a new imperialist adventure. And all against a country whose government never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.

When the reports began coming out about the torture and sex abuse conducted by US forces in Abu Ghraib prison, I read an account of one Iraqi man who exclaimed during his torture words to the following effect: “Sir, why are you doing this to me? Sir, please stop.”

The first thing that hit me was his use of the word “Sir” to his US torturers. It was a sign of respect for US officials. The second thing that hit me was the genuine sincerity in asking the question. The man really didn’t know why he was being tortured and abused. Neither he nor his government had ever attacked the United States. Why torture or abuse a person who hasn’t done anything against you? That’s why he wanted to know why US officials, who he obviously respected by his use of the word “Sir,” were doing that to him.

Of course, US officials still maintain, with straight faces, that the invasion was just a honest mistake. The idea is that public officials, like everyone else, make mistakes and that this was one of those instances. They say that President Bush and his minions really believed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” and that that was the reason they invaded. It was just an honest mistake, they say.

But then how does that explain the brutal and ruthless multi-year occupation of the country, an occupation that continued killing, injuring, torturing, and destroying people whose government had never attacked the United States? When a mistake is made, the natural thing to do is so acknowledge the mistake and apologize for it. If Bush and his cohorts had really just made a mistake, they would have said they were sorry and immediately brought all US troops home. They didn’t do that. They kept them there, knowing that there were bringing ever more death, maiming, torture, and destruction to people who had never attacked the United States–and for several years after the initial invasion!

It’s also important to place the Iraq invasion into context. Faced with the loss of the Soviet Union as an official enemy of the United States with the end of the Cold War, in the 1990s Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, converted Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, into America’s new official enemy as part of the Persian Gulf intervention. Easily defeating Saddam’s Third World War army, Bush decided not to send US forces to Baghdad in a regime-change operation, which left Saddam in power.

That enabled US officials to use Saddam as their new official enemy throughout the decade of the 1990s. Saddam became a national obsession. For some 10 years, interventionists constantly lamented that Bush Sr. had not gone all the way and removed Saddam from power. That’s what the brutal sanctions on Iraq were all about, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children. Their purpose was to squeeze the Iraqi people to death in the hopes of regime-changing Iraq.

By the time the 9/11 attacks came in retaliation for what the US government was doing in Iraq and the Middle East, it was clear that the deadly sanctions were not going to succeed in achieving regime change. But what the attacks did accomplish was to instill deep fear in the American people that Bush Jr. and his regime-change cohorts knew they could use to their advantage. They knew that Americans would automatically, without any questions, believe and trust whatever Bush and his cohorts said once they conjured up an image of “mushroom clouds” over US cities.

That’s when Bush and his fellow interventionists decided to abandon sanctions as a way to oust Saddam and instead use the more direct route of a regime-change invasion. Since Saddam refused to provide them with an attack on “US interests” in the Middle East, they simply concocted the WMD scare to justify their invasion of Iraq. Countless Americans supported the invasion based on the notion that Bush must have had access to information that he was not permitted to share with the American people.

Through it all, Bush also claimed that his invasion was also simply designed to enforce UN resolutions against Saddam’s supposed possession of WMDs. Never mind that only the UN can enforce UN resolutions and that the UN opposed Bush’s invasion. And never mind that reliance on that alternative rationale for invading obviously weakens the “Saddam is about to attack us” rationale for invading.

Why were Bush and his people so convinced they would “find” WMDs? Because they had the receipts for them! It was the US and other Western allies of Saddam who had furnished him with the WMDs in the first place, to enable him to use them to kill Iranians in his war of aggression against Iran in the 1990s.

Which brings us full circle back to Iran, where John Bolton is pulling another Iraq with his war-provoking antics against Iran. If he is successful, the same massive death and suffering that the US government unleashed on the Iraqi people will be unleashed on the Iranian people. Did I mention that Bolton served in both the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations? Déjà vu indeed.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The World’s Dictatress

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In his Fourth of July address to Congress in 1821, US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams stated that if America were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of non-interventionism, she would inevitably become the world’s “dictatress” and begin behaving accordingly.

No can can deny that Adams’ prediction has come true. America has truly become the world’s dictatress — an arrogant, ruthless, brutal dictatress that brooks no dissent from anyone in the world.

Now, I use the term “America” because that’s the term Adams used. In actuality, however, it’s not America that has become the world’s dictatress. It is the US government that has become the world’s dictatress.

A good example of this phenomenon involves Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen who serves as chief financial officer of the giant Chinese technology firm Huawei. Having been arrested by Canadian authorities and placed under house arrest, Meng is suffering the wrath of the world’s dictatress.

What is her purported crime? That she violated US sanctions against Iran.

What do US sanctions on Iran have to do with her? Exactly! She’s a Chinese citizen, not an American citizen. So, why is she being prosecuted by the US government?

Sanctions have become a standard tool of US foreign policy. With the exception of libertarians, hardly anyone raises an eyebrow over their imposition and enforcement. Their objective is to target foreign citizens with death, suffering, and economic privation as a way to bend their regime to the will of the US dictratress and her brutal and ruthless agents.

After all, what could be more brutal and ruthless than to target innocent people with death and impoverishment as a way to get to their government? Most foreign citizens have as little control over the actions of their government as individual American citizens have over the actions of their government. Where is the morality in targeting innocent people, especially as a way to achieve a political goal? Isn’t that why people condemn terrorism?

It’s bad enough to target innocent foreign citizens with death and impoverishment to achieve a political goal. But it’s also important to keep in mind that sanctions are an attack on the economic liberty of the American people. Sanctions impose criminal penalties on US citizens who trade with Iranians. If an American trades with Iranians, the dictatress goes after him with a vengeance, either with criminal prosecution or civil fines or both.

A good example of this phenomenon took place when the dictatress was enforcing its system of sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s. The sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. That’s didn’t bother the dictatress, at least not enough to bring an end to the sanctions. The idea was that if a sufficiently large number of children could be killed, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein would abdicate in favor of a US-approved dictator, or that there would be a coup or a violent revolution that would accomplish the same thing. US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright expressed the official view of the dictatress when she announced that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

An American citizen named Bert Sacks, who was stricken by a crisis of conscience, traveled to Iraq with medicines to help out the Iraqi people. The dictatress went after him with a vengeance, hitting him with a fine and then pursuing its collection for around a decade. See here and here.)

That is bad enough. But here is where Adams’ point comes into play. The federal government is not satisfied with just requiring its own citizens to comply with its evil system. In its role as worldwide dictatress, the federal government requires everyone in the world to comply with its evil system. The dictatress claims worldwide jurisdiction for its evil system of sanctions.

That’s why Meng Wanzhou was arrested and placed under house arrest in Canada. Yes, Canada! She wasn’t even in the United States when she was arrested. The dictatress announced that she had violated its Iran sanctions in some dealings that she supposedly had with some bank located thousands of miles away from American shores.The dictatress then prevailed on Canada to arrest her while she was in that country so that she could be extradited to the United States to stand trial for her purported violation of US sanctions on Iran.

Why are innocent foreign citizens be targeted for death and economic suffering simply because US officials don’t like their government? Why are American citizens have their freedoms destroyed for the same reason? And why are foreign citizens around the world be targeted with criminal prosecution for violating the federal government’s evil system of sanctions?

It’s all because of what John Quincy Adams observed almost 200 years ago: If the United States were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of non-interventionism, the federal government would inevitably become the world’s dictatress, and a brutal, ruthless one at that.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Democrats Don’t Get It on the Drug War

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After decades of working with Republicans to destroy people with their much-vaunted war on drugs, some Democrats are now coming out in favor of legalizing marijuana. Their change of position is a testament to the power of the shifting winds of public opinion. When the winds shift, so do the positions of many political types.

Unfortunately, however, such Democrats continue to support the drug war with respect to other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and opioids. When it comes to freedom, Democrats, like Republicans, just don’t get it.

In a genuinely free society, people have the fundamental, natural, God-given right to ingest whatever they want, no matter how harmful, destructive, or dangerous the substance they are ingesting. If people are punished for ingesting non-approved substances in the privacy of their own homes, there is no way that that society can be considered a genuinely free society. It is not a coincidence that there are drug laws in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Egypt, Myanmar, and other totalitarian or authoritarian regimes.

Moreover, there is the utilitarian case against the drug war. Despite decades of warfare, it hasn’t achieved its purported end — the elimination or drastic reduction in drug consumption. Think of all the people, drug cartels, drug gangs, and drug dealers that have been busted in the last 40 years. And then think about the level of drug consumption today. The drug war has accomplished nothing.

If the consequences of this government program were neutral, that would be bad enough. But they’re not. The consequences have been horrific. The drug war has given rise to violent drug cartels and drug gangs and to violent turf battles, assassinations of government officials and reporters, robberies, muggings, thefts, and governmental corruption, especially in the form of bribes. It has torn apart the fabric of society, not only here in the United States but also in Latin America and elsewhere.

There has also been the collateral attacks on the freedom and privacy of the American people. No-knock violent, terrifying drug raids in which both citizens and the police have been killed. Secret surveillance of the citizenry. Corrupt plea bargains that bribe drug-law violators into becoming snitches, which then jeopardizes their lives. Asset-forfeiture laws that enable the police and the DEA to steal money, cars, and other assets from people without notice and hearing. Warrantless searches and secret surveillance.

And then there is the racial bigotry. The drug war has enabled bigoted cops to harass and abuse African-Americans to their hearts content—and it’s all legal. In fact, the drug war has become the most racially bigoted government program since segregation, perhaps more so. Under segregation, Democrats and Republicans at least permitted blacks to continue living in the community, albeit in segregated areas. With the drug war, Democrats and Republicans have been able to remove large numbers of blacks from communities and relocate them in places called federal penitentiaries.

The only ones who are left benefitting from this evil, immoral, destructive, and racially bigoted war are the people making money and gaining power from it — like judges, prosecutors, court clerks, law-enforcement officials, the DEA, politicians, and, of course, the drug gangs and drug cartels, which would be immediately put out of business with drug legalization.

How do we get Democrats to go all the way and legalize all drugs? Keep the winds of public opinion shifting toward drug legalization. That’s also the way to get Republicans moving in the same direction.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

US Hypocrisy on Venezuela

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Like other US regime-change operations, the current one against the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is rife with hypocrisy. After all, what is the main complaint that President Trump and other US officials have against Maduro? It is that he is a socialist whose socialist programs and policies have brought misery and suffering to the Venezuelan people. Thus, by initiating a regime-change operation against Maduro, US officials are portraying themselves as good-hearted, compassionate conservatives who are just trying to help the Venezuelan people.

One big problem with this position, however, is that President Trump and his interventionist cohorts, including such Cold War dead-ender advisers as John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo, are socialists too and embrace socialism here in the United States. For example, like all other Republicans and Democrats, they support Social Security, Medicare, public (i.e., government) schooling, farm subsidies, and other welfare-state programs, all of which are core elements of Maduro’s socialist system in Venezuela. For that matter, they are also core features of the socialist system in Cuba, where Trump and his Cold War dinosauric advisers are still obsessed with bringing regime change, notwithstanding more than half-a-century of failure.

Another big problem is that Trump and his national-security state regime-changers actually love communists, at least those who are deferential to them. Example: The brutal communist dictator of North Korea, with whom Trump fell in love on first sight. Another example: Vietnam, which is ruled by a brutal communist regime. That’s where Trump chose to have his most recent encounter with the North Korean communist dictator with whom he is now so enamored. Vietnam has also been embraced by the Pentagon, notwithstanding the fact that Vietnam’s communist regime killed more than 58,000 American men during the Vietnam War.

A third big problem is that Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA have knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally added to the misery and suffering of the Venezuelan people with economic sanctions. In fact, the very idea of sanctions is to target the citizenry of a country with death and impoverishment in the hope that this will encourage the citizenry to revolt, or that it will encourage the Venezuelan military to effect a coup, or that it will encourage Maduro to abdicate.

The fact is that, like with previous regime-change operations, US officials couldn’t care less about the well-being of the Venezuelan people. All they care about is ousting Maduro and replacing him with a pro-US regime, preferably a military one, one that will bring “order and stability” to the country. If Venezuelan citizens have to be sacrificed to achieve that goal, so be it. The mindset is that the survivors will be better off for it. That’s why US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright stated that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions the US government enforced against Iraq in the 1990s were “worth it.” In other words, no price is too high to pay in terms of the lives of foreign citizens to achieve regime change.

What is the real beef that Trump, the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the Cold War dead-enders have against Maduro? It is that he, like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, is independent of the US worldwide military-intelligence empire. He refuses to take orders from Trump, the Pentagon, or the CIA. He doesn’t defer to them and do what they want. He doesn’t bend the knee to them. In fact, like Chavez, Maduro isn’t reluctant to criticize the US national-security establishment and its police of foreign interventionism, something that sends US officials into a rage.

Of course, that is also why they hated Cuban leader Fidel Castro. No, not because Castro was a communist or a socialist or because they loved the Cuban people but because Castro stood up against the United States and declared Cuba’s independence from US control. That’s why they went after him. That’s why they targeted him for assassination.

In his Fourth of July speech to Congress in 1821, John Quincy Adams stated that if America were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of non-interventionism, the US government would begin behaving as a worldwide dictator. The US government’s regime-change operation against Venezuela is just the most recent confirmation of how astute Adams was.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Deadly and Destructive Futility of the Drug War

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Ever since President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs in the 1970s, advocates of this government program, both conservative and liberal, have argued that the only reason why the U.S. government has failed to win the drug war is that government officials have failed to fight it sufficiently hard. If U.S. officials would really crack down, the argument goes, the decades-long war could finally — finally! — be declared over and done with.

In their unwavering support of this failed government program, however, what these people fail to consider is that as U.S. officials have met with increasing failure to win their drug war over the decades, they have cracked down ever more in the hope that they could finally win it.

That’s what mandatory-minimum sentences were all about. Send enough drug users and drug dealers to jail for 10-20-30 years to serve as examples, and everyone else would immediately stop consuming or distributing drugs.

It didn’t work.

That’s what asset-forfeiture laws were all about. If the cops were free to seize money from people without charging them with a crime, drug dealers would stop selling drugs for fear of having their money taken away from them.

It didn’t work.

U.S. officials went beyond U.S. borders and cracked down fiercely on drug cartels in Latin America and even extradited Latin American drug lords to the United States. Breaking up a drug cartel and sending its leaders to U.S. jails for the rest of their lives would mean that no one else would dare start another drug cartel.

It didn’t work.

They persuaded Mexico and other Latin American countries to deploy their militaries and the U.S. military against drug gangs. With the military serving as police, no one would dare to violate drug laws.

It didn’t work.

None of it has worked. Nonetheless, drug warriors continue to argue, “If only they would really crack down, then we could finally declare victory in the war on drugs and bring this federal program to an end.”

That’s why Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has become a hero for U.S. drug warriors. Although Duterte denies it, the evidence is overwhelmingly that after he took office in 2016, Philippine cops began shooting suspected drug-law violators, both consumers and dealers, on sight. The number of extrajudicial killings are estimated to be in the thousands.

No trials. No pesky criminal-defense lawyers. No search warrants. No arrest warrants. No indictments. No due process of law. Just shoot them on sight.

It’s hard to conjure up a better way to crack down in the war on drugs than that!

Yesterday, the Manila Times reported, “President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that his administration’s drug war “failed” and was actually ‘worsening.’”

So, how much more “cracking down” do drug warriors now want to do here in the United States? Even higher mandatory minimum sentences? More asset-forfeiture stealing? Deploy the military? Shoot drug users and drug dealers on sight? Maybe a total police state, like in China?

Even if it worked, is the destruction of liberty worth it? This immoral, deadly, destructive, and failed government program has gone on long enough. The only moral, just, humane, and practical solution is to end the drug war by legalizing drugs, all of them.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Conscription Is Slavery

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Last month a federal judge in Texas declared the all-male military draft to be unconstitutional because it applies only to men and not also to women. The decision flies in the face of a decision by the Supreme Court in 1981 that upheld the constitutionality of the draft-registration process. Back then, however, women were not permitted to serve in combat roles, which was the justification for the Court’s ruling. Today, women are permitted to serve in combat roles, a point cited by that Texas federal judge.

While the controversy might seem academic given that we haven’t had conscription for several decades, that could change on a moment’s notice. Given the propensity of US officials, from the president down, to embroil the United States in foreign wars, lots of fathers and mothers might suddenly be shocked to see their daughters suddenly being hauled off to boot camp and then to war, where they would face the possibility of being shot, bombed, killed, injured, maimed, or raped. Lots of young women might also be shocked.

Yes, I know America has a volunteer army. And yes, I know that it has proven sufficient to fight America’s forever foreign wars for the past several decades. But the fact is that all that could change overnight if US officials were to embroil the United States in a war that the volunteer army couldn’t handle on its own. In that case, the Pentagon and the CIA would not hesitate to advise the president to immediately initiate the draft.

After all, that’s the point of draft registration. When a male reaches the age of 18, he is required by law to register for the draft. With draft registration, the Pentagon has a ready list of people to conscript at a moment’s notice, should the necessity arise.

What happens if a young man refuses to register for the draft? He is criminally prosecuted, convicted, fined, and sentenced to jail. There is nothing voluntary about draft registration.

Questions naturally arise. Does that District Court’s order mean that young men no longer have to register for the draft? I could be wrong but it sure seems to me that reliance on a US District Judge’s judicial decision might be a legitimate defense in a criminal prosecution for refusing to register. To obviate that possibility, the Pentagon and the CIA will almost certainly advise the Justice Department to appeal the ruling. Or will draft registration — and, by implication, the draft — now be extended to women to make it constitutional? Or is it possible that draft registration will be ended entirely?

For anyone concerned about the principles of freedom, there is only one right answer: End the draft itself and never implement it again. A permanent ban on conscription is the ideal insofar as freedom is concerned.

After all, we call it by that fancy word “conscription” or even by the less fancy term “the draft,” but the fact is that it’s really nothing more than slavery. The state orders a person to leave his life and report to a military installation, where he is required to serve the state, specifically the military, and obey its orders. The draftee has no effective choice. If he refuses, he goes to jail.

That’s the very essence of slavery. A slave is required to serve another person or another entity. He has no effective choice. If he refuses, he is severely punished.

There is no way to reconcile conscription with the principles of a free society. The big problem, of course, is that Americans have been born and raised under this system and, equally important, have been taught that they are living in a free society. Therefore, most Americans (libertarians excepted, of course) are not able to recognize that it’s the exact opposite — that everyone is living in an unfree society, one in which everyone within a certain age group can be enslaved on a moment’s notice and be forced to kill or be killed in one of the national-security establishment’s foreign wars. Ironically, with conscription freedom is destroyed in the name of protecting “freedom” or “national security” in some faraway land.

Statists say that sometimes conscription us necessary to win a war and, therefore, that there’s nothing wrong with enslaving people temporarily for the greater good of the nation.

But when people have to be forced to fight in a particular war, that’s a good sign that the government shouldn’t be waging that war. When a genuinely free people are invaded by a foreign army, most of the citizenry are going to fight to preserve their freedom and well-being. A free people don’t need to be forced to fight.

But when a regime embroils the nation in a faraway war, the situation changes. Suddenly, people say to themselves: That conflict doesn’t involve me, my family, or my nation. I’m staying out of it. That’s when the state resorts to conscription — to force people to fight in those faraway lands and to kill or be killed.

That’s why American men had to be enslaved to fight in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War I, and World War II. Not enough American men were willing to volunteer to fight in those foreign wars. It wasn’t worth it to them. So, US officials forced them to do so through conscription.

Maybe the solution is to reenact the Thirteenth Amendment in a modified form, as follows:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. And this time we mean it.
Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Understanding Why Iranians Bash the US Government

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Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the US,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the US government, and, two, while the US government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

First things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the US,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the US government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the US government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the US government. And when one considers what the US government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the US government.

In 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh, but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that US officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the US national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Upon ousting Mossadegh from power, the CIA made the Shah of Iran its supreme dictator in Iran. He turned out to be one of the most cruel and brutal tyrants in the world, with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the US national-security establishment. In fact, the CIA helped organize and train the Shah’s tyrannical enforcement agency, the SAVAK, which was a combination Gestapo, KGB, Pentagon, NSA, and CIA.

For the next 25 years, the Shah and the CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK ruled Iran with a brutal and oppressive iron fist. Indefinite detention, brutal torture, kangaroo trials, and executions were hallmarks of the Shah’s regime. Of course, from the standpoint of the US government, the Shah was a kind and friendly ruler, one who was a loyal partner and ally of the US government. From the standpoint of US officials, the Shah and his SAVAK were just displaying the “law and order” mentality within the country that characterized all US-supported foreign dictators.

In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of the Shah’s, the SAVAK’s, and the CIA’s brutal tyranny and oppression. That’s when they decided to revolt, violently. If their revolution had failed, there would have been a horrific backlash involving mass arrests, incarceration, torture, kangaroo trials, and executions at the hands of the Shah and his CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK.

But the revolution succeeded, much to the chagrin of US officials, who have never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting the CIA’s man from power. Unfortunately, however, the Iranian people were unable to restore the democratic experiment that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. Iranians ended up with another brutal dictatorship, this one a religious theocracy.

Ever since the Iranian revolution, US officials have never ceased their efforts to effect another regime change in Iran, one that would bring another pro-US dictator into power, one who would be permitted to wield totalitarian power over the Iranian people in return for loyal support of the US Empire in foreign affairs.

That’s what the US sanctions against Iran are all about. The sanctions target the Iranian people with impoverishment, suffering, and even death in the hopes that they will initiate a violent revolution against their government or, alternatively, in the hope of bringing a collapse of the Iranian government, or, alternatively, in the hope of inciting a pro-US coup within the regime, or, alternatively, in the hope of provoking a regime-change war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian people are obviously the pawns in this process. Like with other US regime-change operations (e.g., Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.), no amount of death, suffering, and impoverishment among the Iranian people is considered too high. When asked in 1996 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children (yes, children!) from the US sanctions were worth US regime-change efforts in Iraq, the response of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflects the current mindset towards the massive suffering and death of the Iranian people from US sanctions: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Is it any surprise why Iranians are bashing the US government and President Trump as Iranians celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ouster of the cruel and brutal tyrant that the CIA installed and trained in their country?

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Understanding Why Iranians Bash the US Government

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Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the US,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the US government, and, two, while the US government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

First things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the US,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the US government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the US government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the US government. And when one considers what the US government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the US government.

In 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh, but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that US officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the US national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Upon ousting Mossadegh from power, the CIA made the Shah of Iran its supreme dictator in Iran. He turned out to be one of the most cruel and brutal tyrants in the world, with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the US national-security establishment. In fact, the CIA helped organize and train the Shah’s tyrannical enforcement agency, the SAVAK, which was a combination Gestapo, KGB, Pentagon, NSA, and CIA.

For the next 25 years, the Shah and the CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK ruled Iran with a brutal and oppressive iron fist. Indefinite detention, brutal torture, kangaroo trials, and executions were hallmarks of the Shah’s regime. Of course, from the standpoint of the US government, the Shah was a kind and friendly ruler, one who was a loyal partner and ally of the US government. From the standpoint of US officials, the Shah and his SAVAK were just displaying the “law and order” mentality within the country that characterized all US-supported foreign dictators.

In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of the Shah’s, the SAVAK’s, and the CIA’s brutal tyranny and oppression. That’s when they decided to revolt, violently. If their revolution had failed, there would have been a horrific backlash involving mass arrests, incarceration, torture, kangaroo trials, and executions at the hands of the Shah and his CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK.

But the revolution succeeded, much to the chagrin of US officials, who have never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting the CIA’s man from power. Unfortunately, however, the Iranian people were unable to restore the democratic experiment that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. Iranians ended up with another brutal dictatorship, this one a religious theocracy.

Ever since the Iranian revolution, US officials have never ceased their efforts to effect another regime change in Iran, one that would bring another pro-US dictator into power, one who would be permitted to wield totalitarian power over the Iranian people in return for loyal support of the US Empire in foreign affairs.

That’s what the US sanctions against Iran are all about. The sanctions target the Iranian people with impoverishment, suffering, and even death in the hopes that they will initiate a violent revolution against their government or, alternatively, in the hope of bringing a collapse of the Iranian government, or, alternatively, in the hope of inciting a pro-US coup within the regime, or, alternatively, in the hope of provoking a regime-change war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian people are obviously the pawns in this process. Like with other US regime-change operations (e.g., Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.), no amount of death, suffering, and impoverishment among the Iranian people is considered too high. When asked in 1996 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children (yes, children!) from the US sanctions were worth US regime-change efforts in Iraq, the response of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflects the current mindset towards the massive suffering and death of the Iranian people from US sanctions: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Is it any surprise why Iranians are bashing the US government and President Trump as Iranians celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ouster of the cruel and brutal tyrant that the CIA installed and trained in their country?

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Donald Trump, Dictator

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It is supremely ironic. To respond to the dictatorial mindset and policies of Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro, President Trump has adopted his own dictatorial mindset and policies. Trump obviously believes that the way to fight foreign dictatorship is by adopting dictatorship here at home.

Consider Trump’s actions with respect to Citgo, the Houston-based refining firm that is owned by the Venezuelan government. It is the eighth-largest US refiner and Venezuela’s top foreign asset.

To help effect a regime-change operation in Venezuela, Trump simply issued an order that prohibits Citgo from sending any money to the Venezuela government. He’s also ordering that Citgo’s revenues be transferred to Juan Guaidó, the head of the Venezuelan congress, who is claiming that he’s the rightful president of Venezuela, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that no one has ever elected him president.

We Americans have become so accustomed to the imposition of sanctions on people in foreign countries by US presidents that it’s easy to be blasé about Trump’s actions. But actually his behavior is astounding, especially in that it reflects perfectly the same dictatorial mindset and policies that characterize Maduro.

First of all, Venezuela and the United States are not at war. Oh, sure, there is there standard Cold War or empire-like verbiage that refers to rivals, adversaries, hegemons, communism, socialism, Russia, China, and Cuba, but indulging in empire-speak or Cold War bugaboos does not rise to the level of war. In an extraordinary action taken during peacetime, Trump has seized and confiscated the assets of a foreign regime and is transferring them to someone else.

Second, Trump didn’t go to Congress to secure permission to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. That’s ordinarily what rulers in a representative democracy are expected to do. Recall what they taught us in our high-school civics classes: Congress enacts the laws and the president enforces the laws. Here, there was no law enacted by Congress authorizing Trump to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. He just unilaterally issued an order authorizing US officials to take control over Venezuela’s money.

That’s precisely how dictators behave. They don’t need no stinking legislature. They don’t have time to jack with elected representatives. They know what’s best for the country. They have to do what is necessary. Fast.

One of the purest manifestations of this phenomenon took place when military Gen. Augusto Pinochet took the reins of power in Chile after the US-supported regime-change operation in that country. Pinochet’s regime was a classic military dictatorship. He didn’t bother with seeking permission from the Chilean congress to round up some 50,000 people and torture, rape, or kill them. He just issued orders to his national-security state goons to do those dirty deeds. His orders were called “decree laws.” That’s because his decrees had the force of law. That is what dictatorship is all about — the power of the ruler, whether democratically elected or not, to issue decree laws to seize people’s property or to arrest, incarcerate, torture, rape, or kill them.

That is precisely what Trump’s order seizing Citgo’s revenue is — a decree law. Trump issues the decree and it instantly becomes the law. Everyone is expected to comply with it. That is classic dictatorship.

Just think: An American president adopting dictatorial mindsets and policies to oppose the dictatorial mindsets and policies of a foreign dictator. Trump obviously believes that his decree laws are making America great again. Ironically, that’s what Maduro also believes about his decree laws.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Donald Trump, Dictator

undefined

It is supremely ironic. To respond to the dictatorial mindset and policies of Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro, President Trump has adopted his own dictatorial mindset and policies. Trump obviously believes that the way to fight foreign dictatorship is by adopting dictatorship here at home.

Consider Trump’s actions with respect to Citgo, the Houston-based refining firm that is owned by the Venezuelan government. It is the eighth-largest US refiner and Venezuela’s top foreign asset.

To help effect a regime-change operation in Venezuela, Trump simply issued an order that prohibits Citgo from sending any money to the Venezuela government. He’s also ordering that Citgo’s revenues be transferred to Juan Guaidó, the head of the Venezuelan congress, who is claiming that he’s the rightful president of Venezuela, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that no one has ever elected him president.

We Americans have become so accustomed to the imposition of sanctions on people in foreign countries by US presidents that it’s easy to be blasé about Trump’s actions. But actually his behavior is astounding, especially in that it reflects perfectly the same dictatorial mindset and policies that characterize Maduro.

First of all, Venezuela and the United States are not at war. Oh, sure, there is there standard Cold War or empire-like verbiage that refers to rivals, adversaries, hegemons, communism, socialism, Russia, China, and Cuba, but indulging in empire-speak or Cold War bugaboos does not rise to the level of war. In an extraordinary action taken during peacetime, Trump has seized and confiscated the assets of a foreign regime and is transferring them to someone else.

Second, Trump didn’t go to Congress to secure permission to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. That’s ordinarily what rulers in a representative democracy are expected to do. Recall what they taught us in our high-school civics classes: Congress enacts the laws and the president enforces the laws. Here, there was no law enacted by Congress authorizing Trump to seize and transfer Citgo’s revenue. He just unilaterally issued an order authorizing US officials to take control over Venezuela’s money.

That’s precisely how dictators behave. They don’t need no stinking legislature. They don’t have time to jack with elected representatives. They know what’s best for the country. They have to do what is necessary. Fast.

One of the purest manifestations of this phenomenon took place when military Gen. Augusto Pinochet took the reins of power in Chile after the US-supported regime-change operation in that country. Pinochet’s regime was a classic military dictatorship. He didn’t bother with seeking permission from the Chilean congress to round up some 50,000 people and torture, rape, or kill them. He just issued orders to his national-security state goons to do those dirty deeds. His orders were called “decree laws.” That’s because his decrees had the force of law. That is what dictatorship is all about — the power of the ruler, whether democratically elected or not, to issue decree laws to seize people’s property or to arrest, incarcerate, torture, rape, or kill them.

That is precisely what Trump’s order seizing Citgo’s revenue is — a decree law. Trump issues the decree and it instantly becomes the law. Everyone is expected to comply with it. That is classic dictatorship.

Just think: An American president adopting dictatorial mindsets and policies to oppose the dictatorial mindsets and policies of a foreign dictator. Trump obviously believes that his decree laws are making America great again. Ironically, that’s what Maduro also believes about his decree laws.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.