March 31st, 2019 - by Hassan El-Tayyab / Coalition Letter to Congress from Just Foreign Policy et al.
March 16, 2019 National March on Washington: Hands Off Venezuela!
(March 28, 2019) — This new coalition letter is addressed to Congress in support of
dialogue in Venezuela and in opposition of military intervention and economic
sanctions.It will be sent to members of
Congress on Monday April 1st.
Dear [Member of
We, the undersigned groups, wish to express our grave concern
regarding the Trump administration’s dangerous and destructive regime change
strategy targeting Venezuela. Broad economic sanctions unilaterally imposed by
the administration since August of 2017 have caused great hardship and loss of
life for many Venezuelans.
The latest round of sanctions announced in January are expected to
worsen the current crisis and provoke even greater human suffering throughout
Though many observers have noted that civil war is an increasingly
likely prospect, administration officials are vigorously opposing peaceful
dialogue between the country’s political actors and have made open threats of
We call on you to take a strong, public stand against these
immoral, reckless and illegal policies and to support efforts to advance
peaceful dialogue, before it is too late.
We urge you to:
Although government mismanagement and the fall in global oil
prices are to blame for much of Venezuela’s deep crisis, the Trump
administration’s economic sanctions — both the August 2017 financial sanctions
and the January 2019 sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry — are resulting in
billions of dollars of additional lost foreign exchange necessary for essential
imports, according to experts and even administration officials like NSC
Advisor John Bolton.
In the current context, these sanctions will inevitably generate
greater human suffering, including many deaths from lack of medicine and other
essential imports. Unilateral economic sanctions are illegal under the UN
Charter and the OAS charter; and research shows that they are generally ineffective
in achieving desired political results.
threats of military intervention:
President Trump has reportedly argued for military intervention in
Venezuela since early 2017, while he and various other administration officials
have repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table” for Venezuela.
These threats are absolutely unacceptable, particularly regarding
a country that poses no threat to the U.S., and are only increasing the immense
political polarization in Venezuela. Members of Congress should firmly
denounce these threats and make the adoption of the “Prohibiting Unauthorized
Military Action in Venezuela Act” a top priority.
They should also commit to invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution
in the event that President Trump and his Administration involve the military
in any action directed at Venezuela, thereby triggering a debate and vote in
Congress to terminate any unauthorized use of force.
U.S. administration officials have rejected the possibility of
dialogue and, instead, have pushed for immediate regime change in Venezuela,
calling for Venezuela’s armed forces to rebel against the Maduro
government. Experts have warned that this strategy could result in a
split within the country’s military, with a potentially catastrophic violent
outcome. Members of Congress should oppose the administration’s dangerous
zero-sum strategy and advocate for peaceful dialogue. The Vatican, the UN
Secretary General, Mexico and Uruguay have all offered to help mediate dialogue
and political negotiations to resolve the current crisis peacefully.
Congress should support these efforts.
With the recent appointment of convicted Iran-Contra veteran
Elliott Abrams as Special Envoy to Venezuela and the increasingly hawkish
rhetoric coming from the White House, your support could not come at a more
There is no moral, legal, or political justification for the
collective punishment of the economic sanctions, which target the Venezuelan
population. There is no military solution; Venezuela’s crisis must be solved
through dialogue and negotiations. Congress should therefore insist on lifting
destructive economic sanctions, and taking unauthorized war off the table.
Friends Service Committee
Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team
of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of
Religious Leadership Network
International Policy – Americas Program
Religious Leadership Network
for International Policy
Hassan El-Tayyab is the Co-Director of JustForeignPolicy.org
March 31st, 2019 - by David Swanson / David Swanson.org & World BEYOND War
(March 28, 2019) — Trump wants to leave 31% of
discretionary spending for all things non-military, while Bernie wants to move some unspecified amount
of money from militarism to human needs, and Elizabeth Warren believes a budget is a statement
Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no presidential candidate has now
or within living memory ever produced a proposed federal budget, or ever been
asked in any debate or interview, to even approximate — give or take $100
billion — what they’d like spent where, or even just whether militarism would
be better at 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, or 30% of federal discretionary spending.
A summary of what we know about
current U.S. presidential candidates regarding peace and war is all pretty
vague stuff. None of them have been asked or voluntarily answered any of what I
consider the 20 most basic questions. The one
exception is that some of them have suggested that certain wars should be
ended, either immediately or in some vague future. But none of them has
produced a full list of which wars should be ended and which should not.
If a candidate wanted to stand out from the crowd, if he or she wanted
to take the lead and compel similar behavior from all the others, one easy step
would be to produce an answer to the very most basic question that nobody asks.
A pie chart in pen on napkin would be sufficient. Or four or eight of them if
one wants to show a progression over future years. A 10-page report would be
way more than sufficient to make major news. Including a report on revenue as
well as on spending would be fine, particularly if a candidate is contemplating
taxing oligarchs. But if you want to be president, show us your budget!
This can’t be a “people’s budget” from a think tank that skirts
around the battle-ready elephant in the room. A candidate who tried to produce
a budget without answering whether the single biggest expense was too much, too
little, or just right would stand out only for the degree of dishonesty. I’m
not saying that isn’t an impressive title to covet; I’m just saying I wouldn’t
vote for such a person.
This is a test to separate the wheat from the chaff. Donald Trump
and Captain Coffee would not, in this test, be distinguished as fascist and
centrist. They’d have virtually the same damn pie chart. It would look
indistinguishable from Biden’s and Beto’s. The question is whose would look
“A budget is a moral document.” What politician hasn’t said that?
What person doesn’t understand that?
A global reverse arms race, facilitating the survival of humanity,
is a moral goal unmentioned in any U.S. presidential campaign.
College and healthcare and school and pre-school and environmental
sustainability are moral projects that produce only the following from cable
TV: “But how would you pay for it?”
“See my budget,” is a better answer than “We’d find a way because
of our Greatness.”
“That’s two percent of military spending” is a better answer than
anything involving the word “taxes.”
Doing those things would do more to make the United States safe
than any number of tank factories one might tour on a campaign trip. Not doing
them would be understood as crazier than providing a basic income guarantee, if
and only if a candidate were to lay out a basic budget that could be compared
with the current one.
Here’s Trump’s budget. He’s
got $718 billion in the Pentagon (which has never earned the name “Defense”),
plus $52 billion in the mis-named Homeland Security Department, plus $93 billion
in Veterans Affairs. It’s not entirely clear where the nuclear weapons budget
is on that chart, or the military spending in numerous other departments,
or the debt payments for past wars, but we know that they push the total far
over $1 trillion.
What should it be? What would each candidate try to make it be if elected? Who knows!
March 31st, 2019 - by Stephen F. Cohen / The Nation
US Cold Warriors
escalate toward actual war with Russia
(March 20, 2019) — Heedless of the
consequences, or perhaps welcoming them, America’s Cold Warriors and their
media platforms have recently escalated their rhetoric against Russia, especially
in March. Anyone who has lived through or studied the preceding 40-year Cold
War will recognize the ominous echoes of its most dangerous periods, when
actual war was on the horizon or a policy option. Here are only a few random
but representative examples:
§ In a March 8 Washington Post opinion article, two American professors, neither with any apparent substantive knowledge of Russia or Cold War history, warned that the Kremlin is trying “to undermine our trust in the institutions that sustain a strong nation and a strong democracy. The media, science, academia and the electoral process are all regular targets.” Decades ago, J. Edgar Hoover, the policeman of that Cold War, said the same, indeed made it an operational doctrine.
§ Nor is the purported threat to America only. According to (retired) Gen. David Petraeus and sitting Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, also in the Post on the following day, the “world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society.” For Putin’s Kremlin, “the existence of the United States’ rule-of-law world is intrinsically threatening.” This is an “intensifying worldwide struggle.” So much for those who dismissed post–Soviet Russia as merely a “regional” power, including former President Barack Obama, and for the myopic notion that a new Cold War was not possible.
§ But the preceding Cold War was driven by an intense ideological conflict between Soviet Communism and Western capitalism. Where is the ideological threat today, considering that post–Soviet Russia is also a capitalist country? In a perhaps unprecedented nearly 10,000-word manifesto from March 14 in the front news pages of (again) the Post, Robert Kagan provided the answer: “Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the great challenge facing the liberal democratic world—a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge.” That is, “authoritarianism” has replaced Soviet Communism in our times, with Russia again in the forefront.
substance of Kagan’s “authoritarianism” as “an ideological force” is thin,
barely enough for a short opinion article, often inconsistent and rarely
empirical. It amounts to a batch of “strongman” leaders (prominently Putin, of
course), despite their very different kinds of societies, political cultures,
states, and histories, and despite their different nationalisms and ruling
styles. Still, credit Kagan’s ambition to be the undisputed ideologist of the
new American Cold War, though less the Post for
taking the voluminous result so seriously.
Cold War often flirted with hot war, and that, too, seems to be on the agenda.
Words, as Russians say, are also deeds. They have consequences, especially when
uttered by people of standing in influential outlets. Again, consider a few
examples that might reasonably be considered warmongering:
§ The journal Foreign Policy found space for disgraced former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili to declare: “It is not a question of whether [Putin] will attack, but where.” (Saakashvili may be the most discredited “democratic” leader of recent times, having brought the West close to war with Russia in 2008 and since having had to flee his own country and then decamp even from US-backed Ukraine.)
§NBC News, a reliable source of Cold War frenzy, reported, based on Estonian “intelligence,” an equally persistent source of the same mania, that “Russia is most likely to attack the Baltic States first, but a conflict between Russia and NATO would involve attacks on Western Europe.”
§ Also in March, in The Economist, another retired general, Ben Hodges, onetime commander of the US army in Europe, echoes that apocalyptic perspective: “This is not just about NATO’s eastern front.” (Readers may wish to note that “eastern front” is the designation given by Nazi Germany to its 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia. Russians certainly remember.)
§ Plenty of influential American Cold War zealots seem eager to respond to the bugle charge, among them John E. Herbst, a stalwart at the Atlantic Council (NATO’s agitprop “think tank” in Washington), and the Post’s deputy editorial-page editor, Jackson Diehl. Both want amply armed US and NATO warships sent to what Russians sometimes call their bordering “lakes,” the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. To do so would likely mean the “war” NBC envisages.
Lest readers think all this is merely the “chattering” of opinion-makers, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once termed it, consider a summary of legislation being prepared by a bipartisan US Senate committee, pointedly titled and with a fearsome acronym, DASKA (the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019). Again, Russia is ritualistically accused of “malign influence” and “aggression” around the world, the quality of the committee’s thinking succinctly expressed by one of the Republican senators: “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.”
There is no evidence for these allegations—Russian policy-makers are constantly citing international law, and the US “liberal global order,” if it ever existed, has done a fine job of undoing itself—but with “an outlaw regime,” there can be no diplomacy, nor do the senators propose any, only war.
A recurring theme of my recently published book War with Russia? is that the new Cold War is more dangerous, more fraught with hot war, than the one we survived. All of the above amply confirms that thesis, but there is more. Histories of the 40-year US-Soviet Cold War tell us that both sides came to understand their mutual responsibility for the conflict, a recognition that created political space for the constant peace-keeping negotiations, including nuclear arms control agreements, often known as détente.
But as I also chronicle in the book, today’s American Cold Warriors blame only Russia, specifically “Putin’s Russia,” leaving no room or incentive for rethinking any US policy toward post-Soviet Russia since 1991. (See, for example, Nataliya Bugayova’s recent piece for the Institute for the Study of War.)
as I have also long pointed out, Moscow closely follows what is said and
written in the United States about US-Russian relations. Here too words have
consequences. On March 14, Russia’s National Security Council, headed by
President Putin, officially raised its perception of American intentions toward
Russia from “military dangers” (opasnosti) to direct “military threats” (ugrozy). In short, the Kremlin is
preparing for war, however defensive its intention.
there continues to be no effective, organized American opposition to the new
Cold War. This too is a major theme of my book and another reason why this Cold
War is more dangerous than was its predecessor. In the 1970s and 1980s,
advocates of détente were well-organized, well-funded, and well-represented,
from grassroots politics and universities to think tanks, mainstream media,
Congress, the State Department, and even the White House. Today there is no
such opposition anywhere.
A major factor is, of course, “Russiagate.” As evidenced in the sources I cite above, much of the extreme American Cold War advocacy we witness today is a mindless response to President Trump’s pledge to find ways to “cooperate with Russia” and to the still-unproven allegations generated by it.
Certainly, the Democratic Party is not an opposition party in regard to the new Cold War. Nancy Pelosi, the leader of its old guard, needlessly initiated an address to Congress by NATO’s secretary general, in April, which will be viewed in Moscow as a provocation. She also decried as “appalling” Trump’s diplomacy with Russian President Putin, whom she dismissed as a “thug.” Such is the state of statesmanship today in the Democratic Party.
new pennies seem little different. Beto O’Rourke, now a declared candidate for
the Democratic presidential nomination, promises to lead our “indispensable
country,” an elite conceit that has inspired many US wars and cold wars.
Another fledgling would-be Democratic leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seems
to have bought into Russiagate’s iconic promotion of US intelligence
agencies, tweeting on January 12, “The FBI had to open
inquiry on whether the most powerful person in the United States is actually
working for Russia.” Evidently, neither she nor O’Rourke understand that
growing Cold War is incompatible with progressive policies at home, in America
or in Russia.
Democrats, there is one exception, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who is also a
declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Not
surprisingly, for lamenting Russiagate’s contribution to the worsening new Cold
War and calling for new approaches to Russia itself, Gabbard was shrilly and
misleadingly slurred by NBC News. (For a defense of Gabbard, see Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept.) Herself a veteran of the US military
forces, Representative Gabbard soldiers on, the only would-be Democratic
president calling for an end to this most dangerous new Cold War.
commentary is based on Stephen F. Cohen’s most recent weekly discussion with
the host of The John Batchelor Show. Now in their fifth year, previous installments
are at TheNation.com.
Republicans are doing everything in their power to kneecap the country’s ability to respond to climate change
(March 27, 2019) — For Republicans,
the climate crisis is a joke. On Tuesday in the Senate, Mike Lee, a Republican
senator for Utah, spent several minutes on the floor showing pictures of Luke
Skywalker on Hoth, giant seahorses and Ronald Reagan shooting off a machine gun
whilst mounted atop a dinosaur. This was his bid to “treat the Green New Deal”,
which came up for a vote in that body on Tuesday, “with the seriousness it
For a growing stretch of the country, climate change isn’t a joke but a deadly, imminent threat. Biblical flooding in the midwest this past month has left farmlands devastated and at least 20 people dead, all while the country lacks a comprehensive plan to handle such disasters. The Pine Ridge Reservation is experiencing a devastating state of emergency thanks in part to decades of federal neglect of and divestment from indigenous communities.
And there are still people struggling to recover in Puerto Rico from 2017’s devastating hurricane season – efforts being actively undermined by a sociopathic indifference to the fate of that island’s residents. Rising temperatures are already a clear and present danger to millions of Americans, and disastrous Republican policy is already making it worse.
By contrast, scientists are unflinching in
their recommendations for dealing with the problem: “rapid and far-reaching
transitions” in “all aspects of society”, per the Intergovernmental Panel on
From the Senate majority leader Mitch
McConnell’s sham vote on Tuesday on a Green New Deal to attempts dismantle the
remaining benefits of the Affordable Care Act to Rick Perry’s push to bail out flailing coal plants,
Republicans are instead doing everything in their power both to make sure
temperatures keep rising and to kneecap the country’s ability to respond
adequately to the results.
The Republican party, of course, voted unanimously against the Green New Deal in Tuesday’s vote; 43 Democrats voted present to show unity. But like many of their Republican colleagues – and a few Democrats who joined Republicans in their no vote – neither Lee nor McConnell speak or vote for themselves.
With mountains of campaign donations, they are deputised to act on behalf of the coal, oil and gas companies who fund their re-election campaigns; combined, the two senators have accepted more than $6 million from fossil fuel interests over the course of their careers. In the 2017-2018 election cycle, more than four-fifths of the energy sector’s $8.5 million in donations went to Republican candidates. An analysis released on Tuesday from Oil Change International found that – in total – the senators who voted against the resolution yesterday have accepted a total of $55m in donations from fossil fuel interests
With the Green New Deal enjoying 81% support
among the American voting public, Senate Republicans’ “no” vote on Tuesday
mostly proved how out of touch they are with their nominal constituents. For
Democrats, it should also be clarifying. If they ever were, today’s Republican
party simply isn’t negotiating in good faith – least of all when it comes to
climate change. It’s negotiating on behalf of the world’s most toxic companies,
and it’s time for Democrats to start treating Republicans like what they are: the
political arm of the fossil fuel industry.
That’s important because not all of the jabs
thrown at the Green New Deal will be as cartoonish as Mike Lee’s or even Mitch
McConnell’s. Republicans like Lamar Alexander have already
begun to turn their backs on years of old-school Republican climate denial,
trading in junk science and conspiracy theories for more seemingly respectable
On Tuesday, Alexander announced his own plan to tackle “Ten Grand Challenges” to curb emissions under the banner of a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy. Alexander hasn’t magically seen the light on climate, and still takes plenty of cash from the fossil fuel industry fueling this problem. He’s just taking a different page out of their playbook.
As the Influence Map found recently, multinational fossil fuel companies have spent $1 billion since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015 trying to greenwash their image through elaborate PR campaigns that paint them as allies in the climate fight. It’s nonsense, of course; the same report found that while these companies plan to spend $115bn on new fossil fuel development in the coming years, they’ll spend just a tiny fraction of that – $3.6bn – on low-carbon investments.
Climate change is no joke, as Mike Lee suggests. But
the idea that a Republican party stacked to the gills with fossil fuel cash will
ever take it seriously certainly is.
accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational
(March 29, 2019) — A Pentagon official has
said that the US will retain the right to carry out a nuclear strike in
response to a conventional attack. A ‘no-first-use’ policy would erode US
allies’ belief that they are protected, he said.
has no plans to reverse its policy of “no first use” of nukes, which
means it can bomb its adversaries with nuclear weapons under “extreme
circumstances,” Deputy Undersecretary of
Defense David Trachtenberg said in his prepared remarks to
the Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on Thursday.
claimed that if the US changes its take on the issue, which he described as “constructive
ambiguity,” it “would undermine US extended deterrence
and damage the health of our alliances because it would call into question the
assurance that the United States would come to the defense of allies in extreme
circumstances.” This uncertainty might prompt these countries to arm
themselves with nuclear weapons, he said.
hawkish Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) commissioned by President Donald Trump in
2018 lists a range of circumstances under which the US might consider striking
first, such as significant strategic attacks on the US, allied or partner
civilian infrastructure, forces, their command and control, as well as warning
and assessment capabilities with conventional weapons.
clause represents a major shift from the previous US nuclear doctrine, and has
drawn strong criticism from Moscow, which accused Washington of lowering the
nuclear threshold and exacerbating the nuclear arms race. In addition to
threatening nuclear annihilation, the review sets the stage for upgrading and
expanding the already vast US nuclear arsenal. The nuclear build-up envisions developing
new types of low-yield warheads that could be placed on submarine-launched
ballistic missiles and on sea-launched cruise missiles.
“mini-nuke” produced by the Pantex plant in Texas has the relatively
small explosive power of around five kilotons of TNT, in an attempt to make the
US deterrent more “flexible.” According
to some experts, it can be launched from the B-21 Raider heavy
bomber, which is being developed, making a preemptive nuclear raid more of a
and its weapons modernization program has been singled out in the review as one
of the reasons for a major build-up of the US nuclear triad. But unlike the
American one, the Russian military doctrine allows the use of nukes only if
under attack by weapons of mass destruction or when Russia’s sovereignty is at
reinforcing its own nuclear deterrent, the US plans to spend billions of
dollars upgrading its 150 B61 nuclear bombs scattered across its four European
allies: Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands – as well as Turkey.
has repeatedly warned Washington that the deployment of the new bombs would
violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
(March 30, 2019) — The Pentagon has grounded
its entire fleet of B-1B Lancer strategic bombers for the second time in less
than a year after new dangerous flaws were found in its ejection system.
bombers were suspended from flight as a “precautionary measure” after a routine inspection
discovered “potentially fleet-wide issues” with the system, the Air Force Global Strike Command reported on Thursday.
problem was found in the rigging of the “drogue chute,” a parachute connected
with the pilot’s ejection seat. Flight technicians will now check each of the
62 active B-1Bs. The command’s spokesperson declined to comment on how long the whole
check-up may take.
is the second time in less than a year when the military was forced to ground
all of its B-1Bs. The planes were previously put on stand-down for around three
weeks after a jet from the Dyess Air Force Base in Texas suffered an engine
pilot tried to eject but had to conduct a risky emergency landing instead
because his seat failed to deploy. The Air Force has since said that the
problem was fixed and the current grounding is unrelated to the last year’s
B-1B Lancer is one of Pentagon’s three active long-distance strategic bombers.
Developed in the Cold War era, it was conceived as an aircraft that would carry
out nuclear airstrikes against the Soviet Union in the event of a global
conflict, and has remained a vital part in US contingency plans.
to some reports,
the aircraft will be phased out by the mid-2030s in favor of the new B-21
Raider stealth bomber.
accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational
March 30th, 2019 - by Paul Jay / Real News Network
Senator Bob Graham, former Co-Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee investigating 9/11, says there is evidence in the “28 redacted pages” that the FBI knew of Saudi Ambassador Bandar’s links to Al Qaida terrorists before the attacks. Interview originally broadcast in 2016.
(January 10, 2019) —Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay.
11th is the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade towers in New
York. Of course, there are many unanswered questions about those attacks. There
are few questions that are perhaps more pointed now.
A few years
ago I interviewed Senator Bob Graham, who was the chair of the congressional
joint committee looking into the 9/11 attacks, and we discussed much of the
issues of the role of the Saudi government. At the time, I asked him, if the
Saudi government is involved, wouldn’t that mean that Prince Bandar, the Saudi
ambassador to the United States, would have to have been involved? At the time,
Senator Graham said that he was not allowed to speak about that because the 28
pages–he didn’t say all of this–but we knew this was the case, that Bandar was
mentioned in those 28 pages, and if he were to talk about Bandar’s role he’d be
revealing what was in the 28 pages, and they had been kept secret.
the 28 pages have been released. So now we’re going to pick up where the last
interview left off and pursue the issue of what was the role of the Saudi
government, and particularly what was the role of Prince Bandar, the Saudi
ambassador to the United States–and, should I say, extremely close friend of
President Bush and the Bush family.
joining us is Senator Bob Graham. Bob Graham was the Governor of Florida from
1979 to 1987, a United States senator from Florida from 1987 to 2005, chairman
of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cochair of the bipartisan joint
congressional inquiry into intelligence failures surrounding the 9/11 attacks.
He’s the author of the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI,
Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror, and also the
author of the book Keys to the Kingdom.
much for joining us, Bob.
SEN. BOB GRAHAM: Paul. Thank you
JAY: So let’s pick up where we left off. At the
time, I said what I just said: Bandar had to have known, he had to have been
involved. And, in fact, when the 28 pages were released just a few weeks ago,
he is very much at the center of those what had been hidden, redacted pages
from your report. So in this interview I want to go through the report in some
detail. But just first of all, overall what do you come away with as the role
of Bandar in either financing or facilitating the 9/11 attacks?
GRAHAM: Paul, let me first say thank you for this opportunity to
continue our previous conversation. Also, to put this in context, the 28 pages
were written in the fall of 2002. A lot of things have happened since 2002, and
we have better perspective and insights.
that the 28 pages were largely written based on information gathered about
three of the hijackers who lived in Los Angeles and San Diego. There was not
much information available in the fall of 2002 relative to the other 16
hijackers, who lived primarily east of the Mississippi in states like Florida,
Virginia, New Jersey. We now know more about those other hijackers.
back to the question of Bandar, the 28 pages discussed the fact that one of
Osama bin Laden’s closest associates, a man named Abu Zubaydah, was captured in
Pakistan shortly after 9/11. Among his effects was a notebook of telephone
numbers. Two of those numbers related to Prince Bandar. One of them was to his
mansion/second home in Aspen, Colorado. The other was to his bodyguard in
Washington, D.C. That’s all we know about those numbers. The second is that
Bandar was alleged to have provided funding for an intermediary who was close
to one of the persons in San Diego who was providing assistance and support to
the three hijackers who lived there.
fact that we didn’t come to closure on Bandar is not unusual. There were a
number of trails in the 28 pages where the clock ran out. We had to get our
report submitted by the end of December 2002, because that was the end of the
session of congress which had given authorization for the joint inquiry in the
What we did
is we communicated with the FBI, with the CIA, and with the citizens 9/11
commission, which had just been formed and would start its work early in 2003,
that here are a set of suspicious circumstances, here’s what we’ve developed
about them, we urge you to pursue those. So one of the things that we, those of
us who continue to be interested in this matter, are doing is asking the CIA,
the FBI, and the National Archives, which currently has possession of all the
documentation from the citizens 9/11 commission, to go over these trails,
including the Bandar trail, to find out what else has been found out in the 13
years that the 28 pages were being held in seclusion: where is the state of the
investigation of that today?
know the answer to that question because we haven’t received a response from
the FBI, the CIA, or the–.
JAY: In the actual 28 pages, you have the
information of the link between Zubaydah’s phone book and numbers in the United
States. In the 28 pages, it states on page 419: “The FBI noted that ASPCOL has
an unlisted phone number.” Now, this is a company that helped manage the Bandar
residence, if I understand it correctly. But then it says, “A November 18, 2002
FBI response to the Joint Inquiry”, which is the inquiry you chaired, “states
that ‘CIA traces have revealed no direct links between numbers found in
Zubaydah’s phone book and numbers in the United States.’” Well, that’s clearly
not the case.
GRAHAM: I’m sad I have to say this about a venerated US
institution like the FBI, but that was just one of instances in which FBI said
that they had not found anything in their investigation and assumed that that
was the end of it.
example which is one of those things that we learned about after the 28 pages
were written is that there were three of the hijackers (including Mohamed Atta,
the leader of the 19) who did their flight training in Venice, Florida, a
community near Sarasota, and that while they were taking their flight lessons,
they had connections with a prominent Saudi family, a three-generational
family: a grandfather who had been close to the royal family, his daughter and
son-in-law, and then their grandchildren. The FBI stated, after having
recognized that there was such a relationship, that they found that there were
no connections between the three hijackers and this Saudi family.
in the files of the FBI, a report written by the FBI agent in charge of the
investigation in Sarasota, he stated there were many connections between the
hijackers and the family. Again, we’re now through a Freedom of Information Act
request attempting to find out what were those many connections and how far did
the FBI investigation go in trying to establish the significance of those connections.
JAY: Bob, I’m going to read another section from
the 28 pages. Let me ask you, when I see something redacted, does that mean you
can’t say what was redacted?
GRAHAM: Yes, and there were about 11 percent of the words in the
28 pages which were redacted.
JAY: And what is it that stops you from being
able to say? What are you bound by?
GRAHAM: Well, I’m bound by an oath of confidentiality, which I
took when I became a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And having it
redacted is the same as having it suppressed. The reason that it was redacted
is somebody thought that there was a reason–which could have been national
security, it could have been protecting sources and methods. There were other
categories of reasons that can be the basis of withholding information.
JAY: Okay. I’ll read this paragraph to you. This
is again on page 419 of the 28 pages.
According to an FBI
agent in Phoenix, the FBI suspects Mohammed al-Qudhaeein of being [redacted]
know. Does that mean a Saudi intelligence officer? Does it mean something else?
The logic of the sentence suggests it might be that.
involved in a 1999 incident aboard an America West flight, which the FBI’s
Phoenix office now suspects may have been a “dry run” to test airline security.
During the flight, al-Qudhaeein and his associate asked the flight attendants a
variety of suspicious questions; al-Qudhaeein then attempted to enter the
cockpit on two occasions. Al-Qudhaeein and his associate were flying to
Washington, D.C. to attend a party at the Saudi Embassy, and both claimed that
their tickets were paid for by the Saudi Embassy. During the course of its
investigations, the FBI has discovered that both al-Qudhaeein and the other
individual involved in this incident had connections to terrorism.
happened to that line of inquiry?
GRAHAM: You’ve carried it up to the end point of what the joint
inquiry was able to find. And, again, this trail was turned over to the 9/11
Commission, FBI, and the CIA, probably primarily the FBI, to take to ground, to
get all of the questions that those stated facts that you just read indicate
that need to be answered. And we are pursuing those followups to the trails
that started in the 28 pages, of which this is one of a dozen or more.
JAY: When you say “we” are following up, who’s
GRAHAM: The we, is the same group that’s been
pushing this so hard, and it includes the families of the victims of 9/11, the
families who for over a decade have been suing Saudi Arabia and various
entities of the Kingdom, alleging that they were essentially co-conspirators in
9/11 and should be held to account. They also are investigative journalists,
First Amendment lawyers, who have had a longtime interest in this case.
JAY: Okay. I’m going to read another section
from the 28 pages. This is on page 420.
Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently
did not focus investigative [redacted] Saudi nationals in the United States due
to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American “ally”. [redacted]. A representative of
the FBI’s [redacted] testified in closed hearings that, prior to September
11th, the FBI received “no reporting from any member of the Intelligence
Community” that there is a [redacted] presence in the United States.
GRAHAM: Well, that sounds like it is one of the fundamental
themes of 9/11, which was the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to share
information–in this case probably information between the CIA and the FBI. We
know that happened at the very–what I call chapter one of 9/11, which is a
meeting that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 2000, at which the
attendees were close operatives of bin Laden, including the first two to enter
the United States, a man named al-Mihdhar and another, al-Hazmi.
And the CIA
had been clumsy in not getting a listening device in the room where that
meeting was going to take place. And they knew where that room was because they
had been monitoring the telephone and other communications between and among
the hijackers that would be in attendance. But they did manage to get a large
number of pictures of the attendees at that meeting, including Hazmi and
Mihdhar. But they didn’t share any of that information with, for instance, the
FBI or with the immigration service. So two weeks after the “summit of
terrorists” (as it’s been called) concluded, Mihdhar and Hazmi walked through
the Los Angeles airport undetected because the people who were handling the
passport control had no reason to suspect that they were people of interest.
JAY: OK. On page 422 there’s a whole section on
two men. One’s name is Omar al-Bayoumi and the other is Osama Bassnan. What was
their connection to the terrorist plot? And what was their connection to the
Saudi government? I’m not going to read it all. There’s paragraph after paragraph
in the 28 pages linking, certainly, al-Bayoumi to the Saudi government. In
fact, one paragraph on page 423 says,
Al-Bayoumi also had
frequent contact with Saudi establishments in the United States. In a review of
telephone toll records, the FBI learned that al-Bayoumi called Saudi Government
establishments in the United States almost 100 times between January and May of
2000. According to the FBI, al-Bayoumi was in contact with at least three
individuals at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC; two individuals at the
Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Washington, DC; and three individuals at the
Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.
I mean, it
goes on and on, the number of contacts with the Saudi government. Tell us a
little bit who these two men were. And to what extent is Bandar implicated in
GRAHAM: Well, this requires some background. At the end of the
Persian Gulf war in 1991, the Kingdom was dissembling. They realized how close
they came to be invaded by Saddam Hussein’s troops, who were in Kuwait. They
recognized how weak their military was. And they also became very concerned
that they were going to face an internal issue similar to what happened in Iran
in 1979, where largely a group of college-aged Iranians overthrew the Shah and
installed the government that is there today.
In order to
try to protect themselves against such a youth-led revolution, the Saudi
government set up a series of monitors around the world whose job it was to
watch over young–college-aged, particularly–Saudis wherever they were, to
determine whether they were plotting against the Kingdom. One of those monitors
was named Bayoumi. And he had been a bookkeeper for the civil aviation agency
in Saudi Arabia, was selected to be trained to be a monitor, and then was
assigned in the late 1990s to the southern California area.
going to move to speculation. My speculation is that bin Laden was aware of
this series of monitors. He also became aware, as he developed his plot of
attacking the United States by expropriating commercial airliners, how
difficult that was going to be and recognized that the people that he was
selecting to lead this attack inside the United States who didn’t, in the main,
speak English, they’d never been to the United States before, they weren’t highly
educated, were not going to be able to carry out the plot without some
assistance. And so he put the two together and said, I am going to create a
situation where the Saudi Kingdom will make this system of monitors that they
have available to me, so that wherever the hijackers end up being placed in the
United States, they will have someone who can be their overseer while they’re
there. And since the first two hijackers to enter the United States came to Los
Angeles and that was part of Bayoumi’s territory, he became the first mentor of
JAY: I want to get back to why the Saudis may
have done this. And I also want to get to what the U.S. government’s role in
all this was. But just one more thing from the 28 pages, ’cause I know you have
to leave (and I hope we can get back to this in another session). But on page
428, Bassnan, who is described in this way: “The FBI has also developed
additional information clearly indicating that Bassnan is an extremist and
supporter of Usama Bin Ladin.” Now, Bassnan is connected with the people where?
GRAHAM: Well, Bassnan was essentially Bayoumi’s
second-in-command and was in the course of being trained to become Bayoumi’s
successor. Bassnan had been in the United States for a longer period than
Bayoumi. In fact, there is a lot of smoke around his role with the so-called
“Blind Sheikh” who had tried to blow up the World Trade Center back, I think,
in 1993. Bassnan had a number of suspicious connections to that incident.
also had a wife who–and I think had legitimately had some serious medical
issues. The Embassy of the Saudi Kingdom in Washington has a fund that’s under
the direction of the wife of the ambassador, which is available for indigent
Saudis living in the United States who have some urgent situation. And in this
case, Bassnan went to the Embassy pleading on behalf of his wife for funds to
pay for her medical attention. And she was given such assistance.
JAY: Now, according to the 28 pages, the FBI, at
least it is–certainly, one would think–known to Prince Bandar and the Saudis
that Bassnan is a supporter of bin Laden: “According to an FBI asset, Bassnan
spoke of Bin Ladin ‘as if he were a God’” and so on. And then on page 427–.
GRAHAM: Can I just finish–
GRAHAM: –the train that I was on?
So now we
have Bassnan, who by this time has moved to San Diego, and he’s assisting
Bayoumi. And he’s also getting a regular–or his wife has gotten a check for,
first, her surgeries, and then, second, for the rehabilitation. And I think the
checks were about $2,000 a month.
early part of 2000, coincident with the time that the two hijackers came to San
Diego, Mrs. Bassnan’s check, instead of going to her, started to go to Mrs.
Bayoumi, the wife of the person who’s mentoring the two hijackers, and raising
the suspicion that that was a money laundering operation, where the money went
from the Saudi Embassy in Washington, a fund under the control of the wife of
the ambassador, to Bayoumi’s wife, bypassing Bassnan’s wife, and then from
Bayoumi’s wife to the hijackers, to be part of the flow of money that was
supporting them, including their flight lessons while they were [crosstalk]
JAY: And on page 427 it says, “On at least one
occasion, Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar’s account.”
JAY: So a
direct connection between Bandar and Bassnan.
GRAHAM: Yeah. And that’s–again, I hope that when we get a
response from the FBI, CIA, or the Archives, we’ll find that there were
investigations done by one or more of those three groups which answered the
questions of was Bassnan wife a conduit of money from the Saudi Embassy in
Washington to the two hijackers, and why did the ambassador himself make a
fairly sizable fund available to Mr. Bassnan.
JAY: I want
to jump to something else, which we discussed in the previous interview. And
that has to do with the role of the American government in this, particularly
the Bush-Cheney administration. I’m going to play for you a little exchange we
had in the previous interview.
you are right that Bandar knew this was going on, then he’s sitting, meeting
with his friend President Bush regularly in the days leading up to 9/11, and
either not saying anything or somehow does. I mean, I know you know there’s a
lot of theory–and, I think, a lot of evidence that would at least require an
inquiry–that there’s a deliberate attempt not to know. I mean, to believe that
it’s just incompetency, then you have to think it’s like the Keystone Cops of
intelligence agencies: they’re just tripping all over each other. But that
seems hard to believe.
GRAHAM: Well, and also the fact that it was so pervasive, that
virtually all of the agencies of the federal government were moving in the same
direction, from a customs agent at an airport in Orlando who was chastised when
he denied entry into the United States to a Saudi, to the president of the
United States authorizing large numbers of Saudis to leave the country,
possibly denying us–forever–important insights and information on what
happened. You don’t have everybody moving in the same direction without there
being a head coach somewhere who was giving them instructions as to where he
wants them to move.
JAY: So that includes before and after the events.
GRAHAM: Primarily before the event. After the event, it shifts
from being an action that supports the activities of the Saudis to actions that
cover up the results of that permission given to the Saudis to act.
could you explain particularly this last couple of sentences, “Primarily before
the event. After the event, it shifts from being an action that supports the
activities to Saudis to actions that cover up the results of that permission
given to the Saudis to act”? So can you elaborate on that?
GRAHAM: Well, and I’ll get to the why question: why would the U.S.
government have done this? And let me say, I no longer use the words cover
up to describe what’s going
on. I find more accurate the words aggressive deception. The federal
government has attempted to rewrite the narrative of 9/11 in order to exclude
the role of the Saudis from that horrific story.
they do it? I think there are a number of reasons. Some of them relate to the
longtime, special, personal relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi
Kingdom–goes back three generations to Herbert Walker Bush’s father, Prescott
Bush, a senator from Connecticut.
I think it
also involves the long relationship that started in World War II when the
United States essentially committed to provide security to the Saudis. The
Saudis committed to provide a reliable source of petroleum to the United States
and its allies.
And I think
there’s another issue here. And that is, if you’ll recall, at the World Trade
Center after 9/11, the president, with a bullhorn, said words to the effect
that we are going to follow anyone who was found to have been in any way
connected to this murder and that we will follow them to the ends of the
earth–pretty strong words. And certainly, shortly thereafter, much of the
information that you have outlined became available to the president.
the president wanted to go to war with Iraq, and he has painted at the site of
the crime a path that looks like it’s going directly to the Saudis, but that’s
not the destination he wants. So what do you do? You have to suppress all the
information that would cause people to think that the Saudis were the people
that he was talking about with the bullhorn at the World Trade Center and get
the country prepared and willing to go to war against a country which was
subsequently found out to have virtually, if not totally, nothing to do with
JAY: Right. Bob, I know you have to leave, so I
just want to focus on this line: “You don’t have everybody moving in the same
direction without there being a head coach somewhere who was giving them
instructions as to where he wants them to move.” And that’s in reference to me
talking about the various examples of American intelligence agencies that in
fact did generate intelligence that could have prevented 9/11 if it had been
followed up. And I had asked you if there was a deliberate culture created to
the American intelligence agencies of not wanting to know, which in itself
could prohibit the sharing of information that people talk about. You mentioned
to me in this interview that in the famous memo, bin Laden plans to attack the
United States, that in the subsequent memo that usually goes out to heads of
agencies, that that was omitted, which one would think would have gone to head
of agencies in order to take precautions. You mentioned the immigration, the
border official who’s chastised. This was because there’d been a guideline
handed down from the White House, if I understand it correctly, not to stop
Saudis from coming into the country, even if under normal protocol you would
have stopped them. So who’s the coach?
GRAHAM: Well, I think the coach is the president of the United
States. He’s the only one who could have commanded agencies, from the
Department of State to the Treasury Department, to the intelligence community,
to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, to all act in the same manner,
because they are all ultimately responsible to the president.
JAY: So, I mean, that does suggest that given
the president’s relationship with Bandar and lots of evidence that Bandar is in
the thick of the 9/11 conspiracy, that it’s very likely that this–I don’t know
how else to say this–President Bush and, I assume, Dick Cheney, who was up to
his eyeballs in this as well, create a culture of not wanting to know amongst
the intelligence agencies. And it starts with the demotion of Richard Clarke,
who was the antiterrorism czar, and apparently even after George Tenet briefs
President Bush: in his first briefing, according to Tenet, he tells Bush the
number-one national security threat to the United States is al-Qaeda and bin
Laden; and then he demotes the guy who’s supposed to be in charge of the fight
against al-Qaeda and bin Laden, Richard Clarke. And is there not at the very
least a very strong suggestion that the back door was open for this type of
attack? Don’t know that there’s any evidence the White House knew what was
coming, but Bandar certainly had a pretty good idea what was coming.
GRAHAM: Again, these are exactly the questions to which I hope
that the information that was gathered subsequent to the writing of the 28
pages, in response, in many cases, to the trails that were first outlined–of
course, we’ve lost 13 years. We should have been doing this not in 2016 but in
2002, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, etc. But we are where we are.
people are asking, you know, does it make any difference now, 15 years later?
Why don’t we move on? A prominent official in the FBI told me in 2011 to get a
life and stop pestering them about this. I think it makes a lot of
difference–justice to the families that have suffered so grievously, our
national security. The Saudis, thinking that they have a status of immunity
from the United States, have continued to fund terrorist organizations and
continued to train the next generation of terrorists in Wahhabist mosques and
schools, feeling that there’s going to be no negative reaction from the United
And I think
this has had an enormously detrimental impact on the American people. The
presidential election is now well underway, and we’re every day seeing the
depth of public cynicism and a sense of disconnection between the government
and the people. And I believe that acts of secrecy such as we’ve been talking
about are a significant part of that public attitude.
JAY: Can I suggest an alternative theory? If all
this is true, what might have motivated it is a real convergence of interests
between the Saudi regime and President Bush and Dick Cheney and the neocons
around them. We know there’s a document that comes out called Project for the
New American Century, which essentially calls for regime change, first of all
in Iraq, then in Syria, and the ultimate prize being Iran. And we know the
Saudis are extremely motivated to try to overthrow the regime in Iran. They
hate the Iranians, and it frames itself as hating Shia. And it’s certainly a
convergence of interests between the Saudi government and al-Qaeda that hate
Shia probably more than they hate America. And, of course, Bush-Cheney’s stated
objective was regime change in Iran. In fact, there was a time when they hoped
to go to war with Iran, and perhaps only generals from the Pentagon stopped it
from happening, that there was a real convergence of interests to create the
conditions of what was called, in that Project for the New American Century,
the need for a “new Pearl Harbor”, that they’re conniving in this. There’s no
other way to say it.
GRAHAM: A lot of intriguing questions. I hope that we will have
some answers. I only hope we don’t have to wait another decade and a half to
get at the business of providing those answers.
JAY: That’s very much for joining us, Senator.
GRAHAM: Thank you very much. I appreciate this opportunity and
the very incisive questions that you’ve asked. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to
do it again as we learn more about this tragedy.
JAY: Great. Thank you very much.
you for joining us on The Real News
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March 30th, 2019 - by Aaron Mate / The Real News Network Radio Interview
(May 27, 2017) — AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.
At the NATO
summit in Brussels, President Trump urged alliance members to pay what he
called their fair share. He cited three main threats, terrorism, immigration,
DONALD TRUMP: The NATO of the future must include
a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and
on NATO’s eastern and southern borders. These grave security concerns are the
same reason that I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenburg and
members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute
their fair share and meet their financial obligations.
AARON MATE: Trump has come under criticism for
declining to openly endorse Article 5, NATO’s mutual aid clause. It stipulates
that NATO allies come to the others’ defense in the event of an attack. While
that’s been the main focus there are some critics who say NATO’s existence
causes the very problems it now faces. David Gibbs is a Professor of History at
the University of Arizona.
DAVID GIBBS: Thank you for having me.
AARON MATE: Thanks for joining us. So President
Trump’s comments at NATO are receiving a lot of attention because he declined
to openly endorse that mutual aid clause I mentioned, Article 5. That’s been
the main focus. What do you think we should be talking about when we talk about
NATO’s role today?
DAVID GIBBS: Well, there’s a larger issue which is that NATO’s main function since the end of the Cold War has been to in very obvious ways create new security threats that didn’t exist before. I’d say that’s been its main contribution to international relations, increasing security threats. One can be very specific about that. Number one, NATO expansion into Eastern Europe clearly antagonized Russia and also violated a 1990 agreement the US had not to expand NATO and I’d say is the main factor that triggered the new Cold War the US is now having with Russia which is extremely dangerous since Russia has 1,000 nuclear warheads. It’s also very expensive, by the way, since the new Cold War with Russia is going to be the main factor contributing to US continuing military buildup.
AARON MATE: Professor Gibbs, Professor Gibbs,
let me cut in there actually just to address this one point and then we’ll go
to your others. You know, the counterpoint to that, what you’ll hear often, is
that the new Cold War was provoked by Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
DAVID GIBBS: Well, this is a very longstanding
issue. There basically was no security threat from Russia at all in the 90s.
They were doing nothing threatening to the US in the 90s and then the United
States expanded NATO. Many longstanding Russia specialists including George F
Kennan pointed out that there was no purpose to expanding NATO. Russia was
doing nothing threatening and all this would do is antagonize Russia and
trigger a new cold war and that’s exactly what happened. Virtually all the
aspects of US Russian conflict have been triggered as I would see it by NATO.
It was NATO that expanded into the former Communist states of Eastern Europe.
It was NATO that violated a 1990 agreement as I mentioned. It was NATO that
then expanded into the Baltic States which had been part of the Soviet Union.
We must ask
a counterfactual here, which is this. How would the United States feel if
Russia were to include a military alliance with Mexico let us say? The US would
not appreciate it. They would see it as a security threat and Russia sees
Western and NATO expansion into Eastern Europe exactly the same way and it was
predicted that they would see it in the same way. So what NATO has done really
is triggered a conflict with Russia that was totally unnecessary and, yes, this
is something very definitely triggered by the West. Russia’s responding to a
Western confrontation that was triggered by the West.
AARON MATE: Let me quote you from the scholar
Richard Sakwa who specializes in the Ukraine. He says, “There’s a fateful
geographical paradox. NATO exists to manage the risks created by its
existence.” Your take on that?
DAVID GIBBS: Exactly. That’s exactly right,
basically. NATO first creates security threats and then it uses the security
threats to justify its existence. One can look at this as kind of a make-work
program really for the uniformed militaries and the military industries in both
Western Europe and in the United States. If you’re a part of the military
producing sector in Western Europe or the United States, these constant
security threats that are being generated are really a very positive thing.
Because after all they generate new interest in what you’re doing and also new
contracts. For most people however I think the main effect is a) it’s very
expensive and b) the main result of this expense is to increase insecurity and
danger of nuclear war. It would seem to me this is a very foolish game the
United States and NATO is playing here, one that has already gone very badly
and is likely to continue to go very badly.
AARON MATE: Let’s talk about what’s currently
happening right now between Russia and its neighbors in Europe. There are now
100s of warplanes participating in military exercises near Russia’s border. In
Trump’s speech that we played that clip of him speaking to the NATO summit. He
cited Russia as one of three main threats aside from immigration which, you
know, he’s ran this long-time xenophobic campaign against refugees, as well as
terrorism. Can you talk about the current state right now tensions between
Russia and NATO in Europe and your concerns about what threats might escalate
in that realm?
DAVID GIBBS: Well, the main flash point here, of
course, has been the Ukraine, the Ukrainian civil war. The reason you’ve had
this civil war, well, there are a number of reasons obviously. One of the
principal ones is that there has been a continuing effort by the United States
and some Western European states to try and bring the Ukraine into NATO. It’s
very divisive within the Ukraine because approximately half the population of
the Ukraine tends to lean toward Russia not the West but it’s particularly
destabilizing from the standpoint of Russia which would view any effort to
bring the Ukraine into NATO as a very immediate security threat given the very
long border that they share. Again the comparison would be Russia concluding an
alliance with Mexico. I think that more than anything else triggered the breakdown
of stability within the Ukraine.
other factors as well, it’s very complicated but I think the effort to bring
the Ukraine into NATO which was totally unnecessary has in fact triggered
insecurity and triggered security threats that didn’t really exist before. I
think that that’s very dangerous.
factor about any aspect of bringing Ukraine into NATO is that indeed it would
by the nature of the NATO structure trigger a requirement that the United
States and Western Europe would be required to use armed force to defend the
Ukraine in any war with Russia or it could be interpreted that way at the very
least. Again that’s extremely dangerous because obviously it could bring the US
into direct confrontation with a nuclear armed Russia. I don’t see any gains
for anybody from anything like that happening but that’s a real possibility if
the Ukraine were to join NATO. Again, that has been on the table formally since
AARON MATE: Okay, now let’s talk about other
context in which NATO plays a role in or potentially plays a role in internal
security threats. There was just this horrible suicide bombing in Manchester.
Now the bomber was born in Britain but his father trained with Libyan rebels
who sort of were heavily involved in the fight against Muammar Qaddafi and
whose power increased in the wake of the NATO-led bombing that overthrew
Qaddafi and the bomber actually trained not only in Libya but also in Syria. Is
there a connection possibly between this Manchester bombing and NATO?
DAVID GIBBS: Well there have been a number of
reports in the British press indicating multiple Libyan connections to this
terrorist attack in Manchester so, yes, it does look like that the Libyan
intervention of 2011 when NATO was instrumental in overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi
has not only destabilized Libya and North Africa but indeed it has fueled a new
source of terrorism in the world. So again you have the perverse situation that
NATO supposedly exists to protect the security of its members has indeed
increased the insecurity of its members by destabilizing Libya and generating
terrorism. That at least is how this terrorist attack in Manchester is starting
add there are many cases where this has happened. You know, the United States
and its allies overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan which is now in its second
decade of war. Saddam Hussein was overthrown in Iraq, also an extended war
basically that has resulted from that. Both of these overthrows just like the
one in Libya have fueled increased terrorism. ISIS was born of course amidst
the instability created by the war on terror. So really you have an extended
series of iterations whereby the United States and in Libya NATO more directly
has destabilized countries that were previously stable and then they become
generators of terrorism and insecurity. The existence of NATO makes more likely
future situations like this. If you have something like NATO sitting around you
want to use it. There’s always a pressure to use it to do things like regime
change. Almost invariably the regime change makes the situation worse in terms
of breeding new instability and new insecurity. That I think is the main legacy
of NATO is increased insecurity.
AARON MATE: So given that what do you think
movement should be calling for? Do you think NATO should be abolished?
DAVID GIBBS: Yes, I think it should be abolished.
I think it has no positive function. It really should have been abolished right
after the end of the Cold War. Its main function during the Cold War was of
course to repel a prospective Soviet invasion of Western Europe. With the end
of the Soviet Union in 1991 NATO literally had no function whatsoever. It
should have gone out of business. You know, the way things work in the real
world is that when you get a large bureaucratic institution like NATO you get a
vast series of interest groups built up around it both in Western Europe and in
the United States. Quite naturally these interest groups lobbied successfully
it would seem in favor of finding some new function for NATO. So NATO really
has been something again of a jobs program for a series of vested interest
groups but the cost is being borne by the entire world in terms of the
increased insecurity, also very high expense. Maintaining NATO is extremely
expensive with no positive results whatsoever so abolishing NATO I think is
long overdue. It should have happened in the early 90s.
AARON MATE: Well, Professor David Gibbs, want to
thank you for joining us. David Gibbs is a Professor of History at the
University of Arizona. Professor Gibbs, thank you.
DAVID GIBBS: Thank you.
AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The
WASHINGTON (March 27, 2019) — The Pentagon has sent to
Congress a letter containing a list of bases most at risk from climate
change threats within the next 20 years.
The bases include Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.; and the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas.
The locations top a list of Air Force, Navy and Army
installations most at risk from climate change, sent to Congress on March 22
after a group of lawmakers demanded more information from a Pentagon report in
The list “includes scoring and weighting of the five
climate-related hazards (recurrent flooding, wildfire, drought,
desertification, and permafrost thaw) based on the immediacy of the threat,”
writes undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment Ellen Lord.
“The Department has been and will continue to be proactive in
developing comprehensive policy, guidance, and tools to mitigate potential
climate impacts, with a focus on robust infrastructure, sound land management
policies, and increased energy resilience,” she wrote.
Around Washington, D.C., several sites make the Army, Air Force
and Navy lists, including Fort Belvoir, Va., and Fort Meade, Md., both at risk
for recurrent flooding; Joint Base Andrews, Md., at risk for flooding, drought
and wildfires; and Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia Bolling, at
risk for flooding and drought.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam
Smith (D-Wash.), along with fellow committee members Jim
Langevin (D-R.I.), and John
Garamendi (D-Calif.), sent a letter to the Pentagon demanding
the information that Congress had ordered it to include, such as the lists,
specific mitigation measures to alleviate climate risks at installations,
and cost estimates for such efforts.
Lawmakers now appear equally unhappy with the Pentagon’s latest
version of the report, which Langevin likened to “a student rushing to finish a
“The Department’s methodology remains opaque. The revised report
continues to leave off overseas bases, and it fails to include massive military
installations like Camp Lejeune. Most importantly, it continues to lack any
assessment of the funds Congress will need to appropriate to mitigate the ever
increasing risks to our service members,” Langevin said in a statement sent to
The Hill on Wednesday.
“I have repeatedly made myself available to the Department to
clarify the intent behind the specific language of the statute providing for
the climate report. No one from the Department has ever taken me up on my
offer. Given this record, the assurances from the Secretary that he cares about
resiliency ring hollow,” he said.
The list is released as Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson
on Wednesday urged Congress to provide $4.9 billion in
supplemental funding over the next several years to repair Tyndall Air Force
Base, Fla., damaged last year by Hurricane Michael, and Offutt Air Force Base,
Neb., which was flooded last week.
Tyndall and Offutt did not make it on the Pentagon’s top risk list for the Air Force. Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes
Air Force Needs Almost $5 Billion To Recover From Hurricane, Flood Damage
(March 28, 2019) — The
U.S. Air Force says it needs $4.9 billion in new funding over the next two and
a half years to cover the costs of rebuilding two air bases hit by natural
About one-third of Offutt Air Force
Base, in eastern Nebraska, was underwater earlier this month as flooding hit
large swaths of the Midwest. And Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida
Panhandle was hit hard by Hurricane Michael in October.
The Air Force is asking for $1.2
billion in supplemental funding for fiscal year 2019 and $3.7 billion for
fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Congress would need to approve the funding.
“This storm, if we don’t get a
supplemental, is going to affect the rest of the Air Force and our ability to
operate,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation. “We desperately need
the supplemental to recover from the natural disaster that hammered Tyndall and
She added that 61 projects — consisting
largely of operations and maintenance — at air bases in 18 states would not
happen if the supplemental disaster funding does not come through.
She estimated the cost of the hurricane
at Tyndall was about $750 million in
this year’s operation and maintenance funds, with 95 percent of buildings
damaged, while “we haven’t even begun to estimate fully what the impact at
Offutt is going to be.”
She said recovery efforts so far at
Tyndall have relied on “robbing” funding from other accounts,
“just to try to cope and get through.”
The request for additional money comes
as President Trump has called for repurposing $3.6 billion in
military construction funding to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Wilson denied the supplemental funding
request was related to the wall. “No no, it’s a completely different issue.
This is about recovering from the natural disaster, the Hurricane Michael that
hit Tyndall and now the flooding in Nebraska,” she said.
The Air Force fiscal year 2020 budget
proposal is for $165 billion, Wilson said.
in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial,
March 29th, 2019 - by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J S Davies / Common Dreams
While we can’t guarantee that candidates will stick to their campaign promises, we still must ask this vital question: What prospects for peace might each of them bring to the White House?
(March 27, 2019) — Forty-five years
after Congress passed the War Powers Act in the wake of the Vietnam War, it has
finally used it for the first time, to try to end the
U.S.-Saudi war on the people of Yemen and to recover its constitutional
authority over questions of war and peace. This hasn’t stopped the war
yet, and President Trump has threatened to veto the bill. But its passage in
Congress, and the debate it has spawned, could be an important first step on a
tortuous path to a less militarized U.S. foreign policy in Yemen and beyond.
While the United
States has been involved in wars throughout much of its history, since the 9/11
attacks the U.S. military has been engaged in a series of wars that have dragged on for almost two
decades. Many refer to them as “endless wars.” One of the basic
lessons we have all learned from this is that it is easier to start wars than
to stop them. So, even as we have come to see this state of war as a kind of
“new normal,” the American public is wiser, calling for less military intervention and more congressional oversight.
The rest of the
world is wiser about our wars, too. Take the case of Venezuela, where the Trump
administration insists that
the military option is “on the table.” While some of Venezuela’s
neighbors are collaborating with U.S. efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan
government, none are offering their own armed forces.
The same applies
in other regional crises. Iraq is refusing to serve as a staging area for a
U.S.-Israeli-Saudi war on Iran. Traditional Western allies of the U.S. oppose
Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and want peaceful
engagement, not war, with Iran. South Korea is committed to a peace process
with North Korea, despite the erratic nature of Trump’s negotiations with North
Korea’s Chairman Kim Jung Un.
So what hope is
there that one of the parade of Democrats seeking the presidency in 2020 could
be a real “peace candidate”? Could one of them bring an end to
these wars and prevent new ones? Walk back the brewing Cold War and arms race
with Russia and China? Downsize the U.S. military and its all-consuming
budget? Promote diplomacy and a commitment to international law?
Ever since the
Bush/Cheney administration launched the present-day “Long Wars,” new
presidents from both parties have dangled superficial appeals to peace during
their election campaigns. But neither Obama nor Trump has seriously tried to end
our “endless” wars or rein in our runaway military spending.
opposition to the Iraq war and vague promises for a new direction were enough
to win him the presidency and the Nobel
Peace Prize, but not to bring us peace. In the end, he spent more on the military than
Bush and dropped more bombs on more countries, including a ten-fold increase in CIA drone strikes. Obama’s
main innovation was a doctrine of covert and proxy wars that reduced U.S.
casualties and muted domestic opposition to war, but brought new violence and
chaos to Libya, Syria and Yemen. Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan, the fabled
“graveyard of empires,” turned that war into the longest U.S. war
since the U.S. conquest of
Native America (1783-1924).
was also boosted by false promises of peace, with recent war veterans
delivering critical votes in the swing states of Pennsylvania,
Michigan and Wisconsin. But Trump quickly surrounded himself with generals and
neocons, escalated the warsin Iraq, Syria, Somalia and
Afghanistan, and has fully backed the Saudi-led war in Yemen. His hawkish
advisers have so far ensured that any U.S. steps toward peace in Syria,
Afghanistan or Korea remain symbolic, while U.S. efforts to destabilize Iran
and Venezuela threaten the world with new wars. Trump’s complaint, “We don’t win any more,” echoes through his presidency,
ominously suggesting that he’s still looking for a war he can “win.”
While we can’t
guarantee that candidates will stick to their campaign promises, it is
important to look at this new crop of presidential candidates and examine their
views—and, when possible, voting records—on issues of war and peace. What
prospects for peace might each of them bring to the White House?
has the best voting record of any candidate on war and peace issues, especially
on military spending. Opposing the oversized Pentagon budget, he has only voted
for 3 out of 19 military
spending bills since
2013. By this measure, no other candidate comes close, including Tulsi
Gabbard. In other votes on war and peace, Sanders voted as requested by Peace
Action 84% of the time from 2011 to 2016, despite some
hawkish votes on Iran from 2011-2013.
contradiction in Sanders’ opposition to out-of-control military spending has
been his support for
the world’s most expensive and wasteful weapon system: the trillion-dollar F-35
fighter jet. Not only did Sanders support the F-35, he pushed—despite local
opposition—to get these fighter jets stationed at the Burlington airport for
the Vermont National Guard.
In terms of
stopping the war in Yemen, Sanders has been a hero. Over the past year, he and
Senators Murphy and Lee have led a sustained effort to shepherd his historic
War Powers bill on Yemen through the Senate. Congressman Ro Khanna, whom
Sanders has chosen as one of his 4 campaign co-chairs, has led the parallel
effort in the House.
Sanders’ 2016 campaign
highlighted his popular domestic proposals for universal healthcare and social
and economic justice, but was criticized as light on foreign policy. Beyond
chiding Clinton for being “too
much into regime change,” he
seemed reluctant to debate her on foreign policy, despite her hawkish record.
By contrast, during his current presidential run, he regularly includes the
Military-Industrial Complex among the entrenched interests his political revolution
is confronting, and his voting record backs up his rhetoric.
U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria and opposes U.S. threats of war
against Venezuela. But his rhetoric on foreign policy sometimes demonizes
foreign leaders in ways that unwittingly lend support to the “regime
change” policies he opposes – as when he joined a chorus of U.S.
politicians labeling Colonel Gaddafi of Libya a “thug and a murderer,” shortly before U.S.-backed thugs
actually murdered Gaddafi.
Open Secrets shows
Sanders taking in over $366,000 from the “defense industry” during
his 2016 presidential campaign, but only $17,134 for his 2018 Senate reelection
So our question
on Sanders is, “Which Bernie would we see in the White House?”
Would it be the one who has the clarity and courage to vote “No” on
84% of military spending bills in the Senate, or the one who supports military
boondoggles like the F-35 and can’t resist repeating inflammatory smears of
foreign leaders? It is vital that Sanders should appoint genuinely progressive
foreign policy advisors to his campaign, and then to his administration, to
complement his own greater experience and interest in domestic policy.
candidates shy away from foreign policy, Congressmember Gabbard has made
foreign policy—particularly ending war—the centerpiece of her campaign.
She was truly
impressive in her March 10 CNN Town
Hall, talking more honestly about U.S. wars than any other
presidential candidate in recent history. Gabbard promises to end
senseless wars like the one she witnessed as a National Guard officer in Iraq.
She unequivocally states her opposition to U.S. “regime change”
interventions, as well as the New Cold War and arms race with Russia, and supports
rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. She was also an original cosponsor of
Rep. Khanna’s Yemen War Powers bill.
actual voting record on war and peace issues, especially on military spending,
is not nearly as dovish as Sanders’. She voted for 19 of 29 military
spending bills in the
past 6 years, and she has only a 51% Peace Action voting record. Many of the votes
that Peace Action counted against her were votes to fully fund controversial
new weapons systems, including nuclear-tipped cruise missiles (in 2014, 2015
and 2016); an 11th U.S. aircraft-carrier (in 2013 and 2015); and various parts
of Obama’s anti-ballistic missile program, which fueled the New Cold War and
arms race she now decries.
Gabbard voted at
least twice (in 2015 and 2016) not to repeal the much-abused 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force,
and she voted three times not to limit the use of Pentagon slush funds. In
2016, she voted against an amendment to cut the military budget by just
1%. Gabbard received $8,192 in “defense” industrycontributions for
her 2018 reelection campaign.
believes in a militarized approach to counterterrorism, despite studies showing
that this feeds a self-perpetuating cycle of violence on both sides.
She is still in
the military herself and embraces what she calls a “military
mindset.” She ended her CNN Town Hall by saying that being
Commander-in-Chief is the most important part of being president. As with
Sanders, we have to ask, “Which Tulsi would we see in the White
House?” Would it be the Major with the military mindset, who cannot
bring herself to deprive her military colleagues of new weapons systems or even
a 1% cut from the trillions of dollars in military spending she has voted
for? Or would it be the veteran who has seen the horrors of war and is
determined to bring the troops home and never again send them off to kill and
be killed in endless regime change wars?
made her reputation with her bold challenges of our nation’s economic
inequality and corporate greed, and has slowly started to stake out her foreign
policy positions. Her campaign website says that she supports “cutting our
bloated defense budget and ending the stranglehold of defense contractors on
our military policy.” But, like Gabbard, she has voted to approve over
two-thirds of the “bloated” military
spending bills that
have come before her in the Senate.
Her website also
says, “It’s time to bring the troops home,” and that she supports
“reinvesting in diplomacy.” She has come out in favor of the U.S.
rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement and has also proposed legislation that
would prevent the United States from using nuclear weapons as a first-strike
option, saying she wants to “reduce the chances of a nuclear
Her Peace Action voting record exactly matches Sanders’ for the
shorter time she has sat in the Senate, and she was one of the first five
Senators to cosponsor his Yemen War Powers bill in March 2018. Warren
took in $34,729 in “Defense” industrycontributions for
her 2018 Senate reelection campaign.
With regards to
Israel, the Senator angered many of her liberal constituents when, in 2014, she supported Israel’s
invasion of Gaza that left over 2,000 dead, and blamed the civilian casualties
on Hamas. She has since taken a more critical position. She opposed a
bill to criminalize boycotting Israel and condemned Israel’s use of deadly
force against peaceful Gaza protesters in 2018.
following where Sanders has led on issues from universal healthcare to
challenging inequality and corporate, plutocratic interests, and she is also
following him on Yemen and other war and peace issues. But as with
Gabbard, Warren’s votes to approve 68% of military
spending bills reveal
a lack of conviction on tackling the very obstacle she acknowledges: “the
stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy.”
announced her candidacy for president in a lengthy speech in her native Oakland, CA, where she
addressed a wide range of issues, but failed to mention U.S. wars or military
spending at all. Her only reference to foreign policy was a vague statement
about “democratic values,” “authoritarianism” and
“nuclear proliferation,” with no hint that the U.S. has contributed
to any of those problems. Either she’s not interested in foreign or military
policy, or she’s afraid to talk about her positions, especially in her hometown
in the heart of Barbara Lee’s progressive congressional district.
One issue Harris
has been vocal about in other settings is her unconditional support for Israel.
She told an AIPAC
conference in 2017, “I
will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for
Israel’s security and right to self-defense.” She demonstrated how far
she would take that support for Israel when President Obama finally allowed the
U.S. to join a UN Security Council resolution condemning illegal Israeli
settlements in occupied Palestine as a “flagrant violation” of international
law. Harris, Booker and Klobuchar were among 30 Democratic (and 47 Republican)
Senators who cosponsored a bill to withhold U.S. dues to the UN over
grassroots pressure to #SkipAIPAC in 2019, Harris did join most of the other
presidential candidates who chose not to speak at AIPAC’s 2019 gathering. She
also supports rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement.
In her short time
in the Senate, Harris has voted for six out of eight military
spending bills, but she did cosponsor and vote for Sanders’ Yemen
War Powers bill. Harris was not up for reelection in 2018, but took in
$26,424 in “Defense” industry contributions in the 2018 election
Sanders, Senator Gillibrand has the second best record on opposing runaway military
spending, voting against 47% of military spending bills since 2013.
Her Peace Action voting record is 80%, reduced mainly by the same
hawkish votes on Iran as Sanders from 2011 to 2013. There is nothing on
Gillibrand’s campaign website about wars or military spending, despite serving
on the Armed Services Committee. She took in $104,685 in “defense” industry contributions for her 2018 reelection
campaign, more than any other senator running for president.
Gillibrand was an
early cosponsor of Sanders’ Yemen War Powers bill. She has also supported a
full withdrawal from Afghanistan since at least 2011, when she worked on a withdrawal bill with then Senator Barbara Boxer and
wrote a letter to Secretaries Gates and Clinton, asking for a firm commitment
that U.S. troops would be out “no later than 2014.”
cosponsored the Anti-Israel Boycott Act in 2017 but later withdrew her
cosponsorship when pushed by grassroots opponents and the ACLU, and she voted
against S.1, which included similar provisions, in January 2019. She has
spoken favorably of Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea. Originally a Blue Dog
Democrat from rural upstate New York in the House, she has become more liberal
as a Senator for New York state and now, as a presidential candidate.
has voted for 16 out of 19 military
spending bills in the
Senate. He also describes himself as a “staunch advocate for a
strengthened relationship with Israel,” and he cosponsored the Senate bill
condemning the UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in
2016. He was an original cosponsor of a bill to impose new sanctions on
Iran in December 2013, before eventually voting for the nuclear agreement in
Booker was one of the first five cosponsors of Sanders’ Yemen War Powers bill,
and he has an 86% Peace Action voting record. But despite
serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he has not taken a public position for
ending America’s wars or cutting its record military spending. His record
of voting for 84% of military spending bills suggests he would not make major
cuts. Booker was not up for reelection in 2018, but received $50,078 in “defense” industry contributions for the 2018 election
is the most unapologetic hawk of the senators in the race. She has voted
for all but one, or 95%, of the military
spending bills since
2013. She has only voted as requested by Peace Action 69% of the time, the lowest among senators
running for president. Klobuchar supported the U.S-NATO-led regime change
war in Libya in 2011, and her public statements suggest that her main condition
for the U.S. use of military force anywhere is that U.S. allies also take part,
as in Libya.
In January 2019, Klobuchar
was the only presidential candidate who voted for S.1, a bill to reauthorize
U.S. military aid to Israel that also included an anti-BDS provision to allow
U.S. state and local governments to divest from companies that boycott
Israel. She is the only Democratic presidential candidate in the Senate
who did not cosponsor Sanders’ Yemen War Powers bill in 2018, but she did
cosponsor and vote for it in 2019. Klobuchar received $17,704 in “defense” industry contributions for her 2018 reelection
Congressmember O’Rourke voted for 20 out of 29 military
spending bills (69%)
since 2013, and had an 84% Peace Action voting record. Most of the
votes Peace Action counted against him were votes opposing specific cuts in the
military budget. Like Tulsi Gabbard, he voted for an 11th
aircraft-carrier in 2015, and against an overall 1% cut in the military budget
in 2016. He voted against reducing the number of U.S. troops in Europe in 2013
and he twice voted against placing limits on a Navy slush fund. O’Rourke
was a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and he took in $111,210
from the “defense” industry for his Senate campaign, more than any
other Democratic presidential candidate.
obvious affinity with military-industrial interests, of which there are many
throughout Texas, O’Rourke has not highlighted foreign or military policy in
his Senate or presidential campaigns, suggesting that this is something he
would like to downplay. In Congress, he was a member of the corporate New
Democrat Coalition that progressives see as a tool of plutocratic and corporate
Congressmember Delaney provides an alternative to Senator Klobuchar at the
hawkish end of the spectrum, after voting for 25 out of 28 military
spending bills since
2013, and earning a 53% Peace Action voting record. He took in
$23,500 from“Defense” interests for his last Congressional campaign,
and, like O’Rourke and Inslee, he was a member of the corporate New Democrat
Jay Inslee, the
Governor of Washington State, served in Congress from 1993-1995 and from
1999-2012. Inslee was a strong opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq, and
introduced a bill to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez for approving
torture by U.S. forces. Like O’Rourke and Delaney, Inslee was a member of
the New Democrat Coalition of corporate Democrats, but also a strong voice for
action on climate change. In his 2010 reelection campaign, he took in $27,250
in “defense” industry contributions. Inslee’’s campaign is
very focused on climate change, and his campaign website so far does not
mention foreign or military policy at all.
Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang
candidates from outside the world of politics both bring refreshing ideas to
the presidential contest. Spiritual teacher Williamson believes, “Our country’s way
of dealing with security issues is obsolete. We cannot simply rely on brute
force to rid ourselves of international enemies.” She recognizes
that, on the contrary, the U.S. militarized foreign policy creates enemies, and
our huge military budget “simply increase(s) the coffers of the
military-industrial complex.” She writes, “The only way to make peace
with your neighbors is to make peace with your neighbors.”
proposes a 10 or 20 year plan to transform our wartime economy into a
“peace-time economy.” “”From massive investment in the
development of clean energy, to the retrofitting of our buildings and bridges,
to the building of new schools and the creation of a green manufacturing
base,” she writes, “it is time to release this powerful sector of
American genius to the work of promoting life instead of death.”
Andrew Yang promises to “bring our military spending
under control,” to “make it harder for the U.S. to get involved in
foreign engagements with no clear goal,” and to “reinvest in
diplomacy.” He believes that much of the military budget “is
focused on defending against threats from decades ago as opposed to the threats
of 2020.” But he defines all these problems in terms of foreign
“threats” and U.S. military responses to them, failing to recognize
that U.S. militarism is itself a serious threat to many of our neighbors.
Julian Castro, Pete Buttigieg and John Hickenlooper
Castro, Pete Buttigieg nor John Hickenlooper mention foreign or military policy
on their campaign websites at all.
has yet to throw his hat into the ring, he is already making
videos and speeches trying
to tout his foreign policy expertise. Biden has been engaged in foreign policy
since he won a Senate seat in 1972, eventually chairing the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee for four years, and becoming Obama’s vice president.
Echoing traditional mainstream Democratic rhetoric, he accuses Trump of
abandoning U.S. global leadership and wants to see the U.S. regain its place as
the “indispensable leaderof the free world.”
himself as a pragmatist, saying that
he opposed the Vietnam War not because he considered it immoral but because he
thought it wouldn’t work. Biden at first endorsed full-scale nation-building in
Afghanistan but when he saw it wasn’t working, he changed his mind, arguing
that the U.S. military should destroy Al Qaeda and then leave. As vice
president, he was a lonely voice in the Cabinet opposing Obama’s escalation of the war in 2009.
Biden is a
He has stated that
the Democrats’ support for Israel “comes from our gut, moves through our
heart, and ends up in our head. It’s almost genetic.”
There is one
issue, however, where he would disagree with the present Israeli government,
and that is on Iran. He wrote that “War with Iran is not just a bad
option. It would be a disaster,”
and he supported Obama’s entry into the Iran nuclear agreement. He would
therefore likely support re-entering it if he were president.
emphasizes diplomacy, he favors the NATO alliance so that “when
we have to fight, we are not fighting alone.” He ignores that
NATO outlived its original Cold War purpose and has perpetuated and expanded its
ambitions on a global scale since the 1990s – and that this has predictably
ignited a new Cold War with Russia and China.
lip service to international law and diplomacy, Biden sponsored the
McCain-Biden Kosovo Resolution, which authorized the U.S. to lead the NATO
assault on Yugoslavia and invasion of Kosovo in 1999. This was the first major
war in which the U.S. and NATO used force in violation of the UN Charter in the
post-Cold War era, establishing the dangerous precedent that led to all our
Like many other
corporate Democrats, Biden champions a misleadingly benign view of the
dangerous and destructive role the U.S. has played in the world over the past
20 years, under the Democratic administration in which he served as
vice-president as well as under Republican ones.
support slight cuts in the Pentagon budget, but he is not likely to challenge
the military-industrial complex he has served for so long in any significant
way. He does, however, know the trauma of war firsthand, connecting his
son’s exposure to military burn pits while serving in Iraq and Kosovo to his
fatal brain cancer, which might make him think twice about launching new wars.
On the other hand, Biden’s long experience and skill as an advocate for the military-industrial complex and a militarized U.S. foreign policy suggest that those influences might well outweigh even his own personal tragedy if he is elected president and faced with critical choices between war and peace.
The United States
has been at war for over 17 years, and we are spending most of our national tax
revenues to pay for these wars and the forces and weapons to wage them.
It would be foolish to think that presidential candidates who have little or
nothing to say about this state of affairs will, out of the blue, come up with
a brilliant plan to reverse course once we install them in the White House. It
is especially disturbing that Gillibrand and O’Rourke, the two candidates most
beholden to the military-industrial complex for campaign funding in 2018, are
eerily quiet on these urgent questions.
But even the candidates
who are vowing to tackle this crisis of militarism are doing so in ways that
leave serious questions unanswered. Not one of them has said how much
they would cut the record military budget that makes these wars possible –
and thus almost inevitable.
In 1989, at the
end of the Cold War, former Pentagon officials Robert McNamara and Larry Korb
told the Senate Budget Committee that the U.S. military budget could safely be cut by 50% over
the next 10 years. That obviously never happened, and our military spending
under Bush II, Obama and Trump has
outstripped the peak
spending of the Cold War arms race.
In 2010, Barney
Frank and three colleagues from both parties convened a Sustainable
Defense Task Force that
recommended a 25% cut in military spending. The Green Party has endorsed a 50% cut in
today’s military budget. That sounds radical, but, because inflation-adjusted
spending is now higher than in 1989, that would still leave us with a larger
military budget than MacNamara and Korb called for in 1989.
campaigns are key moments for raising these issues. We are greatly encouraged
by Tulsi Gabbard’s courageous decision to place solving the crisis of war and
militarism at the heart of her presidential campaign. We thank Bernie Sanders
for voting against the obscenely bloated military budget year after year, and
for identifying the military-industrial complex as one of the most powerful
interest groups that his political revolution must confront. We applaud
Elizabeth Warren for condemning “the stranglehold of defense contractors
on our military policy.” And we welcome Marianne Williamson, Andrew
Yang and other original voices to this debate.
But we need to hear a much more vigorous debate about war and
peace in this campaign, with more specific plans from all the candidates. This
vicious cycle of U.S. wars, militarism and runaway military spending drains our
resources, corrupts our national priorities and undermines international
cooperation, including on the existential dangers of climate change and nuclear
weapons proliferation, which no country can solve on its own.
We are calling for this debate most of all because we mourn the
millions of people being killed by our country’s wars and we want the killing
to stop. If you have other priorities, we understand and respect that. But
unless and until we address militarism and all the money it sucks out of our
national coffers, it may well prove impossible to solve the other very serious
problems facing the United States and the world in the 21st century.
work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
March 29th, 2019 - by Sandra Laville / The Guardian
Ad campaigns hide investment in a huge expansion of oil and gas extraction
(March 21, 2019) — The
largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153
million) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate
change, according to a new report.
BP and ExxonMobil were the main companies leading the
field in direct lobbying to push against a climate policy to tackle global
warming, the report said.
they are using social media to successfully push their agenda to weaken and
oppose any meaningful legislation to tackle global warming.
the run-up to the US midterm elections last year $2 milliion was spent on
targeted Facebook and Instagram ads by global oil giants and their industry
bodies, promoting the benefits of increased fossil fuel production, according
to the report published on Friday by InfluenceMap.
Separately, BP donated $13m to a campaign, also
supported by Chevron, that successfully stopped a carbon tax in Washington state —$1 million
of which was spent on social media ads, the research shows.
Collins, the report’s author, analysed corporate spending on lobbying, briefing
and advertising, and assessed what proportion was dedicated to climate issues.
said: “Oil majors’ climate branding sounds increasingly hollow and their
credibility is on the line. They publicly support climate action while lobbying
against binding policy. They advocate low-carbon solutions but such investments
are dwarfed by spending on expanding their fossil fuel business.”
the Paris climate agreement in 2015 the large integrated oil and gas companies
said they supported a price on carbon and formed groups like the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which promote
the report states, there is a glaring gap between their words and their
five publicly listed oil majors —ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total —now spend about $195 million
a year on branding campaigns suggesting they support action against climate
the report said these campaigns were misleading the public about the extent of
the oil companies’ actions because while publicly endorsing the need to act,
they are massively increasing investment in a huge expansion of oil and gas
extraction. In 2019 their spending will increase to $115 billion, with just 3%
of that directed at low carbon projects.
said in a statement: “We firmly reject the premise of this report. We are very
clear about our support for the Paris agreement, and the steps that we are
taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy.
make no apology for talking to policymakers and regulators around the world to
make our voice heard on crucial topics such as climate change and how to
said it disagreed with the report’s findings. “Chevron is taking prudent,
cost-effective actions and is committed to working with policymakers to design
balanced and transparent greenhouse gas emissions reductions policies that
address environmental goals and ensure consumers have access to affordable,
reliable and ever cleaner energy.”
The successful lobbying and direct opposition to policy measures to tackle global warming have hindered governments globally in their efforts to implement policies after the Paris agreement to meet climate targets and keep warming below 1.5C.
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