A U.S. Soldier Died In Niger. What On Earth Are We Doing There?

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By Peter Certo for Other Words – In our military-revering culture, it’s a strange thing for a president to start a war of words with the grieving families of slain soldiers. Strange, yes. But from Donald Trump’s campaign season feud with the parents of Humayun Khan, who died protecting fellow soldiers in Iraq, to his recent feud with the mourning widow of La David Johnson, who died on patrol in Niger, it’s no longer surprising. At root in the latest spat is a comment Trump made to La David’s widow Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia thought that remark was disrespectful — she later said it “made me cry.” Beyond insensitive, though, there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t true. Why, after all, should La David have expected to die in a dusty corner of Niger — a Saharan country most Americans (and, one suspects, their president) couldn’t find on a map? And where the U.S. isn’t actually at war? If you were surprised to learn the U.S. has nearly a thousand troops in Niger, you’re not alone. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Armed Forces Committee, told NBC he “had no idea.” Neither did Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat. Well, the surprises may keep coming.

A Chapter In A Declining Empire

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BY Greg Godels (Zoltan Zigedy) for ZZs Blog. Those familiar with the history of Cold War US repression are not surprised by liberal complicity in the anti-Russia madness today. It should be no surprise that the liberals and the petty-bourgeois left betray the truth, make common cause with the forces of hate, distrust, and prejudice. In times of crisis, that’s what they too often do. Outside of a few notable voices, liberal/left intellectuals are buying the anti-Russia frenzy. Despite the fact that US security services have an unbroken record of lies and manipulations, they are today manufactured to be the saviors of US “democracy.” The entertainment industry has cast “deep throat” Mark Felt– a crazed, disgruntled FBI official, bitter because he didn’t inherit the directorship from J. Edgar Hoover– as the hero of the Watergate debacle. Industry moguls stretch credulity to portray him as the courageous forerunner of the sleazy James Comey. How quickly the liberals have forgotten the shame of 2003, when a ruling class-induced frenzy of lies and distortions prompted an unprovoked US invasion of a sovereign country.

The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War

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By Ajamu Baraka for Counter Punch – Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2018: “I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared and unconstitutional war…What we have today is basically unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, any place upon the globe.” With these words, Paul became one of the few voices to oppose the obscenity that is known as U.S. war policy. But only two other senators joined him: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But there is a wrinkle here: Paul is not concerned with the size of the military budget. He’s pointing his finger at the continuation of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF) of 2001, which was the “legal” basis for the U.S. global “war on terror.” He wants Congress to re-assess this legislation that has prompted endless wars abroad. After Paul’s amendment to the NDAA was defeated, the Senate went on to approve it with a vote of 89-9 Monday in what the New York Times correctly identified as a bi-partisan effort, to authorize a military budget of $696 billion—an increase in the military budget of almost $75 billion and well over the $54 billion that Pres. Donald Trump had originally proposed.

Delivering Art In The Empire

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By Hiroyuk Hamada for Counterpunch. It’s been over a couple of decades since I left the DC area. For the bulk of the time, I was like a soldier whose sole mission was the exploration of visual expression. I literally woke up with art and went to bed with art. But at some point, perhaps, my skill in finding connections among visual elements, in finding a profound perspective, started to show me a wider reality beyond the framework of commodification, consumption, hierarchy of financial power and capitalism. I am an artist who believes that the power of art can connect us to a larger framework of humanity spreading beyond the corporatism, colonialism and militarism of the empire. I believe art can capture the rare moment of our consciousness, seamlessly merging with the eternity of time and space as a part of the universe itself. For me, museums that house the epiphany of humanistic expressions are sanctuaries of our consciousness; they are that of shrines and churches for the believers; they are that of sacred grounds for those who seek humanity in our connections to nature and earth. Art can give us humility to be human, as well as courage to be human. The unfortunate attempts to replace our sanctuary of consciousness with a subserviency to the neo-feudal hierarchy of money and violence must be renounced in the strongest terms.

New Campaign: Close All US Military Bases On Foreign Soil

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. A new campaign to close all US military bases abroad has been announced by the Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases. This campaign strikes at the foundation of the US empire confronting its militarism, corporatism and imperialism. We urge you to endorse this campaign. The coalition has issued a unity statement which describes its intent: “the goal of raising public awareness and organizing non-violent mass resistance against U.S. foreign military bases” describing US foreign military bases as “the principal instruments of imperial global domination and environmental damage through wars of aggression and occupation, and that the closure of U.S. foreign military bases is one of the first necessary steps toward a just, peaceful and sustainable world.” U.S. foreign military bases are NOT in defense of U.S. national, or global security. They are the military expression of U.S. intrusion in the lives of sovereign countries on behalf of the dominant financial, political, and military interests of the ruling elite.

Alfred McCoy: The Coming Fall Of US Empire

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By Jeremy Scahill for the Intercept. “The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy writes. Imagining the real-life impact on the U.S. economy, McCoy offers a dark prediction: “For the majority of Americans, the 2020s will likely be remembered as a demoralizing decade of rising prices, stagnant wages, and fading international competitiveness. After years of swelling deficits fed by incessant warfare in distant lands, in 2030 the U.S. dollar eventually loses its special status as the world’s dominant reserve currency. Suddenly, there are punitive price increases for American imports ranging from clothing to computers. And the costs for all overseas activity surges as well, making travel for both tourists and troops prohibitive. Unable to pay for swelling deficits by selling now-devalued Treasury notes abroad, Washington is finally forced to slash its bloated military budget. Under pressure at home and abroad, its forces begin to pull back from hundreds of overseas bases to a continental perimeter. Such a desperate move, however, comes too late.

North Korea Does Not Threaten World Peace, The US Does

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By William Boardman for Reader Supported News. President Donald Trump is 71 and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is 27, but if they ever met, would there be a grown-up in the room? One of them knows full well that North Korea is not a threat to world peace and is not even a serious threat to South Korea. The one who knows that is not Donald Trump. Or if he does know it, he’s choosing to inflate the North Korean “threat” even more than some of his predecessors. But wait, didn’t North Korea just fire a missile in the general direction of the United States? Yes indeed, and like every other North Korean missile (except the ones that blew up on launch), it hit smack dab in the Sea of Japan, unpleasantly for aquatic life but a danger to no one else. This is, after all, exactly what the US does periodically to the Pacific Ocean from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, generally causing yawns around the world.

Newsletter: Color Revolution Comes Home?

The System Is Guilty

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The United States has perfected the art of regime change operations. The US is the largest empire in world history with more than 1,000 military bases and troops operating throughout the world. In addition to military force, the US uses the soft power of regime change, often through ‘Color Revolutions.’ The US has been building its empire since the Civil War era, but it has been in the post-World War II-time period that it has perfected regime change operations.US military presence around the world Have the people of the United States been the victims of regime change operations at home? Have the wealthiest and the security state created a government that serves them, rather than the people? To answer these questions, we begin by examining how regime change works and then look at whether those ingredients are being used domestically.

The Roots Of US Empire: Military Actions In The 1800s

Drawing from 1899. Uncle Sam stands on map of China which is being cut up by German, Italy, England, Russia, and France (Austria is in backgr. sharpening shears); Uncle Sam clutches "Trade Treaty with China" and says: "Gentleman, you may cut up this map as much as you like, but remember, I'm here to stay, and you can't divide Me up into spheres of influence". From Library of Congress.

By Tom Correa for American Cowboy Chronicles. American interest after the Civil War spread like wild fire. Along with our interest, came influence – and in many cases problems. Contrary to what some would say, it was the American Spirit that moved people to venture from our shores. The same American Pioneer Spirit that moved thousands upon thousands of Americans to go West and settle – also moved Americans around the globe to explorer new lands. It was on April 9th, 1865, that Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia. General Grant allows Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permits soldiers to keep horses and mules. On March 9th and 10th, 1865, a full month before Lee’s surrender and the official end of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy landed U.S. Marines in Panama to protect the lives and property of American residents because of a revolution that was getting out of hand. From June 20th to July 7th, 1866, in China, U.S. Navy and Marines retaliated against a group of Chinese for their assault on the American consul at Newchwang.

Ban Nuclear Weapons? We Need To Ban U.S. Arrogance

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By Diana Johnstone for CounterPunch. The nuclear war peril is manmade, and some of the men who made it can even be named, such as James Byrnes, Harry Truman and General Lester Groves. The United States government consciously and deliberately created this danger to human life on earth. Faced with the United States’ demonstrated capacity and moral readiness to wipe out whole cities with their devices, other countries built their own deadly devices as deterrents. Those deterrents have never been used, which lulls the public into believing the danger is past. But the United States, the only power already guilty of nuclear manslaughter, continues to perfect its nuclear arsenal and to proclaim its “right” to launch a “first strike” whenever it chooses. The United States naturally calls for boycotting the nuclear arms ban conference.

US Role In Creating North Korean Fortress State

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By Robert J. Barsocchini for Counter Currents. it is an American “myth” that the “North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders.” In fact, the North/South border “had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949.” Part of what made the US’s ultimate destruction of Korea (which involved essentially a colossal version of one of the cross-border incursions) “inevitable” was the goal of US planners to access or control “global… resources, markets and cheaper labor power”. In its full invasion of the North, the US acted under the banner of the United Nations. However, the UN at that time was “largely under the control of the United States”, and as Professor Carl Boggs (PhD political science, UC Berkeley) puts it, essentially was the United States. (28) While it is still today the world’s most powerful military empire, the US was then at the peak of its global dominance – the most concentrated power-center in world history.

Sowing The Seeds Of Berta Caceres, US Tour

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By Beverly Bell for Other Worlds. Two Honduran cultural workers, feminists, and close friends of Berta Cáceres will tour 20 US cities between April 20 and May 23, 2017 to “sow the seeds of Berta.” Singer-songwriter Karla Lara and writer Melissa Cardoza will use music, writing, story, and discussion to grow the international movement for justice and grassroots feminism. Their tour’s goal is not to impart answers, but to spark collective ideas and engagement through creativity and dialogue. ¡Berta Vive! Series-logoThe tour will also promote Cardoza’s book, 13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance, recently published in English with translation by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle. Black Lives Matter Network co-creator Alicia Garza says the book “is rooted in a love of freedom that will grip your heart. Cardoza… ensures that, in memory of our sister Berta Cáceres, feminisms are three-dimensional and span multiple experiences.”

Newsletter: Syrian Missile Attack, An Opportunity To Challenge Militarism

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The US attack on Syria, in reaction to the unproven allegations that President Assad used chemical weapons on the people of Syria, was not a surprise. It took President Trump a few days of discussions with his military advisers to decide to use the tactic of bombing a military target with 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. The Russians were given advance warning, personnel and some equipment were removed from the site and because a majority of Tomahawks missed their target, very little damage was done to the site. There are reports of Syrian aircraft flying out of the facility after the bombing. But damage was done to cities nearby the site and at least 25 civilians were killed, including 8 children and dozens were injured. This was an illegal act of war under international law.

America: It’s Going To Be A Wild Ride

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By Bruce Gagnon for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. I watched Donald Trump’s inaugural speech yesterday with three other housemates and none of us were impressed. He’s living in another age – I see Trump trying to hang on to the long passed time of American military supremacy and economic domination. One last gasp before the US empire crashes under the weight of its own hypocrisy and contradictions. He said a few things that were decent but one must question them as pure political rhetoric as just a quick review of his cabinet appointments (full of corporate operatives) strongly undercuts his claims that he will return the power to the people that the ‘elites in Washington’ have unfairly taken from them. Trump blames other nations (especially China) for ‘stealing our jobs’ but we all know that it was the absolute greed of the corporations that drove them to close production plants across America and move jobs to places overseas where labor was cheaper and environmental regulations were virtually non-existent.

How The US Empire Will Collapse According To Science

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By Travis Gettys for Raw Story – Sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 attacks warns that American global power will collapse under Donald Trump. Johan Galtung, a Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University, first predicted in 2000 that the “U.S. empire” would wither away within 25 years, but he moved up that forecast by five years with the election of President George W. Bush, reported Motherboard. Now, nearly 17 years later, Galtung predicts that decline could come even quicker under a Trump administration.