The US Doesn’t Need Another Cold War To Improve Itself

From The American Conservative:

Hal Brands urges us to look on the bright side of decades of destructive international rivalry:

But on balance, the Cold War was a force for equality because the reality of race relations in the US was incompatible with America’s efforts to win hearts and minds in the Third World.

It is true that there was significant progress on civil rights during the Cold War, but it is quite the illogical leap to conclude that this progress happened because of the rivalry with the Soviets. There is even less reason to think that a U.S.-Chinese rivalry would lead to something similar happening in the future. It would be much more accurate to say that the US made that progress in spite of the regimentation and militarism of that period. If we want to protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, we would do well to steer clear of anything resembling a new Cold War.

In just the last few months, we have seen how quickly hostility towards the Chinese government has encouraged a spike in attacks and derogatory language against Asian-Americans. It does not take clairvoyance to know that a sustained U.S.-Chinese rivalry will produce more of this ugliness, and it is likely to lead to many violations of civil liberties committed in the name of national security. We know very well from the last twenty years that the toxic mix of threat inflation and fear-mongering over terrorism have fueled anti-Muslim prejudice and led to discriminatory policies based solely on nationality and/or religion. Ginning up hostility towards another nation inevitably harms the minority and immigrant communities that have ties to that nation, and the hysterical nationalism that has accompanied our major international rivalries exposes diaspora communities to discrimination, surveillance, physical attacks, and arrest. In the most extreme case in WWII, it led to the mass internment of more than a hundred thousand American citizens because of their ethnicity.

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No Evidence of ‘Self-Defense’ in Soleimani’s Killing

From The American Conservative:

The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions has said in a new report that the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year was in violation of international law, and noted that the US had provided no evidence that it had acted in self-defense:

The attack violated the UN Charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

Callamard’s judgment is correct, but then we didn’t need a UN official to tell us what was right in front of us six months ago. The UN Charter prohibits the use of force except for the purpose of self-defense. The US was clearly not engaged in self-defense when it launched an attack to kill a senior member of a foreign government’s military on the territory of a third country. The US not only committed an act of aggression against Iran, but it trampled on Iraq’s sovereignty as well. Everything that the Trump administration told the public about this attack back in January was untrue or misleading, and its claim that the president had authority to launch this attack because of the 2002 Iraq war AUMF was spurious nonsense.

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Israel Lobby Orgs Grab Covid-19 CARES Act Funds for Itself, IDF Facilities, and Sketchy Israeli Companies

Israel lobby organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America ($2-5 million), Friends of the IDF ($2-5 million) and the Israeli American Council ($1-2 million) are grabbing huge 100% forgivable loans from the CARES Act PPP program.

According to SBA data released on Monday, Israeli’s Bank Leumi has doled out a quarter to a half billion dollars under the PPP program, despite being called out for operating in the occupied West Bank.

Leumi has given sweetheart deals to fellow Israeli companies Oran Safety Glass (which defrauded the US Army on bulletproof glass contracts) and Energix, which operates power plants in the occupied Golan Heights and West Bank.

This exchange took place today on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

This video clip with additional information is available on IRmep’s YouTube Channel.

Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book The Israel Lobby Enters State Government. He is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy IRmep in Washington, D.C. which co-organizes IsraelLobbyCon each year at the National Press Club.

Charlie Savage, NYT, CIA Climb Down From Russia Bounties Hoax

The headline blares that it’s a big “administration” conspiracy to play up doubts and play down proofs of the bounties plot, but the text itself reveals that it’s the National Intelligence Council that did the new review and that even the CIA, the agency out in front on this story, has only “medium” or “moderate” confidence on the reality of the plot. Meanwhile DoD and NSA both still say they give it low confidence and cannot verify.

You gotta appreciate the desperate spin of the Times reporters and their editors here:

“A memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation’s top intelligence official acknowledged that the C.I.A. and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence, according to three officials.”

Oh how cynical of the National Intelligence Council to “emphasize” doubts instead of running with wild unverified claims! Their anonymous sources assure us that the memo “was intended to bolster the Trump administration’s attempts to justify its inaction” over the alleged Russian interference. But intelligence officials tell the New York Times lots of things.

I buried the lead nearly as badly as they did, but here it is before they go meandering off saying nothing and refusing to acknowledge the importance of the following admission:

“The memo said that the C.I.A. and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence — meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty — that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the G.R.U., offered the bounties, according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.

“But other parts of the intelligence community — including the National Security Agency, which favors electronic surveillance intelligence — said they did not have information to support that conclusion at the same level, therefore expressing lower confidence in the conclusion, according to the two officials. A third official familiar with the memo did not describe the precise confidence levels, but also said the C.I.A.’s was higher than other agencies.”

So Charlie Savage admits that his whole stupid story is based on a medium-confidence conclusion of the CIA against the views of the NSA and DoD. I wonder if he noticed the same people gave the story to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post at the same time as an obvious attempt to use their stenography in a plot to prevent Trump from considering an “early” withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And then check out this from Scott Ritter’s piece at ConsortiumNews.com:

“’Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets,’ the Times reported. And yet, when Rukmini Callimachi, a member of the reporting team breaking the story, appeared on MSNBC to elaborate further, she noted that ‘the funds were being sent from Russia regardless of whether the Taliban followed through with killing soldiers or not. There was no report back to the GRU about casualties. The money continued to flow.’

“There is just one problem — that’s not how bounties work.”

…And they will keep on jerking that rusty old chain.