The Jaysh al-Nasr rebel group in Syria, part of the US-backed Free Syrian Army, has posted footage of its fighters celebrating the shoot-down of a Russian Suhkoi-25 jet fighter in the Idlib province of Syria. It is the first time a Russian fighter has been shot down by Syrian rebels attempting to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
The plane was apparently brought down by a man-portable air defense system (ManPADS) surface-to-air missile. According to press reports, the pilot ejected from the plane safely but was killed by the Syrian rebels on the ground.
The 2017 US military spending bill provided authorization for the Department of Defense to arm the rebels with shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles or ManPADS. At the time, the Russians vigorously objected to the dramatic US move to provide sophisticated weaponry to the rebels, claiming (rightfully it turns out) that “[t]he relevant decision also poses a direct threat to aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces…”
The scenario where a US-backed, US-supplied jihadist group in Syria uses US weapons to shoot down a Russian plane and then murders the pilot on the ground should be seen as a near-nightmare escalation, drawing the US and Russia terrifyingly closer to direct conflict.
Confirming that the US military presence inside Syria had little to do with fighting ISIS, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unveiled in detail today the real US strategy for Syria: overthrow of the Assad government.
In a speech at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and introduced by President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary Tillerson vowed that the United States military would continue to occupy Syrian territory until three conditions are met:
First: ISIS must be destroyed.
This condition is made all the more problematic by the well-reported fact that it is the United States government that at every turn seems to pull ISIS chestnuts out of the fire. From handing them weapons to allowing them to escape when they are trapped in places like Raqqa, it almost seems like the US does not want to really see the end of ISIS.
The media frenzy over “Russiagate” seems to get progressively more stupid as desperation takes hold. To sustain the sense of frenzy – which Russiagate cultists call “drip drip drip” – they need new sensational bombshells every day. Except there aren’t any. So the media makes them up.
Case-in-point this breathless piece from the Capitol Hill rag, The Hill, screeching paranoia over the fact that an advisor to candidate Trump’s presidential campaign MET WITH AN ADVISOR TO HUNGARY’S PRIME MINISTER!!!! OMG!!! Drip Drip Drip!!! GET ME MUELLER, STAT!!!
What makes the latest earth-shattering revelation all the more ridiculous is that reading the article it becomes painfully obvious that the author has no clue that Hungary is actually a strategic ally of the United States as a fellow member of the NATO alliance. Thus a meeting between a representative of the prospective President of the United States and a representative of the Prime Minister of one of the United States’ closest allies, Hungary, is portrayed as some kind of smoking gun while in fact it should be considered the most normal thing on earth.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson swore into office a new Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Dr. A. Wess Mitchell became the Trump Administration’s top diplomat for Europe, “responsible for diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, and with NATO, the EU and the OSCE.”
Readers will recall that the position was most recently held during the Obama Administration by Kagan family neocon, Victoria Nuland, who was key catalyst and cookie provider for the US-backed coup overthrowing the elected government in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s virulently anti-Russia position was a trademark of the neocon persuasion and she put ideology into action by “midwifing,” in her own words, an illegal change of government in Ukraine.
It was Nuland’s coup that laid the groundwork for a precipitous decay in US/Russia relations, as Washington’s neocons peddled the false line that “Russia invaded Ukraine” to cover up for the fact that it was the US government that had meddled in Ukrainian affairs. The coup was bloody and divisive, resulting in a de-facto split in the country that continues to the day. Ukraine did not flourish as a result of this neocon scheme, but has in fact been in economic free-fall since the US government installed its preferred politicians into positions of power.
"We’re long past the time we should have gotten out of Afghanistan," US Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) told the Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security today. The Congressman, who sits on the Ron Paul Institute’s Board of Advisors, brought in quotes from Georgie Anne Geyer, William F. Buckley, Jr., and even the New York Times, to make the case that our involvement in places like Afghanistan for years on end weaken the United States. "I cannot understand how any true fiscal conservative can be in favor of dragging this war on forever," he told the Committee.
Rep. Duncan has long made the case that true conservatives should not support massive and endless military adventurism overseas. Eight years ago, he wrote:
Conservatives who oppose big government and huge deficit spending at home should not support it in foreign countries just because it is being done by our biggest bureaucracy, the Defense Department. We have now spent $1.5 trillion that we did not have – that we had to borrow – in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sadly, Rep. Duncan could have simply re-read that statement today, as aside from the numbers not much has changed since 2009. Certainly "victory" is no closer today than it was back then.
Rep. Duncan expressed regret at the meaninglessness of the ongoing wars in his statement to the Committee today, adding that, "It’s very sad that we have allowed all these trillions of dollars to be spent and all those lives that have been lost needlessly."
With Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act set to expire at the end of the year, Congress is scurrying to find a way to preserve the post-9/11 authority for the government to conduct mass surveillance of US citizens’ communications. They have come up with another Orwellian bill, the USA LIBERTY Act, which would fix none of Fourth Amendment problems of the original bill but would make the original unconstitutional bill permanent. So “Liberty” to Congress is a mass surveillance state. The Cato Institute’s Patrick Eddington joins today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report to discuss 702 and its possible replacement bill: