William J. Astore on A Curious Aspect of Air Power

Over the past several days, Russia and Israel have lost fighter jets over Syria. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those countries. When jets attack people on the ground, those people tend to fire back (if they have weapons at hand), and sometimes they even hit their targets.

What is interesting is the Russian and Israeli reaction, which was in essence identical: immediate escalation. More air attacks. More bombs. All justified as “reprisal” raids that are couched in terms of self-defense.

The mentality goes something like this: How dare you little people on the ground have the temerity to fire back at us and actually hit our planes? For that you must be punished with more air attacks and more bombs until you stop firing at and hitting our planes.

Continue reading “William J. Astore on A Curious Aspect of Air Power”

Ron Paul asks: Who Is the Aggressor In Syria?

It’s been a couple of weeks of serious escalation in Syria. First, the US attacked and killed some 100 Syrian government-allied troops for launching an operation against a US-funded rebel force that seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government. Then some US-trained rebels shot down a Russian jet fighter. Then Israel began bombing Syria for the 100th or so time. Then Syria shocked the world and shot down an Israeli F-16. Then Israel dropped some more bombs on Syria for what it said was a violation of its sovereignty. Where does it go from here? And why are we still there? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Ike’s Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Alive and Very Well

Look, Ma: More Money! Don’t Worry: We’ll Spend It Wisely

The new Congressional budget boosts military spending in a big way. Last night’s PBS News report documented how military spending is projected to increase by $160 billion over two years, but that doesn’t include “overseas contingency funding” for wars, which is another $160 billion over two years. Meanwhile, spending for the opioid crisis, which is killing roughly 60,000 Americans a year (more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War), is set at a paltry $6 billion ($25 billion was requested).

One thing is certain: Ike was right about the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex.

The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to “rebuild.” And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism.

Even if you’re a supporter of big military budgets, this massive boost in military spending is bad news. Why? It doesn’t force the military to think. To set priorities. To define limits. To be creative.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the expression, “Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.” Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those “sailors” an enormous boost in the loose change they’re carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely?

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Philip Giraldi on the Grassley Memo Shocker – Did The UK Meddle In Our Elections?

The release of the “Grassley Memo” earlier this week should have made headlines, but it didn’t. In addition to confirming key details from the earlier Nunes Memo on FISA abuses, the Grassley memo contained even more details on the incredible manipulation of the 2016 US presidential election. Perhaps the media is ignoring the memo because the manipulation it demonstrates is not the manipulation they want to report. There is no evidence of Russian meddling in the memo. Instead, it looks more and more like British intelligence colluded with the Clinton campaign and key elements in the US intelligence community in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. Think the Brits would never do such a thing? Think again. Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi joins today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report to break down this new information.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

William Astore on Military Parades and Super Bowls

Trump, inspired by the French, wants his own military parade

News that President Trump favors a military parade in Washington D.C., perhaps to coincide with Veterans Day in November, has drawn criticism, and rightly so. The president has a juvenile fascination with parades and other forms of pomp and circumstance, but more than anything I’m guessing he relishes the thought of posing as “The Leader,” reviewing and saluting “his” troops and generals as they pass in review. If only “Cadet Bone Spurs,” the telling nickname that Tammy Duckworth has pegged him with, could don a military uniform for the occasion — his fantasy would be complete.

The idea of a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, complete with tanks and jets (and maybe some big missiles and bombs too?), sounds radical. But is it really that different from other militarized celebrations that America has been witnessing and applauding since 9/11?

Consider this year’s Super Bowl. It was played in a domed stadium, yet there was the obligatory military flyover (featuring A-10 attack planes, which the Air Force ironically wants to get rid of). Fifteen Medal of Honor recipients were celebrated on the field, with one (a Marine) performing the coin toss for the game. A video link showed U.S. troops watching from overseas. In past years, troops featured were usually in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. This year the troops were in South Korea, perhaps because NBC wanted a link to the forthcoming Olympic games, hopefully not because the Trump administration is foreshadowing a “bloody nose” strike against North Korea that would turn that region into a combat zone.

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UN Sanctions Forbid North Korea Hockey Players Getting Hockey Sticks

US Sanctions Likely Preclude Them Getting Uniforms

When the US and UN try to impose new sanctions on North Korea, as they do every few weeks, the question that inevitably rises is: what’s left to sanction. The Winter Olympics are underscoring just how far this has already gone.

Just participating in the hockey event is a challenge. North Korea is forbidden, by UN sanctions, from buying hockey sticks, because they’re “recreational sporting equipment.” In past events, North Korean participants have had to borrow all sticks, and return them before leaving.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. North Korea also has to find a third party to supply uniforms for them, because the uniform sponsor, Nike, is afraid that doing business with them will violate US sanctions.

Across North Korea’s participation, this is a recurring problem. The singers and dancers they agreed to send are coming by ship, but the ship may not have enough fuel. Buying fuel would be in violation of the sanctions, so the ship is stuck en route.

Samsung is giving all the Olympics participants Galaxy Note 8 phones, but some are claiming they count as “dual use” because of their processing power and GPS capabilities. The suggestion again is North Korea might be forced to give phones back at the end of the event.

Olympic games are meant to be a time to emphasize international cooperation, and while North Korea’s involvement started as an exemplar of sports diplomacy, increasingly it underscores just how obscene the anti-North Korea sanctions already are, and how petty they’ve become.