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Doug Bandow

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Souce: The American Conservative

Congress is preparing to vote to spend trillions of dollars Washington doesn’t have to keep afloat an economy staggering under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Even before Uncle Sam was hopelessly overdrawn, expecting to run an annual trillion dollar deficit well into the future.

Yet the bipartisan war lobby continues to promote confrontation and conflict with nations as diverse as Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and China. Even in good economic times it was increasingly difficult to underwrite Washington’s attempt to run the world. Today the effort is pure folly.

Last year the Congressional Budget Office published The 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook. Among the conclusions of this profoundly depressing read:

“Large budget deficits over the next 30 years are projected to drive federal debt held by the public to unprecedented levels—from 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 to 144 percent by 2049.” Much depends on continuing low interest rates, which seem certain to jump as borrowing mushrooms. “If interest rates were one percentage point higher each year than CBO projects, debt in 2039 would be 199 percent of GDP.” “If lawmakers changed current laws to maintain certain major policies now in place—most significantly, if they prevented a cut

Souce: The American Conservative

George W. Bush (Official White House photo) and Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

One could be forgiven for thinking that Donald Trump had morphed into George W. Bush. The U.S. military is occupying Iraq. American forces are fighting and killing Iraqis. And Washington refuses to withdraw.

Last week, Iraqis, allied with but not controlled by Iran, attacked a U.S. base. The administration retaliated. Two days later, antagonists, unknown but suspected, launched another assault. A third rocket volley hit earlier this week. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to strike back “as necessary,” which could mean every couple days.

Iraq has become a transmission belt of conflict. That’s why it’s time for American troops to leave. Now.

Invading Iraq was one of the worst foreign policy decisions any president has ever made. Withdrawing American forces in December 2011 was one of the best. A continued U.S. presence would not have stabilized Iraq. Rather, disparate Iraqi factions would have united in opposition. Shia groups like the Mahdi Army, led by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, would have joined Sunnis, including ISIS, in targeting Americans. With U.S. backing, the Baghdad government would have had even less incentive to moderate its sectarian policies.

Unfortunately, America’s

Souce: The American Conservative

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper (L) and South Korean National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo hold a news conference at the Pentagon February 24, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. and South Korea have deadlocked in negotiations over Seoul’s payment to support American forces. President Donald Trump demanded a fivefold increase. Shocked South Korean officials refused the administration’s demands, which some observers called blackmail. If the two sides fail to agree, Washington has said it will furlough the 9,000 South Koreans who work for the U.S. military at the end of the month.

Unorthodox, perhaps, but a succession of presidents have pressed for greater burden-sharing with little effect. Washington’s allies had come to believe that American policymakers were determined to intervene abroad irrespective of costs. So Washington’s requests were routinely ignored. No longer.

Prior to the end of World War II, American officials thought very little of the Korean peninsula. But Japan’s defeat left the “Hermit Kingdom” up for grabs. A Japanese colony with Chinese communist forces and Soviet armies along its border, Korea could have been easily absorbed by Joseph Stalin. However, he agreed instead to divide the peninsula. The occupation zones turned into separate

Souce: The American Conservative

OSAKA, JAPAN – JUNE 29: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump before a bilateral meeting during the G20 Summit on June 29, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Chinese president Xi Jinping is determined to make his nation a weltmacht. However, the coronavirus is proving to be a significant bump in the road. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party’s botched response to the epidemic will further undermine public trust in the regime.

Nevertheless, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will almost certainly recover and grow again. Increasingly it cannot be ignored, whether in economic, political, or military affairs. However, ever more Americans are alarmed by the PRC’s rise. Some see it as the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany reincarnated, and thus claim it must not only be contained but isolated. The risk of economic as well as military conflict is rising.

No doubt many American policymakers turned out to be Pollyannas regarding China. A quarter century of hostility was abandoned when President Richard Nixon met Mao Zedong in 1972. Beijing tilted toward Washington and against Moscow and soon opened up economically. Personal autonomy also flourished as

Souce: The American Conservative

Weapons seized from Iran by crew of the USS Normandy, including 358 surface-to-air missile components and “Dehlavieh” anti-tank guided missiles, February 9, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lehman)

The U.S. has spent five years helping Saudi Arabia commit war crimes and slaughter civilians in an aggressive war against Yemen. Washington’s subservience to the Saudi royal family, whose regime shares few interests and even fewer values with America, has made the U.S. complicit in tens of thousands of needless deaths.

The Trump administration recently demonstrated a particularly toxic mix of hypocrisy and sanctimony regarding Yemen. The Pentagon complained that naval seizures by American patrols working on behalf of the Saudis had captured blasting caps for improvised explosive devices and components of anti-tank, anti-ship, and anti-aircraft missiles. The latter, called 358s, are known as “loitering” missiles, containing two different motors and avoiding normal defensive measures. An unnamed Pentagon official complained to the New York Times that the 358s could down American helicopters and tilt-wing Ospreys—though why that matters is unclear, since Washington supposedly is not running combat missions in Yemen.

Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, charged: “They are illicitly smuggled for a purpose and

Souce: The American Conservative

The cost of Washington’s endless wars fall most heavily on those who suffer under American bombs and drones. Yet the plight of foreigners is rarely mentioned. When asked about a half million Iraqi babies killed by American economic sanctions, then-UN ambassador Madeleine Albright famously replied: “We think the price is worth it.”

That was characteristic of Washington’s overwhelming hubris. Members of “the Blob,” as America’s foreign policy elite has been called, believe they are uniquely qualified to run the world. Only they can predict the future, assess humanity’s needs, develop solutions. And anyone who resists their dictates deserves his or her terrible fate.

No doubt, foreign policy sometimes presents difficult choices. For instance, in World War II, the U.S. backed tyrannical Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union against monstrous Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. During the Cold War, Washington allied with a variety of authoritarian regimes.

There was a logic to such decisions. However, those choices also left many policymakers with moral qualms. Such self-doubt seems to be almost completely absent from the Blob today. Who among advocates of the Iraq War have acknowledged the horrors they loosed upon the people of Iraq and its surrounding nations? Most resist taking any responsibility.

First,

Souce: The American Conservative

Supporters of the Alternative fuer Deutschland political party (AfD), including AfD head in Thuringia Bjoern Hoecke (C-L), march with a banner that reads: “Stop Merkel! Secure borders, drop the CDU!” (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The political center is shrinking in the Federal Republic of Germany. Former communists already have insinuated their way into state government. Members of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) are attempting to follow suit. The latter’s efforts have set off much caterwauling on the left, but such hypocritical attempts to denounce and isolate the AfD—to enforce a political cordon sanitaire—will only make the party more extreme.

Germany is supposed to be the stable foundation of the European Union. But the country’s two traditional governing parties have seen their support drain away. In the 2017 Bundestag elections, the Christian Democrats (joined by the Christian Social Union in Bavaria) claimed a total of just 33 percent of the popular vote—down 8.6 percent from the previous election in 2013. The Social Democrats (SPD) took in 20.5 percent of the vote—a drop of 5.2 percent from 2013. Current polls show the two, which currently rule in a “grand coalition,” no longer commanding a popular majority.

In contrast, the extremes are

Souce: The American Conservative

A US military armoured vehicle drives in a patrol past an oil well in Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province on November 6, 2019. (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Last month, American military forces physically blocked Russian troops from proceeding down a road near the town of Rmelan, Syria. U.S. troops were acting on orders of President Trump, who said back in October that Washington would be “protecting” oil fields currently under control of the anti-Assad, Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces.

Meanwhile, the Russians are acting on behalf of Syrian president Bashar Assad, who says the state is ultimately in control of those fields. While no shots were fired in this case, the next time Moscow’s forces might not go so quietly.

U.S. officials offered few details about the January stand-off, but General Alexus Grynkewich, deputy commander of the anti-ISIS campaign, said: “We’ve had a number of different engagements with the Russians on the ground.” Late last month the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported: “Tensions have continued to increase significantly in recent days between U.S. and Russian forces in the northeastern regions of Syria.”

Stationed in Syria illegally, with neither domestic nor international legal authority, American personnel