Ever since the Ottoman Empire dissolved and the various world powers got their hands on it, the Middle East has been ensconced in conflict. For much of that time, the United States has been heavily involved in Middle Eastern politics. Specifically, it has recently battled the terrorist groups Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. As a result of President Bush’s occupation of Iraq, Obama’s “War on Terror”, and Trump’s continued refusal to eject troops from the region, America still ravages an entire subcontinent. Despite this damage and death, America remains ineffective at quelling terrorism. Though ISIS has a greatly reduced presence, they and the other groups remain a significant problem for many Middle Easterners. But amidst America’s “well-intentioned” but damaging military action, local armies are also rising up to defend their own homes. The most notable of these is the Kurdish-based army, Rojava.
Our shouting is louder than our actions,
Our swords are taller than us,
This is our tragedy.
we wear the cape of civilization
but our souls live in the Stone Age
These are the words of Nizar Qabbani, the Arab nationalist whose erotic and romantic pen turned into a political one, bashing Arab regimes and culture. Arabs have failed on so many levels; from gender equality to democracy. But most importantly, they have failed on the battleground.
In the words of Nizar: “We went to war, and lost.”
“I open up my wallet and it’s full of blood.” – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
On Sunday morning, following a speech by Iranian President Rouhani that threatened the United States with ‘the mother of all wars,” President Trump rattled off an incendiary verbal warning against the Iranian State via Twitter. In a message that was written in all caps for the world to see, the President demanded that Iran “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.”
This gaudy show of juvenile bullymanship is only the latest in a string of petty and dogged counter-intellectualism that has come to characterize a President who practically embodies “If it bleeds, it leads.” On the topic of American interventionism and a global democracy, Trump’s watery stance has seen him use Bush’s failure in Iraq as a campaign placard while also quietly stroking the dogs of war in response to Iraq’s wealthy and theocratic neighbors to the East. Trump’s blatant messages of unabashed aggression are similar in tone to those of every American President’s position (outside of Obama) when addressing Iran since the fall of the Shah. It brings a consistent and malignantly manufactured campaign of fear and mistrust with Iran that is striking in its uniformity of allegiance from both political ruling classes over the past century.
Americans were quick to lambast and mock the President by editing the tweet to include lyrics to their favorite pop songs. The flippant response from users is telling in its suggestion of two disconcerting truths: first, that the American people don’t take a word Mr. Trump has to say seriously, and more importantly, that they don’t believe they have a real and honest voice in the endless, bloody, transnational pursuit for ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ that has symbolized and consistently dotted American foreign policy throughout their lifetimes. The sad poetry of the anti-imperialistic American politico is written in the meme markets of absurdity and anger.
Of course, much of the discussion regarding Iran is actually, at its core, an uninterrupted debate about Israel. Though we boast about a ‘special relationship’ with The United Kingdom, it is our ‘open secret relationship’ with Israel that has informed so many missteps in the region. Relations between The United States and Israel have only strengthened under Trump’s presidency as he moved the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Many see this action as a symbolic gesture of the unyielding political, ideological and military support for the Zionist state that has often sparred with Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to be pleased with the tweet and called the President’s stance on the ongoing geopolitical unrest “strong.” As long as The United States has a financial and military obligation to Israel, these sorts of complex foreign entanglements will never cease. The complexities of the Iran-Israel relations in no way, shape, or form have any resonance with the fundamental ideas of an American republic and the simple aspirations of common Americans for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In their beds at night and in the fields of Idaho where wheat grows, Americans do not worry about Israel, Iran, or whichever cold war proxy that is drummed up next on the list. These decent people know inherently that it is the elite showmen of the political and media class that demand we place our foreign policy of death and imperialism before the domestic interests of food and family. They know it is rarely the neocolonialist class that is called upon to suffer the toils. It won’t be the President or Congressman’s children who end up dead on the battlefields across the sea.
The major tension between The United States and Iran dates back to the 1950’s when democratically elected President Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized all oil industries of Iran. Mossadegh advocated for secular democracy, demanded sovereignty from the British empire and was a champion of his people. It was the CIA, an unelected body, that overthrew the democracy of Iran in 1953 for their own slighted interests. They installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah against the wishes of the free people of Iran. And the American taxpayer, under the guise of democracy, funded the tyranny of Iran for oil resources through 1979 and the fall of the Shah.
With the triumphs of WWI and WWII at our backs, The New American Empire had taken its unrightful and post-philosophical seat as the ultimate arbitrator of good and peace throughout the free world. The ingrained policy of overextended foreign interventionism has yet to change much in the decades that have followed. Whether Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, or Palestine. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
The list goes on and the names begin to blur. The list grows, the enemies broaden and the financiers get richer. The pitiful truth of our misadventures in the post-classic wars is that they have never been about the intellectual triumphs of our miraculously free society or the merits of our material and philosophical splendor. They have gone against every bold aspiration of peace that lays face up for all to see in our first and bravest documents.
So let us be clear: the good people of the United States have no interest in war with Iran. That 60% of ‘independents’ who have given up on the political process are so disenfranchised by the ballot and the screen that they have given up on an idea without wartime. The American public has no interest in war with Syria, or Libya, or Afghanistan, or Russia, or Iraq. We want to be done with all of them. When the American people see Donald Trump tweeting about Iran, they wonder what stake any of us have in the businesses of people more than 8,000 miles from our shores?
They can’t remember Iran ever attacking an American city (because they haven’t.) They couldn’t name Rouhani if you offered them up a million dollars. When has it ever been our duty to be so pathologically involved and mindlessly uninformed as we are in 2018? Is this about nuclear weapons? If it is, how can we be in any position to lecture? Americans see through the blatant hypocrisy of our demands for a neutered Iranian nuclear program when our country currently holds almost half of the nuclear weaponry in existence. Whether Americans are left or right, they all want a few simple things. They want their family, their food, their property and to be left alone.
This brand of conservative isolationism is not rooted in ‘false comfort’ as George Bush warned during his 2006 State of the Union Address. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted during the Second Iraq War, 42 percent of Americans agreed that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally.” Furthermore, the study found that a staggering 84 percent of Americans preferred “protecting jobs of American workers” to only 24 percent who supported “promoting democracy in other nations.” It wasn’t that George Washington and the founders of our country were cold to the world. It was simply that they understood that bringing justice and peace outside our borders was a fool’s errand with a bottomless pit of unsolvable morality. Washington realized what the scale and scope of global policing meant in its over-extension of resources and personnel.
In his Farewell Speech to the country, President Washington warned of foreign entanglements. Madison, an ideological minarchist, was noted for his belief that the country should possess no standing army unless attacked. When Bush led the makeup war for his father’s disastrous missteps, the President called in over 400,000 reserve troops to fight and die on warm Arabian sands in the name of peace and freedom. Today, the utter size of the United States military is such that there is no going back. The brokers and dealers of blood and tyranny are too entrenched. There will be forever an enemy and Iran is just the latest in a string of foregone conclusions.
The president’s call to action, his drab demand, and fettered foolishness are not representative of Americans I know. They have always wanted, above all, peace. Harmonic, egalitarian, tolerant, loving, peaceful, they seek meaning in their lives. The great lie about contemporary America is this: for all of our terrible, marauding, unjust, vicious, serpentine, blood wars, it is not the people of this country who organize and instruct the death machine. It is not the people who cheer for the denigration of ancient art and the dehumanization of civilized peoples behind the callous drumbeat of ”freedom.’ Wars and more wars. Death and taxes. The ghoulish carousel of private interests and public lies that the American public is made to shoulder. New enemies and faces that never end. Don’t blink, you might miss the next war.
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By Jack Parkos | United States
You’ve probably been to or have seen protests in your life. Many people have signs and flags to spread their message. One common occurrence at protests (typically protests held by libertarians or conservatives), is a yellow flag featuring a rattlesnake and the phrase “DON’T TREAD ON ME”. Many people have seen this flag but little know about it’s history and importance. This is the Gadsden Flag.
As stated above, the flag features a timber rattlesnake, the symbolism for using a snake being one of Ben Franklin’s many ingenious decisions. Ben Franklin was known for his humorous satire. The British had been sending convicted criminals to the Americas. So in 1751, Ben Franklin suggested that, in return for this act, the colonists send rattlesnakes to Britain. The rattlesnake went on to feature in Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon. However, the design of the flag was not made by Franklin.
The name “Gadsden” comes from its designer, General Christopher Gadsden, general for the American Colonies as well as a delegate in the Continental Congress. This flag was later given to Eskes Hopkins, newly named Commander and Chief of the Continental Navy. Hopkins flew this flag on his first mission. Many Marines also used bright yellow drums, portraying the rattlesnake ready to strike, with the motto “DON’T TREAD ON ME”
Many other flags have been inspired from the Gadsden Flag. Several flags with similar meaning and history also feature a rattlesnake. The “Navy Jack” features a snake as well as the phrase “DON’T TREAD ON ME”. The snake, however, is not curled up and the background has the red and white stripes of the American flag.
The deeper meaning of the rattlesnake is a symbol of early America. This is best explained by Ben Franklin.
“I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, “Don’t tread on me.” As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America; and as I have nothing to do with public affairs, and as my time is perfectly my own, in order to divert an idle hour, I sat down to guess what could have been intended by this uncommon device – I took care, however, to consult on this occasion a person who is acquainted with heraldry, from whom I learned, that it is a rule among the learned of that science “That the worthy properties of the animal, in the crest-born, shall be considered,” and, “That the base ones cannot have been intended;” he likewise informed me that the ancients considered the serpent as an emblem of wisdom, and in a certain attitude of endless duration – both which circumstances I suppose may have been had in view. Having gained this intelligence, and recollecting that countries are sometimes represented by animals peculiar to them, it occurred to me that the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America, and may therefore have been chosen, on that account, to represent her.
But then “the worldly properties” of a Snake I judged would be hard to point out. This rather raised than suppressed my curiosity, and having frequently seen the Rattle-Snake, I ran over in my mind every property by which she was distinguished, not only from other animals, but from those of the same genus or class of animals, endeavoring to fix some meaning to each, not wholly inconsistent with common sense.
I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.
Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America? The poison of her teeth is the necessary means of digesting her food, and at the same time is certain destruction to her enemies. This may be understood to intimate that those things which are destructive to our enemies, may be to us not only harmless, but absolutely necessary to our existence. I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ’till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers. Perhaps it might be only fancy, but, I conceited the painter had shown a half formed additional rattle, which, I suppose, may have been intended to represent the province of Canada.
‘Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.
The Rattle-Snake is solitary, and associates with her kind only when it is necessary for their preservation. In winter, the warmth of a number together will preserve their lives, while singly, they would probably perish. The power of fascination attributed to her, by a generous construction, may be understood to mean, that those who consider the liberty and blessings which America affords, and once come over to her, never afterwards leave her, but spend their lives with her. She strongly resembles America in this, that she is beautiful in youth and her beauty increaseth with her age, “her tongue also is blue and forked as the lightning, and her abode is among impenetrable rocks.”
This is flag has a deep meaning to early America. The phrase “Don’t tread on me” represents the rattle of a snake. When a snake rattles it serves as a warning to you to back off. Of course, the snake only engages when it feels threatened. This is the spirit of America. The warning to tyrants, not to tread on the people. What happens when you step on a snake? It will bite – quickly, with deadly force.
But the Gadsden flag still lives on. In modern-day, many libertarians have some form of this symbol. Many conservatives appreciate this flag, too. The flag also was the symbol of the “Tea Party Movement”.’ The flag also was presented in celebration after the death of Osama Bin Laden. Metallica even had a song “Don’t Tread on Me” to honor the flag. Some people consider this flag as important if not more important than the Star spangled Banner.
Yet sadly, in spite of this being a symbol of early America, the tyrants and progressives both want to destroy this flag. Do you own a flag? That may put you on a FBI watch list for being a suspected terrorist. The Gadsden Flag of early America – now considered a threat? But that’s not all – progressives want it banned for “hate speech”. Christopher Gadsden owned slaves. So, some assume that the flag must be associated with slavery. Ironically, it would be a great flag to protest slavery. Ultimately, it’s about American pride and standing up for liberty.
In conclusion, many may try to tread on the Gadsden flag, giving it false history and meaning. True patriots however, will fly this flag with pride. I personally display this symbol in many ways, and encourage you to do the same.
By John Keller | United States
Adam Kokesh is a libertarian political activist, known for his show Adam vs. The Man. He announced his desire to run for President of the United States in 2020 on July 18th, 2013 and officially filed the paperwork on January 16th, 2018. Adam Kokesh is working to #FinallyFreeAmerica.
Keller: You are a veteran of the war in Iraq and a former marine. What was the moment that you decided you were changing from a marine into a political activist?
Kokesh: Some things are just decided for you! When I got out of the Marines, I moved to DC to study at GWU. While I was there, I came across the website for Iraq Veterans Against the War and I realized that I had to have my name on that list and joined right away. I really fell over backwards into full-time activism because I of the welcoming nature of the organization and the movement behind it. When I realized that the story of my experience in Iraq could be used to save lives, I had no choice.
Keller: You wrote a book titled ‘FREEDOM!’. To you what is the message of freedom all about? Why is Libertarianism better than conservatism or liberalism?
Kokesh: Freedom is what you have when no one is forcing their will on you. That is to say that freedom is a state of harmonious coexistence. Freedom is peace. Freedom is love and respect and appreciation for people. A Libertarian is someone who opposes the initiation of force. Why would you settle for anything less? Conservativism and liberalism are just different flavors of statism. Statism is the incorrect belief that it is ok, positive, or ethical for people to force themselves on others. It’s really that simple!
Keller: Trump has taken credit for the booming ‘success’ of the stock market. Is he right to take this credit?
Kokesh: That’s hard to call and I don’t really care. The stock market is a highly manipulated racket. I’m sure some things he does manipulates it up, some things down. Either way, buy Bitcoin. Invest in innovation. Buy real property that can’t be manipulated by government like the stock market.
Keller: There has been a growing movement, often credited in its growing traction to Ron Paul, to ‘End the Fed’. What does this slogan mean to you?
Kokesh: Ron Paul definitely deserves credit for bringing the crimes of the Federal Reserve System to the attention of the American people and his supporters deserve credit for sloganizing his message into, “End the Fed” at his rallies that I attended going back to his 2008 campaign. The slogan has come to mean something much bigger now. To me, it means end the federal government entirely!
Keller: The #LetRonSpeak Scandal quickly went viral. What was your stance on this issue?
Kokesh: The people with the Libertarian Party who decided to decline to give Dr Paul an opportunity to speak at the 2018 convention, National Chair Nick Sarwark and Convention Chair Daniel Hayes, definitely do not represent the base of the party and I hope they are never in positions to make such an embarrassing mistake ever again.
Keller: Arvin Vohra has been stirring up quite a storm online with comments about rape and school shootings and many speculate his actions are harming the Libertarian Party. Where do you stand on this controversy? Should Vice Chairman Vohra step down?
Kokesh: It’s not so much the controversy about “inflammatory” that concerns me so much as his statements advocating for violations of the nonaggression principle. Those clearly go against what the party stands for. He should and will be replaced at the upcoming national convention.
Keller: Recently you were arrested in Texas, mere hours after official filing candidacy for President of the United States. What was this experience like? What charges did the police have against you?
Kokesh: I’ve been arrested over three dozen times relating to my activism, mostly in civil disobedience. This one was unplanned. I can’t say it was scary, but it was disturbing because, as you can see from the video, the officer who pulled me over was determined to arrest me even though I had not committed a crime. He broke multiple laws and violated police procedure in order to come up with an excuse to arrest me after unlawfully ordering me to stop recording. When he entered my vehicle, the first thing he did was turn off the other camera I had rolling. I was jailed for ten days and have still yet to be presented with any official papers regarding my charges or the police report despite my repeated requests. Welcome to the United Police States of America! Fortunately, with self-driving vehicles on the horizon, most of the excuses that police use to harass people will go away.
Keller: Your campaign is on the philosophy of voluntaryism, with a peaceful and prosperous people without the threat of government. When this idea is depicted it is often, almost exclusively, depicted as chaotic anarchism. What makes your vision different from the media portrayed voluntaryism?
Kokesh: I have no idea what you are talking about. I have NEVER heard anyone say that a voluntary society would be chaotic. It is contrary to the very definition. A voluntary society is one in which all human interactions are free of force, fraud, and coercion. As for my campaign, it is based on the practical policy of localization, the idea that political power should be localized as opposed to centralized. Voluntaryism is the philosophy that leads me to that practical policy.
Keller: Within the Libertarian Party there is a philosophical divide between minarchists and voluntaryists. As a voluntaryist, what do you have to say to the question of minarchism? In essence, how is anarchy preferable to minarchism?
Kokesh: There is no such divide. When you join the party, you take a pledge that says, “” That is voluntaryism in pledge form. The people who take that pledge and mean it sometimes identify as minarchists, but they always want whatever the government does to be voluntary. So I’m a minarchist myself in that sense because I’m a voluntaryist. You can have as much government as you want, as long as it’s voluntary! The divide in the party is between people who believe in the Party’s Statement of Principles and take their pledge seriously, and infiltrators like Bob Barr, Gary Johnson, and Bill Weld, who pretend to not understand the pledge they took in order to misrepresent the party. Sadly, many Libertarians are fooled into supporting them, with the obvious disastrous results and negative consequences we saw in the last three election cycles, but the effectiveness of their infiltration would not have been possible without the support of hundreds who infiltrated the delegations of the last three nominating conventions. A big part of my campaign is to encourage people who believe in the principles of the party to be delegates so that isn’t possible again. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that they were able to take so many vacant delegate slots. If I have anything to say about it, they will all be filled with real Libertarians, not infiltrators. So far, our success this year is undeniable. We are halfway through state convention season, and only about a dozen (out of over 1,000) delegate slots are empty.
Keller: You campaign on the peaceful dissolution of the national government. What will that look like in office, how will you accomplish such a goal? What role will Congress play?
Kokesh: On day one, I will sign my one and only executive order declaring the federal government bankrupt and of no authority. I will resign to become “Custodian of the Federal Government” to oversee the process as a bankruptcy agent. The executive order will be as detailed as possible in laying that process out in a clear, legally binding way. Congress will have no authority, but may have some minor role to play in the apportionment of certain agencies and resources. Every federal agency will be either liquidated, localized to the state level, or spun off as a private institution.
Keller: You campaign on dissolving the national government, but often states can be more tyrannical than the national government. As president, what actions would you take against such injustices, if any?
Kokesh: I would have no such authority and will make no promises that I cannot keep. However, the premise of your question needs to be put into perspective. Yes, States can occasionally be more tyrannical than the federal government, but if you added up all the injustices committed by state governments and compared them to the injustices of the federal government, it would be like comparing a schoolyard bully to the mafia! And to be fair, you would first have to subtract all the State injustices made possible by the federal government. More importantly, when people see the benefits of localization, (which they will immediately, because on day one, federal laws will not be enforced) there will be a race among the States to dissolve down to the County level. Then a global race to localize. Eventually, government will be so local that it will be … voluntary.
Keller: Recently, you announced and have been working to implement “Operation Big Easy Book Bomb”. What is this operation and why was it enacted?
Kokesh: We are putting a copy of my book, FREEDOM! in every residential mailbox in New Orleans. 205,000 copies. We want to deliver the message of FREEDOM! directly to the people. Once we show that it can be done there, we will do it in every city in America.
Keller: As of late, the Democratic Party faces a small identity crisis and the Republican Party is losing faith in Donald Trump. What makes you the best candidate for 2020 and what should attract disillusioned voters?
Kokesh: I’m not the best candidate for President. In fact, asking who is the best candidate for President is like asking who would you most want to kick your ass? If your answer is, “NOBODY!” vote for me, because I will resign. I don’t need to attract disillusioned voters. The government is doing a fine job driving them away. We just have to show them that there is an alternative to government: freedom.
Keller: If people are interested in getting involved with joining your campaign, what steps can they take to do so?
Kokesh: Check out KokeshForPresident.com, click on volunteer, and fill out the form. But more importantly, don’t wait for direction and don’t ask permission to spread the message of freedom! Have fun waking people up and do something that you enjoy. Talk to your friends and family about why you care about freedom.
Keller: Do you have an final remarks to the readers, to supporters, and potential voters?
Kokesh: I’m the last President you’ll never need and I approve this message.
I would like to thank Adam Kokesh for his time. Be sure to visit KokeshForPresident.com and be sure to read his book “FREEDOM!”, which you can find here and follow his Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all updates.