Last year’s election was rife was polarization. With bitter fights in states such as Texas, where incumbent Ted Cruz narrowly defeated challenger Beto O’Rourke, the country’s politicians seemed more divided than ever. Many Democrats ran on an anti-Trump line, whereas many Republicans did the opposite. But one thing about the election season was eerily unified: most of the Senate took money from Lockheed Martin and other military industrial complex companies. Continue reading “Have Your Senators Taken Money from Lockheed Martin?”
TJ Roberts | United States
If I broke into your house, I would not be justified. I would be a violent criminal with no respect for private property and personal sovereignty.
If I broke into your house, you would be justified in using force to remove me from your house. You would even be able to use lethal force.
If I broke into your house, I would not be justified in using violence against you when you attempt to remove me. You have the right to do what it takes.
If I broke into your house, everything I do in your house is a breach of your rights, no matter how kind I am about it.
If I broke into your house and you pulled a gun on me, I do not have the right to kill you. I do not have the right to kill your family either.
If my friend told me to break into your house, I still would not be justified. My friend would be inciting violence.
If I broke into your house and took everything you had, you’d want your stuff back. You’d want your family back. You’d want revenge.
If I Broke Into Your House and Called it War, Does That Change Your Mind?
Why is it that these principles are so universally accepted when it applies to you, but not for others? Americans as a whole condemn any person or group who would violently invade the property of another. This attitude, however, immediately changes when we transition to war. America is an empire; there is no existential threat to the U.S. Ultimately, every war the U.S. is engaged in is nothing more than an act of aggression against another sovereign nation.
War is the foundation of the modern state. So far, the U.S. has killed more than 20 million people since the end of World War II in pursuit of empire. In fact, America’s attempt at destabilizing and radicalizing the Middle East has killed at least 4 million people. If other any nation was responsible for so many deaths, the world would rally against it and burn its leaders like the witches in Salem.
Now that the U.S. is withdrawing from Syria, it is time to withdraw the military from the rest of the world and truly pursue non-interventionism. The Military Industrial Complex has not made us free or safe. Rather, U.S. intervention has led to massive debt, breaches of privacy, and a complete disregard for civil liberties on the domestic front. It is even worse for the inhabitants of foreign nations. If the Chinese government murdered your family, you would want revenge. If the Chinese government slaughtered your friends, it would radicalize you. American intervention has killed millions, destroyed the infrastructure, and radicalized the survivors.
This, of course, leads to blowback in the US. If you want to know why 9/11 happened, ask yourself what you would do if the United Nations invaded your nation, flipped its regime, killed your family, destroyed your home, crippled your infrastructure, and oppressed your culture. Would you want revenge?
This is exactly what happened on September 11th. While war hawks (who would never enlist to fight the wars they are calling for) will say that ending the wars will pave a way to the next 9/11, the fact is that U.S. occupation of the Middle East in the 90s is what caused 9/11. It wasn’t a random attack. It was unjustified, but the U.S. nonetheless created the climate for such an attack.
A Foreign Policy of Freedom
Perhaps our foreign policy should resemble the golden rule. If you were invaded, you would use violence to repel the invader whether the invader is a military or a home intruder. Why do you expect something different from sovereign nations that the U.S. government sees as its colonies? If you don’t want to be invaded, don’t invade other nations. To avoid falling victim to economic warfare, don’t engage in economic warfare. If you don’t want nations to bomb you, don’t bomb other nations.
It is time that we reject war as the racket that it is. Too many people have suffered as a result of the American Empire’s attempt to destroy the sovereignty of any nation that did not bend its knee to the will of the U.S. War is nothing more than legalized mass murder. It is breaking into someone else’s house. Don’t be surprised when they respond with violence.
This article was originally published in LIFE.
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A popular belief in a purpose of government is to provide the common defense. Ask any civics teacher, refer to a textbook, or take a look at the Constitution: this is quite evident. Despite the founding fathers’ intentions, though, the common defense came in the form of a standing army during times of peace and war alike. This defense’s primary duty was to protect the liberties that the new Americans had fought for. As such, specific guidelines bound soldiers. When joining, they must take an oath of enlistment in order to pledge themselves to that supposed goal.
What is the Oath?
The Armed Forces’ ‘Oath of Enlistment’ contains statements which a soldier is legally obligated to follow. However, the oath itself, especially in today’s political climate, is self-contradictory. It leads one into confusion as to what the true objectives of the soldier are. Below is the oath that all enlisting soldiers take (or with some minor variation):
I, (name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Let me emphasize that the several provisions of the oath may not necessarily contradict each other. This is solely dependent on the presence of a presidential infringement of the Constitution. A dilemma occurs that the oath completely disregards. When the president commits a crime, be that one against the Constitution or another high crime or misdemeanor, Article 2, Section 4 provides the president should no longer hold office.
Despite the harsh reality that this punishment has never come to fruition, the contradictory nature of the Oath remains. If the president infringes on his limits of the Constitution, especially a part regarding executive powers during a war, he directly opposes the Constitution that every soldier swears to protect. Of course, the president would deserve a trial to prove his guilt before anyone takes action against him.
A Broken Oath of Enlistment
This is the ultimate catch 22. If a soldier abides by the Constitution, then he or she may be breaking line with the president, thus breaking the oath. But by following the words of the president, and breaking the Constitution, the soldier also goes against the oath. So, every time the president breaks from the Constitution, the oath goes out the window.
This raises the most crucial question: Who really is the military protecting the Constitution against? The absolute modifier ‘all’ in the Oath implies that the military would use force to defend the values of the Constitution against any enemy. However, the military would not feasibly defend against the executive power. So, the hope of justice lies not on the military’s oath. This thus furthers the realization that a nation’s military force and their head of state become one, exploitable for the executive’s motives.
What is the value of the oath? If the president truly is guilty, prior to any legal action at all, then the soldiers are subject to a guilty leader’s will. The common soldier, faithfully and honorably held under oath, is a threat to the Constitution at any time, at any order of the President of United States.
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By Glenn Verasco | Thailand
The Libertarian and Green parties are not going to make much electoral headway at any point in the near future. Though breakthroughs could be on the horizon, the jump from nothing to next-to-nothing is not much to get excited about. The Democratic and Republican parties have embarrassing approval ratings, but, somehow, this has not affected the duopoly’s reign over American politics.
Contrarily, Gary Johnson did receive nearly 5 million votes in the 2016 presidential election, and Jill Stein received over a million to boot. Johnson’s popular vote tally was the greatest in Libertarian Party history. Stein’s was the greatest Green Party turnout since Ralph Nader in 2000.
Together, the 6 million or so green and yellow ballots cast still pale in comparison to the 60+ million votes that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each received. But the third parties did make some noise.
Rather than continue to hopelessly lose, it might be in both parties’ best interests to work together. Combined, they may have better results in US elections.
Let’s first realize that the Libertarian and Green parties align beautifully on a wide range of important political issues.
While I can’t speak for all Libertarians (or any Greens), I imagine that large portions of the constituencies on both sides agree with me in believing that ending America’s interventionist military policy is the most important issue of our time. Both are morally opposed to bombing nations and destabilizing governments as an attempt to spread pseudo-democracy. And while Libertarians focus on savings while Greens see financing opportunities for welfare programs, neither group wants to see dollars fueling the facilities of the military industrial complex. When Noam Chomsky and Ron Paul are on the same page, it’s a great opportunity to put our differences aside to accomplish something vital in securing a more ideal world.
In addition to war abroad, the parties agree to end the failed War on Drugs at home. Libertarians prefer some level of a laissez-faire drug policy, and Greens would likely go the legalize, regulate, and tax route. Both are far superior options than our current strategy. We could start by decriminalizing marijuana then discuss how many steps further we can agree to go.
Thirdly, Libertarians and Greens want to restore the 4th Amendment. This means discontinuing the Patriot Act and pulling back the overreach of American intelligence agencies. We are on the same page in believing that individuals are innocent until proven guilty, and that privacy is a right.
This is not the extent of Libertarian and Green overlap. Demilitarization of the police and sentencing reform bring us together too.
Of course, we disagree on economics, worker’s rights, environmental policy, and a whole lot more. But to each Libertarian and Green reading this, would you risk leaving most of the status quo in place for a better chance at victory on peace, pot, and privacy? Let’s take care of some important business first and discuss the minimum wage and fracking later.
Before we can change policy, we have to play politics. Our strategy could go something like this.
In presidential elections, we need to establish our unity ticket candidates as soon as possible. All press is good press. So, getting names and agendas out early will improve our chances of getting recognized and eventually supported. As the Libertarian candidate for the gubernatorial race in New York, Larry Sharpe has noted that only 1 in 5 New Yorkers know who he is. But of those 1 in 5, 1 in 4 support him. The Libertarian message is competitive, but not well-known. This means Green and Libertarians must hold primaries early, months before the Democrats and Republicans. They have the disadvantage in terms of name recognition and need to spread the word early.
We’ll also have to determine which party gets the presidential nod and which gets VP. I believe the fairest way to do this is to compete for participants in the primaries. Each party should allow voters registered in their respective party as well as independents to participate in primary elections. Whichever party gets the most total votes (amassed by all candidates, not just the winners) in the primaries has the rights to the presidential position. The vice presidential candidate would go to the winner of the primary with less participation.
Not only would this be a fair way to determine who gets the presidential spot, it would also encourage our parties to register more voters and get independents involved. It would appear to be a contest, but function more like a marketing campaign.
In congressional, state, and local elections, we’d have to work together too. Like the presidential strategy, we would judge which party to support based on primary elections. But since congressmen and other elected officials lack running mates, whichever party receives less primary participation would drop out of the race altogether and direct their supporters to vote for their Green or Libertarian counterpart.
For example, let’s imagine that during midterm elections, a senate seat in Iowa is up for grabs. The Libertarian and Green parties would hold early primaries to determine their respective nominees. If all Libertarian candidates receive a combined 80,000 votes, and all Green candidates receive 90,000 votes, the winner of the Libertarian primary would concede and endorse the winner of the Green primary. This gives the winner a base of nearly 170,000 Libertarian and Green votes. Some, of course, will not stomach the other party. But ideally, this losing candidate would get on the campaign trail and explain why the Green candidate’s anti-interventionist, anti-drug war, anti-spying position makes him the lesser of three evils among the Democrat and Republican candidates, despite supporting many policies that run contrary to Libertarian orthodoxy.
Another agreement we should reach is that both parties should favor pro-choice/pro-second amendment candidates. There is a rift among Libertarians on the issue of abortion. Those who lean towards Reason Magazine tend to be more pro-choice, while those who lean towards Anarcho-Capitalism are often pro-life.
I imagine that Greens are more unified in desiring gun control measures than Libertarians are on the issue of abortion. Thus, I must admit that I am asking for more than I am risking as a Libertarian myself. However, let’s face facts and acknowledge that the fight against the Second Amendment is a losing battle. There are more guns in American hands than there are American people. With a clear Constitutional Amendment telling us firearm ownership is our natural right, guns are not going anywhere. Let’s come to terms with reality and meet in the middle to better guarantee enthusiastic support from each of our bases. Wedge issues must not be allowed to determine the future of our republic.
Surely, some Green and some Libertarian individuals would be unable to stomach a vote for the other side. However, this may not be a total loss. With the Libertarian-Green strategy in place, Republican and Democratic candidates may be forced to alter their positions to accommodate voters who are susceptible to third-party politics. While in a normal year, Democrats would expect to get a large share of disgruntled Greens, and Republicans would feel the same about Libertarians, the major parties would know that they’ll have to earn their votes instead of playing the lesser-of-two-evils game. Third party hopefuls would have a cause and motivation. The major parties would not be able to rely on cynicism the way the do now.
Popularizing the issues the Libertarian and Green parties align on could influence the two major parties in general. As we grow our bases, Republicans and Democrats will have to change to market themselves to us. And why prioritize a divisive issue like taxes or healthcare when they could appeal to us as a monolith by saying they’ll legalize weed?
This plan is not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination, and dissenters would be quick to frame one side as exploiting the other. But with zero representation in congress, what exactly do we have to lose?
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“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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