Often times it feels as if the United States is on the brink of something awful, some sort of civil war, some sort of coup, some sort of revolt or revolution. Since 2016 there have been more than 30 internationally reported political riots with dire consequences as a result of political violence. There have been several hundred “at risk” protests in America alone. This, along with the heightened division among American people makes the possibility of smart discourse seem further away than ever.
By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
Just as sure as the existence of Yin and Yang, the existence of left and right goes on. And seemingly, it is only getting worse in modern politics. Both sides of Western politics have become increasingly reactionary. The far right is fueled with hatred of far left-wing culture, going after all things “degenerate.” The far left is merely the other side of the exact same coin, hating all things “traditional.” They are both reactionary groups, and the result of these two reactionary groups reacting to one another is obvious: increased political polarization. Yet, while the far right has many issues, the far left may be more responsible for the destruction of contemporary politics.
Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury
What I recall is a camera perched high above the desert city of Baghdad. Rattling from a ground that quaked beneath heavy artillery, the early morning images showed a nation I had never set foot in, being bombarded by our military.
I was 16 then. We have been in an endless war ever since.
Source Washington Post
7,000 miles and a world away from the terrifying consequences of another costly interventionist war on behalf of ‘peace and freedom’, we all sat glued to our television sets. It was March of 2003 when we invaded and only weeks later, Iraqis toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square.
We had won.
On May 3, 2003, less than 90 days after the first rockets struck Baghdad, George Bush triumphantly stood atop the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared our troops the victor.
Veteran and US Senate candidate from Michigan, Brian Ellison, described his experience serving in Iraq as such:
I remember the time I had to go out and help clean up the mess after a massive car bomb exploded just outside the gate killing dozens and wounding many many more. It was devastating. I’ll never forget the callousness of the American contractors that were responsible for removing the human remains and the pictures that they relished sharing. And the smell of burnt flesh. It was awful. These people were simply waiting in line to come to work for the occupying forces one minute, and their bodies were ripped apart and burnt the next minute. The death that we caused, that’s what I remember.
The official narrative surrounding the Second Gulf War has dramatically changed over the years. Labeled an “Axis Of Evil” terror threat by the Bush oligarchy, Iraq was a war justified by the lies of war-hungry government who willingly preyed on the fear of a psychologically depressed public after the events of September 11th, 2001. It didn’t matter that 11 of the 15 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia (and that none of the hijackers were Iraqi). It didn’t matter that asleep at the wheel taxpayers had supported Hussein’s reign for whole decades of the 20th century. And it sure as hell didn’t seem to matter that Bush’s father had made the same ghastly and arrogant mistakes only 12 years prior when a US-led coalition attacked Iraq in the First Gulf War.
In the months that followed the Saudi-led terrorist attack on 9/11, Bush would reach an incredible 85% approval rating and few seemed spirited enough to question his serpent-like gaze at the oil-rich desert kingdom across the Atlantic. Bush officials pounded the proverbial desk as they lectured Americans about the catastrophic ramifications facing our nation if we did not act swiftly.
The leader and nation that we propped up and aided were now made the spear end of our bayonet. Hussein, once seen as an ally and treated as a King, was now pointed to as an example of a brutal modern dictator. The Bush administration adamantly suggested there was cold hard evidence proving that Hussein had developed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s). In the wake of the deadliest terror attack in our nation’s history, Americans wanted blood and were passive enough to accept any middle eastern sounding country that our officials labeled dangerous.
In reality, our misadventures in Iraq (and the Middle East at large) date much further back. In a long-standing dispute between Iraq & Iran that boiled over in the summer heat of 1980, The United States sent billions in economic and military aid to Hussein. It was during the US-funded proxy war that Hussein used chemical weapons to murder over one million Iranian troops and citizens. Whether they knew it or not, the American taxpayer provided the cash for that terrorism.
Hussein, since his first murderous day in office, was always known to be a ruthless, tyrannical dictator. He was a man that was willing to use torture as a device of control and his psychopathy led to untold death and misery throughout the region. The late Christopher Hitchens, a surprising proponent of the invasion, detailed just how terrifying Saddam’s regime was in his narration of video footage from the Ba’ath led coup in 1979.
Four years later, in 1983, Ronald Reagan would send a special envoy to meet and broker deals with the Hitler-like authoritarian. Included in that convoy was Bush’s Secretary of Defense to be, Donald Rumsfeld, who smiled eagerly for cameras as he shook hands with the Iraqi leader. 20 years later, Rumsfeld would be a leading advocate for war with the man he once glowingly shared greetings.
As with most of The United State’s 20th-century expansionism, it revolved around oil. By the time George Bush Sr. took office, Iraq owed close to 15 billion dollars in debt from the war with Iran. Meanwhile, Kuwait had become a major producer of petroleum and threatened Hussein’s tight grip on the economic reigns of the Middle East. Over two days in early August of 1990, Iraqi forces swiftly captured Kuwait.
The coup was condemned by world leaders. Outside of Palestine, every traditional Iraqi ally demanded Hussein remove his troops from Kuwait. He refused. After the UN Security Council passed Resolution 660, Hussein’s army faced the consequences of a unified global army. The Iraqi Air Force was destroyed and within two months, a US-led coalition had driven Saddam back across the border.
Sensing Hussein’s weakness, George Bush SR pitched a coup from an ocean away. Speaking on February 15, 1991, Bush called for an uprising within Iraq to overthrow the Hussein regime:
There is another way for the bloodshed to stop: and that is, for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and then comply with the United Nations’ resolutions and rejoin the family of peace-loving nations. – George Bush SR
In the year that followed, US officials would stoke the fire of revolution but never fully commit to defeating Saddam on his own lands. While Bush SR and his administration helped fund the rebellious factions within Iraq, our military stood down as Hussein decimated the poorly organized revolution in the South. As Saddam defeated the revolutionaries, Bush SR distanced himself and The United States from any perceived involvement with the uprising:
I made clear from the very beginning that it was not an objective of the coalition or the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein. So I don’t think the Shiites in the south, those who are unhappy with Saddam in Baghdad, or the Kurds in the north ever felt that the United States would come to their assistance to overthrow this man… I have not misled anybody about the intentions of the United States of America, or has any other coalition partner, all of whom to my knowledge agree with me in this position. – George Bush SR
In the aftermath of war, an international embargo was placed on the Kingdom in 1993 after Hussein refused to comply with disarmament demands. Over the course of the next decade, the elite members of Iraqi society remain wealthy while the majority of the nation’s people grew poor and turned to radical sects of religion. During the next 10 years, a dark cloud permeated the country and Hussein ruled with an iron fist as the world watched from afar.
Astute historians will note that intervention without concrete ideas for a controlled state’s future inevitably leads to chaos and destruction. It is said that FDR’s administration spent over three years planning what do with Germany after WWII. What is most striking about the Bush administration was their lack of foresight in organizing a post-war Iraq. The poor oversight was indicative not only of a leadership hell-bent on war but a salivating public. Outside of a small opposition that included Ron Paul & Bernie Sanders, most citizens of the United States were blood hungry, ready to fight and willing to ask questions later.
In the chaotic aftermath of the initial strike, Iraqis freely looted the cities of Iraq as US military stood down on orders from the Pentagon. It is estimated that over 12 billion dollars of antiques, art, and building material were stolen or destroyed by the Iraqi public. The administration did not care about the historical or artistic nature of the Iraqi people and this lack of foresight paid dearly as Iraqis lost trust in our mission. The Iraq National Museum contained some of the earliest artifacts in the history of mankind and we did nothing to stop the destruction.
Rumsfeld joked about the startling images that showed the museum and city in chaos.
Meanwhile, US officials were lining up their chosen replacement for the governance of Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi, a founder of the Iraqi National Congress was selected. Chalabi was a well-known asset in Iraq and in the run-up to the war, it was his information on WMD’s and Al-Qaeda insurgents that was relied upon to stoke the fire within the American populace. In the years that followed the war, much of this information was proven to be fabricated and many believe Chalabi was working as an informant for the Iranians.
If it wasn’t obvious already, soon the US military came to find out that there was a decades-long civil war brewing beneath the surface of Iraq. By April, US forces were caught in the middle of a bloody war between Sunni and Shiite that boiled over in the lawlessness of post-Saddam Iraq. With no police force and 100,000 criminals released from jail before the invasion, Iraq quickly deteriorated into a complete mess. Our army was caught in a free for all without the proper intelligence about the society and how to help.
Although Hussein was condemned for the brutal tactics his regime instituted, the power structure of his grey empire kept warring factions in place during the 30 years he controlled Iraq. Without a dictator in charge, Iraqis turned to the mosques and Muqtada Al-Sadr rose to power. Against the ‘well-laid plans’ of the United States Military, Al-Sadr created a militia and took over the southern part of Iraq. The war had gotten wider.
To make matters worse, the Bush Administration placed Paul Bremmer in charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bremmer did not speak Arabic, had never served in the military and had no prior experience with middle east or post-war reconstruction. Bremmer’s decisions while in charge of the CPA had massive unintended consequences that furthered the war and entrenched the enemy.
First, Bremmer set out to destroy Saddam’s Ba’ath party of Iraq. His method of De-Ba’athification created immediate instability as almost all of the government and infrastructure of Iraq was built through the Ba’ath party. To live in Hussein’s Iraq was to be a Ba’ath member and Bremmer’s move turned middle-class families into an impoverished class without the means to find work or make money. This sewed resentment and anger towards our army.
The policy destroyed the Iraqi government, education, and economy. It purged men and women who had joined the Bath party just to survive during Saddam’s regime. Within only months of occupation close to 30,000-50,000 people that were exercised from life. If that wasn’t enough, Bremmer made the mess worse by disbanding the Iraqi military full stop.
Under CPA #2, Bremmer and council decided to disband the Iraq military. 500,000 men were made unemployed overnight and instead of helping to prevent an insurgency, these men created one. Ten’s of thousands of Iraq families depended on the military for their salary and unemployment quickly skyrocketed to over 50%. Before they knew it, US military wasn’t so much fighting a war that could be won but surviving a war that couldn’t.
Danny Wolf, Founder of The Sentinel, served during The Iraq War:
I remember being 18 years old and scared shitless in Fallujah. And I remember learning a hard lesson at a young age…there aren’t always good decisions. Just decisions.
With or without the United State’s involvement, Iraq was prime for a catastrophic disaster. Quasi-ruling over disparate peoples became the work of private contractors outsourced to American third-party mercenaries. In 2007, the private military company Blackwater indiscriminately murdered 17 Iraqi citizens in Nisour Square. The disaster set back already strained Iraqi and American relationships.
While officials nor the media could ever find evidence of the alleged WMD’s, there was plenty of evidence that showed the feudalist methods American soldiers were using to gain information from prisoners. The news media centered on the detention centers and torture policies administered that ran markedly against our own country’s faith in justice and dignity. Videos leaked of guards humiliating and attacking innocent prisoners and the debate regarding Iraq quickly turned to our own undemocratic values.
As the administration fell under the watchful gaze of a critical media and a now frustrated American public, all hell broke loose in Fallujah. One of the largest cities in Iraq, Fallujah became the major point of the Sunni Insurgency. In the fighting that ensued, over 70% of the city was destroyed and nearly 100,000 citizens displaced.
On December 15, 2005. Muktada Al-Sadr’s and his United Iraqi Alliance win nearly half the seats in Iraq’s national government. Rumsfeld is replaced by Robert Gates and the staggering number of killings and kidnappings rise into the hundreds per day. The country we had once called friends had been reduced to rubble and confusion.
By the time Obama was elected in 2008, the war had shifted and Iraq was now the central front of Al Qaeda terrorism. Whatever gains had been made in the valleys of Afghanistan no longer seemed to matter. It was Iraq, all or nothing. After an estimated $500 billion spent on war and more than $1 trillion spent in economic overhead, Iraq became the war we lost both ideologically and economically.
Linda Lyons, a retired security manager, watched the war from afar:
What comes to my mind is the Chapel at our college. He was outraged when it happened. I remember having a long conversation with him about it. He thought that you couldn’t change countries like that and that it had gone on for 100 years. He thought we didn’t have any business going into Iraq.
I thought we were going to go in and help. Maybe I was stupid.
During the ripple effect years that cascaded throughout the Middle East as we plundered Iraq, old enemies were empowered. Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia both benefited economically from the war while growing their ideological reach in a region of the world that had no reason to trust the Americans. As the mosques filled, terrorists found refuge in the divisive ideology of radical Islam and whatever communication we had attempted to build was lost.
Today, the circus continues. We are still lingering on the deserted plains of Iraq and just this past month, President Trump attacked Syria after Assad allegedly poisoned rebels with chemical weapons. At some point, the American citizens will come to realize that these are wars not meant to be won. They are corporate wars that are meant to be endless with the individual taxpayer footing the bill.
Iraq is not a singular lesson but the continuation of wartime policy that has seen our country buck its anti-interventionist foundations for the policing of others in places thousands of miles away. Morally and strategically these wars harm our perception as the beacon of freedom for the world to aspire to and The United States has become known today as a hawkish war power that treads on the lives and sovereignty of others without a second thought. We have failed to preserve the enlightenment envisioned by our founding fathers and the painful recognition of our lost wars will be a history we cannot undue.
Image Source Wikimedia
By Mason Mohon | USA
The castle walls are crumbling, and nobody hiding within them is safe. Inside its walls, every type of immoral and evil degenerate can be found feeding their self-centered desire and exploiting others. This is the castle of the cultural and political elite, filled with popular culture icons, politicians, and bureaucratic pigs who think they’re “all that,” and why wouldn’t they? They beat us. They made it up the ladder by stepping on our heads. They are the snakes who bit us on our heels when we thought we were safe. They are the friends who stabbed us in the back. These methods are the only way the ladder could really ever be climbed, with a few exceptions of course.
I feel as if there is a shadow man exposing people sitting behind the curtain and spinning a wheel of who is going to be ousted for a past of disgusting sexual misconduct next. Roy Moore, George Takei, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. were all exposed in rapid succession, and no matter what strategy they employed things always came back to bite them. Spacey came out as gay in response to his accusations, but that doesn’t make what he did ok. House of Cards is finished and I will be thoroughly surprised and slightly disgusted the next time I see him get a shot. Takei’s coming out card had been played forever ago, though, so he just went for it and blamed the Russians for it. Really? Come on George, own what you did and quit making hypocritical and senselessly unbacked political commentary. Stop shilling for FDR’s clearly destructive New Deal policies and quit trying to justify his imprisonment of the Japanese population. C.K. admitted to what he did without making sorry excuses for his actions.
And on this idea of a “gay card,” I say that because homosexuality is real. Don’t use it as a dodge when your messed up past is revealed to the world. You commodify your sexuality by using it to keep yourself relevant in the game of cultural popularity, and that is messed up. Doing such marginalizes and otherizes those within the gay community. Stop pretending to be any sort of “ally” while using life-defining characteristics as a tool for political gain. It was all in vain anyway, because Spacey’s career is taking hits.
But this article is about politics, is it not? It takes some messed up action to climb to the top of pop culture, but the game is a lot messier in the political world. As allegations came out against both Al Franken and Roy Moore, I was told by friends that both the subreddits of r/The_Donald and r/politics were ablaze with a defense of the member of their ideological camp. Those in Donald’s attempted to make sense of how Al Franken was in the wrong, and somehow Roy Moore was in the right. Politics, a very liberal leaning subreddit, swayed in just the opposite direction. All I have to say is what the hell is wrong with you people? You think you can just write off somebody’s egregious past because they have an R or D in front of their name? That’s messed up. I am officially taking the radical position that sexual assault is wrong in any and all instances, along with clear sexual harassment.
The question still faces us, though. Why does the sleazy perv always find himself at the top of the food chain? That’s a hard question to answer, but it is one worth trying to answer, and a very important one to at least take a stab at. One important thing to take note of is men are built with a drive to reproduce and being in a position of power gives them the idea they can exercise that drive when there is not a consenting response that indicates the drive should be pursued. Men in positions of power like to exercise that power, and that seems to be manifesting itself in ways that are not ok.
At the same time, let us take a look at the political industry itself. Getting elected is a nasty game and not an easy feat, particularly in the case of a national election to the house, senate, or even presidency. Getting there means climbing a ladder, and let us not forget that the ladder of the political system is one that rests on violence. The taxpayer is exploited so that the system may be upheld, and that only provides an incentive to leave the bottom of exploitation and run to the top, reaping the benefits of the exploiter. The politician gets to choose how others live their lives (yes, I know Rand Paul exists, yet he is literally one out of one-hundred). Maybe a politician aspires to change things for the better, but he will always be beaten out by the man who takes the massive paycheck under the table from the corporation he just agreed to lobby for.
The winner will be the one who attacks the opponent viciously. Remember the election between Adams and Jackson? No, you don’t, you were not alive, but you can still read about it. Adams and Jackson resorted to using unbacked accusations to ruin the moral character of the other candidate just so they would look better. The way to win was to ruthlessly attack your opposition. These days, it is done through massive payoffs to news organizations who will target candidates on what they know of the least, or it is done through presidential debates with rigged questions, or they just plain and simple bar you from speaking (remember how little time Ron Paul got to speak in the debates?). The point is, there is no room for nice guys in the political system. To win, you have to lie, steal, and cheat.
This is the system that we live under. Why are we ever surprised when somebody is found guilty of lying, stealing, cheating, or sexual assault when we all give our support to a system that encourages such things? If you want this to stop, quit playing into their system. You don’t know how many more Harvey Weinstein’s are out there, so don’t support their lifestyle by throwing your money into the movie industry. Don’t vote for anyone who may have a background of sexual assault, even if they’re the only choice for your party. What this probably means is not voting for either of the major two parties, but be wary for sickos in the third ones too. It is your responsibility to dismantle this system by removing your service from it. Serve them no more, and they shall fall apart.
By Ryan Lau | USA
Anyone who has watched or read the news sometime this month is most likely aware of the fact that once again, congressional Democrats and Republicans are unable to agree on a budget. Democrats are consistently pushing for some form of protection for Dreamers, which has since sparked backlash from President Trump. Republicans, on the other hand, seek an increase in defense spending, which has been vehemently opposed and countered by Democrats. Both parties wish to avoid a government shutdown, with a deadline of Friday at midnight to reach an agreement. Ironically, though, the one area in which both Democrats and Republicans generally agree is the one area in which both are wrong. In fact, a government shutdown, contrary to popular belief, would be incredibly beneficial to both the American people and government.
In the event of a government shutdown, all funding for federal programs would come to an immediate halt. An obvious exception exists for branches such as the Post Office, which are self-reliant upon their own revenue from stamps and postage fees for operation. However, the vast majority of government agencies would immediately lose their funding, and this is not a bad thing, as the government will save a considerable amount of money during this process by halting the funding of useless or overpaid agencies.
As a clear example of this, I first examined the expenditures of the United States National Guard, which has an alleged purpose of protecting our citizens in case of a foreign threat or emergency. The thing is, we don’t have any current foreign threats that require an acting home army. Most of these individuals are already trained for an event that has not occurred in our nation since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Despite the clear lack of need for such a large force, the federal government allocates no small amount of funding for their archaic and currently obsolete services.
The average monthly wage of a guards-person ranges from $184 for a private enlisting in one weekend of basic drill training, all the way up to $18,936 for an active duty general. For the sake of simplification, I have conservatively estimated the average figure to be roughly $1,000 a month, though the true average is likely far higher. In the event that only half of the 348,156 currently enlisted National Guard members were told not to report to work (it would likely be a considerably higher number than this), the federal government would be saving 174 million dollars in a single month, but each guards-person would still be entirely capable of reporting to his or her full-time job.
Though admittedly a small figure, the National Guard is a tiny fragment of our overall spending. As an example of a larger agency, I will now examine the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency dumps out an exorbitant annual budget of 12.8 billion dollars for services that frankly, are none of the government’s business. If an employer and employee come to a voluntary agreement regarding the terms of the employee’s labor, it is not the place of any third party entity, regardless of their claim to power, to prevent this transaction from occurring, provided of course that it does not infringe upon the Natural Rights of any individual. On the other hand, if an able-bodied adult cannot find labor, it is not the business of the government to support him by forcibly taking money from the more successful. In both scenarios, a voluntarily funded market-driven solution would prove to be adequate and would do so without grand-scale theft.
Now, this aforementioned figure of 12.8 billion dollars also does not include the funding of over 17,000 full-time employees. Thus, not including the employees, a one-month long government shutdown would save over one billion dollars. Factoring in their salaries, this number would, of course, be significantly higher. That’s one billion at least, with nine zeroes, no longer being forcibly taken from the taxpayers in order to fund an inefficient organization, or one billion dollars used to shrink the staggeringly high national debt.
Ultimately, our federal government has a budget of approximately 3.8 trillion dollars for the fiscal year of 2017. When all is said and done, even a one month long partial shutdown, cutting the expenditures of the state by 50%, would save the American people 158 billion dollars. This money could be used in remarkably better places than it is now, and at the discretion of the American consumer, rather than a tyrannical and bloated nation willing to steal and kill to accomplish their allegedly-noble causes.
Though the finances of a government shutdown are a key aspect of its potential benefit, they are not the only one. Most notably save finances, the average American will have a significantly better experience with air travel. Given a shutdown is to occur, air traffic control and airport security staff would still be in place, as they are always hired by the airports themselves, and thus outside of the federal government’s payroll.
Who, then, is federally paid for in an airport? The Transportation Security Agency, with an abysmal record of zero terrorists stopped since its creation in 2001, devours nearly 8 billion dollars in federal funding annually. To make matters worse, dreadfully long lines can add five, fifteen or thirty minutes, even an hour to travel times due to security lines, depending on the airport and the occasion. A temporary shutdown, however, would eliminate these lines, and during the holiday season, families across the nation would be more able to travel without stress, spending more time with their families and less time waiting to be prodded by an eerie metal rod.
Clearly, the verdict is in on a government shutdown. Saving Americans money and protecting their happiness are allegedly in the direct intentions of the government. However, these intentions are clearly ignored. The American people are being stolen from in order to fund obsolete and inadequate services. Regardless of the state’s true intent (which I would venture to guess that nobody can fully explain in this day and age), the fact that a state that formerly protected the rights of the individual has fallen into such disrepair is a calamity. Reversal of this governmental decay, if you will, must be instituted at the earliest possible hour, in order to finally allow the American people to live in peace and prosperity. Thus, it is with no minute degree of irony that I declare: the federal government would best accomplish its goals by suspending its own existence.