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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt with a must read, "Osama Bin Laden's America: Niger, 9/11, And Apocalyptic Humiliation."

Uri Avnery serves, "Pickled Cucumbers."

Glen Ford concludes, "In CIA We Trust."

William Rivers Pitt observes, "The US, Africa And A New Century Of War."

Jim Hightower asks, "Why Does Amazon Get Corporate Welfare?"

John Nichols finds, "Manafort Monday Turns Into A Very Bad Day For Trump-And Mike Pence."

James Donahue examines, "The Trump Assault On The Media."

Michael Winship returns with a must read, "For Trump, Words Are Stupid Things."

Heather Digby Parton says, "Mattis Is The Sane One. And He Just Said The North Korea Threat Is Accelerating."

David Suzuki concludes "Government Inaction, Industry Tactics Increase Caribou Risks."

Charles P. Pierce gives a, "Pro Tip: Lying To The FBI Is Never A Good Idea."

David Swanson orates on, "How Peace Studies Can Help End Wars."

Juan Cole reports, "Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani Gambled It All And Lost."

Chief of Staff at camp runamuck John Kelly wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "The Huge Tax Heist."

Nick Turse returns with, "From The US With Love."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Intelligence Briefing Interrupted By Sofa-Cushion-Wearing Trump Boys Volunteering To Fight In North Korea," but first Uncle Ernie wonders, "21st Century Schizoid Man?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Gary Varvel, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Tom Tomorrow, Parker Brothers, Antonio Marin Segovia, Gaston De Cardenas, Matt Rourke, Canonicalized, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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To End On A Happy Note...
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Parting Shots...

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21st Century Schizoid Man?
By Ernest Stewart

Blood rack, barbed wire
Politicians, funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man
Twenty First Century Schizoid Man ~~~ King Crimson

"The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences." ~~~ Al Gore

"And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest." ~~~ Geoffrey Chaucer ~ The Parson's Tale

You got to pay your dues
If you want to sing the Blues
And you know it don't come easy!
It Don't Come Easy ~~~ Ringo Starr

I've heard Trump called the "21st Century Schizoid Man" however that's not really true, but the sound alike Schizophrenia maybe right on! As I've already pointed out he does have Alzheimers, Dementia, Delirium and perhaps Schizophrenia may fill the bill? You tell me! Here's how The Mayo Clinic defines Schizophrenia...
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.

Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment.


Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognition), behavior or emotions. Signs and symptoms may vary, but usually involve delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech, and reflect an impaired ability to function. Symptoms may include:

Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. For example, you think that you're being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you; or a major catastrophe is about to occur. Delusions occur in most people with schizophrenia.

Hallucinations. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don't exist. Yet for the person with schizophrenia, they have the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.

Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can't be understood, sometimes known as word salad.

Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This may show in a number of ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior isn't focused on a goal, so it's hard to do tasks. Behavior can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate or bizarre posture, a complete lack of response, or useless and excessive movement.

Negative symptoms. This refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion (doesn't make eye contact, doesn't change facial expressions or speaks in a monotone). Also, the person may have lose interest in everyday activities, socially withdraw or lack the ability to experience pleasure.

Symptoms can vary in type and severity over time, with periods of worsening and remission of symptoms. Some symptoms may always be present.
Does those symptoms ring any bells when you think about Trump? Alarm bells go off when I see Trump! Ergo, methinks we can add Schizophrenia to the list of Trump's diseases!

In Other News

A severe storm packing hurricane force wind gusts and soaking rain swept through the Northeast early Monday, knocking out power for more than 1,500,000 customers, and forcing hundreds of school closures in northern New England. On or about the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy which, you may recall, caused $75 billion worth of damage.

The storm was described as a "weather bomb" since it underwent what meteorologists call "bombogenisis," which occurs when a storm rapidly intensifies as its center moves out over the ocean. When Tropical Storm Philippe joined, it became a "weather bomb." Fortunately Philippe is no Sandy with 3 to 4 foot tides so flooding was mostly felt inland.

Meanwhile storms are starting to whip up in Northern Alaska to the point that Indian villiges are forced to build berms to keep the ocean at bay. It's not just here or there but everywhere and it will just keep getting worse no matter what Trump's spokes weasels say!

When even the far right Government Accountability Office, says, "Climate change is costing taxpayers billions." Not to mention quite a few corporate types have told Trump the same thing you'd think he would see the light too. Sure Trump believes in global warming, but he is being paid a fortune to deny it all, as are most members of Con-gress by the Koch Brothers cabal.

Global warming is here to stay as we won't do anything to stop it and our military, which are the biggest polluters on the planet keep bringing us closer to our doom on a daily basis. Yes, it's your tax dollars at work, America, hard at work to kill us all!

And Finally

I see where at least eight people were killed and a dozen injured Tuesday after a man drove a rented pickup truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan, plowing into cyclists, runners and colliding with a school bus. After driving for several blocks, the man exited the truck and fired a weapon that may have been a pellet gun. He also carried a paintball gun and kept shouting "Allahu Akbar". Shortly thereafter, the suspect was shot by police and taken into custody.

That's right, boys and girls, another chicken has come home to roost. What's that make it, about a dozen attacks since 1993? Police say the incident is being investigated as a terrorist attack. You think? You might even think that "Jew" York City is some kind of magnet for angry Muslims, if you didn't know any better! Wouldn't you?

As my great, great, etc. Uncle James had his scribes right it thus: "...for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." - Galatians 6:7, or as we might say, "What goes around, comes around!" Consider that when we stopped killing the Indians, and each other, and we made the scene on the world stage in 1898 that we've been storing up bad Karma by the bucket load, hell, by the ship load ever since. And as if we didn't have too much already, der Fuhrer and his cartel, are moving mountains to make sure that we've pissed off everyone on the planet, bar none!

The masacre in New York is just a tiny foretaste of the things to come, America. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Keepin' On

As Ringo once sang, "You know it don't come easy." Few good things in life ever do come easy, like respect -- most of them have to be earned. Got them dues that got to be paid. So it is with this magazine.

As magazines go, Issues & Alibis' cost is pretty much "chump change." With most Internet magazines, the yearly cost is in the seven figures. A few get by on six figures. We get by with the help of sponsors -- from a six figure cost to just five figures. Our total cost is just above $11,000 -- after our sponsor picks up about half of that, leaving us to raise just $5400 a year to keep bringing you the important news you need to know, without ever having to charge anyone for the information.

That's a good thing, because the majority of our readership couldn't afford to subscribe and since these are the very people we're trying to reach that "chump change" can be hard to get! Thanks to Barbara from Boston, and Gary from Indianapolis', latest help, we are now lacking just $1000, down from last week's $1500. We need to raise that $1000 within the next month to continue the magazine for another year -- well, until the end of June to be accurate!

A little help, Ya'll!

Oh, and John, if you want to shut me up, begging for resources, why not send your dear old Uncle Ernie a nice check!??! As soon as this money is raised, I'll stop begging until next year! Perhaps by then we'll have some more sponsors, and I won't have to come before you cap-in-hand!


04-12-1937 ~ 10-29-2017
Thanks for fighting the good fight!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

And so the wars would spread, states would begin to crumble, terror movements would multiply, and each
little shiver of fear, each set of American deaths, whether by such movements or "lone wolves"
in the U.S. and Europe, would call up just one response: more of the same.

Osama Bin Laden's America: Niger, 9/11, And Apocalyptic Humiliation
16 years later, it is extraordinary how September 11th would set the pattern for everything that followed.
By Tom Engelhardt

Honestly, if there's an afterlife, then the soul of Osama bin Laden, whose body was consigned to the waves by the U.S. Navy back in 2011, must be swimming happily with the dolphins and sharks. At the cost of the sort of spare change that Donald Trump recently offered aides and former campaign officials for their legal troubles in the Russia investigation (on which he's unlikely to deliver) -- a mere $400,000 to $500,000 -- bin Laden managed to launch the American war on terror. He did so with little but a clever game plan, a few fanatical followers, and a remarkably intuitive sense of how this country works.

He had those 19 mostly Saudi hijackers, a scattering of supporters elsewhere in the world, and the "training camps" in Afghanistan, but his was a ragged and understaffed movement. And keep in mind that his sworn enemy was the country that then prided itself on being the last superpower, the final winner of the imperial sweepstakes that had gone on for five centuries until, in 1991, the Soviet Union imploded.

The question was: With such limited resources, what kind of self-destructive behavior could he goad a triumphalist Washington into? The key would be what might be called apocalyptic humiliation.

Looking back, 16 years later, it's extraordinary how September 11, 2001, would set the pattern for everything that followed. Each further goading act, from Afghanistan to Libya, San Bernardino to Orlando, Iraq to Niger, each further humiliation would trigger yet more of the same behavior in Washington. After all, so many people and institutions -- above all, the U.S. military and the rest of the national security state -- came to have a vested interest in Osama bin Laden's version of our world.

Apocalyptic Humiliation

Grim as the 9/11 attacks were, with nearly 3,000 dead civilians, they would be but the start of bin Laden's "success," which has, in truth, never ended. The phrase of that moment -- that 9/11 had "changed everything" -- proved far more devastatingly accurate than we Americans imagined at the time. Among other things, it transformed the country in essential ways.

After all, Osama bin Laden managed to involve the United States in 16 years of fruitless wars, most now "generational" conflicts with no end in sight, which would only encourage the creation and spread of terror groups, the disintegration of order across significant parts of the planet, and the displacement of whole populations in staggering numbers. At the same time, he helped turn twenty-first-century Washington into a war machine of the first order that ate the rest of the government for lunch. He gave the national security state the means -- the excuse, if you will -- to rise to a kind of power, prominence, and funding that might otherwise have been inconceivable. In the process -- undoubtedly fulfilling his wildest dreams -- he helped speed up the decline of the very country that, since the Cold War ended, had been plugging itself as the greatest ever.

In other words, he may truly be the (malign) genius of our age. He created a terrorist version of call and response that still rules Donald Trump's Washington in which the rubblized generals of America's rubblized wars on an increasingly rubblized planet now reign supreme. In other words, The Donald, Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were Osama bin Laden's grim gift to the rest of us. Thanks to him, literally trillions of taxpayer dollars would go down the tubes in remarkably pointless wars and "reconstruction" scams abroad that now threaten to feed on each other to something like the end of (American) time.

Of course, he had a little luck in the process. As a start, no one, not even the 9/11 plotters themselves, could have imagined that those towers in Manhattan would collapse before the already omnipresent cameras of the age in a way that would create such classically apocalyptic imagery. As scholar Paul Boyer once argued, in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans never stopped dreaming of a nuclear attack on this country. Our pop culture was filled with such imagery, such nightmares. On that September day, many Americans suddenly felt as if something like it had finally happened. It wasn't happenstance that, within 24 hours, the area of downtown Manhattan where the shards of those towers lay would be dubbed "Ground Zero," a term previously reserved for the spot where a nuclear explosion had taken place, or that Tom Brokaw, anchoring NBC's non-stop news coverage, would claim that it was "like a nuclear winter in lower Manhattan."

The sense of being sneak-attacked on an apocalyptic scale -- hence the "new Pearl Harbor" and "Day of Infamy" headlines -- proved overwhelming as the scenes of those towers falling in a near mushroom cloud of smoke and ash were endlessly replayed. Of course, no such apocalyptic attack had occurred. The weapons at hand weren't even bombs or missiles, but our own airplanes filled with passengers. And yes, it was a horror, but not the horror Americans generally took it for. And yet, 16 years later, it's still impossible to put 9/11 in any kind of reasonable context or perspective in this country, even after we've helped to rubblizemajor cities across the Middle East -- most recently the Syrian city of Raqqa -- and so aided in creating landscapes far more apocalyptic looking than 9/11 ever was.

As I wrote long ago, 9/11 "was not a nuclear attack. It was not apocalyptic. The cloud of smoke where the towers stood was no mushroom cloud. It was not potentially civilization ending. It did not endanger the existence of our country -- or even of New York City. Spectacular as it looked and staggering as the casualty figures were, the operation was hardly more technologically advanced than the failed attack on a single tower of the World Trade Center in 1993 by Islamists using a rented Ryder truck packed with explosives."

On the other hand, imagine where we'd be if Osama bin Laden had had just a little more luck that day; imagine if the fourth hijacked plane, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, had actually reached its target in Washington and wiped out, say, the Capitol or the White House.

Bin Laden certainly chose his symbols of American power well -- financial (the World Trade Center), military (the Pentagon), and political (some target in Washington) -- in order to make the government and people of the self-proclaimed most exceptional nation on Earth feel the deepest possible sense of humiliation.

Short of wiping out the White House, bin Laden could hardly have hit a more American nerve or created a stronger sense that the country which felt it had everything was now left with nothing at all.

That it wasn't true -- not faintly -- didn't matter. And add in one more bit of bin Laden good luck. The administration in the White House at that moment had its own overblown dreams of how our world should work. As they emerged from the shock of those attacks, which sent Vice President Dick Cheney into a Cold-War-era underground nuclear bunker and President George W. Bush onto Air Force One -- he was reading a children's book, My Pet Goat, to school kids in Florida as the attacks occurred -- and in flight away from Washington to Barksdale Air Base in Louisiana, they began to dream of their global moment. Like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the partially destroyed Pentagon, they instantly started thinking about taking out Iraq's autocratic ruler Saddam Hussein and launching a project to create a Middle East and then a planet over which the United States alone would have dominion forever and ever.

As befitted those Pearl Harbor headlines, on the night of September 11th, the president was already speaking of "the war against terrorism." Within a day, he had called it "the first war of the twenty-first century" and soon, because al-Qaeda was such a pathetically inadequate target, had added, "Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there."

Susan Sarandon Block

It couldn't have been stranger. The United States was "at war," but not with a great power or even one of the regional "rogue states" that had been the focus of American military thinking in the 1990s. We were at war with a phenomenon -- "terrorism" -- on a global scale. As Rumsfeld would say only five days after 9/11, the new war on terror would be "a large multi-headed effort that probably spans 60 countries, including the United States." In the phrase of the moment, they were going to "drain the swamp" globally.

Even setting aside that terrorism then had no real armies, no real territory, essentially nothing, this couldn't have been more wildly out of proportion to what had actually happened or to the outfit that had caused it to happen. But anyone who suggested as much (or something as simple and unimpressive as a "police action" against bin Laden and crew) was promptly laughed out of the room or abused into silence. And so a call-and-response pattern that fit bin Laden's wildest dreams would be established in which, whatever they did, the United States would always respond by militarily upping the ante.

In this way, Washington promptly found itself plunged into a Global War on Terror, or GWOT, that was essentially a figment of its own imagination. The Bush administration, not Osama bin Laden, then proceeded to turn it into a reality, starting with the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, from the passage of the Patriot Act to the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, a newly national-securitized Washington would be built up on a previously unheard of scale.

In other words, we were already entering Osama bin Laden's America.

The War Lovers

In this way, long before Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson began downsizing the State Department, George W. Bush and his top officials (who, except for Colin Powell, had never been to war) committed themselves to the U.S. military as the option of choice for what had previously been called "foreign policy." Fortunately for bin Laden, they would prove to be the ultimate fundamentalists when it came to that military. They had little doubt that they possessed a force beyond compare with the kind of power and technological resources guaranteed to sweep away everything before it. That military was, as the president boasted, "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known." What, then, could possibly stop it from spearheading the establishment of a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere that would leave the Roman and British empires in the shade? (As it happened, they had absorbed nothing of the twentieth century history of insurrection, rebellion, and resistance in the former colonial world. If they had, none of what followed would have surprised them in the least.)

And so the wars would spread, states would begin to crumble, terror movements would multiply, and each little shiver of fear, each set of American deaths, whether by such movements or "lone wolves" in the U.S. and Europe, would call up just one response: more of the same.

Think of this as Osama bin Laden's dream world, which we would create for him and his fellow jihadists.

I've been writing about this at TomDispatch year after year for a decade and a half now and nothing ever changes. Not really. It's all so sadly predictable as, years after bin Laden was consigned to his watery grave, Washington continues to essentially do his bidding in a remarkably brainless fashion.

Think of it as a kind of feedback loop in which the interests of a domestic security and surveillance state, built to monumental proportions on a relatively minor fear (of terrorism), and a military eternally funded to the heavens on a remarkably bipartisan basis for its never-ending war on terror ensure that nothing ever truly changes. In twenty-first-century Washington, failure is the new success and repetition is the rule of the day, week, month, and year.

Take, for example, the recent events in Niger. Consider the pattern of call-and-response there. Almost no Americans (and it turned out, next to no senators) even knew that the U.S. had something like 900 troops deployed permanently to that West African country and two drone bases there (though it was no secret). Then, on October 4th, the first reports of the deaths of four American soldiers and the wounding of two others in a Green Beret unit on a "routine training mission" in the lawless Niger-Mali border area came out. The ambush, it seemed, had been set by an ISIS affiliate.

It was, in fact, such an obscure and distant event that, for almost two weeks, there was little reaction in Congress or media uproar of any sort. That ended, however, when President Trump, in response to questions about those dead soldiers, attacked Barack Obama and George W. Bush for not calling the parents of the American fallen (they had) and then got into a dispute with the widow of one of the Niger dead (as well as a Democratic congresswoman) over his condolence call to her. The head of the Joint Chiefs was soon forced to hold a news conference; former four-star Marine General and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose son had died in Afghanistan, felt called upon to go to the mat for his boss, falsely accuse that congresswoman, and essentially claim that the military was now an elite caste in this country. This certainly reflected the new highly militarized sense of power and worth that lay at the heart of bin Laden's Washington.

It was only then that the event in distant Niger became another terrorist humiliation of the first order. Senators were suddenly outraged. Senator John McCain (one of the more warlike members of that body, famous in 2007 for jokingly singing, to the tune of an old Beach Boys song, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran") threatened to subpoena the administration for more Niger information. Meanwhile his friend Senator Lindsey Graham, another war hawk of the first order, issued a classic warning of this era: "We don't want the next 9/11 to come from Niger!"

And suddenly U.S. Africa Command was highlighting its desire for more money from Congress; the military was moving to arm its Reaper drones in Niger with Hellfire missiles for future counterterrorism operations; and Secretary of Defense Mattis was assuring senators privately that the military would "expand" its "counterterrorism focus" in Africa. The military began to prepare to deploy Hellfire Missile-armed Reaper drones to Niger. "The war is morphing," Graham insisted. "You're going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you're going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you're going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field."

Rumors were soon floating around that, as the Washington Post reported, the administration might "loosen restrictions on the U.S. military's ability to use lethal force in Niger" (as it already had done in the Trump era in places like Syria and Yemen). And so it expectably went, as events in Niger proceeded from utter obscurity to the near-apocalyptic, while -- despite the strangeness of the Trumpian moment -- the responses came in exactly as anyone reviewing the last 16 years might have imagined they would.

All of this will predictably make things in central Africa worse, not better, leading to... well, more than a decade and a half after 9/11, you know just as well as I do where it's leading. And there are remarkably few brakes on the situation, especially with three generals of our losing wars ruling the roost in Washington and Donald Trump now lashed to the mast of his chief of staff.

Welcome to Osama bin Laden's America.
(c) 2017 Thomas M. "Tom" Engelhardt is an American writer and editor. He is the creator of The Nation Institute's, an online blog. He is also the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of the 1998 book, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation.

Pickled Cucumbers
By Uri Avnery

HALLELUJAH! AT long last I have found a point on which I agree with Binyamin Netanyahu. Really!

This Monday the Knesset reassembled for its winter session after a long (and blessed) vacation. On such occasions, the president of the state and the prime minister are invited to speak. The speeches are supposed to be festive, full of pious platitudes. In one ear and out the other.

Not this time.

Seated next to the Speaker, the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, made a speech that was unprecedented in every respect. He attacked the Likud-dominated government coalition and accused it of undermining the rule of law, the Attorney General and the police.

The President is no leftist, by any means. He belongs to the nationalist right. His ideology is that of "the whole of Eretz-Israel." He is a member of the Likud party.

To understand him, one has to go back to Vladimir Jabotinsky, who in the 1920s founded the Revisionist Party, the foremother of the Zionist Right. Jabotinsky was born and brought up in Czarist Odessa, but studied in Italy, when the Risorgimento was still fresh in everybody's mind. This movement was an unusual mixture of extreme nationalism and extreme liberalism, and Jabotinsky took this with him.

Jabotinsky's portrait hangs in every Likud office, but his teachings have long ago been forgotten by the Likud membership, except for old-timers like Rivlin, who is 78. He was born at the outbreak of World War II. He belongs to a special group of people: descendants of East European Jews who came to Palestine long before the Zionist movement was born. His father was an expert on Arab culture.

Rivlin is one of the nicest people I know. Everybody likes him. Everybody, that is, except Netanyahu, who, with rare foresight, objected to his nomination.

NETANYAHU LISTENED to Rivlin's speech with a frozen face. Then he rose to make his own speech - a speech which was prepared long before the session, but which sounded as if Rivlin had listened to it before preparing his own text.

The Prime Minister attacked the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Chief of Police, the media and the left, as if all these were meeting in secret to prepare his downfall. This was quite extraordinary, since the attorney general and the police chief were his own personal choices. According to him, all these were conspiring to bring him down in an anti-democratic plot, a putsch by police investigators and criminal prosecutors. The frequent leaks from these investigations, which have been widely published in the media, were - according to Netanyahu - all part of the plot.

And indeed, the public has been well informed about the investigations, one of which concerns expensive presents given by multi-millionaires to Netanyahu, who is himself quite rich. The presents include very expensive cigars, and therefore this bribery investigation is called the "cigar case."

The same and other millionaires also gave expensive presents to Sarah, Netanyahu's very unpopular wife. These include pink champagne, so this investigation is called the "pink champagne case."

But these are bagatelles compared to a black cloud approaching Netanyahu and called the "submarines case". It concerns the acquisition of submarines and surface vessels from a German shipyard. Since German armament producers are known for paying huge bribes to the chiefs of backward countries, nobody was really surprised by rumors of many tens of millions of Euros being paid to Israeli politicians, admirals and middlemen. But where did the euros stop? Before they reached the top?

NETANYAHU'S REACTIONS speak louder than the rumors. They have replaced his obsessions about the Iranian nuclear bomb, the terrible danger of Hezbollah and even the treacherous Israeli left. They seem to be his main preoccupation.

In order to neutralize the cabal, Netanyahu and his minions have come up with a simple solution: to adopt the "French Law". This is now the main effort of the Israeli government and the Likud party, to the detriment of everything else. It says simply that no criminal investigation or prosecution shall be conducted against a "sitting prime minister."

On the face of it, there is some sense in this. Our prime minister must conduct the affairs of the state, plan the next war (there is always a next war) and promote economic growth - all functions which suffer when he is fully occupied with dozens of criminal cases. But on second thoughts, it means that a criminal can serve in the highest office and that the prime minister - he and nobody else in the country - is exempt from investigation.

True, according to this law the investigations are only postponed until the prime minister becomes a normal citizen again. But Netanyahu is in his fourth 4-year term, and all the signs are that he fully intends to have a 5th, 6th and 7th, if God - may He be blessed - prolongs his life accordingly.

No other leader in the democratic world enjoys such a privilege, except one. It is called the French Law - but there are huge differences. The French law does protect the president from prosecution while in office - but not the prime minister. Also, and that is a very big also, the terms of office of the French president are limited to two - so that the postponement is not too long.

AT THIS moment, the entire government machinery is being mobilized to turn this legal abomination into law.

Some of the Likud's coalition partners are balking. This coalition consists of many parties - six, if my count is right - and if one of them abstains, there may be trouble. At present, two have announced that they are giving their members "a free hand." Incensed, Netanyahu's chief whip is threatening to break up the government and declare new elections - a dire threat to all coalition partners, who may face perdition.

In the Likud party itself there is not a single voice of dissent, not a single brave rebel like the two Republican senators who defied President Trump this week.

But President Rivlin condemned the proposed law in the strongest terms, and the Attorney General called it "absurd."

SO WHERE do I agree with Netanyahu? On one point: he attacked the left for possessing a "factory of depression," which create a sour mood.

In Hebrew we have a term for sour foods, such as pickled cucumbers. It may be loosely translated as "souries". Netanyahu said that the left is creating a public "mood of souries," in order to topple him.

Some readers may remember that I have accused the left of the same malaise, but from a different angle. There is a mood of depression within wide stretches of the Israeli peace camp, a mood of desperation, indeed a sour mood.

This mood leads to the impression that we can do nothing to save our state, which is being led to disaster by Netanyahu and his minions. A rather convenient mood, since it means that we can do nothing and need not risk anything, because the battle is lost anyhow.

Some draw the conclusion that the battle must be fought somewhere else, far away from us, such as the fight of the BDS for the boycott of everything Israeli. These days the battle has reached absurd heights, when a US town that was grievously hit by the hurricane announced that its citizens will receive compensation only if they undertake not to boycott Israel. Indeed, a country of unlimited absurdities.

(By the way, Haaretz disclosed this week that our government has hired an international US law firm to fight against BDS.)

A SOUR mood does not create fighters. A happy mood creates fighters. When the situation is bad, when it looks hopeless, a bunch of happy warriors can turn the outcome of the battle.

There is no reason to despair. History is not made by God. It is made by us.

Speaking of the French president - let's remember that Emmanuel Macron appeared from nowhere, founded a new party and on the first attempt won an absolute majority. If the French can, we can too.

Desperation, depression, they are all luxuries we cannot afford. We must return to the battle with hope and self-assurance.

As the man said: Yes, we can.

Let's be in good spirits. Let's rejoin the battle joyfully.

The above-mentioned Jabotinsky wrote a historical novel about the Biblical hero Samson. Just before bringing the Philistine temple down on himself, he bequeathed his people a testament of three commands: Chose a king, Collect iron, and - Laugh!
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

In CIA We Trust
By Glen Ford

More than a year after the Democrats began blaming Hillary Clinton's campaign problems on Russia, the allegations of massive Kremlin interference in U.S. elections are still based on the "high confidence" - but evidence-free - CIA assertion that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. One cannot imagine a less credible authority than the agency headquartered in Langley, Virginia: an organization specializing in disinformation, mass psychological manipulation, false flag operations, assassination, and regime change. No single entity in modern history, foreign or domestic, has told more lies -- and been caught bloody-handed, during or after the fact -- than the CIA.

Only a fool, or a willing accomplice, would believe a word from the CIA's mouth. Yet, the agency has arguable reached the all-time height of its influence over U.S. domestic affairs as the key player in the unfolding decapitation of the U.S. government, while the imperial war machine plays nuclear "chicken" with a range of demonized adversaries.

The Mother of All Liars is deemed the arbiter of truth. The CIA first conjures and then ritually deciphers both the crisis in domestic governance (the Russians did it) and the crisis (also Russia-based) of shrinking U.S. influence in the world. That the CIA continues to command such respect and authority, after all these years of ceaseless lying, is testament to the depth of the crisis of legitimacy that wracks U.S. ruling circles at this stage of capitalist decay.

We are inflicted with the spectacle of the Black political class -- worthless misleaders -- clucking that Russians are the root of escalating white supremacist outrages in the U.S. The Kremlin, supposedly on a social media budget of about a hundred thousand dollars, has replaced (or absorbed) the Republican White Man's Party as the wily villains of U.S. voter suppression, if you believe Atlanta Black Rep. John Lewis. Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters has forgiven the CIA for bringing crack cocaine to the ghetto; she now blames the Russians for sowing social "dissension," putting Black lives in danger. Waters revels in being called "auntie" by mostly white "liberal" crowds of Democratic "resisters" against Trump, and rants about "the Kremlin Klan" that pulls the strings in the White House, while a majority of her colleagues on the Congressional Black Caucus cast their votes for the Orange Menace's gargantuan war budget -- thus guaranteeing the further gutting of social programs for their constituents.

The logic is clear: if the Russians have taken command of Trump's brain, and harnessed Attorney General Jeff Sessions' deep-fried racism to their own ends, then war with Moscow is the only path to racial justice in the United States. Eighty-four percent of U.S. cops supported Trump, according to a survey by Police magazine. That makes them dupes for the Kremlin -- which is, therefore, retroactively responsible for police violence in Black communities. There is a Russian behind every nightstick.

The CIA has pulled off one of the greatest psychological ops of all time, converting the bulk of elected officials representing the most left-leaning, anti-war constituency in the U.S. -- Black people -- into rabid Russia-haters.

It's a good bet that the recent release of nearly 3,000 previously classified documents detailing the CIA's history of domestic and international terrorism, false flag operations and regime change schemes, will have little political effect on the agency's credibility on all things Russian. Although the CIA has become, if anything, more murderous with time, the imperial populace is immensely forgiving of crimes against weaker peoples. Most politically aware Americans already knew the CIA waged biological warfare against Cuban crops, and attempted scores of times to assassinate Fidel Castro; that one of Eisenhower's last acts was to order the death of Congolese president Patrice Lumumba; and that the CIA considered the 1953 overthrow of Iran's elected leader a great feat. The new batch of documents, related to the assassination of President John Kennedy, details a CIA scheme to stage bombings in Miami and even sink a "boatload of Cubans enroute to Florida" and blame it on Castro, at the risk of killing innocent people. However, it is well known that CIA operatives actually did carry out lethal bombings in Cuba, and destroyed a Cuban airliner full of passengers. The CIA killed 50,000 Vietnamese in Operation Phoenix and collaborated in the slaughter and disappearance of tens of thousands of Latin Americans. In league with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the CIA literally created the international jihadist network that became al Qaeda and its off-shoots around the world, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands. And almost every sentient American knows the CIA gave thumbs up to "intelligence" claiming Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

To compile a list of the CIA's crimes, is to describe U.S. foreign policy since the agency's founding in 1947. The CIA has never been a law unto itself. It is the clandestine arm of U.S. foreign policy, and carries out the objectives of the U.S. ruling class -- or various factions of that class. Its mission is maintenance and expansion of an empire that is not subject to the laws that constrain other nations. That is the meaning of American "exceptionalism."

Those Americans that regularly "forgive" CIA crimes understand that it acts in service of U.S. empire. The problem is not that these people are so enamored of the CIA and its dark works, but that they identify with U.S. power in the world, and lack solidarity with the rest of humanity. This applies to millions of folks that think of themselves as "progressive," as well as Trump's "delplorables."

That's why Maxine Waters can't shake the imperialist disease.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, 2nd battalion cry at the tomb of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson
at his burial service in the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida.
Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4, 2017.

The US, Africa And A New Century Of War
By William Rivers Pitt

Most Americans' broad ignorance regarding Africa is a long-standing phenomenon, one perpetuated from the top down. In 2008, the campaign staffers tasked to wrangle Sarah Palin were terrified people would discover she thought Africa was one big country. In 2001, President George W. Bush told a gathering in Sweden, "Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to none other than the US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014, said, "There's no reason the nation of Africa should not join the ranks of the world's most prosperous nations. That's twice in one sentence, Joe.

After four elite US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger several weeks ago, and after President Trump made a gut-grinding botch of offering condolences to the families of the fallen, Africa policy has become a hot topic in US politics. Beyond the febrile fodder of yet another presidential humiliation lay the deeper question: What were those four soldiers doing in Niger?

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Armed Services Committee that oversees the Pentagon, apparently just found out that the US has roughly 1,000 troops stationed in Niger. When asked why they were there, he gave the standard reply we always hear in the age of the Authorization of Use of Military Force: fighting terrorists.

In fact, the US has some 6,000 troops spread throughout virtually every country in Africa, with heavy concentrations in the middle third of the continent where groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab are most active. US Special Forces are, at any given time, carrying out approximately 100 missions in Africa, ostensibly in the name of the nation they are operating from. "In 2006, just 1 percent of all US commandos deployed overseas were in Africa," writes journalist Nick Turse. "In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by US Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East."

This, reports Turse, is on top of a broad, secrecy-shrouded drone war being waged in Africa by the US. According to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), there is only one US drone base in Africa, located at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which was established shortly after the September 11 attacks as a tactical jump-off point for military actions in the Middle East. However, Turse was able to compile a list of more than 60 drone bases and other outposts currently dotting the African continent, all of them quite active.

It should come as no surprise that private military and security contractors (PMSCs) are also doing a booming business in Africa. After all, the whole concept of the modern military contractor was invented in Africa by the British, Dutch and, of course, the Americans more than 50 years ago in places like South Africa, Angola and the Belgian Congo. Their purpose today is twofold: To serve as a quiet, unobtrusive support structure for US forces, and to provide security for mines and other highly lucrative operations seeking to plumb the continent for its vast resources.

Odds are better than good that the cobalt in your smartphone was mined by a company that employs a PMSC on the ground to defend its interests, often violently if necessary. It is a dangerously volatile situation. In South Africa, for one example, the private military contractors outnumber the government's standing army.

And so, US soldiers are spread throughout the continent, ostensibly to train the military forces of dozens of countries, while the contractors -- Kellog Brown & Root, Daamco USA, Praemittas Group and R4 Inc., to name but a few -- offer muscular support even as they reap huge profits by serving business interests. US involvement in Africa has skyrocketed since 2001, through the administrations of three different presidents, and shows no sign of slowing.

Indeed, for a military industrial complex always greedy for more "markets" to exploit, Africa represents a whole new frontier of possibilities. There is a game of thrones being played in Africa between the US, China, France (which uses African uranium to fuel 75 percent of its electricity) and other non-African nations, a 21st century shadow play of the colonialism and imperialism that left much of the continent in the chaotic hands of warlords and Western-armed despots for generations. The nations most involved, it must be noted, are also the world's leading dealers of military arms and hardware.

"Africans do not want this competition over their territory," Horace Campbell, a peace and justice scholar and professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University, explained to Democracy Now! "What Africans want is a demilitarization of the continent and for the duplicitous role of France, the European Union and the United States to end in this so-called war on terror. The African people want money for reconstruction, so that in a country such as Somalia, every cent that is being used for fighting the war on terror could be spent in building schools, and then the police operation could be used against al-Shabab."

For the US, its Western allies and even its enemies, policy toward Africa is all about the money -- mining, oil, timber -- and about the bullets, which cost money. The war machine must be fed, everyone loves their smartphones, and nobody over here knows what's going on way over there. Know this: We have boots, military and contractor, on the ground in Africa to all points on the compass, and the drones fill the air. Our involvement grows every day, and the op-tempo of our special forces there is white hot.

All this, and yet so many of us - even those of us within the peace and social justice movement - dawdle in diffident ignorance on the matter of Africa and its latest plunderers, not to mention its resistance movements.

"There seems to be a deficit of caring -- or rather, caring enough to self-educate, research and act -- within the Western left on the current movements, histories and activism within African countries," writes Devyn Springer for Truthout. "To place our actions where our rhetoric is, we must move forward in such a way that makes our studies of history, theory and current events inclusive of the unavoidable important work of African revolutionaries, and the current plights of African countries and people living on the continent."

The so-called war on terror -- known to the troops who fight it as the "Forever War" -- has yet another front, brought to us by the same interests that gave us Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Unless this inertia is thwarted, expect more of the same in a continental frame. Those four elite troops who died and came home to such controversy are only the beginning.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Uber-rich Amazon doesn't need and certainly doesn't deserve this giveaway, but officials in 238
cities have prostrated themselves in front of the welfare queen in an embarrassing bid to win her nod."

Why Does Amazon Get Corporate Welfare?
Not satisfied with just taking your money, Bezos is coming after your tax dollars as well.
By Jim Hightower

Jeffrey Preston Bezos is the man of unbounded ambition who founded Amazon, the online retailing colossus that trumpets itself as "Earth's most customer-centric company." He's considered a model of tech wizardry for having totally reinvented retail marketing for our smart-phone, globally-linked age. Amazon peddles a cornucopia of goods through a convenient "1-click" ordering system, rapidly delivering the goods right to your doorstep.

No one has imagined corporate domination more expansively nor pushed it harder or further than Bezos, and his Amazon stands today as the most advanced and the most ambitious model of a future under oligarchic control, including control of markets, work, information, consumerism, media and beyond. He doesn't merely see himself remaking commerce with his vast electronic networks, algorithms and metrics - but rebooting America itself, including changing our society's concept of a job, the definition of community, and even our basic values of fairness and justice. It amounts to a breathtaking aspiration to transform our culture's democratic paradigm into a corporate imperium, led by Amazon.

Amazon's most recent announcement is that it wants to get inside your home - and, ironically, it's using "security" as its rationale. Rather than Amazon leaving products you order on your doorstep, the corporation wants a key to unlock your door so its delivery crews can do you the favor of placing the products you order inside your abode.

Would you give your house key to a complete stranger, letting that person - whose name you don't even know - walk right into your home when you're not there? What could possibly go wrong with that? Other than your being robbed, of course, either by rogue Amazon employees or by hackers who will certainly gain access to the corporation's computerized key codes. Or maybe "Crusher," your Pitbull, mauls the Amazon intruder and you get sued.

Need I mention that Bezos expects you to pay for the privilege of having his employees enter your home? First, his dicey, open-sesame program, which he calls "Amazon Key," is available only to customers who shell out $99 a year to be "Amazon Prime" members.

Second, you must buy a special internet-unlocking gizmo and a particular camera to join his corporate key club. And guess where you must go to buy this entry technology? Yes, Amazon - where prices for the system start at $250.

What a deal! For Amazon, that is. Bezos' real goal (indeed, his only goal, always) is not to get inside your home, but inside your wallet.

Not satisfied with just taking your money, Bezos is coming after your tax dollars as well.

Many politicians across the country piously rant against giving a few bucks worth of jobless benefits to the needy, then turn around and shove billions of our tax dollars into corporate welfare for the greedy!

And with Amazon, here we go again. We're presently witnessing the most disgusting spectacle yet of the politico-corporate cabal extracting money from the People's wallets to enrich themselves. The $136-billion-a-year internet colossus, has haughtily generated a shameful public bidding war over the location of its new corporate headquarters. The "winner" essentially will be the city and state that offers the most bribe money from their treasury.

Uber-rich Amazon doesn't need and certainly doesn't deserve this giveaway, but officials in 238 cities have prostrated themselves in front of the welfare queen in an embarrassing bid to win her nod. In fact, their offers have been based on Amazon's very specific demands, including a "business-friendly environment and tax structure," plus free land, payment of its capital and operational costs, tax breaks, relocation grants for executives and workforce, reduced utility bills and construction fees and... oh yeah, also give us first-rate schools and an educated labor pool.

As one analyst of Amazon's one-sided scams noted, "these incentives aren't free. There's no fairy godmother paying for them." The usual result of corporate giveaways is that the public cost exceeds any benefits we get back. Ironically, by demanding such corporate spoils, Amazon brands itself a common thief, stealing public trust in the fairness of the system and widening inequality in our society.
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Manafort Monday Turns Into A Very Bad Day For Trump-And Mike Pence
Paul Manafort put the Trump-Pence ticket together and maintained ties to the veep even after leaving the campaign.
By John Nichols

"The technical term for what we do and what law firms, associations and professional groups do is lobbying. For purposes of today, I will admit that in a narrow sense, some people might term it influence peddling," Paul Manafort admitted in 1989, when he testified regarding his role in a Reagan-era scandal at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Throughout his long career as a Republican Party fixer and influence peddler on behalf of what the Center for Public Integrity termed "the torture lobby"-a global cadre of dictators and strongmen who wanted to make sure the United States did not hold them to account-Manafort has been one of most troublesome creatures in the Washington "swamp" that Donald Trump decried as a presidential contender. Yet Manafort has also worked, from the 1980s on, for his client "Donald"-the New York billionaire who relied on Manafort to help clear hurdles for gambling and real-estate endeavors.

When "Donald" ran for the Republican presidential nomination, he needed influence peddlers to help him close the deal and organize a functional party convention in Cleveland. So he brought in the torture lobbyist and his associate Rick Gates to manage the campaign.

Manafort managed things for several months, while Gates remained on the Trump team as a key figure in the campaign, the transition process, and the planning of the new president's inauguration. Manafort also maintained a relationship with "Donald," reportedly continuing to talk with his longtime associate through the remainder of the campaign and into the transition process.

Now that Manafort and Gates have been indicted on 12 counts of money laundering involving at least $18 million, setting up secret overseas bank accounts through which $75 million flowed, lying to federal authorities, and operating as unregistered foreign agents for the government of a Ukrainian leader who is linked with the Russians, and now that it has been revealed that George Papadopoulos (a foreign-policy adviser to Trump who urged the candidate meet with Russian officials) has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the word from the White House is that Trump barely knows these guys and that the indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller have focused on figures who had only "limited" contact with the Trump team.

That sounds like the sort of "I-know-nothing" spin that Manafort counseled his clients to employ back in the day when he was working for the cruelest-and most criminal-dictators in the world. They should be recognized as the self-serving lies that they are.

Trump led the lying project with Monday-morning tweets that announced, first, "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????" and, second, "Also, there is NO COLLUSION!"

The truth is that Manafort's role in the Trump campaign was not "limited." It was definitional. When Manafort was in charge of making sure that the Republican platform-writing process and convention went smoothly, the party suddenly became dramatically friendlier to Russia-to such an extent that the headline on an analysis piece published in The Washington Post just before the convention read: "Trump campaign guts GOP's anti-Russia stance on Ukraine."

There will be many attempts to deny and dissemble. But one thing is certain: Manafort definitely put one man in the West Wing of the White House (and the adjoining Eisenhower Executive Office Building): Mike Pence.

It was Manafort who brought Pence, the scandal-plagued and politically vulnerable governor of Indiana, who had backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz in that state's Republican primary, into consideration as a vice-presidential prospect for Trump. Referring to Trump, Manafort explained last summer that "I brought him in to meet Pence." That manipulation, said Manafort, fostered the notion that Pence "had value to Trump as a potential VP nominee."

But the Manafort-Pence connection was about more than just introducing Trump to a Republican stalwart the fixer had known for many years. Veteran Republican strategist John Weaver says, "Remember, Manafort selected the VP and was therefore the most important person on the campaign team."

Most indications going into the 2016 Republican National Convention were that Trump wanted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to be his running mate, and that Christie was ready to take the gig.

But, according a CBS report on the negotiations, "Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager at the time, allegedly had another idea in mind." The report explained that:

Manafort had arranged for Trump to meet with his first choice for the job on July 13: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Afterwards, the plans was for Trump and Pence to then fly back to New York together and a formal announcement would be made, a campaign source said of Manafort's thinking:

What had previously been reported as a "lucky break" by the New York Times was actually a swift political maneuver devised by the now fired campaign manager. Set on changing Trump's mind, he concocted a story that Trump's plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.

Swayed by Pence's aggressive pitch, Trump agreed to ditch Christie and make Pence his VP the following day, according to a source.

It should be understood that Manafort had allies, especially Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was in the anyone-but-Christie camp because the New Jerseyan had, as a federal prosecutor, sent Kushner's dad to jail.

But the Manafort-Pence connection ought not be underestimated. Indeed, when CNN reported in December that Manafort had "reemerged as a player in the fight to shape the new administration," the network explained that "with Pence firmly entrenched in Trump's inner circle...Manafort-who keeps a home in Trump Tower-has a direct line to top decision-makers."

Pence ran the transition team, which populated the Trump administration with scandalous figures who have been accused of serious wrongdoing, including ousted White House national-security adviser Mike Flynn. After Flynn exited the administration under a cloud, Pence adopted his own "I-know-nothing" stance. But then it was revealed that Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had informed Pence in a November 18, 2016, letter that he was concerned about ethical issues that could arise from "Lt. Gen. Flynn's involvement in advising Mr. Trump on matters relating to Turkey or Russia-including attending classified briefings on those matters..."

Cummings said Pence and the transition team had "17 or 20 red lights" regarding Flynn, yet Flynn got security post.

There is a fantasy that suggests that Mike Pence is a mere spectator-and an ignorant one, at that-when it comes to the scandals associated with the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, and the Trump administration. That has never been true. Pence has often been at or near the center of things. And, as attention turns toward Manafort, it must also turn toward Pence.

That does not mean that Vice President Pence's connections, statements, and actions are of more concern that those of President Trump. But it does mean that Trump will not be the only member of the 2016 Republican ticket who faces serious scrutiny in 2017 and beyond.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Trump Assault On The Media
By James Donahue

Donald Trump's new verbal assaults against CNN's reports of comments he allegedly made concerning increasing the nation's nuclear stockpile appears to have also triggered his growing anger created by a general onslaught against his policies by the conservative press.

He now suggested that news outlets that give "unfavorable coverage" of Trump and his administration should have their broadcasting licenses "challenged."

Instead of learning from the growing number of unfavorable stories appearing in American media, Trump is taking a personal high road, refusing to think that his twisted and often conflicting commentary is in any way a reflection on his inability to stay focused and communicate with the American people.

In response, Seth Meyers, NBC's Late Night host, called Trump a "lazy wannabe dictator." Meyers suggested that Trump read the First Amendment to capture an understanding of the freedom's guaranteed the press.

We may laugh at Trump's wild comments, or attempt to dismiss them. But something is afoot in Washington these days that all Americans should be taking seriously. Trump and his newly appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, appear to be up to some serious skullduggery.

The two appear compelled to do away with Net Neutrality, which would threaten to shut down privately operated news websites like this one. And this is where the real stories are being told now that most media companies are owned and controlled by big corporations.

Indeed, by a 2-1 vote in May, the FCC agreed to proceed with a move to "scale back" the net neutrality protections put in place by the Obama Administration. We are only just beginning to feel the impact since the motion will go through a long period of public feedback on the FCC website before a final decision is made later this year. If we feel concerned, everyone should get personally involved in this complex issue. You can contribute via The Hill website.

Indeed, if Trump and his gang of "rethuglicans" can achieve disruption of Internet neutrality, they will have control of free speech and the era of the free press. Then Trump's "fake news" can be fed to the nation via the corporate television networks without anyone daring to question it. Meyers' warning of Trump's "wannabe" dictatorship could well come to pass. If enough braindead followers believe the lies pumped into their brains via their nightly televised news channels, he could conceivably control future elections, the military, and where our tax dollars are spent.

All Trump needs to accomplish this is a control of the media, the establishment of a strong conservative court system and a control of the nation's election system.

If you think the existing U.S. media channels and newspapers are already pumping out government propaganda, you probably haven't seen anything yet. FCC President Pai also is favoring a $4 billion deal by the Sinclair Broadcast Group to purchase Tribune Media. As head of the FCC, Pai also is reportedly dismantling consumer protections and regulations, and allowing Sinclair to consolidate media far beyond the limits long established by Congress.

The concept has always been designed to create competition among existing newspapers, television and radio stations so that news reports remain focused on acquiring the truth. When everything is owned and controlled by a single corporation, the reporters crank out what they are told to write or lose their jobs.

Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the organization known as Free Press, in a recent interview with investigative journalist Amy Goodman, said the Sinclair broadcasting group has ties to the Trump administration. He noted that he believes Sinclair is not worried about its plans for expansion because "it's the FCC who is arranging for them to be able to pull off these megadeals."

Thus the concern should be that Trump may soon be able to carry out his threats to throttle the press, and insist on the publishing of only favorable news stories. Any writer that dares to challenge this "president" could be threatened with arrest on charges of treason.
(c) 2017 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump meet beside a bust of former British
Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.

For Trump, Words Are Stupid Things
"Trump is a reductive force," journalist Peter Ross wrote in a recent superb article about Orwell and 1984 for Boston Review. "He wants everything to be as small and mean as his own heart, and he has made a start with words."
By Michael Winship

In Britain late last week, Conservative Member of Parliament Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, described Donald Trump as a "daft twerp."

Not quite the soaring rhetoric of his illustrious forebear but succinct.

Trump does have a way with words. Unfortunately, it's a gruesome way. His way is to use them as a blunt instrument to bully and belittle opponents. The rest of the time - when he's not reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter - his way with English is fumbling, incoherent, reckless and untruthful.

Soames rightly was objecting to a Trump tweet that tried to link a 13 percent rise in the crime rate in England and Wales to radical Islamic terrorism, a notion that the president may have picked up from a conspiracy website. The UK Office for National Statistics that issued the actual crime numbers denied there was any connection, leading many other British politicians to denounce the presidential tweet, including former Tory prime minister David Cameron, who described Trump's words as "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong."

Words. "I have the best words," Trump famously proclaimed during the campaign, and just the other day he told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News how "well-crafted" his goofy tweets are. The same man announced from the White House lawn on Wednesday that "I'm a very intelligent person" - words that sounded more self-deceptive than presidential.

Trump does have a way with words. Unfortunately, it's a gruesome way. His way is to use them as a blunt instrument to bully and belittle opponents. The rest of the time - when he's not reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter - his way with English is fumbling, incoherent, reckless and untruthful. Look no further than the contretemps that began with his false claim that unlike him, "most other presidents" didn't make phone calls to the families of military killed in action, which then rapidly nosedived even further, using the dead as a political football, then insulting the widow of a dead Green Beret hero and a Florida congresswoman.

"Ham-handed," historian, retired officer and Gold Star father Andrew Bacevich said of Trump's phone call to the wife of slain Sgt. La David Johnson. "The president's inability to use the English language is really without precedent in American politics."

The president's negligible grasp of his native tongue may be part of the reason we've been so taken the last couple of weeks by eloquent speeches from former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush as well as Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, all of whom articulated - without mentioning Trump's name - deep concern about the current state of the nation and the planet.


To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain "the last best hope of Earth" for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
We know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed; it the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy... Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
Naomi Klein Block
Words matter - an obvious notion but one that particularly strikes home not only because of those speeches and the constant reminders of Trump's benighted language skills but also from having just finished Thomas Ricks' book Churchill & Orwell, a thought-provoking reflection on the lives and work of Britain's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and George Orwell, author of the fable Animal Farm and the dystopian 1984 - source of "Big Brother is watching you," thought police, Newspeak ("War is peace," "Freedom is slavery") and the vision of a world in which truth is subverted to the state, inconvenient facts relegated to the "memory hole."
The connection between the pair may not be obvious - the men came from opposite ends of the political spectrum; one was flamboyant and public, the other more circumspect and private - but they were two of the 20th century's great rhetoricians. Each had "the same qualities and tools," Ricks explains. "Their intellects, their confidence in their own judgments even when those judgments were rebuked by most of their contemporaries, and their extraordinary skill with words."

... The heart of both men's stories is in the same crucial period from the rise of the Nazis until the aftermath of World War II. In this period, when so many gave up on democracy as a failure, neither man ever lost sight of the value of the individual in the world, and all that that means: the right to dissent from the majority, the right even to be persistently wrong, the right to distrust the power of the majority, and the need to assert that high officials might be in error - most especially when those in power strongly believe they are not.

During the war, Churchill's words rallied Britain and the United States in the fight against fascism. At the end of his life, George Orwell produced two masterpieces warning that despite victory over Germany and Japan, totalitarianism remained a clear and present danger, as it still does today, closer to home than in decades. "Many people around them expected evil to triumph and sought to make their peace with it," Thomas Ricks writes. "These two did not. They responded with courage and clear-sightedness."

... Orwell especially never stopped trying to see clearly through all the lies, obfuscations, and distractions. Instead of shaping facts to fit his opinions, he was willing to let facts change his opinions."

Orwell believed "Good prose is like a windowpane," but in his essay, Politics and the English Language, warned, "[P]olitical language... is designed to make its lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind."

And so we have Donald Trump, who even in his muddled syntax and circumlocution still manages to convey a message that fosters anger and fear while eschewing the facts. Orwell lays it out in 1984: "The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." All is fake news.

When Trump became president, he moved back to the Oval Office a bust of Winston Churchill. Doubtless, he regards the sculpture as a symbol of intrepid conservatism and resolve, or at least someone told him that. In any case, it's funny to think that Trump has in his eyesight a world leader who once insisted, "The man who cannot say what he has to say in good English cannot have very much to say that is worth listening to."

In some respects, a bust of George Orwell might be more appropriate, a reminder that this president already has brought to life some of the author's darkest fantasies. In Trump's Newspeak world, a climate denier is put in charge of the EPA, a foe of proper public schooling heads the Department of Education and unfortunate truths are wiped from official websites and tossed into the memory hole.

"Trump is a reductive force," journalist Peter Ross wrote in a recent superb article about Orwell and 1984 for Boston Review. "He wants everything to be as small and mean as his own heart, and he has made a start with words."

Daft twerp.
(c) 2017 Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers' Journal and is senior writer of

Mattis Is The Sane One. And He Just Said The North Korea Threat Is Accelerating
By Heather Digby Parton

We're spending all our time batting back ridiculous GOP scandal mongering and waiting for Mueller. Meanwhile, back in the real world, this is happening: U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday the threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating.

In remarks in Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs - and vowed to defeat any attack.

Mattis said North Korea engages in "outlaw" behavior and that the U.S. will never accept a nuclear North.

He added that regardless of what the North might try, it is overmatched by the firepower and cohesiveness of the decades-old U.S.-South Korean alliance.

"North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs," he said, adding that U.S.-South Korean military and diplomatic collaboration thus has taken on "a new urgency."

"I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power," he said.

As he emphasized throughout his weeklong Asia trip, which included stops in Thailand and the Philippines, Mattis said diplomacy remains the preferred way to deal with the North.

"With that said," he added, "make no mistake - any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response that is effective and overwhelming."

Mattis' comments did not go beyond his recent statements of concern about North Korea, although he appeared to inject a stronger note about the urgency of resolving the crisis. While he accused the North of "outlaw" behavior, he did not mention that President Donald Trump has ratcheted up his own rhetoric. In August, Trump warned the North not to make any more threats against the United States, and said that if it did, it would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen." Song, the South Korean minister, told the news conference that he and Mattis agreed to further cooperation on strengthening Seoul's defense capabilities, including lifting warhead payload limits on South Korean conventional missiles and supporting the country's acquisition of "most advanced military assets." He offered no specifics and refused to answer when asked whether the discussions included nuclear-powered submarines. Some South Korean government officials have endorsed the nation getting nuclear-powered submarines amid calls for more military strength. There's a growing concern among the South Korean public that North Korea's expanding nuclear weapons arsenal, which may soon include an intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the U.S. mainland, would undermine Seoul's decadeslong alliance with Washington.

South Korea's conservative politicians have also called for the United States to bring back tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from the Korean Peninsula in the 1990s, which they say would make clearer the U.S. intent to use nukes in a crisis. But Mattis and Song were strongly dismissive of the idea.

"When considering national interest, it's much better not to deploy them," said Song, adding that the allies would have "sufficient means" to respond to a North Korean nuclear attack even without placing tactical nukes in the South. Mattis said current U.S. strategic assets are already providing nuclear deterrence and that the South Korean government has never approached him with the subject of tactical nukes.

Also discussed in the meeting were the conditions under which South Korea would be given wartime operational control of its forces. Currently, if war with the North broke out, the South's forces would operate under the U.S.-led U.N. Command.

Trump entered office declaring his commitment to solving the North Korea problem, asserting that he would succeed where his predecessors had failed. His administration has sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang through U.N. Security Council sanctions and other diplomatic efforts, but the North hasn't budged from its goal of building a full-fledged nuclear arsenal, including missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

If Trump sticks to his pledge to stop the North from being able to threaten the U.S. with a nuclear attack, something will have to give - either a negotiated tempering of the North's ambitions or a U.S. acceptance of the North as a nuclear power.

North Korea has been a nuclear power since 2006. So what it sounds like here is that the US plans regime change, which, in the wake of Iraq and Libya --- and now Trump's bellowing about Iran too --- has set Kim Jong Un on this accelerated path.

It might have happened no matter who won. But nobody could be worse that Trump in trying to manage it. He says his is the only decisions that matters and that he is "tougher and stronger" than his advisers.

I don't know what will happen but this is what keeps me up at night.
(c) 2017Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Woodland caribou

Government Inaction, Industry Tactics Increase Caribou Risks
By David Suzuki

October 5 came and went, and Canada's boreal woodland caribou are still in trouble. That was the deadline the federal government gave provinces and territories five years ago to come up with caribou range plans for the iconic animals. Not one met the deadline.

Why should we care about caribou? Beyond the fact that we should care about all animals that play important roles in the ecological makeup of this "super natural" country, caribou are indicators of forest health. When caribou are healthy, it's a sign the forests they live in are healthy. Forests provide numerous ecological services, such as preventing floods, storing carbon and regulating climate, as well as habitat for animals and plants and livelihoods and resources for people.

Failing to protect caribou habitat affects many Indigenous Peoples' rights, cultures and traditional livelihoods, and risks tarnishing Canada's reputation in the global marketplace. U.S. and international customers buy our products on the understanding that we'll protect wildlife and honour commitments to Indigenous peoples.

In 2012, the federal government's recovery strategy for boreal caribou concluded that only 14 of 51 herds were healthy enough to sustain themselves. The strategy, developed by 18 top caribou scientists, established a strong relationship between the extent of habitat disturbance and whether a local population increases, declines or remains stable.

The recovery strategy identifies a minimum of 65 per cent undisturbed habitat in a range as the "disturbance management threshold." Based on this, the government gave provinces and territories five years to develop plans to protect or restore critical habitat.

In the face of ineffective stopgap measures - like killing predators such as wolves and bears, and penning female caribou to keep predators away - many scientists, environmentalists and First Nations have been calling on governments to address the real problem: cumulative disturbance. Roads and seismic lines for forestry, mining and oil and gas operations, along with industrial activity, have fragmented and degraded caribou habitat, altering predator-prey dynamics.

In response to the obvious need for immediate action to protect and restore caribou habitat to reverse the creatures' decline across the country, the Forest Products Association of Canada has done its part to stall the necessary changes. It claims, among other arguments, that the recovery strategy is being rushed; the science is uncertain, incomplete and out of date; the 65/35 disturbance threshold is too rigid; boreal caribou are recovering with good management plans across the country; and climate change isn't being considered as a major cause of decline.

Caribou don't have time to wait, and the science is clear. Many herds were identified as threatened more than 17 years ago, and provinces and territories have had five years to come up with plans. Although the causes of caribou decline are varied and complex, decades of research have shown habitat degradation is a major factor and habitat protection and restoration must be the foundation for recovery plans.

As for rigidity, provinces and territories have been given space to vary their plans based on science, but even protecting or restoring 65 per cent intact habitat only gives caribou a 60 per cent chance of survival.

Climate change is, of course, a factor in the decline of many plants and animals, but that doesn't explain the rapid decline of caribou, nor should it be used as an excuse to ignore habitat destruction.

Industrial resource-extraction operators often claim their practices are sustainable. Yet these practices have contributed to caribou decline and, under the current management regime, there is no evidence herds are recovering. Either the research shows continued declines or, in some cases such as Ontario, populations haven't been monitored for four to six years.

It's time for governments and industry to stop dragging their heels. Habitat maintenance and restoration should be recognized as a cost of doing business in the boreal.

Yes, we need to continue studying caribou and ways to keep their populations stable, and industry has an important role to play. Stalling, raising doubt about the research and exempting industry from regulations, as Ontario has done, will increase risks for boreal caribou.

Governments and industry must work with Indigenous Peoples to stop industrial expansion in boreal caribou ranges that have exceeded 35 per cent disturbance and take immediate steps to restore and protect critical habitat. Time is running out.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Pro Tip: Lying To The FBI Is Never A Good Idea
You thought the Manafort indictment was bad? Look at this.
By Charles P. Pierce

That sound you heard was another shoe dropping from the human centipede that is Camp Runamuck. Bloomberg grabbed the breaking news.

A former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, secretly pleaded guilty as part of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Bloomberg News' Tom Schoenberg reports. Papadopoulos had suggested that Donald Trump meet with top Russian leaders during the campaign. He pleaded guilty to making false statements during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And who is Mr. Papadopoulos? Well, via Newsweek, The Washington Post gave us the 411 on this fellow last August.
In March 2016, in an email to the campaign's foreign policy team, Papadopoulos suggested he coordinate "a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump," the Post reported, citing internal campaign emails turned over to congressional committees. Those committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice special counsel, is overseeing a separate FBI probe on the same subject...

...But months later, in June 2016, Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who had promised disparaging information about Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. has said he did nothing wrong by attending the meeting. But William Browder, a financier and longtime critic of the Russian government, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July that the lawyer was probably trying to initiate an agreement on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pro Tip: Lying to the FBI is never a good idea.

Pro Tip II: It would seem to be a very good bet that Papadopoulous already has flipped. (The plea deal's sentence recommendation begins at "zero" months, which is a tell.)

Releasing the Papadopolous plea deal was a remarkably deft play by Mueller, whose political savvy is mysteriously under-discussed. The initial White House reaction to the news about Paul Manafort was that everything happened years ago, and what the hell is Mueller doing? Now, we have a completed legal proceeding containing the words "Trump campaign," "Russia," and "disparaging information on Hillary Clinton." Alibis are dropping like the autumn leaves.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."
~~~ Thomas Jefferson

How Peace Studies Can Help End Wars
By David Swanson

Remarks at Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, October 28, 2017.

Thank you for inviting me. Can everyone who thinks that war is never, and can never be, justified please raise your hand. Thank you. Now if you think every war is always justified. Thank you. And finally all the moderates holding the balanced subtle middle ground: some wars are justified. Thank you. You may not be surprised to hear that this room is not typical of this country. Typical is for absolutely everyone to pile into that last group.

The relationship between peace and war is clearly not understood by the U.S. public as along the lines of that between alive and dead. Peace and war are things people imagine can coexist.

In Virginia, where I live, a school board member once said he would support recognizing the international day of peace as long as nobody misunderstood and thought he was opposed to any wars.

In Washington, D.C., two years ago I visited the U.S. Institute of Peace along with some other peace activists. We met with some of the top people there and asked them if they would join us in opposing wars. Their president told me there was more than one way to get to peace. I asked her if one of those ways was through war. She asked me to define war. I said that war was the use of the U.S. military to kill people. She said that "non-combat troops" could be the answer. I think I may have been left with only nonverbal words at that point in the conversation. A non-combat troop is a person trained for combat, armed for combat, sent to an area of likely combat, and called a "non-combat troop."

Here's a project on which I could use a great deal of help from Peace Studies programs. I want to persuade the general public that a choice has to be made. On one side is peace, and on the other war.

I believe we have plenty of models to work from. I believe that not only at an early childhood education conference but even in a public square virtually every person would raise their hand to say that child abuse is never justified and can never be justified. And very few would propose using child abuse as a means to arrive at a state of respectful nurturing. There are many other things that one has to work to find open defenders of, things like slavery, dueling, trial by ordeal, or Jeff Sessions. And there are nasty things that most people support or accept: mass incarceration, fossil fuel consumption, animal slaughter, nuclear weapons, hedge funds, the United States Senate - and yet, even with these, a proposal to abolish them is understood as squarely opposed to continuing them. Partial steps are good and necessary, but a plan to get to a green-energy world by burning off all the oil is not understood as actually being a green proposal - not in the way that millions of people imagine bombing North Korea or Iran is the best way to make peace with North Korea or Iran.

Of course no two things are the same, and the arguments that most people believe support wars do not support slavery or fossil fuel use or child abuse. Yet, I believe that most of what makes war unique weighs in favor of abolishing it. And I believe peace studies can go very far toward persuading people that common defenses of war don't hold up.

I. Here's the first point that I believe is established by the facts but badly in need of being learned: War endangers those in whose name it is threatened and waged. Obviously we don't begin sporting events by thanking armed troops for endangering us, but we might be more in touch with reality if we did. Terrorism has predictably increased during the war on terrorism (as measured by the Global Terrorism Index). 99.5% of terrorist attacks occur in countries engaged in wars and/or engaged in abuses such as imprisonment without trial, torture, or lawless killing. The highest rates of terrorism are in "liberated" and "democratized" Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorist groups responsible for the most terrorism (that is, non-state, politically motivated violence) around the world have grown out of U.S. wars against terrorism. Those wars themselves have left numerous just-retired top U.S. government officials and even a few U.S. government reports describing military violence as counterproductive, as creating more enemies than are killed. Every military action now seems to be launched by a chorus of cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, and senators chanting "There is no military solution. There is no military solution," as they try to solve yet another problem militarily. The violence that the new enemies they create engage in sometimes makes it into the category of terrorism. Then there are the non-terrorism (that is, non-politically motivated) mass-murders that have become an epidemic in a United States that has militarized its police, its entertainment, its economy, and its culture. Here are some facts from a wonderful publication called the Peace Science Digest: "Deployment of troops to another country increases the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. Weapons exports to another country increase the chance of attacks from terror organizations from that country. 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist's home country." In fact, I'm not aware of a foreign terrorist threat, attempt, or action against the United States, in which a motivation was stated, where that motivation was anything other than opposition to U.S. military imperialism. I think we can safely draw three conclusions.

1) Foreign terrorism in the United States can be virtually eliminated by keeping the U.S. military out of any country that is not the United States.

2) If Canada or some other country wanted the weapons sales that could only come from generating anti-Canadian terrorist networks on a U.S. scale or just wanted more threats of terrorism, it would need to radically increase its bombing, occupying, and base construction around the world.

3) On the model of the war on terrorism, the war on drugs that produces more drugs, and the war on poverty that seems to increase poverty, we would be wise to consider launching a war on sustainable prosperity and happiness.

II. Here's the second big area where I think education is needed: We do not need wars to defend us. Given the number of people, and powerful people, and well-placed people who believe that we do need wars to defend us, and who view the renaming of the War Department as the Defense Department as essentially a question of accuracy, it's worth taking this belief very seriously. In fact, I would like to take it so seriously as to insist that its proponents create effective definitions of defensive and offensive actions, and of defensive and offensive weaponry, and make eliminating the offensive varieties a top priority.

Is massing troops on a border thousands of miles from your own country defensive or offensive? If it's defensive, should we demand that every country start routinely doing it? Is attacking seven countries that have not attacked yours offensive or defensive? Is an airplane designed to evade detection before dropping nuclear bombs or napalm defensive? Is installing missiles near a distant land that views them as offensive defensive if you call it "missile defense"? Is giving airplanes and pilots and trainers to China while blockading and threatening Japan until it attacks defensive or offensive? Is attacking territory where people attempt to secede from a country defensive or offensive? Is dropping white phosphorus on people because their ruler is alleged to have used chemical weapons on his own people offensive or defensive, or simply acceptable because you're killing somebody else's people? Is attacking first before someone else can attack you defensive, offensive, or does it depend on who is doing it - and if it depends on who is doing it, how does one obtain that special privilege?

I don't think you can clearly define every action as defensive or offensive to everyone's satisfaction, much less stop all parties from proclaiming their status as defensive actors. But I do think you can get broad agreement on enough to identify three quarters of U.S. military expenditures, and an enormous percentage of U.S. weapons sales, as having no defensive purpose, and serving rather to endanger than to protect. I would include on that list: U.S. troop presence in 175 countries, U.S. "Special" Forces in 135 countries, U.S./Saudi war in Yemen, U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, all nuclear weapons, all aircraft carriers, all vehicles not designed for guarding U.S. borders, all State Department and Pentagon personnel employed marketing U.S. weaponry to foreign governments, and all U.S. weapons sales (and gifts) to foreign governments and non-state fighters. So, if someone believes in military defense, we need have no argument. Instead we can work on scaling the U.S. military back in a manner that I guarantee will create a reverse arms race around the world, make us safer, and make total abolition seem dramatically more realistic to everyone than it does now.

Of course we are not taking partial steps toward establishing a defensive Defense Department, because the distinction between "defensive" and "offensive" war is a distinction of rhetoric and justification, not of action. The U.S. prepares for and engages in so-called "defensive" wars in a manner that the earth could never survive, environmentally or militarily, if even just two nations did it, and in a manner indistinguishable from preparation for offensive wars. Thus it becomes important to recognize necessary partial steps away from militarism not as ends in themselves or steps toward better wars, but as steps toward abolition.

The idea that we don't actually need some reasonable level of military defense is boosted by studies like Erica Chenoweth's and Maria Stephan's showing the superiority of nonviolent action to violent. My hope is that the more that people learn the tools of nonviolence and their power, the more they will believe in and choose to make use of that power, which will increase the power of nonviolence in a virtuous cycle. At some point I can imagine people laughing at the idea that some foreign dictatorship is going to invade and occupy a nation ten times its size, full of people dedicated to nonviolent noncooperation with occupiers. Already, I get a laugh on a frequent basis when people email me with the threat that if I do not support war I had better be prepared to start speaking North Korean or what they call "the ISIS language." Apart from the nonexistence of these languages, the idea that anybody is going to get 300 million Americans to learn any foreign language, much less do so at gun point, almost makes me cry. I can't help imagining how much weaker war propaganda might be if all Americans did know multiple languages.

Peace Studies, I think, has the job of replacing just war theory with just peace theory. It shouldn't be that hard a job. Just war criteria come in three types: non-empirical, impossible, and amoral.

The Non-Empirical Criteria: A just war is supposed to have the right intention, a just cause, and proportionality. But these are devices of rhetoric. When your government says bombing a building where ISIS stashes money justifies killing up to 50 people, there's no agreed upon, empirical means to reply No, only 49, or only 6, or up to 4,097 people can be justly killed. There's no kilodometer or mechanical Madeleine Albright that I can plug in and use to measure the number of justifiable murders. Identifying a government's intention is far from simple, and attaching a just cause like ending slavery to a war doesn't make that cause inherent to that war. Slavery can be ended in many ways, while no war has ever been fought for a single reason. Slavery in Birmingham, Alabama, certainly wasn't ended by a war. If Myanmar had more oil we'd be hearing about genocide prevention as a just cause for invading, and no doubt worsening, the crisis.

The Impossible Criteria: A just war is supposed to be a last resort, have a reasonable prospect of success, keep noncombatants immune from attack, respect enemy soldiers as human beings, and treat prisoners of war as noncombatants. None of these things is even possible. To call something a "last resort" is in reality merely to claim it is the best idea you have, not the only idea you have. There are always other ideas that anyone can think of. Every time we urgently need to bomb Iran or we're all going to die, and we don't, and we don't, the urgency of the next demand to bomb Iran loses a bit of its shine and the infinite options of other things to do become a little easier to see. If war really were the only idea you had, you wouldn't be debating ethics, you'd be running for Congress.

What about respecting a person while trying to kill her or him? There are lots of ways to respect a person, but none of them can exist simultaneously with trying to kill that person. In fact, I would rank right at the bottom of people who respect me those who were trying to kill me. Remember that just war theory began with people who believed killing someone was doing them a favor. Noncombatants are the majority of casualties in modern wars, so they cannot be kept safe, but they are not locked in cages, so prisoners cannot be treated like noncombatants while imprisoned.

The Amoral Criteria: Just wars are supposed to be publicly declared and waged by legitimate and competent authorities. These are not moral concerns. Even in a world where we had legitimate and competent authorities, they wouldn't make a war any more or less just. Does anyone really picture a family in Yemen hiding from a constantly buzzing drone and expressing gratitude that the drone has been sent to them by a competent authority? Are there any documented cases of such attitudes?

But the biggest reason that no war can ever be just is not that no war can ever meet all the criteria of just war theory, but rather that war is not just an incident, it is an institution.

III. This is the third lesson that I think needs to be taught widely. War carries a lot of baggage, and it all has to be paid for. Some people who believe that some wars might be good can't identify any of them beyond wars they wish had happened that didn't, most prominently in Rwanda. Others can identify a handful of recent wars they think are justifiable. But most people in the United States are willing to concede that most wars have not been justified, often including every war of the past three-quarters of a century. Yet, most such people (generally oblivious to a half dozen wars currently underway, and having formed no conclusions about their justness) insist that there might be a necessary war any minute, or as soon as a president from their preferred party is in the White House, and that World War II, the U.S. Civil War, and the American Revolution were justified. I've written at great length and talked myself out of breath on why those examples do not hold up, but let's just concede for the sake of argument that they do. Can a choice from a radically different era justify war the institution now, this year and next year and the year after that?

If a candidate for the title of just war were to materialize next week, here's what it would have to do to be just. First, it would have to meet enough criteria to somehow count as a morally defensible action in itself. Second, it would have to outweigh all the damage done by, let's say, 72 years of unjust wars that would not have occurred but for the maintenance of the institution of war. Third, it would have to do so much good as to outweigh 72 years of spending on a scale that has killed many more people than have 72 years of wars. The U.S. government spends about $1 trillion on war and war preparations each year, while $30 billion per year could end starvation, and $11 billion could end the lack of clean drinking water globally. Fourth, this miraculously just war would have to outweigh 72 years worth of environmental damage by the leading destroyer of the earth and its climate. (The fact that the U.S. military is that top environmental destroyer also needs to be made much better known and understood.) Fifth, for a war to actually measure up as just it would have to outweigh the damage that war does to the rule of law. War is illegal under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and all current wars are also illegal under the U.N. Charter. Numerous atrocities within the wars are also illegal. Fraud committed to start wars is illegal. And of course we lose more legal rights as citizens, defendants, and activists through the course of each war.

A rather disgusting last-ditch effort to put something on the positive side of the balance for the institution of war is the claim that war is economically beneficial, at least to those nations waging wars far from home. The University of Massachusetts - Amherst studies showing that other spending and even tax cuts for working people are economically preferable to war have been invaluable. So have various studies informing us of how much people know about levels of military spending (very little) and what they want to do once informed, for example, of what the U.S. federal budget looks like (they want to move a great deal out of the military).

There is no significant upside to war. Thrill seekers can find them in nonviolent action. Courage can be exercised against a growing onslaught of fires and hurricanes - though the popularity of shooting guns at hurricanes is not what I have in mind, and is, I think, a symptom of war madness. Young people helped to grow up and mature by being screamed at and disciplined in the military would in most cases have been better off with loving and dedicated parents or friends. War is not needed. We can leave it to the ants, who are far better at it. We're better off without it. We can actually stop denouncing something as "not a necessary war." Nobody accuses anyone of a non-necessary rape or a kitten-torturing of choice or an illegal kidnapping. No qualifiers are needed for these evils, or for the greatest evil of all: war.

But what do we replace war with? I have three answers, progressively less flippant.

1) What do we replace murder or rape or arson or looting with? Nothing. We just stop committing those crimes. What should the U.S. government have done instead of attacking Afghanistan? Not attacked Afghanistan.

2) We replace war with talking. Jimmy Carter who has successfully negotiated with North Korea suggests negotiating with North Korea. Mikhail Gorbachev who has successfully negotiated with Ronald Reagan suggests that Trump and Putin give it a try. The government of Afghanistan prior to the past 16 years of war was open to discussing the handover of Osama bin Laden to a third nation to be tried on any charges against him.

3) We replace the institution of war with new and improved institutions of peace that advance cooperation, aid, diplomacy, democracy, and the rule of law. On behalf of World Beyond War, I recently submitted an entry in a competition created by a Hungarian-Swedish billionaire for a design of a better system of world government. Once we've failed to win a million dollars (and save the world) we'll publish our proposal. But we have already published a book called A Global Security System that outlines a future without war systems and war economies. In all such planning we can draw on the work of Peace Studies informing us of what sorts of sanctions have been helpful and hurtful, and what forms of governments best resist war. Instead of attacking Afghanistan, the U.S. government could have presented evidence against those it accused and sought their extradition, offered aid to Afghanistan, built schools in Afghanistan - as Shirin Ebadi proposed - each named for a victim of 9/11, withdrawn its troops from the Middle East and Asia, joined the International Criminal Court, moved to eliminate the veto power at the United Nations, impeached George W. Bush, opened negotiations for a global nuclear weapons ban, abolished the CIA, returned the stolen land at Guantanamo to the nation of Cuba and ended its blockade, increased green energy rather than war spending by a half-trillion dollars a year, and pledged never ever to create any agencies with the word "Homeland" in their names.

Treating war as an institution makes it seem larger and more daunting, but it also means that it is possible to create the conditions in which wars do not happen. That's far more difficult with individual crimes. Tomorrow a major dispute may arise between Costa Rica and Iceland, but they are almost certain to resolve it short of war, principally because they'd have to create militaries before attacking each other.

IV. The fourth big area where I think Peace Studies can help end war is through the advancement of Peace History, Peace Journalism, and Peace Training in Resistance to Propaganda. I realize that we face hurdles here other than lack of accurate and well-conceived information. I remember when believers in weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were shown evidence to the contrary and consequently believed in the weapons all the more strongly. And, by the way, you generally do not, of course, have to persuade people who believe their televisions that their facts are wrong. You can choose to start a very different conversation, such as asking whether all nations that possess weapons of mass destruction should be utterly destroyed, or asking whether the CIA was all wrong when it suggested that the best way to get Iraq to use its weapons would be to attack Iraq. I also remember when the U.S. public powerfully opposed attacking Syria in 2013 only to completely lose its mind the next year when it saw or heard about horribly frightening ISIS videos. Fear is not always conquerable by means of facts or context - such as the fact that toddlers with guns are a bigger danger in the United States than ISIS is. But, among many other things, facts do matter, useful analysis does matter, and changing the conversation to one not framed by sound bytes on subservient corporate advertising-based media matters.

I'm not sure that, in general, even without an unfair draft, one's level of formal education makes one more likely to oppose militarism. But it does seem to be the case that in general the more one knows about a country, a situation, and the range of options the more one favors peace. Various studies have found people's ability to accurately locate a country on a globe to be inversely proportional to their desire to see the U.S. government bomb that country. Ordinary folks and even members of Congress have, when prompted, expressed their belief in the need to bomb various countries with funny names that do not actually exist. Without a doubt people would not hold those relatively harmless beliefs if they knew the names of the world's nations. I'd also be willing to bet, although I have no evidence for it, that an American's willingness to declare the United States the "greatest nation on earth" is inversely proportional to the amount of time he or she has spent outside of the United States or its military bases. And then there's a study I read about in Peace Science Digest that found that people are much more willing to oppose a war if told there are alternatives, but that if neither told that there are nor that there are not alternatives then they are just as supportive of a war as if they had been told there are no alternatives. The researchers concluded that, contrary to logic and past experience, many people simply assume that the U.S. government has already exhausted all alternatives before launching any war. This, it seems to me, can be countered in three ways. First, by creating the understanding that there are ALWAYS alternatives. Second, by pointing out specific current alternatives. And third, by reviewing a little peace history - taking peace history to include antiwar history.

I don't think most text books in U.S. schools point out the following pattern:

Spain wanted the matter of the Maine to go to international arbitration, but the U.S. preferred war.
Mexico was willing to negotiate the sale of its northern half without war.
Peace activists urged the British and Americans to negotiate to transport the Jews out of Germany, but Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden replied that it would be too much bother when they needed to focus on the war.
The Soviet Union proposed peace negotiations before the Korean War.
The United States rejected peace proposals for Vietnam from the Vietnamese, the Soviets, and the French, including through Richard Nixon secretly sabotaging a peace agreement prior to his first election.
Prior to the First Gulf War, the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate withdrawal from Kuwait, as the King of Jordan, the Pope, the President of France, the President of the Soviet Union, and many others urged a peaceful settlement.
Prior to Shock and Awe, the U.S. president had been concocting cockamamie schemes to get a war started; the Iraqi government had approached the CIA's Vincent Cannistrato to offer to let U.S. troops search the entire country; the Iraqi government had offered to hold internationally monitored elections within two years; the Iraqi government had offered Bush official Richard Perle to open the whole country to inspections, to turn over a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, to help fight terrorism, and to favor U.S. oil companies; and the Iraqi president had offered, in the account that the president of Spain was given by the U.S. president, to simply leave Iraq if he could keep $1 billion. In March 2011 the African Union had a plan for peace in Libya but was prevented by NATO, through the creation of a "no fly zone" and the initiation of bombing, to travel to Libya to discuss it. In April, the African Union was able to discuss its plan with Ghadafi, and he expressed his agreement. The U.S. preferred war.
The U.S. government has spent years sabotaging UN attempts at peace in Syria, and dismissed out of hand a Russian peace proposal for Syria in 2012.
The point of this handful of examples, which could be multiplied, is that, just as racism has to be carefully taught, war has to be carefully created and peace carefully avoided at all costs. War doesn't just occur naturally of its own volition, even though threats and buildups and faulty nukes and radar systems can risk making it more likely. Most people don't engage in war without intense conditioning, and most people suffer intensely from having done so. This point is strengthened greatly by the work of Douglas Fry and others who document the common existence of humans through history and prehistory without war. Believe it or not, despite our great admiration for innovation, many people simply refuse to be part of anything (even living without war) unless it has been done before. So, informing people that it has been done before performs a great service.

Peace Studies needs to include lessons in lie detection, in recognition of common propaganda techniques, and in smart reading of news.

Raise your hand: who can tell me the most successful step yet taken to contain Iran's nuclear weapons program?

The U.S.-Iran nuclear deal? No. The correct answer is the 2005 decree against nuclear weapons by Iran's religious leader, or in other words the fact that Iran did not in 2015 have any nuclear weapons program, nor did it in 2007 according to the U.S. "National Intelligence Estimate." Nor did it ever, according to the reporting of Gareth Porter and others. Of course a deal is better than a war, but believing all the rhetoric of the deal's supporters can be counterproductive, and assuming that one corrupt political party must be 100% right if the other corrupt political party is wrong guarantees disaster.

We need to be trained in resisting demonization of groups of people and identification of groups of people with single demonized individuals. We need practice at distinguishing people from warmongering officials, abroad and at home. We need to resist identifying ourselves with a military. Even a peace activist who has protested a war and gone to jail to try to stop it will blurt out "We just dropped bombs." No, we didn't. The U.S. military did. Of course non-tax-resisters will immediately proclaim their responsibility to talk about the Pentagon in the first person because they pay taxes or simply because they live in the United States. But they pay local taxes and refer to their local government as their local government, not as "we." They pay state taxes and refer to their state government as the government of their state. And when the federal government bails out a bank or eliminates an estate tax or denies people health care it's rarely in the first person. Nobody says "We just eliminated my health coverage." The first person is used for what a government does to other people. The first person accompanies the military and the flag that must be worshiped, which is not a local, state, or earth flag, or a flag of peace.

Studies find that many people in the United States value U.S. lives far more highly than they value the other 96% of humanity. We need to learn to resist the immorality of that, to do what is called humanizing to most of humanity, and to learn who it is that suffers in what we call wars but could as accurately call one-sided slaughters. Ralph Peters wrote in the New York Post that it is worth killing a million North Koreans to save 1,000 U.S. lives.

We have to learn to be wise judges of claims that wars can be humanitarian, beneficial, philanthropic. There has yet to be a humanitarian war that benefitted humanity. Claims that opportunities for such successes have been missed or are still ahead of us should be treated with the skepticism they deserve.

We have to learn to counter the propaganda of troopism and the silly but dangerous notion that opposing a war is the equivalent of supporting the other side of a war. I want to read here a few paragraphs from my book War Is A Lie:

"The chairman of the house appropriations committee from 2007 through 2010 was David Obey (D-WI). When the mother of a soldier being sent to Iraq for the third time and being denied needed medical care asked him to stop funding the war in 2007 with a 'supplemental' spending bill, Congressman Obey screamed at her (and a Youtube video of him screaming made the news for 15 minutes), saying among other things: 'We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war, but you can't end the war by going against the supplemental. It's time these idiot liberals understand that. There's a big difference between funding the troops and ending the war. I'm not gonna deny body armor. I'm not gonna deny funding for veterans' hospitals, defense hospitals, so you can help people with medical problems, that's what you're gonna do if you're going against the bill.' Congress had funded the war on Iraq for years without providing troops with adequate body armor. But funding for body armor was now in a bill to prolong the war. And funding for veterans' care, which could have been provided in a separate bill, was packaged into this one. Why? Precisely so that people like Obey could more easily claim that the war funding was for the benefit of the troops. Of course it's still a transparent reversal of the facts to say that you can't end the war by ceasing to fund it. And if the troops came home, they wouldn't need body armor, [at least outside of Las Vegas and Orlando and wherever's next]. But Obey had completely internalized the crazy propaganda of war promotion. He seemed to actually believe that the only way to end a war was to pass a bill to fund it but to include in the bill some minor and rhetorical antiwar gestures. On July 27, 2010, having failed for another three-and-a-half years to end the wars by funding them, Obey brought to the House floor a bill to fund an escalation of the war on Afghanistan, specifically to send 30,000 more troops plus corresponding contractors into that hell. Obey announced that his conscience was telling him to vote no on the bill because it was a bill that would just help recruit people who want to attack Americans. On the other hand, Obey said, it was his duty as committee chair (apparently a higher duty than the one to his conscience) to bring the bill to the floor. Even though it would encourage attacks on Americans? Isn't that treason? Obey proceeded to speak against the bill he was bringing to the floor. Knowing it would safely pass, he voted against it. One could imagine, with a few more years of awakening, David Obey reaching the point of actually trying to stop funding a war he 'opposes,' except that Obey had already announced his plan to retire at the end of 2010. He ended his career in Congress on that high note of hypocrisy because war propaganda, most of it about troops, has persuaded legislators that they can be 'critics' and 'opponents' of a war while funding it."
Something else Peace Studies can help us with is figuring out the actual motivations for wars that are hiding behind all the false ones. I've never found a war with only one motivation, but some motivations are quite common. Pleasing what we euphemistically call election campaign donors is one, pleasing the media another, pleasing certain voters yet another, and pleasing the irrational urges of warmakers one of the biggest of all. The Pentagon Papers famously revealed that the Pentagon thought 70% of the reason to keep killing people in Vietnam was to save face. Often the reasons for wars that kill millions closely resemble the reasons for bullying in a school hallway that frightens one child (which may be why it makes sense for anti-bullying clubs to call themselves peace clubs, though I wish they'd oppose wars). But other, more solid (or sometimes liquid) reasons for wars exist. Again I quote from Peace Science Digest: "Oil importing countries are 100 times more likely to intervene in civil wars of oil exporting countries. The more oil produced or owned by a country, the higher the likelihood of third-party interventions. Oil is a motivating factor for military interventions in civil wars." But how do we find honest and accurate accounts of motivations or of anything else? With the internet telling us everything and its opposite, how do we find the right news? My top 10 tips are:
*Read more books than articles.
*Avoid allowing Facebook or Google to decide what's news for you.
*Diversify your sources of news, and read news about your country that comes from outside your country.
*Consider what smart people you trust believe.
*Read websites that collect articles on topics that interest you.
*Don't read about a video, watch the video; and don't read about a statement or report or tweet, read the statement or report or tweet.
*Read only what you believe are important topics, whether or not they are the big and popular topics.
*Question everything, especially what is assumed without being asserted.
*Believe what is best documented, not what is most in the middle of a range of claims.
*Be willing to remain in doubt, and willing to believe horrible things when proven.
V. The fifth and final area where I think Peace Studies can help end wars is in correcting a blind spot in parts of academia by pointing out that, while many countries make weapons and wars, the world's leading warmaker and weapons dealer is the United States government.

There is a reason that most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world, and why Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017. But it is a reason that eludes that strain of U.S. academia that first defines war as something that nations and groups other than the United States do, and then concludes that war has nearly vanished from the earth.

Since World War II, during a supposed golden age of peace, the United States military has killed or helped kill some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 82 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. The U.S. government provides military aid to 73% of the world's dictatorships. Wars often have U.S. weapons on both sides.

In conjunction with learning to outgrow nationalism, we need to outgrow what I sometimes call Pinkerism, though it's something found in Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Daniel Goldhagen, Ian Morris, and many, many others.

To claim that war is vanishing is one point. To erase the warmaking of what Dr. King called the greatest purveyor of violence on earth, the U.S. government, is another.

That war is vanishing is dubious, and certainly exaggerated. Looking at pre-historic tribes only back to 14,000 BCE, as Pinker does, misses most of human existence, puts a controversial interpretation on what early tribes did, and spins the statistics by measuring casualties in relation to those in the immediate area while measuring recent war deaths against the larger population of distant imperial countries, and while excluding delayed deaths from toxic poisoning, injuries, poverty, and suicides - and, of course, excluding deaths from famines and disease epidemics created by wars, and obviously not considering the lives that could have been saved with the funding that is wasted on wars.

Pretending that the United States is not the leading war-maker on earth, that war or genocide is something that arises elsewhere and must be corrected by non-war U.S. militarism is strictly false. Wars, in Pinker's view, originate in poor and Muslim nations. Pinker indicates no awareness that wealthy nations fund and arm dictators in poor countries, that these countries no more manufacture weapons than the Chinese grew all their own opium or Native Americans made all their own alcohol.

Pinker blames the high death rate in what the Vietnamese call the American War on the willingness of the Vietnamese to die in large numbers rather than surrender, as he thinks they should have. Somehow the Soviets' far-greater willingness to die against the Nazis doesn't get mentioned.

The U.S. war on Iraq ended, in Pinker's view, when President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished," since which point it has been a civil war, and therefore the causes of that civil war can be analyzed in terms of the shortcomings of Iraqi society. "[I]t is so hard," Pinker complains, "to impose liberal democracy on countries in the developing world that have not outgrown their superstitions, warlords, and feuding tribes." Indeed it may be, but where is the evidence that the United States government has been attempting it? Or the evidence that the United States has such democracy itself? Or that the United States has the right to impose its desires on another nation?

After all the fancy footwork calculating our path to peace, we look up and see a war kill 5% of Iraq's population just in the years after March 2003, or perhaps 9% counting previous war and sanctions, or at least 10% between 1990 and today. And far more deadly U.S.-supported wars in terms of absolute numbers in places like the Congo. And war has been normalized. Most people can't name them all, much less tell you why they should be continued.

Peace Studies should get war noticed. The first step, addicts say, is recognizing that you have a problem. I think the value of peace studies is limitless in reaching young people, activists, and the general public, and in showing activists how to reach the general public - also in connecting young people with activists. It's usually in speaking to students or in a debate that I get any chance to speak to people not self-selected to already agree with me.

We really need to create and fund a career path that leads peace studies students into careers in peace activism.

We really need peace activism to better connect with peace studies, and professors to have their names on every statement and their voices at every rally.

World Beyond War is working to organize a nonviolent movement to abolish war and will eagerly accept any input from anyone interested in helping.

Let's try one more time, just for fun: Please raise your hand if you believe war is never justified.

Thank you.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government.

Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani Gambled It All And Lost
By Juan Cole

Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani has written a letter to the parliament of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government announcing that he will not run for president again and will go out of office on November 1 as his much-extended term of office ends.

Barzani had taken heart from the collapse of the Iraqi military in 2014, when it ran away from the ISIL advance in Mosul. For three years his Kurdistan Regional Government, formed from three provinces of Iraq, did not even have a border with territory controlled by Baghdad. Kurdistan's Peshmerga paramilitary occupied the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, even though its status was supposed to be decided by referendum according to the Iraqi constitution. His argument that he therefore kept Kirkuk and its petroleum riches out of the hands of ISIL has some merit. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Jawad Kadhim Al-Abadi wanted it back now that the crisis was passing. Barzani thought Baghdad paper tiger, and so in September he pushed through a referendum on Kurdistan independence, against the advice of all his senior advisers and of the United States. If asked, Iraqi Kurds will say they want independence, and that is how they voted.

It turns out that President Barack Obama's plan to rebuild the Iraqi army was unexpectedly wildly successful. Not only did the army defeat ISIL in city after city, taking Mosul and Hawija, but it gained the experience, strategic acumen and American weaponry to pose a serious threat to the Kurdistan Peshmerga, who had apparently gotten soft in the past half decade. It is also true that the Iraqi Army was supported by Shiite militias, some of them trained by Iran.

Abadi pressed the issue by demanding the return of Kurdistan to Baghdad's control, and then he sent in troops to make that happen. Kirkuk was largely guarded by the Peshmerga from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, based in Sulaymaniya, which is under the control of the Talabani family, rivals of the Barzanis. The PUK and its military declined for the most part to fight the Iraqi army, and so the latter was able to wrest Kirkuk from Iraq over the course of a couple of days. The allegation that this move against Kurdistan was orchestrated by Iran seems to me silly. Baghdad wanted Kirkuk back. Iran gave some help to the Shiite militias, but this campaign was Abadi's baby.

People in Kurdistan blamed Barzani for upsetting the apple cart with his referendum. Kurdistan has de facto autonomy, and few could understand why Barzani took the risk of destabilizing it by demanding de jure independence. The province is landlocked and depends on Turkey for the pipeline through which it exports oil. It is vulnerable to Iraqi government attack.

You have to wonder if Barzani thought Trump would support him. If so, he was badly disappointed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sided with Baghdad on the Kirkuk issue.

Since it is unclear when new presidential elections can be held, Barzani does not have an obvious successor. He appears to be urging that his presidential powers be distributed among the three branches of government-the judiciary, the legislature, and the now leaderless bureaucracy.

With the rise of a new generation of the Talabanis, his traditional rivals and partners, Barzani has serious and effective critics. And he was revealed not to control the Peshmerga. Abadi so humiliated him that he had to step down.

Massoud Barzani's father, Mustafa Barzani, spent decades working for Kurdish independence in Iraq and Iran. Massoud Barzani was born in 1946 in the Republic of Mahabad, the short-lived independent Kurdish state carved out of northern Iran at the end of WW II with the support of the Soviet Union. The Truman administration backed the demands of Iran that the Soviets withdraw from northern Iran, which they had occupied during the war with Anglo-American approval (Iran was used by the allies to resupply the Soviet Union since it had good rail links with the latter). So the Mahabad Republic evaporated and Iran's Kurds went back to being under Iranian rule. The Barzanis returned to Iraqi Kurdistan, heading the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which Massoud Barzani took over in 1979.
(c) 2017 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The Dead Letter Office...

John give the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Stabschef Kelly,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your defense of Christopher Columbus and southern slave holders, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-25-2017. We salute you Herr Kelly, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Huge Tax Heist
By Robert Reich

You know the plot: The bank robbers set off a bomb down the street from the bank, and while everyone's distracted they get away with the loot.

In the reality TV show we're now suffering through, Donald Trump is the bomb.

The robbers are the American oligarchs who bankroll the Republican Party, and who are plotting the biggest heist in American history -a massive tax cut estimated to be up to 5.8 trillion dollars.

Around 80 percent of it will benefit the richest 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Trump is busily distracting America with his explosive tweets and incendiary tantrums -blasting Republican senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, NFL players who take the knee, Dreamers, refugees, immigrants, transgender people, the media, "rocket man," Hillary Clinton, Obama, NAFTA, Muslims.

The Trump bomb is hugely damaging -unleashing hate, threatening democratic institutions, isolating America in the world.

But none of this seems to bother Republicans in Congress, except for a handful of Senators who won't be running again. That's because congressional Republicans are concentrating their efforts on pulling off the giant heist for their rich patrons.

They want to move quickly so no one notices -passing the tax cut before Christmas, with no hearings and minimal debate.

If the plot succeeds, most Americans will be robbed in three ways.

First, they'll lose tax deductions they rely on -such as the deduction on earnings they put into tax-deferred savings in 401k plans. Some 55 million Americans now rely on 401(k) plans to save for retirement.

They'll also lose the deduction for what they pay in state and local taxes. More than half of this deduction now goes to taxpayers with incomes of less than $200,000.

Republicans say the middle class will come out just fine because they'll get a larger standard deduction. Not true. The average American's tax bill will rise because the deductions they'll lose will total more than the higher standard deduction Republicans are proposing.

Second, most Americans will lose government services that will have to be eliminated in order to pay for the giant tax cut -including, very likely, some Medicare and Medicaid.

About $1.5 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts were quietly included in the budget resolution Republicans just passed, in order to get their tax bill through the Senate with just 51 votes. (No one paid much attention because Trump was attacking grieving combat widows.)

Third, most Americans will have to pay higher interest on their car and mortgage loans and other money they borrow, because the huge tax cut will explode the national debt.

That debt is now around $20 trillion, or 70 percent of the total economy. If it goes much higher, it will crowd out borrowing and force interest rates upward.

Putting all this together, the theft would be the largest redistribution from the bottom 90 percent to the richest 1 percent in history.

Republican's biggest fear is that word of the heist will leak out to the public, and their tax bill will be defeated by a handful of Senate Republican holdouts who feel the public pressure.

That's exactly what happened with their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The GOP's big-money patrons pushed for repeal not because they had any principled objection to the Act, but because they didn't want to fork over $144 billion in taxes on incomes over $1 million to pay for the Act over the next decade.

In the end, Republicans couldn't get away with it because Americans learned that more than 23 million people would lose their health coverage, and Medicaid would also be on the chopping block.

Trump was willing to distract the public's attention to give congressional Republicans a shot at repeal, but the moment the public started catching on he blew their cover. After the Congressional Budget Office announced the consequences of the Republican health bill, Trump called it "mean."

He could do the same with the tax bill. He almost has. When word leaked out last week that Republicans were planning to limit 401(k) deductions, Trump tweeted that it wouldn't happen (and then backtracked on his tweet).

The moneyed interests who run the GOP depend on the Trump bomb to divert attention from their huge heist. Their challenge is to make sure the bomb doesn't go off in the wrong direction.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Russian President Vladimir Putin

From The US With Love
US Commandos Are a "Persistent Presence" on Russia's Doorstep
By Nick Turse

"They are very concerned about their adversary next door," said General Raymond Thomas, the head of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado, in July. "They make no bones about it."

The "they" in question were various Eastern European and Baltic nations. "Their adversary?" Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Thomas, the commander of America's most elite troops -- Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them -- went on to raise fears about an upcoming Russian military training event, a wargame, known as "Zapad" or "West," involving 10 Russian Navy ships, 70 jets and helicopters, and 250 tanks. "The point of concern for most of these eastern Europeans right now is they're about to do an exercise in Belarus... that's going to entail up to 100,000 Russian troops moving into that country." And he added, "The great concern is they're not going to leave, and... that's not paranoia..."

Over the last two decades, relations between the United States and Russia have increasingly soured, with Moscow casting blame on the United States for encouraging the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine a year later. Washington has, in turn, expressed its anger over the occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia following the Russo-Georgian War of 2008; the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine after pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was chased from power; and interference in the 2016 US presidential election. There have been recriminations on both sides over the other nation's military adventurism in Syria, the sanctions Washington imposed on Moscow in reaction to Crimea, Ukraine, and human rights issues, and tit-for-tat diplomatic penalties that have repeatedly ramped up tensions.

While Zapad, which took place last month, is an annual strategic exercise that rotates among four regions, American officials nonetheless viewed this year's event as provocative. "People are worried this is a Trojan horse," Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who commands US Army forces in Europe, told Reuters. "[The Russians] say, 'We're just doing an exercise,' and then all of a sudden they've moved all these people and capabilities somewhere."

Russia is not, however, the only military power with "people and capabilities" in the region. In passing, SOCOM's Thomas also mentioned the presence of other forces; troops that he readily admitted the public might not be aware of. Those soldiers were -- just as he feared of the Russian troops involved in Zapad -- not going anywhere. And it wasn't just a matter of speculation. After all, they wear the same uniform he does.

For the past two years, the US has maintained a special operations contingent in almost every nation on Russia's western border. "[W]e've had persistent presence in every country -- every NATO country and others on the border with Russia doing phenomenal things with our allies, helping them prepare for their threats," said Thomas, mentioning the Baltics as well as Romania, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia by name.

Commandos and Their Comrades

Since 9/11, US Special Operations forces (SOF) have grown in every conceivable way from funding to manpower, the pace of operations to geographic sweep. On any given day, about 8,000 special operators -- from a command numbering roughly 70,000 in total -- are deployed in around 80 countries. Over the course of a year, they operate in about 70% of the world's nations.

According to Major Michael Weisman, a spokesman for US Special Operations Command Europe, elite US forces have deployed to 21 European countries in 2017 and conducted exercises with an even larger number of nations. "Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally or through various multinational events," he told TomDispatch.

The number of commandos in Europe has also expanded exponentially in recent years. In 2006, 3% of special operators deployed overseas were sent to the continent. Last year, the number topped 12% -- a jump of more than 300%. Only Africa has seen a larger increase in deployments over the same time span.

This special-ops surge is also reflected in the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program, overseas missions designed to prepare American commandos in a variety of warfighting skills while also strengthening relations with foreign forces. In 2012, special operators conducted 29 JCETs on that continent. Last year, the number reached 37, including six in Bulgaria, three in Estonia, three in Latvia, three in Poland, and three in Moldova.

The United States has devoted significant resources to building and bolstering allied special ops forces across the region. "Our current focus consists of assuring our allies through building partner capacity efforts to counter and resist various types of Russian aggression, as well as enhance their resilience," SOCOM's Thomas told members of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year. "We are working relentlessly with our partners and the Department of State to build potency in eastern and northern Europe to counter Russia's approach to unconventional warfare, including developing mature and sustainable Special Operations capabilities across the region."

This year, US commandos could be found in nations all along Russia's borders. In March, for example, Green Berets took to snowmobiles for a cold-weather JCET alongside local troops in Lapland, Finland. In May, Navy SEALs teamed up with Lithuanian forces as part of Flaming Sword 17, a training exercise in that country. In June, members of the US 10th Special Forces Group and Polish commandos carried out air assault and casualty evacuation training near Lubliniec, Poland. In July, Naval Special Warfare operators took part in Sea Breeze, a two decade-old annual military exercise in Ukraine. In August, airmen from the 321st Special Tactics Squadron transformed a rural highway in Jagala, Estonia, into an airstrip for tank-killing A-10 Thunderbolts as part of a military drill. That same month, US special operators advised host-nation commandos taking part in Exercise Noble Partner in the Republic of Georgia.

"Working with the GSOF [Republic of Georgia's Special Operations forces] was awesome," said Captain Christopher Pulliam, the commander of the Georgia Army National Guard's Company H (Long-Range Surveillance), 121st Infantry Regiment. (That, of course, is a unit from the American state of Georgia.) "Our mission set requires that we work in small teams that gather specific intel in the area of operations. The GSOF understand this and can use our intel to create a better understanding of the situation on the ground and react accordingly."

Special Warriors and Special Warfare

The United States isn't alone in fielding a large contingent of special operations forces. The US Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that Russia's Spetsnaz ("special purpose") troops number around 30,000, a sizeable force, although less than half the size of America's contingent of commandos. Russia, SOCOM's Thomas told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year, is "particularly adept at leveraging unconventional approaches to advancing their interests and it is clear they are pursuing a wide range of audacious approaches to competition -- SOF [special operations forces] often present a very natural unconventional response."

Indeed, just like the United States and myriad militaries around the world, Russia has devoted significant resources to developing its doctrine and capabilities in covert, clandestine, and unconventional forms of warfare. In a seminal 2013 article in the Russian Academy of Military Science's journal Military-Industrial Courier, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov explained the nature of modern hybrid warfare, including the use of elite troops, this way:

"In the twenty-first century we have seen a tendency toward blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template... The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness... [t]he broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures... is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special operations forces."
Spetsnaz troops have indeed played a role in all of Russia's armed interventions since 2001, including in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. During that same span, US Special Operations forces have been employed in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Niger, and the Central African Republic. They have also had a presence in Jordan, Kenya, Djibouti, and Cameroon, among other countries to which, according to President Trump, US combat-equipped forces are currently deployed.

In an interview late last year, retired Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland, chief of US Army Special Operations Command from 2012 to 2015 and now the Senior Mentor to the Army War College, discussed the shortcomings of the senior military leadership in regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the "bad national policy decisions... that shaped US campaigns in those theaters," and a reliance on a brand of conventional war-fighting with limited effectiveness in achieving political goals. "[I]t is important to understand why SOF has risen from footnote and supporting player to main effort," he added, "because its use also highlights why the US continues to have difficulty in its most recent campaigns -- Afghanistan, Iraq, against ISIS and AQ [al-Qaeda] and its affiliates, Libya, Yemen, etc. and in the undeclared campaigns in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine -- none of which fits the US model for traditional war."

US Special Operations Command Europe failed to answer Toms Dispatch's questions about those "undeclared campaigns" on Russia's doorstep, but more public and conventional efforts have been in wide evidence. In January, for example, tanks, trucks, and other equipment began arriving in Germany, before being sent on to Poland, to support Operation Atlantic Resolve. That effort, "designed to reassure NATO allies and partners... in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine," according to the Congressional Research Service, began with a nine-month rotation of about 3,500 soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who were replaced in September by 3,300 personnel and 1,500 vehicles from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which would be deployed to five countries. Earlier this month, Russia's Defense Ministry complained that the size of the US contingent in the Baltics violates a Russian-NATO agreement.

Red Dawn in the Gray Zone

Late last year, a group of active-duty and retired senior military officers, former ambassadors, academics, and researchers gathered for a symposium at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C., titled "Russian Engagement in the Gray Zone." Conducted via Chatham House rules -- that is, in accounts of the meeting, statements could not be attributed to any specific speaker -- the Americans proceeded to vilify Russia both for its bellicosity and its underhanded methods. Among the assessments: "Russia is always at a natural state of war and it prioritizes contactless war"; "Russia de-emphasizes kinetic activities and emphasizes the indirect/non-lethal approach"; and "Russia places a priority on subversion."

The experts at NDU called for a comprehensive campaign to undermine Russia through sanctions, by courting "disenfranchised personnel" and "alienated persons" within that country, by developing enhanced cyber-capabilities, by utilizing psychological operations and "strategic messaging" to enhance "tactical actions," and by conducting a special ops shadow war -- which General Charles Cleveland seems to suggest might be already underway. "[T]he United States should learn from the Chechnya rebels' reaction. The rebels used decentralized operations and started building pockets of resistance (to include solo jihadists)," reads a synopsis of the symposium.

"SOCOM actions will need," the NDU experts asserted, "to be unconventional and irregular in order to compete with Russian modern warfare tactics." In other words, they were advocating an anti-Russian campaign that seemed to emphasize the very approach they were excoriating Russia for -- the "indirect/non-lethal approach" with a "priority on subversion."

In the end, Russia's much-feared "West" war game, in which Spetsnaz troops did participate, concluded with a whimper, not a bang. "After all the anxiety, Russia's Zapad exercise ends without provocation," read the headline in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes on September 20th.

For months, while Russia insisted its war game would involve fewer than 13,000 soldiers, the US and its allies had warned that, in reality, up to 100,000 troops would flood into Belarus. Of those Russian troop levels, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Moller, a Swedish military observer who attended Zapad, said, "We reported about 12,400." Of such exercises, he added, "This is normal military business as we do in all countries with armed forces. This is not training for attacking anyone. You meet the enemy, you stop the enemy, you defeat the enemy with a counterattack. We are doing the same thing in Sweden."

Indeed, just as Moller suggested, more than 20,000 troops -- including US Special Operations forces and soldiers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden -- had gathered in his country during the Zapad exercise for Aurora 2017. And Sweden was hardly unique. At the same time, troops from the US, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom were carrying out Rapid Trident, an annual military exercise, in neighboring Ukraine.

What message was the US sending to Russia by conducting training exercises on its borders, Catherine Herridge of Fox News asked General Raymond Thomas in Aspen? "That's a fascinating question because I am -- I try to appreciate the adversary's optic to -- I realize that a way to gauge a metric if you will for how well we're doing," the SOCOM chief replied somewhat incoherently.

Herridge was, of course, asking Thomas to view the world through the eyes of his adversary, to imagine something akin to Russia and its ally Syria conducting war games in Mexico or Canada or in both countries; to contemplate Spetsnaz troops spread throughout the Western hemisphere on an enduring basis just as America's elite troops are now a fixture in the Baltics and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

In the end, Thomas's take was understated in a way that undoubtedly wouldn't have been the case had the roles been reversed. "I am curious what Putin and his leadership are thinking," the special ops chief mused. "I think it was a little unnerving."
(c) 2017 Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning investigative journalist, he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, and is a contributing writer for The Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Gary Varvel ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

After proving their skill by slicing the air with a series of karate chops, the Trump boys told assembled officials
that they would fight in North Korea only if the Army promised they'd be home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Intelligence Briefing Interrupted By Sofa-Cushion-Wearing Trump Boys Volunteering To Fight In North Korea
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-With sofa cushions duct-taped to their chests as they marched into the meeting, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. reportedly interrupted a military intelligence briefing Friday, shouting "ten-hut!" in unison and then volunteering to fight in North Korea.

According to sources, Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were reviewing a presentation on troop mobility in Afghanistan when the Trump boys, who wore rain boots and had secured throw pillows to their legs and arms with belts, burst into the White House Situation Room to announce they had trained for an entire day and were ready to deploy to North Korea to "kill King Jong-un."

"We did all the basic training and now we can do combat stuff!" said Donald Jr., who dropped to the ground to do a commando roll underneath the conference room table before hopping to his feet, readjusting the metal colander on his head, and turning to salute the chief of naval operations. "I've mastered 10 kinds of kicks, including some ninja ones."

"We're gonna stomp their nukes," Eric Trump added as he lifted his foot and attempted to crush an empty soda can, which soon became stuck to his heel.

White House staff confirmed that earlier in the day, the Trump boys had been observed in the Treaty Room setting up a homemade obstacle course, which included two rows of wastebaskets intended for tire drills and a series of couches that one had to leap across without touching the floor. The final leg of the course was said to have started in the State Dining Room, where the boys crawled on their stomachs through a tunnel of chair legs before shooting a rubber band at an 1804 oil painting of Dolley Madison and sprinting down the hallway to touch the mantel in the East Room.

The Trump boys reportedly showed off their skills to the silent military leaders, with Eric performing nine sit-ups in a row while Donald Jr. landed several blows on an empty office chair using a potato masher as a sword. Sources said the brothers then began to demonstrate their hand-to-hand combat techniques and grappled with each other until Eric tripped over four-star general and Marine Corps commandant Robert Neller's chair, hitting the floor and getting the wind knocked out of him.

"We're gonna parachute into the jungle and then sneak into Pong-gong [sic]," said Eric Trump, removing the catcher's mask he had been wearing to reveal camouflage face paint made from the blue-shimmer and coral colors he found in first lady Melania Trump's eye shadow palettes. "We're really good at hiding. And we invented a secret code-if one of us is in trouble, we make a bird call, and the bad guys can't tell it's us."

"Ca-caw!" he added.

Unrolling a piece of construction paper on the table, the Trump boys revealed a hand-drawn map of North Korea, which they had reportedly depicted as a green square completely surrounded by blue water and fiery explosions. The page also included what appeared to be the boys' battle plan, a series of bullet-points reading, "Spy. Get the plans. Escape in helicopter."

Several sources indicated that the Trump boys then handed Mattis a list of supplies they would need shipped to North Korea for their mission, including two M1 Abrams battle tanks, their very own dog tags, red headbands, a crate of assault rifles, boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes, a carton of pizza-flavored Goldfish crackers, juice boxes, and something they referred to as a "laser stealth boat."

"We practiced guns really hard, and now we're awesome at shooting," said Eric Trump, pulling up a video on his phone of the brothers making machine gun noises as they stood on the North Lawn driveway and used a garden hose nozzle to spray at a chalk drawing of angry-looking faces labeled "Bad Guys." "Our aim is super good."

"We can do arrows, too," added Donald Jr., pulling a carbon-fiber arrow from a quiver on his back and loading the compound bow he had recently received as a birthday gift from his father.

At press time, White House staff reported a screaming Eric Trump was seen running through the West Wing with an arrow lodged in the couch cushion strapped to his chest.
(c) 2017 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 44 (c) 11/03/2017

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