Is a New U.S. Mideast War Inevitable?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions.

Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”

President Harry Truman awarded the brigade a Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1951, Turkey ended a neutrality dating to the end of World War I and joined NATO. In the seven decades since, there has been no graver crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations than the one that erupted this week.

Turkey has just received the first components of a Russian S-400 air and missile defense system, despite U.S. warnings this would require the cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” said the White House.

The sale has been canceled. The Turkish pilots and instructors training in the U.S. are being sent home. Contracts with Turkish companies producing parts for the F-35 are being terminated. Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry.

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Wednesday, the Pentagon warned Turkey against military action in an area of Syria where U.S. troops are deployed. The Turks appear to be massing for an incursion against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces Ankara regards as terrorist allies of the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey.

How America and Turkey avoid a collision that could wreck NATO, where the Turks field the second-largest army in the alliance, is not easy to see.

U.S. hawks are already calling for the expulsion of Turkey from NATO. And expulsion of U.S. forces and nuclear weapons from the Incirlik air base in Turkey in retaliation is not out of the question.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounds defiant: “We have begun to receive our S-400s. … God willing, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020. … The S-400s are the strongest defense system against those who want to attack our country. Now the aim is joint production with Russia. We will do that.”

While potentially the most crucial of recent developments in the Middle East, the U.S.-Turkish situation is not the only one.

The UAE is pulling its forces out of Yemen as Congress seeks to restrict U.S. support for Saudi forces fighting Houthi rebels there and to sanction Riyadh for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

If the UAE pulls out, and the U.S. cuts its military aid, the Saudis cannot prevail in a war they have been unable to win with our help after four years of fighting. And if the Houthis win, the Saudis and Sunni Arabs lose, and Iran wins.

This week, to strengthen the U.S. presence for any confrontation with Iran, President Donald Trump is sending 500 additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia.

While the U.S. and Iran have thus far avoided a military or naval clash that could ignite a major war, the “maximum pressure” sanctions Trump has imposed are choking Iran’s economy to death. How this ends in a negotiated resolution and not a shooting war remains difficult to see.

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In Doha, Qatar, the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban over the conditions for a withdrawal of the 14,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan. And with the Taliban controlling more of the countryside than they have since being ousted from power in 2001, and conducting regular suicide bombings in Afghan cities and towns, it is hard to see how this Kabul regime and its army prevail in a civil war when we are gone, when they could not while we were there.

In this new century, leaders of both parties have plunged our country into at least five wars in the Middle and Near East.

In 2001, after ousting the Taliban and driving al-Qaida out, we decided to use our power and ideas to build a new democratic Afghanistan. In 2003, we invaded and occupied Iraq to create a pro-Western bastion in the heart of the Middle East.

In 2011, Barack Obama ordered U.S. planes to attack Colonel Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. We brought him down. Obama then backed Syrian rebels to overthrow the dictator Bashar Assad. In 2015, U.S. forces supported a Saudi war to roll back the Houthi rebels’ victory in Yemen’s civil war.

None of these wars has produced a victory or success for us.

But taken together, they did produce a multitrillion-dollar strategic and human rights disaster. Meanwhile, China gained much from having its great rival, the world’s last superpower, thrashing about ineffectually in the forever wars of the Middle East.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said Trump.

Yes, they do. As the British, French, Germans, Japanese and Russians showed in the last century, that is how they cease to be great nations.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, all available from the AFP Online Store.


U.S., Taliban Begin Peace Negotiations

After Syria, President Trump looks to exact even more peace in the Middle East as evidenced by U.S. talks with Taliban officials to “complete the Afghanistan reconciliation process.” We would do well to remember the real reason we went to war in the first place.

By S.T. Patrick

Much of the clamor that has existed in the media of late has been the debate over the Trump decision to move toward ending U.S. involvement in Syria. All but ignored by the same media and politicians have been the recent overtures for peace in Afghanistan that have existed between the U.S. and the Taliban.

In December, American representatives met with Taliban officials in the United Arab Emirates. They will meet again in the Persian Gulf to “complete the Afghanistan reconciliation process.” This is a historic step forward in the process to resolve America’s longest ongoing war. Yet the media has become blinded by the Russian angles of Syrian intervention.

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The United States invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, almost one month after the attacks of 9/11. The publicly stated mission was to destroy al Qaeda’s stronghold in Afghanistan by dethroning the Taliban throughout the region. Now, at over 17 years, the war in Afghanistan is America’s second longest war. The Vietnam War lasted 19 years.

Reports have stated that the recent peace talks were initiated by the Trump administration. Pakistan has taken credit for urging the Taliban officials to re-engage in response. Negotiations over talks have existed from other administrations in the 17 years, but they fizzled quickly. The December talks produced positive results.

The Emirates News Agency said that the recent Abu Dhabi talks “fructified in tangible results that are positive for all parties concerned.”

The U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, was predictably optimistic about the talks. The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, agreed with the assessment.

“Future negotiation meetings shall continue after deliberations and consultations by both sides with their respective leaderships,” Mujahid said.

For the Taliban, the focal point of the negotiations is the withdrawal of all NATO and U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Mujahid denied that rumored items such as future elections, peace talks with Kabul, agreeing on an interim Afghan government, and a temporary ceasefire were discussed.

Of course, diplomacy is often a struggle in minutiae and ego. Islamabad now accuses the U.S. of downplaying Pakistan’s importance in bringing the Taliban representatives to the table. Pakistan may also be angered by the Trump decision to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan because it has not acted decisively against the Taliban in recent years. Pakistan is also concerned that a newly departed Afghanistan would leave a gaping vacuum that U.S. ally India would move to fill. The doves that circle this peace process are concerned that they may end up as canaries in coal mines.

And though the U.S. delegation approved further peace talks to occur in Saudi Arabia, the Taliban has stated that it will not approve the location. The Saudis had pushed to include the UN-backed Afghan government in the talks. Taliban representatives have pushed back and now openly state that they will go to Qatar for the talks.

A senior Taliban member was quoted, explaining the move. “Everyone is aware of the fact that the Afghan government wanted the U.S. and its allies not to leave Afghanistan, and we have paid a heavy price to expel all foreign forces from our country,” he said.

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Though it was denied as a topic on the table in the talks, rumors still strongly persist that what is being discussed is a 2019 ceasefire in Afghanistan. If the Trump administration can end American involvement in both Syria and Afghanistan, it will be a foreign policy record that will be challenging to deny historically. That said, Democrats, neoconservatives, and major media outlets who profit mightily from war and conflict will find a way to darken the most silver linings.

It was Fidel Castro who made the famous “history will absolve me” speech. He understood that history as a tool can heal immediate rifts. There will be no moment of clarity with the mainstream mass media, the Democratic Party, or the never-Trump Republicans. This is a political war that exists until The Donald and Melania are helicoptered out of the Beltway.

But 20 years later, when columns of achievements are listed, many are going to be surprised that the Trump administration fared very well on the issue of peace. Then they will have to reconcile how the man they have painted as the most hated personality in the world was simultaneously the one who negotiated for peace.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected] 

U.S. Locked Into Endless Cycle of War

Given the fact that Washington spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, says Phil Giraldi, the notion that U.S. isn’t spending enough on weapons is absurd. At what point will America stop playing (unwanted) global policeman, before or after the nation is bankrupted?

By Philip Giraldi

In the 18th century, the Vicomte de Mirabeau famously quipped, “Other states possess an army; Prussia is an army which possesses a state.” There is considerable danger that the United States is proceeding down the same road, as military spending has become untouchable and America continues to play the role of world policeman.

Some recent commentary has been suggesting that the United States is becoming a second-rate military power because it is not spending enough money on weapons. Given the fact that Washington spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, the premise would seem to be either completely ridiculous or evidence of waste, fraud, and mismanagement at the Department of Defense (DoD) that far exceeds anything ever seen before. If it is true that the un-audited Pentagon has somehow mislaid $21 trillion over the course of 10 years, then no amount of increased spending will remedy the deficiencies in the DoD procurement system.

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One might object that the Pentagon is not underfunded, pointing out that it is the U.S. military’s perception of its mission that is grotesque, that no country needs 1,100 foreign bases worldwide to be secure. Nor does national defense require American soldiers to be fighting on multiple fronts in wars thousands of miles away that are undeclared, illegal under international law, and non-compliant with the Constitution of the United States of America.

There is definitely something wrong with the way the establishment prioritizes spending by the government, which relates to how the allegedly underfunded military story is being presented. One might well argue that the national debt, which is currently nearly $22 trillion and has grown enormously in support of America’s wars, is a far greater threat to the survival of the United States than is Iran or even Russia. That would be the fault of a feckless Congress and White House, which clearly don’t believe in the old maxim that you can spend only what you earn.

But instead of blaming the politicians, which is where the problem really derives from, the chattering class and media have instead focused on “entitlements.” The war on entitlements began, in its current formulation, with former Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and it culminated in last year’s enrich-the-rich tax cut. Working Americans will now be taxed on their taxes since they can no longer deduct state and local taxes from their incomes when paying their federal taxes. Ryan meanwhile has departed Congress with a handsome pension and generous health insurance for life and will embark on a new career as a seven-figure lobbyist.

Much of the war on entitlements comes from neoconservative talking heads who mostly work for think tanks that are generously funded by defense contractors and pro-Israel oligarchs. The neocons are, like Ryan, well paid and benefited, much more so than the average American, so they have no real horse in the race apart from keeping the money flowing.

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An article that appeared recently in The Washington Post perfectly illustrates how the establishment and its media accomplices are selling a product that fearmongers use to sustain more military spending. It is entitled “Wake up. America’s military isn’t invincible,” written by regular columnist Robert J. Samuelson.

The piece begins with, “The most uncovered story in Washington these days is the loss of U.S. military power—a lesson particularly important in light of recent events: the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; President Trump’s rash decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria; North Korea’s announcement that it will keep nuclear weapons after all; and alleged massive computer hacking by Chinese nationals.”

But “loss of U.S. military power,” if it can be quantified at all, has nothing to do with Mattis or Syria, nor with North Korea or China—or even with Trump, who has increased the armed services budget. Samuelson makes his case by citing defense modernization programs in China and Russia and “advances” in Iran and North Korea that undercut U.S. military capabilities, but, if he were to be honest, he would be conceding that he is only discussing comparative advantage in some areas. He refers to a recent report suggesting that, because Russia and China have upgraded their capabilities, “If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan . . . Americans could face a decisive military defeat.”

It should come as no surprise that the possible armed conflicts cited by Samuelson are carefully chosen to produce the desired result. Confronting Russia or China in their home waters thousands of miles away from the U.S. gives all the advantage to the defense, which will be able to operate on interior lines and maximize available land, sea, and air forces while the Americans have to rely on a lengthy and vulnerable logistical chain. The reality is that the U.S. is second to none in terms of ability to project power, with the United States uniquely having 19 aircraft carrier battle groups that can deliver significant military air power to anywhere in the world.

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Samuelson goes on to condemn what he calls “unwise cuts in defense spending” and blames the lack of money for the Pentagon on “the American welfare state—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the like.” He advocates cutting “welfare” to buy more and better weapons. Since he is a neocon, it is obligatory that he include some reference to Adolf Hitler. In this case he warns that Hitler’s Germany re-armed while the rest of the world did nothing, an analogy that is not even true, as Germany was outnumbered and outgunned by its enemies when World War II started.

As Samuelson is writing for The Washington Post it is also necessary that he conclude with a slap at Trump: “We need to keep our commitments—Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from Syria devalues our word. And we need to repair our alliances,” but one might well opine that there is something seriously wrong with that kind of thinking, where weapons and the promotion of violence overseas always take precedence over meeting the needs of the American people. Government pension and health programs, largely paid for by contributions from workers, do a great deal of good for many Americans and would be even better managed if the Congress would stop raiding the various trust funds. Government exists to benefit the citizens that together make up the state, not to meddle in the affairs of other nations and peoples worldwide.

The selling of America-the-vulnerable is a fiction promoted by those who make money from the continuation of a warfare nation. The United States and the American people have not benefited one bit from the pointless wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Real security will come when Washington brings the troops home.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.

Why Are We Siding With al Qaeda?

We’re siding with al Qaeda, who attacked us, to “regime-change” Iran, who didn’t attack us. Ron Paul points out this entire strategy makes no sense.

By Dr. Ron Paul

In my last column, I urged the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to stop protecting al Qaeda in Syria by demanding that the Syrian government leave Idlib under al Qaeda control. While it may seem hard to believe that the U.S. government is helping al Qaeda in Syria, it’s not as strange as it may seem: Our interventionist foreign policy increasingly requires Washington to partner up with “bad guys” in pursuit of its dangerous and aggressive foreign policy goals.

Does the Trump Administration actually support al Qaeda and ISIS? Of course not. But the “experts” who run Trump’s foreign policy have determined that a de facto alliance with these two extremist groups is for the time being necessary to facilitate the more long-term goals in the Middle East. And what are those goals? Regime change for Iran.

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Let’s have a look at the areas where the U.S. is turning a blind eye to al Qaeda and ISIS.

First, Idlib. As I mentioned in my last column, President Trump’s own Special Envoy to fight ISIS said just last year that “Idlib Province is the largest al Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11.” So why do so many U.S. officials—including President Trump himself—keep warning the Syrian government not to re-take its own territory from al Qaeda control? Wouldn’t they be doing us a favor by ridding the area of al Qaeda? Well, if Idlib is re-taken by Assad, it all but ends the neocon (and Saudi and Israeli) dream of “regime change” for Syria and a black eye to Syria’s ally, Iran.

Second, one of the last groups of ISIS fighters in Syria are around the Al-Tanf U.S. military base which has operated illegally in northeastern Syria for the past two years. Last week, according to press reports, the Russians warned the U.S. military in the region that it was about to launch an assault on ISIS fighters around the U.S. base. The U.S. responded by sending in 100 more U.S. Marines and conducting a live-fire exercise as a warning. President Trump recently reversed himself (again) and announced that the U.S. would remain at Al-Tanf “indefinitely.” Why? It is considered a strategic point from which to attack Iran. The U.S. means to stay there even if it means turning a blind eye to ISIS in the neighborhood.

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Finally, in Yemen, the U.S./Saudi coalition fighting the Houthis has been found by AP and other mainstream media outlets to be directly benefiting al Qaeda. Why help al Qaeda in Yemen? Because the real U.S. goal is regime change in Iran, and Yemen is considered one of the fronts in the battle against Iranian influence in the Middle East. So we are aiding al Qaeda, which did attack us, because we want to “regime change” Iran, which hasn’t attacked us. How does that make sense?

We all remember the old saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, that “if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” The “experts” would like us to think they are pursuing a brilliant foreign policy that will provide a great victory for America at the end of the day. But as usual, the “experts” have got it wrong. It’s really not that complicated: When “winning” means you’re allied with al Qaeda and ISIS, you’re doing something wrong. Let’s start doing foreign policy right: Let’s leave the rest of the world alone!

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at
© 2018 Ron Paul Institute

Too Many Wars. Too Many Enemies.

NATO is staring down “the worst crisis in its history,” says Pat Buchanan, and the U.S. decision on whether to stand with the Kurds against Turkish aggression or abandon the Kurds will determine if NATO survives. With this and many other hotspots at a boiling point, what is the mainstream American media focusing on? Whether Mueller’s Russiagate witch hunt will be discredited.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week’s end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his troops will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded.

Erdogan’s foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the U.S. to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates, all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, the U.S. will face a choice: Stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area with Turkey, as Erdogan threatens, U.S. credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan’s forces could mean a crackup of NATO and loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

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Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO’s loss of Turkey would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges to U.S. foreign policy.

The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the threat of a North Korean ICBM that could hit the U.S. out of the news, but no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China’s territorial claims with U.S. warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a duplicitous and false friend.

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“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

As for America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon.

A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing.

If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States?

Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago.

This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, have seized power in Yemen’s southern port of Aden, from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis.

These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn.

There are other wars—Somalia, Libya, Ukraine—where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fight for scores of nations, with troops on every continent, and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware.

“I didn’t know there were 1,000 troops in Niger,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. “We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world, militarily, and what we’re doing.”

No, we don’t, Senator.

As in all empires, power is passing to the generals.

And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city?

Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russiagate. 

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Bookstore