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The Trump Doctrine

Aquarian Weekly
4/19/17

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE TRUMP DOCTRINE
Spoiler Alert: There Is None

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”
– President Donald Trump to the Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2017

When an unhinged simpleton is commander-in-chief of the most power and richest armed forces on the planet you get the week we just had.

Let’s review.

Under mounting evidence that key members of the 2016 Trump campaign committed high treason in colluding with the Russian government, a known and hostile adversary of the United States, to intervene on its behalf in this country’s previous presidential election, President Trump dispatched his heretofore missing-in-action Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Turkey to proclaim that “the longer-term status of President [Bashar] Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.” This sent neo-cons like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain into the predictable tizzy, but it did echo the president’s oft repeated vow to be a different Republican and the new voice of “America First” to stay out of the civil wars of foreign nations with little to no lasting sovereign or fiscal interests to the U.S.

This was especially prevalent to matter of Syria, where not only had candidate Trump shrugged his shoulders about Assad, using the “We should have left Saddam Hussein in power because a tough dictator is far more stable than the mess that emerged in the vacuum after the failed maneuvers of the Bush Doctrine”, he doubled down with a constant and almost creepy defense and praise of Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin throughout 2016.

Citizen Trump famously tweeted his advice on this issue in 2012 to the former president, “We should stay the hell out of Syria, the “rebels” are just as bad as the current regime. (caps are his) “WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS? ZERO.”

Then, with no warning beyond a four-minute aside by Tillerson prior to the arrival of the Chinese to Trump’s private residence in Mar a Largo, Florida, no discussion with congress, or any announcement to the American people, the president dramatically shifted his stance, more like violently spun the whole thing around with dizzying speed, bagging the very foundation of his campaign’s divergence from the usual “fix the planet” Republican mantra of the Bush Administration he unmercifully mocked for over a year by bombing an Al Shayrat airfield in Syria. Something Citizen Trump thought better of in 2013 when someone else had this gig, judging from his tweet tsunami on the subject: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?” and “Obama needs Congressional approval. The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!”

This was of course in response to the horrific photos and videos taken after Assad’s chemical weapons dump on Syrian civilians, many of them children, the week before. Trump had commented on how affected he was by them, which is noble and human and no one blames him. However, Trump no longer hosts a TV show and gets up at four am to angrily tweet about shit he knows little to nothing about. He owns this now, and by owning it, he owns America’s role in the greater construct of foreign affairs and relations. This is something, again, an unhinged simpleton is learning on the job, and this past week the very notion of a Trump Doctrine has been laid to waste.

During all of this, while consuming in his Louis XIV style meal and what he described to FOX News as “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen” with Chinese Presdient Xi Jinping at his aforementioned luxury accommodations a thousand miles or so from D.C., Trump gave the orders that upset several international apple-carts. First and foremost, American military personnel are working mostly under cover in the fight against ISIS (the only reason we are in the country in the first place) had to summarily evacuate missions, the Russian government, under heavy suspicion of meddling in the American election by congress and the FBI, has a reed-thin agreement on overt military action, especially from the air, as there are daily missions to ostensibly defeat ISIS as an ally, and finally pushing us head first in a civil war in which there are no allies or strategic end-game.

Beyond the president acting like a tough guy and playing with his boats in the bath, what exactly does any of this accomplish?

One is right to ask about the moral imperative for the United States to not sit idly by and watch children slaughtered by a mad man, but if this kind of thing, which has gone sideways now since 2001 in two other countries, and went mostly badly in Libya for the previous administration, (another maneuver derided by TV show Trump) then one might ask what “help” does bombing one airbase actually do to curtail Assad or his ability to wreak havoc on his people? And one also then has the right to ask what to do about Assad, to which Trump has offered no plan, except to punt any thought of removing him from power, which before Tillerson’s fancy speech in the final days of last month was the official stance of the U.S. It no longer is, or is it?

Then there is North Korea.

Trump gladly admitted this week in a lengthy interview with the Wall Street Journal he had no idea about Chinese/North Korean relations, its history, or how complicated all this “curbing” the lunatic, Kim Jong Un would be. Yet this didn’t stop him from blathering on about Un and North Korea being “in trouble” and sending what he described as an “armada”, actually the 97,000-ton USS Carl Vinson with an escort of a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers, to the Korean peninsula heightening tensions there beyond anything seen since the early 1950s when this country was in a conflict there known as the Korean War.

Beyond the president acting like a tough guy and playing with his boats in the bath, what exactly does any of this accomplish? And let’s say there is an all-out war where thousands are killed and the North Korean situation is “taken care of”, who pays for the reconstruction and all that fun stuff that this president vowed to eliminate from the federal government’s responsibilities in lieu of American jobs ignored by fixing the world’s problems that all the stupid weak politicians prior to him got mired in?

Before the week ended apparently the Pentagon, which has unilateral approval from the White House without express consent from the president, unleashed the largest bomb since the atomic blasts in Japan over sixty years ago on ISIS tunnels at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And so I ask, and not rhetorically, what is the Trump Doctrine?

Bush Doctrine? Aggressive vengeance and nation-building.

Obama Doctrine? Diplomacy and stasis.

This has been replaced by seat-of-the-pants knee-jerk nonsense.

Let’s see how that works.

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GROUND RULES FOR DONALD TRUMP COMMENTARY

Aquarian Weekly
1/25/17

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

GROUND RULES FOR DONALD TRUMP COMMENTARY
A Template for “Covering” a Weird Presidency

You can’t argue with crazy.
– Doc Slater

As one can imagine, I have been getting a bevy of advice on what I should be writing or how I should be dealing with the emergence of this thing called Donald Trump. And I do not use “thing” pejoratively, although it can be taken as such, because no one knows what the hell to expect from the 45th president of the United States. Funny thing is this edict also applies to those who voted for him, and, quite frankly, Donald Trump himself. He is a complete unknown. He has never spent ten seconds in the service known as civil. He has cast nary a vote, dealt in any way with a civic budget, certainly has not commandeered an army or run a state or a county or district. There is no track record beyond his infamously obligatory, “Believe me…” or “Trust me…” Even Trump’s spotty and controversial business ventures are a complete mystery.

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This ambiguity also has a daily spin to it, as Trump tends to not only contradict his own comments day-to-day, but sometimes within the same sentence. If someone can figure out if he is pitching universal health care or not through several interviews over just this past week you win a prize.

But there will be plenty of time to dissect our bizarre journey into darkness. What we are going to deal with first is how this space will conduct itself for the foreseeable future.

Here is what I will not do here: There will be no “What the hell is he doing?” or “You can’t do that!” or certainly any “It’s completely insane and no one has ever…” editorializing here. The assumption will always be that – judging from everything Trump has said and done for the entirety of his public life all the way through his campaign – what you are seeing and about to see is going to be, or appear to be insane, stupid and completely outlandish compared to any and all examples of the past, regardless of your support or opposition to him.

Trump has no idea what the fuck he is doing and this is precisely why Trump was elected: He is not like everything else. Talk to any Trump voter, even those who held their noses because they despised Hillary Clinton, and they will tell you this: “We are tired of politicians and we don’t care if Trump appears nuts or childish or boorish or misogynist or racist, we want someone who is not affiliated with any ideology to blow the whole friggin’ thing to smithereens!”

Now this should be taken with a caveat: What people don’t know about how government works you could barely shoe-horn into the Grand Canyon. So there is an excellent chance these Trump supporters will be surprised at how this whole thing can go sideways. This may not change the bulk of his core support, for they will merely defend anything he does or says to not look like they voted for a moron. This is how these things go; supporters make excuses for their choice and those who are against him will accuse him of everything from bad weather to bad hair days. Not even the presence of a Reality TV guy is going to change that.

So there will be no pointing out “crazy”. Crazy is what people wanted. Let’s see where crazy gets them. Or at least gets the people in the Rust Belt, who ultimately made Donald Trump president.

As stated in our quick post-election “analysis”, which went from “What the…?” to “Okay…sure”, we pointed out that if not for Hillary Clinton coughing up Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, she and not “the crazy” would be running things. And what that tells us is that this will be the aim of this space going forward. Forget “The Wall” (although for fun I might be inclined, if a member of the White House press corps, to ask the president every day when that promised check from Mexico is forthcoming) and the other unconstitutional Wizard of Ozian nonsense Trump garbled to the gullible, this is what he needs to do as president to be successful: Bring back the millions of jobs this country has seen go the way of technology and progress since the 1980s and especially the advent of the Internet and our fancy global economy.

If Trump does that, if he can shoe-horn a 18th century time machine edict into our 21st century series of events, then those who put him in office will deal with “the crazy”.

Trump has no idea what the fuck he is doing and this is precisely why Trump was elected…

Now, assuming Trump doesn’t embroil the nation in an apocalyptic war, which is always possible no matter who’s in charge and that whatever his overlords in Russia deem necessary, the amount of damage he can do to this colossus of a republic is fairly minimal.

Unless you allow it.

For instance; unless you were suckered into volunteering for Bush’s horrid Middle East rebuilding project, what did the Iraq or Afghanistan wars really do to harm you? If anything, the disaster of the banking crisis in 2008 was far worse, and we not only fully recovered from that, we are the strongest economy in the world.

Sure, Trump’s proposed trade-penalty taxes and his failure to get another nation to pay for a border wall could be groundbreaking madness, but really, is your wife going to leave you because of it? Will your car break down? You children suddenly hate you? Beer taste bad? Hair fall out?

Nah.

So there will also be none of this, “Donald Trump is destroying the very fabric or American…fill in the blank “around here. There is no fabric of America. That is a myth sold to you like mouthwash by people who need to justify outrage or a gig. There is also zero chance that anyone who is president “represents” you. I have lived through nine of them and not one represented me. I represent me. Always have and always will. The words I put in this space and how I choose to express myself in my daily life and my work is what “represents” me. This is what represents you. Politics is bullshit. Obama was bullshit and now Trump is indeed bullshit. Changing bullshit does not make it less bullshit or not bullshit, just different bullshit.

And so we will apply Doc Slater’s axiom about “the crazy” and comment on the fall-out.

Business as usual around here.

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ISIS – THE END IS NIGH

Aquarian Weekly
8/31/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

ISIS – THE END IS NIGH
Out of Money, Losing Ground and Soon Mosul

What appeared as a rather aggressive prediction in this space sometime this past winter is now all-but a reality. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will soon have to remove Iraq from its fancy acronym by Christmas. Renewed Iraqi Forces backed by an infusion of additional U.S. Special Forces, bolstered by relentless U.S. airstrikes, and the two-front war being waged by Iran, before and after its historic nuclear deal with the west, and a heroic effort by Kurdish militants, has pushed the severely weakened terrorist organization into end game.

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The operative word there is “end”.

It is all but over in Iraq for ISIS. It is dead broke; unable to pay its “military”, which began defecting in droves once the money dried up. In large part this is thanks to the international banking freeze-out on financial institutions heretofore laundering its cash flow. The dramatic reduction of its dwindling brain trust – many of whom were assassinated in the Pentagon’s ongoing mob-like drone hits for months on end – has been reduced to burning oil fields and abandoning the airports that were crucial to its operations there.

The increased and random terror attacks on the sieve-like borders and flimsy security measures in Europe and the highly misguided hits in Turkey, along with the flow of unarmed and wounded ISIS defectors into Syria and Libya, have not only provided glaring signs of its implosion in Iraq, but proves what anyone who has studied the history of not only the Middle East but civilization at large has learned; building a “state” on spastically conceived murders crudely promoted as religious insurrection is a doomed wager. Always has been, always will be.

The operative word there is “doomed”.

A report this week from CNN on a secret underground terrorist anti-ISIS fighting force within the key city of Mosul, which ISIS captured and has used as its capital since June, 2014, has sped up the timetable for the death rattle. Using the ISIS model of hit-and-run propaganda, daylight mortar attacks, and ingenious social media meets smart phone network of picking off ISIS intelligence stalwarts and skillfully planting of landmines on main roads in and out of town, with coded messages to frightened citizens to steer clear of planned attacks, is beginning to spook what is left of this mess.

Moreover, this incredibly effective shadow insurrection has been arming the city’s citizens for weeks now with hidden Iraqi Army weapons left over from the chaos following the initial U.S. invasion to rise up once the country’s new forces break through into the outskirts of Mosul, which could be any day now.

The operative words to focus on there are “any day”.

Soon, this gutless turn-tail-and-run into Syria maneuver will go belly up. According to an August 11 report in the Independent, ISIS has been “decimated” in Syria, where it is predictably beginning to turn on itself, another absolute in the history of civilization when stupid lunatics claim to forge a “new world order’ but are really brainless religious-fanatic thugs whose mission statement to break shit is misinterpreted by the dolt class as revolution. A senior U.S. Commander there, Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland estimates that the number of ISIS fighters now stands between a paltry 15,000 and 20,000, down from 45,000 six months ago.

“The enemy is in retreat on all fronts,” MacFarland told the Associated Press two days later.

Admittedly, the Pentagon’s history, whether more recent (Afghanistan/Iraq/Libya) or classic (Korea/Viet Nam/Lebanon) of predicting sunshine right before midnight is dubious, but widespread reporting from Al Jazeera, hardly a cheerleading media outlet for U.S. military operations, has been describing this ass-kicking since mid-February when towns that ISIS was supposed to have locked up until Muhammad comes back, began tanking. In June, the State Department estimates 120 ISIS leaders, many of them mindlessly ran their images all over the Internet for more than a year, have been cut down by either U.S. strikes or its ground forces in the past twelve months.

The operative word there is “doomed”.

Does this mean that the west is free of terrorism? Of course not. If anything, the last vestiges of a movement can be expected to lash out in the most radical subterranean fashion. We have seen this already. As stated, the ramp-up of ISIS random attacks (many if not all of them copycat rogue loons with mommy issues trying to impress girls) began once the failure of its jihad was evident. But make no mistake, this caliphate is over. For all intents of purposes, its very existence, based on the bully edict of fear, intimidation and the ruse of its indestructibility, is gone. Long, long gone.

And the operative word here kids is “gone”.

It is actually miraculous it lasted this long. Underestimated, sure. Hatched from a text-book cultural and economic vacuum, absolutely. Flush with funds and an abnormal recruitment in a perfect storm of religious brain washing meets squalor, bingo. But it always had a shelf life, especially when the killing of Americans began and the Turks were dragged into this, and it has reached it. Yet, for militant crazies with no real plan but YouTube beheadings and wrecking shit, it was quite a run. People around here were pretty scared. And that is something.

But the ISIS we have grown to despise and fear is really a shell of itself, and now it will be relegated to that ever-packed ash heap of history. A sad reminder of humanity’s darkest spirit, always ready to appear from nowhere, but really, it was there all the time.

And before long, sadly, there will be another one.

But for now…caliphate out!

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SYRIA – A BIG MISTAKE

Aquarian Weekly
11/4/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

SYRIA – A BIG MISTAKE
Maybe They’re Wearing Sneakers

I won’t waste any precious column space mincing words or joking around. This latest move by the Obama Administration to “shift gears” or “change strategies” in the current bedlam that is Syria is a mistake; check that – a big mistake.

syria_mistake

Of course the knee-jerk reaction to cite Viet Nam or the last Iraq War, two of the most egregiously criminal conflicts this country embroiled its military and people in, is patently unfair. What is not unfair is that if this escalates – and thus far this president has not been honest about how things are being handled there, almost without question repeatedly saying the opposite of what appears to anyone paying attention to be the actual policy (the most obvious of these is the continued nonsense about “no boots on the ground” or “no combat personnel”) – it will certainly resemble them.

These are the soft lies of ramping up a war that no one wants and no one sees coming until we are trillions in debt and there are kids coming home in boxes or with vital parts missing.

What makes this worse than even those conflicts at its origins is that there is no clear enemy. We do not know, neither does our fancy intelligence that helped usher us into the Iraq War, who the hell we’re fighting for or against. This is a fact. Pentagon officials declined on two different occasions this week to specify which groups they will work with, or where they will be located. The Russians, who have stupidly thrown themselves into this thing to prop up a doomed regime, have no idea who they are fighting. Those fighting on the ground barely know, if they know at all.

Right now there are several factions, none of which could loosely be described as an American ally or even an eventual threat to the United States, perpetually fighting – door to door and street to street – in Syria. There are “rebels”, who are made up of ISIS fighters and al Qaeda and Saudis and Kurds and Turks, and on “the other side” there are Syrian defense fighters at the behest of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and next to them Iranian-backed soldiers of fortune, and a different faction of al-Qaeda, and from what I see on CNN, thrown into the sinkhole, is a cadre of free-lance Americans who are playing Cowboys and Indians because their penises are too small or their girlfriend left them or McDonald’s isn’t hiring.

Syria right now makes Viet Nam and Iraq look sane.

Let me write again: This is a big mistake.

The announcement this week (and by announcement, I mean more bullshit that is nowhere near what is actually happening, which is likely ten-times worse and coming in about two months too late) that 50 or so “special operators” will be in country to “advise” and “deploy” and “recon” and all the other shuck-and-jive we’ve heard from the Westmorelands and Wolfowitzs who foolishly lead their charges into damnation.

A glaring example of this is the combat soldier killed in combat while carrying out a combat mission in Iraq, which ignited nearly a week of yammering out of the Pentagon about how he really wasn’t in combat. This is what our greatest war criminal, Lyndon Baines Johnson would have called “a riddle wrapped in an enigma” before he sent thousands of American kids to die in a jungle against their will for nothing.

Senior White House “officials” and Pentagon spokesmen echoed the mantra that these troops will be deployed for less than 60 days at a time, and then this nugget: “We will not be establishing our own, U.S.-led headquarters … we will go to where they are. Our vision, at least at the outset, is for them to go for small amounts of time and to one location. I don’t anticipate they’ll be moving from place to place with regularity. They are not going to be out and about to advise and assist in the way we are in Iraq. This is to get guys on the ground and get eyes on … to see what more is possible. This is a start.”

Oh, it’s a start all right. Like Kennedy’s set of advisors and Mission Accomplished; the usual fog of war that takes our money and our youth and our legitimacy; we’re no longer legitimate, if we ever were, or at least not since WWII. We have no international voice that really matters, and this myth keeps us from admitting that not everything that happens everywhere is our business and that barely anything that happened in Viet Nam and Iraq was of vital or any defensive interest to this country.

We do not know, neither does our fancy intelligence that helped usher us into the Iraq War, who the hell we’re fighting for or against.

It is a lie. It is a dangerous, unholy lie, and we keep hearing it, and now we hear it from our anti-war president, the one I have championed for his previously smart and cautious Middle East policy; one that does not repeat the mistakes of centuries of over-zealousness by nations trying to quell centuries of blood-lust.

But that is over now. Barack Obama has begun the path for which he was definitely not elected. And trust me, whether it is Hillary Clinton or whatever war puppet the Republicans spat out, it will be far worse.

Barack Obama, September, 2013: “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Maybe they’re wearing sneakers.

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SYRIA & THE MIDDLE EAST EITHER/OR THEORY

Aquarian Weekly

10/7/15

REALITY CHECK

 

James Campion

 

SYRIA & THE MIDDLE EAST EITHER/OR THEORY

 

The party will soon be over for ISIS. This half-cocked theological throw-back had a shelf life anyway, and it has certainly gone on longer than most sane people could have predicted. But this is the beginning of the end; the autumn of 2015. Mark it down. Countries with more at stake than the United States are now finally getting involved. This was only a matter of time, and many factors are in play.

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The most important of these is the Middle East Either/Or Theory. Although well-documented in the annals of Western history since WWI, this “theory” has gone unnamed except for this space. We have written extensively about how things have gone “either/or” in the region with whatever “country” England decided to stake-out and name for purposes of stealing its resources, namely oil: Either you get a dictator in charge you can prop-up and pay-off to do your bidding and keep the peace or you get chaos. Secular democracies are a pipe dream made up by hippies and people on Twitter. The Either/Or Theory is immutable, something deranged simpletons like Dick Cheney failed to grasp at our eventual peril and bankruptcy.

The Either/Or Theory however has not escaped Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s going with Either and he’s doing it in Syria.

Russia’s latest “involvement” in Syria has been ongoing since Putin stepped in to order fellow dictator Bashar al-Assad to halt his use of chemical weapons against rebel forces in 2013. This prevented the U.S. from having to police another civil war thanks to President Barack Obama’s asinine Bushian “red-line” bullshit in 2012. Putin could not have us messing with his dictator, and temporarily put the kibosh on Assad’s trampling of international law. Things have not changed much on the ground since. Lots of slaughter, refugees and other civil war stuff.

But make no mistake, Syria is Russia’s problem. Russia made it, supports it, and needs it to be an Either rather than an Or.  It is Russia’s ally and Russia’s neighboring headache. Look at it as one Black Sea away, not unlike the few miles of Atlantic Ocean was our issue with Cuba.
For all his bluster, Putin has been consistent about the Middle East since the 2003 Iraq War, something he was vehemently against since it put the United States military in his backyard trying to for all intents in purposes build a democratic alliance through force. Putin enjoyed Saddam Hussein’s regime and its oil and its stability against Iran and most of the lunacy of the theocratic world so close to home. We fucked that up for him. And now, at least according to his self-aggrandizing, cowboy Reaganesque “We are the world’s policemen” speech at the U.N. this past week, he will not let Syria go the same way.

This is bad news for ISIS.

But it is also bad news for Russia. More on that later.

On top of plummeting oil prices, which has crippled Russia for the past year due to the fact that the 80 percent of the country’s flimsy economic solvency depends on it, Putin was also motivated by Turkey’s all-in to destroy ISIS after one of its ubiquitous suicide bombers killed 32 people in a Turkish town bordering Syria on July 20. More stressing for Putin is Turkey, which refused to allow the U.S. air space to conduct military operations since before the aforementioned 2003 Iraq War, immediately reversed its position, placing another strong U.S. military presence too close for comfort. Remember, one of the key negotiations during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis between JFK and Khrushchev was America’s removal of warheads in Turkey, something then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy covertly agreed to and then reneged.

This is all good for the U.S., which all along needed Russia and Iran to get involved in this thing for their own self interest and to avoid sending U.S troops into another unwinnable quagmire.

Obama’s ass-covering insistence that Assad be removed is tired Cold War silliness.  He needs to stop that nonsense and embrace these new events that will certainly kick ISIS out of Syria and stomp the current Or chaos in Iraq, where it will tumble into some other kind of conflict like all wars in Iraq. And this will be accomplished without U.S kids dying. Win-win. Half of Obama’s rhetoric, nah, let’s say all of that rhetoric is aimed at appeasing Saudi Arabia, which is also tiring. The Saudis have been waging a fight against Iran on the boarder there for a year now and the never-ending intertwining interests between us and that quasi-dictatorship masquerading as some kind of weird theocratic democracy is sad and pathetic and it should have no bearing on the destruction of a murdering clan disrupting things for too long.

And that brings us to Obama’s finest hour, the controversial Iran Deal, which is only controversial because people with little to no knowledge of the Either/Or Theory, basically the same idiots who screwed up Iraq in the first place, make stuff up about it. The Iran Deal has changed everything for ISIS and put some Either into the raging Or around there.

You think it is a coincidence that Putin has gotten all “world’s police” to stop the spread of terrorism the week after the U.S. Senate blocked any lane for the politically motivated and largely ignorant legislative branch of our government to halt the Iran Deal, thus putting us in a position to share intelligence and use Iran’s monumental struggle against ISIS, a Sunni-inspired insurrection, to our advantage. Read the transcript of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N the same day Obama and Putin presented their face-saving malarkey. This is a man who is embracing being a player on the world stage, instead of some state-sanctioned terrorist organization. For a long time now Iran has been moving away from the piddling PLO/Hamas type nation to one that needs to have a voice in the Or stuff going on next door.

This is all good for the U.S., which all along needed Russia and Iran to get involved in this thing for their own self interest and to avoid sending U.S troops into another unwinnable quagmire.

And not that anyone outside of Russia cares, but all of this is not a good move for Putin. Assad is on his last legs and it may be almost impossible to keep a legitimate government working in Syria past the winter. Russia now owns this country lock, stock and smoking barrel. It is a broke country, as is Iran, truth be told, and it is getting involved in something that could drag on for many years. Putin is well aware of how things went for his Soviet Union in the 1980s in Afghanistan. That was the beginning of the end for that particular experiment and my guess is that it will likely be a bad move here.

But ultimately it is a worse move for ISIS, which has bitten far more off than it can chew and will become a road apple for whatever international shenanigans will keep the air-tight Middle East Either/Or Theory in practice.

 

 

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JOE COOL DOMINATING‏

Aquarian Weekly
9/16/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

JOE COOL DOMINATING
Don’t Look Now – Barack Obama Is Beating Second-Term Jinx

So far, this has been an immutable fact of the American presidency: Second terms are a disaster. Bad. Filled with impeachments and quitting and unconstitutional shenanigans. Queer luck. Doomed circumstance; economically, militarily, personally. The list is long, and in my lifetime (born in September of 1962) it has been a given.

Until now.obama-sunglasses

So far this burden has avoided Barack Obama (and by “so far”, of course I mean the president has over a year left in his presidency with plenty of time to have something catastrophic or moronic befall him). The fact is the president has excelled in his second term; victories against congress (TPP, Iran Deal), positive happenstance (gas prices, stock market), and a defiant attitude one gets when one does not have to run for anything anymore, which completely condemned presidents for the past half century.

We know the deal (and I consider LBJ: 1965-1968 his second term, since he was president for over a year prior) all the second terms since the Kennedy assassination have been awful.

To wit: Lyndon Johnson ostensibly quit by announcing he would not seek the nomination of his party to run as a result of his historically abysmal foreign policy that sank the U.S. in the nation’s most senseless war ever. His successor, Richard Nixon, did, in fact, quit nearly three years into his second term for crimes committed during his first and a goodly amount of covering up there-after. Ronald Reagan had his Iran-Contra scandal, which for all intents and purposes should have gotten him impeached, but did indict or jail more members of his administration than any before. Then there is Bill Clinton, who was indeed impeached (only president to have that dishonor in 130-odd years), who spent most of his second term being investigated for a series of odd things which led to perjuring himself before congress about an affair he had with his intern. Finally, we have George W. Bush, whose completely bungled Iraq War galvanized the opposition party to take over congress, trumped by the incredibly horrifying federal government reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and then the economic implosion of the Western hemisphere.

Holy shit.

Barack Obama is a glorified amalgamation of Washington/Lincoln/FDR compared to that rogues’ gallery.

But, wait, there’s more: Don’t look now, but the president’s latest victory, the historic Iran Deal that will be his second term’s lasting legacy for good or ill, which could mean hang onto your hats, since he is due for a second-term sinkhole, will not only go through, but doesn’t even reach the usually embarrassing veto stage that looked inevitable just a month ago.

I happen to support the deal, as stated here in July (THE IRAN DEAL AND THE SECRET WAS ON ISIS – Issue: 7/22/15) and after hearing the debate, reading the details, and listening to the objective, non-political commentary of nuclear-proliferation experts from around the globe, it has cemented my belief that this is the best option to integrate a rogue nation into the realm of diplomacy while keeping it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is not unlike the Kennedy Test-Ban Treaty, (which if you go for conspiracy theories did more to get him killed than anything else), Nixon’s detente policy and the opening of diplomatic relations with China (his finest and most lasting achievement), and the SALT talks and treaties developed for decades under many presidents, but truly championed – much to the chagrin of similar war-hawk conservative voices as we hear today – in the 1980s by Ronald Reagan (also his finest achievement).

Be that as it may, for a second-term president to spearhead this kind of international coalition with so many countries at a time of heightened strife in the Middle East in the wake of the previous administration’s destructive policies in the region, and a constant barrage of misinformation and doom-speak in the press is nothing short of miraculous.

This deal is, and again I state “so far”, the icing on the cake of a second term that has seen Obama’s most controversial and sweeping piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act (something I did not and still do not support) survive two Supreme Court rulings, pretty much cementing it for all time as the law of the land, and it has actually not been the coming calamity the opposition predicted; from loss of jobs to death panels and exploding taxes. On the contrary, firstly the ACA has dropped the number of uninsured Americans (16.4 million), a rate of 35 percent; the biggest improvement in 40 years. This was its aim, although I am dubious to its costs and subsidies, which are not sustainable in the long run, along with the other monstrous government entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. But, for now, in a charmed second term, not even 17 Republicans running for president think it is harmful enough to even broach. That ship, as they say, has left the dock and will sail on into future administrations.

And although several of Obama’s executive actions (while still not eclipsing his predecessor) have rankled those in congress (the political goal of executive actions), they have staved off gridlock. The most pleasing of all, supported by nearly eight out of ten Americans, the president’s opening of relations with Cuba after 50 years of completely failed policy that was so antiquated it had become a joke. This was the “change” that was supposed come around during a rocky first term, but was mostly ignored, like the emerging marriage equality movement that coalesced during Obama’s second term (thanks in some part to his “evolving” on the subject – a kind of goofy, “get with the program” thing that few beyond yours truly has given him shit for) galvanizing the progressive Left like never before.

We know the deal … all the second terms since the Kennedy assassination have been awful.

Much of this has little to nothing to do with a president, these kind of side issues and perks, like gasoline prices dipping below two dollars for the first time in eons; something no one thought possible in 2012 or the Dow rising from an abysmal 7,500 in 2009 to a record 18,200 before the recent dip, which still sits at over 16,000. But then again the “policies” routinely ridiculed by the opposition has in some way resulted in U.S. economic growth at fairly healthy 3.7 percent, as unemployment rate of 5.1 percent – it was 9.3 when Bush left town and according to factcheck.org the U.S. economy, by far the world’s most stable, has now gained nearly five times more jobs under Barack Obama than it did during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Don’t misunderstand me; there are plenty and varied negatives to this administration, some may point out the chaos in the Middle East, which is pretty much the same chaos that has gone down since the birth of this nation, but I for one have applauded Obama for keeping us out of this nonsense for once (Afghanistan notwithstanding, which has got to end sooner than later for my taste). I argue that most of the president’s mishaps happened during his first term, which historically speaking should have cost him the White House in 2012, but it did not. And granted a second term, he has authored one far superior to those that preceded him, at least since I’ve been sucking air.

Considering the craziness listed above, that is as close to not-crappy as anyone under the age of 50 has ever witnessed.

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WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

Aquarian Weekly
6/17/15
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WELCOME (BACK) TO THE JUNGLE

It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.

– Excerpt from a letter accompanying a classified report to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch, R-Utah this week from President Barack Obama

Uh oh.

If that little tidbit of information that escaped the red-alarm of the mainstream media obsessed with reality-show transgender announcements, presidential candidates with zero chance to ever be president 17 months from Election Day, and Lebron James doesn’t scare the living shit out of you then it damn well should.

Start being scared.

aumfjungle

The president went on to state that he would strongly consider “direct additional measures,” which more pointedly means expanding bases and additional troops could be deployed if needed.

Oooh-boy.

Our antiwar president is slowly being dragged into a giant mess we’ve already made of Iraq with the kind of “cautious” speak we’ve heard for a century around here from many a president citing national security to embroil us in a useless, unwinnable, soul-sucking, fund-sinking, bloody fray.

It began a few months back with “advisors” and “special forces”; buzz words for your kids coming back from some foreign desert sinkhole in bags or with stuff missing from their bodies. Just so we’re clear. Don’t want to miss the point of all these “advisors” and “special forces”.

Remember when the president announced a few months back to a dubious and overwhelming majority of war-weary Americans that this kind of thing was a mercy mission and a training exercise? This is translated as “See you in another quagmire, sports fans.”

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

We’re off to WAR again.

As if it ever ended or will ever end.

Granted, Barack Obama has cited the wildly sweeping 2001 AUMF, the bane of American foreign policy and arguably the sole reason there is an ISIS and a massive national deficit. It is the golden ticket for every U.S. president until the end of time to wage questionable military exercises all over the joint. He is well within his right and purview.

The egregious Authorization for Use of Military Force, a fancy piece of legislation titled Pub. L. 107-40 was codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001 and eventually signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001. It gives the Patriot Act a run for its money and puts all this haughty talk for the past few years about presidential overreach into grim perspective.

You want presidential overreach, jack?

The AUMF, which Obama (the guy who in 2007 scoffed at these sort of tyrannical knee-jerk powers) mentioned directly in his letter, “authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001”. The authorization grants the president (any president) the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.”

What does ISIS have to do with 9/11?

What did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

What did Libya or Syria or Iran have to do with 9/11?

Glad you asked. It’s simple. It all does.

Why do you think former Vice President and godfather of Iraq madness, Dick Cheney was so hot and heavy about conflating Saddam Hussein with 9/11 – something that had credence due to faulty intelligence and Bush 41’s laughably unnecessary Kuwait war in 1990, but could not lead to war without the AUMF?

Why do you think every hawk in congress cites 9/11 when anything goes awry overseas, especially in the Middle East, and berate the president for “leading from behind” every time a firecracker goes off in the desert?

It is not to remind us of our weakness in the summer of 2001, how we felt invincible and untouchable for all the crazy shenanigans we pulled aboard for more than half a century fearing no consequence. It is strategic. It puts all missions under the guise of the AUMF, providing the kind of unchecked military power that even Abraham Lincoln would have found troubling.

Well, maybe not Lincoln. He went a little nuts. But that was our Civil War, not someone else’s. But the AUMF makes it, prompts it, cajoles it, nay, demands that it is ours.

The idea of 9/11 is no more a date in American history than a blank check for future actions against any threats that remind one of 9/11, like EVERYTHING.

All that crap the CIA pulled after WWII would have been so much easier if congress had not merely declared war on Japan and Germany in 1941, but simply said that any country that sees fit to 12/7 us or threats to 12/7 us is open game.

Blank check.

War.

Stick that in your “Don’t Tread on Me” pipe and inhale.

And so while we debate the merits of insane cops running amok or whatever middling crap we can dig up on Dr. Ben Carson, who is a pathetic side-show to our already insipid presidential politics, our president is once again thrusting this nation into another war it cannot win and will likely only exacerbate its incendiary status.

Lock up your sons and daughters. It’s time to add more wounded that will be ignored and dead that will be forgotten.

Think I’m simply an anti-war whiner? A cynic?

Fair enough: Let’s examine the facts of how there came to be an ISIS in the first place.

After the Iranian overthrow of the puppet tyrant the United State implanted in 1979, ignoring the democratic wishes of yet another in a long line of oil rich nations, we began arming auxiliary tyrant Saddam Hussein’s Baathist soldiers to combat it. These are the same soldiers that rumbled into Kuwait in August of 1990, prompting the Gulf War, which helped to build the case for al Queda (the terrorist outfit led by Osama bin Laden mobilized from the CIA-created Mujahideen that fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and were later abandoned when we no longer needed them, grew predictably and stridently anti-American, and bombed American foreign installations and ships in the late-‘90s) to unleash the 9/11 attacks. These are also many of the same soldiers that today (with American weapons) make up ISIS.

And you know who our ally in all this is now?

Iran.

So, now with all of that whiz-bang success from arming rebels and propping up corrupt regimes and our spectacularly disastrous foreign military-led policy of the past 15 years, we once again go slowly down the path of self-destruction.

Don’t be afraid of ISIS.

Or Iran, the Affordable Care Act, Caitlyn Jenner, Wall Street.

Be afraid of “additional measures”.

Be very afraid.

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IRAN: SO FAR AWAY‏

Aquarian Weekly

4/29/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IRAN: SO FAR AWAY
With Apologies to the Ayatollah and Flock of Seagulls

Here’s hoping that a deal can be nailed down with Iran over its nuclear capabilities. Not sure what that deal would be or how it would eventually be stricken, but it is the best course of action now. Not in a few years or when we get a perfect one or whatever, but now.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Irantalks_600

And it doesn’t matter who is president or who runs congress or what type of religious fanatic heads that god-forsaken shit-hole, but this needs to happen and happen as soon as possible.

Due to the collapsing oil market (its chief export), and crippling sanctions, Iran’s economy is in shambles. It is embroiled in (at least) a two-front war against ISIS in Iraq and what amounts to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And while I think our involvement in that skirmish is misguided to say the least (for this space is on record as being vehemently against the Saudis in every way, shape or form and cannot believe to this day they don’t get more shit for 9/11, but okay, I guess oil is important and I’ll shut up about our hypocrisy in the Middle East, blah blah blah) it has drained Iran of its resources for war and terror.

There is also a real sense now that unless a deal can be worked out, there will be a proxy or outright war with Iran this country does not need, support for Israel or not. It is a war that cannot be won and one we cannot afford, and that, by the way, an overwhelming number of Americans oppose. Aside from tough-talking hawks who NEVER and I mean NEVER send their kids to war, this is a solution that is doomed to fail and because of that it is complete a deal or it is war, and that is it.

Sure, there could be war anyway, say if the Iranians do what Saddam Hussein did for decades and just pussy-foot around with weapons inspectors, but hey, we now know that Hussein was bluffing. Why? To keep the Iranians out of Iraq. Why do you think we propped his sorry ass up there in the first place? The vacuum created by Dick Cheney’s folly has given Iran full reign to their borders and for this they cannot be blamed. However, that is merely the threat of war, wherein without a deal war is imminent. Unless we are not entirely honest about preventing Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which in that case is another discussion.

This brings me to the childish notion that an imperfect deal means no deal. The very concept of a deal means both parties have to leave the table unsatisfied. Every deal known to civilization carries with it this caveat. The last time we screwed around demanding the perfect deal with Iran it went ahead and expanded its capabilities for nuclear weaponry by hundreds of centrifuges.

And finally it is nutso to claim that perhaps years from now a deal may come back and haunt us and so on and so on. Really? Neo-cons are making this argument? Haven’t we placated every nation in the Middle East over the decades for immediate gain, ignoring the long term ramifications, like Afghanistan to stop the Soviets and Iraq to stop the Iranians and please don’t make me name all these, you know what I’m talking about. It is the most specious of arguments against a deal. No deal is permanent and situations change with the times, but trust me the time for a deal has come.

What also makes the timing for the finalizing of a deal with Iran is the bitch-slap the U.S Navy just delivered on its wayward fleet this week. It is always easy for bullies to talk tough, until there is an actual showdown, and in many ways that is what happened in the Arabian Sea this week. Iran not only blinked, it closed its eyes and went home humbled. This is all you need to know about what Iran is willing to endure on the world stage. It is no longer speculation. It is a nation in dire need to make a deal and it is in the best interest of the region that one is struck immediately.

There will never be a better time to get Iran to capitulate.

Make all your lesser points for and against a deal with Iran. Go ahead. I am sure they are all salient. Here is mine, and it will not change; we must not be in any position to have to back up international diplomacy with the threat of war again for at least a generation, if ever. Least of all there should be no consideration to perpetuating such madness in the same region we just screwed up so severely it may take half a century to quell, if at all.

We have to stop thinking we hold all the cards all the time. We don’t Not here. Not now. If anything, we should be damned grateful Iran is on the ball of its economic and war-torn ass. Yes, we must be the more gracious of the two nations. Yes, we have to trust-and-verify. And yes, we have to avoid anymore wars.

We make this deal.

Now.

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MIDDLE EAST BLOOD JUGGLE

Aquarian Weekly
4/1/15

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MIDDLE EAST BLOOD JUGGLE
or How To Hold Onto A Fistful of Rain & Not Have Too Many People Killed

Now that the bloody coup in Yemen has finally transpired and anarchy is the rule of the day, things have become extremely grim to the greater hopes this country harbors for a manageable Middle East. This has been our red herring since before World War II. It is our addiction; the junky U.S. Hell, this finger-in-the-dam illusion had its moments, but it also has an expiration date, and it has come due. blood_juggle2

Untenable is a kind word to describe our current events there, another more accurate has a military slant, FUBAR. And while the United States, in all its completely delusional might, believes it has a hand in this – beyond the hand that helped usher this inevitable madness along – there is little that can be done beyond containment. And the containment option did not work well for the British or any previous empire, so good luck with that.

Yemen certainly complicates things on the Iranian front. All this talk about Benjamin Netanyahu’s grandstand in front of congress a couple of weeks ago and his shameless flip-flop-a-go-go re-election being some kind of influence on all this is laughable. The United States is influenced by Israel the way a jackhammer is curtailed by the sidewalk. Israel is America’s bitch. It will do what we tell it and shut up when it needs to shut up. If this was up for debate then the U.S. would have let Israel retaliate during the first Gulf War instead of sucking it up. Israel exists to put fear into OPEC, nothing more. Netanyahu may be fooled by his influence, but we should not be.

No, Iran wants chaos in Yemen and the U.S. does not, or let me rephrase that, Saudi Arabia does not. And while there are strong indications that at least something can be resolved in slowing down its proposed nuclear ambitions through a multi-nation deal and its role in fighting the suddenly uber-important spread of ISIS, Iran cannot be allowed to mess with the Saudis. The U.S. is Saudi Arabia’s bitch and therefore we must put our cards in another cultural civil war that no one will win, but we will somehow be responsible to clean up.

Before we continue our review of FUBAR 2015, let’s get a few things straight: Every time the United States has conducted any military operation in the Middle East it ends in disaster, including the first Gulf War that appeared gangbusters until it lead to the emboldening of Saddam Hussein and its left-overs convincing congress to invade the nation and turn it into a tinderbox. Not to mention that we suck at war now. It is so bad that no one, not even the hawks in Washington, take this option seriously anymore. I have heard moans and laughter at events connected to early presidential campaign stops by Scott Walker and Ted Cruz when they start talking about military solutions in Iraq or Iran. No one with half a brain thinks the U.S Army can do anything but further inflame the Middle East, so believe me when I tell you that anyone who makes this point in congress or running for president is patently insane and should be shunned and humiliated.

This mess in Yemen also uncovers another marching line in our parade of delusions, Syria. The gory quagmire that is left of this country has been yanked into the ruin of Iraq and the Iranian issue due to the fact that since ISIS has become the enemy du jour both the Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad, who the U.S. has called a tyrant and worked with the Russians to curtail his use of chemical weapons on his citizens, has been an invaluable ally, along with, you guessed it; Iran. The Russians, embroiled in its own international quagmire in the Ukraine, has stood with the U.S on both fronts; supporting Syria’s fight against the push of ISIS and putting the screws to Iran over its nuclear program.

By the way, Russia scares the shit out of Netanyahu, and it should. One of the reasons, among many self-serving and some arguable, that he has gone ballistic to scuttle any deal with Iran. Something the IDF will not admit, but knows could be a problem, is Russia’s meddling in the Middle East, since OPEC has imploded its paper thin, oil-based economy in the last four months. Suddenly the pivot for Russian President Vladimir Putin to arms deals and ISIS killing could be a tricky problem for Israel, who spends all of its defense policy propaganda on Arabs.

Here’s a fun kicker; as recently as this week Iran, in a Netanyahu/Putin type photo-op maneuver to try and not seem too cushy with the U.S. and appear to not sell-out its country’s myopia decided to cease the defense of Iraq’ city of Tikrit against ISIS in protest to the United States’ continuing bombing campaigns there. This proves that once again while the military might of the U.S. resonates with the UN and the “we have to do something” crowd, it only mucks up the works.

This brings us to the final bit of juggling, and that is something we have covered here for sometime; the Sunni versus Shiite undercurrent, which is not so much an undercurrent as the primary reason for these weird alliances and bizarre massacres. There is and will be nothing 21st century diplomacy or military action can do to put a fancy ribbon on this nightmare. It ends in annihilation. And while it seems defeatist and nihilistic to suggest such a thing, it really makes no sense to try and put the proverbial square peg into the round hole either. No amount of money, negotiations, fast talk or tough talk or more to the point bombing or dead Americans is going to change this fact. It is the worst of civil wars, a religious/cultural one. And to be involved, which we definitely are, folks, whoever is president or controls congress or what year it is or who stands on what side of the ideological fence, will lead to bloody ruin.

Untenable is a kind word to describe our current events there, another more accurate has a military slant, FUBAR.

However, I think it is important for the smaller voices – mine being one of them – to at least point out the futility of trying to get this thing under some semblance of control. It was that kind of hubris that pretty much put this stuff in motion. Whether it’s the Shah of Iran creating the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or the bolstering of Saddam Hussein to combat Khomeini or the ousting of Hussein to protect OPEC or the Mujahideen to combat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan or the second Iraq war to combat Hussein or whatever it is you call what is going on now, it is not a means to a positive end. Never has been, so what should make a difference now?

Okay, so maybe you say at the end of this, what is the United States supposed to do, nothing?

I ask: Has the United States tried doing nothing before?

If nothing is the alternative to our fingerprints being all over this horror show, I say, yes, nothing.

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CONVENIENTLY INVISIBLE AMERICA

Aquarian Weekly
12/17/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

CONVENIENTLY INVISIBLE AMERICA
Or CIA – Our National Apathy Over Dirty Little Secrets

In April of 2009 this space said all it was going to say about the United States and torture during those wild and woolly years after 9/11 when, as warned by this space in the autumn of 2001; the “gloves would be coming off.” This is how it works around here. You don’t like it, wear a helmet or go back to your Instagram and Twitter. No, in the wake of this latest report on our national ugliness, I only mean to bring agonizing perspective, or, if you will, pour a bucket of ice water on your white-hot outrage.pinochet

But our been-there-done-attitude comes from our study of human nature (and by “study” I mean living for over a half century, most of it confronted with this miserable shit and having the forum to share it) that and if it wasn’t fixed then, it ain’t getting fixed. It’s like all this whining about this president having too much power, when the expansion of that power has been growing since Andrew Jackson in 1831.

Time to wake up and smell the steaming-hot helping of feces.

When I was a kid in the mid-70s’ – 1975 to be exact – there was some hubbub about the Central Intelligence Agency that at first rocked the core of our moral construct as a country and then kind of petered out, as is our wont. This was the end of innocence, as if the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, the murders of Selma, the riots on campuses, Viet Nam (yes, damn it, I am evoking Nam again – how do you write anything about the CIA without mentioned that colossal massacre?), the shootings at Kent State, the Weather Underground, Watergate, Patty Hearst, etc. had not been enough to shake us from our Pollyanna slumber.

It began with the Church Committee, named after a rakish 54 year-old liberal Democrat from Idaho, who had an unassailable hatred of the CIA and set about uncovering some of the most heinous crimes ever perpetuated around this globe by a single unit outside of the Nazi Party.

Most of what we know and openly accept today as business-as-usual for the spy unit of our federal government was a bit of a shocker for some in the 70s’. For some odd reason, there wasn’t much talked about concerning the CIA after WWII. This was the Cold War, and people, I guess, accepted the whole thing as some kind of intrigue novel meets James Bond – kind of romantic, sort of dangerous, and full of weird gadgets like shoe-phones and pens with poison tips or a gas-fog corsage. We all saw Get Smart; funny, paranoid, inside-baseball stuff.

Then the Church Committee started to peel back the layers of our stinking onion and boy was it a big deal.

For awhile. We hadn’t discovered the Fonz yet and KISS had yet to break it big.

Through five administrations representing both parties, the CIA literally ran amok; unchecked and unflinching: Assassination attempts of foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile and the solicitation of the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro. There was also the little nugget of the “HTLINGUAL” program, a warrant-less infiltration of the U.S. Postal Service – in other words since the early 1950s until 1973, the CIA routinely and aggressively opened the mail of American citizens, and in many cases actually stole packages and personal correspondence with no repercussions or even a blurb in the Something Examiner. Chances are if you used the USPS to communicate in any way from 1951 to the early 1970s’ and it went missing or you never received it, there is a very good chance it was absconded by the CIA.

Chill Alert: This was before it was legal. The 2001 Patriot Act took care of that annoying detail.

Of course, after some ooohh-ing and ahhh-ing, the backlash started, wherein many in the government and the Gerald Ford White House began shutting down the investigation due in part to executive order and “national security” concerns (the usual stuff), protecting the lives of hired murders around the globe to save face and keep the engines moving. Those who still kept JFK in the sainted category were appalled and fought back, and, well the whole Nixon thing is well-documented, so we’ll leave that abomination to the annals of history for now.

What was not known through the Church Committee, but would later be revealed through leaks and books quoting “hidden sources” was the spectacular list of actual assassinations of world leaders, bloody and bloodless coup de tats and other insane shenanigans by this tax-funded rogue enterprise.

These included, and would later come back to haunt in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan), Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, East Germany), Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua) and South America (Argentina, Guyana, Venezuela), overthrows of governments and instituted puppet regimes of despotic factions in Iran, Syria, Guatemala, Tibet, South Viet Nam, Brazil, Chili, Argentina. Some of the most hideous mass murderers in the recent history of our planet were ushered in and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.

We are responsible for – and if by “we” I mean we are somehow attached to this as we are attached to say, something LeBron James does since you are a Cleveland Cavs fan or you wave a flag every time something goes right around here, then I guess you are somewhat culpable for this crap, but I digress – such luminaries as the Shah of Iran, Jorge Ubico, and Augusto Pinochet, among others. Do yourself a favor when you’re done reading this; look up the legacy of these gentlemen and then get worked up over torturing a couple of hundred suspected terrorists.

It will be hard to up your dander.

So what is Campion saying here? What is his angle; the usual, sure this is horrible, but we have done much worse and likely are still doing much worse? Am I siding with Dick Cheney? Do I have such contempt for this country I would just come to the conclusion that we are somewhere in the ballpark of evil and I’ll just finish writing this, throw my hands up and go have a beer and a stogie?

Well, yeah, sure. I guess.

Some of the most hideous mass murderers in the recent history of our planet were ushered in and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.

But that is too simple. I only mean to bring up that the CIA’s mere existence is the issue (an existence that continued long after 1975 for some truly bizarre and abhorrent behavior), not its latest in a long line of “crimes”. Why do I put quotes around it? Am I trying to be cute or do I not think that defecating (how many times can I possibly use excrement as metaphor? Answer: four times) on the conventions of international war that was the legal umbrella for the Nuremberg Trials is a serious stain on our national soul?

Excuse me, I need a cigar and a beer.

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