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Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan

Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House Armed Services Committee has added a Liz Cheney-spearheaded amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which throws severe roadblocks in the Trump administration’s proposed scale-down of US military presence in Afghanistan and Germany.

As The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald notes, both parties advancing the amendment cited in their arguments the completely unsubstantiated intelligence leak that was recently published by credulous mass media reporters alleging that Russia has paid bounties to Taliban fighters for killing the occupying forces in Afghanistan. Yet another western imperialist agenda once again facilitated by unforgivably egregious journalistic malpractice in the mass media.

Every aspect of this development is enraging.

The mass media have continued to add to their mountain of Gish gallop fallacies promoting this narrative with a new Daily Beast report citing former senior Taliban figure Mullah Manan Niazi who asserts that “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.” The Beast’s own article admits that its source has severe conflicts of interest and is believed to be a CIA asset by Taliban leadership, and that Niazi provided no evidence of any kind for his claim or any further details whatsoever.

These flimsy, poorly-sourced allegations are being hammered into mainstream liberal consciousness on a daily basis now in the exact same way the discredited Russiagate psyop was, and just like with Russiagate the narrative they are being used to shape helps advance military expansionism and new cold war escalations which just so happen to fit perfectly into pre-existing geostrategic agendas of planetary domination.

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The War That Time Forgot

The War That Time Forgot

Drone targeting footage, Afghanistan. Photo: USAF.

I hear it all the time. The most crucial decision of this century was the vote to go to war against Iraq. It’s meant to serve as a political line of demarcation, a sure-fire way to determine which politicians, celebrities and news personalities you can trust.

But there’s little question, to my mind at least, that the impulsive decision to invade Afghanistan was the more consequential and enduring tragedy, a political bloodletting that nearly every political leader, left and right, fell for, even putative peaceniks like Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul. This was the true moral test of our time and almost everyone failed, except Barbara Lee. She was the lone voice of conscience in the fall of 2001, a vote of dissent in a time of mass hysteria that has been vindicated time and again over the past 18 years.

Remember, the vote to go to war against Afghanistan, enacted only seven days after the 9/11 attacks, was actually a vote for an open-ended war waged against nebulous “terrorists” anywhere on the planet: Pakistan, Niger, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria. You name it. No questions asked. It was only Barbara Lee foresaw the consequences, how even a highflying critic of the rush to invade Iraq like Barack Obama could 14-years later use the hastily-written AUMF as a legal basis for launching airstrikes on ISIS forces inside Syria. Now, Donald Trump has claimed the same unilateral authority and used it to justify strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and to justify the assassination of Qasem Suleimani. It’s the gift that keeps on killing.

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Mentally Replace Everything Before “U.S. Intelligence Says” With “Blah Blah We’re Probably Lying”

Mentally Replace Everything Before “U.S. Intelligence Says” With “Blah Blah We’re Probably Lying”

“Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill Troops, U.S. Intelligence Says”, blares the latest viral headline from The New York Times. NYT’s unnamed sources allege that the GRU “secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops”, and that the Trump administration has known this for months.

To be clear, this is journalistic malpractice. Mainstream media outlets which publish anonymous intelligence claims with no proof are just publishing CIA press releases disguised as news. They’re just telling you to believe what sociopathic intelligence agencies want you to believe under the false guise of impartial and responsible reporting. This practice has become ubiquitous throughout mainstream news publications, but that doesn’t make it any less immoral.

Whenever one sees a news headline ending in “US Intelligence Says”, one should always mentally replace everything that comes before it with “Blah blah blah we’re probably lying”. In a post-Iraq invasion world, the only correct response to unproven anonymous claims about a rival government by intelligence agencies from the US or its allies is to assume that they are lying until you are provided with a mountain of independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The US has far too extensive a record of lying about these things for any other response to ever be justified as rational, and its intelligence agencies consistently play a foundational role in those lies.

Voices outside the mainstream narrative control matrix have been calling these accusations what they are: baseless, lacking in credibility, and not reflective of anything other than fair play even if true.

“Same old story: alleged intelligence ops IMPOSSIBLE to verify, leaked to the press which reports them quoting ANONYMOUS officials,” tweeted journalist Stefania Maurizi.

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Never Trust a Failing Empire

Never Trust a Failing Empire 

The Washington Post, through documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, has published a long investigation into Afghanistan. Journalists have collected over 400 testimonies from American diplomats, NATO generals and other NATO personnel, that show that reports about Afghanistan were falsified to deceive the public about the real situation on the ground.

After the tampering with and falsification of the report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), we are witnessing another event that will certainly discomfit those who have hitherto relied on the official reports of the Pentagon, the US State Department and international organizations like the OPCW for the last word.

There are very deliberate reasons for such disinformation campaigns. In the case of the OPCW, as I wrote some time back, the aim was to paint the Syrian government as the fiend and the al-Qaeda- and Daesh-linked “moderate rebels” as the innocent souls, thereby likely justifying a responsibility-to-protect armed intervention by the likes of the US, the UK and France. In such circumstances, the standing and status of the reporting organization (like the OPCW) is commandeered to validate Western propaganda that is duly disseminated through the corporate-controlled mainstream media.

In this particular case, various Western capitals colluded with the OPCW to lay the groundwork for the removal of Assad and his replacement with the al-Nusra Front as well as the very same al-Qaeda- and Daesh-linked armed opposition officially responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

As if the massaging of the OPCW reports were not enough in themselves to provoke international outrage, this dossier serves to give aid and comfort to jihadi groups supported by the Pentagon who are known to be responsible for the worst human-rights abuses, as seen in Syria and Iraq in the last 6 years.

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The Most Significant Afghanistan Papers Revelation Is How Difficult They Were To Make Public

The Most Significant Afghanistan Papers Revelation Is How Difficult They Were To Make Public

The Washington Post has published clearundeniable evidence that US government officials have been lying to the public about the war in Afghanistan, a shocking revelation for anyone who has done no research whatsoever into the history of US interventionism.

In all seriousness it was a very good and newsworthy publication, and those who did the heavy lifting bringing the Afghanistan Papers into public awareness deserve full credit. The frank comments of US military officials plainly stating that from the very beginning this was an unwinnable conflict, initiated in a region nobody understood, without anyone being able to so much as articulate what victory would even look like, make up an extremely important piece of information that is in conflict with everything the public has been told about this war by their government.

But the most significant revelation to come out of this story is not in the Afghanistan Papers themselves.

The most significant Afghanistan Papers revelation comes from The Washington Post‘s account of the extremely difficult time they had extricating these important documents from the talons of government secrecy, as detailed in a separate article titled “How The Post unearthed The Afghanistan Papers“. WaPo explains how the papers were ultimately obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests which, after they were initially rejected by the US government, needed to be supplemented over three years with two lawsuits.

“The Post’s efforts to obtain the Afghanistan documents also illustrate how difficult it can be for journalists — or any citizen — to pry public information from the government,” WaPo reports. “The purpose of FOIA is to open up federal agencies to public scrutiny. But officials determined to thwart the spirit of the law can drag out requests for years, hoping requesters will eventually give up.”

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We are all hostages of 9/11

We are all hostages of 9/11

After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved

Pakistanis raise their weapons in the border town of Bajour as they shout anti-US slogans before leaving for Afghanistan in October 2001. Thousands from this tribal area go to join the Taliban in its ‘holy war’ against the US. Photo: AFP /Tariq Mahmood

Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel).

Back in Peshawar, I learned that something really big was coming: my article was published by Asia Times on August 30. Commander Massoud was killed on September 9: I received a terse email from a Panjshir source, only stating, “the commander has been shot.” Two days later, 9/11 happened.

And yet, the day before, none other than Osama bin Laden, in person, was in a Pakistani hospital in Rawalpindi, receiving treatment, as CBS reported. Bin Laden was proclaimed the perpetrator already at 11am on 9/11 – with no investigation whatsoever. It should have been not exactly hard to locate him in Pakistan and “bring him to justice.”

In December 2001 I was in Tora Bora tracking bin Laden – under B-52 bombers and side by side with Pashtun mujahideen. Later, in 2011, I would revisit the day bin Laden vanished forever.

One year after 9/11, I was back in Afghanistan for an in-depth investigation of the killing of Massoud. By then it was possible to establish a Saudi connection: the letter of introduction for Massoud’s killers, who posed as journalists, was facilitated by commander Sayyaf, a Saudi asset.

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US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

Donald Trump says he’s ‘okay either way’, whether there’s war with Iran and Tehran seems to be okay  with that too, warns Pepe Escobar.

All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to kill 10 million people. 

Apart from the fact that not even a nuclear strike would subdue the legendary fighting spirit of Afghan Pashtuns, the same warped logic – ordering a nuclear first strike as one orders a cheeseburger – could apply to Iran instead of Afghanistan. 

Trump once again flip-flopped by declaring that the prospect of a potential war in the Persian Gulf “could go either way, and I’m OK either way it goes,” much to the delight of Beltway-related psychopaths who peddle the notion that Iran is begging to be bombed

No wonder the whole Global South – not to mention the Russia-China strategic partnership – simply cannot trust anything coming from Trump’s mouth or tweets, a non-stop firefight deployed as intimidation tactics. 

At least Trump’s impotence facing such a determined adversary as Iran is now clear: “It’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.” What remains are empty clichés, such as Iran “behaving very badly” and “the number one state of terror in the world” – the marching order mantra emanating from Tel Aviv. 

Even the – illegal – all-out economic war and total blockade against Tehran seems not to be enough. Trump has announced extra sanctions on China because Beijing is “accepting crude oil” from Iran. Chinese companies will simply ignore them. 

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Continued American Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It

Continued American Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It


Even the neo-con warmongers’ house journal The Guardian, furious at Trump’s attempts to pull US troops out of Syria, in producing a map to illustrate its point, could only produce one single, uncertain, very short pen stroke to describe the minute strip of territory it claims ISIS still control on the Iraqi border.

Of course, the Guardian produces the argument that continued US military presence is necessary to ensure that ISIS does not spring back to life in Syria. The fallacy of that argument can be easily demonstrated. In Afghanistan, the USA has managed to drag out the long process of humiliating defeat in war even further than it did in Vietnam. It is plain as a pikestaff that the presence of US occupation troops is itself the best recruiting sergeant for resistance. In Sikunder Burnes I trace how the battle lines of tribal alliances there today are precisely the same ones the British faced in 1841. We just attach labels like Taliban to hide the fact that invaders face national resistance.

The secret to ending the strength of ISIS in Syria is not the continued presence of American troops. It is for America’s ever closer allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to cut off the major artery of money and arms, which we should never forget in origin and for a long time had a strong US component. The US/Saudi/Israeli alliance against Iran is the most important geo-political factor in the region today. It is high time this alliance stopped both funding ISIS and pretending to fight it; schizophrenia is not a foreign policy stance.

There has been no significant Shia Islamic terrorist or other threat against the West in recent years. 9/11 was carried out by Saudi Sunni militants.

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Planet of War: Still Trapped in a Greater Middle Eastern Quagmire, the U.S. Military Prepares for Global Combat

Planet of WarStill Trapped in a Greater Middle Eastern Quagmire, the U.S. Military Prepares for Global Combat

American militarism has gone off the rails — and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced various indecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Back in 2008, when I was still a captain newly returned from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called security and stabilization missions. We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there, and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

Of course, no one then asked about the dubious efficacy of “regime change” and “nation building,” the two activities in which our country had been so regularly engaged. That would have been frowned upon. Still, however bloody and wasteful those wars were, they now look like relics from a remarkably simpler time. The U.S. Army knew its mission then (even if it couldn’t accomplish it) and could predict what each of us young officers was about to take another crack at: counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fast forward eight years — during which this author fruitlessly toiled away in Afghanistan and taught at West Point — and the U.S. military ground presence has significantly decreased in the Greater Middle East, even if its wars there remain “infinite.” The U.S. was still bombing, raiding, and “advising” away in several of those old haunts as I entered the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Nonetheless, when I first became involved in the primary staff officer training course for mid-level careerists there in 2016, it soon became apparent to me that something was indeed changing.

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China Moves Into Afghanistan As Part Of Its Global Expansion Mission

For many, it was a stunning development. China will build a brigade-size military training facility in the strategic Wakhan Corridor, the land bridge between Tajikistan and Pakistan, which is located in Afghanistan’s northeast Badakhshan province and borders China.

Although Beijing denied the claim that hundreds of Chinese soldiers will be deployed to Afghanistan, a source close to the Chinese military stated, “Construction of the base has started, and China will send at least one battalion of troops, along with weapons and equipment, to be stationed there and provide training to their Afghan counterparts.”

For those who have been closely following growing Chinese influence in Afghanistan, the above report comes as no surprise.

A year earlier on August 14, 2017, Spogmai radio quoted the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense (translation): “A brigade base will be built to maintain the security of Badakhshan, which will be funded by China.”

The spokesman stated that China has steadily increased its military cooperation with Afghanistan and had, at that point, already provided $73 million in military aid.

Beyond the enormous geopolitical implications of a Chinese military base inside Afghanistan, the Badakhshan installation is the final security link between Tajikistan, vital to China’s commercial interests in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, China’s “all-weather” ally in South Asia.

It was largely unreported that China financed border outposts and deployed troops to Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which borders Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province and is part of the Wakhan Corridor.

Consolidating a Chinese presence in Badakhshan province, the Afghan Ministry of Information and Technology has discussed signing a contract with China Telecom for a fiber optic network connecting China to the Wakhan Corridor. No doubt, the intention is to couple that system to the larger network linking China with Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.

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Why US Imperialism Loves Afghan Quagmire

Why US Imperialism Loves Afghan Quagmire

Why US Imperialism Loves Afghan Quagmire

It may seem paradoxical that any American interest would seek to deliberately prolong the Afghan quagmire. Costing trillions of dollars to the national debt, one would think that US planners are anxious to wind down the war and cut their immense losses. Not so, it seems.

Like the classic 1960s satire film, Dr Strangelove, and how he came to “love the A-bomb”, there are present-day elements in the US military-security apparatus that seem to be just fine about being wedded to the mayhem in Afghanistan.

That war is officially the longest-ever war fought by US forces overseas, outlasting the Vietnam war (1964-75) by six years – and still counting.

After GW Bush launched the operation in October 2001, the war is now under the purview of its third consecutive president. What’s more, the 17-year campaign to date is unlikely to end for several more years to come, after President Donald Trump last year gave the Pentagon control over its conduct.

This week saw two developments which show that powerful elements within the US state have very different calculations concerning the Afghan war compared with most ordinary citizens.

First there was the rejection by Washington of an offer extended by Russia to join a peace summit scheduled for next month. The purpose of the Moscow conference is to bring together participants in the war, including the US-backed Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani, as well as the Taliban militants who have been fighting against American military occupation.

Washington and its Afghan surrogate administration in Kabul said they would not be participating because, in their view, such a dialogue would be futile.

The US refusal to attend the Moscow event, after previously showing an apparent interest, drew an angry response from Russia. Russia’s foreign ministry said the “refusal to attend the Moscow meeting on Afghanistan shows Washington has no interest in launching a peace process.”

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America’s Lengthening Enemies List

America’s Lengthening Enemies List

America’s Lengthening Enemies List

Friday, deep into the 17th year of America’s longest war, Taliban forces overran Ghazni, a provincial capital that sits on the highway from Kabul to Kandahar.

The ferocity of the Taliban offensive brought U.S. advisers along with U.S. air power, including a B-1 bomber, into the battle.

“As the casualty toll in Ghazni appeared to soar on Sunday,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “hospitals were spilling over with dead bodies, corpses lay in Ghazni’s streets, and gunfire and shelling were preventing relatives from reaching cemeteries to bury their dead.”

In Yemen Monday, a funeral was held in the town square of Saada for 40 children massacred in an air strike on a school bus by Saudis or the UAE, using U.S.-provided planes and bombs.

“A crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen,” said a Houthi rebel leader.

Yemen is among the worst humanitarian situations in the world, and in creating that human-rights tragedy, America has played an indispensable role.

The U.S. also has 2,000 troops in Syria. Our control, with our Kurd allies, of that quadrant of Syria east of the Euphrates is almost certain to bring us into eventual conflict with a regime and army insisting that we get out of their country.

As for our relations with Turkey, they have never been worse.

President Erdogan regards our Kurd allies in Syria as collaborators of his own Kurdish-terrorist PKK. He sees us as providing sanctuary for exile cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan says was behind the attempted coup in 2016 in which he and his family were targeted for assassination.

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Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya

Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya

Photo by Bernd.Brincken | CC BY 2.0

The summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the military alliance that is expanding its deployments of troops, combat and surveillance aircraft and missile ships around Russia’s borders, took place on July 11-12 and was a farce, with Trump behaving in his usual way, insulting individuals and nations with characteristic vulgarity.

Before the jamboree, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg (one of those selected for a Trumpian harangue), recounted in a speech on 21 June that “NATO has totally transformed our presence in Afghanistan from a big combat operation with more than 100,000 to now 16,000 troops conducting training, assisting and advising.”  But then he had a bit of a rethink when he was asked a question about whether NATO had learnt any lessons that might make it think about “intervening in the future.” To give him his due, Stoltenberg replied that he thought “one of the lessons we have learned from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from Libya, is that military intervention is not always solving all problems.”

He is absolutely right about that, because the US-NATO military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been catastrophic.

It is intriguing that NATO’s secretary general can at last admit that military muscle doesn’t solve every problem, but he did not expand on the subject of Libya, which unhappy country was destroyed by US-NATO military intervention in 2011, and it is interesting to reflect on that particular NATO debacle, because it led directly to expansion of the Islamic State terrorist group, a prolonged civil war, a vast number of deaths, and hideous suffering by desperate refugees trying to flee from Libya across the Mediterranean.

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No Need For Nato

No Need For Nato


A NATO summit approaches that brings Donald Trump to Europe and then on to these shores, and brings the usual clamour for more of the taxpayers’ money to be given to arms manufacturers.

Yet NATO is a demonstrably useless institution. It’s largest ever active military deployment, for 12 years in Afghanistan, resulted in military defeat throughout 80% of the country, the installation of a pocket regime whose scrip does not run further than you can throw the scrip, and a vast outflow of heroin to finance the criminal underworld throughout NATO countries.


Look at this chart closely, and marvel at the fact that the NATO occupation began in early 2002.

In invading Afghanistan and boosting the heroin warlords, NATO countries destabilised themselves

NATO’s second biggest military operation ever was the attack on Libya, where NATO carried out an incredible 14,200 bombing sorties using high explosive munitions and devastated Libya’s infrastructure and entire cities. Here is Sirte after NATO “liberation”.

The direct result of the devastation of Libya and destruction of its government infrastructure has been the massive untrammelled exodus of migrants, especially from West Africa, through Libya and across the Mediterranean on boats. This has not only led to the appalling exploitation and tragic death of many migrants, it has fundamentally weakened the governments and indeed governing public ethos of European NATO member states and led to a right wing populist surge throughout much of the EU.

In short, in destroying Libya, NATO members destabilised themselves.


The direct result of NATO’s destruction of Libya.

Now NATO is focusing once more on the original “threat” it was supposed to combat, a Russian invasion of Western Europe.

Russia has absolutely no intention of invading Western Europe. The very notion is ludicrous. It does not require NATO to deter a threat that does not exist.

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15 Years of War: To Whose Benefit?

15 Years of War: To Whose Benefit?

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil.

Setting aside the 12 years of “no fly zone” air combat operations above Iraq from 1991 to 2003, the U.S. has been at war for almost 17 years in Afghanistan and 15 years in Iraq. (If the word “war” is too upsetting, then substitute “continuing combat operations”.)

Since the burdens and costs of these combat operations are borne solely by the volunteers of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American populace pays little to no attention to the wars unless a household has a family member in uniform who is in theatre.

Permanent combat operations are now a barely audible background noise in America, something we’ve habituated to: the human costs are invisible to the vast majority of residents, and the financial costs are buried in the ever-expanding mountain of national debt. What’s another borrowed trillion dollars on top of the $21 trillion pile?

But a nation continually waging war should ask: to whose benefit? (cui bono) As near as I can make out, the nation has received near-zero benefit from combat operations in Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth where most of the billions of dollars “invested” have been squandered or stolen by the kleptocrats the U.S. has supported.

What did the nation gain for the tragic loss of lives and crippling wounds suffered by our personnel and Afghan civilians?

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil. As near as I can make out, the U.S. imports about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a relatively modest percentage of our total oil consumption of 19.7 million barrels a day.

(Note that the U.S. was importing around 700,000 barrels a day from Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in March 2003–and imports from Iraq declined as a result of the war. So what was the energy-security gain from launching the war?)

Meanwhile, Iraq exports over 2 million barrels a day to China and India, where the presumed benefit to the U.S. is that U.S. corporations can continue to produce shoddy goods using low-cost Asian labor that are exported to U.S. consumers, thereby enabling U.S. corporations to reap $2.3 trillion in profits every year.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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