AMERICA’S ENDLESS WARS

As we are learning, U.S. wars are based on lies. Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his links to al-Qaeda, both fabrications used to justify the Iraq invasion, were finally exposed. Seventeen years into the Afghan war, Americans still associate the Taliban with al-Qaeda.  “We make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them,” declared George W. Bush in 2001. This was at the heart of the Bush doctrine, using confusing distinctions to encourage Americans to see the Taliban as actively in cahoots with al-Qaeda, hence enemies of America and “terrorists” by definition.

Al-Qaeda is an Islamist global terror outfit intent on provoking and intensifying conflict between the Muslim world and the West. The Taliban is a Pashtun-nationalist movement that grew out the disorder in their country from 1978 to 1996.

For years, our military commanders have acknowledged that they cannot defeat the Taliban, yet President Trump has recently intensified the war against them. “I have lifted restrictions and expanded the authority of the commanders in the field. The gloves are off. Our military is now looking for any opportunity to target the enemies in Afghanistan wherever we find them in the theatre.” In 2017 alone, some 20,000 Afghans were killed.

A US-Saudi-led coalition has waged a cruel war against the Yemini Houthis, a home-grown Shiite movement, that turned the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The destruction of infrastructure in Houthi-held areas has destroyed a once-functioning public health system, touching off a cholera epidemic with over a million suspected cases. Even worse is Yemen’s man-made famine, a direct result of US-Saudi air campaigns and a naval blockade aimed directly at the country’s economic life. While there is a sufficient supply of food in the country, the Yemini have no money to buy it. Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia claim the Houthi enjoy Iranian supoort. There is no evidence to support such a claim.

If there is a place in the Middle East almost as miserable as Yemen, it is Syria. Since 2011, when a nonviolent movement to unseat Assad dissolved into a vicious civil war, more than half the country’s pre-war population of 22 million have become internally displaced or obliged to take refuge in neighboring countries. No doubt there is plenty of blame to go around with over 500,000 deaths, but on any list of culprits we must include the neoconservatives, the same ones who fostered the myth of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As far back as 1996, these neocons had already hatched a “Clean Break” strategy with Benjamin Netanyahu, then serving his first term as Israel’s Prime Minister. The idea was to reconfigure a Middle East favorable to Israel’s interests. First, Saddam Hussein had to be removed, then the US would undertake regime change in Syria. The loudest advocate for both Iraq and Syria destruction during the Bush administration—John Bolton—is now Trump’s national security advisor.

Will conflict with Iran be added to our long list of endless wars? As I wrote in The Syrian, “Syria is the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah. Syria is ruled by Alawites, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam; Iran and Hezbollah are also Shiite. In order to weaken both Iran and Hezbollah, Israel and the US must first destroy Syria. Geopolitically, there is a much bigger issue at play—the proxy war between the US and Iran. Such a war would amount to an inter-Islam war which would be even more worrisome. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, mostly Sunni, support U.S. and Israel’s attempt to destroy the three Shiite entities. With Trump and his Secretary of State openly talking about a possible escalation between the U.S. and Iran, there is a major risk that some combination of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabic threesome could initiate a war with Iran.

For more than 70 years, Americans have largely ignored the effects of U.S. foreign policy around the world. Rubble in Syria? Famine in Yemen? They wonder what all of this has to do with them.

It is past time for the debate to begin. It is time for Americans to pay attention to what their government does in their name. It is time to take note of the $1 trillion in annual profit that the military-industrial compound rakes in annually, and ask why?

There is neither discussion, nor debate, nor protest about our endless wars. Perhaps if the media did not put all its resources into Donald Trump’s tweets, they would find the time to expose the evils of America’s endlamazoness wars.

This book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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ISRAEL’S NEW APARTHEID LAW

The Israeli parliament recently passed a law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people. The law states:

“Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.” This, even though one in five citizens of Israel is an indigenous, non-Jewish Palestinian.

The new law also declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, sets the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state, and recognizes Independence Day, days of remembrance and Jewish holidays. One clause of the bill downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special” standing, but also cryptically stipulates that “this clause does not harm the status quo to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

As I wrote in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides, “Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence refers specifically to Israel as a Jewish state committed to the ingathering of Jewish exiles. Palestinians who are classified as Israeli Arabs, and non-Jews like Armenians, have citizenship rights. They can vote in election for members of the Knesset and for prime minister.

“All other rights are nationality rights based on religion and are reserved for Jews only. If you are Jewish, you have exclusive use of the land, since Israeli law states that ninety-three percent of the land in Israel belongs to the Jewish people. If you are Jewish you have privileged access to private and public employment, special educational loans, home mortgages and priority admission to all universities. Special privileges are reserved for those who serve in the military. Military service is compulsory for all Jews, male and female, except the ultra-Orthodox, who receive the special privileges anyway. Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, are not allowed to serve in the Israeli Army. The Druze, who are originally from Lebanon and who practice an offshoot of Shiite Islam, are permitted to serve in the Israeli Army.

“Israel does not define itself as a state of its citizens but as a state of all the Jews in the world. Jews from anywhere can make aliya (emigration) to Israel, declare citizenship and be granted the nationality privileges of being Jewish while these rights are denied Palestinians who have lived in Palestine for centuries.”

In passing this bill Israel has legislated annexation of all Palestinian land and has established an apartheid system. There is no longer any illusion that Israel is a democracy as it has always claimed. Palestinians, no matter where they live, are controlled by an Israeli government and military that robs them of their basic human rights and freedoms.

Adalah, a leading Palestinian human rights organization in Israel, describes how the law “affirms the principle of apartheid in housing, land and citizenship.” It concludes that “this law constitutionally sanctions institutionalized discrimination.”

This bill is a harsh reminder to all Palestinian citizens of Israel that they are not welcome in their own ancestral homeland. As non-Jews, they were already not allowed to buy or rent land on 93% of the area controlled by the Israeli state, and many communities, the Bedouins in particular, are declared “unrecognized” and bulldozed out of existence by Israeli forces.

From now on, it will not just be legal to racially discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state. It will be constitutionally mandated and required. If ever there was a time for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s system of oppression it is now. Otherwise, Israel will use its new law to make more and more Palestinians stateless and demolish more Palestinian homes. They are going to make life so difficult for Palestinians that they eventually disappear. That is their plan.

Israel’s official adoption of apartheid opens the door for the Palestinian people. They do exist as the indigenous people of this ancient land. Now is the time to rally the world to pressure the UN to activate its anti-apartheid laws and impose serious sanctions on Israel.

This was done against apartheid South Africa. It must also be done against apartheid Israel.

This book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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AN INDEFINITE US PRESENCE IN SYRIA?

According to John Bolton, in a recent ABC News interview, the US demands the immediate withdrawal of all Iranian advisors and troops from Syria. He also insisted that US troops should remain in Syria until all Iranian influence is wiped out, not just in Syria, but in the Middle East. What Bolton is really saying is that the Trump administration plans to continue to raise the bar of unreasonable demands to justify the indefinite presence of American troops, not just in Syria, but in the entire region, in the serve of its larger geopolitical goals.

It is unlikely that President Assad would agree to these terms as events outside Syria are beyond his control and a reduction of Iranian influence in the region would be against Syria’s best interest, given that Iran is a major ally of Assad.

In fact, the Syrian government would only consider such a deal feasible if the US would withdraw its forces prior to a pull-out of Iranian forces since the US presence prevents the Syrian Army and its allies from waging war against ISIS not just in the northeast but on its southern border with Jordan. According to some media sources, Trump would “allow” Damascus, supported by Russian air power, to regain its territory along its borders with Jordan, Israel and Iraq. In return, President Putin and Assad would agree to establish an extended demilitarized zone along these same borders, off-limits to any Iranian forces. That would set the scene for Trump’s already announced desire to extract US forces out of Syria before October and the US-mid-term elections.

According to Pepe Escobar, writing in Asia Times, the CIA and the Pentagon are not exactly enthusiastic about Trump’s alleged Syria gambit. For assorted neocons and powerful factions of the industrial-military, surveillance complex, their “Assad must go” demand cannot be traded off. “As if there is something to trade,” says Escobar. “Syria cannot be “offered to Russia” because Russia is already the major player in deciding what happens in Syria, not only militarily, but in conjunction with Iran and another regional power, Turkey.”

Was this something that was discussed in Helsinki between Trump and Putin?

At the heart of the matter is Syria’s territorial integrity and the legitimacy of the Assad government. Russia, Iran and Turkey support this. The US-led NATO and the Gulf Cooperation alliance are against it especially since they are the ones, over the last seven years, who have financed and supported various Al-Qaeda groups that the West insists on calling “moderate rebels,” as if any al-Qaeda group could ever be defined as “moderate.”

To accomplish such an ambitious goal in the northeast, the Assad government would have to liberate its own territory back from the Americans who insist on holding onto this important piece of real estate not, as they contend, to fight ISIS et al, but to keep their greedy hands on that oil and gas rich area of Syria. I discuss this in depth in Damascus Streetmy newest work of fiction.

While in the south, in Daraa, where the conflict began some seven years ago, the reasons are as sinister for this area, just across the border with Jordan, is a  very convenient crossroads of weapons smuggling destined for the ISIS hordes still fighting for control of that part of Syria on behalf of the US and its allies.

As it stands, the main narrative in US media is that “regime forces,” meaning those loyal to the Syrian government, and therefore the “bad guys,” have unleashed air strikes and barrel bombs over rebel-held sections of southern Syria creating a humanitarian crisis.

The battle for southern Syria, and the decision by the Assad government to initiate it, while disregarding regional opposition, is one of the most complicated battles undertaken by the Syrian Army and its allies since the beginning of the conflict. The end of the battle and a victory for the Syrian Army would allow the commercial land route between Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to be liberated, thereby allowing the transport of goods safely to the rest of the Gulf. While this is paramount for the financial well-being of Syria, it is equally important that Syria wrestle back its territorial integrity from the various ISIS groups who have been financed, trained and armed for years by the CIA and the British Special Forces in Jordan.

Are these issues that Putin and Trump can reasonably agree on, or must they continue to bend to the demands of Israel and its regional ally, Saudi Arabia?

There is no doubt that Israel has specific regional priorities and that the US implements them most of the time, even when they go against American interests. As of now Israel’s aim is to prevent the central government in Damascus from regaining control of the Syrian territory occupied by ISIS and their allies.

Who will the winners be in this deadly regional game? Will Putin be able to convince Trump to do the right thing and withdraw American troops from all of Syria, or will Israel and the warmonger neocons prevail, as they so often do?

This book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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WHAT IF IT WAS THE ISRAELIS BEING HELD IN GAZA?

What if it was two million Israelis were being held in an open-air prison like Gaza and when they demanded their right to return to their homes 120 of them were shot in cold blood and some 130,000 of them wounded? Would the US and its mass media lackeys have dared condemn them for declaring a Great March of Return to their homes? Certainly not!

Why, then, must it be different when it is the Palestinians, in a powerful, nonviolent, unapologetic expression of their most basic fundamental rights, demanding their right to return to their homes? Tens of thousands of them marched to the Gaza-Israeli border unarmed, unless you count the flaming kites, the occasional Molotov cocktail and the stones, to face Israel’s deadly armed force, deliberately slaughtering civilians as if they were nothing more than ducks sitting on a wall.

Why must the Palestinians, who have already endured 71 years of occupation, be subjected to constant condemnation and belittlement that does not befit an animal? The answer is simple.  Virtually every American politician and every media pundit dutifully echoes the Israeli talking points laid down Benjamin Netanyahu, with language like “Hamas uses the telegenically dead to further their cause,” or “It is the politics of human sacrifice staged by Hamas to get people killed on camera.” Shmuel Rosner in a New York Times editorial asserted that “Guarding the border, or whatever it is, was more important than avoiding killing. They want human sacrifice, we’ll give them human sacrifice.” Not to be outdone, Knesset member Avi Dichter reassured us that the Israeli army “has enough bullets for everyone. If every man, woman and child in Gaza gathers at the gate, there is a bullet for every one of them. They can all be killed, no problem.”

Most reasonable people understand the ethico-political standard at work here. No other country in the world would get away with such blatant crimes against humanity without suffering a torrent of criticism from Western politicians and media pundits. Why, then, was Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation, so overtly hostile and indignant when 120 nations dared condemn Israel for its criminal actions?  Is it because she so shamelessly and dutifully carries out Sheldon Adelson’s orders, himself the mouthpiece for Benjamin Netanyahu, neither of whom tolerate any criticism of Israel?

 

Nathan J. Robinson, another Israeli apologist, said “Any amount of Palestinian deaths, however large, was justified to prevent any amount of risk to Israelis, however small.” Western governments and media have fashioned, and are doing their utmost to sustain, an ethico-political universe where Israel can lay siege to millions of people, bomb them occasionally and then kill them when they show up at the wall to throw rocks.

When will this madness stop. Perhaps more importantly, who will have the courage to stop it.

A more in-depth discussion of Israeli actions against Palestinians can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides.

This book is available for purchase here. Amazon

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HOW DARE THEY DEFEND THEMSELVES!

A state of war that has existed between Israel and Syria since Israel declared itself a nation in 1948 has, over the years, eased into an uneasy armistice, even after Israel illegally occupied the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 war, and later “officially” annexed it. Through international mediators, Syria has repeatedly demanded Israel withdraw to the pre-June ’67 borders, to no avail. Any such motion brought by Syria before the U.N. Security Council has been vetoed by the U.S., essentially giving Israel carte blanche to continue its illegal activities.

Fast forward to 2011.

Complicit in U.S. war crimes in Syria, including support, both financial and logistical to ISIS and other terrorist organizations, Israel has carried out multiple cross-border attacks, including illegally using Lebanese airspace. In response to such threats, Russia has recently begun supplying Syria with sophisticated S-300 air defense systems in order to deter further US and Israeli aggression.

 

In response to such actions, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syriathat if anyone dares to fire on Israeli planes, Israel will destroy them. “No defense systems should be used against us,” he said.

 

According to international law, aggressors have no rights, and that includes Israel, and by extension the U.S. When any nation is attacked by a hostile power, international law affirms that country’s right to self-defense. All nations have the legal right to defend their territory and protect their citizens. In the case of Syria, it wants Russia’s S-300s for defensive, not offense purposes.

A vulnerable country such as Syria needs all means of self-defense at its disposal.

Lieberman lied when he said Israel was not interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. The evidence proves otherwise. What Lieberman really meant was that Israel wanted a clear shot, whenever it wanted, at anything it didn’t like in Syria, without fear of losing one of its planes to an air-defense system.

 

No nation threatens Israel—not Russia, Syria, Iran or any other country. No weapons on Syrian territory are purposely aimed at Israel. Should it continue to be attacked, Damascus will, however, have every right to protect itself against aggression be it by Israel or Washington or any of its other regional allies.

The lead-up to the Syrian war and the perverse reasoning behind such aggression is discussed in great detail in both The Syrian and Damascus Street, just published.

These books are available for purchase here. Amazon

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WHO IS SHELDON ADELSON?

Sheldon Adelson is the casino magnate whose net wealth is estimated at well over $43 billion. He is also the elephant in the room no one dares talk about because he and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam Adelson, have one issue—Israel.

In the last election cycle, Adelson was the biggest single donor to both the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund to the tune of $55 million. However, the loyalty of Republican congressional leaders to the Las Vegas-based multi-billionaire came at an unspeakable cost. In exchange for helping to scuttle the Iran Nuclear Deal, Adelson gave the Republican super PACS $30 million. Adelson’s willingness to help the GOP stay in power comes as no surprise. The U.S. leadership, both sides of the isle, is for sale to special interests even if it comes with dire consequences to our national interest.

What are some of Sheldon Adelson’s successes to date? His belief that Donald Trump would be “good for Israel” was the main driver behind his decision to spend more than $90 million to help him win the last election. (We continue to blame Russia for influencing the last election but not the elephant in the room.) During his campaign, Trump pledged to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He fulfilled his promise, an action Adelson aggressively promoted and helped to finance. The appointment of David Friedman as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the man who insisted the State Department refrain from using the terms “occupation” and “Israeli-occupied territories,” was also Adelson’s choice to head the U.S. diplomatic mission in Israel.

At Adelson’s insistence, President Trump removed the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Already back in 2015, Adelson was advocating for a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran without provocation, so the U.S. “could impose its demands on Iran from a position of strength.” According to Adelson’s plan, the U.S. would drop a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert and then threaten that the next one would be dropped in the middle of Tehran, home to 9 million people with 15 million more in the suburbs.

On the eve of Trump’s recent address to the UN, the war-monger John Bolton suddenly resurfaced, insisting that Trump insert into his remarks that “Washington would cancel its participation in the nuclear deal if Congress and the U.S. allies did not renegotiate the deal.” Those words were not in the original speech. In fact, Chief of Staff John Kelly had tried to restrict Bolton’s access to Trump, aware of the possible consequences, but Sheldon Adelson would have none of it and used Bolton to exert once again his power over U.S. foreign policy. He also insisted John Bolton be named Trump’s National Security Advisor.

It was Sheldon Adelson who asserted his influence yet again and had Nikki Haley named the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.  He, along with the Koch brothers, have given Haley’s political advocacy group a major infusion of cash, most recently some $250,000 to remove four Republican state senate rivals in recent primaries.

Adelson also supported Mike Pompeo, former CIA director and an advocate for bombing Iran, as Trump’s new Secretary of State, ousting Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor from their respective posts, because of their support of the Iran deal.

Like many government officials who are beholding to Adelson because he put them in power, he is an advocate for a U.S/Israel war with Iran.  With the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and set to promote regime change as part of its official Iran policy, the foundation is quickly being laid for a military confrontation with Iran. Israel, whose leadership is also heavily funded by Adelson, is busy preparing for such a conflict.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, whose foreign-policy positions are remarkably consistent with those of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, has enjoyed a series of major victories over the past year thanks to the Trump administration. The president broke with decades of U.S. policy in the region by, among other things, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, dropping the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe the West Bank and East Jerusalem, nominating a staunch settlement advocate and funder as ambassador to Israel, withdrawing from UNESCO due to alleged anti-Israel bias, and slashing aid to the Palestinian Authority and the UN organization (UNRWA) that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees and their families. Under Trump, Washington has dropped any pretense of acting as an “honest broker” between Israel and the Palestinians.

It would be a mistake to think this largesse from a staunch Israeli backer like Adelson is only a Republican issue. Far from it. Had Hilary Clinton won the last election, and the Democrats had re-gained control of both houses of Congress, we would have seen the same kind of largesse from the Israeli-American entertainment mogul, Haim Saban.

So, what does this say about us as Americans? Unless we are willing to admit that our leaders are a bunch of corrupt, immoral, money-driven scoundrels who willing sell their souls to the highest bidder, in this case the pro-Israeli hawks, nothing honorable. A democracy only changes when its collective citizenry stands up and shouts “Enough! We demand change,” and drives the self-serving, traitorous detestables from office.

I discuss a possible Iran/US proxy war in The SyrianThe book is available for purchase here: Amazon

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WHO’S WAR AND WHO WILL FIGHT IT?

Patrick Buchanan recently asked why the same people who promoted and pushed for our war with Iraq—the Podhoretz, the Perelman’s and the Krauthammer’s, the Kristol’s and Kagan’s, the Brooks and the Boot’s—are now urging an all-out assault on Syria, Iran and nuclear superpower Russia simply because Moscow dares to support Assad while maintaining a diplomatic/working relationship with Tehran.

The same country that keeps surfacing as a central player in the lead-up to America’s regime change wars is none other than the Israeli government whose fingerprints are all over American interventionism. And they are at it again, using their afore-mentioned minions to promote their newest war.

In a recent article Whose War? Philip Giraldi wrote, “Israel is not shy about what it wants to happen, namely a war in Syria targeting both Damascus and Tehran, leading to a much bigger war with the Iranians. Fought by Uncle Sam, to be sure, as Israeli lives are far too precious to waste. Tel Aviv has long been feeding the propaganda line relating to why war with Syria and Iran are desirable.

 

And it has set the stage for this by claiming the Iranians have been lying when they say they have never had a covert nuclear weapons program. The Obama administration fell for the same false narrative about a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program allegedly in operation from 2001 to 2003, yet bravely pursued a ground-breaking agreement with Iran. A far more effective counter-argument, of course, would have been the truth—that the long-accepted accusations about Iran’s covert program are the product of an elaborate disinformation operation based on documents forged by Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. The impact of the Israelis getting US national security, political, and media elites to accept that these fabrications represented genuine evidence of Iran’s guilt can hardly be understated.

As I wrote in The Syrian, while the target all along had been Syria, it was never only about regime change. It was a proxy war, set up by Israel, and played out by the US and Iran. A potential Israeli attack on Hezbollah, alas, an inevitability given Israel’s desire to re-establish its military deterrence which it lost in the 2006 war, would serve as an indirect attack on Iran since they are the ones who back Hezbollah. That said, all roads eventually lead to Syria which is the conduit between Iran and Hezbollah. In order to weaken both entities, the US and Israel must first destroy Syria. As in all things Middle Eastern, there is also a religious component. Syria is ruled by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran and Hezbollah are also Shiites. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf nations, mostly Sunni, support the US and Israel’s attempt to destroy the three Shiite entities. They fear a Shiite revival and want to maintain their Sunni dominance over the Islamic world.

There is yet another reason for the US/Israeli involvement in Syria. The Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, has a huge oil and gas reserve which Israel intends to claim as its own. Meanwhile, the US has between 2,000 and 4,000 troops stationed in northeast Syria, an important region owing to its rich natural resources in the form of gas and oil. In fact, this region contains 95% of all Syrian oil and gas potential, including al-Omar, the country’s largest oil field. As is the case with American occupations, it is an effort born out of two goals: resource acquisition for U.S. corporations and the destabilization of a government targeted for U.S.-backed regime change. Shortly before the foreign-funded proxy war besieged its country, Syria had turned down a U.S.-backed proposal that would have taken natural gas from Qatar to Europe in favor of a Russian-backed proposal that would have taken natural gas originating in Iran to Europe.

In addition to its abundant water resources, northeastern Syria is also home to nearly 60% of Syria’s cropland, a key resource in terms of Syria’s sustainability and food independence.  By controlling much of the country’s water and agricultural land, not to mention its fossil fuel resources, the U.S. occupation will not only accomplish its goal of destabilizing Syria’s government, it will also invite a broader conflict with Syria’s allies, Iran and Russia, both eager to prevent another long-term U.S. occupation in the Middle East.

And so, it continues. Blame the Russians, the Iranians and the poor Syrians but never the real culprits, those unsavory characters who exercise their malignant influence over America’s political class and media elites.

The Syrian is available for purchase here amazon

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