Focus: Syria - Feb 27, 2017


Syrian army advance opens new link to Kurdish areas, bringing it to the edge of SDF-held areas south of Manbij - Reuters


Damascus opens up trade route with Kurds in northern Syria - almasdarnews.com


MAP: Syrian army links up with the Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij, finally allowing Efrin to call home - Aron Lund on Twitter


Syrian soldiers block Turkey-backed militants' only pathway to Manbij - farsnews.com


Syrian troops block Turkish push to Raqqa - Morning Star


Syrian army advances against Islamic State near Aleppo, takes the town of Tadef south of al-Bab: monitor - Reuters


Turkey-backed FSA rebels clash with Syrian army in Tadef near Al Bab - Reuters


Russia stops the fighting between Syrian army, Turkish-backed rebels near Al Bab - Sputnik


Massive loss for ISIS as Kurdish troops restart operations south of Manbij - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Arab Coalition makes major gains toward Raqqa, Pentagon says - Sputnik


U.S.-backed fighters in Syria worry more about Turkey than ISIS - Foreign Policy


"We'll quit Raqqa and fight in Manbij if Turkey/FSA attacks," YPG officials tell US military - Map of Syrian Civil war


Syrian planes transfer Kurdish PYD wounded members to Damascus: Official - basnews


Kurdish fighters capture three new villages in dash towards Deir Ezzor - almasdarnews.com


Thousands of Kurdish troops arrive from Iraq to spearhead Deir Ezzor offensive - .almasdarnews.com


Barzani's agenda in Turkey visit: ‘Rojava Peshmergas’ in Syria offensive - ekurd


Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga forces not part of Free Syrian Army or YPG: officials - ARA News

 

--------------------------------------------------

 

Mattis gives White House tentative plan for rapid defeat of ISIS - Military.com


Top US commander for Mideast visits Kurdish-led SDF troops in secret Syria trip: alliance - AFP


US general says Kurdish-led SDF forces need heavy weapons to destroy ISIS in Raqqa - ARA News


US sends new batch of armored vehicles to Kurdish forces (PHOTO) - almasdarnews.com


US Central Command tweets support for Manbij Military Council despite Turkish threats - almasdarnews.com


PHOTO: Image purporting to show US forces on demarcation line between the SDF and Turkish backed forces in Manbij - syria.liveuamap.com


US, Russia need more talk on ISIS fight, Air Force general says - Military.com


Al Qaeda second in command killed in US drone strike in Syria. Who is Abu Khayr al-Masri?  - ibtimes.com


A big story here: Many dozens of the most hard-line fighters in northwestern Syria headed to Raqqa after a free-passage deal with Al Qaeda - Hassan Hassan حسن on Twitter

 

Turkey sends troops, armored personnel carriers to Syrian border: Reports - Sputnik


Turkey cutting Euphrates River flow to Syrian villages particularly in Kobani and Manbij, it is a violation of intl. conventions of water - alwaght.com


Turkey builds more than half of Syrian border wall - DW.COM


Turkey will end operation in Syria after Manbij captured: Tayyip Erdogan's adviser - UPI.com


Russia plays key role in maintaining ceasefire in Syria: Erdogan’s Adviser - Sputnik


Erdogan's adviser says March meeting with Putin to focus on Syria - Sputnik


Russia forms elite Syrian unit to hunt ISIS terrorists - macedoniaonline.eu


Russian frigate heads to Mediterranean on Syria mission: source - Reuters


A shipment of 17394 tons of wheat, sent by Russia to Syrian people, arrive in Tartous - Syrian Arab News Agency


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu: Russia, US may conduct joint operations against ISIS in Raqqa - TASS


Top-notch Kh-101 cruise missiles that Russia unleashes on Daesh in Raqqa - Sputnik


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, A Trumpian Snapshot of America

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

A MOOD IS NOT A MOVEMENT: FIVE IDEAS FOR THE ANTI-TRUMP FORCES

By Richard Rubenstein

Comrades and friends, I am not writing to advise you how to resist the Trump regime. There are as many action proposals in circulation as there are anti-Trump groups, with “resistance” the buzzword of the moment.  But resistance against what, exactly, and for what purposes?  Most of the tactical proposals I have seen are strangely devoid of political content.  It seems that anti-Trump is more a mood than a movement with shared aims.  It is a negative sentiment shared by most of the identity and interest groups that formed part of the Democratic Party coalition (or, as the President himself would put it, by the losers) during the 2016 election. 

The spread of public protests against the new regime’s immigration ban and other initiatives is heartening to those who oppose these measures.  Yet, protest by itself doesn’t create a movement.  Spending one’s days reacting to Donald Trump’s misstatements, prejudices, and cruelties risks repeating the mistakes of the presidential campaign, when the country split 50-50, more or less, and a right-wing populist appeal aimed primarily at working class Americans generated an electoral vote majority for the Tweeter-in-Chief.  Outrage provoked by Trump’s character, rhetoric, and behavior is inevitable.  Even so, this is a time for hard thinking and conversation, not just outraged action.  (This is the point of Slavoj Zizek’s 2015 video, “Don’t act, just think.”  Take a look at it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLOTi2498xg.) 

We dearly need to spend more time talking with each other about what the underlying problems are and what kinds of organization and action are needed to start solving them.  I have a few preliminary ideas about how to frame the issues requiring discussion. If you find any of them interesting, let’s talk further about what a credible program for real change would look like, and how to organize a coherent movement to realize it.

Can Canada Get Out of the War Business?

Canada is becoming a major weapons dealer, a reliable accomplice in U.S. wars, and a true believer in “humanitarian” armed peacekeeping as a useful response to all the destruction fueled by the weapons dealing.

William Geimer’s Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars is an excellent antiwar book, useful to anyone seeking to understand or abolish war anywhere on earth. But it happens to be written from a Canadian perspective of possibly particular value to Canadians and residents of other NATO countries, including being valuable right now as Trumpolini demands of them increased investment in the machinery of death.

By “other people’s wars” Geimer means to indicate Canada’s role as subservient to leading war-maker the United States, and historically Canada’s similar position toward Britain. But he also means that the wars Canada fights in do not involve actually defending Canada. So, it’s worth noting that they don’t involve actually defending the United States either, serving rather to endanger the nation leading them. Whose wars are they?

Geimer’s well-researched accounts of the Boer war, the world wars, Korea, and Afghanistan are as good a depiction of horror and absurdity, as good a debunking of glorification, as you’ll find.

It’s unfortunate then that Geimer holds out the possibility of a proper Canadian war, proposes that the Responsibility to Protect need merely be used properly to avoid “abuses” like Libya, recounts the usual pro-war tale about Rwanda, and depicts armed peacekeeping as something unlike war all together. “How,” Geimer asks, “did Canada in Afghanistan slip from actions consistent with one vision, to those of its opposite?” I’d suggest that one answer might be: by supposing that sending armed troops into a country to occupy it can be the opposite of sending armed troops into a country to occupy it.

But Geimer also proposes that no mission that will result in the killing of a single civilian be undertaken, a rule that would completely abolish war. In fact, spreading understanding of the history that Geimer’s book recounts would likely accomplish that same end.

World War I, which has now reached its centennial, is apparently a myth of origins in Canada in something of the way that World War II marks the birth of the United States in U.S. entertainment. Rejecting World War I can, therefore, be of particular value. Canada is also searching for world recognition for its contributions to militarism, according to Geimer’s analysis, in a way that the U.S. government could really never bring itself to give a damn what anyone else thinks. This suggests that recognizing Canada for pulling out of wars or for helping to ban landmines or for sheltering U.S. conscientious objectors (and refugees from U.S. bigotry), while shaming Canada for participating in U.S. crimes, may have an impact.

While Geimer recounts that propaganda surrounding both world wars claimed that Canadian participation would be defensive, he rightly rejects those claims as having been ludicrous. Geimer otherwise has very little to say about the propaganda of defensiveness, which I suspect is much stronger in the United States. While U.S. wars are now pitched as humanitarian, that selling point alone never garners majority U.S. public support. Every U.S. war, even attacks on unarmed nations halfway around the earth, is sold as defensive or not successfully sold at all. This difference suggests to me a couple of possibilities.

First, the U.S. thinks of itself as under threat because it has generated so much anti-U.S. sentiment around the world by means of all of its “defensive” wars. Canadians should contemplate what sort of an investment in bombings and occupations it would take for them to generate anti-Canadian terrorist groups and ideologies on the U.S. scale, and whether they would then double down in response, fueling a vicious cycle of investment in “defense” against what all the “defense” is generating.

Second, there is perhaps less risked and more to be gained in taking Canadian war history and its relationship with the U.S. military a bit further back in time. If Donald Trump’s face won’t do it, perhaps remembrance of U.S. wars gone by will help sway Canadians against their government’s role as U.S. poodle.

Six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and (fail to) drive the French out of what they considered their continent. The colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again). They got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again). General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed, except in the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans). The British and U.S. attacked in 1758 and took away a Canadian fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup. George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775. An early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada’s lack of interest in being included. Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand Canada over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Just imagine what that might have done for Canadian healthcare and gun laws! Or don’t imagine it. Britain did hand over Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. In 1812 the U.S. proposed to march into Canada and be welcomed as liberators. The U.S. supported an Irish attack on Canada in 1866. Remember this song?

Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain’s crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!

Canada, in Geimer’s account, has lacked ambition to dominate the globe through empire. This makes ending its militarism quite a different matter, I suspect, from doing the same in the United States. The problems of profit, corruption, and propaganda remain, but the ultimate defense of war that always emerges in the United States when those other motives are defeated may not be there in Canada. In fact, by going to war on a U.S. leash, Canada makes itself servile.

Canada entered the world wars before the U.S. did, and was part of the provocation of Japan that brought the U.S. into the second one. But since then, Canada has been aiding the United States openly and secretly, providing first and foremost “coalition” support from the “international community.” Officially, Canada stayed out of wars between Korea and Afghanistan, since which point it has been joining in eagerly. But to maintain that claim requires ignoring all sorts of war-participation under the banner of the United Nations or NATO, including in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and Iraq.

Canadians must be proud that when their prime minister mildly criticized the war on Vietnam, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson reportedly grabbed him by the lapel, lifted him off the ground, and shouted “You pissed on my rug!” The Canadian prime minister, on the model of the guy Dick Cheney would later shoot in the face, apologized to Johnson for the incident.

Now the U.S. government is building up hostility toward Russia, and it was in Canada in 2014 that Prince Charles compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. What course will Canada take? The possibility exists of Canada offering the United States a moral and legal and practical Icelandic, Costa Rican example of a wiser way just north of the border. If the peer pressure provided by Canada’s healthcare system is any guide, a Canada that had moved beyond war would not by itself end U.S. militarism, but it would create a debate over doing so. That would be a continental step ahead of where we are now.

Open Guantanamo!

Antes des morirme quiero echar mis versos del alma.

Open Guantanamo to human rights inspectors. Open its files to the public. Subpoena the witnesses to its horrors. Open the courts to its prisoners and try them or set them free. Open the gates to the people of Cuba and give them their land back. And impeach U.S. presidents numbered 43 through 45.

Before, during, and after President Barack Obama’s announcements of closing Guantanamo, it constituted an illegal prison whose guards used and still use torture, human experimentation, murder, secrecy, and lies.

By official government accounts, Guantanamo’s prisons contain people desperate to attempt suicide, and so ingenious at accomplishing their goal that despite constant human and video surveillance, not to mention forced feeding, they are able to obtain forbidden materials, violate laws of physics, hang themselves by the neck with their hands tied behind their backs, and telepathically organize simultaneous multiple suicides by self-torture in their separate cells during moments when they aren’t in their cells but rather have been taken down the road to be “interrogated” by that great liberal force of enlightened anti-Trumpism, the CIA.

Jeffrey Kaye’s new book, Cover-up at Guantanamo, pieces together the available evidence on three particular alleged suicides at Guantanamo during Obama’s presidency. Most of the records have been kept secret. Evidence has apparently been destroyed. And fundamentally, most people just do not care. Since Kaye first reported that one alleged suicide victim had died with his hands tied behind his back, no other reporter has bothered to pick up that story. Since former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman reported on murders disguised as suicides, the Congressional investigations have piled up to a grand total of zero.

The United Nations has condemned the U.S. government for its use of torture. Luckily, the U.S. government is not a poor oil-rich country. No sanctions, prosecutions, bombings, or overthrows have followed the condemnation. Nor has the U.S. public apparently grasped the fact that the UN condemnation is part of a process following through on a treaty to which the U.S. is a party, a treaty banning torture, a treaty long since implemented by U.S. law making torture a felony. There is no statute of limitations on torture when it’s torture-to-death, also known as murder.

The delusion that holds that U.S. presidents have the power to make laws, whether closing transgender bathrooms, banning Muslim immigrants, or criminalizing torture, has reached its apex with the collective fantasy that Obama banned and Trump unbanned torture. In fact, you’ll never ban torture that way, but you just might keep it de facto unbanned that way.

Trump recently announced that he was changing a law that the courts have ruled forbids discrimination against trans-gendered people. A president has no power to do any such thing. But the U.S. media all reported that he had done it, that by announcing a law, the emperor had created a law. The trouble is, of course, that the actual creation of the law is accomplished by the media’s reporting on it. Once everyone believes that the law is what Trump declares it to be, the courts can go on ruling otherwise over and over until people cease to bring cases.

In recent decades we’ve moved from presidents issuing “executive orders” and calling them laws, to presidents rewriting laws that they are signing with “signing statements,” to presidents secretly creating laws (and signing statements) in hidden memos, to presidents secretly or publicly tossing out their choice of the presidential “laws” created by their predecessors, all the way to presidents just making laws by announcing them on television or Twitter.

Someone who can do that can, by definition, torture, murder, and experiment on human beings. And someone who can do such things can do them to those who would question his powers, not just those targeted by the bigotry he uses to win the support of his primary victims.

But the deep state is running the torture centers, as presidents come and go. And unless a belated #DemExit really materializes, we may see any principled opposition to established atrocities handicapped by the support of anti-Trumpers for their newly beloved “intelligence” “community.”

Why Should Trump--or Anyone--Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?

The accession of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency brings us face-to-face with a question that many have tried to avoid since 1945:  Should anyone have the right to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust?

Resume inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice

By Dave Lindorff

 

In the annals of human conflict, the Gulf War of 1991, when the US dispatched half a million troops and a huge armada of ships, planes and tanks into the desert south of Iraq and Kuwait and then crushed Iraqi forces in both those countries in a six-week blitz from Jan. 17-Feb. 28, surely has to rank as one of the most one-sided wars since Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched through Holland in four days in 1940.

Focus: The House GOP Border Tax Plan (Part 4) - Feb 13, 2017


The New York Fed explains why a border tax won’t help the U.S. economy, Ideas that sound good on paper can end up working very differently in practice - WSJ


Fed economists criticize House GOP border tax, arguing that it would raise prices for American consumers and businesses - CNN


New York Fed economists' blog post: Why the proposed border tax adjustment is unlikely to promote U.S. exports - Liberty Street Economics


White House denies Axios report that chief economic adviser Cohn said Trump administration does not support the GOP border adjustment tax - Newsmax


White House statement denying Axios report on Cohn's comments on border adjuststment tax - Axios


VIDEO: Original Axios report: Cohn says no go on House GOP border tax version - CNBC


'We understand the concerns' of retailers, small businesses worried about border adjusted tax: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - CNBC


Sean Spicer & taxes: Press secretary doesn’t understand border adjustment tax - National Review


How a U.S. "border tax" could hit your wallet (Page 1-5) - CBS News


How a border tax could hit car buyers - Car and Driver


American-made companies worried about proposed border tax - Chicago Tribune


JCPenney CEO says he's confident Congress understands concerns about how a border adjusted tax will be regressive and will hurt low income consumers - CNBC


VIDEO: Hewlett Packard Meg Whitman on border adjustment tax: 'It actually lowers the number of jobs for many, many companies' - CNBC


VIDEO: Pernod Ricard CFO says he’s not in favor of border tax - Bloomberg


Border tax adjustments: an unnecessary gamble - Mercatus Center


Regressive and loophole-ridden: Issues with the House GOP border adjustment tax proposal - ITEP Reports


Is that the border-adjustment tax compatible with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules? - Tax Reform and Transition


The border adjustment tax creates more problems than it solves - Tax Justice Blog

 

Alchemy is difficult and dangerous: The border adjusted tax distorts terms of trade with unknown consequences in pursuit of something that looks nice only in spreadsheets - jpmorganinstitutional.com


Don't ruin a chance for tax reform with “border adjustments" - Foundation for Economic Education


How ‘border adjustment’ poisons tax reform - WSJ


Why the GOP should abandon the border adjustment tax, Instead Republicans should go bold and propose a tax cut - POLITICO


Why a border tax is a tax on Middle America - Morning Consult


The introduction of a border tax adjustment (BTA) to the U.S. corporate tax code would be disruptive to currency markets, global trade, and global supply chains - CNBC


VIDEO: Gluskin Sheff economist gives thumbs down to border tax - Bloomberg


Paul Ryan and Donald Trump support 2 different policies they both call a “border tax” - Vox


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Uh-Oh! Violets in late February?: Signs of an Unusually Early Spring in Southeastern Pennsylvania are No Cause for Celebration

By Dave Lindorff

 

This whole winter has been anomalously warm in southeastern Pennsylvania where I live. My oil guy, Hans, is complaining that the demand for home heating oil is so low this winter that it's killing his business, causing him to lay off workers that he had already trained.

“If We Could Change Ourselves”: The DNC and Transformational Change

The Democratic sweep of 2008 built on an overwhelming public hunger for a shift in the direction the country was moving.  In a skillfully crafted campaign, Barack Obama presented himself as the personification of hope and change.  He and the party turned pent-up demand for a more equal society and a less belligerent foreign policy into a smashing victory.  Obama swept into office along with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.

 

100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War

By David Swanson

This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany and 50 since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war on Vietnam (49 since he was killed on that speech’s first anniversary). Events are being planned to help us try to finally learn some lessons, to move beyond, not just Vietnam, but war.

That declaration of war on Germany was not for the war that makes up the single most common theme of U.S. entertainment and history. It was for the war that came before that one. This was the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war without which the conditions for the next war would not have existed.

As well recounted in Michael Kazin’s War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918, a major peace movement had the support of a great deal of the United States. When the war finally ended (after the U.S. had actually been in it for about 5% the length of the war on Afghanistan thus far) just about everybody regretted it. The losses in life, limb, sanity, property, civil liberties, democracy, and health were incredible. Death, devastation, a flu epidemic, prohibition, a permanent military and the taxes to go with it, plus predictions of World War II: these were the results, and a lot of people remembered that they had been warned, as well as that the ending of all war had been promised.

The peace activists had warned the U.S. government to stay out of the war (not out of foreign relations, just out of mass-murdering foreign relations). And they had been right. The regret was intense and lasting. It lasted right up until the worst result of World War I came along in the form of World War II. At that point, regret was replaced with forgetting. World War I was erased from popular history, and its child on steroids was celebrated rather than mourned, and has been celebrated with growing reverence ever since.

The massive peace movement that outlawed war in 1928, had been widespread, mainstream, and aggressive before 1917 as well. Antiwar Congress members had entered into the Congressional Record a sample of the flood of letters and petitions they had received urging that the U.S. stay out of war. Peace groups had held marches and rallies, sent delegations to Europe, met with the president, and pushed to require a popular vote before the launching of any war, believing that the public would vote war down. We’ll never know, because the vote was never taken. Instead, the United States jumped into the war, thereby preventing a negotiated settlement and creating a total victory followed by vicious punishment of the losing side — the very fuel for Nazism, as well as for Italian fascism, Japanese imperialism, and the Sykes-Picot carving up of the Middle East so beloved by that region’s residents to this day.

An antiwar exhibit that toured the U.S. in 1916 included a life-sized model stegosaurus that represented the fatal consequences of having heavy armor but no brains. The idea of preparing for war in order to achieve peace, which today is simple commonsense, was widely found to be a great source of humor, as Washington cynically pursued “preparedness.” Morris Hillquit, an eloquent socialist — something of a Bernie Sanders without the 21st-century militarism — asked why European nations, having fully armed themselves to avoid war, hadn’t avoided it. “Their antiwar insurance turned out to be a bad case of over-insurance,” he said. You prepare for war, and you get war — remarkably enough.

Woodrow Wilson won reelection on an antiwar platform, and could not have won it otherwise. After he opted for war, he was unable to raise an army to fight his war without a draft. And he was unable to sustain a draft without imprisoning people who spoke against it. He saw to it that conscientious objectors were brutally tortured (or, as we would say today, interrogated). Yet people refused, deserted, evaded, and violently fought recruiters by the thousands. The wisdom to reject war was not lacking. It just wasn’t followed by those in power.

The understanding that war should be ended, which reached its peak perhaps in the 1920s and 1930s, saw something of a comeback during what the Vietnamese call the American War. Martin Luther King did not propose a different war or a better war, but leaving behind the entire war system. That awareness has grown even as the Vietnam Syndrome has faded and war been normalized. Now, the U.S. popular mind is a mass of contradictions.

In a recent poll, 66% of people in the United States are worried that the U.S. will become engaged in a major war in the next four years. However, the U.S. is engaged in a number of wars right now that must seem pretty major to the people living through them, wars that have created the greatest refugee crisis so far on the planet and threatened to break similar records for starvation. In addition, 80% of the U.S. public in the very same poll say they support NATO. There’s a 50/50 split on whether to build yet more nukes. A slim majority favors banning refugees who are fleeing the wars. And over three-quarters of Democrats believe, for partisan rather than empirical reasons, that Russia is unfriendly or an enemy. Despite the warnings of the wise for over a century, people are still imagining they can use war preparations to avoid war.

One thing that could help keep us out of more wars is the Trump face now placed on the wars. People who will hate Russia because they hate Trump may at some point oppose Trump’s wars because they hate Trump. And those getting active to support refugees may also want to help end the crimes that create the refugees.

Meanwhile, German tanks are again rolling toward the Russian border, and instead of soliciting denunciations from groups like the Anne Frank Center, as recently done to combat Donald Trump’s anti-Semitism, U.S. liberals are generally applauding or avoiding any awareness.

One thing is certain: we will not survive another 100 years of this. Long before then, we will have to try something else. We will have to move beyond war to nonviolent conflict resolution, aid, diplomacy, disarmament, cooperation, and the rule of law.

World Beyond War is planning events everywhere, including these:

Remembering Past Wars . . . and Preventing the Next

April 3rd at NYU, New York, NY. (details TBA)
Speakers: Joanne Sheehan, Glen Ford, Alice Slater, Maria Santelli, David Swanson.

April 4, 6-8 p.m. Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, D.C.
Speakers: Michael Kazin, Eugene Puryear, Medea Benjamin, David Swanson, Maria Santelli.

May 25, 6-8 p.m., Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA.
Speakers: Jackie Cabasso, Daniel Ellsberg, David Hartsough, Adam Hochschild.

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, At the Altar of American Greatness

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Focus: Syria and Turkey - Feb 22, 2017


Extensive efforts to solve the knots for the official launch of the fourth round of Syria peace talks at Geneva - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT


Syrian opposition says direct negotiations with Damascus regime necessary to reach political solution in Geneva talks - ARA News


De Mistura: Intra-Syria talks in Geneva impossible without ceasefire holding - Tasnim News Agency


Russia asks Syria to halt bombing during UN peace talks - AFP


Lavrov: Russia waiting for US to provide ‘details’ on proposed safe zones in Syria, they should be agreed with Damascus - RT News


Full text of the a new Syrian draft Constitution, proposed by Russia and presented to opposition leaders - Sputnik


More U.S. troops may be needed against ISIS in Syria, a top general says - The New York Times


Exclusive: CIA-backed aid for Syrian rebels frozen after Islamist attack: sources - Reuters


Kurdish-Arab alliance pushes into Deir ez-Zor, expels ISIS from several villages - ARA News


Manbij Military Council: We will fight Turkish army if they attack Manbij - freerepublic.com


US coalition continues to assist SDF-led Manbij Military Council north Syria - ARA News


McCain meets Erdogan, calls for the formation of a US-Turkish partnership to solve the Syrian crisis - Middle East Monitor


Statement of SASC Chairman John McCain on meeting with Turkish President Erdogan - United States Senator John McCain


Trump critic McCain meets Saudi king - DAWN.COM


Saudi Arabia 'ready to send ground troops' to Syria - alaraby.co.uk


Dem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy - TheHill


--------------------------------------------------

 

Multiple sites seized from ISIS as the Turkish Army reaches Al-Bab city centre - almasdarnews.com


Turkey Defense Minister: ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab, half of the town in the hands of Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels - Arab News


VIDEO: Al Bab street war: Turkish Forces and Syrian rebels attack ISIS - YouTube


Turkish Defense Minister to US: Act over Syria’s Manbij or we’ll reconsider a military operation there - Hurriyet


'Turkey will not seek permission to address threats’ whether in Al-Bab, Aleppo, Raqqa in Syria or Tal Afar, Sinjar in Iraq: Presidency spokesman - aa.com


Seizing control of Syria's Al-Bab important to push for Raqqa: Turkish official - US News


Turkey wants to see FSA replace SDF in Raqqa battle - Rudaw


Claim that PYD only effective force against Daesh collapsed, says Ankara - Daily Sabah


Turkey: Send US Special Forces to northern Syria to back Syrian opposition forces - Middle East Monitor


VIDEO: Turkey's Erdogan says aims safe zone in Syria after Raqqa operation - YouTube


Turkey failed to deliver a Syrian force to take Raqqa: analysis - ARA News


Regional rivals Iran, Turkey trade barbs over Syria - AFP


Erdoğan fans an Islamic nationalism in bid to build Ottoman-style influence - Christian Science Monitor


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Democratic Ex-Dove Proposes War On Iran

Rep. Alcee Hastings has sponsored a bill to authorize President Trump to attack Iran. Hastings reintroduced H J Res 10, the “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution” on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress after President Trump’s election.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/19/democratic-ex-dove-proposes-war-on-iran/

Bigot boy business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance -- Again

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Twice in recent weeks President Donald Trump reinforced his image of ignorance on African-Americans with astounding statements. Those statements amplified concerns about this president who rose to the Oval Office through a campaign tarred by brazen bigotry from his surrogates, his supporters and himself.

Focus: The House GOP Border Tax Plan (Part 3) - Feb 21, 2017


CEOs of 16 U.S. companies urge Congress to pass border tax - Reuters


Text of U.S. companies’ letter to Congress on the border tax - American Made Coalition


Americans for Affordable Products coalition responds to American Made Coalition press call on the border tax - AAP

 

Americans for Affordable Products calls on Sens. Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham to oppose border adjustment tax: Press event set for 11:00 am on Feb 23 - AAP


Graham: Ryan tax plan won’t get 10 votes in the Senate - TheHill


Koch-backed group American for Prosperity squares off against Paul Ryan on import tax - Bloomberg


Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity president: 'Border adjustment' a 'devastating tax increase' - Washington Times


Walmart warns against House GOP's proposed border tax - Business Insider


Retail has good reason to hate a border tax - Bloomberg


Border tax could wipe out retail earnings by 50% or more, analyst says - CNBC


IHA urges Congress to stop border adjustment tax - Giftware News


The president of a housewares and cleaning products company: Border tax will cripple companies like mine - TheHill


Bespoke Bikes threatened as border-tax plan hangs over factory - Bloomberg


Rep. Ro Khanna op-ed: Border tax is reverse redistribution - TheHill


Robert Reich op-ed: The Republican tax sham - The Huffington Post


Paul Ryan’s border adjustment tax mistake - National Review


A bad way to pay for Trump's corporate-tax cuts - Bloomberg View


Border adjustment tax just complicates tax code even more - MacIver Institute


Border tax debate pits theory against the real world - stltoday.com


EU denies plan to challenge GOP border tax - The Times


China to respond if U.S. introduces border adjustment tax: minister - Xinhua


The planned US border tax would most likely violate WTO rules - Inter Press Service


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Talk Nation Radio: L.A. Kauffman on Direct Action

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-la-kauffman-on-direct-action

L.A. Kauffman is the author of Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. She has spent more than 30 years immersed in radical movements, as a journalist, historian, organizer, and strategist. Her writings on grassroots activism and social movement history have been published in The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, the Village Voice, and many other outlets. She served as executive editor for the radical theory journal Socialist Review and as an award-winning national political columnist for SF Weekly, focusing on dissent and activism. Kauffman was the mobilizing coordinator for the massive February 15, 2003 antiwar protest in New York City. She continued in this role through the years of major antiwar protests, including those that greeted the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Mission Unaccomplished, 15 Years Later

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

In search of a Trumpian reality: On Killers and Bullshitters

By John Grant

 

* NOTE: The term bullshit is used here in the sense established by Harvard philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt in his little gem of a book titled On Bullshit, which opens with: "One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit."

“I’m Going to Have to Wear That Phrase Like Sackcloth”

“Kellyanne, good gracious!  What’s wrong with you, honey, you look terrible!”

 

Ukraine on Fire

I read this article: "A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See," and watched this preview.

So, of course, I wanted to see it.

I got a hold of a copy but am not allowed to share it and have been unable to get any information on where you can learn more, how you can rent it, where it will be screened, etc.

Bit *if* you are ever able to see Ukraine on Fire you should. This is a story about recent events in Ukraine that puts them into the context of Ukraine's history, rejects propaganda, and presents the evidence clearly and concisely. It includes interviews of key figures conducted by Oliver Stone.

To summarize the key points will just sound like lunacy to U.S. media consumers, though a bit of reading or watching this film might help persuade many.

The United States promoted two color revolutions in Ukraine several years apart, taking the side of neo-Nazis, installing handpicked leaders in Kiev and even a former coup leader from Georgia in Odessa. Russia did not invade Ukraine. Just as Russia did not hack the German or U.S. elections. The evidence also suggests that Russia was probably not involved in shooting down that Malaysian airplane, that Ukrainian nationalists did that.

As Russia is being demonized in a new way every week in Washington, knowing truth from lies on Ukraine may be critically important and could just save us. I hope somebody makes a way for you to see this movie.

Focus: Syria and Turkey - Feb 18, 2017


US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces inch closer to IS ‘capital’ Raqqa - AP


Syrian Democratic Forces liberate villages in the Raqqa campaign - ANHA


Syrian Democratic Forces liberate two more Raqqa villages from IS - milletpress.com


Syrian Democratic Forces liberate prison on the outskirts of Raqqa city - almasdarnews.com


Islamic State fortifies Raqqa with barricades, landmines, booby-trapped explosives and suicide bombers - alaraby.co.uk


Islamic State 'bureaucrats' fleeing Raqqa stronghold in Syria - Reuters


Russian strategic bombers hit ISIS in Raqqa in coordination with Pentagon via ‘deconfliction line’ (VIDEO) - RT News


Syrian Kurds will fight Turkish forces if they advance towards Raqqa: Kurdish leader - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Kurds pledge to fight Turkey to retain Syria's Manbij - Al Jazeera


SDF Commander: We promise our people to liberate Raqqa very soon - anfenglish.com


Coalition general says SDF forces most likely to take Raqqa from ISIS, not Turkey - ARA News


Next phase of SDF Raqqa operation sees alliance with Deir Ezzor Military Council - Rudaw


Wrath of Euphrates campaign statement on the Raqqa - Deir Ezzor connection - ypgrojava.org


US Airforce propels the Syrian Democratic Forces to capture three villages from ISIS in the northern Deir Ezzor countryside - almasdarnews.com


Kurdish forces overrun two more ISIS-held villages north of Deir Ezzor - almasdarnews.com


Kurds call on Russia to defend Syria's federalization on international level - Sputnik


Russia pushes hard to include Syria’s Kurds in Geneva talks - Rudaw


After a month of military operations, regime forces advance over IS in 50 areas - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

 

Syrian Coalition spokeperson: Assad cannot have a role in Syria, Geneva talks should discuss political transition - etilaf.org


Isis’ ‘business model’ failing as group haemorrhages millions while losing territory across Syria and Iraq: Report - The Independent


ICSR/EY Report key findings: "Caliphate in Decline: An Estimate of Islamic State’s Financial Fortunes" - ICSR


REPORT: "Caliphate in Decline: An Estimate of Islamic State’s Financial Fortunes" - ICSR


------------------------------------------------------------

 

Turkey sets out Raqqa operation plans to U.S.: report - Reuters


Turkish PM: If the Trump administration opts for the YPG and PYD in the Raqqa operation 'there will be serious problems in relations with the U.S.' - Hurriyet


Turkey threatens to move on Kurdish-held stronghold Manbij in Syria - Middle East Monitor


Erdogan interview: We will eradicate terrorism with GCC support - Saudi Gazette


Turkey says almost taken Syria's Bab, war monitor says the jihadists still control 90 percent of the town and that shelling and air strikes killed dozens of civilians - Reuters

 

Turkish forces lose ground as ISIL's mounts counter-offensive in Al-Bab - almasdarnews.com


Syria government and monitoring group blast Turkey over civilian deaths - The Washington Post


Casualties by the Turkish forces in al-Bab city - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights


Syria calls on Turkey to withdraw troops from Syria, close border - CCTV News

 

No breakthroughs at second round of Syrian peace talks in Astana - rferl.org


Trump: Gulf states will pay for safe zones in Syria - The Daily Caller

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters

Those of us who consider it disgraceful to have a giant statue of Robert E. Lee on his horse in a park in the middle of Charlottesville, and another of Stonewall Jackson for that matter, should try to understand those who think removing one of these statues is an outrage.

I don't claim to understand them, and certainly don't suggest they all think alike. But there are certain recurring themes if you listen to or read the words of those who think Lee should stay. They're worth listening to. They're human. They mean well. They're not crazy.

First, let's set aside the arguments we're not trying to understand.

Some of the arguments being passed around are not central to this attempt at understanding the other side. For example, the argument that moving the statue costs money, is not what I'm interested in here. I don't think cost concerns are driving most of the support for the statue. If we all agreed that removing the statue was important, we would find the money. Simply donating the statue to a museum or to some city where Lee actually lived would quite possibly produce a new owner willing to pay for the transport. Heck, donate it to the Trump Winery and they'd probably pick it up by next Thursday.[1]

True, if the statue is simply moved to a different Charlottesville park, Charlottesville will have to pay, and that money could have gone to creating a new park with monuments to peace and civil rights, etc. Perhaps there are  people for whom this really is the central argument. Perhaps they are also consistent in their frugality and put up the same struggle against billion dollar highways and trillion dollar militaries. Perhaps the announcements of how much good could be done for the poor with the money that could be spent to move a statue are being made by some people with a history of caring about the poor. We'll save trying to understand them for another time.

Also tangential here is the argument that removing a statue erases history. Surely few of these history fanatics protested when the U.S. military tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Wasn't he part of Iraqi history? Hadn't the CIA meant well and gone to great efforts in helping to put him in power? Hadn't a company in Virginia provided him with important materials for making chemical weapons? Good or bad, history shouldn't be torn down and erased!

Actually, nobody's saying that. Nobody's valuing any and all history. Few are admitting that ugly parts of history are history at all. People are valuing a particular bit of history. The question is: why? Surely history supporters don't believe that the 99.9% of Charlottesville history not represented in monumental statuary has been erased. Why must this bit of history be monumental?

There may be those whose historical concern is simply for the past 90 years or so of the statue being there in the park. Its existence there is the history they are concerned about, perhaps. Perhaps they don't want it changed simply because that's the way it's been. I have some sympathy for that perspective, but it has to be applied selectively. Should we keep a half-built frame of a hotel on the downtown mall because my kids have never known anything else? Was history destroyed by creating the downtown mall in the first place? What I'm interested in trying to understand is not why people want nothing to change. Nobody wants nothing to change. Rather, I want to understand why they don't want this particular thing to change.

Focus: Russia and NATO - Feb 16, 2016

 

Putin accuses NATO of trying to embroil Russia in confrontation  - TASS


Putin pledges to strengthen Russia’s Federal Security Service - TASS


Putin: 'Ukraine government is clearly not ready for a peaceful solution...openly speak about organization of sabotage and terrorism' - Donbass International


Putin urges 'restoring dialogue' between Russia, US intel - AFP


VIDEO: Putin urges 'restoring dialogue' between Russia, US intel - YouTube


VIDEO: Vladimir Putin’s full statement at the annual meeting of the FSB - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin’s full statement at the annual meeting of the FSB - President of Russia


Moscow vows to take measures in response to NATO buildup in Black Sea - Sputnik


Russia may lose interest in dialogue with NATO if it yields no results: NATO envoy - APA


Russia demands Pentagon explanation of Mattis’s ‘position of strength' comments - newsweek.com

 

Out of question: 'Crimea cannot be subject of bargaining between Russia and US': Official - Sputnik


POLL: Over 80% of Russians have positive attitude toward President Putin - Sputnik


Kremlin aide says no agreement yet on Putin-Trump meeting: Ifax - Reuters


Russian fighter jets 'buzz' US warship in Black Sea, photos show - CNN.com


Russia shows off menacing amphibious vehicle after NATO deploys troops - Express.co.uk


The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was followed by more than 50 NATO ships on its way to Syria and back - Sputnik


Russia deploys cruise missile in violation of arms treaty: report - TheHill


Russian spy ship now off Virginia coast - ABC News


---------------------------------------------------

 

Defense ministers at NATO meeting pledge to counter Russia, sign letters of intent spurring additional actions - ibtimes.com


NATO European allies to jointly buy planes, set up new elite HQ - US News


NATO to boost naval presence in Black Sea - Yahoo News


VIDEO: NATO Secretary General, Press Conference at Meetings of Defence Ministers - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: NATO Secretary General, Press Conference at Meetings of Defence Ministers - NATO


NATO Secretary General: alliance remains committed to Georgia - Agenda.ge


Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of Defence Ministers - NATO


NATO to stay "strongly committed" to Ukraine: Stoltenberg - Unian


Stoltenberg unfazed by poll showing waning Ukrainian support for NATO - KyivPost


Ukraine turns a blind eye to ultrarightist militia - The Washington Post


Ukraine publishers speak out against ban on Russian books - The Guardian


500 US troops arrive in Romanian Black Sea port to bolster defense - AP


Ships from 4 NATO countries conduct naval drills in Black Sea - RT News


Get Ready, Russia: Britain is sending warships to the Black Sea - The National Interest Blog

 

NATO ships merge into group to exercise anti-submarine tasks amid drills in the Black Sea - Sputnik

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

Trump warns of the dangers of a “nuclear holocaust” while addressing the need for a positive relationship with Russia - POLITICO


VIDEO: Trump raises spectre of 'nuclear holocaust' amid questioning over Russia - YouTube


Mattis tells NATO: 'We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level (with Russia.) But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground' - UPI.com


Mattis rejects Putin’s proposal to share intelligence - New York Post


Trump’s retreat from realism accelerates: The case of Crimea - Cato @ Liberty


An open letter to Trump and Putin: The world needs Nuclear Zero - TheHill


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Donald Trump, a One-Man 9/11?

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?

For the past decade, the standard procedure for big coalition rallies and marches in Washington D.C. has been to gather together organizations representing labor, the environment, women's rights, anti-racism, anti-bigotry of all sorts, and a wide array of liberal causes, including demands to fund this, that, and the other, and to halt the concentration of wealth.

At that point, some of us in the peace movement will generally begin lobbying the PEP (progressive except for peace) organizers to notice that the military is swallowing up enough money every month to fund all their wishes 100 times over for a year, that the biggest destroyer of the natural environment is the military, that war fuels and is fueled by racism while stripping our rights and militarizing our police and creating refugees.

When we give up on trying to explain the relevance of our society's biggest project to the work of reforming our society, we generally point out that peace is popular, that it adds a mere 5 characters to a thousand-word laundry list of causes, and that we can mobilize peace groups to take part if peace is included.

Focus: Syria - Feb 15, 2017


Pentagon might propose sending ground troops to Syria - CNNPolitics.com


VIDEO: Pentagon considering proposing troops in Syria - CNN Video


The United States confirms use of depleted uranium in Syria, the toxic material has been accused of causing cancer and birth defects - Foreign Policy


Tillerson, Dunford to meet with Russian counterpart - KBZK.com


Russian top diplomat says broad anti-terrorist front forming in Syria - TASS


Anti-Assad states to meet amid concerns over US policy on Syria - The Guardian


Stoltenberg rules out NATO's involvement in combat operations against IS in Syria - TASS


Turkish FM rules out engaging with Assad for solution to the conflict, defends Ankara's calls for safe zones in Syria - qatar-tribune.com


The positions of Saudi Arabia and Turkey are “absolutely identical” on Syria: Saudi foreign minister - Middle East Monitor


Qatar's ties with Turkey at new heights - The Peninsula Qatar


Syria talks in Kazakh capital Astana delayed, delegations downgraded - Reuters


Cease-fire brokered by Turkey and Russia frays in Syria’s south as rebels launch new offensive in Daraa - The Washington Post


Russian strikes target rebels at southern Syria border crossing, moderate Islamists and al-Qaeda fighters cooperate in attempt to expand into Daraa - Antiwar.com


The truce of the Caesar (Putin) and Sultan (Erdogan) ends the 46 day with growing breaches within the ceasefire areas - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights


Prominent FSA rebel spokesman assassinated in Daraa province, he was scheduled to attend the Syria peace talks in Astana - almasdarnews.com


ISIS fights back in al-Bab against Syria regime troops and Turkish-led forces - ARA News


The Syria regime forces are about 5 km northwest of Deir Hafer town after controlling 9 villages in the road between it and al-Bab area - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights


Contrary to Turkish optimism, an arduous battle against a ‘dug-in’ Islamic State in al-Bab - Syria Direct


Jordan commander: IS expands hold in border camp for Syrians - AP

 

Ahrar al-Sham claims 955 of its members defected during infighting w. AQ/JFS in Syria - Charles Lister on Twitter


Hizbollah boosted by battleground successes in Syria conflict - FT.com


Libyan National Army troops may be trained in Syria by Russia - Stratfor


U.N. warns of catastrophic dam failure in Syria battle - Reuters


--------------------------------------------------------

 

Syrian Kurdish groups expect U.S. support, will fight any Turkish advance - Reuters


Turkey unwelcome: Syrian Kurds ready to defend territories liberated from Daesh, including the city of Manbij - Sputnik


Syrian Kurds want Turkish 'occupants' to stay away from liberating Raqqa - ekurd


Turkey warns US defense secretary over PKK/PYD in Syria - aa.com


YPG entrance into Raqqa a threat against Turkey’s security: deputy PM - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Turkish soldiers, Syrian Kurds exchange fire as Islamic State battle rages on - Breitbart


Uninvited Syrian PYD Kurds 'not expecting much' from Astana talks, not to recognize unattended conferences’ decisions - ekurd


Syrian PYD Kurds reportedly not invited to Geneva IV peace talks: PYD chief Muslim - ekurd


Asya Abdullah: We will not recognise a Syrian constitution drafted without Kurds - Kom News


Interview with co-chair of Syria Democratic Council Ilham Ahmad - ekurd


Any Syria settlement meetings excluding Kurds doomed to fail: Turkish HDP Party - Sputnik


Pan-Kurdish conference takes place in Russia - ekurd


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

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