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Meet The Kagans: Seeking War To The End Of The World
July 26, 2015
If the neoconservatives have their way again, US ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the US military will take out Syria's secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the US Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.
Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east, and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial "regime change" abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.
Much of this "strategy" is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year's coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.
Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration's brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post's neocon-dominated opinion pages.
On Friday, Kagan's column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama's Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.
Kagan also showed how the neocons' world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.
For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush's neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as "Al Qaeda in Iraq" blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.
But Kagan doesn't acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.
But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington:
Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.The Real Hegemon
It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.
While ranting about "Iranian hegemony," Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the US military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran's and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.
Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued:
Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using US air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.In Kagan's call for war and more war, we're seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.
In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater US military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.
And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in US defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?
Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in US foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.
But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about "Iranian hegemony." That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rhetoric before the US Congress on March 3 about Iran "gobbling up" nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.
For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the US military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State's dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.
Back to Iraq
However, leaving aside Kagan's delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he's proposing. He wants to return a sizable US occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the US soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II.
But that's not enough. Kagan wants the US military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda's Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria's Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale US invasion and occupation of Syria, too.
That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollars more into the military–industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan's new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn't satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront "growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran."
In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk: "So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge."
While it's true that Kagan is now "just" a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, "nothing goes out of the house that I don't think is worthy of his talents. Let's put it that way." [See "Obama's True Foreign Policy 'Weakness.'"]
But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming "star" at the State Department. By organizing the "regime change" in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.
Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get "credit" for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that's where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.
A Family Business
There's also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.
For instance, Robert's brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military–Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
According to ISW's annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA's venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to US military intelligence in Afghanistan.
Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded US forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See "Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War."]
So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.
And, it doesn't hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.
This bio appeared
Dr. Kimberly Kagan
Kimberly Kagan is the founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. She is a military historian who has taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Yale, Georgetown, and American University. She is the author of The Eye of Command (2006) and The Surge: a Military History (2009), and editor of The Imperial Moment (2010). Dr. Kagan has published numerous essays in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post ("The Fall of Ramadi was Avoidable"), Los Angeles Times, Weekly Standard, and Foreign Policy. She co-produced The Surge: The Whole Story, an hour-long oral history and documentary film on the campaign in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.
Dr. Kagan served in Kabul for seventeen months from 2010 to 2012 working for commanders of the International Security Assistance Force, General David H. Petraeus and subsequently General John Allen. Admiral Mike Mullen, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognized Dr. Kagan for this deployment as a volunteer with the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the Chairman can present to civilians who do not work for the Department of Defense.
Dr. Kagan previously served as a member of General Stanley McChrystal's strategic assessment team, comprised of civilian experts, during his campaign review in June and July 2009. Dr. Kagan also served on the Academic Advisory Board at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at CENTCOM. She conducted many regular battlefield circulations of Iraq between May 2007 and April 2010 while General Petraeus and General Raymond T. Odierno served as the MNF-I Commanding General. She participated formally on the Joint Campaign Plan Assessment Team for Multi-National Force-Iraq - U.S. Mission- Iraq in October 2008 and October 2009, and as part of the Civilian Advisory Team for the CENTCOM strategic review in January 2009.
Dr. Kagan held an Olin Postdoctoral Fellowship in Military History at Yale International Security Studies in 2004 to 2005 and was a National Security Fellow at Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies in 2002 to 2003. She received a B.A. in Classical Civilization and a Ph.D. in History from Yale University. [AD note: In 2001, the Olin Foundation gave $20,482,961 to fund various right-wing think tanks including the Brookings Institute and American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The Olin Corporation achieved its wealth in the field of arms and ammunition manufacturing and design.]
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Allen-Erdogan Safe Zone / No Fly Coup Confirmed as ISIS Czar's Treachery During Obama's Absence in Africa; White House Fights Back with Appointment of Ratney, Slated to Function as Obama's Anti-Allen; Erdogan Steers Towards Dictatorship and Civil War with Kurds; Robin Wright Plan Cited as Putschist Program; Megalomania Rampant in Ankara
July 29, 2015
[AD note: General Allen receives his marching orders from Neocon think tanks including the Brookings Institute. His ideas are not his ideas concerning Syria. Military leaders don't derive geopolitical strategy, they instead carry it out. The Kagan clan including Robert Kagan dominate the Brookings Institute. Their interests are with the preservation and protection of Israel at all costs and not America's interests.]
In response to the widespread diffusion of this analysis overnight, we have received the following confirmation from a well-informed and highly reliable Middle East source:
Your information fits together with what I have learned. On Friday, Obama called Erdogan and threatened to kick Turkey out of NATO if the Turkish president were to refuse to (1) immediately abandon his natural gas pipeline contract with Russia (South Stream or Turkish Stream) and (2) immediately stop supporting ISIS. Obama then embarked on his visit to Africa.In the afternoon of Monday, July 27, the State Department did indeed announce the Ratney appointment, which was soon reported by the wire services:
Allen then conspired with Erdogan to create the no-fly zones and to carry out the bombing operation against the PKK [Turkish Workers Party armed militants in northern Iraq]. These two objectives aim at implementing the Robin Wright plan (a Kurdistan state in Iraq and in Syria, but not in Turkey, plus a Sunnistan with Daesh (ISIS, Caliphate) in Iraq and Syria, while also sabotaging the US-Iran nuclear accord.
Obama responded by repudiating Allen and by appointing Michael Ratney as his special envoy for Syria.
Washington (AFP) – The United States named a new special envoy to Syria on Monday, the third since the war began four years ago, as Washington seeks a political solution to the conflict.Ratney will have to run a very energetic and no holds barred campaign if he wants to stop the subversive intrigues of Isis Czar Allen, a leading member of the Petraeus cabal of disgruntled and insubordinate officers, with Petraeus enjoying the support of Wall Street mogul Henry Kravis and his multibillion-dollar fortune. Obama would be very well advised to fire Allen on the spot for acting as an agent of foreign powers – in this case, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim Brotherhood. [AD note: See video at the end of this post.]
Michael Ratney, an Arabic speaker who served as US consul general in Jerusalem, and as a diplomat in Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Qatar, replaces Daniel Rubinstein.
As for Erdogan, he is now in the manic phase of a berserk rampage. He has announced that a peace process with the PKK Kurds will henceforth be impossible. Erdogan is also demanding that his regime acquire the capability of jailing members of the parliamentary opposition, despite the fact that the Turkish Constitution expressly provides ironclad immunity for these elected officials. Erdogan is of course reacting to the landmark success of the ethnic Kurdish party HDP in the elections last spring. The HDP got 13% of the votes and 80 of 550 seats in the Turkish parliament. The overall result of this election deprived the Erdogan-Davutoglu party of the seats needed to unilaterally dictate changes in the Constitution, a process which Erdogan wanted to use to concentrate virtually total power in his own hands.
What will become of the pro-democracy demagogy which is the hallmark of NATO if Turkey, one of the leading members of the Atlantic Alliance, starts jailing members of the opposition on orders from the dictator Erdogan, who may be hoping one day to reign as caliph himself?
Knowledgeable observers have pointed out that Kurds make up between 18% and 20%, and perhaps even more, of the Turkish population of about 74 million. The Kurds are heavily concentrated in the southeast of the country. It is no exaggeration to say that Erdogan's neo-Ottoman chimera is generating the very real threat of civil war. Civil war in Turkey would have the most devastating regional and global consequences. Erdogan must either be neutralized or ousted.
Over time, Iraq's Sunni minority — notably in western Anbar Province, site of anti-government protests — may feel more commonality with eastern Syria's Sunni majority. Tribal ties and smuggling span the border. Together, they could form a de facto or formal Sunnistan. Iraq's south would effectively become Shiitestan [sic], although separation is not likely to be that neat. The dominant political parties in the two Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq have longstanding differences, but when the border opened in August, more than 50,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, creating new cross-border communities. (Robin Wright, "Imagining a Remapped Middle East," New York Times, Sepember 28, 2013)At Tuesday's emergency NATO meeting, Erdogan's top sidekick Davutoglu pontificated that Turkey considers ISIS and the Kurds as the same thing – a manifest absurdity. He then demanded that all the NATO allies provide enthusiastic support for his government's policy, which amounts to building ISIS up and attempting to push these crazies, like a cloud of locusts, towards Iran and the Russian Caucasus.
The impudence, arrogance, and megalomania of the Turkish ruling clique know no limits. It is time for the rug to be pulled out from under these turbulent and demented figures.
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US lawmakers to meet Netanyahu in Israel over Iran agreement
Jul 29, 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the US Capitol, March 3, 2015, in Washington, DC.
More than 40 US lawmakers are scheduled to travel to Israel next month to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before they vote in Congress on the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Congress has until September 17 to review and vote either to reject or approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran, the US and the five world powers on July 14 in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
According to the text of the agreement, Iran will be recognized by the United Nations as a nuclear power and will continue its uranium enrichment program.
The trips to Israel – one with Democrats, the other with Republicans – which occur every two years, are organized and funded by the American Israel Education Foundation.
The foundation is an educational nonprofit affiliated with the Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIPAC-linked foundation has spent more than $9.4 million on congressional travels during the past 14 years.
House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer will take part in the Democratic trip, which kicks off on August 3. The Republicans' visit will begin on August 8.
"We'll meet with Mr. Netanyahu, [and] I'm sure he will repeat his very deep concerns and the dangers he believes that the deal presents to Israel," Hoyer told the Hill. "We will speak to people in Israel who do not share his view."
Netanyahu is expected to make his case directly to lawmakers.
The lawmakers will also meet with other high-ranking officials, as well as US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
Most Republicans oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran, but they need a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress to override a presidential veto and to reach that threshold, Republicans need Democrats' support.
In remarks before the Council on Foreign Relations on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that if Congress rejects the Iran agreement, the world would hold Israel responsible because of its extensive campaign against it.
US President Barack Obama has also vowed to veto any congressional resolution seeking to reject the agreement.
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