Category: Afghanistan
What We’ve Learned 100 Days In: The Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem

AS BAD AS WE THOUGHT

What We’ve Learned 100 Days In: The Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem

The narcissism and paranoia are issues, but the biggest concern is that Donald Trump trusts no one. This will be his downfall—or maybe ours.
Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy

04.28.17 12:10 PM ET

In a world spinning radically out of control, can we trust President Trump to rely on his famous “instincts” as he plays brinksmanship with North Korea?

How much closer does the day of reckoning have to come on charges of collusion with Russia before he needs a war to provide the ultimate distraction?

The fundamental bedrock of human development is the formation of a capacity to trust, absorbed by children between birth and 18 months. Donald Trump has boasted of his total lack of trust: “People are too trusting. I’m a very untrusting guy.” (1990) “Hire the best people, and don’t trust them.” (2007) “The world is a vicious and brutal place. Even your friends are out to get you: they want your job, your money, your wife.” (2007)

His biographers have recorded his world view as saturated with a sense of danger and his need to project total toughness. As we know, his father trained him to be a “killer,” the only alternative to being a “loser.” He has never forgotten the primary lesson he learned from his father and at the military school to which he was sent to toughen him up still further. In Trump’s own words:  “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.”

Trump described to Michael D’Antonio in his biography, Never Enough, his father “dragging him” around tough neighborhoods in Brooklyn when he collected rents. He always told the boy to stand to one side of the door. Donald asked why: “Because sometimes they shoot right through the door.”

Today, this man lives alone in the White House, without a wife or any friends in whom to confide, which he would never do anyway because that would require admitting vulnerability.

Leon Panetta, former CIA director and Defense chief under Clinton, stated on Fox Business Channel in February 2017: “The coin of the realm for any president is trust–trust of the American people in the credibility of that president.” In the nearly two years that Donald Trump has been in our face almost daily, he has sown mistrust in all of his Republican rivals, alienated the conservative Republican bloc he needs in the House for legislative success, ignored congressional Democrats, and viciously insulted Democratic leaders, calling them liars, clowns, stupid, and incompetent, and condemning Barack Obama as “sick” and Hillary Clinton as “the devil.” When he picks up the phone to speak to leaders of our closest allies, like Australia, he rips apart the comity built over decades. But he never hesitates to congratulate despots, like Turkey’s Erdogan, Egypt’s General Sisi, or Russia’s Putin.

As President, he is systematically shredding trust in the institutions he now commands. Having discredited the entire 17-agency intelligence community as acting like Nazis, he also dismissed the judiciary because of one judge’s Hispanic background and another’s opposition to his travel ban. Even his Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, said it was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to hear Trump disparage the judiciary. Not content to smear the media on a daily basis, Trump borrowed a phrase used by Lenin and Stalin to brand the media as “enemy of the people.”

By his own words, Trump operates on the assumption that everyone is out to get him. The non-medical definition of paranoia is the tendency toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others. As a man who proclaims his distrust of everyone, it is not surprising that Trump drew closest to him two legendary conspiracy theorists—Stephen Bannon and Gen. Michael Flynn.

And even after he was forced to fire his choice as his top national security advisor after Flynn blatantly lied, Trump’s White House is desperately stonewalling congressional investigators to keep them from getting their hands on documents that may prove Flynn’s paid collusion with Russia on Trump’s behalf. The closer that case comes to a criminal referral to the Justice Department, the closer Trump’s survival instincts will propel him to a wag-the-dog war.

A leader who does not trust his subordinates cannot inspire trust. Though Trump boasts of fierce personal loyalty, he himself is loyal only until he isn’t. Among his anxious aides, only Jared Kushner is safe, deputized as the Trump’s de facto Secretary of State.  Where he succeeds in inspiring trust is by giving his subordinates the courage to lie. The virus of licentiousness has spread from the White House to congressional Republicans, to wit the stunt that exposed Rep. Devin Nunes as unfit to lead the House Intelligence Committee probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

We hear repeatedly that Trump as a manager likes chaos. I asked a deputy White House counsel under Obama, Mike Breen, a decorated former officer in Iraq and expert on foreign policy at the Truman National Security Project, how that style impacts trust. “Trump explicitly or implicitly manages the situation so it’s never possible for his advisers to know where they stand,” Breen says. “It’s the opposite of what you want in a high-functioning organization. “ Trump’s anxious aides must know just how easy it is to fail his loyalty test, or to be the fall guy if a scapegoat is needed. While publicly they may defend him, it is clear to reporters that White House staffers are leaking and leaking constantly. The leaks can only exacerbate Trump’s mistrust, perpetuating a vicious circle.

His failure to trust and to inspire trust is even more dangerous on a global scale. He sees alliances like NATO as suspicious (until he changes his mind); he sees trade agreements like NAFTA as ripping off America (until he changes his mind three or four times in the same week). “This is because Trump’s worldview is that we live in a snake pit where everybody is out for themselves,” observes Breen. He and his co-conspiracy advisor, Bannon, take everything that the left-behind white working class hates about globalization and they turn it into personalized enemies–Muslims, Mexicans, refugees they believe are taking away their jobs. “Those people aren’t like us,” is the alt.right message, “they’re polluting our culture.”

Back as far at August 2016, 50 senior national security officials who have advised Republican presidents during wartime issued a letter starkly rejecting candidate Trump: “We are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being. “ They excoriated him as lacking in character and values as well as basic knowledge. What is stunning is the precision of their foresight. They predicted that Trump, “lacking belief in the U.S. Constitution,” would compromise our most precious institutions including “religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

In the course of his first hundred days, Trump has appeared to be increasingly out of touch with the reality in which the majority of us live. His pathological propensity to lying is not the worst of it. It’s his monomaniacal attachment to lies as transparent as his March 4 twitterstorm accusing President Obama of putting a tap on his phone. It raises the question, is this president floating in his own alternative reality?

We asked Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, the eminent former professor of psychiatry at Yale University and today at Columbia University: Is Trump an abnormal personality? “Trump creates his own extreme manipulation of reality,” he says. “He insists that his spokesmen defend his false reality as normal. He then expects the rest of society to accept it — despite the lack of any evidence.” This leads to what Lifton calls “malignant normalcy”—in other words, the gradual acceptance by a public inundated with toxic untruths until they pass for normal.

Dr. James F. Gilligan is a psychiatrist and author who has studied the motivations behind violent behavior over his 25 years of work in the American prison systems. “If we psychiatrists who have experience in assessing dangerousness, if we give passive permission to our president to proceed in his delusions, we are shirking our responsibility,” Gilligan says. Today a senior clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical School, Gilligan last week told a town hall meeting at Yale, “ I don’t say Trump is Hitler or Musolinni, but he’s no more normal than Hitler.”

 We don’t have to rely on psychiatrists to see that this president is not consistent in his thinking or reliably attached to reality. We have had vastly more exposure to Donald Trump’s observable behavior, his writing and speaking, than any shrink would have after listening to him for years. So it is up to us, the American public, to call him on it. And some of the most experienced hands in and around the White House are doing so.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley believes that Donald Trump represents a very different subculture from any commander in chief. “He represents the New York building business — where you don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing,” says Brinkley. “In Trump’s world, he must win at all costs. It’s not about character or public service or looking out for your band of brothers.”

The president to whom Trump is most often compared is Richard Nixon. John Dean, the famous White House counsel who testified against his fellow conservative Republican, compared Trump to another notably paranoid president. “Nixon was two personae – in public, he would score passably on the manual’s leadership checklist: he trusted his top aides, Haldeman and Erlichman, and was trusted by his cabinet,” says Dean. “But in private, his deeply paranoid and vengeful dark side came out.”

Asked for the best example, Dean snapped, “He had zero empathy!” Just like Trump. “Nixon let 22,000 more Americans die in Vietnam [after he sabotaged the 1968 Paris Peace Talks], plus who knows how many Cambodians and Laotians and Vietnamese, all to ensure his election.” It took 40 years before Nixon’s worst crime was revealed—treason. That war president was heard on Lyndon Johnson’s tapes scuttling the Vietnam peace talks to derail the reelection campaign of the Democratic candidate. He sent a message to the South Vietnamese negotiators that they should withdraw from the peace talks and wait for Nixon to be elected, who would give them a much better deal.

Sound familiar? Fifty years later, Donald Trump’s go-between with Russian officials, Gen. Flynn, hinted to Putin’s ambassador that Russia could get a much better deal if it didn’t retaliate against Obama’s sanctions and sat tight until Trump was elected. And Trump frequently tweeted about his eagerness to lift those sanctions – until his fantasy bromance with Putin came under federal investigation. Trump’s appetite for vengeance is also matched by Nixon’s with his long “enemies list.” No two modern presidents have had a more serious case of “political hemophilia,” in the phrase of the latest Nixon biographer, John Farrell, by which he means: “Once wounded, these men never stop bleeding.”

To the dismay of even conservative observers, Trump appears totally indifferent to the truth. A Wall Street Journal editorial from March 21 denounced the damage done by “his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods,” concluding, “if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.” But merely repeating a malignant lie often enough—for five years in the case of his birther smear against the first black president—it sticks with his supporters despite proof to the contrary.

Time magazine gave Trump an opportunity to clarify his refusal to correct the long string of his falsehoods. What the March 23 interview produced instead was an astonishing revelation of the president’s thinking: He states what he wants to be true. If his statement is proven false, he is unfazed and confidently predicts that the facts will catch up with his belief: “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.” Even when the top sleuth in the country condemns him as a fabulist, Trump ignores the public rebuke by FBI director James Comey, and brags about his ability to persuade millions that his version of events is the real truth.

“Narcissistic people like Trump want more than anything to love themselves, but desperately want others to love them, too,” wrote professor and chair of the Psychology Department at Northwestern University, Dan P. McAdams, in The Atlantic. “The fundamental goal in life for a narcissist is to promote the greatness of the self, for all to see.”

But what is an extreme narcissistic personality like Trump to do when he fails to win glorification for his first hundred days in office? Trump, from his own writings, has shown massive hypersensitivity to shame or humiliation, “ says Dr. Gilligan, of the NYU Medical School. “Anybody who criticizes him will get a 3 am tweet.” What happens if Trump feels humiliated by being pronounced a “loser” in politics? Does he give in to his “right instincts” and fire off an incendiary tweet to the nuclear-obsessed leader in Pyongyang? Most world leaders have agreed with former South Korean President Park, who last year pronounced Kim Jong-un’s mental state as “uncontrollable.”

As Dr. Gilligan warns, “There is no evidence of sensitivity in Trump’s awareness of other people’s vulnerability.  I think everyone is in danger from this most dangerous of presidents.” When narcissists begin to disappoint those whom they once dazzled, their descent can be especially precipitous. As the biblical book of Proverbs warns: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

Beneath the grandiose behavior of every narcissist lies the pit of fragile self-esteem. What if, deep down, the person Trump trusts least is himself? The humiliation of being widely exposed as a “loser” –unable to bully through the actions he promised to accomplish in his first 100 days—could drive him to prove he is, after all, a “killer.” He has already teed up three choices for starting a war: Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea. It is up to Congress, backed up by the public, to restrain him.

After Dropping MOAB on Afghanistan, Trump May Be Considering Escalation
US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One upon his return to the White House in Washington, US, April 9, 2017.

After Dropping MOAB on Afghanistan, Trump May Be Considering Escalation

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On Monday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, not long after President Donald Trump dropped the “Mother of all bombs” on Taliban targets in the country.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, about Washington’s presence in Afghanistan and whether the Trump administration may be considering a fresh surge of troops in the country.

​Having just returned from Afghanistan, a country she’s visited 22 times since 2010, Kelly said it’s difficult to pin down what the White House may be planning, because “The Trump administration is very erratic and unpredictable, but it does seem that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in matters of foreign policy.”

She added, “Even a militarist who is convinced that war is the only answer to troubles might be given pause by the fact that the US in Afghanistan has not been able to oust or overcome or even significantly limit the Taliban. The Taliban has gained increasing power over the years while the United States has moved towards its 16th year being in war in Afghanistan.”

During his visit, Mattis said the US is “under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” and that “2017 is going to be another tough year for the valiant Afghan security forces and the international troops who have stood and continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan against terrorism.”

Kelly remarked, “I don’t know if it’s true to say the US military stands shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan military, which comparatively are extremely underprotected.”

She explained that one of the reasons why the extremists have been so successful is because they’re motivated by principle and religious zeal, while Afghan soldiers often join their country’s military as a means of survival.

Kelly noted that there have also been issues of corruption in the Afghan military, with one New York Times article positing that 1.45 million firearms have gone missing in the 15 years the US has been in Afghanistan, suggesting that the US is unwittingly arming militants. There have also been incidents of wages to being paid to soldiers that don’t exist, with corrupt officials pocketing the money.

Kelly said conditions are so dire that some Afghans sign up for the military just to receive a weapon so they could sell it.

“It isn’t that Afghan people are untrustworthy, it’s that they’re desperate … There’s so much hunger, near starvation, there’s so many people without any employment whatsoever because the country in these 16 years … has steadily declined in terms of the most basic evaluations of quality of life.”

Loud & Clear Host Brian Becker asked how the Afghan people feel after nearly 16 years of aggression from the US.

Kelly said that, while in Afghanistan, her hosts would ask her questions, like “‘Do parents in your country really think that by sending their sons over to risk their lives in Afghanistan they’re going to affect terrorism?’ because they know that the source of terror that Americans have been taught to fear certainly isn’t coming from Afghanistan. I think they know it’s foolhardy and futile for the US to prolong this war.”

The United States of… False Flags
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner in Washington, US, March 21, 2017.

The United States of… False Flags

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Finian Cunningham
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The United States government is the world leader in purveying false flags and propaganda stunts. Or, more generally, downright, systematic lies. To justify the outrageous violation of international law, wars and aggression.

Current president and Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is himself the object of fraudulent US intelligence, accused of “collusion with Russian agents.” In a rare admission, the Washington Times this week described the US intel dossier against Trump as “riddled with fiction.”Yet, ironically, Trump, in turn, serves as a shameless conduit for US propaganda to fuel conflict with Syria and North Korea.

In the latter case, a world war could break out at any moment as a result of insane American goading. The dispatch of a US nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula this week is just another reckless provocation by Trump.

On Syria, the Trump administration has slapped on more economic sanctions over an alleged chemical weapons incident earlier this month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the “sweeping sanctions” were because of “Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent men, women and children.”Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the latest US sanctions were “unfounded” since there is no proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Idlib Province on April 4.

Indeed, several respected international authorities, such as American professor Theodore Postol, a weapons expert at MIT, have dismissed official US claims about the chemical incident. The only “proof” provided by the US government and Western media are videos of alleged victims. That is, videos supplied by al Qaeda-linked terrorists and their media agents known as the White Helmets. This terror nexus is a creation of US, British and French military intelligence, financed with Saudi and Qatari money.

Thus, the April 4 chemical incident in Idlib was plausibly a “false flag” staged by Western-sponsored terrorist proxies to elicit American military attack on Syria. In other words, innocent people, including children, were murdered with lethal chemicals, and the whole macabre spectacle videoed for dissemination by the Western news media. It would not be the first time. The August 2013 “chemical weapons” incident near Damascus was probably also another macabre set-up by the terror groups.So, here we have an American president citing a false flag orchestrated by his own intelligence agencies to justify his subsequent order for a missile strike on Syria on April 7. And now we see the US government slapping punitive sanctions on Syria as a further warped response.

Of huge significance is the fact that the US, Britain and France have blocked Russian, Iranian and Syrian demands for an impartial on-site investigation to be carried out in the town of Khan Shaykhun where the chemical incident allegedly happened. As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, the Western powers do not want to find out what really happened because that would interfere with their agenda for regime change in Syria.By way of shoring up the false narrative on Syria, this week US media carried “reports” alleging that North Korea has been supplying the Syrian government with chemical weapons technology. As usual, no verifiable evidence is presented, just more bombastic assertions and concocted claims.

But we can see where this is going. US intelligence, mouthed by its president and controlled media, are laying down dots to entice the Western public to join up with false logic and prejudice, all so that the US authorities can give themselves a legal, moral mandate to justify aggression. Conveniently, the contrived North Korea-Syria connection allows for two birds to be hit with one stone.

US Interventions in World Politics: Infographic
© AFP 2017/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

The pattern of deception here by the US government, aided and abetted by propagandizing “news services,” is classic modus operandi. Time and again, down through history, the US ruling class have used false flags, distortion and outright lies to promote their hegemonic desires of inciting war, conflict and aggression.For a country like the United States, which has been waging war on other foreign nations for over 95 per cent of its history since its foundation as a modern state in 1776, it only stands to reason that such an astounding record of belligerence, decade-after-decade, must inevitably require a concomitant warmongering propaganda system in order to make it all possible.

We could mention, for example, the deliberate sinking of one of its own warships, the USS Maine, in Havana Harbor in 1898, which was used to instigate the Spanish-American War. That war was key to the US emerging as an imperial power in the Western Hemisphere.

The later sinking of the civilian passenger ship, the Lusitania, in 1915 off Ireland is another case of deliberate sabotage, to frame-up the Germans, which the US then used to launch itself into the First World War.More recently, the fabricated US claims of Afghanistan sheltering al-Qaeda terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were invoked to sell American wars of revenge for 9/11 terror attacks in New York, which were themselves most probably propaganda stunts staged by US intelligence.

Another flagrant case of US authorities mounting a false flag was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which served as a pretext for American escalation of the Vietnam War. In 1964, communist North Vietnam was framed up for allegedly firing on a US navy vessel. That incident allowed the US government to dispatch conventional armed forces to Vietnam. Some 50,000 US troops were killed in that 10-year war, as well as three million Vietnamese. The only beneficiaries were US corporations and the Pentagon war machine.

Of course, the US is not unique in using false pretexts to cover for acts of war and criminality. But there can be little doubt from any objective study of history that the US stands out – without any compare – as the biggest purveyor of false flags, lies and propaganda to promote its warmongering. Warmongering that has destroyed dozens of countries around the world and inflicted tens of millions of deaths.Today, we are on another cusp of US-led war. Syria has been set up with a brazen false flag over chemical weapons, which in all probability is a sickening charade by Western-sponsored terror groups.

Russia and Iran, by extension, are smeared as part of an “axis of evil” by the US propaganda system owing to their otherwise principled alliance with Syria to defeat Western-backed terrorist proxies.

Most alarming is the US false flag effort against North Korea. This small, independent nation, which is not at war with anybody, is, in fact, a victim of American aggression – an aggression involving the sailing of nuclear-powered submarines and warships to its coastal waters.And yet US President Trump, whose country has thousands of nuclear weapons enough to destroy the entire planet, is labeling North Korea as the “world’s number one threat.”

The United States is the most dangerous terrorist force on Earth, largely because it is run by rulers who forge lies all the time for waging wars and obliterating humans. The supposed Commander-in-Chief President Donald Trump is himself a target of US lies. Can you get any more deranged than that?

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Where Does Heroin in the US Come From?
Connecting the Pieces

Where Does Heroin in the US Come From?

Connecting The Pieces

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Jay Johnson
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While large-scale international war has yet to break out, seemingly enough, a domestic war is about to be re-kindled.

The old woman, who was living on social security, hit an unexpected rough patch when she found herself raising her grandchildren after her daughter died and her son became ill. After a while, she realized that this lifestyle was for the birds, so she thought long and hard about what she could do, and like most people these days, began digging among the boxes in her garage for stuff to sell online. Opening an old box, she hit the payload. Getting out a present given to her husband, she immediately began to feel better. Knowing who exactly would be interested in the trinket that could bring in a few needed dollars, she made a phone call, and that is where our story begins. The party that she contacted became interested in what she was selling and agreed to meet her at a local diner at a specific time.The woman went to the meeting and found the buyer in the parking lot. Upon identifying her, six heavily armed officers forcibly took the woman’s paper weight, which happened to be a moon rock the size of a piece of rice, from her by gunpoint. Upon seeing masked men covered in body armor with weapons drawn shouting at her and eventually forcing her to lie on the ground like a common criminal, understandably the old woman peed her pants. As it all went down, the lead officer shouted at her — “Where’s the rock? Where’s the rock? If you don’t tell me, you will go to Federal jail!” Because, that’s right — it is illegal to sell moon rocks and apparently NASA, the space agency, has a specialized team of highly trained commandos ready to stop anyone that tries, even silver-haired 75-year-old women.

This week has been awash in news of war, possible war, and even potential nuclear war. Even though the American people elected Donald Trump to be a president of peace, as opposed to Hillary Clinton, which more than likely would have been a hawkish president, war is what the American people, and the world for that matter, are getting, whether they want it or not. And while international war has yet to break out via false flags, outright provocations, tragic mistakes or even great misunderstandings, there is at least one domestic war that that is also seemingly about ready to kick-off.

Recently, the BBC wrote an article that was headlined — “Officers rue the return of US ‘war on drugs’. That’s right. The so-called war on drugs is back in vogue. The article continued — “Nearly half a century ago, Richard Nixon called for an “all-out offensive” on drug abuse. It was the opening salvo in America’s longest running war. Successive presidents took up the call to arms. Arrest rates soared and mandatory minimum sentences sent young men — particularly black men — away for long stretches for low-level offenses.” Some have even argued that the war on drugs was really a war on minorities, but that is a topic for another time.The article continued — “Then as violent crime rates fell under George W Bush and prisons became clogged, prosecutions eased. The war on drugs fell out of fashion. Barack Obama called it “unproductive” and sent memos guiding prosecutors away from pursuing low-level offenders. Now a new administration looks set to turn back the clock. Attorney General Jeff Sessions likes to reminisce about the aggressive law enforcement of the 80s and 90s and recently labeled cannabis “only slightly less awful” than heroin.”

And speaking of heroin, or hey-ron, as they also call it, Breitbart recently ran an article where — “US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has largely blamed Latin American drug cartels for the unprecedented 52,000-plus drug overdose deaths in America during 2015 alone, the latest year for which data is available.” That’s right. 52 thousand people died of drug overdoses in 2015. And that’s up from 2014, where 47 thousand people died from similar causes. In total, around 100 thousand people have died due to taking too many drugs, the great majority of them opioid related.

In fact, the Breitbart article noted that — “It’s the highest number of drug-related deaths (America) has ever seen. It’s more deaths than the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1995. In (2015), a single year, nearly as many Americans were lost to drug overdose … in 12 years in Vietnam.” But that’s not all — and here is where it gets interesting.In that article, “Kelly said that most of the heroin in the United States originates in Mexico.” Mexico! While “…the majority of heroin in neighboring Canada comes from Afghanistan”. That’s right. From half way around the world! In fact, a recent “DEA estimate suggests that only one percent of the Afghan-based drug makes it into the United States.” Which seems strange, right? Canada also shares a large unsecured border with America, but apparently, heroin only flows from countries with mostly brown people to countries with mostly white people. Fake news, much?

The Breitbart article addressed this issue when it wrote — “Not everyone agrees with the DEA’s assertion that most of the heroin in the US is cultivated in Mexico. Last year, an article published by the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), a patient advocacy group, criticized the former US administration and the mainstream media for misleading the American public about the influx of heroin from Afghanistan.” It continued — “In the report, a scientist and author of articles in scientific journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, noted: Heroin from Mexico cannot supply even 10% of US heroin demand. Yet the DEA claims most heroin in the US is from Mexico.” So, where does the rest come from? Could it be that very same Afghanistan that America has arguably occupied for more than 15 years now?So, what do you think dear listeners — “Where does heroin in the US come from?”

We’d love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

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Trump dumps campaign pledges, goes ballistic in Syria & Afghanistan

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/384881-trump-dumps-campaign-pledges/

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge, an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia, is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, released in 2013.
Trump dumps campaign pledges, goes ballistic in Syria & Afghanistan
Today, many erstwhile Trump supporters are suffering shell-shock after the Republican leader, who pledged like a populist on the campaign trail to scale back the US military’s overseas footprint, instead took US aggression to the next insane level.

In the dead heat of the 2016 Presidential Campaign, I, like millions of other Americans, were willing to overlook the seedier side of Donald “Grab them by the p*ssy” Trump because the Maverick of Manhattan had promised to sell us the one thing we all desperately craved: a healthy dose of sanity injected into US foreign policy. This would start the process, we fantasized, of rolling back US military adventures that the country can no longer afford both morally and physically. This was all part of Trump’s grand “America First” campaign, which appears to be heading to the trash pile of broken presidential mottos, alongside “Hope and Change” and “Mission Accomplished.”

On the other side of the stage was the Democratic darling, Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton, the very personification of ‘The Establishment’ and everything hideous it has come to symbolize, including a sycophantic media, a plundering military, and sell-out politicians who have no choice but to serve those corporate paymasters that expect kickbacks for all those massive campaign checks they wrote. Trump, although a product of the very “swamp” he promised to drain, seemed sincere about focusing on domestic issues as opposed to more foreign entanglements.

So, a second American Civil War, pitting Democrat against Republican down a cultural quakeline, erupted across the social media battlefields of Facebook and Twitter, with the remains of ‘unfriended’ collateral damage piling up high on both sides of the great divide.

Yet, as we learned soon enough, the squabbling was largely futile, because Trump has proven himself to be just as dangerous, and possibly even more so, than the ultra-hawkish Hillary. The main difference being that Trump essentially lied to his constituents in order to appease the US military and the media machine, which has been hounding him since he first entered office.

The Neocons get their Syrian attack

On April 4, Syrian President Bashar Assad was accused by Washington of launching a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Province, then under control of Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Al-Nusra Front). Voices of reason pointed out that Assad, who was winning handily against the rebels, would never have risked such a foolhardy move that guaranteed America’s jump into the fray. Nevertheless, Donald Trump proceeded to do the unthinkable, at least as far as his campaign rhetoric went. Two days after the attack, and without the luxury of an investigation, he unloaded 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase in Homs, thereby delivering a blow to the very forces fighting against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

This was behavior we had expected of Clinton, but never Trump, proving once again there is no real difference between the Democrats and Republicans – two heads of the same poisonous snake.

No matter how backwards or primitive a culture may be, the first thing that people demand is the establishment of guilt by due process. In fact, the democratic credentials of any nation are largely reflected by its dedication to the rule of law.

American exceptionalism, however, seems to have precluded such normal behavior. Washington has acquired such a level of national arrogance that any leader or country may be decreed guilty of any alleged crime merely because we say it is so. And anybody who dares question Caesar by requesting a formal investigation – as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard had the temerity to do – is branded a heretic and threatened with ostracism from the franchise.

Compare Gabbard’s common sense approach to the Syrian crisis to the way the US mainstream media salivated at the site of those Tomahawk missiles being launched into the night sky without rhyme or reason.

“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,” commented CNN host Fareed Zakaria, while never once questioning the legality of the attacks. “I think this was actually a big moment.”

Zakaria, mindlessly exemplifying everything that is wrong with the US media, sounded like a spokesman for Orwellian doublespeak when he said: “For the first time really as president, [Trump] talked about international norms, international rules, about America’s role in enforcing justice in the world.”

Welcome to the brave new world of Fareed Zakaria where cruise missiles attacks at the crack of dawn without Congressional support or formal investigations are consistent with “international norms, international rules… and justice in the world.”

But the media accolades did not stop there. Not by a long shot.

“On Syria attack, Trump’s heart came first,” beamed a New York Times headline.

“President Trump has done the right thing and I salute him for it,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, adding for good measure, “Now destroy the Assad regime for good.”

MSNBC’s Brian Williams actually used the word “beautiful” three times to describe the Tomahawk missile launch, while quoting a line from Leonard Cohen, “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.”

However, none of that can compare to Thomas Friedman, columnist with the New York Times, who actually shook the pompoms in support of – wait for it – Islamic State.

“We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations,” Friedman,  who should be summarily barred from journalism, ended this spell of dementia by saying: “Fine with me.”

So, with Donald Trump suddenly encouraged by this Hallmark factory’s worth of plaudits and applause from a giddy media, perhaps what came next should have come as no surprise.

Next stop: Afghanistan

In the very same week that the Trump administration attacked forces loyal to the Assad government, it dropped a 10-ton Massive Ordinance Air Blast (affectionately dubbed the ‘Mother of All Bombs’) in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.

According to the Pentagon, it targeted a network of caves and tunnels where Islamic State fighters were hiding.

The bomb – the most lethal weapon in the world short of nuclear warheads – has a reported blast radius of one mile in all directions, therefore it would be impossible to say with any certainty how many innocent people, if any, perished in the blast.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the use of the weapon on his country’s territory.

“This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as a testing ground for new and dangerous weapons,” he said in a tweet.

Can this madness get any more mad? Apparently, yes – just ask North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Poking Pyongyang

North Korea is exactly the sort of hornet’s nest that could tempt a guy like Donald Trump to do something utterly rash and insanely dangerous, like poking nuclear-armed Pyongyang with a stick just for kicks.

As US intelligence officials observe signs that North Korea may be about to test a nuclear device, NBC News said the US Navy has positioned two destroyers armed with – yes – Tomahawk cruise missiles, 480 kilometers from North Korea’s testing grounds.

The Trump administration said it may act preemptively if it becomes “convinced” that a nuclear detonation is imminent.

However, North Korea is not Syria, and it is certainly not Afghanistan. Pyongyang announced it won’t hesitate to go to war if provoked or faced with a pre-emptive strike from Washington.

“If the US comes with reckless military maneuvers, then we will confront it with the DPRK’s [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] pre-emptive strike,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told AP.

All of this amounts to the busiest and most worrisome week of Donald Trump’s brief presidency.

So, what in the world has come over the Trump administration? Did Donald Trump the businessman cut some kind of back-door deal with the ‘Deep State’ in return for an attack on Syria – something the neocons have been salivating over for years?

Although we will never know the full truth – barring a WikiLeaks’ revelation – the excitement that the attack aroused across the entire mainstream media was extremely odd, and especially telling, when we consider that up until the moment of the Syria attack, Trump could do absolutely nothing right. Yet the moment he unleashed cruise-missile hell on Assad’s forces, suddenly the entire media and a large part of the political establishment got behind him.

This suggests a conformity of mind and agenda that cannot be explained by mere coincidence. In fact, such conformity and outright complicity was also readily on display in the run-up to the Iraq War, in which the media failed to restrain the militaristic impulses of the state. In fact, it was happy to support the Bush administration in its mad rush to war. And exactly like the attack on Syria, it was the lonely voice in the wilderness that dared speak out against the media-induced Iraq War dance.

In a healthy democracy, many more critics would have been condemning Trump’s unprovoked attack on Syria – an attack that occurred without Congressional oversight, without a UN mandate, and without a formal investigation. The fact that none of these things happened without undue distress speaks volumes about the condition of American democracy today. Instead of being guided by responsible voices reflective of the peoples’ will, American democracy is being led far astray by forces that feed on foreign military conquest and corporate profit.

War is not, nor never will be, a venture that serves the interests of the people.

Until the forces that demand military conflict are brought to heel, Americans should expect many more illicit adventures in the future, committed in their name, and regardless what they were promised on the campaign trail.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Fox News Loved Trump’s Afghan Bomb So Much They Made a Music Video About It
| April 16, 2017 | 5:08 pm | Afghanistan, political struggle | No comments
Fox News Loved Trump’s Afghan Bomb So Much They Made a Music Video About It

Fox News Loved Trump’s Afghan Bomb So Much They Made a Music Video About It

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Identifying America’s love of violence and the endless ways that organizations profit from its use is a sucker’s game, at best, but Fox News, always there to remind you of why we fight, has held up its end of the bargain with a new celebration of death — this time trumped up as a music video.

On Thursday the Trump administration, seen to be releasing the reigns on the US military, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in America’s considerable arsenal in a remote area of Afghanistan, for the sake of killing less than 40 supposed terrorists.

Named MOAB, for Massive Ordnance Air Blast (or, popularly, Mother of all Bombs), the ten-ton explosive, one of only 15 built to date, was tested for the first time in a real-world setting. In using the fantastically-destructive weapon, Washington is claiming that it seeks to end the existence of Daesh in Afghanistan.

The enormous bomb, with a yield equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, detonated successfully, killing, it is estimated, some 40 extremists, as well as an as-yet-undetermined number of civilians, according to Think Progess.

While the event was reported world-wide, including by Sputnik, Fox News took it to another level by turning the killings into a celebration which included stirring patriotic music.

The Fox News hosts traded quips about the deadly event, and showed a black and white surveillance video of the detonation several times, while playing jumped-up American pop music with a pounding beat and simple lyrics that call for killing as an act of revenge.

Under the administration of US President Donald Trump, now in only its third month, civilian casualties are rising quickly as a result of rapidly-increasing US military involvement in the Middle East.

The MOAB bomb crater may never reveal how many civilians have been killed, as the power of the blast can obliterate all organic matter within up to a square mile.

But that is not the only use of deadly force in the region by an ever-more destructive US military machine.

On the same day as the Pentagon sent the MOAB on its first foray into the real world, the US-led coalition in Syria bombed and killed at least 18 soldiers allied with the force, in what the Washington Post has termed the “worst confirmed friendly-fire incident” to date against Daesh.

In March, a US friendly-fire incident resulted in the death of at least 200 civilians in Mosul, just after two other accidental bombings by US forces killed an undetermined number of civilians outside the war-torn city.

Adding to that tally is the first incursion by US forces into Yemen since the new president was inaugurated, which saw the death of a Navy SEAL alongside the killings of at least 23 Yemeni civilians, including many children.

Freely taking credit for the sudden rise in collateral deaths in the Middle East, Trump has stated that he has given the Pentagon what he terms “total authorization,” adding, ” that’s why they have been so successful lately.”

In making a celebratory music video to mark the wartime detonation of the largest non-nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal, Fox News gleefully seeks to bolster that part of human nature that we all would like to go away.

Tyrant Trump Romps: Rest of the World Aghast at Unprecedented US Brutality

Tyrant Trump Romps: Rest of the World Aghast at Unprecedented US Brutality

by James Thompson

The bourgeois tyrant Trump has already distinguished himself in his brief period in the Oval Office as one of the most notorious tyrants in US history. Barely 3 months in office and he is already responding to imagined threats to the USA with deadly bombs. A few days after a deadly chemical attack, tyrant Trump unleashed 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian Air Force Base without any substantial evidence that this Air Force Base perpetrated the chemical attack.

The Syrian government and the Russian government have denied that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack. One must ask what could be the benefit of launching a chemical attack on its own citizens if the government of Syria denies that they were responsible for the attack.

We must remember that the Syrian army was making advances on the terrorists in Syria prior to the attack. President Assad, hated by the US bourgeois media, categorically denied his government’s involvement in the criminal chemical attack.

Who benefited from the chemical attack? Undoubtedly, tyrant Trump, his cronies and the massive munitions industry in the USA, benefited from the deadly, brutal, unprovoked chemical attack on innocent people in Syria.

Without a thorough, unbiased, scientific investigation of the chemical attack, tyrant Trump launched a brutal attack on a Syrian Air Force Base known to heroically fight the criminal puppets of the USA known commonly as ISIS. 59 tomahawk missiles at a cost of $1 million per missile were launched and a great deal of concrete was demolished. Syrians were terrorized as well as many other people in the Middle East.

Not even a week later tyrant Trump authorized a MOAB drop on Afghanistan. The US MOAB is the closest conventional weapon to a nuclear weapon to date. When dropped, it sucks up all the oxygen and sets the air on fire, resulting in the death of all humans in the area. This drop resulted in the deaths of an insignificant number of ISIS members according to the US bourgeois media. The MOAB cost $16 million.

Meanwhile, tyrant Trump has dispatched an unknown number of U.S. Navy attack vessels to the Korean Peninsula to show the socialist country who is boss. North Korea has an unknown number of nuclear weapons. They have not threatened the mainland of the USA. They have loudly stated that they are a sovereign nation and are entitled to defend themselves against US aggression.

Tyrant Trump is effectively seeking to ignite the world on fire through his brutal and provocative action. No one knows where Trump’s reckless behavior will lead.

We do know that there is no overwhelming opposition from the working class in the USA against USA military intervention in either Syria or North Korea. Will Trump continue to romp or will the world working class rise up to oppose the brutality of the bourgeoisie against the working class as led by tyrant Trump?