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Philip Giraldi



Articles by Philip Giraldi

Punishing the World With Sanctions

4 days ago

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate

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No Accountability in Washington

23 days ago

Government that actually serves the interests of the people who are governed has two essential characteristics: first, it must be transparent in terms of how it debates and develops policies and second, it has to be accountable when it fails in its mandate and ceases to be responsive to the needs of the electorate. Over the past twenty years one might reasonably argue that Washington has become less a “of the people, by the people and for the people” and increasingly a model of how special interests can use money to corrupt government. The recent story about how serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided any serious punishment by virtue of his wealth and his political connections, including to both ex-president Bill Clinton and to

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The Death of Privacy

July 12, 2019

It is discouraging to note just how the United States has been taking on the attributes of a police state since 9/11. Stories of police raids on people’s homes gone wrong are frequently in the news. In one recent incident, a heavily armed SWAT team was sent to a St. Louis county home. The armed officers entered the building without knocking, shot the family dog and forced the family members to kneel on the floor where they were able to watch their pet struggle and then die. The policemen then informed the family that they were there over failure to pay the gas bill. Animal rights groups report that the shooting of pets by police has become routine in many jurisdictions because the officers claim that they feel threatened.
Indeed,

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Goodbye, Dollar

July 5, 2019

Over the past two years, the White House has initiated trade disputes, insulted allies and enemies alike, and withdrawn from or refused to ratify multinational treaties and agreements. It has also expanded the reach of its unilaterally imposed rules, forcing other nations to abide by its demands or face economic sanctions. While the stated Trump Administration intention has been to enter into new arrangements more favorable to the United States, the end result has been quite different, creating a broad consensus within the international community that Washington is unstable, not a reliable partner and cannot be trusted. This sentiment has, in turn, resulted in conversations among foreign governments regarding how to circumvent

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Who Won the Debate?

July 3, 2019

Last Wednesday’s debate among half of the announced Democratic Party candidates to become their party’s nominee for president in 2020 was notable for its lack of drama. Many of those called on to speak had little to say apart from the usual liberal bromides about health care, jobs, education and how the United States is a country of immigrants. On the following day the mainstream media anointed Elizabeth Warren as the winner based on the coherency of her message even though she said little that differed from what was being presented by most of the others on the stage. She just said it better, more articulately.
The New York Times’ coverage was typical, praising Warren for her grasp of the issues and her ability to present the

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How To Start an Unnecessary War

June 26, 2019

I confess to being mystified by those Americans who lean conservative, like myself, who continue to think that President Donald J. Trump is somehow doing a good job. To be sure, the economy continues to add mostly low paying jobs but claims that the new tax law benefits the middle class are a bit hard to swallow as the elimination of a whole category of deductions for state and local taxes means that I and many other middle-income types will be paying more. And there are whole policy-categories where the Trump record is appalling, to include the federal deficit, trade disputes that are alienating friends and allies, and sheer obstinate idiocy regarding the environment and climate change. Meanwhile, the president’s unrelenting

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June Madness Strikes Washington

June 21, 2019

It has been a lively June so far in light of Washington’s apparent zeal to remake the world in its own image. There is considerable buzz among those networking in ex- or current government circles that the White House is preparing to “do something” about Iran. The recent incidents involving alleged attacks on Norwegian and Japanese tankers in the Gulf of Oman were immediately attributed to Iran by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with so little regard for evidence that even the compliant American media was left gasping. In its initial coverage of the story The New York Times inevitably echoed the administration’s claims, but if one went to the readers’ comments on the story fully 90% of those bothering to express an opinion decided

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Tulsi Gabbard Pushes No War Agenda

June 7, 2019

Voters looking ahead to 2020 are being bombarded with soundbites from the twenty plus Democratic would-be candidates. That Joe Biden is apparently leading the pack according to opinion polls should come as no surprise as he stands for nothing apart from being the Establishment favorite who will tirelessly work to support the status quo.
The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.
Tulsi’s

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Washington’s Mighty Warriors

May 31, 2019

Remember Shakespeare’s line “he jests at scars that never felt a wound?” That epithet could have been written with National Security Advisor John Bolton in mind. Bolton was notoriously a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, like his current boss, not due to any scruples regarding what was occurring, but out of concern for his own sorry ass. He is now credibly believed to be the driving force behind the punishment being meted out to Venezuela and, far more dangerously, of the creeping escalation that is taking place in the Middle East that is seeking to draw Iran into a misstep that would lead to war. Bolton, who has received the “Defender of Israel” award, has long been an outspoken advocate for attacking Iran and now he has the

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Trump’s Murderous Sanctions, His Open Border

May 17, 2019

Remaining promoters of the concept of Donald Trump as President of the United States cite the fact that he has started no new shooting wars while Russiagate has turned out to be a flop and the economy seems to be doing well. He also seems serious about leaving Syria and Afghanistan, though those initiatives are currently on hold pending the approval of his consigliere “Defender of Israel” award winner John Bolton.
The Trump supporters however choose to ignore that the president has been unable to secure the southern border, which was a significant campaign pledge, and has initiated a series of trade and economic wars supplemented by a heavy dose of sanctions that have possibly killed more people and destroyed more American jobs

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Pompeo Lies, Cheats, and Steals

May 3, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently recounted to an audience at Texas A&M University that when he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency he was responsible for “lying, cheating and stealing” to benefit the United States. “Like we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”
The Secretary made the comment with a grin, noting that when he was a cadet at West Point he subscribed to the Academy honor code, which stated that “You will not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.” The largely student audience clearly appreciated and irony and laughed and applauded, though it is not clear what they made of the “glory of the American experiment.” The normally humorless Pompeo was

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Jared Kushner, Not Maria Butina

April 27, 2019

Maria Butina is in jail for doing nothing while Jared Kushner, who needed a godfathered security clearance due to his close Israeli ties, struts through the White House as senior advisor to the president.
The Mueller Special Counsel inquiry is far from over even though a final report on its findings has been issued. Although the investigation had a mandate to explore all aspects of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, from the start the focus was on the possibility that some members of the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the election to favor the GOP candidate. Even though that could not be demonstrated, many prominent Trump critics, to include Laurence Tribe of the

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The Conspiracy Against Trump

April 24, 2019

The real “deplorable” in today’s United States is the continuation of a foreign policy based on endless aggression to maintain Washington’s military dominance in parts of the world where Americans have no conceivable interest. Many voters backed Donald J. Trump because he committed himself to changing all that, but, unfortunately, he has reneged on his promise, instead heightening tension with major powers Russia and China while also threatening Iran and Venezuela on an almost daily basis. Now Cuba is in the crosshairs because it is allegedly assisting Venezuela. One might reasonably ask if America in its seemingly enduring role as the world’s most feared bully will ever cease and desist, but the more practical question might be

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Rumors of War

April 20, 2019

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless

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What Monroe Doctrine?

April 8, 2019

Because there is a presidential election coming up next year, the Donald Trump Administration appears to be looking for a country that it can attack and destroy in order to prove its toughness and willingness to go all the way in support of alleged American interests. It is a version of the old neocon doctrine attributed to Michael Ledeen, the belief that every once in a while, it is necessary to pick out some crappy little country and throw it against the wall just to demonstrate that the United States means business.
“Meaning business” is a tactic whereby the adversary surrenders immediately in fear of the possible consequences, but there are a couple of problems with that thinking. The first is that an opponent who can resist

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God, Not the Russians, Elected Trump

April 1, 2019

Governments that pride themselves on being either democratic or republican in nature claim that they are empowered by the will of the people, but the sad reality is that most regimes come to power based on promises that they have no intention of honoring after the election is over. In the United States we have seen President Donald Trump quite plausibly enjoy a margin of victory that was due to his pledges to end America’s involvement in senseless Middle Eastern wars and to mend relations with Russia. Neither has occurred, quite the contrary, with a serious threat that war with Iran on behalf of Israel is imminent and a relationship with Moscow that is worse than it was in the latter phases of the Cold War. Whether all of that is

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The Trump Phenom

March 20, 2019

President Donald Trump is frequently seen through the prism of an American media that despises him and wants to discredit him so that he can either be impeached soon or defeated in 2020. To a certain extent the foreign media has picked up on that depiction of Trump, emphasizing his boorish qualities and narcissism while neglecting what he has or has not accomplished while in office. To be sure there have been major missteps which have driven the Europeans and others crazy, including the withdrawal from the international climate treaty and the nuclear agreement with Iran, but Trump, to his credit, has also recognized the futility of Washington’s Asian wars and is serious in his intent to reduce the American footprint in places

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Attacking Iran

February 27, 2019

Observers of developments in the Middle East have long taken it as a given that the United States and Israel are seeking for an excuse to attack Iran. The recently terminated conference in Warsaw had that objective, which was clearly expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it failed to rally European and Middle Eastern states to support the cause. On the contrary, there was strong sentiment coming from Europe in particular that normalizing relations with Iran within the context of the 2015 multi party nuclear agreement is the preferred way to go both to avoid a major war and to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.
There are foundations in Washington, all closely linked to Israel and its lobby in the U.S.,

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What If They Started a War

February 23, 2019

The humiliation of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Warsaw last week was a good thing. The ancient Greeks, exercising their demonstrated ability to synthesize defining characteristics, had a word for it: hubris. Hubris is when one develops an extreme and unreasonable feeling of confidence in a certain course of action that inevitably leads to one’s downfall when that conceit proves to be based on false principles.
Pompeo was in Warsaw for a “summit” arranged by the US State Department in partnership with the Polish government to discuss with representatives of sixty nations what to do about the fractious situation in the Middle East. In advance, he promised that the meeting would “deliver really good outcomes.” The

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Is Tulsi Gabbard for Real?

February 18, 2019

The lineup of Democrats who have already declared themselves as candidates for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020 is remarkable, if only for the fact that so many wannabes have thrown their hats in the ring so early in the process. In terms of electability, however, one might well call the seekers after the highest office in the land the nine dwarfs. Four of the would-be candidates – Marianne Williamson a writer, Andrew Yang an entrepreneur, Julian Castro a former Obama official, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman John Delaney – have no national profiles at all and few among the Democratic Party rank-and-file would be able to detail who they are, where they come from and what their positions on key issues might be.

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Does Washington Rule the World?

February 8, 2019

One of the most disturbing aspects of the past two years of Donald Trump foreign policy has been the assumption that decisions made by the United States are binding on the rest of the world. Apart from time of war, no other nation has ever sought to prevent other nations from trading with each other. And the United States has also uniquely sought to penalize other countries for alleged crimes that did not occur in the US and that did not involve American citizens, while also insisting that all nations must comply with whatever penalties are meted out by Washington.
The United States now sees itself as judge, jury and executioner in policing the international community, a conceit that began post World War 2 when American

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NewsGuard: A Neoconservative Contrivance

January 30, 2019

There’s a new thought policeman in town. He calls himself NewsGuard and he promises to restore “Trust and Accountability” to what one reads online. His website elaborates that “NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism—and which are not…Our Green-Red ratings signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”
One might well stop reading immediately after running into “our trained analysts” with all that implies, but that would deny the greater pleasure

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Is Paul Whelan a Spy?

January 12, 2019

The media has a new bit of speculation that fits neatly into the flagging Russiagate narrative. It concerns Paul Whelan, a high school graduate Marine Corps dishonorable discharge, who is currently working in corporate security for a Michigan-based auto parts manufacturer. Whelan, who lives alone, is self-taught in Russian and has engaged in tourist travel to the country a number of times. He was reportedly arrested late last month in Moscow while ostensibly attending a friend’s wedding and charged with espionage. Forty-eight year-old Whelan is clearly an odd duck and is notable for having four passports – Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and that of the United States.
Press coverage of the incident has nearly unanimously decided

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Trump Foreign Policy for 2019

January 9, 2019

Never before has any presidential administration been as all over the place in terms of national security and foreign policy as is that of Donald J. Trump. Indeed, one might well argue that there is no overriding policy at all in terms of a rational doctrine arrived at through risk versus gain analysis of developing international situations. Instead, there has been a pattern of emotional reactions fueled by media disinformation supplemented by “gut feelings” about a series of ultimately bilateral relationships that frequently have little or nothing to do with American national interests.
This is not to suggest that the “gut feelings” are always wrong. Established wisdom in Washington has long reflected the view that the United

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The Mattis Dilemma

January 3, 2019

The resignation letter of Secretary of Defense James Mattis that was published last Thursday revealed much of the Deep State mindset that has produced the foreign policy catastrophes of the past seventeen years. Mattis, an active duty general in the Marine Corps who reportedly occasionally reads books, received a lot of good press during his time at Defense, sometimes being referred to as “the only adult in the room” when President Donald Trump’s national security and foreign policy team was meeting. Conveniently forgotten are Mattis comments relating to how to “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” His sobriquet in the Corps was “Mad Dog.”
In the media firestorm that has followed upon General

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Syria Withdrawal Enrages the Chickenhawks

December 26, 2018

President Donald Trump’s order to withdraw from Syria has been greeted, predictably, with an avalanche of condemnation culminating in last Thursday’s resignation by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Mattis resignation letter focused on the betrayal of allies, though it was inevitably light on details, suggesting that the Marine Corps General was having some difficulty in discerning that American interests might be somewhat different than those of feckless and faux allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia that are adept at manipulating the levers of power in Washington and in the media. Mattis clearly appreciates that having allies is a force multiplier in wartime but fails to understand that it is a liability otherwise as the allies

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Influencing Foreigners

December 22, 2018

The Rand Corporation defines America’s influence operations as… “the coordinated, integrated, and synchronized application of national diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and other capabilities in peacetime, crisis, conflict, and post-conflict to foster attitudes, behaviors, or decisions by foreign target audiences that further US interests and objectives. In this view, influence operations accent communications to affect attitudes and behaviors but also can include the employment of military capabilities, economic development, and other real-world capabilities that also can play a role in reinforcing these communications.”
In a world where communications and social networks are global and accessible to many ordinary

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The Bowdlerized Bush Obituaries

December 12, 2018

When George H.W. Bush died on November 30th, America’s two self-proclaimed newspapers of record The Washington Post and The New York Times were both quick off the mark in publishing what appeared to be definitive obituaries of the former president and statesman that had clearly been prepared in advance. The obit by The Times and that by The Post differed little in substance but they had one curious omission, i.e. President G.H.W. Bush’s eighteen month confrontation with Israel and its powerful domestic lobby.
In 1991-1992 President Bush engaged in a series of sharp exchanges with Israel and its American lobby over the issue of $10 billion in loan guarantees to the Jewish state to pay for the resettlement of Russian Jews, who were

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What Foreign Threats?

December 5, 2018

One of the local Washington television stations was doing a typical early morning honoring our soldiers schtick just before Thanksgiving. In it soldiers stationed far from home were treated to videolinks so they could talk to their families and everyone could nod happily and wish themselves a wonderful holiday. Not really listening, I became interested when I half heard that the soldier being interviewed was spending his Thanksgiving in Ukraine.
It occurred to me that the soldier just might have committed a security faux pas by revealing where he was, but I also recalled that there have been joint military maneuvers as well as some kind of training mission going on in the country, teaching the Ukrainian Army how to use the shiny

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US Foreign Policy Has No Policy

November 28, 2018

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.
Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of

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