Reporting from Bogota, Colombia…
One of the most important events this year just occurred during the weekend.
Some of the United States’ best thinkers and doers — including Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman Thomas Massie, David Stockman, Phil Giraldi, Lew Rockwell, Hunt Tooley and Jeff Deist — came together in Lake Jackson, Texas, for the War and Peace in the Age of Trump symposium to assess the prospects of peace in the coming years.
If you don’t have the time to sit through the nearly four hour video on Youtube (although it would most certainly be worth every second), I made sure to transcribe some highlights for you below.
The timing of this symposium makes it all the more important. Last week, as I’m sure you know, Trump’s attack on Syria has even the staunchest Trump supporters worried he’s fallen to the Deep State.
Today and tomorrow, in light of recent events, we’ll be providing you with a best-of play-by-play from the symposium, with limited commentary from yours truly.
(If it ain’t broke, after all, don’t fix it.)
Congressman Thomas Massie Takes the Stage
“This seems like a movie I’ve watched before in 2013,” Congressman Massie said. “The month Ron Paul left office, I came into office. And not long thereafter, Obama said Assad had ‘crossed the red line.’ A bright red line. And we had to attack Assad for using chemical weapons… Obama said let’s go to war. Boehner said, ‘We’re good with that.’ Pelosi said, ‘We’re good with that.’
“So that was in 2013, and they never had the vote. They never took the vote. And here’s why, it was so unpopular. It would’ve failed miserably. And Obama would’ve lost the mandate for what he did next. I mean he never had a mandate, but he would’ve been prevented from what he did next. Which is, according to the Washington Post, because I can’t tell you what I know, but according to the Washington Post, we commenced to spending a billion dollars a year on a secret war in Syria. Funneling weapons and money to so-called moderate rebels. At a billion dollars a year, that’s going to leave a mark in a civil war.”
But that’s not all, said Massie. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, we’ve spent $100 billion just to prop up Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is the poster child for regime change — a glimpse of Syria’s future if the United States carries out this maniacal mission to remove Assad from power.
“[Sopko is] trying to blow the whistle on the waste, fraud and abuse of all this money [in Afghanistan].”
Some of this money, said Massie, went to building a hydroelectric dam. The Taliban, you might recall, was once trying to blow it up. But not anymore. And you’ll never guess why: “They get 30%. It’s a deal that was cut over there. We’re paying the light bill for the Taliban now. They get, I think, 30% of the electricity in exchange for not blowing it up or shooting the operators of the dam.”
It gets more heinous…
“We’ve spent $8 billion on the War on Drugs in Afghanistan alone. And they have doubled production of opium since we started spending $8 billion.”
Moreover, during this time, the heroin epidemic in the United States has gone full loco.
Just a coincidence, we’re sure.
David Stockman Hits the Podium Running…
The mainstream media (AKA propaganda machine), now that Trump edged us a little closer to WWIII, is praising him. This New York Times article, for example, whether genuine or not, reads like textbook war propaganda. It arrogantly presupposes narratives which are either unproven (Assad carried out the chemical weapons attack) or flat-out untrue (military intervention in the Middle East has “worked”).
The article even concludes with “War is Peace,” for heaven’s sake.
The final paragraph reads: “I’m glad Trump took the important first step of holding Assad accountable for using chemical weapons. But it’s all going to depend now on whether Trump, who so far has been a master of incompetence, can manage the far more difficult challenge of using war to midwife peace.”
Fareed Zakaria, as you might’ve seen, clapped the loudest, saying Trump’s decision to launch missiles into Syria was a “big moment.”
“I think Donald Trump became President of the United States last night,” Zakaria said the morning after the strikes, applauding them with all his claws. Trump, said Zakaria, finally recognizes that the United States must act as a standard-setter of the world.
Fortunately, there’s some semblance of sanity left on Earth:
“Who appointed Donald Trump as spanker-in-chief?” Stockman asked.
“If you want to be spanker-in-chief, why don’t you look at the leader of Egypt? Who was in the office a week or two ago. He’s murdered thousands of his political opponents since he illegally took power in a coup several years ago.
Zakaria was applauding the strikes based on standards, Stockman said, “well, where are the standards in this horrendous civil war that’s going on in Yemen? We are arming the Saudis with every kind of destructive device — bomb, missile, drone — they wouldn’t have the firepower that they do without all of this U.S. supplied munitions. So far, 10,000 civilians have been casualties. 4,000 have been killed. Men, women, weddings and the rest of it. 6,000 injured, many of them from cluster bombs which are supplied by Textron to the Saudi government that is using it on the civilian population of Yemen.
“So if you want to be the spanker-in-Chief, bring in the king of Saudi Arabia and give him a whack or two. The point is, it makes no sense. There’s no justification for it.”
“How, in 77 days,” Stockman asks, “is [Trump] doing something as stupid, as immoral, as short-sighted, as impulsive, as starting a major conflict with the Assad government and getting exactly in harm’s way with Russia and all of its allies that are on the ground there — the Iranians and Hezbollah and all the rest of them?
How did this happen in 77 days?
“And I would like to suggest that the Deep State, or the warfare State, whatever you want to call it, has gotten so massive, the military-industrial-congressional-surveillance complex and so forth that it envelopes everything that enters the Imperial City… that enters the White House and the Oval Office, and therefore the kind of challenge and problem and threat we face from this thing is far greater than almost anybody could imagine if they can take down Trump in this short amount of time.”
Stockman’s “trillion-dollar monster.”
“When you go to Washington, the prosperity is amazing. And you ask yourself, where is all of this prosperity coming from? This glass and steel, these new hotels and restaurants and all of this fancy stuff coming from in a city that has no manufacturing, no industry, where is it coming from? It’s coming from the $75 billion intelligence complex sprawled all over the entire metro area.
“If there were some kind of existential threat to the very future of our society, of our democracy, of our system. Some horrible, immense, powerful, terminal threat to our existence, maybe that would be a justification to what we have.”
The real secret? “We have no serious industrial, technological, military threat anywhere on the planet. Instead of an existential threat, we have less of a threat than we had since 1917 when Wilson, foolishly, put us into the first World War.”
Stockman on the “Russia Threat”
“They’ve got one 50 year old, aging, smoke-belching aircraft carrier that’s on duty in the eastern Mediterranean and probably couldn’t get out of the Straits of Gibraltar if it had to. That’s it.
“I am fortunate enough to live in New York City. When I look out from my balcony, I can see Queens. I can see Brooklyn. I look north, there’s Harlem. There’s the Bronx. Also, I can see the entirety of Russia. The GDP I can see from my balcony of New York metro area is $1.6 trillion and the GDP of Russia is $1.3 trillion. The entire economy of Russia is not even as big as New York City. It’s one-seventh of the GDP of the United States. Russia is mainly a huge hydrocarbon field with a few nickel mines, a hundred million acres of wheat, and an aging workforce that has a great fondness for vodka and other distractions. So the point is, there’s nothing there that could ever generate a threat or the military capability to harm us.”
Stockman on the “China Threat”
“China is the same thing. If you think about it, do you really worry at night that China is going to send some missiles or a fleet of aircraft over the Pacific in order to bomb 4,000 Wal-Marts in America? There economy would collapse within six months if they didn’t have this global bloated system of exports and trade. That’s what the whole Red Ponzi is predicated on. If they want to build sandcastles in the South China Sea, more power to them. But they aren’t a threat to us and frankly they’re not a threat to any of their neighbors either. They depend on a huge supply of raw materials coming up through the South China Sea through their ports.”
Stockman on the “Terrorist Threat”
“And frankly we don’t have to get that excited about the terrorism threat, either. And if we wanted to do something about it, we ought to stop bombing and droning and occupying because it’s the blowback from that that’s created does exist today as the terrorist threat. I think all of you know that because all you have to do is ask yourself, before 1990 how many terrorist incidents do you remember? Not many. And most of them had to do with intramurals between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It had nothing to do with us, it had nothing to do with Europe. And all of a sudden, allegedly, we’re more in peril than ever before in history. Where did all of this come from? Well where did all of this come from? It started with Gulf War 1.”
“The system, to keep itself alive, leads to what I call endless false narratives. Because if there isn’t an enemy, if there isn’t an imminent threat, if there isn’t danger lurking everywhere, even if it’s more from lightning than it is from terrorist, then, over time, it becomes hard to justify all this money that’s being wasted in this massive system.
“We’re constantly being told that they need these billions of dollars to do the policing on the homeland — you know, all this Homeland Security stuff — because they are terrorist cells everywhere. The fact is, about 90% of these so-called busts of terrorist cells are FBI stings. Anyone who wants to get educated on the terrorist threat, needs to only go back and watch Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s movie from 40 years ago, called The Sting, and you will see exactly what’s going on today.”
Stockman’s Silver Lining
“Maybe,” Stockman said, “there’s a silver lining in this capture of Trump by the Deep State and his utterly stupid attack on Syria.
“And that is, maybe, it will help revive an anti-war coalition in the Congress, like the one I started with way back in 1968 when both non-interventionists like Senator Aiken in Vermont and real doves from came together and basically put Johnson out of business and stopped the war and ended the madness. Maybe now the liberals and so-called progressives will come back to life — I mean, they’ve been essentially sidelined in the Obama era. Anything he did they had to justify. But if we have an opportunity now to tell Trump that you can’t do this without Congressional authorization, and a real debate begins in Congress which I think is beginning to happen, maybe we can revive some kind of resistance, some kind of opposition, to the madness that’s been going on.”
More to come in tomorrow’s episode.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today