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Obama Administration Spends $500 million to Train Only 60 Syrian Rebels

in Liberator Online by Comments are off

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As the Obama administration tried to convince Congress to support intervention against the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the summer of 2013, officials insisted that only a quarter of Syrian rebels had ties to Islamic extremist groups. That turned out to be inaccurate. An estimate produced by IHS Jane’s found that nearly half were Islamic extremists.

Fast-forward to June 2014, when the administration asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip to several thousand so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to, now, fight the Islamic State, which operates in Syria, as well as Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. Congress approved the funding request in December.

CNN reports, however, that the only 60 rebels have been vetted to participate in the program. Recruits cannot have any ties to terrorist organizations. “We make sure that they, for example, aren’t going to pose a green-on-blue threat to their trainers; that they don’t have any history of atrocities,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee of the vetting process on Tuesday.

“I expect that number to improve,” he said, “but you deserve to know the truth.

The plan was to train some 15,000-rebel fighters over three years. Although 7,000 potential recruits are currently being vetted, Carter’s testimony didn’t sit well with members of the committee, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a prominent foreign policy hawk who has criticized the administration for its handling of the Islamic State, as well as not ousting Assad in 2013.

“I’ve got to tell you after four years [since the Syrian Civil War began], Mr. Secretary, that’s not a very impressive number,” McCain told Carter. McCain suggested that U.S.-trained fighters be allowed to target Assad’s forces, whom they aren’t trained to engage.

The numbers may be low because many would-be fighters are more interested in toppling Assad and taking control of Syria than fighting the Islamic State, which is just one extremist group fighting the regime. Others include al-Qaeda and Hamas. Hezbollah and Iran are supporting Assad.

The foreign policy venture in Syria is already proving to be a failure, and yet, it’s amazing that some, like McCain, want to United States to get further involved by allowing fighters to go after Assad’s forces in addition to fighting the Islamic State. It may not be as sordid of an affair as Iraq, but it could be.

If there’s anything our history of intervention has taught us is that we’re not very good at it. Perhaps we would be better served if, for once, we stayed out of the fight.

Can We Abolish the Income Tax?

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, Taxes by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

In this issue‘s Intellectual Ammunition section you will find some truly shocking facts about the federal income tax.

It’s enough to make you mad — and, I hope, ready to do something about it.

In recent years libertarian arguments in many areas have made remarkable Abolish the IRSprogress. The re-legalization of marijuana and other drugs has moved from a theoretical possibility to legislative reality. We’ve seen the elimination of centuries-old anti-gay laws. In foreign policy, the ideas of non-intervention are catching on so fast it’s scaring the political establishment. And the idea of libertarianism itself has gone from being an obscure, little-understood political philosophy to being the hottest idea in politics today.

None of this happened by accident. It came about because libertarians and others who favored liberty on these issues spent years challenging the status quo, opening minds, and bringing the libertarian position into public debate.

I think it’s high time we added abolishing the income tax to that list.

A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on how to argue for eliminating the income tax and replacing it with nothing.

I’ve combined those into one article, which you can read here. I hope it helps you in the crucial work of pushing the “abolish the income tax and replace it with… nothing” meme into mainstream American politics.

In my Liberty Minute column in this issue, I discuss the concept of the Overton Window, a very useful model for advancing the ideas of liberty. One of our major goals as liberty advocates is to raise the Overton Window to include ever-bolder libertarian ideas.

Can we do this with the idea of ending the income tax? Can we make that a part of the national political debate? You bet we can. It’s what Hollywood describes as “high concept”: it makes sense, it is exciting, and it is easy to grasp. Ron Paul’s longtime support for this issue is another big benefit. Paul’s millions of influential and active followers have the manpower to bring this idea alive for the mainstream.

Perhaps, not so long from now, the income tax will go the way of censorship, sodomy laws, Jim Crow, and other discredited and vanished tyrannies liberty lovers have sent into oblivion.

They Said It…

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It… section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

NSA Director Keith AlexanderNSA HEAD PREDICTS LEGISLATION TO RESTRICT FIRST AMENDMENT: “I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier.” — outgoing NSA director General Keith Alexander, March 4, 2014. An outspoken opponent of whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, Alexander himself has been accused by critics of leading unconstitutional programs and lying to Congress.

Charlie Earl
LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATES “BANNED” BY GOP IN OHIO: “I really am theequivalent of a book in Boston. Yeah, I’ve been banned.”  — Libertarian Party of Ohio gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl, after Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualified Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, based on an obscure clerical error. This new Republican attack follows a failed attempt in January to keep all Libertarians off the 2014 ballot. In Ohio the GOP governor faces a very close race and a strong LP showing could cost him the election.

NORTH KOREA OFFERS BALLOT MODEL FOR DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS: “With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100 percent turnout. … Voters in the election have no choice who to vote for — there is only one candidate’s name on the ballot for each district.” — Associated Press, “NKorea: Not a Single Vote Cast Against Kim Jong Un,” March 10, 2014. (See quote above about Ohio’s ballot shenanigans.)

Secretary of State John KerryKERRY CALLS FOR NON-INTERVENTION — FOR EVERYONE ELSE: “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. … You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on TV news shows Face the Nation and Meet the Press, March 2, 2014. Apparently Kerry is not familiar with recent U.S. activities in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yugoslavia, etc. etc. etc.

Jimmy FallonGOD SAYS DON’T BLAME ME FOR OBAMACARE: “This week President Obama told his supporters that they are doing God’s work by helping to promote Obamacare. God said, ‘Whoa, there. Look, I’m flattered. But Obamacare, that’s all you, man. Don’t involve me in that mess.’” — Jimmy Fallon, Feb. 27, 2014