Tag Archives: foreign aid
After Fall of Yemen, US Officials Fear Terrorists Have Seized $500 Million in US-Donated Weapons
For years, the US has engaged in a counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen involving aggressive drone strikes and the donation of over $500 million in weapons and equipment to Yemen’s US-backed government. However, these moves aimed at defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen have produced an array of unintended consequences, which appear to be spiraling out of control.
First, local anxiety over US drone strikes led to a January 2015 uprising by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled Yemen’s government suddenly, taking US officials by surprise. The fall of Yemen has been compared to ISIS’ taking of Mosul in that, in both cases, US-trained-and-funded soldiers refused to fight as rebels launched their attacks. Additionally, al-Qaeda has reportedly seized some of the collapsed Yemeni government’s bases. In February, the US closed its embassy in Yemen, and rebels stole vehicles that were left behind during the evacuation.
Meanwhile, according to The Washington Post, Pentagon officials recently admitted that they have lost track of the over $500 million in military assistance that the US has given to Yemen’s failed government. The lost equipment includes M-16 and M-4 rifles, over a million rounds of ammo, Glock pistols, night vision goggles, drones, helicopters, surveillance aircraft, and patrol boats. US officials planned to send $125 million in additional aid, including ScanEagle drones, but instead redirected the shipments to other Middle Eastern and African nations following Yemen’s collapse.
An anonymous legislative aid told The Washington Post, “We have to assume [the weapons are] completely compromised and gone.” Though Pentagon officials say that there is no specific evidence demonstrating that al-Qaeda or Houthi rebels have obtained the US-donated weapons and equipment, the Department of Defense has admitted that it has lost track of the items. Given the fact that both al-Qaeda and the Houthi rebels have seized many Yemeni bases, the prevailing logic in Washington DC is that the shipments have likely been claimed by the anti-US groups.
In 2014, President Barack Obama pointed to his counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen as an example of a War on Terror foreign policy success story. “The administration really wanted to stick with this narrative that Yemen was different from Iraq, that we were going to do it with fewer people, that we were going to do it on the cheap,” said Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX).
CPAC Straw Poll Winner Rand Paul Battles The Bush Machine—Goldwater Style
WASHINGTON, February 28, 2015—As the winner of the past three Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) Straw Polls, Senator Rand Paul excels at generating meaningful political and economic discussions among college students and young professionals. The same generation that is known for speaking in bewildering acronyms continues to gather in force to ask and to answer difficult questions that are essential to the life and liberty of all Americans. Their answers will ultimately determine the future of the nation.
The Senator’s most recent economic stand will endear him to anyone who has ever interfaced with the Internal Revenue Service. He promised to introduce the largest tax cut in American history. In his speech to attendees of CPAC, he mentioned that he is poised to propose a tax plan “that would get the IRS out of our lives.” He indicated his intention to cut taxes “for everyone from the richest to the poorest.”
“It’s time for a new way predicated on opportunity and freedom!” said Paul to a wildly supportive crowd. The Senator attacked America’s indiscriminate foreign aid policies, especially the large sums of money sent without the permission of taxpayers to countries that consider The United States an enemy. “Not one penny more to these haters of America!” said Paul.
His speech had the tenor of a well-run, focused campaign and was eerily similar to comments made by Senator Barry Goldwater exactly 50 years ago on the campaign trail leading up to his landmark GOP presidential nomination. “You cannot stop a man who has vowed to bury you by handing him a shovel,” said Goldwater, “By feeding and clothing his friends, while denying your friends the means to help protect you!” Goldwater believed that removing foreign aid would ultimately prevent wars.
Several members of the Young Jewish Conservatives attending CPAC this year specifically mentioned the foreign aid issue as a driving force behind their support for Rand Paul for president. Paul’s straight talk appeals to countless concerned Americans who are fed up with politics as usual, feel betrayed by the Party Machine, and fear that the United States is on an irreversible course similar to that of the Titanic—or Greece.
Two weeks prior to CPAC, the Students for Liberty (SFL) held its national conference in Washington, D.C. More than 1,700 students from across the world attended. The group was largely inspired by the ideas presented to them by Senator Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul. Now it is the fastest-growing political group on college campuses globally, and is surpassing both the College Democrats and College Republicans groups on American campuses.
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is another group inspired by the Paul family’s articulation of limited government principles. Many YAL members were active in the GOP for years before they understood the liberty message, realized how well it resonates, and committed to passionately fight to preserve it. The large presence of both SFL and YAL at CPAC is telling, and has seemingly eliminated the establishment hostilities doled out to them by fellow attendees when they were the minority at previous conferences. The young libertarians gladly swap testimonies of political enlightenment with a fervor nostalgic of a tent revival meeting. They are also getting elected to offices across the land, a clear sign that they are not going away anytime soon.
Freedom is popular, it seems, and the Bill of Rights is back en vogue with a new generation of American rebels. This energy threatens to change the go-along-to-get-along, aging Republican establishment, which is why the party profiteers are so quick to strike back at the resurgence of old school conservatism.
The same Rockefeller Republicans who sandbagged Goldwater after he won the GOP nomination from the floor are currently working financial and legal channels on behalf of Jeb Bush. The 2016 Republican nomination is seemingly fixed for the top fundraiser and his delegate-donors, a complete violation of the nominating process. Sources say Jeb Bush bussed hundreds of people to CPAC from their Washington offices just to fill seats during his speech and to presumably raise his standing in the straw poll. This effort did not succeed in preventing him from being handily booed every time his name was mentioned, including while he addressed the attendees who remained after a protest/walkout. His temporary seat-filling strategy was met with disdain by attendees who saved and spent their own money to attend the duration of the event and cast their ballots.
One of Paul’s leading critics is fellow Senator and former GOP nominee John McCain, a man who praises Goldwater with his lips while shunning everything he stood for by his actions. Just two years ago, the 80-year-old McCain called Senators Paul and Cruz, as well as Congressman Justin Amash, “wacko birds.” He called their supporters, the Under 40 crowd that supports Paul’s limited government principles, “impressionable libertarian kids.”
Yet, the vibrant, liberty-leaning younger crowd that has wrestled its way into the GOP is the only fresh blood coursing through the Party’s very old veins. Perhaps the current Republican Party leadership is not the right body from which to expect kind words of “big tent” gratitude. The crowds who now stand with Rand don’t seem to care. Their vision is clear, and they know they will eventually outlive the generation that got the country into this mess in the first place. They seem to be ready to get to work.
Rand Paul Introduces Bill to “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid”
Senator Rand Paul introduced the “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid Act of 2015” on Wednesday, which would halt U.S. aid to Palestinians, until they withdraw their request to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), in order to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.
Paul released a statement saying that under the current U.S. law, “America is prohibited from assisting the Palestinian Authority if it seeks ICC claims against Israel.”
“Certainly groups that threaten Israel cannot be allies of the U.S.” said Paul. “I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure this President and this Congress stop treating Israel’s enemies as American allies.”
Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas requested to join the ICC on December 31, with the intent of investigating Israel’s use of force during the summer of 2014.
Palestine’s bid to join the ICC was submitted just one day after it pushed for an early vote from the United Nations on a resolution that would recognize Palestinian statehood, and end Israeli occupation by 2017. The resolution failed by one vote, and there is speculation that Palestine wanted it to fail, so that they would still be able to join the ICC.
After Palestine submitted its request to join the ICC, the U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke released a statement saying that the United States was “deeply troubled” by Palestine’s “escalatory step,” and that it would not “achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people.”
Paul’s statement argued that while the U.S. is “deeply troubled,” the Obama administration “has not committed to taking any actions and appears disinclined to cut off aid” thus far.
“It is up to the new Republican-led Congress to move on its own so that the President does not once again circumvent clear funding restrictions,” said Paul. “We are currently sending roughly $400 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority.“
Vital U.S. Interest? Taxpayers To Spend $400,000 For A Camel Sculpture In Pakistan
I always hear the same talking points from politicians when I asked why the U.S. spends $50 billion a year in foreign aid? Most of them say: “well $50 billion is a small fraction of the budget.”
Americans are living paycheck to paycheck more than ever. And to add insult to injury, our government in all of its infinite wisdom is using $400,000 of taxpayer money to buy a camel sculpture at the new American embassy in Pakistan.
How can this sculpture be justified?
The 500 lb. fiberglass, aluminum, stainless steel, acrylic and painted statue, which is not even a one-of-a-kind piece, was first reported exclusively by Buzzfeed.
The work, titled “Camel Contemplating Needle” is by American artist John Baldessari and is a play on the New Testament phrase about the difficulty the wealthy have entering the kingdom of heaven.
Uh, I don’t think they get what Jesus was trying to say.
The document, published by Buzzfeed, explains how the art piece fits into the new embassy in Islamabad. “This artist’s product is uniquely qualified,” the document explains. “Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country,” it says. (Like the Bible, the Qur’an uses the metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, reported Buzzfeed.)
In a statement, State Department press spokeswoman Christine Foushee said the proposed purchase comes from the department’s Office of Art in Embassies. In new construction projects, she said, a small part of the total funds, about 0.5%, is spent on art purchases.
Art dealer, Steven Beyer of Beyer Projects, said he was approached by the government about the project. He pointed out that while some Americans may find it frivolous for the government to pay for art, others will find it important. “It depends on what part of the public you are in,” he said. “If you go to the museum and enjoy art and are moved by it, things cost what they cost.”
And this one costs $400,000 in taxpayer money (Money we borrow from China).
Opinion: Obama Crossing the Rubicon into Syria
US Presidents do not have the legal power to declare wars. Barack Obama ignored that Constitutional guarantee in Libya, and is set to begin another war while Congress is not even in session. If we continue to allow Presidents to attack small nations whenever they need a distracting headline, then they are no longer “Presidents”, and we are no longer a Republic.
The politicians who want to borrow (or print) more billions to pre-emptively attack Syria are the same politicians who used our foreign aid to pay for the Pakistani and North Korean nuclear weapons. Muslim nations receive five times more US foreign aid than Israel, and North Korea still gets our support for its hereditary dictator. The US has helped every dictator in the world since 1945, including Castro, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin. We also funded the Taliban both through direct foreign aid and via the Pakistani spy service… in fact, the GAO reports that the Taliban still receives at least $500 million a year in payoffs from US contractors in Afghanistan. If our foreign policy is supposed to get rid of dictators, maybe we should take them off our welfare rolls first.
From 1971-2001, USAID says that US foreign aid to Syria was $539 million. In recent years, US money has been funneled to the Assad regime through the UN. In June, the UN announced plans to spend 5.2 billion in aid to Syria in 2013, much of which would go through the regime. And there is always the inscrutable Federal Reserve, which since 1980 has “monetized” (i.e. paid off) billions of dollars worth of foreign bonds held by US banks, making accurate foreign aid totals impossible to obtain (probably even the US state department doesn’t know the amount). While much less than aid to Egypt or Pakistan, our taxes still gave the Syrian dictator dynasty enough support that they could afford to suppress their own nation’s economy to control dissent.
Militarily, the US has been allied with the Assads for decades. In 1991 Hafez al-Assad sent 14,500 soldiers and support personnel to attack Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm. In 2001 the Syrian secret police joined with US intelligence agencies in the War on Terror.
So the US has been supporting the vicious dictatorship for decades. Now, however, we are also supporting an Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist insurgency. So now we are paying for both sides of the war (as the GAO says that we have done in Afghanistan).
What if, instead of paying for both sides of various wars, we just kept all our money at home and left it in the US economy? Our military spending on offensive forces is nearly as much as all the other nations’ combined. What if we used some of that money for Swiss-style civil defense to protect our own children in the event of terrorist or WMD attack?
A United States that wasn’t involved in Middle Eastern, African, and Central Asian wars would be a more secure United States. Not only would we have fewer enemies, but we wouldn’t be bankrupt and vulnerable when there is an unavoidable conflict. Right now our debt is bigger than our GNP… we can’t even afford to pay for the last few wars we fought, let alone start new ones.
Thomas Jefferson warned against getting entangled in the wars of other nations. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” But then Thomas Jefferson was a President, not an Emperor.
McCain & Graham Stand With Rand: “End Aid To Egypt”
Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and perhaps just in time. US senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been calling for an end to foreign aid to Egypt and Syria for quite some time. Just recently the Senate voted 86-13 against Paul’s most recent attempt to end aid to Egypt. Graham and McCain both voting against Paul. “It would be a terrific mistake for the United States to send a message to Egypt: you’re on your own,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “I urge my colleagues to vote to table the Paul amendment.”
In response to the Senate voting against his amendment Paul said, “This is something that those who voted in Congress are going to have to live with. The question is: How does their conscience feel now as they see photographs of tanks rolling over Egyptian civilians?”
Due to more than 650 deaths in Egypt over the past few days, Obama recently canceled a joint military exercise and delayed sending new military equipment to Egypt. Finally, it seems that the two senior senators have had a recent change of heart just days after voting against Paul’s efforts to end aid to Egypt.
In a joint statement, senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) now “standing with Rand” by calling for an end to foreign aid in Egypt:
“The interim civilian government and security forces – backed up, unfortunately, by the military – are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them.”
McCain and Graham continue,
“We cannot be complicit in the mass slaughter of civilians. We urge the Obama Administration to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests.”
It is not immediately clear how far McCain and Graham are willing to go in order to end aid to Egypt. However, should Paul bring his amendment back for a similar vote, he may for the first time have McCain and Graham on his side.
Jan Helfeld Questions Sen. Lindsey Graham
Jan Helfeld questions Senator Lindsey Graham on foreign policy and foreign aid. Sen. Graham claims that foreign aid is not redistribution of wealth. See more videos by Jan at his website http://janhelfeld.com