News Release Archive - Foreign Policy

Biden Bombing Syria: “Illegal”

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FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of law at the University of Illinois. His most recent book is World Politics, Human Rights, and International Law.

He said today: “Biden’s bombing of Syria on Thursday is illegal — a violation of international law. It’s especially egregious since the attacks in Syria came out of Iraq, as the Iraqi government has been telling the U.S. government to leave.

“There have been reports that the U.S. government has been bombing Afghanistan. Presumably this is pretextually justified by the 2001 AUMF. It’s ridiculous to cite that at this point, but there’s some legal pretense to the effort. Attacking forces in Syria — which are allegedly backed by the Iranian government — have no plausible legal justification.

Jen Psaki, now the White House press secretary, tweeted after Trump bombed Syria in 2017: “Also what is the legal authority for strikes? Assad is a brutal dictator. But Syria is a sovereign country.” At the time, IPA put out a news release: “Attacking Syria ‘Impeachable.’” Boyle stated today: “There’s been a lot of clamor about the ‘rule of law’ by many Democratic Party officials over Trump’s second impeachment, but Biden’s bombing is also a violation of the War Powers Clause of the Constitution, Congress’s own War Powers Resolution and the UN Charter — so of course it is an impeachable offense. So, there’s no real fidelity to the rule of law, just partisan preference here. Biden, who was a critical backer of the illegal Iraq invasion, has predictably carried on with the wholesale military interventionism by the Obama/Biden administration.”

Boyle was legal adviser to Rep. Henry B. González and wrote the first draft of the González Impeachment Resolution in 1991. George H. W. Bush would later write in his memoirs that if the Gulf War “drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me.”

In 2017, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, and foreign policy speechwriter, told Politico that President Obama feared impeachment if he targeted the Syrian government.

Biden and the Money Behind the “Virtual Wall” with Mexico

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TODD MILLER, toddmemomiller@gmail.com, @memomiller
Miller is co-author of the just-released report “Biden’s Border — The border industry, the Democrats and the 2020 elections” co-published by the Transnational Institute, Mijente, and AFSC.

He said today: “President Joe Biden and Democratic candidates received more money than Donald Trump and Republicans from leading border security corporations despite their markedly different campaign promises and rhetoric. Biden himself received three times more in contributions ($5,364,994) than Trump ($1,730,435) from 13 leading border security and immigration detention firms. Overall, these companies donated over $40 million to both political parties but favored Democrats (55 percent) over Republicans (45 percent). These numbers suggest that the industry, which has traditionally favored Republicans, sought to ensure influence regardless of the election outcome and protect a lucrative industry worth $55.1 billion between 2008 and 2020.

“In the report ‘Biden’s Border — The border industry, the Democrats and the 2020 elections,’ we welcome key initiatives by the Biden administration to change course on border and immigration from Trump’s aggressive anti-immigrant policies. However, Biden’s support for a ‘virtual wall’ and ‘smart borders’ that depend more on surveillance technologies than physical wall construction is more profitable for this industry and would continue a long-standing bipartisan approach to border militarization. As a result of these policies in place since the mid 1990s, approximately 8,000 bodies have been recovered in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and many more people have disappeared or have been separated from their families.

“If Democrats truly want to oppose the cruelty and deadliness of this border and immigration enforcement apparatus, they will have to do much more than reverse Trump’s inhumane policies. They will have to challenge this entrenched and lucrative system, including the infrastructure and technology that facilitates it and the industry that thrives off it. They will have to challenge a complex of companies that finances their campaigns and lobbies their offices.”\

Miller is author of the books Empire of Borders:The Expansion of the U.S. Border Around the World (2019), Storming the Wall (2017), Border Patrol Nation (2014), and the forthcoming Build Bridges Not Walls (2021).

Weapons Biz Bankrolls Experts Pushing to Extend Afghan War

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ELI CLIFTON, [in NYC] , eliclifton@gmail.com@EliClifton@RStatecraft
Clifton is senior advisor at the Quincy Institute and investigative-journalist-at-large at Responsible Statecraft. He just wrote the piece “Weapons Biz Bankrolls Experts Pushing to Extend Afghan War,” which states: “Earlier this month, a study group established by Congress recommended that President Joe Biden extend the May 1 deadline for withdrawing troops from America’s longest war. It’s a strategy that many experts say runs the risk of abrogating the U.S.-Taliban agreement and potentially setting back the potential peace process in Afghanistan — or even dooming it to failure.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a striking similarity in the backgrounds of the individuals involved in these critical recommendations, which are likely to influence whether Biden maintains a ‘conditions based’ U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan. Two of the group’s three co-chairs and nine of the group’s 12 plenary members, comprised of what the group refers to as ‘members,’ have current or recent financial ties to major defense contractors, an industry that soaks up more than half of the $740 billion defense budget, and stands to gain from protracted U.S. military involvement overseas. …

“For example, Ret. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford was a co-chair of the Afghanistan Study Group. Dunford served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2015 to 2019, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Commander of all United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2013.

“He led the group alongside Kelly Ayotte, who represented New Hampshire in the Senate from 2011 to 2016, and Nancy Lindborg, the President and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

“Dunford and Ayotte have also used their expertise not just to advise the Biden administration on the Afghanistan War but to cash in with major defense contractors.

“Since 2017, Ayotte has served on the board of BAE Systems Inc., a subsidiary of the U.K. defense giant BAE Systems plc. Dunford, for his part, joined the board of Lockheed Martin last year. SEC filings show Dunford holds approximately $290,000 worth of stock as part of the ‘Lockheed Martin Directors Equity Plan,’ a scheme to award stock to directors in order to ‘further align their economic interests with the interests of stockholders generally.’

“Nine plenary group members also maintained deep ties to the weapons industry.

“Susan M. Gordon, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence from 2017 to 2019, collected $26,250 in cash from defense contractor CACI for her partial year’s work on its board in 2020 and reported holding approximately $160,000 in CACI stock.

“Stephen J. Hadley served as deputy national security adviser during George W. Bush’s first term, a role in which he offered his resignation due to his part in allowing faulty intelligence about Iraq’s pursuit of alleged nuclear weapons material from Niger to be included in the president’s 2003 State of the Union Address. Bush denied Hadley’s resignation request and Hadley went on to become national security adviser in 2005, leading a 2007 campaign to promote the troop surge in Iraq.

“After the Bush administration, Hadley cashed in, joining Raytheon’s board in 2010 and receiving nearly $2.6 million in cash and stock awards over the following nine years.”

World Said No to Iraq War, Backers of Invasion Now Running Policy

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STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu
Zunes is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on the Mideast. He said today: “Eighteen years ago today, tens of millions of people around the world, in the largest single protest event in history, came out against the incipient U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. I spoke before half a million people gathered in San Francisco. Every mainline Christian denomination, 90 percent of Mideast scholars, and the vast majority of the world’s governments were saying no to war. The following current U.S. office-holders, however, insisted we were all wrong and that Bush and Cheney were right:
Joe Biden (President)
Anthony Blinken (Secretary of State)
Chuck Schumer (Senate Majority Leader)
Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader)
Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader)
Kevin McCarthy (House Minority Leader)

“In other words, current leaders of both the executive and legislative branches have demonstrated their belief that the United States somehow has the right to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that is no threat to us despite being warned of the disastrous humanitarian, strategic, fiscal, and environmental consequences. People like that should not be in positions of power. Don’t think for a moment they won’t try to get us into another war. (And they all insist we should still have combat troops in Iraq 18 years later.)”

Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War, but Will He?

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SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, @shireen818
Al-Adeimi an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. Since 2015, she has played an active role in raising awareness about the Saudi-led war on her country of birth, Yemen, and works to encourage political action to end U.S. support.

She just wrote the piece “Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War — But It’s Too Soon to Celebrate” for In These Times. She gives Biden credit for positive moves, but scrutinizes his speech at the State Department yesterday in which he said: “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen including relevant arms sales. … At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks and UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries. We are going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
But Al-Adeimi notes: “Unfortunately, qualifiers like ‘offensive’ and ‘relevant’ do not signal a clear commitment to ending all forms of support for the U.S. war in Yemen, which includes targeting assistance, weapons sales (the U.S. is the largest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia), logistics, training, and intelligence sharing with the Saudi-led coalition. Labeling Yemen’s Houthis as ‘Iranian supplied forces,’ and making a commitment to defending Saudi Arabia’s ‘sovereignty,’ echoes President Obama’s initial pretense for entering the war on Yemen in 2015. …

“Importantly, [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan noted that ending the war in Yemen ‘does not extend to actions against AQAP,’ or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While sanctioned by the [2001] AUMF [which is continuing to be used to justify attacks in many countries], it’s important to oppose this parallel U.S.-led war in Yemen that has also led to the killing of civilians.

“Now, more than ever, it is vital to hold a firm line about what a real end to U.S. participation in the Yemen war means: an end to all U.S. assistance, including intelligence sharing, logistical help, training, providing spare parts transfers for warplanes, bomb targeting, weapons sales and support for the naval blockade (we still don’t know the full extent of U.S. support for the latter). It also requires that the United States immediately reverse the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), a determination that is cutting off critical aid to northern Yemen and significantly escalating the crisis of mass starvation.

“Because these things have not yet come to pass, it is critical to keep up the pressure until the war is really ended. As much as we might welcome positive messaging – no doubt a result of the pressure exerted by dogged organizers – we must not rest until we have won actual material relief. …

“The Obama-Biden administration made numerous announcements in 2012 and 2013 that it would end the U.S. war in Afghanistan by 2014. But we saw that declarations do not, in themselves, end U.S. aggression. This principle especially applies when declarations are loaded with red-flag-raising qualifiers like ‘offensive operations’ and ‘relevant weapons systems.'”

Nonviolent Resistance to Myanmar Coup

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MICHAEL BEER, michael@nonviolenceinternational.net, @NVIntl
Executive director of Nonviolence International, Beer has been to Myanmar many times and has worked for 30 years supporting the nonviolent campaigns for peace, justice, and democracy in the country. He is in contact with activists there, many of whom are afraid to speak publicly.

He said today: “The people of Myanmar are resisting the military coup d’etat. Government doctors are going on strike. Myanmar citizens responded last night by engaging in a mass nonviolent tactic of caceleroza which involves the banging of pots and pans. Many governments, including South East Asian nations, are protesting. Ethnic minorities in the country are united in opposition. World-wide, citizens are planning to re-launch global boycotts. This coup will not succeed if enough pressure can be brought upon the coup plotters.

“Despite the overwhelming electoral defeat of the military’s political party, the military has copied U.S. former president Trump’s strategy of criticizing the validity of the election and are now trying to overturn the election. This may have been prompted by the military leader’s fear of losing power as a civilian where his vast wealth might be at risk.

“People around the world are sickened by the coup d’etat in Myanmar by the rapacious Burmese military. Despite having enormous power in the country, they were not satisfied with sharing power with a civilian government but decided to return to their long-standing practice of ruling the country for the benefit of themselves.”

Biden Playing “Trump Card” Against Iran

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GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50@gmail.com@GarethPorter

Investigative reporter Porter just wrote the piece “Biden Admin’s Coercive Iran Policy Threatens Serious New Regional Crisis” for the Grayzone.

Porter writes:  “A close analysis of recent statements by members of President Joseph Biden’s foreign policy team indicates his administration has already signaled its intention to treat negotiations with Iran as an exercise in diplomatic coercion aimed at forcing major new concessions extending well beyond the 2015 nuclear agreement. The policy could trigger a renewed U.S.-Iran crisis as serious as any provocation engineered by the Trump administration.

“Although the Biden team is claiming that it is ready to bring the United States back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran comes into full compliance first, it is actually planning to demand that Iran give up its main source of political leverage. Thus, it will require Iran to cease its uranium enrichment to 20 percent and give up its accumulated stockpile of uranium already enriched to that level before the United States has withdrawn the economic sanctions that are now illegal under the JCPOA deal.

“Meanwhile, the Biden team is planning to hold on to what it apparently sees as its ‘Trump card’ — the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran oil exports that have gutted the Iranian economy. …

“By piling up onerous demands while offering few concessions of its own, the new administration conveys the clear message that it is in no hurry to return to the JCPOA. Secretary of State of Tony Blinken stated in his confirmation testimony that the Biden administration was ‘a long way’ from returning to the deal and said nothing about reversing any of the sanctions that were introduced or reintroduced by the Trump administration after it quit the agreement.”

Porter’s books include: Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Calls for Biden to End the War on Yemen

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JEHAN HAKIM, yemenialliancecommittee@gmail.com@jehan_hakim
Hakim is chair of the Yemeni Alliance Committee, one of hundreds of organizations which are backing a push Monday against the war in Yemen. They state: “Since 2015, the Saudi-led bombing and blockade of Yemen have killed tens of thousands of people and devastated the country. The UN. calls this the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth. Half the country’s people are on the brink of famine, the country has the world’s worst cholera outbreak in modern history, and now Yemen has one of the very worst COVID death rates in the world. …

“And yet Saudi Arabia is escalating its war and tightening its blockade.

“The war is only possible because Western countries — and the United States and Britain in particular — continue to arm Saudi Arabia and provide military, political and logistical support for the war. The Western powers are active participants and have the power to stop the world’s most acute human crisis.

“The disaster in Yemen is man-made. It is caused by the war and blockade. It can be ended.”

Danny Glover (actor), Rep. Ro Khanna, Daniele Obono (French National Assembly member), Yanis Varoufakis (MeRA25 secretary general), Cornel West, and many others will participate in a global online rally: “World Says No to War on Yemen.”

Hakim also stated that Biden should end support for the war in Yemen and urged him to contemplate Trump’s signing of weapons deals with Gulf states. See resource page on Yemen, which included articles such as “Joe Biden Said He’s Against the Yemen War. He Needs To End It on Day One.”

ISACC EVANS-FRANTZ, isaacef@yahoo.com@actioncorpsnyc
Isaac Evans-Frantz is with Action Corps, which has focused on Yemen and has helped lead protests in New York City.

Biden Continuing Trump’s Targeting of Venezuela

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Reuters reports: “Biden will recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, top diplomat says.”

AP reports: “Carlos Vecchio, [Trump-backed opposition leader Juan] Guaidó’s envoy in Washington who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, tweeted photos of himself at Biden’s inauguration. The invitation to attend was touted by Venezuela’s opposition as evidence the Biden administration will continue its strong support and resist entreaties by Maduro for dialogue that the U.S. has strenuously rejected until now.”

STEVE ELLNER, sellner74@gmail.com
Ellner is an associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives. He is the editor of the recently published book Latin American Extractivism: Dependency, Resource Nationalism and Resistance in Broad Perspectives

He said today: “In spite of claims to the contrary, the Biden foreign policy team is not breaking with the Trump administration in its policy toward Venezuela. … The Biden people claim that their plans to enlist the support of allies is an innovation in that it corrects Trump’s go-it-alone approach toward Venezuela. In fact, Trump did seek and attain the support of over 50 nations (hardly a majority in the UN’s General Assembly) by taking advantage of the fact that much of Europe and Latin America was in the hands of conservative and right-wing leaders.

“In addition,” said Ellner, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken has indicated that “the Biden administration will provide Venezuela with much-needed humanitarian assistance. The Trump administration, however, also extended Venezuela humanitarian aid. But it was channeled through the parallel government of Juan Guaidó resulting in multiple denunciations of misuse of funds — not to say blatant acts of corruption — by members of his team who resigned in protest.

“Blinken also claims Biden will embark on a new course in that it will ‘more effectively target’ sanctions. Exactly what this means is unclear, but decades of the use of sanctions throughout the world demonstrate that, regardless of intent, the real victims of sanctions are the entire population. Even the Trump administration announced that the supply of medicine and food would not be affected but in fact it was. Everyone in the global commercial chain feared reprisals if they had any interaction at all with Venezuelan companies, both private and state-owned.

“Far from regime change, the starting point of U.S. policy toward Venezuela has to be recognizing Nicolás Maduro as the nation’s legitimate president. There may have been some irregularities in the Venezuelan presidential elections of 2018, as there have been in U.S. electoral contests, but there was no credible evidence of the votes not getting counted correctly, that is, electoral fraud. The commercial media’s uncritical employment of the term ‘authoritarian’ and ‘dictator’ to refer to Maduro is nothing short of deceptive and it ignores context, namely the multiple violent attempts to remove him, even physically.

“Maduro has clearly indicated his interest in negotiations with the U.S. and of late has expressed willingness to make concessions specifically regarding the release of several jailed U.S. citizens. He has also recently indicated his openness to concessions on the economic front.”

Will Biden Continue Bombings?

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As thousands of troops were deployed to Washington, D.C. during Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Silvester Beaman gave the benediction, saying: “We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies. People, your people, should no longer raise up weapons against each other. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and goodwill to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred anymore. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid.”

As of a few days ago, the U.S. government has now been bombing Iraq for 30 years.

Chris Wood of airwars.org just tweeted: “Amid discussions about what Biden’s foreign policy might look like, it’s worth noting that he’ll be inheriting U.S. military actions at a post-9/11 low. The U.S. declared around 1,000 strikes last year across four theatres — down from 13,000 under Obama in 2016. … Given this low level of U.S. military engagement there’s clearly an opportunity for the incoming Biden administration radically to rethink overseas actions.”

See Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Biden Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken about the U.S. government’s wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Mali and numerous other countries.

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is a peace activist and author working to end U.S. military and economic wars. She just wrote the piece “About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen” which states: ” Yemeni children are not ‘starving children;’ they are being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have decimated the country. The United States is supplying devastating weaponry and diplomatic support to the Saudi-led coalition, while additionally launching its own ‘selective’ aerial attacks against suspected terrorists and all the civilians in those suspects’ vicinity.” AFP reports that Blinken stated yesterday, regarding support for Saudi Arabia’s attacks: “our support should end.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com@davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was just on an accuracy.org news release on Blinken.