Review of “Proof of Conspiracy”

Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy

Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy by Seth Abramson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A gripping, monumental book in this time of Pres. Trump’s unparalleled avarice and treachery …

The author goes to great lengths to detail every credible news report which came out during spring 2019 and before that which covered trump & company’s malfeasance, corruption, and infidelity to the truth. The end notes (reporting citations) are so large that it requires accessing a six megabyte pdf on the publisher’s Website.

I walked away from this book with more knowledge about what Trump and his minions are and also were up to before trump’s election. This, after reading the author’s previous study of trump called “Proof of Collusion”.

It is astounding that one leader and his adherents can be so maligned as to change the course of US history. That is the world of trump and the author Seth Abramson knows it very well. Highly recommended reading!

View all my reviews

Stop Endless Wars

The Only Way to End ‘Endless War

First, America has to give up its pursuit of global dominance.

By Stephen Wertheim

Dr. Wertheim is a historian who writes about American foreign policy.

“We have got to put an end to endless war,” declared Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., during the Democratic presidential primary debate on Thursday. It was a surefire applause line: Many people consider “endless war” to be the central problem for American foreign policy.

Even President Trump, the target of Mr. Buttigieg’s attack, seems to agree. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he announced in his latest State of the Union.

But vowing to end America’s interminable military adventures doesn’t make it so.

Four years ago, President Barack Obama denounced“the idea of endless war” even as he announced that ground troops would remain in Afghanistan. In his last year in office, the United States dropped an estimated 26,172 bombs on seven countries.

President Trump, despite criticizing Middle East wars, has intensified existing interventions and threatened to start new ones. He has abetted the Saudi-led war in Yemen, in defiance of Congress. He has put America perpetually on the brink with Iran. And he has lavished billions extra on a Pentagon that already outspends the world’s seven next largest militaries combined.

What would it mean to actually bring endless war to a close?

Like the demand to tame the 1 percent, or the insistence that black lives matter, ending endless war sounds commonsensical but its implications are transformational. It requires more than bringing ground troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. American war-making will persist so long as the United States continues to seek military dominance across the globe. Dominance, assumed to ensure peace, in fact guarantees war. To get serious about stopping endless war, American leaders must do what they most resist: end America’s commitment to armed supremacy and embrace a world of pluralism and peace.

In May, Vice President Mike Pence told graduating cadets at West Point: “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.” Mr. Pence enumerated the potential fronts: the greater Middle East, the Indo-Pacific, Europe, the Western Hemisphere. He had a point. So long as the United States seeks military domination everywhere, it will fight somewhere.

In theory, armed supremacy could foster peace. Facing overwhelming force, who would dare to defy American wishes? That was the hope of Pentagon planners in 1992; they reacted to the collapse of America’s Cold War adversary not by pulling back but by pursuing even greater military pre-eminence. But the quarter-century that followed showed the opposite to prevail in practice. Freed from one big enemy, the United States found many smaller enemies: It has launched far more military interventions since the Cold War than during the “twilight struggle” itself. Of all its interventions since 1946, roughly 80 percent have taken place after 1991.

Why have interventions proliferated as challengers have shrunk? The basic cause is America’s infatuation with military force. Its political class imagines that force will advance any aim, limiting debate to what that aim should be. Continued gains by the Taliban, 18 years after the United States initially toppled it, suggest a different principle: The profligate deployment of force creates new and unnecessary objectives more than it realizes existing and worthy ones.

In the Middle East, endless war began when the United States first stationed troops permanently in the region after winning the Persian Gulf war in 1991. A circular logic took hold. The United States created its own dependence on allies that hosted and assisted American forces. It provoked states, terrorists and militias that opposed its presence. Among the results: The United States has bombed Iraq almost every year since 1991 and spent an estimated $6 trillion on post-9/11 wars.

An even deadlier phase may be dawning. Because the United States pursues armed dominance as a self-evident good, the establishment feels threatened by a rising China and an assertive Russia. “Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific,” Mr. Pence told the cadets, noting that “an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region.” But China’s rise invalidates primacy’s rationale of deterrence, and shows that other powers have ambitions of their own. Addressing the rise of China responsibly will require abandoning nostalgia for the pre-eminence that America enjoyed during the 1990s.

Despite Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about ending endless wars, the president insists that “our military dominance must be unquestioned” — even though no one believes he has a strategy to use power or a theory to bring peace. Armed domination has become an end in itself. Which means Americans face a choice: Either they should openly espouse endless war, or they should chart a new course.

As an American and an internationalist, I choose the latter. Rather than chase an illusory dominance, the United States should pursue the safety and welfare of its people while respecting the rights and dignity of all. In the 21st century, finally rid of colonial empires and Cold War antagonism, America has the opportunity to practice responsible statecraft, directed toward the promotion of peace. Responsible statecraft will oppose the war-making of others, but it will make sure, first and foremost, that America is not fueling violence.

On its own initiative, the United States can proudly bring home many of its soldiers currently serving in 800 bases ringing the globe, leaving small forces to protect commercial sea lanes. It can reorient its military, prioritizing deterrence and defense over power projection. It can stop the obscenity that America sends more weapons into the world than does any other country. It can reserve armed intervention, and warlike sanctions, for purposes that are essential, legal and rare.

Shrinking the military’s footprint will deprive presidents of the temptation to answer every problem with a violent solution. It will enable genuine engagement in the world, making diplomacy more effective, not less. As the United States stops being a party to every conflict, it can start being a party to resolving conflicts. President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and, to a lesser extent, President Trump’s opening with North Korea suggest that historical enmities can be overcome. Still, these steps have not gone far enough to normalize relations and allow us to get on with living together in a world whose chief dangers — climate change, disease, deprivation — cross borders and require cooperation.

Hawks will retort that lowering America’s military profile will plunge the world into a hostile power’s arms. They are projecting, assuming that one rival will covet and attain the kind of armed domination that has served America poorly. Russia, with an economy the size of Italy’s, cannot rule Europe, whatever it desires. China bears watching but has so far focused its military on denying access to its coasts and mainland. It is a long way from undertaking a costly bid for primacy in East Asia, let alone the world.

In any case, local states are likely to step up if the American military pulls back. The world conjured by the Washington establishment is an empty space, a “power vacuum,” waiting passively to be led. The real world is full of people ready to safeguard their freedom. Today a world with less American militarism is likely to have less militarism in general.

Hawks also warn that restraint will produce chaos, dooming the “rules-based,” “liberal international order.”Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, President Trump’s envoy for Syria, recently told a version of this tale when he pounded the table in anger at Americans’ objections to “endless war.” “Literally scores and scores of American military operations,” he said, “undergird this global security regime and thus undergird the American and Western and U.N. values system.”

But there’s a reason no one can connect the dots from unceasing interventions to a system of law and order. After decades of unilateral actions, crowned by the aggressive invasion of Iraq, it is U.S. military power that threatens international law and order. Rules should strengthen through cooperation, not wither through imposition.

In truth, the largest obstacle to ending endless war is self-imposed. Long told that the United States is the world’s “indispensable nation,” the American people have been denied a choice and have almost stopped demanding one. A global superpower — waging endless war — is just “who we are.”

But it is for the people to decide who we are, guided by the best of what we have been. America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” Secretary of State John Quincy Adams said in 1821. “She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

Two centuries later, in the age of Trump, endless war has come home. Cease this folly, and America can begin to take responsibility in the world and reclaim its civic peace.

Stephen Wertheim (@stephenwertheim), a research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, is a co-founder and research director of the Quincy Institute.

Further Proof of Conspiracy

The Prince of Abu Dhabi (MbZ) bid against Saudi Arabia’s Prince MbS on an art painting, raising it to $350 million. Oddly, that is the exact amount the trump admin’s Carter Page has invested for RD Heritage Group.

The art painting proceeds end up in the pocket of Russian agent Dmitry Rybolovlev.

… Rybolovlev got a percentage of the December 2016 sale of the Kremlin’s oil company Rosneft transferred through Page to Trump.

Remembering 9/11

I respect the fact that people grieve for the fallen and still living 9/11 First Responders and victims. Any effort that asks hard questions about the military plans, global assessments, and general policies behind what basically allowed 9/11 to happen should not disparage that personal sacrifice. They certainly didn’t know that that would happen.

For those who think there was suspicious activity around the WTC area before 9/11–why did WTC7 fall? To begin to answer that, you need to look at how they do hodge-podge real estate deals on a large scale back east with some buildings. There’s some odd ownership arrangements because some rich people, despite being wealthy, really get into hock (debt).

Incidentally, Saudi Arabia’s MbS has bought heavily into the Trump admin’s Jared Kushner’s 666 Fifth Ave. The way Trump is presently behaving toward UAE and Saudi Arabia suggest that he’s given the adviser Kushner too much executive latitude to decide things based in part on personal favors the Saudi Crown Prince has paid to Kushner’s real estate business in the past (getting Tillerson fired over stopping the Qatar blockade, et cetera).

I’d say about 85% of 9/11 happened because of terrorists and unexpected pre-planned activities. However a portion or overlay of those overall activities (15%) occurred with people in government knowing about parts of it in advance–like the FBI getting strong hints and the CIA/NSA sifting through digital chatter. The problem was, compartmentalization and restriction in our government was perhaps too high to break some of that truth out in time. Perhaps it was instead 80% known/20% unverified? Hard to know unless you were a member of the IC and they don’t talk (much).

We won’t ever know if WTC7 was a controlled demolition or if it was really affected by the explosion from the nearby towers. We also won’t know how a commercial plane got past the Pentagon’s air defenses on that fateful day.

I am hesitant to use “false flag” attack because that means something very specific in war. It is known however that America’s NORAD was somewhat engaged in training exercises on that day, simulating terrorist attacks somewhere on their collective radar screens for the military’s benefit while the real ones began on that morning.

What *is* known is 15/19 attackers were Saudi Arabian and critical pages digging into knowledge about Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks were redacted from the final 9/11 Commission’s Report.

I’m no conspiracy theorist but I think 9/11 left some intelligent people thinking twice or thrice up to this very day. Everyone wants to feel protected and secure in their possessions. Now that the hawkish Ambassador Bolton is gone, a burdensome counterweight to his onerous position may have been finally removed.

Trump caught in another lie about Turnberry

Trump is the lowest of mortals:

WASHINGTON — Back in 2014, soon after acquiring a golf resort in Scotland, Donald J. Trump entered a partnership with a struggling local airport there to increase air traffic and boost tourism in the region.

The next year, as Mr. Trump began running for president, the Pentagon decided to ramp up its use of that same airport to refuel Air Force flights and gave the local airport authority the job of helping to find accommodations for flight crews who had to remain overnight.

Those two separate arrangements have now intersected in ways that provide the latest evidence of how Mr. Trump’s continued ownership of his business produces regular ethical questions.

On Monday, President Trump sought to tamp down a growing controversy over a stay at the resort by United States military personnel who were traveling through the airport in Scotland in March. First on Twitter and later speaking to reporters at the White House, he said he was not involved in any decision to put an Air Force flight crew at the resort, known as Trump Turnberry.

“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!),” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

But documents obtained from Scottish government agencies show that the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump himself, played a direct role in setting up an arrangement between the Turnberry resort and officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The government records, released through Scottish Freedom of Information law, show that the Trump organization, starting in 2014, entered a partnership with the airport to try to increase private and commercial air traffic to the region.

As part of that arrangement, the Trump Organization worked to get Trump Turnberry added to a list of hotels that the airport would routinely send aircrews to, even though the Turnberry resort is 20 miles from the airport, farther away than many other hotels, and has higher advertised prices.

Trump Organization executives held a series of meetings with the airport officials to negotiate terms that would lead to more referrals, the documents show.

“As a list of hotels that we use for our business, being honest, Turnberry was always last on the list, based on price,” Jules Matteoni, a manager at Glasgow Prestwick, wrote in June 2015 to executives at Trump Turnberry. “Yesterday’s proposal places Turnberry in a favorable position and gives us food for thought in our placement of crews moving forward.”

Mr. Trump visited Glasgow Prestwick in 2014 and promised to help increase traffic at the airport, although at the time he was largely referring to plans to drive corporate jets there and attract other commercial traffic perhaps carrying golfers on the way to his resort.

“Forging a new partnership between the airport and the Trump Organization will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial,” Iain Cochrane, then the chief executive of the airport, said at the time of Mr. Trump’s visit.

The documents detailing these conversations were previously obtained by reporters in Scotland, including The Scotsman and The Guardian, who wrote articles about the relationship between the Prestwick airport and the Trump Organization. The documents are still posted on the Scottish government website.

Both the Defense Department and executives at the airport confirmed on Monday that the airport also has a separate arrangement with the United States Air Force. Under that arrangement, the Scottish airport not only refuels American military planes but also helps arrange hotel accommodations for arriving crews, as it does for some civilian and commercial aircraft.

“We provide a full handling service for customers and routinely arrange overnight accommodation for visiting aircrew when requested,” the Prestwick airport said in a statement on Monday. “We use over a dozen local hotels, including Trump Turnberry, which accounts for a small percentage of the total hotel bookings we make.”

It was through the arrangement with the Pentagon that a seven-person United States Air Force crew ended up staying at the Trump Turnberry in March. An Air Force C-17 military transport plane was on its way from Alaska to Kuwait when it stopped at Prestwick overnight to refuel and give the crew a break.

The crew, which consisted of active duty and national guard members from Alaska, was charged $136 per room, which was less expensive than a Marriott property’s rate of $161. And both were under the per diem rate of $166.

“A local agent on contract with the U.S. government assisted with the reservations and indicated that there wasn’t a room available closer to Prestwick airport,” the Air Force said in a statement. A Defense Department official added on Monday that “yes — the Air Force relies on a contracted representative at the Prestwick airport to support our aircrew needs.”

The number of such stops by Air Force planes at Prestwick rose from 180 in 2017 to 257 last year and 259 so far this year. The 259 stops this year included 220 overnight stays. Since October 2017, records show 917 payments for expenses including fuel at the airport worth a total of $17.2 million.

Air Force officials could not say on Monday how many times military crews had been sent to Trump Turnberry, but added that they are now going through vouchers to come up with such a count.

Lt. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, the deputy commander of the Air Force Air Mobility Command, said in an interview on Monday that the rising number of military stopovers at Prestwick was entirely based on operational demands, as the airport is in a convenient location, has 24-hour operations and offers ample aircraft parking, among other advantages. He added that the Air Force has been using Prestwick for stopovers since at least the late 1990s.

But he agreed that the decision to place Air Force crew members at a hotel owned by Mr. Trump’s family had created questions that the Defense Department needed to address. As a result, the Air Force is now reviewing policies on where crews are put up in hotels during international trips.

“Let’s make sure we are considering potential for misperception that could be created by where we billet the aircrews,” he said. “It is a reasonable ask for us to make sure we are being sensitive to misperceptions that could be formed by the American people or Congress or anyone else.”

Mr. Trump disputed that there were any legitimate questions about the stay by the Air Force crew, suggesting that he was so wealthy that the business was inconsequential to him.

“I don’t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel,” Mr. Trump said.

He also dismissed suggestions that he was profiting when Vice President Mike Pence recently spent two nights at the Trump family’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland.

“So what is happening is the following: Every time you find a person landing in an airplane within 500 miles of something I own, Mike Pence, as an example, his family lives in Doonbeg, Ireland,” Mr. Trump said, rejecting these questions as unfounded.

Trump bungles Afghanistan royally

Did trump really invite the Taliban to Camp David? Seems not plausible.

[NY Times] WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Saturday that he had canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan and was calling off monthslong negotiations that had appeared to be nearing a peace agreement.

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone,” Mr. Trump wrote in a series of tweets, Taliban leaders and the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, were headed to the United States on Saturday for what would have been a politically electrified meeting at the president’s official Camp David retreat in Maryland.

But Mr. Trump said that “in order to build false leverage,” the Taliban had admitted to a suicide car bomb attack on Thursday that had killed an American soldier and 11 others in the capital of Kabul. “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” he wrote.

“If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway,” Mr. Trump added. “How many more decades are they willing to fight?”

Mr. Trump’s announcement was startling for multiple reasons. A surprise summit at Camp David with leaders of an insurgent group that has killed thousands of Americans since the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan would have been a sensational diplomatic gambit, on par with Mr. Trump’s meetings with the once-reclusive North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. A senior administration official said the meeting had been planned for Monday, just two days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which were plotted from Afghanistan and led to the United States’ invasion of the country.

The move also appears to scuttle — for now — Mr. Trump’s longstanding hope to deliver on a campaign promise to withdraw American troops from an 18-year conflict that he has called an aimless boondoggle. It comes amid stubborn resistance within Afghanistan’s government about the emerging agreement, not only for security reasons but because Mr. Ghani has been determined to preserve a planned Sept. 28 election, which he is favored to win. The Taliban have insisted on postponing the election before proceeding with negotiations with the Afghan government.

Several people familiar with the diplomacy between the Trump administration and the Taliban puzzled over Mr. Trump’s stated decision to cancel peace negotiations entirely in response to one American casualty, however tragic. The Taliban had not agreed to halt their attacks on Americans in advance of a formal agreement. That raised the question of whether Mr. Trump might have been looking for a pretext because the talks had run into trouble.

Many other details of the scrapped Camp David meeting were unclear on Saturday night. The senior Trump administration official said the decision to cancel the meeting had been made on Thursday, but that Mr. Trump had delayed his announcement. On Friday, Afghan officials confirmed that Mr. Ghani postponed a planned meeting in Washington. One person familiar with the diplomacy said that the plan for a Taliban visit to Washington had not been under discussion until about a week ago.

It was also unclear whether Mr. Trump’s halt to the peace negotiations would be permanent. The president has reversed such decisions in short order before. In May 2018, for instance, he abruptly canceled his second summit with Mr. Kim, only to reschedule it days later. But several people familiar with the Afghan talks said on Saturday that it could be difficult to restart them.

The negotiations have been underway since last winter, when Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, began regular trips to Doha, Qatar, for grueling sessions with Taliban representatives. United States and foreign officials said that the talks had reached an advanced stage and, until Saturday night, that an agreement with the Pashtun insurgent group that once harbored the Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was close at hand.

In nine rounds of negotiations, Mr. Khalilzad painstakingly worked toward what would be a phased peace agreement — initially a deal between the United States and the Taliban that would open the door for direct negotiations between the Afghan sides, before all of it comes together into a final Afghan peace deal.

Mr. Khalilzad has pledged to draw down American military troops in exchange for a partial cease-fire by the Taliban. In a recent interview with the Afghan channel ToloNews, he said 5,400 United States forces would leave Afghanistan within 135 days after the agreement is signed.

That agreement would initially only reduce the number of American troops to about what it was when Mr. Trump took office in 2017.

As for the remaining 8,600 American forces, they would leave according to a gradual timeline that officials said could be within 16 months.

That would allow Mr. Trump, who has been routinely critical of expensive American interventions in the Muslim world, to declare that he had ended a long conflict that has grown unpopular and obscure with the American public, and to boast that he had achieved an outcome his predecessor, President Barack Obama, sought in vain.

The reality could be more complicated. Mr. Trump has hinted that the United States would retain “strong intelligence” in the country, language that some experts believe to describe plans for a robust presence of armed C.I.A. operatives. And even if an initial deal with the Taliban were to be reached, its enforcement could face numerous pitfalls.

Critics of the nascent agreement — including the former American commander in Afghanistan, the retired Army general, David H. Petraeus — have warned that it could lead to the return of Al Qaeda. Several have invoked the cautionary example of Mr. Obama’s troop withdrawal from Iraq, which many national security experts blame for the 2014 emergence of the Islamic State in that country.

And in a Sept. 3 statement published by the Atlantic Council, nine former senior American diplomats with extensive experience in Afghanistan warned that a “major withdrawal of U.S. forces should follow, not come in advance of real peace agreement.” Anarchy in Afghanistan after a premature American exit “could prove catastrophic for U.S. national security” and would “underscore to potential enemies that the United States and its allies are not reliable,” the statement said.

Such critics have pointed to a recent wave of Taliban attacks as a sign that the insurgent group cannot set aside violence. The bombing cited by the president involved a car bomb detonated on Thursday at a checkpoint near the American Embassy in Kabul.

Afghan government officials who have been briefed on the negotiations privately said Mr. Khalilzad did not force enough concessions from the Taliban to ensure stability as the American military leaves Afghanistan.

One official said the agreement between Mr. Khalilzad and the Taliban will not assure national elections on Sept. 28, as Mr. Ghani has demanded. Rather than requiring a nationwide cease-fire, it calls for a reduction of violence in Kabul and Parwan. And, the Afghan government official said, it may allow the Taliban to continue referring to itself in official conduct as the “Islamic Emirate” — as it did when the extremist group was ruling Afghanistan with fear.

If anything, said one Afghan official, the negotiations appear to have only emboldened the Taliban. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to more frankly discuss the closed-door briefings.

“They are much more emboldened and they have a chance to take over,” the Afghan official said on Wednesday.

Hours after the Thursday bombing in Kabul, Mr. Khalilzad and the top commander in Kabul arrived for a surprise meeting with the Taliban in Doha. They went straight into unexpected and unannounced talks that lasted into the early morning.

At the time, it was unclear what they were negotiating when the special envoy had declared the agreement was final “in principle.” Officials refused to confirm that it was related to the uptick in violence, but now it seems to have been a last-minute effort to salvage the process.

One Western official said a deal had been nearly at hand but appeared to have been jeopardized by showmanship. Now it has created an environment where the Taliban, as well as a skeptical region that includes Iran and Russia, will conclude that no process with the Americans can be trusted, the official said.

“So what comes next in terms of strategic policy options? The two main ones seem to be either keeping the current troop footprint in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, which Trump clearly doesn’t want to do, or start to draw down anyway, but thus without getting any concessions for it,” said Dan Feldman, who served as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Obama administration. “That seems like the worst possible result — withdrawing immediately and irresponsibly, leaving both a security and political vacuum.”