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The American
Empire Project

Americans have long believed that the very notion of empire is an offense against our democratic heritage, yet in recent months, these two words -- American empire -- have been on everyone's lips. At this moment of unprecedented economic and military strength, the leaders of the United States have embraced imperial ambitions openly. How did we get to this point? And what lies down the road? Read more about The American Empire Project>>
 
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The Books

Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World by David VineBase Nation
How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World
by David Vine

Now Available!


No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes by
Anand GopalNo Good Men Among the Living
America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
by Anand Gopal

Now Available!


Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their CountryBreach of Trust
How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country
by Andrew Bacevich

Now Available!


Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire By Noam Chomsky and David BarsamianPower Systems
Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire
by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

Now Available!


Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Nick TurseKill Anything That Moves
The Real American War in Vietnam
by Nick Turse

Now Available!


Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War by Andrew BacevichWe Meant Well
How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
by Peter Van Buren

Now Available!


Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War by Andrew BacevichIdeal Illusions
How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights
by James Peck

Now Available!


Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War by Andrew BacevichWashington Rules
America's Path to Permanent War
by Andrew Bacevich

Now Available!


Dismantling The Empire: America's Last Best Hope by Chalmers JohnsonDismantling The Empire
America's Last Best Hope
by Chalmers Johnson

Now Available!


The Limits Of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew BacevichThe Limits Of Power
The End of American Exceptionalism
by Andrew Bacevich

Now available!


Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World by Noam ChomskyImperial Ambitions

Conversations on the Post-9/11 World
by Noam Chomsky

Now available!


Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism by Greg GrandinEmpire's Workshop
Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism
by Greg Grandin

Now available!


A Question Of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror by Alfred McCoyA Question of Torture
CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror
by Alfred McCoy

Now available!

Alfred McCoy on How Not to Ban Torture in Congress


Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency by Michael KlareBlood and Oil
The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency
by Michael T. Klare

Now available in paperback, including a new afterword!

 

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News from The American Empire Project
No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes by
Anand Gopal

New From The American Empire Project

Base Nation
How U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Harm America and the World

by
David Vine

From Italy to the Indian Ocean, from Japan to Honduras, a far-reaching examination of the perils of American military bases overseas

Read more about Base Nation

The American Empire Project Blog

“The Iranian Threat”
Who Is the Gravest Danger to World Peace?

By Noam Chomsky

Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”
8/20/2015

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Double-Dip Oil Rout
Why an Oil Glut May Lead to a New World of Energy

By Michael T. Klare

The plunge of global oil prices began in June 2014, when benchmark Brent crude was selling at $114 per barrel. It hit bottom at $46 this January, a near-collapse widely viewed as a major but temporary calamity for the energy industry.  Such low prices were expected to force many high-cost operators, especially American shale oil producers, out of the market, while stoking fresh demand and so pushing those numbers back up again.  When Brent rose to $66 per barrel this May, many oil industry executives breathed a sigh of relief.  The worst was over.  The price had “reached a bottom” and it “doesn’t look like it is going back,” a senior Saudi official observed at the time.

8/13/2015

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Documenting Violence
Video Recordings and the Hidden Forms of Police Violence

By Gabriel Urza

In the wake of the ever-growing number of videos surfacing which document the physical abuses suffered by persons of color at the hands of police officers, the role of video in documenting this type of violence has been a subject of debate.

Several commentators have written artfully about the threat of violence and death at the hands of law enforcement felt by persons of color in even the most day-to-day activities, arguing that video footage may capture injustice, but should not be considered an effective tool in preventing it. They argue that in the deaths of Tamir Rice and Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, video footage documents the vulnerability that people of color experience at the hands of law enforcement, but can offer only an impotent rage. As if to prove this point, the video of Samuel DuBose’s killing by a University of Cincinnati police officer fills my computer screen this afternoon. But I feel compelled to address the efficacy of video footage in these circumstances, for two reasons.

8/11/2015

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The Balance of Power in the Middle East Just Changed
U.S.-Iranian Relations Emerge from a 30-Year Cold War

By Peter Van Buren

Don't sweat the details of the July nuclear accord between the United States and Iran. What matters is that the calculus of power in the Middle East just changed in significant ways.

Washington and Tehran announced their nuclear agreement on July 14th and yes, some of the details are still classified. Of course the Obama administration negotiated alongside China, Russia, Great Britain, France, and Germany, which means Iran and five other governments must approve the detailed 159-page “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” The U.N., which also had to sign off on the deal, has already agreed to measures to end its sanctions against Iran.

7/28/2015

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The Confederate Flag at War
(But Not the Civil War)

By Greg Grandin

The Pentagon just can’t let go. In the wake of the Charleston Massacre, Amazon and Walmart have announced that they will no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. Ebay says it will stop offering Confederate items for electronic auction. Mississippi's Republican speaker of the house calls his state flag, which includes the Stars and Bars in the top left corner, “a point of offense that needs to be removed.” Even Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, agrees that a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in his state's capitol building belongs in a museum.

7/8/2015

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Russia vs. China
The Conflict in Washington Over Who Should Lead America’s Enemies List

By Michael T. Klare

America’s grand strategy, its long-term blueprint for advancing national interests and countering major adversaries, is in total disarray. Top officials lurch from crisis to crisis, improvising strategies as they go, but rarely pursuing a consistent set of policies. Some blame this indecisiveness on a lack of resolve at the White House, but the real reason lies deeper. It lurks in a disagreement among foreign policy elites over whether Russia or China constitutes America’s principal great-power adversary.

Knowing one’s enemy is usually considered the essence of strategic planning. During the Cold War, enemy number one was, of course, unquestioned: it was the Soviet Union, and everything Washington did was aimed at diminishing Moscow’s reach and power. When the USSR imploded and disappeared, all that was left to challenge U.S. dominance were a few “rogue states.” In the wake of 9/11, however, President Bush declared a “global war on terror,” envisioning a decades-long campaign against Islamic extremists and their allies everywhere on the planet. From then on, with every country said to be either with us or against us, the chaos set in. Invasions, occupations, raids, drone wars ensued -- all of it, in the end, disastrous -- while China used its economic clout to gain new influence abroad and Russia began to menace its neighbors.

6/30/2015

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Five Things That Won't Work in Iraq
When at First You Don’t Succeed, Fail, Fail Again

By Peter Van Buren

In one form or another, the U.S. has been at war with Iraq since 1990, including a sort-of invasion in 1991 and a full-scale one in 2003. During that quarter-century, Washington imposed several changes of government, spent trillions of dollars, and was involved in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. None of those efforts were a success by any conceivable definition of the term Washington has been capable of offering.

Nonetheless, it’s the American Way to believe with all our hearts that every problem is ours to solve and every problem must have a solution, which simply must be found. As a result, the indispensable nation faces a new round of calls for ideas on what “we” should do next in Iraq.

6/25/2015

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Our Jihadis and Theirs
The Real (Armed) Dangers of American Life

By Tom Engelhardt

Consider this paragraph a holding action on the subject of getting blown away in America. While I write this dispatch, I’m waiting patiently for the next set of dispiriting killings in this country. And I have faith. Before I’m done, some angry -- or simply mentally disturbed -- and well-armed American “lone wolf” (or lone wolves) will gun down someone (or a number of people) somewhere and possibly himself (or themselves) as well. Count on that. It’ll be my last paragraph. Think of it as, in a grim way, something to look forward to as you read this piece on American armed mayhem. 

6/22/2015

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Washington in Wonderland
Down the Iraqi Rabbit Hole (Again)

By Andrew J. Bacevich

There is a peculiar form of insanity in which a veneer of rationality distracts attention from the madness lurking just beneath the surface. When Alice dove down her rabbit hole to enter a place where smirking cats offered directions, ill-mannered caterpillars dispensed advice, and Mock Turtles constituted the principal ingredient in Mock Turtle soup, she experienced something of the sort.

Yet, as the old adage goes, truth can be even stranger than fiction. For a real-life illustration of this phenomenon, one need look no further than Washington and its approach to national security policy. Viewed up close, it all seems to hang together. Peer out of the rabbit hole and the sheer lunacy quickly becomes apparent.

6/18/2015

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The Truth About Diego Garcia
And 50 Years of Fiction About an American Military Base

By David Vine

First, they tried to shoot the dogs. Next, they tried to poison them with strychnine. When both failed as efficient killing methods, British government agents and U.S. Navy personnel used raw meat to lure the pets into a sealed shed. Locking them inside, they gassed the howling animals with exhaust piped in from U.S. military vehicles. Then, setting coconut husks ablaze, they burned the dogs’ carcasses as their owners were left to watch and ponder their own fate.

The truth about the U.S. military base on the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia is often hard to believe. It would be easy enough to confuse the real story with fictional accounts of the island found in the Transformers movies, on the television series 24, and in Internet conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

6/14/2015

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The Child Veterans of South Sudan Want to Know
Will Americans Support Them?

By Nick Turse

PIBOR, South Sudan -- “I’ve never been a soldier,” I say to the wide-eyed, lanky-limbed veteran sitting across from me. “Tell me about military life. What’s it like?” He looks up as if the answer can be found in the blazing blue sky above, shoots me a sheepish grin, and then fixes his gaze on his feet. I let the silence wash over us and wait. He looks embarrassed. Perhaps it’s for me.

Interviews sometimes devolve into such awkward, hushed moments. I’ve talked to hundreds of veterans over the years. Many have been reluctant to discuss their tours of duty for one reason or another. It’s typical. But this wasn’t the typical veteran -- at least not for me.

6/11/2015

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Delusionary Thinking in Washington
The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower

By Michael T. Klare

Take a look around the world and it’s hard not to conclude that the United States is a superpower in decline. Whether in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, aspiring powers are flexing their muscles, ignoring Washington’s dictates, or actively combating them. Russia refuses to curtail its support for armed separatists in Ukraine; China refuses to abandon its base-building endeavors in the South China Sea; Saudi Arabia refuses to endorse the U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran; the Islamic State movement (ISIS) refuses to capitulate in the face of U.S. airpower. What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of such defiance?

5/28/2015

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Writing History Before It Happens
Nine Surefire Future Headlines From a Bizarro American World

By Tom Engelhardt

It’s commonplace to speak of “the fog of war,” of what can’t be known in the midst of battle, of the inability of both generals and foot soldiers to foresee developments once fighting is underway. And yet that fog is nothing compared to the murky nature of the future itself, which, you might say, is the fog of human life. As Tomorrowlands at world fairs remind us, despite a human penchant for peering ahead and predicting what our lives will be like, we’re regularly surprised when the future arrives.

Remind me who, even among opponents and critics of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, ever imagined that the decision to take out Saddam Hussein’s regime and occupy the country would lead to a terror caliphate in significant parts of Iraq and Syria that would conquer social media and spread like wildfire. And yet, don’t think that the future is completely unpredictable either.

5/19/2015

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The Kids Aren't All Right
Presidential Waivers, Child Soldiers, and an American-Made Army in Africa

By Nick Turse

In the twenty-first-century world of drone warfare, one question with two aspects reigns supreme: Who counts?

In MALAKAL, South Sudan -- I didn’t really think he was going to shoot me.  There was no anger in his eyes.  His finger may not have been anywhere near the trigger.  He didn’t draw a bead on me.  Still, he was a boy and he was holding an AK-47 and it was pointed in my direction. 

It was unnerving.

I don’t know how old he was.  I’d say 16, though maybe he was 18 or 19.  But there were a few soldiers nearby who looked even younger -- no more than 15.

5/18/2015

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Who Counts?
Body Counts, Drones, and “Collateral Damage” (aka “Bug Splat”)

By Tom Engelhardt

In the twenty-first-century world of drone warfare, one question with two aspects reigns supreme: Who counts?

In Washington, the answers are the same: We don’t count and they don’t count.

The Obama administration has adamantly refused to count. Not a body. In fact, for a long time, American officials associated with Washington’s drone assassination campaigns and “signature strikes” in the backlands of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen claimed that there were no bodies to count, that the CIA’s drones were so carefully handled and so “precise” that they never produced an unmeant corpse -- not a child, not a parent, not a wedding party. Nada.

5/5/2015

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The Kingpin Strategy
Assassination as Policy in Washington and How It Failed, 1990-2015

By Andrew Cockburn

As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary -- a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen -- the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination.  Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto.

4/28/2015

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Sex, Drugs, and Dead Soldiers
What U.S. Africa Command Doesn’t Want You to Know

By Nick Turse

Six people lay lifeless in the filthy brown water.

It was 5:09 a.m. when their Toyota Land Cruiser plunged off a bridge in the West African country of Mali.  For about two seconds, the SUV sailed through the air, pirouetting 180 degrees as it plunged 70 feet, crashing into the Niger River.

4/21/2015

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The Renewable Revolution
Four Reasons Why the Transition From Fossil Fuels to a Green Energy Era Is Gaining Traction

By Michael T. Klare

Don’t hold your breath, but future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels -- oil, natural gas, and coal -- will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere.  For the first time, however, it appears that a shift to renewable energy sources is gaining momentum.  If sustained, it will have momentous implications for the world economy -- as profound as the shift from wood to coal or coal to oil in previous centuries.

4/16/2015

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2044 or Bust
Military Missions Reach Record Levels After U.S. Inks Deal to Remain in Africa for Decades

By Nick Turse

For three days, wearing a kaleidoscope of camouflage patterns, they huddled together on a military base in Florida. They came from U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, from France and Norway, from Denmark, Germany, and Canada: 13 nations in all. They came to plan a years-long “Special Operations-centric” military campaign supported by conventional forces, a multinational undertaking that -- if carried out -- might cost hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars and who knows how many lives.

4/14/2015

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The Real Afghan War
How an American Fantasy Conflict Created Disaster in Afghanistan

By Anand Gopal

The sky clotted gray and the winds gusted cold as the men crowded into an old roadside gas station. It was daybreak in Band-i-Timor, early December 2001, and hundreds of turbaned farmers sat pensively, weighing the choice before them. They had once been the backbone of the Taliban’s support; the movement had arisen not far from here, and many had sent their sons to fight on the front lines. But in 2000, Mullah Omar had decreed opium cultivation to be un-Islamic, and whip-wielding police saw to it that production was halted almost overnight. Band-i-Timor had been poppy country for as long as anyone could remember, but now the fields lay fallow and children were going hungry. With the Taliban’s days numbered after the U.S. invasion, the mood was ripe for a change. But could they trust the Americans? Or Hamid Karzai?

4/6/2015

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Plutocracy The First Time Around
Revisiting the Great Upheaval and the First Gilded Age

By Steve Fraser

In the age of the all-volunteer military and an endless stream of war zone losses and ties, it can be hard to keep Homeland enthusiasm up for perpetual war. After all, you don't get a 9/11 every year to refresh those images of the barbarians at the airport departure gates. In the meantime, Americans are clearly finding it difficult to remain emotionally roiled up about our confusing wars in Syria and Iraq, the sputtering one in Afghanistan, and various raids, drone attacks, and minor conflicts elsewhere.

Fortunately, we have just the ticket, one that has been punched again and again for close to a century: Hollywood war movies (to which the Pentagon is always eager to lend a helping hand).American Sniper, which started out with the celebratory tagline “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history” and now has the tagline “the most successful war movie of all time,” is just the latest in a long line of films that have kept Americans on their war game. Think of them as war porn, meant to leave us perpetually hyped up. Now, grab some popcorn and settle back to enjoy the show.

4/2/2015

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War Porn
Hollywood and War from World War II to American Sniper

By Peter Van Buren

In the age of the all-volunteer military and an endless stream of war zone losses and ties, it can be hard to keep Homeland enthusiasm up for perpetual war. After all, you don't get a 9/11 every year to refresh those images of the barbarians at the airport departure gates. In the meantime, Americans are clearly finding it difficult to remain emotionally roiled up about our confusing wars in Syria and Iraq, the sputtering one in Afghanistan, and various raids, drone attacks, and minor conflicts elsewhere.

Fortunately, we have just the ticket, one that has been punched again and again for close to a century: Hollywood war movies (to which the Pentagon is always eager to lend a helping hand).American Sniper, which started out with the celebratory tagline “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history” and now has the tagline “the most successful war movie of all time,” is just the latest in a long line of films that have kept Americans on their war game. Think of them as war porn, meant to leave us perpetually hyped up. Now, grab some popcorn and settle back to enjoy the show.

2/19/2015

Read more>>>


Save Us From Washington’s Visionaries
In (Modest) Praise of a Comforting Mediocrity

By Andrew J. Bacevich

En route back to Washington at the tail end of his most recent overseas trip, John Kerry, America’s peripatetic secretary of state, stopped off in France “to share a hug with all of Paris.” Whether Paris reciprocated the secretary’s embrace went unrecorded.

Despite the requisite reference to General Pershing (“Lafayette, we are here!”) and flying James Taylor in from the 1960s to assure Parisians that “You’ve Got a Friend,” in the annals of American diplomacy Kerry’s hug will likely rank with President Eisenhower’s award of the Legion of Merit to Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza for “exceptionally meritorious conduct” and Jimmy Carter’s acknowledgment of the “admiration and love” said to define the relationship between the Iranian people and their Shah.  In short, it was a moment best forgotten.

1/29/2015

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More and War
The Tao of Washington

By Tom Engelhardt

When it comes to the national security state, our capital has become a thought-free zone. The airlessness of the place, the unwillingness of leading players in the corridors of power to explore new ways of approaching crucial problems is right there in plain sight, yet remarkably unnoticed.  Consider this the Tao of Washington.

Last week, based on a heavily redacted 231-page document released by the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Charlie Savage, a superb reporter for the New York Times, revealed that the FBI has become a “significant player” in the world of warrantless surveillance, previously the bailiwick of the National Security Agency.  The headline on his piece was: “FBI is broadening surveillance role, report shows.”

1/23/2015

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The Golden Age of Black Ops
Special Ops Missions Already in 105 Countries in 2015

By Nick Turse

In the dead of night, they swept in aboard V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.  Landing in a remote region of one of the most volatile countries on the planet, they raided a village and soon found themselves in a life-or-death firefight.  It was the second time in two weeks that elite U.S. Navy SEALs had attempted to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers.  And it was the second time they failed.

On December 6, 2014, approximately 36 of America’s top commandos, heavily armed, operating with intelligence from satellites, drones, and high-tech eavesdropping, outfitted with night vision goggles, and backed up by elite Yemeni troops, went toe-to-toe with about six militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  When it was over, Somers was dead, along with Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher due to be set free the next day.  Eight civilians were also killed by the commandos, according to local reports.  Most of the militants escaped.

1/20/2015

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America Is Open for Business in Iraq
(Psst... Wanna Buy an M1 Tank?)

By Peter Van Buren

The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then... well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.

1/15/2015

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Carbon Counterattack
How Big Oil Is Responding to the Anti-Carbon Moment

By Michael T. Klare

Around the world, carbon-based fuels are under attack.  Increasingly grim economic pressures, growing popular resistance, and the efforts of government regulators have all shocked the energy industry.  Oil prices are falling, colleges and universities are divesting from their carbon stocks, voters are instituting curbs on hydro-fracking, and delegates at the U.N. climate conference in Peru have agreed to impose substantial restrictions on global carbon emissions at a conference in Paris later in the year.  All this has been accompanied by what might be viewedas a moral assault on the very act of extracting carbon-based fuels from the earth,in which the major oil, gas, and coal companies find themselv

1/7/2015

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