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Foreign Policy Analysis
Former Gov’t Officials Say Foreign Policy Making US Less Safe

Former Gov’t Officials Say Foreign Policy Making US Less Safe

JAISAL NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. The leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
have sparked a discussion about the expansion of government spying under the Obama administration
and whether the government has been truthful to the American public about the extent of
this spying. Our next guest argues this discussion needs to include whether the expanding powers
of the executive branch protect national security. Now joining us is Fred Branfman. He’s been
studying U.S. secret wars since he brought the secret U.S. bombing of Laos to world attention
in 1969. He has published a dozen articles on present U.S. secret war-making in the Muslim
world. And his book, recently republished, Voices from the Plain of Jars, is the only
book on the Indochina War written from the perspective of the peasants who suffered. Thank you for joining us. FRED BRANFMAN: Thank you. NOOR: Fred, why is it important to have a
discussion about whether this national security state protects national interests? BRANFMAN: What we’ve got to understand is
that the United States government is today failing to protect America and endangering
national security because of its assassination strikes, both from the air with drones and
on the ground with the first unit of American assassins in American history, called the
Joint Special Operations Command, is actually making our enemies far stronger. It’s destabilizing
ally governments, provoking thousands of potential U.S. suicide bombers for possible attacks
against Americans. And most importantly, it’s endangering our ability to control Pakistan’s
nuclear stockpile. And this is not my opinion only. Let me just
quote to you General McChrystal, our previous commander in Afghanistan. He says: “What scares
me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world.” “The resentment created
by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates.
They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects
of one.” Now, what he’s talking about is we are provoking
hundreds of millions of Muslims in dozens of countries to hate us, creating far more
enemies than we kill. This is endangering us. We’re so worried about the possibility
of Iran getting a nuclear bomb. Well, Pakistan already has 100 of them. And U.S. Ambassador
Anne Patterson revealed in the WikiLeaks cables that the Pakistani government is refusing
to cooperate with us on safeguarding their nuke materials because we’re so hated in Pakistan. What would enhance U.S. national security
more than anything else is, number one, stop provoking most–the entire Muslim world to
hate us. Halt the drone strikes, halt the ground assassinations, we’ll reduce the number
of people who want to kill us. Right now, the U.S. government is increasing exponentially
the number of people who want to kill us. Now, in the context of this very serious–this
is a serious national security issue–the notion that the NSA has to spy on millions
of Americans to protect us is ridiculous. The first thing out of their mouth: they said
they’d captured the New York subway bomber from this spying. In fact, The Guardian had
a story two days later that it was the British who had stopped the subway bomber, and the
spying on Americans had nothing to do with protecting us from potential suicide bombers. And I think what we really need to understand–let
me, for example, quote another source, the former director of national intelligence Dennis
Blair. He was the director of national intelligence, which coordinates all of the intelligence
agencies in the United States, just before Mr. Clapper, who just lied by saying that
the NSA was not spying on Americans. Mr. Blair said the drone strikes have increased hatred
of America, is damaging our ability to work with Pakistan on eliminating Taliban sanctuaries,
encouraging India-Pakistan dialog, and making Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal more secure. So
what he’s saying is that because of the drone strikes, it’s hampering our ability to make
Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal more secure. Now, compared to these kinds of issues, which
do pose a threat to us, the notion that we’re somehow being protected by having the NSA
or anyone else spying on us is completely ridiculous. NOOR: So, Fred, you argue that the Obama and
Bush administrations have built this massive surveillance state through private and public
programs, and now they have to justify their continuation, justify the massive cost that
it’s taking on U.S. tax dollars. BRANFMAN: Yes, exactly. People in this country
are going without jobs, they’re going without food, because we’ve thrown hundreds of billions
of dollars since 9/11 at a top-secret America–which is the name of an important book that every
American ought to read–that consists of 1,000 government agencies and 2,000 private companies
that have to justify every year their budgets. They have to come up with new reasons why
we should fund them to so-called protect us. So, for example, NSA, in order to justify
its budget, has to claim that by spying on millions of Americans it needs more budget,
which will then protect us. But in fact that’s absolutely not true. In fact, the money we’re
giving them is endangering us, particularly the money that we’re spending right now on
waging these assassination wars abroad. NOOR: And, Fred, the expansion of drones,
some could argue it’s a way to avoid having U.S. troops on the ground, which did–during
the Vietnam War, the massive civilian death toll in the Vietnam War did help bring U.S.
public opinion against that war. Do you feel that this expanse of this drone war is a way
of the elites to make waging war easier? BRANFMAN: Absolutely. The more secret they
can keep it, the less Americans who die, the more freedom they have to kill people all
over the globe in the name of protecting us. And, again, it’s a former director of national
intelligence, a former general, McChrystal, and dozens of other experts, by the way, are
quoted in an alternate article I recently wrote–I just repeat these quotes–who were
saying it’s not protecting us. Now, you have to ask yourself, if it’s not
protecting us, why are they doing it? And let me give you an example. Let me first mention
Laos and then come back to the present day. When I interviewed over 1,000 refugees from
northern Laos who had had their homes and villages destroyed, tens of thousands of people
murdered by U.S. bombing, the one thing I couldn’t figure out was why the bombing had
so increased after November 1968, when the U.S. had halted bombing over North Vietnam?
All the peasants were telling me that the bombing had suddenly become four or five times
greater. And I knew there was no military reason for it. It was only a few months later that I read–and
this is a very important quote from the deputy chief of mission to Laos testifying to the
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee–this is an exact quote–when he was asked why they
quadrupled the bombing of northern Laos, he said, quote, well, we had all those planes
sitting around and couldn’t just let them sit there with nothing to do, unquote. Now, the situation we have today is very similar.
The Bush and Obama administrations have created the first U.S. force of American assassins
in our history. They’ve also created automated machines of war called drones. They have to
come up with new missions. For example, President Obama stated as recently
as last month that the drone strikes are only aimed at people whose names we know who are
plotting to kill us back in America and who we can’t get any other way. This was an absolute
falsehood. The evidence is overwhelming that most of the strikes, drone strikes in Pakistan,
in Yemen, in Somalia are what they call signature strikes. These are strikes against people
whose names they don’t know. They have no idea what their names are. They’re bombing–they’re
drone-striking them on the basis of there’s a crowd of people who they decide might be
hiding a militant. Now, you might ask yourself, why did they
go from striking named people to striking unnamed people? Why did they go–they’ve only
been able to name 77 senior al-Qaeda leaders and Taliban leaders by name, and they’ve killed
3,000 to 5,000 other people. Well, the reason is obvious. There were all these drones sitting
around out there. They don’t know the names of that many, quote, senior al-Qaeda leaders.
They ran out of targets. So they then decided to start killing nameless people, which both
General McChrystal and the former director of national intelligence now tell us is infuriating
the Muslim world. You know, in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation,
a recent Pew poll said that 80 percent of the people in that country regard us as their
enemy. Is this the goal of foreign policy, to make nuclear-armed Pakistan regard us as
their enemy? And among the people who regard us as their enemy are the people guarding
their nuclear facilities. These are the issues we should be discussing. NOOR: Now, Fred, you touched upon the issue
of credibility in these NSA leaks. The statements of U.S. officials have, you know, proven to
be lies, to be false. Why isn’t there more skepticism of government claims about U.S.
foreign policy, about these drone strikes? BRANFMAN: Well, you have to understand that
it’s the way the mass media in this country is structured. If you’re working for The New
York Times or The Washington Post, your bread and butter is your, quote, sources within
the executive branch. If you start pointing out that they’re committing war crimes, murdering
people constantly, that they’re failing in their basic job of protecting us, these sources
won’t talk to you. They will talk to your competitor, and you lose your job. The mass media–people don’t realize that
the mass media, on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis, is conveying to them what the executive
branch officials, who lie as a matter of course, are telling them. Once in a while there’s
a scoop. Once in a while they–something is revealed that the government doesn’t like.
It gives us all the illusion that we have a free press. But in fact the media functions
as the PR arm of the United States executive branch. Same thing with Congress. If a congressman
were to stand up, you know, Senator Udall and Senator Wyden have said, if the American
people knew what was going on, they’d be appalled, but we can’t tell you, because we’ll go to
jail; we can’t tell you, because–secondly, because if they go too far, campaign contributors
will dry up and they won’t be in office. The executive branch is the most powerful
institution in the history of the world and the most powerful institution in America,
and it degrades every aspect of American democracy because it is not a democratic institution.
It’s an authoritarian institution. It operates in the dark. There’s no accountability. And
that’s our fundamental problem as a nation today. NOOR: Fred Branfman, thank you for joining
us. BRANFMAN: Thank you so much. NOOR: And thank you for joining us on The
Real News Network.

28 comments on “Former Gov’t Officials Say Foreign Policy Making US Less Safe

  1. Extremely truth-telling information and this is a helpful interview regarding foreign policy or lack of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Fred Branfman is my favourite whistle-blower from the CIA's Secret War in Laos. He says that US policy of murdering people around the world is creating more enemies who hate the US. You could guess this if you knew nothing. Fred knows a great deal and deserves our respect and gratitude.

  3. We, The People, can only hope that when the blowback really begins on the streets all across the U.S., that the vigilantes focus mostly on the 535+9+2 who are the guilty parties; and after they've ridded the world of that den of vermin, let them study up on history and pursue those criminals that came before the current gang.

  4. To put it very simply, the only and biggest terrorist is the US gubmint. They created all of this b/s brainwashed state.

  5. it is not about out women it is about our actions and our policy's. What goes around comes around!the middle class tax pay er is the hard working person who pays the bill!
    Spying is spying to keep track on US is to stop decent, but it's far to late American's are waking up !! Our government is committing Treason and should be impeached now!

  6. The United States is incorporated using its military might and vast military industrial complex to project power around the globe, and then utilizes surveillance to create a police state inside our country to fearmonger its own citizens, while exploiting their tax dollars on its capabilities to destabilize countries with its divide and conquer tactics. Use of drone technology over their will be used here in the end. I can see it coming. Things are as bad as you care to find out.

  7. People often talk like blow-back is unintended. But the military industrial complex thrives off continuous war. So the drone strikes keep people hating America and in turn keep the business going.

  8. I really dont see why killing random children, women and men across the world would have a negative impact…… not ?!

  9. As long as the military industrial complex makes enough profit and keeps some people employed, the sacrifice of some citizen (American) are well worth it, as far as foreign nationals who died as collateral damage, that is not even in the equation for consideration. That is the calculation, that is the inconvenient truth and THAT IS THE US FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVE.

  10. Elite members of the CFR are the culprits of Americas Demise If you do not trust Bildiberg and you should not, Compare the 2013 Bildiberg Meeting with CFR board mmembers ITS ALL THERE

  11. Combine this message of this video with the Hacked documentary and you may come to the realization that the drones could be more than just bad PR. They could be friendly weapons now that are turned into foes that operate under our radar. If IRAN can steal a spy drone, why not someone else, where in you my be saying WTF like having a virus on your computer while trying to defend that carrier from a wing of drones. Military Intelligence = Oxymoron.

  12. former govt officials??? how about RON PAUL, who's been saying this for years! F*** me Americans! why wont you all wake the f*** up?!!

  13. Cenk Uyguy has exactly the same explaination. Almost word for word.
    The current "news" is merely a spokeperson of the governement.

  14. Signature strikes, Double tapping, Innocent, civilians dying, Drone strikes create many new enemies every time they attack. Blow Back from these attacks are unfolding right before our eye's…..End targeted assassinations.. This is why they hate us NOT because of our freedoms, but because their innocent women and children are being murdered.. It really needs to stop.

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