Our main story today is a new study which involved personal interviews with over 300 Syrians to understand why so many have joined the ongoing civil war. Interviews were conducted with people who have already participated in the war and those actively considering it, as well as family and community members.

The study found that an overwhelming majority of Syrians were motivated to join the civil war (against President Assad) based on pragmatic and political reasons, not religious ones. Even those Syrians who have joined the radical Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra, still cited very practical reasons for their decisions. Some of them join because all other economic opportunities have been decimated as a result of war. Others joined out of desire for revenge, gravitating toward extreme groups like Al-Nusra because they’ve proven to be among the most effective fighting forces against the Syrian government.

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James Bovard talks about the war on terror, which he says has cost the U.S. $4 trillion since it began in 2001.

On May 18, 2016 the Charles Koch Institute hosted “Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy” to examine current U.S. foreign and defense policies. During his opening address, renowned military historian Andrew Bacevich surveyed the recent history of U.S. engagement in the world and assessed whether it has made America safer.

Harvard law professor and former Obama Administration official Cass Sunstein has written approvingly recently about a recent Supreme Court decision which affirms a 1997 case that determined that Executive Branch agencies have the authority to interpret the meaning of the regulations they write. What this means is that the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch of government will have no role in either writing or interpreting what are de facto laws (anyone who does not believe that should try breaking an IRS regulation and see what happens) written by the Executive Branch. It represents a huge agglomeration of power in the hands of the bureaucrats who in most cases answer to no elected authority. This is the real “deep state,” where the elites rule over us under the approving gazes of ideologues like Sunstein. What does this mean for liberty? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Last winter, at the Voices home/office in Chicago, we welcomed two friends who were in town for a Mennonite church gathering focused on the symbol of beating swords into plowshares. Their project embraces a vision from the biblical “Book of Isaiah” which longs for the day when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war anymore.” Our friends quite literally enact this vision. They use saws to cut guns and rifles in half and then hammer on the broken weapons, turning them into useful tools for gardening and light construction.

Throughout the service, one of the men could be seen, on a screen, standing outside the Mennonite church hall, fashioning, with hammer and anvil, a rifle into a garden tool. Sparks flew with his hammer, but no-one was inflamed into anger. The fire our friends wanted to ignite was inside us. With what work can we replace war? If we are no longer training for war, what else could we be doing?”

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What other nation on earth would signal its intent to “bury the hatchet, and what it believes to be the start of a new relationship, other than the United States, by lifting an arms embargo?

The United States is rescinding a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam, President Obama announced at a news conference in Hanoi on Monday, ending what the New York Timescalled “one of the last legal vestiges of the Vietnam War.”

“The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations,” Obama said. “It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving toward normalization with Vietnam.”

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