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National Security State as Terrorism Racket: Review of Literature

“Plunderers of the world, when nothing remains on the lands to which they have laid waste by wanton thievery, they search out across the seas. The wealth of another region excites their greed; and if it is weak, their lust for power as well. Nothing from the rising to the setting of the sun is enough for them. Among all others only they are compelled to attack the poor as well as the rich. Robbery, rape, and slaughter they falsely call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

Tacitus, Agricola
 
News Corporatism Recommended Links Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neo-fashism Nation under attack meme
Inverted Totalitarism Lewis Powell Memo The Deep State Mystery of Building 7 Collapse Reconciling Human Rights With Total Surveillance  
Total Surveillance Media-Military-Industrial Complex The Grand Chessboard Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Two Party System as Polyarchy The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Facebook as Giant Database about Users Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Systematic Breach of Vienna Convention Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Corporate Media: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few
American Exceptionalism New American Militarism Machiavellism Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Humor Etc

"The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us"

the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”


Ronal Reagan about a different crisis

Books have been written about President Eisenhower’s famous farewell warning in 1961 about the “military-industrial complex,” and what he described as its “unwarranted influence.” But an even greater leviathan today, one that the public knows little about, is the “intelligence-industrial complex.”

Michael Hirsh in

How America's Top Tech Companies
Created the Surveillance State )

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

- James Madison


Introduction

The National Security State is an ideology and practice of the USA elite, closely connected with the idea of the rule of the Media-Military-Industrial Complex, and especially three-later agencies ("Trumanites" because of our 33rd president's role in founding the CIA, the modern Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency).

In this social system US intelligence apparatus and military establishment are raised to the level above and beyond civilian control and become an autonomous system, a hidden government of the USA. Or at least king makers for all top positions in the USA government. The colossal budget with its juicy cost-plus contracts of those agencies are only controlled by vested ideological and financial interests. There no real overseeing from executive branch. In other words, instead of the servant of the state intelligence agencies became the master. This phenomenon is not limited to the USA. The same hijacking of executive, parliamentarian and judicial braches of govern happen in other countries. A very interesting example provides the USSR: it was actually betrayal of KGB brass, who switched side and decided to privatize the country, that among other things doomed the USSR.

The key "three letter agencies" (CIA, DOD, NSA, FBI) were established by the National Security Act of 1947, signed in September 18, 1947 by President Harry S. Truman. This year can be considered as the year when National Security state was born and should be celebrated accordingly instead of old-fashioned Independence Day.  Nothing remained from "old republic" in modern USA. 

It is prudent to view National Security State as a modern form of corporatism, closely related to concepts of neo-fascism and Inverted Totalitarism. As ellatynemouth noted in the comment to the Guardian article Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay (Dec 26, 2013):

The surveillance state is the ruling class's key hole through which they monitor us and our potential dissent. It's now an integral part of capitalism and can't be removed.

The game has changed. It's now about convincing us as much as possible that they will stop snooping on us. They won't though. It will just become more heavily hidden.

Surveillance state was made possible with the advent of computers, Internet and wireless communication. In some features it is close to neo-fascism and Latin-American far right authoritarian regimes, but it achieved its goals without relentless physical repression/elimination of opponents. It's key feature is mass surveillance, not mass repression of opponents. At the same time, like neo-fascism and authoritarian regimes it make opposition to the government virtually impossible. Of the 20 characteristic traits of neo-fascist regimes probably more then half are applicable to the national security state.

After 9/11, Bush government behavior and especially appeals to public clearly resonate with the proto-fascist "... uber alles" ideas. Amazingly they managed to integrated American exceptionalism into the framework of globalist neoliberal regime (as the command-and-control center for neoliberal world empire, no less). Bush government inspired post-9/11 paranoia doesn’t come cheaply, though. Cost were staggering: the military ($682 billion), Homeland Security (about $60 billion), and 15 intelligence agencies (official figure if combined budget is perhaps $75 billion; but in reality in many times more then that). The total is probably over a trillion.

Nothing changed under President Obama, which suggests that he is just a figurehead and the  "deep state" is actually in charge. This is the view of Professor Michel Greenon, who in his book advocated that tradition troika of powers in the USA became by and large ceremonial and that real actors, at least in area of national security are not non-elected executives of super-powerful and well financed three-letter agencies (he called them Trumenitesm as it was President Truman who signed into law  National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA)) . Here is a brief exposition of his point of view taken from review published by Reason (National Security State - Reason.com)

Though Glennon doesn't describe his thesis in terms of public choice theory, it echoes that discipline's insight that institutions are run for the benefit of the people who run the institutions. For the Trumanites, Glennon explains, "benefits take the form of enlarged budgets, personnel, missions; costs take the form of retrenchments in each." Witness the vast archipelago of intelligence facilities-nearly three Pentagons' worth of office space-that have been erected in greater Washington, D.C., since 9/11.

The national security state is becoming an autonomous, self-perpetuating entity, Glennon warns. It sets the table for elected officials' choices and increasingly dictates terms to them. The permanent bureaucracy basks in the "glow" of Madisonian institutions, drawing legitimacy from the illusion that elected officials are in charge. But while the buck may stop with the president, the real power resides with the Trumanites.

This explanation is strongest in the realm of state surveillance, which serves as Glennon's central case study. Recall the embarrassing revelation, in the summer of 2013, that the NSA was tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. What did the president know, and when did he know it? If you believe top administration officials, Obama was almost as surprised as Merkel. Glennon quotes Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect that the Merkel wiretap, like a lot of NSA programs, occurred "on autopilot."

On one hand, that's what you'd expect them to say. On the other hand, the claim is entirely plausible, and it is consistent with the earlier history of NSA abuses uncovered by the Church Committee in the 1970s. Under Project SHAMROCK, for example, the NSA collected the content of virtually all cable traffic entering or leaving the United States for three decades-150,000 messages a month at its height. It was, the committee's final report concluded, "probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken." And yet it's not clear that any president ordered, approved, or was even aware of SHAMROCK. When the program's existence was exposed in the mid-'70s, Louis Tordella, longtime deputy director of the NSA, admitted that he didn't know whether any president or attorney general had ever been briefed on it.

The picture grows somewhat more complicated when we look at the modern practice of presidential war making. From the Truman administration onward, the president has accumulated enormous unchecked authority, despite James Madison's conviction that, since the executive department was "most distinguished by its propensity to war," it is "the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence."

When it comes to picking the wars we wage, it's not clear that the Trumanites are fully in charge. Take four major war-powers decisions during the Obama administration: the Afghan surge, the escalation of drone attacks, the Libya intervention, and the current war against ISIS. I put the Trumanite win-loss record at roughly .500 here. The military and national security bureaucracy fought hard for the surge and the drone escalation, and got them. They generally opposed the Libyan action, and some prominent Trumanites-such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs -appear to have been reluctant to endorse our latest war in the Middle East.

In the case of this most recent war, domestic politics seems a better explanation: The president yielded to the near-irresistible demand that he "do something" about the beheading of Americans and the implosion of the Iraqi state. Bombing ISIS is something, so we're doing it.

The Obama experience suggests we get the wars the Trumanites want -- and also some they don't. But this is hardly fatal to Glennon's thesis. He stresses that "a good theory of institutional behavior can predict, at best, only tendency over time"; his "predicts only that national security policy will change little from one administration to the next." So far, that theory is holding up rather well.

Even so, I've always been partial to one version of the "government politics" explanation. A few years ago, I wrote a book arguing that "Americans' unconfined conception of presidential responsibility is the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties." If the political reality is such that the president will be held personally accountable for any domestic terror attack, don't be surprised when he seeks powers nearly as vast as the expectations put upon him.

Glennon acknowledges it's not either-or; "explanations overlap," he writes. Dumb wars and security-state overreach are the result of political choices and the bureaucratic imperative. Policy continuity is depressingly overdetermined.

Real-time histories of key national security decisions in the Obama years tend to underscore this point. In Kill or Capture, reporter Daniel Klaidman describes the enormous political pressure the Obama administration was under after the failed "underwear bomber" attack on December 25, 2009. "For the White House," Klaidman writes, "the psychic toll of Christmas Day was profound. Obama realized that if a failed terror attempt could suck up so much political oxygen, a successful attack would absolutely devastate his presidency. And much as he liked to talk about returning to first principles, Obama also had a powerful instinct for self-correction-as well as self-preservation."

The psychic aftershock of Christmas 2009 helped shape a lot of what followed: from body scanners at airports to ramped-up drone strikes to the lethal targeting of an American citizen.

But to Glennon's point, the administration was under pressure from the Trumanites well before that. In the 2012 book, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, James Mann describes a concerted effort by then-CIA director Michael Hayden and other senior intelligence officials to preserve business as usual by scaring the hell out of the incoming Obama team. Their private name for this scheme was the "Aw, Shit! Campaign."

The scare tactics worked. Klaidman reports that both Harold Koh, legal advisor at the State Department, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel, used the same metaphor to describe the military pressure for more targeted killings: a runaway train. It was like "a massive freight train hurling down the tracks" Koh said. "You would have to throw yourself on the tracks to try to stop it," said Johnson.

All this helps shed light on Obama's strange and disorienting May 2013 "drone speech" at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., in which the president seemed to be speaking not as commander in chief, but as his own loyal opposition.

In the speech, Obama said things like "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers." And: "The very precision of drone strikes…can also lead a president and his team to view [them] as a cure-all for terrorism." I remember thinking: "A president"? Which one? Anyone in particular? Who's in charge here, anyway?

National Security and Double Government suggests that the answer to that last question isn't quite so obvious, that the "most powerful man in the world" isn't nearly as powerful as he might appear.

It remains the case that Obama had the formal authority to say no to mass surveillance and perpetual war. But saying no would require resisting enormous bureaucratic and political pressure. And anybody willing to do what it takes to become president is unlikely to transform himself into a self-denying Cincinnatus once in office. Political survivors don't jump in front of trains.

While US government spent around $3.67 trillion in 2013, the revenue was just $2.77 trillion. Of then one trillion went to three-letter agencies. Now you understand to whom real power belongs.  Moreover the government has to borrow about $900 billion in order to maintain national security state programs intact. And there are 5 million (yes million) people int he USA with security clearance and around 3 million with top security clearance. In other words "Welcome to the USSR." or even Third Reich (actually republican senators opposed Truman initiative due to fear that he replicated institution of the Third Reich in the USA and only support of powerful Democrats allowed the president to put the act through the Congress.

But even if it was close to the Third Reich in political effects and its essence, this type of political structure is different because it does not rely on mass mobilization. Instead it relied on the power of "deep state" and mass surveillance.

As Paxton describes it (Tracking Fascism) fascism is in in many features just hypertrophied and misguided nationalism, as central emotions in fascism and nationalism are identical. In other words at the core of fascist emotional mobilization lies far right nationalism:

...Feelings propel fascism more than thought does. We might call them mobilizing passions, since they function in fascist movements to recruit followers and in fascist regimes to "weld" the fascist "tribe" to its leader. The following mobilizing passions are present in fascisms, though they may sometimes be articulated only implicitly:
  1. The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual.
  2. The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action against the group's enemies, internal as well as external.
  3. Dread of the group's decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan liberalism.
  4. Closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio) whose unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
  5. An enhanced sense of identity and belonging, in which the grandeur of the group reinforces individual self-esteem.
  6. Authority of natural leaders (always male) throughout society, culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.
  7. The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle.

Post 9/11  "passions" in the USA were definitely skillfully used by Bush administration to push the nation into the Iraq war and the attacks on dissenters that occurred during it were pretty vicious, really in traditions of Third Reich ("you are either with us, or with our enemies"),  But public were not really central in this whole issue. Americans were extras at best, patsies at worst,  Essentially all major decisions were made "behind the curtain" by deep state structures and public was just brainwashed into approval of those action. That's an important different between national security state and classical fascist regimes. In classic fascist state the leading fascist party would be central to unleashing such a war.

Here is a more extended treatment of this issue (cited from Rush, Newspeak and Fascism An exegesis IV Tracking Fascism):

1. [Group primacy]: See, again, the Bush Doctrine. An extension of this sentiment is at play among those jingoes who argue that Americans may need to sacrifice some of their civil rights -- say, free speech -- during wartime.
2. [Victim mentality]: This meme is clearly present in all the appeals to the victims of Sept. 11 as justifications for the war. It is present at nearly all levels of the debate: from the White House, from the media, even from the jingoist entertainment industry (see, e.g., the lyric of Darryl Worley's extraordinarily popular country-western hit, "Have You Forgotten?": "Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right.").
3. [Dread of liberal decadence]: This meme has been stock in trade of the talk-radio crowd since at least 1994 -- at one time it focused primarily on the person of Bill Clinton -- and has reached ferocious levels during the runup to the war and after it, during which antiwar leftists have regularly and remorselessly been accused of treason.
4. [Group integration] and 5. [Group identity as personal validation] are, of course, among the primary purposes of the campaign to demonize liberals -- to simultaneously build a cohesive brotherhood of like-minded "conservatives" who might not agree on the details but are united in their loathing of all things liberal. It plays out in such localized manifestations as the KVI Radio 570th On-Air Cavalry, which has made a habit of deliberately invading antiwar protests with the express purpose of disrupting them and breaking them up. Sometimes, as they did recently in Bellingham, this is done with caravans of big trucks blaring their horns; and they are also accompanied by threatening rhetoric and acts of physical intimidation. They haven't yet bonded in violence -- someone did phone in a threat to sniper-shoot protesters -- but they are rapidly headed in that direction.
6. [Authority of leaders]: This needs hardly any further explanation, except to note that George W. Bush is actually surprisingly uncharismatic for someone who inspires as much rabid loyalty as he does. But then, that is part of the purpose of Bush's PR campaign stressing that he receives "divine guidance" -- it assures in his supporters' mind the notion that he is carrying out God's destiny for the nation, and for the conservative movement in particular.
7. [An aesthetic of violence]: One again needs only turn to the voluminous jingoes of Fox News or the jubilant warbloggers to find abundant examples of celebrations of the virtues -- many of them evidently aesthetic -- of the evidently just-completed war.

I would like to stress that similar process occurred in different states too after WWII as well as with new force and on new level after the dissolution of the USSR.  Of course the USSR was a National Security Surveillance State even before WWII, being one of the "pioneers" of this form of state along with Italy and Germany. But it was "primitive" form of national security state  in a sense that it did not rely on computers, collecting "envelope" of all Internet communication, interception of wireless communication and operation via computerized banking (especially credit card transactions)  for surveillance.

Rule of Trumanites as the the essence of the US National security state -- Boston Globe review of Michael Glennon book

Mickey Edwards, who served in Congress from 1977 to 1993, and is the author of “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans.” published a very penetrating review of the book in  The Boston Globe. In which he stated:

It has long been the province of conspiracy theorists to claim that the real power of government is not wielded by the obvious practitioners of statecraft — presidents, members of Congress, the judiciary — but by secret or semi-secret entities, real wizards whose hidden machinations send us to war, sell us out to enemies, siphon public treasure into private hands. Depending on your talk show or paranoia of choice, these are the bankers, oil barons, one-worlders, war profiteers, Bilderbergers, Masons, Catholics, Jews, or Trilateralists. Our formal institutions, in this scenario, are stage sets, Potemkin villages; our officials are puppets; we are an unsuspecting audience.

Michael Glennon, a respected academic (Tufts’s FLETCHER SCHOOL) and author of a book brought to us by an equally respected publisher (Oxford University Press), is hardly the sort to indulge in such fantasies. And that makes the picture he paints in “National Security and Double Government” all the more arresting. Considering Barack Obama’s harsh pre-election criticisms of his predecessor’s surveillance policies, for example, Glennon notes that many of those same policies — and more of the same kind — were continued after Obama took office. “Why,” he asks, “does national security policy remain constant even when one President is replaced by another, who as a candidate repeatedly, forcefully, and eloquently promised fundamental changes in that policy?”

The answer Glennon places before us is not reassuring: “a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of US national security policy.” The result, he writes, is a system of dual institutions that have evolved “toward greater centralization, less accountability, and emergent autocracy.”

If this were a movie, it would soon become clear that some evil force, bent on consolidating power and undermining democratic governance, has surreptitiously tunneled into the under-structure of the nation. Not so. In fact, Glennon observes, this hyper-secret and difficult-to-control network arose in part as an attempt to head off just such an outcome. In the aftermath of World War II, with the Soviet Union a serious threat from abroad and a growing domestic concern about weakened civilian control over the military (in 1949, the Hoover Commission had warned that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had become “virtually a law unto themselves”), President Truman set out to create a separate national security structure.

By 2011, according to The Washington Post, there were 46 separate federal departments and agencies and 2,000 private companies engaged in classified national security operations with millions of employees and spending of roughly a trillion dollars a year. As Glennon points out, presidents get to name fewer than 250 political appointees among the Defense Department’s nearly 700,000 civilian employees, with hundreds more drawn from a national security bureaucracy that comprise “America’s Trumanite network” — in effect, on matters of national security, a second government.

Glennon’s book is not a breezy read: It’s thick with fact and not unappreciative of conundrum (“The government is seen increasingly by elements of the public as hiding what they ought to know, criminalizing what they ought to be able to do, and spying upon what ought to be private. The people are seen increasingly by the government as unable to comprehend the gravity of security threats.”). Nor is he glib with proposed solutions: to adequately respond to the threats posed by a below-the-radar second government will require “a general public possessed of civic virtue,” which prompts Glennon to cite retired Supreme Court justice David Souter’s bemoaning of a “pervasive civic ignorance.” Not all of the problem can be laid at Truman’s feet. And if we ourselves are part of the zeitgeist that allows invisible governments to flourish, repair will be difficult. As Glennon puts it, “the term Orwellian will have little meaning to a people who have never known anything different, who have scant knowledge of history, civics, or public affairs, and who in any event have never heard of George Orwell.”

This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created. But if Glennon’s book is enlightening it is also scary. And it’s not fiction.

Why National Security State needs provocations -- pseudo terrorist attacks (false flag attacks)

There are multiple reasons such as to instill fear, and to demonstrate competence (Big Brother’s Liberal Friends — Crooked Timber)

Dr. Hilarius, 10.27.14 at 11:44 pm
An excellent analysis and summation.

Any defense of the national security state requires the proponent to show, at a minimum, that the present apparatus is competent at its task. Having lived through Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention many smaller governmental adventures) I see no evidence of competence. Instead, it’s repetitive failures of analysis and imagination no matter how much raw intelligence is gathered.

Nor is there any evidence that existing oversight mechanisms function as intended. Recent revelations about the CIA spying on the Senate should be enough to dispel the idea that leakers have no role to play.

Kinsley is particularly loathsome. His position is little more than “your betters know best” and that the state’s critics are guttersnipes needing to be kicked to the curb. Kinsley doesn’t need a coherent position, his goal is to be a spokesman for the better sorts, nothing more

Tremendous push (or acceleration of pre-existing tendencies) toward National Security State occurred after 9/11 under the banner of fighting terrorism. At the point technological capabilities of mass surveillance using computers and the ability to have a dossier for everybody were in place, while mass deployment of PC, credit cards and cell phones provides constant stream of information to those dossiers, not that different from "gum shoes" reports. On November, 2001 the phone records of most Americans begin flowing to the N.S.A. After 9/11, President Bush authorizes the N.S.A. to collect phone and Internet content and metadata without a warrant. Within weeks, under the so-called President’s Surveillance Program (P.S.P.), the major telephone companies voluntarily hand over the data. The N.S.A. creates a twenty-four-hour “Metadata Analysis Center” (MAC) to search the phone records. In October 26, 2001: The Patriot Act is passed. Section 215 allows the government to seize “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

At this point the process started with adoption of Truman doctrine came to a logiacl end: national survellance state became a reality. Formally Truman Doctrine was created "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." but in reality their function was more questionable and after 9/11 (some people date this event as early as 1963 -- JFK assassination) those activities created what is called "The State Within a State" similar to the USSR KGB role (see The State Within a State by Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick). Here is one review of the book:

A Customer

passionate albeit muddled, August 24, 1999

I have problems with the author's obvious hatred of the Russian Revolution and Stalin and the way she claims there is an unbroken chain of horror going all the way back to 1917. Obviously things are better today -- hence her book! She says 66.7 million people died under "Chekist" rule since the Russian Revolution -- and then cites the Guiness Book of Records as her source!? No one could ever prove such a figure, I think its one of things that's repeated 'til it becomes fact.

I also find the author's lack of knowledge about our own CIA kind of disheartening. This fine organization has spread as much death and terror in the Third World (Indonesia, Guatemala,Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc. etc. ) as the KGB ever did anywhere, yet she seems to make them out to be benevolent compared to the KGB (which if you read this book are responsible for everything wrong with the world today).

After reading this book I still don't understand why she thinks the KGB or its incarnations are as bad today as they were at the height of the Terror in 1937. Its not really explained in the book. I still am not convinced that the KGB was the NKVD, and definitely convinced that either was the SS. Research I have done casually has never come up with hard, convincing figures for a Nazi style genocide in the USSR, and this anecdotal, unconvincing book didn't change my historical views.

See Michael J. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945-1954. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; which "explains the transformative process that ended in the ultimate demise of the New Deal state with its emphasis on social spending and ushered in the militarist National Security State.". From Amazon review:

Hogan, a specialist in American diplomatic and national security studies, has written a complex but interesting work on the emergence of the national security state. To create this state, it was necessary to merge the armed forces, the Defense Department, and scientists into a single unit to enhance the military's capabilities. To a large extent, this unification was accomplished in the 1950s. The driving forces were James Forrestal, Dean Acheson, and powerful members of Congress such as Carl Vinson (D-GA), who chaired the Committee on Naval Affairs, along with presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

Hogan presents a compelling case but overemphasizes the importance of Truman and Eisenhower while downplaying the role of Vinson and others in the security state's creation. In fact, both Truman and Eisenhower often seemed opposed to it but succumbed to pressure from Congress and key figures like Acheson. This extremely complex study, which deals with a subject few other books handle, is designed for scholars and informed lay readers interested in the creation of the "military-industrial complex." by Richard P. Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., KY

Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti in his book "Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History" noted:

"As I pointed out in the preface to The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby destroying democracy. By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the CIA, with its obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective knowledge of the past.

As long as the CIA continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and present."

Attempts to curtain the surveillance proved to fruitless. In December 14, 2005 Senators Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Richard Durbin, and several colleagues sign a letter warning that Section 215 “would allow the government to obtain library, medical and gun records and other sensitive personal information” that “would allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans.” They demand that the records requested should “have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy,” a requirement that would

protect innocent Americans from unnecessary surveillance and ensure that government scrutiny is based on individualized suspicion, a fundamental principle of our legal system.

In March, 2006, the Patriot Act is reauthorized without the changes sought by Obama and others.

In his October 19, 2012 review of the book Saman Mohammadi (The Excavator) wrote:

The case could be made that the creation of the CIA and the National Security State in 1947 was necessary. But after sixty years of human rights abuses, systematic attacks on the constitution, false flag terror events, assassinations of political reformers, and other horrible crimes against humanity, should not the CIA be reformed?

Let's put the question of morality aside. What are the "national security" reasons that legitimize the existence of the CIA? Once you learn that Al-Qaeda is a CIA creation and proxy insurgent army and that 9/11 was a massive false flag operation, you come to the natural conclusion that the CIA does not perform a national security role.

The CIA plays a much dirtier role: engineering the American mind. It is not denied that the shadow CIA has major influence in the mainstream media, especially amongst top newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Michael S. Rozeff speculates that the New York Times is entirely run by the CIA.

We can't know for certain if that is true because of the lack of historical documentation in the public domain, but there is a mountain of observable evidence that proves the CIA has many of its spooks working for the New York Times. Go here for just one example.

Until the American people demand that the U.S. government commit to radical transparency and the principles enshrined in the U.S. constitution, the shadow CIA and the mainstream media can twist history and manage public perceptions of reality as much as they like.

The shadow CIA's greatest power comes from its command of the American public mind as well as its ability to create a fictional version of history. The false flag September 11 events was the shadow CIA's biggest media operation to date. It was their Mona Lisa. They painted the canvas of reality with the brush of myth, and worked day and night to shape the collective memory of the American people while the horror of the tragic attacks was still fresh in the nation's mind.

Although the shadow CIA doesn't have a total command of the American mind and of history, as proven by the rise of the global 9/11 truth and justice movement, it possesses enough media power to mold world public opinion and dictate government policy for the United States with ease. There is no question that its power is totalitarian in nature and its aims are evil. It does not serve the interests of the American people; that much is clear.

How can there be freedom when CIA officials in television studios, newspaper offices, and publishing companies drive the public conversation and form the national narrative on every issue of significance. The global alternative media is the only global civil society actor that is putting limits on the CIA's power to make up history and suppress the truth about historical events like 9/11 and the occult sacrifice of JFK.

In the past, the shadow CIA was presented with roadblocks in the Congress. But 9/11 fixed that problem. The laws and the politics changed. In "The Big Chill," author Dan Froomkin says the absence of Congressional leadership in the post-9/11 political universe has strengthened executive power. Here is an excerpt his article:

After past periods of executive excess, the Fourth Estate was certainly more robust and arguably more persistent, but it also found natural allies in the other branches of government—particularly Congress. By contrast, over the summer of 2012, the publication of a minimal amount of new information regarding drones, cyberwarfare and targeted killings incited bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill—not to conduct hearings into what had been revealed, but to demand criminal investigations into the leaking.

That's how Congress has been ever since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. "We never got our post 9/11 Church Committee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists's Project on Government Secrecy, referring to a special investigative Senate committee that held hearings on widespread intelligence abuses after the Watergate scandal. "What we've got instead is the intelligence oversight committee drafting legislation to penalize leaks."

Since the Congress is not willing to stand up for the rights of the American people, the truth, human rights, and the U.S. Constitution, then the American people and global civil society must stand up. Congress has no real power. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, Congress only has an eight percent approval rating. There are underground, neo-Nazi groups in Europe that are more popular than the Congress.

The mainstream media is no better. It is content with its role as a propaganda arm of the shadow CIA, and that is a tragedy. American newspapers have the power to improve their nation and change the world for the better, but instead they choose to cover up independent investigations of shady events like 9/11 that shed light on how the U.S. government really operates.

Alternative media outlets like Infowars.com, Veterans Today, Lew Rockwell.com, Washington's Blog, The Corbett Report, and countless others are doing the best they can to educate the American people and wake up humanity.

The last thing the shadow CIA wants to see is an informed and awakened America. It is waging a silent war on human consciousness because it is scared of an enlightened world. A world that is awake and aware of its crimes against humanity is its greatest nightmare.

If the shadow CIA has its way, it will continue inventing stories and passing it off as history with total immunity. But the global alternative media is telling the shadow CIA: Enough is enough, stop lying to the American people and the world.

The CIA's reckless disregard of U.S. traditions and laws made former President Harry Truman rethink his decision to create the CIA in the first place. On December 22, 1963, Truman wrote in The Washington Post:

For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.

On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency (Wikipedia):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer list of features of National security state

In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argues that the Bush I war in Iraq (as well as Bush II invasion and occupation of the country) was an action of the military industrial complex usurping the "peace dividend". Iraq was attractive target as it has oil and far enough away to prove a good vehicle for eating up contract cash. He views the rise of the National Security Defense State as a consequence of "the threat of peace" for military industrial complex and identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:

  1. The military is the highest authority. In a National Security State the military not only guarantees the security of the state against all internal and external enemies, it has enough power to determine the overall direction of the society. In a National Security State the military exerts important influence over political, economic, as well as military affairs.
  2. Political democracy and democratic elections are viewed with suspicion, contempt, or in terms of political expediency. National Security States often maintain an appearance of democracy. However, ultimate power rests with the military or within a broader National Security Establishment.
  3. The military and related sectors wield substantial political and economic power. They do so in the context of an ideology which stresses that 'freedom" and "development" are possible only when capital is concentrated in the hands of elites.
  4. Obsession with enemies. There are enemies of the state everywhere. Defending against external and/or internal enemies becomes a leading preoccupation of the state, a distorting factor in the economy, and a major source of national identity and purpose.
  5. The working assumption is that the enemies of the state are cunning and ruthless. Therefore, any means used to destroy or control these enemies is justified.
  6. It restricts public debate and limits popular participation through secrecy or intimidation. Authentic democracy depends on participation of the people. National Security States limit such participation in a number of ways: They sow fear and thereby narrow the range of public debate; they restrict and distort information; and they define policies in secret and implement those policies through covert channels and clandestine activities. The state justifies such actions through rhetorical pleas of "higher purpose" and vague appeals to "national security."
  7. The church is expected to mobilize its financial, ideological, and theological resources in service to the National Security State.
Now we can add one additional feature
  1. Total surveillance

Compare that definition of the National Security State with the definition of Inverted Totalitarism. Most countries now have features of both.

The debate about National Security State reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL.

Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'wilfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):

Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...

We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.

We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…

These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...

They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.

Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?

Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.

Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…

The following link shows how connected the world is… http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm

We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…

"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.

"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”

http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091598.htm

There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...

Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...

Pretty good bet they win...

Whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it ?

The book American Exceptionalism and Human Rights (edited by Ignatieff) raised an important and probably the most controversial question in world politics: whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it.

Following are based on the article by Laurence W. Britt published in Free Inquiry magazine

To a secular humanist, the principles of international law seems logical, right, and crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

The following regimes can be studies in this respect: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. They constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible. Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

One can wonder how many of those are applicable to Bush/McCain. What do you think ?
  1. Propaganda of nationalism and Exceptionalism ("shining city on the hill", beckon of democracy, etc). Prominent displays of flags and ubiquitous lapel pins. The fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy. Pride in the military, and demands for unity are way of expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a level of suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia (French fries - Freedom fries).

  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. Despite "freedom rhetorics" the party views human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious and truth about gulags is out, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the parties would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, such as Muslims, communists/socialists/liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Opponents of these party were inevitably labeled as terrorists stooges and dealt with accordingly.

  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites identified closely with the military. A disproportionate share of national budget is allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an ultimate expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

  5. Sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, the party covertly views women as second-class citizens. Often are both anti-abortion and homophobic with the cover of religious values. For propaganda reasons those attitudes were masterfully blended into strong support of the fundamentalist religious sects, thus lending the party some legitimacy to cover for its abuses.

  6. A controlled mass media. The mass media could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Control can be indirect and subtle with formal adoption of slogan about "free media". Methods included the control of licensing, access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders and owners of the mass media are part of the power elite. The result is rampant brainwashing, which usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the party's excesses.

  7. Obsession with national security. A national security apparatus is bend to come under direct control of the ruling elite. It is used to bypass laws as a direct instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

  8. Abuse of religion. The party attaches itself to the dominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of religious values. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with those values is swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents are “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the party is tantamount to an attack on religion.

  9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

  10. Power of organized labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Being poor was considered akin to a vice.

  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these party. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities professors come under close scrutiny; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or scientific theories, especially economic, are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed.

  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police is often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Criminal charges sometimes are used against political opponents. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

  14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of two candidates representing the same power elite are usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, suppressing responsibilities for legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Edward Snowden quotes about National Security State

The most recent debate was sparked by Edward Snowden revelations. The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about National Security State modus operandi  that should send a chill up your spine...


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[Aug 27, 2015] Digital surveillance 'worse than Orwell', says new UN privacy chief

"...He added that he doesn't use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it."
Aug 24, 2015 | The Guardian

The first UN privacy chief has said the world needs a Geneva convention style law for the internet to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance.

Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being "a joke", and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

He added that he doesn't use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it.

"Some people were complaining because they couldn't find me on Facebook. They couldn't find me on Twitter. But since I believe in privacy, I've never felt the need for it," Cannataci, a professor of technology law at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and head of the department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta, said.

... ... ...

But for Cannataci – well-known for having a mind of his own – it is not America but Britain that he singles out as having the weakest oversight in the western world: "That is precisely one of the problems we have to tackle. That if your oversight mechanism's a joke, and a rather bad joke at its citizens' expense, for how long can you laugh it off as a joke?"

He said proper oversight is the only way of progressing, and hopes more people will think about and vote for privacy in the UK. "And that is where the political process comes in," he said, "because can you laugh off the economy and the National Health Service? Not in the UK election, if you want to survive."

The appointment of a UN special rapporteur on privacy is seen as hugely important because it elevates the right to privacy in the digital age to that of other human rights. As the first person in the job, the investigator will be able to set the standard for the digital right to privacy, deciding how far to push governments that want to conduct surveillance for security reasons, and corporations who mine us for our personal data.


Mario_Marceau 26 Aug 2015 07:27

At the time of writing this comment, there are only 155 other comments. This is a very important article. A crucial one. Nobody's reading. It is as though nobody gives a damn anymore*. (Taylor Swift just opens her mouth and thousands of comments fill the pages.)

People have very clearly become numb to the idea of privacy mining. By this I mean everyone knows that their privacy is being eradicated, we all despise the idea, but somehow, very few get involved and are taking steps to prevent it from going further or, dare I hope, roll it back!

After the revelations by Edward Snowden (a very important apex for TheGuardian), one would expect the entire western world to be up in arms about unlawful government surveillance and big corporation scooping our privacy away. Yet big brother and major corporations have been able to perform 'damage control' with surgical precision, going as fas as manipulating or intimidating the press, therefore keeping their precious status quo on the issue and keeping people across entire nations hostage and on a very tight leash.

I hope Mr Cannataci is taking or will take into account the fact that the *people have seemingly given up while in fact they are worried but don't know what to do anymore and feel utterly helpless. I strongly believe this aspect of the whole fiasco on privacy constitute perhaps the most important cog in the gear of online positive changes when it comes to taking back our rights.

guardianfan2000 26 Aug 2015 00:55

British oversight of GCHQ surveillance is non-existent. If you live or work in Britain your privacy is wholly violated on everything you do. Pervasive snooping.

luella zarf syenka 25 Aug 2015 23:54

Ultimately it may be necessary for anyone desiring real privacy to learn to code and build his or her own encryption.

Also if anyone desires protection from abusive police officers it might be necessary to set up a private army.

If you desire to avoid being poisoned by Monsanto it might be necessary to purchase giant farms and grow your own food: corn, wheat, rice, avocados, melons, carrots, pigs, cattle, tilapia, hazelnuts... and make cheese and butter!

And ultimately, for those of us desiring to avoid being cooked up by the fossil industry and its minions, it might be necessary to acquire another planet, which we could call Absurdistan.


newschats4 Barbacana 25 Aug 2015 18:00

The Toshiba laptop - the least expensive model I could find as a replacement - came with windows 8. I am trying to use the internet without getting hooked on all the expensive come-ons, the confusing and even contradictory offers, amenities, protection programs (some of which are scams) and other services, that unless you are in the business, most people don't seem to know much about how they all work or what is really reliable or necessary. I don't know how many times sites have tried to change my home page or provide a new tool bar to control what I'm doing, just because I responded to a "free offer" like solitaire games. Ads are enough pay off for those offers aren't they? Being electronically shanghaied is a step too far. I even unchecked the box to opt out of the tool bar but got it anyway. Now I have to try to figure out how to remove it again.
The personal computer business is the capital city of artificial obsolescence and quackery. it is also highly addictive even for people who don't really need it for business. But having an email address is almost as necessary now as having a phone number or even a home address. The situation offered by most suppliers of equipment and even the providers is "take it or leave it". But the internet is driving out the older print media (a subscription to a physical newspaper is so much more expensive) and is becoming a requirement of classrooms at all levels, so "take it or leave it" isn't good enough. For an industry intent on dominating all aspects of life, "take it or leave it" can't be tolerated forever. I have tried at times to read the policies I have to accept or not use the product and all the protection is one-sided: the industries aren't liable for one damned thing: they could destroy your computer and you couldn't do anything about it. But it isn't an honest choice if the user, having purchased the product, has only the option to accept with no other provisions allowed, except refusal. You can shop for all sorts of alternatives for access and protection but the sheep still have to buy from the wolves to use any of them.

Statutes governing "mail fraud", as it is called in the US, should apply to dubious scams that occur on the internet. The internet is very nearly a world wide public utility and as such should be very heavily regulated as one. It is barely regulated at all and the industry seems to be the only effective voice with regulators like the FCC.

You can't be spied on legally on the telephone system, or with the public mails, but apparently anyone can do it with the internet as long as they know how to do it and know how to go undetected.

BTW - I followed that link and saw no price mentioned.

FreedomAboveSecurity -> newschats4 25 Aug 2015 15:02

Not to mention that you had to agree to access to your computer by Microsoft before activating Windows 8. The agreement states that they can shut down your laptop anytime they find malicious files...indefinitely. You don't really own your computer under this agreement or any of the programs you paid for in purchase. There is a clause about third party access, too. One questions if the agreement provides backdoor authority. I returned both laptops with 8 on them. Oh...and you promised to connect to the net, preventing air-gapping as a privacy tactic.

newschats4 25 Aug 2015 14:32

It is obvious that the consumer has little or no protection on the internet or even with the manufacturers and providers. And even antivirus protection can, itself, be a form of protection racket.

The internet is supported by industries that can make the problems they can then make even more money on by claiming to solve them.

BTW - I have had a new laptop that I reluctantly purchased in January 2014 because I was notified (and confirmed) that I had to get an updated program because windows XP was no longer "supported". I wasn't getting updates anymore. But updates never said what they were doing or why they were doing it. It is also very obvious that the personal computer works both ways. If you can look "out", other can just as easily look in.

When I got the new laptop with windows 8, my first impression was it was glitzier but also dumbed down. It was stuffed with apps for sale that I didn't want and I quickly removed. But what really angers me about the come-ons is, updates have removed apps I did want and found free online that someone doesn't want me to have. I had a free version of Google earth that I downloaded easily but has since disappeared.

But now when I try to download the free version, the google earth site says that windows 7, windows XP and one other are required but not windows 8. ?? I get an error message and am told I have to download a site that will allow Google earth to keep a log of my hard drive so they can determine why I get an error message.

I am sure that the execs at the top of the ladder know that the vast majority of internet users are sheep to be shorn. But those corporate decision makers are also the only people in key positions to know they can make the sheep pay for the razors that they will be shorn with.

And now the school systems are raising a new generation of sheep that won't be able to live without the internet. They will feel helpless without it.


syenka -> Robert987 25 Aug 2015 12:44

Good point about the NSA and the GCHQ. However, neither of these outfits has magical powers and really solid encryption can pretty effectively stymie their efforts to pry. The question remains whether software purveyors can resist the government's insistence that there be a backdoor built in to each program. Ultimately it may be necessary for anyone desiring real privacy to learn to code and build his or her own encryption.


AdMelliorandum 25 Aug 2015 08:08

Better late than never…

Let's wish the United Nations first UN privacy chief, Mr. Cannataci, success in "challenging the business model of companies that are "very often taking the data that you never even knew they were taking"."

Likewise consider the ongoing investigation in Switzerland against Microsoft, as pertains the alleged Windows 10 theft of client information and privacy violations.
See the corresponding article titled:

"Berne a lancé une procédure concernant Windows 10", (roughly translated as: "Berne has launched a procedure concerning Windows 10"),
published on 24.08.15 on the "Le Tribune de Geneve" newspaper:

http://www.tdg.ch/economie/berne-lance-procedure-concernant-windows-10/story/29192122

Excerpts from said article follow, translated using Google Translate:

"The federal policeman launched a clarification process on Windows 10 de Microsoft."
". . . infringement of privacy committed by Microsoft. He demanded the examination of several issues related to the operating system of Windows 10."
"The computer program automatically captures and shares information from its users with software vendors. They transmit them further, including for advertising."
"In Valais, the cantonal officer Sébastien Fanti had expressed his indignation at the beginning."
"If Microsoft does not review its privacy policy, Windows 10 could be the subject of a recommendation prohibiting the purchase" in the canton. . ."

wichdoctor 25 Aug 2015 02:32

I have been pointing these dangers out for over 20 years ever since the local authority stuck CCTV around the town without any consultation. If these systems were only there to act as spectators then the authorities should have no objection to slaving every camera to a publicly viewable screen or even the web. Since they do object we have to suppose they are using these things to spy on us.

Then there are the ANPR systems that allegedly log every vehicle journey between every town on mainland UK. There is no trustworthy independent oversight on how the data is stored or used just the usual "trust us we are the police".

Then there is the private stasi style database of the credit reference companies. No real control over their compilation or use. Use extended from credit checking to being used in employment references. Can even be used to track movements of a spouse by a vindictive ex.

DVLA? A long history of letting any gangster with a business card access to anyone's data. Same with the electoral roll. Anyone wanting to avoid being tracked by someone bent on violence such as an ex spouse or gangster can not safely exercise their right to vote.

I don't use social networking sites and until recently used an assumed name for voting. After a career spent in IT specialising in data acquisition I'm well aware just how easy it is to suck data a database using very basic tools. I hide my data as much as possible even though at my stage in life I probably have little to fear from the state or even the bankers


WalterBMorgan 25 Aug 2015 01:11

In many respects we are the problem. As pointed out we give away our privacy too easily and too cheaply. We accept massive CCTV intrusions because we fear crime unduly but don't wish to pay for more police officers instead. We want free email, news, and entertainment if we can get it so we end up with the KGB of the digital age following us about. We are bombarded with advertising yet most of us don't fight back with ad blockers or protest the over intrusion of billboard advertising. Government will spy on us and business will exploit us if we let them. Both business and government can be good and necessary but we connive with their downsides because it's cheaper.


JaitcH BritCol 24 Aug 2015 23:40

I live in an 'authoritarian' [state] and yet we enjoy more personal freedom that do people in Australia, Canada, the UK and USA!

xxxsss MrPotto51 24 Aug 2015 17:16

Encryption is all well and good, but engaging in an encryption arms race with business and governmental bodies is not going to end well; there is no point encrypting your emails if the spies have backdoors in your OS or whatever.

We need to debate and then come to a truce, as well as clearly setting out what is acceptable, and unacceptable, behaviour.

BritCol 24 Aug 2015 15:14

I agree entirely with this assessment, and especially how ominous surveillance has become in the UK. When I grew up outside London it seemed to be the freest nation on Earth. We would visit North America and found the city police to be gun-toting thugs (they still are) but England has become the world's worst police state in surveillance techniques.

Not even Russia or China spies on its citizens as much.


Lafcadio1944 24 Aug 2015 14:06

Way too little way too late. Just think about the vast amount of personal data that is already out there and the vast amount that is entered every minute. The dependence society and business on the internet and the fact that the data on the internet is INDELIBLE!! Everything having been collected by the NSA/GCHQ/BND etc could be accessed by hackers in the future who could trust them to actually protect it. Even the super high tech super security company Hacking Team which sells hacking and spying tools to governments and government agencies all over the world (with no concern about who they are) was itself hacked. Given that and the fact that the spyware and hacking techniques are becoming known by more and more people each day how is an ordinary internet used to protect himself? - he can't. Look at the Ashly Madison hack which was apparently done for purely personal petty grievances and adolescent morality. This can only increase with all sorts of people hacking and releasing our data can only get worse and the INDELIBLE data is always there to take.

We all thought the internet would be liberating and we have all enjoyed the movies, porn social networking and the ability to make money on the internet but what has been created is a huge monster which has become not our friend but our enemy.


well_jackson rationalistx 24 Aug 2015 13:59

"I doubt if George Orwell had the imagination to conceive of airliners being hijacked and being flown into buildings, killing thousands."

I seem to recall George Bush saying a similar thing about his own government on countless occasions following 9/11. The fact NORAD were carrying out mock exercises that same morning, including this very scenario, seems lost on people.

As for the train shooting, it sounds like utter nonsense to me. This man well known to the intelligence agencies but allowed to roam free gets stopped by Americans and Brits just as hell is to be unleashed (I bet they were military or ex military weren't they? UK/US public love a good hero army story).... smells like BS.

Besides, if these events tell us anything it's that surveillance never seems to work when needed most (there are very limited videos of 7/7 bombers, the pentagon attack lacked video evidence, virtually every nearby camera to the pont d'alma tunnel was not working as Diana hurtled through to an untimely end, etc, etc)....

[Aug 22, 2015]How Complex Systems Fail

"...This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes)."
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"...It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order."
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"...The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function."
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".... . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety."
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"...Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law..."
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"...Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise"."
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"...Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do""
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"...The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems."
Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism
August 21, 2015 by Yves Smith

Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part reoptimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

So many ideas….
Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted… But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces…

MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience — not the early stages of systemwide failure.

Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

…it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I tend to agree with your point of view.

The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on…and on.
Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market"….god help us….

Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters… The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

No system is ever 'the'.

Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

If, of course, bigger is better.

Facts not in evidence.

Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

"But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yves,

Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

Thanks for the post!!!!!

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy… In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

abynormal
August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

oink oink is the sound of system fail

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

A very important principle:

All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

. . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary — there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify — just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

thanks for that, I think…

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize…Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification…)

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

And the new points of failure will be what?

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades… right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there… just a thought.

America still has a frontier ethos… how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

The work is organized around aphorisms — Systems tend to oppose their own proper function — The real world is what it is reported to the system — but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole — instead of that I'll quote a poem.

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

-Yates, "The Second Coming"

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

erm… make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

– Swift

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so, ad infinitum.

Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so ad infinitum!

Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

The order Siphonoptera….

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

Human error was the final cause in both cases.

Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

"Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

" capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

You hint at a couple fallacies.

1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Very good.

It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

  1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
  2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
  3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
  4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
  5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Three quite different thoughts:

First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Really?

"equilibrium…from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

There is another definition from physics.

When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

This is only a subset.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this.

I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right — long enough — to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

[Aug 19, 2015] Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas Cass R. Sunstein

"...the prospect of being subject to the conspiracy theorist smear remains a potent weapon for intimidating authors, journalists, and scholars from interrogating complex events, policies, and other potentially controversial subject matter.""

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Cracking The "Conspiracy Theories'" Psycholinguistic Code: The Witch Hunt against Independent Research and Analysis

Conspiracy theories not backed by credible evidence would ordinarily be ignored as harmless ramblings.

But when the government goes to extreme lengths to discredit an alternate (conspiracy) theory about how Global warming is not supported by the data or that the Twin Towers collapsed at near free-fall speed due to controlled demolition - suddenly these theories - backed by thousands of pages of forensic evidence - are too dangerous for Sunstein, Obama and Bush to laugh at.

Laugh, indeed.

The American people are waking up to being repeatedly punked by corpse media propaganda.

Professor, James Tracy has this to say:

"A new crusade appears to be underway to target independent research and analysis available via alternative news media. This March saw the release of "cognitive infiltration" advocate Cass Sunstein's new book, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas. In April, the confirmed federal intelligence-gathering arm, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), released a new report, "Agenda 21: The UN, Sustainability, and Right Wing Conspiracy Theory." Most recently, Newsweek magazine carried a cover story, titled, "The Plots to Destroy America: Conspiracy Theories Are a Clear and Present Danger."

As its discourse suggests, this propaganda campaign is using the now familiar "conspiracy theory" label, as outlined in Central Intelligence Agency Document 1035-960, the 1967 memo laying out a strategy for CIA "media assets" to counter criticism of the Warren Commission and attack independent investigators of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. At that time the targets included attorney Mark Lane and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who were routinely defamed and lampooned in major US news outlets.

Declassified government documents have proven Lane and Garrison's allegations of CIA-involvement in the assassination largely accurate. Nevertheless, the prospect of being subject to the conspiracy theorist smear remains a potent weapon for intimidating authors, journalists, and scholars from interrogating complex events, policies, and other potentially controversial subject matter."

Archilochus on June 16, 2015

Cass Sunstein And This Little Book Are Downright Silly ... Read Who Really Owns Your Gold, Third Ed. By William Garner Instead

From the abstract of the original paper by Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule:

"Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law . . . Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a 'crippled epistemology,' in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups."

First, I find the title of the book and paper downright silly, just as I do the man himself. Sunstein is a Jesuit tool.

Second, threatening to infiltrate groups that seek to uncover and disclose the accurate truth about events in America tells us much about the powers who manipulate these very events. All despots, martinets and dictators over the centuries have done the same, even worse, to those who have spoken out against acts of tyranny and terror committed by those who govern the masses.

Conspiracy "THEORIES"? Are you serious?

After all, no good scientist or researcher would ever immediately elevate his hypothesis to the level of a "theory" without careful thought, experimentation and analysis.

The label "conspiracy theorist" makes the threat to the "powers that be" more immediately credible and elevates it to a very high and visible level, because it says that this "conspiracy guy" has some very plausible and perhaps damning evidence, and the powers should silence him.

If the guy were just stating some simple hypothesis, no one would even notice, let alone react to him or it.

But when someone comes along and states they have credible "theories" about certain significant events, that raises eyebrows and hackles among those in power. It also provides the powers that be with "legal authority" to silence that person and enact new laws that restrict, if not outlaw, further dissemination of so-called "conspiracy theories."

Or so guys like Cass Sunstein would like us to believe.

I recommend this silly book to all Americans as an example of disinformation from the powers that be. I do not, however, recommend spending any money on it. It is not worth the paper it is printed on.

robbie eisler on March 22, 2014

Irrational
This is a nonsensical approach to a subject that throws the baby out with the bathwater. It is a wholesale, hackneyed, down-the-line mainstream piece of propaganda that sophistically mixes clearly insane, paranoid conspiracy theories with certainly plausible ones. It's as if he keeps hoping the uninformed and the misinformed will continue to stay uninformed and misinformed--and manipulated. But, who, two years ago, would have thought the leader of Germany's conversations with her grandchildren were being recorded by an American governmental agency or that British intelligence would have tens of thousands of film frames of nude people on Yahoo webcams? We live in an age where the implausible and the outrageous unfortunately sometime turn out to be even more outrageous than one could have imagined. Sunstein, a Martha's Vineyard sycophant, has no time for these thoughts.

Plattsoon April 19, 2014

Dangerous To Whom?


Conspiracy Theories are not about a type of person,
that is, a person who "believes" in some theories.
Conspiracy Theories are about a type of crime.
The type which perpetrators plan beforehand to commit.

Typical of "debunkers" and propagandists, here all manner of Theories are
lumped together, and the Conspiratorial Type of Person is assumed.
This Person is flawed. Wrong. Incorrect. Crippled. Effed up.
We would like to figure out how these false ideas are spread among the Effed Up People.

This analysis is pathetic and inane.

As for some particular theory being "demonstrably false", I would very much like to see Mr. Sunstein
engage in a discussion with the major proponents of said theory and please, do demonstrate its falseness.

Incidentally, that the United States Government conspired to kill Martin Luther King Jr is not a conspiracy theory,
but a legal finding.

Ralph Yateson April 6, 2014

Disinformation As Policy

The American government has suffered a plague since the CIA's assassination of President Kennedy. While the CIA and powers that be managed to abuse their power and control the official story the American people would not lose their free thinking so quickly and soon knew something was rotten. Ever since the inception of the Central Intelligence Agency America has been battling a force that exists with a written charter to undermine and undo ever single fundamental principle of representational democracy in America and elsewhere replacing it with an ugly cold-skinned changeling covertly overseen by its CIA creators and their sponsors. We live in that nation now and Cass Sunstein is its ultimate evil spawn, sent here to convince the populace that its healthy sense of government corruption is due to some bizarre personal failing or psychological flaw on the behalf of those people.

A month to the day after the Kennedy assassination the creator of the CIA, Harry Truman, sent an editorial to the Washington Post saying he regretted signing the agency into being and that he had created a monster that had gone way beyond its original intended purpose and gotten out of control. The editorial was yanked from the second edition and quietly buried. The timing of Truman's editorial and its message exactly one month after Kennedy's assassination was not unintentional. The national security state had made its move and was now taking over. America was now becoming a safe place for the Cass Sunstein's and Allen Dulles's.

This book suggests the true facts about the Kennedy assassinations, TWA 800, and 9-11 were all nutty conspiracy theories all handily explained by Mr Sunstein who calmly attributes all those wicked events to perfectly reasonable explanations that all so happen to fit the government version. We owe thanks to the free speech we still have even though Mr Sunstein was actively trying to undo American free speech and make any accusations of conspiracy against the government illegal. Thank goodness for Amazon where we can still legally buy books that expose the truth behind these events without any Orwellian nightmare like Sunstein forcing us to accept the legal official version at threat of punishment. The only thing Sunstein was honest about was the Masonic eye of the pyramid staring back at you from his book and mocking you. Sort of like the eye of Sauron trying to convince you the tales people are telling you about it aren't true. The ultimate Orwellian oracle unashamedly unveiled.

[Aug 16, 2015] The Real News - 9/11 The Man Who Knew Too Much

"Mass surveillance is not about protecting people; it is about social control.

The shadow government is its own enterprise, and it rewards those who pay obesiance quite richly"


Here is the second segment of a fascinating five part interview about the deep state and the mechanics of what some might call corporatism.

You may watch all five segments of this interview at The Real News here. Note that they are listed in descending order on the site, so start from the bottom up to see them in order.


[Aug 01, 2015] Ron Paul: All Wars Are Paid For Thr ough Debasing The Currency

Zero Hedge
Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,

And at some point, all empires crumble on their own excess, stretched to the breaking point by over-extending a military industrial complex with sophisticated equipment, hundreds of bases in as many countries, and never-ending wars that wrack up mind boggling levels of debt. This cost has been magnified by the relationship it shares with the money system, who have common owners and shareholders behind the scenes.

As the hidden costs of war and the enormity of the black budget swell to record levels, the true total of its price comes in the form of the distortion it has caused in other dimensions of life; the numbers have been so thoroughly fudged for so long now, as Wall Street banks offset laundering activities and indulge in derivatives and quasi-official market rigging, the Federal Reserve policy holds the noble lie together.

Ron Paul told RT

Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.

The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:

Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.

"Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency," he said, adding that this has been going on "for hundreds, if not thousands of years."

"I don't know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war."

As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn't factor into government reports, can't match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.

Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in:

They're going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it's admitted that it doesn't work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable."

Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he's run out over a cliff.

[Jul 26, 2015] Powerful, important book

"...Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism"
By The Counton March 25, 2014

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project)

Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.

Bacevich invites readers to consider how we would respond if China, for example, were to increase its military spending to the point that it surpassed the combined defense budgets of Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, Germany, France and Great Britain; created forward-deployed garrisons around the world; partitioned the globe into territorial (and space) commands, each with a Chinese four-star general in command; maintained a vigorous program of military exercises in countries around the world; and created a long-range strike force, capable of employing conventional, nuclear, or cyber weapons on short notice; and then points out that this imaginary Chinese program pales in comparison to the actual U.S. defense posture. Is it any surprise, Bacevich asks, that the United States now tends to see every problem around the world as requiring an American military solution, or that other countries don't necessarily take American altruism for granted?

Bacevich's final chapter -- titled, with a nod to Voltaire, "Cultivating our own Garden" -- makes a plea to reject the "Washington rules" that have led us to permanent war and return to our founding ideals. Our purpose, he argues, is not to shape the world in our image, but rather "to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." Neither isolationist nor naive, Bacevich argues forcefully that U.S. military forces should be used only as a last resort, and only in self-defense or in defense of our most vital interests. In short, he concludes, "if the United States has a saving mission, it is, first and foremost, to save itself."

Uncomfortable, subversive stuff indeed. An absolute must-read for anyone concerned with our future.

[Jul 20, 2015] The Dangerously Vague Romance of War by Shane Smith

July 20, 2015 | original.antiwar.com
Which sounds better, to "die for your government", or "give your life for your country"? The first could be interpreted, after a mountain of bodies pile up, as a mistake. As something that would seem to require scrutiny, admissions of having been wrong, of blame to be placed. Dying for a government, or more precisely, dying for a select group of political figures at a certain moment in time for very specific reasons, doesn't hide behind a fluttering flag quite as well as "dying for country". Which is why we never hear it. War, in the mind of the Middle America that still thinks on it, is shrouded in a sepia-toned composite of images and sounds, stories of soldiers, duty to country, service, songs, movies, and myth that give politicians far more leverage than they would otherwise have, when executing another war. No, "service to country" is the emotional and moral narcotic we administer to ourselves, almost automatically, at the inception of a new war. War is all wrapped up in our American Mythos so tight that it seems astonishing that we haven't descended utterly into a pure American-style fascism. Maybe a few more 9/11-style attacks and the transformation would be complete. 9/11 was an unparalleled opportunity for the explosion of government growth, and as much as "war is the health of the State", so are foreign attacks on the home State, attacks that can be perfectly molded so as to stoke the maximum amount of nationalist rage from the citizens. Those attacks were a godsend for a government that had been starved of an actual threat for far too long. And they took full advantage of the opportunity. Fourteen years later, the Warfare State is petering out from the evaporating fumes of 9/11, and their looking for a new fix.

But what of those who lied the country into igniting a regional dumpster fire after 9/11? Once the war hysteria evaporates, where are What would it really take to hold any one politician for a military disaster halfway around the world? It is blindingly obvious that there will never be a reckoning for those who hustled us into the Iraq war. What about Libya? Syria? How bad does it have to get for there to be something resembling accountability? War atrocities seem to have become less of a chance for justice and lessons learned than as a new precedent that the progenitors of the next war can point to when their war goes bad. And creators of war did learn a few things from Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned that flag-draped coffins do focus the attention of the citizenry. And drone strikes don't, really.

That hazy collage of feel-good nationalism is trotted out every election year, and every candidate engages in it to one degree or another. Peace is a hard sell next to the belligerent effusions of a Donald Trump. His crazed rantings against immigrants, his bizarre fantasies as to how he would handle world leaders via telephone call, as well as his boorishness in general, has thousands flocking to hear him speak. But what they're cheering is an avatar of a blood-soaked ideology, one that cloaks itself in the native symbols and culture, breeding hate and intolerance, until the bilious nationalism reaches just the right temperature and then boils over into lawless fascism. As Jeffrey Tucker points out, Trump is nothing new. The graveyard of twentieth century tyrannies is a testament to just how much death and destruction can be induced by a charismatic parasite bellowing the tenets of a flag-wrapped tyranny. Most of what we hear coming from leaders today is fascism to a greater or lesser extent. If what we mean by fascism to be a Religion of the State, a militant nationalism taken to its logical conclusion, then every leader engages in it, because it ignites something primitive and sinister in the minds of voters.

We understand war theoretically, and distantly, but what of those who are forced to carry out the fever dreams of politicians? Blindly thanking veterans for their service, we feel a sense of duty discharged, and never think to look more deeply into their traumas, or the scheme they were tricked into executing. Military recruiters, the unscrupulous peddlers of military slavery, are treated as a benign influence on young people today. Their pushy, overindulgent attitude toward our 18-year olds should piss us off more than it does, since what they are conning the young into is becoming the expendable plaything for the whims of the current Administration.

War is the pith of total government. The source of all its power, war and the threat of war provide the excuse for every injustice, every outrage, every restriction of liberty or further bilking of the citizen-hosts. As the Warfare State trots out the familiar sermons of threats from abroad, potential greatness at home, and wars to be fought, one would do well to reflect that war enriches the State at the expense of the rest of us. It consumes our lives, our liberty, our wallets, and the future of our children and grandchildren. The current crop of candidates who peddle military greatness are the enemy of peace and prosperity, and when they so openly declaim their lust for war, we should frankly believe what they say. And after hearing them, we should recognize the would-be tyrant in our midst, hawking hyper-militarism under the guise of national greatness, and treat them like the vermin they clearly are.

Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.

Read more by Shane Smith

Freedom Or The Slaughterhouse The American Police State From A To Z by John Whitehead

"..."Who needs direct repression when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?""
"...Oppression occurs on many levels. The slave with a benevolent master is still a slave."
"...Article left out biggest clue to a police state. We've got more people incaracerated and we're got most people incarcerated per person "
"...we struggle for terms and definitions to our systems of voluntary enslavement. No one makes us do these things, they simply make it easy and attractive."
Jul 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge


Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"Who needs direct repression when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?"—Philosopher Slavoj Žižek

Despite the best efforts of some to sound the alarm, the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

All the while, the nation's citizens seem content to buy into a carefully constructed, benevolent vision of life in America that bears little resemblance to the gritty, pain-etched reality that plagues those unfortunate enough to not belong to the rarefied elite.

For those whose minds have been short-circuited into believing the candy-coated propaganda peddled by the politicians, here is an A-to-Z, back-to-the-basics primer of what life in the United States of America is really all about.

As you can see, the warning signs are all around us. The question is whether you will organize, take a stand and fight for freedom, or will you, like so many clueless Americans, freely walk into the slaughterhouse?

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire

"As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile."

Well, duh. What do you think the purpose is in giving all this stuff out.

Money Boo Boo

the real thugs are in Wall Street and Washington, they've taken all the cash and have left the crumbs for over 300 million people to fight over.

The amount of money thats gone to welfare is the fart spittle from a fly's moistend buttocks dripped onto the windshields of Ben Bernanks motorcade as it drives to another meeting where virgin frau grois is served cold over the nipples of prepubescent boys. Trillions of your dollars have been malinvested or straight up stolen by Wall Street and the MIC since 1913 and now as the USSA wanes in its ability to strip enough wealth from the rest of the world to service all its citizens in the ponzi scheme you've all grown accustomed to over the last 100 years the bath is draining and all those swimming with a cock in their mouth are starting to see the third world you actually are without strip mining and global murder as your go-to method.

sucks to be second last........again.

Memedada

If you by criminals are referring to the oligarchy class – the banksters, their puppet politicians, the money-masters etc. – I agree. And if you mean look at what they did to the former proud and industrious city of Chicago I also agree. Otherwise you're either very dumb, misinformed, a (willing?) tool or a paid troll.

artless

In 46 years I have been detained against my will, kidnapped, imprisoned, had my property stolen, had my money stolen, been the victim of violence, threatened with a loaded handgun, and endless amounts of verbal abuse. In each case it was a Law Enforcement Officer that committed each offense. I have never in my 46 years transgressed another human being, committed any crime, or any act of violence against any living sentient being.

I have NEVER experienced any of the above behavior from my fellow civilian citizens.

The Police are just the muscle for the Criminal Gang Writ Large known as The State. They are nothing but parasites that feed of the wealth, production, and labor of the individual and deserve no better fate than any other parasite.

Memedada

The State is just a tool. A tool in the wrong hands is – like a gun – not accountable. It's the people misusing the tool that should be frowned upon.

Right now it's a fascist state = a tool for and by the big corporations/the banksters.

PS. I didn't downvote you. I very seldom vote on comments/replies - it's silly to vote for whats right or not. Truth is not a democratic matter.


Oldwood

In my 62 years I have NEVER been accosted or even been insulted by police.

I have been raped and molested by federal, state and local taxing entities however.

Oppression occurs on many levels. The slave with a benevolent master is still a slave.

1033eruth

I'll bet $1000 that you KNOW people that have been accosted, etc, etc, etc, etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Article left out biggest clue to a police state. We've got more people incaracerated and we're got most people incarcerated per person

Memedada

You're – together with the rest of the world – as far from socialism as you can get.

Capitalism is defined by who owns the shit-show – who owns the trade, the industries, the 'means of production' etc. In US – and the rest of the world – there've been a major privatization epoch. Everything under former democratic control – even central banks – have become privatized. There's almost nothing left productive that's not owned by private entities (and most of it by the 0,01%). There're small 'islands' left (like trinkets in Greece) that still 'needs' to be handed over to the ownership class (the capitalists).

The problem with many on ZH is they don't know what 'capitalism' and/or 'socialism' is – they just automatically associated the former with 'freedom' and the latter with 'statism/totalitarianism'. It's silly.

The size of the state/state intervention, how 'free' the market is and whether or not you have 'rights' or not is irrelevant in relation to what economic system you live in. And right now we are living in a capitalist economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production.

Yes, it's not the utopian version of capitalism supported by 'libertarians' (the US version = the right-wing version. And not the true left-wing version dominant in the rest of the world), but it's still capitalism by any meaningful definition.

NoWayJose

Omar Shariff recently passed away. One of the things I remember most about Dr Zhivago is how rapidly the rules changed once the communists took over. McMansions became apartments for the peasants. Bank accounts for the wealthy went away. Sure, these are socialist ideals - but aren't we much closer to socialism today than we are to democracy? And isn't wealth inequality as great as it has been in -- well -- about a hundred years?? (or since Dr Zhivago's time!)

Oldwood

All "isms" are simply tools for herding people in large groups towards centralization of power. They are all fiction based upon unobtainable perfections that DO NOT EXIST in nature. If we are to ever achieve this perfection, it will require the elimination of man and replacement by machines, and these machines will need to be programmed by an alien intelligence.

This is all bullshit designed to incentivize each and every one of us to voluntarily abandon our individual freedoms and surrender to the collective. Even capitalism requires some level of this, as ultimately the necessary "governance" required to make it "function" requires our submission.

Please note that the one commonality of all of these "isms" is submission to authority. Authority that ALWAYS grows until it consumes its host.

So keep trumpeting how your beloved "pure" ism has not been achieved and therefor unfairly judged. As each if us demands this pursuit of the perfection that our favorite "ism" promises, at least admit that it comes at a significant cost to the individual.

Freedom has no "isms".

Memedada

Very valid points. I – almost – agree. There is however some "isms" that see this trap of inherent 'totalitarianism' in most 'isms' (and may I add especially communism and capitalism): anarchism (there're many versions and I respectfully think 'libertarianism' – the US-version - is the wrong version if freedom is your goal).

The above comment is only in response to the misuse of 'socialism' to describe our current predicament. The obfuscation of our language narrows our vision and our ability to communicate.

artless

@NoWayJose

This is important. The use of the proper terms in describing our current and past situations.

Democracy is a means of POLITICAL organization. It says NOTHING of economies or anything else for that matter. Majority rules, voting, participation only means that and in the worst case scenario-even void of any and all correption such as vote fraud-it can and most likely will descend into mob rule or in other words two wolves and a lamb deciding what's for dinner. Get 50.00000000000001% of "the vote" and without the protection of the individual ANYTHING becomes "legal".

Everything that came to pass in Nazi Germany was "legal". Does this sound similar to what we experience today here in the United States? Such is the fasle god of democracy. See Hans Hoppe for that one.

SOCIALISM is a means of economic organization in which "the state" OWNS the means of production, the resources, and thus the labor by default (that is my elaboration and not a classic definition)

One may have a democracy AND socialism. See most of Western Europe. France might be the closest with its state run industries (AirBus, trains, etc). Many nation states are mixed LIKE THE USSA in that a company like GM is partially OWNED by the state through bailouts (they would have been dissolved in a free market) in addition to things like Amtrak and The USPS.

We organize A REPUBLIC trough a process of democracy. Yes, I know it still sounds funny but at least that is the design.

What we have and what is most common is called FASCISM. This is marriage of The State and EVERYTHING. WHile the state may not technically OWN the means od production or all wealth THEY HAVE COMMAND OF IT through regulation, intervention, and participation in what would otherwise be free markets. That particioation by definition makes said markets and economy NOT FREE OR OPEN but controlled and influenced by THE STATE.

Now this participation has the theoretic potential to be both benign and benevolent. Hence the parade of "...poets, priest, and politicians..." - to quote a rock song-that cling to the belief that the reason for the 100% failure rate of said idea through History is just a lack of the RIGHT people being in charge. The problem with that lies again with the pesky individual AND the means by which any and all of these Ideas are implemented. The common means has always been through the use of coercion and force. It is the state's monopoly on voilence and the use of force that then becomes the defining characteristic of the political and economic system.

In a Fascist state thsoe with access to that power-the use of violence and coercion-can emply that to their economic benefit through syndicate, regulation, cartelization, etc. One perfect present day example would be the case of UBER in relation to the taxi/car service industry. In a free market "government" would have no say in whom or what I choose to drive me around.

But we do not have either a free market or a free society.

We live in a Fascist Police State and work and toil in a Crony Capital Crypto-Socialist/Fascist economy. Musch like every other nation-state on the planet.

I did not down vote you.

Oldwood

we struggle for terms and definitions to our systems of voluntary enslavement. No one makes us do these things, they simply make it easy and attractive.

how about a free phone????

Cloud9.5

Don't take my word for it. Take the word of someone who lead a successful revolution and managed to kill millions of his perceived enemies. "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Mao.

You my friend have surrendered your political power to the would be omnipotent and omnipresent state. You are not a free man. You are a subject. Your very survival depends on the benevolence of a capricious bureaucrat you have never met. Should he or she develop a dislike for you, you are done.

Ment in response to DutchBoy

Cloud9.5

No, I think the game is rigged. Whomever we get to vote for will be vetted and in the process bought by the oligarchs that own the system. I do not hold much hope for the political process at the moment. I do not think there is a political solution to an on going economic contraction brought on by energy depletion. I expect the state to continue its efforts towards totalitarian control. I expect those efforts to be impeded by the entropy innate within a collapsing system.

I believe that Detroit is a model for the ongoing collapse. It is a Democratic city rife with all the problems inherent in the nanny state. As it declines, despite all the political games, the bureaucrats have had to thin their ranks. Even their pensions have come under attack. Some time back, a black, Democrat, chief of police called on his citizens to arm themselves. This is the trend.

Expect as conditions worsen for kidnappings, home invasions and armed robberies to go exponential as desperate people do desperate things in an effort to survive. The armed state is of little use in such an events. They may have the political resolve to quell large outbreaks of social unrest but I doubt it.

What I do know is that a man well armed and vigilant has some chance of defending himself and his family in these uncertain times. An unarmed person has no chance and is dependent on a collapsing state that is preoccupied with self preservation.

Going out and murdering some low level bureaucrat or politician as some form of political statement is flat out wrong and I will not support it.

fredquimby

U is for UNARMED CITIZENS SHOT BY POLICE.

Courtesy of the Guardian in the UK - A tally of all people shot/died by US police actions.....It broke 600 this year this past weekend, now at 613 :(

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counte...

P.S Happy Jadehelm day

Grimaldus

"G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile."

Resistance Futile? Are you kidding me? What a idiot.

The more weapons a rogue and lawless government has to oppress law abiding civilians, the more weapons that WILL fall into civilian hands. As in captured.

Actually, the illegal obama tyranny corp constitution violator brownshirts dont stand a chance. Not in Texas.

Grimaldus

DutchBoy2015

ISIS Leader Admits We Are Being Funded By The Obama Administration

http://govtslaves.info/isis-leader-admits-we-are-being-funded-by-the-oba...


[Jul 11, 2015]Merkel and the NSA - Analysis

October 24, 2013 | www.tomroganthinks.com

Accusations that the NSA has listened in on Chancellor Merkel's conversations are not conducive to positive German-US relations. Interestingly, the fact that the White House is saying that they 'are not' monitoring and 'will not' monitor Merkel, suggests that 'they have' monitored her in the past. To be sure, as I noted yesterday, there are worthwhile reasons behind US intelligence collection operations in Europe. Still, targeting the phone of a close ally (especially a head of state and especially one as friendly as Merkel) is a dangerous gamble. It risks significant blowback in terms of personally alienating a valued American friend. The NSA will have known this. Correspondingly, I assume that Merkel was targeted for a short time and in pursuit of specific information. Perhaps in regards to her position during a conference/financial negotiations (international meetings are a playground for intelligence officers).


There's another point here; as Marc Ambinder (a top journalist on the NSA) notes, if Merkel was indeed targeted, then why wasn't her position as an intelligence source more highly classified? Ambinder hints at the larger truth. If she was monitored, Merkel was effectively a deep cover source. In that regard, it's truly ridiculous that Snowden was able to gain access to such an operation. He was a contractor, not the Director of the NSA. As I've argued before, the US Government has a serious problem with its protection of its highly classified sources.


Of course, all of this raises the broader question as to what other information Snowden might have given Greenwald. Does he have agents/officers details? The British certainly think so. Based on what's happening at the moment, we must assume that Greenwald is upping the ante. This may signal how he'll conduct himself at Omidyar's new media endeavor. Ultimately, this is what will most concern the US Government - signal intelligence programs can be reconstructed. Humans cannot.

[Jul 10, 2015] US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 collusion

"...medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. "
.
"...Psychologists are not medical professionals. Why does the Guardian keep mistakenly referring to them as such? This habitual error casts doubt on the credibility of this and related articles. "
.
"...the APA has a code of ethics, modelled after the Hippocratic oath. these psychologists violated that code of ethics, and then the APA took steps to protect them, at the expense of their own ethical code. that's the problem, independent of the guilt or innocence of the people tortured. "
.
"...One question here - what about the use of psychoactive / neuroleptic drugs in interrogation? Was that used? I just ask because those few Gitmo detainees seen in public so far have that kind of nodding dazed drooling expression of the lithium / tricyclic / SSRI victim of excessive drug treatment - nodding, dazed, stumbling, etc? Have they been doing drug-based interrogation on top of the waterboarding?"
.
"...I don't want my life purchased by torture. I agree with those who don't believe that it saves anyone, anyway, but come down to it? I'm radical. Don't want to live in a world in which torture is"just n case" standard procedure. Sorry. Ends don't justify means. Appeal to self-interest here is shabby and false."
.
"...The APA is currently lobbying the AMA (American Medical Association) and Congress to be permitted to prescribe and dispense drugs used to treat psychological/psychiatric disorders. Unless the APA outs every single one of these guys and kicks them out of APA permanently, yanks their licenses, and gets rid of every member of their Association's Board of Governors who 'covered up' these ethical breaches, no psychologist should be eligible for insurance reimbursement. Nothing happens until you hit the pocketbooks of the whole community."
.
"...True psychologists are not physicians. However, there were a number of "real" physicians, i.e. AMA accredited doctors, that worked at Guantanomo who monitored the health of torture victims and alerted the interrogators that their subjects were close to death and they did two things: stopped the torture and then treated the victims back beyond the verge of death. At that point the torturers could resume their "interrogation". We know this was happening. So far these doctors names have not been revealed."
.
"...Stephen Behnke, has a Yale law degree and a psychology Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. How ominous does that sound?"
Jul 10, 2015 | The Guardian

The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.

For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists' complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.

Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA's denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.

Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.

... ... ...

Substantial sections of the report focus on the APA ethics chief and describes Behnke's "behind-the-scenes attempts to manipulate Council of Representatives actions in collusion with, and to remain aligned with DoD" – a reference to the Department of Defense.

A University of Michigan-pedigreed psychologist, Behnke has held his position within the APA since 2000, and, according to sources, used it to stifle dissent. Hoffman's report found Behnke ghostwrote statements opposing member motions to rebuke torture; was involved in voter irregularity on motion passings; spiked ethics complaints; and took other actions to suppress complaints.

... ... ...

Behnke was hardly the only psychologist involved in the establishment and application of torture.

According to two landmark Senate reports, one from the armed services committee in 2009 and the other from the intelligence committee in 2014, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were instrumental in persuading the CIA to adopt stress positions, temperature and dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding in interrogations. (Neither man is an APA member.)

Psychologists assigned to the CIA's office of medical services assisted abusive interrogations, which the Guardian revealed in June appear to violate longstanding CIA rules against human experimentation.

Those tactics, save waterboarding, spread from the CIA to the military. Psychologists joined "behavioral science consultation teams" that advised interrogations at Guantánamo Bay.

... ... ...

Yet the organization withstood all public criticism, until New York Times reporter James Risen revealed, based in part on a hoard of emails from a deceased behavioral-science researcher named Scott Gerwehr, the behind-the-scenes ties between psychologists from the APA and their influential counterparts within the CIA and the Pentagon.

In 2002 – the critical year for the Bush administration's embrace of torture – the APA amended its longstanding ethics rules to permit psychologists to follow a "governing legal authority" in the event of a conflict between an order and the APA ethics code.

Without the change, Risen wrote in his 2014 book Pay Any Price, it was likely that psychologists would have "taken the view that they were prevented by their own professional standards from involvement" in interrogations, making it "far more difficult for the Justice Department to craft opinions that provided the legal approvals needed for the CIA to go ahead with the interrogation tactics".

In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to "provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor", Risen wrote.

Ethics chief Behnke emailed: "I would like to emphasize that we will not advertise the meeting other than this letter to the individual invitees, that we will not publish or otherwise make public the names of attendees or the substance of our discussions, and that in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group."

Risen went on to report that six of the 10 psychologists on the seminal 2005 APA taskforce "had connections with the defense or intelligence communities; one member was the chief psychologist for US Special Forces". The subject of tremendous internal controversy, the APA ultimately rescinded the taskforce report in 2013.

In October, the APA called Risen's account "largely based on innuendo and one-sided reporting". Yet the next month the association announced it had asked Hoffman to investigate potential "collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of 'enhanced' interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror".

Throughout the controversy, the APA has preferred to treat criticism of its involvement in torture, either from journalists or from human rights-minded psychologists, with dismissal. Its internal investigations of the criticisms have typically ended up exonerating its members.

"A thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture," the APA communications chief, Rhea Farberman, told the Guardian in January 2014, after the Guardian revealed that an APA inquiry declined to pursue charges against a psychologist involved in the Guantánamo Bay torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani.

The psychologist, former US army reserve major John Leso, took part in a brutal interrogation of Qahtani, the suspected intended 20th 9/11 hijacker, according to a leaked interrogation log and investigation by the Senate armed services committee.

Interrogators extensively deprived Qahtani of sleep, forced him to perform what the log called "dog tricks", inundated him with loud music for extended periods, and forcibly hydrated him intravenously until he urinated on himself.

"The concern that APA's decision to close the matter against Dr John Leso will set a precedent against disciplining members who participate in abusive interrogations is utterly unfounded," the APA's Farberman told the Guardian in January 2014.


Apteryx05 10 Jul 2015 22:05

If these doctors are guilty as alleged, then why aren't Bush, Cheney and the rest of their cabal of war criminals facing prosecution?

WatchEm 10 Jul 2015 22:04

Just the APA?? Of course elements of their APA membership are torturers - and they know this only too well. Don't leave out 'psychologists' who are not APA members and get profitable government contracts to develop 'better ways to torture'...

Add psychiatrists, 'government employees', mercenary profit centers aka 'contractors', police officers with torture expertise, the alphabet soup of government agencies and purported humans from the rank of major to general. The latter being directors and instigators of torture where a number of them were promoted for their efficiency in the finer arts of torture.

At the lower echelons of torture are military cannon fodder who are often assigned blame and have been known to be prosecuted. Just watch a few tapes of them speaking on camera and it's easy to see thru them - ranging from just sad to being control freaks. They are what is known as the "few bad apples" in the barrel full of bad apples.

There is no such thing as an old torturer... Add a few criminal retirees with long track records of torture and experience of slaughtering men, women and children. They were pulled out of retirement to show their expertise in the killing, torture and operating death squads - paid for by the US taxpayer.

Never leave out US 'ambassadors' who magically appear like bees to a honeypot when torture is in the air - e.g. Negropointe is an example of a US 'torture ambassador' with considerable experience in the slaughtering, torture and particularly in the rapes of innocent people. His latest skill set extends to being a diplomat for death squads.

In the Washington swamp there are the legal lemmings specialising in opinions of torture. All legal opinions are, of course, simply to support the rear ends of policy makers on torture - and their non-legal opinions violate the Convention against Torture and literally every human rights and crimes against humanity treaty ever ratified by the USG.

At the top of the pack of cards are the policy makers - Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, the Black Widow Pianist, Wolfowitz and other self-relevant sickos, plus circa 400-500 of their I'm-very-innocent sycophants from almost every department of government. They will explain how torture is not torture - despite a written policy on torture. Needless to say, the travel opportunities of this group outside US jurisdiction is somewhat restricted.

Not unsurprisingly, US society is marinated in this vermin and some of them are pillars of society - e.g. college deans et al. Dysfunctional, corrupt and criminal would be an understatement. In most other nations with a real functioning justice system, most of this swamp with the vermin of humanity would be in jail cells.

The APA? Hell they are just a segment of a torture regime...

JinTexas -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:03

In light of this:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/02/ndaa-historic-assault-american-liberty

How would we know if they've stopped doing it or not?

rfs2014 -> Slo27 10 Jul 2015 22:03

no, doctors are the worst. it's their job to help people. not so with lawyers.

dakaygees -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:02

Which US was able to correct it self by condemning torture? You must be living on another planet.

TheBBG 10 Jul 2015 22:01

The Americans need Tony Abbott and his far right wing Liberal-Fascist Party for salvation. He will show them how to make it legal to torture and illegal to tell anyone about it, first or second hand.

bobliv -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:00

Read the White Rabbit by Bruxe Marahall, just a variation on theme.

rfs2014 -> Lex Lozano 10 Jul 2015 22:00

by that logic, you should have no problem with terrorists capturing and torturing american armed services personnel (whose main goal may be to kill as many terrorists as possible).

the geneva conventions are there for a reason - each side believes it's right, so we need some basic standards by which to conduct ourselves in times of war. not torturing the other side is a good place to start.

Athell -> William Brown 10 Jul 2015 21:58

Of course, any fascist surveillance state considers everyone a threat

Athell -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 21:57

Ha ha ha true - but I just think he was trying to compare the level of atrocities committed by the nazis to the one committed by the US government since the Bush years - and perpetuated by the Obama administration

Athell alverta 10 Jul 2015 21:55

Yeah, that bunch of criminals have evaded justice for many years.

Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 21:55

In the history of humanity, all nations will torture, and fall from good character: only some, unlike the US teeter there longer, stay there, or go so far off the deep end they end up like Nazi Germany, or the Soviets. That the US was able to correct its self, and condemn the torture, and move on, drives many mad.

tomjoadmcalister 10 Jul 2015 21:53

Psychologists are not medical professionals. Why does the Guardian keep mistakenly referring to them as such? This habitual error casts doubt on the credibility of this and related articles.

en1gm4 -> MondoFundi 10 Jul 2015 21:53

Bingo. Democracy, rule of law etc is just a charade. In reality the rulers of today are no different than those of years ago. We're just compliant because we have a little version of freedom. So they keep us happy whilst they do what they want.

Maybe some time in the future justice will prevail but for now nothing is going to happen.

Haynonnynonny kowalli 10 Jul 2015 21:51

The Nazi never water boarded any one. If you get a chance, stop by your local library, and get a history book.

alverta 10 Jul 2015 21:44

Start with Bush. Cheney, Rummie and Condi first... Add in Wolfie and all who are already signed on to advise Jebbie.


Mansa Mahmoud gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 21:42

US foreign policy is dictated by US corporate interests. Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany (prior to WW1) were focused on colonization. Under the colonization model, the European countries owned the colonized countries and extracted resources and cheap labor to support the 'Home' economy.

America (aside from Okinawa Japan, Phillipinnes, Guam) prefers not to maintain direct control. Rather america installs puppets; the purpose of the puppets is to make it easy for american companies to exploit the resources of the proxy (via puppets) controlled nations. During the cold war, the USSR wasted resources in trying to finance and manage warsaw pact nations. The USSR did it (partially) for ideological reasons. USA focused on maintaining proxy control and creating access to cheap resources for american companies. That is the entire premise of globalization.. it enables an american (by brand only) company to access cheap labor and provides said company with access to a world of consumers.

Once you understand that fundamental concept, then american foreign policy makes absolute sense. America is run for the benefit of the big dollar people; nothing less, nothing more. Read the book "Confessions of a Hit Man".

kowalli 10 Jul 2015 21:39

nazi at the full face. USA are bunch of nazi

William Brown StuartBooth 10 Jul 2015 21:37

The U.S. Government considers its own citizens a threat. That's why they spy.

Brian Lippe 10 Jul 2015 21:37

Typical. They should start with Cheney if they're going to prosecute anyone and spread out from there. He's still saying it was OK!

StuartBooth 10 Jul 2015 21:34

American Exceptionalism allows Americans carte blanch to commit any crime against foreigners. Like standing on a cockroach.

Alistair73 10 Jul 2015 21:30

Lets not forget all the commie regimes... Stalin and Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Un and his daddy and grand daddy, and now Maduro in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba, Mugabe in Zimbabwe. You would think the left would embrace state sanctioned torture since it has been relentlessly practiced by all of its heroes.

camerashy 10 Jul 2015 21:24

Every god damn single one of these psychopaths must prosecuted and put behind bars! No apologies should be accepted. They're nothing but human scum!

philbertdelamorgue -> Trig Satyr 10 Jul 2015 21:22

the APA has a code of ethics, modelled after the Hippocratic oath. these psychologists violated that code of ethics, and then the APA took steps to protect them, at the expense of their own ethical code. that's the problem, independent of the guilt or innocence of the people tortured.

gastinel1 -> Mansa Mahmoud 10 Jul 2015 21:21

I appreciate what you are saying, however US foreign policy adopted the theme of 'America First' long before Bush and Cheney. This policy runs counter to its own stated values of freedom and democracy because it necessitates ensuring compliance from other regimes to American capitalist aspirations.

confettifoot -> libbyliberal 10 Jul 2015 21:19

It's a hard education. The best among us recoil; it breaks the heart and poisons everything, knowing. That's the problem. It wasn't so long ago that the Nazis discovered the same - make it so awful that no one can quite wrap their mind around it, so atrocious that it can't be discussed at table, so ugly that passing the information feels like assault. Make it very expensive to resist, make it life-wrecking - someone suggested that we stop paying taxes. That won't catch on. It's not just America. The world is full of good Nazis, frowning silently into the middle distance. We're all deploring like crazy in here. Who among is is actually doing something?

photosymbiosis 10 Jul 2015 21:13

One question here - what about the use of psychoactive / neuroleptic drugs in interrogation? Was that used? I just ask because those few Gitmo detainees seen in public so far have that kind of nodding dazed drooling expression of the lithium / tricyclic / SSRI victim of excessive drug treatment - nodding, dazed, stumbling, etc? Have they been doing drug-based interrogation on top of the waterboarding?

confettifoot -> Jake Wilson 10 Jul 2015 21:11

Pogo. You know. "I have seen the enemy...".

confettifoot -> pogomutt 10 Jul 2015 21:10

I don't want my life purchased by torture. I agree with those who don't believe that it saves anyone, anyway, but come down to it? I'm radical. Don't want to live in a world in which torture is"just n case" standard procedure. Sorry. Ends don't justify means. Appeal to self-interest here is shabby and false.


fairandreasonabletoo 10 Jul 2015 21:06

The spirit of one Doctor Josef Mengele……….found its way to America with all the other NAZI baggage….

It would seem?


gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 21:05

Its interesting isn't it, how governments justify torture. The Nazis were convinced that they needed to weed out dissidents and spies by any means possible. When the Allies occupied Germany, suspected Nazis were also given a very rough time. Those post war interrogators gained a lot of 'useful' experience and that has really formed the basis of postwar interrogation techniques - human rights be damned.

gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 20:57

They could have saved themselves a bit of money by recruiting NCO's from the British Army who served in Northern Ireland. They know all the techniques. To be fair to the UK Government, they did apologise. But then again, why did the UK go back to doing it with the Americans? What values did they say they are protecting?

CostaParkiMik -> Emily Pulane 10 Jul 2015 20:54

such sincerity ..... while forgetting that your lot were the illegal invading force operating in the interests of corporations and zionist interests.... who had spent years degrading the public infrastructure of a sovereign nations causing the deaths of many hundreds and thousands of women, children the old and the sick.

libbyliberal 10 Jul 2015 20:52

In Jan. 2014 I attended a "World Can't Wait"-sponsored NYC forum on Gitmo and a screening of "Doctors on the Dark Side" directed by psychologist Martha Davis.

Todd Pierce, who had been a Gitmo prisoner lawyer, said that our society expects professional people to exhibit high ethical standards. This has not been the case and an alarming number has colluded with the amoral Bush administration's torture program.

From the film I learned about the horrific tortures some ended by the Obama adm. and SOME NOT at Gitmo!

Temperature extremes, sensory deprivation, 24 hour flourescent lighting, 24 hour sustained assaultive noise, solitary confinement, riot squad attacks and punchouts with night sticks, sleep deprivation, aggressive force feeding, genital mutilation, sexual degradation, threats to kill a prisoner's family members, manipulation with drugs, stress positions, organ-damaging, bone-breaking sustained shackling and suspension from vulnerable body parts, withholding of appropriate and timely medical care, the infamous water boarding, etc. ETCETERA!!!

I also learned that having military personnel present motivated torturers to push torture to nth degree. Emergency tracheotomies at times had to be conducted on prisoners who had been zealously waterboarded. In spite of medical personnel present at least 100 prisoners were "inadvertently" tortured to death. Medical personnel were then pressured to falsify death certificates to cover up such mistakes.

UK's Andy Worthington spoke of not only the number of wrong place/wrong time innocent men rendered and tortured but how Obama's promises of release and then betrayals is a spiritual torture that has resulted in profound despair and even suicides. How the US Congress is heartless about Gitmo, wanting to posture as tough on terror and Pentagon issues propaganda about recidivism rates to back them up.

Worthington said Obama has decided to kill people with drones instead of use capture and imprisonment. Once again, innocent lives are destroyed with this reckless program.

Debra Sweet of WCW said instead of trying to win foreign hearts and minds the US is instead traumatizing and terrorizing foreign hearts and minds (and radicalizing them) with its draconian detention and torture programs.

Torture begats false confessions which the Bush administration used to justify its war.

Mitchell and Jenner who reversed the SERE program and set up the advanced interrogation program Worthington disclosed are now covered by a $5 million defense fund provided by CIA against attempts at liability and accountability. Mitchell was the one who decided one prisoner be waterboarded 83 times!


creweman 10 Jul 2015 20:50

Who wants to bet that the maximum penalty imposed on any individual will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist? The United States Of Hypocrisy will see to that.


CostaParkiMik Urgelt 10 Jul 2015 20:47

"....There are no such pressures on the FBI or the Attorney General to do their jobs and enforce the law....."
I could imagine with white man, intellectual arrogance that they saw it as part of their "mission" to maintain and spread all that's good and right about the American way and do away with threats to that mission..... self righteous neo christian nazis.

F H Dar 10 Jul 2015 20:46

21st Centuries truly Savage State, which a 'special relationship' with Britain?


reto 10 Jul 2015 20:44

It's a little like the death penalty... I don't really care what they do to terrorists who have carried out attacks and killed innocent people but do really hope they only do it to people who are guilty. What is clear is that the guy who is actually torturing is crazy afterwards. As for the APA... this organisation is so awash with group think and peudo-expertise I doubt they have found out anything at all despite their many "experiments". Being a scientist requires a minimum IQ. Look, if you actually can find out things using torture, why not have it in your arsenal but experience after 9/11 (see Senate report), the last couple of hundred years and the inquisition seems to suggest that it doesn't work well for most purposes. Names are just codes these days and aren't that important anymore in a cell command structure.

BrianHarry 10 Jul 2015 20:24

If medical professionals were coerced into lying about torture after 9/11, it's not to hard to imagine that the N.I.S.T. report(the official explanation of what happened on 9/11) is also a lie.

The question is, "Who in government, CIA, FBI, etc, found it necessary to coerce these people into lying"? And Why?


PamelaKatz JohnML2015 10 Jul 2015 20:15

The APA is currently lobbying the AMA (American Medical Association) and Congress to be permitted to prescribe and dispense drugs used to treat psychological/psychiatric disorders. Unless the APA outs every single one of these guys and kicks them out of APA permanently, yanks their licenses, and gets rid of every member of their Association's Board of Governors who 'covered up' these ethical breaches, no psychologist should be eligible for insurance reimbursement. Nothing happens until you hit the pocketbooks of the whole community.

1cjcarpenter 10 Jul 2015 20:14

In my opinion the APA and its members lost the majority of their credibility well before any CIA involvement. The 1995 Little Rascals day care trials, for a start, showed a degree of irresponsibility that I would have labeled criminal.

pogomutt 10 Jul 2015 20:13

"Community standards" What a fucking joke. The American Psychological Association came out with a position paper only a few years back that classified the rape of children by homosexuals as an "orientation". It's TRUE, Guardian! Live with it!

ID5175635 FancyFootwork 10 Jul 2015 20:00

A bit overboard, don't you think? APA is an organization. Some in that organization may be guilty of wrongdoing. The vast majority of APA members are psychologists who work in schools, workplaces, universities, for NASA, the DOD, and other workplaces and have no relationship with torture in any manner.

Michael Williams 10 Jul 2015 20:00

Right. Blame the doctors. Not the people giving the orders.

When Bush hangs, then we can worry about the doctors.

Barry_Seal franzbonsema 10 Jul 2015 19:57

They have domestic assassination squads and NSA surveillance teams to deal with any prosecutors who get any funny ideas which might threaten "national security"

Barry_Seal 10 Jul 2015 19:52

The CIA is absolutely untouchable. They are the law and they are the true government of the USA. They cannot and will not be prosecuted for anything. This is not because they never do anything illegal; it is because they are the government agency tasked with doing that which is illegal. This is the true reason why the CIA must necessarily be so secretive - nearly everything they become involved with is a grave legal and moral crime.


Angelaaaa Brucetopher 10 Jul 2015 19:51

Probably because alcohol, drugs and so-called "truth serums" don't actually deliver the truth. They just lower inhibitions. As anyone who has listened to chemically-enhanced stream-of-consciousness rambling will gather. You may get some truth (Grandma smells ... ) but probably no razor-sharp insights.

Of course, torture doesn't deliver the truth either. Just for other reasons.

The point that no one in power ever wants to acknowledge is that the most reliable way to get the truth is from someone who really wants to deliver it.


Bankhead 10 Jul 2015 19:50

Is it correct to refer to psychologists as part of the medical community? The writer perhaps should distinguish between Psychiatrists (medical doctors) and Psychologists (PhDs). As I recall, the Psychiatric professional association(s) were demonstrably against participation in military interrogation during the period in question.

Denial, however, is a term familiar to both professions. There is an irony on display here, and not a small amount of hubris.


Haggala Jeffrey_Harrison 10 Jul 2015 19:40

When the Americans were accused of torture after the world saw the Abu Ghraib images, the American administration to let themselves off the hook just redefined the terminology.

And that is what humanity does to allow itself to make the same mistakes of the past, it changes the definition unconsciously mostly but in the Abu Ghraib situation that was a conscious change.

And still GTMO is in operation where there are still untried prisoners being interrogated, where we may wonder is the beast we fight actually the image in the mirror


Angelaaaa synchronicfusion 10 Jul 2015 19:39

No. It's a fairly straightforward definition of the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist - the terms are not interchangeable.

The difference is important because psychologists want desperately to be acknowledged as "doctors" (Mengele notwithstanding) - rather than expensive crackpots for the chattering classes. To that end, their organisations adopt similar ethical commitments. However, unlike psychiatrists, joining these organisations is voluntary. And even if they kick out a member, that psychologist can still hang out a shingle and continue counselling, regardless of whether s/he is guilty of government-sanctioned torture, sleeping with patients or just really bad at the job.

Psychiatrists however, as doctors, can be stripped of the right to practice if they are proven to be incompetent or unethical.


ro2124 Will D 10 Jul 2015 19:34

Indeed if it was some African dictator Mr Yankee would be screaming for justice!

Still guess we should not be surprised after all the illegal wars, torture, lies, illegal gathering of information by the NSA and the way their police forces are behaving at the moment gunning down unarmed people like there was no tomorrow.

The Yanks have absolutely no credibility left whatsoever !!

But, hell when someone exposes the truth like Mr Snowden then they fall over themselves and scream about justice, etc what a bunch of damn hypocrites!

FancyFootwork 10 Jul 2015 19:30

Finally, those righteous and morally upright men and women, who for a very long time cried foul very loudly will feel vindicated that an upcoming report by an investigator, who was personally chosen by the brass of the APA is slated to point fingers at the organization, its leadership and members.

The report will blast a bombshell, which will be seriously consequential to the livelihood, reputation and possibly freedom of many in the APA, which includes the elite brass, who where involved with the Bush Administration by schooling, aiding and abetting its its principal torturing institution: The CIA.

Now the APA will forever be decidedly linked with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Who can forget the image of the imprisoned man at Abu Ghraib, kneeling on the floor, hands tied and been stared at eye level by a barking German Shepherd, which looked ready to bite and sever his head from his body. The horror displayed by the man was unsettling. How about the image of a hooded person in a black robe, arms spread, standing to look like enduring crucifixion? And the APA will also be forever lined with the term WATERBOARDING.

This is an institution that was entrusted to use the science of psychology to safeguard the mental and psychological health of Americans. Instead, it used its knowledge and power to do to engage in morally and ethically reprehensible acts of torture.

No doubt, the anticipated report will provide tremendous moral and political boost to those, who endured years of humiliation, rebuke, ridicule and even threats to their livelihood for opposing torture in all its forms. They will come back swinging with a swagger, aiming and hoping for a grand slam. My hope is that, once the necessary number of APA heads are bashed, the momentum will shift to go after Bush Administration officials Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, the former president himself and many other big fish, or small minnows that were involved in the CIA torture program.

Now, that will be quiet an event bigger in scale to the impeachment of former President Nixon, who by comparison committed far lesser reprehensible act than George W Bush and cohorts

Ali Kerrouzi 10 Jul 2015 19:27

And then they wander why USA is hated all over the world, Bush's administration is partly responsible what's happening in Iraq now and Syria, Bush & Blair made our world more dangerous created more terrorism they get away with it in this life but they will have to answer God on the judgment day for the blood on their hand, the torture, millions of refugees

IntoOblivion 10 Jul 2015 19:26

Better late than never. Many of us already knew what "enhanced interrogation techniques" really meant, an euphemism for terrorism. And that "responsible and humane medical practices" were never compatible with "EIT".
That doesn't mean that the ones who ordered the torture are not the ones we should really blame and that should face justice. But doctors were also aware of what they were doing.

Bklynite53 10 Jul 2015 19:23

Why do they always go after the bottom feeders first. Time to start at the top and that means the commander-in - chief.


talenttruth Juan Olmo (MOSAICOS COQUI') 10 Jul 2015 19:19

I HOPE that this is satire. If so, funny. If not . . .

The "war" against terrorism is an INVENTED FANTASY LIE, by the U.S. military industrial complex, to waste American's money, even beyond the 53% of our ENTIRE national budget going to Eternal War (and huge eternal profits for the criminals behind the "war industry".)

Yes there are insane "terrorists." And they have insane, sociopathic leaders and lost, borderline personality "followers." But the American response (all for PROFITS) is to turn everything into a fear/fear/fear 24/7 "War."

The Republicans are the paid representative of the Eternal War Profits machine.

Having the APA support Bush, or any other criminal who kills hundreds of thousands of people, just to further enrich themselves, is despicable. And Yichen Hu is partly right, Bush, Cheney, Halliburton's entire board and a host of other criminals should have been prosecuted for war crimes years ago.

Theodore Svedberg Laudig 10 Jul 2015 18:58

True psychologists are not physicians. However, there were a number of "real" physicians, i.e. AMA accredited doctors, that worked at Guantanomo who monitored the health of torture victims and alerted the interrogators that their subjects were close to death and they did two things: stopped the torture and then treated the victims back beyond the verge of death. At that point the torturers could resume their "interrogation". We know this was happening. So far these doctors names have not been revealed.

If the APA is now cleaning house on their torturer enablers maybe it is about time for the AMA to start looking into the "real" doctors that were part of this system.

ro2124 Brucetopher 10 Jul 2015 18:57

>Why do elaborate, horrendously painful, cruel and vicious actions need >to be undertaken

No doubt some are sadists and enjoy it and as any real interrogator knows, evidence under torture is mostly useless. If someone wired up my dangly bits to the mains, I am sure I would confess anything from eating babies for breakfast to being the best mate of Osama Bin Liner!

and the Yanks still insist on lecturing the rest of us about morals and the "Land of the Free" and all the other bullshit they like to spout ...but slowly we are seeing what a bunch of hypocrite F**** they really are!


Littlemissv norecovery 10 Jul 2015 18:51

Here is a comment from JCDavis with some important information:

Russ Tice revealed that the NSA was spying on Obama as early as 2004 at the behest of Dick Cheney, who had already convinced the NSA's director Hayden to break the law and spy on everyone with power.

It can't be any coincidence that President Obama went (or was sent) to Bill "Cheney is the best Republican" Kristol to get his foreign policy validated, and Kristol congratulated him on it, calling him a "born-again neocon."

And it is no coincidence that Obama has the Cheney protegee Victoria Nuland in his administration, right in the center of his new cold war with Russia. And no coincidence that she is the wife of neocon Robert Kagan, who with Bill Kristol founded PNAC. PNAC counts neocon Paul Wolfowitz as a member, who saw Russia as our main obstacle to world empire.

It's a nest of neocons running Obama as a puppet and pushing us into a confrontation with Russia while smashing all the Russian allies according to the Wolfowitz doctrine.

Littlemissv -> marydole 10 Jul 2015 18:46

the US and it's partners in crime turn around and say "gee how come all these folks got radicalised and are out to kill us"?

Gore Vidal explained why very well back in 2002 in his book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated

Littlemissv -> ID8918386 10 Jul 2015 18:41

I'm reminded of the work of R J Lifton

Yes! Lifton appeared on Democracy Now two months ago: Robert Jay Lifton, Author of "The Nazi Doctors": Psychologists Who Aided Torture Should Be Charged

Everyone should watch Amy Goodman's terrific interview with the 89-year-old, and very wise Lifton.

gtggtg -> IanCPurdie 10 Jul 2015 18:29

"I think you will find the USA has exempted itself from international law, ..."

Yes, and they should be called on it, relentlessly. Law is not law, only tyranny, if one can exempt oneself from it.

When a Spanish court took on Pinochet and by extension his US partners, this scared the shit out of powerful people here in the US, much more than has been let on. File charges against the bastards; demand their appearance; when they refuse to show up, try them in absentia; if found guilty, arrest them should they ever touch foot in that jurisdiction or wherever there is recognized procedures for extradition. Keep doing it again and again and again. Eventually it will have an effect, although it may seem hopeless now.


Imran Nazir 10 Jul 2015 18:23

Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake. . Puts things into perspective.

Longasyourarm KDHymes 10 Jul 2015 18:21

Regrettably true. The problem began with the notion that putting pharma into bed with academics would generate miracles, a delusion shared by many neocon governments.

confettifoot Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 18:19

No - I read the link. "Learned helplessness" is a thing that's been around since Pavlov, and is helpful in compassionately understanding depression. It wasn't developed for the military, and you've taken Seligman's comments wildly out of context. I HATE these bastards, want them out of the profession - Seligman is very much a pacifist, well-known good guy, actually well out of the medicalized model, against coercion, opponent to bad stuff in the profession and that's why I was shocked.

If you have real source that he was hushing up whistleblowers show me and I'll loathe him, but it would be extraordinarily out of character. Be careful with people's reputations.


frazzerr 10 Jul 2015 18:18

This is great don't get me wrong, they deserve to be jailed and for a considerably long time, but who oversaw all of the torture and sometimes the torture of innocent people?

He is also responsible for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as a direct reaction to the 9/11 bombing when neither Iraq or Afghanistan had any connections with Al-Qaeda.

I'll never forget his comment, "'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

When is George W. Bush going to tried for his war crimes?


redpill 10 Jul 2015 18:02

US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 'collusion'

Good. Let them try using the Nuremberg defence!


MiniMo 10 Jul 2015 18:01

"an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, creates the potential for leadership firings, loss of licenses and even prosecutions."

The very sad part of this is that they were involved in even a slightest way in torture, not that they might lose their jobs or prosecuted.They fully deserve to lose their jobs at the very least.

They are expected to be caring professionals. Obviously not always so, and they've let down most of their colleagues so very badly, as the majority of them really do care.


KDHymes Pete Street 10 Jul 2015 18:01

Your last paragraph pretty much reveals your true point of view. Know any women in the military? Bet they'd appreciate your words so much.

You know what? We could argue all day about whether any of this was justified, and as others have pointed out, your argument is irrelevant because all of it is illegal under both US and international law. But let's stick with something you might understand: it does not work. Period. Coerced confessions lead to bad decisions by those who use the information. How's things going for the US and Europe in the Middle East? Did any of these crimes make a single thing better?

Please enlighten us as to what difference torture made for us. And you'll have to do better than citing the same discredited cases over and over again. EVERY TIME the government has claimed to receive useful intel from torture, it has been disproved by those actually in the know. If they have evidence that is valid, they would surely be presenting it. But no, they don't have that, because there isn't any, so the only things they can do is lie and hope the first media report out-shouts the correction.

These people are very very stupid. NGIC is right up the road from me. They continue to have amazing smug confidence about their work. And yet their work has consistently been poor and misleading. Same goes for Homeland Security, the CIA, and the NSA. Every time we actually get a look at the details, it's obvious they don't know what they are doing at all, they're just spending their budgets, and sometimes indulging their sadism and racist paranoia.

But this has been the case all along with bloated intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Look at the FBI in the 60s and 70s. It's criminal, but it's also frankly laughable. There's a culture that builds up of certainty and self-reinforced ideology, and it becomes incapable of thought. It's worse now, because so much of the intelligence gathering is done from a desk. They know very little, but pretend they know so much. All that tech and all that spying can't make you smart. And we're all paying the very high price in dollars and military lives for their willful ignorance.

confettifoot marydole 10 Jul 2015 17:55

That's correct. And we all become good Nazis insofar as we tolerate it - but the average citizen has very little power against uber-powerful institutions like those that perform these abominations with our tax dollars. It's an outrage not only against the direct victims, but against every decent American and the conscience of this country.

IGiveTheWatchToYou 10 Jul 2015 17:52

"Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian, empower the agency's director to "approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research". The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency's history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people."

I assume there's a tranche of records waiting to be discovered from US black sites around the world detailing various unspeakable illegal human experimentation projects with subjects rendered, I mean kidnapped from a war zone, by the military.


KDHymes Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 17:49

Here's an alum who heartily agrees with you. I've watched this pseudo-science play havoc with family members, generating income and label after label, while ignoring crimes. I worked as a residential social worker in Ohio for 7 years, with people who were placed in group homes and apartments after the Athens Mental Health Center was closed. Several were simply slightly eccentric people whose families had committed them for the sin of inconvenience, or in one case for daring to stand up to sexual abuse. The "care" was a scandalous mixture of polypharmacology and hideous punishments. Yeah, it was a while ago, but these folks are still alive, and the "doctors" who signed off on all of it have never been held accountable, never even been forced to apologize to them. And these days what we seem to have in the US is, like everything else, multi-tiered according to class and ethnicity and income. Being weird while poor is a shooting offense. Being an abusive sociopath while rich gets you a label and a suspended sentence, with the help of well paid "expert witnesses."

There is no integrity, no real science, behind any of it. Partly this results from the ongoing fantasy that human behavior can be reduced to chemicals and imaging. But a lot of it has to do with the profit motive and attendant careerism, with the pharmaceutical industry and the psychotherapeutic industries smiling hand in hand on the way to the bank.


aardivark 10 Jul 2015 17:49

Stephen Behnke, has a Yale law degree and a psychology Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. How ominous does that sound?

Mike Casey 10 Jul 2015 17:48

As these build, more and more people will be implicated. The APA, being a private organization can be held accountable more easily than can government officials. Hopefully this will lead to prosecution of decision makers within the government. We the people need to make our leaders accountable!

Jeffrey_Harrison usernameshinobi2 10 Jul 2015 17:35

You make me sick to my stomach. Just a few bad apples? Right. Torture is illegal under US law and our treaty obligations. For the military to conduct it, everybody from the CinC down to the individual torturer knew that. That's not a few nor were they rogue individuals acting on their own as you imply. This was systematic abuse of human beings deliberately conducted by the United States Government aided and abetted by Psychologists. They are scum and should be a total embarrassment to their profession although transparently the "profession" doesn't see it that way.

Contrary to your assertions, torture was not practiced nor condoned by the US military in the past and individual service members who tortured, even in the heat of battle, were punished. We also convicted foreigners who perpetrated the things that these psychologists did of war crimes after WWII. But never fear! I'm sure Egypt or Libya has an open slot for you in their system.


Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 17:35

http://www.thedp.com/article/2014/12/penn-study-influence-on-cia-torture-techniques

The leading scumbag in the above story is illustrated in the link. He was instrumental in hiding and excusing the links between the corrupt APA and the CIA. These greedy psychologist parasites are not physicians, everyone should realize, even though they make No attempt to clear the confusion that they are medical doctors.

The abject debasement of their own professional standards owes much to this Martin Seligman who was president of the APA and tried to squelch the whistleblowers.

He should be jailed and tortured by those who have suffered from the application of his crackpot theories, which he developed by giving electric shocks to dogs. The poor excuse for a university department that is psychology at Penn should be closed.

TaiChiMinh Pete Street 10 Jul 2015 17:35

Sorry for posting this twice, it was meant as a response to the apologist for US crimes, Pete Street:

>> The context of this historical period justifies torture not involving death or permanent physical injury, in order to protect national security at home and abroad. This context we call wartime.

Actually, the UN treaty (signed by the US in 1988 and ratified by the US in 1994) - Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman and Degrading Acts - specifically rejects the case you are trying to make, which makes you an apologist for crimes:

"2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture."

Nor does US law make an exception for wartime: "18 U.S. Code § 2340A - Torture

(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life. . . .

(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy."

Throw the book at them - and the people up to W who designed this criminal enterprise.

Maybe you can come up with an rectal destruction exception? Keep, er, probing . . .


Gegenbeispiel 10 Jul 2015 17:35

Is there way for the International Criminal Court in the Hague to issue arrest warrants against these people? The US would not, of course, recognise them but it would keep them out of international professional conferences and make them afraid to ever travel outside the US.


DerekCurrie richy1 10 Jul 2015 16:43

richy: I warned you that 'the masses' aren't prepared to face the treasonous nightmare. Don't feel bad.

Meanwhile, the proven evidence of the enablement of 9/11 by the Bush League continues to collect. Hiding from it and hating on it won't change the facts. No looniness or anti-Semite bad attitude is required to read what really went on that day and thereafter. No clap trap. No Holocaust denial. No anything denial. Just the facts. Sorry about that.


drew4439 10 Jul 2015 16:41

Witch hunt.. Where are Cheyney, Rumsfeld and Pearl in all this..


MiltonWiltmellow 10 Jul 2015 16:25

In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to "provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor", Risen wrote.

The word "collusion" comes to mind.

Perhaps "criminal conspiracy."

Kudos to those APA members/agitators who forced a reckoning.

As long as the CIA (DoJ) isn't setting up Behnke et al as scapegoats to distract from the institutional criminality of the Bush administration, this is a great report. One doesn't need the ethics of the APA to read and understand the Constitutional prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

Finally a reckoning appears on the horizon.

I hope it isn't a mirage.

These people attacked and harmed America as surely as the terrorists. Their self-proclaimed virtue and patriotism aren't relevant. (For instance, by their actions, they allow members of ISIS to argue their atrocities are reprisals.)

Let's see the DoJ and FBI perform their actual duties rather than interdicting terror plots which they imagine, instigate, finance and then -- with much publicity -- discover and prevent.

DerekCurrie 10 Jul 2015 16:17

This minor revelation about 9/11 is nothing compared to the Bush League's involvement in enabling that day and lying their way into the Iraq War, as per the plans of both the Israeli government and their pawn in the USA: PNAC, Project for the New American Century, run by the Neo-Con-Jobs. So much of this is out for anyone to read and prove to themselves at least a critical part of what really happened that day and thereafter. But the masses still aren't prepared to face that treasonous nightmare.

But if you want to get started!
Here's where scientists and engineers are collecting proven data about the actual 9/11 events. You won't enjoy it:

http://www.911truth.org

kgb999again 10 Jul 2015 16:17

I'm almost positive Mitchell and Jessen were members of the APA when they were designing and selling torture campaigns a decade ago. IIRC, at the time they were vocally supported by the then-president who also had ties to some of the companies that were monetizing interrogation techniques.

No longer being members seems irrelevant to the actions the APA has taken over the years defending the behavior of these two specifically - and the consistent APA defenses of these practices in general.

John Smith 10 Jul 2015 16:14

OK, this mind come across as a bit cold, but human rights aside, what most amazes me about this whole sad affair is that the APA didn't brief the US government about what value of intel can be gained from torture.

Torture has been found to be excellent in extracting confessions: the subject, once deprived of all hope and having to rely on their torturer for all emotional support and empathy, will confess to anything. Even shooting Kennedy.

As a means of securing reliable, actual info, it's worse than useless. Subjects will give answers to please their captors, and avoid pain.
This is widely known. If the APA didn't pass this advice on, they are actually complicit in undermining the safety and effectiveness of the US intelligence gathering organisations.

The APA would appear to have been caught up in both a blood lust for terrorists, and root and branch stupidity. What a mess.

sampson01 10 Jul 2015 16:13

The APA chose to be a rubber stamp for the govt, and allow for its members to be there to reaserch what the boundries were separating 'enhanced interrogation' and torture. Thus using human subjects being exposed to enhanced interrogation in an experiment to assess if it was in fact torture. One of the architects of this program (though hadn't renewed his APA membership) has admitted (proudly on Fox News) that he personally water boarded a prisoner during an interagation session.

[Jul 08, 2015] Government Warmongering Criminals Where Are They Now

"...The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington?"
.
"...A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. "
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"...Does anyone remember the ancient Roman symbol of republican virtue Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his farm after being named Dictator in order to defeat Rome's enemies? He then handed power back to the Senate before returning to his plowing after the job was done. The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story.""
.
"...senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds "
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"...One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry."
Jul 08, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

The United States already has by far the per capita largest prison population of any developed country but I am probably one of the few Americans who on this Independence Day would like to see a lot more people in prison, mostly drawn from politicians and senior bureaucrats who have long believed that their status makes them untouchable, giving them license to steal and even to kill. The sad fact is that while whistleblowers have been imprisoned for revealing government criminality, no one in the federal bureaucracy has ever actually been punished for the crimes of torture, kidnapping and assassination committed during the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies.

Why is accountability important? After the Second World War, the victorious allies believed it was important to establish responsibility for the crimes that had been committed by officials of the Axis powers. The judges at the Nuremberg Trials called the initiation of a war of aggression the ultimate war crime because it inevitably unleashed so many other evils. Ten leading Nazis were executed at Nuremberg and ninety-three Japanese officials at similar trials staged in Asia, including several guilty of waterboarding. Those who were not executed for being complicit in the actual launching of war were tried for torture of both military personnel and civilians and crimes against humanity, including the mass killing of civilians as well as of soldiers who had surrendered or been captured.

No matter how one tries to avoid making comparisons between 1939 and 2015, the American invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, precisely the type of conflict that the framework of accountability provided by Nuremberg was supposed to prevent in the years after 1946. High level US government officials knew that Iraq represented no threat to the United States but they nevertheless described an imminent danger posed by Saddam Hussein in the most graphic terms, replete with weapons of mass destruction, armed drones flying across the Atlantic, terrorists being unleashed against the homeland, and mushroom clouds on the horizon. The precedent of Iraq, even though it was an abject failure, has led to further military action against Libya and Syria to bring about "regime change" as well as a continuing conflict in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the US has been waging a largely secret "long war" against terrorists employing torture and secret prisons. The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington?

Many Americans would now consider the leading figures in the Bush Administration aided and abetted by many enablers in congress from both political parties to be unindicted war criminals. Together they ignited a global conflict that is still running strong fourteen years later with a tally of more than 7,000 dead Americans and a minimum of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis and Syrians.

War breeds more war, due largely to the fact that guilty parties in Washington who piggyback on the prevailing narrative move onward and upward, rewarded in this life even if not necessarily so in the hereafter. A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. Though not 100% accurate as I know at least a couple of honorable former senior officials who wound up teaching, it would seem to be a generalization that has considerable validity. The implication is that many senior government officials ascend to their positions based on being accommodating and "political" rather than being honest and they continue to do the same when they switch over to corporate America or the equally corrupted world of academia.

I thought of my friend's comment when I turned on the television a week ago to be confronted by the serious, somewhat intense gaze of Michael Morell, warning about the danger that ISIS will strike the US over the Fourth of July weekend. Morell, a former senior CIA official, is in the terror business. He had no evidence whatsoever that terrorists were planning an attack and should have realized that maneuvering the United States into constantly going on alert based on empty threats is precisely what militant groups tend to do.

When not fronting as a handsomely paid national security consultant for the CBS television network Morell is employed by Beacon Global Strategies as a Senior Counselor, presumably warning well-heeled clients to watch out for terrorists. His lifestyle and substantial emoluments depend on people being afraid of terrorism so they will turn to an expert like him and ask serious questions that he will answer in a serious way suggesting that Islamic militants could potentially bring about some kind of global apocalypse.

Morell, a torture apologist, also has a book out that he wants to sell, positing somewhat ridiculously that he and his former employer had been fighting The Great War of Our Time against Islamic terrorists, something comparable to the World Wars of the past century, hence the title. Morell needs to take some valium and relax. He would also benefit from a little introspection regarding the bad guys versus good guys narrative that he is peddling. His credentials as a warrior are somewhat suspect in any event as he never did any military service and his combat in the world of intelligence consisted largely of sitting behind a desk in Washington and providing briefings to George W. Bush and Barack Obama in which he presumably told them what they wanted to hear.

Morell is one of a host of pundits who are successful in selling the military-industrial-lobbyist-congressional-intelligence community line of BS on the war on terror. Throw in the neocons as the in-your-face agents provocateurs who provide instant intellectual and media credibility for developments and you have large groups of engaged individuals with good access who are on the receiving end of the seemingly unending cash pipeline that began with 9/11. Frances Townsend, who was the Bush Homeland Security adviser and who is now a consultant with CNN, is another such creature as is Michael Chertoff, formerly Director of the Department of Homeland Security, who has successfully marketed his defective airport scanners to his former employer.

But the guys and gals who are out feathering their own nests are at least comprehensible given our predatory capitalist system of government. More to the point, the gang that ordered or carried out torture and assassination are the ones who should be doing some hard time in the slammer but instead they too are riding the gravy train and cashing in. To name only a few of those who knew about the torture and ordered it carried out I would cite George Tenet, James Pavitt, Cofer Black and Jose Rodriguez from the intelligence community. The assassination program meanwhile is accredited to John Brennan, currently CIA Director, during his tenure as Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor. And then there are Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon together with John Yoo at Justice and Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice at the White House, all of whom outright lied, dissimulated and conspired their way to bring about a war of aggression against Iraq.

There are plenty of nameless others who were "only carrying out orders" and who should be included in any reckoning of America's crimes over the past fifteen years, particularly if one also considers the illegal NSA spying program headed by Michael Hayden, who defended the practice and has also referred to those who oppose enhanced interrogation torture as "interrogation deniers." And then there are Presidents Bush and Obama who certainly knew what was going on in the name of the American people as well as John Brennan, who was involved in both the torture and renditions programs as well as the more recent assassinations by drone.

So where are they now? Living in obscurity ashamed of what they did? Hardly. Not only have they not been vilified or marginalized, they have, in most cases, been rewarded. George W. Bush lives in Dallas near his Presidential Library and eponymous Think (sic) Tank. Cheney lives in semi-retirement in McLean Virginia with a multi-million dollar waterfront weekend retreat in St. Michaels Maryland, not too far from Donald Rumsfeld's similar digs.

George Tenet, the CIA Director notorious for his "slam-dunk" comment, a man who cooked the intelligence to make the Iraq war possible to curry favor with the White House, has generously remunerated positions on the boards of Allen & Company merchant bank, QinetiQ, and L-1 Identity Solutions. He sold his memoir At the Center of the Storm, which has been described as a "self-justifying apologia," in 2007 for a reported advance of $4 million. His book, ironically, admits that the US invaded Iraq for no good reason.

James Pavitt, who was the point man responsible for the "enhanced interrogation" program as Tenet's Deputy Director for Operations, is currently a principal with The Scowcroft Group and also serves on several boards. Cofer Black, who headed the Counter-Terrorism Center, which actually carried out renditions and "enhanced interrogations," was vice chairman of Blackwater Worldwide (now called Xe) and chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions, a Blackwater spin-off. He is now vice president of Blackbird Technologies, a defense and intelligence contractor. Rodriguez, who succeeded Black and in 2005 illegally destroyed video tapes made of Agency interrogations to avoid possible repercussions, is a senior vice president with Edge Consulting, a defense contractor currently owned by IBM that is located in Virginia.

John Yoo is a Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley while Condoleezza Rice, who spoke of mushroom clouds and is widely regarded as the worst National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in history, has returned to Stanford University. She is a professor at the Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy as well as a fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is occasionally spoken of as either a possible GOP presidential candidate or as a future Commissioner of the National Football League. Her interaction with students is limited, but when challenged on her record she has responded that it was a difficult situation post 9/11, something that everyone understands, though few would have come to her conclusion that attacking Iraq might be a good way to destroy al-Qaeda.

Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush Deputy Secretary of Defense, is seen by many as the "intellectual" driving force behind the invasion of Iraq. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and advises Jeb Bush on foreign policy. A bid to reward Wolfie for his zeal by giving him a huge golden parachute as President of the World Bank at a salary of $391,000 tax free failed when, after 23 months in the position, he was ousted over promoting a subordinate with whom he was having an affair. His chief deputy at the Pentagon Doug Feith left the Defense Department to take up a visiting professorship at the school of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, which was subsequently not renewed. He is reported to be again practicing law and thinking deep thoughts about his hero Edmund Burke, who no doubt would have been appalled to make Feith's acquaintance. Feith is a senior fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute and the Director of the Center for National Security Strategies. His memoir War and Decision did not make the best seller list and is now available used on Amazon for $.01 plus shipping. If the marketplace is anything to go by Feith and Tenet are running neck-and-neck on secondary book exchanges as George also can be had for $.01.

The over-rewarding of former officials who have in reality done great harm to the United States and its interests might well seem inexplicable, but it is all part of a style of bureaucracy that cannot admit failure and truly believes that all its actions are ipso facto legitimate because the executive and its minions can do no wrong. It is also a symptom of the classic American character flaw that all things are of necessity measured by money. Does anyone remember the ancient Roman symbol of republican virtue Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his farm after being named Dictator in order to defeat Rome's enemies? He then handed power back to the Senate before returning to his plowing after the job was done. The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story." George Washington was America's Cincinnatus and it is not a coincidence that officers of the continental army founded the Cincinnati Society, the nation's oldest patriotic organization, in 1783. It is also reported that Edward Snowden used the alias "Cincinnatus."

Lord Acton once observed that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." More recently essayist Edward Abbey put it in an American context, noting "Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." That senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds is a fault that is perhaps not unique to the United States but it is nevertheless unacceptable. Handing out a couple of exemplary prison sentences for the caste that believes itself untouchable would be a good place to start. An opportunity was missed with David Petraeus, who was fined and avoided jail time, and it will be interesting to see how the Dennis Hastert case develops. Hastert will no doubt be slapped on the wrist for the crime of moving around his own money while the corruption that was the source of that money, both as a legislator and lobbyist, will be ignored. As will his molestation of at least one and possibly several young boys. One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

[Jul 03, 2015] Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners

"...So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. "
"...Debt and war are constant partners."
"...And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

omewhere in a Greek jail, the former defence minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, watches the financial crisis unfold. I wonder how partly responsible he feels? In 2013, Akis (as he is popularly known) went down for 20 years, finally succumbing to the waves of financial scandal to which his name had long been associated. For alongside the lavish spending, the houses and the dodgy tax returns, there was bribery, and it was the €8m appreciation he received from the German arms dealer, Ferrostaal, for the Greek government's purchase of Type 214 submarines, that sent him to prison.

There is this idea that the Greeks got themselves into this current mess because they paid themselves too much for doing too little. Well, maybe. But it's not the complete picture. For the Greeks also got themselves into debt for the oldest reason in the book – one might even argue, for the very reason that public debt itself was first invented – to raise and support an army. The state's need for quick money to raise an army is how industrial-scale money lending comes into business (in the face of the church's historic opposition to usury). Indeed, in the west, one might even stretch to say that large-scale public debt began as a way to finance military intervention in the Middle East – ie the crusades. And just as rescuing Jerusalem from the Turks was the justification for massive military spending in the middle ages, so the fear of Turkey has been the reason given for recent Greek spending. Along with German subs, the Greeks have bought French frigates, US F16s and German Leopard 2 tanks. In the 1980s, for example, the Greeks spent an average of 6.2% of their GDP on defence compared with a European average of 2.9%. In the years following their EU entry, the Greeks were the world's fourth-highest spenders on conventional weaponry.

So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. Is this an unfair characterisation? A bit. It wasn't just Germany. And there were many other factors at play in the escalation of Greek debt. But the postwar difference between the Germans and the Greeks is not the tired stereotype that the former are hardworking and the latter are lazy, but rather that, among other things, the Germans have, for obvious reasons, been restricted in their military spending. And they have benefited massively from that.

Debt and war are constant partners. "The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war," wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculating the cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, pre-financial crash, to have been $3tn. Indeed, it was only this year, back in March, that the UK taxpayer finally paid off the money we borrowed to fight the first world war. "This is a moment for Britain to be proud of," said George Osborne, as he paid the final instalment of £1.9bn. Really?

The phrase "military-industrial complex" is one of those cliches of 70s leftwing radicalism, but it was Dwight D Eisenhower, a five-star general no less, who warned against its creeping power in his final speech as president. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government … we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." Ike was right.

This week, Church House, C of E HQ, hosted a conference sponsored by the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and MBDA Missile Systems. We preach about turning swords into ploughs yet help normalise an industry that turns them back again. The archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty solid on Wonga and trying to put legal loan sharks out of business. Now the church needs to take this up a level. For the debts that cripple entire countries come mostly from spending on war, not on pensions. And we don't say this nearly enough.
@giles_fraser

marsCubed,

Syriza's position has been stated in this Huffington Post article.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Yiannis Bournous, the head of international affairs for Greece's ruling Syriza party, heartily endorsed defense cuts as a way to meet the fiscal targets of Greece's international creditors.

"We already proposed a 200 million euro cut in the defense budget," Bournous said at an event hosted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, referring to cuts in Syriza's most recent proposal to its creditors. "We are willing to make it even bigger -- it is a pleasure for us."

Europe Offered Greece A Deal To Meet Its Obligations By Cutting Military Spending. The IMF Said No Way.

If the report is correct, ideology is playing just as much of a role as arithmetic in preventing a resolution. The IMF's refusal to consider a plan that would lessen pension cuts is consistent with itshistorically neoliberal political philosophy.


Giftedbutlazee 3 Jul 2015 11:52

we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.

Still as relevant now, 54 years after Eisenhower said it.


BritCol 3 Jul 2015 11:39

And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England.

The moral? War makes money for profiteers, and puts those of us not killed or displaced in debt for generations. Yet we morons keep waving flags every time a prime minister wants to send us into another conflict.


barry1947brewster 3 Jul 2015 11:39

28 May 2014 The Royal United Services Institute estimated that since the Berlin Wall fell the UK has spent £35 billion on wars. Now it is suggested that we bomb IS in Syria. Instead of printing "Paid for by the Taxpayer" on medicines provided by the NHS we should have a daily costing of our expenditure on bombs etc used in anger.


real tic 3 Jul 2015 11:23

Finally someone at Graun looks at this obvious contradiction present in the Greek governments opposition to cut in defense spending (when they apparently accept cuts to pensions, healthcare and other social services)! Well done Giles, but what's wrong with your colleagues in CIF, or even in the glass bubbled editorial offices? Why has it taken so long to examine this aspect of Greek debt?

Defense expenditure is also one reason some actors in creditor nations are content to keep Greece in debt, even as far as to see its debts deepen, as long as it keeps on buying. while within Greece, nationalism within the military has long been a way of containing far right tendencies.

It is notable but unsurprising that the current Minister of Defense in Greece is a far right politician, allied to Tsipiras in the Syriza coalition.


Pollik 3 Jul 2015 11:03

"Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners"

...and someone always makes a profit.

[Jul 03, 2015] Europe's leaders must end this reckless standoff with Greece   by Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium

"...Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?"
"...When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading. It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought. All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done."
 "...You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much. Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity."
"...That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

The possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone has never been more likely. We shouldn't be under any illusions – this would be a catastrophe for Greece's eurozone creditors, the Greek state and the European Union.

Like it or not, we are all in this together. If we continue on our current trajectory, everyone stands to lose from what now resembles a reckless, self-destructive standoff. The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again. We must remember that Germany has lent approximately €80bn. This is an astonishing figure, close to a quarter of Greece's budget for 2016. Yet the sad irony is, the longer the current impasse continues, the greater pressure Angela Merkel will face within her own party to reject any solution that is accepted by the Greek government.

But much more is at stake than euros. The world will consider a "Grexit" as a devastating blow for EU monetary cooperation and the European project. A destabilising Grexit will only be welcomed by the likes of China, Russia and those who are most threatened by a strong, united European Union. If Greece is to stay within the eurozone, we need to secure a massive de-escalation of the tensions, rhetoric and threats from both sides – and fast. It is time for Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the political leaders of the eurozone to come to their senses and bring this crisis back from the brink.


Prodisestab ->  HolyInsurgent 3 Jul 2015 18:26

Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?
 

 
Panagiotis Theodoropoulos Gjenganger 3 Jul 2015 19:20

Agreed to a good extent. However, when the discussions broke off Friday night, the two sides were very close regarding the measures that were needed. I believe that they were off by 60 million euros only. Their differences were mostly about the types of measures to be taken with the Greek government wanting more taxes on businesses and the creditors wanting more to be paid by ordinary people. The problem that I have and that a lot of observers have with that is the fact that the Greek government did compromize quite a lot while the creditors refused to budge from their inflexible position despite the fact that implementation of their policies during the last five years has put the country into a depression. A basic premise of "negotiation" is that both sides make compromises in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. In this case the creditors demonstrated total lack of flexibility, which clearly indicates alterior motives at least on the part of some of the creditors. In Germany they have fed their people with all the hate against "lazy Greeks" etc that clearly shows up in these messages and in that sense they have themselves created a very negative environment. I believe that about 90% or so of all the loans that have been given to Greece went back to the creditors. Greece is not looking for handouts here. This must be understood.

This is a debt crisis that has been mishandled and that has span out of control as a result. Economic terrorism is not justified under any conditions and particularly within the EZ.

LiveitOut 3 Jul 2015 21:45

When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading.

It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought.

All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done.


How odd all this stuff about hardworking families when we are all being screwed to kingdom come by hard whoring banking gangsters who have never done a second of useful work in their effing lives !
 

Optymystic, 3 Jul 2015 12:55

The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

The debt has been known to be unpayable for a long time. It has nothing to do with current events in Greece. It should have been written off.

No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore, and this is why a yes vote on Sunday is crucial. But it's also clear eurozone leaders have made mistakes with Greece.

But despite their nonsenses the latter group somehow, mysteriously, retain credibility. It was not the antics of Tsiparis that brought about this mess but the behaviour of his 'credible' opponents.

Greece and its creditors agree a three-month window to develop a long-term reform programme combined with an investment package to turn Greece's ailing economy around.

Now you are getting close to the Syriza position.

Let us use this crisis to deliver real, sustainable change by drawing up a settlement in the next three months in which the Greek state, its government and its administration are paying back the debts, instead of forcing hard-working citizens to pay the bill.

Is that before or after the twenty-year moratorium on debt implied by the IMF?

From the burning embers of two world wars, we have created a single market with free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

And the freedom to avoid taxes.

PaleMan -> jonbryce 3 Jul 2015 12:59

You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much.

Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity.

Danny Sheahan 3 Jul 2015 12:59

No one believes the ECB or the EU leadership anymore.

If they were serious about the Euro as a strong functional currency this mess would not be so big.

They would not have had to flush out private German and French bad debt in the 2nd bailout by putting it on the tax payer, or those countries would have had to step in to hep their banks and political careers would have been over.

The ECB has become a political football and it cannot maintain stability in its currency region. It is a failed central bank.

Vilos_Cohaagen 3 Jul 2015 12:58

"The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again."

The problem is that there's no scenario where the creditors do get paid back. So, why (for a start) "lend" them 60 billion more Euros? Wiping the debt completely out just means that the Greeks can start accumulating new "debt" they'll have no intention to re-pay and will be defaulting on a few years down the line.

BusinessWriter 3 Jul 2015 12:52

it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

Crazy - this Guy actually thinks the creditors have any chance of seeing their money again - what planet is he on.
As for his idea that the Greek state (or any state for that matter that doesn't control its own currency) can pay of its debt independent of the taxpaying public - it's deluded nonsense.

Where is the Greek state supposed to get the billions of euro from? The only source of revenue it has is taxes or selling assets that it holds on behalf of the citizens of Greece.

Equally, the idea that the clientelist state is somehow a separate thing to the majority of the Greek people is nonsense. So many of them are either employed by the state or in professions protected from competition by the state or in companies that only serve the state. Identifying anyone who doesn't benefit in some way from the current clientelist state would be like looking for an ATM in Athens with cash in it on Monday morning.

This Guy is just another symptom of the problem - he offers no sustainable solution - and what he does offer is incoherent and too late.

fullgrill -> elliot2511 3 Jul 2015 12:51

That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc.

whichone 3 Jul 2015 12:50

"Syriza's game is up. No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore"

well 1) it looks like 50% of the Greeks believe him

2) The IMF (and Merkel in leaked notes) have acknowledged that the debt is unsustainable even if Greece accept all conditions imposed by the Troika.

Varoufakis has been saying this since the start. So lets no longer pretend that this is all about getting the money back or that Greece wants to avoid its responsibility to its creditors : again will say Varoufakis has said the Greek government does not want to do this. The point is he and many other knowledgeable people (not politicians) know that it can not be paid back , but with the conditions in place to allow the economy to start to grow then Greece has a chance to pay some of it back. This is about bringing a Government to heel. I wish the Guardian , having continually reported on this crisis and knows what has been said allows a contributor to use the paper as propaganda.

And I hope that all those people who purposely said that a 'NO' vote means a no to Greece in the Euro and EU after a 'NO' result and surprise surprise Greece is still in the Euro, get thrown to the Wolves.

The same is goes with the comments about Varoufakis playing Game theory. He denied this basically saying that those who say this obviously don't know the first thing about Game Theory.

badluc TheSighingDutchman 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Genuine question: correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the electorates of Germany, Netherlands, Finland etc been consistently fed by most of their politicians (and newspapers) a completely mistaken "morality tale" about what the root causes of the problems are, blaming inefficient and corrupt governments who borrowed too much, without mentioning either the reckless lenders (mainly German, French, Dutch etc banks), were silent about the shifting of the burden of bad lending from the banks to the EU taxpayers (did they ever acknowledge that clearly?!?), describing the solution as a punitive austerity which would somehow bring moribund economies back from the abyss, etc? Politicians have a duty to be frank and sincere with their electorate, sharing with them all the relevant data they have on a given problem. If they have been feeding them misguided rhetoric, they have only themselves to blame if the chickens now come home to roost. In other words, if the electorate would now revolt against the inevitable, don't the politicians of those countries who have most strongly supported and advocated austerity have only themselves to blame?

SouthSeas 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Germany has lent 80bn to Greece to pay back loans from German banks

RudolphS 3 Jul 2015 12:47

While Verhofstadt calls for a cooling-off period he at the same time claims 'Syriza's game is up' and is urging the Greek people to vote 'yes' next sunday. With the latter he shows his true colours as just another Brussels eurocrat, and is only fuelling debate instead of cooling-off.

Dear Mr. Verhofstadt, why the hell do you think the Greek voted en masse for a party like Syriza? Because they are sick and tired of people like you.

And yes, there much more at stake than a debt. Putin must be watching this whole spectacle with total bewilderment how the EU is crippling itself from the inside.


Rainborough 3 Jul 2015 12:47

Anyone who is in danger of being impressed by conservative politician Guy Verhofstadt's perspective on Greek problems might like to bear in mknd that among his numerous other highly lucrative financial interests is his position on the board of the multi-billion Belgian investment company Sofina, whose interests include a stake in the highly controversial planned privatization of the Thessaloniki water utility.


hatewarmongers OscarD 3 Jul 2015 12:46

The neoliberal elite don't


SHappens 3 Jul 2015 12:17

In a democracy people can chose their fate by voting or through referendum. That's the way it goes but not in Europe where referendum are seen as a danger to the establishment. Tsipras, as soon as he came to power through a democratic vote was seen as a danger. He was ostracized and considered a pariah, Greece became a pariah state and they can as well die from hunger.

The EU, and institutions have behaved like the little bullies they are, just like they did with Switzerland after the vote on immigration, they threat, blackmail everyone who dare think different.

For the sake of democracy, the Greeks have to vote no, there is no other decent alternatives especially after all the bashing and disrespect they have been under. Nobody in EU and US (since they have their say in european affairs) want to see Greece walking away, nor Russia or China for that matter. But Tsipras had the opportunity to see where his real allies stand, and it is not within Europe. He might not forget this in the future.


mfederighi 3 Jul 2015 12:09

You are entirely right in suggesting that the only sustainable solution is a far-reaching reform programme for the Greek state and the reek economy. However, when you say that:

Greece's people must be at the centre of such a settlement. They did not cause this crisis and remain the victims of successive Greek governments, who have protected vested interests and the Greek clientelist system at their expense.

You seem to think that vested interest and the reek clientelist system are distinct from the Greek people. There is, I am afraid, a substantial overlap - that is, quite a few people benefit from clientelism and are part of vested interests. Not recognising this is disingenuous.

After all, corrupt and inefficient governments have been elected again and again - by whom?

jimmywalter 3 Jul 2015 12:06

The Banks solution is no solution - it means poverty and no taxes to pay to repay. The Banks want a Treaty of Versailles. We all know of a certain Austrian that rose up to end the German economic collapse. We all know how that ended. I don't want that again. People revolt over economics. Spain, Italy, and Greece have huge numbers of unemployeed who did nothing to create this crisis. The Banks did. Who should pay? Anyway, leave the Euro, stay in the EU!

[Jul 02, 2015]Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400

"...As U.S.-operated drones rain down Hellfire (missiles) on brown-skinned folks not named Smith, Jones or Thomas, you have to grasp that this too will change. How long can that technology remain under the exclusive control and purview of the US military "intelligence"?! Maybe a decade, at most? Then what shall those military death figures look like?
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During the post-Berlin Wall "peace dividend" era, our country has spent infinitely more blood, treasure and prestige on advancing our ability to kill, destroy and incarcerate lives than we have in saving and improving lives. IMHO, it is nearly inevitable that this misspent era will come home to roost in unpredictable ways over the next 20-30 years. We can always pivot and change course, but that may have little or no bearing on what others will do."
June 30, 2015 | ritholtz.com

Source: Our World In Data

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

9 Responses to "Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400"

CD4P says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Saw much of the "Apocalypse WWI" show on The American Heroes Channel recently. 10 million soldiers killed, 20 million wounded. And then there was the major flu influenza which killed another 30 million in 1918 around the world.

RiverboatGambler says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

The most interesting thing here is not that we are on all time lows but rather the length of the current downtrend.

We are now going on 70 years of downtrend post WWII. The next closest looks like about 40 years from 1640 – 1680.

What has fundamentally changed that could make this not be an outlier? Lifespan?

Very interesting in the context of cycle theories like The Fourth Turning.

kaleberg says:

formerlawyer says:

bear_in_mind says:

Lyle says:

June 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Note that the web site that this chart comes from has many other interesting charts Here is a link to the root of the site: http://ourworldindata.org/ It provides the charts bundled into a set of presentations. Including ones looking at longer term issues of violet death rates and the like.

Whammer says:

July 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

Interesting how the civilian death rate has dropped to the point where it is minimal compared to the military death rate.

NoKidding says:

July 1, 2015 at 8:51 am

Nuclear weapons, the easy way to destroy far away enemies, has been avoided because the various costs are so very high.

Large scale conventional bombing suffers from inefficiency and bad optics.

Targeted drone assualts make killing foreigners efficient and inexpensive. For example, one human in the Western world kills one or more specific humans in the not-Western world from across the globe using radio controlled weapons. No radiation, no flattened obstetricians, increasing efficiency, and falling cost of technology.

In combination with recent federalization of decision making power, particularly domestic spying and the non-criminalization of the US government killing its own wayward overseas citizens, I see a wonderous new era on the horizon.

bear_in_mind says:

[Jun 29, 2015] NSA intercepted French corporate contracts worth $200 million over decade

Jun 29, 2015 | WikiLeaks
Washington has been leading a policy of economic espionage against France for more than a decade by intercepting communications of the Finance minister and all corporate contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to a new WikiLeaks report.

The revelations come in line with the ongoing publications of top secret documents from the US surveillance operations against France, dubbed by the whistleblowing site "Espionnage Élysée."

The Monday publications consist of seven top secret documents which detail the American National Security Agency's (NSA) economic espionage operations against Paris.

According to the WikiLeaks report, "NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities."

The documents allegedly show that Washington has started spying on the French economic sector as early as 2002. WikiLeaks said that some documents were authorized for sharing with NSA's Anglophone partners – the so-called "Five Eyes" group – Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

The report strongly suggests that the UK has also benefited from the US economic espionage activities against France.

"The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!" said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a statement on Monday.

The documents published on Monday also reveal US spying on the conversations and communications the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the US, and officials with "direct responsibility for EU trade policy."

The leaked NSA documents reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food program in Iraq during the 1990s, the report said.

"The US has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million," said Assange.

"That covers not only all of France's major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year."

On June 23, WikiLeaks announced a plan to reveal a new collection of reports and documents on the NSA, concerning its alleged interception of communications within the French government over the last ten years.

In the first tranche of leaked documents WikiLeaks claimed that NSA targeted high-level officials in Paris including French presidents Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, as well as cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the US.

Despite the tapping claims made by WikiLeaks, US President Barack Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that Washington hasn't been spying on Paris top officials.

Hollande, on his part, released a statement saying that the spying is "unacceptable" and "France will not tolerate it."

It's not the first time that the NSA has been revealed to be spying on European leaders. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published at the end of 2013 the US intelligence agency had previously targeted the phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The tapping scandal is believed to have created a rift between Washington and Berlin.

The US collects the information through spy operations regardless of its sensitivity, as it has the ability to do so, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst told RT.

"It's hard to be surprised by any revelations of this kind," he said. "The snooping is conducted because it's possible to conduct it. In a new way we have a technical collection on steroids. The President of the US said that just because we can collect this material, doesn't mean we should. The thing has a momentum, an inertia of its own. Since about ten years ago it has become possible to collect everything, and that's precisely what we're doing."

[Jun 28, 2015] Inquiry needed into GCHQ's operations

Jun 28, 2015 | The Guardian

[Jun 24, 2015] So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

"...Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape."
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"...'The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.' Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses. "
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"...It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.
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To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions."
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"...In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls. "
moonofalabama.org

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

Colinjames | Jun 22, 2015 12:08:02 PM | 1

Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape.

Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 12:31:07 PM | 2

Fortunately, much of what they do is so ham-fisted and amateurish that only the gullible are gulled (which pretty much explains why ALL of the patsies convicted in ter'rism frame-ups are dimwits or cretins). Those pathetic cut & paste YouTube clips of NATO's "rebels" in Syria, swinging briefly from behind some cover and firing (in a frenzy) at unseen targets or empty streets are beyond ludicrous on many levels.

I'm unaware of any school of firearms use and techniques which encourages the firing of a weapon merely because the bearer has plenty of spare ammo.

Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 12:58:23 PM | 3

@b

The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses.

Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 1:23:26 PM | 4

And don't forget that US/UK/NATO's Imperial Ambitions are rooted in greed and cowardice. Cowards can never successfully project courage and resolve. Their over-compensation for ingrained cultural short-comings always shows through.

NATO, for example, has yet to appoint a "Leader" whose demeanor doesn't resemble the un-charismatic behaviour of a 6th Form Prefect at a Girl's College.

Watching these sissies strutting around their (private) stage, pretending to be Tough Guys is funnier than Laurel & Hardy + the Three Stooges.
And the sincerity ... Tony Bliar where are you?

harry law | Jun 22, 2015 1:25:40 PM | 5

I still think it is possible to have online discussions, I agree with Hoarsewhisperer thinking political types cannot be influenced [to any significant degree] by trolls. The only way they can win is if you forget this golden rule "Never argue with stupid people trolls, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."
― Mark Twain

Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 4:59:18 PM | 12

And talking about hasbara, there is a petition requesting a billion dollars for "putting lipstick on the pig" as a poster accurately described it above. No matter how much money zionazis allow for hasbara trolls, a zionazi pig will always be a zionazi pig (my apologies to the animal kingdom for the comparison.)

To PM Netanyahu: We demand that you vastly increase Israel's hasbara budget.

(...)Readers will recall that I have criticized the abysmal performance of Israeli public diplomacy (PD) and its failure to present its case assertively and articulately to the world.

To recap briefly

I likened the effects of this failure to those of the HIV virus that destroys the nation's immune system, leaving it unable to resist any outside pressures no matter how outlandish or outrageous. Given the gravity of the threat, I prescribed that, as prime minister, my first order of business would be to assign adequate resources to address the dangers precipitated by this failure.

To this end I stipulated that up to $1 billion should be allotted for the war on the PD front, and demonstrated that this sum was eminently within Israel's ability to raise, comprising less than 0.5 percent of GDP and under 1 percent of the state budget(...)

jfl | Jun 22, 2015 6:23:56 PM | 15

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" communications on the internet is the cyber equivalent of the US/UK's 'real world' policy of death, devastation and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen and 'austerity' at home in the US/UK/EU.

The 5-eyes and their European vassals, under control of the 5-eyed 5th column comprising the government of the EU, are the largest single source of negativity on earth.

And their fantastically expensive pursuit of all these openly negative outcomes has come at the cost of actually addressing any of our world's myriad real problems. Grillions in defense of the perceived interests of the 1%, not a cent for the interests of the planet and humanity.

Anonymous | Jun 22, 2015 6:44:36 PM | 16

Wow! It's as if no one ever heard of psyops before, not to mention Cointelpro. The only new wrinkle, though certainly worth noting, is that computers are now targeted. But seriously, who really believed the imperialists would *not* be doing shit like this?

ToivoS | Jun 23, 2015 1:50:22 AM | 21

Possibly relevant to b's current topic is the comments sections at Russia Today. Those comments have always looked to me as a real snake pit. There has always been some very ugly antisemitic comments there. I noticed in the last week that their stories on crime in America have been deluged with some of the worst white racist- antiblack comments. I kept wondering -- why would stories in the Russian press attract such virulent anti (American) black comments? It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

Almand | Jun 23, 2015 2:04:04 AM | 22

@TovioS

To be fair, a lot of real American nutjobs do frequent the RT comment section, since in the good old USA, RT is treated as an "alternative" news source akin to Alex Jones' "Prison Planet". And there is still a ton of ugly, virulent racism in the comments section of the New York Times, WaPo, Fox News (especially)... they just seem to have bigger vocabularies.

Harry | Jun 23, 2015 2:16:31 AM | 23

@ ToivoS | 20

It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

You got it. While this topic is about UK and their spies trying to disrupt, deceive, discredit, etc. etc., but US and Israel are doing it for longer and on much greater scale. They took manipulation of masses to such level (mass and social media, (mis)education, misusing science, etc), that even Goebbels could only have dreamed about it.

Speaking of social media, there were reports in recent years of US having ten of thousands employees focusing exclusively on social media. Each using software which helps to maintain x10 unique poster profiles. I think b' wrote about it as well. Therefore just US has 100.000+ of daily "posters" all around the World, trying to push US agenda. Who knows what is total number of Western propaganda trolls, and I bet the number is ever increasing.

bassalt | Jun 23, 2015 7:21:01 AM | 31

more from Greenwald- a psychologist on Board at GCHQ to make sure their 'work' is effective.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/document/2015/06/22/behavioural-science-support-jtrig/

Surprised not to see mention made here of the new 2,000 strong 'Chindit brigade' tasked with pretty much the same duties

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade

This is surely going to render a lot of the new media ineffective in terms of obtaining fast and accurate information. How the hell are we going to stop these bastards?

lysias | Jun 23, 2015 11:03:31 AM | 33

Let us remember that it was Obama staffer and adviser Cass Sunstein (Samantha Power's husband) who advised "cognitive infiltration" of the Internet by the government.

Wayoutwest | Jun 23, 2015 11:50:46 AM | 35

In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls.

I've witnessed a number of apparent operatives exposed on other blogs and they are usually easy to identify but some are clever and they rarely return once they see people are watching and know the difference between disagreement and deception.

Noirette | Jun 23, 2015 3:51:43 PM | 38

Some signs of the paid troll:

Inconsistency. This may seem counter-intuitive, but they argue in the here-and-now, against some other, usually only one, fact(s) / opinion / general trend from the past half hour. In this way they sometimes contradict themselves or mix things up, or use arguments that couldn't co-exist.

Impersonality. One more, counter-intuitive (specially as a common tactic is ad hominems, insults, etc. to disrupt no matter what.) They are not involved in the discussion and probably doing something else at the same time. This also means they don't answer questions (or only rarely), don't quote sources (much), never agree with any another poster, and never raise issues or ask genuine questions. (Any questions usually contain a pre-supposition, such as 'did the captain beat his wife today?')

Persistence. An ordinary person appalled and frightened by crazed conspiracy theorists tends to check out quickly.

Ad hominems bis. Brow-beating, authority card (sometimes some fake expertise is pulled in, like being a pilot, worked in finance), because there is nothing other left to do…

Posting during the same time each day, posting a similar amount of posts / words. Acceptable sentence structure and OK spelling with a flat, pedestrian, vocabulary. It is paid work, after all, quite similar to 'customer service for the complaints'…(and note the cuteness of all words beginning with D…lame…)

Being male and aged around 20+ - 36, maybe 40, that is presenting a persona in that age range. Men are still much more respected than women on the intertubes, and afaik women are asked to adopt a male persona and be 'aggressive' (Paul pilot, not Paula florist..)

I don't think all this is too effective, except in the sense of polarisation, getting ppl to hysterically takes sides, create divisions, and so on. As a propaganda tool it is pretty much a failure. The pay is low (no nos. does anyone know?)… For now there is no Union of 'trolls', as they are supposed to act sub rosa.

:) They should get together (from all sides) and set up a troll Union as 'propaganda agents' and apply for membership in the ITUC!

>

[Jun 24, 2015] M of A - So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

[Jun 22, 2015] Pope Francis says those in weapons industry cant call themselves Christian

Jun 22, 2015 | theguardian.com

At rally of young people in Turin, Francis issues his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry, criticizing investors as well as workers

People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

Duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another

Pope Francis

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

"If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long commentary about war, trust and politics, after putting aside his prepared address.

"It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."

Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars. He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah", using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

"The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"

Discussing the first world war, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia", but did not use the word "genocide". Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April, calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century", prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

[Jun 22, 2015] US hopes Russia may change direction when Vladimir Putin is gone

"...His talks are sure to draw Putin's ire as Moscow chafes under the prospect of continued sanctions."
.
"...It is the US whose belligerent and bellicose tune needs changing."
.
"...Finally, I find it curious that even with billions of dollars worth of satellites hovering over the Ukraine/Russia border and numerous teams of observers, not one of the claims of "Russian armored columns" has been substantiated with solid evidence. Rather, the pictures that have been presented to date have all been exposed as fakes (pictures that were actually taken in Georgia in 2008, for example)."
.
"...Freudian slip, maybe. He's just voicing the intentions of the US policy elite, "regime change" in Russia just like anywhere else with a government that doesn't bend over like Britain."
.
"...Well, at least an acknowledgement of limits of 'soft-power' tactics near RU borders, the ante will always be upped on the one hand. The bolstering he speaks of is really a bolstering of lost authority, thus the requirement for more weapons to give needed 'confidence'. Estonia, PL etc. now require substantial 'trip-wire' forces in post-Obama Europe, and least in the minds of leaders of said nations."
Jun 22, 2015 | theguardian.com

A key theme at all his stops will be how the United States, Nato and other partners can best deal with the Kremlin in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and its military backing of separatists battling Ukraine's government on the eastern border.

But part of the calculus, Carter said, will be a new playbook for Nato that deals with Russia's aggression while also recognising its important role in the nuclear talks with Iran, the fight against Islamic State militants and a peaceful political transition in Syria.

... ... ...

Officials said Carter, who left Washington on Sunday, plans to encourage allied ministers to better work together in countering threats facing Europe. His talks are sure to draw Putin's ire as Moscow chafes under the prospect of continued sanctions.


kowalli -> peacefulmilitant 22 Jun 2015 00:04

oh come on, they will sacrifice Ukraine, Poland, baltic states, it will became new
Afghanistan. They will blame Russia for this and for economic meltdown too.
USA will sign TTP,TiSa, etc .
Right now you are just spounting nonsense (c)


Phil Greene 22 Jun 2015 00:03

It is the US whose belligerent and bellicose tune needs changing.


FiendNCheeses 22 Jun 2015 00:01

Russia suffered through 70 years of communism followed by another 7 years of the Western-backed, drunken puppet, Boris Yeltsin. Love him or hate him, Putin turned that country around for the better.

He doesn't want Russia to become another vassal of the West which is another reason why he's so popular in his country and why he's so hated by the powers that be in the West. It will be a long time before Putin retires but when he does, you can bet the Russian people will not accept anyone who doesn't share their and Putin's vision for Russia.

I also doubt whether Russians share Carter's characterization of Western values as being 'forward looking', rather, I suspect they consider the West as regressing exponentially. An honest, introspective look at ourselves would reveal that maybe they're right.

Finally, I find it curious that even with billions of dollars worth of satellites hovering over the Ukraine/Russia border and numerous teams of observers, not one of the claims of "Russian armored columns" has been substantiated with solid evidence. Rather, the pictures that have been presented to date have all been exposed as fakes (pictures that were actually taken in Georgia in 2008, for example).

I couldn't care less if Russia supplied the rebels with weapons - seriously, after they overthrew that country's democratically-elected president, Ukraine deserves to lose - but at least show some solid, incontrovertible proof instead of relying solely on unsubstantiated propaganda.

NazMan 22 Jun 2015 00:00

Ash carter say 'blah blah blah' interpreted. Our president has now aimed our current missiles to Russian targets, but lets not talk about that. Putin replies 'blah blah blah... We have just ordered 40 ballistic missiles. Blah blah blah.' And the world watches as we go into another nuclear arms race. We did all this in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Will our leaders never learn?


adognow ID5868758 21 Jun 2015 23:58

Freudian slip, maybe. He's just voicing the intentions of the US policy elite, "regime change" in Russia just like anywhere else with a government that doesn't bend over like Britain.

Of course, by Einstein's definition, they're all insane because every "regime change" action has resulted in nothing but abject failure and bloodbaths, and these assholes still continue peddling the same rubbish.


Viktor Korsakov 21 Jun 2015 23:56

Yeah well Ash Carter is another naive numpty. Putin can be elected as President in 2018 and if he didn't then his buddy Shoigu would. I hate the man, I have far more isolationist and aggressive views, as do others, which is why the west should be glad he does such a fine job at appeasing such people but not going as far to completely alienate those in Russian politics that would have more cooperation with other countries.

Shame that not many outside the country understand that, the Crimean move was all about internal politics while the rest of the murky and chaotic Ukrainian issue came as an unintended and uncontrollable result.

Culturally, the everyday Russian citizen such as myself hates how the cost of living is rising and how our life savings are being made worthless because of all this bollocks, but we understand that a united country is important and would sooner blame foreign influence than betray a leader. It's irritating that people thought sanctions would ever inspire some revolution or in the very least weaken the ruling party, but rather it's quite the opposite here.

kowalli -> centerline 21 Jun 2015 23:39

It's not about nukes - USA have nuke in Europe, Israel have nukes( wtf really?) in german-made subs, China have, etc.
it's about self-defence -> you don't have nukes -> USA will bomb you and steal your resources and gold
Libya - gold stolen by USSA, Ukraine - gold stolen by USSA, etc...

AtraHasis 21 Jun 2015 23:38

For a start, Putin doesn't seem like he's intending on leaving any time soon.

On top of that, Russia sees the US as a genuine threat. Considering US behaviour in Europe, not to mention their aggressive posturing in Asia, I can't say that I blame them.

I wonder if the US realises that they're just perpetuating the conditions which ensure Russia will demand an aggressive leader in response. Not to mention the exclusionary tactics of the incoming TPP-style policies.

Why do you think Russia is setting up as many trade deals as possible right now? Because both they and China will be backed into a corner by the these policies. If we're not careful, we could genuinely have a new Cold War on our hands. Hell, we may already.

Mike Purdon -> Zepp 21 Jun 2015 23:34

Its easy to call Medvedev a puppet but Russia's posture was significantly different under his leadership. I would be more inclined to believe that is why Putin came back in the first place,

Profhambone 21 Jun 2015 23:30

Great. What happened when the USSR moved missiles into Cuba after the US move missiles into Turkey? What would we do if Russia began to arm Mexico with equipment and an alliance?

Oh yeah, the Old Monroe Doctrine that no one ask the South Americans if they wanted it put on them. But then they are not exceptional like Amerikans are. We're kinda like the Germans during the late 30's and early 40's in the way we have thought about ourselves .......

Mike Purdon ID9492736 21 Jun 2015 23:29

Its clear the US is simply signalling they are in for the long game. Its part message to Russia but also a message for Europe as Carter is there to discuss with his partners the long term strategy, whatever that may be. I think we're at the point where peace in Ukraine is enough to get rid of European sanctions. Americans probably won't drop most of theirs but they've always maintained Russian specific sanctions.


ID9492736 -> Seriatim 21 Jun 2015 23:25

It is better to have a global house made of BRICS than the one made by dicks.


BMWAlbert -> KriticalThinkingUK 21 Jun 2015 23:25

Well, at least an acknowledgement of limits of 'soft-power' tactics near RU borders, the ante will always be upped on the one hand. The bolstering he speaks of is really a bolstering of lost authority, thus the requirement for more weapons to give needed 'confidence'. Estonia, PL etc. now require substantial 'trip-wire' forces in post-Obama Europe, and least in the minds of leaders of said nations.


CraigSummers 21 Jun 2015 23:23

".......At an investment conference on Friday in Russia, Putin blamed the US and the European Union for triggering the Ukrainian crisis by refusing to take into account what he described as Russia's legitimate interests....."

Legitimate Russian interests simply is double speak for Russia's legitimate area of influence - a domination of eastern Europe by the USSR during the cold war. When the USSR collapsed, 15 countries were freed from Soviet control. Most chose to join the EU and NATO. Ukraine, Belarus and a couple of others remained tightly controlled by Russia and the SVR. When Ukraine attempted to develop closer relations with Europe, the Russian puppet, Yanukovych, put a stop to an economic deal with Europe leading to the coup, the illegal annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine (backed by Putin).

The cold war is over and Russia needs to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. The Russian empire collapsed in the latter part of the twentieth century and Putin needs to get over it.


ID9492736 21 Jun 2015 23:19

Joseph Stalin responds to Ash Carter: "Well, Comrade Ash, I've been itching to return. It's been bitchin' cold in here, no vodka or cigars anywhere in sight, and I would like to go back to my old job and kill some fifth column trolls, they seem to have started multiplying like amoebas ever since that idiot Yeltsin sold to the Wall Street everything that wasn't nailed to the Kremlin wall. I bring with me a glorious resume and a stellar list of accomplishments, including saving the West from itself. When do I start?"

Seriatim -> Omniscience 21 Jun 2015 23:19

Every year we can celebrate decades of Washington led stupidity and lawlessness.
A long line of idiots who ensured the lives of millions of Americans were wrecked and 1000s of innocents worldwide were murdered, and who terrorist great swathes of the world still today.

The icing on the cake was the rigged election of 20001 which put the murderer Bush in power.

There, fixed.


Meng Ian -> Omniscience 21 Jun 2015 23:00

only if economy is the sole indicator for measuring how much power one country wields. Need I remind you that RF has one of the biggest nuke arsenals in the world. With a stick as powerful as the one RF has, which is capable of shattering the world many times, no politician should call it a middle-size power. Also, if RF were just one rogue middle-size power, then why the US not just crashes it as it had crashed Iraq (a regional power in the middle east indeed), or makes threats of crashing it as it had on Iran (another major player in the middle east)?

mikea1 -> Zepp 21 Jun 2015 22:32

If we are lucky, Putin or Leaders of his stature will be in place, the world needs it.

ID5868758 -> mikesmith 21 Jun 2015 22:29

Didn't read your post before I wrote mine, concur 100%. The neocons in the State Department are on "overreach" now, they should have folded their hand when "Nuland's Folly" failed, instead they seem be doubling down on stupid, and endangering the entire European continent in the bargain. Dangerous people.


ID5868758 21 Jun 2015 22:22

And, of course, Carter has nothing but concerns about what's best for Russia and Russians, right? Who buys this nonsense? It's embarrassing to have it voiced by an official so high in the Obama administration, really, it's pure propaganda that reflects none of the reality in Russia, and the support that President Putin receives from the Russian people.

mikesmith 21 Jun 2015 22:19

As an American, I can only hope that once Obama is gone that the US will come to its senses and make some significant changes in its belligerent attitude to Russia. It's quite frightening that Obama, Carter, Kerry and their cabal are deliberating fomenting war when there is clearly no real threat and certainly no desire for war on the part of the Russians. Quite embarrassing. Rest assured that most Americans do not share their hostility towards the rest of the world, and are rather ashamed of what Obama has been doing. We want peaceful relations with the rest of the world. In addition, it's rather embarrassing that the US should be confronting the Russians, while cozying up to the utterly despicable and repressive regime in Saudi Arabia. Talk about misplaced priorities and distorted values.

PaddyCannuck 21 Jun 2015 22:07

Still pushing the same old canard of Russian reaction to NATO aggression being "Russian aggression", and still pressing for regime change. Plus ca change etc.

[Jun 20, 2015]Charleston and the National-Security State

"...Why should Americans have their pretty little heads bothered with such unpleasantries? Just leave "national security" to us, U.S. officials say, and we'll do whatever is necessary to "keep you safe" from all those scary creatures out there who want to come and get you and take you away. Oh, and be sure to keep all those trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars flooding into our "defense" coffers."
Jun 19, 2015 | The Future of Freedom Foundation

... Ever since 9/11, the American people have operated under the quaint notion that all the violence that the Pentagon and the CIA have been inflicting on people in foreign nations has an adverse effect only over there. The idea has been that as long as all the death, torture, assassinations, bombings, shootings, and mayhem were in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, Americans could go pleasantly on with their lives, going to work, church, and fun sporting events where everyone could praise and pray for the troops for "defending our freedoms" and "keeping us safe."

Through it all, the national-security state, with the cooperation of the mainstream media, has done its best to immunize Americans from all the violence, death, and mayhem that they've been wreaking on people over there.

Anything and everything to keep the American people from having to confront, assimilate, and process the ongoing culture of violence that the national-security state has brought to people in other parts of the world.

Why should Americans have their pretty little heads bothered with such unpleasantries? Just leave "national security" to us, U.S. officials say, and we'll do whatever is necessary to "keep you safe" from all those scary creatures out there who want to come and get you and take you away. Oh, and be sure to keep all those trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars flooding into our "defense" coffers.

As an aside, have you ever noticed that Switzerland, which is one of the most armed societies in the world, is not besieged by a "war on terrorism" and by gun massacres? I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the Swiss government isn't involved in an ongoing crusade to violently remake the world in its image.

Ask any American whether all that death and destruction at the hands of the military and the CIA is necessary, and he's likely to say, "Well, of course it is. People all over the world hate us for our freedom and values. We've got to kill them over there before they come over here to kill us. The war on terrorism goes on forever. I'm a patriot! Praise the troops!"

The thought that the entire scheme of ongoing violence is just one great big racket just doesn't even occur to them. That's what a mindset of deference to authority does to people.

All that ongoing violence that has formed the foundation of America's governmental structure since the totalitarian structure known as the national-security state came into existence after World War II is at the core of the national sickness to which Rand Paul alludes.

And so is the extreme deference to authority paid to the national-security establishment by all too many Americans who have converted the Pentagon and the CIA into their god — one who can do no wrong as it stomps around the world killing, torturing, bombing, shooting, invading, maiming, and occupying, all in the name of "national security," a ridiculous term if there ever was one, a term not even found in the U.S. Constitution.

As I have long written, the national-security establishment has warped and perverted the values, morals, and principles of the American people. This totalitarian structure that was grafted onto our governmental system after World War II to oppose America's World War II partner and ally the Soviet Union has stultified the consciences of the American people, causing them to subordinate themselves to the will and judgment of the military (including the NSA) and the CIA and, of course, to surrender their fundamental God-given rights to liberty and privacy in the quest to be "kept safe" from whoever happens to be the official enemy of the day.

The discomforting fact is that the American people have not been spared the horrific consequences of the ongoing culture of violence that the U.S. national-security establishment has brought to foreign lands. The ongoing culture of violence that forms the foundation of the national security state — killing untold numbers of people on a perpetual basis — has been a rotting and corrosive cancer that has been destroying America from within and that continues to do so.

It's that ongoing culture of violence that brings out the crazies and the loonies, who see nothing wrong with killing people for no good reason at all. In ordinary societies, the crazies and the loonies usually just stay below the radar screen and live out their lives in a fairly abnormal but peaceful manner. But in dysfunctional societies, such as ones where the government is based on killing, torturing, maiming, and destroying people on a constant basis, the crazies and the loonies come onto the radar screen and commit their crazy and loony acts of violence.

... ... ...

[Jun 18, 2015] Torture is a war crime the government treats like a policy debate

"...Torture is and has been illegal in the US, so no new law is needed. Prosecute to the full extent anyone who authorized, implemented or has or is covering up these grave crimes. Starting at the Very Top on down. Now. "
.
"...Obama appears to see as his primary goal greasing the skids of American decline. Washington has lost all credibility as presiding over a democracy governed by the rule of law, what with this two-tiered justice system. Celebrate the betrayers of the constitution and punish those who blow the whistle on them. While it's five years old, Alfred McCoy's article on the US decline was cited twice last week, reminding me of how hard-hitting McCoy's argument is. It can be found at TomDispatch"
.
"...The routine use of torture by Savak may well have contributed heavily to the failure of the Shah, particularly considering that these people were probably concentrated in the cities where most of the action took place."
Jun 17, 2015 | The Guardian
Torture architects are television pundits and given enormous book contracts while Guantanamo detainees still can't discuss what happened to them

GUANTANAMO
Prisoners haven't been allowed to talk about what happened to them here. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Wednesday 17 June 2015 07.15 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 17 June 2015 13.35 EDT

Torture is and has been illegal in the US, so no new law is needed. Prosecute to the full extent anyone who authorized, implemented or has or is covering up these grave crimes. Starting at the Very Top on down. Now.

CraigSummers, 17 Jun 2015 16:16)

  • The evidence that torture doesn't work is overwhelming.
  • http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/senate-committee-cia-torture-does-not-work
  • http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/08/world/does-torture-work-the-cias-claims-and-what-the-committee-found.html?_r=0
  • http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/cia-torture-report-released
  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11283082/Does-the-use-of-torture-ever-work.html
  • http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/09/dick-cheney-defends-torture-al-qaida
  • capatriot -> CraigSummers 17 Jun 2015 16:12

    The president's oath is to obey the law, the constitution, not to "keep Americans safe." Torture is illegal for good and proper reasons. It cannot be used and, if used, must be prosecuted and punished.

    It is immaterial if it "works" ... this is not Dirty Harry or Jack Bauer; this is real governance: a govt of laws, not men.

    bloggod 17 Jun 2015 16:07

    "The only reason a host of current and former CIA officials aren't already in jail is because of cowardice on the Obama administration," says Timm
    ________

    An emphatic collusion of many more complicit parties would seem to suggest the world is not run by Obama...

    ID8667623 17 Jun 2015 15:30

    Obama appears to see as his primary goal greasing the skids of American decline. Washington has lost all credibility as presiding over a democracy governed by the rule of law, what with this two-tiered justice system. Celebrate the betrayers of the constitution and punish those who blow the whistle on them.

    While it's five years old, Alfred McCoy's article on the US decline was cited twice last week, reminding me of how hard-hitting McCoy's argument is. It can be found at TomDispatch:

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175327/tomgram%3A_alfred_mccoy%2C_taking_down_america

    gbob5366 -> outkast1213 17 Jun 2015 14:54

    I, being a US citizen, feel that it is up to us to stand up to US imperialism.
    Until we, in the US, stand up and say "Enough", this country will continue it's attack upon the world.

    Wake up America !

    PS. You see that the war has come home... just look at the military armament being used by the police. And, we need to stand up all together! Please, Mr. Policeman, don't shoot us. Protect us against the 1%.

    JimHorn 17 Jun 2015 11:20

    In the run up to the Iranian Revolution, I worked with an Iranian woman in a restaurant. She wore the same short sleeve blouse as the others, and her skirt was only an inch or two longer. Her husband was a grad student at the university. Obviously thoroughly westernized. I took the opportunity to ask an actual Iranian about the events that were happening in her homeland.

    She told me that her brother, a student, had been picked up and tortured by Savak, the Shah's secret police. She said

    "No one in my family, my father, my brothers, my uncles, my cousins, - will support the Shah. We hate Khomeini, but we also hate the Shah. We will let Khomeini overthrow the Shah and then we will overthrow Khomeini."

    These were people who should have been on the side of the westernizing Shah but sat on the sidelines. Some reports say that Savak may have treated up to 100,000 people like this woman's brother. Allowing for ten adult relatives per victim, we get a million westernized Iranians. The population at the time was about 30 million. The routine use of torture by Savak may well have contributed heavily to the failure of the Shah, particularly considering that these people were probably concentrated in the cities where most of the action took place.

    Note that Savak, sadly, trained by our CIA, was intent on preventing a communist takeover and concentrated on those who wished to westernize government as well as the economy. They utterly failed to deal with the threat from religious conservatives.

    [Jun 15, 2015] Five Reasons the MI6 Story is a Lie

    June 14, 2015 | Craig Murray

    by craig on 10:06 am in Uncategorized

    The Sunday Times has a story claiming that Snowden's revelations have caused danger to MI6 and disrupted their operations. Here are five reasons it is a lie.

    1) The alleged Downing Street source is quoted directly in italics. Yet the schoolboy mistake is made of confusing officers and agents. MI6 is staffed by officers. Their informants are agents. In real life, James Bond would not be a secret agent. He would be an MI6 officer. Those whose knowledge comes from fiction frequently confuse the two. Nobody really working with the intelligence services would do so, as the Sunday Times source does. The story is a lie.

    2) The argument that MI6 officers are at danger of being killed by the Russians or Chinese is a nonsense. No MI6 officer has been killed by the Russians or Chinese for 50 years. The worst that could happen is they would be sent home. Agents' – generally local people, as opposed to MI6 officers – identities would not be revealed in the Snowden documents. Rule No.1 in both the CIA and MI6 is that agents' identities are never, ever written down, neither their names nor a description that would allow them to be identified. I once got very, very severely carpeted for adding an agents' name to my copy of an intelligence report in handwriting, suggesting he was a useless gossip and MI6 should not be wasting their money on bribing him. And that was in post communist Poland, not a high risk situation.

    3) MI6 officers work under diplomatic cover 99% of the time. Their alias is as members of the British Embassy, or other diplomatic status mission. A portion are declared to the host country. The truth is that Embassies of different powers very quickly identify who are the spies in other missions. MI6 have huge dossiers on the members of the Russian security services – I have seen and handled them. The Russians have the same. In past mass expulsions, the British government has expelled 20 or 30 spies from the Russian Embassy in London. The Russians retaliated by expelling the same number of British diplomats from Moscow, all of whom were not spies! As a third of our "diplomats" in Russia are spies, this was not coincidence. This was deliberate to send the message that they knew precisely who the spies were, and they did not fear them.

    4) This anti Snowden non-story – even the Sunday Times admits there is no evidence anybody has been harmed – is timed precisely to coincide with the government's new Snooper's Charter act, enabling the security services to access all our internet activity. Remember that GCHQ already has an archive of 800,000 perfectly innocent British people engaged in sex chats online.

    5) The paper publishing the story is owned by Rupert Murdoch. It is sourced to the people who brought you the dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, every single "fact" in which proved to be a fabrication. Why would you believe the liars now?

    There you have five reasons the story is a lie.

    Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

    [Jun 15, 2015] Snowden, Putin, Greece It's All The Same Story

    "...In short, the propaganda we should be worried about is not Russia's, it's our own. And it comes from just about every news article we're fed. We're much less than six degrees removed from Orwell."
    .
    "...Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it's hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they've learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets "report," especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting."
    Jun 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge

    Submitted by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

    Through the last decades, as we have been getting ever more occupied trying to be what society tells us is defined as successful, we all missed out on a lot of changes in our world. Or perhaps we should be gentle to ourselves and say we're simply slow to catch up.

    Which is somewhat curious since we've also been getting bombarded with fast increasing amounts of what we're told is information, so you'd think it might have become easier to keep up. It was not.

    While we were busy being busy we for instance were largely oblivious to the fact the US is no longer a beneficial force in the world, and that it doesn't spread democracy or freedom. Now you may argue to what extent that has ever been true, and you should, but the perception was arguably much closer to the truth 70 years ago, at the end of WWII, then it is today.

    Another change we really can't get our heads around is how the media have turned from a source of information to a source of – pre-fabricated – narratives. We'll all say to some extent or another that we know our press feeds us propaganda, but, again arguably, few of us are capable of pinpointing to what extent that is true. Perhaps no big surprise given the overdose of what passes for information, but duly noted.

    So far so good, you're not as smart as you think. Bummer. But still an easy one to deny in the private space of your own head. If you get undressed and stand in front of the mirror, though, maybe not as easy.

    What ails us is, I was going to say perfectly human, but let's stick with just human, and leave perfection alone. What makes us human is that it feels good to be protected, safe, and prosperous. Protected from evil and from hard times, by a military force, by a monetary fund, by a monetary union. It feels so good in fact that we don't notice when what's supposed to keep us safe turns against us.

    But it is what happens, time and again, and, once again arguably, ever more so. What we think the world looks like is increasingly shaped by fiction. Perhaps that means we live in dreamtime. Or nightmare time. Whatever you call it, it's not real. Pinching yourself is not going to help. Reading Orwell might.

    The Sunday Times ran a story today -which the entire world press parroted quasi verbatim- that claimed MI6 had felt compelled to call back some of its operatives from the 'field' because Russia and China had allegedly hacked into the encrypted files Edward Snowden allegedly carried with him to Russia (something Snowden denied on multiple occasions).

    Glenn Greenwald's take down of the whole thing is – for good reasons- far better than I could provide, and it's blistering, it leaves not a single shred of the article. Problem is, the die's been cast, and many more people read the Times and all the media who've reprinted its fiction, than do read Greenwald:

    The Sunday Times' Snowden Story Is Journalism At Its Worst

    Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it's hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they've learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets "report," especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

    We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined "British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese." Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries "have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services."

    Please read Greenwald's piece. It's excellent. Turns out the Times made it all up. At the same time, it's just one example of something much more expansive: the entire world view of the vast majority of Americans and Europeans, and that means you too, is weaved together from a smorgasbord of made-up stories, narratives concocted to make you see what someone else wants you to see.

    Last week, the Pew Research Center did a survey that was centered around the question what 'we' should do if a NATO ally were attacked by Russia. How Pew dare hold such a survey is for most people not even a valid question anymore, since the Putin as bogeyman tale, after a year and change, has taken root in 99% of western brains.

    And so the Pew question, devoid of reality as it may be, appears more legit than the question about why the question is asked in the first place. NATO didn't really like the results of the survey, but enough to thump some more chests. Here's from an otherwise wholly forgettable NY Times piece:

    Poles were most alarmed by Moscow's muscle flexing, with 70% saying that Russia was a major military threat. Germany, a critical American ally in the effort to forge a Ukraine peace settlement, was at the other end of the spectrum. Only 38% of Germans said that Russia was a danger to neighboring countries aside from Ukraine, and only 29% blamed Russia for the violence in Ukraine. Consequently, 58% of Germans do not believe that their country should use force to defend another NATO ally. Just 19% of Germans say NATO weapons should be sent to the Ukrainian government to help it better contend with Russian and separatist attacks.

    Do we need to repeat that Russia didn't attack Ukraine? That if after all this time there is still zero proof for that, perhaps it's time to let go of that idea?

    Over the past week, there have been numerous reports of NATO 'strengthening' its presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Supposedly to deter Russian aggression in the region. For which there is no evidence. But if you ask people if NATO should act if one of its allies were attacked, you put the idea in people's heads that such an attack is a real risk. And that's the whole idea.

    This crazy piece from the Guardian provides a very good example of how the mood is manipulated:

    US And Poland In Talks Over Weapons Deployment In Eastern Europe

    The US and Poland are discussing the deployment of American heavy weapons in eastern Europe in response to Russian expansionism and sabre-rattling in the region in what represents a radical break with post-cold war military planning. The Polish defence ministry said on Sunday that Washington and Warsaw were in negotiations about the permanent stationing of US battle tanks and other heavy weaponry in Poland and other countries in the region as part of NATO's plans to develop rapid deployment "Spearhead" forces aimed at deterring Kremlin attempts to destabilise former Soviet bloc countries now entrenched inside NATO and the EU.

    Warsaw said that a decision whether to station heavy US equipment at warehouses in Poland would be taken soon. NATO's former supreme commander in Europe, American admiral James Stavridis, said the decision marked "a very meaningful policy shift", amid eastern European complaints that western Europe and the US were lukewarm about security guarantees for countries on the frontline with Russia following Vladimir Putin's seizure of parts of Ukraine. "It provides a reasonable level of reassurance to jittery allies, although nothing is as good as troops stationed full time on the ground, of course," the retired admiral told the New York Times.

    NATO has been accused of complacency in recent years. The Russian president's surprise attacks on Ukraine have shocked western military planners into action. An alliance summit in Wales last year agreed quick deployments of NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic states. German mechanised infantry crossed into Poland at the weekend after thousands of NATO forces inaugurated exercises as part of the new buildup in the east. Wary of antagonising Moscow's fears of western "encirclement" and feeding its well-oiled propaganda effort, which regularly asserts that NATO agreed at the end of the cold war not to station forces in the former Warsaw Pact countries, NATO has declined to establish permanent bases in the east.

    It's downright borderline criminally tragic that NATO claims it's building up its presence in the region as a response to Russian actions. What actions? Nothing was going on until 'we' supported a coup in Kiev, installed a puppet government and let them wage war on their own citizens. That war killed a lot of people. And if Kiev has any say in the matter, it ain't over by a long shot. Poroshenko and Yats still want it all back. So does NATO.

    When signing a post-cold war strategic cooperation pact with Russia in 1997, Nato pledged not to station ground forces permanently in eastern Europe "in the current and foreseeable security environment". But that environment has been transformed by Putin's decision to invade and annex parts of Ukraine and the 1997 agreement is now seen as obsolete.

    Meanwhile, Russia re-took Crimea without a single shot being fired. But that is still what the western press calls aggression. Russia doesn't even deem to respond to 'our' innuendo, they feel there's nothing to be gained from that because 'our' stories have been pre-cooked and pre-chewed anyway. Something that we are going to greatly regret.

    There are all these alphabet soup organizations that were once set up with, one last time, arguably, good intentions, and that now invent narratives because A) they can and B) they need a reason to continue to exist. That is true for NATO, which should have been dismantled 25 years ago.

    It's true for the IMF, which was always only a tool for US domination. It's true for the CIA and FBI, which might keep you safe if that was their intent, but which really only function to keep themselves and their narrow group of paymasters safe.

    It's also true for political unions, like the US and EU. Let's leave the former alone for now, though much could be said and written about the gaping distance between what the Founding Fathers once envisioned for the nation and what it has since descended into.

    Still, that is a story for another day. When we can find our way through the web of narratives that holds it upright. Like the threat from Russia, the threat from China, the threat from all the factions in the Middle East the US itself (helped) set up.

    The EU is much younger, though its bureaucrats seem eager to catch up with America in fictitious web weaving. We humans stink at anything supra-national. We can have our societies cooperate, but as soon as we invent 'greater' units to incorporate that cooperation, things run off the rails, the wrong people grab power, and the weaker among us get sacrificed. And that is what's happening once again, entirely predictably, in Greece.

    That Spain's two largest cities, Barcelona and Madrid, have now sworn in far-left female mayors this week will only serve to make things harder for Athens. Brussels is under siege, and it will defend its territory as 'best' it can.

    What might influence matters, and not a little bit, is that Syriza's Audit Commission is poised to make public its findings on June 18, and that they yesterday revealed they have in their possession a 2010 IMF document that allegedly proves that the Fund knew back then, before the first bail-out, that the Memorandum would result in an increase in Greek debt.

    That's potentially incendiary information, because the Memorandum -and the bailout- were aimed specifically at decreasing the debt. That -again, allegedly- none of the EU nations have seen the document at the time -let's see how the spin machine makes that look- doesn't exactly make it any more acceptable.

    Nor of course does the fact that Greece's debt could and should have been restructured, according to the IMF's own people and 'standards', but wasn't until 2012, when the main European banks had been bailed out with what was subsequently shoved onto the shoulders of the Greek population, and had withdrawn their 'assets' from the country, a move that made Greece's position that much harder.

    The narrative being sold through the media in other eurozone nations is that Greece is to blame, that for instance German taxpayers are on the hook for Greek debts, while they're really on the hook for German banks' losing wagers (here's looking at you, Deutsche!). And that is, no matter how you twist it, not the same story. It's again just a narrative.

    Once more, and we've said it many times before, Brussels is toxic -and so is the IMF- and Greece should leave as soon as possible, as should Italy, Spain, Portugal. And we should all resist the spin-induced attempts to demonize Putin, Athens and China any further, and instead focus on the rotten apples in our own basket(s).

    In short, the propaganda we should be worried about is not Russia's, it's our own. And it comes from just about every news article we're fed. We're much less than six degrees removed from Orwell.

    [Jun 14, 2015] Snowden files read by Russia and China: five questions for UK government

    The Guardian

    The government has an obligation to respond to the Sunday Times report that MI6 has been forced to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries

    The Sunday Times produced what at first sight looked like a startling news story: Russia and China had gained access to the cache of top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    Not only that, but as a result, Britain's overseas intelligence agency, the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, had been forced "to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries".

    These are serious allegations and, as such, the government has an obligation to respond openly.

    The story is based on sources including "senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services". The BBC said it had also also been briefed anonymously by a senior government official.

    Anonymous sources are an unavoidable part of reporting, but neither Downing Street nor the Home Office should be allowed to hide behind anonymity in this case.

    1. Is it true that Russia and China have gained access to Snowden's top-secret documents? If so, where is the evidence?

    Which cache of documents is the UK government talking about? Snowden has said he handed tens of thousands of leaked documents over to journalists he met in Hong Kong, and that he has not had them in his possession since. Have Russia and China managed to access documents held by one of the journalists or their companies?

    In addition, if agents had to be moved, why? Which Snowden documents allegedly compromised them to the extent they had to be forcibly removed from post?

    2. Why have the White House and the US intelligence agencies not raised this?

    Snowden is wanted by the US on charges under the Espionage Act. The White House, the US intelligence agencies and especially some members of Congress have been desperate to blacken Snowden's reputation. They have gone through his personal life and failed to come up with a single damaging detail.

    If the UK were to have evidence that Russia and China had managed to penetrate his document cache or that agents had been forced to move, London would have shared this with Washington. The White House would have happily briefed this openly, as would any number of Republican – and even Democratic – members of Congress close to the security services. They would not have stinted. It would have been a full-blown press conference.

    Related: UK under pressure to respond to latest Edward Snowden claims

    The debate in the US has become more grownup in recent months, with fewer scare stories and more interest in introducing reforms that will redress the balance between security and privacy, but there are still many in Congress and the intelligence agencies seeking vengeance.

    3. Why have these claims emerged now?

    Most the allegations have been made before in some form, only to fall apart when scrutinised. These include that Snowden was a Chinese spy and, when he ended up in Moscow, that he was a Russian spy or was at least cooperating with them. The US claimed 56 plots had been disrupted as a result of surveillance, but under pressure acknowledged this was untrue.

    The claim about agents being moved was first made in the UK 18 months ago, along with allegations that Snowden had helped terrorists evade surveillance and, as a result, had blood on his hands. Both the US and UK have since acknowledged no one has been harmed.

    So why now? One explanation is that it is partly in response to Thursday's publication of David Anderson's 373-page report on surveillance. David Cameron asked the QC to conduct an independent review and there is much in it for the government and intelligence services to like, primarily about retaining bulk data.

    Anderson is scathing, however, about the existing legal framework for surveillance, describing it as intolerable and undemocratic, and he has proposed that the authority to approve surveillance warrants be transferred from the foreign and home secretaries to the judiciary.

    His proposal, along with another surveillance report out next month from the Royal United Services Institute, mean that there will be continued debate in the UK. There are also European court rulings pending. Web users' increasing use of encryption is another live issue. Above all else though, there is the backlash by internet giants such as Google, which appear to be less prepared to cooperate with the intelligence agencies, at least not those in the UK.

    The issue is not going away and the Sunday Times story may reflect a cack-handed attempt by some within the British security apparatus to try to take control of the narrative.

    4. Why is the Foreign Office not mentioned as a source?

    It seems like a pedantic point, but one that could offer an insight into the manoeuvring inside the higher reaches of government. The Foreign Office is repsonsible for MI6, but the Home Office is quoted in the story. Is it that the Home Office and individuals within the department rather than the Foreign Office are most exercised about the potential transfer of surveillance warrant approval from the home secretary, the proposed scrapping of existing legislation covering surveillance and other potential reforms?

    5. What about the debatable assertions and at least one totally inaccurate point in the Sunday Times piece?

    The Sunday Times says Snowden "fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in US history". In fact he fled Hong Kong bound for Latin America, via Moscow and Cuba. The US revoked his passport, providing Russia with an excuse to hold him in transit.

    The Sunday Times says it is not clear whether Russia and China stole Snowden's data or "whether he voluntarily handed over his secret documents in order to remain at liberty in Hong Kong and Moscow". The latter is not possible if, as Snowden says, he gave all the documents to journalists in Hong Kong in June 2013.

    The Sunday Times also reports that "David Miranda, the boyfriend of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 'highly-classified' intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow".

    This is inaccurate. Miranda had in fact been in Berlin seeing the film-maker Laura Poitras, not in Moscow visiting Snowden. It is not a small point.

    The claim about Miranda having been in Moscow first appeared in the Daily Mail in September under the headline "An intelligence expert's devastating verdict: Leaks by Edward Snowden and the Guardian have put British hostages in even greater peril". It was written by Professor Anthony Glees, the director of the centre for security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, and has never been corrected. Maybe the Sunday Times can do better.

    [Jun 14, 2015] UK Said To Withdraw Spies After Russia, China Hack Snowden Encryption, Sunday Times Reports

    Jun 14, 2015 | Zero Hedge

    Following what are now daily reports of evil Russian hackers penetrating AES-encrypted firewalls at the IRS, and just as evil Chinese hackers penetrating "Einstein 3" in the biggest US hack in history which has allegedly exposed every single federal worker's social security number to shadowy forces in Beijing, the message to Americans is clear: be very afraid, because the "evil hackers" are coming, and your friendly, gargantuan, neighborhood US government (which is clearly here to help you) will get even bigger to respond appropriately.

    But don't let any (cyber) crisis go to waste: the porous US security firewall is so bad, Goldman is now pitching cybersecurity stocks in the latest weekly David Kostin sermon. To wit:

    The meteoric rise in cybersecurity incidents involving hacking and data breaches has shined a spotlight on this rapidly growing industry within the Tech sector. Cyberwar and cybercrime are two of the defining geopolitical and business challenges of our time. New revelations occur daily about compromised financial, personal, and national security records. Perpetrators range from global superpowers to rogue nation-states, from foreign crime syndicates to petty local criminals, and from social disrupters to teenage hackers. No government, firm, or person is immune from the risk.

    Because if you can't profit from conventional war, cyberwar will do just as nicely, and as a result Goldman says "investors seeking to benefit from increased security spending should focus on the ISE Cyber Security Index (HXR)."

    The HXR index has outperformed S&P 500 by 19pp YTD (22% vs. 3%). Since 2011, the total return of the index is 123pp higher than the S&P 500 (207% vs. 84%). The relative outperformance of cybersecurity stocks versus S&P 500 matches the surge in the number of exposed records (see Exhibit 2).

    Goldman further notes that "the frequency and seriousness of cyberattacks skyrocketed during 2014. Last year 3,014 data breach incidents occurred worldwide exposing 1.1 billion records, with 97% related to either hacking (83%) or fraud (14%). Both incidents and exposed records jumped by 25% during the last year. The US accounted for 50% of total global incidents and exposed records. Businesses accounted for 53% of all reported incidents followed by government entities at 16%. Exhibit 1 contains a list of selected recent high-profile cyberattacks."

    It is almost as if the US is doing everything in its power to make life for hackers that much easier, or alternatively to make Goldman's long HXR hit its target in the shortest possible time.

    Or perhaps the US is merely giving the impression of a massive onslaught of cyberattacks, one which may well be staged by the biggest cybersecurity infringer, and false flag organizer of them all, the National Security Administration in conjunction with the CIA.

    We won't know, however just to make sure that the fear level spread by the Department of "Developed Market" Fear hits panic level promptly, overnight the UK's Sunday Times reported via Reuters, "citing unnamed officials at the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Office (interior ministry) and security services" that Britain has pulled out agents from live operations in "hostile countries" after Russia and China cracked top-secret information contained in files leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

    MI6 building in London.

    It is unclear how the unknown source at MI6 learned that Russia has hacked the Snowden files, but what is clear is that after the US admitted Snowden's whistleblowing in fact was warranted and even led to the halt of NSA spying on US citizens (replaced since with spying by private telecom corporations not subject to FOIA requests courtesy of the US Freedom Act), it was long overdue to turn up the PR heat on Snowden, who is seen increasingly as a hero on both sides of the Atlantic.

    British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Snowden had done a huge amount of damage to the West's ability to protect its citizens. "As to the specific allegations this morning, we never comment on operational intelligence matters so I'm not going to talk about what we have or haven't done in order to mitigate the effect of the Snowden revelations, but nobody should be in any doubt that Edward Snowden has caused immense damage," he told Sky News.

    Reading a little further reveals that in the modern world having your spies exposed merely lead to invitations for coffee and chocolates.

    An official at Cameron's office was quoted, however, as saying that there was "no evidence of anyone being harmed." A spokeswoman at Cameron's office declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

    So Russia and China knew the identities and locations of UK spies but they neither arrested them, nor harmed them in any way. How cultured.

    Meanwhile, the soundbite propganda keeps building:

    A British intelligence source said Snowden had done "incalculable damage". "In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to stop them being identified and killed," the source was quoted as saying.

    Needless to say, the timing of this latest "report" is no coincidence. Just like in the US where the NSA seemingly just lost a big battle to the Fourth Amendment, so the UK is poised for a big debate on the manufactured "liberty vs security" debate.

    The revelations about the impact of Snowden on intelligence operations comes days after Britain's terrorism law watchdog said the rules governing the security services' abilities to spy on the public needed to be overhauled. Conservative lawmaker and former minister Andrew Mitchell said the timing of the report was "no accident".

    "There is a big debate going on," he told BBC radio. "We are going to have legislation bought back to parliament (...) about the way in which individual liberty and privacy is invaded in the interest of collective national security.

    "That's a debate we certainly need to have."

    Cameron has promised a swathe of new security measures, including more powers to monitor Briton's communications and online activity in what critics have dubbed a "snoopers' charter".

    And because Britain's terrorism laws reviewer David Anderson said on Thursday the current system was "undemocratic, unnecessary and - in the long run - intolerable" and called for new safeguards, including judges not ministers approving warrants for intrusive surveillance, saying there needed to be a compelling case for any extensions of powers, this is precisely why now was the right time for some more "anonymously-sourced" anti-liberty propaganda.

    So between the IRS and the OPM hacks, not to mention the countless other US hacks and data breaches shown on the top chart, allegedly almost exclusively by Russia and China, which have revealed not only how much US citizens make, spend and save, but the SSN, work and mental history of every Federal worker, the two "isolated" nations now know as much if not more about the US than the US itself.

    If this was even remotely true, then the US would long ago have been in a state of war with both nations.

    casey13

    http://notes.rjgallagher.co.uk/2015/06/sunday-times-snowden-china-russia...

    All in all, for me the Sunday Times story raises more questions than it answers, and more importantly it contains some pretty dubious claims, contradictions, and inaccuracies. The most astonishing thing about it is the total lack of scepticism it shows for these grand government assertions, made behind a veil of anonymity. This sort of credulous regurgitation of government statements is antithetical to good journalism.

    James_Cole

    The sunday times has already deleted one of the claims in the article (without an editors note) because it was so easily proved wrong. Whenever governments are dropping anonymous rumours without any evidence into the media you know they're up to some serious bullshit elsewhere as well, good coverage by zh.

    MonetaryApostate

    Fact A: The government robbed Social Security... (There's nothing left!)

    Supposed Fact B: Hackers compromised Social Security Numbers of Officials...

    suteibu

    Just to be clear, Snowden is not a traitor to the people of the US (or EU).

    However, it is perfectly appropriate for the governments and shadow governments of those nations to consider him a traitor to their interests.

    One man's traitor is another man's freedom fighter.

    Renfield

    <<The New Axis of Evul.>>

    Which is drastically stepping up its propaganda effort to justify aggressively attacking the rest of the world, in an effort to start WW3 and see who makes it out of the bunkers.

    Fuck this evil New World Order.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNHOUrYFj70

    It took a long time to build and set in place, and it sure as hell isn't going to be easy taking it down. They couldn't be any clearer that they have their hand poised over the nuke button, just looking for any excuse to use it. I think they know they've lost, so they've resorted to intimidate the rest of the world into supporting the status quo, by showing just how desperate they are and how far they are willing to go. The USUK government, and its puppet governments in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan -- are completely insane. Ukraine is acting out just who these people are. They would rather destroy the whole world than not dominate everyone else. The 'West' is run by sociopaths.

    <<It is unclear how the unknown source at MI6 learned that Russia has hacked the Snowden files, but what is clear is that after the US admitted Snowden's whistleblowing in fact was warranted and even led to the halt of NSA spying on US citizens (replaced since with spying by private telecom corporations not subject to FOIA requests courtesy of the US Freedom Act), it was long overdue to turn up the PR heat on Snowden, who is seen increasingly as a hero on both sides of the Atlantic... So Russia and China knew the identities and locations of UK spies but they neither arrested them, nor harmed them in any way. How cultured. Meanwhile, the soundbite propganda keeps building... Needless to say, the timing of this latest "report" is no coincidence. Just like in the US where the NSA seemingly just lost a big battle to the Fourth Amendment, so the UK is poised for a big debate on the manufactured "liberty vs security" debate... So between the IRS and the OPM hacks, not to mention the countless other US hacks and data breaches shown on the top chart, allegedly almost exclusively by Russia and China, which have revealed not only how much US citizens make, spend and save, but the SSN, work and mental history of every Federal worker, the two "isolated" nations now know as much if not more about the US than the US itself. If this was even remotely true, then the US would long ago have been in a state of war with both nations.>

    Bighorn_100b

    USA always looks for a patsy.

    Bravo, Tyler. This is truth very clearly written. It is incredible how the onslaught of propaganda is turning into deluge. I'm glad you have the integrity to call it what it is. Propaganda is also an assault on journalism.

    chunga

    That's true but gov lies so much moar and moar people don't believe any of it.
    The Sunday Times' Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods
    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/14/sunday-times-report-snowde...


    This is the very opposite of journalism. Ponder how dumb someone has to be at this point to read an anonymous government accusation, made with zero evidence, and accept it as true.

    (greenwald rants mostly about media sock puppets with this)

    HowdyDoody
    And the US SFM86 files contained details of British spies? Consider this bullshitish.

    foghorn leghorn

    Goldman is looking to make a fast buck off the stupid uninformed public trying to cash in on totalitarianism. If Goldman is running this pump and dump I suggest waiting till the price looks like a hockey stick. As soon as it starts to cave in short the hell out of it but only for one day. Government Sacks is the most crooked bank in the history of the whole entire world from the past up till now. In case you are wondering about the Fed well Gioldman Sachs runs the joint.

    talisman

    "Snowden encryption"???
    Just more US Snowden-bashing propaganda.

    You mean US has not tightened up its encryption since Snowden's whistleblowing two years ago??
    Shame ! ! !....
    Snowden information likely had nothing to do with the latest hacks, but the blame goes on--
    Blaming Snowden a lot simpler than figuring out how to solve the basic problem
    of overwhelming US Homeland Security incompetence

    The other day, Eugene Kaspersky noted:

    "We discovered an advanced attack on our own internal networks. It was complex, stealthy, it exploded several zero-day vulnerabilities, and we're quite confident that there's a nation state behind it."

    The firm dubbed this attack Duqu 2.0, named after a specific series of malware called Duqu, considered to be related to the Stuxnet attack that targeted Iran in 2011.

    It is, of course, now well-known that Stuxnet originated as a Israel/US venture; however this time it would appear that CIA/Mossad may have got a bit overconfident and shot themselves in the foot when they inserted very advanced spyware into Kaspersky's system…

    Kaspersky is not just some simple-minded backward nation state; rather they are the unquestioned world leader in advanced cybersecurity systems, so when they found this malware in their own system, of course they figured it out, and of course got a bit pissed—so, since they are in the business of providing advanced cybersecurity to various nations---they very legitimately passed on the critical encryption information to their clients, and it is not at all inconceivable that some of the clients decided to take the system for a spin and see what it could do….

    And, of course, a bit later at the opportune moment after they let the cat out of the bag, to rub a bit of salt in the wound Kaspersky mentioned: "And the attackers are now back to the drawing board since we exposed their platform to the whole IT security industry. "They've now lost a very expensive technologically-advanced framework they'd been developing for years,"

    an interesting background article:

    https://eugene.kaspersky.com/2011/11/02/the-man-who-found-stuxnet-sergey-ulasen-in-the-spotlight/

    kchrisc

    Am I still the only one that sees this whole Snowden thing as a CIA ruse?

    My favorite is the strategic "leaking" out of information as needed by a Jewish reporter working for a noiZ-media outlet. I have even read Greenwald's book, No Place to Hide, and I'm still not buying it.

    I'm not buying any of it, but then I'd prefer to not ask for a "refund."

    My personal opinion is that the CIA, in their ongoing battle with the Pentagon, penetrated the NSA, then tapped a photogenic young man in their mitts to serve as the "poster boy" for the ensuing "leaks." Once they have the attention of the sheeple, they can then claim anything, as any NSA defense will not be believed.

    Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission..

    "They lie about everything. Why would they lie about this?"

    Christ Lucifer

    Either Snowden read the play for some decade to come and took the key pieces of info with him that he keeps secret but those pieces of intel currently allow him to access and control all covert govt surveillance including that adapted due to being compromised, there maybe some grains of truth in this in a cyber dependant organization created in an incorrectly perceived superiority complex. Or maybe his name is synonymous with modern spying, the geek who made good for the people, and his credibility is used to market a large amount of information releases for public digestion. A figurehead if you will. Not to say that some years on, the shockwaves from his actions reverberating around the planet coincide in specific places as various imperatives are displaced by the dissolution of the foundation he cracked, while the public are still only really concerned about their dick pics, which apparently women do not enjoy so much anyway.

    Promoted as a storm in a teacup by those who suffer to the transparency he gave, but it is the woodchips the show the direction of the wind, not the great lumps of timber, and when the standing trees fall it is the woodchips that have shown the truth, such is the way that key figures move the static behemoths of overstated self importance ignorant to the world they create. The hemorrhage has been contained but for some reason it continues to bleed out at a steady rate, slowly washing the veil from the eyes who suffer the belief of attaining prosperity or power through subjecting themselves to the will of others.

    He's good, but was he that good? What else is playing in his favour, or the favour of his identity?

    [Jun 03, 2015] US Congress passes surveillance reform in vindication for Edward Snowden

    Jun 02, 2015 | The Guardian

    Joe Stanil -> awoolf14 2 Jun 2015 21:27

    Poor deluded child. You still believe that the POTUS runs the show? He's merely the MC of a long running cabaret act called "US Politics". He reads the script, you applaud - or else!

    SamIamgreeneggsanham 2 Jun 2015 21:27

    So this is great, but what about the man who sacrificed his life so that we could have this information? Surely if this passage is a vindication of his actions, then the conversation needs to move towards allowing him to return to the US (if he wishes to) or at least not make him a wanted criminal...?


    EdChamp -> russmi 2 Jun 2015 21:22

    I guess to most of his supporters this is one instance where "the results justify the means."

    Actually, we don't have to argue that the end justify the means. The end was that we were all aware of what had been kept secret from us, culminating in the failure to renew metadata collection. The means to that was the illegal distribution of classified information. I applaud both the ends and the means, it might have been better if he had not been required to break the law, but in this case, I applaud his doing so.

    He should return home and accept the legal consequences of his actions. Someone who truly felt he or she was in the right would do so.

    Nonsense, but how nice of you to easily volunteer that he give up his freedom. Where is it written that we must be prepared to spend the rest of our lives in prison to make known a secret program, effecting every American, violating the constitution, and subsequently ruled illegal by the courts?


    Joe Stanil -> osprey1957 2 Jun 2015 21:21

    Remind me. Who said "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"? Ah, yes, Dr Johnson.


    Joe Stanil 2 Jun 2015 21:17

    Does anyone honestly believe that passing a little law will stop the NSA from continuing its collection of data? Like, it's against the law to steal, that's why there aren't any thieves. Wake up children. This whole game, starting with Snowden, was a calculated "limited hangout" operation, ie show a bit of naughtiness, get the public used to it, then go back under cover. Now the real spying begins.

    James Saint-Amour 2 Jun 2015 21:06

    Pardon Edward Snowden! He's a patriot just like the Founding Fathers, who were also considered criminals when they stood up for freedom. It's interesting that our government doesn't see that side of the story (but then again, who am I kidding to think they would?)

    Nyarlat -> russmi 2 Jun 2015 21:04

    Snowden is so baaaad!
    The CIA and NSA is soooo trustworthy!
    (Of course they helped Pinochet dispose of Allende and also killed thousands of Vietcong with black ops death squads etc.)

    osprey1957 2 Jun 2015 21:04

    Whatever happens, know that Snowden is, was, and always will be a great patriot. he may be a deluded libertarian...but his patriotism can never be questioned.


    shininhstars122 2 Jun 2015 21:01

    >>>>New Mexico senator Martin Heinrich, another Democrat on the intelligence committee, praised the bill's passage on Tuesday, saying: "Ben Franklin would have been proud of this outcome."

    HAH! What altered universe is the Ben Franklin from that the Senator from the Land of Enchantment is referring to?

    Ben Franklin would have said this sir.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    Waterdown liberty is what the USA Freedom Act is plain and simple.

    awoolf14 -> TeamAmerica2015 2 Jun 2015 20:58

    Come out of the 1950's for 10 seconds and you might notice that there is no longer any difference whatsoever between the vested interests of either Party other than the window dressing... Wake up.

    russmi 2 Jun 2015 20:54

    Personally I'm tired of Snowdon. He still stole and illegally distributed classified info. I guess to most of his supporters this is one instance where "the results justify the means." But how often do they let others get away with that excuse? He should return home and accept the legal consequences of his actions. Someone who truly felt he or she was in the right would do so.


    awoolf14 2 Jun 2015 20:53

    Its great to know that we're all being 'protected' and are 'safe' in the hands of Obamas exorbitantly expensive "national security professionals."
    .
    ...Professionals like The TSA, who recently failed 95% of a 'Red Team' national airport security infiltration test, including but not limited to failing to notice a team member walking by them, with a fake bomb taped to his back (face-palms).

    Or The NSA, who have just been forced by their own Govornment to shut down a 4 year multi million dollar bulk surveillance program that- er- didn't actually catch any 'terrorists,' because they don't make a point of sending open emails or telephone calls to each other to discuss their evil plans (something an 8 year old could figure out).

    Please, please lets get somebody sane into the White House this time- because the only job these people are doing, is making all of us look like complete fools.

    et_tu_brute -> Oneiricist 2 Jun 2015 20:44

    Yeh... the surveilance worked so well, that they didn't see the 'Boston Bombers' coming. People have every right to question the NSA's self-given right to delve into peoples lives, all without any independent oversight, no checks and balances, no transparency. No wonder people don't trust them.

    et_tu_brute -> BradBenson 2 Jun 2015 20:38

    You are absolutely correct, however the o/p is a member of a tribe that choses to believe Snowden was a traitor, no matter what facts were presented or are revealed by his actions.

    et_tu_brute -> delphinia 2 Jun 2015 20:35

    Yeh, I remember that. Bush & Cheney promoting the looney neo-con cause by creating the fiction of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Now look at the mess left behind by these stupid idiots who were intent on creating a new mess by trading up on the goodwill they received internationally that backed the US in their quest to go into Afghanstan after 9/11.


    et_tu_brute -> MtnClimber 2 Jun 2015 20:29

    There has been no evidence that that ever happened. What did happen though was Snowden leaking embarrassing information which gave cause to his fellow citizens to wake up and smell the flowers, that they were being illegally 'spied upon', collectively, through the bulk collection of telecommunications data, without legal authority to do so.

    Now go back to looking for commies or jihardists lurking around the corner. I guess you are just a simple victim of politicians' rhetoric that promotes 'fear, uncertainty & doubt' within the community, a.k.a. 'The F.U.D. principle'.

    Gary M. Wilson -> Nicholas_Stone 2 Jun 2015 20:28

    THE MAN IN THE ARENA:

    "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
    Theodore Roosevelt

    Posh_Guardianista -> JohnDavidFletcher 2 Jun 2015 20:28

    Do you know who controls them, who governs the use of the data, what happens to it? That's a bigger danger to your freedom than the NSA.

    Key difference being that you can block them. You can't block the NSA surveillance.

    et_tu_brute -> shortcircuit299 2 Jun 2015 20:19

    Unfortunately, I suspect this won't curtail the NSA's nefarious activities, just change the goal posts. No doubt 'Plan B' had already been devised a long while ago and would come into play in such a contingency. The lack of independent oversight and transparency of the activities of the NSA will mean that another 'whistle-blower', if they are game enough, would be needed to come forward to further expose wrong-doing. Most, if not all members of Congress and the Senate still haven't got a clue about any of this, and most never will.

    Leondeinos 2 Jun 2015 20:18

    This so-called reform is very limited: as he "praised" the passage of this bill, Obama said he will "work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country." You bet! That means he'll set the NSA and the other "competent organs" to work on new ways to gobble up even more useless data. He will also continue telling lies, repressing revelation of truth throughout the government, and driving war all over the planet.

    Senators Sanders and Paul are right about the USA Freedumb Act.


    TiredOfTheLies 2 Jun 2015 20:11

    McConnell should be ashamed of himself. The bulk collection of cell phone data was a stalker's candy store, and there are just as many predators on the inside of government as on the outside. The Republicans were well aware of problem agents, some even suspected of abduction, rape, and murder. As if the founding fathers didn't know about rape, and the problem with abusers of all kind having too much information on innocent peoples' lives.

    Search warrants are there for a reason. They leave a paper trail. If the only thing that missing women have in common are search warrants by the same agent or group of agents, then police have the suspect list that they need. When they don't have search warrants, you're likely to find bodies all over the country with no idea of how they got there, which is what the US has now.

    And by the way, that beloved program of theirs was of no use for solving those crimes because criminals are smart enough not to leave phone record evidence. The only people who leave a trail that can be found this way are the innocent (read: victims), and the stupidest criminals on earth.


    redbanana33 2 Jun 2015 20:05

    "US Congress passes surveillance reform in vindication for Edward Snowden"

    Those are the headlines on this Guardian story.

    To vindicate, my dictionary says, means to clear of blame or suspicion.

    Well, then, COME ON HOME, ED!!

    No? You won't? Well,..... why? Then why would the Guardian say you are vindicated by the passage of this stupid half-bill in the U.S. Congress?

    Someday soon, though.

    Sydneyfl -> Nicholas_Stone 2 Jun 2015 19:57

    Traitor to WHAT? Oppression? Spying? Conjured up enemies? The military industrial complex, financed by the bankers, cabal? Hooray for Snowdon!

    MKB1234 2 Jun 2015 19:54

    Mitch "The Party of Smaller Government" McConnell destroying America from the inside.

    Lesm -> Happy Fella 2 Jun 2015 19:51

    No his refusal to do so shows he recognises the complete and utter failure of the US legal system, as is evidenced almost daily by the revelations emerging about the mass torture, incarceration without trial and sometimes death of innocent people whose only sin was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Lesm -> Happy Fella 2 Jun 2015 19:51

    No his refusal to do so shows he recognises the complete and utter failure of the US legal system, as is evidenced almost daily by the revelations emerging about the mass torture, incarceration without trial and sometimes death of innocent people whose only sin was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Posh_Guardianista -> FoolsDream 2 Jun 2015 19:51

    You should read the entire article.

    NSA "reform" is essentially a reset - existing legislation has passed, reorganisation will now take place and the mass surveillance will still continue as before.

    Make no mistake, PRISM, mass surveillance of the world, XKEYSCORE, widespread backdoors in routers and computer equipment; compulsory sharing of data (whether for security or corporate gain, as with Petronas) with the US Government - will still continue. If you think otherwise, then it is you who is deluded.

    FoolsDream -> JohnDavidFletcher 2 Jun 2015 19:49

    Only if you assume we visit this page unprotected my friend. Besides, the argument of they do it so it's not a problem if the others do it, is a poor argument.

    Lesm 2 Jun 2015 19:48

    It would be nice if all the troglodytes who bagged Snowden for his act of conscience would recognise the courage that he showed in doing so, but that is about as likely to happen as Hell freezing over. These loons, who spend hours every day blogging about the State trying to take away their freedoms have the capacity that Orwell talked about as "doublespeak" and doublethink" where you can hold two completely conflicting ideas in your head at the same time and believe both, as they see Snowden as a traitor for revealing the traducing of the American people by their own government.


    Washington_Irving SteB1 2 Jun 2015 19:44

    Unfortunately, the NPP committee consists of discarded politicians. And when it comes to standing up to Uncle Sam, Norwegian politicians are – as a general rule – a bunch of despicable cowards.

    Snowden was awarded a £12500 freedom of expression prize earlier today (well, yesterday), and the chances of him being allowed to accept it in person in September are virtually non-existent.


    FoolsDream Happy Fella 2 Jun 2015 19:44

    You'd have been great back in the witch-hunting days. "If you drown, you're a witch and we'll burn you. If you live, you're a witch.. and guess what?.. yep, burned."


    kowalli 2 Jun 2015 19:41

    future
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy7FVXERKFE&feature=youtu.be


    JohnDavidFletcher SpeakFreely 2 Jun 2015 19:39

    Know these chaps?

    Audience Science
    Facebook Social Graph
    Google Dynamic Remarketing
    Krux Digital
    NetRatings SiteCensus
    Outbrain
    PointRoll
    ScoreCard Research Beacon
    Twitter Badge

    That's the 9 companies/organisations tracking you on this very page. They will then record where you go next, what you do on this page, the frequency of these visits, what links you click on your emails etc.

    Do you know who controls them, who governs the use of the data, what happens to it? That's a bigger danger to your freedom than the NSA.


    Happy Fella 2 Jun 2015 19:38

    If Mr. Snowden has been, as The Guardian says, "vindicated", will he now be returning to the U.S. to receive whatever apologies, honors and rewards are bestowed on those who have been "vindicated"? Or, alternatively, will he continue to reside in Russia, remaining a fugitive from justice in the U.S.? And, if he chooses to do the latter (which I predict he will do--anybody want to make a bet?), in what sense has he been "vindicated".

    The passage of this legislation doesn't change the fact that Snowden has been charged with multiple violations of U.S. law regarding confidential, secret information, and his refusal to stand trial is powerful evidence that those charges are well-founded.

    awoolf14 2 Jun 2015 19:36

    Re Obama: "work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country".

    - Ah yes, the famous 'National Security Professionals." That would be Star Trek fan Kieth Alexander, who had the command center of the NSA converted into a full scale replica of the bridge of the 'USS Enterprise,' complete with whooshing doors and a Captain Kirk chair for him to sit in, and his 'Mr Spock' James Clapper (oddly unretired) who lied to Congress during the NSA hearings, then absolved himself by saying he'd given the "least untruthful answer."

    - "Professional?' What on earth is Obsms talking about, these people are obviously stark raving bonkers!


    bodicca 2 Jun 2015 19:23

    Orwell lives on! What is this "Freedom" that government intrusion into our lives and activities is protecting? Is it the freedom to work harder and longer than people in other developed countries for less access to advanced education, healthcare and free time than those people?

    Or is it the freedom to pay excessive salaries and benefits beyond our imagination to CEOs of corporations? Or the freedom to exist with a crumbling infrastructure while funds for repairs are diverted? Or the freedom to pay for bribes (er lobbying) for legislators elected by us, so that they will pass laws that oppose the wishes of the people. How long will we tolerate being lied to? Freedom, indeed!

    Jim Mansberger 2 Jun 2015 19:20

    It is the military and intelligence agencies that do not want to drop all criminal charges against Snowden, and rather do the right and just thing, which is to recognize him as a US Government whistleblower and protect him.

    Wharfat9 2 Jun 2015 19:12

    On cutting out the bulk surveillance ...

    This makes one a little uneasy - this, so they say - stopping of bulk data collection. Look here: you got that big ´ol facility out at Bluffdale, Utah. A huge mongramamous caw that can take in all the e-mails, phone this and that and every other thing - including, probably, the kitchen sink - and don´t tell me that they gonna just put all those huge gears and terabytes and fans and flywheels and nobs and buttons and doodlygooks on idle?

    Idle? A ´sweet machine´ like that?

    No way, José.


    Sydneyfl 2 Jun 2015 19:10

    America no longer has a press. Foreigners and Neocons have used the international banksters to finance their buying up of 99% of our newspapers, book publishers, TV content, magazines, radio, etc.,.. and who they didn't buy out ...they try to bribe or muzzle with the threat of job loss. Snowdon had no choice. Remember we are the "huddled masses yearning to BREATHE FREE". We will keep chipping away until we get our God Given country back. Snowdon risked himself to help us do just that. He had no choice!! Some people can't be bought!!


    Dugan222 Edward Frederick Ezell 2 Jun 2015 19:08

    The advantage is that this third party is a NSA front operation. :) Do you know what it means??? Every night, all the data being stored by this company are being transferred and backed up by the NSA. Hehehehehhee......

    The NSA still keeps all the data but the public won't assume the NSA has the data since we are supposed to think that the NSA is no longer storing out phone data..... No one talks about who is running this third party company...


    Edward Frederick Ezell 2 Jun 2015 19:07

    Since users of communications services will be required by the private providers to agree to the recording of their communications, this procedure nicely sidesteps the limitations placed on the government by the Constitution.

    Although it seems quite clever it is in effect a conspiracy between the government and providers to facilitate government violation of the constitution.


    WadeLovell 2 Jun 2015 18:49

    ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer says, "This is the most important surveillance reform bill since 1978, and its passage is an indication that Americans are no longer willing to give the intelligence agencies a blank check." I don't see this as vindication. OTOH, I don't believe it would have passed without the lingering bitter taste of overzealous government and the people like Snowden who helped expose it.


    Dugan222 2 Jun 2015 18:41

    Sigh...I am not convinced. The NSA would go after where the data is. If they are in the hands of the phone company, they would have operatives working there. Worst, the phone company would outsource the data management retention to a third party, NSA front company. Here, on the surface, the NSA may appear to have no connections and responsibilities for storing the phone data. Again, who is policing the phone company. And who is policing this "third party."

    vr13vr 2 Jun 2015 18:08

    Why does the Congress have to name laws with such fanfare? Freedom Act, Patriot Act, and so on? Just to sound self righteous? Or to make sure that whoever does not agree with it could be viewed as a unpatriotic and against freedom?

    Would that be much better, and practical as well, not to over-hype laws but give them reasonable and descriptive names?


    sbabcock 2 Jun 2015 18:07

    Seems to me the difference is the NSA has to actually go to the phone companies and plug in to their server to vacuum up the data instead of having it delivered on a silver platter. Let's face it, there are loop-holes galore in the "Freedom" Act. This is the Senate pretending to do their jobs. "Hey, you pretend to be against this to save face. We'll pretend to pass something that is 'different' and then we'll go on vacation again. People will think we 'do' stuff. Problems solved." But it's simply re-shuffling the paperwork, something the House, headed by the Orange Man, are experts at.

    There's another story here today about FBI planes, registered under fake business identities, using Sting-Ray to scoop up all kinds of phone data from above... so... look over here! so you don't see what's going on over there! smfh

    mcstowy DerekHaines 2 Jun 2015 18:07

    During the McCarthy hearings, the easiest way to come under suspicion was to be "prematurely anti-fascist." You see "good Americans" (meaning the right-wing corporate elite) supported Hitler and Mussolini.

    ID9492736 2 Jun 2015 17:50

    The Most Transparent Administration In American History.

    Even the sponges and mollusks are fainting from too much laughter.

    Barry D. Lauterwasser wardropper 2 Jun 2015 17:29

    It's amazing how a few people, and the internet can make such a difference. Throughout the annals of history, many have sacrificed much, even their lives, for the good of the nation. Like you, I'd like to see him come home and pardoned, but I'm sure his safety would be in jeopardy due to the fanaticals here. Someday, history will hopefully judge these brave souls that came forward to shed light on the things government does under the guise of "security." Time will tell...

    madamefifi 2 Jun 2015 17:11

    Not a week goes by without my thoughts (and I am just an ordinary joe with no political connections whatsoever) turning to Edward Snowden and the gross injustice he has and still is suffering. Please watch Citizenfour if you have not already done so, to understand the full magnitude of this injustice. I hope I will live to see this injustice corrected and hope this is a step forward in an inhumanely long process. Edward Snowden is one of the world's true heroes. I believe he deserves the Nobel peace prize or some other worldwide recognition for his sacrifice but sadly no prizes or freedoms are within my remit and never will be. Mr Snowden, this is all I can do and it might not count for much, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    TrueCopy 2 Jun 2015 16:59

    USA Freedom act is not what it is made to be. It has so many loopholes that makes it essentially irrelevant. For example to get records a subpoena need to be issued, but the subpoena doesn't need to be for one number or one individual, or even a roaming individual, they can issue a subpoena for Verizon and another for AT&T and another for Sprint and T-mobile, and pretty cover everyone. This is pretty much the same as what they were doing, but a little more cumbersome, which can be overcome by a few software applications. Rand Paul wanted to limit the subpoena to an individual living and breathing person or persons, rather than a telecom company which failed. So you know where this is going, the lawyers at NSA can argue because that amendment failed, the intent of congress was to allow them to subpoena phone company records.


    Jbons990 2 Jun 2015 16:36

    Fantastic. The fact that the mass collection of telecommunication data was hidden from the public (and would have remained hidden were it not for a certain whistle blower) just demonstrates that the NSA and GCHQ will never tell us the truth. This shiny new surveillance reform is one giant metaphorical rug, for the NSA to sweep all attention underneath, before proceeding to collect everybody information again. Because that's America. And that's democracy. *cough* Bureaucracy.


    freeandfair tbv954 2 Jun 2015 16:34

    Yep, the CIA were caught hacking into White House computers (about 6 months ago ? ) in order to see the information on torture. Anything happened after they were caught red-handed and lies about being caught under oath?

    Nope. Just business as usual in the self-proclaimed shining city on the hill, the most democratic country on Earth.

    [Jun 02, 2015]The Current Overproduction Crisis And War

    Ian Welsh makes Fourteen Points on the World Economy as the US GDP Drops .7 Percent. He believes that the economy is again turning towards a global recession. This recession comes even as there has not been a real recovery from the last global economic crisis:

    Let me put this another way: The developed world is in depression. It has been in depression since 2007. It never left depression. Within that depression, there is still a business cycle: There are expansions, and recessions, and so on. Better times and worse times.

    The business cycle is again turning down and is doing so sharply. Not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and Asia.

    Every central bank has been throwing money at the local economies but that money finds no productive use. Why would a company invest even at 0% interests when nobody will buy the additional products for a profitable price? How could consumers buy more when wages are stagnant and they are already overburdened with debt taken up in the last expansion cycle? The central banks are pushing on a string while distorting normal market relations. This intensifies the original crisis.

    My believe is that the global crisis we see is one of overproduction, an excess or glut of supplies and on the other side a lack of consumption. The exceptional cheap money created by the central banks makes investment in machines preferable over employment of a human workforce. The result: Manufacturing hub starts work on first zero-labor factory

    Chen predicted that instead of 2,000 workers, the current strength of the workforce, the company will require only 200 to operate software system and backstage management.

    The (Central) bank gave Mr. Chen cheap money and at an interest rate of 0% a complete automation of his company may indeed be profitable. It is unlikely though that he would make the same move at an interest rate of 10%. But on the larger macro economic scale Mr Chen needs to ask this question: "How will the 1,800 laid off workers be able to buy the products my company makes?" Some of the laid off people may find marginal "service" job but the money they will make from those will likely be just enough to keep them alive. And over time flipping burgers will also be automated. And then?

    Karl Marx described such overproduction crises. Their cause is a rising share of an economy's profits going to an ever smaller class of "owners" while the growing class of marginal "workers" gets less and less of the total pie. In the last decades this phenomenon can be observed all over the developed world. The other side of the overproduction crisis is an underconsumption crisis. People can no longer buy for lack of income.

    While a realignment of central bank interest rates to historical averages, say some 6%, would help to slow the negative process it would not solve the current problem. Income inequality and overproduction would still increase though at a lesser pace. The historic imperialist remedy for local overproduction, capturing new markets, is no longer available. Global trade is already high. There is little land left to colonize and to widen the markets for ones products.

    There are then two solutions to such an crisis.

    One is to tackle the underconsumption side and to change the distribution of an economy's profits with a much larger share going to "workers" and a smaller share going to "owners". This could be achieved through higher taxes on "owners" and redistribution by the state but also through empowerment of labor unions and like means. But with governments all over the world more and more captured by the "owners" the chance that this solution will be chosen seem low.

    The other solution for a capitalist society to a crisis of overproduction is the forced destruction of (global) production capabilities through a big war. War also helps to increase control over the people and to get rid of "surplus workers".

    The U.S. was the big economic winner of World War I and II. Production capacities elsewhere got destroyed through the wars and a huge number of global "surplus workers" were killed. For the U.S. the wars were, overall, very profitable. Other countries have distinct different experiences with wars. In likely no other country than the U.S. would one find a major newspaper that arguing that wars make us safer and richer.

    I am therefore concerned that the intensifying crisis of overproduction and its seemingly casual preference for war will, in years to come, push the U.S. into starting a new global cataclysmic conflict.

    Neoconservatives like Victoria Nuland tried to goad Russia and the EU into a big war over Ukraine. The top lobbyist of the military industrial complex, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is trying to instigate a war between China and its neighbors over some atolls in the South China Sea. The U.S. is at least complicit in the rise of the Islamic State which will leave the Middle East at war for the foreseeable future.

    Are these already, conscious or by chance, attempts by the U.S. to solve the problem of global overproduction in its favor?

    Posted by: r@rtalk.com | Jun 1, 2015 2:05:50 PM | 2

    Marx's early writings, including the Communist Manifesto, did indeed focus on crises of overproduction. But, in Capital, he explained that falling rates of profit are the key dynamic. For a popular blog on these issues, see Michael Roberts:

    https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/

    Of course, there is plenty of debate on these matters within Marxian political economy. The best academic source is the journal, Historical Materialism:

    http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1569206x

    Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jun 1, 2015 2:38:15 PM | 5

    I think you're right, b. The U.S. will not allow regional hegemons who are not clients let alone a global one to challenge its unipolar world. That's why we're seeing all these wars in various stages -- hot in the Middle East; hot and cold in Ukraine; cold in Southeast Asia. The U.S. prefers smashed failed states to anything remotely challenging its full-spectrum dominance.

    The neoliberal prescription for low growth/no growth is the complete cannibalization of the state. Privatized health care is being exported to Europe, while in the U.S. public education is being devoured by corporations.

    Posted by: VietnamVet | Jun 1, 2015 3:01:36 PM | 7

    Since the subject is blacked out by corporate media, we have to decipher the news to try to figure what is actually happening. The only stimulus acceptable to the elite and their politicians is war. 2,300 Humvees seized by Islamic State. Instead of containment, ship thousands of anti-tank missiles to Baghdad; more money in the pocket of the Military Complex.

    The problem is that it is psychotic. The Islamic State's end game is Mecca. The shutoff of 11% of the world's oil supply will collapse the world economy. Yet, this is not an aberration.

    A civil war was started in Ukraine right on Russia's border; a nuclear power who has said they will use them if there is a shooting war with NATO.

    The Greeks are being pillaged to pay debts that cannot ever be paid back. Unless the debt is written off, the Eurozone will splinter asunder.

    The only description for this is greed. Get rich today; the hell with tomorrow and the rest of mankind.

    Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jun 1, 2015 3:57:03 PM | 9

    The good news is that this U.S.-led neoliberal hegemony (what Tariq Ali calls the "Radical Center") is rapidly losing any popular legitimacy. Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, Sinn Fein in Ireland, SNP in the UK, even Bernie Sanders in the U.S. His first day of campaigning last week in Iowa 700 hundred people showed up to hear him speak, compared to 50 for Martin O'Malley, another corporate shill.

    Sanders is no antiwar crusader, but his basic ideas -- cutting military spending, breaking up the big banks, raising marginal tax rates on the wealthy, creating jobs by investing in infrastructure -- have proven the most popular, at least based on turnout, in Iowa of any candidate, Republican or Democrat, so far.

    Posted by: tom | Jun 1, 2015 4:17:23 PM | 10

    We have to look at the perspective of the class war too, where the corporate and elite class have growing contempt for the lower/middle classes more than they already do. So, how can one grow the economy, when the elite and corporate class are exploiting, growing inequality, and hate for us even more ?

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 1, 2015 5:15:09 PM | 12

    The prime vote holder of the IMF himself states the IMF has "served US National and economic interests" since it's inception, across Latin America, Europe and the world, and that "US Leadership" in the IMF is "critical".

    http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sobel_Testimony.pdf

    The ideas behind the institutions that came out of Bretton Woods were already in the mind of FDR and Keynes long before the conference. One of FDR's key advisors was James Warburg whose father had funded Hitler as well as the USSR, and founded the Federal Reserve Bank.

    https://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Sutton_Wall_Street_and_Hitler.pdf
    https://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Sutton_Wall_Street_and_the_bolshevik_revolution-5.pdf

    US financiers funded Russian manufactured trucks which went to the North Vietnamese forces, and today BP hold stakes in Russian energy firms while Hilary Clinton sells Russia the US Uranium supply.

    As Major General Smedley Butler said in 1935 "War is a Racket". All that has changed is the quality of the supporting propaganda.

    Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 1, 2015 5:50:10 PM | 16

    I think that it is not "overproduction", but the result of improved transportation, communication and more free trade. What is the advantage of paying wages in USA or Western Europe if you can put all labor consuming operations in China, where there is good infrastructure, or in countries where infrastructure is not as good but the labor much cheaper, like Bangladesh? The answer is that while some advantages do exists, there are less and less frequent. Even automation can be performed elsewhere.

    Historically, in 16-th century The Netherlands were the chief European center of non-agricultural production, international trade and banking, and afterwards there was less and less production, but the country retained for a while its position in trade and banking. That cycle affected northern Italy earlier, and England, later. I think that one part of the solution would be a moderate, and yet effective, policy supportive of domestic production and domestic employment.

    But there is also a bit of overproduction. Average American could perfectly well live in a smaller home, drive a smaller vehicle, buy fewer gadgets etc. with hardly decreasing the quality of life. Those below the average income can be out of luck, but they do not consume much anyway. Additionally, there is an excessive gap between "micro-economic" and "macro-economic" optimum behavior.

    Most American household has so little savings that the suffer a crisis very easily, so it would be better for them to spend less, e.g. by cooking more and eating out less, cutting down impulse buying etc. However, the cut in demand is recessionary on a macro-scale. It would be sensible to have policies that would concentrate not on "growth" but on satisfaction of needs.

    Posted by: PokeTheTruth | Jun 1, 2015 6:11:12 PM | 18

    America is drowning in the sewer of the national political system. There is no candidate or incumbent in Washington, DC who serves the country. These elitists rape our liberties, steal our wealth, entice our grandchildren into killing people in foreign lands and subject the future of the nation to be slaves to the debt masters.

    The American people must exercise the only peaceful option left to restore the federal republic which is rapidly being transformed into a unitary style government like much of Europe. On November 8, 2016, the nation must stay home and not give its consent to continue being abused by the plutocracy of puppets bribed by the global bankers, multinational corporations and foreign state lobbyists.

    Abstinence is not benign as some would believe, it is a very powerful check on government when it becomes so infested with opportunists who pursue their own self-serving aggrandizement through the passage of law and regulation to benefit themselves and their criminal syndicate. Without a democratic mandate the cabal cannot hold power and therefore the legislative function of law making is extinguished. The bureaucracy remains in place until the fiscal budget ends in October of the following year which means social security payments will still be made, Medicare claims will still be processed and other central government functions will continue. During those 10 months, the people must demand from the governors of each of their respective States new elections with candidates who are independent of the two-party dogma that has corrupted Washington, DC.

    An implied vote of 'No Confidence" or "None of the Above" is the only sensible way to end this long running nightmare of tyrannical fascism and nationalism that is destroying the country.

    The motto of new liberty must be, "Dissolve it, start over!"

    Posted by: chuckvw | Jun 1, 2015 7:26:53 PM | 19

    So much for the surplus value of labor... All surplus and no labor... The global capitalist system has become bulimic.

    Posted by: Tom Murphy | Jun 1, 2015 8:59:08 PM | 20

    I remember in school in the early 1980's a teacher said something really disgusting to the class: "want to boost an economy, have a war" (clearly the powers that be have made sure that there propaganda gets fed to the public) another ugly thing a teacher tried to push was the notion that WWII's economic effect was some sort of special boost yet at the same time trying to obscure the basic fact that it was government spending that took us out of the depression so war was not needed at all. A lot of work has gone into pushing the manipulative propaganda which is meant to manipulate and sell the agenda of the powerful.

    How it was presented was "FDR tried the New Deal but it took WWII to get us out of the Great Depression." The framing of it that way is intentionally manipulative in order to obscure the role government spending had in getting us out of the depression and it is phrased that way to sell war.

    Posted by: rufus magister | Jun 1, 2015 9:08:58 PM | 21

    in re 14 --

    Nor did they suffer from overproduction of T-34's,, even though they cut cost and production time in half. But they still had sufficient to defeat Hitler, thank Ford! The Space Station is in trouble if there are shortages of Proton rockets. And the Federation is still enjoying some Union leftovers in education and healthcare, see Lisa Marie White's accounting of why American liberals are wrong about Russia.

    For an artistic take on overproduction in capitalism, see Brave New World. Ending is better than mending!

    Whatever happened to waste not, want not? Just a throwaway line....

    Posted by: Copeland | Jun 1, 2015 9:12:41 PM | 22

    Piotyr Berman @ 16

    I think you're on the right track. Before capitalism ran amok and metastasized into a global zombie, there were guilds. I believe the Netherlands had a rich history of those organizations. These were created to protect the rights and privileges of members (to be sure); but they also preserved and improved the skills, and passed these on through apprenticeship. The obsession in consumerism is about having something brand new, and also relies on planned obsolescence, which needs to produce shoddy goods such as plastic footwear, that will be discarded as junk in a few months. Having things made which are durable enough to go through several cycles of repair, would moderate the overheated production.

    If labor is expunged by automation-crazed corporations; then war or revolution, or even both at once, is possible. The cataclysmic outcome that b sketched out is then possible. Of course it's all very short-sighted; but I once read somewhere that at the onset of the 1930s Great Depression, the capitalists examined the option of reducing working hours for everyone so that workers might still muddle through.

    On closer examination, capitalists calculated that dumping workers into the trash heap would add a few dollars more to the corporate bottom line, and be more agreeable to shareholders.

    Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jun 1, 2015 9:46:47 PM | 23

    @b

    Since you mentioned Karl Marx, the exclusion of a very valid third option, revolutionary war/class struggle, makes itself evident. From the trend we witnessed after WWII, we cannot expect as you correctly noted, a redistribution of wealth out of the greedy and gluttonous transatlantic empire and its minions, since concentration, centralization and consolidation of capital has been the order of the day ever since. The other major trend after WWII has been imperial wars, either by proxy or direct intervention, fought against countries that followed the path to independence from colonial powers by means of revolutionary wars, in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The potential for another period of revolutionary war is real, given the abject misery of the wretched of the earth, which have been left with nothing to lose but their chains. The main obstacle they face is the lack of a scientific tool to interpret their current predicament, and at the same time provide them with a vision of the social paradigm they aspire at, out of the ruins left of their societies. With its inherent limitations given by dogma, Marxism was that tool for Mao, Lumumba, Ben-Bella, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, and many other African, Asian and Latin American leaders who took upon their shoulders to shake their peripheral dependency. Many of them were successful in their revolutionary endeavors, and were able to trace an independent path for their societies, even if burdened with all the problems typical of the "third world." Nevertheless, even before the fall of the Soviet Union, Marx and Marxism were thrown under a pile of dead dogs, even more after the fall, which was attributed to the utter failure of Marxism as a social science.

    Marx and Marxism were part of the "end of history," a thing of the past, a post-Hegelian utopian philosophy whose ultimate results were the creation of dystopian societies…until the crisis of 2007, when suddenly everybody wanted to understand WTF is a cyclical crisis, and why do they happen. Das Kapital became a best seller in Germany and beyond; becoming a model for new works tailored after Marx's statistically saturated magnus opus, e.g. Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century, " and others. Despite all the intellectually gifted resisters to the empire, and the vast expansion of knowledge of the digital age, no new revolutionary theory has appeared, able to inspire the masses of dispossessed as Marxism did at the turn of the XIX c., one that changed the course of history forever during the XX c.

    It is in this vacuum, a modern epistemological crisis, that the neocons, bastard children of Trotskyism, took ownership of Trotsky's "Theory of Permanent Revolution," and turned it into a counterrevolutionary instrument for their nefarious global domination purposes. Hence revolutions became bastardized, categorized by "colors" or "seasons" according to the whims of the vulgar ruling elites, and lost their power to change societies from the bottom up. This crisis of knowledge of their own socio-economic/political conditions are having a profound effect on the masses worldwide, who in many instances rise up against their oppressors, e.g. Egypt/Arab "Spring," without a leadership, without a clear vision of their goals, without a social agenda that guides their movements, and they end up getting crushed or coopted by the new rulers, toys for the empire games of regime change. These are the "Twitter" and "Facebook" so-called "revolutions," mass movements with no direction, no aim, and no strategy for social change. What kind of society did the Egyptians, Tunisians, et al want? Did they have a program for the society they wanted to build? Was there a clear strategy and tactics to achieve their goals? "Crisis," say Gramsci, that giant of Italian Marxism, "is when the old has not died and the new has not been born." Humanity is now facing an epistemological crisis of galactic proportions, in serious need of a new revolutionary theory that, like Marxism in the XIX/XX c., gives the masses a vision of a future to build with their own hands, and hope there is a better world other than sweat-shops, slavery, toiling without rewards, exploitation, misery, crime, and an ever-growing gap between the ruling elites and the working masses.

    Posted by: Nana2007 | Jun 1, 2015 10:11:44 PM | 24

    There could be a helicopter drop ala Ben Bernanke.

    I like Gail Tverberg on diminishing returns/oversupply.

    I like Andrew Kliman on the declining rate of profit.

    Thanks for connecting the dots on this B.

    Posted by: ruralito | Jun 1, 2015 10:11:54 PM | 25

    @12, Sutton is an ass. He pushes the theory that Communism and Fascism are equally bad and what is needed is some mystical third way: Libertarians with their squirrel rifles hunkerin down behind cotton bales. So Wall St. offered Lenin free cash, and he took it! Well, duh!

    Posted by: Nana2007 | Jun 1, 2015 10:19:49 PM | 26

    The motto of new liberty must be, "Dissolve it, start over!"

    PokeTheTruth@18- I tend to agree, with the caveat that plenty people need to be held accountable.

    Texas might be getting that idea.

    Posted by: rufus magister | Jun 1, 2015 10:44:18 PM | 27

    PB @ 16, Copeland at 22

    Historians of the United Provinces point out that Holland and her allied provinces lacked a sufficient population base to administer and defend the holdings she gained in her revolt against Spain ("The Eighty Years War"). With the loss of revenue, croqetten and circuses became less affordable. The House of Orange were elevated from elected Statholders to Kings, the thinking being a monarchy would better keep the lower classes down than a republic. This environment proved conducive to the spread of revolutionary ideas in the Low Countries after 1789.

    Historian of the later Renaissance attribute the decline of the urban republics to several factors. The prevailing aristocratic values induced merchant families to move their capital from commercial and industrial operations to urban and rural real estate -- especially country tracts that came with patents of nobility. Failing that, you could, like the Medici, subvert the Republic with wealth and buy a title from the Papacy or Holy Roman Emperor. And a more mundane factor -- they ran out of good shipbuilding timber.

    England for her part had a large population. It had plenty of timber -- North America was a shipwright's wet dream, and before this, measures prioritized available timber for maritime uses.

    When elites think protecting domestic markets and workers will add to their bottom line, they will. But if the see money to be made in "outsourcing" and "off-shoring", well, away the factories, jobs, salaries, and purchases from suppliers go.

    England began to lose her superiority in textiles and iron and steel to cheaper American and German production. And these two rivals took advantage of what Gershenkron has called "the advantage of the latecomer." The major industrial expansions of both took place in the Second Industrial Revolution, where steel, chemicals, and electrics were the new driving technologies, and both were leaders in these fields. After a rearguard action up to World War II, they accepted de-industrialization whole-hearted under Thatcher.

    PTT at 18 -- The elite will be totally fine with abstention. Less voters to bribe. Not only will things continue as they were, we'll have to endure fools like David Brooks lecturing us on our lack of civic engagement.

    Go to the polls. If you can't bring yourself to vote for the left(over) parties down the ballot, write in you favorite choice -- "none of the above" will do. And not just for President, do it for all the races. The rightists will bring more of the same, only with more Pharisee-style false piety or boring Ayn Rand novels. Friends don't let friends vote Tea Party.

    Lone Wolf at 23 -- Time permits me only to say -- Gramsci Rules!

    Posted by: meofios | Jun 1, 2015 10:55:26 PM | 28

    I think the over-production we see is caused by zombie companies all around the world, that don't generate any profit, sustained by zero interest rate loans, over produce goods, causing a glut of products, and cause price deflation.

    Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jun 1, 2015 11:58:39 PM | 29

    RM@27

    The 'elites' spend billions of dollars every election cycle to encourage or frighten people into the voting booth. Without that 'consent of the people' their minions have no mandate or legal right to rule over us. Throwing your vote away by voting for or against someone or even writing FU on the ballot is still supporting the corrupt system that they will continue to use to rule and if voting could change anything, it would be illegal.

    This doesn't mean that elections and voting may not someday be useful again but there is no possibility they can now be used to change our corrupt system.

    Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 2, 2015 1:32:21 AM | 30


    Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jun 1, 2015 11:58:39 PM | 29

    I agree with that.
    Lone Wolf @ #23's Gramisci perspective is on the money.

    Russell Brand, my favourite non-revolutionary revolutionary, makes the (laboured) point that a govt elected by less than 50% of eligible voters cannot claim legitimacy.

    But Gramisci was righter than everyone else in pointing out that "Crisis is when the old has not died and the new has not been born."

    It should be obvious to everyone, by now, that Twitter and Facebook "revolutions" aren't revolutions, or journeys, and have no useful or coherent destination.

    Posted by: Chipnik | Jun 2, 2015 7:25:37 AM | 31

    b

    This is the 'atto-fox problem' in biology, addressed by the Lotka-Volterra equation in Brauer, F. and Castillo-Chavez, C., Mathematical Models in Population Biology and Epidemiology, Springer-Verlag, (2000), and many others, the bifurcation relationship allowing two mutually independent steady-state solutions, one with higher predation and lower prey population used to justify higher resource extraction rates, ...but it remains just a theory and requires a rigorous definition of who is the 'prey'.

    Is the prey the poor and downtrodden? No, those are the losers.

    We can all agree the 'prey' is ultimately the energy needed to continue surviving for another day, not the staid pedantic 19thC Marxist 'Das Kapital', but just the 'real' value of evolutionary currency and trade. We've transferred the value of energy into gold, then fiat paper today 1's and 0's, and now there's too many of them. They'really part of a non-viable fractional-reserve usury-based ecosystem that's running out of balance, Koyaanisqatsi.

    The rich prey on the energy developed by the poor through usury and credit, but also, the socialist state preys upon the destitute as a source of $Bs public program, using public tax extraction to generate private wealth in much the same way as usury and credit. More rice tents!!

    If we de-anthropomorphize the Marxist class-struggle dialectic, and the rabbinical Maker-Taker meme, the answer pops right out like a jujube: not overproduction, not QEn, not oligarchs and monopolies, but usury and taxes.

    Wah-lah. Usury. Taxes. Same as it ever was. Que sera, sera.

    Posted by: rufus magister | Jun 2, 2015 8:16:58 AM | 32

    Wayout at 29 --

    The standard line of us reds is that participation in elections is a useful tool for educating the masses and marshaling and mobilizing progressive forces. And that mass action, e.g., the general strike, is the real means of social change.

    Bhagavan Chippy at 31 --

    I'd stick to physics and Eastern mysticism.

    Predation occurs between, not within species. Socialism is about the workers controlling the means of production that they service. Social welfare capitalism bought their birthright for "a mess of pottage" (Gen. 25: 29-34). But austerity is taking that off the table.

    I find the overtones of the "rabbinical meme" and the emphasis on usury and taxes disturbing. See this handy comparative chart; fascism is "Strongly against international financial markets and usury." The Abolition of Income Tax and Usury Party is recent spawn of that brood.

    Our own home-grown TeaBaggers don't feel too good about it either.

    You might consider a clarification or restatement of your position.

    Posted by: paulmeli | Jun 2, 2015 8:28:43 AM | 33

    "We've transferred the value of energy into gold, then fiat paper today 1's and 0's, and now there's too many of them"

    Well, there's too much savings (accumulated financial wealth) but not enough spending. We know this because we have too much unemployment. Properly targeted spending cures unemployment.

    Spending is a function mainly of money printing, existing money (previously created) mostly just earns interest and so is parasitic to the system in the net (economic rent), which leads to a paradox.

    In the old days in the U.S. between 1933 and the mid-1960's the top marginal tax rate remained around 90% and then around 70% until Reagan was elected.

    This maintained some sort of balance between money printing and saving. Now, money creation just piles up at the top which creates huge inequalities of power.

    Posted by: geoff29 | Jun 2, 2015 9:24:35 AM | 34

    It's simple to conclude that the "ruling class" and their spokes-people are if not absolutely greedy and mendacious, then at least criminally stupid.

    But I think that's short-sighted. The financial crisis could be resolved in a moment's notice, since money is more or less an "imaginary" construct, especially now that it's just 1s and 0s, as was mentioned. The population is clamoring for "higher wages," but if we here were the small ruling class, we must know that "higher wages" means more mouths to feed from a growing population. Or, it means more disgruntled minions crying for "revolution" carrying pitch forks to the very gates of the gated communities and wilderness tracts where the very wealthy keep themselves concealed, when calamity strikes and food is scarce.

    And the "ruling class" despite their equivocations, surely discusses amongst themselves the growing unsustainability of the ever encroaching environmental calamities, and dwindling resources, etc. What wars are being threatened between great powers, are are not about the resolution of world wide perils in terms of repairing the global over indulgence in carbon based technologies, in fact they seem to be based on increasing their use and further extracting scarce resources and more rapidly burning down the house.

    Intelligent discussions are conducted here at MOA, it would be foolish to conclude that some semblance of intelligent discussions are not also held in the upper rooms and chambers of power, stripped of pretense and falsehood. If so, if one of us were sitting with those chosen few, I'm sure we would come to the conclusion that we were in a serious fix. And our backs are up against the wall. "Austerity" would be pushed to its extremities to decrease productivity and reduce the population through Urie's principle of immiseration.

    Put yourself in the shoes of this ruling class, our primary MO would no doubt be self-preservation from the encroaching revolutions and chaos, and destruction, and a preservation of some kind of status quo. Otherwise, all that we had, were we sitting on the porch overlooking our estate, would be gone.

    If nothing else works like the current financial immiseration to reduce the current state of affairs to a simpler and more manageable system where our ruling class rank and stature in society remained permanent and secure (because really our whole being has been reduced to measuring ourselves by our imagined sense of self-worth determined by our wealth, etc.) but the elimination of so many annoying minions through some kind of controlled burn, like a war, then certainly we would go about that?

    I'm sure nothing pleases these folks more but for us to deride them constantly and poke fun at their ineptitude and call them all sorts of "evil," because that would just be so much more grist for the mill.

    ===

    Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 2, 2015 10:25:43 AM | 36

    There is a famous anecdote about a General Motors executive showing off their newest automated assembly line to a United Auto Workers Union boss and remarking "Not one of them is a union member!"

    To which the UAW boss replied, "And not one of them is a GM customer, either."

    Posted by: Willy2 | Jun 2, 2015 11:15:49 AM | 40

    There's a lack of demand worldwide because since say 1981 workers/employees have received wage increases below inflation. In that regard workers have seen their purchasing power being reduced for over 30 years. No wonder, households/workers aren't able or willing spend lots of money.

    From 1981 up to 2008 households/workers were willing to increase their debtload. By going deeper into debt those households were able to keep their spending at a reasonable level.

    But since 2008 households are reluctant to go deeper into debt and that has weakened the worldwide economy.

    As long as workers don't get wage increases at or above inflation (levels) or are willing increase their debtloads (again) there's no chance for a economic recovery.

    Posted by: HnH | Jun 2, 2015 11:23:22 AM | 41

    b,

    you normally publish highly insightful analyses and information nuggets that I have trouble finding elsewhere. On this topic, however, you jumped short.

    Yes, we are struggling with overproduction and lack of consumption, but it is important to know where this development comes from. If you look at historical data, then you might realize that the purchasing power of people in the Western World started decreasing at the start of the 80s last century. The *growth* in purchasing power decreased since the 1960s. And debt is a significant, but small, part of it. The average growth in GDP has been consistently shrinking since the 1960s. Can you even remember a time, when the economy in one of the Western countries has been growing by more than 4% YoY? I don't. For Germany you have to go back to before the 70s oil crisis to find two years with a consecutive growth of 4% for more than one year. I wasn't even born then.

    The main problem is this: We have to invest more and more energy to pump the same amount of oil, mine the same amount of ores and produce the same amount of food. And there are more and more people living right now.

    This main problem, the diminishing returns, makes it that people have to spend more and more to afford the basic necessities. Corporations and enterprises react to their diminishing sales by cutting their costs to pay their loans. The easiest way to cutting costs is letting go of workers.

    Since 2008, the crash happened after the crash of the oil price, Western Central Banks needed to keep their interest rates a 0%, because there was no growth. If they are ever crazy enough to raise interest rates, they will be blamed for the worst market crash in human history.

    The reason is that we have reached the limits to growth. There is no more growth to be had for the industrialized civilization. That is over. For good. Unless we find an unlimited energy source that is very, very cheap. None is on the horizon so far.

    Currently, a country can only produce growth, for a very short time, at the expense of others. That too will stop. Then, in a few years at the latest, global GDP will start to shrink. That is when the wars will start in earnest. That is when the killing and dying will start in earnest.

    That killing and dying will not stop, until the world will have found a means to reduce its energy consumption to the physical and geological realities out there. That will take a while, and I have no clue how the world will look like.


    Best wishes,
    HnH

    Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Jun 2, 2015 11:38:36 AM | 43

    Sorry, but I again disagree.

    First of all, the robots in the example are there because there the Chinese labor pool has been growing slower than the economy for years now.

    Secondly, robots need to be made by somebody. They cost lots of money. They have to be maintained and often upgraded. The physical operation of the plant might take 90% less workers, but the remaining workers are paid as much or more as the previous entire work force.

    Thirdly, the production noted in the article isn't for China - at least, not yet. It is for the 1st world. Thus the "replacement" of the worker is a dynamic of cheaper labor elsewhere rather than actual replacement with mechanization.

    As for economics: an entire series of fallacies.

    a) Overproduction. While I will certainly agree that the 1st world can do with less, this is irrelevant. Every labor saving device ever created has ultimately had the labor savings spent on higher standards of living. There is nothing to indicate any change in this dynamic. Thus while we no longer have tens and hundreds of thousands of workers making automobiles, we now have tens and hundreds of thousands of workers doing other things like fracking oil and natural gas, servicing the cars via a nationwide array of repair, refueling, and upkeep (car washes, etc). Equally, we don't drive Model T's anymore. Ford used to be nearly entirely self sufficient outside of the metals - this is no longer true. Ford doesn't make computer chips or any of hundreds of parts in present day Fords.

    b) Labor isn't the problem - consumption is. In terms of overall productivity, Americans as a whole are producing more than ever before. Hours worked has been inching down, but hours of work isn't what dictates the actual output - it is a function of productivity times hours worked, and that product continues to increase overall.

    The primary difference between today and post World War II is that of the economic rewards. Americans who aren't in the managerial class get paid a smaller percentage of the overall production created than ever before. This also has been decreasing for decades.

    Thus the problem isn't one of too much productivity or too much automation - the problem is one where the rich get all the money.

    Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jun 2, 2015 12:08:31 PM | 44

    Right on cue...

    Why America's color revolution strategy of global domination is doomed to fail: the case of Egypt

    Posted by: paulmeli | Jun 2, 2015 12:16:13 PM | 45

    "The main problem is this: We have to invest more and more energy to pump the same amount of oil, mine the same amount of ores and produce the same amount of food."

    This may well be true, but if one looks at the history of spending growth (or more accurately public investment) by the U.S. federal government one will see that spending growth suddenly dropped by 1/3rd in the early 1980's (around the beginning of Ronald Reagan's presidency). This can be observed visually very easily by looking at the FRED series FGEXPND on a log scale…the breakpoint is obvious and so is the one at around 2010.

    U.S. federal spending has averaged 7% since WWII overall…about 9% through 1985 dropping to about 5% thereafter. Since 2010 growth has been an anemic 1.6%.

    It's no wonder GDP growth has been on decline since the 80's, and it's no wonder we are experiencing a slowdown now.

    Posted by: james | Jun 2, 2015 12:34:50 PM | 46

    @43 ǝn⇂ɔ quote.. "Thus the problem isn't one of too much productivity or too much automation - the problem is one where the rich get all the money."

    who is buying the produce ǝn⇂ɔ ?

    Posted by: dh | Jun 2, 2015 12:38:22 PM | 47

    @46 A lot of money goes into remodelling. Look at the proliferation of home improvement stores.

    Posted by: james | Jun 2, 2015 1:22:48 PM | 48

    @47 dh.. the big money is in the mic/fic complex... chump change in most other areas relatively speaking.. i think the big money is coming from gov't spending.. it is a self sustaining vicious circle for everyone.. that's my simplistic rendition of it! who pays for those orange jump suits anyway?

    Posted by: dh | Jun 2, 2015 1:33:19 PM | 49

    @48 Not everybody in the US is in jail or on food stamps. There is a lot of disposable income in the US. People buy new vehicles, improve their homes, upgrade their entertainment systems, send kids to college, go on trips. The trick is to keep interest rates low and keep printing money. So far it seems to be working.

    Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jun 2, 2015 3:09:14 PM | 52

    @geoff29 @34

    And the "ruling class" despite their equivocations, surely discusses amongst themselves the growing unsustainability of the ever encroaching environmental calamities, and dwindling resources, etc.

    I am sure they discuss those and many other subjects under heaven, problem starts with their conclusions. Ever heard of the "smart idiot effect"?

    (...)Buried in the Pew report was a little chart showing the relationship between one's political party affiliation, one's acceptance that humans are causing global warming, and one's level of education. And here's the mind-blowing surprise: For Republicans, having a college degree didn't appear to make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better-educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college-educated Republicans.

    For Democrats and Independents, the opposite was the case. More education correlated with being more accepting of climate science—among Democrats, dramatically so. The difference in acceptance between more and less educated Democrats was 23 percentage points.

    This was my first encounter with what I now like to call the "smart idiots" effect: The fact that politically sophisticated or knowledgeable people are often more biased, and less persuadable, than the ignorant. It's a reality that generates endless frustration for many scientists—and indeed, for many well-educated, reasonable people.(...)

    I'm sure nothing pleases these folks more but for us to deride them constantly and poke fun at their ineptitude and call them all sorts of "evil," because that would just be so much more grist for the mill.

    Well, their lack of awareness is legendary, and their indifference to their damage on the planet and the suffering of others is their trademark. They might laugh all the way to the bank, in total ignorance of the legacy their greed and possessiveness are leaving in their wake.

    Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jun 2, 2015 3:52:00 PM | 53

    From Cooperation to Competition -
    The Future of U.S.-Russian Relations


    May 2015

    A Report on an Interdisciplinary Wargame conducted by the
    U.S. Army War College

    Carlisle, Pennsylvania

    Posted by: james | Jun 2, 2015 4:04:04 PM | 54


    @49 dh.. i know that but thanks for the reminder..almost zero interest rates is the name of the game and has been for some time.. if people had a different interest rate on their line of credit - the jig would be up.. for now it is 'free money' with anyone silly enough to not 'invest' in the wall st casino, or is in any way pragmatic financially - will watch what money they have devalue quicker then you can say 'quicksand'..and, i am always reminded of the racial divide when i think of the states - food stamps verses big brand new automobiles.. what a weird culture.. canada isn't a lot different in some regards.. it is and it isn't..

    Posted by: okie farmer | Jun 2, 2015 4:13:02 PM | 55

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/karl_marx_was_right_20150531
    by Chris Hedges

    Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called "the bourgeois mode of production." He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since "the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production" and "the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships … the relationships which make one class the ruling one." He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse.
    ~~~
    The final stages of capitalism, Marx wrote, would be marked by developments that are intimately familiar to most of us. Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it. It would prey upon, in the name of austerity, the working class and the poor, driving them ever deeper into debt and poverty and diminishing the capacity of the state to serve the needs of ordinary citizens.
    ~~~
    The corporations that own the media have worked overtime to sell to a bewildered public the fiction that we are enjoying a recovery. Employment figures, through a variety of gimmicks, including erasing those who are unemployed for over a year from unemployment rolls, are a lie, as is nearly every other financial indicator pumped out for public consumption. We live, rather, in the twilight stages of global capitalism, which may be surprisingly more resilient than we expect, but which is ultimately terminal. Marx knew that once the market mechanism became the sole determining factor for the fate of the nation-state, as well as the natural world, both would be demolished. No one knows when this will happen. But that it will happen, perhaps within our lifetime, seems certain.

    "The old is dying, the new struggles to be born, and in the interregnum there are many morbid symptoms," Antonio Gramsci wrote.

    What comes next is up to us.

    Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 2, 2015 8:18:47 PM | 57

    lonewolf #52

    Your comment reminds me of something once said by a retired law professor. "We spend considerable effort looking for bright young students for admittance into law school. Then we spend the next three years beating out their common sense".

    Having been involved in graduate school education during my career that statement also applies to grad student education in English and Social Science departments.

    [May 30, 2015]Dare to say NATO no

    May 27, 2015 | Aftonbladet

    ...Politicians and editors look for opportunities to step up its campaign for the accession to NATO, and in the spring of 2016, the parliament is expected to approve a host-country agreements that make it easier for NATO to with Swedish permission to use our territory as a base for military activities, "including the attack", "in peace, emergencies, crisis and conflict or international tensions".

    Everything appears to be – and sold – as a speedy response to Russian aggression. Sweden and other countries are prepared after the end of the cold war in the belief that European peace was secured. But the president saw in our kindness as a weakness and took the opportunity to obtain tear up a security order that has prevailed for decades.

    The story goes is repeated again and again every day in our media. Vladimir Putin, with the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have shown "that he does not respect the European order that had been in place since the second world war and statutes that borders cannot be changed by force", writes, for example, the Daily News, in an editorial on January 12.

    Such an argument is a deliberate memory gap. MSM presstitutes push the button "forget" and suddenly a decade of war in the former Yugoslavia erased from the public consciousness.

    We can argue about reasons and circumstances of intervention, but it is undeniable that the USA, NATO and EU countries intervened using military force to redraw the map of the Balkans. The leadership in Moscow has thus set a precedent to cite. Putin reiterates at the conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine, word-for-word the reasons the western powers claimed for the bombing of Serbia and the recognition of cessation of Kosovo.

    But the right to put himself above the principles of the inviolability of borders and non-interference in other countries ' internal affairs is in our official propaganda worldview a privilege reserved for the "international community", which is in reality the United States and its entourage of small and medium-sized European satellites. International law applies to all other states, but not for the United States, NATO and the EU.

    NATO expanded in 1999 their mutual defense obligations to include global dangers such as terrorism and the "disruption of the flow of vital resources", and in 2003, the EU adopted its first security strategy, inspired by the Bush doctrine on the right to preventive war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction: "With the new threats the first line of defense will often be abroad ... We need to develop a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid, and when necessary, robust intervention."

    It was the doctrine of the first line of defense – not the dreams of peace, who guided the Swedish defense military industrial complex. Territorial defense was abandoned at the end of the 1990s, literally send to the junkyard. What was left was prestigious military projects in industry and the individual units of professional soldiers trained for NATO operations in foreign countries. The restructuring was led by a consulting firm from the united states, closely tied to the Pentagon, the NSA and the CIA. The armed forces would prepare for "global action - especially in the continents of the world in which Sweden has a vital economic and/or political interests," the consultants wrote in a secret report.

    "Sweden's role as a regional power in the Baltic sea changed from neutrality to leadership", was said. Now for some reason "koalitionskrigföring and Sweden's ability to operate in collaboration with organizations such as NATO ... get a new and greater significance". This was written in 1998, long before the war in Ukraine.

    When the U.S. interest in the Arctic and the north flank, now rising to the fore the plans. Sweden becomes a bridgehead in the quest to penetrate back to Russia. Gotland will again be anchored, Russian submarines tops the news and B-52 bombers taking over the sky.

    The major powers have never hesitated to tramp the UN-principles, but with the doctrine of the preventive intervention there is nothing left of the respect of all the member states' sovereignty. If NATO considers itself have the right to place a first line of defense in Afghanistan or Libya, then does not Russia the same rights in Ukraine?

    The Russian leadership will see in the western privilege for preemptive interventions a precedent. Europe is sinking into a black hole that draws misfortune of countries and people.

    Several politicians, editors, and the military now proclaim that that we should jump in, leave the last of the neutrality and comply with NATO going directly into the black hole. Multiyear efforts of dragging the country into the the alliance, shall result in the membership.

    We should do the opposite. Pull us out. Keep us away. Say yes to the exclusion.

    It reduces the risk that our own government or the foreign power will drag us into the war. But not only that. Swedish neutrality is also an opening for the people in eastern Europe who are looking for a rescue out of the tug-of-war between the Russian oil and gas barons, domestic oligarchs and western financial oligarchs.

    Being outside zone of US protectorate, we can jointly deal with the social issues.

    More can be read about the NATO mutual försvarsförpliktelser in "The Alliance's Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, D. C., 990424".

    The text was written in 1998 is available in the "SAIC: Perspective Study Dominant? Awareness 2020", Final Report, September 2, 1998, For The Swedish High Command, p. 5, 7

    [May 22, 2015] Stephen Kinzers The Brothers John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

    John Foster Dulles Allen Dulles were architects of deep state as a new form of US government.
    May 15, 2015 | Foreign Policy Journal

    Kinzer's The Brothers is an excellent source of information concerning the development of U.S. foreign policy during the Twentieth Century.

    The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret War Stephen Kinzer. St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 2013.

    Stephen Kinzer is a masterful storyteller, creating an historical record that is readily accessible to all levels of readers. Besides writing history—or more importantly, rewriting history correctly—he is able to draw out the personal characteristics of the people involved, creating lively anecdotal stories that carry the reader through the overall narrative.

    His book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret War, delves into the personal beliefs and perspectives of the Dulles brothers and those associated with them. From that he creates a picture of the nature of U.S. foreign policy as shaped by and being embodied by the brothers and the various Presidents and other corporate and political wheeler and dealers they interacted with over a span of fifty years:

    "If they were shortsighted, open to violence, and blind to the subtle realities of the world, it was because these qualities help define American foreign policy and the United States itself…..they embodied the national ethos….They were pure products of the United States."

    The historical narrative is clearly presented, the ties to corporations, their employment with powerful law firms, the power they gained within the political system such that after the Second World War they became the two most powerful figures in U.S. politics and foreign affairs. Apart from the basic historical record, the most intriguing aspect is the different natures of the brothers, and the basic similarity that few people gave very much credence to their abilities for deep thought.

    Personalities…

    They came from a relatively rigid Christian upbringing. John Foster retained the dourness of that upbringing through his life, while his younger brother Allen proved to be a dilettante and womanizer. Their concept of freedom

    "was above all economic: a country whose leaders respected private enterprise and welcomed multinational business was a free country."

    The other component of freedom was religion,

    "Countries that encouraged religious devotion, and that were led by men on good terms with Christian clerics, were to them free countries….These two criteria…they conjured an explanation of why they condemned some dictatorships but not others."

    This doctrinaire system of thought did not allow for much in the way of critical thinking skills. Sir Alexander Cadogan, Britain's undersecretary to the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, "wrote in his diary, "J.F.D. the wooliest type of useless pontificating American….Heaven help us!" Eden himself "considered Foster a narrow minded ideologue…always ready to go on a rampage….Churchill agreed. After one of their meetings he remarked,

    "Foster Dulles is the only case I know of a bull who carries his own china shop around with him."

    It was not just the British. American political scientist Ole Holsti found that Foster dealt with "discrepant information" by "discrediting the source" and "reinterpreting the new information so as to be consistent with his belief system; searching for other information. The advice of subordinates was neither actively sought nor, when tendered, was it often of great weight." Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said that Allen "was a frivolous man" who would "make these decisions which involved people's lives, and never would really think them through."

    …and history

    From a privileged upbringing with many family contacts in both the political and corporate world, the brothers had little trouble maneuvering through the intricacies of the global power structures they encountered. They were steeped in the ethos of pioneers and missionaries," and

    "spent decades promoting the business and strategic interests of the United States….they were vessels of American history."

    That history spans half a century. It starts with the Versailles peace talks and ends only with the death of Foster in 1959 and the senescence and increasing senility of Allen during that same time period. Its major impact occurred after World War II, with John Foster becoming Secretary of State with President Eisenhower, while Allen worked himself into founding leader of the FBI.

    From both these positions, one of great public power (wielded with much secrecy) and the other with great covert power, they steered the course of U.S. history through the early days of the Cold War. Their rabid anti-communism, combining their religious and corporate beliefs, shaped the world as we know it today.

    Kinzer leads the reader through the "Six Monsters", the foreign leaders who became the most public targets of the Eisenhower/Dulles administration: Mossadegh (Iran), Jacabo Arbenz (Guatemala), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), Sukarno (Indonesia ), Patrice Lumumba (Congo), and Castro (Cuba). The ongoing repercussions and blowback from these actions continue to shape our world today.

    The last three of these had other impacts. UN Secretary Dag Hammarskjold was involved with Sukarno and Lumumba, and was killed by CIA backed covert action in the Congo. The assassination of John F. Kennedy has several possible claimants, of which his interactions with Sukarno and Castro are the most telling. Significantly, Allen Dulles was appointed to the Warren Commission by President Johnson as it had "some foreign complications, CIA, and other things." Allen "systematically used his influence to keep the commission safely within bounds, the importance of which only he could appreciate."[1]

    Kinzer's The Brothers is an excellent source of information concerning the development of U.S. foreign policy during the Twentieth Century. A reader will develop a much stronger understanding of our current geopolitical crisis with this as a background source. It provides not just the historical data behind the events, but more importantly it examines the mindset of the U.S. administration and the people who are both shaped by it and are shaping it:

    "The story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America. It illuminates and helps explain the modern history of the United States and the world."

    Note

    (1) See The Incubus of Intervention—Conflicting Indonesian Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles. Greg Poulgrain. Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Selangor, Malaysia. (Click here to read Jim Miles' review of Incubus of Intervention.)

    [May 21, 2015] Militarization Is More Than Tanks Rifles It's a Cultural Disease, Acclimating Citizens To Life In A Police State

    May 21, 2015 | Zero Hedge
    Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    "If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."

    — Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military

    Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.

    Only nowafter the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later, after a whole generation of young Americans has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictatesonly now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons being passed along to local police departments.

    Not all, mind you, just some.

    Talk about too little, too late.

    Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.

    Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations."

    While this is a grossly overdue first step of sorts, it is nevertheless a first step from an administration that has been utterly complicit in accelerating the transformation of America's police forces into extensions of the military. Indeed, as investigative journalist Radley Balko points out, while the Obama administration has said all the right things about the need to scale back on a battlefield mindset, it has done all the wrong things to perpetuate the problem:

    It remains to be seen whether this overture on Obama's part, coming in the midst of heightened tensions between the nation's police forces and the populace they're supposed to protect, opens the door to actual reform or is merely a political gambit to appease the masses all the while further acclimating the populace to life in a police state.

    Certainly, on its face, it does nothing to ease the misery of the police state that has been foisted upon us. In fact, Obama's belated gesture of concern does little to roll back the deadly menace of overzealous police agencies corrupted by money, power and institutional immunity. And it certainly fails to recognize the terrible toll that has been inflicted on our communities, our fragile ecosystem of a democracy, and our freedoms as a result of the government's determination to bring the war home.

    Will the young black man guilty of nothing more than running away from brutish police officers be any safer in the wake of Obama's edict? It's unlikely.

    Will the old man reaching for his cane have a lesser chance of being shot? It's doubtful.

    Will the little girl asleep under her princess blanket live to see adulthood when a SWAT team crashes through her door? I wouldn't count on it.

    It's a safe bet that our little worlds will be no safer following Obama's pronouncement and the release of his "Task Force on 21st Century Policing" report. In fact, there is a very good chance that life in the American police state will become even more perilous.

    Among the report's 50-page list of recommendations is a call for more police officer boots on the ground, training for police "on the importance of de-escalation of force," and "positive non-enforcement activities" in high-crime communities to promote trust in the police such as sending an ice cream truck across the city.

    Curiously, nowhere in the entire 120-page report is there a mention of the Fourth Amendment, which demands that the government respect citizen privacy and bodily integrity. The Constitution is referenced once, in the Appendix, in relation to Obama's authority as president. And while the word "constitutional" is used 15 times within the body of the report, its use provides little assurance that the Obama administration actually understands the clear prohibitions against government overreach as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

    For instance, in the section of the report on the use of technology and social media, the report notes: "Though all constitutional guidelines must be maintained in the performance of law enforcement duties, the legal framework (warrants, etc.) should continue to protect law enforcement access to data obtained from cell phones, social media, GPS, and other sources, allowing officers to detect, prevent, or respond to crime."

    Translation: as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the new face of policing in America is about to shift from waging its war on the American people using primarily the weapons of the battlefield to the evermore-sophisticated technology of the battlefield where government surveillance of our everyday activities will be even more invasive.

    This emphasis on technology, surveillance and social media is nothing new. In much the same way the federal government used taxpayer-funded grants to "gift" local police agencies with military weapons and equipment, it is also funding the distribution of technology aimed at making it easier for police to monitor, track and spy on Americans. For instance, license plate readers, stingray devices and fusion centers are all funded by grants from the DHS. Funding for drones at the state and local levels also comes from the federal government, which in turn accesses the data acquired by the drones for its own uses.

    If you're noticing a pattern here, it is one in which the federal government is not merely transforming local police agencies into extensions of itself but is in fact federalizing them, turning them into a national police force that answers not to "we the people" but to the Commander in Chief. Yet the American police force is not supposed to be a branch of the military, nor is it a private security force for the reigning political faction. It is supposed to be an aggregation of the countless local civilian units that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.

    So where does that leave us?

    There's certainly no harm in embarking on a national dialogue on the dangers of militarized police, but if that's all it amounts to—words that sound good on paper and in the press but do little to actually respect our rights and restore our freedoms—then we're just playing at politics with no intention of actually bringing about reform.

    Despite the Obama Administration's lofty claims of wanting to "ensure that public safety becomes more than the absence of crime, that it must also include the presence of justice," this is the reality we must contend with right now:

    Americans still have no real protection against police abuse. Americans still have no right to self-defense in the face of SWAT teams mistakenly crashing through our doors, or police officers who shoot faster than they can reason. Americans are still no longer innocent until proven guilty. Americans still don't have a right to private property. Americans are still powerless in the face of militarized police. Americans still don't have a right to bodily integrity. Americans still don't have a right to the expectation of privacy. Americans are still being acclimated to a police state through the steady use and sight of military drills domestically, a heavy militarized police presence in public places and in the schools, and a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the police are our "friends." And to top it all off, Americans still can't rely on the courts, Congress or the White House to mete out justice when our rights are violated by police.

    To sum it all up: the problems we're grappling with have been building for more than 40 years. They're not going to go away overnight, and they certainly will not be resolved by a report that instructs the police to simply adopt different tactics to accomplish the same results—i.e., maintain the government's power, control and wealth at all costs.

    This is the sad reality of life in the American police state.

    [May 19, 2015]Military Bureaucracy

    October 26, 2009 | outsidethebeltway.com

    Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star, a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.

    NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ):

    "The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.

    Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)

    New Kings of War blogger "Captain Hyphen."

    One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation, which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl, whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.

    Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).

    How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.

    One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over — let alone twice — for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done.

    Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely — and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here — Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.

    [May 19, 2015] Americas Warfare State Revolution

    Apr 05, 2015 | Zero Hedge
    Submitted by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

    It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the warfare-state revolution that transformed the federal government and American society after World War II. The roots of America's foreign-policy crises today, along with the massive infringements on civil liberties and privacy and the federal government's program of secret indefinite incarceration, torture, assassination, and extra-judicial executions can all be traced to the grafting of a national-security apparatus onto America's federal governmental system in the 1940s.

    Certainly, the seeds for what happened in the post-WWII era were sown prior to that time, specifically in the move toward empire, which, interestingly enough, occurred during the same period of time that Progressives were inducing Americans to abandon their system of economic liberty and free markets in favor of socialism and interventionism in the form of a welfare state and regulated economy.

    I'm referring to the year 1898, when the U.S. government intervened in the Spanish American War, with the ostensible aim of helping the Cuban and Filipino people win their independence. It was a false and fraudulent intervention, one that was actually designed to place Cuba and the Philippines under the control of the U.S. government. The result was a brutal war in the Philippines between U.S. forces and the Filipino people, along with a never-ending obsession to control Cuba, one that would ending up becoming a central focus of the national-security state.

    A national-security state and an empire certainly weren't among the founding principles of the United States. In fact, the revolution in 1776 was against an empire that the British colonists in America no longer wanted to be part of. They were sick and tired of the endless wars and ever-increasing taxes, regulations, and oppression that come with empire and overgrown military establishments.

    In fact, there was a deep antipathy toward standing armies among the Founding Fathers. The words of James Madison, the father of the Constitution, reflect the mindset of our American ancestors:

    A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

    What about foreign interventionism? The speech that John Quincy Adams delivered to Congress on the 4th of July, 1821, entitled "In Search of Monsters to Destroy," expressed the sentiments of our predecessors. Adams pointed out that there were lots of bad things in the world, things like tyranny, oppression, famines, and the like. He said though that America would not send troops to slay these monsters. Instead, America would build a model society of freedom right here at home for the people of the world. In fact, if America ever became a military empire that would engage in foreign interventionism, Adams predicted, it would fundamentally change the character of American society, one that would look more like a society under dictatorial rule.

    That's not to say that 19th-century America was a libertarian paradise with respect to warfare, any more than it was a libertarian paradise in general, as I pointed out in my article "America's Welfare-State Revolution." But the fact is that there was no overgrown military establishment, no CIA, no NSA, no conscription, no foreign interventionism, and no foreign aid (and no income tax, IRS, Federal Reserve, and fiat money to fund such things).

    There was a basic military force but in relative terms it wasn't very large. There were also wars, such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Mexican War, and many military skirmishes, but with the exception of the Civil War, the casualties were relatively low, especially compared with such foreign wars as World War I and World War II.

    Moreover, it was an established practice to demobilize after each war. That is, a permanent war machine and perpetual war were not built into the system. War and military interventionism were the exception, not the rule.

    That all changed with the embrace of a national-security establishment after World War II. In his Farewell Address in 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the national-security state — or what he called the military-industrial complex — constituted an entirely new way of life for the American people, one that entailed what amounted to a new, permanent warfare-state branch of the federal government, consisting of an overgrown military establishment, a CIA, and an NSA, along with an army of private-sector contractors and subcontractors who were feeding at the public trough on a permanent basis.

    Most significantly, Ike pointed out that this national-security apparatus constituted a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.

    This revolutionary transformation was justified in the name of "national security," which have become the two most important words in the American lexicon, notwithstanding the fact that no one has ever been able to define the term. The warfare-state revolution would be characterized by an endless array of threats to national security, beginning with communism and communists, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and others, and later morphing into Saddam Hussein, terrorism, terrorists, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and even the Muslims.

    In the process, Adams proved right. By grafting a totalitarian-like structure onto America's federal governmental system, the United States began displaying the characteristics of a dictatorial society.

    Assassination, torture, rendition, secret prisons, medical experiments on unsuspecting Americans, the hiring of Nazis, indefinite detention, partnerships with criminal organizations and foreign dictators, coups, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, undeclared wars, wars of aggression, and extra-judicial executions. When any of those types of things occurred in the 19th century, they were considered exceptions to the system. Now they have become permanent parts of the system.

    And look at the results of this gigantic warfare-state transformation: ever-increasing infringements on liberty and privacy, ever-increasing spending, debt, and taxes, and ever-increasing anger and hatred toward our country. Yes, all the things that characterized the British Empire that British colonists revolted against in 1776. How's that for irony?

    Meanwhile, like the welfare state, modern-day Americans continue to remain convinced that their system of government has never changed in a fundamental way. They continue to play like their governmental system is founded on the same constitutional principles as when the country was founded. It is a supreme act of self-deception.

    The truth is that America has now had two different governmental systems: One without a national-security apparatus and one with it. It seems to me that it's a no-brainer as to who was right and which system was better in terms of freedom, privacy, peace, prosperity, and harmony.

    Thin_Ice

    This! You should see the faces on people when I try to explain to them that we're not supposed to have an ever present military. They call me unpatriotic and a hater of our verterans. WTF?!?! I try explaining to them we shouldn't have "veterans", that many of the conflicts they were part of should never have happened. Still, I'm the bad guy despite the fact that the country's ideals have drifted so far off course. I'm reluctantly getting more and more used to the deer in the headlights response from people, which is sad.


    El Vaquero

    Calm down, don't get angry, and use the Socratic method with them. The cognitive dissonance will still fight back, but ask them about why we were in Vietnam and Iraq. Lead them to the conclusion that those wars never should have been fought. Unplugging from the matrix is very, very difficult and very, very uncomfortable. You want them to understand your point of view so that it is much harder for them to condemn you for it. You are dealing with deeply ingrained cultural values that they have never questioned.

    And be nice to the troops. Most of them were duped into believing that they were doing good. You want them to turn on their masters if their masters turn on us.

    q99x2

    There is no America. There's parts of the globe that are labeled United States but the Banks and Corporations have more money and power than nations. They control the land mass that people refer to as America. They control the military that wears American uniforms and they control the nuclear weapons that used to be American weapons. That is why nuclear weapons can be removed from the US without prosecution or military intervention. Deal with it bitchez.

    Chupacabra-322

    The biggest dilemma facing today's younger Generation is the lack of a point of reference. 911 & other False Flag / PsyOp's have diluted their minds full of lies & deception.

    A former KGB Agent interviewed by G. Edward Griffen explained that for a propaganda campaign to be truly effective it has to cross over generations or be "Generational."

    We"re well into the second decade of the biggest PsyOp ever conducted over the masses on a Global Scale, 911. The Social Engineers / Revisionists have been very busy rewriting history.

    "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the future controls the past."
    -George Orwell.

    Fun Facts

    The mightiest nation on earth is run exclusively for the benefit of the mightiest banks on earth.

    Too big to fail, too big to bail, too big to jail.

    The politico are the puppet class.

    The people [at the very bottom of the pyramid] are the serf class with no money, no voice, no power.

    All as intended. Follow the money. Read the protocols for more detail.

    Pitiful

    If it were so easy. Unfortunately there are people who want control, for who knows what reason. I always wondered myself why anyone would want more than they need but I have never been able to come up with a clear answer that makes any logical sense. I can give a prime example: I had a friend in college who was very wealthy and frugal, so frugal they went to a community college with me. He was always telling me he needed more money (he already had an eight figure stash) and one day I asked him why he needed more. The only response he could come up with was: Becuase I want it. Again, I asked what for and he couldn't ever come up with a reasonable explanation other than he wanted it. I don't know about anyone else here but I can say for sure that if I was able to scrounge seven figures in my savings, I would be done saving with no need for any more. But I'm a simple, realistic person and I would expect that my children (not that I will ever have any) pave their own road like I did and I would leave nothing for them or anyone else and expect them to do the same. My money will all be spent and recycled back into the economy when I'm gone. There is no use for it after death. I'm a firm believer that if you can't survive on your own, you don't deserve to survive at all. The animals have already figured this out and humans knew it at one point to. Leave the weak to die or be dragged down with them.

    If I ever had the opportunity to ask one of the banksters who has some "end-game" plan for power and control over others I would only have one question: How is that going to improve your life and why would you do that anyway? You already have everything you could possibly need for the next 100 generations of your family. What is the fucking point?

    TacticalZen

    We are Rome and will follow their pattern of decline, although vastly accelerated given our modern communications and banking.

    Herdee

    Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Treasury Official in Ronald Reagan's Administration puts it pretty bluntly in what he's telling Americans.Americans reading this need to wake up to what a right wing neo-fascist government is doing to their society.

    http://thenewsdoctors.com/can-evil-be-defeated-dr-paul-craig-roberts/

    All religious Americans especially need to pay heed to his insights.It's no joke,it's what's happening right now.Can evil be defeated?The founding fathers warned you about it.

    Amish Hacker

    The MIC will always need a credible boogeyman to justify its existence. For years this role was played by the Soviet Union. We were told to be afraid of commies in Moscow, in the State Department, in Hollywood, and under every bed. Then, suddenly, came the end of Ivan, and the MIC was threatened with irrelevance, even dissolution. We the People were beginning to wonder aloud about a "peace dividend." Obviously, this could not be allowed.

    The MIC solution was to replace the Soviet menace with the terrorist menace. Really, you have to admire the psychopathic brilliance of this move, since terrorism is a conceptual boogeyman that will never expire or be deposed. Multiple, ongoing wars are now our new normal, and saddest of all, we seem to be getting used to it.

    Jack Burton

    This post somehow brings to mind a High School Class Reunion I attented 5 years ago. We are all old enough now to have been set in our careers for 30 years. So when you talk to people you can get a good insight into how they all made their livings after High School. My town School was small, my class was 145 students.

    What amazed me was what we all ended up talking about. It was the Military. Because as Americans THIS was the common bond we men share. Over half of the men there were veterans, me included, but even more than that, there was our lives after military service, and those who went direct to college. The college kids grew up and from those I talked to, there we many who work for the big defense industries in the Minneapolis Metro Area. Plus we had students who went west and worked for giant defense industries out there. Our conversations revolved around missiles, torpedoes, radars, air craft and high explosives. I met a class mate who designed the explosives for Bunker Busters and other High Energy weapons. One class mate helped build the guidance for the type of torpedoes my ship used. One class mate knew the type of detection gear I operated in the Navy, as his father designed much of it. On and On it went.

    By the end of the night, it seems half of our class was employed in military design and construction, the other half of average guys were all vets. Yes, Middle America, out where I live, is a totally militarized entity. It really hit home when you talk to a group you have known all your life.

    Monetas

    If we ever had an Empire .... it was a Moral Empire .... and it needs to be regained, improved and expanded .... it's called American Exceptionalism .... and I'm not impressed with the pretenders to our throne .... nor their bootlicking lackeys .... a bunch of chickens .... cackling in the Barnyard of Life !

    [May 19, 2015] Paul Krugman Errors and Lies

    May 18, 2015 | Economist's View

    Paul Krugman: Errors and Lies "The Iraq war wasn't an innocent mistake":

    Errors and Lies, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Surprise! It turns out that there's something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago

    The Iraq war wasn't an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

    This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, "were made" by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire.

    Now, you can understand why many political and media figures would prefer not to talk about any of this. Some of them may have fallen for the obvious lies, which doesn't say much about their judgment. More, I suspect, were complicit: they realized that the official case for war was a pretext, but had their own reasons for wanting a war, or, alternatively, allowed themselves to be intimidated into going along.

    On top of these personal motives, our news media in general have a hard time coping with policy dishonesty. Reporters are reluctant to call politicians on their lies, even when these involve mundane issues like budget numbers, for fear of seeming partisan. In fact, the bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud, the more hesitant the reporting. And it doesn't get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.

    But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it. The campaign of lies that took us into Iraq was recent enough that it's still important to hold the guilty individuals accountable. Never mind Jeb Bush's verbal stumbles. Think, instead, about his foreign-policy team, led by people who were directly involved in concocting a false case for war.

    So let's get the Iraq story right. Yes, from a national point of view the invasion was a mistake. But (with apologies to Talleyrand) it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime.

    pgl said

    George W. Bush and Dick Cheney knew all along what the real deal in Iraq was when they went in. General Zinni knew too and he said this would be a disaster. Bush pretends he listened to his generals. Really> Zinni warned us not to go in back in 2002. So yea - Jeb and his advisers would have invaded knowing what we know today as they knew all of this back then. But hey - it worked to get Bush-Cheney reelected in 2004!

    ilsm said in reply to pgl

    Most of the generals (I was in the business of buying) saw Iraq as business development, a fine little war to get the budgets up.

    It has been fine at getting the budgets up.

    The GOP move to raise the pentagon limits over the sequestration depends on more crazed activity in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. While rattling the saber at Russia over the CIA's mistake in Kiev.

    Since 2003 I tried to (really retire, I was double dipping) retire twice both times my phone rings with more "work" at great compensation.

    mulp said in reply to pgl

    We the People who vote in all elections voted to invade Iraq in 2002.

    The declaration of war if Bush wants it was voted on before the 2002 november election. Almost five hundred members of Congress were subject to being popular referendum on that vote and on their votes for job killing tax cuts.

    Republicans won on the basis of their wars and job killing tax cuts, and Democrats lost 2 Senate seats and 8 House seats.

    We the People who vote in all elections love the free lunch economics and politics of the neoconservative Republican party.

    It is neoconservative because conservatives decided to merge the hatred of taxes with the "spend" of liberal "tax and spend". Redefine American Exceptionalism and now you have free lunch tax cuts that pay for more spending on entitlements and wars that generate a profit.

    We the People who vote in all elections seem to be in the "you can fool some of the people all the time" They are the free lunch economic conservatives who believe that sacrifice is what happens to other people. If they suffer, its the fault of liberals. But they know that they can gain disproportionate power by being We the People who vote in every election.

    Opponents are those who vote only for dictator every 4 years, without realizing that neoconservatives call the president dictator to rally their faithful to vote in every damn election.

    The verdict on the Iraq mistake was rendered November 2002, not in 2004, and the verdict was We the People who care about the US voted to support the stupid Iraq war. Those who opposed the war did not give a damn and did not vote in 2002, believing the power is in the dictator.

    DrDick said in reply to mulp
    What do you mean, "we", Kimosabe? I have never voted for a Republican and have opposed ever war or military intervention war since Vietnam. A large number of people did so, but those who did not and vocally opposed it share none of the blame.

    cawley said in reply to DrDick

    Ditto.

    Plus many of the people who did vote, did so on the basis of lies.

    PK is absolutely correct that shrub, et al, knew that it was a lie. Even though many of us that followed the AUMF and stove piping closely knew that a lot of it was fabricated, for John Q Public depending on network news it was all "he said, she said", suitcase dirty bombs and crop dusters spreading anthrax.

    When the electorate is being intentionally mislead by the Administration - from the President, down - and the news media, it's a little disingenuous to drop all the blame on the voters.

    Julio said in reply to DrDick

    Not the blame, perhaps, but some of the responsibility.
    We live in a representative republic. These things are done in our collective name.
    pgl said in reply to mulp
    Yea - did we vote to train wreck Social Security in 2004? Don't think so. BTW - I did vote in 2002 for people who were opposed to the war.
    ilsm said
    Jeb was caught speaking in the open things he was supposed to say only in closed sessions with war profiteer PAC's and other exploiters of the 90%.aff. He's already made a Mitten gaff.

    PNAC is alive and well, undercover in the GOP.

    They want to keep Iraq whole, but the Saudi royals do not want Iraq run by Shiites who are 67% of the population. hey need to resurrect Saddam!T

    ISIS goes nowhere without Sunni support, Ramadi falling is example.

    W and PNAC were invading Iraq for the money, oil was the least corrupt motive, the most corrupt is the trillions squandered since 2003. Trillions that were taken away from US productivity and kill social security.

    The matter of US casualties is another grave sin .

    mulp said in reply to ilsm
    We the People who vote in all elections have the power, not PNAC.
    ilsm said in reply to mulp
    "We the MISLEAD People who vote,"

    Faux News, we the mislead, aggravated to hate those people and misbelieve war mongering experts.

    JohnH said

    Twenty-twenty hindsight is often pretty good. But it's hard to understand what prompted Krugman to write this piece now. Maybe he's trying the "get" Jeb (a positive.) Or maybe he's trying to help clear a space for Hillary to "get it," a decade too late, and offer her excuses and mea culpas. In any case, the last thing we need is another President with such poor judgement.

    What's particularly disturbing about the Iraq experience is that almost no lessons have been learned, other than perhaps it's better to use drones instead of boots on the ground for fighting pointless and futile foreign wars. Pelosi won a mandate in 2006 to end the war but never challenged Bush on it. Harry Reid even held "surge" hearings on 9-11-2007, the best day possible to garner support for yet more war.

    What kept USA from attacking Iran was not Democrats in Congress or public opposition. Rather, it was a report issued by US intelligence services, a consensus opinion that Iran had no nuclear program. They had learned lessons from being manipulated on Iraq intelligence and wanted restore their credibility.

    Moreover, the Iraq experience in no way prevented Obama from pursuing the destruction and resulting chaos in Afghanistan or Libya, or from thwarting self-determination with coups in Haiti, Honduras, and Paraguay.

    What Krugman is missing here is the urgent need for opinion leaders to exercise critical thinking and judgement before these tragedies occur. By 2007, Bush was known to be a notorious liar. Nonetheless, few questioned his intention to attack Iran, even with the consensus report of the intelligence services that destroyed the pretexts for it.

    By January, 2003 I had compiled enough evidence of Bush's phony intelligence to come out publicly against the war, much to the dismay and horror of most people, including my bosses. All it took was looking for the right information and connecting the dots. My point here is not to be self congratulatory, but to show that it can be done.

    What really needs discussion now is how to get American people to see through the stream of BS emanating from Washington and their megaphones in the news media and to use their powers of critical thinking and judgement and to preserve their personal integrity by acting to stop stupid wars and promote the common good. That could start at Ivy League schools like the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where Krugman teaches.

    pgl said in reply to JohnH
    I guess you are the most ignorant person ever. Krugman was against this stupid war in 2002. And cover for Hillary who voted to support Bush for whatever reasoning she now gives.

    Krugman is not leading Hillary campaign. But you still have a perfect record - for getting everything wrong.

    pgl said in reply to JohnH
    I guess the Google Master classes taught for Chicken Hawks like you are designed to filter out anything that does not support the Chicken Hawk agenda. Krugman was called the Shrill One back in 2002 for his tirades against Bush Cheney. But maybe you don't know this as you are: (1) stupid; and (2) trained by the Bush-Cheney Chicken Hawk school of neo-McCarthyism.

    Say hello to Scooter Libby for us!

    May 18, 2015 at 02:24 PM JohnH said in reply to pgl
    You insist on my misinterpreting my point: more important than debating Iraq is to make sure that we don't allow ourselves to be misled again. Pulling out the long knives on Iraq means nothing if no lessons are learned about the folly of most wars. And so far none have been learned, at least in the Obama administration. One of the most important places for this to happen is at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, which would be more aptly named the Wilson School for Warmongers.

    pgl said in reply to JohnH

    "more important than debating Iraq is to make sure that we don't allow ourselves to be misled again."

    That's fine. But why attack Paul Krugman? And why here and not in the comment of his blog? Why? Because you are a coward. This is the kind of crap one would expect from Dick Cheney. Surely you don't want be associated with the dishonest chicken hawk slime.

    JohnH said in reply to pgl

    I'm not happy with Krugman's stance because 1) the article seems to be a ppartisan gotcha, 2) it focuses on assigning accountability, and 3) it ignores the need for fundamental change--learning lessons so that America is never misled into war again, as we have been since then.
    May 18, 2015 at 05:50 PM JohnH said in reply to pgl

    Got those links showing that Krugman actually opposed the war as opposed to expressing some reservations about it? As you will recall, lots of people, including Kerry in 2004, expressed concerns, particularly about the conduct of the war, without ever expressing outright opposition.

    May 18, 2015 at 05:55 PM pgl said in reply to JohnH

    "By January, 2003 I had compiled enough evidence of Bush's phony intelligence to come out publicly against the war, much to the dismay and horror of most people, including my bosses. All it took was looking for the right information and connecting the dots. My point here is not to be self congratulatory, but to show that it can be done."

    Your bosses? Who gave you a job? A lot of people had tons of evidence to come out against the war by then. One was General Anthony Zinni whose opposition to the planned invasion was made loud and clear.

    Why don't you share with us a link to the evidence you made public? That's right - I'm calling you on this as you have lied so many times before. But please prove me wrong on this one.

    May 18, 2015 at 02:28 PM JohnH said in reply to pgl

    One piece that confirmed my thinking was a Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) Memorandum. It was published on Common Dreams. The link is no longer available but its message is summarized but not quoted verbatim at many other sources.

    Second Piece: "In October 1998, just before Saddam kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq [actually, they were withdrawn], the IAEA laid out a case opposite of Mr. Bush's Sept. 7 [2002] declaration: "There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance," IAEA Director-General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in a report to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. (.http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020927-500715.htm.).

    May 18, 2015 at 03:11 PM pgl said in reply to JohnH

    There was tons of the counter information. A lot of it was put up by people like Paul Krugman. No one paying attention in early 2003 believed a word from Bush or Cheney.

    May 18, 2015 at 05:41 PM JohnH said in reply to pgl

    So maybe Krugman should address the problem of no one paying attention. As I recall, the bigger problem was that if there was tons of counter information, which I do not recall, it was not readily available and one had to dig for it.

    Maybe you could provide a link to some reputable source stating that there was tons of counter information.

    As far as I'm concerned, it's just another figment of your imagination.

    don said
    My own take - an important cause of the war was the fact that one of Saddam's minions tried to kill W's father after he had left office. It was pretty obvious to me that the war was brought on by pretexts, and especially that any ties to 9-11 were spurious. (I recall especially a snippet from a broadcast by a British news agency, which I overheard as I was walking around the ellipse across from the White House. The announcer was saying "

    and our polls indicate that the strategy appears to be working 80% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the events of 9/11 ") Colin Powell, to his credit, was such a poor liar that it was blatantly obvious. From accounts I read of Saddam's behavior as the invasion became imminent, I am reminded of a scene in Robocop, where Saddam would be in the position of the hapless employee who is asked to pick up a gun and threaten a prototype robot cop, which then malfunctions (not that Saddam has any pity coming). Yet Hillary voted for the war.

    The disconnect between truth and news seems to have grown during and since W's time, or perhaps it is just things I noticed. Bush shirks Vietnam, yet the issue goes against veteran Kerry (who is attacked by the 'swift boats' propaganda). Repeal of the 'death tax' gets popular support. Despite almost $4 trillion in official reserves, China is not, and has never been a currency manipulator

    JohnH said in reply to don
    Kerry left everything he learned in Vietnam on the altar of political opportunism. Now he's just another member of the committee of warmongers running foreign policy
    May 18, 2015 at 01:14 PM pgl said in reply to JohnH
    You could not carry Kerry's shoes when he in the navy. You can't carry them now. Stick to what you know - shilling for right wing liars like Cameron.
    Robert Hill said
    I wonder what the USA and UK arms industry would do if world peace were suddenly to break out.

    [May 19, 2015] The Military-Industrial Complex in the United States Evolution and Expansion from World War II to the War on Terror

    Sept 1, 2013 | studentpulse.com

    After World War II, the United States military gradually came into a position of overwhelming dominance in the world. Military spending in the United States far outpaces that of other countries, with their world share of military expenditures at 41% in 2011, followed by Russia and China with only eight and four percent respectively (SIPRI 2012). This has been the case since the Second World War and has been justified in different ways over time. The arguments for continued military dominance have ranged from "long-term economic gains" at the start of the war (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45) to Soviet containment during the Cold War, "a broader responsibility of global militarism" since the 1980s (Ryan 1991, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 73), and most recently the need to protect citizens against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, there has been consistent concern that powerful groups in military, political, and corporate positions, profiteering from conflict and sharing interests in intensifying defense expenditure, have become the primary actors for making and administering U.S. foreign policy. Today the scope of the defense industry is now much bigger than legitimate security needs justify (see, for example, Moskos 1974, Mintz 1985, Waddell 2001 and Hossein-zadeh 2006).

    This analysis argues that expansion of the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending. This essay is divided into two sections: the first focuses on the origins of America's military-industrial complex, beginning with a definition of the elite group that the complex comprises. Next, by focusing on the period in which the foundation for the complex was laid – the Second World War – it is argued that the complex arose unintentionally in some ways, although important characteristics of it were visible from the start. Third, military Keynesianism, often used to defend high military budgets once the complex was in place, will be discussed and refuted. The second section focuses on the most important argument in favor of high military budgets today: the need to protect American citizens from the global threat of terrorism. It is argued that public perceptions of the causes of terrorism are incorrect, yet have been gladly utilized and fostered by the American military-industrial complex to justify an ineffective global war.

    The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States

    What distinguishes the "power elite" that constitutes the military-industrial complex from other powerful groups in American society who also seek advancement of their own interests, is that this is not a ruling class based solely on the ownership of property (Mills 1956, cited in Moskos 1974: 499-500). Rather, it is a coalition of civilian agencies that formally shape military policy (such as the Senate and the CIA), military institutions, private firms, research institutions and think tanks – all centered on and linked to the Pentagon (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 13). As a result of power arising from the occupancy in top bureaucratic positions as well as from capital ownership, the interests of the ruling elite go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and include desires to maintain themselves in power and to press for specific forms of public policy. Their most important common interest is intensifying defense expenditure. War profiteering in itself is not new – wars have always been fought at least in part for economic gains. Today's military-industrial complex is different in that it treats war as a business: the ruling elite's goal of having a large military establishment is not to expand the nation's wealth, but "to appropriate the lion's share of existing wealth for the military establishment" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 90). As a consequence, decisions on defense allocation, arms production and military operations are motivated by desires for profit and personal power, not necessarily by security requirements.

    This is not to say that expansion of the military budget has always been an 'end' for a powerful group of elites, but in fact was initially a means to serve other ends. The first big expansion of the military establishment took place in the early years of the Second World War, when the U.S. had legitimate concerns for its own national security due to such events as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared the war would negatively impact foreign trade. Military expansion is a logical result of the former concern, as it is a means to preserve physical security. However, it is closely linked to the latter concern, too. The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the nation's most influential think foreign policy think-tanks, advised the U.S. government that it needed free access to markets and raw materials in all regions outside of continental Europe for economic self-sufficiency. To this end, the U.S. advocated globalization and open economic cooperation through multilateralism. At the time, the crisis of the '30s and the war had made the concept of the free market highly unpopular. This made "military supremacy for the U.S. within the non-German world" a complementary requirement to ensure all countries within the "U.S.-led, non-German Grand Area," including Japan, would accept American conditions (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45). In short, military spending was not yet an end in itself, it was the combined result of needing to increase power in the face of security challenges and wanting to restore trust in and stabilize the global capitalist system.

    Key characteristics of the current military-industrial complex, however, were already present when the objectives of U.S. foreign policy during World War II were drafted. As Hossein-zadeh points out, a brief look at the social status and class composition of the Council on Foreign Relations, which consisted of wealthy, influential people with ties to major industrial corporations and politicians, shows that a ruling class shaped major government policies "operating through the institutional umbrella of the Council, and providing intellectual justification for major foreign policy overhauls" (2006: 41). The military-industrial complex in its present form might not have been in place then or have been created intentionally, but clearly there already was a power elite based on more than capital ownership, and strong ties between the military, political, and corporate spheres.

    After World War II, the Cold War stabilized U.S. foreign policy for over forty years1. With its demise, a "vacuum in the organizing principles of national government" had emerged (Waddell 2001: 133). Even if unintended, the military-industrial complex was well in place by now, and suggestions to curtail the military budget were met with fierce opposition. However, cutting back on non-military public expenditures while an expensive military establishment is preserved proved harder to justify with the loss of the perceived Soviet threat. An argument in favor of military spending that has been used consistently is that it boosts economic growth (Dreze 2000: 180). Mintz, for instance, notes that the military-industrial complex is seen by many to have "considerable influence on levels of employment, … the profitability of arms manufacture and the scope of exports" (1983: 124).

    The view that large military spending is an effective means of demand stimulation and job creation, and hence of economic growth, is called military Keynesianism. Keynes' (non-military) theory holds that in times of inadequate purchasing power, the (non-military) private sector becomes wary of expansion, and so the government should spend money in order to boost the stagnant economy by stimulating demand. Since expansion of the military industry is a government investment, it could have the desired economic effects in times of recession. However, it is important to keep in mind that Keynes argues for little government spending in times of high employment and sufficient demand. Military Keynesianists seem to ignore this fact completely and have argued for high government expenditures even during the Golden Age after World War II – and in no other sector than the military-industrial one. This can only be explained by the fact that it is a constantly shrinking number of people experiencing the economic benefits of high military spending (Waddell 2001: 135). The same people tend to switch positions between the Pentagon, its prime contractors and lobbying think tanks supporting those contractors, meaning that military spending is no longer an economic stimulus for the entire nation. Instead, it has become a redistributive mechanism of national resources in favor of the wealthy (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 226).

    Cashing In on the War on Terror

    What gets lots in the debate over the economic consequences of military spending is the effect it has on international stability. An old principle asserts that military threats are essential in preventing wars from occurring (Dreze 2000: 1178), but an overly extended military establishment means actual military operations are necessary from time to time to 'prove' the necessity of the army. And indeed, militarists have found that the most effective manner of convincing the American public of the need of a large military establishment is the constant 'discovery' of external threats. The threat currently most emphasized by the U.S. is global terrorism. We argue that while some fears of Islamic fundamentalism are justified, most are not; and that the threat of terrorism is not logically followed by higher military investment.

    The U.S. is not being fair in its assessment of the Arab threat. Public discourse today implies that Islam is inherently more rigid and anti-modern than other religions. Huntington famously predicted that most major conflicts would be between Muslims and non-Muslims, as "Islam has bloody borders" (1993: 12). In 1990, historian Bernard Lewis described a "surge of hatred" rising from the Islamic world that "becomes a rejection of Western civilisation as such" (cited in Coll 2012). Richard Perle, American neoconservative militarist and advisor to Israel's Likud Party, proposes a strategy of "de-contextualization" to explain acts of terrorism and violent resistance to occupation, arguing that we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to fundamentalism; instead, reasons for the violence of such groups must be sought in the Islamic way of thinking (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101).

    Religious fundamentalism, however, is universal: it arises in response to modernity and secularism, both of which tend to weaken or threaten religious traditions. John Voll points out that by the early 1990s, "violent militancy was clearly manifest among Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and others elsewhere" (1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 110-11). As one scholar points out, if the Bosnians, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris are asked about their borders they would say that, respectively, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are the ones that have bloody borders (Ahmed 2002: 29). Yet statements like the ones by Huntington, Lewis and Perle cited above single out Islam as the most dangerous potential enemy of the West. They all interpret the militancy of Islamic fundamentalism as being somehow directly caused by distinctive Islamic doctrines and traditions (Voll 1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 111) and attribute terrorist attacks to "pathological problems of the Muslim mind" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101). In doing so, they posit a characteristic supposedly shared by Muslims from Indonesia through Iran to Senegal, that makes conflict with the West inevitable.

    An incorrect assessment of the roots of terrorism does not justify the extent to which the U.S. expanded its military activity after 2001; nor does it explain why it continues to fight an ineffective war. As Peña points out, a larger military would not have prevented the tragedy of 9/11, and it will not prevent future terrorist actions (2001, cited in Snider 2004). Terrorism, much like the war that is fought against it, is a means of pursuing objectives, not an actor. It cannot be stopped by military action as fighting does nothing to address the issues that terrorists feel can only be resolved violently; if anything, this is more likely to lead to a vicious cycle of constantly growing military budgets and an ever higher number of terrorist attacks. As one author put it: "the moral crusade to end terrorism can only begin with a realistic assessment of its cause" (Snider 2004). So far, the global war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism.

    On the contrary, it seems the threat of an attack is now bigger: the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has increased from just over 1800 in 2001, to a staggering five-thousand ten years later (START 2012). The question that arises, then, is why successive U.S. administrations have found it so difficult to accept that perhaps their assessment of the causes of terrorism is incorrect; that perhaps, the policies built on their premises are not effective, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a vicious cycle of constantly expanding military activities and an increasing number of individuals who believe their grievances cannot be settled non-violently. This has everything to do with the never-ending need for militarism: 9/11 was approached by the U.S. as an opportunity for aggression. The attacks, however heinous, were approached by the government not as crimes (which would require criminal prosecution and law enforcement), but as a personal attack against Americans (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 91). With the views expressed by Huntington, Lewis and Perle widespread among the American public already, pre-emptive war and military expansion was easily justifiable to Americans. After all, how would dialogue help if the Muslim mind is pathologically troubled? An American citizen might cringe at the idea, but it is true: the 9/11 tragedy "came from heaven to an administration determined to ramp up military budgets" (Johnson 2004: 64).

    Conclusion

    This essay has sought to argue that the U.S. military-industrial complex was the unintentional result of both a desire to stabilize the global capitalist system and to protect national security interests, but that military spending is now closely linked to the personal interests of a small, influential group of elites. In the first section, it was illustrated that the context of the Second World War made increased military expenditures a necessary means to other ends, although the power elite that would eventually come to benefit from these expenditures was already in place. Once in place, this power elite has constantly needed to justify the disproportionate allocation of national resources to the military establishment. Emphasizing the economic benefits of military investment by drawing on Keynesian theory is a way of doing so, but military Keynesianists seem to give a one-sided account of the theory, one that suits their interests.

    The second section focused on the global war on terror, arguing that the U.S. is capitalizing on public fears which are based on an incorrect assessment of the causes of terrorism. The war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism, but as long as the public continues believing it is a necessary war, the U.S. military-industrial complex will continue using it as an opportunity to keep military budgets high.


    References


    1.) The U.S. did have to rethink the expenses of their policies during the crisis of the '70s, when expanding on both warfare and welfare became too expensive. Allocating taxpayers' money to the military had become harder to justify for several reasons; by this time, however, the military-industrial complex was well in place. Beneficiaries of militarism succeeded in maintaining high military budgets, mainly by exaggerating the 'Soviet threat' (such as in the now-discredited Team B report by the Committee on the Present Danger). This was clearly a way of defining the elite group's interests in terms of national interests and is relevant to the topic, but it is not within the scope of the essay to discuss this in detail.

    [May 18, 2015] New Military Spending Bill Expands Empire But Forbids Debate on War

    May 17, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

    On Friday the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee US involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act – limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth.

    But not even slower growth is enough when you have an empire to maintain worldwide, so the House majority slipped into the military spending bill an extra $89 billion for an emergency war fund. Such "emergency" spending is not addressed in the growth caps placed on the military under the 2011 budget control act. It is a loophole filled by Congress with Fed-printed money.

    Ironically, a good deal of this "emergency" money will go to President Obama's war on ISIS even though neither the House nor the Senate has debated – let alone authorized – that war! Although House leadership allowed 135 amendments to the defense bill – with many on minor issues like regulations on fire hoses – an effort by a small group of Representatives to introduce an amendment to debate the current US war in Iraq and Syria was rejected.

    While squashing debate on ongoing but unauthorized wars, the bill also pushed the administration toward new conflicts. Despite the president's unwise decision to send hundreds of US military trainers to Ukraine, a move that threatens the current shaky ceasefire, Congress wants even more US involvement in Ukraine's internal affairs. The military spending bill included $300 million to directly arm the Ukrainian government even as Ukrainian leaders threaten to again attack the breakaway regions in the east. Does Congress really think US-supplied weapons killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine is a good idea?

    The defense authorization bill also seeks to send yet more weapons into Iraq. This time the House wants to send weapons directly to the Kurds in northern Iraq without the approval of the Iraqi government. Although these weapons are supposed to be used to fight ISIS, we know from too many prior examples that they often find their way into the hands of the very people we are fighting. Also, arming an ethnic group seeking to break away from Baghdad and form a new state is an unwise infringement of the sovereignty of Iraq. It is one thing to endorse the idea of secession as a way to reduce the possibility of violence, but it is quite something else to arm one side and implicitly back its demands.

    While the neocons keep pushing the lie that the military budget is shrinking under the Obama Administration, the opposite is true. As the CATO Institute pointed out recently, President George W. Bush's average defense budget was $601 billion, while during the Obama administration the average has been $687 billion. This bill is just another example of this unhealthy trend.

    Next year's military spending plan keeps the US on track toward destruction of its economy at home while provoking new resentment over US interventionism overseas. It is a recipe for disaster. Let's hope for either a presidential veto, or that on final passage Congress rejects this bad bill.


    Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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    [May 17, 2015]Snowden cost US control of 'geopolitical narrative' – former NSA official

    Warren, May 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Snowden cost US control of 'geopolitical narrative' – former NSA official

    http://rt.com/usa/259101-nsa-counsel-snowden-secrets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

    marknesop, May 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm
    For one thing, this sounds an awful lot like an official admission that the USA did something wrong rather than Snowden.

    For another, it is important to remember that the "control of the geopolitical narrative" he speaks of was based on lying and secret snooping, and there is no reason to believe the USA would ever have stopped doing it on its own, or taken steps to admit it was doing it, so long as secret intelligence continued to keep them on top.

    [May 16, 2015] William J. Astore The American Military Uncontained, Chaos Spread, Casualties Inflicted, Missions Unaccomplished

    May 16, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

    By William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) who edits the blogThe Contrary Perspective. Originally published at TomDispatch<

    It's 1990. I'm a young captain in the U.S. Air Force. I've just witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, something I never thought I'd see, short of a third world war. Right now I'm witnessing the slow death of the Soviet Union, without the accompanying nuclear Armageddon so many feared. Still, I'm slightly nervous as my military gears up for an unexpected new campaign, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, to expel Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein's military from Kuwait. It's a confusing moment. After all, the Soviet Union was forever (until it wasn't) and Saddam had been a stalwart U.S. friend, his country a bulwark against the Iran of the Ayatollahs. (For anyone who doubts that history, just check out the now-infamous 1983 photo of Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy for President Reagan, all smiles and shaking hands with Saddam in Baghdad.) Still, whatever my anxieties, the Soviet Union collapsed without a whimper and the campaign against Saddam's battle-tested forces proved to be a "cakewalk," with ground combat over in a mere 100 hours.

    Think of it as the trifecta moment: Vietnam syndrome vanquished forever, Saddam's army destroyed, and the U.S. left standing as the planet's "sole superpower."

    Post-Desert Storm, the military of which I was a part stood triumphant on a planet that was visibly ours and ours alone. Washington had won the Cold War. It had won everything, in fact. End of story. Saddam admittedly was still in power in Baghdad, but he had been soundly spanked. Not a single peer enemy loomed on the horizon. It seemed as if, in the words of former U.N. ambassador and uber-conservative Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. could return to being a normal country in normal times.

    What Kirkpatrick meant was that, with the triumph of freedom movements in Central and Eastern Europe and the rollback of communism, the U.S. military could return to its historical roots, demobilizing after its victory in the Cold War even as a "new world order" was emerging. But it didn't happen. Not by a long shot. Despite all the happy talk back then about a "new world order," the U.S. military never gave a serious thought to becoming a "normal" military for normal times. Instead, for our leaders, both military and civilian, the thought process took quite a different turn. You might sum up their thinking this way, retrospectively: Why should we demobilize or even downsize significantly or rein in our global ambitions at a moment when we can finally give them full expression? Why would we want a "peace dividend" when we could leverage our military assets and become a global power the likes of which the world has never seen, one that would put the Romans and the British in the historical shade? Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer caught the spirit of the moment in February 2001 when he wrote, "America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will."

    What I didn't realize back then was: America's famed "containment policy" vis-à-vis the Soviet Union didn't just contain that superpower — it contained us, too. With the Soviet Union gone, the U.S. military was freed from containment. There was nowhere it couldn't go and nothing it couldn't do — or so the top officials of the Bush administration came into power thinking, even before 9/11. Consider our legacy military bases from the Cold War era that already spanned the globe in an historically unprecedented way. Built largely to contain the Soviets, they could be repurposed as launching pads for interventions of every sort. Consider all those weapon systems meant to deter Soviet aggression. They could be used to project power on a planet seemingly without rivals.

    Now was the time to go for broke. Now was the time to go "all in," to borrow the title of Paula Broadwell's fawning biography of her mentor and lover, General David Petraeus. Under the circumstances, peace dividends were for wimps. In 1993, Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton, caught the coming post-Cold War mood of twenty-first-century America perfectly when she challenged Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell angrily over what she considered a too-cautious U.S. approach to the former Yugoslavia. "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about," she asked, "if we can't use it?"

    Yet even as civilian leaders hankered to flex America's military muscle in unpromising places like Bosnia and Somalia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen in this century, the military itself has remained remarkably mired in Cold War thinking. If I could transport the 1990 version of me to 2015, here's one thing that would stun him a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union: the force structure of the U.S. military has changed remarkably little. Its nuclear triad of land-based ICBMs, submarine-launched SLBMs, and nuclear-capable bombers remains thoroughly intact. Indeed, it's being updated and enhanced at mind-boggling expense (perhaps as high as a trillion dollars over the next three decades). The U.S. Navy? Still built around large, super-expensive, and vulnerable aircraft carrier task forces. The U.S. Air Force? Still pursuing new, ultra-high-tech strategic bombers and new, wildly expensive fighters and attack aircraft — first the F-22, now the F-35, both supremely disappointing. The U.S. Army? Still configured to fight large-scale, conventional battles, a surplus of M-1 Abrams tanks sitting in mothballs just in case they're needed to plug the Fulda Gap in Germany against a raging Red Army. Except it's 2015, not 1990, and no mass of Soviet T-72 tanks remains poised to surge through that gap.

    Much of our military today remains structured to meet and defeat a Soviet threat that long ago ceased to exist. (Occasional sparring matches with Vladimir Putin's Russia in and around Ukraine do not add up to the heated "rumbles in the jungle" we fought with the Soviet leaders of yesteryear.) And it's not just a matter of weaponry. Our military hierarchy remains wildly and unsustainably top-heavy, with a Cold War-style cupboard of generals and admirals, as if we were still stockpiling brass in case of another world war and a further expansion of what is already uncontestably the largest military on the planet. If you had asked me in 1990 what the U.S. military would look like in 2015, the one thing I wouldn't have guessed was that, in its force structure, it would look basically the same.

    This persistence of such Cold War structures and the thinking that goes with them is a vivid illustration of military inertia, the plodding last-war conservatism that is a common enough phenomenon in military history. It's also a reminder that the military-industrial-congressional-complex that President Dwight Eisenhower first warned us about in 1961 remains in expansion mode more than half a century later, with its taste for business as usual (meaning, among other things, wildly expensive weapons systems). Above all, though, it's an illustration of something far more disturbing: the failure of democratic America to seize the possibility of a less militarized world.

    Today, it's hard to recapture the heady optimism of 1990, the idea that this country, as after any war, might at least begin to take steps to demobilize, however modestly, to become a more peaceable land. That's why 1990 should be considered the high-water mark of the U.S. military. At that moment, we were poised on the brink of a new normalcy — and then it all began to go wrong. To understand how, it's important to see not just what remained the same, but also what began to change and just how we ended up with today's mutant military.

    Paramilitaries Without, Militaries Within, Civilian Torturers, and Assassins Withal

    Put me back again in my slimmer, uniformed 1990 body and catapult me for a second time to 2015. What do I see in this military moment that surprises me? Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for sure. Networked computers everywhere and the reality of a military preparing for "cyberwar." Incessant talk of terrorism as America's chief threat. A revival, however haltingly, of counterinsurgency operations, or COIN, a phenomenon abandoned in Vietnam with a stake through its heart (or so I thought then). Uncontrolled and largely unaccountable mass surveillance of civilian society that in the Cold War era would have been a hallmark of the "Evil Empire."

    More than anything, however, what would truly have shocked the 1990 version of me is the almost unimaginable way the military has "privatized" in the twenty-first century. The presence of paramilitary forces (mercenary companies like DynCorp and the former Blackwater, now joined with Triple Canopy in the Constellis Group) and private corporations like KBR doing typical military tasks like cooking and cleaning (what happened to privates doing KP?), delivering the mail, and mounting guard duty on military bases abroad; an American intelligence system that's filled to the brim with tens of thousands of private contractors; a new Department of Defense called the Department of Homeland Security ("homeland" being a word I would once have associated, to be blunt, with Nazi Germany) that has also embraced paramilitaries and privatizers of every sort; the rapid rise of a special operations community, by the tens of thousands, that has come to constitute a vast, privileged, highly secretive military caste within the larger armed forces; and, most shocking of all, the public embrace of torture and assassination by America's civilian leaders — the very kinds of tactics and techniques I associated in 1990 with the evils of communism.

    Walking about in such a world in 2015, the 1990-me would truly find himself a stranger in a strange land. This time-traveling Bill Astore's befuddlement could, I suspect, be summed up in an impolite sentiment expressed in three letters: WTF?

    Think about it. In 2015, so many of America's "trigger-pullers" overseas are no longer, strictly speaking, professional military. They're mercenaries, guns for hire, or CIA drone pilots (some on loan from the Air Force), or warrior corporations and intelligence contractors looking to get in on a piece of the action in a war on terror where progress is defined — official denials to the contrary — by body count, by the number of "enemy combatants" killed in drone or other strikes.

    Indeed, the very persistence of traditional Cold War structures and postures within the "big" military has helped hide the full-scale emergence of a new and dangerous mutant version of our armed forces. A bewildering mish-mash of special ops, civilian contractors (both armed and unarmed), and CIA and other intelligence operatives, all plunged into a penumbra of secrecy, all largely hidden from view (even as they're openly celebrated in various Hollywood action movies), this mutant military is forever clamoring for a greater piece of the action.

    While the old-fashioned, uniformed military guards its Cold War turf, preserved like some set of monstrous museum exhibits, the mutant military strives with great success to expand its power across the globe. Since 9/11, it's the mutant military that has gotten the lion's share of the action and much of the adulation — here's looking at you, SEAL Team 6 — along with its ultimate enabler, the civilian commander-in-chief, now acting in essence as America's assassin-in-chief.

    Think of it this way: a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is completely uncontained. Washington's foreign policies are strikingly military-first ones, and nothing seems to be out of bounds. Its two major parts, the Cold War-era "big" military, still very much alive and kicking, and the new-era military of special ops, contractors, and paramilitaries seek to dominate everything. Nuclear, conventional, unconventional, land, sea, air, space, cyber, you name it: all realms must be mastered.

    Except it can't master the one realm that matters most: itself. And it can't find the one thing that such an uncontained military was supposed to guarantee: victory (not in a single place anywhere on Earth).

    Loaded with loot and praised to the rafters, America's uncontained military has no discipline and no direction. It never has to make truly tough choices, like getting rid of ICBMs or shedding its obscenely bloated top ranks of officers or cancelling redundant weapon systems like the F-35. It just aims to do it all, just about everywhere. As Nick Turse reported recently, U.S. special ops touched down in 150 countries between 2011 and 2014. And the results of all this activity have been remarkably repetitive and should by now be tragically predictable: lots of chaos spread, lots of casualties inflicted, and in every case, mission unaccomplished.

    The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

    Say what you will of the Cold War, at least it had an end. The overriding danger of the current American military moment is that it may lack one.

    Once upon a time, the U.S. military was more or less tied to continental defense and limited by strong rivals in its hegemonic designs. No longer. Today, it has uncontained ambitions across the globe and even as it continually stumbles in achieving them, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, or elsewhere, its growth is assured, as our leaders trip over one another in continuing to shower it with staggering sums of money and unconditional love.

    No military should ever be trusted and no military should ever be left uncontained. Our nation's founders knew this lesson. Five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower took pains in his farewell address in 1961 to remind us of it again. How did we as a people come to forget it? WTF, America?

    What I do know is this: Take an uncontained, mutating military, sprinkle it with unconditional love and plenty of dough, and you have a recipe for disaster. So excuse me for being more than a little nervous about what we'll all find when America flips the calendar by another quarter-century to the year 2040.

    Selected Skeptical Comments

    Chris Geary May 15, 2015 at 3:41 am

    "Military overreach" is a nice way I guess of putting the US ruthless/reckless plan for military control of the planet.

    Christer Kamb May 15, 2015 at 5:57 am

    It´s name is POWER-HYBRIS. Trying to put the Roman Empire in the shade is asking for the same end.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    "The military wants to do everything everywhere". And Americans like it that way: THAT's the problem. Between Hollywood, TV, every Politboro news organ from Business Insider to Fox News, National Friggin' Geographic fer chrissakes extolling military porn, no wonder the plebs are so bloodthirsty. Last Christmas for the first time when Norad tracked Santa Claus on his journey from the North Pole his sleigh was escorted by two fighter jets. Gotta get 'em young.
    Doesn't seem to matter to anyone that the American military has not won a major engagement since WWII. Oh, except Grenada. America's defining National Myth Monster rolls on.
    Dennis Kucinich proposed a Department of Peace, just fund the hell out of it. Since the plebs operate in a "conscience-free zone", pay enough people to shout "Peace Now!" at every possible turn and you might move the needle. Worked a treat in 1971.

    Harriet May 15, 2015 at 4:02 am

    It's crushing to think how if even a fraction of the trillions sunk into maintaining military bloat–the F-35 boondoggle, or the mercenary contractors first come to mind–had been invested in U.S. education system, health care, and/or civic infrastructure, so many people and families would be alive and thriving today. And who knows if one of them was the next Marie Curie, George Washington Carver, or Hedy Lamarr?

    sufferin'succotash May 15, 2015 at 8:35 am

    That's Hedley!

    PlutoniumKun May 15, 2015 at 4:55 am

    'Not so much a country with an army as an army with a country' they used to say about Prussia. The US is increasingly beginning to resemble that description. Historically, countries with unconfined militaries end up in wars because sections of the military decide there must be a war, not because the civilian leadership decides. What his happening now in parts of the world (most notably Ukraine and elsewhere in eastern Europe) is beginning to resemble Manchuria in the 1930's, when an unconstrained Japanese army simply decided to start a war (actually, more than one war) without even bothering to consult with Tokyo. Increasingly I do not think it is relevant who sits in the White House, the crucial decisions are not made there.

    MikeNY May 15, 2015 at 6:03 am

    We're the modern-age Sparta.

    According to Boehner, our military can't survive on a dime less than $604,000,000,000 a year. Because "it's downright shameful … to even contemplate turning our backs on American troops."

    Every time you cut funding for an F-35 or a drone or a nuke, little baby Jesus weeps.

    James Levy May 15, 2015 at 6:52 am

    With one sad exception: our inequality extends to who bears the ultimate burden for that Sparta-like militarism. We've fobbed off imperial policing to mostly poor rural whites and Hispanics (blacks have largely internalized which way the wind is blowing and their participation rates in recruitment have dropped significantly). Every Spartan male who was not a Helot was a soldier. Here, we've upended that relationship so that those at the bottom make up the soldiery and those at the top never go near a barracks.

    MikeNY May 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Yes, ITA.

    Felix May 16, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Plenty of blacks as well. Basically it is a well funded jobs program…….do nothing jobs…….huge benefits……out of sight medical care abuse……..as General Casey said, "a health care system that occasionally kills a terrorist." What other industry exists in the US that can offer an average citizen a middle or lower middle class income? Local Fire? Good luck if you don't have relatives and same with police.

    Brooklin Bridge May 15, 2015 at 7:10 am

    The insane expense of operating the military and the impossibility of shutting it down or limiting it in any way it is a good part of the military's (not to mention the empire's) Achilles heel. The other part is it's clunky, crusty, internal structure so resistant by hubris and habit to change and reason as Astore aptly describes. But it's cold comfort.

    As always with our Empire, the tragedy is that we seem fated to go through all the machinations, but worse all the unnecessary suffering put mainly on the innocent, of a system that has reached that level of complexity or what ever it is that triggers the downward spiral of self destruction.

    Brooklin Bridge May 15, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Increasingly I do not think it is relevant who sits in the White House, the crucial decisions are not made there.

    Hard to argue that point, but I suspect in reality it does matter in an odd sort of way. Executives have a sort of uncontrolled control like a car where the steering wheel is so loose as to be almost, but not quite, worthless. The President (and Obama with his narcissism is a pip for this) whirls the wheel and imagines he is at the helm, but the whole contraption, in reality, responds with a confused will of its own.

    steviefinn May 15, 2015 at 5:17 am

    It reminds me of how Bomber Command became like a giant machine during WW2. A bureaucracy which once put in motion ( as Kurt Vonnegut was told by a high level officer within it ), just kept on rolling even when it was realised, by many of the cogs working with in it that it was no longer serving a supposedly useful purpose.

    There is a possibility that officer might have been the scientist Freeman Dyson, & here he talks about the sense of helplessness, when knowing something is very wrong within the organisation you are working for, but knowing that there is nothing you can do to change it :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ8jRF5icZQ

    Otter May 15, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will."

    "Triumph Des Willens" was a huge fad last century. It came to a bad end 70 years ago.

    Maju May 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Actually the best comparison is not Rome but Charles V, who also dreamed with Rome, like all European power-mongers ever. Like Charles V, the endless campaigns of the USA only manage to erode the empire, like Charles V, every other "second" power is trying to erode the influence of the USA, mostly with success, like Charles V, the hypertrophy of the military relies on an huge pile of debt, impossible to pay. The main difference is that Charles V used old-school money (silver and gold), while the USA uses paper-money.

    It's kind of an ouroboros of European imperialism: the beginning and the end of it.

    Jackrabbit May 15, 2015 at 6:41 am

    I think the author is trying to say that our Democracy has been hijacked.

    Military people tend to give too little credit to propaganda. Its an Empire of Illusion as much as it is an Empire of Chaos.

    Americans have been too complacent about international relations. This allows our bought government a free hand for overseas adventures. But the war comes home in a variety of ways, from spying to cuts in social spending to militarized police and more.

    =
    =
    =
    H O P

    juliania May 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I don't think he is trying to say – he is saying it. Very clearly and concisely and encompassing all aspects of military malfeasance. The 1990 perspective is appropriate and chilling for those of us whose memories as adults reach back that far. It truly was a watershed moment, even perhaps a greater one than the 2000 election as far as this country's potential for actual reversal of course is concerned.

    Well done, Mr. Astore.

    James Levy May 15, 2015 at 6:47 am

    I understand the man's thinking and praise him for it, but he doesn't take the ultimate step which Chalmers Johnson did–to understanding that since NSC68 it was always about aggrandizement, not "containment."

    As an historian of Britain, the interesting thing for me intellectually (emotionally if find this all sickening and appalling) is how there was always a constituency for retrenchment in the UK, but it never cohered here, or hasn't since Pearl Harbor. British defence spending was always cut after wars. Hell, it was Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s who carried through the so-called Geddes Axe and slashed the services unmercifully. Despite a vast empire, the British establishment was always leery of paying the high taxes needed for a huge military. I guess we owe a lot of this to Nixon closing the gold window and the death of Bretton Woods. Our unique position as issuer of the global currency with no check on how much of it we can issue makes our military extravaganzas possible.

    Carla May 15, 2015 at 7:07 am

    In the "WTF America?" department, I wonder what James Levy and William Astore think of Michael J. Glennon's "National Security and Double Government" ?

    norm de plume May 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    The title sounds like it sails close to the borders of the Deep State, but this review I just read:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/10/18/review-national-security-and-double-government-michael-glennon/tUhBBdSj8s0WW1HoWUf20M/story.html

    says 'This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created'

    Which sounds eerily like stevie's relay of Freeman Dyson's comment about Bomber Command above:

    'A bureaucracy which once put in motion ( as Kurt Vonnegut was told by a high level officer within it ), just kept on rolling even when it was realised, by many of the cogs working with in it that it was no longer serving a supposedly useful purpose'

    So, if it's just a blind monster driven by thousands of little bureaucratic decisions it should be easier to stop than if it's actually an evil cabal of bad guys, yes? A last quote from Glennon casts some doubt:

    "the term Orwellian will have little meaning to a people who have never known anything different, who have scant knowledge of history, civics, or public affairs, and who in any event have never heard of George Orwell."

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Our unique position as issuer of the global currency with no check on how much of it we can issue makes our military extravaganzas possible.

    A fiat-money empire can be a household or not a household.

    The choice is up to the people…the masters of the house.

    "You have chosen…wisely."

    JTMcPhee May 15, 2015 at 8:21 am

    See Spot run! Run, Spot, run! See Dick shoot Jane! Shoot, Dick, shoot! See Dick show Vlad how to shoot, American style! And make tactical decisions just like successful US military!

    No more topheavy command and control! Except realtime GoPro Battlespace management by fatass dudes at Global Network-Centric Interoperababble Battlespace consoles!

    "War In Ukraine," now we know who the official Good Guys are!

    https://youtu.be/hx0Y6tWKCB8
    We be fu___ed. Like Totally,, Timmy!

    OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    The most telling bit is that these glorious, freedom loving defenders of free Ukraine are speaking in … Russian?! WTF??? They speak Russian and the US trainers' instructions get translated to them in Russian.

    I guess they haven't had time to learn proper Bandera while fighting other Russian speakers…

    Eureka Springs May 15, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I think this is the authors most significant blind spot:

    Above all, though, it's an illustration of something far more disturbing: the failure of democratic America to seize the possibility of a less militarized world.

    We are not now nor have we ever been a democratic America. Beginning with the oft cited point by me that the D word does not exist in the Constitution. I say this understanding that the people even in a Democracy would likely approve if not demand to be a horrifically violent bunch. Who will change this, the Green party?

    Maybe, but only in a Democracy, the kind which abhors secrecy and lies as much as bloody war mongering itself.

    susan the other May 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    I think this way as well. I sometimes think we really jumped the shark in the Cold War because we created so much advanced (mostly secret) technology it would stagger us all to learn about it. But the Cold War was the perfect window of history to accomplish this applied science. And now we are in a kind of existential crisis. Yes it was and is expensive to advance science at such a pace. And we will never know how that money has been spent because it's all top secret. I wish we could apply block chain accounting to military procurement. Pin down every penny. And for this reason: that money could have been spent on creating a sustainable world but it was "misallocated" as the capitalists like to say.

    We failed to modernize our brains and our economy at a critical time. We should send the entire military to the psychologist and appoint a very enlightened bunch to change course at the DoD. The new Secty of Def is a curious guy. Almost likeable. I'd personally love to see the greatest oxymoron – a true peace, green peace preferably, even if it is a fascistic peace. It could be a great new economy.

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    You're right – the money could been spent on creating a sustainable world.

    Printing more doesn't address the issue if we don't correct the misallocation, and when we correct it, we will likely see we don't need to print more.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Tinkering at the margins won't work. Do what Ron Paul said: bring the troops home.

    When asked when he would do it, he replied "as soon as the boats can get there".
    THAT's the world we need to be imagining: America with an unbelievably strong, successful fighting force (1/10th it's current size) ready to defend our borders against every conceivable threat. Take another 1/10th of the force and put them to work on American soil building roads, bridges, TRAIN TRACKS, and hospitals HERE for a change. Aim 1/10th of the force to R&D, techno-science and manufacturing advancements they are already so good at.

    Loudly announce to the Taiwanese and the South Koreans and the Europeans and the Israelis that they must pay for their own defense. Faced with the impossibility of doing so just maybe they would find new ways to cooperate with their neighbors rather than simply hiding behind the World's Apex Bully.

    Henry May 15, 2015 at 8:30 am

    What I find interesting is that the American people are becoming more and more suspicious and fearful of big government but are still enamored and almost fawning of a big military as if they are two separate things. They believe politicians are corrupt but the military brass are honorable and respect worthy. I'm not sure if this is caused by Hollywood, but there is a real cognitive dissidence in the minds of the American people.

    I hope they're able to wake from this fantasy before it's too late.

    bruno marr May 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    …I like the creative use of "dissidence" (misbelief) in this comment. I expected to see "dissonance" (inconsistency), but misbelief better describes the American mindset.

    A refusal to accept reality.

    barutanseijin May 15, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I don't know if it's ALL Hollywood's fault, but they certainly have something to do with it. The military parasitic complex doesn't cooperate with Hollywood projects like Top Gun for nothing.

    And it's not just Hollywood, but news media which serves up blatant propaganda as "news" (yellowcake!) & pays members of the military-parasitic class to yabber away on network teevee. Not to mention the NFL which takes Pentagon dollars for salutes to soldiers. It's like an oxoplasma gondii infection, where the protozoans take over rodent brains and drive them towards the cats.

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Government is not just for building bridges. Military is a big, big part*.

    Let's not overlook this reality when we are not being skeptical (but we should be) of the unlimited money creation authority (so claimed, but debatable) for the government to spend (so that it will trickle down to you), especially when we can do better – we can take away military spending and use it for all those things mentioned above (which we desperately need) by Harriet, at 4:02AM.

    *Big Brother says he's being ignored.

    vegeholic May 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    A good start would be to re-institute compulsory national service with NO DEFERMENTS. If there is pushback from uncooperative draftees, maybe that is valuable feedback that should be listened to. I am sure it was a dream come true when the brass got their professional, all volunteer army, and could then forge ahead with their plans knowing there would be little resistance from inside.

    For all of the untidiness of the Vietnam era protests, there was valuable feedback indicating the citizens had lost interest in pursuing that lost enterprise. If the policy makers knew that their children and grandchildren (and themselves !) were about to become cannon fodder they might think twice about starting new adventures.

    jrs May 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    You idea of compulsory national service with NO DEFERMENTS is a delusion. The rich will NEVER EVER EVER serve with the grunts. Get that straight. Short of revolution (and even then probably!!!).

    We already know the criminal laws don't' apply to the rich. And we expect them not to get out of the law when not just their freedom (ie being sent to the slammer) but their lives are at stake. Yea right. As always we will die, they will profit. That's the case even with voluntary recruitment. And it will be the case if they get the draft only no peasants will have any choice but to die in wars for their profit.

    And the feedback from Vietnam took how many years to end the war? How many dead Americans? (dead Vietnamese too, yes but I'm talking about the war being ended out of self-interest and it's impact on Americans, or rather that NOT actually happening historically, or at least not until it had gone on forever).

    You want to give our unaccountable rulers in an ever more unaccountable government more power to send us to die (neo-liberals "go die" isn't nothing, compared to being made to die and kill). Hasn't Fast Track and the TPP at least shown us that there's no democracy in the White House, no democracy in the Senate. And as everyone knows there's no democracy in the Supreme Court. What's left that cares what the populous wants? Maybe the House if the stars perfectly align.

    If you want to make policy makers responsible for their wars, why not just send them and their children to die in them? They are rarely influenced by us anyway.

    jrs May 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    It's sometimes as if we hardly need our rulers to stuff horrible nonsense down our throats (and they do of course), when sections of the population beg for it themselves. Few in power have argued for a draft lately (thank heavens for small mercies, maybe a draft is buried in the TPP text for all we'd know!). Well then we better do so. "Please, please, oh wise ruling class you haven't done enough until you make my children die for you. Just as long as you promise it will be equal, and everyone will have an equal chance of dying, including your children, it will be equal right …. right?"

    A draft over my dead body. There aren't enough horrors in the world to worry about. I mean I understand wanting some kind of accountability if they read about another wedding being bombed, another kid having his legs blown off or being made into pink mist by the U.S. empire. But a draft of the powerless (the 99s) is questionable as a solution to that, but is certain to ruin THEIR lives. People who come back from these stupid wars are killing themselves right and left from the trauma already.

    JTMcPhee May 15, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Our imperial military has no use for a draft. That just means more unreliable Troops that might , as they've done before, mutiny or decline to obey orders. I'm waiting for still newer versions of the Soldier's Oath, that omit that stuff about supporting and defending the Constitution. The part about obeying LAWFUL orders is fading out, and drones and autonomous battle robots and UAVs and boats and sub's and missiles (and mercenaries, for wet work in meatspace, are just so much more reliable, from the Brass Hat's perspective. Too tired to look stuff up tonight, but a whole lot of planning is going into getting rid of GIs with their long term costs and problems.

    So you need not fear having to become a dead body to resist a massive conscription… The Thing this post describes is a stage IV metastatic malignancy. Now we can all go back to our "Call of Duty" and
    Blow some heads off, or a quick round of "Game of War" where you have a chance to " build an Empire that will Last Forever!!" A little different theme than "Sim City," right?

    tim s May 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Edit. Meant as a reply to Henry

    The people in the USA are a little more diverse than that. Many do not harbor such grand feelings about the military. Recall how many were opposed to actions in Syria, Iran, Ukraine. Back in 1990, there was some hoo-rah, but that was largely propaganga based. Many, like the author, were simply confused by Desert Storm. Of course, the light show streamed on TV made those predisposed to being led around by their noses fell all warm and fuzzy, so there was that support to show. That was also a time where the "markets" were just about to lift off and escape from reality, so there was so much $$$ for people to swim in that there was not any pain from these skirmishes, so they didn't give it a 2nd thought. Without thinking, there is only the flashing screens, which do seem to be used by TPTB at every opportunity to mold the thoughts of the masses. At every point in our progression to this point, there was no shortage of Hollywood / propaganda. This is predictable, however. I believe it was Goebbels that said that it works the same in all times and places, and I'm sure that this is correct. I recall reading that a large percentage of the Germans & the Japanese had no idea of the reality of their situation during or even near the end of WW2.

    As pervasive as the propaganda is, the USA has such a wide variety of people that they are trying to herd cats, with about as much success as expected. The main thing to remember is that all that is happening militarily is not in support of the USA, but rather of the moneyed interests, which are not actually contained within the borders of the USA, and is is many ways counter to the interests of the people in that country.

    There are many contributors to our political campaigns who are not US citizens. Even our super-rich consider themselves to be of a super-national class rather than US citizens. All of this is not about the USA. Our remaining political system still has some of the pesky remnants of a democracy, so there is some need to win us over to keep the charade going. We see that this is not going so well (i.e. TPP).

    Still, I'm sure that the MIC gets funding (official and unofficial) regardless of what the people think, just as the TBTF banks get what the need as far as trillions in credit/bailouts, simply because this structure maintains the status of the moneyed interests, which are again super-national. Of course, there are factions within these moneyed interests that would fight each other to the death given the logical progression of events.

    Like you, I hope that there is much more wakening. People right now are in that phase of just coming out of sleep, and many are completely confused and disoriented. What a mess. Such is life.

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Our super-rich are American-citizen patriots who support military spending, and at the same time, super-nationals with global profit outlook.

    They are a long way from the provincial "we speak only one language" American middle class of the 50's. They are fully aware of the global consequences of printing money (hot money in and out, but more significantly, as shown in this article – mutant military) here.

    They know there is only one exceptional country that needs never to take out foreign currency loans.

    They know there is only one exceptional country that can print fiat money as much as it wants and the rest of the world will share her burden (unlike say, Ukraine who can print as much as she likes, but no one other country will participate in economic-pain-sharing with her).

    tim s May 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Per the Merriam–Webster dictionary : Patriotism – : having or showing great love and support for your country

    Show me one way our super rich prove this love and support.

    All I see is self-love and love of power. Support? How is hiding wealth in offshore accounts and shell companies supportive of their country? Show me the ranks of these rich that have volunteered for military service.

    sam s smith May 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Prince, the head of Black Water was Navy SEAL.

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    My fault.

    Should have put quotation marks around 'patriots.'

    Crazy Horse May 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    You commentators have it all wrong. After all, what would the Land of the Free be without its most viable industry, the manufacture and distribution of weapons of death?

    Conventional manufacturing and all the jobs it once generated have been off-shored to whatever country comes closest to pure slave labor. Farming has been subsumed into a form of industrial sharecropping , with the chief beneficiary being companies like Monsanto that control the genetic structure of the crops and banksters that supply credit to purchase the chemicals and machinery that are the primary inputs into what was once called farming.

    The largest volume of "productive" activity in the country is in "finance" which has exactly the same contribution to the welfare of the nation as a vampire has to that of its' host.

    Liberals wring their hands because of what they see as the shortcomings of President Obama, ignoring his contribution to the welfare of the country.

    Under his leadership the US share of international arms trade has grown from a mere 60% to over 80%. Thank god we have at least one industry that still leads the world.

    Sluggeaux May 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    One word: Corruption

    Congress allocates the funds. The Presidency and the Congress use the "military" as the definitive self-licking ice cream cone, channeling these vast and wasteful appropriations of fiat money to their cronies, while claiming to be anti-Big Government (it was former Nixon-strategist Mevin Phillips who pegged the Bush dynasty as nothing but a snarling hyena-pack of war-profiteers).

    Our Fearless Leader, congress-critters, and their cronies will find the rise of unaccountable surveillance and assassination described above to be a convenient resource when the masses who have been out-sourced by globalization continue with ever-larger Katrina/Ferguson/Baltimore-style uprisings. Just watch.

    I will, but hopefully from a "resilient" sideline…

    VietnamVet May 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I agree with the points of this post. It just does not bring them to a logical conclusion.

    Without the draft and tax on the wealthy, none of the wars that America is fighting from Ukraine to Somalia will be won. Simply stated, these privatized conflicts are a means to extract the remaining wealth from Americans until they are so burdened with debt that infrastructure and government collapses.

    North America will be borderless fiefdoms separated by language and cartel enforcers; that is if mankind avoids nuclear war, plagues, or a climate collapse.

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    OK, my third comment, this subject is very close to my heart.

    Everyone uses an outdated lens when looking at war today, the old paradigm had nations seeking to acquire territory, resources, factories, the "spoils of war". But today *war making itself* IS the treasure: no reason to try to capture and hold territory or resources, the mere act of making a new war pumps dollars to the corporate and government elites.

    We waste endless ink trying to parse the strategic implications of this or that conflict, who is in it, and what they could gain. That's meaningless today: just go start punching someone, anyone. This explains America's flailing around the globe, desperate to find a new enemy at every turn. The Cold War ending was a giant blow to these forces, the GWOT worked well for a while but is getting stale, hence the glee at demonizing Russia.

    In between we punch Libya, try to punch Syria, get all bloodthirsty about Iran…I mean it's just so obvious. None of these have to have any glimmer of rationale about being in our "strategic interest", when KFC gets multi-million $ no-bid contracts to set up shop behind the trenches, you know the fix is in.

    OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I generally agree, but I think that there is another dimension: exerting stronger control over the population as its standard of living declines ever more. The War on Terra ushered in the legalization of the tools for control: domestic surveillance, the militarization of police, the creation of the fusion centers, etc. Of course that's good for bidness, so we really have a twofer. So for all the justified criticisms toward the author's belief that we actually had a democracy, he is correct that whatever crapp and imperfect illusion of freedom there was is taken away gradually.

    jrs May 15, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    The MIC gets rich, but there's really no other purpose?

    No oil, no pipelines, no minerals, no petrodollar, no markets to neoliberalize and conquer, noone to overthrow who is not going along, no strategic military bases to establish?

    OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    I dunno, if Iraq was about the oil, then why didn't we get any? The Chinese did. And I'm not sure how we neo-liberalize markets with the military…threaten we will invade?

    I know Hilary threatened Sweden with reduced cooperation/funds if they didn't lighten up on Monsanto…pretty sure she didn't say we would invade though.

    And as far as installing our own bad guys, maybe it's the one-two punch: green helicopters to get rid of the previous guy, then the rep from the IMF shows up for the Economic Hitman routine.

    OIFVet May 16, 2015 at 12:16 am

    And I'm not sure how we neo-liberalize markets with the military

    Through NATO's military umbrella, NATO being the PC name for the US military occupation of the "allies". When dependent on the US for defense from the "enemies" we spend so much time and treasure to cultivate, we ensure our native compradors' loyalty and also their protection from the natives in case they get restless and dissatisfied. Full spectrum dominance, baby!

    Nick May 15, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    This column is quite lopsided. Iraq is over, the US is not invading Yemen, there may yet be a nuclear deal signed with Iran, and Russia is contained (for the moment) in Ukraine. The 21st Century is all about Asia and China…and the US pivot to Asia continues.

    OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    The US provides target intelligence to the Saudis, so it is a proxy war. And how, pray tell, is Russia contained in Ukraine? The events of the past coupe of days point to the beginning of Western retreat from Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, Russia and China went to great length to project an image of cooperation, with the leadership inseparable during the Victory Day parade and Chinese formations marching on the Red Square (with Russian formations set to return the courtesy in August's celebrations of the end of WW2 in Beijing).

    Which shows that the pursuit of the pivot to Asia will only gobble ever increasing amounts…

    frosty zoom May 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    turn off your t.v.!

    Jeremy Grimm May 16, 2015 at 1:37 am

    A lot of the points made in this post are a little dated. Some sound like the author drank too much of the KoolAid passed around at the time and it's finally wearing off. Just touching on one:

    "The U.S. Army? Still configured to fight large-scale, conventional battles, a surplus of M-1 Abrams tanks sitting in mothballs just in case they're needed to plug the Fulda Gap in Germany against a raging Red Army."

    Around the end of Poppy Bush's [Mr. CIA and Mr. Shadow Iran Contra Man] Iraq war, the US Army was organized around Corps or Division size force structures best suited for a large scale war. However, following Desert Storm, many of the planners and theorists were re-thinking these basic structures as well as the larger strategy for structuring the world-wide Army forces. "Modular Army", "Army Modernization" grew into large scale efforts to re-structure and re-equip the Army forces.

    These efforts coincided with changes to the Army mission. I didn't follow this process and its history well enough to trace its history — but today's Army is organized around modular brigade structures similar to the kinds of smaller force structure the Marine Corps have used for years to enable quick deployment of smaller self-contained forces — "expeditionary" forces. [If you're interested, I believe the Army's Mission Statements and Planning documents are available to the public so you could trace the evolution in thinking if you wanted, but first better make several large urns of coffee.]

    I don't know about the hordes of mothballed Abrams, but I believe they exist. What impressed me were the large numbers of Humvees issued to units and replaced in theater with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles using some specially created paperwork and paid for using the unit's discretionary funds. The armor on the initial versions of the Humvees was too thin. "Up-Armor" Humvees replaced Humvees and in turn were replaced with MRAP vehicles as it became evident the Up-Armor Humvees were too vulnerable to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The force structure designs still allocated Humvees the last I was involved with that work. As far as I know many of these expensive vehicles ended up in storage. For a while they were considered temporary bridges to the future force built around the Future Combat Systems (FCS), a multi-billion dollar boondoggle which I suspect still haunts the Army higher command when they struggle for DoD dollars today. Bottom line is that a lot of waste very profitable to the large defense contractors who paid for the Bush trademark, was created during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    But this colossal waste isn't evidence that the Army is still organized to fight a major ground war with Russia. It is good evidence that mistakes were made and saving face is more important than saving tax-payer money, and besides none of the big Defense contractors complained.

    OIFVet May 16, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Pretty much spot on the reorganization of the Army. It began about 2001 with the introduction of the Stryker and accelerated in earnest after we went after Saddam. Remember, during the initial invasion it still was divisions (though stripped down) who did the deed. M1A2s are still being procured, matter of fact, even though there are already a ton of these dinosaurs around. What's more, the development of M1A3s is set to start in two to three years. General Dynamics has to pay the shareholders, don't you know…

    Humvees: awesome dune buggies just as long as no one is shooting at you with RPGs or setting off IEDs. The Iraqi rascals even had a sense of humor: I've personally seen IED locations marked with red, white, and blue ribbons to help the triggerman time his blast perfectly. Forget light armor, most humvees had none initially. It was either a stamped metal doors for the combat arms or plastic on tube frame for combat support. A few up-armored humvees here and there. When we deployed in the end of 2003, my unit had no armor of any kind on our humvees. The production of up-armored humvees was just ramping up Stateside, meanwhile combat arms were receiving completely inadequate bolt-on armor kits. Support units were receiving none, even though this was a war with no rear where every unit could become frontline in a heartbeat. The more enterprising of them would get their hands on scrap armor and torches and fashion themselves a Mad Max version of humvees and 5-ton gun trucks. It was mostly worthless protection but it did provide a bit of psychological boost to soldiers. Not much urgency to actually provide proper protection until that dude went of on Rummy in Camp Udairi in Kuwait and people in the States could support our troops not only with yellow ribbon magnets but also by demanding that more money be spent of the war machine. Because the concept of bringing the troops home and not being in constant wars is just unthinkable for the modern American consumer….

    [May 16, 2015]The Making of Hillary Clinton " CounterPunch Tells the Facts, Names the Names

    First in a three-part series.

    Hillary Clinton has always been an old-style Midwestern Republican in the Illinois style; one severely infected with Methodism, unlike the more populist variants from Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

    Her first known political enterprise was in the 1960 presidential election, the squeaker where the state of Illinois notoriously put Kennedy over the top, courtesy of Mayor Daley, Sam Giancana and Judith Exner. Hillary was a Nixon supporter. She took it on herself to probe allegations of vote fraud. From the leafy middle-class suburbs of Chicago's west side, she journeyed to the tenements of the south side, a voter list in her hand. She went to an address recorded as the domicile of hundreds of Democratic voters and duly found an empty lot. She rushed back to campaign headquarters, agog with her discovery, only to be told that Nixon was throwing in the towel.

    The way Hillary Clinton tells it in her Living History (an autobiography convincingly demolished by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta in their Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, an interesting and well researched account ) she went straight from the Nixon camp to the cause of Martin Luther King Jr., and never swerved from that commitment. Not so. Like many Illinois Republicans, she did have a fascination for the Civil Rights movement and spent some time on the south side, mainly in African Methodist churches under the guidance of Don Jones, a teacher at her high school. It was Jones who took her to hear King speak at Chicago's Orchestra Hall and later introduced her to the Civil Rights leader.

    Gerth and Van Natta eschew psychological theorizing, but it seems clear that the dominant influence in Hillary life was her father, a fairly successful, albeit tightwad Welsh draper, supplying Hilton hotels and other chains. From this irritable patriarch Hillary kept secret ­ a marked penchant throughout her life ­ her outings with Jones and her encounter with King. Her public persona was that of a Goldwater Girl. She battled for Goldwater through the 1964 debacle and arrived at Wellesley in the fall of 1965 with enough Goldwaterite ambition to become president of the Young Republicans as a freshman.

    The setting of Hillary's political compass came in the late Sixties. The fraught year of 1968 saw the Goldwater girl getting a high-level internship in the House Republican Conference with Gerald Ford and Melvin Laird, without an ounce of the Goldwater libertarian pizzazz. Hillary says the assassinations of King and Robert Kennedy, plus the war in Vietnam, hit her hard. The impact was not of the intensity that prompted many of her generation to become radicals. She left the suburb of Park Ridge and rushed to Miami to the Republican Convention where she fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting Frank Sinatra and John Wayne and devoted her energies to saving the Party from her former icon, Nixon, by working for Nelson Rockefeller.

    Nixon triumphed, and Hillary returned to Chicago in time for the Democratic Convention where she paid an afternoon's visit to Grant Park. By now a proclaimed supporter of Gene McCarthy, she was appalled, not by the spectacle of McCarthy's young supporters being beaten senseless by Daley's cops, but by the protesters' tactics, which she concluded were not viable. Like her future husband, Hillary was always concerned with maintaining viability within the system.

    After the convention Hillary embarked on her yearlong senior thesis, on the topic of the Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky. She has successfully persuaded Wellesley to keep this under lock and key, but Gerth and Van Natta got hold of a copy. So far from being an exaltation of radical organizing, Hillary's assessment of Alinsky was hostile, charging him with excessive radicalism. Her preferential option was to
    KillingTrayvons1seek minor advances within the terms of the system. She did not share these conclusions with Alinsky who had given her generous access during the preparation of her thesis and a job offer thereafter, which she declined.

    What first set Hillary in the national spotlight was her commencement address at Wellesley, the first time any student had been given this opportunity. Dean Acheson's granddaughter insisted to the president of Wellesley that youth be given its say, and the president picked Hillary as youth's tribune. Her somewhat incoherent speech included some flicks at the official commencement speaker, Senator Edward Brooke, the black Massachusetts senator, for failing to mention the Civil Rights movement or the war. Wellesley's president, still fuming at this discourtesy, saw Hillary skinny-dipping in Lake Waban that evening and told a security guard to steal her clothes.

    The militant summer of 1969 saw Hillary cleaning fish in Valdez, Alaska, and in the fall she was at Yale being stalked by Bill Clinton in the library. The first real anti-war protests at Yale came with the shooting of the students at Kent State. Hillary saw the ensuing national student upheaval as, once again, a culpable failure to work within the system. "I advocated engagement, not disruption."

    She finally consented to go on a date with Bill Clinton, and they agreed to visit a Rothko exhibit at the Yale art gallery. At the time of their scheduled rendez-vous with art, the gallery was closed because the museum's workers were on strike. The two had no inhibitions about crossing a picket line. Bill worked as a scab in the museum, doing janitorial work for the morning, getting as reward a free tour with Hillary in the afternoon.

    In the meantime, Hillary was forging long-term alliances with such future stars of the Clinton age as Marian Wright Edelman and her husband Peter, and also with one of the prime political fixers of the Nineties, Vernon Jordan. It was Hillary who introduced Bill to these people, as well as to Senator Fritz Mondale and his staffers.

    If any one person gave Hillary her start in liberal Democratic politics, it was Marian Wright Edelman who took Hillary with her when she started the Children's Defense Fund. The two were inseparable for the next twenty-five years. In her autobiography, published in 2003, Hillary lists the 400 people who have most influenced her. Marion Wright Edelman doesn't make the cut. Neither to forget nor to forgive. Peter Edelman was one of three Clinton appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services who quit when Clinton signed the Welfare reform bill, which was about as far from any "defense" of children as one could possibly imagine.

    Hillary was on Mondale's staff for the summer of '71, investigating worker abuses in the sugarcane plantations of southern Florida, as close to slavery as anywhere in the U.S.A. Life's ironies: Hillary raised not a cheep of protest when one of the prime plantation families, the Fanjuls, called in their chips (laid down in the form of big campaign contributions to Clinton) and insisted that Clinton tell Vice President Gore to abandon his calls for the Everglades to be restored, thus taking water Fanjul was appropriating for his operation.

    From 1971 on, Bill and Hillary were a political couple. In 1972, they went down to Texas and spent some months working for the McGovern campaign, swiftly becoming disillusioned with what they regarded as an exercise in futile ultraliberalism. They planned to rescue the Democratic Party from this fate by the strategy they have followed ever since: the pro-corporate, hawkish neoliberal recipes that have become institutionalized in the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were founding members.

    In 1973, Bill and Hillary went off on a European vacation, during which they laid out their 20-year project designed to culminate with Bill's election as president. Inflamed with this vision, Bill proposed marriage in front of Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District. Hillary declined, the first of twelve similar refusals over the next year. Bill went off to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to seek political office. Hillary, for whom Arkansas remained an unappetizing prospect, eagerly accepted, in December '73, majority counsel John Doar's invitation to work for the House committee preparing the impeachment of Richard Nixon. She spent the next months listening to Nixon's tapes. Her main assignment was to prepare an organizational chart of the Nixon White House. It bore an eerie resemblance to the twilit labyrinth of the Clinton White House 18 years later.

    Hillary had an offer to become the in-house counsel of the Children's Defense Fund and seemed set to become a high-flying public interest Washington lawyer. There was one impediment. She failed the D.C. bar exam. She passed the Arkansas bar exam. In August of 1974, she finally moved to Little Rock and married Bill in 1975 at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Vic Nixon. They honeymooned in Acapulco with her entire family, including her two brothers' girlfriends, all staying in the same suite.

    After Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1976, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm, the first woman partner in an outfit almost as old as the Republic. It was all corporate business, and the firm's prime clients were the state's business heavyweights ­ Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Jackson Stevens Investments, Worthen Bank and the timber company Weyerhaeuser, the state's largest landowner.

    Two early cases (of a total of five that Hillary actually tried) charted her course. The first concerned the successful effort of Acorn ­ a public interest group doing community organizing ­ to force the utilities to lower electric rates on residential consumers and raise on industrial users. Hillary represented the utilities in a challenge to this progressive law, the classic right-wing claim, arguing that the measure represented an unconstitutional "taking" of property rights. She carried the day for the utilities.

    The second case found Hillary representing the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company. In earlier years, Hillary had worked at the Children's Defense Fund on behalf of abused employees and disabled children. Only months earlier, while still a member of the Washington, D.C., public interest community, she had publicly ripped Joseph Califano for becoming the Coca Cola company's public counsel. "You sold us out, you, you sold us out!" she screamed publicly at Califano. Working now for Coca Cola, Hillary prevailed

    [May 12, 2015] Kerry set to meet Putin in first visit to Russia since start of Ukraine crisis

    The problem that West and first of all the USA and Germany face now is that Ukraine is another Greece. To keep it afloat financially requires tremendous and continues investment. 40 billions from IMF is only a start. Economic ties with Russia are destroyed. And without tens of billions of annual aid that means death sentence. Allowing it to fail with shake Western financial system and we do not know how many derivatives were written on Ukrainian debt and who holds them.
    .
    Looks like MentalToo was on duty for this article with support of usual gang. There was even some backlash against "Hillary bots", specifically against alphamysh.
    May 12, 2015 | The Guardian

    Beckow -> StrategicVoice213 11 May 2015 22:26

    By paying a price I clearly meant the very expensive support for Ukraine that EU has to provide, about 40 billion so far. The Ukraine's economy is down about 14% from just three years ago - this is going to get very, very expensive.

    If you want to compare Russia's and EU's losses due to sanctions, they have been very substantial for both. EU has so far lost about 10 billion in exports and in the long run it is not clear who will end up losing more. Russia's GNP will drop by 3% after years of high growth (more than double in 10 years). EU has been largely stagnant and many countries there are still below where they were in '09 (Italy, Spain, ...).

    Finally, militarily all that matters is who has local superiority. Russia has it in eastern Ukraine. You can squirm, hallucinate, cry all you want, there is no f...ing way that Nato can defeat Russia there.

    They know it, thus the coming deal.

    Dannycraig007 -> MentalToo 11 May 2015 21:34

    You would prefer I use the corrupt and obviously biased mainstream Western media as sources I assume, rather than first person video accounts from the victims themselves? Award winning war correspondent and Guardian journalist John Pilger has a few words for you. http://www.discussionist.com/101459708 This is a must watch video about how the Western media operate from a man who was once a part of the establishment here at the Guardian.

    Standupwoman -> Captain_Underpants 11 May 2015 17:08

    Yep. I think my own Pollyanna moment is already beginning to seep away.

    But the stakes are so high! NATO's revival of the 'hotline' has unilaterally put us back on a Cold War footing, and at a time when the Doomsday clock is already set at 3 minutes to midnight. Putin has shown incredible restraint so far, but if the provocations don't stop then I'm genuinely worried about what might happen.

    Bosula -> samanthajsutton 11 May 2015 20:43

    Neither side is very open about what support it provides.

    Russia says openly it doesn't stop volunteers from Russia, often family, cross the border to fight with the East Ukrainians. They are also probably supplying weapons, but we don't really know. And no Russian troops have been captured despite the huge battles. To capture a Russian soldier in a fighting zone would be worth gold in terms of PR value.

    The Eastern Ukrainian are having difficulties training all their volunteers (just too many) with a million refugees, many based in camps in Russia, providing a fertile source of volunteers. The West provides no humanitarian help - a short sighted strategic decision, maybe?

    The US and their allies are also pretty secret about what support they provide - best estimates are around 1,500 advisers, trainers - and 'volunteers' fighting alongside privately funded far right militias and the Ukrainian army.

    The US are not really in a position to take the self- righteous moral high ground in a civil war tens of thousands of kilometres from their home.

    nnedjo -> MentalToo 11 May 2015 20:17

    What little influence US has on events in Ukraine is irrelevant.

    Because of this "little influence" the whole Ukrainian government has become irrelevant. You know, the fact that you do not see the strings that move their limbs does not mean that they are not puppets on the strings. And that guys from Washington hold the ends of the strings, that's probably clear to everyone after the cookies of Victoria Nuland. Or Toria, as poster Dipset called her.:-)))

    Funny guy that Dipset, wonder why he is not here yet.

    Standupwoman 11 May 2015 20:09

    'Although the 300 US trainers are operating in the west of the country'

    Are we really sure of this? Yes, Kiev has predictably denied Russian claims that American troops have been spotted in the Donbass, but the odd thing is that several pro-Kiev supporters have uploaded this footage of American training under the following description:

    In Severodonetsk, Luhansk region instructors from Georgia, Israel and the US carried out military exercises with the soldiers of the special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

    Luhansk is in the ATO region - and Severodonetsk is very, very near to the front line.

    geedeesee -> MentalToo 11 May 2015 20:05

    Irrelevant ...?

    Just the CIA advisers, military trainers, $billions of dollars, political cover, a propaganda machine.

    geedeesee -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:59

    Not proper interviews, are they? Just clips of sentences without knowing the question that is being answered. They wrap narrative around the comment. Not one of those nine soldiers admits to fighting in Ukraine, and the claim of written evidence from NGOs is negated towards the end of the article with the caveat that 'Ukraine' wasn't actually mentioned in the NGO's documentary evidence.

    You're easily duped by propaganda.

    Standupwoman -> ID5868758 11 May 2015 19:50

    Understood. If governments had to actually fight the wars they started, the world would be a very different place...


    Dannycraig007 -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:35

    If your still doubtful about what the Kiev regime do to people who post unflattering information online, I present to you them demonstrating firsthand what happens when people step out of line. Graphic warning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXnNDbJ7r0k&feature=youtu.be

    geedeesee -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:31

    "What about the guys in military uniforms with weapons, mortars, mines, grenades, anti-tank weapons..."

    What about them? They're defending themselves - the self-defence activists - after the Kiev regime sent tanks and aircraft to attack the protesters in what they called an Anti-Terror Operation as this example shows (see all four videos)..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27035196


    Dannycraig007 -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:30

    Your question answers itself, in that the Kiev Regime have been tracking down people who post videos on the internet and in social media that criticize the regime, hence the lack of video out of Slavyansk now.

    Watch this Ukrainian parliamentarian call for the genocide of Ukrainians of ethnic Russian origin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNQ2CVz2Cyk

    Of course, there's also this tidbit from last summer.

    http://slavyangrad.org/2014/08/14/residents-of-slavyansk-have-disappeared-the-town-is-being-re-populated-with-migrants-from-western-ukraine/

    The Residents of Slavyansk have disappeared; the town is being re-populated with migrants from Western Ukraine.
    POSTED BY S. NAYLOR ⋅ AUGUST 14, 2014 ⋅ 27 COMMENTS
    In Slavyansk, occupied by Ukrainian troops, the local residents have practically disappeared. The town is being inundated with migrants speaking in a foreign dialect, who take over the housing of those who left to escape the Ukrainian bombing campaign.

    This is reported by one of very few residents of Slavyansk who, trusting Ukrainian official propaganda, made the decision to return to his native city. The picture that he saw is terrifying. He realized that the information about residents of Slavyansk returning home is nothing but a vile lie.

    "Please, heed our plea! The people have disappeared from Slavyansk!

    "I am a native of Slavyansk, residing here already for twenty-seven years. Or better to say 'I was residing', having left the town three months ago, when it was becoming dangerous to stay. During this time I found refuge with relatives in Odessa. I made a decision to return when all the Ukrainian media started saying that everything in Slavyansk was back to normal, that over sixty percent of residents have come back.

    "In the three months of my absence my apartment remained untouched by shells from the junta's bombardment or by its marauding thugs. I had already started to unpack when I heard the sound of my neighbour's doors opening across the hallway. I thought it must have been my neighbour, Sergey Ivanovich, but then I saw a young man unknown to me. To my question about his identity he replied that he was Sergey Ivanovich's son.


    geedeesee -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:27

    Here's an example:

    Slaviansk: 10 self-defense activists and some 30 unarmed civilians killed

    http://rt.com/news/156584-right-sector-deaths-ukraine/

    Notice in the video some places look pretty deserted.


    nnedjo -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:25

    ... in Slavyansk since it was liberated by Ukrainian forces...
    You mean, liberated like Odessa:
    Occupation of Russian Hero-City Odessa 2014-2015 | Eng Subs
    ,or liberated like Kharkiv
    Kharkiv Welcomes May: Army Patrols, BTRs, Machine guns, etc

    And, speaking of Slavyansk , it is also interesting. In "liberated" Slavyansk it seems that nobody believes "liberators".

    Slavyansk residents trust Putin and not Poroshenko - Ukraine Hromadske TV March 2015


    Bosula -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:10

    Can you tell us how many people have been killed in Slayvansk?

    Dannycraig007 -> mlubiank 11 May 2015 19:06

    Here's another video for you that proves the Kiev regime are Nazis as it shows them marching through Kiev in uniform holding the Waffen SS Wolfsangel flag and was filmed by Poroshenkos very own Chanel 5 TV outlet.

    The rest of the hour and a half long video is a bloodbath showing them killing hundreds of innocent civilians. Get back to me after you've cleaned your conscience.

    Ukraine Crisis: Death and destruction continues in Eastern Ukraine / [ENG SUB]
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b10_1417842060#e1hSYTkJlw3TQgXs.99


    mlubiank -> ID5868758 11 May 2015 19:06

    Is Reuters good enough for you or is that all lies?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/10/us-ukraine-crisis-soldiers-specialreport-idUSKBN0NV06Q20150510


    Dannycraig007 11 May 2015 18:57

    Investors, such as Franklin Templeton and George Soros' Foundation, who planned to make blood money and placed their bets off of the inside information right before the coup back in November 2013, have a combined $7 billion at stake in Ukraine.

    The IMF is trying to convince them to take a haircut on the massive amount and get put on the back burner for the time being, but Russia put it's $3 billion loan in strict terms back in 2012 and has payback priority.

    Those human flesh eating Western sharks want their money. This makes those 1%ers and their IMF vassals very upset as they didn't actually expect to lose money......they thought they were gonna double their billions with the rape of Ukraine. Now it's hard earned.


    Standupwoman ID5868758 11 May 2015 18:41

    I completely understand that. It's a very sensitive subject, and must be far more so for those with personal experience.

    Part of the problem is the difference between what we knew then and what we know now. At the time, as you say, we all thought My-Lai was a 'one-off' by a few bad apples, but now so much material has been declassified a very different picture has emerged.

    BUT there's still a world of difference between 'a lot' and 'all', and we must never allow those war crimes to taint the reputation of the good soldiers, or to belittle what they endured. It is indeed wrong to apply excessively broad brush-strokes, and I want to apologize to you personally, because I think in my post I was guilty of doing just that.


    SoloLoMejor -> geedeesee 11 May 2015 18:40

    Yep all good points and there's definitely some push back from Merkel and Hollande. I just don't think the US can relinquish control of our military or monetary systems as would happen if Europe developed independently and naturally became close to European Russia. This is a superpower making sure that it stays a superpower. That said, this is Europe & Russia, not the under developed middle East so they may not get it all their own way but 6000 lives so far is tolerable collateral damage for them


    Beckow -> Alderbaran 11 May 2015 18:37

    There are 1,000 American, British, Polish and Canadian troops in Ukraine. Officially. Plus endless civilian advisors, agents, private security companies, etc...

    Maybe Russians have more people there, but it is after all on their border.

    "given control of Ukraine's border back to Ukraine, in contravention of the Minsk II agreement"

    No. The Minsk II specifically says that the border will be returned to Kiev control AFTER the Donbass area gets autonomy. Where is the "autonomy"? You can't cherry-pick from an agreement.

    If Nato steps over the line in Ukraine, as they are about to do, the nuclear option will be on the table. It is absolutely horrible, but that's where we are heading. Try to get your head out of your behind to understand what is going on there - it is playing with a huge fire on the border of a nuclear power that said they will not allow Nato missiles 400 km from Moscow. You want to test them?


    nnedjo -> Tattyana 11 May 2015 18:32

    I believe there is no need in any meetings for any further escalation as well.
    That's right, Tattyana, that's exactly what I said. My only criticism was related to Miss Marie Harf, who apparently recited a prepared statement, which aims only to reduce the importance of the visit of John Kerry to Russia.
    By the way, a true pleasure for me is to watch the exchange of opinions between US spokeswoman Marie Harf and her favorite "reporter", Matt Lee, at the State Department press conferences.
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Marie+Harf+Matt+Lee

    Standupwoman -> geedeesee 11 May 2015 18:23

    Yes, that all makes good sense - but I still think personal integrity can have an (admittedly tiny) role to play. Carter is a case in point.

    I'm even (don't laugh!) inclined to extend that to Obama. Yes, he's technically responsible for this mess, and he must have supported Nuland and Pyatt in the original coup, but I still think things would be very much worse if either Biden or HRC had been at the helm.

    Obama (like Putin) has hawks screaming at him for being weak, but the fact he's holding out suggests there's a little shred of integrity still there.

    It's not much, but it's all we've got. Sometimes it feels as if the whole world is screaming for war, and in the centre is this little patch of stillness where two men are holding firm against the madness. If anything happens to either Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin then I think we really are sunk.

    geedeesee -> SoloLoMejor 11 May 2015 18:22

    Yes, there clearly is a strategic plan being played out, though I don't think it has gone to plan for the Americans. The release of the Nuland/Hyatt phone call obviously came from Russian intelligence, which was an embarrassment for US. I suspect this is all a prelude to the coming clash for stakes in Arctic oil. There are a number of competing nations but US probably wants to minimise Russian access.

    However, there is a lot of strain within the EU at the moment, and we know the views of EU leaders were disregarded by Nuland last year ("Fvck the EU").

    It's possible the whole thing has gone far enough for EU leaders (see link below to comments identifying reasons) and they're pushing back on US behind the scenes to cool it down now.

    See the original post by Beckow and replies. Link direct to individual comment number:

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/11/john-kerry-meet-russian-foreign-minister-talks--ukraine-syria-yemen#comment-51974992


    nnedjo 11 May 2015 18:04

    Although the 300 US trainers are operating in the west of the country, well away from the conflict zone, Russia has questioned their purpose.

    So I do not see how it could be otherwise. Had the US sent their "trainers" in the conflict zone in the east of Ukraine, it is possible that in that case Russia would not complain at all.

    In that case, Russia would also send their "trainers" who would soon be found "in the west of the country [Ukraine], well away from the conflict zone".:-)))


    normankirk -> MaoChengJi 11 May 2015 18:04

    and the German gold still locked up in US vaults


    Popeyes 11 May 2015 17:53

    Once again on Saturday Putin completely outclassed the West, and the decision by Western leaders to stay away in the end showed their total irrelevance.

    Closer ties between China and Russia is Washington's worst nightmare, and a very different new World Order is emerging from the rubble of the post-Cold War period. Today Russia proposed that Greece become the 6th member of a new Development Bank set up by the BRINCS, and with some European leaders desperate to end sanctions things are not going as planned for the empire.


    Dannycraig007 -> Bradtweeters 11 May 2015 17:52

    Oh, I'm an 'authentic' Guardian reader alright. i'm on my 20th account after being constantly banned this past year for posting the truth about Ukraine. And when they bane me again I'll be right back. True Brits don't give up so easily.


    ID5868758 -> Dannycraig007 11 May 2015 17:51

    Well, it's printed in English only, given away free in places like the Metro and coffee houses, so it's not like it's the Russian equivalent of the New York Times, to begin with. My son says it's read mostly by ex-pats in Russia, tourists, that kind of audience, it's certainly not anything that Russians read on a regular basis.

    ID5868758 -> salthouse 11 May 2015 17:45

    Good grief, what fiction. Vladimir Putin's only problem is that he is not Boris Yeltsin, opening the door to the international banks and the multinational corporations to continue their rape of the assets and resources of the Russian people. He is slowly but surely returning Russia to Russians. Contrast that to Ukraine, going in the opposite direction, with the privatization of the assets and resources of the people just beginning, and the predators like Monsanto, Cargill, Chevron, banging at the gate.

    normankirk -> salthouse 11 May 2015 17:44

    Oh I know! its his nature! He can't help it! And vindictively, at home, he's raised the standard of living and life expectancy! the bastard, only a lunatic would do so.And when he walks among the people he's forcing them ... at gunpoint!.... to put on forced smiles you can tell by looking. he.s a maniac! getting Assad to give up his chemical stores! crazy!


    Kaiama -> BMWAlbert 11 May 2015 17:43

    There was some indication that the ships could not be sold without the explicit permission of the Russians - probably because they provided the middle part of the hull and if they were feeling bad have the right to ask for it to be cut out and given back to them.


    nnedjo 11 May 2015 17:42

    "This trip is part of our ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure US views are clearly conveyed," state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement.

    I do not see what it was unclear so far in the views of the State Department at the Ukrainian crisis. I mean, if John Kerry is going to Sochi to repeat the usual accusations against Russia, which US officials have said so far, then there's really no need for him to go to Russia only because of this, nor Putin is interested to hear it one more time.
    Thus, rather it will be some other reason behind this visit, about which we can now only guess. And none of us is so naive to believe that the Ukrainian crisis can be resolved without direct negotiations between the United States and Russia. So, either to make a deal, or to enter a further escalation of the military conflict.
    I am inclined to believe that the latter, less predictable solution, is not in anyone's interest.


    Kaiama -> Metronome151 11 May 2015 17:41

    Maybe, but if the US did cut Russia off of SWIFT for instance, the Russians have already said that they would regard it as a declaration of "war". The US might start it but the Russians will definitely finish it.


    MichaPalkin -> salthouse 11 May 2015 17:40

    It finally happened: A REAL nutjob.

    Now why don't you put your money where you mouth is, you pos and go join the fight against Putin yourself um?.. See? Told ya.


    geedeesee -> Standupwoman 11 May 2015 17:31

    On the glimmer of hope, I think you maybe right, though its early days. History books on 20th century show that when there's been a stand-off for sometime an intermediary, or unofficial envoy, is often sent to explore the basis for talks. And the history books also show confidence-building measures are used, such as making an announcement via the media acknowledging part of the grievance of the other side which can use for domestic purposes.

    This happened with the IRA talks, for example, both in 1970s and 1990s. Last week Jimmy Carter visited Putin in Moscow, not on its own remarkable, but what suggested this wasn't an initiative of his own volition was the interview he gave to Voice of America (official US Gov. channel) immediately after the meeting in Moscow - indicating they'd travelled with him.

    The narrative is for the press and the accompanying 45 second video of Carter saying all the right things for the Russians can be used by Russian TV/media in news reports.

    Narrative:
    http://www.voanews.com/content/carter-pleased-with-russia-embrace-of-minsk-agreement/2743389.html

    45 second Carter video:
    http://www.voanews.com/media/video/2743506.html

    You'll be disappointed if you look for integrity with the players at this level, because it doesn't exist. They have their plans and self-interests; integrity doesn't come into it.


    Dannycraig007 -> dmitryfrommoscow 11 May 2015 17:30

    The Moscow Times is actually operated out of Scandinavia and their readership has been dropping due to the obvious anti-Russian propaganda.


    ID5868758 -> Standupwoman 11 May 2015 17:27

    Well, My-Lai was, of course, just a horrific example of evil behavior on the part of a few of our troops, but Kerry came home and, without personal knowledge, painted the entire military with the same broad brush, made up stories, and just so disgraced himself with this nation that he would never have won a Senate seat if he had not run in Massachusetts.

    I still to this day cannot listen to him speak for more than a few minutes at a time, his betrayal of the men who were fighting and dying in the hellhole that was Vietnam will stay with me forever.


    dmitryfrommoscow -> Havingalavrov 11 May 2015 17:26

    The Moscow Times is one of those pro-Washington mouthpieces which, according to the claims by Putin's critics, have been ruthlessly wiped out of the scene.


    SoloLoMejor 11 May 2015 17:15

    I saw the Merkel Putin press conference in full. Merkel fully acknowledged and apologised for the horrors inflicted on the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany, and quite rightly.

    When asked specifically about what she still blamed Russia for with respect to Minsk she became a lot less clear and rambling and very non specific. I couldn't make out what her beef was although I really wanted to know.

    She's going to need some very clear reasons to reinstate EU sanctions on Russia and the phrase Shaun Walker regurgitates in virtually every piece he writes, "mounting evidence" of Russian involvement (but without producing any) won't be enough this time round.


    MichaPalkin -> alpamysh 11 May 2015 17:15

    l though I find your comments stupid, and what is absolutely amazing is that guests such as you have had zero effect on anything.

    Some fascist parties did once praise you and still do, ahem, "purely for the funding you was willing to give". Some grammar problems here eh.

    But this has had no effect on nothing, or the policy of the EU in general.

    One does not even see you loonies demonstrating in the street, shouting "hail" to Poro & Co."

    Poro's only real "western" base of support comes from RFE and probably Guardian. Even Americans begin having their reservations now.

    Period

    Indeed, we may well have all your clownish incompetence to thank for your highly unsuccessful trolling.

    OK, klopets?


    John Smith -> Alderbaran 11 May 2015 17:06

    You can forget about Crimea.

    Nothing will come out from this talks because the US will not let off their 'great prize'
    as the NED head called it. Unfortunately for Ukrainians.

    ID5868758 -> Standupwoman 11 May 2015 16:31

    Standupwoman, I rarely disagree with you, but as an American who lived through Vietnam as the wife of a Marine Corps officer, and the sister of a brother in country as a cryptologist, may I just tell you that John Kerry's actions in front of Congress were not seen by most as heroic at all, not borne of courage and integrity, especially since he had spent only a very short time in country, and had awarded himself 2 or 3 purple hearts, but strangely enough, has no scars of those wounds remaining today. He lied, it was a performance that caused much of America to shun him even today, and that's the truth.

    Igor1980 -> GoodOldBoy1967 11 May 2015 16:29

    I am in Sochi now, a navy ship is patrolling the area of the Residence and many police cars can be seen. It is not surprising . I was surprised by the number of cars with Ukrainian license plates. The hosts say that many Ukrainian citizens moved to the area on the coast with their money.


    Standupwoman -> cabaret1993 11 May 2015 16:22

    I agree. If this were HRC rather than Kerry I'd think we were doomed. Do you remember her hilariously rabble-rousing claim that Putin had no soul - 'He's KGB, it's a given!' - and Putin's dry response? That woman ought never to have been allowed within a hundred miles of foreign affairs, and if she ever becomes President then it'll be time to start stocking up on the potassium iodide...


    Igor1980 -> Beckow 11 May 2015 16:12

    Great and sober analysis. The reality is harsh for both parties and very painful for the USA: the people in the West are not ready to die for the cause of the American dominance.

    It is easy to hate Putin, it is difficult to sacrifice your lives in a war to punish Russia for a little border change in the most unpleasant part of Eastern Europe.


    MaoChengJi -> DogsLivesMatter 11 May 2015 16:11

    state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement

    That's just standard bs. What do you expect them to say.


    Standupwoman 11 May 2015 16:06

    Maybe I'm having a Pollyanna moment, but I wonder if there isn't just the littlest, tiniest glimmer of hope in this. The fact the US is prepared to talk to Russia on its own ground is definitely a step in the right direction, and the fact it's John Kerry is even better.

    Because Kerry was once an honest man. Back in 1971 he testified to Congress about American war crimes in Vietnam, and showed the kind of courage and integrity it's almost impossible to mention in the same sentence as 'politician'. He talked openly about the everyday reality of rapes, torture, desecration of the dead, and killing civilians for fun – the American toolbox we're all familiar with in Afghanistan and Iraq, but which in 1971 was genuinely shocking news. Nationalists hated him, but I think he showed genuine American patriotism when he explained: 'We feel that because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it - not the Reds, not redcoats, but the crimes which we're committing are what threaten it – and we have to speak out.'

    OK, he's a politician now, and his words have frequently been used against him to show the hypocrisy of his support for America's current wars, but deep down he's still in some way the same man he was then. He and Lavrov certainly used to have a good relationship until he made that unbelievably stupid remark about Russians 'lying to his face'.

    That kind of populist rudeness plays well with the 'Murica, F*ck yeah!' mob, but grown-up countries tend to choose a calmer, more courteous approach when it comes to negotiations which could lead to the threat of nuclear war. Kerry will need to apologize for that (even if only in private) if he hopes to get in the same room as President Putin.

    But maybe he will. Maybe he'll even confound the words of that Psaki-Manqué Harf and actually listen as well as talk. If he does, and if there's any integrity left in him, then maybe, just maybe, there'll really be a chance of peace.


    PlatonKuzin -> oleteo 11 May 2015 16:03

    The Ukies think that the US and EU do them gifts for granted. And they were very suprised as they knew that, for example, in Poland, an organization named "Restitution of Kresy" was established that in the nearest future will expropriate, from Ukraine, the property belonging to the Poles.

    And more than 100,000 such Poles are now ready to start proceedings to return their property from there.


    Dannycraig007 -> PlatonKuzin 11 May 2015 15:57

    Agreed on the 50,000. I am just citing the US/MSM 'official' number. I have been keeping up with the real numbers also. Petri Krohn has done a great job establishing a proper count of the dead form various events and battles. The majority of those 50,000 dead are Ukrainian conscripts and Kievs Baghdad Bob intentionally played the numbers way down in order to not have to pay dead soldiers families and hide the truth of the war, which the US and EU media simply parroted with no investigation whatsoever. Here's a link to the numbers:

    http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Ukraine_war_casualties

    His site is an amazing geo-political resource. Lots of really interesting MH-17 material there too. http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Special:AllPages


    greatwhitehunter -> MentalToo 11 May 2015 15:55

    The US could have prevented all this by keeping there nose out of Ukraine . In the words of Obama we brokered the change of government in Ukraine.

    Now their are 6000 plus people dead . east of Ukraine destroyed, Crimea gone never to return.

    Only the US could imagine you could get away with this.\


    Beckow -> Alderbaran 11 May 2015 15:54

    Hmmm...don't fool yourself, he meant the Maidan crowd in Kiev. The problem Kiev government has is that as economy gets worse, the large cities like Kharkov, Odessa, etc... will become ungovernable. Except through brute force.

    How do you "join EU" if you have to be suppressing large portion of your population? I am sure EU would love to look the other way, but the cognitive dissonance might get too much, with YouTube, refugees, etc...


    Captain_Underpants 11 May 2015 15:52

    Kerry will offer to swap Ukraine for Assad's head + no S300 missiles to Iran + sanction relief.

    Putin and Lavrov will tell Kerry to stick the offer where the sun don't shine and then it's back to square one.

    Obumbler won't be involved, he's too busy on the golf course, watching the NBA playoffs, and making hollow speeches filled with platitudes about race issues and police violence.

    Meanwhile back in the increasingly irrelevant Euroweenie land, the NSA-compromised Frau Merckel has a desk and a phone and will do as told by her masters

    Dannycraig007 -> DIPSET 11 May 2015 15:47

    I'd still like to see what those US spy satellites saw the day MH-17 was shot down. They first said they had proof Russia did it, then they went quiet, then they relied on social media BS, then they said they had a drunk Ukrainian that made a confession that the rebel put on Ukrainain uniforms, then they stayed quiet. All the while they had ships in the Black Sea monitoring that airspace and they had AWACS flying over Europe.

    They obviously know what really happened but they have chosen no to show that 'evidence'....there can only be one reason.......because it implicates the Kiev regime...and thereby....themselves.


    geedeesee -> MentalToo 11 May 2015 15:42

    "...the army of Ukraine is not at war with "protesters"."

    Yes they are, they called it an Anti-Terror Operation and not war against an army. The facts are against you. Hard luck. ;-)


    Dannycraig007 -> MaoChengJi 11 May 2015 15:40

    Many people have no idea that Merkels father was in the Hitler youth. Sad but true fact. Hence, maybe that partly explains her allegiance to Ukraine.

    Horst Kasner
    Biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst_Kasner
    Kasner was born as Horst Kaźmierczak in 1926, the son of a policeman in the Pankow suburb of Berlin, where he was brought up. His father Ludwig Kaźmierczak (born 1896 in Posen, German Empire) - died 1959 in Berlin) was born out of wedlock to Anna Kazmierczak and Ludwik Wojciechowski.[1] Ludwig was mobilised into the German army in 1915 and sent to France, where he was taken prisoner of war and joined the Polish Haller's Army fighting on the side of Entente.[2] Together with the army he returned to Poland to fight in Polish-Ukrainian war and Polish-Soviet war.[3] After Posen had become part of Poland, Ludwig moved with his wife in 1923 to Berlin, where he served as a policeman, and changed his family name to Kasner in 1930.

    Little is known about Horst Kasner's wartime service, and he was held as a prisoner of war at the age of 19. During his high school years he was a member of the Hitler Youth, with the last service position of a troop leader.[citation needed] From 1948 he studied theology, first in Heidelberg then in Hamburg. He married Herlind Jentzsch, an English and Latin teacher, born on 8 July 1928 in Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) as the daughter of Danzig politician Willi Jentzsch, and their daughter Angela was born in 1954.

    PlatonKuzin -> Kaiama 11 May 2015 15:38

    There is another side of this medal: Novorussia said that, if Ukraine violates the ceasefire one more time, the Army of Novorussia will make no stops any longer and will free Kiev.


    Beckow -> MichaPalkin 11 May 2015 15:35

    Threats are simply a part of making deals. When one threatens, there is an implicit understanding of what the alternatives are. It is how countries negotiate.

    Look at it from Russia's point of view: they prefer to deal with useless twats. Putin has been smart to keep all his threats, options and deals to himself. He speaks very diplomatically and applies pressure on the ground. There is a Russian saying: "let the punishment tell" - that's what Russia is doing and it drives the likes of Kerry crazy.

    Unless US escalates into a nuclear confrontation, Russia has the upper hand in the long run. That was obvious from the beginning. So the question is why did Peace Price Winner do this? Why did he start? Is he and people around him that stupid or that desperate? I hope, it is just stupidity.

    "Poro & Co would be applying for the political asylum in the US" - that's going to happen anyway, but I think Canada will take the bulk of them...


    Beckow -> Alderbaran 11 May 2015 15:24

    Let's be clear: Kerry is flying in with a proposal to review with Lavrov. If Russia accepts, Kerry will meet Putin. If not, we will know that sh..t is about to escalate - on both sides.

    Regarding "military involvement": both sides are heavily militarily involved with arms, training, "advisors" of all kinds, intelligence, logistics. And both sides downplay it ("lie", if you prefer). Why is that even an issue? Or "news"?

    It is infantile to discuss it. In a war there is always "military involvement". And this is a war, has been for about a year, this is the way wars are fought now (see Syria, Libya, etc...).

    And yes, of course Putin can change weather. Anyone with enough nukes can.


    BMWAlbert 11 May 2015 15:15

    Looks like India's participation in the Moscow parade is also paralleled by the cutting of 80% of the French fighter order (remembering that the govt. in New Delhi stated several months ago that its confidence in France as a supplier would be related to its vulnerability to political pressuring vis a vis the RU ships that will end-up being scrapped or bought by by a third party, and it might be that said party, if also participating in said parade, might sell in turn to RU for a 'cut'). IDK if this is related, big new orders from India for SU's:

    https://www.ibcworldnews.com/2015/04/20/why-the-brahmos-armed-sukhoi-is-bad-news-for-indias-enemies/

    These cannot be made in Russia, in any event, as Russia is entirely isolated.


    Dannycraig007 11 May 2015 15:09

    The US has really hurt itself with the WW2 remembrance ceremony snub. Russia won't be soon forgetting what the US has been doing in Ukraine and Europe either. After all the 7,000 people killed by the Kiev regime that came to power through the US backed coup were all ethnic Russian Ukrainian civilians. So many lives could have been saved if only the US would have allowed federalization of the obviously ethnically diverse regions of the country.

    For those that missed it, here's link to the amazing WW2 Red Square commemoration concert. It truly was a sight to behold.

    Absolutely Stunning! The Entire Russian "Road To Victory" Concert Spectacle -2015 Epic Masterpiece Rivals Olympic Ceremonies
    Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9c1_1431271822#esjFeSXyZqIlzoY8.99


    SonnyTuckson 11 May 2015 14:15

    Turn Ukraine into a federation. Of a rich pro western part that is member of the EU and a poor pro Russian part that is member of the Eurasian Union.

    In ten years time the East Ukrainians will have had enough of their Russian propaganda-ridden life without a decent standard of living. We will then have another Euromaidan, but this time in Donbass.

    History always discloses propaganda lies. In the end the people of Donbass will understand they have been used by Russia for its geopolitical games. And chose for a prosperous future in Europe as well.


    Beckow -> geedeesee 11 May 2015 14:14

    Yes, there are huge problems.

    But if US accepts a de facto defeat in Ukraine, they are done in many other places too. My guess is that they will try to weasel out of it by offering a deal to Russia:

    - US backs down, Kiev goes back in the box (over time), things quiet down, BUT no victory speeches or remarks by Russia. US has to be able to maintain that they "won".

    It is a disease for insecure people. They fear being seen as losers more than anything else. Thus we might still see the fire-works if Russia refuses to oblige.


    vr13vr 11 May 2015 14:09

    "Unfairly blaming Russia for the crisis in Ukraine, which was actually in the main provoked by the US itself, Obama's administration in 2014 went down the road of ruining bilateral links, announced a policy of 'isolating' our country on the international stage, and demanded support for its confrontational steps from the countries that traditionally follow Washington."

    Why does the press want us feel so amazed about this quote? What part of it isn't true?

    1. US did and does blame Russia for crisis in Ukraine.
    2. US did provoke the crisis.
    3. US did go down the road of ruining bilateral links.
    4. It did announced a policy of "isolation."
    5. And it did demand support for its steps from other countries in Europe.

    Putin actually appears to be a straight talker.


    vr13vr -> caliento 11 May 2015 14:05

    "The first question asked should be... "

    Kerry doesn't get to ask questions as if he were running a deposition. He can talk politely and be nice. Outside of the US police TV show and court drama, nobody in the world allows anyone to speak like this, especially in the diplomatic talks with Russia.


    vr13vr 11 May 2015 14:03

    "Russia believes that the US is meddling in Ukraine..."

    No, it's not just Russia believes. It is a fact. And everyone knows it, not just Russia.


    geedeesee -> Beckow 11 May 2015 13:46

    Add to your list:

    EU unity under considerable strain. Divisive issues on it's plate include Greece and Grexit, UK referendum and possible Brexit, UK Human rights exit, unresolved Eurozone crisis, migrant quotas, all made worse by further US spying revelations and German betrayal of EU businesses to the benefit of US companies.

    Putin now supporting/funding anti-EU parties in Europe.

    MH17 report and voice recorder info, clearly delayed for political reasons, is due this summer.

    Obama administration needs cooperation at UNSC on Iran nuclear deal.

    Putin supplying arms to Iran is giving Obama more problems from Netanyahu.

    If Obama has plans for a last attempt at cracking Israel/palestine then he'll need as much international support as he can muster.

    Russia opening spying and military bases in Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.


    BunglyPete 11 May 2015 13:46

    Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I've seen since the very height of the cold war,

    That suggests that it is equivalent to the RFE/RL campaigns of the Cold War.

    The reports they produced in 1984 relating to showing the Ukrainian nationalists in a good light were described by Richard Pipes as "blatant anti-semitic propaganda". Not my words, the words of Richard Pipes.

    These same reports are reprinted today in the Guardian and if you disagree you are a "Putin propagandist". Even though Richard Pipes agrees that it is distasteful propaganda.

    Other activities involved sending millions of balloons across eastern Europe, campaigns in the US to ask for "Truth Dollars" to fund said balloon campaigns, leaflets pretending to come from a fictional resistance organisation intended to militarise citizens against their governments, and much much more. There are many books and articles on the subject.

    Senator Royce said in May 2014, in an instruction to Victoria Nuland at a senate subcommitee hearing, he wants them "producing the stuff they did years ago". Indeed they granted more money than they did during the cold war to BBG campaigns.

    In comparison to the rather pathetic RT, the US campaigns are far more serious in scope and effects.


    madeiranlotuseater 11 May 2015 13:27

    and to ensure US views are clearly conveyed," state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement

    In other words, do as the USA says or we shall continue to hound you.

    "Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I've seen since the very height of the cold war," Kerry said in February. "And they have been persisting in their misrepresentations, lies, whatever you want to call them, about their activities to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions."

    There speaks the nation that admits to being involved in forcing regime changes all over the world since 1947. To arm twisting and invading Iraq on the basis of a known lie. If Mr Kerry believes he has been lied to he should present his evidence. We can all relax then. But he doesn't. He says to trust him to tell the truth. Why should we. The USA is a massive war machine intent on ruling the world. China and Russia are not interested in being bullied.


    Beckow -> deathbydemocracy 11 May 2015 12:53

    I see that even indirect criticism of the media coverage is not allowed. Interesting, but somehow understandable.


    DIPSET 11 May 2015 12:31

    First when they thought they thought they were "winning" they did not want to talk and instead, instructed their media to do the talking for them.

    Okay.

    Then reality happened hahaha

    As a consequence, we now have all sorts of chatter coming out of Washington and the urgent need to talk to Russia. So now it's......

    Let's "talk" about East Ukraine
    Let's "talk about Iraq
    Let's "talk" about Syria
    Let's "talk" about Yemen
    Let's "talk about Iran
    Lets "talk" about Latin America

    Funny how seeing China and Russia stand next to each other has sharpened some minds across the Atlantic.

    Pity they could not "talk" before Crimea was 'liberated' right in front of the American satellites circling in space lol

    ;-)

    Fascinating times


    Ilja NB 11 May 2015 12:28

    Which mounting evidence ??? I haven't seen a single one provided ?

    **The Russian foreign ministry said: "We continue to underline that we are ready for cooperation with the US on the basis of equality, non-interference in internal affairs, and that Russian interests are taken into account without attempting to exert pressure on us."**

    Of-course USA will never agree with it, since USA wants to put it's nose in everyone's affairs.


    BMWAlbert -> BunglyPete 11 May 2015 11:55

    Mr. Semenchenko is clearly referring to Greater Ukraine here that extends east into the Kuban, including some buffer areas around the mount Elbrus region (intruded upon on this 2008 occasion) to the south, and north to the Middle Don and Upper Donets basins, to include Beograd and steppe lands east of Voronezh.

    Beckow -> miceonparade 11 May 2015 11:40

    Kerry is going to make a deal. Probably surrender after one more chest-beating threat. If Putin doesn't meet him (also possible), we will have a very hot summer in Ukraine. And maybe elsewhere.

    Beckow 11 May 2015 11:34

    Kerry is going for a reason, and it is not to restate US views. The reality is:

    These realities on the ground drive US crazy. They don't like to deal with reality, it is too hard. They prefer the fantasy play world where US is god-like, others are scared and geography, resources and other realities are wished away. Infantile. Stupid. Self-defeating. Russia is actually doing US a favor by bringing them back to the real word.

    I feel sorry for the Ukrainians; they will suffer for years enormously. They rebelled against a miserable life, were used by a few hustlers from Washington, Berlin and a few Polish ultra-nationalists, now they will pay for it all. Those are the wages of naivete...

    emb27516 miceonparade 11 May 2015 11:32

    Yes, especially if they wrestle.

    BunglyPete 11 May 2015 11:32

    "Mr Putin, look at these images provided to our Senator Inhofe, from Mr Semenchenko of Ukraine's official government designation to Washington.

    As you can see, these images from Georgia in 2008 clearly show you invaded Ukraine last year. We feel these images prove the invasion so strongly, Senator Inhofe wrote a bill authorising arms to Ukraine, and we passed this quite easily.

    What, Mr Putin, will you do about this? If you continue to send tanks to Georgia in 2008 then we will assume you have no interest in fulfilling the terms of Minsk accord and will enact necessary measures to ensure the stability of Ukraine."

    alsojusticeseeker Jeremn 11 May 2015 11:27

    "He may be a son of a b..., but he is our son of a b...". Just another typical example of US hypocrisy.

    BMWAlbert 11 May 2015 11:25

    If only his brain were as big as his hair (obviously, not the bald one).

    warehouse_guy 11 May 2015 11:25

    "Western leaders mainly boycotted the parade in protest at Russia's actions in Ukraine."

    Aka people's will in Crimea, and Russian people's will to help Donbass, they are not exactly hiding it there are donation kiosks all over the country almost in every major city. Not on government level though. There are no on duty Russian troops in Ukraine.

    RudolphS 11 May 2015 11:24

    So, Barry is too chickenshit to go to Russia himself?

    Jeremn 11 May 2015 11:19

    Americans should be asking why their government is supporting a Ukrainian governmnet which honours veterans of an insurgency which massacred Poles, Jews and Russians across Ukraine in 1943 and 1944.

    Here they are, members of the UPA-OUN. Rehabilitated by Poroshenko's governmnet. It was an organisation which formed the Nachtigall Battalion, in German service, and tasked with clearing the Lvov ghetto, and which took men from SS auxiliaries (Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201), which cleared Belarus of partisans and Jews.

    Most notoriously, the UPA ran a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Poles in Ukraine, killing some 100,000 of them (mostly women and children).

    So there are the veterans, in Ukraine's parliament. Here's a history of one of their massacres.

    America, you should know.

    Steve Ennever 11 May 2015 11:15

    "The US has placed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine"

    It has indeed. And badgered Europe into sanctioning Russia further. All of which has affected the US little but has been an immense pain economically for it's "allies."
    Strangely though, in 2014, business between the US & Russia actually increased by 7%.

    Honestly, you get taken for a ride as recently as Iraq & Libya & you still don't learn a thing.

    StatusFoe11 May 2015 11:08

    "This trip is part of our ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure US views are clearly conveyed,"

    i.e. "If you don't do what we say and submit to our will there'll be more costs."

    warehouse_guy 11 May 2015 11:00

    "While Washington has pointed to mounting evidence of Russian military involvement in the east of the country."

    Yet unable to provide any concrete evidence for over a year...

    [May 11, 2015]CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for Espionage Act violations

    May 11, 2015 | RT USA

    CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for Espionage Act violations


    Convicted CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison under the Espionage Act. He was found guilty of nine counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information about a covert operation and other related charges.

    Sterling was given an additional two years of supervised release after he finishes his time in jail. The government had sought a prison term of more than 20 years for Sterling, but the judge told prosecutors at the sentencing that was too harsh a punishment, according to the New York Times' Matt Apuzzo.

    ... ... ...

    The former CIA officer, who was fired in the early 2000s, was charged under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information about a mission meant to slow Iran's nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen, who then wrote about the CIA's Iranian plot "Operation Merlin" in his 2006 book, 'State of War'. The plan was designed to project a negative image of Iran's nuclear program, learn more about it program and impair its progress. Flawed nuclear weapon schematics were reportedly funneled to the Iranians via a Russian scientist with the codename "Merlin."

    Risen was also critical of Operation Merlin in his book, saying it could have inadvertently helped Iran if they were able to identify what was wrong with the blueprints.

    ... ... ...

    In remarks of his own, US District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema mentioned the punishments meted out against other government whistleblowers, including Gen. David Petraeus, who was sentenced to two years probation for leaking documents to his biographer, a woman who was also his mistress, as well as that of John Kiriakou, Rapalo said.

    [May 11, 2015] Why Ukraine Still Can't Break Ties With Russian 'Aggressor State'  by Simon Shuster

    Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.
    TIME

    Having survived an assassin's bullet, a revolution and a war, Gennady Kernes now faces a fight over Ukraine's constitution

    One afternoon in late February, Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkov, Ukraine's second largest city, pushed his wheelchair away from the podium at city hall and, with a wince of discomfort, allowed his bodyguards to help him off the stage. The day's session of the city council had lasted several hours, and the mayor's pain medication had begun to wear off. It was clear from the grimace on his face how much he still hurt from the sniper's bullet that nearly killed him last spring. But he collected himself, adjusted his tie and rolled down the aisle to the back of the hall, where the press was waiting to grill him.

    "Gennady Adolfovich," one of the local journalists began, politely addressing the mayor by his name and patronymic. "Do you consider Russia to be an aggressor?" He had seen this loaded question coming. The previous month, Ukraine's parliament had unanimously voted to declare Russia an "aggressor state," moving the two nations closer to a formal state of war after nearly a year of armed conflict. Kernes, long known as a shrewd political survivor, was among the only prominent officials in Ukraine to oppose this decision, even though he knew he could be branded a traitor for it. "Personally, I do not consider Russia to be an aggressor," he said, looking down at his lap.

    It was a sign of his allegiance in the new phase of Ukraine's war. Since February, when a fragile ceasefire began to take hold, the question of the country's survival has turned to a debate over its reconstitution. Under the conditions of the truce, Russia has demanded that Ukraine embrace "federalization," a sweeping set of constitutional reforms that would take power away from the capital and redistribute it to the regions. Ukraine now has to decide how to meet this demand without letting its eastern provinces fall deeper into Russia's grasp.

    The state council charged with making this decision convened for the first time on April 6, and President Petro Poroshenko gave it strict instructions. Some autonomy would have to be granted to the regions, he said, but Russia's idea of federalization was a red line he wouldn't cross. "It is like an infection, a biological weapon, which is being imposed on Ukraine from abroad," the President said. "Its bacteria are trying to infect Ukraine and destroy our unity."

    Kernes sees it differently. His city of 1.4 million people is a sprawling industrial powerhouse, a traditional center of trade and culture whose suburbs touch the Russian border. Its economy cannot survive, he says, unless trade and cooperation with the "aggressor state" continue, regardless how much Russia has done in the past year to sow conflict in Ukraine.

    "That's how the Soviet Union built things," Kernes explains in his office at the mayoralty, which is decorated with an odd collection of gifts and trinkets, such as a stuffed lion, a robotic-looking sculpture of a scorpion, and a statuette of Kernes in the guise of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. "That's how our factories were set up back in the day," he continues. "It's a fact of life. And what will we do if Russia, our main customer, stops buying?" To answer his own question, he uses an old provincialism: "It'll be cat soup for all of us then," he said.

    Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.

    But that pain will be just the beginning, says Kernes, unless Ukraine allows its eastern regions to develop economic ties with Russia. As proof he points to the fate of Turboatom, his city's biggest factory, which produces turbines for both Russian and Ukrainian power stations. Its campus takes up more than five square kilometers near the center of Kharkov, like a city within a city, complete with dormitories and bathhouses for its 6,000 employees. On a recent evening, its deputy director, Alexei Cherkassky, was looking over the factory's sales list as though it were a dire medical prognosis. About 40% of its orders normally come from Russia, which relies on Turboatom for most of the turbines that run its nuclear power stations.

    "Unfortunately, all of our major industries are intertwined with Russia in this way," Cherkassky says. "So we shouldn't fool ourselves in thinking we can be independent from Russia. We are totally interdependent." Over the past year, Russia has started cutting back on orders from Turboatom as part of its broader effort to starve Ukraine's economy, and the factory has been forced as a result to cut shifts, scrap overtime and push hundreds of workers into retirement.

    At least in the foreseeable future, it does not have the option of shifting sales to Europe. "Turbines aren't iPhones," says Cherkassky. "You don't switch them out every few months." And the ones produced at Turboatom, like nearly all of Ukraine's heavy industry, still use Soviet means of production that don't meet the needs of most Western countries. So for all the aid coming from the state-backed institutions in the U.S. and Europe, Cherkassky says, "those markets haven't exactly met us with open arms."

    Russia knows this. For decades it has used the Soviet legacy of interdependence as leverage in eastern Ukraine. The idea of its "federalization" derives in part from this reality. For two decades, one of the leading proponents of this vision has been the Russian politician Konstantin Zatulin, who heads the Kremlin-connected institute in charge of integrating the former Soviet space. Since at least 2004, he has been trying to turn southeastern Ukraine into a zone of Russian influence – an effort that got him banned from entering the country between 2006 and 2010.

    His political plan for controlling Ukraine was put on hold last year, as Russia began using military means to achieve the same ends. But the current ceasefire has brought his vision back to the fore. "If Ukraine accepts federalization, we would have no need to tear Ukraine apart," Zatulin says in his office in Moscow, which is cluttered with antique weapons and other military bric-a-brac. Russia could simply build ties with the regions of eastern Ukraine that "share the Russian point of view on all the big issues," he says. "Russia would have its own soloists in the great Ukrainian choir, and they would sing for us. This would be our compromise."

    It is a compromise that Kernes seems prepared to accept, despite everything he has suffered in the past year of political turmoil. Early on in the conflict with Russia, he admits that he flirted with ideas of separatism himself, and he fiercely resisted the revolution that brought Poroshenko's government to power last winter. In one of its first decisions, that government even brought charges against Kernes for allegedly abducting, threatening and torturing supporters of the revolution in Kharkov. After that, recalls Zatulin, the mayor "simply chickened out." Facing a long term in prison, Kernes accepted Ukraine's new leaders and turned his back on the separatist cause, refusing to allow his city to hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine.

    "And you know what I got for that," Kernes says. "I got a bullet." On April 28, while he was exercising near a city park, an unidentified sniper shot Kernes in the back with a high-caliber rifle. The bullet pierced his lung and shredded part of his liver, but it also seemed to shore up his bona fides as a supporter of Ukrainian unity. The state dropped its charges against him soon after, and he was able to return to his post.

    It wasn't the first time he made such an incredible comeback. In 2007, while he was serving as adviser to his friend and predecessor, Mikhail Dobkin, a video of them trying to film a campaign ad was leaked to the press. It contained such a hilarious mix of bumbling incompetence and backalley obscenity that both of their careers seemed sure to be over. Kernes not only survived that scandal but was elected mayor a few years later.

    Now the fight over Ukraine's federalization is shaping up to be his last. In late March, as he continued demanding more autonomy for Ukraine's eastern regions, the state re-opened its case against him for alleged kidnapping and torture, which he has always denied. The charges, he says, are part of a campaign against all politicians in Ukraine who support the restoration of civil ties with Russia. "They don't want to listen to reason," he says.

    But one way or another, the country will still have to let its eastern regions to do business with the enemy next door, "because that's where the money is," Kernes says. No matter how much aid Ukraine gets from the IMF and other Western backers, it will not be enough to keep the factories of Kharkov alive. "They'll just be left to rot without our steady clients in Russia." Never mind that those clients may have other plans for Ukraine in mind.

    [May 10, 2015] After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians

    More correctly Clinton administration vigorously tried to help Russia to became a vassal state...
    April 15, 2015 | antiwar.com
    May 07, 2015 | The Washington Post

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin recently was interviewed for a fawning Russian television documentary on his decade and a half in power. Putin expressed the view that the West would like Russia to be down at the heels. He said, "I sometimes I get the impression that they love us when they need to send us humanitarian aid. . . . [T]he so-called ruling circles, elites — political and economic — of those countries, they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand. As soon as we start declaring some interests of our own, they feel that there is some element of geopolitical rivalry."

    Earlier, in March, speaking to leaders of the Federal Security Service, which he once led, Mr. Putin warned that "Western special services continue their attempts at using public, nongovernmental and politicized organizations to pursue their own objectives, primarily to discredit the authorities and destabilize the internal situation in Russia."

    Mr. Putin's remarks reflect a deep-seated paranoia. It would be easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric as intended for domestic consumption, an attempt to whip up support for his war adventure in Ukraine. In part, it is that. But Mr. Putin's assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia's power and influence is a willful untruth.

    The fact is that thousands of Americans went to Russia hoping to help its people attain a better life. The American and Western effort over the last 25 years — to which the United States and Europe devoted billions of dollars — was aimed at helping Russia overcome the horrid legacy of Soviet communism, which left the country on its knees in 1991. It was not about conquering Russia but rather about saving it, offering the proven tools of market capitalism and democracy, which were not imposed but welcomed. The United States also spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make Russia safer from loose nukes and joined a fruitful collaboration in outer space. Avid volunteers came to Russia and donated endless hours to imparting the lessons of how to hold jury trials, build a free press, design equity markets, carry out political campaigning and a host of other components of an open, prosperous society. The Americans came for the best of reasons.

    Certainly, the Western effort was flawed. Markets were distorted by crony and oligarchic capitalism; democratic practice often faltered; many Russians genuinely felt a sense of defeat, humiliation and exhaustion. There's much to regret but not the central fact that a generous hand was extended to post-Soviet Russia, offering the best of Western values and know-how. The Russian people benefit from this benevolence even now, and, above Mr. Putin's self-serving hysterics, they ought to hear the truth: The United States did not come to bury you.

    Vatnik, 5/7/2015 2:33 PM EDT [Edited]


    I think, that everyoune in US must to know. As i wrote below

    "we think that Navalny & Co paid by the west. they ususally call themselves "opposiotion", and one of them (Nemtsov) was frieinds with McCain (as i realized after reading McCain twitter, after Nemtsov was killed)."

    "we think that our real opposition are these political parties: CPRF, LDPR. We believe them."

    i write it, because i think, that when we talk that our(russian) opposition is bad and paid from the west, you think that we talk about our politic parties. but it is wrong, we talk about Navalny & Co.

    MeriJ, 5/7/2015 3:08 PM EDT [Edited]

    Thanks. That is a useful clarification. But I still find it odd that you would consider a member of your nation's opposition a traitor or "tool" simply because they have friends in the West.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt. Whereas individuals and political parties currently benefiting from the current system think it's fine.

    Those are not the thoughts of a traitor. To get to that conclusion you would need to define the current system and those who currently benefit as being "Russia." Oppose them and you oppose the Motherland.

    But Putin and his new-generation oligarchs and his deputies at the Kremlin are not Russia. They are a bunch of guys who currently run things there.

    Vatnik, 5/7/2015 3:47 PM EDT [Edited]

    "Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt."

    CPRF and LPDR know about corruption, and even they think that our non-systemic opposition (Navlny & Co) are traitors. And they (CPRF , LDPR) talk about corruption and another bad things of our gov even in Duma. for example, this is what said the leader of LDPR on one tv show

    "коррупцию создала советская власть, кпсс, единая россия плавно подобрала у нее все инструменты коррупции и сегодня эта страстная болезнь поразила все органы и всю структуру"
    google translated it:
    "Corruption established Soviet power, the Communist Party, United Russia gently picked her all the tools of corruption and now this passionate disease struck all the organs and the whole structure"
    and
    "у вас фракция половина бизнесмены, воры, жулики, грабители, вся остальная половина агенты спецслужб"
    google translated:
    "you have a fraction of a half businessmen, thieves, swindlers, robbers, the rest of the half secret service agents"
    he adressed it to our main politic party in Duma, "United Russia"

    I can find more than one video where he talk about falsifications of elections, right in Duma.

    but these are just examples.

    P.S. oh, and here i found video, specially for you(americans) where our non-systemic opposition visited US Embassy in Moscow in July 4th.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE-54U6V-Bc

    Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 12:11 PM EDT [Edited]

    BTW, this is not true that "Americans were not in charge". I red memoirs of Eltsyn's ministers (Korzhakov, Burbulis, you can read memoirs of deputy secretary of state of that time Strobe Talbott in English, the same is there), and it's clear that in 90s Russia de facto was American colony.

    For example, ministers in Russian government could not be assigned without US State Department approval. Even Russian TV anchors were instructed by US representatives.

    Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:05 PM EDT

    MeriJ
    6:42 PM GMT+0300 [Edited]
    Putin has convinced you...


    USA had popularity in Russia in 1990 more than Putin now, but to 1999 when Putin became prime-minister USA had less than 20% approve. It was not Putin who destroyed USA's popularity, reverse your policy created Putin.

    You very often replay this your phrase, but it is lie. Did Putin created NATO, did Putin used Russia's weakness and increased NATO, did Putin bomb Kosovo, did Putin violated agreements that was done after WWII and separated Kosovo from Serbia, did Putin destroyed Russia's democracy in 1996 and in 1993, did Putin paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians, did Putin pressure Chechens create Islamic State (prototype of ISIL) in Chechnya, did Putin in any article said that it will be great if terrorists will created their own state (and after that will be do permanent wars against Russia)? NO, you did it before there appeared Putin.

    Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:14 PM EDT

    MeriJ
    5:48 PM GMT+0300
    Much of the aid they are referring to was not lending but grants to help build civil society -- independent media, health organizations and the like. No strings attached.

    You did not created Russia's civil society, you destroyed it when you created did all what was possible to lure high educated Russians in West countries. You falsified Russia's election in 1996 (and all international observers under pressure of USA supported it). You in 1993 supported Yeltsin's military operation in Moscow. You paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians and destabilize Russia's society. Is it civil society???

    "independent media"??? Not, they was created by our oligarchs, not by you, and you payed only for those media who represented USA's point of view as your propaganda did in time Cold War. It was the continuing Cold War, not help.

    " health organizations" ??????????????

    USSR's health organizations was significantly better than USA, and infinity better than current Russia's organizations.

    There was not "and like" we ceased Cold War, we by free will dismantled all "USSR's Empire", we by free will destroyed ideology, we ceased war, but you continued it, you continued the war all last 25 years, and NATO is the best example of it.

    MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

    We lured well-educated Russians to the West? Seriously?

    This is the nature of free markets and open borders. Your response should be to compete to lure them back. Give them something to come home for. Most people long to go home.

    Instead you talk about anyone who doesn't hate the West as if they were traitors. Why would any well-educated Russian ex-pat want to come home now?

    Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:48 PM EDT

    Seriously. Your government created very comfortable ways for engineers (and for some another categories of USSR's people), to take them on West. You are economist, so I suppose you know the reception: lure good manager from another company, it will increase your power, and it decrease power of your competitor.

    MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:51 PM EDT [Edited]

    By "seriously?" I didn't mean I disagreed with your facts. I disagree that this was surprising or hostile. That is the nature of open markets -- if you see excellence, you try to recruit it.

    There are only two responses I know of: Close your borders and your markets; or compete more effectively.


    MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:20 PM EDT

    You are truly incorrect, my friend, and it saddens me that you see it this way.

    The antagonistic relationship you describe is more true at the moment, due to the events of the last year, but not true back in the decades before that. During the Cold War, we were indeed enemies, so such motivations then were a given.

    Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

    Ok, then try to explain, why USA had more 80% [popularity in polls] in Russia in 1990 and less than 20% in 1999. There was not Putin, how can you explain it?

    Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 12:27 PM EDT [Edited]

    He is correct. One can say that Cold War never ended - it just took place for some decades on our land in form of guerilla war. After Gorbachev and Yeltsin abandoned all interests of USSR and Russia you decided to press the advantage and to take Russia of the board [permanently]. Is it so big surprise that we are angry about it?

    Joseph Volgin, 5/7/2015 11:01 AM EDT

    Alert! Attention, danger! Putin trolls get into American journalism:

    "...Or, as a Fred Hiatt of the 1870s might have commented about Native Americans who resisted the well-intentioned Bureau of Indian Affairs and didn't appreciate the gentleness of the U.S. Army or the benevolence of life on the reservations: "Above Sitting Bull's self-serving hysterics, Indians ought to hear the truth: The white man did not come to exterminate you."

    Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 8:22 AM EDT

    Thank you, but I lived in Russia in 90s and remember very well Americans who started to come at that time - arrogant money-grabbers the only thing they were interested in is how to make money - on everything, from oil to export of Russian children to US. They stole billions from Russians and continue to do so.

    Please, Americans, don't help us - go away and take your democracy with you.

    Bob Bobo, 5/7/2015 7:51 AM EDT

    Russia help? Yes like that Khodorkovsky Yukos submitted on a silver platter Rothschild. It would Americans like it if they can plunder the Russian mineral resources. But when Putin to allow such a persona non grata.

    Larysa Mahal, 5/7/2015 6:30 AM EDT

    The best article for those who do not know history and events in Russia. I think a lot of people feel a tears of emotion when they read this article. Bravo!

    When author quotes Putin's speech "they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand." he has forgotten to say that after these words Putin thanked all those who helped to Russia in its difficult time. Author has forgotten to give example about free help "devoted billions of dollars". Nothing was free and Russia had to pay if not money then the disadvantages agreements or concessions. But oh well it. Talk about a paranoia. Author calls the leader of the biggest country "paranoid". But this man has stood up Russia from knees during 15 years only. Think about it 15 years only! Author calls "paranoid" the man who are supported by 75 % population in Russia. The man who was addressed Crimea, insisting on joining with Russia. Are all of these people paranoid like Putin?

    Then you can say about President of Poland who sad that the Victory Parade in Moscow is a threaten to all Europe. What is it, paranoia in a cube? But author does not see that because for him to write articles is a work but to know truth is for domestic use only.

    I want to ask everybody to see around and say how many prosperous, beautiful countries in Europe face before a threaten to be section, detached some parts like UK, Italy. But to Russia with her "paranoid" leader want and join huge territories with huge amount of people. Think about it. In last year one man standing in a long queue on the sea crossing from Crimea to Russia sad that they are willing to endure all the inconveniences because the main thing is they are with Russia. Think about it.

    Lucky_Barker, 5/7/2015 5:45 AM EDT [Edited]

    The United States supported the destruction and burning of the parliament in Moscow, the murder of civilians in 1993, the bombing of Grozny in 1994-1995-m, and the killing of civilians in Chechnya. All crimes Yeltsin was American influence and American advices.

    It's very like the oficial America. Manu people call "Yeltsin era" as "Time of Americans" or "Time of Prostitutes".

    Restoration of parliamentary democracy, Mr. Putin did not like top US.
    Putin's war in Chechnya without massive bombing did not like owners of US newspapers and US parties.

    The Chechens believe that the Americans supported Yeltsin genocide Chechen civilians in 1nd Chechen war and strongly resent and hate peace in Chechnya after the 2nd Chechen war.

    Tsarnaev was prepared in US as a terrorist for Syria or Chechnya - but was shot too early.

    We must always remember that Al Qaeda and الدّولة الإسلاميّة at an early stage was the US-Saudi projects.

    Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 5:24 AM EDT [

    What a hipocrisity.
    Your "volunters" with their "proven tools" provoked desolation of russian economy and defolt. The results of their actions were nothing short of economical genocide. The so-called free press you build are just a puppets of yours, instruments of your influence and of your lies. Your advises in building of democracy led to anarchy and to the brink of collapse of Russia. Yes, you tried to bury us. Guess what? You failed. And we will never forgive you.

    Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 5:19 AM EDT

    But past wrongs do not matter... now Russia and the USA on the brink of war... the war is already at a distance of 600 kilometers from Moscow, the American puppets killed thousands of ethnic Russians.

    Russia is a nuclear power, such action is suicide. We all have to prevent needless and stupid war... I ask you to help.

    Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:56 AM EDT

    4) Let the author will call the name of at least one program, which spent a billion dollars... which would have improved the lives of ordinary Russians. At least one program (I don't know, although he lived in Russia at that time). All American billion were used to purchase depreciating assets industry of the USSR ("privatization"), actually looting people.

    5) "Thousands of activists and volunteers" were actually thousands of Yeltsin's advisers... it was on the advice of these advisers was launched economic programme "shock therapy" (economic Holocaust). When Federal employees and the military is not specifically paid a salary (although the money was) ... a few years (to reduce the money supply), the economy was dead, just do not have the money, the base rate of the Central Bank was 2000% (I'm not kidding)... people were hungry... you know what hunger is? I know... The country was falling apart, if not for Putin.
    6) Free press this is the press... which is verbatim from CNN, BBC, Foxnews? What is its "freedom" of this media?

    7) the Oligarchs, corrupt officials... and who brought them to power, who collaborated with them, who gave them money to purchase assets? American corporations...

    P. S. I don't know why the author is lying, but I would never wish the Americans in the US... to experience the poverty and hopelessness... you have experienced the Russians in the 90-ies in Russia, when the US "gave us a hand"...

    Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:26 AM EDT

    I accuse the author of lying... and paid propaganda.
    1) Russia is satisfied with the U.S. government only when it is weak. In 1993 Boris Yeltsin ordered to shoot from tanks to the Parliament (similar to the U.S. Congress) killed many people-elected deputies, and unarmed people in the square who came to support the deputies, they were killed at close range with machine guns. Hundreds of corpses.... NO ONE representative of the United States, has condemned the event. Nobody. Everything is fine, democracy!!!
    The author of the article is lying. Putin is telling the truth.
    2) Almost all non-governmental organizations of Russia officially get the money of US taxpayers. Their leaders defiantly go to the American Embassy. (in other 196 embassies of the countries of the world don't go)... and declare that their goal is "revolution and overthrow the President." Opposition leaders Russia (Navalny, Nemtsov, Kasparov, Chirikov, Ponomarev) was trained in the U.S. and regularly travel to the USA... (for example ... Imagine the leaders of "Occupy Wall Street" would have officially get money from the Russians, and walked to the Russian Embassy. Presented? ) The author is lying, Putin is not lying.
    3) There is No "military adventure in Ukraine." Lies about "Russian aggression" hides that Ukraine is a civil war and the destruction and arrests of thousands of unarmed ethnic Russians (they inhabit the East of Ukraine)... who disagree with an armed overthrow of the President. Near the border of Russia (31 km) is a major Ukrainian city Kharkiv... it unguarded, why in Kharkov there are no "hordes of Russian troops or the rebels?... If Putin attacked the Ukraine and began a military adventure"?
    The author lied again.

    Owan Skirlan, 5/7/2015 3:20 AM EDT

    Okay, dear Americans, thanks for fish and sort of that, but, really - Make Your Own Buisness! Somethere between US borders, not out

    Brekotin, 5/7/2015 1:07 AM EDT

    Very funny article. Washington PRAVDA!
    to author: please check the graph of GDP in Russia and the United States 1985-2015.
    Clearly shows how redistribute wealth of the USSR was reditributed.

    P.S.: teach macroeconomics and history.

    Andrey Belov, 5/7/2015 12:39 AM EDT

    I by the way I wonder what is so wrong left Russia communism? Developed industry and agriculture, United state, connected in the common economic space, a powerful culture and the arts, advanced science, the successful solution of social problems. And against that you have spent billions to destroy all? Lord you Americans really believe that we should be grateful for assistance in the destruction of our country?

    Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:48 PM EDT

    "After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians"
    Really???
    - USA in 1990 had popularity 80%, but to 1999 (before Putin) USA had popularity 20% in Russia, is it because USA had tried help Russia? (De facto USA did all what was possible to create politician like Putin).
    - USSR had dismissed Warsaw pact by free will (and USSR dismissed USSR by free will), USSR destroyed all what was linked to Cold War, did USA the same? Did USA dismissed NATO?
    - USA used Russia's weakness and increased NATO (now hypocrite Americans say that it was done by will of those countries, interesting enough do they really believe in the BS? USSR could also said that E. Europe's countries became ally of USSR because they was afraid Germany).
    - USA used Russia's weakness and attacked Serbia the Russia's ally (hypocrite Americans said that there was ethnic cleansing, BUT USA killed more men there than Milosevic did, moreover after war created by USA there was new ethnic cleansing and Albanians killed Serbians, why hypocrite Americans closed eyes about it?). In day when USA began war against Kosovo they loss all support that had between youth.
    - USA payed Chechnya terrorists and USA do great media support to Chechnya terrorists (after 11 September 2001 it was ceased but to the time was killed many Russia's humans including children, now hypocrite Americans prefer do not remember which media support they did for creation Islamic State on Russia's south border, it was prototype of ISIL).
    - USA used Russia's weakness and dismissed all agreements that interfere create anti-missile system.
    - USA destroyed Russia's democracy when supported falsification of election 1996 in Russia, because USA was afraid communists in Russia, and preferred support Yeltsin. USA violated election and supported Yeltsin, who had destroying Russia.
    - USA paid for many color revolutions on Russia's borders.

    Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:59 PM EDT

    I could continue the list very long, but I have not time now.
    So all USA's sayings about "trying to help Russia" is hypocrite lie from alpha to omega. All what wanted USA destroy country that they had afraid half century. USA didn't use Russians free will and trying end Cold War, USA continued it and I can suppose it will be great problem for USA in future. Certainly Russia is weak country now, but Russia can give very significant help to China, especially in military question (if China will be need use power, but do not show that they use power).

    Irene Guy, 5/6/2015 9:34 PM EDT

    "For fifty years, our policy was to fence in the Soviet Union while its own internal contradictions undermined it. For thirty years, our policy has been to draw out the People's Republic of China. As a result, the China of today is simply not the Soviet Union of the late 1940s"
    Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
    Remarks to National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
    New York City
    September 21, 2005"
    Enough said...

    [May 10, 2015] The New York Times does its government's bidding Here's what you're not being told about U.S. troops in Ukraine

    | NYTimes.com
    May 07, 2015 | Salon.com
    As of mid-April, when a Pentagon flack announced it in Kiev, and as barely reported in American media, U.S. troops are now operating openly in Ukraine.

    Now there is a lead I have long dreaded writing but suspected from the first that one day I would. Do not take a moment to think about this. Take many moments. We all need to. We find ourselves in grave circumstances this spring.

    At first I thought I had written what newspaper people call a double-barreled lead: American soldiers in Ukraine, American media not saying much about it. Two facts.

    Wrong. There is one fact now, and it is this: Americans are being led blindfolded very near the brink of war with Russia.

    One cannot predict there will be one. And, of course, right-thinking people hope things will never come to one. In March, President Obama dismissed any such idea as if to suggest it was silly. "They're not interested in a military confrontation with us," Obama said of the Russians—wisely. Then he added, unwisely: "We don't need a war."

    Don't need a war to get what done, Mr. President? This is our question. Then this one: Washington is going to stop at exactly what as it manipulates its latest set of puppets in disadvantaged countries, this time pretending there is absolutely nothing thoughtless or miscalculated about doing so on Russia's historically sensitive western border?

    The pose of American innocence, tatty and tiresome in the best of times, is getting dangerous once again.

    The source of worry now is that we do not have an answer to the second question. The project is plain: Advance NATO the rest of the way through Eastern Europe, probably with the intent of eventually destabilizing Moscow. The stooges now installed in Kiev are getting everything ready for the corporations eager to exploit Ukrainian resources and labor.

    And our policy cliques are willing to go all the way to war for this? As of mid-April, when the 173rd Airborne Brigade started arriving in Ukraine, it looks as if we are on notice in this respect.

    In the past there were a few vague mentions of an American military presence in Ukraine that was to be in place by this spring, if I recall correctly. These would have been last autumn. By then, there were also reports, unconfirmed, that some troops and a lot of spooks were already there as advisers but not acknowledged.

    Then in mid-March President Poroshenko introduced a bill authorizing—as required by law—foreign troops to operate on Ukrainian soil. There was revealing detail, according to Russia Insider, a free-standing website in Moscow founded and run by Charles Bausman, an American with an uncanny ability to gather and publish pertinent information.

    "According to the draft law, Ukraine plans three Ukrainian-American command post exercises, Fearless Guardian 2015, Sea Breeze 2015 and Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015," the publication reported, "and two Ukrainian-Polish exercises, Secure Skies 2015, and Law and Order 2015, for this year."

    This is a lot of dry-run maneuvering, if you ask me. Poroshenko's law allows for up to 1,000 American troops to participate in each of these exercises, alongside an equal number of Ukrainian "National Guardsmen," and we will insist on the quotation marks when referring to this gruesome lot, about whom more in a minute.

    Take a deep breath and consider that 1,000 American folks, as Obama will surely get around to calling them, are conducting military drills with troops drawn partly from Nazi and crypto-Nazi paramilitary groups…. Sorry, I cannot add anything more to this paragraph. Speechless.

    It was a month to the day after Poroshenko's bill went to parliament that the Pentagon spokesman in Kiev announced—to a room empty of American correspondents, we are to assume—that troops from the 173rd Airborne were just then arriving to train none other than "National Guardsmen." This training includes "classes in war-fighting functions," as the operations officer, Maj. Jose Mendez, blandly put it at the time.

    The spokesman's number was "about 300," and I never like "about" when these people are describing deployments. This is how it always begins, we will all recall. The American presence in Vietnam began with a handful of advisers who arrived in September 1950. (Remember MAAG, the Military Assistance Advisory Group?)

    Part of me still thinks war with Russia seems a far-fetched proposition. But here's the thing: It is even more far-fetched to deny the gravity of this moment for all its horrific, playing-with-fire potential.

    I am getting on to apoplectic as to the American media's abject irresponsibility in not covering this stuff adequately. To leave these events unreported is outright lying by omission. Nobody's news judgment can be so bad as to argue this is not a story.

    Last December, John Pilger, the noted Australian journalist now in London, said in a speech that the Ukraine crisis had become the most extreme news blackout he had seen his entire career. I agree and now need no more proof as to whether it is a matter of intent or ineptitude. (Now that I think of it, it is both in many cases.)

    To cross the "i"s and dot the "t"s, as I prefer to do, the Times did make two mentions of the American troops. One was the day of the announcement, a brief piece on an inside page, datelined Washington. Here we get our code word for this caper: It will be "modest" in every mention.

    The second was in an April 23 story by Michael Gordon, the State Department correspondent. The head was, "Putin Bolsters His Forces Near Ukraine, U.S. Says." Read the… thing here.

    The story line is a doozy: Putin—not "the Russians" or "Moscow," of course—is again behaving aggressively by amassing troops—how many, exactly where and how we know is never explained—along his border with Ukraine. Inside his border, that is. This is the story. This is what we mean by aggression these days.

    In the sixth paragraph we get this: "Last week, Russia charged that a modest program to train Ukraine's national guard that 300 American troops are carrying out in western Ukraine could 'destabilize the situation.'"

    Apoplectically speaking: Goddamn it, there is nothing modest about U.S. troops operating on Ukrainian soil, and it is self-evidently destabilizing. It is an obvious provocation, a point the policy cliques in Washington cannot have missed.

    At this point, I do not see how anyone can stand against the argument—mine for some time—that Putin has shown exemplary restraint in this crisis. In a reversal of roles and hemispheres, Washington would have a lot more than air defense systems and troops of whatever number on the border in question.

    The Times coverage of Ukraine, to continue briefly in this line, starts to remind me of something I.F. Stone once said about the Washington Post: The fun of reading it, the honored man observed, is that you never know where you'll find a page one story.

    In the Times' case, you never know if you will find it at all.

    Have you read much about the wave of political assassinations that erupted in Kiev in mid-April? Worry not. No one else has either—not in American media. Not a word in the Times.

    The number my sources give me, and I cannot confirm it, is a dozen so far—12 to 13 to be precise. On the record, we have 10 who can be named and identified as political allies of Viktor Yanukovych, the president ousted last year, opponents of a drastic rupture in Ukraine's historic relations to Russia, people who favored marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of the Nazis—death-deserving idea, this—and critics of the new regime's corruptions and dependence on violent far-right extremists.

    These were all highly visible politicians, parliamentarians and journalists. They have been murdered by small groups of these extremists, according to reports readily available in non-American media. In my read, the killers may have the same semi-official ties to government that the paramilitary death squads in 1970s Argentina—famously recognizable in their Ford Falcons—had with Videla and the colonels.

    The Poroshenko government contrives to assign Russia the blame, but one can safely ignore this. Extreme right members of parliament have been more to the point. After a prominent editor named Oles Buzyna was fatally shot outside his home several weeks ago, a lawmaker named Boris Filatov told colleagues, "One more piece of shit has been eliminated." From another named Irina Farion, this: Death will neutralize the dirt this shit has spilled. Such people go to history's sewers."

    Kindly place, Kiev's parliament under this new crowd. Washington must be proud, having backed yet another right-wing, anti-democratic, rights-trampling regime that does what it says.

    And our media must be silent, of course. It can be no other way. Gutless hacks: You bet I am angry.

    * * *

    I end this week's column with a tribute.

    A moment of observance, any kind, for William Pfaff, who died at 86 in Paris late last week. The appreciative obituary by the Times' Marlise Simons is here.

    Pfaff was the most sophisticated foreign affairs commentator of the 20th century's second half and the first 15 years of this one. He was a great influence among colleagues (myself included) and put countless readers in a lot of places in the picture over many decades. He was a vigorous opponent of American adventurism abroad, consistent and reasoned even as resistance to both grew in his later years. By the time he was finished he was published and read far more outside America than in it.

    Pfaff was a conservative man in some respects, which is not uncommon among America's American critics. In this I put him in the file with Henry Steele Commager, C. Vann Woodward, William Appleman Williams, and among those writing now, Andrew Bacevich. He was not a scholar, as these writers were or are, supporting a point I have long made: Not all intellectuals are scholars, and not all scholars are intellectuals.

    Pfaff's books will live on and I commend them: "Barbarian Sentiments," "The Wrath of Nations," "The Bullet's Song," and his last, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny," are the ones on my shelf.

    Farewell from a friend, Bill.

    Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist. More Patrick L. Smith.

    [May 10, 2015]Obama's Petulant WWII Snub of Russia

    May 09, 2015 | antiwar.com
    President Barack Obama's decision to join other Western leaders in snubbing Russia's weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe looks more like pouting than statesmanship, especially in the context of the U.S. mainstream media's recent anti-historical effort to downplay Russia's crucial role in defeating Nazism.

    Though designed to isolate Russia because it had the audacity to object to the Western-engineered coup d'état in Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014, this snub of Russia's President Vladimir Putin – like the economic sanctions against Russia – is likely to backfire on the U.S. and its European allies by strengthening ties between Russia and the emerging Asian giants of China and India.

    Notably, the dignitaries who will show up at this important commemoration include the presidents of China and India, representing a huge chunk of humanity, who came to show respect for the time seven decades ago when the inhumanity of the Nazi regime was defeated – largely by Russia's stanching the advance of Hitler's armies, at a cost of 20 to 30 million lives.

    Obama's boycott is part of a crass attempt to belittle Russia and to cram history itself into an anti-Putin, anti-Russian alternative narrative. It is difficult to see how Obama and his friends could have come up with a pettier and more gratuitous insult to the Russian people.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel – caught between Washington's demand to "isolate" Russia over the Ukraine crisis and her country's historic guilt in the slaughter of so many Russians – plans to show up a day late to place a wreath at a memorial for the war dead.

    But Obama, in his childish display of temper, will look rather small to those who know the history of the Allied victory in World War II. If it were not for the Red Army's costly victories against the German invaders, particularly the tide-turning battle at Stalingrad in 1943-1944, the prospects for the later D-Day victory in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent defeat of Adolf Hitler would have been much more difficult if not impossible.

    Yet, the current Russia-bashing in Washington and the mainstream U.S. media overrides these historical truths. For instance, a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar on Friday begins: "The Russian version of Hitler's defeat emphasizes the enormous, unrivaled sacrifices made by the Soviet people to end World War II …" But that's not the "Russian version"; that's the history.

    For its part, the Washington Post chose to run an Associated Press story out of Moscow reporting: "A state-of-the-art Russian tank … on Thursday ground to a halt during the final Victory Day rehearsal. … After an attempt to tow it failed, the T-14 rolled away under its own steam 15 minutes later." (Subtext: Ha, ha! Russia's newest tank gets stuck on Red Square! Ha, ha!).

    This juvenile approach to pretty much everything that's important — not just U.S.-Russia relations — has now become the rule. From the U.S. government to the major U.S. media, it's as if the "cool kids" line up in matching fashions creating a gauntlet to demean and ridicule whoever the outcast of the day is. And anyone who doesn't go along becomes an additional target of abuse.

    That has been the storyline for the Ukraine crisis throughout 2014 and into 2015. Everyone must agree that Putin provoked all the trouble as part of some Hitler-like ambition to conquer much of eastern Europe and rebuild a Russian empire. If you don't make the obligatory denunciations of "Russian aggression," you are called a "Putin apologist" or "Putin bootlicker."

    Distorting the History

    So, the evidence-based history of the Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, must be forgotten or covered up. Indeed, about a year after the events, the New York Times published a major "investigative" article that ignored all the facts of a U.S.-backed coup in declaring there was no coup.

    The Times didn't even mention the notorious, intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in early February 2014 in which Nuland was handpicking the future leaders, including her remark "Yats is the guy," a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who – after the coup – quickly became prime minister. [See Consortiumnews.com's "NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine."]

    Even George Friedman, the president of the Washington-Establishment-friendly think-tank STRATFOR, has said publicly in late 2014: "Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d'état organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history."

    Beyond simply ignoring facts, the U.S. mainstream media has juggled the time line to make Putin's reaction to the coup – and the threat it posed to the Russian naval base in Crimea – appear to be, instead, evidence of his instigation of the already unfolding conflict.

    For example, in a "we-told-you-so" headline on March 9, the Washington Post declared: "Putin had early plan to annex Crimea." Then, quoting AP, the Post reported that Putin himself had just disclosed "a secret meeting with officials in February 2014 … Putin said that after the meeting he told the security chiefs that they would be 'obliged to start working to return Crimea to Russia.' He said the meeting was held Feb. 23, 2014, almost a month before a referendum in Crimea that Moscow has said was the basis for annexing the region."

    So there! Gotcha! Russian aggression! But what the Post neglected to remind readers was that the U.S.-backed coup had occurred on Feb. 22 and that Putin has consistently said that a key factor in his actions toward Crimea came from Russian fears that NATO would claim the historic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, representing a strategic threat to his country.

    Putin also knew from opinion polls that most of the people of Crimea favored reunification with Russia, a reality that was underscored by the March referendum in which some 96 percent voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

    But there was not one scintilla of reliable evidence that Putin intended to annex Crimea before he felt his hand forced by the putsch in Kiev. The political reality was that no Russian leader could afford to take the risk that Russia's only warm-water naval base might switch to new NATO management. If top U.S. officials did not realize that when they were pushing the coup in early 2014, they know little about Russian strategic concerns – or simply didn't care.

    Last fall, John Mearsheimer, a pre-eminent political science professor at the University of Chicago, stunned those who had been misled by the anti-Russian propaganda when he placed an article in the Very-Establishment journal Foreign Affairs entitled "Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West's Fault."

    You did not know that such an article was published? Chalk that up to the fact that the mainstream media pretty much ignored it. Mearsheimer said this was the first time he encountered such widespread media silence on an article of such importance.

    The Sole Indispensable Country

    Much of this American tendency to disdain other nations' concerns, fears and points of pride go back to the Washington Establishment's dogma that special rules or (perhaps more accurately) no rules govern U.S. behavior abroad – American exceptionalism. This arrogant concept, which puts the United States above all other nations like some Olympic god looking down on mere mortals, is often invoked by Obama and other leading U.S. politicians.

    That off-putting point has not been missed by Putin even as he has sought to cooperate with Obama and the United States. On Sept. 11, 2013, a week after Putin bailed Obama out, enabling him to avoid a new war on Syria by persuading Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, Putin wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times that he appreciated the fact that "My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust."

    Putin added, though, "I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism," adding: "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

    More recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov drove home this point in the context of World War II. This week, addressing a meeting to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe, Lavrov included a pointed warning: "Today as never before it is important not to forget the lessons of that catastrophe and the terrible consequences that spring from faith in one's own exceptionalism."

    The irony is that as the cameras pan the various world leaders in the Red Square reviewing stand on Saturday, Obama's absence will send a message that the United States has little appreciation for the sacrifice of the Russian people in bearing the brunt – and breaking the back – of Hitler's conquering armies. It is as if Obama is saying that the "exceptional" United States didn't need anyone's help to win World War II.

    President Franklin Roosevelt was much wiser, understanding that it took extraordinary teamwork to defeat Nazism in the 1940s, which is why he considered the Soviet Union a most important military ally. President Obama is sending a very different message, a haughty disdain for the kind of global cooperation which succeeded in ridding the world of Adolf Hitler.

    Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He is a 30-year veteran of the CIA and Army intelligence and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). McGovern served for considerable periods in all four of CIA's main directorates.