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Neocolonialism Bulletin, 2015

Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism

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Branko Milanovic:

As we enter 2015, it is not useless to look backwards in order to try to guess the trends of the future. I would argue that the age that we are, to some extent exiting now, and which extended from the early 1980s, can be called the “second age of imperialism”--the first one, in the modern history, having been the age of high imperialism 1870-1914. I will focus here on some of its key manifestations in the ideological sphere, in the areas I know, history and economics.

 But it should be obvious that ideology is but a manifestation of the underlying real forces, which were twofold:

The violent manifestations of the second age of imperialism were invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, brutal war in Libya...

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Dec 30, 2015] Ukrainian economy in depression: exports fall by about a third in 2015

Recession in Russia was the last nail on the coffin...
izvestia.ru

Exports of goods and services of Ukrainian production in 2015 will fall by about a third. And this is not surprising: as a result of "reforms" in the country almost died the industry lost its main Russian market, where Ukraine has supplied products with high added value. The cumulative figure of industrial production YTD is approximately -15%. The main export product of Ukraine for the first time since the pre-industrial era were products of agriculture. In the first place - corn.

[Dec 24, 2015] European Leaders Cry Foul Against Germany's Support for Gas Pipeline

Dec 21, 2015 | OilPrice.com
There is a growing chorus in Europe against Germany's support to expand a major natural gas pipeline from Russia over fears that it will leave Europe more dependent on their eastern neighbor.

The Nord Stream 2 would build on the existing Nord Stream pipeline, a conduit that delivers Russian natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Crucially, the project cuts out Ukraine, a key strategic objective for Russia since the original project's inception.

The latest $11 billion expansion would double the pipeline's current capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. From Russia's perspective, the project will increase market share and gas sales; from Germany's point of view, the project increases sources of supply. Nord Stream 2 was originally conceived of years ago, but in June 2015 Gazprom signed a memorandum with Royal Dutch Shell and OMV to move forward.

Nick Cunningham is a Vermont-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1

[Dec 24, 2015] Obama's foreign policy goals get a boost from plunging oil prices

Notable quotes:
"... At a time of tension for U.S. international relations, cheap oil has dovetailed with some of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals: pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin, undermining the popularity of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and tempering the prospects for Iranian oil revenue. At the same time, it is pouring cash into the hands of consumers, boosting tepid economic recoveries in Europe, Japan and the United States. ..."
The Washington Post

Plunging crude oil prices are diverting hundreds of billions of dollars away from the treasure chests of oil-exporting nations, putting some of the United States' adversaries under greater stress.

After two years of falling prices, the effects have reverberated across the globe, fueling economic discontent in Venezuela, changing Russia's economic and political calculations, and dampening Iranian leaders' hopes of a financial windfall when sanctions linked to its nuclear program will be lifted next year.

At a time of tension for U.S. international relations, cheap oil has dovetailed with some of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals: pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin, undermining the popularity of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and tempering the prospects for Iranian oil revenue. At the same time, it is pouring cash into the hands of consumers, boosting tepid economic recoveries in Europe, Japan and the United States.

"Cheap oil hurts revenues for some of our foes and helps some of our friends. The Europeans, South Koreans and Japanese - they're all winners," said Robert McNally, director for energy in President George W. Bush's National Security Council and now head of the Rapidan Group, a consulting firm. "It's not good for Russia, that's for sure, and it's not good for Iran."

... ... ...

In Iran, cheap oil is forcing the government to ratchet down expectations.

The much-anticipated lifting of sanctions as a result of the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program is expected to result in an additional half-million barrels a day of oil exports by the middle of 2016.

But at current prices, Iran's income from those sales will still fall short of revenue earned from constrained oil exports a year ago.

Moreover, low prices are making it difficult for Iran to persuade international oil companies to develop Iran's long-neglected oil and gas fields, which have been off limits since sanctions were broadened in 2012.

"Should Iran come out of sanctions, they will face a very different market than the one they had left in 2012," Amos Hochstein, the State Department's special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, said in an interview. "They were forced to recede in a world of over $100 oil, and sanctions will be lifted at $36 oil. They will have to work harder to convince companies to come in and take the risk for supporting their energy infrastructure and their energy production."

Meanwhile, in Russia, low oil prices have compounded damage done by U.S. and European sanctions that were designed to target Russia's energy and financial sectors. And when Iran increases output, its grade of crude oil will most likely go to Europe, where it will compete directly with Russia's Urals oil, McNally said.

Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.

[Dec 24, 2015] Is The Russian-Turkish Standoff An Opportunity For The West

Notable quotes:
"... apparently, two USAF F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters (which had been deployed to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey, in November 2015) were in the air as back-up to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force: THK) F-16s, one of which shot down the Su-24. ..."
"... At best, Russia may now move to cover its tactical operations in northern Syria more effectively by offering its own deterrence of top cover by advanced fighters while the ground attack aircraft, such as the Su-24s, do their job. It is also clear that any further Turkish incursions into Syrian airspace were now at-risk, but the Turks already knew that. ..."
Dec 14, 2015 | OilPrice.com

It was, in this latest incident, Turkey, working with the U.S. Government of President Barack Obama, which planned and executed the November 24, 2015, interception of the Russian Air Force Su-24. The event was not a spontaneous occurrence, and, apparently, two USAF F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters (which had been deployed to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey, in November 2015) were in the air as back-up to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force: THK) F-16s, one of which shot down the Su-24. USAF sources subsequently said that the U.S. was taken by surprise when the THK shot down the Sukhoi, but that hardly squares with the historical Turkish practice of coordinating such actions with Washington. Moreover, the Turkish narrative that it "warned" the Russian aircraft several times over a period of five minutes before the THK F-16 shot it down also does not square with reality.

And in this particular ground attack operation, the two Su-24s - including the one which was destroyed - were engaged on missions which did not require them to enter Turkish airspace, even though an acci-dental entry into it was conceivable. Their targets were in the area of northern Syria: pro-Ankara Turkmen militia engaged in supporting the massive cross-border operations of ISIS (asad- Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-'Iraq wash-Sham, or Islamic State) moving oil, fighters, and weapons across the Syria-Turkish border.

Dave Majumdar, Defense Editor at the U.S. blogsite, The National Interest, on December 7, 2015, noted: "The United States and Turkey are working on an agreement that would allow the US Air Force F-15Cs to defend Turkish airspace. However, the precise rules of engagement and procedures have yet to be ironed out." It is possible that Turkey wanted to illustrate to the US that its airspace was, in fact, threatened. But what has been clear is that no credible Russian military threat to Turkey existed.

At best, Russia may now move to cover its tactical operations in northern Syria more effectively by offering its own deterrence of top cover by advanced fighters while the ground attack aircraft, such as the Su-24s, do their job. It is also clear that any further Turkish incursions into Syrian airspace were now at-risk, but the Turks already knew that.

Recently-retired U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn publicly said in Moscow on December 10, 2015, that there was no possibility that the Turkish shootdown was undertaken without the express permission and direction of "the highest authority" in Turkey.

Indeed, Turkey has traditionally played the role of aggressor in terms of airspace violation. Not only did the THK lose an RF-4E Phantom II reconnaissance aircraft well into Syrian airspace on June 22, 2012, as a result of surface-to-air missile fire, it continues to consistently invade the airspace of fellow NATO member and neighbor Greece in a manner far more hostile than the penetration of Turkish airspace it alleged Russia undertook (for 17 seconds). THK F-16s entered Greek airspace some 2,200 times in 2014 alone. Moreover, Turkey consistently has violated Cypriot air-, sea, and land-space since its 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern 37 percent of Cyprus.1

So Turkey is hardly the victim. [Indeed, by deliberately starting the "civil war" to remove Pres. Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria, Turkey only incurred a "refugee problem" as a result of its own actions, and has subsequently sought to push those refugees onward into Europe as quickly as possible, seeking political rewards from Europe as the only power capable of stopping the refugee flows.]

In any event, Pres. Erdogan, three years ago said that "a short- term border violation can never be a pre-text for an attack". But that, of course, was when a THK aircraft was shot down by Syria when the THK F-4E deliberately and for some time penetrated Syrian airspace on a mission against Syria.

... .... ....

Turkey, too, will not remain inactive. It will resume its support for anti-Russian terrorism, including support for jihadist movements in the Caucasus. These have included such groups as Kvadrat (Quadrant), a Bos-nia-based Wahhabist unit, which had "laundered" its operations through Turkish-occupied Northern Cy-prus, thence into Turkey and on into the Russian Caucasus.4 But the reactivation of Turkish-backed terror-ism in the Russian Caucasus will be far wider than just Kvadrat: Turkey works extensively, even now, with Chechen and other Caucasus groups inside ISIS and in the jihadi operations in Syria.

Significantly, by early December 2015, President Erdogan assumed that the crisis had passed sufficiently for Turkey to expand its activities in the area. There was no indication that Turkey and ISIS had diminished their extensive and integrated operations in terms of oil transactions, the supply of weapons to ISIS via Turkey, and the use of Turkey as a medical support arena for ISIS wounded. But Turkey went further and deployed Turkish Army troops into northern Iraq near the ISIS-held city of Mosul in early December 2015. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi led calls for Turkish troops to be withdrawn immediately; they had not been withdrawn by the time this report went to press.

... ... ...

The path, however, is open for a great Russian cooperation with the Kurdish forces, as well as with other regional allies which are concerned about Turkey's strategic adventurism. The Kurds, particularly those led by the majority Kurdish force (under the PKK: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, the Kurdish Workers' Par-ty), are now well underway in responding to Ankara. The civil war is underway inside Turkey, and it re-mains literally out-of-bounds to the international media. What is significant is that the Kurds have thus far not agreed to cooperate with Russia, but are awaiting a nod from their principal ally, Israel, before trust-ing Russia.

Thus Israel's position becomes critical in this debate.

Much of the Israeli leadership still hopes that a rapprochement might be achievable with Turkey, but that hope is fading. On the other hand, Israeli planners have to consider whether a broken Turkey - perhaps replaced by a patchwork of states, and with no non-Arab player other than Iran to monitor the region - is worse than a troublesome Turkey. There is also the question of whether unqualified Israeli support for the Kurdish "big push" against Turkey would then jeopardize Israeli strategic relations with Saudi Arabia, which is apparently undecided on whether, or how much, it favors a continuation of the Turkish state.

Without Turkey, according to the Saudi rationale, who would be the counterweight to Iran?

Israel is also not immune to this argument, although for Israel the prospect exists for an eventual reunion with Tehran, after the clerical leadership goes, or modifies.

So Russia is left with three potential regional allies - apart from Syria, Iraq, and Iran - against Ankara: Greece, Egypt, and Jordan. And Cyprus and Armenia to the limited extent that they can assist.

... ... ...

Articles 10 to 18 are the articles which allow for various states, including Russia, to transit military ships through the straits. In short, if Turkey invoked either Article 20 or Article 21, Russia would be legally blocked from moving any naval vessel through the Straits.

Moscow has clearly long gamed out this scenario, which accounts for President Putin's commitment to a measured response to Ankara. Thus it must be a proxy response, for the most part, as well as an economic one. But while it demonstrates the delicacy needed by Moscow, it also demonstrates the reality that Russia cannot continue to be strategically constrained by an increasingly hostile and ambitious Turkey.

So where Turkey is vulnerable is in its economy.

The effects of Russian economic embargoes against Turkey are far more significant than would seem to be the case because the Turkish economy is more vulnerable than it has been portrayed. It is far more leveraged with borrowings than at any time in the recent past. It has a discreet outflow of domestic capital and is heavily reliant on discreet financial injections, probably coming from Qatar, and possible Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia's ability to prop up Turkey is becoming limited.

...while Turkey may not be regarded as an entirely stable partner for the PRC in the region, Beijing would be wary of acting precipitously against it.

...Iran - like Russia - is constrained to act cautiously and indirectly against Turkey. Moreover, Iran cannot risk that its own Kurdish population could join with Syrian, Iraqi, and Turkish Kurds to form a new Kurdish state.

...And in the short-term, this all has hardened Ankara's position on remaining in control of the northern 37 percent of Cyprus, which it has occupied militarily since 1974.

...There is no doubt that Pres. Erdogan believes that continued brinkmanship will be possible, although he is not perhaps aware that he is losing the information war, or the psychological war.

Amvet on December 15 2015 said:

Thank you Mr. Copley for a well researched, honest, and very interesting article. Any chance of getting this published in any US mainstream
newspaper or magazine ?? .

Jim on December 15 2015 said:

...Nice information actually, most mainstream media doesn't even come close. Thanks. definitely a deliberate and pre-approved escalation of the conflict, pointing fingers back to Washington, D.C.

Chris on December 15 2015 said:

A great article that brings together much of what has been reported and provides a coherent framework for understanding it. This piece should be in a general interest publication such as the NY Times so that more Americans could understand what is really going on in the Middle East.

[Dec 23, 2015] How America Lost the Rest of the World

Notable quotes:
"... I'm still trying to think through the implications but they are certainly disquieting. Without trying to hard I'd summarize that "the masks are coming off." ..."
"... The question then is, what happens after "the masks come off?" ..."
"... Short-sighted western pundits will still be penning deadline copy headlined "How Putin lost Ukraine" while those with real vision will be putting the finishing touches on "How America Lost the Rest of the World" ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Cortes, December 18, 2015 at 3:38 am
Michael Hudson on IMF manoeuvres

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/the-imf-changes-its-rules-to-isolate-china-and-russia/

Tim Owen, December 18, 2015 at 6:24 am
Hard to overstate the importance of this article. Thanks for spotting it.

There's a lot here but this passage is kind of free-standing in its value by simply condensing how the IMF has contorted itself:

"The IMF thus is breaking four rules:

  1. Not lending to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan breaks the "No More Argentinas" rule adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan.
  2. Not lending to countries that refuse in good faith to negotiate with their official creditors goes against the IMF's role as the major tool of the global creditors' cartel.
  3. And the IMF is now lending to a borrower at war, indeed one that is destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan.
  4. Finally, the IMF is lending to a country that has little likelihood of refuse carrying out the IMF's notorious austerity "conditionalities" on its population – without putting down democratic opposition in a totalitarian manner. Instead of being treated as an outcast from the international financial system, Ukraine is being welcomed and financed."

I'm still trying to think through the implications but they are certainly disquieting. Without trying to hard I'd summarize that "the masks are coming off."

The question then is, what happens after "the masks come off?"

… war.

(Sometimes it's best just to blurt out what's worrying you.)

marknesop, December 18, 2015 at 10:36 am
Short-sighted western pundits will still be penning deadline copy headlined "How Putin lost Ukraine" while those with real vision will be putting the finishing touches on "How America Lost the Rest of the World".

[Dec 23, 2015] Jewish neocons and the romance of nationalist armageddon

Notable quotes:
"... The Pity of It All : A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933 ..."
"... Perhaps you are making too much of the so called decline of the neocons. At the strategic level, there is little difference between the neocon "Project for a the New American Century" and Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard," both of which are consistent with US policy and actions in the Ukraine. ..."
"... The most significant difference seems to me to be the neocon emphasis on American unilateral militarism versus Obama's emphasis on multilateralism, covert operations and financial warfare to achieve the desired results. ..."
"... Perhaps another significant difference is the neocon emphasis on the primacy of the American nation-state versus the neoliberal emphasis on an American dominated global empire. ..."
"... Interesting to juxtapose Brzezinski and the neocons. In a Venn diagram they would over-lap 90%. ..."
"... Right now, their interests have diverged over the Ukraine crisis. Though many of the American neocons do support subverting Ukraine as does Brzezinski it looks like Israel itself is leaning towards supporting Russia. ..."
"... Right Sector militias are the fighting force that led the coup against the legally elected Yanukovich government and were almost certainly involved in the recent massacre in Odessa. And you support them for their fight for freedom? You should be ashamed. Zionism is sinking to new lows that they feel the need to identify with open neo-Nazis. ..."
"... Well, the point is that Zionists in Israel do not identify with that particular set of open neo-Nazis. I suspect that this is simply a matter of the headcount of Jewish business tycoons that are politically aligned with (western) Ukraine and Russia. Or you can count their billions. ..."
"... The problem with your reasoning, Yonah, is that you are espousing the Neocon line while not apparently recognizing that embarrassing fact. You lament that the US is no longer playing the role of the world's superpower, and acting as the world's cop, confronting militarily Russia, China, Iran and anyone else. It is precisely that mentality that got us into Iraq, could yet have us in a war with Iran, would like to see us defending Ukraine, and thinks we should confront China militarily over bits of rock it and its neighbors are quibbling over. That is a neocon, American supremacy mentality. ..."
"... Zionism under Likud has played a major role in promoting the neocon approach to foreign policy in the US. It was heavily involved in the birth of that approach, and has helped fund and promote the policy and its supporters and advocates in this country. They (Likud Zionists and Neocons) played a major role in getting us into the Iraq war and are playing a major role in trying to get us involved in a war with Iran, a war in Syria, and even potential wars in Eastern Europe. That is a very dangerous trend and one folks as intelligent as you are, should be focusing on. ..."
"... "nationalist Armageddon that is nowhere found in the article by Sleeper" ..."
"... "The misadventure in Iraq has cost the US and the world a lot. The US a loss in humans and money and willingness to play the role of superpower, and the world has lost its cop. " ..."
"... Tough. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives don't rate a mention. ..."
"... " (let the Russians have their sphere of influence, let the Iranians have their bomb, let the Chinese do whatever they want to do in their part of the world, for after all they hold a trillion dollars in US government debt and so let them act like the boss, for in fact they have been put in that role by feckless and destructive and wasteful US policy). But Sleeper does not say that." ..."
"... But even if we do focus on neocons, neocons don't have opinions about foreign policy and USA dominance that are much distinct from what most Republican interventionists have. How much difference is there between David Frum and Mitt Romney or between Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld? ..."
"... Don't look to the US to get any justice in the ME, nor to regain US good reputation in the world. This will situation will not change because US political campaign fiancé system won't change–it just gets worse, enhanced by SCOTUS. ..."
"... But neoocns have the confidence that if they could impose the neocon's theology on the rest of the world, they can do it here as well on American street . They call it education, motivation, duty, responsibility, moral burden, and above all the essence of the manifest destiny. ..."
mondoweiss.net
May 6, 2014 | mondoweiss.net

At the Huffington Post, Jim Sleeper addresses "A Foreign-Policy Problem No One Speaks About," and it turns out to Jewish identity, the need to belong to the powerful nation on the part of Jewish neoconservatives. Sleeper says this is an insecurity born of European exclusion that he understands as a Jew, even if he's not a warmongering neocon himself. The Yale lecturer's jumping-off point are recent statements by Leon Wieseltier and David Brooks lamenting the decline of American power.

In addition to Wieseltier and Brooks, the "blame the feckless liberals" chorus has included Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan, David Frum, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and many other American neoconservatives. Some of them have been chastened, or at least been made more cautious, by their grand-strategic blunders of a few years ago…..

I'm saying that they've been fatuous as warmongers again and again and that there's something pathetic in their attempts to emulate Winston Churchill, who warned darkly of Hitler's intentions in the 1930s. Their blind spot is their willful ignorance of their own complicity in American deterioration and their over-compensatory, almost pre-adolescent faith in the benevolence of a statist and militarist power they still hope to mobilize against the seductions and terrors rising all around them.

At bottom, the chorus members' recurrent nightmares of 1938 doom them to reenact other nightmares, prompted by very similar writers in 1914, on the eve of World War I. Those writers are depicted chillingly, unforgettably, in Chapter 9, "War Fever," of Amos Elon's The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933. Elon's account of Germany's stampede into World War I chronicles painfully the warmongering hysterics of some Jewish would-be patriots of the Kaiserreich who exerted themselves blindly, romantically, to maneuver their state into the Armageddon that would produce Hitler himself.

This is the place to emphasize that few of Wilhelmine German's warmongers were Jews and that few Jews were or are warmongers. (Me, for example, although my extended-family history isn't much different from Brooks' or Wieseltier's.) My point is simply that, driven by what I recognize as understandable if almost preternatural insecurities and cravings for full liberal-nationalist belonging that was denied to Jews for centuries in Europe, some of today's American super-patriotic neo-conservatives hurled themselves into the Iraq War, and they have continued, again and again, to employ modes of public discourse and politics that echo with eerie fidelity that of the people described in Elon's book. The Americans lionized George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and many others as their predecessors lionized Kaiser Wilhelm, von Bethmann-Hollweg, and far-right nationalist associates who hated the neo-cons of that time but let them play their roles….

Instead of acknowledging their deepest feelings openly, or even to themselves, the writers I've mentioned who've brought so much folly and destruction upon their republic, are doubling down, more nervous and desperate than ever, looking for someone else to blame. Hence their whirling columns and rhythmic incantations. After Germany lost World War I, many Germans unfairly blamed their national folly on Jews, many of whom had served in it loyally but only a few of whom had been provocateurs and cheerleaders like the signatories of [Project for New American Century's] letter to Bush. Now neo-cons, from Wieseltier and Brooks to [Charles] Hill, are blaming Obama and all other feckless liberals. Some of them really need to take a look in Amos Elon's mirror.

Interesting. Though I think Sleeper diminishes Jewish agency here (Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban are no one's proxy) and can't touch the Israel angle. The motivation is not simply romantic identification with power, it's an ideology of religious nationalism in the Middle East, attachment to the needs of a militarist Sparta in the Arab world. That's another foreign policy problem no one speaks about.

Krauss, May 6, 2014, 2:11 pm

"Democracy in in the Middle East" was always just a weasel-word saying of "let's try to improve Israel's strategic position by changing their neighbours".

The neocons basically took a hardline position on foreign interventionism based out of dual loyalty. This is the honest truth. For anti-Semites, a handful of neocons will always represent "The Jews" as a collective. For many Jews, the refusal to come to grips with the rise of the neocons and how the Jewish community (and really by "community" I mean the establishment) failed to prevent them in their own midst, is also a blemish.

Of course, Jim Sleeper is doing these things now. He should have done them 15-20 years ago or so. But better late than never, I guess.

Krauss, May 6, 2014, 2:16 pm

P.S. While we talk a lot about neocons as a Jewish issue, it's also important to put them in perspective. The only war that I can truly think of that they influenced was the Iraq war, which was a disaster, but it also couldn't have happened without 9/11, which was a very rare event in the history of America. You have to go back to Pearl Harbor to find something similar, and that wasn't technically a terrorist attack but rather a military attack by Japan.

Leading up to the early 2000s, they were mostly ignored during the 1990s. They did take over the GOP media in the early 90s, using the same tactics used against Hagel, use social norms as a cover but in actuality the real reason is Israel.

Before the 90s, in the 70s and 80s, the cold war took up all the oxygen.
So yeah, the neocons need to be talked about. But comparing what they are trying to do with a World War is a bit of a stretch.

Finally, talking about Israel – which Sleeper ignored – and the hardline positions that the political class in America have adopted, if you want to look who have ensured the greatest slavishness to Israel, liberal/centrist groups like ADL, AJC and AIPAC(yes, they are mostly democrats!) have played a far greater role than the neocons.

But I guess, Sleeper wasn't dealing with that, because it would ruin his view of the neocons as the bogeymen.

Just like "liberal" Zionists want to blame Likud for everything, overlooking the fact that Labor/Mapai has had a far greater role in settling/colonizing the Palestinian land than the right has, and not to speak about the ethnic cleansing campaigns of '48 and '67 which was only done by the "left", so too the neocons often pose as a convenient catch-all target for the collective Jewish failure leading up to Iraq.

And I'm using the words "collective Jewish failure" because I actually don't believe, unlike Mearsheimer/Walt, that the war would not have gone ahead unless there was massive support by the Israel/Jewish lobby. If Jews had decided no, it would still have gone ahead. This is also contrary to Tom Friedman's famous saying of "50 people in DC are responsible for this war".
I also think that's an oversimplification.

But I focus more on the Jewish side because that's my side. And I want my community to do better, and just blaming the neocons is something I'm tired of hearing in Jewish circles. The inability to look at liberal Jewish journalists and their role in promoting the war to either gentile or Jewish audiences.

Kathleen, May 6, 2014, 6:53 pm

There was talk about this last night (Monday/5th) on Chris Matthew's Hardball segment on Condi "mushroom cloud" Rice pulling out of the graduation ceremonies at Rutger's. David Corn did not say much but Eugene Robinson and Chris Matthews were basically talking about Israel and the neocons desires to rearrange the middle east "the road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad" conversation.

Bumblebye, May 6, 2014, 2:33 pm

"some of today's American super-patriotic neo-conservatives hurled themselves into the Iraq War"

Have to take issue with that – the neo-cons hurled young American (and foreign) servicemen and women into that war, many to their deaths, along with throwing as much taxpayer money as possible. They stayed ultra safe and grew richer for their efforts.

Citizen, May 7, 2014, 9:03 am

@ Bumblebye

Good point. During WW1, as I read the history, the Jewish Germans provided their fair share of combat troops. If memory serves, despite Weimar Germany's later "stab in the back" theory, e.g., Hitler himself was given a combat medal thanks to his Jewish senior officer. In comparison to the build-up to Shrub Jr's war on Iraq, the Jewish neocons provided very few Jewish American combat troops.

It's hard to get reliable stats on Jewish American participation in the US combat arms during the Iraq war. For all I've been able to ascertain, more have joined the IDF over the years. At any rate, it's common knowledge that Shrub's war on Iraq was instigated and supported by chicken hawks (Jew or Gentile) at a time bereft of conscription. They built their sale by ignoring key facts, and embellishing misleading and fake facts, as illustrated by the Downing Street memo.

Keith, May 6, 2014, 7:47 pm

PHIL- Perhaps you are making too much of the so called decline of the neocons. At the strategic level, there is little difference between the neocon "Project for a the New American Century" and Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard," both of which are consistent with US policy and actions in the Ukraine.

The most significant difference seems to me to be the neocon emphasis on American unilateral militarism versus Obama's emphasis on multilateralism, covert operations and financial warfare to achieve the desired results.

Perhaps another significant difference is the neocon emphasis on the primacy of the American nation-state versus the neoliberal emphasis on an American dominated global empire.

So yes, the nationalistic emphasis is an anachronism, however, the decline of the US in conjunction with the extension of a system of globalized domination should hardly be of concern to elite power-seekers who will benefit. In fact, the new system of corporate/financial control will be beyond the political control of any nation, even the US. If they can pull it off. An interesting topic no doubt, but one which I doubt is suitable for extended discussion on Mondoweiss. As for power-seeking as a consequence of a uniquely Jewish experience, perhaps the less said the better.

ToivoS, May 7, 2014, 8:10 pm
Interesting to juxtapose Brzezinski and the neocons. In a Venn diagram they would over-lap 90%. The Ukraine crisis exposes that 10% difference. Brzezinski I very much doubt has any emotional attachment to Israel though he is happy to work in coalition with them to further his one true goal which is to isolate and defeat Russian influence in the world. In the 1980s both were on the same page in the "let my people go" campaign against the Soviet Union. Brzezinski saw it as a propaganda opportunity to attack Russia and the neocons saw it has a source of more Jews to settle Palestine.

Right now, their interests have diverged over the Ukraine crisis. Though many of the American neocons do support subverting Ukraine as does Brzezinski it looks like Israel itself is leaning towards supporting Russia. When it comes down to it it is hard for many Jews, right wing or not, to support the political movement inside Ukraine that identifies with Bandera. Now that was one nasty antisemite whose followers killed many thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the holocaust. My wife's family immigrated from Galicia and the Odessa region and those left behind perished during the holocaust. The extended family includes anti-zionists and WB settlers. There is no way that any of them would identify with Ukrainian fascist movements now active there.

In any case, there does seem to be a potential split among the neocons over Ukraine. It would be the ultimate in hypocrisy for all of those eastern European Jews who became successful in the US in the last few generations to enter into coalition with the Bandera brigades.

RudyM, May 7, 2014, 9:36 pm
Interesting, meaty analysis here of the various players in Ukraine. This is unequivocally from a Russian perspective, incidentally:

link to wikispooks.com

(I know I'm always grabbing OT threads of discussion, but when it comes down to it, I know much less about Zionism and Israel/Palestine than many, if not most of the regular commenters here.)

I also am going to drift further off-topic by saying there is strong evidence that the slaughter in Odessa last Friday was highly orchestrated and not solely the result of spontaneous mob violence. Very graphic and disturbing images in all of these links:

I have only glanced at these:

American, May 6, 2014, 9:23 pm
" and it turns out to Jewish identity, the need to belong to the powerful nation on the part of Jewish neoconservatives. Sleeper says this is an insecurity born of European exclusion that he understands as a Jew,…..>>

Stop it Sleeper. Do not continue to use the victim card ' to explain' the trauma, the insecurities, the nightmares, the angst, the feelings, the sensitivities, blah blah, blah of Zionist or Israel.

That is not what they are about. These are power mad psychos like most neocons, period.

And even if it were, and even if all the Jews in the world felt the same way, the bottom line would still be they do not have the right to make others pay in treasure and blood for their nightmares and mental sickness.

Citizen May 7, 2014, 9:46 am
@ yonah fredman

"The freedom of Ukraine is a worthy goal."

As near as I can tell (correct me if I'm wrong), the Ukrainians themselves are about half and half pro Russia and Pro NATO. Your glance at the history of the region as to why this is so, and your text on historical Ukranian suffering and POTV on MW commentary on this –did not help your analysis and its conclusion.

There's a difference between isolationism and defensive intervention, and even more so, re isolationism v. pro-active interventionism "in the name of pursuing the democratic ideal". See Ron Paul v. PNAC-style neocons and liberal Zionists.

Also, if you were Putin, how would you see the push of NATO & US force posts ever creeping towards Russia and its local environment? Look at the US military postings nearing Russia per se & those surrounding Iran. Compare Russia's.

And note the intent to wean EU from Russian oil, and as well, the draconian sanctions on Iran, and Obama's latest partnering sanctions on Russia.

Imagine yourself in Putin's shoes, and Iran's.

Don't abuse your imagination only by imagining yourself in Netanyahu's shoes, which is the preoccupation of AIPAC and its whores in the US Congress.

ToivoS, May 7, 2014, 8:49 pm

Interesting to juxtapose Brzezinski and the neocons. In a Venn diagram they would over-lap 90%. The Ukraine crisis exposes that 10% difference. Brzezinski I very much doubt has any emotional attachment to Israel though he is happy to work in coalition with them to further his one true goal which is to isolate and defeat Russian influence in the world. In the 1980s both were on the same page in the "let my people go" campaign against the Soviet Union. Brzezinski saw it as a propaganda opportunity to attack Russia and the neocons saw it has a source of more Jews to settle Palestine.

Right now, their interests have diverged over the Ukraine crisis. Though many of the American neocons do support subverting Ukraine as does Brzezinski it looks like Israel itself is leaning towards supporting Russia. When it comes down to it it is hard for many Jews, right wing or not, to support the political movement inside Ukraine that identifies with Bandera. Now that was one nasty anti-Semite whose followers killed many thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the holocaust. My wife's family immigrated from Galicia and the Odessa region and those left behind perished during the holocaust. The extended family includes anti-Zionists and WB settlers. There is no way that any of them would identify with Ukrainian fascist movements now active there.

In any case, there does seem to be a potential split among the neocons over Ukraine. It would be the ultimate in hypocrisy for all of those eastern European Jews who became successful in the US in the last few generations to enter into coalition with the Bandera brigades.

ToivoSMay 7, 2014, 9:39 pm
Yonah writes The freedom of Ukraine is a worthy goal. If the US is not able to back up our attempt to help them gain their freedom it is not something to celebrate, but something to lament.

What are you saying? Ukraine has been an independent nation for 22 years. What freedom is this? What we have witnessed is that one half of Ukraine has gotten tired that the other half keeps on electing candidates that represent those Ukrainians that identify with Russian culture. They (the western half) successfully staged a coup and purged the other (eastern half) from the government. You call that "freedom". Doesn't it embarrass you, Yonah, that the armed militias that conducted that coup are descendants of the Bandera organization.

Does that ring a bell? These are the Ukrainians that were involved in the holocaust. Does Babi Yar stir any memories Yohan? It was a massacre of 40,000 Jews just outside of Kiev in 1942. It was the single largest massacre of Jews during WWII. The massacre was led by the Germans ( Einsatzgruppe C officers) but was carried out with the aid of 400 Ukrainian Auxillary Police. These were later incorporated into the 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galician" made up mostly Ukrainians. The division flags are to this day displayed at Right Sector rallies in western Ukraine.

Right Sector militias are the fighting force that led the coup against the legally elected Yanukovich government and were almost certainly involved in the recent massacre in Odessa. And you support them for their fight for freedom? You should be ashamed. Zionism is sinking to new lows that they feel the need to identify with open neo-Nazis.

piotrMay 7, 2014, 10:18 pm
Well, the point is that Zionists in Israel do not identify with that particular set of open neo-Nazis. I suspect that this is simply a matter of the headcount of Jewish business tycoons that are politically aligned with (western) Ukraine and Russia. Or you can count their billions. In any case, the neutral posture is sensible for Israel here. Which is highly uncharacteristic for that government.

yonah fredman, May 7, 2014, 10:38 pm

Toivo S- The history of Jew hatred by certain anti Russian elements in the Ukraine is not encouraging and nothing that I celebrate. Maybe I have been swayed by headlines and a superficial reading of the situation.

If indeed I am wrong regarding the will of the Ukrainian people, I can only be glad that my opinion is just that, my opinion and not US or Israel or anyone's policy but my own. I assume that a majority of Ukrainians want to maintain independence of Russia and that the expressions of rebellion are in that vein.

My people were murdered by the einsatzgruppen in that part of the world and so maybe I have overcompensated by trying not to allow my personal history to interfere with what I think would be the will of the majority of the Ukraine.

But Toivo S. please skip the "doesn't it embarrass you" line of thought. Just put a sock in it and skip it.

ToivoSMay 8, 2014, 12:51 am

Well thanks for that Yonah. My wife's family descended from Jewish communities in Odessa and Galicia. They emigrated to the US between 1900 and 1940. After WWII none of their relatives left behind were ever heard from again. Perhaps you have family that experienced similar stories. What caused me to react to your post above is that you are describing the current situation in Ukraine as a "freedom" movement by the Ukrainians when the political forces there descended from the same people that killed my inlaws family (and apparently yours to). Why do you support them?

yonah fredmanMay 8, 2014, 1:30 am

ToivoS- I support them because I trust/don't trust Putin. I trust him to impose his brand of leadership on Ukraine, I don't trust him to care a whit about freedom. It is natural that the nationalist elements of Ukraine would descend from the elements that expressed themselves the last time they had freedom from the Soviet Union, that is those forces that were willing to join with the Nazis to express their hatred for the communist Soviet Union's rule over their freedom. That's how history works. The nationalists today descend from the nationalists of yesterday.

But it's been 70 years since WWII and the Ukrainians ought to be able to have freedom even if the parties that advocate for freedom are descended from those that supported the Nazis. (I know once i include the Nazi part of history any analogies are toxic, but if I am willing to grant Hamas its rights as an expression of the Palestinian desire for freedom, why would I deny the Ukrainian foul nationalist parties their rights to express their people's desire for freedom.)

Political parties are not made in a sterile laboratory, they evolve over history and most specifically they emerge from the past. I accept that Ukrainian nationalism has not evolved much, but nonetheless not having read any polls I assume that the nationalists are the representatives of the people's desire for freedom. And because Putin strikes me as something primitive, I accept the Ukrainian desire for freedom.

CitizenMay 8, 2014, 9:18 am

@ yonah f

What are you supporting? Let me refresh your historic memory: Black's Transfer Agreement. Now apply analogy, responding to ToivoS. Might help us all to understand, explore more skillfully, Israel's current stance on the Putin-Ukranian matter….?

(I think Nuland's intervention caught on tape, combined with who she is married to, already explores with great clarification what the US is doing.

irishmosesMay 8, 2014, 12:32 pm

Yonah said:

"The misadventure in Iraq has cost the US and the world a lot. The US a loss in humans and money and willingness to play the role of superpower, and the world has lost its cop. Most people here would probably disagree with Sleeper, because he does not deny that the world needs a cop, nor that the US would play a positive role, if it only had the means and the desire to do so. People here (overwhelmingly) see the US role as a negative one (let the Russians have their sphere of influence, let the Iranians have their bomb, let the Chinese do whatever they want to do in their part of the world,"

The problem with your reasoning, Yonah, is that you are espousing the Neocon line while not apparently recognizing that embarrassing fact. You lament that the US is no longer playing the role of the world's superpower, and acting as the world's cop, confronting militarily Russia, China, Iran and anyone else. It is precisely that mentality that got us into Iraq, could yet have us in a war with Iran, would like to see us defending Ukraine, and thinks we should confront China militarily over bits of rock it and its neighbors are quibbling over. That is a neocon, American supremacy mentality.

Contrast that with the realist or realism approach recommended by George Kennan, and followed by this country successfully through the end of the Cold War. That approach is conservative and contends we should stay out of wars unless the vital national security interests of the US are at stake, like protecting WESTERN Europe, Japan, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere. This meant we could sympathize with the plight of all the eastern Europeans oppressed by the Soviets, but would not defend militarily the Hungarians (1956) or the Czechs (1968). It also meant we wouldn't send US troops into North Vietnam because we didn't want to go to war with the Chinese over a country that was at best tangential to US interests. When we varied from that policy (Vietnam and Iraq wars, Somalia) we paid a very heavy price while doing nothing to advance or protect our vital national security interests.

The sooner this country can return to our traditional realism-based foreign policy the better. Part of that policy would be to disassociate the US from its entangling alliance with Likud Israel and its US Jewish supporters that espouse the Likud Greater Israel line.

Zionism under Likud has played a major role in promoting the neocon approach to foreign policy in the US. It was heavily involved in the birth of that approach, and has helped fund and promote the policy and its supporters and advocates in this country. They (Likud Zionists and Neocons) played a major role in getting us into the Iraq war and are playing a major role in trying to get us involved in a war with Iran, a war in Syria, and even potential wars in Eastern Europe. That is a very dangerous trend and one folks as intelligent as you are, should be focusing on.

Please note, my criticism is directed neither at all Jews in general, Jews in the US, nor or all Israeli Jews. It is directed at a particular subset of Zionists who support Likud policies, and their supporters, many of whom are not Jews. It is also directed at Neoconservative foreign policy advocates, comprised of Jews and non-Jews, and overlap between the two groups. Please also note my use of the term "major role", and that I am not saying the Neocons and their supporters (Jewish or non) were solely responsible for our involvement in the Iraq war. I am offering these caveats in the hope that the usual changes of antisemitism can be avoided in your or anyone else's response to my arguments.

The influence of Neocons on US foreign policy has been very harmful to this country and poses a grave danger to its future. It would be wise for you to reflect on that harm and those dangers and decide whether you belong in the realist camp or want to continue running with the Neocons.

seanmcbride, May 8, 2014, 1:01 pm

irishmoses,

Please note, my criticism is directed neither at all Jews in general, Jews in the US, nor or all Israeli Jews. It is directed at a particular subset of Zionists who support Likud policies, and their supporters, many of whom are not Jews.

What about the role of *liberal Zionists*, like Hillary Clinton, in supporting and promoting the Iraq War? Clinton still hasn't offered an apology for helping to drive the United States in a multi-trillion dollar foreign policy disaster - and she has threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran.

What about Harry Reid's lavish praise of Sheldon Adelson?

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has for some time billed the Koch brothers as public enemy No.1 .

But billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson? He's just fine, Reid says.

"I know Sheldon Adelson. He's not in this for money," the Nevada Democrat said of Adelson, the Vegas casino magnate who reportedly spent close to $150 million to support Republicans in the 2012 presidential election."

link to politico.com

Are there really any meaningful distinctions between neoconservatives in the Republican Party and liberal Zionists in the Democratic Party?

talknic, May 7, 2014, 3:24 am

@ yonah fredman "nationalist Armageddon that is nowhere found in the article by Sleeper"

Strange

"state into the Armageddon .. "

"The misadventure in Iraq has cost the US and the world a lot. The US a loss in humans and money and willingness to play the role of superpower, and the world has lost its cop. "

Tough. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives don't rate a mention.

" (let the Russians have their sphere of influence, let the Iranians have their bomb, let the Chinese do whatever they want to do in their part of the world, for after all they hold a trillion dollars in US government debt and so let them act like the boss, for in fact they have been put in that role by feckless and destructive and wasteful US policy). But Sleeper does not say that."

You do tho, without quoting anyone "here".

BTW Pajero, strawmen no matter how lengthy and seemingly erudite, rarely walk anywhere

JeffB, May 7, 2014, 9:06 am

I'm going to put this down as Jewish navel gazing.

Jews are disproportionately liberal. Jews make up a huge chunk of the peace movement. Jews are relative to their numbers on the left of most foreign policy positions.

Iraq was unusual in that Jews were not overwhelming opposed to the invasion, but it is worth noting the invasion at the time was overwhelming popular. Frankly given the fact that Jews are now considered white people and the fact that Jews are almost all middle class they should be biased conservative. There certainly is no reason they should be more liberal than Catholics. Yet they are. It is the degree of Jewish liberalism not the degree of Jewish conservatism that is striking.

But even if we do focus on neocons, neocons don't have opinions about foreign policy and USA dominance that are much distinct from what most Republican interventionists have. How much difference is there between David Frum and Mitt Romney or between Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld?

lysias, May 7, 2014, 10:55 am

The neocons lost one last night: Antiwar Rep. Walter Jones Beats Neocon-Backed GOP Rival:

Strongly antiwar incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R – NC) has won a hotly contested primary tonight, defeating a challenge from hawkish challenger and former Treasury Dept. official Taylor Griffin 51% to 45%.

American, May 7, 2014, 11:24 am

Yep.

Voter turn out was light ….. tea party types did a lot of lobbying for Griffin here….but Jones prevailed. Considering the onslaught of organized activity against him by ECI and the tea partiers for the past month he did well.

Citizen, May 8, 2014, 9:24 am

@ lysias
Let's refresh our look at what Ron Paul had to say about foreign policy and foreign aid. Then, let's compare what his son has said, and take a look of his latest bill in congress to cut off aid to Palestine. Yes, you read that right; it's not a bill to cut off any aid to Israel.

Don't look to the US to get any justice in the ME, nor to regain US good reputation in the world. This will situation will not change because US political campaign fiancé system won't change–it just gets worse, enhanced by SCOTUS.

traintosiberia, May 8, 2014, 9:12 am

Stockman's Corner

Bravo, Rep. Walter Jones -- Primary Win Sends Neocons Packing

by David Stockman • May 7, 2014 link to davidstockmanscontracorner.com

The heavy artillery included the detestable Karl Rove, former Governor and RNC Chair Haley Barber and the War Party's highly paid chief PR flack, Ari Fleischer.

But it was Neocon central that hauled out the big guns. Bill Kristol was so desperate to thwart the slowly rising anti-interventionist tide within the GOP that he even trotted out Sarah Palin to endorse Jones's opponent"

But neoocns have the confidence that if they could impose the neocon's theology on the rest of the world, they can do it here as well on American street . They call it education, motivation, duty, responsibility, moral burden, and above all the essence of the manifest destiny.

[Dec 23, 2015] The Neocons - Masters of Chaos

Notable quotes:
"... It's now clear that if Obama had ordered a major bombing campaign against Assad's military in early September 2013, he might have opened the gates of Damascus to a hellish victory by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists or the even more brutal Islamic State, since these terrorist groups have emerged as the only effective fighters against Assad. ..."
"... By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia's sphere of influence and into the West's orbit. ..."
"... But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, "may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself." In other words, the new neocon hope was for "regime change" in Kiev and Moscow. [See Consortiumnews.com's " Neocons' Ukraine/Syria/Iran Gambit. "] ..."
"... Putin also had sidetracked that possible war with Iran by helping to forge an interim agreement constraining but not eliminating Iran's nuclear program. So, he became the latest target of neocon demonization, a process in which the New York Times and the Washington Post eagerly took the lead. ..."
"... As the political violence in Kiev escalated – with the uprising's muscle supplied by neo-Nazi militias from western Ukraine – neocons within the Obama administration discussed how to "midwife" a coup against Yanukovych. Central to this planning was Victoria Nuland, who had been promoted to assistant secretary of state for European affairs and was urging on the protesters, even passing out cookies to protesters at Kiev's Maidan square. ..."
"... When the coup went down on Feb. 22 – spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias who seized government buildings and forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives – the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the new regime "legitimate" and the mainstream U.S. media dutifully stepped up the demonization of Yanukovych and Putin. ..."
"... Although Putin's position had been in support of Ukraine's status quo – i.e., retaining the elected president and the country's constitutional process – the crisis was pitched to the American people as a case of "Russian aggression" with dire comparisons made between Putin and Hitler, especially after ethnic Russians in the east and south resisted the coup regime in Kiev and Crimea seceded to rejoin Russia. ..."
"... Pressured by the Obama administration, the EU agreed to sanction Russia for its "aggression," touching off a tit-for-tat trade war with Moscow which reduced Europe's sale of farming and manufacturing goods to Russia and threatened to disrupt Russia's natural gas supplies to Europe. ..."
"... While the most serious consequences were to Ukraine's economy which went into freefall because of the civil war, some of Europe's most endangered economies in the south also were hit hard by the lost trade with Russia. Europe began to stagger toward the third dip in a triple-dip recession with European markets experiencing major stock sell-offs. ..."
Oct 17, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

If you're nervously watching the stock market gyrations and worrying about your declining portfolio or pension fund, part of the blame should go to America's neocons who continue to be masters of chaos, endangering the world's economy by instigating geopolitical confrontations in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Of course, there are other factors pushing Europe's economy to the brink of a triple-dip recession and threatening to stop America's fragile recovery, too. But the neocons' "regime change" strategies, which have unleashed violence and confrontations across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and most recently Ukraine, have added to the economic uncertainty.

This neocon destabilization of the world economy began with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush who squandered some $1 trillion on the bloody folly. But the neocons' strategies have continued through their still-pervasive influence in Official Washington during President Barack Obama's administration.

The neocons and their "liberal interventionist" junior partners have kept the "regime change" pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

All these targeted governments were first ostracized by the neocons and the major U.S. news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have become what amounts to neocon mouthpieces. Whenever the neocons decide that it's time for another "regime change," the mainstream U.S. media enlists in the propaganda wars.

The consequence of this cascading disorder has been damaging and cumulative. The costs of the Iraq War strapped the U.S. Treasury and left less government maneuvering room when Wall Street crashed in 2008. If Bush still had the surplus that he inherited from President Bill Clinton – rather than a yawning deficit – there might have been enough public money to stimulate a much-faster recovery.

President Obama also wouldn't have been left to cope with the living hell that the U.S. occupation brought to the people of Iraq, violent chaos that gave birth to what was then called "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" and has since rebranded itself "the Islamic State."

But Obama didn't do himself (or the world) any favors when he put much of his foreign policy in the hands of Democratic neocon-lites, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Bush holdovers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus. At State, Clinton promoted the likes of neocon Victoria Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, and Obama brought in "liberal interventionists" like Samantha Power, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In recent years, the neocons and "liberal interventionists" have become almost indistinguishable, so much so that Robert Kagan has opted to discard the discredited neocon label and call himself a "liberal interventionist." [See Consortiumnews.com's "Obama's True Foreign Policy 'Weakness.'"]

Manipulating Obama

Obama, in his nearly six years as president, also has shied away from imposing his more "realistic" views about world affairs on the neocon/liberal-interventionist ideologues inside the U.S. pundit class and his own administration. He has been outmaneuvered by clever insiders (as happened in 2009 on the Afghan "surge") or overwhelmed by some Official Washington "group think" (as was the case in Libya, Syria, Iran and Ukraine).

Once all the "smart people" reach some collective decision that a foreign leader "must go," Obama usually joins the chorus and has shown only rare moments of toughness in standing up to misguided conventional wisdoms.

The one notable case was his decision in summer 2013 to resist pressure to destroy Syria's military after a Sarin gas attack outside Damascus sparked a dubious rush to judgment blaming Assad's regime. Since then, more evidence has pointed to a provocation by anti-Assad extremists who may have thought that the incident would draw in the U.S. military on their side. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Was Turkey Behind Syrian Sarin Attack?"]

It's now clear that if Obama had ordered a major bombing campaign against Assad's military in early September 2013, he might have opened the gates of Damascus to a hellish victory by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists or the even more brutal Islamic State, since these terrorist groups have emerged as the only effective fighters against Assad.

But the neocons and the "liberal interventionists" seemed oblivious to that danger. They had their hearts set on Syrian "regime change," so were furious when their dreams were dashed by Obama's supposed "weakness," i.e. his failure to do what they wanted. They also blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin who brokered a compromise with Assad in which he agreed to surrender all of Syria's chemical weapons while still denying a role in the Sarin attack.

By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia's sphere of influence and into the West's orbit.

So, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to sound the trumpet about Ukraine, which he called "the biggest prize."

But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, "may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself." In other words, the new neocon hope was for "regime change" in Kiev and Moscow. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Neocons' Ukraine/Syria/Iran Gambit."]

Destabilizing the World

Beyond the recklessness of plotting to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia, the neocon strategy threatened to shake Europe's fragile economic recovery from a painful recession, six years of jobless stress that had strained the cohesion of the European Union and the euro zone.

Across the Continent, populist parties from the Right and Left have been challenging establishment politicians over their inability to reverse the widespread unemployment and the growing poverty. Important to Europe's economy was its relationship with Russia, a major market for agriculture and manufactured goods and a key source of natural gas to keep Europe's industries humming and its houses warm.

The last thing Europe needed was more chaos, but that's what the neocons do best and they were determined to punish Putin for disrupting their plans for Syrian "regime change," an item long near the top of their agenda along with their desire to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," which Israel has cited as an "existential threat."

Putin also had sidetracked that possible war with Iran by helping to forge an interim agreement constraining but not eliminating Iran's nuclear program. So, he became the latest target of neocon demonization, a process in which the New York Times and the Washington Post eagerly took the lead.

To get at Putin, however, the first step was Ukraine where Gershman's NED was funding scores of programs for political activists and media operatives. These efforts fed into mass protests against Ukrainian President Yanukovych for balking at an EU association agreement that included a harsh austerity plan designed by the International Monetary Fund. Yanukovych opted instead for a more generous $15 billion loan deal from Putin.

As the political violence in Kiev escalated – with the uprising's muscle supplied by neo-Nazi militias from western Ukraine – neocons within the Obama administration discussed how to "midwife" a coup against Yanukovych. Central to this planning was Victoria Nuland, who had been promoted to assistant secretary of state for European affairs and was urging on the protesters, even passing out cookies to protesters at Kiev's Maidan square.

According to an intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland didn't think EU officials were being aggressive enough. "Fuck the EU," she said as she brainstormed how "to help glue this thing." She literally handpicked who should be in the post-coup government – "Yats is the guy," a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who would indeed become prime minister.

When the coup went down on Feb. 22 – spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias who seized government buildings and forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives – the U.S. State Department quickly deemed the new regime "legitimate" and the mainstream U.S. media dutifully stepped up the demonization of Yanukovych and Putin.

Although Putin's position had been in support of Ukraine's status quo – i.e., retaining the elected president and the country's constitutional process – the crisis was pitched to the American people as a case of "Russian aggression" with dire comparisons made between Putin and Hitler, especially after ethnic Russians in the east and south resisted the coup regime in Kiev and Crimea seceded to rejoin Russia.

Starting a Trade War

Pressured by the Obama administration, the EU agreed to sanction Russia for its "aggression," touching off a tit-for-tat trade war with Moscow which reduced Europe's sale of farming and manufacturing goods to Russia and threatened to disrupt Russia's natural gas supplies to Europe.

While the most serious consequences were to Ukraine's economy which went into freefall because of the civil war, some of Europe's most endangered economies in the south also were hit hard by the lost trade with Russia. Europe began to stagger toward the third dip in a triple-dip recession with European markets experiencing major stock sell-offs.

The dominoes soon toppled across the Atlantic as major U.S. stock indices dropped, creating anguish among many Americans just when it seemed the hangover from Bush's 2008 market crash was finally wearing off.

Obviously, there are other reasons for the recent stock market declines, including fears about the Islamic State's victories in Syria and Iraq, continued chaos in Libya, and exclusion of Iran from the global economic system – all partly the result of neocon ideology. There have been unrelated troubles, too, such as the Ebola epidemic in western Africa and various weather disasters.

But the world's economy usually can withstand some natural and manmade challenges. The real problem comes when a combination of catastrophes pushes the international financial system to a tipping point. Then, even a single event can dump the world into economic chaos, like what happened when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

It's not clear whether the world is at such a tipping point today, but the stock market volatility suggests that we may be on the verge of another worldwide recession. Meanwhile, the neocon masters of chaos seem determined to keep putting their ideological obsessions ahead of the risks to Americans and people everywhere.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

[Dec 22, 2015] Destruction of the financial system of Ukraine is complete

Essentially it got "below junk" rating...
Notable quotes:
"... How could Ukraine's government deficit only be 4.1% when its currency has crashed, it has lost most of its sources of income and it has just defaulted on its debt? What the fuck are they talking about? ..."
"... First, there is no way on God's green earth that there is a negative difference of only 4.1% between Ukraine's annual revenues and its annual expenditures, especially since it has almost no revenues except from taxation. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 6:43 pm

According to Madame Jaresko, their decision not to pay the $3 Billion bond to Russia has set Ukraine free, free as a bird, and allowed it to now be in full compliance with the financing requirements of the IMF program.

Start shovelin' in the money, IMF, because Ukraine has the magic formula – just refuse to pay what you owe, call it a 'temporary suspension of payments' instead of 'a default', and reap the reward for your display of responsibility.

I foresee the mileage Russia is going to get out of this will far exceed the value of the $3 Billion.

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm

How could Ukraine's government deficit only be 4.1% when its currency has crashed, it has lost most of its sources of income and it has just defaulted on its debt? What the fuck are they talking about?

"The proposed budget would work to reduce the government's deficit from 4.1% to 3.7%, with measures including an increase in revenue by widening the tax base."

First, there is no way on God's green earth that there is a negative difference of only 4.1% between Ukraine's annual revenues and its annual expenditures, especially since it has almost no revenues except from taxation.

And now the IMF expects to realize more revenue from widening the tax base – yes, I can imagine what a popular initiative that is. Now you know how Yushchenko felt, Yatsie, when the IMF denied him a second big loan because he refused to eliminate the gas subsidies to residents.

Now the IMF has finally realized that triumph through a different leader, and it wants to see even more tax revenue. You are about to be as popular as a turd in the punch bowl; have fun with that.

kirill, December 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I would not trust any GDP numbers from the Kiev regime either. They lost 25% of the economy in the Donbas alone not counting Crimea. This has knock on effects to the rest of Banderastan. Yet they are yapping about some 12% contraction in 2015 after a 7% contraction in 2014. I see no clear indication that they are counting the GDP only for regime controlled Banderastan.

As for the budget, according to regime officials, Banderastan lost 30% of its hard currency revenues with the loss of the Donbass. I estimate the tax loss to Kiev to be about 30% as well.

The Donbass was the industrialized part of the country while western Banderastan is primarily agrarian. So talk about 4% shortfalls in revenue is utter rubbish. In most countries the money making parts of the economy subsidize the rest and sure as hell it was not western Banderastan that was subsidizing the Donbass. That was just virulent blood libel such as the claim that Russians settled eastern Ukraine only after the Holodomor.

marknesop, December 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Europe deserves Ukraine. Let them have it, the quicker the better. It's fine when Yats is selling that stinking mess to his simple-minded constituents, but European policymakers will see through it right away. Unfortunately, Brussels knows better than to bring Ukraine any closer into the fold, because if they get a visa-free regime, the place will empty out in a week as Ukrainians flee throughout Europe (which is already, everyone must know, full of refugees) looking for jobs.

[Dec 22, 2015] Americas Double Standard on Trade

Dec 22, 2015 | naked capitalism
Yves here. If you followed the TransPacific Partnership negotiations closely, you may recall that Japan looked like it was going along only to placate Washington, and then it signed up only because the US allowed it to drop its "defense only" posture (remember that Japan is a military protectorate of the US) and gave major concession on agriculture (Japan's farmers are a famously powerful voting block). But even then, Japan is not firmly in the US fold. It has made clear that the US needs to get a deal done pronto.

By contrast, this post describes the US foot-dragging and gamesmanship to protect US agricultural interests from competition from developing economies.

Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman delivered his plenary statement to the trade ministers gathered in Nairobi for the World Trade Organization's tenth ministerial conference. His statement, which calls for the abandonment of the Doha Development Round in favor of negotiations on new issues of more strategic interest to the United States, deserve a response from a countryman.

Mr. Froman calls on trade representatives "to move beyond the cynical repetition of positions designed to produce deadlock." Yet this is precisely what Mr. Froman has come to Nairobi to repeat: U.S. positions designed to produce deadlock.

He decries the lack of progress in the last 15 years of Doha negotiations, yet he fails to acknowledge that the United States has been, and remains, the principal reason for that failure. Since 2008, when negotiations broke down, the U.S. has refused to continue negotiating on the key issues central to the development agenda – reducing agricultural subsidies, allowing developing countries special protection measures for agriculture, eliminating export subsidies and credits, and a host of other issues.

Those issues remain critical to developing countries, and U.S. intransigence in addressing those concerns is the main reason Doha has stagnated. In addition, the U.S. has introduced new issues to create further obstacles to progress, such as its objection to India's ambitious and laudable public stockholding program to provide food security to fully two-thirds of its people.

The draft declaration on agriculture in Nairobi offers no progress on resolving this issue, despite the explicit commitment in Bali and later in Geneva to find a permanent solution that can allow India and other countries to pursue such programs.

That is not the only developing country issue left unaddressed. The declaration offers nothing to developing countries to allow them to protect sensitive sectors from unfair or sudden import surges, the Special Safeguard Mechanism. It offers no meaningful cuts in U.S. export credits, which have favored U.S. exporters to Africa with some $1.25 billion in credits over the last six years.

Perhaps most notably, the declaration makes no mention of the key issue in the Doha Round: reductions in rich country agricultural subsidies and supports. With crop prices low and a new Farm Bill authorizing rising levels of support to U.S. farmers and exporters, this omission is a direct blow to those developing countries which see their farmers and export prospects harmed by underpriced U.S. exports.

Nor does Mr. Froman mention cotton subsidies, an issue which the United States and the WTO membership committed to address "expeditiously" ten long years ago in Hong Kong. The issue remains unresolved, and the draft agriculture text fails to offer anything to Africa's C-4 cotton producing countries, which have millions of poor farmers desperately in need of relief.

Instead, the U.S. Farm Bill promises further price suppression. According to a recent study, cotton subsidies could total $1.5 billion, increasing U.S. exports 29% and suppressing prices by 7%. All cotton producers in the rest of the world will suffer an estimated $3.3 billion in annual losses, with India projected to lose $800 million per year.

The C-4 countries as a group stand to lose $80 million a year in reduced income, a huge blow to struggling farmers in low-income countries.

Mr. Froman touts the ways U.S. policy has moved forward beyond Doha. He says the United States extended the African Growth and Opportunity Act by a decade, "the longest extension in that program's history." That limited extension of trade preferences to African countries last year provided a paltry $264,000 in benefits to the C-4 countries. The projected losses from U.S. cotton dumping are 300 times greater.

Mr. Froman concludes that with a new approach that abandons the development round while taking up issues of investment, procurement, and other matters of priority to the United States, "we can ensure that global trade will drive development and prosperity as strongly this century as it did in the last."

The U.S. Trade Representative seems to have conveniently forgotten that the Doha Development Round he wants to sweep aside was a direct response to the fact that global trade rules in the last century failed to drive development and prosperity, at least for many developing countries.

As a U.S. researcher long engaged with the issues of concern to developing countries, I find Mr. Froman's approach shameful. Multilateralism demands engagement and compromise, particularly in a "development round" designed to address past inequities. Mr. Froman is unfortunately offering nothing more than "the cynical repetition of positions designed to produce deadlock." The latest in a steady stream of U.S. hypocrisy.

By Timothy Wise, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University. Originally published in The Standard (Nairobi, Kenya)

[Dec 21, 2015] Australians has doubts about Dutch safety board conclusion about the type of monitions that destroyed the aircraft

Notable quotes:
"... "initial information that the aircraft was shot down by a [Buk] surface to air missile" did not meet the Australian or international standard of evidence …." ..."
"... What will happen to the resolve of the holdouts if the narrative on MH17 begins to veer away from rock-solid Russian ownership of the tragedy? Because that was the whole backbone of the sanctions – Crimea was not enough to get Germany and France on board, and they still needed the little push that MH17 provided. If that rationale vanished, or even if serious doubt was introduced, the whole EU position on sanctions could fall apart. ..."
"... It's bigger than I thought – there is some sort of internal power struggle going on, and West refuses to change his findings – which still point to Russia for responsibility – in spite of Donoghoe's testimony. ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
Jen, December 19, 2015 at 7:12 pm
Wooooh, this news is a doozy:

http://johnhelmer.net/?p=14787
http://investmentwatchblog.com/mh17-australia-say-russia-not-to-blame-evidence-tampered-with/

First two paragraphs:
"The Australian Federal Police and Dutch police and prosecutors investigating the cause of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 believe the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has failed to provide "conclusive evidence" of what type of munition destroyed the aircraft, causing the deaths of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Testifying for the first time in an international court, Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghoe, the senior Australian policeman in the international MH17 investigation, said a "tougher standard than the DSB report" is required before the criminal investigation can identify the weapon which brought the aircraft down, or pinpoint the perpetrators.

Their criminal investigation will continue into 2016, Donoghoe told the Victorian Coroners Court (lead image) on Tuesday morning. He and other international investigators are unconvinced by reports from the US and Ukrainian governments, and by the DSB, of a Buk missile firing. "Dutch prosecutors require conclusive evidence on other types of missile," Donoghoe said, intimating that "initial information that the aircraft was shot down by a [Buk] surface to air missile" did not meet the Australian or international standard of evidence …."

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm
Great catch, Jen!! Wow, you're right – this is big, especially in view of the wavering by some EU members on sanctions. I wonder what Merkel has up her sleeve; she says Germany – while going ahead with Nord Stream II, which is "first and foremost a business proposition" – is "seeking ways to ensure that Ukraine is not completely excluded as a transit country".

Ummm…what role would that be? Because if, in exchange for pushing ahead on Nord Stream, Russia is maneuvered into still sending gas through Ukraine so that Ukraine can collect transit fees, the project would be self-defeating. I trust the business minds in Russia are sharp enough to stay ahead of that one. Ukraine will still receive gas from Russia, if it wants it and can pay in advance for it, but it will be for domestic supplies only and consequently not subject to transit fees. Russia must not weaken on this, because the EU still hopes to rebuild Ukraine using Russian money, and it cannot do it without Russian help and support. If that is withheld, Russia only needs to wait them out.

Needless to say, Tusk supports Renzi's position, not because he is an Italiophile but because he supports Ukraine and would like to see it remain a transit country, and pocketing $2 Billion a year in Russian cash.

What will happen to the resolve of the holdouts if the narrative on MH17 begins to veer away from rock-solid Russian ownership of the tragedy? Because that was the whole backbone of the sanctions – Crimea was not enough to get Germany and France on board, and they still needed the little push that MH17 provided. If that rationale vanished, or even if serious doubt was introduced, the whole EU position on sanctions could fall apart.

marknesop, December 19, 2015 at 8:37 pm

It's bigger than I thought – there is some sort of internal power struggle going on, and West refuses to change his findings – which still point to Russia for responsibility – in spite of Donoghoe's testimony. There were revelations in the original post such as that Australia had sought permission from the Novorossiyan authorities to collect evidence and artifacts, as well as Kiev – thereby implicitly recognizing Novorossiya – and that when it solicited witnesses to testify, some agreed only on the condition their names would not be revealed, that the Ukrainian authorities would not be involved and that the investigators would protect them. Sure sounds like they want to say something they know the Ukrainian government will punish them for saying, if it can identify them. This whole inquiry just got interesting again.

At the moment it looks like a faction of the Australian investigation disagrees with the pat finding of the Dutch, but the Victorian state coroner is totally on board with the "Russia did it" scenario and is determined to have his way no matter how foolish it makes him look. This one could go anywhere from here.

Moscow Exile, December 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Clearly that Aussie cop is in the pocket of the Evil One!

Isn't he the one who said earlier that the Russian-backed terrorists at the MH-17 crash site behaved like decent human beings and treated the crash victims' remains with dignity and did not loot their belongings?

I mean, what a ludicrous thing to say!

Everyone knows that these Russian beasts are ….blah, blah, blah ...

davidt, December 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Donoghue is not the only AFP cop speaking up for the crash site locals. Their sensitivity and humanity is a rather at odds with a disparaging comment about the AFP on these pages over a year ago (and which I objected to at the time). I noticed last week that Patrick Armstrong is now reconsidering the Sukhoi did it scenario because of an apparent lack of fragments from a Buk warhead.

This has always been a serious concern to the Russian investigators, see
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/10/russians-angered-dutch-probe


[Dec 20, 2015] Michael Hudson The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia

Notable quotes:
"... By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is ..."
"... KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy ..."
"... What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia's sovereign debt fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding new credit from countries in default of foreign official debts (or at least, not bargaining in good faith to pay). To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London's creditor-oriented rules and courts. ..."
"... After the rules change, Aslund later noted, "the IMF can continue to give Ukraine loans regardless of what Ukraine does about its credit from Russia, which falls due on December 20. [8] ..."
"... The post-2010 loan packages to Greece are a notorious case in point. The IMF staff calculated that Greece could not possibly pay the balance that was set to bail out foreign banks and bondholders. Many Board members agreed (and subsequently have gone public with their whistle-blowing). Their protests didn't matter. Dominique Strauss-Kahn backed the US-ECB position (after President Barack Obama and Treasury secretary Tim Geithner pointed out that U.S. banks had written credit default swaps betting that Greece could pay, and would lose money if there were a debt writedown). In 2015, Christine Lagarde also backed the U.S.-European Central Bank hard line, against staff protests. [10] ..."
"... China and Russia harbored the fantasy that would be allowed redress in the Western Courts where international law is metered out. They are now no longer under that delusion. ..."
"... It's not Hudson but the US that has simplified the entire world situation into "good guys vs. bad guys", a policy enshrined in Rumsfeld's statement "you're either with us or you're against us". ..."
"... what is left unsaid is the choices Russia then faces once their legal options play out and the uneven playing field is fully exposed. Do they not then have a historically justifiable basis for declaring war? ..."
December 18, 2015 | naked capitalism

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is KILLING THE HOST: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy

The nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists seems to be coming true: foreign economic independence from U.S. control. Instead of privatizing and neoliberalizing the world under U.S.-centered financial planning and ownership, the Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration on the basis of Russian oil and tax exports and Chinese financing. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank programs that favor U.S. suppliers, banks and bondholders (with the United States holding unique veto power).

Russia's 2013 loan to Ukraine, made at the request of Ukraine's elected pro-Russian government, demonstrated the benefits of mutual trade and investment relations between the two countries. As Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out, Ukraine's "international reserves were barely enough to cover three months' imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine's bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent."[1]

What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia's sovereign debt fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding new credit from countries in default of foreign official debts (or at least, not bargaining in good faith to pay). To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London's creditor-oriented rules and courts.

On December 3 (one week before the IMF changed its rules so as to hurt Russia), Prime Minister Putin proposed that Russia "and other Eurasian Economic Union countries should kick-off consultations with members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a possible economic partnership."[2] Russia also is seeking to build pipelines to Europe through friendly instead of U.S.-backed countries.

Moving to denominate their trade and investment in their own currencies instead of dollars, China and Russia are creating a geopolitical system free from U.S. control. After U.S. officials threatened to derange Russia's banking linkages by cutting it off from the SWIFT interbank clearing system, China accelerated its creation of the alternative China International Payments System (CIPS), with its own credit card system to protect Eurasian economies from the shrill threats made by U.S. unilateralists.

Russia and China are simply doing what the United States has long done: using trade and credit linkages to cement their geopolitical diplomacy. This tectonic geopolitical shift is a Copernican threat to New Cold War ideology: Instead of the world economy revolving around the United States (the Ptolemaic idea of America as "the indispensible nation"), it may revolve around Eurasia. As long as the global financial papacy remains grounded in Washington at the offices of the IMF and World Bank, such a shift in the center of gravity will be fought with all the power of the American Century (indeed, American Millennium) inquisition.

Imagine the following scenario five years from now. China will have spent half a decade building high-speed railroads, ports power systems and other construction for Asian and African countries, enabling them to grow and export more. These exports will be coming on line to repay the infrastructure loans. Also, suppose that Russia has been supplying the oil and gas energy needed for these projects.

To U.S. neocons this specter of AIIB government-to-government lending and investment creates fear of a world independent of U.S. control. Nations would mint their own money and hold each other's debt in their international reserves instead of borrowing or holding dollars and subordinating their financial planning to the IMF and U.S. Treasury with their demands for monetary bloodletting and austerity for debtor countries. There would be less need for foreign government to finance budget shortfalls by selling off their key public infrastructure privatizing their economies. Instead of dismantling public spending, the AIIB and a broader Eurasian economic union would do what the United States itself practices, and seek self-sufficiency in basic needs such as food, technology, banking, credit creation and monetary policy.

With this prospect in mind, suppose an American diplomat meets with the leaders of debtors to China, Russia and the AIIB and makes the following proposal: "Now that you've got your increased production in place, why repay? We'll make you rich if you stiff our New Cold War adversaries and turn to the West. We and our European allies will help you assign the infrastructure to yourselves and your supporters, and give these assets market value by selling shares in New York and London. Then, you can spend your surpluses in the West."

How can China or Russia collect in such a situation? They can sue. But what court will recognize their claim – that is, what court that the West would pay attention to?

That is the kind of scenario U.S. State Department and Treasury officials have been discussing for more than a year. The looming conflict was made immediate by Ukraine's $3 billion debt to Russia falling due by December 20, 2015. Ukraine's U.S.-backed regime has announced its intention to default. U.S. lobbyists have just changed the IMF rules to remove a critical lever on which Russia and other governments have long relied to enforce payment of their loans.

The IMF's Role as Enforcer of Inter-Government Debts

When it comes down to enforcing nations to pay inter-government debts, the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club hold the main leverage. As coordinator of central bank "stabilization" loans (the neoliberal euphemism for imposing austerity and destabilizing debtor economies, Greece-style), the IMF is able to withhold not only its own credit but also that of governments and global banks participating when debtor countries need refinancing. Countries that do not agree to privatize their infrastructure and sell it to Western buyers are threatened with sanctions, backed by U.S.-sponsored "regime change" and "democracy promotion" Maidan-style.

This was the setting on December 8, when Chief IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice announced: "The IMF's Executive Board met today and agreed to change the current policy on non-toleration of arrears to official creditors." The creditor leverage that the IMF has used is that if a nation is in financial arrears to any government, it cannot qualify for an IMF loan – and hence, for packages involving other governments. This has been the system by which the dollarized global financial system has worked for half a century. The beneficiaries have been creditors in US dollars.

In this U.S.-centered worldview, China and Russia loom as the great potential adversaries – defined as independent power centers from the United States as they create the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an alternative to NATO, and the AIIB as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank tandem. The very name, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, implies that transportation systems and other infrastructure will be financed by governments, not relinquished into private hands to become rent-extracting opportunities financed by U.S.-centered bank credit to turn the rent into a flow of interest payments.

The focus on a mixed public/private economy sets the AIIB at odds with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its aim of relinquishing government planning power to the financial and corporate sector for their own short-term gains, and above all the aim of blocking government's money-creating power and financial regulation. Chief Nomura economist Richard Koo, explained the logic of viewing the AIIB as a threat to the US-controlled IMF: "If the IMF's rival is heavily under China's influence, countries receiving its support will rebuild their economies under what is effectively Chinese guidance, increasing the likelihood they will fall directly or indirectly under that country's influence."[3]

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov accused the IMF decision of being "hasty and biased."[4] But it had been discussed all year long, calculating a range of scenarios for a long-term sea change in international law. The aim of this change is to isolate not only Russia, but even more China in its role as creditor to African countries and prospective AIIB borrowers. U.S. officials walked into the IMF headquarters in Washington with the legal equivalent of financial suicide vests, having decided that the time had come to derail Russia's ability to collect on its sovereign loan to Ukraine, and of even larger import, China's plan for a New Silk Road integrating a Eurasian economy independent of U.S. financial and trade control. Anders Aslund, senior fellow at the NATO-oriented Atlantic Council, points out:

The IMF staff started contemplating a rule change in the spring of 2013 because nontraditional creditors, such as China, had started providing developing countries with large loans. One issue was that these loans were issued on conditions out of line with IMF practice. China wasn't a member of the Paris Club, where loan restructuring is usually discussed, so it was time to update the rules.

The IMF intended to adopt a new policy in the spring of 2016, but the dispute over Russia's $3 billion loan to Ukraine has accelerated an otherwise slow decision-making process.[5]

The Wall Street Journal concurred that the underlying motivation for changing the IMF's rules was the threat that Chinese lending would provide an alternative to IMF loans and its demands for austerity. "IMF-watchers said the fund was originally thinking of ensuring China wouldn't be able to foil IMF lending to member countries seeking bailouts as Beijing ramped up loans to developing economies around the world."[6] In short, U.S. strategists have designed a policy to block trade and financial agreements organized outside of U.S. control and that of the IMF and World Bank in which it holds unique veto power.

The plan is simple enough. Trade follows finance, and the creditor usually calls the tune. That is how the United States has used the Dollar Standard to steer Third World trade and investment since World War II along lines benefiting the U.S. economy.

The cement of trade credit and bank lending is the ability of creditors to collect on the international debts being negotiated. That is why the United States and other creditor nations have used the IMF as an intermediary to act as "honest broker" for loan consortia. ("Honest broker" means in practice being subject to U.S. veto power.) To enforce its financial leverage, the IMF has long followed the rule that it will not sponsor any loan agreement or refinancing for governments that are in default of debts owed to other governments. However, as the afore-mentioned Aslund explains, the IMF could easily

change its practice of not lending into [countries in official] arrears … because it is not incorporated into the IMF Articles of Agreement, that is, the IMF statutes. The IMF Executive Board can decide to change this policy with a simple board majority. The IMF has lent to Afghanistan, Georgia, and Iraq in the midst of war, and Russia has no veto right, holding only 2.39 percent of the votes in the IMF. When the IMF has lent to Georgia and Ukraine, the other members of its Executive Board have overruled Russia.[7]

After the rules change, Aslund later noted, "the IMF can continue to give Ukraine loans regardless of what Ukraine does about its credit from Russia, which falls due on December 20.[8]

Inasmuch as Ukraine's official debt to Russia's sovereign debt fund was not to the U.S. Government, the IMF announced its rules change as a "clarification." Its rule that no country can borrow if it is in default to (or not seriously negotiating with) a foreign government was created in the post-1945 world, and has governed the past seventy years in which the United States Government, Treasury officials and/or U.S. bank consortia have been party to nearly every international bailout or major loan agreement. What the IMF rule really meant was that it would not provide credit to countries in arrears specifically to the U.S. Government, not those of Russia or China.

Mikhail Delyagin, Director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, understood the IMF's double standard clearly enough: "The Fund will give Kiev a new loan tranche on one condition that Ukraine should not pay Russia a dollar under its $3 billion debt. Legally, everything will be formalized correctly but they will oblige Ukraine to pay only to western creditors for political reasons."[9] It remains up to the IMF board – and in the end, its managing director – whether or not to deem a country creditworthy. The U.S. representative naturally has always blocked any leaders not beholden to the United States.

The post-2010 loan packages to Greece are a notorious case in point. The IMF staff calculated that Greece could not possibly pay the balance that was set to bail out foreign banks and bondholders. Many Board members agreed (and subsequently have gone public with their whistle-blowing). Their protests didn't matter. Dominique Strauss-Kahn backed the US-ECB position (after President Barack Obama and Treasury secretary Tim Geithner pointed out that U.S. banks had written credit default swaps betting that Greece could pay, and would lose money if there were a debt writedown). In 2015, Christine Lagarde also backed the U.S.-European Central Bank hard line, against staff protests.[10]

IMF executive board member Otaviano Canuto, representing Brazil, noted that the logic that "conditions on IMF lending to a country that fell behind on payments [was to] make sure it kept negotiating in good faith to reach agreement with creditors."[11] Dropping this condition, he said, would open the door for other countries to insist on a similar waiver and avoid making serious and sincere efforts to reach payment agreement with creditor governments.

A more binding IMF rule is that it cannot lend to countries at war or use IMF credit to engage in warfare. Article I of its 1944-45 founding charter ban the fund from lending to a member state engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes in general. But when IMF head Lagarde made the last IMF loan to Ukraine, in spring 2015, she made a token gesture of stating that she hoped there would be peace. But President Porochenko immediately announced that he would step up the civil war with the Russian-speaking population in the eastern Donbass region.

The problem is that the Donbass is where most Ukrainian exports were made, mainly to Russia. That market is being lost by the junta's belligerence toward Russia. This should have blocked Ukraine from receiving IMF aid. Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force peace and adherence to the Minsk agreements, but U.S. diplomatic pressure led that opportunity to be rejected.

The most important IMF condition being violated is that continued warfare with the East prevents a realistic prospect of Ukraine paying back new loans. Aslund himself points to the internal contradictions at work: Ukraine has achieved budget balance because the inflation and steep currency depreciation has drastically eroded its pension costs. The resulting lower value of pension benefits has led to growing opposition to Ukraine's post-Maidan junta. "Leading representatives from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc are insisting on massive tax cuts, but no more expenditure cuts; that would cause a vast budget deficit that the IMF assesses at 9-10 percent of GDP, that could not possibly be financed."[12] So how can the IMF's austerity budget be followed without a political backlash?

The IMF thus is breaking four rules: Not lending to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan breaks the "No More Argentinas" rule adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan. Not lending to countries that refuse in good faith to negotiate with their official creditors goes against the IMF's role as the major tool of the global creditors' cartel. And the IMF is now lending to a borrower at war, indeed one that is destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally, the IMF is lending to a country that has little likelihood of refuse carrying out the IMF's notorious austerity "conditionalities" on its population – without putting down democratic opposition in a totalitarian manner. Instead of being treated as an outcast from the international financial system, Ukraine is being welcomed and financed.

The upshot – and new basic guideline for IMF lending – is to create a new Iron Curtain splitting the world into pro-U.S. economies going neoliberal, and all other economies, including those seeking to maintain public investment in infrastructure, progressive taxation and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. Russia and China may lend as much as they want to other governments, but there is no international vehicle to help secure their ability to be paid back under what until now has passed for international law. Having refused to roll back its own or ECB financial claims on Greece, the IMF is quite willing to see repudiation of official debts owed to Russia, China or other countries not on the list approved by the U.S. neocons who wield veto power in the IMF, World Bank and similar global economic institutions now drawn into the U.S. orbit. Changing its rules to clear the path for the IMF to make loans to Ukraine and other governments in default of debts owed to official lenders is rightly seen as an escalation of America's New Cold War against Russia and also its anti-China strategy.

Timing is everything in such ploys. Georgetown University Law professor and Treasury consultant Anna Gelpern warned that before the "IMF staff and executive board [had] enough time to change the policy on arrears to official creditors," Russia might use "its notorious debt/GDP clause to accelerate the bonds at any time before December, or simply gum up the process of reforming the IMF's arrears policy."[13] According to this clause, if Ukraine's foreign debt rose above 60 percent of GDP, Russia's government would have the right to demand immediate payment. But no doubt anticipating the bitter fight to come over its attempts to collect on its loan, President Putin patiently refrained from exercising this option. He is playing the long game, bending over backward to accommodate Ukraine rather than behaving "odiously."

A more pressing reason deterring the United States from pressing earlier to change IMF rules was that a waiver for Ukraine would have opened the legal floodgates for Greece to ask for a similar waiver on having to pay the "troika" – the European Central Bank (ECB), EU commission and the IMF itself – for the post-2010 loans that have pushed it into a worse depression than the 1930s. "Imagine the Greek government had insisted that EU institutions accept the same haircut as the country's private creditors," Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov asked. "The reaction in European capitals would have been frosty. Yet this is the position now taken by Kiev with respect to Ukraine's $3 billion eurobond held by Russia."[14]

Only after Greece capitulated to eurozone austerity was the path clear for U.S. officials to change the IMF rules in their fight to isolate Russia. But their tactical victory has come at the cost of changing the IMF's rules and those of the global financial system irreversibly. Other countries henceforth may reject conditionalities, as Ukraine has done, and ask for write-downs on foreign official debts.

That was the great fear of neoliberal U.S. and Eurozone strategists last summer, after all. The reason for smashing Greece's economy was to deter Podemos in Spain and similar movements in Italy and Portugal from pursuing national prosperity instead of eurozone austerity. Opening the door to such resistance by Ukraine is the blowback of America's tactic to make a short-term financial hit on Russia while its balance of payments is down as a result of collapsing oil and gas prices.

The consequences go far beyond just the IMF. The fabric of international law itself is being torn apart. Every action has a reaction in the Newtonian world of geopolitics. It may not be a bad thing, to be sure, for the post-1945 global order to be broken apart by U.S. tactics against Russia, if that is the catalyst driving other countries to defend their own economies in the legal and political spheres. It has been U.S. neoliberals themselves who have catalyzed the emerging independent Eurasian bloc.

Countering Russia's Ability to Collect in Britain's Law Courts

Over the past year the U.S. Treasury and State Departments have discussed ploys to block Russia from collecting under British law, where its loans to Ukraine are registered. Reviewing the repertory of legal excuses Ukraine might use to avoid paying Russia, Prof. Gelpern noted that it might declare the debt "odious," made under duress or corruptly. In a paper for the Peterson Institute of International Economics (the banking lobby in Washington) she suggested that Britain should deny Russia the use of its courts as an additional sanction reinforcing the financial, energy, and trade sanctions to those passed against Russia after Crimea voted to join it as protection against the ethnic cleansing from the Right Sector, Azov Battalion and other paramilitary groups descending on the region.[15]

A kindred ploy might be for Ukraine to countersue Russia for reparations for "invading" it, for saving Crimea and the Donbass region from the Right Sector's attempt to take over the country. Such a ploy would seem to have little chance of success in international courts (without showing them to be simply arms of NATO New Cold War politics), but it might delay Russia' ability to collect by tying the loan up in a long nuisance lawsuit.

To claim that Ukraine's debt to Russia was "odious" or otherwise illegitimate, "President Petro Poroshenko said the money was intended to ensure Yanukovych's loyalty to Moscow, and called the payment a 'bribe,' according to an interview with Bloomberg in June this year."[16] The legal and moral problem with such arguments is that they would apply equally to IMF and US loans. Claiming that Russia's loan is "odious" is that this would open the floodgates for other countries to repudiate debts taken on by dictatorships supported by IMF and U.S. lenders, headed by the many dictatorships supported by U.S. diplomacy.

The blowback from the U.S. multi-front attempt to nullify Ukraine's debt may be used to annul or at least write down the destructive IMF loans made on the condition that borrowers accept privatizations favoring U.S., German and other NATO-country investors, undertake austerity programs, and buy weapons systems such as the German submarines that Greece borrowed to pay for. As Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted: "This reform, which they are now trying to implement, designed to suit Ukraine only, could plant a time bomb under all other IMF programs." It certainly showed the extent to which the IMF is subordinate to U.S. aggressive New Cold Warriors: "Essentially, this reform boils down to the following: since Ukraine is politically important – and it is only important because it is opposed to Russia – the IMF is ready to do for Ukraine everything it has not done for anyone else, and the situation that should 100 percent mean a default will be seen as a situation enabling the IMF to finance Ukraine."[17]

Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the Committee for International Affairs at the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia's parliament) accused the United States of playing "the role of the main violin in the IMF while the role of the second violin is played by the European Union. These are two basic sponsors of the Maidan – the symbol of a coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014."[18]

Putin's Counter-Strategy and the Blowback on U.S.-European and Global Relations

As noted above, having anticipated that Ukraine would seek reasons to not pay the Russian loan, President Putin carefully refrained from exercising Russia's right to demand immediate payment when Ukraine's foreign debt rose above 60 percent of GDP. In November he offered to defer payment if the United States, Europe and international banks underwrote the obligation. Indeed, he even "proposed better conditions for this restructuring than those the International Monetary Fund requested of us." He offered "to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year – a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018." If the IMF, the United States and European Union "are sure that Ukraine's solvency will grow," then they should "see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit." Accordingly, he concluded "We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions." [19]

The implication, Putin pointed out, was that "If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy's future." One professor pointed out that this proposal was in line with the fact that, "Ukraine has already received a sovereign loan guarantee from the United States for a previous bond issue." Why couldn't the United States, Eurozone or leading commercial banks provide a similar guarantee of Ukraine's debt to Russia – or better yet, simply lend it the money to turn it into a loan to the IMF or US lenders?[20]

But the IMF, European Union and the United States refused to back up their happy (but nonsensical) forecasts of Ukrainian solvency with actual guarantees. Foreign Minister Lavrov made clear just what that rejection meant: "By having refused to guarantee Ukraine's debt as part of Russia's proposal to restructure it, the United States effectively admitted the absence of prospects of restoring its solvency. … By officially rejecting the proposed scheme, the United States thereby subscribed to not seeing any prospects of Ukraine restoring its solvency."[21]

In an even more exasperated tone, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev explained to Russia's television audience: "I have a feeling that they won't give us the money back because they are crooks. They refuse to return our money and our Western partners not only refuse to help, but they also make it difficult for us."[22] Adding that "the international financial system is unjustly structured," he promised to "go to court. We'll push for default on the loan and we'll push for default on all Ukrainian debts."

The basis for Russia's legal claim, he explained was that the loan

was a request from the Ukrainian Government to the Russian Government. If two governments reach an agreement this is obviously a sovereign loan…. Surprisingly, however, international financial organisations started saying that this is not exactly a sovereign loan. This is utter bull. Evidently, it's just an absolutely brazen, cynical lie. … This seriously erodes trust in IMF decisions. I believe that now there will be a lot of pleas from different borrower states to the IMF to grant them the same terms as Ukraine. How will the IMF possibly refuse them?

And there the matter stands. As President Putin remarked regarding America's support of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other ISIS allies in Syria, "Do you have any idea of what you have done?"

The Blowback

Few have calculated the degree to which America's New Cold War with Russia is creating a reaction that is tearing up the world's linkages put in place since World War II. Beyond pulling the IMF and World Bank tightly into U.S. unilateralist geopolitics, how long will Western Europe be willing to forego its trade and investment interest with Russia? Germany, Italy and France already are feeling the strains. If and when a break comes, it will not be marginal but a seismic geopolitical shift.

The oil and pipeline war designed to bypass Russian energy exports has engulfed the Near East in anarchy for over a decade. It is flooding Europe with refugees, and also spreading terrorism to America. In the Republican presidential debate on December 15, 2015, the leading issue was safety from Islamic jihadists. Yet no candidate thought to explain the source of this terrorism in America's alliance with Wahabist Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and hence with Al Qaeda and ISIS/Daish as a means of destabilizing secular regimes seeking independence from U.S. control.

As its allies in this New Cold War, the United States has chosen fundamentalist jihadist religion against secular regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and earlier in Afghanistan and Turkey. Going back to the original sin of CIA hubris – overthrowing the secular Iranian Prime Minister leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 – American foreign policy has been based on the assumption that secular regimes tend to be nationalist and resist privatization and neoliberal austerity.

Based on this fatal long-term assumption, U.S. Cold Warriors have aligned themselves not only against secular regimes, but against democratic regimes where these seek to promote their own prosperity and economic independence, and to resist neoliberalism in favor of maintaining their traditional mixed public/private economy.

This is the back story of the U.S. fight to control the rest of the world. Tearing apart the IMF's rules is only the most recent chapter. The broad drive against Russia, China and their prospective Eurasian allies has deteriorated into tactics without a realistic understanding of how they are bringing about precisely the kind of world they are seeking to prevent – a multilateral world.

Arena by arena, the core values of what used to be American and European social democratic ideology are being uprooted. The Enlightenment's ideals of secular democracy and the rule of international law applied equally to all nations, classical free market theory (of markets free from unearned income and rent extraction by special vested interests), and public investment in infrastructure to hold down the cost of living and doing business are to be sacrificed to a militant U.S. unilateralism as "the indispensible nation." Standing above the rule of law and national interests, American neocons proclaim that their nation's destiny is to wage war to prevent foreign secular democracy from acting in ways other than submission to U.S. diplomacy. In practice, this means favoring special U.S. financial and corporate interests that control American foreign policy.

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to turn out. Classical industrial capitalism a century ago was expected to evolve into an economy of abundance. Instead, we have Pentagon capitalism, finance capitalism deteriorating into a polarized rentier economy, and old-fashioned imperialism.

The Dollar Bloc's Financial Iron Curtain

By treating Ukraine's nullification of its official debt to Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund as the new norm, the IMF has blessed its default on its bond payment to Russia. President Putin and foreign minister Lavrov have said that they will sue in British courts. But does any court exist in the West not under the thumb of U.S. veto?

What are China and Russia to do, faced with the IMF serving as a kangaroo court whose judgments are subject to U.S. veto power? To protect their autonomy and self-determination, they have created alternatives to the IMF and World Bank, NATO and behind it, the dollar standard.

America's recent New Cold War maneuvering has shown that the two Bretton Woods institutions are unreformable. It is easier to create new institutions such as the A.I.I.B. than to retrofit old and ill-designed ones burdened with the legacy of their vested founding interests. It is easier to expand the Shanghai Cooperation Organization than to surrender to threats from NATO.

U.S. geostrategists seem to have imagined that if they exclude Russia, China and other SCO and Eurasian countries from the U.S.-based financial and trade system, these countries will find themselves in the same economic box as Cuba, Iran and other countries have been isolated by sanctions. The aim is to make countries choose between impoverishment from such exclusion, or acquiescing in U.S. neoliberal drives to financialize their economies and impose austerity on their government sector and labor.

What is lacking from such calculations is the idea of critical mass. The United States may use the IMF and World Bank as levers to exclude countries not in the U.S. orbit from participating in the global trade and financial system, and it may arm-twist Europe to impose trade and financial sanctions on Russia. But this action produces an equal and opposite reaction. That is the eternal Newtonian law of geopolitics. The indicated countermeasure is simply for other countries to create their own international financial organization as an alternative to the IMF, their own "aid" lending institution to juxtapose to the U.S.-centered World Bank.

All this requires an international court to handle disputes that is free from U.S. arm-twisting to turn international law into a kangaroo court following the dictates of Washington. The Eurasian Economic Union now has its own court to adjudicate disputes. It may provide an alternative Judge Griesa's New York federal court ruling in favor of vulture funds derailing Argentina's debt negotiations and excluding it from foreign financial markets. If the London Court of International Arbitration (under whose rules Russia's bonds issued to Ukraine are registered) permits frivolous legal claims (called barratry in English) such as President Poroshenko has threatened in Ukrainian Parliament, it too will become a victim of geopolitical obsolescence.

The more nakedly self-serving and geopolitical U.S. policy is – in backing radical Islamic fundamentalist outgrowths of Al Qaeda throughout the Near East, right-wing nationalist governments in Ukraine and the Baltics – the greater the catalytic pressure is growing for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, AIIB and related Eurasian institutions to break free of the post-1945 Bretton Woods system run by the U.S. State, Defense and Treasury Departments and NATO superstructure.

The question now is whether Russia and China can hold onto the BRICS and India. So as Paul Craig Roberts recently summarized my ideas along these lines, we are back with George Orwell's 1984 global fracture between Oceanea (the United States, Britain and its northern European NATO allies) vs. Eurasia.

... .... ....

RabidGandhi December 18, 2015 at 9:16 am

My issue with Hudson is that he tends to paint things in a "good guys/bad guys" dichotomy viz. the IMF vs. the AIIB. Personally, I think it's quite positive that the international sovereign finance institutions will now be more international and less unipolar, but his scenario where

Nations would mint their own money and hold each other's debt in their international reserves instead of borrowing or holding dollars and subordinating their financial planning to the IMF and U.S. Treasury with their demands for monetary bloodletting and austerity for debtor countries.

is rather pie-in-the sky. What reason do we have to believe that concentrated Chinese capital would somehow be more benevolent than our current overlords? Oh because AIIB has the word "infrastructure" in its title (just as the Interamerican Development Bank is all about development) /sarc.

Furthermore, if US planners had half a clue about economics, they would be jumping for joy that the AIIB and the CIPS will finally help release them (eventually) from the burden of having the USD as the global reserve currency, thus relieving the US of the albatross of having to ship its internal demand to China and other net exporters.

All in all, yes AIIB should be positive, but as Hudson himself points out, this is not so much about economics as it is geopolitics. The world should tread with the utmost caution.

Dino Reno December 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

I think his main point is not so much about economics or geopolitics, it's about the rule of law, specifically international law and how it applies to the debt collection brokered between counties.

China and Russia harbored the fantasy that would be allowed redress in the Western Courts where international law is metered out. They are now no longer under that delusion.

Even if they come up with a lending facility, the West will thwart their ability to collect on those debts at every turn by simply declaring those debts null and void and extending new funds using the infrastructure build by the bad (Russian/Chinese) debt as collateral. The thirst for power and profit will always be with us, but now it will not be tempered by any international order under the rule of law.

Nick December 18, 2015 at 10:15 am

China is learning the hard way how the game is played. For example, they're discovering that much of the tens of billions in no-strings attached loans given to Africa will not provide the returns initially thought (even accounting for massive corruption on all sides), which is why they have been reduced for the first time in a decade this past year.

Alejandro December 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

Don't see how "economics" and "social" can be de-linked from "politics"…understanding the limits of "local" may provide an awareness of the "quid pro quo" of extending, direction of extension, and what defines (in/inter) "dependency"…how sacrifice is "shared" or imposed, and how "prosperity" is concentrated or distributed…

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL December 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

It's not Hudson but the US that has simplified the entire world situation into "good guys vs. bad guys", a policy enshrined in Rumsfeld's statement "you're either with us or you're against us".

It's like a playground with one big bully and lots of kids running scared, now a second bully appears and they all have to ask themselves whether Bully #2 will be nicer to them, in this case it appears Bully #2 is saying he won't tell them how to run their lives or steal their lunch money.

Post-comet in 2000 when everything started going to hell the worst casualty has been the rule of law, from hanging chads through to the Patriot Act, death by a thousand cuts of the Constitution, unprosecuted war crimes, unprosecuted financial crimes, and now the very fabric of international law being rent apart. I'm reminded of the Hunter Thompson scene where he has an expired driver's license and a cop pulls him over, he has two choices, hand over the license and get busted, or drive away and get busted… so he comes up with a third choice: he blows his nose all over the license and hands it over to the cop. The equivalent of Bully #1 taking the only soccer ball on the playground and kicking it over the fence so the game is screwed up for everybody, Pepe's "Empire of Chaos" indeed.

global123 December 18, 2015 at 9:47 am

stellar article michael hudson

1)Western economies depend on ocean transport…if chinese or ruskies destroy it, USA-EU will be bankrupt in weeks..USA-EU are consumers and not producers..their exports to rest of world are tiny..So,their position is very weak at this point
2)The asian countries like china-india will be forced to join hands under joint attack by US financial system and islamic jihadists..Russia and china,former enemies,are now friends…who could have imagines it?
Russo-chinese-iranian alliance is huge failure of US foreign policies
3)Using islamic terrorists and islamic countries like turkey-saudi arabia-pakistan-indonesia-egypt is not going to work for USA because muslims think USA as enemy no.1…
4)A military superiority can not guarantee permanent -everlasting victory against too many opponents
What i see here is USA has made entire islamic world their enemy,alongwith china and russia
In case of real war,USA position will be very weak

camelotkidd December 18, 2015 at 9:49 am

This is an amazing article. Bravo!
Now it's becoming clear just what Margaret Thatcher meant when she told everyone that there was no alternative to neoliberalism.

Steve H. December 18, 2015 at 10:00 am

Thank you for continuing to mark the historical specifics of the finance/legal wing of geopolitical conflict, and the perverse failings of Full Spectrum Dominance.

The Oceana/Eurasia dichotomy is a dangerous frame of reference. It essentially contrasts the transport efficiencies of water to the solid defensive capacity of the frozen steppes. But when things get bloody, they usually crack along language lines. Not only as a proxy for migrations of the gene, but also world-views. How horse-people see things, what metaphors they use, are very different than how cow-people categorize the world.

This highlights that Russia is continuing to operate within the language and legal framework of the Indo-European languages. In other words (!), it is a fight between the U.S. and Russia for European alliances. If this is the case, then the alliance of NATO with Turkic and Arabic lines is of convenience, in that they are not partners but proxies. Europe is faced with the habit of the U.S. in saying, Let's you and him fight. But there's an oceans difference between the U.S. and European interests.

It also means that Russia and China are being pushed together by western exclusion, like drops of oil on the water. I maintain that Russia has doubled down on global warming, to open up northern sea routes and make the steppes arable. China is already a sea-power, but its massive population will need lebensraum as the fossil-fuel support for the energy needs of megapoli decay. The mountains are a formidable barrier for them to take the steppes by force.

The question for the rest of the world then becomes, who do you want to have as a friend in a hundred years. Do you bet on the Wizards of Wall Street, with their Magic Money Wand of Fiat? Or do you think Russia will ground-n-pound the fairy dust into the mud?

SocietalIllusions December 18, 2015 at 11:17 am

what is left unsaid is the choices Russia then faces once their legal options play out and the uneven playing field is fully exposed. Do they not then have a historically justifiable basis for declaring war?

The game of brinksmanship continues…

Jim Haygood December 18, 2015 at 11:18 am

'The Russian and Chinese governments are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian economic integration.'

Whereas the U.S. is 'investing' in new military bases to cement U.S. global domination.

Guess which model actually benefits local living standards, and 'wins hearts and minds'?

Global domination as a policy goal bankrupted the USSR. It's not working for the USSA either, as the U.S. middle class (once the envy of the world) visibly sinks into pauperization.

Thus the veracity of Michael Hudson's conclusion that 'when a break comes, it will not be marginal but a seismic geopolitical shift.'

Steven December 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

I get the same thrill reading Hudson the religiously devout must experience reading their bibles or Korans – a glimpse of 'truth' as best it can be known. My first encounter was this interview in Counterpunch: An Interview with Michael Hudson, author of Super Imperialism That led directly to "Super Imperialism" (and just about every book since its publication). After reading it, I was left with the uneasy feeling that no good would come from an international monetary system that allowed any one nation to pay its way in the world by creating money 'out of thin air' i.e. as sovereign and private debt or, almost the same thing, Federal Reserve Notes.

The race to the bottom of off-shored jobs and industries freed from all environmental restrictions, AKA 'globalization', had started to really kick in but it was just before Operation Iraqi Liberation (get it?). Fundamentally, it wasn't war for oil, of course, but a war to preserve the Dollar Standard. Recycling petrodollars bought a little time after the 1971 collapse of Bretton Woods. But with the world's treasuries filling up with US dollars and debt, the product of the Congressional-military-industrial-complex running wild and more recently the U.S. 0.01% successfully evading almost all forms of taxation, some kind of control more basic than controlling the world's access to money (which basically means credit) was required.

When people like Alan Greenspan (pretend to) come clean, you really want to look twice:

THOUGH it was not understood a century ago, and though as yet the applications of the knowledge to the economics of life are not generally realized, life in its physical aspect is fundamentally a struggle for energy, in which discovery after discovery brings life into new relations with the original source.

Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT, 2nd edition, p. 49
The world can live without American dollars, especially these days when the U.S. no longer makes much the world needs or can afford but most obviously because it already possesses more of them than can ever be redeemed ('debt that can't be repaid and won't be') What it can't live without is ENERGY.

So long as most of that energy needs to be pumped out of the ground, the nation that ultimately controls access to the pumps – or to the distribution networks required to deliver it to the ultimate user – controls the world. This is most likely why Reagan promptly dismantled Jimmy Carter's White House solar panels. It is why the US and its European vassals have been dragging their feet for a half-century on the development of renewable energy sources and the electrification of transportation. It is why the banks and Wall Street will stand solidly behind the various electrical utilities efforts to discourage the development of any alternative energy sources from which their executives and shareholders can not extract the last pint of blood or has Hudson more politely calls it 'economic rent'.

P.S. Hudson seems to have a dangerous monopoly on economic truth these days. Is there anyone else who even comes close?

[Dec 19, 2015] Russia opens black box of jet downed by Turkey

Notable quotes:
"... I believe it was not there on patrol, but specifically to shoot the Russian plane down and come back ..."
"... Although I believe the Turkish map, I still think the Turks proved themselves on the side of the terrorists. ..."
"... Crossing that strip of Turkish territory by a friendly plane should not have been reason for shooting it down, only a PRETEXT. That may be the reason why the plane was shot down, because the Russians were not expecting the Turks to shoot at them. ..."
news.yahoo.com

Mister 2 hours ago 0

[The air force commander said 14 countries had been invited to monitor the (Russian) investigation but only China and Britain had accepted the official offer]

Shameful.

Shelly Winters 1 day ago 5

Not sure what information this "black box" contains, but CVR's and FDR's in most all aircraft (especially commercial jetliners) records only what the flight crew says in the cockpit and what operational parameters the aircraft experienced i.e. throttle settings, aileron positions, pitch, etc. It's questionable if the downed fighter aircraft's actual flight path would be stored internally in any such device, especially a fighter aircraft operating in hostile airspace. This data the Russians claim to have, if it really exists, could be certainly manipulated. The only true data for flight path would be a ground radar tape pulled from two different locations in the area.

James

I said it before, I believe the radar map the Turks showed with the paths was correct. And here are the military, but also their Religious reasons.

"War of the maps: Turkey released a map showing where Russia violated its airspace, and Russia countered"

/finance[dot]yahoo[dot]com/news/war-maps-turkey-released-map-210422386.html

You can see there is a very narrow strip of Turkish territory, about a mile wide, protruding deep into the Syrian territory. I don't know exactly the frequency of the sweep of the Turkish radar, but still, looking at the distances between dots, you can figure out the speed. The time to cross the Turkish strip must have been no longer than 20seconds, my initial estimate was 8, the Turks later said 17, but that's not important. The Russian plane is seen to make a wide circle near the Syrian border, flying much below it's maximum speed, probably looking for terrorist bases and convoys, and which circles crossed that limb. It was flying slow and probably low, and in circles, to get a good look. During the next cycle, I do believe the Turks warned it while flying over Syria, 10 times during 5' not to cross that 1 mile strip again. The Russian Su-24 bomber is seen heading for the strip the second time. Notice the Su-24 is a bomber not a dog-fighter like the F-16 and it's older. And there were two F-16's. The Turkish map shows only one path though. But the Russian maps shows only one too! On the Turkish map though, the F-16 is seen lurking in the air, and at some point accelerated sharply, approaching very close and very fast, probably in full afterburner, which is specifically reserved for attack.

I believe it was not there on patrol, but specifically to shoot the Russian plane down and come back. At (probably) the same time, the Russian path is seen with a very sharp small quirk. A sort of a mini-loop. I am sure they were trying to avoid incoming missiles. Their plane got hit, and it is seen trying to accelerate, probably to flee, and then the record ends.

HOWEVER ----------------- Although I believe the Turkish map, I still think the Turks proved themselves on the side of the terrorists.

After all, if the Russian plane was trying to get rid of the terrorists at the Turkish border, and no HONEST state wants terrorists at it's border, and the Russians were trying to do the "dirty job" of getting rid of them, Turkey should have been glad the Russians are helping them. But the fact they shot the Russian plane down, proves Turkey is harboring and abetting terrorists, if not recruits and send them itself.

Crossing that strip of Turkish territory by a friendly plane should not have been reason for shooting it down, only a PRETEXT. That may be the reason why the plane was shot down, because the Russians were not expecting the Turks to shoot at them.

So the Turks are not technically lying, but they ARE! The Russians probably did go through that miserable strip, and that's the technical truth. But Turkey is defending terrorists, and claiming it is not, that's the lie!

There are very sharp Religious reasons why they should do that, and still show the correct map. INTERESTING.. Ever heard of Tawriyya? Let me explain it for you in short. The Koran forbids a Muslim to lie, under penalty of the white-hot fires of Hell. But.. We already know if he becomes a Martyr, all his sins including lies will be forgotten.

But.. for a lie, you will be forgotten, if it's technically, a truth. What does that mean? Say, a Muslim has a $100 bill in his pocket. Somebody comes and asks him for a nickel. He will say: I don't have a nickel in my pockets! That's Tawriya, and Allah will have no reason to send him to Hell, because indeed he does not have a nickel in his pockets! That's a technical truth.

Erdogan, if he were asked "Are the terrorists working for you"? He could answer "Not a single terrorist is working for me". Indeed. Not one, but thousands. Allah won't punish him for that.

He could be asked: "Why did you shoot the plane down"? and he could answer "It was flying over our territory". He will not mention the reason was to protect his terrorists and their oil convoys. That's "Kitman". Saying half the truth. Allah won't punish him for that either.

As for lying to the Infidels, Allah won't punish him if he does it out of fear of the Infidels. Yes, but Islam is at perpetual war with the Infidels, until they either convert or disappear from the face of the Earth by any means, so orders Allah. So being at war with ANY infidel, a Muslim can lie to an Infidel all day and all night long! BUT THEY ARE ALWAYS AT WAR WITH ALL INFIDELS, UNTIL THERE ARE NO MORE INFIDELS! SO ORDERS ALLAH! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THAT MEANS?

BUT THE TOUGHEST OF ALL IS THE "MURUNA" DOCTRINE. That literally explains terrorism. If you get to understand, you will be very surprised, of how you didn't know it.

If you want to find what terrorism is, and why Erdogan himself, said "There is no moderate and extremist Islam. There is only Islam". And he knew what he was talking about, learn more. So find the MURUNA concept or doctrine. You can find a better explanation here:

You can look on Google for this: "Knowing Four Arabic Words May Save Our Civilization from Islamic Takeover"

And save it before it disappears.

Remember, you won't win any battle not knowing your enemy first.

BTW, did you know where the expression "the writing is on the wall" comes from? I's origin is also explained there.

[Dec 19, 2015] Ukraine still committed to good faith debt talks with Russia Finance Ministry

Notable quotes:
"... Ukraine remains committed ... to negotiating in good faith a consensual restructuring of the December 2015 Eurobonds, Nonsense, they are nothing but thieves in suits; Fascist politicians stealing from the taxpayers in the USA, EU, Russia and the Ukraine. You supporters of modern Fascism are disgusting little NeoCon trolls, yes you are! ..."
"... Under this IMF restructuring deal with the Ukraine, the oligarchs mandated that Monsanto GMO comes in. Now the once fertile farms will grow poisoned food. ... They also mandated hydraulic fracking rights to Exxon and BP. Now the aquifers will be poisoned. ... Moreover, the IMF social chapter destroys family values and requires that corrosive gay propaganda be thrust into the children's minds. ... Welcome to the new Globalist Business Model. ..."
"... The Ukraine is like a dying carcass. ... The EU jackals are howling, the IMF vultures are circling, and the NATO hyenas are picking the flesh off of the bones. ..."
"... Ukraine's Finance Minister, who promised in the above Reuters article today Dec 18, 2015, to talk in good faith with the Russian Federation about their $3 Billion Loan due and payable on Dec 15, as of today is in Default on that $3 Billion Loan , and therefore isn't eligible to receive any Loan from the IMF, headed by Chief Lagarde who must now stand trial for an improper loan of $434 Million . ..."
"... Good faith? They actually mean bait and switch ..."
"... The deadbeat American lackeys in Kiev have no intention of paying their debts to Russia because Washington DC is run by thieves and immoral people. You know this is true. ..."
"... Meanwhile Ukraine has restricted air travel, cutoff Crimea, and fought efforts to grant autonomy to Russian-speaking regions. With unpaid debt, the country still stokes war with Russia after being warned by Mr. Kerry to stop. ..."
news.yahoo.com

Algis

"Ukraine remains committed ... to negotiating in good faith a consensual restructuring of the December 2015 Eurobonds," Nonsense, they are nothing but thieves in suits; Fascist politicians stealing from the taxpayers in the USA, EU, Russia and the Ukraine. You supporters of modern Fascism are disgusting little NeoCon trolls, yes you are!

Robert

This is the new Globalist Business Model.

  1. Overthrow a sovereign country by revolution or outright bombing campaign.
  2. Appoint oligarchs to run it and fascists to rule the streets.
  3. Rack the country with unpardonable debt.
  4. Bring in the IMF and other global banks to 'restructure' the economy.
  5. Loot the country's resources by selling off the infrastructure for pennies on the dollar.
  6. Impose huge austerity programs. ... Cuts pensions in half and double basic living costs.
  7. Finally, colonialize the citizens under multi-national corporate rule where the people have little or no say.

Under this IMF restructuring deal with the Ukraine, the oligarchs mandated that Monsanto GMO comes in. Now the once fertile farms will grow poisoned food. ... They also mandated hydraulic fracking rights to Exxon and BP. Now the aquifers will be poisoned. ... Moreover, the IMF social chapter destroys family values and requires that corrosive gay propaganda be thrust into the children's minds. ... Welcome to the new Globalist Business Model.

The Ukraine is like a dying carcass. ... The EU jackals are howling, the IMF vultures are circling, and the NATO hyenas are picking the flesh off of the bones.

Algis

Russia needs to take payment out of their proverbial hides. No one consider it unjustified except a few brainwashed Americans and of course the immoral and corrupt ruling class of the Empire!

new_federali...

Ukraine's Finance Minister, who promised in the above Reuters article today Dec 18, 2015, to talk in good faith with the Russian Federation about their $3 Billion Loan due and payable on Dec 15, as of today is in Default on that $3 Billion Loan , and therefore isn't eligible to receive any Loan from the IMF, headed by Chief Lagarde who must now stand trial for an improper loan of $434 Million .

Therefore, Gold did achieve an all-important triple bottom at $1,050 per ounce this week, and is now in a furious rally up $15 to $1,065 per ounce as DXY (U.S. Dollar Index) falls sharply today due to utter failure of U.S.- led IMF to rescue Ukraine from Financial Collapse today -- Thus Gold will now rally sharply through at least Feb 2016 when Gold will be at $1,500 per ounce, and ultimately going to new all-time highs above $2,000 per ounce -- Dec 18, 2015 at 11:53 a.m. PST.

Commenter

Good faith? They actually mean bait and switch

Algis

The deadbeat American lackeys in Kiev have no intention of paying their debts to Russia because Washington DC is run by thieves and immoral people. You know this is true.

RonP

Meanwhile Ukraine has restricted air travel, cutoff Crimea, and fought efforts to grant autonomy to Russian-speaking regions. With unpaid debt, the country still stokes war with Russia after being warned by Mr. Kerry to stop.

[Dec 19, 2015] Turkey Blasts Breakthrough UN Resolution On Syria It Lacks Perspective. Assad Must Go!

Notable quotes:
"... "Now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge, creating a political transition, that allows those who are allied with Assad right now, allows the Russians, allows the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities like the Alawites are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day? I think that's going to be very important as well." ..."
"... Seymour Hersh Links Turkey to Benghazi, Syria and Sarin ..."
"... The assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency is that the sarin was supplied by Turkey to elements in Ghouta with the intent of "push[ing] Obama over the red line. " Intercepted transmissions from Turkish operators in the aftermath of the attack are jubilant, and the success of their covert mission must have seemed well in hand. Obama's implicit call to war in the coming month was proof of that. ..."
Dec 19, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Following June elections in which AKP lost its absolute parliamentary majority thanks in part to a stronger than expected showing at the polls by the pro-Kurdish HDP, Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan began to lose his mind.

The vote put in jeopardy Erdogan's bid to effectively rewrite the country's constitution on the way to consolidating his power in an executive presidency. That decisively undesirable outcome could not stand and so Erdogan did what any respectable autocrat would do: he nullified the election. First, the President undermined the coalition building process so he could call for new elections. Next, he fanned the flames of civil war and reignited a long-simmering conflict with the PKK. The idea was to scare the electorate into believing that a "strong" AKP government was the only antidote to domestic and international terror. Finally, Erdogan cracked down on the press and anyone else critical of his rule. AKP was also suspected of covertly backing attacks on HDP offices and newspapers. Some (i.e. the PKK) went so far as to suggest that Erdogan secretly worked with Sunni extremists to orchestrate suicide bombings - in other words, there's speculation Erdogan terrorized his own people.

Sure enough, AKP had a better showing at re-do elections last month, but by that point, Erdogan was on the fast track to dictatorial delirium. On November 24, he shot down a Russian fighter jet near the border with Syria in the first such direct military confrontation between Russia and a NATO member in at least six decades. And the madness didn't stop there. After Putin and the Russian MoD laid out their case against Ankara's role in financing Islamic State via Turkey's complicity in the group's lucrative oil trafficking business, Turkey sent hundreds of troops and around two dozen tanks to Bashiqa in Iraq which is right on the crude smuggling route. The deployment infuriated Baghdad and after Turkey refused to pull the troops out, Iraq went to the UN Security Council. Subsequently, Turkish troops were "attacked" by Islamic State.

The Turks claim that Iraq invited them in the past, a contention Baghdad vehemently denies. Thanks to Barzani and the Kurds, Ankara gets to claim that at least someone welcomes the Turkish troop presence (remember, despite Erdogan's hatred of the PKK and the YPG, Turkey is friendly with Erbil, which relies on Turkey to get some 630,000 b/d of what is technically illegal crude to market).

Well, for anyone who thought Turkey might be set to bow to international pressure by moving its troops north and thus back towards the Turkey-Iraq border, think again because on Saturday, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu was out with a series of declarations that seem to suggest Turkey is going full-belligerent-retard as Erdogan scrambles to preserve the "Assad must go" narrative on the way to securing whatever Ankara's interests are in both Iraq and Syria.

First, Davutoglu said that the provision of training to the Peshmerga and Mosul militiamen is "in line with a request from Iraq authorities and as such, the mission in Iraq will continue "until Mosul is freed" from ISIS.

Ok, so two things there. The deployment is not "in line with a request from Iraq." At this point, Turkey's position has moved from comically absurd to maddeningly obstinate. How many times does Baghdad have to say that Turkey isn't invited before NATO forces Turkey to drop the "they told us we could be here" line? Further, the idea that Turkey will stay until Mosul "is liberated" from ISIS, means Erdogan plans to remain in Iraq indefinitely. As we've documented on several occasions, an operation to retake Mosul is for all intents and purposes a pipe dream and if Turkey intends to wait it out, the troops and tanks could be there for years.

Next, Davutoglu claims that the Islamic State attacks on Turkish positions in Bashiqa prove Turkey "is right." "Right" about what, it's not clear, but what's interesting is that the attacks came just as ISIS launched its first major offensive in northern Iraq since July in a move that US officials say was likely designed to disrupt preparations for an assault on Mosul. The point: all of this is rather conveniently timed.

Davutoglu then slammed a UN Security Council resolution agreed in New York on Friday. The meeting of foreign ministers was tipped by John Kerry in Moscow on Tuesday and when discussions ended, diplomats adopted a resolution which purports to draw a road map for ending the war in Syria. As WSJ notes, the resolution "left unresolved divisions among world powers on key issues in the conflict."

Which "key issues", you ask? Well, the only ones that matter - namely, i) the fate of Bashar al-Assad and ii) which groups should be recognized as "terrorists" and which should be awarded the "moderate opposition" badge.

"Both issues were left out of the resolution after an hourslong meeting of foreign ministers in New York on Friday failed to reach a compromise and at one point verged on collapse," WSJ goes on the recount, adding that "Russian and Iranian diplomats said the question of Mr. Assad wasn't discussed on Friday because neither of their countries would accept a deal that calls for Mr. Assad's exit, even at the end of a political transition period."

As we've said on too many occasions to count, Syria is absolutely critical for Tehran when it comes to preserving Iranian influence and ensuring that the so-called "Shiite crescent" doesn't wane. For Russia, this is a chance to supplant the US as Mid-East superpower puppet master and Moscow isn't about to see it slip away by agreeing to a resolution that makes Assad's ouster a foregone conclusion.

For Turkey, the absence of a decision on Assad's future is maddening. The Security Council resolution "lacks realistic perspective," Davutoglu said on Saturday, before adding that the "Syria crisis can only be solved if Bashar al-Assad leaves power."

Consider that, and consider the fact that, as we reported yesterday, Ankara is now establishing a military base in Qatar in order that the two country's might work more closely on tackling "common enemies."

What we're beginning to see here is the formation of three alliances in the Mid-East: 1) Russia, Iran, Syria, and Iraq; 2) Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; 3) Britain, France, and Germany. The first alliance is pro-Assad, anti-terror. The second is anti-Assad, pro-Sunni extremist. The third is anti-Assad (although less vehemently so), anti-terror (conspiracy theories aside). Note that we've left the US out. Why? Because Washington is now stuck. The US wants desperately to maintain coordination with Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha, but between stepped up media coverage of Saudi Arabia's role in underwriting extremism (via the promotion of Wahhabism) and hightened scrutiny on Erdogan's role in financing terrorists, the position is becoming increasingly untenable. But aligning solely with the UK, France, and Germany entails adopting a more conciliatory approach to Assad - just ask Berlin which, as we reported on Friday, is now working with Assad's intelligence police and may soon establish a base in Damascus.

With that in mind, we'll close with the following from Obama, which underscores the extent to which the US is now thoroughly confused as to what to do next:

"Now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge, creating a political transition, that allows those who are allied with Assad right now, allows the Russians, allows the Iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities like the Alawites are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day? I think that's going to be very important as well."

JustObserving

First try the sarin gas supplying war criminal, Erdogan

Turkey supplied the sarin that killed over 1300 Syrians in Ghouta to try to get the Nobel Prize Winner to bomb Assad into oblivion

Seymour Hersh Links Turkey to Benghazi, Syria and Sarin

The assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency is that the sarin was supplied by Turkey to elements in Ghouta with the intent of "push[ing] Obama over the red line." Intercepted transmissions from Turkish operators in the aftermath of the attack are jubilant, and the success of their covert mission must have seemed well in hand. Obama's implicit call to war in the coming month was proof of that.

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/05/06/seymour-hersh-links-turke...

WTFRLY

White House, Media Silent One Year After Murder of US Reporter Who Exposed Western Links to ISIS October 20, 2015

Turkey killed and American reporter to protect the lies. British reporter Jackie Sutton was found dead a year to the day in Istanbul airport...

DeadFred
There aren't that many Turkish troops in Iraq, they can be removed with Iraqi Army and Shiite militia ground troops. The Russian can fly CAP but they shouldn't be involved beyond that. The purpose of Erdogan's insanities is to goad Putin into doing something that will bring NATO against him. He's been wise enough to avoid that so far. The Western economies are a gnats eyelash from collapse so all he needs to so is wait. Maybe selling a few shares of SPY at the right time would help or giving a few billion to some untracable players who call for delivery on their gold futures. I hope he's patient, the end-game is upon us but the fewer nukes that get used the better.
two hoots

Israel, where are you in all of this? Oh, see below:

Forget Qatar/Russia pipelines.

Israel/Turkey/US/NATO connection found here: "That would allow Turkey to reduce its energy dependence on Russia and open up a new market for Israeli and U.S. developers of a new natural gas project off the Israeli coast." (WSJ)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-turkey-poised-to-renew-diplomatic-relations-1450438539

Nat Gas in Israel waters: "Israel has proposed that EU countries invest in a multi-billion euro pipeline to carry its natural gas to the continent, noting that the supply from Israel would reduce Europe's current dependence on natural gas from Russia." (Start Up-Israel)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-pitches-massive-natural-gas-pipeline-plan-to-europe/

It could be a whole new NG game? And what thinks Russia/Qatar in all of this?

[Dec 19, 2015] The Exception

Notable quotes:
"... "Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt, and that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous Carly won the sound bite of the century award with that one! ..."
"... I voted for this turd because you Rightwingnut Fuckheads gave me the option of McCain the first time and Romney the second time. ..."
Zero Hedge

FireBrander

I expect the lies....but the level of lies when it comes to "fighting ISIS" is off-the-fucking-charts!...and no one calls him on it!

>The USA/NATO Created ISIS.

>The USA/NATO is using ISIS to oust ASSAD because he's too friendly with Russia/Iran.

>The USA/NATO FUNDS ISIS via Turkey.

Obama: "ISIS is a seriously threat, they are contained and we will destroy ISIS"

Bill Clintons' mouth has got to be gaping; and I'm sure thoroughly impressed that Obama could tell a whopper like that without question...NOT ONE REPUBLICAN at the debate even called Obama on ISIS!

Neil Patrick Harris

You gotta wonder how much money they promised him when he leaves office.

Peter Pan

Unfortunately Obama is beyond being a threat. He ( and whoever is pulling on his strings) is an actual attack on America.

FireBrander

"Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt, and that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous" Carly won the sound bite of the century award with that one!

..and the new budget bill will fully fund ALL OF IT's desires....

FireBrander

I voted for "this turd" because you Rightwingnut Fuckheads gave me the option of McCain the first time and Romney the second time.

You're welcome for my vote saving you from those fuckheads...McCain would have nuked the planet by now and Romney would have handed the country to his VC friends and you'd be living in a "dorm" putting together iPhones.

Romney criticised Obama in one of the debates because "The number of battleships in our fleet is the lowest since the 50's"...battleships? Romney, you stupid fuck, it's 20xx you moron...battleships are pretty irrelevent in today's "theater of war"...Obama held it together and replied, I give the Admirals EVERYTHING THEY ASK FOR...and Romney dropped it.

Great ZH piece on Romney; what a piece of shit:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-17/rip-truman-show-bubble-finance-...

[Dec 19, 2015] The Washington Post's Non-Political Fed Looks a Lot Like Wall Street's Fed

Notable quotes:
"... Any serious discussion of Fed policy would note that the banking industry appears to have a grossly disproportionate say in the country's monetary policy. ..."
Dec 19, 2015 | Beat the Press

... ... ...

But what is even more striking is the Post's ability to treat the Fed a neutral party when the evidence is so overwhelming in the opposite direction. The majority of the Fed's 12 district bank presidents have long been pushing for a rate hike. While there are some doves among this group, most notably Charles Evans, the Chicago bank president, and Narayana Kocherlakota, the departing president of the Minneapolis bank, most of this group has publicly pushed for higher rate hikes for some time. By contrast, the governors who are appointed through the democratic process, have been far more cautious about raising rates.

It should raise serious concerns that the bank presidents, who are appointed through a process dominated by the banking industry, has such a different perspective on the best path forward for monetary policy. With only five of the seven governor slots currently filled, there are as many presidents with voting seats on the Fed's Open Market Committee as governors. In total, the governors are outnumbered at meetings by a ratio of twelve to five.

Any serious discussion of Fed policy would note that the banking industry appears to have a grossly disproportionate say in the country's monetary policy. Furthermore, it seems determined to use that influence to push the Fed on a path that slows growth and reduces the rate of job creation. The Post somehow missed this story or at least would prefer that the rest of us not take notice.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-federal-reserve-makes-a-good-judgment-call-in-raising-interest-rates/2015/12/18/7954e1c6-a4f8-11e5-ad3f-991ce3374e23_story.html

-- Dean Baker

[Dec 18, 2015] The Upward Redistribution of Income: Are Rents the Story?

Looks like growth of financial sector represents direct threat to the society
Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps the financialization of the economy and rising inequality leads to a corruption of the political process which leads to monetary, currency and fiscal policy such that labor markets are loose and inflation is low. ..."
"... Growth of the non-financial-sector == growth in productivity ..."
"... In complex subject matters, even the most competent person joining a company has to become familiar with the details of the products, the industry niche, the processes and professional/personal relationships in the company or industry, etc. All these are not really teachable and require between months and years in the job. This represents a significant sunk cost. Sometimes (actually rather often) experience within the niche/industry is in a degree portable between companies, but some company still had to employ enough people to build this experience, and it cannot be readily bought by bringing in however competent freshers. ..."
December 18, 2015 | cepr.netDean Baker:
Working Paper: : In the years since 1980, there has been a well-documented upward redistribution of income. While there are some differences by methodology and the precise years chosen, the top one percent of households have seen their income share roughly double from 10 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in the second decade of the 21st century. As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards from the productivity gains over this period.

This paper argues that the bulk of this upward redistribution comes from the growth of rents in the economy in four major areas: patent and copyright protection, the financial sector, the pay of CEOs and other top executives, and protectionist measures that have boosted the pay of doctors and other highly educated professionals. The argument on rents is important because, if correct, it means that there is nothing intrinsic to capitalism that led to this rapid rise in inequality, as for example argued by Thomas Piketty.

Flash | PDF

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Fair Economist, December 18, 2015 at 11:34 AM

"...the growth of finance capitalism was what would kill capitalism off..."

"Financialization" is a short-cut terminology that in full is term either "financialization of non-financial firms" or "financialization of the means of production." In either case it leads to consolidation of firms, outsourcing, downsizing, and offshoring to reduce work force and wages and increase rents.

Consolidation, the alpha and omega of financialization can only be executed with very liquid financial markets, big investment banks to back necessary leverage to make the proffers, and an acute capital gains tax preference relative to dividends and interest earnings, the grease to liquidity.

It takes big finance to do "financialization" and it takes "financialization" to extract big rents while maintaining low wages.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 11:42 AM
[THANKS to djb just down thread who supplied this link:]

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021305040

Finance sector as percent of US GDP, 1860-present: the growth of the rentier economy

[graph]

Financialization is a term sometimes used in discussions of financial capitalism which developed over recent decades, in which financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics.

Financialization is a term that describes an economic system or process that attempts to reduce all value that is exchanged (whether tangible, intangible, future or present promises, etc.) either into a financial instrument or a derivative of a financial instrument. The original intent of financialization is to be able to reduce any work-product or service to an exchangeable financial instrument... Financialization also makes economic rents possible...financial leverage tended to override capital (equity) and financial markets tended to dominate over the traditional industrial economy and agricultural economics...

Companies are not able to invest in new physical capital equipment or buildings because they are obliged to use their operating revenue to pay their bankers and bondholders, as well as junk-bond holders. This is what I mean when I say that the economy is becoming financialized. Its aim is not to provide tangible capital formation or rising living standards, but to generate interest, financial fees for underwriting mergers and acquisitions, and capital gains that accrue mainly to insiders, headed by upper management and large financial institutions. The upshot is that the traditional business cycle has been overshadowed by a secular increase in debt.

Instead of labor earning more, hourly earnings have declined in real terms. There has been a drop in net disposable income after paying taxes and withholding "forced saving" for social Security and medical insurance, pension-fund contributions and–most serious of all–debt service on credit cards, bank loans, mortgage loans, student loans, auto loans, home insurance premiums, life insurance, private medical insurance and other FIRE-sector charges. ... This diverts spending away from goods and services.

In the United States, probably more money has been made through the appreciation of real estate than in any other way. What are the long-term consequences if an increasing percentage of savings and wealth, as it now seems, is used to inflate the prices of already existing assets - real estate and stocks - instead of to create new production and innovation?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization

pgl said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 03:25 PM
Your graph shows something I've been meaning to suggest for a while. Take a look at the last time that the financial sector share of GDP rose. The late 1920's. Which was followed by the Great Depression which has similar causes as our Great Recession. Here is my observation.

Give that Wall Street clowns a huge increase in our national income and we don't get more services from them. What we get is screwed on the grandest of scales.

BTW - there is a simple causal relationship that explains both the rise in the share of financial sector income/GDP and the massive collapses of the economy (1929 and 2007). It is called stupid financial deregulation. First we see the megabanks and Wall Street milking the system for all its worth and when their unhanded and often secretive risk taking falls apart - the rest of bear the brunt of the damage.

Which is why this election is crucial. Elect a Republican and we repeat this mistake again. Elect a real progressive and we can put in place the types of financial reforms FDR was known for.

Peter K. said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron, December 18, 2015 at 11:50 AM

" and it takes "financialization" to extract big rents while maintaining low wages."

It takes governmental macro policy to maintain loose labor markets and low wages. Perhaps the financialization of the economy and rising inequality leads to a corruption of the political process which leads to monetary, currency and fiscal policy such that labor markets are loose and inflation is low.

djb said...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021305040

I don't know about the last couple years but this chart indicates a large growth in financials as a share of gdp over the years since the 40's

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to djb, December 18, 2015 at 12:03 PM
[Anne gave you FIRE sector profits as a share of GDP while this gives FIRE sector profits as a share of total corporate profits.]

*

[Smoking gun excerpt:]

"...The financial system has grown rapidly since the early 1980s. In the 1950s, the financial sector accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5 percent. The sector's yearly rate of growth doubled after 1980, rising to a peak of 7.5 percent of GDP in 2006. As finance has grown in relative size it has also grown disproportionately more profitable. In 1950, financial-sector profits were about 8 percent of overall U.S. profits-meaning all the profit earned by any kind of business enterprise in the country. By the 2000s, they ranged between 20 and 40 percent...

[Ouch!]

[Now the whole enchilada:]

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/novemberdecember_2014/features/frenzied_financialization052714.php?page=all

If you want to know what happened to economic equality in this country, one word will explain a lot of it: financialization. That term refers to an increase in the size, scope, and power of the financial sector-the people and firms that manage money and underwrite stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other securities-relative to the rest of the economy.

The financialization revolution over the past thirty-five years has moved us toward greater inequality in three distinct ways. The first involves moving a larger share of the total national wealth into the hands of the financial sector. The second involves concentrating on activities that are of questionable value, or even detrimental to the economy as a whole. And finally, finance has increased inequality by convincing corporate executives and asset managers that corporations must be judged not by the quality of their products and workforce but by one thing only: immediate income paid to shareholders.

The financial system has grown rapidly since the early 1980s. In the 1950s, the financial sector accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5 percent. The sector's yearly rate of growth doubled after 1980, rising to a peak of 7.5 percent of GDP in 2006. As finance has grown in relative size it has also grown disproportionately more profitable. In 1950, financial-sector profits were about 8 percent of overall U.S. profits-meaning all the profit earned by any kind of business enterprise in the country. By the 2000s, they ranged between 20 and 40 percent. This isn't just the decline of profits in other industries, either. Between 1980 and 2006, while GDP increased five times, financial-sector profits increased sixteen times over. While financial and nonfinancial profits grew at roughly the same rate before 1980, between 1980 and 2006 nonfinancial profits grew seven times while financial profits grew sixteen times.

This trend has continued even after the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent financial reforms, including the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Financial profits in 2012 were 24 percent of total profits, while the financial sector's share of GDP was 6.8 percent. These numbers are lower than the high points of the mid-2000s; but, compared to the years before 1980, they are remarkably high.

This explosion of finance has generated greater inequality. To begin with, the share of the total workforce employed in the financial sector has barely budged, much less grown at a rate equivalent to the size and profitability of the sector as a whole. That means that these swollen profits are flowing to a small sliver of the population: those employed in finance. And financiers, in turn, have become substantially more prominent among the top 1 percent. Recent work by the economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole, and Bradley T. Heim found that the percentage of those in the top 1 percent of income working in finance nearly doubled between 1979 and 2005, from 7.7 percent to 13.9 percent.

If the economy had become far more productive as a result of these changes, they could have been worthwhile. But the evidence shows it did not. Economist Thomas Philippon found that financial services themselves have become less, not more, efficient over this time period. The unit cost of financial services, or the percentage of assets it costs to produce all financial issuances, was relatively high at the dawn of the twentieth century, but declined to below 2 percent between 1901 and 1960. However, it has increased since the 1960s, and is back to levels seen at the early twentieth century. Whatever finance is doing, it isn't doing it more cheaply.

In fact, the second damaging trend is that financial institutions began to concentrate more and more on activities that are worrisome at best and destructive at worst. Harvard Business School professors Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein argue that between 1980 and 2007 the growth in financial-industry revenues came from two things: asset management and loan origination. Fees associated either with asset management or with household credit in particular were responsible for 74 percent of the growth in financial-sector output over that period.

The asset management portion reflects the explosion of mutual funds, which increased from $134 billion in assets in 1980 to $12 trillion in 2007. Much of it also comes from "alternative investment vehicles" like hedge funds and private equity. Over this time, the fee rate for mutual funds fell, but fees associated with alternative investment vehicles exploded. This is, in essence, money for nothing-there is little evidence that hedge funds actually perform better than the market over time. And, unlike mutual funds, alternative investment funds do not fully disclose their practices and fees publicly.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing today, banks generate less and less of their income from interest on loans. Instead, they rely on fees, from either consumers or borrowers. Fees associated with household credit grew from 1.1 percent of GDP in 1980 to 3.4 percent in 2007. As part of the unregulated shadow banking sector that took over the financial sector, banks are less and less in the business of holding loans and more and more concerned with packaging them and selling them off. Instead of holding loans on their books, banks originate loans to sell off and distribute into this new type of banking sector.

Again, if this "originate-to-distribute" model created value for society, it could be a worthwhile practice. But, in fact, this model introduced huge opportunities for fraud throughout the lending process. Loans-such as "securitized mortgages" made up of pledges of the income stream from subprime mortgage loans-were passed along a chain of buyers until someone far away held the ultimate risk. Bankers who originated the mortgages received significant commissions, with virtually no accountability or oversight. The incentive, in fact, was perverse: find the worst loans with the biggest fees instead of properly screening for whether the loans would be any good for investors.

The same model made it difficult, if not impossible, to renegotiate bad mortgages when the system collapsed. Those tasked with tackling bad mortgages on behalf of investors had their own conflicts of interests, and found themselves profiting while loans struggled. This process created bad debts that could never be paid, and blocked attempts to try and rework them after the fact. The resulting pool of bad debt has been a drag on the economy ever since, giving us the fall in median wages of the Great Recession and the sluggish recovery we still live with.

And of course it's been an epic disaster for the borrowers themselves. Many of them, we now know, were moderate- and lower-income families who were in no financial position to borrow as much as they did, especially under such predatory terms and with such high fees. Collapsing home prices and the inability to renegotiate their underwater mortgages stripped these folks of whatever savings they had and left them in deep debt, widening even further the gulf of inequality in this country.

Moreover, financialization isn't just confined to the financial sector itself. It's also ultimately about who controls, guides, and benefits from our economy as a whole. And here's the last big change: the "shareholder revolution," started in the 1980s and continuing to this very day, has fundamentally transformed the way our economy functions in favor of wealth owners.

To understand this change, compare two eras at General Electric. This is how business professor Gerald Davis describes the perspective of Owen Young, who was CEO of GE almost straight through from 1922 to 1945: "[S]tockholders are confined to a maximum return equivalent to a risk premium. The remaining profit stays in the enterprise, is paid out in higher wages, or is passed on to the customer." Davis contrasts that ethos with that of Jack Welch, CEO from 1981 to 2001; Welch, Davis says, believed in "the shareholder as king-the residual claimant, entitled to the [whole] pot of earnings."

This change had dramatic consequences. Economist J. W. Mason found that, before the 1980s, firms tended to borrow funds in order to fuel investment. Since 1980, that link has been broken. Now when firms borrow, they tend to use the money to fund dividends or buy back stocks. Indeed, even during the height of the housing boom, Mason notes, "corporations were paying out more than 100 percent of their cash flow to shareholders."

This lack of investment is obviously holding back our recovery. Productive investment remains low, and even extraordinary action by the Federal Reserve to make investments more profitable by keeping interest rates low has not been able to counteract the general corporate presumption that this money should go to shareholders. There is thus less innovation, less risk taking, and ultimately less growth. One of the reasons this revolution was engineered in the 1980s was to put a check on what kinds of investments CEOs could make, and one of those investments was wage growth. Finance has now won the battle against wage earners: corporations today are reluctant to raise wages even as the economy slowly starts to recover. This keeps the economy perpetually sluggish by retarding consumer demand, while also increasing inequality.

How can these changes be challenged? The first thing we must understand is the scope of the change. As Mason writes, the changes have been intellectual, legal, and institutional. At the intellectual level, academic research and conventional wisdom among economists and policymakers coalesced around the ideas that maximizing returns to shareholders is the only goal of a corporation, and that the financial markets were always right. At the legal level, laws regulating finance at the state level were overturned by the Supreme Court or preempted by federal regulators, and antitrust regulations were gutted by the Reagan administration and not taken up again.

At the institutional level, deregulation over several administrations led to a massive concentration of the financial sector into fewer, richer firms. As financial expertise became more prestigious than industry-specific knowledge, CEOs no longer came from within the firms they represented but instead from other firms or from Wall Street; their pay was aligned through stock options, which naturally turned their focus toward maximizing stock prices. The intellectual and institutional transformation was part of an overwhelming ideological change: the health and strength of the economy became identified solely with the profitability of the financial markets.

This was a bold revolution, and any program that seeks to change it has to be just as bold intellectually. Such a program will also require legal and institutional changes, ones that go beyond making sure that financial firms can fail without destroying the economy. Dodd-Frank can be thought of as a reaction against the worst excesses of the financial sector at the height of the housing bubble, and as a line of defense against future financial panics. Many parts of it are doing yeoman's work in curtailing the financial sector's abuses, especially in terms of protecting consumers from fraud and bringing some transparency to the Wild West of the derivatives markets. But the scope of the law is too limited to roll back these larger changes.

One provision of Dodd-Frank, however, suggests a way forward. At the urging of the AFL-CIO, Dodd-Frank empowered the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine the activities of private equity firms on behalf of their investors. At around $3.5 trillion, private equity is a massive market with serious consequences for the economy as a whole. On its first pass, the SEC found extensive abuses. Andrew Bowden, the director of the SEC's examinations office, stated that the agency found "what we believe are violations of law or material weaknesses in controls over 50 percent of the time."

Lawmakers could require private equity and hedge funds to standardize their disclosures of fees and holdings, as is currently the case for mutual funds. The decline in fees for mutual funds noted above didn't just happen by itself; it happened because the law structured the market for actual transparency and price competition. This will need to happen again for the broader financial sector.

But the most important change will be intellectual: we must come to understand our economy not as simply a vehicle for capital owners, but rather as the creation of all of us, a common endeavor that creates space for innovation, risk taking, and a stronger workforce. This change will be difficult, as we will have to alter how we approach the economy as a whole. Our wealth and companies can't just be strip-mined for a small sliver of capital holders; we'll need to bring the corporation back to the public realm. But without it, we will remain trapped inside an economy that only works for a select few.

[Whew!]

Puerto Barato said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron,
"3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Today, that figure has more than doubled, to 6.5"
~~RC AKA Darryl, Ron ~

Growth of the non-financial-sector == growth in productivity

Growth of the financial-sector == growth in upward transfer of wealth

Ostensibly financial-sector is there to protect your money from being eaten up by inflation. Closer inspection shows that the prevention of *eaten up* is by the method of rent collection.

Accountants handle this analysis poorly, but you can see what is happening. Boiling it down to the bottom line you can easily see that wiping out the financial sector is the remedy to the Piketty.

Hell! Financial sector wiped itself out in 008. Problem was that the GSE and administration brought the zombie back to life then put the vampire back at our throats. What was the precipitating factor that snagged the financial sector without warning?

Unexpected
deflation
!

Gimme some
of that

pgl said in reply to djb...

People like Brad DeLong have noted this for a while. Twice as many people making twice as much money per person. And their true value to us - not a bit more than it was back in the 1940's.

Rock O Sock O Choco said in reply to djb... December 18, 2015 at 06:26 PM

JEC - MeanSquaredErrors said...

Wait, what?

Piketty looks at centuries of data from all over the world and concludes that capitalism has a long-run bias towards income concentration. Baker looks at 35 years of data in one country and concludes that Piketty is wrong. Um...?

A little more generously, what Baker actually writes is:

"The argument on rents is important because, if correct, it means that there is nothing intrinsic to capitalism that led to **this** rapid rise in inequality, as for example argued by Thomas Piketty." (emphasis added)

But Piketty has always been very explicit that the recent rise in US income inequality is anomalous -- driven primarily by rising inequality in the distribution of labor income, and only secondarily by any shift from labor to capital income.

So perhaps Baker is "correctly" refuting Straw Thomas Piketty. Which I suppose is better than just being obviously wrong. Maybe.

tew said...

Some simple math shows that this assertion is false "As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards" unless you think an apprx. 60% in per-capita real income (expressed as GDP) among the 99% is "little improvement".

Real GDP 2015 / Real GDP 1980 = 2.57 (Source: FRED)
If the income share of the 1% shifted from 10% to 20% then The 1%' real GDP component went up 410% while that of The 99% went up 130%. Accounting for a population increase of about 41% brings those numbers to a 265% increase and a 62% increase.

Certainly a very unequal distribution of the productivity gains but hard to call "little".

I believe the truth of the statement is revealed when you look at the Top 5% vs. the other 95%.

cm said in reply to tew...

For most "working people", their raises are quickly eaten up by increases in housing/rental, food, local services, and other nondiscretionary costs. Sure, you can buy more and better imported consumer electronics per dollar, but you have to pay the rent/mortgage every months, how often do you buy a new flat screen TV? In a high-cost metro, a big ass TV will easily cost less than a single monthly rent (and probably less than your annual cable bill that you need to actually watch TV).

pgl said in reply to tew...

Are you trying to be the champion of the 1%? Sorry dude but Greg Mankiw beat you to this.

anne said...

In the years since 1980, there has been a well-documented upward redistribution of income. While there are some differences by methodology and the precise years chosen, the top one percent of households have seen their income share roughly double from 10 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in the second decade of the 21st century. As a result of this upward redistribution, most workers have seen little improvement in living standards from the productivity gains over this period....

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/

September 16, 2015

Real Median Household Income, 1980 & 2014


1980 ( 48,462)

2014 ( 53,657)


53,657 - 48,462 = 5,195

5,195 / 48,462 = 10.7%


Between 1980 and 2014 real median household income increased by a mere 10.7%.

anne said in reply to don...

I would be curious to know what has happened to the number of members per household....

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/

September 16, 2015

Household Size

2014 ( 2.54)
1980 ( 2.73)

[ The difference in household size to real median household incomes is not statistically significant. ]

anne said in reply to anne...

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/families/index.html

September 16, 2015

Real Median Family Income, 1948-1980-2014


1948 ( 27,369)

1980 ( 57,528)

2014 ( 66,632)


57,528 - 27,369 = 30,159

30,159 / 27,369 = 110.2%


66,632 - 57,528 = 9,104

9,104 / 57,528 = 15.8%


Between 1948 and 1980, real median family income increased by 110.2%, while between 1980 and 2014 real median family income increased by a mere 15.8%.

cm said...

"protectionist measures that have boosted the pay of doctors and other highly educated professionals"

Protectionist measures (largely of the variety that foreign credentials are not recognized) apply to doctors and similar accredited occupations considered to be of some importance, but certainly much less so to "highly educated professionals" in tech, where the protectionism is limited to annual quotas for some categories of new workers imported into the country and requiring companies to pay above a certain wage rate for work visa holders in jobs claimed to have high skills requirements.

A little mentioned but significant factor for growing wages in "highly skilled" jobs is that the level of foundational and generic domain skills is a necessity, but is not all the value the individual brings to the company. In complex subject matters, even the most competent person joining a company has to become familiar with the details of the products, the industry niche, the processes and professional/personal relationships in the company or industry, etc. All these are not really teachable and require between months and years in the job. This represents a significant sunk cost. Sometimes (actually rather often) experience within the niche/industry is in a degree portable between companies, but some company still had to employ enough people to build this experience, and it cannot be readily bought by bringing in however competent freshers.

This applies less so e.g. in medicine. There are of course many heavily specialized disciplines, but a top flight brain or internal organ surgeon can essentially work on any person. The variation in the subject matter is large and complex, but much more static than in technology.

That's not to knock down the skill of medical staff in any way (or anybody else who does a job that is not trivial, and that's true for many jobs). But specialization vs. genericity follow a different pattern than in tech.

Another example, the legal profession. There are similar principles that carry across, with a lot of the specialization happening along different legislation, case law, etc., specific to the jurisdiction and/or domain being litigated.

[Dec 18, 2015] How low can oil prices go? Opec and El Niño take a bite out of crudes cost

Oil is a valuable chemical resource that is now wasted because of low prices... "The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers."
Notable quotes:
"... Iran wont flood the market in 2016. Right now Iran is losing production. It takes time to reverse decline and make a difference. ..."
"... Those who predict very low prices dont understand the industry (I do). The low price environment reduces capital investment, which has to be there just to keep production flat (the decline is 3 to 5 million barrels of oil per day per year). At this time capacity is dropping everywhere except for a few select countries. The USA is losing capacity, and will never again reach this years peak unless prices double. Other countries are hopeless. From Norway to Indonesia to Colombia to Nigeria and Azerbaijan, peak oil has already taken place. ..."
"... If oil prices remain very low until 2025 itll either be because you are right or because the world went to hell. ..."
"... But Im with Carambaman - prices will go up again. Demand is and will still be there. The excess output will eventually end, and the prices stabilises. And then move up again. ..."
"... Time to examine the real question: how long can the Saudis maintain their current production rates? Theyre currently producing more than 10 Mbarrels/day, but lets take the latter figure as a lower bound. They apparently have (per US consulate via WikiLeaks--time for a followup?) at least 260 Gbarrels (though it seems no one outside Saudi really knows). You do the math: 260 Gbarrels / (10 Mbarrels/day) = 26 kdays ~= 70 years. @ 15 Mbarrels/day - 47.5 years. @ 20 Mbarrels/day - 35 years. ..."
"... The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia, a US ally, using oil production and pricing to crush US oil shale industry? Did I read that correctly? ..."
"... Yeah, but I suspect it was *written* incorrectly. Im betting the Saudis real target is the Russians. ..."
"... In 1975 dollars, thats $8.31 / bbl (with a cumulative inflation factor of 342% over 40 years), or $.45 / gal for gas (assuming a current price of $2.00 / gal). ..."
"... I spent 30 years in the oil industry and experienced many cycles. When it is up people cannot believe it will go down and when it is down people cannot believe it will go up. It is all a matter of time ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | The Guardian

Fernando Leza -> jah5446 15 Dec 2015 06:12

Iran won't flood the market in 2016. Right now Iran is losing production. It takes time to reverse decline and make a difference.

Those who predict very low prices don't understand the industry (I do). The low price environment reduces capital investment, which has to be there just to keep production flat (the decline is 3 to 5 million barrels of oil per day per year). At this time capacity is dropping everywhere except for a few select countries. The USA is losing capacity, and will never again reach this year's peak unless prices double. Other countries are hopeless. From Norway to Indonesia to Colombia to Nigeria and Azerbaijan, peak oil has already taken place.

Fernando Leza -> SonOfFredTheBadman 15 Dec 2015 06:05

If oil prices remain very low until 2025 it'll either be because you are right or because the world went to hell. I prefer your vision, of course. But I'm afraid most of your talk is wishful thinking. Those of us who do know how to put watts on the table can't figure out any viable solutions. Hopefully something like cheap fusion power will rise. Otherwise you may be eating human flesh in 2060.

Fernando Leza -> p26677 15 Dec 2015 06:00

Keep assuming. I'll keep buying Shell stock.

MatCendana -> UnevenSurface 14 Dec 2015 03:36

Regardless of the breakeven price, producers with the wells already running or about to will keep pumping. Better to have some income, even if the operation is at a loss, than no income. This will go on and on right until the end, which is either prices eventually go up or they run out of oil and can't drill new wells.

But I'm with Carambaman - prices will go up again. Demand is and will still be there. The excess output will eventually end, and the prices stabilises. And then move up again.

Billy Carnes 13 Dec 2015 19:52

Also this hurts the states...Louisiana is now in the hole over 1.5 Billion or more

TomRoche 13 Dec 2015 12:31

@Guardian: Time to examine the real question: how long can the Saudis maintain their current production rates? They're currently producing more than 10 Mbarrels/day, but let's take the latter figure as a lower bound. They apparently have (per US consulate via WikiLeaks--time for a followup?) at least 260 Gbarrels (though it seems no one outside Saudi really knows). You do the math: 260 Gbarrels / (10 Mbarrels/day) = 26 kdays ~= 70 years. @ 15 Mbarrels/day -> 47.5 years. @ 20 Mbarrels/day -> 35 years.

That's just Saudi (allegedly) proven reserves. But it's plenty long enough to push atmospheric GHG levels, and associated radiative forcing, to ridiculously destructive excess.

The obvious follow-up question is, how long will the sane people of the world continue to allow so much fossil-fuel combustion to continue? An exercise for readers.

TomRoche -> GueroElEnfermero 13 Dec 2015 12:14

@GueroElEnfermero: 'Saudi Arabia, a US ally, using oil production and pricing to crush US oil shale industry? Did I read that correctly?'

Yeah, but I suspect it was *written* incorrectly. I'm betting the Saudis' real target is the Russians.

Sieggy 13 Dec 2015 11:49

In 1975 dollars, that's $8.31 / bbl (with a cumulative inflation factor of 342% over 40 years), or $.45 / gal for gas (assuming a current price of $2.00 / gal).

Carambaman 13 Dec 2015 10:25

I spent 30 years in the oil industry and experienced many cycles. When it is up people cannot believe it will go down and when it is down people cannot believe it will go up. It is all a matter of time

[Dec 17, 2015] Please Don't Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump

The New Yorker

Still, two interesting-and vexing-issues for the technology industry, and for the politicians who regulate it, emerged in the debate. The first came up in John Kasich's response to Trump's proposal. "Wolf, there is a big problem-it's called encryption," he said. "We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate, to disrupt. That's what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this, and so does the President, to keep us safe."

The central question is whether American technology companies should offer the U.S. government, whether the N.S.A. or the F.B.I., backdoor access to their devices or servers. The most important companies here are Apple and Google, which, in the fall of 2014, began offering strong encryption on the newer versions of Android and iOS phones. If you keep your passcode secret, the government will be unable to, for instance, scroll through your contacts list, even if it has a warrant. This has, naturally, made the government angry. The most thorough report on the subject is a position paper put out last month by Cyrus Vance, Jr., Manhattan's district attorney. In the previous year, Vance wrote, his office had been "unable to execute approximately 111 search warrants for smartphones because those devices were running iOS 8. The cases to which those devices related include homicide, attempted murder, sexual abuse of a child, sex trafficking, assault, and robbery."

The solution isn't easy. Apple and Google implemented their new encryption standards after Edward Snowden revealed how the government had compromised their systems. They want to protect their customers-a government back door could become a hacker's back door, too-and they also want to protect their business models. If the N.S.A. can comb through iPhones, how many do you think Apple will be able to sell in China? In the debate, Carly Fiorina bragged about how, when she ran Hewlett-Packard, she stopped a truckload of equipment and had it "escorted into N.S.A. headquarters." Does that make you more or less eager to buy an OfficeJet Pro?

The second hard issue that came up indirectly in the debate-and, more specifically, in recent comments by Hillary Clinton-is how aggressive American companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google (with YouTube) should be in combatting the use of their platforms by ISIS. Again, there's no simple answer. You can't ban, say, everyone who tweets the hashtag #ISIS, because then you'd have to ban this guy. The algorithms are difficult to write, and the issues are difficult to balance. Companies have to consider their business interests, their legal obligations to and cultural affinities for free speech, and their moral obligations to oppose an organization that seeks to destroy the country in which they were built-and also kill their C.E.O.s.

[Dec 17, 2015] Putin hails Donald Trump as bright and talented

economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 17, 2015 at 11:26 AM
Putin hails Donald Trump as 'bright and talented'
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/12/17/putin-hails-donald-trump-bright-and-talented/CCIktxBPs0ax3bGNMz7yqO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Vladimir Isachenkov - Associated Press - December 17, 2015

MOSCOW - Russia and the US agree on a general approach to settling the Syrian crisis, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, saying that Moscow stands ready to improve ties with Washington.

Putin also said that Russia will continue its air campaign in Syria until a political process starts, and lashed out at Turkey for trying to ''lick the Americans in some of their private parts'' by downing a Russian warplane. ...

Commenting on relations with Washington, Putin said that Russia supports a US-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution on settling the Syrian crisis, presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Moscow earlier this week.

''In general, we like it,'' Putin said. ''I believe that the Syrian authorities should be OK with it too, although they may not like something in it.''

He added that ''concessions must be made by both sides'' to end the conflict that has killed more than 250,000 and turned millions into refugees since 2011.

He said the Russian approach, ''strangely as it may seem, coincides with the US vision: joint work on a constitution, creation of instruments of control over future early elections, holding the vote and recognizing its results on the basis of that political process.''

''We will help settle this crisis in every possible way,'' Putin said. At the same time, he reaffirmed Russia's stance on the key issue that divided Russia and the West, the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the Syrians themselves must determine who rules them. ...

Already on his way out of the hall, he was asked about US presidential candidate Donald Trump and praised him as a ''very bright and talented man,'' adding that he welcomes the Republican's pledges to establish closer ties with Russia. ...

[Dec 17, 2015] US militarism is Alice in Wonderland

economistsview.typepad.com
anne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/world/asia/navy-seal-team-2-afghanistan-beating-death.html

December 16, 2015

Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up
By NICHOLAS KULISH, CHRISTOPHER DREW and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.

ilsm said in reply to anne...

Too much training to send to jail.

While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!

US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!

[Dec 17, 2015] The Putin-Did-It Conspiracy Theory

Notable quotes:
"... It was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not Vladimir Putin, who pushed the EU agreement and miscalculated the consequences, as the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has reported . Putin's only role in that time frame was to offer a more generous $15 billion aid package to Ukraine, not exactly a war-like act. ..."
February 15, 2015 | readersupportednews.org

The actually "incontrovertible" facts about the Ukraine crisis are these: The destabilization of President Viktor Yanukovych's elected government began in November 2013 when Yanukovych balked at a proposed association agreement promoted by the European Union. He sought more time after the sticker shock of learning from Kiev economic experts that the deal would cost Ukraine $160 billion in lost revenue by cutting trade with Russia.

It was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not Vladimir Putin, who pushed the EU agreement and miscalculated the consequences, as the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has reported. Putin's only role in that time frame was to offer a more generous $15 billion aid package to Ukraine, not exactly a war-like act.

Yanukovych's decision to postpone action on the EU association prompted angry demonstrations in Kiev's Maidan square, largely from western Ukrainians who were hoping for visa-free travel to the EU and other benefits from closer ties. Putin had no role in those protests – and it's insane to think that he did.

In February 2014, the protests grew more and more violent as neo-Nazi and other militias organized in the western city of Lviv and these 100-man units known as "sotins" were dispatched daily to provide the muscle for the anti-Yanukovych uprising that was taking shape. It is frankly nutty to suggest that Putin was organizing these militias. [See Consortiumnews.com's "When Is a Putsch a Putsch."]

Evidence of Coup Plotting

By contrast, there is substantial evidence that senior U.S. officials were pushing for a "regime change" in Kiev, including an intercepted phone call and various public statements.

In December 2013, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover, reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations." In early February, she discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. "Yats is the guy," she declared, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Who's Telling the Big Lie on Ukraine?"]

The Maidan uprising gained momentum on Feb. 20, 2014, when snipers around the square opened fire on police and protesters touching off a violent clash that left scores of people dead, both police and protesters. After the sniper fire and a police retreat - carrying their wounded - the demonstrators surged forward and some police apparently reacted with return fire of their own.

But the growing evidence indicates that the initial sniper fire originated from locations controlled by the Right Sektor, extremists associated with the Maidan's neo-Nazi "self-defense" commandant Andriy Parubiy. Though the current Ukrainian government has dragged its feet on an investigation, independent field reports, including a new one from BBC, indicate that the snipers were associated with the protesters, not the Yanukovych government as was widely reported in the U.S. media a year ago.

The worsening violence led Yanukovych to agree on Feb. 21 to a deal guaranteed by three European countries. He accepted reduced powers and agreed to early elections so he could be voted out of office. Yet, rather than permit that political settlement to go forward, neo-Nazis and other Maidan forces overran government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

The U.S. State Department quickly deemed this coup regime "legitimate" and Nuland's choice, Yatsenyuk, emerged as Prime Minister, with Parubiy put in charge of national security.

In other words, there is plenty of evidence that the Ukraine crisis was started by the EU through its mishandling of the association agreement, then was heated up by the U.S. government through the work of Nuland, Pyatt and other officials, and then was brought to a boil by neo-Nazis and other extremists who executed the coup.

[Dec 17, 2015] Neocon Influence on Angela Merkel

February 21, 2007 | Dialog International
Is Angela Merkel getting bad advice from Washington neocons through their representative in Berlin? Now we read that Jeff Gedmin - the head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin - is meeting on a regular basis with the Chancellor to instruct her on the Bush administration's line:

Angela Merkel relies on the advice of Jeffrey Gedmin, specially dispatched to Berlin to assist her by the Bush clan. This lobbyist first worked at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) [2] under Richard Perle and Mrs. Dick Cheney. He enthusiastically encouraged the creation of a Euro with Dollar parity exchange rate. Within the AEI, he led the New Atlantic Initiative (NAI), which brought together all the America-friendly generals and politicians in Europe. He was then involved in the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and wrote the chapter on Europe in the neocon programme. He argued that the European Union should remain under NATO authority and that this would only be possible by "discouraging European calls for emancipation." [3] Finally he became the administrator of the Council of the Community of Democracies (CCD), which argues in favour of a two-speed UN, and became director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin [4]. Subsequently he turned down the offer from his friend John Bolton [5] of the post of deputy US ambassador to the UN so as to be able to devote himself exclusively to Angela Merkel.

Elsewhere we read that Chancellor Merkel receives daily briefings from the neocon stalwart Gedmin:

Gedmin "brieft" die Kanzlerin täglich: Er hat damit die Rolle inne, die bei der Stasi die Führungsoffiziere hatten. Wenn wir uns noch Demokratie nennen wollen, dann muss Merkel gezwungen werden, die Inhalte dieser täglichen "Briefings" dem Land offenzulegen. In anderen Ländern gibt es dafür Gesetze, die "Freedom of Information Act" heissen.

Could this be true? I hope not. Gedmin is known for his columns in the conservative daily Die Welt where he reports on the marvelous successes the Iraq War. And who can forget Gedmin's column during last summer' s Israel/Lebanon War where he wrote about how Hezbollah fighters drank the blood of their victims in Lebanon? If Angela Merkel is looking for good advice, there are much more honest and intelligent resources than Jeff Gedmin.

[Dec 17, 2015] Why Merkel betrays Europe and Germany

Note that the quality of translation from German of this article is low.
Notable quotes:
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ..."
"... Bild and Die Welt ..."
"... In 2003, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opposed the Anglo-American intervention in Ira q. Angela Merkel then published a courageous article in the Washington Post ..."
"... As Stanley Payne, the famous American historian said about Spain (or any western democracy) that now politicians are not elected but chosen by apparatus, agencies and visible hands of the markets ..."
"... Merkel is publicly supported by Friede Springer , widow of West German press baron, Axel Springer , whos publishing conglomerate, the Springer Group secretly received around $7 million from the CIA in the early 1950s. ..."
"... She is counseled by Jeffrey Gedmin. Gedmin is a regular columnist in Die Welt , a publication of the Springer Group. After becoming administrator of the Council of the Community of Democracies and director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin in 2001, Gedmin devoted himself exclusively to Merkel . Gedmin was too involved in the infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and wrote the chapter on Europe in the neocon programme. He argued that the European Union should remain under NATO authority and that this would only be possible by discouraging European calls for emancipation . ..."
"... In a few years, Merkel has destroyed European solidarity, annihilated the German nuclear power plants (an old American obsession too), impoverished Germans and their once efficient Rheinisch and solitary economy, backed the mad dog American diplomacy and created along with an irresponsible American administration (irresponsible because America will never win this kind of conflict) a dangerous crisis against Russia than can end on a war or a scandalous European partition. ..."
Mar 06, 2015 | PravdaReport

One must understand the reasons of Angela Merkel's behaviour. She obeys America and her Israeli mentor ('Israel is Germany's raison d'être'???), she threatens and mistreats Europe; she attacks Russia and now she builds a new sanitary cordon (like in 1919) in order to deconstruct Eurasia and reinforce American agenda in our unlucky continent. Now Merkel advocates for the rapid adoption on the most infamous and perilous treaty of commerce in history, the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Dr Roberts has recently explained the meaning of 'Fast Track' expression and a courageous Guardian, last 27th may, has exposed the corruption of American Congress on this incredible yet terrible matter.

Why is Merkel so pro-American and anti-European?

Let us explain with the data we know the reasons of such nihilist and erratic behaviour.

  • Angela Merkel is not from East Germany (east-Germans are pro-Russian indeed, see lately the declaration of generals). She was born in Hamburg in 1954 (Federal Republic of Germany). Shortly after her birth, her family made the unusual choice of moving to the East. Her father, a pastor in the Lutheran church, founded a seminary in the German Democratic Republic and became director of a home for handicapped persons. He enjoyed a privileged social status, making frequent trips to the West.
  • She became politically involved in the Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth), the state organisation for young people. She rose within the organisation to the post of Secretary of the Agitprop department, becoming one of the main experts in political communication in the communist system. She enjoys selling her convictions.
  • In November 1989 The CIA attempted to take over by recruiting senior individuals. One month later, Merkel changed sides and joined the Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Revival), a movement inspired by the West German Christian Democrat party. As we know from history, these political parties in Europe are neither Christian nor democratic. They just serve American and business agendas. In order to avoid a mass exodus from the East to the West, Merkel argued strongly in favour of getting the GDR to join the market economy and the Deutschmark zone. Ultraliberal but never popular in Germany, her thesis finally imposed itself in Germany, like that of Sarkozy, her fellow neocon in France who definitely ousted any rest of Gaullism in this country.
  • Her second husband, Joachim Sauer, was recruited by the US Company Biosym Technology, spending a year at San Diego at the laboratory of this Pentagon contractor. He then joined Accelrys, another San Diego company carrying out contracts for the Pentagon. Of course Accelrys is traded on NASDAQ...
  • Helmut Kohl and his closest associates had apparently accepted money from obscure sources for the CDU. Angela Merkel then published a heroic-comical article in the Foreign Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which she distanced herself from her mentor. One can check that she repeatedly betrays her protectors... and electors (whose median age is of sixty).

Angela Merkel was then publicly supported by two press groups. Firstly, she was able to count on the support of Friede Springer, who had inherited the Axel Springer group (180 newspapers and magazines, including Bild and Die Welt). The group's journalists are required to sign an editorial agreement which lies down that they must work towards developing transatlantic links and defending the state of Israel. The other group is Bertelsmann.

Angela Merkel radically rejects European independence

In 2003, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opposed the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq. Angela Merkel then published a 'courageous' article in the Washington Post in which she rejected the Chirac-Schröder doctrine of European independence, affirmed her gratitude and friendship for "America" and supported this scandalous and ridiculous war. I quote some lines of this interesting act of submission to her American lords:

  • Because of decisive events, Europe and the United States now must redefine the nucleus of their domestic, foreign and security policy principles.

  • Aid to Turkey, our partner in the alliance, is blocked for days in the NATO Council by France, Belgium and Germany, a situation that undermines the very basis of NATO's legitimacy.

  • The Eastern European candidate countries for membership in the European Union were attacked by the French government because they have declared their commitment to the transatlantic partnership between Europe and the United States. She then threatens France, then a free country run by Chirac and Villepin, and advocates for what Gore Vidal quoted 'the perpetual war'... involving a 'perpetual peace':

  • Anyone who rejects military action as a last resort weakens the pressure that needs to be maintained on dictators and consequently makes a war not less but more likely.

  • Germany needs its friendship with France, but the benefits of that friendship can be realized only in close association with our old and new European partners, and within the transatlantic alliance with the United States.

Yet Merkel won the elections in 2007. She announced the abolition of graduated income tax, proposing that the rate should be the same for those who only just have what is necessary and those who live in luxury: maybe this is the a result of her Christian education?

The outgoing Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, severely criticized this proposal in a televised debate. The CDU's lead was decimated, and in the actual election, the CDU polled 35% of the votes and the SPD 34%, the remainder being spread amongst a number of small parties. The Germans didn't want Schröder any longer, but nor did they want Merkel. I repeat that she was imposed more than elected. As Stanley Payne, the famous American historian said about Spain (or any western democracy) that now politicians are 'not elected but chosen' by apparatus, agencies and 'visible hands' of the markets

These last weeks, "Mother" Merkel tries to re-launch the proposed merger of the North American Free Trade Area and the European Free Trade Area, thereby creating a "great transatlantic market" to use the words once pronounced by Sir Leon Brittan, a famous paedophile involved in scandals and bribes since, and mysteriously found dead a couple of months ago.

Let us se now some of their connections:

  • Merkel is publicly supported by Friede Springer, widow of West German press baron, Axel Springer, who's publishing conglomerate, the Springer Group secretly received around $7 million from the CIA in the early 1950's.
  • She is counseled by Jeffrey Gedmin. Gedmin is a regular columnist in Die Welt, a publication of the Springer Group. After becoming administrator of the Council of the Community of Democracies and director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin in 2001, Gedmin devoted himself exclusively to Merkel. Gedmin was too involved in the infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and wrote the chapter on Europe in the neocon programme. He argued that the European Union should remain under NATO authority and that this would only be possible by "discouraging European calls for emancipation".

We have never been so far from 'emancipation' now in Europe, and never been so near to a war with Russia and maybe (in order to satisfy American gruesome appetite) with Central Asia and China. In France, 61% of the people who had witnessed the war asserted in 1945 that we were saved by the Russian Army. Now, thanks to American propaganda backed by European collaborators, we are hardly 10% to know that fact. The rest is misled by propaganda, media, TV and films. Daniel Estulin speaks of a remade, of a re-fabricated past by US television and media agencies.

In a few years, Merkel has destroyed European solidarity, annihilated the German nuclear power plants (an old American obsession too), impoverished Germans and their once efficient Rheinisch and solitary economy, backed the 'mad dog' American diplomacy and created along with an irresponsible American administration (irresponsible because America will never win this kind of conflict) a dangerous crisis against Russia than can end on a war or a scandalous European partition.

See also: Germany Americanizes Europe

[Dec 17, 2015] A Blind Eye Toward Turkey's Crimes

Notable quotes:
"... The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other "respectable" sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful "group think" across Official Washington. ..."
December 16, 2015 | consortiumnews.com

A Blind Eye Toward Turkey's Crimes

To make the story even more compelling, an opposition leader braves the wrath of the autocrat by seeking to expose these intelligence schemes, including the cover-up of key evidence. The autocrat's government then seeks to prosecute the critic for "treason."

But the problem with this story, as far as the American government and press are concerned, is that the autocratic leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in charge of Turkey, a NATO ally and his hated neighbor is the much demonized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Major U.S. news outlets and political leaders also bought into the sarin deception and simply can't afford to admit that they once again misled the American people on a matter of war.

The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other "respectable" sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful "group think" across Official Washington.

Though a few independent media outlets, including Consortiumnews.com, challenged the rush to judgment and noted the lack of evidence regarding Assad's guilt, those doubts were brushed aside. (In an article on Aug. 30, 2013, I described the administration's "Government Assessment" blaming Assad as a "dodgy dossier," which offered not a single piece of verifiable proof.)

However, as with the "certainty" about Iraq's WMD a decade earlier, Every Important Person shared the Assad-did-it "group think." That meant - as far as Official Washington was concerned - that Assad had crossed President Barack Obama's "red line" against using chemical weapons. A massive U.S. retaliatory bombing strike was considered just days away.

... ... ...

But the "group think" was resistant to all empirical evidence. It was so powerful that even when the Turkish plot was uncovered by legendary investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, his usual publication, The New Yorker, refused to print it. Rebuffed in the United States – the land of freedom of the press – Hersh had to take the story to the London Review of Books to get it out in April 2014. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Was Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack?"]

... ... ...

In statements before parliament and to journalists, Erdem cited a derailed indictment that was begun by the General Prosecutor's Office in the southern Turkish city of Adana, with the criminal case number 2013/120.

Erdem said the prosecutor's office, using technical surveillance, discovered that an Al Qaeda jihadist named Hayyam Kasap acquired the sarin.

At the press conference, Erdem said, "Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism."

Erdem said the released operatives were allowed to cross the border into Syria and the criminal investigation was halted.

Another CHP deputy, Ali Şeker, added that the Turkish government misled the public by claiming Russia provided the sarin and that "Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a U.S. military intervention in Syria."

Erdem's disclosures, which he repeated in a recent interview with RT, the Russian network, prompted the Ankara Prosecutor's Office to open an investigation into Erdem for treason. Erdem defended himself, saying the government's actions regarding the sarin case besmirched Turkey's international reputation. He added that he also has been receiving death threats.

"The paramilitary organization Ottoman Hearths is sharing my address [on Twitter] and plans a raid [on my house]. I am being targeted with death threats because I am patriotically opposed to something that tramples on my country's prestige," Erdem said.

[Dec 16, 2015] Cornering Russia, Risking World War III

Notable quotes:
"... "The chance for a durable Washington-Moscow strategic partnership was lost in the 1990 after the Soviet Union ended. Actually it began to be lost earlier, because it was [President Ronald] Reagan and [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev who gave us the opportunity for a strategic partnership between 1985-89. ..."
"... "And it certainly ended under the Clinton Administration, and it didn't end in Moscow. It ended in Washington - it was squandered and lost in Washington. And it was lost so badly that today, and for at least the last several years (and I would argue since the Georgian war in 2008), we have literally been in a new Cold War with Russia. ..."
"... "TODAY THERE ARE NO RED LINES. One of the things that Putin and his predecessor President Medvedev keep saying to Washington is: You are crossing our Red Lines! And Washington said, and continues to say, 'You don't have any red lines. We have red lines and we can have all the bases we want around your borders, but you can't have bases in Canada or Mexico. Your red lines don't exist.' This clearly illustrates that today there are no mutual rules of conduct. ..."
"... "Another important point: Today there is absolutely no organized anti-Cold War or Pro-Detente political force or movement in the United States at all –– not in our political parties, not in the White House, not in the State Department, not in the mainstream media, not in the universities or the think tanks. … None of this exists today. … ..."
"... In practice, President Assad's imposed ouster precisely will empower ISIS, rather than implode it, and the consequences will ripple across the Middle East – and beyond. ..."
"... Indeed, ISIS and the other Caliphate forces have very clear human motivations and clearly articulated political objectives, and none of these is in any way consistent with the type of Syrian State that America says it wants for Syria. This precisely reflects the danger of becoming hostage to a certain narrative, rather than being willing to examine the prevailing conceptual framework more critically. ..."
"... unfortunately, today's reports seem to indicate that the White House and State Department are thinking primarily how to counter Russia's actions in Syria. They are worried, it was reported, that Russia is diminishing America's leadership in the world. ..."
"... Washington's disinclination to permit Russia any enhancement to its standing in Europe, or in the non-West, through its initiative strategically to defeat Wahhabist jihadism in Syria, is not only to play with fire in the Middle East. It is playing with a fire of even greater danger: to do both at the same time seems extraordinarily reckless. ..."
"... As Europe becomes accomplice in raising the various pressures on Russia in Syria – economically through sanctions and other financial measures , in Ukraine and Crimea, and in beckoning Montenegro, Georgia and the Baltic towards NATO – we should perhaps contemplate the paradox that Russia's determination to try to avoid war is leading to war. ..."
"... Russia's call to co-operate with Western states against the scourge of ISIS; its low-key and carefully crafted responses to such provocations as the ambush of its SU-24 bomber in Syria; and President Putin's calm rhetoric, are all being used by Washington and London to paint Russia as a "paper tiger," whom no one needs fear. ..."
"... In short, Russia is being offered only the binary choice: to acquiesce to the "benevolent" hegemon, or to prepare for war. ..."
Consortiumnews
Official Washington is awash with tough talk about Russia and the need to punish President Putin for his role in Ukraine and Syria. But this bravado ignores Russia's genuine national interests, its "red lines," and the risk that "tough-guy-ism" can lead to nuclear war, as Alastair Crooke explains.

We all know the narrative in which we (the West) are seized. It is the narrative of the Cold War: America versus the "Evil Empire." And, as Professor Ira Chernus has written, since we are "human" and somehow they (the USSR or, now, ISIS) plainly are not, we must be their polar opposite in every way.

"If they are absolute evil, we must be the absolute opposite. It's the old apocalyptic tale: God's people versus Satan's. It ensures that we never have to admit to any meaningful connection with the enemy." It is the basis to America's and Europe's claim to exceptionalism and leadership.

And "buried in the assumption that the enemy is not in any sense human like us, is [an] absolution for whatever hand we may have had in sparking or contributing to evil's rise and spread. How could we have fertilized the soil of absolute evil or bear any responsibility for its successes? It's a basic postulate of wars against evil: God's people must be innocent," (and that the evil cannot be mediated, for how can one mediate with evil).

Westerners may generally think ourselves to be rationalist and (mostly) secular, but Christian modes of conceptualizing the world still permeate contemporary foreign policy.

It is this Cold War narrative of the Reagan era, with its correlates that America simply stared down the Soviet Empire through military and – as importantly – financial "pressures," whilst making no concessions to the enemy.

What is sometimes forgotten, is how the Bush neo-cons gave their "spin" to this narrative for the Middle East by casting Arab national secularists and Ba'athists as the offspring of "Satan": David Wurmser was advocating in 1996, "expediting the chaotic collapse" of secular-Arab nationalism in general, and Baathism in particular. He concurred with King Hussein of Jordan that "the phenomenon of Baathism" was, from the very beginning, "an agent of foreign, namely Soviet policy."

Moreover, apart from being agents of socialism, these states opposed Israel, too. So, on the principle that if these were the enemy, then my enemy's enemy (the kings, Emirs and monarchs of the Middle East) became the Bush neo-cons friends. And they remain such today – however much their interests now diverge from those of the U.S.

The problem, as Professor Steve Cohen, the foremost Russia scholar in the U.S., laments, is that it is this narrative which has precluded America from ever concluding any real ability to find a mutually acceptable modus vivendi with Russia – which it sorely needs, if it is ever seriously to tackle the phenomenon of Wahhabist jihadism (or resolve the Syrian conflict).

What is more, the "Cold War narrative" simply does not reflect history, but rather the narrative effaces history: It looses for us the ability to really understand the demonized "calous tyrant" – be it (Russian) President Vladimir Putin or (Ba'athist) President Bashar al-Assad – because we simply ignore the actual history of how that state came to be what it is, and, our part in it becoming what it is.

Indeed the state, or its leaders, often are not what we think they are – at all. Cohen explains: "The chance for a durable Washington-Moscow strategic partnership was lost in the 1990 after the Soviet Union ended. Actually it began to be lost earlier, because it was [President Ronald] Reagan and [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev who gave us the opportunity for a strategic partnership between 1985-89.

"And it certainly ended under the Clinton Administration, and it didn't end in Moscow. It ended in Washington - it was squandered and lost in Washington. And it was lost so badly that today, and for at least the last several years (and I would argue since the Georgian war in 2008), we have literally been in a new Cold War with Russia.

"Many people in politics and in the media don't want to call it this, because if they admit, 'Yes, we are in a Cold War,' they would have to explain what they were doing during the past 20 years. So they instead say, 'No, it is not a Cold War.'

"Here is my next point. This new Cold War has all of the potential to be even more dangerous than the preceding 40-year Cold War, for several reasons. First of all, think about it. The epicentre of the earlier Cold War was in Berlin, not close to Russia. There was a vast buffer zone between Russia and the West in Eastern Europe.

"Today, the epicentre is in Ukraine, literally on Russia's borders. It was the Ukrainian conflict that set this off, and politically Ukraine remains a ticking time bomb. Today's confrontation is not only on Russia's borders, but it's in the heart of Russian-Ukrainian 'Slavic civilization.' This is a civil war as profound in some ways as was America's Civil War."

Cohen continued: "My next point: and still worse – You will remember that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Washington and Moscow developed certain rules-of-mutual conduct. They saw how dangerously close they had come to a nuclear war, so they adopted "No-Nos,' whether they were encoded in treaties or in unofficial understandings. Each side knew where the other's red line was. Both sides tripped over them on occasion but immediately pulled back because there was a mutual understanding that there were red lines.

"TODAY THERE ARE NO RED LINES. One of the things that Putin and his predecessor President Medvedev keep saying to Washington is: You are crossing our Red Lines! And Washington said, and continues to say, 'You don't have any red lines. We have red lines and we can have all the bases we want around your borders, but you can't have bases in Canada or Mexico. Your red lines don't exist.' This clearly illustrates that today there are no mutual rules of conduct.

"Another important point: Today there is absolutely no organized anti-Cold War or Pro-Detente political force or movement in the United States at all –– not in our political parties, not in the White House, not in the State Department, not in the mainstream media, not in the universities or the think tanks. … None of this exists today. …

"My next point is a question: Who is responsible for this new Cold War? I don't ask this question because I want to point a finger at anyone. The position of the current American political media establishment is that this new Cold War is all Putin's fault – all of it, everything. We in America didn't do anything wrong. At every stage, we were virtuous and wise and Putin was aggressive and a bad man. And therefore, what's to rethink? Putin has to do all of the rethinking, not us."

These two narratives, the Cold War narrative, and the neocons' subsequent "spin" on it: i.e. Bill Kristol's formulation (in 2002) that precisely because of its Cold War "victory," America could, and must, become the "benevolent global hegemon," guaranteeing and sustaining the new American-authored global order – an "omelette that cannot be made without breaking eggs" – converge and conflate in Syria, in the persons of President Assad and President Putin.

President Obama is no neocon, but he is constrained by the global hegemon legacy, which he must either sustain, or be labeled as the arch facilitator of America's decline. And the President is also surrounded by R2P ("responsibility-to-protect") proselytizers, such as Samantha Power, who seem to have convinced the President that "the tyrant" Assad's ouster would puncture and collapse the Wahhabist jihadist balloon, allowing "moderate" jihadists such as Ahrar al-Sham to finish off the deflated fragments of the punctured ISIS balloon.

In practice, President Assad's imposed ouster precisely will empower ISIS, rather than implode it, and the consequences will ripple across the Middle East – and beyond. President Obama privately may understand the nature and dangers of the Wahhabist cultural revolution, but seems to adhere to the conviction that everything will change if only President Assad steps down. The Gulf States said the same about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. He has gone (for now), but what changed? ISIS got stronger.

Of course if we think of ISIS as evil, for evil's sake, bent on mindless, whimsical slaughter, "what a foolish task it obviously [would be] to think about the enemy's actual motives. After all, to do so would be to treat them as humans, with human purposes arising out of history. It would smack of sympathy for the devil. Of course," Professor Chernus continues, "this means that, whatever we might think of their actions, we generally ignore a wealth of evidence that the Islamic State's fighters couldn't be more human or have more comprehensible motivations."

Indeed, ISIS and the other Caliphate forces have very clear human motivations and clearly articulated political objectives, and none of these is in any way consistent with the type of Syrian State that America says it wants for Syria. This precisely reflects the danger of becoming hostage to a certain narrative, rather than being willing to examine the prevailing conceptual framework more critically.

America lies far away from Syria and the Middle East, and as Professor Stephen Cohen notes, "unfortunately, today's reports seem to indicate that the White House and State Department are thinking primarily how to counter Russia's actions in Syria. They are worried, it was reported, that Russia is diminishing America's leadership in the world."

It is a meme of perpetual national insecurity, of perpetual fears about America's standing and of challenges to its standing, Professor Chernus suggests.

But Europe is not "far away"; it lies on Syria's doorstep. It is also neighbor to Russia. And in this connection, it is worth pondering Professor Cohen's last point: Washington's disinclination to permit Russia any enhancement to its standing in Europe, or in the non-West, through its initiative strategically to defeat Wahhabist jihadism in Syria, is not only to play with fire in the Middle East. It is playing with a fire of even greater danger: to do both at the same time seems extraordinarily reckless.

Cohen again:

"The false idea [has taken root] that the nuclear threat ended with the Soviet Union: In fact, the threat became more diverse and difficult. This is something the political elite forgot. It was another disservice of the Clinton Administration (and to a certain extent the first President Bush in his re-election campaign) saying that the nuclear dangers of the preceding Cold War era no longer existed after 1991. The reality is that the threat grew, whether by inattention or accident, and is now more dangerous than ever."

As Europe becomes accomplice in raising the various pressures on Russia in Syria – economically through sanctions and other financial measures, in Ukraine and Crimea, and in beckoning Montenegro, Georgia and the Baltic towards NATO – we should perhaps contemplate the paradox that Russia's determination to try to avoid war is leading to war.

Russia's call to co-operate with Western states against the scourge of ISIS; its low-key and carefully crafted responses to such provocations as the ambush of its SU-24 bomber in Syria; and President Putin's calm rhetoric, are all being used by Washington and London to paint Russia as a "paper tiger," whom no one needs fear.

In short, Russia is being offered only the binary choice: to acquiesce to the "benevolent" hegemon, or to prepare for war.

Alastair Crooke is a British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, which advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West. [This article also appeared at the Conflicts Forum's Web site and is republished with permission.]

[Dec 16, 2015] Big Banks Caught Using Credit Default Swaps To Destroy Nations

Notable quotes:
"... when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to manipulate the $500 trillion, LIBOR debt market ..."
"... when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to launder trillions for the global drug cartels and "terrorist" entities, despite the supposed "wars" the U.S. claims to be fighting against drugs and terrorism ..."
"... The Vampire Squid Firmly Attached To The Face Of Humanity ..."
"... As far as I can gather, the World Bank and the IMF are apart of the very same Cartel that own/control the Central Banks. ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | Zero Hedge

Then we have the confessions of the criminals. A full one-quarter of Wall Street's and London's senior banking executives freely admit that crime is a way of life in their industry -- organized crime. Even in our justice system (or what remains of it), once armed with confessions, the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" no longer applies – the guilt is conceded.

The Big Banks manipulate credit default swaps to perpetrate economic terrorism against other nations in the world, where they literally destroy the economies of those victim-nations. It used to be a theory, but now the proof is finally emerging. You heard it here first.

LawsofPhysics

So what? Has any of the bank management/leaders gone to prison and lost all their wealth?

Ghordius

good article

"when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to manipulate the $500 trillion, LIBOR debt market"

(Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc agreed to plead guilty to felony charges of conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros)

"when the Big Banks were caught and convicted of conspiring to launder trillions for the global drug cartels and "terrorist" entities, despite the supposed "wars" the U.S. claims to be fighting against drugs and terrorism"

(Wells Fargo and JPMorgan)

and of course, The Vampire Squid Firmly Attached To The Face Of Humanity, Goldman Sachs, The Great Destroyer

commoncourtesy

Fancy-free please will you explain further.

As far as I can gather, the World Bank and the IMF are apart of the very same Cartel that own/control the Central Banks. All are controlled by the BIS who is run/controlled by pretty much all the same criminals on a merry-go-round. Throw in the Vatican, The Crown (BAR) Temple - The City of London, Washington DC, the Rothschild's et al, puppet Governments (and their military) on the same payroll and the world is pretty much screwed.

Who are the Board of Governors you are talking about?

Who is this coalition?

Please name names.

Can you vouch for their credibility or are they part of the corrupt cartel?

There is far TOO MUCH SECRECY going on.

If everything was more transparent, out of the shadows and open the world would not be in the state is in today.

Closed dealings, complexity and behind the curtain negotiations promote corruption.

How can justice be served when most public jurors would not be able to understand the fraudulent accounting practices being utilised?

What is the TRUTH?

andrewp111

A big load of bullshit. The US has its own currency and that currency is backed by military power. Greece is a subordinate vassal state of the EU. There is no comparison between the two.

[Dec 14, 2015] The long-cherished neocon dream of "regime change" in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis

consortiumnews.com
anne,
https://consortiumnews.com/2015/12/12/blocking-democracy-as-syrias-solution/

December 12, 2015

Blocking Democracy as Syria's Solution By Robert Parry

The long-cherished neocon dream of "regime change" in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis – a ceasefire followed by elections in which President Assad could compete. The problem is there's no guarantee that Assad would lose and thus the dream might go unfulfilled.
By Robert Parry

The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy – letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders – but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni "allies," including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don't want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of "regime change."

Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn't even want the word "democracy" included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, "Islamist delegates objected to using the word 'democracy' in the final statement, so the term 'democratic mechanism' was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting."

Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.

Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn't "confirm the Muslim identity of our people." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.

Despite Ahrar al-Sham's rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn't aware of his group's announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.

"All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down," wrote Times' correspondent Ben Hubbard.

But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.

Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians – and if that's true, he would presumably lose any fair election – the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring "regime change" in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington's neoconservatives.

In other words, to fulfill the neocons' dream of Syrian "regime change," the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.

For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference "terrorists" and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. "They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don't think anyone would accept in any country," Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only "deal with the real, patriotic national opposition."

Kinks in the Process

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, "there are some questions and obviously a couple of – in our judgment – kinks to be worked out" though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.

A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of "regime change" that Obama doesn't feel that he can back down on his "Assad must go!" mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called "a safe zone" inside Syria. A related "no-fly zone" would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.

Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni "allies" to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda's Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda's spinoff (and now rival), the Islamic State.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama's choice of aiding the jihadists a "willful decision," even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.

In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that "The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria." The report also said that "If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria" and that "ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria."

Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that "Assad must go!" and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad's forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited – and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side – the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.

By demonizing Assad – much like the demonization of Russian President Putin – Obama may feel that he is deploying "soft power" propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible....

ilsm -> anne...
The Syria terror consortium was in Riyadh checking in with their bankers. To the Sunni democracy is apostate anathema.
anne -> ilsm...
I understand the frustration and beyond, after all I read about Yemen being bombed with American bombs and target sightings and I cannot imagine the policy incentives driving us.

Nonetheless, the Yemen bombings go on day on day on day.

anne -> ilsm...
Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen? Who could possibly ever understand, but our policy makers act as though they do.

[Dec 14, 2015] Barack Obama warns leaders of Islamic State in speech: 'you are next'

Notable quotes:
"... There is no far left in Europe any more. Since the Merkels, Hollandes, Blairs and Rasmussens of this world were planted in prominent positions because of their excruciatingly statusquo orientation, even the moderate left has practically ceased to exist. We now have rabid right or moderately rabid right to choose from, except for a few notable exceptions. ..."
"... Obama does not have a clue, he has lost the plot. He is backing Saudi Arabia who are the biggest instigators of terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is announcing a 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism. ..."
"... Seems to me that IS was created, either accidentally or deliberately, by the US and its success has gone beyond the US administrations worst nightmare? When the US refuses slam Turkey for it's recent shoot-down of the Russian plane, and do anything to support Iraq in getting rid of unwanted Turkish military near Mosul, within Iraq and near the IS capital, nor wanting to know about Turkish involvement supplying Sarin gas agents to IS, or stopping Turkey supplying food and arms to IS, and receiving stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil as payment, nor preventing Turkey from being the transit centre and R R centre for IS recruits, then maybe its time to assume that IS is the deliberate brainchild of the US, and that Turkey is playing to the US tune and protection, for promises of territory in a future carve up of Iraq and or Syria. ..."
"... Seems that ISIL, ISIS, IS and Daesh are all names invented by the US to spread the narrative through the media. They all mean US proxy army to me. Just my opinion. ..."
"... Perhaps that is because ISIS doesn't actually occupy territory as such. As Mr. Knight says, they are an ideology, an idea. An idea, unfortunately in this case, doesn't live in houses in prescribed areas any more than Republicanism lives in Chicago. The way forward has to involve NOT creating another 10,000 new mortal enemies in the Middle East every day. Even if only twelve innocent people had died in Iraq in 2003, instead of the hundreds of thousands who actually did, one could understand very large groups of people related to the victims cursing the US for its irresponsible meddling. ..."
"... Incredibly ignorant of the president. The US lives in sin with the Saudis. As long as the Saudis keep importing Wahhabism out of their country to others, the problem will exist. ..."
"... We bombed the Taliban. We bombed Al Qaeda. Neither lead to anything more than establishing the rise of ISIS in the destabilised areas we had bombed. ..."
"... The biggest contribution America can make to getting rid of Isis is to persuade its friends and allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey mainly - to turn off the tap of finance, munitions and logistics to Isis, Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) and its allies like Ahrar Al Sham. No American ground troops needed; they would be counter-productive. ..."
"... The secular Syrian government, with women in its ranks, is fighting for its life against a most ruthless and abominable enemy: fanatical jihadist mercenaries financed by an execrable mediaeval tyranny, Saudi Barbaria. This is the enemy of all we stand for, the enemy that perpetrated 9/11 and 7/7 and their latest clone that bombed Paris concert-goers and Russian holiday-makers. They are paid and trained by Riyadh. And armed to the teeth with modern American weapons, passed to them by the newest demagogue, Turkey's Erdo an. ..."
"... The sworn enemy of all these head-chopping bigots is Assad's secular republic of Syria because it challenges the ideological dogmatism of Sharia Law. This law is as rigid as Hitler's Nazism or Stalin's communism. ..."
"... I wonder if because 'a few weeks' was finally taken to supposedly destroy this critical infrastructure - if the 'evasive' ISIL oil business - along with revenues - will suffer? I also wonder why the air campaign hasn't been extended to include the purchasers of ISIL's oil supplies - at sea and in their home countries. ..."
"... Isis must ultimately be defeated by Muslim forces, or we'll be manufacturing radical faster than we can kill them. ..."
"... The Muslims seem to be manufacturing radicals quickly enough without any help from us. ..."
"... What have they been doing for the last two years then? No attacks on ISIS trucks transporting oil, no sanctions on countries that have been buying that oil. We only get some action now that Russia has been attacking ISIS in Syria and of course there is minimal reporting of the successes of the Russians in Western media. As far as Libya is concerned, there are very ominous signs that ISIS is moving to set up headquarters in that country, a country a lot closer to Europe than Syria or Iraq are. There is also the problem that the Russians will not be involved in Libya, unlike Syria, they do not have a functioning government to ask them in. Libya is the nightmare created by NATO and the US, they will have to take full responsibility for their dreadful actions there and fight the barbarians they created, no sitting back and allowing them to flourish this time. ..."
"... What a farce, who does Obama think he's kidding? If the US was serious about ISIS it would have been finished off a year ago, now that Russia has called the US's bluff they now have to pretend to step up to the plate. Pathetic. ..."
"... More drivel from the counterfeit president. His allies in the middle east are disgusting butchers. Take Turkey: it is a great shame for Turkey that 32 journalists are imprisoned in the 21st century. Some were arrested on Nov. 26 after being charged in May with espionage, revealing confidential documents and membership in a terrorist organization. The charges are related to a report published by a leading newspaper claiming weapons-loaded trucks that were discovered in January 2014 en route to Syria actually belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (M T) and had been sent to provide support to rebel groups. ..."
The Guardian


ricohflex 14 Dec 2015 22:26

Talk big but no action. Hot air. Everybody knows now.
After the Syria red line fiasco, the whole world knows US president makes empty promises.
In the next TV broadcast, he will give excuses why he cannot do it. Then he will repeat "No Boots On The Ground". Then the US president will blame Congress for not giving him permission to do the most basic things.
...
Now in end-2015 Obama has only ONE thing on his mind.
He wants to preserve the legacy of his presidency.
He does not want to do anything to risk the presidency being blamed.
He does not want to take any mis-step.
It is a Zero Risk environment in the White House now.
He dares not even reveal the truth on what country's air space the SU-24 was flying in, when it was shot down.
It will just be TALK from now on until the next president takes over in 2016.


wardropper -> LupusCanis 14 Dec 2015 22:21

There is no "far left" in Europe any more. Since the Merkels, Hollandes, Blairs and Rasmussens of this world were planted in prominent positions because of their excruciatingly statusquo orientation, even the moderate "left" has practically ceased to exist. We now have rabid right or moderately rabid right to choose from, except for a few notable exceptions.


GerdT 14 Dec 2015 22:21

Looking out the window I can see the hills that mark the border to Cambodia and not far away Vietnam. I still remember the speeches given during the Vietnam War and how close victory was. The bombs dropped on these countries including North Vietnam during the war exceeded what was dropped during WWII in the Atlantic/European and the Pacific theater of war. Still, it was a US helicopter that left from the American Embassy in Saigon that concluded that war, with the US going home and into denial about the outcome of that war.

The apocalypse foreseen by the prophets of doomsday painting a picture of an Asian continent that would turn into a communist infested threat to human kind didn't happen.

I have been recently in Vietnam and Cambodia and seen that people get on with their lives and economies that try to improve for the coming ASEAN community. Without help from western countries they have started to rebuild what was left of their countries after the champion of democracy had left. As the peanut farmer and former President Jimmy Carter said, the destruction was mutual and hence Vietnam didn't deserve any compensation for the unbelievable collateral damage caused by US intervention in this country. If the US was really trying to protect democracy or as Bill Clinton described it protecting National Security, which he defined as US business interests and given the US a right to interfere in any country that tries to threaten them, is a debatable point.

During the following decades the US again would raise terror and war in countries to ensure that the branding of democracy they preferred would be exported. South Vietnam hadn't been a democracy when the US decided to send troops across and the political leaders of that country came from the military, granting themselves the titles of president and minister, but holding the country in the same grip as in the North the communist did. From South America to the Middle East the US supported groups and leaders that were favorable to US business interests. The Taliban were a useful tool to drive out the Soviet Union only to become a haven for Bin Laden and his followers. Iraq has turned into a political and humanitarian nightmare and ISIL that was as a startup supplied with weapons and training by the US to drive out Assad from Syria is now the greatest threat to world peace according to the US.

We only have to take a look at the close friends and allies of the US in the Middle East and South America to understand how they spell democracy and human rights. Maybe it is time to listen to the millions of people with families that want to live in peace and are tired of foreign interference in their countries. Instead of supplying arms and support to people that favor the western or eastern political view, we should start to invest and rebuild these countries to ensure they can become equal and respected partners within the global community.

Phil Atkinson 14 Dec 2015 22:18

What a joke! Ashton Carter to visit the Middle East to jockey along the Arab states - the same people that the USA supplies weapons to, that end up with terrorists. Or Turkey, that erstwhile NATO member which has been stealing Syrian oil and selling it to Israel and speaking of Israel, that country still illegally occupying the Golan Heights in Syria and aiding and abetting Al-Nusra Front fighters and bombing inside Syria.

Ashton Carter is a dangerous fool, who believes his own government's propaganda. He should be kept at home.

SomersetApples 14 Dec 2015 22:08

Obama does not have a clue, he has lost the plot. He is backing Saudi Arabia who are the biggest instigators of terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is announcing a 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism.

Informed17 14 Dec 2015 22:08

If ISIS does not do what Obama says, US-led coalition of 60+ countries will destroy another pair of Islamist excavators. I am sure ISIS leaders are scared shitless.

RocketSurgeon 14 Dec 2015 22:03

Seems to me that IS was created, either accidentally or deliberately, by the US and its success has gone beyond the US administrations worst nightmare?
When the US refuses slam Turkey for it's recent shoot-down of the Russian plane, and do anything to support Iraq in getting rid of unwanted Turkish military near Mosul, within Iraq and near the IS capital, nor wanting to know about Turkish involvement supplying Sarin gas agents to IS, or stopping Turkey supplying food and arms to IS, and receiving stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil as payment, nor preventing Turkey from being the transit centre and R & R centre for IS recruits, then maybe its time to assume that IS is the deliberate brainchild of the US, and that Turkey is playing to the US tune and protection, for promises of territory in a future carve up of Iraq and or Syria.

Seems that ISIL, ISIS, IS and Daesh are all names invented by the US to spread the narrative through the media. They all mean US proxy army to me.
Just my opinion.

readerofgrauniad -> Stephen_Sean 14 Dec 2015 22:01

But who are the good boys in this? To end the war, Asad is probably the best option, and compared to IS he looks like a saint.


wardropper -> Lech1980 14 Dec 2015 21:59

Perhaps that is because ISIS doesn't actually occupy "territory" as such. As Mr. Knight says, they are an ideology, an idea. An idea, unfortunately in this case, doesn't live in houses in prescribed areas any more than Republicanism lives in Chicago. The way forward has to involve NOT creating another 10,000 new mortal enemies in the Middle East every day. Even if only twelve innocent people had died in Iraq in 2003, instead of the hundreds of thousands who actually did, one could understand very large groups of people related to the victims cursing the US for its irresponsible meddling. I would imagine our enemies over there number about 50 million by now, and nobody in human history has been able to survive having that many enemies...

Thomas Hancock 14 Dec 2015 21:55

Incredibly ignorant of the president. The US lives in sin with the Saudis. As long as the Saudis keep importing Wahhabism out of their country to others, the problem will exist. The thing you learn from history is that no one learns anything from history. Maybe someone can get a time machine and go back to kill Ho Chi Minh, and Vietnam will be a capitalist paradise. This is the same strategy that helped create ISIS in the first place.

Bernard Knight 14 Dec 2015 21:55

We bombed the Taliban. We bombed Al Qaeda. Neither lead to anything more than establishing the rise of ISIS in the destabilised areas we had bombed. What is the point?

1ClearSense -> Stephen_Sean 14 Dec 2015 21:48

Is that right? You mean when they hit 1050 oil tanker trucks, that's nothing? US followed up hitting 300. They stopped oil revenues for ISIS, and reduced their revenues by 50 %. The number of sorties they have run on ISIS has been considerably more than US. They have also hit other terrorists to secure the rear, so Syrian troops can move on ISIS. You guys are brainwashed.


Budovski Ximples -> AaronClausen 14 Dec 2015 21:42

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-turkey-and-saudi-arabia-shock-western-countries-by-supporting-anti-assad-jihadists-10242747.html


pierotg LupusCanis 14 Dec 2015 21:42

"the US has killed 23,000 ISIL members in airstrikes"

Who told you? Disney Channel? Anyone can lie to you as long as you are behind a TV screen. It's quite an easy task (having sufficient intelligence resources and money of course)... It's incredibly obvious it would be sufficient hitting the financing of those mercenaries or not to buy the oil they are selling. You know all that "intelligence resources, analysts, linguists, SIGINT experts...". If only the US government wanted really. And yet what is ISIS? Quite a volatile entity... looks like franchising terror... IS/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will "desappear" when it won't be useful anymore. And they will only find a new name whenever a new proxy ground army should be required.

"Kremlinbot"? The cold war revamping has seduced you. Let me rimand you this facts:

  • In 2014 the USA has spent in its military expenditure more than 600 Bn $.
  • Russia is around 80.
  • It's been estimated that after WWII the USA caused the death of about 30 million people all over the planet (challenging Stalin scores).

You'll find the facts... Not on Disnet Channel though.

After the dissolution of USSR it was clear that it was not "the enemy" anymore. Yet the Ministry of Defence (and its industry) need powerful and fearsome enemies!
Et voilà, despite what the Ministry fo Truth says, after 20 years of tranquillity it's Russia getting sourranded by military bases along its borders, losing Ukraine (and possibly its strategic Crimea) and now directly challenged in Syria (where they have military bases). Doesn't Russia have the right to "defend" itself and have allies? They have a Ministry of Defense too...

What if Russia had intervened to topple king Salman of Suadi Arabia because of him being a fearsome dictator? Yet no one did nothing when the "arab spring" was brutally repressed in the region (with the help of the USA).

It's quite hard not to admit the USA has been quite agressive and active ... So whose to blame for this warfare and new cold war tensions? You might be more biased and less Whitehousebot.

PS
Of course I'm not russian.

Bernard Knight 14 Dec 2015 21:40

At it's core ISIS, ISL, DEASH, call them what you will, are a murderous death cult using jihad and the establishment of a califate as their raison d'etre. They are an ideology, an idea. No amounts of bombing or taking territory will annihilate that idea. Perhaps it should be the Islamic world that tackles this threat, starting with first and foremost, our foremost arms purchasers, Saudi Arabia.

Shatford Shatford 14 Dec 2015 21:34

Asked if Obama had consciously chosen to make his rhetoric more aggressive for public benefit, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said when the president meets the national security council, "he is not looking at public opinion polls".

Obvious bullshit. It's this kind of Hilary Clinton-like waffling rhetoric and pandering to opinion polls is what is driving the popularity of Donald Trump's campaign.

Nolan Harding 14 Dec 2015 21:25

The Islamic state is surrounded by hostile forces, they are under siege so how are they getting ammunition, refined gasoline, food, internet service and all thier Toyota trucks. Obviously the forces surrounding them are not that hostile. A real siege would have seen them starving to death years ago. Like in Leningrad...now THAT was a siege and REAL war, not this strategic game the deluded masses think is a ' war'.


JMWong 14 Dec 2015 21:24

Obama has missed the opportunity to announce that hw would the bunch of criminals consisting of Bush, Cheney, Blair, Rumsfeld, Allbright, McCain, Cameron, Hollande, etc. to the International Tribunal for trial for their crimes against humanity. They have murdered millions of people.


bunkusmystic -> burnel 14 Dec 2015 21:18

Have a look at the latest Isis videos they have all the latest American weapons ... How do you think they get them? Is it private citizens in Saudi who buy them or the government ... The Saudis want the Iraqi and Syrian oil fields and they are using this Isis fabrication to get them. If the coalition is so serious about fighting Isis how is it that thousands of oil tankers pass through turkey each day? With no one noticing??? It's only Russia who is taking real action


tjmars 14 Dec 2015 21:17

This is to draw the heat-seeker foreign press away from the Mad Turk Erdogan who is fake-begging the Russians to prove the accusations that Erdogan Jr is running "red-stained oil" to major buyers on the Turkish black market...
Ooops!...don't want to know who those 'terrorist supporting capitalists" are!...
Is this an example of 'laissez-faire" in Late Capitalism...a "bubble" for risk-taking investors?
Whew! Its a good thing "Soylent Green" was a fictional commodity in movies or the funeral homes would be void of any "dead meat" for ritual burials..
Thanlks to Capitalism, we will one day see the mythical "dog-eat-dog" aphorism come to light with "god-damned" good profits...
The western central bankers weren't 'standing behind the curtain" pulling the levers of power again were they?
Do a litmus test on their 'red tooth and claw' mentality...
Hey where did they go?
Obama made them disappear with his speech!


clashcr 14 Dec 2015 21:14

Hmm, not a word about Assad. Well US policy about radical Islam - take your pick there are nearly 20 groups in Syria - is about it being overt and not covert. So, they are pleased when radicals show their faces and establish territory because it attracts more radicals to leave the west to go there to be killed. The other result may be that the moderates like the Muslim Brotherhood who may seriously have been talking about a pan-Islamic Caliphate and Sharia law have seen their cause put back by decades.


JMWong -> sage10 14 Dec 2015 21:12


If the USA wants to fight ISIS, it must attack ISIS at its source, that is, the countries where the ISIS fighters originate. This means Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA itself, UK, France, etc. Bomb these countries and the sources of ISIS fighters will dry up.

sashasmirnoff 14 Dec 2015 21:09

I apologize for deviating slightly from this story, but I have a link to share concerning what would usually be considered a sensational story, but this paper has neglected to cover it. A Turkish Parliamentarian has come forward with documented proof that in 2013 Turkey supplied IS with the components to manufacture Sarin gas and facilitated their transport to the IS in Syria. I have no idea why the Guardian doesn't consider this to be newsworthy.

https://www.rt.com/news/325825-sarin-gas-syria-turkey/

sage10 14 Dec 2015 20:59

I still see nothing but a PR blitz here. The strategy has not changed. The claims of success are over-rated. ISIS still controls large swathes of territory; and more importantly, it has shown it can project power internationally...all the way to the US...through sleeper cells and lone wolf attacks. The only way to deal with such a pernicious organization is a full on-the-ground massive combined arms assault: armor, air power, and heavy infantry. It won't take a Desert Storm type campaign, as ISIS is no where near as large as Saddam's army; but it will take a real coordinated military campaign with boots-on-the-ground to seize and hold territory. No question about that. Obama won't commit to that type strategy, so it will be up to the next President to do so, as ISIS will still be around by then, given Obama's reliance solely on air power.


giorgio16 14 Dec 2015 20:59

...is Obama aware that Russia is already fighting isis,...and from the right side?... or he is pretending he is in charge now?
...Saudis are fighting shias in Yemen on one side, creating a humanitarian disaster no one wants to acknowledge, and Assad in Sirya on the other creating another disaster convenniently blamed on Assad by Obama and co...interesting times ahead...


TomGray 14 Dec 2015 20:43

Obama used the same decapitation tactic against Al Queda. Al Queda destabilized because of it and morphed into ISIS. There is no shortage of people who want to become leaders in any organization. Obama's tactics may hinder ISIS but they will not cause the organized violence that it currently represents to disappear. The players may change but the game remains the same.

Decapitation can only be part of an effective strategy and so far Obama has not demonstrated that he has the capability to draw together the other essential elements


ID4352889 -> DogsLivesMatter 14 Dec 2015 20:41

Saudi flew thousands of Jihadists out of Syria a while ago and sent them to Libya. It is well documented. The West did not interfere. Presumably for the same reasons they didn't interfere with the Turkey/Daesh oil scam.


DelOrtoyVerga 14 Dec 2015 20:35

Hurry up Obama before the Ruskies steal your thunder! or the few sparks that are left by now that is...
Mwahahaha...

I'm sure these special forces, these token "boots on the ground" you are sending will be exclusively focusing on ISIL and are not being sent to undermine the Syrian government or their allies, I repeat the special forces ARE NOT BEING SENT TO UNDERMINE THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT OR THEIR ALLIES.

HowSicklySeemAll 14 Dec 2015 20:26

Why did the US wait until now to 'drop more bombs than ever before'?

Russian foreign minister recently stated that:

"We have noticed that the US-led coalition stepped up its fight against IS only after Russia dispatched a combat air group…to Syria. The coalition efforts undertaken in Syria earlier could be described as odd, to say the least… This brings to mind NATO's operations in Afghanistan… We don't want the fight…to be feigned."

DomesticExtremist 14 Dec 2015 20:13

Can we assume from this that the fix is in: Kilary has been selected for Pres and Obomber has to roll the pitch on her behalf so that she can hit the ground running?

"We came, we saw, they died. (insane cackle)."

Look out for some killer blow to be landed on the Donald soon.

Sualdam -> meewaan 14 Dec 2015 20:10

The biggest contribution America can make to getting rid of Isis is to "persuade" its friends and allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey mainly - to turn off the tap of finance, munitions and logistics to Isis, Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) and its allies like Ahrar Al Sham. No American ground troops needed; they would be counter-productive.

MrJanuary 14 Dec 2015 19:55

Well done Russia for mobilizing the worlds second largest military force, the USA, in Syria against ISIS.


robertthebruce2014 -> MasonInNY 14 Dec 2015 19:48

We love Putin here in Europe, at least he defends European interests. The USA is only defending Saudi and Israeli interest. We are currently in the process of breaking up the NATO coalition. The USA can stick with Turkey, Israel, and the Saudis.


pierotg 14 Dec 2015 19:43

December 2015: "We are hitting Isil harder than ever" .

July 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2NkjNvwuaU

!!! Look at the eys of that general behind, please! He was falling almost asleep and then ... frozen! Is it just my impression? That would be really hilarious if we weren't talking about war and crimes against humanity.

Please, stop lying this way.
This is far too much. This is alienating.

The USA and UK governments are loosing all that was left of their credibility and reliability in the last decade and the only strategy left seems to make the big lie bigger than ever. This is like shouting at the world "I can do whatever suits me and f**k the rest!"
Even their relationships with their EU partners have proved slick.

I've been listening to politicians speeches and interviews lately and found myself thinking: "That autocrat and ex KGB agent ruling Russia sounds much less hypocrite and far more competent". What if you could choose between Putin or Trump to represent your country (just as if they were sport pros you could hire for your team)?

This is far too much. This won't do any good and nuclear weapons can still destroy our planet in 30 minutes. Whoever is behind this mess what's going to profit then? This is obscene incompetence and fearsome irresponsibility.

In my teens Steve Stevens's Top Gun Theme got me goosebumps... On my Strat guitar there has been a Union Jack pickguard for 25 years... What shall I tell my son when he will ask me why I removed the original white one? I'm getting quite embarrassed.

Is it the End of the World as We know it? Yet I don't feel fine.


1ClearSense 14 Dec 2015 19:40

Yemen is the poorest Arab country with limited resources. The Saudis, along with a slew of other Arab regimes have been bombing the Yemeni military and Houthi militia who were clearing up Al Qaeda out of Yemen pretty good, for 9 months.

In the summer the Saudis and UAE sheiks decided to send ground forces to "liberate" Yemen. Other than taking some part of southern Yemen with the help of separatists and jihadis of all sort, they failed in their mission. A single attack on Saudi military caused dozens of Saudi and Emarati dead. The Emaratis decided on Colombian mercenaries, the Saudi paid Sudanese military to send troops. Yesterday the Yemenis killed a large number of these mercenaries (anywhere between 80 to 150) including the Saudi commander and another high official and a Emarati officer.

Southern Yemen, the "Saudi liberated" areas is being taken over by al Qaeda piece by piece, and also ISIS has become very active. The idea that these Arab regimes can be productive in anything to defeat jihadi terror is a pipe dream. It is all about public relations and having "Sunni Arabs" along to defeat "Sunni Arabs" jihadis. This is so completely miscalculation that will backfire. Saudis and their crew have no desire or ability to defeat the wahhabi terrorists. The time has come to see it as what it is, the only way to defeat the jihadi terrorists is teaming up with the people who are being successful, and that doesn't include the Arab tyrannies.


Panda Bear -> Steven Wallace 14 Dec 2015 19:33

Did your father know offices controlled by the \British at Suez were apparently given over to the Moslem Brotherhood? UK used Islamic extremists back then and US has continued the policy it appears.

I was recently reminded of Churchill's speech about the possibility of Germans invading Britain... "We'll fight them on the beeches" etc. Wonder if the Germans would have considered the British fighters terrorists if they had managed to occupy Britain?
Occupation by foreign forces is ok if it's our forces or our allies and our enemies cannot resist or they are designated as terrorists... National Sovereignty is disregarded whole sale by US/NATO and allies.

One rule for us, another for 'them'! Hypocrisy reigns supreme.


Steven Wallace -> Zara Thustra 14 Dec 2015 19:32

haha ok well thats too simplistic Mr Zarathustra . The issue with Islamic fundamentalism is that it uses a religion to kill innocents without targeting anyone of any real importance . The Koran has not changed like the New Testament but I really do not believe that modern day Muslims who pray would all wish to kill me because I am not a Muslim .

That scare mongering is simply a distraction ,as George Bush said " Who is this Bin Laden ?" Well I would have said " You know him George ,his family financed your oil business ,they are friends of your family ".

All Muslims are scary to us while the real issues are being ignored 24/7

The Bible is full of evil concepts ,why not consider ourselves in the West as evil Christians ?

Not me though ,I'm an atheist


LewisFriend -> Miramon 14 Dec 2015 19:32

Well Assad wasn't massacring people either till their was an uprising.. Yet in Syria people were a lot more free than Saudi.. They also don't have the CIA on the ground encouraging one. Be under no illusions the ruling Saudi clique are animals.


WatchEm 14 Dec 2015 19:30

Barack Obama warns leaders of Islamic State in speech: 'you are next'

Threats like that are enough to get my parrot squawking with laughter - forget any "terrorists" or anyone with a live brain cell.

Yet more tries to reassure a domestic audience, who unlike the majority of nations, apparently live in fear, and need convincing that the USG is doing something and "leading the way" in their declared "War on Terrorism". It's like having to tolerate listening to the banality of what purports to be US "news networks".

Unfortunately, after around 10,000 bombing runs and predictable time-wasting talk, the message is still not sinking in that the Grand Master Plan of 'leading the way' is a failure and reduced to hope that they can stop terrorism by 'taking out' some leadership. Yep, heard that one before. The USG 'defeated terrorism' by 'taking out' Al Queda leaders - a number of them 34+ times. Al Queda no longer exists - not.

Instead of 'leading from the rear' and expecting other nations to clean up the carnage and havoc left over by US adventures into the Middle East, perhaps the USG could find a few non-torturers, non rapists and no members of US death squads and clean the region up with their own trash collectors as 'boots on the ground'. Well... no harm in dreaming and fantasising it might work and "we can win, win, win" ...

So, bottom line, order more bombs with taxpayers funds Carter, and pretend you matter while the 'leader' continues the infantile rhetoric for US consumption, just as his predecessor did. May the US people and people in other victim nations be saved from US 'little men' - both 'generals' and politicians.


PS Try not to bomb innocent men, women and children on the ground during the bombing runs. They never deserved your slaughter, carnage, death squads and torture the last time around and don't need a US euphemism, "collateral damage", to justify their deaths. But of course, counting bodies is not a topic of conversation in the Rogue Regime of the West. It only matters if it is US men, women and children who are slaughtered while the US regime role play fighting for "democracy and freedom" by "leading from the rear".


Panda Bear -> MRModeratedModerate 14 Dec 2015 19:21

Some of them are very busy bombing Yemen to destruction and recruiting mercenaries in places such as Columbia to help! The situation for citizens in Yemen is dire, some areas described as on the verge of famine partly due to the embargo that is also imposed.

JMWong 14 Dec 2015 19:09

This speech shows the hypocrisy of the Americans. In fact, as it was made clear many times before, the real objective of the USA is to invade Syria, to destroy Syria and to murder as many Syrians as possible, including its President, Assad. The USA had the same objective with regards to Iraq and Lybia. Iraq was invaded and destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were murdered by the coalition of the willing led by the USA. The lives of tens of millions Iraqis have been destroyed. Its President, Saddam Hussein was murdered. In the case of Libya, the same coalition of the willing, led by the same USA, bombed Libya for six months. It was the greatest terrorist attack over the last ten years. It was six months of terror for millions of Libyans everyday for over six months. More than thirty thousand Libyans were murdered in this exceptional terror attack, including its President, Kaddafi. Now, the USA is leading the same coalition of the willing to murder hundreds of thousand Syrians. Assad must go, chant the USA and its f...king partners. We heard the same chant with regrda to Saddam Hussein and Kaddafi. Saddam Hussein must go. Kaddafi must go. As if the USA with its f.. Partners are the ones to choose who should and should not rule Iraq, Libya and Syria. ISIS was created, is funded, trained armed and supported by the USA and its willing partners. For more than one year that they are bombing Syria, they did not see the thousands and thousands of trucks carrying robbed oil from Syria to Turkey. And now Obama, flanked by thecriminal Ash Carter, a creature of McCain, claims that he is determined to fight ISIS. Since many of the ISIS fighters come from the USA, UK, France, why do you not start by bombing the USA, UK, France. Why start with Syria?

Steven Wallace 14 Dec 2015 19:05

Because truth has no place in the modern political theatre . Truth is down to perception and when you control the media you control the truth .Remember NORID ,when the US funded the IRA against the UK ? The IRA used bombs to kill many innocents in their resistance to the British occupation . My brother was a soldier in the British Army and believed he was doing the right thing by going to Northern Ireland . After reflection he now feels he was wrong to be a part of that situation .My father served in Egypt during the Suez Crisis and felt he was right to be there and later questioned why so many young lads were sent to such a inhospitable foreign land . The reason always comes down to money .

MRModeratedModerate 14 Dec 2015 19:04

"in recent weeks we've unleashed a new wave of strikes on their lifeline, on their oil infrastructure..."

I don't see no bombs falling on Turkey?

illbthr22 -> ObambiBot 14 Dec 2015 18:54

Your country provides nothing positive to the world. I watch American movies, eat American food, listen to American music. Russia doesn't exist to me. The only time i hear Russia mentioned is when Russia is threatening war with someone or 2 drunks are beating each other up on youtube.


supercool -> BG Davis 14 Dec 2015 18:49

Again read my comment. The way the war on drugs is waged and fought. It is never ending, murky and with so many dubious allegiances.

The war on terror is never ending, murky and with so many dubious allegiance. For example we exported Jihadism to Afghanistan to defeat the invading communist Soviet's, they eventually morphed to the Taliban who then gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda. Which formed an affiliate branch in Iraq after our invasion in 2003 and which morphed into the Islsmic state.


HollyOldDog -> stonedage 14 Dec 2015 18:48

Obama is the first black American President but that doesn't mean that he is the first sensible one.


Whitt -> supercool 14 Dec 2015 18:46

As someone who is old enough to have lived under two great Presidents and three great-but-flawed Presidents, I'm saying that Obama is a 2nd-rater at best. A hundred years from now he'll be a triva-question President like Millard Fillmore or Grover Cleaveland.

OscarAwesome 14 Dec 2015 18:44

Sure, this is typical political spruiking. Obama doing the Commander in Chief thing, proclaiming PROGRESS, reaffirming how bad the 'enemy' are, saying tough things as a response to the accusations of weakness by US conservatives (who are coy about what their actual alternative to Obama's approach is because it probably looks very much like catastrophic full invasion foolishness of George W's Iraq war), blah, blah, we've seen it all before on countless occasions.

The situation in Syria in particular is ridiculously complex and consists of a plethora of detail and options for action about which we will all have wildly divergent opinions.

But there is a part of this that is simple. There are practically zero options for dealing with ISIL/IS/ISIS/whatever besides killing them. They seek no negotiations, offer no potential compromise position and their take on politics is to simply kill everyone who isn't them. The lack of alternate, peaceful/diplomatic options ISIS and similar groups offer, with their preposterous Dark Ages philosophies, is in a macabre way almost refreshing.

The hard bit is how to kill/capture/degrade their capability without a) slaughtering bystanders and b) causing such carnage as to act as an ISIS recruitment agency.
For all the great many faults and excesses of the West and the larger Muslin world, ISIS

do not in any way offer a comprehensive socio-political alternate system of government with a vestige of logical appeal to humanity (unlike, say the threat communism represented in the 20th century). They have some vague pipe dream of apocalyptic conflict where the other 99.999% of the human race is either slaughtered or magically converted to embracing the reversal of human history by 1,500 years. Not going to happen. Silly.

The threat ISIS represent is largely emotional. Unless you are lightning-strike like unfortunate (or they get hold of nuclear weapons) ISIS disturb our assumptions of physical safety in a symbolic way only. The histrionics generated by that fear is our real enemy.

Popeyes 14 Dec 2015 18:44

What a disappointment, I was waiting for Obama to explain just why he didn't bomb IS oil facilities, and why the U.S. are still best buddies with Saudi who it seems supplies and finances most of the terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Nothing new here move along.

Horst Faranelli 14 Dec 2015 18:43

...but the spot oil price is squeezing the heart out of Russia.

Panda Bear -> GustavoB 14 Dec 2015 18:43

There have been reports for a while (since Russia began bombing) that Isis have been fleeing Syria and many commanders have relocated to Libya. Isis have overtaken one of the so called governments and are making gains, oil assets their next target I read yesterday.


Seasuka -> DoomGlitter 14 Dec 2015 18:41

Whatever America's position now, for decades they have supported and helped to arm Salafist jihadis through Saudi and the Muslim World league in opposition to any secular or perceived communist movements in the region which might threaten oil supplies. Ditto uk.


jmNZ 14 Dec 2015 18:40

The secular Syrian government, with women in its ranks, is fighting for its life against a most ruthless and abominable enemy: fanatical jihadist mercenaries financed by an execrable mediaeval tyranny, Saudi Barbaria. This is the enemy of all we stand for, the enemy that perpetrated 9/11 and 7/7 and their latest clone that bombed Paris concert-goers and Russian holiday-makers. They are paid and trained by Riyadh. And armed to the teeth with modern American weapons, passed to them by the newest demagogue, Turkey's Erdoğan.

The sworn enemy of all these head-chopping bigots is Assad's secular republic of Syria because it challenges the ideological dogmatism of Sharia Law. This law is as rigid as Hitler's Nazism or Stalin's communism.

And we wonder whether we should support Assad?
For the record, here are some undisputed facts:

30 countries, including South Africa, sent election observers to Syria and found them to be "reasonably free and fair". This was in 2014 when Basher al-Assad got 88% of the vote in the first multi-party presidential elections. Nearly half the population of Syria actually made it to the polls. Not half the electorate, half the population.

Syria is governed by 5 parties in coalition opposed by a 2 party coalition of 5 members and 77 "Independents". Assad's Baqath Party has a majority, 134 out of 250.

Syria is today's Czechoslovakia.


Whitt -> supercool 14 Dec 2015 18:34

"Compare his Presidency with George Bush or most previous American President's if recent years." - supercool
*
Considering that most of the Presidents that we've had over the last few decades have been mediocrities and that Bush Jr. was downright incompetent, that is truly an example of damning with faint praise.
*
*
"Obama goes into the history books as a great President who achieved so many first's"
*
To paraphrase the immortal Douglas Adams, this is obviously some strange usage of the word "great" that I was not previously aware of.


ByThePeople 14 Dec 2015 18:10

"in recent weeks'...'destroying hundreds of their (ISIL's) tanker trucks, wells and refineries. So far, ISIL has lost about 40% of the populated area it once controlled n Iraq."

Anyone else a bit shocked that after having several countries dropping bombs on ISIL for an extended period of time - that ISIL would still be in possession of hundreds of tanker trucks, wells and refineries - their 'life line'....?

A full fledged oil business in up, running and in the market to sell oil - which is obviously all being bought up and these revenues, combined with other revenue streams, have been supporting ISIL's efforts for an extended period of time.

I wonder if because 'a few weeks' was finally taken to supposedly destroy this critical infrastructure - if the 'evasive' ISIL oil business - along with revenues - will suffer? I also wonder why the air campaign hasn't been extended to include the purchasers of ISIL's oil supplies - at sea and in their home countries.

Panda Bear -> supercool 14 Dec 2015 18:10

Homs has a cease fire, the 'moderate' terrorists have left. Syrian Arab Army and it's allies are making gains, an airport retaken yesterday. Much Isis oil trading infrastructure destroyed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PauFSKZafr4
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syrian-army-retakes-key-airbase-rebel-forces-eastern-ghouta-1589655831
I'm fascinated to know what the Henry Jackson Society is doing there/reporting...


ohhaiimark -> JackGC 14 Dec 2015 18:03

And here in lies the problem. The US is not serious about taking down ISIS. They are a convient bunch of psychopaths that can be used for various agendas the US has in mind. Including but not limited to weakening/removing Assad, getting Iran embroiled in costly war, terrifying domestic populations into giving up freedoms, justifying more military interventions that go against international law.

The list goes on


1ClearSense 14 Dec 2015 17:59

The cult of Wahhabi terrorist supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey need to be defeated. With all the public information available, we are here because of all the wrong moves by the US. It is about time to nip this in the bud. The root problem is in Saudi Arabia. In no uncertain terms US needs to tell the Arab tyrannies to stop the jihadi terror. It is obviouse US has listened to the Saudis and Qataris to create a Sunni militia in Iraq, Syria to "confront" Iran. The imaginary ghost that constantly scares Saudi tyranny. The result has been all the various head chopping terror groups. The "Sunni" Arab tyrannies will never supply troops to take over areas occupied by terrorists. Qatar demands sanitizing al Qaeda terrorist in Syria and giving them a say. It is stupid to even consider these as allies in fight against the wahhabi Islamist terrorists. Time has come to forget about removing Assad, just cooperate with Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq to take back land from all terrorists step by step, and have the legitimate government in Syria and Iraq, with their pro government militia control the ground.

TheBorderGuard -> gunnison 14 Dec 2015 17:55

Isis must ultimately be defeated by Muslim forces, or we'll be manufacturing radical faster than we can kill them.

The Muslims seem to be manufacturing radicals quickly enough without any help from us.

TonyBlunt 14 Dec 2015 17:51

"We are hitting Isil harder than ever."

Here is how hard the US and their regional allies have been hitting ISIL and the other jihadi terrorists:

bolobo -> impartial12 14 Dec 2015 17:50

Good docu about that recently. Might still be available on BBCiplayer. The Americans bought Saudi drilling rights for 2cents and the Brits bought Iraqi rights for tuppence. Twenty years later the middle easterns thought "hold on a minute," and offered a fifty-fifty split. The Americans pragmatically accepted, thus their relationship with the House of Saud, the Brits got all uppity at the natives and got kicked out.

TheSindhiAbbasi -> gunnison 14 Dec 2015 17:45

What about billions of US military equipment in Iraq, that was captured by Daesh?

gunnison 14 Dec 2015 17:40

Freeze Saudi assets and blockade all their exports until they send all that gee-whiz military equipment we sold them into this fight, and all the Saudi military we trained too.

Isis must ultimately be defeated by Muslim forces, or we'll be manufacturing radical faster than we can kill them.

Panda Bear -> Jools12 14 Dec 2015 17:36

"We only get some action now that Russia has been attacking ISIS in Syria and of course there is minimal reporting of the successes of the Russians in Western media."

Exactly. Russia is the old enemy, it is interfering and questioning US actions and has huge natural resources. Putin called them out in his speech at the UN...
US has been provoking Russia for some time, and is also provoking China. This may not end well for any of us and no one will stand up and demand it stops!

HAGGISANCHIPS -> ame1ie 14 Dec 2015 17:34

The nazi ideology was removed militarily. It couldn't survive because it was morally wrong and repugnant, like Daesh.

Edward Frederick Ezell 14 Dec 2015 17:27

Sending our professional agents of coercion and terror to kill people in foreign countries over which we somehow more or less claim jurisdiction is not something that is clearly beneficial in the long term although it does respond appropriately to the call for vengeance and blood from our own political actors.

Panda Bear -> Taku2 14 Dec 2015 17:27

US has turned it into a proxy war with Russia and Iran and has called in the NATO allies to back them up. Obama seems to work differently to previous presidents like Bush, he seems to like to work quietly using drones and not much publicized actions and calls in the NATO and allied troops to cover their actions.

Taku2 14 Dec 2015 17:23

America will do this America will do that. Well, guess what; you cannot do it on your own. You cannot make a successful strategic plan to fight Daesh without the Russians, Iranians and Syrian government forces being integral elements of such a plan.

Daesh is like an Hydra, so bombing alone cannot defeat it, it just spread it to new areas. You need to do an honest review of how Daesh was created; albeit, unintentionally, by ill-conceived American and EU/NATO policies in the Middle East and Africa.

America and EU/NATO cannot effective fight the war being waged by Daesh and Al Qaeda, until they have learned the lessons to be learned from their misguided policies, and openly acknowledged the mistakes they have made.

Sunrise_Song 14 Dec 2015 17:18

What would it be like to live in a truly peaceful and free world? All it takes is strength, foresight and the guts to be honest.

All the things the West is failing at. Obama like most Western leaders is a weaver of lies and half-truths.

How can we ever have peace until we challenge the core issue? This is an ideological fight. It's a war of minds. ISIS believe the West is a basin of sin. That our liberal and secular ways need to be destroyed and replaced by their ideologies and way of life.

Only, we can see they're wrong. That even with our faults and flaws, our belief in freedom, democracy and equality is the best way, still we defend that same ideology in our own nations.

Obama is failing the American people. Just like Merkel and Co are failing the European people.

Bombs won't stop IS.


Jools12 14 Dec 2015 17:18

What have they been doing for the last two years then? No attacks on ISIS trucks transporting oil, no sanctions on countries that have been buying that oil. We only get some action now that Russia has been attacking ISIS in Syria and of course there is minimal reporting of the successes of the Russians in Western media. As far as Libya is concerned, there are very ominous signs that ISIS is moving to set up headquarters in that country, a country a lot closer to Europe than Syria or Iraq are. There is also the problem that the Russians will not be involved in Libya, unlike Syria, they do not have a functioning government to ask them in. Libya is the nightmare created by NATO and the US, they will have to take full responsibility for their dreadful actions there and fight the barbarians they created, no sitting back and allowing them to flourish this time.


TheBorderGuard 14 Dec 2015 17:13

Obama told reporters: "This continues to be a difficult fight. Isil is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind civilians, using defenceless men, women and children as human shields. So even as we're relentless, we have to be smart, targeting Isil surgically, with precision."

Good luck, boss. Ask Netanyahu how it went for the Israelis when they tried to end Hamas' rocket attacks from Gaza. Because that's the kind of foe you'll be up against.


poechristy 14 Dec 2015 17:10

Someone has obviously told Obama that his Mr Nice Guy act was merely encouraging Islamic State and their supporters in the US. It's time for all Western nations to make clear that anyone involved in any way with Islamic State-funding them, promoting them, or returning from fighting for them- will feel the full force of the law. I can't understand why those returning from Syria are not immediately arrested and held to account.
I rather suspect we wouldn't be seeing the same appeasement if white supremacists were returning from a foreign land having been involved in the torture,rape and murder of ethnic minorities.


lefthalfback2 DogsLivesMatter 14 Dec 2015 17:06

NYT said a few days back that ISIS are looking to Surt in Libya as the spot to which they can decamp if the Heat comes down in Iraq. Does not seem likely to me since it is on the coast and could easily be struck from the sea.


Whitt DogsLivesMatter 14 Dec 2015 17:03

Weren't you paying attention?

(1) We have a coalition of the willing in the international War on Terror.
(2) ISIS is on their last legs. There's nothing left but a bunch of dead-enders.
(3) We're squeezing their heart in Iraq, their balls in Syria, and their spleen in Libya.
(4) There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
(5) Ve are vinning ze var!

Now get with the program and quit interfering with the narrative or it's off to Gitmo with you, me lad!


ohhaiimark 14 Dec 2015 16:58

Want to stop ISIS? It's rather simple. Sanction those who fund them. Sanction those who spread Wahhabism. Sanction those who buy oil off them....Basically sanction all of America's allies in the region.

Then work together with the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians and whoever else is willing to send ground troops in to take each town and city occupied by these scumbags one by one.

You can't defeat ISIS if your goal is also to remove Assad. That will only help ISIS. It's time to wake up from that delusion that Assad is going anywhere. Once the war is over, then we can let the Syrian people decide who will lead them through democratic elections.


Djinn666 14 Dec 2015 16:56

They've squeezed so hard that it oozed into Libya and other points on the compass, including San Bernardino.

Note to CIC Obama, However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results (Winston Churchill).


Fence2 14 Dec 2015 16:54

What a farce, who does Obama think he's kidding? If the US was serious about ISIS it would have been finished off a year ago, now that Russia has called the US's bluff they now have to pretend to step up to the plate. Pathetic.


DogsLivesMatter 14 Dec 2015 16:50

Meanwhile in Libya....http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/world-leaders-push-libya-peace-isil-fills-vacuum-151214044020934.html
Apparently there are 3,000 ISIL fighters in Libya at the moment. It's time President Obama and John Kerry gave us the whole story, but I guess with Saudi Arabia and Turkey being allies the US can't rock the boat too much.


dikcheney 14 Dec 2015 16:48

More drivel from the counterfeit president. His allies in the middle east are disgusting butchers. Take Turkey: it is a great shame for Turkey that 32 journalists are imprisoned in the 21st century. Some were arrested on Nov. 26 after being charged in May with espionage, revealing confidential documents and membership in a terrorist organization. The charges are related to a report published by a leading newspaper claiming weapons-loaded trucks that were discovered in January 2014 en route to Syria actually belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and had been sent to provide support to rebel groups.

The USA has been seduced and conned for decades until its entire policy is focused on fighting proxy wars to keep the middle east ablaze in the interests of others. SHAME on the dumb USA.

laguerre 14 Dec 2015 16:39

A load of rubbish. US supports the Saudis, who support ISIS. US attacks on ISIS are not serious, as the speech suggests.

[Dec 14, 2015] Marine Le Pen is not alone, and that is a real problem for the EU

European nationalism is an allergic reaction to neoliberalism. Guardian does not mention Ukraine and Baltic states. also far right nationalist goverment with Baltic states imposing "Baltic version of apartheid" to Russian speaking minority.
Dec 07, 2015 | The Guardian

Such is the picture in western Europe. In eastern Europe, the nationalist right is already in power in Hungary and in Poland. Viktor Orbán in Budapest is the pioneering cheerleader. He has no opposition to speak of. His main "opposition" comes not from the centre-left but from the neo-fascist Jobbik movement. In Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński and his Law and Justice party in Poland are wasting little time in aping Orbán's constitutional trickery to entrench itself in power.

On the critical issues of the day – immigration, security and Euroscepticism – there is little to separate Orbán and Kaczyński from President Miloš Zeman in Prague and Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, both on the left. Besides, on economics, the role of the state and welfare, the far-right parties are way to the left of social democracy, seeking to turn the clock back to state interventionism, full employment, generous pensions and welfare systems (for native whites, not immigrants).

What these far-right parties in east and west all share are chipped shoulders heaving with grievance – summed up as hostility to and rejection of globalisation and multiculturalism. They do not like modern life. They are anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-EU, anti-American (Poland excepted), illiberal. And they like Vladimir Putin (again, except Kaczyński).

They are nationalists. This also militates against making common cause despite all the similarities in outlook, because nationalists usually see foes rather than friends in other nationalists.

... It is a tall order. The European Union has never looked so temporary and fragile.

[Dec 14, 2015] No Turkish fabric to make anti-Turkish T-shirts, say Russian designers

There are two possibilities here: iether Guardian pressitutes sometimes try to play degenarates or they consider their readers to be degenerates...
Notable quotes:
"... Typical The Moscow Times garbage. ..."
"... Hmmm, some really sophisticated comments and analysis apropos of current issues in geopolitics and international relations. Nuanced, objective, and informative. Excuse me but I have to go watch some more esoteric reportage from Fox News. ..."
www.theguardian.com

cvneuves 13 Dec 2015 21:12

Typical The Moscow Times garbage.

Scipio1 13 Dec 2015 18:54

Hmmm, some really sophisticated comments and analysis apropos of current issues in geopolitics and international relations. Nuanced, objective, and informative.

Excuse me but I have to go watch some more esoteric reportage from Fox News.

[Dec 14, 2015] Oil producers prepare for prices to halve to $20 a barrel

Notable quotes:
"... There's nothing new in shale gas that the oil industry itself hasn't done before. Hydrofracturing as a technique for enhancing oil recovery was developed over 50 years ago, and most of the North Sea was fracked (as are oil wells all over the world). The big technological breakthrough that allowed exploitation of shale gas was horizontal drilling, which allowed long pipes to be installed in the (usually narrow) shale gas strata. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia trying to kill the shale oil industry in USA, limit Iran rise and as a bonus undermine Russian military activities. ..."
"... The falling price of oil has initiated a historic wealth transfer effect of about $1 trillion a year between net oil importers and oil exporters reversing decades of historical trend. The US consumer alone gets $200 billion, and Europe and Asia (especially India and China) are even bigger beneficiaries of this massive wealth transfer of wealth by cheap oil. ..."
"... This is what's called an economic stimulus - but from cheaper oil prices. As Bloomberg noted recently: OPEC Provides Economic Stimulus Central Bankers Can't or Won't ..."
"... A non-economists understanding of macro is almost always politics masquerading as science. ..."
"... The theory that Saudi has engineered this oil price drop is nonsense. If they wanted to do this they would have increased production. The price fall is mostly due to the vast amount of speculation in US shale oil that completely ignored the effect of a massive increase in supply on price. These speculators are now paying for this mistake by leading the world in corporate defaults. Shale oil production will eventually slow down due to lack of finance and the price will start to increase. I don't think anyone can predict future price due to the complexity. ..."
"... Did you miss the bit where Russia will need to make cuts all the way through its services in line with the money they are losing via weak experts? Do you understand the knock-on effect this has through the rest of her economy - the recession it generates? Macroeconomics is a very interesting subject, and Creekwhore seems to have a good grasp on it. ..."
"... Hard to know which makes them happier, really. I was doing some work in Saudi in 2012 and there was a lot of concern there that not only were they losing the supply monopoly, but that as the US was becoming not just self-sufficient but an exporter it would make KSA less strategically relevant to the US and others in the west and therefore lose them influence on world events. They know they need the realpolitik power of the being the swing-producer in the oil cartel as without it no-one in the west is queuing up to be the natural ally of a quasi-medieval despotism with a lousy human rights record and a deal with some very suspect religious extremists. ..."
"... My take on this is that the Russian economy is also a target - even perhaps the real target. ..."
"... The Saudi's tactics are supposedly designed to hit the US shale producers, but, from what I understand, if these do go under they can quite easily start up again when the oil price recovers, then we're back to where we started. What is the point of all this market manipulation? ..."
"... US shale producers are much better placed than anyone expected them to be. Saudi Arabia has maybe another 18 months to play at this before they start to really rack up the debts. You've got a young, angry, largely unemployed population there that's basically pacified by the largesse of public spending. ..."
www.theguardian.com

The consultancy Capital Economics said: "Brent's [short-lived] dip today below $40 per barrel is a further damning verdict on Opec's bungled communications after its meeting last Friday. However, it was never likely that the group would agree to cut output to boost prices. Instead, any recovery next year will depend on reductions in non-Opec supply and on stronger demand. On this basis, while we are lowering our end-2016 forecast for Brent from $60 to $55, we continue to expect oil prices to stage a partial recovery next year."

Hugh Easton -> woldsgardener 11 Dec 2015 13:57

There's nothing new in shale gas that the oil industry itself hasn't done before. Hydrofracturing as a technique for enhancing oil recovery was developed over 50 years ago, and most of the North Sea was fracked (as are oil wells all over the world). The big technological breakthrough that allowed exploitation of shale gas was horizontal drilling, which allowed long pipes to be installed in the (usually narrow) shale gas strata.

So why do environmentalists make a big deal of hydrofracking at all? As with so much else green, there's no science behind it. They've just seized on a scarysounding something and are using it to bamboozle the public into thinking that a technology they oppose is dangerous.

TheinfamousmrFox -> sportinlifesport 11 Dec 2015 08:44

Actually, they're losing money. Even those with the lowest production costs (Saudi A) are burning through their currency reserves at a fantastic rate.

Essentially, OPEC are betting they can crush the US and Russian oil industries before they go broke themselves. However they didn't count on the growing green momentum starting to replace a lot of fossil fuel technology;- and that's not going to get slower.

Boutros Gladius ID6232853 11 Dec 2015 03:56

Check your numbers before you call nonsense. Demand was up 1.4m barrels/day in 2014, and is projected to be up by over a million for 2015 and 2016. In fact, it's up a similar amount every year for the last decade, with the single exception of the year of the financial crash. Demand increases will inexorably eat up any oversupply -- this price reduction is a mere blip.

ncaplan88 9 Dec 2015 18:40

It's great for us in America. Almost all retail is pegging to the price of shipping. Shipping is deisel fueled. Better to let OPEC run down their stocks than pump out the last of our reserves. King Salman is a good ally to help weaken our traditional enemies.


zacmcd -> zoggo 9 Dec 2015 17:43

Conspiracy theory rubbish. The low interest rate environment has led money to chase bad high yield investments, while the oil price was high this included shale. China's economic slow down has meant oil consumption growth hasn't risen as expected so supply now exceeds demand.

Russia along with Norway, Brazil, Canada etc are being punished for not having diversified economies not because Uncle Sam does or doesn't like them.


BlueMazda 9 Dec 2015 12:24

Forget the two big players, Russian and Saudis. What is the impact on the smaller producers in the ME, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan et. al.? Are they selling at below extraction costs per barrel? Will we see a ME recession? Social turmoil?


Timothy Underwood -> Chris Johnson 9 Dec 2015 10:52

Its not sad at all. The reason low oil prices is bad for 'the markets' is because the oil price drop basically means that consumers spend less on gas, and then instead buy more TVs, cars and eat out more often.

The margins on hundred dollar oil are really, really good for companies. The majority of that money isn't spent pumping and refining the oil. Most of the money when Exxon sells a barrel at $100 goes to Exxon shareholders (and whatever country the oil is pumped in).

TVs and cars are very competitive markets. When you buy a car or TV generally 90-95% of the money goes to making the car, which leaves only a little left over for the shareholders of Ford or Samsung. So low oil prices are hurt the share price of oil companies far more than they help the share prices of non oil companies.

In other words low oil prices move money from rich people to ordinary people. Non oil things are just less profitable to sell on average.

The value of the market is a rough proxy for how much money rich people expect to get for owning companies over the next 15 years. Oil being low means rich people get less money for owning companies, money which gas buyers instead have to spend on whatever they want.

AdamMps -> creekwhore 9 Dec 2015 06:41

this move may well drive the global economy off a cliff

Cheap oil is both good and bad for the global economy. Bad for oil investment, good because consumers and business will save money on fuel and presumably spend it elsewhere instead.

There's been a few articles which suggest that it's bad outweighs the good this time around, but it certainly doesn't drive the global economy off a cliff.

ID6232853 -> gottliebvera 9 Dec 2015 06:06

Saudi Arabia trying to kill the shale oil industry in USA, limit Iran rise and as a bonus undermine Russian military activities.

psygone 9 Dec 2015 05:22

This is all good news.

The falling price of oil has initiated a historic wealth transfer effect of about $1 trillion a year between net oil importers and oil exporters reversing decades of historical trend. The US consumer alone gets $200 billion, and Europe and Asia (especially India and China) are even bigger beneficiaries of this massive wealth transfer of wealth by cheap oil.

This is what's called an economic stimulus - but from cheaper oil prices. As Bloomberg noted recently: OPEC Provides Economic Stimulus Central Bankers Can't or Won't

The Middle East and Russia with diminishing and constrained sovereign funds are the ones getting stuck with the bill. Oil producers with diversified economies like Canada and Norway will do well.

Thank you cheap oil and carry on ......... "drill baby drill"

SenseCir -> mrolius 9 Dec 2015 04:35

Did you miss the bit where Russia will need to make cuts all the way through its services in line with the money they are losing via weak experts?

Yes countries that foolishly turned their blessing with a natural resource into a dependency of exporting it suffer, and their suffering propagates to an extent. That doesn't drive the global economy of a cliff, nor even is the net effect negative. Once again, when those blessed with oil decide to charge less for it, surplus is shifted.

Macroeconomics is a very interesting subject, and Creekwhore seems to have a good grasp on it.

I doubt it. A non-economists understanding of macro is almost always politics masquerading as science.

bjamesr 9 Dec 2015 04:31

The theory that Saudi has engineered this oil price drop is nonsense. If they wanted to do this they would have increased production. The price fall is mostly due to the vast amount of speculation in US shale oil that completely ignored the effect of a massive increase in supply on price. These speculators are now paying for this mistake by leading the world in corporate defaults. Shale oil production will eventually slow down due to lack of finance and the price will start to increase. I don't think anyone can predict future price due to the complexity.

mrolius -> SenseCir 9 Dec 2015 04:09

Did you miss the bit where Russia will need to make cuts all the way through its services in line with the money they are losing via weak experts? Do you understand the knock-on effect this has through the rest of her economy - the recession it generates? Macroeconomics is a very interesting subject, and Creekwhore seems to have a good grasp on it.

JemWallis -> SenseCir 9 Dec 2015 04:04

But given the oversupply of oil, you will be forced to pay a substantial premium for the storage of your commodity since you will be competing for long term storage space. That factor alone will add to your costs and therefore the price you will accept to make the 'huge profit' will get ever larger. What if prices rise more slowly than your on-going costs?

TheHighRoad -> WaldorfTBeagle 9 Dec 2015 03:57

Hard to know which makes them happier, really. I was doing some work in Saudi in 2012 and there was a lot of concern there that not only were they losing the supply monopoly, but that as the US was becoming not just self-sufficient but an exporter it would make KSA less strategically relevant to the US and others in the west and therefore lose them influence on world events. They know they need the realpolitik power of the being the swing-producer in the oil cartel as without it no-one in the west is queuing up to be the "natural ally" of a quasi-medieval despotism with a lousy human rights record and a deal with some very suspect religious extremists.

SenseCir -> creekwhore 9 Dec 2015 03:51

The fact this move may well drive the global economy off a cliff

How so, because a fundamental good everyone needs is cheap? Because, assuming Opec cannot defeat the frackers, their price schedule does not maximise their profit, shifting some of the surplus to consumers and non-oil producing countries? What the fuck are you talking about?

SenseCir rjb04tony 9 Dec 2015 03:48

What is the point of all this market manipulation?

Why do you call it 'market manipulation' when they lower prices through shipping a lot, and not when they raise prices through restricting output? The latter is what they would ideally like to do, because it maximises profit. Opec are a cartel. The consumers, and countries that don't export oil, lose when they exercise their monopoly power.

SA clearly think that a Standard Oilish strategy will work. If they deem to have damaged other oil producers sufficiently, you can rest assured that the price of oil will go up again, ensuring billions of economic profit going to SA and others, extracted from everyone else.

zoggo -> rjb04tony 9 Dec 2015 03:46

My take on this is that the Russian economy is also a target - even perhaps the real target.

WaldorfTBeagle 9 Dec 2015 03:07

I doubt Saudi's strategy has much to do with US frackers personally and lots to do with hurting Iran.

rjb04tony 9 Dec 2015 02:53

The Saudi's tactics are supposedly designed to hit the US shale producers, but, from what I understand, if these do go under they can quite easily start up again when the oil price recovers, then we're back to where we started. What is the point of all this market manipulation?

graz 9 Dec 2015 02:36

US shale producers are much better placed than anyone expected them to be. Saudi Arabia has maybe another 18 months to play at this before they start to really rack up the debts. You've got a young, angry, largely unemployed population there that's basically pacified by the largesse of public spending.

The problem with the House of Saud. They've got some of the best economists money can buy but you've got the egos of some 'limited' princes overruling them.

Never mind the oil price, if these fools miscalculate on this, on their Yemeni adventures, it could spell chaos for the Middle East and the wider world. >

[Dec 13, 2015] US military spending is currently $738.3 billion

Notable quotes:
"... military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ..."
"... Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Economist's View

anne said...

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
"...about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military...."

I do not understand this figure since currently defense spending is running at $738.3 billion yearly or which 6% would be $44.3 billion:

http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

anne said in reply to anne...
Correcting Dean Baker:

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 7.4 percent ** of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

** http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
Dean Baker clarifies:

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

-- Dean Baker

djb said in reply to anne...
100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion
anne said in reply to djb...
$100 billion a year, ........about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military

100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion

[ This is incorrect, military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ]

anne said in reply to djb...
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

(Billions of dollars)

$738.3 / $1,224.4 = 60.3%

Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $3,200.4 = 23.1%

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

djb said in reply to djb...
oh never mind I get it

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent us spends on military

the 40 trillion is the gdp of all the countries

got it

anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent US spends on military."

So .25 percent of United States GDP for climate change assistance to poor countries is 6 percent of the amount the US spends on the military.

.0025 x $18,064.7 billion GDP = $45.16 billion on climate change

$45.16 billion on climate change / $738.3 billion on the military = 0.61 or 6.1 percent of military spending

anne said in reply to anne...
United States climate change assistance to poor countries will be .25 percent of GDP or 6% of US military spending.
anne said in reply to anne...
What the United States commitment to climate change assistance for poor countries means is spending about $45.2 billion yearly or .25 percent of GDP. Whether the President can convince Congress to spend the $45 billion yearly will now have to be answered.
anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the [amount] US spends on military."

[ This is correct. ]

anne said in reply to djb...
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. ** That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

** http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to djb...
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2007&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

ilsm said in reply to anne...
UK is the only NATO nation beside the US that spend the suggested 2% of GDP. The rest run about 1.2%.

Small wonder they need US to run their wars of convenience.

More telling US pentagon spending is around 50% of world military spending and has not won anything in 60 years.

[Dec 13, 2015] Deregulation of exotic financial instruments like derivatives and credit-default swaps and corruption of Congress and government

Notable quotes:
"... Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street reforms and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspans record? ..."
"... Its actually pro-neoliberalism crowd vs anti-neoliberalism crowd. In no way anti-neoliberalism commenters here view this is a character melodrama, although psychologically Hillary probably does has certain problems as her reaction to the death of Gadhafi attests. The key problem with anti-neoliberalism crowd is the question What is a realistic alternative? Thats where differences and policy debate starts. ..."
"... Events do not occur in isolation. GLBA increased TBTF in AIG and Citi. TBTF forced TARP. GLBA greased the skids for CFMA. Democrats gained majority, but not filibuster proof, caught between Iraq and a hard place following their votes for TARP and a broader understanding of their participation in the unanimous consent passage of the CFMA, over objection by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN). ..."
"... It certainly fits the kind of herd mentality that I always saw in corporate Amerika until I retired. The William Greider article posted by RGC was very consistent in its account by John Reed with the details of one or two books written about AIG back in 2009 or so. I dont have time to hunt them up now. Besides, no one would read them anyway. ..."
"... GS was one of several actions taken by the New Deal. That it wasnt sufficient by itself doesnt equate to it wasnt beneficial. ..."
"... "Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," said then-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy." ..."
"... The repeal of Glass Steagal was a landmark victory in deregulation that greased the skids for the passage of CFMA once Democrats had been further demoralized by the SCOTUS decision on Bush-v-Gore. The first vote on GLBA was split along party lines, but passed because Republicans had majority and Clinton was willing to sign which was clear from the waiver that had been granted to illegal Citi merger with Travelers. Both Citi and AIG mergers contributed to too big to fail. The CFMA was the nail in the coffin that probably would have never gotten off the ground if Democrats had held the line on the GLBA. Glass-Steagal was insufficient as a regulatory system to prevent the 2008 mortgage crisis, but it was giant as an icon of New Deal financial system reform. Its loss institutionalized too big to fail ..."
"... Gramm Leach Biley was a mistake. But it was not the only failure of US regulatory policies towards financial institutions nor the most important. ..."
"... It was more symbolic caving in on financial regulation than a specific technical failure except for making too big to fail worse at Citi and AIG. It marked a sea change of thinking about financial regulation. Nothing mattered any more, including the CFMA just a little over one year later. Deregulation of derivatives trading mandated by the CFMA was a colossal failure and it is not bizarre to believe that GLBA precipitated the consensus on financial deregulation enough that after the demoralizing defeat of Democrats in Bush-v-Gore then there was no New Deal spirit of financial regulation left. Social development is not just a series of unconnected events. It is carried on a tide of change. A falling tide grounds all boats. ..."
"... We had a financial dereg craze back in the late 1970s and early 1980s which led to the S L disaster. One would have thought we would have learned from that. But then came the dereg craziness 20 years later. And this disaster was much worse. ..."
"... This brings us to Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary of the United States and at the time right hand man to then Treasury Security Robert Rubin. Mr. Summers was widely credited with implementation of the aggressive tactics used to remove Ms. Born from her office, tactics that multiple sources describe as showing an old world bias against women piercing the glass ceiling. ..."
"... According to numerous published reports, Mr. Summers was involved in. silencing those who questioned the opaque derivative product's design. ..."
"... The Tax Policy Center estimated that a 0.1 percent tax on stock trades, scaled with lower taxes on other assets, would raise $50 billion a year in tax revenue. The implied reduction in trading revenue was even larger. Senator Sanders has proposed a tax of 0.5 percent on equities (also with a scaled tax on other assets). This would lead to an even larger reduction in revenue for the financial industry. ..."
"... Great to see Bakers acknowledgement that an updated Glass-Steagall is just one component of the progressive wings plan to rein in Wall Street, not the sum total of it. Besides, if Wall Street types dont think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much. ..."
"... Yes thats a good way to look it. Wall Street gave the Democrats and Clinton a lot of campaign cash so that they would dismantle Glass-Steagall. ..."
"... Slippery slope. Ya gotta find me a business of any type that does not protest any kind of regulation on their business. ..."
"... Yeah, but usually because of all the bad things they say will happen because of the regulation. The question is, what do they think of Clintons plan? Ive heard surprisingly little about that, and what I have heard is along these lines: http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/08/investing/hillary-clinton-wall-street-plan/ ..."
"... Hillary Clinton unveiled her big plan to curb the worst of Wall Streets excesses on Thursday. The reaction from the banking community was a shrug, if not relief. ..."
"... Iceland's government is considering a revolutionary monetary proposal – removing the power of commercial banks to create money and handing it to the central bank. The proposal, which would be a turnaround in the history of modern finance, was part of a report written by a lawmaker from the ruling centrist Progress Party, Frosti Sigurjonsson, entitled "A better monetary system for Iceland". ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RGC said...

Hillary Clinton Is Whitewashing the Financial Catastrophe

She has a plan that she claims will reform Wall Street-but she's deflecting responsibility from old friends and donors in the industry.

By William Greider
Yesterday 3:11 pm

Hillary Clinton's recent op-ed in The New York Times, "How I'd Rein In Wall Street," was intended to reassure nervous Democrats who fear she is still in thrall to those mega-bankers of New York who crashed the American economy. Clinton's brisk recital of plausible reform ideas might convince wishful thinkers who are not familiar with the complexities of banking. But informed skeptics, myself included, see a disturbing message in her argument that ought to alarm innocent supporters.

Candidate Clinton is essentially whitewashing the financial catastrophe. She has produced a clumsy rewrite of what caused the 2008 collapse, one that conveniently leaves her husband out of the story. He was the president who legislated the predicate for Wall Street's meltdown. Hillary Clinton's redefinition of the reform problem deflects the blame from Wall Street's most powerful institutions, like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, and instead fingers less celebrated players that failed. In roundabout fashion, Hillary Clinton sounds like she is assuring old friends and donors in the financial sector that, if she becomes president, she will not come after them.

The seminal event that sowed financial disaster was the repeal of the New Deal's Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had separated banking into different realms: investment banks, which organize capital investors for risk-taking ventures; and deposit-holding banks, which serve people as borrowers and lenders. That law's repeal, a great victory for Wall Street, was delivered by Bill Clinton in 1999, assisted by the Federal Reserve and the financial sector's armies of lobbyists. The "universal banking model" was saluted as a modernizing reform that liberated traditional banks to participate directly and indirectly in long-prohibited and vastly more profitable risk-taking.

Exotic financial instruments like derivatives and credit-default swaps flourished, enabling old-line bankers to share in the fun and profit on an awesome scale. The banks invented "guarantees" against loss and sold them to both companies and market players. The fast-expanding financial sector claimed a larger and larger share of the economy (and still does) at the expense of the real economy of producers and consumers. The interconnectedness across market sectors created the illusion of safety. When illusions failed, these connected guarantees became the dragnet that drove panic in every direction. Ultimately, the federal government had to rescue everyone, foreign and domestic, to stop the bleeding.

Yet Hillary Clinton asserts in her Times op-ed that repeal of Glass-Steagall had nothing to do with it. She claims that Glass-Steagall would not have limited the reckless behavior of institutions like Lehman Brothers or insurance giant AIG, which were not traditional banks. Her argument amounts to facile evasion that ignores the interconnected exposures. The Federal Reserve spent $180 billion bailing out AIG so AIG could pay back Goldman Sachs and other banks. If the Fed hadn't acted and had allowed AIG to fail, the banks would have gone down too.

These sound like esoteric questions of bank regulation (and they are), but the consequences of pretending they do not matter are enormous. The federal government and Federal Reserve would remain on the hook for rescuing losers in a future crisis. The largest and most adventurous banks would remain free to experiment, inventing fictitious guarantees and selling them to eager suckers. If things go wrong, Uncle Sam cleans up the mess.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and other reformers are pushing a simpler remedy-restore the Glass-Steagall principles and give citizens a safe, government-insured place to store their money. "Banking should be boring," Warren explains (her co-sponsor is GOP Senator John McCain).
That's a hard sell in politics, given the banking sector's bear hug of Congress and the White House, its callous manipulation of both political parties. Of course, it is more complicated than that. But recreating a safe, stable banking system-a place where ordinary people can keep their money-ought to be the first benchmark for Democrats who claim to be reformers.

Actually, the most compelling witnesses for Senator Warren's argument are the two bankers who introduced this adventure in "universal banking" back in the 1990s. They used their political savvy and relentless muscle to seduce Bill Clinton and his so-called New Democrats. John Reed was CEO of Citicorp and led the charge. He has since apologized to the nation. Sandy Weill was chairman of the board and a brilliant financier who envisioned the possibilities of a single, all-purpose financial house, freed of government's narrow-minded regulations. They won politically, but at staggering cost to the country.

Weill confessed error back in 2012: "What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking. Have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not going to be too big to fail."

John Reed's confession explained explicitly why their modernizing crusade failed for two fundamental business reasons. "One was the belief that combining all types of finance into one institution would drive costs down-and the larger institution the more efficient it would be," Reed wrote in the Financial Times in November. Reed said, "We now know that there are very few cost efficiencies that come from the merger of functions-indeed, there may be none at all. It is possible that combining so much in a single bank makes services more expensive than if they were instead offered by smaller, specialised players."

The second grave error, Reed said, was trying to mix the two conflicting cultures in banking-bankers who are pulling in opposite directions. That tension helps explain the competitive greed displayed by the modernized banking system. This disorder speaks to the current political crisis in ways that neither Dems nor Republicans wish to confront. It would require the politicians to critique the bankers (often their funders) in terms of human failure.

"Mixing incompatible cultures is a problem all by itself," Reed wrote. "It makes the entire finance industry more fragile…. As is now clear, traditional banking attracts one kind of talent, which is entirely different from the kinds drawn towards investment banking and trading. Traditional bankers tend to be extroverts, sociable people who are focused on longer term relationships. They are, in many important respects, risk averse. Investment bankers and their traders are more short termist. They are comfortable with, and many even seek out, risk and are more focused on immediate reward."

Reed concludes, "As I have reflected about the years since 1999, I think the lessons of Glass-Steagall and its repeal suggest that the universal banking model is inherently unstable and unworkable. No amount of restructuring, management change or regulation is ever likely to change that."

This might sound hopelessly naive, but the Democratic Party might do better in politics if it told more of the truth more often: what they tried do and why it failed, and what they think they may have gotten wrong. People already know they haven't gotten a straight story from politicians. They might be favorably impressed by a little more candor in the plain-spoken manner of John Reed.

Of course it's unfair to pick on the Dems. Republicans have been lying about their big stuff for so long and so relentlessly that their voters are now staging a wrathful rebellion. Who knows, maybe a little honest talk might lead to honest debate. Think about it. Do the people want to hear the truth about our national condition? Could they stand it?

http://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-is-whitewashing-the-financial-catastrophe/

EMichael -> RGC...
"She claims that Glass-Steagall would not have limited the reckless behavior of institutions like Lehman Brothers or insurance giant AIG, which were not traditional banks."

Of course this claim is absolutely true. Just like GS would not have affected the other investment banks, whatever their name was. And just like we would have had to bail out those other banks whatever their name was.

Peter K. -> EMichael...
Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street "reforms" and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspan's record?

Yes Hillary isn't Bill but she hasn't criticized her husband specifically about his record and seems to want to have her cake and eat it too.

Of course Hillary is much better than the Republicans, pace Rustbucket and the Green Lantern Lefty club. Still, critics have a point.

I won't be surprised if she doesn't do much to rein in Wall Street besides some window dressing.

sanjait -> Peter K....
"Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street "reforms" and actions Bill Clinton performed..."

That, right there, is what's wrong with Bernie and his fans. They measure everything by whether it is "pro- or anti- Wall Street". Glass Steagall is anti-Wall Street. A financial transactions tax is anti-Wall Street. But neither has any hope of controlling systemic financial risk in this country. None.

You guys want to punish Wall Street but not even bother trying to think of how to achieve useful policy goals. Some people, like Paine here, are actually open about this vacuity, as if the only thing that were important were winning a power struggle.

Hillary's plan is flat out better. It's more comprehensive and more effective at reining in the financial system to limit systemic risk. Period.

You guys want to make this a character melodrama rather than a policy debate, and I fear the result of that will be that the candidate who actually has the best plan won't get to enact it.

likbez -> sanjait...

"You guys want to make this a character melodrama rather than a policy debate, and I fear the result of that will be that the candidate who actually has the best plan won't get to enact it."

You are misrepresenting the positions. It's actually pro-neoliberalism crowd vs anti-neoliberalism crowd. In no way anti-neoliberalism commenters here view this is a character melodrama, although psychologically Hillary probably does has certain problems as her reaction to the death of Gadhafi attests. The key problem with anti-neoliberalism crowd is the question "What is a realistic alternative?" That's where differences and policy debate starts.

RGC -> EMichael...
"Her argument amounts to facile evasion"

Fred C. Dobbs -> RGC...

'The majority favors policies to the left of Hillary.'

Nah. I don't think so.

No, Liberals Don't Control the Democratic Party http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/no-liberals-dont-control-the-democratic-party/283653/
The Atlantic - Feb 7, 2014

... The Democrats' liberal faction has been greatly overestimated by pundits who mistake noisiness for clout or assume that the left functions like the right. In fact, liberals hold nowhere near the power in the Democratic Party that conservatives hold in the Republican Party. And while they may well be gaining, they're still far from being in charge. ...

Paine -> RGC...

What's not confronted ? Suggest what a System like the pre repeal system would have done in the 00's. My guess we'd have ended in a crisis anyway. Yes we can segregate the depository system. But credit is elastic enough to build bubbles without the depository system involved

EMichael -> Paine ...

Exactly.

Most people think of lending like the Bailey Brothers Savings and Loan still exists.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> EMichael...

Don't be such a whistle dick. Just because you cannot figure out why GLBA made such an impact that in no way means that people that do understand are stupid. See my posted comment to RGC on GLBA just down thread for an more detailed explanation including a linked web article. No, GS alone would not have prevented the mortgage bubble, but it would have lessened TBTF and GS stood as icon, a symbol of financial regulation. Hell, if we don't need GS then why don't we just allow unregulated derivatives trading? Who cares, right? Senators Byron Dorgan, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Shelby, Tom Harkin, Richard Bryan, Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders all voted against GLBA to repeal GS for some strange reason and Dorgan made a really big deal out of it at the time. I doubt everyone on that list of Senators was just stupid because they did not see it your way.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> EMichael...
I ran all out of ceteris paribus quite some time ago. Events do not occur in isolation. GLBA increased TBTF in AIG and Citi. TBTF forced TARP. GLBA greased the skids for CFMA. Democrats gained majority, but not filibuster proof, caught between Iraq and a hard place following their votes for TARP and a broader understanding of their participation in the unanimous consent passage of the CFMA, over "objection" by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN). We have had a Republican majority in the House since the 2010 election and now they have the Senate as well. If you are that sure that voters just choose divided government, then aren't we better off to have a Republican POTUS and Democratic Congress?

sanjait -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

"I ran all out of ceteris paribus quite some time ago. Events do not occur in isolation. GLBA increased TBTF in AIG and Citi. TBTF forced TARP. GLBA greased the skids for CFMA. "

I know you think this is a really meaningful string that evidences causation, but it just looks like you are reaching, reaching, reaching ...

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> sanjait...

Maybe. No way to say for sure. It certainly fits the kind of herd mentality that I always saw in corporate Amerika until I retired. The William Greider article posted by RGC was very consistent in its account by John Reed with the details of one or two books written about AIG back in 2009 or so. I don't have time to hunt them up now. Besides, no one would read them anyway.

I am voting for whoever wins the Democratic nomination for POTUS. Bernie without a like-minded Congress would not do much good. But when we shoot each other down here at EV without offering any agreement or consideration that we might not be 100% correct, then that goes against Doc Thoma's idea of an open forum. Granted, with my great big pair then I am willing to state my opinion with no consideration for validation or acceptance, but not everyone has that degree of a comfort zone. Besides, I am so old an cynical that shooting down the overdogs that go after the underdogs is one of the few things that I still care about.

RGC -> Paine ...

GS was one of several actions taken by the New Deal. That it wasn't sufficient by itself doesn't equate to it wasn't beneficial.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RGC...

[Lock and load.]

http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2015/05/13/glass-steagall-one-democratic-senator-who-got-it-right/

Glass-Steagall: Warren and Sanders bring it back into focus

Madonna Gauding / May 13, 2015

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are putting a new focus on the Glass-Steagall Act, which was, unfortunately, repealed in 1999 and led directly to the financial crises we have faced ever since. Here's a bit of history of this legislative debacle from an older post on Occasional Planet published several years ago :

On November 4, 1999, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) took to the floor of the senate to make an impassioned speech against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, (alternately known as Gramm Leach Biley, or the "Financial Modernization Act") Repeal of Glass-Steagall would allow banks to merge with insurance companies and investments houses. He said "I want to sound a warning call today about this legislation, I think this legislation is just fundamentally terrible."

According to Sam Stein, writing in 2009 in the Huffington Post, only eight senators voted against the repeal. Senior staff in the Clinton administration and many now in the Obama administration praised the repeal as the "most important breakthrough in the world of finance and politics in decades"

According to Stein, Dorgan warned that banks would become "too big to fail" and claimed that Congress would "look back in a decade and say we should not have done this." The repeal of Glass Steagall, of course, was one of several bad policies that helped lead to the current economic crisis we are in now.

Dorgan wasn't entirely alone. Sens. Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Shelby, Tom Harkin, Richard Bryan, Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders also cast nay votes. The late Sen. Paul Wellstone opposed the bill, and warned at the time that Congress was "about to repeal the economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place."

Democratic Senators had sufficient knowledge about the dangers of the repeal of Glass Steagall, but chose to ignore it. Plenty of experts warned that it would be impossible to "discipline" banks once the legislation was passed, and that they would get too big and complex to regulate. Editorials against repeal appeared in the New York Times and other mainstream venues, suggesting that if the new megabanks were to falter, they could take down the entire global economy, which is exactly what happened. Stein quotes Ralph Nader who said at the time, "We will look back at this and wonder how the country was so asleep. It's just a nightmare."

According to Stein:

"The Senate voted to pass Gramm-Leach-Bliley by a vote of 90-8 and reversed what was, for more than six decades, a framework that had governed the functions and reach of the nation's largest banks. No longer limited by laws and regulations commercial and investment banks could now merge. Many had already begun the process, including, among others, J.P. Morgan and Citicorp. The new law allowed it to be permanent. The updated ground rules were low on oversight and heavy on risky ventures. Historically in the business of mortgages and credit cards, banks now would sell insurance and stock.

Nevertheless, the bill did not lack champions, many of whom declared that the original legislation - forged during the Great Depression - was both antiquated and cumbersome for the banking industry. Congress had tried 11 times to repeal Glass-Steagall. The twelfth was the charm.

"Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," said then-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."

"I welcome this day as a day of success and triumph," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, (D-Conn.).

"The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown," said Sen. Bob Kerrey, (D-Neb.).

"If we don't pass this bill, we could find London or Frankfurt or years down the road Shanghai becoming the financial capital of the world," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "There are many reasons for this bill, but first and foremost is to ensure that U.S. financial firms remain competitive."

Unfortunately, the statement by Chuck Schumer sounds very much like it was prepared by a lobbyist. This vote underscores the way in which our elected officials are so heavily swayed by corporate and banking money that our voices and needs become irrelevant. It is why we need publicly funded elections. Democratic senators, the so-called representatives of the people, fell over themselves to please their Wall Street donors knowing full well there were dangers for the country at large, for ordinary Americans, in repealing Glass-Steagall.

It is important to hold Democratic senators (along with current members of the Obama administration) accountable for the significant role they have played in the current economic crisis that has caused so much suffering for ordinary Americans. In case you were wondering, the current Democratic Senators who voted yes to repeal the Glass-Steagall act are the following:

Daniel Akaka – Max Baucus – Evan Bayh – Jeff Bingaman – Kent Conrad – Chris Dodd – Dick Durbin – Dianne Feinstein – Daniel Inouye – Tim Johnson – John Kerry – Herb Kohl – Mary Landrieu – Frank Lautenberg – Patrick Leahy – Carl Levin – Joseph Lieberman – Blanche Lincoln – Patty Murray – Jack Reed – Harry Reid – Jay Rockefeller – Chuck Schumer – Ron Wyden

Former House members who voted for repeal who are current Senators.

Mark Udall [as of 2010] – Debbie Stabenow – Bob Menendez – Tom Udall -Sherrod Brown

No longer in the Senate, or passed away, but who voted for repeal:

Joe Biden -Ted Kennedy -Robert Byrd

These Democratic senators would like to forget or make excuses for their enthusiastic vote on the repeal of Glass Steagall, but it is important to hold them accountable for helping their bank donors realize obscene profits while their constituents lost jobs, savings and homes. And it is important to demand that they serve the interests of the American people.

*

[The repeal of Glass Steagal was a landmark victory in deregulation that greased the skids for the passage of CFMA once Democrats had been further demoralized by the SCOTUS decision on Bush-v-Gore. The first vote on GLBA was split along party lines, but passed because Republicans had majority and Clinton was willing to sign which was clear from the waiver that had been granted to illegal Citi merger with Travelers. Both Citi and AIG mergers contributed to too big to fail. The CFMA was the nail in the coffin that probably would have never gotten off the ground if Democrats had held the line on the GLBA. Glass-Steagal was insufficient as a regulatory system to prevent the 2008 mortgage crisis, but it was giant as an icon of New Deal financial system reform. Its loss institutionalized too big to fail.]

pgl -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Gramm Leach Biley was a mistake. But it was not the only failure of US regulatory policies towards financial institutions nor the most important. I think that is what Hillary Clinton is saying.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> pgl...

It was more symbolic caving in on financial regulation than a specific technical failure except for making too big to fail worse at Citi and AIG. It marked a sea change of thinking about financial regulation. Nothing mattered any more, including the CFMA just a little over one year later. Deregulation of derivatives trading mandated by the CFMA was a colossal failure and it is not bizarre to believe that GLBA precipitated the consensus on financial deregulation enough that after the demoralizing defeat of Democrats in Bush-v-Gore then there was no New Deal spirit of financial regulation left. Social development is not just a series of unconnected events. It is carried on a tide of change. A falling tide grounds all boats.

pgl -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

We had a financial dereg craze back in the late 1970's and early 1980's which led to the S&L disaster. One would have thought we would have learned from that. But then came the dereg craziness 20 years later. And this disaster was much worse.

I don't care whether Hillary says 1999 was a mistake or not. I do care what the regulations of financial institutions will be like going forward.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> pgl...

I cannot disagree with any of that.

sanjait -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

"Deregulation of derivatives trading mandated by the CFMA was a colossal failure and it is not bizarre to believe that GLBA precipitated the consensus"

Yeah, it is kind of bizarre to blame one bill for a crisis that occurred largely because another bill was passed, based on some some vague assertion about how the first bill made everyone think crazy.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> sanjait...
Democrats did not vote for GLBA until after reconciliation between the House and Senate bills. Democrats were tossed a bone in the Community Reinvestment Act financing provisions and given that Bill Clinton was going to sign anyway and that Republicans were able to pass the bill without a single vote from Democrats then all but a few Democrats bought in. They could not stop it, so they just bought into it. I thought there was supposed to be an understanding of behaviorism devoted to understanding the political economy. For that matter Republicans did not need Democrats to vote for the CFMA either, but they did. That gave Republicans political cover for whatever went wrong later on. No one with a clue believed things would go well from the passage of either of these bills. It was pure Wall Street driven kleptocracy.
likbez -> sanjait...
It was not one bill or another. It was a government policy to get traders what they want.

See

Bruce E. Woych | August 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

http://www.imackgroup.com/mathematics/989981-the-untold-story-brooksley-born-larry-summers-the-truth-about-unlimited-risk-potential/

The Untold Story: Brooksley Born, Larry Summers & the Truth …
http://www.imackgroup.com/mathematics/989981-the-untold-story-brooksley-born-larry...
Oct 5, 2012 … Larry Summers is attempting to re-write history at the expense of … and they might just find one critical point revealed in Mr. Cohan's article.
[PERTINENT EXCERPT]: Oct 5, 2012

"As the western world wakes to the fact it is in the middle of a debt crisis spiral, intelligent voices are wondering how this manifested itself? As we speak, those close to the situation could be engaging in historical revisionism to obfuscate their role in the design of faulty leverage structures that were identified in the derivatives markets in 1998 and 2008. These same design flaws, first identified in 1998, are persistent today and could become graphically evident in the very near future under the weight of a European debt crisis.

Author and Bloomberg columnist William Cohan chronicles the fascinating start of this historic leverage implosion in his recent article Rethinking Robert Rubin. Readers may recall it was Mr. Cohan who, in 2004, noted leverage issues that ultimately imploded in 2007-08.

At some point, market watchers will realize the debt crisis story will literally change the world. They will look to the root cause of the problem, and they might just find one critical point revealed in Mr. Cohan's article.

This point occurs in 1998 when then Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) ChairwomanBrooksley Born identified what now might be recognized as core design flaws in leverage structure used in Over the Counter (OTC) transactions. Ms. Born brought her concerns public, by first asking just to study the issue, as appropriate action was not being taken. She issued a concept release paper that simply asked for more information. "The Commission is not entering into this process with preconceived results in mind," the document reads.

Ms. Born later noted in, the PBS Frontline documentary on the topic speculation at the CFTC was the unregulated OTC derivatives were opaque, the risk to the global economy could not be determined and the risk was potentially catastrophic. As a result of this inquiry, Ms. Born was ultimately forced from office.

This brings us to Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary of the United States and at the time right hand man to then Treasury Security Robert Rubin. Mr. Summers was widely credited with implementation of the aggressive tactics used to remove Ms. Born from her office, tactics that multiple sources describe as showing an old world bias against women piercing the glass ceiling.

According to numerous published reports, Mr. Summers was involved in. silencing those who questioned the opaque derivative product's design. "

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Paine ...

TBTF on steroids, might as well CFMA - why not?

Bubbles with less TBTF and a lot less credit default swaps would have been a lot less messy going in. Without TARP, then Congress might have still had the guts for making a lesser New Deal.

EMichael -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

TARP was window dressing. The curtain that covered up the FED's actions.

pgl -> RGC...

Where have I heard about William Greider? Oh yea - this critique of something stupid he wrote about a Supreme Court decision:

www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/06/06/how-many-errors-can-william-greider-make-in-two-sentences-describing-lochner-v-new-york/

pgl -> RGC...

"Exotic financial instruments like derivatives and credit-default swaps flourished, enabling old-line bankers to share in the fun and profit on an awesome scale."

These would have flourished even if Glass-Steagall remained on the books. Leave it to RGC to find some critic of HRC who knows nothing about financial markets.

RGC -> pgl...

Derivatives flourished because of the other deregulation under Clinton, the CFMA. The repeal of GS helped commercial banks participate.

RGC -> pgl...

The repeal of GS helped commercial banks participate.

Fred C. Dobbs -> pgl...

Warren Buffet used to rail about how risky derivative investing is, until he realized they are *extremely* important in the re-insurance biz, which is a
big part of Berkshire Hathaway.

Peter K. said...

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-and-cracking-down-on-wall-street

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Cracking Down on Wall Street
by Dean Baker

Published: 12 December 2015

The New Yorker ran a rather confused piece on Gary Sernovitz, a managing director at the investment firm Lime Rock Partners, on whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would be more effective in reining in Wall Street. The piece assures us that Secretary Clinton has a better understanding of Wall Street and that her plan would be more effective in cracking down on the industry. The piece is bizarre both because it essentially dismisses the concern with too big to fail banks and completely ignores Sanders' proposal for a financial transactions tax which is by far the most important mechanism for reining in the financial industry.

The piece assures us that too big to fail banks are no longer a problem, noting their drop in profitability from bubble peaks and telling readers:

"not only are Sanders's bogeybanks just one part of Wall Street but they are getting less powerful and less problematic by the year."

This argument is strange for a couple of reasons. First, the peak of the subprime bubble frenzy is hardly a good base of comparison. The real question is should we anticipate declining profits going forward. That hardly seems clear. For example, Citigroup recently reported surging profits, while Wells Fargo's third quarter profits were up 8 percent from 2014 levels.

If Sernovitz is predicting that the big banks are about to shrivel up to nothingness, the market does not agree with him. Citigroup has a market capitalization of $152 billion, JPMorgan has a market cap of $236 billion, and Bank of America has a market cap of $174 billion. Clearly investors agree with Sanders in thinking that these huge banks will have sizable profits for some time to come.

The real question on too big to fail is whether the government would sit by and let a Goldman Sachs or Citigroup go bankrupt. Perhaps some people think that it is now the case, but I've never met anyone in that group.

Sernovitz is also dismissive on Sanders call for bringing back the Glass-Steagall separation between commercial banking and investment banking. He makes the comparison to the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, which is actually quite appropriate. The Keystone battle did take on exaggerated importance in the climate debate. There was never a zero/one proposition in which no tar sands oil would be pumped without the pipeline, while all of it would be pumped if the pipeline was constructed. Nonetheless, if the Obama administration was committed to restricting greenhouse gas emissions, it is difficult to see why it would support the building of a pipeline that would facilitate bringing some of the world's dirtiest oil to market.

In the same vein, Sernovitz is right that it is difficult to see how anything about the growth of the housing bubble and its subsequent collapse would have been very different if Glass-Steagall were still in place. And, it is possible in principle to regulate bank's risky practices without Glass-Steagall, as the Volcker rule is doing. However, enforcement tends to weaken over time under industry pressure, which is a reason why the clear lines of Glass-Steagall can be beneficial. Furthermore, as with Keystone, if we want to restrict banks' power, what is the advantage of letting them get bigger and more complex?

The repeal of Glass-Steagall was sold in large part by boasting of the potential synergies from combining investment and commercial banking under one roof. But if the operations are kept completely separate, as is supposed to be the case, where are the synergies?

But the strangest part of Sernovitz's story is that he leaves out Sanders' financial transactions tax (FTT) altogether. This is bizarre, because the FTT is essentially a hatchet blow to the waste and exorbitant salaries in the industry.

Most research shows that trading volume is very responsive to the cost of trading, with most estimates putting the elasticity close to one. This means that if trading costs rise by 50 percent, then trading volume declines by 50 percent. (In its recent analysis of FTTs, the Tax Policy Center assumed that the elasticity was 1.5, meaning that trading volume decline by 150 percent of the increase in trading costs.) The implication of this finding is that the financial industry would pay the full cost of a financial transactions tax in the form of reduced trading revenue.

The Tax Policy Center estimated that a 0.1 percent tax on stock trades, scaled with lower taxes on other assets, would raise $50 billion a year in tax revenue. The implied reduction in trading revenue was even larger. Senator Sanders has proposed a tax of 0.5 percent on equities (also with a scaled tax on other assets). This would lead to an even larger reduction in revenue for the financial industry.

It is incredible that Sernovitz would ignore a policy with such enormous consequences for the financial sector in his assessment of which candidate would be tougher on Wall Street. Sanders FTT would almost certainly do more to change behavior on Wall Street then everything that Clinton has proposed taken together by a rather large margin. It's sort of like evaluating the New England Patriots' Super Bowl prospects without discussing their quarterback.

Syaloch -> Peter K....

Great to see Baker's acknowledgement that an updated Glass-Steagall is just one component of the progressive wing's plan to rein in Wall Street, not the sum total of it. Besides, if Wall Street types don't think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much.

Peter K. -> Syaloch...

Yes that's a good way to look it. Wall Street gave the Democrats and Clinton a lot of campaign cash so that they would dismantle Glass-Steagall. If they want it done, it's probably not a good idea.

EMichael -> Syaloch...

Slippery slope. Ya' gotta find me a business of any type that does not protest any kind of regulation on their business.

Syaloch -> EMichael...

Yeah, but usually because of all the bad things they say will happen because of the regulation. The question is, what do they think of Clinton's plan? I've heard surprisingly little about that, and what I have heard is along these lines: http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/08/investing/hillary-clinton-wall-street-plan/

"Hillary Clinton unveiled her big plan to curb the worst of Wall Street's excesses on Thursday. The reaction from the banking community was a shrug, if not relief."

pgl -> Syaloch...

Two excellent points!!!

sanjait -> Syaloch...

"Besides, if Wall Street types don't think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much."

It has an effect of shrinking the size of a few firms, and that has a detrimental effect on the top managers of those firms, who get paid more money if they have larger firms to manage. But it has little to no meaningful effect on systemic risk.

So if your main policy goal is to shrink the compensation for a small number of powerful Wall Street managers, G-S is great. But if you actually want to accomplish something useful to the American people, like limiting systemic risk in the financial sector, then a plan like Hillary's is much much better. She explained this fairly well in her recent NYT piece.

Paine -> Peter K....

There is absolutely NO question Bernie is for real. Wall Street does not want Bernie. So they'll let Hillary talk as big as she needs to . Why should we believe her when an honest guy like Barry caved once in power

Paine -> Paine ...

Bernie has been anti Wall Street his whole career . He's on a crusade. Hillary is pulling a sham bola

Paine -> Paine ...

Perhaps too often we look at Wall Street as monolithic whether consciously or not. Obviously we know it's no monolithic: there are serious differences

When the street is riding high especially. Right now the street is probably not united but too cautious to display profound differences in public. They're sitting on their hands waiting to see how high the anti Wall Street tide runs this election cycle. Trump gives them cover and I really fear secretly Hillary gives them comfort

This all coiled change if Bernie surges. How that happens depends crucially on New Hampshire. Not Iowa

EMichael -> Paine ...

If Bernie surges and wins the nomination, we will all get to watch the death of the Progressive movement for a decade or two. Congress will become more GOP dominated, and we will have a President in office who will make Hoover look like a Socialist.

Syaloch -> EMichael...

Of course. In politics, as they say in the service, one must always choose the lesser of two evils. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4PzpxOj5Cc

pgl -> EMichael...

You should like the moderate Democrats after George McGovern ran in 1972. I'm hoping we have another 1964 with Bernie leading a united Democratic Congress.

EMichael -> pgl...

Not a chance in the world. And I like Sanders much more than anyone else. It just simply cannot, and will not, happen. He is a communist. Not to me, not to you, but to the vast majority of American voters.

pgl -> EMichael...

He is not a communist. But I agree - Hillary is winning the Democratic nomination. I have only one vote and in New York, I'm badly outnumbered.

ilsm -> Paine ...

I believe Hillary will be to liberal causes after she is elected as LBJ was to peace in Vietnam. Like Bill and Obomber.

pgl -> ilsm...

By 1968, LBJ finally realized it was time to end that stupid war. But it seems certain members in the State Department undermined his efforts in a cynical ploy to get Nixon to be President. The Republican Party has had more slime than substance of most of my life time.

pgl -> Peter K....

Gary Sernovitz, a managing director at the investment firm Lime Rock Partners? Why are we listening to this guy too. It's like letting the fox guard the hen house.

sanjait -> Peter K....

"The piece is bizarre both because it essentially dismisses the concern with too big to fail banks and completely ignores Sanders' proposal for a financial transactions tax which is by far the most important mechanism for reining in the financial industry."

This is just wrong. Is financial system risk in any way correlated with the frequency of transactions? Except for market volatility from HFT ... no. The financial crisis wasn't caused by a high volume of trades. It was caused by bad investments into highly illiquid assets. Again, great example of wanting to punish Wall Street but not bothering to think about what actually works.

Peter K. said...

Robert Reich to the Fed: this is not the time to raise rates.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1116088268403768

RGC said...

Iceland's Radical Money Plan

Iceland, too, is looking at a radical transformation of its money system, after suffering the crushing boom/bust cycle of the private banking model that bankrupted its largest banks in 2008. According to a March 2015 article in the UK Telegraph:

Iceland's government is considering a revolutionary monetary proposal – removing the power of commercial banks to create money and handing it to the central bank. The proposal, which would be a turnaround in the history of modern finance, was part of a report written by a lawmaker from the ruling centrist Progress Party, Frosti Sigurjonsson, entitled "A better monetary system for Iceland".

"The findings will be an important contribution to the upcoming discussion, here and elsewhere, on money creation and monetary policy," Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said. The report, commissioned by the premier, is aimed at putting an end to a monetary system in place through a slew of financial crises, including the latest one in 2008.

Under this "Sovereign Money" proposal, the country's central bank would become the only creator of money. Banks would continue to manage accounts and payments and would serve as intermediaries between savers and lenders. The proposal is a variant of the Chicago Plan promoted by Kumhof and Benes of the IMF and the Positive Money group in the UK.

Public Banking Initiatives in Iceland, Ireland and the UK

A major concern with stripping private banks of the power to create money as deposits when they make loans is that it will seriously reduce the availability of credit in an already sluggish economy. One solution is to make the banks, or some of them, public institutions. They would still be creating money when they made loans, but it would be as agents of the government; and the profits would be available for public use, on the model of the US Bank of North Dakota and the German Sparkassen (public savings banks).

In Ireland, three political parties – Sinn Fein, the Green Party and Renua Ireland (a new party) - are now supporting initiatives for a network of local publicly-owned banks on the Sparkassen model. In the UK, the New Economy Foundation (NEF) is proposing that the failed Royal Bank of Scotland be transformed into a network of public interest banks on that model. And in Iceland, public banking is part of the platform of a new political party called the Dawn Party.

December 11, 2015
Reinventing Banking: From Russia to Iceland to Ecuador

by Ellen Brown

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/11/reinventing-banking-from-russia-to-iceland-to-ecuador/

pgl -> RGC...

"Banks would continue to manage accounts and payments and would serve as intermediaries between savers and lenders."

OK but that means they issue bank accounts which of course we call deposits. So is this just semantics? People want checking accounts. People want savings accounts. Otherwise they would not exist. Iceland plans to do what to stop the private sector from getting what it wants?

I like the idea of public banks. Let's nationalize JPMorganChase so we don't have to listen to Jamie Dimon anymore!

sanjait -> pgl...

I don't know for sure (not bothering to search and read the referenced proposals), but I assumed the described proposal was for an end to fractional reserve banking. Banks would have to have full reserves to make loans. Or something. I could be wrong about that.

Syaloch said...

Sorry, but Your Favorite Company Can't Be Your Friend

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/upshot/sorry-but-your-favorite-company-cant-be-your-friend.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

To think that an artificial person, whether corporeal or corporate, can ever be your friend requires a remarkable level of self-delusion.

A commenter on the Times site aptly quotes Marx in response:

"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers."

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm

[Dec 12, 2015] Guyenot Who are the Neocons

Notable quotes:
"... The American Neocons are Zionists (Their goal is expanding political / military power. Initially this is focused on the state of Israel.) ..."
"... Obviously , if Zionism is synonymous with patriotism in Israel, it cannot be an acceptable label in American politics, where it would mean loyalty to a foreign power. This is why the neoconservatives do not represent themselves as Zionists on the American scene. Yet they do not hide it all together either. ..."
"... He points out dual-citizen (Israel / USA) members and self proclaimed Zionists throughout cabinet level positions in the US government, international banking and controlling the US military. In private writings and occasionally in public, Neocons admit that America's war policies are actually Israel's war goals. (Examples provided.) ..."
"... American Jewish Committee ..."
"... Contemporary Jewish Record ..."
"... If there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it. It's a thought one imagines most American Jews, overwhelmingly liberal, will find horrifying . And yet it is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants' grandchildren ..."
"... Goyenot traces the Neocon's origins through its influential writers and thinkers. Highest on the list is Leo Strauss. (Neocons are sometimes called "the Straussians.") Leo Strauss is a great admirer of Machiavelli with his utter contempt for restraining moral principles making him "uniquely effective," and, "the ideal patriot." He gushes over Machiavelli praising the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech. ..."
"... believes that Truth is harmful to the common man and the social order and should be reserved for superior minds. ..."
"... nations derive their strength from their myths , which are necessary for government and governance. ..."
"... national myths have no necessary relationship with historical reality: they are socio-cultural constructions that the State has a duty to disseminate . ..."
"... to be effective, any national myth must be based on a clear distinction between good and evil ; it derives its cohesive strength from the hatred of an enemy nation. ..."
"... deception is the norm in political life ..."
"... Office of Special Plans ..."
"... The Zionist/Neocons are piggy-backing onto, or utilizing, the religious myths of both the Jewish and Christian world to consolidate power. This is brilliant Machiavellian strategy. ..."
"... the "chosen people" myth (God likes us best, we are better than you) ..."
"... the Holy Land myth (one area of real estate is more holy than another) ..."
"... General Wesley Clark testified on numerous occasions before the cameras, that one month after September 11th, 2001 a general from the Pentagon showed him a memo from neoconservative strategists "that describes how we're gonna take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan and finishing off with Iran". ..."
"... Among them are brilliant strategists ..."
"... They operate unrestrained by the most basic moral principles upon which civilization is founded. They are undisturbed by compassion for the suffering of others. ..."
"... They use consciously and skillfully use deception and "myth-making" to shape policy ..."
"... They have infiltrated the highest levels of banking, US military, NATO and US government. ..."
Peak Prosperity

Mememonkey pointed my to a 2013 essay by Laurent Guyenot, a French historian and writer on the deep state, that addresses the question of "Who Are The Neoconservatives." If you would like to know about that group that sends the US military into battle and tortures prisoners of war in out name, you need to know about these guys.

First, if you are Jewish, or are a GREEN Meme, please stop and take a deep breath. Please put on your thinking cap and don't react. We are NOT disrespecting a religion, spiritual practice or a culture. We are talking about a radical and very destructive group hidden within a culture and using that culture. Christianity has similar groups and movements--the Crusades, the KKK, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc.

My personal investment: This question has been a subject of intense interest for me since I became convinced that 9/11 was an inside job, that the Iraq war was waged for reasons entirely different from those publically stated. I have been horrified to see such a shadowy, powerful group operating from a profoundly "pre-moral" developmental level-i.e., not based in even the most rudimentary principles of morality foundational to civilization.

Who the hell are these people?!

Goyenot's main points (with a touch of personal editorializing):

1. The American Neocons are Zionists (Their goal is expanding political / military power. Initially this is focused on the state of Israel.)

Neoconservativism is essentially a modern right wing Jewish version of Machiavelli's political strategy. What characterizes the neoconservative movement is therefore not as much Judaism as a religious tradition, but rather Judiasm as a political project, i.e. Zionism, by Machiavellian means.

This is not a religious movement though it may use religions words and vocabulary. It is a political and military movement. They are not concerned with being close to God. This is a movement to expand political and military power. Some are Christian and Mormon, culturally.

Obviously , if Zionism is synonymous with patriotism in Israel, it cannot be an acceptable label in American politics, where it would mean loyalty to a foreign power. This is why the neoconservatives do not represent themselves as Zionists on the American scene. Yet they do not hide it all together either.

He points out dual-citizen (Israel / USA) members and self proclaimed Zionists throughout cabinet level positions in the US government, international banking and controlling the US military. In private writings and occasionally in public, Neocons admit that America's war policies are actually Israel's war goals. (Examples provided.)

2. Most American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal and do NOT share the perspective of the radical Zionists.

The neoconservative movement, which is generally perceived as a radical (rather than "conservative") Republican right, is, in reality, an intellectual movement born in the late 1960s in the pages of the monthly magazine Commentary, a media arm of the American Jewish Committee, which had replaced the Contemporary Jewish Record in 1945. The Forward, the oldest American Jewish weekly, wrote in a January 6th, 2006 article signed Gal Beckerman: "If there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it. It's a thought one imagines most American Jews, overwhelmingly liberal, will find horrifying. And yet it is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants' grandchildren".

3. Intellectual Basis and Moral developmental level

Goyenot traces the Neocon's origins through its influential writers and thinkers. Highest on the list is Leo Strauss. (Neocons are sometimes called "the Straussians.") Leo Strauss is a great admirer of Machiavelli with his utter contempt for restraining moral principles making him "uniquely effective," and, "the ideal patriot." He gushes over Machiavelli praising the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech.

Other major points:

  • believes that Truth is harmful to the common man and the social order and should be reserved for superior minds.
  • nations derive their strength from their myths, which are necessary for government and governance.
  • national myths have no necessary relationship with historical reality: they are socio-cultural constructions that the State has a duty to disseminate.
  • to be effective, any national myth must be based on a clear distinction between good and evil; it derives its cohesive strength from the hatred of an enemy nation.
  • As recognized by Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt in an article "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence" (1999), for Strauss, "deception is the norm in political life" – the rule they [the Neocons] applied to fabricating the lie of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein when working inside the Office of Special Plans.
  • George Bushes speech from the national cathedral after 9/11 exemplifies myth-making at its finest: "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of Evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. . . .[W]e ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. . . . And may He always guide our country. God bless America.

4. The Zionist/Neocons are piggy-backing onto, or utilizing, the religious myths of both the Jewish and Christian world to consolidate power. This is brilliant Machiavellian strategy.

  • the "chosen people" myth (God likes us best, we are better than you)
  • the Holy Land myth (one area of real estate is more holy than another)
  • the second coming of Christ myth
  • the establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth through global destruction/war (nuclear war for the Glory of God)

[The]Pax Judaica will come only when "all the nations shall flow" to the Jerusalem temple, from where "shall go forth the law" (Isaiah 2:1-3). This vision of a new world order with Jerusalem at its center resonates within the Likudnik and neoconservative circles. At the Jerusalem Summit, held from October 12th to 14th, 2003 in the symbolically significant King David Hotel, an alliance was forged between Zionist Jews and Evangelical Christians around a "theopolitical" project, one that would consider Israel… "the key to the harmony of civilizations", replacing the United Nations that's become a "a tribalized confederation hijacked by Third World dictatorships": "Jerusalem's spiritual and historical importance endows it with a special authority to become a center of world's unity. [...] We believe that one of the objectives of Israel's divinely-inspired rebirth is to make it the center of the new unity of the nations, which will lead to an era of peace and prosperity, foretold by the Prophets". Three acting Israeli ministers spoke at the summit, including Benjamin Netanyahu, and Richard Perle.

Jerusalem's dream empire is expected to come through the nightmare of world war. The prophet Zechariah, often cited on Zionist forums, predicted that the Lord will fight "all nations" allied against Israel. In a single day, the whole earth will become a desert, with the exception of Jerusalem, who "shall remain aloft upon its site" (14:10).

With more than 50 millions members, Christians United for Israel is a major political force in the U.S.. Its Chairman, pastor John Haggee, declared: "The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West, [...] a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ".

And Guyenot concludes:

Is it possible that this biblical dream, mixed with the neo-Machiavellianism of Leo Strauss and the militarism of Likud, is what is quietly animating an exceptionally determined and organized ultra-Zionist clan? General Wesley Clark testified on numerous occasions before the cameras, that one month after September 11th, 2001 a general from the Pentagon showed him a memo from neoconservative strategists "that describes how we're gonna take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan and finishing off with Iran".

Is it just a coincidence that the "seven nations" doomed to be destroyed by Israel form part of the biblical myths? …[W]hen Yahweh will deliver Israel "seven nations greater and mightier than yourself […] you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them."

My summary:

  • We have a group that wishes greatly expanded power (to rule the world??)
  • Among them are brilliant strategists
  • They operate unrestrained by the most basic moral principles upon which civilization is founded. They are undisturbed by compassion for the suffering of others.
  • They use consciously and skillfully use deception and "myth-making" to shape policy
  • This is not a spiritual movement in any sense
  • They are utilizing religious myths and language to influence public thinking
  • They envision "winning" in the aftermath world war.
  • They have infiltrated the highest levels of banking, US military, NATO and US government.

[Dec 12, 2015] Visualizing The Worlds Hot Money

Notable quotes:
"... Goldman Sachs buzz-acronym BRICS are five of the largest exporters of hot money . It amuses me to no end how so many buy the idea that the BRICS are gonna take over the world... ..."
"... Better definitions would have black money correspond to any government/public spending, declared capital and proceeds from violent crime (i.e. money that is acquired through or enables violence) and honest money to all the undeclared savings, underground economy/trade proceeds and non-institutional drug money. ..."
"... the most of China money leaves through HK do you think HK is a dump ? ..."
"... Over the years I have written several brief explanations of how offshore havens work. The one at the link below covers the basic-basics reasonably well. http://barlowscayman.blogspot.com/2013/01/offshore-tax-havens-what-they-do.html ..."
"... once again, we see banksters and corrupt corporate sector players colluding with corrupt individuals and assorted criminals - many inside .gov itself - to move ill-gotten gains to safer places out of reach of law enforcement in their own countries. ..."
"... Banksters facilitate virtually every financial crime. ..."
Zero Hedge

Every year, roughly $1 trillion flows illegally out of developing and emerging economies due to crime, corruption, and tax evasion. This amount is more than these countries receive in foreign direct investment and foreign aid combined.

This week, a new report was released that highlights the latest data available on this "hot" money. Assembled by Global Financial Integrity, a research and advisory organization based in Washington, DC, the report details illicit financial flows of money from developing countries using the latest information available, which is up until the end of 2013.

Chart The World's Hot Money

The cumulative amount of this "hot money" coming out of developing countries totaled just over $7.8 trillion between 2004 and 2013. On an annual basis, it breached the $1 trillion mark each of the last three years of data available, which is good for a growth rate of 6.5% rate annually.

In Asia, illicit financial outflows are growing even quicker at an 8.6% clip. It's also on the continent that five of the ten largest source economies for these flows can be found, including the largest offender, which is Mainland China.

How does this "hot" money leave these countries? Global Financial Integrity has calculated that 83% of illicit financial flows are due to what it calls "trade misinvoicing".

It's defined as the following:

The misinvoicing of trade is accomplished by misstating the value or volume of an export or import on a customs invoice. Trade misinvoicing is a form of trade-based money laundering made possible by the fact that trading partners write their own trade documents, or arrange to have the documents prepared in a third country (typically a tax haven), a method known as re-invoicing. Fraudulent manipulation of the price, quantity, or quality of a good or service on an invoice allows criminals, corrupt government officials, and commercial tax evaders to shift vast amounts of money across international borders quickly, easily, and nearly always undetected.

Trade misinvoicing accounted for an average of $654.7 billion per year of lost trade in developing markets over the data set covered by the report.

Source: Visual Capitalist

38BWD22

Goldman Sachs buzz-acronym "BRICS" are five of the largest exporters of "hot money". It amuses me to no end how so many buy the idea that the BRICS are gonna take over the world...

markmotive

6 signals for an impending bear market:

http://www.planbeconomics.com/2015/12/6-signals-for-impending-bear-marke...

jefferson32

What the fuck is "illicit" money? Savings that weren't looted away?

Better definitions would have "black" money correspond to any government/public spending, declared capital and proceeds from violent crime (i.e. money that is acquired through or enables violence) and honest money to all the undeclared savings, underground economy/trade proceeds and non-institutional drug money.

avenriv

the most of China money leaves through HK do you think HK is a dump ?

did you ever leave your small town ?

38BWD22

I found Hong Kong rather nice some 20 years ago, Beijing not so much.

We just came back from India.

So, yes, I have been to four of those BRICS, and am not impressed. Sorry.

Feel free to tell me more though. Especially about your travels. ;)

BarnacleBill

As a (retired) tax-haven professional in three countries, and a former Manager of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, I must caution against the term "mis-invoicing" - with or without the hyphen...More properly, it's re-invoicing, and no more illicit than the procedure by which any trader buys goods at one price and sells them at another.

When a corporate buyer is owned by the same people as own the seller, their transaction may raise an eyebrow or two, but usually it would be permitted by the published taxation laws of all the relevant companies, as those laws are interpreted by both private-sector lawyers and the tax authorities. With transactions of that kind, it is beneficial for the owners if the tax-rates are different in the two jurisdictions. Well, of course; but that situation is always - always - allowed by the laws of those jurisdictions, whether they are developed or developing.

Over the years I have written several brief explanations of how "offshore" havens work. The one at the link below covers the basic-basics reasonably well. http://barlowscayman.blogspot.com/2013/01/offshore-tax-havens-what-they-do.html

Duc888

"Every year, roughly $1 trillion flows illegally out of developing and emerging economies due to crime, corruption, and tax evasion"

Yea, that would be banksterz, CIA and their drug running, NGO's and their child trafficking....... etc... Might want to throw a few more zero's in there too.

Bob who runs the deli down the street and pockets $500 "illicit" dollars a week is not your worry or concern you stupid fuckkkerz.


zeroboris

The Russian central bank every year publishes a report of how many billions of dollars have stolen from our economy, and... does nothing, nothing at all to stop this.

smacker

There are good arguments to say that what people do with their own money is nothing to do with .gov.

But once again, we see banksters and corrupt corporate sector players colluding with corrupt individuals and assorted criminals - many inside .gov itself - to move ill-gotten gains to safer places out of reach of law enforcement in their own countries.

Banksters facilitate virtually every financial crime.

[Dec 11, 2015] Why Its Tricky for Fed Officials to Talk Politically

"There is no reason for central banks to have the kind of independence that judicial institutions have. Justice may be blind and above politics, but money and banking are not." Economic and politics are like Siamese twins (which actually . If somebody trying to separate them it is a clear sign that the guy is either neoliberal propagandists or outright crook.
Notable quotes:
"... I think FED chairman is the second most powerful political position in the USA after the POTUS. Or may be in some respects it is even the first ;-) So it is quintessentially high-power political position masked with the smokescreen of purely economic (like many other things are camouflaged under neoliberalism.) ..."
"... I think that is a hidden principle behind attacks on FED chair. A neoliberal principle that the state should not intrude into economics and limit itself to the police, security, defense, law enforcement and few other related to this functions. So their point that she overextended her mandate is an objection based on principle. Which can be violated only if it is used to uphold neoliberalism, as Greenspan did during his career many times. ..."
"... This kind of debate seems to be a by-product of the contemporary obsession with having an independent central bank, run according to the fantasy that there is such a thing as a neutral or apolitical way to conduct monetary policy. ..."
"... A number of commenters and authors have recently pointed out that inequality may not just be an unrelated phenomenon to monetary policy, but actually, in part at least, a byproduct of it. ..."
"... The theory is that the Fed in the Great Moderation age has been so keen to stave off even the possibility of inflation that it chokes down the vigor of recoveries before they get to the part where median wages start rising quickly. The result is that wages get ratcheted down with the economic cycle, falling during recessions and never fully recovering during the recoveries. ..."
"... Two Things: (i) The Fed should be open and honest about monetary policy. No one wants to return to the Greenspan days. (ii) Brad Delong is a neoliberal hack. ..."
"... As to why risk a political backlash in the piece, the short answer is: to invoke the debate on whether politics or fact (science) is going to dominate. Because they can't both. See: Romer. Let's have this out once and for all. ..."
Dec 11, 2015 | Economist's View
anne said...
Fine column, with which I agree. Federal Reserve policy as such is difficult and contentious enough to avoid wandering to social-economic analysis or philosophy from aspects of the Fed mandate.

As for the use of the word "hack" in referring to Janet Yellen, that needlessly insulting use was by a Washington Post editor and not by columnist Michael Strain.

anne -> RW (the other)...

As Brad notes, many Fed Chairs before Yellen have opined on matters outside monetary policy so why is Yellen subject to a different standard?

[ Fine, I have reconsidered and agree. No matter how the headline was written, the headline was meant to be intimidating and was willfully mean and that could and should have been made clear immediately by the writer of the column. ]

likbez -> anne...

"Federal Reserve policy as such is difficult and contentious enough to avoid wandering to social-economic analysis or philosophy from aspects of the Fed mandate."

Anne,

I think FED chairman is the second most powerful political position in the USA after the POTUS. Or may be in some respects it is even the first ;-) So it is quintessentially high-power political position masked with the smokescreen of "purely economic" (like many other things are camouflaged under neoliberalism.)

That's why Greenspan got it, while being despised by his Wall-Street colleagues...

He got it because he was perfect for promoting deregulation political agenda from the position of FED chair.

pgl -> likbez...

Greenspan was despised on Wall Street? Wow as he tried so hard to serve their interests. I guess the Wall Street crowd is never happy no matter how much income we feed these blow hards.

anne -> likbez...

So it is quintessentially high-power political position masked with the smokescreen of "purely economic" (like many other things are camouflaged under neoliberalism.)

[ I understand, and am convinced. ]

Peter K. said...

I respectfully disagree. Republicans are always working the refs and despite what the writer from AEI said, they're okay with conservative Fed chairs talking politics. They have double standards.

Greenspan testified to Congress on behalf of Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Something about how since Clinton balanced the budget, the financial markets had too little safe debt to work with. (maybe that's why they dove into mortgaged-backed securities). But tax cuts versus more government spending? He and Rubin advised Clinton to drop his middle class spending bill and trade deficit reduction for lower interest rates. That's economics which have political outcomes.

So if the rightwing is going to work the the refs, so should the left. We shouldn't unilaterally disarm over fears Congress will gun for the Fed. There should be more groups like Fed Up protesting.

The good thing about Yellen's speech is that it's a signal to progressives that inequality is problem for her even as she is raising rates in a political dance with hawks and Congress.

The Fed is constantly accused of increasing inequality so it's good Yellen is saying she thinks it's a bad thing and not American.

Bernie Sanders is right that for change to happen we'll need more political involvement from regular citizens. We'll need a popular movement with many leaders.

The Fed should be square in the sights of a progressive movement. A high-pressured economy with full employment should be a top priority.

Instead I saw Nancy Pelosi being interviewed by Al Hunt on Charlie Rose the other night. Hunt asked her about Yellen raising rates.

Pelosi said no comment as she wasn't looking at the data Yellen was and didn't want to interfere. The Fed should be independent, etc. Perhaps like Thoma she has the best of motives and doesn't want to motivate the Republicans to go after the Fed and oppose what she wants.

Still I felt the Democratic leadership should be committed to a high-pressure economy. Her staff should know what Krugman, Summers etc are saying. What the IMF and World Bank are sayings.

She should have said "they shouldn't raise rates until they see the whites of inflation's eyes" as Krugman memorably put it. She should have said that emphatically.

We need a Democratic Party like that.

Instead Peter Diamond is blocked from becoming a Fed governor by Republicans and Pelosi is afraid to comment on monetary policy.

Peter K. -> Peter K....

A longer reply from DeLong:

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/12/must-read-i-would-beg-the-highly-esteemed-mark-thoma-to-draw-a-distinction-here-between-inappropriate-and-unwise-in-m.html

Must-Read: I would beg the highly-esteemed Mark Thoma to draw a distinction here between "inappropriate" and unwise. In my view, it is not at all inappropriate for Fed Chair Janet Yellen to express her concern about excessive inequality. Previous Fed Chairs, after all, have expressed their liking for inequality as an essential engine of economic growth over and over again over the past half century--with exactly zero critical snarking from the American Enterprise Institute for trespassing beyond the boundaries of their role.

But that it is not inappropriate for Janet Yellen to do so does not mean that it is wise. Mark's argument is, I think, that given the current political situation it is unwise for Janet to further incite the ire of the nutboys in the way that even the mildest expression of concern about rising inequality will do.

That may or may not be true. I think it is not.

But I do not think that bears on my point that Michael R. Strain's arguments that Janet Yellen's speech on inequality was inappropriate are void, wrong, erroneous, inattentive to precedent, shoddy, expired, expired, gone to meet their maker, bereft of life, resting in peace, pushing up the daisies, kicked the bucket, shuffled off their mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible:

Mark Thoma: Why It's Tricky for Fed Officials to Talk Politically: "I think I disagree with Brad DeLong...

pgl -> Peter K....

"my point that Michael R. Strain's arguments that Janet Yellen's speech on inequality was inappropriate are void, wrong, erroneous..."

DeLong is exactly right here. Strain's argument has its own share of partisan lies whereas Yellen is telling the truth. Brad will not be intimidated by this AEI weasel.

sanjait said...

Why would Yellen not talk about inequality? It's an important macroeconomic topic and one that is relevant for her job. It's both an input and an output variable that is related to monetary policy.

And, arguably I think, median wage growth should be regarded as a policy goal for the Fed, related to its explicit mandate of "maximum employment."

But even if you think inequality is unrelated to the Fed's policy goals, that doesn't stop them from talking about other topics. Do people accuse the Fed of playing politics when they talk about desiring reduced financial market volatility? That has little to do with growth, employment and general price stability.

likbez -> sanjait...

I think that is a hidden principle behind attacks on FED chair. A neoliberal principle that the state should not intrude into economics and limit itself to the police, security, defense, law enforcement and few other related to this functions. So their point that she overextended her mandate is an objection based on principle. Which can be violated only if it is used to uphold neoliberalism, as Greenspan did during his career many times.

Sandwichman said...

I think I disagree with Mark Thoma's disagreement with Brad DeLong. Actually, ALL economic discourse is political and efforts to restrain the politics are inevitably efforts to keep the politics one-sided

Dan Kervick said...

This kind of debate seems to be a by-product of the contemporary obsession with having an "independent" central bank, run according to the fantasy that there is such a thing as a neutral or apolitical way to conduct monetary policy.

But there really isn't. Different kinds of social, economic and political values and policy agendas are going to call for different kinds monetary and credit policies. It might be better for our political health if the Fed were administratively re-located as an executive branch agency that is in turn part of a broader Department of Money and Banking - no different from the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Education, etc. In that case everybody would then view Fed governors as ordinary executive branch appointees who report to the President, and whose policies are naturally an extension of the administration's broader agenda. Then if people don't like the monetary policies that are carried out, that would be one factor in their decision about whom to vote for.

There is no reason for central banks to have the kind of independence that judicial institutions have. Justice may be blind and above politics, but money and banking are not. Decisions in that latter area should be no more politics-free than decisions about taxing and spending. If we fold the central bank more completely into the regular processes of representative government, then if a candidate wants to run on a platform of keeping interest rates low, small business credit easy, bank profits small, etc., they could do so without all of the doubletalk about the protecting the independence of the sacrosanct bankers' temple.

We could also then avoid unproductive wheel-spinning about that impossibly vague and hedged Fed mandate that can be stretched to mean almost anything people want it to mean. The Fed's mandate under the political solution would just be whatever monetary policy the President ran on.

likbez -> Dan Kervick...

"The Fed's mandate under the political solution would just be whatever monetary policy the President ran on"

Perfect !

Actually sanjait in his post made a good point why this illusive goal is desirable (providing "electoral advantage") although Greenspan probably violated this rule. A couple of hikes of interest rates from now till election probably will doom Democrats.

Also the idea of FEB independence went into overdrive since 80th not accidentally. It has its value in enhancing the level of deregulation.

Among other things it helps to protect large financial institutions from outright nationalization in cases like 2008.

Does somebody in this forum really think that Bernanke has an option of putting a couple of Wall-Street most violent and destructive behemoths into receivership (in other words nationalize them) in 2008 without Congress approval ?

Dan Kervick -> Sanjait ...

Sanjait, with due respect, you are not really responding to the reform proposal, but only affirming the differences between that proposal and the current system.

Yes, of course fiscal policy is "constrained" by Congress. Indeed, it is not just constrained by Congress but actually made by Congress, subject only to an overridable executive branch veto. The executive branch is responsible primarily for carrying out the legislature's fiscal directives. That's the point. In a democratic system decisions about all forms of taxation and government spending are supposed to be made by the elected legislative branch, and then executed by agencies of the executive branch. My proposal is that monetary policy should be handled in the same way: by the elected political branches of the government.

You point out that under current arrangements, central banks can, if they choose, effect large monetary offsets to fiscal policy (or at least to some of the aggregate macroeconomic effects of those policies). I don't understand why any non-elected and politically unaccountable branch of our government should have the power to offset the policies of the elected branches in this way. Fiscal and monetary policy need to be yoked together to achieve policy ends effectively. Those policy ends should be the ones people vote for, not the ones a handful of men and women happen to think are appropriate.

JF -> Dan Kervick...

"In a democratic system" is what you wrote.

It is more proper to refer to it as republicanism. The separation of powers doctrine, underlying the US constitution, is a reflection of James Madison's characterization in the 51st The Federalist Paper, and it is a US-defined republicanism that is almost unique:

"the republican form, wherein the legislative authority necessarily predominates."

- or something like that is the quote.

In the US framers' view, at least those who constructed the re-write in 1787 and were the leaders - I'd say the most important word in Madison's explanation is the word "necessarily" - this philosophy has all law and policy stemming from the public, it presumes that you can't have stability and dynamic change of benefit to society without this.

Arguably, aristocracies, fascists, totalitarians, and all the other isms, just don't see it that way, they see things as top-down ordering of society.

The mythology of the monetary theorizing and the notions about a central bank being independently delphic has some of this top-down ordering view to it (austerianism, comes to mind). Well, I don't believe in a religious sense that this is how it should be, nor do you it seems.

It will be an interesting Congress in 2017 when new legislative authorities are enacted to establish clearer framing of the ministerial duties now held by the FRB.

Are FED officials scared that this will happen, and as a result they circle the wagons with their associates in the financial community now to fend off the public????

I hope this is not true. They can allay their own fears by leading not back toward 1907, in my opinion.

Of course, I could say where I'd like economic policies to go, and do here often, but this thread is about Yellin and other FED officials.

I recognize that FRB officials can say things too, and should, as leaders of this nation (with a whole lot of research power and evidence available to them their commentary on political economics should have merit and be influential).

Thanks for continuing to remind people that we govern ourselves in the US in a US-defined republican-form. But I think the people still respect and listen to leadership - so speak out FED officials.

JF -> Dan Kervick...

But Dan K, then you'd de-mythologize an entire wing of macroeconomics in a wing referred to as monetary theory based on a separate Central Bank, or some non-political theory of money.

Don't mind the theory as it is an analytic framework that questions and sometimes informs - but it is good to step back and realize some of the religious-like framing.

It is political-economy.

Peter K. -> pgl...

Yellen really lays it out in her speech.

"The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me. The past several decades have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century after more than 40 years of narrowing inequality following the Great Depression. By some estimates, income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then.2 It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority. I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity."

And even links to Piketty in footnote 42.

"Along with other economic advantages, it is likely that large inheritances play a role in the fairly limited intergenerational mobility that I described earlier.42"

42. This topic is discussed extensively in Thomas Piketty (2014), Capital in the 21st Century, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press). Return to text

Sanjait said...

A number of commenters and authors have recently pointed out that inequality may not just be an unrelated phenomenon to monetary policy, but actually, in part at least, a byproduct of it.

The theory is that the Fed in the Great Moderation age has been so keen to stave off even the possibility of inflation that it chokes down the vigor of recoveries before they get to the part where median wages start rising quickly. The result is that wages get ratcheted down with the economic cycle, falling during recessions and never fully recovering during the recoveries.

Do I believe this theory? Increasingly, yes I do. And seeing the Fed right now decide to raise rates, citing accelerating wage growth as one of the main reasons, has reinforced my belief.

A Boy Named Sue said...

Two Things: (i) The Fed should be open and honest about monetary policy. No one wants to return to the Greenspan days. (ii) Brad Delong is a neoliberal hack.

A Boy Named Sue -> A Boy Named Sue...

I do admit, Delong is my favorite conservative economist. He is witty and educational, unlike most RW hacks.

Jeff said...

As to "why risk a political backlash" in the piece, the short answer is: to invoke the debate on whether politics or fact (science) is going to dominate. Because they can't both. See: Romer. Let's have this out once and for all.

[Dec 11, 2015] How Far Can The Syria Conflict Spiral Out Of Control

Notable quotes:
"... By James Stafford, Editor in Chief of OilPrice. Originally published at OilPrice ..."
"... • How far the Russia-Turkey spat can go economically ..."
"... • The fallout effects for countries caught in between ..."
"... • What Russia wants ..."
"... • What Turkey wants ..."
"... • What other geopolitical purposes ISIS serves ..."
"... • Why ISIS can't be controlled ..."
"... • How Shi'ite radical groups differ ..."
"... • Why we're looking at a possible remapping of a significant part of the energy arena ..."
"... • Why we shouldn't listen to billionaire buffoons ..."
"... Larger picture of what's really going on with Turkey's intentions driven by Ergodan, Bensh's correct description of Ergo's character and flaws, and less explicitly stated US (he says "west") 1/2 ass efforts to defeat IS despite US leaders (from WH to Congress) emphatic claims otherwise… ..."
"... "Coupled with unparalleled levels of socioeconomic insecurity, Sunni marginalization produced a real social base whose attraction to ISIS goes beyond religious or ideological factors." ..."
"... ISIS may project a utopic promise of stability and prosperity, but this is far from the reality on the ground. We can be absolutely certain that it will experience its own internal revolts, as similarly declarative examples of Islamic "states" have faced in the past. ..."
"... Yet, from the point of view of Washington, a geostrategic problem lingered: how to break the Tehran-Damascus alliance. And ultimately, how to break the Tehran-Moscow alliance. ..."
"... The "Assad must go" obsession in Washington is a multi-headed hydra. It includes breaking a Russia-Iran-Iraq-Syria alliance (now very much in effect as the "4+1" alliance, including Hezbollah, actively fighting all strands of Salafi Jihadism in Syria). But it also includes isolating energy coordination among them, to the benefit of the Gulf petrodollar clients/vassals linked to US energy giants. ..."
"... Thus Washington's strategy so far of injecting the proverbial Empire of Chaos logic into Syria; feeding the flames of internal chaos, a pre-planed op by the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the endgame being regime change in Damascus. ..."
"... Of course Turkey is the wild card – Erdogan is increasingly looking like he might be the spark that sets off a much larger conflict. To answer the question, I think there are a lot of really bad scenarios that could happen here, and they are a lot closer than people think (Turkey shutting down the Bosphorus, for starters.) ..."
"... It is way past time for the arrogant stupidity of Washington's neoconservatives to be exposed and for them to at a minimum be removed from the levers of power – if not tried for crimes against humanity. And that includes Obama if he is really one of them, i.e. if he believes in anything but the politics of power. ..."
"... Specifically with respect to Syria, it looks like about the best the 'West' (i.e. the US and its vassals) can hope for is some pipeline arrangement providing Europe with an alternative, a competing supplier for its energy needs. In exchange, the 'West' can agree to end its economic war against Russia, Iran et.al and get back to the business of business, i.e. exporting something other than debt and bombs. ..."
"... I remember reading years ago that the rise of the AKP, and the rising standard of living with it, was fueled directly by a large stream of cash that was funneled from the House of Saud. ..."
"... The interest must be paid… ..."
"... I think the waffling on ISIS is due to their location among Sunnis. The US would like to win Sunnis over, so they're cautious about bombing, which of course is to ISIS' advantage. ..."
"... From where I sit, the Syria conflict is an important part of a much larger one – between the 'West' and Russia. Things have been heating up again in the Ukraine. Biden gave a speech there just a couple of days ago in which he insisted that 'NATO would not rest until Crimea was returned to the Ukraine.' That's not going to happen without a war. ..."
naked capitalism

By James Stafford, Editor in Chief of OilPrice. Originally published at OilPrice

...No one can fight a war without oil, according to Robert Bensh, partner and managing director of Pelicourt LLC oil and gas company. But while the politically unhinged are coming out the woodwork, the more important aspects of this story remain elusive to the public. Is the dangerously unspoken theory that ISIS is a bulwark against Iran what's keeping the West from tackling the Islamic State wholeheartedly on its territory?

... ... ...

In an exclusive interview with James Stafford of Oilprice.com, Bensh discusses:

• How far the Russia-Turkey spat can go economically
• The fallout effects for countries caught in between
• What Russia wants
• What Turkey wants
• What other geopolitical purposes ISIS serves
• Why ISIS can't be controlled
• How Shi'ite radical groups differ
• Why we're looking at a possible remapping of a significant part of the energy arena
• Why we shouldn't listen to billionaire buffoons

... ... ...

Robert Bensh: Russia and Turkey have a great deal of economic interdependence, and nowhere more than in the energy sector. There has been no talk of cutting Russian gas to Turkey, and I don't see how Russia can afford this right now. Turkey is not only a significant customer for Russia, but it's also a key gas-transit point.

James Stafford: So what does Turkey want?

Robert Bensh: The better question is: "What does Erdogan want?" You know, Putin's probably not too far off in his statement referring to Erdogan's loss of "mind and reason". Erdogan has been going down this path little by little for some time and it's no secret that he has some megalomaniacal tendencies that grow more and more out of control every year. It would seem that he has dreams of a return of the Ottoman Empire-and that ISIS could be a logical ally to that end. Of course, ISIS is not likely looking to be beholden to another Ottoman Empire controlling a greater Sunni-Arab dominion. Many, many Turks fail to share this dream with their leader, and his ambitions will also be his eventual downfall unfortunately.

For the Turkish regime, there is also the idea that ISIS will ostensibly give them more power against the rise of the Kurds, both in southeastern Turkey and in northern Syria. It will even raise the Turks' status in the face of the Saudis whose oil wealth has make them more powerful than the Turks in many ways.

Jim McKay

Yves: I think your "quibble" is… indeed minor.

Larger picture of what's really going on with Turkey's intentions driven by Ergodan, Bensh's correct description of Ergo's character and flaws, and less explicitly stated US (he says "west") 1/2 ass efforts to defeat IS despite US leaders (from WH to Congress) emphatic claims otherwise…

These are realities. Whatever small portion of US electorate reads here, at least a few are being introduced to this. We are heading into another election with… in my view, more deeply entrenched public opinions on this based on lies, then maybe any time I recall my entire life. It's just, the game is bigger now with more potential for longer lasting catastrophe if we don't find a way to right our ship.

I appreciate this article… it's on the right track. Only other thing I'd mention: amidst all this, we've had recent international climate meetings with little progress. Clearly, this is bigger problem for entire planet that nobody will escape. I'm stuck by Bensh's comments on protecting their investments (oil) and how the various players he mentions all make decisions based on… oil. It over rides, it seems…everything else that matters.

The planet needs to get behind renewables, and develop them… fast. It's not so hard to see how doing so would change these other geo-political games forever.

financial matters

I think taking the 'businessman' look at this is not a bad way to look at it. As Adam Hanieh has pointed out

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/isis-syria-iraq-war-al-qaeda-arab-spring/

"Coupled with unparalleled levels of socioeconomic insecurity, Sunni marginalization produced a real social base whose attraction to ISIS goes beyond religious or ideological factors."

and also

"ISIS may project a utopic promise of stability and prosperity, but this is far from the reality on the ground. We can be absolutely certain that it will experience its own internal revolts, as similarly declarative examples of Islamic "states" have faced in the past.

Despite all the setbacks of the last few years, the potential growth of a genuinely left alternative has not been extinguished and, most importantly, has never been more necessary."

--

William Polk echoes this idea of the importance of a non-military and non-police response.

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/11/17/falling-into-the-isis-trap/

"–The results of insurgency are described in my book Violent Politics. There I have shown that in a variety of societies over the last two centuries in various parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, guerrillas have nearly always accomplished their objectives despite even the most draconian counterinsurgency tactics."

His point being that dealing with the fundamental socioeconomic imbalances/repression can be more effective.

Eureka Springs

Interesting to me as much for what is not considered by oil businessmen.

A few quick points:

  • No mention of human suffering, not even in cost/opportunity terms.
  • No mention of rule of law.
  • No mention of what happens to the earths climate/ecosystem if all the oil and gas at stake is unleashed.
  • No mention of who many of the business players are, certainly not in detail. No mention of Erdogans family, Tony Hayward, trafficking / selling this stolen oil…
  • Nor mention of Israel being the major end buyer.
  • When mentioning Assad buys oil from IS (U.S Turk Israel Saudi Qatari Qaeda Nusra) no mention of the point Assad is buying his countries own oil at the point of a gun from the thieves who stole it.
  • No mention that this uncertainty/chaos is both deliberate and a constant feature of big oil and MIC's business model.
  • No concern that more tyrants of the head chopping variety are bound to achieve or maintain power.
cassandra

…and

  • No mention of strategic significance of naval base at Tartus
  • No mention of "legal" Saudi arms purchasing and trafficking, and extremist support in Syria, Yemen and about the globe.

Brooklin Bridge

This is a good interview. Along with other posts on the subject, this is bringing a little clarity to why there is no clarity.

participant-observer-observed

Hmmm. No mention of Saudi and others in the dynamic…

for more details, read above with Escobar's Pipelineistan,
here c/o Tom Dispatch.

Jack Heape

Thanks for that link. Escobar always has some good insights. I also suggest Juan Cole. He recently had a good piece on President Erdogan.

camelotkidd

Pepe Escobar has been all over the back story of what he calls pipelineistan– http://counterpunch.org/2015/12/08/syria-ultimate-pipelineistan-war /

"Yet, from the point of view of Washington, a geostrategic problem lingered: how to break the Tehran-Damascus alliance. And ultimately, how to break the Tehran-Moscow alliance.

The "Assad must go" obsession in Washington is a multi-headed hydra. It includes breaking a Russia-Iran-Iraq-Syria alliance (now very much in effect as the "4+1" alliance, including Hezbollah, actively fighting all strands of Salafi Jihadism in Syria). But it also includes isolating energy coordination among them, to the benefit of the Gulf petrodollar clients/vassals linked to US energy giants.

Thus Washington's strategy so far of injecting the proverbial Empire of Chaos logic into Syria; feeding the flames of internal chaos, a pre-planed op by the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the endgame being regime change in Damascus."

participant-observer-observed

Yes, thanks for that most recent Escobar piece at Counterpunch; the one i linked above is already old but still interesting.

The regime change recipe of DC has already been tried and has failed in Iraq, Libya, etc., no one can fathom any improvements replacing Assad + Isis with Isis alone, aka rag tag coalitions of jihadis! Even Saudis can hardly wish for it.

ChrisFromGeorgia

Based on reported facts on the ground (well, reported by non-US media that is) the SAA is making slow but steady progress in retaking key towns and the highway between Aleppo and Damascus. No doubt Russian air and logistical support has made a difference.

If things keep going this way, Assad will likely regain the upper hand and the Saudi/US sponsored jihadis will be confined to the eastern part of the country. It's looking like Washington will have to make a choice – accept Assad as the legitimate ruler (for now) or continue to provoke the situation with guerrilla tactics. We know from history that there is precedent for long wars against legitimate governments that displease Washington (see Daniel Ortega, Sandanistas.) My guess is they go this route and hope to eventually install a stooge.

Of course Turkey is the wild card – Erdogan is increasingly looking like he might be the spark that sets off a much larger conflict. To answer the question, I think there are a lot of really bad scenarios that could happen here, and they are a lot closer than people think (Turkey shutting down the Bosphorus, for starters.)

Steven

It is way past time for the arrogant stupidity of Washington's neoconservatives to be exposed and for them to at a minimum be removed from the levers of power – if not tried for crimes against humanity. And that includes Obama if he is really one of them, i.e. if he believes in anything but the politics of power.

This 'Arrogance of Power' has characterized US foreign policy making since the end of WWII. The U.N. was sold to the public as an arrangement for collective security so the U.S. would not have to 'make the world safe for democracy' (sic) a third time. It has been in reality nothing more than a tool for the pursuit of (perceived) US interests, promptly discarded when the principles in its charter became inconvenient.

Short of initiating the world's Mutually Assured Destruction, the U.S. is running out of options – in Syria and around the world. It may be too late for the U.S. to get serious about collective security, to tell the world 'this time we really mean it'. Having squandered economic and "too good to waste" military power in a successive string of needless wars, it may no longer be possible to convince especially those who hold the levers of power in Russia and China that we are serious about collective security and willing to accept a multi-polar world.

Specifically with respect to Syria, it looks like about the best the 'West' (i.e. the US and its vassals) can hope for is some pipeline arrangement providing Europe with an alternative, a competing supplier for its energy needs. In exchange, the 'West' can agree to end its economic war against Russia, Iran et.al and get back to the business of business, i.e. exporting something other than debt and bombs.

kgw

I remember reading years ago that the rise of the AKP, and the rising standard of living with it, was fueled directly by a large stream of cash that was funneled from the House of Saud.

The interest must be paid…

susan the other

This was really to the point, without actually making it. One thing is becoming clear – the oil wars are distilling down to natural advantage. It currently belongs to SA – but the future looks like it prefers to use Levant & east Mediterranean oil because it will be easier to pipe to southern Europe. And maybe cleaner? So everybody and their dog is fighting for access to it.

It explains Netanyahu's trip to Moscow & the French clearly in league with Russia for achieving access to this resource (why else?). And it is partly being driven by decisions to leave current oil reserves in the ground. As Palast said it is a "war for no oil."

Which in turn makes sense of Kerry's admonishing the Senate about the Iran deal – that if they want to continue to be oil brokers (petrodollar brokers) they have to come to terms with Iran because there are plenty of other nations who can step up; and of course we want our EU cousins to get a cut of Levant oil, and etc. And Russia is clearly protecting its oil interests. I wonder how long this feeding frenzy will continue.

Horatio Parker

I think the waffling on ISIS is due to their location among Sunnis. The US would like to win Sunnis over, so they're cautious about bombing, which of course is to ISIS' advantage.

tgs

From where I sit, the Syria conflict is an important part of a much larger one – between the 'West' and Russia. Things have been heating up again in the Ukraine. Biden gave a speech there just a couple of days ago in which he insisted that 'NATO would not rest until Crimea was returned to the Ukraine.' That's not going to happen without a war.

[Dec 11, 2015] Caught On Tape Ukraine Premier Assaulted In Parliament

Notable quotes:
"... lawmaker Oleh Barna walked over to him with a bunch of red roses and then grabbed him around the waist and groin, lifting him off his feet and dragging him from the rostrum. ..."
"... As The FT reports, ..."
Zero Hedge
& Fighting broke out in parliament among members of Ukraine's ruling coalition on Friday after a member of President Petro Poroshenko's bloc physically picked up Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk and pulled him from the podium.

Yatseniuk was defending his embattled government's record when lawmaker Oleh Barna walked over to him with a bunch of red roses and then grabbed him around the waist and groin, lifting him off his feet and dragging him from the rostrum.

Members of Yatseniuk's People Front party waded in, pushing Barna and throwing punches, sparking a brawl in the assembly.

You just can't make this up...

https://www.youtube.com/embed/2zgTl6-KWqg

The PM later said there were "a lot of morons," so he would not comment on the incident.

* * *

As The FT reports,

Ukraine's parliament has indefinitely postponed a vote of no-confidence in the government of Arseniy Yatseniuk, but not without highlighting the fragility of the country's pro-western coalition.

Citing a flurry of corruption scandals and the lacklustre pace of reforms, an increasing number of MPs - even within the ruling majority - have in recent weeks called for the ousting of Mr Yatseniuk via a no-confidence vote on Friday.

Ukraine's western backers, namely the US and EU, feared such a move could plunge the war-torn and recession-ravaged country into a deep political crisis as it continues to battle Russian-backed separatists in eastern regions - and jeopardise a $40bn international bailout led by the International Monetary Fund.

Such concerns are believed to have been expressed by US vice president Joe Biden in closed door discussions during a visit to Kiev early this week in which he publicly called for political unity, swifter reforms and deeper anti-corruption efforts.

And this is the nation's government who US-taxpayer-backed IMF just forgave their debt, implicitly backing them, and entering The Cold War...

Instead, the IMF is backing Ukrainian policy, its kleptocracy and its Right Sector leading the attacks that recently cut off Crimea's electricity. The only condition on which the IMF insists is continued austerity. Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, has fallen by a third this years, pensions have been slashed (largely as a result of being inflated away), while corruption continues unabated.

Despite this the IMF announced its intention to extend new loans to finance Ukraine's dependency and payoffs to the oligarchs who are in control of its parliament and justice departments to block any real cleanup of corruption.

For over half a year there was a semi-public discussion with U.S. Treasury advisors and Cold Warriors about how to stiff Russia on the $3 billion owed by Ukraine to Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund. There was some talk of declaring this an "odious debt," but it was decided that this ploy might backfire against U.S. supported dictatorships.

In the end, the IMF simply lent Ukraine the money.

By doing so, it announced its new policy: "We only enforce debts owed in US dollars to US allies." This means that what was simmering as a Cold War against Russia has now turned into a full-blown division of the world into the Dollar Bloc (with its satellite Euro and other pro-U.S. currencies) and the BRICS or other countries not in the U.S. financial and military orbit.

[Dec 10, 2015] Special Report Buybacks enrich the bosses even when business sags

Notable quotes:
"... Most publicly traded U.S. companies reward top managers for hitting performance targets, meant to tie the interests of managers and shareholders together. At many big companies, those interests are deemed to be best aligned by linking executive performance to earnings per share, along with measures derived from the company's stock price. ..."
"... But these metrics may not be solely a reflection of a company's operating performance. They can be, and often are, influenced through stock repurchases. In addition to cutting the number of a company's shares outstanding, and thus lifting EPS, buybacks also increase demand for the shares, usually providing a lift to the share price, which affects other performance markers. ..."
"... Pay for performance as it is often structured creates "very troublesome, problematic incentives that can potentially drive very short-term thinking." ..."
"... As reported in the first article in this series, share buybacks by U.S. non-financial companies reached a record $520 billion in the most recent reporting year. A Reuters analysis of 3,300 non-financial companies found that together, buybacks and dividends have surpassed total capital expenditures and are more than double research and development spending. ..."
"... "There's been an over-focus on buybacks and raising EPS to hit share option targets, and we know that those are concentrated in the hands of the few, and that the few is in the top 1 percent," said James Montier, a member of the asset allocation team at global investment firm GMO in London, which manages more than $100 billion in assets. ..."
"... The introduction of performance targets has been a driver of surging executive pay, helping to widen the gap between the richest in America and the rest of the country. Median CEO pay among companies in the S P 500 increased to a record $10.3 million last year, up from $8.6 million in 2010, according to data firm Equilar. ..."
"... At those levels, CEOs last year were paid 303 times what workers in their industries earned, compared with a ratio of 59 times in 1989, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit. ..."
finance.yahoo.com

NEW YORK(Reuters) - When health insurer Humana Inc reported worse-than-expected quarterly earnings in late 2014 – including a 21 percent drop in net income – it softened the blow by immediately telling investors it would make a $500 million share repurchase.

In addition to soothing shareholders, the surprise buyback benefited the company's senior executives. It added around two cents to the company's annual earnings per share, allowing Humana to surpass its $7.50 EPS target by a single cent and unlocking higher pay for top managers under terms of the company's compensation agreement.

Thanks to Humana hitting that target, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Broussard earned a $1.68 million bonus for 2014.

Most publicly traded U.S. companies reward top managers for hitting performance targets, meant to tie the interests of managers and shareholders together. At many big companies, those interests are deemed to be best aligned by linking executive performance to earnings per share, along with measures derived from the company's stock price.

But these metrics may not be solely a reflection of a company's operating performance. They can be, and often are, influenced through stock repurchases. In addition to cutting the number of a company's shares outstanding, and thus lifting EPS, buybacks also increase demand for the shares, usually providing a lift to the share price, which affects other performance markers.

As corporate America engages in an unprecedented buyback binge, soaring CEO pay tied to short-term performance measures like EPS is prompting criticism that executives are using stock repurchases to enrich themselves at the expense of long-term corporate health, capital investment and employment.

"We've accepted a definition of performance that is narrow and quite possibly inappropriate," said Rosanna Landis Weaver, program manager of the executive compensation initiative at As You Sow, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that promotes corporate responsibility. Pay for performance as it is often structured creates "very troublesome, problematic incentives that can potentially drive very short-term thinking."

A Reuters analysis of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index found that 255 of those companies reward executives in part by using EPS, while another 28 use other per-share metrics that can be influenced by share buybacks.

In addition, 303 also use total shareholder return, essentially a company's share price appreciation plus dividends, and 169 companies use both EPS and total shareholder return to help determine pay.

STANDARD PRACTICE

EPS and share-price metrics underpin much of the compensation of some of the highest-paid CEOs, including those at Walt Disney Co, Viacom Inc, 21st Century Fox Inc, Target Corp and Cisco Systems Inc.

... ... ...

As reported in the first article in this series, share buybacks by U.S. non-financial companies reached a record $520 billion in the most recent reporting year. A Reuters analysis of 3,300 non-financial companies found that together, buybacks and dividends have surpassed total capital expenditures and are more than double research and development spending.

Companies buy back their shares for various reasons. They do it when they believe their shares are undervalued, or to make use of cash or cheap debt financing when business conditions don't justify capital or R&D spending. They also do it to meet the expectations of increasingly demanding investors.

Lately, the sheer volume of buybacks has prompted complaints among academics, politicians and investors that massive stock repurchases are stifling innovation and hurting U.S. competitiveness - and contributing to widening income inequality by rewarding executives with ever higher pay, often divorced from a company's underlying performance.

"There's been an over-focus on buybacks and raising EPS to hit share option targets, and we know that those are concentrated in the hands of the few, and that the few is in the top 1 percent," said James Montier, a member of the asset allocation team at global investment firm GMO in London, which manages more than $100 billion in assets.

The introduction of performance targets has been a driver of surging executive pay, helping to widen the gap between the richest in America and the rest of the country. Median CEO pay among companies in the S&P 500 increased to a record $10.3 million last year, up from $8.6 million in 2010, according to data firm Equilar.

At those levels, CEOs last year were paid 303 times what workers in their industries earned, compared with a ratio of 59 times in 1989, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit.

SALARY AND A LOT MORE

Today, the bulk of CEO compensation comes from cash and stock awards, much of it tied to performance metrics. Last year, base salary accounted for just 8 percent of CEO pay for S&P 500 companies, while cash and stock incentives made up more than 45 percent, according to proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services.

...In 1992, Congress changed the tax code to curb rising executive pay and encourage performance-based compensation. It didn't work. Instead, the shift is widely blamed for soaring executive pay and a heavier emphasis on short-term results.

Companies started tying performance pay to "short-term metrics, and suddenly all the things we don't want to happen start happening," said Lynn Stout, a professor of corporate and business law at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York. "Despite 20 years of trying, we have still failed to come up with an objective performance metric that can't be gamed."

Shareholder expectations have changed, too. The individuals and other smaller, mostly passive investors who dominated equity markets during the postwar decades have given way to large institutional investors. These institutions tend to want higher returns, sooner, than their predecessors. Consider that the average time investors held a particular share has fallen from around eight years in 1960 to a year and a half now, according to New York Stock Exchange data.

"TOO EASY TO MANIPULATE"

Companies like to use EPS as a performance metric because it is the primary focus of financial analysts when assessing the value of a stock and of investors when evaluating their return on investment.

But "it is not an appropriate target, it's too easy to manipulate," said Almeida, the University of Illinois finance professor.

...By providing a lift to a stock's price, buybacks can increase total shareholder return to target levels, resulting in more stock awards for executives. And of course, the higher stock price lifts the value of company stock they already own.

"It can goose the price at time when the high price means they earn performance shares … even if the stock price later goes back down, they got their shares," said Michael Dorff, a law professor at the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

Exxon Corp, the largest repurchaser of shares over the past decade, has rejected shareholder proposals that it add three-year targets based on shareholder return to its compensation program. In its most recent proxy, the energy company said doing so could increase risk-taking and encourage underinvestment to achieve short-term results.

The energy giant makes half of its annual executive bonus payments contingent on meeting longer-term EPS thresholds. Since 2005, the company has spent more than $200 billion on buybacks.

ADDITIONAL TWEAKS

While performance targets are specific, they aren't necessarily fixed. Corporate boards often adjust them or how they are calculated in ways that lift executive pay.

[Dec 09, 2015] Are Windows and OS X malware

May 26, 2015 | ITworld
Are Windows and OS X malware?

Richard Stallman has never been...er...shy about sharing his opinions, particularly when it comes to software that doesn't adhere to his vision. This time around he has written an opinion column for The Guardian that takes on Microsoft Windows, Apple's OS X and even Amazon's Kindle e-reader.

Richard Stallman on malware for The Guardian:

Malware is the name for a program designed to mistreat its users. Viruses typically are malicious, but software products and software preinstalled in products can also be malicious – and often are, when not free/libre.

Developers today shamelessly mistreat users; when caught, they claim that fine print in EULAs (end user licence agreements) makes it ethical. (That might, at most, make it lawful, which is different.) So many cases of proprietary malware have been reported, that we must consider any proprietary program suspect and dangerous. In the 21st century, proprietary software is computing for suckers.

Windows snoops on users, shackles users and, on mobiles, censors apps; it also has a universal back door that allows Microsoft to remotely impose software changes. Microsoft sabotages Windows users by showing security holes to the NSA before fixing them.

Apple systems are malware too: MacOS snoops and shackles; iOS snoops, shackles, censors apps and has a back door. Even Android contains malware in a nonfree component: a back door for remote forcible installation or deinstallation of any app.

Amazon's Kindle e-reader reports what page of what book is being read, plus all notes and underlining the user enters; it shackles the user against sharing or even freely giving away or lending the book, and has an Orwellian back door for erasing books.

More at The Guardian

As you might imagine, Stallman's commentary drew a lot of responses from readers of The Guardian:

JohnnyHooper: "The Android operating system is basically spyware, mining your personal information, contacts, whereabouts, search activity, media preferences, photos, email, texts, chat, shopping, calls, etc so Google can onsell it to advertisers. Nice one, Google, you creep."

Ece301: "What the free software movement needs is more than just the scare stories about 'capability' - without reliable examples of this stuff causing real-world problems for real people such detail-free articles as this are going to affect nothing.

I'm quite willing to make the sacrifice of google, apple, the NSA etc. knowing exactly where I am if it means my phone can give me directions to my hotel in this strange city. Likewise if I want the capability to erase my phone should I lose it, I understand that that means apple etc. can probably get at that function too.

Limiting_Factor: "Or for people who don't want to mess about with command lines and like to have commercially supported software that works. Which is about 99% of the home computer using population. You lost, Richard. Get over it."

CosmicTrigger: "Selling customers the illusion of security and then leaving a great gaping hole in it for the government to snoop in return for a bit of a tax break is absolutely reprehensible."

Liam01: "This guy is as extreme as the director of the NSA , just at the other end of the spectrum. I'd be more inclined to listen if he showed a hint of nuance, or didn't open with an egoistic claim of "invented free software"."

AlanWatson: "My Kindle doesn't report anything, because I never turn the WiFi on. Just sideload content from wherever I want to buy it (or download if there is no copyright), format conversion is trivial, and for the minor inconvenience of having to use a USB cable I'm free of Amazon's lock-in, snooping and remote wipes. Simple."

Rod: "Here's my crazy prediction: Stallman's diatribes will continue to have zero measurable impact on adoption rates of Free software. Time to try a different approach, Richey."

Quicknstraight: "Not all snooping is bad for you. If it enhances your experience, say, by providing you with a better playlist or recommendations for things you like doing, what's the big deal?

Consumers don't have it every which way. You either accept a degree of data collection in return for a more enjoyable user experience, or accept that no data collection means you'll have to search out everything for yourself.

The average user prefers the easier option and has no interest in having to dig away through loads of crap to find what they want.

They key question should be what happens to data that is mined about users, not whether mining such data is bad per se."

Bob Rich: "As an author, I LIKE the idea that if a person buys a copy of my book, that copy cannot be freely distributed to others. With a paper book, that means that the original owner no longer has access to it. With an electronic book, "giving" or "lending" means duplicating, and that's stealing my work. The same is true for other creators: musicians, artists, photographers."

Mouse: "Stallman's a hero and we wouldn't have the level of (low-cost) technology all we enjoy today without him. I remember reading an article by him years ago and he said that the only laptop he'd use was the Lemote Yeeloong because it was the only system that was 100% open, even down to the BIOS - he was specifically paranoid about how government agencies might modify proprietary code for their own ends - and at the time I thought "Jeez, he's a bit of a paranoid fruitcake", but post-Snowden he's been proven to be right about what the security services get up."

More at The Guardian

[Dec 09, 2015] Declassified CIA Manual Shows How US Uses Bureaucracy to Destabilize Governments

www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Jake Anderson via TheAntiMedia.org,

When most people think of CIA sabotage, they think of coups, assassinations, proxy wars, armed rebel groups, and even false flags - not strategic stupidity and purposeful bureaucratic ineptitude. However, according to a declassified document from 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which later became the CIA, used and trained a curious breed of "citizen-saboteurs" in occupied nations like Norway and France.

The World War II-era document, called Simple Sabotage Field Manual, outlines ways in which operatives can disrupt and demoralize enemy administrators and police forces. The first section of the document, which can be read in its entirety here, addresses "Organizations and Conferences" - and how to turn them into a "dysfunctional mess":

  • Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  • Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.
  • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committee as large as possible - never less than five.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  • Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

On its official webpage, the CIA boasts about finding innovative ways to bring about sabotage, calling their tactics for destabilization "surprisingly relevant." While they admit that some of the ideas may seem a bit outdated, they claim that "Together they are a reminder of how easily productivity and order can be undermined."

In a second section targeted at manager-saboteurs, the guide lists the following tactical moves:

  • In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers.
  • Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw.
  • To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions.
  • Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
  • Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, paychecks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.

Finally, the guide presents protocol for how saboteur-employees can disrupt enemy operations, too:

  • Work slowly.
  • Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can.
  • Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.
  • Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

The CIA is proud of its Kafkaesque field manual and evidently still views it as an unorthodox but effective form of destabilizing enemy operations around the world. Of course, so too might an anarchist or revolutionary look at such tactics and view them in the context of disrupting certain domestic power structures, many of which are already built like a bureaucratic house of cards.

It seems if any country should refrain from showcasing how easy it is to disrupt inefficient federal agencies, however, it would be the United States.

[Dec 08, 2015] The importance of the global financial cycle in creating boom and bust cycles in emerging markets

economistsview.typepad.com

Syaloch -> sanjait..., December 08, 2015 at 08:31 AM

Meta-criticism of reports in this case is neither here nor there, since it's possible to track down the original sources.

The Times summary of Ms. Rey's Jackson Hole paper is accurate; in it she does discuss the importance of the global financial cycle in creating boom and bust cycles in emerging markets. (This isn't news to anyone who's followed Krugman's writings on global financial crises over the years.)

http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2013/2013Rey.pdf

When Yellen announced that the Fed would not raise rates in September, she did cite "heightened uncertainties abroad" as a factor. While I cannot find her mentioning China specifically, a lot of the discussion in financial sources prior to the announcement cite the Chinese devaluation as an important factor leading to Yellen's decision.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/business/economy/fed-leaves-interest-rates-unchanged.html

As for economists warning that a rate increase combined with uncertain exchange rates in China and other countries would weaken global growth, that was most likely a reference to the IMF's World Economic Outlook report, which does indeed make this argument.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2015/RES100615A.htm

[Dec 08, 2015] France's cowardly elite is to blame for the rise of Marine Le Pen

That looks like a French backlash against neoliberal globalization, Against the society that cares only about top 1%.
Notable quotes:
"... Contrary to what we are told by the transnational business-political-media elite, there is nothing inevitable about ever-increasing 'globalisation'. It is simply a race to the bottom for ever-cheaper labour and erasure of sovereign national obstructions to corporate profit. ..."
"... the impact of the third globalisation wave on any given country is the result of very deliberate political choices (many of which were taken by French governments rather later than their neighbours), not of some sort of inevitable natural fact. You do not, for instance, have to espouse unmitigated cross-border capital transfers. ..."
"... the sooner the European Left admits that it was right in the 70s, when it correctly identified the EEC as an anti-worker construct, the better. Unless you fancy having a smattering of far right governments all over the EZ, that is. ..."
"... France has terrible foreign policy. They completely destroyed Libya. France is responsible for the rise of far-right. ..."
"... The elites disregard for anyones opinion apart from their own is largely the cause of the rise of the Front National. It is difficult to see how allowing millions of immigrants to settle in Europe can end well in the short to long term. ..."
"... Not a bad article, this. Still, I wish this newspapers writers would stop defining democracy as that with which I agree . The FN is a Democratic Party. Deal with it. ..."
"... If mainstream liberal and conservative parties will not listen to the citizenrys very real and very legitimate concerns about immigration and Islam, that citizenry will hold their collective nose and vote for right wing populists who will. ..."
"... What we saw in France is being repeated in Sweden, the Netherlands and much of Eastern Europe. It is fueling Donald Trumps presidential run and Nigel Faranges parliamentary ambitions. ..."
"... For the older generation in particular, Britain has changed out of all recognition in hte last 50 years. Although change can be a good thing, it can also be extremely unsettling. ..."
"... Democracy in action. Unlike the UK whereby the politicians execute policy that they either lied about during the election, or they simply changed their mind in contempt of the electorate safe in the knowledge that the electorate will have to wait years to kick them out again. ..."
"... Agreed, any grand coalition of the French ruling elite created as a blocker will only prove to many of the French people that there is very little real difference between the established parties; possibly driving those who do want real change towards the FN. ..."
"... Globalisation depends on no borders - Factories and production have moved to avail of cheaper production. Shareholders and investment funds have benefited. Many, many citizens of sovereign nations have not. Now some European politicians and institutions have determined that immigration and multiculturalism is the new agenda anyway. There is to be no consultation by the political elite or the media with the people of the sovereign nations of Europe - It is to be forced on people whether they like it or not. ..."
"... The rise of Front National is happening for the same reason the rise of the far right (or just plain right wing) parties is happening all over Europe: Moderate parties on both sides of the political spectrum refuse to have anything even resembling a discussion on the negative side of immigration or multiculturalism. It's really as simple as that. The far right has been handed a complete monopoly on an issue which is becoming an increasingly hot topic. They have an open goal. ..."
www.theguardian.com
umbofreddy smarty78, 7 Dec 2015 22:01

Nougarayde was a journalist at the" Monde"; you know, this "french elite newspaper", who hate the front national and despise its supporters!

viscount_jellicoe, 7 Dec 2015 21:39

Contrary to what we are told by the transnational business-political-media elite, there is nothing inevitable about ever-increasing 'globalisation'. It is simply a race to the bottom for ever-cheaper labour and erasure of sovereign national obstructions to corporate profit.

Daniele Gatti, 7 Dec 2015 21:46

Your economic history is missing a few very important details, namely:

1) the impact of the third globalisation wave on any given country is the result of very deliberate political choices (many of which were taken by French governments rather later than their neighbours), not of some sort of inevitable natural fact. You do not, for instance, have to espouse unmitigated cross-border capital transfers.

2) there is no mention at all of the failed European monetary experiments, namely the ERM and the euro. The first was de facto dismantled in 1993 (by setting ridiculous oscillation bands) to avoid a French Black Wednesday after it had destroyed competitiveness pretty much everywhere apart from Germany and the Deutschemark area, the second is doing pretty much the same, only it was slower to compromise France than other countries because its economy is stronger than others.

The fact remains that while relatively high public spending, in violation of the Maastricht parameters, directly translates into higher inflation than Germany, which leads to loss of competitiveness, which leads to a CA deficit.

Sorry, but the French school system has absolutely nothing to do with all of the above, and the sooner the European Left admits that it was right in the 70s, when it correctly identified the EEC as an anti-worker construct, the better. Unless you fancy having a smattering of far right governments all over the EZ, that is.

Andu68, 7 Dec 2015 21:49

Why exactly is the FN far right? The only controversial position they have is their belief there is an urgent need to restrict immigration, yet this is a position held by the majority of European's public opinion, though not by mainstream politicians and certainly not by members of the left intellectual elite like Miss Nougareyde.

LouSmorels, 7 Dec 2015 21:49

If I were French, I would vote FN! Why should the French give up their country to become something else. Not everyone wants to end up like Sweden...

finnrkn -> LouSmorels, 7 Dec 2015 22:22

Not even Sweden wants to end up like Sweden nowadays.

ClaudeNAORobot,

Perhaps the rise of the FN reflects its offering to the electorate something that they want. It's something you don't want, so, rather in the spirit of the EU's rejection of result of a referendum that gives the 'wrong' result, you seek some excuse for that that you perceive to be the ill judgement of a portion of the electorate. Democracy can be irritating, can't it?

euphoniumbrioche, 7 Dec 2015 20:46

France's cowardly elite is to blame for the rise of Marine Le Pen

France has terrible foreign policy. They completely destroyed Libya. France is responsible for the rise of far-right.

allom8 -> euphoniumbrioche, 7 Dec 2015 20:55

An inadequate explanation given the far right's continued rise all over Europe. The elephant in the room gets bigger with every passing day.

GodzillaJones, 7 Dec 2015 20:48

It's a reflection of politics in the West at the moment. When voters are not represented by their politicians, they look for something else, even if it's a bit unsavoury.

ID9969553, 7 Dec 2015 20:48

The elite's disregard for anyone's opinion apart from their own is largely the cause of the rise of the Front National. It is difficult to see how allowing millions of immigrants to settle in Europe can end well in the short to long term.

WagerObe -> gunforhire, 7 Dec 2015 22:01

Interestingly though, LR did not get the voting shares lost by the PS. They went to the FN. This is not a vote. against socialism, indeed on economic questions the FN is closer to the communists than classic right-wing parties.

This is a vote against the main stream parties, and frankly it is not surprising. A succession of UMP - PS governments have changed nothing. Remains to be seen if FN can confirm the try next Sunday. If they win PACA

finnrkn, 7 Dec 2015 20:49

Not a bad article, this. Still, I wish this newspaper's writers would stop defining democracy as "that with which I agree". The FN is a Democratic Party. Deal with it.

ID7475021 -> finnrkn, 7 Dec 2015 20:57

The Nazi party in Germany used democracy to help itself climb to power... one of the problems democracy has not managed to address is how to deal with parties who use that democracy with the ultimate aim of destroying it.

finnrkn -> ID7475021, 7 Dec 2015 21:04

True enough; communist parties also subverted democracy in Eastern Europe. Beyond nationalism, though, I can't see there's much of a comparison to be made between the FN and the Nazis.

elliot2511, 7 Dec 2015 20:49

If mainstream liberal and conservative parties will not listen to the citizenry's very real and very legitimate concerns about immigration and Islam, that citizenry will hold their collective nose and vote for right wing populists who will.

What we saw in France is being repeated in Sweden, the Netherlands and much of Eastern Europe. It is fueling Donald Trumps presidential run and Nigel Faranges parliamentary ambitions.

ltm123 elliot2511, 7 Dec 2015 21:09

Unfortunate those very real concerns about immigration are not very legitimate. You only have to do a small amount of research to realise that immigration isn't to blame for most of the things the main stream media would have you believe.

huzar30 ltm123, 7 Dec 2015 21:14

That really isn't the point. For the older generation in particular, Britain has changed out of all recognition in hte last 50 years. Although change can be a good thing, it can also be extremely unsettling.

elliot2511 -> ltm123, 7 Dec 2015 21:23

"You only have to do a small amount of research to realise that immigration isn't to blame for most of the things "
You may be right...but people do not want mass immigration, and more particularly, do not want mass immigration from Islamic countries. That might be fair or unfair, justified or unjustified, but surely the greater population should have some say in what their country looks like.

Laurence Johnson, 7 Dec 2015 20:50

Democracy in action. Unlike the UK whereby the politicians execute policy that they either lied about during the election, or they simply changed their mind in contempt of the electorate safe in the knowledge that the electorate will have to wait years to kick them out again.

Dave Beardsly -> Laurence Johnson, 7 Dec 2015 21:13

Democracy in action. Unlike the UK

Is it a better democracy? Or is it something to do with a more impartial, fairer, press? Because however bad our democracy is or isn't, we know for sure our press can make and break anyone it chooses.

Sachaflashman, 7 Dec 2015 20:51

"But the fact that such a question can now legitimately be raised is in itself a trauma for all those who care about democracy."

In plain English: a democratic party that has managed to purge its past, re-defined itself and convinced 6 million citizens to vote for it....is nothing more than a trauma. If anything, the democratic trauma is a system whereby party A. can win the most votes only to be knocked out in round two by party B. dropping out and lending its votes to party C.

This is a recipe for allowing bland, elitist politicians to stay in power forever.

Mark Steven -> Conway Sachaflashman, 7 Dec 2015 22:22

Agreed, any grand coalition of the French ruling elite created as a blocker will only prove to many of the French people that there is very little real difference between the established parties; possibly driving those who do want real change towards the FN.

Magicmoonbeam2, 7 Dec 2015 20:53

The so called elite have become accustomed to ruling independently of their electorates because for years their electorates had nowhere else to go. Now that their electorates have somewhere else to go, the brown squishy stuff is hitting the fan.


Quiller -> Dave Beardsly, 7 Dec 2015 21:29

Globalisation depends on no borders - Factories and production have moved to avail of cheaper production. Shareholders and investment funds have benefited. Many, many citizens of sovereign nations have not. Now some European politicians and institutions have determined that immigration and multiculturalism is the new agenda anyway. There is to be no consultation by the political elite or the media with the people of the sovereign nations of Europe - It is to be forced on people whether they like it or not.

Any nation, people or politician who questions the new ideology is categorised as backward and reactionary. Secret meeting are held to push the issues forward. People of the sovereign nations of Europe have not signed up to the Federal Europe - France and other nations rejected the European Constitution. Nonetheless the ideologues press the issues forward onto the people.

The latest revolt has been over the issue is immigration by Germany and Sweden - their initial action was - "we can do it !". When it dawned on them that they could not, they have tried to bully their way through the other sovereign nations via government structures, the European Union and the UN.

Following the atrocities in France, Beirut, Ankara, Nigeria, Syria - the people are deciding they do not want to be a part of the change to the multicultural environment. Why would they when they perceive the change to be a retrograde step. If the current political party that one has voted for does not serve one's interests or they appear to be a political party with no clothes, then it is time to move on to a different political representative party. Of course - the smear continues against political parties that do not have the ideologues view.

allom8, 7 Dec 2015 20:57

The rise of Front National is happening for the same reason the rise of the far right (or just plain right wing) parties is happening all over Europe: Moderate parties on both sides of the political spectrum refuse to have anything even resembling a discussion on the negative side of immigration or multiculturalism. It's really as simple as that.

The far right has been handed a complete monopoly on an issue which is becoming an increasingly hot topic. They have an open goal.

Koolio, 7 Dec 2015 21:03

"none of the mainstream parties have been able to address the many social and economic ailments"

They've never tried. French politicians promise bold visions of the past as they keep trying to reheat and perpetuate policies that generate the record unemployment and entrenched structural inequalities while hoping if they say "républicain" ten times a day nobody will question their consistent failure.

Even the politicians are stale, for example the Républicains are fighting over whether to back proven failure Sarkozy or convicted criminal Juppé (albeit gifted a crony-style presidential pardon by his ex-boss Chirac). Given choices like this no wonder millions of voters dissatisfied by Hollande and Valls skip to the FN.

bally38, 7 Dec 2015 21:08

Marine Le Pen has no solution for France's problems, her economic programme is all about retreating from the outside world and Europe.

My understanding of the FN economic policy. Withdraw from the Euro. Close the borders. Put up a high tariff wall around france. (Which would mean de facto withdrawal from the Single Market).

Quite how they think jobs are created in a global economy I really don't know. In some ways it would be great if they did win. Currently the eurosceptics can act all cosy with each other. Whereas in fact, their policies would amount to a mutual trade war.

MrBojangles007, 7 Dec 2015 21:08

Political dogma from the EU federalists and the invite from Merkel to all the worlds refugees is naive in the extreme. The people still love their country and most do not want a country called Europe.

Too much too soon, we do not even speak the same language around 28 countries, until we do - a country called Europe is for the birds. The Euro has not worked, open borders have not worked, the EU is in an utter mess.

FN - will always make progress when chaos reigns.

PrinceEdward, 7 Dec 2015 21:29

"The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy ... and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous." -- Captain Jean-Luc Picard, USS Enterprise

flowerssoft, 7 Dec 2015 21:32

France's cowardly elite are responsible because they have refused to tackle issues which negatively affect the white working class in France.

PrinceEdward, 7 Dec 2015 21:35

People across the West are still scratching their heads as to why, given the large numbers of un and under employed young people, we need mass immigration, even in the face of austerity.

The only answer I ever here is: If you're not for it, you're a xenophobe. Regardless of the sharp cuts to social programmes and the lack of housing throughout Europe. And if a European Country genuinely needs unskilled workers, there are plenty of Eastern and Southern Europeans who would be happy to bridge the gap.

haunsk PrinceEdward, 7 Dec 2015 21:54

There you have it in a nutshell. We are being spun,we are being played.

smarty78, 7 Dec 2015 21:37

'France's cowardly elite...'

Natalie, it's rare I agree with you, so I'll focus on our consensus with the headline.

That the other parties are now looking to form a block against FN demonstrates quite perfectly the arrogance of the French political elite and their utter contempt for democracy.
I dearly wish FN the very best of luck - at least they attend to the legitimate grievances of a significant proportion of people.
Fascist, Nazi, extremist blahblah... Bring it on and watch this space.

André Pampel, 7 Dec 2015 21:51

Ironic being that as far as economics goes extreme left and right speak almost from the same page....Mainly protectionism. What Nougayréde conviently does not say is how many people from the extreme left have gone over to the fn and that their vote is extremely high in the 18-34 age group, and the well educated in that group too. And herself was and is still part of the "establishment" so ironic criticising her chums like that....

Anneke Ruben, 7 Dec 2015 21:52

If people feel threatened, they tend to be more conservative. And frankly, I don't see a reason why France or the rest of Europe shouldn't feel threatened.. Mass unemployment, the Euro zone mess, thousands of migrants that pose as "refugees", migrants that mostly follow an unreformed religion, the mass shootings in Paris... So... Why is the left blaming the "elite" and not the ones responsible for creating this mess?

[Dec 07, 2015] The key prerequisite of casino capitalism is corruption of regulators

Economist's View

likbez said...

When capital became unable of reaping large and fairly secure profits from manufacturing it like water tries to find other ways. It starts with semi-criminalizing finance -- that's the origin of the term "casino capitalism" (aka neoliberalism). I see casino capitalism as a set of semi-criminal ways of maintaining the rate of profits.

The key prerequisite here is corruption of regulators. So laws on the book does not matter much if regulators do not enforce them.

As Joseph Schumpeter noted, capitalism is not a steady-state system. It is unstable system in which population constantly experience and then try to overcome one crisis after another. Joseph Schumpeter naively assumed that the net result is reimaging itself via so called "creative destruction". But what we observe now it "uncreative destruction". In other words casino capitalism is devouring the host, the US society.

So all those Hillary statements are for plebs consumption only (another attempt to play "change we can believe in" trick). Just a hot air designed to get elected. Both Clintons are in the pocket of financial oligarchy and will never be able to get out of it alive.

GeorgeK said...

I believe I'm the only one on this blog that has actually traded bonds, done swaps and hedged bank portfolios with futures contracts. Sooo I kinda know something about this topic.

Hilary is a fraud; her daughter worked at a Hedge fund where she met her husband Marc Mezvinsky, who is now a money manager at the Eaglevale fund. Oddly many of the Eaglevale investors are investors in the Clinton Foundation and have also given money to Hilary's campaign. The Clinton Foundation gets boat loads of money from Hedge funds and will not raise taxes on such a rich source of funding.

The grooms mother is Marjory Margolies (ex)Mezvinsky, she cast the final vote giving Clinton the winning vote to raise taxes. She subsequently lost her run for reelection to congress, then her husband was convicted of fraud and they divorced.

This speech is an attempt to pry people away from Bernie, it won't work with primary voters but might with what's left of rational Republicans in the general election.

[Dec 07, 2015] Hillary Clinton How I'd Rein In Wall Street

Economist's View

likbez said...

When capital became unable of reaping large and fairly secure profits from manufacturing it like water tries to find other ways. It starts with semi-criminalizing finance -- that's the origin of the term "casino capitalism" (aka neoliberalism). I see casino capitalism as a set of semi-criminal ways of maintaining the rate of profits.

The key prerequisite here is corruption of regulators. So laws on the book does not matter much if regulators do not enforce them.

As Joseph Schumpeter noted, capitalism is not a steady-state system. It is unstable system in which population constantly experience and then try to overcome one crisis after another. Joseph Schumpeter naively assumed that the net result is reimaging itself via so called "creative destruction". But what we observe now it "uncreative destruction". In other words casino capitalism is devouring the host, the US society.

So all those Hillary statements are for plebs consumption only (another attempt to play "change we can believe in" trick). Just a hot air designed to get elected. Both Clintons are in the pocket of financial oligarchy and will never be able to get out of it alive.

GeorgeK said...

I believe I'm the only one on this blog that has actually traded bonds, done swaps and hedged bank portfolios with futures contracts. Sooo I kinda know something about this topic.

Hilary is a fraud; her daughter worked at a Hedge fund where she met her husband Marc Mezvinsky, who is now a money manager at the Eaglevale fund. Oddly many of the Eaglevale investors are investors in the Clinton Foundation and have also given money to Hilary's campaign. The Clinton Foundation gets boat loads of money from Hedge funds and will not raise taxes on such a rich source of funding.

The grooms mother is Marjory Margolies (ex)Mezvinsky, she cast the final vote giving Clinton the winning vote to raise taxes. She subsequently lost her run for reelection to congress, then her husband was convicted of fraud and they divorced.

This speech is an attempt to pry people away from Bernie, it won't work with primary voters but might with what's left of rational Republicans in the general election.

[Dec 07, 2015] Did Erdogan Commit Political Suicide Shahir ShahidSaless

www.huffingtonpost.com
Erdogan, desperate and angry over his losing battle to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, ordered the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet. Erdogan has been actively pursuing the ouster of Assad since 2012, but Russia's recent intervention in Syria, in alliance with Iran and its highly ideologically and politically motivated proxies, has resulted in a serious setback for Erdogan's plans.

Putin's determination to destroy Turkey's proxies at the Syrian borders and to thwart Erdogan's plan to create a no-fly/buffer zone in the area has derailed Erdogan's plans for Syria. Erdogan hoped to use the buffer zone as an operational hub aimed at bringing down President Assad.

Russian attacks on Turkmen-dominated areas in Bayirbucak, where the Russian plane was downed, would also inflict serious collateral damage to Turkey. The Turkish government regards the area in north-west Syria, presently under the control of the Bayirbucak Turkmens, as an important buffer zone preventing the territorial expansion of Syria's Kurdish-minority militias, whom it regards as terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Erdogan's objective in shooting down the plane was to provoke Russia into a harsh response. He hoped the response would bring Russia into conflict with the whole of NATO, which would help reverse Turkey's declining fortunes in the Syrian war.

Erdogan's calculations went terribly wrong. Following the incident, Turkey requested an emergency meeting with NATO members. Contrary to Erdogan's expectations, although, members did not support Russia, neither did they wholeheartedly support Turkey. Many members questioned Turkey's action and, according to Reuters, "expressed concern that Turkey did not escort the Russian warplane out of its airspace." In a clear indication of the suspicion among NATO members regarding Turkey's real intention behind its adventurism, some diplomats told Reuters, "There are other ways of dealing with these kinds of incidents."

Not only didn't Cold War II happen, French President Francois Hollande, who promised "merciless" revenge in the aftermath of Paris attacks, met with Putin and they agreed to form an alliance against Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. The outcome of such an alliance is that the "Assad must go" mantra will be overshadowed by the war against Daesh--something that Erdogan hated to occur. Erdogan's plan to bring the West and Russia into conflict became even more unattainable when France's move was followed by Britain and then Germany.

Turkey also lost significant room to maneuver in the post-shootdown of the Russian fighter jet. Russia, by deploying the powerful S-400 surface-to-air missile system in Hmeymim airbase near Latakia, sent a strong signal to Turkey--a de facto no-fly zone already in effect south of the Turkish-Syrian border.

Russia also sent Turkey and NATO a clear message by arming its fighter jets with air-to-air missiles. On November 30, the Russian Air Force announced that "today, for the first time ‪Su34‬ fighter-bombers departed for combat sorties with air-to-air short- and medium-range missiles.... The usage of such weaponry is necessary for providing security of the aircraft of the Russian" air force, the announcement read. ‬‬‬

Moscow also authorized numerous economic sanctions against Ankara ranging from tourism to agricultural products as well as sanctions on energy and construction projects.

Erdogan took a conciliatory stance after the incident. In a speech in Ankara, he said, "We are strategic partners ... 'Joint projects may be halted, ties could be cut'? Are such approaches fitting for politicians?" Erdogan even requested a meeting with Putin while both leaders were in Paris for the COP21 climate change conference on November 30, but Putin rejected the request.

Russians launched a heavy campaign to damage Erdogan's credibility and reputation. Vladimir Putin and numerous other Russian politicians leveled accusations regarding Turkey's sponsorship and cooperation with ISIS as well as allegations of buying oil smuggled by ISIS.

On November 30, on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris, Putin stated, "At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale." He even went further to say, "We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil's delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers."

In response, Erdogan said he will resign as the country's president if Russia provides evidence that implicates Turkey in any oil trade with ISIS.

Later, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said, "We have repeatedly publicly stated that oil from the IS-controlled territories is transported abroad, particularly to Turkey. The facts that substantiate these claims will be formally presented in the UN in particular, and to all parties concerned."

Then on December 2, the Russian Defense Ministry held a briefing concerning ISIS funding. During the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, satellite images, and videos, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said, "According to our data, the top political leadership of the country - President Erdogan and his family - is involved in this criminal business."

Antonov added, "In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president's son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son-in-law has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business."

On December 3, without mentioning specifics, Putin declared there was more evidence to come. "We are not planning to engage in military saber-rattling," he said. "But if anyone thinks that having committed this awful war crime ... are going to get away with some measures concerning their tomatoes or some limits on construction and other sectors, they are sorely mistaken."

At this point, it is apparent that Putin's ultimate objective is to take advantage of the opportunity presented to him to severely damage Erdogan's name and trustworthiness, both domestically and internationally, or, even better, bring him and his regime down as a perceived power behind the extremists and the anti-Assad forces in Syria. This is in line with Russia's plan for realizing its strategic objectives in Syria.

[Dec 06, 2015] With allies like Turkey, who needs enemies

Notable quotes:
"... Turkey and the U.S. State Department scoffed when Russia accused the Turkish government of being involved with smuggling ISIS oil. However, after Moscow presented convincing proof of Turkey's involvement, the Obama Administration changed its story. ..."
"... "If the American colleagues are not satisfied with those ones, they should watch videos gained by their own UAVs," the Russian Defense Ministry said on Facebook. ..."
"... The ever-changing political spin in Washington to avoid admitting the obvious looks increasingly dishonest. ..."
"... The deal regarding the base was signed between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, during the latter's visit to northern Iraq on Nov. 4. ..."
www.dailykos.com

Turkey has sent 2,000 troops into Iraq without getting permission from Baghdad.

The Iraqi government has demanded they withdraw, calling it a "hostile act", but Ankara has decided to ignore Baghdad's wishes.

This is only the latest act that undermines the wisdom of having Turkey as a military ally.

Turkey and the U.S. State Department scoffed when Russia accused the Turkish government of being involved with smuggling ISIS oil. However, after Moscow presented convincing proof of Turkey's involvement, the Obama Administration changed its story.

While the US has long hyped the problem of ISIS oil smuggling, the recent Russian Defense Ministry presentation, showing significant evidence of Turkey being involved in buying ISIS oil and taking it to refineries run by the Turkish government, has changed their tune.
After a previous denial of the allegation against Turkey, the US is now admitting that the oil is ending up smuggled into Turkey, but insists it is "of no significance" because so much of the oil produced in ISIS-controlled parts of Syria is consumed inside Syria.
"The amount of oil being smuggled is extremely low and has decreased over time," claimed US special envoy Amos Hochstein, a stunning admission which suggests the US was well aware of oil smuggling into Turkey even before the Russian evidence.

Just in case we don't want to believe the Russian videos, Moscow has a solution.

"If the American colleagues are not satisfied with those ones, they should watch videos gained by their own UAVs," the Russian Defense Ministry said on Facebook.

The ever-changing political spin in Washington to avoid admitting the obvious looks increasingly dishonest.

With the U.S. government knowing about Turkey's government involvement (Russia's photos show ISIS oil smuggling trucks passing through border crossings without stopping), it begs the question of what our objectives actually are?

gjohnsit

Erdogan Moves To Annex Mosul

Should Mosul be cleared of the Islamic State the Turkish heavy weapons will make it possible for Turkey to claim the city unless the Iraqi government will use all its power to fight that claim. Should the city stay in the hands of the Islamic State Turkey will make a deal with it and act as its protector. It will benefit from the oil around Mosul which will be transferred through north Iraq to Turkey and from there sold on the world markets. In short: This is an effort to seize Iraq's northern oil fields.

That is the plan but it is a risky one. Turkey did not ask for permission to invade Iraq and did not inform the Iraqi government.

The Turks claim that they were invited by the Kurds:

Turkey will have a permanent military base in the Bashiqa region of Mosul as the Turkish forces in the region training the Peshmerga forces have been reinforced, Hürriyet reported.

The deal regarding the base was signed between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, during the latter's visit to northern Iraq on Nov. 4.

There are two problems with this. First: Massoud Barzani is no longer president of the KRG. His mandate ran out and the parliament refused to prolong it. Second: Mosul and its Bashiqa area are not part of the KRG. Barzani making a deal about it is like him making a deal about Paris.

mookins

Al-masdar news-feed-thing had guncam footage of a night attack, by frogfoots with their cannons, on an ISIS truck park. Magnified view at first so you could see they were full-sized like semi's; and no casual agglomeration, these were parked efficiently in a herringbone pattern, at least 400 and I think closer to a thousand. At the film's end the whole thing is just large, neat rectangles of brightness.

So little did ISIS have to fear from an American-coalition airstrike that they had it set up like this. And now these White House statements that it was no big deal.

And Europe sees all this on the news, the ISIS we didn't fight, the flood of refugees that resulted, and sees Russia and Iran being the good guys.

I read where Putin was worried, called Merkel and Hollande to see if they were still on board with 'Minsk 2', the current ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, and they said yes they were. He was worried because Ukraine's President had said he rejected it and the U.S. had said we support that, we reject it too.

We've lost Europe. World getting better fast.

MrWebster, Dec 06 · 04:28:32 PM

Your observations are right on, but only if you assume that thee enemy is IS and Al Queda in Syria. At this point, I don't believe it is. Assad/Russians are perceived as the bigger and more important enemy for the Obama administration and the neocons to focus on. In this case, what Turkey is doing is acceptable-they are enabling opposition forces to Assad/Russians. Heck, when the Russians started bombing, the Al Nusrat Front (Al Queda in Syria) was magically transformed by the administration and the mass media into "rebels", "moderate rebels", "insurgents", "opposition".

native -> MrWebster

I wonder who gets to claim Mosel, after all the dust settles? Abadi seems to have lost all control over his nominal countrymen in the north. But will the Iraqi Kurds side with Turkey, and against their brethren just across the border?

[Dec 06, 2015] US elite strategy toward Russia is replica of UK strategy a century before

Notable quotes:
"... The relationship between Russia and Western Europe's far right may be a marriage of convenience... ..."
"... Closer ties with rising political parties in the EU will give Putin more leverage against NATO. For its part, the European right sees the Russian leader as a staunch defender of national sovereignty and conservative values who has challenged US influence ..."
russia-insider.com

merchantsofmenace

The relationship between Russia and Western Europe's far right may be a marriage of convenience...

Closer ties with rising political parties in the EU will give Putin more leverage against NATO. For its part, the European right sees the Russian leader as a staunch defender of national sovereignty and conservative values who has challenged US influence...

https://medium.com/the-eastern-project/greece-s-nazi-problem-continues-5b92ca57dc6d#.kfiaixvdm 1

YoringeTBE -> merchantsofmenace
russia-insider.com

Stratfor Chairman Straight-Talking: US Policy Is Driven by Imperative to Stop Coalition between Germany and Russia

George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor, or what is called by many "private/shadow CIA" for its well known connections and close cooperation with the CIA, gave a very interesting speech to the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs on subject Europe: Destined for Conflict? in February of this year.

[Dec 06, 2015] More Planes Than Targets Why the Air War on ISIS Will Fail

www.counterpunch.org
Even if Britain's role is symbolic at this stage, it has joined a very real war against an enemy of great ferocity and experience, not least of air attacks. The highly informed Turkish military analystMetin Gurcan, writing on Al-Monitor website, says that air strikes may have been effective against Isis communications and training facilities, but adds that "it is extraordinary that there is not a single [Isis] control facility that has been hit by allied air strikes".

This is not for lack of trying and shows that talk of destroying Isis command and control centres in Raqqa is wishful thinking, given that 2,934 American air strikes in Syria have failed to do so over the last 14 months.

Air strikes have had an impact on Isis's tactics and casualty rate, above all when they are used in close co-operation with a well-organised ground force like the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Isis may have lost as many as 2,200 fighters at Kobani which is a small and closely packed city. On the other hand, the length of time it took to drive Isis out of it with 700 air strikes demonstrated their fighters' willingness to die.

Many Isis commanders reportedly regard their tactics at Kobani as a mistake which cost the group too many casualties and which it should not repeat. To do so it sacrificed two of its most important military assets which are mobility and surprise. This does not mean that it will not fight to the last bullet for cities like Raqqa and Mosul, but it did not do so for Tikrit and Sinjar where it used snipers, booby traps and IEDs, but did not commit large detachments of troops.

Isis has modified its tactics to take account of the continuing risk of air strikes. It now has a decentralised command structure, with tactical decisions being taken by leaders of small units of eight to 10 men, whose overall mission is determined from the centre – but not how it should be accomplished. This limits the ability of its opponents to monitor its communications.

Its forces assemble swiftly and attack soon afterwards with multiple diversionary operations, as was seen when Mosul was captured in June 2014 and again when they took Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, this May.

They had been fighting their way into Baiji refinery, but this turned out to be a diversion and Isis units pulled back from there as soon as Ramadi fell.

Isis's approach is to use a mixture of conventional, guerrilla and terrorist tactics, none unique in themselves, but they have never been used before in combination. Air strikes mean that it is less able to use captured tanks or big concentrations of vehicles packed with fighters. Instead it uses IEDs, booby traps, snipers and mortar teams in even greater numbers.

Public martyrdom as an expression of religious faith is such a central part of its ideology that it can deploy suicide bombers on foot or in vehicles in great numbers to destroy fortifications and demoralize the enemy. Some 28 suicide bombers were reportedly used in the final stages of the battle for Ramadi. Psychological warfare has always been an important element of Isis's tactical armory. It has sought to terrify opposition forces by showing videos in which captured Iraqi or Syrian soldiers are filmed being ritually decapitated or shot in the head.

Sometimes, the families of Syrian soldiers get a phone call from their son's mobile with a picture of his body with his severed head on his chest. Mass killings of prisoners have taken place after all Isis's victories (the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, does the same thing).

Heavy air attack will increase Isis's losses and it will be more difficult to bring in foreign volunteers through Turkey because most of the border is now closed. But Isis rules an area with a population of at least six million and conscripts all young men, who often want to become fighters because there is no other employment. Isis may have a fighting force of 100,000 men, as is strongly suggested by the very long front lines it holds and its ability to make multiple attacks simultaneously. Whatever Britain's role, we will be fighting a formidable military machine.

[Dec 06, 2015] CIA personnel and assets had the strongest motives to murder Kennedy

www.nakedcapitalism.com
Vatch

JKF? I didn't know that the historian John King Fairbank was assassinated.

roadrider

Then I guess you have solid evidence to account for the actions of Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips, William Harvey, David Morales, E. Howard Hunt, Richard Helms, James Angleton and other CIA personnel and assets who had

1) perhaps the strongest motives to murder Kennedy

2) the means to carry out the crime, namely, their executive action (assassination) capability and blackmail the government into aiding their cover up and

3) the opportunity to carry out such a plan given their complete lack of accountability to the rest of the government and their unmatched expertise in lying, deceit, secrecy, fraud.

Because if you actually took the time to research or at least read about their actions in this matter instead of just spouting bald assertions that you decline to back up with any facts you would find their behavior nearly impossible to explain other than having at, the very least, guilty knowledge of the crime.

skk

Ruby claimed he was injected with cancer in jail, which ultimately rendered his second trial (after winning appeal overturning his death sentence) moot. It sounded crazy, but so did the motive proffered at his first trial-- that he wanted to save Mrs. Kennedy the anguish...

that is such an amazing story.. i've yet to watch the video of Lyndon Johnson's swearing in - where Marr states he's seen to be winking and smiling etc -

Jim Marrs - Kennedy Assassination Lecture

those who wish - Pick it up at around 12 minutes. actually in that lecture he may well be showing videos of it - I wdn't know cos just listen to the audio.

skk

JFK is the one 'safe' conspiracy to talk about without getting the extreme whacko label.

fascinating "lectures" - British Humanist Society and all - still you gotta listen to everything especially the other side:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/V6s_Jw3RU9g?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&list=PL44BEE83ED9D841A8

Make a note of the names - rising stars in the I'm "left" but I'm not a conspiracist gaggle - ist a standard gaggle - Chomsky, Monbiot are in it ( to win it of course - their fabled "socialist" kingdom" ) - yeah yeah its BritLand so yeah why I care I suppose.

[Dec 06, 2015] The USA is number one small arms manufacturer in the world

peakoilbarrel.com
Glenn Stehle, 12/05/2015 at 2:54 pm
Ves,

There was an article in one of the Mexico City dailies today, written in response to the shootings in San Bernardino, that cited some numbers that were news to me:

1) The United States is the #1 small arms manufacturer in the world

2) 83% of small arms manufactured in the world are manufactured in the United States

3) The US's closest competitor is Russia, which manufactures 11% of the world's small arms

4) Small arms are the US's third largest export product, surpassed only by aircraft and agricultural products

5) The US market itself consumes 15 million small arms per year, and there are 300 million small arms currently in the posession of US private citizens

6) Saudi Arabia, however, is by far and away the largest small arms consumer in the world, and purchases 33.1% of all small arms produced in the world

7) Saudi Arabia then re-distributes these small arms to its allies in Syria, Lybia, etc.

8) So far in 2015, there have been 351 "mass shootings" in the United States in which 447 persons have been killed and another 290 wounded

9) The world's leading human rights organizations never speak of the bloodbath ocurring around the world due to the proliferation of small arms, much less the United Nations Security Council.

10) Both the United States and Russia seem quite content to keep any talk of small arms proliferation off the agenda.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/12/05/opinion/023a1pol

[Dec 05, 2015] Income inequality happens by design. We cant fix it by tweaking capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Stocks have always been a legal form of gambling . What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market. ..."
"... The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpas pension fund go? ..."
"... Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership. ..."
"... family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery. ..."
"... Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo. ..."
"... Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs. ..."
"... So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context. ..."
"... Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this. I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries. ..."
Dec 05, 2015 | The Guardian

The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality. They still struggle for access to the basics

... ... ...

The disparities in wealth that we term "income inequality" are no accident, and they can't be fixed by fiddling at the edges of our current economic system. These disparities happened by design, and the system structurally disadvantages those at the bottom. The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality; even their very chances for access to the most basic tools of life are almost nil.

... ... ...

Too often, the answer by those who have hoarded everything is they will choose to "give back" in a manner of their choosing – just look at Mark Zuckerberg and his much-derided plan to "give away" 99% of his Facebook stock. He is unlikely to help change inequality or poverty any more than "giving away" of $100m helped children in Newark schools.

Allowing any of the 100 richest Americans to choose how they fix "income inequality" will not make the country more equal or even guarantee more access to life. You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools, even when you're the master; but more to the point, who would tear down his own house to distribute the bricks among so very many others?

mkenney63 5 Dec 2015 20:37

Excellent article. The problems we face are structural and can only be solved by making fundamental changes. We must bring an end to "Citizens United", modern day "Jim Crow" and the military industrial complex in order to restore our democracy. Then maybe, just maybe, we can have an economic system that will treat all with fairness and respect. Crony capitalism has had its day, it has mutated into criminality.

Kencathedrus -> Marcedward 5 Dec 2015 20:23

In the pre-capitalist system people learnt crafts to keep themselves afloat. The Industrial Revolution changed all that. Now we have the church of Education promising a better life if we get into debt to buy (sorry, earn) degrees.

The whole system is messed up and now we have millions of people on this planet who can't function even those with degrees. Barbarians are howling at the gates of Europe. The USA is rotting from within. As Marx predicted the Capitalists are merely paying their own grave diggers.

mkenney63 -> Bobishere 5 Dec 2015 20:17

I would suggest you read the economic and political history of the past 30 years. To help you in your study let me recommend a couple of recent books: "Winner Take all Politics" by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson and "The Age of Acquiescence" by Steve Fraser. It always amazes me that one can be so blind the facts of recent American history; it's not just "a statistical inequality", it's been a well thought-out strategy over time to rig the system, a strategy engaged in by politicians and capitalists. Shine some light on this issue by acquainting yourself with the facts.


Maharaja Brovinda -> Singh Jill Harrison 5 Dec 2015 19:42

We play out the prisoner's dilemma in life, in general, over and over in different circumstances, every day. And we always choose the dominant - rational - solution. But the best solution is not based on rationality, but rather on trust and faith in each other - rather ironically for our current, evidence based society!


Steven Palmer 5 Dec 2015 19:19

Like crack addicts the philanthropricks only seek to extend their individual glory, social image their primary goal, and yet given the context they will burn in history. Philanthroptits should at least offset the immeasurable damage they have done through their medieval wealth accumulation. Collaborative philanthropy for basic income is a good idea, but ye, masters tools.


BlairM -> Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 19:10

Well, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst possible economic system, except for all those other economic systems that have been tried from time to time.

I'd rather just have the freedom to earn money as I please, and if that means inequality, it's a small price to pay for not having some feudal lord or some party bureaucrat stomping on my humanity.

brusuz 5 Dec 2015 18:52

As long as wealth can be created by shuffling money from one place to another in the giant crap shoot we call our economy, nothing will change. Until something takes place to make it advantageous for the investor capitalists to put that money to work doing something that actually produces some benefit to the society as a whole, they will continue their extractive machinations. I see nothing on the horizon that is going to change any of that, and to cast this as some sort of a racial issue is quite superficial. We have all gotten the shaft, since there is no upward mobility available to anyone. Since the Bush crowd of neocons took power, we have all been shackled with "individual solutions to societal created problems."

Jimi Del Duca 5 Dec 2015 18:31

Friends, Capitalism is structural exploitation of ALL WORKERS. Thinking about it as solely a race issue is divisive. What we need is CLASS SOLIDARITY and ORGANIZATION. See iww.org We are the fighting union with no use for capitalists!

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 18:04

You'd be better off reading Marx if you want to understand capitalism. I think you are ascribing the word to what you think it should be rather than what it is.

It is essentially a class structure rather than any defined economic system. Neoliberal is essentially laissez faire capitalism. It is designed to suborn nation states to corporate benefit.

AmyInNH -> tommydog

They make $40 a month. Working 7 days a week. At least 12 hour days. Who's fed you that "we're doing them a favor" BS?

And I've news for you regarding "Those whose skills are less adaptable to doing so are seeing their earnings decline." We have many people who have 3 masters degrees making less than minimum wage. We have top notch STEM students shunned so corporations can hire captive/cheaper foreign labor, called H1-Bs, who then wait 10 years working for them waiting for their employment based green card. Or "visiting" students here on J1 visas, so the employers can get out of paying: social security, federal unemployment insurance, etc.

Wake up and smell the coffee tommydog. They've more than a thumb on the scale.

seamanbodine,
I am a socialist. I decided to read this piece to see if Mr. Thrasher could write about market savagery without propounding the fiction that whites are somehow exempt from the effects of it.

No, he could not. I clicked on the link accompanying his assertion that whites who are high school dropouts earn more than blacks with college degrees, and I read the linked piece in full. The linked piece does not in fact compare income (i.e., yearly earnings) of white high school dropouts with those of black college graduates, but it does compare family wealth across racial cohorts (though not educational ones), and the gap there is indeed stark, with average white family wealth in the six figures (full disclosure, I am white, and my personal wealth is below zero, as I owe more in student loans than I own, so perhaps I am not really white, or I do not fully partake of "whiteness," or whatever), and average black family wealth in the four figures.

The reason for this likely has a lot to do with home ownership disparities, which in turn are linked in significant part to racist redlining practices. So white dropouts often live in homes their parents or grandparents bought, while many black college graduates whose parents were locked out of home ownership by institutional racism and, possibly, the withering of manufacturing jobs just as the northward migration was beginning to bear some economic fruit for black families, are still struggling to become homeowners. Thus, the higher average wealth for the dropout who lives in a family owned home.

But this is not what Mr. Thrasher wrote. He specifically used the words "earn more," creating the impression that some white ignoramus is simply going to stumble his way into a higher salary than a cultivated, college educated black person. That is simply not the case, and the difference does matter.

Why does it matter? Because I regularly see middle aged whites who are broken and homeless on the streets of the town where I live, and I know they are simply the tip of a growing mountain of privation. Yeah, go ahead, call it white tears if you want, but if you cannot see that millions (including, of course, not simply folks who are out and out homeless, but folks who are struggling to get enough to eat and routinely go without needed medication and medical care) of people who have "white privilege" are indeed oppressed by global capitalism then I would say that you are, at the end of the day, NO BETTER THAN THE WHITES YOU DISDAIN.

If you have read this far, then you realize that I am in no way denying the reality of structural racism. But an account of economic savagery that entirely subsumes it into non-economic categories (race, gender, age), that refuses to acknowledge that blacks can be exploiters and whites can be exploited, is simply conservatism by other means. One gets the sense that if we have enough black millionaires and enough whites dying of things like a lack of medical care, then this might bring just a little bit of warmth to the hearts of people like Mr. Thrasher.

Call it what you want, but don't call it progressive. Maybe it is historical karma. Which is understandable, as there is no reason why globally privileged blacks in places like the U.S. or Great Britain should bear the burden of being any more selfless or humane than globally privileged whites are or have been. The Steven Thrashers of humanity are certainly no worse than many of the whites they cannot seem to recognize as fully human are.

But nor are they any better.
JohnLG 5 Dec 2015 17:23

I agree that the term "income inequality" is so vague that falls between useless and diversionary, but so too is most use of the word "capitalism", or so it seems to me. Typically missing is a penetrating analysis of where the problem lies, a comprehensibly supported remedy, or large-scale examples of anything except what's not working. "Income inequality" is pretty abstract until we look specifically at the consequences for individuals and society, and take a comprehensive look at all that is unequal. What does "capitalism" mean? Is capitalism the root of all this? Is capitalism any activity undertaken for profit, or substantial monopolization of markets and power?

Power tends to corrupt. Money is a form of power, but there are others. The use of power to essentially cheat, oppress or kill others is corrupt, whether that power is in the form of a weapon, wealth, the powers of the state, or all of the above. Power is seductive and addictive. Even those with good intensions can be corrupted by an excess of power and insufficient accountability, while predators are drawn to power like sharks to blood. Democracy involves dispersion of power, ideally throughout a whole society. A constitutional democracy may offer protection even to minorities against a "tyranny of the majority" so long as a love of justice prevails. Selective "liberty and justice" is not liberty and justice at all, but rather a tyranny of the many against the few, as in racism, or of the few against the many, as by despots. Both forms reinforce each other in the same society, both are corrupt, and any "ism" can be corrupted by narcissism. To what degree is any society a shining example of government of, for, and by the people, and to what degree can one discover empirical evidence of corruption? What do we do about it?

AmyInNH -> CaptainGrey 5 Dec 2015 17:15

You're too funny. It's not "lifting billions out of poverty". It's moving malicious manufacturing practices to the other side of the planet. To the lands of no labor laws. To hide it from consumers. To hide profits.

And it is dying. Legislatively they choke off their natural competition, which is an essential element of capitalism. Monopoly isn't capitalism. And when they bribe legislators, we don't have democracy any more either.

Jeremiah2000 -> Teresa Trujillo 5 Dec 2015 16:53

Stocks have always been "a legal form of gambling". What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market.

The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpa's pension fund go?

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:45

Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership.

The words "OWN" and "ASSETS" are the key descriptors of the definition of wealth. But these words are not well understood by the vast majority of Americans or for that matter, global citizens. They are limited to the vocabulary used by the wealthy ownership class and financial publications, which are not widely read, and not even taught in our colleges and universities.

The wealthy ownership class did not become wealthy because they are "three times as smart." Still there is a valid argument that the vast majority of Americans do not pay particular attention to the financial world and educate themselves on wealth building within the current system's limited past-savings paradigm. Significantly, the wealthy OWNERSHIP class use their political power (power always follows property OWNERSHIP) to write the system rules to benefit and enhance their wealth. As such they have benefited from forging trade policy agreements which further concentrate OWNERSHIP on a global scale, military-industrial complex subsidies and government contracts, tax code provisions and loopholes and collective-bargaining rules – policy changes they've used their wealth to champion.

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:44

Unfortunately, when it comes to recommendations for solutions to economic inequality, virtually every commentator, politician and economist is stuck in viewing the world in one factor terms – human labor, in spite of their implied understanding that the rich are rich because they OWN the non-human means of production – physical capital. The proposed variety of wealth-building programs, like "universal savings accounts that might be subsidized for low-income savers," are not practical solutions because they rely on savings (a denial of consumption which lessens demand in the economy), which the vast majority of Americans do not have, and for those who can save their savings are modest and insignificant. Though, millions of Americans own diluted stock value through the "stock market exchanges," purchased with their earnings as labor workers (savings), their stock holdings are relatively minuscule, as are their dividend payments compared to the top 10 percent of capital owners. Pew Research found that 53 percent of Americans own no stock at all, and out of the 47 percent who do, the richest 5 percent own two-thirds of that stock. And only 10 percent of Americans have pensions, so stock market gains or losses don't affect the incomes of most retirees.

As for taxpayer-supported saving subsidies or other wage-boosting measures, those who have only their labor power and its precarious value held up by coercive rigging and who desperately need capital ownership to enable them to be capital workers (their productive assets applied in the economy) as well as labor workers to have a way to earn more income, cannot satisfy their unsatisfied needs and wants and sufficiently provide for themselves and their families. With only access to labor wages, the 99 percenters will continue, in desperation, to demand more and more pay for the same or less work, as their input is exponentially replaced by productive capital.

As such, the vast majority of American consumers will continue to be strapped to mounting consumer debt bills, stagnant wages and inflationary price pressures. As their ONLY source of income is through wage employment, economic insecurity for the 99 percent majority of people means they cannot survive more than a week or two without a paycheck. Thus, the production side of the economy is under-nourished and hobbled as a result, because there are fewer and fewer "customers with money." We thus need to free economic growth from the slavery of past savings.

I mentioned that political power follows property OWNERSHIP because with concentrated capital asset OWNERSHIP our elected representatives are far too often bought with the expectation that they protect and enhance the interests of the wealthiest Americans, the OWNERSHIP class they too overwhelmingly belong to.

Many, including the author of this article, have concluded that with such a concentrated OWNERSHIP stronghold the wealthy have on our politics, "it's hard to see where this cycle ends." The ONLY way to reverse this cycle and broaden capital asset OWNERSHIP universally is a political revolution. (Bernie Sanders, are you listening?)

The political revolution must address the problem of lack of demand. To create demand, the FUTURE economy must be financed in ways that create new capital OWNERS, who will benefit from the full earnings of the FUTURE productive capability of the American economy, and without taking from those who already OWN. This means significantly slowing the further concentration of capital asset wealth among those who are already wealthy and ensuring that the system is reformed to promote inclusive prosperity, inclusive opportunity, and inclusive economic justice.

yamialwaysright 5 Dec 2015 16:13

I was interested and in agreement until I read about structured racism. Many black kidsin the US grow up without a father in the house. They turn to anti-social behaviour and crime. Once you are poor it is hard to get out of being poor but Journalists are not doing justice to a critique of US Society if they ignore the fact that some people behave in a self-destructive way. I would imagine that if some black men in the US and the UK stuck with one woman and played a positive role in the life of their kids, those kids would have a better chance at life. People of different racial and ethnic origin do this also but there does seem to be a disproportionate problem with some black US men and some black UK men. Poverty is one problem but growing up in poverty and without a father figure adds to the problem.

What the author writes applies to other countries not just the US in relation to the super wealthy being a small proportion of the population yet having the same wealth as a high percentage of the population. This in not a black or latino issue but a wealth distribution issue that affects everyone irrespective of race or ethnic origin. The top 1%, 5% or 10% having most of the wealth is well-known in many countries.

nuthermerican4u 5 Dec 2015 15:59

Capitalism, especially the current vulture capitalism, is dog eat dog. Always was, always will be. My advice is that if you are a capitalist that values your heirs, invest in getting off this soon-to-be slag heap and find other planets to pillage and rape. Either go all out for capitalism or reign in this beast before it kills all of us.

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:32

Our antiquated class structure demonstrates the trickle up of Capitalism and the need to counterbalance it with progressive taxation.

In the 1960s/1970s we used high taxes on the wealthy to counter balance the trickle up of Capitalism and achieved much greater equality.

Today we have low taxes on the wealthy and Capitalism's trickle up is widening the inequality gap.

We are cutting benefits for the disabled, poor and elderly so inequality can get wider and the idle rich can remain idle.

They have issued enough propaganda to make people think it's those at the bottom that don't work.

Every society since the dawn of civilization has had a Leisure Class at the top, in the UK we call them the Aristocracy and they have been doing nothing for centuries.

The UK's aristocracy has seen social systems come and go, but they all provide a life of luxury and leisure and with someone else doing all the work.

Feudalism - exploit the masses through land ownership
Capitalism - exploit the masses through wealth (Capital)

Today this is done through the parasitic, rentier trickle up of Capitalism:

a) Those with excess capital invest it and collect interest, dividends and rent.
b) Those with insufficient capital borrow money and pay interest and rent.

The system itself provides for the idle rich and always has done from the first civilisations right up to the 21st Century.

The rich taking from the poor is always built into the system, taxes and benefits are the counterbalance that needs to be applied externally.

Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 15:31

I often chuckle when I read some of the right wing comments on articles such as this. Firstly, I question if readers actually read the article references I've highlighted, before rushing to comment.

Secondly, the comments are generated by cifers who probably haven't set the world alight, haven't made a difference in their local community, they'll have never created thousands of jobs in order to reward themselves with huge dividends having and as a consequence enjoy spectacular asset/investment growth, at best they'll be chugging along, just about keeping their shit together and yet they support a system that's broken, other than for the one percent, of the one percent.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies issued this week analyzed the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans and found that "the wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States". That means that 100 families – most of whom are white – have as much wealth as the 41,000,000 black folks walking around the country (and the million or so locked up) combined.

Similarly, the report also stated that "the wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population" of the nation. Here again, the breakdown in actual humans is broke down: 186 overwhelmingly white folks have more money than that an astounding 55,000,000 Latino people.

family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:26

It is the 21st Century and most of the land in the UK is still owned by the descendants of feudal warlords that killed people and stole their land and wealth.

When there is no land to build houses for generation rent, land ownership becomes an issue.

David Cameron is married into the aristocracy and George Osborne is a member of the aristocracy, they must both be well acquainted with the Leisure Class.

I can't find any hard work going on looking at the Wikipedia page for David Cameron's father-in-law. His family have been on their estate since the sixteenth century and judging by today's thinking, expect to be on it until the end of time.

George Osborne's aristocratic pedigree goes back to the Tudor era:

"he is an aristocrat with a pedigree stretching back to early in the Tudor era. His father, Sir Peter Osborne, is the 17th holder of a hereditary baronetcy that has been passed from father to son for 10 generations, and of which George is next in line."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/george-osborne-a-silver-spoon-for-the-golden-boy-2004814.html

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:24

The working and middle classes toil to keep the upper class in luxury and leisure.

In the UK nothing has changed.

We call our Leisure Class the Aristocracy.

For the first time in five millennia of human civilisation some people at the bottom of society aren't working.

We can't have that; idleness is only for the rich.

It's the way it's always been and the way it must be again.

Did you think the upper; leisure class, social calendar disappeared in the 19th Century?
No it's alive and kicking in the 21st Century ....

Peer into the lives of today's Leisure Class with Tatler. http://www.tatler.com/the-season

If we have people at the bottom who are not working the whole of civilisation will be turned on its head.

"The modern industrial society developed from the barbarian tribal society, which featured a leisure class supported by subordinated working classes employed in economically productive occupations. The leisure class is composed of people exempted from manual work and from practicing economically productive occupations, because they belong to the leisure class."

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, by Thorstein Veblen. It was written a long time ago but much of it is as true today as it was then. The Wikipedia entry gives a good insight.

DBChas 5 Dec 2015 15:13
"income inequality" is best viewed as structural capitalism. It's not as if, did black and brown people and female people somehow (miraculously) attain the economic status of the lower-paid, white, male person, the problem would be solved--simply by adjusting pay scales. The problem is inherent to capitalism, which doesn't mean certain "types" of people aren't more disadvantaged for their "type." No one is saying that. For capitalists, it's easier to rationalize the obscene unfairness (only rich people say, "life's not fair") when their "type" is regarded as superior to a different "type," whether that be with respect to color or gender or both.

Over time--a long time--the dominant party (white males since the Dark Ages, also the life-span of capitalism coincidentally enough) came to dominance by various means, too many to try to list, or even know of. Why white males? BTW, just because most in power and in money are white males does not mean ALL white males are in positions of power and wealth. Most are not, and these facts help to fog the issue.

Indeed, "income inequality," is not an accident, nor can it be fixed, as the author notes, by tweaking (presumably he means capitalism). And he's quite right too in saying, "You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools..." I take that ALSO to mean, the problem can't be fixed by way of what Hedges has called a collapsing liberal establishment with its various institutions, officially speaking. That is, it's not institutional racism that's collapsing, but that institution is not officially recognized as such.

HOWEVER, it IS possible, even when burdened with an economics that is capitalism, to redistribute wealth, and I don't just mean Mark Zuckerberg's. I mean all wealth in whatever form can be redistributed if/when government decides it can. And THIS TIME, unlike the 1950s-60s, not only would taxes on the wealthy be the same as then but the wealth redistributed would be redistributed to ALL, not just to white families, and perhaps in particular to red families, the oft forgotten ones.

This is a matter of political will. But, of course, if that means whites as the largest voting block insist on electing to office those without the political will, nothing will change. In that case, other means have to be considered, and just a reminder: If the government fails to serve the people, the Constitution gives to the people the right to depose that government. But again, if whites as the largest voting block AND as the largest sub-group in the nation (and women are the largest part of that block, often voting as their men vote--just the facts, please, however unpleasant) have little interest in seeing to making necessary changes at least in voting booths, then...what? Bolshevism or what? No one seems to know and it's practically taboo even to talk about possibilities. Americans did it once, but not inclusively and not even paid in many instances. When it happens again, it has to happen with and for the participation of ALL. And it's worth noting that it will have to happen again, because capitalism by its very nature cannot survive itself. That is, as Marx rightly noted, capitalism will eventually collapse by dint of its internal contradictions.


mbidding Jeremiah2000 5 Dec 2015 15:08

Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo.

Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs.

Consider as well that you don't have transportation to get a job that would improve your circumstances. You earn too much to qualify for meaningful levels of food support programs and fall into the insurance gap for subsidies because you live in a state that for ideological reasons refuses to expand Medicaid coverage. Your local schools are a disgrace but you can't take advantage of so-called school choice programs (vouchers, charters, and the like) as you don't have transportation or the time (given your employer's refusal to set fixed working hours for minimum wage part time work) to get your kids to that fine choice school.

You may have a fridge and a stove, but you have no food to cook. You may have access to running water and electricity, but you can't afford to pay the bills for such on account of having to choose between putting food in that fridge or flushing that toilet. You can't be there reliably for your kids to help with school, etc, because you work constantly shifting hours for crap pay.

Get back to me after six months to a year after living in such circumstances and then tell me again how Americans don't really live in poverty simply because they have access to appliances.


Earl Shelton 5 Dec 2015 15:08

The Earned Income Tax Credit seems to me a good starting point for reform. It has been around since the 70s -- conceived by Nixon/Moynihan -- and signed by socialist (kidding) Gerald Ford -- it already *redistributes* income (don't choke on the term, O'Reilly) directly from tax revenue (which is still largely progressive) to the working poor, with kids.

That program should be massively expanded to tax the 1% -- and especially the top 1/10 of 1% (including a wealth tax) -- and distribute the money to the bottom half of society, mostly in the form of work training, child care and other things that help put them in and keep them in the middle class. It is a mechanism already in existence to correct the worst ravages of Capitalism. Use it to build shared prosperity.


oKWJNRo 5 Dec 2015 14:40

So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context.

We can probably all agree that Capitalism has brought about widespread improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions, for example, compared to the feudal system that preceded it... But it also disproportionately benefits the upper echelons of Capitalist societies and is wholly unequal by design.

Capitalism depends upon the existence of a large underclass that can be exploited. This is part of the process of how surplus value is created and wealth is extracted from labour. This much is indisputable. It is therefore obvious that capitalism isn't an ideal system for most of us living on this planet.

As for the improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions etc that Capitalism has fostered... Most of these were won through long struggles against the Capitalist hegemony by the masses. We would have certainly chosen to make these improvements to our landscape sooner if Capitalism hadn't made every effort to stop us. The problem today is that Capitalism and its powerful beneficiaries have successfully convinced us that there is no possible alternative. It won't give us the chance to try or even permit us to believe there could be another, better way.

Martin Joseph -> realdoge 5 Dec 2015 14:33

Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this.

I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries.

VWFeature 5 Dec 2015 14:29

Markets, economies and tax systems are created by people, and based on rules they agree on. Those rules can favor general prosperity or concentration of wealth. Destruction and predation are easier than creation and cooperation, so our rules have to favor cooperation if we want to avoid predation and destructive conflicts.

In the 1930's the US changed many of those rules to favor general prosperity. Since then they've been gradually changed to favor wealth concentration and predation. They can be changed back.

The trick is creating a system that encourages innovation while putting a safety net under the population so failure doesn't end in starvation.

A large part of our current problems is the natural tendency for large companies to get larger and larger until their failure would adversely affect too many others, so they're not allowed to fail. Tax law, not antitrust law, has to work against this. If a company can reduce its tax rate by breaking into 20 smaller (still huge) companies, then competition is preserved and no one company can dominate and control markets.

Robert Goldschmidt -> Jake321 5 Dec 2015 14:27

Bernie Sanders has it right on -- we can only heal our system by first having millions rise up and demand an end to the corruption of the corporations controlling our elected representatives. Corporations are not people and money is not speech.

moonwrap02 5 Dec 2015 14:26

The effects of wealth distribution has far reaching consequences. It is not just about money, but creating a fair society - one that is co-operative and cohesive. The present system has allowed an ever divide between the rich and poor, creating a two tier society where neither the twain shall meet. The rich and poor are almost different species on the planet and no longer belong to the same community. Commonality of interest is lost and so it's difficult to form community and to have good, friendly relationships across class differences that are that large.

"If capitalism is to be seen to be fair, the same rules are to apply to the big guy as to the little guy,"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/2-charts-that-show-what-the-world-really-thinks-about-capitalism-a6719851.html


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 14:17

Sorry. I get it now. You actually think that because the Washington elite has repealed Glass-Steagel that we live in a unregulated capitalistic system.

This is so far from the truth that I wasn't comprehending that anyone could think that. You can see the graph of pages published in the Federal Register here. Unregulated capitalism? Wow.

Dodd Frank was passed in 2010 (without a single Republican vote). Originally it was 2,300 pages. It is STILL being written by nameless bureaucrats and is over 20,000 pages. Unregulated capitalism? Really?

But the reality is that Goliath is conspiring with the government to regulate what size sling David can use and how many stones and how many ounces.

So we need more government regulations? They will disallow David from anything but spitwads and only two of those.


neuronmaker -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:16

Do you understand the concept of corporations which are products of capitalism?

The legal institutions within each capitalist corporations and nations are just that, they are capitalist and all about making profits.

The law is made by the rich capitalists and for the rich capitalists. Each Legislation is a link in the chain of economic slavery by capitalists.

Capitalism and the concept of money is a construction of the human mind, as it does not exist in the natural world. This construction is all about using other human beings like blood suckers to sustain a cruel and evil life style - with blood and brutality as the core ideology.


Marcedward -> MarjaE 5 Dec 2015 14:12

I would agree that our system of help for the less-well-off could be more accessible and more generous, but that doesn't negate that point that there is a lot of help out there - the most important help being that totally free educational system. Think about it, a free education, and to get the most out of it a student merely has to show up, obey the rules, do the homework and study for tests. It's all laid out there for the kids like a helicopter mom laying out her kids clothes. How much easier can we make it? If people can't be bothered to show up and put in effort, how is their failure based on racism


tommydog -> martinusher 5 Dec 2015 14:12

As you are referring to Carlos Slim, interestingly while he is Mexican by birth his parents were both Lebanese.

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:12

Why isn't that capitalism? It's raw capitalism on steroids.

Zara Von Fritz -> Toughspike 5 Dec 2015 14:12

It's an equal opportunity plantation now.

Robert Goldschmidt 5 Dec 2015 14:11

The key to repairing the system is to identify the causes of our problems.

Here is my list:

The information technology revolution which continues to destroy wages by enabling automation and outsourcing.

The reformation of monopolies which price gouge and block innovation.

Hitting ecological limits such as climate change, water shortages, unsustainable farming.

Then we can make meaningful changes such as regulation of the portion of corporate profit that are pay, enforcement of national and regional antitrust laws and an escalating carbon tax.

Zara Von Fritz -> PostCorbyn 5 Dec 2015 14:11

If you can believe these quality of life or happiness indexes they put out so often, the winners tend to be places that have nice environments and a higher socialist mix in their economy. Of course there are examples of poor countries that practice the same but its not clear that their choice is causal rather than reactive.

We created this mess and we can fix it.

Zara Von Fritz -> dig4victory 5 Dec 2015 14:03

Yes Basic Income is possibly the mythical third way. It socialises wealth to a point but at the same time frees markets from their obligation to perpetually grow and create jobs for the sake of jobs and also hereford reduces the subsequent need for governments to attempt to control them beyond maintaining their health.

Zara Von Fritz 5 Dec 2015 13:48

As I understand it, you don't just fiddle with capitalism, you counteract it, or counterweight it. A level of capitalism, or credit accumulation, and a level of socialism has always existed, including democracy which is a manifestation of socialism (1 vote each). So the project of capital accumulation seems to be out of control because larger accumulations become more powerful and meanwhile the power of labour in the marketplace has become less so due to forces driving unemployment. The danger is that capital's power to control the democratic system reaches a point of no return.


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 13:42

"I do not have the economic freedom to grow my own food because i do not have access to enough land to grow it and i do not have the economic clout to buy a piece of land."

Economic freedom does NOT mean you get money for free. It means that means that if you grow food for personal use, the federal government doesn't trash the Constitution by using the insterstate commerce clause to say that it can regulate how much you grow on your own personal land.

Economic freedom means that if you have a widget, you can choose to set the price for $10 or $100 and that a buyer is free to buy it from you or not buy it from you. It does NOT mean that you are entitled to "free" widgets.

"If capitalism has not managed to eradicate poverty in rich first world countries then just what chance if there of capitalism eradicating poverty on a global scale?"

The average person in poverty in the U.S. doesn't live in poverty:

In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority-58.2 percent-have computers.

Fully 96.1 percent of American households in "poverty" have a television to watch, and 83.2 percent of them have a video-recording device in case they cannot get home in time to watch the football game or their favorite television show and they want to record it for watching later.

Refrigerators (97.8 percent), gas or electric stoves (96.6 percent) and microwaves (93.2 percent) are standard equipment in the homes of Americans in "poverty."

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

Interestingly, the appliances surveyed by the Census Bureau that households in poverty are least likely to own are dish washers (44.9 percent) and food freezers (26.2 percent).

However, most Americans in "poverty" do not need to go to a laundromat. According to the Census Bureau, 68.7 percent of households in poverty have a clothes washer and 65.3 percent have a clothes dryer.

(Data from the U.S. census.)

[Dec 04, 2015] German Financialization and the Eurozone Crisis

Notable quotes:
"... Bundenstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht ..."
naked capitalism
Many studies of the Eurozone crisis focus on peripheral European states' current account deficits, or German neo-mercantilist policies that promoted export surpluses. However, German financialization and input on the eurozone's financial architecture promoted deficits, increased systemic risk, and facilitated the onset of Europe's subsequent crises.

Increasing German financial sector competition encouraged German banks' increasing securitization and participation in global capital markets. Regional liberalization created new marketplaces for German finance and increased crisis risk as current accounts diverged between Europe's core and periphery. After the global financial crisis of 2008, German losses on international securitized assets prompted retrenchment of lending, paving the way for the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis. Rethinking how financial liberalization facilitated German and European financial crises may prevent the eurozone from repeating these performances in the future.

After the 1970s, German banks' trading activity came to surpass lending as the largest share of assets, while German firms increasingly borrowed in international capital markets rather than from domestic banks. Private banks alleged that political subsidies and higher credit ratings for Landesbanks, public banks that insured household, small enterprise, and local banks' access to capital, were unfair, and, in response, German lawmakers eliminated state guarantees for public banks. Landesbanks, despite their historic role as stable, non-profit, providers of credit, consequently had to compete with Germany's largest private banks for business. Changes in competition restructured the German financial system. Mergers and takeovers occurred, especially in commercial banks and Landesbanks. German financial intermediation ratios-total financial assets of financial corporations divided by the total financial assets of the economy-increased. Greater securitization and shadow banking relative to long-term lending increased German propensity for financial crisis, as securities, shares, and securitized debt constituted increasing percentages of German banks' assets and liabilities.

Throughout this period, Germany lacked a centralized financial regulatory apparatus. Only in 2002 did the country's central bank, the Bundesbank, establish the Bundenstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, known as BaFin), which consolidated the responsibilities of three agencies to oversee the whole financial sector. However, neither institution could keep pace with new sources of financial and economic instability. German banking changes continued apace and destabilizing trends in banking grew.

German desire for financial liberalization at the European level, meanwhile, helped increase potential systemic risk of European finance. Despite some European opposition to removing barriers to capital and trade flows, Germany prevailed in setting these preconditions for membership in the European economic union. Germany's negotiating power stemmed from its strong currency, as well as French, Italian, and smaller European economies' desire for currency stability. Germany demanded an independent central bank for the union, removal of capital controls, and an expansion of the tasks banks could perform within the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The Second Banking Coordination Directive (SBCD) mandated that banks perform commercial and investment intermediation to be certified within the EMU; the Single Market Passport (SMP) required free trade and capital flows throughout the EMU. The SMP and SBCD increased the scope of activity that financial institutions throughout the union were expected to provide, and opened banks up to markets, instruments, and activities they could neither monitor nor regulate, and hence to destabilizing shocks.

Intra-EMU lending and borrowing subsequently increased, and total lending and borrowing grew relative to European countries' GDP from the early 1990s onward. Asymmetries emerged in capital flows between Europe's core, particularly the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, to Europe's newly liberalized periphery. German banks lent increasing volumes to EMU member states, especially peripheral states. Though this lending on a country-by-country basis was a small percentage of Germany's GDP, it constituted larger percentages of borrowers' GDPs. In 2007, Germany lent 1.23% of its GDP to Portugal; this represented 17.68% of Portugal's GDP; in 2008, Germany lent 6% of its GDP to Ireland; this was 84% of Irish GDP. Germany, the largest European economy, lent larger percentages of its GDP to peripheral EMU nations relative to its lending to richer European economies. These flows, more potentially disruptive for borrowers than for the lender, reflected lack of oversight in asset management. German lending helped destabilize European financial systems more vulnerable to rapid capital inflows, and created conditions for large-scale capital flight in a crisis.

Financial competition increased in Europe over this period. Financial merger activity first accelerated within national borders, and later grew at supra-national levels. These movements increased eurozone access to capital, but increased pressure for banks to widen the scope of the services and lending that they provided. Rising European securitization in this period increased systemic risk for the EMU financial system. European holdings of U.S.-originated asset-backed securities increased by billions of dollars from the early 2000s until shortly before 2008. German banks were among the EMU's top issuers and acquirers of such assets. As banks' holdings of these assets increased, European systemic risk increased as well.

European total debt as a percentage of GDP rose in this period. Financial debt relative to GDP grew particularly sharply in core economies; Ireland was the only peripheral EMU economy with comparable levels of financial debt. Though government debt relative to GDP fell or held constant for most EMU nations, cross-border acquisition of sovereign debt increased until 2007. German banks acquired substantially larger portfolios of sovereign debt issued by other European states, which would not decrease until 2010. Only in 2009 did government debt relative to GDP increase throughout the eurozone, as governments guaranteed their financial systems to minimize the costs of the ensuing financial crisis.

The newly liberalized financial architecture of the eurozone increased both the market for German financial services and overall systemic risk of the European financial system; these dynamics helped destabilize the German financial system and economy at large. Rising German exports of goods, services, and capital to the rest of Europe grew the German economy, but divergence of current account balances within the EMU exposed it to sovereign debt risk in peripheral states. Potential systemic risk changed into systemic risk after the subprime mortgage crisis began. EMU economies would not have subsequently experienced such pressure to backstop national financial systems or to repay sovereign loans had German banks not lent so much or purchased so many sovereign bonds within the union. Narratives that fail to acknowledge Germany's role in promoting the circumstances that underlay the eurozone crisis ignore the destabilizing power of financial liberalization, even for a global financial center like Germany.

susan the other, December 3, 2015 at 1:06 pm

This is very interesting. It describes just how the EU mess unfolded beginning in 1970 with deregulation of the financial industry in the core. Big fish eat little fish. It is as if for 4 decades the banks in Germany compensated their losses to the bigger international lenders by taking on the riskier borrowers and were able to do so because of German mercantilism and financial deregulation. Like the German domestic banks loaned the periphery money with abandon, and effectively borrowed their own profits by speculating on bad customers. As German corporations did business with big international banksters, who lent at lower rates, other German banks resorted to buying the sovereign bonds of the periphery and selling CDOs, etc. The German banks were as over-extended looking for profit as consumers living on their credit cards. Deregulation enriched only the biggest international banks. We could call this behavior a form of digging your own grave. In 2009 the periphery saw their borrowing costs threatened and guaranteed their own financial institutions creating the "sovereign debt" that the core then refused to touch. Hypocrisy ruled. Generosity was in short supply. The whole thing fell apart. Deregulation was just another form of looting.

washunate, December 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

German losses on international securitized assets prompted retrenchment of lending, paving the way for the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis.

I agree with the general conclusion at the end that German financialization is part of the overall narrative of EMU, but I don't follow this specific link in the chain of events as described. The eurozone has a sovereign debt crisis because those sovereign governments privatized the profits and socialized the losses of a global system of fraud. And if we're assigning national blame, it's a system run out of DC, NY, and London a lot more than Berlin, Frankfurt, and Brussels.

Current and capital account imbalances cancel each other out in the overall balance of payments. As bank lending decreases (capital account surplus shrinks) then the current account deficit shrinks as well (the 'trade deficit'). The problem is when governments step in and haphazardly backstop some of the losses – at least, when they do so without imposing taxes on the wealthy to a sufficient degree to pay for these bailouts.