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Disaster capitalism

News Neocolonialism as financial imperialism Recommended Links IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement The Grand Chessboard Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement
American Exceptionalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Mayberry Machiavellians Neo Trotskyism aka Neoconservatism "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Developing Countries Hit Hardest by Brain Drain Predator state
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Elite Theory Two Party System as polyarchy Economics of Energy   Super Imperialism New American Militarism
Neoliberalism  Disaster capitalism Predator state  Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Right to protect Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability Casino Capitalism
Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few In Foreign Events Coverage The Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Political skeptic John Kenneth Galbraith Financial Humor Humor Etc

In her groundbreaking book The Shock Doctrine The Rise of Disaster Capitalism  Naomi Klein  has shown how From Chile in 1973 to Iraq today, neoliberals have repeatedly harnessed terrible shocks and violence to implement their radical policies or neoliberalization and debt enslavement of the weaker countries. This concept is closely related to the concepts of Military-Industrial Complex and Predator state. Amazon review of the book states:

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts… New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.

There's little doubt Klein's book--which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It's also true that Klein's assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn't going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it's nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. --Kim Hughes 

Publishers Weekly review adds to this:

The neo-liberal economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—that the Chicago School and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous—depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author's accounting—their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market reforms the public would normally reject. Journalist Klein (No Logo) chronicles decades of such disasters, including the Chicago School makeovers launched by South American coups; the corrupt sale of Russia's state economy to oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union; the privatization of New Orleans's public schools after Katrina; and the seizure of wrecked fishing villages by resort developers after the Asian tsunami. Klein's economic and political analyses are not always meticulous. Likening free-market shock therapies to electroshock torture, she conflates every misdeed of right-wing dictatorships with their economic programs and paints a too simplistic picture of the Iraq conflict as a struggle over American-imposed neo-liberalism. Still, much of her critique hits home, as she demonstrates how free-market ideologues welcome, and provoke, the collapse of other people's economies. The result is a powerful populist indictment of economic orthodoxy. 

Selected Amazon reviews

Steve Koss VINE VOICE on September 25, 2007

A Stunning and Well-Researched Indictment of Friedmanian Neoliberalism
 

Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is a stunning indictment of American corporatism and institutionalized globalization, on a par with such groundbreaking works as Harrington's THE OTHER AMERICA and Chomsky's HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL. Comprehensive in its breadth and remarkable for its well-researched depth, Klein's book is a highly readable but disturbing look at how the neoliberal economic tenets of Milton Friedman have been implemented across the world over the last thirty-plus years.

The author's thesis is simply stated: that neoliberal economic programs have repeatedly been implemented without the consent of the governed by creating and/or taking advantage of various forms of national shock therapy. Ms. Klein asserts that in country after country, Friedman and his Chicago School followers have foisted their tripartite economic prescription - privatization, deregulation, and cutbacks in social welfare spending - on an unsuspecting populace through decidedly non-democratic means. In the early years, the primary vehicle was dictatorial military force and accompanying fear of arrest, torture, disappearance, or death. Over time, new organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank were employed instead, using or creating impossible debt burdens to force governments to accept privatization of state-owned industries and services, complete removal of trade barriers and tariffs, forced acceptance of private foreign investment, and widespread layoffs. In more recent years, terrroism and its response as well as natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis have wiped clean enough of the slate to impose these Friedmanite policies on people too shocked and focused on recovering to realize what was happening until it was too late.

According to Ms. Klein's thesis, these revolutionary economic programs were the "medicine" deemed necessary by neoliberal, anti-Keynesian economists to bring underdeveloped countries into the global trading community. Ms. Klein argues her case in convincing detail a long chronological line of historical cases. Each chapter in her book surveys one such situation, from Chile under Pinochet and Argentina under military junta through Nicaragua and Honduras, Bolivia under Goni, post-apartheid South Africa, post-Solidarity Poland, Russia under Yeltsin, China since Tiananmen, reconstruction of Iraq after the U.S. invasion, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, Israel after 9/11, and New Orleans post-Katrina. Along the way, she lets various neoliberal economists and Chicago School practitioners speak for themselves - we hear their "shock therapy" views in their own words. As just one example, this arrogant and self-righteous proclamation from the late Professor Friedman: "Only a crisis - actual or perceived - producs real change...our basic function, to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

What the author makes inescapably clear is that the world economic order has been largely remade in Milton Friedman's image in the last few decades by adopting programs that would never have been democratically accepted by the common people. Military coups, violence and force, wars, induced hyperinflation, terrorism, preemptive war, climate disasters - these have been the disruptive vehicles that allowed such drastic economic packages to be imposed. Nearly always, they are developed in secrecy and implemented too rapidly for citizens to respond. The end results, as Ms.Klein again makes clear, are massive (and too often, continuing) unemployment, large price increases for essential goods, closing of factories, enormous increases in people living in poverty, explosive concentration of wealth among a small elite, and extraordinary opportunity for rapacious capitalism from American and European corporations.

Ms. Klein argues that from its humble beginnings as an economic philosophy, the neoliberal program has evolved (or perhaps devolved) into a form of corporatism. Particularly in America, government under mostly Republican adminstrations has hollowed itself out, using private sector contractors for nearly every conceivable task. Companies ranging from Lockheed and Halliburton to ChoicePoint, Blackwater, CH2M Hill, and DynCorp exist almost entirely to secure lucrative government contracts to perform work formerly done by government. They now operate in a world the author describes as "disaster capitalism," waiting and salivating over the profits to be made in the next slate-wiping war or disaster, regardless of the human cost. In an ominous closing discussion, Ms. Klein describes the privatization of government in wealthy Atlanta suburbs, a further step in self-serving and preemptive corporatism guaranteed to hollow out whatever is left of major American cities if it becomes a widespread practice.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is truly a head-shaking read. One can only marvel at the imperiousness of past (mostly) American governmental behavior, the grievous callousness of it all, the massive human despair and suffering created for no other reason than economic imperialism, and the nauseating greed of (mostly Republican) politicians, former political operatives, and corporate executives who prey like pack wolves on people's powerlessness and insecurity. Reading this book, one can no longer ask the question, "Why do they hate us?" The answer is obvious, and no amount of hyperventilation from Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, or Fox News can erase the facts and consequences of behavior that we as a country have implicitly or explicitly endorsed.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE proves itself as shaming of modern American governmental policy as Dee Brown's epic of 19th Century America, BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. It is an essential read for intelligent citizens who want to understand the roots of globalization and its blowback effects on our lives.

Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2007

Format: Hardcover
**FYI** Please note to the best of my knowledge I am NOT related to Naomi Klein.**

If you wonder what happened to the middle class, why poverty is on the rise and what the economies in a democracracy, dictatorship and "communism" have in common, you'll find lots of food for thought in Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE. Tracing the rise of the "Chicago Boys" laissez-faire economic beliefs, their impact on South America, China, Russia, Poland and South Africa and how it impacted their form of government, Klein makes a compelling argument for the flaws in Milton Friedman's economic science.

Naomi Klein's book looks at the conflict between Milton Friedman's "laissez-faire" approach to business and government where business is largely unregulated running itself and government is little more than a bare bones system. According to Klein, Friedman believed that the economic theories he espoused would be perfect and that any problems with it would be due to outside forces interferring with his free market world. His approach was in complete contrast to Keynes who believed that the prime mission of politicians and economists was to prevent unemployment and avoid a depression or recession by regulating the market place. People like John Kenneth Galbraith (heir to Keynes' mantle)believed part of the purpose of economic regulation was to keep our captalist system fair and prevent a small group of businesses from dominating the market. Galbraith also believed in bills like the Glass-Steagall act which created a firewall between Wall Street and various banking institutions (which former President Clinton helped to eliminate). The net result would be to prevent recreating disasters like the Great Depression and 1929 stock market crash (the current version of which contributed to part of the economic mess we're in today).

It's the conflict between these two economic philosphies that allows our economic world to thrive. You'll have to decide for yourself how accurately she reflects each man's philosphy based on what you know about each respective philosphy but I found, for the most part, that the book gave a pretty accurate summation of the benefits and issues at the core of each, as well as which classes benefit the most.

Klein suggests that "disaster capitalism", i.e., introducing radical changes in terms of economic and government policy when a country is in "shock" (taking advantage of the fact that massed resistence is unlikely to that change), is allowing the rise of unchecked multi-national corporations that take advantage of and damage our society in the process. She suggests that Friedman's beliefs that the market will manage itself and that free market capitalism undermined the Soviet Union is an idealized and naive belief. The impact for good and bad is that a business functions like a plant. If it receives too much sunlight and water, it will overgrow and strangle out everything else in the economic ecosystem. The net result would cause the system to become unbalanced with human suffering and economic disaster as the result if left unchecked. She traces a parallel path between the rise of Friedman's economic philosphy and the rise of human rights violations, rise and fall of various governments throughout the world and the opportunism of the business world to exploit it.

She ties all of this together looking at the economic policies and beliefs that are reshaping American society--for good and bad--into a different society where the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand and one where the free market society is being radically retooled. The result is a society where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. The pressured middle class continues to shrink. This undermines the foundation of our economic growth. This book will probably divide those along the more extreme political lines but has the ring of truth nevertheless.

Klein crafts a fascinating book. Although some of her observations might be a bit of a stretch and her arguments occasionally flawed, she provides compelling evidence to support her thesis and connects the dots of events that might otherwise appear to be unrelated. Whether or not you agree with Klein or are outraged by her evidence, you'll find plenty of food for thought in her book.

Justin M. Feldman on October 27, 2007

An important read with some shortcomings

Naomi Klein has written this book about the rise of what she calls "disaster capitalism": the global imposition/adoption of Chicago School (neoliberal) economics since the early 1970s. This is a particularly important book because, while many have written about the same topic, I have never seen it treated in a form that is both holistic (ie. a global history) and accessible (ie. largely free from the academic jargon of economics and social theory). The book does suffer from some problems however.

Klein's main thesis is problematic. She writes that the idea of economic shock therapy arose out of the same logic as Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT). This idea is to create or exploit a destructive event in order to create regression, passivity, and a 'blank slate' on which to build a new order. In supporting this thesis, Klein uses all of Part I of her book to write about psychological torture and the CIA's mind control experiments. She attempts to develop a 'poetics of torture' that links the individual violence of ECT to the structural violence that occurs when neoliberalism is imposed as a governing strategy. Klein is no poet however, and the metaphor seems to die pretty early on in the book. She does thankfully offer a more implicit thesis that she invokes more regularly and supports more thoroughly: free markets did not develop through freedom, but through authoritarian or technocratic interventions.

Secondly, Klein treats capitalism as if it were only 35 years old. Her book however is thematically similar to the work of another woman who wrote on the same issues a century before: Rosa Luxemburg. By only going as far back as the rise of Keynsianism and developmentalism, Klein makes it seem as though neoliberalism is a radical historical exception. Yet it seems that, since the industrial revolution, it is Keynsianism that itself was the historical exception.

This book is mostly comprised of what are essentially case studies. Each case study could certainly be expanded into its own 600-page book, so simplification was necessary. I think that it is also necessary for the author to explicitly admit the complexity of any situation beyond just the power of market forces, which act strongly and ubiquitously but never alone. I think she does admit the shortcomings of her case studies for Israel/Palestine, South Africa, and Iraq (her best and most personally-involved ones), but not for the rest.

All in all, this book is worth a read and is a good introduction to one of the most powerful forces of our times. I just hope that it inspires people to read some other books that illuminate more of the complexities in regards to the theory and practice of neoliberalism in our communities, countries, and worlds.

 I particularly recommend David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

ByBrian F. "Nurse Ratched"on April 7, 2015

How shocking! (pun intended)

I have always been a bit of a history buff and have prided myself on knowing a lot of the history involving the US. Recently, I had an enlightening revelation; one which I think I always knew, but had never heard it articulated. Each of us looks at our place in the world in different ways. Some see the world sociologically, some see it economically and some see it politically. Obviously these three "slants" affect our interpretations, and I totally get that there is obvious cross-over. Within each of these areas there is a continuum and people line up (usually) to one side of center or the other. Until I read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, I had not realized just where I aligned. Obviously I was aware that my views tend to be colored with the politics of the world in which I find myself. Having studied some sociology I knew and could interpret things with that lens, as well. What I knew about economics, however, had never given me (that I know of) a different vantage point on history. Until now.

I read through a number of the one star reviews, as is my habit. I like to see what folks have to say who may not be a fan of leftist thought. Let's face it: There's thought (so-called "critical thinking") and then there's blind adherence to ideology. This seems to happen on a lot of levels and is a view shared by many with otherwise opposing world-views. Still, when I read the same old, re-hashed, regurgitated and repeated stuff.... maintaining the status quo, I have to cringe. When I read many of the one star "reviews", I saw a lot of this. One individual who offered quotes from founding father John Adams (among others) rightly pointed out that facts are annoying things. When Ms. Klein put words to paper, she obviously knew this might be an issue. She quotes not only people but documents in support of the argument at hand. Those who oppose her expose on idealogical grounds have often (not always) done so without having given the courtesy of reading the book. Of course, this happens all the time here, on Amazon. Those that have read the book seem to conveniently forget the documents and contemporary quotes of the individuals involved. Unfortunate.

So here's my synopsis (working from memory - I read the book a while ago): Free Market economy, imagined and theorized by Milton Friedman of the Chicago school (University of Chicago, school of economics) in the 50s got it's first real opportunity to prove its mettle in 1970 with Pinochet's coup in Chile. Adherents and followers saw "successes" and shortfalls with this first real-world experiment. The entire southern cone of South American nations experienced similar things, all of which Ms. Klein links through personnel involved to Friedman. They got the okay from Kissinger and the ball got rolling. After South America, then Poland, the USSR/Russia, South Africa, China, and a string of other economies fell into the Friedman fold. He was an advisor!

"Shock and Awe" is followed extremely closely by already laid plans being nearly instantly enacted in order to push through laws and edicts which stood no chance of being passed "democratically". Privatization is the mantra. Donald Rumsfeld was a HUGE Chicago school adherent/supporter who took the idea of privatization to the limit while Secretary of Defense under Bush II, cutting public sector jobs from the DOD with abandon. Iraq's "green zone" was a classic example of a nearly completely privatized entity. A country within a country. Katrina was dealt with in nearly the same manner.

I'll never look at history the same way again. My eyes have been opened. For those of you who will decry my review as leftist praise for a leftist writer... if you're in the 2% and are benefitting, financially, from all this privatization... I can understand you defending it. For ANYONE else, if you defend Laissez Faire / Free Market / or "Trickle Down" economics, you have my sympathy because you are supporting the means of your own suppression. Good Luck!

Pocketson February 20, 2015

Be Ready to be Shocked

This book explains how the CIA bankrolled and encouraged the exploitation and political overthrow of many countries around the world in the '60's, 70's and 80's including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua and many others. It helps one understand how the Neocons evolved into what their basic philosophy remains today. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, played a major role in this evolution and remained unapologetic about the misery that resulted from his economic model of creating change through shock. This book is very thorough and detailed in its presentation and reads like an exciting novel even though it is a factual reporting of real events.


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[Dec 12, 2017] Saakashvii troubles: the reliability of Western support for him in under question

Notable quotes:
"... straight from the lips of Pavlo Munchkin. The west will not react to Saakashvili's detention , and considers it to be an internal Ukrainian matter. So Kiev can make up whatever wild charges it wants, and Uncle Sam will not ride to the rescue. Saakashvili has apparently outlived his usefulness. ..."
"... Well, indeed, it looks like the collective West decided to just say to poor, ageing, clumsy Mishiko "I know thee not, old man!". The ritualistic spitting and trampling of Saakasvhili effigy in the Freest Press in the World (Western one) will commence soon enough. But before that – a quick reminder of what they were saying, before re-alignment of the winds, blowing from Washington's ObCom. ..."
"... "AFTER the Maidan revolution and the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2014, Western policy had two aims: to halt and punish Russian aggression and to help Ukraine become a democratic state governed by the rule of law. America imposed sanctions on Russia, ordered the president, Petro Poroshenko, to establish an anti-corruption force and sent Joe Biden, then vice-president, on repeated visits to insist on fighting graft. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia, and made support for civil-society and the rule of law a linchpin of the association agreement it signed with Ukraine in 2014. ..."
"... In that light, the news out of Ukraine over the past few weeks has been dire. The country's prosecutor-general has disrupted investigations by its National Anti-corruption Bureau, with the apparent consent of Mr Poroshenko. The interior minister has intervened to protect his son from similar scrutiny. Officers in the security service, the SBU, have tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president turned Ukrainian corruption-fighter, only to be driven back by protesters. Prosecutors are targeting anti-corruption activists; the army, interior-ministry troops and private militias work at cross-purposes, answering to different politicians or oligarchs . Mr Poroshenko's government has been seriously weakened. ..."
"... "To some Europeans and Americans, this picture suggests that their efforts to persuade Ukraine to turn over a new leaf were always doomed to fail. That is a misreading. In fact, the recent chaos in Ukraine comes in part because in the past year, especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Europe and America have eased the pressure. If they do not restore their commitment to defending anti-corruption reforms, Ukraine risks sinking back into the morass from which it tried to extricate itself with Maidan. ..."
"... Ukraine's grubby politicians and oligarchs have tried to frustrate Western aims without openly defying them (see article ). Partly as a result, policy under Mr Trump has lost its focus on fighting graft. Kurt Volker, the American envoy to Ukraine, works on external security; America may soon sell the country lethal weapons for the first time. But when the State Department complains about corruption, it is ignored -- because (unlike Mr Biden) the White House offers it no support. As for the EU, few believe it would jeopardise its association agreement with Ukraine for the sake of the rule of law. So, the country's elite no longer fears attacking investigators and activists." ..."
"... "Lay off the pay-offs ..."
"... If they succeed in ending the attempts to fight graft, it will be a disaster for Ukraine -- and a step back for Europe and America, too. The country is the focal point of the West's conflict with Russia. Weak and divided, it is vulnerable to Russian encroachment, especially if Vladimir Putin decides he needs to fire up patriotic Russian voters. Chaos would also buttress Mr Putin's claim that the West's aims in Ukraine are purely anti-Russian and have nothing to do with democracy or the rule of law. All this would undermine the rules-based global order, with consequences in the South China Sea and elsewhere. ..."
"... Now that Ukraine is defying complaints by America's State Department and the EU's foreign-policy arm, it is vital that America and Europe use every tool at their disposal to support corruption-fighters in Kiev. The EU should make plain that the benefits of the association pact depend on progress against graft; America should attach the same conditions to arms sales. Prosecutors in Western capitals should investigate the laundering of ill-gotten Ukrainian wealth. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity should not involve tolerance for the lack of integrity among its politicians." ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Warren , December 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Al Jazeera English
Published on 9 Dec 2017
SUBSCRIBE 1.7M
He was the president of Georgia, then a governor in Ukraine, and now he's in jail on hunger strike.

The arrest, and re-arrest, of Mikhail Saakashvii in Kiev has stirred protests which evoke memories of the Ukrainian revolution three years ago.

Saakashvili's supporters say his detention is based on lies and they want him let go. They already freed him once earlier this week – from a police van.

Tuesday's dramatic scenes saw a former president being dragged across a roof. Police arrested him for allegedly conspiring with Russia against the Ukrainian state. Saakashvili then escaped custody, before police tracked him down again on Friday. The former Georgian leader says his arrest is politically motivated.

But is it really?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Guests:

Alexander Korman – Former Head of the Public Council and First Deputy Chairman of Public Council to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Ukraine.
Sergey Markov – Former Russian MP & spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.
Lilit Gevorgyan – IHS Global Insigh tanalyst and principal economist covering Russia & Ukraine.

marknesop , December 9, 2017 at 9:34 pm
Aaaaand there you have it, folks, straight from the lips of Pavlo Munchkin. The west will not react to Saakashvili's detention , and considers it to be an internal Ukrainian matter. So Kiev can make up whatever wild charges it wants, and Uncle Sam will not ride to the rescue. Saakashvili has apparently outlived his usefulness.

I don't really feel sorry for him, because I've always thought he was a twat and his preening over being the golden child of Washington was sickening. In fact, he probably deserves whatever happens to him, although I expect the west will make some kind of private deal to get him out on the promise that he will stay out of Ukraine. Where he will go then is anyone's guess, since he is a stateless person with no citizenship. But it is significant to note how much weight Ukraine still swings with the west, even though Europe is getting impatient about its hamfisted anti-corruption charade. Kiev just said "Stay out of it", and the west retired smartly.

I think you will agree that is hardly a climate in which Poroshenko will feel moved to do anything much about corruption beyond making a lot of noise and promises.

Lyttenburgh , December 10, 2017 at 12:36 am
Well, indeed, it looks like the collective West decided to just say to poor, ageing, clumsy Mishiko "I know thee not, old man!". The ritualistic spitting and trampling of Saakasvhili effigy in the Freest Press in the World (Western one) will commence soon enough. But before that – a quick reminder of what they were saying, before re-alignment of the winds, blowing from Washington's ObCom.

The Economist (Editorial): Ukraine is a mess; the West should press it harder to fight graft – Lay off the pay-offs
Drama in the streets is a sign of worsening corruption. Ukraine must notbe allowed to fail

Ukraine is a mess? Nooooo waaaaaay! Are you sure? Tell me more!

"AFTER the Maidan revolution and the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2014, Western policy had two aims: to halt and punish Russian aggression and to help Ukraine become a democratic state governed by the rule of law. America imposed sanctions on Russia, ordered the president, Petro Poroshenko, to establish an anti-corruption force and sent Joe Biden, then vice-president, on repeated visits to insist on fighting graft. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia, and made support for civil-society and the rule of law a linchpin of the association agreement it signed with Ukraine in 2014.

In that light, the news out of Ukraine over the past few weeks has been dire. The country's prosecutor-general has disrupted investigations by its National Anti-corruption Bureau, with the apparent consent of Mr Poroshenko. The interior minister has intervened to protect his son from similar scrutiny. Officers in the security service, the SBU, have tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president turned Ukrainian corruption-fighter, only to be driven back by protesters. Prosecutors are targeting anti-corruption activists; the army, interior-ministry troops and private militias work at cross-purposes, answering to different politicians or oligarchs . Mr Poroshenko's government has been seriously weakened. "

That's important part – keep it mind. But here comes the "meat" of the article! Good flunkies of Ed Lukas has found the answer to the eternal question "Whom to blame?" as pertains to the Ukraine and its current woes! Are you ready? Here it is:

"To some Europeans and Americans, this picture suggests that their efforts to persuade Ukraine to turn over a new leaf were always doomed to fail. That is a misreading. In fact, the recent chaos in Ukraine comes in part because in the past year, especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Europe and America have eased the pressure. If they do not restore their commitment to defending anti-corruption reforms, Ukraine risks sinking back into the morass from which it tried to extricate itself with Maidan.

Ukraine's grubby politicians and oligarchs have tried to frustrate Western aims without openly defying them (see article ). Partly as a result, policy under Mr Trump has lost its focus on fighting graft. Kurt Volker, the American envoy to Ukraine, works on external security; America may soon sell the country lethal weapons for the first time. But when the State Department complains about corruption, it is ignored -- because (unlike Mr Biden) the White House offers it no support. As for the EU, few believe it would jeopardise its association agreement with Ukraine for the sake of the rule of law. So, the country's elite no longer fears attacking investigators and activists."

Trump! It is all Trump's fault! Because – surely! – under the watch of the President of Peace B. Obama and gramps Biden no dodgy things ever happened in the Ukraine, noooope! Biden (and his son) gonna defend this PO like lions! This also welcomes nasty question – aren't Mr. Poroshenko himself an oligarch, whose personal wealth skyrocketed since his election? And maybe – I'm not insisting, no-no – having lots of cash stashed in "Panama Papers Fund" precludes him from actually fighting corruption – and not, you know, the election of Trump? Heresy, I know!

But the articles goes from strength to strength, boldly skipping to the "What to do?" section. The solution is as brilliant and though-over as everything else in there:

"Lay off the pay-offs

If they succeed in ending the attempts to fight graft, it will be a disaster for Ukraine -- and a step back for Europe and America, too. The country is the focal point of the West's conflict with Russia. Weak and divided, it is vulnerable to Russian encroachment, especially if Vladimir Putin decides he needs to fire up patriotic Russian voters. Chaos would also buttress Mr Putin's claim that the West's aims in Ukraine are purely anti-Russian and have nothing to do with democracy or the rule of law. All this would undermine the rules-based global order, with consequences in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Now that Ukraine is defying complaints by America's State Department and the EU's foreign-policy arm, it is vital that America and Europe use every tool at their disposal to support corruption-fighters in Kiev. The EU should make plain that the benefits of the association pact depend on progress against graft; America should attach the same conditions to arms sales. Prosecutors in Western capitals should investigate the laundering of ill-gotten Ukrainian wealth. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity should not involve tolerance for the lack of integrity among its politicians."

Hahahahahhahahahhahahhahhahahahahaohmysidesarehurtinghahhahhahahahmakeitstophahahha

Nope. Your Russophobia is high (and you yourself dear Western elites are also high most of the time when it comes to Russia) that you will allow this unholy corrupt mess to persist. Because, really, you are not interested in "democracy" and "open society". Not at the prize of people electing someone, whose strings you cannot pull.

At the same time – this is "big: and "respectable" The Economist we are talking about. They smell the fire from the yet unlit tires of new Maidan. They are afraid . They know, that their "Operation: SHOWCASE" of turning Ukraine into a "democratic alternative to Russia" failed. They are in denial.

Oh, how sweet!

Cortes , December 10, 2017 at 2:08 am
The obligatory "rules-based global order" makes a tardy but welcome cameo appearance like an aging well-loved Thespian milking the audience for a final burst of applause before retirement. Great stuff!
Moscow Exile , December 10, 2017 at 6:25 am
Украинцы проголосовали за возвращение "преступного режима" Януковича

Ukrainians voted for a return of the "criminal regime" of Yanukovich
01:24 – 10.12.2017

Ninety-two percent of the audience of the Ukrainian TV channel "NewsOne" voted for the return of the regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, reports the news portal "Politnavigator".

In Saturday's broadcast, viewers were asked to choose one of two options to answer the question "For whom would you vote: for the last criminal power or the current one?". Out of 46,686 people only eight per cent supported the policy of the current president, Petro Poroshenko.

On 23 October, the Centre for social studies "Sofia" published the results of a poll in which 79 percent of the population in varying degrees did not approve of Poroshenko being head of state: the answer "fully approve of the President" was chosen by only 1.6 percent.

On October 17, the Prosecutor General of the Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, accused former president Viktor Yanukovich of embezzling assets worth $40 billion. According to the head of the supervisory authority, this was comparable with the annual budget of the country.

Yanukovych was President of the Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. After a violent regime change by means of the Euromaidan mass protests in Kiev and other cities, he left the country.

In the Ukraine, there have been initiated several criminal cases made against the former head of state and his property on the territory of the country has been seized.

marknesop , December 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm
There's a useful lesson there for someone: more than 90% – arguably; we have no way to know how scientific or representative this poll was – of the population does not support the current government, in a country that has considerable and recent practical experience of revolution. Yet the current government prevails with complete impunity, and even flaunts its contempt for accountability. How can these two realities coexist? Is it possible the violent nationalist element wields disproportionate influence, despite all the quacking about its low support in the polls and Russian exaggeration of its extremist beliefs?
Patient Observer , December 10, 2017 at 8:39 am
Can't vouch for the entire web site but this was interesting:

Baiting is the act of deliberately annoying or provoking someone to extreme emotion. When a person baits another, they are deliberately taunting in order to provoke a response from the offender's attack.

If you are a fisherman, it might be fun but if you're the fish -- or worse a worm squirming on a hook, being used to entice a predator to amuse? It's simply not as much fun for people who are the victims of any form of bait and switch attack.

Truly believing the world as they know it revolves around them, they tend to symptomatically behave in ways that are compulsively self-promoting, grandiose, illogical, irrational, egocentric, and grandiose.

Every social interaction is seen as a competition of sorts, with the Narcissist behaving as if their distorted, self-deluded version of any fact, story, or reality is somehow rooted in divine truth (rather than being recognized as a symptom of psychiatric dysfunction and outright gaslighting tales and lies).

The condition -- a personality TYPE classification, rather than an actual diagnosis of illness (per se) -- tends to be rooted in cultural nurturing, for the most part.

http://flyingmonkeysdenied.com/definition/baiting/

Warren , December 10, 2017 at 10:44 am
Can Neoliberalism Ever Go Away?

People all over the world are protesting against globalisation, inequality and selfishness. Democratic liberalism is supposed to solve these problems, but liberalism and its big brother neoliberalism are actually the cause of these problems. Furthermore, once a country has adopted neoliberalist policies it is very hard for it ever to reject them.

https://sputniknews.com/radio_brave_new_world/201707281055961487-can-neoliberalism-ever-go-away/

[Dec 12, 2017] The IMF and the WORLD BANK Puppets of the Neoliberal Onslaught

Dec 12, 2017 | www.mit.edu

Today, September 26, thousands of activists are protesting in Prague, in the Czech Republic, against the policies and institutional structures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These protests are the latest action in a growing movement that is highly critical of the neoliberal economic policies being imposed on people all over the world, including those in western countries. As Robert McChesney concisely describes it, neoliberalism "refers to the policies and processes whereby a relative handful of private interests are permitted to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize their personal profit." The major beneficiaries of neoliberalism are large trans-national corporations and wealthy investors. The implementation of neoliberal policies came into full force during the eighties under Thatcher and Reagan. Today, the principles of neoliberalism are widely held with near-religious fervor by most major political parties in the US and Britain and are gaining acceptance by those holding power elsewhere.

Although the proponents of neoliberalism extol the virtues of free markets, free trade, private enterprise and consumer choice, the effects of neoliberal policies is quite the opposite. In fact, these policies typically result in very protectionist markets dominated by a few trans-national corporations. Many sectors of the economy - ranging from food processing and distribution to the corporate media to aviation - are oligopolies and can be characterized as highly centralized command economies that are only a shade more competitive than the economy of the former Soviet Union. A major theme of neoliberal policies is deregulation and the removal of government interference in the economy. Consistently, such policies are applied in a one sided way, and always in a manner that benefits large trans-national corporations, the most influential entities in policy making. Hence, within neoliberalism as it is actually applied, capital is allowed to roam the world freely with very few restrictions, yet workers are to remain trapped within the borders of their countries. This serves trans-national corporations well, though for some, not well enough. According to Jack Welsh, CEO of GE, he and GE's shareholders would be best served if factories were on barges so that when workers demand higher wages and better working conditions, the barges could easily be moved to a country with more compliant workers. Another component of neoliberalism is the dismantling of the welfare state. Again, in practice, this policy is applied to the majority of the population, who have to accept cut backs in unemployment benefits and health care, while large corporations continue to receive massive subsidies and tax breaks.

The effects of neoliberal policies on people everywhere has been devastating. During the last two to three decades, wealth disparity has increased many fold within countries as well as between countries. In the US, inflation adjusted median wages are lower today than they were in 1973 (when median wages reached their peak) while the wealth of the top 1% of society has soared. One out of every five children in the US lives in a state of poverty characterized by continual hunger, insecurity and lack of adequate health care. This, after almost ten years of a record breaking economic boom. For the poorest people in the world, the situation has become even more desperate. John Gershman and Alec Irwin state in "Dying for growth":

    100 countries have undergone grave economic decline over the past three decades. Per capita income in these 100 countries is now lower than it was 10, 15, 20 or in some cases even 30 years ago. In Africa, the average household consumes 20 percent less today than it did 25 years ago. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people saw their real incomes fall during the period 1980-1993. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations Development Program's 1998 Human Development Report, the 15 richest people in the world enjoy combined assets that exceed the total annual gross domestic product of sub-Saharan Africa. At the end of the 1990's, the wealth of the three richest individuals on earth surpassed the combined annual GDP of the 48 least developed countries.

The Thistle won't waste ink on how the wealthy have fared since the mainstream corporate press does a very commendable job in this respect.

Neoliberalism has been a disaster for the environment as well. Despite the growing awareness in the late eighties that the rate of fossil fuel consumption at that time would cause global warming and many other forms of unpredictable and dangerous environmental changes, energy consumption has continued to increase at an alarming rate. This has been facilitated by neoliberal deregulation of environmental protections championed by corporate puppets such as Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay. In their continued quest for windfall profits, for example, corporations such as Ford and GM aggressively marketed (and continue to do so) highly polluting sports utility vehicles (SUVs) while ignoring cleaner and more efficient technologies. This was made possible by loop holes in environmental laws allowing SUVs to be sold that do not meet the emission standards imposed on passenger cars. Consumer Reports Magazine (Nov. pg. 54) noted in 1997, that "the growing popularity of SUVs, has helped make the 1997 automotive model year the least fuel-efficient in the last 16 years". Due to the subservience of government to large corporations, these loop holes are still in place. Today, the qualitative predictions of a decade ago are starting to manifesting themselves. The average temperature of the world has risen over the last decade and for the first time, water has been observed on the polar caps.

One industry that has benefited significantly from neoliberal policies is the biotech industry, though not without potentially catastrophic costs for the majority of the population. While large biotech corporations such as Monsanto and Dupont are aiming for massive profits, the environment and our food supply is irreversibly being altered in the process, creating a situation where large portions of the population and all future generations are subjected to potentially severe and unpredictable health risks. As a way to promote the nascent biotech industry, the Bush administration in the early nineties adopted a policy which held that regulations should not be created in such a way as to be a burden on the industry. The Clinton administration has continued this policy, and today approximately 60% of our food is genetically modified. This transformation of our food supply has occurred with scant public knowledge or oversight. And although genes from viruses, bacteria or arctic fish with anti-freeze properties are inserted into crops, the federal regulatory agencies, with heavy industry influence, maintain that genetically modified foods are no different from crops obtained with traditional breeding techniques and therefore do not need to be approved (unless the transported genes are known to induce a human allergen). Studies investigating the long term health and environmental effects of genetically modified crops are not required by any federal agency and are rarely performed. In this atmosphere of deregulation and concentrated corporate control, it is only a matter of time before a serious biological catastrophe occurs.

What does the IMF and World Bank have to do with this?

The IMF and World Bank were both created at the end of world war II in a political climate the is very different from that of today. Nevertheless, their roles and modalities have been suitably updated to serve the interests of those that benefit from neoliberalism. The institutional structures of the IMF and World Bank were framed at an international conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Initially, the primary focus of the IMF was to regulate currency exchange rates to facilitate orderly international trade and to be a lender of last resort when a member country experiences balance of payments difficulties and is unable to borrow money from other sources. The original purpose of the World Bank was to lend money to Western European governments to help them rebuild their countries after the war. In later years, the World Bank shifted its attention towards development loans to third world countries.

Immediately after world war II, most western countries, including the US, had 'New Deal' style social contracts with sufficient welfare provisions to ensure 'stability' between labor and capital. It was understood that restrictions on international capital flow were necessary to protect these social contracts. The postwar 'Bretton Woods' economic system which lasted until the early seventies, was based on the right and obligation of governments to regulate capital flow and was characterized by rapid economic growth. In the early seventies, the Nixon administration unilaterally abandoned the Bretton Woods system by dropping the gold standard and lifting restrictions on capital flows. The ensuing period has been marked by dramatically increased financial speculation and low growth rates.

Although seemingly neutral institutions, in practice, the IMF and World Bank end up serving powerful interests of western countries. At both institutions, the voting power of a given country is not measured by, for example, population, but by how much capital that country contributes to the institutions and by other political factors reflecting the power the country wields in the world. The G7 plays a dominant role in determining policy, with the US, France, Germany, Japan and Great Britain each having their own director on the institution's executive board while 19 other directors are elected by the rest of the approximately 150 member countries. The president of the World Bank is traditionally an American citizen and is chosen with US congressional involvement. The managing director of the IMF is traditionally a European. On the IMF board of governors, comprised of treasury secretaries, the G7 have a combined voting power of 46%.

The power of the IMF becomes clear when a country gets into financial trouble and needs funds to make payments on private loans. Before the IMF grants a loan, it imposes conditions on that country, requiring it to make structural changes in its economy. These conditions are called 'Structural Adjustment Programs' (SAPs) and are designed to increase money flow into the country by promoting exports so that the country can pay off its debts. Not surprisingly, in view of the dominance of the G7 in IMF policy making, the SAPs are highly neoliberal. The effective power of the IMF is often larger than that associated with the size of its loans because private lenders often deem a country credit-worthy based on actions of the IMF.

The World Bank plays a qualitatively different role than the IMF, but works tightly within the stringent SAP framework imposed by the IMF. It focuses on development loans for specific projects, such as the building of dams, roads, harbors etc that are considered necessary for 'economic growth' in a developing country. Since it is a multilateral institution, the World Bank is less likely than unilateral lending institutions such as the Export Import Bank of the US to offer loans for the purpose of promoting and subsidizing particular corporations. Nevertheless, the conceptions of growth and economic well being within the World Bank are very much molded by western corporate values and rarely take account of local cultural concerns. This is clearly exhibited by the modalities of its projects, such as the 'Green Revolution' in agriculture, heavily promoted in the third world by the World Bank in the sixties and seventies. The 'Green Revolution' refers to the massive industrialization of agriculture, involving the replacement of a multitude of indigenous crops with a few high-yielding varieties that require expensive investments of chemicals, fertilizers and machinery. In the third world, the 'Green Revolution' was often imposed on indigenous populations with reasonably sustainable and self sufficient traditions of rural agriculture. The mechanization of food production in third world countries, which have a large surplus labor pool, has led to the marginalization of many people, disconnecting them from the economy and exacerbating wealth disparity in these countries. Furthermore, excessive chemical agriculture has led to soil desertification and erosion, increasing the occurrence of famines. While the 'Green Revolution' was a catastrophe for the poor in third world countries, western chemical corporations such as Monsanto, Dow and Dupont fared very well, cashing in high profits and increasing their control over food production in third world countries.

Today, the World Bank is at it again. This time it is promoting the use of genetically modified seeds in the third world and works with governments to solidify patent laws which would grant biotech corporations like Monsanto unprecedented control over food production. The pattern is clear, whether deliberate or nor, the World Bank serves to set the stage for large trans-national corporations to enter third world countries, extract large profits and then leave with carnage in their wake.

While the World Bank publicly emphasizes that it aims to alleviate poverty in the world, imperialistic attitudes occasionally emerge from its leading figures. In 1991, then chief economist Lawrence Summers (now US Secretary of the Treasury) wrote in an internal memo that was leaked:

    Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [less developed countries]? ... The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable, and we should face up to that ... Under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted; their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City .... The concern over an agent that causes a one-in-a-million chance in the odds of prostate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country where under-five mortality is 200 per thousand.

And thistle thought that the World Bank tried to extend lives in developing countries, not take advantage of low life expectancy.

How do countries get into financial troubles, the Debt Crisis.

The most devastating program imposed by the IMF and the World Bank on third world countries are the Structural Adjustment Programs. The widespread use of SAPs started in the early eighties after a major debt crisis. The debt crisis arose from a combination of (i) reckless lending by western commercial banks to third world countries, (ii) mismanagement within third world countries and (iii) changes in the international economy.

During the seventies, rising oil prices generated enormous profits for petrochemical corporations. These profits ended up in large commercial banks which then sought to reinvest the capital. Much of this capital was invested in the form of high risk loans to third world countries, many of which were run by corrupt dictators. Instead of investing the capital in productive projects that would benefit the general population, dictators often diverted the funds to personal Swiss bank accounts or used the them to purchase military equipment for domestic repression. This state of affairs persisted for a while, since commodity prices remained stable and interest rates were relatively low enabling third world countries to adequately service their debts. In 1979, the situation changed, however, when Paul Volker, the new Federal Reserve Chairman, raised interest rates. This dramatically increased the cost of debtor countries' loans. At the same time, the US was heading into a recession and world commodity prices dropped, tightening cash flows necessary for debt payment. The possibility that many third world countries would default on their debt payments threatened a major financial crisis that would result in large commercial bank failures. To prevent this, powerful countries from the G7 stepped in and actively used the IMF and World Bank to bail out third world countries. Yet the bail-out packages were contingent upon the third world countries introducing major neoliberal policies (i.e. SAPs) to promote exports.

Examples of SAP prescriptions include:

    - an increase in 'labor flexibility' which means caps on minimum wages, and policies to weaken trade unions and worker's bargaining power.
    - tax increases combined with cuts in social spending such as education and health care, to free up funds for debt repayment.
    - privatization of public sector enterprises, such as utility companies and public transport
    - financial liberalization designed to remove restrictions on the flow of international capital in and out of the country coupled with the removal of restrictions on what foreign corporations and banks can buy.

    Despite almost two decades of Structural Adjustment Programs, many third world countries have not been able to pull themselves out of massive debt. The SAPs have, however, served corporations superbly, offering them new opportunities to exploit workers and natural resources.

    As Prof. Chomsky often says, the debt crisis is an ideological construct. In a true capitalist society, the third world debt would be wiped out. The Banks who made the risky loans would have to accept the losses, and the dictators and their entourage would have to repay the money they embezzled. The power structure in society however, prevents this from happening. In the west tax payers end up assuming the risk while the large banks run off with the high profits often derived from high risk loans. In the third world, the people end up paying the costs while their elites retire in the French Riviera.

    It is important to realize that the IMF and World Bank are tools for powerful entities in society such as trans-national corporations and wealthy investors. The Thistle believes that massive world poverty and environmental destruction is the result of the appalling concentration of power in the hands of a small minority whose sights are blinded by dollar signs and whose passions are the aggrandizement of ever more power. The Thistle holds that an equitable and democratic world centered around cooperation and solidarity would be more able to deal with environmental and human crises.

[Dec 09, 2017] Criticism of Ukraine's language law justified rights body by Alessandra Prentice

Paradoxically it was language question which by-and-large fueled Crimea secession and Donbass uprising. Now they decide to step on the same rake again.
If Ukraine strive to be like Canada and the part of EU why do not adopt English as an official language, to defuse the tensions relegating Ukrainian and Russian to the role of regional languages (which both of them now actually are). That will instantly diminish the influence of Russia and thus fulfill the main goal of Western Ukrainian nationalists who are in power after Maydan (at least partially). English is a great, cultural and scientifically dominant language now and countries like Canada enjoy full benefits of this situation. Because cultural and political influence of Russia is what Ukrainian nationalists are most afraid of. English is politically acceptable to them. That also will save money of textbooks and like, especially university level textbooks.
They now actually gave a powerful tool for Russia to further limit economic ties claiming discrimination of Russian speaking population. Not that Ukrainian nationalist care much about Russian reaction.
But Western Ukrainian nationalists have a penchant for making disastrous for the Ukrainian economy moves to feed their ambitions and stereotypes. Which led to the situation when Ukraine is just debt slave nation with limited sovereignty and huge problems due to impoverishment of population and decay of Soviet era infrastructure. Neoliberalism is not a friend of such countries as Ukraine, despite all population expectations after Maydan. They want to milk Ukraine, not to help. and they are very skillful in that as Ukraine probably leaned during 90th. This is what neoliberal " disaster capitalism " is about. In other words Ukraine which previously somehow managed to balance between West and East milking both, moved itself in the zugzwang position.
As for adoption of Ukrainian (which is a beautiful language, BTW), think what would happen if Canadian French nationalists managed to force French upon the county as official language while bordering with the USA (actually like in Ukraine where in western part of the country there are few people who do not speak Russian, there are few people in Canada who neither speak nor understand English)
It is critical now that the population can speak English because the markets for Ukraine now are in the West. Ukraine by and large lost Russian market. Probably for a long time.
Notable quotes:
"... "The less favorable treatment of these (non-EU) languages is difficult to justify and therefore raises issues of discrimination," it said. Language is a sensitive issue in Ukraine. ..."
"... After the pro-European Maidan uprising in 2014, the decision to scrap a law allowing some regions to use Russian as an official second language fueled anti-Ukrainian unrest in the east that escalated into a Russia-backed separatist insurgency. ..."
Dec 09, 2017 | www.reuters.com

Kiev has submitted the law for review by the Venice Commission, a body which rules on rights and democracy disputes in Europe and whose decisions member states, which include Ukraine, commit to respecting.

In an opinion adopted formally on Friday, the commission said it was legitimate for Ukraine to address inequalities by helping citizens gain fluency in the state language, Ukrainian.

"However, the strong domestic and international criticism drawn especially by the provisions reducing the scope of education in minority languages seems justified," it said in a statement.

It said the ambiguous wording of parts of the 'Article 7' legislation raised questions about how the shift to all-Ukrainian secondary education would be implemented while safeguarding the rights of ethnic minorities.

As of 2015, Ukraine had 621 schools that taught in Russian, 78 in Romanian, 68 in Hungarian and five in Polish, according to education ministry data. The commission said a provision in the new law to allow some subjects to be taught in official EU languages, such as Hungarian, Romanian and Polish, appeared to discriminate against speakers of Russian, the most widely used non-state language.

"The less favorable treatment of these (non-EU) languages is difficult to justify and therefore raises issues of discrimination," it said. Language is a sensitive issue in Ukraine.

After the pro-European Maidan uprising in 2014, the decision to scrap a law allowing some regions to use Russian as an official second language fueled anti-Ukrainian unrest in the east that escalated into a Russia-backed separatist insurgency.

[Dec 09, 2017] The West Backed the Wrong Man in Ukraine by Leonid Bershidsky

Poor Ukraine. It is now just a prey of major powers and other neoliberal predators, including transnational corporations. Each wants a fat piece. Looks after Poroshenko "revolt" against anti-corruption bureau prompted Washington to "switch horses during crossing the river" (which is very Tramp-style decision). A new favorite most probably is Timoshenko (about whom they have a lot of compromising material, so she will always be on the hook). When a neoliberals poodle like Aslund tweets " "President Poroshenko appears to have abandoned the fight against corruption, any ambition for economic growth, EU or IMF funding," you can be sure that Washington priorities now definitely changed. Such a brave man telling people the hard truth ;-) This guy would praise Poroshenko to skies, if that wouldn't be case. .. The message from Bershidsky handlers who ordered this "hit piece" is that same -- "The moor has done his duty, moor has to go". Such a hatchet job in MSM like Bloomberg, NYT or Wapo is usually done only under direct order from powers that be.
Re-appearance of Saakashvili with this farce of illegal crossing of the border (imagine this !) on the political scene is probably also orchestrated from Washington.
Formally Poroshenko is accused that he is trying to undermine the work of anti-corruption bureau controlled by FBI. The real situation might be that gradually Poroshenko probably understood that blind following of Washington political line is the road to nowhere and leads to further impoverishing of population. Also "independent" status of anti-corruption buro to a certain extent makes Ukrain a colony with colonial administration. Specifically it give FBI the possibility to persecute any Ukrainian politician. On the other hand Poroshenko also have far right nationalists sitting behind his back and they are probably not too exited by neoliberal reforms Poroshenko pursue. Standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level when it corresponds to standard of living of some Central African countries -- less then $2 a day. It became a "sex shop" for Western Europeans, especially French. Most of prostitutes in Western Europe are Ukrainian woman. In other words both Ukraine and Poroshenko are now is zugzwang situation.
So in desperation Poroshenko probably started making some "unapproved" moves interfering with work of FBI controlled anti-corruption buro (which actually did not jail a single US citizen for corruption). Probably following Polish example of ' disobedience " to neoliberal dictate. A reaction followed.
Charges of corruption is such a classic tool of "color revolutions" that now it can be viewed as just a symbol of renewed attempt to interfere into Ukraine political life. A Washington Obcom dictate, if you wish. Actually corruption a little bit complicates looting of the country which if done by financial mechanisms as it means that in contracts Western companies have some disadvantage and need a local "roof" which negatively affects the profits.
Notable quotes:
"... He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.bloomberg.com

President Petro Poroshenko is sacrificing Westernization to a personal political agenda.

It's become increasingly clear that Obama-era U.S. politicians backed the wrong people in Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko's moves to consolidate his power now include sidelining the anti-corruption institutions he was forced to set up by Ukraine's Western allies.

Poroshenko, who had briefly served as Ukraine's foreign minister, looked worldlier than his predecessor, the deposed Viktor Yanukovych, and spoke passable English. He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. So, as Ukraine emerged from the revolutionary chaos of January and February 2014, the U.S., and with it the EU, backed Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as Ukraine's next leaders. Armed with this support, not least with promises of major technical aid and International Monetary Fund loans, they won elections, posing as Westernizers who would lead Ukraine into Europe. But their agendas turned out to be more self-serving.

... ... ...

After a failed attempt to kick Saakashvili, an anti-corruption firebrand, out of Ukraine for allegedly obtaining its citizenship under false pretences, Poroshenko's law enforcement apparatus has harassed and deported the Georgian-born politician's allies. Finance Minister Oleksandr Danilyuk, who helped Saakashvili set up a think tank in Kiev -- which is now under investigation for suspected financial violations -- has accused law-enforcement agencies of "putting pressure on business, on those who want to change the country." Danilyuk himself is being investigated for tax evasion.

... ... ...

"President Poroshenko appears to have abandoned the fight against corruption, any ambition for economic growth, EU or IMF funding," economist Anders Aslund, who has long been optimistic about Ukrainian reforms, tweeted recently.

... ... ...

Poroshenko, however, would have gotten nowhere -- and wouldn't be defending Ukraine's opaque, corrupt, backward political system today -- without Western support. No amount of friendly pressure is going to change him. If Ukrainians shake up their apathy to do to him what they did to Yanukovych -- or when he comes up for reelection in 2019 -- this mistake shouldn't be repeated. It's not easy to find younger, more principled, genuinely European-oriented politicians in Ukraine, but they exist. Otherwise, Western politicians and analysts will have to keep acting shocked that another representative of the old elite is suddenly looking a lot like Yanukovych.

[Dec 09, 2017] The Loose Cannon the Neocons Wanted in NATO by Patrick J. Buchanan

In no way Mr. Saakashvili is an independent political player, he is just a pawn of some complex gambit against Poroshenko. Who is behind him? Timoshenko, the far right nationalists (that would be very strange), the USA is completely unclear. But in no way he of his own can command loyalty of the crowd in Kiev, this crowd most probably consist of Timoshenko supporters, who were communicated the the "wish" of their leader that "we need to support Mr. Saakashvili, he is one of us". In any case those events are a huge surprise to most observers, who assumes that the USA firmly backs Poroshenko.
Notable quotes:
"... "With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for 'peaceful protests' to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014." ..."
"... And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, "We are all Ukrainians now." Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East. This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms. ..."
"... Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war. ..."
"... These all purpose internationalist revolutionaries who keep turning up here and there like the proverbial bad penny usually have deep state connections. ..."
"... Neocons are a scourge on the planet. Somehow they always manage to stay in control of things even when they make so many war mongering blunders. They must have supernatural help, but not the good kind. ..."
"... "These all purpose internationalist revolutionaries who keep turning up here and there like the proverbial bad penny ' Saakashvili as a latter day Che Guevara? Ha, ha, ha. "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." K. Marx. ..."
"... Expanding NATO was a damn fool thing to do. The Romans couldn't hang onto Mesopotamia; overextension is real. Let's hope we get a leader who will retrench. Oh, and bring back Giraldi. Yes, Veruschka, there is an Israel Lobby. ..."
Dec 08, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Even interventionists are regretting some of the wars into which they helped plunge the United States in this century. Among those wars are Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest in our history; Libya, which was left without a stable government; Syria's civil war, a six-year human rights disaster we helped kick off by arming rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad; and Yemen, where a U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign and starvation blockade is causing a humanitarian catastrophe. Yet, twice this century, the War Party was beaten back when seeking a clash with Putin's Russia. And the "neo-isolationists" who won those arguments served America well.

What triggered this observation was an item on Page 1 of Wednesday's New York Times that read in its entirety: "Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, led marchers through Kiev after threatening to jump from a five-story building to evade arrest. Page A4"

Who is Saakashvili? The wunderkind elected in 2004 in Tbilisi after a "Rose Revolution" we backed during George W. Bush's crusade for global democracy. During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, Saakashvili sent his army crashing into the tiny enclave of South Ossetia, which had broken free of Georgia when Georgia broke free of Russia. In overrunning the enclave, however, Saakashvili's troops killed Russian peacekeepers. Big mistake. Within 24 hours, Putin's tanks and troops were pouring through Roki Tunnel, running Saakashvili's army out of South Ossetia, and occupying parts of Georgia itself. As defeat loomed for the neocon hero, U.S. foreign policy elites were alive with denunciations of "Russian aggression" and calls to send in the 82nd Airborne, bring Georgia into NATO, and station U.S. forces in the Caucasus.

"We are all Georgians!" thundered John McCain. Not quite. When an outcry arose against getting into a collision with Russia, Bush, reading the nation right, decided to confine U.S. protests to the nonviolent. A wise call. And Saakashvili? He held power until 2013, and then saw his party defeated, was charged with corruption, and fled to Ukraine. There, President Boris Poroshenko, beneficiary of the Kiev coup the U.S. had backed in 2014, put him in charge of Odessa, one of the most corrupt provinces in a country rife with corruption.

In 2016, an exasperated Saakashvili quit, charged his patron Poroshenko with corruption, and fled Ukraine. In September, with a band of supporters, he made a forced entry back across the border.

Here is the Times' Andrew Higgins on his latest antics:

"On Tuesday Saakashvili, onetime darling of the West, took his high-wire political career to bizarre new heights when he climbed onto the roof of his five-story apartment building in the center of Kiev... As hundreds of supporters gathered below, he shouted insults at Ukraine's leaders and threatened to jump if security agents tried to grab him. Dragged from the roof after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape.

"With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for 'peaceful protests' to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014."

This reads like a script for a Peter Sellers movie in the '60s. Yet this clown was president of Georgia, for whose cause in South Ossetia some in our foreign policy elite thought we should go to the brink of war with Russia.

And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, "We are all Ukrainians now." Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East. This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms.

Do we really want to cede to folks of the temperament of Mikhail Saakashvili an ability to instigate a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, which every Cold War president was resolved to avoid, even if it meant accepting Moscow's hegemony in Eastern Europe all the way to the Elbe?

Watching Saakashvili losing it in the streets of Kiev like some blitzed college student should cause us to reassess the stability of all these allies to whom we have ceded a capacity to drag us into war. Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.

Kirt Higdon , says: December 8, 2017 at 12:15 am
I'd bet that Saak is a CIA asset who is probably moon-lighting for other intelligence services as well. Israel? Russia? Iran? Turkey? Who knows? These all purpose internationalist revolutionaries who keep turning up here and there like the proverbial bad penny usually have deep state connections.
Mary Myers , says: December 8, 2017 at 12:58 am
Neocons are a scourge on the planet. Somehow they always manage to stay in control of things even when they make so many war mongering blunders. They must have supernatural help, but not the good kind.
cka2nd , says: December 8, 2017 at 6:19 am
Maybe its time conservatives acknowledged that the Rosenbergs did a good thing by helping the Soviet Union get the A-bomb. It's obvious that the only thing stopping our bloodthirsty, mad dog foreign policy establishment from attacking Russia or North Korea is their nukes, just as the threat of Soviet nukes is what kept U.S. presidents from dropping ours on North Korea and North Vietnam. If the so-called "foreign policy realists" – whose forebears have copious amounts of Latin American, African and Asian blood on their hands – ever get back into Foggy Bottom and the West Wing, maybe they could prevail on the President to issue a posthumous pardon for the Rosenbergs and all of the other American Communists who greased the wheels for the Red Bomb.
Michael Kenny , says: December 8, 2017 at 10:39 am
Mr Buchanan's standard line. Vladimir Putin must be allowed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the evil United States. What Mr Buchanan sidesteps is the inherent contradiction in his argument. As anyone who has read his articles over the years will know, his enemy is the EU, which he wants to destroy at all costs, probably because he sees it as a challenge to US global hegemony. In the original neocon scam, Putin was a "useful idiot" to serve as a battering ram to break up the EU and a bogeyman to frighten the resulting plethora of weak statelets to submit to US hegemony in return for such protection as the US vouchsafed to give them. In return for his services, the US would give Putin such part of the European cake as it vouchsafed to give him. Putin, at that point, would, of course, have been an American stooge, logical in the context of US global hegemony. However, by grabbing Ukrainian territory by military force, Putin challenged US global hegemony and as long as he is allowed to occupy Ukrainian territory, US global hegemony is worthless. That, in its turn, will probably provoke a Soviet-style implosion of the whole American house of cards. Thus, in order to maintain US global hegemony by destroying the EU, Mr Buchanan has to destroy US global hegemony by backing Putin!
darko , says: December 8, 2017 at 10:42 am
"These all purpose internationalist revolutionaries who keep turning up here and there like the proverbial bad penny ' Saakashvili as a latter day Che Guevara? Ha, ha, ha. "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." K. Marx.
Grumpy Old Man , says: December 8, 2017 at 11:03 am
Expanding NATO was a damn fool thing to do. The Romans couldn't hang onto Mesopotamia; overextension is real. Let's hope we get a leader who will retrench. Oh, and bring back Giraldi. Yes, Veruschka, there is an Israel Lobby.
ukm1 , says: December 8, 2017 at 11:31 am
Mr. Buchanan wrote: "We are all Georgians!" thundered John McCain.

Will American Senators claim this time around that "We are all South Koreans!" or "We are all Japanese!" or "We are all Taiwanese!"?

LINK: http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/12/06/chinese-state-media-tells-citizens-prepare-north-korea-nuclear-war/

Mary Myers , says: December 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm
Michael Kenney suffers from PDS –Putin Derangement Syndrome.
One Guy , says: December 8, 2017 at 1:23 pm
I'm having trouble understanding why I should care about the Ukraine, or NATO, or this Saakashvili person. Someone please tell me how they affect me personally.
PR Doucette , says: December 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm
That Saakashvili has always been a few bricks short of a full load is not in dispute but to argue that this means the US and Europe should back away from making it clear to Putin that parts of Eastern Europe are not going to be ceded to Russian domination again makes no sense.

Like Premier Xi of China who in now trying to argue that Chinese domination of Asia is justified by some prior period in Chinese history, Putin would like us to believe that Russian domination of large parts of Eastern Europe is perfectly natural because of past Russian history or even on religious grounds. We forget at our peril that Putin was a former communist and atheist and a part of an organization that not only believed the West was decadent and deserved to be defeated but also worked to suppress and eradicate religion. Putin now cravenly uses religiously based arguments to justify Russian actions and would like us to believe he is defending Christianity from Western decadence. We might as well put the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house if we allow ourselves to accept that Putin really has any interest in defending Christianity or doesn't lust for the restoration of Russian domination of Eastern Europe.

Russia may no longer be the "Evil Empire" that it was called when it was the USSR but it would be pure folly to not push back against Putin's dreams of Russian hegemony any more than it would make sense for the US to assume that Russian and China are not going to push back against what they perceive as US hegemony. Conversely we need to guard against assuming that just because a country declares itself to be a democracy that the actions of any new democratic leaders automatically deserves our support and protection. In fairness to Georgia, the Soviets weren't known for allowing deep pools of democracy supporting leaders to develop which unfortunately means that people like Saakashvili will float to the top.

peter , says: December 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Excellent article.
Yes TAC – please bring back Mr. Giraldi – his articles about the hidden aspects of international events are refreshing.

Mr. Michael Kenny – there you go again ranting against Putin!
You remind me of the "Bewitched" mother-in-law.

Senator McCain – do the country a favor and retire.

Ken Zaretzke , says: December 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm
"Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, "We are all Ukrainians now."

The neocons probably won't be saying "We're all Kazkhstans now" in a few years when the long-serving president of Kazakhstan dies without a clear successor and Russia moves in to the north and east of Kazakhstan to crush the ensuing acts of Islamic terrorism and incidentally help protect China's crucial border state of Xinjiang from ISIS, giving Russia the balance of power in Central Asia and thus restoring it to superpower status.

Alex (the one that likes Ike) , says: December 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm
Contemplating the behavior of this gentleman really makes one think that in some cases college student is a state of mind. On the other hand, if wanted to threaten someone with his suicide, he could have swallowed a non-lethal quantity of belladonna berries instead of a dull standing on a roof. Politically the outcome would have likely been the same, but knowing the mental impact of tropane alkaloids, with a hell lot of fun along the way.

Setting this walking curiosity aside for a moment there, I also join those wishing the return of Mr. Giraldi.

[Dec 05, 2017] House Members Tee Up Bipartisan Bill to Kill CFPB Payday Lending Rule

Notable quotes:
"... By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans. ..."
"... The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on December 4, 2017 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans.

Three Democrats and three Republicans have co-sponsored a resolution, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to scuttle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's payday lending rule.

CRA's procedures to overturn regulations had been invoked, successfully, only once before Trump became president. Congressional Republicans and Trump have used CRA procedures multiple times to kill regulations (as I've previously discussed (see here , here , here and here ). Not only does CRA provide expedited procedures to overturn regulations, but once it's used to kill a regulation, the agency that promulgated the rule is prevented from revisiting the issue unless and until Congress provides new statutory authority to do so.

Payday Lending

As I wrote in an extended October post, CFPB Issues Payday Lending Rule: Will it Hold, as the Empire Will Strike Back, payday lending is an especially sleazy part of the finance sewer, in which private equity swamp creatures, among others, operate. The industry is huge, according to this New York Times report I quoted in my October post, and it preys on the poorest, most financially-stressed Americans:

The payday-lending industry is vast. There are now more payday loan stores in the United States than there are McDonald's restaurants. The operators of those stores make around $46 billion a year in loans, collecting $7 billion in fees. Some 12 million people, many of whom lack other access to credit, take out the short-term loans each year, researchers estimate.

The CFPB's payday lending rule attempted to shut down this area of lucrative lending– where effective interest rates can spike to hundreds of points per annum, including fees (I refer interested readers to my October post, cited above, which discusses at greater length how sleazy this industry is, and also links to the rule; see also this CFPB fact sheet and press release .)

Tactically, as with the ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts– an issue I discussed further in RIP, Mandatory Arbitration Ban , (and in previous posts referenced therein), the CFPB under director Richard Cordray made a major tactical mistake in not completing rule-making sufficiently before the change of power to a new administration- 60 "session days" of Congress, thus making these two rules subject to the CRA.

The House Financial Services Committee press release lauding introduction of CRA resolution to overturn the payday lending rule is a classic of its type, so permit me to quote from it at length:

These short-term, small-dollar loans are already regulated by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Native American tribes. The CFPB's rule would mark the first time the federal government has gotten involved in the regulation of these loans.

.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a supporter of the bipartisan effort, said the CFPB's rule is an example of how "unelected, unaccountable government bureaucracy hurts working people."

"Once again we see powerful Washington elites using the guise of 'consumer protection' to actually harm consumers and make life harder for lower and moderate income Americans who may need a short-term loan to keep their utilities from being cut off or to keep their car on the road so they can get to work," he said. "Americans should be able to choose the checking account they want, the mortgage they want and the short-term loan they want and no unelected Washington bureaucrat should be able to take that away from them."

[Rep Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican House co-sponsor]. said, "More than 1.2 million Floridians per year rely on Florida's carefully regulated small-dollar lending industry to make ends meet. The CFPB's small dollar lending rule isn't reasonable regulation -- it's a de facto ban on what these Floridians need. I and my colleagues in Congress cannot stand by while an unaccountable federal agency deprives our constituents of a lifeline in times of need, all while usurping state authority. Today, we are taking bipartisan action to stop this harmful bureaucratic overreach dead in its tracks."

As CNBC reports in New House bill would kill consumer watchdog payday loan rule , industry representatives continue to denounce the rule, with a straight face:

"The rule would leave millions of Americans in a real bind at exactly the time need a fast loan to cover an urgent expense," said Daniel Press, a policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a statement after the bill's introduction.

Consumer advocates think otherwise (also from CNBC):

"Payday lenders put cash-strapped Americans in a crippling cycle of 300 percent-interest loan debt," Yana Miles, senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in a statement.

Prospects Under CRA

When I wrote about this topic in October, much commentary assumed that prospects for CRA overturn were weak. I emphasized instead the tactical error of failing to insulate the rule from CRA, which could have been done if the CFPB had pushed the rule through well before Trump took office:

If the payday rule had been promulgated in a timely manner during the previous administration it would not have been as vulnerable to a CRA challenge as it is now. Even if Republicans had then passed a CRA resolution of disapproval, a presidential veto would have stymied that. Trump is an enthusiastic proponent of deregulation, who has happily embraced the CRA– a procedure only used once before he became president to roll back a rule.

Now, the Equifax hack may have changed the political dynamics here and made it more difficult for Congressional Republicans– and finance-friendly Democratic fellow travellers– to use CRA procedures to overturn the payday lending rule.

The New York Times certainly seems to think prospects for a CRA challenge remote:

The odds of reversal are "very low," said Isaac Boltansky, the director of policy research at Compass Point Research & Trading.

"There is already C.R.A. fatigue on the Hill," Mr. Boltansky said, using an acronymn for the act, "and moderate Republicans are hesitant to be painted as anti-consumer.

I'm not so sure I would take either side of that bet. [Jerri-Lynn here: my subsequent emphasis.]

A more telling element than CRA-fatigue in my assessment of the rule's survival prospects was my judgment that Democrats wouldn't muster to defend the payday lending industry– although that assumption has not fully held, as this recent American Banker account makes clear:

After the payday rule was finalized in October , it was widely expected that Republicans would attempt to overturn it. It's notable, though, that the effort has attracted bipartisan support in the House.

.

Passage in the Senate, however, may be a much heavier lift. The chamber's vote to overturn the arbitration rule in late October came down to the wire, forcing Republicans to call in Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Bottom Line

I continue to think that this rule will survive– as the payday lending industry cannot count on a full court press lobbying effort by financial services interests. Yet as I wrote in October, I still hesitate to take either side of the bet on this issue.

Dpfaef , December 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

I think this whole article is totally disingenuous. There is a serious need for many Americans to have access to small amount, short term loans. While, these lenders may appear predatory, they do serve a large sector of society.

Maybe you need to read: The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon . It might be worth the read.

GF , December 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

Where's the Post Office Bank when you need it. This overturning of the rule is just an effort to stop the Post Office Bank from gaining traction as the alternative non-predatory source of small loans to the people. Most pay day lender companies are owned by large financial players.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , December 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

I agree that's a far better approach and indeed, I discussed the Post Office bank in my October post– which is linked to in today's post. Permit me to quote from my earlier post:

The payday lending industry preys on the poorest financial consumers. One factor that has allowed it to flourish is current banking system's inability to provide access to basic financial services to a shocking number of Americans. Approximately 38 million households are un or underbanked– roughly 28% of the population.

Now, a sane and humane political system would long ago have responded with direct measures to address that core problem, such as a Post Office Bank (which Yves previously discussed in this post, Mirabile Dictu! Post Office Bank Concept Gets Big Boost and which have long existed in other countries.)

Regular readers are well aware of who benefits from the current US system, and why the lack of institutions that cater to the basic needs of financial consumers rather than focusing on extracting their pound(s) of flesh is not a bug, but a feature.

So, instead, the United States has a wide-ranging payday lending system. Which charges borrowers up to 400% interest rates for short-term loans, many of which are rolled over so that the borrower becomes a prisoner of the debt incurred.

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

With phrasing like "unbanked" or "underbanked", I worry that you've bought into the banking-industry framing of this issue, which I'm sure is not your intent.

Ordinary people should not need any bank (not even a government or post office bank) for everyday life, with the possible exception of mortgages. De-financialization of the medium of exchange, and basic payments, is something the public should be fighting for.

lyman alpha blob , December 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

I would consider myself an ordinary person and I pay in cash when purchasing day to day items the vast majority of the time and yet I'd still prefer to deposit my money in a bank rather than hiding it in my mattress for any number of good reasons.

Banks aren't the problem – their predatory executives are.

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm

But there are, or at least ought to be, safe and secure ways to store money other than by lending it to banks or stuffing it into mattresses. Or carrying wads of cash.

For instance, a debit card (or possibly cell phone) with a secure identity / password can already act as a cashless wallet. The digital cash could be stored directly on the device, and accounted for through something similar to TreasuryDirect, without any intermediaries. But this would require the Federal Government to get serious about having a modern Digital Dollar of some kind (not bitcoin, shudder)

Cary D Berkelhamer , December 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Even better would be State Banks. Every state should have one. I believe the State Bank of North Dakota made money in 2008. While the TBTF Banks came hat in hand to our Reps. Of course OUR Reps handed them a blank check and told them to "Make it go Away". However Post Office Banks would be GREAT!!

diptherio , December 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

This is the boilerplate argument that always gets brought up by payday loan defenders, and there is a good bit of truth to it. However, what you are not mentioning is that there are already far superior options available to pretty much any person who needs a small, short term loan. That solution is your friendly neighborhood Credit Union, most of which offer very low interest lines of overdraft coverage. I don't mind saying that it has saved my heiny on more than one occasion. Pay check a little late in arriving? No problem, transfer $200 from your overdraft account into your checking account on-line and you're good to go. Pay it back at your convenience, also on-line, at 7% APR.

Payday lenders are legal loansharks. The problems with their predatory lending model and the damage it does to low-income people are well documented. Simply pointing out that there is a reason that people end up at payday lenders is not a valid justification for the business practices of those lenders, especially when there are much better alternatives readily available.

Vatch , December 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

Payday lenders are legal loansharks.

Very true! There are several web sites that point out how the fees associated with payday loans raise the effective annual percentage rate into the stratosphere, ranging from 300% to over 600%. Here's one:

http://paydayloansonlineresource.org/average-interest-rates-for-payday-loans/

Off The Street , December 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

One frustration that I have with legislation in general, and finance legislation in particular, is that it does not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In my Panglossian world, I envision a financial services bill that lays out the following:

Define the problem
Unserviced people: X percent( for discussion, say 10% to make the math easy) of people are un-serviced (or under-, or rapaciously-serviced) by conventional financial companies, whether banks, credit unions or other, whatever other is conventionally.
Unserviced and don't want: Y percent of that X percent (say, 50% of 10%, so 5%) doesn't want services.
Unserviced and want: 1-Y percent of that X percent (say, 50% of 10%, so 5%) wants services but can not get them. That could be due to various factors, ranging from bad credit (how defined?, say FICO < 600?) to geographic remoteness (no branches within miles, no internet, precious little slow mail service, whatever).

Within that deemed unserved 5% of the population, what are the costs to serve and what are the alternatives?

What would an honest service provider need to provide service, accounting for credit risks and the like, and still make a profit sufficient to induce investment?

If I knew how to make and add a nice graphic, I'd include a waterfall chart here to show the costs and components of the interest and fees paid in regular and default mode. Sorry, please bear with me as I make up numbers.

Regular costs
Interest at 30%
Less: cost of funds at, say, 10%
Less: personnel, overhead, everything else at, say, 5%
Pre-tax profit: 15%

Default mode costs:
Interest at 275%
Plus: Fees at 25%
Less: cost of funds 20%
Less: personnel, overhead, etc 5%
Less: added default cost not in personnel etc line, say 25%
Pre-tax profit: 250%

In that little example, who couldn't make money at those rates?

Extending the notion of APR and Truth-In-Lending to include payday lenders and anyone else without a brick-and-mortar branch who wants to do business in the US, how about mandating some type of honest waterfall chart as dreamt of above?

Then cross-reference and publicize the voting on finance legislation with the campaign contributions from payday people and their ilk, and layer in the borrower costs and credit scores and other metrics in those Congressional districts and zip+4 codes and census tracts and whatever other level of granularity will help provide any amount of disinfecting sunlight to help see the scattering cockroaches.

a different chris , December 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

The problem I suspect is that your "friendly neighborhood credit union" is actually rarely anywhere near the neighborhoods where people who need these kind of loans live.

They don't have cars and mass transit is non-existent or so slow they couldn't get to the Credit Union during business hours, and back again, anyway. That's the problem with expecting Private Enterprise to be a solution for people at the bottom. They don't set up shop where those people live, or the ones that do are not exactly do-gooders.

lyle , December 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

I just checked and a lot of credit unions let you apply for a loan online, (earlier you can set up membership online). So the issue of transport and time is lessened assuming folks have some form of net access.

JTMcPhee , December 4, 2017 at 1:04 pm

One might ask why there are millions of people reduced to having to get ripped off by payday and auto-title lenders, to somehow survive from week to week. Maybe because people can't make a living wage? Can't save any money, however prudent and abstemious they may be? Because inter-citizen cruelty and Calvinism are so very strong a force in this rump of an Empire?

Some of the comments here seem to build on the baseline assumption that's part of the liberal-neoliberal mantra, "You get what's coming to you (or the pittance we can't quite squeeze out of you yet)".

diptherio, I am guessing you may mean that there are models of better alternatives readily available, like paying a living wage, a social safety net for the worst off, a postal bank, national health care, stuff like that. I don't see that there are any alternatives actually available to most real people "on the ground."

Wukchumni , December 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm

There is an alternative to excessive payday loans, but only if you're in the military, where it's capped @ 36%.

Why not 36% for everybody?

diptherio , December 4, 2017 at 1:27 pm

You are, of course, correct in that the underlying problem is that so many people are forced to live on so little that they need payday loans in the first place. Thanks for pointing that out.

My point is simply that in the short-term, as a matter of practicality for those of us who don't always make it until payday before running out of money, a CU overdraft account is a very good option.

mpalomar , December 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Agree. The AB article from October deadpans a description of the ins and outs governing the hellishness of the company town we're living in.

lyman alpha blob , December 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm

This is a far superior option and thank you for bringing it up. The only problem is most banks and credit unions will not tell you it exists because they make a lot more money if you just keep bouncing checks.

I only learned about it when I worked for WAMU. We were tasked by management with promoting various new products to customers as a condition of being paid a monthly bonus which was the only thing that made the job pay enough to live on. Funny, they never asked us to promote the overdraft line of credit (aka an ODLOC), ever. I do remember one of my managers tell me that circa 2000 or so, WAMUs operating costs for the entire company for the entire year were offset just by the fees they collected off of bounced checks etc.

The fees or interest you pay for using an ODLOC are a small fraction of what you'd pay for bouncing just one check. IIRC, if I overdrew by $200 or so and paid it back on my next payday, the interest was generally less than $1. My local credit union has since added a $5 fee for accessing the ODLOC on top of the interest, but it's still much less than a bounced check fee or interest on a payday loan. I believe that depending on your credit history, you can get an ODLOC of up to $2500 or so which pretty much negates the need for any payday loans.

sd , December 4, 2017 at 11:14 am

A friend of mine was evicted from her apartment because of a payday loan. She failed to pay it off in full quick enough and it spiraled out of control tripling in a very short time. I really fail to see how usury is beneficial to society.

RepubAnon , December 4, 2017 at 11:55 am

Yes, there's a need for high-interest loans that bankrupt borrowers:

Mom-and-Pop Loan Sharks Being Driven Out by Big Credit Card Companies

Frank Pistone is part of the dying breed known as the American Loan Shark. Not so long ago, the loan shark flourished, offering short-term, high-interest loans to desperate people with nowhere else to turn. Today, however, Pistone and countless others like him are being squeezed out by the major credit-card companies, which can offer money to the down-and-out at lower rates of interest and without the threat of bodily harm

FluffytheObeseCat , December 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm

I read Servon's book. It is not a brief on behalf of the payday loan industry. She worked at a couple of payday lenders and explains how they serve the communities they're in, but a few things need to be noted:

The business she was most sympathetic with was a small, local one with only a couple of storefronts, in an east coast inner city. The owner and his help knew the customer base, often by name. Much of her sympathy came from her respect for the women who were dishing out the loans at the windows, not the owners and not the business model. This local joint operated like the most benign of old time pawnbroker/loansharking operation from the early part of the last century.

Most "Cash America" storefront shops (on shabby, midcentury shopping strips in inner ring scuburbs across the US) aren't this decent. They aren't "part of a community" in any sense. And the rates are usurious any way, for all of them.

Thank you to Ms. Scofield for continuing to cover this and related businesses. The upper, cleaner part of our finance industry derives more filthy lucre from these kinds of loan shops than they ever want you to know (sub-prime lending shops, title loans shops . there are a lot of modalities for fleecing the poor and the near-poor nowadays).

JTMcPhee , December 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

The NC staff must be pleased that it seems like so many subtle apologists for the looters, predators, "intelligence community," and so forth, appear to be turning up here early in the opening of new site posts. I'm guessing the Elite are not exactly quaking in fear that NC's reporting will catalyze some change that might sweep the political economy in the direction of what the mopery would categorize as "fairness," but still

ger , December 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Raised the dollar definition of middle class and declared a 'new middle class' or could it be 'new middle class' is actually referring to the 'new middle poor'. The former middle class is desperately trying to avoid a plunge into the pits of the 'poor poor'. Payday Loan predators are greasing the handrails.

Matthew Cunningham-Cook , December 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm

"Where will the money-changers change money if not in the Holy Temple? Aren't we starving the priests of much-needed revenue? This Jesus guy is totally disingenuous."

John , December 4, 2017 at 9:32 pm

In good neo liberal fashion that Jesus dude got exactly what he deserved. The effrontry of that guy to chase those hard working money lenders out of the temple square. Got exactly what was coming to him.

sd , December 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

H.J.Res.122 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to "Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans".

December 1, 2017

Sponsor Rep. Ross, Dennis A. [R-FL-15] (Introduced 12/01/2017)
Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20]
Rep. Graves, Tom [R-GA-14]
Rep. Cuellar, Henry [D-TX-28]
Rep. Stivers, Steve [R-OH-15]
Rep. Peterson, Collin C. [D-MN-7]

perpetualWAR , December 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Ahhh ..look at this list. TWO Florida lawbreakers introducing this banker bill. And one from Minnesota. Y'all know that Jacksonville, FL and St. Paul, MN are the two places where the forgeries continue to be provided to the financial crooks? So, it goes to figure that the lawbreakers are attempting to protect the financial crooks committing forgery in their prospective states! How appro.

jawbone , December 4, 2017 at 1:44 pm

If any of these House critters are "representing" you, time for lots of calls to them.

And thanks, SD, for listing them. I always wonder why our vaunted free press so seldom lists the sponsors of legislation when it's reported on . Hhmm .
m .

Mike R. , December 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I have mixed feelings about this specific issue.
The larger issue of a grossly skewed economic system is what needs to be fixed.
There will always be people that lack common sense and brains regarding money. There will always be people that will take advantage of that.
I don't know how or why you would try and legislate that away.
We need to move in the direction of solving the biggest problems and not get wrapped up in the little problems.
The numbers above sound horrendous, but 7 billion in profit on 46 billion loaned is 14% return. Credit card companies are worse. 7 billion in profit off of 12 million people is $600 per person. Alot for poor folks I recognize, but not necessarily life shattering for all.

The "system" loves to wrangle around with issues like this (trivial in my mind) so the handful of big ones go unattended.

nonclassical , December 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm

some have apparently not felt it necessary to bail out family members for aggressive, egregious and immediate interest rates and escalations charged by these scammers

but there certainly appears concerted effort by (likely) shills to perpetuate scams (and to discredit Consumer Financial Protection Agency and Liz Warren )

Warren-Sanders 2020

Wisdom Seeker , December 4, 2017 at 3:37 pm

I think there's an error in the original article, where it says:

CRA's procedures to overturn legislation had been invoked, successfully, only once before Trump became president. Congressional Republicans and Trump have used CRA procedures multiple times to kill regulations (emphasis added)

My understanding is that CRA gives Congress the power to overturn executive branch regulations , not legislation (which Congress already can overturn anyway). Is that incorrect?

P.S. It's sad that it might not even matter. Nowadays the public can't tell the difference between regulations (written by unaccountable, unelected officials who take the revolving door back to working at the firms they regulated) and legislation (written by unaccountable, only notionally elected politicians who get paid off in various ways by lobbyists for the same firms)

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , December 4, 2017 at 8:07 pm

You're correct– fixed it! Slip of the fingers there that I didn't catch when I proofread the post. As the rest of the paragraph makes clear, CRA procedures are used to overturn regulations.

Thanks for reading my work so carefully and drawing the error to my attention.

John k , December 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Finally bipartisan!
Trump loves it
Obomber woulda loved it
She who cannot be named woulda loved it, too.
Time for them all to get over that little spat she did it before trump should appoint her to something useful I bet she'd love secdef

Taras 77 , December 4, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Where is the lovely Debbie Wasserman schultz in all of this? She has not surprisingly been a leading cheerleader for these pay day lender sharks. but hey, what the hey, the lobby money is good!

[Dec 05, 2017] Inside Casino Capitalism by Max Holland

Notable quotes:
"... Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The triumph of gossip over substance is manifest in many other ways. Wall Street's deft manipulation of the business press is barely touched upon, and the laissez-faire ..."
"... Fulminations about the socially corrosive effects of greed aside, the buyout phenomenon may represent one of the biggest changes in the way American business is conducted since the rise of the public corporation, nothing less than a transformation of managerial into financial capitalism. The ferocious market for corporate control that emerged during the 1980s has few parallels in business history, but there are two: the trusts that formed early in this century and the conglomerate mania that swept corporate America during the 1960s. Both waves resulted in large social and economic costs, and there is little assurance that the corporate infatuation with debt will not exact a similarly heavy toll. ..."
"... the high levels of debt associated with buyouts and other forms of corporate restructuring create fragility in business structures and vulnerability to economic cycles ..."
"... Germany and Japan incur higher levels of debt for expansion and investment, whereas equivalent American indebtedness is linked to the recent market for corporate control. That creates a brittle structure, one that threatens to turn the U.S. government into something of an ultimate guarantor if and when things do fall about. It is too easy to construct a scenario in which corporate indebtedness forces the federal government into the business of business. The savings-and-loan bailout is a painfully obvious harbinger of such a development. ..."
"... The many ramifications of the buyout mania deserve thoughtful treatment. Basic issues of corporate governance and accountability ought to be openly debated and resolved if the American economy is to deliver the maximum benefit to society and not just unconscionable rewards to a handful of bankers, all out of proportion to their social productivity. It is disappointing, but a sign of the times, that the best book about the deal of deals fails to educate as well as it entertains. ..."
Washington DeCoded

Inside Casino Capitalism Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
Harper & Row. 528 pp. $22.95

In 1898, Adolphus Green, chairman of the National Biscuit Company, found himself faced with the task of choosing a trademark for his newly formed baking concern. Green was a progressive businessman. He refused to employ child labor, even though it was then a common practice, and he offered his bakery employees the option to buy stock at a discount. Green therefore thought that his trademark should symbolize Nabisco's fundamental business values, "not merely to make dividends for the stockholders of his company, but to enhance the general prosperity and the moral sentiment of the United States." Eventually he decided that a cross with two bars and an oval – a medieval symbol representing the triumph of the moral and spiritual over the base and material – should grace the package of every Nabisco product.

If they had wracked their brains for months, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar could not have come up with a more ironic metaphor for their book. The fall of Nabisco, and its corporate partner R.J. Reynolds, is nothing less than the exact opposite of Green's business credo, a compelling tale of corporate and Wall Street greed featuring RJR Nabisco officers who first steal shareholders blind and then justify their epic displays of avarice by claiming to maximize shareholder value.

The event which made the RJR Nabisco story worth telling was the 1988 leveraged buyout (LBO) of the mammoth tobacco and food conglomerate, then the 19th-largest industrial corporation in America. Battles for corporate control were common during the loosely regulated 1980s, and the LBO was just one method for capturing the equity of a corporation. (In a typical LBO, a small group of top management and investment bankers put 10 percent down and finance the rest of their purchase through high-interest loans or bonds. If the leveraged, privately-owned corporation survives, the investors, which they can re-sell public shares, reach the so-called "pot of gold"; but if the corporation cannot service its debt, everything is at risk, because the collateral is the corporation itself.

The sheer size of RJR Nabisco and the furious bidding war that erupted guaranteed unusual public scrutiny of this particular piece of financial engineering. F. Ross Johnson, the conglomerate's flamboyant, free-spending CEO (RJR had its own corporate airline), put his own company into play with a $75-a-share bid in October. Experienced buyout artists on Wall Street, however, immediately realized that Johnson was trying to play two incompatible games. LBOs typically put corporations such as RJR Nabisco through a ringer in order to pay the mammoth debt incurred after a buyout. But Johnson, desiring to keep corporate perquisites intact, "low-balled" his offer. Other buyout investors stepped forward with competing bids, and after a six-week-long auction the buyout boutique of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company (KKR) emerged on top with a $109-a-share bid. The $25-billion buyout took its place as one of the defining business events of the 1980s

Burrough and Helyar, who covered the story for The Wall Street Journal, supply a breezy, colorful, blow-by-blow account of the "deal from hell" (as one businessman characterized a leveraged buyout). The language of Wall Street, full of incongruous "Rambo" jargon from the Vietnam War, is itself arresting. Buyout artists, who presumably never came within 10,000 miles of wartime Saigon, talk about "napalming" corporate perquisites or liken their strategy to "charging through the rice paddies, not stopping for anything and taking no prisoners."

At the time, F. Ross Johnson was widely pilloried in the press as the embodiment of excess; his conflict of interest was obvious. Yet Burrough and Helyar show that Johnson, for all his free-spending ways, was way over his head in the major leagues of greed, otherwise known as Wall Street in the 1980s. What, after all, is more rapacious: the roughly $100 million Johnson stood to gain if his deal worked out over five years, or the $45 million in expenses KKR demanded for waiting 60 minutes while Ross Johnson prepared a final competing bid?

Barbarians is, in the parlance of the publishing world, a good read. At the same time, unfortunately, a disclaimer issued by the authors proves only too true. Anyone looking for a definitive judgment of LBOs will be disappointed. Burrough and Helyar do at least ask the pertinent question: What does all this activity have to do with building and sustaining a business? But authors should not only pose questions; they should answer them, or at least try.

Admittedly, the single most important answer to the RJR puzzle could not be provided by Burrough and Helyar because it is not yet known. The major test of any financial engineering is its effect on the long-term vitality of the leveraged corporation, as measured by such key indicators as market share (and not just whether the corporation survives its debt, as the authors imply). However, a highly-leveraged RJR Nabisco is already selling off numerous profitable parts of its business because they are no longer a "strategic fit": Wall Street code signifying a need for cash in order to service debts and avoid bankruptcy.

If the authors were unable to predict the ultimate outcome, they still had a rare opportunity to explain how and why an LBO is engineered. Unfortunately, their fixation on re-creating events and dialogue – which admittedly produces a fast-moving book – forced them to accept the issues as defined by the participants themselves. There is no other way to explain the book's uncritical stance. When, for example, the RJR Nabisco board of directors tried to decide which bid to accept, Burrough and Helyar report that several directors sided with KKR's offer because the LBO boutique "knew the value of keeping [employees] happy." It is impossible to tell from the book whether the directors knew this to be true or took KKR's word. Even a cursory investigation would have revealed that KKR is notorious for showing no concern for employees below senior management after a leveraged buyout.

The triumph of gossip over substance is manifest in many other ways. Wall Street's deft manipulation of the business press is barely touched upon, and the laissez-faire environment procured by buyout artists via their political contributions is scarcely mentioned, crucial though it is. Nowhere are the authors' priorities more obvious than in the number of words devoted to Henry Kravis's conspicuous consumption compared to those devoted to the details of the RJR deal. In testimony before Congress last year, no less an authority than Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady – himself an old Wall Street hand – noted that the substitution of tax-deductible debt for taxable income is "the mill in which the grist of takeover premiums is ground."

In the case of RJR Nabisco, 81 percent of the $9.9 billion premium paid to shareholders was derived from tax breaks achievable after the buyout. This singularly important fact cannot be found in the book, however; nor will a reader learn that after the buyout the U.S. Treasury was obligated to refund RJR as much as $1 billion because of its post-buyout debt burden. In Barbarians, more time is spent describing Kravis's ostentatious gifts to his fashion-designer wife than to the tax considerations that make or break these deals.

Fulminations about the socially corrosive effects of greed aside, the buyout phenomenon may represent one of the biggest changes in the way American business is conducted since the rise of the public corporation, nothing less than a transformation of managerial into financial capitalism. The ferocious market for corporate control that emerged during the 1980s has few parallels in business history, but there are two: the trusts that formed early in this century and the conglomerate mania that swept corporate America during the 1960s. Both waves resulted in large social and economic costs, and there is little assurance that the corporate infatuation with debt will not exact a similarly heavy toll.

As the economist Henry Kaufman has written, the high levels of debt associated with buyouts and other forms of corporate restructuring create fragility in business structures and vulnerability to economic cycles. Inexorably, the shift away from equity invites the close, even intrusive involvement of institutional investors (banks, pension funds, and insurance companies) that provide the financing. Superficially, this moves America closer to the system that prevails in Germany and Japan, where historically the relationship between the suppliers and users of capital is close. But Germany and Japan incur higher levels of debt for expansion and investment, whereas equivalent American indebtedness is linked to the recent market for corporate control. That creates a brittle structure, one that threatens to turn the U.S. government into something of an ultimate guarantor if and when things do fall about. It is too easy to construct a scenario in which corporate indebtedness forces the federal government into the business of business. The savings-and-loan bailout is a painfully obvious harbinger of such a development.

The many ramifications of the buyout mania deserve thoughtful treatment. Basic issues of corporate governance and accountability ought to be openly debated and resolved if the American economy is to deliver the maximum benefit to society and not just unconscionable rewards to a handful of bankers, all out of proportion to their social productivity. It is disappointing, but a sign of the times, that the best book about the deal of deals fails to educate as well as it entertains.

[Dec 05, 2017] AFP Calling Americans A Great People Is Anti-American

In reality Ukraine is run by neoliberals. Still this is an interesting propaganda twist. Actually "antisemitism" bait works perfectly well in most cases.
moonofalabama.org

This, by AFP, is one of the most misleading propaganda efforts I have ever seen.

The headline:

Ukraine run by 'miserable' Jews: rebel chief

80% of the readers will not read more than that headline.

The first paragraph:

Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel chief on Monday branded the country's leaders "miserable" Jews in an apparent anti-Semitic jibe.

Of those 20% of the readers who will read the first paragraph only one forth will also read the second one. The "anti-semitic" accusation has thereby been planted in 95% of the readership. Now here is the second paragraph:

Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, claimed that Kiev's pro-Western leaders were "miserable representatives of the great Jewish people".

Saying that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were "miserable representatives of the great American people" would be "anti-American"? What is anti-semitic in calling "the Jewish people" "great"?

The AFP reporter and editor who put that up deserve an Orwellian reward. It is one of the most misleading quotations I have ever seen. Accusing Zakharchenko of anti-semitism when he is actually lauding Jews.

Now I do not agree with Zakharchenko. There is no such thing as "the Jewish people" in the sense of a racial or national determination. There are people of various nationalities and racial heritages who assert that they follow, or their ancestors followed, religious Jewish believes. Some of them may have been or are "great".

But that does not make them "the Jewish people" just like followers of Scientology do not make "the Scientologish people".

Posted by b at 06:51 AM | Comments (76)

jfl | Feb 3, 2015 8:27:41 AM | 4

@1

Saker has a link to the youtube, the audio in Russian with English subtitles. It begins at about 12:30.

@3

When Sarkozy came in AFP really hit the skids. Like the NYTimes and Bush XLIII.

Lysander | Feb 3, 2015 12:02:09 PM | 13
What Zacharchenko did that was unforgivable is to draw attention to the fact that Kiev's current leadership is largely Jewish. From Yats to Petro (Waltzman) Poroshenko To Igor Kolomoiski. No matter how gracefully Zach would put it, it is the content that they hate.

Not saying there is anything wrong with that, but I guess there are some who would rather you not notice.

Lone Wolf | Feb 3, 2015 2:01:47 PM | 20

Right-wing nazi-rag KyivPost has a miserable coverage of same piece. "Agence France-Presse: Russia's guy says Ukraine run by 'miserable Jews'" Zhakharchenko is "Russia's guy," his picture under the headline with a totally unrelated caption, subtitled by the first paragraph of the AFP fake "news" (sic!)"Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel chief on Monday branded the country's leaders "miserable" Jews in an apparent anti-Semitic jibe.", and a link to Yahoo news reproducing the AFP piece in full.

https://tinyurl.com/nes4o9g

Zionazi thieves stole the word "semitic" to mean "Jews," when in fact it comprehends many other languages and peoples. Zhakharchenko's AFP phony "anti-Semitic jibe" would be insulting to all these many peoples.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic_people

"...Semitic peoples and their languages, in ancient historic times (between the 30th and 20th centuries BC), covered a broad area which encompassed what are today the modern states and regions of Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and the Sinai Peninsula and Malta..."

...The word "Semite" and most uses of the word "Semitic" relate to any people whose native tongue is, or was historically, a member of the associated language family.[35][36] The term "anti-Semite", however, came by a circuitous route to refer most commonly to one hostile or discriminatory towards Jews in particular...[37]

Yet another historical theft by the so-called "chosen" crooks.

[Dec 05, 2017] Ukraine: draft dodgers face jail as Kiev struggles to find new fighter by Shaun Walker

This article is two years old, but still sounds current. The only difference now is that the conflict between Western nationalists and neoliberal central government of President Poroshenko became more acute. Nationalists do not understand that "The Moor has done his duty, Moor can go" and neoliberal government of Poroshenko do not need (and actually is afraid of) them.
Vr13vr: "Even in Kiev they view Western Ukrainians as strangers" Historically Kiev was a Russian speaking city. Western Ukrainians typically were called "zapadentsi".
Notable quotes:
"... Even in Kiev they view Western Ukrainians as strangers. ..."
"... So they didn't have any hate back towards the West Ukrainians. Besides, West Ukraine was sufficiently far from Donbass for Russians there not to feel threatened. ..."
"... So the Western [Ukrainians] hate towards Russians vs. Russian neutral attitude towards Ukrainians has existed for decades. ..."
"... "criminalizes the denial or justification of Russia's aggression against Ukraine" with a fine equivalent to 22 to 44,000 USD for the first offense and up to three years in prison for repeat offenders. ..."
"... But isn't it wrong that the faith of those people will depend on what EU or US will allow them to do rather than on their natural desire? How does it co-exist with all those democratic ideas. ..."
"... They key thing in all of this is to stop being naive. Learn it, remember it. Our media will only care for the "right" journalists and will throw campaigns only for them and there will be rallies only over the death of "right" people, while we won't pay attention to thousands of deaths of the "wrong" people. ..."
"... The US actively encouraged the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine, a void filled by right wing nationalists and an act that led directly to the current conflict ..."
"... In turn, the maidan coup d'etat de facto disenfranchised the culturally russian majority in SE-ukr. ..."
"... the NW-ukr neonazi bands fighting in SE-ukr are de facto foreign in SE-ukr, both culturally and geo-politically, and are there to give this majority a lesson. ..."
"... In Zakarpattia Oblast, only 410 out of 1,110 people who received draft notices came to mobilization centers, Oleg Lysenko, a representative of General Staff said recently.(kyiv news) ..."
"... For some reason that isn't quite clear to me, discussion among Western experts has overwhelmingly centered not on the imminent economic apocalypse facing Kiev, but on whether or not the United States should supply it with advanced weapons systems to beat back the Russians. ..."
"... It might be inconvenient to note, but Russia is positively crucial to Ukraine's economy not merely as a source of raw materials and energy but as a destination for industrial production that would otherwise be unable to find willing customers. According to Ukrainian government data, Russia accounted for roughly a quarter of the country's total foreign trade. The equivalent figure from the Russian side? Somewhere between 6 and 7%. Given that reality, Russia's leverage over Ukraine is obviously much greater that Ukraine's leverage over Russia. ..."
"... During the Vietnam War, the draft was a huge issue with many thousands of young men going to Canada, thousand who were in the military receiving less than honorable discharges and still others doing jail time. The war was view as an unjust war by the better educated and those who didn't have to enlist for food and shelter ("three hots and a cot"). ..."
"... The rebellion against the draft in Ukraine tells us that the war against the people in the Eastern area is an unjust war. People don't need a degree in history to understand when they are being use in ways that is not in their interest. We find only the fascist battalion who are hungry for this war. The US and EU should keep out of this internal civil struggle in Ukraine. ..."
Feb 10, 2015 | The Guardian

vr13vr -> jezzam 10 Feb 2015 18:35

The distrust between the West and the rest of Ukraine is not 14 months old. It has always existed. Since the War at the very list. Even in Kiev they view Western Ukrainians as strangers. Western Ukrainians would call everyone a moscovite, and in the East and the South, the Russians were neutral because their lives were much closer to Russia than to all this Ukrainian bullshit. So they didn't have any hate back towards the West Ukrainians. Besides, West Ukraine was sufficiently far from Donbass for Russians there not to feel threatened.

So the Western [Ukrainians] hate towards Russians vs. Russian neutral attitude towards Ukrainians has existed for decades.

Systematic

A new law to likely be approved by the Rada "criminalizes the denial or justification of Russia's aggression against Ukraine" with a fine equivalent to 22 to 44,000 USD for the first offense and up to three years in prison for repeat offenders.

Meanwhile, while the law is not approved,

In February 8 in Mariupol a rally was planned against mobilization. On the eve the adviser of Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said that everyone who comes there will be arrested, "Everyone who comes to the rally tomorrow against mobilization, will be delayed for several hours for identification and after fingerprinting and photographing until released. Let me remind you that I and my fellow lawmaker Boris Filatov has filed a bill to impose criminal liability for public calls for the failure of mobilization "- he wrote on his page on Facebook. As a result, the action did not take place.

http://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2015/02/10_a_6407945.shtml

vr13vr -> SallyWa 10 Feb 2015 18:25

With all the hot headed claims of how the Soviet Union just grabbed the piece of land from Poland, Ukraine has a good chance to correct those misdeeds. Give West Ukraine to Poland, Transkarpathia - to Hungary, and the South West - to Romania. That would be restoring historical injustice.

vr13vr -> SallyWa 10 Feb 2015 18:18

But isn't it wrong that the faith of those people will depend on what EU or US will allow them to do rather than on their natural desire? How does it co-exist with all those democratic ideas.

Besides, federalization may or may not protect them. Kiev may or may not adhere to rules in the future, there will be a tax issue, there will be cultural issues as Kiev will try to Ukrainize those areas subtly - you know those programs that are not anti-Russian per se but that increase Ukrainian presence, thus diluting the original population. Remaining under the same roof with Kiev and L'vov isn't really the best solution for Donbass if they want to preserve their independence and identity.

SallyWa -> VladimirM 10 Feb 2015 18:16

They key thing in all of this is to stop being naive. Learn it, remember it. Our media will only care for the "right" journalists and will throw campaigns only for them and there will be rallies only over the death of "right" people, while we won't pay attention to thousands of deaths of the "wrong" people.

theeskimo -> ridibundus 10 Feb 2015 18:02

The US actively encouraged the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine, a void filled by right wing nationalists and an act that led directly to the current conflict. Now they want to arm a leadership with no national mandate who have ceded responsibility for prosecuting their war in the east to an ultra nationalist bunch of thugs.

I think it's you who should keep up with what's happening. By the time this is over, Ukraine will be no more.

newsflashUK 10 Feb 2015 18:01

Scraping the barrel for cannon fodder by pro-NATO puppet Poroshenko regime: "The draft officers have been tapping men from 20 to 60 years old and women of 20 to 50 years old with relevant military service experience and training. The age limit for senior officers that could be mobilized is 65 years. Vladyslav Seleznev, spokesman of General Staff, said" (Kyiv news).

theeskimo -> ridibundus 10 Feb 2015 18:02

The US actively encouraged the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine, a void filled by right wing nationalists and an act that led directly to the current conflict. Now they want to arm a leadership with no national mandate who have ceded responsibility for prosecuting their war in the east to an ultra nationalist bunch of thugs.

I think it's you who should keep up with what's happening. By the time this is over, Ukraine will be no more.

newsflashUK 10 Feb 2015 18:01

Scraping the barrel for cannon fodder by pro-NATO puppet Poroshenko regime: "The draft officers have been tapping men from 20 to 60 years old and women of 20 to 50 years old with relevant military service experience and training. The age limit for senior officers that could be mobilized is 65 years. Vladyslav Seleznev, spokesman of General Staff, said" (Kyiv news).

erpiu 10 Feb 2015 17:59

The focus on Putin and geopolitics forces the actual ukr people out of the picture and blurrs understanding.

The maidan was a genuinely popular NW-ukr rebellion after NW-ukr had lost all recent pre-2014 elections to the culturally Russian majority of voters mainly in SE-ukr.

In turn, the maidan coup d'etat de facto disenfranchised the culturally russian majority in SE-ukr.

the NW-ukr neonazi bands fighting in SE-ukr are de facto foreign in SE-ukr, both culturally and geo-politically, and are there to give this majority a lesson.

USA+EU weapons would only help the punitive "pacification" of SE ukr, the place that was deciding UKR elections until the coup.

The real festering conflict is the incompatibility of the anti-Russian feelings in NW ukr (little else is shared by the various maidan factions) with the cccp/russian heritage of most people in SE ukr... that incompatibility is the main problem that needs to be "solved".

Neither the maidan coup nor yanukovich&the pre-coup electoral dominance of SE ukr voters were ever stable solutions.

newsflashUK 10 Feb 2015 17:57

In Zakarpattia Oblast, only 410 out of 1,110 people who received draft notices came to mobilization centers, Oleg Lysenko, a representative of General Staff said recently.(kyiv news)

SallyWa 10 Feb 2015 17:51

Ukraine's Economy Is Collapsing And The West Doesn't Seem To Care

For some reason that isn't quite clear to me, discussion among Western experts has overwhelmingly centered not on the imminent economic apocalypse facing Kiev, but on whether or not the United States should supply it with advanced weapons systems to beat back the Russians.

It might be inconvenient to note, but Russia is positively crucial to Ukraine's economy not merely as a source of raw materials and energy but as a destination for industrial production that would otherwise be unable to find willing customers. According to Ukrainian government data, Russia accounted for roughly a quarter of the country's total foreign trade. The equivalent figure from the Russian side? Somewhere between 6 and 7%. Given that reality, Russia's leverage over Ukraine is obviously much greater that Ukraine's leverage over Russia.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2015/02/09/ukraines-economy-is-collapsing-and-the-west-doesnt-seem-to-care/

TET68HUE 10 Feb 2015 17:35

During WW 2 Draft dodging was almost unheard of. The war was perceived as "just", a righteous cause. Thus, men correctly saw it as their duty to take up arms against fascism.

During the Vietnam War, the draft was a huge issue with many thousands of young men going to Canada, thousand who were in the military receiving less than honorable discharges and still others doing jail time. The war was view as an unjust war by the better educated and those who didn't have to enlist for food and shelter ("three hots and a cot").

The rebellion against the draft in Ukraine tells us that the war against the people in the Eastern area is an unjust war. People don't need a degree in history to understand when they are being use in ways that is not in their interest. We find only the fascist battalion who are hungry for this war. The US and EU should keep out of this internal civil struggle in Ukraine.

[Dec 01, 2017] JFK The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy by L. Fletcher Prouty, Oliver Stone, Jesse Ventura

Highly recommended!
The most important part of power elite in neoliberal society might not be financial oligarchy, but intelligence agencies elite. If you look at the role of Brennan in "Purple color revolution" against Trump that became clear that heads of the agencies are powerful political players with resources at hand, that are not available to other politicians.
Notable quotes:
"... Men in positions of great power have been forced to realize that their aspirations and responsibilities have exceeded the horizons of their own experience, knowledge, and capability. Yet, because they are in chargeof this high-technology society, they are compelled to do something. This overpowering necessity to do something -- although our leaders do not know precisely what to do or how to do it -- creates in the power elite an overbearing fear of the people. It is the fear not of you and me as individuals but of the smoldering threat of vast populations and of potential uprisings of the masses. ..."
"... This power elite is not easy to define; but the fact that it exists makes itself known from time to time. Concerning the power elite, R. Buckminster Fuller wrote of the "vastly ambitious individuals who [have] become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery." Fuller noted also, "Always their victories [are] in the name of some powerful sovereign-ruled country. The real power structures [are] always the invisible ones behind the visible sovereign powers." ..."
"... This report, as presented in the novel, avers that war is necessary to sustain society, the nation, and national sovereignty, a view that has existed for millennia. Through the ages, totally uncontrolled warfare -- the only kind of "real" war -- got bigger and "better" as time and technology churned on, finally culminating in World War II with the introduction of atomic bombs. ..."
"... This is why, even before the end of World War II, the newly structured bipolar confrontation between the world of Communism and the West resulted in the employment of enormous intelligence agencies that had the power, invisibly, to wage underground warfare, economic and well as military, anywhere -- including methods of warfare never before imagined. These conflicts had to be tactically designed to remain short of the utilization of the H-bomb by either side. There can never be victories in such wars, but tremendous loss of life could occur, and there is the much-desired consumption and attrition of trillions of dollars', and rubles', worth of war equipment. ..."
"... Since WWII, there has been an epidemic of murders at the highest level in many countries. Without question the most dynamic of these assassinations was the murder of President John F. Kennedy, but JFK was just one of many in a long list that includes bankers, corporate leaders, newsmen, rising political spokesmen, and religious leaders. ..."
"... The ever-present threat of assassination seriously limits the number of men who would normally attempt to strive for positions of leadership, if for no other reason than that they could be singled out for murder at any time. This is not a new tactic, but it is one that has become increasingly utilized in pressure spots around the world. ..."
"... Under totalitarian or highly centralized nondemocratic regimes, the intelligence organization is a political, secret service with police powers. It is designed primarily to provide personal security to those who control the authority of the state against all political opponents, foreign and domestic. These leaders are forced to depend upon these secret elite forces to remain alive and in power. Such an organization operates in deep secrecy and has the responsibility for carrying out espionage, counterespionage, and pseudoterrorism. This methodology is as true of Israel, Chile, or Jordan as it has been of the Soviet Union. ..."
"... The second category of intelligence organization is one whose agents are limited to the gathering and reporting of intelligence and who have no police functions or the power to arrest at home or abroad. This type of organization is what the CIA was created to be; however, it does not exist. ..."
"... Over the decades since the CIA was created, it has acquired more sinister functions. All intelligence agencies, in time, tend to develop along similar lines. The CIA today is a far cry hum the agency that was created in 1947 by the National Security Act. As President Harry S. Truman confided to close friends, the greatest mistake of his administration took place when he signed that National Security Act of 1947 into law. It was that act which, among other things it did, created the Central Intelligence Agency.3 ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

True existence of these multimegaton hydrogen bombs has so drastically changed the Grand Strategy of world powers that, today and for the future, that strategy is being carried out by the invisible forces of the CIA, what remains of the KGB, and their lesser counterparts around the world.

Men in positions of great power have been forced to realize that their aspirations and responsibilities have exceeded the horizons of their own experience, knowledge, and capability. Yet, because they are in chargeof this high-technology society, they are compelled to do something. This overpowering necessity to do something -- although our leaders do not know precisely what to do or how to do it -- creates in the power elite an overbearing fear of the people. It is the fear not of you and me as individuals but of the smoldering threat of vast populations and of potential uprisings of the masses.

This power elite is not easy to define; but the fact that it exists makes itself known from time to time. Concerning the power elite, R. Buckminster Fuller wrote of the "vastly ambitious individuals who [have] become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery." Fuller noted also, "Always their victories [are] in the name of some powerful sovereign-ruled country. The real power structures [are] always the invisible ones behind the visible sovereign powers."

The power elite is not a group from one nation or even of one alliance of nations. It operates throughout the world and no doubt has done so for many, many centuries.

... ... ...

From this point ot view, warfare, and the preparation tor war, is an absolute necessity for the welfare of the state and for control of population masses, as has been so ably documented in that remarkable novel by Leonard Lewin Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace and attributed by Lewin to "the Special Study Group in 1966," an organization whose existence was so highly classified that there is no record, to this day, of who the men in the group were or with what sectors of the government or private life they were connected.

This report, as presented in the novel, avers that war is necessary to sustain society, the nation, and national sovereignty, a view that has existed for millennia. Through the ages, totally uncontrolled warfare -- the only kind of "real" war -- got bigger and "better" as time and technology churned on, finally culminating in World War II with the introduction of atomic bombs.

Not long after that great war, the world leaders were faced suddenly with the reality of a great dilemma. At the root of this dilemma was the new fission-fusion-fission H-bomb. Is it some uncontrollable Manichean device, or is it truly a weapon of war?

... ... ...

Such knowledge is sufficient. The dilemma is now fact. There can no longer be a classic or traditional war, at least not the all-out, go-for-broke-type warfare there has been down through the ages, a war that leads to a meaningful victory for one side and abject defeat for the other.

Witness what has been called warfare in Korea, and Vietnam, and the later, more limited experiment with new weaponry called the Gulf War in Iraq.

... ... ...

This is why, even before the end of World War II, the newly structured bipolar confrontation between the world of Communism and the West resulted in the employment of enormous intelligence agencies that had the power, invisibly, to wage underground warfare, economic and well as military, anywhere -- including methods of warfare never before imagined. These conflicts had to be tactically designed to remain short of the utilization of the H-bomb by either side. There can never be victories in such wars, but tremendous loss of life could occur, and there is the much-desired consumption and attrition of trillions of dollars', and rubles', worth of war equipment.

One objective of this book is to discuss these new forces. It will present an insider's view of the CIA story and provide comparisons with the intelligence organizations -- those invisible forces -- of other countries. To be more realistic with the priorities of these agencies themselves, more will be said about operational matters than about actual intelligence gathering as a profession.

This subject cannot be explored fully without a discussion of assassination. Since WWII, there has been an epidemic of murders at the highest level in many countries. Without question the most dynamic of these assassinations was the murder of President John F. Kennedy, but JFK was just one of many in a long list that includes bankers, corporate leaders, newsmen, rising political spokesmen, and religious leaders.

The ever-present threat of assassination seriously limits the number of men who would normally attempt to strive for positions of leadership, if for no other reason than that they could be singled out for murder at any time. This is not a new tactic, but it is one that has become increasingly utilized in pressure spots around the world.

It is essential to note that there are two principal categories of intelligence organizations and that their functions are determined generally by the characteristics of the type of government they serve -- not by the citizens of the government, but by its leaders.

Under totalitarian or highly centralized nondemocratic regimes, the intelligence organization is a political, secret service with police powers. It is designed primarily to provide personal security to those who control the authority of the state against all political opponents, foreign and domestic. These leaders are forced to depend upon these secret elite forces to remain alive and in power. Such an organization operates in deep secrecy and has the responsibility for carrying out espionage, counterespionage, and pseudoterrorism. This methodology is as true of Israel, Chile, or Jordan as it has been of the Soviet Union.

The second category of intelligence organization is one whose agents are limited to the gathering and reporting of intelligence and who have no police functions or the power to arrest at home or abroad. This type of organization is what the CIA was created to be; however, it does not exist.

Over the decades since the CIA was created, it has acquired more sinister functions. All intelligence agencies, in time, tend to develop along similar lines. The CIA today is a far cry hum the agency that was created in 1947 by the National Security Act. As President Harry S. Truman confided to close friends, the greatest mistake of his administration took place when he signed that National Security Act of 1947 into law. It was that act which, among other things it did, created the Central Intelligence Agency.3

[Nov 30, 2017] Money Imperialism by Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China's mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia. ..."
"... The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today's U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. "Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company's 'expected future profits.' ..."
"... At the center of today's global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity. ..."
"... The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran's secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and '70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor's assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America's status as the world's "indispensible nation" entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees. ..."
"... The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain. ..."
"... The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization? ..."
"... Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable. ..."
"... The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21 st century. ..."
"... wiki/Anglo-Persian Oil Company "In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, negotiated an oil concession with Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar of Persia. He financed this with capital he had made from his shares in the highly profitable Mount Morgan mine in Queensland, Australia. D'Arcy assumed exclusive rights to prospect for oil for 60 years in a vast tract of territory including most of Iran. In exchange the Shah received £20,000 (£2.0 million today),[1] an equal amount in shares of D'Arcy's company, and a promise of 16% of future profits." Note the 16% = ~1/6, the rest going off-shore. ..."
"... The Greens in Aus researched the resources sector in Aus, to find that it is 83% 'owned' by off-shore entities. Note that 83% = ~5/6, which goes off-shore. Coincidence? ..."
"... Note that in Aus, the democratically elected so-called 'leaders' not only allow exactly this sort of economic rape, they actively assist it by, say, crippling the central bank and pleading for FDI = selling our, we the people's interests, out. Those traitor-leaders are reversing 'Enlightenment' provisions, privatising whatever they can and, as Michael Hudson well points out the principles, running Aus into debt and austerity. ..."
"... US banking oligarchs will expend the last drop of our blood to prevent a such a linking, just as they were willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure in WW1 and 2, as is alluded to here.: ..."
"... The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century. ..."
"... It's important to note that such interests have ruled (owned, actually) imperial Britain for centuries and the US since its inception, and the anti-federalists knew it. ..."
"... "After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts." The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler. ..."
"... But they didn't invent anything. They learned from their WASP forebears in the British Empire, whose banking back to Oliver Cromwell had become inextricably entangled with Jewish money and Jewish interests to the point that Jews per capita dominated it even at the height of the British Empire, when simpleton WASPs assume that WASPs truly ran everything, and that WASP power was for the good of even the poorest WASPs. ..."
"... The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI. ..."
"... Bingo. Stopping it was a huge factor. There was no way the banksters of the world were going to let that go forward, nor were they going to let Germany and Russia link up in any other ways. They certainly were not about to allow any threats to the Suez Canal nor any chance to let the oil fields slip from their control either. ..."
"... This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve ..."
"... In fact, this is exactly how it was supposed to work. The wave of liberal democracies was precisely to overturn the monarchies, which were the last bulwark protecting the people from the full tyranny of the financiers, who were, by nature, one-world internationalists. ..."
"... The real problem with this is that any form of monetary arrangement involves an implied trusteeship, with obligations on, as well as benefits for, the trustee. The US is so abusing its trusteeship through the continual use of an irresponsible sanctions regime that it risks a good portion of the world economy abandoning its system for someone else's, which may be perceived to be run more responsibility. The disaster scenario would be the US having therefore in the future to access that other system to purchase oil or minerals, and having that system do to us what we previously did to them -- sanction us out. ..."
"... " Marx believed that capitalism was inherently built upon practices of usury and thus inevitably leading to the separation of society into two classes: one composed of those who produce value and the other, which feeds upon the first one. In "Theories of Surplus Value" (written 1862-1863), he states " that interest (in contrast to industrial profit) and rent (that is the form of landed property created by capitalist production itself) are superfetations (i.e., excessive accumulations) which are not essential to capitalist production and of which it can rid itself." ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Money Imperialism Introduction to the German Edition Michael Hudson November 29, 2017 3,500 Words 1 Comment Reply

In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and "foreign aid" (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

The most destructive fiction of international finance is that all debts can be paid, and indeed should be paid, even when this tears economies apart by forcing them into austerity – to save bondholders, not labor and industry. Yet European countries, and especially Germany, have shied from pressing for a more balanced global economy that would foster growth for all countries and avoid the current economic slowdown and debt deflation.

Imposing austerity on Germany after World War I

After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts. Headed by John Maynard Keynes, British diplomats sought to clean their hands of responsibility for the consequences by promising that all the money they received from Germany would simply be forwarded to the U.S. Treasury.

The sums were so unpayably high that Germany was driven into austerity and collapse. The nation suffered hyperinflation as the Reichsbank printed marks to throw onto the foreign exchange also were pushed into financial collapse. The debt deflation was much like that of Third World debtors a generation ago, and today's southern European PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

In a pretense that the reparations and Inter-Ally debt tangle could be made solvent, a triangular flow of payments was facilitated by a convoluted U.S. easy-money policy. American investors sought high returns by buying German local bonds; German municipalities turned over the dollars they received to the Reichsbank for domestic currency; and the Reichsbank used this foreign exchange to pay reparations to Britain and other Allies, enabling these countries to pay the United States what it demanded.

But solutions based on attempts to keep debts of such magnitude in place by lending debtors the money to pay can only be temporary. The U.S. Federal Reserve sustained this triangular flow by holding down U.S. interest rates. This made it attractive for American investors to buy German municipal bonds and other high-yielding debts. It also deterred Wall Street from drawing funds away from Britain, which would have driven its economy deeper into austerity after the General Strike of 1926. But domestically, low U.S. interest rates and easy credit spurred a real estate bubble, followed by a stock market bubble that burst in 1929. The triangular flow of payments broke down in 1931, leaving a legacy of debt deflation burdening the U.S. and European economies. The Great Depression lasted until outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Planning for the postwar period took shape as the war neared its end. U.S. diplomats had learned an important lesson. This time there would be no arms debts or reparations. The global financial system would be stabilized – on the basis of gold, and on creditor-oriented rules. By the end of the 1940s the United States held some 75 percent of the world's monetary gold stock. That established the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency, freely convertible into gold at the 1933 parity of $35 an ounce.

It also implied that once again, as in the 1920s, European balance-of-payments deficits would have to be financed mainly by the United States. Recycling of official government credit was to be filtered via the IMF and World Bank, in which U.S. diplomats alone had veto power to reject policies they found not to be in their national interest. International financial "stability" thus became a global control mechanism – to maintain creditor-oriented rules centered in the United States.

To obtain gold or dollars as backing for their own domestic monetary systems, other countries had to follow the trade and investment rules laid down by the United States. These rules called for relinquishing control over capital movements or restrictions on foreign takeovers of natural resources and the public domain as well as local industry and banking systems.

By 1950 the dollar-based global economic system had become increasingly untenable. Gold continued flowing to the United States, strengthening the dollar – until the Korean War reversed matters. From 1951 through 1971 the United States ran a deepening balance-of-payments deficit, which stemmed entirely from overseas military spending. (Private-sector trade and investment was steadily in balance.)

U.S. Treasury debt replaces the gold exchange standard

The foreign military spending that helped return American gold to Europe became a flood as the Vietnam War spread across Asia after 1962. The Treasury kept the dollar's exchange rate stable by selling gold via the London Gold Pool at $35 an ounce. Finally, in August 1971, President Nixon stopped the drain by closing the Gold Pool and halting gold convertibility of the dollar.

There was no plan for what would happen next. Most observers viewed cutting the dollar's link to gold as a defeat for the United States. It certainly ended the postwar financial order as designed in 1944. But what happened next was just the reverse of a defeat. No longer able to buy gold after 1971 (without inciting strong U.S. disapproval), central banks found only one asset in which to hold their balance-of-payments surpluses: U.S. Treasury debt. These securities no longer were "as good as gold." The United States issued them at will to finance soaring domestic budget deficits.

By shifting from gold to the dollars thrown off by the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, the foundation of global monetary reserves came to be dominated by the U.S. military spending that continued to flood foreign central banks with surplus dollars. America's balance-of-payments deficit thus supplied the dollars that financed its domestic budget deficits and bank credit creation – via foreign central banks recycling U.S. foreign spending back to the U.S. Treasury.

In effect, foreign countries have been taxed without representation over how their loans to the U.S. Government are employed. European central banks were not yet prepared to create their own sovereign wealth funds to invest their dollar inflows in foreign stocks or direct ownership of businesses. They simply used their trade and payments surpluses to finance the U.S. budget deficit. This enabled the Treasury to cut domestic tax rates, above all on the highest income brackets.

U.S. monetary imperialism confronted European and Asian central banks with a dilemma that remains today: If they do not turn around and buy dollar assets, their currencies will rise against the dollar. Buying U.S. Treasury securities is the only practical way to stabilize their exchange rates – and in so doing, to prevent their exports from rising in dollar terms and being priced out of dollar-area markets.

The system may have developed without foresight, but quickly became deliberate. My book Super Imperialism sold best in the Washington DC area, and I was given a large contract through the Hudson Institute to explain to the Defense Department exactly how this extractive financial system worked. I was brought to the White House to explain it, and U.S. geostrategists used my book as a how-to-do-it manual (not my original intention).

Attention soon focused on the oil-exporting countries. After the U.S. quadrupled its grain export prices shortly after the 1971 gold suspension, the oil-exporting countries quadrupled their oil prices. I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.

This was the point at which the international financial system became explicitly extractive. But it took until 2009, for the first attempt to withdraw from this system to occur. A conference was convened at Yekaterinburg, Russia, by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance comprised Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. U.S. officials asked to attend as observers, but their request was rejected.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking to break free from America's financial free ride.

The IMF changes its rules to isolate Russia and China

Aiming to isolate Russia and China, the Obama Administration's confrontational diplomacy has drawn the Bretton Woods institutions more tightly under US/NATO control. In so doing, it is disrupting the linkages put in place after World War II.

The U.S. plan was to hurt Russia's economy so much that it would be ripe for regime change ("color revolution"). But the effect was to drive it eastward, away from Western Europe to consolidate its long-term relations with China and Central Asia. Pressing Europe to shift its oil and gas purchases to U.S. allies, U.S. sanctions have disrupted German and other European trade and investment with Russia and China. It also has meant lost opportunities for European farmers, other exporters and investors – and a flood of refugees from failed post-Soviet states drawn into the NATO orbit, most recently Ukraine.

To U.S. strategists, what made changing IMF rules urgent was Ukraine's $3 billion debt falling due to Russia's National Wealth Fund in December 2015. The IMF had long withheld credit to countries refusing to pay other governments. This policy aimed primarily at protecting the financial claims of the U.S. Government, which usually played a lead role in consortia with other governments and U.S. banks. But under American pressure the IMF changed its rules in January 2015. Henceforth, it announced, it would indeed be willing to provide credit to countries in arrears other governments – implicitly headed by China (which U.S. geostrategists consider to be their main long-term adversary), Russia and others that U.S. financial warriors might want to isolate in order to force neoliberal privatization policies. [1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

Article I of the IMF's 1944-45 founding charter prohibits it from lending to a member engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes generally. An obvious reason for this rule is that such a country is unlikely to earn the foreign exchange to pay its debt. Bombing Ukraine's own Donbass region in the East after its February 2014 coup d'état destroyed its export industry, mainly to Russia.

Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force adherence to the Minsk peace agreements, but U.S. diplomacy rejected that opportunity. When IMF head Christine Lagarde made a new loan to Ukraine in spring 2015, she merely expressed a verbal hope for peace. Ukrainian President Porochenko announced the next day that he would step up his civil war against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. One and a half-billion dollars of the IMF loan were given to banker Ihor Kolomoiski and disappeared offshore, while the oligarch used his domestic money to finance an anti-Donbass army. A million refugees were driven east into Russia; others fled west via Poland as the economy and Ukraine's currency plunged.

The IMF broke four of its rules by lending to Ukraine: (1) Not to lend to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan (the "No More Argentinas" rule, adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan to that country). (2) Not to lend to a country that repudiates its debt to official creditors (the rule originally intended to enforce payment to U.S.-based institutions). (3) Not to lend to a country at war – and indeed, destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally (4), not to lend to a country unlikely to impose the IMF's austerity "conditionalities." Ukraine did agree to override democratic opposition and cut back pensions, but its junta proved too unstable to impose the austerity terms on which the IMF insisted.

U.S. neoliberalism promotes privatization carve-ups of debtor countries

Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China's mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia.

At stake is much more than just which nations will get the contracting and banking business. At issue is whether the philosophy of development will follow the classical path based on public infrastructure investment, or whether public sectors will be privatized and planning turned over to rent-seeking corporations.

What made the United States and Germany the leading industrial nations of the 20 th century – and more recently, China – has been public investment in economic infrastructure. The aim was to lower the price of living and doing business by providing basic services on a subsidized basis or freely. By contrast, U.S. privatizers have brought debt leverage to bear on Third World countries, post-Soviet economies and most recently on southern Europe to force selloffs. Current plans to cap neoliberal policy with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) go so far as to disable government planning power to the financial and corporate sector.

American strategists evidently hoped that the threat of isolating Russia, China and other countries would bring them to heel if they tried to denominate trade and investment in their own national currencies. Their choice would be either to suffer sanctions like those imposed on Cuba and Iran, or to avoid exclusion by acquiescing in the dollarized financial and trade system and its drives to financialize their economies under U.S. control.

The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today's U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. "Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company's 'expected future profits.' "

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute (6). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith, "Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014, and "Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014.

This policy threat is splitting the world into pro-U.S. satellites and economies maintaining public infrastructure investment and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism supporting its own financial and corporate interests has driven Russia, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into an alliance to protect their economic self-sufficiency rather than becoming dependent on dollarized credit enmeshing them in foreign-currency debt.

At the center of today's global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity.

The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran's secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and '70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor's assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America's status as the world's "indispensible nation" entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees.

Germany's choice

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve. The industrial takeoff of Germany and other European nations involved a long fight to free markets from the land rents and financial charges siphoned off by their landed aristocracies and bankers. That was the essence of classical 19 th -century political economy and 20 th -century social democracy. Most economists a century ago expected industrial capitalism to produce an economy of abundance, and democratic reforms to endorse public infrastructure investment and regulation to hold down the cost of living and doing business. But U.S. economic diplomacy now threatens to radically reverse this economic ideology by aiming to dismantle public regulatory power and impose a radical privatization agenda under the TTIP and TAFTA.

Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies. Instead, the world is polarizing, not converging. The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain.

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization?

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21 st century.

Endnotes

[1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute ( 6 ). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith , " Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014 , and " Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014 .

Priss Factor , Website November 30, 2017 at 5:28 am GMT

More like Dollar Supremacism

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:02 am GMT

"Austerity" is such a misused word these days. What the Allies did to Germany after Versailles was austerity, and everyone paid dearly for it.

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

The Austerity everyone complains about in the developed world these days is a joke, hardly austerity, for it has never meant more than doing a little less deficit-spending than in prior periods, e.g. UK Labour whining about "Austerity" is a joke, as the UK debt has done nothing but grow, which in terms understandable to simple folk like me means they are spending more than they can afford to carry.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:15 am GMT
" The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions "

In the whole article not a word about the euro, also an instrument of imperialism, that mainly benefits Germany, the country that has to maintain a high level of exports, in order to feed the Germans, and import raw materials for Germany's industries.

Isolating China and Russia, with the other BRICS countries, S Africa, Brazil, India, dangerous game.
This effort forced China and Russia to close cooperation, the economic expression of this is the Peking Petersburg railway, with a hub in Khazakstan, where the containers are lifted from the Chinese to the Russian system, the width differs.
Four days for the trip.
The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.
Let us hope that history does not repeat itself in the nuclear era.

Edward Mead Earle, Ph.D., 'Turkey, The Great Powers and The Bagdad Railway, A study in Imperialism', 1923, 1924, New York

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT
Another excellent article.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking t o break free from America's financial free ride .

Nah, the NY banksters wouldn't dream of doing such a thing; would they?

skrik , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

What I said, and beautifully put, the whole article.

World War I may well have been an important way-point, but the miserable mercantile modus operandi was well established long before.

An interesting A/B case:

a) wiki/Anglo-Persian Oil Company "In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, negotiated an oil concession with Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar of Persia. He financed this with capital he had made from his shares in the highly profitable Mount Morgan mine in Queensland, Australia. D'Arcy assumed exclusive rights to prospect for oil for 60 years in a vast tract of territory including most of Iran. In exchange the Shah received £20,000 (£2.0 million today),[1] an equal amount in shares of D'Arcy's company, and a promise of 16% of future profits." Note the 16% = ~1/6, the rest going off-shore.

b) The Greens in Aus researched the resources sector in Aus, to find that it is 83% 'owned' by off-shore entities. Note that 83% = ~5/6, which goes off-shore. Coincidence?

Then see what happened when the erstwhile APOC was nationalized; the US/UK perpetrated a coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh, eventual blow-back resulting in the 1979 revolution, basically taking Iran out of 'the West.'

Note that in Aus, the democratically elected so-called 'leaders' not only allow exactly this sort of economic rape, they actively assist it by, say, crippling the central bank and pleading for FDI = selling our, we the people's interests, out. Those traitor-leaders are reversing 'Enlightenment' provisions, privatising whatever they can and, as Michael Hudson well points out the principles, running Aus into debt and austerity.

We the people are powerless passengers, and to add insult to injury, the taxpayer-funded AusBC lies to us continually. Ho, hum; just like the mainly US/Z MSM and the BBC do – all corrupt and venal. Bah!

Now, cue the trolls: "But Russia/China are worse!"

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm GMT

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions.

US banking oligarchs will expend the last drop of our blood to prevent a such a linking, just as they were willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure in WW1 and 2, as is alluded to here.:

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath.

Excellent.:

The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

This is a gem of a summary.:

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century.

Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. It's important to note that such interests have ruled (owned, actually) imperial Britain for centuries and the US since its inception, and the anti-federalists knew it.

Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain.

You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies [ ed comment: the money grubbers ]

Patrick Henry June 5 and 7, 1788―1788-1789 Petersburg, Virginia edition of the Debates and other Proceedings . . . Of the Virginia Convention of 1788

The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d'état.

It had been drafted, in the first place, by men representing special economic interests. Four-fifths of them were public creditors, one-third were land speculators, and one-fifth represented interests in shipping, manufacturing, and merchandising. Most of them were lawyers. Not one of them represented the interest of production -- Vilescit origine tali.

- Albert Jay Nock [Excerpted from chapter 5 of Albert Jay Nock's Jefferson, published in 1926]

Biff , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT
The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else. May you live in interesting times.
Jake , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm GMT
"After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts." The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler.

But they didn't invent anything. They learned from their WASP forebears in the British Empire, whose banking back to Oliver Cromwell had become inextricably entangled with Jewish money and Jewish interests to the point that Jews per capita dominated it even at the height of the British Empire, when simpleton WASPs assume that WASPs truly ran everything, and that WASP power was for the good of even the poorest WASPs.

Joe Hide , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm GMT
To Michael Hudson,
Great article. Evidence based, factually argued, enjoyably readable.
Replacements for the dollar dominated financial system are well into development. Digital dollars, credit cards, paypal, stock and currency exchange online platforms, and perhaps most intriguing The exponential rise of Bitcoin and similar crypto-currencies.

The internet is also exponentially exposing the screwing we peasants have been getting by the psychopath, narcissistic, hedonistic, predatory lenders and controllers. Next comes the widespread, easily usable, and inexpensive cell phone apps, social media exposures, alternative websites (like Unz.com), and other technologies that will quickly identify every lying, evil, jerk so they can be neutrilized / avoided

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT

"Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies."

I must be old; the economic textbooks I had did explain the benefits of freer trade among nations using Ricardo and Trade Indifference Curves, but didn't prescribe any one political system being fostered by or even necessary for the benefits of international trade to be reaped.

Astuteobservor II , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm GMT
to be honest, this way of running things only need to last for 10-20 more years before automation will replace 800 million jobs. then we will have a few trillionaire overlords unless true AI comes online. by that point nothing matters as we will become zoo animals.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

That's true and the criminals do similar asset stripping to their own as well, through various means.

It's always the big criminals against the rest of us.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.

Bingo. Stopping it was a huge factor. There was no way the banksters of the world were going to let that go forward, nor were they going to let Germany and Russia link up in any other ways. They certainly were not about to allow any threats to the Suez Canal nor any chance to let the oil fields slip from their control either.

The wars were also instigated to prevent either Germany or Russia having control of, and free access to warm water ports and the wars also were an excuse to steal vast amounts of wealth from both Germany and Russia through various means.

All pious and pompous pretexts aside, economics was the motive for (the) war (s), and the issues are not settled to this day. I.e., it's the same class of monstrously insatiable criminals who want everything for themselves who're causing the major troubles of the day.

Unfortunately, as long as we have SoB's who're eager to sacrifice our blood and treasure for their benfit, things will never change.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else.

May you live in interesting times.

The golden rule is for dreamers, unfortunately. Those who control paper money rule, and your wish has been granted; we live in times that are both interesting and fascinating, but are nevertheless the same old thing. Only the particular particulars have changed.

Michael Kenny , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm GMT
Essentially, the anti-EU and anti-euro line that Professor Hudson has being pushing for years, which has now morphed into a pro-Putin line as the anti-EU faction in the US have sought to use Putin as a "useful idiot" to destroy the EU. Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice of someone who has never concealed his hostility to the EU's very existence: note the use of the racist slur "PIIGS" to refer to certain EU Member States. Thus, Professor Hudson is simply pushing the "let Putin win in Ukraine" line dressed up in fine-sounding economic jargon.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm GMT

Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter

None of it rally matters anyway, no matter how valid. To paraphrase Thucydides, the money grubbers do what they want and the rest of us are forced to suck it up and limp along.

and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice

I doubt that that's Hudson's intent in writing the article. I see it as his attempt to explain the situation to those of us who care about them even though our concern is pretty much useless.

I do thank him for taking the time to pen this stuff which I consider worthwhile and high quality.

Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
That sounds good but social media is the weapon of choice in the EU too. Lot's of kids know and love Hudson. Any half capable writer who empathetically explains why you're getting fucked is going to have some followers. Watering, nutrition, weeding. Before too long you'll be on the Eurail to your destination.
Wally , Website Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm GMT
@Jake

said: "The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler." If true, so what? That's a classic example of 'garbage in, garbage out'. http://www.codoh.com

nickels , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

In fact, this is exactly how it was supposed to work. The wave of liberal democracies was precisely to overturn the monarchies, which were the last bulwark protecting the people from the full tyranny of the financiers, who were, by nature, one-world internationalists.

William McAdoo , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm GMT
The real problem with this is that any form of monetary arrangement involves an implied trusteeship, with obligations on, as well as benefits for, the trustee. The US is so abusing its trusteeship through the continual use of an irresponsible sanctions regime that it risks a good portion of the world economy abandoning its system for someone else's, which may be perceived to be run more responsibility. The disaster scenario would be the US having therefore in the future to access that other system to purchase oil or minerals, and having that system do to us what we previously did to them -- sanction us out.

The proper use by the US of its controlled system thus should be a defensive one -- mainly to act so fairly to all players that it, not someone else, remains in control of the dominant worldwide exchange system. This sensible course of conduct, unfortunately, is not being pursued by the US.

joe webb , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 10:11 pm GMT
there is fuzzy, and then there is very fuzzy, and then there is the fuzziness compounded many-fold. The latter is this article.

Here from wiki: "

" Marx believed that capitalism was inherently built upon practices of usury and thus inevitably leading to the separation of society into two classes: one composed of those who produce value and the other, which feeds upon the first one. In "Theories of Surplus Value" (written 1862-1863), he states " that interest (in contrast to industrial profit) and rent (that is the form of landed property created by capitalist production itself) are superfetations (i.e., excessive accumulations) which are not essential to capitalist production and of which it can rid itself."

Wiki goes on to identify "rentier" as used by Marx, to be the same thing as "capitalists." What the above quotation says is that capitalism CAN rid itself of genuine rent capital. First, the feudal rents that were extracted by landowners were NOT part of a free market system. Serfdom was only one part of unfree conditions. A general condition of anarchy in rules and laws by petty principalities characteristic of feudalism, both contained commerce and human beings. There was no freedom, political or economic.

The conflation (collapsing) of rents and interest is a Marxist error which expands into complete nonsense when a competitive economy has replaced feudal conditions. ON top of that, profits from a business, firm, or industrial enterprise are NOT rents.

Any marxist is a fool to pretend otherwise, and is just another ideological (False consciousness ) fanatic.

... ... ...

Wally, Next New Comment December 1, 2017 at 1:49 am GMT
@Michael Kenny

Indeed, Putin should be praised & supported. But where is the proof that 'Russia & Trump colluded to get Trump elected'? You also ignore the overwhelming Crimean support for returning to Russia. And you won't like this at all: Trump Declares "National Day for the Victims of Communism." https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/11/07/national-day-victims-communism Hence, the Liars of the scamming "Holocau$t Industry" go crazy: https://www.salon.com/2017/11/07/trumps-national-day-for-the-victims-of-communism-is-opposite-of-holocaust-statement/

ThreeCranes , December 1, 2017 at 3:34 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

Germany loans money back to the poorer nations who buy her exports just as China loans money to the United States (they purchase roughly a third of our Treasury bonds) so that Americans can continue to buy Chinese manufactured goods.

The role to be played by the USA in the "new world order" is that of being the farmer to the world. The meticulous Asians will make stuff.

The problem with this is that it is based on 19th century notions of manufacturing. Technique today is vastly more complicated than it was in the 1820′s and a nation must do everything in its power to protect and nurture its manufacturing and scientific excellence. In the United States we have been giving this away to our competitors. We educate their children at our taxpayer's expense and they take the knowledge gained back to their native countries where, with state subsidies, they build factories that put Americans out of work. We fall further and further behind.

[Nov 30, 2017] Heritage Foundation + the War Industry What a Pair The American Conservative by Paul Gottfried

Highly recommended!
Heritage Foundation is just a neocon swamp filled with "national security parasites". What you can expect from them ?
Notable quotes:
"... National Review ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
According to recent reports the Heritage Foundation, clearly the most established and many would say politically influential conservative think tank in Washington, is considering David Trulio, Lockheed Martin vice president and longtime lobbyist for the defense industry, to be its next president. While Heritage's connection to Washington's sprawling national security industry is already well-established, naming Trulio as its president might be seen as gilding the lily.

If anything, reading this report made me more aware of the degree to which the "conservative policy community" in Washington depends on the whims and interests of particular donors.

And this relationship is apparently no longer something to be concealed or embarrassed by. One can now be open about being in the pocket of the defense industry. Trulio's potential elevation to Heritage president at what we can assume will be an astronomical salary, will no doubt grease the already well-oiled pipeline of funds from major contractors to this "conservative" foundation, which already operates with an annual disclosed budget of almost $100 million.

A 2009 Heritage Foundation report, " Maintaining the Superiority of America's Defense Industrial Base ," called for further government investment in aircraft weaponry for "ensuring a superior fighting force" and "sustaining international stability." In 2011, senior national security fellow James Carafano wrote " Five Steps to Defend America's Industrial Defense Base ," which complained about a "fifty billion dollar under-procurement by the Pentagon" for buying new weaponry. In 2016, Heritage made the case for several years of reinvestment to get the military back on "sound footing," with an increase in fiscal year 2016 described as "an encouraging start."

These special pleas pose a question: which came first, Heritage's heavy dependence on funds from defense giants, or the foundation's belief that unless we steadily increase our military arsenal we'll be endangering "international stability"? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle: someone who is predisposed to go in a certain direction may be more inclined to do so if he is being rewarded in return. Incidentally, the 2009 position paper seems to be directing the government to throw more taxpayer dollars to Boeing than to its competitor Lockheed. But it seems both defense giants have landed a joint contract this year to produce a new submersible for the Navy, so it may no longer be necessary to pick sides on that one at least. No doubt both corporations will continue to look after Heritage, which will predictably call for further increases, whether they be in aerospace or shipbuilding.

Although one needn't reduce everything to dollars and cents, if we're looking at the issues Heritage and other likeminded foundations are likely to push today, it's far more probable they'll be emphasizing the national security state rather than, say, opposition to gay marriage or the defense of traditional gender roles. There's lots more money to be made advocating for the former rather than the latter. In May 2013, Heritage sponsored a formal debate between "two conservatives" and "two liberals" on the issue of defense spending, with Heritage and National Review presenting the "conservative" side. I wondered as I listened to part of this verbal battle why is was considered "conservative" to call for burdening American taxpayers with massive increases in the purchase of Pentagon weaponry and planes that take 17 years to get off the ground.

Like American higher education, Conservatism Inc. is very big business. Whatever else it's about rates a very far second to keeping the money flowing. "Conservative" positions are often simply causes for which foundations and media enterprises that have the word "conservative" attached to them are paid to represent. It is the label carried by an institution or publication, not necessarily the position it takes, that makes what NR or Heritage advocates "conservative."

In any event, Mr. Trulio won't have to travel far if he takes the Heritage helm. He and his corporation are already ensconced only a few miles away from Heritage's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters, if the information provided by Lockheed Martin is correct. It says: "Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services." A company like that can certainly afford to underwrite a think tank -- if the price is right.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for twenty-five years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale PhD. He writes for many websites and scholarly journals and is the author of thirteen books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents . His books have been translated into multiple languages and seem to enjoy special success in Eastern Europe.

[Nov 30, 2017] Money Imperialism by Michael Hudson

Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Money Imperialism Introduction to the German Edition Michael Hudson November 29, 2017 3,500 Words 1 Comment Reply

In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and "foreign aid" (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

The most destructive fiction of international finance is that all debts can be paid, and indeed should be paid, even when this tears economies apart by forcing them into austerity – to save bondholders, not labor and industry. Yet European countries, and especially Germany, have shied from pressing for a more balanced global economy that would foster growth for all countries and avoid the current economic slowdown and debt deflation.

Imposing austerity on Germany after World War I

After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts. Headed by John Maynard Keynes, British diplomats sought to clean their hands of responsibility for the consequences by promising that all the money they received from Germany would simply be forwarded to the U.S. Treasury.

The sums were so unpayably high that Germany was driven into austerity and collapse. The nation suffered hyperinflation as the Reichsbank printed marks to throw onto the foreign exchange also were pushed into financial collapse. The debt deflation was much like that of Third World debtors a generation ago, and today's southern European PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

In a pretense that the reparations and Inter-Ally debt tangle could be made solvent, a triangular flow of payments was facilitated by a convoluted U.S. easy-money policy. American investors sought high returns by buying German local bonds; German municipalities turned over the dollars they received to the Reichsbank for domestic currency; and the Reichsbank used this foreign exchange to pay reparations to Britain and other Allies, enabling these countries to pay the United States what it demanded.

But solutions based on attempts to keep debts of such magnitude in place by lending debtors the money to pay can only be temporary. The U.S. Federal Reserve sustained this triangular flow by holding down U.S. interest rates. This made it attractive for American investors to buy German municipal bonds and other high-yielding debts. It also deterred Wall Street from drawing funds away from Britain, which would have driven its economy deeper into austerity after the General Strike of 1926. But domestically, low U.S. interest rates and easy credit spurred a real estate bubble, followed by a stock market bubble that burst in 1929. The triangular flow of payments broke down in 1931, leaving a legacy of debt deflation burdening the U.S. and European economies. The Great Depression lasted until outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Planning for the postwar period took shape as the war neared its end. U.S. diplomats had learned an important lesson. This time there would be no arms debts or reparations. The global financial system would be stabilized – on the basis of gold, and on creditor-oriented rules. By the end of the 1940s the United States held some 75 percent of the world's monetary gold stock. That established the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency, freely convertible into gold at the 1933 parity of $35 an ounce.

It also implied that once again, as in the 1920s, European balance-of-payments deficits would have to be financed mainly by the United States. Recycling of official government credit was to be filtered via the IMF and World Bank, in which U.S. diplomats alone had veto power to reject policies they found not to be in their national interest. International financial "stability" thus became a global control mechanism – to maintain creditor-oriented rules centered in the United States.

To obtain gold or dollars as backing for their own domestic monetary systems, other countries had to follow the trade and investment rules laid down by the United States. These rules called for relinquishing control over capital movements or restrictions on foreign takeovers of natural resources and the public domain as well as local industry and banking systems.

By 1950 the dollar-based global economic system had become increasingly untenable. Gold continued flowing to the United States, strengthening the dollar – until the Korean War reversed matters. From 1951 through 1971 the United States ran a deepening balance-of-payments deficit, which stemmed entirely from overseas military spending. (Private-sector trade and investment was steadily in balance.)

U.S. Treasury debt replaces the gold exchange standard

The foreign military spending that helped return American gold to Europe became a flood as the Vietnam War spread across Asia after 1962. The Treasury kept the dollar's exchange rate stable by selling gold via the London Gold Pool at $35 an ounce. Finally, in August 1971, President Nixon stopped the drain by closing the Gold Pool and halting gold convertibility of the dollar.

There was no plan for what would happen next. Most observers viewed cutting the dollar's link to gold as a defeat for the United States. It certainly ended the postwar financial order as designed in 1944. But what happened next was just the reverse of a defeat. No longer able to buy gold after 1971 (without inciting strong U.S. disapproval), central banks found only one asset in which to hold their balance-of-payments surpluses: U.S. Treasury debt. These securities no longer were "as good as gold." The United States issued them at will to finance soaring domestic budget deficits.

By shifting from gold to the dollars thrown off by the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, the foundation of global monetary reserves came to be dominated by the U.S. military spending that continued to flood foreign central banks with surplus dollars. America's balance-of-payments deficit thus supplied the dollars that financed its domestic budget deficits and bank credit creation – via foreign central banks recycling U.S. foreign spending back to the U.S. Treasury.

In effect, foreign countries have been taxed without representation over how their loans to the U.S. Government are employed. European central banks were not yet prepared to create their own sovereign wealth funds to invest their dollar inflows in foreign stocks or direct ownership of businesses. They simply used their trade and payments surpluses to finance the U.S. budget deficit. This enabled the Treasury to cut domestic tax rates, above all on the highest income brackets.

U.S. monetary imperialism confronted European and Asian central banks with a dilemma that remains today: If they do not turn around and buy dollar assets, their currencies will rise against the dollar. Buying U.S. Treasury securities is the only practical way to stabilize their exchange rates – and in so doing, to prevent their exports from rising in dollar terms and being priced out of dollar-area markets.

The system may have developed without foresight, but quickly became deliberate. My book Super Imperialism sold best in the Washington DC area, and I was given a large contract through the Hudson Institute to explain to the Defense Department exactly how this extractive financial system worked. I was brought to the White House to explain it, and U.S. geostrategists used my book as a how-to-do-it manual (not my original intention).

Attention soon focused on the oil-exporting countries. After the U.S. quadrupled its grain export prices shortly after the 1971 gold suspension, the oil-exporting countries quadrupled their oil prices. I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.

This was the point at which the international financial system became explicitly extractive. But it took until 2009, for the first attempt to withdraw from this system to occur. A conference was convened at Yekaterinburg, Russia, by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance comprised Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. U.S. officials asked to attend as observers, but their request was rejected.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking to break free from America's financial free ride.

The IMF changes its rules to isolate Russia and China

Aiming to isolate Russia and China, the Obama Administration's confrontational diplomacy has drawn the Bretton Woods institutions more tightly under US/NATO control. In so doing, it is disrupting the linkages put in place after World War II.

The U.S. plan was to hurt Russia's economy so much that it would be ripe for regime change ("color revolution"). But the effect was to drive it eastward, away from Western Europe to consolidate its long-term relations with China and Central Asia. Pressing Europe to shift its oil and gas purchases to U.S. allies, U.S. sanctions have disrupted German and other European trade and investment with Russia and China. It also has meant lost opportunities for European farmers, other exporters and investors – and a flood of refugees from failed post-Soviet states drawn into the NATO orbit, most recently Ukraine.

To U.S. strategists, what made changing IMF rules urgent was Ukraine's $3 billion debt falling due to Russia's National Wealth Fund in December 2015. The IMF had long withheld credit to countries refusing to pay other governments. This policy aimed primarily at protecting the financial claims of the U.S. Government, which usually played a lead role in consortia with other governments and U.S. banks. But under American pressure the IMF changed its rules in January 2015. Henceforth, it announced, it would indeed be willing to provide credit to countries in arrears other governments – implicitly headed by China (which U.S. geostrategists consider to be their main long-term adversary), Russia and others that U.S. financial warriors might want to isolate in order to force neoliberal privatization policies. [1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

Article I of the IMF's 1944-45 founding charter prohibits it from lending to a member engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes generally. An obvious reason for this rule is that such a country is unlikely to earn the foreign exchange to pay its debt. Bombing Ukraine's own Donbass region in the East after its February 2014 coup d'état destroyed its export industry, mainly to Russia.

Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force adherence to the Minsk peace agreements, but U.S. diplomacy rejected that opportunity. When IMF head Christine Lagarde made a new loan to Ukraine in spring 2015, she merely expressed a verbal hope for peace. Ukrainian President Porochenko announced the next day that he would step up his civil war against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. One and a half-billion dollars of the IMF loan were given to banker Ihor Kolomoiski and disappeared offshore, while the oligarch used his domestic money to finance an anti-Donbass army. A million refugees were driven east into Russia; others fled west via Poland as the economy and Ukraine's currency plunged.

The IMF broke four of its rules by lending to Ukraine: (1) Not to lend to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan (the "No More Argentinas" rule, adopted after the IMF's disastrous 2001 loan to that country). (2) Not to lend to a country that repudiates its debt to official creditors (the rule originally intended to enforce payment to U.S.-based institutions). (3) Not to lend to a country at war – and indeed, destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally (4), not to lend to a country unlikely to impose the IMF's austerity "conditionalities." Ukraine did agree to override democratic opposition and cut back pensions, but its junta proved too unstable to impose the austerity terms on which the IMF insisted.

U.S. neoliberalism promotes privatization carve-ups of debtor countries

Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China's mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia.

At stake is much more than just which nations will get the contracting and banking business. At issue is whether the philosophy of development will follow the classical path based on public infrastructure investment, or whether public sectors will be privatized and planning turned over to rent-seeking corporations.

What made the United States and Germany the leading industrial nations of the 20 th century – and more recently, China – has been public investment in economic infrastructure. The aim was to lower the price of living and doing business by providing basic services on a subsidized basis or freely. By contrast, U.S. privatizers have brought debt leverage to bear on Third World countries, post-Soviet economies and most recently on southern Europe to force selloffs. Current plans to cap neoliberal policy with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) go so far as to disable government planning power to the financial and corporate sector.

American strategists evidently hoped that the threat of isolating Russia, China and other countries would bring them to heel if they tried to denominate trade and investment in their own national currencies. Their choice would be either to suffer sanctions like those imposed on Cuba and Iran, or to avoid exclusion by acquiescing in the dollarized financial and trade system and its drives to financialize their economies under U.S. control.

The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today's U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. "Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company's 'expected future profits.' "

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute (6). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith, "Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014, and "Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014.

This policy threat is splitting the world into pro-U.S. satellites and economies maintaining public infrastructure investment and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism supporting its own financial and corporate interests has driven Russia, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into an alliance to protect their economic self-sufficiency rather than becoming dependent on dollarized credit enmeshing them in foreign-currency debt.

At the center of today's global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity.

The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran's secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and '70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor's assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America's status as the world's "indispensible nation" entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees.

Germany's choice

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve. The industrial takeoff of Germany and other European nations involved a long fight to free markets from the land rents and financial charges siphoned off by their landed aristocracies and bankers. That was the essence of classical 19 th -century political economy and 20 th -century social democracy. Most economists a century ago expected industrial capitalism to produce an economy of abundance, and democratic reforms to endorse public infrastructure investment and regulation to hold down the cost of living and doing business. But U.S. economic diplomacy now threatens to radically reverse this economic ideology by aiming to dismantle public regulatory power and impose a radical privatization agenda under the TTIP and TAFTA.

Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies. Instead, the world is polarizing, not converging. The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain.

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization?

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21 st century.

Endnotes

[1] I provide the full background in "The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia," December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked Capitalism , Counterpunch and Johnson's Russia List .

[2] Lori M. Wallach, "The corporation invasion," La Monde Diplomatique , December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta . She adds: "Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute ( 6 ). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation." See also Yves Smith , " Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism , July 17, 2014 , and " Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ," Naked Capitalism, October 30, 2014 .

Priss Factor , Website November 30, 2017 at 5:28 am GMT

More like Dollar Supremacism

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:02 am GMT

"Austerity" is such a misused word these days. What the Allies did to Germany after Versailles was austerity, and everyone paid dearly for it.

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

The Austerity everyone complains about in the developed world these days is a joke, hardly austerity, for it has never meant more than doing a little less deficit-spending than in prior periods, e.g. UK Labour whining about "Austerity" is a joke, as the UK debt has done nothing but grow, which in terms understandable to simple folk like me means they are spending more than they can afford to carry.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 8:15 am GMT
" The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions "

In the whole article not a word about the euro, also an instrument of imperialism, that mainly benefits Germany, the country that has to maintain a high level of exports, in order to feed the Germans, and import raw materials for Germany's industries.

Isolating China and Russia, with the other BRICS countries, S Africa, Brazil, India, dangerous game.
This effort forced China and Russia to close cooperation, the economic expression of this is the Peking Petersburg railway, with a hub in Khazakstan, where the containers are lifted from the Chinese to the Russian system, the width differs.
Four days for the trip.
The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.
Let us hope that history does not repeat itself in the nuclear era.

Edward Mead Earle, Ph.D., 'Turkey, The Great Powers and The Bagdad Railway, A study in Imperialism', 1923, 1924, New York

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT
Another excellent article.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking t o break free from America's financial free ride .

Nah, the NY banksters wouldn't dream of doing such a thing; would they?

skrik , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 11:29 am GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

What I said, and beautifully put, the whole article.

World War I may well have been an important way-point, but the miserable mercantile modus operandi was well established long before.

An interesting A/B case:

a) wiki/Anglo-Persian Oil Company "In 1901 William Knox D'Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, negotiated an oil concession with Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar of Persia. He financed this with capital he had made from his shares in the highly profitable Mount Morgan mine in Queensland, Australia. D'Arcy assumed exclusive rights to prospect for oil for 60 years in a vast tract of territory including most of Iran. In exchange the Shah received £20,000 (£2.0 million today),[1] an equal amount in shares of D'Arcy's company, and a promise of 16% of future profits." Note the 16% = ~1/6, the rest going off-shore.

b) The Greens in Aus researched the resources sector in Aus, to find that it is 83% 'owned' by off-shore entities. Note that 83% = ~5/6, which goes off-shore. Coincidence?

Then see what happened when the erstwhile APOC was nationalized; the US/UK perpetrated a coup against the democratically elected Mossadegh, eventual blow-back resulting in the 1979 revolution, basically taking Iran out of 'the West.'

Note that in Aus, the democratically elected so-called 'leaders' not only allow exactly this sort of economic rape, they actively assist it by, say, crippling the central bank and pleading for FDI = selling our, we the people's interests, out. Those traitor-leaders are reversing 'Enlightenment' provisions, privatising whatever they can and, as Michael Hudson well points out the principles, running Aus into debt and austerity.

We the people are powerless passengers, and to add insult to injury, the taxpayer-funded AusBC lies to us continually. Ho, hum; just like the mainly US/Z MSM and the BBC do – all corrupt and venal. Bah!

Now, cue the trolls: "But Russia/China are worse!"

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm GMT

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions.

US banking oligarchs will expend the last drop of our blood to prevent a such a linking, just as they were willing to sacrifice our blood and treasure in WW1 and 2, as is alluded to here.:

Today's global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath.

Excellent.:

The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

This is a gem of a summary.:

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century.

Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. It's important to note that such interests have ruled (owned, actually) imperial Britain for centuries and the US since its inception, and the anti-federalists knew it.

Here is a revolution as radical as that which separated us from Great Britain.

You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies [ ed comment: the money grubbers ]

Patrick Henry June 5 and 7, 1788―1788-1789 Petersburg, Virginia edition of the Debates and other Proceedings . . . Of the Virginia Convention of 1788

The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d'état.

It had been drafted, in the first place, by men representing special economic interests. Four-fifths of them were public creditors, one-third were land speculators, and one-fifth represented interests in shipping, manufacturing, and merchandising. Most of them were lawyers. Not one of them represented the interest of production -- Vilescit origine tali.

- Albert Jay Nock [Excerpted from chapter 5 of Albert Jay Nock's Jefferson, published in 1926]

Biff , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT
The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else. May you live in interesting times.
Jake , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm GMT
"After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts." The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler.

But they didn't invent anything. They learned from their WASP forebears in the British Empire, whose banking back to Oliver Cromwell had become inextricably entangled with Jewish money and Jewish interests to the point that Jews per capita dominated it even at the height of the British Empire, when simpleton WASPs assume that WASPs truly ran everything, and that WASP power was for the good of even the poorest WASPs.

Joe Hide , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm GMT
To Michael Hudson,
Great article. Evidence based, factually argued, enjoyably readable.
Replacements for the dollar dominated financial system are well into development. Digital dollars, credit cards, paypal, stock and currency exchange online platforms, and perhaps most intriguing The exponential rise of Bitcoin and similar crypto-currencies.

The internet is also exponentially exposing the screwing we peasants have been getting by the psychopath, narcissistic, hedonistic, predatory lenders and controllers. Next comes the widespread, easily usable, and inexpensive cell phone apps, social media exposures, alternative websites (like Unz.com), and other technologies that will quickly identify every lying, evil, jerk so they can be neutrilized / avoided

The Alarmist , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT

"Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies."

I must be old; the economic textbooks I had did explain the benefits of freer trade among nations using Ricardo and Trade Indifference Curves, but didn't prescribe any one political system being fostered by or even necessary for the benefits of international trade to be reaped.

Astuteobservor II , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm GMT
to be honest, this way of running things only need to last for 10-20 more years before automation will replace 800 million jobs. then we will have a few trillionaire overlords unless true AI comes online. by that point nothing matters as we will become zoo animals.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

What the IMF and the Western Banking Cartel do to third world countries is akin to a pusher hopping up addicts on debt and then taking it away while stripping them of their assets, pretty much hurting only the people of the third world country; certainly not the WBC, and almost certainly not the criminal elite who took the deal.

That's true and the criminals do similar asset stripping to their own as well, through various means.

It's always the big criminals against the rest of us.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

The Berlin Baghdad railway was an important cause for WWI.

Bingo. Stopping it was a huge factor. There was no way the banksters of the world were going to let that go forward, nor were they going to let Germany and Russia link up in any other ways. They certainly were not about to allow any threats to the Suez Canal nor any chance to let the oil fields slip from their control either.

The wars were also instigated to prevent either Germany or Russia having control of, and free access to warm water ports and the wars also were an excuse to steal vast amounts of wealth from both Germany and Russia through various means.

All pious and pompous pretexts aside, economics was the motive for (the) war (s), and the issues are not settled to this day. I.e., it's the same class of monstrously insatiable criminals who want everything for themselves who're causing the major troubles of the day.

Unfortunately, as long as we have SoB's who're eager to sacrifice our blood and treasure for their benfit, things will never change.

jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

The golden rule is one thing. The paper rule is something else.

May you live in interesting times.

The golden rule is for dreamers, unfortunately. Those who control paper money rule, and your wish has been granted; we live in times that are both interesting and fascinating, but are nevertheless the same old thing. Only the particular particulars have changed.

Michael Kenny , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:01 pm GMT
Essentially, the anti-EU and anti-euro line that Professor Hudson has being pushing for years, which has now morphed into a pro-Putin line as the anti-EU faction in the US have sought to use Putin as a "useful idiot" to destroy the EU. Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice of someone who has never concealed his hostility to the EU's very existence: note the use of the racist slur "PIIGS" to refer to certain EU Member States. Thus, Professor Hudson is simply pushing the "let Putin win in Ukraine" line dressed up in fine-sounding economic jargon.
jacques sheete , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm GMT

Since nobody in Europe reads these articles, Ii doesn't really matter

None of it rally matters anyway, no matter how valid. To paraphrase Thucydides, the money grubbers do what they want and the rest of us are forced to suck it up and limp along.

and I certainly don't see any EU leader following the advice

I doubt that that's Hudson's intent in writing the article. I see it as his attempt to explain the situation to those of us who care about them even though our concern is pretty much useless.

I do thank him for taking the time to pen this stuff which I consider worthwhile and high quality.

Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
That sounds good but social media is the weapon of choice in the EU too. Lot's of kids know and love Hudson. Any half capable writer who empathetically explains why you're getting fucked is going to have some followers. Watering, nutrition, weeding. Before too long you'll be on the Eurail to your destination.
Wally , Website Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm GMT
@Jake

said: "The Yank banker, the Yankee Wall Street super rich, set off a process of greed that led to Hitler." If true, so what? That's a classic example of 'garbage in, garbage out'. http://www.codoh.com

nickels , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve

In fact, this is exactly how it was supposed to work. The wave of liberal democracies was precisely to overturn the monarchies, which were the last bulwark protecting the people from the full tyranny of the financiers, who were, by nature, one-world internationalists.

William McAdoo , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm GMT
The real problem with this is that any form of monetary arrangement involves an implied trusteeship, with obligations on, as well as benefits for, the trustee. The US is so abusing its trusteeship through the continual use of an irresponsible sanctions regime that it risks a good portion of the world economy abandoning its system for someone else's, which may be perceived to be run more responsibility. The disaster scenario would be the US having therefore in the future to access that other system to purchase oil or minerals, and having that system do to us what we previously did to them -- sanction us out.

The proper use by the US of its controlled system thus should be a defensive one -- mainly to act so fairly to all players that it, not someone else, remains in control of the dominant worldwide exchange system. This sensible course of conduct, unfortunately, is not being pursued by the US.

joe webb , Next New Comment November 30, 2017 at 10:11 pm GMT
there is fuzzy, and then there is very fuzzy, and then there is the fuzziness compounded many-fold. The latter is this article.

Here from wiki: "

" Marx believed that capitalism was inherently built upon practices of usury and thus inevitably leading to the separation of society into two classes: one composed of those who produce value and the other, which feeds upon the first one. In "Theories of Surplus Value" (written 1862-1863), he states " that interest (in contrast to industrial profit) and rent (that is the form of landed property created by capitalist production itself) are superfetations (i.e., excessive accumulations) which are not essential to capitalist production and of which it can rid itself."

Wiki goes on to identify "rentier" as used by Marx, to be the same thing as "capitalists." What the above quotation says is that capitalism CAN rid itself of genuine rent capital. First, the feudal rents that were extracted by landowners were NOT part of a free market system. Serfdom was only one part of unfree conditions. A general condition of anarchy in rules and laws by petty principalities characteristic of feudalism, both contained commerce and human beings. There was no freedom, political or economic.

The conflation (collapsing) of rents and interest is a Marxist error which expands into complete nonsense when a competitive economy has replaced feudal conditions. ON top of that, profits from a business, firm, or industrial enterprise are NOT rents.

Any marxist is a fool to pretend otherwise, and is just another ideological (False consciousness ) fanatic.

... ... ...

Wally, Next New Comment December 1, 2017 at 1:49 am GMT
@Michael Kenny

Indeed, Putin should be praised & supported. But where is the proof that 'Russia & Trump colluded to get Trump elected'? You also ignore the overwhelming Crimean support for returning to Russia. And you won't like this at all: Trump Declares "National Day for the Victims of Communism." https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/11/07/national-day-victims-communism Hence, the Liars of the scamming "Holocau$t Industry" go crazy: https://www.salon.com/2017/11/07/trumps-national-day-for-the-victims-of-communism-is-opposite-of-holocaust-statement/

ThreeCranes , December 1, 2017 at 3:34 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

Germany loans money back to the poorer nations who buy her exports just as China loans money to the United States (they purchase roughly a third of our Treasury bonds) so that Americans can continue to buy Chinese manufactured goods.

The role to be played by the USA in the "new world order" is that of being the farmer to the world. The meticulous Asians will make stuff.

The problem with this is that it is based on 19th century notions of manufacturing. Technique today is vastly more complicated than it was in the 1820′s and a nation must do everything in its power to protect and nurture its manufacturing and scientific excellence. In the United States we have been giving this away to our competitors. We educate their children at our taxpayer's expense and they take the knowledge gained back to their native countries where, with state subsidies, they build factories that put Americans out of work. We fall further and further behind.

[Nov 30, 2017] Heritage Foundation + the War Industry What a Pair The American Conservative by Paul Gottfried

Heritage Foundation is just a neocon swamp filled with "national security parasites". What you can expect from them ?
Nov 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
According to recent reports the Heritage Foundation, clearly the most established and many would say politically influential conservative think tank in Washington, is considering David Trulio, Lockheed Martin vice president and longtime lobbyist for the defense industry, to be its next president. While Heritage's connection to Washington's sprawling national security industry is already well-established, naming Trulio as its president might be seen as gilding the lily.

If anything, reading this report made me more aware of the degree to which the "conservative policy community" in Washington depends on the whims and interests of particular donors.

And this relationship is apparently no longer something to be concealed or embarrassed by. One can now be open about being in the pocket of the defense industry. Trulio's potential elevation to Heritage president at what we can assume will be an astronomical salary, will no doubt grease the already well-oiled pipeline of funds from major contractors to this "conservative" foundation, which already operates with an annual disclosed budget of almost $100 million.

A 2009 Heritage Foundation report, " Maintaining the Superiority of America's Defense Industrial Base ," called for further government investment in aircraft weaponry for "ensuring a superior fighting force" and "sustaining international stability." In 2011, senior national security fellow James Carafano wrote " Five Steps to Defend America's Industrial Defense Base ," which complained about a "fifty billion dollar under-procurement by the Pentagon" for buying new weaponry. In 2016, Heritage made the case for several years of reinvestment to get the military back on "sound footing," with an increase in fiscal year 2016 described as "an encouraging start."

These special pleas pose a question: which came first, Heritage's heavy dependence on funds from defense giants, or the foundation's belief that unless we steadily increase our military arsenal we'll be endangering "international stability"? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle: someone who is predisposed to go in a certain direction may be more inclined to do so if he is being rewarded in return. Incidentally, the 2009 position paper seems to be directing the government to throw more taxpayer dollars to Boeing than to its competitor Lockheed. But it seems both defense giants have landed a joint contract this year to produce a new submersible for the Navy, so it may no longer be necessary to pick sides on that one at least. No doubt both corporations will continue to look after Heritage, which will predictably call for further increases, whether they be in aerospace or shipbuilding.

Although one needn't reduce everything to dollars and cents, if we're looking at the issues Heritage and other likeminded foundations are likely to push today, it's far more probable they'll be emphasizing the national security state rather than, say, opposition to gay marriage or the defense of traditional gender roles. There's lots more money to be made advocating for the former rather than the latter. In May 2013, Heritage sponsored a formal debate between "two conservatives" and "two liberals" on the issue of defense spending, with Heritage and National Review presenting the "conservative" side. I wondered as I listened to part of this verbal battle why is was considered "conservative" to call for burdening American taxpayers with massive increases in the purchase of Pentagon weaponry and planes that take 17 years to get off the ground.

Like American higher education, Conservatism Inc. is very big business. Whatever else it's about rates a very far second to keeping the money flowing. "Conservative" positions are often simply causes for which foundations and media enterprises that have the word "conservative" attached to them are paid to represent. It is the label carried by an institution or publication, not necessarily the position it takes, that makes what NR or Heritage advocates "conservative."

In any event, Mr. Trulio won't have to travel far if he takes the Heritage helm. He and his corporation are already ensconced only a few miles away from Heritage's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters, if the information provided by Lockheed Martin is correct. It says: "Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services." A company like that can certainly afford to underwrite a think tank -- if the price is right.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for twenty-five years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale PhD. He writes for many websites and scholarly journals and is the author of thirteen books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents . His books have been translated into multiple languages and seem to enjoy special success in Eastern Europe.

[Nov 29, 2017] It must be embarrassing to be European these days. To be dressed down by the corrupt country you support on handouts because you are not doing enough to support it.

Notable quotes:
"... "We live at the time of a certain degrading of European institutions and their external weakening, including by Russia. You can accept it and go with the flow but you can also recognize the fact try to resist it." ..."
Nov 29, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

marknesop , , November 28, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Ha, ha!!! The Victim Of The Aggressor Country seldom fails to entertain. Here we have VR Deputy Chairperson Ira Gerashchenko bossing Europe around , and telling it that the Victim Of The Aggressor Country's parliamentary delegation will continue to insist on Russia not returning to the Council of Europe. Because, she says, Russia has stolen part of the territory of the VOTAC which was a gift from Russia in the first place (although she doesn't mention that last part), thereby setting a precedent for every country which has a province 'liberated' by the west to term it stolen by the west. But that wasn't my favourite part. No; this is – "We live at the time of a certain degrading of European institutions and their external weakening, including by Russia. You can accept it and go with the flow but you can also recognize the fact try to resist it."

Beautiful, Ira!! Inspiring!! And how many degraded European leaders are Billionaires who openly own an impressive slate of businesses and media in their countries, which they continue to operate and profit from while piously declaring their only interest is the welfare of the country? Which is, by the bye, the most corrupt country in Europe ? How many Prosecutors-General has the VOTAC had since its glorious liberation from the yoke of the Moskali? Yes, you can certainly teach Yurrup a thing or two about integrity.

It must be embarrassing to be European these days. To be dressed down by the corrupt country you support on handouts because you are not doing enough to support it. First we had the 'Me' generation. Then we had the 'Me' country.

[Nov 15, 2017] Alex Azar Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether ..."
"... So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy. ..."
"... In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Alex Azar: Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door? Posted on November 15, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether

Clearly, Alex Azar, nominated yesterday for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services by the Trump Administration, exemplifies the case of the "revolving door," through which Flexians slither on their way to (or from) positions of public trust. Roy Poses ( cross-posted at NC ) wrote, when Azar was only Acting Secretary:

Last week we noted that Mr Trump famously promised to &#8220;drain the swamp&#8221; in Washington. Last week, despite his previous pledges to not appoint lobbyists to powerful positions, he appointed a lobbyist to be acting DHHS Secretary. This week he is apparently strongly considering Mr Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical executive to be permanent DHHS Secretary, even though the FDA, part of DHHS, has direct regulatory authority over the pharmaceutical industry, and many other DHHS policies strongly affect the pharmaceutical industry. (By the way, Mr Azar was also in charge of one lobbying effort.)

So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy.

Moreover, several serious legal cases involving bad behavior by his company, and multiple other instances of apparently unethical behavior occurred on Mr Azar&#8217;s watch at Eli Lilly. So the fox might be not the most reputable member of the species.

So you know the drill&#8230;. The revolving door is a species of conflict of interest . Worse, some experts have suggested that the revolving door is in fact corruption. As we noted here , the experts from the distinguished European anti-corruption group U4 wrote ,

The literature makes clear that the revolving door process is a source of valuable political connections for private firms. But it generates corruption risks and has strong distortionary effects on the economy , especially when this power is concentrated within a few firms.

The ongoing parade of people transiting the revolving door from industry to the Trump administration once again suggests how the revolving door may enable certain of those with private vested interests to have excess influence, way beyond that of ordinary citizens, on how the government works, and that the country is still increasingly being run by a cozy group of insiders with ties to both government and industry. This has been termed crony capitalism.

Poses is, of course, correct. (Personally, I've contained my aghastitude on Azar, because I remember quite well how Liz Fowler transitioned from Wellpoint to being Max Baucus's chief of staff when ObamaCare was being drafted to a job in Big Pharma , and I remember quite well the deal with Big Pharma Obama cut, which eliminated the public option , not that the public option was anything other than a decreasingly gaudy "progressive" bauble in the first place.)

In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real damage Azar could do is on the regulatory side.[1]

First, Democrat credentialism. Here is one effusive encomium on Azar. From USA Today, "Who is Alex Azar? Former drugmaker CEO and HHS official nominated to head agency" :

"I am glad to hear that you have worked hard, and brought fair-minded legal analysis to the department," Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said at Azar's last confirmation hearing.

And:

Andy Slavitt, who ran the Affordable Care Act and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, said he has reason to hope Azar would be a good secretary.

"He is familiar with the high quality of the HHS staff, has real-world experience enough to be pragmatic, and will hopefully avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessor," Slavitt said.

So, if Democrats are saying Azar is "fair-minded" and "pragmatic" -- and heaven forfend that the word "corruption"[2] even be mentioned -- how do they oppose him, even he's viscerally opposed to everything Democrats supposedly stand for? (Democrats do this with judicial nominations, too.) Azar may be a fox, alright, but the chickens he's supposedly guarding are all clucking about how impeccable his qualifications are!

Second, let's briefly look at Azar's bio. Let me excerpt salient detail from USA Today :

1. Azar clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia .

2. Azar went to work for his mentor, Ken Starr , who was heading the independent counsel investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater land deal.

3. Azar had a significant role in another major political controversy when the outcome of the 2000 presidential election hinged on a recount in Florida . Azar was on the Bush team of lawyers whose side ultimately prevailed [3]

For any Democrat with a memory, that bio provokes one of those "You shall know them by the trail of the dead" moments. And then there's this:

When Leavitt replaced Thompson in 2005 and Azar became his deputy, Leavitt delegated a lot of the rule-making process to Azar.

So, a liberal Democrat might classify Azar as a smooth-talking reactionary thug with a terrible record and the most vile mentors imaginable, and on top of it all, he's an effective bureaucratic fixer. What could the Trump Administration possibly see in such a person? Former (Republican) HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt explains:

"Understanding the administrative rule process in the circumstance we're in today could be extraordinarily important because a lot of the change in the health care system, given the fact that they've not succeeded legislatively, could come administratively."

We outlined the administration strategy on health care in "Trump Adminstration Doubles Down on Efforts to Crapify the Entire Health Care System (Unless You're Rich, of Course)" . There are three prongs:

1) Administratively, send ObamaCare into a death spiral by sabotaging it

2) Legislatively, gut Medicaid as part of the "tax refom" package in Congress

3) Through executive order, eliminate "essential health benefits" through "association health plans"

As a sidebar, it's interesting to see that although this do-list is strategically and ideologically coherent -- basically, your ability to access health care will be directly dependent on your ability to pay -- it's institutionally incoherent, a bizarre contraption screwed together out of legislation, regulations, and an Executive order. Of course, this incoherence mirrors to Rube Goldberg structure of ObamaCare itself, itself a bizarre contraption, especially when compared to the simple, rugged, and proven single payer system. ( Everything Obama did with regulations and executive orders, Trump can undo, with new regulations and new executive orders . We might compare ObamaCare to a child born with no immune system, that could only have survived within the liberal bubble within which it was created; in the real world, it's not surprising that it's succumbing to opportunistic infections.[2])

On #1, The administration has, despite its best efforts, not achieved a controlled flight into terrain with ObamaCare; enrollment is up. On #2, the administration and its Congressional allies are still dickering with tax reform. And on #3 . That looks looks like a job for Alex Azar, since both essential health benefits and association health plans are significantly affected by regulation.

So, yes, there are worse scenarios than the revolving door; it's what you leave behind you as the door revolves that matters. It would be lovely if there were a good old-fashioned confirmation battle over Azar, but, as I've pointed out, the Democrats have tied their own hands. Ideally, the Democrats would junk the Rube Goldberg device that is ObamaCare, rendering all of Azar's regulatory expertise null and void, but that doesn't seem likely, given that they seem to be doing everything possible to avoid serious discussion of policy in 2018 and 2020.

NOTES

[1] I'm leaving aside what will no doubt be the 2018 or even 2020 issue of drug prices, since for me that's subsumed under the issue of single payer. If we look only at Azar's history in business, real price decreases seem unlikely. Business Insider :

Over the 10-year period when Azar was at Lilly, the price of insulin notched a three-fold increase. It wasn't just Lilly's insulin product, called Humalog. The price of a rival made by Novo Nordisk has also climbed, with the two rising in such lockstep that you can barely see both trend lines below.

The gains came despite the fact that the insulin, which as a medication has an almost-century-long history, hasn't really changed since it was first approved.

Nice business to be in, eh? Here's that chart:

It's almost like Lilly (Azar's firm) and Novo Nordisk are working together, isn't it?

[2] Anyhow, as of the 2016 Clinton campaign , the Democrat standard -- not that of Poses, nor mine -- is that if there's no quid pro quo, there's no corruption.

[3] And, curiously, "[HHS head Tommy] Thompson said HHS was in the eye of the storm after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and Azar had an important role in responding to the resulting public health challenges, as well as the subsequent anthrax attacks "

MedicalQuack , November 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare. He's out there trying to do his own reputation restore routine. Go back to 2009 and read about the short paying of MDs by Ingenix, which is now Optum Insights, he was the CEO and remember it was just around 3 years ago or so he sat there quarterly with United CEO Hemsley at those quarterly meetings. Look him up, wants 40k to speak and he puts the perception out there he does this for free, not so.

diptherio , November 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

I think you're missing the context. Lambert is quoting him by way of showing that the sleazy establishment types are just fine with him. Thanks for the extra background on that particular swamp-dweller, though.

a different chris , November 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Not just the context, it's a quote in a quote. Does make me think Slavitt must be a real piece of work to send MQ so far off his rails

petal , November 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Alex Azar is a Dartmouth grad (Gov't & Economics '88) just like Jeff Immelt (Applied Math & Economics '78). So much damage to society from such a small department!

sgt_doom , November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Nice one, petal !!!

Really, all I need to know about the Trumpster Administration:

From Rothschild to . . . .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Ross

Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus.

He served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund. Later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ross served as the Mayor's privatization advisor.

Jen , November 15, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Or from a "small liberal arts college" (which is a university in all but name, because alumni).

Tim Geitner ('82 – Goverment)
Hank Paulson ('68 – English)

jo6pac , November 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Well it's never ending game in the beltway and we serfs aren't in it.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/15/trump-adds-to-washingtons-swamp/

Alfred , November 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I don't believe that the President's "swamp" ever consisted of crooked officials, lobbyists, and cronies I think it has always consisted of those regulators who tried sincerely to defend public interests.

It was in the sticky work of those good bureaucrats that the projects of capitalists and speculators bogged down. It is against their efforts that the pickup-driving cohort of Trumpism (with their Gadsden flag decals) relentlessly rails.

Trump has made much progress in draining the regulatory swamp (if indeed that is the right way to identify it), and no doubt will make considerably more as time wears on, leaving America high and dry. The kind of prevaricator Trump is may simply be the one who fails to define his terms.

Henry Moon Pie , November 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I think we've moved past the revolving door. We hear members of the United States Senate publicly voice their concerns about what will happen if they fail to do their employers' bidding (and I'm not talking about "the public" here). In the bureaucracy, political appointees keep accruing more and more power even as they make it clearer and clearer that they work for "the donors" and not the people. Nowhere is this more true than the locus through which passes most of the money: the Pentagon. The fact that these beribboned heroes are, in fact, setting war policy on their own makes the knowledge that they serve Raytheon and Exxon rather than Americans very, very troubling.

I suspect Azar's perception is that he is just moving from one post to another within the same company.

Watt4Bob , November 15, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Perfect cartoon over at Truthout

I'm amazed there is enough private security available on this planet to keep these guys safe.

Larry , November 15, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Big pharma indeed has so much defense from the supposed left. It combines their faith in technological progress, elite institutions, and tugs on the heart strings with technology that can save people from a fate of ill health or premature death. Of course, the aspect of the laws being written to line the pockets of corrupt executives is glossed over. While drug prices and medical costs spiral ever higher, our overall longevity and national health in the US declines. That speaks volumes about what Democrats really care about.

[Nov 10, 2017] Saudi Arabia's Desperate Gamble

More wars... more victims... More destruction...
Nov 10, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Abe , November 10, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Israel's next desperate gamble is direct military attack on Lebanon and Syria.

On 5 November, the ever more delusional Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained to the BBC about an "Iranian takeover" of Lebanon.

On 9 November, the equally delusional Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz complained to the Associated Press that "Lebanon is Hezbollah and Hezbollah is Iran".

Israel is by no means content to merely "contemplate" a war.

With the rollback of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist proxy forces in Syria, and the failure of Kurdish separatist efforts in Iraq, Israel plans to launch military attacks against southern Lebanon and Syria.

War against Lebanon and Syria is the next stage of the Israeli-Saudi-US Axis "project".

Saudi Arabia and the United States are very much available to "assist" the upcoming Israeli military adventure.

South Front has presented a cogent and fairly detailed analysis of Israel's upcoming war in southern Lebanon.

Conspicuously absent from the South Front analysis is any discussion of the Israeli planned assault on Syria, or possible responses to the conflict from the United States or Russia.

Israeli propaganda preparations for attack are already in high gear. Unfortunately, sober heads are in perilously short supply in Israel and the U.S., so the prognosis can hardly be optimistic.

"Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

Over time, IDF's military effectiveness had declined. [ ] In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 due to the overwhelming numerical superiority in men and equipment the IDF managed to occupy key strong points but failed to inflict a decisive defeat on Hezbollah. The frequency of attacks in Israeli territory was not reduced; the units of the IDF became bogged down in the fighting in the settlements and suffered significant losses. There now exists considerable political pressure to reassert IDF's lost military dominance and, despite the complexity and unpredictability of the situation we may assume the future conflict will feature only two sides, IDF and Hezbollah. Based on the bellicose statements of the leadership of the Jewish state, the fighting will be initiated by Israel.

"The operation will begin with a massive evacuation of residents from the settlements in the north and centre of Israel. Since Hezbollah has agents within the IDF, it will not be possible to keep secret the concentration of troops on the border and a mass evacuation of civilians. Hezbollah units will will be ordered to occupy a prepared defensive position and simultaneously open fire on places were IDF units are concentrated. The civilian population of southern Lebanon will most likely be evacuated. IDF will launch massive bombing causing great damage to the social infrastructure and some damage to Hezbollah's military infrastructure, but without destroying the carefully protected and camouflaged rocket launchers and launch sites.

"Hezbollah control and communications systems have elements of redundancy. Consequently, regardless of the use of specialized precision-guided munitions, the command posts and electronic warfare systems will not be paralysed, maintaining communications including through the use of fibre-optic communications means. IDF discovered that the movement has such equipment during the 2006 war. Smaller units will operate independently, working with open communication channels, using the pre-defined call signs and codes.

"Israeli troops will then cross the border of Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, beginning a ground operation with the involvement of a greater number of units than in the 2006 war. The IDF troops will occupy commanding heights and begin to prepare for assaults on settlements and actions in the tunnels. The Israelis do not score a quick victory as they suffer heavy losses in built-up areas. The need to secure occupied territory with patrols and checkpoints will cause further losses.

"The fact that Israel itself started the war and caused damage to the civilian infrastructure, allows the leadership of the movement to use its missile arsenal on Israeli cities. While Israel's missile defence systems can successfully intercept the launched missiles, there are not enough of them to blunt the bombardment. The civilian evacuation paralyzes life in the country. As soon IDF's Iron Dome and other medium-range systems are spent on short-range Hezbollah rockets, the bombardment of Israel with long-range missiles may commence. Hezbollah's Iranian solid-fuel rockets do not require much time to prepare for launch and may target the entire territory of Israel, causing further losses.

"It is difficult to assess the duration of actions of this war. One thing that seems certain is that Israel shouldn't count on its rapid conclusion, similar to last September's exercises. Hezbollah units are stronger and more capable than during the 2006 war, despite the fact that they are fighting in Syria and suffered losses there.

"Conclusions

"The combination of large-scale exercises and bellicose rhetoric is intended to muster Israeli public support for the aggression against Hezbollah by convincing the public the victory would be swift and bloodless. Instead of restraint based on a sober assessment of relative capabilities, Israeli leaders appear to be in a state of blood lust. In contrast, the Hezbollah has thus far demonstrated restraint and diplomacy.

"Underestimating the adversary is always the first step towards a defeat. Such mistakes are paid for with soldiers' blood and commanders' careers. The latest IDF exercises suggest Israeli leaders underestimate the opponent and, more importantly, consider them to be quite dumb. In reality, Hezbollah units will not cross the border. There is no need to provoke the already too nervous neighbor and to suffer losses solely to plant a flag and photograph it for their leader. For Hezbollah, it is easier and safer when the Israeli soldiers come to them. According to the IDF soldiers who served in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it is easier to operate on the plains of Gaza than the mountainous terrain of southern Lebanon. This is a problem for armoured vehicles fighting for control of heights, tunnels, and settlements, where they are exposed to anti-armor weapons.

"While the Israeli establishment is in a state of patriotic frenzy, it would be a good time for them to turn to the wisdom of their ancestors. After all, as the old Jewish proverb says: 'War is a big swamp, easy to go into but hard to get out'."

Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War
https://southfront.org/israeli-defense-forces-military-capabilities-scenarios-for-the-third-lebanon-war/

Sally Snyder , November 10, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Here are some cables that Wikileaks released showing us how the Saudi royal family tries to control the world's media:

http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2016/01/how-saudi-arabia-controls-its-own-media.html

The Saudi Royal Family has bottomless pockets when it comes to controlling negative press coverage.

Zachary Smith , November 10, 2017 at 10:28 pm

And in the shadows, at the back of the gaming room, stands Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. The idea of going to the casino was his, in the first place. If the hero lands on black, he will share in the joy, but if it is red never mind: Bibi's home is not forfeit.

At first glance it looks to me as if Netanyahu wins any coin flip, whether it is "heads" or "tails". No matter what happens, Saudi Arabia is going to be severely shaken up, and chaos in surrounding Muslim nations is almost always a "plus" for Israel.

But at second glance I imagine I can also see a downside. The Arabian Peninsula has a hefty population, and if the Kingdom here does shatter, there is a possibility that an Arabic Napoleon could emerge. During the time of Muhammad there was an outward-moving crusade, and might it not happen again? Saudi Arabia may not have much of an army at the moment, but that could change quickly. A glance at a world globe shows Israel to be very close by. This sort of thing would cause me to lose sleep if I were an Israeli strategist.

At the moment the KSA is being taken over by a young numbskull, if all the accounts I've read are even remotely true. Perhaps Israel is providing the brains. The Moon of Alabama blogger has a low opinion of the young man.

Saudi Arabia – This "Liberal Reformer" Is An Impulsive Tyrant

h**p://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/11/saudi-arabia-the-liberal-reformer-reveals-himself-as-an-impulsive-tyrant-.html

David G , November 10, 2017 at 10:59 pm

The singular fact that the planned next royal succession from Salman to MbS will be the first from father to son since the death of Abdulaziz seems to me to add a whole other level of uncertainty to what is already a difficult time for the kingdom.

[Nov 08, 2017] The Trump Administration's Contempt for Diplomacy

Nov 08, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

SteveM , says: November 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

When you have a Global Cop War Machine hammer and surround yourself with a Pentagon/Security State steering committee advising you to use it, everything else is a nail. I have to admit, Trump is even a much smaller man than I imagined him to be at his worst.

Belligerent global power projection is currently unaffordable and quickly becoming obsolete. While China is eating America's lunch with it's productive foreign aid and investments that do not involve killing, destroying and intimidation.

Neither of which Trump comprehends. And of his in-house Neocon minions ("my generals"), it goes without saying

SDS , says: November 8, 2017 at 11:53 am
"and the American diplomatic core is down to Nikki Haley screaming into a phone in some basement office of the Pentagon"

That would be hilarious if it weren't so prophetic

rayray , says: November 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm
Every time a diplomat works to reduce tensions, build relationships, avoid conflict, this is literally taking money and opportunity out of the pockets of the Military/Industrial complex.

Trump, being ironically a terrible negotiator and, as @SDS notes above, has never had the temperament, intelligence, or empathy to be much more than a bully, is the perfect tool for the military/industrial complex.

[Nov 07, 2017] The international organization for migration has published official data which shows that every fourth prostitute in Europe is a citizen of Ukraine.

Nov 07, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Patient Observer , November 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Did not the Kremlin Stooges predict this years ago?

http://theduran.com/new-migration-data-shows-every-fourth-prostitute-europe-citizen-ukraine/

The international organization for migration has published official data which shows that every fourth prostitute in Europe is a citizen of Ukraine.

The article discusses pamphlets that are distributed to young Ukrainian girls/women advising them on how to survive and flourish in new realities of life in the EU.

the Ukrainian labor market is being formed and is growing. Even if there is no other work and none is expected, girls should know that Europe will take care of them. The younger generation of Ukrainian schoolgirls will find out how to apply themselves If you are involved in the sex business, then this brochure is for you," it is said in the introduction. "You have chosen a very dangerous profession, but if you always follow these simple rules, then you will get a chance to live a long life You shouldn't serve several clients alone, you should avoid drunk clients, and also always to take payment in advance. And when you go to the client's apartment, try to learn in what district of the city it is located, give preference to hotels".

marknesop , November 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm
It's okay if you're a hooker, and all you have to sell is yourself. You have chosen a dangerous profession, but really the writing was on the wall, wasn't it, if only you'd had sense to read it? And the economic calamity which has come to pass in your country is really no concern of ours, while for our part we are not too upset at being offered the choice of some of the most beautiful young women on the planet, who will do anything you say for a handful of euros.

Here's to your bright new future in the EU. Incredible. I wonder if Poroshenko will tout this statistic as another validation of Ukrainians' confidence in his leadership.

[Nov 07, 2017] Washington's Wonderful World of Corruption - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... On the next day, Woolsey and his wife met separately with the same two Turkish businessmen at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City and discussed with them a more general but broadly based $10 million plan of their own that would combine lobbying with public relations to discredit Gülen both in the press and in congress. Woolsey stressed that he had the kind of contacts in government and the media to make the plan work. ..."
"... Woolsey did not get the $10 million contract that he sought and Flynn's well-remunerated work for Turkey reportedly consisted of some research, a short documentary that may or may not have been produced, and a November op-ed in The Hill ..."
"... But the real story about Flynn and Woolsey is the fashion in which senior ex-government employees shamelessly exploit their status to turn money from any and all comers without any regard for either the long- or short- term consequences of what they are doing. ..."
"... Just think. Casino king, lord of vice industry, is the #1 donor to the GOP. Politics was always about money, but now it's totally shameless. ..."
"... So did Flynn take the considerable risks of nondisclosure because he was an ideologue or was it primarily for the money? And was it pathological or just stupidly brazen? The Gereral's pardon awaits. ..."
"... What does one expect in a country where money dominates all ? The USA is a great country to live in when one is rich, anything goes, and horror when one is poor. The only way to escape horror is to get rich, and stay rich. I am severely ill, the Dutch health care system keeps me alive, at great cost. In the USA I would either be broke and dead, or simply dead. ..."
"... Just a couple observations here, but the world economy went into the toilet around the time the big Western economies started pushing all this anti-corruption stuff for businesses, and one cannot help but notice that political corruption in the West has become far more sophisticated in the past twenty years, with payoffs arriving after the fact to provide some degree of plausible deniability for the politicos and apparatchiks involved. ..."
"... 'As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value'. ..."
"... Then, Errol Morris was interviewed about his documentary film on Donald Rumfseld. Morris was scathing: Rumsfeld was all about his career, his voluminous "snowflake" memos were meandering BS, self-aggrandizing; Morris was especially outraged with Rumsfeld's reaction to a seriously wounded soldier -- it was a photo op; no measure of humanity was in evidence. Interesting contrast between McNamara and Rumsfeld ..."
Nov 07, 2017 | www.unz.com

Enter former General Michael Flynn and former Bill Clinton CIA Director James Woolsey, both of whom were national security advisers to candidate Donald Trump during his campaign when they competed for contracts with Turkish businessmen linked to the Erdogan government to discredit Gülen and possibly even enable his abduction and illegal transfer to Turkey. If, as a consequence of their labors, Gülen were to be somehow returned home he would potentially be tried on treason charges, which might in the near future carry the death penalty in Turkey.

Both Flynn and Woolsey are highly controversial figures. Woolsey, in spite of having no intelligence experience, was notoriously appointed CIA Director by Bill Clinton to reward the neoconservatives for their support of his candidacy. But Woolsey never met privately with the president during his two years in office. He is regarded as an ardent neocon and Islamophobe affiliated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). I once debated him on NPR where he asserted that Israel does not spy on the United States, a delusional viewpoint to be sure. Former CIA Senior analyst Mel Goodman, recalling Woolsey's tenure at the Agency, commented in 2003 that "[he] was a disaster as CIA director in the 90s and is now running around this country calling for a World War IV to deal with the Islamic problem. This is a dangerous individual "

Flynn, is, of course, better known, and not for any good qualities that he might possess. He is, like Woolsey, an ardent hawk on Iran and other related issues but is also ready to make a buck through his company The Flynn Intel Group, where Woolsey served as an unpaid adviser. In the summer of 2016 Flynn had obtained a three-month contract for $530,000 to "research" Gülen and produce a short documentary film discrediting him, an arrangement that should have been reported under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, but the big prize was a possible contract in the millions of dollars to create a negative narrative on the Hizmet founder and put pressure on the U.S. government to bring about his extradition.

Woolsey and Flynn, both Trump advisers at the time, found themselves in competition for the money. Flynn had a New York meeting at the Essex House with the businessmen accompanied by the Turkish Foreign and Energy Ministers as well as Erdogan's son-in-law on September 19 th 2016 where, inter alia, the possibility of kidnapping Gülen and flying him to Turkey was discussed. Flynn has denied that the possibility of kidnapping was ever raised, but Woolsey, who was at the meeting for a brief time, insists that "whisking away" Gülen in the dead of night was on the agenda, though he concedes that the discussion was "hypothetical."

On the next day, Woolsey and his wife met separately with the same two Turkish businessmen at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City and discussed with them a more general but broadly based $10 million plan of their own that would combine lobbying with public relations to discredit Gülen both in the press and in congress. Woolsey stressed that he had the kind of contacts in government and the media to make the plan work.

Woolsey did not get the $10 million contract that he sought and Flynn's well-remunerated work for Turkey reportedly consisted of some research, a short documentary that may or may not have been produced, and a November op-ed in The Hill by Flynn that denounced Gülen as a "radical Islamist who portrays himself as a moderate."

But the real story about Flynn and Woolsey is the fashion in which senior ex-government employees shamelessly exploit their status to turn money from any and all comers without any regard for either the long- or short- term consequences of what they are doing. The guilt or innocence of Fetullah Gülen was never an issue for them, nor the reputation of the United States judiciary in a case which has all the hallmarks of a political witch hunt. And if a kidnapping actually was contemplated, it begs one to pause and consider what kind of people are in power in this country.

Neither Flynn nor Woolsey ever considered that their working as presidential campaign advisers while simultaneously getting embroiled in an acrimonious political dispute involving a major ally just might be seen as a serious conflict of interest, even if it was technically not-illegal. All that motivated them was the desire to exploit a situation that they cared not at all about for profit to themselves.

No one expects top rank ex-officials to retire from the world, but out of respect for their former positions, they should retain at least a modicum of decency. This is lacking across the board from the Clintons on down to the Flynns and Woolseys as Americans apparently now expect less and less from their elected officials and have even ceased to demand minimal ethical standards.

Issac , November 7, 2017 at 2:32 am GMT

I've heard it said that Gülen was stateside precisely because of his potential leverage over Ankara. One could be forgiven thinking, therefor, that he had outlived his usefulness after the failed/faked coup. One might even consider sending him home would be a diplomatic gift to such a "major ally," as Turkey. Apparently Langley does not want this bargaining chip off the table just yet. Or do they? Who would even know?

Do you expect Americans to trust current national security state employees more than ex-, if indeed ex- even has the connotation one expects? On what basis would they make this judgement? Are most of the people in either camp not appointments from various neocon-influenced administrations? What would popular resentment of this corruption even look like? Would they demand the passing of legislation that could be ignored?

What ethical standards can be applied to an organization that can lie, under oath, without repercussion? In a world in which sixth generation American citizens are equated in every way with aggressive third-world refugees, the words "loyalty," and "corruption," have lost any foundation upon which they might have meaning.

Carlton Meyer , Website November 7, 2017 at 5:29 am GMT
And in the news today:

By CRAIG WHITLOCK | The Washington Post | Published: November 5, 2017

The "Fat Leonard" corruption investigation has expanded to include more than 60 admirals and hundreds of other U.S. Navy officers under scrutiny for their contacts with a defense contractor in Asia who systematically bribed sailors with sex, liquor and other temptations [like cash], according to the Navy.

Most of the admirals are suspected of attending extravagant feasts at Asia's best restaurants paid for by Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based maritime tycoon who made an illicit fortune supplying Navy vessels in ports from Vladivostok, Russia, to Brisbane, Australia. Francis also was renowned for hosting alcohol-soaked, after-dinner parties, which often featured imported prostitutes and sometimes lasted for days, according to federal court records.

RobinG , November 7, 2017 at 6:16 am GMT

the sell-out.. disease.. afflicting officials in national security.

corruption from the top down a combination of greed and dishonesty

Amen, Phil, and Americans are collateral damage.

General Michael Hayden abandoned an NSA cyber program –that could have prevented the 9/11 attack– in favor of a less effective plan that was more profitable for corporate security firms, and generated greater funding for the intelligence agency.

"A Good American" tells the story of former Technical director of NSA, Bill Binney, and a program called ThinThread. He and a small team within NSA created a surveillance tool that could pick up any electronic signal on earth, filter it for targets and render results in real-time. NSA leadership dumped it – three weeks prior to 9/11.

Watch it free, before it's taken down. https://youtu.be/FlkAxAc7EjI

Priss Factor , Website November 7, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
Just think. Casino king, lord of vice industry, is the #1 donor to the GOP. Politics was always about money, but now it's totally shameless.
Mark James , November 7, 2017 at 7:06 am GMT
So did Flynn take the considerable risks of nondisclosure because he was an ideologue or was it primarily for the money? And was it pathological or just stupidly brazen? The Gereral's pardon awaits.
jilles dykstra , November 7, 2017 at 7:35 am GMT
What does one expect in a country where money dominates all ? The USA is a great country to live in when one is rich, anything goes, and horror when one is poor. The only way to escape horror is to get rich, and stay rich. I am severely ill, the Dutch health care system keeps me alive, at great cost. In the USA I would either be broke and dead, or simply dead.
The Alarmist , November 7, 2017 at 9:23 am GMT
Oddly enough, I thought that Gülen was a Company asset, and that that was the reason they took Flynn down. Not that I know anything, just speculation.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, for anybody below the C-Suite there is an ever increasing pressure for compliance policies that outlaw all but the most trivial gifts or meals and entertainment in order to prevent corruption and abuse of position.

Just a couple observations here, but the world economy went into the toilet around the time the big Western economies started pushing all this anti-corruption stuff for businesses, and one cannot help but notice that political corruption in the West has become far more sophisticated in the past twenty years, with payoffs arriving after the fact to provide some degree of plausible deniability for the politicos and apparatchiks involved.

JackOH , November 7, 2017 at 9:41 am GMT
Phil, thanks. Every sentence tells here of an America off the rails.

A onetime local mayor in my area may offer an idea of the type of person we need. Pat U. has balls of steel. The Mob was against him. City hall bureaucrats were against him. The unions were against him. The police were against him. Corrupt cops threatened to frame him. The priest who'd married him and his wife was enlisted as an errand boy to deliver bribe money. Pat once publicly described our area as a "banana republic". He had a remote car starter installed to guard against assassination by car bombing. He was elected for multiple terms, and survived all attempts to crush him.

What did Pat have going for him? Personal anatomy. A wife who'd been a very young Polish WWII refugee, and who knew a thing or two about government gone bad and people gone bad. A strong, incorruptible law director, and a strong, incorruptible budget and finance guy. Charisma, and, of course, votes. He kept a local Mr. Big, a zillionaire briber of politicians, at a distance and worked warily with him. Pat met the challenges of an economically collapsing area pretty well.

How many politicians could weather the permanent storm of American corruption as well as Pat? Not a whole lot.

Greg Bacon , Website November 7, 2017 at 9:59 am GMT
The corruption in DC must be setting a record unmatched in history. It doesn't help that our craven, corrupt Congress sets its own rules regarding pay and benefits, but has also passed laws saying its 'OK' for those elite to engage in insider trading. Each Rep and Senator knows that kissing up to the Fortune 500 guarantees them a job after they leave Congress, with a fat paycheck, bennies and sexy secretaries more than happy to take DICKtation, all provided by the company's they took care of while in Congress.

Compounding the situation is the equally rotten DOJ, who has no problem going after blue-collar crime, but won't touch the real problem, those TBTF Wall Street banks acting like out-of-control casinos who then dump their losses on the backs on the American taxpayer. The latest USAG head Sessions is more confirmation that the Senate is a 'good ol' boys' and girls club that will not go after current and former members, as Sessions will NOT go after the thieving, lying, traitorous Hillary for her many crimes.

Its impossible to Drain the Swamp when it has so many creatures that snack on Americans and protect each other.

Short of a revolution, this can only end badly for Americans.

EliteCommInc. , November 7, 2017 at 10:29 am GMT
I would love to have seen that debate. I am not a fan of the contention that Iran embodies all things evil about Islam. But it is disappointing that Gen Flynn's advocacy is mired in a competition for financial contract.
Tom Welsh , November 7, 2017 at 10:41 am GMT
"We Americans appear to have done it all to ourselves through inexplicable tolerance for a combination of greed and fundamental dishonesty on the part of our elected and appointed government officials".

One thing about you Americans that often surprises foreigners is your readiness to believe that all this corruption is something new or different. It has been going on ever since well before 1776.

My own opinion is that systematic corruption is a more or less inevitable consequence of Americans' attempts to cut themselves off from all previous history and moral standards. There were to be no royalty, nobility, gentry – no one exceptional at all in any way.

Well, human nature abhors a lack of hierarchy: we need it almost as much as water, air, food, security. If you try to abolish all forms of hierarchy, all that happens is that it goes underground. What do Americans respect – what, indeed, have they respected most since (at least) the 1850s? Money. That's it. Cold hard cash. Wealth is next to godliness. The more money you have, the better a person you are thought to be – absolutely regardless of whether you got it by grinding the faces of the workers, murder, torture, drug dealing, or anything else.

But money is not, cannot be a value. Marx explained this in fairly simple terms, but the following is my favorite way of putting it.

'As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value'.

– Morris Berman, "The Moral Order", Counterpunch 8-10 February 2013. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/the-moral-order/

another fred , November 7, 2017 at 11:31 am GMT

We Americans appear to have done it all to ourselves through inexplicable tolerance for a combination of greed and fundamental dishonesty on the part of our elected and appointed government officials.

One might call it stupid to believe that a nation could invest its government with the power to handle and disburse vast sums of money without becoming corrupt. Then again one might call that belief insane. One thing is clear, giving the government that much power and money is sure to corrupt it. Anyone who expects anything else of human beings does not know much about human beings.

Z-man , November 7, 2017 at 11:54 am GMT
Flynn was the worst associate that Trump fell in love with. That's a flaw of Trump. He did get rid of Gorka and one or two other NeoCons, unfortunately he has an 'influential' son in law that he can't get rid of that easily whose connected by blood to Joo land. And then again he has a Zionist speech writer Steven Miller, who's very good pushing back the anti Trump press, but still a Zionist Joo . 'Second Coming' anyone? (Grin)
Moi , November 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm GMT
What's PG griping about? Our elected leaders, senior officials and corporate captains pretty accurately reflect what our country has devolved into.
jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm GMT
@JackOH

Thanks for that great story.

How many politicians could weather the permanent storm of American corruption as well as Pat? Not a whole lot.

I'd guess almost zero.

Hotzenplotz , November 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

„I know of no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property." Tocqueville

Dishonesty and greed – the American way from the beginning.

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh

My own opinion is that systematic corruption is a more or less inevitable consequence of Americans' attempts to cut themselves off from all previous history and moral standards. There were to be no royalty, nobility, gentry – no one exceptional at all in any way.

Well, the royalty, nobility, gentry as well as the chief priests and rabbis and and almost everyone in a position of power have historically been pretty corrupt, I'd say. In fact it's probably accurate to say that all of them have been based on violence, treachery and bullshit or some varying mixture of those things has been the rule since rule began.

As far as worshipping money, you are correct, but the systemic corruption is baked into the cake by the way most political systems generally arise, and it's not only an American phenomenon since a person reading Aristophanes, Plutarch, Juvenal, Herbert Spencer and tons more could as well be writing of current events. The concepts are unchanged; only the names, dates and minor particular issues have changed.

Upon arriving at Messene Philip proceeded to devastate the country like an enemy acting from passion rather than from reason. For he expected, apparently, that while he continued to inflict injuries, the sufferers would never feel any resentment or hatred towards him.

-The Histories of Polybius , Book VIII, pg 465, Section III. Affairs of Greece, Philip, and Messenia. published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1922 thru 1927

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/8*.html

The concept is not only ancient, but cross-cultural too.

" The Master said, 'Why do you not leave this place?' The answer was, 'There is no oppressive government here.' The Master then said to his disciples: 'Remember this, my little children. Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers.'"

-Confucius as quoted in The Ethics of Confucius, by Miles Menander Dawson, [1915]

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/eoc/eoc10.htm

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm GMT

What's PG griping about? Our elected leaders, senior officials and corporate captains pretty accurately reflect what our country has devolved into.

Sorry good sir, but no devolution needed. It was baked in the cake from inception. The "anti-federalists" warned us but the warnings fell on deaf (and powerless and preoccupied) ears.

Rich , November 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

I'm not trolling you, Jilles, you just keep showing up on this site bashing America with factually wrong statements. I'm aware that the Netherlands is a pleasant nation, both my wife and I have some Dutch ancestry, but the Netherlands, like the US, isn't perfect. The fact is that every country, from Venezuela to Monaco, is a great country when one is rich, I'd bet even Holland is nice if you've got a few bucks.

To your point about your health issues. Here in the US there are two primary medical insurance programs run by the government, Medicare and Medicaid. If you're over 65 you are automatically covered by Medicare, there are some low costs associated with it, but if you're too poor to pay them, you don't have to. Medicaid is a government run health insurance program for the poor and uninsured in the US. In most cases all medical conditions are covered for free in this program. No hospital emergency room in the US is allowed to refuse treatment, either. Could the system be better? Of course, but people aren't really dying in the streets, desperate for medical attention, as the leftists you read are telling you.

Carroll Price , November 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm GMT
Contrary to the proverb, fish DO NOT rot from the head down but from the gut. The rampant corruption practiced by elected and unelected US officials alike, simply mirrors that of the nation as a whole.

http://www.brainstormwarning.org/2008/10/30/the-fish-rots-from-the-head

DESERT FOX , November 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm GMT
Our government is not our government anymore , it is a criminal cabal ran for and by criminals and as such is not legitimate anymore and this has led to perpetual war for perpetual profit and perpetual corruption, we are Rome and the end is near.
Joe Hide , November 7, 2017 at 2:06 pm GMT
Amazing changes for the Good are taking place at an ever more rapid rate. The exposure of the shenanigans of Flynn and Woolsey are literal examples of the figurative "The darkness hates the Light because the Light exposes the darkness for it's evil deeds". The internet and authors like this allow the Light (Truth) into Humanities Consciousness. Keep it up Giraldi!
SolontoCroesus , November 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT
@Rich

Could the system be better? Of course, but people aren't really dying in the streets, desperate for medical attention, as the leftists you read are telling you.

That may or may not be so, I'd have to see some statistics. The evidence of my lyon' eyes tells me plenty of people are living on the streets. My gentrified neighborhood insisted that police remove the men who slept under dumpsters in the alleys -- they moved them to bridge abutments and abandoned industrial sites.

Public libraries are ersatz day-care-for-hoboes; libraries now have police patrolling to ensure that the mentally ill regulars do not act out too loudly or stink too badly. Washington, DC libraries post extensive rules on the bathroom doors: NO shaving, NO showering, NO sex in the bathrooms.

Hu Mi Yu , November 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX

we are Rome and the end is near.

I think of Athens in 415 BC just before the battle of Syracuse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Expedition

Old Ben , November 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm GMT
@another fred

Ben Franklin's famous quote while voting to adopt the US Constitution.

"Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
And that was back when the Fed Govt was designed to be much smaller and much less powerful than today. Today's great power concentrated in the US govt, including the power to destroy entire countries or businesses and of course people, as well as a great deal of money which can then thus make people fabulously wealthy, means that this govt is far more susceptable to corruption than the one old Ben Franklin was referring to.

In a country where money means anything and can buy anything, then one must assume that everything is corrupt.

Old and in the way , November 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

Academics, working from CDC statistics, estimated in 2009 that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of medical care.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/09/new-study-finds-45000-deaths-annually-linked-to-lack-of-health-coverage/

As a nation, we want to go nuts over a few hundred or perhaps a thousand deaths from illegal aliens, but we look the other way as tens of thousands die in order to make people rich(er) from a for-profit medical system.

Rich , November 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

Who are these hobos living in the street? Here in NYC they are drug addicts or mentally unstable people. Why are they allowed to live in the street? Because leftist judges and politicians have made it illegal to force them into mental hospitals or drug addiction facilities. Leftists believe this is a sign of their benevolence. I don't know of anyone who is actually homeless because of poverty in the US. There's just too many programs, from section 8, to welfare, to public housing available.

jacques sheete , November 7, 2017 at 4:21 pm GMT
@Old Ben

as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

I could be classified as a big fan of BF, but I think today he'd change that to as other forms have done before it, when the leaders shall become so corrupted as to benefit even more from despotic Government, being incapable of any other. It seems to me that the fish is always on the verge of rotting, and I on't know if it starts at the head or not, but the thing still stinks, and the head, at least, has always been pretty rotten.

Emidio Borg , November 7, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
There is more honour in a lake full of crocodiles than there is in the American heart.
anonymous , Disclaimer November 7, 2017 at 5:16 pm GMT
A couple references to "2017" should be corrected to 2016. Thank you for using this wonderfully bipartisan example. One has to be pretty naive to think that R and D mean much in Washington. Flush twice!
Jake , November 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm GMT
Of course, top officials sell out to anyone for anything. It is always that way in any Empire, save the ones ruled by very bright and brutal men who make it clear that so doing will cost in the biggest ways.

And then there is the fact of WASP culture being one in which everything is for sale. You can see the issue in all kinds of works of literature, from Jonson's The Alchemist to Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and beyond. That is what underlay the English rotating between fury and amusement that the Irish and Highlanders were to too stupid about pence and pounds to know when to sell, including their freedom and family heritage. The same dynamic was highlighted in Yankee WASPs versus Southerners, whose sense of honor was both hated furiously and laughed ay endlessly by pure-blood Anglo-Saxon Yankees.

Ron Unz , November 7, 2017 at 6:22 pm GMT
@Old and in the way

Academics, working from CDC statistics, estimated in 2009 that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of medical care As a nation, we want to go nuts over a few hundred or perhaps a thousand deaths from illegal aliens, but we look the other way as tens of thousands die in order to make people rich(er) from a for-profit medical system.

Actually, I think the former figure is a *gigantic* over-estimate. Offhand, I'd say there are something like 100 million middle-class white Americans and maybe 11 million or so illegal immigrants. And there were also over 17,000 total homicides during 2016.

Now if we're talking about ordinary middle-class whites murdered by illegals, I doubt the figure is even remotely close to 1-in-a-million per year, which would be a total of 100. In fact, I'm quite skeptical about whether the total is above 10/year, which would be one-in-10-million. That's the reason that neither VDare nor any of the other anti-immigrant webzines can almost ever find any real-life cases to talk about.

In my opinion, the notion that anything more than an infinitesimal number of American whites are murdered by illegals is just a total Internet hoax that's been endlessly propagated by silly activists.

If anyone on this thread thinks I'm wrong then I challenge them to locate at least 10 cases of ordinary middle-class whites murdered by illegals in 2016 (I'm not talking about Aryan Brotherhood gang members shivved in prison brawls or wives killing husbands/husbands killing wives). If you can't find ten cases in all of America during an entire year, then I'm probably right.

anonymous , Disclaimer November 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

I am not a fan of the contention that Iran embodies all things evil about Islam.

On the other hand, I am a fan of the contention that the white race embodies all things evil about Christianity.

MBlanc46 , November 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm GMT
"Modicum of decency"? By former elected officials and functionaries? Maybe in some other possible world.
Art , November 7, 2017 at 7:34 pm GMT
Did Flynn get crossways with the Mossad – is that why he is in trouble today? Clearly Gülen has protection in America – that has to mean Mossad/CIA backing. I have seen writing that says that Gülen has ties to Israel. That explains a lot. Think Peace -- Art
SolontoCroesus , November 7, 2017 at 8:13 pm GMT
Is corruption uniquely part of the US system of government (beyond the obvious propensity for all systems to become corrupted);
or does the US system of governance have unique loopholes, or systemic weaknesses, that make corruption more likely;
or is/has the US system of governance been corrupted by the machinations of a group or of some 'bad apples,'

Are Woolsey/Flynn examples of the "bad apple" notion: their lack of character has spread rot to the larger system? Their rot has normalized corruption?

Just watched two interviews, a conversation with Robert McNamara and Errol Morris, who directed the documentary, Fog of War, about McNamara's controversial career and decisions about war.

McNamara is widely described as an SOB of dubious moral fiber. In this conversation, he does not hide from his complicity in enormously harmful decisions, but does spell out the forces involved, not only the venal, career-protecting influences but also the realization that decisions involve the lives of large numbers of US men in uniform.

McNamara also tries to articulate the complexities -- and restraint -- with which past political leaders such as himself must approach their post-employment situation: while they do have knowledge, from experience, about situations, McNamara argues that it was his belief that he had to tread very lightly in making public opinions or prescriptions.

Then, Errol Morris was interviewed about his documentary film on Donald Rumfseld. Morris was scathing: Rumsfeld was all about his career, his voluminous "snowflake" memos were meandering BS, self-aggrandizing; Morris was especially outraged with Rumsfeld's reaction to a seriously wounded soldier -- it was a photo op; no measure of humanity was in evidence. Interesting contrast between McNamara and Rumsfeld

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man." Or Cometh the man, rot-eth the barrel."

Andrei Martyanov , Website November 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

McNamara is widely described as an SOB of dubious moral fiber. In this conversation, he does not hide from his complicity in enormously harmful decisions, but does spell out the forces involved, not only the venal, career-protecting influences but also the realization that decisions involve the lives of large numbers of US men in uniform.

Interesting that you mentioned it. I remember years ago watching McNamara's Q&A session after his lecture in one of the US "liberal" universities. I found myself surprised (in a good sense) with his into your face readiness to face anything thrown at him. He went ballistic when some student shouted "murderer" from back seats of the auditorium but McNamara spoke to this student passionately and personally. He was absolutely human and vulnerable, yet honest. In some sense it was very touching and you could see how it also tormented him.

As per neocons, from what I observed so far, I never encountered any indication of any of them being simply decent humans–they are human sewer.

[Oct 30, 2017] Nick Turse A Red Scare in the Gray Zone by Tom Engelhardt

Notable quotes:
"... Memo to Senator John McCain: ..."
Oct 29, 2017 | www.unz.com

Memo to Senator John McCain: Senator, the other day I noticed that, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, you threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for information about the recent attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers. "There's a mindset over there that they're a unicameral government," you said. "It was easier under Obama We are coequal branches of government; we should be informed at all times. We're just not getting the information in the timely fashion that we need."

How true! But let me make one small suggestion. If you really want to know what led to those deaths in Niger, the first place you might consider looking -- no subpoena needed -- is this very website, TomDispatch . Or, to be more specific, Nick Turse's coverage of the way U.S. Africa Command and American Special Operations forces have, with a certain stealth but also without significant coverage in the mainstream media, extended the war on terror deep into Africa. He alone has covered this story and the secret bases , widespread " training missions " (like the one in Niger), and barely noticed wars being fought there since at least 2012, when I was already writing this of his work:

"So here's another question: Who decided in 2007 that a U.S. Africa Command should be set up to begin a process of turning that continent into a web of U.S. bases and other operations? Who decided that every Islamist rebel group in Africa, no matter how local or locally focused, was a threat to the U.S., calling for a military response? Certainly not the American people, who know nothing about this, who were never asked if expanding the U.S. global military mission to Africa was something they favored, who never heard the slightest debate, or even a single peep from Washington on the subject."

By 2013, in a passage that sounds eerily up to date as we read of ISIS-allied militants on the lawless Niger-Mali border, he was already reporting that

"while correlation doesn't equal causation, there is ample evidence to suggest the United States has facilitated a terror diaspora, imperiling nations and endangering peoples across Africa. In the wake of 9/11, Pentagon officials were hard-pressed to show evidence of a major African terror threat. Today, the continent is thick with militant groups that are increasingly crossing borders, sowing insecurity, and throwing the limits of U.S. power into broad relief. After 10 years of U.S. operations to promote stability by military means, the results have been the opposite. Africa has become blowback central."

Four years later, when the Niger events occurred, nothing had changed, except that the U.S. military had moved, again with little attention (except from Turse), even deeper into the heart of Africa, setting up a remarkable array of bases and outposts of every sort (including two drone bases in Niger).

[Oct 30, 2017] A walk down memory lane

Oct 30, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Patient Observer , October 28, 2017 at 2:29 pm

A walk down memory lane:
http://theduran.com/5-discarded-anniversaries-of-western-led-aggression/
And here is the list:

1 The Korean War ends (1953
2 President Kennedy invades South Vietnam (1962)
3 The US overthrows Allende in Chile (1973)
4 The West installs Iranian dictator the Shah (1953)
5 The US-led Iraq invasion (2003)

Many honorable mentions including:
– NATO bombing of Serbia
– Libya
– Afghanistan
– Syria (support of ISIS and its predecessors and spinoffs)

The US body count is simply staggering – many millions killed, millions more wounded or poisoned (Vietnam – agent orange and other chemical agents) and tens of millions of lives forever damaged.

USA! USA! USA! (its elites that rule us of course!)

Cortes , October 29, 2017 at 6:23 pm
And no mention of

Indonesia.

Just the 1m plus deaths.

[Oct 30, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

Highly recommended!
The article contain some important observation about self-sustaining nature of the US militarism. It is able to create new threats and new insurgencies almost at will via CIA activities.
The key problem is that wars are highly profitable for important part of the ruling elite, especially representing finance and military industrial complex. Also now part of the US ruling elite now consists of "colonial administrators" which are directly interested in maintaining and expanding the US empire. This is trap from which nation might not be able to escape.
Notable quotes:
"... The critical "lesson of Vietnam" was summed up by Richard Barnet in his 1972 book Roots of War ..."
"... Even the senior officer corps of the U.S. military saw it that way, since many of them had survived the horrors of Vietnam as junior officers. The CIA could still wreak havoc in Latin America and elsewhere, but the full destructive force of the U.S. military was not unleashed again until the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the First Gulf War in 1991. ..."
"... Trump is facing these questions, not just in one country, Vietnam, but in dozens of countries across the world, and the interests perpetuating and fueling this cycle of crisis and war have only become more entrenched over time, as President Eisenhower warned that they would, despite the end of the Cold War and, until now, the lack of any actual military threat to the United States. ..."
"... The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World ..."
"... The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war. ..."
"... The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years. ..."
"... Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out. ..."
"... Journey to Extremism ..."
"... in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment ..."
"... Journey to Extremism in Africa ..."
"... The People's Perspectives ..."
"... : Civilian Involvement in Armed Conflict ..."
"... Journey to Extremism in Africa ..."
"... This is a textbook CIA operation on the same model as Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 60s. The CIA uses U.S. special forces and training missions to launch covert and proxy military operations that drive local populations into armed resistance groups, and then uses the presence of those armed resistance groups to justify ever-escalating U.S. military involvement. This is Vietnam redux on a continental scale. ..."
"... China is already too big and powerful for the U.S. to apply what is known as the Ledeen doctrine named for neoconservative theorist and intelligence operative Michael Ledeen who suggested that every 10 years or so, the United States "pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business." ..."
"... As long as the CIA and the U.S. military keep plunging the scapegoats for our failed policies into economic crisis, violence and chaos, the United States and the United Kingdom can remain the safe havens of the world's wealth, islands of privilege and excess amidst the storms they unleash on others. ..."
"... But if that is the only "significant national objective" driving these policies, it is surely about time for the 99 percent of Americans who reap no benefit from these murderous schemes to stop the CIA and its allies before they completely wreck the already damaged and fragile world in which we all must live, Americans and foreigners alike. ..."
"... Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program ..."
"... The CIA as Organized Crime ..."
"... : How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, ..."
"... In Venezuela, the CIA and the right-wing opposition are following the same strategy that President Nixon ordered the CIA to inflict on Chile, to "make the economy scream" in preparation for the 1973 coup. ..."
"... Age of Deception ..."
"... : Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times ..."
"... : the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare ..."
"... A Single Roll of the Dice ..."
"... : Obama's Diplomacy With Iran ..."
"... Obama's charm offensive invigorated old and new military alliances with the U.K., France and the Arab monarchies, and he quietly ran up the most expensive military budge t of any president since World War Two. ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a "rules-based" global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is "might makes right" -- and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer, writes Nicolas J.S. Davies.

As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it , and then pushing on regardless, all came down to "credibility": the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America's international credibility as a military power.

Once the CIA went to work in Vietnam to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords and the planned reunification of North and South through a free and fair election in 1956, the die was cast. The CIA's support for the repressive Diem regime and its successors ensured an ever-escalating war, as the South rose in rebellion, supported by the North. No U.S. president could extricate the U.S. from Vietnam without exposing the limits of what U.S. military force could achieve, betraying widely held national myths and the powerful interests that sustained and profited from them.

The critical "lesson of Vietnam" was summed up by Richard Barnet in his 1972 book Roots of War . "At the very moment that the number one nation has perfected the science of killing," Barnet wrote, "It has become an impractical means of political domination."

Even the senior officer corps of the U.S. military saw it that way, since many of them had survived the horrors of Vietnam as junior officers. The CIA could still wreak havoc in Latin America and elsewhere, but the full destructive force of the U.S. military was not unleashed again until the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the First Gulf War in 1991.

Half a century after Vietnam, we have tragically come full circle. With the CIA's politicized intelligence running wild in Washington and its covert operations spreading violence and chaos across every continent, President Trump faces the same pressures to maintain his own and his country's credibility as Johnson and Nixon did. His predictable response has been to escalate ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and West Africa, and to threaten new ones against North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

Trump is facing these questions, not just in one country, Vietnam, but in dozens of countries across the world, and the interests perpetuating and fueling this cycle of crisis and war have only become more entrenched over time, as President Eisenhower warned that they would, despite the end of the Cold War and, until now, the lack of any actual military threat to the United States.

Ironically but predictably, the U.S.'s aggressive and illegal war policy has finally provoked a real military threat to the U.S., albeit one that has emerged only in response to U.S. war plans. As I explained in a recent article , North Korea's discovery in 2016 of a U.S. plan to assassinate its president, Kim Jong Un, and launch a Second Korean War has triggered a crash program to develop long-range ballistic missiles that could give North Korea a viable nuclear deterrent and prevent a U.S. attack. But the North Koreans will not feel safe from attack until their leaders and ours are sure that their missiles can deliver a nuclear strike against the U.S. mainland.

The CIA's Pretexts for War

U.S. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty was the chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1955 to 1964, managing the global military support system for the CIA in Vietnam and around the world. Fletcher Prouty's book, The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the United States and the World , was suppressed when it was first published in 1973. Thousands of copies disappeared from bookstores and libraries, and a mysterious Army Colonel bought the entire shipment of 3,500 copies the publisher sent to Australia. But Prouty's book was republished in 2011, and it is a timely account of the role of the CIA in U.S. policy.

Prouty surprisingly described the role of the CIA as a response by powerful people and interests to the abolition of the U.S. Department of War and the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. Once the role of the U.S. military was redefined as one of defense, in line with the United Nations Charter's prohibition against the threat or use of military force in 1945 and similar moves by other military powers, it would require some kind of crisis or threat to justify using military force in the future, both legally and politically. The main purpose of the CIA, as Prouty saw it, is to create such pretexts for war.

The CIA is a hybrid of an intelligence service that gathers and analyzes foreign intelligence and a clandestine service that conducts covert operations. Both functions are essential to creating pretexts for war, and that is what they have done for 70 years.

Prouty described how the CIA infiltrated the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Council and other government institutions, covertly placing its officers in critical positions to ensure that its plans are approved and that it has access to whatever forces, weapons, equipment, ammunition and other resources it needs to carry them out.

Many retired intelligence officers, such as Ray McGovern and the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), saw the merging of clandestine operations with intelligence analysis in one agency as corrupting the objective analysis they tried to provide to policymakers. They formed VIPS in 2003 in response to the fabrication of politicized intelligence that provided false pretexts for the U.S. to invade and destroy Iraq.

CIA in Syria and Africa

But Fletcher Prouty was even more disturbed by the way that the CIA uses clandestine operations to trigger coups, wars and chaos. The civil and proxy war in Syria is a perfect example of what Prouty meant. In late 2011, after destroying Libya and aiding in the torture-murder of Muammar Gaddafi, the CIA and its allies began flying fighters and weapons from Libya to Turkey and infiltrating them into Syria. Then, working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Croatia and other allies, this operation poured thousands of tons of weapons across Syria's borders to ignite and fuel a full-scale civil war.

Once these covert operations were under way, they ran wild until they had unleashed a savage Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, now rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), spawned the even more savage "Islamic State," triggered the heaviest and probably the deadliest U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam and drawn Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Hezbollah, Kurdish militias and almost every state or armed group in the Middle East into the chaos of Syria's civil war.

Meanwhile, as Al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their operations across Africa, the U.N. has published a report titled Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment , based on 500 interviews with African militants. This study has found that the kind of special operations and training missions the CIA and AFRICOM are conducting and supporting in Africa are in fact the critical "tipping point" that drives Africans to join militant groups like Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab and Boko Haram.

The report found that government action, such as the killing or detention of friends or family, was the "tipping point" that drove 71 percent of African militants interviewed to join armed groups, and that this was a more important factor than religious ideology.

The conclusions of Journey to Extremism in Africa confirm the findings of other similar studies. The Center for Civilians in Conflict interviewed 250 civilians who joined armed groups in Bosnia, Somalia, Gaza and Libya for its 2015 study, The People's Perspectives : Civilian Involvement in Armed Conflict . The study found that the most common motivation for civilians to join armed groups was simply to protect themselves or their families.

The role of U.S. "counterterrorism" operations in fueling armed resistance and terrorism, and the absence of any plan to reduce the asymmetric violence unleashed by the "global war on terror," would be no surprise to Fletcher Prouty. As he explained, such clandestine operations always take on a life of their own that is unrelated, and often counter-productive, to any rational U.S. policy objective.

"The more intimate one becomes with this activity," Prouty wrote, "The more one begins to realize that such operations are rarely, if ever, initiated from an intent to become involved in pursuit of some national objective in the first place."

The U.S. justifies the deployment of 6,000 U.S. special forces and military trainers to 53 of the 54 countries in Africa as a response to terrorism. But the U.N.'s Journey to Extremism in Africa study makes it clear that the U.S. militarization of Africa is in fact the "tipping point" that is driving Africans across the continent to join armed resistance groups in the first place.

This is a textbook CIA operation on the same model as Vietnam in the late 1950s and early 60s. The CIA uses U.S. special forces and training missions to launch covert and proxy military operations that drive local populations into armed resistance groups, and then uses the presence of those armed resistance groups to justify ever-escalating U.S. military involvement. This is Vietnam redux on a continental scale.

Taking on China

What seems to really be driving the CIA's militarization of U.S. policy in Africa is China's growing influence on the continent. As Steve Bannon put it in an interview with the Economist in August, "Let's go screw up One Belt One Road."

China is already too big and powerful for the U.S. to apply what is known as the Ledeen doctrine named for neoconservative theorist and intelligence operative Michael Ledeen who suggested that every 10 years or so, the United States "pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business."

China is too powerful and armed with nuclear weapons. So, in this case, the CIA's job would be to spread violence and chaos to disrupt Chinese trade and investment, and to make African governments increasingly dependent on U.S. military aid to fight the militant groups spawned and endlessly regenerated by U.S.-led "counterterrorism" operations.

Neither Ledeen nor Bannon pretend that such policies are designed to build more prosperous or viable societies in the Middle East or Africa, let alone to benefit their people. They both know very well what Richard Barnet already understood 45 years ago, that America's unprecedented investment in weapons, war and CIA covert operations are only good for one thing: to kill people and destroy infrastructure, reducing cities to rubble, societies to chaos and the desperate survivors to poverty and displacement.

As long as the CIA and the U.S. military keep plunging the scapegoats for our failed policies into economic crisis, violence and chaos, the United States and the United Kingdom can remain the safe havens of the world's wealth, islands of privilege and excess amidst the storms they unleash on others.

But if that is the only "significant national objective" driving these policies, it is surely about time for the 99 percent of Americans who reap no benefit from these murderous schemes to stop the CIA and its allies before they completely wreck the already damaged and fragile world in which we all must live, Americans and foreigners alike.

Douglas Valentine has probably studied the CIA in more depth than any other American journalist, beginning with his book on The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. He has written a new book titled The CIA as Organized Crime : How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, in which he brings Fletcher Prouty's analysis right up to the present day, describing the CIA's role in our current wars and the many ways it infiltrates, manipulates and controls U.S. policy.

The Three Scapegoats

In Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he named North Korea, Iran and Venezuela as his prime targets for destabilization, economic warfare and, ultimately, the overthrow of their governments, whether by coup d'etat or the mass destruction of their civilian population and infrastructure. But Trump's choice of scapegoats for America's failures was obviously not based on a rational reassessment of foreign policy priorities by the new administration. It was only a tired rehashing of the CIA's unfinished business with two-thirds of Bush's "axis of evil" and Bush White House official Elliott Abrams' failed 2002 coup in Caracas, now laced with explicit and illegal threats of aggression.

How Trump and the CIA plan to sacrifice their three scapegoats for America's failures remains to be seen. This is not 2001, when the world stood silent at the U.S. bombardment and invasion of Afghanistan after September 11th. It is more like 2003, when the U.S. destruction of Iraq split the Atlantic alliance and alienated most of the world. It is certainly not 2011, after Obama's global charm offensive had rebuilt U.S. alliances and provided cover for French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Cameron, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Arab royals to destroy Libya, once ranked by the U.N. as the most developed country in Africa , now mired in intractable chaos.

In 2017, a U.S. attack on any one of Trump's scapegoats would isolate the United States from many of its allies and undermine its standing in the world in far-reaching ways that might be more permanent and harder to repair than the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

In Venezuela, the CIA and the right-wing opposition are following the same strategy that President Nixon ordered the CIA to inflict on Chile, to "make the economy scream" in preparation for the 1973 coup. But the solid victory of Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party in recent nationwide gubernatorial elections, despite a long and deep economic crisis, reveals little public support for the CIA's puppets in Venezuela.

The CIA has successfully discredited the Venezuelan government through economic warfare, increasingly violent right-wing street protests and a global propaganda campaign. But the CIA has stupidly hitched its wagon to an extreme right-wing, upper-class opposition that has no credibility with most of the Venezuelan public, who still turn out for the Socialists at the polls. A CIA coup or U.S. military intervention would meet fierce public resistance and damage U.S. relations all over Latin America.

Boxing In North Korea

A U.S. aerial bombardment or "preemptive strike" on North Korea could quickly escalate into a war between the U.S. and China, which has reiterated its commitment to North Korea's defense if North Korea is attacked. We do not know exactly what was in the U.S. war plan discovered by North Korea, so neither can we know how North Korea and China could respond if the U.S. pressed ahead with it.

Most analysts have long concluded that any U.S. attack on North Korea would be met with a North Korean artillery and missile barrage that would inflict unacceptable civilian casualties on Seoul, a metropolitan area of 26 million people, three times the population of New York City. Seoul is only 35 miles from the frontier with North Korea, placing it within range of a huge array of North Korean weapons. What was already a no-win calculus is now compounded by the possibility that North Korea could respond with nuclear weapons, turning any prospect of a U.S. attack into an even worse nightmare.

U.S. mismanagement of its relations with North Korea should be an object lesson for its relations with Iran, graphically demonstrating the advantages of diplomacy, talks and agreements over threats of war. Under the Agreed Framework signed in 1994, North Korea stopped work on two much larger nuclear reactors than the small experimental one operating at Yongbyong since 1986, which only produces 6 kg of plutonium per year, enough for one nuclear bomb.

The lesson of Bush's Iraq invasion in 2003 after Saddam Hussein had complied with demands that he destroy Iraq's stockpiles of chemical weapons and shut down a nascent nuclear program was not lost on North Korea. Not only did the invasion lay waste to large sections of Iraq with hundreds of thousands of dead but Hussein himself was hunted down and condemned to death by hanging.

Still, after North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006, even its small experimental reactor was shut down as a result of the "Six Party Talks" in 2007, all the fuel rods were removed and placed under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the cooling tower of the reactor was demolished in 2008.

But then, as relations deteriorated, North Korea conducted a second nuclear weapon test and again began reprocessing spent fuel rods to recover plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

North Korea has now conducted six nuclear weapons tests. The explosions in the first five tests increased gradually up to 15-25 kilotons, about the yield of the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but estimates for the yield of the 2017 test range from 110 to 250 kilotons , comparable to a small hydrogen bomb.

The even greater danger in a new war in Korea is that the U.S. could unleash part of its arsenal of 4,000 more powerful weapons (100 to 1,200 kilotons), which could kill millions of people and devastate and poison the region, or even the world, for years to come.

The U.S. willingness to scrap the Agreed Framework in 2003, the breakdown of the Six Party Talks in 2009 and the U.S. refusal to acknowledge that its own military actions and threats create legitimate defense concerns for North Korea have driven the North Koreans into a corner from which they see a credible nuclear deterrent as their only chance to avoid mass destruction.

China has proposed a reasonable framework for diplomacy to address the concerns of both sides, but the U.S. insists on maintaining its propaganda narratives that all the fault lies with North Korea and that it has some kind of "military solution" to the crisis.

This may be the most dangerous idea we have heard from U.S. policymakers since the end of the Cold War, but it is the logical culmination of a systematic normalization of deviant and illegal U.S. war-making that has already cost millions of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. As historian Gabriel Kolko wrote in Century of War in 1994, "options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles."

Demonizing Iran

The idea that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program is seriously contested by the IAEA, which has examined every allegation presented by the CIA and other Western "intelligence" agencies as well as Israel. Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei revealed many details of this wild goose chase in his 2011 memoir, Age of Deception : Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times .

When the CIA and its partners reluctantly acknowledged the IAEA's conclusions in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), ElBaradei issued a press release confirming that, "the agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran."

Since 2007, the IAEA has resolved all its outstanding concerns with Iran. It has verified that dual-use technologies that Iran imported before 2003 were in fact used for other purposes, and it has exposed the mysterious "laptop documents" that appeared to show Iranian plans for a nuclear weapon as forgeries. Gareth Porter thoroughly explored all these questions and allegations and the history of mistrust that fueled them in his 2014 book, Manufactured Crisis : the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare , which I highly recommend.

But, in the parallel Bizarro world of U.S. politics, hopelessly poisoned by the CIA's endless disinformation campaigns, Hillary Clinton could repeatedly take false credit for disarming Iran during her presidential campaign, and neither Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump nor any corporate media interviewer dared to challenge her claims.

"When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb," Clinton fantasized in a prominent foreign policy speech on June 2, 2016, claiming that her brutal sanctions policy "brought Iran to the table."

In fact, as Trita Parsi documented in his 2012 book, A Single Roll of the Dice : Obama's Diplomacy With Iran , the Iranians were ready, not just to "come to the table," but to sign a comprehensive agreement based on a U.S. proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in 2010. But, in a classic case of "tail wags dog," the U.S. then rejected its own proposal because it would have undercut support for tighter sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In other words, Clinton's sanctions policy did not "bring Iran to the table", but prevented the U.S. from coming to the table itself.

As a senior State Department official told Trita Parsi, the real problem with U.S. diplomacy with Iran when Clinton was at the State Department was that the U.S. would not take "Yes" for an answer. Trump's ham-fisted decertification of Iran's compliance with the JCPOA is right out of Clinton's playbook, and it demonstrates that the CIA is still determined to use Iran as a scapegoat for America's failures in the Middle East.

The spurious claim that Iran is the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism is another CIA canard reinforced by endless repetition. It is true that Iran supports and supplies weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which are both listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. But they are mainly defensive resistance groups that defend Lebanon and Gaza respectively against invasions and attacks by Israel.

Shifting attention away from Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and other groups that actually commit terrorist crimes around the world might just seem like a case of the CIA "taking its eyes off the ball," if it wasn't so transparently timed to frame Iran with new accusations now that the manufactured crisis of the nuclear scare has run its course.

What the Future Holds

Barack Obama's most consequential international achievement may have been the triumph of symbolism over substance behind which he expanded and escalated the so-called "war on terror," with a vast expansion of covert operations and proxy wars that eventually triggered the heaviest U.S. aerial bombardments since Vietnam in Iraq and Syria.

Obama's charm offensive invigorated old and new military alliances with the U.K., France and the Arab monarchies, and he quietly ran up the most expensive military budget of any president since World War Two.

But Obama's expansion of the "war on terror" under cover of his deceptive global public relations campaign created many more problems than it solved, and Trump and his advisers are woefully ill-equipped to solve any of them. Trump's expressed desire to place America first and to resist foreign entanglements is hopelessly at odds with his aggressive, bullying approach to every foreign policy problem.

If the U.S. could threaten and fight its way to a resolution of any of its international problems, it would have done so already. That is exactly what it has been trying to do since the 1990s, behind both the swagger and bluster of Bush and Trump and the deceptive charm of Clinton and Obama: a "good cop – bad cop" routine that should no longer fool anyone anywhere.

But as Lyndon Johnson found as he waded deeper and deeper into the Big Muddy in Vietnam, lying to the public about unwinnable wars does not make them any more winnable. It just gets more people killed and makes it harder and harder to ever tell the public the truth.

In unwinnable wars based on lies, the "credibility" problem only gets more complicated, as new lies require new scapegoats and convoluted narratives to explain away graveyards filled by old lies. Obama's cynical global charm offensive bought the "war on terror" another eight years, but that only allowed the CIA to drag the U.S. into more trouble and spread its chaos to more places around the world.

Meanwhile, Russian President Putin is winning hearts and minds in capitals around the world by calling for a recommitment to the rule of international law , which prohibits the threat or use of military force except in self-defense. Every new U.S. threat or act of aggression will only make Putin's case more persuasive, not least to important U.S. allies like South Korea, Germany and other members of the European Union, whose complicity in U.S. aggression has until now helped to give it a false veneer of political legitimacy.

Throughout history, serial aggression has nearly always provoked increasingly united opposition, as peace-loving countries and people have reluctantly summoned the courage to stand up to an aggressor. France under Napoleon and Hitler's Germany also regarded themselves as exceptional, and in their own ways they were. But in the end, their belief in their exceptionalism led them on to defeat and destruction.

Americans had better hope that we are not so exceptional, and that the world will find a diplomatic rather than a military "solution" to its American problem. Our chances of survival would improve a great deal if American officials and politicians would finally start to act like something other than putty in the hands of the CIA.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq . He also wrote the chapters on "Obama at War" in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader .

[Oct 30, 2017] The Crooks, the Clowns and the Nazis by Saker

Questionable analysis by Saker (omitted for brevity). Some good comments in the discussion. The situation with the standard of living in Ukraine is really bad and it is unclear how it can improve. If you get 4000 grivna monthly salary and pay for the apartment around 2000 (heating with gas at winter often is over 1000 grivna) you can barely survive on the remaining money (2000 grivna is around 66 grivna a day) . Even food is a problem, unless you adhere to basic diet of bread, milk, eggs and potatoes. You simply can't. They are in a trap. This war in Donbass just make the bad situation even worse. But it sill continue, because there are powerful forces interesting in escalation of this war.
Notable quotes:
"... Just because one thinks American moves are not "strategic" only means you don't fully grasp what is going on. Remember, the narrative which is being presented here is that the United States has caused both conflicts. A coup in Ukraine and supporting regime-change in Syria. That necessitates that Russia is reacting – not calling the shots. ..."
"... Ask yourself a simple question: would Washington be better off with the status quo ante, would they be happy to go back to 2012? Of course they would – Crimea would be in Ukraine and in play, Russia would be subsidising Ukraine (not EU or IMF). But most importantly Russia would be sweating what 'might happen' with Crimea. Once West made its move and lost that threat was gone. It was just stupid. ..."
"... My take is that people there, based on a long experience, simply recognize that they are caught between two oligarchies, and unwilling to choose between them. That lethargy (for a lack of better word) is interesting. They don't buy US/West vision anymore. The thing is, they don't buy Russian either. They just don't care. Maybe that's worse than fighting for either side. ..."
"... The United States does not care about Poland or Estonia or Crimea or Ukraine or Syria or Georgia or even whether the other NATO members spend enough money. It cares about the bigger long-term picture. ..."
"... All this stuff like the coup in Ukraine, sanctions over Crimea – it's just probing moves, games. The US has Putin boxed in. He's got to scrape and claw over nothing. ..."
"... I guess it's kinda true in the sense that the US specifically (not necessarily the West as such, it seems) needs to have the uninterrupted chain of wars and cartoonish all-powerful super-evil adversaries threatening its very existence. I suppose it's needed for economic (mic) reasons, to maintain the internal unity/morale/discipline, and to run the usual protection racket abroad. Sorta like Oceania in Orwell's 1984. ..."
"... Russia is boxed in by its geography, and so is China. There is nothing new there. Enemies have been pressing on Russia's extensive borders forever. It is not likely that anyone would actually try to cross that border given this one reality: nuclear weapons. Unless the constant prodding has an answer to that reality, what is it all about? What's the point? ..."
"... Wars happen even if nobody 'wants' them. There are situations when wars happen almost on their own and nobody ever claims ownership. And if there is a war, there will be fighting in Poland – it is literally ground zero (as so often before), and no amount of NY Times editorials will make any damn difference. The country is too small, so it would be annihilated. Poland is storing missiles and 'defensive' divisions for its allies across the Atlantic with an open admission that they are targeting Russia. What do you think would happen in a real crisis or a war? Do you think US would look kindly at Russian missiles in Canada or Mexico? That is the true madness, and Poland is kind of in a heart of it. As so often before. ..."
"... At the end, I suspect, when/if it comes to renewal of hostilities, it will be: First and foremost artillery exchanges. Nothing changes. Then, small unit raids. Nothing changes. Then, tactical incursions by Ukrainian best. After initial success they'll be met by Donbas best.Because either side don't have many of those nothing changes too. A lot of talk from Washington and Moscow. Some dead/mutilated mercenaries. And while those "games" go the rest of peoples there just keep what they've been doing so far. Oceania vs Eurasia .. ..."
"... The single best way to assure that there isn't a 'regime change' is by constant probing of Russia's borders, by constant attacks, etc So I don't buy that, the experts in Washington are not that stupid. They understand fully well that placing missiles, coups, border harassment are by far the most reliable way to make sure that nothing changes in Moscow. ..."
"... The Ukraine situation will not be decided by fighting in Donbass, or in Moscow. It will be decided in Kiev (and Odessa, Lviv, Charkov) by the currently passive masses. Unless a miracle happens, or most people emigrate, this is not a sustainable situation. They are living worse than in 2013, and they already had it very bad in 2013. Marshall Plan isn't coming, membership in EU isn't coming either. Once that sinks in – it might take 5-10 years – things will change. ..."
"... That seems to be Russia's strategy. I agree that by far the best thing Moscow could do is to improve quality of life in Russia. Nato strategy is to delay it by any means: sanctions, energy, new arms race, whatever they can think off, lately mostly media campaigns. ..."
"... In Ukraine the EU-West infatuation will take a long time to dissipate. Getting hurt will eventually lead to making things better in the head , but it will take at least a generation. And things don't stay quiet for that long, other events will intervene. A circle cannot be squared: Kiev has attempted a great leap into its imagined future – Europe!!! – they bet everything on it, cut off all else, and there is no realistic way the leap will land Ukraine happily and soon enough in EU. EU will not agree to absorb 40 million poor people who mostly just want to live immediately like Germans, or move there. This is a mad dream, reality will intervene. ..."
"... I am sorry but I have to say this. How has led by Kissinger and Nixon strategy of opening China worked out? Is creating major geopolitical foe where there was none considered a sign of deep strategically long term thinking? ..."
"... The Ukrainian nationalists think that based on their accomplishments as a nation (there are none) they rightfully deserve to be geographically located somewhere between Germany and France. For this state of affairs they again blame the Russians. You see, because Russia is so big, and definitely in Eastern Europe, that they have the gravitational force that keeps Ukraine in Eastern Europe. If it wasn't for the Russians, Ukraine would have long ago catapulted into Western Europe – probably even geographically. It's only Russia that prevents them from acquiring their rightful place in the heart of Europe. ..."
"... In Ukrainians' defence, they have a bad location: wide-open, unprotected, with few geographic features and at the same time very high-quality earth. On second thought, if Ukraine, as is, was located in Western Europe 'somewhere between Germany and France' , I would be willing to bet that not a single Ukrainian would exist today. The Western Europeans know their genocide and know how to pacify populations. They almost got to them during WWII, Ukraine was the lebensraum that Nazis dreamt about. ..."
"... the assassination attempt on Mosiychuk [the former deputy commander of the infamous neo-Nazi Azov Battalio] is the initial phase of an escalation of the conflict between the Nazis and Jewish oligarchs headed by President Poroshenko, an escalation which is transitioning from a political to a "hot", or armed phase. ..."
"... Btw, Kolomoysky is an Israeli citizen. Speaking about Holocaust deniers – is it kosher to support neo-Nazi and work on the resurrection of Nazism in Ukraine and to remain an honorable Israeli citizen? It seems that Kolomoysky is such case. Next time the Israel-firsters attempt to squeal about any critics of "Holocaust story" they should be presented with the story of Jewish oligarch Kolomoysky. ..."
"... Your usage of the imbecilic word 'regime' betrays bias. What the f k is a'regime'? Is EU a 'regime', or the Saudi king, or China? If not, why not? Stick with term government and use it for all and you won't sound like a bitter dead-ender unable to see things rationally. ..."
"... Decent article, although some generalizations which is understandable. Couple points about Poland. Yes its allied with neocons atm (the bad). The government has some forces somewhat supporting Ukraine (Basically as long as the blame is focused on Russia). The government knows there are "neonazi" elements, as has mentioned Ukraine will not join EU until they stop that. As for the people Poland is divided like crazy on the Ukraine issue. ..."
"... Pax Americana's wave broke and is now rolling back out to sea, creating undertows as it goes. ..."
"... The ramifications of that sea change will take years, maybe decades, to play themselves out, but my assessment is that there will be no active "roll back (of the) '90s" or that said roll back is desirable/possible. The Ukraine and Serbia/Kosovo will wind up having to fit themselves into whatever new paradigm the world will be living under at the time. That paradigm won't be American led, or of American design. ..."
"... I don't see much of a future for Ukraine. Neither the West nor Russia is willing to underwrite the massive investment that would be required to rebuild the economy. Sure it makes sense to split the country. However, both sides are more than willing to live with an impoverished buffer between NATO and Russia. If the country is split, there is no longer any territorial disputes and the new West Ukraine ultimately becomes a NATO member and NATO weapons move hundreds of miles closer to the Russian border. Not to mention the fact that Russia would find it expensive to subsidize the new government. Same with the EU. ..."
"... The Black Sea may be important to Russia's regional aspirations, but for the US, what could be better than have as many Russian naval vessels as possible parked there? ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Johnny Rico , October 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm GMT

Russian activity in Syria and Ukraine are moves of desperation from a position of weakness. The United States has Russia boxed in. The United States forced Putin to take these actions. He would be removed from power otherwise. He had no choice. He is not in control.

In Russia you are either strong and in total control or they murder you. At least that has been the case for the last thousand years.

There was no "huge effort not to intervene." If there was, I'd like to know who made it and when.

This is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Comparisons to American involvement in these two places have limited utility.

Just because one thinks American moves are not "strategic" only means you don't fully grasp what is going on. Remember, the narrative which is being presented here is that the United States has caused both conflicts. A coup in Ukraine and supporting regime-change in Syria. That necessitates that Russia is reacting – not calling the shots.

The United States is not in "control" either, but it has the initiative and has Putin off-balance.

Priss Factor , Website October 26, 2017 at 3:49 pm GMT
To better understand what is going on, all three groups -- crooks, clowns, and nazis -- fall into the schnook category. They are being duped and used by the Globalist Empire that also controls the US. US is the Jewel in the Crown of the Globalist Empire but still a subject than a sovereign nation. It's like India was the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire but not a free independent nation.

... ... ...

Beckow , October 26, 2017 at 4:17 pm GMT
@Johnny Rico

Assigning emotional labels is not helpful. You are right that Ukraine is nothing like Iraq or Afghanistan, it is hard to understand why Saker would use such a facile analogy.

You are also right that US-West have the initiative. But that is not necessarily a sustainable advantage. Hitler had the initiative too, and so did Napoleon, they had all the initiative until they didn't. (I know poor analogy, but tempting).

The prize in Ukraine was Crimea and the Russian Naval base. That was the prize, not who gets to grow potatoes in Lviv or scoop up coal in Donbass. Crimea is gone, and I think all rational people would agree that for now that is irreversible. So what is the fight about? Torch marching in Kiev, Nato relevancy, or who gets to subsidise 40 million very poor people? To control Ukraine (Kiev really) is now a hot potato that nobody particularly wants. It is like fighting over who has the control of Bihar in India, or eastern Nigeria, or any number of poor, non-strategic backwaters full of people who mostly want to emigrate.

Washington (with Poland and a few other fire-eating nut-cases in EU) made a strong move in 2013-14 trying to get their hands on Crimea and to replace the very strategic Russian Navy base in Sebastopol with a Nato base. They invested a lot in it, and they had the initiative. But the locals screwed up, they were too slow, too unfocused and too distracted by nationalism. So Russia won Crimea and all else are just provincial consequences of little long-term interest.

Ask yourself a simple question: would Washington be better off with the status quo ante, would they be happy to go back to 2012? Of course they would – Crimea would be in Ukraine and in play, Russia would be subsidising Ukraine (not EU or IMF). But most importantly Russia would be sweating what 'might happen' with Crimea. Once West made its move and lost that threat was gone. It was just stupid.

peterAUS , October 26, 2017 at 5:32 pm GMT
@Johnny Rico

A coup in Ukraine and supporting regime-change in Syria. That necessitates that Russia is reacting – not calling the shots.

The United States is not in "control" either, but it has the initiative and has Putin off-balance.

Well, I'd say:
A coup in Ukraine and supporting regime-change in Syria. That necessitates that Russia was reacting – not calling the shots.

The United States is not in "control" either, but it has the initiative and had Putin off-balance.

What has been interesting to me is something Martyanov hinted to here:

no part of the Novorossia, with the exception of Lugansk and Donetsk, matched even one tenth of scale and effort required to get back to Russia, or, at least, get away from Kiev. I don't blame them but it is what it is and this couldn't be ignored and it is not being ignored, thankfully.

My take is that people there, based on a long experience, simply recognize that they are caught between two oligarchies, and unwilling to choose between them. That lethargy (for a lack of better word) is interesting. They don't buy US/West vision anymore. The thing is, they don't buy Russian either. They just don't care. Maybe that's worse than fighting for either side.

When you are, effectively, in a state of constant conflict between states and most of population doesn't care, that looks as people there got their spirit crushed. And, oligarchies do like people with crushed spirit. Just a pliable mass doing what's told. Just a thought.

Beckow , October 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm GMT
@Mao Cheng Ji

Initiative means that US-West are the ones starting conflicts. It is neither good nor bad and initiatives that fail are worse than if they had done nothing. That is true about Iraq, Syria, Libya and Ukraine; in each case the status quo before the 'initiative' was better. Russia and China don't show anywhere as much 'initiative', they mostly react, they don't set the agenda.

People with too much initiative get stuck in muck of their own creation and eventually lose even what they safely controlled before. But the Washington-Brussels elites cannot help it, they must start things because they are not fully serious, they have had it too good, they believe in their own mythologized narratives, and their careers are based on it. So they will keep it going. The insurgencies within the domestic domain are still very minor, this has years to go, maybe decades.

Johnny Rico , October 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm GMT
@Beckow

I agree with much of what you say.

My feeling is that The Saker is always talking about the superiority of Russian "strategy" in retrospect while speculating about the minutiae of tactical deployments.

Americans rarely talk strategy and there is always an ongoing discussion in the higher levels of foreign policy academia and journals about what exactly the policy or strategy is or whether we even need one.

That was the title of Kissinger's 2002 book :

Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century

This, however, does not mean there is no strategy.

The United States does not care about Poland or Estonia or Crimea or Ukraine or Syria or Georgia or even whether the other NATO members spend enough money. It cares about the bigger long-term picture.

We are not fighting insurgencies (as Mao Cheng Ji contends). That ended in Iraq in about 2010 and Afghanistan in about 2012.

Since 1980, Russia and the Soviet Union have lost FAR more troops (especially as a proportion of total population) in combat than the United States.

Everywhere US elite light infantry troops are stationed now they basically sit on their asses safe in bases. Occasionally they go out and call in airstrikes for local allies or conduct a raid on a "high-value target." Occasionally they die or get suicide-bombed by a local infiltrator.

All the guys I've ever met that are in these units LIVE to do what they are doing. I even know a couple dozen guys who have been either kicked out of the military or been wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq and they still say that the best time of their lives was walking around over there with a rifle.

They would be quite surprised by the notion that they are being forced to do what they do by the "ZioMedia" – whatever that is. This is not 1968 in Vietnam.

Syria has no oil. Ukraine is a basket-case economy with too many people. Georgia has 4 million people. That's more than Albania and less than Massachusetts. Most Americans couldn't find the state of Georgia on a map – nevermind the country.

Now in 2008 Russia launched an assault on Georgia that it had been planning for at least a decade after provoking what it wanted. It didn't go well technically but it went okay tactically, but because of the size mismatch it couldn't not be a success for the Russians. But it was quick because the Georgians are stupid but not that stupid. So it could be called an operational and strategic win. The United States tailored its response. But here you will always see it portrayed as some great Russian victory over a NATO-trained military and an attempted genocide of the South Ossetians. The Russians it appears used it successfully as a learning experience and got their act together militarily.

All along the periphery of the Russian Empire/former Soviet Union the US and the Russians play games. It's a big game.

Saker's last article was about whose propaganda is better. It's a big game. It keeps people employed in the respective defense industries.

The latest thing I read is that the US is spending $8 Billion on a rapid response division or something in Eastern Europe. There was a Toyota ad I think for an armor brigade in Poland during the Super Bowl. Ridiculous. A single division.

Nobody wants a war. There isn't going to be any fighting in Poland. If Russians and Ukrainians want to kill themselves over Kharkov, Americans don't care. I think the Russians and Germans fought three times over Kharkov. I guess it had a railroad track or something. Americans don't care.

All this stuff like the coup in Ukraine, sanctions over Crimea – it's just probing moves, games. The US has Putin boxed in. He's got to scrape and claw over nothing.

The Saker always talks about Russia having a "defensive" strategy. Change the perspective for a second. Knowing that all the planet's real estate is "owned"- where the US Empire stands now – trade routes, bases everywhere around the remaining oilfields in the Middle East. AND, here is the kicker – what if you consider that the US has the defensive strategy now? That is some serious flexible depth.

And Russia is still boxed in.

Mao Cheng Ji , October 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm GMT
@Beckow

Initiative means that US-West are the ones starting conflicts.

I guess it's kinda true in the sense that the US specifically (not necessarily the West as such, it seems) needs to have the uninterrupted chain of wars and cartoonish all-powerful super-evil adversaries threatening its very existence. I suppose it's needed for economic (mic) reasons, to maintain the internal unity/morale/discipline, and to run the usual protection racket abroad. Sorta like Oceania in Orwell's 1984.

But I don't think this amounts to 'initiative' in any flattering sense. By the same token a rabid dog shows 'initiative'.

Beckow , October 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm GMT
@Johnny Rico

Change the perspective for a second. Knowing that all the planet's real estate is "owned"- where the US Empire stands now – trade routes, bases everywhere around the remaining oilfields in the Middle East. AND, here is the kicker – what if you consider that the US has the defensive strategy now? That is some serious flexible depth.

You can call it 'depth', or you can also call it being exposed with too long supply lines. I don't think there is an automatic benefit to being everywhere, it could be a liability in a multi-site crisis. Hitler controlled almost all of continental Europe (and so did Napoleon), all it did was that when he was forced on a defensive (in the east), all of those territories became potential liabilities with allied landings, rebellions, countries switching sides, etc

Another problem is that US is trying to do it on the cheap with bombing, technology and allies – but with minimal casualties. The inability to take casualties is a weakness, you cannot in the long-run control all this geography and also protect every GI's life.

And Russia is still boxed in.

Russia is boxed in by its geography, and so is China. There is nothing new there. Enemies have been pressing on Russia's extensive borders forever. It is not likely that anyone would actually try to cross that border given this one reality: nuclear weapons. Unless the constant prodding has an answer to that reality, what is it all about? What's the point?

Nobody wants a war. There isn't going to be any fighting in Poland.

Wars happen even if nobody 'wants' them. There are situations when wars happen almost on their own and nobody ever claims ownership. And if there is a war, there will be fighting in Poland – it is literally ground zero (as so often before), and no amount of NY Times editorials will make any damn difference. The country is too small, so it would be annihilated. Poland is storing missiles and 'defensive' divisions for its allies across the Atlantic with an open admission that they are targeting Russia. What do you think would happen in a real crisis or a war? Do you think US would look kindly at Russian missiles in Canada or Mexico? That is the true madness, and Poland is kind of in a heart of it. As so often before.

I don't think either Russia or West have better or worse 'strategy'. They play with what they have. Lately Russia has been prevailing, maybe because West pushed too far and is on thin ice in most of these far-away places.

By the way, your description of the Georgia conflict in 2008 omitted the key event: as the Beijing Olympics were starting, Georgia attacked S Ossetia with massive bombardment (100+ civilians killed). You say that somehow Russia 'anticipated' it and took advantage. Isn't it their job to 'anticipate'? Wouldn't any country? But the key point is that without the extremely stupid, almost suicidial attack by Georgia, none of that would happened. Who the hell told Saakasvilli that this would be a good idea? Some 'strategist' who likes to 'poke the Russian borders' to keep them in a 'box'? This is abstract thinking at its worst. Get real.

peterAUS , October 26, 2017 at 7:37 pm GMT
Speaking of crooks and thieves. True, those Ukrainian elites are that. Can't argue that most of US/Western elite aren't. But, Russian (current) regime elite? How about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_of_crooks_and_thieves

So, I guess that an average Ukrainian ponders a simple question: For which crook I am supposed to lose my life and limb? And risking the same for people I care for? Tough decision. If if doubt do nothing feels as the best option. Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut and try to scrap a living there. Or, if you can, emigrate somewhere. If you can that is.

peterAUS , October 26, 2017 at 9:13 pm GMT
@Beckow

what is it all about? What's the point?

That rhetorical question? Regime change in Moscow->incorporating Russia into Empire at vassal level. Or back to happy Yeltsin era. Happy for some I mean. With vengeance.

As for this:

There are situations when wars happen almost on their own and nobody ever claims ownership

Couldn't agree more. That's the real worry at present. Combination of who are people in power and means of warfare.

People on the ground in Ukraine at "West" side incompetent and weak crooks. People on the ground in Ukraine at "East" side are also incompetent crooks. Not so sure how weak they are, though. They must be weak enough to obey Moscow but hard enough to keep .ahm..pruning own ranks from those unpopular with Moscow. Besides, they got into power by armed insurrection so usually those types can be hard.

I, personally, don't see much fuss about all this. Could be wrong, of course. The real question would be how, really, good Ukrainian armed forces are.
Have they used the time well to get good enough to create a serious problem for Donbass. My feeling .(haven't spent much time researching it) is they have not. Now, not so sure, whatever Saker is saying here, how good Donbass military is. In reality. I concede that they got better organized and equipped. Doesn't mean much , IMHO. The more important is how WILLING they would be to face an attack.

I .suspect .that the will when it was all started isn't there anymore. Could be wrong. Still think I am not. Or, better .feel that way. Those assassinations, plus overall quality of life there, plus unclear future (not what Moscow is saying, people on the ground don't buy that) aren't good for combat morale.

At the end, I suspect, when/if it comes to renewal of hostilities, it will be: First and foremost artillery exchanges. Nothing changes.
Then, small unit raids. Nothing changes. Then, tactical incursions by Ukrainian best. After initial success they'll be met by Donbas best.Because either side don't have many of those nothing changes too. A lot of talk from Washington and Moscow. Some dead/mutilated mercenaries. And while those "games" go the rest of peoples there just keep what they've been doing so far. Oceania vs Eurasia ..

Issac , October 26, 2017 at 9:44 pm GMT
@Priss Factor

Saker writing a Philip Giraldi level expose from that angle would probably have him out of a job. The Russian ruling class is not interested in making an enemy of Israel or vice versa.

Beckow , October 27, 2017 at 12:53 am GMT
@peterAUS

"Regime change in Moscow"

The single best way to assure that there isn't a 'regime change' is by constant probing of Russia's borders, by constant attacks, etc So I don't buy that, the experts in Washington are not that stupid. They understand fully well that placing missiles, coups, border harassment are by far the most reliable way to make sure that nothing changes in Moscow.

The Ukraine situation will not be decided by fighting in Donbass, or in Moscow. It will be decided in Kiev (and Odessa, Lviv, Charkov) by the currently passive masses. Unless a miracle happens, or most people emigrate, this is not a sustainable situation. They are living worse than in 2013, and they already had it very bad in 2013. Marshall Plan isn't coming, membership in EU isn't coming either. Once that sinks in – it might take 5-10 years – things will change.

peterAUS , October 27, 2017 at 2:08 am GMT

They understand fully well that placing missiles, coups, border harassment are by far the most reliable way to make sure that nothing changes in Moscow.

That's one way to look at it. Another is that they believe that's exactly what's needed. Worked rather well since '91 I think. US soldier couldn't get pass Germany (West/East) border. Now

It will be decided in Kiev (and Odessa, Lviv, Charkov) by the currently passive masses.

Sounds reasonable. In meantime

Beckow , October 29, 2017 at 8:27 am GMT
@Mr. Hack

"'Novorussian' fighting forces have from the very beginning just been a rag tag collection of Chechen and Russian mercenaries ,with a few local alcoholic yahoos , all directed by imported Russian degenerates, supported all along with Russian national troops and armaments"

All soldiers today get paid, thus you can call all of them 'mercenaries'. All soldiers drink. Their ethnicities are hard to establish and generalize. Words like 'rag tag', 'yahoos', 'degenerates' mean literally nothing in this context, you just add them to make yourself feel better.

If you take what your wrote and strip out the unnecessary poetry you might be closer to the truth: Novorussian forces are a combination of local separatists and volunteers who joined them mostly from Russia; Russia has provided most of their modern arms. Russia also acts as a backstop in case of another Kiev offensive to make sure that they cannot be defeated.

See, I fixed it for you. Now drop the poetic abuse and tell us what can be done about it. And take into account interests of all parties and their relative strength. All people are equal, applying emotional adjectives to your enemies changes nothing.

Avery , October 29, 2017 at 9:21 am GMT
@Beckow

Well said. Regarding: { . a rag tag collection of Chechen and Russian mercenaries,with a few local alcoholic yahoos, all directed by imported Russian degenerates }

If that is true, then it means Ukrainian military is even more incompetent than it is, being soundly defeated by a 'rag tag collection of mercenaries, alcoholic yahoos, and degenerates'. Being defeated by a professional opposing force is bad enough, but being defeated and chased out of Novorussia by 'degenerates'? How embarrassing for the Kiev junta.

Beckow , October 29, 2017 at 9:26 am GMT
@Sergey Krieger

That seems to be Russia's strategy. I agree that by far the best thing Moscow could do is to improve quality of life in Russia. Nato strategy is to delay it by any means: sanctions, energy, new arms race, whatever they can think off, lately mostly media campaigns. With Russia's resources, favourable demographics and global economic realities (China), it will not work. And then what? Once the quality of life is comparable to the average EU country, the gig will be up. Today Russia is slightly worse off than Poland and Lithuania, but better off than Romania or Bulgaria. But it is dramatically worse off than Germany, Czech R or Austria. Between 2000-2014 Germany and Russia were feeding off each other's growth, now they both suffer. We will see how that plays out, but there was a natural synergy that was artificially curtailed. More than anything else the Atlantic neo-cons fear more prosperity in Russia, so they will do almost anything to prevent it.

In Ukraine the EU-West infatuation will take a long time to dissipate. Getting hurt will eventually lead to making things better in the head , but it will take at least a generation. And things don't stay quiet for that long, other events will intervene. A circle cannot be squared: Kiev has attempted a great leap into its imagined future – Europe!!! – they bet everything on it, cut off all else, and there is no realistic way the leap will land Ukraine happily and soon enough in EU. EU will not agree to absorb 40 million poor people who mostly just want to live immediately like Germans, or move there. This is a mad dream, reality will intervene.

Those still hoping for a happy ending have not been paying attention.

Sergey Krieger , October 29, 2017 at 10:51 am GMT
@Johnny Rico

I am sorry but I have to say this. How has led by Kissinger and Nixon strategy of opening China worked out? Is creating major geopolitical foe where there was none considered a sign of deep strategically long term thinking?

Cyrano , October 29, 2017 at 11:04 am GMT
@Beckow

One often hears about "historical injustices" being committed against this nation or that ethnic group. Ukraine is probably a unique (basket) case because they think (the stupid ones) that beside historical injustices, they have also suffered geographical injustice.

The Ukrainian nationalists think that based on their accomplishments as a nation (there are none) they rightfully deserve to be geographically located somewhere between Germany and France. For this state of affairs they again blame the Russians. You see, because Russia is so big, and definitely in Eastern Europe, that they have the gravitational force that keeps Ukraine in Eastern Europe. If it wasn't for the Russians, Ukraine would have long ago catapulted into Western Europe – probably even geographically. It's only Russia that prevents them from acquiring their rightful place in the heart of Europe.

Beckow , October 29, 2017 at 11:32 am GMT
@Cyrano

"they have also suffered geographical injustice"

And so a solution is to have a war against geography. That usually goes very well, check with the Georgians :)

In Ukrainians' defence, they have a bad location: wide-open, unprotected, with few geographic features and at the same time very high-quality earth. On second thought, if Ukraine, as is, was located in Western Europe 'somewhere between Germany and France' , I would be willing to bet that not a single Ukrainian would exist today. The Western Europeans know their genocide and know how to pacify populations. They almost got to them during WWII, Ukraine was the lebensraum that Nazis dreamt about.

My estimate would be that if Russia had not sacrificed 20 million people to defeat Germany, today there would be no Poles, no Ukrainians, and no Czechs. A few smaller nations, like Croats, Slovaks, Slovenians, would exist as tiny folklor-only curiosity, regularly brutally culled for potential dissenters. Those 'damn Russkies', how dare they stop this? No wonder the sneaky Westerners will never forgive them. But one wonders why some of the designated victims, Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, are also angry that the lebensraum genocide Nazi plan was not allowed to take place. But we are leaving geography and getting into psychiatry

Anon , Disclaimer October 29, 2017 at 11:37 am GMT
@Johnny Rico

A repost from consortiumnews.com: "The Kaganzation of Ukraine, which started on Clinton watch, is moving to a next, neo-Nazi phase: http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/10/mosiychuk-assassination-attempt.html

" the assassination attempt on Mosiychuk [the former deputy commander of the infamous neo-Nazi Azov Battalio] is the initial phase of an escalation of the conflict between the Nazis and Jewish oligarchs headed by President Poroshenko, an escalation which is transitioning from a political to a "hot", or armed phase.

Ironically enough, it is the Jewish oligarch Kolomoysky who is financing the operations of such Nazi revolutionaries. Indeed, all of the "Ukrainian revolutions," as is well known, have been done with Jewish money and through the hands of Ukrainian Nazis. By all accounts, Mosiychuk himself is one of the key figures behind preparing a Nazi coup d'etat."

Any reaction from the diligent ADL? Any peep from AIPAC? Kolomoysky is an Israeli citizen and a pillar of the Jewish community of Ukraine. He has been financing the Ukrainian neo-Nazis for several years already; Kolomoysky is also implicated in the downing of MH17. Still no interest from the Israel-occupied US Congress? Amazing. In the US, the "victims of Holocaust" from the Kagans' clan have been plotting and implementing the collaborative projects with Ukrainian neo-Nazis. Interesting times.

Just to reiterate –– "all of the "Ukrainian revolutions" have been done with Jewish money and through the hands of Ukrainian Nazis." And the Jewish vigilantes are busy fighting against BDS " https://consortiumnews.com/2017/10/28/hillary-clinton-keeps-pointing-fingers/#comment-293951

Btw, Kolomoysky is an Israeli citizen. Speaking about Holocaust deniers – is it kosher to support neo-Nazi and work on the resurrection of Nazism in Ukraine and to remain an honorable Israeli citizen? It seems that Kolomoysky is such case. Next time the Israel-firsters attempt to squeal about any critics of "Holocaust story" they should be presented with the story of Jewish oligarch Kolomoysky.

Beckow , October 29, 2017 at 12:17 pm GMT
@peterAUS

You use language very loosely: 'total control, 'fully integrated', 'force's skeleton', all those terms are both unprovable and meaningless in Donbass context. There are millions of Russians in Donbass, they have always lived there. They are willing to oppose post-coup Kiev government on their own. All else is vague verbiage that means nothing.

"the regime in Moscow decide to abandon the project it could dissolve that force in 12 hours tops and leave Novorussia ripe for takeover by the regime in Kiev"

Your usage of the imbecilic word 'regime' betrays bias. What the f k is a'regime'? Is EU a 'regime', or the Saudi king, or China? If not, why not? Stick with term government and use it for all and you won't sound like a bitter dead-ender unable to see things rationally.

Russia cannot abandon Donbass because the Kiev government would massacre many Russians living in Donbass. Or they would let their nationalist allies do it. In any case, millions would either be expelled, imprisoned or killed. That would mean the end of Putin's government. The fact that Brussels and Mme Merkel would look the other way and that Western media would pretend that not much was happening would not help either. So that's not going to happen, Russia is committed, it cannot 'abandon the project'. Kiev will either negotiate seriously now, or in the future. And time is definitely not on their side, longer this goes on, worse deal will be on the table for Kiev.

Anon , Disclaimer October 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm GMT
@Beckow

" it might take 5-10 years – things will change." It is already on the go: http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/10/mosiychuk-assassination-attempt.html
" another Maidan to be held under openly Nazi slogans and leading to the overthrow of the Jewish oligarchs led by Petro Poroshenko who seized power in Ukraine. Ukrainian Nazis are the most consistent and terrifying enemies of the Poroshenko regime, which they call an "internal occupation regime." We are now seeing a rehearsal for such a Nazi Maidan. Apparently, Poroshenko is taking a serious turn, and now terrorist methods are being used against the regime's mortal enemies."

polskijoe , October 29, 2017 at 7:42 pm GMT
Decent article, although some generalizations which is understandable. Couple points about Poland. Yes its allied with neocons atm (the bad).
The government has some forces somewhat supporting Ukraine (Basically as long as the blame is focused on Russia). The government knows there are "neonazi" elements, as has mentioned Ukraine will not join EU until they stop that. As for the people Poland is divided like crazy on the Ukraine issue.
Sergey Krieger , October 29, 2017 at 8:04 pm GMT
@Mao Cheng Ji

Lots of people changed from Russians into Ukrainians. I see many guys with Russian surnames there from news who are rabidly antirussians. Give some time. When Russia rises and life in Russia will be good there will be suddenly 90% of Ukrainian population Russians.

Erebus , October 29, 2017 at 8:10 pm GMT
Alas, you've yet again missed the salient point you're commenting on. The sea change I talk about is "a sea change in both capability and prospects" . And yes, a sea change in the sense that the high water mark of the USA's capabilities and prospects is now plainly visible. Its role has been reduced from world leader to that of spoiler in Syriaq, Philippines, MENA, ECS & SCS, in Africa, and in Europe itself. A spoiler's role is a very far cry from the world leader at "the end of history" it proclaimed itself to be in the early '90s. Pax Americana's wave broke and is now rolling back out to sea, creating undertows as it goes.

The ramifications of that sea change will take years, maybe decades, to play themselves out, but my assessment is that there will be no active "roll back (of the) '90s" or that said roll back is desirable/possible. The Ukraine and Serbia/Kosovo will wind up having to fit themselves into whatever new paradigm the world will be living under at the time. That paradigm won't be American led, or of American design.

polskijoe , October 29, 2017 at 8:34 pm GMT
@Dan Hayes

Prof Cohen, he is smart on Russian affairs, for a Jewish guy suprising he speaks favorably of the Russians. I dont know his political views. Certainly a change from the Neocon bs.

anon , Disclaimer October 29, 2017 at 11:52 pm GMT
I don't see much of a future for Ukraine. Neither the West nor Russia is willing to underwrite the massive investment that would be required to rebuild the economy. Sure it makes sense to split the country. However, both sides are more than willing to live with an impoverished buffer between NATO and Russia. If the country is split, there is no longer any territorial disputes and the new West Ukraine ultimately becomes a NATO member and NATO weapons move hundreds of miles closer to the Russian border. Not to mention the fact that Russia would find it expensive to subsidize the new government. Same with the EU.

The obsession with theoretical military engagements ignore the reality that 'winning' is simply taking a nation that is still a paying customer for natural gas and turning them into an expense.

As far as the value of Ukraine as an agricultural power -- Russia no longer cares. Russia (thanks to the US sanctions, among other things) is now the world's largest grain exporter.

The Black Sea may be important to Russia's regional aspirations, but for the US, what could be better than have as many Russian naval vessels as possible parked there?

Anatoly Karlin , Website October 30, 2017 at 12:05 am GMT
@Mr. Hack

The Saker does indeed peddle a lot of BS, but you are hardly one to talk.

1. The Chechens were briefly involved in 2014, have long since left.

2. The vast majority of the NAF (80%) are Ukrainian citizens , as confirmed by multiple sources including a list of names leaked by your ideological comrades at the Peacekeeper website. About another 10% are Russians from the Kuban, which is ethnically and culturally close to the Donbass, while the last 10% are Russians and other adventurers from the wider world.

So yes, it is indeed very homegrown, though it is true that the NAF would not have survived in its embryonic stages without the more competent and experienced Russian volunteers like Strelkov, as well as Russian logistical and artillery support.

3. NAF volunteers are indeed probably lower than average on the socio-economic scale, but I would be exceedingly surprised if it was otherwise for the UAF and the independent batallions. Certainly the chronic drunkeness , accidents, etc. in the Ukrainian Army that are constantly being written about indicates that doesn't harvest the cream of Ukraine's crop. (And that makes sense – apart from a hard core of patriots and nationalists, any Ukrainian would pay to avoid conscription, if he has the means).

[Oct 29, 2017] Whose Bright Idea Was RussiaGate by Paul Craig Roberts

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan.The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don't think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia. ..."
"... Russia bashing became more intense when Washington's coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. ..."
"... The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex. ..."
"... Washington is fully aware that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election or in the state elections. The military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Democratic Party are merely using the accusations to serve their own agendas. ..."
Oct 03, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan.The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don't think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia.

Public Russia bashing pre-dates Trump. It has been going on privately in neoconservative circles for years, but appeared publicly during the Obama regime when Russia blocked Washington's plans to invade Syria and to bomb Iran.

Russia bashing became more intense when Washington's coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex.

Russia bashing is much larger than merely Russiagate. The danger lies in Washington convincing Russia that Washington is planning a surprise attack on Russia. With US and NATO bases on Russia's borders, efforts to arm Ukraine and to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO provide more evidence that Washington is surrounding Russia for attack. There is nothing more reckless and irresponsible than convincing a nuclear power that you are going to attack.

Washington is fully aware that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election or in the state elections. The military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Democratic Party are merely using the accusations to serve their own agendas.

These selfish agendas are a dire threat to life on earth.

Reprinted with permission from PaulCraigRoberts.org .

[Oct 29, 2017] Deciphering Trumps Foreign Policy by Oscar Silva-Valladares

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump's presidency, like preceding ones, is trapped by the interests of the power elite that has ruled America since World War II. The constraints imposed on domestic policy by this elite inevitably have a direct impact on America's foreign policy. ..."
"... The growing misalignment between government policies and people's yearnings coincides with the ascent of the military establishment within the power elite that rules America. Despite the country's aggressive expansionism, America's power elite was initially driven mainly by political and economic forces and much less by its growing military strength. It is fair to say that the military establishment, as an influential component of the American power elite, only appeared in the context of World War II. Nowadays, it is a dominant player. ..."
"... Today's power elite in America is fundamentally the same as the one that emerged after World War II and which was accurately described by C. Wright Mills in the 1950s. Consequently, the main forces shaping US domestic and foreign policies have not changed since then. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War did not make irrelevant the existing power elite at that time. The elite only became more vocal in its efforts to justify itself and this explains today's existence of NATO, for instance. ..."
"... Despite its economic and entrepreneurial might, the US distilled version of capitalism is unable to attain the needs of a growing number of its population, as the Great Recession of 2008 has shown. Within the OECD, arguably the club with the highest levels of economic and social development in the world, US rankings are abysmal, for instance concerning education and health, as it lays at the bottom in learning metrics and on critical health measures such as obesity. The wealth gap has widened and the social fabric is broken. American economic decline is evident and growing social conflict across economic, social and geographic lines is just a reaction to this decline. ..."
"... Concerning China, Trump is learning about the limits of his ability to successfully challenge it economically. It seems virtually impossible to reverse China's momentum which, if it continues, will consolidate its economic domination. ..."
"... A fundamental weakness of American foreign policy is its inability to understand war in all its different dimensions ..."
"... Despite the need to see through Trump's true intentions beyond his pomp and circumstance, there is an important warning to be made. Trump's eventual inability to fulfill his promises, combined with his bravado and America's incapacity to take a more sobering approach to world events is a dangerous combination. ..."
Oct 28, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Donald Trump's presidency, like preceding ones, is trapped by the interests of the power elite that has ruled America since World War II. The constraints imposed on domestic policy by this elite inevitably have a direct impact on America's foreign policy. Alternative social forces, like the ones behind Trump's presidential triumph, only have a limited impact on domestic and ultimately on foreign policy. A conceptual detour and a brief on history and on Trump's domestic setting when he was elected will help clarifying these theses.

Beyond the different costumes that it wears (dealing with ideology, international law, and even religion), foreign policy follows domestic policy. The domestic policy actors are the social forces at work at a given point of time, mainly the economic agents and their ambitions (in their multiple expressions), including the ruling power elite. Society's aspirations not only relate to material welfare, but also to ideological priorities that population segments may have at a given point of time.

From America's initial days until the mid 1800s, there seems to have been a broad alignment of US foreign policy with the wishes of its power elite and other social forces. America's expansionism, a fundamental bulwark of its foreign policy from early days, reflected the need to fulfill its growing population's ambitions for land and, later on, the need to find foreign markets for its excess production, initially agricultural and later on manufacturing. It can be said that American foreign policy was broadly populist at that time. The power elite was more or less aligned in achieving these expansionist goals and was able to provide convenient ideological justification through the writings of Jefferson and Madison, among others.

As the country expanded, diverging interests became stronger and ultimately differing social forces caused a significant fracture in society. The American Civil War was the climax of the conflicted interests between agricultural and manufacturing led societies. Fifty years later, a revealing manifestation of this divergence (which survived the Civil War), as it relates to foreign policy, is found during the early days of the Russian Revolution when, beyond the ideological revulsion of Bolshevism, the US was paralyzed between the agricultural and farming businesses seeking exports to Russia and the domestic extractive industries interested in stopping exports of natural resources from this country.

The growing misalignment between government policies and people's yearnings coincides with the ascent of the military establishment within the power elite that rules America. Despite the country's aggressive expansionism, America's power elite was initially driven mainly by political and economic forces and much less by its growing military strength. It is fair to say that the military establishment, as an influential component of the American power elite, only appeared in the context of World War II. Nowadays, it is a dominant player.

Today's power elite in America is fundamentally the same as the one that emerged after World War II and which was accurately described by C. Wright Mills in the 1950s. Consequently, the main forces shaping US domestic and foreign policies have not changed since then. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War did not make irrelevant the existing power elite at that time. The elite only became more vocal in its efforts to justify itself and this explains today's existence of NATO, for instance.

Despite its economic and entrepreneurial might, the US distilled version of capitalism is unable to attain the needs of a growing number of its population, as the Great Recession of 2008 has shown. Within the OECD, arguably the club with the highest levels of economic and social development in the world, US rankings are abysmal, for instance concerning education and health, as it lays at the bottom in learning metrics and on critical health measures such as obesity. The wealth gap has widened and the social fabric is broken. American economic decline is evident and growing social conflict across economic, social and geographic lines is just a reaction to this decline.

Trump won his presidency because he was able to get support from the country's growing frustrated white population. His main social themes (bringing jobs to America by stopping the decline of its manufacturing industry, preventing further US consumer dependence on foreign imports and halting immigration) fitted well with the electors' anger. Traditional populist themes linked to foreign policy (like Russophobia) did not play a big role in the last election. But whether or not the Trump administration can align with the ruling power elite in a manner that addresses the key social and economic needs of the American people is still to be seen.

Back to foreign policy, we need to distinguish between Trump's style of government and his administration's actions. At least until now, focusing excessively on Trump's style has dangerously distracted from his true intentions. One example is the confusion about his initial stance on NATO which was simplistically seen as highly critical to the very existence of this organization. On NATO, all that Trump really cared was to achieve a "fair" sharing of expenditures with other members and to press them to honor their funding commitments.

From immigration to defense spending, there is nothing irrational about Trump's foreign policy initiatives, as they just reflect a different reading on the American people's aspirations and, consequently, they attempt to rely on supporting points within the power elite which are different from the ones used in the past.

Concerning China, Trump is learning about the limits of his ability to successfully challenge it economically. It seems virtually impossible to reverse China's momentum which, if it continues, will consolidate its economic domination. A far-reaching lesson, although still being ignored, is that China's economic might is showing that capitalism as understood in the West is not winning, much less in its American format. It also shows that democracy may not be that relevant, as it is not necessarily a corollary or a condition for economic development. Perhaps it even shows the superiority of China's economic model, but this is a different matter.

As Trump becomes more aware about his limitations, he has naturally reversed to the basic imprints of America's traditional foreign policy, particularly concerning defense. His emphasis on a further increase in defense spending is not done for prestigious or national security reasons, but as an attempt to preserve a job generating infrastructure without considering the catastrophic consequences that it may cause.

On Iran, Obama's initiative to seek normalization was an attempt to walk a fine line (and to find a less conflictive path) between supporting the US traditional Middle East allies (mainly the odd combination of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) and recognizing Iran's growing aspirations. Deep down, Obama was trying to acknowledge Iran's historical viability as a country and a society that will not disappear from the map, while Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, may not be around in a few years. Trump's Iran policy until now only represents a different weighing of priorities, although it is having far reaching consequences on America's credibility as a reliable contractual party in international affairs.

In the case of Afghanistan, Trump's decision to increase boots on the ground does not break the inertia of US past administrations. Aside from temporary containment, an increasing military presence or a change in tactics will not alter fundamentally this reality.

Concerning Russia, and regardless of what Trump has said, actions speak more than words. A continuous deterioration of relations seems inevitable.

Trump will also learn, if he has not done so already, about the growth of multipolar forces in world's events. Russia has mastered this reality for several years and is quite skillful at using it as a basic tool of its own foreign goals. Our multipolar world will expand, and Trump may even inadvertently exacerbate it through its actions (for instance in connection with the different stands taken by the US and its European allies concerning Iran).

While fulfilling the aspirations of the American people seems more difficult within the existing capitalist framework, there are also growing apprehensions coming from America's power elite as it becomes more frustrated due to its incapacity of being more effective at the world level. America's relative adolescence in world's history will become more and more apparent in the coming years.

A fundamental weakness of American foreign policy is its inability to understand war in all its different dimensions. The US has never suffered the consequences of an international conflict in its own backyard. The American Civil War, despite all the suffering that it caused, was primarily a domestic event with no foreign intervention (contrary to the wishes of the Confederation). The deep social and psychological damage caused by war is not part of America's consciousness as it is, for instance in Germany, Russia or Japan. America is insensitive to the lessons of history because it has a very short history itself.

Despite the need to see through Trump's true intentions beyond his pomp and circumstance, there is an important warning to be made. Trump's eventual inability to fulfill his promises, combined with his bravado and America's incapacity to take a more sobering approach to world events is a dangerous combination.

Oscar Silva-Valladares is a former investment banker that has lived and worked in North and Latin America, Western & Eastern Europe, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the Philippines and Western Africa. He currently chairs Davos International Advisory, an advisory firm focused on strategic consulting across emerging markets.


Related

[Oct 25, 2017] The McCain globalist-American Exceptionalism narrative is the steady injection of lies and half-truths so that the public accepts the unending demands for increased defense spending, accepting that the world outside is a dangerous place that must be kept in line by force majeur of US policeman.

Notable quotes:
"... This is why hawks like John McCain, while receiving a "Liberty" award from Joe Biden, can, with a straight face, get away with denouncing those Americans who have become tired of playing at being the world's policeman. He describes them as fearful of "the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, [abandoning] the ideals we have advanced around the globe, [refusing] the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism." ..."
"... And this is why we are where we are -- our government is infested by the likes of McCain, Lindsay Graham, and hundreds of others of their ilk. There is no milk of human kindness that flows in my veins when I look at these despicable creatures who have done so much harm to so many people and continue to exist, cancer and all, like Darth Cheney with his nuclear heart, while the innocents fall by the wayside from their evil. ..."
"... I can't find that citation at the moment, but I recall a report from US military experts that placed the accuracy of interceptor missiles at about 10% in real-world conditions. I vaguely recall that during the Gulf war, we had placed Patriot interceptors in Israel to protect the chosen from Saddam's Scud missiles, and apparently only a few of those decrepit scuds were successfully intercepted. I believe the lack of accuracy of these Patriot missiles was hushed up. ..."
Oct 25, 2017 | www.unz.com

Americans consequently do not know war except as something that happens elsewhere and to foreigners, requiring only that the U.S. step in on occasion and bail things out, or screw things up depending on one's point of view. This is why hawks like John McCain, while receiving a "Liberty" award from Joe Biden, can, with a straight face, get away with denouncing those Americans who have become tired of playing at being the world's policeman. He describes them as fearful of "the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, [abandoning] the ideals we have advanced around the globe, [refusing] the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism."

McCain's completely fatuous account of recent world history befits a Navy pilot who was adept at crashing his planes and almost sank his own aircraft carrier. He also made propaganda radio broadcasts for the North Vietnamese after he was captured. The McCain globalist-American Exceptionalism narrative is also, unfortunately, echoed by the media. The steady ingestion of lies and half-truths is why the public puts up with unending demands for increased defense spending, accepting that the world outside is a dangerous place that must be kept in line by force majeure . Yes, we are the good guys.

But underlying the citizenry's willingness to accept that the military establishment should encircle the globe with foreign bases to keep the world "safe" is the assumption that the 48 States are invulnerable, isolated by broad oceans and friendly nations to the north and south. And protected from far distant threats by technology, interceptor systems developed and maintained at enormous expense to intercept and shoot down incoming ballistic missiles launched by enemies overseas.

Cloak And Dagger, October 24, 2017 at 5:22 am GMT

Phil, two topics so dear to my heart!

This is why hawks like John McCain, while receiving a "Liberty" award from Joe Biden, can, with a straight face, get away with denouncing those Americans who have become tired of playing at being the world's policeman. He describes them as fearful of "the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, [abandoning] the ideals we have advanced around the globe, [refusing] the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism."

And this is why we are where we are -- our government is infested by the likes of McCain, Lindsay Graham, and hundreds of others of their ilk. There is no milk of human kindness that flows in my veins when I look at these despicable creatures who have done so much harm to so many people and continue to exist, cancer and all, like Darth Cheney with his nuclear heart, while the innocents fall by the wayside from their evil.

I had wished him dead, but as a friend reminded me, it is better for him to live, suffering from excruciating agony as cancer demolishes him one cell at a time, jabbing his brain every second of every day -- to the brink of madness and just a step behind the precipice that would end his life, living for decades more, tortured and despised.

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.

-- Herman Melville

Even the federal government watchdog agencies have concluded that the missile interception system seldom performs.

I can't find that citation at the moment, but I recall a report from US military experts that placed the accuracy of interceptor missiles at about 10% in real-world conditions. I vaguely recall that during the Gulf war, we had placed Patriot interceptors in Israel to protect the chosen from Saddam's Scud missiles, and apparently only a few of those decrepit scuds were successfully intercepted. I believe the lack of accuracy of these Patriot missiles was hushed up.

Meanwhile, the Russian S-300, S-400, and the soon-to-appear S-500 missile batteries have demonstrated very impressive results. Now our "allies" are all scampering over to Moscow to acquire these instead of our duds, following the utter failure of our $0.5 Trillion F-35 embarrassment.

It is high time for us to ask how we got here and who is responsible. I will give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

[Oct 25, 2017] The Situation in Puerto Rico The Roads

Notable quotes:
"... although I haven't heard of private equity pushing Puerto Rican toll roads they would own ..."
"... My dear Lambert, were I a vulture capitalist (which I am not!), I would not put one plugged nickel into infrastructure in PR. Not toll roads, not resorts, not power grid, not rebuilding the pharma factories, nada. Because another Maria will just happen again and trash it all before sufficient ROI, and who's gonna insure it now? Insurance companies believe in climate change, whether they will admit it or not. ..."
"... But I would put a few $$$ into PR debt, and gamble that the US govt will bail *me*and my fellow vultures (not PR) out. Am I cynical enough? ..."
"... This is just incompetence. Load up cargo ships (which are the most enormous transportation devices on the planet) and bring an aircraft carrier or two with cargo helicopters to bring the goods inland: ..."
"... "The political class seems to have lost the ability to mobilize on behalf of its citizens.". It wasn't always this way. Read http://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/thirty-eight-new-england-lumber-storm . ..."
"... When I read what the FDR Administration was able to accomplish amidst the devastation of New England's forests wrought by the hurricane of 1938, it brought tears to my eyes. ..."
"... "The political class seems to have lost the ability to mobilize on behalf of its citizens." ..."
"... most convenient/fast/cost effective ..."
"... If the U.S. is not an empire, Puerto Rico would not be a protectorate or whatever. If the U.S. is an empire in decline, Puerto Rico being abandoned would be a signal to the world that the U.S. dollar is in serious trouble. ..."
"... What with PR's situation and the apparent U.S. tendency to retreat from simple truths, could a collapse in preference falsification* be in progress? ..."
Oct 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , October 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm

[4] Too bad we don't have a Jobs Guarantee .

The most important things are guaranteed:

Funding the military, enforcing payment of debts, Profit, promises made to campaign contributors, and of course death and taxes.

Glen , October 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Somehow, I think our government's response to PR/Maria will be the new norm unless there are a bunch of billionaire's calling the gov reps they bought to complain. And even they may be frustrated by the current boob in the WH.

HotFlash , October 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

although I haven't heard of private equity pushing Puerto Rican toll roads they would own

My dear Lambert, were I a vulture capitalist (which I am not!), I would not put one plugged nickel into infrastructure in PR. Not toll roads, not resorts, not power grid, not rebuilding the pharma factories, nada. Because another Maria will just happen again and trash it all before sufficient ROI, and who's gonna insure it now? Insurance companies believe in climate change, whether they will admit it or not.

But I would put a few $$$ into PR debt, and gamble that the US govt will bail *me*and my fellow vultures (not PR) out. Am I cynical enough?

PKMKII , October 23, 2017 at 3:27 pm

The Intercept has a good article on a Puerto Rican recovery for Puerto Ricans and not outside interests.

Code Name D , October 23, 2017 at 3:32 pm

What about the cars? I would imagine that many cars were destroyed, heavely damaged, or simply lost. Getting cars repaired and replaced will also be a major challenge. And this I bet would fall on the backs of the individual owners who will already be strapped for cash to begin with.

HotFlash , October 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Pretty well, yup. Insurance companies gonna pay pennies on the dollar, assuming you actually have insurance for stuff like this. Poor people tend to get the very minimum needed to get their vehicle on the road, which is usually liability. If you do have bountiful; coverage for Acts O'God, where are you going to get your car repaired or replaced anyway? This may sound super-cynical, even for me, but looking at those washed out and blown-away roads, getting cargo into remote places in PR is a job for sure-footed critters like mules and horses. Dirt bikes can move people over difficult terrain. So can bicycles , and they have been preparing for such a thing.

cocomaan , October 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

The crisis in PR compared to the crises in FL and TX really opened my eyes to how dangerous and precarious it must be to live on an island, even one ostensibly connected to a powerful country. The logistical nightmare of getting things there is compounded so much by that sea barrier. At least in TX, you can call in the cajun navy who can drive their boats to the location, then launch.

So now one thing is even clearer to me: the first losers of rising sea levels and climate change disasters will be islanders. Places like the Maldives and the Leewards will have a really hard time in the next few decades.

a different chris , October 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

>is compounded so much by that sea barrier.

??? The sea is how people got things everywhere long, long before the first steam engine (and I'm talking those Roman toy ones) was even conceived?

This is just incompetence. Load up cargo ships (which are the most enormous transportation devices on the planet) and bring an aircraft carrier or two with cargo helicopters to bring the goods inland:

"The CH-53E heavylift transport helicopter can carry cargo with a maximum weight of 13.6 t internally or 14.5 t externally."

But yes, agree on the precarity of island life.

cocomaan , October 23, 2017 at 6:39 pm

I get what both of you are saying vis a vis sea travel, Jones Act and all, but even in the best of all possible human organizations, it's still a major factor in any relief effort. It's just not nearly as easy to get people from point A to point B by boat. If your car breaks down, you're stranded, if your boat breaks down, you could easily die.

rd , October 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Much of the sea barrier is man-made, namely the Jones Act. As a result, it is more expensive for Puerto Rico to get supplies form the US than from non-American sources because of shipping costs.

Joel , October 23, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Could NC do a post on the Jones Act?

Do we allow foreign-flagged vessels to transport goods between, say, California and Hawaii? What about Guam and the US Virgin Islands?

Thor's Hammer , October 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

We do live on a global island. Soot from Chinese coal burning lands on the few remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park and hastens their demise. Methane from melting permafrost in the Northwest Territories acts as a blanket to increase solar heating of the ocean surface. Increased ocean temperatures help hurricanes to explode from Category 1 to 5 almost overnight and stall over Houston as a Biblical deluge.

Three well-placed air-burst EMP nuclear bombs can disable communication and transport over most of the country. And a week without water and food being transported into New York would turn it into San Juan with no rescue boats on the horizon and frozen corpses piling up in the alleys in mid-winter.

We all live on an island -- one held together by a thin spider web of technology and resting upon an biosphere that we are waging war against with our insatiable imperative of growth.

Mark K , October 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

"The political class seems to have lost the ability to mobilize on behalf of its citizens.". It wasn't always this way. Read http://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/thirty-eight-new-england-lumber-storm .

When I read what the FDR Administration was able to accomplish amidst the devastation of New England's forests wrought by the hurricane of 1938, it brought tears to my eyes.

HotFlash , October 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm

"The political class seems to have lost the ability to mobilize on behalf of its citizens."

My momma used to say, "Where there's a will, there's a way." I have observed that if there's 'no way', it's because there is no will. I think this is the case in PR, as it was in NOLA, and as it seems to be in Houston (except for the *nice* neighbourhoods, of course). Cali fire victims, prepare to be On Your Own(tm).

JohnS , October 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Great job, Lambert .insight and solid research into a topic overlooked by the MSM and the politicals .

If your interest and time permits, I would love a report on what FEMA will/has provided for LONG TERM HOUSING for PR, Northern CA, and the areas hit hard by hurricanes on the USA mainland ..

I have not been able to locate much on this topic

Last I heard was that FEMA had Zero trailers on hand and had let out a contract to some company(s) to build new trailers.

In the interim, there was a report that FEMA would be distributing TENTS to some people in need of shelter. I believe this article was a report from Florida after the fist Hurricane hit there.

A look at Puerto Rico shows that there at lots of homes without roofs ..and they are probably not accessible for a trailer delivery up in the hills. In Santa Rosa, CA, there is very little affordable and available housing close to Santa Rosa. The rains will arrive and then the Mud will Turn the Sand into YUCK and MUCK.

I remember, after Katrina and her friends beat up New Orleans, a lot of folks were flown away from New Orleans (Barbara Bush opined it was probably a good deal for a lot of 'em) and many did not return. Others were put in FEMA trailers. (TREME on HBO covered the KATRINA aftermath as only David Simon can!)

Anyone else, who can provide me with links or information, is most welcome to respond.

Happy Trails,

JohnS

Bruce , October 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

FEMA's mission is emergency/first response mobilization. It is not their job or within its functionality or budget to provide long-term rebuilding solutions. That falls on the island's government, with congressional financial assistance if congress allocates money for it.

Mel , October 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm

The Army Corps of Engineers are one thing, the other things are the Combat Engineers, organized perhaps as regiments and assigned to combat brigades. These are the people who do roads, airfields, etc., and the ones you would have wanted on the spot in Puerto Rico from maybe day two.

a different chris , October 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm

I strongly believe the problem is the deployment to the Middle East. Bullies strongly believe they must never, ever show weakness. So they believe that they can't pull Combat Engineers out of Whateveristan without looking weak.

So they don't – and they bless their lucky stars that Puerto Rico isn't a state and Puerto Ricans aren't considered Americans by most Americans. However – how many of those deployed to the ME are from Puerto Rico, and how are they reacting? I gotta wonder.

rd , October 23, 2017 at 6:06 pm

USGS has started mapping the landslide impacts:

https://landslides.usgs.gov/research/featured/2017-maria-pr/

http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2017/10/05/hurricane-maria-1/

To get a road open, you need to clear the trees and debris, repair bridges, and repair landslides. In rugged terrain, this is a serious effort as just one break makes the road unusable for deliveries beyond the break.

SerenityNow , October 23, 2017 at 7:43 pm

The Bloomberg piece explains:

Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world, thanks to urban sprawl and the government's failure to build public transportation that commuters might actually use . Puerto Ricans are isolated without cars About 931,000 Puerto Ricans drive or carpool to work out of 3.4 million total residents, according to U.S. Census data. [T]he island has the fifth-highest number of vehicles per capita in the world.

The only thing I would like to mention is that people don't drive because there soley because there is no public transportation, they drive because it is the most convenient/fast/cost effective mode of travel available. You could build all the lightrail in the world, but if it wasn't more convenient/cheaper/cost effective than driving, people wouldn't take it. Disincentives for driving are much more powerful than incentives for transit.

How much road do they have per inhabitant there? Maybe disasters like these could be a wakeup call for how we lay out our development and where we spend our infrastructure dollars? Unfortunately probably not.

Vatch , October 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm

I haven't read the book or seen the movie, so maybe my comment is off base, but I'll proceed anyway. This article makes me think of the post-apocalyptic drama "The Road", by Cormac McCarthy.

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , October 23, 2017 at 11:40 pm

If the U.S. is not an empire, Puerto Rico would not be a protectorate or whatever. If the U.S. is an empire in decline, Puerto Rico being abandoned would be a signal to the world that the U.S. dollar is in serious trouble.

What with PR's situation and the apparent U.S. tendency to retreat from simple truths, could a collapse in preference falsification* be in progress?

From my side of the world, the U.S. is becoming more than ever a busted flush of apparent and unsustainable inconsistencies which might take us all down with it.

Here's hoping that there is a bounty of brilliant minds and and excellent administrators in the U.S. military leadership who are ready to step up.

Pip Pip!

*see Timur Kuran's 1995 work.

George Phillies , October 24, 2017 at 12:23 am

By report Puerto Rico is making a deal with a Washington (state) power company on power line repair, the issues involved in running power lines through PR and through inland Washington being rather similar. the last Saffir 3, 4, or 5 hurricanes ot hit the island did so in 1928 and 1932, or so I have read, so on one hand there is plenty of time to get a return on investment, and on the other hand, there was no rationale for building power lines that could survive a force 4 or 5 hurricane.

Felix_47 , October 24, 2017 at 1:18 am

Puerto Rico is third world lite. They could rebuild and become a model for the third world. There are only 3 million people on the island. They dont have to pay Fed income tax. It could be a great retirement location for elderly whites. It just requires investment. Currently the single largest employer is the US govt. They need leadership from within.

Vatch , October 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

Here's what the IRS says about Puerto Rico and income taxes (quoted from Wikipedia ):

In general, United States citizens and resident aliens who are bona fide residents of Puerto Rico during the entire tax year, which for most individuals is January 1 to December 31, are only required to file a U.S. federal income tax return if they have income sources outside of Puerto Rico or if they are employees of the U.S. government. Bona fide residents of Puerto Rico generally do not report income received from sources within Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return.

So they pay income tax, but only on income from outside Puerto Rico. Also from Wikipedia:

In 2009, Puerto Rico paid $3.742 billion into the US Treasury.[10] Residents of Puerto Rico pay into Social Security, and are thus eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement. However, they are excluded from the Supplemental Security Income.

The federal taxes paid by Puerto Rico residents include import/export taxes,[11] federal commodity taxes,[12] and others. Residents also pay federal payroll taxes, such as Social Security[13] and Medicare taxes.[14]

[Oct 25, 2017] Shocking the Shock Doctrine What Recovery in Puerto Rico Could Look Like

Oct 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

If neoliberalism is the belief that the proper role of government is to enrich the rich -- in Democratic circles they call it "wealth creation" to hide the recipients; Republicans are much more blatant -- then the " shock doctrine " is its action plan.

Click the link above for more information (or read the book ), but in essence the idea is to use any form of disaster, whether earthquake or economic/political crisis, to remake a society in the neoliberal image. To reconstruct the destroyed world, in other words, to the liking of holders of great wealth -- by privatizing everything of value held by the public (think water rights, public roads); by forcing austerity on cash-strapped governments as the price for "aid" (think loans, not grants, repaid by unwritten social insurance checks); by putting "managers," or simply loan officers, in charge of democratic decision-making.

In simple, a "shock doctrine" solution always takes this form: "Yes, we'll help you, but we now own your farm and what it produces. Also, your family must work on it for the next 50 years."

This is what happened in Chile after Pinochet and his coup murdered the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende and took over the government. It's what's happening to Greece, victim of collusion between greedy international bankers and the corrupt Greek politicians they cultivated. And it's what happened in the U.S. during the 2008 bailout of bankers, by which government money was sent in buckets to companies like AIG so they could pay their debts in full to companies like Goldman Sachs. While millions of mortgaged homeowners crashed and burned to the ground.

The populist reaction to neoliberal "reform" is usually social revolt, often or usually ineffective, since creditors are, almost by definition, people with money, and people with money, almost by definition, control most governments. In Greece, the revolt sparked the election of an (ineffective) "socialist" government -- plus the rise of the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn. In the U.S. the revolt still still sparks universal (and ineffective) hatred of the 2008 bank bailout -- plus the rise of the failed Sanders candidacy and the successful Trump presidency.

The form this same revolt will take in 2018 and 2020 is still to be determined.

The Shock Doctrine and Puerto Rico

The "shock doctrine" -- the stripping of wealth from the devastated by the already-way-too-wealthy -- is now being applied to Puerto Rico. Even before the hurricanes hit it, Puerto Rico was a second-class citizen relative to states of the U.S., even among its non-state territories. In contrast to Puerto Rico, for example, the American Virgin Islands were instantly much better treated when it came to relief from the Jones Act , a sign of already-established prejudice.

The reason should be obvious. In Puerto Rico , English is the primary language of less than 10% of the people, while Spanish is the dominant language of the school system and daily life. In the American Virgin Islands , English is the dominant language, and Spanish is spoken by less than 20% of the population. The fact that two-thirds of the population of the U.S. Virgin Islands is black seems to be lost on most Americans, a fact that likely benefits those inhabitants greatly in times like these.

Thus, to most Americans the citizens of Puerto Rico are conveniently (for neoliberals) easy to paint as "them," the undeserving, which changes what atrocities can be committed in the name of "aid" -- much like it did after Hurricane Katrina devastated "them"-inhabited New Orleans.

Synoia , October 24, 2017 at 6:41 am

Puerto Rico is not Sovereign. Are its debts valid? Could they be repudiated?

Huey Long , October 24, 2017 at 8:09 am

Congress passed a law back in the 80's prohibiting PR from defaulting. Repudiation of PR debt would entail getting our current congress and prez to pass legislation to repudiate it, so in other words divine intervention ;-).

rd , October 24, 2017 at 10:56 am

The one place in the US that did get hammered by NAFTA was Puerto Rico. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/03/us/trade-pact-threatens-puerto-rico-s-economic-rise.html?pagewanted=all

When NAFTA was passed, Congress also stripped companies of tax benefits for having operations in Puerto Rico. In addition, the Jones Act makes shipping to and from Puerto Rico more expensive than shipping to and from Mexico. Oddly enough, many companies moved operations from Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico has been in recession/depression ever since.

Norb , October 24, 2017 at 9:28 am

I think Puerto Rico will be interesting to watch to see if anti neoliberal sentiment can take hold and survive. In one sense, every individual abandoned or ensnared in debt is in the same boat. Once put in a situation of debt servitude, the only recourse to extricate oneself is to become self reliant and attempt to build supporting networks. The trouble is, once those networks start to form, the traditional game plan is to bring in force and break them up.

If strong, self-supporting communities can form in PR, it will provide inspiration for communities on the mainland.

It will be also interesting to see if self-funded initiatives can make headway against the banking and financial interests.

This situation in PR is important in that it can change the focus of community building away form personal self-interest as now exists in America, and towards the common good, as it should be. The same is happening all across the mainland in economically devastated communities, but successfully blacked out in the media.

This truly is a long term endeavor, but tragically, climate change will increase the opportunities for proper action. The proper long term investment is in people and life skills. Lets roll up our sleeves.

flora , October 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

an aside:
" Once put in a situation of debt servitude, the only recourse to extricate oneself is to become self reliant and attempt to build supporting networks. "

US people born 1880 – 1900 were adults/young adults with families when the Great Depression hit. Their children, sometimes referred to as The Greatest Generation, were children or teens during the depression and saw how debt destroyed families. When those children grew up they were debt averse. The Depression/Greatest Gen's children, the Baby Boomers, would often joke their parents, who were Depression kids, could squeeze a nickel until it screamed. Boomers, having no memory of systemic economic bad times, took on large debts for school and housing on the theory their income would always increase as it had for their parents. Now the Boomers children are facing a wholly different economy, more like the Great Depression than the Booming 50's and 60's.

I expect today's younger generation will become debt averse. That would hurt the FIRE sector's reliance on ever increasing debt payment rents. Reducing the FIRE sectors influence would be good for both the Main Street economy and individuals, imo.

diptherio , October 24, 2017 at 11:52 am

It will be also interesting to see if self-funded initiatives can make headway against the banking and financial interests.

See my comment below. Puerto Rico already has a thriving, self-funded co-op movement, so I think they've got a better chance than most.

Jim Haygood , October 24, 2017 at 9:57 am

"What's killing the modern world is the world-wide overhang of personal debt -- not government deficits, which are entirely different."

This is an odd claim to make in an article about Puerto Rico, whose troubled debt is entirely governmental. Pie chart:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rican_government-debt_crisis#/media/File:Distribution-puerto-rico-outstanding-debt.png

In turn, Puerto Rico's govt debt crisis led to the imposition of a crushing 11.5% sales tax, making retail prices already jacked up by the Jones Act even more unaffordable.

Puerto Rico's recovery will depend almost entirely on how much of a haircut is imposed on bondholders versus restructuring and extending in the Greek fashion, which would doom PR forevahhhh.

Thor's Hammer , October 24, 2017 at 10:22 am

It would be interesting to compare the pace of recovery in Cuba with that of Puerto Rico. Both were hit by category 5 hurricanes within days of each other. In the case of Cuba, Havana was every much at the center of the bulls eye as San Juan Puerto Rico if I am correct. But I've not been able to uncover a single scrap of reporting that draws the comparison. Perhaps it would be embarrassing to the defenders of "free market" capitalism and social organization?

But hurricanes are last month's news. We've moved on to the startling revelations that fat pig movie directors are pussy grabbers just like our President.

Rakesh , October 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm

http://www.frontline.in/world-affairs/a-tale-of-two-islands/article9892265.ece

GlobalMisanthrope , October 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Thank you posting this!

I have always believed that one of the primary aims of the Cuba travel ban was to keep us Puerto Ricans from traveling there to see what isolation and poverty -- the constant threats leveled at those who support PR independence -- could look like.

Thor's Hammer , October 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Thanks for posting this journalism from an Indian source. While it may be accurate, the writing style reads like it was copied straight from the Ideologe's Bible. So I'll file it along most commentary from outlets like the Washington Post– assume it is fraudulent propaganda until proven otherwise.

Jeremy Grimm , October 24, 2017 at 11:48 am

It's very nice to talk about how to rebuild Puerto Rico but how long will it be before Puerto Rico is hit by another major hurricane? And while we're thinking of Puerto Rico what about Houston, and Florida? What about the North Carolina sea coast -- or New Jersey -- NYC? I don't expect anything reasonable will be done in rebuilding any of these places or beginning an orderly retreat to higher ground.

Some parts of these areas may remain habitable -- at least long enough to make it worthwhile to build infrastructure but I believe it will be a mistake to simply "rebuild". Replacement infrastructure should be built to better withstand the future storms and rising seas. I am aware that not "rebuilding" is neither socially nor politically viable. It just seems a shame to waste what time and resources remain.

diptherio , October 24, 2017 at 11:50 am

I was fortunate enough to get to meet a number of Puerto Rican cooperators at this year's Assoc. of Cooperative Educators Institute in Denver. Puerto Rico has a very strong cooperative sector/movement. Co-ops in Puerto Rico don't pay tax to the gov't. Instead, each co-op provides (iirc) 2% of net revenues to Liga de Cooperativas de Puerto Rico , the apex co-op organization for the island. This provides an internally funded support mechanism for co-ops and has helped create a thriving co-op ecosystem.

So I've got some optimism that my Puerto Rican friends will be able to replace at least some of the failed systems that have been afflicting them with cooperative, sustainable, alternative solutions.

Watt4Bob , October 24, 2017 at 11:58 am

Things are moving fast, from MSN ;

Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company which is primarily financed by a private equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico's over 3 million residents.

As usual, donate a few thousand, reap millions.

FEC data compiled by The Daily Beast shows that Colonnetta contributed $20,000 to the "Trump Victory" PAC during the general election, $27,000 to Trump's primary election campaign (then the maximum amount permitted), $27,000 to Trump's general election campaign (also the maximum), and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016 alone.

Colonnetta's wife, Kimberly, is no stranger to Republican politics either; shortly after Trump's victory she gave $33,400 to the Republican National Committee, the maximum contribution permitted for party committees in 2016.

Bears repeating, we're not only 'ruled' by whores, we're ruled by cheap whores.

Of course I make apologies to all ladies of negotiable affection.

[Oct 24, 2017] Did the USA cool to Poroshenko? Mishiko just said: What stands between us and that future? A tiny clique of oligarchs and speculators: The President and his entourage

Notable quotes:
"... "Everyone knows that five-billion contracts are not signed by the defense minister or by his deputy, or even by any head of the Defense Ministry department. All politicians know who signs five-billion contracts. And this is the president of Ukraine," Tymoshenko said, while commenting on the scandal with the detention by the NABU of Deputy Defense Minister Ihor Pavlovsky and director of the public procurement department at the Defense Ministry Volodymyr Hulevych. ..."
Oct 24, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

yalensis , October 22, 2017 at 6:25 am

Only just got some time to start following Mishiko's "Mikho-Maidan" (English-language hashtag is #Mikhomaidan .

Apparently Saakashvili came up with a humdinger this morning: He promised his followers from the stump that the Ukraine will become a superpower dictating conditions to Europe and the world.


"Там где есть сила, там будет Украинская сверхдержава, которая будет диктовать условия в Европе и всем другим, и где люди будут жить достойно Что стоит между нами и этим будущим? Это маленькая кучка олигархов, барыг – президент и его окружение", -- сказал он, заверив, что сменить нынешнюю власть при желании населения можно "очень быстро и очень безболезненно".

"Кто-то говорит – "вот, этот гастролер, зачем он тут?" Все очень просто. Нет будущего ни у Грузии, ни у Молдовы, ни у Белоруссии, ни у кого в регионе, если не будет Украины", -- подчеркнул Саакашвили.

TRANSLATION:
"If people shall unite as a force, then there will be a Ukrainian superpower which will dictate conditions in Europe and to all the others; and people [here] will be able to live their lives with dignity. What stands between us and that future? A tiny clique of oligarchs and speculators: The President and his entourage," he said, assuring people that it would be a very quick and painless matter to overturn the existing government, given the desire of the people.
"Some people say, oh, here is that travelling showman, why is he here? It's very simple: There can be no future, neither for Gruzia, nor Moldavia, nor Belorussia, not for anyone in this region, if a Ukraine doesn't exist," Saakashvili underscored.

Pavlo Svolochenko , October 22, 2017 at 7:43 am
Does he even have any legal right to be in the country?
yalensis , October 22, 2017 at 11:56 am
No.
Jen , October 22, 2017 at 7:14 pm
Mishiko doesn't have the legal right to be in any country. He's stateless.
yalensis , October 23, 2017 at 3:08 am
He is just like Philip Nolan, "The Man Without A Country".

http://files.constantcontact.com/766c6672201/17c86a4a-16a5-412a-bffe-da50a5251b12.png?a=1127596639173

Patient Observer , October 22, 2017 at 7:56 am
Some people say, oh, here is that travelling showman, why is he here?

A good question yet to be answered by Mr. Saakashvili. The answer probably includes money, food, cocaine, public attention, food, sex and did I mention food?

marknesop , October 22, 2017 at 11:20 am
Mmmmm ..that sounds suspiciously like his oratory while President of Georgia, when he predicted that within X years of his modernizations like the Glass Bridge in Tbilisi (between 3 and 5, I forget now and the source was assimilated into the government's propaganda-pablum machine), there would be more tourists in Georgia than there were Georgians. Or like the time he told the US Senate that Georgia was so honest a place that people did not even lock their doors, the same year the US Government's State Department released a travel warning for Georgia that warned against pickpockets and various forms of thieving, including stopping your car on the road and robbing you or making you get out and taking the car. Crimes carried out by Georgian and Ukrainian organized criminals are often blamed on the Russian mafia.
yalensis , October 22, 2017 at 11:58 am
Also don't forget when Mishka bragged that Gruzia didn't need no stinking Russian wine market – they could always sell their best stuff to Western Europe!
'cause, see, the French and Germans and Italians don't produce any good wines
marknesop , October 22, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Yes, that's right! And then when the Russian market opened up again, it was greeted with great relief by the Georgian winemakers, and impartial sources remarked that there was not much of an appetite in Europe for Georgia's sweet and somewhat heavy wines, while Russians were very fond of them. Ukraine is learning the same bitter lesson now, and there would be nobody like Mishka to teach them. For the west's part, they would probably be quite willing to give Mishka another project, to keep him busy and keep Ukraine from slipping back into the Russian orbit.

Don't forget that Poroshenko is not likely to be going anywhere, since Ukraine is making him richer and richer, and he is likely to dabble in politics even after he is evicted in the next election. But having Mishka there to split the vote could easily result in a Tymoshenko victory. And that would be just perfect, with all her histrionic squalling about getting a machine gun and going to kill some Katsaps. She did say 'we'. Go ahead, Yooooolia. Let's see you bring it.

Speaking of Yoooolia, she now says that Poroshenko is using the army's fuel contracts to launder money .

"Everyone knows that five-billion contracts are not signed by the defense minister or by his deputy, or even by any head of the Defense Ministry department. All politicians know who signs five-billion contracts. And this is the president of Ukraine," Tymoshenko said, while commenting on the scandal with the detention by the NABU of Deputy Defense Minister Ihor Pavlovsky and director of the public procurement department at the Defense Ministry Volodymyr Hulevych.

Ponder for a moment the irony of Tymoshenko – who browbeat the director of Naftogaz into signing the take-or-pay contract with Russia which caused Ukraine such grief and then flew to Russia herself to wrap it up, after being specifically told by the Rada cabinet not to do it – pointing the accusing finger at corruption in the energy business.

[Oct 17, 2017] Ukrainian foreign trade deficit in January-August has grown to over three billion dollars

Slightly edited Google translation from Ukrainian
Please note that grivna generally kept its value and fluctuated in the band of 26-27 grivna per dollar for the same period. The general impression from 2015 to 2017 is slight growth of economic activity, especially in home building. Standard of living did not change much for this period and remains low. Food prices were more or less stable, which communal services costs especially house/apartment heating skyrocketed and even for one bedroom apartment now at winter can well exceed average pension.
Some percentage of foreign trade deficit might well be due to additional costs of import of coal (with some coming from the USA now) and gas (which is bought not directly but from Eastern European countries which has extra volumes at low prices from Russia). The continuing war at Donbass although at very low level still also attracts a lot funds.
Notable quotes:
"... Ukrainian foreign trade deficit in January-August has grown to 3.279 billion dollars, which is 2.3 times higher than the deficit for the same period last year - 1.448 billion dollars. ..."
"... The export coverage ratio was 0.89, while in January-August 2016 it was 0.94. ..."
"... For the whole 2016, Ukraine enjoyed a small surplus of foreign trade balance amounted to 337.3 million dollars. ..."
www.pravda.com.ua/

Ukrainian foreign trade deficit in January-August has grown to 3.279 billion dollars, which is 2.3 times higher than the deficit for the same period last year - 1.448 billion dollars.

Those data were reported by the Ukrainian National State Statistics Service.

Exports of goods from Ukraine over the period in comparison with the same period in 2016 increased by 21,1% - to 27,512 billion dollars, import - by 27,4%, to 30,791 billion dollars.

The export coverage ratio was 0.89, while in January-August 2016 it was 0.94. Foreign trade operations were conducted with partners from 219 countries of the world. For the whole 2016, Ukraine enjoyed a small surplus of foreign trade balance amounted to 337.3 million dollars.

[Oct 17, 2017] Kiev Should Give Up on the Donbass by Alexander J. Motyl

The article was written before April, 2017 and as such has only historical interest.
foreignpolicy.com

It didn't take long for things in Ukraine to go south in the Trump era.

Before last fall's U.S. election, Ukraine had finally appeared to be stabilizing after several tumultuous years. The country was receiving generally good grades and assistance from the International Monetary Fund; it enjoyed the political, diplomatic, and financial -- if not quite military -- support of the West; and it was making headway on internal reforms in the legal, economic, social, educational, health, and energy sectors. Finally, its armed forces had successfully transformed themselves from the 6,000 combat-ready troops available in mid-2014 to a powerful, battle-hardened army that managed to fight Russia and its proxies to a standstill in the east.

... ... ...

Kiev couldn't turn down such an offer, because it has continually insisted that the Donbass must, and will, be brought back into the Ukrainian fold. But the consequences of this gift would be ugly. Kiev would likely face an all-out war with the abandoned separatists, one that it would probably win, but then have to follow with enormous investments to fix the devastated region and try to win the hearts and minds of its anti-Kiev population. Estimates of how much it would cost to undo the damage done by Russia start at $20 billion, according to economist Anders Aslund; Ukraine's entire budget amounts to about $26 billion.

No less debilitating for Ukraine would be the political consequences of reintegrating the occupied Donbass. Several million anti-Western voters would be brought into the fold, to vote against Ukraine's pro-Western reforms. The pro-Russian political forces that ruled and still rule the region would get a second life. And the oligarchs and thieves who mismanaged the Donbass for decades would return to power. The Donbass would then play the same retrograde role it has played in Ukrainian politics since independence in 1991. Political tensions would increase, East-West polarization would return, Kiev would be rendered politically and economically impotent, and Putin would have achieved what he wanted all along -- a thoroughly unstable Ukraine, minus the cost of funding a low-level conflict in an economically doomed enclave.

Of course, it's impossible to say just which of these scenarios -- ranging from all-out war to dumping the Donbass to some other intermediate move -- will happen. The point is that, with Trump's unpredictability, radicalism, and pro-Russian sympathies, all of them are now possible or far more possible than they were before Trump's election.

The point is that, with Trump's unpredictability, radicalism, and pro-Russian sympathies, all of them are now possible or far more possible than they were before Trump's election.

Since the status quo that has held for the past two years is unlikely to do so for long, Ukraine needs to develop a realistic strategy toward the occupied Donbass -- one attuned to the new geopolitical circumstances -- and prepare for all of Trump and Putin's possible faits accomplis.

The good news is that Ukraine is prepared for all-out war with Russia; it is also prepared for and could cope with aid cutoffs from Washington and the end of sanctions. The bad news is that Kiev is thoroughly unprepared for the one scenario that could destroy Ukraine at little cost to Putin: Russia's return of the Donbass.

Whatever Kiev decides to do, Ukrainians must first decide what they believe is more important: independence or territorial integrity. The Minsk accords enabled Ukraine to enjoy the first and aspire to the second. This state of affairs could not have lasted forever, but Trump and Putin have brought it to a premature end.

Before Trump, Ukrainians could avoid making too many tough decisions about their strategic priorities. After Trump, they cannot.

[Oct 17, 2017] The Deep Unfairness of America's All-Volunteer Force by Dennis Laich and Lawrence Wilkerson

Notable quotes:
"... Fiscally, the AVF is going to break the bank. The land forces in particular are still having difficulties fielding adequate numbers -- even with lowered standards, substituting women for men (from 1.6 percent of the AVF in 1973 to more than 16 percent today), recruitment and reenlistment bonuses totaling tens of millions of dollars, advertising campaigns costing billions, massive recruitment of non-citizens, use of psychotropic drugs to recycle unfit soldiers and Marines to combat zones, and overall pay and allowances that include free world-class health care and excellent retirement plans that are, for the first time in the military's history, comparable to or even exceeding civilian rates and offerings. ..."
"... A glaring case in point is the recent recruitment by the Army of 62,000 men and women, its target for fiscal year 2016. To arrive at that objective, the Army needed 9,000 recruiting staff (equivalent to three combat brigades) working full-time. If one does the math, that equates to each of these recruiters gaining one-point-something recruits every two months -- an utterly astounding statistic. Additionally, the Army had to resort to taking a small percentage of recruits in Mental Category IV -- the lowest category and one that, post-Vietnam, the Army made a silent promise never to resort to again. ..."
"... Moreover, the recruiting and retention process and rich pay and allowances are consuming one half of the Army's entire annual budget slice, precluding any sort of affordable increase in its end strength. This end strength constraint creates the need for more and more private contractors on the nation's battlefields in order to compensate. The employment of private contractors is politically seductive and strategically dangerous. To those enemies we fight they are the enemy and to most reasonable people they are mercenaries. Mercenaries are motivated by profit not patriotism -- despite their CEOs' protestations to the contrary -- and place America on the slippery slope towards compromising the right of sovereign nations to the monopoly of violence for state purposes. In short, Congress and the Pentagon make the Army bigger than the American people believe that it is and the American people allow themselves to be convinced; thus it is a shared delusion that comforts both parties. ..."
"... There is yet another dimension to the AVF that is truly an "unmentionable." As President Barack Obama said to one of us in the Roosevelt Room in November 2015 -- referring to Washington, D.C. -- "There is a bias in this town toward war." ..."
"... What the president meant was quite clear: powerful forces such as the military-industrial complex, a less-than-courageous Congress that has abandoned its constitutional duty with respect to the war power, extreme ideologies, and a nation with no skin in the game, work together to persuade all presidents to consider war as the first instrument of national power rather than the last. ..."
"... Is there anyone among us who would not believe that having an all-volunteer (or, more to the point, an all-recruited) military coming only from the 1 percent does not contribute to the facility with which presidents call upon that instrument? In a rational world, we would be declared insane to believe otherwise. ..."
"... Said more explicitly, if the sons and daughters of members of Congress, of the corporate leadership, of the billionaire class, of the Ivy Leagues, of the elite in general, were exposed to the possibility of combat, would we have less war? From a socio-economic class perspective, the AVF is inherently unfair. ..."
"... "From a socio-economic class perspective, the AVF is inherently unfair." ..."
"... "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." ..."
"... Now, I, and maybe you, read the 13th amendment to the constitution as clearly banning conscription, but the courts don't think so. Their reasoning actually being, that since conscription was in place at the time of the 13th amendment's passage, the words written and printed couldn't possibly mean what they clearly mean as common English usage. ..."
"... I realize how unpopular this statement will be, but that 1 percent who are bleeding and dying are generally doing so in foreign wars that are not truly defending the 99 percent. They are doing it for the pro-war, pro-intervention subsets of various elite populations, popularly supported by misinformed people of the lower/middle classes. ..."
"... Perhaps the shortage of volunteer soldiers indicates war-weariness? ..."
"... In the late 60s -- early 70s we used to chide Pat Buchanan and his mates with "War is good business -- invest your sons". Of course, even then, he was investing other people's sons. His good mate Trump has already bragged about his "contribution" to the war effort, dodging STIs rather than bullets. ..."
"... The only ethical course of action when faced with an insufficient number of volunteers for a war is, of course, to cancel the war. ..."
"... Simple solution: Constitutional amendment stating, In order to vote in Federal Elections or to hold Federal office, appointed or elected, you must: ..."
"... a DD214 showing honorable discharge ..."
"... Nothing the US Army does "protects America". On the contrary it's a bigger threat than anything it can protect the US from. They fight for combinations of cash, training, education, travel, to carry on the family tradition , travel and adventure. The people who send them to fight do so for power and ego. Not "national interests" There are none only the interests of people who want power. ..."
"... What the old saying about war "Rich man's game with the poor man paying the price." ..."
"... Smedley Butler saw this happening in his time, too. The wars were smaller and less expensive, but they had the same root cause. Wherever our companies go and are thwarted by locals in any way, we find an excuse to deploy and make that area safe for commercial activity. Libya is a shambles now after Gaddafi's removal, but it's out of the news because organized, government-led resistance to oil companies benefiting from one-sided leases is impossible. This year, Libya hit a four-year high for oil production, in the middle of a six-cornered civil war. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As far as we know, the phrase "all-recruited force" was coined by Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War , a book that provides vivid insight into the U.S. Marines who fought in that conflict. Mr. Marlantes used the expression to describe what's happened to today's allegedly "volunteer" force, to say in effect that it is no such thing. Instead it is composed in large part of people recruited so powerfully and out of such receptive circumstances that it requires a new way of being described. We agree with Mr. Marlantes. So do others.

In The Economist back in 2015 , an article about the U.S. All-Volunteer Force (AVF) posed the question: "Who will fight the next war?" and went on to describe how the AVF is becoming more and more difficult to field as well as growing ever more distant from the people from whom it comes and for whom it fights. The piece painted a disturbing scene. That the scene was painted by a British magazine of such solid reputation in the field of economics is ironic in a sense but not inexplicable. After all, it is the fiscal aspect of the AVF that is most immediate and pressing. Recruiting and retaining the force has become far too costly and is ultimately unsustainable.

When the Gates Commission set up the rationale for the AVF in 1970, it did so at the behest of a president, Richard Nixon, who had come to see the conscript military as a political dagger aimed at his own heart. One could argue that the decision to abolish conscription was a foregone conclusion; the Commission simply provided a rationale for doing it and for volunteerism to replace it.

But whatever we might think of the Commission's work and Nixon's motivation, what has happened in the last 16 years -- interminable war -- was never on the Commission's radar screen. Like most crises, as Colin Powell used to lament when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this one was unexpected, not planned for, and begs denial as a first reaction.

That said, after 16 years of war it is plain to all but the most recalcitrant that the U.S. cannot afford the AVF -- ethically, morally, or fiscally.

Fiscally, the AVF is going to break the bank. The land forces in particular are still having difficulties fielding adequate numbers -- even with lowered standards, substituting women for men (from 1.6 percent of the AVF in 1973 to more than 16 percent today), recruitment and reenlistment bonuses totaling tens of millions of dollars, advertising campaigns costing billions, massive recruitment of non-citizens, use of psychotropic drugs to recycle unfit soldiers and Marines to combat zones, and overall pay and allowances that include free world-class health care and excellent retirement plans that are, for the first time in the military's history, comparable to or even exceeding civilian rates and offerings.

A glaring case in point is the recent recruitment by the Army of 62,000 men and women, its target for fiscal year 2016. To arrive at that objective, the Army needed 9,000 recruiting staff (equivalent to three combat brigades) working full-time. If one does the math, that equates to each of these recruiters gaining one-point-something recruits every two months -- an utterly astounding statistic. Additionally, the Army had to resort to taking a small percentage of recruits in Mental Category IV -- the lowest category and one that, post-Vietnam, the Army made a silent promise never to resort to again.

Moreover, the recruiting and retention process and rich pay and allowances are consuming one half of the Army's entire annual budget slice, precluding any sort of affordable increase in its end strength. This end strength constraint creates the need for more and more private contractors on the nation's battlefields in order to compensate. The employment of private contractors is politically seductive and strategically dangerous. To those enemies we fight they are the enemy and to most reasonable people they are mercenaries. Mercenaries are motivated by profit not patriotism -- despite their CEOs' protestations to the contrary -- and place America on the slippery slope towards compromising the right of sovereign nations to the monopoly of violence for state purposes. In short, Congress and the Pentagon make the Army bigger than the American people believe that it is and the American people allow themselves to be convinced; thus it is a shared delusion that comforts both parties.

A more serious challenge for the democracy that is America, however, is the ethical one. Today, more than 300 million Americans lay claim to rights, liberties, and security that not a single one of them is obligated to protect and defend. Apparently, only 1 percent of the population feels that obligation. That 1 percent is bleeding and dying for the other 99 percent.

Further, that 1 percent does not come primarily or even secondarily from the families of the Ivy Leagues, of Wall Street, of corporate leadership, from the Congress, or from affluent America; it comes from less well-to-do areas: West Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and elsewhere. For example, the Army now gets more soldiers from the state of Alabama, population 4.8 million, than it gets from New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles combined, aggregate metropolitan population more than 25 million. Similarly, 40 percent of the Army comes from seven states of the Old South. As one of us has documented in his book, Skin in the Game: Poor Kids and Patriots , this is an ethically poisonous situation. And as the article in The Economist concludes, it's dangerous as well.

The last 16 years have also generated, as wars tend to do, hundreds of thousands of veterans. The costs of taking care of these men and women are astronomical today and will only rise over the next decades, which is one reason our veterans are already being inadequately cared for. Without the political will to shift funds, there simply is not enough money to provide the necessary care. And given the awesome debt America now shoulders -- approaching 20 trillion dollars and certain to increase -- it is difficult to see this situation changing for the better.

In fact, when one calculates today's U.S. national security budget -- not simply the well-advertised Pentagon budget -- the total expenditure of taxpayer dollars approaches $1.2 trillion annually, or more than twice what most Americans believe they are paying for national security. This total figure includes the costs of nuclear weapons (Energy Department), homeland security (Homeland Security Department), veteran care (Veterans Administration), intelligence needs (CIA and Defense Department), international relations (State Department), and the military and its operations (the Pentagon and its slush fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations account). The Pentagon budget alone is larger than that of the next 14 nations in the world combined. Only recently (September 2016), the Pentagon leadership confessed that as much as 50 percent of its slush fund (OCO) is not used for war operations -- the fund's statutory purpose -- but for other expenses, including "military readiness." We suspect this includes recruiting and associated costs.

There is still another dimension of the AVF that goes basically unmentioned and unreported. The AVF has compelled the nation to transition its reserve component forces from what they have been since colonial times -- a strategic reserve -- into being an operational reserve. That's military-speak for our having used the reserve components to make up for deeply felt shortages in the active force. Nowhere is this more dramatically reflected than in the rate of deployment-to-overseas duty of the average reservist, now about once every 3.8 years.

Such an operational tempo causes extreme problems for both civilian employers and for National Guard and reserve units. What employer, for example, wants to hire a young man or woman who will be gone for a year every four years on average, when that employer can reach out and hire someone from the 99 percent who will likely not be absent? And how do the reserve units keep up recruiting numbers when faced with such a situation?

Moreover, when we look at the reserve component deployment statistics over a decade or so of what now seems like interminable war, we discover how badly skewed such deployments are. For example, as of 2011, North Dakota, Mississippi, and South Dakota had Guard/Reserve deployment rates of over 40 per 10,000, and Iowa had a rate of over 30 per 10,000. In contrast, the Guard/Reserve deployment burdens for New York, California, and Texas were all less than 15 per 10,000. Perhaps surprisingly, Massachusetts had a higher Guard/Reserve deployment burden per 10,000 than Texas did (these numbers cover the 9/30/01 -- 12/31/10 timeframe).

A deeper look at the county levels within each state demonstrates that the Guard/Reserve deployment burden really is an urban/suburban vs. rural divide. New York is a case study. Niagara County (Niagara Falls and Lockport) had a deployment rate of over 30 per 10,000, while Jefferson County (Watertown) and Clinton County (Plattsburgh) had rates over 25 per 10,000. In contrast, New York State overall had a Guard/Reserve deployment rate a bit higher than 10 per 10,000, with Kings County (Brooklyn) and New York County (Manhattan) having rates well below 10 per 10,000.

Most Americans are completely ignorant of the facts outlined above, or understand only partial truths about them. In fact, the majority view the military in general and the way we man the force in particular through a lens of fear, apathy, ignorance, and guilt. The media is unhelpful in this regard because in the main journalists and TV personalities are as unknowing as the people. Few in the military leadership have the courage to speak up about these realities, or are themselves so brainwashed that they are incapable of doing so. But if the country does not wake up soon and demand action, we will be looking at another crisis and asking the question posed by The Economist : "Who will fight the next war?"

Worse, we might be asking the question that Skin in the Game poses: "What if we had a war and nobody came?"

When we put that question to a U.S. senator recently, he replied that "If the enemy were 'on the shore,' Americans would respond."

"Would they?" we asked. "And tell us how you know that, please."

"They just would, I know they would," the senator replied.

There is yet another dimension to the AVF that is truly an "unmentionable." As President Barack Obama said to one of us in the Roosevelt Room in November 2015 -- referring to Washington, D.C. -- "There is a bias in this town toward war."

What the president meant was quite clear: powerful forces such as the military-industrial complex, a less-than-courageous Congress that has abandoned its constitutional duty with respect to the war power, extreme ideologies, and a nation with no skin in the game, work together to persuade all presidents to consider war as the first instrument of national power rather than the last.

Is there anyone among us who would not believe that having an all-volunteer (or, more to the point, an all-recruited) military coming only from the 1 percent does not contribute to the facility with which presidents call upon that instrument? In a rational world, we would be declared insane to believe otherwise.

Said more explicitly, if the sons and daughters of members of Congress, of the corporate leadership, of the billionaire class, of the Ivy Leagues, of the elite in general, were exposed to the possibility of combat, would we have less war? From a socio-economic class perspective, the AVF is inherently unfair.

Major General (Ret) Dennis Laich served 35 years in the U.S. Army Reserve. Col. (Ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson is visiting professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary. He was chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell from 2002-05, special assistant to Powell when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and deputy director and director of the USMC War College (1993-97).

KevinS , , October 15, 2017 at 11:16 pm

"From a socio-economic class perspective, the AVF is inherently unfair."

The same can be said of American society more generally, which is fast becoming a plutocracy.

b , , October 16, 2017 at 12:22 am
These topics are widely discussed within the military. Not in staff meetings mind you. But the civilians wouldn't realize it regardless. So what is to be done? Is there an organization we can join that will speak up and get lobbyists to have the concerns heard? This is our national defense and we all have an interest in knowing that we leave something better behind for the next generation. Otherwise all our efforts truly are in vain.
theMann , , October 16, 2017 at 2:48 am
"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Now, I, and maybe you, read the 13th amendment to the constitution as clearly banning conscription, but the courts don't think so. Their reasoning actually being, that since conscription was in place at the time of the 13th amendment's passage, the words written and printed couldn't possibly mean what they clearly mean as common English usage.

Well, leaving aside for the moment that every (so far at least) man who ever got drafted felt it was pretty effing involuntary, we can proceed to the greater question:

Why do we perpetually need a million men\women\hesheit qwerty's under arms? By all means, let us draft every 18 year old in the entire United States into our SJW Social Science\Daycare center joke of a military, it would at least be a far greater education than college. And having so infused our armed forces with so much fresh human material, we could spend EVEN MORE on Contracts, currently about 50% of the near trillion dollar war making budget.

Yea, that'll fix everything.

Zebesian , , October 16, 2017 at 4:25 am
I realize how unpopular this statement will be, but that 1 percent who are bleeding and dying are generally doing so in foreign wars that are not truly defending the 99 percent. They are doing it for the pro-war, pro-intervention subsets of various elite populations, popularly supported by misinformed people of the lower/middle classes.

Perhaps the shortage of volunteer soldiers indicates war-weariness? Less war would solve the problems of cost, volunteer shortages AND the burgeoning veteran population.

Chris Harris , , October 16, 2017 at 6:24 am
I served in six units during six years with the army military police. I can remember only one guy I knew whose father was a educated white collar professional (university professor).
mrscracker , , October 16, 2017 at 6:40 am
One of my children is about as far to the left as I am to the right politically,but we both agree that the draft should be brought back with a choice of military or community service. No exceptions made. Everyone serves at 18 for a year or two and can enlist longer if they choose to. Offers of college or vocational scholorships could apply.

We've had a couple or more generations of self centered, self absorbed young people who often become self destructive. They could benefit from the discipline, direction, and service to others.

Whine Merchant , , October 16, 2017 at 6:54 am
In the late 60s -- early 70s we used to chide Pat Buchanan and his mates with "War is good business -- invest your sons". Of course, even then, he was investing other people's sons. His good mate Trump has already bragged about his "contribution" to the war effort, dodging STIs rather than bullets.
William Murphy , , October 16, 2017 at 7:03 am
Wonderful article. The very serious concerns it raises were discussed some years ago by the philosopher Michael Sandel. He asked how can it be just for the wealthy to risk the lives of the children of the poor in an AVF when their own children are guaranteed far safer lifestyles.

From a British perspective, the same issues apply in an even more distorted form. In my two years working in Michigan (1998-2000), I met far more current and former servicemen than in the other 62 years of my life living in England. The British military is invisible to much of the middle and upper classes, except in emergencies, despite the fact that you are never far from a military base in such a small country.

At a recent dinner, I found myself, for the first time in my life, sitting at a table with three ex-British Army officers. I discussed the near-invisible profile of the Army. My very smart companion explained that for years Army personnel tried to avoid even wearing uniform in the street because of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Troubles ended, but now, since the beheading of a soldier in London by an Islamist nutter, the Army has gone back to civvies for off duty wear.

And the class division is as scandalous as the American class divisions which this excellent article describes. As at least one scathing observer commented, would Tony Blair have been so ready to go to war in Iraq if any one of his four children been liable for military service? And, of course, Blair and his political contemporaries were the first generation not to be involved in a shooting war or to be liable for National Service (abolished around 1960). The only place they would see the horrible face of war was in a movie theatre.

Reinstate National Service in the UK and USA? It might be as politically popular as sending little children up chimneys or could some courageous politician air a desperately important issue which might find unexpected support in a dangerous world?

Rup. G , , October 16, 2017 at 7:41 am
The only ethical course of action when faced with an insufficient number of volunteers for a war is, of course, to cancel the war.
Mike Ford , , October 16, 2017 at 7:49 am
Simple solution: Constitutional amendment stating, In order to vote in Federal Elections or to hold Federal office, appointed or elected, you must:

A) Proof of citizenship

B) Current year 1040 showing net positive Income Tax paid and finally,

C) a DD214 showing honorable discharge

Problem solved

J Harlan , , October 16, 2017 at 9:10 am
"That 1 percent is bleeding and dying for the other 99 percent."

They are not. Nothing the US Army does "protects America". On the contrary it's a bigger threat than anything it can protect the US from. They fight for combinations of cash, training, education, travel, to carry on the family tradition , travel and adventure. The people who send them to fight do so for power and ego. Not "national interests" There are none only the interests of people who want power.

Fred Bowman , , October 16, 2017 at 9:21 am
What the old saying about war "Rich man's game with the poor man paying the price." Definely bring the Draft back if for no other reason to make those in Power think long and hard about what military misadventures they're committing America's young men and women to. Imho America would have been out of these Middle East wars of choice long ago if the draft was still in effect as the American public would be demanding hard answers to "Why are we still there?"
David Walters , , October 16, 2017 at 9:28 am
I served. I was young and stupid and got a draft lottery number that gave me a 50 / 50 chance of being drafted into the Army. I joined the Marines, instead. 1973 -- 1979, active and reserve included.

Went on with my life afterwards. I never wanted and never want my kids to serve. The USA is not the place I thought it was when I did. Heck, it wasn't the place I thought it was even then.

John , , October 16, 2017 at 10:15 am
Leave aside the ethical and moral implications, because America has told the world over and over again that they don't matter. We will support the second-worst regimes in the world in their struggles with the worst regimes, we will bomb weddings full of innocents if it gets us the one man we want, and we do not care how many of our fellow citizens enrolled in the military jobs programs are killed or maimed.

Smedley Butler saw this happening in his time, too. The wars were smaller and less expensive, but they had the same root cause. Wherever our companies go and are thwarted by locals in any way, we find an excuse to deploy and make that area safe for commercial activity. Libya is a shambles now after Gaddafi's removal, but it's out of the news because organized, government-led resistance to oil companies benefiting from one-sided leases is impossible. This year, Libya hit a four-year high for oil production, in the middle of a six-cornered civil war.

The only way any of this changes is if the public sees military activity as a threat to benefits on which it depends, or if the price of fielding regular units to deal with these problems becomes so large that companies will have to employ mercenaries to achieve their ends abroad.

Stephen J. , , October 16, 2017 at 10:44 am
I believe it is time "our leaders" show what they are made of. Therefore I ask:

Should We Have War Games for the World's Leaders?

Yesterday's enemies are today's friends and today's friends are tomorrow's enemies, such is the way of the world, and wars of the world. All these wars cause enormous bloodshed, destruction and suffering to those affected. Therefore, would it not be much simpler to have war games for all of the world's leaders and elites every few years? We have Olympic Games every four years where the world's athletes from different countries compete. And many of these countries are hostile to each other, yet they participate in the Olympics. So if enemies can participate for sport, why not for war games? All the leaders and elites of the world would have to lead by example, instead of leading from their political platforms, palaces and offshore tax havens, while the ordinary people have to do the dirty work in wars. The world's leaders and elites would all be in the front lines first. A venue could be arranged in a deserted area and the people of the world could watch via satellite TV their courageous leaders and other elites leading the charge in the war games .

[read much more at link below] http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2009/03/should-we-have-war-games-for-worlds.html

Anna , , October 16, 2017 at 11:01 am
Okay, probably true as far as it goes, but aren't you ignoring an important issue? Say the U.S. re-established conscription to catch those elite kids -- what kind of military would you have? I suspect not one that would be an effective military in any sense.

I'm reminded of a conversation with a friend from Germany, who believed in his country's policy of universal service (that is, sort of universal -- they can do other volunteer work instead), but he readily admitted that he and his fellow-conscripts -- i.e., mostly spoiled children of the middle class -- were not real soldiers. He said it was totally normal in the barracks to hear 18 and 19-year-olds weeping on the phone to mama about how homesick they were, and that standards were very low for physical fitness and ability.

According to him, the real career soldiers saw the young conscripts as a completely useless drag on the military, that merely had to be endured for political reasons rather than for any actual military or strategic purposes.

Potato , , October 16, 2017 at 11:02 am
the draft should be brought back with a choice of military or community service. No exceptions made. Everyone serves at 18 for a year or two and can enlist longer if they choose to. Offers of college or vocational scholorships could apply.

I don't often agree with mrscracker, but this one is right on. Male and female, gay and straight, no exceptions but for people on life support. (There could be essential work available for all but the most severely disabled.)

For one thing I think this would bring the practice of getting involved in useless wars to a screeching halt. If the children of Congresspersons were in danger of being issued rifles and told to wade into a rice paddy or a desert to be shot at, the people in charge would suddenly be much more conservative about going to war.

James Korman , , October 16, 2017 at 11:18 am
Elimination of the draft is a stain, every adult mail should be available to serve his nation. This has been true throughout history.

[Oct 17, 2017] Empire's Workshop Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (American Empire Project) Greg Grandi

There is a danger for Ukraine to become "European El Salvador" or, worse, "European Iraq"
Notable quotes:
"... fter an opening chapter that makes the case for Latin America's role in the formation of the U.S. empire, the rest of this hook explores the importance of the region to the consolidation of what could be called a new, revolutionary imperialism. ..."
May 01, 2007 | www.amazon.com

After an opening chapter that makes the case for Latin America's role in the formation of the U.S. empire, the rest of this hook explores the importance of the region to the consolidation of what could be called a new, revolutionary imperialism.

Taken each on their own, the ideas, tactics, politics, and economics that have driven Bush's global policy are not original. An interventionist military posture, belief that America has a special role to play in world history, cynical realpolitik, vengeful nationalism, and free-market capitalism have all driven U.S.
diplomacy in one form or another for nearly two centuries. But whatis new is how potent these elements have become and how tightly they are bound to the ambitions of America's domestic ruling conservative coalition -- a coalition that despite its power and influence paints itself as persecuted, at odds not just with much of the world but with modern life itself. 6

The book goes on to explore the intellectual re-orientation or American diplomacy in the wake if Vietnam and the increasing willingness of militarists to champion human rights, nation building, and democratic reform. The third chapter considers how the rehabilitation of unconventional warfare doctrine in LI Salvador and Nicaragua by militarists in and around the Reagan White House laid the groundwork for today's offensive military posture. Here, the human costs of this resurgence of militarism will be addressed. In the many tributes that followed Reagan's death, pundits enjoyed repeating Margaret Thatcher's comment that Reagan won the Cold War "without firing a shot." The crescendo of carnage that overw helmed Central America in the 1980s not only gives the lie to such a legacy but highlights the inescapable violence of empire. The fourth chapter turns to the imperial home front, examining how r the Reagan administration first confronted and then began to solve the domestic crisis of authority generated by Vietnam and Watergate. It also argues that Reagan's Central American policy served as a crucible that forged the coalition that today stands behind George W. Bush. Chanter 5 is con cerned with the economics of empire, how the financial contraction of the 1970s provided an opportunity for the avatars of free-market orthodoxy -- the true core of the Bush Doctrine -- to join with other constituencies of the ascendant New Right, inaugurating first in Chile and then throughout Latin America a new, brutally competitive global economy.

The last chapter tallies the score of the new imperialism in Latin America. Celebrated by Bill Clinton, and now Bush, as a model of what the United States hopes to accomplish in the rest of the world, Latin America continues to be gripped by unrelenting poverty and periodic political instability, as the promise of living under a benevolent American imperialism has failed to materialize. As a result, new political movements and antagonists have emerged to contest the terms of
United States-promoted corporate globalization, calling for increased regional integration to offset the power of the United States and more social spending to alleviate Latin American inequality. With little to offer the region in terms of development except the increasingly hollow promises of free trade, Washington is responding to these and similar challenges by once again militarizing hemispheric relations, with all dissent now set in the crosshairs of the "global war on terror."

... ... ...

Over the last year, Washington has had some success in preventing leftists and nationalists from coming to power, in Peru, for instance, and in Mexico. But notwithstanding the outcome of specific votes, and despite the very real conflicts of interest among Latin American nations, the centrifugal forces pushing the region out of the U.S.'s orbit will continue.

What, then, will be Washington's long-term response to this independence movement? One could hope that the Democrats would seize the moment to assert their commitment to nonintervention and to work with economic nationalists to promote a fair and sustainable economic policy. Depending on the country, such a policy would include land reform, government regulation of foreign investment and currency speculation, more equitable contracts with multinationals, debt relief, increased spending on welfare, education, health care, and public works, and, in the U.S., a just immigration policy.

Don't count on it. Unlike after WWII, when a confident corporate class threw its backing behind New Deal political liberalism at home and at least some reform capitalism abroad, the financiers of today's Democratic Party are too deeply invested in war production and speculative capital and too intensely committed to keeping the third world open. They will not brook any sustained attempt to restructure the global economy in a more equitable direction. At the same time, the party's leadership -- unlike Republicans who are organically linked to their base -- is terrified of the antimilitarism of its rank-and-file. Thirty percent of the U.S. population opposed the war in Iraq even when it looked like a cakewalk, even as Dick Cheney and his cronies held a cocktail party to celebrate the PR-orchestrated toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad -- a significant minority that is much larger than anything the Goldwater insurgency and the Reagan Revolution started with.

But rather than building on this thirty percent, Democrats run away from it, with one after the other tripping over themselves to prove they are better equipped to fight the "war on terror'' than the Republicans. We may hope that the Democratic nominee in the 2008 election will challenge the ideology and the interests that
have capitalized on the problem of terrorism to launch a war for civilization. It's more likely we'll see him or her criticizing the way the "war" has been executed and demanding more of a say in how it is waged.

If there is change in American diplomacy, it will come from the citizens who mobilized to oppose the occupation of Iraq and who in 2006 gave back the Congress to the Democratic Party. But to truly break up the New Right, and not just temporarily slow it down, the reactive antimilitarism that so drives the neocons crazy will have to be converted into a forward-looking agenda, as cohesive and coherent as the one that led to the catastrophic war in Iraq. In this task, Latin America, long the workshop of U.S. elites, can provide a different kind of instruction.

Across the continent, political movements have emerged from decades of unrelenting state terror underwritten by imperial patronage to creatively and effectively oppose first corporate-driven neoliberalism and then a renewed U.S. militarism. Through exemplary courage, perseverance, and organizational skill, Latin American activists have provided a beacon of hope on an otherwise bleak global landscape. They have multiple agendas and objectives, yet they share a common set of values: human dignity, local autonomy, a vision of individual freedom rooted in collective solidarity, and a notion of democracy defined not simply by proceduralism or individual rights but by economic equity. It is they who are the world's true "democracy promoters" and who are fighting the real war on terror, and offering lessons to us all.

New York
December 2006

PABG, Somewhere in the world, on August 1, 2011

Unbelievable book

Have you ever wonder why the rest of America despises or doesn't trust the USA? Yes I wrote America so the people living in the USA will finally comprehend that America is a continent not a country, people please check your map!!! Well let me tell you why, is because the USA always interfere or sticks her big nose in the business of her American neighbors, just to name a few examples/ Guatemala 1954 and Chile 1973, and also a big part of the real problem is that the USA is not governed by the President, he or she is just a pawn or an employee of the big corporations, and the person in the Oval Office will do anything in his or her power to keep the big CEO's happy.

You want proof of this? Think about these recent events, 9\11, the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, the tax payer's money given to big corporations to cover the losses caused by their satanic greed and Guantanamo. Also I'm tired of hearing that illegal immigration has ruined the USA, let me tell you that if you keep your nose to your own business and leave the rest of America alone, you won't have a big immigration problem and just to keep in mind that the USA was built by immigrant hands. Please the USA has enough problems, public education, public health, a failed economic system and social disintegration just to mention a few, for the United States' Government to start thinking about building a global empire.

FYI I'm not a leftist or a USA hater, I like the USA and its people very much but I don't have affection for the neoconservatives and the capitalist pigs that think in big profits before their fellow human beings. Enough said, peace, live long and prosper. I'M PROUD OF BEING A REAL AMERICAN!!!!!

[Oct 17, 2017] Latin-Americanization of the xUSSR space is what essentially State Department tried to accomplish. They were successful in Ukraine. by Robert Parry

While the USA pursued their geopolitical goals in supporting the coup d'état against corrupt Yanukovich government by less corrupt western-Ukrainian nationalists (and a difficult clan on oligarch, as Yanukovich was a puppet of Donetsk oligarch clan) , this is actually disaster capitalism in action... There is very little Ukrainians can do now to improve their standard of living which dropped at least two times since 2014. Civil war remains a drain on economy and selling assets to western companies does not improve the standard fo living iether. For 20K grivna (less then $740 a month) you can hire top level specialist in Ukraine (regular salary is less then $150 a month). Economy is still supported by the housing boom, but we know how such things might end.
The neocons are now as important factor in America's foreign policy today as they were during the darkest days of the Bush administration. And like on old time the Ukrainian coup has all traces of globalist bankers allied with local compradors operating under fig leaf of Western-Ukrainian nationalism (which were simply puppets in a much bigger financial and geopolitical game). It is the same aggressive push by the United States to topple governments and politicians in Latin America to advance the USA geopolitical or economic interests.
See also Empire's Workshop Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism " Latin America once again became a school where the United States studied how to execute imperial violence through proxies. After World War II, in the name of containing Communism, the United States, mostly through the actions of local allies, executed or encouraged coups in, among other places, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina and patronized a brutal mercenary war in Nicaragua. Latin America became a laboratory tor counter-insurgency, as military officials and covert operators applied insights learned in the region to Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. By the end of the Cold War, Latin American security forces trained, funded, equipped, and incited by Washington had executed a reign of bloody terror - hundreds of thousands killed, an equal number tortured, millions driven into exile - from which the region has yet to fully recover."
Parry provides an interesting perspective on neoconservative intellectuals who now are driving the expansion of the US-led neoliberal empire into xUSSR space. In this sense Ukrainian nationalists serve as a proxies of an American imperialism which is driven by a combination of neoliberalism, Neoconservatism and the euphoria from the victory Cold War, of which Ukraine civil war is the tragic endgame.
Parry does not addresses the controversial role of Russia, which actually helped to start the Donbass civil war as initially Putin promised that the Ukraine territories who will vote "yes" in referendums to join Russia will be accepted to Russia but soon changed his mind. And later supplied arms to the insurgents.
Notable quotes:
"... Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... Many of the old intelligence operatives, including Casey and Raymond, are now dead, but other influential Washington figures who were deeply involved by these strategies remain, such as neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, whose first major job in Washington was as chief of Reagan's State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America. ..."
"... During the Reagan years, Kagan worked closely on propaganda schemes with Elliott Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. After getting convicted and then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal, Abrams reemerged on President George W. Bush's National Security Council handling Middle East issues, including the Iraq War, and later "global democracy strategy." Abrams is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. ..."
"... These and other neocons were among the most diligent students learning the art of "perception management" from the likes of Raymond and Casey, but those propaganda skills have spread much more widely as "public diplomacy" and "information warfare" have now become an integral part of every U.S. foreign policy initiative. ..."
"... The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond's NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year. ..."
"... Gershman and his NED played important behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Ukraine crisis by financing activists, journalists and other operatives who supported the coup against elected President Yanukovych. The NED-backed Freedom House also beat the propaganda drums. [See Consortiumnews.com's " A Shadow Foreign Policy. "] ..."
"... Two other Reagan-era veterans, Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, have both provided important intellectual support for continuing U.S. interventionism around the world. Earlier this year, Kagan's article for The New Republic, entitled " Superpowers Don't Get to Retire ," touched such a raw nerve with President Obama that he hosted Kagan at a White House lunch and crafted the presidential commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of Kagan's criticism of Obama's hesitancy to use military force. ..."
"... According to the Times article, the husband-and-wife team share both a common world view and professional ambitions, Nuland editing Kagan's articles and Kagan "not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house" a suggestion that Kagan's thinking at least may be informed by foreign policy secrets passed on by his wife. ..."
Dec 28, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia's supposed "aggression" in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today's humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet, many of these same U.S. foreign policy operatives outraged over Russia's limited intervention to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are demanding that President Obama launch an air war against the Syrian military as a "humanitarian" intervention there.

In other words, if the Russians act to shield ethnic Russians on their border who are being bombarded by a coup regime in Kiev that was installed with U.S. support, the Russians are the villains blamed for the thousands of civilian deaths, even though the vast majority of the casualties have been inflicted by the Kiev regime from indiscriminate bombing and from dispatching neo-Nazi militias to do the street fighting.

In Ukraine, the exigent circumstances don't matter, including the violent overthrow of the constitutionally elected president last February. It's all about white hats for the current Kiev regime and black hats for the ethnic Russians and especially for Putin.

... ... ...

For this project, Ronald Reagan's CIA Director William J. Casey sent his top propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to the National Security Council staff to manage the inter-agency task forces that would brainstorm and coordinate this "public diplomacy" strategy.

Many of the old intelligence operatives, including Casey and Raymond, are now dead, but other influential Washington figures who were deeply involved by these strategies remain, such as neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, whose first major job in Washington was as chief of Reagan's State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America.

Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, Kagan remains an expert in presenting foreign policy initiatives within the "good guy/bad guy" frames that he learned in the 1980s. He is also the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the overthrow of Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February amid a very effective U.S. propaganda strategy.

During the Reagan years, Kagan worked closely on propaganda schemes with Elliott Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. After getting convicted and then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal, Abrams reemerged on President George W. Bush's National Security Council handling Middle East issues, including the Iraq War, and later "global democracy strategy." Abrams is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

These and other neocons were among the most diligent students learning the art of "perception management" from the likes of Raymond and Casey, but those propaganda skills have spread much more widely as "public diplomacy" and "information warfare" have now become an integral part of every U.S. foreign policy initiative.

... ... ...

Though Reagan's creation of a domestic propaganda bureaucracy began more than three decades ago and Bush's vanquishing of the Vietnam Syndrome was more than two decades ago the legacy of those actions continue to reverberate today in how the perceptions of the American people are now routinely managed. That was true during last decade's Iraq War and this decade's conflicts in Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as the economic sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Indeed, while the older generation that pioneered these domestic propaganda techniques has passed from the scene, many of their protégés are still around along with some of the same organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond's NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year.

Gershman and his NED played important behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Ukraine crisis by financing activists, journalists and other operatives who supported the coup against elected President Yanukovych. The NED-backed Freedom House also beat the propaganda drums. [See Consortiumnews.com's " A Shadow Foreign Policy. "]

Two other Reagan-era veterans, Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, have both provided important intellectual support for continuing U.S. interventionism around the world. Earlier this year, Kagan's article for The New Republic, entitled " Superpowers Don't Get to Retire ," touched such a raw nerve with President Obama that he hosted Kagan at a White House lunch and crafted the presidential commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of Kagan's criticism of Obama's hesitancy to use military force.

A New York Times article about Kagan's influence over Obama reported that Kagan's wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, apparently had a hand in crafting the attack on her ostensible boss, President Obama.

According to the Times article, the husband-and-wife team share both a common world view and professional ambitions, Nuland editing Kagan's articles and Kagan "not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house" a suggestion that Kagan's thinking at least may be informed by foreign policy secrets passed on by his wife.

Though Nuland wouldn't comment specifically on Kagan's attack on President Obama, she indicated that she holds similar views. "But suffice to say," Nuland said, "that nothing goes out of the house that I don't think is worthy of his talents. Let's put it that way."

[Oct 16, 2017] President Trump Beats War Drums For Iran by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... Nearly every assertion in the president's speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has "fueled sectarian violence in Iraq," when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president's speech to mention. ..."
"... Unfortunately the American people are being neoconned into another war. Just as with the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq, the media builds up the fear and does the bidding of the warmongers without checking facts or applying the necessary skepticism to neocon claims. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.unz.com

President Trump has been notoriously inconsistent in his foreign policy. He campaigned on and won the presidency with promises to repair relations with Russia, pull out of no-win wars like Afghanistan, and end the failed US policy of nation-building overseas. Once in office he pursued policies exactly the opposite of what he campaigned on. Unfortunately Iran is one of the few areas where the president has been very consistent. And consistently wrong.

In the president's speech last week he expressed his view that Iran was not "living up to the spirit" of the 2015 nuclear agreement and that he would turn to Congress to apply new sanctions to Iran and to, he hopes, take the US out of the deal entirely.

Nearly every assertion in the president's speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has "fueled sectarian violence in Iraq," when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president's speech to mention.

How could he be so wrong on so many basic facts about Iran? Here's a clue: the media reports that his number one advisor on Iran is his Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Ambassador Haley is a "diplomat" who believes war is the best, first option rather than the last, worst option. She has no prior foreign policy experience, but her closest mentor is John Bolton – the neocon who lied us into the Iraq war. How do these people live with themselves when they look around at the death and destruction their policies have caused?

Unfortunately the American people are being neoconned into another war. Just as with the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq, the media builds up the fear and does the bidding of the warmongers without checking facts or applying the necessary skepticism to neocon claims.

Like most Americans, I do not endorse Iran's style of government. I prefer religion and the state to be separate and even though our liberties have been under attack by our government, I prefer our much freer system in the US. But I wonder how many Americans know that Iran has not attacked or "regime-changed" another country in its modern history. Iran's actions in Syria are at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government. And why won't President Trump tell us the truth about Iranian troops in Syria – that they are fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda, both of which are Sunni extremist groups that are Iran's (and our) mortal enemies?

How many Americans know that Iran is one of the few countries in the region that actually holds elections that are contested by candidates with very different philosophies? Do any Americans wonder why the Saudis are considered one of our greatest allies in the Middle East even though they hold no elections and have one of the world's worst human rights records?

Let's be clear here: President Trump did not just announce that he was "de-certifying" Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal. He announced that Iran was from now on going to be in the bullseye of the US military. Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?

Jim Christian , October 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm GMT

"Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?"

The die was cast the minute they ended the draft and mandatory service. What the hell does anyone in this country care about the next war? Maybe some realize it's a theft, a looting, but as long as it isn't THEIR blood being spilt, nothing goes nuclear, they don't care. Few outside our little venue here even understand, they think it's still Rah! Rah! And then, I suppose if I were in Congress, I might demand votes on these deals. Civilian control of the military, funding the wars, etc. Of course, if I pushed the point, they'd put a bullet in my HEAD . Just because. And headline me, my Mistress and my wife on the front page of the Post. Because NSA just KNOWS shit. Probably set me up with my Mistress to begin with so they'd have something on me, heh. This is the dilemma the Hill has on a personal level. We don't vote on wars, we gave em a blank check after 9/11 and that's that. Keeping it all going? That's all private. None-ya.

No one can talk about it, they just do it.

[Oct 15, 2017] The New McCarthyism by Michael Rivero

Notable quotes:
"... in actuality the US Government was concerned that Hollywood was no longer as blindly supportive of government policy as it had been only a few years earlier at the height of WW2. In particular, J. Edgar Hoover had long held the opinion that the entertainment industry should be the propaganda arm for the government in peace time as well as war. ..."
"... However, as WW2 had ended, the defense establishment had lobbied for the creation of a "Cold" war against the Soviet Union, a war not actually to be fought, but constantly to be prepared for at huge cost to the taxpayers. This cost was the visible manifestation of the "Military Industrial Complex" President Eisenhower referred to in his farewell address, and many in Hollywood openly wondered just why so much more money had to be thrown into the war machine during a time of peace, and more to the point, just why we were supposed to be so afraid of the communists. ..."
"... In later years, FBI informants became permanent fixtures at movie studios, and spied for the FBI. ..."
"... While Senator Joseph McCarthy grabbed headlines with his shouts of "Communist", Hoover set about his self-appointed task of purging Hollywood of any he viewed as "disloyal" to the United States, which meant anyone unwilling to make the movies they were told to make, when and how they were told to make them. ..."
"... Stars such as Larry Parks were destroyed because they refused to "name names" of other actors who were party members. Actor Philip Loeb committed suicide. Edward G. Robinson, never a communist, was put on a "grey list," and spent the rest of his life making B movies (except for his final role opposite Charlton Heston in "Soylent Green"). Sam Jaffe, formerly a well-known actor and Oscar winner in 1950 was registered on the black list because he refused to cooperate with the committee. He spent the next 6 years working as a math teacher and living at his sister's until he was able to return to films in 1957. ..."
"... Of course, what was really involved was money. War is good for business. Business had been great during WW2 and the newly created "Cold War" was just a way to keep business good. The Military Industrial Complex NEEDED Hollywood to demonize the Soviets. Otherwise, too many people were going to ask why we were being told to be so afraid of them, and few in the government had a really convincing answer for that question. So, in order to perpetuate the Cold War, those in Hollywood who might sympathize with the designated villains had to be removed; their ruined lives a small price to pay for unending access to the taxpayers' wallets. ..."
"... But the Soviet Union has gone out of business. The word "communist" doesn't carry the same psychological impact it used to, so the war hawk smear squad has come up with a new one, "Anti-Semite." Like "Communist", "Anti-Semite" is used to ruin the lives of people who have not actually done anything wrong other than to challenge the war profiteers. It is a new word for an old trick, and I am amazed that they are still playing the same old game, but I guess the FBI can always find some dumb-assed idiot to fall for it and do their dirty work of wrecking a career for them. ..."
"... Charles Lindbergh the famous aviator commented in a speech in Des Moines in 1941... ..."
"... Our theaters soon became filled with plays portraying the glory of war. Newsreels lost all semblance of objectivity. Newspapers and magazines began to lose advertising if they carried anti-war articles. A smear campaign was instituted against individuals who opposed intervention. The terms "fifth columnist," "traitor," "Nazi," "anti-Semitic" were thrown ceaselessly at any one who dared to suggest that it was not to the best interests of the United States to enter the war. Men lost their jobs if they were frankly anti-war. Many others dared no longer speak. ..."
"... If there is a difference today it is that the American people are better educated. No longer dependent on the state schools, or controlled media, the public understands the tactics used to silence those who speak out. As a result, those who speak out are more and more not only accorded the sympathetic ear that their message deserves, but the effects of the smearing are far less ruinous than in times past. ..."
"... While people like Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard (and to step out of entertainment, former President Jimmy Carter) will be remembered and honored for their courage, history will lump the smear artists together with Stalin's "Useful idiots", little more than no-talent opportunists for whom ratting out someone was the fastest path to advancement. ..."
Oct 15, 2017 | www.whatreallyhappened.com

Back in the year 1947, the House Select Committee began an investigation into the Motion Picture Industry. Ostensibly the goal was to ferret out communists working in the film industry. But in actuality the US Government was concerned that Hollywood was no longer as blindly supportive of government policy as it had been only a few years earlier at the height of WW2. In particular, J. Edgar Hoover had long held the opinion that the entertainment industry should be the propaganda arm for the government in peace time as well as war.

However, as WW2 had ended, the defense establishment had lobbied for the creation of a "Cold" war against the Soviet Union, a war not actually to be fought, but constantly to be prepared for at huge cost to the taxpayers. This cost was the visible manifestation of the "Military Industrial Complex" President Eisenhower referred to in his farewell address, and many in Hollywood openly wondered just why so much more money had to be thrown into the war machine during a time of peace, and more to the point, just why we were supposed to be so afraid of the communists.

Hoover's desire to remake Hollywood into a gigantic propaganda machine had started at the end of WW1 when Hoover tried to persuade Charlie Chaplin to cease making films that portrayed authority figures as oafish buffoons. Chaplin refused, laughed at Hoover. Years later, as head of the FBI, Hoover was instrumental in having Charlie Chaplin's citizenship revoked in retaliation.

Hoover's mania with Hollywood was a seldom reported but constant factor in show business. The 1959 film, "The FBI Story" starring Air Force General Jimmy Stewart was reportedly directed by Mervyn LeRoy, but in actuality J. Edgar Hoover was personally supervising the film (and briefly appears in it, shown only from the back) to make certain the "correct" image of the FBI was shown.

In later years, FBI informants became permanent fixtures at movie studios, and spied for the FBI. When Disney Studios made "That Darned Cat", a pre-production copy of the screenplay "somehow" made its way to the FBI, which promptly sent Disney a memo expressing concern at how the FBI was to be portrayed.

[That Darned Cat]Click for full sized page. [That Darned Cat]Click for full sized page.

Likewise, when Paramount Pictures produced, "Skidoo", starring Jackie Gleason, it featured a single scene in which Gleason's character is seen fleeing a building marked, "FBI" carrying a file cabinet on his back. That one single scene prompted the following four page memo.

[Skidoo page 1]Click for full sized page. [Skidoo page 2]Click for full sized page.
[Skidoo page 3]Click for full sized page. [Skidoo page 4]Click for full sized page.

Along with "nudging" the film studios to portray certain things certain ways, the FBI did not hesitate to wreck the careers of those people it felt posed a dangerous threat to the government's public image. During the height of the FBI's COINTELPRO program, the FBI destroyed the career of actress Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg was considered a threat to the US Government because of her public support for civil rights at a time when the Civil Rights movement was starting to point out the racial bias in the draft system that placed a disproportionate percentage of black kids on the front lines of Vietnam. Seberg was also a supporter of the Black Panthers in their pre-militant days when their agenda was breakfasts for the ghetto kids, local control of school curriculum, and ending the draft.

Jean Seberg, a well known actress in the 60s, became pregnant and the FBI sent out letters to the gossip columnists identifying the baby's father as a Black Panther, in order to cheapen Seberg's image. Keep in mind that the 60s was an era in which sexual relations between blacks and whites was still considered taboo by most Americans.

The scans below are of the official FBI letter from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. asking permission for the scam.

[Seberg Letter Page 1]letter requesting permission for the smearing of Jean Seberg.

[Seberg Letter Page 2]page two of request for permission to smear of Jean Seberg

The text of the letter:

"Bureau permission is requested to publicize the pregnancy of Jean Seberg, well-known movie actress by (name deleted) Black Panther (BPP) (deleted) by advising Hollywood "Gossip-Columnists" in the Los Angeles area of the situation. It is felt that the possible publication of Seberg's plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public.

" 'It is proposed that the following letter from a fictitious person be sent to local columnists:

"I was just thinking about you and remembered I still owe you a favor. So ---- I was in Paris last week and ran into Jean Seberg, who was heavy with baby. I thought she and Romaine [sic] had gotten together again, but she confided the child belonged to (deleted) of the Black Panthers, one (deleted). The dear girl is getting around!

" 'Anyway, I thought you might get a scoop on the others. Be good and I'll see you soon.

'Love,
" 'Sol.,

"Usual precautions would be taken by the Los Angeles Division to preclude identification of the Bureau as the source of the letter if approval is granted."

Permission to use the fake letter was granted, but with the suggestion that the smear be delayed until Jean Seberg's pregnancy was in a very obvious condition.

[Seberg Letter Page 1] letter granting permission for the smearing of Jean Seberg.

The story was then run by Los Angeles Times propagandist Joyce Haber.

[Seberg Letter Page 2]Click for full size picture of the Haber Article that launched the smear.

The story was picked up by Newsweek and the international press. The shock of the story was so severe that Jean Seberg suffered a miscarriage. The funeral for the child was held with an open casket, so that the lie stood revealed in its most tragic form. Jean Seberg, her baby dead and her career shattered by this outright lie, attempted suicide several times, finally succeeding in a French Hotel.

[Seberg Letter Page 1] memo that accompanied copy of the Haber story sent to FBI files.

(The name which was redacted from the memo during the FOIA process is thought by many to have been Raymond Hewit, a Black Panther leader. His "outright lie" was far more direct. The FBI typed up a letter on official FBI stationary identifying Hewit as an informant and planted it where other Black Panthers would find it in the hopes that Hewit would then be killed.)

Following Seberg's death, the Los Angeles Times, the key instrument of her torment, issued a statement by the FBI.

"The days when the FBI used derogatory information to combat advocates of unpopular causes have long since passed. We are out of that business forever."

The Senate committee that looked into COINTELPRO disagreed, however.

"Cointelpro activities may continue today under the rubric of 'investigation.'

Finally, no single celebrity filled the government with more fear than did ex-Beatle John Lennon. Lennon's popularity, and hence his ability to influence popular opinion, coupled with his strong anti-war stance, made him a real threat in the event the United States decided it had to go to war. For this reason, Lennon was one of the most watched celebrities, and according to Lennon's youngest son, the victim of a government assassination plot.

[Lennon 1]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 2]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 3]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 4]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 5]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 6]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 7]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 8]Click for full sized page.
[Lennon 9]Click for full sized page. [Lennon 10]Click for full sized page.

Having documented the FBI's willingness to destroy anyone they feel represents a threat to the government, let us return to the days of the House Select Committee on UnAmerican Activities.

While Senator Joseph McCarthy grabbed headlines with his shouts of "Communist", Hoover set about his self-appointed task of purging Hollywood of any he viewed as "disloyal" to the United States, which meant anyone unwilling to make the movies they were told to make, when and how they were told to make them. Senator McCarthy's screed of "Communist" provided Hoover with a bludgeon he could and did use with impunity on Hollywood's creative talents. Careers were ruined. Some 400 people, mostly innocent of any actual wrongdoing, were destroyed. Some, like Jean Seberg would later do, committed suicide. Ten men (the famous Hollywood Ten), Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Ring Lardner jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, and eminent director Edward Dmytryk were jailed for contempt of Congress.

Others punished for refusing to cooperate included Larry Adler, Stella Adler, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Joseph Bromberg, Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Copland, Hanns Eisler, Carl Foreman, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Dashiell Hammett, E. Y. Harburg, Lillian Hellman, Burl Ives, Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, Philip Loeb, Joseph Losey, Anne Revere, Pete Seeger, Gale Sondergaard, Louis Untermeyer, Josh White, Clifford Odets, Michael Wilson, Paul Jarrico, Jeff Corey, John Randolph, Canada Lee, Orson Welles, Paul Green, Sidney Kingsley, Paul Robeson, Richard Wright and Abraham Polonsky. Lee Grant was registered on the black list because she refused to give evidence against her husband Arnold Manoff.

Stars such as Larry Parks were destroyed because they refused to "name names" of other actors who were party members. Actor Philip Loeb committed suicide. Edward G. Robinson, never a communist, was put on a "grey list," and spent the rest of his life making B movies (except for his final role opposite Charlton Heston in "Soylent Green"). Sam Jaffe, formerly a well-known actor and Oscar winner in 1950 was registered on the black list because he refused to cooperate with the committee. He spent the next 6 years working as a math teacher and living at his sister's until he was able to return to films in 1957.

Of course, what was really involved was money. War is good for business. Business had been great during WW2 and the newly created "Cold War" was just a way to keep business good. The Military Industrial Complex NEEDED Hollywood to demonize the Soviets. Otherwise, too many people were going to ask why we were being told to be so afraid of them, and few in the government had a really convincing answer for that question. So, in order to perpetuate the Cold War, those in Hollywood who might sympathize with the designated villains had to be removed; their ruined lives a small price to pay for unending access to the taxpayers' wallets.

But that was then and this is now.

Once again vast sums of money are being spent on a war, this time a hot one and getting hotter. Once again parties with a vested interest are out to smear and destroy anyone who dares ask if the wars are worth the sacrifice of our young people (not to mention the money), indeed if there really is any point at all to the wars aside from justifying the flow of money to defense contractors.

But the Soviet Union has gone out of business. The word "communist" doesn't carry the same psychological impact it used to, so the war hawk smear squad has come up with a new one, "Anti-Semite." Like "Communist", "Anti-Semite" is used to ruin the lives of people who have not actually done anything wrong other than to challenge the war profiteers. It is a new word for an old trick, and I am amazed that they are still playing the same old game, but I guess the FBI can always find some dumb-assed idiot to fall for it and do their dirty work of wrecking a career for them.

Of course, it really isn't that new a word. Oddly enough, Charles Lindbergh the famous aviator commented in a speech in Des Moines in 1941...

Our theaters soon became filled with plays portraying the glory of war. Newsreels lost all semblance of objectivity. Newspapers and magazines began to lose advertising if they carried anti-war articles. A smear campaign was instituted against individuals who opposed intervention. The terms "fifth columnist," "traitor," "Nazi," "anti-Semitic" were thrown ceaselessly at any one who dared to suggest that it was not to the best interests of the United States to enter the war. Men lost their jobs if they were frankly anti-war. Many others dared no longer speak.

Today we are seeing once again the heavy hand of the war profiteers trying to reshape the film industry into a tool to propagandize the public into a high war-fever such that they will gladly trade their own blood for gold to line the pockets of the defense establishment. And those individuals who have the courage to speak out are attacked, and once again they are smeared to silence them. In the 1940s it was "Communist", today it is "Anti-Semite", but aside from the particular label used, the methods, goals, and morality are little changed from the days of Joseph McCarthy.

If there is a difference today it is that the American people are better educated. No longer dependent on the state schools, or controlled media, the public understands the tactics used to silence those who speak out. As a result, those who speak out are more and more not only accorded the sympathetic ear that their message deserves, but the effects of the smearing are far less ruinous than in times past.

Thus, when we see people like Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard speak out and survive, or when people like Tom Shadyac (or myself) voluntarily walk away from Hollywood because speaking the truth matters more to them, it sends a message that it is now permissible, indeed imperative to speak out. This is not to say that there are not risks. Rosie O'Donnell lost her spot on "The View", but the majority of Americans understand exactly why, and understand that Rosie sacrificed a great deal trying to get the truth out. Rosie is and will be remembered as a hero for truth long after her co-hosts on "The View" are properly forgotten.

In contrast, of course, we look back at those who aided the "Commie" witch-hunts of the 1940s with deserved contempt. No doubt many aided Hoover purely to rid themselves of competition, and then tried to lull themselves to sleep with the idea that in some way they had actually done something good for the nation by wrecking their neighbors' careers. I have no doubt strong liquor played a role in this grossest of self-deception. But if the informants and smear artists of the 1940s are remembered in a poor light, that should serve as a reminder to the informants and smear artists of today. It does not matter what you do with the rest of your life, aiding the new version of McCarthyism is how history will remember you. While people like Charlie Sheen, Willie Nelson, Sean Penn, and Marion Cotillard (and to step out of entertainment, former President Jimmy Carter) will be remembered and honored for their courage, history will lump the smear artists together with Stalin's "Useful idiots", little more than no-talent opportunists for whom ratting out someone was the fastest path to advancement.

They say that history repeats itself, and indeed that is the major thing wrong with history. We are seeing history repeat itself again. We have been down this path before, in the 1940s. Whether the word is "Communist" or "Anti-Semite", Hollywood is making the same mistake all over again. And Hollywood will have to live with that image in the coming decades.

[Oct 14, 2017] The Deep State's Bogus 'Iranian Threat' by David Stockman

Notable quotes:
"... The real answer, however, is both simple and consequential. To wit, the entire prosperity and modus operandi of the Imperial City is based on a panoply of "threats" that are vastly exaggerated or even purely invented; they retain their currency by virtue of endless repetition in the groupthink that passes for analysis. We'd actually put it in the category of cocktail party chatter. ..."
"... The truth is, the US defense budget is hideously oversized for a reason so obvious that it constitutes the ultimate elephant in the room. No matter how you slice it, there just are no real big industrialized, high tech countries in the world which can threaten the American homeland or even have the slightest intention of doing so. ..."
"... That gets us to the bogus Iranian threat. It originated in the early 1990s when the neocon's in the George HW Bush Administration realized that with the cold war's end, the Warfare State was in grave danger of massive demobilization like the US had done after every war until 1945. ..."
"... So among many other invented two-bit threats, the Iranian regime was demonized in order to keep the Imperial City in thrall to its purported national security threat and in support of the vast global armada of military forces, bases and occupations needed to contain it (including the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and US bases throughout the region). ..."
"... Likewise, what the Imperial City claims to be state sponsored terror is actually nothing more than Iran's foreign policy – something that every sovereign state on the planet is permitted to have. ..."
"... Thus, as the leader of the minority Shiite schism of the Islamic world, Iran has made political and confessional alliances with various Shiite regimes in the region. These include the one that Washington actually installed in Baghdad; the Alawite/Shiite regime in Syria; the largest political party and representative of 40 percent of the population in Lebanon (Hezbollah); and the Houthi/Shiite of Yemen, who historically occupied the northern parts of the country and are now under savage attack by American weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia. ..."
"... In the case of both Syria and Iraq, their respective governments invited Iranian help, which is also their prerogative as sovereign nations. Ironically, it was the Shiite Crescent alliance of Iran/Assad/Hezbollah that bears much of the credit for defeating ISIS on the ground in Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and elsewhere in the now largely defunct Islamic State. ..."
Oct 14, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

... ... ...

He was right. Russia today is a shadow of what Ronald Reagan called the Evil Empire. Its GDP of $1.3 trillion is smaller than that of the New York metro area ($1.6 trillion) and only 7 percent of total US GDP.

Moreover, unlike the militarized Soviet economy which devoted upwards of 40 percent of output to defense, the current Russian defense budget of $60 billion is just 4.5 percent of its vastly shrunken GDP.

So how in the world did the national security apparatus convince the Donald that we need the $700 billion defense program for FY 2018 – 12X bigger than Russia's – that he just signed into law?

What we mean, of course, is how do you explain that – beyond the fact that the Donald knows virtually nothing about national security policy and history; and, to boot, is surrounded by generals who have spent a lifetime scouring the earth for enemies and threats to repel and reasons for more weapons and bigger forces.

The real answer, however, is both simple and consequential. To wit, the entire prosperity and modus operandi of the Imperial City is based on a panoply of "threats" that are vastly exaggerated or even purely invented; they retain their currency by virtue of endless repetition in the groupthink that passes for analysis. We'd actually put it in the category of cocktail party chatter.

... ... ...

The truth is, the US defense budget is hideously oversized for a reason so obvious that it constitutes the ultimate elephant in the room. No matter how you slice it, there just are no real big industrialized, high tech countries in the world which can threaten the American homeland or even have the slightest intention of doing so.

Indeed, to continue with our historical benchmarks, the American homeland has not been so immune to foreign military threat since WW II. Yet during all those years of true peril, it never spent close too the Donald's $700 billion boondoggle.

For instance, during the height of LBJs Vietnam folly (1968) defense spending in today's dollars was about $400 billion. And even at the top of Reagan's utterly unnecessary military building up (by the 1980s the Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of its own socialist dystopia), total US defense spending was just $550 billion.

That gets us to the bogus Iranian threat. It originated in the early 1990s when the neocon's in the George HW Bush Administration realized that with the cold war's end, the Warfare State was in grave danger of massive demobilization like the US had done after every war until 1945.

So among many other invented two-bit threats, the Iranian regime was demonized in order to keep the Imperial City in thrall to its purported national security threat and in support of the vast global armada of military forces, bases and occupations needed to contain it (including the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and US bases throughout the region).

The truth, however, is that according to the 2008 NIE ( National Intelligence Estimates) of the nation's 17 intelligence agency, the Iranian's never had a serious nuclear weapons program, and the small research effort that they did have was disbanded by orders of the Ayatollah Khamenei in 2003.

Likewise, what the Imperial City claims to be state sponsored terror is actually nothing more than Iran's foreign policy – something that every sovereign state on the planet is permitted to have.

Thus, as the leader of the minority Shiite schism of the Islamic world, Iran has made political and confessional alliances with various Shiite regimes in the region. These include the one that Washington actually installed in Baghdad; the Alawite/Shiite regime in Syria; the largest political party and representative of 40 percent of the population in Lebanon (Hezbollah); and the Houthi/Shiite of Yemen, who historically occupied the northern parts of the country and are now under savage attack by American weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia.

In the case of both Syria and Iraq, their respective governments invited Iranian help, which is also their prerogative as sovereign nations. Ironically, it was the Shiite Crescent alliance of Iran/Assad/Hezbollah that bears much of the credit for defeating ISIS on the ground in Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and elsewhere in the now largely defunct Islamic State.

In tomorrow's installment we will address the details of the Iran nuke agreement and why the Donald is making a horrible mistake in proposing to decertify it. But there should be no doubt about the consequence: It will reinforce the neocon dominance of the Republican party and insure that the nation's $1 trillion Warfare State remains fully entrenched.

Needless to say, that will also insure that the America's gathering fiscal crisis will turn into an outright Fiscal Calamity in the years just ahead.

David Stockman has agreed to send every Antiwar.com reader a free copy of his newest book, Trumped! when you take his special Contra Corner offer. Click here now for the details.

David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He's the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed , The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin And How to Bring It Back . He also is founder of David Stockman's Contra Corner and David Stockman's Bubble Finance Trader .

Read more by David Stockman

[Oct 11, 2017] The Myths of Interventionists by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... There are dangers and threats in the world, but all of the threats from state actors are manageable and deterrable without spending more on the military, and these threats are much less severe than anything the U.S. faced between the 1940s and the end of the Cold War. The U.S. can and should get by safely with a much lower level of military spending, and our government should also adopt a strategy of restraint that keeps us out of unnecessary wars. ..."
"... The Iraq war is just the most obvious example of how the U.S. forcibly intervenes in other parts of the world over the objections of allies, in flagrant disregard for international law, and with no thought for the destabilizing effects that military action will have on the surrounding region. ..."
"... It would be much more accurate to say that the U.S. intervenes often in the affairs of weaker countries because it can, because our leaders leaders want to, and because there is usually no other power willing or able to stop it from happening. Exorbitant military spending far beyond what is needed to provide for our defense makes it possible to take military action on a regular basis, and the constant inflation of foreign threats makes a large part of the public believe that our government's frequent use of force overseas has something to do with self-defense. This frenetic meddling in the affairs of other nations hasn't made and won't make America any safer, it makes far more enemies than it eliminates, and it imposes significant fiscal and human costs on our country and the countries where our government interferes. ..."
"... At least Churchill had a focus. Neocons claim that any country that doesn't yield to our every desire is an existential threat. One article says, 'Iran', another 'China', yet another 'Russia' or 'N. Korea'. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Dakota Wood makes the usual alarmist case for throwing more money at the military. This passage stood out for how wrong it is:

Churchill repeatedly warned his countrymen of the dangers of complacency, misguided priorities, and weakness of will, of the foolishness to see the world and major competitors as being anything other than what they truly are. While praising the virtues and spirit of moderation that defined the English-speaking peoples of his day, he also urged them to recognize the necessity of having the courage to take timely action when dangers threatened and clearly visible trends in an eroding ability to provide for their common defense were leading toward disaster.

A similar state of affairs afflicts the United States today. To the extent America intervenes in the affairs of others, it is because the United States has been attacked first, an ally is in dire need of assistance, or an enemy threatens broader regional stability [bold mine-DL].

Over ten years ago, Rick Santorum talked incessantly about "the gathering storm" in a very conscious echo of Churchill, and subsequent events have proven his alarmism to have been just as unfounded and ridiculous as it seemed to be at the time. Hawks are often eager to invoke the 1930s to try to scare their audience into accepting more aggressive policies and more military spending than our security actually requires. Some of this may come from believing their own propaganda about the threats that they exaggerate, and some of it may just be a reflex, but as analysis of the contemporary scene it is always wrong. There are dangers and threats in the world, but all of the threats from state actors are manageable and deterrable without spending more on the military, and these threats are much less severe than anything the U.S. faced between the 1940s and the end of the Cold War. The U.S. can and should get by safely with a much lower level of military spending, and our government should also adopt a strategy of restraint that keeps us out of unnecessary wars.

Churchill-quoting alarmists aren't just bad at assessing the scale and nature of foreign threats, but they are usually also oblivious to the shoddy justifications for intervening and the damage that our interventionist policies do. The section quoted above reflects an almost touchingly naive belief that U.S. interventions are always justified and never cause more harm than they prevent. Very few U.S. interventions over the last thirty years fit the description Wood gives. The only time that the U.S. has intervened militarily abroad in response to an attack during this period was in Afghanistan as part of the immediate response to the 9/11 attacks. Every other intervention has been a choice to attack another country or to take sides in an ongoing conflict, and these interventions have usually had nothing to do with coming to the defense of an ally or preventing regional instability. Our interference in the affairs of others is often illegal under both domestic and/or international law (e.g., Kosovo, Libya, Iraq), it is very rarely related to U.S. or allied security, and it tends to cause a great deal of harm to the country and the surrounding region that are supposedly being "helped" by our government's actions.

The Iraq war is just the most obvious example of how the U.S. forcibly intervenes in other parts of the world over the objections of allies, in flagrant disregard for international law, and with no thought for the destabilizing effects that military action will have on the surrounding region. The U.S. didn't invade Panama in 1989 to help an ally or because we were attacked, but simply to topple the government there. Intervention in Haiti in 1994 didn't come in response to an attack or to assist an ally, but because Washington wanted to restore a deposed leader. Bombing Yugoslavia in 1999 was an attack on a country that posed no threat to us or our allies. The Libyan war was a war for regime change and a war of choice. A few allies did urge the U.S. to intervene in Libya, but not because they were in "dire need of assistance." The only thing that Britain and France needed in 2011 was the means to launch an attack on another country whose government posed no threat to them. Meddling in Syria since at least 2012 had nothing to do with defending the U.S. and our allies. Wood's description certainly doesn't apply to our support for the shameful Saudi-led war on Yemen, as the U.S. chose to take part in an attack on another country so that our despotic clients could be "reassured."

It would be much more accurate to say that the U.S. intervenes often in the affairs of weaker countries because it can, because our leaders leaders want to, and because there is usually no other power willing or able to stop it from happening. Exorbitant military spending far beyond what is needed to provide for our defense makes it possible to take military action on a regular basis, and the constant inflation of foreign threats makes a large part of the public believe that our government's frequent use of force overseas has something to do with self-defense. This frenetic meddling in the affairs of other nations hasn't made and won't make America any safer, it makes far more enemies than it eliminates, and it imposes significant fiscal and human costs on our country and the countries where our government interferes.

Posted in foreign policy , politics .

Tagged Syria , Rick Santorum , Yemen , Iraq war , Panama , Libyan war , Saudi Arabia , Haiti , Winston Churchill , Dakota Wood .

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Christian Chuba , says: October 11, 2017 at 4:22 pm

'The gathering storm' I read that and I was dying to know which storm he was referring too.

At least Churchill had a focus. Neocons claim that any country that doesn't yield to our every desire is an existential threat. One article says, 'Iran', another 'China', yet another 'Russia' or 'N. Korea'.

It's surprising how low on the list N. Korea typically ranks as the hawks try to turn attention quickly back to Iran. 'Iran is funding and developing their nuclear program, Iran is going to buy their nuclear weapons'. At least in the case of N. Korea we do have a country that obviously does possess WMD and is developing ICBM's and is likely to sell them in the future (even to our best friends the Saudis).

[Oct 11, 2017] The Perils of Arming Ukraine by Daniel Larison

Oct 11, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Rajan Menon and Will Ruger elaborate on why arming Ukraine would be an extremely foolish thing for the U.S. to do:

The proposition that Putin won't be provoked by a U.S. decision to send lethal arms to Ukraine amounts to a hunch. It's not supported by evidence, and Putin's past behavior contradicts it. This is not a minor point: if he does ramp up the war and the Ukrainian army is forced into retreat, the United States will face three bad choices.

First, Washington could pour even more arms into Ukraine in hopes of concentrating Putin's mind; but he can easily provide additional firepower to the Donbas insurgents. Second, it could deepen its military involvement by sending American military advisers, or even troops, to the frontline to bolster the Ukrainian army; but then Russia could call America's bluff. Third, the United States could decide not to respond to Russia's escalation given the geographical disadvantage and the limited strategic interests at stake. That would amount to backing down, abandoning Ukraine, and shredding the oft-repeated argument that American and European security hinges on the outcome of the Donbas war.

As hawks often do, advocates of arming Ukraine minimize the potential risks of their proposal while exaggerating the benefits that it will produce. On the one hand, they insist that they are "merely" calling for the U.S. to help Ukraine defend itself (they are actually calling for enabling Ukraine's government to go on the offensive), but at the same time they believe that in doing so they will "raise the costs" for Russia to such an extent that it will significantly alter Russian behavior in and towards Ukraine. If the policy is as likely to change Moscow's behavior as they say, it can't be as low-risk as they claim, but if it doesn't pose a serious risk it is probably going to have no positive effects at all. In the worst case, arming Ukraine sets them up for a disastrous defeat that the U.S. will have helped to enable.

The other flaw in the pro-arming case is that advocates of sending weapons to the Ukrainian government simply dismiss the negative consequences that are very likely to follow. They assume that the Russian government has a low tolerance for casualties, but they conveniently forget that it was Russian casualties in Tskhinvali that served as part of the rallying cry for the invasion of Georgia in the August 2008 war. The same people that called for pulling Ukraine out of Moscow's orbit in 2014 didn't anticipate the Russian response to Yanukovych's overthrow, but they still think that Moscow will be more inclined to back down now when faced with new provocations. Western hawkish analysts and pundits have consistently underestimated how far Moscow will go in this conflict, so why should their assurances be trusted now? We should have learned over the last decade that Moscow is much more likely to respond forcefully to provocative Western actions than most of us have assumed, and that means that the U.S. should approach this conflict with greater caution instead of increased recklessness.

Menon and Ruger make another important point that tends to get lost in the debate on this question:

The case for arming Ukraine also tends to be made in a vacuum, never mind that what the United States does in Ukraine could determine what Russia does elsewhere. Moscow could respond by putting more pressure on the Baltics, acting as a spoiler in North Korea or Iran, or even arming the Taliban (that would be an ironic turn: in the 1980s, the United States bled the Soviets by arming the Afghan mujahideen). If these outcomes seem impossible, consider the United States' awful record in foreseeing the effects of its military moves [bold mine-DL].

The explicit purpose of sending arms to Ukraine is to give their government the means to kill more Russians and Russian proxies. This may be dressed up in euphemisms by advocates (e.g., "raising costs," "making them pay a price"), but that is what they expressly hope to achieve with this policy. If our positions were reversed, our government would not respond to the deaths of our soldiers and proxies by yielding to the preferences of the government that provided the weapons that killed them. On the contrary, our government would intensify its support for whatever policy that government was trying to thwart. It would be foolish to assume that the Russian government would respond differently. We should assume that they would respond both directly in Ukraine by increasing their support for separatists and indirectly by aiding our enemies in other wars. This last part was the point that analyst Michael Kofman made in a report from August:

Russia's response to scattering Javelins among Ukrainian ground forces should factor into the decision, Kofman said.

"The Russians have a very clear policy of reciprocity, as we saw in the recent diplomatic purge. They see this as a premise of the U.S. wanting to kill Russians," Kofman said.

"The answer to this won't come in Ukraine."

[Oct 10, 2017] How to Turn Battleground Ukraine Into a Success Story

Notable quotes:
"... The US on the other hand is very keen on keeping control over its newest vassal, since, to quote Brzezinski's grand chess board, "without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire" . ..."
Oct 10, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Pifer's narrative suggests that Putin's proposal concerning peace in Donbass is not serious so long as it does not comply with the deployment scheme suggested by the West. This statement is also quite erroneous. Putin's proposal is serious. The president of Russia does want peace . But his rules imply the conservation of non-bloc status of Ukraine.

Additionally, the rules mandate that Ukraine cease its attempts to discredit Russia-Europe energy cooperation vis-à-vis Nord Stream II, bring the "Crimean question" to a close, remove sanctions, and, presumably, pay special attention and respect to the rights of the Russian-speaking community in Ukraine.

PERICLES--- , October 9, 2017 10:36 PM

No offense is intended to the authors of this article, but it wasn't hard to tell they were Russian even just judging on the contents of the proposal. The entire point of any sort of DMZ in Ukraine is to make static potentially temporary Russian gains in a fluid battleground. This hypothetical DMZ would essentially be a third-party Maginot Line for Russia. Russia has stolen a comfy little buffer zone and would like to see that maintained. That's why the US would undoubtedly veto this.

Alternatively, the US could call Putin's bluff and use armored units and heavy bombers to retake Donbas for the Ukrainians, but pointedly stop short of Crimea. Russia maintains un-plausible deniability in the Donbas, so Putin would be able to save a least a little face. Crimea is claimed as full Russian territory, Putin would be politically unable to stop war from occurring if it was retaken by Ukrainian forces. After this a full withdrawal of US forces would be advisable so as not to trigger Russian fears of encirclement. Ukraine could be a neutral- but sovereign- nation. It could do more as a positive example to potential Russian dissidents than it ever could as a NATO member. A full-blown conflict with NATO would mean Putin's fall from power, and so it is very much in his interests to avoid it. We are operating from a position of strength, let's take advantage of it.

Andrey Kuleshov -> PERICLES--- , October 9, 2017 10:58 PM

"Alternatively, the US could call Putin's bluff and use armored units and heavy bombers to retake Donbas for the Ukrainians"..."

Wet dreams

0x7be -> PERICLES--- , October 10, 2017 4:03 PM

Somewhy US doesn't want to operate from "position of strength". May be because there is no position of strength...

Midnight -> PERICLES--- , October 10, 2017 10:21 AM

Lesson of geopolitics from redneck?

PERICLES--- -> Midnight , October 10, 2017 3:51 PM

I'm a Northerner.

Sascha Gruss -> Midnight , October 10, 2017 3:21 PM

The west will act tough and send more Ukrainians to die.

Midnight -> Sascha Gruss , October 10, 2017 3:33 PM

In Russia there is such a sad joke - the Americans will fight with Russia until the last Ukrainian ((

Sascha Gruss -> Midnight , October 10, 2017 4:39 PM

It should be the US will fight Russia until the last european dies.

Fake News Russian Troll , October 10, 2017 5:44 AM

Ukraine and the West have no interest in ending the war. This is why Minsk 2 failed, this is why the peace keeper proposal is bound to fail. Putins proposal is the separation of the opposing forces.

Again: Ukraine has no interest in it. It didn't adhere to it after Minsk, instead using it to occupy territory vacated by Donbass militias adhering to the peace agreement. The Western proposal is a complete occupation of the Donbass.

The peace troops would not be impartial, instead they want them to be posed by the West. It basically is the demand to hand everything over. A demand with no correlation to the political or military situation on the ground.

And handing over the control of the borders would not merely stop the weapons flow into Ukraine (something the Donbass never depended on, since some of the worlds largest weapons storages in the world were located right there and they've got them in abundance), but would surely be abused to stop any crossings and any trade across this border whatsoever.

Ukraine is blocking almost all trade between the Donbass and the rest of the country. They don't want them to trade with anyone else. They simply want to starve them out.

And finally: The worst thing that could happen to the regime in Kiev and its Western backers would be peace. Peace would force them to give up on blaming every fault on everyone else. Peace would make the Ukrainians wonder what has happened to their country since their coup. Peace would make them wonder what has happened to their economy since. Peace would make them wonder what had happened to the tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who simply "disappeared" since the government tried to keep the already colossal losses down and the cost of paying annuities to their relatives.

Russia has no interest in this war. It knows that the economic future of Ukraine depends on Russia, and therefore has ample means to influence its neighbour.

The US on the other hand is very keen on keeping control over its newest vassal, since, to quote Brzezinski's grand chess board, "without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire" .

TotalBS -> Fake News Russian Troll , October 10, 2017 12:39 PM

Amen.

bakbaklazhan , October 10, 2017 4:26 PM

"To vanquish strategically, one often needs to take a tactical step back. "

in this phrase the authors are coming clear with regards to their goal of genociding russian speaking population of the eastern Ukraine and sucking "the Ukraine" into NATO...

[Oct 10, 2017] Before Maidan Ukraine's external debt was 142 billion dollars, now, as of July 1, 2017, it is less than 115 billion. The country's GDP for 3 years fell exactly 2 times: it was 183 billion dollars, became 93 billion

Oct 10, 2017 | fish12a.livejournal.com

...The data were officially published on the website of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine. http://index.minfin.com.ua/index/debt/

Before the revolution, Ukraine's external debt was more than now: 142 billion dollars. Now, as of July 1, 2017 it is slightly less than 114 billion. How this can happen during civil war it is not very clear...

But the country's GDP in three years fell exactly two times. That's what typically happens during civil war. It was 183 billion dollars, and now became 93 billion. That means $2186 per capita in 2016 year... With the average salary around $150 a month and the average pension less then $80 a month.


[Oct 02, 2017] the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens 'Double standard hypocrisy' Serbian president on EU denouncement of Catalan refere

Oct 02, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

'Double standard & hypocrisy': Serbian president on EU denouncement of Catalan referendum Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the EU of hypocrisy and double-standards following its denouncement of the Catalonian referendum as illegal, while acknowledging the independence of the breakaway province of Kosovo.
" The question every citizen of Serbia has for the European Union today is: How come that in the case of Catalonia the referendum on independence is not valid, while in the case of Kosovo secession is allowed even without a referendum, " B92 quoted Vucic as saying during a news conference.
" How did you proclaim the secession of Kosovo to be legal, even without a referendum, and how did 22 European Union countries legalize this secession, while destroying European law and the foundations of European law, on which the European policy and EU policy are based? "
On Monday the European Commission echoed the Spanish government's stance that the referendum held in Catalonia was illegal, describing the events on Sunday, which saw voters being beaten by Spanish riot police, as an "internal matter". By contrast in 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging its member states to recognize Kosovo's independence.
" This is the best example of the double standards and hypocrisy of the world politics, " Vucic said.

[Oct 01, 2017] The key role of IMF and World bank in enforcement of neoliberalism globally. Neoliberals throwing out all the Keynesians in those institutions and replaced them with neoclassical supply-side theorists who subscribed to the theory of "structural adjustment" which is the essence of disaster capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... They were replaced by neoclassical supply-side theorists and the first thing they did was decide that from then on the IMF should follow a policy of structural adjustment whenever there's a crisis anywhere. ..."
"... In 1982, sure enough, there was a debt crisis in Mexico. The IMF said, "We'll save you." Actually, what they were doing was saving the New York investment banks and implementing a politics of austerity. ..."
"... The population of Mexico suffered something like a 25 percent loss of its standard of living in the four years after 1982 as a result of the structural adjustment politics of the IMF. ..."
"... What are they doing to Greece now ? It's almost a copy of what they did to Mexico back in 1982, only more savvy. This is also what happened in the United States in 2007–8. They bailed out the banks and made the people pay through a politics of austerity. ..."
Oct 01, 2017 | www.jacobinmag.com

BSR There have been numerous crises since 2007. How does the history and concept of neoliberalism help us understand them? DH There were very few crises between 1945 and 1973; there were some serious moments but no major crises. The turn to neoliberal politics occurred in the midst of a crisis in the 1970s , and the whole system has been a series of crises ever since. And of course crises produce the conditions of future crises.

In 1982–85 there was a debt crisis in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and basically all the developing countries including Poland. In 1987–88 there was a big crisis in US savings and loan institutions. There was a wide crisis in Sweden in 1990, and all the banks had to be nationalized .

Then of course we have Indonesia and Southeast Asia in 1997–98, then the crisis moves to Russia, then to Brazil, and it hits Argentina in 2001–2.

And there were problems in the United States in 2001 which they got through by taking money out of the stock market and pouring it into the housing market. In 2007–8 the US housing market imploded, so you got a crisis here.

You can look at a map of the world and watch the crisis tendencies move around. Thinking about neoliberalism is helpful to understanding these tendencies.

One of big moves of neoliberalization was throwing out all the Keynesians from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 1982 -- a total clean-out of all the economic advisers who held Keynesian views .

They were replaced by neoclassical supply-side theorists and the first thing they did was decide that from then on the IMF should follow a policy of structural adjustment whenever there's a crisis anywhere.

In 1982, sure enough, there was a debt crisis in Mexico. The IMF said, "We'll save you." Actually, what they were doing was saving the New York investment banks and implementing a politics of austerity.

The population of Mexico suffered something like a 25 percent loss of its standard of living in the four years after 1982 as a result of the structural adjustment politics of the IMF.

Since then Mexico has had about four structural adjustments. Many other countries have had more than one. This became standard practice.

What are they doing to Greece now ? It's almost a copy of what they did to Mexico back in 1982, only more savvy. This is also what happened in the United States in 2007–8. They bailed out the banks and made the people pay through a politics of austerity. BSR Is there anything about the recent crises and the ways in which they have been managed by the ruling classes that have made you rethink your theory of neoliberalism? DH Well, I don't think capitalist class solidarity today is what it was. Geopolitically, the United States is not in a position to call the shots globally as it was in the 1970s.

I think we're seeing a regionalization of global power structures within the state system -- regional hegemons like Germany in Europe, Brazil in Latin America, China in East Asia.

Obviously, the United States still has a global position, but times have changed. Obama can go to the G20 and say, "We should do this," and Angela Merkel can say, "We're not doing that." That would not have happened in the 1970s.

So the geopolitical situation has become more regionalized, there's more autonomy. I think that's partly a result of the end of the Cold War. Countries like Germany no longer rely on the United States for protection.

Furthermore, what has been called the "new capitalist class" of Bill Gates , Amazon , and Silicon Valley has a different politics than traditional oil and energy.

As a result they tend to go their own particular ways, so there's a lot of sectional rivalry between, say, energy and finance, and energy and the Silicon Valley crowd, and so on. There are serious divisions that are evident on something like climate change, for example.

The other thing I think is crucial is that the neoliberal push of the 1970s didn't pass without strong resistance. There was massive resistance from labor, from communist parties in Europe, and so on.

But I would say that by the end of the 1980s the battle was lost. So to the degree that resistance has disappeared, labor doesn't have the power it once had, solidarity among the ruling class is no longer necessary for it to work.

It doesn't have to get together and do something about struggle from below because there is no threat anymore. The ruling class is doing extremely well so it doesn't really have to change anything.

Yet while the capitalist class is doing very well, capitalism is doing rather badly. Profit rates have recovered but reinvestment rates are appallingly low, so a lot of money is not circulating back into production and is flowing into land-grabs and asset-procurement instead.

[Sep 27, 2017] Come You Masters of War by Matthew Harwood

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Middle East was now a U.S. military priority, and the pursuit of direct American domination of the region came from none other than the supposed peacenik, Jimmy Carter. ..."
"... The result was the Carter Doctrine. Delivered to the American people during the 1980 State of Union Address, Carter started Americas War for the Greater Middle East. ..."
"... he declared Americas right to cheap energy. Let our position be absolutely clear, he said. An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. ..."
"... Analyzing the Carter Doctrine, Bacevich writes that it represented a broad, open-ended commitment, one that expanded further with time -- one that implied the conversion of the Persian Gulf into an informal American protectorate. Defending the region meant policing it. And police it America has done, wrapping its naked self-interest in the seemingly noble cloth of democratization and human rights. ..."
"... They didnt see that the U.S.-armed Afghan mujahideen also believed they were the victors and that they had every intention of resisting Americas version of modernity as much as they had resisted the Soviet Unions. (Americas self-destructive trend of arming its eventual enemies -- either directly or indirectly from Saddam Hussein to ISIS, respectively -- is a recurring theme of Bacevichs narrative.) ..."
"... History cannot be controlled, and it had its revenge on a U.S. military and political elite who somehow believed they could see the future and manage historical forces toward a predestined end that naturally benefitted America. As Reinhold Niebuhr warned, and Bacevich quotes approvingly, The recalcitrant forces in the historical drama have a power and persistence beyond our reckoning. ..."
"... Another piece of connective tissue, according to Bacevich, is the belief that war is not the failure of diplomacy but a necessary ingredient to its success. The U.S. military establishment learned this lesson in Bosnia when U.S.-led NATO bombing brought Serbia to the negotiating table at the Dayton Peace Accords. The proper role of armed force, writes Bacevich, was not to supplant diplomacy but to make it work. Gen. Wesley Clark was more succinct when he called war coercive diplomacy during the Kosovo conflict. U.S. military force was no longer a last resort, particularly when technology was making it easier to unleash violence without endangering U.S. service members lives. ..."
"... The people on the ground, as the D.C. elites just learned in November, have a way of not going along with the best-laid plans made for them in the epicenters of power. ..."
"... Without any unifying aim or idea, according to Bacevich, the Obama administrations principal contribution to Americas War for the Greater Middle East was to expand its fronts. ..."
"... As Bacevich clearly shows over and over again in his narrative, the men and women who make up the defense establishment have a fanatical, almost theological, belief in the transformational power of American violence. ..."
"... Expect Uncle Sams fangs to grow longer, his talons sharper, his violence huge. ..."
"... Bacevich, himself, is not hopeful. In a note to readers that greets them before the prologue, Bacevich is refreshingly terse with his assessment of Americas war for the Greater Middle East: We have not won it. We are not winning it. Simply trying harder is unlikely to produce a different outcome. ..."
Sep 26, 2017 | www.fff.org

Review of America's War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew J. Bacevich (New York: Random House, 2016; 480 pages)

Americas War for the Greater Middle East. Over time, other considerations intruded and complicated the wars conduct, but oil as a prerequisite of freedom was from day one an abiding consideration.

By 1969, oil imports already made up 20 percent of the daily oil consumption in the United States. Four years later, Arab oil exporters suspended oil shipments to the United States to punish America for supporting Israel in the October War. The American economy screeched to a halt, seemingly held hostage by foreigners -- a big no-no for a country accustomed to getting what it wants. Predictably the U.S. response was regional domination to keep the oil flowing to America, especially to the Pentagon and its vast, permanent war machine.

The Middle East was now a U.S. military priority, and the pursuit of direct American domination of the region came from none other than the supposed peacenik, Jimmy Carter. Before him, Richard Nixon was content to have the Middle East managed by proxies after the bloodletting America experienced in Vietnam. His arch-proxy was the despised shah of Iran, whom the United States had installed into power and then armed to the teeth. When his regime collapsed in 1979, felled by Islamic revolutionaries who would eventually capture the American embassy and initiate the Iranian hostage crisis, so too did the Nixon Doctrine. That same year, the Soviet Union rolled into Afghanistan. The world was a mess, and Carter was under extreme pressure to do something about it, lest he lose his bid for a second term. (He suffered a crushing defeat anyway.)

Furies beyond reckoning

The result was the Carter Doctrine. Delivered to the American people during the 1980 State of Union Address, Carter started Americas War for the Greater Middle East. Months earlier, in his infamous malaise speech, Carter asked Americans to simplify their lives and moderate their energy use. Now he declared Americas right to cheap energy. Let our position be absolutely clear, he said. An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

Analyzing the Carter Doctrine, Bacevich writes that it represented a broad, open-ended commitment, one that expanded further with time -- one that implied the conversion of the Persian Gulf into an informal American protectorate. Defending the region meant policing it. And police it America has done, wrapping its naked self-interest in the seemingly noble cloth of democratization and human rights.

It is illustrative, and alarming, to list Bacevichs selected campaigns and operations in the region since 1980 up to the present, unleashed by Carter and subsequent presidents. Lets go in alphabetical order by country followed by the campaigns and operations:

  1. Afghanistan (Cyclone, 1980–1989; Infinite Reach, 1998; Enduring Freedom, 2001–2015; Freedoms Sentinel, 2015–present);
  2. Bosnia (Deny Flight, 1993–1995; Deliberate Force, 1995; Joint Endeavor, 1995–1996);
  3. East Africa (Enduring Freedom -- Trans Sahara, 2007–present);
  4. Egypt (Bright Star, 1980–2009);
  5. Iraq (Desert Storm, 1991; Southern Watch, 1991–2003; Desert Strike, 1996; Northern Watch, 1997–2003; Desert Fox, 1998; Iraqi Freedom, 2003–2010; New Dawn, 2010–2011; Inherent Resolve, 2014–present);
  6. Iran (Eagle Claw, 1980; Olympic Games, 2007–2010)
  7. Kosovo (Determined Force, 1998; Allied Force, 1999; Joint Guardian, 1999–2005);
  8. Lebanon (Multinational Force, 1982–1984);
  9. Libya (El Dorado Canyon, 1986; Odyssey Dawn, 2011);
  10. North/West Africa (Enduring Freedom -- Trans Sahara, 2007– present);
  11. Pakistan (Neptune Spear, 2011);
  12. Persian Gulf (Earnest Will, 1987–1988; Nimble Archer, 1987; Praying Mantis, 1988);
  13. Saudi Arabia (Desert Shield, 1990; Desert Focus, 1996);
  14. Somalia (Restore Hope, 1992–1993; Gothic Serpent, 1993); Sudan (Infinite Reach, 1998);
  15. Syria (Inherent Resolve, 2014–present);
  16. Turkey (Provide Comfort, 1991);
  17. Yemen (Determined Response, 2000)

While Bacevich deftly takes the reader through the history of all those wars, the most important aspect of his book is his critique of the United Statess permanent military establishment and the power it wields in Washington. According to Bacevich, U.S. military leaders have a tendency to engage in fantastical thinking rife with hubris. Too many believe the United States is a global force for good that has the messianic duty to usher in secular modernity, a force that no one should ever interfere with, either militarily or ideologically.

As Bacevich makes plain again and again, history does not back up that mindset. For instance, after the Soviet Unions crippling defeat in Afghanistan, the Washington elite saw it as an American victory, the inauguration of the end of history and the inevitable march of democratic capitalism. They didnt see that the U.S.-armed Afghan mujahideen also believed they were the victors and that they had every intention of resisting Americas version of modernity as much as they had resisted the Soviet Unions. (Americas self-destructive trend of arming its eventual enemies -- either directly or indirectly from Saddam Hussein to ISIS, respectively -- is a recurring theme of Bacevichs narrative.)

Over and over again after 9/11, America would be taught this lesson, as Islamic extremists, both Sunni and Shia, bloodied the U.S. military across the Greater Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. History cannot be controlled, and it had its revenge on a U.S. military and political elite who somehow believed they could see the future and manage historical forces toward a predestined end that naturally benefitted America. As Reinhold Niebuhr warned, and Bacevich quotes approvingly, The recalcitrant forces in the historical drama have a power and persistence beyond our reckoning.

Yet across Americas War for the Greater Middle East, presidents would speak theologically of Americas role in the world, never admitting the United States is not an instrument of the Almighty. George H.W. Bush would speak of a new world order. Bill Clintons Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would declare that America is the indispensable nation. George W. Bushs faith in this delusion led him to declare a global war on terrorism, where American military might would extinguish evil wherever it resided and initiate Condoleeza Rices 'paradigm of progress -- democracy, limited government, market economics, and respect for human (and especially womens) rights across the region. As with all zealots, there was no acknowledgment by the Bush administration, flamboyantly Christian, that evil resided inside them too. Barack Obama seemed to pull back from this arrogance in his 2009 Cairo speech, declaring, No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. Yet he continued to articulate his faith that all people desire liberal democracy, even though that simply isnt true.

All in all, American presidents and their military advisors believed they could impose a democratic capitalist peace on the world, undeterred that each intervention created more instability and unleashed new violent forces the United States would eventually engage militarily, such as Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Bacevich explains that this conviction, deeply embedded in the American collective psyche, provides one of the connecting threads making the ongoing War for the Greater Middle East something more than a collection of disparate and geographically scattered skirmishes.

War and diplomacy

Another piece of connective tissue, according to Bacevich, is the belief that war is not the failure of diplomacy but a necessary ingredient to its success. The U.S. military establishment learned this lesson in Bosnia when U.S.-led NATO bombing brought Serbia to the negotiating table at the Dayton Peace Accords. The proper role of armed force, writes Bacevich, was not to supplant diplomacy but to make it work. Gen. Wesley Clark was more succinct when he called war coercive diplomacy during the Kosovo conflict. U.S. military force was no longer a last resort, particularly when technology was making it easier to unleash violence without endangering U.S. service members lives.

This logic would run aground in Iraq after 9/11 during what Bacevich calls the Third Gulf War. In an act of preventive war, the Bush administration shocked and awed Baghdad, believing U.S. military supremacy and its almost divine violence would bring other state sponsors of terrorism to heel after America quickly won the war. Vanquishing Saddam Hussein and destroying his army promised to invest American diplomacy with the power to coerce. Although the Bush administration believed the war ended after three weeks, Bacevich notes, the Third Gulf War was destined to continue for another 450. The people on the ground, as the D.C. elites just learned in November, have a way of not going along with the best-laid plans made for them in the epicenters of power.

There was hope that Barack Obama, a constitutional professor, would correct the Bush administrations failures and start to wind down Americas War for the Greater Middle East. Instead, he expanded it into Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and West Africa through drone warfare and special-operations missions. Without any unifying aim or idea, according to Bacevich, the Obama administrations principal contribution to Americas War for the Greater Middle East was to expand its fronts.

Now this war is in the hands of Donald J. Trump. If there is any upside to a Trump presidency -- and I find it hard to find many -- its the possibility that the intensity of American imperialism in the Middle East will wane. But I find that likelihood remote. Trump has promised to wipe out ISIS, which means continued military action in at least Iraq, Syria, and Libya. He has also called for more military spending, and I find it hard to believe that he or the national-security establishment will increase investment in the military and then show restraint in the use of force overseas.

As Bacevich clearly shows over and over again in his narrative, the men and women who make up the defense establishment have a fanatical, almost theological, belief in the transformational power of American violence. They persist in this belief despite all evidence to the contrary. These are the men and women who will be whispering their advice into the new presidents ear. Expect Uncle Sams fangs to grow longer, his talons sharper, his violence huge.

Bacevich, himself, is not hopeful. In a note to readers that greets them before the prologue, Bacevich is refreshingly terse with his assessment of Americas war for the Greater Middle East: We have not won it. We are not winning it. Simply trying harder is unlikely to produce a different outcome. And to this its not hard to hear Trump retort, Loser! And so the needless violence will continue on and on with no end in sight unless the American population develops a Middle East syndrome to replace the Vietnam syndrome that once made Washington wary of war.

That lack of confidence in the masters of war cant come soon enough.

This article was originally published in the July 2017 edition of Future of Freedom .

[Sep 24, 2017] The Killing of History

Sep 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its "exceptionalism", Burns' "entirely new" Vietnam war is presented as "epic, historic work". Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to "the entire Bank of America family" which "has long supported our country's veterans". Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war "was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings".

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of "false flags" that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers , which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans ! it is difficult to watch the film's jumble of "red peril" maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

... ... ...

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as "nuclear targeting planning is increased". The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against "repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this."

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders' "revolution" in last year's presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America's violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama's overthrow of Ukraine's elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia's western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

[Sep 20, 2017] The Politics of Military Ascendancy by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In this paper we will discuss the advantages that the military elite accumulate from the war agenda and the reasons why ' the Generals' have been able to impose their definition of international realities. ..."
"... We will discuss the military's ascendancy over Trump's civilian regime as a result of the relentless degradation of his presidency by his political opposition. ..."
"... The massive US-led bombing and destruction of Libya, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government and the failure of the Obama-Clinton administration to impose a puppet regime, underlined the limitations of US air power and the ineffectiveness of US political-military intervention. The Presidency blundered in its foreign policy in North Africa and demonstrated its military ineptness. ..."
"... The invasion of Syria by US-funded mercenaries and terrorists committed the US to an unreliable ally in a losing war. This led to a reduction in the military budget and encouraged the Generals to view their direct control of overseas wars and foreign policy as the only guarantee of their positions. ..."
"... The Obama-Clinton engineered coup and power grab in the Ukraine brought a corrupt incompetent military junta to power in Kiev and provoked the secession of the Crimea (to Russia) and Eastern Ukraine (allied with Russia). The Generals were sidelined and found that they had tied themselves to Ukrainian kleptocrats while dangerously increasing political tensions with Russia. The Obama regime dictated economic sanctions against Moscow, designed to compensate for their ignominious military-political failures. ..."
"... The Obama-Clinton legacy facing Trump was built around a three-legged stool: an international order based on military aggression and confrontation with Russia; a ' pivot to Asia' defined as the military encirclement and economic isolation of China – via bellicose threats and economic sanctions against North Korea; and the use of the military as the praetorian guards of free trade agreements in Asia excluding China. ..."
"... After only 8 months in office President Trump helplessly gave into the firings, resignations and humiliation of each and every one of his civilian appointees, especially those who were committed to reverse Obama's 'international order'. ..."
"... Trump was elected to replace wars, sanctions and interventions with economic deals beneficial to the American working and middle class. This would include withdrawing the military from its long-term commitments to budget-busting 'nation-building' (occupation) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other Obama-designated endless war zones. ..."
"... The Generals provide a veneer of legitimacy to the Trump regime (especially for the warmongering Obama Democrats and the mass media). However, handing presidential powers over to ' Mad Dog' Mattis and his cohort will come with a heavy price. ..."
"... While the military junta may protect Trump's foreign policy flank, it does not lessen the attacks on his domestic agenda. Moreover, Trump's proposed budget compromise with the Democrats has enraged his own Party's leaders. ..."
"... The military junta is pressuring China against North Korea with the goal of isolating the ruling regime in Pyongyang and increasing the US military encirclement of Beijing. Mad Dog has partially succeeded in turning China against North Korea while securing its advanced THADD anti-missile installations in South Korea, which will be directed against Beijing. ..."
"... Mad Dog's military build-up, especially in Afghanistan and in the Middle East, will not intimidate Iran nor add to any military successes. They entail high costs and low returns, as Obama realized after the better part of a decade of his defeats, fiascos and multi-billion dollar losses. ..."
"... The militarization of US foreign policy provides some important lessons: ..."
"... the escalation from threats to war does not succeed in disarming adversaries who possess the capacity to retaliate. ..."
"... Low intensity multi-lateral war maneuvers reinforce US-led alliances, but they also convince opponents to increase their military preparedness. Mid-level intense wars against non-nuclear adversaries can seize capital cities, as in Iraq, but the occupier faces long-term costly wars of attrition that can undermine military morale, provoke domestic unrest and heighten budget deficits. And they create millions of refugees. ..."
"... Threats and intimidation succeed only against conciliatory adversaries. Undiplomatic verbal thuggery can arouse the spirit of the bully and some of its allies, but it has little chance of convincing its adversaries to capitulate. The US policy of worldwide militarization over-extends the US armed forces and has not led to any permanent military gains. ..."
"... Are there any voices among clear-thinking US military leaders, those not bedazzled by their stars and idiotic admirers in the US media, who could push for more global accommodation and mutual respect among nations? The US Congress and the corrupt media are demonstrably incapable of evaluating past disasters, let alone forging an effective response to new global realities. ..."
"... American actions in Europe, Asia and the middle east appear increasingly irrational to many international observers. Their policy thrusts are excused as containment of evildoers or punishment of peoples who think and act differently. ..."
"... They will drive into a new detente such incompatible parties as Russia and Iran, or China and many countries. America risks losing its way in the world and free peoples see a flickering beacon that once shone brighter. ..."
"... How about this comic book tough guy quote: "I'm pleading with you with tears in my eyes: if you fuck with me, I'll kill you all" notice the first person used repetitively as he talks down to hapless unarmed tribesman in some distant land. A real egomaniacal narcissistic coward. Any of you with military experience would immediately recognize the type ... ..."
"... It seems that the inevitable has happened. Feckless civilians have used military adventures to advance their careers , ensure re- elections, capturr lucrative position as speaker, have a place as member of think tank or lobbying firm or consultant . Now being as stupidly greedy and impatient as these guys are, they have failed to see that neither the policies nor the militaries can succeed against enemies that are generated from the action and the policy itself ..."
Sep 15, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Clearly the US has escalated the pivotal role of the military in the making of foreign and, by extension, domestic policy. The rise of ' the Generals' to strategic positions in the Trump regime is evident, deepening its role as a highly autonomous force determining US strategic policy agendas.

In this paper we will discuss the advantages that the military elite accumulate from the war agenda and the reasons why ' the Generals' have been able to impose their definition of international realities.

We will discuss the military's ascendancy over Trump's civilian regime as a result of the relentless degradation of his presidency by his political opposition.

The Prelude to Militarization: Obama's Multi-War Strategy and Its Aftermath

The central role of the military in deciding US foreign policy has its roots in the strategic decisions taken during the Obama-Clinton Presidency. Several policies were decisive in the rise of unprecedented military-political power.

The massive increase of US troops in Afghanistan and their subsequent failures and retreat weakened the Obama-Clinton regime and increased animosity between the military and the Obama's Administration. As a result of his failures, Obama downgraded the military and weakened Presidential authority. The massive US-led bombing and destruction of Libya, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government and the failure of the Obama-Clinton administration to impose a puppet regime, underlined the limitations of US air power and the ineffectiveness of US political-military intervention. The Presidency blundered in its foreign policy in North Africa and demonstrated its military ineptness. The invasion of Syria by US-funded mercenaries and terrorists committed the US to an unreliable ally in a losing war. This led to a reduction in the military budget and encouraged the Generals to view their direct control of overseas wars and foreign policy as the only guarantee of their positions. The US military intervention in Iraq was only a secondary contributing factor in the defeat of ISIS; the major actors and beneficiaries were Iran and the allied Iraqi Shia militias. The Obama-Clinton engineered coup and power grab in the Ukraine brought a corrupt incompetent military junta to power in Kiev and provoked the secession of the Crimea (to Russia) and Eastern Ukraine (allied with Russia). The Generals were sidelined and found that they had tied themselves to Ukrainian kleptocrats while dangerously increasing political tensions with Russia. The Obama regime dictated economic sanctions against Moscow, designed to compensate for their ignominious military-political failures.

The Obama-Clinton legacy facing Trump was built around a three-legged stool: an international order based on military aggression and confrontation with Russia; a ' pivot to Asia' defined as the military encirclement and economic isolation of China – via bellicose threats and economic sanctions against North Korea; and the use of the military as the praetorian guards of free trade agreements in Asia excluding China.

The Obama 'legacy' consists of an international order of globalized capital and multiple wars. The continuity of Obama's 'glorious legacy' initially depended on the election of Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign, for its part, promised to dismantle or drastically revise the Obama Doctrine of an international order based on multiple wars , neo-colonial 'nation' building and free trade. A furious Obama 'informed' (threatened) the newly-elected President Trump that he would face the combined hostility of the entire State apparatus, Wall Street and the mass media if he proceeded to fulfill his election promises of economic nationalism and thus undermine the US-centered global order.

Trump's bid to shift from Obama's sanctions and military confrontation to economic reconciliation with Russia was countered by a hornet's nest of accusations about a Trump-Russian electoral conspiracy, darkly hinting at treason and show trials against his close allies and even family members.

The concoction of a Trump-Russia plot was only the first step toward a total war on the new president, but it succeeded in undermining Trump's economic nationalist agenda and his efforts to change Obama's global order.

Trump Under Obama's International Order

After only 8 months in office President Trump helplessly gave into the firings, resignations and humiliation of each and every one of his civilian appointees, especially those who were committed to reverse Obama's 'international order'.

Trump was elected to replace wars, sanctions and interventions with economic deals beneficial to the American working and middle class. This would include withdrawing the military from its long-term commitments to budget-busting 'nation-building' (occupation) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other Obama-designated endless war zones.

Trump's military priorities were supposed to focus on strengthening domestic frontiers and overseas markets. He started by demanding that NATO partners pay for their own military defense responsibilities. Obama's globalists in both political parties were aghast that the US might lose it overwhelming control of NATO; they united and moved immediately to strip Trump of his economic nationalist allies and their programs.

Trump quickly capitulated and fell into line with Obama's international order, except for one proviso – he would select the Cabinet to implement the old/new international order.

A hamstrung Trump chose a military cohort of Generals, led by General James Mattis (famously nicknamed