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Disaster capitalism

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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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[Apr 21, 2019] 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

[Apr 18, 2019] Is the USS Ship of Fools Taking on Water

Way to brave predictions, I think... I think he grossly underestimates durability of neoliberal state like the USA. May be in 20 years the USA will really start experiencing huge problems like he described due to the end of cheap oil". But before that only huge exogenous shock can crash such a society.
Notable quotes:
"... It will be interesting to see how public and government workers, as a group, react to the realization that the retirements they have been promised no longer exist; perhaps that will tip the entire system into a defunct state. ..."
"... And so, Trump or no Trump, we are going to have more of the same: shiny young IT specialists skipping and whistling on the way to work past piles of human near-corpses and their excrement; Botoxed housewives shopping for fake organic produce while hungry people in the back of the store are digging around in dumpsters ..."
"... well-to-do older couples dreaming of bugging out to some tropical gringo compound in a mangrove swamp where they would be chopped up with machetes and fed to the fish; and all of them believing that things are great because the stock market is doing so well. ..."
"... But he simply does not understand the USA. He’s been predicting collapse for some time and it has not occurred or come close to happening. Washington is filled with smart kleptocrats who understand they cannot afford to destroy the country that keeps on giving them the wealth and power they crave. Trump, can flounce around Washington and the rest of the country and do and say outrageous things and it has no effect on life whatsoever. ..."
"... While, on the surface, people support ideas like higher minimum wage, universal health-care and other aspects of social democracy, it their masters say “no” then they’ll forgo it and take pride in their ability to endure suffering, early death, their children on heroin or meth, and so on. ..."
"... Since I’m fairly “connected” to the lower/working class and its struggles in my part of the world I can assure you people almost enjoy suffering to a degree that foreigners easily miss and seldom ascribe it to the thieves and criminals who run our society. ..."
"... Will there be a civil war in the US, like in the 1861-1865 period ? No, I don’t think so. Will there be severe social disturbances ? Yes, these I do expect, leading to the break up of the US. The only part of the US which probably will emerge as a cohesive force will be the old South, Dixie land, which has history and tradition behind it. The US has been kicking the financial can down the road for a long time. This cannot last for ever. ..."
"... with people like Siluanov and Nabiullina in charge of the nation’s money, I am not optimistic… ..."
"... The acceleration of economic collapse in the West will be likely bring (overt) fascism and war–world war. ..."
"... In particular, the AngloNazi sorry Anglosphere nations (Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and of course America) are a clear and present threat that should not be underestimated, discounted, or spin-doctored away. ..."
"... But the Anglos studiously avoid facing the reality that their precious way of life, capitalist system, and Anglo-American world order itself are premised upon their own ruthless exploitation of the Global South and developing nations in general. ..."
"... Trump and the MAGA hordes, as well as similar xenophobic and nationalist movements throughout the Anglosphere and Europe, are only a precursor to what is coming. They represent the grievances of the lower-middle classes within the Anglo American Empire and Europe who want a greater cut of the economic loot of empire for themselves–which necessitates an even more aggressive and militaristic grab for global resources, markets, and geopolitical power. ..."
"... He’s way too negative on the USA’s domestic prospects. Despite its absurdities, the US system is fundamentally robust and unlikely to suffer any major, sudden collapse, at least for many decades. It will certain decline further, plumbing the depths of depravity more than it has to date, but the system will chug along. The US has vacuumed up talent from all over the world, bolstering it’s economic capacity and the rents extracted by oligo. It’s day to day institutions, such as courts, post offices and the like function better now than they did in the 80s or 90s. ..."
"... All the incentives are there to keep the thing together, with little real risk of some sort of succession movement or serious insurrection. The main advantages the US has on this score are it’s mass surveillance system, policing infrastructure and media. The US media can make the great bulk of the people believe absolutely anything, if given enough time. ..."
Apr 18, 2019 | thesaker.is

The Saker: You recently wrote an article titled " Is the USS Ship of Fools Taking on Water? " in which you discuss the high level of stupidity in modern US politics? I have a simple question for you: do you think the Empire can survive Trump and, if so, for how long?

Dmitry Orlov: I think that the American empire is very much over already, but it hasn't been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case. Some event will come along which will leave the power center utterly humiliated and unable to countenance this humiliation and make adjustments. Things will go downhill from there as everyone in government in media does their best to pretend that the problem doesn't exist. My hope is that the US military personnel currently scattered throughout the planet will not be simply abandoned once the money runs out, but I wouldn't be too surprised if that is what happens.

The Saker: Lastly, a similar but fundamentally different question: can the USA (as opposed to the Empire) survive Trump and, if so, how? Will there be a civil war? A military coup? Insurrection? Strikes? A US version of the Yellow Vests?

Dmitry Orlov: The USA, as some set of institutions that serves the interests of some dwindling number of people, is likely to continue functioning for quite some time. The question is: who is going to be included and who isn't? There is little doubt that retirees, as a category, have nothing to look forward to from the USA: their retirements, whether public or private, have already been spent. There is little doubt that young people, who have already been bled dry by poor job prospects and ridiculous student loans, have nothing to look forward to either.

But, as I've said before, the USA isn't so much a country as a country club. Membership has its privileges, and members don't care at all what life is like for those who are in the country but aren't members of the club. The recent initiatives to let everyone in and to let non-citizens vote amply demonstrates that US citizenship, by itself, counts for absolutely nothing. The only birthright of a US citizen is to live as a bum on the street, surrounded by other bums, many of them foreigners from what Trump has termed "shithole countries."

It will be interesting to see how public and government workers, as a group, react to the realization that the retirements they have been promised no longer exist; perhaps that will tip the entire system into a defunct state.

And once the fracking bubble is over and another third of the population finds that it can no longer afford to drive, that might force through some sort of reset as well. But then the entire system of militarized police is designed to crush any sort of rebellion, and most people know that. Given the choice between certain death and just sitting on the sidewalk doing drugs, most people will choose the latter.

And so, Trump or no Trump, we are going to have more of the same: shiny young IT specialists skipping and whistling on the way to work past piles of human near-corpses and their excrement; Botoxed housewives shopping for fake organic produce while hungry people in the back of the store are digging around in dumpsters; concerned citizens demanding that migrants be allowed in, then calling the cops as soon as these migrants set up tents on their front lawn or ring their doorbell and ask to use the bathroom; well-to-do older couples dreaming of bugging out to some tropical gringo compound in a mangrove swamp where they would be chopped up with machetes and fed to the fish; and all of them believing that things are great because the stock market is doing so well.

At this rate, when the end of the USA finally arrives, most of the people won't be in a position to notice while the rest won't be capable of absorbing that sort of upsetting information and will choose to ignore it. Everybody wants to know how the story ends, but that sort of information probably isn't good for anyone's sanity. The mental climate in the US is already sick enough; why should we want to make it even sicker?


Chris Cosmos on April 17, 2019 , · at 11:23 am EST/EDT

I love Orlov’s wit and general cynical attitude as it mirrors mine (perhaps not the wit). I think he seems to understand the Ukraine and Russia relatively well though I’m not in a position to question him on that but I do know something about the politics of NATO/EU/USA and their intentions and that Orlov gets.

But he simply does not understand the USA. He’s been predicting collapse for some time and it has not occurred or come close to happening. Washington is filled with smart kleptocrats who understand they cannot afford to destroy the country that keeps on giving them the wealth and power they crave. Trump, can flounce around Washington and the rest of the country and do and say outrageous things and it has no effect on life whatsoever.

If anything the economy actually is “better” not as good as the cooked statistics indicate but things have improved for people I know in that area. Americans, despite the obvious propaganda nature of the media still are true-believers in the official Narrative because meaning and myth always trumps reality.

While, on the surface, people support ideas like higher minimum wage, universal health-care and other aspects of social democracy, it their masters say “no” then they’ll forgo it and take pride in their ability to endure suffering, early death, their children on heroin or meth, and so on.

Since I’m fairly “connected” to the lower/working class and its struggles in my part of the world I can assure you people almost enjoy suffering to a degree that foreigners easily miss and seldom ascribe it to the thieves and criminals who run our society. Americans strut around but feel powerless and don’t have a plan or think they can have a plan because they lack the conceptual frameworks to understand that their leadership is thoroughly rotten.

Having said that, I agree with Auslander, Americans don’t need the central government and would do better, initially, in a highly chaotic situation and establish their own order in their communities and rig up a new set of arrangements very quickly.

In some ways the fall of Washington would be the best thing to ever happen in my country.

B.F. on April 17, 2019 , · at 5:29 pm EST/EDT
Chris Cosmos

I am afraid you are wrong. Orlov does understand the US, just like I do, as I have lived in the US. Yes, Orlov has been predicting the collapse of the US, and it will happen. I would like to direct your attention to the following video (the second part is very interesting):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=ryA1x6fll34

Will there be a civil war in the US, like in the 1861-1865 period ? No, I don’t think so. Will there be severe social disturbances ? Yes, these I do expect, leading to the break up of the US. The only part of the US which probably will emerge as a cohesive force will be the old South, Dixie land, which has history and tradition behind it. The US has been kicking the financial can down the road for a long time. This cannot last for ever.

Anonymous on April 17, 2019 , · at 7:08 pm EST/EDT
“The only part of the US which probably will emerge as a cohesive force will be the old South, Dixie land, which has history and tradition behind it. ”

Maybe, but actually I would say most regions of the USA have some kind of “old tradition” —and a lot nicer ones than that of the old racist South. I’ll take New England and the Maritimes any day over the steamy South where the kudzu creeps over I mean *everything*, the snakes proliferate, and you can’t survive the summer without AC 24/7.

Check out American Nations, by Colin Woodard.

Katherine

FB on April 17, 2019 , · at 11:45 am EST/EDT
Well…I just started in on this piece and already I have a major beef…Orlov’s notion that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was good for Russia…

China was [and arguably still is] an empire of diverse regions, ethnicities and religions…but how is that holding China back today, or during previous centuries of imperial glory…?

Clearly China doesn’t fit into Orlov’s idea of an empire as a ‘wealth pump’ that sucks from the periphery to enrich the center…this is true of course of exploitation-based imperial projects such as western colonialism…but is clearly not applicable to the Chinese model, which has been both the biggest and most durable empire in human history…so that is a big hole in Orlov’s ‘theory’…

It is true that the USSR was a fundamentally different kind of empire from the exploitative western colonialism…and it is also true that it ultimately did not succeed…although it managed to accomplish almost incomprehensible progress in modernization, science and technology…and industrialization…the foundations of Russian strength today rest squarely on the foundations put in place during the Stalin era…

Elsewhere on this site there is a brilliant series of essays by Ramin Mazaheri about the tumultuous cultural revolution of the 1960s…and why it was necessary…Russia also needed a cultural revolution around this time…the system needed to be rejigged to better serve the people…in living standard…fairness and justice…opportunity for social advance…etc…

But it never happened…instead the system became more sclerotic than ever…and the welfare of the people stagnated…at the very moment in time when the capitalist west, especially the United States, was able to reign in the appetites of its parasite class and provide the people with a decent share of its [largely ill-gotten, by means of global finance colonialism] gains…[during the postwar decades, the share of national wealth of the 0.1 percent fell to an all time low of about 7 percent…about a quarter of historic, and current levels]…

This was the golden age in the US…well paying jobs in industry were plentiful and the company president made perhaps ten times what the shop floor worker took home…a second household income was completely unnecessary…university education at state colleges was practically free…

The life of the Soviet citizen in the1960s was not too far behind…Stalin’s five year plans in the1930s had created an industrial powerhouse…it was Russia’s ability to produce that allowed it to prevail over Germany in the existential war…and despite the devastation of the people, cities and countryside Russia was able to quickly become a technological superpower…as an aerospace engineer I have a deep appreciation of the depth and breadth of Russian technical achievements and the basic scientific advances that made that possible…the US was laughably left in the dust, despite having skimmed the cream of Nazi Germany’s technical scientific talent…and contrary to what US propaganda would have the people believe…

... ... ...

Of course the massive Chinese empire has been adapting like this for centuries, if not millennia…Russia with the Soviet Union only needed to make similar smart adjustments…instead they threw out the baby with the bathwater…let’s see where Russia goes from here, but with people like Siluanov and Nabiullina in charge of the nation’s money, I am not optimistic…

But back to Orlov…let’s see where he goes after starting off very clumsily. .

Anonymous on April 17, 2019 , · at 12:52 pm EST/EDT
The acceleration of economic collapse in the West will be likely bring (overt) fascism and war–world war.

In particular, the AngloNazi sorry Anglosphere nations (Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and of course America) are a clear and present threat that should not be underestimated, discounted, or spin-doctored away.

As collapse intensifies, these Anglo American entities led by the USA will surely lash out in even more aggressive wars to maintain their unipolar world order that they have ruled over since the fall of the Soviet Union. The use of tactical nuclear weapons, bio-warfare, and other "exotic" weapons should not be ruled out.

At base, the Anglo Americans possess an inbred sense of economic entitlement. They whine like snowflakes about the foreign outsourcing of jobs or "illegal immigrants stealing our jobs" as a chauvinistic demand for a greater share of the economic spoils of imperialism.

But the Anglos studiously avoid facing the reality that their precious way of life, capitalist system, and Anglo-American world order itself are premised upon their own ruthless exploitation of the Global South and developing nations in general.

And God forbid that the Anglos lose their parasitic way of life and (horror) are compelled to live like the vast majority of humanity in the developing world from Africa to Asia to Latin America to the Middle East.

The disaffected middle classes and labor aristocracy of the Anglosphere will comprise the grassroots basis for 21st-century fascism, similar to how these socio-economic classes were the grassroots support for the German Third Reich or Mussolini's Italy in the 1930s-40s.

Trump and the MAGA hordes, as well as similar xenophobic and nationalist movements throughout the Anglosphere and Europe, are only a precursor to what is coming. They represent the grievances of the lower-middle classes within the Anglo American Empire and Europe who want a greater cut of the economic loot of empire for themselves–which necessitates an even more aggressive and militaristic grab for global resources, markets, and geopolitical power.

As Martin Lee has put it, the Beast reawakens.

Boswald Bollocksworth on April 17, 2019 · at 9:37 pm EST/EDT

He’s way too negative on the USA’s domestic prospects. Despite its absurdities, the US system is fundamentally robust and unlikely to suffer any major, sudden collapse, at least for many decades. It will certain decline further, plumbing the depths of depravity more than it has to date, but the system will chug along. The US has vacuumed up talent from all over the world, bolstering it’s economic capacity and the rents extracted by oligo. It’s day to day institutions, such as courts, post offices and the like function better now than they did in the 80s or 90s.

All the incentives are there to keep the thing together, with little real risk of some sort of succession movement or serious insurrection. The main advantages the US has on this score are it’s mass surveillance system, policing infrastructure and media. The US media can make the great bulk of the people believe absolutely anything, if given enough time.

The US capacity to meddle overseas will wither, after all how well can a submarine filled with drag queens and single mothers operate? And who’d be willing to endure shelling for a monstrosity like contemporary America?

But the domestic system is brilliantly designed, not going anywhere.

[Apr 17, 2019] What Are We to Make of Gina Haspel by Publius Tacitus

Notable quotes:
"... That fact is a very sad and disturbing commentary on what America is or has become. Tolerating torture and excusing such an activity in the name of national security is the same justification that Stalin and Castro employed to punish dissidents. ..."
"... Let me be clear about my position. If Gina was in fact the Chief of Base and oversaw the application of the waterboarding and other inhuman treatment then she lacks the moral authority to head the CIA. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of overlooking human rights violations and war crimes. ..."
"... Students of WW II will recall that US military intelligence recruited and protect Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, as an asset after the war. He murdered Jews and sent others to Auschwitz. He should have been hung. Instead, we turned a blind eye and gave him a paycheck. ..."
"... I've read that she enjoyed torture and mocked a prisoner who was drooling by accused him of faking it. I never knew anything about her sexual orientation but now I have to consider if she's so cruel because she hates men. ..."
"... Yes, waterboarding is torture. We considered it so egregious that we prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for using it on POWs. ..."
"... just reinforces the feeling that those at the upper echelons are completely out of touch or alternatively are just lying/posturing to present themselves in a better light. ..."
"... A torturer is a torturer, no matter how one try to glaze it, or sugar coat it. If one is against torture, or the fancy name for it EIT, one should come out and say it like it is. This lady is accused of torturing captives ( enemy combatant) that can't and will not go away unless she come clean. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Before Gina became the Chief of Staff for Rodriguez, what role did she play in the waterboarding of two AQ operatives in Thailand? It appears that she was at least witting of what was going on. Did she have the authority to decide what measures to apply to the two? Did she make such decisions?

Those are facts still to be determined. I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. But there are others who I respect that are adamant in opposing her nomination. The only thing I know for sure is that her nomination will be a bloody and divisive political battle. If it comes down to embracing waterboarding as an appropriate method to use on suspected terrorists, then a majority of Americans are supportive of that practice and will cheer the appointment of Haspel.

That fact is a very sad and disturbing commentary on what America is or has become. Tolerating torture and excusing such an activity in the name of national security is the same justification that Stalin and Castro employed to punish dissidents. It is true that one man's terrorist is another woman's freedom fighter.

Let me be clear about my position. If Gina was in fact the Chief of Base and oversaw the application of the waterboarding and other inhuman treatment then she lacks the moral authority to head the CIA. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of overlooking human rights violations and war crimes.

Students of WW II will recall that US military intelligence recruited and protect Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, as an asset after the war. He murdered Jews and sent others to Auschwitz. He should have been hung. Instead, we turned a blind eye and gave him a paycheck.


Cee , 18 March 2018 at 12:55 PM

PT,

I've read that she enjoyed torture and mocked a prisoner who was drooling by accused him of faking it. I never knew anything about her sexual orientation but now I have to consider if she's so cruel because she hates men.

No to her confirmation.

steve , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
IIRC, Haspel was the chief of staff to whom Rodriguez refers. That does not sound like a bit player. Would you say that Kelly is a bit player in the Trump admin? As you say, we should know the facts, but so far it looks like she both participated in torture and in its cover-up.

Steve

tv , 18 March 2018 at 01:11 PM
Is waterboarding "torture?" It does not draw blood nor leave any physical damage. Psychological damage? These ARE admitted terrorists.
BillWade , 18 March 2018 at 01:20 PM
With all the crap going on at the FBI, the last thing we need now is a divisive candidate for any top level government position (torture advocacy is divisive for many of us).

A woman, a lesbian, who cares as long as they are a capable and decent law-abiding individual.

Publius Tacitus -> tv... , 18 March 2018 at 01:23 PM
Yes, waterboarding is torture. We considered it so egregious that we prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for using it on POWs.

And where do you get "admitted" terrorists from? In America, even with suspected terrorists, there is the principle of innocent until proven guilty. At least we once believed in that standard.

Apenultimate said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 March 2018 at 01:26 PM
And I very much respect you for your position on this (it is this American's view as well).

What amazes me (and yet doesn't) is the example of Rodriguez's supposed introspection "How bad could this be?" Really?!? That just strikes me as not having any feel for the media, US citizenry, or even common sense, and just reinforces the feeling that those at the upper echelons are completely out of touch or alternatively are just lying/posturing to present themselves in a better light.

Laura , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
PT -- Thank you. Much to consider in these times. I come down on the "no torture and waterboarding is torture" side of the debate but am also just eager for some competence and professional experience in key positions.

That these positions may be mutually exclusive says a great deal about our current situation. Again, thank you, for your opinions and information.

Kooshy , 18 March 2018 at 01:42 PM
A torturer is a torturer, no matter how one try to glaze it, or sugar coat it. If one is against torture, or the fancy name for it EIT, one should come out and say it like it is. This lady is accused of torturing captives ( enemy combatant) that can't and will not go away unless she come clean.

At the end of the day that don't matter, since as a policy, and base on your own statement, this country's government will prosecut and punish for liking of torture but not torture and tortures. And, furthermore, is not even willing to do away with it, per it's elected president. Trying to show a clean, moral, democracy on the hilltop image, is a BS and a joke.

[Apr 17, 2019] Gina Haspel As If Nuremberg Never Happened

Notable quotes:
"... I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. ..."
"... Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power. ..."
"... American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
"... Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious. ..."
"... There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government. ..."
"... If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!" ..."
"... I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them. ..."
"... She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect. ..."
"... furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition? ..."
"... Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations -- one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants -- than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA.

Haspel oversaw the torture of human beings in Thailand as the chief of a CIA black site in 2002. Since then, she's worked her way up to deputy director at the CIA. With current director Mike Pompeo slated to move to Foggy Bottom, President Donald Trump has proposed Haspel as the Agency's new head.

Haspel's victims waiting for death in Guantanamo cannot speak to us, though they no doubt remember their own screams as they were waterboarded. And we can still hear former CIA officer John Kiriakou say : "We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information."

It was Kiriakou who exposed the obsessive debate over the effectiveness of torture as false. The real purpose of torture conducted by those like Gina Haspel was to seek vengeance, humiliation, and power. We're just slapping you now, she would have said in that Thai prison, but we control you, and who knows what will happen next, what we're capable of? The torture victim is left to imagine what form the hurt will take and just how severe it will be, creating his own terror.

Haspel won't be asked at her confirmation hearing to explain how torture works, but those who were waterboarded under her stewardship certainly could.

I met my first torture victim in Korea, where I was adjudicating visas for the State Department. Persons with serious criminal records are ineligible to travel to the United States, with an exception for dissidents who have committed political crimes. The man I spoke with said that under the U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee he was tortured for writing anti-government verse. He was taken to a small underground cell. Two men arrived and beat him repeatedly on his testicles and sodomized him with one of the tools they had used for the beating. They asked no questions. They barely spoke to him at all.

Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, he said the subsequent humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what really affected his life. It destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again. The men who destroyed him, he told me, did their work, and then departed, as if they had others to visit and needed to get on with things. He was released a few days later and driven back to his apartment by the police. A forward-looking gesture.

The second torture victim I met was while I was stationed in Iraq. The prison that had held him was under the control of shadowy U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Inside, masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said they neither asked him questions nor demanded information. They did whip his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys. They slapped him. They broke the bones in his right foot with a steel rod, a piece of rebar ordinarily used to reinforce concrete.

It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What destroyed him was the feeling of utter helplessness, the inability to control things around him as he once had. He showed me the caved-in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves.

Gina Haspel is the same as those who were in the room with the Korean. She is no different than those who tormented the Iraqi.

As head of a black site, Haspel had sole authority to halt the questioning of suspects, but she allowed torture to continue. New information and a redaction of earlier reporting that said Haspel was present for the waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah (she was actually the station chief at the black site after those sessions) makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners there, but pay it little mind. The confusion arises from the government's refusal to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. So many records have yet to be released and those that have been are heavily redacted. Then there are the tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding, which Haspel later pushed to have destroyed.

Arguing over just how much blood she has in her hands is a distraction from the fact that she indeed has blood on her hands.

Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remained classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes.

Obama ignored the truth that sees former Nazis continue to be hunted some 70 years after the Holocaust: that those who do evil on behalf of a government are individually responsible. "I was only following orders" is not a defense of inhuman acts. The purpose of tracking down the guilty is to punish them, to discourage the next person from doing evil, and to morally immunize a nation-state.

To punish Gina Haspel "more than 15 years later for doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders, would be a travesty and a disgrace," claims one of her supporters. "Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well," said Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA during the height of the Iraq war from 2006-2009.

Influential people in Congress agree. Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will soon review Haspel's nomination, said , "I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies."

"She'll have to answer for that period of time, but I think she's a highly qualified person," offered Senator Lindsey Graham. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson defended Haspel's actions, saying they were "the accepted practice of the day" and shouldn't disqualify her.

His fellow Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, signaled her likely acceptance, saying , "Since my concerns were raised over the torture situation, I have met with her extensively, talked with her She has been, I believe, a good deputy director." Senator Susan Collins added that Haspel "certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee of the agency." John McCain, a victim of torture during the Vietnam War, mumbled only that Haspel would have to explain her role.

Nearly alone at present, Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose Haspel's nomination. Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, have told Trump she is unsuitable and will likely also vote no.

Following World War II, the United States could have easily executed those Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, or thrown them into some forever jail on an island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who wouldn't have supported brutally torturing them at a black site. Instead, they were put on public trial at Nuremberg and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was to demonstrate that We were better than Them.

Today we refuse to understand what Haspel's victims, and the Korean writer, and the Iraqi insurgent, already know on our behalf: unless Congress awakens to confront this nightmare and deny Gina Haspel's nomination as director of the CIA, torture will have transformed us and so it will consume us. Gina Haspel is a torturer. We are torturers. It is as if Nuremberg never happened.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. He tweets @WeMeantWell.


Douglas K. March 19, 2018 at 3:19 am

Covering up torture is quite possibly the worst thing Obama did. (I'd put it neck-and-neck with targeted killing.) This nation desperately needs a president who will expose all of these horrors, and appoint an attorney general who will prosecute these acts as war crimes.
I Don't Matter , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
Trump likes waterboarding. He said so himself. One assumes he meant, being a whimpering coward himself, when someone else does it to someone else. But who knows? Enjoy judge Gorsuch.
Mark Thomason , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
"doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders"

To complete the parallel, we would need to prosecute and punish those who asked her to do it, and those who told her those orders were lawful. Instead, some are doing paintings of their toes, some are promoted to be Federal judges, and some are influential professors at "liberal" law schools. Why punish *only* her?

Peter Hopkins , says: March 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.
Ian , says: March 19, 2018 at 7:10 am
As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them.
Bagby , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:00 am
I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. I am in full support of Mr. Van Buren's thesis. However, Pro Publica, which seems to have been the source of much reporting of Haspel's torture record, has retracted the claim that Haspel had tortured in Thailand. Mr. Van Buren quotes another source from his blog that supports the thesis that Haspel is a torturer. How does one know what to believe? Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power.
Centralist , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:19 am
Its because we lost our sense of what makes us who we are. We are an empire that dances for private interests. In Rome they were called families and led by patricians, they had money private guards, gladiators, and even street people supporting them. In the Modern USA they are called Interest Groups and/or Corporations. They are lead by CEOs and instead of gladiators they have Lawyers. Our being better matters less then their own squabbles which is why a torturer could reach the highest seat in intel. The majority of Americans have lost their sense of being Americans instead they are Republicans, Democrats, etc, etc. Things that once use to be part of an American have come to define us.
Banger , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am
American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am
CIA has purposefully refused to disclose Haspel's role for a decade+ They have selectively released information last week to discredit those criticizing her. I don't think we should play their game, letting them set the agenda. Instead, I declaim torture itself and any role she played in it, whether she poured the water or kept the books.
Kurt Gayle , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:34 am
Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of the CIA's Haspel put him at risk?

In the 2003 film "Love Actually" the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) jokes with a Downing Street employee Natalie (Martine McCutcheon):

"PM: You live with your husband? Boyfriend, three illegitimate but charming children? –
"NATALIE: No, I've just split up with my boyfriend, so I'm back with my mum and dad for a while.
"PM: Oh. I'm sorry.
"NATALIE: No, it's fine. I'm well shot of him. He said I was getting fat.
"PM: I beg your pardon?
"NATALIE: He said no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.
"PM: Right You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.
"NATALIE: Thank you, sir. I'll think about it.
"PM: Do – the SAS are absolutely charming – ruthless, trained killers are just a phone call away."

It's just a film. It's just a joke. But the joke works because the public knows that – in reality – the security services have the skills-sets and the abilities, to do damage anyone they want to do damage to -- and to probably get away with it.

Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious.

Fast forward again to yesterday, March 17, 2018: Former CIA Director John Brennan wasn't joking when he reacted to the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe -- and President Donald Trump's tweeted celebration of it -- by tweeting this attack against Trump:

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America America will triumph over you."

Obama UN Representative Samantha Power followed up on the Brennan tweet with this:

"Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."

When public officials and former public officials -- like Shumer, Brennan and Power -- make such public statements it must necessarily have a chilling effect on public criticism of the security services.

After all, none of the three are joking. They're serious. And the American people know that they're serious.

Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of CIA operative Haspel put him at risk?

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
New information makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners at her black site, but pay it little mind. The confusion is because the government refuses to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. Arguing over just how much blood she has on her hands is a distraction when she indeed has blood on her hands.

The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency. If the Agency wishes to clarify her role, as was done via trial for the various Nazis at Nuremberg, we can deal with her actions more granularly.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
Since we have not had any more successful attacks on the scale of 9-11, it is very easy to be scrupulous regarding rough treatment of terrorists.

But if we had suffered a dozen or more such attacks, of increasing magnitude and maybe involving nuclear weapons, how many of you would still be condemning Mrs Haspel et al.? Or would you then be complaining they had not used water-boarding enough?

The 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, was caught weeks before 9-11. Investigators figured out he was up to no good, tried to get permission to search his computer, but were denied. The U.S. Government carefully protected his privacy rights. So are you pleased with the outcome, Mr van Buren?

furbo , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
I'm sorry – this whole piece is a massive non sequitur. Ms. Haspel has no 'blood' on her hands as US extreme interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, uncomfortable positions, waterboarding) didn't draw any. They are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones. US techniques might have been bad policy – won't argue – but lets not fall for a false equivalency.

Ms. Haspel was an agent of her government, acting on it's orders under it's policies and guidelines. Which leads to

Nuremberg. The Nuremberg tribunals (they were military tribunals – not trials) were conducted by a victorious military force against a defeated military force. They were widely criticized as vengeance even by such august people as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Stone and associate Justice Douglas. There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government.

And lastly there's this from a comment of the authors: "The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency." Utter nonsense. That was the mission of the Agency at that time. It's like saying a 33yr old Drone Pilot who takes out an ISIS/Al Qaida operative as well as 15 civilians is disqualified to be the Sec Def 2 decades later.

Just stop.

Sid Finster , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!"

We demonize Russia at every opportunity, but I don't see Russia rewarding torturers by appointing them to high office.

Sally Stewart , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
Douglas K. What are you talking about? Covered up? You mean Bush http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/175/end-the-use-of-torture/
Stephen J. , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am
A lot of info below on the War criminals at large.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
May 26, 2015 Do We Need Present Day Nuremberg Trials? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/do-we-need-present-day-nuremberg-trials.html

And

March 9, 2018 Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html

connecticut farmer , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am
I didn't know too much about this woman's background until I read that Rand Paul opposes her nomination. I tend to take notice whenever Rand Paul holds forth on any subject. All I can say is that if her actual record even approximates what has been alleged, then this woman is unfit for the post–Nuremberg or no Nuremberg.
Winston , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:54 am
"As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them." Oh, -PLEASE-, spare us the hyperbole! WE burn alive captives held in cages? WE saw off their heads?

Thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs.

Lex Talionis , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm
All of the torturers should be brought to justice. So should all of the officials who ordered or authorized torture.

There is no statute of limitations on capital Federal crimes. For a U.S. citizen to kill via torture is a capital Federal crime, no matter where the torture took place. If statutes of limitations make it too late to prosecute some acts of torture, it is not too late to bring about some measure of justice by making torturers pariahs. As many sexual harassers have recently learned, there is no statute of limitations in the court of public opinion.

bob sykes , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
The story linking her to torture has been formally retracted. She had nothing to do with torture anywhere. How about a retraction of this story and an apology.
Youknowho , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm
I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them.

Personally, I prefer that the cruelty should be, as Lincoln once put it, "unalloyed by the base metal of hypocrisy"

Tyrone Slothrop , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
bob sykes: you should read Pro Publica's retraction ( https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture ) of the claim that Haspel was in charge of the Thai black site when Abu Zubaydeh was tortured. She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect.

Winston: why do you suppose "thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs"? Is it not to prepare them for the possibility of what we call torture when used by our adversaries?

furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition?

Near Rockaway , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm
"Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence?"

Evil stuff. And we're still paying for it. Keeping Haspel out of the Director's chair is a basic step toward avoiding more such needless, stupid evil.

Chris Mallory , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Wilfred, the problem was not that the Feds protected Zacarias Moussaoui's right to privacy. The problem is that it let any of the 20 Arab Muslims into the US in the first place. Closing our borders and mass deportations would have been the best thing to do in the aftermath of 9/11, not torture and invasions.
b. , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Very well put. Lest we forget: Bush also delivered the stern warning that "war crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished, and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'."

Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Chris Mallory (Mar 19 @1:47 p.m.), I agree with you. We shouldn't be letting them in.

But if someone had sneaked-a-peek at Moussaoui's laptop during the 3 weeks they had him before 9-11, we might have been able to thwart the attack altogether. (And the Press has been strangely incurious about investigating whoever it was who issued the injunction protecting Moussie's precious computer). This type of hand-wringing cost us 3,000 lives. Even more, considering the Afghan & 2nd Iraq wars would never have been launched, were it not for 9-11.

[Apr 16, 2019] The incompetent, the corrupt, the treacherous -- not just walking free, but with reputations intact, fat bank balances, and flourishing careers. Now they re angling for war with Iran.

Highly recommended!
Apr 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Return of the Just April 14, 2019 at 10:46 am

You're right. I see people like Robert Kagan's opinions being respectfully asked on foreign affairs, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams being hired to direct our foreign policy.

The incompetent, the corrupt, the treacherous -- not just walking free, but with reputations intact, fat bank balances, and flourishing careers. Now they're angling for war with Iran.

It's preposterous and sickening. And it can't be allowed to stand, so you can't just stand off and say you're "wrecked". Keep fighting, as you're doing. I will fight it until I can't fight anymore.

Ken Zaretzke , says: April 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm
Fact-bedeviled JohnT: “McCain was a problem for this nation? Sweet Jesus! There quite simply is no rational adult on the planet who buys that nonsense.”

McCain had close ties to the military-industrial complex. He was a backer of post-Cold War NATO. He was a neoconservative darling. He never heard of a dictator that he didn’t want to depose with boots on the ground, with the possible exception of various Saudi dictators (the oil-weaponry-torture nexus). He promoted pseudo-accountability of government in campaign finance but blocked accountability for the Pentagon and State Department when he co-chaired the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs with John Kerry.

And, perhaps partly because of the head trauma and/or emotional wounds he suffered at the hands of Chinese-backed Commies, it’s plausible to think he was regarded by the willy-nilly plotters of the deep state as a manipulable, and thus useful, conduit of domestic subversion via the bogus Steele dossier.

Unfortunately, the episode that most defines McCain’s life is the very last one–his being a pawn of M-16 in the the deep state’s years-long attempt to derail the presidency of Donald Trump.

Joe Dokes , says: April 14, 2019 at 11:55 pm
Measuring success means determining goals. The goals of most wars is to enrich the people in charge. So, by this metric, the war was a success. The rest of it is just props and propaganda.
Andrew Stergiou , says: April 15, 2019 at 5:11 am
“Pyrrhic Victory” look it up the Roman Empire Won but lost if the US is invaded and the government does not defend it I would like to start my own defense: But the knee jerk politics that stirs America’s cannon fodder citizens is a painful reminder of a history of jingoist lies where at times some left and right agree at least for a short moment before the rich and powerful push their weight to have their way.

If All politics is relative Right wingers are the the left of what? Nuclear destruction? or Slavery?

Peter Smith , says: April 15, 2019 at 5:13 am
My goodness! I am also a veteran, but of the Vietnam war, and my father was a career officer from 1939-1961 as a paratrooper first, and later as an intelligence officer. He argued vigorously against our Vietnam involvement, and was cashiered for his intellectual honesty. A combat veteran’s views are meaningless when the political winds are blowing.

Simply put, we have killed thousands of our kids in service of the colonial empires left to us by the British and the French after WWII. More practice at incompetent strategies and tactics does not make us more competent–it merely extends the blunders and pain; viz the French for two CENTURIES against the Britsh during the battles over Normandy while the Planagenet kings worked to hold their viking-won inheritance.

At least then, kings risked their own lives. Generals fight because the LIKE it…a lot. Prior failures are only practice to the, regardless of the cost in lives of the kids we tried to raise well, and who were slaughtered for no gain.

We don’t need the empire, and we certainly shouldn’t fight for the corrupt businessmen who have profited from the never-ending conflicts. Let’s spend those trillions at home, so long as we also police our government to keep both Democrat and Republican politicians from feathering their own nests. Term limits and prosecutions will help us, but only if we are vigilant. Wars distract our attention while corruption is rampant at home.

Fayez Abedaziz , says: April 12, 2019 at 12:25 am
Thanks, I appreciate this article.
I’ll make two points, my own opinion:
it’s the same story as Vietnam, the bull about how the politicians or anti-war demonstrators tied the military ‘hand,’ blah, blah.
Nonsense. Invading a nation and slaughtering people in their towns, houses…gee…what’s wrong with that, eh?
The average American has a primitive mind when it comes to such matters.
Second point I have, is that both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, Hillary and Trump should be dragged to a world court, given a fair trial and locked up for life with hard labor… oh, and Cheney too,for all those families, in half a dozen nations, especially the children overseas that suffered/died from these creeps.
And, the families of dead or maimed American troops should be apologized to and compensation paid by several million dollars to each.
The people I named above make me sick, because I have feelings and a conscience. Can you dig?
kingdomofgodflag.info , says: April 12, 2019 at 8:19 am
Though there is a worldly justification for killing to obtain or maintain freedoms, there is no Christian justification for it. Which suggests that Christians who die while doing it, die in vain.

America’s wars are prosecuted by a military that includes Christians. They seldom question the killing their country orders them to do, as though the will of the government is that of the will of God. Is that a safe assumption for them to make? German Christian soldiers made that assumption regarding their government in 1939. Who was there to tell them otherwise? The Church failed, including the chaplains. (The Southern Baptist Convention declared the invasion of Iraq a just war in 2003.) These wars need to be assessed by Just War criteria. Christian soldiers need to know when to exercise selective conscientious objection, for it is better to go to prison than to kill without God’s approval. If Just War theory is irrelevant, the default response is Christian Pacifism.

Mark Thomason , says: April 12, 2019 at 10:43 am
“has gone un-investigated, unheard of, or unpunished.”

The one guy who did tell us has just been arrested for doing exactly that.

The arrest is cheered by those who fantasize about Russiagate, but it is expressly FOR telling us about these things.

Stephen J. , says: April 12, 2019 at 10:51 am
“Iraq Wrecked” a lot of innocent people. Millions are dead, cities reduced to rubble, homes and businesses destroyed and it was all a damned lie. And the perpetrators are Free.
Now there is sectarian violence too, where once there was a semblance of harmony amongst various denominations. See article link below.

“Are The Christians Slaughtered in The Middle East Victims of the Actions of Western War Criminals and Their Terrorist Supporting NATO ‘Allies’”?

http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/04/are-christians-slaughtered-in-middle.html

the the , says: April 12, 2019 at 11:53 am
We are a globalist open borders and mass immigration nation. We stand for nothing. To serve in this nation’s military is very stupid. You aren’t defending anything. You are just a tool of globalism. Again, we don’t secure our borders. That’s a very big give away to what’s going on.
the the , says: April 12, 2019 at 11:57 am
If our nation’s military really was an American military concerned with our security we would have secured our border after 9/11, reduced all immigration, deported ALL muslims, and that’s it. Just secure the borders and expel Muslims! That’s all we needed to do.

Instead we killed so many people and imported many many more Muslims! And we call this compassion. Its insane.

Kouros , says: April 12, 2019 at 12:02 pm
Maybe if Talibans get back in power they will destroy the opium. You know, like they did when they were first in power…. It seems that wherever Americans get involved, drugs follow…
JohnT , says: April 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm
“Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” In Eisenhower’s televised farewell address January 17, 1961.
Rational thought would lead one to believe such words from a fellow with his credentials would have had a useful effect. But it didn’t. In point of fact, in the likes of Eric Prince and his supporters the notion of war as a profit center is quite literally a family affair.
Ken Zaretzke , says: April 12, 2019 at 2:10 pm
The military-industrial complex couldn’t accomplish this all by its lonesome self. The deep state was doing its thing. The two things overlap but aren’t the same. The deep state is not only or mainly about business profits, but about power. Power in the world means empire, which requires a military-industrial complex but is not reducible to it.

We now have a rare opportunity to unveil the workings of the deep state, but it will require a special counsel, and a lengthy written report, on the doings in the 2016 election of the FBI (Comey, Strzok, et. al.), and collaterally the CIA and DIA (Brennan and Clapper). Also the British government (M-16), John McCain, and maybe Bush and Obama judges on the FISA courts.

[Apr 15, 2019] War is the force that gives America its meaning.

Notable quotes:
"... For Christ's sake! The "Deep State"!?! With a well documented pathological liar and a seemingly endless supply of professional sycophants in our government selling our nation to the highest bidder in plain sight why in the world do you folks continue to need grand delusions of demons in the woodwork??? ..."
"... I have no reason to believe Comey, Clapper and Brennen have served this nation with honor and integrity in dealing with more responsibility than that required to sit safely at home and blabber about as the victim of some grand conspiracy ..."
"... Here is a thought; the unprovoked American aggression in Iraq wrecked Iraq! There is no comparison between the millions of dead, dispossessed, displaced, terrorized and radicalized Iraqis and a few thousand PTSD cases with the richest government in the world on their side. ..."
"... It's like a pimp complaining about bruised knuckles on account of hitting a woman too many times! ..."
"... The title of your book sounds like "Invading Iraq was a Good Idea but the Implementation was Bad and I Couldn't Fix It". Did you really think we could invade a sovereign country based on lies and win "hearts and minds" if we just did it the right way? Not possible. ..."
Apr 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

John, says: April 13, 2019 at 3:18 am

With all due respect, Iraq didn't wreck you. The US wrecked Iraq, and the US wrecked you.
Uncle Billy , says: April 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
The invasion of Iraq was a mistake of historic dimensions. The "weapons of mass destruction" excuse was a lie. When I see George W. Bush smiling on TV, I want to puke. Likewise, I cannot view an image of Lyndon Johnson without revulsion. They are both responsible for much death and suffering. I have heard people try to excuse both of them, with the statement that "they meant well." The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
JohnT , says: April 13, 2019 at 8:06 am
@Ken Zaretzke.

For Christ's sake! The "Deep State"!?! With a well documented pathological liar and a seemingly endless supply of professional sycophants in our government selling our nation to the highest bidder in plain sight why in the world do you folks continue to need grand delusions of demons in the woodwork???

I have no reason to believe Comey, Clapper and Brennen have served this nation with honor and integrity in dealing with more responsibility than that required to sit safely at home and blabber about as the victim of some grand conspiracy.

Bob , says: April 13, 2019 at 9:57 am
The war In Afghanistan would have ended 15 years ago if the sons of members of Congress were being drafted. "It's easy to send someone else's sons to war."
Ken Zaretzke , says: April 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm
@JohnT,

You left out the phrase "anything other than" following the phrase "have served this nation with" in your last sentence.

You forgot to express your confidence in John McCain. Good luck with that. McCain's top aide flew to a foreign city to receive the Steele dossier, gave it to the senator, who then gave it to the FBI–as per Steele's script, I assume. It's another reason why we need a special counsel to look into the FBI's role. A special counsel can hardly omit the McCain piece of the puzzle, whereas a regular prosecutor can easily ignore it and cover McCain's keister.

To the extent that McCain comes out looking bad in a special counsel's report, Trump haters like you will no longer be able to talk about Trump's supposed terrible character in dissing noble John McCain, and holding it up as Exhibit A of why Trump shouldn't be president.

More than anything else concerning the FBI's election shenanigans, the McCain-Steele nexus–specifically the report written about it by a special counsel–could expose the deep state's modus operandi. Not even an inspector general's report can do that as well as a special counsel's report.

Sarto , says: April 13, 2019 at 5:02 pm
Remember, 75% of Americans wanted Bush to invade Iraq. War is the force that gives America its meaning.
Lee Green , says: April 13, 2019 at 8:11 pm
Your book will go out of print. In 10 to 20 years it will be reprinted and sell well. It takes that long for people to remove their heads from their nether regions and be willing to contemplate the errors made.

The real irony is that we know better. There is a vast body of literature on major cognitive errors, and the whole catalog is on display in the debacle described. Our failures of statecraft are quite analogous to the ongoing errors in my field (medicine), well described in "To Err is Human." We've made a lot of progress in medicine in addressing them, mostly though systems engineering. That's because the tendency toward these errors is a result of how human brains are wired, and if you have a human brain, no matter how smart or well educated you are, you have those tendencies. The key is to create systems that catch the errors.

Now we have to figure out how to create systems to constrain politicians, and especially the military-industrial-Congressional complex (Eisenhower's actual original term), from making those errors.

George Hoffman , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:09 pm
I commiserate with your disillusioning journey because I went through a similar odyssey into self-awareness like yours many decades ago. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam (31 May 1967 – 31 May 1968). It's all been downhill from there. A gradual slide down the slippy slope of history in our decline as a nation. There's not much one can really do. But at my age, I will be long gone when our country hits burns and crashes as it hits bottom.
Talltale , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:11 pm
"Iraq wrecked me, even though I somehow didn't expect it to. I was foolish to think that traveling to the other side of the world and spending a year seeing death and poverty, bearing witness to a war, learning how to be mortared at night and deciding it didn't matter that I might die before breakfast, wasn't going to change me. Of the military units I was embedded in, three soldiers did not come home; all died at their own hands."

Enough books and movies about those poor damaged American boys yet?

The navel gazing never stops.

Here is a thought; the unprovoked American aggression in Iraq wrecked Iraq! There is no comparison between the millions of dead, dispossessed, displaced, terrorized and radicalized Iraqis and a few thousand PTSD cases with the richest government in the world on their side.

Get over yourselves! Honestly! It's like a pimp complaining about bruised knuckles on account of hitting a woman too many times!

Craig Morris , says: April 14, 2019 at 1:59 am
The title of your book sounds like "Invading Iraq was a Good Idea but the Implementation was Bad and I Couldn't Fix It". Did you really think we could invade a sovereign country based on lies and win "hearts and minds" if we just did it the right way? Not possible.

[Apr 15, 2019] I wonder if the Middle East is nothing more than a live-fire laboratory for the military

Apr 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Adam E, says: April 14, 2019 at 8:50 am

Just a cynical take, but implying that there are lessons to be learned from previous or present wars that should keep us from engaging in future wars presumes that the goal is to, where possible, actually avoid war.

It also suggests a convenient, simplistic narrative that the military/DOD is incompetent and stupid, and unable to learn from previous engagements.

I wonder if the Middle East is nothing more than a live-fire laboratory for the military; if it seems as though there is no plan, no objective, no victory for these engagements, maybe that is because the only objectives and victory are to provide practical war training for our troops, test equipment and tactics, keep defense contractors employed and the Pentagon's budget inflated, and to project power and provide a convenient excuse for proximity to our 'real' enemies.

Draping these actions under a pretense of spreading 'peace and democracy' is just a pretense and, as we can see by our track record, has nothing to do with actual victory. "Victory", depending on who you ask, is measured in years of engagement and dollars spent, period.

And because it is primarily taking place in the far away and poorly understood Middle East, it is never going to be enough of an issue with voters for politicians to have to seriously contend with.

WJ , says: April 14, 2019 at 9:13 am
This person is a crybaby. At 49 he went to a war that most rational people knew already, was an immoral, illegal waste of people, time and money. But now he wants to whine about PTSD. I have the same opinion about most soldiers who fought there also. Nobody made them volunteer for that junk war so quit whining when things get a little hard

[Apr 15, 2019] The Elite prosper from war that is why there has been continual war and slaughter on their behalf

Notable quotes:
"... In SUPERCLASS we learn that this class of people actually own and control the three largest Western religions and many of the secondary ones - they all preach obedience to authority as paramount. They also own the drugs trade around the world. 95% of the world supply of opium comes out of Afghanistan under the watchful eye of the Elite through use of the US military. ..."
"... And just as an aside to any historians out there, Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-first Century shows how a critical mass of capital was had formed 500 years ago and has grown consistently at a rate greater than the general economy ever sense. He showed that before, during and after the French Revolution and later the US "revolution" the core capital of the west made profits. These revolutions, like government today, were pantomimes whilew the real power profited from the slaughter. The Elite prosper from war that is why there has been continual war and slaughter on their behalf sinse August 6, 1945. The nuclear weapons belong to them. ..."
Apr 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Paul Damascene , Apr 14, 2019 10:19:30 AM | link

You ask a question about European political class's perception and defence of European interests that is as perplexing here as it is in regard to Libya and Syria, to name just these. There was at least some coherent defence of international law and principle during Bush II's lead up to the Iraq war, but Europe's defence of law and Europe's common interests seem to have ceased at some point since then.

pretzelattack , Apr 14, 2019 10:31:57 AM | link

so many poodles, but there can only be one alpha poodle and that's the uk so far.
Babyl-on , Apr 14, 2019 10:43:53 AM | link
"Why are they playing this game?"

Because, like the US European government is a tool of the Global Power Elite, it is nothing more than pantomime. The West is fully owned and operated by the global elite.

In books going back to C Wright Mills' The Power Elite in 1956 to SUPERCLASS by David Rothkopf, and GIANTS: The Global Power Elite by Peter Phillips clearly outline just how powerful the Global Elites really are.

In SUPERCLASS we learn that this class of people actually own and control the three largest Western religions and many of the secondary ones - they all preach obedience to authority as paramount. They also own the drugs trade around the world. 95% of the world supply of opium comes out of Afghanistan under the watchful eye of the Elite through use of the US military.

There is one and only one Western empire - that of the Global Elites.

85% of the valuable assets in the world are controlled by the Global Elites.

There is no offsetting force against them, there simply does not exist today a force capable of challenging their ownership of the world.

And just as an aside to any historians out there, Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-first Century shows how a critical mass of capital was had formed 500 years ago and has grown consistently at a rate greater than the general economy ever sense. He showed that before, during and after the French Revolution and later the US "revolution" the core capital of the west made profits. These revolutions, like government today, were pantomimes whilew the real power profited from the slaughter. The Elite prosper from war that is why there has been continual war and slaughter on their behalf sinse August 6, 1945. The nuclear weapons belong to them.

[Apr 12, 2019] Italy How to Ruin a Country in Three Decades naked capitalism

Apr 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

April 11, 2019 by Yves Smith By Servaas Storm, a Dutch economist and author who works on macroeconomics, technological progress, income distribution & economic growth, finance, development and structural change, and climate change. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

While Brexit and Trump have been making the headlines, the Italian economy has been sliding into a technical recession (again). Both the OECD and the European Central Bank (ECB) have lowered the growth forecasts for Italy to negative numbers, and in what analysts see as a precautionary move, the ECB is reviving its sovereign bond buying programme, which it had started to unwind just five months earlier.

"Don't underestimate the impact of the Italian recession," is what French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg News (Horobin 2019). "We talk a lot about Brexit, but we don't talk much about an Italian recession that will have a significant impact on growth in Europe and can impact France, because it's one of our most important trading partners." More important than trade, however, and what Le Maire is not stating, is that French banks are holding around €385 billion of Italian debt, derivatives, credit commitments and guarantees on their balance sheets, while German banks are holding €126 billion of Italian debt (as of the third quarter of 2018, according to the Bank for International Settlements).

In light of these exposures to Italian debt, it is no wonder that Le Maire, along with the European Commission, is worried by Italy's third recession in a decade -- as well as by the growing anti-euro rhetoric and posturing of Italy's coalition government, comprised by the Five-Star Movement (M5S) and the Lega. The knowledge that Italy is too big to fail is fuelling the audacity of Italy's coalition government in its attempt to reclaim fiscal policy space by openly flouting the budgetary rules of the E.U.'s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

The result is a catch-22. The more the European Commission tries to bring the Italian government into line, the more it will feed the anti-establishment and anti-euro forces in Italy. On the other hand, the more the European Commission gives in to the demands of the Italian government, the more it will fritter away its credibility as the guardian of the EMU's Stability and Growth Pact. This stalemate is not going away as long as Italy's economy remains paralyzed.

A Crisis of the Post-Maastricht Treaty Order of Italian Capitalism

It is therefore vital to understand the true origins of Italy's economic crisis in order to find pathways out of Italy's permanent stagnation. In a new paper , I provide an evidence-based pathology of Italy's recession -- which, I argue, must be regarded as a crisis of the post-Maastricht Treaty order of Italian capitalism, as Thomas Fazi (2018) calls it. Until the early 1990s, Italy enjoyed decades of relatively robust economic growth, during which it managed to catch up with other Eurozone nations in income (per person) (Figure 1). In 1960, Italy's per capita GDP (at constant 2010 prices) was 85% of French per capita GDP and 74% of (weighted average) per capita GDP in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands (the Euro-4 economies). By the mid-1990s, Italy had almost caught up with France (Italian GDP per person equalled 97% of French per capita income) and also with the Euro-4 (Italian GDP per capita was 94% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4).
Figure 1

Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real GDP per person in Italy relative to France/Euro-4, 1960-2018

Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.

But then a very steady decline began (see Figure 1), erasing decades of (income) convergence. The income gap between Italy and France is now (as of 2018) 18 percentage points, which is more than what it was in 1960; Italian GDP per capita is 76% of per capita GDP in the Euro-4 economies. Beginning in the early to mid-1990s, Italy's economy began to stumble and then fall behind, as all major indicators -- income per person, labour productivity, investment, export market shares, etc. -- began a very steady decline.

It is not a coincidence that the sudden reversal of Italy's economic fortunes occurred after Italy's adoption of the "legal and policy superstructure" imposed by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which cleared the road for the establishment of the EMU in 1999 and the introduction of the common currency in 2002. Italy, as I show in the paper, has been the star pupil in the Eurozone class -- the one economy that committed itself most strongly and consistently to the fiscal austerity and structural reforms that form the essence of the EMU macroeconomic rulebook (Costantini 2017, 2018). Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.

Perpetual Fiscal Austerity

Italy did more than most other Eurozone members in terms of self-imposed austerity and structural reform in order to satisfy the conditions of EMU (Halevi 2019). This is clear when comparing Italy's fiscal policy post-1992 to that of France and Germany. Various Italian governments ran continuous primary budget surpluses (defined as public expenditure excluding interest payments on public debt, minus public revenue), averaging 3% of GDP per year during 1995-2008. French governments, in contrast, ran primary deficits of 0.1% of GDP each year on average during the same period, while German governments managed to generate a primary surplus of 0.7% on average per year during those same 14 years. Italy's permanent primary surpluses during 1995-2008 would have reduced its public debt-to-GDP ratio by around 40 percentage points -- from 117% in 1994 to 77% in 2008 (while keeping all other factors constant). But slow (nominal) growth relative to high (nominal) interest rates pushed up the debt ratio by 23 percentage points and washed away more than half of the public debt-to-GDP reductions of 40 percentage points achieved by austerity. Could it be true that Italy's permanent austerity, intended to lower the debt ratio by running permanent primary surpluses, backfired because it slowed down economic growth?

Italy's governments (including the left-of-centre Renzi coalition) continued to run significant primary budget surpluses (of more than 1.3% of GDP on average per year) during the crisis period of 2008-2018. Showing permanent fiscal discipline was a top priority, as Prime Minister Mario Monti admitted in a 2012 interview with CNN, even if that meant "destroying domestic demand" and pushing the economy into decline. Italy's almost "Swabian" commitment to fiscal discipline stands in some contrast to the French (" laissez aller ") attitudes: The French government ran primary deficits at an average of 2% of GDP during 2008-2018 and allowed its public debt-to-GDP ratio to rise to almost 100% in 2018. The cumulative fiscal stimulus thus provided by the French state amounted to €461 billion (in constant 2010 prices), whereas the cumulative fiscal drain on Italian domestic demand was €227 billion. The Italian budget cuts show up in non-trivial declines in its public expenditure on social expenditure per person, which is now (as of 2018) around 70% of public social spending per capita in Germany and France. One doesn't dare speculate what the "Gilets Jaunes" (yellow vest) protests in France would have looked like if France had put through an Italian-style fiscal consolidation post-2008.

Permanent Real Wage Restraint

When Italy signed the Maastricht Treaty, its high rates of inflation and unemployment were regarded as major problems. Inflation was blamed on the "excessive" power of labour unions and an "excessively" centralized wage bargaining system, which resulted in strong wage-push inflation and a profit squeeze -- as wage growth tended to exceed labour productivity growth, which lowered the profit share. Seen this way, the blame for Italy's high unemployment could be shifted onto its "rigid" labour markets and too strongly protected "worker aristocracy." Bringing down inflation and restoring profitability required wage moderation, which in turn could only be achieved by a radical deregulation of labour markets, or what is euphemistically called, "structural reforms."

Italy does not have a statutory minimum wage (unlike France) and also does not have a generous unemployment benefit system (in terms of unemployment insurance replacement rates and duration, and entitlement conditions) compared with the E.U. average. Employment protection for regular employees in Italy is roughly at the same level as job protection in France and Germany. Italy's structural labour market reforms involved drastically reducing employment protection for temporary workers, and as a result, the share of temporary workers in total Italian employment increased from 10% during 1991-1993 to 18.5% in 2017. Between 1992 and 2008, total (net) employment in Italy increased by 2.4 million new jobs, of which almost three-quarters (73%) were fixed-term jobs. In France, by comparison, (net) employment grew by 3.6 million jobs during 1992-2008, of which 84% were regular (permanent) jobs and only 16% were temporary positions.

In addition, the bargaining power of unions was reduced by the abandoning of the target of full employment in favour of public debt reduction (Costantini 2017) and by a much more restrictive (anti-inflation) central bank policy and the fixed exchange rate. As a result, real wage growth per employee, which averaged 3.2% per year during 1960-1992, was lowered to a mere 0.1% per year during the period 1992-1999 and to 0.6% per annum during 1999-2008. Within the E.U., Italy's turnaround was remarkable: From 1992 through 2008, the growth of Italian real wages per worker (0.35% per year) was only half the real wage growth in the Euro-4 (0.7% per annum) and it was even lower compared to real wage growth in France (0.9% per year). Interestingly, from 1992 through2008, Italian real wage growth per employee was slightly lower than (already stingy) German real wage growth (0.4% per year). To see the long-run picture, Figure 2 plots the ratio of the real wage of an Italian worker to the real wage of the average French, German and Euro-4 worker from 1960 through2018. In the early 1960s, the average wage of Italian workers was about 85% of the French wage, and this ratio increased to 92% in 1990-1991. Starting in 1992, the Italian real wage began a steady decline in terms of the average French wage -- and in 2018, the average Italian employee earned only 75% of the wage earned by her/his French comrade. The wage gap between Italy and France is bigger today than it was in the 1960s. The same pattern holds when one compares Italian wages to German and/or Euro-4 wages.
Figure 2

Three decades of catching up, 25 years of falling behind: real wage per employee in Italy relative to France / Germany / Euro-4, 1960-2018

Source : author's calculation based on AMECO data.

Italy's wage moderation proved an effective strategy to kill three (not just two) birds with only one stone. First, wage restraint helped to bring down inflation -- to 3.4% on average per year from 1992 through 1999 (from 9.6% on average per annum from 1960-1992) and further down to 2.5% per year from 1999 through 2008 and 1.1% from 2008 through 2018. Italy is no longer prone, in a structural sense, to high and accelerating inflation. Second, wage restraint increased the labour intensity of Italy's GDP growth -- and thus reduced unemployment. Italy's unemployment rate peaked in the mid-1990s at more than 11%, but labour market deregulation and wage restraint successfully brought down unemployment to 6.1% in 2007 and 6.7% in 2008 -- which was lower than the unemployment rates of France (which equaled 8% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008) and Germany (where unemployment was 8.5% in 2007 and 7.4% in 2008). Finally, as intended, wage moderation led to a substantial increase in the profit share of Italy's GDP: The profit share rose by more than 5.5 percentage points, from 36% in 1991 to about 41.5% from 2000 through 2002, after which it stabilized around 40% until 2008. During the 1990s, the recovery of the profit share was considerably stronger in Italy than in France, and comparable to what happened in Germany -- notwithstanding the fact that Italy's profit share was already relatively high to begin with.

Italy's structural reforms of the 1990s paid off handsomely in terms of a higher profit share, in other words, and Italy's profit share remained substantially higher than that of France and Germany. With lowered inflation, effective wage restraint, declining unemployment, public indebtedness on the decline and the profit share considerably raised, Italy appeared to be set for a long period of strong growth. It did not happen. The operation was carried out successfully, but the patient died. According to the coroner's post-mortem, the cause of death was a structural lack of aggregate demand.

The Suffocation of Italian Aggregate Demand after 1992

By keeping close to the EMU rulebook, Italian economic policy created a chronic shortage of (domestic) demand. Domestic demand growth per Italian averaged 0.25% per year from 1992 through2018 -- a sharp decline compared to the domestic demand growth (of 3.3% per year) recorded from 1960 through1992 and also much below domestic demand growth (of 1.1% per person per year) in the Euro-4 countries. Italy's real export growth (per person) also declined, from 6.6% on average per year from 1960 through 1992 to 3% per year from 1992 through 2018. Average annual export growth (per person) was 4.4% in the Euro-4 countries from 1992 through 2018. Italy's chronic demand shortage reduced capacity utilization (especially in manufacturing) and this, in turn, lowered the profit rate. According to my estimates, capacity utilization in Italian manufacturing declined by a staggering 30 percentage points relative to capacity utilization in French manufacturing between 1992 and 2015.

The utilization rate of Italian manufacturing relative to German manufacturing declined from 110% in 1995 to 76% in 2008, and sunk further to 63% in 2015 -- a decline by a stunning 47 percentage points. Lower capacity utilization reduced the rate of profit in Italian manufacturing by 3 to 4 percentage points relative to French and German profit rates. This must have considerably depressed Italian manufacturing investment and growth. Let me emphasize the fact that Italy's profit rate declined even when the share of profits in income increased. This means that Italy's strategy of fiscal austerity and wage restraint proved to be counterproductive, because it failed to improve the profit rate: The drop in demand and capacity utilization had a bigger (negative) impact on firm profitability than the increase in the profit share.

As I argue in the paper, this condition of chronic demand shortage was created, in particular, by ( a ) perpetual fiscal austerity, ( b ) permanent real wage restraint, and ( c ) a lack of technological competitiveness which, in combination with an unfavourable (euro) exchange rate, reduces the ability of Italian firms to maintain their export market shares in the face of increasing competition of low-wage countries (China in particular). These three factors are depressing demand; reducing capacity utilization and lowering firm profitability; and hurting investment, innovation, and productivity growth. They are hence locking the country into a state of permanent decline, characterized by the impoverishment of the productive matrix of the Italian economy and the quality composition of its trade flows (Simonazzi et al. 2013).

Italy's manufacturing sector is not "technology intensive" and suffers from stagnating productivity. As Figures 3 and 4 illustrate, the cost competitiveness of Italian manufacturers vis-ŕ-vis the Euro-4 countries depends on low wages and not on superior productivity performance. Whereas industrial workers in France and Germany were earning €35 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) in 2015, and their colleagues in Belgium and the Netherlands earned even more, Italian workers in manufacturing were bringing home only €23 per hour (in constant 2010 prices) -- or one-third less (see Figure 3). But at the same time, industrial labour productivity per hour of work is considerably higher in France and Germany (at €53 per hour in constant 2010 prices) than in Italy, where it is around €33 per hour (Figure 4). Italian manufacturers are thus taking the low road, while firms in the Euro-4 countries are travelling on the high road. Or in other words, compared with German and French manufacturers, Italian firms suffer from a lack of technological strength, which in Germany is based on high productivity, innovative efforts and high product quality. True, Italian firms do stand out for their high relative quality in more traditional, lower-tech export products such as footwear, textiles, and other non-metallic mineral products. But they have been steadily losing ground in export markets of more dynamic products characterized by higher levels of R&D and technology intensity, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and communications equipment (Bugamelli et al. 2018).

Locked into a Position of Structural Weakness

For two reasons, this specialization in low- and low-medium technology activities locks the country into a quasi-permanent position of structural weakness. The first is that the exchange-rate elasticity of export demand is larger for traditional exports than for medium- and high-tech exports. As a result, the appreciation of the euro did hurt Italian exporters of traditional products harder than German and French firms exporting more "dynamic" goods and services. Thus, the overvalued euro penalizes Italian export growth more than it damages export growth in the Euro-4 economies.

The second factor is that Italian firms are operating in global markets which are more strongly exposed to the growing competition of low-wage countries and China in particular. In 1999, 67% of Italy's exports consisted of (traditional) products exposed to medium to high competition from Chinese firms -- compared to a similar exposure to Chinese competition of 45% of exports in France and 50% of exports in Germany (Bugamelli et al . 2018). The share of Italy's exports in world imports declined from 4.5% in 1999 to 2.9% in 2016 -- and the market share loss was heavily concentrated in more traditional market segments characterized by high exposure to Chinese competition (Bugamelli et al. 2018). As Chinese and other developing economy firms continue to expand their production capabilities and to upscale, competitive pressures will mount in medium- and medium-high tech segments as well. Italian firms have difficulties facing competition from low-wage countries: They are generally too small to wield any pricing power, too often single-product producers unable to diversify market risks, and too dependent on foreign markets, because their home market is in the doldrums.
Figure 3

Real wage per hour of work in manufacturing: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)

Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).

Figure 4 Manufacturing labour productivity per hour of work: Italy versus the Euro-4 countries, 1970-2015 (euro's, constant 2010 prices)

Source : author's calculation based on EU-KLEMS (Jäger 2017).

Italy's Permanent Crisis Is a Warning for the Eurozone

There are rational ways to get the Italian economy out of the current paralysis -- none of them easy, and all of them founded on a long-term strategy of "walking on two legs": (a) reviving domestic (and export) demand, and (b) diversifying and upgrading the productive structure and innovative capabilities and strengthening the technological competitiveness of Italy's exports (to get away from direct wage-cost competition with China). This means that both austerity and real wage growth suppression must stop. Instead, the Italian government should gear up for providing unambiguous directional thrust to the economy by means of higher public investment (in public infrastructure and "greening" and decarbonizing energy and transportation systems) and novel industrial policies to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and stronger technological competitiveness.

There is no dearth of constructive proposals by Italian economists to help their economy out of the current mess -- including Guarascio and Simonazzi (2016), Lucchese et al. (2016), Pianta et al. (2016), Mazzucato (2013), Dosi (2016), and Celi et al. (2018). These proposals all centre on creating a self-reinforcing process of investment-led and innovation-driven growth, orchestrated by an "entrepreneurial state" and founded on relatively regulated and co-ordinated firm-worker relationships, rather than on deregulated labour markets and hyper-flexible employment relations. These proposals might work well.

The same cannot be said, however, of the "one-leg" fiscal stimulus proposed by the M5S-Lega coalition government, the aim of which is a short-run revival of domestic demand by means of higher public (consumption) spending. None of the proposed spending will help solving Italy's structural problems. What is completely lacking is any longer-term directional thrust, or the second leg of a viable strategy -- which the neoliberal Lega will be unwilling to provide and the "progressive-in-name-only" M5S seems incapable of devising (Fazio 2018). Plus ça change, plus c'est la męme chose.

More importantly, any rational "two-leg" developmental strategy will be incompatible with sticking to the EMU macroeconomic rulebook and keeping financial markets calm, which are supposed to act as the disciplinarian of Eurozone sovereigns (Costantini 2018; Halevi 2019). This is clear from what happened when the M5S-Lega government came up with an expansionary Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) for 2019. The total impact of the one-leg fiscal stimulus initially proposed in the 2019 DBP amounted to an estimated 1.2% of GDP in 2019, 1.4% in 2020 and 1.3% in 2021 -- and even this minute budgetary expansion triggered strong negative responses from the European Commission and increases in Italian bond yields.

Blanchard et al. (2018, p. 2) formalize this status quo in a mechanical debt-dynamics model and conclude that the 2019 DBP risks triggering "unmanageable spreads and serious crisis, including involuntary exit from the Eurozone." Blanchard et al . (2018, p. 16) argue for a fiscally neutral budget, which they think would lead to lower interest rates and "probably" (in their words) to higher growth and employment. Equations, graphs and technocratic econospeak are competently used to turn what in fact constitutes a very modest transgression of the EMU rulebook into a low-probability- catastrophic event -- which everyone would want to avoid (see Costantini 2018). What is tragic is that the 2019 DBP does not come close to what would be needed for a rational strategy. All the sound and fury is for nothing.

Worse still is the fact that maintaining Italy's status quo, which is what a fiscally neutral budget would mean, carries a real, but unrecognized low-probability, high-impact risk: a breakdown of political and social stability in the country. Continued stagnation will feed the resentment and anti-establishment, anti-euro forces in Italy. This will destabilize not just Italy, but the entire Eurozone. Italy's crisis thus constitutes a warning to the Eurozone as a whole: Continued austerity and real wage restraint, in combination with the de-democratization of macroeconomic policymaking, make for a "dangerous game" (Costantini 2018) -- a game which risks further empowering anti-establishment forces elsewhere in the Eurozone as well.

This is like opening Pandora's box. No one can tell where this will end. Economists (including Italians) carry an enormous responsibility in all this, both because they are much to blame for the chaos and because they fail to continue to unite behind rational strategic solutions to resolve the Italian crisis. "Perhaps," John Maynard Keynes wrote, "it is historically true that no order of society ever perishes save by its own hand" (Keynes 1919). Rational economists have to prove Keynes' verdict wrong, starting in Italy -- if only because the Brexit mess appears to be beyond redemption.

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Italy: How to Ruin a Country in Three Decades | <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" />

Yikes , April 11, 2019 at 10:15 am

Article seems to ignore why Germany is holding so much Italian Debt, which to my reading is Germany wanted to create a captured market and kill off export competition with the foundation of a currency union at the exchange rates set and provision of easy credit for German goods, with the long term goal of creating a 4th Reich by means of capital slavery. Like climate change, many Italian intellectual elite knew this was going to happen, but that it would enrich them at the cost to both the old capital elite and working classes, with the bill falling due long after they had passed away.

DJG , April 11, 2019 at 11:55 am

When people talk about Italy being unstable: From the post, which describes the stability of austerity >

Italy kept closer to the rules than France and Germany and paid heavily for this: The permanent fiscal consolidation, the persistent wage restraint and the overvalued exchange rate killed Italian aggregate demand -- and the demand shortage asphyxiated the growth of output, productivity, jobs and incomes. Italy's stasis is an object lesson for all Eurozone economies, but -- paraphrasing G.B. Shaw -- as a warning, not as an example.

And people wonder why the Movimento Cinque Stelle arose? Or why Matteo Salvini, Trump imitator, now has so much influence?

All of the graphs show that the average person in Italy has been made poorer because of EU policies and the euro. The remarkable thing is that Italians still want to remain in the EU and in the euro because these supranational structures keep the Italian state in line. Yet job creation is stalled. There is a considerable brain drain. The Mezzogiorno is gradually losing population–emptying out because the economic prospects are so dire.

And the left is in collapse because of years of Renzi's Blairism / Clintonism.

This is all according to plan.

[Apr 10, 2019] Money-love [ , philochr matia] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive

Notable quotes:
"... "They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative." ..."
"... "Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways." ..."
"... MH: It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction. ..."
"... JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given. ..."
"... Neoliberalism actually started with Carter in the late 1970's, and it was Volcker's monetary assault that helped lose him the election (and of course the Iran hostage crisis). ..."
"... The outcomes were not so predetermined and could have been Carter-Callaghan rather than the Reagan-Thatcher duo that did so much to force the world along the neoliberal path, and bring us "New" Neoliberal Labour (that Thatcher actually stated was her greatest achievement) ..."
"... I think evil takes on a life of its own. Over the course of civilization it gets standardized. But what I see happening right now is a bunch of apoplectic, frantic "oligarchs" with egg on their face begging us all to help them change. ..."
"... I don't wish to mount a defense of the Republican Elite; the system did pressure towards money-love. However, there were counter balancing features. Money was vital, but so was virtue. Honour, courage, dignity were ..."
"... A Roman aristocrat had to perform the minimum set required military campaigns. Only intellectual freaks such as Cicero could climb the hierarchy without making somekind of significant military achievement. ..."
"... Caesar won the Laural crown (?) through genuine acts of bravery. Roman aristocrats risked their lives & died in war. And their troops knew it. ..."
"... Systems of Survival ..."
"... Money addiction -- I have trouble reconciling that concept with the short-term biases of the wealthy and their seeming lack of interest in economic growth. They aren't happy with a bigger slice of pie from a bigger pie. They want grow their slice from the pie relative to everyone else -- even if the pie grows smaller. Money as power, and an insatiable lust for power is more consistent with the actions of the oligarchs. ..."
"... "That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome?" -- I'm not sure this post really answered that opening question. I believe the American oligarchy, while continuing in the long tradition of oligarchic depredation, is much more rapacious than that of Rome and much more dangerous as the world rushes toward collapse. After the fossil fuels are gone there are no more. The Climate is already lurching into chaos and may have already crossed a point of no near-term return to the relatively mild and stable climate immediately preceding the Anthropocene. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 9:44 am

Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive

From what I've been able to glean regarding Roman society, wealth acquisition was strongly driven by the demands of a political order that was relatively unstructured and unstable, depending on imperial whims, favoritism, influence purchasing. In the eyes of a pleb it might look like elites were just whooping it up -- and that was certainly true -- but their fun had a systemic driver to it. To be sure you're in favor, or that your coalition is holding up, you need sesterces.

That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good order," meaning open opportunities for their own wealth grabbing. They never said they were out to destroy and loot other societies.

This is largely true, but I was gobsmacked to find Caesar, in his Commentary on the Gallic Wars, serving up an extended quote of a Gallic "state" leader exhorting his followers to fight Caesar in order to escape slavery. Caesar even allows the guy to distinguish between earlier conflicts, in which another state would invade, plunder, and then leave, from conflicts with the Romans, in which the state would be occupied forever and its people enslaved. Brunt cites Caesar as boasting the wars gained 1,000,000 slaves, a figure he regards as inflated, but he also notes that other writers of the time didn't strongly dispute it.

hemeantwell , April 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

I've got it on Kindle, so why not let Caesar report Critognatus' speech:

The Cimbri, after laying Gaul waste, and inflicting great calamities, at length departed from our country, and sought other lands; they left us our rights, laws, lands, and liberty.

But what other motive or wish have the Romans, than, induced by envy, to settle in the lands and states of those whom they have learned by fame to be noble and powerful in war, and impose on them perpetual slavery?

For they never have carried on wars on any other terms.

Carolinian , April 5, 2019 at 9:45 am

There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth.

Or as George H.W. Bush said: Voodoo economics. But he didn't stick to that position very long once Reagan took him on board.

Thanks again to NC for the great series. However this non economics person will very humbly repeat my objection that while money equals power, power doesn't necessarily have to be about money. I recently read a book about the history of the Plains indians and for them power was represented by horses–a kind of wealth to be sure–but also by bravery and skill at violence. So perhaps what we are really talking about is not economic systems and theories but this will to dominate that causes power to corrupt and creates the mindset that "too much is never enough." In other words the problem is really all about psychology with economics as a subbranch. A future era of better psychologists may produce better economists. Or here's hoping.

rod , April 5, 2019 at 11:29 am

"They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative."

"Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways."

"If we don't go for it then somebody will and we'll lose out" was the frustrating bottom line for an iron worker I was speaking with about the proposal to drop a new NFL tax payer subsidized practice facility into our already development gridlocked area. Every point I made to him circled right back to this justification.

He just couldn't conceive of an alternative and I wasn't prepared enough to offer him others.

Because nowadays we must consider the economic tradeoff on everything–just like we are told.

which brings up that sweet definition of evil by MH–within the context of JS's question about enabling Climate Change

Watt4Bob , April 5, 2019 at 11:40 am

As soon as that guy becomes more concerned about feeding his kids, and less concerned about football stadiums, it's possible he'll be much more focused, more understanding, and willing to listen to your opinion.

georgieboy , April 5, 2019 at 11:47 am

MH: It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19th-century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.

JS: I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.

This interview with Mr. Hudson has been a fascinating education. Thank you, Yves.

That said, there is a tendency, at least in the tone of the interview, to ascribe a kind of insuperable power to top-down manipulation and control by the oligarchies of which Hudson speaks. My sense is that, instead, sometimes the mass of people want to be so free of one perceived set of problems that they support stepping into another -- as in the early 1980s.

MMT and "intelligent jubilee" (i.e., the opposite of what Geithner/Obama/Benanke did) supporters -- of which I am one -- might do well to consider what preceded the so-called Reagan revolution:

Rising inflation and unemployment in the 1970s were perceived to becoming inescapable in the US political landscape of the time.

The bad news about life in the Soviet Union was leaking out faster and faster in the late 1970s, once the American media lionized the cause of refuseniks like Natan Sharansky during the Carter years. (Remember Peter Jennings covering the trials and persecution of sweet, innocent, Natan Sharansky -- the wolf who dropped his sheep's clothing once he arrived in Israel?) Sometimes bad guys provoke important news about other, more powerful, bad guys.

Thousands of American workers came home from Moscow after Carter cancelled US participation in the 1980 Olympics -- with shocking tales of just how crappy the Russians had it.

Reagan beat Carter and Anderson 51-41-7 in 1980, and Reagan then whooped Mondale 59-41 in the 1984 popular vote. Job growth had picked up, the American media was generally happy to lead cheers for the US while pummeling the nasty Soviets. It felt like the Bear that is misfortune had been satisfied with catching the Russkis.

The old joke points out that we humans instinctively know we can't outrun the Bear; the natural tendency is to therefore sometimes focus on outrunning our neighbors, so the Bear is satisfied to get them. Our ancestors were selected for that feature.

As 'hemeantwell' noted, the fact that Caesar brought home lots of slaves casts a broader light (than Mr. Hudson's interview) on for whom Caesar's revolution was intended. How might MMT advocates wrestle with the push and pull of similar 'social identity' competitions when the Bear is seen to be coming?

JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Is it possible that the bear is just as frightened of the eagle as the eagle is of the bear?

deplorado , April 5, 2019 at 6:30 pm

The bear was frightened, I can tell you, I lived behind the Iron Curtain.

But there was a lot of talk about peace. A lot. Like – everywhere. And it was not fake. People looked on Americans with genuine interest and a bit of trepidation, and of course (what proved unhealthful) desire to emulate. And they wanted to be friends and learn from them. Look at C-SPAN videos of 1989, 1990 – for example one of Soviet banking officials at a seminar with US bankers – and you will see genuine, practically childlike belief that what the US experts and and banking practitioners were saying was gospel.

Btw I don't know whether the same talk of peace was present in the US at the time. What continually strikes me is how talk of peace is utterly absent in MSM now, has been for the last 20 years that I have observed.

Lots of common sense things are absent from MSM.

JEHR , April 5, 2019 at 12:13 pm

It's so beneficial to have Mr. Hudson and others who have studied ancient history from the point of view of how money and indebtedness works to share all this learning with us. How little is the difference between ancient oligarchs and modern ones! We think our civilization is so wonderful and enlightened when it is just another part of the old system of inequality playing itself out over and over again. I too wonder how long the wheel of fortune will take to complete this particular circuit, but with climate change skulking so near, it may not be long.

Roger Boyd , April 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Neoliberalism actually started with Carter in the late 1970's, and it was Volcker's monetary assault that helped lose him the election (and of course the Iran hostage crisis). The same in the UK, with the Labour government bringing in the IMF and fighting with the unions in the later 1970s to cause the "winter of discontent" that brought in Thatcher (and without the Falklands War Thatcher would have been out after one term). Labour could have called an earlier election and probably won, but decided not to in a huge tactical mistake.

The outcomes were not so predetermined and could have been Carter-Callaghan rather than the Reagan-Thatcher duo that did so much to force the world along the neoliberal path, and bring us "New" Neoliberal Labour (that Thatcher actually stated was her greatest achievement)

https://www.salon.com/2011/02/08/lind_reaganism_carter/

eg , April 5, 2019 at 4:17 pm

My only quibble would be to point out that you are referring to the neoliberal implementation -- it's tenets are rather older, dating back at least to the 1938 Walter Lippmann Colloquium.

icancho , April 6, 2019 at 2:20 pm

And well before that, as demonstrated clearly in Quinn Slobodian's recent "Globalists".

This stimulating book considers the historical development of the nexus of ideas and policy initiatives that fall under the umbrella term 'neoliberalism' -- the political-economic structures and processes that have given us expanding 'globalizing financialization', legal trade agreements that constrain national sovereignty, massively increasing asset and income disparities, and the consequent precariousness and stress -- even misery -- afflicting most of us.

Though neoliberalism's origin is commonly associated with the Mont Pèlerin Society, founded in 1947, and prominently with the figures of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and more recently with Milton Friedman and the "Chicago Boys", Slobodian demonstrates that neoliberalism's roots reach much deeper -- into the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- indeed of all traditional off-shore empires -- following WW1, and in subsequent decolonization and the rise of new nations with aspirations of their own. In large part, neoliberal order, with its international trade deals, was a response to the "problem" posed by the demands of these diverse new nations to join the 'developed' world on an equal footing with their erstwhile colonial overlords, and to take sovereign control of their own resources.

So, contrary to conventional understanding, neoliberalism did not spring fully-formed, post-WW2, from the foreheads of Walter Lippman, von Mises, or Hayek; indeed, the cast of characters playing their parts in this developing drama is a rather large one, and their origins, interconnections, and contributions are many and diverse, and often surprising.

Scott1 , April 5, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Mankind survived the collapse of Rome. Barbarism was ascendent in the West. Civilization rose again. This time the collapse will result in barbarism at the best.

The world problem is Climate Change. Climate change is a product of overpopulation & portable energy as that which creates Climate change.

The US Treasury creates currency when Congress Votes a Bill that requires it. What is required is an MMT principled Fund that pays for renewables, energy capture, nuclear power and those new machines that suck CO2 out of the air & turn it into clean hydrocarbon fuels. The machine has been invented by Carbon Engineering. Takes up 30 acres. Hundreds of thousands are needed to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Methane was never factored in very well into the 1970s understanding of what was then called Ecology. Now we know that the Methane being released by fracking and permafrost melting is already happening and will keep happening and accelerating so that there will be a Methane Bubble Melt. 10 to 15 years and all the Methane will melt.

I see what was expected to happen to earth with a population of 9 billion as happening at 7.5 billon or exactly where we are now. The expectation was that 9 billion was sustainable. 13 billion was said to be sustainable for 3 weeks.

Coral reefs are dying. Insects are dying. Diatoms are the bottom of the food chain in the oceans. They are dependent on coral reefs. Birds depend on insects and their populations are dwindling.

I consider MMT, the work of conceptual art that allows currency to be generated by bills passed by governments, or a World government, as a Last Chance Concept.

"The civilized work for what they want, while the barbarians steal what they want." In my civilization I am paid to do work. Concepts are made real as money is given out for what is not yet real. The young want to have families and the old want the world they helped build and make safe survive. Such compulsions are innate and often ethical. It is simply unethical to leave the world worse than you found it.

Idea to idea to real & Ideal is ideal. The American philosophy is ethical eclectic pragmatism. Climate Change is not just to be fought because it will get hotter but because the food chain will collapse. Other than from the MMT Funding for what it will take to possibly protect the food chain, what have we?

Thanks

Susan the other` , April 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm

I think evil takes on a life of its own. Over the course of civilization it gets standardized. But what I see happening right now is a bunch of apoplectic, frantic "oligarchs" with egg on their face begging us all to help them change.

And none of us feel much warmth toward them. Somehow in the late 70s we the people, the laborers, small farmers, and mom & pops and small business got blamed for everything that went wrong. And austerity was force-fed to us. What went wrong was actually military hubris. Now there's an example of non-productive interest inflating away the empire. If the money had been used rationally we'd have created an equal, balanced society and encouraged others by our example. Humans have always chosen the things that work best. Somewhere, mid-century we freaked out and decided that we needed to control oil and growth but we were literally overtaken by our own successes – big agriculture, population growth and ponzi economics. The thing we have to do now is bring this mess back down to Earth. Requiring a fundamental change.

To change everything and turn it around. No more little tweaks of denial. Instead of the once successful "industrial" capitalism, what we must have now is environmental capitalism. Value and share the gains of preserving the planet. It sounds like a full reversion to a time before money, which is the symbol of material exploitation.

And it just so happens we still have the instinct for cooperation. The gains can be distributed to everyone. We just must find ways that preserve rather than destroy the planet. Same idea, different god. There are plenty of jobs to go around. We have good science and technology. We're not total idiots, yet. It only takes a minority of people to see the light and everything will change. I do think we are already there, except for the shouting, as they say.

Summer , April 5, 2019 at 4:59 pm

But those holding and near the levers of power are really sick and deluded individuals. And we have to understand this about the nukes (post 1945): They exist in case the USA loses a big war or doesn't get its way. Yes, that is the level of depravity that has developed.

flora , April 5, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Thanks so much for this series of posts on the ancient world and its comparison to today. I once read Seneca's "Letters from a Stoic" and was surprised to see/realize the considerable apparent overlap between stoicism – which was itself the continuation of an earlier tradition – and the early Christian church.

There is much in this series of posts to ponder.

The Rev Kev , April 6, 2019 at 12:00 am

A great article this with lots to chew on. What he says rings true from what I have read. After the second Punic war, Roman veterans found that the wealthy had seized their small farm holdings while they were gone and incorporated them into their own estates. These were to become the great Latifundium. Meanwhile, the dispossessed Romans veterans made their way to Rome and joined the plebs there. Over time, as the Roman army could not recruit these same type of landed men as the smaller holdings were being eliminated, the Romans had to resort to a professional standing body which no longer owed their allegiance to Rome but to whatever Roman general paid them – with disastrous results. Caesar was not the first here and the name Sulla also comes to mind. By the end of the empire the Romans were resorting to paying barbarian tribes to fight for them which worked, until it didn't. So in short, the greed of the wealthy in Rome destroyed the very thing that had made Rome so successful and resilient.

animalogic , April 6, 2019 at 8:09 am

I don't wish to mount a defense of the Republican Elite; the system did pressure towards money-love. However, there were counter balancing features. Money was vital, but so was virtue. Honour, courage, dignity were required.

A Roman aristocrat had to perform the minimum set required military campaigns. Only intellectual freaks such as Cicero could climb the hierarchy without making somekind of significant military achievement.

Caesar won the Laural crown (?) through genuine acts of bravery. Roman aristocrats risked their lives & died in war. And their troops knew it.

Other factors also tended to mitigate against the oligarchic instinct. For instance, Senators were legally barred from trade or money lending (& yes, they often got around such bans. ) Sumptuary laws were tried (& failed).

It should also be remembered that for all the economic polarisation, Roman citizenship was highly valued. The Roman's won the 2nd Punic , essentially because Hannibal fundamentally miscalculated -- Roman allies, Latins etc did not go over to Hannibal in hordes. They stayed loyal.

Mel , April 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

In Systems of Survival , Jane Jacobs meditated on different power structures. Some required virtus , steadfastness, etc., others, notably money power didn't.

Somebody, somewhere, wrote about alchemy's response to money, in seeking the Philosopher's Stone. That would be a chemical that could be transformed into anything in a chemical reaction, rather as money could in the market. I thought it was in Graeber's Debt , but it's not showing up there.

Amfortas the hippie , April 7, 2019 at 8:16 am

Philosopher's Stone= the Replicator Tech in Star Trek. costless production of basic needs. add in warp drive(=unlimited expansion, limited time-cost), and the inherent human traits that cause all the problems(ie: greed, etc) are overcome without having to fix/eliminate them just give them somewhere to go.(this is why i'm all for asteroid mining)

Mel , April 7, 2019 at 9:00 am

Boz Scaggs explained how money's unlimited shape-shifting power makes it infinitely attractive:

If you can be
Anyone you want to be,
Why'd you want to be
Someone else?

Jeremy Grimm , April 6, 2019 at 1:42 am

Several things trouble me about this post. People believe there is no alternative -- I disagree with that view. I'd restate the assertion as great efforts are and have been made to convince people there is no alternative. You don't need to be my age to learn a little about tax rates in the Eisenhower years. The economy did all right then. My impression talking with young people isn't that they believe there is no alternative, instead they have no idea how to make things change for the better, and neither do us old farts. Our democracy is broken. It no longer cares for the public good.

Money addiction -- I have trouble reconciling that concept with the short-term biases of the wealthy and their seeming lack of interest in economic growth. They aren't happy with a bigger slice of pie from a bigger pie. They want grow their slice from the pie relative to everyone else -- even if the pie grows smaller. Money as power, and an insatiable lust for power is more consistent with the actions of the oligarchs.

I think the concept of growth which shows up in several parts of the post needs some adjustment. Growth is tied to the consumption of fossil fuels as is increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are nearing points of declining and unstable production. Unless growth can be decoupled from fossil fuels all the imperial control of what fossil fuels remain will do little but extend our time at the expense of others as we all race toward a point of collapse.

Some of the discussion of Neoliberalism confuses me. -- Neoliberalism is not the same as laissez-faire or neoclassical economics.

"That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome?" -- I'm not sure this post really answered that opening question. I believe the American oligarchy, while continuing in the long tradition of oligarchic depredation, is much more rapacious than that of Rome and much more dangerous as the world rushes toward collapse. After the fossil fuels are gone there are no more. The Climate is already lurching into chaos and may have already crossed a point of no near-term return to the relatively mild and stable climate immediately preceding the Anthropocene.

Thermonuclear weapons scattered in many hands adds existential danger to the threats posed by the American oligarchy and Power Elite structures and their insane lust for power.

Other than these quibbles, this is a remarkable series of posts presenting what to me is a very new view of the ancient world. It offers a much better understanding of the ancient world and some of its key literature and early writings. Time to order some books [I still haven't ordered a copy of "Forgive Them Their Debts" and now have to add a copy of this most recent book.]

McWatt , April 6, 2019 at 7:18 am

Had lunch with one of the "Chicago Boys" that Hudson describes as the source of economics current woes.

After that lunch, which was a discussion of many of Michael's themes, I completely agree with his assessment of what they have wrought. While the Chicago Boys may profess to have Mill and Ricardo as hero's, as Hudson does, Mills and Ricardo's theories are obliterated by the way the Chicago Boys have completely fallen in love with Ayn Rand's philosophy. Everyone is on their own. The rich are rich because they are naturally better at stuff than those who are not. They hate government regulation, they view government as the creator of problems, they have no compunction for watching the population sink into debt and penury. After all "it's their own look out".

Funny, when you read things abstractly on a wonderful site like Naked Capitalism, but then witness this terrible philosophy first hand, suddenly things are not so abstract. Michael's right.

[Apr 09, 2019] The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The destruction of Syria and Libya created massive refugee flows which have proved that the European Union was totally unprepared to deal with such a major issue. On top of that, the latest years, we have witnessed a rapid rise of various terrorist attacks in Western soil, also as a result of the devastating wars in Syria and Libya. ..."
"... Whenever they wanted to blame someone for some serious terrorist attacks, they had a scapegoat ready for them, even if they had evidence that Libya was not behind these attacks. When Gaddafi falsely admitted that he had weapons of mass destruction in order to gain some relief from the Western sanctions, they presented him as a responsible leader who, was ready to cooperate. Of course, his last role was to play again the 'bad guy' who had to be removed. ..."
"... Despite the rise of Donald Trump in power, the neoliberal forces will push further for the expansion of the neoliberal doctrine in the rival field of the Sino-Russian alliance. ..."
"... We see, however, that the Western alliances are entering a period of severe crisis. The US has failed to control the situation in Middle East and Libya. The ruthless neo-colonialists will not hesitate to confront Russia and China directly, if they see that they continue to lose control in the global geopolitical arena. The accumulation of military presence of NATO next to the Russian borders, as well as, the accumulation of military presence of the US in Asia-Pacific, show that this is an undeniable fact. ..."
Apr 09, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

The start of current decade revealed the most ruthless face of a global neo-colonialism. From Syria and Libya to Europe and Latin America, the old colonial powers of the West tried to rebound against an oncoming rival bloc led by Russia and China, which starts to threaten their global domination.

Inside a multi-polar, complex terrain of geopolitical games, the big players start to abandon the old-fashioned, inefficient direct wars. They use today other, various methods like brutal proxy wars , economic wars, financial and constitutional coups, provocative operations, 'color revolutions', etc. In this highly complex and unstable situation, when even traditional allies turn against each other as the global balances change rapidly, the forces unleashed are absolutely destructive. Inevitably, the results are more than evident.

Proxy Wars - Syria/Libya

After the US invasion in Iraq, the gates of hell had opened in the Middle East. Obama continued the Bush legacy of US endless interventions, but he had to change tactics because a direct war would be inefficient, costly and extremely unpopular to the American people and the rest of the world.
The result, however, appeared to be equally (if not more) devastating with the failed US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US had lost total control of the armed groups directly linked with the ISIS terrorists, failed to topple Assad, and, moreover, instead of eliminating the Russian and Iranian influence in the region, actually managed to increase it. As a result, the US and its allies failed to secure their geopolitical interests around the various pipeline games.

In addition, the US sees Turkey, one of its most important ally, changing direction dangerously, away from the Western bloc. Probably the strongest indication for this, is that Turkey, Iran and Russia decided very recently to proceed in an agreement on Syria without the presence of the US.

Yet, the list of US failures does not end here. The destruction of Syria and Libya created massive refugee flows which have proved that the European Union was totally unprepared to deal with such a major issue. On top of that, the latest years, we have witnessed a rapid rise of various terrorist attacks in Western soil, also as a result of the devastating wars in Syria and Libya.

Evidence from WikiLeaks has shown that the old colonial powers have started a new round of ruthless competition on Libya's resources. The usual story propagated by the Western media, about another tyrant who had to be removed, has now completely collapsed. They don't care neither to topple an 'authoritarian' regime, nor to spread Democracy. All they care about is to secure each country's resources for their big companies.
The Gaddafi case is quite interesting because it shows that the Western hypocrites were using him according to their interests .

Whenever they wanted to blame someone for some serious terrorist attacks, they had a scapegoat ready for them, even if they had evidence that Libya was not behind these attacks. When Gaddafi falsely admitted that he had weapons of mass destruction in order to gain some relief from the Western sanctions, they presented him as a responsible leader who, was ready to cooperate. Of course, his last role was to play again the 'bad guy' who had to be removed.

Economic Wars, Financial Coups – Greece/Eurozone

It would be unthinkable for the neo-colonialists to conduct proxy wars inside European soil, especially against countries which belong to Western institutions like NATO, EU, eurozone, etc. The wave of the US-made major economic crisis hit Greece and Europe at the start of the decade, almost simultaneously with the eruption of the Arab Spring revolutionary wave and the subsequent disaster in Middle East and Libya.

Greece was the easy victim for the global neoliberal dictatorship to impose catastrophic measures in favor of the plutocracy. The Greek experiment enters its seventh year and the plan is to be used as a model for the whole eurozone. Greece has become also the model for the looting of public property, as happened in the past with the East Germany and the Treuhand Operation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

While Greece was the major victim of an economic war, Germany used its economic power and control of the European Central Bank to impose unprecedented austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction through silent financial coups in Ireland , Italy and Cyprus . The Greek political establishment collapsed with the rise of SYRIZA in power, and the ECB was forced to proceed in an open financial coup against Greece when the current PM, Alexis Tsipras, decided to conduct a referendum on the catastrophic measures imposed by the ECB, IMF and the European Commission, through which the Greek people clearly rejected these measures, despite the propaganda of terror inside and outside Greece. Due to the direct threat from Mario Draghi and the ECB, who actually threatened to cut liquidity sinking Greece into a financial chaos, Tsipras finally forced to retreat, signing another catastrophic memorandum.

Through similar financial and political pressure, the Brussels bureaufascists and the German sado-monetarists along with the IMF economic hitmen, imposed neoliberal disaster to other eurozone countries like Portugal, Spain etc. It is remarkable that even the second eurozone economy, France, rushed to impose anti-labor measures midst terrorist attacks, succumbing to a - pre-designed by the elites - neo-Feudalism, under the 'Socialist' François Hollande, despite the intense protests in many French cities.

Germany would never let the United States to lead the neo-colonization in Europe, as it tries (again) to become a major power with its own sphere of influence, expanding throughout eurozone and beyond. As the situation in Europe becomes more and more critical with the ongoing economic and refugee crisis and the rise of the Far-Right and the nationalists, the economic war mostly between the US and the German big capital, creates an even more complicated situation.

The decline of the US-German relations has been exposed initially with the NSA interceptions scandal , yet, progressively, the big picture came on surface, revealing a transatlantic economic war between banking and corporate giants. In times of huge multilevel crises, the big capital always intensifies its efforts to eliminate competitors too. As a consequence, the US has seen another key ally, Germany, trying to gain a certain degree of independence in order to form its own agenda, separate from the US interests.

Note that, both Germany and Turkey are medium powers that, historically, always trying to expand and create their own spheres of influence, seeking independence from the traditional big powers.

Economic Wars, Constitutional Coups, Provocative Operations – Argentina/Brazil/Venezuela

A wave of neoliberal onslaught shakes currently Latin America. While in Argentina, Mauricio Macri allegedly took the power normally, the constitutional coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, as well as, the usual actions of the Right opposition in Venezuela against Nicolás Maduro with the help of the US finger, are far more obvious.
The special weight of these three countries in Latin America is extremely important for the US imperialism to regain ground in the global geopolitical arena. Especially the last ten to fifteen years, each of them developed increasingly autonomous policies away from the US close custody, under Leftist governments, and this was something that alarmed the US imperialism components.

Brazil appears to be the most important among the three, not only due to its size, but also as a member of the BRICS, the team of fast growing economies who threaten the US and generally the Western global dominance. The constitutional coup against Rousseff was rather a sloppy action and reveals the anxiety of the US establishment to regain control through puppet regimes. This is a well-known situation from the past through which the establishment attempts to secure absolute dominance in the US backyard.

The importance of Venezuela due to its oil reserves is also significant. When Maduro tried to approach Russia in order to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries, he must had set the alarm for the neocons in the US. Venezuela could find an alternative in Russia and BRICS, in order to breathe from the multiple economic war that was set off by the US. It is characteristic that the economic war against Russia by the US and the Saudis, by keeping the oil prices in historically low levels, had significant impact on the Venezuelan economy too. It is also known that the US organizations are funding the opposition since Chávez era, in order to proceed in provocative operations that could overthrow the Leftist governments.

The case of Venezuela is really interesting. The US imperialists were fiercely trying to overthrow the Leftist governments since Chávez administration. They found now a weaker president, Nicolás Maduro - who certainly does not have the strength and personality of Hugo Chávez - to achieve their goal.

The Western media mouthpieces are doing their job, which is propaganda as usual. The recipe is known. You present the half truth, with a big overdose of exaggeration. The establishment parrots are demonizing Socialism , but they won't ever tell you about the money that the US is spending, feeding the Right-Wing groups and opposition to proceed in provocative operations, in order to create instability. They won't tell you about the financial war conducted through the oil prices, manipulated by the Saudis, the close US ally.

Regarding Argentina, former president, Cristina Kirchner, had also made some important moves towards the stronger cooperation with Russia, which was something unacceptable for Washington's hawks. Not only for geopolitical reasons, but also because Argentina could escape from the vulture funds that sucking its blood since its default. This would give the country an alternative to the neoliberal monopoly of destruction. The US big banks and corporations would never accept such a perspective because the debt-enslaved Argentina is a golden opportunity for a new round of huge profits. It's happening right now in eurozone's debt colony, Greece.

'Color Revolutions' - Ukraine

The events in Ukraine have shown that, the big capital has no hesitation to ally even with the neo-nazis, in order to impose the new world order. This is not something new of course. The connection of Hitler with the German economic oligarchs, but also with other major Western companies, before and during the WWII, is well known.

The most terrifying of all however, is not that the West has silenced in front of the decrees of the new Ukrainian leadership, through which is targeting the minorities, but the fact that the West allied with the neo-nazis, while according to some information has also funded their actions as well as other extreme nationalist groups during the riots in Kiev.

Plenty of indications show that US organizations have 'put their finger' on Ukraine. A video , for example, concerning the situation in Ukraine has been directed by Ben Moses (creator of the movie "Good Morning, Vietnam"), who is connected with American government executives and organizations like National Endowment for Democracy, funded by the US Congress. This video shows a beautiful young female Ukrainian who characterizes the government of the country as "dictatorship" and praise some protesters with the neo-nazi symbols of the fascist Ukranian party Svoboda on them.

The same organizations are behind 'color revolutions' elsewhere, as well as, provocative operations against Leftist governments in Venezuela and other countries.

Ukraine is the perfect place to provoke Putin and tight the noose around Russia. Of course the huge hypocrisy of the West can also be identified in the case of Crimea. While in other cases, the Western officials were 'screaming' for the right of self-determination (like Kosovo, for example), after they destroyed Yugoslavia in a bloodbath, they can't recognize the will of the majority of Crimeans to join Russia.

The war will become wilder

The Western neo-colonial powers are trying to counterattack against the geopolitical upgrade of Russia and the Chinese economic expansionism.

Despite the rise of Donald Trump in power, the neoliberal forces will push further for the expansion of the neoliberal doctrine in the rival field of the Sino-Russian alliance. Besides, Trump has already shown his hostile feelings against China, despite his friendly approach to Russia and Putin.

We see, however, that the Western alliances are entering a period of severe crisis. The US has failed to control the situation in Middle East and Libya. The ruthless neo-colonialists will not hesitate to confront Russia and China directly, if they see that they continue to lose control in the global geopolitical arena. The accumulation of military presence of NATO next to the Russian borders, as well as, the accumulation of military presence of the US in Asia-Pacific, show that this is an undeniable fact.

[Apr 09, 2019] The USA increased trade surplus with Ukraine to $1.13 Billion. Considering Ukraine is impoverished and living on handout that's quite an achievement.

Apr 09, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

For its part, the United States insists on running Ukraine, appointing a special envoy – Kurt Volker – to preserve its feeling of international importance after it was pointedly left out of the Normandy Format; Meddlers R Us; we don't need no steenking invitations.

A glance over trade statistics suggests this was a wise choice for the Exceptional Nation – the year before the Glorious Maidan, Revolution of Dignity, the USA did around $3 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $1.92 Billion worth of goods and services, and buying $1.03 Billion worth of goods and services from it, posting an American trade surplus of $888 Million. Last year the USA did around $4 Billion worth of trade with Ukraine, selling it $2.46 Billion in goods and services, and buying $1.35 Billion worth of goods and services from it, handsomely increasing the American trade surplus to $1.13 Billion. Considering Ukraine is impoverished and living on handouts, while the per-capita GDP has fallen by more than 6% despite the country having lost about 3 million people (Ukraine's population today is almost exactly what it was in 1960), that's quite an achievement.

[Apr 08, 2019] A Quarter Century of War The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990 2016 by David North

New book by David North A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990–2016
Notable quotes:
"... "Landler informs his readers that Obama "went for a walk among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan." He recalls a passage from Obama's 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Prize, in which the president wearily lamented that humanity needed to reconcile "two seemingly irreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly." ..."
"... Typical American philosophy... "War is peace!"... ..."
Jul 11, 2016 | www.wsws.org

We publish here the preface to A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony, 1990-2016 by David North. The book will be published on August 10, and is available for preorder today at Mehring Books in both softcover and hardcover .

***

"In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom."

-- Leon Trotsky, 1928

"U.S. capitalism is up against the same problems that pushed Germany in 1914 on the path of war. The world is divided? It must be redivided. For Germany it was a question of 'organizing Europe.' The United States must 'organize' the world. History is bringing mankind face to face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism."

-- Leon Trotsky, 1934

This volume consists of political reports, public lectures, party statements, essays, and polemics that document the response of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) to the quarter century of US-led wars that began in 1990–91. The analyses of events presented here, although written as they were unfolding, stand the test of time. The International Committee does not possess a crystal ball. But its work is informed by a Marxist understanding of the contradictions of American and world imperialism. Moreover, the Marxist method of analysis examines events not as a sequence of isolated episodes, but as moments in the unfolding of a broader historical process. This historically oriented approach serves as a safeguard against an impressionistic response to the latest political developments. It recognizes that the essential cause of an event is rarely apparent at the moment of its occurrence.

Much of what passes for analysis in the bourgeois press consists of nothing more than equating an impressionistic description of a given event with its deeper cause. This sort of political analysis legitimizes US wars as necessary responses to one or another personification of evil, such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the "warlord" Farah Aideed in Somalia, Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda, the Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya; and, most recently, Bashar al Assad in Syria, Kim Jong Un in Korea, and Vladimir Putin in Russia. New names are continually added to the United States' infinitely expandable list of monsters requiring destruction.

The material in this volume is the record of a very different and far more substantial approach to the examination of the foreign policy of the United States.

First, and most important, the International Committee interpreted the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989–90, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, as an existential crisis of the entire global nation-state system, as it emerged from the ashes of World War II. Second, the ICFI anticipated that the breakdown of the established postwar equilibrium would lead rapidly to a resurgence of imperialist militarism. As far back as August 1990 -- twenty-six years ago -- it was able to foresee the long-term implications of the Bush administration's war against Iraq:

It marks the beginning of a new imperialist redivision of the world. The end of the postwar era means the end of the postcolonial era. As it proclaims the "failure of socialism," the imperialist bourgeoisie, in deeds if not yet in words, proclaims the failure of independence. The deepening crisis confronting all the major imperialist powers compels them to secure control over strategic resources and markets. Former colonies, which had achieved a degree of political independence, must be resubjugated. In its brutal assault against Iraq, imperialism is giving notice that it intends to restore the type of unrestrained domination of the backward countries that existed prior to World War II. [ 1 ]

This historically grounded analysis provided the essential framework for an understanding, not only of the 1990–91 Gulf War, but also of the wars that were launched later in the decade, as well as the post-9/11 "War on Terror."

In a recently published front-page article, the New York Times called attention to a significant milestone in the presidency of Barack Obama: "He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president." But with several months remaining in his term in office, he is on target to set yet another record. The Times wrote:

If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama's term -- a near-certainty given the president's recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria -- he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war. [ 2 ]

On the way to setting his record, Mr. Obama has overseen lethal military actions in a total of seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. The number of countries is growing, as the United States escalates its military operations in Africa. The efforts to suppress the Boko Haram insurgency involve a buildup of US forces in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Without any sense of irony, Mark Landler, author of the Times article, notes Obama's status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2009. He portrays the president as "trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate. . . ." Obama "has wrestled with this immutable reality [of war] from his first year in the White House . . ."

Landler informs his readers that Obama "went for a walk among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan." He recalls a passage from Obama's 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Prize, in which the president wearily lamented that humanity needed to reconcile "two seemingly irreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly."

During the Obama years, folly has clearly held the upper hand. But there is nothing that Landler's hero can do. Obama has found his wars "maddeningly hard to end."

The Times ' portrayal of Obama lacks the essential element required by genuine tragedy: the identification of objective forces, beyond his control, that frustrated and overwhelmed the lofty ideals and humanitarian aspirations of the president. If Mr. Landler wants his readers to shed a tear for this peace-loving man who, upon becoming president, made drone killings his personal specialty, and turned into something akin to a moral monster, the Times correspondent should have attempted to identify the historical circumstances that determined Obama's "tragic" fate.

But this is a challenge the Times avoids. It fails to relate Obama's war-making record to the entire course of American foreign policy over the past quarter century. Even before Obama entered office in 2009, the United States had been at war on an almost continuous basis since the first US-Iraq War of 1990–91.

The pretext for the Gulf War was Iraq's annexation of Kuwait in August 1990. But the violent US reaction to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's dispute with the emir of Kuwait was determined by broader global conditions and considerations. The historical context of the US military operation was the imminent dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was finally carried out in December 1991. The first President Bush declared the beginning of a "New World Order." [ 3 ] What Bush meant by this phrase was that the United States was now free to restructure the world in the interests of the American capitalist class, unencumbered by either the reality of the countervailing military power of the Soviet Union or the specter of socialist revolution. The dissolution of the USSR, hailed by Francis Fukuyama as the "End of History," signified for the strategists of American imperialism the end of military restraint.

It is one of the great ironies of history that the definitive emergence of the United States as the dominant imperialist power, amid the catastrophe of World War I, coincided with the outbreak of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which culminated in the establishment of the first socialist workers state in history, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party. On April 3, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson delivered his war message to the US Congress and led the United States into the global imperialist conflict. Two weeks later, V.I. Lenin returned to Russia, which was in the throes of revolution, and reoriented the Bolshevik Party toward the fight to overthrow the bourgeois Provisional Government.

Lenin and his principal political ally, Leon Trotsky, insisted that the struggle for socialism was indissolubly linked to the struggle against war. As the historian R. Craig Nation has argued:

For Lenin there was no doubt that the revolution was the result of a crisis of imperialism and that the dilemmas which it posed could only be resolved on the international level. The campaign for proletarian hegemony in Russia, the fight against the war, and the international struggle against imperialism were now one and the same. [ 4 ]

Just as the United States was striving to establish its position as the arbiter of the world's destiny, it faced a challenge, in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution, not only to the authority of American imperialism, but also to the economic, political, and even moral legitimacy of the entire capitalist world order. "The rhetoric and actions of the Bolsheviks," historian Melvyn P. Leffler has written, "ignited fear, revulsion and uncertainty in Washington." [ 5 ]

Another perceptive historian of US foreign policy explained:

The great majority of American leaders were so deeply concerned with the Bolshevik Revolution because they were so uneasy about what President Wilson called the "general feeling of revolt" against the existing order, and about the increasing intensity of that dissatisfaction. The Bolshevik Revolution became in their minds the symbol of all the revolutions that grew out of that discontent. And that is perhaps the crucial insight into the tragedy of American diplomacy. [ 6 ]

In a desperate effort to destroy the new revolutionary regime, Wilson sent an expeditionary force to Russia in 1918, in support of counterrevolutionary forces in the brutal civil war. The intervention was an ignominious failure.

It was not until 1933 that the United States finally granted diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union. The diplomatic rapprochement was facilitated in part by the fact that the Soviet regime, now under Stalin's bureaucratic dictatorship, was in the process of repudiating the revolutionary internationalism that had inspired the Bolsheviks in 1917. It was abandoning the perspective of world revolution in favor of alliances with imperialist states on the basis of "collective security." Unable to secure such an alliance with Britain and France, Stalin signed the notorious Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler in August 1939. Following Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and the entry of the United States into World War II in December 1941, the exigencies of the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan required that the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt forge a military alliance with the Soviet Union. But once Germany and Japan were defeated, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union rapidly deteriorated. The Truman administration, opposing the extension of Soviet influence into Eastern Europe, and frightened by the growth of Communist parties in Western Europe, launched the Marshall Plan in 1948 and triggered the onset of the Cold War.

The Kremlin regime pursued nationalistic policies, based on the Stalinist program of "socialism in one country," and betrayed working class and anti-imperialist movements all over the world. But the very existence of a regime that arose out of a socialist revolution had a politically radicalizing impact throughout the world. William Appleman Williams was certainly correct in his view that "American leaders were for many, many years more afraid of the implicit and indirect challenge of the revolution than they were of the actual power of the Soviet Union." [ 7 ]

In the decades that followed World War II, the United States was unable to ignore the existence of the Soviet Union. To the extent that the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949, provided limited political and material support to anti-imperialist movements in the "Third World," they denied the US ruling class a free hand in the pursuit of its own interests. These limitations were demonstrated -- to cite the most notable examples -- by the US defeats in Korea and Vietnam, the compromise settlement of the Cuban missile crisis, and the acceptance of Soviet domination of the Baltic region and Eastern Europe.

The existence of the Soviet Union and an anticapitalist regime in China deprived the United States of the possibility of unrestricted access to and exploitation of the human labor, raw materials, and potential markets of a large portion of the globe, especially the Eurasian land mass. It compelled the United States to compromise, to a greater degree than it would have preferred, in negotiations over economic and strategic issues with its major allies in Europe and Asia, as well as with smaller countries that exploited the tactical opportunities provided by the US-Soviet Cold War.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, combined with the restoration of capitalism in China following the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989, was seen by the American ruling class as an opportunity to repudiate the compromises of the post-World War II era, and to carry out a restructuring of global geopolitics, with the aim of establishing the hegemony of the United States.

There was no small element of self-delusion in the grandiose American response to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The bombastic claims that the United States had won the Cold War were based far more on myth than reality. In fact, the sudden dissolution of the Soviet Union took the entire Washington foreign policy establishment by surprise. In February 1987, the Council on Foreign Relations published an assessment of US-Soviet relations, authored by two of its most eminent Sovietologists, Strobe Talbott and Michael Mandelbaum. Analyzing the discussions between Reagan and Gorbachev at meetings in Geneva and Reykjavik in 1986, the two experts concluded:

No matter how Gorbachev comes to define perestroika in practice and no matter how he modifies the official definition of security, the Soviet Union will resist pressure for change, whether it comes from without or within, from the top or the bottom. The fundamental conditions of Soviet-American relations are therefore likely to persist. This, in turn, means that the ritual of Soviet-American summitry is likely to have a long run. . . . [ 8 ]

The "long run," Talbott and Mandelbaum predicted, would continue not only during the reign of "Gorbachev's successor," but also his "successor's successor." No substantial changes in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were to be expected. The two prophets from the Council on Foreign Relations concluded:

Whoever they are, and whatever changes have occurred in the meantime, the American and Soviet leaders of the next century will be wrestling with the same great issue -- how to manage their rivalry so as to avoid nuclear catastrophe -- that has engaged the energies, in the latter half of the 1980s, of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. [ 9 ]

In contrast to the Washington experts, who foresaw nothing, the International Committee recognized that the Gorbachev regime marked a climactic stage in the crisis of Stalinism. "The crisis of Gorbachev," it declared in a statement dated March 23, 1987, "has emerged as every section of world Stalinism confronts economic convulsions and upheavals by the masses. In every case -- from Beijing to Belgrade -- the response of the Stalinist bureaucrats has been to turn ever more openly toward capitalist restorationism." [ 10 ]

The Cold War victory narrative encouraged, within the ruling elite, a disastrous overestimation of the power and potential of American capitalism. The drive for hegemony assumed the ability of the US to contain the economic and political centrifugal forces unleashed by the operation of global capitalism. Even at the height of its power, such an immense project was well beyond the capacities of the United States. But amid the euphoria generated by the end of the Soviet Union, the ruling class chose to ignore the deep-rooted and protracted crisis of American society. An objective observer, examining the conditions of both the United States and the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1990, might well have wondered which regime was in greater crisis. During the three decades that preceded the dissolution of the USSR, the United States exhibited high levels of political, social, and economic instability.

Consider the fate of the presidential administrations in power during those three decades: (1) The Kennedy administration ended tragically in November 1963 with a political assassination, in the midst of escalating social tensions and international crises; (2) Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy's successor, was unable to seek reelection in 1968, as a result of urban riots and mass opposition to the US invasion of Vietnam; (3) Richard Nixon was compelled to resign from office in August 1974, after the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee voted for his impeachment on charges related to his criminal subversion of the Constitution; (4) Gerald Ford, who became president upon Nixon's resignation, was defeated in the November 1976 election amid popular revulsion over Nixon's crimes and the US military debacle in Vietnam; (5) Jimmy Carter's one term in office was dominated by an inflationary crisis that sent the federal prime interest rate to 20 percent, a bitter three month national coal miners strike, and the aftershocks generated by the Iranian Revolution; and (6) Ronald Reagan's years in office, despite all the ballyhoo about "morning in America," were characterized by recession, bitter social tension, and a series of foreign policy disasters in the Middle East and Central America. The exposure of an illegal scheme to finance paramilitary operations in Nicaragua (the Iran-Contra crisis) brought Reagan to the very brink of impeachment. His administration was saved by the leadership of the Democratic Party, which had no desire to remove from office a president who was politically weakened and already exhibiting signs of dementia.

The one persistent factor that confronted all these administrations, from Kennedy to Reagan, was the erosion in the global economic position of the United States. The unquestioned dominance of American finance and industry at the end of World War II provided the economic underpinnings of the Bretton Woods system of dollar-gold convertibility that formed the basis of global capitalist growth and stability. By the late 1950s, the system was coming under increasing strain. It was during the Kennedy administration that unfavorable tendencies in the US balance of trade first began to arouse significant concern. On August 15, 1971, Nixon suddenly ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed international exchange rates, pegged to a US dollar convertible at the rate of $35 per ounce of gold. During the 1970s and 1980s, the decline in the exchange rate of the dollar mirrored the deterioration of the American economy.

The belligerent response of the United States to the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union reflected the weakness, not the strength, of American capitalism. The overwhelming support within the ruling elite for a highly aggressive foreign policy arose from the delusion that the United States could reverse the protracted erosion of its global economic position through the deployment of its immense military power.

The Defense Planning Guidance, drafted by the Department of Defense in February 1992, unambiguously asserted the hegemonic ambitions of US imperialism:

There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor. [ 11 ]

The 1990s saw a persistent use of US military power, most notably in the first Gulf War, followed by its campaign to break up Yugoslavia. The brutal restructuring of the Balkan states, which provoked a fratricidal civil war, culminated in the US-led 1999 bombing campaign to compel Serbia to accept the secession of the province of Kosovo. Other major military operations during that decade included the intervention in Somalia, which ended in disaster, the military occupation of Haiti, the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, and repeated bombing attacks on Iraq.

The events of September 11, 2001 provided the opportunity to launch the "War on Terror," a propaganda slogan that provided an all-purpose justification for military operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and, with increasing frequency, Africa. They furnished the Bush administration with a pretext to institutionalize war as a legitimate and normal instrument of American foreign policy.

The administration of the second President Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001. In speeches that followed 9/11, Bush used the phrase "wars of the twenty-first century." In this case, the normally inarticulate president spoke with precision. The "War on Terror" was, from the beginning, conceived as an unending series of military operations all over the globe. One war would necessarily lead to another. Afghanistan proved to be a dress rehearsal for the invasion of Iraq.

The military strategy of the United States was revised in line with the new doctrine of "preventive warfare," adopted by the US in 2002. This doctrine, which violated existing international law, decreed that the United States could attack any country in the world judged to pose a potential threat -- not only of a military, but also of an economic character -- to American interests.

In a verbal sleight of hand, the Bush administration justified the invasion of Iraq as a preemptive war, undertaken in response to the imminent threat posed by the country's "weapons of mass destruction" to the national security of the United States. Of course, the threat was as non-existent as were Saddam Hussein's WMDs. In any event, the Bush administration rendered the distinction between preemptive and preventive war meaningless, by asserting the right of the United States to attack any country, regardless of the existence or non-existence of an imminent threat to American national security. Whatever the terminology employed for propaganda purposes by American presidents, the United States adheres to the illegal doctrine of preventive war.

The scope of military operations continuously widened. New wars were started while the old ones continued. The cynical invocation of human rights was used to wage war against Libya and overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The same hypocritical pretext was employed to organize a proxy war in Syria. The consequences of these crimes, in terms of human lives and suffering, are incalculable.

The last quarter century of US-instigated wars must be studied as a chain of interconnected events. The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony extends beyond the neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The ongoing regional wars are component elements of the rapidly escalating confrontation of the United States with Russia and China.

It is through the prism of America's efforts to assert control of the strategically critical Eurasian landmass, that the essential significance of the events of 1990–91 is being revealed. But this latest stage in the ongoing struggle for world hegemony, which lies at the heart of the conflict with Russia and China, is bringing to the forefront latent and potentially explosive tensions between the United States and its present-day imperialist allies, including -- to name the most significant potential adversary -- Germany. The two world wars of the twentieth century were not the product of misunderstandings. The past is prologue. As the International Committee foresaw in 1990–91, the American bid for global hegemony has rekindled interimperialist rivalries simmering beneath the surface of world politics. Within Europe, dissatisfaction with the US role as the final arbiter of world affairs is being openly voiced. In a provocative essay, published in Foreign Affairs , the journal of the authoritative US Council on Foreign Relations, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has bluntly challenged Washington's presumption of US global dominance:

As the United States reeled from the effects of the Iraq war and the EU struggled through a series of crises, Germany held its ground. . . .

Today both the United States and Europe are struggling to provide global leadership. The 2003 invasion of Iraq damaged the United States' standing in the world. After the ouster of Saddam Hussein, sectarian violence ripped Iraq apart, and U.S. power in the region began to weaken. Not only did the George W. Bush administration fail to reorder the region through force, but the political, economic, and soft-power costs of this adventure undermined the United States' overall position. The illusion of a unipolar world faded. [ 12 ]

In a rebuke to the United States, Steinmeier writes: "Our historical experience has destroyed any belief in national exceptionalism -- for any nation." [ 13 ]

The journalists and academics, who work within the framework of the official narrative of the defense of human rights and the "War on Terror," cannot explain the progression of conflicts, from the 1990–91 Gulf War, to the current expansion of NATO eight hundred miles eastward, and the American "pivot to Asia." On a regular basis, the United States and its allies stage war games in Eastern Europe, in close proximity to the borders of Russia, and in strategically critical waters off the coast of China. It is not difficult to conceive of a situation in which events -- either as a result of deliberate calculation or of reckless miscalculation -- erupt into a clash between nuclear-armed powers. In 2014, as the centenary of World War I approached, a growing number of scholarly papers called attention to the similarities between the conditions that precipitated the disaster of August 1914 and present-day tensions.

One parallel between today and 1914 is the growing sense among political and military strategists that war between the United States and China and/or Russia may be inevitable. As this fatalistic premise increasingly informs the judgments and actions of the key decision makers at the highest level of the state, it becomes a dynamic factor that makes the actual outbreak of war more likely. A specialist in international geopolitics has recently written:

Once war is assumed to be unavoidable, the calculations of leaders and militaries change. The question is no longer whether there will or should be a war, but when the war can be fought most advantageously. Even those neither eager for nor optimistic about war may opt to fight when operating in the framework of inevitability. [ 14 ]

Not since the end of World War II has there existed so great a danger of world war. The danger is heightened by the fact that the level of popular awareness of the threat remains very limited. What percentage of the American population, one must ask, realizes that President Barack Obama has formally committed the United States to go to war in defense of Estonia, in the event of a conflict between the small Baltic country and Russia? The media has politely refrained from asking the president to state how many human beings would die in the event of a nuclear war between the United States and either Russia or China, or both at the same time.

On the eve of World War II, Leon Trotsky warned that a catastrophe threatened the entire culture of mankind. He was proven correct. Within less than a decade, the Second World War claimed the lives of more than fifty million people. The alarm must once again be sounded. The working class and youth within the United States and throughout the world must be told the truth.

The progressive development of a globally integrated world economy is incompatible with capitalism and the nation-state system. If war is to be stopped and a global catastrophe averted, a new and powerful mass international movement, based on a socialist program, and strategically guided by the principles of revolutionary class struggle, must be built. In opposition to imperialist geopolitics, in which national states fight brutally for regional and global dominance, the International Committee counterposes the strategy of world socialist revolution. As Trotsky advised, we "follow not the war map but the map of the class struggle. . . ." [ 15 ]

In the weeks prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were mass protests against the war policies of the United States and its allies. Millions took to the streets. But after the war began, public opposition virtually disappeared. The absence of popular protest did not signify support for the war. Rather, it reflected the repudiation, by the old middle-class protest movement, of its former Vietnam-era opposition to imperialism.

There are mounting signs of political radicalization among significant sections of the working class and youth. It is only a matter of time before this radicalization gives rise to conscious opposition to war. It is the aim of this volume to impart to the new antiwar movement a revolutionary socialist and internationalist perspective and program.

... ... ...

solerso2 years ago
The quotes from Trotsky are glaring. These and others were used to argue against socialism in the post war decades, but all that was needed was time and the working of the forces of capitalism itself. History never ended, it is right on schedule
Steve Naidamast2 years ago
"Landler informs his readers that Obama "went for a walk among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan." He recalls a passage from Obama's 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Prize, in which the president wearily lamented that humanity needed to reconcile "two seemingly irreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly."

Typical American philosophy... "War is peace!"...

peatstack3 years ago
VI lenin crushed the Krondstadt rebellion that was the true 'soviet union' model and instituted a hard right revolutionary regime of ruthless dictatorial control from smolny, not a workers state. The US borgeouis (and french and english) intervened to keep russia in the war and 160 german divisions from leaving the eastern front. The threat of a workers state was not the concern of the victors. The failure of revolutionary russia to represent what this article is propping it up to be (some kind of genuine workers state) leaves me deeply suspect about the other conclusions he's bent history to. Anyone who's read "2 years in russia" by emma goldman, and "the victors dilemma" - john silverlight and any number of books on the russian civil war, it is clear that the intervention was for military tactical reasons and that the nascient state was in no ways a workers state but a totalitarian military dictatorship. Emma Goldman's disillusionment is not her falling out of love with her ideals, but her coming to terms with the reality vs the PR of Russia. Which is why this website (Wsws) advertised a book repudiating the rejection of socialism with the faiure of the soviet union as a false narrative a year or few ago.
fds peatstack3 years ago
The historical memoir is clear, diaries, memos, news articles, and the Western soldier revolts, time to smash the revolution. Kronstadt was a tragedy, but the regime was under threat. history is messy.
OL peatstack3 years ago
On Kronstadt : https://www.marxists.org/ar... I never found an attempt at refuting these that was more than hot air.

I can imagine that the leadership of imperialist countries was underestimating the bolsheviks in 1917, but once the Russian revolution had given enough confidence to the German masses to make the war stop one year later, once the French black sea fleet had rebelled in 1919, etc... they were all very conscious of the risks (potential risks, not immediate threats).

iv_int OL3 years ago
The evidence in favour of what Trotsky wrote about Kronstadt is simply overwhelming. A cmd above gave some basic evidence. Trotsky was absolutely right and absolutely honest on what he wrote later on ("hue and cry over Kronstadt")
Larka3 years ago
The working class has been the victim of betrayal after betrayal by pseudo-left forces in the 20th century, which led to two catastrophic world wars and all the other conflicts that have created needless bloodshed around the world. The great task will be, when the new mass working class anti-war movement arises, to give the working class the political knowledge it needs to not fall for the traps that dissipated anti-war movements in the past. It must be made clear to the workers of the world that for us, it's do or die time - literally, as the obscene levels of social inequality and the prospect of nuclear confrontation prove.
Carolyn Zaremba Larka3 years ago
I understand this very well, having seen what happened to what I thought at the time was a powerful antiwar movement in the 1960s against the war in Vietnam. I was quite politically naive at the time and became so disillusioned with politics in general and what I then thought to be the "left" in particular, that I went off politics completely and started reading Ayn Rand.

After being turned off by Rand's misanthropy and hatred of the working class (even though I admired her atheism), I became more or less apolitical until 1998, when I first read the World Socialist Web Site and found what I had been looking for.

Robert Seaborne Carolyn Zaremba3 years ago
thank you Carolyn Zaremba,

for this affirming comment. Me too, having all but given up on politics and following a last ditch search of the web I was rewarded with a political program and party that was more than compatible with my world view and personal values. Something I had not thought possible, thank you ICFI/SEP.

FireintheHead3 years ago
There are times when even we as Marxists find ourselves scouring the past for a word that befits the character and luminosity of a moment in human understanding. In this respect David North has given new meaning to the word 'Biblical'.

As a word, its essence is transcendent. For whoever defines an epoch in the clearest and most profoundest way as this, is elevated to the realms of Greatness.

As the bourgeoisie now scrabbles, in fights, and drowns in the last dregs of its alchemy, a Phoenix arises out of their chaos lest the bourgeoisie commits all to the Fires of Hell ....

Most excellent words comrade David ...a most excellent call to class struggle .

Eric3 years ago
This is a remarkably panoramic account, grounded in both history and economics, of the unfolding of U.S. militarism and imperialist warfare over the past 30 or so years. It is without peer in anything else I have seen in terms of showing that events and tendencies - which we may have been separately aware of - were in fact part of a historical continuum growing out of economic developments and the perceived interests of the U.S. ruling class.
iv_int3 years ago
Always interesting to read cmd. North. ''First, and most important, the International Committee interpreted the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989–90, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, as an existential crisis of the entire global nation-state system, as it emerged from the ashes of World War II. Second, the ICFI anticipated that the breakdown of the established postwar equilibrium would lead rapidly to a resurgence of imperialist militarism''. This is great but we also have German militarism on the rise and we should not underestimate. The working class must be prepared for economic and even actual wars in Europe and elsewhere. The redivision of markets and resources is evident with Germany and China on the table.

[Apr 08, 2019] Netanyahu pledges to annex West Bank if re-elected - World Socialist Web Site by Jean Shaoul

Notable quotes:
"... In so doing, he has effectively repudiated the entire post-World War II international order and signalled that wars of conquest and territorial aggrandisement are the order of the day. Such annexations were declared illegal under the Geneva Conventions, enacted in the wake of the Second World War to prevent the repetition of similar actions carried out by Germany's Nazi regime, which set the stage for the outbreak of war in 1939. ..."
"... Netanyahu's announcement will give succour to his support base among fascistic layers of the settlers and religious nationalists, driving Israel's capitalist political setup ever further toward outright apartheid, fascism and military dictatorship. It is a prelude to intensified Israeli military aggression in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and the broader Middle East. ..."
"... He has brought into his electoral coalition, and a possible share of government power should he win, outright fascist elements linked to the banned Kach Party of the late Meir Kahane, a party that was designated a terrorist organization by the US, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Israel itself. ..."
"... Trump's naked interference in the Israeli elections is bound up with US imperialism's broader aim of escalating its military intervention in the Middle East to roll back the growth of Iranian influence in the wake of the successive debacles suffered by Washington in Iraq, Libya and Syria. ..."
"... The political antecedents of Netanyahu's Likud Party, Vladimir Jabotinsky's Revisionists, who were to remain a minority tendency until the 1970s, articulated this position most clearly. Their aim was the establishment of a Jewish state on the entire land of Biblical Palestine, including Transjordan. With the Jews a minority in Palestine, such a state would necessarily mean expelling the Arab population to ensure its Jewish character. ..."
"... In 1923, Jabotinsky explained, in an article titled "The Iron Wall," that the Zionist project could be achieved only against the wishes of the native population. He envisaged the need for an iron wall to protect the Jews from the native population. He said, "A voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question either now or in the near future." Without a garrison, Zionist colonization of Palestine would be impossible, and "therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force." ..."
"... Netanyahu has now made explicit what has long been implicit: the incorporation of the West Bank into a Greater Israel. It can be achieved and sustained only through the imposition of military rule. To this end, his government has passed a series of measures, including the openly racist "Nation-State Law" enshrining Jewish supremacy as the legal foundation of the state, bringing the political and legal system into alignment with the reality of Jabotinsky's garrison state, based on the brutal oppression of an entire people, the Palestinians. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his intention of extending Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, if he is re-elected prime minister in Tuesday's general election.

In so doing, he has effectively repudiated the entire post-World War II international order and signalled that wars of conquest and territorial aggrandisement are the order of the day. Such annexations were declared illegal under the Geneva Conventions, enacted in the wake of the Second World War to prevent the repetition of similar actions carried out by Germany's Nazi regime, which set the stage for the outbreak of war in 1939.

Netanyahu's announcement will give succour to his support base among fascistic layers of the settlers and religious nationalists, driving Israel's capitalist political setup ever further toward outright apartheid, fascism and military dictatorship. It is a prelude to intensified Israeli military aggression in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and the broader Middle East.

Netanyahu told a television Channel 12 interviewer on Saturday that he would not "evacuate any community." Nor would he divide Jerusalem, a reference to Palestinian demands for East Jerusalem to serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state. He said, "I will not divide Jerusalem, I will not evacuate any community and I will make sure we control the territory west of Jordan."

He added, "A Palestinian state will endanger our existence and I withstood huge pressure over the past eight years. No prime minister has withstood such pressure. We must control our destiny."

Netanyahu made it clear that he viewed President Donald Trump's recognition of Israel's illegal annexation of Syria's Golan Heights, captured in 1967, as a green light to press on with Likud's long-held expansionist policy of a Greater Israel. He said, "Will we move ahead to the next stage? Yes. I will extend sovereignty, but I don't distinguish between the settlement blocs and the isolated ones, because each settlement is Israeli, and I will not hand it over to Palestinian sovereignty."

Speaking about the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, which he has pledged to evacuate despite international outrage, Netanyahu promised that "it will happen." He added, "I promised, and it will happen at the soonest opportunity."

Netanyahu's announcement was aimed at bolstering his position in the election, which he had called ahead of schedule in order to win political backing to ensure his immunity from prosecution on a raft of corruption charges. Facing unexpectedly strong opposition from a slate of generals assembled by the so-called Blue and White coalition, headed by former chief of staff Benny Gantz, he has leveraged Trump's support to appeal to his right-wing support base.

He has brought into his electoral coalition, and a possible share of government power should he win, outright fascist elements linked to the banned Kach Party of the late Meir Kahane, a party that was designated a terrorist organization by the US, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Israel itself.

Trump's naked interference in the Israeli elections is bound up with US imperialism's broader aim of escalating its military intervention in the Middle East to roll back the growth of Iranian influence in the wake of the successive debacles suffered by Washington in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Netanyahu's growing alliance with the House of Saud and the petro-monarchs of the Gulf has served to ensure their acquiescence -- with pro forma denunciations -- to this latest assault on the Palestinians.

But apart from Netanyahu's short-term political calculations, his announcement derives from Zionism's foundation upon exclusivist conceptions of racial, religious and linguistic hegemony to justify the establishment of a Jewish state through the violent dispossession of the indigenous Arab population, who formed the overwhelming majority of the population, making use of the horrors of the Holocaust as a rationale for the oppression of another people.

The political antecedents of Netanyahu's Likud Party, Vladimir Jabotinsky's Revisionists, who were to remain a minority tendency until the 1970s, articulated this position most clearly. Their aim was the establishment of a Jewish state on the entire land of Biblical Palestine, including Transjordan. With the Jews a minority in Palestine, such a state would necessarily mean expelling the Arab population to ensure its Jewish character.

In 1923, Jabotinsky explained, in an article titled "The Iron Wall," that the Zionist project could be achieved only against the wishes of the native population. He envisaged the need for an iron wall to protect the Jews from the native population. He said, "A voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question either now or in the near future." Without a garrison, Zionist colonization of Palestine would be impossible, and "therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force."

The establishment of a Jewish state was viewed with sympathy by millions of people around the world, who were appalled at the catastrophe that had befallen the Jews. But the major powers excluding Britain, but including the Soviet Union, supported the establishment of a Jewish state as a means of blocking Britain's position in the Middle East. As a result, the UN voted in 1947 for the partition of Palestine, hailing the new state as a progressive entity dedicated to building a democratic and egalitarian society for the most cruelly oppressed people of Europe.

As soon as the State of Israel was declared in 1948, war broke out between the Arabs and the Jews, who were able to seize more land than was included in the 1947 partition plan, driving out some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. Not wanting to pay the price of the concessions demanded by the superpowers, in terms of borders and refugees, Israel's Labour government did not try to make peace after the war, instead instituting a policy of "striving for peace" -- but not too fast -- which became the template for future governments. The more Israel got used to the situation of neither peace nor war, the louder grew the voices calling for the maintenance of the status quo.

After the 1967 war, when Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, Gaza from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria, the Labour government moved rapidly to annex East Jerusalem and build settlements in the occupied territories that are now home to some 700,000 Israeli Jews, many of them extreme nationalists and religious zealots who are heavily armed. Labour had, in effect, adopted the Revisionists' policy.

The war and the settlement movement spawned the growth of immensely reactionary political and social forces within Israel itself, with Menachem Begin's Likud party demanding the territories be brought under Israeli sovereignty on the grounds that they were the Biblical lands of Samaria and Judea, promised by God to the Jewish people.

In 1993, a Labour government signed an illusory peace deal, the Oslo Accords, brokered by the US, with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Ostensibly, the agreement was to usher in a Palestinian statelet. But its real purpose was to prevent the intifada that broke out in 1987 from developing into a revolutionary uprising by the Palestinian masses in the occupied territories, and to subcontract the task of suppressing the masses to the Palestinian bourgeoisie.

Instead of peace and a Palestinian state, the Oslo Accords set the stage for an expansion of the settlements and land seizures to control the access roads to these enclaves and strengthen their connection to Israel itself, with the Palestinian Authority left to police small patches of land, mostly impoverished cities, surrounded and cut off by Israeli troops.

In line with its long-held policy, the Likud Party vehemently opposed any territorial concessions to the Palestinians embodied in the Accords. Its leaders stood by as its angry supporters called Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a traitor, paving the way for his murder in 1995 by a right-wing fanatic. With none of the mainstream political parties prepared to make any fundamental changes, the fraudulent peace process was all but dead.

Netanyahu has now made explicit what has long been implicit: the incorporation of the West Bank into a Greater Israel. It can be achieved and sustained only through the imposition of military rule. To this end, his government has passed a series of measures, including the openly racist "Nation-State Law" enshrining Jewish supremacy as the legal foundation of the state, bringing the political and legal system into alignment with the reality of Jabotinsky's garrison state, based on the brutal oppression of an entire people, the Palestinians.

The so-called "centre-left" opposition in the elections, led by Gantz, has not challenged Netanyahu's annexation pledge, resorting to verbal obfuscations and calls for a "regional conference" or "secure separation," thereby signifying consent.

This marks the historic bankruptcy and culmination of the entire reactionary Zionist project and all such nationalist programs.

[Apr 08, 2019] I know many people have a great deal of difficulty comprehending just how many wars are started for no other purpose than to force private central banks onto nations

Apr 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

jacques sheete , says: April 8, 2019 at 3:36 pm GMT

@Agent76

I know many people have a great deal of difficulty comprehending just how many wars are started for no other purpose than to force private central banks onto nations, so let me share a few examples, so that you understand why the US Government is mired in so many wars against so many foreign nations.

Thank you in spades for bringing our attention to that truth.

[Apr 08, 2019] The Delphic Oracle Was Their Davos, by Michael Hudson and John Siman - The Unz Review

Apr 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Note: Michael Hudson published and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure, and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year in November of last year. It is the first volume in what will be a trilogy on the long history of the tyranny of debt. I have interviewed him extensively as he writes the second volume, The Collapse of Antiquity.

John Siman : Michael, in the first volume of your history of debt -- "

ORDER IT NOW

and forgive them their debts , dealing with the Bronze Age Near East, Judaism and early Christianity -- you showed how over thousands of years, going back to the invention of interest-bearing loans in Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC, many kings from a variety of Mesopotamian civilizations proclaimed Clean Slate debt cancellations on a more or less regular basis. And you showed that these royal proclamations of debt amnesty rescued the lower classes from debt bondage, maintaining a workable economic balance over many centuries. Because these kings were so powerful -- and, let's say, enlightened -- they were able to prevent the social and economic polarization that is inevitable when there is no check on an oligarchic creditor class extracting exponentially increasing interest from debtors.

But now, as you write the second volume, your theme gets turned upside down. You are showing how the Greeks and the Romans learned about interest-bearing debt from their contacts with Middle Eastern civilizations, but tragically failed to institute programs of Clean Slate debt amnesty. Their failure has been a kind of albatross around the neck of Western economies ever since.

So I'd like to start this conversation in the late 500s BC, because we can see at that time the beginnings of both the Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, plus of two more important civilizations. First was the Athens of Cleisthenes, who had led the overthrow the "tyrant" Hippias and became the father of Athenian democracy. Second, there was the Roman Republic of Lucius Junius Brutus, who overthrew the last of Rome's legendary kings, the "tyrant" Tarquinius Superbus.Third was the Persian civilization of Cyrus the Great. He was a "divine king," in many ways in the ancient tradition of Hammurabi. Fourth were the post-exilic Jews of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the Temple and redacted the Bible. They were the inventors of the Jubilee years of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, even though they depicted the teaching as coming from Moses.

So, beginning with the late 500s BC, to what extent was the notion of Clean Slate debt amnesty remembered, and to what extent was it rejected?

Michael Hudson : Every kind of reform, from Mesopotamia to Greece, was put forth as if it simply restored the way things were in the beginning. There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning. All reformers would say that in the beginning everybody must have been equal. Their reform was aimed at restoring this state of affairs.

That's why, when Plutarch and even the Spartan kings in the third century BC talked about canceling debts and promoting equality, they said that they were simply restoring the original system that Lycurgus had created. But there was no sign that Lycurgus had really done these things. It was made up. Lycurgus was a legendary figure. So was Moses in the Jewish tradition. When the Bible was redacted and put together after the return from Babylon, they put debt cancellation and land redistribution -- the Jubilee Year -- right in the center of Mosaic Law. So it seemed that this was not an innovation, but what Moses said in the beginning. They created a Moses figure much like the Greeks created a Lycurgus figure. They said that this is how things were meant to be. This is how it was in the beginning -- and it just happened to be their own program.

This was a projection backwards: a retrojection. Felix Jacoby wrote that Athenian history was that way, basically party pamphleteering projecting their ideal program back to Solon or to whomever one might choose as a good guy to model. Writers would then say that this original good guy supported the program that they were proposing in their epoch. This was the ancient analogy to "Constitutional Originalism" in the United States as a frame for right-wing policies.

JS : So, ever since the 500s BC, the surefire way to critique the status quo has been to say you are trying to go back to the Garden of Eden or to some other pristine Saturnian Golden Age.

MH : Yes, you want to say that the unfair world around you isn't what was meant, so this couldn't have been the original plan, because the past had to be a successful takeoff. So the program that reformers always turned out to be what the Founding Fathers meant.

JS : That's veryinspirational!

MH : The key is to appear as a conservative, not a radical. You accuse the existing status quo as being the beneficiaries of the radicals who have distorted the original Fair Plan that you're trying to restore.

JS : So in the 500s BC we have Cyrus -- and his inscription on the Cyrus Cylinder -- boasting that he freed the Babylonians from their tax debt and bonds, and we have the post-exilic Jews proclaiming d'ror [דְּרֹ֛ור] in Leviticus 25, proclaiming "liberty throughout the land." We also have the reforms of Cleisthenes in Athens, isonomia [ἰσονομία, literally, equality under the law], a genuine attempt at democracy. But let's start with Rome. What do you want to say about the nova libertas , the "new liberty" proclaimed in Rome after the last king was expelled and the Republic was founded? Didn't Brutus and his wellborn friends boast that they were the institutors of true liberty?

MH : Liberty for them was the liberty to destroy that of the population at large. Instead of cancelling debts and restoring land tenure to the population, the oligarchy created the Senate that protected the right of creditors to enslave labor and seize public as well as private lands (just as had occurred in Athens before Solon). Instead of restoring a status quo ante of free cultivators -- free of debt and tax obligations, as Sumerian amargi and Babylonian misharum and andurarum meant -- the Roman oligarchy accused anyone of supporting debtor rights and opposing its land grabs of "seeking kingship." Such men were murdered, century after century.

Rome was turned into an oligarchy, an autocracy of the senatorial families. Their "liberty" was an early example of Orwellian Doublethink. It was to destroy everybody else's liberty so they could grab whatever they could, enslave the debtors and create the polarized society that Rome became.

JS : OK, but this program worked. The Republic grew and grew and conquered everyone else for century after century. Then the Principate became the supreme power in the Western world for several more centuries.

MH : It worked by looting and stripping other societies. That can only continue as long as there is some society to loot and destroy. Once there were no more kingdoms for Rome to destroy, it collapsed from within. It was basically a looting economy. And it didn't do more than the British colonialists did: It only scratched the surface. It didn't put in place the means of production that would create enough money for them to grow productively. Essentially, Rome was a financial rentier state .

Rentiers don't create production. They live off existing production, they don't create it. That's why the classical economists said they were supporting industrial capitalists, not British landlords, not monopolists and not predatory banks.

JS : This has all been forgotten, both in the United States and in England --

MH : Let's say, expurgated from the curriculum.

JS : Worse than forgotten!

MH : That's why you don't have any history of economic thought taught anymore in the United States. Because then you'd see that Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and the "Ricardian socialists" and indeed most of the 19th century had a completely opposite idea of what constituted a free market.

JS : Opposite? How so?

MH : Opposite from the neoliberal idea that freedom means freedom for the wealthy to indebt and destroy the economy. Opposite from the liberty of Brutus to overthrow the Roman kings and establish an autocratic oligarchy.

JS : So do we want to see the Roman kings as defenders of the people -- defending them from predatory oligarchs?

MH : Yes, especially Servius Tullius. There was a great flowering of Rome, making it attractive to immigrants by making the city livable for newcomers. They did this because at that time, in the 6th century BC, all societies had a shortage of labor. Labor was the factor of production in short supply, not land. Not even in Athens was land in short supply in the 6th and 5th centuries. You needed labor, and so you had to make it attractive for immigrants to join your society instead of having your people run away, as they would in a society run by creditors reducing clients to bondage.

JS : So you are writing about how Roman liberty was actually the liberty of oligarchic creditors from populist pressures for debt forgiveness. What of the d'ror of Leviticus 25 -- the liberty of the postexilic Jews? Did they actually proclaim years of Jubilee in which debts were forgiven and bondservants were returned to their families?

MH : After the Babylonian Jews returned to Jerusalem, I'm sure that they said that it was time for the land to be returned to its original owners -- and their families, by the way, were the original owners who were exiled in the Babylonian Captivity. I rely largely on Baruch Levine for this idea of the ge'ullah [גְּאֻלָּה], saying give us back our ancestral lands. [See thecolloquium Levine and Hudson co-edited on Land and Urbanization in the Ancient Near East , and their preceding volume on ancient privatization.] There must have been some kind of settlement along those lines. Unfortunately, the Judaic lands did not keep their records on on clay tablets that could be thrown out and recovered thousands of years later. We don't have any record of their economic history after the Return.

JS : Now I've brought along the transcriptions of several Egyptian papyri for you to look at. I also want to show you a papyrus in Aramaic from Judæa. It's not direct evidence that the post-exilic Jews were having Jubilee years, but it's indirect evidence, because it says that a particular debt has to be paid, even during a time of general debt amnesty, even if it falls due in a shmita [שמיטה], a sabbath year. So it sounds like the Jews were finding loopholes --

MH : It certainly sounds like it! Babylonian creditors tried a similar ploy, but this was disallowed. (We have court records confirming the realm's misharum acts.)

JS : In the Mosaic commandments to forgive debt, can we infer that there was some sort of program of debt forgiveness in place already in place in postexilic Jerusalem?

MH : Yes, but it ended with Rabbi Hillel and the Prozbul clause. Debtors had to sign this clause at the end of their debt contracts saying that they waived their rights under the Jubilee year in order to get a loan. That was why Jesus fought against the Pharisees and the rabbinical leadership. That's what Luke 4 is all about [ And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" = the Jubilee year.] Luke also pointed out that the Pharisees loved money!

JS : Let me ask you about Egypt here. Unfortunately, as you said, the postexilic Jews did not leave us any clay tablets and almost no papyri, but we do have loads of papyri concerning the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. So from, say, 300 B.C. to the death of Cleopatra, we have official evidence that the Egyptian kings proclaimed debt amnesties. Maybe one of the reasons, or perhaps the main reason for this, is because they were so powerful, like the Mesopotamian kings. So even though the Ptolemaic kings were biologically and genetically Macedonian Greek -- married to their sisters, too -- they aspired to rule in the ancient Egyptian pharaonic tradition of We Are God-Kings and We Own Everything in the Kingdom.

MH : Certainly the Hellenistic kings had the ancient pharaonic Sed festivals, which go back thousands of years and were a kind of jubilee. The Egyptians had regular debt cancellations, because under the pharaohs the debts that would have been cancelled were basically tax debts. They were owed to the crown, so he was cancelling debts owed to himself ultimately. And we see this thousands of years later in the trilingual stone, the Rosetta Stone, which the priests wrote for that young boy who was Ptolemy V. They explained to him that this is how Egypt always had done it, and to act as a pharaoh, he had to do the same.

JS : And I think it is worth pointing out here that the same verb-plus-noun combination for forgiving debts that the priests used in Greek on the Rosetta Stone is also used by Matthew in the Lord's Prayer [ἀφῆκεν/ἄφες ὀφειλήματα, aphēken/aphes opheilēmata]. It shows up in lots of papyri. The same Greek verb and noun, again and again and again.

But let's go back to the Greeks of the 500s BC. They are a couple of hundred years out of their Dark Age, so their society has been reconstituted after the demographic wipeout. It's been reconstituted, but without Near Eastern-style "divine kingship" and its Clean Slate proclamations. Just the opposite. Socrates had conversations with the rhapsodes who had memorized and recited the Iliad . Even in their great epic, the Greeks' legendary king of kings Agamemnon comes across as a kind of narcissistic loser. How would you describe Greek kingship, especially the so-called tyrants?

MH : There never really were Greek kings of the type found throughout the Bronze Age Near East and surviving into the first millennium in Assyria and even in Persia. The Greek polities that emerged from their Dark Age were run by what shrewd Classicists call mafiosi , something like the post-Soviet kleptocrats. They formed closed political monopolies reducing local populations to clientage and dependency. In one polity after another they were overthrown and exiled, mainly by aristocratic reformers from the elite families (often secondary branches, as was Solon). Later oligarchic writers called them "tyrants" as an invective, much as the word rex -- king -- became an invective in oligarchic Rome.

These tyrant-reformers consolidated their power by redistributing land from the leading families (or in Sparta, land conquered from Messenia, along with its population reduced to helotage) to the citizen-army at large all over Greece – except in Athens. That was one of the most reactionary cities in the 7th century, as shown by what is known about the laws of Draco. After some abortive coups in the seventh century, Solon was appointed in 594 to avoid the kind of revolution that had led reformer "tyrants" to overthrow narrow aristocracies in neighboring Megara and Corinth. Solon decreed a half-way reform, abolishing debt slavery (but not the debtor's obligation to work off debts with his own labor), and did not redistribute Athenian land from the city's elites.

Athens was one of the last to reform but then because it was such a badly polarized autocratic society, it swung -- like Newton's Third Law of Motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction -- it swung to become the most democratic of all the Greek polities.

Some historians in the past speculated that Solon might somehow have been influenced by Judaic law or other Near Eastern practice, but this is not realistic. I think Solon was simply a pragmatist responding to widespread demands that he do what the reformers -- the so-called tyrants -- were doing throughout Greece. He didn't redistribute the land like they did, but he at least ended outright debt slavery. Free debtors (mainly cultivators on the land) were being seized and sold outside of Athens to slave dealers. Solon also tried to recover some of the land that wealthy families had grabbed. At least, that's what he wrote in his poems describing his actions.

So to answer your question, I think debt cancellations were not a diffusionist policy from the East, but a spontaneous pragmatic response such as was being widely advocated as far west as Rome with its Secession of the Plebs a century later -- followed by much of Greece in the 4th century BC, and Sparta's kings in the late 3rd century BC.

Poorer Athenians were so angry with Solon for being not revolutionary enough that he went into exile for 10 years. The real creators of Athenian democracy were Peisistratos [died 528/7 BC], his sons, also called tyrants, and then Cleisthenes in 507. He was a member of the wealthy but outcast family, the Alcmaeonidae, who had been expelled in the 7th century. Solon had allowed them to return, and they were backed by Delphi (to which the family contributed heavily). Cleisthenes fought against the other oligarchic families and restructured Athenian politics on the basis of locality instead of clan membership. Servius Tullius is credited for enacting much the same reform in Rome. Lewis Henry Morgan's Ancient Society [1877] described this restructuring of voting districts as the great watershed creation of western-style democracy.

JS : Let me go back now to the way Athens and the other poleis emerged from the Dark Age.

MH : Judging from the art and pottery, Greece didn't begin to recover until the 8th century BC.

JS : So we're talking about the 700s BC. As Greece was learning from the Near Eastern civilizations, everything from mythology to the alphabet to weights and measures --

MH : And commercial practices, credit practices.

JS : Yes, all this came from the Near East, including the practice of charging interest. But what about Clean Slate debt amnesty? I want to argue logically here -- not from any hard historical evidence, but only deductively -- that the Greeks would have wanted the concept of Clean Slate debt forgiveness, they would have wanted to learn this too from the Near East, but they could not do it because they were always going to lack a Hammurabi-style "divine king."

MH : I think you miss the whole point of how Western civilization evolved here. First of all, who "wanted" Near Eastern kingship? Certainly not the emerging oligarchies. The ruling elites wanted to use interest-bearing debt to enrich themselves – by obtaining control over the labor power of debtors.

Second, I don't think the Greeks and Italians knew about Near Eastern royal proclamations, except as an alien practice much further East than Asia Minor. Falling into debt was a disaster for the poor, but a means for their Western patrons to gain power, land and wealth. There is no record of anyone suggesting that they should be in the Near East. The connection between the Near East and Greece or Italy was via traders. If you're a Phoenician or Syrian merchant with the Aegean or Italy, you're going to set up a temple as an intermediary, typically on an island. Such temples became the cosmopolitan meeting places where you had the oligarchs of the leading families of Greek cities visiting each other as part of a Pan-Hellenic group. You could say that Delphi was the "Davos" of its day.

It was through these trading centers that culture diffused – via the wealthiest families who travelled and established relationships with other leading families. Finance and trade have always been cosmopolitan. These families learned about debt obligations and contracts from the Near East, and ended up reducing much of their local populations to clientage, without kings to overrule them. That would have been the last thing they wanted.

JS : So absent Hammurabi-style "divine kingship," is debt bondage and brutal polarization almost inevitably going to happen in any society that adopts interest-bearing debt?

MH : We see a balance of forces in the ancient Near East, thanks to the fact that its rulers had authority to cancel debt and restore land that wealthy individuals had taken from smallholders. These kings were powerful enough to prevent the rise of oligarchies that would reduce the population to debt peonage and bondage (and in the process, deprive the palace of revenue and corvée labor, and even the military service of debtors owing their labor to their private creditors). We don't have any similar protection in today's Western Civilization. That's what separates Western Civilization from the earlier Near Eastern stage. Modern financialized civilization has stripped away the power to prevent a land-grabbing creditor oligarchy from controlling society and its laws.

So you could characterize Western Civilization is being decadent. It's reducing populations to austerity on a road to debt peonage. Today's new oligarchy calls this a "free market," but it is the opposite of freedom. You can think of the Greek and Roman decontextualization of Near Eastern economic regulations as if the IMF had been put in charge of Greece and Rome, poisoning its legal and political philosophy at the outset. So Western Civilization may be just a vast detour. That's what my forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity, is all about. That will be the second volume in my trilogy on the history of debt.

JS : So are we just a vast detour?

MH : We have to restore a balanced economy where the oligarchy is controlled, so as to prevent the financial sector from impoverishing society, imposing austerity and reducing the population to clientage and debt serfdom.

JS : How do you do that without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"?

MH : You need civil law to do what Near Eastern kings once did. You need a body of civil law with a strong democratic government acting to shape markets in society's overall long-term interest, not that of the One Percent obtaining wealth by impoverishing the 99 Percent. You need civil law that protects the population from an oligarchy whose business plan is to accumulate wealth in ways that impoverish the economy at large. This requires a body of civil law that would cancel debts when they grow too large for the population to pay. That probably requires public banking and credit – in other words, deprivatization of banking that has become dysfunctional.

All this requires a mixed economy, such as the Bronze Age Near Eastern economies were. The palace, temples, private sector and entrepreneurs acted as checks and balances on each other. Western Civilization isn't a mixed economy. Socialism was an attempt to create a mixed economy, but the oligarchs fought back. What they call a "free market" is an unmixed monolithic, centrally planned financialized economy with freedom for the oligarchy to impoverish the rest of society. That was achieved by landlordism monopolizing the land in feudal Europe, and it is done by finance today.

Part 2: Mixed Economies Today, Compared to Those of Antiquity

John Siman : Could you define what you mean by a mixed economy ?

Michael Hudson : There are many degrees of how "mixed" an economy will be -- meaning in practice, how active its government sector will be in regulating markets, prices and credit, and investing in public infrastructure.

In the 20 th century's Progressive Era a century ago, a "mixed economy" meant keeping natural monopolies in the public sector: transportation, the post office, education, health care, and so forth. The aim was to save the economy from monopoly rent by a either direct public ownership or government regulation to prevent price gouging by monopolies.

The kind of "mixed economy" envisioned by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and other classical 19 th century free market economists aimed at saving the economy from land rent paid to Europe's hereditary landlord class. Either the government would tax away the land's rent, or would nationalize it by taking land out of the hands of landlords. The idea was to free markets from economic rent ("unearned income") in general, including monopoly rents, and also to subsidize basic needs to create a price-competitive national economy.

Long before that, in the Bronze Age -- which I describe in and forgive them their debts -- the palace reversed the buildup of personal and agrarian debts by annulling them on a more or less regular basis. This freed the economy from the overgrowth of debt that tended to build up chronically from the mathematical dynamics of compound interest, and from crop failures or other normal "market" phenomenon.

In all these cases a mixed economy was designed to maintain stability and avoid exploitation that otherwise would lead to economic polarization.

JS: So a mixed economy is still a market economy?

MH : Yes. All these degrees of "mixed economy" were market economies. But their markets were regulated and subordinated to broad social and political objectives rather than to personal rent-seeking or creditor gains. Their economic philosophy was long-term, not short-term, and aimed at preventing economic imbalance from debt and land monopoly.

Today's "mixed economy" usually means an active public sector undertaking investment in infrastructure and controlling money and credit, and shaping the context of laws within which the economy operates. This is best understood by contrasting it to what neoliberals call a "pure" or "market" economy – including what the Trump administration accuses China of when it proposes countervailing tariffs to shape the U.S. and international market in a way that favors American corporations and banks.

So it is necessary to clear the terminological slate before going into more detail. Every economy is a "market economy" of some sort or another. What is at issue is how large a role governments will play -- specifically, how much it will regulate, how much it will tax, how much it will invest directly into the economy's infrastructure and other means of production or act as a creditor and regulator of the monetary and banking system.

JS: What can we learn from the mixed economies of the Ancient Near East? Why were they so prosperous and also stable for so long?

MH : The Bronze Age mixed economies of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt and their Near Eastern neighbors were subject to "divine kingship," that is, the ability of kings to intervene to keep restoring an economy free of personal and rural debt, so as to maintain a situation where the citizenry on the land was able to serve in the military, provide corvée labor to create basic infrastructure, and pay fees or taxes to the palace and temples.

Mesopotamian rulers proclaimed Clean Slates to keep restoring an idealized status quo ante of free labor (free from debt bondage). Babylonian rulers had a more realistic view of the economy than today's mainstream economists. They recognized that economies tended to polarize between wealthy creditors and debtors if what today are called "market forces" are not overridden -- especially the "market forces" of debt, personal liberty or bondage, and land rent. The task of Bronze Age rulers in their kind of mixed economy was to act from "above" the market so as to prevent creditors from reducing the king's subjects (who were their military defense force) to bondage from appropriating their land tenure rights. By protecting debtors, strong rulers also prevented creditors from becoming an oligarchic power in opposition to themselves.

JS: What kind of economic theories and economic models are the critics of mixed economies trying to advance?

MH : Opponents of a mixed economy have developed an "equilibrium theory" claiming to show that markets come to a natural, fair and stable balance without any government "interference." Their promise is that if governments will refrain from regulating prices and credit, from investing and from providing public services, economies will settle naturally at a highly efficient level. This level will be stable, unless "destabilized" by government "interference." Instead of viewing public investment as saving the economy from monopoly rent and debt peonage, the government itself is described as a "rent seeker" exploiting and impoverishing the economy.

JS: But is this sort of economic theory legitimate, or just a libertarian-sounding camouflage for neoliberal pillage?

MH : It's Orwellian Doublethink. Today's neoliberal theory justifies oligarchies breaking free of public control to appropriate the economic surplus by indebting economies to skim off the economic surplus as interest and then foreclose on personal landholdings and public property, overthrowing "mixed economies" to create a "pure oligarchy." Their idea of a free market is one free for creditors and monopolists to deny economic freedom to the rest of the population. The political extension of this approach in antiquity was to unseat kings and civic regimes, to concentrate power in the hands of an increasingly predatory class reducing the economy to bondage, impoverishing it, and ultimately leaving it to be conquered by outsiders. That is what happened to Rome in Late Antiquity.

Advocates of strong government have a diametrically opposite mathematical model. Ever since the Bronze Age, they recognized that the "natural" tendency of economies is to polarize between a wealthy creditor and land-owning class and the rest of society. Bronze Age rulers recognized that debts tend to grow faster than the ability to pay (that is, faster than the economy). Babylonian rulers recognized that if rulers did not intervene to cancel personal debts (mainly agrarian debts by cultivators) when crops failed, when military action interfered, or simply when debts built up over time, then creditors would end up taking the crop surplus and even the labor services of debtors as interest, and finally foreclosing on the land. This would have deprived the palatial economy of land and labor contributions. And by enriching an independent class of creditors (on their way to becoming large landowners) outside of the palace, financial wealth would express itself in economic and even military power. An incipient financial and landholding oligarchy would mount its own military and political campaign to unseat rulers and dismantle the mixed palatial/private economy to create one that was owned and controlled by oligarchies.

The result in Classical Antiquity was economic polarization leading to austerity and bondage, grinding the economy to a halt. That is the tendency of economies in "unmixed" economies where the public sector is privatized and economic regulation is dismantled. Land and credit was monopolized and smallholders became dependent clients and ultimately were replaced by slaves.

Mixed economies by the late 19 th century aimed at minimizing market prices for real estate and monopoly goods, and for credit. The economic aim was to minimize the cost of living and doing business so as to make economies more productive. This was called "socialism" as the natural outgrowth of industrial capitalism protecting itself from the most burdensome legacies of feudalism: an absentee landlord class, and a banking class whose money-lending was not productive but predatory.

JS: So mixed economies require strong and ultimately good governments.

MH : Any "mixed" economy has some basic economic theory of what the proper role of government is. At the very least, as in the 20 th century, this included the limitation of monopoly rents. The neoclassical (that is, anti-classical) reaction was to formulate a euphemistic theory of consumer "demand" -- as if American consumers "demand" to pay high prices for pharmaceuticals and health care. Likewise in the case of housing prices for renters or, for owner-occupied housing, mortgage charges: Do renters and home buyers really "demand" to pay higher and higher rents and larger and larger mortgages? Or are they compelled to pay out of need, paying whatever their suppliers demand ( e.g ., as in "Your money or your life/health").

So to answer your question, a mixed economy is one in which governments and society at large realize that economies need to be regulated and monopolies (headed by credit and land ownership) kept out of the hands of private rent-seekers in order to keep the economy free and efficient.

JS : Has there ever been a civil society that effectively implemented a mixed economy since, say, 500 BC?

MH : All successful economies have been mixed economies. And the more "mixed" they are, the more successful, stable and long-lasting they have been as a result of their mutual public/private checks and balances.

America was a mixed economy in the late 19th century. It became the world's most successful industrial economy because it didn't have an absentee landlord class like Europe did (except for the railroad octopus), and it enacted protective tariffs to endow a domestic manufacturing class to catch up with and overtake England.

JS : Other countries?

MH : Germany began to be a mixed economy in the decades leading up to World War I. But it had a mentally retarded king whom they didn't know how to restrain, given their cultural faith in royalty. China is of course the most successful recent mixed economy.

JS : Isn't it pretty brutal in China for most of the population?

MH : Most of the population does not find it brutal there. It was brutal under colonialism and later still, under Mao's Cultural Revolution. But now, most people in China seem to want to get rich. That's why you're having a consolidation period of trying to get rid of the local corruption, especially in the rural areas. You're seeing a consolidation period that requires clamping down on a lot of people who became successful through shady operations.

JS : So how would you describe an ideal society without a Hammurabi-style "divine kingship"? An ideal mixed economy?

MH : The credit system would be public. That way, public banks could create credit for socially productive purposes -- and could cancel the occasional overgrowth of debts without causing private creditors to lose and protest. The public sector also would own and operate the natural infrastructure monopolies. That was the basic principle of classical economics from Adam Smith to Marx, even for erstwhile libertarians such as Henry George. Everybody in the 19th century expected a mixed economy with governments playing a growing role, replacing absentee landlords, bankers and monopolists with public collection of economic rent, public control of the credit system and provider of basic needs.

JS : How extensive should the public sector be?

MH : A classical public sector would include the natural monopolies that otherwise would engage in price gouging, especially the credit and banking system. These sectors should be public in character. For one thing, only a public bank can write down the debts -- like student debts today -- without hurting an independent oligarchic financial class. If student debts and mortgage debts were owed to public banks, they could be written down in keeping with the reasonable ability to be paid. Also, public banks wouldn't make junk mortgage loans to NINJA borrowers, as did Citibank and the other crooked banks. A public bank wouldn't make predatory corporate raiding and takeover loans, or finance and speculate in derivative gambles.

Most of all, when the debt overhead becomes too large -- when a large corporation that is essential to the economy can't pay its debts -- public banks can write down the debt so that the company isn't forced into bankruptcy and sold to an American vulture fund or other vulture fund. It can keep operating. In China the government provides this essential service of public banks.

The key public concern throughout history has been to prevent debt from crippling society. That aim is what Babylonian and other third-millennium and second-millennium Near Eastern rulers recognized clearly enough, with their mathematical models. To make an ideal society you need the government to control the basic utilities -- land, finance, mineral wealth, natural resources and infrastructure monopolies (including the Internet today), pharmaceuticals and health care so their basic services can be supplied at the lowest price.

All this was spelled out in the 19 th century by business school analysts in the United States. Simon Patten [1852-1922] who said that public investment is the "fourth factor of production." But its aim isn't to make a profit for itself. Rather, it's to lower the cost of living and of doing business, by providing basic needs either on a subsidized basis or for free. The aim was to create a low-cost society without a rentier class siphoning off unearned income and making this economic rent a hereditary burden on the economy at large. You want to prevent unearned income.

To do that, you need a concept to define economic rent as unearned and hence unnecessary income. A well-managed economy would do what Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, Marx and Veblen recommended: It would prevent a hereditary rentier class living off unearned income and increasing society's economic overhead. It's okay to make a profit, but not to make extractive monopoly rent, land rent or financial usury rent.

JS : Will human beings ever create such a society?

MH : If they don't, we're going to have a new Dark Age.

JS : That's one thing that especially surprises me about the United States. Is it not clear to educated people here that our ruling class is fundamentally extractive and exploitative?

MH : A lot of these educated people are part of the ruling class, and simply taking their money and running. They are disinvesting, not investing in industry. They're saying, "The financial rentier game is ending, so let's sell everything and maybe buy a farm in New Zealand to go to when there is a big war." So the financial elite is quite aware that they are getting rich by running the economy into the ground, and that this must end at the point where they've taken everything and left a debt-ridden shell behind.

JS : I guess this gets back to what you were saying: The history of economics has been expurgated from the curriculum.

MH : Once you strip away economic history and the history of economic thought, you wipe out memory of the vocabulary that people have used to criticize rent seeking and other unproductive activity. You then are in a position to redefine words and ideals along the lines that euphemize predatory and parasitic activities as if they are productive and desirable, even natural. You can rewrite history to suppress the idea that all this is the opposite of what Adam Smith and the classicaleconomists down through Marx advocated.

Today's neoliberal wasteland is basically a reaction against the 19 th century reformers, against the logic of classical British political economy. The hatred of Marx is ultimately the hatred of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, because neoliberals realize that Smith and Mill and Ricardo were all leading to Marx. He was the culmination of their free market views -- a market free from rentiers and monopolists.

That was the immediate aim of socialism in the late 19 th century. The logic of classical political economy was leading to a socialist mixed economy. In order to fight Marxism, you have to fight classical economics and erase memory of how civilization has dealt with (or failed to deal with) the debt and rent-extracting problems through the ages. The history of economic thought and the original free-market economics has to be suppressed. Today's choice is therefore between socialism or barbarism, as Rosa Luxemburg said.

JS : Let's consider barbarism: When I observe the neoliberal ruling class -- the people who control the finance sector and the managerial class on Wall Street -- I often wonder if they're historically exceptional because they've gone beyond simple greed and lust for wealth. They now seek above all some barbaric and sadistic pleasure in the financial destruction and humiliation of other people. Or is this historically normal?

MH : The financial class has always lived in the short run, and you can make short-term money much quicker by asset stripping and being predatory can by being productive. Moses Finley wrote that there was not a single productive loan in all of Antiquity. That was quite an overstatement, but he was making the point that there were no productive financial markets in Antiquity. Almost all manufacturing, industry, and agriculture was self-financed. So the reader of Finley likely infers that we modern people have progressed in a fundamental way beyond Antiquity. They were characterized by the homo politicus , greedy for status. We have evolved into homo œconomicus , savvy enough to live in stable safety and comfort.

We are supposedly the beneficiaries of the revolution of industrial capitalism, as if all the predatory, polarizing, usurious lending that you had from feudal times (and before that, from Antiquity), was replaced by productive lending that finances means of production and actual economic growth.

But in reality, modern banks don't lend money for production. They say, "That's the job of the stock market." Banks only lend if there's collateral to grab. They lend against assets in place. So the result of more bank lending is to increase the price of the assets that banks lend against -- on credit! This way of "wealth creation" via asset-price inflation is the opposite of real substantive progress. It enriches the narrow class of asset holders at the top of the economic pyramid.

JS : What about the stock market?

MH : The stock market no longer primarily provides money for capital investment. It has become a vehicle for bondholders and corporate raiders to borrow from banks and private funds to buy corporate stockholders, take the companies private, downsize them, break them up or strip their assets, and borrow more to buy back their stocks to create asset-price gains without increasing the economy's tangible real asset base. So the financial sector, except for a brief period in the late 19th century, especially in Germany, has rarely financed productive growth. Financial engineering has replaced industrial engineering, just as in Antiquity creditors were asset strippers.

The one productive activity that the financial sector engaged in from the Bronze Age onward was to finance foreign trade. The original interest-bearing debt was owed by merchants to reimburse their silent partners, typically the palace or the temples, and in time wealthy individuals. But apart from financing trade – in products that were already produced – you've rarely had finance increase the means of production or economic growth. It's almost always been to extract income. The income that finance extracts is at the expense of the rest of society. So the richer the financial sector is, the more austerity is imposed on the non-financial sector.

JS : That's pretty depressing.

MH : When I did the show with Jimmy Dore [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSvcB55R8jM ], he saw that the most important dynamic to understand is that debts grow more rapidly than the economy at large. The rate of interest is higher than the rate of growth. It may not be higher than the profit rate, but it's higher than the rate of growth. So every society that has interest-bearing debt is going to end up deeper and deeper in debt. At a certain point the creditors are paid at the expense of production and investment -- and soon enough they foreclose.

JS : And then?

MH : Then you have debt deflation. That is the norm. Austerity. It is not an anomaly, but the essence. The Babylonians knew this, and they tried to avoid debt deflation by wiping out the predatory personal debts, not the business debts that were commercial and productive. Only the non-commercial debts were wiped out.

JS : How could Modern Monetary Theory be used now, effectively?

MH : The main way is to say that governments don't have to borrow at interest from existing financial "savers," mainly the One Percent. The government can do what America did during the Civil War: print greenbacks. (The MMT version is the Trillion-dollar platinum coin.) The Treasury can provide the money needed by the economy. It does that by running a budget deficit and spending money into the economy. If you don't do that, if you do what Bill Clinton did in the last years of his presidency and run a budget surplus, then you force the economy to depend on banks for credit.

The problem is that bank credit is essentially predatory and extractive. The same thing happens in Europe. The Eurozone governments cannot run a budget deficit of more than 3 percent, so the government is unable to spend enough money to invest in public infrastructure or anything else. As a result, the Eurozone economy is subject to debt deflation, which is exacerbated by people having to borrow from the banks at high interest rates that far exceeds the rate of growth. So Europe is suffering an even more serious debt deflation than the United States.

JS : Is any of this going to change, either in Europe or here?

MH : Not until there's a crash. Not until it gets serious enough that people realize that there has to be an alternative. Right now Margaret Thatcher and the neoliberals have won. She said there was no alternative, and as long as people believe There Is No Alternative, they're not going to realize that it doesn't have to be this way, and that you don't need a private banking sector. A public banking sector would be much more efficient.

JS : How would you sum up Wall Street right now? Is it entirely predatory? Entirely parasitical? What are Wall Street's essential functions now?

MH : Number one, to run a casino. By far the largest volume at stake is betting on whether interest rates, foreign exchange rates or stock prices will go up or down. So the financial system has turned into a gambling casino. Its second aim is to load the economy down with as much debt as possible. Debt is the banking system's "product," and the GDP counts its "carried interest" penalties and late fees, its short-term trading gains as "financial services" counted as part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The aim is to get as much of these financial returns as possible, and finally to foreclose on as much property of defaulting debtors as possible. The business plan -- as I learned at Chase Manhattan years ago -- is to transfer all economic growth into the hands of financial investors, the One Percent. The financial business plan is to create a set of laws and mount a campaign of regulatory capture so that all the growth in the economy accrues to the One Percent, not the 99 Percent. That means that as the One Percent's rentier income grows, the 99 Percent gets less and less each year, until finally it emigrates or dies off, or is put into a for-profit prison, which looks like a growth industry today.

JS : Is there a single good thing that Wall Street does? Is there anything good that comes out of Wall Street?

MH: You have to look at it as a system. You can't segregate a particular action from the overall economy. If the overall system aims at making money in predatory ways at somebody else's expense, then it is a zero-sum game. That is essentially a short-run business model. And politically, it involves opposing a mixed economy. At least, the "old fashioned" socialist mixed economy in which governments subordinate short-term gain-seeking to long-term objectives uplifting the entire economy.

As the Greek philosophers recognized, wealthy people define their power by their ability to injure the rest of society, so as to lord it over them. That was the Greek philosophy of money-lust [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and hubris [ὕβρις] -- not merely arrogance, but behavior that was injurious to others.

Rentier income is injurious to society at large. Rentiers define a "free market" as one in which they are free to deny economic freedom to their customers, employees and other victims. The rentier model is to enrich the oligarchy to a point where it is able to capture the government.

Part 3: The Inherent Financial Instability in Western Civilization's DNA

John Siman : It seems that unless there's a Hammurabi-style "divine king" or some elected civic regulatory authority, oligarchies will arise and exploit their societies as much as they can, while trying to prevent the victimized economy from defending itself.

Michael Hudson : Near Eastern rulers kept credit and land ownership subordinate to the aim of maintaining overall growth and balance. They prevented creditors from turning citizens into indebted clients obliged to work off their debts instead of serving in the military, providing corvée labor and paying crop rents or other fees to the palatial sector.

JS : So looking at history going back to 2000 or 3000 BC, once we no longer have the powerful Near Eastern "divine kings," there seems not to have been a stable and free economy. Debts kept mounting up to cause political revolts. In Rome, this started with the Secession of the Plebs in 494 BC, a century after Solon's debt cancellation resolved a similar Athenian crisis.

MH : Near Eastern debt cancellations continued into the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires in the first millennium BC, and also into the Persian Empire. Debt amnesties and laws protecting debtors prevented the debt slavery that is found in Greece and Rome. What modern language would call the Near Eastern "economic model" recognized that economies tended to become unbalanced, largely as a result of buildup of debt and various arrears on payments. Economic survival in fact required an ethic of growth and rights for the citizenry (who manned the army) to be self-supporting without running into debt and losing their economic liberty and personal freedom. Instead of the West's ultimate drastic solution of banning interest, rulers cancelled the buildup of personal debts to restore an idealized order "as it was in the beginning."

This ideology has always needed to be sanctified by religion or at least by democratic ideology in order to prevent the predatory privatization of land, credit, and ultimately the government. Greek philosophy warned against monetary greed [πλεονεξία, pleonexia ] and money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] from Sparta's mythical lawgiver Lycurgus to Solon's poems describing his debt cancellation in 594 and the subsequent philosophy of Plato and Socrates, as well as the plays of Aristophanes. The Delphic Oracle warned that money-love was the only thing that could destroy Sparta [Diodorus Siculus 7.5]. That indeed happened after 404 BC when the war with Athens ended and foreign tribute poured into Sparta's almost un-monetized regulated economy.

The problem, as famously described in The Republic and handed down in Stoic philosophy, was how to prevent a wealthy class from becoming wealth-addicted, hubristic and injurious to society. The 7 th -century "tyrants" were followed by Solon in Athens in banning luxuries and public shows of wealth, most notoriously at funerals for one's ancestors. Socrates went barefoot [ἀνυπόδητος, anupodêtos ] to show his contempt for wealth, and hence his freedom from its inherent personality defects. Yet despite this universal ideal of avoiding extremes, oligarchic rule became economically polarizing and destructive, writing laws to make its creditor claims and the loss of land by smallholders irreversible. That was the opposite of Near Eastern Clean Slates and their offshoot, Judaism's Jubilee Year.

JS : So despite the ideals of their philosophy, Greek political systems had no function like that of Hammurabi-like kings -- or philosopher-kings for that matter -- empowered to hold financial oligarchies in check. This state of affairs led philosophers to develop an economic tradition of lamentation instead. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Livy and Plutarch bemoaned the behavior of the money-loving oligarchy. But they did not develop a program to rectify matters. The best they could do was to inspire and educate individuals -- most of whom were their wealthy students and readers. As you said, they bequeathed a legacy of Stoicism. Seeing that the problem was not going to be solved in their lifetimes, they produced a beautiful body of literature praising philosophical virtue.

MH : The University of Chicago, where I was an undergraduate in the 1950s, focused on Greek philosophy. We read Plato's Republic , but they skipped over the discussion of wealth-addiction. They talked about philosopher-kings without explaining that Socrates' point was that rulers must not own land and other wealth, so as not to have the egotistical tunnel vision that characterized creditors monopolizing control over land and labor.

JS : In Book 8 of the Republic , Socrates condemns oligarchies as being characterized by an insatiable greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and specifically criticizes them for allowing polarization between the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] and the poor [πένητες, penêtes ], who are made utterly resourceless [ἄποροι, aporoi ].

MH : One needs to know the context of Greek economic history in order to understand The Republic 's main concern. Popular demands for land redistribution and debt cancellation were resisted with increasing violence. Yet few histories of Classical Antiquity focus on this financial dimension of the distribution of land, money and wealth.

Socrates said that if you let the wealthiest landowners and creditors become the government, they're probably going to be wealth-addicted and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society. There was no idea at Chicago of this central argument made by Socrates about rulers falling subject to wealth-addiction. The word "oligarchy" never came up in my undergraduate training, and the "free market" business school's Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness is as opposite from Greek philosophy as it is from Judeo-Christian religion.

JS : The word "oligarchy" comes up a lot in book 8 of Plato's Republic . Here are 3 passages:

1. At Stephanus page 550c "And what kind of a regime," said he, "do you understand by oligarchy [ὀλιγαρχία]?" "That based on a property qualification," said I, "wherein the rich [πλούσιοι] hold office [550d] and the poor man [πένης, penês ] is excluded.

2. at 552a "Consider now whether this polity [ i.e . oligarchy] is not the first that admits that which is the greatest of all such evils." "What?" "The allowing a man to sell all his possessions, which another is permitted to acquire, and after selling them to go on living in the city, but as no part of it, neither a money-maker, nor a craftsman, nor a knight, nor a foot-soldier, but classified only as a pauper [πένης, penês ] and a dependent [ἄπορος, aporos ]." [552b] "This is the first," he said. "There certainly is no prohibition of that sort of thing in oligarchical states. Otherwise some of their citizens would not be excessively rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ], and others out and out paupers [πένητες, penêtes ]."

3 at 555b: "Then," said I, "is not the transition from oligarchy to democracy effected in some such way as this -- by the insatiate greed [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for that which oligarchy set before itself as the good, the attainment of the greatest possible wealth?"

MH : By contrast, look where Antiquity ended up by the 2 nd century BC. Rome physically devastated Athens, Sparta, Corinth and the rest of Greece. By the Mithridatic Wars (88-63 BC) their temples were looted and their cities driven into unpayably high debt to Roman tax collectors and Italian moneylenders. Subsequent Western civilization developed not from the democracy in Athens but from oligarchies supported by Rome. Democratic states were physically destroyed, blocking civic regulatory power and imposing pro-creditor legal principles making foreclosures and forced land sales irreversible.

JS: It seems that Greek and Roman Antiquity could not solve the problem of economic polarization. That makes me want to ask about our own country: To what extent does America resemble Rome under the emperors?

MH: Wealthy families have always tried to break "free" from central political power -- free to destroy the freedom of people they get into debt and take their land and property. Successful societies maintain balance. That requires public power to check and reverse the excesses of personal wealth seeking, especially debt secured by the debtor's labor and land or other means of self-support. Balanced societies need the power to reverse the tendency of debts to grow faster than the ability to be paid. That tendency runs like a red thread through Greek and Roman history.

This overgrowth of debt is also destabilizing today's U.S. and other financialized economies. Banking and financial interests have broken free of tax liability since 1980, and are enriching themselves not by helping the overall economy grow and raising living standards, but just the opposite: by getting the bulk of society into debt to themselves.

This financial class is also indebting governments and taking payment in the form of privatizing the public domain. (Greece is a conspicuous recent example.) This road to privatization, deregulation and un-taxing of wealth really took off with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan cheerleading the anti-classical philosophy of Frederick von Hayek and the anti-classical economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys.

Something much like this happened in Rome. Arnold Toynbee described its oligarchic land grab that endowed its ruling aristocracy with unprecedented wealth as Hannibal's Revenge. That was the main legacy of Rome's Punic Wars with Carthage ending around 200 BC. Rome's wealthy families who had contributed their jewelry and money to the war effort, made their power grab and said that what originally appeared to be patriotic contributions should be viewed as having been a loan. The Roman treasury was bare, so the government (controlled by these wealthy families) gave them public land, the ager publicus that otherwise would have been used to settle war veterans and other needy.

Once you inherit wealth, you tend to think that it's naturally yours, not part of society's patrimony for mutual aid. You see society in terms of yourself, not yourself as part of society. You become selfish and increasingly predatory as the economy shrinks as a result of your indebting it and monopolizing its land and property. You see yourself as exceptional, and justify this by thinking of yourself as what Donald Trump would call "a winner," not subject to the rules of "losers," that is, the rest of society. That's a major theme in Greek philosophy from Socrates andPlato and Aristotle through the Stoics. They saw an inherent danger posed by an increasingly wealthy landholding and creditor ruling class atop an indebted population at large. If you let such a class emerge independently of social regulation and checks on personal egotism and hubris, the economic and political system becomes predatory. Yet that has been the history of Western civilization.

Lacking a tradition of subordinating debt and land foreclosure from smallholders, the Greek and Italian states that emerged in the 7 th century BC took a different political course from the Near East. Subsequent Western civilization lacked a regime of oversight to alleviate debt problems and keep the means of self-support broadly distributed.

The social democratic movements that flowered from the late 19 th century until the 1980s sought to re-create such regulatory mechanisms, as in Teddy Roosevelt's trust busting, the income tax, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, postwar British social democracy. But these moves to reverse economic inequality and polarization are now being rolled back, causing austerity, debt deflation and the concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. As oligarchies take over government, they lorded it over the rest of society much like feudal lords who emerged from the wreckage of the Roman Empire in the West.

The tendency is for political power to reflect wealth. Rome's constitution weighted voting power in proportion to one's landholdings, minimizing the voting power of the non-wealthy. Today's private funding of political campaigns in the United States is more indirect in shifting political power to the Donor Class, away from the Voting Class. The effect is to turn governments to serve a financial and property-owning class instead of prosperity for the economy at large. We thus are in a position much like that of Rome in 509 BC, when the kings were overthrown by an oligarchy claiming to "free" their society from any power able to control the wealthy. The call for "free markets" today is for deregulation of rentier wealth, turning the economy into a free-for-all.

Classical Greece and Italy had a fatal flaw: From their inception they had no tradition of a mixed public/private economy such as characterized in the Near East, whose palatial economy and temples produced the main economic surplus and infrastructure. Lacking royal overrides, the West never developed policies to prevent a creditor oligarchy from reducing the indebted population to debt bondage, and foreclosing on the land of smallholders. Advocates of debt amnesties were accused of "seeking kingship" in Rome, or aspiring to "tyranny"(in Greece).

JS: It seems to me that you're saying this economic failure is Antiquity's original sin as well as fatal flaw. We have inherited a great philosophic and literary tradition from them analyzing and lamenting this failure, but without a viable program to set it right.

MH: That insight unfortunately has been stripped out of the curriculum of classical studies, just as the economics discipline sidesteps the phenomenon of wealth addiction. If you take an economics course, the first thing you're taught in price theory is diminishing marginal utility: The more of anything you have, the less you need it or enjoy it. You can't enjoy consuming it beyond a point. But Socrates and Aristophanes emphasized, accumulating money is not like eating bananas, chocolate or any other consumable commodity. Money is different because, as Socrates said, it is addictive, and soon becomes an insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ].

JS: Yes, I understand! Bananas are fundamentally different from money because you can get sick of bananas, but you can never have too much money! In your forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity , you quote what Aristophanes says in his play Plutus (the god of wealth and money). The old man Chremylus -- his name is based on the Greek word for money, chrêmata [χρήματα] -- Chremylus and his slave perform a duet in praise of Plutus as the prime cause of everything in the world, reciting a long list. The point is that money is a singular special thing: "O Money-god, people never get sick of your gifts. They get tired of everything else; they get tired of love and bread, of music and honors, of treats and military advancement, of lentil soup, etc., etc. But they never get tired of money. If a man has thirteen talents of silver -- 13 million dollars, say -- he wants sixteen; and if he gets sixteen, he will want forty, and so forth, and he will complain of being short of cash the whole time."

MH: Socrates's problem was to figure out a way to have government that did not serve the wealthy acting in socially destructive ways. Given that his student Platowas an aristocrat and that Plato's students in the Academy werearistocratsas well, how can you have a government run by philosopher-kings? Socrates's solution was not practical at that time: Rulers should not have money or property. But all governments were based on the property qualification, so his proposal for philosopher-kings lacking wealth was utopian. And like Plato and other Greek aristocrats, they disapproved of debt cancellations, accusing these of being promoted by populist leaders seeking to become tyrants.

JS: Looking over the broad sweep of Roman history, your book describes how, century after century, oligarchs were whacking every energetic popular advocate whose policies threatened their monopoly of political power, and their economic power as creditors and privatizers of the public domain, Rome's ager publicus , for themselves.

I brought with me on the train Cæsar's Gallic War . What do you think of Cæsar and how historians have interpreted his role?

MH: The late 1 st century BC was a bloodbath for two generations before Cæsar was killed by oligarchic senators. I think his career exemplifies what Aristotle said of aristocracies turning into democracies: He sought to take the majority of citizens into their own camp to oppose the aristocratic monopolies of landholding, the courts and political power.

Cæsar sought to ameliorate the oligarchic Senate's worst abuses that were stifling Rome's economy and even much of the aristocracy. Mommsen is the most famous historian describing how rigidly and unyieldingly the Senate opposed democratic attempts to achieve a role in policy-making for the population at large, or to defend the debtors losing their land to creditors, who were running the government for their own personal benefit. He described how Sulla strengthened the oligarchy against Marius, and Pompey backed the Senate against Caesar. But competition for the consulship and other offices was basically just a personal struggle among rival individuals, not rival concrete political programs. Roman politics was autocratic from the very start of the Republic when the aristocracy overthrew the kings in 509 BC. Roman politics during the entire Republic was a fight by the oligarchy against democracy and the populace as a whole.

The patricians used violence to "free" themselves from any public authority able to check their own monopoly of power, money and land acquisition by expropriating smallholders and grabbing the public domain being captured from neighboring peoples. Roman history from one century to the next is a narrative of killing advocates of redistributing public land to the people instead of letting it be grabbed by the patricians, or who called for a debt cancellation or even just an amelioration of the cruel debts laws.

On the one hand, Mommsen idolized Cæsar as if he were a kind of revolutionary democrat. But given the oligarchy's total monopoly on political power and force, Mommsen recognized that under these conditions there could not be any political solution to Rome's economic polarization and impoverishment. There could only be anarchy or a dictatorship. So Caesar's role was that of a Dictator -- vastly outnumbered by his opposition.

A generation before Caesar, Sulla seized power militarily, bringing his army to conquer Rome and making himself Dictator in 82 BC. He drew up a list of his populist opponents to be murdered and their estates confiscated by their killers. He was followed by Pompey, who could have become a dictator but didn't have much political sense, so Caesar emerged victorious. Unlike Sulla or Pompey, he sought a more reformist policy to check the senatorial corruption and self-dealing.

The oligarchic Senate's only "political program" was opposition to "kingship" or any such power able to check its land grabbing and corruption. The oligarchs assassinated him, as they had killed Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus in 133 and 121, the praetor Asellio who sought to alleviate the population's debt burden in 88 by trying to enforce pro-creditor laws, and of course the populist advocates of debt cancellation such as Catiline and his supporters. Would-be reformers were assassinated from the very start of the Republic after the aristocracy overthrew Rome's kings.

JS: If Caesar had been successful, what kind of ruler might he have been?

MH: In many ways he was like the reformer-tyrants of the 7 th and 6 th centuries in Corinth, Megara and other Greek cities. They all were members of the ruling elite. He tried to check the oligarchy's worst excesses and land grabs, and like Catiline, Marius and the Gracchi brothers before him, to ameliorate the problems faced by debtors. But by his time the poorer Romans already had lost their land, so the major debts were owed by wealthier landowners. His bankruptcy law only benefited the well-to-do who had bought land on credit and could not pay their moneylenders as Rome's long Civil War disrupted the economy. The poor already had been ground down. They supported him mainly for his moves toward democratizing politics at the expense of the Senate.

JS: After his assassination we get Caesar's heir Octavian, who becomes Augustus. So we have the official end of the Republic and the beginning of a long line of emperors, the Principate. Yet despite the Senate's authority being permanently diminished, there is continued widening of economic polarization. Why couldn't the Emperors save Rome?

MH: Here's an analogy for you: Just as nineteenth-century industrial reformers thought that capitalism's political role was to reform the economy by stripping away the legacy of feudalism -- a hereditary landed aristocracy and predatory financial system based mainly on usury -- what occurred was not an evolution of industrial capitalism into socialism. Instead, industrial capitalism turned into finance capitalism. In Rome you had the end of the senatorial oligarchy followed not by a powerful, debt-forgiving central authority (as Mommsen believed that Caesar was moving toward, and as many Romans hoped that he was moving towards), but to an even more polarized imperial garrison state.

JS: That's indeed what happened. The emperors who ruled in the centuries after Cæsar insisted on being deified -- they were officially "divine," according to their own propaganda. Didn't any of them have the potential power to reverse the Roman economy's ever-widening polarization of the, like the Near Eastern "divine kings" from the third millennium BC into the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and even the Persian Empire in the first millennium?

MH: The inertia of Rome's status quo and vested interests among patrician nobility was so strong that emperors didn't have that much power. Most of all, they didn't have a conceptual intellectual framework for changing the economy's basic structure as economic life became de-urbanized and shifted to self-sufficient quasi-feudal manor estates. Debt amnesties and protection of small self-sufficient tax-paying landholders as the military base was achieved only in the Eastern Roman Empire, in Byzantium under the 9 th – and 10 th -century emperors (as I've described in my history of debt cancellations in and forgive them their debts ).

The Byzantine emperors were able to do what Western Roman emperors could not. They reversed the expropriation of smallholders and annulled their debts in order to keep a free tax-paying citizenry able to serve in the army and provide public labor duties. But by the 11 th and 12 th centuries, Byzantium's prosperity enabled its oligarchy to create private armies of their own to fight against centralized authority able to prevent their grabbing of land and labor.

It seems that Rome's late kings did something like this. That is what attracted immigrants to Rome and fueled its takeoff. But with prosperity came rising power of patrician families, who moved to unseat the kings. Their rule was followed by a depression and walkouts by the bulk of the population to try and force better policy. But that could no be achieved without democratic voting power, so faith was put in personal leader -- subject to patrician violence to abort any real economic democracy.

In Byzantium's case, the tax-avoiding oligarchy weakened the imperial economy to the point where the Crusaders were able to loot and destroy Constantinople. Islamic invaders were then able to pick up the pieces.

The most relevant point of studying history today should be how the economic conflict between creditors and debtors affected the distribution of land and money. Indeed, the tendency of a wealthy overclass to pursue self-destructive policies that impoverish society should be what economic theory is all about. We'll discuss this in Part 4.

Part 4: A New "Reality Economics" Curriculum is Needed

John Siman: I want to spell out the implications of the points that Socrates brought up, and with which you and I agree. That leaves the question facing us today: Is the American oligarchy and state as rapacious as that of Rome? Or is it universally the nature of oligarchy in any historical setting to be rapacious? And if so, where is it all leading?

Michael Hudson : If Antiquity had followed the "free market" policies of modern neoliberal economics, the Near East, Greece and Rome would never have gained momentum. Any such "free market" avoiding mutual aid and permitting a wealthy class to emerge and enslave the bulk of the population by getting it into debt and taking its land would have shrunk, or been conquered from without or by revolution from within. That's why the revolutions of the 7 th century BC, led to reformers subsequently called "tyrants" in Greece (and "kings" in Rome) were necessary to attract populations rather than reduce them to bondage.

So of course it is hard for mainstream economists to acknowledge that Classical Antiquity fell because it failed to regulate and tax the wealthy financial and landowning classes, and failed to respond to popular demands to cancel personal debts and redistribute the land that had been monopolized by the wealthy.

The wealth of the Greek and Roman oligarchies was the ancient counterpart to today's Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, and their extractive and predatory behavior is what destroyed Antiquity. The perpetuation of this problem even today, two thousand years later, should establish that the debt/credit dynamic and polarization of wealth is a central problem of Western civilization.

JS : So what were -- and are -- the political and social dynamic at work?

MH : The key is the concept of wealth addiction and how it leads to hubris -- arrogance that seeks to increase power in ways that hurt other people. Hubris is not merely over-reaching; it is socially injurious. The wealthy or power injure other people knowingly, to establish their power and status.

That is what Aristophanes meant when his characters say that wealth is not like bananas or lentil soup. Wealth has no object but itself . Wealth is status -- and also political control. The creditor's wealth is the debtor's liability. The key to its dynamic is not production and consumption, but assets and liabilities -- the economy's balance sheet. Wealth and status in the sense of who/whom. It seeks to increase without limit, and Socrates and Aristotle found the major example to be creditors charging interest for lending "barren" money. Interest had to be paid out of the debtor's own product, income or finally, forfeiture of property; creditors did not provide means of making interest to pay off the loan.

This is the opposite of Austrian School theories that interest is a bargain to share the gains to be made from the loan "fairly" between creditor and debtor. It also is the opposite of neoclassical price theory. The economics taught in universities today is based on a price theory that does not even touch on this point. The liberty that oligarchs claim is the right to indebt the rest of society and then demand full payment or forfeiture of the debtor's collateral. This leads to massive expropriations, as did the Junk Mortgage foreclosures after 2008 when President Obama failed to write down debts to realistic market values for real estate financed on loans far beyond the buyer's ability to pay. The result was 10 million foreclosures.

Yet today's mainstream economics treats the normal tendency to polarize between creditors and debtors, the wealthy and the have-nots, as an anomaly. It has been the norm for the last five thousand years, but economics sidesteps actual empirical history as if it is an anomaly in the fictional parallel universe created by the mainstream's unrealistic assumptions. Instead of being a science, such economics is science fiction.It trains students in cognitive dissonance that distracts them from understanding Classical Antiquity and the driving dynamics of Western civilization.

JS: This gets us back to the question of whether universities should just be shut down and started up all over again.

MH: You don't shut them down, you create a new group of universities with a different curriculum. The path of least resistance is to house this more functional curriculum in new institutions. That's what America's Republican and pro-industrial leaders recognized after the Civil War ended in 1865. They didn't shut down Harvard and Yale and Princeton and the Christian free-trade Anglophile colleges. They created state colleges funded by land grants, such as Cornell in upstate New York, and business schools such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, endowed by industrialists to providing an economic logic for the state's steel-making and related industrial protectionism. The result was an alternative economics to describe how America should develop as what they saw as a new civilization, free of the vestiges of Europe's feudal privileges, absentee ownership and colonialist mentality.

The Republicans and industrialists saw that America's prestige colleges had been founded long before the Civil War, basically as religious colleges to train the clergy. They taught British free trade theory, serving the New England commercial and banking interests and Southern plantation owners. But free trade kept the United States dependent on England. My book America's Protectionist Takeoff describes how the American School of Political Economy, led by Henry Carey and E. Peshine Smith (William Seward's law partner), developed an alternative to what was being taught in the religious colleges.

This led to a new view of the history of Western civilization and America's role in fighting against entrenched privilege. William Draper's Intellectual Development of Europe , and Andrew Dixon White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology saw the United States as breaking free from the feudal aristocracies that were a product of the way in which antiquity collapsed, economically and culturally.

JS : So business schools were originally progressive!

MH : Surprising as it may seem, the answer is Yes, to the extent that they described the global economy as tending to polarize under free trade and an absence of government protectionism, not to become more equal. They incorporated technology, energy-use and the environmental consequences of trade patterns into economic theory, such as soil depletion resulting from plantation monocultures. Mainstream economics fought against such analysis because it advocated markets "free" for polluters, "free" for nations to pursue policies that made them poorer and dependent on foreign credit.

JS : So this is how the Wharton School's first professor of economics, Simon Patten, one of the founders of American sociology, fits into this anti- rentier tradition! That is such a revelation to me! They developed an analysis of technology's effects on the economy, of monopoly pricing and economic rent as unearned income that increases the cost of living and cost of production. They explained the benefits of public infrastructure investment. Today that is called "socialism," but it was industrial capitalists who took the lead in urging such public investment, so as to lower their cost of doing business.

MH : The first U.S. business schools in the late 19 th century described rentiers as unproductive. That is why today's neoliberals are trying to rewrite the history of Institutionalism in a way that expurgates the Americans who wanted the government to provide public infrastructure to make America a low-cost economy, undersell England and other countries, and evolve into the industrial giant it became by the 1920s.

JS : That was Simon Patten's teaching at the Wharton School -- government-subsidized public infrastructure as the fourth factor of production.

MH : Yes. America's ruling political class tried to make the United States a dominant economy instead of a rentier economy of landlords and financial manipulators.

JS : How did the robber barons fit into this story?

MH : Not as industrialists or manufacturers, but as monopolists opposed by the industrial interests. It was Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and the Republicans that enacted the Sherman antitrust act. Its spirit was continued by Franklin Roosevelt.

JS :Is today's economy a second age of robber barons?

MH : It's becoming a second Gilded Age. An abrupt change of direction in economic trends occurred after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected in 1979/80. The result has been to invert what the 19 th -century economists understood to be a free market -- that is, a market free from a privileged hereditary class living on unearned income in the form of land rent, monopoly rent and financial extraction.

JS : I was in my first few years of college when Thatcher came in in 1979, and when Reagan was elected in 1980. I asked my economics professors what was going on, but I could not find a single professor to coherently describe the U-turn that was occurring. It certainly wasn't in Paul Samuelson's textbook that we were given.

MH : There's little logic for neoliberalism beyond a faith that short-term greed is the best way to optimize long-term growth. It is natural for the wealthiest classes to have this faith. Neoliberalism doesn't look at the economy as a social system, and it excludes as "externalities" concerns with the environment, debt dependency and economic polarization. It only asks how to make a short-term hit-and-run gain, regardless of whether this is done in a way that has a positive or negative overall social effect. Realistic economic logic is social in scope, and distinguishes between earned and unearned income. That is why economists such as Simon Patten and Thorstein Veblen decided to start afresh and create the discipline of sociology, to go beyond narrow individualistic economics being taught.

Today's mathematical economics is based on circular reasoning that treats all that has happened as having been inevitable. It is all survival of the fittest, so it seems that there is no alternative. This policy conclusion is built into economic methodology. If we weren't the fittest, we wouldn't have survived, so by definition (that is, circular reasoning), any alternative is less than fit.

Regarding the fact that you had to read Samuelson when you were in college, he was famous for his Factor Price Equalization Theorem claiming to prove mathematically that everybody and every nation tends naturally to become more and more equal (if government stands aside). He denied that the tendency of the global economy is to polarize, not equalize. The political essence of this equilibrium theory is its claim that economies tend to settle in a stable balance. In reality they polarize and then collapse if they do not reverse their polarizing financial and productivity and wealth dynamics are.

The starting point of economic theorizing should explain the dynamic that lead economics to polarize and collapse. That is the lesson of studying antiquity that we have discussed in our earlier talks. Writers in classical antiquity, like Bronze Age Near Eastern rulers before them and the Biblical prophets, recognized that a rentier economy tends to destroy the economy's productivity and widespread prosperity, and ultimately its survival. In today's world the Finance, Insurance,and Real Estate [FIRE] sector and monopolies are destroying the rest of the economy, using financial wealth to take over the government and disable its ability to prevent their operating in corrosive and predatory ways.

JS : Why aren't more people up in arms?

MH : They're only up in arms if they believe that there is an alternative. As long as the vested interests can suppress any idea that there is an alternative, that matters don't have to be this way, people just get depressed. In our third interview you spoke about Socrates and the Stoics producing a philosophy of lamentation and resignation. By his day there seemed no solution except to denounce wealth. When matters got much worse in the Roman Empire, wealth was abhorred. That became the message of Christianity.

What is needed is to define the scope of the alternative that you want. How can the economy grow when households, business, and government have to pay more and more of their revenue to the financial sector, which then turns around and lends its interest and related income out to indebt the economy even more? The effect is to extract even more income. Rising government debt and tax cuts for the rentiers lead to the privatization of public infrastructure and natural monopolies. Higher prices are charged for tolls to pay for public healthcare, education, roads and other services that were expected to be provided for free a century ago. Financialized privatization thus creates a high-rent, high-cost economy -- the opposite of industrial capitalism evolving into socialism to finally free society from rentier income.

JS: Wouldn't that be based on the insatiable desire [ἀπληστία, aplêstia ] for money and the super-rich [ὑπέρπλουτοι, hyper-ploutoi ] oligarchs in Book 8 of Plato's Republic ? So we get back to my question: Is the behavior of the super-rich a constant in human nature?

MH: Money-love [φιλοχρηματία, philochrêmatia ] has always been extreme because wealth is addictive. But their dynamic of credit -- other peoples' debts -- increasing at compound interest is mathematized and the economy is put on automatic pilot to self-destruct. Its business plan to "create wealth" by making financial gains at somebody else's expense, without limit. This kind of financial wealth is a zero-sum activity. The wealth of the creditor class, the One Percent, is achieved by indebting the 99 Percent.

JS: Why is it a zero-sum activity?

MH: A zero-sum activity is when one party's gain is another's loss. Instead of income paid to creditors being reinvested in means of production to help the economy grow, it's spent on buying more assets. The most wasteful examples are corporate stock buyback programs and financial raids. And the largest effect of financialization occurs as loans and Quantitative Easing simply bid up the price of real estate, stocks, bonds and other assets. The effect is to put housing and a retirement income further out of range of people who have to live by working for wages and salaries instead of living off absentee ownership, interest and financial asset-price gains.

JS: Why is this being done instead of investing in the economy to help the population live a better and more prosperous life?

MH: The tax and regulatory system is set up to make financial gains or create monopoly privileges. That is quicker and more certain, especially in an economy shrinking as a result of financialization and the austerity it imposes. It's hard to make profits by investing in a shrinking economy suffering from debt deflation and a squeeze on family budgets to pay for health care, education and other basic needs.

JS: So it becomes more about extraction. Let's come back to Global Climate Change and rising sea levels as a foundation of American foreign policy.

MH: Since the 19th century, American policy has been based on the recognition that GDP growth reflects rising energy use per capita. Rising productivity is almost identical with the curve of energy use per worker. That was the basic premise of E. Peshine Smith in 1853, and subsequent writers, whom I describe in America's Protectionist Takeoff: 1918-1914 . The policy conclusion is that if you can control the source of energy -- which remains mainly oil and coal -- then you can control global GDP growth. That is why Dick Cheney invaded Iraq: to grab its oil. It is why Trump announced his intention to topple Venezuela and take its oil.

If other nations are obliged to buy their oil from the United States or its companies, then it's in a monopoly position to turn off their electricity (like the United States did to Venezuela) and hurt their economies if they don't acquiesce in a world system that lets American financial firms come in and buy out their most productive monopolies and privatize theirpublic domain. That's why America's foreign policy is to monopolize the world's oil, gas and coal in order to have a stranglehold on the rate of growth of other countries by being able to deny them energy. It's like denying countries food in order to starve them out. The aim isto exploit Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America what Rome exploited its Empire.

JS: Would you be comfortable using words like evil to describe what's going on now?

MH : Evil essentially is predatory and destructive behavior. Socrates said that it ultimately is ignorance, because nobody would set out intentionally to do it. But in that case, evil would be an educational system that imposes ignorance and tunnel vision, distracting attention from understanding how economic society actually works in destructive ways. On that logic, post-classical neoliberal economics and the Chicago Boys are evil because their ideology breeds ignorance and leads its believers to act in ways that are injurious to society, preventing personal fulfillment through economic growth. Evil is a policy that makes most of society poorer, simply in order to enrich an increasingly wealth-addictive rentier layer at the top. Werner Sombart described the bourgeoisie as floating like a globules of fat on top of a soup.

JS: This is now happening on a path that follows an exponential extreme. I guess global warming makes it particularly evil. We're not simply talking about taking advantage of other people within a society, we're talking about destruction of the planet and its environment.

MH: Economists dismiss this as an "externality," that is, outside the scope of their models. So these models are deliberately ignorant. You could say that this makes them evil.

JS: That is what I've suspected since we started the Iraq War in 2003.

MH: America's military buildup, its anti-environmental policy and global wars are part of the same symbiotic strategy. The reason why America will not be part of a real effort to mitigate global warming is that its policy is still based on grabbing the oil resources of the Near East, Venezuela, and everywhere else that it can. Also, the oil industry is the most tax-exempt and politically powerful sector. If it also happens to be the primary cause of global warming, that is viewed as just collateral damage to America's attempt to control the world by controlling the oil supply. In that sense the environmental impasse is a byproduct of American imperialism.

JS: What's hopeful in the United States right now? What is a possible good outcome?

MH: T he precondition would be for people to realize that there is an alternative. Starting with wiping out of student debts, they can realize that the overall debt overhead can be wiped out without hurting the economy -- and indeed, rescuing it from the financial rentier class inasmuch as all debts on the liabilities side of the balance sheet have their counterpart on the asset side as the savings of today's financial oligarchy, which is doing to the U.S. economy what Rome's Senate did to the ancient world.

JS: How can people proceed from here?

MH: Understanding must come first. Once you have to have a sense of history, you realize that there is an alternative. You also see what happens when a creditor oligarchy gets strong enough to prevent any public power from writing down debts and to prevent attempts to tax it.

You have to do to America today what the Republicans did after the Civil War: You have to have a new university curriculum dealing with economic history, the history of economic thought and the real world's long-term development.

JS: And what would be the premise for such economic history?

MH: T he starting point is to realize that civilization began in the ancient Near East, and made a turn to oppose a strong public regulatory sector in Classical Greece and Rome. The long-term tension is the eternal fight by the oligarchy of creditors and large land owners to reduce the rest of society to serfdom, and to oppose strong rulers empowered to act in the economy's long-term interest by creating checks against this polarization.

JS : So how much longer does this go on -- for months, for years, for decades?

MH : It always goes on longer than you think it will. Inertia has a great elastic self-reinforcing power. Polarization will widen until people believe that there is an alternative and decide to fight for it. Two things are required for this to happen: First, a large proportion of people need to see that the economy is impoverishing them, and that the existing picture of what is happening is misleading. Instead of wealth trickling down, it is defying gravity and sucking income up from the base of the economic pyramid. People are having to work harder just to stay in place, until their life style breaks down.

Second, people must realize that it doesn't have to be this way. There is an alternative

JS : Right now most people think that government regulation and progressive taxation will make things worse, and that the wealthy are job creators, not job destroyers. They think that the system needs to be bolstered, not replaced, because the alternative is "socialism" -- that is, what the Soviets did, not what Franklin Roosevelt was doing. But today bailing out the banks and giving subsidies to new employers is said to be for our own good.

MH : That's what the Romans told their provinces. Everything they did was always to preserve "good order," meaning open opportunities for their own wealth grabbing. They never said they were out to destroy and loot other societies. Madeline Albright followed this rhetorical pattern in describing as being, like the Romans and France's brutal mission civilisatrice , a program to uplift the world free-market efficiency. For performing this service, the imperial power takes all the money that its colonies, provinces and allies can generate. That's why the U.S. meddles in foreign politics, as we have just seen in Ukraine, Libya and Syria.

JS : You've described the greatest meddling as distorting the narrative of history to depict creditor and rentier drives toward oligarchy as being democratic and helping to raise living standards and culture. Your books show just the opposite.

MH : Thank you. (Republished from Naked Capitalism by permission of author or representative)


Dutch Boy , says: April 6, 2019 at 7:07 pm GMT

Questions for Dr. Hudson: Why should a public banking system charge interest at all on loans? Could they not merely charge a one-time service fee to cover the cost of loan administration and a one-time insurance fee to cover the costs of defaulting on the loan? After all, they are not actually loaning money – they are creating money at minimal risk to the bank. Charging interest to create money strikes me as mere theft.
obwandiyag , says: April 7, 2019 at 2:37 am GMT
But, you see, Michael Hudson is a liberal, and so you can't listen to him. Even if you understood what he was saying.
wayfarer , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:58 am GMT
Abrahamism, the red herring du jour, for humanity.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions

MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:14 am GMT
@Dutch Boy

Charging interest to create money strikes me as mere theft.

The school of Salamanca is where this idea of interest on money was codified, where the Jesuit priests proclaimed it as a loss of wants. That is, since people loaned out their money, they didn't get use of it, so they should be paid for their loss.

If you examine how banking works, banks hypothecate new money the moment you sign a debt instrument. Both the new bank credit and debt instrument pop into being simultaneously.

To ask for compounding interest on this simple legerdemain is an outrageous abuse, so you are right it is theft.

There are situations where it is not usurious. For example, Schacht's MefoBills scheme, the interest fluxed outward from Reichsbank to the bill holder. A bill would be presented to industry, and said industry would then start work making goods. Bill would then be presented for discount, which is fancy way of saying paid for, or paid off. Upon discount, bill would be examined to see if goods were produced. Then the bill would be paid its full face value AND the interest it accrued.

Reichsmarks flowed from Reichsbank to the bill holder, who was paid interest. The bill holder then spent his new Reichsmarks into the money supply.

Benjamin Franklin's public bank spent into the commons the extra money necessary for debtors to pay interest on their loans. The commons were improved, so one could view this as non usurious, even though it was positive interest. For the most part, FEES are all that should accompany new loans, not compounding interest.

Canada had a quasi sovereign economy 1938 to 1974 and spent debt free into the commons and on public infrastructure, their economy did not polarize toward creditors. The Ministry of Finance owned all the common shares of Bank of Canada. BOC was a crown bank.

Note in all the "good" examples, interest flowed outward from an exogenous creator toward the population. In bad examples of interest, it drains purchasing power from the population.

By the way, a MEFOBILL scheme today could be used to release debts. The bill is created exogenously by Treasury or even a shell company. The bill has a drawer, payee and drawee. It is like a check. It channels toward a specific goal. For example, if you wanted to pay off student debts, then the bill would aim at the student, who then presents bill to bank holding student's debt instrument. Bill would eventually make its way to the FED through bank reserve loops, and FED would expand their ledger. FED would use their keyboard to make new dollars, which flow back into private bank system to pay off the students debt instrument. So double entry mechanic laws are not abrogated. Student's debt disappeared, and Mefobill stays on FED ledger forever, not accruing interest. Or, you could specify a small amount of interest to the bank as a fee for their operations.

U.S. could use Mefobill scheme to lure industry back to the U.S. as it specifically channels toward a goal.

The money system is something we humans created, it can be used for good or ill. To paraphrase Michael, we need good civil law that codes for morality.

Max , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:42 am GMT
That was a soul-transforming read. It put into words what I could never put into words, but on an instinctive level I have always felt these things. I have always had this irrational hatred of bankers, landlords, capitalists, and any one else who dances to that faggy Gordon Gekko tune. But I could never figure out why, let alone explain it clearly. This article has done that for me right here and right now today. I am so grateful. This one is a keeper, now I finally understand my hate. And I am proud of it. This is why Hitler was a good person, he made these little bitch finance fags squeal and screech like the untermenschen they really are.

It is interesting to note that the facts explored in this article corroborate and synchronize with the facts explored in an amateur work titled "The Sumerian Swindle: How the Jews Betrayed Mankind." If you look you can print the book free off the internet somewhere.

From now on I only see humans in two distinct groups: productive people who work for a living, and parasitic leeches who exploit the former. Twas ever thus. Let us successfully genocide the latter in the near future.

Heil Hitler!

Sean , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:49 am GMT
The book sounds extremely interesting. I will probably get it, but that thing about the Kaiser is a bad mistake. The German nation had been subjected to France and its proxies marching across it for centuries. As always happens it unified in the face of threat, but financially the structure was still harking back to the Holy Roman Empire. Being decentralised as far as raising revenues was concerned, the Kaiser was unable to exert the full strength of Germany. The Weimar government instituted reforms were intended to remedy that for defensive purposes, but unfortunately Hitler inherited those reforms and that extra wherewithal was a major reason for the early military successes in WW2 that set the world agog.

Germany began to be a mixed economy in the decades leading up to World War I. But it had a mentally retarded king whom they didn't know how to restrain, given their cultural faith in royalty. China is of course the most successful recent mixed economy.

Dubious.France had financed massive military preparation by Russia, and Poincaire (cousin of the brilliant physicist) was fixated with recovering Alsace and Lorraine (where he was born). The military situation was gravely deteriorating for Germany partly because Germany. The Kaiser did not attack France in 1905 when Britain had a tiny army and Russia was in chaos. That was the craziest thing he did as leader.

G. Poulin , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:01 am GMT
Mr. Hudson thinks we can get the desirable results of Divine Kingship without having Divine Kings, simply by enacting "laws" that promote a broad distribution of wealth. But he also says that the oligarchy makes the laws and appoints the "elected" lawmakers. So he's engaged in an exercise in wishful thinking. There is no democratic path to his desired result.
jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm GMT
An excellent tour de force completely relevant to the major problems we face today, so thank you , Ron Unz!

and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society.

It's extremely obvious that's is exactly what our "constitution" was designed to do. Hudson's insistence that debt must be government controlled runs into the problem consistently, which both he and the interviewer discuss.

Essentially, the problem is that whoever gets the power will abuse it. "The government" is no more a disinterested group of parties than the oligarchs or the plutocrats. The best answer is to have a noble ruling class, but good luck with that; it will never happen at least on a permanent basis.

So what's the answer? I wish I knew

The best [the Greek philosophers] could do was to inspire and educate individuals

I highly doubt anyone can do much more, but the last thing to do is to hope for some Messiah, especially a rich one. Are you tRumpeteers listening?

PS: I liked the mention of Aristophanes. All of his plays are as instructive as they are amusing and should be read by all. Same with Lucian of Samosata and Juvenal to mention just a few.

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm GMT
JS said: "Right now most people think that government regulation and progressive taxation will make things worse,"

Er, no, most people do not "think" that [ if they "think" at all].

They mostly "think" the exact opposite.

Due to their public [ie government funded] er,"education" [ie brainwashing], they are actually dumb enough to believe that more government, and more regulations will make things better for them, despite the fact that more than any other factor, it is the size and scope of government that has directly caused the financial problems most of them are now experiencing. "Stupid is a stupid does".

In fact, more, bigger government and more regulations will only further increase poverty and make things even worse for them all than they are today.

This just in:

"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree

Government doesn't work" Harry Browne

"Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class." Albert J. Nock

"Everything government touches turns to crap" Ringo Starr

"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken

Regards, onebornfree

Externality Combustion , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm GMT
Regarding global warming: Given that " just five to six degrees in average global warming would be enough to wipe out most life on the planet ," and realizing that the Trump Administration's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already acquiesced to 4°C by 2100 , it is apparent that by 2125 to 2150 or soon thereafter, humanity will be over, guaranteed. Probably much sooner. Even completely destroying industrial civilization right now won't stop the 6th Mass Extinction, because of McPherson's Paradox .
David , says: April 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT

There was no concept of linear progress in Antiquity. They thought that there was only one way to do things, so any reform must be the way the world was meant to be in the very beginning.

The Hebrews had their liberation from captivity, Hesiod had his three prior ages "before there was iron," Odysseus travels the world observing the various ways of men, Plato envisions a radical transformation of human society, Aristotle compares the constitutions of various Greek city-states, Thucydides resorts to archaeology to show that the Athenians were not the original inhabitants of the Attic Peninsula.

It's not difficult to come up with what seem to be counter examples to Hudson's assertion that there was no "linear progress" and no vision of other ways of doing things in Antiquity. Ancient Mediterranean societies did see humanity as moving in a direction, evolving by discovery and by making new institutions to address novel problems.

jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 1:09 pm GMT
@Sean

but that thing about the Kaiser is a bad mistake.

I found that peculiar as well. Another thing that was out of place was the "deification" of Teddy Roosevelt and his so called trust busting as well as FDR's continuously "evolving" New Deals. Both Roosevelts and their programs were tRump-like frauds whose main interest was self aggrandizement at whatever cost.

Like tRump, the rhetoric was grand but the motive and execution left much to be desired. While I get what Hudson is saying when he sez "there oughta be a law," I think history has proven, repeatedly, that while there's a possibility that there ought to be one, it's not likely it'll do much good, and certainly no permanent good.

Great article nevertheless.

DESERT FOX , says: April 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm GMT
The greatest debt creator in the history of America is the zionists privately owned FED and the zionist owned central banks in every country in the world that create money out of thin air and charge the goyim/proles for the use of this zionist created charade, which started in 1913 here in the zio/US with the diabolical draconian demonic FED.

Free America, abolish the FED and return to government created , debt free money as was the case prior to December 23, 1913!

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 1:22 pm GMT
@Externality Combustion Externality Combustion says: "it is apparent that by 2125 to 2150 or soon thereafter, humanity will be over, guaranteed."

Hmm .Unless we all vote for . who exactly[who promises to do what, exactly]?

Who's gonna be our saviour, according to you, pray tell ?

Regards, onebornfree

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 2:39 pm GMT
@G. Poulin G. Poulin says: "Mr. Hudson thinks we can get the desirable results of Divine Kingship without having Divine Kings, simply by enacting "laws" that promote a broad distribution of wealth. "

Yup. The whole, as per usual, "benevolent dictator" fantasy writ large, yet once again. It never stops.

You'd think that by now, this late in the game, and given history, that most people would have finally figured out that government "solutions" never worked , and never can, or will.

But no, luckily for governments, there's always a plentiful supply of new, brainwashed dreamer/fantasists [or "suckers" as P.T Barnum reportedly called them], who are ever more eager for a government that does what they think it should do, and who "think" that it/they actually will, despite all the historical evidence directly contradicting their inane fantasies.

See: "Why Government Doesn't Work" by Harry Browne:
https://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Why_Government_Doesn%27t_Work

Regards, onebornfree

jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:00 pm GMT

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the
government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the
government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of
kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."

–Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.

" idealists and realists begin to get on each other's nerves. But the real difference is in the capacity for appreciating the immense gap of blue inane which separates earth from heaven, and in the realist's unwillingness to assume that men have angels' wings. "

– Walter Lippman, Angels to the Rescue, The New Republic, January 1, 1916, p. 221 –

Human nature is still human nature. The angels haven't started breeding yet.

– William Allen White, Graft and Human Nature, review of Public Plunder, by David G. Loth, The Saturday Review, October 1, 1938, p. 6

MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:24 pm GMT
@onebornfree oneborn free, your screed is you projecting fears about abusive government.

Hudson just explained in historical terms that it is only properly constructed government that can reign in Oligarchy. It is clear that society WILL polarize toward creditors if certain safeguards are not put in place.

So, you will have to come to grips with your cognitive dissonance.

Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role." Anything outside of that role is government overstepping its bounds.

By providing the framework, Hudson is doing the world a tremendous service, and as such he will go down as one of the great men of history.

New glasses are being put on your nose, but you prefer to wear your old glasses that make you see improperly?

It reminds me of all the wishful thinking about China, how their ghost cities are going to do them in, and their economy cannot keep doing so well, and so on. It is people not believing what is right in front of their eyes, or their inability to see outside of their brainwashed mentality.

Wally , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:44 pm GMT
@obwandiyag No, Hudson is a Communist.
MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:49 pm GMT
Hudson says that public banks are an option for erasing debts.

China does this now with their state banks, which is one of their secret weapons.

In the mid 90's China swept all of their old communist era debt into the trash can. This then made their "books" look good to Western Finance standards, and China was essentially given MFN status.

Then it was game on! Wall Street soon greenmailed American industry to leave for China, to then get some of that wage arbitrage. We are living in the aftermath of this civilization destroying decision making by our ruling finance class.

China has helped the wall street finance class loot America, as China creates new Yuans from their state banks to match their countries growth rate. These new Yuans have to be there in order to swap for dollars won in trade. The dollars end up in China's state banks, and are recycled back to the U.S. to buy TBills instead of buying goods from mainstreet.

Today and reality is staring you in the face. Look at it. America's finance class did indeed export jobs and our patrimony, and china did indeed use their public banking system. China is working for their people's benefit, while a traitor class of finance oligarchy is working against the public interest in America.

Those of you who are against Public banks need to get real and look at actual data. For example, the bank of North Dakota is a public bank and has a good track record. Please, use data and think for yourself rather than being a brainwashed dupe.

Another way is to continue to use PRIVATE BANKS, and have public money. The money supply is nationalized, not the bank. All new money comes into being from a monetary authority or Treasury as per the constitution. Banks then become gyro, which is a fancy word for inter-mediation. Banks stop making money with a new debt instrument, but instead only match up new creditors and debtors with existing money.

Within each private bank are two piles of numbers: 1) Pile A is people's savings, which preferably was debt free at inception 2) Pile B is government credit, or national credit.

National Credit can be channeled toward specific goals that the country has agreed is in its interests.

You as a debtor can borrow from either pile. The national credit creates a debt instrument that can be easily jubileed in the same easy way as could a debt instrument hypothecated at a public bank.

Public banks to my mind are a little too close to government even though they have a good history. Nationalizing the money supply instead is better. Why? A good percentage of supply becomes floating money (debt free) and this component becomes a permanent inheritance to the people, giving them freedom to do commerce. An economically free people are also politically free.

Externality Combustion , says: April 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm GMT
@onebornfree Savior? Nothing can stop what has been set in motion, namely, Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction, as the climate shifts rapidly to a New Cretaceous "hothouse" climate. Neither voting nor your anarchism can invalidate scientific evidence. Apparently, you can't read, because McPherson's Paradox explains humanity's conundrum in plain terms: (a) continuing to evaporate Earth's coal beds and oil fields into the atmosphere ensures our quick extinction from global warming, and (b) stopping fossil fuel use only hastens our demise, because of "global masking effect" or " global dimming ." Do you really think that evaporating coal beds and oil fields into the atmosphere has no consequences?

"[T]heir complete extinction (in the co-extinction scenario) was abrupt, and happened far from their tolerance limits, and close to global diversity collapse ( around 5 °C of heating )"

Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change (Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 16724, published 13 November 2018) http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35068-1

Remember, Trump has already promised 4 °C of heating is baked into the cake, and stopping fossil fuel use would remove the "global dimming" effect of air pollution and lead to a near instantaneous rise of 2°C. A true paradox has no solution.

Biff , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm GMT
@onebornfree You're a broken record that needs to be tossed up in the air in front of a twelve gauge.
flashlight joe , says: April 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm GMT
@MEFOBILLS @MEFOBILLS

Very good and well thought out reply.

anonymous [340] Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 6:07 pm GMT
@onebornfree Young man (I'm guessing):

1. Please use your commenting privilege to address the substance of the articles. The sentence that you first quote is ancillary to this one, but you've plucked it out as a wedge for your umpteenth anarchic strut.

2. Why so frequently insulting? I happen to share your general perspective, but if you're prosletyzing your style stinks.

3. If nothing else, please realize that you only need to piss once on each hydrant to leave your mark.

Stern , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 6:23 pm GMT
Sorry for my English. Could anyone write about whether or not there is a consolidated influence of the Zionist Jewish community within China?
strikelawyer , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMT
Can't we just solve our problems with a constitutional amendment?

https://strikelawyer.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/homestead-amendment-just-the-text/

niteranger , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:17 pm GMT
@Dutch Boy Unfortunately, Dr. Hudson never attacks the "Elephant in the Room -- –The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews." The Jews control all pathways including media, social and economic which they will never relinquish because with the money they make they control the world's politicians by using the greed of mankind against them.

The Jews use the Holocaust to intimidate stupid whites in Western Civilization with guilt and control everything including our foreign policy to immigration. Civilization will not survive as long as the power of the Jews continue to rule mankind.

tz1 , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:20 pm GMT
@Dutch Boy Consider that a 10 year loan at 4% now would then have a fee (simple, not even compound interest) of 40% of the principle.

It defeats the purpose of a loan paying over time. Even the 20% down is for equity, not prepayment of interest.

Or you could simply roll the fees in. There is a House for sale for $200,000. The bank buys it but then to get ownership with lein, and you have to pay the bank $300,000 to cover everything (do you get any equity before going positive?).

How about just saving money including gold in your mattress until you can afford something?

tz1 , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:22 pm GMT
@MEFOBILLS Federal Reserve, TARP, and QE – the debts of the banksters were erased and they paid themselves bonuses, and it took more cash that would pay off every mortgage of those who lost their homes
jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 7:55 pm GMT
@Stern

Sorry for my English. Could anyone write about whether or not there is a consolidated influence of the Zionist Jewish community within China?

Your English is fine, and your question excellent.

MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:28 pm GMT
@niteranger

Unfortunately, Dr. Hudson never attacks the "Elephant in the Room -- –The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews."

Hudson does but in a peripheral way. See below. Our (((friends))) like to use their capital rather than labor. They use usury as a weapon, and tend to be among the Oligarch class. Why? Because their religion gives cover and sanction for predatory behavior. Note that our friends adore Hillel. Jewish religion went off the rails after Hillel, and is now an apologist for the creditor class, and hence against a balanced logos type world.

Hudson cannot go after the Jews, but I can and so can you. It is ok to point out where Jewish ideology becomes "Crime Inc." In fact, I find the most moral people to be anti-semites, so Hudson who obviously has a strong moral basis, is smart enough to NOT touch the Jewish third rail, or he would become persona non-grata.

There is no question Hudson possesses a first class mind, and by not touching the third rail he is preserving his career. It is up to us to decode what he is saying and we can be more blunt about things.

You don't have to be Jewish to be a predator, and by association most of us can decode what he is saying.

MH: Yes, but it ended with Rabbi Hillel and the Prozbul clause. Debtors had to sign this clause at the end of their debt contracts saying that they waived their rights under the Jubilee year in order to get a loan. That was why Jesus fought against the Pharisees and the rabbinical leadership. That's what Luke 4 is all about

Sean , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:33 pm GMT
@jacques sheete He also seems very keen on China's policy. From what I can make out this is because the government loans the money and can cancel the debt. So China being locked into growth by massively Keynesian policies that cannot be haltet for fear of global economic collapse is a good thing it seems. Hmmm.
jacques sheete , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:34 pm GMT
@flashlight joe Yes it is. I prefer his second option.
MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:38 pm GMT
@tz1 Federal Reserve, TARP, and QE – the debts of the banksters were erased and they paid themselves bonuses, and it took more cash that would pay off every mortgage of those who lost their homes

______________________________________________________

Yes of course. It would have been much better to take over the banks and give the "bond holders" a haircut.

What the haircut means is that the debt instrument cannot make claims on the future. The amount it can claim is written down to what the real economy can pay.

Our financial oligarchy did not want to take a haircut, and since they own the government, they made their politician puppets dance.

We cannot see what is in the bill till we pass the bill.

Some here have pointed out that democracy is a joke. Yes it is. Universal Suffrage democracy, where any rube can vote is especially bad.

You do need a ruling class which looks like the people it rules over. This ruling class also has to be servants of their people.

China's ruling class is constantly polling their people to get data on how they are doing. If a politician is found to be corrupt, they are killed or ejected. Think of it like your body, bad elements and parasites are attacked by the immune system, otherwise you (the host) will die.

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:49 pm GMT
@Biff "You're a broken record that needs to be tossed up in the air in front of a twelve gauge."

Seem like a lot of trouble to go to – especially as I might be carrying a 12 gauge, or similar, myself

This just in:
there's an "ignore" button – I suggest you learn how to use it.

No regards, onebornfree

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:52 pm GMT
@anonymous anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says: " your style stinks. "

I happen to like to "stink". Get used to it, get over it, or use the "ignore" button.

No regards, onebornfree

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 8:58 pm GMT
@Wally Wally says: "No, Hudson is a Communist."

Yes, that appears to be the case.

But regardless of whether the "commniunist" label is completely accurate or not, he's just yet another in a long line of naive intellectuals who thinks that the government can solve problems, problems it alone created.

"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken

Regards, onebornfree

MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 8:59 pm GMT
@tz1 Fee's on a loan should cover the bank's cost, which is a tiny fraction of what they take now in the form of usury.

Think closely on this, the bank makes a loan, and it is only a matter of typing of a debt instrument. Today with computers that amounts to a few minutes of work. They then on-sale the debt instrument to another, usually TBTF bank, and get rid of any risk.

The better way is for people to pool their savings, and the bank is gyro. Debtor then buys a house borrowing your savings. The old savings and loan system worked like this.

In Canada, when they had a sovereign banking system (1938 to 1974) they used trusts. Banks were not allowed to hypothecate new housing loans. Trusts and savings and loans both pool existing money and loan it out.

It was a beneficial cycle where the young borrowed from the old, and the old benefited from some interest income, to then buy goods and services produced by the young.

Interest isn't always bad, but you have to look at it in context. About 70% of debt instruments resident at banks are hypothecated against land. This is so finance oligarchy can GRAB THE LAND in a depression via swaps or other schemes. Depressions are inevitable when M2 is always draining to pay debts at interest.

In the case of Canada's trust system, the interest was cycling back to the young (interest was pointing outward to the population) to buy goods and services they produced.

onebornfree , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:18 pm GMT
@MEFOBILLS MEFOBILLS says: "Hudson just explained in historical terms that it is only properly constructed government that can reign in Oligarchy. It is clear that society WILL polarize toward creditors if certain safeguards are not put in place.So, you will have to come to grips with your cognitive dissonance. Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role." Anything outside of that role is government overstepping its bounds."

Short answer: "The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken

MEFOBILLS says: "Hudson also sets the framework for governments "proper role.""

This just in: it's "proper role" [ in the US] was already [supposedly ]"set" via the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and more famously via a coup d'etat which resulted in the scam called "The Constitution and Bill of Rights" .

Although the Constitution remains a scam to this day, a return to its supposed limits would, at least temporarily, drastically downsize the federal government, which would be step in the right direction.

For government is the problem, never the solution.

But of course, yourself [and most others here] remain too brainwashed [by the government, and with your money] to ever understand that

regards, onebornfree

onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 9:23 pm GMT
@onebornfree Correction: "communist" , not "commniunist". My bad.
Sollipsist , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm GMT
Ya gotta watch out when someone takes Marx's economic observations (which were impressive) as an automatic pass for his social prescriptions (which were a gateway to hell on earth).
Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:38 pm GMT
@Dutch Boy As a matter of logic aren't those creators of money reducing the value of the money held by those who have saved to get it? So doesn't fairness require that they use interest rates to maimtain the stability of the currency's value?
Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:49 pm GMT
@Max So you advocate euthanasia (when you are feeling nice rather than cruel and vengeful) of the rapidly increasing retired population? Understood that you need to support the infant generation but Hitler had the answer for that one didn't he: euthanasia of those who wouldn't be able to contribute. How long do we indulge people with an unemployment benefit?
Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 9:54 pm GMT
@Sean Thank you. Even if I conclude the BS component is high, you have given me thoughts to follow up
Wizard of Oz , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
@jacques sheete Which US subsidy programs might be regarded as proleptic jubilees? And writeoffs like that massive solar energy disaster under Obama are surely equivalent to the jubilees. And welfare payments are surely jubilees in advance.
anon [420] Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:06 pm GMT
@niteranger The Control of Economies by the Magic Jews? But do we Gentiles not owe our material wealth to the Jews for the blessing they've provided us ? Whites are utterly incapable of providing their own salvation .
Ilyana_Rozumova , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:32 pm GMT
Yup! kings forgave debts.
.
When they needed suckers to fight and die for them.
onebornfree , says: Website April 7, 2019 at 10:34 pm GMT
@Sollipsist Sollipsist says: "Ya gotta watch out when someone takes Marx's economic observations (which were impressive) as an automatic pass for his social prescriptions (which were a gateway to hell on earth)."

Wrongo. Marx's economic theories were as as idiotic as his social prescriptions- in fact, his "social prescriptions" were directly derived from his idiotic economic theories, which is exactly why such "social prescriptions" are, as you say, "a gateway to hell on earth".

As for the author of this article , pure Marxist or not, his own "social prescriptions" are, like Marx's , the mere pontifications of a pseudo-intellectual statist, fantasizing about solving social problems via that which he worships and adores , that is , yet more government [of the "right" kind, mind you, and despite its obvious failure to do any such thing to date].

Another case of "the blind leading the blind", I'm afraid, just more of the same old hackneyed "government should do this- government can solve this " claptrap .

.and so it goes.

Regards, onebornfree

republic , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:43 pm GMT
@Max https://archive.org/details/TheSumerianSwindle/page/n1
MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:50 pm GMT
@Wally

No, Hudson is a Communist.

Hudson spent half the article talking about mixed economies being the best and only type to work.

Also, it was the JEWISH CREDITOR CLASS, that funded Bolshevism. Wall Street Jews and some London money funded the Bolsheviks.

Bolshevism in turn was not what Marx had intended.

Marx thought that industrial capitalism, especially that of the type he witnessed in Germany, would evolve into an advanced form of socialism mixed economy. It would evolve after industrial capitalism failed, or industrial capitalism would have evolved.

Instead, finance capitalism, that of the rentier credit class won out .

When Marx died, he said "I am a most unhappy man."

Instead of getting caught up in labels, look at the data or what they actually believe in. It takes a little bit more energy and effort, rather than falling for simple platitudes.

Hudson's childhood background was Bolshevik, but he didn't pick his parents. If you look at his actual body of work, he is analyzing where all economic systems fail.

Russian and Chinese communism failed because markets are not purely inelastic. You cannot pretend that every market type needs government control, especially when pricing signals will work. Systems that are predicated on lies, will not survive in the long term.

MEFOBILLS , says: April 7, 2019 at 10:57 pm GMT
@onebornfree

For government is the problem, never the solution.

Simple minded platitudes.

ALL COMPLEX SYSTEMS HAVE HIERARCHY!

All advanced civilizations have hierarchy.

There has to be a "brain" for any complex organization, it will not self organize.

This whole market is your god, or gold is your god is the rentier class duping you with hypnosis.

Funny thing about Libertarian-tards and their junk economics, the very thing they want they cannot have because their ideology brings about what they don't want – economic slavery.

Free markets are free for the rentier to take his gains on your life energy and turn you into his debt slave.

OH BUT MY FREE-DUMB.

Anonymous [184] Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:08 pm GMT
@onebornfree Your LoLbertarianism has the same stupid goal as Marxism, i.e., achieving glorious stateless society.

• "Withering away of the state" is a Marxist concept
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withering_away_of_the_state

• Both anarchists and Marxists seek a stateless society
http://socialistworker.org/2009/03/06/marxist-view-of-the-state

• This is the "anarchy" of the future stateless society which Marx and Engels had accepted in 1872. Man becomes "his own master – free". The first condition for this full-fledged freedom is: freedom from the state, not of the state, nor merely in the state. As far as Marx's eye could see, the state is not the guarantor of freedom
http://www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1970/xx/state.html

You and Marx are cut from the same cloth.

Sam J. , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:08 pm GMT
This is one the most brilliant things I've ever read here. I've read a great deal about the various facts and events Mr. Hudson talks about but I've never been able to put them together like Mr. Hudson. He's provided a framework for realizing how all these seemingly disparate events fit together. I'm very grateful.
Anon [277] Disclaimer , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:26 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz Retirees weren't regarded as parasites by National Socialism, Schlomo. Your parasitic ilk, however, were.

"The Nazi social welfare provisions included old age insurance , rent supplements, unemployment and disability benefits, old-age homes the NSV often refused to provide aid to Jews " – National Socialist People's Welfare

Alfred , says: April 7, 2019 at 11:32 pm GMT
return from Babylon

This is fake history. Mythology becoming history. A Jewish speciality.

1- The Jews were never in Ancient Egypt – or the Egyptians would have documented it.

2- There is absolutely no archeological artifact from the Palestine region that show that they were there before their exile. Plenty of proof that the Egyptians had been there earlier on.

3- Palestine was desert at that time and had been abandoned by the Egyptians as it was infertile – not a land of milk and honey. Yemen was agricultural and prosperous.

4- The Jews were exiled from Yemen – because they and non-Jewish Arabs (the Jews and Arabs were the same people at that time), continued to raid the caravans bringing goods from Yemen to Petra. The Babylonians punished them by taking them back to Babylon. After the Persians liberated them, some went back to Yemen and some went to Palestine.

5- Locations in the Old Testament correspond to places in Yemen and Hejaz. Even their names.

lysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:06 am GMT
The best counter to Robert Michels's iron law of oligarchy (whatever the ostensible form of government, it turns out in practice to be oligarchic rule by the group that has the real power) was devised by Cleisthenes in Athens shortly before 500 B.C.: give power to average citizens by appointing to offices ordinary citizens randomly chosen. It worked, as is shown by how deeply resented it was by oligarchs like Plato.
lysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:08 am GMT
@Alfred Mythical history can have a profound effect on the people who believe in the myth.
lysias , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:13 am GMT
@MEFOBILLS Doctrinaire idolators of the laissez-faire mythology have a habit of calling anyone who disagrees with their dogmas Communist.
wayfarer , says: April 8, 2019 at 12:46 am GMT

Executive Order 6102

Is a U.S. Presidential Executive Order signed on April 5, 1933 , by President Franklin D. Roosevelt forbidding the hoarding of gold within the continental United States .

It required all persons to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, all but a small amount of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve , in exchange for $20.67 (consumer price index, adjusted value of $400 today) per troy ounce. Under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, as amended by the recently passed Emergency Banking Act of March 9, 1933, violation of the order was punishable by fine up to $10,000 (equivalent to $193,548 today) or up to ten years in prison, or both .

Order 6102 specifically exempted "customary use in industry, profession or art", a provision that covered artists, jewelers, dentists, and sign makers among others. The order further permitted any person to own up to $100 in gold coins (a face value equivalent to 5 troy ounces (160 g) of gold valued at about $6,339 in 2016).

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

onebornfree , says: Website April 8, 2019 at 1:38 am GMT
@MEFOBILLS MEFOBILLS says: "All advanced civilizations have hierarchy.There has to be a "brain" for any complex organization, it will not self organize. "

So presumably, a half wit such as yourself knows exactly what that hierarchy should be, who the "brain" "should" be and exactly what and where everyone's "correct" place within it "should" be, because people cannot self organize.

Sieg Heil, mein fuhrer! You're an even dumber sheep than I had initially suspected!

"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree

"Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class." Albert J. Nock

"Everything government touches turns to crap" Ringo Starr

"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic" H.L.Mencken

No regards, onebornfree

mcohen , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:41 am GMT
@Alfred Alfie.

5th century bc jewish settlement.Common knowledge amongst the Chosen.This where we learnt the secrets of the gateways to the soul.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephantine

EliteCommInc. , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:45 am GMT
There are several problems with Dr. Hudson's views here. Some have referenced some. I would point out that we already have laws and practices to restrict the use of wealth from impoverishing the population. But you have to have a leadership willing to enforce or apply them. We have had no less than three major financial bailouts of the financial class in the US. And at no time was the bailout extended to the industries consumers. I am unclear what the prescription is to divorce the political class from the financial class.

The only new law that would make sense are laws that bar legislators from owning, stocks, sitting on the boards of stocks or any financial institution they manage. And that would have to extend to all immediate family members. Further, one has to completely cut off funds from lobbyists, activists and the corporate class entities.

The economy is already comprised of mixed practices: private ownership and wealth creation, government employment, non-profit entities and taxation and other programs that assist citizens, i.e. welfare

EliteCommInc. , says: April 8, 2019 at 1:53 am GMT
The one over riding observation I would make about the economy is that we continue to have a trade imbalance, which according to an old rule of thumb suggests that economy is not really growing.
annamaria , says: April 8, 2019 at 2:08 am GMT
@G. Poulin Mr. Hudson makes his contribution towards the greater good by educating the populace. What's your problem? -- He is not a fairy. He is a knowledgeable and honest person; the former requires a lot of willpower, the second requires courage.
utu , says: April 8, 2019 at 2:45 am GMT
@MEFOBILLS Libertarians were invented and constructed on purpose to serve as the useful idiots of oligarchs whom they worship and do everything to protect their right to be oligarchs while at the same time being sodomized by them.
Anonymous [570] Disclaimer , says: April 8, 2019 at 3:56 am GMT
@onebornfree The Government of the State is people self-organizing. Who else organized it, the dogs?
restless94110 , says: April 8, 2019 at 4:24 am GMT
I am very happy to read this interview, because for me, this is the first time that I have completely understood Michael Hudson's work. And I say this after watching countless of his interviews over the past 8 years.

Before this interview here, I had always wanted to ask him if the Clean Slate policies disappeared over 3000 years ago, then what was he saying in his books and lectures? If the entirety of Western Civilization is based on oligarchy, rentiers, then what hope is there for anything? I mean the Romans lasted a thousand years doing this rentier stuff. That's a long time for misery.

Now, with this interview I understand more fully the period after the Civil War and into the FDR Presidency as a partially-successful attempt to make things in the country different, more egalitarian, more correct. And after this interview, I understand Hudson's main point: the road to change lies in understanding the failures of antiquity.

Looking at things through the rentier oligarchy lens has been the revelation in my life in the past 10 years. I never undeststood Chile & Allende until then. Likewise with antiquity and likewise with the history of the United States. But those of us who do understand these things, thanks in great part to Michael Hudson, are few.

As part of a very late stage college degree I earned 4 years ago, I took an Econ class in my last semester. The class featured certain films as it related to economics and that was indeed very interesting (I had never seen Coppola's "Tucker: The Man And His Dream" before so that was "entertaining"), but the text book for the class was Friedman. I read it and could not believe how dunderheaded, how wrong it was. And I realized from communication with the professor that he believed all of it. His attitude seemed to be: who are you to question economics orthodoxy, you uppity undergrad.

This interview above was both enlightening and depressing. How many decades longer do we have to go before things change?

[Apr 08, 2019] Angry Bear Opioid Use since 1968 and Why It s Abuse Increased

Apr 08, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , April 8, 2019 2:43 am

I would say that the opioid addition epidemics reveals not only greed of Big Pharma, but also strongly resembles the epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR in late 70th and 1980th.

It probably might be viewed as yet another sign of the despair of people with the current economic and social conditions. And also sign of crisis of neoliberalism as an ideology much like Marxism before it

Only a complete idiot now believe in "shareholder value" mantra, or "free market" hype ( "free" for whom, why" free" and nor "fair" ), or the USA "democracy promotion" policies abroad (which for some reason always accompanied by looting of the target country)

A large percentage of students at universities laugh about the content of their "neo-classical" economics courses behind the professor back and view them as just an exercise in hypocrisy necessary to get the diploma.

Milton Friedman now is viewed not as a respectable scholar but as a criminal who supported Pinochet and despicable intellectual prostitute of the financial oligarchy.

What is interesting is that the current economic conditions as dismal as they are still much better in the USA than in other societies in which people were converted into debt slaves and country are mercilessly looted by the local neoliberal oligarchy and international financial institutions.

So it might be that not the absolute level that matters, but the level of and the speed of deterioration of the standard of living and social security. As well as the general understanding that "the train left the station" and the situation will only deteriorate.

A couple of relevant quotes from Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium (2013):

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

And another:

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new.

Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or it's disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it.

The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

In any case, it is indisputable that in the USA under neoliberalism in 40 years or so the standard of living of middle class deteriorated and good job disappeared. In this sense, the opioids epidemics is just the tip of the iceberg.

Trump election is another manifestation of the same -- rejection by people of the neoliberal establishment -- the middle finger to the ruling elite.

The USA is not an exception. In most countries, far-right is gaining strength politically, like in 1920th. And that's a dangerous development which in the USA is strengthened by imperial thinking of the elite (aka "Full Spectrum Dominance") that decimates the standard of living of the middle class due to the current level of military expenditures needed to maintain absolute military superiority and the cost of permanent neo-colonial wars.

So the "Full Spectrum Dominance" might be a mousetrap from which the USA can't escape without major damage.

Still, as corrupt and despicable as the current neoliberal elite is (Biden, Hillary, Pelosi, Trump, and so on and forth), they are preferable to neo-fascists.

[Apr 04, 2019] Fascism A Warning by Madeleine Albright

Junk author, junk book of the butcher of Yugoslavia who would be hanged with Bill clinton by Nuremberg Tribunal for crimes against peace. Albright is not bright at all. she a female bully and that shows.
Mostly projection. And this arrogant warmonger like to exercise in Russophobia (which was the main part of the USSR which saved the world fro fascism, sacrificing around 20 million people) This book is book of denial of genocide against Iraqis and Serbian population where bombing with uranium enriched bombs doubled cancer cases.If you can pass over those facts that this book is for you.
Like Robert Kagan and other neocons Albright is waiving authoritarism dead chicken again and again. that's silly and disingenuous. authoritarism is a method of Governance used in military. It is not an ideology. Fascism is an ideology, a flavor of far right nationalism. Kind of "enhanced" by some socialist ideas far right nationalism.
The view of fascism without economic circumstances that create fascism, and first of immiseration of middle and working class and high level of unemployment is a primitive ahistorical view. Fascism is the ultimate capitalist statism acting simultaneously as the civil religion for the population also enforced by the power of the state. It has a lot of common with neoliberalism, that's why neoliberalism is sometimes called "inverted totalitarism".
In reality fascism while remaining the dictatorship of capitalists for capitalist and the national part of financial oligarchy, it like neoliberalism directed against working class fascism comes to power on the populist slogans of righting wrong by previous regime and kicking foreign capitalists and national compradors (which in Germany turned to be mostly Jewish) out.
It comes to power under the slogans of stopping the distribution of wealth up and elimination of the class of reinters -- all citizens should earn income, not get it from bond and other investments (often in reality doing completely the opposite).
While intrinsically connected and financed by a sizable part of national elite which often consist of far right military leadership, a part of financial oligarchy and large part of lower middle class (small properties) is is a protest movement which want to revenge for the humiliation and prefer military style organization of the society to democracy as more potent weapon to achieve this goal.
Like any far right movement the rise of fascism and neo-fascism is a sign of internal problem within a given society, often a threat to the state or social order.
Apr 04, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Still another noted that Fascism is often linked to people who are part of a distinct ethnic or racial group, who are under economic stress, and who feel that they are being denied rewards to which they are entitled. "It's not so much what people have." she said, "but what they think they should have -- and what they fear." Fear is why Fascism's emotional reach can extend to all levels of society. No political movement can flourish without popular support, but Fascism is as dependent on the wealthy and powerful as it is on the man or woman in the street -- on those who have much to lose and those who have nothing at all.

This insight made us think that Fascism should perhaps be viewed less as a political ideology than as a means for seizing and holding power. For example, Italy in the 1920s included self-described Fascists of the left (who advocated a dictatorship of the dispossessed), of the right (who argued for an authoritarian corporatist state), and of the center (who sought a return to absolute monarchy). The German National Socialist Party (the

Nazis) originally came together ar ound a list of demands that ca- tered to anti-Semites, anti-immigrants, and anti-capitalists but also advocated for higher old-age pensions, more educational op- portunities for the poor, an end to child labor, and improved ma- ternal health care. The Nazis were racists and, in their own minds, reformers at the same time.

If Fascism concerns itself less with specific policies than with finding a pathway to power, what about the tactics of lead- ership? My students remarked that the Fascist chiefs we remem- ber best were charismatic. Through one method or another, each established an emotional link to the crowd and, like the central figure in a cult, brought deep and often ugly feelings to the sur- face. This is how the tentacles of Fascism spread inside a democ- racy. Unlike a monarchy or a military dictatorship imposed on society from above. Fascism draws energy from men and women who are upset because of a lost war, a lost job, a memory of hu- miliation, or a sense that their country is in steep decline. The more painful the grounds for resentment, the easier it is for a Fascist leader to gam followers by dangling the prospect of re- newal or by vowing to take back what has been stolen.

Like the mobilizers of more benign movements, these secular evangelists exploit the near-universal human desire to be part of a meaningful quest. The more gifted among them have an apti- tude for spectacle -- for orchestrating mass gatherings complete with martial music, incendiary rhetoric, loud cheers, and arm-

lifting salutes. To loyalists, they offer the prize of membership in a club from which others, often the objects of ridicule, are kept out. To build fervor, Fascists tend to be aggressive, militaristic, and -- when circumstances allow -- expansionist. To secure the future, they turn schools into seminaries for true believers, striv- ing to produce "new men" and "new women" who will obey without question or pause. And, as one of my students observed, "a Fascist who launches his career by being voted into office will have a claim to legitimacy that others do not."

After climbing into a position of power, what comes next: How does a Fascist consolidate authority? Here several students piped up: "By controlling information." Added another, "And that's one reason we have so much cause to worry today." Most of us have thought of the technological revolution primarily as a means for people from different walks of life to connect with one another, trade ideas, and develop a keener understanding of why men and women act as they do -- in other words, to sharpen our perceptions of truth. That's still the case, but now we are not so sure. There is a troubling "Big Brother" angle because of the mountain of personal data being uploaded into social media. If an advertiser can use that information to home in on a consumer because of his or her individual interests, what's to stop a Fascist government from doing the same? "Suppose I go to a demonstra- tion like the Women's March," said a student, "and post a photo

on social media. My name gets added to a list and that list can end up anywhere. How do we protect ourselves against that?"

Even more disturbing is the ability shown by rogue regimes and their agents to spread lies on phony websites and Facebook. Further, technology has made it possible for extremist organiza- tions to construct echo chambers of support for conspiracy theo- ries, false narratives, and ignorant views on religion and race. This is the first rule of deception: repeated often enough, almost any statement, story, or smear can start to sound plausible. The Internet should be an ally of freedom and a gateway to knowledge; in some cases, it is neither.

Historian Robert Paxton begins one of his books by assert- ing: "Fascism was the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain." Over the years, he and other scholars have developed lists of the many moving parts that Fascism entails. Toward the end of our discussion, my class sought to articulate a comparable list.

Fascism, most of the students agreed, is an extreme form of authoritarian rule. Citizens are required to do exactly what lead- ers say they must do, nothing more, nothing less. The doctrine is linked to rabid nationalism. It also turns the traditional social contract upside down. Instead of citizens giving power to the state in exchange for the protection of their rights, power begins with the leader, and the people have no rights. Under Fascism,

the mission of citizens is to serve; the government's job is to rule.

When one talks about this subject, confusion often arises about the difference between Fascism and such related concepts as totalitarianism, dictatorship, despotism, tyranny, autocracy, and so on. As an academic, I might be tempted to wander into that thicket, but as a former diplomat, I am primarily concerned with actions, not labels. To my mind, a Fascist is someone who identifies strongly with and claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use whatever means are necessary -- including violence -- to achieve his or her goals. In that conception, a Fascist will likely be a tyrant, but a tyrant need not be a Fascist.

Often the difference can be seen in who is trusted with the guns. In seventeenth-century Europe, when Catholic aristocrats did battle with Protestant aristocrats, they fought over scripture but agreed not to distribute weapons to their peasants, thinking it safer to wage war with mercenary armies. Modern dictators also tend to be wary of their citizens, which is why they create royal guards and other elite security units to ensure their personal safe- ty. A Fascist, however, expects the crowd to have his back. Where kings try to settle people down, Fascists stir them up so that when the fighting begins, their foot soldiers have the will and the firepower to strike first.


petarsimic , October 21, 2018

Madeleine Albright on million Iraqis dead: "We think the price is worth It"

Hypocrisy at its worst from a lady who advocated hawkish foreign policy which included the most sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam, when, in 1998, Clinton began almost daily attacks on Iraq in the so-called no-fly zones, and made so-called regime change in Iraq official U.S. policy.

In May of 1996, 60 Minutes aired an interview with Madeleine Albright, who at the time was Clinton's U.N. ambassador. Correspondent Leslie Stahl said to Albright, in connection with the Clinton administration presiding over the most devastating regime of sanctions in history that the U.N. estimated took the lives of as many as a million Iraqis, the vast majority of them children. , "We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And -- and, you know, is the price worth it?"

Madeleine Albright replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> P. Bierre , June 11, 2018
Does Albright present a comprehensive enough understanding of fascism to instruct on how best to avoid it?

While I found much of the story-telling in "Fascism" engaging, I come away expecting much more of one of our nation's pre-eminent senior diplomats . In a nutshell, she has devoted a whole volume to describing the ascent of intolerant fascism and its many faces, but punted on the question "How should we thwart fascism going forward?"

Even that question leaves me a bit unsatisfied, since it is couched in double-negative syntax. The thing there is an appetite for, among the readers of this book who are looking for more than hand-wringing about neofascism, is a unifying title or phrase which captures in single-positive syntax that which Albright prefers over fascism. What would that be? And, how do we pursue it, nurture it, spread it and secure it going forward? What is it?

I think Albright would perhaps be willing to rally around "Good Government" as the theme her book skirts tangentially from the dark periphery of fascistic government. "Virtuous Government"? "Effective Government"? "Responsive Government"?

People concerned about neofascism want to know what we should be doing right now to avoid getting sidetracked into a dark alley of future history comparable to the Nazi brown shirt or Mussolini black shirt epochs. Does Albright present a comprehensive enough understanding of fascism to instruct on how best to avoid it? Or, is this just another hand-wringing exercise, a la "you'll know it when you see it", with a proactive superficiality stuck at the level of pejorative labelling of current styles of government and national leaders? If all you can say is what you don't want, then the challenge of threading the political future of the US is left unruddered. To make an analogy to driving a car, if you don't know your destination, and only can get navigational prompts such as "don't turn here" or "don't go down that street", then what are the chances of arriving at a purposive destination?

The other part of this book I find off-putting is that Albright, though having served as Secretary of State, never talks about the heavy burden of responsibility that falls on a head of state. She doesn't seem to empathize at all with the challenge of top leadership. Her perspective is that of the detached critic. For instance, in discussing President Duterte of the Philippines, she fails to paint the dire situation under which he rose to national leadership responsibility: Islamic separatists having violently taken over the entire city of Marawi, nor the ubiquitous spread of drug cartel power to the level where control over law enforcement was already ceded to the gangs in many places...entire islands and city neighborhoods run by mafia organizations. It's easy to sit back and criticize Duterte's unleashing of vigilante justice -- What was Mrs. Albright's better alternative to regain ground from vicious, well-armed criminal organizations? The distancing from leadership responsibility makes Albright's treatment of the Philippines twin crises of gang-rule and Islamist revolutionaries seem like so much academic navel-gazing....OK for an undergrad course at Georgetown maybe, but unworthy of someone who served in a position of high responsibility. Duterte is liked in the Philippines. What he did snapped back the power of the cartels, and returned a deserved sense of security to average Philippinos (at least those not involved with narcotics). Is that not good government, given the horrendous circumstances Duterte came up to deal with? What lack of responsibility in former Philippine leadership allowed things to get so out of control? Is it possible that Democrats and liberals are afraid to be tough, when toughness is what is needed? I'd much rather read an account from an average Philippino about the positive impacts of the vigilante campaign, than listen of Madame Secretary sermonizing out of context about Duterte. OK, he's not your idea of a nice guy. Would you rather sit back, prattle on about the rule of law and due process while Islamic terrorists wrest control over where you live? Would you prefer the leadership of a drug cartel boss to Duterte?

My critique is offered in a constructive manner. I would certainly encourage Albright (or anyone!) to write a book in a positive voice about what it's going to take to have good national government in the US going forward, and to help spread such abundance globally. I would define "good" as the capability to make consistently good policy decisions, ones that continue to look good in hindsight, 10, 20 or 30 years later. What does that take?

I would submit that the essential "preserving democracy" process component is having a population that is adequately prepared for collaborative problem-solving. Some understanding of history is helpful, but it's simply not enough. Much more essential is for every young person to experience team problem-solving, in both its cooperative and competitive aspects. Every young person needs to experience a team leadership role, and to appreciate what it takes from leaders to forge constructive design from competing ideas and champions. Only after serving as a referee will a young person understand the limits to "passion" that individual contributors should bring to the party. Only after moderating and herding cats will a young person know how to interact productively with leaders and other contributors. Much of the skill is counter-instinctual. It's knowing how to express ideas...how to field criticism....how to nudge people along in the desired direction...and how to avoid ad-hominem attacks, exaggerations, accusations and speculative grievances. It's learning how to manage conflict productively toward excellence. Way too few of our young people are learning these skills, and way too few of our journalists know how to play a constructive role in managing communications toward successful complex problem-solving. Albright's claim that a journalist's job is primarily to "hold leaders accountable" really betrays an absolving of responsibility for the media as a partner in good government -- it doesn't say whether the media are active players on the problem-solving team (which they have to be for success), or mere spectators with no responsibility for the outcome. If the latter, then journalism becomes an irritant, picking at the scabs over and over, but without any forward progress. When the media takes up a stance as an "opponent" of leadership, you end up with poor problem-solving results....the system is fighting itself instead of making forward progress.

"Fascism" doesn't do nearly enough to promote the teaching of practical civics 101 skills, not just to the kids going into public administration, but to everyone. For, it is in the norms of civility, their ability to be practiced, and their defense against excesses, that fascism (e.g., Antifa) is kept at bay.
Everyone in a democracy has to know the basics:
• when entering a disagreement, don't personalize it
• never demonize an opponent
• keep a focus on the goal of agreement and moving forward
• never tell another person what they think, but ask (non-rhetorically) what they think then be prepared to listen and absorb
• do not speak untruths or exaggerate to make an argument
• do not speculate grievance
• understand truth gathering as a process; detect when certainty is being bluffed; question sources
• recognize impasse and unproductive argumentation and STOP IT
• know how to introduce a referee or moderator to regain productive collaboration
• avoid ad hominem attacks
• don't take things personally that wrankle you;
• give the benefit of the doubt in an ambiguous situation
• don't jump to conclusions
• don't reward theatrical manipulation

These basics of collaborative problem-solving are the guts of a "liberal democracy" that can face down the most complex challenges and dilemmas.

I gave the book 3 stars for the great story-telling, and Albright has been part of a great story of late 20th century history. If she would have told us how to prevent fascism going forward, and how to roll it back in "hard case" countries like North Korea and Sudan, I would have given her a 5. I'm not that interested in picking apart the failure cases of history...they teach mostly negative exemplars. Much rather I would like to read about positive exemplars of great national government -- "great" defined by popular acclaim, by the actual ones governed. Where are we seeing that today? Canada? Australia? Interestingly, both of these positive exemplars have strict immigration policies.

Is it possible that Albright is just unable, by virtue of her narrow escape from Communist Czechoslovakia and acceptance in NYC as a transplant, to see that an optimum immigration policy in the US, something like Canada's or Australia's, is not the looming face of fascism, but rather a move to keep it safely in its corner in coming decades? At least, she admits to her being biased by her life story.

That suggests her views on refugees and illegal immigrants as deserving of unlimited rights to migrate into the US might be the kind of cloaked extremism that she is warning us about.

Anat Hadad , January 19, 2019
"Fascism is not an exception to humanity, but part of it."

Albright's book is a comprehensive look at recent history regarding the rise and fall of fascist leaders; as well as detailing leaders in nations that are starting to mimic fascist ideals. Instead of a neat definition, she uses examples to bolster her thesis of what are essential aspects of fascism. Albright dedicates each section of the book to a leader or regime that enforces fascist values and conveys this to the reader through historical events and exposition while also peppering in details of her time as Secretary of State. The climax (and 'warning'), comes at the end, where Albright applies what she has been discussing to the current state of affairs in the US and abroad.

Overall, I would characterize this as an enjoyable and relatively easy read. I think the biggest strength of this book is how Albright uses history, previous examples of leaders and regimes, to demonstrate what fascism looks like and contributing factors on a national and individual level. I appreciated that she lets these examples speak for themselves of the dangers and subtleties of a fascist society, which made the book more fascinating and less of a textbook. Her brief descriptions of her time as Secretary of State were intriguing and made me more interested in her first book, 'Madame Secretary'. The book does seem a bit slow as it is not until the end that Albright blatantly reveals the relevance of all of the history relayed in the first couple hundred pages. The last few chapters are dedicated to the reveal: the Trump administration and how it has affected global politics. Although, she never outright calls Trump a fascist, instead letting the reader decide based on his decisions and what you have read in the book leading up to this point, her stance is quite clear by the end. I was surprised at what I shared politically with Albright, mainly in immigration and a belief of empathy and understanding for others. However, I got a slight sense of anti-secularism in the form of a disdain for those who do not subscribe to an Abrahamic religion and she seemed to hint at this being partly an opening to fascism.

I also could have done without the both-sides-ism she would occasionally push, which seems to be a tactic used to encourage people to 'unite against Trump'. These are small annoyances I had with the book, my main critique is the view Albright takes on democracy. If anything, the book should have been called "Democracy: the Answer" because that is the most consistent stance Albright takes throughout. She seems to overlook many of the atrocities the US and other nations have committed in the name of democracy and the negative consequences of capitalism, instead, justifying negative actions with the excuse of 'it is for democracy and everyone wants that' and criticizing those who criticize capitalism.

She does not do a good job of conveying the difference between a communist country like Russia and a socialist country like those found in Scandinavia and seems okay with the idea of the reader lumping them all together in a poor light. That being said, I would still recommend this book for anyone's TBR as the message is essential for today, that the current world of political affairs is, at least somewhat, teetering on a precipice and we are in need of as many strong leaders as possible who are willing to uphold democratic ideals on the world stage and mindful constituents who will vote them in.

Matthew T , May 29, 2018
An easy read, but incredibly ignorant and one eyed in far too many instances

The book is very well written, easy to read, and follows a pretty standard formula making it accessible to the average reader. However, it suffers immensely from, what I suspect are, deeply ingrained political biases from the author.

Whilst I don't dispute the criteria the author applies in defining fascism, or the targets she cites as examples, the first bias creeps in here when one realises the examples chosen are traditional easy targets for the US (with the exception of Turkey). The same criteria would define a country like Singapore perfectly as fascist, yet the country (or Malaysia) does not receive a mention in the book.

Further, it grossly glosses over what Ms. Albright terms facist traits from the US governments of the past. If the author is to be believed, the CIA is holier than thou, never intervened anywhere or did anything that wasn't with the best interests of democracy at heart, and American foreign policy has always existed to build friendships and help out their buddies. To someone ingrained in this rhetoric for years I am sure this is an easy pill to swallow, but to the rest of the world it makes a number of assertions in the book come across as incredibly naive. out of 5 stars Trite and opaque

Avid reader , December 20, 2018
Biast much? Still a good start into the problem

We went with my husband to the presentation of this book at UPenn with Albright before it came out and Madeleine's spunk, wit and just glorious brightness almost blinded me. This is a 2.5 star book, because 81 year old author does not really tell you all there is to tell when she opens up on a subject in any particular chapter, especially if it concerns current US interest.

Lets start from the beginning of the book. What really stood out, the missing 3rd Germany ally, Japan and its emperor. Hirohito (1901-1989) was emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death in 1989. He took over at a time of rising democratic sentiment, but his country soon turned toward ultra-nationalism and militarism. During World War II (1939-45), Japan attacked nearly all of its Asian neighbors, allied itself with Nazi Germany and launched a surprise assault on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, forcing US to enter the war in 1941. Hirohito was never indicted as a war criminal! does he deserve at least a chapter in her book?

Oh and by the way, did author mention anything about sanctions against Germany for invading Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland? Up until the Pearl Harbor USA and Germany still traded, although in March 1939, FDR slapped a 25% tariff on all German goods. Like Trump is doing right now to some of US trading partners.

Next monster that deserves a chapter on Genocide in cosmic proportions post WW2 is communist leader of China Mao Zedung. Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants compares to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the total worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

We learn that Argentina has given sanctuary to Nazi war criminals, but she forgets to mention that 88 Nazi scientists arrived in the United States in 1945 and were promptly put to work. For example, Wernher von Braun was the brains behind the V-2 rocket program, but had intimate knowledge of what was going on in the concentration camps. Von Braun himself hand-picked people from horrific places, including Buchenwald concentration camp. Tsk-Tsk Madeline.

What else? Oh, lets just say that like Madelaine Albright my husband is Jewish and lost extensive family to Holocoust. Ukrainian nationalists executed his great grandfather on gistapo orders, his great grandmother disappeared in concentration camp, grandfather was conscripted in june 1940 and decommissioned september 1945 and went through war as infantryman through 3 fronts earning several medals. his grandmother, an ukrainian born jew was a doctor in a military hospital in Saint Petersburg survived famine and saved several children during blockade. So unlike Maideline who was raised as a Roman Catholic, my husband grew up in a quiet jewish family in that territory that Stalin grabbed from Poland in 1939, in a polish turn ukrainian city called Lvov(Lemberg). His family also had to ask for an asylum, only they had to escape their home in Ukraine in 1991. He was told then "You are a nice little Zid (Jew), we will kill you last" If you think things in ukraine changed, think again, few weeks ago in Kiev Roma gypsies were killed and injured during pogroms, and nobody despite witnesses went to jail. Also during demonstrations openly on the streets C14 unit is waving swastikas and Heils. Why is is not mentioned anywhere in the book? is is because Hunter Biden sits on the board of one of Ukraine's largest natural gas companies called Burisma since May 14, 2014, and Ukraine has an estimated 127.9 trillion cubic feet of unproved technically recoverable shale gas resources? ( according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).1 The most promising shale reserves appear to be in the Carpathian Foreland Basin (also called the Lviv-Volyn Basin), which extends across Western Ukraine from Poland into Romania, and the Dnieper-Donets Basin in the East (which borders Russia).
Wow, i bet you did not know that. how ugly are politics, even this book that could have been so much greater if the author told the whole ugly story. And how scary that there are countries where you can go and openly be fascist.

&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/0e64e0cb-01e4-4e58-bcae-bba690344095._CR0,0.0,333,333_SX48_.jpg"&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; NJ , February 3, 2019
Interesting...yes. Useful...hmmm

To me, Fascism fails for the single reason that no two fascist leaders are alike. Learning about one or a few, in a highly cursory fashion like in this book or in great detail, is unlikely to provide one with any answers on how to prevent the rise of another or fend against some such. And, as much as we are witnessing the rise of numerous democratic or quasi-democratic "strongmen" around the world in global politics, it is difficult to brand any of them as fascist in the orthodox sense.

As the author writes at the outset, it is difficult to separate a fascist from a tyrant or a dictator. A fascist is a majoritarian who rouses a large group under some national, racial or similar flag with rallying cries demanding suppression or exculcation of those excluded from this group. A typical fascist leader loves her yes-men and hates those who disagree: she does not mind using violence to suppress dissidents. A fascist has no qualms using propaganda to popularize the agreeable "facts" and theories while debunking the inconvenient as lies. What is not discussed explicitly in the book are perhaps some positive traits that separate fascists from other types of tyrants: fascists are rarely lazy, stupid or prone to doing things for only personal gains. They differ from the benevolent dictators for their record of using heavy oppression against their dissidents. Fascists, like all dictators, change rules to suit themselves, take control of state organizations to exercise total control and use "our class is the greatest" and "kick others" to fuel their programs.

Despite such a detailed list, each fascist is different from each other. There is little that even Ms Albright's fascists - from Mussolini and Hitler to Stalin to the Kims to Chavez or Erdogan - have in common. In fact, most of the opponents of some of these dictators/leaders would calll them by many other choice words but not fascists. The circumstances that gave rise to these leaders were highly different and so were their rules, methods and achievements.

The point, once again, is that none of the strongmen leaders around the world could be easily categorized as fascists. Or even if they do, assigning them with such a tag and learning about some other such leaders is unlikely to help. The history discussed in the book is interesting but disjointed, perfunctory and simplistic. Ms Albright's selection is also debatable.

Strong leaders who suppress those they deem as opponents have wreaked immense harms and are a threat to all civil societies. They come in more shades and colours than terms we have in our vocabulary (dictators, tyrants, fascists, despots, autocrats etc). A study of such tyrant is needed for anyone with an interest in history, politics, or societal well-being. Despite Ms Albright's phenomenal knowledge, experience, credentials, personal history and intentions, this book is perhaps not the best place to objectively learn much about the risks from the type of things some current leaders are doing or deeming as right.

Gderf , February 15, 2019
Wrong warning

Each time I get concerned about Trump's rhetoric or past actions I read idiotic opinions, like those of our second worst ever Secretary of State, and come to appreciate him more. Pejorative terms like fascism or populism have no place in a rational policy discussion. Both are blatant attempts to apply a pejorative to any disagreeing opinion. More than half of the book is fluffed with background of Albright, Hitler and Mussolini. Wikipedia is more informative. The rest has snippets of more modern dictators, many of whom are either socialists or attained power through a reaction to failed socialism, as did Hitler. She squirms mightily to liken Trump to Hitler. It's much easier to see that Sanders is like Maduro. The USA is following a path more like Venezuela than Germany.

Her history misses that Mussolini was a socialist before he was a fascist, and Nazism in Germany was a reaction to Wiemar socialism. The danger of fascism in the US is far greater from the left than from the right. America is far left of where the USSR ever was. Remember than Marx observed that Russia was not ready for a proletarian revolution. The USA with ready made capitalism for reform fits Marx's pattern much better. Progressives deny that Sanders and Warren are socialists. If not they are what Lenin called "useful idiots."
Albright says that she is proud of the speech where she called the USA the 'Indispensable Nation.' She should be ashamed. Obama followed in his inaugural address, saying that we are "the indispensable nation, responsible for world security." That turned into a policy of human rights interventions leading to open ended wars (Syria, Yemen), nations in chaos (Libya), and distrust of the USA (Egypt, Russia, Turkey, Tunisia, Israel, NK). Trump now has to make nice with dictators to allay their fears that we are out to replace them.
She admires the good intentions of human rights intervention, ignoring the results. She says Obama had some success without citing a single instance. He has apologized for Libya, but needs many more apologies. She says Obama foreign policy has had some success, with no mention of a single instance. Like many progressives, she confuses good intentions with performance. Democracy spreading by well intentioned humanitarian intervention has resulted in a succession of open ended war or anarchy.

The shorter histories of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Venezuela are much more informative, although more a warning against socialism than right wing fascism. Viktor Orban in Hungary is another reaction to socialism.

Albright ends the book with a forlorn hope that we need a Lincoln or Mandela, exactly what our two party dictatorship will not generate as it yields ever worse and worse candidates for our democracy to vote upon, even as our great society utopia generates ever more power for weak presidents to spend our money and continue wrong headed foreign policy.

The greatest danger to the USA is not fascism, but of excessively poor leadership continuing our slow slide to the bottom.

[Apr 02, 2019] Poroshenko was just a US marionette which helped to loot the country and impoverish Ukrainian people

Under neoliberalism any regime change is necessary followed by an economic rape. That was the case with the USSR in 1991, that was the case in Ukraine in 2014. Only the size and length of the looting varies depending of the strength of new government. Both the size and the length is maximal if in power are marionette like Yeltsin or Yatsenyuk/Poroshenko.
Saying "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" now should sound as "Beware of Americans who bring you color revolutions." They bring the economic rape (aka "Disaster capitalism") as the second phase. That's the nature of neocolonialism -- now you do not need to occupy the country. It's enough to make it a debt slave using IMF and install compradors to endure the low of money and continuing impoverishment of the population.
With such crooked and greedy friends as Biden and Kerry and their narcoaddicts sons you do not need enemies. But the main danger are not individual sharks but Western financial institutions like IMF and World bank. Those convert countries into debt slaves and that means permanently low standard (Central African in case of Ukraine, something like $2 a day) of living for generations to come.
What is interesting is that unlike say German nationalists in 30th, the Ukrainian nationalists proved to be completly useless in defending the Ukraine from looting. They actually serves as supplementary tool of the same looting.
The standard of living of Ukrainians dropped 2-3 times since 2014. How pensioners survive, on $50 a month pension I simply do not understand. In any case Neoliberalism proved to be very effecting is keeping "developing" nations economic growth down and converting them into debt slaves. The fact that Biden use loans as a tool of extortion (as in threat to cancel one billion loan) to close criminal investigation of his sons company is just an icing on the cake. Poroshenko and his camarilla should be tried in the court of law for his corruption and pandering to the Western sharks, who were happy to steal from Ukraine as much as then can.
To pay $166K a month for Biden's son cocaine is way too much to such impoverished country as Ukraine.
Notable quotes:
"... "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. ..."
"... " Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat. ..."
"... The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden's younger son, Hunter, as a board member. ..."
"... U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. - The Hill ..."
"... And before he was fired, Shokin says he had made "specific plans" for the investigation - including "interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden." "I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine," added Shokin. Joe Biden "clearly had to know" about the probe before he insisted on Shokin's ouster . Via The Hill: ..."
"... The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden's work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor's case against Burisma; ..."
"... President Obama named Biden the administration's point man on Ukraine in February 2014 ..."
"... Remember Victoria Nuland's famous phone recording of "**** the EU?" This was nothing more than another CIA destabilization campaign carried out of another Sovereign Country. With the goal of breaking the Bush Senior & Jim Baker agreement of not surrounding Russia with NATO countries after their Collapse. ..."
"... Let's face it. If Ukrainians loved it's Country, Joey, Hunter and the Choco-**** would have wound up like Mikhail Lesin during an all night party in an upscale grotto in Kiev by now! ..."
"... At last some questions for this dirt ball-burisma is tied in with one of the most if not the most corrupt oligarch, Koloimiski. Biden is up to his eyeballs in some dodgy deals in china as well-this guy and his son are walking corruption personified. ..."
"... Didn't Hillary teach Joe that a tax free foundation is better than using your son's LLC for laundering the bribes... This is basic stuff. ..."
"... Joe "the Conqueror" "Caesar Magnus" Biden. Joe of Ukraine, the best bud of $oro$. ..."
Apr 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Originally from: Forget 'Creepy' - Biden Has A Major Ukraine Problem Joe Biden appears to have made a major tactical error last year when he bragged to an audience of foreign policy experts how he threatened to hurl Ukraine into bankruptcy if their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, wasn't immediately fired, according to The Hill 's John Solomon.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees , sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn't immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. - The Hill

"I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko.

" Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Q0_AqpdwqK4?start=3128

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden's account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day . Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine's parliament obliged by ending Shokin's tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired. - The Hill

And why would Biden want the "son of a bitch" fired?

In what must be an amazing coincidence, the prosecutor was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm - which Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the board of directors.

The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden's younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. - The Hill

The Hill 's Solomon reviewed the general prosecutor's file for the Burisma probe - which he reports shows Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

And before he was fired, Shokin says he had made "specific plans" for the investigation - including "interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden." "I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine," added Shokin. Joe Biden "clearly had to know" about the probe before he insisted on Shokin's ouster . Via The Hill:

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor's probe of Burisma and his son's role. They noted that:

President Obama named Biden the administration's point man on Ukraine in February 2014 , after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine's Crimea territory.

***

Key questions for 'ol Joe:

Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden's firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

Read the rest of Solomon's report here .

Chupacabra-322 , 58 minutes ago link

Remember Victoria Nuland's famous phone recording of "**** the EU?" This was nothing more than another CIA destabilization campaign carried out of another Sovereign Country. With the goal of breaking the Bush Senior & Jim Baker agreement of not surrounding Russia with NATO countries after their Collapse.

Son of Captain Nemo , 1 hour ago link

Let's face it. If Ukrainians loved it's Country, Joey, Hunter and the Choco-**** would have wound up like Mikhail Lesin during an all night party in an upscale grotto in Kiev by now!

Amazing that all 3 of them are still alive and that "Song Bird" McCain (#4) was allowed to die from his brain cancer instead of joining them or being dismembered and put on display when he made these visit(s) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbfsTcJCKDE ) along with General Vallely (#5)!!!

Taras Bulba , 1 hour ago

At last some questions for this dirt ball-burisma is tied in with one of the most if not the most corrupt oligarch, Koloimiski. Biden is up to his eyeballs in some dodgy deals in china as well-this guy and his son are walking corruption personified.

CarifonianSeven, 2 hours ago

Didn't Hillary teach Joe that a tax free foundation is better than using your son's LLC for laundering the bribes... This is basic stuff.

Pernicious Gold Phallusy, 1 hour ago

Joe cheated his way through undergrad and law school. He would be unable to understand any of that.

whittler, 1 hour ago

What? You mean folks will finally care about little Hunter hiring Azov neo-Nazi fighters (oops! security I mean) to protect his fracking site just north of the 'troubles' in the eastern Ukraine? I'm sure they were working for free and that no Biden money was ever used to payoff (oops again! I mean pay the wages of) a bunch of Nazis (dang it again, I mean neo-Nazis, it sounds so much warmer and fuzzier when you add 'neo').

Creepy Joe and all D's agree, 'Nazi' = bad, neo-Nazi = warm, fuzzy and good; heck, they even like to kill Russians Russians Russians!!!

Cracker 16 , 1 hour ago

Joe "the Conqueror" "Caesar Magnus" Biden. Joe of Ukraine, the best bud of $oro$.

[Apr 02, 2019] So now it is somehow acceptable to block a merchant ship from an international waterway? WTF. This is an act of war.

Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Christian J Chuba , Mar 31, 2019 3:08:20 PM | link

"U.S. Regime blocks international waterway" [actual story, Reuters title story] ... "Iranian fuel oil cargo sits off Malaysia as U.S. urges sanctions compliance"

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-asia-fueloil/iranian-fuel-oil-cargo-sits-off-malaysia-as-u-s-urges-sanctions-compliance-idUKKCN1RA0XT
I cannot stand the tone of this article, apparently the U.S. was able to coerce Singapore and Malaysia into not buying Iranian oil. The story is peppered with the usual loaded terms such as, 'evading U.S sanctions' as if they are lawful. If Iran blocked access to the Persian Guld would we hear stories about Qatar and the Saudis 'evading Iranian sanctions'?

What got my attention post this common story was this statement ...

talks were to make sure Malaysian and Singaporean authorities "are alert and make important decisions about whether or not to even allow the vessels to come through their waterways."

So now it is somehow acceptable to block a merchant ship from an international waterway? WTF. This is an act of war.

[Mar 31, 2019] Bank Regulation Can t Be Heads Banks Win, Tails Taxpayers Lose naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Thomas Ferguson, Director of Research for the Institute of New Economic Thinking; Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Originally published at the Institute of New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them. ..."
"... We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system. ..."
"... In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions? ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

[Mar 29, 2019] Trump will struggle to find a face-saving retreat from these unnecessary conflicts and shut his ears to the siren songs of the war party and deep state which just failed to stage a soft coup to block his inauguration by Eric Margolis

Trump did not struggle at all. He just folded.
Big hopes of January 2017 ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Each new president inherits a sea of problems from his predecessor. Donald Trump's biggest legacy headaches and priority will be in the Mideast, a disaster area on its own but made far, far worse by the bungling of the Obama administration and its dimwitted attempts to put the US and Russia on a collision course. ..."
"... Thanks to George W. Bush – who dared show his face at the inauguration – and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama, Trump inherits America's longest war, Afghanistan, with our shameful support of mass drug dealing, endemic corruption and war crimes. Add the crazy mess in Iraq and now Syria. ..."
"... This week US B-2 heavy bombers attacked Libya. US forces are fighting in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and parts of Africa. For what? No one is quite sure. America's foreign wars, fueled by its $1 trillion military budget, have assumed a life of their own. Once a great power goes to war, its proponents insist, 'we can't be seen to back down or our credibility will suffer.' ..."
"... If President Trump truly wants to bring some sort of peace to the explosive Mideast, he will have to reject the advice of the hardline Zionists with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Their primary interest is Greater Israel, free of Arabs, not in a Greater America. Trump is too smart not to know this. But he may also listen to his blood and guts former generals who lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. ..."
"... Trump should be reminded that the 9/11 attackers cited two reasons for their attack: 1. Occupation of Saudi Arabia by the US; 2. Continued US-backed occupation of Palestine. Persistent attacks on western targets that we call terrorism are, in most cases, acts of revenge for our neo-colonial actions in the Muslim world, the 'American Raj' as I term it. ..."
Jan 21, 2017 | www.unz.com

What I found most impressive this time was the reaffirmation of America's dedication to the peaceful transfer of political power. This was the 45th time this miracle has happened. Saying this is perhaps banal, but the handover of power never fails to make me proud to be an American and thankful we had such brilliant founding fathers.

This peaceful transfer sets the United States apart from many of the world's nations, even Britain and Canada, where leaders under the parliamentary system are chosen in a process resembling a knife fight in a dark room. The US has somehow managed to retain its three branches of government in spite of the best efforts of self-serving politicians to wreck it.

Each new president inherits a sea of problems from his predecessor. Donald Trump's biggest legacy headaches and priority will be in the Mideast, a disaster area on its own but made far, far worse by the bungling of the Obama administration and its dimwitted attempts to put the US and Russia on a collision course.

Thanks to George W. Bush – who dared show his face at the inauguration – and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama, Trump inherits America's longest war, Afghanistan, with our shameful support of mass drug dealing, endemic corruption and war crimes. Add the crazy mess in Iraq and now Syria.

This week US B-2 heavy bombers attacked Libya. US forces are fighting in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and parts of Africa. For what? No one is quite sure. America's foreign wars, fueled by its $1 trillion military budget, have assumed a life of their own. Once a great power goes to war, its proponents insist, 'we can't be seen to back down or our credibility will suffer.'

Trump will struggle to find a face-saving retreat from these unnecessary conflicts and shut his ears to the siren songs of the war party and deep state which just failed to stage a 'soft' coup to block his inauguration. Waging little wars against weak nations is a multi-billion dollar national industry in the US. America has become as addicted to war as it has to debt.

If President Trump truly wants to bring some sort of peace to the explosive Mideast, he will have to reject the advice of the hardline Zionists with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Their primary interest is Greater Israel, free of Arabs, not in a Greater America. Trump is too smart not to know this. But he may also listen to his blood and guts former generals who lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trump appears to have been gulled into believing the canard that Mideast-origin violence is caused by what he called in his inaugural speech, radical Islamic terrorism. This is a favorite device promoted by the hard right and Israel to de-legitimize any resistance to Israel's expansion and ethnic cleansing. The label of 'terrorism' serves the same purpose.

Trump should be reminded that the 9/11 attackers cited two reasons for their attack: 1. Occupation of Saudi Arabia by the US; 2. Continued US-backed occupation of Palestine. Persistent attacks on western targets that we call terrorism are, in most cases, acts of revenge for our neo-colonial actions in the Muslim world, the 'American Raj' as I term it.

Unfortunately, President Trump is unlikely to get this useful advice from the men who now surround him, with the possibly exception of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Let's hope that Tillerson and not Goldman Sachs bank ends up steering US foreign policy.

(Reprinted from EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)

[Mar 29, 2019] Has the imperator surrounded himself with the wrong praetorians?

Yes. He quickly became Bush III
Notable quotes:
"... Define unprecedented. What are your standards for a "major western nation"? Any moral standard? Do they include blowing up countries, using militarized spooks with unlimited secret funding? ..."
"... If you side with the devil what are you? In tilting with the CIA, Trump is a saint. ..."
"... Don't worry. Be happy. Nothing can be done now. The voters wanted someone to "shake things up." Trump will be applying creative destruction to government ..."
"... Obama failed to drive the NeoCons out of government. Trump may do so, but the replacement might be fundamentally more corrupt. ..."
"... Looters on the other hand love destruction. The resulting chaos affords them more opportunity to get windfalls. Trump will give the voters the radical change they think they want. But Trump will use the destruction as an opportunity for personal gain. The public will be left with a gutted government that will need to be rebuilt before it will function again ..."
"... One quibble: The destruction he applies will not be creative. It will be thorough but entirely unimaginative. ..."
"... Why do you think a war is brewing? What do you think is going to happen? They'll give him bad intel like they did with Bush? ..."
"... The meme that Trump will "get US into war" is a Clinton loser-whiner meme! Delusional and misleading; the neocon Clinton would have done Putin first CIA fictional, regime change excuse the yellow press could spread. ..."
"... Because they are already reportedly telling some of their contacts not to trust the government with information in case it ends up with hostile governments. Maybe using the word "war" is misleading. Maybe "cold war" is more accurate, but in general I mean a state of mutual distrust. ..."
Jan 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
reason : January 16, 2017 at 02:25 AM
Just as an aside - not really economics, but I am really worrying about what the war between the future white house team and the CIA that seems to be brewing. I don't see good solutions to this. It is sort of unprecedented in a major western country. Can you think of a similar case (where the intelligence services - and perhaps the military as well regarded there own government head as an enemy agent)?
reason -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 03:02 AM
Perhaps MI5 and Wilson?
Fang__z -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 04:03 AM
Canaris and Hitler. :p
ilsm -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 04:41 AM
Henry VI Pt2: dems playing Yorks

put the CIA in

the Tower

CIA been the neocon

payroll too long

who told you Soviets

were never going

tp collapse

ilsm -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 04:49 AM
Define unprecedented. What are your standards for a "major western nation"? Any moral standard? Do they include blowing up countries, using militarized spooks with unlimited secret funding?

If you side with the devil what are you? In tilting with the CIA, Trump is a saint.

jonny bakho -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 05:03 AM
Don't worry. Be happy. Nothing can be done now. The voters wanted someone to "shake things up." Trump will be applying creative destruction to government

Obama failed to drive the NeoCons out of government. Trump may do so, but the replacement might be fundamentally more corrupt.

As with Obamacare, the idea is to destroy it and replace it with something better. Most revolutions find it easy to destroy and very much harder to build Most sane leaders recognize this difficulty and modify the existing rather than destroy and never getting around to replacement or find the replacement to be worse than the existing.

Looters on the other hand love destruction. The resulting chaos affords them more opportunity to get windfalls. Trump will give the voters the radical change they think they want. But Trump will use the destruction as an opportunity for personal gain. The public will be left with a gutted government that will need to be rebuilt before it will function again

Chris G -> jonny bakho... , January 16, 2017 at 05:06 AM
One quibble: The destruction he applies will not be creative. It will be thorough but entirely unimaginative.
reason -> jonny bakho... , January 16, 2017 at 07:24 AM
I don't believe in "creative destruction", I believe in "destructive creation" which is something quite different. But that is not the point. This is not about the government as such, it is about the security apparatus in itself. It could get very nasty if that ends up either totally alienated or politicized.
Chris G -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 05:03 AM
If I were President, provoking an organization whose specialty is covert operations and which has track record of bringing about the demise of insufficiently agreeable leaders would not be high on my to-do list.
ilsm -> Chris G ... , January 16, 2017 at 05:20 AM
Has the imperator surrounded himself with the wrong praetorians?
Peter K. -> reason ... , January 16, 2017 at 05:37 AM
Why do you think a war is brewing? What do you think is going to happen? They'll give him bad intel like they did with Bush?
ilsm -> Peter K.... , January 16, 2017 at 05:44 AM
The meme that Trump will "get US into war" is a Clinton loser-whiner meme! Delusional and misleading; the neocon Clinton would have done Putin first CIA fictional, regime change excuse the yellow press could spread.
Peter K. -> ilsm... , January 16, 2017 at 05:54 AM
Trump is an isolationist who repeatedly said the Iraq war was a disaster, which it was. If the CIA is going after Trump they're doing a bad job. The worst they could come up with is some unverified accounts that Trump likes pee-pee parties.
reason -> Peter K.... , January 16, 2017 at 07:29 AM
Because they are already reportedly telling some of their contacts not to trust the government with information in case it ends up with hostile governments. Maybe using the word "war" is misleading. Maybe "cold war" is more accurate, but in general I mean a state of mutual distrust.

[Mar 28, 2019] Sic Semper Tyrannis RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 28 MARCH 2019 (by Patrick Armstrong)

Mar 28, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

CHICKENS. HOME. ROOST. " [T]he G7 group is concerned by extreme political movements in Ukraine... ". Whoa! Weren't these people just Putin's " fabricated claim ", " revanchist policy ", " lying "?

FBI: Neo-Nazi Militia Trained by US Military in Ukraine Now Training US White Supremacists . Azov-Christchurch ?

UKRAINE. Lowest confidence in their government in the world . Comedian still in front: someone hopes that things will get better . Sorry: Kiev has to burn the last bit of the Galician fantasy to ashes and understand that the right people won the Second World War. Then, maybe, some hope.

[Mar 23, 2019] Killing for Credibility A Look Back at the 1999 NATO Air War on Serbia by Brett Wilkins

Mar 23, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.

One Man's Terrorist

Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the 1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation, stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan descended deeper into civil war.

The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however, is something altogether different.

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration armed and trained these fighters in flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.

When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.

The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia, called it "without any question a terrorist group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.

However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president called the war an internal Russian affair and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.

Although NATO called the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict. President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary of State James Rubin later admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small."

Wagging the Dog?

In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.

There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:

The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.

Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters."

While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted – that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves." This was completely false . US diplomat David Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.

However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been "fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington. Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner, acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."

Bloody Hypocrites

The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention. More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses, where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.

Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the world's worst human rights records. The list goes on and on.

Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995. Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned convoys of fleeing refugees.

"Painful for the Serbs"

Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much of its water supply.

NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards. There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac forecast as many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in nearby apartments.

Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age 23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."

Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7, killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic and medical dispensary were also bombed in the mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.

Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece was blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.

On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing. An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to help those wounded in the first strike.

No One Is Safe

The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175 bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000 residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children, died when bombs meant to destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."

The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded. Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later reported that the US deliberately bombed the embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.

There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including 16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month later, another column of refugees was bombed near Koriša, killing 87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM missile blew the roof off of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.

NATO's "Murderous Thugs"

As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.

The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group "murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles rescued the besieged militants. It later emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.

Credibility Conundrum

The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton added that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton, declaring on the eve of the war that "to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote that the Clinton administration "transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United States into a major test of American resolve."

Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.

Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history. Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian people in service of NATO's credibility.

Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights, is archived at www.brettwilkins.com

Read more by Brett Wilkins

[Mar 22, 2019] The War on Yemen and the Trump Administration's Contempt for the Law

Mar 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Trump administration has ignored yet another mandated deadline for reporting to Congress on Yemen:

A senior Pentagon official had pledged to deliver the strategy report at the beginning of March after failing to meet a Feb. 1 deadline mandated by law.

In recent months, the Trump administration has disregarded several certification requirements from Congress. In February, the State Department refused to say whether the Saudi-led force had reduced civilian casualties in the Yemeni conflict. And the White House failed to respond to lawmakers' query about whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, the administration met the first certification deadline by brazenly lying to Congress that the Saudi coalition was successfully reducing harm to civilians in Yemen. Congress completely failed to hold Secretary Pompeo accountable for those lies, and the administration has obviously concluded that it can get away with disregarding these requirements. For the last several months, both the Secretary of State and the Pentagon have simply refused to comply with the law. In this case, the Pentagon probably can't "detail specific US diplomatic and national security objectives" because the only discernible objective of reflexive support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen is to indulge them in whatever they want to do. An administration that has illegally involved the U.S. in the war on Yemen for more than two years obviously won't have any respect for legal requirements set by Congress when they can't even be bothered to respect the Constitution.

The administration's contempt for the law and their disrespect for Congress are additional reasons why the House should vote on and pass the antiwar Yemen resolution that the Senate passed earlier this month. Beyond that, Congress needs to increase pressure on the Saudi and Emirati governments with additional measures to cut off arms sales and hearings to scrutinize the numerous human rights abuses and war crimes committed by their forces and their proxies.

When war supporters object that Congress risks undermining the U.S.-Saudi relationship, it is important for members of Congress to know that it is Mohammed bin Salman who has jeopardized the relationship through his reckless and destructive behavior. The Saudi government has been desperately lying about its conduct in Yemen and elsewhere to the U.S. and the entire world, and the crown prince has proven himself to be completely unreliable and strikingly incompetent at everything except grabbing more power for himself:

"We know who this guy is, we know what he's capable of, and treating him like he's an ally or a reliable partner is totally untenable," said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former US Agency for International Development director during the Obama administration.

The Saudi government has made itself a liability to the U.S. Since the administration puts Saudi Arabia first and won't do anything to defend American interests, it falls to Congress to do what the president won't.

[Mar 20, 2019] In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles are based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews are in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda is attributed exclusively to the opposite side... ..."
Mar 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

ex-SA , Mar 5, 2019 3:55:53 PM | 13

Thank you! This may well be the most important link I've encountered in my years of lurking here @ MoA and elsewhere.

There is a video linked in the article which may be more important than the article itself. Easily overlooked, so here: https://swprs.org/video-the-cia-and-the-media/

It appears in the article here:

"In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts:"

Many thanks, and much respect to you Sir for bringing this important piece to my attention.

May I humbly offer in return, https://archive.org/details/publicenemyno1 (don't neglect the 2nd reel)

Desolation Row , Mar 5, 2019 6:41:25 PM | link
I apologize for another somewhat off topic posting, but I have not seen it posted here earlier, and I think that this should be seen by as many eyes as possible.

The Propaganda Multiplier:How Global News Agencies and Western Media Report on Geopolitics

By Swiss Propaganda Research

It is one of the most important aspects of our media system -- and yet hardly known to the public: most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.

The key role played by these agencies means that Western media often report on the same topics, even using the same wording. In addition, governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages around the world.

A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles are based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews are in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda is attributed exclusively to the opposite side...

[Mar 18, 2019] FULL CNN TOWN HALL WITH TULSI GABBARD 3-10-19

Highly recommended!
amazing, simply amazing. You need to watch this Town Hall in full to appreciate the skills she demonstrated in defense of her principles. What a fearless young lady.
And this CNN warmonger, a prostitute of MIC was/is pretty devious. Question were selected with malice to hurt Tulsi and people who ask them were definitely pre-selected with an obvious intent to smear Tulsi. In no way those were spontaneous question. This was a session of Neocon//Neolib inquisition. Tulsi behaves like a modern Joan of Arc
From comments: "People need to donate to Tulsi Gabbard for president so she is allowed on the DNC sponsored debate stages. 65000 unique donors required to be in the debates. Donation can be as small as $1 if you can't afford $25"(mrfuzztone)
Notable quotes:
"... Braver then 99.9% of all men in power. They just enjoy watching the blood sports they create for profit. Looks like people are starting to get fed up with the show. About time ..."
"... WE CURRENTLY HAVE A CRONY CAPITALIST PYRAMID SCHEME AND CNN PLAYS IT'S PART TO KEEP THAT SYSTEM IN PLACE ..."
"... I'm 66, a Progressive formerly from Boston where we eat and breathe politics and I'll tell you... never in my life have I seen a Democratic candidate like this fearless young woman who will simultaneously attract veterans AND anti-war folks AND moderate Republicans AND youth. NO OTHER CANDIDATE CAN DO THIS. My absolute belief is that if Tulsi's not on the ticket... Trump wins. Sorry Bernie, this time I'm going with Tulsi. ..."
Mar 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com
lalamimix , 1 week ago

Braver then 99.9% of all men in power. They just enjoy watching the blood sports they create for profit. Looks like people are starting to get fed up with the show. About time✌️ 😉

FMA Bincarim , 1 week ago

CNN has the nerve to claim that Cloudbootjar Copmala Cory and Creepy Joe are polling higher than her.

softminimal1 , 1 week ago (edited)

WE CURRENTLY HAVE A CRONY CAPITALIST PYRAMID SCHEME AND CNN PLAYS IT'S PART TO KEEP THAT SYSTEM IN PLACE.

softminimal1 , 1 week ago

CNN LOVES WARS.

edfou5 , 1 week ago

I'm 66, a Progressive formerly from Boston where we eat and breathe politics and I'll tell you... never in my life have I seen a Democratic candidate like this fearless young woman who will simultaneously attract veterans AND anti-war folks AND moderate Republicans AND youth. NO OTHER CANDIDATE CAN DO THIS. My absolute belief is that if Tulsi's not on the ticket... Trump wins. Sorry Bernie, this time I'm going with Tulsi.

mb1968nz , 1 week ago (edited)

Tulsi handled these hacks like a pro LOOL Are you a capitalist? LOL What s stupid question.....CCN usually stacks there town halls with corporate cronies. I bet Bernie picks her for a high position in his government.

mrfuzztone , 1 week ago

People need to donate to Tulsi Gabbard for president so she is allowed on the DNC sponsored debate stages. 65000 unique donors required to be in the debates. Donation can be as small as $1 if you can't afford $25.

[Mar 18, 2019] The Boeing debacle is the latest example of regulatory capture by D. Saint Germain

Mar 15, 2019 | medium.com

How the Boeing 737 Max grounding and the Genoa bridge collapse show us that allowing companies to self-certify the safety of their products can be deadly

On Wednesday the United States joined 42 other countries in grounding Boeing's 737 Max 8 jets, days after a crash in Ethiopia of a 737 Max 8 jet left 157 people dead. The United States was a holdout, taking days longer to ground the planes than most of Europe. Our Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, in those days between, that they weren't grounding the planes because " the agency's own reviews of the aircraft show no 'systematic performance issues.' "

There were some conflicting accounts of exactly how the US came to ground the 737 Max 8. A statement from Boeing on Wednesday read that "Boeing has determined  --  out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety  --  to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft."

In other words, Boeing claimed it was their idea / recommendation that the FAA ground the aircraft. Meanwhile, Donald Trump declared that he grounded the aircraft by executive order, forcing the FAA's hand.

Which begs the question  --  why did it take a presidential decree and/or the company itself to get the FAA, the main agency responsible for overseeing airplane transit in the United States, to ground potentially dangerous aircraft?

As James Hall, the former National Transportation Safety Board chairman, explained in the Times , in 2005 the FAA turned its safety certification responsibilities over to the manufacturers themselves (if manufacturers met some requirements). In plain speak, this means that Boeing got to decide if Boeing's airplanes were safe enough to fly  --  with no additional third-party checks.

The FAA said the purpose of this change was to save the aviation industry roughly $25 billion between 2006 to 2015.

Given this, it makes you wonder if the statement on Tuesday by Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell  --  that the agency had conducted its own review  --  was factual, or if the agency had simply reviewed the safety review that Boeing had conducted on itself. It also clarifies why Boeing came to recommend to the FAA that their planes be grounded, rather than the FAA taking any decisive action on their own.

The term for this maze, where a government safety agency allows an industry to regulate itself so the industry can save some money , and where the industry itself has to be the one to recommend to government that their product shouldn't be in operation pending investigation, is regulatory capture .

From Wikipedia : "Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating."

The issue, in short, is that it is rarely in a business' self-interest to ensure the absolute safety of their products. Safety testing takes time, money, and if inspections reveal problems that need fixing, more money. Corporations are profit maximizers and pursue whatever method they need to minimize cost (including minimizing fixing flaws in their products) and maximize profit.

Without the threat of outside inspection or serious repercussions, there are few incentives to fix potential problems. Insurance covers accidents, and most mega-corporations have funds set aside in their operating budgets to pay the (generally small, relative to their operating budgets) fines governments may impose if and when a problem is discovered.

This is why it is unlikely that industry will ever sufficiently regulate itself on safety issues. Remember Edward Norton's job in "Fight Club"? "The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A. Multiply it by the probable rate of failure, B. Multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A x B x C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one."

The United States isn't alone in turning over self-certification of its transportation and infrastructure to industry. The Genoa Bridge Collapse in Italy last year, in which 43 people died, is another case.

The Morandi Bridge is a privately-owned toll bridge, publicly built but later sold off to Autostrade, a company majority owned by the Benetton clothing family. As a private infrastructure company, Autostrade has a profit maximization goal of keeping bridge maintenance costs low and toll profits high. Thanks to further privatization efforts of the Italian government, the safety and inspection of bridges is also conducted by private companies. In the case of the Morandi Bridge, the inspection company responsible for safety checks and certification of the bridge was owned by Autostrade's parent company, leaving the company that owns the bridge to self-certify its safety. The result, as the world saw, was a bridge that collapsed.

As Texas engineer Linwood Howell said in the Times, "the engineers inspecting the bridge would have their own professional liabilities to worry about, including the profits of the company that was paying them," i.e. a clear conflict of interest between maintaining basic safety and ensuring their own jobs.

Meanwhile, as Italian law professor Giuliano Fonderico noted , "the government behaved more like its first priority was cooperating with Autostrade, rather than regulating it."

These current examples of regulatory capture are the latest in a series of examples from recent times; others have pointed to regulatory capture in the Federal Reserve during the economic crisis , and the Mineral Management Service during the BP Oil Spill , to name two. Unfortunately it is only when a tragedy occurs that the public expresses concern.

George Stigler, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics in part for his work around regulatory capture in 1982, believed that it was likely that industry would come to dictate the regulatory issues within their industries because of personal connections, a greater understanding of issues facing industry than the general public, but mostly, a public ignorance around what their regulators are up to.

Perhaps it is time for people to pay a little more attention to what our regulators, who we pay to protect us from bridge collapses and plane crashes, are up to. There are some people with big ideas on fixes for regulatory capture, but public demand will also need to exist for real reform efforts to take place.

[Mar 18, 2019] The WSJ's Despicable Defense of the War on Yemen by Daniel Larison

Mar 18, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Rubble aftermath of a Saudi airstrike on a Yemeni neighborhood in 2015. Almigdad Mojalli/Voice of America The Wall Street Journal echoes Pompeo's obnoxious Yemen lies in their editorial on the antiwar resolution that the Senate passed last week:

The Saudis aren't in danger of an Iranian invasion, but don't underestimate the signal that abandoning our ally would send across the Middle East. It will be seen by Iran and Russia as an invitation to more trouble-making, and another signal to allies that the U.S. can't be trusted. More war is the likeliest result.

There is no foreign war so despicable and unjust that The Wall Street Journal won't defend it to the end. It is telling that the WSJ editors don't talk about the war on Yemen until Congress moves to try to withdraw the U.S. from it. The massive humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives of as many as 15 million Yemenis doesn't concern them (and it never comes up in this editorial), because if they mentioned it that would remind everyone that the Saudi coalition bears the greatest responsibility for causing mass starvation and creating the conditions for the world's worst modern cholera outbreak. The U.S. has not only been enabling Saudi war crimes in its bombing campaign, but our government has also been helping to create the world's worst humanitarian crisis through our unstinting support for the war. The editorial omits all of this because including it would show how breathtakingly cynical and horrible the pro-war argument is. War supporters never acknowledge the consequences of the destructive policies they defend because they know it would discredit them, and so they try to change the subject to anything else. In this case, war supporters have been desperate to make the Yemen debate about Iran because they cannot honestly talk about the costs of the conflict or the U.S. role in it.

Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the United States, and our government isn't obliged to support them in a military intervention they chose to begin along with the United Arab Emirates without consulting Washington. The U.S. certainly isn't obliged to indulge them in their failed war of choice almost four years later. The war has become a drain on Saudi and Emirati resources, and it has exposed them as weak, cruel, and incompetent as they have devastated Yemen's infrastructure, starved its people, and failed achieved any of their stated goals. No one should care about doing these despotic governments any favors, but forcing them to end their war would be doing them a favor all the same. If the U.S. were perceived as abandoning the Saudis by halting support for their war, that would be guaranteed to improve our country's reputation around the world rather than harm it. The U.S.-Saudi relationship is a liability and an embarrassment for our country, and the sooner we are rid of it in its current form the better it will be for us and the region.

Supporters of the war on Yemen have no rational argument for continued U.S. involvement, and so they are reduced to changing the subject from the war criminal states that the U.S. aids and abets to the Iranian government that has almost nothing to do with the conflict. Ending U.S. support for the war would be a "gift" to Iran, the WSJ editors tell us, as if four years of keeping the Saudis and Emiratis bogged down in a war they cannot win has done anything to harm Iran or curtail its influence in the region. The lie at the heart of the war on Yemen is that it has something to do with opposing so-called Iranian "expansionism," but it is the war itself that has done more for Iranian influence in Yemen than anything else. The longer that the U.S. enables the Saudi coalition to continue its senseless and indefensible campaign, the better it is for the Saudis' and Emiratis' rivals. Iran hawks are always wrong about what benefits Iran's government and what harms it, and this is no exception.

The editorial's comparison between last week's vote and Congressional opposition to continued involvement in the Vietnam War is unintentionally revealing and damning for their side. Just like supporters of the Vietnam War, supporters of the war on Yemen are defending a war that can't be won in a place where the U.S. should never have been involved. In this case, war supporters are squarely on the side of the aggressors, and in their continued backing for this disgraceful policy they show their utter contempt for the lives of the people of Yemen.

[Mar 18, 2019] The U.S. Shouldn t Seek New Ideological Confrontations Abroad by Daniel Larison

This MIC prostitute Karan, like his wife Nuland are un-reformable. They just earn their living ing by warmongering. And they will screem like pigs if they are deprived from those money, and do not care one bit how many people will be killed as the result of their policies.
There is no war that those neocon chickenhawks do not like. It's their family racket.
Notable quotes:
"... Kagan's preferred foreign policy requires that there is some global "ideological confrontation" for the U.S. to be engaged in. If there isn't one, it has to be invented. ..."
"... Kagan isn't all that interested in details or accuracy. Those are "beside the point." ..."
"... Kagan doesn't make it explicit in this essay, but his larger goal in all of this is to advocate for a more confrontational foreign policy mobilized against the authoritarian enemies that he has described. He hints at this when he disparages contemporary "realists" ..."
"... realists, non-interventionists, and progressives that see no compelling reason for the U.S. to engage in destructive rivalries with major authoritarian powers in their own backyards. Except for a lame, overused comparison to the 1930s, Kagan doesn't even try to explain why we are wrong to think this. Kagan assumes that such destructive rivalries are both necessary and desirable, and this essay is the latest part of his effort to lay the groundwork for the ideological justification for those rivalries. ..."
"... A recent WSJ article (03/11/19) titled "Russian Gas Plan Divides U.S., Allies" with the subtitle "Washington fears undersea project would make Germany too reliant on Moscow" tells the tale of what the real reasons for America to demonize Russia and Putin. The U.S. leaders fear that the German-Russian pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, will make Europe reliant on Russian energy instead of Europe purchasing it energy from the United States. What gives the U.S. the right to stop one nation from doing commerce with other nations? The answer is "Greed." ..."
"... Kagan is and will until the bitter end defend American hegemony and the ideological mantle will be used as a cover ..."
"... People also forget that US is not a democracy, but a managed Republic, and according to all indicators, it is not even that liberal ..."
"... The fallout from the actions of these "interventionists" is millions are dead in a number of countries. Millions are refugees and thousands of soldiers are dead or maimed. More facts on these war criminals at link below. https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-facts-on-crimes-of-war-criminals.html ..."
"... This Kagan family, with Robert now the lead figure, has done a great deal towards furthering conflicts and violence in the world. It is long past time that they be put in their place, whatever that is, but it will not happen because their Zionist mindset is very well funded. ..."
"... "The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher." We ought to do more than that. He should be muzzled and sent to live in a cave somewhere to repent the consequences of the terrible damage he and other incompetents have done to America. That people like this still have access to the media is almost beyond belief. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Brookings Senior Fellow and author Robert Kagan in March 2018. (Brookings Institution/Paul Morigi) Robert Kagan warns us about global authoritarianism:

Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days, the one for which we are least prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism. We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview that offers a real alternative to liberalism.

We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview because it isn't one. All authoritarian states share certain things in common, and they may see some of the same things as threats, but there isn't a single worldview that all authoritarian governments subscribe to. There is no one ideology that binds them together. Most of them are nationalistic to one degree or another, but because of that they usually have competing and opposing goals. Treating all authoritarian regimes as part of the same global threat lumps illiberal and majoritarian democracies together with kleptocracies, communist dictatorships, and absolute monarchies. That exaggerates the danger that these regimes pose, and it tries to invent a Cold War-like division between rival camps that doesn't really exist. If the U.S. treats these states as if they are all in league with one another, it will tend to drive together states that would otherwise remain at odds and keep each other at arm's length.

Kagan's preferred foreign policy requires that there is some global "ideological confrontation" for the U.S. to be engaged in. If there isn't one, it has to be invented. His account of the history of the 20th century shows how determined he is to see international politics in terms of grand ideological battles even when there wasn't one. He takes seriously the idea that WWI is one of these struggles: "But for those who fought it, on both sides, it was very much a war between liberalism and authoritarianism." Kagan makes the mistake of treating wartime propaganda descriptions of the war as the real motivation for the war, and he relies on stereotypes of the nations on the other side of the war as well. The world's largest colonial empires were not fighting for "the liberties of Europe" and they certainly weren't fighting for the rights of small nations, as wartime British propaganda would have it, and that became abundantly clear in the post-war settlement. It was primarily a war among empires for supremacy in Europe, and the surviving Allied empires consolidated their hold on their own colonial possessions and gained more. To the extent that Americans genuinely believed that joining the war had something to do with vindicating the cause of democracy, they were quickly disabused of that notion when they saw the fruits of the vindictive settlement that their allies imposed on the losing side.

Kagan admits that there are many differences of regime type that he is trying to collapse into one group:

We have become lost in endless categorizations, viewing each type of non-liberal government as unique and unrelated to the others -- the illiberal democracy, the "liberal" or "liberalizing" autocracy, the "competitive" and "hybrid" authoritarianism. These different categories certainly describe the myriad ways non-liberal societies may be governed. But in the most fundamental way, all of this is beside the point.

In other words, Kagan isn't all that interested in details or accuracy. Those are "beside the point." What matters is dividing up the world into two opposing camps: "Nations are either liberal, meaning that there are permanent institutions and unchanging norms that protect the "unalienable" rights of individuals against all who would infringe on those rights, whether the state or the majority; or they are not liberal." The criteria for qualifying as a liberal nation are extremely demanding. What institutions can honestly be called "permanent" and what norms are ever truly "unchanging"? Judged against this extreme and unreasonable standard, there won't ever be many nations that qualify as liberal, including quite a few that we would normally consider liberal democracies in good standing. That makes it a lot easier for Kagan to exaggerate the power of "resurgent authoritarianism."

Kagan doesn't make it explicit in this essay, but his larger goal in all of this is to advocate for a more confrontational foreign policy mobilized against the authoritarian enemies that he has described. He hints at this when he disparages contemporary "realists" whom he doesn't name or cite:

Just as during the 1930s, when realists such as Robert Taft assured Americans that their lives would be undisturbed by the collapse of democracy in Europe and the triumph of authoritarianism in Asia, so we have realists today insisting that we pull back from confronting the great authoritarian powers rising in Eurasia.

To be much more accurate, there are realists, non-interventionists, and progressives that see no compelling reason for the U.S. to engage in destructive rivalries with major authoritarian powers in their own backyards. Except for a lame, overused comparison to the 1930s, Kagan doesn't even try to explain why we are wrong to think this. Kagan assumes that such destructive rivalries are both necessary and desirable, and this essay is the latest part of his effort to lay the groundwork for the ideological justification for those rivalries.

Kagan's analysis suffers from the problem of mirror-imaging that always plagues ideologues. He assumes that everyone sees the world in starkly ideological categories just as he does, and he thinks that other actors are just as determined to export their ideology as he is. His entire worldview depends on linking great power competition with larger ideological causes, and for almost thirty years there has been no such "ideological confrontation" for Kagan to theorize about. Despite Kagan's insistence to the contrary, there still isn't. He wants the U.S. to take a more confrontational approach to dealing with Russia and China, and in order to sell that today he has to dress it up as something more than the destructive and costly pursuit of hegemony that he has been pushing for decades. The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher.


Minnesota Mary March 17, 2019 at 1:56 pm

A recent WSJ article (03/11/19) titled "Russian Gas Plan Divides U.S., Allies" with the subtitle "Washington fears undersea project would make Germany too reliant on Moscow" tells the tale of what the real reasons for America to demonize Russia and Putin. The U.S. leaders fear that the German-Russian pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, will make Europe reliant on Russian energy instead of Europe purchasing it energy from the United States. What gives the U.S. the right to stop one nation from doing commerce with other nations? The answer is "Greed."

All wars are predicated on lies, and all wars are fought for economic reasons and not the so called humanitarian reasons that are fed to the people.

Kouros , says: March 17, 2019 at 3:41 pm
Always insightful indeed: Kagan is and will until the bitter end defend American hegemony and the ideological mantle will be used as a cover (Mel Gibson screaming "Freedom!" in Bravehart; killing the babies and stealing the incubators!).

People also forget that US is not a democracy, but a managed Republic, and according to all indicators, it is not even that liberal

So better save this post because you are still young and in 30 years from now you will be able to re-post it and just change a couple of names

JR , says: March 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm
Ironically he seems in the same (lack of) weight class (intellectually) as Pompeo.
Stephen J. , says: March 17, 2019 at 5:22 pm
You write:

"The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed."

--

Right on the mark. The fallout from the actions of these "interventionists" is millions are dead in a number of countries. Millions are refugees and thousands of soldiers are dead or maimed. More facts on these war criminals at link below.
https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-facts-on-crimes-of-war-criminals.html

Taras 77 , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:15 pm
Thanks much for this, Mr Larison.

Anytime, anywhere, anyone comes out and destroys kagan's Zionist globalist babble as you have done, it is a very commendable exercise for the good of mankind and America.

This Kagan family, with Robert now the lead figure, has done a great deal towards furthering conflicts and violence in the world. It is long past time that they be put in their place, whatever that is, but it will not happen because their Zionist mindset is very well funded.

Your article does a public service.

prolegomenon to any future foreign policy , says: March 18, 2019 at 2:27 am
"The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher."

We ought to do more than that. He should be muzzled and sent to live in a cave somewhere to repent the consequences of the terrible damage he and other incompetents have done to America. That people like this still have access to the media is almost beyond belief.

[Mar 15, 2019] Ukraine is a good example. Now this country commits ritual suicide "completely voluntarily."

Mar 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

Nick Klaus Mr Russian 2 days ago ,

You are a little wrong when you call this system "colonial". Today it is neo-colonialism. When the United States subordinates the country, they do not bear any responsibility for the fate of this country, since the formally subordinate country remains independent and all its actions are performed "voluntarily."

Ukraine is a good example. Now this country commits ritual suicide "completely voluntarily."

milo Mr Russian 2 days ago ,

They've thought of that. That's why they tell us "The US has no colonies". Because you have to support them if you admit to owning them. That's why by 1960, every colonial nation on earth was giving its own colonies independence. They were costing more than they were worth.

What we do now is to groom some local fellow, like Guaido, to take over the government and run it the way we would like him to. We pay generously for this favor, in the form of loans and direct investments. The fortunate ones near the seat of power come out fabulously well. But neither we nor the country's rulers take on any responsibility for the welfare of their people.

One of the dictators we backed was the director of the Brazilian military, who seized power back in 1964... a fellow named Castelo Branco. And he was asked once at a press conference how the economy was doing.

He replied "The economy, it is doing marvelously! The people, on the other hand-- not so good."

Mr Russian milo 2 days ago ,

If you don't offer protection to your puppet eventually some other power might try the same trick and overthrow him. But if you do provide protection that area becomes a colony.
So what you describing can only work when there is only one major power on the planet. The US enjoyed it for some time but it can't have it anymore, that's reality.

milo Mr Russian 2 days ago ,

The system is predicted to work some time into the future, for the reason that it is based on subterfuge and military force. And we have a military as large as that of the entire rest of the planet put together. So to us it doesn't matter what you call it. They control the media, so they can just not report a word you say about them.

What will undo it will be a collapse of the dollar-based economy. And that will be kind of hard to achieve, as every rich person on earth keeps his wealth denominated in dollars. So there is little pressure to kill it. That's why we always used to call it The Almighty Dollar.

However there are limits. Our main weapon now being used to enforce behavior is financial sanctions. So it's pretty much assured that at some point in the near future the sanctioned nations (Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela...) will be getting together to set up an alternate financial system. Probably based on the yuan.

That's the thing about offensive weapons systems. As a Mexican wit put it "Let them build a twenty foot wall. We will build a 21 foot ladder."

[Mar 14, 2019] Regulatory Capture: The Banks and the System That They Have Corrupted

Mar 14, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com


"But the impotence one feels today -- an impotence we should never consider permanent -- does not excuse one from remaining true to oneself, nor does it excuse capitulation to the enemy, what ever mask he may wear. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. The worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."

Simone Weil

"And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they're not. And what you're going to see and what we are seeing is it'll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you'll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of -- and I don't want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent -- to the detriment of everyone else...

If TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car... I think it's inevitable. I mean, I don't think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."

Neil Barofsky

"Written by Carmen Segarra, the petite lawyer turned bank examiner turned whistleblower turned one-woman swat team, the 340-page tome takes the reader along on her gut-wrenching workdays for an entire seven months inside one of the most powerful and corrupted watchdogs of the powerful and corrupted players on Wall Street – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The days were literally gut-wrenching. Segarra reports that after months of being alternately gas-lighted and bullied at the New York Fed to whip her into the ranks of the corrupted, she had to go to a gastroenterologist and learned her stomach lining was gone.

She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there...

In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player .

If the Democratic leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is smart, it will reopen the Senate's aborted inquiry into the New York Fed's labyrinthine conflicts of interest in supervising Wall Street and make removing that supervisory role a core component of the Democrat's 2020 platform. Senator Bernie Sanders' platform can certainly be expected to continue the accurate battle cry that 'the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'"

Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade

[Mar 13, 2019] Please consider looking at the Wikileaks video linked below? It illustrates a barbaric type of war crime-free unaccountability to "international law," including a lawless US military Rules of Engagement modus operandi

Mar 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

ChuckOrloski says:

March 12, 2019 at 5:25 pm GMT • 200 Words @AnonFromTN Superfluously impossible, AnonfromTN said: "It is simple, really. The US needs a law prohibiting anyone with dual citizenship to hold public office."

Hi AnonfromTN.

Hard to comprehend how you persist to deny how the "US law" is Zionized. (Zigh) Israeli "dual citizenship and holding "Homeland" public office is an irretractable endowment lawlessly given to US Jews by ruling international Jewry.

They barged into our Constitution like a cancer and feast upon The Bill of Rights.

What's worse now is how livin' the "American dream" has reversed, and at present, President t-Rump demands huge increases in war funding.
No one gets informed that future wars converge with Israel's will.

Please consider looking at the Wikileaks video linked below? It illustrates a barbaric type of war crime-free & unaccountability to "international law," including a lawless US military Rules of Engagement modus operandi, which governed the serial killing activity of an Apache attack chopper crew in the Baghdad sky. Look close at the posed threat!

Tell me AnonfromTN? As you likely know, Bradley Chelsea Manning is, and under "Homeland" law, in-the-klink for exposing the war crimes to America. Is their one (1) US Congressman raising objection to the imprisonment? Fyi, you can look at the brave writing of Kathy Kelly on the Manning case, and which appears at Counterpunch.org.

AnonFromTN , says: March 12, 2019 at 6:01 pm GMT

@ChuckOrloski I can only agree. The patient (the US political system) is too far gone to hope for recovery. As comment #69 rightly points out, our political system is based on bribery. Lobbyism and donations to political campaigns and PACs are perfectly legal in the US, while all of these should be criminal offenses punished by jail time, like in most countries. Naturally, desperate Empires losing their dominant position resort to any war crimes imaginable, and severely punish those who expose these crimes.

I can add only one thing: you are right that greedy Jews are evil, but greedy people of any nationality are just as evil as greedy Jews. Not all greedy globalists and MIC thieves are Jews, but they are all scum. I watch with dismay the US Empire heading to its crash. Lemmings running to the cliff are about as rational as our degenerate elites. Israel influence is toxic, but that's not the only poison the Empire will die from.

[Mar 10, 2019] U.S. SEC to review stock trading rules in big potential shakeup by John McCrank

Mar 10, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is launching a review of the main set of rules governing stock trading, opening the door to the biggest potential changes in a decade-and-a-half, the head of the agency said on Friday.

The possible changes are aimed at making it easier to trade illiquid stocks, making more trading information available to investors, and improving the speed and quality of public data feeds needed for trading.

The SEC in 2005 adopted a broad framework called Regulation National Market System that was largely aimed at ensuring retail investors get the best price possible and preventing trades from being executed at prices that are inferior to bids and offers displayed on other trading venues.

Since then, faster, more sophisticated technology has put a bigger focus on rapid-fire, high-speed trading. There has also been an influx of new electronic stock exchanges, fragmenting liquidity and increasing costs for brokers around exchange connectivity and market data needed to fuel algorithmic trading.

"It is clear that the market challenges we faced in the early 2000s are not the same as the issues that we confront over a decade later," Jay Clayton, chairman of the SEC, said at an event in New York.

To get a better grasp of current market issues, the SEC held a series of roundtable discussions with industry experts last year that led to potential rule-making recommendations around thinly-traded securities, combating retail fraud, and market data and market access, Clayton said.

Some areas the SEC is looking at include:

The 2019 review follows an active 2018 for the SEC.

The regulator adopted rules to increase transparency around broker-dealer stock order routing and private off-exchange trading venues. It also ordered a pilot program to test banning lucrative rebate payments that exchanges make to brokers for liquidity-adding stock orders.

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Tom Brown)

https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/3-6-3/html/r-sf.html

Sign in to post a message. 17 viewing1 person reacting

judi 1 hour ago What about Naked Shorting? It is out of control and no one including the SEC is doing anything to stop it??

Tara 41 minutes ago The rules implemented in 2005 did nothing to help retail traders with accounts under 25K.
When are you going to address the real issue of stock price manipulation? Also, bring back the uptick rule. And while you are at it, we need rules to punish dishonest analysts who publish opinions of price that are so far off the charts, they never reflect actual earnings often announced days later.

Rob 38 minutes ago They are going to make it more in favor of big boys aka the banks

[Mar 09, 2019] Syria Accuses US Of Stealing Over 40 Tons Of Its Gold Zero Hedge

Mar 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Syria Accuses US Of Stealing Over 40 Tons Of Its Gold

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2019 - 23:55 240 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Syrian National News Agency headlined on February 26th, "Gold deal between United States and Daesh" (Daesh is ISIS) and reported that,

Information from local sources said that US army helicopters have already transported the gold bullions under cover of darkness on Sunday [February 24th], before transporting them to the United States.

The sources said that tens of tons that Daesh had been keeping in their last hotbed in al-Baghouz area in Deir Ezzor countryside have been handed to the Americans, adding up to other tons of gold that Americans have found in other hideouts for Daesh, making the total amount of gold taken by the Americans to the US around 50 tons, leaving only scraps for the SDF [Kurdish] militias that serve them [the US operation].

Recently, sources said that the area where Daesh leaders and members have barricaded themselves in, contains around 40 tons of gold and tens of millions of dollars.

Allegedly, "US occupation forces in the Syrian al-Jazeera area made a deal with Daesh terrorists, by which Washington gets tens of tons of gold that the terror organization had stolen, in exchange for providing safe passage for the terrorists and their leaders from the areas in Deir Ezzor where they are located."

ISIS was financing its operations largely by the theft of oil from the oil wells in the Deir Ezzor area, Syria's oil-producing region, and they transported and sold this stolen oil via their allied forces, through Turkey, which was one of those US allies trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government and install a Sunni fundamentalist regime that would be ruled from Riyadh (i.e., controlled by the Saud family) . This gold is the property of the Syrian Government, which owns all that oil and the oil wells, which ISIS had captured (stolen), and then sold. Thus, this gold is from sale of that stolen black-market oil, which was Syria's property.

The US Government claims to be anti-ISIS, but actually didn't even once bomb ISIS in Syria until Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, and the US had actually been secretly arming ISIS there so as to help ISIS and especially Al Qaeda (and the US was strongly protecting Al Qaeda in Syria ) to overthrow Syria's secular and non-sectarian Government. Thus, whereas Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, America (having become embarrassed) started bombing ISIS in Syria on 16 November 2015 . The US Government's excuse was "This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike." They pretended it was out of compassion -- not in order to extend for as long as possible ISIS's success in taking over territory in Syria. (And, under Trump, on the night of 2 March 2019, the US rained down upon ISIS in northeast Syria the excruciating and internationally banned white phosphorous to burn ISIS and its hostages alive, which Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had routinely done to burn alive the residents in Donetsk and other parts of eastern former Ukraine where voters had voted more than 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama's coup in Ukraine had replaced . It was a way to eliminate some of the most-undesired voters -- people who must never again be voting in a Ukrainian national election, not even if that region subsequently does become conquered by the post-coup, US-imposed, regime. The land there is wanted; its residents certainly are not wanted by the Obama-imposed regime.) America's line was: Russia just isn't as 'compassionate' as America. Zero Hedge aptly headlined "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" . Nobody exceeds the United States Government in sheer hypocrisy.

The US Government evidently thinks that the public are fools, idiots. America's allies seem to be constantly amazed at how successful that approach turns out to be.

Indeed, on 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined "Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight" and presented video allegedly showing it (but unfortunately providing no authentication of the date and locale of that video).

Jihadists were recruited from throughout the world to fight against Syria's secular Government. Whereas ISIS was funded mainly by black-market sales of oil from conquered areas, the Al-Qaeda-led groups were mainly funded by the Sauds and other Arab royal families and their retinues, the rest of their aristocracy. On 13 December 2013, BBC headlined "Guide to the Syrian rebels" and opened "There are believed to be as many as 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters." Except in the Kurdish areas in Syria's northeast, almost all of those fighters were being led by Al Qaeda's Syrian Branch, al-Nusra. Britain's Center on Religion & Politics headlined on 21 December 2015, "Ideology and Objectives of the Syrian Rebellion" and reported: "If ISIS is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place." Almost all of those 65,000 were trained and are led by Syria's Al Qaeda (Nusra), which was protected by the US

In September 2016 a UK official "FINAL REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON COMBATING TERRORIST AND FOREIGN FIGHTER TRAVEL" asserted that, "Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined." Even just 25,000 (that official lowest estimate) was a sizable US proxy-army of religious fanatics to overthrow Syria's Government.

On 26 November 2015, the first of Russia's videos of Russia's bombing ISIS oil trucks headed into Turkey was bannered at a US military website "Russia Airstrike on ISIS Oil Tankers" , and exactly a month later, on 26 December 2015, Britain's Daily Express headlined "WATCH: Russian fighter jets smash ISIS oil tankers after spotting 12,000 at Turkish border" . This article, reporting around twelve thousand ISIS oil-tanker trucks heading into Turkey, opened: "The latest video, released by the Russian defence ministry, shows the tankers bunched together as they make their way along the road. They are then blasted by the fighter jet." The US military had nothing comparable to offer to its 'news'-media. Britain's Financial Times headlined on 14 October 2015, "Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists" . Only America's allies were involved in this commerce with ISIS -- no nation that supported Syria's Government was participating in this black market of stolen Syrian goods. So, it's now clear that a lot of that stolen oil was sold for gold as Syria's enemy-nations' means of buying that oil from ISIS. They'd purchase it from ISIS, but not from Syria's Government, the actual owner.

On 30 November 2015 Israel's business-news daily Globes News Service bannered "Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, report" , and reported:

An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization. The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

After all, Israel too wants to overthrow Syria's secular, non-sectarian Government, which would be replaced by rulers selected by the Saud family , who are the US Government's main international ally .

On 9 November 2014, when Turkey was still a crucial US ally trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government (and this was before the failed 15 July 2016 US-backed coup-attempt to overthrow and replace Turkey's Government so as to impose an outright US stooge), Turkey was perhaps ISIS's most crucial international backer . Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's leader, had received no diploma beyond k-12, and all of that schooling was in Sunni schools and based on the Quran . (He pretended, however, to have a university diploma.) On 15 July 2015, AWD News headlined "Turkish President's daughter heads a covert medical corps to help ISIS injured members" . On 2 December 2015, a Russian news-site headlined "Defense Ministry: Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal supply of oil" ; so, the Erdogan family itself was religiously committed to ISIS's fighters against Syria, and they were key to the success of the US operation against Syrians -- theft from Syrians. The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann, who was personally acquainted with many of the leading political figures in Africa and the Middle East, headlined on 22 June 2014, "US Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider" , and he reported that the NATO-front the Atlantic Council had held a meeting in Turkey during 22-23 of November 2013 at which high officials of the US and allied governments agreed that they were going to take over Syria's oil, and that they even were threatening Iraq's Government for its not complying with their demands to cooperate on overthrowing Syria's Government. So, behind the scenes, this conquest of Syria was the clear aim by the US and all of its allies.

The US had done the same thing when it took over Ukraine by a brutal coup in February 2014 : It grabbed the gold. Iskra News in Russian reported, on 7 March 2014 , that "At 2 a.m. this morning ... an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borosipol Airport" near Kiev in the west, and that, "According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing." This was as translated by Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research headlining on 14 March, "Ukraine's Gold Reserves Secretly Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?" in which he noted that, when asked, "A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply, 'Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder.'" The load was said to be "more than 40 heavy boxes." Chossudovsky noted that, "The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine's gold reserves in February to be worth $1.8 billion dollars." It was allegedly 36 tons. The US, according to Victoria Nuland ( Obama's detail-person overseeing the coup ) had invested around $5 billion in the coup. Was her installed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk cleaning out the nation's gold reserves in order to strip the nation so that the nation's steep indebtedness for Russian gas would never be repaid to Russia's oligarchs? Or was he doing it as a payoff for Nuland's having installed him? Or both? In any case: Russia was being squeezed by this fascist Ukrainian-American ploy.

On 14 November 2014, a Russian youtube headlined "In Ukraine, there is no more gold and currency reserves" and reported that there is "virtually no gold. There is a small amount of gold bars, but it's just 1%" of before the coup. Four days later, bannered "Ukraine Admits Its Gold Is Gone: 'There Is Almost No Gold Left In The Central Bank Vault'" . From actually 42.3 tons just before the coup, it was now far less than one ton.

The Syria operation was about oil, gold, and guns. However, most of America's support was to Al-Qaeda-led jihadists, not to ISIS-jihadists. As the great independent investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported on 2 July 2017 :

"In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehouses full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN)."

The US had acquired weapons from around the world, and shipped them (and Gaytandzhieva's report even displayed the transit-documents) through a network of its embassies, into Syria, for Nusra-led forces inside Syria. Almost certainly, the US Government's central command center for the entire arms-smuggling operation was the world's largest embassy, which is America's embassy in Baghdad.

Furthermore, On 8 March 2013, Richard Spenser of Britain's Telegraph reported that Croatia's Jutarnji List newspaper had reported that "3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. The airlift of dated but effective Yugoslav-made weapons meets key concerns of the West, and especially Turkey and the United States, who want the rebels to be better armed to drive out the Assad regime."

Also, a September 2014 study by Conflict Armaments Research (CAR), titled "Islamic State Weapons in Iraq and Syria" , reported that not only east-European, but even US-made, weapons were being "captured from Islamic State forces" by Kurds who were working for the Americans, and that this was very puzzling and disturbing to those Kurds, who were risking their lives to fight against those jihadists.

In December 2017, CAR headlined "Weapons of the Islamic State" and reported that "this materiel was rapidly captured by IS forces, only to be deployed by the group against international coalition forces." The assumption made there was that the transfer of weapons to ISIS was all unintentional.

That report ignored contrary evidence, which I summed up on 2 September 2017 headlining "Russian TV Reports US Secretly Backing ISIS in Syria" , and reporting there also from the Turkish Government an admission that the US was working with Turkey to funnel surviving members of Iraq's ISIS into the Deir Ezzor part of Syria to help defeat Syria's Government in that crucial oil-producing region. Moreover, at least one member of the 'rebels' that the US was training at Al Tanf on Syria's Jordanian border had quit because his American trainers were secretly diverting some of their weapons to ISIS. Furthermore: why hadn't the US bombed Syrian ISIS before Russia entered the Syrian war on 30 September 2015? America talked lots about its supposed effort against ISIS, but why did US wait till 16 November 2015 before taking action, "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" ?

So, regardless of whether the US Government uses jihadists as its proxy-forces, or uses fascists as its proxy-forces, it grabs the gold -- and grabs the oil, and takes whatever else it can.

This is today's form of imperialism.

Grab what you can, and run. And call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption'. And the imperial regime's allies watch in amazement, as they take their respective cuts of the loot. That's the deal, and they call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world'. That's the way it works. International gangland. That's the reality, while most of the public think it's instead really "fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world." For example, as RT reported on Sunday , March 3rd, about John Bolton's effort at regime-change in Venezuela, Bolton said: "I'd like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro, to replace the whole corrupt regime,' Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper." Trump's regime wants to bring clean and democratic government to the poor Venezuelans, just like Bush's did to the Iraqis, and Obama's did to the Libyans and to the Syrians and to the Ukrainians. And Trump, who pretends to oppose Obama's regime-change policies, alternately expands them and shrinks them. Though he's slightly different from Obama on domestic policies, he never, as the US President, condemns any of his predecessors' many coups and invasions, all of which were disasters for everybody except America's and allies' billionaires. They're all in on the take.

The American public were suckered into destroying Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2011-now, and so many other countries, and still haven't learned anything, other than to keep trusting the allegations of this lying and psychopathically vicious and super-aggressive Government and of its stenographic 'news'-media. When is enough finally enough ? Never? If not never, then when ? Or do most people never learn? Or maybe they don't really care. Perhaps that's the problem.

On March 4th, the Jerusalem Post bannered "IRAN AND TURKEY MEDIA PUSH CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT US, ISIS: Claims pushed by Syrian regime media assert that US gave ISIS safe passage out of Baghuz in return for gold, a conspiracy picked up in Tehran and Ankara" , and simply assumed that it's false -- but provided no evidence to back their speculation up -- and they closed by asserting "The conspiracies, which are manufactured in Damascus, are disseminated to Iraq and Turkey, both of whom oppose US policy in eastern Syria." Why do people even subscribe to such 'news'-sources as that? The key facts are hidden, the speculation that's based on their own prejudices replaces whatever facts exist. Do the subscribers, to that, simply want to be deceived? Are most people that stupid?

Back on 21 December 2018, one of the US regime's top 'news'-media, the Washington Post, had headlined "Retreating ISIS army smuggled a fortune in cash and gold out of Iraq and Syria" and reported that "the Islamic State is sitting on a mountain of stolen cash and gold that its leaders stashed away to finance terrorist operations." So, it's not as if there hadn't been prior reason to believe that some day some of the gold would be found after America's defeat in Syria. Maybe they just hadn't expected this to happen quite so soon. But the regime will find ways to hoodwink its public, in the future, just as it has in the past. Unless the public wises-up (if that's even possible).

[Mar 06, 2019] American Meddling in the Ukraine by Publius Tacitus

Highly recommended!
Ukraine is now a pawn in a big geopolitical game against Russia. Which somehow survived 90th when everybody including myself has written it off.
That's why the USA, EU (Germany) and Russia pulling the country in different directions. But the victory of Ukrainian nationalists is not surprising and is not solely based on the US interferences (although the USA did lot in this direction) pursuit its geopolitical game against Russia. Distancing themselves from Russa is a unversal trend in Post-Soviet space. And it often takes ugly forms.
So Ukraine in not an exception here. It is part of the "rule". Essentially the dissolution of the USSR revised the result on WWII. And while the author correctly calls Ukrainian leader US stooges, they moved in this direction because they feel that it is necessary for maintaining the independence. In other words anti-Russian stance is considered by the Ukrainian elite as a a pre-condition for mainlining independence. Otherwise people like Parubiy would be in jail very soon. They are tolerated and even promoted because they are useful.
It repeats the story of Baltic Republics, albeit with a significant time delay. There should be some social group that secure independence of the country and Ukrainian nationalists happen to be such a group. That's why Yanukovich supported them and Svoboda party (with predictable results).
Notable quotes:
"... The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations. ..."
"... Jump ahead now to the April 2014 "uprising" of anti-Russian forces in the Ukraine (Maidan 2). The US was firmly on the side of the protesters, who ultimately succeeded in ousting the elected President. And who were helping lead this effort? ..."
"... The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine. ..."
"... US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts. ..."
"... US interference was not confined to serendipitous relationships, such as the Yushchenko marriage. It also included the open and active funding of certain political groups and media outlets. The US State Department sent money through a variety of outlets. One of these was the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening aka CEPPS. ..."
"... This is : ..."
"... Count me as one of the people who is outraged by the hypocrisy and stupidity now on display in the United States. I am not talking about Trump. I am referring to the Republicans and Democrats and pundits and media mouthpieces who are fuming about Russian citizens writing on Facebook as one of the worst catastrophes since Pearl Harbor or 9-11. ..."
"... There clearly is meddling going on in America's political landscape. But it isn't the Russian Government. No. There are foreign and domestic forces aligned who are keen on portraying Russia as a threat to world order that must be opposed by more defense spending and tougher sanctions. That is the propaganda that dominates the media in the United States these days. And that is truly dangerous to our nation's safety and freedom. ..."
"... A CIA guy recently said the US only interferes to 'promote democracy' - tell that to Australia, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Congo, Russia, Ukraine...it's a long long list. ..."
"... An independent Ukraine was also a project of German foreign policy after the Brest-Litowsk Treaty (the equivalent of the Versailles Treaty, only aimed at Russia) SO I have o wonder how much of the enthusiasm for Vicky Nuland's Israel friendly Nazi state-let (oh what irony!) is a product of Germany wanting to reassert itself in the east, using NATO solidarity as a fig leaf. Maybe they will make Ukraine import a lot o Africans "refugees" so that Soros' project of creating a brown Europe will be advanced in the Slavic sphere as well as the west. ..."
"... The liberal party - who provides the prime-minister - EU leader Hans van Baalen and Belgian ex-prime minister Guy Verhostad held a controversial speech on the Maidan square in support of the protesters that the EU will support them. ..."
"... I wouldn't put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. The deeper problem of Ukraine is the fact that in the East of the country (and maybe even the majority of the country) Bandera is indeed regarded as a villain. But in the West he is a hero to this day. Even in Soviet times people from Western Ukraine were regarded as "fascists" by much of the rest of the country. No wonder as there were anti soviet partisans until late in the fifties. ..."
"... "Prorussian" Kutshma turned into a Ukrainian "patriot" (such is the logic of statehood) and the same thing happened with Yanukovich. People forget that he would have signed an association agreement with Europe had Europe not refused because he was insufficiently "democratic". ..."
"... But the West