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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.
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
Justin M. Feldman on October 27, 2007
**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.
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.
Jul 20, 2018 | russia-insider.com
Marko Garry Compton • 21 days ago ,
So Iran has no offensive air force or any Nukes but the Israelis with their air superiority and nukes are making Iran - enemy #1. How very - American - of them.JPH Marko • 21 days ago ,
" The Anglo-Zion Art of War "
1) Sweet-talk the enemy into disarming.
2) Attack the enemy.
3) Sodomize with a bayonet and murder the leader
4) Have a good laugh while stating "We came, We saw, he died!".
Procivic , , July 13, 2018 at 12:55 am
Jul 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Washington has been on the offensive against the Islamic Republic of Iran for close to half a century. Largely as a result, Iran, a rounding error in the superpower sweepstakes, has gone from strength to strength, challenging American power throughout the region, most notably in Iraq and Syria.
U.S.-led regime change in Iraq created Tehran's historic opportunity to return to Baghdad for the first time since the creation of the Ottoman caliphate in the 15th century. This unscripted but entirely predictable outcome was no mean feat, all the more so for being the opposite of what Washington intended.
The Bush administration knew that it no longer wanted Saddam in the chair, but could not think beyond this one, giant, uncharted leap into the future. Iran has a far greater and more lasting interest in the affairs of its neighbor and often bitter enemy. As a consequence, the mullahs are playing a far longer, and more successful, game.
The legacy of unintended consequences continues to define Washington's policy towards Iraq a generation after the first Gulf War ended. And so too with Syria. In both countries, U.S. shortcomings have created a historic opportunity for Iran to enhance its influence in Arab arenas that when not actively hostile to it (Iraq) are at best lukewarm (Syria).Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria's South? How U.S. Iran Policy Hurts Iran and America
When asked about Syria's relationship with Iran, Farouk Shara'a, longtime foreign minister and vice president, once explained to a mutual friend, "You don't have to love the woman you are sleeping with."
Syria has been in bed with Iran for decades. Saddam's war against Iran in the '80s, the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and most recently the war against the Assad regime in Syria, have conspired to throw these two unlikely allies into a cold embrace.
Washington has been oblivious to this essentially ambivalent Syrian attitude towards Iran, and remains equally so to the opportunities it creates to reduce Iran's footprint in postwar Syria. Now that the war is winding down, the value of Iran's military contribution to Syria is declining. In parallel, Syria's interest in reducing the power of its erstwhile Iranian and Russian friends over its destiny increases.
Damascus and Moscow welcomed Iran's critical contribution to defeating the opposition and giving Washington and its allies a diplomatic bloody nose in the bargain. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledges that Iran's presence in Syria -- at the invitation of the regime -- is legitimate and that it would be "unrealistic" to demand its ouster.
But while Iran's wartime contribution proved critical to victory, neither Assad nor Putin was displeased to distance Iranian-backed elements from the recent battle front in the south. Neither has an interest in enabling Tehran to pursue a postwar Syrian agenda towards Lebanon and Israel. Nor is either enamored with Iran's continuing efforts to reshape the Syrian military in its image. On these important issues, Iran stands all but alone against an invisible, de facto coalition that includes Washington and the EU alongside Israel, Moscow, and the Assad regime itself.
But instead of viewing the end of the war as an opportunity to lessen Iran's value to the regime and to reduce its footprint in the country, Washington is continuing heedlessly with failed policies created for an environment that no longer exists. As long as the fighting continues and the regime's efforts to reassert sovereignty over the entire country are frustrated by U.S. deployments in the northeast and southeast, Iran's military presence in the country is secure. Likewise, Washington shows no sign of reconsidering international sanctions against the regime, which also forces Syria into the arms of Tehran.
A colorblind appraisal of the effects of U.S. policy in Iraq and now Syria would suggest that Washington is either brilliantly in cahoots with Iran to the latter's benefit or is being outplayed by weaker but more clear-eyed players. My vote goes squarely to the latter.
Apart from the lingering campaign against ISIS, in every other respect the U.S. effort in Syria is imploding. Washington under Obama and now Trump has been forced to uneasily acknowledge the regime's staying power. It has now been reduced to bickering over the details of Syrian constitutional reform in the postwar era, a waste of time if ever there was one. Lately, the U.S. secretary of state, from his respected perch, has personally threatened Iran's key military strategist and architect of its advances in Iraq and Syria, Qassem Sulemani, a sure sign that the policymaking process at State is frozen.
In the field, Washington has ignominiously abandoned allies in the southern front. And in the northeast, the Kurds have embarked on the road back to Damascus, imperiling Washington's deployment there.
Confronted with the disintegration of its diplomatic and military strategy, the Trump administration is reduced to playing spoiler, obstructing the inevitable restoration of the regime's sovereignty over the country and continuing the punishing sanctions that have removed the battered but resilient Syrian private sector from international capital and commercial markets. This policy fails on two fronts -- it creates more gratuitous misery for the Syrian people and it undermines the stated U.S. objective of reducing and removing Iranian and Hezbollah influence in the country. Indeed, continuing to pursue the current policies will leave the U.S. isolated among friends (Jordan and Israel) as well as frenemy Russia, and will postpone rather than speed the day that Iran leaves Syria.
Geoffrey Aronson is chairman and co-founder of The Mortons Group and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.
Janwaar Bibi July 12, 2018 at 11:24 pmA colorblind appraisal of the effects of U.S. policy in Iraq and now Syria would suggest that Washington is either brilliantly in cahoots with Iran to the latter's benefit or is being outplayed by weaker but more clear-eyed players. My vote goes squarely to the latter.
US foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby and to a lesser extent, by the Saudi lobby. The illegal and unprovoked attacks by the US on Iraq, Libya and Syria were done at the behest of these lobbies. The only country that has benefited from all this bloodshed is Israel, which now dominates the Middle East.
Since this obvious truth cannot be said out aloud, we need to pretend we don't know who is behind all the mayhem in the Middle East, like this pointless article does.
The writer can't see the forest for the trees. Successive U.S. administrations have behaved irresponsibly to enhance Israel's position in the guise of bring "democracy" to the region. Washington's failures have created ongoing misery in Iraq, a failed state in Libya and the destruction of the ancient land of Syria.Genesee Hike , , July 13, 2018 at 8:11 am
The U.S. continues to
pretend it had no role in the creation of the huge refugee problem that followed its interventions in Libya and Syria.
No lessons learned, the folly is being played out daily in Yemen where the Pentagon is leading the a campaign of death and destruction alongside its "democratic" allies, the Salman clan of Arabia and the sheikhs of the Persian Gulf minnow petrostates.
"the stated U.S. objective of reducing and removing Iranian and Hezbollah influence "Krzysztof Hołubicki , , July 13, 2018 at 8:59 am
I've yet to see a compelling reason for this "stated objective". If you want to argue that it's an American interest because the Israel Lobby wants it, well, OK, there are politicians who can be bribed to do Israel's will, but no real American would agree.
One of these days an American president will make an "opening to Iran" as Nixon once made one to China. Surely we can bury the hatchet with Iran for the sake of a grand bargain that accomplishes America's one real interest in the Middle East, which is to free ourselves of the various parasites who entangle us in their messes, and get the hell out of there. Some of us hoped that Trump might be that president, but it wasn't meant to be.
As far as Procivic and Genesee Hike comments are concerned -- they are perfectly right and down to the point.the piper will be paid , , July 13, 2018 at 11:36 am
"The U.S. continues toSid Finster , , July 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm
pretend it had no role in the creation of the huge refugee problem that followed its interventions in Libya and Syria."
Which is ridiculous. When you bomb, invade, and arm insurgencies in people's countries, a lot of people run away. Everybody knows that.
In the case of our bombing, invading, and/or arming insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, a lot of people ran away.
Millions ran into Turkey. Millions more ran through Turkey into Greece and then up through the Balkans into other NATO countries. And still more came up from Africa and sailed away from the shores of ruined Libya to our NATO allies Italy, Spain, and France.
We did this. Everybody knows we did it. It's absurd to deny it. What's worse is that many of the allies destabilized by the refugees warned or even begged us not to start those wars. With no American interest at stake, no real risk assessment, and no exit strategy formulated, we did it anyway.
Much simpler explanation: For decades, the United States has been the loyal servant of Israel, and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, faithfully carrying out its masters' every dictate.
As an unintended consequence of Israeli/Saudi policy, Iran has grown much stronger.
The only reason that the US foreign policy establishment is rushing headlong into a war with Iran is because Israel and Saudi Arabia are terrified of the Iran that they have created.
Jul 09, 2018 | www.unz.com
Four years ago, on 17 July 2014, in the midst of a civil war raging in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed with all 298 passengers and crew. On 25 May last, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) entrusted with the criminal investigation of the downing and composed of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and paradoxically, given its possible involvement, Ukraine, presented its second progress report. Like the first report in September 2016, it took the form of a press conference, with video animations supporting the investigation's findings. This time there was even less to report; the main conclusion was that elements from the Russian 53rd Buk missile brigade were the culprits, a claim already made by the London-based investigative group Bellingcat two years before. In February 2016 that assertion had still been dismissed as unfit for evidence by the Dutch chief prosecutor on the JIT, Fred Westerbeke, in a letter to victims' relatives. How can it possibly have become the core component of the case for the prosecution two years and two months later?
The JIT press conference was immediately followed by a formal declaration on the part of the Dutch and Australian governments that held Russia responsible. However, JIT member Malaysia dissociated itself from the accusation, whilst Belgium has remained silent. The obviously over-hasty conclusion, on the heels of the alleged Skripal nerve gas incident in Salisbury and the likewise contested Syrian government gas attack on jihadist positions in Douma, all point in the same direction: Putin's Russia must be kept under fire and there is no time to wait for a court verdict.
ORDER IT NOW
In my book Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (Manchester University Press), I have refrained from entering the slippery terrain of making claims about who pulled the trigger, intentionally or by accident, in the late afternoon of 17 July, or even which type of weapon was used. For the downing of the Malaysian plane has become part of a propaganda war that was already heating up prior to the catastrophe. Instead the book is about what we do know about the events surrounding it, in the preceding months, weeks, and days, indeed even on the day itself. Subsequent events have only underlined that it is this context that lends meaning to the tragedy.
Refocusing US Supremacy After the Soviet Collapse
Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.
Right from the Soviet collapse in 1991, the US global perspective was articulated in several new strategic doctrines. The first and perhaps foundational one is the Wolfowitz Doctrine, named after Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence in the Bush Sr. administration, who commissioned a Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 (DPG) of 1992. It proclaims the United States the world's sole superpower, which must remain ahead of all possible contenders in arms technology and never again accept military parity, as with the USSR during the Cold War. The newly self-confident European Union, too, was obliquely warned that the US alone would handle global policing.
Additional doctrines, specifying on which grounds armed US intervention might be undertaken and justified, added elements such as humanitarian intervention (a Carnegie Endowment report of 1992, Self-Determination in the New World Order ); it was applied in Yugoslavia and again in Libya. Next, the'War on Terror', originally floated at Israeli Likud/US Neocon conferences between 1979 and 1984, was revived after the collapse of the USSR as the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Cold War strategist Samuel Huntington; Afghanistan and Iraq stand as monuments of the application of this doctrine. Finally, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard of 1997 specifically dealt with reorganising the former USSR, including Ukraine.
Through the different episodes, NATO was transformed into a global policing structure serving the interests of Atlantic capital. 'Out of area operations', unthinkable in the Yalta epoch, were first tried out against the Bosnian Serbs in the mid-1990s. The enlargement of the alliance into the former Soviet bloc, which began around that time too, was obviously motivated to prevent European departures from US tutelage, hence its bold forward surge. Already in 1994, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to join the Partnership for Peace, the newly created waiting room for NATO membership. To quell Russian concerns about the advancing West, the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 laid down that no nuclear weapons and permanent troop deployments would take place in new member states. Yet Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova not long afterwards joined a low-key organisation of former Soviet republics (after the initials, GUAM), another oblique link up with NATO.
Mobilising Georgia and Ukraine against Resurgent Russia
Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, the country began to mutate back to a society led by a directive state, assisted by rising oil prices. After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and announced a missile defence system deployed in the CzechRepublic, Poland, and Rumania, Russia shifted to a more robust international position. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go.
Yet even a colour revolution means little if there is no accompanying make-over of the fundamental state/society relation. Hence, the incoming policy planning director at the US State Department, Stanford professor Stephen Krasner, and Carlos Pascual, former US ambassador in Kiev, developed a comprehensive regime change doctrine in 2004. This would prove a key element in the subsequent Ukraine intervention. To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure.
At the Munich Security Conference in January 2007, Putin reminded his audience of the promises made to Gorbachev in 1991 not to expand the Atlantic alliance and warned that further attempts at enlargement (the Baltic states having been included in 2004) would imply great risks. Yet NATO and the EU were inexorably pressing forward. At the Bucharest NATO summit in April 2008 the Americans made the offer of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, only to have the offer vetoed by Germany and France. Possibly to force the issue, the pro-Western president brought to power by the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, armed and encouraged by the US and Israel, later that year embarked on a military adventure to recapture the breakaway province of South Ossetia. It ended in a complete debacle, as a Russian army stood ready in North Ossetia to deal the invaders a major, if very costly, blow. This, then, was what Richard Sakwa calls, 'the war to stop NATO enlargement'. From now on, every post-Soviet republic tempted to join the Atlantic alliance would have to reckon with Russian protection for groups resisting such integration, irrespective of whether it concerned actual Russians or any other of the almost two hundred nationalities of the former USSR.
The EU-Russian Energy Equation and Ukraine
The gas from Russia that feeds Europe today was discovered back in the 1960s; the Friendship oil pipeline was built in 1964 and the Soyuz, Urengoi and Yamal pipelines followed after West Germany started purchasing Soviet gas. The link-up culminated in 1980 with the contract for a gas pipeline from Urengoi in north Siberia to Bavaria, signed by a heavy-industry consortium headed by Deutsche Bank.
After the collapse of the USSR, Russian gas had to pass through the pipeline grid of independent Ukraine, which in the meantime had become the prey of rival clans of oligarchs. For most of them, gas was the key source of rapid enrichment -- directly, as in the case of subsequent prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, 'the Gas Princess', or indirectly, by supplying steel pipes for gas transport, as in the case of president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law, Victor Pinchuk, the 'Pipeline King'. The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid.
After Putin had come to power, he disciplined the Russian oligarchs as part of the restoration of state sovereignty. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the energy oligarch and richest of all Russian billionaires at the time, at the time was buying support in the Duma to build a trans-Siberian pipeline to China; whilst negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron about US participation in his Yukos concern, which he planned to merge with Sibneft into the world's largest oil company. In 2005 he was convicted to a long prison sentence. Yukos was brought back into the Russian patrimony via a proxy construction involving state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, as part of broader subordination of the economy to the state.
Gazprom meanwhile began building alliances to avoid future disruption of supplies via Ukraine and secure its European market. In 2005 it agreed with the outgoing government of Gerhard Schröder to build a pipeline across the Baltic directly to Germany, 'Nord Stream', with a consortium of German companies. Schröder was made the chairman of the board of the joint venture, Achimgaz, and two years later, a South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria was contracted with ENI of Italy. It was to be extended into south-eastern Europe as far as Austria. In this way Gazprom and the Russian state were outmanoeuvring various EU projects for pipelines aimed at by-passing Russia. Indeed it was the EU's plan to use a Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to connect to the Caspian energy reserves that prompted the $40 billion South Stream project. Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy, who first discussed South Stream with Putin in late 2006, was offered the chairmanship, which he declined, perhaps in the knowledge the project would become highly contested.
The Eurasian connection by now posed a direct threat to the cohesion of the enlarged Atlantic bloc. Besides Nord Stream and South Stream, Gazprom's collaboration with NIOC of Iran and a joint venture with ENI in Libya set all alarm bells ringing in Washington. Already in May 2006, a few months after the gas shutdown to Ukraine, the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution calling on NATO to protect the energy security of its members and have it develop a diversification strategy away from Russia. Senator Richard Lugar in a much-noted speech prior to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006, argued in favour of designating the manipulation of the energy supply as a 'weapon' that can activate Article 5 of the NATO treaty (common defence).
In a report to the European Parliament in 2008, the director of the EurasianPolicyCenter of the Hudson Institute in the US recommended that the EU should assist in liberalising and modernising the Ukrainian grid instead of supporting South Stream. Tension in the Black Sea area, her report noted candidly, might serve the purpose of blocking that pipeline altogether. However, after the 2010 election of president Victor Yanukovych, the front man of the powerful eastern and southern oligarchs, the lease of Russia's Crimean naval base at Sebastopol, home of its Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, so the prospects for stirring up unrest there were mitigated by Moscow's enduring naval preponderance.
Regime Change in Kiev
One aspect of the resurgence of a sovereign Russia was the plan for a Eurasian economic union to rebuild relations with former Soviet republics (Ukraine obtained observer status early on). The EU's Eastern Partnership was a direct response. It was offered to former Soviet republics in 2008, in a gesture that signalled that Europe now effectively acted as a subcontractor to the larger anti-Russian design drafted in Washington. Concretely, the EU offered Ukraine and other former Soviet republics an Association Agreement that also included provisions for the country's alignment on NATO security policy, besides a neoliberal make-over in the spirit of the Krasner-Pascual doctrine. The envisaged reforms would be devastating for the country's existing power structure, not least for the Donbass oligarchs whose front man was Yanukovych. Their heavy industry assets would be swept away by EU competition, the country turned into an agricultural supplier, and Russian gas cut off.
Hence, when both the EU and Russia sought to win over Yanukovych to join their respective blocs and Brussels ruled out the triangular arrangement by which the Ukrainian president had hoped to postpone the choice, he could not but step back from signing the EU Association Agreement in November 2013 and accept a Russian counteroffer. By then, 'Europe' had become a code word for an end to oligarchic rapaciousness, in which Yanukovych and his sons had become involved as well. The president's decision triggered mass demonstrations and occupations, which this time included an armed insurrection by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in the historically anti-Russian west of the country. It created the space for actual fascists to hijack the protests and prepare a coup. By their use of deadly force at the Maidan central square (ascribed by the coup plotters and in the West to the riot police), the Ukrainian ultras demonstrated they were ready to kill their own compatriots to achieve their aims.
To prevent the situation from getting out of hand completely, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland flew to Kiev on 20 February 2014. However, whilst they negotiated a deal with Yanukovych and the opposition, the US and other NATO ambassadors met with Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of the fascist party of Ukraine and former head of its militia, Patriot of Ukraine . Parubiy, today the speaker of the Kiev parliament, was in command of the armed gangs at the Maidan; two days later these took power in the capital, installing a government of Ukrainian nationalist stripe, selected by US diplomats. Parubiy was appointed secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), a key post overseeing all military and intelligence operations, which he continued to hold until three weeks after the downing of MH17. With the Russian-Ukrainian half of the country effectively disenfranchised, the coup was responded to by the secession of Crimea and an armed insurrection in the Donbass. Stirrings of revolt in Odessa and Mariupol would be suppressed with deadly violence, in which Parubiy and other far right figures were directly involved.
Confronting the BRICS in Ukraine
From late March onwards the war party in the United States and NATO began to elaborate a strategy that would make Ukraine the testing ground for a trial of strength with Russia and China. The secession of Crimea and its re-incorporation into the Russian Federation was exploited to evoke the spectre of an impending Russian invasion on several fronts. General Philip Breedlove, commander of US Eucom (European Command, one of nine regional US military commands spanning the globe) and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), coordinated the Western position with General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Saceur at the time of the Yugoslavia wars. Clark was already advising Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine before the Donbass had actually risen in revolt. On 12April he asked Breedlove whether the NATO commander could not arrange a statement blaming Moscow for the violence because ' if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative , the Russians will see it as an open door'. Clark then elaborated on the general geopolitical situation, giving further insights into why the war party in the US believed that Ukraine was to be 'held' and chosen as a battle ground to confront Russia and China. No time was wasted on market democracy here. Claiming that 'Putin has read US inaction in Georgia and Syria as US "weakness",' Clark went on to explain that
China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask, would the US then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, the South China Sea? If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia. And what good is a NATO "security guarantee" against internal subversion? And then the US will face a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO, and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later .
On the weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO, so called because the use of military force within the country is only warranted under that label) began right after Brennan's visit; Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. Since NATO had earlier implored Yanukovych not to use force against (armed) demonstrators, Moscow now asked the alliance to restrain the coup leaders in turn. But according to foreign minister Lavrov, the answer they got was that 'NATO would ask them to use force proportionately'.
In fact even the oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, elected president on 25 May 2014 to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the coup regime, proved unable to restrain the hardliners. On 30 June, following a four-hour NSDC meeting with Parubiy, interior minister Avakov, and others whose armed followers were demonstrating outside, Poroshenko declared that the ceasefire would be lifted and a new offensive launched. Three days later NATO naval manoeuvres in the Black Sea commenced with US participation and with electronic warfare a key component. On the ground, Kiev's forces made rapid progress, apparently drawing a ring around the large rebel city of Donetsk. NATO had its own concerns: an upcoming summit in Wales in September was expected to capitalise on the trope of a 'Russian invasion', vital after the Afghanistan debacle, and dovetailing with the emerging contest with the BRICS bloc.
The BRICS, coined first as a banker's gimmick, were never more than a loose collection of '(re-) emerging economies', but from Washington's perspective, sovereign entities not submitting to neoliberal global governance are unacceptable. So when on 16 July, the BRICS heads of state, hosted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (removed by a rightwing conspiracy in May 2016), signed the statute establishing a New Development Bank, or BRICS bank, as a direct challenge to the US and Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically targeting the energy link with the EU. The creation of an equivalent of the World Bank with a capital of $100 billion with a reserve currency pool of the same size (an equivalent of the IMF), laid the groundwork of a contender pole in the global political economy challenging the West's austerity regime frontally -- or so it seemed at the time.
Still in Brazil before flying back to Moscow, Russian president Putin on the fringes of the football world cup finals also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a comprehensive Land for gas deal. Its tentative provisions included normalising the status of Crimea in exchange for a massive economic rehabilitation plan and a gas price rebate for Ukraine. However, a special European Council meeting convened on the 16th could not reach agreement on whether the EU should follow the American lead this time, since countries with export interests to Russia and dependent on its gas, were balking. Instead, the Council stressed the EU's commitment 'to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine' in order to 'safeguard the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.'
The Downing of Flight MH17 and South Stream
The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum.
Former secretary of state and then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a TV interview on the 18th called for making 'Russia pay the price' once its culpability had been established. Her to-do list for the EU included, one, 'toughen sanctions'; two, find alternatives to Gazprom, and third, 'do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians'. The 'Land for gas' negotiations were shelved and on the 22nd Europe dropped the remaining hesitations when it underwrote the US sanctions targeting Russia's role as an energy supplier. As Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a newspaper interview a year later, 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' .
In 2009 the EU had introduced a new energy policy, dubbed a 'Third Energy Package'. It does not permit gas to be transported to the EU by the company producing it, effectively forcing Gazprom to sell even the gas piped through the Ukrainian grid to other companies before it could enter the EU. Nord Stream had still been exempted from EU competition rules, but the projected South Stream was not, never mind that most contracts with Gazprom had been signed before the Third Energy Package came into force. Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic.
The Crimean secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation obviously played its own role here. Crimea is a historically Russian region; having been assigned to Ukraine by a whim of Soviet party leader Khrushchev in 1954, it never reconciled itself to being part of an independent Ukraine. After the nationalist coup in late February, the status of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol was in the balance. In 1991, the Black Sea had been a Soviet/bloc inland sea, with one NATO country (Turkey) bordering it. Now there were two more NATO/EU countries and two pro-Western, aspiring NATO members on its littoral. So when one week after the coup, three former Ukrainian Presidents, Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko, called on the coup government in Kiev to cancel the agreement under which the lease of Sebastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, the question of who would be able to project naval power over the Black Sea became acute. The question now was whether Russia would be able to provide cover for a large-scale project such as South Stream, or not.
South Stream itself came into the firing line directly. The European Parliament, which never raised the issue of why the February agreement with Yanukovych the EU brokered had been sidelined by the coup, on 17 April 2014 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the South Stream gas pipeline and recommended a search for alternative sources of gas. On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on seven Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as well as Gennady Timchenko, whose Volga Group controls Stroytransgaz, the company entrusted with building the Bulgarian section of South Stream. Nevertheless the Bulgarian parliament approved South Stream two weeks after the reincorporation of Crimea, circumventing the EU's anti-trust legislation by renaming the pipeline a 'sea-land connection'.The European Commission then instructed Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream and proceeded to cut off tens of millions of much-needed regional development funds, whilst the US ambassador warned Bulgarian companies against working with Timchenko. A final visit of US Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson, in combination with other punitive measures then led to the cancellation in early June. As Eric Draitser commented at the time, 'South Stream has become one of the primary battlegrounds in the economic war that the West is waging against Russia'.
The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. Putin earlier had hinted at moving the transit of gas for the EU to non-European countries; in August, it was reported there was a Plan B in the works to export via Turkey. On 1 December 2014, during a state visit to Ankara, the Russian president announced that in light of Western sanctions and the refusal of construction permits in the EU, South Stream would be replaced by a 'Turkish Stream' pipeline, besides the existing Blue Stream link. However, in November 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria, throwing relations between Moscow and Ankara into a deep crisis and entailing the cancellation of Turkish Stream. This was only overcome after the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan, in which Russia sided with the Turkish president, possibly even warning him in advance. Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure.
Regime Change in Moscow?
The MH17 disaster occurred in the context of a deep crisis, in which capitalist discipline as imposed from its historic epicentre in the West, has become primarily predatory, relying to an ever-greater extent on violence. Speculative financial operations in combination with the 'War on Terror' have spread economic risk and repression at home, war and regime change abroad. Human survival itself has been turned into a global gamble played out over the head of the affected populations for private gain. The West, led by the effectively bankrupt United States, increasingly relies on force to sabotage the formation of any alternative, something its own social formation can no longer bring forth. Even the most promising, potentially revolutionary IT and media developments coming out of Silicon Valley have been mortgaged by a planetary project of communications surveillance to safeguard US imperial positions.
Back in the 1980s, when it launched the second Cold War, the Reagan administration intended to destabilise the Soviet bloc and bring about regime change in Moscow. This is also the aim of the current, new Cold War. A 2015 Chatham House report, 'The Russian Challenge', discusses this in some detail. Although it concedes that the West cannot have an interest in Russia sliding into complete anarchy, neither should the Putin presidency be protected 'against change, whether managed or violent '. Therefore, 'whether Putin was ousted by an internal coup, by illness or by popular unrest , it would nevertheless be sensible for the West to give further thought to how it might deal with the consequences of regime change in Russia.'
Effective communication with the Russian people and the defence of human values beforehand would be essential for Western credibility Planning for the future ought, lastly, to cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse .
The president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, in a piece for the Washington Post in October 2016 suggested launching a new, sustained anti-Putin campaign, for which the contract killing of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, ten years earlier, might be used as a vignette.
For such a campaign, George Soros' Open Society Foundation can be trusted to have elaborated the 'civil society'/colour revolution scenarios, whilst identifying the groups that might be mobilised for their execution. The OSF plan of action for 2014-17, titled Russia Project Strategy , identifies Russian intellectuals active in Western academic and opinion networks, the Russian gay movement, and others as potential levers for civil society protest against the conservative bloc in power in Moscow. From the OSF documents hacked by the CyberBerkut collective, Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation emerges as the key beneficiary, and discussion portals and liberal media such as Echo of Moscow radio station, RBK news agency, and the newspaper Vedomosti, as the preferred channels to disseminate content.
There is no need to repeat that all this is part a powerful offensive to derail the loose contender bloc around China and Russia, which had constituted itself in the face of Western aggressiveness and crisis. The seizure of power in Ukraine as well as the secession of Crimea and the civil war in the east, which has meanwhile cost the lives of more than 13,000 people and displaced a million, as well as economic warfare against Russia by the US and the EU, have brought the danger of a large European war several steps closer. Whether the actual downing of Flight MH17 was an intentional, premeditated act or an accident, whether it involved a jet attack, an anti-aircraft missile, or both, ultimately cannot be established with certainty. Yet both the NATO war party and the coup regime in Kiev, which on many occasions has demonstrated that its ultra-nationalist and fascist antecedents are very much alive, would have been perfectly capable of such an act and had the means for it. Most importantly, they had the motive. Those in power in Kiev had several times already attempted to draw Moscow into the civil war, directly and through a NATO intervention. If this indeed was their aim, it would also have served the Atlantic bloc's determined and long-standing commitment to force continental Europe into an antagonistic relation with Russia.
In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large.
Kees van der Pijl is a Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy and Professor Emeritus of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.
Jul 06, 2018 | www.unz.com
Erebus , June 16, 2018 at 9:40 am GMT
Look up Rostislav Ishenko's latest excellent piece yesterday:
I did, and as usual Ishenko takes an oblique approach that shines a light into obscure but critical corners.
What an eye opener this one is.
Not sure how much was lost in translation, but if I understood correctly the Russians are massing forces in the Western District, not because they fear an attack from NATO, or plan to attack Europe but to rescue Europe from a conflagration that will be sparked in Ukraine. That it was drifting into failed state status is well known, but that a religious war is in the offing was utterly unknown to me, and I suspect to most others here.
That in turn shines a light on why Poland and the Baltics are begging for US/NATO troops as well, and at least partially why US/NATO is delivering. As Ukraine drifts into chaos, its neighbours, being aware of its history of extreme violence and atrocity are preparing themselves for the spillover. They have no desire to relive the decade+ blood orgy that erupted in the middle of the 20th C centred on Ukraine (where, IMHO, the real Holocaust happened).
Overwhelming force applied at an overwhelming pace is the best way of dealing with such an outbreak, and the Russians are the only party able to deliver. US/NATO forces can be expected to roar around in their APCs avoiding trouble and then claim credit in accordance with Western military tradition. Meanwhile, the Russians will go into mopping up the leftovers.
Makes a lot of sense if Ishchenko's read of the situation is right. It probably has a bigger impact on Dunford's and Gerasimov's meeting than the USM "going home".
PS: Yes, I was aware of the Russian central bank selling off its USTs. With the Petro-Yuan and Western sanctions now in full swing, it really doesn't need $100B's worth to manage its U$ denominated imports.
Jul 05, 2018 | consortiumnews.com
Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis July 5, 2018 • 59 Comments
U.S. corporate media spent years dismissing the role of neo-Nazis in Ukraine's 2014 coup but it is suddenly going through a conversion, as Daniel Lazare reports.
By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News
Last month a freelance journalist named Joshua Cohen published an article in The Washington Post about the Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi threat. Despite a gratuitous swipe at Russia for allegedly exaggerating the problem (which it hasn't), the piece was fairly accurate.
Entitled "Ukraine's ultra-right militias are challenging the government to a showdown," it said that fascists have gone on a rampage while the ruling clique in Kiev closes its eyes for the most part and prays that the problem somehow goes away on its own.
Thus, a group calling itself C14 (for the fourteen-word ultra-right motto, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children") not only beat up a socialist politician and celebrated Hitler's birthday by stabbing an antiwar activist, but bragged about it on its website. Other ultra-nationalists, Cohen says, have stormed the Lvov and Kiev city councils and "assaulted or disrupted" art exhibits, anti-fascist demos, peace and gay-rights events, and a Victory Day parade commemorating the victory over Hitler in 1945.
Yet nothing has happened to stop this. President Petro Poroshenko could order a crackdown, but hasn't for reasons that should be obvious. The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead.
When resistance to the U.S.-backed coup broke out in Crimea and parts of the country's largely Russian-speaking east, the base of Yanukovych voters, civil war ensued. But because the Ukrainian army had all but collapsed, the new, coup government had no one to rely on other than the neo-fascists who had helped propel it to power.
So an alliance was hatched between pro-western oligarchs at the top – Forbes puts Poroshenko's net worth at a cool $1 billion – and neo-Nazi enforcers at the bottom. Fascists may not be popular. Indeed, Dmytro Yarosh, the fire-breathing leader of a white-power coalition known as Right Sector, received less than one percent of the vote when he ran for president in May 2014.
But the state is so weak and riddled with so many ultra-rightists in key positions – Andriy Parubiy, founder of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine, is speaker of the parliament, while ultra-rightist Arsen Avakov is minister of the interior – that the path before them is clear and unobstructed. As Cohen points out, the result is government passivity on one hand and a rising tide of ultra-right violence on the other. In the earlier stages of the civil war, for instance, the rightwing extremists burned more than 40 people alive in a labor union building in Odessa, a horrific incident downplayed by Western media.
Cohen's article may have Washington Post readers scratching their heads for the simple reason that the paper has long said the opposite. Since Euromaidan, the Post has toed the official Washington line that Vladimir Putin has exaggerated the role of the radical right in order to discredit the anti-Yanukovych revolt and legitimize his own alleged interference.
Sure, anti-Yanukovych forces had festooned the Kiev town hall with a white supremacist banner, a Confederate flag , and a giant image of Stepan Bandera , a Nazi collaborator whose forces killed thousands of Jews during the German occupation and as many as 100,000 Poles. And yes, they staged a 15,000-strong torchlight parade in Bandera's honor and scrawled an SS symbol on a toppled statue of Lenin. They also destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who had fought on what Bandera supporters regard as the wrong side of World War II, that is, with the Soviets and against the Axis.
But so-called responsible, mainstream journalists are supposed to avert their eyes to avoid being tarred as a " useful idiot " whom Putin supposedly employs to advance his "anti-American agenda." Ten days after Yanukovych's departure, the Post dutifully assured its readers that Russian reports of "hooligans and fascists" had "no basis in reality."
A week or so later, it said "the new government, though peppered with right-wing politicians, is led primarily by moderate, pro-European politicians." A few weeks after that, it described Bandera as no more than "controversial" and quoted a Kiev businessman as saying: "The Russians want to call him a fascist, but I feel he was a hero for our country. Putin is using him to try to divide us."
Thus, the Post and other corporate media continued to do its duty by attacking Putin for plainly saying "the forces backing Ukraine's government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis." But who was wrong ?
The New York Times was no better. It assailed Russia for hurling "harsh epithets" like "neo-Nazi," and blamed the Russian leader for "scaremongering" by attributing Yanukovych's ouster to "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites." The Guardian 's Luke Harding – a leading Putin basher – said of the far-right Svoboda Party:
"Over the past decade the party appears to have mellowed, eschewing xenophobia, academic commentators suggest. On Monday, the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, said he had been 'positively impressed' by Svoboda's evolution in opposition and by its behavior in the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. 'They have demonstrated their democratic bona fides,' the ambassador asserted."
This is the party whose founder, Oleh Tyahnybok, said in a 2004 speech that "a Moscow-Jewish mafia" was running the Ukraine and that Bandera's followers "fought against the Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other enemies who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state." Had the leopard really changed its spots, according to Pyatt? Or was it simply a matter of America not giving a damn as long as Svoboda joined the fight to encircle Russia and advance NATO's drive to the east?
As someone named Marx once observed , "Who you gonna believe, me or your own two eyes?" As far as Ukraine was concerned, the answer for the corporate press came from the U.S. State Department. If Foggy Bottom said that Ukrainian neo-Nazism was a figment of Russia's imagination, then that's what it was, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Someday, historians will look back on Euromaidan Ukraine as one of the looniest periods in western journalism – except, of course, for all the ones that have followed. But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post -owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014. Four years later, it stands as a model of how not to write about an all-important political crisis.
Tyahnybok: 'Moscow-Jewish mafia' is running Ukraine.
The piece begins with the usual hand-wringing about Svoboda and Right Sector and expresses remorse that the latter still venerates the "controversial" Bandera, whose followers "fought on the side of the Nazis from 1944 until the end of World War II." (Actually, they welcomed the Germans from the start and, despite rocky relations with the Slav-hating Nazis, continued to work with them throughout the occupation.)
But then it gets down to business by asserting that as bad as Ukrainian nationalists may be, Russia is doubly worse. "Despite the substantial presence of right wing nationalists on the Maidan during the revolution," it says, "many in Ukraine's Jewish community resent being used by Putin in his propaganda war." The proof is an open letter signed by 21 Ukrainian Jewish leaders asserting that the real danger was Moscow.
"We know that the political opposition consists of various groups, including some that are nationalistic," the letter declared. "But even the most marginal of them do not demonstrate anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia. And we certainly know that our very few nationalists are well-controlled by civil society and the new Ukrainian government – which is more than can be said for the Russian neo-Nazis, who are encouraged by your security services."
This was music to Washington's ears. But if neo-Nazis are free of "anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia," how does one explain the white-power symbols in the Kiev town hall? If nationalists were "very few" in number, why did journalists need to explain them away? If Russian security forces really encouraged neo-Nazis, where were the torchlight parades and portraits of Bandera-like collaborators hanging from public buildings in Moscow?
The article might have noted that Josef Zissels, the Jewish community leader who organized the letter, is a provocative figure who has long maintained close relations with Ukraine's far right. A self-styled Zhydobanderivets – a word that roughly translates as "Kike follower of Bandera" – he has since infuriated other Jewish leaders by criticizing California Congressman Ro Khanna for sending a letter to the State Department asking that pressure be brought on the governments of Poland and Ukraine to combat Holocaust revisionism in their countries.
Forty-one Jewish leaders were so angry, in fact, that they sent out a letter of their own thanking Khannna for his efforts, expressing "deep concern at the rise of anti-Semitic incidents and expressions of xenophobia and intolerance, including attacks on Roma communities," and "strongly proclaim[ing] that Mr. Iosif Zissels and the organization VAAD do not represent the Jews of Ukraine." A Jewish community leader in Russia was so outraged by the pro-Bandera apologetics of Zissels and a Ukrainian-Jewish oligarch named Igor Kolomoisky that he said he wanted to hang both men "in Dnepropetrovsk in front of the Golden Rose Synagogue until they stop breathing."
So Foreign Policy used a highly dubious source to whitewash Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi presence and absolve it of anti-Semitism. As crimes against the truth go, this is surely one of the worst. But now that the problem has gotten too big for even the corporate media to ignore, overnight muckrakers like Joshua Cohen are seeing to it that getting away with such offenses will no longer be so easy. Before his abrupt about-face, the author of that misleading Foreign Policy piece was Joshua Cohen.
Daniel Lazare is the author of The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique , and his articles about the Middle East, terrorism, Eastern Europe, and other topics appear regularly on such websites as Jacobin and The American Conservative .
If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.
mike k , July 6, 2018 at 4:49 pmSusan Sunflower , July 6, 2018 at 1:37 pm
The leaders of Israel who sell weapons to the Nazis in Ukraine, are no better than those Nazis.rosemerry , July 6, 2018 at 10:12 am
for those having Alice In Wonderland whiplash, yes the USA was funding the Ukranian neonazis Azov Brigade before Congress banned the funding in March 2018.
which of course does not mean that others are not funding them and/or funding or simply "arming" their friends and allies
same old "syrian playbook" wrt to enemy-of-my-memory bull .Francis Lee , July 6, 2018 at 7:53 am
The two-hour documentary "Putin" shows in an interview Pres. Putin explaining his government's cooperating with the Western- supported Ukrainian government for four years (because they were neighbors and had many links) which he considered normal behavior. However, once the 2014 election brought in a more "Moscow-friendly" team to govern Ukraine, the USA began its plans to overthrow it and we see all the consequences shown in this article.Paolo , July 6, 2018 at 7:11 am
Ukraine: Fascism's toe-hold in Europe.
The tacit support given by the centre-left to the installation of the regime in Kiev should give them cause for concern writes Frank.
Politics in the Ukraine can only be understood by reference to its history and ethnic and cultural make-up – a make-up criss-crossed by lasting and entrenched ethnic, cultural and political differences. The country has long been split into the northern and western Ukraine, where Ukrainian is the official and everyday lingua franca, and the more industrialised regions of the east and south where a mixture of Russian speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians reside. Additionally, there has long been Hungarian and Romanian settlement in the west of the country, and a particularly important Polish presence, whose unofficial capital, Lviv, was once the Polish city of Lwow. The Russian Orthodox Church is the predominant form of Christianity in the East, whilst in the west the Christian tradition tends towards Roman Catholicism.
Politically the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (Regions) which includes the cities and centres of heavy industry, Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhe, Nikolayev, Kherson, Simferopol and Odessa, have tended to tilt towards Russia whilst the western regions have had a more western orientation. This has traditionally been reflected in the electoral division of the country. There is no party which can be considered 'national' in this respect, except ironically, the old Communist party, which of course is now banned. The major regional parties have been the Fatherland party of Yulia Tymoshenko (since renamed) and the former head of government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk as well as the ultra-nationalists predominantly in the west of the country, and the deposed Victor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions in the East (now defunct) along with its junior partner in the coalition, the Ukrainian Communist Party.
However, what is new since the coup in February 2014 there has been the emergence from the shadows of ultra-nationalist (fascist) parties and movements, with both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary (i.e.,military) wings. In the main 'Svoboda' or Freedom Party, and the paramilitaries of 'Right Sector' (Fuhrer: Dimitry Yarosh) who spearheaded the coup in Kiev; these have been joined or changed their names to inter alia the Radical Party, and Patriots of the Ukraine; this in addition to the punitive right-wing militias, such as the Azov Regiment responsible for numerous atrocities in the Don Bas.
Suffice it to say, however, that these political movements and parties did not emerge from nowhere.
This far-right tradition has been historically very strong in the western Ukraine. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was first established in 1929 and brought together, war veterans, student fraternities, far-right groups and various other disoriented socially and political flotsam and jetsam under its banner. The OUN took its ideological position from the writings of one, Dymtro Dontsov, who, like Mussolini had been a socialist, and who was instrumental in creating an indigenous Ukrainian fascism based upon the usual mish-mash of writings and theories including Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Sorel, and Charles Maurras. Dontsov also translated the works of Hitler and Mussolini into Ukrainian.
The OUN was committed to ethnic purity, and relied on violence, assassination and terrorism, not least against other Ukrainians, to achieve its goal of a totalitarian and homogeneous nation-state. Assorted enemies and impediments to this goal were Communists, Russians, Poles, and of course – Jews. Strongly oriented toward the Axis powers OUN founder Evhen Konovalets (1891-1938) stated that his movement was ''waging war against mixed marriages'', with Poles, Russians and Jews, the latter which he described as ''foes of our national rebirth''. Indeed, rabid anti-Semitism has been a leitmotif in the history of Ukrainian fascism, which we will return to below.
Konovelts himself was assassinated by a KGB hit-man in 1938 after which the movement split into two wings: (OUN-m) under Andrii Melnyk and, more importantly for our purposes (OUN-b) under Stepan Bandera. Both wings committed to a new fascist Europe. Upon the German invasion in June 1941, the OUN-b attempted to establish a Ukrainian satellite state loyal to Nazi Germany. Stepan Lenkavs'kyi the then chief propagandist of the OUN-b 'government' advocated the physical destruction of Ukrainian Jewry. OUN-b's 'Prime Minister' Yaroslav Stets'ko, and deputy to Bandera supported, ''the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.''
During the early days of the rapid German advance into the Soviet Union there were some 140 pogroms in the western Ukraine claiming the lives of between 13000-35000 people (Untermensch, in fascist terminology). In 1943-1944 OUN-b and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainska povstanska armia – UPA) carried out large scale ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands; this was a particularly gruesome affair in Volhynia where some 90000 Poles and thousands of Jews were murdered. The campaign of the UPA continued well into the 1950s until it was virtually wiped out by the Soviet forces.
It should be said that during this early period Bandera himself had been incarcerated by the German authorities up until his release in 1944, since unlike Bandera they were not enamoured of an independent Ukrainian state but wanted total control. Bandera was only released at this late date since the German high command was endeavouring to build up a pro-German Ukrainian quisling military force to hold up the remorseless advance of the Red Army. Also pursuant to this it is also worth noting that during this period the 14th Galizian Waffen SS Division, a military Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler, was formed to fight the Soviet forces, and yet another being the Nachtingal brigade; (1) this unit was integrated into the 14th Galizian in due course. It is also interesting to note, that every year, and up to 2014 commemoration ceremony including veterans of this unit takes place with a march through Lviv in an evening torchlight parade – genuine Nazi pastiche. The flag of this unit is not dissimilar to the Peugeot logo, the standing lion, and can be seen at ultra-nationalist rallies as well as football matches involving Lviv Karparti FC. There are also numerous statues of Bandera across Ukraine, and since the 2014 coup even street names bearing the same name. Significantly the UPA have now received political rehabilitation from the Kiev Junta, with Bandera declared a hero of the Ukraine and the UPA rebranded as 'freedom fighters.' One particularly splendid statue of Bandera stands proudly in Lviv and is usually adorned with flowers.
Other novel attractions the capital of Banderestan include 'Jewish themed restaurants' one such is Kryivka (Hideout or Lurking Hole) where guests have a choice of dishes and whose dinning walls are decorated with larger than life portraits of Bandera, the toilet with Russian and Jewish anecdotes. At another Jewish themed restaurant guests are offered black hats of the sort worn by Hasidim. The menu lists no prices for the dishes; instead, one is required to haggle over highly inflated prices ''in the Jewish fashion''. Yes, it's all good clean fun in Lviv. Anti-Semitism also sells. Out of 19 book vendors on the streets of central Lviv, 16 were openly selling anti-Semitic literature. About 70% of the anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine are being published by and educational institution called MUAP (The Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management). MAUP is a large, well-connected and increasingly powerful organization funded from outside anti-Semite sources, and also connected to White Supremacist groups in the USA and to the David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
(It is one of the ironies of history that if the Zionists in AIPAC and the Washington neo-con think tanks, and the Labour Party Friends of Israel, were so concerned about anti-Semitism, they might try looking for it in Lviv. They wouldn't have to search very far.)
Present day neo-Nazi groupings in Ukraine – Svoboda (Freedom) party and Right Sector – have been the direct descendants from the prior ideological cesspool. Heading Svoboda is Oleh Tyahnybok. Although these are separate organizations Tyahnybok's deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda's official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector. The Social-Nationalist party as it was formerly known chose as its logo an amended version of the Wolfsangel, a symbol used by many SS divisions on the Eastern front during the war who in 2004 a celebration of the OUN-UPA, stated in 2004, that ''they fought against the Muscovite, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.'' And further that ''Ukraine was ruled by a Muscovite-Jewish mafia.'' Tyahnybok came under pressure from the then President, Yuschenko, to retract his inflammatory statements, which he did, but he then retracted the retraction!
Given the fact that Svoboda was, apart from its stamping grounds in the west, making little national electoral headway, it was essential to clean up its image and deny its Nazi past. But this was always going to be difficult since the members of such groups cannot help the unscripted outbursts and faux pas which they tend to make and which reveals their true colours. For example, following the conviction and sentencing of John Demjanjuk to five years in jail for his role as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp, Tyahnybok travelled to Germany and met up with Demjanjuk's lawyer, presenting the death camp guard as a hero, a victim of persecution ''who is fighting for truth''.
And so it goes on. We can therefore infer that this organization is inveterate fascist. More disturbing Svoboda has links with the so-called Alliance of National European Movements, which includes: Nationaldemokraterna of Sweden, Front Nationale of France, Fiamma Tricolore in Italy, the Hungarian Jobbik and the Belgian National Front. More importantly Svoboda held several ministerial portfolios in the Kiev administration, and Right Sector swaggers around Kiev streets with impunity, and/or are being drafted into a National Guard to deal with the separatist movements in the east, or to beat down anyone who doesn't conform to their Ayran racial and political ideals.
One would have thought that this mutating revolution in the Ukraine would have drawn attention of the centre-left to the fact that fascism had gained a vital beachhead in Europe, and that the danger signals should be flashing. But not a bit of it; a perusal of the Guardian newspaper quickly reveals that their chief concern has been with a non-existent 'Russian threat'. One of their reporters – or old friend, Luke Harding -described Right Sector as an ''eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.'' Priceless! This must rank as the political understatement of the century. In fact, the Guardian was simply reiterating the US-imposed neo-conservative foreign policy. But naturally, this is par for the course.
(1) The Nachtingal brigade, which was later incorporated into the SS Galizien, took part in a three-day massacre of the Jewish population of Lvov (now Lviv) from 30 June 1941. Roman Shukhevych was the commander of the Nachtingal and later, in 1943, became commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the "Banderivtsy", or UPA/UIA ), armed henchmen of the fascist Stepan Bandera, who after the war pretended that they had fought both Nazis and Communists. Members of the division are also accused of having murdered some 800 residents of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka and 44 civilians in the village of Ch?aniów.Garrett Connelly , July 6, 2018 at 9:52 am
Just for the record: the Ukrainians hailed the Nazis as liberators after the Soviets had let millions of Ukrainians die of hunger in the thirties, a sort of "genocide" that goes under the name of Holodomor and has officially been recognized by western Parlaments only a few decades ago. In eastern Ukraine there were no more inhabitants after the Holodomor, and the Russians imported hundreds of thousand peasants from Russia to get agriculture working again.
The problems of Ukraine are so deep that fomenting regime change there was a most idiotic thing to do. Sooner or later the problems will explode, and it will be tough shit. Whoever helped this regime change should be locked up in some high security jail as far as possible.vinnieoh , July 5, 2018 at 3:15 pm
The big lie is 180° opposite of reality repeated over and over using free corporate propaganda.robjira , July 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm
Still scratching my head at the electric last line of Mr. Lazare's piece. I'm mean, I'm used to "official" organs like WaPo and NYT publishing whatever narrative is most helpful to whatever pieces are being moved on the chessboard, but for the same "freelance journalist" to have written both the earlier Foreign Policy piece and the recent WaPo piece is a puzzle to me.
Does Joshua Cohen just write stuff that goes with the flow (at any particular moment) and has a good chance of being published (and consequently of himself being paid)?
Or did this person really have an epiphany, and the scales fell from his eyes? I suspect a third explanation though what that may be eludes me. One thing is for sure, as a Trump/Putin meeting gets closer, expect more false "official" narratives concerning both Ukraine and Syria.Seamus Padraig , July 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm
For anyone who hasn't watched this film yet.Anna , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm
'The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post-owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014.'
Here's the thing though: however weird it may sound, there actually DOES seem to exist some sort of tacit alliance between (some, not all) Jews and Ukrainian Nazis. Even if their ultimate goals are completely at odds–the Nazis hate the EU, but the Jews mostly want to join it–they nearly always seem to work together against Russia. It has even been maintained that the Azov Battalion (one of the all-volunteer Neo-Nazi militias fighting against the Donbass rebels) was entirely financed for a time by Jewish oligarch Ihor Kholomoisky, at least until he did something to piss Poroshenko off and got sacked from his post as governor of Dniepropetrovsk. And in the beginning, Jews who tried to point out that Neo-Nazi groups were involved in overthrowing Yanukovych, like Dr. Stephen Cohen, were roundly denounced a 'Russia apologists' just for stating facts.
But now that Washington's whole Ukraine project has gone south, I guess the Nazis, having outlived their usefulness, are, as usual, to be the fall-guys and take all the blame.Pft , July 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm
yeh, the Kaganat of Nuland has many veils.
The most stunning aspect of the banderite putsch in Kiev was the dead silence of nazi-hunters from Wiesenthal Center, the always oh-so-sensitive ADL, the main 52 (fifty-two!) American Jewish organizations, and the overall docility and compliance of the "righteous" Israel with the banderite-neo-Nazi ideology by Kagans-selected power structures in Ukraine.
Mr. Kolomojsky, a financier of neo-nazi battalion Azov, is still an Israeli citizen.
Mrs. Nuland-Kagan, the main machinator of the regime change in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large.
The deeply amoral and bloodthirsty Carl Gerschman from NED, who has been the main cheerleader for the putsch and for the installing the banderite-friendly government in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large either. What a stench!
https://medium.com/@gmochannel/us-staged-a-coup-in-ukraine-brief-history-and-facts-898c6d0007d6Robert , July 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm
Yeah. The prime minister and many of the top oligarchs are Jewish. Relations between Ukraine and Israel seem quite good despite the UNSC vote that the US abstained on regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, perhaps reminded by Stalin doing the same to them in the 1920's.
As for relations with the neo nazis I remember before WWII that Zionists in Palestine cooperated with Nazis who sent German Jews to Palestine in return for the purchase of German goods which were being boycotted by Jews in the west
I suspect most Americans don't know Ukrainian history. The early years of Bolshevik rule were quite brutal and over 10 million rural Christians lost their lives in Ukraine over their policies .Solzhenitsyn 200 years can shed some light on the roots of the anti-Semitism among the peasants that developed in the 20's-30's and no doubt has been passed on.mike , July 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm
I've thought about this myself and have concluded that a fair number of Jewish organizations and institutions in the Ukraine were receiving a small portion of the US State Department funding allocated to the Ukraine each year of $200-250 million, totaling $5 billion since 1992. In return for this rather small (by US standards) outlay to a broad spectrum of NGOs, private educational and religious institutions, and political groups, the US purchased an enormous amount of influence. Most of the members of these groups were unaware of this US support, as the funds were funneled through individual leaders who were tasked to influence opinion, organize demonstrations and petitions, and write letters to the press and government members. Scholarships to the US and Canada were offered to promising youth to ensure continuity of support. For this reason, most Jewish and other groups operating in Ukraine have, until recently and only with reluctance, been willing to deviate from the official US "story". Thus, they knowingly (at least as far as their leadership was concerned) supported an overtly US-led neo-Nazi coup.Tom Hall , July 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm
Makes sense that Josh Cohen is a former U.S. Agency for International Development project officer involved in managing economic reform projects in the former Soviet Union. Isn't that really what this is all about? Putin gets elected and takes charge of the economy, jailing corrupt oligarchs and putting the kibosh on said reform projects sponsored by us in care of Jeffrey Sachs et al. As Russia tries to reassert its sovereignty the US gets miffed and retaliates.
It's a lot of fun until someone loses an eye.Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm
The Electronic Intifada has just posted an article by Asa Winstanley detailing how Israel, among others, has been supplying the Ukrainian Azov Battalion with military arms. It's well worth reading.
The next time you hear a pro-Israel mouthpiece sounding off about purported antisemitism in the British Labour Party, or in pro-Palestinine activist circles in the U.S., invite them to consider Israel's policy -- and that of the U.S. as well as friendly European states -- of direct military sponsorship of textbook Nazism in Ukraine. Jews are being menaced and beaten in the streets of Kiev by armed bands who celebrate their historical persecution, while thugs like Avigdor Lieberman sit cordially with officials representing that regime. But then, such warm relations between Zionists and anti-Semites is an old story.Gary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Interesting. Anyone with two brains to rub together knows that the US, to the best of it's ability, has been surrounding Russia with compliant right wing governments, usually dictators, but we've gotten better at manipulating elections to get reliable puppet government. The bad news is that it is a full time job to stay on top of that.irina , July 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm
It used to be that the only things one could depend on were "death & taxes." Now of course we must add to that list the very dependable presence of CIA / State Dept lies parroted by MSM all over the West. Lies which are endlessly repeated in defiance of all physical reality and often in direct opposition to actual events in the actual world we live in. From the Ukraine coup, to Russia-gate, to the "Assad's gassing his own people" regime change propaganda, to the totally surreal Alice in Wonderland Skripnal poisoning nonsense in the U.K, the Western MSM have been as dependable as the rising sun. They can and do provide fact-free, evidence-free reporting directly from the bowels of the deep state in support of the neocolonial West, including unending support for the never ending resort to mass violence the West relies upon to keep the rest of the planet subjugated – just as it has for the last 500+ years.Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:43 pm
It's not just the media. The late night talk show hosts are doing their bit too, as I heard last night on a Jimmy Kimmel rerun (of a recent show). Can't remember the context as I was doing the dishes, but did hear him say the usual "Russian illegally annexed Crimea" standard phrase, immediately followed by "and then invaded Ukraine". The latter just casually tossed off as a given. People hear these memes constantly repeated and, regardless of their veracity (suspect to say the least) it becomes part of their worldview.
Who is behind the political preaching of hosts like Jimmy Kimmel ? Inquiring minds want to know !Devil's Advocate , July 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm
You know what irina, seeing these late night talk shows go all crazy over Putin makes me think of the Zio-Media executives, and where their allegiance to power resides. JoeGary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm
I would assume you'd have to look at who owns the media source in question. Kimmel's show is on ABC, which is partly owned by Disney. Follow the money chain of those 2 parent companies, and you have your answer.Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm
irina – I quite agree. The same is true of the former Daily Show crew members who now have their own shows. Several have shown themselves to be quite the little imperialist war mongers when it comes to gleefully repeating the CIA sponsored Syrian regime change and Russiagate propaganda. Samantha Bee & John Oliver kept triggering my gag reflex with their propaganda lines until I found a simple but effective solution and stopped watching them altogether. We have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the U.S. One can chose to either get one's "pro-war regime change propaganda" delivered with barely concealed racism and misogyny from Fox News, or instead opt for hearing the same nonsense delivered with pretentious blather and catchy jazz interludes at PBS. American democracy is all about having "choices."irina , July 6, 2018 at 2:55 am
I quite agree. I knew the minute that they started calling RT a propaganda outlet that, in fact, the USG was running a full scale propaganda operation. I don't know if I simply wasn't paying enough attention or if they have, in fact ramped the operation up, but I can hardly read any MSM outlet's output without calling bullshit on it.Peter H , July 6, 2018 at 10:41 am
Jimmy Kimmel actually used to be funny and there is a really good clip (somewhere on youtube no doubt) of him reading a 'doctored' Dr. Seuss
book to The Donald (a live guest) during his primary candidacy.
But since The Donald's election Kimmel has opened almost every show with 'ten minutes hate' segment on The Donald. I still watch (or at least listen) occasionally because I want to know what is being fed to The Public.
You are absolutely right though, "we have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the US". The average person maybe has 30 minutes to devote to the news, between getting home and having dinner; they watch some sort of news show and think they are 'informed'. But it actually takes MANY hours and a knowledge of alternative websites to even begin to piece together an approximation of what might, in reality, be going on.
The Russians used to say that, at least they knew they were being propagandized.
Unfortunately, probably due to 'American Exceptionalism', most Americans think the MSM is bringing them 'the truth'. But nothing could be further from The Truth.Drew Hunkins , July 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm
I can't count the number of times I've had to turn off Colbert's Late Show for his Russian/Putin bashing BS. So disappointing. That's a rule in my house now. The first mention of Russia and off it goes.Bob Van Noy , July 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Likewise, the corporate militarist-Zio media should eventually have to concede someday that the current Syrian "rebels" are little more than ruthless sociopathic Saudi-Zio-Washington intel agency supported mercenary terrorists.
Folks in the know knew very early on that much of the Kiev putschists and violent invaders of Eastern Ukraine were neo-Nazi types bent on eradicating the last vestiges of Russian social and ethnic solidarity.
It's really truly remarkable when one steps back to think about it all. These are the depraved groups the crypto-fascists, the Wall Street militarist imperialists, and Zionists have embedded themselves with: bloodthirsty Takfiri mercenary terrorists and neo-Nazis.Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm
Each time I see an article like this I'm reminded of the videos of Zbigniew Brzezinski's early meetings with the Mujahideen and his manipulation of cultures on The Grand Chessboard or "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" a totally absurd assumption and the natural outcome of that absurdity, is blowback which this article again addresses. Our "boots on the ground" end up paying the price of this kind of supposed intellectualism. Shameful. Thank you Drew Hunkins.MBeaver , July 6, 2018 at 5:03 am
Bob the old saying if I got right is the company you keep is what you become. We have truly loss our way, and Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the biggest reasons we have become the predators of this dying green earth. All this for the profit, as all mankind must yield to the power of the dollar. Sad. JoeJWalters , July 5, 2018 at 7:16 pm
One would think we had learned from Vietnam. Instead the "peace loving" liberals do everything to destabilize whole region for nothing and then send soldiers in who die for their messed up agenda.
It is truly remarkable. A lot of the behind-the-scenes magic is explained in "War Profiteers and Israel's Bank" http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com
Jun 27, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press
The second neoliberalization of Argentina turned into second financial crash. Brazil is probably next. And Argentina and Brazil were two contires in which neoliberal staged a counterrevolution after financial crisi of 2008.The IMF is back in Argentina: "an economic and social crisis, even more serious than the present one, looms large on the horizon"
1. The vicious circle of illegitimate debt grapples the Argentine people once again
2. IMF's $ 50 billion loan surpasses Greece's previous record
Sergio Ferrari from Berne, Switzerland interviewed Eric Toussaint, international debt specialist
After more than a decade of Argentina's official "distance" from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mauricio Macri's government has just knocked on the doors of the world's financial police. The $ 50 billion credit granted by the organization during the first week of June sets an international record and will directly impact the economic and social situation of this South American country. Eric Toussaint, Belgian historian and economist, an eminent specialist in this field and spokesperson for the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM), based in Brussels, pointed this out. Interview follows. Q: Why did the Argentine government turn to the IMF , in full view of Argentina's relations with this international organization in the late 1990s and their dire political consequences? Is the financial top brass of the Macri team despairing?
Eric Toussaint (ET): Since the Mauricio Macri government assumed office in December 2015, its policies have led to a critical situation. Sharp reduction in export taxes have brought down tax revenues, the debt servicing expenditure has been significantly increased (100% higher in 2018 than in 2017). The country is running out of dollars. Currency reserves fell by $ 8 billion earlier this year. Macri needs this IMF loan to continue debt servicing. Private international lenders require such a loan as a prerequisite for continued credit to Argentina. A very large chunk of the IMF loan will be used directly to repay foreign creditors in dollars.
Read also: What Kissinger did in Chile, Cyprus, Turkey, the Middle East and ... his own country
Q: If we look at the Argentine history of the 1990s, this seems to be a scheme of playing with fire
ET: Yes, of course. But I would like to further explore the background of this appeal to the IMF
Q- Please go ahead!
ET: This shows that the government's policy is an abject failure: with a peso that devalued fast; with the interest rate set at a high 40% by the Argentine Republic's Central Bank ; with the $ 8 billion reduction in international reserves that keep declining. And with a debt service that has increased by 100% compared to 2017. Faced with a balance sheet of such a nature, undoubtedly it is a total failure. Macri claimed that a high growth level and a viable debt would be ensured by paying the debt – between end-2015 and early-2016 – and by compensating the vulture funds , in keeping with Judge Thomas Griesa's verdict. He knelt before the vulture funds (see: http://www.cadtm.org/Reject-the-Imminent-Agreement-with ). But the facts confirm that this plan did not work. Debt rose at a whirling pace and it's startling to see how fast it snowballed. As a result, it became impossible to convince the creditors that Argentina could repay its debt in the future. That's why Macri is asking for this $ 50 billion credit. We must remember that when Greece received $ 30 billion from the IMF in 2010 in the backdrop of a dramatic situation, it was a record amount!
Q: Some analysts say that President Macri is trying to breathe in some fresh air with the help of this loan, before commanding a comfortable position in the October 2019 elections.
ET: I would not like to engage in farfetched political speculations. I prefer facts. I have read the contents of the agreement signed with the IMF and it has imposed a severe reduction in general social benefits and wages of the public servants. Public investment will be almost wiped out and it will lead to an economic depression. Debt repayment will increase and the IMF charges high interest rates . The government will impose taxes with elevated rates on the public to repay the debt, while continuing to hand out fiscal perks to the capitalists. The government will encourage the export of the maximum number of agricultural products and raw materials to the global market by reinforcing the extractivist-exporting model. IMF's policy will lead the country to an economic and social crisis even more serious than what it suffered before this loan was sanctioned. Let's go back to your question. It is very likely that, politically, Macri will claim that what he is doing is not his project, but what the IMF demands from him.Read also: USA - In praise of Riotous Assembly
Q: This brings us back to a not-so-distant past and I would like to highlight that: the decade of indebtedness and the IMF's role in the 1990s that eventually led to the social outburst of 2001. Can history repeat itself without tragedy?
ET: History is repeating itself in a country that is a serial debt payer. It started with the illegitimate and odious debt inherited from the military dictatorship of the 1970s. IMF's support was crucial for this dictatorship to continue until the early 1980s. The vicious circle of illegitimate debts persisted during the 1990s with President Carlos Menem followed by Fernando De la Rúa. Their allegiance to the IMF's recommendations led to the great social crisis of late 2001. President Rodríguez Saá, in his few days or Presidency at end-2001, announced the suspension of debt repayment to allay popular anger. The debt was restructured in 2005, then re-negotiated with creditors who had not participated before. It caused a crisis in the government and evoked sharp criticism from the people (see the section on Argentina here http://www.cadtm.org/Restructuration-Audit-Suspension,11723 ). Former minister Roberto Lavagna, who had negotiated the 2005 restructuring, objected to negotiations with outsider creditors. The Argentine authorities never wanted to do what Ecuador did in 2007-2008: to carry out a debt audit with citizens' participation, which could have defined the odious and illegitimate part of the debt (see: http://www.cadtm.org/Video-The-Ecuador-debt-audit-a and http://www.cadtm.org/Vulture-funds-are-the-vanguard ). This, along with the inconsistency of the Cristina Fernandez government's national sovereignty discourse, frustrated people. This partly explains Macri's electoral victory in 2015.
Q: A course over several decades where illegitimate debts condition government policies without ever finding structural solutionsRead also: Two-Thirds of Human Rights Defenders Killed in 2017 Were From Latin America
ET: Yes. And that led today to this new mega-loan from the IMF. From now on, it can be included in the category of odious and illegitimate debts. An odious debt is a debt contracted against the people's interests, and the creditors know that it is illegitimate. Evidently a new illegitimate and odious debt is taking shape.
Q: What about future prospects?
ET: I have already spoken about the deteriorating economic and social crisis. I hope for a strong popular reaction in the coming months. I also hope that the popular forces will not take too long to consolidate their strength to oppose even more vigorously the Macri government and the pressures of the IMF and other international creditors.
Translated by Suchandra De Sarkar
Jul 05, 2018 | www.snafu-solomon.comThundarr the Barbarian • 15 minutes ago
If the Obama administration ordered Ukraine not to fight for Crimea on the assumption they could force Russia to give it back via sanctions, they miscalculated badly.
The Russians believe Crimea rightfully belongs to them and they saw control of it as vital to their national security. There were some serious shenanigans going on in Kiev, which the Russians interpreted as an American engineered coup. The Russians reacted to what they believed was a major threat to their national security. The fact that the US leadership didn't even stop to consider how the Russians might react shows just how arrogant, hubristic and incompetent Obama and his national security team really were.
There is no way the Russians will ever give up Crimea, especially under pressure from the US, NATO and the EU. No Russian politician could do that and hope to survive. Besides, the Russians have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to endure suffering and hardships much greater than the capacity of Western nations to endure and the sanctions showed that Russia was far less vulnerable to pressure than Western politicians assumed.
Beyond that, the Ukrainians had no realistic option to defend Crimea. Their military was in extremely poor shape by the time 2014 rolled around thanks to more than two decades of neglect, monumental corruption and even more monumental incompetence by Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, while the Russians had well prepared contingency plans and had already begun far reaching military reforms as a result of their experiences in Chechnya and Georgia. SurfaceBook • 4 hours ago I disagree with mr kerber's assesment on Crimean ops being the largest air assault in history. Operation Market Garden in WW2 was the largest Air assault involving divisions of paratroopers from US/UK/Poland into german occupied drop zones (in conjuction with a land assault forcing it's way to Arnhem).
One other curiousity , Washington 'ordered' Ukraine ? a sovereign nation under orders ? just who is in charge of ukraine at that time ? see more
Thundarr the Barbarian SurfaceBook • 2 hours ago
To answer your question: Victoria Nuland, who was the Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs during the Obama administration. In other words, she was the American proconsul for Eastern Europe.
ignatzthecat • 6 hours ago
Bottom line? "The Fog of War".........All these scenarios mean nothing after the first "shot" is fired. If any US "enemy" cannot crush US air power they are finished from the gitgo. Not a fan of our foreign policies but we can "crush" the enemy; we just can't "rule" them.
Distiller • 9 hours ago
Would really like to hear the other side. Where does he get his information from? The Ukrainians? All this Russia-is-evil-and-scheming-to-do-more-evil is ... slightly over the top. I don't say it's impossible that Russian regular troops have been involved in Donbas but he makes it sound like Unternehmen Zitadelle
BSmitty • 13 hours ago
IMHO, beware taking too many lessons away from this conflict. The Ukranian's don't have anything close to the SEAD/DEAD/EW/airpower capability of the US. What worked against their aviation won't necessarily work against ours. Once mid-high altitude air defenses are down, enemy jammers will have a short lifespan.
His comments that even light infantry should have the means to get away when under attack, and sufficient armor to counter attack point to the inadequacies of Army IBCTs (Infantry, not "Interim").
IMHO, IBCTs should have 100% vehicular mobility, and have the option of attaching an independent tank battalion. Cobbling together random HMMWVs from div/corps just seems silly. Make vehicles part of the core TOE. see more
DOnT4 BSmitty • 6 hours ago
You are assuming that we are working within our own timeline. Yes with enough time and blood, we can peal back their defense network with airpower. The question is, who buys us that time?
Russians (and the Chinese) ground forces trained to fight in contested airspace. The US Army assumes we have it.
utahbob62 • 14 hours ago
Sol, Thanks for posting the link and asking for discussion. One thing that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up is how much of this is being shared with the PLA and worse the DPRK? They are pretty smart and probility can figure lots of this out on their own. Is there any PLA observers up front with the RuFA or exchanging TTPs in an AAR? Or professional papers and presentations at staff school level or higher? I am just a grunt and red leg, but how does the EW and fires part impact the navy? A step is being taken: http://soldiersystems.net/2... I wonder when this is part of OPFOR at NTC or 29 Palms? see more
Solomon Mod utahbob62 • 14 hours ago
NO! thank you for sharing !!!!! this is like getting a seat at the Army War College and getting to hear what is never shared with the troops or the public.
to be honest what i heard in that video was downright shocking. i won't say scary cause i won't be facing that shit but if i was i'd be beyond concerned.
to answer your question you can bet your last dollar that the Chinese are getting briefings on this. you can bet that they're not only studying the above vid but getting info from the subject matter experts in Russia.
this guy is senior but i would so love to hear an assessment of Marine Corps chances if war were to break out in Norway or surrounding countries (we still have the flank). how would a Marine Expeditionary Brigade standup to those type tactics. we're talking about a lighter formation than the US Army equivalent but with integrated air.
oh and a side note. as much as i think the US Army and Marine Corps would be in a hurtlocker can you imagine what would happen to any of our European allies if they were somehow isolated and attacked?
my only regret about this whole thing is that i wanted to sit back and drink in serious conversation about this video. instead i'm getting the usual trolling. i can tolerate that on the majority of subjects i cover here but this one is different. i wanted to hear from serious individuals doing serious thinking about what the Dr presented.
such is life. if you run across anything else PLEASE send it. i find this fascinating!
Deckard Rick • 15 hours ago T
he slide at 12.44 is also interesting it shows Russia's "desire" for "friendly relations" with the west and its neighbours. But i guess like in the cold war there is no shortage of naives that think that Russia understands anything else but sanctions or force. see more
spinfight Deckard Rick • 13 hours ago
Very true but defenses still have to be credible. It's pretty clear that a European military would get squashed like a bug.
Remington Steele • 16 hours ago
Caveat emptor. Karber is a flamboyant blowhard. This is not to dismiss Russia's invasion or or act of war in Ukraine but merely to state that this guy is essentially a Tom Clancy cut out. I like a lot of his slides (I wonder who made them?) and his valuable tactical observations (even if it does sound, at times, like a shopping list for Ukrainian military aid) but he is no SME. https://foreignpolicy.com/2...
Deckard Rick • 16 hours agospinfight Nuno Gomes 16 hours ago
My conclusions -- Western/ US allies/Nato armies will need to have:
- integrated air defence at every level from platoon to regimental.(manpads, spaag,
- mass fire/steel rain capabilities cheap and heavy MLRS also MLRS launched antiradiation missiles)
the israelis launched AGM Shrikes with boosters from trucks to target Syrian Radars
- Field Army EW sigint/elint/jamming/defense capabilities
- EW munitions (currently russia has tube artillery launched jammers don't know about the US or NATO)
- Small and light SPGs like the GvozdikaWhilst I agree Russia does tend to export it's kit extensively. Also some of the potential uses such as GPS jamming drones, could be more than merely inconvenient on very small budgets.
Jul 05, 2018 | eand.co
A (successful) American politician who cries: "God is a white supremacist!" Neo-nazis in the Bundestag . The extreme right rising in Italy . Poland's authoritarians purging its Supreme Court .
How did we get here? To a world where the forces of intolerance and indecency are on the rise, and those of decency, wisdom, and civilization are waning? Is something like a new Dark Age falling?
I think it has everything to do with predatory capitalism, and so I want to tell you a story. Of how it came to be born, in four steps, which span three decades.
During the 2000s, the economy of the rich world underwent something like a phase transition. It became "financialized", as the jargon goes -- which simply means that finance came to make up a greater and greater share of the economy. Hedge funds and investment banks and shady financial vehicles of all kinds went from a modest portion of the economy, to making up a huge chunk of it -- around half, in some countries.
Now, what was "financialization" for? What were all these bankers, hedge fund managers, investors, and so on, doing? The answer is: nothing. Nothing of value, anyways. They were simply placing bets with each other. Bets on bets on bets, meta-bets. Economists, who have something like an inferiority complex, envious of swashbuckling bankers, bought their marketing pitch hog, line, and sinker: "we're going to reduce risk! Everyone will benefit!" But no such thing was happening -- and anyone could see it. Risk was being massively amplified, in fact, because every time a speculator made a billion dollar bet with another, they were both betting with the same pool of money, essentially. Whose money? It wasn't theirs -- it was everyone's. Pensions, savings, bank accounts, earnings, retirement funds. All that being bet on bets on bets on bets which amounted to nothing. But what if all the bets went south at once?
First, I want you to really understand that what was happening was a zero-sum game, where one had to lose for another to win. Imagine there are three of us, in a little stone age tribe, with a hundred pebbles each. We spend all day every day finding new ways to lend pebbles to each other, to bet them on who'll blink first, or even bets on those bets, and so on. In our little economy, does anyone ever end up better off? Does anyone, for example, discover antibiotics, or even invent the wheel? Nope. We're just fools, who'll never accomplish, learn, or create anything, sitting around playing a zero-sum game, in which no real value is ever created. The pebbles never become anything more valuable, like, for example, books, symphonies, knowledge, or medicine. All that is exactly what was happening during the phase of financialization.
But financialization didn't just have a direct cost -- no value being created, just men in shiny suits betting pebbles on who'd blink first. It also had an opportunity cost. As finance grew to be a larger and larger share of the economy, so the wind got sucked out of the sails of the "real economy", as American economists put it, which simply means people doing the work that actually does create value -- teachers, nurses, engineers, artisans, bakers, small-town factories, and so on. Think about it simply: the more money that was burned up in speculating, the less that was available for making things of genuine value. So the incomes of all these people -- those in the "real economy" -- began to stagnate. New schools and hospitals and energy grids and so on weren't built -- all the money was going towards speculating on the backs the old ones, sometimes, often, on their failures. A black hole was growing at the heart of the economy -- but according to pundits, it was the sun itself. Everything was upside down. The bets were indeed about to all go south at once -- only no one knew understood how or why yet.
How was the real economy to survive, then? Another hidden effect of financialization was super-concentration -- the second force in the rise of predatory capitalism. Mom-and-pop capitalism is a healthy and beautiful thing, an economy of a million little shops, bakeries, artisans -- but it takes only a modest attachment to a profit motive. But thanks to the rise of massive, global speculation, only aggressive quarterly profit-maximization was allowed. CEO earnings were hitched to share prices, and your share price only went up if your earnings did, relentlessly, illogicaly, crazily, every single quarter, instead of stabilizing at a happy, gentle amount -- and so the only way left, in the end, to achieve it, was to build titanic monopolies, which could squeeze people for every dime. Once the economy had Macy's, JC Penney, K-Mart, Toys-R-Us and Sears. Now it has Walmart. The story was repeated across every single industry. Amazon, Google, Apple. A new age of monopoly arose.
But monopolies had an effect, too. The third force in the rise of predatory capitalism was the implosion of the institution formerly known as the job. Now, just before peak financialization, beginning in the 1990s, many jobs were "offshored." That's a polite way to say that the speculators above discovered that companies were more profitable when they evaded as much of human civilization as possible. Find a country with no labour laws, no protections, no standards, no rule of law at all, in fact -- and send jobs there. That way, you wouldn't have to pay for pensions, healthcare, childcare, insurance, and so on. Cost savings! Efficiency! Synergies, even -- you could make everything in that one sweatshop.
We're used to thinking that offshoring "took" jobs in rich countries. But the truth is subtler -- and more ruinous. They blew apart the idea of a job as we used to know it. As jobs went to countries without good governance, decent labour laws, a boomerang effect happened. The machine discovered that it could do in rich countries what it had done in poor ones -- and so it began stripping away everything that made a job "a job." Because the economy was increasingly composed of monopolies, giant companies, banks, and investors had the power to do so with impunity. Speculators began raiding pension funds. Managers began stripping away benefits of every kind, from childcare, to vacations, to healthcare. Until, at last, in a final triumph, the "at-will job" and the "zero-hours contract" were created -- social contracts that were only "jobs" in name, but offered less than no stability, security, mobility, or opportunity. People who didn't have benefits could now be fired on a whim -- and so now they bore all the risk. But the risk of what, precisely?
Remember those speculators? Taking huge risks, betting billions with each other, on exactly nothing of real value? Risk had come full circle. Now it was the average person in the real economy who bore all the risks of these bets going bad. If the bets with south, who'd take the hit? All those people with zero benefits, no protection, no safety, all those people for whom "a job" now meant something more like "a temporary soul-crushing way to avoid destitution." They're the ones who'd be fired, instantly, lose what little savings they had, have their already dwindling incomes slashed, be ruined.
And then the bets went bad. As bets tend to do, when you make too many of them, on foolish things. What had the speculators been betting with each other on? As it turns out, largely on property prices. But people without the stable jobs that had kept such a huge property bubble going didn't have growing incomes anymore. Property prices couldn't keep rising. Bang! The financial system fell like a row of dominoes. It turned out that everyone had bet property prices would go on rising -- and on the other side of that bet was everyone else. All of them had been betting on the same thing -- "we all bet prices will keep rising forever!" The losses were so vast, and so widespread, that the whole global financial system buckled. The banks didn't have the money to pay each other for these foolish bets -- how could they have? Each one had bet the whole house on the same thing, and they all would have gone bankrupt to each other. LOL -- do you see the fatal stupidity of it all yet?
So in had to step governments. They bailed out the banks -- but didn't "restructure" them, which is to say, fire their managers, wash out their shareholders, and sell off the bad loans and bets. They just threw money at them -- and took those bad bets onto the nation's books, instead. It was the most foolish decision since the Great Depression. Why?
Well, now governments had trillions in -- pow! -- sudden debt. What were they to do? How would they pay it off? Now, you might think that Presidents are very intelligent people, but unfortunately, they are just politicians. And so instead of doing what they should have done -- printing money, simply cancelling each others' debts to each other, which were for fictional speculation anyways -- they decided that they were "broke". Bankrupt, even -- even though a country can't go bankrupt, anymore than you could if you could print your own currency at home, and spend it everywhere.
What does a bankrupt have to do? Liquidate. So governments began to slash investment in social systems of all kinds. Healthcare systems, pension systems, insurance systems, media and energy systems. This was the fourth step in the birth of predatory capitalism: austerity.
But people's incomes were already dwindling, thanks to the first three steps -- as jobs not just disappeared in quantity, but also imploded in quality, as monopolies grew in power, and as pointless, destructive, zero-sum speculation sucked the life out of the real economy. The only thing keeping the real economy going at this point was investment by the government -- after all, the speculators were speculating, not investing for the long run. It was governments that were effectively keeping economies afloat, by providing a floor for income, by anchoring economies with a vast pool of stable, safe, real, secure jobs, and investing dollars back in societies short of them. And yet, at the precise moment that governments needed to create more of precisely that, they did just the opposite.
Snap! Economies broke like twigs. The people formerly known as the middle class had been caught in between the pincers of these four forces -- financialization, monopoly, the implosion of the job, and austerity. Together, they shattered what was left of rich economies -- to the point that today, incomes are stagnant across the rich world, even in much vaunted Scandinavia, while living standards are falling in many rich countries, like the US and UK.
What do people do as hardship begins to bite -- especially those who expected comfortable, easy lives? They become reactionary, lashing out violently. They seek safety in the arms of demagogues. That doesn't mean, as American pundits naively think, that "poor people become authoritarians!" Quite the opposite.
It's the once prosperous but now imploded middle which turns on the classes, ethnicities, groups, below it. The people who expected and felt entitled to lives of safety and security and stability -- who anticipated being at the top of a tidy little hierarchy, the boss of this or that, the chieftain of that or this, but now find themselves adrift and unmoored in a collapsing society, powerless.
That gap between expectation and reality is what ruinous. They retain a desperate need to be atop a hierarchy, to be above someone, the entitled imploded middles -- and what has happened in history, time and again, is that they turn to those who promise them just that superiority, by turning on those below them. Even if, especially if, it is in the extreme, irrational, yet perfectly logical form of supremacy and dominion over the weak, the despised, and the impure.
And that is what all today's reactionary, extremist movements -- which I call the Faction -- really are. Predatory capitalism imploding into strange, new forms of old diseases of the body politic -- ultrauthoritarianism, theosupremacism, kleptofascism, neofeudalism, biodominionism, hatriarchy, technotalitarianism, novel and lethal forms of ruin for a new dark age.
And so here we are, you and I. On the cusp of that age. A time where the shadows in human hearts shine as black and blinding as midnight. And once again, it is the folly and hubris of wise men that led us here.
Jul 04, 2018 | www.henryckliu.com
Pathology of DebtBy
Henry C.K. Liu
Part I: Commercial Paper Market Seizure turns Banks into their own Vulture Investors
This article appeared in AToL on November 27, 2007
Vulture restructuring is a purging cure for a malignant debt cancer. The reckoning of systemic debt presents regulators with a choice of facing the cancer frontally and honestly by excising the invasive malignancy immediately or let it metastasize over the entire financial system over the painful course of several quarters or even years and decades by feeding it with more dilapidating debt.
But the strategy of being your own vulture started with Goldman Sachs, the star Wall Street firm known for its prowess in alternative asset management, producing spectacular profits by manipulating debt coming and going amid unfathomable market anomalies and contradictions during years of liquidity boom. The alternative asset management industry deals with active, dynamic investments in derivative asset classes other than standard equity or fixed income products. Alternative investments can include hedge funds, private equity, special purpose vehicles, managed futures, currency arbitrage and other structured finance products. Counterbalancing opposite risks in mutually canceling paired speculative positions to achieve gains from neutralized risk exposure is the basic logic for hedged fund investments.
The wide spread in return on investment between hedge funds and mutual funds is primarily due to differences in trading strategies. One fundamental difference is that hedge funds deploy dynamic trading strategies to profit from arbitraging price anomalies caused by market inefficiencies independent of market movements whereas mutual funds employ a static buy-and-hold strategy to profit from economic growth. An important operational difference is the use of leverage. Hedge funds typically leverage their informed stakes by margining their positions and hedging their risk exposure through the use of short sales, or counter-positions in convergence or divergent pairs. In contrast, the use of leverage is often limited if not entirely restricted for mutual funds.
The classic model of hedge funds developed by Alfred Winslow Jones (1910-1989) takes long and short positions in equities simultaneously to limit exposures to volatility in the stock market. Jones, Australian-born, Harvard and Columbia educated sociologist turned financial journalist, came upon a key insight that one could combine two opposing investment positions: buying stocks and selling short paired stocks, each position by itself being risky and speculative, but when properly combined would result in a conservative portfolio that could yield market-neutral outsized gains with leverage. The realization that one could couple opposing speculative plays to achieve conservative ends was the most important step in the development of hedged funds.
The Credit Guns of August
Yet the credit guns of August 2007 did not spare Goldman's high-flying hedge funds. Goldman, the biggest
investment bank by market value, saw its Global Equity Opportunities Fund suffer a 28% decline with assets dropping by $1.4 billion to $3.6 billion in the first week of August as the fund's computerized quantitative investment strategies fumbled over sudden sharp declines in stock prices worldwide. US
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, a measure of large-capitalization stocks, fell 44.4 points or 2.96% on August 9. On August 14, the S&P 500 fell another 26.38 points or 1.83%, followed by another fall of 19.84 points to 1,370.50 or 1.39% on August 15, totaling 9.4% from its record high reached on July 19, but still substantially higher than its low of 801 reached on
March 11, 2003.
Goldman explained the setback in Global Equity Opportunities in a statement: "Across most sectors, there has been an increase in overlapping trades, a surge in volatility and an increase in correlations. These factors have combined to challenge many of the trading algorithms used in quantitative strategies. We believe the current values that the market is assigning to the assets underlying various funds represent a discount that is not supported by the fundamentals." The statement is a conceptual stretch of the meaning of "fundamentals" which Goldman defines as value marked to model based on a liquidity boom rather than marked to market, even as the model has been rendered dysfunctional by the reality of a liquidity bust.
The market value in mid August of two other Goldman funds: Global Alpha and North American Equity Opportunities also suffered big losses. Global Alpha fell 27% in the year-to-date period, with half of the decline occurring in the first week of August. North American Equity Opportunities, which started the year with about $767 million in assets, was down more than 15% through July 27. The losses had been magnified by high leverage employed by the funds' trading strategies. Goldman said both risk-taking and leverage in these two funds had since been reduced by 75% to cut future losses. Similarly, leverage employed by Global Equity Opportunities had been reduced to 3.5 times equity from 6 times. The three funds together normally managed about $10 billion of assets.
Feeding on One's Own Death Flesh
Facing pending losses, Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein was reported to have posed a question to his distraught fund managers: if a similar distress opportunity such as Goldman's own Global Equity Opportunities presented itself in the open market outside of Goldman, would Goldman invest in it as a vulture deal. The answer was a resounding yes. Thus the strategy of feeding on one's own dead flesh to survive, if not to profit, took form.
Goldman would moderate its pending losses by profiting as vulture investor in its own distressed funds. The loss from one pocket would flow into another pocket as gains that, with a bit of luck, could produce spectacular net profit in the long run if the abnormally high valuations could be manipulated to hold, or the staying power from new capital injection could allow the fund to ride out the temporary sharp fall in market value. It was the ultimate hedge: profiting from one's own distress. The success of the strategy depends on whether the losses are in fact caused by temporary anomalies rather than fundamental adjustment. Otherwise, it would be throwing good money after bad.
The Fed Held Firm on Inflation Bias
The Fed, in its Tuesday, August 7 Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, defied market expectation and decided against lowering interest rates with a bias against growth and focused instead on inflation threats. In response, the S&P 500 index, with profit margin at 9% against a historical average of 6%, fell 44.4 points or 2.96% to 1,427 on August 9. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 387 points to 13,504 on the same day, even as the Federal Reserve pumped $62 billion of new liquidity into the banking system to help relieve seizure in the debt market.
On the following Monday, August 13, Goldman announced it would injected $2 billion of new equity from its own funds into its floundering Global Equity Opportunities fund, along with another $1 billion from big-ticket investors, including CV Starr & Co., controlled by former American International Group (AIG) chairman Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, California real estate developer Eli Broad who helped found SunAmerica and later sold it to AIG, and hedge fund Perry Capital LLC, which is run by Richard Perry, a former Goldman Sachs equity trader.
The new equity injection was intended to help shore up the long/short equity fund, which was down almost 30% in the previous week, to keep the fund from forced sales of assets at drastic discount long enough for markets to stabilize and for the fund to get out of the tricky leveraged bets it took before the credit markets went haywire in mid August. Global Equity "suffered significantly" as global markets sold off on worries about debt defaults credit draught, dragging the perceived value of its assets down to $3.6 billion, from about $5 billion.
Goldman chief financial officer David Viniair on a conference call with analysts was emphatic that the move was not a rescue but to capture "a good opportunity". After more than a week of panic over the disorderly state of global capital markets, Goldman Sachs pulled a kicking live rabbit magically out of its distressed asset hat.
On a conference call to discuss the additional equity investment in the $3.6 billion Global Equity Opportunities fund, Goldman executives insisted the move would not add to moral hazard (encouraging expectations that lead investors to take more risk than they otherwise might because they expect to be bailed out), but would merely reflect the firm's belief that the value of the fund's underlying assets was out of whack with "fundamentals" and that sooner or later the losses would be recouped when an orderly market returns.
"We believe the current values that the market is assigning to the assets underlying various funds represent a discount that is not supported by the fundamentals," Goldman explained in a statement. A day later, on August 14, the S&P 500 fell another 26.38 points or 1.83%, followed by another fall of 19.84 points or 1.39% on August 15, notwithstanding that a chorus of respected voices were assuring the public that the sub-prime mortgage crisis had been contained and would not spread to the entire financial system.
But Goldman did not inject more equity into two of its other funds: Global Alpha and North American Equity Opportunities that had also suffered sharp losses. Goldman said it was reducing leverage in the funds, a process that was mostly complete, but added that it was not unwinding Global Alpha, down 27% this year through August 13, about half of that in the previous week alone. Unlike Global Equity Opportunities, Goldman did not bolster its Global Alpha quantitative fund. Investors had reportedly asked to withdraw $1.6 billion, leaving Global Alpha with about $6.8 billion in assets after forced liquidation to pay the withdrawals.
registered Global Alpha, originally seeded in 1995 with just $10 million and returned 140% in its first full year of operation, was started by Mark Carhart and Raymond Iwanowski, young students of finance professor Eugene Fama of the Ireland . Fama's concept of efficient markets is based on his portfolio theory which states that rational investors will use diversification to optimize their portfolios based on precise pricing of risky assets. Universityof Chicago
Global Alpha soon became the Rolls Royce of a fleet of alternative investment vehicles that returned over 48% before fees annually. Hedge funds usually charge management fees of up to 2% of assets under management and 20% of investment gains as incentive fees. Global Alpha fees soared to $739 million in first quarter of 2006, from $131 million just a year earlier and boosted earnings rise at the blue-chip Goldman Sachs by 64% to $2.48 billion, the biggest 2006 first-quarter gain of any major Wall Street firm. Goldman is one of the world's largest hedge fund managers, with $29.5 billion in assets under management in an industry that oversees $2.7 trillion globally. Goldman reported in October 2006 that its asset management and securities services division produced $485 million, or 21% of its $2.36 billion in pretax profit for the fiscal third quarter.
For 2006, Global Alpha dropped 11.6% through the end of November and end up dropping 9% for the year yet still generating over $700 million in fees from earlier quarters. That was the first annual decline in seven years and followed an almost 40% gain for all of 2005. The fund took a hit misjudging the direction of global stock and currency markets, specifically that the Norwegian krone and Japanese yen would decline against the dollar. Global Alpha lost money partly on wrong-way bets that equities in
would rise, stocks in the rest of Japan Asiaand the would fall and the dollar would strengthen. Before August 2007, the fund had lost almost 10% on wrong bet in global bond markets. US
Goldman's smaller $600 million North American Equity Opportunities fund had also hit rough waters, losing 15% this year. There was real danger of a rush of redemptions from nervous investors that would force the funds to sell securities in a market that had all but seized up, forcing down asset prices to fire sale levels. Global Equity Opportunities investors were entitled to pull their money monthly with a 15-day warning, meaning notices for Aug. 31 were due on August 16. Global Alpha investors could redeem quarterly, and certain share classes also must notify the fund by the week of August 13.
Hedge funds are private, largely unregulated pools of capital whose managers command largely unrestricted authority to buy or sell any assets within the bounds of their disclosed strategies and participate in gains but not losses from investment. The industry has been growing over 20% annually due to its above-market performance. Still, Carhart and Iwanowski, both in their early forties, had not been able to take any of their 20% incentive fees since Global Alpha fell from its 2006 peak. They would have to make good about 60% of their previous incentive fees from profit, if any, in future quarters before they could resume taking a cut of the fund's future gains.
The Fed Wavered
By August 16, the DJIA fell way below 13,000 to an intraday low of 12,445, losing 1,212 points from its 13,657 close on August 8. The next day, August 17, the Fed while keeping the Fed Funds rate target unchanged at 5.25%, lowered the Discount Rate by 50 basis points to 5.75%, reducing the gap from the conventional 100 basis points by half to 50 basis points and changed the rules for access by banks to the Fed discount window.
In an accompanying statement, the Fed said: "To promote the restoration of orderly conditions in financial markets, the Federal Reserve Board approved temporary changes to its primary credit discount window facility. The Board approved a 50 basis point reduction in the primary credit rate to 5-3/4 percent, to narrow the spread between the primary credit rate and the Federal Open Market Committee's target federal funds rate to 50 basis points. The Board is also announcing a change to the Reserve Banks' usual practices to allow the provision of term financing for as long as 30 days, renewable by the borrower. These changes will remain in place until the Federal Reserve determines that market liquidity has improved materially. These changes are designed to provide depositories with greater assurance about the cost and availability of funding. The Federal Reserve will continue to accept a broad range of collateral for discount window loans, including home mortgages and related assets. Existing collateral margins will be maintained. In taking this action, the Board approved the requests submitted by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and
." San Francisco
The Fed Panicked
A month later, on September 18, brushing aside a DJIA closing at a respectable 13,403 the day before even in the face of poor employment data for August, the Fed panicked over the unemployment data and lowered both the Fed Funds rate target and the Discount Rate each by 50 basis points to 4.75% and 5.25% respectively. The rate cuts gave the DJIA a continuous rally for 9 consecutive days that ended on October 1 at 14,087. Obviously, the Fed knew something ominous about the credit market that was not reflected in the DJIA index.
The Global Equity Opportunities fund, now with about $6.6 billion in asset value, was using six times leverage before the capital infusion. Like many other managers, Goldman was experiencing the same problems with its so-called quantitative funds. Quant funds use computerized models to make opportunistic investment decisions on minute statistic disparities in asset prices caused by market inefficiency. When the short-term credit market seized up, the quant models turned dysfunctional.
Funds caught with significant losses in credit and bond investments had to sell stock holdings to lower the risks profile of their overall portfolios, and the herd selling in the stock market magnified the price shift in a downward spiral. Stocks that were held long fell in price, and stocks that were held short rose, exacerbating losses.
Opacity Fueled Market Rumors
As required, quant fund managers have been disclosing losses to investors but they are not required to disclose to the market. The opacity fueled the rumor mill. Renaissance Technology's $26 billion institutional equities fund was reportedly down 7% for the year. Some of the funds Applied Quantitative Research (AQR) managed were down as well, as were quant funds at Tykhe Capital, Highbridge Capital and D.E. Shaw (of which Lehman now owns 20%).
Vulture Opportunities in Distressed Funds
At Goldman, quant funds made up half of the $151 billion of alternative investments under management, and half of which was the sort of long-short equity quant funds that had been having trouble. But Goldman executives began to see opportunities in distressed funds. The highly respected AQR was raking in new funds to invest in distressed situations, as were other astute fund managers. AQR is an investment management firm employing a disciplined multi-asset, global research process, with investment products provided through a limited set of collective investment vehicles and separate accounts that deploy all or a subset of AQR's investment strategies. These investment products span from aggressive high volatility market-neutral hedge funds, to low volatility benchmark-driven traditional products. AQR's founder is Clifford S. Asness, a Goldman alumni where he was Director of Quantitative Research for the Asset Management Division responsible for building quantitative models to add value in global equity, fixed income and currency markets. H e was another of Fama's students at the
. Universityof Chicago
Goldman was putting its own money down alongside that of select outside investors, an expression of its faith in the fund's ability to recoup. The situation differed from that of Bear Stearns which had to loan $1.6 billion to bail out one of two internal hedge funds that had big problems with exposure to mortgage-related securities.
The First Wave of Warnings
Goldman, one of the world's premiere financial companies, had joined Bear Stearns and
's BNP Paribas in revealing that its hedge funds had been hit by the credit market crisis. Bear Stearns earlier in the summer disclosed that two of its multibillion dollar hedge funds were wiped out because of wrong bets on mortgage-backed securities. BNP Paribas announced a few weeks later it would freeze three funds invested in US asset-backed securities. France
The assets of the two troubled Bear Stearns hedge funds had been battered by turmoil in the credit market linked to sub-prime mortgage securities. On
Jun 20, 2007, $850 million of the funds' assets held as collateral was sold at greatly discounted prices by their creditor, Merrill Lynch & Co. The assets sold included mortgage-backed securities (MBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and credit default swaps (CDS). JP Morgan, another Bear Stearns creditor, had also planned an auction for some of the collateralized assets of the Bear Stearns funds, but cancelled the auction to negotiate directly with the Bear Stearns funds to unwind positions via private transactions to avoid setting a market price occasioned by market seizure.
The two Bear Stearns funds: High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund and High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund, run by mortgage veteran Ralph Cioffi, were facing shut-down as the rescue plans fell apart. The funds had slumped in the first four months of 2007 as the subprime mortgage market went against their positions and investors began asking for their money back. The High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund sold roughly $4 billion of subprime mortgage-backed securities in mid June, selling its highest-rated and most heavily traded securities first to raise cash to meet redemption requests from investors and margin calls from creditors, leaving the riskier, lower-rated assets in its portfolio that had difficulty finding buyers.
Collateral Debt Obligation Crisis
CDOs are illiquid assets that normally trade only infrequently as institutional investor had not intended to trade such securities. Demand for them is not strong even in normal times. In a credit crunch, demand became extremely weak. Sellers typically give investors one or two days to price the assets and bid in order to get the best price. Bid lists were now sent out for execution within roughly an hour, which was unusual and suggested that sellers were keen to sell the assets quickly at any price.
Bear Stearns' High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund sold close to $4 billion worth of AAA and AA rated securities. The fund was started less than a year ago with $600 million in assets, but used leverage to expand its holdings to more than $6 billion. But subprime mortgage trades that went wrong left the fund down 23% in the first four months of 2007. The fund was selling its highest-rated and most tradable securities first to raise cash to meet expected redemption requests and margin calls. Buyers were found for the bonds but the fund still had to retain lower-rated subprime mortgage-based securities which had triggered its losses earlier in the year.
Bear Stearns was highly leveraged in an illiquid market and was faced with the prospect that its funds were going to start getting margin calls so it tried to sell ahead of being in the worst spot possible. Subprime mortgages were offered at low initial rates to home buyers with blemished credit ratings who could not carry the adjusted payments if and when rates rise. This was not a problem as long as prices for houses continued to rise, allowing the lenders to shift loan repayment assurance from the borrower's income to the rising value of the collateral. Thus subprime mortgages lenders were not particularly concerned about borrower income for they were merely using home buyers as needed intermediaries to profit from the debt–driven housing boom. This strategy worked until the debt balloon burst. Rising delinquencies and defaults in this once-booming part of the mortgage market had triggered a credit crunch earlier in the year that left several lenders bankrupt. Many hedge funds had generated big gains for several years on this unstainable liquidity boom. The premature bears who shorted the market repeated lost money as the Fed continued to feed the debt balloon to sustain the unsustainable.
As delinquencies and foreclosures rose finally, losses first hit the riskiest tranches of subprime mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The losses were subsequently transmitted to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) which invested in the higher-rated tranches of subprime MBS that did not have an active market since they were bought by institutions with the intention to hold until maturity. Such securities were super safe as long as their ratings remain high.
Hedge funds have become big credit-market players in recent years, and many firms trade the riskiest tranches of subprime MBS and higher-rated CDOs tranches to profit from the return spread. While some funds, such those managed by Cheyne Capital and Cambridge Place Investment Management, had suffered sudden losses, some hedge funds made handsome gains in February 2007 betting that a subprime mortgage crisis would hit.
As the number of market participants increased and the packaging of the CDO became more exoteric over the liquidity boom years, it became impossible to know who were holding the "toxic" tranches and how precisely the losses would spread, since the risk profile of each tranche would be affected by the default rates of other tranches. The difficulty in identifying the precise locations of risk exposure caused a sharp rise in perceived risk exposure system wide. This sudden risk aversion led to rating downgrades of the high-rated tranches, forcing their holders to sell into a market with few buyers.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which monitors risk in the banking system, tracks bank holdings of MBS, but not specific tranches of CDOs. It has no information on which bank holds CDOs and how much, since such instruments are held by the finance subsidiaries of bank holding companies, off the balance sheets of banks. Asian investors, particularly those in
, had been eager to seek off-shore assets yielding more than the near zero or even negative interest rates offered at home. Many Japanese as well as foreign investors participated in currency "carry trade" to arbitrage interest rate spreads between the Japanese yen and other higher interest rate currencies and assets denominated in dollars, fueling a liquidity boom in US markets. The Japan trade deficit fed the US capital account surplus as the surplus trade partners found that they could not convert the dollars they earned from export to the US into local currencies without suffering undesirable rise in money supply. The trade surplus dollars went into the US credit market. US
The growth of CDOs has been explosive during the past decade. In 1995, there were hardly any. By 2006, more than $500 billion worth was issued. About 40% of CDO collateral was residential MBS, with three quarters in subprime and home-equity loans, and the rest in high-rated prime home loans. CDOs became an important part of the mortgage market because their issuers also bought the riskier tranches of MBS that others investors shunned. The high-rated tranches of MBS were sold easily to pension funds and insurers. But the ultra-high rated tranches paid such low returns because of their perceived safety that few buyers were interested, forcing the banks which structured them to hold them themselves. The issuers often hold the more riskier tranches to sell at later dates for profit when the value of the collateral rose with rising home prices. But when the riskier tranches could not be sold as home prices fell and mortgage default rose, the higher rating tranches suffered rating drops and institutional buyers were prevented by regulation to hold the ones they had bought and from buying new ones. When the ultra safe tranches held by banks are downgraded, banks are forced to writedown their value. With CDOs withdrawing from the residential MBS market, mortgage lenders were unable to sell the loans they had originated for new funds to finance new mortgages.
The chain of derivative structures that turns home loans into CDOs begins when a mortgage is packaged together with other mortgages into an MBS. The MBS is then sliced up into different CDO tranches that pay on a range of interest rates tied to risk levels. Mortgage payments go first to the highest-rated tranches with the lowest interest rates. The remaining funds then flows down to the next risky tranches until all are paid. The riskiest CDO tranches get paid last, but they offer the highest interest rates to attract investor with strong risk appetite.
In theory, all trenches have the same risk/return ratio. As the liquidity boom has gone on for years with the help of the Fed, historical data would suggest that risks of default should be minimal. Yet when losses actually occurred from unanticipated mortgage defaults and foreclosures, the riskiest tranches were hit first, while the top-rated tranches were hit last. But until losses occurred, the riskier tranches got the higher returns. Over the years, the riskier tranches generated big profit for hedge funds when the risks did not materialize to overwhelm the high returns. The problem was that the profitability drove new issues of MBS at a faster pace than maturing MBS, with the number and amount of outstanding securities getting bigger with each passing year, exposing investors to aggregate risk higher than the accumulated gains. Because of the complexity and opacity of the CDO market, institutional investors were not alerted by rating agencies of the fact that their individual safety actually caused a sharp rise in systemic risk. They felt comfortable as long as assets they acquired were rated AAA and deemed bankruptcy-remote, not realizing the system might seize up some Wednesday morning. That Wednesday came on
August 15, 2007.
CDOs, a cross between an investment fund and an asset-backed security (ABS), perform this slicing process of risk/reward unbundling repeatedly to keep money recycling and money supply growing in the mortgage market. While CDOs lubricate the credit market to make more home financing affordable to more home buyers, it raises the price of home and its financing cost beyond the carrying capability of almost all home buyers when the bursting of the debt bubble resets interest rates to normal levels, making a rising default rate inevitable.
Hedge funds are attracted by the high returns offered by the lowest-rated tranches of subprime MBS undbubled by CDOs, the so-called equity tranches which sink underwater as home prices fall. Many hedge funds arbitrage the wide return spread with low-cost funds borrowed in the commercial paper market and magnify the return with high leverage through bank loans. They often hedge against risk by holding derivatives that are expected to rise in value when housing prices fall, such as interest rate swaps. They also hedge against defaults with credit default swaps. These hedges failed when risk was re-priced by the market at rollover time for short-term securities which could be every 30 days.
CDOs and Commercial Paper
Much of the money used to buy CDOs come form the commercial paper market. Commercial paper consists of short-term, unsecured promissary notes issued primarily by financial and non-financial corporations. Maturities range up to 270 days but average about 30 days. Many companies use commercial paper to raise cash needed for current transactions, and many find it to be a lower-cost alternative to bank loans. Financial companies use high-rated CDO tranches as collateral to back their commercial paper issues.
Because commercial paper maturities do not exceed nine months and proceeds typically are used only for current transactions, the notes are exempt from registration as securities with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Large institutions have long managed their short-term cash needs by buying and selling securities in the money market since the early 1970's. Today, a broad array of domestic and foreign investors uses these versatile, short-term securities to help to make the money market the largest, most efficient credit market in the world driving assets from $4 billion in 1975 to more than $1.8 trillion today. This money market is a fixed income market, similar to the bond market. The major difference being that the money market specializes in very short term debt securities.
The money market is a securities market dealing in short-term debt and monetary instruments. Money market instruments are forms of debt that mature in less than one year and are very liquid but traded only high denominations. The easiest way for individual investor to gain access is through money market mutual funds, or sometimes through a money market bank account. These accounts and funds pool together the assets of thousands of investors and buy the money market securities on their behalf.
Borrowing short-term money from banks is often a labored and uneasy situation for many corporations. Their desire to avoid banks as much as they can has led to the popularity of commercial paper. For the most part, commercial paper is a very safe investment because the financial situation of a large company can easily be predicted over a few months. Furthermore, typically only companies with high credit ratings and credit worthiness issue commercial paper and over the past 35 years there have only been a handful of cases where corporations defaulted on their commercial paper repayment.
Asset backed commercial paper (ABCP) is a device used by banks to get operating assets, such as trade receivables, funded by the issuance of securities. Traditionally, banks devised ABCP conduits as a device to put their current asset credits off their balance sheets and yet provide liquidity support to their clients. Conduits raise money by selling short-term debt and using the proceeds to invest in assets with longer maturities, like mortgage-backed bonds. Conduits typically have guarantees from banks, which promise to lend them money up to the amount of the SIVs the banks structure.
A bank with a client whose working capital needs are funded by the bank can release the regulatory capital that is locked in this credit asset by setting up a conduit, essentially a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that issues commercial paper, such as the ones used by Enron that led to its downfall. The conduit will buy the receivables of the client and get the same funded by issuance of commercial paper. The bank will be required to provide some liquidity support to the conduit, as it is practically impossible to match the maturities of the commercial paper to the realization of trade receivables. Thus, the credit asset is moved off the balance sheet giving the bank a regulatory relief. Depending upon whether the bank provides full or partial liquidity support to the conduit, ABCP can be either fully supported or partly supported.
ABCP conduits are virtual subsets of the parent bank. If the bank provides full liquidity support to the conduit, for regulatory purposes, the liquidity support given by the bank may be treated as a direct credit substitute in which case the assets held by the conduit are aggregated with those of the bank. ABCP conduits are also set up large issuers that are not banks.
The key weakness in the entire credit superstructure lies in the practice by intermediaries of credit to borrow short term to finance long term. This term carry is magical in an expanding economy when the gap between short term and long term credit is narrower than gains from long term asset appreciation. But in a contracting economy, it can be a fatal scenario, particularly if falls in short term rates raise the credit rating requirement of the short term borrower, putting previously qualified loans in technical default. Securities that face difficulty in rolling over at maturity are known as "toxic" in the trade.
The credit default swap market is a microcosm of investor confidence. Credit default swaps are insurance for bad debt. Insured creditors are compensated by the seller of the insurance if a debtor defaults on a loan. When the threat of default rises in the market, the insurance premium rises, just as Katrina boosted hurricane insurance premium. This is known in the business as re-pricing of risk. The cost of credit default swaps written on investment banks such as Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs and on commercial banks such as Citibank have soared in the past few months amid worries that troubles in the subprime-mortgage market and the leveraged-buyout market could leave them with massive loan defaults. The financial industry tracks mortgage-linked securities via the ABX index, which calculates the prices of a basket of assets backed by subprime loans.
The ongoing crisis in the
housing market has pushed the ABX, a key mortgage-linked derivatives index, to new lows, threatening to unleash a further bout of credit market upheaval. Price swing in the ABX can reduce the value of ultra-safe credit instruments that carried high credit ratings, forcing banks and other regulated investors to make further large write-downs on their credit market holdings, on top of the huge losses several major US and foreign banks suffered from credit turmoil that began in August. US
mortgages market deteriorates, financial sector losses will accumulate. Secondary market price movements indicate that losses on mortgage inventory are likely to be larger in coming quarters. Before July, the part of the ABX index that tracks AAA debt was trading almost at face value. However, in the last three weeks in October, it has fallen sharply due to downgrades by credit rating agencies and continuing bad data from the housing sector. US
As a result, the so-called ABX 07-1 index – which tracks AAA mortgage bonds originated in the first half of this year – fell to a record low close of 79 on October 30, meaning that traders reckon these bonds are worth only 79 cents on the dollar. The ABX "BBB" 07-1 index measures the performance of loans made during the second half of 2006, when many home purchase loans were made to buyers with shaky credit standings. The index traded around 44, or 44 cents on a dollar, nearly its weakest level ever.
The swing is creating real pain for investors, since in recent years numerous firms have created trading strategies which have loaded large debt levels onto these "safe" securities, precisely because these instruments were not expected to fluctuate in price. Investors normally hold such "safe" securities to maturity thus there is no demand for a ready market for them. But as the credit rating of these securities falls, investor cannot find buyer for them at any reasonable price. The last week in October saw the worst falls in the ABX market this year, especially higher up the capital structure with highly rated debt.
Pension funds and insurance companies hold the less risky, senior CDO tranches because regulatory rules restrict them from investing in lower-rated securities. When the low-rated tranches default in large numbers, the high-rated tranches lose rating and these regulated institutions are forced to sell their non-conforming holdings into a market with few buyers.
Pension funds, insurance companies and university endowment funds have also invested in hedge funds that hold the riskier CDO tranches to get higher returns. In recent years, CDO issuance has exploded and many hedge funds have been buying the riskiest tranches of MBS that are backed by subprime loans. Mortgages closed by
time were sent electronically to back-office locations in New York to be packaged into CDO tranches and resent electronically to India at the next day to be sold in the credit market, generating huge fees and profits for Wall Street firms every day. New York
Rating Agencies Under Pressure
Moody's Investors Services, an influential rating agency, warned in late July that defaults and downgrades of subprime MBS could have "severe" consequences for CDOs that invested heavily in the sector. CDOs that Moody's rated from 2003 to 2006 had 45% exposure to subprime MBS on average. But that varied widely from almost zero to 90% with recent CDOs having the high concentrations of such collateral, the potential downgrade for which could be 10 or more notches in rating. The secondary market for CDOs responded to these heightened risks, pushing prices down and widening spreads - the difference between interest rates on riskier debt and measures of short-term borrowing costs such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) or commercial paper rates. Spreads on BBB-rated asset-backed securities (ABS) CDOs over LIBOR have widened by roughly 125 basis points to 657 basis points since the end of 2006.
Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)
Although the first structured investment vehicles (SIVs) appeared in the structured finance world some 15 years ago, and the growth of SIVs had been somewhat limited, (there are fewer than 20 vehicles globally), there is no doubt that these sophisticated bankruptcy-remote structures have strongly influenced other funding vehicles and asset management businesses. Since 2002, there has been renewed interest by different types of financial institutions in starting up SIVs or SIV-like structures with evolved capital structures embracing new classes of financial instruments.
The first SIVs were founded in the mid-1980s as bankruptcy-remote entities and were sponsored by large banks or investment managers for the purpose of generating leveraged returns by exploiting the differences in yields between the longer-dated assets managed and the short-term liabilities issued. The balance sheet of a structured investment vehicle typically contains assets such as asset-backed securities (ABS) and other high-grade securities that are funded through issued liabilities in the form of commercial paper (CP) and medium-term note (MTN) and subordinate capital notes. SIVs typically hedge out all interest and currency risks using swaps and other derivative instruments.
Overall, CP and MTN issuance shot up dramatically in 2004, up US$25.7 billion to US$133.1 billion at year-end, with capital investments at an all-time high. In general, advances in capital structures and asset portfolio management have invigorated interest from investors and prospective sponsors.
SIVs, Conduits and Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP)
SIVs are typically funded in the low interest short-term asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) market to invest in high-return long-term securities for profit. The viability of the stratagem depends on the ability to roll over the short-term commercial paper when they mature in typically less than 120 days. To keep the liquidity risk at a minimum, issuers stagger the maturity so that only a small portion of the loan needs to be refunded in any one week. The credit market crisis in mid 2007 created a break in short-term debt rollovers to cause a funding mismatch in long-term assets positions because investors have stopped buying new ABCP issued by some SIVs and conduits.
What separates a SIV from other investment vehicles is the nature of its ongoing relationship with rating agencies – from the originating qualification process to the continuous monitoring of its asset diversification, risk management and funding practices. These guidelines include frequent reporting of operating parameters such as portfolio credit quality, portfolio diversification, asset and liability maturity, market risk limitations, leverage and capital adequacy requirements, and liquidity requirements.
The rigorous monitoring allows SIVs to be highly capital efficient, enabling them to be leveraged on an average of 12 times the capital base, with exceptions. Unlike related traditional asset backed commercial paper (ABCP) conduits, SIVs do not require 100% liquidity support and credit enhancement.
Many SIVs faced trouble in the summer of 2007 as they were hit by both sharp falls in the value of their investments, mainly financial debt and asset-backed bonds, and a lack of access to new refinancing as investors shunned short-term commercial paper debt linked to asset-backed securities (ABCP).
Most CDOs are cash flow transactions not directly sensitive to the market value of their underlying assets as long as the cash flow is undisturbed. But if a CDO manager needs to sell an asset quickly even at a loss because of ratings agency downgrade, the CDO manager will be forced to carry the remaining assets at a lower value, upsetting both collateral for the agreed cash flow and the balance sheet of the participants.
While some hedge funds have profited from the sublime mortgage meltdown, other funds have been hit hard, resulting in a deteriorating financial sector as asset values plummeted faster than potential gains by vultures.
Other big lenders that raised warning flags earlier about bad-performing debt portfolios included Washington Mutual, New Century Financial and Marshall & IIsley Corporation. Foreclosures jumped 35% in December 2006 versus a year earlier. For the fifth straight month, more than 100,000 properties entered foreclosure because the owner couldn't keep up with their loan payments. In January 2007, Washington Mutual disclosed that its mortgage business lost $122 million in the fourth quarter, highlighting the weak sub-prime market.
New York Attorney General Sues Appraisal Company
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a potential Democrat gubernatorial candidate for New York, has filed suit against eAppraiseIT (EA), a real estate appraisal management subsidiary of First American Corporation, for having "caved to pressure from Washington Mutual" to inflate property values of homes. Washington Mutual allegedly complained to EA that "its appraisals weren't high enough." Cuomo said in a statement that "consumers are harmed because they are misled as to the value of their homes, increasing the risk of foreclosure and hindering their ability to make sound economic decisions. Investors are hurt by such fraud because it skews the value and risk of loans that are sold in financial markets." The bank is also facing a number of class action suits from irate borrowers.
Shares of government sponsored mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tumbled after receiving subpoenas seeking information on loans they bought from Washington Mutual and other banks. Cuomo said he uncovered a "pattern of collusion" between lenders and appraisers, and is seeking documents that may prove the lenders inflated appraisal values. The subpoenas also seek information on Fannie and Freddie's due diligence practices. If decided that they own or guarantee mortgages with inflated appraisals, company policy dictates that the lenders buy back the loans. "In order to fulfill their duty to consumers and investors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must ensure that Washington Mutual's mortgages have not been corrupted by inflated appraisals," Cuomo said. In 2007, WaMu is Fannie Mae's third-largest loan provider, selling it $24.7 billion and Freddie Mac's fourteenth largest at $7.8 billion. Washingtom Mutual share fell 17% after it announced it would set aside $1.3 billion fourth quarter 2007 for credit losses, up from $967 million in the third quarter.
Mortgage Lenders Fell Like Flies
The handwriting had been clearly on the wall. Back on February 6, New Century Financial shares plunged 29% after the mortgage services provider slashed its forecast for loan production for 2007 because early-payment defaults and loan repurchases had led to tighter underwriting guidelines. A week later, Pasadena, Calif.-based IndyMac Bancorp Inc. which sold Alt-A mortgages for borrowers who were not required to submit conforming income and financial documents necessary to quality for conventional conforming mortgages, warned that its quarterly earnings would come in well short of analyst expectations because of increased loan losses and delinquencies. Other lenders were also squeezed by deteriorating credit. Marshall & IIsley reported a jump in non-performing assets in the quarter, while Bank of the Ozarks reported a 69% increase in problem loans. US Bancorp predicted an increase in retail loan charge-offs and commercial loan losses in coming quarters. Wells Fargo warned it expected net credit losses from wholesale banking to increase in 2007.
The Case of Countrywide Financial
's Barclays PLC, in the midst of an unsuccessful takeover battle for ABN Amro, was reported as among the banks that were having trouble with bad loans and its hedge funds. Barclays Global Investors was one of the world's biggest fund managers, with some $2 trillion in assets under management. Britain
Non-conforming mortgages securities packaged by Countrywide Financial needed to be sold in the private, secondary market to alternative investors, instead of the agency market. On
August 3, 2007, this secondary market collapsed and essentially stopped the sales of most non-conforming securities. Alt-A mortgages (loans given to self-declared creditworthy borrowers without supporting documentation) completely stopped trading and the seizure extended to even AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities. Only securities with conforming mortgages were trading. Unfazed, Countrywide Financial issued a reassuring statement that its mortgage business had access to a nearly $50 billion funding cushion.
In reality, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown put Countrywide Financial, along with many other mortgage lenders, in a crisis situation of holding drastically devalued loan portfolios that could not be sold at any price. Amid rising defaults, investors have fled from mortgage-related investments, drying up market demand. The ongoing credit crunch threatened Countrywide's normal access to cash.
After the collapse of American Home Mortgage on August 6, the market's attention returned to Countrywide Financial which at the time had issued about 17% of all mortgages in the
. Days later, Countrywide Financial disclosed to the SEC that disruptions in the secondary mortgage markets could adversely affect it financially. The news raised speculation that Countrywide was a potential bankruptcy risk. On August 10, a run on the Countrywide Bank began as the secondary mortgage market shutdown, curtailing new mortgage funding. United States
The perceived risk of Countrywide bonds rose sharply. Credit ratings agencies downgraded Countrywide to near junk status. The cost of insuring its bonds rose 22% overnight. This development limited Countrywide access to the short-term commercial paper debt market which normally provides cheaper money than bank loans. Institutional investors were trying desperately to unload outstanding Countrywide paper held in their portfolios. Some 50 other mortgage lenders had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Countrywide Financial was cited as a possible bankruptcy risk by Merrill Lynch and others on August 15. This combined with news that its ability to issue new commercial paper might be severely hampered put severe pressure on the stock. Countrywide shares fell $3.17 to $21.29, which was its biggest fall in a single day since the crash of 1987 when the shares fell 50% for the year. The 52-week low to date was $12.07 per share.
On Thursday, August 16, having expressed concerns over liquidity because of the decline of the secondary market for securitized mortgage obligations, Countrywide also announced its intention to draw on the entire $11.5 billion credit line from a group of 40 banks. On Friday August 17, many depositors sought to withdraw their bank accounts from Countrywide. It also planned to make 90% of its loans conforming. By this point stock shares had lost about 75% of their peak value and speculation of bankruptcy broadened.
The Fed Discount Window Accepts Toxic Collateral from Banks
At the same time the Federal Reserve lowered the discount rate 50 basis points in a last-minute, early morning conference call. The Fed also accepted $17.2 billion in repurchase agreements for mortgage backed securities to provide liquidity in the credit market. This helped calm the stock market and investors promptly responded positively with the Dow posting temporary gains.
Additionally, Countrywide was forced to restate income it had claimed from accrued but unpaid interest on "exotic" mortgages in which the initial pay rate was less than the amortization rate. By mid 2007, it became apparent much of this accrued interest had become uncollectible. In a letter dated August 20, Federal Reserve agreed to waive banking regulations at the request of Citigroup and Bank of America to exempt both banks from rules that limited the amount that federally-insured banks can lend to related brokerage companies to 10% of bank capital, by increasing the limit to 30%. Until then, banking regulations restricted banks with federally insured deposits from putting themselves at risk by brokerage subsidiaries' activities. On August 23, Citibank and Bank of America said that they and two other banks accessed $500 million in 30-day financing at the Fed's discount window at the new low rate of 5.25%.
On the next day, Countrywide Financial obtained $2 billion of new capital from Bank of America Corp, the banking holding parent. In exchange, the Bank of America brokerage arm would get convertible preferred stock yielding 7.3%, a profitable spread over its Fed discount rate of 5.25% and the Fed funds rate of 4.75%. The preferred stocks can be converted into common stock at $18 per share (trading around $12 on October 25). This gave the distressed mortgage lender a much-needed cash infusion amid a crippling credit crunch. Countrywide shares soared 20.01%, or $4.37, to $26.19 after hours on the news. Bank of America shares rose 1.9%, or 98 cents, to $52.63 (trading around $46.75 on October 25 after announcing third quarter earning dropping 32%).
SEC to Scrutinize Security Valuation
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reportedly looking into the accounting and securities valuation practices at Wall Street investment banks to ensure consistency and clarity for investors. Meanwhile, major financial institutions were lining up to announce write-downs on their sub-prime mortgage exposures. Merrill Lynch wrote down $5.5 billion which was later revised to $8 billion; Citigroup $3.3 billion which was later revised to $11 billion; Goldman Sachs $1.7 billion, Lehman Brothers $1 billion, Morgan Stanley $0.9 billion and Bear Sterns $0.7 billion. Many in the market expect further write downs in coming quarters. Already Merrill Lynch write down is widely put at more than $14 billion and few believe that Citigroup's loss could be kept to $11 billion in coming quarters. The heads of Merrill, UBS and Citigroup all resigned.
Wachovia, the fourth-largest
bank by assets, estimated on Friday, November 9 that the value of its subprime mortgage-related securities had fallen $1.1 billion in October. It said loan-loss provisions would be increased by as much as $600 million in the fourth quarter due to "dramatic declines" in home values. The announcement came three weeks after Wachovia reported writedowns of $1.3 billion in the third quarter and posted its first earnings drop in six years. US
Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest
securities firm, said on November 7 its subprime mortgages and related securities lost $3.7 billion in the past two months, after prices sank further than the firm's traders anticipated. The decline may cut fourth-quarter earnings by $2.5 billion. Colm Kelleher, Morgan Stanley chief financial officer to the Financial Times in an interview: "You need to see some of these long positions reduced, you need to see buyers coming in, you need to see an easing of liquidity in the market." Kelleher said credit markets would take three or four quarters to recover, instead of the one or two he estimated when the firm reported third-quarter results on September 19. U.S.
Concerns about potential writedowns at Morgan Stanley have pushed the stock lower this week, bringing the year-to-date decline to 24 percent. The stock fell $3.32, or 6.9%, to $51.19 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading on November 8. Analysts estimate the firm would lose about $4 billion on asset- backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and expected the remaining losses to be booked on residual mortgage interest and on credit lines to structured investment vehicles.
Being Right Can lead to Losses through Aggressive Hedging
Part of the losses Morgan Stanley incurred stemmed from derivative contracts the firm's proprietary trading unit wrote earlier in the year. The traders anticipated correctly a decline in the value of subprime securities and took up short positions and the contracts made money for the firm in the second quarter. But the contracts started losing money when prices fell below the level the traders had anticipated. As markets continued to decline, the firm's risk exposure swung from short, to flat to long because the structure of the book had big negative convexity. For any given bond, a graph of the relationship between price and yield is a convex curve rather than a linear straight-line. As a bond's price goes up, its yield goes down, and vice versa. The degree to which the graph is curved shows how much a bond's yield changes in response to a change in price. Negative convexity gives the investor a greater loss in the event of a 50 basis points drop in yields than his gain in the event of a 50 basis points rise in yields. For any given move in interest rates, the downside is bigger than the upside to give a built-in loss for a short position with negative convexity. Sophisticated traders can create instruments which have so much negative convexity that the price might start off moving in one direction as yields start moving, and then eventually start moving in the opposite direction beyond a given range. The hedge then begins to cannibalize profitability.For any given move in interest rates, the downside is bigger than the upside to give a built-in loss for a short position with negative convexity, thus producing losses. For positive convexity, the upside is bigger than the down side, thus giving short positions an advantage. Morgan Stanley's short positions allegedly turned against them by negative convexity; at least that was how they explained the loss. Some analysts think there must be more than meets the eye, assuming Morgan management itself even know. The people who put on the bad trades were fired and not there to answer questions.
It is one thing to lose money, but it is quite another to lose money without knowing why and how. Morgan Stanley, Citibank, and the rest still have difficulty figuring out how they lost money last quarter and how much loss is waiting in future quarters. They only know the numbers came in very bad.
SEC Concern over Accuracy of Writedowns
market regulators have been working with investment banks and accounting firms over the past few months to keep tabs on how they are dealing with changes to the accounting treatment of securities that were introduced this year by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The SEC has been particularly concerned during the third quarter earnings season, which resulted in billions of dollars in write-downs at investment banks after problems in the sub-prime mortgage markets that triggered a wider credit crisis. At issue is whether these write-downs accurately reflect the total financial impact of the credit crisis on the banks and their investors. US
The SMELEC Super Fund Proposal
Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan/Chase announced on Monday, October 15, plans for a super fund to buy mortgage-linked securities in an attempt to allay fears of a downward price-spiral that would hit the balance sheets of big banks.
banks collectively would put up credit guarantees up to $100 billion for the fund, named the Single-Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (SMLEC). US
The concept of an SMLEC first emerged three weeks earlier when the US Treasury summoned leading bankers to discuss ways to revive the mortgage-linked securities market and to deal with the threat to the credit market posed by structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and conduits. The Treasury said it acted as a "neutral third party" in the discussions, but Henry Paulson, Treasury secretary, was reportedly strongly in support of the initiative.
Robert Steel, under-secretary for domestic finance, led the US Treasury side of the discussions, with the day-to-day work handled by Anthony Ryan, assistant secretary. The plan is an attempt to address concerns about SIVs and conduits, vehicles that are off-balance sheet but closely affiliated to banks.
Fears emerged that some SIVs might be pushed into forced sales of assets, prompting further declines in the market price of mortgage-linked securities as a class that could hurt the balance sheets of all lending institutions. SMLEC, designed as a superfund to preserve the theoretical value of the high-rated tranches by creating a ready buyer for them, is likely to be unpopular with some banks and non-bank institutions which have already started trading in distressed low-rated subprime securities at knockdown prices.
SMLEC as proposed is intended as a restructuring vehicle, repackaging credit securities to make them more transparent than existing SIV commercial paper and less risky to investors. It would only deal in "highly-rated" assets. Although it is envisaged that the scheme will initially focus on vehicles in the dollar market held by US banks, it is expected to extend to non-US banks as well, and may even be extended to the euro market. The US Treasury declined to provide official comment on the reported proposal.
In October, Citigroup Inc. posted a 57% slump in third-quarter net income at $2.38 billion, or 47 cents a share, from $5.51 billion, or $1.10 a share, a year earlier. The latest quarterly results included $1.35 billion of pretax write-down in the value of loans that helped finance the leveraged-buyout boom and $1.56 billion of pretax losses tied to loans and sub-prime mortgages. A couple of weeks after the SMLEC proposal, Citigroup announced a write down of $3.3 billion which was later revised to $11 billion and that its Chairman resigned after an emergency board meeting on the first Saturday of November.
SMLEC is in essence a big bet that a consortium of banking giants, at the prodding of the US Treasury, can persuade investors to pour new money into the troubled credit market to buy the assets of troubled SIVs to prevent the pending loss faced by the sponsoring institutions.
Alan Greenspan, former Fed chairman, immediately raised serious doubts over SMLEC, warning that it could prevent the market from establishing true clearing prices for asset-backed securities. "It is not clear to me that the benefits exceed the risks," Greenspan told Emerging Markets , adding, "The experience I have had with that sort of intervention is very mixed." As the person most responsible for a macro liquidity boom that had prevented "the market from establishing true clearing prices for assets of all types", Greenspan is critical of the effort of the Treasury to do the same thing on a micro level to save the banking system.
Greenspan explained: "What creates strong markets is a belief in the investment community that everybody has been scared out of the market, pressed prices too low and there are wildly attractive bargaining prices out there." He added: "if you intervene in the system, the vultures stay away. The vultures are sometimes very useful." Goldman Sachs must have heard the message loud and clear and decided to act as its own home-grown vulture.
Greenspan's remarks came amid growing speculation on Wall Street that the current Federal Reserve sees potential benefits in the SMLEC proposal in terms of preventing a possible fire sale of assets, and does not think it has been designed to allow financial institutions to avoid recognizing losses. But the Fed is concern that the superfund plan could exacerbate growing investor anxiety, and thinks markets might normalize faster if at least some troubled SIV assets were sold in the market to allow prices to find a floor. Fed officials have been officially silent on the superfund plan, leading to the impression that the Fed wants to keep its distance. The Treasury regards the Fed's silence as simply reflecting the separation of powers and responsibilities between the institutions. In reality, the Treasury leads the Fed on issues of national economic security, notwithstanding the Fed's claim of independence.
Greenspan defended the 1998 Fed-sponsored rescue of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) by a group of creditor banks, saying it worked because it took a set of assets that would otherwise have been dumped at fire-sale prices off the market, allowing prices of the remaining assets to find a true equilibrium. But he said today "we are dealing with a much larger market." To those who still have reliable memory, the justification for the Fed managed rescue of LTCM was to prevent the total collapse of the financial market because of the dominant size and high leverage of LTCM. Other distressed hedge funds would also have survived with a Fed managed bailout, but they did not qualify as being "too big to fail".
Frederic Mishkin, a Federal Reserve governor, admitted to the Financial Times that although the central bank could use monetary policy to offset the macroeconomic risk arising from the credit squeeze, it was "powerless" to deal with "valuation risk" – the difficulty assessing the value of complex or opaque securities.
Robert J Shiller, Yale economist of " Irrational Exuberance " fame (2000), writing in the October 14 edition of the New York Times: Sniffles That Precede a Recession : "While it may seem as though these private banks could have met by themselves and agreed to create a fund without pressure from Treasury to do so, apparently there are times when the private sector cannot take care of itself and it needs the government to intervene and prod it in the right direction, at least that appears to be the attitude at Treasury (and I wonder if there will be government guarantees of any sort as part of the bargain, a situation that rules out the private sector doing it on its own, but also a situation that more explicitly recognizes the existence of market failure and the need for government intervention to overcome it). It would be refreshing to see this same attitude extended by the administration to other markets that cannot coordinate properly or that suffer from significant market failures of other types, markets that produce outcomes where, say, children are left without health coverage. But don't get your hopes up."
Warren Buffett, the Pied Piper of other awed investors, told Fox Business Network that "pooling a bunch of mortgages, changing the ownership" would not change the viability of the mortgage instrument itself. "It would be better to have them on the balance sheets so everyone would know what's going on." Bill Gross, chief investment officer of Pimco, the giant bond fund manager, called the superfund idea "pretty lame". Investors need to know what their portfolio is really worth at any moment in time, not merely constructed value if conditions should hold.
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Recently came across the following article written by F. William Engdahl in 1996 which might be of interest to some here:
The secret financial network behind "wizard" George Soros
The last page of the above article can be found here:
Soros's looting of Ibero-America
Posted by: integer | Jul 2, 2018 4:49:45 AM | 35
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
currently having an online debate about conditions in the crimea, specifically alleged russian oppression of crimeans in 2018, but also conditions leading up to the initial referendum (my opponents claim annexation or conquest, and cite a freedom house survey to back it up--from what i can see freedom house is fully funded by the us govt). my understanding is the us fomented the coup in ukraine, along with nato, as opposed to the ukrainian people rebelling against a russian puppet, which is the us line i believe. any articles or sources detailing the us role in all this, or rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression, would be appreciated.
Posted by: pretzelattack | Jul 1, 2018 2:05:08 PM | 3
somebody , Jul 1, 2018 4:01:34 PM | 53 Just quoting "Western" mainstream sources:PavewayIV , Jul 1, 2018 6:26:14 PM | 8
"Ethnic Russians in the majority, Tartars and Ukrainians in the minority."
Carnegie?About half of the respondents admit to having been taken by surprise by Russia's actions in 2014. Interestingly, there is agreement among the Crimean population, including the Crimean Tatars, that successive Ukrainian governments had neglected the region. Roughly one third of respondents pointed to this neglect as the main cause of the developments in 2014. ... The majority of survey respondents agree with the statement that the different ethnic groups in Crimea currently live peacefully side by side. Twenty percent disagree "fully" or "rather" with this statement, thereby indicating both an uncertainty and unease with the situation at the moment that reaches beyond the Crimean Tatar share of the population (about 12 percent). This result is mirrored in the reaction to the ban on the main political Crimean Tatar organization, the Mejlis, by the Russian authorities: 20 percent "fully" or "rather" disagreed with this step, compared to 80 percent endorsing this policy. ... The survey clearly spells out the severe disruption of links to the rest of Ukraine, limited travel to other parts of Russia, the absence of personal international reference points, and a near-complete integration into the Russian media sphere.
This combination makes any change in the opinions of the majority of the Crimean population on the annexation unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, it is also clear that the Crimean population's high expectations in the Russian economy and trust in Russian (but not Crimean) institutions needs to be carefully managed by Moscow in view of the already strained financial situation of the majority of the Crimean population.
Compare to UkraineThe authors are also cautious about drawing overly-optimistic conclusions about the present time: "The risk of conflict emerging within Ukrainian society and growing serious remains, based on noticeable differences among residents of different regions about the further geopolitical direction the country should move in. There are also serious problems connected to restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity and the model of coexistence with those living in the regions that are currently occupied, how to reach reconciliation and mutual understanding." ...
Joining the EU remains a strong desire among a majority of Ukrainians. In September 2016, 51% of those surveyed by the Rating Group put integration with the EU ahead of joining Russia's Customs Union or some other association. Still, in Rating's September 2015 survey, 57% of Ukrainians did so, and in September 2014, 59% did. This noticeable decline could be the result of a number of factors. For one thing, the Association Agreement did not have a noticeable impact on the standard of living of most Ukrainians. Many Ukrainians are also upset at what they see as the European Union's limp response to Russia's aggression against their country. And the way the granting of a visa-free regime to the EU has been dragged out for years and the obvious internal squabbles among the Union's members have also left their imprint on Ukrainians.
Ukraine is a very diverse country. Trump coming to an agreement with Putin that eases tensions instead of agreeing/dividing on spheres of influence would be their best hope.pretzelattack@3 re: "...rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression."Jen , Jul 1, 2018 6:27:35 PM | 9
I honestly have not heard anything about actual oppression - just that some Ukrainians and Tartars are still - today - not terribly happy with the secession/annexation/transfer. Acts of civil disobedience were generally individual, "I don't want to be part of Russia and I'm not signing these papers or paying taxes," kind of thing. I know any polls of Crimeans are noted to be terribly flawed - neither the pro-Russian nor the pro-Ukraine people trust anyone taking polls. They'll not answer or give an answer that seems to agree with whatever 'side' the pollster might be from.
I can't see how this issue could be fairly considered without at least an acknowledgement that in 1954, 1.1 million people in Crimea woke up one day to find they were now citizens of the Ukraine SSR. No polls, no vote, no discussion and no terribly good reasons.
https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/why-did-russia-give-away-crimea-sixty-years-agoPretzel Attack @ 3:karlof1 , Jul 1, 2018 6:47:59 PM | 10
If you need sources to back up your argument that the US helped to foment the Maidan uprising that overthrew the Yanukovych government, here are a couple that feature a video and a transcript of a phone conversation.
Information CLearing House: Victoria Nuland [former US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe during Obama administration] Admits: US Has Invested $5 Billion In The Development of Ukrainian "Democratic Institutions"
The article includes the video of the speech Nuland gave to the Washington press corp in December 2013 in which she talks about "investing" the $5 billion.
A transcript of the phone call between Nuland and the then US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who to select for the post-Yanukovych government in Kiev at this Global Research link:
This is the famous phone call in which Nuland utters her most memorable lines: "Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy [for deputy prime minister]" and "Fuck the EU".
I have also found details of the Korsun massacre incident that occurred on 20 February 2014. I had known about this massacre but in a hazy way and had thought only a few people had been killed. However this incident is much more grave and this was the stimulus for the Crimeans to organise their independence referendum and break away from Ukraine.
Eight buses of Crimean supporters of the Yanukovych government were returning to Crimea when the convoy was ambushed by Nazi thugs (who had known of the convoy's movements in advance). The thugs ordered everyone off the buses, beat them up and tortured them. Several people were killed.
More details of the Korsun incident at this Fort Russ link:
https://www.fort-russ.com/2015/02/korsun-massacre-anniversary-what-really/Crimeans are very pleased about their reaffiliation with Russia. To say otherwise is to lie, pure and simple.dh , Jul 1, 2018 6:51:06 PM | 11@3 You can add this to Jen @9...Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:02:07 PM | 12
"Americans prepared very seriously and thoroughly for their entrance into Crimea, – said a member of the Federation Council Committee on defense and security, Dmitry Sablin. – A year before the events on Maidan in Kiev, they made repair estimates of a number of buildings in Sevastopol and in Simferopol, where they planned to house the headquarters and intelligence units. Military airfields and garrisons, which then belonged to Ukraine, they considered as their own military installations and even sent instructions for their conversion to NATO standards. In the plans of the U.S. military April 2014 was the start time of upgrades in Crimea. It seemed to them that the issue has been settled. But the referendum had thrown off their plans, and on March 18, Crimea became Russian again, where the overseas guests were no longer welcome. Americans later themselves acknowledged that the Russians outplayed them on all counts. Well, and from helplessness imposed sanctions -- as a revenge for Crimea".
https://www.fort-russ.com/2016/03/how-russia-ruined-american-plans-in/Pretzel Attack @ 3:Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13
Here's a Russia Insight documentary in which survivors of the Korsun massacre help re-enact the incident:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ummUo7DEEzMPretzel Attack @ 3Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13 Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 7:40:45 PM | 14
You can add this to DH @ 11:
Renovation of Sevastopol School #5, Ukraine
Solicitation Number: N33191-13-R-1240
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Facilities Engineering Command
Location: NAVFAC Europe and Southwest Asia
This is the tender put out by the US Navy to invite private companies to propose renovation plans for a school for naval officers' children in the military base in Sevastopol.Sabine @6: On political/national/ethnic determinations.Jen , Jul 1, 2018 8:42:46 PM | 17
It is a messy situation. I had thought one of the reasons we hate the Nazis is because ethno-nationalism is evil. And yet, most of the West's leaders fully support Israel, and the AZ Empire is promoting Kurdish ethno-states in Iraq and Syria (though not in Turkey, where 50% of all Kurds live).
We were all ready to accept a referendum that would have seen Scotland secede from Great Britain, and yet when people in regions of 1991 Ukraine resisted the Western-fomented coup in 2014, and voted to secede, we are told they are terrorists to be crushed.
Most of the national borders in the Middle East and Africa were created by an elite in Great Britain and Europe, which divided families and crammed together enemies, creating the inevitable century of turmoil. And yet, here most of us support the sovereignty of some of those artificially-created neocolonial states.
Personally, I believe in the right to self-determination. If a group of people in a region choose to form, or dissolve, or maintain, or expand a political entity, then they should be allowed to. Such decisions should be made by the will of those people only.
What I see as illegitimate is people from outside that region interfering to force their will on others.Pretzel Attack @ 3:Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 9:32:44 PM | 19
I keep finding juicy things for you!
Here is a link to a documentary "Crimea for Dummies" by Los Angeles-based film-maker Miguel Francis Santiago in 2014. Watch it and judge for yourself whether Crimeans seem genuinely happy at being part of Russia again.
MFS also travelled to the Donbass and made a documentary about his journey there. I saw the documentary a couple of years ago and from memory I believe he met Givi, one of the Donbass military commanders. Givi died in early 2017 when a missile hit his office.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukQgVoTnAuEJen. Thanks for the great links on the Ukraine situation. Oliver Stone created a stunning documentary, that is the best on the subject I've seen: "Ukraine on Fire"Grieved , Jul 2, 2018 12:08:00 AM | 25
Unfortunately, it appears to be banned or at lest heavily censored within the US. I saw it on RT.
I found a version with foreign language over-dubbing which my ear finds difficult. But it does have CC in English.@3 pretzelattack
I second all of the very valuable responses made to you, but no story of Crimea would be complete without Crimea. The Way Home. Documentary by Andrey Kondrashev
I've seen several uploads of this documentary, which was made in 2015. But the resolution of this version is superb. I recommend it for everyone actually, and I'm happy to say that it's being hosted on the Vesti News channel - which is worth exploring in its own right.
This is the definitive story told from the inside of the people of Crimea forming a resistance force to take their land back from Ukraine. It was already happening but the Korsun massacre detailed above by commenters was the galvanizing point that showed the Crimeans that Kiev was coming to massacre it also, unless it resisted. And as everyone knew, Crimea was hated most of all, and its suffering would be far worse than that of Donbass.
Kondrashev is a popular Russian news commentator, and he interviews Putin extensively in the film. This was made one year after the Crimea restoration to Russia, after the events of that time, coordinated by Putin, were de-classified.
The documentary is a dramatic and stirring work. You will be totally in love with with Crimea and the Russian people by the end of it. And you will understand how the Maidan was a US color revolution in classical style. Your heart will jump when you see the snipers kill the hard-pressed Berkut. And it's a true story, made from real footage, and with parts reenacted by the actual people.
When the polite green men show up, in the very nick of time, you may find yourself weeping with gladness.
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Laguerre , Jul 2, 2018 4:37:58 AM | 37There was a distinct change earlier this year, after the second US fusillade of cruise missiles, and the Israeli bombing of "Iranian" bases in Syria.
We were all expecting further military action, but nothing happened, in particular no more Israeli action, although Iranian forces in Syria were hardly damaged.
Instead they started muttering about subversion of the Iranian state from the inside, which is what b is writing about here. That was a big sign that the all-out assault on Iran has been called off.
Why? Evidently because the military say no. The scenario was the same as the one back in 2012, the last time we thought to see Israeli aircraft getting permission from Saudi to do their bombing runs on Iran, but it didn't happen then, because the Israeli military were saying no. Evidently the position hasn't changed, I was relieved to discover, although the propagandists claimed the plan is all worked out now, and Iran has little defence.
Well, internal subversion of the regime, then. Hasn't the US been attempting to do precisely that for 40 years now, ever since the revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979? What are the conditions which mean that they are going to succeed now, when they've failed for 40 years?
The reason they endlessly get it wrong, of course, is that they listen to the exiles in the US and elsewhere. Those exiles still mainly come from the old upper classes, with their eternal sense of entitlement to power, and their air-tickets ready in their pockets to fly back to Tehran and take back their positions under the Shah. Because of course, the Iranian revolution was one of the first populist movements, where the religious regime appealed directly to "the people", and the upper classes were cut out. The system has worked well - "the people" have continued to vote for the regime, naturally being a majority.
I don't want to get into a historical disquisition (which in any case I've said before), but the reason this works is that there's history behind it - I'm pretty sure that the original Islamisation of Iran (I don't mean the Arab conquest, but the conversion of the country) was a popular revolt against the pre-Islamic nationalist aristocracy, who didn't pay any taxes. The present-day Iranian exiles attach themselves strongly to that old nationalist aristocracy, including most academics of Iranian origin in western universities. They don't seem to notice that the class they admire grindingly oppressed the poor, such that it led to a revolution.
sorry for that rant, as Debs would say.
Jun 26, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Mark2 @ 81, Daniel @ 82:
I am halfway through watching a film of US actor Peter von Berg travelling through the Donetsk People's Republic and meeting Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and various others to find out how the Donetsk rebels are creating a socialist state under a situation of war. The film is as much an implicit criticism of US society (and by extension, Western capitalist society generally) as it is an investigation of the reality on the ground on Donetsk, ignored by the Western MSM.
Von Berg visits a greenhouse farm growing tomatoes, a hospital and a factory among other places he travels to (including the capital, of course) in the DPR.
There is even a short history of the city of Donetsk and how it was founded by 19th-century Welsh engineer industrialist John Hughes, after whom it was originally named Yuzovka.
Posted by: Jen | Jun 25, 2018 7:06:44 PM | 89
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 2:44:25 PM | 2Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 30 - 40 , I here'd. Compared to Russia 5-8 ? Russia is in Syria by invitation to deal with rebels/terrorist's .America is now threatening both. Despite being there to attempt a regime change. Just who do they think they are ? The sooner they are stopped the better and the easier.karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 3:13:44 PM | 3Mark2 @2--ben , Jun 21, 2018 5:31:23 PM | 14
Russia intervened nowhere; the USSR intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Yeltsin's cabal intervened in Russia to preserve Bush's and Clinton's New World Order. USSR was invited into Afghanistan; Outlaw US Empire wasn't. An incomplete list from William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II . A graphic map based on Blum's book.Mark2@ 2: Here ya' go Mark:)karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 15
https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-listYesterday, Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Unfortunately, the Kremlin's recap of the meeting's currently incomplete, but what is recorded is instructive:Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 5:54:25 PM | 18
"Of course, we look at the Russian Federation as a founder of the United Nations and as a permanent member of the Security Council, but I would say that at the present moment we look at the Russian Federation as an indispensable element of the creation of a new multipolar world.
"To be entirely frank, these are not easy times for multilateralism and not easy times for the UN. And I think that after the Cold War and after a short period of unipolar world we are still struggling to find a way to have a structured, multipolar world with multilateral governmental institutions that can work. And this is something that worries me a lot and is something in which, I believe, the Russian Federation has a unique role to play."
Considering many think Guterres just an agent for the Outlaw US Empire, maybe his cited words will cause a reassessment. I'd like to know what followed. Apparently there was some discussion about Korea and the economic initiatives being openly discussed since RoK President Moon will arrive in Russia tomorrow.
Lavrov met with Guterres today, and his opening remarks shine a bit more light on what was discussed:
"As emphasised by President Putin, we have invariably supported, support, and will continue to support the UN, this unique universal organisation. We think highly of your intention, Mr Secretary-General, to raise the profile of the United Nations in world affairs, particularly in settling regional conflicts. As you noted yourself at the meeting in the Kremlin yesterday, this is largely dependent on the general state of the international system as a whole and the UN member states' readiness to act collectively, jointly, rather than unilaterally, and to pursue the goals enshrined in the UN Charter rather than self-centred,[sic] immediate aims.
"We note that you have consistently advocated the pooling of efforts by major players to deal with world problems. This is the logic of the UN Charter, specifically its clauses on the creation and powers of the UN Security Council. I hope that based on the values we share we will be able to successfully continue cooperation in the interests of solving international problems."
Lots of emphasis on the absolute necessity of making the UN Charter whole again and not allowing any one nation to make a mockery of it by pursuing its "self-centered, immediate aims."Ben @ 14pantaraxia , Jun 21, 2018 6:06:38 PM | 20
Thanks Ben. Yep that's what l thought reality would look like, that's my sanity safe for a while longer. Remember we are not alone!
Zanon @ 12
That is a perfect example of 'fake news' we can spot it here ! Or are we here now msm!@2 Mark2 'Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 'karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 6:19:58 PM | 21
Perhaps as relevant a question is how many countries are presently enjoying the beneficence of U.S. military operations?
According to Seymour Hersh in a recent interview on Democracy Now: " The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now."
Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRvLZ6y4PxM
This confirms a recent statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders: "meanwhile we are "fighting terrorism" in some 76 countries...'
The Jimmy Dore Show - Bernie's Amazing Foreign Policy Smackdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmcMzCIEV8YI'd Like this made into a poster ! From Southfront's reporting about a RICO lawsuit filed against Clinton and Co. Quite the charge sheet, although it lacks several crimes.Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 6:36:55 PM | 22Pantaraxia @ 20S , Jun 21, 2018 9:49:05 PM | 32
Wow that doubles what I was already shocked about ! And then of course there's the comercal operations destablising country's using greed as a weapon. Plus the banks, I'm sure South Africa would have been a real success if they'd kept the banking curuption out. Time for immoral capitalism to fall.
Also don't you just hate victim blaming.There that's me done. Grrr@b: I know you're just one man and can't do everything, but it would be wonderful if you could cover the history of hacking accusations against Russia. No one lays out a sequence of events better than you.
Just yesterday, another accusation has been leveled against Russia by the head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen: German intelligence sees Russia behind hack of energy firms - media report (Reuters). It's a serious accusation, and one would expect a serious proof. However, no proof has been given except that "it fits the Russian modus operandi". Also, the fact that the alleged attack has been named "Berserk Bear" by some unknown Western analyst. Apparently, that's enough proof by today's standards.
There is a critical lack of independent thinking and skepticism in the international computer security circles nowadays. The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation.
Jun 18, 2018 | www.unz.com
Beckow , June 16, 2018 at 12:24 am GMTIf Kiev wants to attack Donbas they better hurry. After World Cup, and definitely next year when the pipelines bypassing Ukraine will be ready, Ukraine's strategic situation will get worse. We are in a transition phase: sh..t happened in 2013-15 that is impossible to undo, but there were fortunately constraints on all sides that prevented a meltdown. In a year or two most of those constraints will be gone.Mattheus , June 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Saker is correct that EU countries will not work with Russia. Blaming it all on Washington was always stupid – there are forces in Europe, in all countries, who want a confrontation with Russia. Any event, real or fake, will be used to escalate. West cannot lose this one without another fight. And if they sit on their hands, they will eventually lose with a disillusioned Ukraine and slowly disintegrating EU. Populist energy needs to be re-directed eastward, and for that a more aggressive policy is required. This is not pessimism, there simply is no way for EU elite to climb down. How could UK make up with Russia without looking like complete idiots? Or Macron and Merkel? The hostility is at this point inherent in the situation – what started out as a badly thought-out attempt to get some quick goodies (bases in Crimea, Nato expansion, sell weapons) has evolved into a real death spiral.
We are one Franz Ferdinand moment away from a catastrophe. Let's enjoy the games while we still can. Trump knows this, so he is trying desperately to organize a summit or send some messages of conciliation. But he is powerless and it might be too late for that. Hubris never dissipates, it requires a disaster and an elite turnover to cure hubris.Saker is once again completely wrong. His theories fall short to explain lots of real events. He got hooked on his "Anglo-Zionist" theory and "one Hegemon", which is far from explaining the reality on the ground. There is no one single hegemon, but two powerful interest groups in the west. One of the power centers is dominated by the Rothschilds from the City of London and the other ruled by the Rockerfellers which is based in the US.byrresheim , June 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm GMT
The powers described above are sometimes working in collusion but sometimes work against each other (They were in collusion during the Soviet Afghan war for instance). Currently, we don't see a collusion but a war being waged in between these two groups. I think it is highly self evident, so much so that it is happening almost all in the open. In the modern history we haven't witnessed such a openly fought war ever before (between these two powers). All is at stake and the war in between these two is vicious. Thus you can explain Trump's attitude towards EU, everlasting character assasination of Trump by certain opposing circles in the US, high level resignations, the state of confusion of Nato and much more. If this theory is right (and I think it is much more viable than any other theory that I came across in the Alt-Med), this makes Russia firmly embedded into one of the camps. Unfortunately, the position that Russia took makes him not a sovereign power but on contrary puts him into a subservient role. The late actions of Russia, especially in Syria, is quite telling. I know people who admire Russia get quite frustrated when they hear such a scenario and outcome, but this is possibly the only way Putin believes that Russia can survive. Thus it explains his latest house clean-up of Euroasian integrists. Even worse, if you believe in this scenario, it brings Russia and China against each other especially in the long run. This scenario also put a full stop to the idealist Euroasian multi-polar world order.
Here is the link to an older video in Russian with English subtitles. The guy's name is Andrei Fursov and he has some interesting things to say regarding this subject. This interview was just before Obama was elected but is still quite relevent. His newer videos seems to have lost steam, possibly because he is working for some state connected Russian institutions and think-thanks and thus I think he is somewhat restricted. After all it is again the famous "Game Theory", isn't it?As long as the Author keeps talking about Ukronazis, we know that he is not at all prepared to see any problems on the Russian side at all.Beckow , June 17, 2018 at 1:39 am GMT
Which serves devalue his argument, even if there are a lot of valid points otherwise.@Philip Owen
I don't think you realize that armies need supplies. To break into Donbas cities would be hard enough, but to re-supply them would be impossible. Civilians would mostly evacuate, so there would be little to 'hide in'. Kiev cannot win militarily as long as Russia opposes it. Russia can always blast their bases from air, or with missiles. Don't kid yourself, if Russia has the will, they will prevail.
Since you mentioned 2014, there was a perfect opportunity for Maidanistas to avoid this. All they had to do was to be friendly and accommodating to its Russian minority. Offer them autonomy, re-assure them, promise that trade and ties with Russia would continue. Kiev did the exact opposite, an extremely bad tactic. US kept on telling them to cool it, that one doesn't win by attacking before ready. But in Kiev emotions prevailed, and so we are where we are.
Sooner or later a more accommodating government in Kiev will try the 'let bygones be bygones' tactic on Russia. If we are lucky enough to make it that far.
Dec 26, 2017 | medium.com
So-called Ukrainian 'maidans' have bored the world community to death. And the public has been taking the protests currently under way in Kiev for no more than traditional autumn and winter open-air parties, similar to the Parisian 'fire shows'. Meanwhile, much more significant confrontation has been taking place in Kiev, alongside with the circus of ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. An inner conflict between two anticorruption and power-wielding departments of the country is long overdue. In their relations with the media, both representatives of those organizations and members of various Verkhovna Rada fractions have been describing specific processes that are taking place in Ukraine as 'Makhnovshchina' or a war of all against all, literally speaking.
After returning from the international anti-corruption forum organized by the U.S. State Department, Nazar Holodnitsky, head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) of Ukraine, stated in an interview to TSN , the Ukrainian TV channel, that a standoff of law enforcement agencies may escalate into a war harmful to entire Ukraine. Thus, a conflict between the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) has evolved into a hybrid war with interrogations involving physical and mental pressure and mutual accusations of all sorts of evils. Delegates of both sides have simultaneously visited their U.S. sponsors and come back comforted with just another assurance of '1000% support'.
Such confrontation of the government institutions raises eyebrows, I must say. State Department has publicly been sympathized with both the corruption fighters and the General Prosecutor's Office upon condition of the settlement of conflict by legal means and punishment of officials guilty of criminal charges. Meanwhile, the FBI has also been drawn in this undeclared war. In June 2016, the FBI and NABU adopted the Memorandum of Understanding, which allows the FBI to assist NABU and SAP in the matter of investigations and implementation of anti-corruption actions. The Bureau's special agents and analysts have been working in NABU on a temporary rotational basis.
The mere presence of the FBI suggests an idea about another U.S. security service which has been standing invisibly by in Ukraine, since it gained independence. This is the CIA, a classic rival of the FBI. The very secret visit in 2014 of the former Central Intelligence Agency chief John O. Brennan preceded the beginning of active hostilities in Ukraine. The CIA stood behind the appointment of the recent Kiev government. It had also protected the acting president of the country from rivals, up to a certain time. For instance, they conduced to the resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former rather ambitious Prime Minister of Ukraine who was in conflict with Petro Poroshenko and running for his post.
That helps explain the real cause of furious intransigence of NABU and the General Prosecutor's Office throwing wild accusations at each other. They have virtually been used by power-wielding structures and political forces of another state for a showdown. A never-ending internal fighting in the American national security environment has become the talk of the town being eventually accreted with new dirty wash. It seems that it has become more acute, with the passing of time.
For example, the FBI dealt a hard blow to the CIA bringing 12-count charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, and other against Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his business associate, Richard Gates. His other partner, Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager was involved as well. Manafort was renowned for his associations with the CIA and for consulting the Party of Regions which was led by Victor Yanukovych. It became clear who was he FBI's source of such detailed and valuable data after the statements by Artem Sytnyk , Director of NABU and Serhiy Leshchenko , a Ukrainian MP.
Nevertheless, the CIA won at this stage of confrontation, because Trump came to power. Even support to the current President of the USA prior to the elections wasn't of much assistance to the FBI Director Comey.
History has witnessed a number of episodes when Ukraine was a stage for showdown by political forces from other countries. It never ended peacefully. As far back as in the XVII century Ukrainian territory had become a theatre of operations owing to the bloody strife between Polish hetmans (high military commanders in the Army of the Kingdom of Poland) of Ukrainian and Cossack origin. As a result, lands of the Zaporizhian Host voluntarily pledged allegiance to Russia.
During World War II the Ukrainian people suffered much harder. At that time the Third Reich was intensely seeking for ways to weaken the USSR, even before it invaded Poland in 1939. It was decided to use the ancient divide-and rule tactics proven by Julius Caesar, involving gradual tearing away of territories with malcontent population. Ukraine was considered the most prospective area for fomenting disaffection.
However, there also was both ideological and political discord among the highest ranks of the Third Reich. Thus, Alfred Rosenberg, the main ideologue of Nazism, along with admiral Wilhelm Canaris (who was accused of 'spiritual instigation' of a plot against Hitler) were planning the establishment of Ukrainian buffer state controlled by the Third Reich. Using such promises they managed to recruit Andriy Melnyk, a central figure in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and notorious Stepan Bandera who, just like Mr. Yatsenyuk, was striving to lead the government in independent Ukrainian state. If the second one kept clinging to his aims all the time, Melnyk was good at matching to desires of his sponsors from Hitler's surrounding. When Himmler and Koch didn't recognize Rosenberg's ideas and wanted to weaken his power in the National Socialist Worker's Party, Melnyk was quick to assure them of his willingness to cooperate on any terms, especially when they let him know that Fuhrer didn't like the idea of a Ukrainian buffer state.
It is a paradox that those relations that had developed both within various branches of OUN-UPA and the Third Reich senior ranks coordinating them were similar to the recent situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian nationalist leaders were used not only for German purposes, but also for elimination of competitors in power. For instance, Rosenberg, after all, had to abandon his point of view. Many of his influential followers resigned just like chief Comey did to the delight of chief Pompeo, this May. Although NABU, the organization most thoroughly maintaining a steady U.S. course prepared for Ukraine, has been successfully continuing investigations, digging into Poroshenko who fell into disfavor for his poor record. And here you are, Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a close acquaintance of the U.S. president's national security advisor McMaster and Secretary of Defense Mattis has indirectly supported Saakashvili's demonstration. In September, Saakashvili hanged out happily with contenders of the recent president in future election Valentyn Nalyvaichenko and Andriy Sadoviy, in Lviv. Now a big friend of Senator McCain Yulia Timoshenko and a number of Verkhovna Rada MPs endorse him.
This mess of warring parties seems to be disordered and extremely headachy. The situation has been much worse for the number of competing forces and foreign organizations standing behind them in Ukraine was much greater during the Third Reich and it continues to be so at present. The recent Ukrainian bellum omnium contra omnes has been a reflection of competitive battle between various security and governmental agencies in the USA.
A single distinct and unequivocal fact is that being a neighbour of such a huge state as Russia, Ukraine was always suffering from those who wish to weaken that influential country. Over and over again throughout Ukrainian history the country was exploited, with nationalist sentiments artificially ignited and false promises made. Even 'humane' Rosenberg's scheme ascribed Ukraine the role of a mere supplier of raw materials and a buffer state between Germany and Eastern Slavic countries without any right to independence.
As such, the USA regards Ukraine as an administered territory which is useful for strategic and economic aims. They skillfully manipulate Kiev government with carrot and stick. Undesirable Ukrainian political puppet might be branded as corrupt and replaced by more manageable nominee, at any time. There is always a possibility to initiate another blood shedding Maidan with oppressions and civil war, in case of urgency. Today's Ukraine is no freer than it was in 1941, during the invasion of Nazi Germany. Melnyks, banderas, hetmans skoropadskies have been replaced by new 'heroes', who never changed their essence. For evanescent promises and artificially inflated ambitions they've been tearing the country apart without mercy either to each other, or their countrymen. Meanwhile, the world community has been watching with approval the beacon of democracy vigorously setting things to order in 'dark and ignorant' Ukraine. Each of them thinking, 'Better them than me.'
Jun 15, 2018 | www.unz.com
Mikhail , Website June 14, 2018 at 10:28 pm GMT@Carlton MeyerSteve in Greensboro , June 14, 2018 at 10:42 pm GMT
Peters has been hardcore anti-Russian and anti-Serb. His views are quite collapsible. Regarding one of his mass media appearances
Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, received well deserved praise for taking to task the permeating anti-Russian biases. The highlight of Carlson's exchanges was his encounter with Ralph Peters, who for years has spouted grossly inaccurate propaganda against Russia. Antiwar.com and Russia Insider, are among the counter-establishment English language venues commenting on the Carlson-Peters discussion. The US foreign policy establishment realist leaning National Interest carried a lengthy piece on Carlson's challenge to the neocon/neolib foreign policy perceptions. For the record, more can and should be said in reply to Peter's comments.
Peters falsely claims that Russia hasn't made a concerted effort in confronting ISIS. In one of his more accurate moments, CNN's Wolf Blitzer said that the ISIS claimed shoot down of a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt, was in response to Russia's war against ISIS. You've to be either a liar or clueless to not recognize why Russia has actively opposed ISIS. The latter sees Russia as an enemy, while having a good number of individuals with roots in Russia and some other parts of the former USSR.
Peters' characterization of Russia targeting civilian areas is disingenuous. Over the years, the matter of collateral damage is something periodically brought up in response to those killed by US and Israeli military actions.
Peters offers no proof to his suspect claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin kills journalists. There're numerous anti-Putin advocates alive and well in Russia. That country does have a violence problem. Recall what the US was like in the 1960s thru early 1970′s. For that matter, Bernie Sanders isn't blamed for the pro-Sanders person who attempted to kill Republican lawmakers.
Given the situations concerning Kosovo and northern Cyprus, Peters is being a flat out hypocrite regarding Crimea. Donbass is a civil conflict involving some Russian support for the rebels, who're overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR. These individuals have a realistic basis to oppose the Kiev based regimes that came after the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian president.
During the American Revolution, most of the pro-British fighters were said to be colonists already based in America. Furthermore, the American revolutionaries received significant support from France. With these factors in mind, the Donbass rebels don't seem less legit than the American revolutionaries.
Some Kiev regime elements positively reference the 1995 Croat ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs (known as Operation Storm) as a solution for ending the rebel position in Donbass. Russia doesn't seek a massive refugee problem in Donbass and some other parts of the former Ukrainian SSR. As is, a sizeable number of Ukrainian residents have fled to Russia.
Putin isn't anti-US in the manner claimed by Peters. Moreover, Peters is clearly more anti-Russian (in a narrow minded way at that) than what can be reasonably said of how Putin views the US. Putin's obvious differences with neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters isn't by default anti-US. He was the first foreign leader to console the US following 9/11. The Russian president has been consistently on record for favoring better US-Russian ties (even inquiring about Russia joining NATO at one point), thereby explaining why he has appeared to have preferred Trump over Clinton.
Some (including Trump) disagree with that view, which includes the notion that the Russians (by and large) prefer predictability. As a general rule this is otherwise true. However, Clinton's neocon/neolib stated views on Russia have been to the point where many Russians felt willing to take a chance with Trump, whose campaign included a comparatively more sympathetic take of their country. At the same time, a good number of Russians questioned whether Trump would maintain that stance.@Rurik
I suppose many of us saw the Tucker with Max Boot. Boot seemed unhinged, really emotionally overwrought by Tucker raising commonsensical challenges to his neocon orthodoxy. Sad, angry man.
Jun 13, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Synoia , June 13, 2018 at 10:25 amChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 1:28 pm
Early measures included the removal of exchange-rate and capital controls
How does a county manage what it does not control?Scott1 , June 13, 2018 at 6:34 pm
Exactly see Trilemma .Lorenzo , June 13, 2018 at 6:31 pm
Thanks for the link. I will be spending some time thinking of what Argentina would best employ as best practices from where it is.
Would they be best off if they stopped issuing such high paying bonds? Should they pay them all off and stop with it. It does appear to me that issuing bond after bond is one of the single most dangerous things you can do.
It would appear to me to be a superior practice to sell what you produce for the best price you can get on the open markets and dictate the value of your currency.
I'll have to do some more study here.
Again, thanks for the link.ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 9:15 pm
You're uttering the discourse of the most recalcitrant neo-liberal cum austerity-fundamentalists around.
The US doesn't tax soybean exports. Argentina needs to maximize its exports to earn foreign exchange.'
it's misleading to say the least to draw a comparison between how the US handles soybean exports and Argentina does it. They're around a quarter of the latter's exports, barely a hundredth of the latter's.
The US will never have forex issues, Argentina does have them, and they are very serious. You make it as if simply exporting commodities will fill the country's economy with USD, while in truth those dollars will be neatly parked in tax heavens. Eliminating tax and controls over Argentina's biggest exports -agricultural commodities- is in practice as if these commodities were produced not in this country but in some foreign territory over which only the very few who hold most of the land are sovereign. Which is what the current administration has been doing for the past two years.
You also make it as if the current situation where the value of the peso is given over completely to whatever short-term speculators feel like doing with it whenever LEBACs are due is more desirable than the capital controls imposed by the previous government. These prevented the hurtful rapid rise we're seeing in the exchange rate and reduced the negative consequences of the fiscal deficit thus allowing significant investment in and expansion of the real economy.
Addressing the fiscal deficit through increased value added and income tax is something that clearly benefits the owner over the working class and depresses private consumption. I can only sarcastically wonder who would want such a thing.
I don't feel the need or the duty to defend the previous government, but victimization of the Sociedad Rural is something I just lack the words to condemn strongly enoughMickey Hickey , June 13, 2018 at 4:24 pm
NP. You're welcome. See my comment below. Unfortunately, the only way to win this game is not to play (by the vulture established rules).JTMcPhee , June 13, 2018 at 5:39 pm
Argentina is probably the most self sufficient country on earth. It has everything, fertile land that produces an abundance of wheat, barley, oats, rye, wine grapes. As well as oil, gas. uranium, silver, gold, lead, copper, zinc. Foreigners are well aware of the wealth in Argentina and are more than willing to lend to Argentinian governments and companies. This is why Cristina Kirchner refused to give in to the US vulture funds as it dissuaded foreigners from believing that reckless lending would always be rewarded. Macri ponied up, restarting the old familiar economic doom cycle. As always its the old dog for the long road and the pup for the puddle. Macri is now in a place that he chose, the puddle. As long as foreig lenders remain reckless Argentina will remain mired in the mud, well short of its potential. I was last there in 2008 when the country was booming. When I heard of Macri's plan to pay the vulture funds I knew they were headed for disaster. This is just the beginning.Wayne Harris , June 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm
Those "foreign lenders" can't be called "reckless." Some, maybe most among them always seem to profit from the looting, whether by "bailouts" or "backstops" from governments like the US that for "geopolitical reasons" facilitate that lending, or by extortion after the first-round lenders (who know the risks, of course -- they are big boys and girls after all) have been forestalled.
Call them "wreckers," maybe. Like early denizens of the Florida Keys, and other places, who set fires or put up lamps that resembled lighthouses to lure passing ships onto the sands and rocks where their cargoes and the valuables of their drowned passengers and crews could be stripped.ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 8:33 pm
"so-called vulture funds"?ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Why is any of this still "surprising" to anyone?! Most countries in the world (non G7/G8) are forced to go into foreign debt in order to pursue their "development" initiatives. They are told they can export themselves out of trouble but the "free trade" (more like unfair trade!) mantra puts them at a distinct disadvantage – "unequal exchange" was the term Marx used for it.
Economist Ha Joon Chang popularized the term "ladder kicking" to describe the way in which most developed countries used tariffs and trade restrictions to ascent to the top but are all for "free trade" now.
Once again, so long as "Original Sin" is a reality, there is little hope. Keynes' BANCOR was the idea to begin to fix this, but short of some other global currency initiative, we're left to the International Finance Vultures as the primary arbiters of what's possible.
Jun 13, 2018 | www.unz.com
In truth, infinite war is a strategic abomination, an admission of professional military bankruptcy. Erster General-Quartiermeister Ludendorff might have endorsed the term, but Ludendorff was a military fanatic.
Check that. Infinite war is a strategic abomination except for arms merchants, so-called defense contractors, and the " emergency men " (and women) devoted to climbing the greasy pole of what we choose to call the national security establishment. In other words, candor obliges us to acknowledge that, in some quarters, infinite war is a pure positive, carrying with it a promise of yet more profits, promotions, and opportunities to come. War keeps the gravy train rolling. And, of course, that's part of the problem.
Who should we hold accountable for this abomination? Not the generals, in my view. If they come across as a dutiful yet unimaginative lot, remember that a lifetime of military service rarely nurtures imagination or creativity. And let us at least credit our generals with this: in their efforts to liberate or democratize or pacify or dominate the Greater Middle East they have tried every military tactic and technique imaginable. Short of nuclear annihilation, they've played just about every card in the Pentagon's deck -- without coming up with a winning hand. So they come and go at regular intervals, each new commander promising success and departing after a couple years to make way for someone else to give it a try.
... ... ...
Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: "Enough! Stop this madness!" Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation's gratitude and the support of the electorate.
Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity. No doubt Saudi and Israeli leaders will cheer, Europeans who remember their Great War will scratch their heads in wonder, and the Chinese will laugh themselves silly. Meanwhile, issues of genuinely strategic importance -- climate change offers one obvious example -- will continue to be treated like an afterthought. As for the gravy train, it will roll on.
Anon  Disclaimer , June 7, 2018 at 9:57 pm GMT"The United States of Amnesia."unseated , June 7, 2018 at 11:00 pm GMT
That's actually a universal condition.@Andrei Martyanovc matt , June 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm GMT
1. WW1 had total casualties (civilian and military) of around 40M. WW2 had total casualties of 60M. So yes WW2 was more deadly but "pales in comparison" is hardly justified, especially relative to population.
2. Marshal Foch, 28 June, 1919: "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years."
WW1 inevitably led to WW2."Enough! Stop this madness!"anonymous  Disclaimer , June 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm GMT
The only politician with a modest national stage to have said that (and meant it) in the last 50 years was Ron Paul, who was booed and mocked as crazy. Trump made noises in that direction, but almost as soon as the last words of his oath echoed off into the brisk January afternoon, he seemed to change his tune. Whether he never meant it, or decided to avoid the JFK treatment, who knows.
No, as I believe Will Rogers said, democracy is that form of government where the people get what they want, good and hard.@c mattCarlton Meyer , Website June 8, 2018 at 4:02 pm GMT
I supported Ron Paul in 2012. But after his candidacy was crookedly subverted by the Establishment (cf., Trump's) I vowed never to vote again for anyone that I believe unworthy of the power wielded through the public office. I haven't voted since, and don't expect to until the Empire collapses.Kirk Douglas starred in a great film about fighting in World War I: "Paths of Glory." I highly recommend the film for its accuracy, best described in Wiki by the reaction of governments:Mike P , June 8, 2018 at 4:33 pm GMT
On its release, the film's anti-military tone was subject to criticism and censorship.
In France, both active and retired personnel from the French military vehemently criticized the film -- and its portrayal of the French Army -- after it was released in Belgium. The French government placed enormous pressure on United Artists, (the European distributor) to not release the film in France. The film was eventually shown in France in 1975 when social attitudes had changed.
In Germany, the film was withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival to avoid straining relations with France; it was not shown for two years until after its release.
In Spain, Spain's right-wing government of Francisco Franco objected to the film. It was first shown in 1986, 11 years after Franco's death.
In Switzerland, the film was censored, at the request of the Swiss Army, until 1970.
At American bases in Europe, the American military banned it from being shown.TG , June 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm GMT
No, it's not the generals who have let us down, but the politicians to whom they supposedly report and from whom they nominally take their orders.
I'd say both. The generals have greatly assisted in stringing along the trusting public, always promising that victory is just around the corner, provided the public supports this or that final effort. Petraeus in particular willingly played his part in misleading the public about both Iraq and Afghanistan. His career would be a great case study for illuminating what is wrong with the U.S. today.
As to the apparent failure of the Afghanistan war – one must be careful to separate stated goals from real ones. What kind of "lasting success" can the U.S. possibly hope for there? If they managed to defeat the Taliban, pacify the country, install a puppet regime to govern it, and then leave, what would that achieve? The puppet regime would find itself surrounded by powers antagonistic to the U.S., and the puppets would either cooperate with them or be overthrown in no time. The U.S. are not interested in winning and leaving – they want to continue disrupting the peaceful integration of East, West, and South Asia. Afghanistan is ideally placed for this purpose, and so the U.S. are quite content with dragging out that war, as a pretext for their continued presence in the region.An interesting and thoughtful piece.Left Gatekeeper Dispatch , June 8, 2018 at 9:10 pm GMT
I would disagree on one point though: "Today, Washington need not even bother to propagandize the public into supporting its war. By and large, members of the public are indifferent to its very existence."
This is an error. A majority of the American public think that wasting trillions of dollars on endless pointless foreign wars is a stupid idea, and they think that we would be better off spending that money on ourselves. It's just that we don't live in a democracy, and the corporate press constantly ignores the issue. But just because the press doesn't mention something, doesn't mean that it does not exist.
So during the last presidential election Donald Trump echoed this view, why are we throwing away all this money on stupid wars when we need that money at home? For this he was attacked as a fascist and "literally Hitler" (really! It's jaw-dropping when you think about it). Despite massive propaganda attacking Trump, and a personal style that could charitably be called a jackass, Trump won the election in large part because indeed most American don't like the status quo.
After the election, Trump started to deliver on his promises – and he was quickly beaten down, his pragmatist nationalist advisors purged and replaced with defense-industry chickenhawks, and now we are back to the old status quo. The public be damned.
No, the American people are not being propagandized into supporting these wars. They are simply being ignored.When are you going to stop insulting our intelligence with this Boy's State civics crap? You're calling on political leaders to stop war, like they don't remember what CIA did to JFK, RFK, Daschle, or Leahy. Or Paul Wellstone.James Kabala , June 9, 2018 at 11:24 pm GMT
Your national command structure, CIA, has impunity for universal jurisdiction crime. They can kill or torture anyone they want and get away with it. That is what put them in charge. CIA kills anybody who gets in their way. You fail to comprehend Lenin's lesson: first destroy the regime, then you can refrain from use of force. Until you're ready to take on CIA, your bold phrases are silent and odorless farts of feckless self-absorption. Sack up and imprison CIA SIS or GTFO.@Carlton Meyerexiled off mainstreet , June 10, 2018 at 1:15 am GMT
Since Spain was smart enough to stay out of both World Wars (as was Switzerland, of course), I wonder what Franco was thinking when he banned the film. Anyway, the final scene may be the best final scene in the history of movies.This writer, a retired military officer whose son died in service to the yankee imperium seems to have as good a grasp as any if not a better grasp than any about the nature of the yankee system of permanent war.smellyoilandgas , June 13, 2018 at 4:48 am GMT@TGMr. Anon , June 13, 2018 at 4:49 am GMT
While I agree the slave-American is ignored, I think the elected, salaried members of the elected government are also ignored.. The persons in charge are Pharaohs and massively powerful global in scope corporations.
Abe Lincoln, McKinnley, Kennedy discovered that fact in their fate.
Organized Zionism was copted by the London bankers and their corporations 1897, since then a string of events have emerged.. that like a Submarine, seeking a far off target, it must divert to avoid being discovered, but soon, Red October returns to its intended path. here the path is to take the oil from the Arabs.. and the people driving that submarine are extremely wealthy Pharaohs and very well known major corporations.
I suggest to quit talking about the nation states and their leaders as if either could beat their way out of a wet paper sack. instead starting talking about the corporations and Pharaohs because they are global.The yawning silence accompanying the centennial of the Great War is baffling to me. It was the pivotal event of the 20th century. It was the beginning of the unmanning, the demoralization of Western Civilization. It was the calamity that created the World we inhabit today.MarkinPNW , June 13, 2018 at 5:49 am GMT
I've heard nary a peep about it in the U.S. over the last four years. It's as if it were as remote in people's consciousness as the Punic Wars.The World Wars (I and II) can be seen as an increasingly desperate attempt of a fading British Empire to hold on to and maintain its power and hegemony, with the material, human, and moral cost of the wars actually accelerating the empire's demise.animalogic , June 13, 2018 at 8:14 am GMT
Likewise, the current endless "War on Terra" can be seen as an increasingly desperate attempt of a fading American Empire to hold on to and maintain its power and hegemony, again with the material, human, and moral cost of this war actually accelerating its demise.
But in the meantime, in both examples, the Bankers and the MIC just keep reaping their profits, even at the expense of the empires they purportedly support and defend.@Mike PTom Welsh , June 13, 2018 at 10:05 am GMT
Good points Mike P.
Author says: "strategy has ceased to exist".
In a traditional sense the author is right. Strategy is the attainment of political goals, within existing constraints. (diplomatic, political, resources etc)
"Goals" traditionally means "victories". (WWI is a great example of the sometimes dubious idea of victory)
Has the US ceased to have a strategy ? No. (Their strategy is myopic & self destructive – ie it's not a "good" strategy)
The US strategy is based on two core principles: (1) Maintain – extend hegemony over whole world. (Resources, military etc etc) (2) Act as Israel's Golom. Afghanistan, at (relatively) minimal cost, US controls key land mass (& with possible future access to fantastic resources). Threaten, mess up Russian – Chinese ambitions in this area. Iraq: Israeli enemy, strategic location, resource extraction. Syria: Israeli enemy, strategic location, key location for resource transfer to markets (EU esp). Deny Russia an ally. Libya: who cares ? Gaddafi was a pain in the arse. Iran: Israeli enemy, fantastic resources, hate them regardless.
Of course this (very abbreviated) view of US "strategy" is open to the criticisms that it's both dumb & evil. As if US establishment cares. Compared to cost of traditional "war" it's pretty cheap ( which is funny, because it's such a yummy gravy train for the 1% sorry, actually, forgot the FIRST core principle of US strategy: enrich all the "right" people)'There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one–on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful–as usual–will shout for the war. The pulpit will– warily and cautiously–object–at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.annamaria , June 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers–as earlier– but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation–pulpit and all– will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception'.
- Satan, in Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger" (1908)@Carlton Meyer
European politicians, the war on terror, and the triumph of Bankers United: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/06/12/europe-brainwashed-normalize-relations-russia/
"Europe has not had an independent existence for 75 years. European countries do not know what it means to be a sovereign state. Without Washington European politicians feel lost, so they are likely to stick with Washington .
Russian hopes to unite with the West in a war against terrorism overlook that terrorism is the West's weapon for destabilizing independent countries that do not accept a unipolar world."
The world is ripe for barter exchange. Screw the money changers.
Apr 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. The distinguishing characteristic of voluntarism is that it gives pride of place to the will as such, to the will as power, the will abstracted from everything else, but especially abstracted from the good. The notion of the good is necessarily inclusive of the whole, of all sides. Concern exclusively for oneself goes by a different name.
The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine on October 17, 2004:
We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This oft-quoted statement is naively assumed to have been the expression of a single moment in American politics, rather than a summation of its ethos by one of its shrewder and more self-aware practitioners. The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one's will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one's own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one's will.
We can see this voluntarism at work among our forebears. The Skripal affair in Britain led to almost immediate action -- the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States alone -- well before the facts of this dubious incident, which has led to zero deaths, could be established. Indeed, when the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested first establishing what had happened and only then acting, he was widely accused of weakness. When one is "history's actor," action mustn't be delayed. That, after all, is the whole point.
The suffering of innocents should always concern us. But in Syria, the facts regarding who is the guilty party, including in this latest case of a gas attack in Douma, are very far from having been established. What's more, though reputable investigators such as Hans Blix and MIT's Theodore Postol have cast serious doubt on the reliability of the evidence linking such attacks to Assad's government, official accounts in the U.S. proceed as if there is not the slightest controversy about the matter.
For America's voluntarist order, whether these events as described are true in the objective sense is of no more importance than whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You will recall that, just prior to the Iraq invasion, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah some 83 times in order to oblige him to confess a nonexistent connection between Saddam's Iraq, al-Qaeda, and chemical weaponry. That is voluntarism in action right there. "We're an empire now and we create our own reality." It was not a one-off. It is now the norm to make sure the facts are fixed to match the desired policy.
Voluntarism is the fruit of an anti-civilization, and of a technological way of knowing, as the great Canadian philosopher George Grant put it, that bears a striking resemblance to what C.S. Lewis described in his pre- Nineteen Eighty-Four anti-utopia That Hideous Strength . In that novel, the institution called N.I.C.E., like the U.S. foreign policy establishment today, is essentially a voluntarist bureaucracy run by men without culture, trained in technical sciences and sociology-like "disciplines" and "law" understood in a purely formalistic sense, who assume human affairs are understandable as aggregates of facts without value. Such "men without chests" (Lewis's phrase) live in a world where the good and the true have forever been severed of their mutually defining link. The resulting, essentially irrational world they inhabit is one that has only one logic left: that of will and power.
It is an American empire where we create our own reality, the mirror image of ourselves, and it is indeed precisely hideous. If the builders of empire continue to get their way, it may all soon enough come to a violent and ignominious end. Historians, if they still exist, will marvel at our folly.
Paul Grenier, an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues, is founder of the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy.
Annette April 23, 2018 at 1:30 pmFor another outstanding account of 'a technological way of knowing', check out Jacques Ellul's 'The Technological Society'.Steph , says: April 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm
Not only was this incident fabricated, it was known the preparations were known in advance. I remember reading an article two weeks before Douma about the preparations for the fabrication. Felix Somary was quite right in writing in July 1914 that "the information available to insiders, and precisely the most highly placed among them, is all to often misleading" (quoted in Jim Rickards "The Road to Ruin").An excellent recommendation, Annette! And for the religiously-minded, Ellul's theological companion piece, The Meaning of the City, is also very good.Emil Bogdan , says: April 23, 2018 at 2:57 pmVolunteerism, voluntarism, the mysterious workings of the "will," we're famous for all of it, but this is not so uniquely American, Rove's comment reminds me of something that Tolstoy might put in Napoleon's mouth, actually. Pride, plus the tunnel-vision typical of technocrats, academics, specialistsMark Thomason , says: April 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Karl Rove is a man without a chest–a "chickenhawk," a proud and willful man puffed up on ignorance and willpower, wrecking the world–and nothing more than that, unless he wills it to be.Volunteerism is two things, Power to the Ladies Who Lunch, and we don't have to pay for a social safety net because somebody else will provide it voluntarily for free.
It has no larger meaning, and no role in foreign policy.
The foreign policy described here is just Smedley Butler's "racket" using US foreign policy and forces for private ends.
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Andersie , 13 Apr 2018 14:45I've just stumbled on this absolute gem, from the New York Times, 17/1/2003:
"Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show
(1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja [a 1988 chemical attack on Kurdish villages that killed 5000 civilians], and
(2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."
Apr 10, 2018 | www.foreignaffairs.com
Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up. Russia, meanwhile, is a damaged yet still formidable great power whose rulers cannot be intimidated into allowing Ukraine to enter the Western orbit. Hence the standoff. No external power or aid package can solve Ukraine's problems or compensate for its inherent vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Russia. Nor would sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine's brave but ragtag volunteer fighters and corrupt state structures improve the situation; in fact, it would send it spiraling further downward, by failing to balance Russian predominance while giving Moscow a pretext to escalate the conflict even more. Rather, the way forward must begin with a recognition of some banal facts and some difficult bargaining.
Russia's seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine do not challenge the entire post-1945 international order. The forward positions the Soviet Union occupied in the heart of Europe as a result of defeating Nazi Germany were voluntarily relinquished in the early 1990s, and they are not going to be reoccupied. But nor should every detail of the post–Cold War settlement worked out in 1989–91 be considered eternal and inviolate. That settlement emerged during an anomalous time. Russia was flat on its back but would not remain prostrate forever, and when it recovered, some sort of pushback was to be expected.
Something similar happened following the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, many of the provisions of which were not enforced. Even if France, the United Kingdom, and the United States had been willing and able to enforce the peace, their efforts would not have worked, because the treaty had been imposed during a temporary anomaly, the simultaneous collapse of German and Russian power, and would inevitably have been challenged when that power returned.
Territorial revisionism ensued after World War II as well, of course, and continued sporadically for decades. Since 1991, there have been some negotiated revisions: Hong Kong and Macao underwent peaceful reabsorption into China. Yugoslavia was broken up in violence and war, leading to the independence of its six federal units and eventually Kosovo, as well. Unrecognized statelets such as Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan; Transnistria, a sliver of Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disputed units of Georgia; and now Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of Ukraine -- each entails a story of Stalinist border-making.
The European Union cannot resolve this latest standoff, nor can the United Nations. The United States has indeed put together "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize some of its recent interventions, but it is not going to go to war over Ukraine or start bombing Russia, and the wherewithal and will for indefinite sanctions against Russia are lacking. Distasteful as it might sound, Washington faces the prospect of trying to work out some negotiated larger territorial settlement.
Such negotiations would have to acknowledge that Russia is a great power with leverage, but they would not need to involve the formal acceptance of some special Russian sphere of interest in its so-called near abroad. The chief goals would be, first, to exchange international recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea for an end to all the frozen conflicts in which Russia is an accomplice and, second, to disincentivize such behavior in the future. Russia should have to pay monetary compensation for Crimea. There could be some federal solutions, referendums, even land swaps and population transfers (which in many cases have already taken place). Sanctions on Russia would remain in place until a settlement was mutually agreed on, and new sanctions could be levied if Russia were to reject negotiations or were deemed to be conducting them in bad faith. Recognition of the new status of Crimea would occur in stages, over an extended period.
It would be a huge challenge to devise incentives that were politically plausible in the West while at the same time powerful enough for Russia to agree to a just settlement -- and for Ukraine to be willing to take part. But the search for a settlement would be an opportunity as well as a headache.
NATO expansion can be judged to have been a strategic error -- not because it angered Russia but because it weakened NATO as a military alliance. Russia's elites would likely have become revanchist even without NATO's advance, because they believe, nearly universally, that the United States took advantage of Russia in 1991 and has denied the country its rightful place as an equal in international diplomacy ever since. But NATO expansion's critics have not offered much in the way of practicable alternatives. Would it really have been appropriate, for example, to deny the requests of all the countries east of Germany to join the alliance?
Then as now, the only real alternative was the creation of an entirely new trans-European security architecture, one that fully transcended its Cold War counterpart. This was an oft-expressed Russian wish, but in the early 1990s, there was neither the imagination nor the incentives in Washington for such a heavy lift. Whether there is such capacity in Washington today remains to be seen. But even if comprehensive new security arrangements are unlikely anytime soon, Washington could still undertake much useful groundwork.
Critics might object on the grounds that the sanctions are actually biting, reinforced by the oil price free fall -- so why offer even minimal concessions to Putin now? The answer is because neither the sanctions, nor the oil price collapse, nor the two in conjunction have altered Russia's behavior, diminished its potential as a spoiler, or afforded Ukraine a chance to recover.
Whether they acknowledge it or not, Western opponents of a negotiated settlement are really opting for another long-term, open-ended attempt to contain Russia and hope for regime change -- a policy likely to last until the end of Putin's life and possibly well beyond. The costs of such an approach are likely to be quite high, and other global issues will continue to demand attention and resources. And all the while, Ukraine would effectively remain crippled, Europe's economy would suffer, and Russia would grow ever more embittered and difficult to handle. All of that might occur no matter what. But if negotiations hold out a chance of somehow averting such an outcome, they are worth a try. And the attempt would hold few costs, because failed negotiations would only solidify the case for containment in Europe and in the United States.
It is ultimately up to Russia's leaders to take meaningful steps to integrate their country into the existing world order, one that they can vex but not fully overturn. To the extent that the Ukraine debacle has brought this reality into sharper focus, it might actually have been useful in helping Putin to see some light, and the same goes for the collapse of oil prices and the accompanying unavoidable devaluation of the ruble. After the nadir of 1998, smart policy choices in Moscow, together with some lucky outside breaks, helped Russia transform a crisis into a breakthrough, with real and impressive steps forward. That history could replay itself -- but whether it will remains the prerogative of one person alone.
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comTo borrow from the British definition of an ambassador, United States military leaders are honest soldiers promoted in rank to champion war with reckless disregard for the truth. This practice persists despite the catastrophic waste of lives and money because the untruths are never punished. Congress needs to correct this problem forthwith.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exemplifies the phenomenon. As reported in The Washington Post , Dunford recently voiced optimism about defeating the Afghan Taliban in the seventeenth year of a trillion-dollar war that has multiplied safe havens for international terrorists, the opposite of the war's original mission. While not under oath, Dunford insisted, "This is not another year of the same thing we've been doing for 17 years. This is a fundamentally different approach [T]he right people at the right level with the right training [are in place] "
There, the general recklessly disregarded the truth. He followed the instruction of General William Westmoreland who stated at the National Press Club on November 21, 1967 that the Vietnam War had come to a point "where the end begins to come into view." The 1968 Tet Offensive was then around the corner, which would provoke Westmoreland to ask for 200,000 more American troops. The Pentagon Papers and Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty have meticulously documented the military's reckless disregard for the truth throughout the Vietnam War.
Any fool can understand that continuing our 17-year-old war in Afghanistan is a fool's errand. The nation is artificial. Among other things, its disputed border with Pakistan, the Durand Line, was drawn in 1896 between the British Raj and Afghan Amir Abdur Rahmen Khair. Afghanistan's population splinters along tribal, ethnic, and sectarian lines, including Pushtans, Uzbeks, Hazara, Tajiks, Turkmen, and Balochi. Its government is riddled with nepotism, corruption, ineptitude, and lawlessness. Election fraud and political sclerosis are endemic. Opium production and trafficking replenish the Taliban's coffers.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a paper tiger. Desertion and attrition rates are alarming. Disloyalty is widespread. American weapons are sold to the Taliban or captured. ANA soldiers will not risk that last full measure of devotion for an illegitimate, unrepresentative, decrepit government.
The Taliban also has a safe haven in Pakistan. A staggering portion -- maybe up to 90 percent -- of United States assistance to Afghanistan is embezzled, diverted, or wasted. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), related to Chatham House in London that "SIGAR was finding waste, fraud, and abuse nearly everywhere we looked in Afghanistan -- from the $488 million worth of aircraft that couldn't fly, to the navy the U.S. bought for a landlocked country, to the buildings the U.S. paid for that literally melted in the rain ."
"The Taliban are getting stronger, the government is on the retreat, they are losing ground to the Taliban day by day," Abdul Jabbar Qahraman, a retired Afghan general who was the Afghan government's military envoy to Helmand Province until 2016, told the New York Times last summer. ISIS has now joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda in fighting the United States. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis conceded to Congress last June that "we are not winning in Afghanistan right now," but added polyannaishly, "And we will correct this as soon as possible." Only two months earlier, the Defense Department insisted that dropping the Mother of All Bombs on Afghanistan would reverse the losing trend.
Upton Sinclair sermonized: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Thus do military leaders deceive themselves about futile wars to extract more spending, to maintain their professional reputations and public stature, and to avoid the embarrassment of explaining to Congress and the American people that astronomical sums have been wasted and tens of thousands of American soldiers have died or were crippled in vain.
To deter such self-deception, Congress should enact a statute requiring the retirement without pension of any general or admiral who materially misleads legislators or the public about prospective or ongoing wars with reckless disregard for the truth. That sanction might have prompted General Dunford to acknowledge the grim truth about Afghanistan: that the United States is clueless about how to win that war.
Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan and is the founding partner of Fein & DelValle PLLC.
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.
This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments, but here with no evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself, with devious political word games to get around the absence of any corroborated evidence in familiar denuciations of Russia full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of, once again a society, Yugoslavia, with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.
What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.
This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent traitor, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments. Yet here there is no confirmed evidence whatever of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself that is silence in the press, with devious political word games crafted to get around the absence of any corroborated facts in the familiar denuciations of Russia full of team aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of Yugoslavia -- once again a socialist society with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.
What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As always, this US-directed mass murder was reverse-blamed on the ever shifting Enemy face -- Russia's allied but duly elected government of the Ukraine. It was only after this violent-coup Nazi-led and US directed overthrow of the elected government of the very resource-rich Ukraine -- "the breadbasket of Europe" and sitting on newly discovered rich fossil fuel deposits -- that Russia annexed its traditional territory of the Crimea next to Eastern Ukraine, the latter after the violent coup put under the rule of a US-Nazi-led government until its people fought back with Russia assistance for the now NATO-targeted zones of the new Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
What is new now is that we are about to enter yet another NATO-member war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia. As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day US-led NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's UK government, and silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding in NATO-member states, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.
The UK and the US followed by Canada and some of the EU have by expulsion of Russia diplomats prepared the diplomatic way for war in the Ukraine to seize back these lost coup-territories, and it will be in the name of "freedom", "human rights" and "the rules of civilised nations". But there is much officially suppressed colour to the warring parties political conflict which reveals who the truly heinous suppressor of human rights is. Under mass media and corporate-state cover, the US-UK-NATO axis about to make war in Ukraine is doing so under the factually absurd but non-stop pretext of "Russia aggression" constructed out of the double-agent poisoning affair, with the guilty agents and poison having no proof but the ever louder UK-led and NATO-state assertion of it in unison. Yet there is a clear answer to the cui bono question -- which party does all this benefit? Clearly once the question is posed, as opposed to completely gagged in the corporate press, Theresa May's slow-motion collapsing Tory government -- now even challenged for its fraudulent Brexit referendum protecting the big London banks from EU regulation -- has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. The old war of aggression pattern reverse-blamed on the official enemy unwinds yet again.
It is revealing in this context how Canada's government has no such ruler need of war -- unless it be its Ukraine-descendent Foreign Minister up front and the very powerful and widely Nazi-sympathizing Ukraine Liberal vote bank and leadership brought to Canada after 1945 to overwhelm the preceding active socialist Ukrainian community in Canada. Canada's government -- not its people -- is in any case used to being a puppet regime in foreign affairs as a twice-colonized rule by big business (why the NDP is not allowed to govern unless so subjugated).
The Human Rights Question
In light of all of this suppressed factual background and motive for more war in Ukraine which is unspeakable in the official news, interaction with the United Nations is of revealing interest. While it has been the cover for US-led NATO executed genocidal wars of aggression in the past as in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Korea, the pretexts of 'human rights', 'responsibility to protect' and 'stopping communist aggression', which are in fact always been the spectacular opposite on the ground in terms of diseased, mass-murdered and destituted bodies, these pretexts may not sell well when the background facts are no longer suppressed from public view.
It is worthwhile recalling how Science for Peace leadership used to be against but has since Afghanistan collaborated with these false-pretext wars in sustaining their illusions and thus the war crimes and crimes against proceeding underneath them.
The NATO-executed Ukraine war now being orchestrated is especially revealing in its actual record of 'protecting human rights' through 'international law' and 'norms of civilised nations'. Completely buried in official records is a United Nations resolution n on Ukraine that the US and Canada repudiated on November 20 2015 after the US-led bloody coup d'etat in Ukraine was in full motion of claiming all the vast tracts of land and resources that were Russia-speaking territory in the past.
The resolution was straightforwardly against "Nazi symbols and regalia" as well as "holocaust denial". The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to enable measures against "the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that facilitate the escalation of modern forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance". A total of 126 member-states of the UN voted for it for the second time. Over 100 countries voted for a similar resolution in 2014 including "denial of the holocaust and glorification of the Nazi movement, former members of the Waffen SS organization, including the installation of memorials to them, and post-coup attempts to desecrate or destroy the monuments to those who fought against Nazism in Ukraine during World War II".
How could any civilised state vote against these United Nations Resolutions for human rights as Canada and the US have done and stood by ever since? Well instituted group hatred of the officially designated enemy can justify anything whatsoever, and does so right into next NATO-executed orgy of war crime and crimes against humanity, again inside Europe itself flaunting reverse-blame lies and slogans as red meat for psychotically trained masses. It is not by accident that Canada's Foreign Minister is in this near century-old Nazi loyalist vs Russia-speaking conflict was before her appointment the "proud "granddaughter of a leading Nazi war propagandist during its occupation of Poland and Ukraine described as a "fighter for freedom".
Yet on the other hand, we must not lose ourselves in ad hominem responsibility. Crystina Freeland, her Canada name, is interestingly propagandist in itself from her birth -- Christian Free Land -- but not observed in the corporate press. Minister Freeland is only a symptom of something far deeper and more systemically murderous and evil in state-executed unlimited greed and immiserization of innocent millions of people masked as 'human rights' , 'freedom' and 'rule of law' . Her more sinister double in the US is also a renamed person of the region, Victoria Nuland (read New Land) who orchestrated the whole 2014 mass-murder coup in Ukraine and now tub-thumps on public television for the 'need to teach Putin and Russia a hard lesson', aka another war attack by US-led NATO on Russia's borders.
The difference now is that the absurd pretext and geostrategic mechanisms now in motion beforehand can be seen in front of our eyes -- that is, if we can still see through the engineered prism of the US-UK led NATO war machine. This alone will stop it.
John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure .
Mar 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Posted by: ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33
Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia in persuading the U S to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.
Many could see at the time that this would unravel all the balances put into place after the travail of World War 2 . So it is proving to be . The German peoples' for whatever reasons have a history of 'overeach'. On one hand the Germans are now - after millennium - within settled borders but the political and economic wisdom and patience still seems lacking .
ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33
Mar 27, 2018 | www.unz.com
JR , Next New Comment March 27, 2018 at 6:24 am GMTWithin a week after Brennan's 'routine' visit in April 2014 to the Ukraine the Ukrainian army launched a civil war. That was within 2 weeks of the CIA instigated coup an the end of February 2014.
Mar 22, 2018 | www.unz.com
likbez , March 23, 2018 at 3:20 am GMT@polskijoe
And the Ukraine made a massive mistake. Their situation is completely different to Poland after USSR fell.
Very true. Poland was the first Eastern European country which adopted neoliberal model and thus served to a certain extent as "photo model" of neoliberalism for the rest of Eastern Europe and xUSSR space. So standard of living did not drop too low. The country was somewhat supported by EU and by the USA.
Ukraine was royally raped economically in 1991-2000. Probably as bad as Russia, may be even worse.
In 2014 Ukrainians were lured by unrealistic dream of getting Western European standard of living as a gift for breaking with Russia. As well as the resentment toward kleptocrat Yanukovich (which actually was pretty typical neoliberal politician; not much worse then Poroshenko )
Now they start to understand that the EU will devour the corpse to the bones and they are stuck at the Central African level poverty of $2 a day or so (on average), but this is too late.
A very typical story, a very typical outcome. Neoliberalism is a cancer. As Russian prime minister quipped about economic rape of Russia by local and Western neoliberals in 1991-2000: "We strived to get the best [economic] outcome, but it turned out like we got even worse then average. As always." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Chernomyrdin )
So in a way they stepped on the same rake twice: once in 1991 and the second time in 2014. That's unforgivable.
Mar 21, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
March 20 marks a major anniversary. You'd be forgiven for not knowing it. Fifteen years after we invaded Iraq, few in the US are addressing our legacy there. But it's worth recalling we shattered that country.
We made it a terrorist hotspot, as expected. US and British intelligence, in the months preceding the invasion, expected Bush's planned assault would invigorate Al-Qaeda. The group " would see an opportunity to accelerate its operational tempo and increase terrorist attacks," particularly " in the US and UK ," assessments warned. Due course for the War on Terror.
Follow-up reports confirmed these predictions. "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement," Washington analysts explained in 2006.
Fawaz Gerges lists two groups this milieu produced: Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), "a creature of the 2003 US-led invasion," and ISIS, "an extension of AQI."
There were good reasons for anyone -- not just jihadists -- to resent US involvement. Consider sectarianism. "The most serious sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq's modern history followed the 2003 US-led occupation," Sami Ramadani affirmed . Nabil Al-Tikriti concurs , citing US policies that "led to a progressive, incessant increase in sectarian tensions." The Shia death squads " organized by U.S. operatives" were one such decision.
The extent to which these squads succeeded is, in part, what scholars debate when they tally the war deaths. Low estimates, like Iraq Body Count's, put civilians killed at just over 200,000. One research team determined some "half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war." Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded "that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq," plus 300,000 more in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Iraqis surviving the inferno confronted a range of nightmares. The UN " reported that over 4.4 million Iraqis were internally displaced, and an additional 264,100 were refugees abroad," for example. US forces dealt with Iraqi prisoners -- 70-90% of whom were " arrested by mistake " -- by "arranging naked detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;" "breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees;" and "forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves," to list some of the ways we imparted , with the approval of top Bush administration officials, democratic principles.
Then there are the generations of future Iraqis in bomb-battered cities: Fallujah, Basra. In the former, "the reported increases in cancer and infant mortality are alarmingly high" -- perhaps " worse than Hiroshima " -- while "birth defects reached in 2010 unprecedented numbers." In the same vein, "a pattern of increase in congenital birth defects" plagues Basra, and "many suspect that pollution created by the bombardment of Iraqi cities has caused the current birth defect crisis in that country."
This bombardment began decades before 2003, it's crucial to clarify. We can recall UN Under-Secretary-General Martti Ahtisaari's mission to Baghdad after Operation Desert Storm. He and his team were familiar with the literature on the bombings, he wrote in March 1991, "fully conversant with media reports regarding the situation in Iraq," but realized upon arrival "that nothing that we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation" -- "near-apocalyptic" -- "which has now befallen the country," condemning it "to a pre-industrial age" for the foreseeable future. This was the scale of ruin when the UN Security Council imposed sanctions. The measures were "at every turn shaped by the United States," whose "consistent policy " was "to inflict the most extreme economic damage possible on Iraq."
The policy was, in this respect, a ripping success. The UN estimated in 1995 that the sanctions had murdered over a half-million children -- " worth it ," Madeleine Albright said -- one factor prompting two successive UN Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq to resign. Denis Halliday thought the sanctions "criminally flawed and genocidal;" Hans von Sponeck agreed , citing evidence of "conscious violation of human rights and humanitarian law on the part of governments represented in the Security Council, first and foremost those of the United States and the United Kingdom."
Eliminating hundreds of thousands of starving children was just the prequel to the occupation -- "the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258," in one writer's judgment . But try to find more than a handful of commentators reflecting on any of these issues on this dark anniversary. Instead, silence shows the deep US capacity for forgetting.
Nick Alexandrov lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mar 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.
To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.
Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?
Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.
Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don't explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.
The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn't fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.
Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn't a diplomat. She wasn't even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as "the queen of Madison Avenue." On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben's Rice and another for Head and Shoulder's dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.
At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell's words, "the branding of U.S. foreign policy." She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.
"Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time," said Beers. "All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world." Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.
Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.
The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."
Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.
Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria "Torie" Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld's mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world's great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton's D.C. office.
Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington's top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon's forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.
The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR's Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money's worth. Boggs' felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.
According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent "messaging advice" to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld's mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn't an "axis" at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.
Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .
At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington's heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.
As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.
Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group's work there.
But it's not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war's signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. "Where do you think they got those American flags?" clucked Rendon in 1991. "That was my assignment."
The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.
So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. "I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician," said Rendon. "I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager."
What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: "actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning." In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.
Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. "You can have the corpse," said Rumsfeld. "You can have the name. But I'm going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have."
At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America's most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.
Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.
Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.
Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn't have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn't even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.
This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception."
During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.
What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as "our protectors." The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do "anything and everything they can ask of us."
When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.
The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon's montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.
"A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion," predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.
Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post's pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.
Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war."
The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a "strategic setback for the United States." This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, "Where'd you get that? Iraqi television?"
The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times' Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled "Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast," arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam's secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation's most bellicose Islamophobe. "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar," wrote Mylroie and Pipes. "The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad."
In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation's most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador's assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.
Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. "There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way," said Benador. "If not, people get scared." Scared of intentions of their own government.
It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration's gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn't want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.
Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network's executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue's show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered "a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."
The memo warned that Donahue's show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, "a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.
It's war that sells.
There's a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.
This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.
Mar 06, 2018 | www.unz.com
likbez , March 6, 2018 at 4:00 am GMTSome weak points of the article:peterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:26 am GMT
1. There is some mystery in this Putin "bragging" about new formidable weapons. This is not his style. Why now? Why do it when sanctions are in place and can be easily be tightened as the result? Looks like in order to make such a statement Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine. Only in this case his statement makes some sense. As a open warning: do not do it. Otherwise this is just an open invitation for the new, more destructive and expensive stage in nuclear arms race. The scenario that Russia should try to avoid.
2. Also the rule is: if your adversary is making a mistake, you should not try to stop him. If missile defense systems and aircraft carriers are useless why not to allow the USA to put another 100 billion dollars into it ? Something does not compute here. BTW both remain perfectly viable as the first strike weapons (you never know what those tubes contain and they can hold cruise missiles as well). The fact that they will perish is just part of the cost of the whole operation.
3. Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.
4. After 2012 it is clear that the way the USA will try to undermine Russia is most probably via political interference during the next election, in which there will be a power vacuum as Putin finishes his last term, and there is no Putin II. The problem of the leader succession is a well-known Achilles' spot of Russia. In 2012 the "collective West" achieved pretty significant success in staging color revolution in Russia using pro-West (aka Zapadniki) and comprador sector in Moscow as the fifth column. The political situation in Moscow will always favor pro-European forces, as this city has a huge concentration of employees of foreign companies, professionals and entrepreneurs who depend on the West and earn money from the West (compradors) . Efforts to put in power a classic neoliberal like Macron in France will be multiplied for elections in 2024. I do not see, why they can't be more successful then in 2012.
5. While weakened by the recent McCarthyism campaign in the USA, Russian comprador sector and neoliberals are still a very powerful political force and control a significant part of media and oligarch money. Russian constitution was written by the USA. And scars from the economic rape of Russia in 90th still did not fully heal. In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. Probably along with crashing oil prices before the elections again, or some other nasty trick. In this case you do not need any missiles. As long as Russia is a neoliberal country Putin and his policies remain a political anomaly. And Putin himself a maverick. There will be no another Putin, but there can well be another Gorbachov, or, worse, Yeltsin. The same is true for China, but at least China has political control of the Communist Party and state ownership of the financial sector. The latter is not true for Russia and is a huge political risk. While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.
6. Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.
7. Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency. This situation will not probably change until the end of cheap oil, which might take another twenty years or more.
8. If time is working against the USA, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).
9. The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.
10. The network of intelligence agencies around Russia (which now include Estonia and Ukraine) probably represents much more serious threat then the "first strike" capability of the USA, if such thing can ever exist.
11. "Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.
12. China has less than 300 nuclear weapons and still is regarded as a formidable nuclear power, probably spending 20 times less money in this area.
13. The claim that "The Kinzhal effectively removes any non-suicidal surface force thousands of miles away from Russia's shores and renders its capabilities irrelevant" is highly questionable. The idea of the first strike includes the elimination of the possibility of launching most (or all) Kinzhal missiles carriers, as a necessary part required for the success of the operation. Any losses of forward deployed units are acceptable in such a huge game.@iffenpeterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:43 am GMT
Just a pre-empt, tiring if you say you don't understand Ukraine, etc. then twenty comments; dem Jews.
No rain, too much rain, dem Jews.
Well, you did utter the trigger word.
Guess your family believes religiously in the eternal victimhood and in the right of Jewish people to demand special treatment from "others"– "because of Holocaust." -- This is over. After the fraternization of the Kagans' clan (via Nuland-Kagan) with neo-Nazi in Ukraine and after Israeli's support for ISIS, Jewish pretenses on superior morality (and similar fantastic inventions) have become unrealistic.
Yahweh, help us.@likbezpeterAUS , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm GMT
Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine.
I'd go for Ukraine.
Something does not compute here.
Well, "if we can't have it it's not good." Sour grapes.
Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.
In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. In this case you do not need any missiles.
...While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.
Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.
Agree. But, perhaps that's not true. In any case, the resident "Team Russia" will now explain that. As victory, of course.
Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency.
If time is working against the US, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).
The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.
"Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.
"Team Russia" coming up. You are about to see the light. Somehow.@Sergey KriegerFB , March 6, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Putin and those around him would better do concentrate on internal issues or eventually issues will concentrate on them.
This obsession with high tech is actually puzzling. Not only that, but, overall, which "military" is better. "Whose father/older brother is stronger" kid talk.
The Empire shall go for the Russia's internal problems and try to capitalize on that. Ukraine was taken down using that approach. Oh, wait, not only Ukraine but all those who didn't tow the line. Thinking that, somehow, a conventional war, only, will settle the issue is not only delusional but stupid. Why would The Empire do that? No reason whatsoever.
It will try to do exactly what's been doing since '91. Internal dissent.
So, while Russian elites will keep building high tech weaponry (remember USSR), The Empire will keep working on getting all those "unhappy" with Putin regime onboard and using them for weakening the regime.
If the regime in Moscow can't, or doesn't want to see it, well, it doesn't deserve that position. True, weapons industry is good for making money and stashing most of it offshore. Not sharing that wealth, though, with general population is not that smart, just, they simply can't help it. That's the way of the world there. Czars and serfs.
The problem is, of course, they can't step down even if they wanted to. Nobody wants kangaroo courts and hanging. Or public murder broadcast live on Internet. Conundrum.@likbezAP , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm GMT
You make some interesting observations and your comment is thought-provoking
However I think the intent of the article was to explore some of the technical issues of what we saw on March 1 not so much the political dimension and certainly your approach is to try to get an overall wide angle picture that gets every possible Russia issue into the frame
which by necessity means you give up some resolution or granularity if you will compared to a more tightly focused article
You start with an initial premise of why announce these weapons now and question the wisdom the simple answer may be technical related these weapons may be already mature technically and now is the time to show them ?
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar
A couple more points you mention sanctions quite a bit but we have seen that Russia is able to carry on just fine sanctions or not
The key indicator there is that sanctions are having a much bigger blowback on the US itself i.e. the US is losing Europe
Germany has been quite vocal about US going a step too far in trying to dictate energy policy which is key to German industrial export economy and besides they may finally be finding their sea legs after years of subservience to an increasingly unhinged country that is heading for the cliff
The Germans are going to get Nordstream 2 because they want it. It is actually more important to Germany than to Russia Russia has been supplying energy to Europe for many decades going back to Soviet times but is just now starting to feed the biggest energy consumer in the world China
Other, smaller EU countries notably Italy have become quite vocal about Russia sanctions hurting them we saw just now an election in Italy where the ruling claque were turfed
So it seems that the days of US dictating the politics to its European vassals may be over the kind of friction they are making with sanctions and their increasing hysteria is only hastening this process of vassals breaking off
The other issue is Ukraine you bring to this the the typical US perspective of 'losing' a country this again goes back to the vassal game
The US gained all of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union but did Russia lose anything sensible people will say the lost they burden of empire long after it had ceased being profitable as with the British previously
Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable other than the Galician Catholic minority
For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania while the new Russian empire based in Moscow gained strength and eventually took over 300 years ago
There are and have always been Ukrainian nationalists that do not like Russia but they are in the minority the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland even the Irish are more distant from the English than Ukrainians from Russians
Politically the situation we see in Ukraine is that the ordinary people don't really care about the politics they are genuinely concerned about bread and butter it is quite sad actually that the US is treating the Ukraine as a pawn and a quite cheap one at that in its game with Russia
I don't believe the Russians look at the situation that way there is real fraternity among many Russians and Ukrainians that goes to a fundamental level again similar to Scotland where the country is divided on the issue of the English
So unless the EU and US are prepared to do a full Marshall plan to drag Ukraine into a reasonable living standard then this 'win' will turn out to be something of a chimera
Heck the polls even in eastern Europe are trending against the post Cold War direction with about half the people now questioning if the new boss is really better than the old boss
And finally if you are going to do a wide angle shot like this then get the crazy cousin into the picture also ie the US and its failing Ponzi economy that is bound to collapse just on the principles of mathematics
China and Russia are working to bury the source of all US strength the petrodollar this is literally kryptonite the US is quite simply toast once the petrodollar sinks
China is the world's biggest economy and biggest energy buyer Russia is the world's biggest energy seller other nations too that are not so strong and have felt the body blows of US economic warfare such as Iran, Venezuela and other will gladly join in
It's starting to feel like US has used up all its chips and all its markers
The entire developing world wants real prosperity not economic colonialism and corporate plunder
These are some large and powerful currents that have to be taken into account if one is going to take a wide angle shot of geopolitics@FB
Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions
Relationship of Kievan Rus to modern Russia and Ukraine is somewhat analogous to the relationship of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire to modern France or Germany. Although both Germany and France would have to be in the same linguistic family for the analogy to be more accurate.
For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania
Correct. This meant not only political separation but largescale settlement (about 10% of the population were Polish settlers – these were absorbed by the natives, so most Ukrainians have some Polish roots), centuries of schooling, etc. And this was enough to lead to a different culture, language, identity.
eventually took over 300 years ago
The eastern half of Ukraine was linked to Moscow in the 1650s (so indeed about 300 years), but the western half in the 1770s (so 200 years) and Galicia not until 1939.
but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable
Incorrect. Ukrainian is about as close to Russian as it is to Polish (Ukrainian grammar and pronunciation is closer to Russian, but Ukrainian vocabulary actually has more words in common with Polish than with Russian). The Scandinavian languages are closer to each other Russian is to Ukrainian. The catch is that in everyday life about half of Ukrainians, and most urban Ukrainians other than people in Lviv, use Russian rather than Ukrainian. Kiev is a Russian-speaking city (and Dublin an English-speaking one).
the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland
Anatol Lieven correctly observed that Ukraine's relationship to Russia is somewhere between that of Scotland and that of Ireland, to England. Viewing it as Scotland is too positive, as Ireland too negative. Given that Scotland itself nearly separated, it is natural to see Ukraine as separate.
Mar 03, 2018 | www.fort-russ.com
The Ukrainian economy is in a catastrophic state after four years of "euro-reforms," said Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice – People's Right." "At the end of 2013. Ukraine's state and publicly guaranteed debt was 40% of GDP, and by the end of 2017 it had more than doubled, exceeding 80% of GDP. In 2013, Ukraine's GDP per capita was more than $ 4,075, and in 2016 decreased to $ 2221.
The average monthly salary in 2017 as a whole for the country was $ 267 (in 2013 it exceeded $ 408), pensions are also 2.3 times lower than before the euro reform. Today, it is slightly more than $ 48, while in 2013 it was almost $ 112, " Medvedchuk said.
Mar 02, 2018 | news.antiwar.com
$47 million sale targeted at neighboring Russia
Posted on March 1, 2018 Categories News Tags Pentagon , Russia , UkraineWith Ukrainian officials continuing to talk up their hostility with neighboring Russia, the Pentagon announced on Thursday that approval has been granted for the sale of Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine.
The sale, estimated at a $47 million deal for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, would involve 37 Javelin Command Launch Units and 210 missiles . The Poroshenko government says it will be used to "protect Ukrainian soldiers."
Russia is protesting the sale, however, arguing that the sale of the missiles would encourage Ukraine to resume the use of force against Eastern Ukraine's ethnic Russian rebels, with the idea that they would deploy the missiles against any rebel tanks, and also against any Russian tanks that might join the fight.
Pentagon officials downplayed the issue, saying they don't believe the Javelin missiles will materially change the military balance of power in the region. Despite obvious offensive uses for such missiles, the US is trying to spin this as another "defensive" sale to Ukraine.
Mar 02, 2018 | www.nytimes.com
The first line of the Ukrainian national anthem is "Ukraine has not yet died," one interviewee says in "Breaking Point," a fierce documentary about that country and its recent clashes with Russia. For a land often perched on the edge of ruin, she says, mere survival is something to celebrate.
Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin, the film starts with a rundown of a history that has repeated itself for centuries -- invaders have long prized Ukraine for its resources and geography, and modern times are no exception.
... ... ...
The filmmakers supply terrifying footage: At civilian rallies, we see nightstick beatings and bloody riots. During military battles, bullets whiz by and explosions shake the cameras. Nerve-racking scenes follow Ukraine's extraordinarily bold volunteer soldiers.
Feb 28, 2018 | www.unz.com
Pavlo , February 28, 2018 at 4:34 am GMTthe government makes a show of it.likbez , February 28, 2018 at 10:52 am GMT
there has been dramatic improvement in number of soldiers, usability of equipment
That is the show.
The Ukrainian army's battlefield performance after February 2015 has not improved, nor will the odds ever again be as favourable as they were in Mid-2014. Kiev has assembled an army suitable for skirmishing and the occasional terrorist attack, nothing more strenuous. Building an army capable of winning the war would entail discipline and sacrifice, and the effort would be for nothing since the RF forces would move in and crush Kiev's army if it were ever on the point of victory.
Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.@Pavlo
Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.
1. Ukraine decides very little. Government was outsourced to Washington, DC. If creation of tension with Russia is necessary, they will launch offensive.
2. Nationalist movements, especially far-right, have their own often destructive dynamics and can do things that are illogical and/or highly harmful for the country. They also are ready to fight and die for their ideas. In this sense Poroshenko is a hostage of Galician far right "revolutionaries. "
Feb 27, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
turcopolier , 25 February 2018 at 11:06 PMTTG et alYeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 26 February 2018 at 12:30 AM
You don't understand what I mean. IMO the emerging partition is likely to last a long time. Syria is only 80 years old as a state and a prolonged de facto partition as opposed to wartime occupation can easily become more or less permanent as was the case with Turkey's acquisition of Hatay. plI certainly don't dispute that Turkey is invading Afrin. And I agree with you that if things continue to stand as they are now then that invasion will continue until all of Afrin has been overrun.
But to simply extrapolate from what has happened into the future suggests that circumstances won't change or - if they do - that Erdogan will continue on like some wind-up automaton.
If the Kurds of Afrin throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian government in Damascus then Kurdish autonomy is squashed in that enclave. And, when it is all said and done, isn't that what Erdogan really wants?
If the Kurds are too stupid or too proud to play that card then, yeah, sure, you and I both agree that they will be ground into the dirt.
But if they do supplicate to Assad then the situation changes.
You (I assume) believe that in that circumstance Erdogan will continue to grind on with this invasion regardless.
I believe he will beat his chest and then go home.
One of us will be wrong, and one of us will be right.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com
Anon Disclaimer , February 26, 2018 at 12:20 am GMTAnon from TNJake , February 26, 2018 at 12:50 am GMT
Somehow in numerous statements in this thread, mostly boiling down to "mine is more Russian than yours", the key issues were missed. I am not even talking about obvious trolls trying to denigrate Putin's foreign policy feats. He achieved a lot more with a relatively weak hand than the US with a much stronger one, both in Syria and in Ukraine.
Admittedly, Ukraine does not count: only Americans, who have no history and don't know the history of other countries, could have stepped into that particular pile of s Ukraine brings ruin to anyone it supports. At the beginning of the eighteens century Ukrainian Hetman Mazepa betrayed Russia and joined the Swedes. Peter the Great decimated Swedes in the battle near Poltava. That was the end of Sweden as a great European power. Western Ukrainians fought for Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI. Where is that Empire now? Then "independent" Ukraine supported Germans. Well, they lost WWI. Then Ukrainians served Hitler in WWII. USSR smeared Nazi Germany over he wall. Then Ukrainians were "holier then thou" supporters of the Soviet Union. Where is it now? So, if I were in the US or EU leadership, I'd make sure that Ukraine is not my friend, simply for the sake of self-preservation.
Syria is a totally different story. The Empire, on behalf of Israel and Saudis, tried to break it up into a bunch of powerless Bantustans. The plan seemed to be close to bearing fruit until Putin threw a wrench into the works. With ridiculously small ground and air force he turned the tide of the war. The Empire was frustrated. Hence the hysterics.
Anyway, IMHO Putin's Russia has two major weaknesses. One is the profusion of oligarchs who stole their riches from the state and hid the loot offshore. He does not seem inclined to tackle them, likely honoring the deal he made in 2000. "Protected" appear to include even such notorious figures as Chubais (if you ask Russians, ~90% would say that oligarchs should be stripped of their wealth, tried, and imprisoned; but as many or more would say that Chubais should be publicly hanged). The other weakness is that it remains a one-man show, i.e., the absence of credible state institutions and an obvious successor. The rest is chaff."what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent."Robert Dunn , Website February 26, 2018 at 1:06 am GMT
ABSOLUTELY TRUE!I'm like so totally sure the CIA will not be interfering with their election.Kiza , February 26, 2018 at 1:36 am GMT@utu
Just for a moment I will take you seriously, although you sometimes write truly silly stuff, and respond.
Yes, the AngloZionist would prefer to turn and absorb the Russian and Chinese elite, but only as low subordinates. This is what they have been doing in other conquered countries – generating a mix of the new and compliant part of the old elite with a greater proportion of the new elite. The Russian neo-Liberals are ready and waiting for the job, looking down on their compatriots as cattle (the same word as goyim, what an amazing coincidence!?). Read what this Felix writes about the Russians. This gang turned Russia into killing fields in 1917 and will gladly do it again given half a chance by their foreign masters.
The masters are underwriting the full-time writing of puppets such as Karlin. Karlin is the Russian Elliot Higgins , interpreting data without a faintest idea of solid data analysis, a paid full-time hack drawing the right conclusions for the empire. Perhaps he sees himself as a minister in the Russian puppet government after the successful regime change.
Therefore, this group of regular trolls (about 10 nicks) on all Saker's writings are aiming to be that future new Russian servant elite when Russia would be absorbed. They are truly the last thing that Russian people need.
As I said above, I have seen it all before, it is deja vu all over again (Yogi Bear).
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com
Dmitry , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm GMT@Felix KeverichFelix Keverich , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 8:16 pm GMT
Poland's level of GDP per capita is 6 times bigger than Ukraine's. They started out around the same level in 1991 and were supposed to follow the same playbook. To the extent that their paths diverged can be explained by Ukrainian corruption and incompetence.
Poland received hundreds of billions of dollars in EU subsidies and transfers. Not a fair comparison. Even still today they are receiving this transfer of wealth from net contributor countries in the EU (there's another good reason EU became unpopular in net contributor countries like the UK and the Netherlands):
Energy subsidies from Russia to the Ukraine are estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars since 1991. The Ukraine has been well subsidized since independence. What they have been desperately lacking is governance.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
YankeeFrank , February 25, 2018 at 7:38 amSkip Intro , February 25, 2018 at 11:03 am
Bill mentions the brain drain from Latvia, but I seem to recall a quite massive general emigration from the country during austerity, which also helped to "reduce unemployment" as well. The neoliberal "methodology" for "showing economic success" is moral and economic bankruptcy masquerading as "science". And wow. So we have Latvia to thank for the coming nuclear holocaust as well. A true neoliberal market miracle.
Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism are once again brought to mind:
#1 Because markets.
#2 Go die.The Rev Kev , February 25, 2018 at 8:40 am
All those 'excess' workers who left were helping keep wages low in the EU
In the sense that Latvia's future productivity is sacrificed for short-term benefits on the books, it starts to look like another asset-stripping scheme, and the costs are borne by workers in the EU.DJG , February 25, 2018 at 9:11 am
This is not the first time that Latvia has appeared on NC ( https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/latvias-economic-disaster-as-a-neoliberal-success-story-a-model-for-europe-and-the-us.html ) and probably won't be the last. What is it about neoliberalism that that seems to have corruption as part of its DNA?
Latvia already has one of the highest levels of poverty and income inequality in the EU and its population has dropped by about a fifth in the past 18 years which is a bit of a record considering that there was no war, that is, unless you count the neoliberal war on people. Some moved to the capital Riga but most bailed out of the country altogether and are not coming back. You can find whole blocks of empty buildings in some towns.
But don't worry. The Latvians are on the case. The head of the Latvian Central Bank detained for extortion and the Latvian Ministry of Defense both blame, you guessed it, Russia!
Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism may have to be updated. He already has
#1 Because markets.
#2 Go die.
He may have to modify the second one to say
#2 Go die or get the hell outta Dodge.edmondo , February 25, 2018 at 10:53 am
Now I may be prejudiced because the Gs came from deepest darkest Lithuania–and we're talking out in the endless woods in a village along a lake.
When people talk about population decline in Latvia, you are talking about part of the corruption. The native Latvians wanted a way of getting rid of the Russian population, many of whom are considered immigrants. So dropping 20 percent of the population means throwing out the Russians. When your "population policy " is based on something like that, you can image what the country's economic policies are like.
In contrast–although Lithuania, too, has lost some 10 – 15 percent of its population since restored independence–the Lithuanians came to terms, imperfect terms, with their smaller Polish and Russian minorities. Nevertheless, the Lithuanians didn't go whole-hog free-market fundamentalism. And when a recent president was found to be corrupt, they impeached him and threw him out.
So you have different models for how to survive as a Baltic State. Latvia has made a mess of its "model."Altandmain , February 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm
"Now of course that's still in a land where they had really severely repressed wages for the working class and for middle class, and continued to tolerate a fair degree of unemployment and underemployment for folks, as well. So, yeah it works really well for the oligarchs. And they do employ people. The unemployment rate drops, but the country invariably becomes extremely corrupt."
Was he still talking about Latvia or did he switch over to the USA?Massinissa , February 25, 2018 at 12:27 pm
There is a strong correlation between inequality and corruption.
Furthermore, in the medium term there is a causal relationship:
This would suggest that inflicting austerity on a population, which worsens inequality, will set the precedent for corruption in the future.Eustache De Saint Pierre , February 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm
Half a decade ago when Latvia was considered a success story for neoliberal austerity, one animator made this great satire video making fun of how farcical it was to consider it such.
Latvia also being part of that running sore which involves according to the US state department's last global estimate, about 800,000 to a million victims per annum of people trafficking. Of which around 80% are female, with a not stated amount being children, used for both labour & sexual purposes.
I suppose that it comes as little surprise that the 2 main flows of these commodities is from East to West & South to North.
Feb 23, 2018 | nationalinterest.org
Any agreement, however -- at least as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned -- would require that Russia must make the first move to ease tensions. However, it is unclear is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or anyone in his department truly speaks for the Trump Administration.
"It's important to be clear about U.S. policy towards the conflict: Crimea is Ukraine. The Donbas is Ukraine. We will never accept trading one region of Ukraine for another. We will never make a deal about Ukraine without Ukraine," John J. Sullivan, deputy secretary of state, said during a speech in at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic Academy in Kiev on Feb. 21 . "To advance these fundamental goals, Secretary Tillerson appointed Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations in July of last year. And his mandate is to break the deadlock with Russia over Ukraine. Secretary Tillerson has made it abundantly clear that Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence and resolve this conflict by fully implementing the Minsk Accords."
Time will tell if any progress will be made in solving the Donbas situation.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest . You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar .
Joe Stevens , February 22, 2018 2:20 AMVic , February 22, 2018 7:11 AM
If that's the case, then America needs to pull it's own illegal occupation forces out of eastern Syria ASAP too! Eastern Syria is Syria. Eastern Syria is NOT part of Kurdistan! What a bunch of hypocrites.VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 5:08 AM
"One potential approach -- which as been proposed by U.S. special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker -- is where peacekeepers would be deployed in phases while Ukraine implements some of the measures it agreed to under the Minsk agreements."
-That could work, here is the Minsk 2 agreement for those that don't know, https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
It stipulates that Ukraine should complete a number of things, and by the end of it Donbass will be returned to Ukraine. If you add phased peacekeepers to this it could work, the peacekeepers would start between Donbass and Ukraine, and then move into Donbass and get more control the more of the Minsk 2 agreement Ukraine completed.
The peacekeepers could not be NATO or Russian troops for each side to agree obviouslyJorge Martinho VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 6:13 AM
Europe and the US have nothing of value to offer to Ukraine because there's little to exchange it for. There is no economy and too few natural resources to fight for. Thus, Ukraine will remain a suitcase without a handle despite wet dreams of its ultra-nationalists (should be represented in the troll section of this thread).
It will remain useless as an economical ally to Russia in the upcoming years because Ukraine is divided within itself.
The only thing it will be good for, is to serve as an example for everybody on how foolish it is to overthrow democratically elected governments for the sake of fairy tales.
The conflict there will be frozen for decades, as it was frozen in Moldova and Georgia. Without Russian and European investments, there will be no economical development in Ukraine.
This country is screwed, alas. Peacekeepers will not change much, but they could help stop shellings and thus help regular people who suffer the most.Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:02 AM
Vadim, if Ukraine is not important, why do you spend so much of your precious time writing about it? Why does Russia keep financing the war in Donbass if its so uninteresting to invest in Ukraine? Why did Russia steal Ukrainian gas in the Azov Sea? Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass? Where did the machinery from the Donbass factories go, Vadim?Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 9:09 AM
"Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass?"
-The coal belongs to the people of Donbass, not Ukraine, and Ukraine itself banned buying gas from these territories in hope that it will cause more misery to the civilians living there, just like Ukraine stole their pensions and their social welfare in hope for causing maximal suffering.Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 10:06 AM
The Donbass is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Second Ukraine is not obliged to pay for the Russian occupation of its territory. The occupation force is responsible for everything that happens inside that territory, even the payment or not of pensions.Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:56 PM
That is a pure lie, the conflict between Donbass and Ukraine is a civil war. Russia is not occupying those territories. And Donbass will return to Ukraine if they can follow thru on the Minsk 2 agreement like they agreed to, but never will of course, because the hyper-corrupt Ukrainian government need the legitimacy and distraction that war brings both domestically to avoid coup and internationally as an excuse.
"Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:48 PM
Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."
Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine, and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. The local population was cynical about Kiev, but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war.Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:55 PM
"but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war."
-Nobody wanted a war of course, that is one reason why the Kiev government became so dependent on volunteer n4zists, they were the only one that was eager and willing to kill their brothers at the whims of the unconstitutional coup regime. The average Ukrainian soldiers didn't want to fight and a lot of the Donbass fighters came from defected Ukrainian soldiers.Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:17 AM
Again, all I have to do is point to Strelkov: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."
"I dream of a Russia in its natural borders," he says. "At least those of 1939." He claims to have been the one who convinced Putin to intervene militarily in Ukraine, at a time, he says, when the Kremlin was still debating the proper approach to the country."
"I was the one who pulled the trigger for war," Strelkov boasts."
http://www.spiegel.de/inter...brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:20 AM
Doesn't matter at all what some commanders "boasts" , the war was started when the unconstitutional and unelected government of Ukraine sent its army to crush the rebels.Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:18 AM
Strelkov came into Donbass on April 12, 2014 and the acting president Turchinov announced ATO (Anti terrorist operation) on April 7.
The people of Donbass protested peacefully for months and no one wanted to talk with them. They sent tanks and jets instead.
"and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. "
This is a blatant lie.Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:46 PM
Strelkov took Slavyansk on April 12 - that's not when he arrived. As for the ATO, yes, it was announced on April 7, after armed separatists stormed regional government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, raised Russian flags, and said they would hold an independence referendum. What would Russia do if Karelia was taken over by pro-Finnish separatists? And keep in mind, when the ATO was announced, Turchynov promised amnesty for separatists who laid down arms.
No, the "people" of Donbass did not protest peacefully (Gubarev and others were not representative of the people of Donbass). Gubarev and others repeatedly tried to seize buildings and declare self-rule/independence. But polls during that time clearly showed that people did not want independence, even if they were unhappy about Yanukovych being ousted from the presidency. Public opinion did not really shift towards independence until after the fire of Odessa and Mariupol, when Donbass regions were under separatist control and influenced by Russian propaganda.Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 2:58 PM
"Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight.""
-The civil war was started when the unelected and unconstitutional coup government sent the army to kill the rebels in Donbass for just wanting their language rights protected.
"Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine,"
-Pavel is a Ukrainian, and it is pretty far fetched to call it illegal to resist to an illegal unconstitutional coup government.brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:35 AM
I have not seen any proof that there was a coordinated coup to remove Yanukovych. On Feb 21st, Western powers got what they wanted when Yanukovych agreed to form a coalition government with Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok (OK, maybe Tyahnbok wasn't they're first choice) and have early elections. Yanukovych fled because the security forces abandoned him. They most likely abandoned him because the Feb 21st agreement called for investigation into violence on the Maidan, and they thought they would be blamed for everything.
I never said Gubarev wasn't Ukrainian. But he was clearly a pro-Russian agitator. And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals.Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:50 AM
Yanukovich was in Donetsk when they broke their constitution in the Rada, when they didn't have enough votes to impeach him.
"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."
https://www.youtube.com/wat...Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:14 PM
He was in Kharkiv, but not on an official visit. He was fleeing. And sorry, but protests attended by a few thousand people do not mean that Gubarev had widespread support.Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:20 PM
""governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."
-It is worth to point out that there was no democratic support for the coup in Kiev however. Which I guess is why there was a coup in the first place.brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:37 AM
You still haven't offered any proof for your claim of a coup in Kiev.Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:33 AM
Check the Ukrainian constitution, Article 111. There is described how a president could be impeached.Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:09 PM
That's not a coup. It's an unconstitutional removal of a president who abandoned his post. What were they supposed to do - live with a power vacuum?Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:52 PM
"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."
-Hardly illegal, quite the opposite, more like it was a duty to resist an unconstitutional coup government. And while I have not found a opinion poll on rebel controlled areas, the closes I found suggest that the rebels has a very high support among the Donbass population.
"An opinion poll that was taken on the day of the referendum and the day before by a correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, and five other media outlets found that of those people who intended to vote, 94.8% would vote for independence. The poll did not claim to have scientific precision, but was carried out to get a basis from which to judge the outcome of the referendum, given that independent observers were not present to monitor it. Even with those who said they would not vote counted in, a 65.6% majority supported separation from Ukraine"
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/...Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:22 AM
You should probably try reading the actual article, instead of quoting Wikipedia. The journalists polled 186 people, and of those 110 supported independence. That's a tiny and insignificant sample size. People voting for independence had been going through a war started by pro-Russian separatists, they were under the martial law of pro-Russian separatists, and their only news was Russian propaganda telling them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia. Also, as you no doubt saw while reading Wikipedia, polls taken before Strelkov and the others started the war showed that the locals were not supportive of independence.Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 8:14 AM
" them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia"
-Pretty close to the truth actually, Kiev certainly did and are doing everything they can do exterminate the local civilians in Donbas, but stealing their pensions, cutting of social pay, hindering and stoping food, medicine and water.
Actually I mentioned that in my comment, there are no opinion polls but the closes we get is the opinion polls from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, which shows a massive support for the rebels. Which is no surprise as we are talking about an illegal unconstitutional pro-nazi government seizing power.
"tthe locals were not supportive of independence.
-The support for rebels are as all sources show quite high, of course nobody wanted the war, but that was forced on them by the unelected coup government. If Ukraine had just language right of the Donbass people there would have been no war.Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:05 PM
No, Kiev was not filled with Nazis. Russia engaged in fearmongering to get Crimeans to vote for independence. And what happened? The Ukrainian Army in Crimea resisted all provocations to start a war. Kiev thought that the international community would come to its aid. Remember the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2014? Svoboda and Right Sector barely had any public support at all. The lie that Kiev was filled with Nazis was just that - a lie.
Again, your Frankfurter Allgemeine poll was less than 200 people who happened to be willing to talk to Western journalists. Only 110 of them said they wanted independence, and this was after living under martial law and Russian propaganda for months. There were plenty of actual scientific polls conducted in April before the "referendum" which showed that there was no support for secession - at most, people wanted decentralisation.Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:38 PM
Well, depends on what you mean with proof I suppose, is an American marxist oligarchs admitting they spent millions to training demonstrators to subvert Ukrainian democracy proof?
Is the fact that 100% of NATO controlled media support the Ukrainian opposition proof?
Is that fact that USA leaders went down to Ukraine and gave out cookies to the undemocratic opposition and held speeches encouraging them to overthrow their government proof?
Is leaked phone calls from USA telling Ukraine which leaders should be installed(which later were installed) proof?
Is Obama openly admitting they handled the "transition of power" in Ukraine proof?
Is the fact that the fascist and ultra-nationalist groups used used to overthrow the democratic government of Ukraine(OUN) known CIA assets proof? I mean, basically, it was the most blatant coup in world history. But if you literally want the USA government to totally in details describe and admit to every detail you will just have to wait a few years or decades until it is released in a FOI report like the fact that USA created ISIS.Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:27 AM
- I'm assuming you mean the $5 billion the US invested over 20+ years? Russia invested $40 billion in the same time frame - 8x as much as the US (see Sergey Glazyev's March 24, 2014 interview with National Review). Financial investments in democratic institutions are not proof of a coup, but nice try.
- NATO controlled media? There's no such thing.
- Why is it such a big deal with Nuland giving out cookies?
- John McCain didn't encourage them to "overthrow their government". When did he say that? He said "We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe."
- Did you know that government officials from European countries and the EU also encouraged the protesters?
- Nuland and the US were clearly operating to keep the opposition united, and yes, they pushed their interests by encouraging Yatsenyuk to take the lead. But Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok were already established as opposition politicians in general, and had been accepted by the Maidan protesters before the US arrived on the scene. And besides, the Feb 21st agreement was what the US wanted - it would have placed those three figures in a coalition government with Yanukovych, followed by early elections. All of that considered, the fact that they emerged as leaders after Yanukovych left is really not surprising.
- Obama admitted what everyone knew - the US had entered into the crisis on the side of the EU to push Yanukovych to listen to the protesters. Russia, of course, was pushing Yanukovych to crack down. I remember when RT and Sputnik tried to twist it to mean Obama was claiming the US was behind a coup - it was the most blatant spin/propaganda I've ever seen. Go back and watch Obama's interview with Fareed Zakaria.
- You'll have to provide at least an ounce of proof that ultranationalist, far-right, or neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine are "CIA assets". Otherwise you're just another baseless conspiracy theorist.
- Yes, the US and USSR (Russia) have engaged in regime changes in the past. There's zero proof though, that there was a coup in Ukraine.Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:01 AM
lol, yes, that is what is called a coup. Not only a coup but the most blatant coup in history I would say, I can only imagine if Russia funded trained and funded demonstrators Mexico, Russian leaders went to Mexico handing out cookies and giving support to the demonstrators, and ordering the opposition which leaders should be installed after the coup and so forth,and then afterwards openly admitting it did it.Hilarious. But I guess you are paid troll, and even when FYI releases information where USA planned the entire thing in detail, like it has with its creation of ISIS and al-qaeda you will deny it still.
Here is the head of Stratfor by the way, the "Shadow CIA" saying the exact same thing, xD
"Head of Stratfor, 'Private CIA,' Says Overthrow of Yanukovych Was 'The Most Blatant Coup in History'"
http://www.washingtonsblog....Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 2:34 PM
Watch the video of Obama's interview ( https://www.youtube.com/wat... - he clearly states "Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine." In other words, he openly admits to helping form the February 21st "Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine". Obviously he's not talking about the Rada removing Yanukovych from office.
Nuland's conversation backs this up. It shows the Obama administration was helping Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok stay united. Yanukovych was individually offering them posts in his government. The US was pushing them to resist those offers. This culminated in the February 21st agreement, where the US and EU got additional concessions from Yanukovych - a coalition government with those three leaders, early elections, and investigations of the violence on Maidan.
As for the head of Stratfor, George Friedman went on to write an article in which he said that his quote was completely taken out of context ( http://www.businessinsider.... .
You think handing out cookies means people are funding coups. I'll have to remember that when giving cookies to my children.Duendao Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:21 PM
Civil wars dont involve foreign powers invading another country...Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 2:43 PM
So what is doing the US in syria?Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:01 AM
Indeed, that is why there is a civil war in Ukraine. "Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:48 PM
Russia does not steal anything, the Crimean people voted to join Russia and that is their democratic right.
"With two studies out of the way, both Western-based, it seems without question that the vast majority of Crimeans do not feel they were duped into voting for annexation, and that life with Russia will be better for them and their families than life with Ukraine. A year ago this week, 83% of Crimeans went to the polling stations and almost 97% expressed support for reunification with their former Soviet parent."
https://www.forbes.com/site...Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:28 AM
Crimea was a coup, initiated on February 27, 2014 when armed/masked militants (Spetsnaz?) stormed the Crimean parliamentary building, raised the Russian flag over the building, and barricaded themselves inside. During this occupation, an emergency parliamentary session was called. It is unknown how many MPs participated - a number have said they were not there, even though they were claimed to have been there. But in that emergency session, the Crimean PM (Anatolii Mohyliov) was illegally removed and replaced with an unpopular pro-Russian MP (Sergey Aksyonov). Aksyonov immediately called for the independence referendum. Just to emphasize, all of this happened while the parliamentary building was under armed occupation from unknown pro-Russian forces (most likely Spetsnaz), and against the will of the current Crimean and Ukrainian governments. Interestingly, just the day before (February 26), the Crimean government had told pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters outside the building that there would be no effort to seek independence from Ukraine.
It was, without doubt, a coup.Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:03 AM
Derp, there is quite literally a source right above you debunking your lies and linking to several USA and Germany opinion polls verifying that the result of the referendum was reflective of the democratic will of the Crimean people.BlackRoseML Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 1:27 PM
I didn't dispute the poll. What I said is that before the referendum Russia instigated a coup, suppressed protests, and created a sense of fear in Crimea that drove people to think Kiev was filled with Nazis. Of course they voted to join Russia after that.
Isn't that what happened throughout Ukraine when "protestors" (more accurately thugs) took over the Regional Administration buildings and occupied them? Well, before the coup in Kiev, numerous government buildings in other regions were occupied.
You said that it was a big propaganda exercise to portray being pro-Ukraine as being pro-Nazi. Then why was the Euromaidan far right? Why were the most prominent activists and leaders of the "revolution" associated with Svodoba and Right Sector? Why were there thugs destroying monuments to Lenin? Why were many activists extolling Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych?
The people on the Maidan behaved like far-right lunatics and brigands. No wonder why there it isn't difficult to conceive of them as Nazis.
If I were a woman in Crimea, I would be grateful that I am not living under the jackboot of the Maidan thugs.
Feb 24, 2018 | www.unz.com
Russia has reduced and challenged the US pursuit of a uni-polar global empire following the recovery of its sovereignty and economic growth after the disaster of the 1990's. With the ascent of President Putin, the US-EU empire lost their biggest and most lucrative client and source of naked pillage.
Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia, confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon.
Washington's efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed. Out of frustration Washington has resorted to a growing series of failed provocations and conflicts between the US and the EU, within the US between Trump and the Democrats; and among the warlords controlling the Trump cabinet.
Germany has continued lucrative trade ties with Russia, despite US sanctions, underscoring the decline of US power to dictate policy to the European Union. The Democratic Party and the ultra-militaristic Clinton faction remains pathologically nostalgic for a return to the 1990's Golden Age of Pillage (before Putin). Clinton's faction is fixated on the politics of revanchism . As a result, they vigorously fought against candidate Donald Trump's campaign promises to pursue a new realistic understanding with Russia. The Russia-Gate Investigation is not merely a domestic electoral squabble led by hysterical 'liberals.' What is a stake is nothing less than a profound conflict over the remaking of the US global map. Trump recognized and accepted the re-emergence of Russia as a global power to be 'contained', while the Democrats campaigned to roll-back reality, overthrow Putin and return to the robber baron orgies of the Clinton years. As a result of this ongoing strategic conflict, Washington is unable to develop a coherent global strategy, which in turn has further weakened US influence in the EU in Europe and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, the intense Democratic onslaught against Trump's initial foreign policy pronouncements regarding Russia succeeded in destroying his 'pivot to realism' and facilitated the rise of a fanatical militaristic faction within his cabinet, which have intensified the anti-Russia policies of the Clintonite Democrats. In less than a year, all of Trump's realist advisers and cabinet members have been purged and replaced by militarists. Their hard core confrontational anti-Russia policy has become the platform for launching a global military strategy based on vast increases in military spending, demands that the EU nations increase their military budgets, and open opposition to an EU-centered military alliance, such as the one recently proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Despite President Trump's campaign promises to 'pull-back', the US has re-entered Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to 'rollback and aggression' against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies.
China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world.
Feb 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Les | Dec 31, 2016 12:09:53 PM | 4Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.
Feb 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
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.
Who is the United States government and media supporting? The Nazis . You think I'm joking. Here are the facts, but we must go back to World War II :
When World War II began a large part of western Ukraine welcomed the German soldiers as liberators from the recently enforced Soviet rule and openly collaborated with the Germans. IThe Soviet leader, Stalin, imposed policies that caused the deaths of almost 7 million Ukrainians in the 1930s--an era known as the Holomodor).
Ukrainian divisions, regiments and battalions were formed, such as SS Galizien, Nachtigal and Roland, and served under German leadership. In the first few weeks of the war, more than 80 thousand people from the Galizien region volunteered for the SS Galizien, which later known for its extreme cruelty towards Polish, Jewish and Russian people on the territory of Ukraine.
Members of these military groups came mostly from the organization of Ukrainian nationalists ka the OUN, which was founded in 1929. It's leader was Stepan Bandera, known then and today for his extreme anti-semitic and anti-communist views.
CIA documents just recently declassified show strong ties between US intelligence and Ukrainian nationalists since 1946.
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?
Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy was the founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine, a fascist party styled on Hitler's Nazis, with membership restricted to ethnic Ukrainians.
The Social National Party would go on to become Svoboda, the far-right nationalist party whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok was one of the three most high profile leaders of the Euromaidan protests. . . .
Overseeing the armed forces alongside Parubiy as the Deputy Secretary of National Security is Dmytro Yarosh , the leader of the Right Sector – a group of hardline nationalist streetfighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine.
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.
But Viktor Yuschenko is not an American who speaks a foreign language. He is very much a Ukrainian nationalist and steeped in the anti-Semitism that dominates the ideology of western Ukraine. During the final months of his Presidency, Yuschenko made the following declaration:
In conclusion I would like to say something that is long awaited by the Ukrainian patriots for many years I have signed a decree for the unbroken spirit and standing for the idea of fighting for independent Ukraine. I declare Stepan Bandera a national hero of Ukraine.
Without hesitation or shame, Yuschenko endorsed the legacy of Bandera, who had happily aligned with the Nazis in pursuit of his own nationalist goals. Those goals, however, did not include Jews. And here is the ultimate irony--Bandera was born in Austria, not the Ukraine. So much for ideological consistency.
US interference was not confined to serendipitous relationships, such as the Yuschenko 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 :
a USAID program with other National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated groups: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In 2010, the reported disbursement for CEPPS in Ukraine was nearly $5 million.
The program's efforts are described on the USAID website as providing "training for political party activists and locally elected officials to improve communication with civic groups and citizens, and the development of NGO-led advocacy campaigns on electoral and political process issues."
Anyone prepared to argue that it would be okay for Russia, through its Foreign Ministry, to contribute several million dollars for training party activists in the United States?
What we do not know is how much money was being spent on covert activities directed and managed by the CIA. During the political upheaval in April 2014 (Maidan 2), there was this news item:
Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine's communications systems – and Washington isn't about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.
Do you think Americans would be outraged if the head of Russia's version of the CIA, the SVR or FSB, traveled quietly to the United States to meet with Donald Trump prior to his election? I think that would qualify as meddling.
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 catastrophies since Pearl Harbor or 9-11.
There clearly is meddling going on in America's political landscape. But it ain'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.
Posted at 01:24 PM in Publius Tacitus , Russiagate | Permalink
james , 23 February 2018 at 02:11 PMgood post pt.. thanks... i never knew ''the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department.'' that is informative.. i recall following this closely back in 2014.. the hypocrisy on display in the usa at present is truly amazing and frightening at the same time.. it appears that the public can be cowed very easily..Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , 23 February 2018 at 02:29 PMgood points well made.Adrestia , 23 February 2018 at 02:39 PM
On the twitters, you would be accused of "whatabouttism" - which is the crime of excusing Putin's diabolism by pointing out American interference with the internal politics an elections of other nations. 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.It's not only the US. The EU borg are also meddling. In my country we had a referendum about Ukraine. The population voted "Against" on the question: "Are you for or against the Approval Act of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?"Tom , 23 February 2018 at 03:22 PM
This was the only referendum that was done since it was implemented in 2015. A second one is being organized on the Intelligence and Security Services which has controversial parts with regard to access to internet traffic.
This referendum will take place on March 21, 2018 and will probably be voted against because of the controversial elements (in part because there is still living memory of our Eastern neighbors in the second world war)
These 2 will probably be the last. Our house of representatives have voted yesterday to end the referendum law (with a majority vote of 76 out of 150 representatives!)
So much for democracy. The reason stated that the referendum was controversial (probably because they voted against the EU borg). Interesting is that the proposal was done by the party that wanted the referendum as a principal point. This will almost certainly ensure that the little respect left for traditional parties is gone and they will not be able to get a majority next elections.
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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIL1FWCIlu8I 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.Jony Kanuck , 23 February 2018 at 03:27 PM
Even in the nineties anybody who travelled in Ukraine could feel the tension between East and West. The Russians were certainly aware of it and mindful not to rip the country apart they cut the Ukrainians an enormous amount of slack. Of course they supported "their" candidates and shoveled money into their insatiable throats. Only to be disappointed time and again. "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". Really the West should have been content with things as they were. But the West wanted it all. They wanted Ukraine firmly in the "Western" camp. Thereby they ripped the country apart. As a good friend of mine who has studied in Kiev in Soviet times remarked: to ask Ukraine to choose between East and West is like asking a child in divorce proceedings who it liked more: daddy or mummy?
Really the West (not only the US -the Eu is also guilty) is to blame. It is long past time to get down from the high horse and stop spreading chaos and mayhem in the name of democracy,
Publius,bluetonga , 23 February 2018 at 03:28 PM
An informative column.
The coup & later developments soured me on the MSMedia. I'm an initiate into modern Russian history: NATO in the Ukraine = WW3!
Some additional history:
A Ukrainian nation did not exist until after WW1; one piece was Russian, another Polish and another Austrian. The Holodomor is exaggerated for political purposes; the actual number dead from famine appears to be 'only' 2M. It wasn't Soviet bloody mindedness, it was Soviet agricultural mismanagement; collectivizing agriculture drops production. They did this right before the great drought of the 1930s - remember the dustbowl. There was a famine in Kazakestan at the same time; 1.5M died. The Nazis raised 5 SS divisions out of the Ukraine. As the Germans were pushed back they ran night drops of ordnance into the Ukraine as long as they could. The Soviets had to carry on divisional level counter insurgency until 1956. After the war, Gehlen, Nazi intelligence czar, kept himself out of jail by turning over his files, routes & agents to the US. He also stoked anti Soviet paranoia. The Brits ended up with a whole Ukr SS division that they didn't want, so they gave it to Canada. Which is why Canada has such cranky policy around the Ukraine!A very interesting conversation between Victoria Nulland and ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, caught at picking the future rulers of liberated Ukraine :Publius Tacitus -> Tom... , 23 February 2018 at 03:31 PM
This is not meddling. This is a defensive (preemptive?) action against Russian agression.Tom,Publius Tacitus -> bluetonga... , 23 February 2018 at 03:36 PM
I'm sure you'd like us to ignore Bandera. I bet he liked children and dogs. Just like Hitler. Bandera was a genuine bad guy. There is no rehabilitating that scourge on society. Nice try though.I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your final comment is sarcasm. When you have two senior US Government officials who will and will not constitute a foreign government, you have gone beyond meddling. It is worse.VietnamVet , 23 February 2018 at 03:57 PMPTThe Twisted Genius , 23 February 2018 at 03:59 PM
The media is hysterical. Today, Putin's Facebook Bot Collaborator contacted the Kremlin before his mercenaries attacked Americans in Syria. I've never seen such an intense barrage of propaganda before in my life. America is fracturing apart like Ukraine. This is no coincidence. In both countries, oligarchs have seized power, the rule of law abandoned and there is a rush of corruption. A World War is near. The realists are gone. The Moguls are pushing Donald Trump pull the trigger. Either in Syria with an assault to destroy Hezbollah (Iran) for good or American trainers going over the top of trenches in Donbass in a centennial attack of the dead.Publius Tacitus,TimmyB , 23 February 2018 at 04:08 PM
Hallelujah and jubilation! We're in full agreement on this subject. What we did to Ukraine is shameful in every way. A remember a video of a pallet of money being unloaded from a USG place at Kiev during Maidan 2. That's in addition to Nuland's bag of cookies. I always thought that one of the objectives of our meddling in Ukraine was to make Sevastopol into a NATO naval base. I would definitely want to see a full account of what support we provided to the nazi thugs of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor. We have a long history of meddling, at least twice as long as the Soviet Union/Russia. But that does not mean we should stop investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election. Just stop hyperventilating over it. It no more deserves risking a war than our continuing mutual espionage.Our leaders are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. The Ukraine was almost evenly divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian sides. Our government, rather than waiting for an election, assisted an armed rebellion against the elected pro-Russian government. Among the groups our government allied with in this endeavor were out and out Nazis.
As a result of this rebellion, the Russian majority in Crimea overwhelming voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they had been part of for over 150-years. While our government continues to provide military aid to Israel, which used force of arms take over the West Bank, it imposed sanctions against Russia when the people of Crimea voted to join their former countrymen. Mind boggling.
Feb 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Ukraine is crucial in this Russian sense of territorial imperative. It's a tragically split country, with part tilting toward the West and part facing eastward toward Russia. That makes for a delicate political and geopolitical situation, but for centuries that delicate political and geopolitical situation has been overseen by Russia. Now the West wants to end that. Upending a duly elected (though corrupt) Ukrainian president was part of the plan. Getting Ukraine into NATO is the endgame.
Note that the Ukrainian revolution occurred in 2014, which just happened to be the year, according to the U.S. indictments, that Russia initiated its grand program to influence America's 2016 elections. Kennan was right: Russia inevitably would react badly to the NATO encirclement policy, and then America's anti-Russian cadres would cite that as evidence that the encirclement was necessary all along. That's precisely what's happening now.
Which brings us to the fifth and final fundamental reality surrounding the revelation of Russia's grand effort to influence the U.S. election. It was an incredible blunder. Given all that's happened in U.S.-Russian relations this century, there probably wasn't much prospect that those relations could ever be normalized, much less made cordial. But that is now utterly impossible.
Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of seeking better relations with Russia. After getting elected he repeatedly asserted in his first news conference that it would be "positive," "good," or "great" if "we could get along with Russia." Unlike most of America's elites, he vowed to seek Moscow's cooperation on global issues, accepted some U.S. share of blame for the two countries' sour relations, and acknowledged "the right of all nations to put their interests first."
This suggested a possible dramatic turn in U.S.-Russian relations -- an end to the encirclement push, curtailment of the hostile rhetoric, a pullback on economic sanctions, and serious efforts to work with Russia on such nettlesome matters as Syria and Ukraine. That was largely put on hold with the narrative of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and vague allegations of campaign "collusion" with Russia on behalf of Trump's presidential ambitions.
It doesn't appear likely that investigators will turn up any evidence of collusion that rises to any kind of criminality. But it doesn't matter now, in terms of U.S.-Russian relations, because these indictments will cement the anti-Russian sentiment of Americans for the foreseeable future. No overtures of the kind envisioned by Trump will be possible for any president for a long time. It won't matter that every nation does it or that America in particular has done it or that the West's aggressive encirclement contributed to the Russian actions. The U.S.-Russian hostility is set. Where it leads is impossible to predict, but it won't be good. It could be tragic.
Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative . His latest book, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century , was released in September.
Feb 20, 2018 | www.rt.com
Russophobia - "blame it all on Russia" - is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for their legitimate grievances
It is an age-old statecraft technique to seek unity within a state by depicting an external enemy or threat. Russia is the bête noire again, as it was during the Cold War years as part of the Soviet Union.
But the truth is Western states are challenged by internal problems. Ironically, by denying their own internal democratic challenges, Western authorities are only hastening their institutional demise.
Russophobia -- "blame it all on Russia" -- is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for their legitimate grievances.
The dominant "official" narrative, from the US to Europe, is that "malicious" Russia is "sowing division;""eroding democratic institutions;" and "undermining public trust" in systems of governance, credibility of established political parties, and the news media.
This narrative has shifted up a gear since the election of Donald Trump to the White House in 2016, with accusations that the Kremlin somehow ran "influence operations" to help get him into office. This outlandish yarn defies common sense. It is also running out of thread to keep spinning.
Paradoxically, even though President Trump has rightly rebuffed such dubious claims of "Russiagate" interference as "fake news", he has at other times undermined himself by subscribing to the notion that Moscow is projecting a campaign of "subversion against the US and its European allies." See for example the National Security Strategy he signed off in December.
Pathetically, it's become indoctrinated belief among the Western political class that "devious Russians" are out to "collapse" Western democracies by "weaponizing disinformation" and spreading "fake news" through Russia-based news outlets like RT and Sputnik.
Totalitarian-like, there seems no room for intelligent dissent among political or media figures.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has chimed in to accuse Moscow of "sowing division;" Dutch state intelligence claim Russia destabilized the US presidential election; the European Union commissioner for security, Sir Julian King, casually lampoons Russian news media as "Kremlin-orchestrated disinformation" to destabilize the 28-nation bloc; CIA chief Mike Pompeo recently warned that Russia is stepping up its efforts to tarnish the Congressional mid-term elections later this year.
On and on goes the narrative that Western states are essentially victims of a nefarious Russian assault to bring about collapse.
A particularly instructive presentation of this trope was given in a recent commentary by Texan Republican Representative Will Hurd. In his piece headlined, "Russia is our adversary" , he claims: "Russia is eroding our democracy by exploiting the nation's divisions. To save it, Americans need to begin working together."
Congressman Hurd asserts: "Russia has one simple goal: to erode trust in our democratic institutions It has weaponized disinformation to achieve this goal for decades in Eastern and Central Europe; in 2016, Western Europe and America were aggressively targeted as well."
Lamentably, all these claims above are made with scant, or no, verifiable evidence. It is simply a Big Lie technique of relentless repetition transforming itself into "fact" .
It's instructive to follow Congressman Hurd's thought-process a bit further.
He contends: "When the public loses trust in the media, the Russians are winning. When the press is hyper-critical of Congress the Russians are winning. When Congress and the general public disagree the Russians are winning. When there is friction between Congress and the executive branch [the president] resulting in further erosion of trust in our democratic institutions, the Russians are winning."
As a putative solution, Representative Hurd calls for "a national counter-disinformation strategy" against Russian "influence operations" , adding, "Americans must stop contributing to a corrosive political environment".
The latter is a chilling advocacy of uniformity tantamount to a police state whereby any dissent or criticism is a "thought-crime."
It is, however, such anti-democratic and paranoid thinking by Western politicians -- aided and abetted by dutiful media -- that is killing democracy from within, not some supposed foreign enemy.
There is evidently a foreboding sense of demise in authority and legitimacy among Western states, even if the real cause for the demise is ignored or denied. Systems of governance, politicians of all stripes, and institutions like the established media and intelligence services are increasingly held in contempt and distrust by the public.
Whose fault is that loss of political and moral authority? Western governments and institutions need to take a look in the mirror.
The endless, criminal wars that the US and its European NATO allies have been waging across the planet over the past two decades is one cogent reason why the public has lost faith in grandiose official claims about respecting democracy and international law.
The US and European media have shown reprehensible dereliction of duty to inform the public accurately about their governments' warmongering intrigues. Take the example of Syria. When does the average Western citizen ever read in the corporate Western media about how the US and its NATO allies have covertly ransacked that country through weaponizing terrorist proxies?
How then can properly informed citizens be expected to have respect for such criminal government policies and the complicit news media covering up for their crimes?
Western public disaffection with governments, politicians and media surely stems also from the grotesque gulf in social inequality and poverty among citizens from slavish adherence to economic policies that enrich the wealthy while consigning the vast majority to unrelenting austerity.
The destabilizing impact on societies from oppressive economic conditions is a far more plausible cause for grievance than outlandish claims made by the political class about alleged "Russian interference".
Yet the Western media indulge this fantastical "Russiagate" escapism instead of campaigning on real social problems facing ordinary citizens. No wonder such media are then viewed with disdain and distrust. Adding insult to injury, these media want the public to believe Russia is the enemy?
Instead of acknowledging and addressing real threats to citizens: economic insecurity, eroding education and health services, lost career opportunities for future generations, the looming dangers of ecological adversity, wars prompted by Western governments trashing international and diplomacy, and so on -- the Western public is insultingly plied with corny tales of Russia's "malign influence" and "assault on democracy."
Just think of the disproportionate amount of media attention and public resources wasted on the Russiagate scandal over the past year. And now gradually emerging is the real scandal that the American FBI probably colluded with the Obama administration to corrupt the democratic process against Trump.
Again, is there any wonder the public has sheer contempt and distrust for "authorities" that have been lying through their teeth and playing them for fools?
The collapsing state of Western democracies has got nothing to do with Russia. The Russophobia of blaming Russia for the demise of Western institutions is an attempt at scapegoating for the very real problems facing governments and institutions like the news media. Those problems are inherent and wholly owned by these governments owing to chronic anti-democratic functioning, as well as systematic violation of international law in their pursuit of criminal wars and other subterfuges for regime-change objectives.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Feb 17, 2018 | isreview.org
Haiti after the quake
By Ashley Smith Issue #70 : Features
THE EARTHQUAKE that shook Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on January 12 is one of the worst disasters in human history. The quake flattened houses, hotels, and government buildings, including the National Palace and UN headquarters. By some estimates, 60 percent of Port-au-Prince's buildings collapsed. Even more damage struck some of the smaller towns near the capital like Leogane and Jacmel. At least 230,000 people were left dead, 300,000 in need of medical attention, 1.5 million homeless, and over 2 million bereft of food and water.
The Obama administration reacted immediately. "I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives," Obama told the nation in a speech he delivered the day after the quake. "The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief -- the food, water, and medicine -- that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world." 1
This seemed a far cry from the reaction of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina, where tens of thousands of the city's poor, mostly Black, residents were left stranded and without help as Bush sent troops and Blackwater paramilitaries to police the city. The lack of a prompt humanitarian response prompted rap artist Kanye West to famously state, "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."
Yet while Obama said all the right things, the gap between his words and deeds has been immense. When all is said and done, the Haitian relief effort looks eerily like a replay of Katrina, only on a larger scale. A month into the disaster, the U.S. and UN were managing to feed only 1 million people, leaving more than a million people without relief aid. 2 Instead of mobilizing to provide water, food, and housing for the victims, the U.S. focused on occupying the country with 20,000 U.S. troops and surrounding it with a flotilla of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships.
This military effort actually impeded the delivery of urgent aid. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," three doctors who volunteered to provide emergency services wrote, "Four years ago the initial medical response to Hurricane Katrina was ill equipped, understaffed, poorly coordinated and delayed. Criticism of the paltry federal efforts was immediate and fierce. Unfortunately, the response to the latest international disaster in Haiti has been no better, compounding the catastrophe." After they describe the horrific conditions in Haiti's hospitals, the doctors continue, "The U.S. response to the earthquake should be considered an embarrassment. Our operation received virtually no support from any branch of the U.S. government, including the State Department . Later, as we were leaving Haiti, we were appalled to see warehouse-size quantities of unused medicines, food and other supplies at the airport, surrounded by hundreds of U.S. and international soldiers standing around aimlessly." 3
The U.S. government and media have covered up these realities with puff pieces about the supposed success of U.S. relief efforts. They have also wrongly portrayed this catastrophe as simply a natural disaster, ignoring the historical and social causes of Haiti's poverty -- principally the imperialist stranglehold over the nation -- that exacerbated the impact of the earthquake.
If the military flotilla is not there to deliver aid, why is it there? The Obama administration has used the cover of humanitarian aid to occupy the country in pursuit of several goals. First and foremost, after disastrous wars that have discredited U.S. interventionism, Obama hopes through the operation in Haiti to win back domestic support for military intervention. What better means to do that than to present a military invasion and occupation as a humanitarian relief effort?
With a flotilla of ships surrounding the country, the U.S. also aims to repatriate desperate Haitians and prevent a wave of refugees reaching Florida. Through this assertion of power, the U.S. aims also to reassert its dominance in the Caribbean and Latin America over regional rivals like Venezuela and international ones like China. Finally, the U.S. intends to impose a traditional neoliberal economic program on Haiti itself in the interest of U.S. multinational corporations and the Haitian ruling class.
Not just a natural disaster
Most of the media reported the earthquake as a natural disaster. While this is no doubt true, that is only part of the story. Certainly, there was talk of Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with over 80 percent of its population making about $2 a day. Media acknowledged that the Haitian state was completely unprepared and unable to respond to the crisis not only in Port-au-Prince, but throughout the country. However, the reason for these conditions -- the historical context -- is left out. The story of Haiti's poverty is merely an excuse to further justify why Haiti needs help from the United States, even though the "help" Haiti has received from the U.S. and other world powers is precisely the reason for Haiti's extreme poverty.
Some conservative commentators blamed Haitians for their situation. Pat Robertson on The 700 Club claimed that the disaster was the result of a pact that Haitians made with the devil during their revolution from 1791 to 1804. The devil was merely taking his revenge on Haitians more than 200 years later. 4 In a more polite, but no less racist manner, David Brooks argued that the root cause of the social problems in Haiti was their "progress-resistant" culture. He claimed,
There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10. We're all supposed to politely respect each other's cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them. 5
These are extreme versions of a dominant media story that essentially blames the victims of the earthquake. None of this answers the real questions. Why are the majority of Haitians so poor? Why according to the mayor of Port-au-Prince, were 60 percent of the buildings unsafe in normal conditions? Why is there no building regulation in a city that sits on a fault line? Why was the Haitian state so weak and disorganized before and after the earthquake? To answer these questions, we must delve into Haiti's history.
European slavery, revolution, and U.S. domination
The answer lies in Haiti's history of European conquest, slavery, resistance, and U.S. imperial domination. At every step, instead of aiding the Haitian majority, the U.S. has manipulated the country's politics and exploited its poverty in pursuit of profit, and used it as a pawn in its competition with regional and international rivals. In doing so the U.S. has reduced Haiti to abject poverty and incapacitated its government to manage the society and the current crisis. This history, a second and unnatural fault line, interacted with the natural one to make the earthquake so devastating.
Columbus set off the first tremors when he landed on the island he called Hispaniola in 1492. He proceeded to enslave the Taino natives, whose population was estimated to be more than half a million. The combination of European disease, massacre, and brutal exploitation led to the genocide of the native population. Spain ceded the western section of the island in 1697 to France, which renamed it San Domingue. Spain remained in control of the eastern section of the island, Santo Domingo, which would become the Dominican Republic. French merchants and planters turned their colony into a vast slave plantation and slaves from Africa replaced Indians and white indentured servants. The colony was a killing field where slaves were literally worked to death -- half the African slaves who arrived died within a few years. But it was an enormously profitable one. San Domingue was the richest colony in the new world; the slave plantations produced half of the world's coffee, 40 percent of its sugar, as well as a host of other commodities. 6
In 1791, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a literate freed slave, led the world's first successful slave revolution. Toussaint defeated the three great empires of the age -- France, Spain, and England -- which all attempted to defeat the great slave army. During the struggle, the French managed to kidnap Toussaint and jail him in France, where he died. His second-in-command, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, led the final victory and established the new nation of Haiti in 1804.
Haiti's very existence was a threat to all the empires and their colonies. They all lived off profits from plantation slavery. So the great powers quarantined the country, attempting to prevent the spread of slave revolution. France finally recognized Haiti in 1824, but on the condition that it pay reparations to France for the loss of its property -- its slaves. In today's terms this sum amounted to $21 billion. Thus France shackled Haiti with debt at its birth that it did not finish repaying until 1947, fundamentally distorting the nation's development. 7
Under the eagle
The U.S. was one of the last powers to recognize Haiti, finally doing so in 1862. It became interested in Haiti not to help it, but instead to plunder it. In the late nineteenth century the U.S. became an imperialist power, extending its talons to snatch control of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific from potential rivals like Spain, Britain, and Germany. The U.S. launched its imperial conquest under the guise of liberating Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain. Puerto Rico and the Philippines became U.S. colonies -- U.S. marines killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to conquer the island -- while Cuba became a colony in all but name. The U.S. then policed the Caribbean as if it were an American lake. The number of occupations and invasions over the following decades is too many to list.
A leader of this conquest was Major General Smedley Butler, who became one of the most decorated marines in history. After he turned against U.S. imperialism later in life, he summed up his experience:
I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps . And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism . I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909–1912 . I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 8
The U.S. saw Haiti as one of the key sites to establish client governments to protect U.S. interests in the Caribbean. 9 In 1915 the U.S. used the pretext of political turmoil in Haiti to invade the country and occupy it until 1934. The U.S. plundered the island, forced it to repay its debts to the U.S., and established involuntary corvee gang labor to build roads. United States corporations, hoping to take advantage of Haiti's cheap labor, gained control of 266,000 acres of Haitian land, displacing thousands of Haitian peasants. Haitians rose up against this exploitation in a mass liberation movement, the Cacos Rebellion, led by Charlemagne Peralte. The U.S. slaughtered thousands of resistance fighters, crucifying Peralte in Port-au-Prince.
The U.S. also established one of the most reactionary institutions in Haitian society, the Haitian National Army. The U.S. designed that army not to fight foreign wars but to repress the country's peasant masses.
The neoliberal "plan of death"
While the U.S. ended its occupation of Haiti -- prompted in part by a renewed wave of protests and strikes by workers and students -- it continued to intervene in the country's politics and economics with devastating consequences. From 1957 to 1986, the U.S. supported the father-son dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The Duvaliers' dictatorship maintained power through the army and a vast network of death squads called the Tonton Macoutes. The U.S. backed them as a counterweight to Fidel Castro who had aligned Cuba with Russia in the Cold War struggle for Latin America and the Caribbean. Most observers believe that Papa Doc Duvalier's Macoutes killed tens of thousands. 10 The Duvaliers' economic vision for Haiti -- one that has continued to motivate U.S. plans for Haiti -- was to establish Haiti as low-tax, low-wage, non-union offshore assembly site for U.S. corporations.
Though half of Haitians lived in dire poverty, Haiti until the mid–1980s was self-sufficient in the production of rice, its most important staple. All this changed with the imposition of neoliberal policies, pushed by the United States, that required Haiti to slash tariffs, privatize state-owned industries, and cut the state's agricultural budget. Haitian activists would come to call it a "plan of death."
President Reagan pushed this plan as part of his Caribbean Basin Initiative that aimed to open up the area to U.S. corporations and U.S. agricultural products. Baby Doc opened up the Haitian market to a wave of U.S. agribusiness exports like rice and wheat, which are heavily subsidized. The Haitian peasants were simply unable to compete with these cheap, subsidized imports, and Haiti's rural economy gradually collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of peasants abandoned the countryside for the cities to seek some kind of employment. Deprived of their livelihood, peasants turned to cutting down trees to make charcoal for cooking fuel, leading to the massive deforestation of the country, and the further destruction of Haiti's already depleted soil. 11 As a result, Port-au-Prince, which had been a small town of 50,000 in the 1950s, exploded in size to nearly 800,000 in the 1980s and well over 2 million today. 12
Reagan and Baby Doc claimed that they would absorb these dislocated peasants into an enlarged sweatshop industry. But the various factories in the export processing zones only created about 60,000 jobs. As a result, the masses in Port-au-Prince gathered in slums, left to survive on remittances from relatives who had fled abroad and income scraped together in a highly unstable informal economy.
Finally, the U.S. tried to subject Haiti to the same tourist industry that swept the rest of the Caribbean. Baby Doc cut deals with Club Med and various hotel chains to offer the country's beaches for tourism. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton first came to Haiti on their honeymoon as part of the jet set that Baby Doc welcomed into the swank resorts on the island. It would not be the last time the Clintons played around in Haiti.
Baby Doc took out $1.9 billion in loans from the U.S., other powers, and international financial institutions to bankroll this neoliberal "reform" of the country. 13 Meanwhile, Haitians suffered a calamitous drop in their standard of living; during the 1980s, absolute poverty increased by 60 percent -- from 50 to 80 percent of the population. 14 The dictator and his family joined the American and Haitian ruling class to party and profit at the expense of Haitian peasants, workers, and the urban poor.
Killing social reform
Peasants, workers, and the urban poor rose up against Baby Doc in opposition to this social catastrophe in a tremendous social movement called Lavalas (the Creole word for a cleansing flood). A young Catholic priest and advocate of liberation theology, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, became the spokesperson of the struggle. In 1986, Lavalas succeeded in driving Baby Doc from power. The U.S. whisked him away into exile in France along with $505 million stolen from the country. 15 Duvalier left behind a shattered country, shackled again with the odious debt accrued by a dictator to finance the neoliberal disaster.
Under pressure from the movement -- but also to stem the tide of impoverished Haitian refugees pouring out of the country -- the U.S. and Haitian governments finally agreed to hold elections in 1990. The U.S. spent $36 million to try to get their candidate, a former World Bank employee, elected. He received only 14 percent of the vote. Aristide defeated fourteen rivals, winning two-thirds of the vote, on a platform of extensive popular social reforms. The U.S. and the Haitian ruling class literally saw red. They thought that, in the words of a U.S. embassy official in Port-au-Prince, a "Marxist maniac" had been elected to the Haitian government. 16 President George Bush Sr. backed a military coup against Aristide in 1991 and tacitly backed the brutal regime that ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994.
The military massacred thousands of Lavalas activists and drove 38,000 more out of the country. Bush Sr. and his successor President Bill Clinton repatriated most of these refugees and jailed others in Krome Detention Center in Florida and Guantánamo in Cuba. After an international outcry, the U.S. opted for a face-saving intervention to restore Aristide to power in 1994, but on the condition that he agree to the neoliberal plan of death. Aristide signed on to the deal but resisted its full implementation during his remaining two years in office. He did abolish the Haitian military in 1995 -- a great victory for the movement -- and implemented some reforms, but it was far from what he had promised during the struggle against Duvalier. "The author of a text entitled 'Capitalism is a Mortal Sin,'" wrote Paul Farmer at the time,
now meets regularly with representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and AID [U.S. Agency for International Development]. He was once the priest of the poor; now he's president of a beleaguered nation, run into the ground by a vicious military and business elite and by their friends abroad. Aristide finds himself most indebted to the very people and institutions he once denounced from the pulpit. 17
Aristide's Lavalas ally and successor, René Préval, implemented much of the U.S. neoliberal agenda during his term from 1996 to 2000. 18
Aristide would again run for and win the presidency in 2000, to the great irritation of Clinton and then-President George W. Bush. In his second term, Aristide implemented reforms such as raising the minimum wage and building schools. He also began to demand that France refund the $21 billion that it forced Haiti to pay from 1824 to 1947. 19 At the same time, however, Aristide backed new sweatshop developments in Ounaminthe and agreed to other neoliberal measures. 20 But the U.S. was not appeased and France was outraged.
Another coup and U.S. occupation
The U.S., France, and Canada used the pretext of charges that Aristide manipulated the parliamentary elections, something they usually tolerate with their own allies, to justify a destabilization campaign against Aristide and yet another coup. Bush, of course, had no ground to stand on as he himself had stolen the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Nevertheless, the U.S., Canada, and France imposed economic sanctions, mounted a vast propaganda campaign against Aristide, backed the ruling-class political opposition in the Group of 184, and aided the right-wing death squads. Finally, in 2004, as the death squads swept through the country, the U.S. kidnapped Aristide, whisked him out of the country to temporary exile in the Central African Republic and to final exile in South Africa. Thus, on the two hundredth anniversary of its declaration of independence, Haiti was occupied by the U.S., yet again.
Soon the U.S. delegated the occupation to the UN and its 9,000 mostly Brazilian troops, who continue to patrol the country to this day. This UN force, MINUSTAH, protected the U.S.-installed puppet regime headed up Gérard Latortue who they brought out of retirement from Boca Raton, Florida. The coup regime was utterly corrupt and brutal. With its death squad allies, the regime conducted a terror against the remnants of the social movements and Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas. The combination of death squad and UN repression killed an estimated 3,000 people. 21 The UN troops either joined the slaughter or stood aside while repression swept the island. 22
While the U.S. and UN allowed elections in 2006, they banned Aristide's party, the most popular party in the country. Aristide's former ally, René Préval, again won the presidency, but by this time he had become a servant for the U.S. political and economic agenda in Haiti. For example, Préval banned Fanmi Lavalas from running in elections and refused to sign a bill passed in the parliament to raise the minimum wage. 23 In fact, the real power was no longer in the hands of the Haitian government. The U.S.- backed UN occupation rules the country in colonial style, dictating policy to the Haitian government.
The occupation has completely failed to develop the country. It has done nothing to improve living conditions for Haitians, to rebuild the country's ravaged infrastructure, or to reforest the countryside. Before the earthquake, two rounds of natural disasters swept Haiti and exposed the U.S. and UN's callous neglect of the country. Hurricanes hit in 2004 and 2008, killing thousands. 24 The pattern of impoverishment, deforestation, and degradation of the country's infrastructure, which has accelerated in recent years, has rendered natural disasters in Haiti far more devastating than anywhere else. In what is perhaps the worst exposure of the result of U.S. and UN refusal to improve conditions in Haiti, the food crisis in Haiti spiraled out of control on their watch. Even before the food crisis in 2008, the urban poor were reduced to eating mud cakes flavored with salt as a regular meal. When capitalists speculated on the international food market, they drove up the prices of Haiti's imported staples, especially rice. In response Haitians rioted, only to be repressed by the UN troops. 25
Imposing a new plan of death on Haiti
During the UN occupation, the U.S. imposed the same neoliberal economic plan on Haiti in the interests of multinational capital and the Haitian ruling class. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bill Clinton as special envoy to Haiti in 2009 and tasked him with revitalizing the country's economy. Clinton developed a new version of the plan of death along with Oxford economics professor and former research director for the World Bank, Paul Collier. Collier outlined their program in his paper, "Haiti: From natural catastrophe to economic security." 26 It advocated investment in the tourist industry, redevelopment of the sweatshop industry in cities, export-oriented mango plantations in the countryside, and construction of infrastructure to service that development.
As Polly Pattullo documents in Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean , the tourist industry is largely controlled by U.S. multinational corporations. She quotes one critic of the tourist industry who argues, "When a third world economy uses tourism as a development strategy, it becomes enmeshed in a global system over which it has little control. The international tourism industry is a product of metropolitan capitalist enterprise. The superior entrepreneurial skills, resources and commercial power of metropolitan companies enable them to dominate many third world tourist destinations." 27
Clinton has orchestrated a plan for turning the north of Haiti into a tourist playground, as far away as possible from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince. He lured Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines into investing $55 million to build a pier along the coastline of Labadee, which it has leased until 2050. From there, Haiti's tourist industry hopes to lead expeditions to the mountaintop fortress Citadelle and the Palace of Sans-Souci, both built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of Haiti's slave revolution. 28
For the cities, Collier promotes sweatshop development. Without a hint of shame, he notes, "Due to its poverty and relatively unregulated labor market, Haiti has labor costs that are fully competitive with China, which is the global benchmark. Haitian labor is not only cheap it is of good quality. Indeed, because the garments industry used to be much larger than it is currently, there is a substantial pool of experienced labor." 29 Given the abolition of tariffs on many Haitian exports to the U.S., Haiti is primed, according to Collier, for a new sweatshop boom.
But this is no sustainable development plan in the interests of Haitian workers. At best, Collier promises 150,000 or so jobs. As anthropologist Mark Shuller argues, "subcontracted, low-wage factory work does not contribute much to the economy besides jobs. Being exempt from taxes, it does not contribute to the financing of Haiti's social services." 30 Moreover these jobs themselves do not even pay enough to support life -- they pay for transport and lunch at about $1.60 a day. The U.S. will want to keep these wages low, since that is the profitable basis for the investment.
For the peasant majority in the country, Clinton and Collier advocate the construction of vast new mango plantations. According to them, such new plantations will both create an export crop and aid the reforestation of the country. While it may create jobs for poor peasants, such plantations will not rebuild the agricultural infrastructure of the country so that it can return to the self-sufficient food system it had before the 1980s. As TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson told Democracy Now! , "That isn't the kind of investment that Haiti needs. It needs capital investment. It needs investment so that it can be self-sufficient. It needs investment so that it can feed itself." 31 Such self-sufficiency runs against the grain of U.S. policy to control the international food market with its subsidized crops.
Collier finally argues for investment in infrastructure -- airports, seaports, and roads -- not so much to meet people's needs as to service these new investments in tourism, sweatshops, and plantations. As a result, Collier's plan will actually increase infrastructural inequities; businesses will get what they need to export their products, while the Haitian masses' infrastructural needs, like navigable roads, will be left unaddressed. Even worse, Collier advocates increased privatization of Haiti's infrastructure, especially the port and the electrical system.
It is not incidental that Collier is also the author of The Bottom Billion , 32 a book that calls for outside intervention by wealthy nations such as the United States into what he calls "post-conflict" poor nations, combining targeted aid and economic restructuring under long-term military occupation. In a modern recasting of the old colonialist "civilizing mission," this is meant to lift these nations out of a vicious cycle of violence and poverty.
On his whirlwind tour of the country in 2009, Bill Clinton promised investors that Haiti was open for business with Aristide and Lavalas out of the way and the U.S. and UN in effective control of the country. "Your political risk in Haiti" he declared at a press conference "is lower than it has ever been in my lifetime." 33
Failing to deliver relief to victims
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the press has cooperated with the Obama administration in giving the impression that the U.S. military has been busy delivering aid to desperate Haitians. The facts don't bear this out. To begin with, Obama's promise of $100 million in aid to the country is a pittance -- less than the winnings of a Kentucky couple in a recent Powerball lottery. 34 It is a paltry amount compared to the hundreds of billions that the U.S. shelled out to American banks and the $3 trillion the U.S. will have expended on the Iraq War alone.
There were early warning signs that this humanitarian mission was not all it was cracked up to be. Obama's decision to appoint former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to oversee the collection of donations through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund displays incredible callousness toward the Haitian masses. Clinton imposed the plan of death on Lavalas. Bush let New Orleans get washed out to sea and backed the 2004 coup that overthrew Aristide. Appointing Bush is like putting Nero in charge of the fire department.
Aid was slow to arrive, and what did turn up was inadequate. Amid a crisis where the first forty-eight hours are decisive in saving people's lives, the U.S. and UN failed to come anywhere near addressing the needs of the 3 million people impacted by the earthquake. Every minute that aid was delayed meant more people died from starvation, dehydration, injury, and disease. It also meant that the hospitals and doctors desperately trying to help the victims were left stranded without the basics to heal the injured.
As Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, speaking from Port-au-Prince's main hospital just as heavily-armed U.S. troops were arriving, told Democracy Now! ,
In terms of supplies, in terms of surgeons, in terms of aid relief, the response has been incredibly slow. There are teams of surgeons that have been sent to places that were, quote, "more secure," that have ten or twenty doctors and ten patients. We have a thousand people on this campus that are triaged and ready for surgery, but we only have four working ORs without anesthesia and without pain medications. And we're still struggling to get ourselves up to twenty-four-hour care. 35
In the week after the quake, Partners in Health estimated as many as 20,000 Haitians were dying daily from lack of surgery. 36
The U.S. and UN used all sorts of technical alibis to justify the delay in meeting people's needs. They complained that the damage done to Haiti's airport, seaport, and roads impeded delivery of doctors, nurses, food, water, and rescue teams. Such claims are unconvincing. Clearly the means exist to deliver aid quickly to a country only 700 miles away from Miami, Florida, and only 156 miles from a fully functional international airport in the Dominican Republic. Other countries had no difficulty sending planes of aid and volunteers. China, from half way around the world, got a plane of aid to Haiti earlier than the United States. Iceland sent a rescue team within forty-eight hours of the quake. Cuba sent dozens of doctors to join the several hundred doctors already working the country.
This failure of the U.S. to respond produced a chorus of denunciations from relief experts. One official from the Italian government, Guido Bertolaso, who was acclaimed for his successful handling of the April 2009 earthquake in Italy, denounced the U.S. effort as a "pathetic failure." He declared, "The Americans are extraordinary but when you are facing a situation in chaos they tend to confuse military intervention with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to armed forces. It's truly a powerful show of force but it's completely out of touch with reality." 37
Guns over aid
As with Katrina, Obama prioritized the deployment of the U.S. military over provision of aid. He sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Haiti right away to get President Préval to secure emergency powers. "The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us," she stated. 38 The U.S. has taken effective control of Haiti. It has secured control of the airport and seaport and deployed 20,000 U.S. troops to bolster the enlarged UN force of 12,500 already in the country. Thus, for the fourth time since 1915, Haiti is under a U.S. occupation.
How did the U.S. justify the fact that six days into the relief effort only a trickle of aid had gotten through to those who needed it? The U.S. government claimed that aid could not be delivered properly until security was first established. When asked why the U.S. hadn't used its C-130 transport planes to drop supplies in Port-au-Prince, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, "Air drops will simply lead to riots." 39 However, precisely the opposite is the case; people will riot because they lack food and water.
In lockstep, the corporate media's coverage shifted from its initial sympathy with victims of the disaster to churning out scare stories. "Marauding looters emptied wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately for food and medical care," Reuters claimed. "Hundreds of scavengers and looters swarmed over wrecked stores in downtown Port-au-Prince, seizing goods and fighting among themselves." 40
These scare stories in turn became an excuse for not delivering aid. Writer Nelson Valdes reported,
The United Nations and the U.S. authorities on the ground are telling those who directly want to deliver help not to do so because they might be attacked by "hungry mobs." Two cargo planes from Doctors Without Borders have been forced to land in the Dominican Republic because the shipments have to be accompanied within Port-au-Prince by U.S. military escorts, according to the U.S. command. 41
The scare stories led relief workers and military personnel to treat Haitians in a dehumanizing fashion. Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman reported an incident where an aid helicopter refused to distribute food on the ground and instead dropped it on people. An angry Haitian compared the incident to "throwing bones to dogs." 42
Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), because of their close relation with the U.S., have adopted a paranoid obsession with security to the detriment of providing relief. Ecologist and human rights activist Sasha Kramer reported on Counterpunch,
One friend showed me the map used by all of the larger NGOs where Port-au-Prince is divided into security zones, yellow, orange, red. Red zones are restricted, in the orange zones all of the car windows must be rolled up and they cannot be visited past certain times of the day. Even in the yellow zone aid workers are often not permitted to walk through the streets and spend much of their time riding through the city from one office to another in organizational vehicles. The creation of these security zones has been like the building of a wall, a wall reinforced by language barriers and fear rather than iron rods, a wall that, unlike many of the buildings in Port-au-Prince, did not crumble during the earthquake. Fear, much like violence, is self-perpetuating. When aid workers enter communities radiating fear it is offensive, the perceived disinterest in communicating with the poor majority is offensive, driving through impoverished communities with windows rolled up and armed security guards is offensive . Despite the good intentions of the many aid workers swarming around the UN base, much of the aid coming through the larger organizations is still blocked in storage, waiting for the required UN and U.S. military escorts that are seen as essential for distribution, meanwhile people in the camps are suffering and their tolerance is waning. 43
Yet this disastrous "beware of the Haitian people" line is simply not borne out by reports coming from Haiti. "There are no security issues," argues Dr. Lyon:
I've been with my Haitian colleagues. I'm staying at a friend's house in Port-au-Prince. We're working for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I'm living and moving with friends. We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There's no UN guards. There's no U.S. military presence. There's no Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no insecurity. 44
As the real nature of the U.S. operation became clear, an array of forces criticized the U.S. for imposing an occupation, not supplying relief. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez rightly declared on his weekly television show, "Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals -- that's what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti undercover." 45
The U.S. occupation actually prevented relief efforts. Once the U.S. was in charge of the airport it prioritized military flights over relief flights. Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the World Food Program, complained, "There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti. But most of those flights are for the United States military. Their priorities are to secure the country." 46
Hillary Clinton herself brought relief missions to a halt when she flew into Port-au-Prince to seize emergency powers from Préval. The U.S. military shut the airport down for three hours, preventing the desperately needed delivery of aid. Outraged, Alain Joyandet, the French Cooperation Minister, called on the UN to investigate America's dominant role in the relief effort and protested: "This is about helping Haiti, not occupying it." 47
The chorus of complaints further escalated not only from governments but also from aid organizations. Richard Seymour reports that,
Since the arrival of the troops, however, several aid missions have been prevented from arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince that the U.S. has commandeered. France and the Caribbean Community have both made their complaints public, as has Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] on five separate occasions. UN World Food Program flights were also turned away on two consecutive days. Benoit Leduc, MSF's operations manager in Port-au-Prince, complained that U.S. military flights were being prioritized over aid flights. 48
The U.S. military has even turned back masses of health care workers who wanted to volunteer to provide needed medical care in Haiti. The National Nurses Union organized an emergency conference call to mobilize thousands of nurses to go to Haiti. More than 1,800 nurses called in and they proceeded to recruit 11,000 others to the project. Initially the U.S. military said that it would accept them, but then, inexplicably, they reversed themselves and told them that the U.S. had plenty of military personnel to address the health care disaster in Haiti. Nothing could be further from the truth. 49
The U.S. military, Florida's state government, and the Obama administration also colluded in one of the worst examples of the callous treatment of Haitian victims. They refused to allow landing of planes loaded with injured people in desperate need of medical treatment. The Obama administration and Florida's governor were locked in a battle over who would pay for the cost of the medical care. So for five days, the U.S. let injured people suffer in Haiti because budget battles mattered more than people's lives. 50
Al Jazeera captured the nature of the U.S. and UN military occupation in a January 17 report:
Most Haitians here have seen little humanitarian aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets. UN soldiers aren't here to help pull people out of the rubble. They're here, they say, to enforce the law. This is what much of the UN presence actually looks like on the streets of Port-au-Prince: men in uniform, racing around in vehicles, carrying guns. At the entrance to the city's airport where most of the aid is coming in, there is anger and frustration. Much-needed supplies of water and food are inside, and Haitians are locked out. "These weapons they bring," [an unidentified Haitian says], "they are instruments of death. We don't want them; we don't need them. We are a traumatized people. What we want from the international community is technical help. Action, not words." 51
Problems with the NGOs
Haiti has approximately 10,000 NGOs operating within its borders, one of the highest numbers per capita in the world. The international NGOs are unaccountable to either the Haitian state or Haitian population. So the aid funneled through them further weakens what little hold Haitians have on their own society. These NGOs have taken deep hold in Haiti at the very same time that the conditions in the country have gone from bad to apocalyptic.
Amid this crisis, some of the NGOs and their employees have tried valiantly to fill the vacuum left by the U.S. and UN. But most of them did not have real forces inside the country to respond to the disaster. The Red Cross, for example, only had 15 employees on the ground, but has received the bulk of donated money -- more than $200 million -- from people around the world. Add to this the reluctance of the big NGOs to act without "security," as mentioned above.
Moreover, as the British medical journal The Lancet argues, many of the international NGOs are engaged in a fierce battle for funds and have allowed that competition to distort their provision of food, water, medical aid, and services amidst the crisis. After calling aid an "industry in its own right," the Lancet noted that NGOs are
jostling for position, each claiming that they are doing the most for earthquake survivors. Some agencies even claim that they are "spearheading" the relief effort. In fact, as we only too clearly see, the situation in Haiti is chaotic, devastating, and anything but coordinated. Polluted by the internal power politics and the unsavory characteristics seen in many big corporations, large aid agencies can be obsessed with raising money through their own appeal efforts. Media coverage as an end in itself is too often an aim of their activities. Marketing and branding have too high a profile. Perhaps worst of all, relief efforts in the field are sometimes competitive with little collaboration between agencies, including smaller, grass-roots charities that may have better networks in affected countries and so are well placed to immediately implement emergency relief. 52
Repatriating and jailing refugees
As Haitians' needs continued unmet, the U.S. occupation devolved into policing the disaster, including preventing the flight of refugees from Haiti. It is true that activists finally compelled Obama to grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Obama's decision delayed the deportation of 30,000 Haitians and will make TPS available to 100,000 to 200,000 more. These provisions, however, have strict limitations.
First of all, the U.S. plans to exclude victims of the earthquake, offering TPS only to those who arrived in the U.S. without legal documents before January 12. Those who quality must prove they are indigent and at the very same time pay $470 in application fees. 53 Those Haitians who are granted TPS will only be allowed to stay in the U.S. for eighteen months before they must return to Haiti. If they do qualify for the program they will become known to the authorities and thus make themselves more vulnerable to repatriation. Moreover, given the scale of destruction in Port-au-Prince, there is no way that the city or country will be in better condition in a year and a half. So if the U.S. enforces this eighteen-month limitation, it will return Haitians to an ongoing disaster area.
To enforce the bar on Haitians coming to the U.S., a flotilla of military vessels has surrounded the country. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tried to spin this in humanitarian terms. "At this moment of tragedy in Haiti," she lectured, "it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere, but attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation." 54 In a far more blunt statement of the actual policy, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Chris O'Neil, in charge of Operation Vigilant Sentry declared, "The goal is to interdict them at sea and repatriate them." 55
The U.S. made sure to broadcast this threat to Haitians. A U.S. Air Force transport plane spends hours in the air above Haiti every day, not ferrying food and water, but broadcasting a radio statement in Creole from Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph. "I'll be honest with you," Joseph says, according to a transcript on the State Department's Web site. "If you think you will reach the U.S. and all the doors will be wide open to you, that's not at all the case. And they will intercept you right on the water, and send you back home where you came from." 56
To prepare for the eventuality that some Haitians may get through the military cordon around Haiti, Obama, like Bush and Clinton before him, has prepared jail space to incarcerate refugees at Krome Detention Center in Florida and at the U.S. military base in Guantánamo, Cuba. 57
Asserting who's boss in Latin America
Days after the quake, the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation posted an article detailing what it considered should be Washington's aims in occupying Haiti. The U.S. military presence, they argued, in addition to preventing "any large scale movements by Haitians to take to the sea to try to enter the U.S. illegally," also "offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region." At the same time, it argues, the U.S. military presence could "interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola." There is no evidence of Venezuelan cocaine flights or efforts to "destabilize" Haiti, but the point is clear: The U.S. sees Haiti as part of an effort to assert more control over the region and contain "unfriendly" regimes. 58
The military response to Haiti's crisis cannot be separated from Washington's regional interests. As Greg Gandin writes in the Nation ,
In recent years, Washington has experienced a fast erosion of its influence in South America, driven by the rise of Brazil, the region's left turn, the growing influence of China and Venezuela's use of oil revenue to promote a multipolar diplomacy. Broad social movements have challenged efforts by US- and Canadian-based companies to expand extractive industries like mining, biofuels, petroleum and logging. 59
Faced with such regional and international competition, the U.S. under Bush and now Obama is angling to launch a counteroffensive. The U.S. tried to topple Chávez in 2002, it succeeded in overthrowing Aristide in 2004, and last year backed the coup against President Zelaya in Honduras. As Grandin reports, the U.S. is actively promoting the right-wing opposition to the various reform socialist governments in the region. It is backing up this political initiative with an expansion of its military bases in the region, particularly in Colombia. "In late October," Grandin writes, "the United States and Colombia signed an agreement granting the Pentagon use of seven military bases, along with an unlimited number of as yet unspecified 'facilities and locations.' They add to Washington's already considerable military presence in Colombia, as well as Central America and the Caribbean." 60 Haiti is thus a stepping-stone for further U.S. interventions in the region.
"Shock doctrine" for Haiti
For Haiti itself, the U.S. is preparing to impose its old neoliberal plan at gunpoint. In The Shock Doctrine , Naomi Klein documents how the U.S. and other imperial powers take advantage of natural and economic disasters to impose free-market plans for the benefit of the American and native capitalists. The U.S., other powers, the IMF, and World Bank had their shock doctrine for Haiti immediately on hand. Hillary Clinton declared, "We have a plan. It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations." 61 This is the Collier Plan, the same old plan of sweatshops, plantations, and tourism.
The U.S., a few other imperial powers, a few lesser countries, and the UN convened a meeting on January 26 in Montreal to profess their concern and promises to aid Haiti. The fourteen so-called "Friends of Haiti" made sure to include the Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, to at least give the illusion of respect for the country's sovereignty. But outside a protest organized by Haiti Action Montreal opposed the meeting with signs demanding "medical relief not guns," "grants not loans," and "reconstruction for people not profit."
In the Guardian , Gary Younge criticized the summit for failing to produce any solutions to the crisis in Haiti. "Even as corpses remained under the earthquake's rubble," he wrote, "and the government operated out of a police station, the assembled 'friends' would not commit to canceling Haiti's $1 billion debt. Instead they agreed to a 10-year plan with no details, and a commitment to meet again -- when the bodies have been buried along with coverage of the country -- sometime in the future." 62
By contrast, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and his Latin American and Caribbean allies assembled in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) announced their opposition to America's shock doctrine. They denounced Washington's neoliberal plans, called for relief not troops and for the cancellation of Haiti's debt. Venezuela itself immediately cancelled Haiti's debt and began sending shiploads of relief offering over $100 million in humanitarian aid with no strings attached. 63
No such humanitarian motives animate the U.S., its capitalist corporations, and the international financial institutions. These vultures began circling above Haiti almost immediately. The Street, an investment Web site, published an article misleadingly entitled, "An opportunity to heal Haiti," that lays out how U.S. corporations can cash in on the catastrophe. "Here are some companies," they write, "that could potentially benefit: General Electric (GE), Caterpillar (CAT), Deere (DE), Fluor (FLR), Jacobs Engineering (JEC)." 64 The Rand Corporation's James Dobbins wrote in the New York Times, "This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms." 65
Over the last few years, the U.S. has been trying to give a facelift to the international financial institution that it uses to impose its plans in Haiti. As Jim Lobe reports,
Last June, 1.2 billion dollars in Haiti's external debt, including that owed to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was cancelled after the Préval government completed a three-year Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. Over half of that debt had been incurred by Haiti's dictatorships, notably the Duvalier dynasty that ruled the country from 1957 to 1986. But the cancellation covered debt incurred by Haiti only through 2004. In the last five years, the country has received new loans -- some of them to help it recover from the floods and other hurricane damage -- totaling another 1.05 billion dollars. 66
In other words, the U.S. and the financial institutions exchanged the old debts for new so-called "legitimate loans," trapping Haiti yet again in debt. Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet call this "a typical odious debt-laundering maneuver." 67
In the wake of the crisis, the bankers were at Haiti's door yet again, ready, incredibly, to loan Haiti money with the usual conditions. The IMF offered Haiti a new loan of $100 million with the usual strings attached. As the Nation 's Richard Kim writes,
The new loan was made through the IMF's extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage, and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms. 68
Debt cancellation activists like Jubilee pushed back against the IMF and scored a victory over it. "On Jan. 21," Lobe reports,
the World Bank announced a waiver of Haiti's pending debt payment for five years and said it would explore ways that the remaining debt could be cancelled. The IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] has said it is engaged in a similar effort and will present alternatives for reducing or canceling the debt to its board of governors. On Jan. 27, the IMF, which lacks the authority to provide outright grants, announced that it would give Haiti a 102 million-dollar loan at zero-percent interest and that would not be subject to any of the Fund's usual performance conditions. 69
The pressure even forced the U.S. to call for all new monies extended to Haiti to be in the form of grants, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for debt relief in the run up to the G-7 conference in February. 70
While activists can claim these concessions by the U.S. and the international financial institutions as victories that open up the possibility for even more progress in demanding full cancellation of Haiti's debt and all third world debt, no one should look at this situation through rose-colored glasses. The U.S. is using this promise -- and it is just a promise at this point -- to cover up its determination to implement the Collier Plan for tourism, sweatshops, and mango plantations to exploit Haiti's desperately poor workers and peasants. In fact, the U.S. does not need to use the leverage of debt to force Haiti to agree to the plan; it has secured colonial rule over the country and can impose its plans directly at gunpoint.
Resistance and solidarity
The left has a responsibility to cut through the propaganda of the Obama administration and the mainstream media. The U.S. is not engaged in humanitarian relief, but old-fashioned imperialism in Haiti. Humanitarianism has long been one of the means the U.S. uses to provide a cover story for its military actions abroad. But whether it was saving the Cuban people from Spanish brutality, sending the marines into Mogadishu in 1993 to feed starving Somalis, or overthrowing the Taliban to "liberate women," the real aims and practical results of these interventions diverged radically from their alleged noble intentions.
Humanitarian military intervention was heavily promoted in the 1990s during the latter part of the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration -- in particular during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Its purpose was to reestablish the legitimacy of U.S. military intervention in the wake of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, as part of a policy intended to erase what was known as the "Vietnam syndrome." It is being revived again in the wake of the unpopularity of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and weariness toward the "war on terror," for similar reasons. The U.S. hopes that it can re-legitimize its military as a force for good so that it can lay the groundwork for more U.S. interventions in the region and around the world.
Even if the U.S. gets away with its new plans for Haiti, it will inevitably breed resistance in the population and throughout the region where through bitter experience workers and peasants have learned to oppose U.S. designs on their countries. In Haiti, workers and peasants will find their way to organize in the countryside on the plantations, in the sweatshops, and in the shantytowns.
Already Haitian organizations have come out against the U.S. agenda. A statement issued on January 27 from the Coordinating Committee of Progressive Organizations announced:
We must declare our anger and indignation at the exploitation of the situation in Haiti to justify a new invasion by 20,000 U.S. Marines. We condemn what threatens to become a new military occupation by U.S. troops, the third in our history. It is clearly part of a strategy to remilitarize the Caribbean Basin in the context of the imperialist response to the growing rebellion of the peoples of our continent against neo-liberal globalization. And it exists also within a framework of pre-emptive warfare designed to confront the eventual social explosion of a people crushed by poverty and facing despair. We condemn the model imposed by the U.S. government and the military response to a tragic humanitarian crisis. The occupation of the Toussaint L'Ouverture international airport and other elements of the national infrastructure have deprived the Haitian people of part of the contribution made by Caricom, by Venezuela, and by some European countries. We condemn this conduct, and refuse absolutely to allow our country to become another military base. 71
The Haitian left has thus already started building opposition to the U.S. occupation and the Collier Plan. Every year since the U.S. coup in 2004, activists have marched on February 28 in Port-au-Prince against the UN occupation and to demand the end of Aristide's exile. Workers' organizations just last year protested in the thousands for an increase in the minimum wage that Préval opposed. Lavalas activists had protested before the earthquake against their exclusion from the scheduled parliamentary elections. Now amid crisis and occupation, Préval, who has proved to be a puppet for the U.S. agenda, thus losing what little political support he had, has cancelled those elections. No doubt Préval's behavior will provoke political opposition from below against his government's collaboration with the United States.
Outside Haiti, the left must build solidarity with that struggle and make several demands on the Obama administration. First, Obama must immediately end the military occupation of Haiti, and instead flood the country with doctors, nurses, food, water, and construction machinery. Second, the U.S. must also stop its enforcement of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile and the ban on his party, Fanmi Lavalas, from participating in elections. Haitians, not the U.S., should have the right to determine their government.
Third, the left must demand that the U.S., other countries, and international financial institutions cancel Haiti's debt, so that the aid money headed to Haiti will go to food and reconstruction, not debt repayment. More than that -- France, the U.S., and Canada, the three countries that have most interfered with Haiti's sovereignty -- should pay reparations for the damage they have done. France can start by repaying the $21 billion dollars that it extracted from Haiti from 1824 to 1947. Fourth, leftists must agitate for Obama to indefinitely extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the U.S. -- and open the borders to any Haitians who flee the country. Finally, the left must direct all its funds to Haitian grass-roots organizations to provide relief and help rebuild resistance to the U.S. plan for Haiti.
Only through agitating for these demands can we stop the U.S. from imposing at gunpoint its shock doctrine for Haiti. In this struggle, the left must educate wider and wider layers of people, already suspicious of U.S. motives after Hurricane Katrina, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, that the U.S. state never engages in military actions for humanitarian motives. As the great American revolutionary journalist John Reed declared, "Uncle Sam never gives anybody something for nothing. He comes along with a sack stuffed with hay in one hand and a whip in the other. Anyone who accepts Uncle Sam's promises at their face value will find that they must be paid for in sweat and blood." 72
- "President Obama on U.S. rescue efforts in Haiti, www.America.gov .
- Bill Quigley, "Haiti: still starving 23 days later," Huffington Post, posted February 4, 2010.
- Soumitra Eachempati, Dean Lorich, and David Helfet, "Haiti: Obama's Katrina," Wall Street Journal , January 26, 2010.
- Rich Schapiro, "Rev. Pat Robertson says ancient Haitians' 'pact with the devil' caused earthquake," New York Daily News , January 13, 2010.
- David Brooks, "The underlying tragedy," New York Times , January 14, 2010.
- For an overview of the French colony and the slave revolution see Ashley Smith, "The Black Jacobins," International Socialist Review (ISR) 63, January–February 2009.
- Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politicsw of Containment (New York: Verso Books, 2007), 12.
- Quoted in Sidney Lens, The Forging of the American Empire (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2003), 270.
- For an overview of the history of U.S. imperialism in Haiti see Helen Scott, "Haiti under siege," ISR 35, May-June 2004.
- Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994), 108.
- Alex Dupuy, Haiti in the New World Order (New York: Westview Press, 1996), 37.
- For an analysis of Baby Doc's neoliberal plans see chapter 2 of Alex Dupuy, The Prophet and the Power (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).
- Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet, "Debt is Haiti's real curse," Socialist Worker , January 20, 2010.
- Regan Boychuck, "The vultures circle Haiti at every opportunity, natural or man-made," Znet, February 3, 2010.
- Dupuy, Haiti in the New World Order , 31.
- Quoted in Amy Wilentz, The Rainy Season (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 137.
- Quoted in Ashley Smith, "The new occupation of Haiti: Aristide's rise and fall," ISR 35, May–June, 2004.
- For an analysis of Lavalas after Aristide's restoration see chapter 5 of Robert Fatton, Haiti's Predatory Republic (Boulder: Lynne Reiner Publishers, 2002).
- For a perhaps overly generous portrait of Aristide in his second term see chapters 6 and 7 of Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood .
- Clara James, "Haiti free trade zone," Dollars and Sense , November/December 2002.
- Hallward, Damming the Flood , 155.
- See Bill Quigley, "Haiti human rights report," www.ijdh.org/pdf/QuigleyReport.pdf .
- Mo Woong, "Haiti's minimum wage battle," Caribbean News Net, August 25, 2009.
- See Ashley Smith "Natural and unnatural disasters," Socialist Worker , September 23, 2008.
- Mark Shuller, "Haiti's food riots," ISR 59, May–June 2008.
- Paul Collier, "Haiti: From natural catastrophe to economic security," FOCALPoint, Volume 8, Issue 2, March 2009.
- Quoted in Polly Pattullo, Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005), 20.
- Jacqueline Charles, "Royal Caribbean boosts Haiti tourism push," Miami Herald , September 26, 2009.
- Collier, "Haiti from natural catastrophe to economic security."
- Mark Shuller, "Haiti needs new development approaches, not more of the same," Haiti Analysis , June 18, 2009.
- Quoted in Ashley Smith "Catastrophe in Haiti," Socialist Worker , January 14, 2010.
- Jacqueline Charles, "Bill Clinton on trade mission on Haiti," Miami Herald , October 1, 2009.
- Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Bill Quigley, "Too little too late for Haiti? Six sobering points," Huffington Post , January 15, 2010.
- "With foreign aid still at a trickle," Democracy Now! , January 20, 2010.
- Marc Lacey "The nightmare in Haiti: untreated illness and injury," New York Times , January 21, 2010.
- Quoted in Nick Allen "West urged to write off Haiti's $1 billion debt," Telegraph.co.uk , January 25, 2010.
- Mark Lander, "In show of support, Clinton goes to Haiti," New York Times , January 17, 2010.
- "U.S. military begins aid drops in Haiti," CBS News, January 18, 2010.
- Andrew Cawthorne and Catherine Bremer, "U.S., U.N. boost Haiti aid security as looters swarm," Reuters, January 19, 2010.
- Nelson P. Valdés, "Class and race fear: The rescue operation's priorities in Haiti," Counterpunch, January 18, 2010.
- Quoted in Lenora Daniels, "We are Haitians. We are like people like anybody else," Common Dreams, January 31, 2010.
- Sasha Kramer, "Fear slows aid efforts in Haiti: Letter from Port-au-Prince," Counterpunch, January 27, 2010.
- "Doctor: Misinformation and racism have slowed the recovery effort," Democracy Now! , January 19, 2010.
- "Chávez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid," Reuters, January 17, 2010.
- Rory Carroll, "U.S. accused of annexing airport," Guardian (UK), January 17, 2010.
- Quoted in Giles Whittell, Martin Fletcher, and Jacqui Goddard, "Haiti has a leader in charge, but not in control," The Times (UK), January 19, 2010.
- Richard Seymour, "The humanitarian myth," Socialist Worker , January 25, 2010.
- "Union nurses respond to Haiti," Socialist Worker, January 27, 2010.
- Shaila Dewan, "U.S. suspends Haitian airlift in cost dispute," New York Times , January 30, 2010.
- The Al Jazeera report is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F5TwEK24sA .
- "The growth of aid and the decline of humanitarianism," Lancet , Volume 375, Issue 9711, January 23, 2010; 253.
- James C. McKinley Jr., "Vows to move fast for Haitian immigrants in the U.S.," New York Times , January 21, 2010.
- Richard Fausset, "U.S. to change illegal immigrants status," Los Angeles Times , January 16, 2010.
- "U.S. to repatriate most Haitian refugees, Washington Times , January 19, 2010.
- Curt Anderson, "U.S. prepares for Haitian refugees," Washington Examiner , January 19, 2010.
- Tom Eley, "Washington shuts door to Haitian refugees" Global Research, February 8, 2010.
- Jim Roberts, " Things to remember while helping Haiti ," The Foundry .
- Greg Grandin, "Muscling Latin America," Nation, January 21, 2010.
- Nicholas Kralev, "Clinton says plan exists for Haiti," Washington Times , January 26, 2010.
- Gary Younge, "The West owes Haiti a big bailout," Guardian (UK), January 31, 2010.
- Magbana, "Venezuela cancels Haiti's debt," January 26, 2010.
- Quoted in Isabel McDonald, "New Haiti: Same old corporate interests," Nation, January 29, 2010.
- James Dobbins, "Skip the graft," New York Times , January 17, 2010.
- Jim Lobe, "Haiti: U.S. lawmakers call for debt cancellation," IPS, February 4, 2010.
- Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet, "Debt is Haiti's real curse."
- Richard Kim, "IMF to Haiti: freeze public wages," Nation , January 15, 2010.
- Lobe, "Haiti: U.S. lawmakers call for debt cancellation."
- Haiti After the Catastrophe, " What Are the Perspectives? Statement by the Coordinating Committee of the Progressive Organizations ."
- Quoted in John Riddell ed., To See the Dawn (New York: Pathfinder, 1993), 136.
Feb 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Posted by: ninel | Feb 11, 2018 3:59:15 PM
Here is an interesting article that points to the new American strategy with respect to Iran and central Asia. Iran is already being attacked from West and East in the North. And central Asia is next. This might force Iran to pull back some forces from Syria and Iraq.
No end to the wars.
Feb 15, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org
February 13, 2018
On January 8, 2018, former government advisor Edward Luttwak wrote an opinion piece for Foreign Policy titled "It's Time to Bomb North Korea."
Luttwak's thesis is relatively straightforward. There is a government out there that may very soon acquire nuclear-weapons capabilities, and this country cannot be trusted to responsibly handle such a stockpile. The responsibility to protect the world from a rogue nation cannot be argued with, and we understandably have a duty to ensure the future of humanity.
However, there is one rogue nation that continues to hold the world ransom with its nuclear weapons supply. It is decimating non-compliant states left, right, and center. This country must be stopped dead in its tracks before anyone turns to the issue of North Korea.
In August of 1945, this rogue nation dropped two atomic bombs on civilian targets, not military targets, completely obliterating between 135,000 and 300,000 Japanese civilians in just these two acts alone. Prior to this event, this country killed even more civilians in the infamous firebombing of Tokyo and other areas of Japan, dropping close to 500,000 cylinders of napalm and petroleum jelly on some of Japan's most densely populated areas.
Recently, historians have become more open to the possibility that dropping the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not actually necessary to end World War II. This has also been confirmed by those who actually took part in it. As the Nation explained:Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that 'the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan ' Adm. William "Bull" Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that 'the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment . It was a mistake to ever drop it . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped itA few months' prior, this rogue country's invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa also claimed at least one quarter of Okinawa's population. The Okinawan people have been protesting this country's military presence ever since. The most recent ongoing protest has lasted well over 5,000 days in a row.
This nation's bloodlust continued well after the end of World War II. Barely half a decade later, this country bombed North Korea into complete oblivion, destroying over 8,700 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and eventually killing off as much as 20 percent of the country's population. As the Asia Pacific Journal has noted, the assaulting country dropped so many bombs that they eventually ran out of targets to hit, turning to bomb the irrigation systems, instead:By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans."This was just the beginning. Having successfully destroyed the future North Korean state, this country moved on to the rest of East Asia and Indo-China, too. As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has explained :We [this loose cannon of a nation] dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win 'hearts and minds' that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease – including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of view, of course.This mass murder led to the deaths of between 1.5 million and 3.8 million people, according to the Washington Post. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were unleashed during the entire conflict in World War II . While this was going on, this same country was also secretly bombing Laos and Cambodia, too, where there are over 80 million unexploded bombs still killing people to this day.
This country also decided to bomb Yugoslavia , Panama , and Grenada before invading Iraq in the early 1990s. Having successfully bombed Iraqi infrastructure, this country then punished Iraq's entire civilian population with brutal sanctions. At the time, the U.N. estimated that approximately 1.7 million Iraqis had died as a result, including 500,000 to 600,000 children . Some years later, a prominent medical journal attempted to absolve the cause of this infamous history by refuting the statistics involved despite the fact that, when interviewed during the sanctions-era, Bill Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, intimated that to this rogue government, the deaths of half a million children were "worth it" as the "price" Iraq needed to pay. In other words, whether half a million children died or not was irrelevant to this bloodthirsty nation, which barely blinked while carrying out this murderous policy.
This almighty superpower then invaded Iraq again in 2003 and plunged the entire region into chaos . At the end of May 2017, the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) released a study concluding that the death toll from this violent nation's 2003 invasion of Iraq had led to over one million deaths and that at least one-third of them were caused directly by the invading force.
Not to mention this country also invaded Afghanistan prior to the invasion of Iraq (even though the militants plaguing Afghanistan were originally trained and financed by this warmongering nation). It then went on to bomb Yemen, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Philippines .
Libya famously had one of the highest standards of living in the region. It had state-assisted healthcare, education, transport, and affordable housing. It is now a lawless war-zone rife with extremism where slaves are openly traded like commodities amid the power vacuum created as a direct result of the 2011 invasion.
In 2017, the commander-in-chief of this violent nation took the monumental death and destruction to a new a level by removing the restrictions on delivering airstrikes, which resulted in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths. Before that, in the first six months of 2017, this country dropped over 20,650 bombs , a monumental increase from the year that preceded it.
Despite these statistics, all of the above conquests are mere child's play to this nation. The real prize lies in some of the more defiant and more powerful states, which this country has already unleashed a containment strategy upon. This country has deployed its own troops all across the border with Russia even though it promised in the early 1990s it would do no such thing. It also has a specific policy of containing Russia's close ally, China, all the while threatening China's borders with talks of direct strikes on North Korea (again, remember it already did so in the 1950s).
This country also elected a president who not only believes it is okay to embrace this rampantly violent militarism but who openly calls other countries "shitholes" – the very same term that aptly describes the way this country has treated the rest of the world for decades on end. This same president also reportedly once asked three times in a meeting , "If we have nuclear weapons, why don't we use them?" and shortly after proposed a policy to remove the constraints protecting the world from his dangerous supply of advanced nuclear weaponry.
When it isn't directly bombing a country, it is also arming radical insurgent groups , creating instability, and directly overthrowing governments through its covert operatives on the ground.
If we have any empathy for humanity, it is clear that this country must be stopped. It cannot continue to act like this to the detriment of the rest of the planet and the safety and security of the rest of us. This country openly talks about using its nuclear weapons, has used them before, and has continued to use all manner of weapons unabated in the years since while threatening to expand the use of these weapons to other countries.
Seriously, if North Korea seems like a threat, imagine how the rest of the world feels while watching one country violently take on the rest of the planet single-handedly, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake and promising nothing less than a nuclear holocaust in the years to come.
There is only one country that has done and that continues to do the very things North Korea is being accused of doing.
Take as much time as you need for that to resonate.
Reprinted with permission from The Anti-Media .
Feb 11, 2018 | www.thenation.com
One consequence of the Trump-Russia fixation is the overshadowing of the far-right agenda that Trump and his Republican allies are carrying out, including, inexorably, policies that undermine the narrative of Trump-Russian collusion. But as that narrative is also used as a cudgel against Trump's presidency, it is worth asking if some of those policies are now even a direct result.
In December, Trump authorized the sale of new weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists. President Obama had rejected the arms shipments, "fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed," as The New York Times noted in 2015. Trump had also opposed such a move during the campaign, but was swayed by lobbying from advisers and congressional neoconservatives . "Overall," observed Andrew Weiss , a Russia expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "I see this discussion [on Trump-Russia] as fitting within a broader effort by people within the national security bureaucracy to box Trump in on Ukraine."
The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response.
Feb 11, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
Revolving door in actionBrand attracted interest because of her potential to assume a key role in the Trump-Russia investigation. The official overseeing the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, has been repeatedly criticized by Trump. If Rosenstein had been fired or quit, oversight would have fallen to Brand. That job would now fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco.
"She felt this was an opportunity she couldn't turn down," her friend and former colleague Jamie Gorelick said. Walmart sought Brand to be head of global corporate governance at the retail giant, a position Gorelick said has legal and policy responsibilities that will cater to her strengths.
"It really seems to have her name on it," Gorelick said.
Feb 05, 2018 | www.unz.com
Vietnam: it's always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.
A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they're still losing it and blaming others for doing so.
Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country's artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong.
More than two decades of involvement and, at the war's peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam's military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.
There's just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the "orthodox" school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.
The Big Re-Write
In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War. It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus's impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war. Though he did observe that Vietnam had "cost the military dearly" and that "the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services," his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called "low-intensity conflicts" and are now known as counterinsurgencies. His takeaway: what the country needed wasn't less Vietnams but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.
Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror. The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice. Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results.
Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict. After all these decades, such "thinking" generals and "soldier-scholars" continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America's second longest war.
Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking.
Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.
The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century. Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict's supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington. The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now.
The Go-Big Option
The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military. It's easy enough to understand why. Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.
Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic. Later , he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in "draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences." In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States.
Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that "you know you never beat us on the battlefield." "That may be so," replied his former enemy, "but it is also irrelevant."
Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!)
A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty . He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that "the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice." He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon's generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy.
McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war."
COIN: A Small (Forever) War
Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders. In The Army and Vietnam , published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy's chief center of gravity and that the American military's failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate. While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out , because they offer a "simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam."
Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece , "How to Win in Iraq," in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times 's resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating "discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president."
In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam . Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.
Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals' strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work. It didn't matter, however. By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley's book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. By then, according to the Washington Post 's David Ignatius, it could also "be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad."
Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl. (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart .) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that "if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it." In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker "so liked [Nagl's] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals," while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad.
David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times -reviewed ) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders. Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement .
Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps.
Reading All the Wrong Books
In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military's primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates. To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War . This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!
Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead. Indeed, there's much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.
Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers's On Strategy on his list. A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster's Dereliction of Duty . The trend continues today. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame). Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley. To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list , Krepinevich's The Army and Vietnam .
Just as important as which books made the lists is what's missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship , novels , or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power.
Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam
Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 .
In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia. That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it. They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict. Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it's never ended.
Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters .
From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War
All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam "lessons" inform the U.S. military's ongoing "surges" and "advise-and-assist" approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration's version of global strategy. President Trump's in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: "a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam." In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts' content.
Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.
The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side."
Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down. Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as "Vietnamization" -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support "would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force." Vietnam, too, had its "generational" side (until, of course, it didn't).
It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.
In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: "Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous." When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They've helped bring us generational war and, for today's young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.
Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast Fortress on a Hill .
[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]
The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 9:35 am GMTThe book that needs to be written is the one that explores the question, "Does this war need to be fought by us?"The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 1:24 pm GMT
The guys running the show now were mid-grade officers when I served in the '80s. They know we already were waging a war on terror, but it was a quiet one, e.g "low-intensity conflict," the kind that doesn't pump up budgets or put lots of ribbons and badges on the chests of more than a few of them, much less punch the ticket for promotion.
The problem here is one of governance: Civilians who should be reigning in and questioning the military leadership (including the senior civilian leadership at DoD and apparently State) when it wants to take us on yet another foreign adventure seem instead to be be captive to them, because the spoils of war accrue to their benefit via procurement in their districts.
Vietnam and the GWOT are merely symptoms of a bigger problem.@The AlarmistAnon Disclaimer , January 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm GMT
BTW, re Vietnam: Vietnam went through its Communist phase, but in a rather short time came back to pseudo-capitalism, much like China, so aside from nearly 60k US troops and a few million Viets killed and 20 years of lost time, what did we gain from fighting there?
America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.Didn't US realize that it can win any war with bribes and trade?Carlton Meyer , Website January 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm GMT
Vietnam lost in the end. Its greedy corrupt elites are now puppets of US. They allow open prostitution in Ho Chi Minh city. They allow Vietnamese women to be a bunch of hookers again.
And Vietnam even has homo parades because it comes with more gibs and bribes.
US won. It just spread the money around.They established a myth that we almost won in Vietnam but the politicians wouldn't let us finish the job, claiming we never lost a battle in Vietnam. That is false, so I posted a list of 104 "Lost Battles of the Vietnam War" that squashed this myth.Carlton Meyer , Website January 30, 2018 at 5:39 am GMT
http://www.g2mil.com/lost_vietnam.htmThe entire conflict can be understood in this two minute video clip:Grandpa Charlie , January 30, 2018 at 6:39 am GMTA great article by Sjursen, with major implications for what's happening now, and several excellent comments. Thank you.dearieme , January 30, 2018 at 5:24 pm GMT@The AlarmistSandmich , January 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm GMT
"America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around" Rather like 20th century Germany, don't you think?@Carlton MeyerSean , January 30, 2018 at 9:54 pm GMT
Thanks for that link. I agree, whitewashing those tragedies is a grave disservice to our soldiers who had to fight in those conditions (how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we can't even come to terms with what we did wrong?).No the JCS initially said SE Asia was strategically a backwater and not worth the concentrating of America's limited resources. But military high command were operating within longstanding army protocols of subordinating the military to civilian policymakers. It was the CIA's job to say whether the war could be won and they were always skeptical.CK , January 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm GMT
That skepticism was not what any politician wanted to hear so they listened to a civilian adviser.
America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War makes clear who was responsible for pressing for escalation and bombing in Vietnam, who was the optimist, and who continued to insisted after it had finished that the war had stabilized a domino.If one's fundamental image of the world is as a place full of Quislings, McCains and assorted dual nationals; then it follows that one will be militarily a Coindinista. If only third world citizens were like American pols and stayed bought, but they aren't and they don't. If one's fundamental image is that it is a world full of nationalists, patriots and Churchills: then the bomb them back to non-existence; then it follows that one is a Summer's soldier.George Taylor , January 31, 2018 at 12:49 am GMT
Unfortunately, if one wishes to debate other nuanced alternatives to this dichotomy; the enemy gets to shoot first. A policeman walks a beat in his city because he is paid to do it, the "world's indispensable policeman" is unnecessary to the rest of the world but inevitable to himself.@The Alarmistanon Disclaimer , February 2, 2018 at 5:17 am GMT
America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.
Because we are here to help the Vietnamese because inside every go*k is an American trying to get outThe Vietnam war killed the draft. The draft is involuntary servitude, slavery in a sense. For ordinary Americans this was the only positive thing to come from the war.WorkingClass , February 2, 2018 at 6:26 am GMTBlah blah blah. That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same.Singh , February 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMTIt's also weird that the idea of Vietnam War as a missionary conflict is never discussed. The colonial Vietnam & later South Vietnam government gave preference to christians in governmental positions, bureaucracy & had a monopoly on education. The prevailing narrative in the west, is that somehow christianity is better & that people flock to it due to this, just like their ancestors did. Mosmaiorum.org/persecution_list.htmlEliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 6:04 am GMT
For example, the anti Buddhist discriminatory laws in Korea are never discussed, neither is the flooding of Japan with bibles post ww2. In the present age you have missionaries following closely behind the USA army & organizations like the US council on religious freedom being headed by missionaries sic. soul vultures.
From that pov, if white nationalists cannot control the predatory instincts of 'their' people nor disavow them by becoming Pagan; then, they deserve their fate & should expect no support from outsiders. As others have remarked, tariffs & protectionism help accrue capital as do socially conservative views. The pushing of free trade & social liberalism on 2nd/3rd world countries is akin to kicking the ladder. It's probably in everyone's interest for the Protestant west to collapse under Afro-Islamic demographic pressure so the great clean up can begin. Tldr yes state power leads to liberalism & liberal views but, if you view that as the legacy of your people, fuck your people.Well Major,Kweli , February 5, 2018 at 6:17 am GMT
we are deeply at odds. We did not lose the Vietnam conflict. I am confident that billions of dollars have been spent drilling that myth into the minds of well everyone. I remember being a young poli-sci student in KS. And as I listened to the lecture on Vietnam, did the reading my conclusion was so distant from his as to cause me no small amount of turmoil. The contention that we lost Vietnam is so counter to the data -- it makes the Twilight Zone look like Gilligan's Island, the twists on reality are directionless -- but conclude we lost, when nothing could be further from the truth.
I have another theory, the reason that Vietnam remains etched in the psyche is because the analysis was political as opposed to what actually occurred. This kind of hyperventilated self flagellating recriminations will distort truth. Perception over reality -- then becomes self fulling history.
But to the point. The US has lost two wars: The war of 1812 and in my view, the Iraq conflict -- no direct fault of those on the ground doing the fighting. And we may lose the Afghanistan gambit. It's a loss because it fell apart during our occupation. The guerrilla warfare (asymmetrics) was not the issues for that failure. The failure was in
1. unjustifiable cause
2. poor implementation
3. under resourced
4. an inability to maintain order among communities -- (1-3)
5. and just a lot of bad decisions
Trying compare Vietnam to Iraq is like trying compare a stone to water in similarity. You might be able to some generic references and very tiny specifics, but overall: the environment politically and strategically, just never mesh. We didn't invade Vietnam. They had a functioning government. There were clear lines of who was who based on borders (I am not ignoring the insurgency -- Vietcong, etc.
It was the cold war and unlike Iraq there were not six varying countries throwing a myriad of combatants into the fray with varying agendas and varying religious convictions. Even the physical environment demanded a different strategy, insurgents or no insurgents.
One has to plan for insurgent warfare as invading any country is bound to have those who get the best defense is one of stealth when your foe is as large a target as the US was in Iraq. But for all of the complaints about Counter-Insurgency the one that no one seems willing to state is the simplest. Don't invade countries for which there is no clean or clear motive to do so. It's that simple. There was never a need to invade Iraq, if anything we should have readjusted our dynamic and began a process of easing sanctions for their aide in countering terrorism.
There was no reason to invade Afghanistan -- even to distribute more bikinis and advance killing children in the womb. We wanted twenty guys and instead we stirred a hornet's nest . . . ok well, more than one.
Vietnam really was an act of selflessness, we wanted to shore up a small republic seeking a different course to communism. It bolstered our own ideas against the grand schema of the Soviet Union, rightly or wrongly. Now you are not the only one who has a gripe with counterinsurgency.
And I think it's a debate/discussion worth having, and while it may be useful to examine COIN as to Vietnam strategically -- I think it can be done minus the incorrect and yet incessant sack cloth and ashes built on mountains of liberal psychological faux trauma as if the trauma of war is somehow unique to Vietnam,. It is not. As you know war is a nasty filthy business, best left alone. But on occasion one gets pushed into a fight as did S. Vietnam and when that screw is turned -- well history is replete of the consequences, the waste, the blood, the brokenness . . . The tragedy of war does not mean one loses a war.@AnonThomm , February 5, 2018 at 7:32 am GMT
How true! If only the US had recognized the power of man's baser instincts and did what the US does best -- continue selling its culture of consumerism and hedonism, Vietnam would have arrived at the point much sooner and with virtually no loss of life.Ultimately, the victory of WW2 due to sheer weight of industrial productivity ramp and hence massive output of planes, tanks, submarines, etc. made defense a large part of the US economy. Since that time, too many entrenched interests just never want the military to downsize. Hence, the US has to keep invented new demand for a product that otherwise would not have such demand, but keeps some major entrenched interests powerful.Greg Bacon , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm GMT
I mean, the Korean war started just 5 years after WW2 ended. They could barely wait for a new crop of boys to turn 18 and become cannon fodder. 50,000 in Korea right after the 300,000 in WW2.
When casualties became politically incorrect (after VietNam), the focus shifted towards lengthy 'nation building', that was not meant to succeed, but just to cost a lot for a long time. In theory, the Iraq War could have worked, IF the true objective was the installation of a moderate regime in Iraq, coupled with no extended US occupation. But that was not the true objective after all, so it did not work.The BIGGEST lesson to come out of the illegal and immoral War against Vietnam is that the draft was impeding the MIC's effort to sell Americans on the idea of supporting endless war.Wyatt Pendleton , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm GMT
Get rid of the draft and there will be no protests hell raised back home by people of draft age–and their families and friends–who don't want to get drafted to fight wars so colonels can become generals; Wall Street can make a killing on the killing and so the Pentagon can try out its new 'gee-whiz' weapons in the field on actual people.
The next biggest lesson was that the media must be tamed and brought under control with embedding, so they'll push the Pentagon's and Wall Street message of duty, honor, Mom and apple pie onto gullible Americans, who now damn near get orgasmic when they see a multi-billion dollar killing machine–the B-2–fly over the upcoming gladiator battle in the newest billion dollar coliseum and go into the State-mandated 'Two Minutes Hate' whenever they see or hear the word Muslim or Islam.
For the record, I did my time in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne.So America worships Ares/Mars and doesn't expect the god of War to want to eat them too? There shall be wars and rumors of wars .I so look forward to watching this love of war spread itself from sea to shining sea.n230099 , February 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm GMTUntil the young wise up and realize that the military operations in other countries have nothing to do with the freedoms we have here and that they're being used as fodder for the investments that the MIC has in the companies that make the tools of war, we will keep having this nonsense. The kids need to wise up. The government has at its disposal all it needs to 'win' if it wants to. But if you 'win' , the sales and manufacturing of the goodies is curtailed. They'd rather send the kids into the meat grinder all pumped up thinking they're 'preserving freedom' LOL!augusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm GMT@CKaugusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm GMT
Nice, thank U. I´d never before had figured out, never outlined such a precise conceptual sight of the two still remaining American mindsets on HOW to win.
Yes, cause for them Amerika must obviously must always win. So there are two viewpoints, that in plain clear English we citizens of the shitholin´ countries wherever -- express as follows:@Singhanother fred , February 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm GMT
Yes, you say tariffs and proteccionism help accrue capital.
Have you got any objection against a large, populous but still poor country (like Nigeria, Indonesia, India or Brazil) sticking to higher (though not sky high) tariffs and protectionism to raise their production, their income and their living standards?
That was PRECISELY HOW the US, Uk, Germany and the Meiji era Japan, not to mention China from 1949 to Chu enLai) acted and because of it rose the heights of the present status and well being societies.
Yes, you naive repeater, let´s us first protect ourselves from the globalist wolves and THEN, we can sit down and talk but from a firm solid position, not the other way round. cut the frack! We southern people are fed up with that northern hemispheric sales talk – it ´s so convenient to you – but the web exists and times change.
It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.
It's not just the generals. The whole idea of the state is to control the uncontrollable in