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Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

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Fifth Column of Globalization Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries US Department of Imperial Expansion Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
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Introduction

All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

Looks like the USA successfully managed to recreate Imperial Rome on a new level, neoliberalism level. See Empires Then and Now - PaulCraig

The idea financial imperialism is simple. Instead of old-fashion military occupation of the country, take over the countries in crisis, if necessary remove their democratically elected governments from power by claiming that election are falsified and/or official are corrupted, and/or the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install). They use the installed puppets to mandate austerity, burden the country with debt  and facilitate condition under which most of which will be stolen and repatriated to the West.

But neoliberals take this old idea to a new level -- the crisis can be manufactured. The scheme looks like the following (see IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement discussion of Greece for more information):

After installation of a puppet government, it is relatively easy to use Fifth column based government to protect foreign financial interests. Now you can recoup the costs and enjoy the profits. Much cheaper and more humane then bombing the country and killing a couple of hundred thousand people to achieve the same goals (Iraq variant) or by arming and training  jihadists (using Saudi and Gulf monarchies money) and tribal elements to depose the government (Libya and Syria variants) who kill as much, if nor more. 

A classic recent examples were Yeltsin's government in Russia, Yushchenko regime in Ukraine,  Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk duo in Ukraine and sequence of neoliberal governments in Greece. 

In other words neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization (Neoliberalism A Critical Reader Alfredo Saad-Filho, Deborah Johnston, p. 2)

In the conventional (or mainstream) discourse, imperialism is either absent or, more recently, proudly presented as the ‘AmericanBurden': to civilize the world and bring to all the benediction of the Holy Trinity, the green-faced Lord Dollar and its deputies and occasional rivals. Holy Euro and Saint Yen. New converts win a refurbished international airport, one brand-new branch of McDonald’s, two luxury hotels, 3,000 NGOs and one US military base.

This offer cannot be refused - or else.2 In turn, globalisation is generally presented as an inescapable, inexorable and benevolent process leading to greater competition, welfare improvements and the spread of democracy around the world. In reality, however, the so-called process of globalisation - to the extent that it actually exists (see Saad-Rlho 2003) - is merely the international face of neoliberalism: a world-wide strategy of accumulation and social discipline that doubles up as tin imperialist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions.

This ambitious power project centered on neoliberalism at home and imperial globalism abroad is implemented by diverse social and economic political alliances in each country, but the interests of local finance and the US ruling class, itself dominated by finance, are normally hegemonic.

...the United States, the United Kingdom and east and south-east Asia respectively, neoliberalism is a particular organisation of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure. The internal forces include the coalition between financial interests, leading industrialists, traders and exporters, media barons, big landowners, local political chieftains, the top echelons of the civil service and the military, and their intellectual and political proxies. These groups are closely connected with ‘global’ ideologies emanating from the centre, and they tend to adapt swiftly to the demands beamed from the metropolis. Their efforts have led to a significant worldwide shift in powerrelations away from the majority. Corporate power has increased, while finance hits acquired unrivalled influence, and the political spectrum has shifted towards the right. Left parties and mass organisations have imploded, while trade unions have been muzzled or disabled by unemployment. Forms of external pressure have included the diffusion of Western culture and ideology, foreign support for state and civil society institutions peddling neolibcral values, the shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.

...the ruling economic and political forces in the European Union have instrumentalised the process of integration to ensure the hegemony of neoliberalism. This account is complemented by the segmentation of Eastern Europe into countries that are being drawn into a Western European-style neoliberalism and others that are following Russia’s business oligarchy model.

In sum, neoliberalism is everywhere both the outcome and the arena of social conflicts. It sets the political and economic agenda, limits the possible outcomes, biases expectations, and imposes urgent tasks on those challenging its assumptions, methods and consequences.

In the meantime, neoliberal theory has not remained static. In order to deal with the most powerful criticisms leveled against neoliberalism, that it has increased poverty and social dislocation around the world, neoliberal theory has attempted to present the ogre in a more favorable light. In spite of the substantial resources invested in this ideologically inspired make-over, these amendments have remained unconvincing, not least because the heart of the neoliberal project has remained unchanged. This is discussed in Chapter 15 for poverty and distribution, while Chapter 21 unpicks the agenda of the ‘Third Way', viewed by many as ‘neoliberalism with a human face’.

Neoliberalism offered a finance-friendly solution to the problems of capital accumulation at the end of a relatively long cycle of prosperity. Chapters 1. 22 and 30 show that neoliberalism imposed discipline upon a restless working class through contractionary fiscal and monetary policies and wide-ranging initiatives to curtail social rights, under the guise of anti-inflation and productivity-enhancing measures. Neoliberalism also rationalised the transfer of state capacity to allocate resources inter-temporally (the balance between investment and consumption) and inter-sectorally (the distribution of investment, employment and output) towards an increasingly internationally integrated (and US-led) financial sector. In doing so, neoliberalism facilitated a gigantic transfer of resources to the local rich and the United States, as is shown by Chapters 11 and 15.

The “elephant in the room” is peak oil (plato oil to be more correct) and the plato of food production. Without "cheap oil" extraction growing, it is more difficult to sustain both  population growth and rising standard of living simultaneously. It became the situation of iether/or.

So the future it does not look pretty. As soon as "cheap oil"  escape the current plato,  Western financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  Essentially they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability.  That connection was discovered by Hyman Minsky. Minsky explored a form of instability that is embedded in neoliberal/financialized economies resulting from the use of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking. he argued that such an economy automatically generates bubbles, bursting of which result in periodic deep economic crisis. Which are not an exception, but a feature of neoliberal capitalism (aka "supercapitalism", or "casino capitalism).  

When Minsky crisis hits  some, less important, banks will implode and strategically important need to be saved by government at a great expense for taxpayers. The western elite is well aware of this possibility and will steal, loot and pillage as fast as they can to prolong the agony...  Neoliberal expansion and conversion of other countries into debt slaves thus serves as a substitute for economic growth.

What actually is devalued in austerity programs imposed on indebted nations via currency depreciation is the price of local labor (along with standard of living of the most population). So austerity programs caused a huge drop in the standard of living of population. For example after EuroMaydan color revolution the standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population).

This is a pretty instructive example.   It qlso cur domestic consumption of fuels and minerals, consumer goods, and food.  As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced them directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages). But the currency depreciation can do the same trick even more effectively. For example since February 22 coup d'état, grivna, the Ukrainian currency depreciated from 8 to 28 grivna to dollar, or approximately 350%.

This is how war of creditors against debtor countries turns into a class war. But to impose such neoliberal reforms, foreign pressure is necessary to bypass domestic, democratically elected Parliaments. Not every country’s voters can be expected to be as passive in acting against their own interests as those of Latvia and Ireland. The financial capital objective is to bypass parliament by demanding a “consensus” (facilitated by a huge foreign debt) to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy. This is the essence of the status of debt slave country. Civil war it a perfect tool to accelerate this process. 

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar now can be called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that is a grim reality of "debt slave" countries, where populations are indentured laborers of international capital. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender" ( Wikipedia ):

An indentured servant or indentured laborer is an employee (indenturee) within a system of unfree labor who is bound by a signed or forced contract (indenture) to work for a particular employer for a fixed time. The contract often lets the employer sell the labor of an indenturee to a third party. Indenturees usually enter into an indenture for a specific payment or other benefit, or to meet a legal obligation, such as debt bondage.

The whole point of creating debt is to gain control of and rule over such countries.  Prof. Hudson's article Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011) illustrates this point admirably.

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, all rules are ignored – in order to serve the “higher justice” of saving banks and their high-finance counterparties from taking a loss. This is quite a contrast compared to IMF policy toward labor and “taxpayers.” The class war is back in business – with a vengeance, and bankers are the winners this time around.

Classic, textbook example of neocolonialism was rape of Russia in 1991-1999. See Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia

Henry C K Liu Views

One of the most interesting analysis of this new phenomena was provided by Henry C K Liu in his series of articles SUPER CAPITALISM, SUPER IMPERIALISM


PART 1: A Structural Link

Robert B Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and resident neo-liberal in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997, wrote in the September 14, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal an opinion piece, "CEOs Deserve Their Pay", as part of an orchestrated campaign to promote his new book: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Afred A Knopf).

Reich is a former Harvard professor and the former Maurice B Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkley) and a regular liberal gadfly in the unabashed supply-side Larry Kudlow TV show that celebrates the merits of capitalism.

Reich's Supercapitalism brings to mind Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972-2003). While Reich, a liberal turned neo-liberal, sees "supercapitalism" as the natural evolution of insatiable shareholder appetite for gain, a polite euphemism for greed, that cannot or should not be reined in by regulation, Hudson, a Marxist heterodox economist, sees "super imperialism" as the structural outcome of post-World War II superpower geopolitics, with state interests overwhelming free market forces, making regulation irrelevant. While Hudson is critical of "super imperialism" and thinks that it should be resisted by the weaker trading partners of the US, Reich gives the impression of being ambivalent about the inevitability, if not the benignity, of "supercapitalism".

The structural link between capitalism and imperialism was first observed by John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940), an English economist, who wrote in 1902 an insightful analysis of the economic basis of imperialism. Hobson provided a humanist critique of neoclassical economics, rejecting exclusively materialistic definitions of value. With Albert Frederick Mummery (1855-1895), the great British mountaineer who was killed in 1895 by an avalanche while reconnoitering Nanga Parbat, an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak, Hobson wrote The Physiology of Industry (1889), which argued that an industrial economy requires government intervention to maintain stability, and developed the theory of over-saving that was given a glowing tribute by John Maynard Keynes three decades later.

The need for governmental intervention to stabilize an expanding national industrial economy was the rationale for political imperialism. On the other side of the coin, protectionism was a governmental counter-intervention on the part of weak trading partners for resisting imperialist expansion of the dominant power. Historically, the processes of globalization have always been the result of active state policy and action, as opposed to the mere passive surrender of state sovereignty to market forces. Market forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They are governed by man-made rules. Globalized markets require the acceptance by local authorities of established rules of the dominant economy. Currency monopoly of course is the most fundamental trade restraint by one single dominant government.

Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year of US independence. By the time the constitution was framed 11 years later, the US founding fathers were deeply influenced by Smith's ideas, which constituted a reasoned abhorrence of trade monopoly and government policy in restricting trade. What Smith abhorred most was a policy known as mercantilism, which was practiced by all the major powers of the time. It is necessary to bear in mind that Smith's notion of the limitation of government action was exclusively related to mercantilist issues of trade restraint. Smith never advocated government tolerance of trade restraint, whether by big business monopolies or by other governments in the name of open markets.

A central aim of mercantilism was to ensure that a nation's exports remained higher in value than its imports, the surplus in that era being paid only in specie money (gold-backed as opposed to fiat money). This trade surplus in gold permitted the surplus country, such as England, to invest in more factories at home to manufacture more for export, thus bringing home more gold. The importing regions, such as the American colonies, not only found the gold reserves backing their currency depleted, causing free-fall devaluation (not unlike that faced today by many emerging-economy currencies), but also wanting in surplus capital for building factories to produce for domestic consumption and export. So despite plentiful iron ore in America, only pig iron was exported to England in return for English finished iron goods. The situation was similar to today's oil producing countries where despite plentiful crude oil, refined petrochemical products such as gasoline and heating oil have to be imported.

In 1795, when the newly independent Americans began finally to wake up to their disadvantaged trade relationship and began to raise European (mostly French and Dutch) capital to start a manufacturing industry, England decreed the Iron Act, forbidding the manufacture of iron goods in its American colonies, which caused great dissatisfaction among the prospering colonials.

Smith favored an opposite government policy toward promoting domestic economic production and free foreign trade for the weaker traders, a policy that came to be known as "laissez faire" (because the English, having nothing to do with such heretical ideas, refuse to give it an English name). Laissez faire, notwithstanding its literal meaning of "leave alone", meant nothing of the sort. It meant an activist government policy to counteract mercantilism. Neo-liberal free-market economists are just bad historians, among their other defective characteristics, when they propagandize "laissez faire" as no government interference in trade affairs.

Friedrich List, in his National System of Political Economy (1841), asserts that political economy as espoused in England, far from being a valid science universally, was merely British national opinion, suited only to English historical conditions. List's institutional school of economics asserts that the doctrine of free trade was devised to keep England rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners and it must be fought with protective tariffs and other protective devices of economic nationalism by the weaker countries.

Henry Clay's "American system" was a national system of political economy. US neo-imperialism in the post WWII period disingenuously promotes neo-liberal free-trade against governmental protectionism to keep the US rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners. Before the October Revolution of 1917, many national liberation movements in European colonies and semi-colonies around the world were influenced by List's economic nationalism. The 1911 Nationalist Revolution in China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by Lincoln's political ideas - government of the people, by the people and for the people - and the economic nationalism of List, until after the October Revolution when Sun realized that the Soviet model was the correct path to national revival.

Hobson's magnum opus, Imperialism, (1902), argues that imperialistic expansion is driven not by state hubris, known in US history as "manifest destiny", but by an innate quest for new markets and investment opportunities overseas for excess capital formed by over-saving at home for the benefit of the home state. Over-saving during the industrial age came from Richardo's theory of the iron law of wages, according to which wages were kept perpetually at subsistence levels as a result of uneven market power between capital and labor. Today, job outsourcing that returns as low-price imports contributes to the iron law of wages in the US domestic economy. (See my article Organization of Labor Exporting Countries [OLEC]).

Hobson's analysis of the phenology (study of life cycles) of capitalism was drawn upon by Lenin to formulate a theory of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism:

"Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed." (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1916, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7).

Lenin was also influenced by Rosa Luxemberg, who three year earlier had written her major work, The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism (Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus), 1913). Luxemberg, together with Karl Liebknecht a founding leader of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a radical Marxist revolutionary movement that later renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), was murdered on January 15, 1919 by members of the Freikorps, rightwing militarists who were the forerunners of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) led by Ernst Rohm.

The congenital association between capitalism and imperialism requires practically all truly anti-imperialist movements the world over to be also anti-capitalist. To this day, most nationalist capitalists in emerging economies are unwitting neo-compradors for super imperialism. Neo-liberalism, in its attempts to break down all national boundaries to facilitate global trade denominated in fiat dollars, is the ideology of super imperialism.

Hudson, the American heterodox economist, historian of ancient economies and post-WW II international balance-of-payments specialist, advanced in his 1972 book the notion of 20th century super imperialism. Hudson updated Hobson's idea of 19th century imperialism of state industrial policy seeking new markets to invest home-grown excess capital. To Hudson, super imperialism is a state financial strategy to export debt denominated in the state's fiat currency as capital to the new financial colonies to finance the global expansion of a superpower empire.

No necessity, or even intention, was entertained by the superpower of ever having to pay off these paper debts after the US dollar was taken off gold in 1971.

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

Super imperialism transformed into monetary imperialism after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis with the creation of the petrodollar and two decades later emerged as dollar hegemony through financial globalization after 1993. As described in my 2002 AToL article, Dollar hegemony has to go, a geopolitical phenomenon emerged after the 1973 oil crisis in which the US dollar, a fiat currency since 1971, continues to serve as the primary reserve currency for  international trade because oil continues to be denominated in fiat dollars as a result of superpower geopolitics, leading to dollar hegemony in 1993 with the globalization of deregulated financial markets.

Three causal developments allowed dollar hegemony to emerge over a span of two decades after 1973 and finally take hold in 1993. US fiscal deficits from overseas spending since the 1950s caused a massive drain in US gold holdings, forcing the US in 1971 to abandon the 1945 Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rate based on a gold-backed dollar. Under that international financial architecture, cross-border flow of funds was not considered necessary or desirable for promoting international trade or domestic development. The collapse of the 1945 Bretton Woods regime in 1971 was the initial development toward dollar hegemony.

The second development was the denomination of oil in dollars after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis. The emergence of petrodollars was the price the US, still only one of two contending superpowers in 1973, extracted from defenseless oil-producing nations for allowing them to nationalize the Western-owned oil industry on their soil. As long as oil transactions are denominated in fiat dollars, the US essentially controls all the oil in the world financially regardless of specific ownership, reducing all oil producing nations to the status of commodity agents of dollar hegemony.

The third development was the global deregulation of financial markets after the Cold War, making cross-border flow of funds routine, and a general relaxation of capital and foreign exchange control by most governments involved in international trade. This neo-liberal trade regime brought into existence a foreign exchange market in which free-floating exchange rates made computerized speculative attacks on weak currencies a regular occurrence. These three developments permitted the emergence of dollar hegemony after 1994 and helped the US win the Cold War with financial power derived from fiat money.

Dollar hegemony advanced super imperialism one stage further from the financial to the monetary front. Industrial imperialism sought to achieve a trade surplus by exporting manufactured good to the colonies for gold to fund investment for more productive plants at home. Super imperialism sought to extract real wealth from the colonies by paying for it with fiat dollars to sustain a balance of payments out of an imbalance in the exchange of commodities. Monetary imperialism under dollar hegemony exports debt denominated in fiat dollars through a permissive trade deficit with the new colonies, only to re-import the debt back to the US as capital account surplus to finance the US debt bubble.

The circular recycling of dollar-denominated debt was made operative by the dollar, a fiat currency that only the US can print at will, continuing as the world's prime reserve currency for international trade and finance, backed by US geopolitical superpower. Dollars are accepted universally because oil is denominated in dollars and everyone needs oil and thus needs dollars to buy oil. Any nation that seeks to denominate key commodities, such as oil, in currencies other than the dollar will soon find itself invaded by the sole superpower. Thus the war on Iraq is not about oil, as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested recently. It is about keeping oil denominated in dollars to protect dollar hegemony. The difference is subtle but of essential importance.

Since 1993, central banks of all trading nations around the world, with the exception of the US Federal Reserve, have been forced to hold more dollar reserves than they otherwise need to ward off the potential of sudden speculative attacks on their currencies in unregulated global financial markets. Thus "dollar hegemony" prevents the exporting nations, such as the Asian Tigers, from spending domestically the dollars they earn from the US trade deficit and forces them to fund the US capital account surplus, shipping real wealth to the US in exchange for the privilege of financing further growth of the US debt economy.

Not only do these exporting nations have to compete by keeping their domestic wages down and by prostituting their environment, the dollars that they earn cannot be spent at home without causing a monetary crisis in their own currencies because the dollars they earn have to be exchanged into local currencies before they can be spent domestically, causing an excessive rise in their domestic money supply which in turn causes domestic inflation-pushed bubbles. While the trade-surplus nations are forced to lend their export earnings back to the US, these same nations are starved for capital, as global capital denominated in dollars will only invest in their export sectors to earn more dollars. The domestic sector with local currency earnings remains of little interest to global capital denominated in dollars. As a result, domestic development stagnates for lack of capital.

Dollar hegemony permits the US to transform itself from a competitor in world markets to earn hard money, to a fiat-money-making monopoly with fiat dollars that only it can print at will. Every other trading nation has to exchange low-wage goods for dollars that the US alone can print freely and that can be spent only in the dollar economy without monetary penalty.

The victimization of Japan and China

Japan is a classic victim of monetary imperialism. In 1990, as a result of Japanese export prowess, the Industrial Bank of Japan was the largest bank in the world, with a market capitalization of $57 billion. The top nine of the 10 largest banks then were all Japanese, trailed by Canadian Alliance in 10th place. No US bank made the top-10 list. By 2001, the effects of dollar hegemony have pushed Citigroup into first place with a market capitalization of $260 billion. Seven of the top 10 largest financial institutions in the world in 2001 were US-based, with descending ranking in market capitalization: Citigroup ($260 billion), AIG ($209 billion), HSBC (British-$110 billion), Berkshire Hathaway ($100 billion), Bank of America ($99 billion), Fanny Mae ($80 billion), Wells Fargo ($74 billion), JP Morgan Chase ($72 billion), RBS (British-$70 billion) and UBS (Swiss-$67 billion). No Japanese bank survived on the list.

China is a neoclassic case of dollar hegemony victimization even though its domestic financial markets are still not open and the yuan is still not freely convertible. With over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves earned at a previously lower fixed exchange rate of 8.2 to a dollar set in 1985, now growing at the rate of $1 billion a day at a narrow-range floating exchange rate of around 7.5 since July 2005, China cannot spend much of it dollar holdings on domestic development without domestic inflation caused by excessive expansion of its yuan money supply. The Chinese economy is overheating because the bulk of its surplus revenue is in dollars from exports that cannot be spent inside China without monetary penalty. Chinese wages are too low to absorb sudden expansion of yuan money supply to develop the domestic economy. And with over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, equal to its annual GDP, China cannot even divest from the dollar without having the market effect of a falling dollar moving against its remaining holdings.

The People's Bank of China announced on July 20, 2005 that effective immediately the yuan exchange rate would go up by 2.1% to 8.11 yuan to the US dollar and that China would drop the dollar peg to its currency. In its place, China would move to a "managed float" of the yuan, pegging the currency's exchange value to an undisclosed basket of currencies linked to its global trade. In an effort to limit the amount of volatility, China would not allow the currency to fluctuate by more than 0.3% in any one trading day. Linking the yuan to a basket of currencies means China's currency is relatively free from market forces acting on the dollar, shifting to market forces acting on a basket of currencies of China's key trading partners. The basket is composed of the euro, yen and other Asian currencies as well as the dollar. Though the precise composition of the basket was not disclosed, it can nevertheless be deduced by China's trade volume with key trading partners and by mathematical calculation from the set-daily exchange rate.

Thus China is trapped in a trade regime operating on an international monetary architecture in which it must continue to export real wealth in the form of underpaid labor and polluted environment in exchange for dollars that it must reinvest in the US. Ironically, the recent rise of anti-trade sentiment in US domestic politics offers China a convenient, opportune escape from dollar hegemony to reduce its dependence on export to concentrate on domestic development. Chinese domestic special interest groups in the export sector would otherwise oppose any policy to slow the growth in export if not for the rise of US protectionism which causes shot-term pain for China but long-term benefit in China's need to restructure its economy toward domestic development. Further trade surplus denominated in dollar is of no advantage to China.

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

Even as the domestic US economy declined after the onset of globalization in the early 1990s, US dominance in global finance has continued to this day on account of dollar hegemony. It should not be surprising that the nation that can print at will the world's reserve currency for international trade should come up on top in deregulated global financial markets. The so-called emerging markets around the world are the new colonies of monetary imperialism in a global neo-liberal trading regime operating under dollar hegemony geopolitically dominated by the US as the world's sole remaining superpower.

Denial of corporate social responsibility

In Supercapitalism, Reich identifies corporate social responsibility as a diversion from economic efficiency and an un-capitalistic illusion. Of course the late Milton Friedman had asserted that the only social responsibility of corporations is to maximize profit, rather than to generate economic well-being and balanced growth through fair profits. There is ample evidence to suggest that a single-minded quest for maximizing global corporate profit can lead to domestic economic decline in even the world's sole remaining superpower. The US public is encouraged to blame such decline on the misbehaving trading partners of the US rather than US trade policy that permits US transnational corporation to exploit workers in all trading nations, including those in the US. It is a policy that devalues work by over-rewarding financial manipulation.

Yet to Reich, the US corporate income tax is regressive and inequitable and should be abolished so that after-tax corporate profit can be even further enhanced. This pro-profit position is at odds with even rising US Republican sentiment against transnational corporations and their global trade strategies. Reich also thinks the concept of corporate criminal liability is based on an "anthropomorphic fallacy" that ends up hurting innocent people. Reich sees as inevitable an evolutionary path towards an allegedly perfect new world of a super-energetic capitalism responding to the dictate of all-powerful consumer preference through market democracy.

Reich argues that corporations cannot be expected to be more "socially responsible" than their shareholders or even their consumers, and he implies that consumer preference and behavior are the proper and effective police forces that supersede the need for market regulation. He sees corporations, while viewed by law as "legal persons", as merely value-neutral institutional respondents of consumer preferences in global markets. Reich claims that corporate policies, strategies and behavior in market capitalism are effectively governed by consumer preferences and need no regulation by government. This is essentially the ideology of neo-liberalism.

Yet US transnational corporations derive profit from global operations serving global consumers to maximize return on global capital. These transnational corporations will seek to shift production to where labor is cheapest and environmental standards are lowest and to market their products where prices are highest and consumer purchasing power the strongest. Often, these corporations find it more profitable to sell products they themselves do not make, controlling only design and marketing, leaving the dirty side of manufacturing to others with underdeveloped market power. This means if the US wants a trade surplus under the current terms of trade, it must lower it wages. The decoupling of consumers from producers weakens the conventional effects of market pressure on corporate social responsibility. Transnational corporations have no home community loyalty. Consumers generally do not care about sweat shop conditions overseas while overseas workers do not care about product safety on goods they produce but cannot afford to buy. Products may be made in China, but they are not made by China, but by US transnational corporations which are responsible for the quality and safety of their products.

Further, it is well recognized that corporations routinely and effectively manipulate consumer preference and market acceptance often through if not false, at least misleading advertising, not for the benefit of consumers, but to maximize return on faceless capital raised from global capital markets. The subliminal emphasis by the corporate culture on addictive acquisition of material things, coupled with a structural deprivation of adequate income to satisfy the manipulated desires, has made consumers less satisfied than in previous times of less material abundance. Corporations have been allowed to imbed consumption-urging messages into every aspect of modern life. The result is a disposable culture with packaged waste, an obesity crisis for all age groups, skyrocketing consumer debt, the privatization of public utilities that demand the same fee for basic services from rich and poor alike, causing a sharp disparity in affordability. It is a phenomenon described by Karl Marx as "Fetishism of Commodities".

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

The relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason why the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses … The existence of the things qua commodities, and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. It is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world, the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. This Fetishism of Commodities has its origin … in the peculiar social character of the labor that produces them.
Marx asserts that "the mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use-value" (Section 1, p 71). Market value is derived from social relations, not from use-value which is a material phenomenon. Thus Marx critiques the Marginal Utility Theory by pointing out that market value is affected by social relationships. For example, the marginal utility of door locks is a function of the burglary rate in a neighborhood which in turn is a function of the unemployment rate. Unregulated free markets are a regime of uninhibited price gouging by monopolies and cartels.

Thus the nature of money cannot be adequately explained even in terms of the material-technical properties of gold, but only in terms of the factors behind man's desire and need for gold. Similarly, it is not possible to fully understand the price of capital from the technical nature of the means of production, but only from the social institution of private ownership and the terms of exchange imposed by uneven market power. Market capitalism is a social institution based on the fetishism of commodities.

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

While Reich is on target in warning about the danger to democracy posed by the corporate state, and in claiming that only people can be citizens, and only citizens should participate in democratic decision making, he misses the point that transnational corporations have transcended national boundaries. Yet in each community that these transnational corporations operate, they have the congenital incentive, the financial means and the legal mandate to manipulate the fetishism of commodities even in distant lands.

Moreover, representative democracy as practiced in the US is increasingly manipulated by corporate lobbying funded from high-profit-driven corporate financial resources derived from foreign sources controlled by management. Corporate governance is notoriously abusive of minority shareholder rights on the part of management. Notwithstanding Reich's rationalization of excessive CEO compensation, CEOs as a class are the most vocal proponents of corporate statehood. Modern corporations are securely insulated from any serious threats from consumer revolt. Inter-corporate competition presents only superficial and trivial choices for consumers. Motorists have never been offered any real choice on gasoline by oil companies or alternatives on the gasoline-guzzling internal combustion engine by car-makers.

High pay for CEOs

Reich asserts in his Wall Street Journal piece that modern CEOs in finance capitalism nowadays deserve their high pay because they have to be superstars, unlike their bureaucrat-like predecessors during industrial capitalism. Notwithstanding that one would expect a former labor secretary to argue that workers deserve higher pay, the challenge to corporate leadership in market capitalism has always been and will always remain management's ruthless pursuit of market leadership power, a euphemism for monopoly, by skirting the rule of law and regulations, framing legislative regimes through political lobbying, pushing down wages and worker benefits, increasing productivity by downsizing in an expanding market and manipulating consumer attitude through advertising. At the end of the day, the bottom line for corporate profit is a factor of lowering wage and benefit levels.

Reich seems to have forgotten that the captains of industry of 19th century free-wheeling capitalism were all superstars who evoked public admiration by manipulating the awed public into accepting the Horatio Alger myth of success through hard work, honesty and fairness. The derogatory term "robber barons" was first coined by protest pamphlets circulated by victimized Kansas farmers against ruthless railroad tycoons during the Great Depression.

The manipulation of the public will by moneyed interests is the most problematic vulnerability of US economic and political democracy. In an era when class warfare has taken on new sophistication, the accusation of resorting to class warfare argument is widely used to silence legitimate socio-economic protests. The US media is essentially owned by the moneyed interests. The decline of unionism in the US has been largely the result of anti-labor propaganda campaigns funded by corporations and government policies influenced by corporate lobbyists. The infiltration of organized crime was exploited to fan public anti-union sentiments while widespread corporate white collar crimes were dismissed as mere anomalies. (See Capitalism's bad apples: It's the barrel that's rotten)

Superman capitalism

As promoted by his permissive opinion piece, a more apt title for Reich's new book would be Superman Capitalism, in praise of the super-heroic qualities of successful corporate CEOs who deserve superstar pay. This view goes beyond even fascist superman ideology. The compensation of corporate CEOs in Nazi Germany never reached such obscene levels as those in US corporate land today.

Reich argues that CEOs deserve their super-high compensation, which has increased 600% in two decades, because corporate profits have also risen 600% in the same period. The former secretary of labor did not point out that wages rose only 30% in the same period. The profit/wage disparity is a growing cancer in the US-dominated global economy, causing over-production resulting from stagnant demand caused by inadequate wages. A true spokesman for labor would point out that enlightened modern management recognizes that the performance of a corporation is the sum total of effective team work between management and labor.

System analysis has long shown that collective effort on the part of the entire work force is indispensable to success in any complex organism. Further, a healthy consumer market depends on a balance between corporate earnings and worker earnings. Reich's point would be valid if US wages had risen by the same multiple as CEO pay and corporate profit, but he apparently thought that it would be poor etiquette to raise embarrassing issues as a guest writer in an innately anti-labor journal of Wall Street. Even then, unless real growth also rose 600% in two decades, the rise in corporate earning may be just an inflation bubble.

An introduction to economic populism

To be fair, Reich did address the income gap issue eight months earlier in another article, "An Introduction to Economic Populism" in the Jan-Feb, 2007 issue of The American Prospect, a magazine that bills itself as devoted to "liberal ideas". In that article, Reich relates a "philosophical" discussion he had with fellow neo-liberal cabinet member Robert Rubin, then treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, on two "simple questions".

The first question was: Suppose a proposed policy will increase the incomes of some people without decreasing the incomes of any others. Of course Reich must know that it is a question of welfare economics long ago answered by the "pareto optimum", which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice in the name of optimum resource allocation. "Should it be implemented? Bob and I agreed it should," writes Reich. Not exactly an earth-shaking liberal position. Rather, it is a classic neo-liberal posture.

And the second question: But suppose the people whose incomes will rise are already wealthier than everyone else. Although no one will lose ground, inequality will widen. Should it still be implemented? "I won't tell you where he and I came out on that second question," writes Reich without explaining why. He allows that "we agreed that people who don't share in such gains feel relatively poorer. Widening inequality also further tips the balance of political power in favor of the wealthy."

Of course, clear thinking would have left the second question mute because it would have invalidated the first question, as the real income of those whose nominal income has not fallen has indeed fallen relative to those whose nominal income has risen. In a macro monetary sense, it is not possible to raise the nominal income of some without lowering the real income of others. All incomes must rise together proportionally or inequality in after-inflation real income will increase.

Inequality only a new worry?

But for the sake of argument, let's go along with Reich's parable on welfare economics and financial equality. That conversation occurred a decade ago. Reich says in his January 2007 article that "inequality is far more worrisome now", as if it had not been or that the policies he and his colleagues in the Clinton administration, as evidenced by their answer to their own first question, did not cause the now "more worrisome" inequality. "The incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans have increased about 2% in real terms since then, while that of the top 1% has increased over 50%," Reich wrote in the matter of fact tone of an innocent bystander.

It is surprising that a former labor secretary would err even on the record on worker income. The US Internal Revenue Service reports that while incomes have been rising since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1% less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation. Hourly wage costs (including mandatory welfare contributions and benefits) grew more slowly than hourly productivity from 1993 to late 1997, the years of Reich's tenure as labor secretary. Corporate profit rose until 1997 before declining, meaning what should have gone to workers from productivity improvements went instead to corporate profits. And corporate profit declined after 1997 because of the Asian financial crisis, which reduced offshore income for all transnational companies, while domestic purchasing power remained weak because of sub-par worker income growth.

The break in trends in wages occurred when the unemployment rate sank to 5%, below the 6% threshold of NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) as job creation was robust from 1993 onwards. The "reserve army of labor" in the war against inflation disappeared after the 1997 Asian crisis when the Federal Reserve injected liquidity into the US banking system to launch the debt bubble. According to NAIRU, when more than 94% of the labor force is employed, the war on wage-pushed inflation will be on the defensive. Yet while US inflation was held down by low-price imports from low-wage economies, US domestic wages fell behind productivity growth from 1993 onward. US wages could have risen without inflationary effects but did not because of the threat of further outsourcing of US jobs overseas. This caused corporate profit to rise at the expense of labor income during the low-inflation debt bubble years.

Income inequality in the US today has reached extremes not seen since the 1920s, but the trend started three decades earlier. More than $1 trillion a year in relative income is now being shifted annually from roughly 90,000,000 middle and working class families to the wealthiest households and corporations via corporate profits earned from low-wage workers overseas. This is why nearly 60% of Republicans polled support more taxes on the rich.

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

The policies and practices responsible for today's widening income gap date back to the 1977-1981 period of the Carter administration which is justly known as the administration of deregulation. Carter's deregulation was done in the name of populism but the results were largely anti-populist. Starting with Carter, policies and practices by both corporations and government underwent a fundamental shift to restructure the US economy with an overhaul of job markets. This was achieved through widespread de-unionization, breakup of industry-wide collective bargaining which enabled management to exploit a new international division of labor at the expense of domestic workers.

The frontal assault on worker collective bargaining power was accompanied by a realigning of the progressive federal tax structure to cut taxes on the rich, a brutal neo-liberal global free-trade offensive by transnational corporations and anti-labor government trade policies. The cost shifting of health care and pension plans from corporations to workers was condoned by government policy. A wave of government-assisted compression of wages and overtime pay narrowed the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid workers (which will occur when lower-paid workers receive a relatively larger wage increase than the higher-paid workers with all workers receiving lower pay increases than managers). There was a recurring diversion of inflation-driven social security fund surpluses to the US fiscal budget to offset recurring inflation-adjusted federal deficits. This was accompanied by wholesale anti-trust deregulation and privatization of public sectors; and most egregious of all, financial market deregulation.

Carter deregulated the US oil industry four years after the 1973 oil crisis in the name of national security. His Democratic challenger, Senator Ted Kennedy, advocated outright nationalization. The Carter administration also deregulated the airlines, favoring profitable hub traffic at the expense of traffic to smaller cities. Air fares fell but service fell further. Delays became routine, frequently tripling door-to-door travel time. What consumers save in airfare, they pay dearly in time lost in delay and in in-flight discomfort. The Carter administration also deregulated trucking, which caused the Teamsters Union to support Ronald Reagan in exchange for a promise to delay trucking deregulation.

Railroads were also deregulated by Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which eased regulations on rates, line abandonment, and mergers to allow the industry to compete with truck and barge transportation that had caused a financial and physical deterioration of the national rail network railroads. Four years later, Congress followed up with the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which provided the railroads with greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables, expedited the line abandonment process, and allowed confidential contracts with shippers. Although railroads, like other modes of transportation, must purchase and maintain their own rolling stock and locomotives, they must also, unlike competing modes, construct and maintain their own roadbed, tracks, terminals, and related facilities. Highway construction and maintenance are paid for by gasoline taxes. In the regulated environment, recovering these fixed costs hindered profitability for the rail industry.

After deregulation, the railroads sought to enhance their financial situation and improve their operational efficiency with a mix of strategies to reduce cost and maximize profit, rather than providing needed service to passengers around the nation. These strategies included network rationalization by shedding unprofitable capacity, raising equipment and operational efficiencies by new work rules that reduced safety margins and union power, using differential pricing to favor big shippers, and pursuing consolidation, reducing the number of rail companies from 65 to 5 today. The consequence was a significant increase of market power for the merged rail companies, decreasing transportation options for consumers and increasing rates for remote, less dense areas.

In the agricultural sector, rail network rationalization has forced shippers to truck their bulk commodity products greater distances to mainline elevators, resulting in greater pressure on and damage to rural road systems. For inter-modal shippers, profit-based network rationalization has meant reduced access - physically and economically - to Container on Flat Car (COFC) and Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) facilities and services. Rail deregulation, as is true with most transportation and communication deregulation, produces sector sub-optimization with dubious benefits for the national economy by distorting distributional balance, causing congestion and inefficient use of land, network and lines.

Carter's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approach to radio and television regulation began in the mid-1970s as a search for relatively minor "regulatory underbrush" that could be cleared away for more efficient and cost-effective administration of the important rules that would remain. Congress largely went along with this updating trend, and initiated a few deregulatory moves of its own to make regulation more effective and responsive to contemporary conditions.

Reagan's anti-government fixation

The Reagan administration under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Mark Fowler in 1981 shifted deregulation to a fundamental and ideologically-driven reappraisal of regulations away from long-held principles central to national broadcasting policy appropriate for a democratic society. The result was removal of many longstanding rules to permit an overall reduction in FCC oversight of station ownership concentration and network operations. Congress grew increasingly wary of the pace of deregulation, however, and began to slow the pace of FCC deregulation by the late 1980s.

Specific deregulatory moves included (a) extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981; (b) expanding the number of television stations any single entity could own from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985, with further changes in 1995; (c) abolishing guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985; (d) elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987; (e) dropping, in 1985, FCC license guidelines for how much advertising could be carried; (f) leaving technical standards increasingly in the hands of licensees rather than FCC mandates; and (g) deregulation of television's competition, especially cable which went through several regulatory changes in the decade after 1983.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the 40-station ownership cap on radio stations. Since then, the radio industry has experienced unprecedented consolidation. In June 2003, the FCC voted to overhaul limits on media ownership. Despite having held only one hearing on the complex issue of media consolidation over a 20-month review period, the FCC, in a party-line vote, voted 3-2 to overhaul limits on media concentration. The rule would (1) increase the aggregate television ownership cap to enable one company to own stations reaching 45% of our nation's homes (from 35%), (2) lift the ban on newspaper-television cross-ownership, and (3) allow a single company to own three television stations in large media markets and two in medium ones. In the largest markets, the rule would allow a single company to own up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable television system, cable television stations, and a daily newspaper. A wide range of public-interest groups filed an appeal with the Third Circuit, which stayed the effective date of the new rules.

According to a BIA Financial Network report released in July 2006, a total of 88 television stations had been sold in the first six months of 2006, generating a transaction value of $15.7 billion. In 2005, the same period saw the sale of just 21 stations at a value of $244 million, with total year transactions of $2.86 billion.

Congress passed a law in 2004 that forbids any network to own a group of stations that reaches more than 39% of the national television audience. That is lower than the 45% limit set in 2003, but more than the original cap of 35% set in 1996 under the Clinton administration - leading public interest groups to argue that the proposed limits lead to a stifling of local voices.

Newspaper-television cross-ownership remains a contentious issue. Currently prohibited, it refers to the "common ownership of a full-service broadcast station and a daily newspaper when the broadcast station's area of coverage (or "contour") encompasses the newspaper's city of publication".

Capping of local radio and television ownership is another issue. While the original rule prohibited it, currently a company can own at least one television and one radio station in a market. In larger markets, "a single entity may own additional radio stations depending on the number of other independently owned media outlets in the market".

Most broadcasters and newspaper publishers are lobbying to ease or end restrictions on cross-ownership; they say it has to be the future of the news business. It allows newsgathering costs to be spread across platforms, and delivers multiple revenue streams in turn. Their argument is also tied to a rapidly changing media consumption market, and to the diversity of opinions available to the consumer with the rise of the Internet and other digital platforms.

The arguments against relaxing media ownership regulations are put forth by consumer unions and other interest groups on the ground that consolidation in any form inevitably leads to a lack of diversity of opinion. Cross-ownership limits the choices for consumers, inhibits localism and gives excessive media power to one entity.

Professional and workers' guilds of the communication industry (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists among others) would like the FCC to keep in mind the independent voice, and want a quarter of all prime-time programming to come from independent producers. The Children's Media Policy Coalition suggested that the FCC limit local broadcasters to a single license per market, so that there is enough original programming for children. Other interest groups like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters are worried about what impact the rules might have on station ownership by minorities.

Deregulatory proponents see station licensees not as "public trustees" of the public airwaves requiring the provision of a wide variety of services to many different listening groups. Instead, broadcasting has been increasingly seen as just another business operating in a commercial marketplace which did not need its management decisions questioned by government overseers, even though they are granted permission to use public airways. Opponents argue that deregulation violates a key mandate of the Communications Act of 1934 which requires licensees to operate in the public interest. Deregulation allows broadcasters to seek profits with little public service programming.

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of US telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation. It was approved by Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Clinton, a Democrat whom some have labeled as the best president the Republicans ever had. The act claimed to foster competition, but instead it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996 and 6 in 2005.

Regulation Q

The Carter administration increased the power of the Federal Reserve through the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 which was a necessary first step in ending the New Deal restrictions placed upon financial institutions, such as Regulation Q put in place by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and other restrictions on banks and financial institutions. The populist Regulation Q imposed limits and ceilings on bank and savings-and-loan (S&L) interest rates to provide funds for low-risk home mortgages. But with financial market deregulation, Regulation Q created incentives for US banks to do business outside the reach of US law, launching finance globalization. London came to dominate this offshore dollar business.

The populist Regulation Q, which regulated for several decades limits and ceilings on bank and S&L interest to serve the home mortgage sector, was phased out completely in March 1986. Banks were allowed to pay interest on checking account - the NOW accounts - to lure depositors back from the money markets. The traditional interest-rate advantage of the S&Ls was removed, to provide a "level playing field", forcing them to take the same risks as commercial banks to survive. Congress also lifted restrictions on S&Ls' commercial lending, which promptly got the whole industry into trouble that would soon required an unprecedented government bailout of depositors, with tax money. But the developers who made billions from easy credit were allowed to keep their profits. State usury laws were unilaterally suspended by an act of Congress in a flagrant intrusion on state rights. Carter, the well-intentioned populist, left a legacy of anti-populist policies. To this day, Greenspan continues to argue disingenuously that subprime mortgages helped the poor toward home ownership, instead of generating obscene profit for the debt securitization industry.

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

During the Reagan administration, corporate lobbying and electoral strategies allowed the corporate elite to wrest control of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, from conservative populists. In the late 1980s, supply-side economics was promoted to allow corporate interests to dominate US politics at the expense of labor by arguing that the only way labor can prosper is to let capital achieve high returns, notwithstanding the contradiction that high returns on capital must come from low wages.

New legislation and laws, executive orders, federal government rule-making, federal agency decisions, and think-tank propaganda, etc, subsequently followed the new political landscape, assisting the implementation of new corporate policies and practices emerging from corporate headquarters rather than from the shop floor. Economists and analysts who challenged this voodoo theory were largely shut out of the media. Workers by the million were persuaded to abandon their institutional collective defender to fend for themselves individually in the name of freedom. It was a freedom to see their job security eroded and wages and benefits fall with no recourse.

Note
1. Das Kapital, Volume One, Part I: Commodities and Money, Chapter One: Commodities, Section I.

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at http://www.henryckliu.com.

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance [Paperback]

William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Hudson is a Wall Street economist who used to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

In Part One, he describes the rise of the American empire.

Part Two describes its institutions: the US-controlled World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, which all benefit the USA. The US has the sole veto power in all three.

Part Three describes what Herman Kahn called `the greatest rip-off ever achieved', the way the US's ruling class levies us all to pay for its aggressive wars, just as the Roman Empire levied tribute to pay for its constant wars. Similarly Britain, Germany and Japan all pay for the US's military bases in their countries.

In 1945, as in 1918, Britain led Europe's capitulation to the USA's debt demands. The British ruling class chose dependency on the US ruling class. The USA insisted that Britain ended the sterling bloc, accepted IMF controls, did not impose exchange controls, and did not devalue. As Hudson writes, "The Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power."

The 1945-51 Labour government's huge spending on unnecessary imperial, counter-revolutionary wars robbed our industry of investment. This excessive military spending meant that we had constantly to borrow from the IMF, increasing our dependence on the USA. Now Britain is the USA's Trojan horse in Europe, against Britain's interests.

Hudson immodestly claims that his analysis supersedes Lenin. He says that the US national government's interests, not the private interests of the capitalist class, drive the system. He claims that the US government subordinates `the interests of its national bourgeoisie to the autonomous interests of the national government'. But is the US government really independent of the capitalist class? How `autonomous' are these interests?...

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

Difficult and rewarding, Hudson is the real deal, May 24, 2006

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This review is from: Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominanc (Paperback)

Super-Imperialism is better viewed as a radical alternative to common undergraduate textbooks such as Joan Edelman Spero's, "The Politics of International Economic Relations" than as an update to the theories of Lenin or Hobson. (His background and prose style are similar to Spero's and his book covers similar ground.)

It has three sections, each which could have been a separate book.

The 2003 Edition has a new introduction and two new chapters at the end. The rest of the book has occasional new material, but does not appear to have been extensively re-written.

It's a difficult and rewarding book. The difficulty lies partly in the subject matter itself, partly in Hudson's convoluted prose and partly in the numerous typographical errors that mar the 2003 Pluto Press edition.

The book is rewarding because it's honest. Readers educated in the U.S. will initially regard Hudson's account with some skepticism. We can't help it; We've been systematically miseducated by pro-U.S. polemics presented in an "objective" tone.

In contrast Hudson is a strident critic of the U.S. management of the global economy. But so is any reasonably objective person who is apprized of the facts. I much prefer an author who honestly tells you the real story as he understands it to one who conceals the awful truth behind an ostensibly impartial facade. But a "revisionist" has to work twice as hard to make his case, and that is why the book contains the detailed explication of what reviewer Myers calls the "intricacies of events and negotiations that gave rise to the present order."

I think an open-minded reader will be won over by Hudson's thoughtful use of contemporaneous sources (e.g. government publications and articles in the business press) and also biographical sources to illuminate how key decision makers understood the alternatives, and their motives for pursuing the policies that they did when forging the post-war economic order. As he places these choices in context it quickly becomes evident that the motives on the U.S. side have been consistently aggressive and that U.S. policy makers have all along viewed multilateral economic institutions as instruments of national policy--to the world's detriment.

Hudson also has a keen sense of the painfully narrow horizon of human foresight. The historical sections sometimes read like a conspiracy theory in which the conspirators are not very smart. E.g., Franklin Roosevelt's stubborn insistence that World War I debts be repaid prolonged the Great Depression; When J. M. Keynes was negotiating Bretton Woods for the newly elected Labour government, he got them a terrible deal; The U.S. transition to "super-imperialism" which is the main story of the book (chapters 11 through 14) was originally an unintended consequence of the huge budget and trade deficits caused by the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in "globalization" this book is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really only covers up through 1973, and it spends more time on the relationship between the U.S. and Europe than on "North-South" relations. Having said that, Ch. 8 "The Imperialism of U.S. Foreign Aid" is very good, esp. how foreign aid benefits the U.S. balance of payments and the harmful effects of U.S. agricultural exports. China is hardly mentioned.

If you are an economics student and you sense that they aren't telling you the whole story, or just a thoughtful citizen who wants to sharpen your conceptual tools for understanding and resisting the strategies of U.S. imperialism, this book is for you.

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Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

An awkward argument with moments of brilliance, November 3, 2004

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Hudson's historical argument in this book is both brilliant and sometimes a bit rough.

Hudson has always had a great talent for interpreting and sketching out for weaker minds like us what the US government's abandonment of the gold-standard really means. When Hudson came forward with his thesis in the mid 1970's, his thesis was outrageous among orthodox economists: to suggest that the US should be worried about the long-term consequences of running balance of payments deficits year after year, decade after decade was crazy leftist nonsense in the 1970s. As long as people continue to need the US markets more than the US needs any other one country's markets (and people still have faith in the good credit of the US government) there is no reason US could not run balance of payment deficits forever, according to the conventional wisdom.

What amazes me is that now, after having done exactly what Hudson warned the US government not to do in the 1970s, many otherwise relatively orthodox economists are beginning to worry about this. Hudson may be on the more "sky-is-falling" end of things, but his analysis was right on the nail in 1972 and is still there today: worst case scenario - massive recession and massive devaluation of the dollar (by massive I mean, unprecedented). Former US Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was quoted in March 16, 2006 WSJ as saying that "The probabilities are extremely high that if we don't address these imbalances, then at some point, and it could be years down the road, we'll pay a very big price." We are in a limbo world where no one really knows how this problem is going to play out, but Hudson should be credited for being one of the first, and longest-running, advocates for addressing this problem. Too bad it has taken so many decades for people to recognize what he has been telling us all along about balance of payments deficits.

The rest of the argument Hudson makes in this book is a bit tough to follow, though. Essentially, Hudson attempts to show how the US has, during this century but especially since WWII, systematically sought to manipulate all of the great economic institution-building opportunities following WWII to advance the interests of the US over other countries. Coming off the gold standard and running up a balance of payments deficit was just one of many ways in which this occurred. The US largely succeeded. The GATT (now WTO), World Bank, IMF, all bear American "fingerprints".

I agree that the mega-institutions of the contemporary world economic and political machine are largely the unilateral creation of the US, imposed on the other great nations at a time when the other nations were particularly vulnerable to US force of will and not particular inclined to be heterodox visionaries. I also agree that the US in general has probably used as much leverage as it could in negotiating all of the defining institutions in which it had any hand in constructing.

And yet, how could it have been any different? National governments pursue their self-interest and the interest of their citizens, often at the expense of other national governments and their citizens. The nation-state system is set up to work that way. But is the problem really one of US bad behavior, as Hudson suggests? Isn't the problem really structural? In the nation-state world, wherein the world is divided up into pseudo-autonomous political monopolies, each individually endowed with particular strengths and weaknesses, and all pitted against each other in a laissez-faire system where the only things that keep nation-states from raping and killing each other to oblivion are, good faith and the fact that the balance of power among the nation-states is enough to keep each monopoly contained in its behavior towards the other monopolies, what sort of behavior could we have expected from the US, a nation-state that, at a series of pivotal moments in 20th century history, found itself with "golden opportunities" to take advantage of other nations' weaknesses and advance its own power? Would the French, or the Brits, or the Japanese, or the Italians, or the Germans, or the Russians have behaved any different if they found themselves holding all the cards in 1945 instead of the US?

My point is, the facts Hudson lays out are correct -- there clearly is a problem in the way in which our current world order has been put together and the US is at the middle of that problem. The conclusions Hudson draws from those facts do not go deep enough in understanding what those facts mean, however.

It isn't that the Americans behave or behaved "bad" by the standard of good behavior implicit in the nation-state system, it is that the nation-state system itself to a certain extent reflects 19th century laissez-faire values of autonomy and individuality that pit nation-states against each other in a world where each is out to improve its lot through trade and, when possible and tolerable, violence.

The system itself breaks down when one player becomes too powerful. To blame the US for the systemic problem of massive power imbalances between nation states is simply pushing any hope for correction in the wrong direction.

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

FT.com / Columnists / Samuel Brittan - The wrong kind of Third Way: When a book entitled Supercapitalism: the Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business (Icon Books) landed on my desk I took it for just another of the many anti-capitalist diatribes so beloved by publishers. Its author was Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labour who parted company from the Clinton administration on the grounds that it was not interventionist enough. But I was glad I persevered. For it turned out to be one of the most interesting books on political economy to appear for a long time.

During the postwar decades up to the early 1970s, the Bretton Woods system of semi-fixed exchange rates worked, after a fashion; and countries seemed able to combine full employment with low inflation and historically rapid growth and diminishing income differences. Reich calls them a "not quite golden age". It was "not quite" because of the treatment of women and minorities and the prevailing conformist and authoritarian atmosphere.

It has been succeeded by what Reich calls supercapitalism, in which the cult of the bottom line has replaced the cosy oligopolies of postwar decades, once-dominant companies shrink or disappear, new ones spring up overnight and the financial sector is (or was until recently) in the driving seat. He rightly dismisses many of the popular scapegoats – or heroes – of the process. The changeover began well before Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher could influence anything. Free-market economists have been preaching essentially the same message since the 18th century. It is extremely unlikely that there has been a radical change in the psychology or morality of business operators. His own candidate is the technologies that have empowered consumers and investors to get ever better deals.

Unfortunately, many of these same consumers have lost in their capacity as citizens. He cites the failure of the political process even to attempt to correct the increasing skewness of US income distribution. In later pronouncements he has attributed the subprime loan disaster in part to the failure of supercapitalism to raise the incomes of the mass of wage earners who have been impelled to resort to borrowing as a substitute. Moreover, Congress has performed abysmally in correcting market failures in environmental and other areas. He has a non-partisan explanation: the staggering increase in business lobbying expenditures affecting Democrats as well as Republicans, as a result of which the political process, far from correcting the distortions of unbridled capitalism, has made them worse.

But for me the novel point of the book is his utter dismissal of the prevailing idea of appealing to the "social responsibility" of business to improve matters. This is a notion that particularly appeals to soft centre politicians such as David Cameron's Conservatives in Britain as a new kind of Third Way. Reich argues that it is the job of the democratic political process by laws, taxes and other interventions to harmonise the pursuit of money-making with the public good. "The job of the businessman is to make profits." He is completely unabashed by the charge that he sounds like Milton Friedman and indeed quotes the late Chicago professor approvingly several times. He argues that the so-called stakeholders who insist on being consulted before legislation is drafted are increasingly companies whose interests might be affected. One result is the "corruption of knowledge". We should beware of claims that a company is doing something for the public good. Corporate executives may donate some of their shareholders' money to a genuinely good cause or forbear from polluting the atmosphere to forestall a greater legal or fiscal burden. But in that case such actions are likely to be limited and temporary, "extending only insofar as the conditions that made such voluntary action pay off continue".

Similarly we should beware of a politician who blames a company for doing something that is legal. Such words are all too often a cover "for taking no action to change the rules of the game". Above all, "corporations are not people. They are legal fictions, nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements ... A company cannot know right from wrong ... Only people know right from wrong and only people act." One example of the "anthropomorphic fallacy" is when companies are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of their executives. Not only are the genuinely guilty let off too lightly but many innocent people get hurt. For instance, "the vast majority of Andersen employees had nothing to do with Enron but lost their jobs nonetheless".

I have two reservations. One is that I cannot share Reich's confidence that a revived and effective "democracy" would be a cure-all. You only have to see where democratic pressures are driving US energy policy. Second, there is a danger that the Friedman-Reich position could inadvertently give sustenance to the "I was only doing my job" defence for evil actions. You do not have to hold shares in a company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or work for it. But do not deceive yourself that such individual gestures can be a substitute for a change in policy.

Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Hardcover)

According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, there was a time when capitalism and democracy where almost perfectly balanced. This was the period of 1945 to 1975, which he calls the "Not Quite Golden Age." During this period there was a three-way social contract among big business, big labor, and big government. Each made sure that they as well as the other two received a fair share of the pie. Unions recieved their wages and benefits, business their profits, and regulatory agencies had their power. It was also a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was the narrowest in our history. It was not quite the golden age because women and minorities were still second class citizens, but at least there was hope.

Fast forward to 2007, capitalism is thriving and democracy is sputtering. Why has capitlism become supercapitalism and democracy become enfeebled? Reich explains that it was a combination of things: deregulation, globe spanning computer networks, better transportation, etc. The changes were mainly a result of technological breakthroughs; unlike many leftists, he is not conspiratorial thinker. The winner of this great transformation was the consumer/investor and the loser was the citizen/wage earner. The consumer has more choices than ever before and at reasonable prices. The investor has unprecedented opportunities to make profits. The citzen, however, is not doing well. The average citizen does not have much voice - other than voting - in the body politic. And on the wage earner has been stagnating for many years. The most salient illustration of this trend is Walmart. Walmart delivers the goods at low prices, but the trade-off is low wages for their employees. We justify this dilemma, as Reich nicely puts it, because "The awkward truth is that most of us are of two minds."

As a left-leaning author, Reich makes some startling pronouncements. One, stop treating corporations as human beings. They are neither moral or immoral, they are merely "bundles of contracts." I couldn't agree more. Stop expecting corporations to be socially responsible, see them for what they are: profit-seeking organizations. Any socially responsible action is a ruse to bolster the bottom line anyway. Don't even encourage them to be socially responsible because it will wrongly lead us to believe that they are solving problems when they are not. Corporations play by the rules that they are given and it is up to citizens and their elected representatives to change the rules.

This is no easy task in the age of supercapitalism. There are currently 38,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC in a virtual arms race of spending with each other to buy favors from our so-called representatives. The only way citizens can compete with this is not by hiring more lobbyists but advocating through new media outlets such as the internet and cable tv. This, according to Reich, is currently to most effective way to make government more responsive.

The question that remains, after reading this book, is will consumers be willing to sacrifice their low prices to achieve their goals as citizens. If the answer is yes, we can possibly rebalance the equation between democracy and capitalism; if not, we are left to the not so tender mercies of supercapitalism.

Robert Reich makes a compelling argument that supercapitalism has robbed democracy of much of its power. Supercapitalism by the definition presented in the book is simple--the consumer is king and prices ALWAYS go down. What Reich looks at is the cost of low prices to companies, society, the individual and its impact on the workings of democracy. So how is democracy compromised? Reich also points out that the rise of different lobbying groups, the cost of politics and globalization as contributing to this process. This isn't a surprise. It has just become more pronounced with time.

It's not due to some large conspiracy or any hidden political agenda as much as it is driven by consumption. Ultimately Reich argues that it robs the common citizen of any control over democracy. It's not surprising that this is a highly charged issue because the economics of what benefits society (or "the common good" as Reich calls it)often gets tangled up in the web of politics. Reich also points out that the cost of supercompetitiveness, constantly falling prices is a loss to the economic and social health of America. Reich points out that everyone wants to get the lowest price possible but he also suggests that we must balance that with our desire to have decent wages and benefits. He also points out that the move towards regulation was initiated by government and that corporations went along because it kept out competition and guaranteed a top and bottom for prices allowing companies to get a profit without fear of cutting prices so low that it would put them out of business.

I should point out that this is an oversimplification of Reich's points but it does capture some of the concepts. He also makes some suggestions that would help keep the free market afloat without undermining democracy and allowing consumers to still benefit from competitive pricing. Since this is economics we are discussing politics is mixed in and might color whether or not you agree with his points.

Reich's style is breezy for a book that looks at economics, democracy and the erosion of wages, benefits. Reich comes across as fair balanced and thoughtful even as he sells his take on what is undermining American society. Ultimately it's a worthwhile book to read simply because it opens up dialogue on the social cost of constantly lowering prices and how it impacts those who live next door to us

Aftershock The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

Every middle class American should read this book. Many observations about income disparities have been written up lately but Reich pulls the important points together in a powerful and accessible way.

Reich's main thesis is that the current transition the US economy is under is misunderstood. Many of the policy elite (Geithner, Volcker) have repeated the familiar claim that Americans are living beyond their means. Personally I don't discount that completely but Reich's insight goes much deeper and rings truer:

"The problem was not that American spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them."

"We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it. ... Until this transformation is made, our economy will continue to experience phantom recoveries and speculative bubbles, each more distressing than the one before."

Anyone looking at the unemployment data since WWII has to wonder why the unemployment component of the last three recessions is so prolonged. Instead of a sharp trend up, there are long slopes of delayed returns to peak employment. (Google "calculated risk blog" and look at Dec. 2010 articles.) I believe Reich has demonstrated the main culprit this. To be clear, he is not describing the detailed mechanics of what triggered the Great Recession. (Nouriel Roubini has a good book that I would recommend for more on the financial fraud, leverage and credit risks involved - Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. ) But Reich is taking a long term view and exposes a dysfunctional trait of the US economy that no one can afford to ignore. It is this weakness that will delay the current recovery and continue to create greater risks in the future.

Reich draws the parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, particularly the imbalance of wealth concentrated in fewer hands and middle class workers with less income to convert into consumer demand. One of the fascinating devices he found to do this was the writings of Marriner Eccles (Fed chair between '34 to '48):

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth - not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced - to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Reich also shares a couple of powerful and disturbing graphs that show how the middle class has been squeezed and also how since the late 70s, hourly wages have not only not kept up with the rise in productivity but have remained essentially flat.

Another driving theme Reich presents is the "basic bargain" and he evokes Henry Ford, the man that took mass production to new heights and paid his workers well:

"[Henry] Ford understood the basic economic bargain that lay at the heart of a modern, highly productive economy. Workers are also consumers. Their earnings are continuously recycled to buy the goods and services other workers produce. But if earnings are inadequate and this basic bargain is broken, an economy produces more goods and services than its people are capable of purchasing."

I was concerned early in the book that Reich would leave out some of the important complexities of the topic but he covered related finances, politics and even consumer/voter psychology in a succinct yet informative way. His summary of changes to the labor market in the last 30+ years was very good.

His ideas for correcting this were interesting if perhaps difficult to implement politically. My take away however was that this is a strong indicator of how bad he thinks the situation really is. Many Americans may be yearning to return to "normal". Reich is the first to thoroughly convince me that it is not going to happen.

This is a very quick read of 144 pages and is well worth the time.

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May's 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative piece, on the collusion between the US' "financial oligarchy" and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern-and thus win or lose-under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better-in a "buck stops somewhere else" sort of way-on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for "safety and soundness" were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies-lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership-had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector's profits-such as Brooksley Born's now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998-were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup's executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson's predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists-at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy's favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks' hands-indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical-since we'll want to sell the banks quickly-they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail-a financial weapon of mass self-destruction-explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine".

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government's capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, potentially corrupt, collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in this more modern form on neoliberalism.

The Great Deception

In 1998 Mark Curtis wrote The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era.

Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyzes what he refers to as a special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.

Trade for life

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People is a work published in 2001. It is a strong critique of the function of international organizations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyzes the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team.

The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by ChristianAid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.

Web of Deceit

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticizes the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyzes various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterizes as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorizes as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticizes the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He notably claims to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of millions of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.

Unpeople

In 2004, Mark Curtis published Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Among the declassified secret service reports, Curtis asserts that the United Kingdom had given aid to Saddam Hussein in 1963 in order that he rised to power in Iraq; he further posits that the Western Powers, notably the UK, performed various arms deals with the Iraqi government while the Iraqi government was involved in the brutal aggression against the Kurdish community. Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Idi Amin in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Mark Curtis estimates that approximately ten million deaths throughout the world since 1945 have been caused by the United Kingdom's foreign policy.

Alliance of transnational elites

From Amazon review of Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Chalmers Johnson

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

In other words, the US system in Asia is more complicated than Johnson conveys, and defending America's mythical "national interests" will never address its fundamental injustices.

While Johnson seems to have abundant sympathy for the people of Asia, his nationalist framework prevents his from proposing the only real challenge to American hegemony: a popular anti-imperialist movement that crosses the barriers of nation-states.

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that "Slav" became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav." Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North American, and Japanese imperial powers has been directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By the nineteenth century, they saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans. To say that we have entered the stage of capital export and investment is not to imply that the plunder of natural resources has ceased. If anything, the despoliation has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism circulating today in the United States, the dominant view is that it does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a legitimate concept, certainly not in regard to the United States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or "nineteenth-century British imperialism" but not of U.S. imperialism. A graduate student in political science at most universities in this country would not be granted the opportunity to research U.S. imperialism, on the grounds that such an undertaking would not be scholarly. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and Mongol empires all existed centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Emperors and conquistadors were interested mostly in plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation.A central imperative of capitalism is expansion. Investors will not put their money into business ventures unless they can extract more than they invest. Increased earnings come only with a growth in the enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches for ways of making more money in order to make still more money. One must always invest to realize profits, gathering as much strength as possible in the face of competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has little inclination to stay home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image." The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rainforest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages-when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most dramatic increase being in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and a dozen other countries. Such "multiple sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against each other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a necessary condition for capitalism, pointing out that most Western capital is invested in Western nations, not in the Third World. If corporations lost all their Third World investments, they argue, many of them could still survive on their European and North American markets. In response, one should note that capitalism might be able to survive without imperialism-but it shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no desire to discard its enormously profitable Third World enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary condition for investor survival but it seems to be an inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of advanced capitalism. Imperial relations may not be the only way to pursue profits, but they are the most lucrative way.Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is really not the question. Many things that are not absolutely necessary are still highly desirable, therefore strongly preferred and vigorously pursued. Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap labor, vital natural resources, and various other highly profitable conditions to be compellingly attractive. Superprofits may not be necessary for capitalism's survival but survival is not all that capitalists are interested in. Superprofits are strongly preferred to more modest earnings. That there may be no necessity between capitalism and imperialism does not mean there is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For instance, wealth does not necessarily have to lead to luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning class's riches could be used for investment rather personal consumption. The very wealthy could survive on more modest sums but that is not how most of them prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy classes generally have shown a preference for getting the best of everything. After all, the whole purpose of getting rich off other people's labor is to live well, avoiding all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying superior opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical care, education, travel, recreation, security, leisure, and opportunities for power and prestige. While none of these things are really "necessary," they are fervently clung to by those who possess them-as witnessed by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged classes whenever they feel the threat of an equalizing or leveling democratic force.

Myths of Underdevelopment

The impoverished lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are known to us as the "Third World," to distinguish them from the "First World" of industrialized Europe and North America and the now largely defunct "Second World" of communist states. Third World poverty, called "underdevelopment," is treated by most Western observers as an original historic condition. We are asked to believe that it always existed, that poor countries are poor because their lands have always been infertile or their people unproductive. In fact, the lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor-and it is because of the pillage they have endured.

The process of expropriating the natural resources of the Third World began centuries ago and continues to this day. First, the colonizers extracted gold, silver, furs, silks, and spices, then flax, hemp, timber, molasses, sugar, rum, rubber, tobacco, calico, cocoa, coffee, cotton, copper, coal, palm oil, tin, iron, ivory, ebony, and later on, oil, zinc, manganese, mercury, platinum, cobalt, bauxite, aluminum, and uranium. Not to be overlooked is that most hellish of all expropriations: the abduction of millions of human beings into slave labor.

Through the centuries of colonization, many self-serving imperialist theories have been spun. I was taught in school that people in tropical lands are slothful and do not work as hard as we denizens of the temperate zone. In fact, the inhabitants of warm climates have performed remarkably productive feats, building magnificent civilizations well before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And today they often work long, hard hours for meager sums. Yet the early stereotype of the "lazy native" is still with us. In every capitalist society, the poor-both domestic and overseas-regularly are blamed for their own condition.

We hear that Third World peoples are culturally retarded in their attitudes, customs, and technical abilities. It is a convenient notion embraced by those who want to depict Western investments as a rescue operation designed to help backward peoples help themselves. This myth of "cultural backwardness" goes back to ancient times, when conquerors used it to justify enslaving indigenous peoples. It was used by European colonizers over the last five centuries for the same purpose.

What cultural supremacy could by claimed by the Europeans of yore? From the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries Europe was "ahead" in a variety of things, such as the number of hangings, murders, and other violent crimes; instances of venereal disease, smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, plagues, and other bodily afflictions; social inequality and poverty (both urban and rural); mistreatment of women and children; and frequency of famines, slavery, prostitution, piracy, religious massacres, and inquisitional torture. Those who claim the West has been the most advanced civilization should keep such "achievements" in mind.

More seriously, we might note that Europe enjoyed a telling advantage in navigation and armaments. Muskets and cannon, Gatling guns and gunboats, and today missiles, helicopter gunships, and fighter bombers have been the deciding factors when West meets East and North meets South. Superior firepower, not superior culture, has brought the Europeans and Euro-North Americans to positions of supremacy that today are still maintained by force, though not by force alone.

It was said that colonized peoples were biologically backward and less evolved than their colonizers. Their "savagery" and "lower" level of cultural evolution were emblematic of their inferior genetic evolution. But were they culturally inferior? In many parts of what is now considered the Third World, people developed impressive skills in architecture, horticulture, crafts, hunting, fishing, midwifery, medicine, and other such things. Their social customs were often far more gracious and humane and less autocratic and repressive than anything found in Europe at that time. Of course we must not romanticize these indigenous societies, some of which had a number of cruel and unusual practices of their own. But generally, their peoples enjoyed healthier, happier lives, with more leisure time, than did most of Europe's inhabitants.

Other theories enjoy wide currency. We hear that Third World poverty is due to overpopulation, too many people having too many children to feed. Actually, over the last several centuries, many Third World lands have been less densely populated than certain parts of Europe. India has fewer people per acre-but more poverty-than Holland, Wales, England, Japan, Italy, and a few other industrial countries. Furthermore, it is the industrialized nations of the First World, not the poor ones of the Third, that devour some 80 percent of the world's resources and pose the greatest threat to the planet's ecology.

This is not to deny that overpopulation is a real problem for the planet's ecosphere. Limiting population growth in all nations would help the global environment but it would not solve the problems of the poor-because overpopulation in itself is not the cause of poverty but one of its effects. The poor tend to have large families because children are a source of family labor and income and a support during old age.

Frances Moore Lappe and Rachel Schurman found that of seventy Third World countries, there were six-China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Burma, and Cuba-and the state of Kerala in India that had managed to lower their birth rates by one third. They enjoyed neither dramatic industrial expansion nor high per capita incomes nor extensive family planning programs. The factors they had in common were public education and health care, a reduction of economic inequality, improvements in women's rights, food subsidies, and in some cases land reform. In other words, fertility rates were lowered not by capitalist investments and economic growth as such but by socio-economic betterment, even of a modest scale, accompanied by the emergence of women's rights.

Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of social relations that has been forcefully imposed on countries. With the advent of the Western colonizers, the peoples of the Third World were actually set back in their development sometimes for centuries. British imperialism in India provides an instructive example. In 1810, India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. By 1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India, a practice backed by British gunboats and military force. Within a matter of years, the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. In effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million pounds. From 1850 to 1900, its per capita income dropped by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the nineteenth century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. The massive poverty we associate with India was not that country's original historical condition. British imperialism did two things: first, it ended India's development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that country.

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the Third World. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. Some lands have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. However, most of the Third World is not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to the Irish, Frederick Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed politically and industrially. By consistent oppression they have been artificially converted into an utterly impoverished nation." So with most of the Third World. The Mayan Indians in Guatemala had a more nutritious and varied diet and better conditions of health in the early 16th century before the Europeans arrived than they have today. They had more craftspeople, architects, artisans, and horticulturists than today. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism's superexploitation. Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed "maldevelopment": modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now live in destitution in remote villages and congested urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and illiteracy, often because the land they once tilled is now controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for mining or for commercial export crops such as coffee, sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice, and corn for home consumption. A study of twenty of the poorest countries, compiled from official statistics, found that the number of people living in what is called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom destitution, the poorest of the poor, is rising 70,000 a day and should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the world to live nightmarish lives, their mental and physical health severely damaged by endless exploitation. A documentary film on the Discovery Channel (April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like Russia, Thailand, and the Philippines, large numbers of minors are sold into prostitution to help their desperate families survive. In countries like Mexico, India, Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into health-shattering, dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no opportunity for play, schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the work force. Tens of thousands labor in glass factories in temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant, four-year-olds toil from 5 o'clock in the morning until the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting emphysema, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia corporations have lobbied to drop age restrictions for labor recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a pursuit of evil.

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are implying that it is backward and retarded in some way, that its people have shown little capacity to achieve and evolve. The negative connotations of "underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasion to refer to Third World countries as "developing" nations, a term somewhat less insulting than "underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer to use "Third World" because "developing" seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it." It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by the imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.The dominant theory of the last half century, enunciated repeatedly by writers like Barbara Ward and W. W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United States and other parts of the Western world, maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the North to help uplift the "backward" nations of the South, bringing them technology and teaching them proper work habits. This is an updated version of "the White man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the introduction of Western investments, the backward economic sectors of the poor nations will release their workers, who then will find more productive employment in the modern sector at higher wages. As capital accumulates, business will reinvest its profits, thus creating still more products, jobs, buying power, and markets. Eventually a more prosperous economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization theory," as it is sometimes called, bears little relation to reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an intensely exploitive form of dependent capitalism. Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world's people.

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as arising from an innate desire for domination and expansion, a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial imperialism is no longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the European powers carved up the world among themselves, today there is almost no colonial dominion left. Colonel Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by men in business suits. Rather than being directly colonized by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty-while Western finance capital retains control of the lion's share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: "informal empire," "colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism," and "neoimperialism. "U.S. political and business leaders were among the earliest practitioners of this new kind of empire, most notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth century. Having forcibly wrested the island from Spain in the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its formal independence. The Cubans now had their own government, constitution, flag, currency, and security force. But major foreign policy decisions remained in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth, including its sugar, tobacco, and tourist industries, and major imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been less interested in acquiring more colonies than in acquiring more wealth, preferring to make off with the treasure of other nations without bothering to own and administer the nations themselves. Under neoimperialism, the flag stays home, while the dollar goes everywhere - frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain and France adopted a strategy of neoimperialism. Left financially depleted by years of warfare, and facing intensified popular resistance from within the Third World itself, they reluctantly decided that indirect economic hegemony was less costly and politically more expedient than outright colonial rule. They discovered that the removal of a conspicuously intrusive colonial rule made it more difficult for nationalist elements within the previously colonized countries to mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be far from completely independent, it usually enjoyed more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a colonial administration controlled by the imperial power. Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native government takes up the costs of administering the country while the imperialist interests are free to concentrate on accumulating capital-which is all they really want to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World country finds it extremely difficult to extricate itself from the unequal relationship with its former colonizer and impossible to depart from the global capitalist sphere. Those countries that try to make a break are subjected to punishing economic and military treatment by one or another major power, nowadays usually the United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries' ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression. Still, neoimperialism carries risks. The achievement of de jure independence eventually fosters expectations of de facto independence. The forms of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of self rule. Sometimes a national leader emerges who is a patriot and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator. Therefore, the changeover from colonialism to neocolonialism is not without risks for the imperialists and represents a net gain for popular forces in the world.

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation's leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/


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[Apr 05, 2020] More like intel agency ass covering or gross incompetancy of Trump administration?

Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 2 2020 16:32 utc | 8

Philip Giraldi knows who to blame:
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/04/02/another-expensive-war-another-intelligence-failure/

"...the intelligence agencies were warning about information derived from medical sources in China that suggested viruses were developing that might become a pandemic, but the politicians, most particularly those in the White House, chose to take no action. He writes that " the Trump administration has cumulatively failed, both in taking seriously the specific, repeated intelligence community warnings about a coronavirus outbreak and in vigorously pursuing the nationwide response initiatives commensurate with the predicted threat. The federal government alone has the resources and authorities to lead the relevant public and private stakeholders to confront the foreseeable harms posed by the virus. Unfortunately, Trump officials made a series of judgments (minimizing the hazards of COVID-19) and decisions (refusing to act with the urgency required) that have needlessly made Americans far less safe."


"The article cites evidence that the intelligence community was collecting disturbing information on possibly developing pathogens in China and was, as early as January, preparing analytical reports that detailed just what was happening while also providing insights into how devastating the global proliferation of a highly contagious and potential lethal virus might be. One might say that the intel guys called it right, but were ignored by the White House, which, per Zenko, acted with "unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence...."

c1ue , Apr 2 2020 18:32 utc | 36

@bevin #8
In January? Really? Seems like the highly paid and budgeted intelligence agencies should be able to do a better job of predicting the nCOV threat before China instituted a shutdown on January 23 due to its view that nCOV was a problem.

Frankly, seems more like intel agency ass covering than anything else.

[Apr 04, 2020] It doesn't seem to matter how much the US hoses the EU they'll still fall in lockstep when Trump says "jump"

Apr 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tobi , Apr 4 2020 0:26 utc | 103

Posted by: Likklemore | 94

It doesn't seem to matter how much the US hoses the EU they'll still fall in lockstep when Trump says "jump".

Russian declaration aimed at stopping sanctions amid coronavirus crisis REJECTED at UN General Assembly

A User , Apr 4 2020 1:22 utc | 108

I realise few will since amerikans are 100% exceptionalist right up to their last breath but please read the best article by far on masks & respirators cleaning issues esp such ones as 'steam' cleaning are on this link I posted earlier.

It is written by Dr John Campbell who has been writing on this virus for several months. My brother the retired journo recommended him to me in early February, so naturally I have been assiduous in ignoring the bloke for that reason, combined with the fact Campbell is an englander, but he has put together an excellent piece on masks & respirators, one which uses y'know those pesky fact things to support his statements about assorted items efficacy, longevity and ability to be cleaned. With respirators 95% & above he recommends having several and rotating them so that they cop 4-5 days down time which should be enough time for the virus to kark it of its own accord.

I don't believe for a moment that will stop the continual spouting of uninformed claptrap, but I tried.

[Mar 30, 2020] Pompeo as a sign of more serious problem with the US military

Mar 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bemildred , Mar 29 2020 18:13 utc | 23

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 29 2020 17:09 utc | 13

I think you have the main danger (some nitwit using a "small nuke") to try to make a point about right.

Other than that, the impression I get from Pompeo and his ilk is that the main thing is having someone to threaten and abuse to show "leadership" and "manhood", at least one shitty little country we can still throw up against the wall and slap around to show we mean business. Dangerous times for Nicaragua.

Neither he nor his other West Point friends seems to have much clue about military affairs either, which is strange. I mean we've always had our George Armstrong Custers, but they didn't run things. Now they seem to have some sort of cult mentality. One is reminded of the French before WWI: "De L'audace, Encore De L'audace, Et Toujours De L'audace ..." and we know how that worked out.

[Mar 29, 2020] United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a slip of the tongue while addressing the American people from the White House when he stated that COVID-19 is a live military exercise.

Mar 29, 2020 | twitter.com

"This is not about retribution," Pompeo explained. "This matter is going forward -- we are in a live exercise here to get this right."

@realDonaldTrump is mad that the deep state took control through Continuity of Government, there has been a coup? pic.twitter.com/GcrjNNvVsc #Covid_19 #CoronavirusPandemic #MartialLaw

-- Shepard Ambellas (@ShepardAmbellas) March 21, 2020

With a disgusted look on his face, President Trump replied: "You should have let us know."

Military Exercise meaning (from Wikipedia): "A military exercise or war game is the employment of military resources in training for military operations, either exploring the effects of warfare or testing strategies without actual combat. This also serves the purpose of ensuring the combat readiness of garrisoned or deployable forces prior to deployment from a home base."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3Qscuw_3aUk

What is actually going on here? Does the White House care to explain?

*Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Gage Skidmore CC BY 2.0

[Mar 29, 2020] The essence of Trump's psychology is that he likes to dominate people. He accomplishes this by hiring incompetent psychopaths

Mar 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Timothy Hagios , Mar 28 2020 18:14 utc | 44

The essence of Trump's psychology is that he likes to dominate people. He accomplishes this by hiring incompetent psychopaths who make him legitimately look good by comparison. This is why he's constantly overruling their worst plans. But once every so often, his incompetent underlings convince him to do something exceptionally stupid. This is because occasionally going along with them allows him to feel like a wise, discerning ruler who occasionally follows his advisors' guidance and occasionally overrules them.

[Mar 27, 2020] Now's the Time to Become a Truly 'America First' Military by Doug Bandow

Mar 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

12:01 am

Congress is preparing to vote to spend trillions of dollars Washington doesn't have to keep afloat an economy staggering under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Even before Uncle Sam was hopelessly overdrawn, expecting to run an annual trillion dollar deficit well into the future.

Yet the bipartisan war lobby continues to promote confrontation and conflict with nations as diverse as Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and China. Even in good economic times it was increasingly difficult to underwrite Washington's attempt to run the world. Today the effort is pure folly.

Last year the Congressional Budget Office published The 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook . Among the conclusions of this profoundly depressing read:

Uncle Sam's fiscal collapse has been swift. Noted CBO, at the end of 2007 federal debt was but 35 percent of GDP (not counting intra-government borrowing tied to Social Security). However, "By the end of 2012, debt as a share of GDP had doubled, reaching 70 percent. The upward trajectory has generally continued since then, and debt is projected to be 78 percent of GDP by the end of this year -- a very high level by historical standards." The average over the last half century was just 42 percent.

Washington's spendthrift ways when economic growth was strong make more difficult responding to the latest economic crisis. The long-term prognosis is dismal. The better case, suggested CBO, was to "Increase the likelihood of less abrupt, but still significant, negative economic and financial effects, such as expectations of higher rates of inflation and more difficulty financing public and private activity to international markets."

Worse, however, federal improvidence could "Increase the risk of a fiscal crisis -- that is, a situation in which the interest rate on federal debt rises abruptly because investors have lost confidence in the U.S. government's fiscal position." That is increasingly likely. Already, figures economic Laurence Kotlikoff at Boston University, the federal government has unfunded liabilities, or a "fiscal gap," of $239 trillion -- promises made with no money to meet them.

There is no easy solution. Revenues already are projected to rise as a share of GDP and above the average over the last half century. Washington is spending ever faster than it is taxing.

To cut, presidents and Congresses typically focus on domestic discretionary spending, but that only makes up about 15 percent of federal outlays. Eliminate it -- stop paying federal employees, close the Washington monument, end all federal grants, and slash everything else -- the deficit remains. Five program areas make up the rest of the budget: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest, and the military.

America's growing elderly population is unlikely to sacrifice benefits seniors believe they have paid for. There is no cheap way to fund health care for the poor. Only repudiating the national debt can lower interest payments by fiat. Draconian cuts are unlikely in any let alone all of them.

Which leaves military outlays. Much of current spending has nothing to do with "defense." Today America is constantly at war, but usually to attack rather than defend. Even when "defense" is theoretically the objective, Washington is protecting other nations, mostly prosperous, populous allies, rather than the U.S.

The result is extraordinarily high expenditures, since it costs far more to project power to the far reaches of the globe than to prevent other nations from harming America. Indeed, the Pentagon budget should be seen as the price of Washington's highly interventionist foreign policy, which sees every other nations' problems as America's own.

Last year the president requested $718 billion for the military in 2020, a two percent real, inflation-adjusted increase. Although the administration projected no real rise through 2024, the real growth rate between 2017 and 2020 had been 3.5 percent. Moreover, observed CBO, "the cost of DOD's plans would increase by 13 percent from 2024 to 2034, after adjusting for inflation." Based on historical experience, the agency figured that actual spending likely "could be about two higher than DOD estimates and about four percent higher from 2020 to 2034."

That likely is the floor. The bipartisan war lobby is constantly pushing to do and spend more. In 2018 the congressionally mandated National Defense Strategy Commission urged real increases of between three and five percent annually. Reported CBO, the consequences of such a hike, "starting from the 2017 budget request, would result in a defense budget of between $822 billion and $958 billion (in 2020 dollars) by 2025, and between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion (in 2020 dollars) by 2034."

For what would this cash tsunami be used?

The Constitution sets the "common defense" as a core federal responsibility. That actually is rather easy today. The U.S. is geographically secure, with large oceans east and west and weak, peaceful neighbors south and north.

The only other state with an equal nuclear force capable of destroying America is Russia, which has no reason to do so and a good reason not to, since it would be destroyed in response. No hostile power might is going to dominate Eurasia. Moscow can't. Anyway, its security objectives appear to be much more mundane, ensuring that the West takes its interests into account. Europe can't and couldn't imagine doing so.

Which leaves the People's Republic of China. It might become America's military peer, but even then it won't be able to conquer or cow nuclear-armed Russia or more distant, economically advanced Europe. Beijing's Asian neighbors are well able to deter aggression, especially if, someday, they develop nuclear weapons. China's "threat" to the U.S., if it should be called that, is that the PRC might gain the sort of dominant influence in its neighborhood that America enjoys in the Western hemisphere. Discomfiting for Washington, yes. Existential threat to the U.S., no. And probably not worth fighting a largescale conventional and possibly nuclear war over.

The Middle East has lost its strategic significance as the oil market has diversified. Israel is able to deter attack, eliminating a heretofore major political issue in Washington. Africa holds economic promise and raises humanitarian concerns, but rests at the bottom of America's security list. Latin America will always gain U.S. attention but little that happens there will matter much to North America's global colossus.

Yet the supposedly isolationist-leaning Trump administration is anything but. The U.S. recently verged on war with Iran as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other administration hawks pushed to retaliate against Tehran for attacks by pro-Iran militias in Iraq, which Washington continues to occupy. The U.S. underwrites Saudi Arabia's brutal, aggressive war against Yemen and has sent troops to act as the royal family's bodyguards against Iran. The U.S. has steadily increased its force presence and fiscal outlays to confront Russia in Europe.

Despite his professed desire to leave Syria, the president ordered the illegal occupation of Syrian oil fields; his officials hope to use that presence to confront the Damascus government as well as Iran and Russia. This week Pompeo flew to Afghanistan to revive a "peace" agreement that, after nearly two decades of combat, can be effectively enforced only with a continued U.S. military presence.

Under congressional pressure, the administration has temporized over Pentagon proposals to withdraw forces from numerous conflicts across Africa. Venezuela remains in crisis but in opposition to America, with military intervention oft proposed as the remedy. Before talking with North Korea the president threatened "fire and fury." The administration is taking an increasingly hard line against China, raising military as well as economic and diplomatic tensions.

Required is a truly America First defense. The U.S. should focus on preventing hostile threats to this hemisphere, while being ready to sustain critical allies if they face threats from hegemonic powers potentially dangerous to America. Washington has other interests, but advancing them normally would be matters of choice, rarely, if ever, warranting military action.

Washington would reduce its force structure and military outlays accordingly. The biggest cuts would be made in the army, while placing greater emphasis on the Reserves. The U.S. would become something much closer to a "normal country."

Today America is following an imperial policy without an empire's resources. Alas, the federal government is essentially bankrupt, facing nothing but red ink in coming years and decades. Ultimately domestic outlays must be curbed. But military spending which does not advance the "common defense" also should be slashed. The U.S. no longer can afford to play-act as global gendarme.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .


Amicus Brevis 2 days ago • edited

Even before Uncle Sam was hopelessly overdrawn, expecting to run an annual trillion dollar deficit well into the future.

Donald Trump has been mimicking the Reagan economic policy of "borrow and spend"
Now we are faced with another crash and we have no choice - but we never paid off any of the debt or closed the budget deficit. I cannot imagine that anyone believes that "Borrow when things are good and borrow more when they are bad!", is sustainable.

Gutbomb Amicus Brevis a day ago • edited
Yes. That has been the economic elephant in the room for decades, especially in the last twenty years. With every crisis we are less prepared to spend our way out of it than the last time. We were in a smoking hot economy with a mature bull market and yet running higher deficits than ever (with continuously low interest rates), while essentially ignoring our core problems at home (infrastructure, health care) and spending shocking amounts of money in wars that do us no good. Now things are exponentially worse. It's inexcusable. Every bit of it.
Amicus Brevis Gutbomb a day ago
Yes, the wars and continual low level conflicts represent the absolute worst of our irresponsible spending. In my view, that is indisputable and therefore ripe for calling out as you do. And not even the hyper-partisans of either side can find a flaw in your argument. I would just like to add that the contribution of low level conflicts to the problem is greatly underrated. They amount to trillions over decades.
Feral Finster Gutbomb a day ago
Notice how the crises seem to be happening more and more frequently, even though the emergency measures from the last crisis never get fully phased out? What are we on now, QE 4.0 or is it 5.0?
Gutbomb Feral Finster a day ago
Two trillion here, three trillion there. The numbers stop meaning anything, especially since we're putting the debt on the national credit card and our children and grandchildren will be the ones to suffer under its weight, while we carry on unawares. This ruse can continue until the creditors turn off the spigot. By then, I suppose our elites will have wired out their cash, packed up their things, and schlepped off to foreign lands leaving the dehydrated shell of this nation behind.
Feral Finster Amicus Brevis a day ago
Keynesian "save during good times to spend during bad times" actually makes sense, if you have a treasury with the discipline to stick to it.

After all, we already have socialism in the United States right now. Just it's socialism for the rich.

Astral Traveller a day ago
1 trillion for "shovel ready" and now 2.5 trillion for the horrible COV19 infection at the Kennedy center and NPR. What's to worry about?
kalendjay Astral Traveller a day ago
These fat college endowments, which do nothing to reduce tuition or increase admissions, they can't pay for Kennedy Center?
Tom Sadlowski a day ago • edited
Taxes? No where in the article does it recommend the obvious: return to the prior rate of taxation that existed even two decades ago, let alone three or four. Perhaps having Amazon pay taxes would be a step in the right direction? Then, mandating that all employers have to pay for health insurance and benefits for their employees, rather than skirting the issue by limiting their hours (Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, McDonalds, CVS, etc), while raising the minimum hourly wage to a level where a family could live off of. Add in taxing the wealthy back to prior levels, and restoring the inheritance tax. Put a cap on executive pay and benefits. Restrict stock market selling, eliminating short selling and other modern inventions which creates a more volatile market, as well as companies grossly manipulated and over-valued. Then stop socializing risks, and privatizing profits; either choose true socialism or true capitalism, or perhaps inverse the concerns for once. Stop letting private companies mine American assets for their private profit. Support small businesses as the foundation of our economy, which will instill innovation. Eliminate incentives to private companies without any return (NY state gave Tesla over $1 Billion to build a largely automated factory, where is the incentive for the state?). -- The root of this issue requires transformative change, with a paradigm shift of how American culture conducts itself. What nation do we wish to be?
Feral Finster Tom Sadlowski a day ago
but but but making companies pay taxes is communism! /sarc/
Feral Finster a day ago
Look at government debt as a percentage of GDP and US trade deficits from 2008-2020.

That's the "amazing Obama recovery!" (for Team D cultists) and the "Astounding Trump economy!" (for Team R cultists) right there.

Rkramden66 Feral Finster a day ago
Why begin at 2008? let's look at 2000-2020. Afghan and Iraq wars plus the Great Big Cheney Tax Cuts and the Cheney TARP bailout were significant contributors. Got the ball rolling, as it were.

Obama was a big disappointment to me, especially with how quickly he folded to the MIC, but standing next to Bush/Cheney and Trump, he was a pillar of financial and personal rectitude, IMO. At least he occasionally addressed average Americans as though he thought some of us might be adults,

Now, standing expectantly in line, we see Joe Biden. It is enough to make me want to drink heavily, or worse...

Feral Finster Rkramden66 a day ago
No argument there regarding economics. For that matter, we could go back to 1980 if you like. Or even 1965, when LBJ started running bigger deficits to pay for the War on Vietnam and The Great Society simultaneously.

I chose 2008 because that was when the purported Great Recovery began, and because the recovery accelerated the trends we have been seeing since before I was born, throwing them into even sharper relief.

Feral Finster Rkramden66 a day ago
Found on internet:

"I remember when the dems had control of the house, senate, and presidency under Obama. I remember Obama choosing to fill his cabinet with people not tied in with wall street. I remember how hard dems fought to get single payer health care and to protect SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and workers' rights. I remember how they bailed out the people first and then gave a little help to wall street. I remember how Obama saved 10 million families from foreclosure and losing their homes and kept small businesses afloat with interest-free loans. I remember how Obama and Biden put on their comfortable shoes and walked the picket lines with the teachers in Wisconsin. I remember how obama's justice dept. prosecuted the wall street gang responsible for the great recession. I remember how Obama protected whistleblowers like Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning. I remember that when democrats ran into obstruction by the republicans, they stood firm on their principles and fought for the american people. {{{alarm clock}}} Wait, what? (wipes eyes) I had a dream ."

https://www.nakedcapitalism...

Rkramden66 Feral Finster 20 hours ago • edited
Well, I guess that counts as one person's opinion, doesn't it? But is it supposed to prove something?

I'm sure I could find plenty of unsympathetic interpretations of Obama, if I took a few hours to do it. Lord knows I've read many, and I even said he was a disappointment to me. I'm not even going to comb the internet to prove or disprove any, let alone all, of those loaded assertions from that website.

Sure, it was very telling that they didn't jail any of the Wall Street bandits.But I must say, "...walked the picket lines with the teachers in Wisconsin..." is really a howler. Jesus Christ, what president ever would have done anything like that?! Plus that was in 2011. i don't know who nakedcapitalism.com is, but that point would get laughed out of a junior high school debate. I have no doubt, though, that the writer really hates Obama.

If you're trying to intimate that both parties are the same as to sharing an overwhelming commitment to global capitalism and the primacy of the military-indiustrial complex as a vehicle for world hegemony, then I agree with you. If you're making the point that Obama was the same breed of cat as Bush/Cheney and Trump, I'm sorry, but I must demur.

Those guys are provable, life-long hustlers, scumbags and underachievers. Obama was a wide-eyed, idealistic (relatively) guy who found out that winning an election didn't really make him all that powerful.

If the Obama presidency changed my mind about anything, it was that. That is, at this point, changing the power structure is beyond the reach of any president. It's a big system, made up of gangs of very powerful people, many of whose names we don't even know. We're not going to get out of this until the whole system crashes, which could happen sooner, than anyone thinks.

This pandemic has shown that no one in the world cares what the U,S. does or thinks anymore. No one looks to us for "leadership." That's an enormous change from just a few short years ago, in my opinion...and that's all it is...my opinion.

Tecumseh1768 Rkramden66 9 hours ago
The difference between Obama and Bush is Barry didn't come up on the WASP country club circuit. Still, the closest he ever came to real work was his time spent slacking at Baskin Robbins.
Feral Finster Rkramden66 5 hours ago
1. It was Obama that claimed that he'd put on his comfortable shoes and walk that picket line. Foolish to take him seriously.

2. Nobody is arguing in favor of Bush/Cheney here. Nor is anyone suggesting that Trump is a paragon of leadership. He simply says the quiet parts out loud.

Although, considering the evils that US leadership has wrought since 1991 or so, Team R and Team D, the world could do with a little less such "leadership".

Feral Finster Rkramden66 5 hours ago
BTW, contrary to the "poor little Obama" narrative, he fought hard for the things he actually wanted.

Like the renewal and extension of the "Patriot Act". There was something of a rebellion in Congress until the administration snuffed that one out.

Kent a day ago
Sorry Mr. Bandow. Conservatives can't play the "deficits bad" card anymore. That ship sailed with Reagan.
Gutbomb Kent a day ago
So anybody that self-identifies (or is otherwise identified) as a conservative can't argue for financial and fiscal responsibility? Let's put our impulse to label things "conservative" or "liberal" in the dust bin.
Rkramden66 a day ago
Dream on. Military, intelligence and domestic police budgets will be the last to go.
Disqus10021 a day ago
When Bill Clinton left the White House, the Federal government was actually running a small annual surplus (at least by government accounting standards). For a very short time, economists wondered how the Fed would conduct monetary policy if all of the Treasury debt were retired in the coming decade. They need not have worried. Bush 43 reversed that fiscal improvement with his tax cuts and his very expensive Middle East wars. Even before the coronavirus pushed the presidential race off of the front page of newspapers and web sites, the country was wallowing in debt. The latest crisis will make matters that much worse.
We need to stop thinking of ourselves as exceptional and we certainly cannot afford to continue playing the role of policeman of the world. Westchester County, NY which is home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, now has more virus cases than all of Canada, with the former's population being only about 1/35th of our northern neighbor. The county's property taxes are among the highest in the country. I don't know how New York state will cope with this fiscal disaster without driving out even more businesses and high income residents.
kalendjay Disqus10021 a day ago
This state among others will face a fiscal crisis no later than 2022 and will reorganize at the point of a gun, because it does not have enough cred in DC to get a bailout, and its establishment is now viewed as a barrier to any reform.
kouroi a day ago
Change the name of DoD to the Department of War. There is nothing defensive in DoD and in US general Foreign policy. The National Security issue that drives US Foreign Policy is to be the No 1 and the Hegemon and extract obedience and profits from every other economy of the world. Just a protection racket that Russians, Chinese, Iranians, etc. do not want to pay.
Osse a day ago
I don't agree with Cato guys on economics, but on foreign policy they are usually dead right from what I have seen. Defending our country does not mean engaging in endless destructive and failing interventions overseas.

And I hope everyone realizes at this point that we can't even agree on how to run our own country, so why would anyone think we could successfully remake another very different society even if we had the right to do so?

Not that I think our intentions are actually all that noble. But even if they were, there is no reason to trust our competence.

Barry_D a day ago
Yup, people are expecting Trump to lose in November, and laying that groundwork for the 'Dems must cut the deficit above all else' phase of the cycle.
Feral Finster a day ago
End the stupid wars? America First®?

Don't make me laff. The virus is a great distraction while the administration ramps up the stupid wars.

john anderson a day ago
Sound advice but there is a powerful propaganda machine screaming over the top of you. Strange thing is that many voters will agree with the idea of reeling in military adventurism until they get a dose of spin about the next adventure in 'protecting our freedoms'. One problem is that both America First and the idea of being the worlds policeman have been anointed with the red white and blue. Also agree with Tom Sadlowski!
Doug Wallis a day ago
I do agree that the US no longer has the money for the vast network of military bases all over the world nor do we have the money for endless fruitless proxy wars for (so called) allies. The US must focus strategically on what areas of the world we have a real interest, we have real allies and where we have real threats. Trump has already started to draw that map with his trade deals but even Trump can be swayed by the neocons and the lobbyists and the military industrial complex...and where Trump cannot be swayed the Congress and Senate can!

However the US must also face the cold hard fact that even a prudent examination of our defense and homeland security spending will not make much of a dent in our deficits. THE US MUST TACKLE LYNDON BAYNES JOHNSON'S GREAT SOCIETY AND THAT INCLUDES THE 1965 IMMIGRATION ACT. I STRONGLY OPPOSE AN ACROSS THE BOARD CUT IS SOCIAL SECURITY OR DISABILITY OR MEDICARE BENEFITS BECAUSE IT IS NOT FAIR FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE PAID INTO THE SYSTEM THEIR ENTIRE LIVES TO BE RATIONED BENEFITS BECAUSE THE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN STUFFED TO THE GILLS WITH IMMIGRANTS. THESE PROGRAMS NEED TO BE PAIRED BACK TO COVER WHAT THEY WERE INTENDED TO COVER AND NOT EVERY IMMIGRANT WHO MANAGED TO GET CITIZENSHIP. FURTHER IMMIGRATION LOTTERY, E1B, H1B VISAS FOR EDUCATION AND WORK, REFUGEE, ASYLUM, BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP, ETC AND ALL THE GOVT PROGRAMS FROM WELFARE TO FOOD STAMPS TO MEDICAID NEED TO BE ELIMINATED. THE US WILL NEVER TACKLE ENTITLEMENT REFORM WITHOUT STANDING UP TO THE BUSINESS LOBBY THAT WANTS CHEAP IMMIGRANT FOREIGN LABOR. ONE WAY THE US COULD STAND UP TO THE BUSINESS LOBBY IS TO TAX EACH EMPLOYER OF A FOREIGN WORKER $100,000 FOR THE COST OF IMMIGRANT SOCIAL SERVICES.

THE SAME SHOULD BE SAID FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, GOVT GUARANTEED STUDENT LOANS AND GRANTS WHICH INDENTURE STUDENTS WITH WORTHLESS GARBAGE DEGREES WHILE ENRICHING COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. ITS THESE WORTHLESS GARBAGE DEGREES THAT ARE CREATING THE STUDENT FINANCIAL LOAN CRISIS AND JOBLESS RADICAL ANTI-AMERICAN ANARCHISTS.

kalendjay a day ago
Trade with China only feeds Maoist militarists, and fuels the arms race. And who supplies Xi with submarines, jet engines and space technology? Why Putin of course. Ending his oil stranglehold would be the most positive short term measure I could think of to reduce the MIC.
Rossbach 20 hours ago
Maybe we should change our national motto from "E pluribus unum" to "Après moi le déluge".
joeo 8 hours ago
What might help is lifting the cap on FICA contributions and limiting tax exempt status to truly religious activities. No more "religious" theme parks. This would mean Liberal and Conservatives would see the value of limiting government expenditures since all would be paying taxes.
Personan0ngrata 7 hours ago
Five program areas make up the rest of the budget: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest, and the military.

America's growing elderly population is unlikely to sacrifice benefits seniors believe they have paid for.

Side note:

Americans pay for these programs with a direct tax on their labor/earnings.

Social security taxes are 6.2% from employee earnings with a matching 6.2% from employer.

Medicare taxes are 1.45% from employee earnings with a matching 1.45% from employer.

https://www.thebalancesmb.c...

These programs are not gifts nor entitlements from the US government. They are the fruits of a persons lifetime of labor which are extracted via threats of implied coercion without the ability for a person to say no thank you and opt-out.

Disqus10021 Personan0ngrata 6 hours ago
A lot of people paid little or nothing in FICA taxes, especially stay at home spouses whether they had children or not. Single people are also subject to Medicare premium surcharges and the Obamacare tax on investment income at much lower income levels than married couple filing a joint return.
peter mcloughlin 7 hours ago
Russia insists the "West takes its interests into account". And a power ignores the core interests of an opponent at its own peril. Removing existential threat – or the conditions that might lead to it – is the ultimate aim of any state: but history warns that foreign policy can create the very dénouement the nation is aiming to avoid.
https://www.ghostsofhistory...

[Mar 26, 2020] Pompeo is on record having said that our government "lies, cheats, and steals" in order to accomplish its anti-Christian objectives.

Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sokrates , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 11:54 am GMT

@37 Yesterday I went to Home Depot to buy some water tubing for my ice-maker.

I noticed all doors were blocked with a tape, except one with at least 25 people waiting to get in and a female employee holding a sign "the line starts here".

I ask the lady what was all about and she said because of the virus etc.

I said to her "You must be kidding" and I start going back to my car.

Some old lady from the line waiting to get in she scream to me something about "we protect ourselves" and similar nonsense.

I turn around and I said to her: Quit watching TV you idiot. They rob your money on broad daylight and send your kids to die fighting israels enemies.

RichardTaylor , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm GMT
The overreaction to the virus makes no sense. Is something being hidden from us? The freak out over this virus – to the tune of $trillions – is all out of proportion.

2.8 million Americans die every year. Why the obsession with this one virus which may kill in the thousands?

Something is off. But Trump should have known early if there was some other hidden danger. If there is some hidden suspicion by the people obsessing over this, please share it!

[Mar 26, 2020] The face of Trump in foreign policy is Pompeo and it is wicked, ungly face of a gangster

Yet another Gofgather
Notable quotes:
"... The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be . ..."
March 24, 2020 < Older
No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed Written by Tom Luongo Tuesday

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I've ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It's a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I'm well aware that Russia's crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on US capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the US is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we're supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I've actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the US Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they've achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo's best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq's future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a US asset through and through .

And this looks like Pompeo's Hail Mary to retain US legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of US troops from the country. Airstrikes against US bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of US base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq's official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of 'fighting Iranian terrorism.'

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the US is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan's disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar's latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be .

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the US government wouldn't do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by US hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China's government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo's divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn't my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It's clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump's administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the US. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the US will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation .


Related

[Mar 24, 2020] This weaponizing of random indignation is a classic tool of the Western propaganda

Highly recommended!
Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dacian Julien Soros , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 2:54 pm GMT

This weaponizing of random indignation is a classic tool of the Western propaganda. In Romania, we heard for a decade how the national-populists masquerading as socialists are to blame for the lack of highways. It's been a few years since idiot Romanians gather in random cities to complain that their city is not yet hooked to the Austro-Hungarian highway system, despite the lack of traffic between their city and Austro-Hungary.

It is my understanding that, once highway construction will start, there will be protests about natural or archeological treasures presumably endangered by the construction. It has been decently working in Russia, with that Khimki forest.

Anything that can be thrown at a government threatening to leave the NWO will be used. It's even worse for governments that are already one foot out, like Russia / China, or completely out, like Iran / North Korea. Putin will be blamed for epidemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, and even eclipses. If an earthquake would kill only a few, we will hear about "failure to respond". If the earthquake doesn't kill anybody. we will be told that Putin exploited it for propaganda.

One of the ways that CIA and Soros use, in order to weaponize Romania's presumed lack of highways, is to pay some useful idiots, who call themselves "The Association for the Betterment of Highways", "The Pro-Infrastructura Brigade", and so on. Most of these NGOs consist of a single person, who posts videos of them ranting next to a construction site. Using the model that BoJo used for the upcoming marriage (three men and one dog), the more Soros/CIA-resistant types call them "The One-Incel-And-His-Drone Association".

By that same standard, I suspect we call this Doctors' Alliance "Vasilievna-and-her-thermometer Association". Whatever she says about Moscow hospitals is probably informed by her thermometer anyway. I doubt you can tell how things are in a 10-million city, especially if you are a marginal clown.

Is she an ophthalmologist, like The Part-Time Virologist Martyr of Wuhan? Dentist, perhaps?

[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

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Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!


anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - A Tale of Two Foreign Policies The Train-Wreck Abroad Is Bipartisan by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did ..."
"... Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States. ..."
"... Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy. ..."
"... Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Now that the Democratic Party has apparently succeeded in getting rid of the only two voices among its presidential candidates that actually deviated from the establishment consensus, it appears that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump in November. To be sure, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are still hanging on, but the fix was in and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made sure that Sanders would be given the death blow on Super Tuesday while Gabbard would be blocked from participating in any of the late term debates.

It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did. Rumor has it that Klobuchar might well wind up as Biden's vice president. An alternative tale is that it was a much more threatening "offer that couldn't be refused" coming from the Clintons.

... ... ...

Both Trump and Biden might reasonably described as Zionists, Trump by virtue of the made-in-Israel foreign policy positions he has delivered on since his election, and Biden by word and deed during his entire time in politics. When Biden encountered Sarah Palin in 2008 in the vice-presidential debate, he and Palin sought to outdo each other in enthusing over how much they love the Jewish state. Biden has said that "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and also, ridiculously, "Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent one. We will never abandon Israel -- out of our own self-interest. [It] is the best $3 billion investment we make." Biden has been a regular feature speaker at the annual AIPAC summit in Washington.

Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States.

Trump similarly reversed himself on withdrawing from Syria when he ran into criticism of the move and his plan to extricate the United States from Afghanistan, if it develops at all, could easily be subjected to similar revision. Trump is not really the man who as a candidate indicated that he was seriously looking for a way out of America's endless and pointless wars, no matter what his supporters continue to assert.

Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy.

Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president.

And Biden's foreign policy reminiscences are is subject to what appear to be memory losses or inability to articulate, illustrated by a whole series of faux pas during the campaign. He has a number of times told a tale of his heroism in Afghanistan that is complete fiction , similar to Hillary Clinton's lying claims of courage under fire in Bosnia.

So, we have a president in place who takes foreign policy personally in that his first thoughts are "how does it make me look?" and a prospective challenger who appears to be suffering from initial stages of dementia and who has always been relied upon to support the establishment line, whatever it might be. Though Trump is the more dangerous of the two as he is both unpredictable and irrational, the likelihood is that Biden will be guided by the Clintons and Obamas. To put it another way, no matter who is president the likelihood that the United States will change direction to get away from its interventionism and bullying on a global scale is virtually nonexistent. At least until the money runs out. Or to express it as a friend of mine does, "No matter who is elected we Americans wind up getting John McCain." Goodnight America!

Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. A former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. " Source "

[Mar 21, 2020] When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply

Highly recommended!
Mar 22, 2020 | https://www.moonofalabama.org

Dick | Mar 22 2020 0:48 utc | 66

When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply. (repost):

  1. Avoid abstract ideas - appeal to the emotions. When we think emotionally, we are more prone to be irrational and less critical in our thinking. I can remember several instances where this has been employed by the US to prepare the public with a justification of their actions. Here are four examples:

    The Invasion of Grenada during the Reagan administration was said to be necessary to rescue American students being held hostage by Grenadian coup authorities after a coup that overthrew the government. I had a friend in the 82nd airborne division that participated in the rescue. He told me the students said they were hiding in the school to avoid the fighting by the US military, and had never been threatened by any Grenadian authority and were only hiding in the school to avoid all the fighting. Film of the actual rescue broadcast on the mainstream media was taken out of context; the students were never in danger.

    The invasion of Panama in the late 80's was supposedly to capture the dictator Manual Noriega for international crimes related to drugs and weapons. I remember a headline covered by all the media where a Navy lieutenant and his wife were detained by the police. His wife was sexually assaulted while in custody, according to the story. Unfortunately, it never happened. It was intended to get the public emotionally involved to support the action.

    The invasion of Iraq in the early 90's was preceded by a speech by a girl describing the Iraqi army throwing babies out of incubators so the equipment could be transferred to Iraq. It turns out the girl was the daughter of one of the Kuwait's ruling sheiks and the event never occurred. However, it served its purpose by getting the American public involved emotionally supporting the war.

    During the build up to the bombing campaign by NATO against Libya, a woman entered a hotel where reporters were staying claiming she was raped by several police officers of the Gaddafi security services. The report was carried by most media outlets as representative of the brutality of the Gaddafi regime. I was not able to verify if this story was true or not, but it fits the usual method employed to gain public support through propaganda for military interventions.

    The greatest emotion in us is fear and fear is used extensively to make us think irrationally. I remember growing up during the cold war having the fear of nuclear war or 'The Russians are coming!' After the cold war without an obvious enemy, it was Al Qaeda even before 911, so we had 'Al Qaeda is coming!' Now we have 'ISIS is coming!' with media blasting us with terrorist fears. Whenever I hear a government promoting an emotional issue or fear mongering, I ignore them knowing there is a hidden Truth behind the issue.

  2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases. This could be stated more plainly as 'Keep it simple, stupid!' The most notorious use of this technique recently was the Bush administration. Everyone can remember 'We must fight them over there rather than over here' or my favourite 'They hate us for our freedoms'. Neither of these phrases made any rational sense despite 911. The last thing Muslims in the Middle East care about is American's freedoms, maybe it was all the bombs the US was dropping on them.
  3. Give only one side of the argument and obscure history. Watching mainstream media in the US, you can see all the news is biased to the American view as an example. This is prevalent within Australian commercial media and newspapers giving only a western view, but fortunately, we have the SBS and the ABC that are very good, certainly not perfect, at providing both sides of a story. In addition, any historical perspective is ignored keeping the citizenry focused on the here and now. Can any of you remember any news organisation giving an in depth history of Ukraine or Palestine? I cannot.
  4. Demonize the enemy or pick out one special "enemy" for special vilification. This is obvious in politics where politicians continuously criticise their opponents. Of course, demonization is more productively applied to international figures or nations such as Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, the Taliban and just recently Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine, Crimea and Syria. It establishes a negative emotional view of either a nation (i.e. Iran) or a known figure (i.e. Putin) making us again think emotionally, rather than rationally, making it easier to promote evil acts upon a nation or a known figure. Certainly some of these groups or individuals were less than benign, but not necessarily demons as depicted in the west.
  5. Appear humanitarian in work and motivations. The US has used this technique often to validate foreign interventions or ongoing conflicts where the term 'Right to Protect' is used for justification. Everyone should remember the many stories about the abuse of women in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein's supposed brutality toward his people. The recent attack on Syria by the US, UK, and France was depicted as an Humanitarian intervention by the UK Government, which was far from the truth. One thing that always amazes me is when the US sends humanitarian aid to a country it is accompanied by the US military. In Haiti some years back, the US sent troops with no other country doing so. The recent Ebola outbreak in Africa saw US troops sent to the area. How are troops going to fight a medical outbreak? No doubt, they are there for other reasons.

  6. Obscure one's economic interests. Who believes the invasion of Iraq was for weapons of mass destruction? Or the constant threats against Iran are for their nuclear program? Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no one has presented firm evidence Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons. The West has been interfering in the Middle East since the British in the late 19th century. It is all about oil and the control over the resources. In fact, if one researches the cause of wars over the last hundred years, you will always find economics was a major component driving the rush to war for most of them.

  7. Monopolize the flow of information. This is the most important principle and mainly entails setting the narrative by which all subsequent events can be based upon or interpreted in such a way as to reinforce the narrative. The narrative does not need to be true; in fact, it can be anything that suits the monopoliser as long as it is based loosely on some event. It is critical to have at least majority control of media and the ability to control the message so the flow of information is consistent with the narrative. This has been played out on mainstream media concerning the Ukrainian conflict, Syrian conflict, and the Skirpal affair. Just over the last couple of years, we have all been subjected to propaganda in one form or another. Remember the US wanting to bomb Syria because of the sarin gas attack, it was later determined to be false (see Seymour Hersh 'Whose Sarin'). The shoot down of MH17 was immediately blamed on Russia by the west without any convincing proof (setting the narrative). It amazes me just how fast the story died after the initial saturation in the media. When I awoke that morning in July, I heard on the news PM Tony Abbot blaming Russia for the incident only hours afterward. How could he know Russia shot down the plane? The investigation into the incident had not even begun, so I suspect he was singing from the West's hymnbook in a standard setting the narrative scenario.

[Mar 20, 2020] Pompeo myth that USA and the West were unprepared because China withheld information about the virus.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

occupatio , Mar 19 2020 20:16 utc | 161

@b Another myth to add to your collection ...

... that USA and the West were unprepared because China withheld information about the virus.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 19 2020 18:20 utc | 106

The "Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19" states that China transparently reported the identification of virus to the WHO and the international community on January 3rd, and a WHO investigative team was invited to Wuhan a week after that.

From January 3rd, 2020, information on COVID-19 cases has been reported to WHO daily.

On January 7th, full genome sequences of the new virus were shared with WHO and the international community immediately after the pathogen was identified.

On January 10th, an expert group involving Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwanese technical experts and a World Health Organization team was invited to visit Wuhan.

From page 31 of:
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf

[Mar 20, 2020] That "beyond dispute" phrase is what retards like Mike Pompeo use to try to shut down a discussion in which he's getting his fat ass kicked.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Twodees Partain , says: Show Comment March 20, 2020 at 3:02 am GMT

@SBaker "It's beyond dispute that the novel coronavirus officially known as COVID-19originated in Wuhan, China."

No, it's being disputed every day. That "beyond dispute" phrase is what retards like Mike Pompeo use to try to shut down a discussion in which he's getting his fat ass kicked.

[Mar 20, 2020] How NGO get funding, how they influence policies and priorities, the money flow, and billions in taxpayer dollars.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Mar 20 2020 0:15 utc | 239

How do NGOs rule the world, while bleeding us dry? This is a comprehensive breakdown on who runs the healthcare industry (and other industries), how they do it, how they get funding, how they influence policies and priorities, the money flow, and billions in taxpayer dollars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsCCz3MBjK4

[Mar 19, 2020] US imposes sanctions against #Iran after offering to help with #Coronavirus outbreak

Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 18 2020 18:28 utc | 53

This might soon become the global rallying cry :

"USA is the greatest enemy of humanity - I hope they will pay for that:

"US imposes sanctions against #Iran after offering to help with #Coronavirus outbreak"

The situation has now gone well beyond immorality and into the realm of EVIL--an EVIL that's Bipartisan, shared by Ds and Rs alike.


bevin , Mar 18 2020 18:33 utc | 54

Miss Lacy and Arby both draw our attention to the obscenity of the US using this crisis in order to put pressure on governments that it dislikes by cutting off medicine and other resources.

Among the places where people are currently dying in large numbers because Washington chooses that they should are Cuba-under an oil embargo-, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Iran.

Those who cannot bring themselves to believe that government could be so evil as to deploy a virus as a weapon to weaken another state, only have to look at what is happening today: Venezuela desperately needs funds, much of its foreign exchange having been seized illegally by the US and its satellites, in order to weather the pandemic.

Anyone supporting such a policy, condoning the killing of vulnerable people to embarrass another state, is an accessory to murder.

farm ecologist , Mar 18 2020 19:40 utc | 67
Re., IMF refuses emergency funds to Venezuela

Posted by: arby | Mar 18 2020 14:32 utc | 11
Posted by: Miss Lacy | Mar 18 2020 18:15 utc | 50
Posted by: bevin | Mar 18 2020 18:33 utc | 55

Anyone supporting such a policy, condoning the killing of vulnerable people to embarrass another state, is an accessory to murder.

Although many argue that the foreign policies of the US government don't really reflect the views and desires of ordinary citizens, the comments in the Fox News report on this story suggest otherwise (caveat - be prepared to be appalled).

https://www.foxnews.com/world/venezuela-asks-imf-for-massive-emergency-loan-to-fight-coronavirus


[Mar 17, 2020] Russia Strikes Back Where It Hurts American Oil by Scott Ritter

Mar 17, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

R ussia and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an oil price war that has sent shockwaves around the world, causing the price of oil to tumble and threatening the financial stability, and even viability, of major international oil companies.

On the surface, this conflict appears to be a fight between two of the world's largest producers of oil over market share. This may, in fact, be the motive driving Saudi Arabia, which reacted to Russia's refusal to reduce its level of oil production by slashing the price it charged per barrel of oil and threatening to increase its oil production, thereby flooding the global market with cheap oil in an effort to attract customers away from competitors.

Russia's motives appear to be far different -- its target isn't Saudi Arabia, but rather American shale oil. After absorbing American sanctions that targeted the Russian energy sector, and working with global partners (including Saudi Arabia) to keep oil prices stable by reducing oil production even as the United States increased the amount of shale oil it sold on the world market, Russia had had enough. The advent of the Coronavirus global pandemic had significantly reduced the demand for oil around the world, stressing the American shale producers. Russia had been preparing for the eventuality of oil-based economic warfare with the United States. With U.S. shale producers knocked back on their heels, Russia viewed the time as being ripe to strike back. Russia's goal is simple: to make American shale oil producers " share the pain ".

The United States has been slapping sanctions on Russia for more than six years, ever since Russia took control (and later annexed) the Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The first sanctions were issued on March 6, 2014, through Executive Order 13660 , targeting "persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets."

The most recent round of sanctions was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 18, 2020, by sanctioning Rosneft Trading S.A., a Swiss-incorporated, Russian-owned oil brokerage firm, for operating in Venezuela's oil sector. The U.S. also recently targeted the Russian Nord Stream 2 and Turk Stream gas pipeline projects.

Russia had been signaling its displeasure over U.S. sanctions from the very beginning. In July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that U.S. sanctions were "driving into a corner" relations between the two countries, threatening the "the long-term national interests of the U.S. government and people." Russia opted to ride out U.S. sanctions, in hopes that there might be a change of administrations following the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he hoped the U.S. might elect someone whose policies would be more friendly toward Russia, and that once the field of candidates narrowed down to a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Putin favored Trump .

"Yes, I did," Putin remarked after the election, during a joint press conference with President Trump following a summit in Helsinki in July 2018. "Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."

Putin's comments only reinforced the opinions of those who embraced allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as fact and concluded that Putin had some sort of hold over Trump. Trump's continuous praise of Putin's leadership style only reinforced these concerns.

Even before he was inaugurated, Trump singled out Putin's refusal to respond in kind to President Obama's levying of sanctions based upon the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had interfered in the election. "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!" Trump Tweeted . Trump viewed the Obama sanctions as an effort to sabotage any chance of a Trump administration repairing relations with Russia, and interpreted Putin's refusal to engage, despite being pressured to do so by the Russian Parliament and Foreign Ministry, as a recognition of the same.

This sense of providing political space in the face of domestic pressure worked both ways. In January 2018, Putin tried to shield his relationship with President Trump by calling the release of a list containing some 200 names of persons close to the Russian government by the U.S. Treasury Department as a hostile and "stupid" move .

"Ordinary Russian citizens, employees and entire industries are behind each of those people and companies," Putin remarked. "So all 146 million people have essentially been put on this list. What is the point of this? I don't understand."

From the Russian perspective, the list highlighted the reality that the U.S. viewed the entire Russian government as an enemy and is a byproduct of the "political paranoia" on the part of U.S. lawmakers. The consequences of this, senior Russian officials warned, "will be toxic and undermine prospects for cooperation for years ahead."

While President Trump entered office fully intending to " get along with Russia ," including the possibility of relaxing the Obama-era sanctions , the reality of U.S.-Russian relations, especially as viewed from Congress, has been the strengthening of the Obama sanctions regime. These sanctions, strengthened over time by new measures signed off by Trump, have had a negative impact on the Russian economy, slowing growth and driving away foreign investment .

While Putin continued to show constraint in the face of these mounting sanctions, the recent targeting of Russia's energy sector represented a bridge too far. When Saudi pressure to cut oil production rates coincided with a global reduction in the demand for oil brought on by the Coronavirus crisis, Russia struck.

The timing of the Russian action is curious, especially given the amount of speculation that there was some sort of personal relationship between Trump and Putin that the Russian leader sought to preserve and carry over into a potential second term. But Putin had, for some time now, been signaling that his patience with Trump had run its course. When speaking to the press in June 2019 about the state of U.S.-Russian relations, Putin noted that "They (our relations) are going downhill, they are getting worse and worse," adding that "The current [i.e., Trump] administration has approved, in my opinion, several dozen decisions on sanctions against Russia in recent years."

By launching an oil price war on the eve of the American Presidential campaign season, Putin has sent as strong a signal as possible that he no longer views Trump as an asset, if in fact he ever did. Putin had hoped Trump could usher in positive change in the trajectory of relations between the two nations; this clearly had not happened. Instead, in the words of close Putin ally Igor Sechin , the chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the U.S. was using its considerable energy resources as a political weapon, ushering in an era of "power colonialism" that sought to expand U.S. oil production and market share at the expense of other nations.

From Russia's perspective, the growth in U.S. oil production -- which doubled in output from 2011 until 2019 -- and the emergence of the U.S. as a net exporter of oil, was directly linked to the suppression of oil export capability in nations such as Venezuela and Iran through the imposition of sanctions. While this could be tolerated when the target was a third party, once the U.S. set its sanctioning practices on Russian energy, the die was cast.

If the goal of the Russian-driven price war is to make U.S. shale companies "share the pain," they have already succeeded. A similar price war, initiated by Saudi Arabia in 2014 for the express purpose of suppressing U.S. shale oil production, failed, but only because investors were willing to prop up the stricken shale producers with massive loans and infusion of capital. For shale oil producers, who use an expensive methodology of extraction known as "fracking," to be economically viable, the breakeven price of oil per barrel needs to be between $40 and $60 dollars. This was the price range the Saudi's were hoping to sustain when they proposed the cuts in oil production that Russia rejected.

The U.S. shale oil producers, saddled by massive debt and high operational expenses, will suffer greatly in any sustained oil price war. Already, with the price of oil down to below $35 per barrel, there is talk of bankruptcy and massive job layoffs -- none of which bode well for Trump in the coming election.

It's clear that Russia has no intention of backing off anytime soon. According to the Russian Finance Ministry , said on Russia could weather oil prices of $25-30 per barrel for between six and ten years. One thing is for certain -- U.S. shale oil companies cannot.

In a sign that the Trump administration might be waking up to the reality of the predicament it faces, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin quietly met with Russia's Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov. According to a read out from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two discussed economic sanctions, the Venezuelan economy, and the potential for "trade and investment." Mnuchin, the Russians noted, emphasized the "importance of orderly energy markets."

Russia is unlikely to fold anytime soon. As Admiral Josh Painter, a character in Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October," famously said , "Russians don't take a dump without a plan."

Russia didn't enter its current course of action on a whim. Its goals are clearly stated -- to defeat U.S. shale oil -- and the costs of this effort, both economically and politically (up to and including having Trump lose the 2020 Presidential election) have all been calculated and considered in advance. The Russian Bear can only be toyed with for so long without generating a response. We now know what that response is; when the Empire strikes back, it hits hard.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, including his forthcoming, Scorpion King: America's Embrace of Nuclear Weapons From FDR to Trump (2020).

[Mar 15, 2020] US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes: Wehrmacht occupying Ukraine vs US occupying Iraq.

Mar 15, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kali , Mar 14 2020 18:26 utc | 18

The neocons trying to control Trump are going to have a hard time this year because of the election. Trump knows his people voted for him because of his promises to get the troops back home. Of course the neocons want to build up more and more troops in Iraq or even split Iraq into 3 different countries. The Iraqi and Iranian leaders with the Syrians to a lesser degree will try to take advantage of Trump's dilemma. The Kurds are involved also. This is all explored by Pam Ho How Much Do You Suck (To lose a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein)

Willy2 , Mar 14 2020 18:32 utc | 19

- The US knows it "influence" is waning and tries to "carve out" a sunni "rump state" in North-West Iraq. First the US fights ISIS in that same area/region from the year 2014 onwards and now they are supposed to fight in FAVOUR of the sunnis/ISIS ?

"US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes"

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-seeking-carve-out-sunni-state-its-influence-iraq-wanes

- Some politicians are recognizing that the killing of Qassam Sulemani has weakened the US position in the Middle East.

"Killing Soleimani made US 'weaker' in Middle East, US senator says".

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/killing-soleimani-made-us-weaker-middle-east-us-senator-says

arata , Mar 14 2020 19:37 utc | 29
General McKenzie said they have bombed a civilian air port in Karbala was a right decision, Iraqi police force who were killed, they shouldn't be there!
See the video 13:00 onward.
Peter AU1 , Mar 14 2020 19:50 utc | 32
arata 29
Rueters had a piece on it which I linked in the last Iraq thread. Total yank arrogance and exceptionalism.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-usa-iran-retaliation-mi/iraq-condemns-u-s-air-strikes-warns-of-consequences-idUSKBN2101AD?il=0
""These locations that we struck are clear locations of terrorist bases," said Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. military's Central Command.

"If Iraqis were there and if Iraqi military forces were there, I would say it's probably not a good idea to position yourself with Kataib Hezbollah in the wake of a strike that killed Americans and coalition members," he told a Pentagon news briefing."

dltravers , Mar 14 2020 21:40 utc | 40
Despite Trump the Iraq policy transcends his administration and will continue in some form in the future. There will be a continued presence in some form and in some part of the country. Our beloved ally in the region demands our presence.

They smartly keep the presence small with no draft remembering that is what took them out of Nam. An angry draft worthy populace, a counter culture disillusioned with the murder of their liberal anti war leadership by the state, and ample media coverage of the war carnage.

All of that is long gone, and even with the age of internet reporting the populace has been bought off with entertainment, amazon, porn, and bullshit.

Abe , Mar 15 2020 0:39 utc | 54
@43

Parallel is IMO very interesting, Wehrmacht occupying Ukraine and US occupying Iraq. In both cases there was minority that welcomed occupier with open arms, wanting to oppress majority of own country folks due to earlier grievances. In both cases, invader didn't want to bother with using that minority to own goals, as they saw them all as inferior race. And invader was in both cases more interested in conquering more powerful neighbor to the east.

Irony is that, if Nazi Germany/US didn't look at Ukraine/Iraq people as inferior race they could use them for own goal to fight Russia/Iran. But, dumb as they are, they stuck all those Ukrainians into camps(lot of them sympathizers to Germany/rabidly against Russia)/ disbanding ex. Saddam's army and made kernel of future anti US force into region, not to mention Kurdish question.


Peter AU1 , Mar 15 2020 0:39 utc | 55
53 Snake put up a link back up the thread.
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/03/14/620858/Iraq-military-demands-foreign-forces-swiftly-withdraw-following-US-air-raids
"Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces..."

"Later on January 9, former Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.

According to a statement released by his office at the time, Abdul-Mahdi "requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament's decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq" in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo."

US in response moved to a few bases they intended to occupy and give the two finger salute to Iraq. Trump threatened sanctions and theft of Iraq's oil money which is in the US. Pentagon now moving patriots in.

Jackrabbit , Mar 15 2020 2:43 utc | 69
Question to b @53: ... it was a non-binding resolution.

It's "non-binding" on USA only because the Prime Minister conducts foreign policy and there's no current written basing agreement between Iraq and USA that can be terminated. The resolution demands that the Prime Minister arrange for the departure of US troops.

The resolution is binding on the Prime Minister because it was a valid vote in accordance with Iraqi Parliamentary procedure.

USA refused to discuss leaving Iraq and claimed that the Parliamentary vote was "non-binding" because it was unrepresentative (USA got their Sunni and Kurd sympathizers to boycott the vote). But Parliament still had a quorum, so the vote is legal and binding.

<> <> <> <> <> <>

Is it enforceable?

USA/NATO are very unlikely to leaving willingly. We are seeing the start of a civil war in Iraq because most Sunnis and Kurds support USA/NATO remaining while Shia want USA/NATO to leave.

!!

james , Mar 15 2020 2:36 utc | 67
just start with the first lie and go from their... usa / uk lied the world into going to war on iraq... and from their the lies just keep on getting stacked.. if you can't acknowledge the first lie, you probably are incapable of recognizing all the other lies that have been thrown on the same bullshit pile... one big pile of lies and bullshite - a specialty of the exceptional country..
james , Mar 15 2020 2:25 utc | 65
@ 63 question.. you like this usa style bullshit that buys politicians in iraq and when that doesn't work, they go on to the next attempt at installing a politician willing to agree to their bullshite? interesting bullshit concept of democracy if you ask me... everything has a price tag and honour is something you can pick up at the grocery store... right..

[Mar 13, 2020] Daffy Duck. cartoon was made in 1953 and like many Looney Tune cartoon's, they are an extreme parody of life. It dawned on me that this cartoon is an almost perfect description of US Military policy and action.

Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2020 | thesaker.is

Vaughan on March 12, 2020 , · at 7:43 pm EST/EDT

Recently, I was watching the old Looney Tunes Cartoons with my Grandchild and we were watching, "Duck Dodges in the 21st and a Half Century"
I don't know if you've watched this cartoon starring Daffy Duck. You can view it here
https://vimeo.com/76668594

This cartoon was made in 1953 and like many Looney Tune cartoon's, they are an extreme parody of life. But while watching this cartoon, it dawned on me that this cartoon is an almost perfect description of US Military policy and action.
I could write an article on this but I think we'll leave it as a note with a snide laugh to be had by all.

Patricia Ormsby on March 12, 2020 , · at 8:16 pm EST/EDT
Laughter is one of the best medicines. Thank you for this!

[Mar 12, 2020] How 'Bernie Bros' Were Invented, Then Smeared as Sexist, Racist and unAmerican as Borscht by Jonathan Cook

Looks like DNC run a pretty sophisticated smear campaign against Sanders ...
Notable quotes:
"... It really isn't about who the candidates are – hurtful as that may sound to some in our identity-saturated times. It is about what the candidate might try to do once in office. In truth, the very fact that nowadays we are allowed to focus on identity to our heart's content should be warning enough that the establishment is only too keen for us to exhaust our energies in promoting divisions based on those identities ..."
"... The Republican and Democratic leaderships are there to ensure that, before a candidate gets selected to compete in the parties' name, he or she has proven they are power-friendly. Two candidates, each vetted for obedience to power. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

The Democratic presidential nomination race is a fascinating case study in how power works – not least, because the Democratic party leaders are visibly contriving to impose one candidate, Joe Biden, as the party's nominee, even as it becomes clear that he is no longer mentally equipped to run a local table tennis club let alone the world's most powerful nation.

Biden's campaign is a reminder that power is indivisible. Donald Trump or Joe Biden for president – it doesn't matter to the power-establishment. An egomaniacal man-child (Trump), representing the billionaires, or an elder suffering rapid neurological degeneration (Biden), representing the billionaires, are equally useful to power. A woman will do too, or a person of colour. The establishment is no longer worried about who stands on stage – so long as that person is not a Bernie Sanders in the US, or a Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.

It really isn't about who the candidates are – hurtful as that may sound to some in our identity-saturated times. It is about what the candidate might try to do once in office. In truth, the very fact that nowadays we are allowed to focus on identity to our heart's content should be warning enough that the establishment is only too keen for us to exhaust our energies in promoting divisions based on those identities. What concerns it far more is that we might overcome those divisions and unify against it, withdrawing our consent from an establishment committed to endless asset-stripping of our societies and the planet.

Neither Biden nor Trump will obstruct the establishment, because they are at its very heart. The Republican and Democratic leaderships are there to ensure that, before a candidate gets selected to compete in the parties' name, he or she has proven they are power-friendly. Two candidates, each vetted for obedience to power.

Although a pretty face or a way with words are desirable, incapacity and incompetence are no barrier to qualifying, as the two white men groomed by their respective parties demonstrate. Both have proved they will favour the establishment, both will pursue near-enough the same policies , both are committed to the status quo, both have demonstrated their indifference to the future of life on Earth. What separates the candidates is not real substance, but presentation styles – the creation of the appearance of difference, of choice.

Policing the debate

The subtle dynamics of how the Democratic nomination race is being rigged are interesting. Especially revealing are the ways the Democratic leadership protects establishment power by policing the terms of debate: what can be said, and what can be thought; who gets to speak and whose voices are misrepresented or demonised. Manipulation of language is key.

As I pointed out in my previous post , the establishment's power derives from its invisibility. Scrutiny is kryptonite to power.

The only way we can interrogate power is through language, and the only way we can communicate our conclusions to others is through words – as I am doing right now. And therefore our strength – our ability to awaken ourselves from the trance of power – must be subverted by the establishment, transformed into our Achilles' heel, a weakness.

The treatment of Bernie Sanders and his supporters by the Democratic establishment – and those who eagerly repeat its talking points – neatly illustrates how this can be done in manifold ways.

Remember this all started back in 2016, when Sanders committed the unforgivable sin of challenging the Democratic leadership's right simply to anoint Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential candidate. In those days, the fault line was obvious and neat: Bernie was a man, Clinton a woman. She would be the first woman president. The only party members who might wish to deny her that historic moment, and back Sanders instead, had to be misogynist men. They were supposedly venting their anti-women grudge against Clinton, who in turn was presented to women as a symbol of their oppression by men.

And so was born a meme: the "Bernie Bros". It rapidly became shorthand for suggesting – contrary to all evidence – that Sanders' candidacy appealed chiefly to angry, entitled white men. In fact, as Sanders' 2020 run has amply demonstrated, support for him has been more diverse than for the many other Democratic candidates who sought the nomination.

So important what @ewarren is saying to @maddow about the dangerous, threatening, ugly faction among the Bernie supporters. Sanders either cannot or will not control them. pic.twitter.com/LYDXlLJ7bi

-- Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 6, 2020

How contrived the 2016 identity-fuelled contest was should have been clear, had anyone been allowed to point that fact out. This wasn't really about the Democratic leadership respecting Clinton's identity as a woman. It was about them paying lip service to her identity as a woman, while actually promoting her because she was a reliable warmonger and Wall Street functionary . She was useful to power.

If the debate had really been driven by identity politics, Sanders had a winning card too: he is Jewish. That meant he could be the United States' first Jewish president. In a fair identity fight, it would have been a draw between the two. The decision about who should represent the Democratic party would then have had to be decided based on policies, not identity. But party leaders did not want Clinton's actual policies, or her political history, being put under the microscope for very obvious reasons.

Weaponisation of identity

The weaponisation of identity politics is even more transparent in 2020. Sanders is still Jewish, but his main opponent, Joe Biden, really is simply a privileged white man. Were the Clinton format to be followed again by Democratic officials, Sanders would enjoy an identity politics trump card. And yet Sanders is still being presented as just another white male candidate , no different from Biden.

(We could take this argument even further and note that the other candidate who no one, least of all the Democratic leadership, ever mentions as still in the race is Tulsi Gabbard, a woman of colour. The Democratic party has worked hard to make her as invisible as possible in the primaries because, of all the candidates, she is the most vocal and articulate opponent of foreign wars. That has deprived her of the chance to raise funds and win delegates.)

. @DanaPerino I'm not quite sure why you're telling FOX viewers that Elizabeth Warren is the last female candidate in the Dem primary. Is it because you believe a fake indigenous woman of color is "real" and the real indigenous woman of color in this race is fake? pic.twitter.com/VKCxy2JzFe

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 3, 2020

Sanders' Jewish identity isn't celebrated because he isn't useful to the power-establishment. What's far more important to them – and should be to us too – are his policies, which might limit their power to wage war, exploit workers and trash the planet.

But it is not just that Democratic Party leaders are ignoring Sanders' Jewish identity. They are also again actively using identity politics against him, and in many different ways.

The 'black' establishment?

Bernie Sanders' supporters have been complaining for some time – based on mounting evidence – that the Democratic leadership is far from neutral between Sanders and Biden. Because it has a vested interest in the outcome, and because it is the part of the power-establishment, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is exercising its influence in favour of Biden. And because power prefers darkness, the DNC is doing its best to exercise that power behind the scenes, out of sight – at least, unseen by those who still rely on the "mainstream" corporate media, which is also part of the power-establishment. As should be clear to anyone watching, the nomination proceedings are being controlled to give Biden every advantage and to obstruct Sanders.

But the Democratic leadership is not only dismissing out of hand these very justified complaints from Bernie Sanders' supporters but also turning these complaints against them, as further evidence of their – and his – illegitimacy. A new way of doing this emerged in the immediate wake of Biden winning South Carolina on the back of strong support from older black voters – Biden's first state win and a launchpad for his Super Tuesday bid a few days later.

It was given perfect expression from Symone Sanders, who despite her surname is actually a senior adviser to Biden's campaign. She is also black. This is what she wrote: "People who keep referring to Black voters as 'the establishment' are tone deaf and have obviously learned nothing."

People who keep referring to Black voters as "the establishment" are tone deaf and have obviously learned nothing.

-- Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) March 3, 2020

Her reference to generic "people" was understood precisely by both sides of the debate as code for those "Bernie Bros". Now, it seems, Bernie Sanders' supporters are not simply misogynists, they are potential recruits to the Ku Klux Klan.

The tweet went viral, even though in the fiercely contested back-and-forth below her tweet no one could produce a single example of anyone actually saying anything like the sentiment ascribed by Symone Sanders to "Bernie Bros". But then, tackling bigotry was not her real goal. This wasn't meant to be a reflection on a real-world talking-point by Bernie supporters. It was high-level gaslighting by a senior Democratic party official of the party's own voters.

Survival of the fittest smear

What Symone Sanders was really trying to do was conceal power – the fact that the DNC is seeking to impose its chosen candidate on party members. As occurred during the confected women-men, Clinton vs "Bernie Bros" confrontation, Symone Sanders was field-testing a similar narrative management tool as part of the establishment's efforts to hone it for improved effect. The establishment has learnt – through a kind of survival of the fittest smear – that divide-and-rule identity politics is the perfect way to shield its influence as it favours a status-quo candidate (Biden or Clinton) over a candidate seen as a threat to its power (Sanders).

In her tweet, Symone Sanders showed exactly how the power elite seeks to obscure its toxic role in our societies. She neatly conflated "the establishment" – of which she is a very small, but well-paid component – with ordinary "black voters". Her message is this: should you try to criticise the establishment (which has inordinate power to damage lives and destroy the planet) we will demonise you, making it seem that you are really attacking black people (who in the vast majority of cases – though Symone Sanders is a notable exception – wield no power at all).

Symone Sanders has recruited her own blackness and South Carolina's "black voters" as a ring of steel to protect the establishment. Cynically, she has turned poor black people, as well as the tens of thousands of people (presumably black and white) who liked her tweet, into human shields for the establishment.

It sounds a lot uglier put like that. But it has rapidly become a Biden talking-point, as we can see here:

NEW: @JoeBiden responds to @berniesanders saying the "establishment" is trying to defeat him.

"The establishment are all those hardworking, middle class people, those African Americans they are the establishment!" @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/43Q2Nci5sS

-- Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) March 4, 2020

The DNC's wider strategy is to confer on Biden exclusive rights to speak for black voters (despite his inglorious record on civil rights issues) and, further, to strip Sanders and his senior black advisers of any right to do so. When Sanders protests about this, or about racist behaviour from the Biden camp, Biden's supporters come out in force and often abusively, though of course no one is upbraiding them for their ugly, violent language. Here is the famous former tennis player Martina Navratilova showing that maybe we should be talking about "Biden Bros":

Sanders is starting to really piss me off. Just shut this kind of crap down and debate the issues. This is not it.

-- Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 6, 2020

Being unkind to billionaires

This kind of special pleading by the establishment for the establishment – using those sections of it, such as Symone Sanders, that can tap into the identity politics zeitgeist – is far more common than you might imagine. The approach is being constantly refined, often using social media as the ultimate focus group. Symone Sanders' successful conflation of the establishment with "black voters" follows earlier, clumsier efforts by the establishment to protect its interests against Sanders that proved far less effective.

Billionaires should not exist. https://t.co/hgR6CeFvLa

-- Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 24, 2019

Remember how last autumn the billionaire-owned corporate media tried to tell us that it was unkind to criticise billionaires – that they had feelings too and that speaking harshly about them was "dehumanising". Again it was aimed at Sanders, who had just commented that in a properly ordered world billionaires simply wouldn't exist. It was an obvious point: allowing a handful of people to control almost all the planet's wealth was not only depriving the rest of us of that wealth (and harming the planet) but it gave those few billionaires way too much power. They could buy all the media, our channels of communication, and most of the politicians to ringfence their financial interests, gradually eroding even the most minimal democratic protections.

That campaign died a quick death because few of us are actually brainwashed enough to accept the idea that a handful of billionaires share an identity that needs protecting – from us! Most of us are still connected enough to the real world to understand that billionaires are more than capable of looking out for their own interests, without our helping them by imposing on ourselves a vow of silence.

But one cannot fault the power-establishment for being constantly inventive in the search for new ways to stifle our criticisms of the way it unilaterally exercises its power. The Democratic nomination race is testing such ingenuity to the limits. Here's a new rule against "hateful conduct" on Twitter, where Biden's neurological deficit is being subjected to much critical scrutiny through the sharing of dozens of videos of embarrassing Biden "senior moments".

Twitter expanding its hateful conduct rules "to include language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability or disease." https://t.co/KmWGaNAG9Z

-- Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 5, 2020

Yes, disability and age are identities too. And so, on the pretext of protecting and respecting those identities, social media can now be scrubbed of anything and anyone trying to highlight the mental deficiencies of an old man who might soon be given the nuclear codes and would be responsible for waging wars in the name of Americans. Twitter is full of comments denouncing as "ableist" anyone who tries to highlight how the Democratic leadership is foisting a cognitively challenged Biden on to the party.

Maybe the Dem insiders are all wrong, but it's true that they are saying it. Some are saying it out loud, including Castro at the debate and Booker here: https://t.co/0lbi7RFRqG

-- Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) March 6, 2020

Russian 'agents' and 'assets'

None of this is to overlook the fact that another variation of identity politics has been weaponised against Sanders: that of failing to be an "American" patriot. Again illustrating how closely the Democratic and Republican leaderships' interests align, the question of who is a patriot – and who is really working for the "Russians" – has been at the heart of both parties' campaigns, though for different reasons.

Trump has been subjected to endless, evidence-free claims that he is a secret "Russian agent" in a concerted effort to control his original isolationist foreign policy impulses that might have stripped the establishment – and its military-industrial wing – of the right to wage wars of aggression, and revive the Cold War, wherever it believes a profit can be made under cover of "humanitarian intervention". Trump partly inoculated himself against these criticisms, at least among supporters, with his "Make America Great Again" slogan, and partly by learning – painfully for such an egotist – that his presidential role was to rubber-stamp decisions made elsewhere about waging wars and projecting US power.

I'm just amazed by this tweet, which has been tweeted plenty. Did @_nalexander and all the people liking this not know that Mueller laid out in the indictments of a number of Russians and in his report their help on social media to Sanders and Trump. Help Sanders has acknowledged https://t.co/vuc0lmvvKP

-- Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) December 8, 2019

Bernie Sanders has faced similar smear efforts by the establishment, including by the DNC's last failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – in his case, painting him as a "Russian asset". ("Asset" is a way to suggest collusion with the Kremlin based on even more flimsy evidence than is needed to accuse someone of being an agent.) In fact, in a world where identity politics wasn't simply a tool to be weaponised by the establishment, there would be real trepidation about engaging in this kind of invective against a Jewish socialist.

One of the far-right's favourite antisemitic tropes – promoted ever since the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion more than 100 years ago – is that Jewish "Bolsheviks" are involved in an international conspiracy to subvert the countries they live in. We have reached the point now that the corporate media are happy to recycle evidence-free claims, cited by the Washington Post, from anonymous "US officials" and US intelligence agencies reinventing a US version of the Protocols against Sanders. And these smears have elicited not a word of criticism from the Democratic leadership nor from the usual antisemitism watchdogs that are so ready to let rip over the slightest signs of what they claim to be antisemitism on the left.

But the urgency of dealing with Sanders may be the reason normal conventions have been discarded. Sanders isn't a loud-mouth egotist like Trump. A vote for Trump is a vote for the establishment, if for one of its number who pretends to be against the establishment. Trump has been largely tamed in time for a second term. By contrast, Sanders, like Corbyn in the UK, is more dangerous because he may resist the efforts to domesticate him, and because if he is allowed any significant measure of political success – such as becoming a candidate for president – it may inspire others to follow in his footsteps. The system might start to throw up more anomalies, more AOCs and more Ilhan Omars.

So Sanders is now being cast, like Trump, as a puppet of the Kremlin, not a true American. And because he made the serious mistake of indulging the "Russiagate" smears when they were used against Trump, Sanders now has little defence against their redeployment against him. And given that, by the impoverished standards of US political culture, he is considered an extreme leftist, it has been easy to conflate his democratic socialism with Communism, and then conflate his supposed Communism with acting on behalf of the Kremlin (which, of course, ignores the fact that Russia long ago abandoned Communism).

Sen. Bernie Sanders: "Let me tell this to Putin -- the American people, whether Republicans, Democrats, independents are sick and tired of seeing Russia and other countries interfering in our elections." pic.twitter.com/ejcP7YVFlt

-- The Hill (@thehill) February 21, 2020

Antisemitism smear at the ready

There is a final use of weaponised identity politics that the Democratic establishment would dearly love to use against Sanders, if they need to and can get away with it. It is the most toxic brand – and therefore the most effective – of the identity-based smears, and it has been extensively field-tested in the UK against Jeremy Corbyn to great success. The DNC would like to denounce Sanders as an antisemite.

In fact, only one thing has held them back till now: the fact that Sanders is Jewish. That may not prove an insuperable obstacle, but it does make it much harder to make the accusation look credible. The other identity-based smears had been a second-best, a make-do until a way could be found to unleash the antisemitism smear.

The establishment has been testing the waters with implied accusations of antisemitism against Sanders for a while, but their chances were given a fillip recently when Sanders refused to participate in the annual jamboree of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent lobby group whose primary mission is to ringfence Israel from criticism in the US. Both the Republican and Democratic establishments turn out in force to the AIPAC conference, and in the past the event has attracted keynote speeches from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But Sanders has refused to attend for decades and maintained that stance this month, even though he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination. In the last primaries debate, Sanders justified his decision by rightly calling Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "racist" and by describing AIPAC as providing a platform "for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights".

Trump's Vice-President, Mike Pence, responded that Sanders supported "Israel's enemies" and, if elected, would be the "most anti-Israel president in the history of this nation" – all coded suggestions that Sanders is antisemitic.

But that's Mike Pence. More useful criticism came from billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who is himself Jewish and was until last week posing as a Democrat to try to win the party's nomination. Bloomberg accused Sanders of using dehumanising language against a bunch of inclusive identities that, he improbably suggested, AIPAC represents. He claimed :

"This is a gathering of 20,000 Israel supporters of every religious denomination, ethnicity, faith, color, sexual identity and political party. Calling it a racist platform is an attempt to discredit those voices, intimidate people from coming here, and weaken the US-Israel relationship."

Where might this head? At the AIPAC conference last week we were given a foretaste. Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the UK and a friend to Conservative government leader Boris Johnson, was warmly greeted by delegates, including leading members of the Democratic establishment. He boasted that he and other Jewish leaders in the UK had managed to damage Jeremy Corbyn's electoral chances by suggesting that he was an antisemite over his support, like Sanders, for Palestinian rights.

His own treatment of Corbyn, he argued, offered a model for US Jewish organisations to replicate against any leadership contender who might pose similar trouble for Israel, leaving it for his audience to pick up the not-so-subtle hint about who needed to be subjected to character assassination.

WATCH: "Today I issue a call to the Jews of America, please take a leaf out of our book and please speak with one voice."

The Chief Rabbi speaking to the 18,000 delegates gathered at the @AIPAC General Session at their Policy Conference in Washington DC pic.twitter.com/BOkan9RA2O

-- Chief Rabbi Mirvis (@chiefrabbi) March 3, 2020

Establishment playbook

For anyone who isn't wilfully blind, the last few months have exposed the establishment playbook: it will use identity politics to divide those who might otherwise find a united voice and a common cause.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating one's identity, especially if it is under threat, maligned or marginalised. But having an attachment to an identity is no excuse for allowing it to be coopted by billionaires, by the powerful, by nuclear-armed states oppressing other people, by political parties or by the corporate media, so that they can weaponise it to prevent the weak, the poor, the marginalised from being represented.

It is time for us to wake up to the tricks, the deceptions, the manipulations of the strong that exploit our weaknesses – and make us yet weaker still. It's time to stop being a patsy for the establishment. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are " Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and " Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair " (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

[Mar 12, 2020] Americans are told every day that Russians are interfering in our politics. We've been interfering in Russia's for a century. -

Notable quotes:
"... Nonetheless much of this Cold War rivalry played out within a set of rules. Since 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, those rules have largely evaporated. The end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new American effort to bring Russia into the Western fold -- to make it, in Washington-speak, a "responsible partner in the rules-based international order." We sought a cooperative Russian leader -- one who would play the pro-Western role once envisioned for Admiral Kolchak. ..."
"... In 1996 President Boris Yeltsin, who had presided over an epic collapse of living standards in Russia, seemed headed for electoral defeat. That threatened America's influence over Russia. President Bill Clinton told his advisers, " I want this guy to win so bad it hurts ." A team of American political consultants flew to Russia, took over Yeltsin's campaign and, using media techniques not previously seen there, steered him to an improbable victory. This direct intervention in Russian politics was hardly clandestine. Time magazine published a gleeful account soon afterward, with a drawing of Yeltsin on the cover waving an American flag over the headline " Yanks to the Rescue ." ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.bostonglobe.com

Shots rang out beside a frozen Siberian river one century ago, and a famous commander fell dead. Members of the firing squad dumped his body through a hole in the ice. With that, the Russian civil war took a decisive turn. Communists consolidated power and set in motion events that still shape Russia.

Observing the anniversary of this fateful execution helps explain why Russia today feels besieged by the United States. The victim, Admiral Alexander Kolchak, was recognized by Western powers as the legitimate ruler of Russia. He and his White Army were waging an epic war to overthrow Lenin and the Reds. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson, horrified at the rise of Bolshevik power, sent 13,000 American soldiers to Russia.

Although Americans have largely forgotten this episode, Russians have not. They know from their history books that the United States and other powers sent a potent army on an ill-fated mission deep inside their country. Many see that intervention as the beginning of a century during which the United States has relentlessly interfered in Russia's internal affairs. This has created a narrative of encirclement -- a view that the West relentlessly threatens Russia and does whatever possible to destabilize and weaken it.

Americans are told every day that Russia is interfering in our internal politics. This is said to be an effort to erode American society and weaken our democracy. Portrayals of Russia in the American press are unfailingly negative, President Vladimir Putin is presented as demonic, and any politician who advocates better relations with Moscow risks being accused of treason. Presidential candidates compete to be more virulently anti-Russian than their rivals, as if this is a measure of patriotism. Tensions between the two countries are in some ways higher than during the worst days of the Cold War.

The American and Russian governments have adopted startlingly similar views of each other. Each believes that the other is systematically and malignantly intervening in its internal politics. This feeds a spiral of mistrust and anger. We have not yet returned to the extreme of 1919, when the United States sent combat troops to Russia in an attempt to preserve Western influence there. Yet Russians have reason to suspect that the United States is still trying to guide the course of their history. We lost Admiral Kolchak 100 years ago but haven't given up.

Kolchak was a celebrated scientist and polar explorer who rose to high positions in the Russian Navy. He visited the United States in 1917, and upon his return began marshalling forces to fight the Bolsheviks. Despite receiving troves of weaponry from the British, his forces could not win. He fell into Bolshevik hands and, at dawn on February 7, 1920, was marched toward a tributary of the Angara River. Ever the gentleman, he refused a blindfold and asked the commander of the firing squad to send a final message of love to his wife and son. The commander replied, "I will if I don't forget."

With Kolchak gone, the White Army weakened and finally succumbed. Russia remained Communist for seven decades. During that entire period, with the notable exception of their alliance against Nazi power in World War II, Moscow and Washington were intense global rivals. Americans overlaid the worst qualities of our World War II enemies onto Russia: since the Japanese had attacked us without warning, the Russians probably would too, and since the Nazis had invaded other countries and brutalized their people, Russians were likely to do the same.

Nonetheless much of this Cold War rivalry played out within a set of rules. Since 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, those rules have largely evaporated. The end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new American effort to bring Russia into the Western fold -- to make it, in Washington-speak, a "responsible partner in the rules-based international order." We sought a cooperative Russian leader -- one who would play the pro-Western role once envisioned for Admiral Kolchak.

In 1996 President Boris Yeltsin, who had presided over an epic collapse of living standards in Russia, seemed headed for electoral defeat. That threatened America's influence over Russia. President Bill Clinton told his advisers, " I want this guy to win so bad it hurts ." A team of American political consultants flew to Russia, took over Yeltsin's campaign and, using media techniques not previously seen there, steered him to an improbable victory. This direct intervention in Russian politics was hardly clandestine. Time magazine published a gleeful account soon afterward, with a drawing of Yeltsin on the cover waving an American flag over the headline " Yanks to the Rescue ."

In the years since Putin's emergence, the United States has returned to its default view of Russia as a bloodthirsty enemy. We have imposed a maze of sanctions on Russian individuals and corporations. Our military surrounds Russia just as Russians would surround us if they had bases across Canada and Mexico. We have renounced treaties that once restrained our rivalry. Depending on one's point of view, these steps are either aggressive provocations or simply measured responses to Russian threats and misdeeds. Either way, Russians may be forgiven for believing that the United States wishes their country neither prosperity nor stability. Admiral Kolchak's execution one hundred years ago this winter marked an epochal failure of Western efforts to bend Russia to our will. We're still trying.

[Mar 12, 2020] Levada poll is financed by the USA in violation of Russian laws

Mar 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU1 , Mar 11 2020 7:43 utc | 84

Helmer prefers Levada poll.
https://tass.com/politics/898199
A Justice Ministry source told TASS that a random check carried out by the ministry's Moscow branch had established that the Levada Center was financed by foreign sources and was involved in political activities in the territory of Russia in the interests of its foreign sponsors. The center prepares and distributes by means of modern information technologies their opinion on decisions passed by Russian bodies of state power and their policy and forms socio-political views and convictions.

"The inspection revealed that the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada had received a large part of its funds from the United States, including a grant from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, which is curated by the U.S. Department of Defense," the source said.

On things Russian, I think a Russian funded poll might be more accurate than a US government funded NGO.

uncle tungsten , Mar 11 2020 9:11 utc | 85

Peter AU1 #83

On things Russian and USA funding I just discovered this piece at Unz Review in regard to Kevin Rothrock.

Apart from the direct links to State Department and Soros funds, I thought of Integrity Initiative and is jolly band of stenographers at large.

[Mar 11, 2020] Levada poll is financed by the USA in violation of Russian laws

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU1 , Mar 11 2020 7:43 utc | 84

Helmer prefers Levada poll.
https://tass.com/politics/898199
A Justice Ministry source told TASS that a random check carried out by the ministry's Moscow branch had established that the Levada Center was financed by foreign sources and was involved in political activities in the territory of Russia in the interests of its foreign sponsors. The center prepares and distributes by means of modern information technologies their opinion on decisions passed by Russian bodies of state power and their policy and forms socio-political views and convictions.

"The inspection revealed that the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada had received a large part of its funds from the United States, including a grant from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, which is curated by the U.S. Department of Defense," the source said.

On things Russian, I think a Russian funded poll might be more accurate than a US government funded NGO.

uncle tungsten , Mar 11 2020 9:11 utc | 85

Peter AU1 #83

On things Russian and USA funding I just discovered this piece at Unz Review in regard to Kevin Rothrock.

Apart from the direct links to State Department and Soros funds, I thought of Integrity Initiative and is jolly band of stenographers at large.

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 burst the asset price bubble. In a new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

CitizenX , Mar 9 2020 2:58 utc | 57

"Perhaps this will finally burst the out-of-control asset price bubble and drop-kick the Outlaw US Empire's economy into the sewer as the much lower price will rapidly slow the recycling of what remains of the petrodollar. Looks like Trump's reelection push just fell into a massive sinkhole as the economy will tank."

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 9 2020 1:29 utc | 49
....

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.

Don't worry...just continue to go shopping and take those selfies.


vk , Mar 9 2020 3:37 utc | 60

Pompeo accuses China of giving "imperfect data" on COVID-19, blame it for US failure in containing the virus:

In new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

It will be hard for the American people to swallow that one. From day 1 I've read a lot of "articles" and "papers" from know-it-all Western doctors and researchers from commenters here in this blog, all of them claiming to have very precise and definitive data on what was happening. A lot of bombastic conclusions I've read here (including one that claimed R0 was through the roof - it's funny how the R0 is being played down after it begun to infect the West; suddenly, it's all just a stronger cold...).

And that's just here, in MoA's comment section. Imagine what was being published in the Western MSM. I wouldn't be surprised there was a lot of rednecks popping their beers celebrating the fall of China already.

--//--

China to back global virus fight with production boost

Since China allegedly had a lot of idle industrial capacity - that is, if we take the Western MSM theories seriously (including the fabled "ghost towns" stories) - then boosting production wouldn't be a problem to China.

Disclaimer: it's normal for any kind of economy - socialist or capitalist - to have a certain percentage of idle capacity. That's necessary in order to insure the economy against unexpected oscillations in demand and to give space of maneuvre for future technological progress. Indeed, that was one of the USSR's mistakes with its economy: they instinctly thought unemployment should be zero, and waste should also be zero, so they planned in a way all the factories always sought to operate at 100% capacity. That became a problem when better machines and better methods were invented, since the factory manager wouldn't want to stop production so that his factory would fall behind the other factories in the five-year plan's goals. So, yes, China indeed has idle capacity - but it is mainly proposital, not a failure of its socialist planning.

--//--

... ... ...

vk , Mar 9 2020 3:56 utc | 61
This is important. The only reason I didn't comment about it is I hadn't the data:

Follow the money: Understanding China's battle against COVID-19

By the latest count, in addition to yuan loans worth 113 billion U.S. dollars granted by financial institutions and more than 70 billion U.S. dollars paid out by insurance companies, the Chinese government has allocated about 13 billion U.S. dollars to counter fallout from the outbreak.

The numbers could look abstract. However, breaking the data down reveals how the money is being carefully targeted. The government is allocating the money based on a thorough evaluation of the system's strengths.

...

Local governments are equipped with more local knowledge that allows them to surgically support key manufacturers or producers that are struggling.

Together, they have borne the bulk of the financial responsibility with an allocation of equivalently more than nine billion U.S. dollars. It is carefully targeted, divided into hundreds of thousands of individual grants that are tailor-made by and for each county, town, city and business.

This is the mark of a socialist system.

The affected capitalist countries will simply use monetary devices (so the private sector can offset the losses) and burn their own reserves with non-profitable palliatives such as masks, tests, other quarantine infrastructure etc.

Pft , Mar 9 2020 4:44 utc | 64
Sounds like US socialism. Basically corporate socialism. Loans are just dollars created out of thin air, same as in US. Insurance payouts come from premiums, nothing socialist about that, pure capitalism. Government hand outs to provinces, cities, state owned corporations,well all of these are run by the party elite, its called pork. US handed out a lot of pork during the last financial crisis. None of it trickled down to the little people. I doubt it does in China either.

All crisis are opportunities for the elite to get richer. Those Biolake firms in Wuhan will make out like bandits. Chinese firms will double the price of API's sold to India and US. China will knock out the small farmer in the wake of concurrent chicken and swine flu so the big enterprises take over, a mimicry of the US practice over the last century. China tech firms will double up on surveillance apps, censoring tools, surveillance and toughen up social credit restrictions. 5G will allow China to experiment with nanobots to monitor citizens health from afar (thanks to Harvards Dr Leiber).

Oh yes, socialism with Chinese characteristics is a technocratic capitalists dream. Thats why the West has never imposed sanctions on China since welcoming them to the global elites club. Sanctions are reserved for those with true socialism, especially those who preach equality and god forbid, democracy.

uncle tungsten , Mar 9 2020 8:35 utc | 83

CitizenX #57

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.


Don't forget the Russians.. They have to be to blame. See they just kept the price of oil low so now the rest of the world gets gas cheaper than the USA. The USA motorist now has to bail out the dopey frackers and shale oil ponzis.

Global envy will eat murica. Maybe they will just pull out all their troops and go home. ;)

[Mar 07, 2020] Joint Chiefs Chair Retires, Immediately Becomes Paid F-35 Cheerleader

Mar 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Joint Chiefs Chair Retires, Immediately Becomes Paid F-35 Cheerleader

Dunford defended the troubled plane and was rewarded with a Lockheed position within months of leaving the Pentagon. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford. Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

Jason Paladino

In 2015, things weren't looking great for the Marine Corps' F-35B fighter jet. Reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Department of Defense inspector general had found dozens of problems with the aircraft. Engine failures, software bugs, supply chain issues, and fundamental design flaws were making headlines. The program was becoming synonymous in the press with "boondoggle."

Lockheed Martin, the program's lead contractor, desperately needed a win.

Luckily for Lockheed, it had a powerful ally in the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph Dunford . Five years later, Dunford would be out of the service and ready to collect his first Lockheed Martin paycheck as a member of its board of directors.

Back in 2015, the F-35 program, already years behind schedule, faced a key program milestone. The goal was to have the F-35B ready for a planned July initial operational capability (IOC) declaration, a major step for the program, greenlighting the plane to be used in combat. The declaration is a sign that the aircraft is nearly ready for full deployment, that things are going well, that the contract, awarded in 2006, was finally producing a usable product. The ultimate decision was in Dunford's hands.

About a week before the declaration, some in the Pentagon expressed serious doubts about the aircraft. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a memo from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation that called foul on the test that was meant to demonstrate the ability of the F-35B to operate in realistic conditions.

Dunford, however, said he had " full confidence " in the aircraft's ability to support Marines in combat, despite the testing office's report stating that if the aircraft encountered enemies, it would need to " avoid threat engagement " -- in other words, to flee at the first sign of an enemy.

Ignoring the issues raised internally, Dunford signed off on the initial operational capability. Lockheed Martin was thrilled . "Fifty years from now, historians will look back on the success of the F-35 Program and point to Marine Corps IOC as the milestone that ushered in a new era in military aviation," the company said in a statement.

Lockheed's CEO was apparently elated, declaring it "send a strong message to everyone that this program is on track."

But problems continued to plague the "combat ready" aircraft in the months afterwards. And Dunford downplayed cost overruns and sang the aircraft's praises at a press event in 2017. When the moderator asked routine questions submitted by the audience (Will the aircraft continue as a program? Is it too expensive to maintain?), Dunford responded by calling the questions loaded and accusing the audience member of having an "agenda."

Retirement and a Reward

On September 30, 2019, Dunford, the military's highest ranked official, stepped down from his position as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He had served in the Marine Corps since 1977, working his way up to the highest tier of the armed services over 42 years.

Just four months and 11 days later, he joined the Pentagon's top contractor, Lockheed Martin, as a director on the board.

In announcing Dunford's hire, a January press release from Lockheed Martin quotes CEO Marillyn Hewson: "General Dunford's service to the nation at the highest levels of military leadership will bring valuable insight to our board."

Dunford's consistent cheerleading of the F-35 and his subsequent hiring at its manufacturer create the perception of a conflict of interest and raised the eyebrows of at least one former senior military official.

"Here he is having been an advocate for it, having pressed it, having pushed for it and now he's going to work for the company that makes the aircraft, that just, to me, stinks to high heavens," retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as special assistant to Colin Powell when he led the Joint Chiefs, told POGO.

Dunford's Rolodex of Pentagon decision-makers is valuable to defense contractors, and with just over four months to "cool off," many of those relationships will likely be intact.

Lockheed Martin was the top recipient of Department of Defense dollars in fiscal year 2019, taking in over $48 billion , according to government data. The company spent over $13 million lobbying the federal government in 2019, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Revolving Door Spins On

"I think anybody that gives out these big contracts should never ever, during their lifetime, be allowed to work for a defense company, for a company that makes that product," then-President-elect Donald Trump said in a December 2016 rally in Louisiana. "I don't know, it makes sense to me."

Fast forward more than three years and the revolving door is spinning right along, defense stocks are surging , and Lockheed Martin has arecord backlogof unfulfilled contracts . While Trump did issue an ethics executive order for his appointees, it did not include a lifetime ban on lobbying for contractors.

A POGO analysis of the post-government employment of retired chairs of the Joint Chiefs found that only four of the 19 people who previously held the position went immediately to work for a major defense contractor within two years after leaving the government. In addition to Dunford, Admiral William J. Crowe joined General Dynamics , General John Shalikashvili joined the boards of Boeing and L-3, and General Richard Myers joined the boards of Northrop Grumman and United Technologies Corp.

Former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs have many lucrative career opportunities that don't create conflicts, actual or implied. Retired General Martin Dempsey, who held the position before Dunford, went on to teach at Duke University and was elected chairman of USA Basketball. Admiral Michael Mullen, who preceded Dempsey, joined the board of General Motors and later telecom giant Sprint.

According to Wilkerson, then-Chairman Powell was conscious of the appearance of conflicts of interest and instilled in his employees a sensitivity.

Wilkerson recalled a conversation he had with Powell right after his retirement. "What's next, boss?" Wilkerson asked Powell. "Well, it'll not be some defense contractor or some beltway bandit. That practice is pernicious," he responded. Powell spoke to various members of Congress about their responsibility to rein in the practice, and tried to raise awareness of how widespread it was becoming, according to Wilkerson.

Current ethics laws include cooling off periods that limit a former government employee's job options. But a POGO study of the revolving door in 2018 found that current ethics regulations are insufficient, rely on self-reporting, and are full of loopholes. These cooling off periods range from a few years to a lifetime, depending on how much an individual was personally involved in the decisions to award contracts. This means top officials actually have fewer restrictions than contracting officers that were directly involved in the awards, even though they have more influence and likely more valuable connections. And the restrictions mostly prevent former officials from taking positions that involve representing or lobbying for a contractor, which is why there was no restriction on Dunford joining Lockheed's board.

The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told POGO that Dunford "has certain post-government employment restrictions," but wouldn't go into more detail. Dunford "at all times complied with his ethics obligations related to post-government employment," according to the emailed statement. POGO has filed Freedom of Information Act Requests to learn more about Dunford's ethical restrictions.

Additionally, enforcement of the regulations is rare, with only four former Pentagon employees prosecuted for violations in the past 16 years. It is impossible to know if the low frequency of prosecutions in the current system is due to inadequate enforcement or high compliance with lax laws.

Loading Boards with Political Influence

Since 2008, POGO found 42 senior defense officials "revolved" into Lockheed within two years of leaving the government.

The boards of the top five defense contractors all have at least two sitting former high-ranking military officials. General Dynamics and Raytheon had four each, Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop Grumman had two each.

The full number of revolvers is difficult to determine. POGO's database currently contains 408 individuals who either went to work directly with defense contractors that were awarded over $10 million that year or went to work with lobbying firms that list defense industry clients. The POGO database relies on open source information. Another study found that between 2009 and 2011, 70% of three and four-star generals and admirals who retired took gigs with defense contractors or consultancies.

A GAO study found that in 2006, about 86,000 military and civilian personnel who had left service since 2001 were employed by 52 major defense contractors. The study also found that 1,581 former senior officials were employed by just seven contractors. The office estimated that 422 former officials could have worked on contracts related to their former agencies.

From 25 Hearings in One Year, to None in 60 Years

This issue is far from new. In a 1959 alone, there were 25 hearings before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee for Special Investigations on the topic of the revolving door and its malign influences. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his famous farewell address warning of the military-industrial complex just two years later.

An analysis by POGO did not find a congressional hearing explicitly on the issue of the Pentagon revolving door in over 60 years.

There is some hope that the law will soon start to catch up. In May of last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced legislation that would impose a four-year ban on contactors hiring senior officials who managed that company's contracts, and extend existing bans. It would also require contractors to submit annual reports on the employment of former senior officials and would ban senior officials from owning stock in major defense contractors. Another bill , passed by the House in March 2019, would broaden ethics rules and expands prohibitions on former officials receiving compensation from contractors. It is sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk.

The American public should be able to be confident that our top military officials are making decisions in the interest of national security, not to secure a cushy board position.

Jason Paladino is the National Security Investigative Reporter for the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

[Mar 05, 2020] Here Is What Each Of The Pentagon's Air-Launched Missiles And Bombs Actually Cost by Joseph Trevithick

Notable quotes:
"... Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com ..."
Feb 18, 2020 | www.thedrive.com

... ... ...

What follows are the unit prices, rounded to the nearest dollar, that the various branches of the U.S. military expect to pay for various air-launched weapons in the 2021 Fiscal Year as they appear in the official budget documents. Air-to-Air Missiles: Air-to-Surface Missiles: Precision-Guided Bombs:

It's important to note that a number of air-launched munitions that are in active service across the U.S. military, such as the AGM-65E Maverick laser-guided missiles, AGM-154 Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles, and Paveway laser and multi-mode guidance kits for various types of bombs, are not mentioned above. This is because the services are not planning to buy new stocks of them in the 2021 Fiscal Year or they are included include broader sections of the budget where their exact unit cost is not readily apparent. There are requests for funds for sustainment of many of those weapons, as well as modifications and upgrades, too. The Navy is notably expecting to begin purchasing a powered derivative of the AGM-154, known as the JSOW-Extended Range (JSOW-ER), in the 2022 Fiscal Year.

Regardless, now, the next time you see a U.S. military combat aircraft, drone or helicopter, you'll have a head start figuring out just how much its loadout of bombs and missiles actually cost.

Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com

[Mar 04, 2020] Trump Slams 'SPOILER' Elizabeth Warren For Sinking Sanders

A pretty sharp political thinking from the President
Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

20 minutes later, Trump tweeted that it was " So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race ," as she has "Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly."

"So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!"

So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race. She has Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly. So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

Three hours later, Trump tweeted: " Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas , not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER! "

Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

[Mar 04, 2020] Why Are We Being Charged? Surprise Bills From Coronavirus Testing Spark Calls for Government to Cover All Costs by Jake Johnson

Highly recommended!
Notes of disaster capitalism in action...
Notable quotes:
"... The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions." ..."
"... Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up? ..."
"... In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital." ..."
"... Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China. ..."
"... Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays ..."
"... The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

"Huge surprise medical bills [are] going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone." by Jake Johnson, staff writer Public health advocates, experts, and others are demanding that the federal government cover coronavirus testing and all related costs after several reports detailed how Americans in recent weeks have been saddled with exorbitant bills following medical evaluations.

Sarah Kliff of the New York Times reported Saturday that Pennsylvania native Frank Wucinski "found a pile of medical bills" totaling $3,918 waiting for him and his three-year-old daughter after they were released from government-mandated quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.

"My question is why are we being charged for these stays, if they were mandatory and we had no choice in the matter?" asked Wucinski, who was evacuated by the U.S. government last month from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I assumed it was all being paid for," Wucinski told the Times . "We didn't have a choice. When the bills showed up, it was just a pit in my stomach, like, 'How do I pay for this?'"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not billing patients for coronavirus testing, according to Business Insider . "But there are other charges you might have to pay, depending on your insurance plan, or lack thereof," Business Insider noted. "A hospital stay in itself could be costly and you would likely have to pay for tests for other viruses or conditions."

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told the Times that

"the most important rule of public health is to gain the cooperation of the population."

"There are legal, moral, and public health reasons not to charge the patients,"

Gostin said.

Congress needs to immediately pass a bill appropriating funding to cover 100% of the cost of all coronavirus testing & care within the United States. We will not have a chance at containing it otherwise. @tedlieu - as my rep, can you please ensure this is brought up?

-- William LeGate (@williamlegate) March 2, 2020

In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that "the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital."

"An additional $90 in charges came from radiologists who read the patients' X-ray scans and do not work for the hospital," Kliff noted.

The CDC declined to respond when Kliff asked whether the federal government would cover the costs for patients like the Wucinskis.

The Intercept 's Robert Mackey wrote last Friday that the Wucinskis' situation spotlights "how the American government's response to a public health emergency, like trying to contain a potential coronavirus epidemic, could be handicapped by relying on a system built around private hospitals and for-profit health insurance providers."

We should be doing everything we can to encourage people with #COVIDー19 symptoms to come forward. Huge surprise medical bills is going to make sure people with symptoms don't get tested. That is bad for everyone, regardless of if you are insured. https://t.co/KOUKTSFVzD

-- Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) March 1, 2020

Play this tape to the end and you find people not going to the hospital even if they're really sick. The federal government needs to announce that they'll pay for all of these bills https://t.co/HfyBFBXhja

Last week, the Miami Herald reported that Osmel Martinez Azcue "received a notice from his insurance company about a claim for $3,270" after he visited a local hospital fearing that he contracted coronavirus during a work trip to China.

"He went to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he said he was placed in a closed-off room," according to the Herald . "Nurses in protective white suits sprayed some kind of disinfectant smoke under the door before entering, Azcue said. Then hospital staff members told him he'd need a CT scan to screen for coronavirus, but Azcue said he asked for a flu test first."

Azcue tested positive for the flu and was discharged. "Azcue's experience shows the potential cost of testing for a disease that epidemiologists fear may develop into a public health crisis in the U.S.," the Herald noted.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, highlighted Azcue's case in a tweet last Friday.

"The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together," Sanders wrote. "We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills. Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health."

Last week, as Common Dreams reported , Sanders argued that the coronavirus outbreak demonstrates the urgent need for Medicare for All.

The coronavirus reminds us that we are all in this together. We cannot allow Americans to skip doctor's visits over outrageous bills.

Everyone should get the medical care they need without opening their wallet -- as a matter of justice and public health. https://t.co/c4WQMDESHU

-- Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 28, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged by more than two dozen over the weekend, bringing the total to 89 as the Trump administration continues to publicly downplay the severity of the outbreak.

Dr. Matt McCarthy, a staff physician at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, said in an appearance on CNBC 's "Squawk Box" Monday morning that testing for the coronavirus is still not widely available.

"Before I came here this morning, I was in the emergency room seeing patients," McCarthy said. "I still do not have a rapid diagnostic test available to me."

"I'm here to tell you, right now, at one of the busiest hospitals in the country, I don't have it at my finger tips," added McCarthy. "I still have to make my case, plead to test people. This is not good. We know that there are 88 cases in the United States. There are going to be hundreds by middle of week. There's going to be thousands by next week. And this is a testing issue."

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.


Harry_Pjotr 13h

Did anyone expect the unconscionable greed of capitalism to cease when a public health crisis emerges? This is just testing for the virus, wait until a vaccine has been developed so expensive that the majority of the US populace can not afford it at all and people are dropping like flies. Wall Street, never-the-less, will continue to have its heydays

Smerl fern 12h

A wall street bank or private predator may own your emergency room. A surprise bill may await your emergency treatment above insurance payments or in some instances all of the bill.

An effort was made recently in congress to stop surprise billings but enough dems joined repubs to kill it. More important to keep campaign dollars flowing than keep people alive. fern Smerl 12h I know emergency rooms are being purchased by organizations like Tenet (because they are some of the most expensive levels of care) and M.D.s provided by large agencies. I'm not as up on this as I should be but a friend of mine tells me that some of this is illegal. I have received bills that were later discharged by challenge. This is worth investigating further. Atlas oldie 11h Hmmmm A virus that overwhelmingly kills the elderly and/or those with pre-exisitng conditions.

Sounds like a medical insurance companies wet dream. As well as .gov social security/medicare wet dream.

Just sayin'

Ticki 11h

The very idea that the defense and "Homeland" security budgets are bloated and additional funding approved year after year but the citizens of this country are not afforded 100% health coverage In a time of global health crisis that could become a pandemic. And as has been stated, the unconscionable idea suggested that a possible vaccine (a long way away or perhaps not developed at all) might not be affordable to the workers who pay the taxes that fund the government? That's insane.

leftonadoorstep 11h

Another example of "American Exceptionalism." China doesn't charge its coronavirus patients, neither does South Korea. I guess they are simply backward countries.

Barton 11h

I own my own home after years of hard work paying it off. It's the only thing of value, besides my old truck, that I have. If I get the virus, I will stay home and try to treat it the best I can. I can't afford to go to the hospital and pay thousands in medical bills, with the chance that they'll come after my possessions. America, the land of the _______. Fill in the blank. (Hint: it's no longer free).

fern 1 Barton 11h

There are other ways to protect your home. Homesteading or living trust. I'm not good at this but I know there are ways to do it. Hopefully, it would never come to that but outcomes are not certain even with treatment in this case.

Giovanna-Lepore oldie 11h

As someone who lost a mother at 5 years old I can sympathize with your grief in losing a daughter-in-law and especially seeing her four children orphaned. However, I think you miss the point here: This is about we becoming a society invested in each others welfare and not a company town that commodifies everything including the health and well being of us all.

fern 1 Giovanna-Lepore 11h

I'm going by: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1129/text

As a revision it is better but flawed. It is a cost containment bill based on the same research as the republican plan with global budgets and block grants.

Edited: I encourage you to read this:
-ttps://www.rand.org/blog/2018/10/misconceptions-about-medicare-for-all.html Giovanna-Lepore 10h oldie:

Part D

Higher education is not free but they do need to become free for the students and payed by us as a society.

Part D is a scam, a Republican scam also supported by corporate democrats because of its profit motive and its privatization

Medicare only covers 80% and does not cover eye and dental care and older folks especially need these services. Medicaid helps but there are limits and one cannot necessarily use it where one needs to go. Expanded, Improved Medicare For All is a vast improvement. because it covers everyone in one big pool and, therefore, much more dignified than the rob Paul to pay peter system we have.

Social Security too can be improved. Why should it simply be based on the income of the person which means that a person working in a low paying job in a capitalist system gone wild with greed will often work until they die.

Pell grants can be eliminated when we have what the French have: publicly supported education for everyone.

The demise of unions certainly did not help but it was part of the long strategy of the Right to privatize everything to the enrichment of the few.

Yunzer SuspiraDeProfundis 10h

Thank goodness for the "/s". Poe's Law you know

The overall competence that Canada is handling this outbreak, compared to the USA, is stark. First world (Canada) versus third-world (USA). Testing is practically available for free, to any suspect person, sick or not, as Toronto alone can run 1000 tests a day and have results in 4 hours. That is far more than all the US's capacity for 330 million people.

I wonder how long before Canada closes its borders to USAns? Me and my wife (both in a vulnerable age/medical group) should seriously consider fleeing to my brother's place in Toronto as the first announced cases in Pittsburgh are probably only days away. What about our poor cat though? We could try to smuggle her across the border, but she is a loud and talkative kitty

Greenwich 10h

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media. Did get this from my NJ Sen. Menendez –

Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC)

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • For more information : htps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
  • How it spreads : The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. [Read more.]
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html )
  • Symptoms : For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Seeker 9h Greenwich:

Don't want to discourage anyone from any protective measures – but the "low down" from my veggie store today was that a lot of health professionals shop there and they think it's being hyped by media.

I agree it is being hyped by the media to the point of being fear mongering. At the same time it is being ignored by the administration to such an extent that really little almost nothing is being done. At some point the two together will create an even bigger problem.

It is like the old adage: "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Each over/under reach in considering the reality of the situation has its own problem, which multiply when combined. Every morning when I wake up I say a little atheistic prayer to myself before I get out of bed: "Another day and for better or worse...".

Seeker 8h

Well, two reported here in Florida tonight. One in my county, one in the county next door. And more of the "we already knew, but told you late". One person checked into the hospital on Wednesday. We hear it Monday night. Both were ignored far a long time it seems, and 84 in particular are being watched (roommates, friends, hospital workers not alerted for several days, the usual). But no one knows every place they had been since becoming infected.

Oh, and they have tested a handful of people. No worry?

I can't see anyway that this level of incompetency is an accident. Spring break is just starting usually a 100's of thousand tourist bonanza.

So the question is do they want to kill us, or just keep us in fear?

I think the later. But the end result is a crap shoot. So once again, it is a gamble with our lives.

Archie1954 7h

The business of America is business. Sometimes that can go too far and this is one of those times. Making money from the loss, distress, harm and suffering of others is perverse beyond belief.

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Mar 03, 2020] Neoliberals curse

Mar 03, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

It took a rabid nationalist like Donald Trump to end the war in Afghanistan , whereas faithful neoliberal Barack Obama kept the war around because it provided "markets" for weapons corporations.

[Mar 02, 2020] Truthdig

Mar 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Feb 24, 2020 Print Bookmark Opinion | TD originals The Zionist Colonization of Palestine comments

Mr. Fish / Truthdig
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the product of ancient ethnic hatreds. It is the tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same land. It is a manufactured conflict, the outcome of a 100-year-old colonial occupation by Zionists and later Israel, backed by the British, the United States and other major imperial powers. This project is about the ongoing seizure of Palestinian land by the colonizers. It is about the rendering of the Palestinians as non-people, writing them out of the historical narrative as if they never existed and denying them basic human rights. Yet to state these incontrovertible facts of Jewish colonization -- supported by innumerable official reports and public and private communiques and statements, along with historical records and events -- sees Israel's defenders level charges of anti-Semitism and racism.

Rashid Khalidi , the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, in his book " The Hundred Years' War on Palestine : A History of Settler Colonization and Resistance, 1917-2017" has meticulously documented this long project of colonization of Palestine. His exhaustive research, which includes internal, private communications between the early Zionists and Israeli leadership, leaves no doubt that the Jewish colonizers were acutely aware from the start that the Palestinian people had to be subjugated and removed to create the Jewish state. The Jewish leadership was also acutely aware that its intentions had to be masked behind euphemisms, the patina of biblical legitimacy by Jews to a land that had been Muslim since the seventh century, platitudes about human and democratic rights, the supposed benefits of colonization to the colonized and a mendacious call for democracy and peaceful co-existence with those targeted for destruction.

"This is a unique colonialism that we've been subjected to where they have no use for us," Khalidi quotes Said as having written. "The best Palestinian for them," Said wrote, "is either dead or gone. It's not that they want to exploit us, or that they need to keep us there in the way of Algeria or South Africa as a subclass."

Zionism was birthed from the evils of anti-Semitism. It was a response to the discrimination and violence inflicted on Jews, especially during the savage pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and early 20th century that left thousands dead. The Zionist leader Theodor Herzl in 1896 published "Der Judenstaat," or "The Jewish State," in which he warned that Jews were not safe in Europe, a warning that within a few decades proved terrifyingly prescient with the rise of German fascism.

Britain's support of a Jewish homeland was always colored by anti-Semitism. The 1917 decision by the British Cabinet, as stated in the Balfour Declaration , to support "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" was a principal part of a misguided endeavor based on anti-Semitic tropes. It was undertaken by the ruling British elites to unite "international Jewry" -- including officials of Jewish descent in senior positions in the new Bolshevik state in Russia -- behind Britain's flagging military campaign in World War I. The British leaders were convinced that Jews secretly controlled the U.S. financial system. American Jews, once promised a homeland in Palestine, would, they thought, bring the United States into the war and help finance the war effort. To add to these bizarre anti-Semitic canards, the British believed that Jews and Dönmes -- or "crypto-Jews" whose ancestors had converted to Christianity but who continued to practice the rituals of Judaism in secret -- controlled the Turkish government. If the Zionists were given a homeland in Palestine, the British believed, the Jews and Dönmes would turn on the Turkish regime, which was allied with Germany in the war, and the Turkish government would collapse. World Jewry, the British were convinced, was the key to winning the war.

"With 'Great Jewry' against us," warned Britain's Sir Mark Sykes , who with the French diplomat François Georges-Picot created the secret treaty that carved up the Ottoman Empire between Britain and France, there would be no possibility of victory. Zionism, Sykes said, was a powerful global subterranean force that was "atmospheric, international, cosmopolitan, subconscious and unwritten, nay often unspoken."

The British elites, including Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour , also believed that Jews could never be assimilated in British society and it was better for them to emigrate. It is telling that the only Jewish member of Prime Minister David Lloyd George's government, Edwin Montagu, vehemently opposed the Balfour Declaration. He argued that it would encourage states to expel its Jews. "Palestine will become the world's ghetto," he warned.

This turned out to be the case after World War II when hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, many rendered stateless, had nowhere to go but Palestine. Often, their communities had been destroyed during the war or their homes and land had been confiscated. Those Jews who returned to countries like Poland found they had nowhere to live and were often victims of discrimination as well as postwar anti-Semitic attacks and even massacres.

The European powers dealt with the Jewish refugee crisis by shipping victims of the Holocaust to the Middle East. So, while leading Zionists understood that they had to uproot and displace Arabs to establish a homeland, they were also acutely aware that they were not wanted in the countries from which they had fled or been expelled. The Zionists and their supporters may have mouthed slogans such as "a land without a people for a people without a land" in speaking of Palestine, but, as the political philosopher Hannah Arendt observed, European powers were attempting to deal with the crime carried out against Jews in Europe by committing another crime, one against Palestinians. It was a recipe for endless conflict, especially since giving the Palestinians under occupation full democratic rights would risk loss of control of Israel by the Jews.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the godfather of the right-wing ideology that has dominated Israel since 1977, an ideology openly embraced by Prime Ministers Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote bluntly in 1923: "Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of 'Palestine' into the 'Land of Israel.' "

This kind of public honesty, Khalidi notes, was rare among leading Zionists. Most of the Zionist leaders "protested the innocent purity of their aims and deceived their Western listeners, and perhaps themselves, with fairy tales about their benign intentions toward the Arab inhabitants of Palestine," he writes. The Zionists -- in a situation similar to that of today's supporters of Israel -- were aware it would be fatal to acknowledge that the creation of a Jewish homeland required the expulsion of the Arab majority. Such an admission would cause the colonizers to lose the world's sympathy. But among themselves the Zionists clearly understood that the use of armed force against the Arab majority was essential for the colonial project to succeed. "Zionist colonization can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population -- behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach," Jabotinsky wrote.

The Jewish colonizers knew they needed an imperial patron to succeed and survive. Their first patron was Britain, which sent 100,000 troops to crush the Palestinian revolt of the 1930s and armed and trained Jewish militias known as the Haganah. The savage repression of that revolt included wholesale executions and aerial bombardment and left 10% of the adult male Arab population killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled. The Zionists' second patron became the United States, which now, generations later, provides more than $3 billion a year to Israel. Israel, despite the myth of self-reliance it peddles about itself, would not be able to maintain its Palestinian colonies but for its imperial benefactors. This is why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement frightens Israel. It is also why I support the BDS movement.

The early Zionists bought up huge tracts of fertile Palestinian land and drove out the indigenous inhabitants. They subsidized European Jewish settlers sent to Palestine, where 94% of the inhabitants were Arabs. They created organizations such as the Jewish Colonization Association, later called the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association, to administer the Zionist project.

But, as Khalidi writes, "once colonialism took on a bad odor in the post-World War II era of decolonization, the colonial origins and practice of Zionism and Israel were whitewashed and conveniently forgotten in Israel and the West. In fact, Zionism -- for two decades the coddled step-child of British colonialism -- rebranded itself as an anticolonial movement."

"Today, the conflict that was engendered by this classic nineteenth-century European colonial venture in a non-European land, supported from 1917 onward by the greatest Western imperial power of its age, is rarely described in such unvarnished terms," Khalidi writes. "Indeed, those who analyze not only Israeli settlement efforts in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, but the entire Zionist enterprise from the perspective of its colonial settler origins and nature are often vilified. Many cannot accept the contradiction inherent in the idea that although Zionism undoubtedly succeeded in creating a thriving national entity in Israel, its roots are as a colonial settler project (as are those of other modern countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). Nor can they accept that it would not have succeeded but for the support of the great imperial powers, Britain and later the United States. Zionism, therefore, could be and was both a national and a colonial settler movement at one and the same time."

One of the central tenets of the Zionist and Israeli colonization is the denial of an authentic, independent Palestinian identity. During the British control of Palestine, the population was officially divided between Jews and "non-Jews." "There were no such thing as Palestinians they did not exist," onetime Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir quipped. This erasure, which requires an egregious act of historical amnesia, is what the Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called the "politicide" of the Palestinian people. Khalidi writes, "The surest way to eradicate a people's right to their land is to deny their historical connection to it."

The creation of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948, was achieved by the Haganah and other Jewish groups through the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and massacres that spread terror among the Palestinian population. The Haganah, trained and armed by the British, swiftly seized most of Palestine. It emptied West Jerusalem and cities such as Haifa and Jaffa, along with numerous towns and villages, of their Arab inhabitants. Palestinians call this moment in their history the Nakba, or the Catastrophe.

"By the summer of 1949, the Palestinian polity had been devastated and most of its society uprooted," Khalidi writes. "Some 80 percent of the Arab population of the territory that at war's end became the new state of Israel had been forced from their homes and lost their lands and property. At least 720,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinians were made refugees. Thanks to this violent transformation, Israel controlled 78 percent of the territory of former Mandatory Palestine, and now ruled over the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who had been able to remain, barely one-fifth of the prewar Arab population."

Since 1948, Palestinians have heroically mounted one resistance effort after another, all unleashing disproportionate Israeli reprisals and a demonization of the Palestinians as terrorists. But this resistance has also forced the world to recognize the presence of Palestinians, despite the feverish efforts of Israel, the United States and many Arab regimes to remove them from historical consciousness. The repeated revolts, as Said noted, gave the Palestinians the right to tell their own story, the "permission to narrate."

The colonial project has poisoned Israel, as feared by its most prescient leaders, including Moshe Dayan and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish extremist in 1995. Israel is an apartheid state that rivals and often surpasses the onetime savagery and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy -- which was always exclusively for Jews -- has been hijacked by extremists, including current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have implemented racial laws that were once championed mainly by marginalized fanatics such as Meir Kahane . The Israeli public is infected with racism. "Death to Arabs" is a popular chant at Israeli soccer matches. Jewish mobs and vigilantes, including thugs from right-wing youth groups such as Im Tirtzu, carry out indiscriminate acts of vandalism and violence against dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and the hapless African immigrants who live crammed into the slums of Tel Aviv. Israel has promulgated a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that eerily resemble the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The Communities Acceptance Law permits exclusively Jewish towns in Israel's Galilee region to bar applicants for residency on the basis of "suitability to the community's fundamental outlook." The late Uri Avnery, a left-wing politician and journalist, wrote that "Israel's very existence is threatened by fascism."

In recent years, up to 1 million Israelis have left to live in the United States , many of them among Israel's most enlightened and educated citizens. Within Israel, human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists -- Israeli and Palestinian -- have found themselves vilified as traitors in government-sponsored smear campaigns, placed under state surveillance and subjected to arbitrary arrests. The Israeli educational system, starting in primary school, is an indoctrination machine for the military. The Israeli army periodically unleashes massive assaults with its air force, artillery and mechanized units on the largely defenseless 1.85 million Palestinians in Gaza, resulting in thousands of Palestinian dead and wounded. Israel runs the Saharonim detention camp in the Negev Desert, one of the largest detention centers in the world, where African immigrants can be held for up to three years without trial.

The great Jewish scholar Yeshayahu Leibowitz, whom Isaiah Berlin called "the conscience of Israel," saw the mortal danger to Israel of its colonial project. He warned that if Israel did not separate church and state and end its colonial occupation of the Palestinians it would give rise to a corrupt rabbinate that would warp Judaism into a fascistic cult. "Religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism," said Leibowitz, who died in 1994. He saw that the blind veneration of the military, especially after the 1967 war in which Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, would result in the degeneration of the Jewish society and the death of democracy.

"Our situation will deteriorate to that of a second Vietnam [a reference to the war waged by the United States in the 1970s], to a war in constant escalation without prospect of ultimate resolution," Leibowitz wrote. He foresaw that "the Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police -- mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 million to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would have to suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people's army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations."

The Zionists could never have colonized the Palestinians without the backing of Western imperial powers whose motives were tainted by anti-Semitism. Many of the Jews who fled to Israel would not have done so but for the virulent European anti-Semitism that by the end of World War II saw 6 million Jews murdered. Israel was all that many impoverished and stateless survivors, robbed of their national rights, communities, homes and often most of their relatives, had left. It became the tragic fate of the Palestinians, who had no role in the European pogroms or the Holocaust, to be sacrificed on the altar of hate.

[Mar 02, 2020] It appears the US-Taliban interim peace arrangement has hit a snag:

Mar 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Mar 1 2020 20:58 utc | 30

appears the US-Taliban interim peace arrangement has hit a snag:

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejects Taliban prisoner release under U.S deal


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected on Sunday a Taliban demand for the release of 5,000 prisoners as a condition for talks with Afghanistan's government and civilians – included in a deal between the United States and the Islamist militants.

"The government of Afghanistan has made no commitment to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told reporters in Kabul, a day after the deal was signed in Qatar to start a political settlement aimed at ending the United States' longest war.[.]

was the Afghan government not a party to the negotiations? Strange!

[Mar 02, 2020] The myth of the mujaheddin victory over the Soviets

It was a stalemate, in which Afghan government held power over central towns and mujahidins over part of provinces. Neither can defeat each other. This stalemate was ruptured by the collapse of the USSR.
Mar 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Ghost Ship , Mar 1 2020 18:54 utc | 17
Afghanistan
Now that the Americans have been defeated in Afghanistan perhaps they'll go back with a more critical eye to look at what happened in the Afghan-Soviet war against the mujaheddin. The Soviet Union decided to withdraw because it had reached a stalemate but the communist government managed to soldier on for three more years, and it was the collapse of the Soviet Union for financial reasons that resulted in funds being cutoff to the communist government that in turn led to the collapse of the government, so the Soviet Union was not brought down/defeated by the mujaheddin.
Will coronavirus lead to the collapse of the Washington establishment? I don't know if it will but the descendants of the mujaheddin will no doubt claim responsibility for the defeat of the United States if it occurs.
Yet again, Washington demonstrates that it doesn't really understand war.

[Mar 01, 2020] Countering Nationalist Oligarchy by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
The article is mostly junk. But it contains some important insights into the rise of Trympism (aka "national neoliberalism") -- nationalist oligarchy. Including the following " the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist."
The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change. The real threat to liberal democracy isn't authoritarianism -- it's nationalist oligarchy. Here's how American foreign policy should change.
Notable quotes:
"... Fascism: A Warning ..."
"... Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America ..."
"... the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist. ..."
"... The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy ..."
"... Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them. ..."
"... Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. ..."
"... Classical Greek Oligarchy ..."
"... Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." ..."
"... We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. ..."
"... The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship. ..."
"... The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars ..."
"... The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic ..."
Dec 31, 2019 | democracyjournal.org
from Winter 2019, No. 51 – 31 MIN READ

Tagged Authoritarianism Democracy Foreign Policy Government nationalism oligarchy

Ever since the 2016 election, foreign policy commentators and practitioners have been engaged in a series of soul-searching exercises to understand the great transformations taking place in the world -- and to articulate a framework appropriate to the challenges of our time. Some have looked backwards, arguing that the liberal international order is collapsing, while others question whether it ever existed. Another group seems to hope the current messiness is simply a blip and that foreign policy will return to normalcy after it passes. Perhaps the most prominent group has identified today's great threat as the rise of authoritarianism, autocracy, and illiberal democracy. They fear that constitutional democracy is receding as norms are broken and institutions are under siege.

Unfortunately, this approach misunderstands the nature of the current crisis. The challenge we face today is not one of authoritarianism, as so many seem inclined to believe, but of nationalist oligarchy. This form of government feeds populism to the people, delivers special privileges to the rich and well-connected, and rigs politics to sustain its regime.

... ... ..

Authoritarianism or What?

Across the political spectrum, commentators and scholars have identified -- and warned of -- the global rise of autocracies and authoritarian governments. They cite Russia, Hungary, the Philippines, and Turkey, among others. Distinguished commentators are increasingly worried. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently published a book called Fascism: A Warning . Cass Sunstein gathered a variety of scholars for a collection titled, Can it Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America .

The authoritarian lens is familiar from the heroic narrative of democracy defeating autocracies in the twentieth century. But as a framework for understanding today's central geopolitical challenges, it is far too narrow. This is mainly because those who are worried about the rise of authoritarianism and the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics. Their emphasis is almost exclusively political and constitutional -- free speech, voting rights, equal treatment for minorities, independent courts, and the like. But politics and economics cannot be dissociated from each other, and neither are autonomous from social and cultural factors. Statesmen and philosophers used to call this "political economy." Political economy looks at economic and political relationships in concert, and it is attentive to how power is exercised. If authoritarianism is the future, there must be a story of its political economy -- how it uses politics and economics to gain and hold power. Yet the rise-of-authoritarianism theorists have less to say about these dynamics.

To be sure, many commentators have discussed populist movements throughout Europe and America, and there has been no shortage of debate on the extent to which a generation of widening economic inequality has been a contributing factor in their rise. But whatever the causes of popular discontent, the policy preferences of the people, and the bloviating rhetoric of leaders, the governments that have emerged from the new populist moment are, to date, not actually pursuing policies that are economically populist.

The better and more useful way to view these regimes -- and the threat to democracy emerging at home and abroad because of them -- is as nationalist oligarchies. Oligarchy means rule by a small number of rich people. In an oligarchy, wealthy elites seek to preserve and extend their wealth and power. In his definitive book titled Oligarchy , Jeffrey Winters calls it "wealth defense." Elites engage in "property defense," protecting what they already have, and "income defense," preserving and extending their ability to hoard more. Importantly, oligarchy as a governing strategy accounts for both politics and economics. Oligarchs use economic power to gain and hold political power and, in turn, use politics to expand their economic power.

Those who worry about the rise of authoritarianism and fear the crisis of democracy are insufficiently focused on economics.

The trouble for oligarchs is that their regime involves rule by a small number of wealthy elites. In even a nominally democratic society, and most countries around the world today are at least that, it should be possible for the much larger majority to overthrow the oligarchy with either the ballot or the bullet. So how can oligarchy persist? This is where both nationalism and authoritarianism come into play. Oligarchies remain in power through two strategies: first, using divide-and-conquer tactics to ensure that a majority doesn't coalesce, and second, by rigging the political system to make it harder for any emerging majority to overthrow them.

The divide-and-conquer strategy is an old one, and it works through a combination of coercion and co-optation. Nationalism -- whether statist, ethnic, religious, or racial -- serves both functions. It aligns a portion of ordinary people with the ruling oligarchy, mobilizing them to support the regime and sacrifice for it. At the same time, it divides society, ensuring that the nationalism-inspired will not join forces with everyone else to overthrow the oligarchs. We thus see fearmongering about minorities and immigrants, and claims that the country belongs only to its "true" people, whom the leaders represent. Activating these emotional, cultural, and political identities makes it harder for citizens in the country to unite across these divides and challenge the regime.

Rigging the system is, in some ways, a more obvious tactic. It means changing the legal rules of the game or shaping the political marketplace to preserve power. Voting restrictions and suppression, gerrymandering, and manipulation of the media are examples. The common theme is that they insulate the minority in power from democracy; they prevent the population from kicking the rulers out through ordinary political means. Tactics like these are not new. They have existed, as Matthew Simonton shows in his book Classical Greek Oligarchy , since at least the time of Pericles and Plato. The consequence, then as now, is that nationalist oligarchies can continue to deliver economic policies to benefit the wealthy and well-connected.

It is worth noting that even the generation that waged war against fascism in Europe understood that the challenge to democracy in their time was not just political, but economic and social as well. They believed that the rise of Nazism was tied to the concentration of economic power in Germany, and that cartels and monopolies not only cooperated with and served the Nazi state, but helped its rise and later sustained it. As New York Congressman Emanuel Celler, one of the authors of the Anti-Merger Act of 1950, said, quoting a report filed by Secretary of War Kenneth Royall, "Germany under the Nazi set-up built up a great series of industrial monopolies in steel, rubber, coal and other materials. The monopolies soon got control of Germany, brought Hitler to power, and forced virtually the whole world into war." After World War II, Marshall Plan experts not only rebuilt Europe but also exported aggressive American antitrust and competition laws to the continent because they believed political democracy was impossible without economic democracy.

Framing today's threat as nationalist oligarchy not only clarifies the challenge but also makes clear how democracy is different -- and what democracy requires. Democracy means more than elections, an independent judiciary, a free press, and various constitutional norms. For democracy to persist, there must also be relative economic equality. If society is deeply unequal economically, the wealthy will dominate politics and transform democracy into an oligarchy. And there must be some degree of social solidarity because, as Lincoln put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

We see a number of disturbing signs the United States is breaking down along these dimensions. Electoral losers in places like North Carolina seek to entrench their power rather than accept defeat. The view that money is speech under the First Amendment has unleashed wealthy individuals and corporations to spend as much as they want to influence politics. The "doom loop of oligarchy," as Ezra Klein has called it, is an obvious consequence: The wealthy use their money to influence politics and rig policy to increase their wealth, which in turn increases their capacity to influence politics. Meanwhile, we're increasingly divided into like-minded enclaves, and the result is an ever-more toxic degree of partisanship.

Addressing our domestic economic and social crises is critical to defending democracy, and a grand strategy for America's future must incorporate both domestic and foreign policy. But while many have recognized that reviving America's middle class and re-stitching our social fabric are essential to saving democracy, less attention has been paid to how American foreign policy should be reformed in order to defend democracy from the threat of nationalist oligarchy.

The Varieties of Nationalist Oligarchy

Just as there are many variations on liberal democracy -- the Swedish model, the French model, the American model -- there are many varieties of nationalist oligarchy. The story is different in every country, but the elements of nationalist oligarchy are trending all over the world.

... ... ...

... the European Union funds Hungary's oligarchy, as Orbán draws on EU money to fund about 60 percent of the state projects that support "the new Fidesz-linked business elite." Nor do Orbán and his allies do much to hide the country's crony capitalist model. András Lánczi, president of a Fidesz-affiliated think tank, has boldly stated that "if something is done in the national interest, then it is not corruption." "The new capitalist ruling class," one Hungarian banker comments, "make their money from the government."

The commentator Jan-Werner Müller captures Orbán's Hungary this way: "Power is secured through wide-ranging control of the judiciary and the media; behind much talk of protecting hard-pressed families from multinational corporations, there is crony capitalism, in which one has to be on the right side politically to get ahead economically."

Crony capitalism, coupled with resurgent nationalism and central government control, is also an issue in China. While some commentators have emphasized "state capitalism" -- when government has a significant ownership stake in companies -- this phenomenon is not to be confused with crony capitalism. Some countries with state capitalism, like Norway, are widely seen as extremely non-corrupt and, indeed, are often held up as models of democracy. State capitalism itself is thus not necessarily a problem. Crony capitalism, in contrast, is an "instrumental union between capitalists and politicians designed to allow the former to acquire wealth, legally or otherwise, and the latter to seek and retain power." This is the key difference between state capitalism and oligarchy.

... ... ...

Ganesh Sitaraman is a professor of law and Chancellor's faculty fellow at Vanderbilt Law School, and the author of The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens our Republic .

[Mar 01, 2020] Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

Notable quotes:
"... Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss? ..."
"... The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

fajensen , , January 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

Gina Haspel? She is probably equally good with a handgun, an ice pick and a pair of pliers.

curious euro , , January 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

Is she effective? What has she done to make her a spy mastermind? She is obviously a torturer, but is that a qualification in any way useful to be a intelligence agency boss?

I have the suspicion Haspel was elevated to their office by threatening "I know where all the bodies are buried (literally) and if you don't make me boss, I will tell". Blackmail can helping a career lots if successful.

Thuto , , January 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

The outcomes of incompetence and malicious intent are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. With the people Trump has surrounded himself with, horrible, nasty outcomes are par for the course because these guys are both incompetent and chock full of malicious intent. Instead of draining the swamp, he's gone and filled it with psychotic sociopaths.

[Feb 29, 2020] Secret Wars, Forgotten Betrayals, Global Tyranny. Who s Really In Charge Of The US Military by Cynthia Chung

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Thus, it should be no surprise to anyone in the world at this point in history, that the CIA holds no allegiance to any country. And it can be hardly expected that a President, who is actively under attack from all sides within his own country, is in a position to hold the CIA accountable for its past and future crimes ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

"There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history, fully unfold."

– William Shakespeare

Once again we find ourselves in a situation of crisis, where the entire world holds its breath all at once and can only wait to see whether this volatile black cloud floating amongst us will breakout into a thunderstorm of nuclear war or harmlessly pass us by. The majority in the world seem to have the impression that this destructive fate totters back and forth at the whim of one man. It is only normal then, that during such times of crisis, we find ourselves trying to analyze and predict the thoughts and motives of just this one person. The assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen and undeniably an essential key figure in combating terrorism in Southwest Asia, was a terrible crime, an abhorrently repugnant provocation. It was meant to cause an apoplectic fervour, it was meant to make us who desire peace, lose our minds in indignation. And therefore, that is exactly what we should not do.

In order to assess such situations, we cannot lose sight of the whole picture, and righteous indignation unfortunately causes the opposite to occur. Our focus becomes narrower and narrower to the point where we can only see or react moment to moment with what is right in front of our face. We are reduced to an obsession of twitter feeds, news blips and the doublespeak of 'official government statements'.

Thus, before we may find firm ground to stand on regarding the situation of today, we must first have an understanding as to what caused the United States to enter into an endless campaign of regime-change warfare after WWII, or as former Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Col. Prouty stated, three decades of the Indochina war.

An Internal Shifting of Chess Pieces in the Shadows

It is interesting timing that on Sept 2, 1945, the very day that WWII ended, Ho Chi Minh would announce the independence of Indochina. That on the very day that one of the most destructive wars to ever occur in history ended, another long war was declared at its doorstep. Churchill would announce his "Iron Curtain" against communism on March 5th, 1946, and there was no turning back at that point. The world had a mere 6 months to recover before it would be embroiled in another terrible war, except for the French, who would go to war against the Viet Minh opponents in French Indochina only days after WWII was over.

In a previous paper I wrote titled "On Churchill's Sinews of Peace" , I went over a major re-organisation of the American government and its foreign intelligence bureau on the onset of Truman's de facto presidency. Recall that there was an attempted military coup d'état, which was exposed by General Butler in a public address in 1933, against the Presidency of FDR who was only inaugurated that year. One could say that there was a very marked disapproval from shadowy corners for how Roosevelt would organise the government.

One key element to this reorganisation under Truman was the dismantling of the previously existing foreign intelligence bureau that was formed by FDR, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on Sept 20, 1945 only two weeks after WWII was officially declared over. The OSS would be replaced by the CIA officially on Sept 18, 1947, with two years of an American intelligence purge and the internal shifting of chess pieces in the shadows. In addition, de-facto President Truman would also found the United States National Security Council on Sept 18, 1947, the same day he founded the CIA. The NSC was a council whose intended function was to serve as the President's principal arm for coordinating national security, foreign policies and policies among various government agencies.

In Col. Prouty's book he states,

" In 1955, I was designated to establish an office of special operations in compliance with National Security Council (NSC) Directive #5412 of March 15, 1954. This NSC Directive for the first time in the history of the United States defined covert operations and assigned that role to the Central Intelligence Agency to perform such missions , provided they had been directed to do so by the NSC, and further ordered active-duty Armed Forces personnel to avoid such operations. At the same time, the Armed Forces were directed to "provide the military support of the clandestine operations of the CIA" as an official function . "

What this meant, was that there was to be an intermarriage of the foreign intelligence bureau with the military, and that the foreign intelligence bureau would act as top dog in the relationship, only taking orders from the NSC. Though the NSC includes the President, as we will see, the President is very far from being in the position of determining the NSC's policies.

An Inheritance of Secret Wars

" There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare. "

– Sun Tzu

On January 20th, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States. Along with inheriting the responsibility of the welfare of the country and its people, he was to also inherit a secret war with communist Cuba run by the CIA.

JFK was disliked from the onset by the CIA and certain corridors of the Pentagon, they knew where he stood on foreign matters and that it would be in direct conflict for what they had been working towards for nearly 15 years. Kennedy would inherit the CIA secret operation against Cuba, which Prouty confirms in his book, was quietly upgraded by the CIA from the Eisenhower administration's March 1960 approval of a modest Cuban-exile support program (which included small air drop and over-the-beach operations) to a 3,000 man invasion brigade just before Kennedy entered office.

This was a massive change in plans that was determined by neither President Eisenhower, who warned at the end of his term of the military industrial complex as a loose cannon, nor President Kennedy, but rather the foreign intelligence bureau who has never been subject to election or judgement by the people. It shows the level of hostility that Kennedy encountered as soon as he entered office, and the limitations of a President's power when he does not hold support from these intelligence and military quarters.

Within three months into JFK's term, Operation Bay of Pigs (April 17th to 20th 1961) was scheduled. As the popular revisionist history goes; JFK refused to provide air cover for the exiled Cuban brigade and the land invasion was a calamitous failure and a decisive victory for Castro's Cuba. It was indeed an embarrassment for President Kennedy who had to take public responsibility for the failure, however, it was not an embarrassment because of his questionable competence as a leader. It was an embarrassment because, had he not taken public responsibility, he would have had to explain the real reason why it failed. That the CIA and military were against him and that he did not have control over them. If Kennedy were to admit such a thing, he would have lost all credibility as a President in his own country and internationally, and would have put the people of the United States in immediate danger amidst a Cold War.

What really occurred was that there was a cancellation of the essential pre-dawn airstrike, by the Cuban Exile Brigade bombers from Nicaragua, to destroy Castro's last three combat jets. This airstrike was ordered by Kennedy himself. Kennedy was always against an American invasion of Cuba, and striking Castro's last jets by the Cuban Exile Brigade would have limited Castro's threat, without the U.S. directly supporting a regime change operation within Cuba. This went fully against the CIA's plan for Cuba.

Kennedy's order for the airstrike on Castro's jets would be cancelled by Special Assistant for National Security Affairs McGeorge Bundy, four hours before the Exile Brigade's B-26s were to take off from Nicaragua, Kennedy was not brought into this decision. In addition, the Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, the man in charge of the Bay of Pigs operation was unbelievably out of the country on the day of the landings.

Col. Prouty, who was Chief of Special Operations during this time, elaborates on this situation:

" Everyone connected with the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion knew that the policy dictated by NSC 5412, positively prohibited the utilization of active-duty military personnel in covert operations. At no time was an "air cover" position written into the official invasion plan The "air cover" story that has been created is incorrect. "

As a result, JFK who well understood the source of this fiasco, set up a Cuban Study Group the day after and charged it with the responsibility of determining the cause for the failure of the operation. The study group, consisting of Allen Dulles, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Attorney General Robert Kennedy (the only member JFK could trust), concluded that the failure was due to Bundy's telephone call to General Cabell (who was also CIA Deputy Director) that cancelled the President's air strike order.

Kennedy had them.

Humiliatingly, CIA Director Allen Dulles was part of formulating the conclusion that the Bay of Pigs op was a failure because of the CIA's intervention into the President's orders. This allowed for Kennedy to issue the National Security Action Memorandum #55 on June 28th, 1961, which began the process of changing the responsibility from the CIA to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Prouty states,

" When fully implemented, as Kennedy had planned, after his reelection in 1964, it would have taken the CIA out of the covert operation business. This proved to be one of the first nails in John F. Kennedy's coffin. "

If this was not enough of a slap in the face to the CIA, Kennedy forced the resignation of CIA Director Allen Dulles, CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard M. Bissell Jr. and CIA Deputy Director Charles Cabell.

In Oct 1962, Kennedy was informed that Cuba had offensive Soviet missiles 90 miles from American shores. Soviet ships with more missiles were on their way towards Cuba but ended up turning around last minute. Rumours started to abound that JFK had cut a secret deal with Russian Premier Khrushchev, which was that the U.S. would not invade Cuba if the Soviets withdrew their missiles. Criticisms of JFK being soft on communism began to stir.

NSAM #263, closely overseen by Kennedy, was released on Oct 11th, 1963, and outlined a policy decision " to withdraw 1,000 military personnel [from Vietnam] by the end of 1963 " and further stated that " It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel [including the CIA and military] by 1965. " The Armed Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had the headline U.S. TROOPS SEEN OUT OF VIET BY '65. Kennedy was winning the game and the American people.

This was to be the final nail in Kennedy's coffin.

Kennedy was brutally shot down only one month later, on Nov, 22nd 1963. His death should not just be seen as a tragic loss but, more importantly, it should be recognised for the successful military coup d'état that it was and is . The CIA showed what lengths it was ready to go to if a President stood in its way. (For more information on this coup refer to District Attorney of New Orleans at the time, Jim Garrison's book . And the excellently researched Oliver Stone movie "JFK")

Through the Looking Glass

On Nov. 26th 1963, a full four days after Kennedy's murder, de facto President Johnson signed NSAM #273 to begin the change of Kennedy's policy under #263. And on March 4th, 1964, Johnson signed NSAM #288 that marked the full escalation of the Vietnam War and involved 2,709,918 Americans directly serving in Vietnam, with 9,087,000 serving with the U.S. Armed Forces during this period.

The Vietnam War, or more accurately the Indochina War, would continue for another 12 years after Kennedy's death, lasting a total of 20 years for Americans.

Scattered black ops wars continued, but the next large scale-never ending war that would involve the world would begin full force on Sept 11, 2001 under the laughable title War on Terror, which is basically another Iron Curtain, a continuation of a 74 year Cold War. A war that is not meant to end until the ultimate regime changes are accomplished and the world sees the toppling of Russia and China. Iraq was destined for invasion long before the vague Gulf War of 1990 and even before Saddam Hussein was being backed by the Americans in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. Iran already suffered a CIA backed regime change in 1979.

It had been understood far in advance by the CIA and US military that the toppling of sovereignty in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran needed to occur before Russia and China could be taken over. Such war tactics were formulaic after 3 decades of counterinsurgency against the CIA fueled "communist-insurgency" of Indochina. This is how today's terrorist-inspired insurgency functions, as a perfect CIA formula for an endless bloodbath.

Former CIA Deputy Director (2010-2013) Michael Morell, who was supporting Hillary Clinton during the presidential election campaign and vehemently against the election of Trump, whom he claimed was being manipulated by Putin, said in a 2016 interview with Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians in Syria should be killed covertly to 'pay the price' .

Therefore, when a drone stroke occurs assassinating an Iranian Maj. Gen., even if the U.S. President takes onus on it, I would not be so quick as to believe that that is necessarily the case, or the full story. Just as I would not take the statements of President Rouhani accepting responsibility for the Iranian military shooting down 'by accident' the Boeing 737-800 plane which contained 176 civilians, who were mostly Iranian, as something that can be relegated to criminal negligence, but rather that there is very likely something else going on here.

I would also not be quick to dismiss the timely release, or better described as leaked, draft letter from the US Command in Baghdad to the Iraqi government that suggests a removal of American forces from the country. Its timing certainly puts the President in a compromised situation. Though the decision to keep the American forces within Iraq or not is hardly a simple matter that the President alone can determine. In fact there is no reason why, after reviewing the case of JFK, we should think such a thing.

One could speculate that the President was set up, with the official designation of the IRGC as "terrorist" occurring in April 2019 by the US State Department, a decision that was strongly supported by both Bolton and Pompeo, who were both members of the NSC at the time. This made it legal for a US military drone strike to occur against Soleimani under the 2001 AUMF, where the US military can attack any armed group deemed to be a terrorist threat. Both Bolton and Pompeo made no secret that they were overjoyed by Soleimani's assassination and Bolton went so far as to tweet "Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran." Bolton has also made it no secret that he is eager to testify against Trump in his possible impeachment trial.

Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo was recorded at an unknown conference recently, but judging from the gross laughter of the audience it consists of wannabe CIA agents, where he admits that though West Points' cadet motto is "You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.", his training under the CIA was the very opposite, stating " I was the CIA Director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses. (long pause) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment. "

Thus, it should be no surprise to anyone in the world at this point in history, that the CIA holds no allegiance to any country. And it can be hardly expected that a President, who is actively under attack from all sides within his own country, is in a position to hold the CIA accountable for its past and future crimes .

Tags Politics War Conflict


ThomasChase1776 , 3 minutes ago link

General Smedley Butler had an answer. Read his book.

https://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/major-general-smedley-butler

Is-Be , 8 minutes ago link

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a true hero for his fellow countrymen

All his countrymen?

Element , 15 minutes ago link

Who's Really In Charge Of The US Military? - Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation

Donald Trump, you stupid time-wasting twat .

ThomasChase1776 , 5 minutes ago link

LOL. That's a good one.

Assuming Trump is doing what he said he would, why isn't our military guarding our border?
Why hasn't our military left the middle east already?

Who really runs our government?

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 1 hour ago link

As much as I hate the CIA, mi6 had more of hand in overthrowing iran than Langley did

ThomasChase1776 , 4 minutes ago link

Is that supposed to be an excuse?

GRDguy , 1 hour ago link

". . . the CIA holds no allegiance to any country." But they sure kiss the *** of the financial sociopaths who write their paychecks and finance the black ops.

ThomasChase1776 , 4 minutes ago link

and Mossad

Slaytheist , 1 hour ago link

Does this bitch not know that the CIA is the currency mafia police....ffs, that's a **** ton of words.

oneno , 1 hour ago link

She knows ...

SRV , 1 hour ago link

Fletcher Prouty's book The Secret Team is a must read... he was on the inside and watched the formation of the permanent team established in the late 50s that assumed the power of the president.

JFK fought that team...

cynicalskeptic , 1 hour ago link

Look at who the OSS recruited - Ivy League Skull and Bones types from rich families that made their fortunes in often questionable ventures.

If you're the patriarch of some super wealthy family wouldn't you be thrilled to have younger family members working for the nation's intelligence agencies? Sort of the ultimate in 'inside information'. Plus these families had experience in things like drug smuggling, human trafficking and anything else you can imagine..... While the Brits started the opium trade with China, Americans jumped right in bringing opium from Turkey.

Didn't take long before the now CIA became owned by the families whose members staffed it.

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 43 minutes ago link

Again ignoring the British influence. The CIA does not have a monopoly on intelligence

Spiritual Anunnaki , 2 hours ago link

One major aspect pertaining American involvment in Veitnam was something like 90% of the rubber produced Globally came from the region.

It is more diverse now, being 3rd, with the association revealing that in 2017, Vietnam earned US$2.3 billion from export of 1.4 million tonnes of natural rubber, up 36% in value and 11.4% in volume year on year.

Haboob , 2 hours ago link

Fighting for rubber monopoly in Vietnam,fighting for oil monopoly in the middle east.

That's life.

Benito_Camela , 1 hour ago link

Gunboat diplomacy is nothing new. War is and always has been a racket.

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 38 minutes ago link

Unfortunately it is a winning racket.

Art_Vandelay , 2 hours ago link

Betrayals, secrets, tyranny? Who's in charge? **** Cheney & Co.

Benito_Camela , 1 hour ago link

Mike Pimpeo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPt-zXn05ac

InTheLandOfTheBlind , 36 minutes ago link

The British crown

Kan , 2 hours ago link

Rockfellers formed the OSS then the CIA which is the brute force for the CFR which they also run and own. The bankers run y our country and bought and blackmailed all your politicians... Only buttplug and pedo's get to be in charge now folks.... and some 9th circle witches of course...

TeethVillage88s , 1 hour ago link

OSS & CIA were formed from Ivy League Schools/Uni's... who turned out to be Traitors to England & USSR... Same today I

[Feb 29, 2020] Learning Nothing From the Ghost of Congress Past by Andrew J. Bacevich

The USA is an imperial country. And wars is how empire is sustained and expanded. Bacevich does not even mention this fact.
Notable quotes:
"... While perfunctory congressional hearings may yet occur, a meaningful response -- one that would demand accountability, for example -- is about as likely as a bipartisan resolution to the impeachment crisis. ..."
"... This implicit willingness to write off a costly, unwinnable, and arguably unnecessary war should itself prompt sober reflection. What we have here is a demonstration of how pervasive and deeply rooted American militarism has become. ..."
"... we have become a nation given to misusing military power, abusing American soldiers, and averting our gaze from the results. ..."
"... The impeachment hearings were probably the reason the WaPo published when it did. After all, the article tells us little that any semi-sentient observer hasn't known for over a decade now. ..."
"... Then, today, we have another American trooper killed in Afghanistan, with many Afghans. Then, we have Trump, jutting his jaw out, as usual, to show how tough he is and...by golly, how tough America is. How patriotic! Damn it! Rah rah. He pardons and receives a war criminal at the white house, one of those Seals that murdered Afghans. ..."
"... By military standards, there is supposed to be rules of engagement and punishment for outright breaking of such rules. But no, Trump is one ignorant, cold dude and the misery in numerous US invaded nations means nothing to this bum with a title and money ..."
"... Were our senior government leaders more familiar with military service, especially as front line soldiers, they might have been less inclined to dawdle in these matters, agree with obfuscated results for political reasons, and waste so much effort. ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Afghanistan Papers could have been the start of redemption, but it's all been subsumed by impeachment and an uninterested public.

....

While perfunctory congressional hearings may yet occur, a meaningful response -- one that would demand accountability, for example -- is about as likely as a bipartisan resolution to the impeachment crisis.

This implicit willingness to write off a costly, unwinnable, and arguably unnecessary war should itself prompt sober reflection. What we have here is a demonstration of how pervasive and deeply rooted American militarism has become.

Take seriously the speechifying heard on the floor of the House of Representatives in recent days and you'll be reassured that the United States remains a nation of laws, with Democrats and Republicans alike affirming their determination to defend our democracy and preserve the Constitution, even while disagreeing on what that might require at present.

Take seriously the contents of the Afghanistan Papers and you'll reach a different conclusion: we have become a nation given to misusing military power, abusing American soldiers, and averting our gaze from the results. U.S. military expenditures and the Pentagon's array of foreign bases far exceed those of any other nation on the planet. In our willingness to use force, we (along with Israel) lead the pack. Putative adversaries such as China and Russia are models of self-restraint by comparison. And when it comes to cumulative body count, the United States is in a league of its own.

Yet since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, U.S. forces have rarely accomplished the purposes for which they are committed, the Pentagon concealing failure by downsizing its purposes. Afghanistan offers a good example. What began as Operation Enduring Freedom has become in all but name Operation Decent Interval, the aim being to disengage in a manner that will appear responsible, if only for a few years until the bottom falls out.

So the real significance of the Post 's Afghanistan Papers is this: t hey invite Americans to contemplate a particularly vivid example what our misplaced infatuation with military power produces. Sadly, it appears evident that we will refuse the invitation. Don't blame Trump for this particular example of Washington's egregious irresponsibility.

Andrew Bacevich is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory , will be published next month.


Sid Finster a day ago
The impeachment hearings were probably the reason the WaPo published when it did. After all, the article tells us little that any semi-sentient observer hasn't known for over a decade now.

Anyway, nobody likes a bipartisan fiasco that cannot be neatly blamed on Team R (or Team D).

John Achterhof Sid Finster 12 hours ago
Just give credit where it is due: the Post's reporting on the Afghanistan Papers is journalism at its very best.
Fayez Abedaziz 21 hours ago
Then, today, we have another American trooper killed in Afghanistan, with many Afghans. Then, we have Trump, jutting his jaw out, as usual, to show how tough he is and...by golly, how tough America is. How patriotic! Damn it! Rah rah. He pardons and receives a war criminal at the white house, one of those Seals that murdered Afghans.

By military standards, there is supposed to be rules of engagement and punishment for outright breaking of such rules. But no, Trump is one ignorant, cold dude and the misery in numerous US invaded nations means nothing to this bum with a title and money. What a joke this nations foreign policy is and the ignorant, don't care American people have become. Like never before. There were years when people actually talked about subjects. Not now, if you mention the weather they cower and look pained. The old days really were better.

One example aside from the above: compare President Kennedy to Trump. What a riot...

polistra24 21 hours ago
Well, these documents are highly unsurprising. Everybody has known the facts for a long time. Everybody also knows that the US "government" will not change its ways. Its sole purpose and mission is to obliterate everything except Israel, and these documents are evidence of massive SUCCESS in its mission, not evidence of failure.
Richard 13 hours ago
When the troops start to mutiny, the war will end.
Marcus 9 hours ago
Were our senior government leaders more familiar with military service, especially as front line soldiers, they might have been less inclined to dawdle in these matters, agree with obfuscated results for political reasons, and waste so much effort.

This is also to say that misleading documents and briefings from the military about progress in Afghanistan, while contemptible, did not cause the strategic failure. Contemporary reports from the press and other agencies indicated the effort was not working out plainly to anyone who wanted to pay attention. Our political leaders chose to ignore the truth for political gain.

A more realistic temperament chastened by experience would have been more inclined to criticize and make corrections, and summon the courage to cut our losses rather than crow ignominiously about "cutting and running." Few such temperaments, it seems at least, make it to the top thee days.

[Feb 29, 2020] A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. ..."
"... The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not. ..."
Feb 29, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 29, 2020 7:38 pm

A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvILLCbOFo4

I think this would be very informative for anybody seriously interested in the USA foreign policy. Listening to him is so sad to realize that instead of person of his caliber we have Pompous Pompeo, who forever is frozen on the level of a tank repair mechanical engineer, as the Secretary of State.

Published on Feb 24, 2020

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior.

The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School.

He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.

He is the author of several books including the most recent

Interesting times: China, America, and the shifting balance of prestige (2013)

[Feb 29, 2020] Pompeo lies and smokescreen

Pompeo has just four terms in the House of Representives befor getting postions of Director of CIA (whichsuggests previous involvement with CIA) and then paradoxically the head of the State Department, He retired from the alry in the rank of comptain and never participated in any battles. He serves only in Germany, and this can be classified as a chickenhawk. He never performed any dyplomatic duries in hs life and a large part of his adult life (1998-2006) was a greddy military contractor.
Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard tweeted,

#Pentagon statement on targeted killing of #suleimani :

1. It mentions that it aimed at "deterring future Iranian attack plans". This however is very vague. Future is not the same as imminent which is the time based test required under international law. (1)

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

2. Overall, the statement places far greater emphasis on past activities and violations allegedly commuted by Suleimani. As such the killing appears far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self defense.

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

3. The notion that Suleimani was "actively developing plans" is curious both from a semantic and military standpoint. Is it sufficient to meet the test of mecessity and proportionality?

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

4. The statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Suleimani. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful. Absolutely.

-- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 3, 2020

[Feb 28, 2020] Chas Freeman America in Distress The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change

Highly recommended!
I think everybody should listen the initial 47 minutes
Notable quotes:
"... Wanted to add that the malaise that is gripping the U.S. institutions is completely visible, it is not the opaque and obsequies portrait drawn by the punditry, news organizations, and elites. Seems most obvious to those of us outside the beltway that can clearly delineate between the failure of DC and the projections and marketing to the population that passes as wonky prose. Stupidity lacks the clarity, but brings the temerity making the facade not so subtle. ..."
"... Literally the only endorsement I've heard of Tulsi Gabbard - and a strikingly convincing one ..."
"... Isn't it just a question of the profits in the military business? ..."
Feb 24, 2020 | www.youtube.com

https://youtu.be/mvILLCbOFo4

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School. He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.


Trade Prosper , 3 days ago (edited)

Well worth the watch and hope more see it, especially the presentation in the initial 47 minutes. We Americans take our deficits and the $ as the reserve currency far too lightly.

strezztechnoid , 2 days ago

Wanted to add that the malaise that is gripping the U.S. institutions is completely visible, it is not the opaque and obsequies portrait drawn by the punditry, news organizations, and elites. Seems most obvious to those of us outside the beltway that can clearly delineate between the failure of DC and the projections and marketing to the population that passes as wonky prose. Stupidity lacks the clarity, but brings the temerity making the facade not so subtle.

yes it's me , 3 days ago

Literally the only endorsement I've heard of Tulsi Gabbard - and a strikingly convincing one

Bob Trajkoski , 3 days ago

Way the US is Warmongering state and threat to humanity, on the planet.? Nukes in the hand's of gangsters

strezztechnoid , 2 days ago (edited)

No, not mercenaries, this is a protection racket. The U.N. address in late 2018 by the President (the laughter spoke volumes) was about as insightful as a "goodfellas" scene where the shakedown of the little guy is highlighted. It was the speeches by other countries at the meeting that was most informative.

A definitive pullback from U.S. hegemony was palpable, real, and un-moderated. Large and small countries all expressed an unwillingness to be held under the thumb of the global bully. This is the result of having an over abundance of a particle within D.C.; not the electron, photon, or neutron...but the moron.

Frank , 3 days ago

Aura of imperial purpose.

Dan Good , 7 hours ago

Isn't it just a question of the profits in the military business?

[Feb 23, 2020] Previously oppressed group, given a lucky chance, most often strive for dominance and oppression of other groups including and especially former dominant group. This is an eternal damnation of ethno/cultural nationalism

Highly recommended!
Dec 29, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.28.19 at 9:17 am

Peter T 12.28.19 at 5:50 am @38

I'm finding it hard to think of examples where the formerly norm-giving group becomes derided or humiliated.

You can probably try to look at the situation in (now independent) republics of the former USSR. Simplifying previously oppressed group, given a lucky chance, most often strive for dominance and oppression of other groups including and especially former dominant group. This is an eternal damnation of ethno/cultural nationalism.

And not only it (look at Mutual Help and The State in Shantytowns.) In them ethnic comminutes often own protection markets, offer services that hire people and replace the state, pay off gang leaders. they also provide some community support for particular ethnic group, enforce the rules of trade within themselves, etc. In GB the abuse of children by ethnic gangs was sickening ( https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/sep/30/abuse-children-asian-communities )

In many cases of ethnic/cultural nationalism this looks more like a competition for resources with the smoke screen of noble intentions/human rights/past oppression/ humiliations/etc

Or you can look at the language policy in the USA and the actual situation in some areas/institutions of Florida and California and how English speakers feel in those areas/institutions. Or in some areas of Quebec in Canada.

That actually suggests another meaning of famous Randolph Bourne quote " War is the health of the state " (said in the midst of the First World War.) It bring the unity unachievable in peace time or by any other methods, albeit temporarily (from Ch 14. Howard Zinn book A People's History of the United States ):

the governments flourished, patriotism bloomed, class struggle was stilled, and young men died in frightful numbers on the battlefields-often for a hundred yards of land, a line of trenches.

In the United States, not yet in the war, there was worry about the health of the state. Socialism was growing. The IWW seemed to be everywhere. Class conflict was intense. In the summer of 1916, during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, a bomb exploded, killing nine people; two local radicals, Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, were arrested and would spend twenty years in prison. Shortly after that Senator James Wadsworth of New York suggested compulsory military training for all males to avert the danger that "these people of ours shall be divided into classes." Rather: "We must let our young men know that they owe some responsibility to this country."

The supreme fulfillment of that responsibility was taking place in Europe. Ten million were to die on the battlefield; 20 million were to die of hunger and disease related to the war. And no one since that day has been able to show that the war brought any gain for humanity that would be worth one human life. The rhetoric of the socialists, that it was an "imperialist war," now seems moderate and hardly arguable. The advanced capitalist countries of Europe were fighting over boundaries, colonies, spheres of influence; they were competing for Alsace-Lorraine, the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East.

Neo-McCarthyism now serves a somewhat similar purpose in the USA. Among other thing (like absolving Hillary from her fiasco to "deux ex machine" trick instead of real reason -- the crisis and rejection of neoliberalism by the sizable strata of the USA population) it is an attempt to unify the nation after 2016.

[Feb 23, 2020] Welcome to the American Regime

Highly recommended!
Feb 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

4 hours ago

Is America a 'regime'?

In the language of the American Oligarchy and it's tame and owned presstitutes on the MSM, any country targeted for destabilisation, destruction and rape – either because it doesn't do what America tells it do (Russia), because it has rich natural resources or has a 'socialist' state (Venezuela) or because lunatic neo-cons and even more lunatic Christian Evangelicals (hoping to provoke The End Times ) want it to happen (Syria and Iran) – is first labelled as a 'regime'.

That's because the word 'regime' is associated with dictatorships and human rights abuses and establishing a non-compliant country as a 'regime' is the US government's and MSM's first step at manufacturing public consent for that country's destruction.

Unfortunately if you sit back and talk a cool-headed, factual look at actions and attitudes that we're told constitute a regime then you have to conclude that America itself is 'a regime'.

So, here's why America is a regime:

4 hours ago

America's Military is Killing – Americans!

In 2018, Republicans (AND Democrats) voted to cut $23 billion dollars from the budget for food stamps (42 million Americans currently receive them).

Fats forward to 21 December 2019 and Donald Trump signed off on a US defense budget of a mind boggling $738 billion dollars.

To put that in context  --  the annual US government Education budget is sround $68 billion dollars.

Did you get that  --  $738 billion on defense, $68 billion on education?

That means the government spends more than ten times on preparations to kill people than it does on preparing children for life in the adult world.

Wow!

How ******* psychotic and death-affirming is that? It gets even worse when you consider that that $716 billion dollars is only the headline figure – it doesn't include whatever the Deep State siphons away into black-ops and kick backs. And .America's military isn't even very good – it's hasn't 'won' a conflict since the second world war, it's proud (and horrifically expensive) aircraft carriers have been rendered obsolete by Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles and its 'cutting edge' weapons are so good (not) that everyone wants to buy the cheaper and better Russian versions: classic example – the F-35 jet program will screw $1.5 TRILLION (yes, TRILLION) dollars out of US taxpayers but but it's a piece of **** plane that doesn't work properly which the Russians laughingly refer to as 'a flying piano'.

In contrast to America's free money for the military industrial complex defense budget, China spends $165 billion and Russia spends $61 billion on defense and I don't see anyone attacking them (well, except America, that is be it only by proxy for now).

Or, put things another way. The United Kingdom spent £110 billion on it's National Health Service in 2017. That means, if you get sick in England, you can see a doctor for free. If you need drugs you pay a prescription charge of around $11.50(nothing, if unemployed, a child or elderly), whatever the market price of the drugs. If you need to see a consultant or medical specialist, you'll see one for free. If you need an operation, you'll get one for free. If you need on-going care for a chronic illness, you'll get it for free.

Fully socialised, free at the point of access, healthcare for all. How good is that?

US citizens could have that, too.

Allowing for the US's larger population, the UK National Health Service transplanted to America could cost about $650 billion a year. That would still leave $66 billion dollars left over from the proposed defense budget of $716 billion to finance weapons of death and destruction   --  more than those 'evil Ruskies' spend.

The US has now been at war, somewhere in the world (i.e in someone elses' country where the US doesn't have any business being) continuously for 28 years. Those 28 years have coincided with (for the 'ordinary people', anyway) declining living standards, declining real wages, increased police violence, more repression and surveillance, declining lifespans, declining educational and health outcomes, more every day misery in other words, America's military is killing Americans. Oh, and millions of people in far away countries (although, obviously, those deaths are in far away countries and they are of brown-skinned people so they don't really count, do they?).

Time for a change, perhaps?

[Feb 23, 2020] Where Have You Gone, Smedley Butler The Last General To Criticize US Imperialism by Danny Sjursen

Here's a link to a free online copy of War is a Racket if anyone wants to read it. It's a short read. Pretty good too. https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html
From comments (Is the USA government now a "regime"): In 2018, Republicans (AND Democrats) voted to cut $23 billion dollars from the budget for food stamps (42 million Americans currently receive them). Regimes disobey international law. Like America's habit of blowing up wedding parties with drones or the illegal presence of its troops in Syria, Iraq and God knows where else. Regimes carry out illegal assassination programs – I need say no more here than Qasem Soleimani. Regimes use their economic power to bully and impose their will – sanctioning countries even when they know those sanctions will, for example, be responsible for the death of 500,000 Iraqi children (the 'price worth paying', remember?). Regimes renege on international treaties – like Iran nuclear treaty, for example. Regimes imprison and hound whistle-blowers – like Chelsea manning and Julian Assange. Regimes imprison people. America is the world leader in incarceration. It has 2.2 million people in its prisons (more than China which has 5 times the US's population), that's 25% of the world's prison population for 5% of the world's population, Why does America need so many prisoners? Because it has a massive, prison-based, slave labour business that is hugely profitable for the oligarchy.
Regimes censor free speech. Just recently, we've seen numerous non-narrative following journalists and organisations kicked off numerous social media platforms. I didn't see lots of US senators standing up and saying 'I disagree completely with what you say but I will fight to the death to preserve your right to say it'. Did you?
Regimes are ruled by cliques. I don't need to tell you that America is kakistocratic Oligarchy ruled by a tiny group of evil, rich, Old Men, do I?
Regimes keep bad company. Their allies are other 'regimes', and they're often lumped together by using another favourite presstitute term – 'axis of evil'. America has its own little axis of evil. It's two main allies are Saudi Arabia – a homophobic, women hating, head chopping, terrorist financing state currently engaged in a war of genocide (assisted by the US) in Yemen – and the racist, genocidal undeclared nuclear power state of Israel.
Regimes commit human rights abuses. Here we could talk about…ooh…let's think. Last year's treatment of child refugees from Latin America, the execution of African Americans for 'walking whilst black' by America's militarized, criminal police force or the millions of dollars in cash and property seized from entirely innocent Americans by that same police force under 'civil forfeiture' laws or maybe we could mention huge American corporations getting tax refunds whilst ordinary Americans can't afford decent, effective healthcare.
Regimes finance terrorism. Mmmm….just like America financed terrorists to help destroy Syria and Libya and invested $5 billion dollars to install another regime – the one of anti-Semites and Nazis in Ukraine…
Highly recommended!
Some comments edited for clarity...
Notable quotes:
"... But after retirement, Smedley Butler changed his tune. ..."
"... "I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service... 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." ..."
"... Smedley Butler's Marine Corps and the military of his day was, in certain ways, a different sort of organization than today's highly professionalized armed forces. History rarely repeats itself, not in a literal sense anyway. Still, there are some disturbing similarities between the careers of Butler and today's generation of forever-war fighters. All of them served repeated tours of duty in (mostly) unsanctioned wars around the world. Butler's conflicts may have stretched west from Haiti across the oceans to China, whereas today's generals mostly lead missions from West Africa east to Central Asia, but both sets of conflicts seemed perpetual in their day and were motivated by barely concealed economic and imperial interests. ..."
"... When Smedley Butler retired in 1931, he was one of three Marine Corps major generals holding a rank just below that of only the Marine commandant and the Army chief of staff. Today, with about 900 generals and admirals currently serving on active duty, including 24 major generals in the Marine Corps alone, and with scores of flag officers retiring annually, not a single one has offered genuine public opposition to almost 19 years worth of ill-advised, remarkably unsuccessful American wars . As for the most senior officers, the 40 four-star generals and admirals whose vocal antimilitarism might make the biggest splash, there are more of them today than there were even at the height of the Vietnam War, although the active military is now about half the size it was then. Adulated as many of them may be, however, not one qualifies as a public critic of today's failing wars. ..."
"... The big three are Secretary of State Colin Powell's former chief of staff, retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson ; Vietnam veteran and onetime West Point history instructor, retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich ; and Iraq veteran and Afghan War whistleblower , retired Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis . All three have proven to be genuine public servants, poignant voices, and -- on some level -- cherished personal mentors. For better or worse, however, none carry the potential clout of a retired senior theater commander or prominent four-star general offering the same critiques. ..."
"... Consider it an irony of sorts that this system first received criticism in our era of forever wars when General David Petraeus, then commanding the highly publicized " surge " in Iraq, had to leave that theater of war in 2007 to serve as the chair of that selection committee. The reason: he wanted to ensure that a twice passed-over colonel, a protégé of his -- future Trump National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster -- earned his star. ..."
"... At the roots of this system lay the obsession of the American officer corps with " professionalization " after the Vietnam War debacle. This first manifested itself in a decision to ditch the citizen-soldier tradition, end the draft, and create an "all-volunteer force." The elimination of conscription, as predicted by critics at the time, created an ever-growing civil-military divide, even as it increased public apathy regarding America's wars by erasing whatever " skin in the game " most citizens had. ..."
"... One group of generals, however, reportedly now does have it out for President Trump -- but not because they're opposed to endless war. Rather, they reportedly think that The Donald doesn't "listen enough to military advice" on, you know, how to wage war forever and a day. ..."
"... That beast, first identified by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is now on steroids as American commanders in retirement regularly move directly from the military onto the boards of the giant defense contractors, a reality which only contributes to the dearth of Butlers in the military retiree community. For all the corruption of his time, the Pentagon didn't yet exist and the path from the military to, say, United Fruit Company, Standard Oil, or other typical corporate giants of that moment had yet to be normalized for retiring generals and admirals. Imagine what Butler would have had to say about the modern phenomenon of the " revolving door " in Washington. ..."
"... Today, generals don't seem to have a thought of their own even in retirement. And more's the pity... ..."
"... Am I the only one to notice that Hollywood and it's film distributors have gone full bore on "war" productions, glorifying these historical events while using poetic license to rewrite history. Prepping the numbheads. ..."
"... Forget rank. As Mr Sjursen implies, dissidents are no longer allowed in the higher ranks. "They" made sure to fix this as Mr Butler had too much of a mind of his own (US education system also programmed against creative, charismatic thinkers, btw). ..."
"... Today, the "Masters of the Permawars" refer to the international extortion, MIC, racket as "Defending American Interests"! .....With never any explanation to the public/American taxpayer just what "American Interests" the incredible expenditures of American lives, blood, and treasure are being defended! ..."
"... "The Americans follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous." - Jospeh Goebbels ..."
"... The greatest anti-imperialist of our times is Michael Parenti: ..."
"... The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. ..."
"... If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. ..."
Feb 23, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

There once lived an odd little man - five feet nine inches tall and barely 140 pounds sopping wet - who rocked the lecture circuit and the nation itself. For all but a few activist insiders and scholars, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler is now lost to history. Yet more than a century ago, this strange contradiction of a man would become a national war hero, celebrated in pulp adventure novels, and then, 30 years later, as one of this country's most prominent antiwar and anti-imperialist dissidents.

Raised in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and educated in Quaker (pacifist) schools, the son of an influential congressman, he would end up serving in nearly all of America's " Banana Wars " from 1898 to 1931. Wounded in combat and a rare recipient of two Congressional Medals of Honor, he would retire as the youngest, most decorated major general in the Marines.

A teenage officer and a certified hero during an international intervention in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion of 1900, he would later become a constabulary leader of the Haitian gendarme, the police chief of Philadelphia (while on an approved absence from the military), and a proponent of Marine Corps football. In more standard fashion, he would serve in battle as well as in what might today be labeled peacekeeping , counterinsurgency , and advise-and-assist missions in Cuba, China, the Philippines, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, France, and China (again). While he showed early signs of skepticism about some of those imperial campaigns or, as they were sardonically called by critics at the time, " Dollar Diplomacy " operations -- that is, military campaigns waged on behalf of U.S. corporate business interests -- until he retired he remained the prototypical loyal Marine.

But after retirement, Smedley Butler changed his tune. He began to blast the imperialist foreign policy and interventionist bullying in which he'd only recently played such a prominent part. Eventually, in 1935 during the Great Depression, in what became a classic passage in his memoir, which he titled "War Is a Racket," he wrote:

"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service... 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."

Seemingly overnight, the famous war hero transformed himself into an equally acclaimed antiwar speaker and activist in a politically turbulent era. Those were, admittedly, uncommonly anti-interventionist years, in which veterans and politicians alike promoted what (for America, at least) had been fringe ideas. This was, after all, the height of what later pro-war interventionists would pejoratively label American " isolationism ."

Nonetheless, Butler was unique (for that moment and certainly for our own) in his unapologetic amenability to left-wing domestic politics and materialist critiques of American militarism. In the last years of his life, he would face increasing criticism from his former admirer, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the military establishment, and the interventionist press. This was particularly true after Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany invaded Poland and later France. Given the severity of the Nazi threat to mankind, hindsight undoubtedly proved Butler's virulent opposition to U.S. intervention in World War II wrong.

Nevertheless, the long-term erasure of his decade of antiwar and anti-imperialist activism and the assumption that all his assertions were irrelevant has proven historically deeply misguided. In the wake of America's brief but bloody entry into the First World War, the skepticism of Butler (and a significant part of an entire generation of veterans) about intervention in a new European bloodbath should have been understandable. Above all, however, his critique of American militarism of an earlier imperial era in the Pacific and in Latin America remains prescient and all too timely today, especially coming as it did from one of the most decorated and high-ranking general officers of his time. (In the era of the never-ending war on terror, such a phenomenon is quite literally inconceivable.)

Smedley Butler's Marine Corps and the military of his day was, in certain ways, a different sort of organization than today's highly professionalized armed forces. History rarely repeats itself, not in a literal sense anyway. Still, there are some disturbing similarities between the careers of Butler and today's generation of forever-war fighters. All of them served repeated tours of duty in (mostly) unsanctioned wars around the world. Butler's conflicts may have stretched west from Haiti across the oceans to China, whereas today's generals mostly lead missions from West Africa east to Central Asia, but both sets of conflicts seemed perpetual in their day and were motivated by barely concealed economic and imperial interests.

Nonetheless, whereas this country's imperial campaigns of the first third of the twentieth century generated a Smedley Butler, the hyper-interventionism of the first decades of this century hasn't produced a single even faintly comparable figure. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Why that is matters and illustrates much about the U.S. military establishment and contemporary national culture, none of it particularly encouraging.

Why No Antiwar Generals

When Smedley Butler retired in 1931, he was one of three Marine Corps major generals holding a rank just below that of only the Marine commandant and the Army chief of staff. Today, with about 900 generals and admirals currently serving on active duty, including 24 major generals in the Marine Corps alone, and with scores of flag officers retiring annually, not a single one has offered genuine public opposition to almost 19 years worth of ill-advised, remarkably unsuccessful American wars . As for the most senior officers, the 40 four-star generals and admirals whose vocal antimilitarism might make the biggest splash, there are more of them today than there were even at the height of the Vietnam War, although the active military is now about half the size it was then. Adulated as many of them may be, however, not one qualifies as a public critic of today's failing wars.

Instead, the principal patriotic dissent against those terror wars has come from retired colonels, lieutenant colonels, and occasionally more junior officers (like me), as well as enlisted service members. Not that there are many of us to speak of either. I consider it disturbing (and so should you) that I personally know just about every one of the retired military figures who has spoken out against America's forever wars.

The big three are Secretary of State Colin Powell's former chief of staff, retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson ; Vietnam veteran and onetime West Point history instructor, retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich ; and Iraq veteran and Afghan War whistleblower , retired Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis . All three have proven to be genuine public servants, poignant voices, and -- on some level -- cherished personal mentors. For better or worse, however, none carry the potential clout of a retired senior theater commander or prominent four-star general offering the same critiques.

Something must account for veteran dissenters topping out at the level of colonel. Obviously, there are personal reasons why individual officers chose early retirement or didn't make general or admiral. Still, the system for selecting flag officers should raise at least a few questions when it comes to the lack of antiwar voices among retired commanders. In fact, a selection committee of top generals and admirals is appointed each year to choose the next colonels to earn their first star. And perhaps you won't be surprised to learn that, according to numerous reports , "the members of this board are inclined, if not explicitly motivated, to seek candidates in their own image -- officers whose careers look like theirs." At a minimal level, such a system is hardly built to foster free thinkers, no less breed potential dissidents.

Consider it an irony of sorts that this system first received criticism in our era of forever wars when General David Petraeus, then commanding the highly publicized " surge " in Iraq, had to leave that theater of war in 2007 to serve as the chair of that selection committee. The reason: he wanted to ensure that a twice passed-over colonel, a protégé of his -- future Trump National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster -- earned his star.

Mainstream national security analysts reported on this affair at the time as if it were a major scandal, since most of them were convinced that Petraeus and his vaunted counterinsurgency or " COINdinista " protégés and their " new " war-fighting doctrine had the magic touch that would turn around the failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Petraeus tried to apply those very tactics twice -- once in each country -- as did acolytes of his later, and you know the results of that.

But here's the point: it took an eleventh-hour intervention by America's most acclaimed general of that moment to get new stars handed out to prominent colonels who had, until then, been stonewalled by Cold War-bred flag officers because they were promoting different (but also strangely familiar) tactics in this country's wars. Imagine, then, how likely it would be for such a leadership system to produce genuine dissenters with stars of any serious sort, no less a crew of future Smedley Butlers.

At the roots of this system lay the obsession of the American officer corps with " professionalization " after the Vietnam War debacle. This first manifested itself in a decision to ditch the citizen-soldier tradition, end the draft, and create an "all-volunteer force." The elimination of conscription, as predicted by critics at the time, created an ever-growing civil-military divide, even as it increased public apathy regarding America's wars by erasing whatever " skin in the game " most citizens had.

More than just helping to squelch civilian antiwar activism, though, the professionalization of the military, and of the officer corps in particular, ensured that any future Smedley Butlers would be left in the dust (or in retirement at the level of lieutenant colonel or colonel) by a system geared to producing faux warrior-monks. Typical of such figures is current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley. He may speak gruffly and look like a man with a head of his own, but typically he's turned out to be just another yes-man for another war-power -hungry president.

One group of generals, however, reportedly now does have it out for President Trump -- but not because they're opposed to endless war. Rather, they reportedly think that The Donald doesn't "listen enough to military advice" on, you know, how to wage war forever and a day.

What Would Smedley Butler Think Today?

In his years of retirement, Smedley Butler regularly focused on the economic component of America's imperial war policies. He saw clearly that the conflicts he had fought in, the elections he had helped rig, the coups he had supported, and the constabularies he had formed and empowered in faraway lands had all served the interests of U.S. corporate investors. Though less overtly the case today, this still remains a reality in America's post-9/11 conflicts, even on occasion embarrassingly so (as when the Iraqi ministry of oil was essentially the only public building protected by American troops as looters tore apart the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in the post-invasion chaos of April 2003). Mostly, however, such influence plays out far more subtly than that, both abroad and here at home where those wars help maintain the record profits of the top weapons makers of the military-industrial complex.

That beast, first identified by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is now on steroids as American commanders in retirement regularly move directly from the military onto the boards of the giant defense contractors, a reality which only contributes to the dearth of Butlers in the military retiree community. For all the corruption of his time, the Pentagon didn't yet exist and the path from the military to, say, United Fruit Company, Standard Oil, or other typical corporate giants of that moment had yet to be normalized for retiring generals and admirals. Imagine what Butler would have had to say about the modern phenomenon of the " revolving door " in Washington.

Of course, he served in a very different moment, one in which military funding and troop levels were still contested in Congress. As a longtime critic of capitalist excesses who wrote for leftist publications and supported the Socialist Party candidate in the 1936 presidential elections, Butler would have found today's nearly trillion-dollar annual defense budgets beyond belief. What the grizzled former Marine long ago identified as a treacherous nexus between warfare and capital "in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives" seems to have reached its natural end point in the twenty-first century. Case in point: the record (and still rising ) "defense" spending of the present moment, including -- to please a president -- the creation of a whole new military service aimed at the full-scale militarization of space .

Sadly enough, in the age of Trump, as numerous polls demonstrate, the U.S. military is the only public institution Americans still truly trust. Under the circumstances, how useful it would be to have a high-ranking, highly decorated, charismatic retired general in the Butler mold galvanize an apathetic public around those forever wars of ours. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that is practically nil, given the military system of our moment.

Of course, Butler didn't exactly end his life triumphantly. In late May 1940, having lost 25 pounds due to illness and exhaustion -- and demonized as a leftist, isolationist crank but still maintaining a whirlwind speaking schedule -- he checked himself into the Philadelphia Navy Yard Hospital for a "rest." He died there, probably of some sort of cancer, four weeks later. Working himself to death in his 10-year retirement and second career as a born-again antiwar activist, however, might just have constituted the very best service that the two-time Medal of Honor winner could have given the nation he loved to the very end.

Someone of his credibility, character, and candor is needed more than ever today. Unfortunately, this military generation is unlikely to produce such a figure. In retirement, Butler himself boldly confessed that, "like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical..."

Today, generals don't seem to have a thought of their own even in retirement. And more's the pity...

2 minutes ago
Am I the only one to notice that Hollywood and it's film distributors have gone full bore on "war" productions, glorifying these historical events while using poetic license to rewrite history. Prepping the numbheads.
14 minutes ago
TULSI GABBARD.

Forget rank. As Mr Sjursen implies, dissidents are no longer allowed in the higher ranks. "They" made sure to fix this as Mr Butler had too much of a mind of his own (US education system also programmed against creative, charismatic thinkers, btw).

The US Space Force has been created as part of a plan to disclose the deep state's Secret Space Program (SSP), which has been active for decades, and which has utilized, and repressed, advanced technologies that would provide free, unlimited renewable energy, and thus eliminate hunger and poverty on a planetary scale.

14 minutes ago
14 minutes ago

ALL wars are EVIL. Period .

29 minutes ago

Sadly enough, in the age of Trump, as numerous polls demonstrate, the U.S. military is the only public institution Americans still truly trust. Under the circumstances, how useful it would be to have a high-ranking, highly decorated, charismatic retired general in the Butler mold galvanize an apathetic public around those forever wars of ours. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that is practically nil, given the military system of our moment.

This is why I feel an oath keeping constitutionally oriented American general is what we need in power, clear out all 545 criminals in office now, review their finances (and most of them will roll over on the others) and punish accordingly, then the lobbyist, how many of them worked against the country? You know what we do with those.

And then, finally, Hollywood, oh yes I long to see that **** hole burn with everyone in it.

30 minutes ago
Republicrat: the two faces of the moar war whore.
32 minutes ago

Given the severity of the Nazi threat to mankind

Do tell, from what I've read the Nazis were really only a threat to a few groups, the rest of us didn't need to worry.

35 minutes ago
Today, the "Masters of the Permawars" refer to the international extortion, MIC, racket as "Defending American Interests"! .....With never any explanation to the public/American taxpayer just what "American Interests" the incredible expenditures of American lives, blood, and treasure are being defended!

Why are we sending our children out into the hellholes of the world to be maimed and killed in the fauxjew banksters' quest for world domination.

How stupid can we be!

41 minutes ago
(Edited) "Smedley Butler"... The last time the UCMJ was actually used before being permanently turned into a "door stop"!
49 minutes ago
He was correct about our staying out of WWII. Which, BTW, would have never happened if we had stayed out of WWI.
22 minutes ago
(Edited) Both wars were about the international fauxjew imposition of debt-money central bankstering.

Both wars were promulgated by the Financial oligarchyof New York. The communist Red Army of Russia was funded and supplied by the Financial oligarchyof New York. It was American Financial oligarchythat built the Russian Red Army that vexed the world and created the Cold War. How many hundreds of millions of goyim were sacrificed to create both the Russian and the Chinese Satanic behemoths.......and the communist horror that is now embedded in American academia, publishing, American politics, so-called news, entertainment, The worldwide Catholic religion, the Pentagon, and the American deep state.......and more!

How stupid can we be. Every generation has the be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the eternal maw of historical ignorance to avoid falling back into the myriad dark hellholes of history. As we all should know, people who forget their own history are doomed to repeat it.

53 minutes ago
Today's General is a robot with with a DNA.
54 minutes ago
All the General Staff is a bunch of #asskissinglittlechickenshits
57 minutes ago
want to stop senseless Empire wars>>well do this

War = jobs and profit..we get work "THEY" get the profit.. If we taxed all war related profit at 99% how many wars would our rulers start? 1 hour ago

Here is a simple straightforward trading maxim that might apply here: if it works or is working keep doing it, but if it doesn't work or stops working, then STOP doing it. There are plenty of people, now poorer, for not adhering to that simple principle. Where is the Taxpayer's return on investment from the Combat taking place on their behalf around the globe? 'Nuff said - it isn't working. It is making a microscopic few richer & all others poorer so STOP doing it. 36 seconds ago We don't have to look far to figure out who they are that are getting rich off the fauxjew permawars.

How can we be so stupid???

1 hour ago

See also:

TULSI GABBARD

1 hour ago

The main reason you don't see the generals criticizing is that the current crop have not been in actual long term direct combat with the enemy and have mostly been bureaucratic paper pushers.

Take the Marine Major General who is the current commander of CENTCOM. By the time he got into the Iraq/Afghanistan war he was already a Lieutenant Colonel and far removed from direct action.

He was only there on and off for a few years. Here are some of his other career highlights aft as they appear on his official bio:

In short, these top guys aren't warriors they're bureaucrats so why would we expect them to be honest brokers of the truth?

51 minutes ago

are U saying Chesty Puller he's NOT? 1 hour ago
(Edited) The purpose of war is to ensure that the Federal Reserve Note remains the world reserve paper currency of choice by keeping it relevant and in demand across the globe by forcing pesky energy producing nations to trade with it exclusively.

It is a 49 year old policy created by the private owners of quasi public institutions called central banks to ensure they remain the Wizards of Oz doing gods work conjuring magic paper into existence with a secret spell known as issuing credit.

How else is a technologically advanced society of billions of people supposed to function w/out this divinely inspired paper?

1 hour ago

Goebbels in "Churchill's Lie Factory" where he said: "The Americans follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous." - Jospeh Goebbels, "Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik," 12. january 1941, Die Zeit ohne Beispiel

1 hour ago

The greatest anti-imperialist of our times is Michael Parenti:

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/imperialism.html

49 minutes ago
"Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders."

Why would it when they who control academia, media and most of our politicians are our enemies.

1 hour ago

"The big three are Secretary of State Colin Powell's former chief of staff, retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson ; ..."

Yep, Wilkerson, who leaked Valerie Plame's name, not that it was a leak, to Novak, and then stood by to watch the grand jury fry Scooter Libby. Wilkerson, that paragon of moral rectitude. Wilkerson the silent, that *******.

sheesh,

1 hour ago
(Edited)

" A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

James Madison Friday June 29, 1787

https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_629.asp

"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins." (Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment [I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789])

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendIIs6.html

1 hour ago

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps. - M. PARENTI, Against empire

See Alexander Parvus

1 hour ago

Collapse is the cure. It's too far gone.

1 hour ago

Russia Wants to 'Jam' F-22 and F-35s in the Middle East: Report

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/russia-wants-jam-f-22-and-f-35s-middle-east-report-121041

1 hour ago

ZH retards think that the American mic is bad and all other mics are good or don't exist. That's the power of brainwashing. Humans understand that war in general is bad, but humans are becoming increasingly rare in this world.

1 hour ago

The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort.

https://truthout.org/articles/the-dangers-of-american-fascism/

2 hours ago
The swamp is bigger than the military alone. Substitute Bureaucrat, Statesman, or Beltway Bandit for General and Colonel in your writing above and you've got a whole new article to post that is just as true.
2 hours ago
(Edited) War = jobs and profit..we get work "THEY" get the profit..If we taxed all war related profit at 99% how many wars would our rulers start?
2 hours ago [edited for clarity]
War is a racket. And nobody loves a racket more than Financial oligarchy. Americans come close though, that's why Financial oligarchy use them to project their own rackets and provide protection reprisals.

[Feb 16, 2020] Understanding the Ukraine Story by Joe Lauria

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine if we substitute the U.S. for Russia and the country "invaded" was Canada, rather than Ukraine, the government overthrown was in Ottawa and not Kiev, and the provinces embroiled in a foreign-backed civil war have been Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rather the provinces of Eastern Ukraine? This report, written in 2016, may make it easier to understand what has been really going on in Ukraine. Clicking on the links is key to understanding the real story. ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Versions of this article first appeared on ..."
"... Consortium News ..."
Feb 14, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

The impeachment hearings and trial of Donald Trump were filled with talk of Russian aggression against Ukraine and threats to the United States. But what would it be like if we switched the roles of Russia and the U.S.?

Imagine if we substitute the U.S. for Russia and the country "invaded" was Canada, rather than Ukraine, the government overthrown was in Ottawa and not Kiev, and the provinces embroiled in a foreign-backed civil war have been Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rather the provinces of Eastern Ukraine? This report, written in 2016, may make it easier to understand what has been really going on in Ukraine. Clicking on the links is key to understanding the real story.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

T he United States has "invaded" Canada to support the breakaway Maritime provinces that are resisting a Moscow-engineered violent coup d'etat against the democratically elected government in Ottawa.

The U.S. move is to protect separatists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia after Washington annexed Prince Edwards Island in a quickly arranged referendum .

The Islanders voted over 90 percent in favor of joining the United States following the Russian-backed coup. Moscow has condemned the referendum as illega l.

Hard-liners in the U.S. want Washington to annex all three Maritime provinces, whose fighters are defying the coup in Ottawa after Moscow installed an unelected prime minister.

Russian-backed Canadian federal troops have launched so-called "anti-terrorist" operations in the breakaway region to crush the rebellion, shelling residential areas and killing hundreds of civilians.

The violent coup.

The Canadian army are joined by Russian-supported neofascist battalions that played a crucial role in the overthrow of the Canadian government. In Halifax, the extremists have burned alive at least 40 pro-U.S. civilians who had taken refugee in a trade union building.

Proof that Russia was behind the overthrow of the elected Canadian prime minister is contained in a leaked conversation between Georgiy Yevgenevich Borisenko, foreign ministry chief of Moscow's North America department, and Alexander Darchiev, the Russian ambassador to Canada.

According to a transcript of the leaked conversation, Borisenko discussed who the new Canadian leaders should be six weeks before the coup took place.

Russia moved to launch the coup when Canada decided to take a loan package from the IMF that had fewer strings attached than a loan from Russia.

Russia's Beijing ally was reluctant to back the coup. But this seemed of little concern to Borisenko who is heard on the tape saying, "Fuck China."

Minister handing out cookies in the square.

Weeks before the coup Borisenko was filmed visiting protestors who had camped out in Parliament Square in Ottawa demanding the ouster of the prime minister. Borisenko is seen giving out cakes to the demonstrators.

The foreign ministers of Russian-allied Belarus and Cuba also marched with the protestors through the streets of Ottawa against the government. Russian media has portrayed the unconstitutional change of government an act of "democracy." Russian senators have met in public with extreme right-wing Canadian coup leaders, praising their rebellion.

Borisenko said in a speech that Russia had spent $5 billion over the past decade to "bring democracy" to Canada.

Senator meeting far-right coup leaders.

The money was spent on training "civil society." The use of non-governmental organizations to overthrow foreign governments that stand in the way of Russia's economic and geo-strategic interests is well documented, especially in a 1991 Washington Post column, "Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups ."

The United States has thus moved to ban Russian NGOs from operating in the country.

The coup took place as protestors violently clashed with police, breaking through barricades and killing a number of officers. Snipers fired on the police and the crowd from a nearby building in Parliament Square in which the Russian embassy had set up offices just a few floors above, according to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Son Gets Job After Coup

Russian lawmakers compared President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler for allegedly sending U.S. troops into the breakaway provinces and for annexing Prince Edward Island in an act of "American aggression." The Maritimes have had long ties to the U.S. dating back to the American Revolution.

Russia says it has intelligence proving that U.S. tanks have crossed the Maine border into New Brunswick, but have failed to make the evidence public. They have revealed no satellite imagery. Russian news media only reports American-backed rebels fighting in the Maritimes, not American troops.

Washington denies it has invaded but says some American volunteers have entered the Canadian province to join the fight.

Russia's puppet prime minister now in charge in Ottawa has only offered as proof six American passports of U.S. soldiers found in New Brunswick.

Son gets job on energy company board after his father's government backs violent coup.

The Maritime Canadian rebels have secured anti-aircraft weapons enabling them to shoot down a number of Royal Canadian Air Force transport planes.

A Malaysian airlines passenger jet was also shot down over Nova Scotia killing all on board. Russia has accused President Obama of being behind the incident, charging that the U.S. provided the anti-aircraft weapon.

Moscow has refused to release any intelligence to support its claim, other than statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Canada's economy is near collapse and is dependent on infusions of Russian aid. This comes despite a former Russian foreign ministry official being installed as Canada's finance minister, only receiving Canadian citizenship on her first day on the job.

Despite installing a Russian to run Canada's economy, President Putin told the U.N. General Assembly that Russia had "few economic interests" in the country. But Russian agribusiness companies have already taken stakes in Albertan wheat fields. And Ilya Medvedev, son of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, as well as a Lavrov family friend joined the board of Canada's largest oil company just weeks after the coup.

Russia's ultimate aim, beginning with the imposition of sanctions on the U.S., appears to be a color revolution in Washington to overthrow Obama and install a Russian-friendly American president.

This is clear from numerous statements by Russian officials and academics. A former Russian national security advisor whom Putin consults on foreign policy said the United States should be broken into three countries.

He has also written that Canada is the stepping stone to the United States and that if the U.S. loses Canada it will fail to control North America.

Versions of this article first appeared on The Duran and Consortium News in 2016.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for T he Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe , Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .


mary floyd , February 15, 2020 at 13:20

The most important takeaway in this article for me was that the US should be broken into three separate entities!
That would work well for most Americans. All in all, this is a great piece, Mr. Lauria!

Dao Gen , February 15, 2020 at 02:28

Joe, you are The Truth. The only thing you left out, no doubt for reasons of space and time, was the immortal statement made by a leading member of the Russian Duma, who said during a stirring and well-received speech that, “Canada is our crucial first line of defense against the US. If Canada weren’t there to stop the Americans, we’d have to fight them right here on our own doorstep.”

Herman , February 14, 2020 at 18:52

A very creative way of making the point. Still do not understand the depth of what often appears to be heart felt hate for Russia by very powerful and smart people. Remember reading a comment by Phil Girardi early in the Trump tour when he remarked at the depth of dislike of Russia within the spook community. He wrote he was surprised and had, I think, been part of that community.

Eddie S , February 15, 2020 at 14:51

RE: “…depth of dislike of Russia within the spook community”.
While I have no ‘special knowledge’ of the so-called ‘intelligence community’, there’s a few reasons for this that come to-mind:
— Job preservation. The most obvious. The US wouldn’t need ~80% of those spooks if there
weren’t big scary Russians/Chinese/Iranians/N.Koreans constantly plotting against the
peaceful, benevolent US.

— Spooks believe in what is mainly a distractionary ploy by US oligarchs/plutocrats. These
wealthy interests don’t want to lose some of their wealth to social reforms, so they constantly
financially support scare-mongering, which some spooks unquestioningly accept.

— The profession tends to attract some of the more paranoid elements in our society, so
they’re inclined that way by nature/personality.

robert e williamson jr , February 14, 2020 at 17:51

Well one thing for sure we would not be seeing a female anchor on CNN bemoaning the fact the because of the coronavirus many popular kids toys might not be available here in the U.S. for the up coming holidays (?).

Yes it did happen, hell I couldn’t make that up.

DARYL , February 14, 2020 at 15:45

…or better yet, substitute Central America for Ukraine, and Panama(canal) for Crimea, then you have the makings of an even more salient parallel.

Realist , February 14, 2020 at 15:42

The difference is that under your scenario the world would be a smoking heap of radioactive ashes already as the exceptional nation, unlike the ever cautious Russians, would have immediately made bombastic threats and then launched military attacks to protect its “security interests.” (Warring to “protect” security interests has replaced invasion and occupation to save souls.) Things would have escalated from there to its predestined thermonuclear climax, as they will in the real world if Uncle Sam doesn’t get a grip on his uncontrolled aggression, demanding whatever he wants whenever he wants it at the point of a gun. The world seems to be circling the drain whether or not Washington is allowed to micromanage the affairs of Russia, China, Iran and every last duchy, principality and people’s republic in addition to its own monumental mess it calls domestic affairs. We’ve only got two political parties in this madhouse and they are both equally bent on destroying civilisation if they can’t rule it all, which seems to be the only point they agree on. Each party thinks it preferable to allow an obscenely rich oligarch (what else should we call Trump or Bloomberg?) from the other side to rule rather than a “communist” like Bernie Sanders or a “naive peacenik” like Tulsi Gabbard to be elected president. If the space aliens land tomorrow and start recruiting colonists to populate newly terraformed planets in other solar systems, sign me up. Yeah, it’s become that absurd down here.

JOHN CHUCKMAN , February 14, 2020 at 15:22

Simply imperial rot and corruption of power on all sides.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have an exclusive on those qualities.

Mark Thomason , February 14, 2020 at 12:37

This is a useful approach. It needs added to it the language and culture element: as if the part that wants out of the Moscow coup shares our own language and culture, while the rest of Canada does not, and the rest of Canada had gone on a spree to suppress that language and culture. It is hard to find a parallel in Canada to those facts, but it is what happened in Ukraine.

It is important to understanding to put oneself in the shoes of the other guys. It was once called walking a mile in the other guy’s moccasins, and given a Native wisdom attribution.

David G Horsman , February 14, 2020 at 12:01

I do this exercise mentally fairly often. This is the first time I saw it done in print. I would like to do an automated process.

[Feb 14, 2020] Is Apartheid the Inevitable Outcome of Zionism? by Henry Siegman

Highly recommended!
Actually any supremacist ideology produces something like an apartheid regime for other nationalities.
The current situation looks like a dead end with little chances of reconciliation, especially after recent killing of protesters by Israel army/snipers. But in general, it is iether a two state solution of equal rights for Palestinians and Jews in the same state. The elements of theocratic state should be eliminated and right wing parties outlawed as neofascist parties which threatens democracy.
Notable quotes:
"... The peace process and the two-state solution failed because America -- the only country on which Israel could count on for generous diplomatic, military and economic support, and therefore the only country that has the necessary leverage to influence Israel's policies -- allowed it to fail. Consequently, most Israelis, including many belonging to the Blue/White party, headed by General Benny Gantz, oppose granting any future Palestinian entity the most basic features of sovereignty, including control of its own borders. Gantz refused to form a unity government with the Likud because of Netanyahu's indictment for multiple crimes, not because of differences over peace policy. What doubts anyone might have had on this subject were removed when Gantz just announced that he embraces Netanyahu's intention to annex the Jordan Valley to Israel. ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

The threat of a new war with Iran that might have replicated what has been the worst disaster in the history of America's international misadventures -- George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq based on fabricated lies -- sucked the air out of all other international diplomatic activity, not least of what used to be called the Middle East peace process.

Yet the failure of the peace process has not been the consequence of recent mindless and destructive actions by Donald Trump and of the clownish shenanigans of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was charged with helping Israeli hardliners in nailing down permanently the Palestinian occupation. For all the damage they caused (mainly to Palestinians), prospects for a two-state solution actually ended during President Barack Obama's administration, despite Secretary of State John Kerry's energetic efforts to renew the stalled negotiations. They were not resumed because Obama, like his predecessors, failed to take the tough measures that were necessary to overcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's determination to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state, notwithstanding his pledge in his Bar-Ilan speech of 2009 to implement the agreements of the Oslo accords.

Yes, Obama and Kerry did warn that Israel's continued occupation might lead to an Israeli apartheid regime. But knowing how deeply the accusation of an incipient Israeli apartheid could anger right-wingers in Israel and in the U.S., they repeatedly followed that warning with the assurance that "America will always have Israel's back." It was the sequence of this two-part statement that convinced Netanyahu that AIPAC had succeeded in getting American presidents to protect Israel's impunity. Had Obama and Kerry reversed that sequence, first noting that the U.S. had always had Israel's back, and then warning that Israel is now on the verge of trading its democracy for apartheid, the warning might have had quite different implications for Israel's government.

The peace process and the two-state solution failed because America -- the only country on which Israel could count on for generous diplomatic, military and economic support, and therefore the only country that has the necessary leverage to influence Israel's policies -- allowed it to fail. Consequently, most Israelis, including many belonging to the Blue/White party, headed by General Benny Gantz, oppose granting any future Palestinian entity the most basic features of sovereignty, including control of its own borders. Gantz refused to form a unity government with the Likud because of Netanyahu's indictment for multiple crimes, not because of differences over peace policy. What doubts anyone might have had on this subject were removed when Gantz just announced that he embraces Netanyahu's intention to annex the Jordan Valley to Israel.

For the Palestinians, territory is the most critical of the final status issues. The current internationally recognized borders that separate Israel and the Occupied Territories reduced the territory originally assigned to Palestinians in the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947 from roughly half of Palestine to 22 percent. Israel, which was assigned originally roughly the other half of Palestine, now has 78 percent, not including Palestinian territory Israel has confiscated for its illegal settlements.

No present or prospective Palestinian leadership will accept any further reduction of territory from their promised state. Given the territory they already lost in 1947, and again in 1949, and given Israel's refusal to accept the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, is it really reasonable to expect Palestinians to give up any further territory? Where else other than the West Bank could Palestine refugees return to?

The one-state solution that is preferred by many Israelis is essentially a continuation of the present de facto apartheid. It is not the one-state alternative any Palestinian would accept. Repeated polling has shown that a majority of Jewish Israelis are unprepared to grant equal rights to Palestinians in a one-state arrangement. This opposition is unsurprising, for the inclusion in Israel's body politic of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, for Israel's non-Jewish citizens would then outnumber its Jewish ones, and may already do so. Of course, Israel could contrive a non-voting status for the West Bank's Palestinians, something many Jewish Israelis and political parties actually advocate, but that would not deceive anyone. It would mean the formal end of Israel's democracy.

The foregoing notwithstanding, I have long maintained that if Israel were compelled to choose between one state that grants full equality to Palestinians now under occupation and two states that conform substantially to existing agreements and international law, and no other options were available to it, the majority of Israelis would opt for two states. Why? Because as noted above, the overwhelming majority of Israelis oppose any arrangement that might produce a Palestinian majority with the same rights Israeli Jewish citizens enjoy. Of course, Israel has never been compelled to make such a choice, nor will they be compelled to do so by the international community.

However, they could be compelled to do so by the Palestinians, but only if Palestinians were finally to expel their current leadership and choose a more honest and courageous one. That new leadership would have to shut down the Palestinian Authority, which its present leaders allowed Israel to portray as an arrangement that places Palestinians on the path to statehood, of course in some undefined future. Israel has deliberately perpetuated that myth to conceal its real intention to keep the current occupation unchanged. The new Palestinian leadership would have to declare that since Israel has denied them their own state and established a one-state reality, Palestinians will no longer deny that reality. Consequently, the national struggle will now be for full citizenship in the one state that Israel has forced them into. I have argued for the past two decades that the one-state option is far more likely to open a path to a two-state solution, however counter intuitive that may seem to be. Palestinians rejected it categorically from the outset, but younger Palestinians have come around to accepting it -- even preferring it to the two-state model.

Unlike the struggle for a two-state solution, a goal that has so easily been manipulated by Israel to mean whatever serves their real goal of preventing such an outcome -- and also so easily allowed international actors to pretend they have not given up their efforts to achieve that outcome, an anti-apartheid struggle does not lend itself to such deceptions. South Africa has taught the world too well what apartheid looks like, as well as how the international community could deal with it. Of course, South Africa has also shown how long and bloody a struggle against apartheid can be, and the terrible price paid by the victims of such a regime. But Palestinians already live in such a regime, and have for long been paying a terrible price for their subjugation.

Yet deeper and more troubling questions are raised by the choices that now face Israel, including whether the original idea of the Zionist movement of a state that is both Jewish and democratic is not deeply oxymoronic, a question that not only Israelis but Jews outside of Israel must address. That question is underscored by the challenges to India's democracy posed by its prime minister's decision to turn his country into a Hindu nation. It is a question that did not escape some of the founders of the Zionist movement, who argued that Zionism should define the state as Jewish only in its ethnic and secular cultural dimensions. But that this is not how Jewish identity is treated in Israel is undeniable.

Imagine if Israel's laws defining national identity and citizenship, as recently reformulated by Israel's Knesset, were adopted by the U.S. Congress or by other Western democratic countries, and if Christianity in its "cultural dimensions" were declared to be their national identity, with citizenship also granted by conversion to the dominant religion, as is now the case in Israel, where arrangements for Jewish religious conversions are part of the Prime Minister's office.

Is this not what America's founders, and the waves of immigrants, including European Jews, sought to escape from? And how would Jews react today to legislation in the U.S. Congress that would explicitly seek to maintain the majority status of Christians in the U.S.? Are Jews to take pride in a Jewish state that adopts citizenship requirements that mirror those advocated by white Christian supremacists? These supremacists have already proclaimed jubilantly that Israel's policies vindicate the ones they have long been advocating.

It is true, of course, that for some Jews, aware of the history of anti-Semitism that has spanned the ages, and especially the Holocaust, Zionism's contradictions with democratic principles are an unpleasant but inescapable dilemma they can live with. As a survivor of the Holocaust, I can understand that. But I also understand that the likely consequences of these contradictions are not benign, and can yield their own terrible outcomes, particularly when they lead to the dalliances by the prime minister of a Jewish state with right-wing racist and xenophobic heads of state and of political parties that have fascist and anti-Semitic parentage.

Legislation proposed in the U.S. Congress and by Trump, and recently celebrated by his son-in-law Kushner in a New York Times op-ed, proposing that criticism of Zionism be outlawed as antisemitism , would be laughable, were it not so clearly -- and outrageously -- intended to deny freedom of speech on this subject. Yet laughable it is, for its first target would have to be Jews -- not liberal left-wingers but the most Orthodox Jews, known as Haredim, in Israel and in America.

At the very inception of the Zionist movement 150 years ago, not only the Haredim but the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jewry everywhere was opposed to Zionism, which it considered to be a Jewish heresy, not only because the Zionists were mostly secularists, but because of an oath taken by Jewish leaders after the destruction of the Second Temple following their exile from Palestine, that Jews would not reestablish a Jewish kingdom except following the messianic era. Zionism was also bitterly opposed by much of the world's Jewish Reform movement, many of whose leaders insisted that Jewishness is a religion, not a political identity.

Much of Orthodox Jewry did not end its opposition to Zionism until after the war of 1967, but many if not most Haredis continue to oppose Zionism as heresy. Most of its members refuse to serve in Israel's military, to celebrate Israel's Independence Day, sing its national anthem, and do not allow prayers in their synagogues for the wellbeing of Israel's political leaders. Trump, Kushner, and the U.S. Congress would have to arrest them as anti-Semites.

I have no doubt that Trump's rage at the Jewish chairmen of the two Congressional committees that led the procedures for his impeachment will sooner or later explode in anti-Semitic expletives. The only reason it has not done so yet is because of Trump's fear of jeopardizing Evangelical support and Sheldon Adelson's mega bucks. After all, Trump already told us that the neo-Nazi rioters in Charlottesville declaiming "Jews will not replace us" included "very fine people." Netanyahu never criticized Trump's statement, for he too does not want to jeopardize certain relationships, namely the "very fine people" he has embraced -- leaders in Hungary, Poland, Austria, Italy, Brazil, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

If Trump's son-in-law is searching for anti-Semites, he should have been told they are far closer at hand than in America's schools, for they are ensconced in the White House. They are also to be found in Jerusalem where they are being accorded honors by Netanyahu. The anti-Semitic dog whistling contained in Trump's attacks on the two Jewish congressmen were not misunderstood by his hardcore supporters -- who now include the entire leadership of the Republican party -- who Trump needs to take him to victory in the coming presidential elections, or to keep him in the White House were he to lose those elections.

If apartheid is coming (or has come) out of Zion, it should not shock that what may come out of Washington is a repeat by Trump's Republican shock troops of what occurred in Berlin in 1933, when the Bundestag was taken over by the Nazi party and ended Germany's democracy.

[Feb 09, 2020] The Deeper Story Behind The Assassination Of Soleimani

Highly recommended!
Looks like the end of Full Spectrum Dominance the the USA enjoyed since 1991. Alliance of Iran, Russia and China (with Turkey and Pakistan as two possible members) is serious military competitor and while the USA has its set of trump cards, the military victory against such an alliance no longer guaranteed.
Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Days after the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, new and important information is coming to light from a speech given by the Iraqi prime minister. The story behind Soleimani's assassination seems to go much deeper than what has thus far been reported, involving Saudi Arabia and China as well the US dollar's role as the global reserve currency .

The Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, has revealed details of his interactions with Trump in the weeks leading up to Soleimani's assassination in a speech to the Iraqi parliament. He tried to explain several times on live television how Washington had been browbeating him and other Iraqi members of parliament to toe the American line, even threatening to engage in false-flag sniper shootings of both protesters and security personnel in order to inflame the situation, recalling similar modi operandi seen in Cairo in 2009, Libya in 2011, and Maidan in 2014. The purpose of such cynicism was to throw Iraq into chaos.

Here is the reconstruction of the story:

[Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq] Halbousi attended the parliamentary session while almost none of the Sunni members did. This was because the Americans had learned that Abdul-Mehdi was planning to reveal sensitive secrets in the session and sent Halbousi to prevent this. Halbousi cut Abdul-Mehdi off at the commencement of his speech and then asked for the live airing of the session to be stopped. After this, Halbousi together with other members, sat next to Abdul-Mehdi, speaking openly with him but without it being recorded. This is what was discussed in that session that was not broadcast:

Abdul-Mehdi spoke angrily about how the Americans had ruined the country and now refused to complete infrastructure and electricity grid projects unless they were promised 50% of oil revenues, which Abdul-Mehdi refused.

The complete (translated) words of Abdul-Mahdi's speech to parliament:

This is why I visited China and signed an important agreement with them to undertake the construction instead. Upon my return, Trump called me to ask me to reject this agreement. When I refused, he threatened to unleash huge demonstrations against me that would end my premiership.

Huge demonstrations against me duly materialized and Trump called again to threaten that if I did not comply with his demands, then he would have Marine snipers on tall buildings target protesters and security personnel alike in order to pressure me.

I refused again and handed in my resignation. To this day the Americans insist on us rescinding our deal with the Chinese.

After this, when our Minister of Defense publicly stated that a third party was targeting both protestors and security personnel alike (just as Trump had threatened he would do), I received a new call from Trump threatening to kill both me and the Minister of Defense if we kept on talking about this "third party".

Nobody imagined that the threat was to be applied to General Soleimani, but it was difficult for Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to reveal the weekslong backstory behind the terrorist attack.

I was supposed to meet him [Soleimani] later in the morning when he was killed. He came to deliver a message from Iran in response to the message we had delivered to the Iranians from the Saudis.

We can surmise, judging by Saudi Arabia's reaction , that some kind of negotiation was going on between Tehran and Riyadh:

The Kingdom's statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom's view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation.

Above all, the Saudi Royal family wanted to let people know immediately that they had not been informed of the US operation:

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not consulted regarding the US strike. In light of the rapid developments, the Kingdom stresses the importance of exercising restraint to guard against all acts that may lead to escalation, with severe consequences.

And to emphasize his reluctance for war, Mohammad bin Salman sent a delegation to the United States. Liz Sly , the Washington Post Beirut bureau chief, tweated:

Saudi Arabia is sending a delegation to Washington to urge restraint with Iran on behalf of [Persian] Gulf states. The message will be: 'Please spare us the pain of going through another war'.

What clearly emerges is that the success of the operation against Soleimani had nothing to do with the intelligence gathering of the US or Israel. It was known to all and sundry that Soleimani was heading to Baghdad in a diplomatic capacity that acknowledged Iraq's efforts to mediate a solution to the regional crisis with Saudi Arabia.

It would seem that the Saudis, Iranians and Iraqis were well on the way towards averting a regional conflict involving Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Riyadh's reaction to the American strike evinced no public joy or celebration. Qatar, while not seeing eye to eye with Riyadh on many issues, also immediately expressed solidarity with Tehran, hosting a meeting at a senior government level with Mohammad Zarif Jarif, the Iranian foreign minister. Even Turkey and Egypt , when commenting on the asassination, employed moderating language.

This could reflect a fear of being on the receiving end of Iran's retaliation. Qatar, the country from which the drone that killed Soleimani took off, is only a stone's throw away from Iran, situated on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz. Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Tehran's regional enemies, both know that a military conflict with Iran would mean the end of the Saudi royal family.

When the words of the Iraqi prime minister are linked back to the geopolitical and energy agreements in the region, then the worrying picture starts to emerge of a desperate US lashing out at a world turning its back on a unipolar world order in favor of the emerging multipolar about which I have long written .

The US, now considering itself a net energy exporter as a result of the shale-oil revolution (on which the jury is still out), no longer needs to import oil from the Middle East. However, this does not mean that oil can now be traded in any other currency other than the US dollar.

The petrodollar is what ensures that the US dollar retains its status as the global reserve currency, granting the US a monopolistic position from which it derives enormous benefits from playing the role of regional hegemon.

This privileged position of holding the global reserve currency also ensures that the US can easily fund its war machine by virtue of the fact that much of the world is obliged to buy its treasury bonds that it is simply able to conjure out of thin air. To threaten this comfortable arrangement is to threaten Washington's global power.

Even so, the geopolitical and economic trend is inexorably towards a multipolar world order, with China increasingly playing a leading role, especially in the Middle East and South America.

Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia together make up the overwhelming majority of oil and gas reserves in the world. The first three have an elevated relationship with Beijing and are very much in the multipolar camp, something that China and Russia are keen to further consolidate in order to ensure the future growth for the Eurasian supercontinent without war and conflict.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pro-US but could gravitate towards the Sino-Russian camp both militarily and in terms of energy. The same process is going on with Iraq and Qatar thanks to Washington's numerous strategic errors in the region starting from Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria and Yemen in recent years.

The agreement between Iraq and China is a prime example of how Beijing intends to use the Iraq-Iran-Syria troika to revive the Middle East and and link it to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

While Doha and Riyadh would be the first to suffer economically from such an agreement, Beijing's economic power is such that, with its win-win approach, there is room for everyone.

Saudi Arabia provides China with most of its oil and Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, supply China with most of its LNG needs, which lines up with Xi Jinping's 2030 vision that aims to greatly reduce polluting emissions.

The US is absent in this picture, with little ability to influence events or offer any appealing economic alternatives.

Washington would like to prevent any Eurasian integration by unleashing chaos and destruction in the region, and killing Soleimani served this purpose. The US cannot contemplate the idea of the dollar losing its status as the global reserve currency. Trump is engaging in a desperate gamble that could have disastrous consequences.

The region, in a worst-case scenario, could be engulfed in a devastating war involving multiple countries. Oil refineries could be destroyed all across the region, a quarter of the world's oil transit could be blocked, oil prices would skyrocket ($200-$300 a barrel) and dozens of countries would be plunged into a global financial crisis. The blame would be laid squarely at Trump's feet, ending his chances for re-election.

To try and keep everyone in line, Washington is left to resort to terrorism, lies and unspecified threats of visiting destruction on friends and enemies alike.

Trump has evidently been convinced by someone that the US can do without the Middle East, that it can do without allies in the region, and that nobody would ever dare to sell oil in any other currency than the US dollar.

Soleimani's death is the result of a convergence of US and Israeli interests. With no other way of halting Eurasian integration, Washington can only throw the region into chaos by targeting countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria that are central to the Eurasian project. While Israel has never had the ability or audacity to carry out such an assassination itself, the importance of the Israel Lobby to Trump's electoral success would have influenced his decision, all the more so in an election year .

Trump believed his drone attack could solve all his problems by frightening his opponents, winning the support of his voters (by equating Soleimani's assassination to Osama bin Laden's), and sending a warning to Arab countries of the dangers of deepening their ties with China.

The assassination of Soleimani is the US lashing out at its steady loss of influence in the region. The Iraqi attempt to mediate a lasting peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been scuppered by the US and Israel's determination to prevent peace in the region and instead increase chaos and instability.

Washington has not achieved its hegemonic status through a preference for diplomacy and calm dialogue, and Trump has no intention of departing from this approach.

Washington's friends and enemies alike must acknowledge this reality and implement the countermeasures necessary to contain the madness.


Boundless Energy , 1 minute ago link

Very good article, straight to the point. In fact its much worse. I know is hard to swallow for my US american brother and sisters.

But as sooner you wake up and see the reality as it is, as better chances the US has to survive with honor. Stop the wars around the globe and do not look for excuses. Isnt it already obvious what is going on with the US war machine? How many more examples some people need to wake up?

Noob678 , 8 minutes ago link

For those who love to connect the dots:

Iran Situation from Someone Who Knows Something

Not all said in video above is accurate but the recent events in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa are all related to prevent China from overtaking the zionist hegemonic world and to recolonize China (at least the parasite is trying to hop to China as new host).

Trade war, Huawei, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet ..... the concerted efforts from all zionist controlled media (ZeroHedge included) to slander, smearing, fake news against China should tell you what the Zionists agenda are :)

............

Trump Threatens to Kill Iraqi PM if He Doesn't Cancel China Oil Deal - MoA

The American President's threatened the Iraqi Prime Minister to liquidate him directly with the Minister of Defense. The Marines are the third party that sniped the demonstrators and the security men:

Abdul Mahdi continued:

"After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, so that the third party (Marines snipers) would target the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from the highest structures and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement, so I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement and when the defense minister said that who kills the demonstrators is a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened me and defense minister in the event of talk about the third party."

.........


The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found George W. Bush guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush, **** Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.

... ... ..

Thom Paine , 9 minutes ago link

When Iran has nukes, what then Trump?

I think Israel's fear is loss of regional goals if Iran becomes untouchable

TupacShakur , 13 minutes ago link

Empire is lashing out of desperation because we've crossed peak Empire.

Things are going downhill and will get more volatile as we go.

Buckle up folks because the final act will be very nasty.

Stalking Wolf , 12 minutes ago link

Unfortunately, this article makes a lot of sense. The US is losing influence and lashing out carelessly. I hope the rest of the world realizes how detached majority of the citizens within the states are from the federal government. The Federal government brings no good to our nation. None. From the mis management of our once tax revenues to the corrupt Congress who accepts bribes from the highest bidder, it's a rats best that is not only harmful to its own people, but the world at large. USD won't go down without a fight it seems... All empires end with a bang. Be ready

[Feb 08, 2020] Is Iraq About To Switch From US to Russia

Highly recommended!
Feb 08, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 8, 2020 8:56 pm

NSC Russia expert freshly appointed Andrew Peek, who was walked out like Vindman, with him only freshly appointed after Fiona Hill and the Tim Morrioson resigned.

There is a big problems with "experts" in NSC -- often they represent interests of the particular agency, or a think tank, not that of the country.

Look at former NSC staffer Fiona Hill. She can be called "threat inflation" specialist.

NSC tries to usurp the role of the State Department and overly militarize the USA foreign policy, while having much lower class specialists. It is a kind of CIA backdoor into defining the USA foreign policy.

I would advocate creating "shadow NSC" by the party who is in opposition, so that it can somehow provide countervailing opinions. But with both parties being now war parties, this is no that effective.

Cutting NSC staff to the bones, so that such second rate personalities like Fiona Hill and Vindman are automatically excluded might also help a little bit.

The size above a dozen or two is probably excessive, as like any bureaucracy, it will try to control the President, not so much help him/her.
( https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA00/20160908/105276/HHRG-114-FA00-Transcript-20160908.pdf ):

One common explanation is that the NSC mission creep results from the NSC staff growing too large and the easy solution is to limit the size of the staff. I am sympathetic to that feeling because we don't want it to
be too large and we don't want it to be usurping things that the State Department or the Agency should do.

[Feb 07, 2020] How They Sold the Iraq War by Jeffrey St. Clair

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
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.

[Feb 02, 2020] The most interesting issue is the role of NSC in this impeachment story

Highly recommended!
Edited for clarity
Notable quotes:
"... Currently they can wrap themselves into constitution defenders flag and be pretty safe from any criticism. Because charges that Schiff brought to the floor are bogus, and probably were created out of thin air by NSC plotters. Senators on both sides understand this, creating a classic Kabuki theater environment. ..."
"... In any case, it is clear that Trump is just a marionette of more powerful forces behind him, and his impeachment does not means much, if those forces are untouchable. Impeachment Kabuki theatre is an attempt of restoration of NSC (read neocons) favored foreign policy from which Trump slightly deviated. ..."
Feb 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 2, 2020 10:40 pm

Far more interesting issue is the role of NSC in this impeachment story.

Potential whistleblower (actually CIA informant) was from NSC as were Fiona Hill, Alex Vindman and a couple of other major Ukrainegate players.

In this NSC coup d'état against the President or what ? About earlier role of NSC see

https://off-guardian.org/2020/02/01/secret-wars-forgotten-betrayals-global-tyranny-who-is-really-in-charge-of-the-u-s-military/

As for "evil republican senators", they would be viewed as evil by electorate if and only only if actual crimes of Trump regime like Douma false flag, Suleimani assassination (actually here Trump was set up By Bolton and Pompeo) and other were discussed.

Currently they can wrap themselves into constitution defenders flag and be pretty safe from any criticism. Because charges that Schiff brought to the floor are bogus, and probably were created out of thin air by NSC plotters. Senators on both sides understand this, creating a classic Kabuki theater environment.

Both sides are afraid to discuss real issues, real Trump regime crimes.

Schiff proved to be patently inept in this whole story even taking into account limitations put by Kabuki theater on him, and in case of Trump acquittal *which is "highly probable" borrowing May government terminology in Skripals case :-) to resign would be a honest thing for him to do.

Assuming that he has some honestly left. Which is highly doubtful with statements like:

"The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there so we don't have to fight Russia here."

And

"More than 15,000 Ukrainians have died fighting Russian forces and their proxies. 15,000."

Actually it was the USA interference in Ukraine (aka Nulandgate) that killed 15K Ukrainians, mainly Donbas residents and badly trained recruits of the Ukrainian army sent to fight them, as well as volunteers of paramilitary "death squads" like Asov battalion financed by oligarch Igor Kolomyskiy

In any case, it is clear that Trump is just a marionette of more powerful forces behind him, and his impeachment does not means much, if those forces are untouchable. Impeachment Kabuki theatre is an attempt of restoration of NSC (read neocons) favored foreign policy from which Trump slightly deviated.

[Jan 27, 2020] The end of Trump? Trump betrayed all major promises of his 2016 election campaign. Trump needs to go...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years. ..."
"... besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course. ..."
"... So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions. ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

EveryoneIsBiased , 26 January 2020 at 04:40 PM

Thank you Colonel; I have been waiting for your take on this. And thank you for opening the comments again. If there is a problem with my post, please point them out to me.

And i agree. This may well be a fatal mistake of his. And while i have thought Trump to be the lesser evil compared to Clinton, i am now at a point where i seriously fear what his ignorance and slavery to the neocon doctrine may bring the world in 4 more years.

Still, immigration is another important issue, but besides much talk and showmastery, he has not really changed anything substantial in this regard; Nothing that could seriously change the course.

So he stripped himself of any true argument to vote for him, besides for ultra neocons and ultra fundamental evangelical Christians. And even they don't seem to trust in his intentions.

And China? He may have changed some small to medium problems for the better, but nothing is changed in the overall trend of the US continuing to loose while China emerges as the next global superpower.

It may have been slowed for some years; It may even have been accelerated, now that China has been waken up to the extend of the threat posed by the US.

North Korea? They surely will never denuclearize. Even less after how Trump showed the world how he treats international law and even allies.

With Trump its all photo ops and showmanship. And while he senses what issues are important, it is worth a damn if he butchers the execution, or values photo ops more than substantial progress.

Not that i would see a democratic alternative. No. But at least now everyone who wants to know can see, that he is neither one.

4 years ago, democracy was corrupted, but at least there was someone who presented himself as an alternative to that rotten establishment.
Now, even that small ray of light is as dark as it gets.
And that is the saddest thing. What worth is democracy, when one does not even have a true alternative, besides Tulsi on endless wars, and Bernie for the socialist ;) ?

I just have watched again the Ken Burns documentary of the civil war. I know it is not perfect (Though i love Shelby Foote's parts), but the sense of the divided 2 Americas there, is still the same today. Today, America seems to break apart culturally, socially and economically on the fault lines that have sucked it into the civil war over 150 years ago.

And just like with seeing no real way out politically, i sadly can see no way to heal and unite this country, as it never was truly united after the civil war, if not ever before. As you Colonel said some weeks ago, the US were never a nation.

And looking at other countries, only a major national crisis may change this.
A most sad realization. But this hold true also for other western countries, including my own.

An even worse decade seems to be ahead.

[Jan 24, 2020] How Are Iran and the "Axis of the Resistance" Affected by the US Assassination of Soleimani by Elijah J. Magnier

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate? ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate?

A high-ranking source within this "Axis of the Resistance" said " Sardar Soleimani was the direct and fast track link between the partners of Iran and the Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei. However, the command on the ground belonged to the national leaders in every single separate country. These leaders have their leadership and practices, but common strategic objectives to fight against the US hegemony, stand up to the oppressors and to resist illegitimate foreign intervention in their affairs. These objectives have been in place for many years and will remain, with or without Sardar Soleimani".

"In Lebanon, Hezbollah's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah leads Lebanon and is the one with a direct link to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He supports Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and has a heavy involvement in these fronts. However, he leads a large number of advisors and officers in charge of running all military, social and relationship affairs domestically and regionally. Many Iranian IRGC officers are also present on many of these fronts to support the needs of the "Axis of the Resistance" members in logistics, training and finance," said the source.

In Syria, IRGC officers coordinate with Russia, the Syrian Army, the Syrian political leadership and all Iran's allies fighting for the liberation of the country and for the defeat of the jihadists who flocked to Syria from all continents via Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. These officers have worked side by side with Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and other nationals who are part of the "Axis of the Resistance". They have offered the Syrian government the needed support to defeat the "Islamic State" (ISIS/IS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda and other jihadists or those of similar ideologies in most of the country – with the exception of north-east Syria, which is under US occupation forces. These IRGC officers have their objectives and the means to achieve a target already agreed and in place for years. The absence of Sardar Soleimani will hardly affect these forces and their plans.

In Iraq, over 100 Iranian IRGC officers have been operating in the country at the official request of the Iraqi government, to defeat ISIS. They served jointly with the Iraqi forces and were involved in supplying the country with weapons, intelligence and training after the fall of a third of Iraq into the hands of ISIS in mid-2014. It was striking and shocking to see the Iraqi Army, armed and trained by US forces for over ten years, abandoning its positions and fleeing the northern Iraqi cities. Iranian support with its robust ideology (with one of its allies, motivating them to fight ISIS) was efficient in Syria; thus, it was necessary to transmit this to the Iraqis so they could stand, fight, and defeat ISIS.

The Lebanese Hezbollah is present in Syria and Yemen, and also in Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Sayyed Nasrallah to provide his country with officers to stand against ISIS. Dozens of Hezbollah officers operate in Iraq and will be ready to support the Iraqis if the US forces refuse to leave the country. They will abide by and enforce the decision of the Parliament that the US must leave by end January 2021. Hezbollah's long warfare experience has resulted in painful experiences with the US forces in Lebanon and Iraq throughout several decades and has not been forgotten.

Sayyed Nasrallah, in his latest speech, revealed the presence in mid-2014 of Hezbollah officials in Kurdistan to support the Iraqi Kurds against ISIS. This was when the same Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani announced that it was due to Iran that the Kurds received weapons to defend themselves when the US refused to help Iraq for many months after ISIS expanded its control in northern Iraq.

The Hezbollah leaders did not disclose the continuous visits of Kurdish representatives to Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials. In fact, Iraqi Sunni and Shia officials, ministers and political leaders regularly visit Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials and its leader. Hezbollah, like Iran, plays an essential role in easing the dialogue between Iraqis when these find it difficult to overcome their differences together.

The reason why Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the presence of his officers in Kurdistan when meeting Masoud Barzani is a clear message to the world that the "Axis of the Resistance" doesn't depend on one single person. Indeed, Sayyed Nasrallah is showing the unity which reigns among this front, with or without Sardar Soleimani. Barzani is part of Iraq, and Kurdistan expressed its readiness to abide by the decision of the Iraqi Parliament to seek the US forces' departure from the country because the Kurds are not detached from the central government but part of it.

Prior to his assassination, Sardar Soleimani prepared the ground to be followed (if killed on the battlefield, for example) and asked Iranian officials to nominate General Ismail Qaani as his replacement. The Leader of the revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei ordered Soleimani's wish to be fulfilled and to keep the plans and objectives already in place as they were. Sayyed Khamenei, according to the source, ordered an "increase in support for the Palestinians and, in particular, to all allies where US forces are present."

Sardar Soleimani was looking for his death by his enemies and got what he wished for. He was aware that the "Axis of the Resistance" is highly aware of its objectives. Those among the "Axis of the Resistance" who have a robust internal front are well-established and on track. The problem was mainly in Iraq. But it seems the actions of the US have managed to bring Iraqi factions together- by assassinating the two commanders. Sardar Soleimani could have never expected a rapid achievement of this kind. Anti-US Iraqis are preparing this coming Friday to express their rejection of the US forces present in their country.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei , in his Friday prayers last week, the first for eight years, set up a road map for the "Axis of the Resistance": push the US forces out of the Middle East and support Palestine.

All Palestinian groups, including Hamas, were present at Sardar Soleimani's funeral in Iran and met with General Qaani who promised, "not only to continue support but to increase it according to Sayyed Khamenei's request," said the source. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Leader, said from Tehran: "Soleimani is the martyr of Jerusalem".

Many Iraqi commanders were present at the meeting with General Qaani. Most of these have a long record of hostility towards US forces in Iraq during the occupation period (2003-2011). Their commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, was assassinated with Sardar Soleimani and they are seeking revenge. Those leaders have enough motivation to attack the US forces, who have violated the Iraq-US training, cultural and armament agreement. At no time was the US administration given a license to kill in Iraq by the government of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Parliament has spoken: and the assassination of Sardar Soleimani has indeed fallen within the ultimate objectives of the "Axis of the Resistance". The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister has officially informed all members of the Coalition Forces in Iraq that "their presence, including that of NATO, is now no longer required in Iraq". They have one year to leave. But that absolutely does not exclude the Iraqi need to avenge their commanders.

Palestine constitutes the second objective, as quoted by Sayyed Khamenei. We cannot exclude a considerable boost of support for the Palestinians, much more than the actually existing one. Iran is determined to support the Sunni Palestinians in their objective to have a state of their own in Palestine. The man – Soleimani – is gone and is replaceable like any other man: but the level of commitment to goals has increased. It is hard to imagine the "Axis of the Resistance" remaining idle without engaging themselves somehow in the US Presidential campaign. So, the remainder of 2020 is expected to be hot.

*

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[Jan 24, 2020] Lawrence Wilkerson Lambasts 'the Beast of the National Security State' by Adam Dick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states: ..."
"... America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is. ..."
"... We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it. ..."
"... That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war. ..."
Jan 13, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Lawrence Wilkerson, a College of William & Mary professor who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powel in the George W. Bush administration, powerfully summed up the vile nature of the US national security state in a recent interview with host Amy Goodman at Democracy Now.

Asked by Goodman about the escalation of US conflict with Iran and how it compares with the prior run-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states:

Ever since 9/11, the beast of the national security state, the beast of endless wars, the beast of the alligator that came out of the swamp, for example, and bit Donald Trump just a few days ago, is alive and well.

America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is.

We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it.

What we saw President Trump do was not in President Trump's character, really. Those boys and girls who were getting on those planes at Fort Bragg to augment forces in Iraq, if you looked at their faces, and, even more importantly, if you looked at the faces of the families assembled along the line that they were traversing to get onto the airplanes, you saw a lot of Donald Trump's base. That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war.

Wilkerson, over the remainder of the two-part interview provides many more insightful comments regarding US foreign policy, including recent developments concerning Iran. Watch Wilkerson's interview here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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[Jan 17, 2020] Ukraine is a deeply sick patient. The destiny of ordinary Ukrainians is deeply tragic. Diaspora is greedy and want a piece of cake immediately

Highly recommended!
Edited for clarity
Notable quotes:
"... The infrastructure they inherited from the USSR mostly is now fully amortized. For example railway park in in complete ruin. Central heating pipeline communications in cities like Kiev are in ruins too. In the USSR they tried to reuse the heat from electric stations and have elaborate hot water delivery networks from each, which provided heat to a large city blocks. Now pipes are completely rusted (which in 30 years is no surprise) and are in the state of constant repair. ..."
"... But when the standard of living dropped to such extent as it dropped after 2014 sentiments toward even slightly different ethnic groups turn hostile too. This is the case in Ukraine. In this sense you are wrong. There is no more unity now then existed before 2014. I would say there is less unity now. ..."
"... Sentiments turned against both Donbass dwellers and Ukrainians from Western Ukraine. In Kiev the derogatory term for both categories is "ponaekhali" ("come to overcrowd the place and displace us", or something along those lines; it's difficult to translate, but the term carries strong derogatory meaning) ..."
"... The nationalistic hysteria of 2014-2017 now mostly changed into deep depression: how a tiny group of far right nationalist and football hooligan gangs managed to get to power against the will of the majority of the country and destroy its economy. That's why Zelensky was elected and most far right parliamentarians lost their seats. Most of Western Ukraine voted for him, which is telling you something. ..."
"... The problem for Ukraine is that with the cut of economic ties with Russia the natural path for economics is probably down. De-industrialization, Baltic style, is raining supreme. Many enterprises survived the period from 1991 to 2014 only due to orders from Russia. Especially remnants of military industrial complex and manufacturing industry. Now what? Selling land (like Zelensky is trying to do) ? ..."
Jan 17, 2020 | www.unz.com

likbez says:January 17, 2020 at 8:35 am GMT • 1,500 Words @AP AP,

I agree with JPM:

I feel like robber barons in Kyiv have harmed you more through their looting of the country than impoverished Eastern Ukrainians, who were the biggest losers in the post-Soviet deindustrilization, have harmed you by existing and dying of diseases of poverty and despair.

It reminds me of how coastal shit-libs in America talk about "fly-over" country and want all the poor whites in Appalachia to die. I'm living in a country whose soul is totally poisoned. A country that is dying. While all this is happening, whites have split themselves into little factions focused on political point scoring.

I doubt people like Zelensky, Kolomoisky, Poroshenko and all the rest are going to turn Ukraine into an earthly paradise. They're more likely to be Neros playing harps, while Ukraine burns.

Looks like your understanding of Ukraine is mostly based of a short trip to Lvov and reading neoliberal MSM and forums. That's not enough, unless you want to be the next Max Boot.

Ukraine is a deeply sick patient, which surprisingly still stands despite all hardships (Ukrainians demonstrated amazing, superhuman resilience in the crisis that hit them, which greatly surprised all experts).

The infrastructure they inherited from the USSR mostly is now fully amortized. For example railway park in in complete ruin. Central heating pipeline communications in cities like Kiev are in ruins too. In the USSR they tried to reuse the heat from electric stations and have elaborate hot water delivery networks from each, which provided heat to a large city blocks. Now pipes are completely rusted (which in 30 years is no surprise) and are in the state of constant repair.

And, what is really tragic Ukraine now it is a debt state. Usually the latter is the capital sentence for the county. Few managed to escape even in more favorable conditions (South Korea is one.) So chances of economic recovery are slim: with such level of parasitic rent to the West the natural path is down and down. Don't cry for me Argentina.

And there is no money to replace already destroyed due to bad maintenance infrastructure, but surprisingly large parts of Soviets era infrastructure still somehow hold. For example, electrical networks, subway cars. But other part are already crumbling.

For example, in Kiev that means in some buildings you have winter without central heating, you have elevators in 16-storey buildings that work one or two weeks in month, you have no hot water, sometimes you have no water at all for a week or more, etc). Pensioners have problem with paying heating bills, so some of them are forced to live in non-heated apartments.

And that's in Kiev/Kyiv (Western Ukrainians love to change established names, much like communists) . In provincial cities it is a real horror show when even electricity supply became a problem. The countryside dwellers at least has its own food, but the situation for them is also very very difficult.

Other big problem -- few jobs and almost no well paid job, unless you are young, know English and have a university education (and are lucky). Before 2014 approximately 70% of Ukrainian labor migrants (in total a couple of million) came from the western part of the country, in which migration had become a widespread method of coping with poverty, the absence of jobs and low salaries.

Now this practice spread to the whole county. That destroyed many families.

The USA plays its usual games selling vassals crap at inflated prices (arms, uranium rods, coal, locomotives, cars, etc) , which Ukrainians can't refuse. Trump is simply a typical gangster in this respect, running a protection racket.

The rate of emigration and shrinking population is another fundamental problem. Mass emigration ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Ukraine ) is continuing even after Zelensky election. Looting by the West also continues unabated. This is disaster capitalism in action.

Add to those problems inflated military expenses to fight the civil war in Donbass which deprives other sectors of necessary funds (with the main affect of completely alienating Russia) and "Huston, we have a problem."

May be this is a natural path for xUSSR countries after the dissolution of the USSR, I don't know.

But the destiny of ordinary Ukrainians is deeply tragic: they wanted better life and got a really harsh one. Especially pensioners (typical pension is something like $60-$70) a month in Kiev, much less outside of Kiev. How they physically survive I do not fully understand.

There are still pro-Russian areas but being free of Crimea and Donbass means Ukraine can no longer be characterized as "split."

I agree that there is a substantial growth of anti-Russian sentiments. It is really noticeable. As well as growth of the usage of the Ukrainian language (previously Kiev, unlike Lvov was completely Russian-language city).

And in Western Ukraine Russiphobia was actually always a part of "national identity". The negative definition of national identity, if you wish. See popular slogan "Hto ne skache toi moskal" ("those who do not jump are Moskal" -- where Moskal is the derogatory name for a Russian). Here is this slogan in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6rfqr9afMc ;-)

But when the standard of living dropped to such extent as it dropped after 2014 sentiments toward even slightly different ethnic groups turn hostile too. This is the case in Ukraine. In this sense you are wrong. There is no more unity now then existed before 2014. I would say there is less unity now.

Sentiments turned against both Donbass dwellers and Ukrainians from Western Ukraine. In Kiev the derogatory term for both categories is "ponaekhali" ("come to overcrowd the place and displace us", or something along those lines; it's difficult to translate, but the term carries strong derogatory meaning) .

"Donetskie" (former Donbass dwellers, often displaced by the war) are generally strongly resented and luxury cars, villas, etc and other excesses of neoliberal elite are attributed mostly to them (Donbass neoliberal elite did moved to Kiev, not Moscow) , while "zapadentsi" are also, albeit less strongly, resented because they often use clan politics within institutions, and often do not put enough effort (or are outright incompetent), as they rely on its own clan ties for survival.

This sentiment is stronger to the south of Kiev where the resentment is directed mainly against Western Ukrainians, not against "Donetskie" like in Kiev. And I am talking not only about Odessa. Western Ukrainians are now strongly associated with corrupt ways of getting lucrative positions (via family, clan or political connections), being incompetent and doing nothing useful.

What surprise me is that this resentment against "zapadentsi" and "Poloshenko clan" is shared by many people from Western Ukraine. The target is often slightly more narrow, for example Hutsuls in Lviv ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutsuls )

The nationalistic hysteria of 2014-2017 now mostly changed into deep depression: how a tiny group of far right nationalist and football hooligan gangs managed to get to power against the will of the majority of the country and destroy its economy. That's why Zelensky was elected and most far right parliamentarians lost their seats. Most of Western Ukraine voted for him, which is telling you something.

The problem for Ukraine is that with the cut of economic ties with Russia the natural path for economics is probably down. De-industrialization, Baltic style, is raining supreme. Many enterprises survived the period from 1991 to 2014 only due to orders from Russia. Especially remnants of military industrial complex and manufacturing industry. Now what? Selling land (like Zelensky is trying to do) ?

Ukraine will probably eventually lose a large part of its chemical industry because without subsidies for gas it just can't complete even taking into account low labor costs. And manufacturing because without Russian market it is difficult to find a place for their production in already established markets, competing only in price and suffering in quality (I remember something about Iraq returning Ukrainians all ordered armored carriers due to defect is the the armor https://sputniknews.com/military/201705221053859853-armored-vehicles-defects-extent /). Although at least for the Ukrainian arm industry there is place on the market in countries which are used to old Soviet armaments, because those are rehashed Soviet products.

Add to this corrupt and greedy diaspora (all those Jaresko, Chalupas, Freelands, Vindmans, etc ) from the USA and Canada (and not only diaspora -- look at Biden, Kerry, etc) who want their piece of the pie after 2014 "Revolution of dignity" (what a sad joke) and you will see the problems more clearly. Not that much changed from the period 1991-2014 where Ukraine was also royally fleeced by own oligarchs allied with Western banksers, simply now this leads to quicker deterioration of the standard of living.

None of Eastern European countries benefited from a color revolution staged by the USA. This is about opening the country not only to multinationals (while they loot the county they at least behave within a certain legal bounds, demonstrating at least decency of gangsters like in Godfather), but to petty foreign criminals from diaspora and outside of it who allies with the local oligarchs and smaller nouveau riche and are siphoning all the county wealth to western banks as soon as possible. Greed of the disapora is simply unbounded. https://neweasterneurope.eu/2016/08/26/the-ukrainian-diaspora-as-a-recipient-of-oligarchic-cash/

Of course, Ukrainian diaspora is not uniform. Still, outside well-know types from the tiny Mid-Eastern country, the most dangerous people for Ukraine are probably Ukrainians from diaspora with dual citizenship

[Jan 12, 2020] MIC along with Wall Street controls the government and the country

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. likbez , January 12, 2020 5:30 pm

    Everyone keeps dancing around it: Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal. Who profits from Peace? Who does not?

    The killing of Soleimani, while a tragic even with far reaching consequences, is just an illustration of the general rule: MIC does not profit from peace. And MIC dominates any national security state, into which the USA was transformed by the technological revolution on computers and communications, as well as the events of 9/11.

    The USA government can be viewed as just a public relations center for MIC. That's why Trump/Pompeo/Esper/Pence gang position themselves as rabid neocons, which means MIC lobbyists in order to hold their respective positions. There is no way out of this situation. This is a classic Catch 22 trap.

    The fact that a couple of them are also "Rapture" obsessed religious bigots means that the principle of separation of church and state does no matter when MIC interests are involved.

    The health of MIC requires maintaining an inflated defense budget at all costs. Which, in turn, drives foreign wars and the drive to capture other nations' resources to compensate for MIC appetite. The drive which is of course closely allied with Wall Street interests (disaster capitalism.)

    In such conditions fake "imminent threat" assassinations necessarily start happening. Although the personality of Pompeo and the fact that he is a big friend of the current head of Mossad probably played some role.

    It's really funny that Trump (probably with the help of his "reference group," which includes Adelson and Kushner), managed to appoint as the top US diplomat a person who was trained as a mechanic engineer and specialized as a tank repair mechanic. And who was a long-time military contractor. So it is quite natural that he represents interests of MIC.

    IMHO under Trump/Pompeo/Esper trio some kind of additional skirmishes with Iran are a real possibility: they are necessary to maintain the current inflated level of defense spending.

    State of the US infrastructure, the actual level of unemployment (U6 is ~7% which some neolibs call full employment ;-), and the level of poverty of the bottom 33% of the USA population be damned. Essentially the bottom 33% is the third world country within the USA.

    "If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans

    The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year. "

    ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/income-inequality-crisis_n_4221012 )

[Jan 10, 2020] The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like Iran is Catch22 for the USA: it can destroy it, but only at the cost of losing empire and dollar hegemony...
Notable quotes:
"... The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem. ..."
"... The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight. ..."
"... Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI. ..."
"... The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess. ..."
"... This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development. ..."
"... "Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries." ..."
"... "For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq." ..."
"... Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous. ..."
"... I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt. ..."
"... Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs". ..."
"... This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers. ..."
"... This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article ..."
"... "The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire." ..."
"... The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power. ..."
"... In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world. ..."
"... the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities. ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | thesaker.is

[this interview was made for the Unz Review ]

Introduction: After posting Michael Hudson's article " America Escalates its "Democratic" Oil War in the Near East " on the blog, I decided to ask Michael to reply to a few follow-up questions. Michael very kindly agreed. Please see our exchange below.

The Saker

-- -- -

The Saker: Trump has been accused of not thinking forward, of not having a long-term strategy regarding the consequences of assassinating General Suleimani. Does the United States in fact have a strategy in the Near East, or is it only ad hoc?

Michael Hudson: Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it.

President Trump is just the taxicab driver, taking the passengers he has accepted – Pompeo, Bolton and the Iran-derangement syndrome neocons – wherever they tell him they want to be driven. They want to pull a heist, and he's being used as the getaway driver (fully accepting his role). Their plan is to hold onto the main source of their international revenue: Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Near Eastern oil-export surpluses and money. They see the US losing its ability to exploit Russia and China, and look to keep Europe under its control by monopolizing key sectors so that it has the power to use sanctions to squeeze countries that resist turning over control of their economies and natural rentier monopolies to US buyers. In short, US strategists would like to do to Europe and the Near East just what they did to Russia under Yeltsin: turn over public infrastructure, natural resources and the banking system to U.S. owners, relying on US dollar credit to fund their domestic government spending and private investment.

This is basically a resource grab. Suleimani was in the same position as Chile's Allende, Libya's Qaddafi, Iraq's Saddam. The motto is that of Stalin: "No person, no problem."

The Saker: Your answer raises a question about Israel: In your recent article you only mention Israel twice, and these are only passing comments. Furthermore, you also clearly say the US Oil lobby as much more crucial than the Israel Lobby, so here is my follow-up question to you: On what basis have you come to this conclusion and how powerful do you believe the Israel Lobby to be compared to, say, the Oil lobby or the US Military-Industrial Complex? To what degree do their interests coincide and to what degree to they differ?

Michael Hudson: I wrote my article to explain the most basic concerns of U.S. international diplomacy: the balance of payments (dollarizing the global economy, basing foreign central bank savings on loans to the U.S. Treasury to finance the military spending mainly responsible for the international and domestic budget deficit), oil (and the enormous revenue produced by the international oil trade), and recruitment of foreign fighters (given the impossibility of drafting domestic U.S. soldiers in sufficient numbers). From the time these concerns became critical to today, Israel was viewed as a U.S. military base and supporter, but the U.S. policy was formulated independently of Israel.

I remember one day in 1973 or '74 I was traveling with my Hudson Institute colleague Uzi Arad (later a head of Mossad and advisor to Netanyahu) to Asia, stopping off in San Francisco. At a quasi-party, a U.S. general came up to Uzi and clapped him on the shoulder and said, "You're our landed aircraft carrier in the Near East," and expressed his friendship.

Uzi was rather embarrassed. But that's how the U.S. military thought of Israel back then. By that time the three planks of U.S. foreign policy strategy that I outlined were already firmly in place.

Of course Netanyahu has applauded U.S. moves to break up Syria, and Trump's assassination choice. But the move is a U.S. move, and it's the U.S. that is acting on behalf of the dollar standard, oil power and mobilizing Saudi Arabia's Wahabi army.

Israel fits into the U.S.-structured global diplomacy much like Turkey does. They and other countries act opportunistically within the context set by U.S. diplomacy to pursue their own policies. Obviously Israel wants to secure the Golan Heights; hence its opposition to Syria, and also its fight with Lebanon; hence, its opposition to Iran as the backer of Assad and Hezbollah. This dovetails with US policy.

But when it comes to the global and U.S. domestic response, it's the United States that is the determining active force. And its concern rests above all with protecting its cash cow of Saudi Arabia, as well as working with the Saudi jihadis to destabilize governments whose foreign policy is independent of U.S. direction – from Syria to Russia (Wahabis in Chechnya) to China (Wahabis in the western Uighur region). The Saudis provide the underpinning for U.S. dollarization (by recycling their oil revenues into U.S. financial investments and arms purchases), and also by providing and organizing the ISIS terrorists and coordinating their destruction with U.S. objectives. Both the Oil lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex obtain huge economic benefits from the Saudis.

Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about.

The Saker: In your recent article you wrote: " The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves ." Others believe that the goal was precisely the opposite, to get a pretext to remove the US forces from both Iraq and Syria. What are your grounds to believe that your hypothesis is the most likely one?

Michael Hudson: Why would killing Suleimani help remove the U.S. presence? He was the leader of the fight against ISIS, especially in Syria. US policy was to continue using ISIS to permanently destabilize Syria and Iraq so as to prevent a Shi'ite crescent reaching from Iran to Lebanon – which incidentally would serve as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. So it killed Suleimani to prevent the peace negotiation. He was killed because he had been invited by Iraq's government to help mediate a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. That was what the United States feared most of all, because it effectively would prevent its control of the region and Trump's drive to seize Iraqi and Syrian oil.

So using the usual Orwellian doublethink, Suleimani was accused of being a terrorist, and assassinated under the U.S. 2002 military Authorization Bill giving the President to move without Congressional approval against Al Qaeda. Trump used it to protect Al Qaeda's terrorist ISIS offshoots.

Given my three planks of U.S. diplomacy described above, the United States must remain in the Near East to hold onto Saudi Arabia and try to make Iraq and Syria client states equally subservient to U.S. balance-of-payments and oil policy.

Certainly the Saudis must realize that as the buttress of U.S. aggression and terrorism in the Near East, their country (and oil reserves) are the most obvious target to speed the parting guest. I suspect that this is why they are seeking a rapprochement with Iran. And I think it is destined to come about, at least to provide breathing room and remove the threat. The Iranian missiles to Iraq were a demonstration of how easy it would be to aim them at Saudi oil fields. What then would be Aramco's stock market valuation?

The Saker: In your article you wrote: " The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America's military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America's financial leverage. " I want to ask a basic, really primitive question in this regard: how cares about the balance of payments as long as 1) the US continues to print money 2) most of the world will still want dollars. Does that not give the US an essentially "infinite" budget? What is the flaw in this logic?

Michael Hudson: The U.S. Treasury can create dollars to spend at home, and the Fed can increase the banking system's ability to create dollar credit and pay debts denominated in US dollars. But they cannot create foreign currency to pay other countries, unless they willingly accept dollars ad infinitum – and that entails bearing the costs of financing the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, getting only IOUs in exchange for real resources that they sell to U.S. buyers.

This is the situation that arose half a century ago. The United States could print dollars in 1971, but it could not print gold.

In the 1920s, Germany's Reichsbank could print deutsche marks – trillions of them. When it came to pay Germany's foreign reparations debt, all it could do was to throw these D-marks onto the foreign exchange market. That crashed the currency's exchange rate, forcing up the price of imports proportionally and causing the German hyperinflation.

The question is, how many surplus dollars do foreign governments want to hold. Supporting the dollar standard ends up supporting U.S. foreign diplomacy and military policy. For the first time since World War II, the most rapidly growing parts of the world are seeking to de-dollarize their economies by reducing reliance on U.S. exports, U.S. investment, and U.S. bank loans. This move is creating an alternative to the dollar, likely to replace it with groups of other currencies and assets in national financial reserves.

The Saker: In the same article you also write: " So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. " We often hear people say that the dollar is about to tank and that as soon as that happens, then the US economy (and, according to some, the EU economy too) will collapse. In the intelligence community there is something called tracking the "indicators and warnings". My question to you is: what are the economic "indicators and warnings" of a possible (probable?) collapse of the US dollar followed by a collapse of the financial markets most tied to the Dollar? What shall people like myself (I am an economic ignoramus) keep an eye on and look for?

Michael Hudson: What is most likely is a slow decline, largely from debt deflation and cutbacks in social spending, in the Eurozone and US economies. Of course, the decline will force the more highly debt-leveraged companies to miss their bond payments and drive them into insolvency. That is the fate of Thatcherized economies. But it will be long and painfully drawn out, largely because there is little left-wing socialist alternative to neoliberalism at present.

Trump's protectionist policies and sanctions are forcing other countries to become self-reliant and independent of US suppliers, from farm crops to airplanes and military arms, against the US threat of a cutoff or sanctions against repairs, spare parts and servicing. Sanctioning Russian agriculture has helped it become a major crop exporter, and to become much more independent in vegetables, dairy and cheese products. The US has little to offer industrially, especially given the fact that its IT communications are stuffed with US spyware.

Europe therefore is facing increasing pressure from its business sector to choose the non-US economic alliance that is growing more rapidly and offers a more profitable investment market and more secure trade supplier. Countries will turn as much as possible (diplomatically as well as financially and economically) to non-US suppliers because the United States is not reliable, and because it is being shrunk by the neoliberal policies supported by Trump and the Democrats alike. A byproduct probably will be a continued move toward gold as an alternative do the dollar in settling balance-of-payments deficits.

The Saker: Finally, my last question: which country out there do you see as the most capable foe of the current US-imposed international political and economic world order? whom do you believe that US Deep State and the Neocons fear most? China? Russia? Iran? some other country? How would you compare them and on the basis of what criteria?

Michael Hudson: The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution. He is uniting the world in a move toward multi-centrism much more than any ostensibly anti-American could have done. And he is doing it all in the name of American patriotism and nationalism – the ultimate Orwellian rhetorical wrapping!

Trump has driven Russia and China together with the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including Iran as observer. His demand that NATO join in US oil grabs and its supportive terrorism in the Near East and military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere probably will lead to European "Ami go home" demonstrations against NATO and America's threat of World War III.

No single country can counter the U.S. unipolar world order. It takes a critical mass of countries. This already is taking place among the countries that you list above. They are simply acting in their own common interest, using their own mutual currencies for trade and investment. The effect is an alternative multilateral currency and trading area.

The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem.

The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight.

The Saker: I thank you very much for your time and answers! ­


Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:19 pm EST/EDT

What a truly superb interview!

Another one that absolutely stands for me out is the below link to a recent interview of Hussein Askary.

As I wrote a few days ago IMO this too is a wonderful insight into the utterly complicated dynamics of the tinderbox that the situation in Iran and Iraq has become.

Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI.

The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess.

This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development.

In essence, this would enable the direct and efficient linking of Iraq into the BRI project. Going forward the economic gains and the political stability that could come out of this would be a completely new paradigm in the recovery of Iraq both economically and politically. Iraq is essential for a major part of the dynamics of the BRI because of its strategic location and the fact that it could form a major hub in the overall network.

It absolutely goes without saying that the AAA would do everything the could to wreck this plan. This is their playbook and is exactly what they have done. The moronic and extraordinarily impulsive Trump subsequently was easily duped into being a willing and idiotic accomplice in this plan.

The positive in all of this is that this whole scheme will backfire spectacularly for the perpetrators and will more than likely now speed up the whole process in getting Iraq back on track and working towards stability and prosperity.

Please don't anyone try to claim that Trump is part of any grand plan nothing could be further from the truth he is nothing more than a bludgeoning imbecile foundering around, lashing out impulsively indiscriminately. He is completely oblivious and ignorant as to the real picture.

I urge everyone involved in this Saker site to put aside an hour and to listen very carefully to Askary's insights. This is extremely important and could bring more clarity to understanding the situation than just about everything else you have read put together. There is hope, and Askary highlights the huge stakes that both Russia and China have in the region.

This is a no brainer. This is the time for both Russia and China to act and to decisively. They must cooperate in assisting both Iraq and Iran to extract themselves from the current quagmire the one that the vicious Hegemon so cruelly and thoughtlessly tossed them into.

Cheers from the south seas
Col

And the link to the Askary interview: . https://youtu.be/UD1hWq6KD44

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:22 pm EST/EDT
Also interesting is what Simon Watkins reports in his recent article entitled "Is Iraq About To Become A Chinese Client State?"

To quote from the article:

"Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries."

and

"For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq."

and

"The second key announcement in this vein made last week from Iraq was that the Oil Ministry has completed the pre-qualifying process for companies interested in participating in the Iraqi-Jordanian oil pipeline project. The U$5 billion pipeline is aimed at carrying oil produced from the Rumaila oilfield in Iraq's Basra Governorate to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, with the first phase of the project comprising the installation of a 700-kilometre-long pipeline with a capacity of 2.25 million bpd within the Iraqi territories (Rumaila-Haditha). The second phase includes installing a 900-kilometre pipeline in Jordan between Haditha and Aqaba with a capacity of 1 million bpd. Iraq's Oil Minister – for the time being, at least – Thamir Ghadhban added that the Ministry has formed a team to prepare legal contracts, address financial issues and oversee technical standards for implementing the project, and that May will be the final month in which offers for the project from the qualified companies will be accepted and that the winners will be announced before the end of this year. Around 150,000 barrels of the oil from Iraq would be used for Jordan's domestic needs, whilst the remainder would be exported through Aqaba to various destinations, generating about US$3 billion a year in revenues to Jordan, with the rest going to Iraq. Given that the contractors will be expected to front-load all of the financing for the projects associated with this pipeline, Baghdad expects that such tender offers will be dominated by Chinese and Russian companies, according to the Iran and Iraq source."

Cheers
Col

And the link https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Is-Iraq-About-To-Become-A-Chinese-Client-State.html#

Anonymouse on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:20 pm EST/EDT
Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous.

They will not sacrifice the (free) oil until booted out by a coalition of Arab countries threatening to over run them and that is why the dollar hegemonys death will be slow, long and drawn out and they will do anything, any dirty trick in the book, to prevent Arab/Persian unity. Unlike many peoples obsession with Israel and how important they feel themselves to be I think Hudson is correct again. They are the middle eastern version of the British – a stationary aircraft carrier who will allow themselves to be used and abused whilst living under the illusion they are major players. They aren't. They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat. If you want to beat America you have to understand the big scheme, that and the utter insanity that backs it up. It is that insanity of the leites, the inability to allow themselves to be 'beaten' that will keep nuclear exchange as a real possibility over the next 10 to 15 years. Unification is the only thing that can stop it and trying to unite so many disparate countries (as the Russians are trying to do despite multiple provocations) is where the future lies and why it will take so long. It is truly breath taking in such a horrific way, as Hudson mentions, that to allow the world to see its 'masters of the universe' pogram to be revealed:

"Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it."

Would be to allow it to be undermined at home and abroad. God help us all.

Little Black Duck on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:01 pm EST/EDT
They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat.

So who owns the dollar? And who owns the oil companies?

Osori on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:06 pm EST/EDT
I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt.
Zachary Smith on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:53 pm EST/EDT
Clever would be a better word. Looking at my world globe, I see Italy, Greece, and Turkey on that end of the Mediterranean. Turkey has been in NATO since 1952. Crete and Cyprus are also right there. Doesn't Hudson own a globe or regional map?

That a US Admiral would be gushing about the Apartheid state 7 years after the attempted destruction of the USS Liberty is painful to consider. I'd like to disbelieve the story, but it's quite likely there were a number of high-ranking ***holes in a Naval Uniform.

44360 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:34 pm EST/EDT
The world situation reminds us of the timeless fable by Aesop of The North Wind and the Sun.

Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs".

Perhaps the most potent weapon Iran or anyone else has at this critical juncture, is not missiles, but diplomacy.

Ahmed on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:37 pm EST/EDT
"Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about."

Thank you for saying this sir. In the US and around the world many people become obsessively fixated in seeing a "jew" or zionist behind every bush. Now the Zionists are certinly an evil, blood thirsty bunch, and certainly deserve the scorn of the world, but i feel its a cop out sometimes. A person from the US has a hard time stomaching the actions of their country, so they just hoist all the unpleasentries on to the zionists. They put it all on zionisim, and completly fail to mention imperialism. I always switced back and forth on the topic my self. But i cant see how a beachead like the zionist state, a stationary carrier, can be bigger than the empire itself. Just look at the major leaders in the resistance groups, the US was always seen as the ultimate obstruction, while israel was seen as a regional obstruction. Like sayyed hassan nasrallah said in his recent speech about the martyrs, that if the US is kicked out, the Israelis might just run away with out even fighting. I hate it when people say "we are in the middle east for israel" when it can easily be said that "israel is still in the mid east because of the US." If the US seized to exist today, israel would fall rather quickly. If israel fell today the US would still continue being an imperalist, bloodthirsty entity.

Azorka1861 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:57 pm EST/EDT
The Deeper Story behind the Assassination of Soleimani

This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers.

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/08/vital-the-deeper-story-behind-the-assassination-of-soleimani/

..

Nils on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:05 pm EST/EDT
This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article

I wish the Saker had asked Mr Hudson about some crucial recent events to get his opinion with regards to US foreign policy. Specifically, how does the emergence of cryptocurrency relate to dollar finance and the US grand strategy? A helpful tool for the hegemon or the emergence of a new currency that prevents unlimited currency printing? Finally, what is global warming and the associated carbon credit system? The next planned model of continuing global domination and balance of payments? Or true organic attempt at fair energy production and management?

Much thanks for this interview, Saker

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:26 pm EST/EDT
With all due respect, these are huge questions in themselves and perhaps could to be addressed in separate interviews. IMO it doesn't always work that well to try to cover too much ground in just one giant leap.

Regards
Col

Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:26 pm EST/EDT
I have never understood the Cebrowski doctrine. How does the destruction of Middle Eastern state structures allow the US to control Middle East Oil? The level of chaos generated by such an act would seem to prevent anyone from controlled the oil.
Outlaw Historian on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:48 pm EST/EDT
Dr. Hudson often appears on RT's "Keiser Report" where he covers many contemporary topics with its host Max Keiser. Many of the shows transcripts are available at Hudson's website . Indeed, after the two Saker items, you'll find three programs on the first page. Using the search function at his site, you'll find the two articles he's written that deal with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, although I think he's been more specific in the TV interviews.

As for this Q&A, its an A+. Hudson's 100% correct to playdown the Zionist influence given the longstanding nature of the Outlaw US Empire's methods that began well before the rise of the Zionist Lobby, which in reality is a recycling of aid dollars back to Congress in the form of bribes.

RR on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:59 pm EST/EDT
Nils: Good Article. The spirit of Nihilism.
Quote from Neocon Michael Ladeen.

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence -- our existence, not our politics -- threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

Frank on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:27 pm EST/EDT
@NILS As far as crypto currency goes it is a brilliant idea in concept. But since during the Bush years we have been shown multiple times, who actually owns [and therefore controls] the internet. Many times now we have also been informed that through the monitoring capability's of our defense agency's, they are recording every key stroke. IMO, with the flip of a switch, we can shut down the internet. At the very least, that would stop us from being able to trade in crypto, but they have e-files on each of us. They know our passwords, or can easily access them. That does not give me confidence in e=currency during a teotwawki situation.
Anonymous on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:34 pm EST/EDT
A truly superb interview, thanks Michael Hudson.
David on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:39 pm EST/EDT
One thing that troubles me about the petrodollar thesis is that ANNUAL trade in oil is about 2 trillion DAILY trade in $US is 4 trillion. I can well believe the US thinks oil is the bedrock if dollar hegemony but is it? I see no alternative to US dollar hegemony.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:17 pm EST/EDT
Excellent article.

The lines that really got my attention were these:

"The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire."

That is so completely true. I have wondered why – to date – there had not been more movement by Europe away from the United States. But while reading the article the following occurred to me. Maybe Europe is awaiting the next U.S. election. Maybe they hope that a new president (someone like Biden) might allow Europe to keep more of the "spoils."

If that is true, then a re-election of Trump will probably send Europe fleeing for the exits. The Europeans will be cutting deals with Russia and China like the store is on fire.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:22 pm EST/EDT
The critical player in forming the EU WAS/IS the US financial Elites. Yes, they had many ultra powerful Europeans, especially Germany, but it was the US who initiated the EU.

Purpose? For the US Financial Powerhouses & US politicians to "take Europe captive." Notice the similarities: the EU has its Central Bank who communicates with the private Banksters of the FED. Much austerity has ensued, especially in Southern nations: Greece, Italy, etc. Purpose: to smash unions, worker's pay, eliminate unions, and basically allowing US/EU Financial capital to buy out Italy, most of Greece, and a goodly section of Spain and Portugal.

The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power.

Craig Mouldey on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:19 pm EST/EDT
I have a hard time wrapping my head around this but it sounds like he is saying that the U.S. has a payment deficit problem which is solved by stealing the world's oil supplies. To do this they must have a powerful, expensive military. But it is primarily this military which is the main cause of the balance deficit. So it is an eternally fuelled problem and solution. If I understand this, what it actually means is that we all live on a plantation as slaves and everything that is happening is for the benefit of the few wealthy billionaires. And they intend to turn the entire world into their plantation of slaves. They may even let you live for a while longer.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:25 pm EST/EDT
Actually, oil underlies everything.

I didn't know this until I read a history of World War I.

As you know, World War One was irresolvable, murderous, bloody trench warfare. People would charge out of the trenches trying to overrun enemy positions only to be cutdown by the super weapon of the day – the machine gun. It was an unending bloody stalemate until the development of the tank. Tanks were immune to machine gun fire coming from the trenches and could overrun enemy positions. In the aftermath of that war, it became apparently that mechanization had become crucial to military supremacy. In turn, fuel was crucial to mechanization. Accordingly, in the Sykes Picot agreement France and Britain divided a large amount of Middle Eastern oil between themselves in order to assure military dominance. (The United States had plenty of their own oil at that time.)

In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world.

That is one third of the story. The second third is this.

Up till 1971, the United States dollar was the most trusted currency in the world. The dollar was backed by gold and lots and lots of it. Dollars were in fact redeemable in gold. However, due to Vietnam War, the United States started running huge balance of payments deficits. Other countries – most notably France under De Gaulle – started cashing in dollars in exchange for that gold. Gold started flooding out of the United States. At that point Nixon took the United States off of the gold standard. Basically stating that the dollar was no longer backed by gold and dollars could not be redeemed for gold. That caused an international payments problem. People would no longer accept dollars as payment since the dollar was not backed up by anything. The American economy was in big trouble since they were running deficits and people would no longer take dollars on faith.

To fix the problem, Henry Kissinger convinced the Saudis to agree to only accept dollars in payment for oil – no matter who was the buyer. That meant that nations throughout the world now needed dollars in order to pay for their energy needs. Due to this, the dollars was once again the most important currency in the world since – as noted above – energy underlies everything in modern industrial cultures. Additionally, since dollars were now needed throughout the world, it became common to make all trades for any product in highly valued dollars. Everyone needed dollars for every thing, oil or not.

At that point, the United States could go on printing dollars and spending them since a growing world economy needed more and more dollars to buy oil as well as to trade everything else.

That leads to the third part of the story. In order to convince the Saudis to accept only dollars in payments for oil (and to have the Saudis strong arm other oil producers to do the same) Kissinger promised to protect the brutal Saudi regime's hold on power against a restive citizenry and also to protect the Saudi's against other nations. Additionally, Kissinger made an implicit threat that if the Saudi's did not agree, the US would come in and just take their oil. The Saudis agreed.

Thus, the three keys to dominance in the modern world are thus: oil, dollars and the military.

Thus, Hudson ties in the three threads in his interview above. Oil, Dollars, Military. That is what holds the empire together.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:26 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for thinking through this. Yes, the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities.
Stanislaw Janowicz on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:58 pm EST/EDT
I should make one note only to this. That "no man, no problem" was Stalin's motto is a myth. He never said that. It was invented by a writer Alexei Rybnikov and inserted in his book "The Children of Arbat".
Greg Horrall on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:42 pm EST/EDT
Wow! Absolutely beautiful summation of the ultimate causes that got us where we are and, if left intact, will get us to where we're going!

So, the dreamer says: If only we could throw-off our us-vs-them BS political-economic ideology & religious doctrine-faith issues, put them into live-and-let-live mode, and see that we are all just humans fighting over this oil resource to which our modern economy (way of life) is addicted, then we might be able to hammer out some new rules for interacting, for running an earth-resource sustainable and fair global economy We do at least have the technology to leave behind our oil addiction, but the political-economic will still is lacking. How much more of the current insanity must we have before we get that will? Will we get it before it's too late?

Only if we, a sufficient majority from the lowest economic classes to the top elites and throughout all nations, are able to psychologically-spiritually internalize the two principles of Common Humanity and Spaceship Earth soon enough, will we stop our current slide off the cliff into modern economic collapse and avert all the pain and suffering that's already now with us and that will intensify.

The realist says we're not going to stop that slide and it's the only way we're going to learn, if we are indeed ever going to learn.

Ann Watson on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:42 pm EST/EDT
So now we know why Michael Hudson avoids the Israel involvment – Like Pepe.
Лишний Человек on January 09, 2020 , · at 11:02 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for this excellent interview. You ask the kind of questions that we would all like to ask. It's regrettable that Chalmers Johnson isn't still alive. I believe that you and he would have a lot in common.

Naxos has produced an incredible, unabridged cd audiobook of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One of Gibbon's observations really resonates today: "Assassination is the last resource of cowards". Thanks again.

[Jan 08, 2020] Iraqi Journalist: Killing Soleimani "Ended An Era In Which Iran And The United States Coexisted In Iraq" by Tim Hains

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Now, he told "Democracy Now!", it will be hard for the Iraqi public to see the bases as anything but "a force that is driving them into a war between Iran and the United States." ..."
"... "Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, the rules of the game have totally changed," he said. ..."
Jan 06, 2020 | www.realclearpolitics.com

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TKvE-nIsj1Y?enablejsapi=1&origin=https:%2F%2Fwww.realclearpolitics.com

"The Guardian" journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad says that before the attack on Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last week "there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians" that allowed officials from Iran and the U.S. to move freely within Iraq and maintained relative goodwill toward American bases.

"The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq," he said.

Now, he told "Democracy Now!", it will be hard for the Iraqi public to see the bases as anything but "a force that is driving them into a war between Iran and the United States."

"Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, the rules of the game have totally changed," he said.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith, can you comment on this new information that's come to light about the timing of Soleimani's assassination Friday morning? Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has revealed he had plans to meet with Soleimani on the day he was killed to discuss a Saudi proposal to defuse tension in the region. Mahdi said, quote, "He came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi Arabia to Iran" -- Saudi Arabia, obviously, a well-known enemy of Iran. Was he set up? Talk about the significance of this.

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: Well, it is very significant if it's actually General Qassem Soleimani came to Iraq to deliver this message, if it was actually there was a process of negotiations in the region. We know that Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government, in general, over the last year had been trying to position Iraq as this middle power, as this power where both -- you know, as a country that has a relationship with both Iran and the United States. In that awkward place Iraq found itself in, Iraq has tried to maximize on this. So they started back in summer and fall, when there was an escalation between Iran and the United States, when Iran shot down an American drone. We've seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi fly to Iran, try to mediate. We've seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi open channels of communications with the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia.

So, if it actually, the killing of General Soleimani, ended that peace initiative, it will be kind of disastrous in the region, because, as Narges was saying earlier, it is -- you know, Pompeo is speaking about Iran being this ultimate evil in the region, as this crescent of Shias, as if they just arrived in the past 10 years in the region. The fact if we see Iran's reactions, it's always a reaction to an American provocation. You've seen the occupation of Iraq in 2003. You've seen Iran declared as an "axis of evil." So, if you see it from an Iranian perspective, it's always this existential threat coming from the United States. And I don't think there is a more existential threat than in past year. So, yes, I know -- I mean, I think Adel Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government were trying to find this middle ground, which I think is totally lost, because even Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the person who was trying to find this middle ground, was the person who proposed this law yesterday in the Parliament to expel all American troops from the country.

And I would like to add like another thing. The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq. So, from 2013, '14, we, as journalists, we've seen on the frontlines how the proxies of each power have been helping each other. So we've seen Iranian advisers helping the American-trained Iraqi Army unit or counterterrorism unit in the fight against ISIS. In the same sense, we've seen American airstrikes on threats to these -- kind of to ISIS when it was threatening these militias. That coexistence, it didn't only come from both having a -- sharing an enemy, which is ISIS, or Daesh, but also these were the rules of the game. These were the rules in which Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn't happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, I think the rules of the game have totally changed.

So now I think the first victim of the assassination will be the American bases in Iraq. I don't see any way where the Americans can keep their presence as they did before the assassination of Soleimani. And even the people in the streets, even the people who opposes Iran, who opposes the presence of Iranian militias in power and politics, the corruption of these pro-Iranian parties, even those people would look at these American bases now as not as a force that came to help them in the fight against ISIS, but a force that's dragging them into a war between Iran and the United States.

[Jan 08, 2020] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Highly recommended!
Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Notable quotes:
"... Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ". ..."
"... Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey). ..."
"... These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper. ..."
"... As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump" ..."
"... I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have? ..."
"... The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking. ..."
"... Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ..."
"... Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. ..."
"... We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,

re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,

as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

[Jan 06, 2020] How To Avoid Swallowing War Propaganda by Nathan J. Robinson

Highly recommended!
Jan 05, 2020 | www.currentaffairs.org
The Trump administration has assassinated Iran's top military leader, Qassim Suleimani, and with the possibility of a serious escalation in violent conflict, it's a good time to think about how propaganda works and train ourselves to avoid accidentally swallowing it.

The Iraq War, the bloodiest and costliest U.S. foreign policy calamity of the 21 st century, happened in part because the population of the United States was insufficiently cynical about its government and got caught up in a wave of nationalistic fervor. The same thing happened with World War I and the Vietnam War. Since a U.S./Iran war would be a disaster, it is vital that everyone make sure they do not accidentally end up repeating the kinds of talking points that make war more likely.

Let us bear in mind, then, some of the basic lessons about war propaganda.

Things are not true because a government official says them.

I do not mean to treat you as stupid by making such a basic point, but plenty of journalists and opposition party politicians do not understand this point's implications, so it needs to be said over and over. What happens in the leadup to war is that government officials make claims about the enemy, and then those claims appear in newspapers ("U.S. officials say Saddam poses an imminent threat") and then in the public consciousness, the "U.S. officials say" part disappears, so that the claim is taken for reality without ever really being scrutinized. This happens because newspapers are incredibly irresponsible and believe that so long as you attach "Experts say" or "President says" to a claim, you are off the hook when people end up believing it, because all you did was relay the fact that a person said a thing, you didn't say it was true. This is the approach the New York Times took to Bush administration allegations in the leadup to the Iraq War, and it meant that false claims could become headline news just because a high-ranking U.S. official said them. [UPDATE: here's an example from Vox, today, of a questionable government claim being magically transformed into a certain fact.]

In the context of Iran, let us consider some things Mike Pence tweeted about Qassim Suleimani:

"[Suleimani] assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. The world is a safer place today because Soleimani is gone."

It is possible, given these tweets, to publish the headline: "Suleimani plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats, says Pence." That headline is technically true. But you should not publish that headline unless Pence provides some supporting evidence, because what will happen in the discourse is that people will link to your news story to prove that Suleimani was plotting imminent attacks.

To see how unsubstantiated claims get spread, let's think about the Afghanistan hijackers bit. David Harsanyi of the National Review defends Pence's claim about Suleimani helping the hijackers. Harsanyi cites the 9/11 Commission report, saying that the 9/11 commission report concluded Iran aided the hijackers. The report does indeed say that Iran allowed free travel to some of the men who went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks. (The sentence cut off at the bottom of Harsanyi's screenshot, however, rather crucially says : "We have no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.") Harsanyi admits that the report says absolutely nothing about Suleimani. But he argues that Pence was "mostly right," pointing out that Pence did not say Iran knew these men would be the hijackers, merely that it allowed them passage.

Let's think about what is going on here. Pence is trying to convince us that Suleimani deserved to die, that it was necessary for the U.S. to kill him, which will also mean that if Iran retaliates violently, that violence will be because Iran is an aggressive power rather than because the U.S. just committed an unprovoked atrocity against one of its leaders, dropping a bomb on a popular Iranian leader. So Pence wants to link Suleimani in your mind with 9/11, in order to get you blood boiling the same way you might have felt in 2001 as you watched the Twin Towers fall.

There is no evidence that either Iran or Suleimani tried to help these men do 9/11. Harsanyi says that Pence does not technically allege this. But he doesn't have to! What impression are people going to get from helped the hijackers? Pence hopes you'll conflate Suleimani and Iran as one entity, then assume that if Iran ever aided these men in any way, it basically did 9/11 even if it didn't have any clue that was what they were going to do.

This brings us to #2:

Do not be bullied into accepting simple-minded sloganeering

Let's say that, long before Ted Kaczynski began sending bombs through the mail, you once rented him an apartment. This was pure coincidence. Back then he was just a Berkeley professor, you did not know he would turn out to be the Unabomber. It is, however, possible, for me to say, and claim I am not technically lying, that you "housed and materially aided the Unabomber." (A friend of mine once sold his house to the guy who turned out to be the Green River Killer, so this kind of situation does happen.)

Of course, it is incredibly dishonest of me to characterize what you did that way. You rented an apartment to a stranger, yet I'm implying that you intentionally helped the Unabomber knowing he was the Unabomber. In sane times, people would see me as the duplicitous one. But the leadup to war is often not a sane time, and these distinctions can get lost. In the Pence claim about Afghanistan, for it to have any relevance to Suleimani, it would be critical to know (assuming the 9/11 commission report is accurate) whether Iran actually could have known what the men it allowed to pass would ultimately do, and whether Suleimani was involved. But that would involve thinking, and War Fever thrives on emotion rather than thought.

There are all kinds of ways in which you can bully people into accepting idiocy. Consider, for example, the statement "Nathan Robinson thinks it's good to help terrorists who murder civilians." There is a way in which this is actually sort of true: I think lawyers who aid those accused of terrible crimes do important work. If we are simple-minded and manipulative, we can call that "thinking it's good to help terrorists," and during periods of War Fever, that's exactly what it will be called. There is a kind of cheap sophistry that becomes ubiquitous:

I remember all this bullshit from my high school years. Opposing the invasion of Iraq meant loving Saddam Hussein and hating America. Thinking 9/11 was the predictable consequence of U.S. actions meant believing 9/11 was justified. Of course, rational discussion can expose these as completely unfair mischaracterizations, but every time war fever whips up, rational discussion becomes almost impossible. In World War I, if you opposed the draft you were undermining your country in a time of war. During Vietnam, if you believed the North Vietnamese had the more just case, you were a Communist traitor who endorsed every atrocity committed in the name of Ho Chi Minh, and if you thought John McCain shouldn't have been bombing civilians in the first place then clearly you believed he should have been tortured and you hated America.

"If you oppose assassinating Suleimani you must love terrorists" will be repeated on Fox News (and probably even on MSNBC). Nationalism advocate Yoram Hazony says there is something wrong with those who do not "feel shame when our country is shamed" -- presumably those who do not feel wounded pride when America is emasculated by our enemies are weak and pitiful. We should refuse to put up with these kind of cheap slurs, or even to let those who deploy them place the burden of proof on us to refute them. (In 2004, Democrats worried that they did appear unpatriotic, and so they ran a decorated war veteran, John Kerry, for president. That didn't work.)

Scrutinize the arguments

Here's Mike Pence again:

"[Suleimani] provided advanced deadly explosively formed projectiles, advanced weaponry, training, and guidance to Iraqi insurgents used to conduct attacks on U.S. and coalition forces; directly responsible for the death of 603 U.S. service members, along with thousands of wounded."

I am going to say something that is going to sound controversial if you buy into the kind of simple-minded logic we just discussed: Saying that someone was "responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members" does not, in and of itself, tell us anything about whether what they did was right or wrong. In order to believe it did, we would have to believe that the United States is automatically right, and that countries opposing the United States are automatically wrong. That is indeed the logic that many nationalists in this country follow; remember that when the U.S. shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, causing hundreds of deaths, George H.W. Bush said that he would never apologize for America, no matter what the facts were. What if America did something wrong? That was irrelevant, or rather impossible, because to Bush, a thing was right because America did it, even if that thing was the mass murder of Iranian civilians.

One of the major justifications for murdering Suleimani is that he "caused the deaths of U.S. soldiers." He was thus an aggressor, and could/should have been killed. That is where people like Pence want you to end your inquiry. But let us remember where those soldiers were. Were they in Miami? No. They were in Iraq. Why were they in Iraq? Because we illegally invaded and seized a country. Now, we can debate whether (1) there is actually sufficient evidence of Suleimani's direct involvement and (2) whether these acts of violence can be justified, but to say that Suleimani has "American blood on his hands" is to say nothing at all without an examination of whether the United States was in the right.

We have to think clearly in examining the arguments that are being made. Here 's the Atlantic 's George Packer on the execution:

"There was a case for killing Major General Qassem Soleimani. For two decades, as the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, he executed Iran's long game of strategic depth in the Middle East -- arming and guiding proxy militias in Lebanon and Iraq that became stronger than either state, giving Bashar al-Assad essential support to win the Syrian civil war at the cost of half a million lives, waging a proxy war in Yemen against the hated Saudis, and repeatedly testing America and its allies with military actions around the region for which Iran never seemed to pay a military price."

The article goes on to discuss whether this case is outweighed by the pragmatic case against killing him. But wait. Let's dwell on this. Does this constitute a case for killing him? He assisted Bashar al-Assad. Okay, but presumably then killing Assad would have been justified too? Is the rule here that our government is allowed unilaterally to execute the officials of other governments who are responsible for many deaths? Are we the only ones who can do this? Can any government claim the right?

He assisted Yemen in its fight against "the hated Saudis." But is Saudi Arabia being hated for good reason? It is not enough to say that someone committed violence without analyzing the underlying justice of the parties' relative claims.

Moreover, assumptions are made that if you can prove somebody committed a heinous act, what Trump did is justified. But that doesn't follow: Unless we throw all law out the window, and extrajudicial punishment is suddenly acceptable, showing that Suleimani was a war criminal doesn't prove that you can unilaterally kill him with a drone. Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. So is George W. Bush. But they should be captured and tried in a court, not bombed from the sky. The argument that Suleimani was planning imminent attacks is relevant to whether you can stop him with violence (and requires persuasive proof), but mere allegations of murderous past acts do not show that extrajudicial killings are legitimate.

It's very easy to come up with superficially persuasive arguments that can justify just about anything. The job of an intelligent populace is to see whether those arguments can actually withstand scrutiny.

Keep the focus on what matters

"The main question about the strike isn't moral or even legal -- it's strategic." -- The Atlantic

"The real question to ask about the American drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was not whether it was justified, but whether it was wise" -- The New York Times

"I think that the question that we ought to focus on is why now? Why not a month ago and why not a month from now?" -- Elizabeth Warren

They're going to try to define the debate for you. Leaving aside the moral questions, is this good strategy? And then you find yourself arguing on those terms: No, it was bad strategy, it will put "our personnel" in harms way, without noticing that you are implicitly accepting the sociopathic logic that says "America's interests" are the only ones in the world that matters. This is how debates about Vietnam went: They were rarely about whether our actions were good for Vietnamese people, but about whether they were good or bad for us , whether we were squandering U.S. resources and troops in a "fruitless" "mistake." The people of this country still do not understand the kind of carnage we inflicted on Vietnam because our debates tend to be about whether things we do are "strategically prudent" rather than whether they are just. The Atlantic calls the strike a "blunder," shifting the discussion to be about the wisdom of the killing rather than whether it is a choice our country is even permitted to make. "Blunder" essentially assumes that we are allowed to do these things and the only question is whether it's good for us.

There will be plenty of attempts to distract you with irrelevant issues. We will spent more time talking about whether Trump followed the right process for war, whether he handled the rollout correctly, and less about whether the underlying action itself is correct. People like Ben Shapiro will say things like :

"Barack Obama routinely droned terrorists abroad -- including American citizens -- who presented far less of a threat to Americans and American interests than Soleimani. So spare me the hysterics about 'assassination."

In order for this to have any bearing on anything, you have to be someone who defends what Obama did. If you are, on the other hand, someone who belives that Obama, too, assassinated people without due process (which he did), then Shapiro has proved exactly nothing about whether Trump's actions were legitimate. (Note, too, the presumption that threatening "America's interests" can get you killed, a standard we would not want any other country using but are happy to use ourselves.)

Emphasis matters

Consider three statements:

These are statements made by Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, respectively. Note that each of them is consistent with believing Trump's decision was the wrong one, but their emphasis is different. Buttigieg says Suleimani was a "threat" but that there are "questions," Warren says Suleimani was a "murderer" but that this was "reckless," and Sanders says this was a "dangerous escalation." It could be that none of these three would have done the same thing themselves, but the emphasis is vastly different. Buttigieg and Warren lead with condemnation of the dead man, in ways that imply that there was nothing that unjust about what happened. Sanders does not dwell on Suleimani but instead talks about the dangers of new wars.

We have to be clear and emphatic in our messaging, because so much effort is made to make what should be clear issues appear murky. If, for example, you gave a speech in 2002 opposing the Iraq War, but the first half was simply a discussion of what a bad and threatening person Saddam Hussein was, people might actually get the opposite of the impression you want them to get. Buttigieg and Warren, while they appear to question the president, have the effect of making his action seem reasonable. After all, they admit that he got rid of a threatening murderer! Sanders admits nothing of the kind: The only thing he says is that Trump has made the world worse. He puts the emphasis where it matters.

I do not fully like Sanders' statement, because it still talks a bit more about what war means for our people , but it does mention destabilization and the total number of lives that can be lost. It is a far more morally clear and powerful antiwar statement. Buttigieg's is exactly what you'd expect of a Consultant President and it should give us absolutely no confidence that he would be a powerful voice against a war, should one happen. Warren confirms that she is not an effective advocate for peace. In a time when there will be pressure for a violent conflict, we need to make sure that our statements are not watery and do not make needless concessions to the hawks' propaganda.

Imagine how everything would sound if the other side said it.

If you're going to understand the world clearly, you have to kill your nationalistic emotions. An excellent way to do this is to try to imagine if all the facts were reversed. If Iraq had invaded the United States, and U.S. militias violently resisted, would it constitute "aggression" for those militias to kill Iraqi soldiers? If Britain funded those U.S. militias, and Iraq killed the head of the British military with a drone strike, would this constitute "stopping a terrorist"? Of course, in that situation, the Iraqi government would certainly spin it that way, because governments call everyone who opposes them terrorists. But rationality requires us not just to examine whether violence has been committed (e.g., whether Suleimani ordered attacks) but what the full historical context of that violence is, and who truly deserves the "terrorist" label.

Is there anything Suleimani did that hasn't also been done by the CIA? Remember that we actually engineered the overthrow of the Iranian government, within living people's lifetimes . Would an Iranian have been justified in assass