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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
Victoria Nuland’s ‘Ukraine-gate’ Color revolutions Compradors NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions EuroMaidan The Far Right Forces in Ukraine as Trojan horse of neoliberalism Narcissism as Key American Value
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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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[May 23, 2019] Remember Iraq .with visions of WMDs, yellow cake and dancing Israelis in your head

Notable quotes:
"... Newsweek unearthed another clue as to the provenance of the claims. The magazine said that it learned from one Pentagon official that the satellite imagery of loading missiles into fishing dhows was not produced by U.S. intelligence but rather had been provided by Israel. ..."
"... Ravid's Israeli sources acknowledged that it wasn't hard intelligence or even an intelligence assessment based on evidence. Instead, as one Israeli official acknowledged, Mossad "drew several scenarios for what Iran might be planning." Ravid's sources ultimately admitted that Israel's Mossad doesn't really know "what the Iranians are trying to do." ..."
"... That April 15 meeting was only the most recent one between top U.S. and Israeli national security officials over the past year, according to Ravid. These meetings were conducted under a still-secret U.S.-Israeli agreement on a joint plan of action against Iran reached after two days of unannounced meetings at the White House between Ben Shabbat and then-national security advisor H.R. McMaster on December 12, 2017. ..."
"... It also creates a new incentive for the Israelis and Saudis to provoke military responses by Hamas in Gaza or the Houthis in Yemen. ..."
May 23, 2019 | www.unz.com

renfro , says: May 22, 2019 at 11:47 pm GMT

@renfro Remember Iraq .with visions of WMDs, yellow cake and dancing Israelis in your head.

"In meetings in Washington and Tel Aviv in the past few weeks," the paper's Jerusalem correspondent wrote, "Israeli intelligence warned" U.S. officials that "Iran or its proxies were planning to strike American targets in Iraq." The report cited a "senior Middle Eastern intelligence official" -- the term traditionally used to describe an Israeli intelligence official–as the source.

Newsweek unearthed another clue as to the provenance of the claims. The magazine said that it learned from one Pentagon official that the satellite imagery of loading missiles into fishing dhows was not produced by U.S. intelligence but rather had been provided by Israel.

Reporting by the leading Israeli diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, now of Channel 13 but also filing for Axios, provides more detailed evidence that Israel was the original source of all three alleged Iranian threats. Ravid's story reports that an Israeli delegation, led by national advisor Meir Ben Shabbat, met with Bolton and other U.S. national security officials in the White House on April 15 and passed on to them "information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf," according to "senior Israeli officials."
Bolton confirmed the meeting with Ben Shabbat in a tweet after it happened, but revealed nothing about what was discussed.

Ravid's Israeli sources acknowledged that it wasn't hard intelligence or even an intelligence assessment based on evidence. Instead, as one Israeli official acknowledged, Mossad "drew several scenarios for what Iran might be planning." Ravid's sources ultimately admitted that Israel's Mossad doesn't really know "what the Iranians are trying to do."

This is the obvious explanation for why U.S. officials were so unwilling to reveal the provenance of what has loosely been called "intelligence." It also tallies with one Pentagon official's revelation to Newsweek that the satellite imagery cited as evidence of missiles in fishing boats had been "provided to U.S. officials by Israel ."

That April 15 meeting was only the most recent one between top U.S. and Israeli national security officials over the past year, according to Ravid. These meetings were conducted under a still-secret U.S.-Israeli agreement on a joint plan of action against Iran reached after two days of unannounced meetings at the White House between Ben Shabbat and then-national security advisor H.R. McMaster on December 12, 2017. Ravid reported the details of that agreement in late December based on information from a "senior U.S. official" and confirmation from senior Israeli officials.

Ravid's story provided details on the four working groups that were formed under the agreement, including one on "Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region, concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza." The Mossad "scenarios" apparently provided the central ideas with which to justify the Trump administration's subsequent escalatory moves against Iran, including ostentatiously moving an aircraft carrier and a B-52 bomber group into the region.

Bolton's May 5 statement warning of "unrelenting force" against Iran in response to any attack by either Iranian or "proxy" forces added a very significant new element to America's retaliatory threats. It referred to an attack "on United States interests or on those of our allies." That broadening of the range of scenarios that could be cited to justify a U.S. strike against Iran, which has so far been studiously ignored by major news media, represents a major concession to the Israelis and Saudi Arabia.

It also creates a new incentive for the Israelis and Saudis to provoke military responses by Hamas in Gaza or the Houthis in Yemen. And it poses the problem of incidents that could be blamed on Iran or a "proxy" but for which actual responsibility is ambiguous, such as the apparent "limpet mine" attack on oil tankers on May 12 -- or the rocket fired into Baghdad's Green Zone within a mile of the U.S. embassy there Sunday night.

These deceptions are part of a dangerous game being run by Bolton in which Israel is apparently playing a crucial role. That should prompt some serious questioning as to Bolton's claims and the role of the alleged secret U.S.-Israeli understandings.

There are already signs of resistance within the Pentagon in response to this move towards war with Iran, as reported by Newsweek late last week. "Be on the lookout for Iraq 2.0 justifications," said one military official. "Think about the intel indicators prior to the Iraq invasion. Compare. Then get really uneasy."
https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/do-iranian-threats-signal-organized-u-s-israel-subterfuge/

[May 22, 2019] War with Iran could send oil prices to $250 per barrel

This is unfounded speculation. No facts.
Notable quotes:
"... The Iranian goal is to break the resolve of the US, given American military retreats from the Middle East in the past – Lebanon (1984), Iraq (2011), and Syria (presently) – and to increase the cost of Iranian oil sanctions on the global economy through additional disruptions to supply. ..."
"... This is obviously a dangerous game that could lead to real war, not just proxy war. As a result, it is important to explore the potential impact of both on the world oil market, despite the latter being significantly more likely than the former. ..."
"... On the deterrence front, the US has moved numerous military assets to the Persian Gulf region since the Trump administration's "no waiver" oil sanctions came into effect. These include: hastening the arrival of a carrier strike group; deployment of a bomber task-force; additional Patriot missiles; and as reported by The New York Times, drawing up plans to send up to 120,000 US troops to the Middle East, if Iran attacks US forces or rushes to develop nuclear weapons. ..."
May 21, 2019 | www.rt.com

As tensions between Iran and the US continue to escalate, analysts have begun to consider the likelihood and consequences of an Iran war. There has been much talk of an Iran War in recent weeks, but the likelihood of a war, whether intentional or accidental, is relatively small for the simple reason that the leaders of Iran and the US don't want one. President Donald Trump, who has been remarkably faithful to his campaign promises, to the chagrin of many, doesn't want another Iraq-like war – with a quick victory followed by a long defeat. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, doesn't want his revolution and country crushed by the massive military might of America.

This is not to say there aren't powerful individuals in the Trump administration – such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and possibly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – and regional allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) – who want a war to bring about regime change in Iran, and who are willing to stir the pot in an attempt to make it happen.

Trump's personal preference for Iran may also be regime change, with a negotiated neutering of the Islamic Republic his next best outcome. But he probably would settle for long-term containment of Iran through his "maximum pressure" campaign, accepting that the Iranian regime would likely be able to sustain itself though skirting sanctions.

Iran has made huge geopolitical gains in the Middle East since the US inadvertently pushed Shiite-majority Iraq into the Iranian sphere of influence by imposing democracy on the country following the 2003 war. Tehran now directly or indirectly controls an arc of territory north of Saudi Arabia – Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – while supporting Houthi rebels to the south of the kingdom in Yemen.

Although US sanctions on Iran's oil and metal exports are unlikely to bring about regime change, they will make it significantly more difficult for the Islamic Republic to consolidate its territorial gains and sustain its regional proxy network, as the government will have to prioritize domestic spending to maintain social stability. Simply put, the sanctions make it more difficult for Iran to directly challenge its regional enemies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE and score additional foreign policy victories.

Despite an aversion to war with the US, it appears Khamenei has given Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran's powerful Quds Force and national hero, permission to encourage foreign militias aligned with Tehran to cause mischief for US and allied forces in the Middle East, and if possible, disrupt the flow of oil from the region through non-attributed actions.

The Iranian goal is to break the resolve of the US, given American military retreats from the Middle East in the past – Lebanon (1984), Iraq (2011), and Syria (presently) – and to increase the cost of Iranian oil sanctions on the global economy through additional disruptions to supply.

This is obviously a dangerous game that could lead to real war, not just proxy war. As a result, it is important to explore the potential impact of both on the world oil market, despite the latter being significantly more likely than the former.

US Perspective

Pompeo laid out the Trump administration's rationale and strategy for dealing with the Islamic Republic in "Confronting Iran," an article in the November-December 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs . He argued the deal the Obama administration and international community struck with Iran in 2015 – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was fundamentally flawed as it failed to end the country's nuclear weapons ambition. Instead, the deal simply postponed Iran's nuclear ambitions while the regime continued its ballistic missile program to allow it to deliver a nuclear payload.

At the same time, the deal gave "Tehran piles of money, which the supreme leader has used to sponsor all types of terrorism throughout the Middle East (with few consequences in response) and which have boosted the economic fortunes of a regime that remains bent on exporting its revolution abroad and imposing it at home."

The core of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign are economic sanctions designed to "choke off revenues" to Iran to force its government to negotiate a "new deal" covering its nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and "malign behaviour" across the Middle East, while providing sufficient military deterrence to keep Tehran from lashing out at US forces and allies in the region.

Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, and has since ratcheted up economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic in August and November of last year, while going the full monty on Iranian crude and condensate exports at the beginning of May.

On the deterrence front, the US has moved numerous military assets to the Persian Gulf region since the Trump administration's "no waiver" oil sanctions came into effect. These include: hastening the arrival of a carrier strike group; deployment of a bomber task-force; additional Patriot missiles; and as reported by The New York Times, drawing up plans to send up to 120,000 US troops to the Middle East, if Iran attacks US forces or rushes to develop nuclear weapons.

It should be noted that a military buildup of this size would take months, and the 120,000 number is widely viewed as insufficient for a full-scale invasion of Iran. The Islamic Republic has been planning and building up asymmetric military capabilities to thwart a US attack since the 1990s, while the country is larger in size and population than Iraq. The US military plan reported by the New York Times did not call for a land invasion of Iran.

On May 14, Trump denied the New York Times report, but in characteristic fashion appeared to up the ante. "Now, would I do that? Absolutely," Trump said. "But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that."

But in the Foreign Affairs article Pompeo wrote that Trump does not want the US to go to war with Iran: "President Trump does not want another long-term US military engagement in the Middle East -- or in any other region, for that matter. He has spoken openly about the dreadful consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 intervention in Libya."

Iranian Perspective

On May 14, Khamenei explicitly said that Iran does not want to go to war with the US, and suggested the same of America, as a war would be in neither country's interest.

"There won't be any war," he said. "Neither we nor they seek war. They know it will not be in their interest."

In terms of Iran's current situation, David Petraeus, ex-CIA director and America's former top general in the Middle East, possibly put it best.

"Certainly, if Iran were to precipitate that [a war], it would be a suicide gesture," Petraeus said on May 9. "It would be very, very foolhardy. And they know that."

The Islamic Republic has done an excellent job of marshaling relatively limited financial and military resources to expand its influence and control through the Middle East since 2003, but its defense budget of about US$16 billion – or a mere 3.7 percent of GDP – falls considerably short compared to regional rivals Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE on an individual basis, let alone a collective one. The military capabilities of the US dwarf those of Iran on every conceivable measure, which should come as no surprise since America's most recent defense budget is a massive US$686 billion.

Also on rt.com

Khamenei also said his country has no desire to negotiate with the US, given the Trump administration's extreme demands and unilateral breaking of the nuclear pact, and suggested the current crisis will likely be a long one, a view supported by Hassan Rouhani, the democratically elected president of Iran.

"The Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance," Khamenei said.

Rouhani was even more explicit. Speaking to activists from a wide range of political factions on May 12, he said Iran is facing "unprecedented" pressure from US sanctions and suggested economic conditions may become worse than during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

"The pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution," Rouhani said, according to the state news agency IRNA. "But I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united ."

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

See also

[May 22, 2019] On War With Iran, It's Trump Versus the Founding Fathers

Highly recommended!
May 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

War between the United States and Iran looms, even though the latter poses no threat to the former. President Donald Trump says he doesn't want war but for the Iranians to call him. Perhaps his entire campaign is an elaborate effort to scare Tehran to the negotiating table. Or perhaps he hopes to win political support by fomenting a foreign crisis. How ironic that would be: in 2011, Trump warned via tweet that "Barack Obama will attack Iran in the not too distant future because it will help him win the election."

However, the president already ran against the Islamic Republic, in 2016. Moreover, his words have been incendiary, threatening "the official end of Iran." Although U.S. intelligence officials admit that Tehran's confrontational rhetoric is largely a response to Washington's aggression, the administration's military moves are sharply increasing tensions as well as the possibility of a costly mistake or misjudgment.

The War Party is active again in the Imperial City. Before joining the administration, National Security Advisor John Bolton forthrightly called for an attack on the Islamic Republic. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also demanded regime change in Iran. More recently, he admitted that sanctions were intended to induce the Iranian people to "change the government." While claiming not to seek war, he threatened retaliation for any attack by Iranian "proxy forces" and on "American interests."

Tehran has long been a favorite target of influential neoconservatives and ultra-hawks. The invasion of Iraq almost immediately led to calls for a turn to Tehran. Several years ago, Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy suggested staging a false flag operation: if "the Iranians aren't going to compromise," he said, "it would be best if somebody else started the war." Today, Senator Tom Cotton predicts an easy American victory.

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The Saudis also openly favor an American war against Iran. (Defense Secretary Robert Gates once quipped that Riyadh would fight Iran "to the last American.") A newspaper owned by the royal family last week called on Washington to "hit hard." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked tirelessly to inflate the Iranian "threat" and told a TV interviewer that he'd convinced Trump to abandon the nuclear deal.

Yet conflict with Iran would be a disaster, far worse than with Iraq. Even the Council on Foreign Relations' Max Boot, a vocal neoconservative and uber-hawk, has warned against this. And Americans would not be the only casualties. Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post reporter who spent more than a year in an Iranian prison, observed: "those who will suffer most have little say in the matter. It's the Iranian people who have borne the brunt of 40 years of enmity between the United States and the Islamic republic, and in the current standoff, they stand to lose the most yet again."

The possibility that the chief executive might rush or be pushed into such a disastrous war is exactly why the Founders obliged presidents to go to Congress for approval. The Constitution places the power to declare war in the hands of the legislature.

Yet modern presidents routinely claim monarchical powers, using the military without proper authority. Legislators often avoid taking responsibility for wars that might turn unpopular. But neither unconstitutional nor irresponsible behavior justifies chief executives doing the same.

Impeachment Should Be on the Table If Trump Bombs Iran Reminder: Trump, Not Bolton, is the President

Trump has proven no more faithful to the Constitution than his predecessors. For instance, Pompeo refused to commit the administration to going to Congress for the authority to attack Iran. (The secretary did the same when earlier questioned about the administration's military threats against Venezuela.) Pompeo suggested that the president might rely on the post-9/11 authorization for use of military force, an even more ludicrous reach than the Obama administration's appeal to the same measure for its fight against the Islamic State and strikes on Syria.

The refusal to obey the Constitution is evidence of weakness. In contrast, many of America's strongest chief executives recognized Congress's authority. George Washington declared: "The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure."

Abraham Lincoln praised the Founders for recognizing war "to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us." Dwight Eisenhower was equally insistent on the need for legislative approval for war.

Delegates to the constitutional convention insisted they were not recreating the king of England or replicating his powers, especially to start wars. After all, war is the hallmark of unlimited government. Warned James Madison: "Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instrument for bringing the many under the domination of the few."

The Founders knew this problem well, since a succession of European kings and queens had launched a succession of unnecessary and even frivolous conflicts. The price was paid in blood and treasure by the common folk. John Jay observed that kings were often led "to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people." Pierce Butler insisted that the president not be invested with the authority to start wars, like a monarch who enjoyed the "opportunity of involving his country in a war whenever he wished to promote her destruction."

Madison explained the principle incorporated in the Constitution: "Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free governments, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws."

Thus, the Constitution gives to Congress most military powers: raising an army, funding the military, issuing letters of marquee, approving rules of war, ratifying treaties, and, of course, taking America into war. Article 1, Section 8 (11) states: "Congress shall have the power to declare war." Observed Madison: the "fundamental doctrine of the Constitution that the power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

Despite this history, some modern analysts bizarrely contend that Congress only ever gets to "declare" that the president had started a war. In fact, the Founders changed the operative word from "make" to "declare" merely to ensure that the commander-in-chief could respond to a surprise attack. They did not even believe the president could launch a reprisal without legal authority. They certainly didn't intend to enable the president to wander the globe smiting nations hither and yon at his sole discretion.

Despite their many disagreements, the Founders agreed on this point. The president commanded the military but could only prosecute wars authorized by Congress . Said George Mason, the chief executive "is not safely to be entrusted with" the power to start wars, which required "clogging rather than facilitating war." Thomas Jefferson cited the Constitution's "effectual check to the dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose." Explained James Wilson: "It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is in the legislature at large."

Even Alexander Hamilton, who leaned toward monarchy, emphasized that the commander-in-chief was just the "first general and admiral." The president's authority was "in substance much inferior to" that of Britain's monarch, and "would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the land and naval forces while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war."

Trump is bound by the Constitution when confronting Iran. Indeed, the not insubstantial possibility of him and his officials lying America into another irresponsible war of choice is why the Founders placed the decision with Congress. Americans have learned at a high cost that presidents cannot be trusted to act like kings.

With a presidential election approaching, Americans should seriously ponder whether they want to entrust the presidency to someone who believes he's empowered to make war without constraint. It's time to choose a chief executive who's prepared to follow the Constitution.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon Press). He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a member of the California and Washington, D.C. bars.

[May 22, 2019] NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war." ..."
"... From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C. ..."
"... Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever). ..."
"... Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing. ..."
"... Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant. His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help ..."
"... There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.) ..."
"... In this sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR existed. ..."
"... I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA) ..."
May 21, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning If America wants to maintain any influence in Asia, it needs to wake up. By Robert W. Merry May 22, 2019

President Donald J. Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Thursday, November 9, 2017, in Beijing, People's Republic of China. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) From across the pond come two geopolitical analyses in two top-quality British publications that lay out in stark terms the looming struggle between the United States and China. It isn't just a trade war, says The Economist in a major cover package. "Trade is not the half of it," declares the magazine. "The United States and China are contesting every domain, from semiconductors to submarines and from blockbuster films to lunar exploration." The days when the two superpowers sought a win-win world are gone.

For its own cover, The Financial Times ' Philip Stephens produced a piece entitled, "Trade is just an opening shot in a wider US-China conflict." The subhead: "The current standoff is part of a struggle for global pre-eminence." Writes Stephens: "The trade narrative is now being subsumed into a much more alarming one. Economics has merged with geopolitics. China, you can hear on almost every corner in sight of the White House and Congress, is not just a dangerous economic competitor but a looming existential threat."

Stephens quotes from the so-called National Defense Strategy, entitled "Sharpening the American Military's Competitive Edge," released last year by President Donald Trump's Pentagon. In the South China Sea, for example, says the strategic paper, "China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region and provide China a freer hand there." The broader Chinese goal, warns the Pentagon, is "Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future."

The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war."

... ... ..

Russia: Of all the developments percolating in the world today, none is more ominous than the growing prospect of an anti-American alliance involving Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran. Yet such an alliance is in the works, largely as a result of America's inability to forge a foreign policy that recognizes the legitimate geopolitical interests of other nations. If the United States is to maintain its position in Asia, this trend must be reversed.

The key is Russia, largely by dint of its geopolitical position in the Eurasian heartland. If China's global rise is to be thwarted, it must be prevented from gaining dominance over Eurasia. Only Russia can do that. But Russia has no incentive to act because it feels threatened by the West. NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries.

Given the trends that are plainly discernible in the Far East, the West must normalize relations with Russia. That means providing assurances that NATO expansion is over for good. It means the West recognizing that Georgia, Belarus, and, yes, Ukraine are within Russia's natural zone of influence. They will never be invited into NATO, and any solution to the Ukraine conundrum will have to accommodate Russian interests. Further, the West must get over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It is a fait accompli -- and one that any other nation, including America, would have executed in similar circumstances.

Would Russian President Vladimir Putin spurn these overtures and maintain a posture of bellicosity toward the West? We can't be sure, but that certainly wouldn't be in his interest. And how will we ever know when it's never been tried? We now understand that allegations of Trump's campaign colluding with Russia were meritless, so it's time to determine the true nature and extent of Putin's strategic aims. That's impossible so long as America maintains its sanctions and general bellicosity.

NATO: Trump was right during the 2016 presidential campaign when he said that NATO was obsolete. He later dialed back on that, but any neutral observer can see that the circumstances that spawned NATO as an imperative of Western survival no longer exist. The Soviet Union is gone, and the 1.3 million Russian and client state troops it placed on Western Europe's doorstep are gone as well.

So what kind of threat could Russia pose to Europe and the West? The European Union's GDP is more than 12 times that of Russia's, while Russia's per capita GDP is only a fourth of Europe's. The Russian population is 144.5 million to Europe's 512 million. Does anyone seriously think that Russia poses a serious threat to Europe or that Europe needs the American big brother for survival, as in the immediate postwar years? Of course not. This is just a ruse for the maintenance of the status quo -- Europe as subservient to America, the Russian bear as menacing grizzly, America as protective slayer in the event of an attack.

This is all ridiculous. NATO shouldn't be abolished. It should be reconfigured for the realities of today. It should be European-led, not American-led. It should pay for its own defense entirely, whatever that might be (and Europe's calculation of that will inform us as to its true assessment of the Russian threat). America should be its primary ally, but not committed to intervene whenever a tiny European nation feels threatened. NATO's Article 5, committing all alliance nations to the defense of any other when attacked, should be scrapped in favor of language that calls for U.S. intervention only in the event of a true threat to Western Civilization itself.

And while a European-led NATO would find it difficult to pull back from its forward eastern positions after adding so many nations in the post-Cold War era, it should extend assurances to Russia that it has no intention of acting provocatively -- absent, of course, any Russian provocations.

... ... ...

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century .

likbez, May 22, 2019

Great article. Thank you very much!

Pragmatic isolationalism is a better deal then the current neocon foreign policy. Which Trump is pursuing with the zeal similar to Obama (who continued all Bush II wars and started two new in Libya and Syria.) Probably this partially can be explained by his dependence of Adelson and pro-Israeli lobby.

But the problem is deeper then Trump: it is the power of MIC and American exeptionalism ( which can be viewed as a form of far right nationalism ) about which Andrew Bacevich have written a lot:

From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever).

"If we have to use force," Secretary of State Albright announced on morning television in February 1998, "it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the several unsuccessful wars of choice that followed offer prime examples. But so too did Washington's belated and inadequate recognition of the developments that actually endanger the wellbeing of 21st-century Americans, namely climate change, cyber threats, and the ongoing reallocation of global power prompted by the rise of China. Rather than seeing far into the future, American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. More often than not, they get even that wrong.

Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing.

Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant. His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help.

There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.)

In this sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR existed.

I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA)

[May 22, 2019] The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning

Notable quotes:
"... As the Pentagon's strategic paper posits, China's overriding foreign policy goal is to squeeze America out of East Asia and force it back to the Hawaiian islands as its forward position in the Pacific. Thus would Hawaii cease to be America's strategic platform for projecting power into Asia and become merely a defensive position. If this strategic retreat were to happen, it would be one of the most significant developments in international relations since the end of World War II. ..."
"... None of your suggestions is likely to happen, absent defeat. America's trump card is the fiat dollar as world currency, defended by the full faith and power of an imperial global military, with its own economic inertia to the domestic economy as well. ..."
"... The most obvious step is to forge a genuine alliance with India. America can't take on China alone (although China's ineluctable demographic decline may make the US' relative decline in fortunes short-lived), and the world's largest democracy, and soon to be most populous nation, is an obvious counterweight to China, despite its still inefficient economy. ..."
"... The US has been trying to reverse this, but our patronizing attitude towards a proud country seeking great-power status has led to modest progress at best, and their defense relationship with Russia is stronger than with us. ..."
"... There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.) ..."
"... Overlooked might be Germany's copycat foreign policy posturing too often hidden behind 'humanitarian' language. https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/projects/new-power-new-responsibility/the-paper/ ..."
"... Guess the parallel with the US 'New American Century' is not misplaced. Do you realize that Germany aims to leverage the EU for establishing its position as a 'World Player'. Do realize too that it tends to categorize other countries along the same zero sum power line of reasoning as the US "either with us or against us". ..."
"... This German foreign policy gave birth to the European Neighborhood Policy which exploited the US instigated coup to indenture Ukraine into a dependent NON-member state associated exclusively with the EU excluding normal economic relations with Russia. ..."
"... One of the most malign effects of Israeli and Saudi control of American politicians is the grotesque overemphasis on the Middle East in US foreign policy. Trump's trade fights to one side, it often seems as if we dismiss or ignore much of the rest of the world. This disproportion has been obvious and growing since the end of the last century, but at this point it's pathological. ..."
"... Well, it all depends on goals doesn't it. US foreign policy goals are to increase chaos and create international tension. Why? Because US foreign policy exists to feed military and intel contractors on the one hand and asserting power for the sake of asserting power with no overall strategy other the Great Game. ..."
May 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning If America wants to maintain any influence in Asia, it needs to wake up. By Robert W. Merry May 22, 2019

President Donald J. Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Thursday, November 9, 2017, in Beijing, People's Republic of China. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) From across the pond come two geopolitical analyses in two top-quality British publications that lay out in stark terms the looming struggle between the United States and China. It isn't just a trade war, says The Economist in a major cover package. "Trade is not the half of it," declares the magazine. "The United States and China are contesting every domain, from semiconductors to submarines and from blockbuster films to lunar exploration." The days when the two superpowers sought a win-win world are gone.

For its own cover, The Financial Times ' Philip Stephens produced a piece entitled, "Trade is just an opening shot in a wider US-China conflict." The subhead: "The current standoff is part of a struggle for global pre-eminence." Writes Stephens: "The trade narrative is now being subsumed into a much more alarming one. Economics has merged with geopolitics. China, you can hear on almost every corner in sight of the White House and Congress, is not just a dangerous economic competitor but a looming existential threat."

Stephens quotes from the so-called National Defense Strategy, entitled "Sharpening the American Military's Competitive Edge," released last year by President Donald Trump's Pentagon. In the South China Sea, for example, says the strategic paper, "China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region and provide China a freer hand there." The broader Chinese goal, warns the Pentagon, is "Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future."

The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war."

As the Pentagon's strategic paper posits, China's overriding foreign policy goal is to squeeze America out of East Asia and force it back to the Hawaiian islands as its forward position in the Pacific. Thus would Hawaii cease to be America's strategic platform for projecting power into Asia and become merely a defensive position. If this strategic retreat were to happen, it would be one of the most significant developments in international relations since the end of World War II.

America has been projecting significant power into Asia since the 1890s, when President William McKinley acquired Hawaii through annexation, then seized Guam and the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. For good measure, he cleared the way for the construction of the Panama Canal and continued his predecessors' robust buildup of the U.S. Navy. President Theodore Roosevelt then pushed the Canal project to actual construction, accelerated the naval buildup, and sent his Great White Fleet around the world as a signal that America had arrived on the global scene -- as if anyone could have missed that obvious reality.

With the total victory over Japan in World War II, America emerged as the hegemon of Asia, with colonies, naval bases, carrier groups, and strategic alliances that made it foolhardy for any nation to even think of challenging our regional dominance. Not even the Vietnam defeat, as psychologically debilitating as that was, could undercut America's Asian preeminence.

Now China is seeking to position itself to push America back into its own hemisphere. And judging from the language of the National Defense Strategy, America doesn't intend to be pushed back. This is a clash of wills, with all the makings of an actual military conflict.

But if China represents the greatest potential threat to America's global position, making an eventual war likely (though not inevitable), why is Washington not acting like it knows this? Why is it engaging in so many silly military capers that undermine its ability to focus attention and resources on the China challenge? While the National Defense Strategy paper suggests that U.S. officials understand the threat, America's actions reveal an incapacity to grapple with this reality in any concentrated fashion.

Here's a general idea of what a U.S. foreign policy under Trump might look like if it was based on a clear recognition of the China threat:

Iran: Since the end of the Cold War, the sheer folly of Trump's Iran policy has been exceeded only by George W. Bush's Iraq invasion. Barack Obama bequeathed to his successor a rare gift in the Iran nuclear deal, which provided an opportunity to direct attention away from Tehran and toward America's position in East Asia. In no way did it serve America's national interest to stir up tensions with Iran while the far more ominous China threat loomed. A policy based on realism would have seized that opportunity and used the channels of communication forged through the nuclear deal to establish some kind of accommodation, however wary or tenuous. Instead, America under Trump has created a crisis where none need exist.

Personnel: While the Iran policy might be difficult to reverse, a reversal is imperative. And that means Trump must fire National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While their bully boy actions on the global stage seem to mesh with Trump's own temperament, the president also appears increasingly uncomfortable with the results, particularly with regard to their maximum pressure on Iran, which has brought America closer than ever to actual hostilities. Whether Trump has the subtlety of mind to understand just how destructive these men have been to his broad foreign policy goals is an open question. And Trump certainly deserves plenty of blame for pushing America into a zone of open hostility with Iran. But he can't extricate himself from his own folly so long as he has Bolton and Pompeo pushing him toward ever more bellicosity in ever more areas of the world. He needs men around him who appreciate just how wrongheaded American foreign policy has been in the post-Cold War era -- men such as retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor and former Virginia senator Jim Webb. Bolton and Pompeo -- out!

Russia: Of all the developments percolating in the world today, none is more ominous than the growing prospect of an anti-American alliance involving Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran. Yet such an alliance is in the works, largely as a result of America's inability to forge a foreign policy that recognizes the legitimate geopolitical interests of other nations. If the United States is to maintain its position in Asia, this trend must be reversed.

The key is Russia, largely by dint of its geopolitical position in the Eurasian heartland. If China's global rise is to be thwarted, it must be prevented from gaining dominance over Eurasia. Only Russia can do that. But Russia has no incentive to act because it feels threatened by the West. NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries.

Given the trends that are plainly discernible in the Far East, the West must normalize relations with Russia. That means providing assurances that NATO expansion is over for good. It means the West recognizing that Georgia, Belarus, and, yes, Ukraine are within Russia's natural zone of influence. They will never be invited into NATO, and any solution to the Ukraine conundrum will have to accommodate Russian interests. Further, the West must get over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It is a fait accompli -- and one that any other nation, including America, would have executed in similar circumstances.

Would Russian President Vladimir Putin spurn these overtures and maintain a posture of bellicosity toward the West? We can't be sure, but that certainly wouldn't be in his interest. And how will we ever know when it's never been tried? We now understand that allegations of Trump's campaign colluding with Russia were meritless, so it's time to determine the true nature and extent of Putin's strategic aims. That's impossible so long as America maintains its sanctions and general bellicosity.

NATO: Trump was right during the 2016 presidential campaign when he said that NATO was obsolete. He later dialed back on that, but any neutral observer can see that the circumstances that spawned NATO as an imperative of Western survival no longer exist. The Soviet Union is gone, and the 1.3 million Russian and client state troops it placed on Western Europe's doorstep are gone as well.

So what kind of threat could Russia pose to Europe and the West? The European Union's GDP is more than 12 times that of Russia's, while Russia's per capita GDP is only a fourth of Europe's. The Russian population is 144.5 million to Europe's 512 million. Does anyone seriously think that Russia poses a serious threat to Europe or that Europe needs the American big brother for survival, as in the immediate postwar years? Of course not. This is just a ruse for the maintenance of the status quo -- Europe as subservient to America, the Russian bear as menacing grizzly, America as protective slayer in the event of an attack.

This is all ridiculous. NATO shouldn't be abolished. It should be reconfigured for the realities of today. It should be European-led, not American-led. It should pay for its own defense entirely, whatever that might be (and Europe's calculation of that will inform us as to its true assessment of the Russian threat). America should be its primary ally, but not committed to intervene whenever a tiny European nation feels threatened. NATO's Article 5, committing all alliance nations to the defense of any other when attacked, should be scrapped in favor of language that calls for U.S. intervention only in the event of a true threat to Western Civilization itself.

And while a European-led NATO would find it difficult to pull back from its forward eastern positions after adding so many nations in the post-Cold War era, it should extend assurances to Russia that it has no intention of acting provocatively -- absent, of course, any Russian provocations.

The Middle East: The United States should reduce its footprint in the region on a major scale. It should get out of Afghanistan, with assurances to the Taliban that it will allow that country to go its own way, irrespective of the outcome, so long as it doesn't pose a threat to the United States or its vital interests. U.S. troops should be removed from Syria, and America should stop supporting Saudi Arabia's nasty war in Yemen. We should make clear to Israel and the world that the Jewish state is a major U.S. ally and will be protected whenever it is truly threatened. But we should also emphasize that we won't seek through military means to alter the regional balance of power based on mere perceptions of potential future threats to countries in the region, even allies. The United States won't get drawn into regional wars unrelated to its own vital interests.

Far East: Once the other regional decks are cleared, America must turn its attention to Asia. The first question: do we wish to maintain our current position there, or can we accept China's rise even if it means a U.S. retreat or partial retreat from the region? If a retreat is deemed acceptable, then America should secure the best terms possible over a long period of tough and guileful negotiations. But if we decide to maintain regional dominance, then China will have to be isolated and deterred. That will mean a long period of economic tension and even economic warfare, confrontations over China's extravagant claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea and elsewhere, strong U.S. alliances with other Asian nations nurtured through deft and measured diplomacy, soaring technological superiority, and a continual upper hand in any arms race.

In this scenario, can war be averted? History suggests that may not be likely. But either way, America won't remain an Asian power if it allows itself to be pinned down in multiple nonstrategic spats and adventures around the world. Asia is today's Great Game and China is winning. That won't be reversed unless America starts playing.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Hide 27 comments 27 Responses to The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning

Fran Macadam, says: May 21, 2019 at 10:36 pm

None of your suggestions is likely to happen, absent defeat. America's trump card is the fiat dollar as world currency, defended by the full faith and power of an imperial global military, with its own economic inertia to the domestic economy as well. That allows U.S. legal decisions to have extra territorial scope as the real international power, not now irrelevant toothless international institutions like the UN.
Whine Merchant , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:02 am
Nice summary, Mr Merry. Even the most die-hard Trumpet can find something to disagree upon with their Dear Leader while supporting everything else he does, but this clear and succinct outline leaves no where for the Deplorables to hide. Coupled with the China trade war fiasco, thias is pretty grim.

Of course, come 2020, all will be forgiven by the GOP, and even one criticism with be blasted with a twitter assault.

Fazal Majid , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:22 am
The most obvious step is to forge a genuine alliance with India. America can't take on China alone (although China's ineluctable demographic decline may make the US' relative decline in fortunes short-lived), and the world's largest democracy, and soon to be most populous nation, is an obvious counterweight to China, despite its still inefficient economy.

Unfortunately our support for the treacherous Pakistanis has poisoned our relationship with India. In 1971, Nixon actually sent a carrier group in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate the Indians into stopping support for the Bangladeshis fighting a war of independence against the genocidal (West) Pakistan, and the Indians had to call on the Soviets to send nuclear submarines to deter that threat. Like all ancient nations, Indians have long memories. Ironically, that reckless action was in cahoots with China.

The US has been trying to reverse this, but our patronizing attitude towards a proud country seeking great-power status has led to modest progress at best, and their defense relationship with Russia is stronger than with us.

likbez , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:29 am
Great article. Thank you very much!

Pragmatic isolationism is a better deal then the current neocon foreign policy. Which Trump is pursuing with the zeal similar to Obama (who continued all Bush II wars and started two new in Libya and Syria.) Probably this partially can be explained by his dependence of Adelson and pro-Israeli lobby. But the problem is deeper then Trump: it is the power of MIC and American exceptionalism ( which can be viewed as a form of far right nationalism ) about which Andrew Bacevich have written a lot:

From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever).

"If we have to use force," Secretary of State Albright announced on morning television in February 1998, "it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the several unsuccessful wars of choice that followed offer prime examples. But so too did Washington's belated and inadequate recognition of the developments that actually endanger the wellbeing of 21st-century Americans, namely climate change, cyber threats, and the ongoing reallocation of global power prompted by the rise of China.

Rather than seeing far into the future, American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. More often than not, they get even that wrong.

Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing.

Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant.

His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help.

There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.)

In this limited sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR used to exist.

I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA.)

Piero , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:06 am
Your current foreign policy simply seems to reflect the astonishing degree of violence that permeates your society, when observing you Americans from a place like Hong Kong or China it's really frightening, I would be more scared to visit the US than Liberia or Sierra Leone, with those innumerable ( armed ) nutcases roaming your streets, you are by now used to it, and it saddens me, thinking of how grateful we should be for all you have done in the distant past for so many countries in the world
Fayez Abedaziz , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:30 am
The blockheads advising know nothing Trump about history and geo-politics don't care a whit about the American people or what is ten years down the road. These people, Bolton, Pompeo and the joke-Kushner- are ego/power lovers and are doing the opposite of a sane policy to every part of the globe.
How the hell do you goad and threaten Russia, for example, for no good reason and how do you threaten Russia, which, like the U.S., with the push of several buttons can turn any city in the world to ashes, in minutes.

The American people are not only dumb as a wall, they don't care about foreign policy and they don't wanna know. The're looking at celebrities and looking at their smart phones for fun and weirdness. The phones are smarter than them and they pay the price when clown Trump does things like trade wars and so on.

Yeah, the average American, what prizes they are, as in they look and say,

Is that the actress there on the 'news' oh, what's she wearing is that the 'genius' athlete, what does that smelly guy say today hey, let's order food delivered so we can watch and tomorrow to the sports bar and

Kent , says: May 22, 2019 at 6:32 am
This article forgets to mention why it would be in the American people's interest to be the hegemon of East Asia. I can't think of any reason myself. Anyone?
JR , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:11 am
Thanks for this article.

Overlooked might be Germany's copycat foreign policy posturing too often hidden behind 'humanitarian' language. https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/projects/new-power-new-responsibility/the-paper/

Guess the parallel with the US 'New American Century' is not misplaced. Do you realize that Germany aims to leverage the EU for establishing its position as a 'World Player'. Do realize too that it tends to categorize other countries along the same zero sum power line of reasoning as the US "either with us or against us".

This German foreign policy gave birth to the European Neighborhood Policy which exploited the US instigated coup to indenture Ukraine into a dependent NON-member state associated exclusively with the EU excluding normal economic relations with Russia.

The result is a thoroughly corrupt indebted Ukraine disenfranchising more than 60% of its population through imposing forced 'Ukrainization'.

Cavin , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:51 am
I agree with the article, but not the title. The article acknowledges two important points, but leaves out another.

First, it correctly acknowledges that our obsession with Iran is vastly disproportionate to the threat it poses. In fact, we would do well to scale back our adventurism in the Middle East. If China is winning in the Far East, it is largely because we have chosen to devote resources elsewhere.

Second, it correctly acknowledges that continued antagonizing of Russia by the West is needless. It is time to normalize relations with Russia, recognize its legitimate interest in having some buffer against the West, and repatriate Russian nationals who have recently immigrated to the West.

Third, the article fails to acknowledge that China, like Russia, is also entitled to some sphere of influence. And there is historic precedence for certain such claims. Those claims are tenuous when it comes to Japan and the Korean peninsula. But there is little reason why American Navy ships should be sailing right up to the borders of China, just as there is little reason why Chinese Navy ships should be sailing off the coast of Oregon. We also need to understand that provoking a trade war that slows the Chinese economy merely enhances the power of President Xi. Trump has given President Xi a massive political gift, and for no good reason. The trade imbalance is evidence of the strength of our economy, not a sign that we're losing out to China.

Grits Again , says: May 22, 2019 at 8:02 am
One of the most malign effects of Israeli and Saudi control of American politicians is the grotesque overemphasis on the Middle East in US foreign policy. Trump's trade fights to one side, it often seems as if we dismiss or ignore much of the rest of the world. This disproportion has been obvious and growing since the end of the last century, but at this point it's pathological.

If we are to compete effectively with China and other global players, if we are to have a balanced and effective foreign policy in general, we need to remove the Middle East blinders, get Israel and Saudi Arabia off our back, and start seeing the world as it is, rather than as Israel and Saudi Arabia pay our politicians to see it.

Collin , says: May 22, 2019 at 8:25 am
Simple questions: Why should we care? And how does all this soft power benefit the average citizens? And for all the China fears, they appear to react very rationally and avoid military conflicts.

Ok, it is true Chinese oil buying is probably keeping Iran in a better economic situation but again this seems more of a problem of Iran hawks not the average citizen. Honestly, I wish the US had more of treasury focused foreign policy and stop worrying about US power.

Mommsen the Younger , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:26 am
Excellent. Merry has it exactly. (Note: Have reread paragraph 9 several times and believe the copy editor fell asleep here)
Chris Cosmos , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:30 am
Well, it all depends on goals doesn't it. US foreign policy goals are to increase chaos and create international tension. Why? Because US foreign policy exists to feed military and intel contractors on the one hand and asserting power for the sake of asserting power with no overall strategy other the Great Game.

Any rational analysis of the past couple of decades forces us to come to that conclusion. The reason why this whole scheme is unlikely to fail in the short and medium term is US military involvement in 150 countries has brought much of the world under Washington's control–or at least their ruling elites. The best China can do is provide an alternative to the Empire and live in some sort of harmony with it because China has not shown any intention of competing militarily with the US. Iran is a key part of the Silk Road project and that is the strategic reason for the attempt to crush or destroy Iran that is central to the strategy. The US wants to keep China and Russia out of Europe–that, if you look at policy, seems to be the main contest.

HenionJD , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:30 am
The conflict with Iran has assumed heightened importance because,at 70 years old, John Bolton has to face the possibility that he might die without having started a war somewhere.
Thaomas , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:32 am
The author misses two other two other components of of a proper China "containment" policy: Immigration and trade policy. The US should be actively trying to attract immigration of skilled young workers and entrepreneurs (including from China) and encouraging university graduates from abroad to remain. The US ought to join the TPP in order to increase our leverage in negotiating reductions in Chinese restrictions on trade and investment.
Sid Finster , says: May 22, 2019 at 10:47 am
Why would Russia want to make a deal with the United States, which cannot be trusted to keep its word, or even to act rationally in pursuit of its own interests?
TheSnark , says: May 22, 2019 at 11:20 am
Generally a good article, but it misses an important point. While China and Russia do have natural spheres of influence, the countries within those natural spheres hate being there.

Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam are naturally within China's influence, but they don't trust the Chinese at all, and surely don't want China to dominate their countries. And given they way the Chinese empire treats Tibetan and Uigurs, they have good reason for that.

Similarly in Eastern Europe, where Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic States might be in Russian sphere, but they sure don't want to be. The fact is that NATO did not aggressively seek them out for membership, those small countries begged to join NATO out of their historical fear of Russia.

While recognizing such spheres of influence, do we want to abandon friendly, democratic countries to a hostile, autocratic power? The Cold War model of Finland give some hope for a compromise, but it won't be easy to implement outside of Finland.

david , says: May 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm
This article is another vivid illustration of how disoriented and narrow-minded when a typical intelligent and well-meaning American is talking about China. For examples:

1. The author has no problem acknowledging specific geopolitical interests to accommodate Russia or even Iran, but when he comes to China, he fails completely to mention any of the legitimate interests China has in East Asia.

2. The author repeats the nonsensical China haters' allegation about China's threat to America, and China's intention to push American out of East Asia.

3. The author resorts back to a typical zero-sum or even cold-war style mentality when talking about overall China strategy, without even considering the possibilities that China and America can co-exist in a friendly manner, where all the peaceful competition between the two countries ultimately translating into net positive results that benefit the people of both countries and the world.

Unfortunately, our so-called "experts" in China are consistently failing Americans badly, because they lack the knowledge and perspective to think from the other side of the coin.

Steve , says: May 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm
I scrolled for quite a bit before finding Thaomas' comment about TPP. Leaving it will prove to be one of the Trump's admin's greatest blunders (which is saying something) and any column about China strategy that omits it is incomplete.
hooly , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm
So why exactly should Russia be accommodated and be allowed its sphere of influence and a 'defense perimeter' and not China? I don't get it. And why should the USA be allowed the fruits of its aggression in the form of an annexed and brutally conquered Hawaii? why can't Uncle Sam be satisfied with San Diego as a naval base?

The USA has the Monroe Doctrine giving it dominion over the Western Hemisphere, and China holds the Mandate of Heaven granting it hegemony over everything else. Can't the Dragon and the Eagle get along on that basis??

Ken Zaretzke , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:06 pm
In terms of geography, China vitally needs Russia in order to close off a corridor through which Muslims will flow to China. Without that cooperation from Russia, China will be seriously hobbled by unassimilable and hostile migrants in its south. At least symbolically, this will cripple its superpower claims.

The U.S. would be stupid not to seek an alliance with Russia, given Russia's geographical strengths, which also includes its proximity to the Arctic and therefore a legal claim to the oil and gas buried there.

Geography is Russia's long-term strength, and not incidentally is a reason why trying militarily to force Putin to surrender Crimea could easily lead to nuclear war, which might begin with tactical (battlefield) Russian nukes aimed at NATO garrisons in eastern Europe.

China isn't fated to win its contest with the U.S. if it must depend on Russia in order to become an unquestioned superpower. We need Russia for strategic security as much as Russia needs us for economic growth.

fabian , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Nice summary. In my view the US (not Trump) make a big mistake to throw Russia in the arms of China. It's not only its geopolitical situation that is the problem but the fact the it gives China unlimited access to natural resources. In a generation, if things goes the way they do now, the only saving grace for the US will be a failure of this partnership. Because if it works, by the sheer force of gravity it will swallow Europe. But betting on the adversary's failure is not a good strategy.
workingdad , says: May 22, 2019 at 3:08 pm
eh, keeping pressure on Iran keeps Saudi Arabia happy which means they stay in our sphere; as opposed to China's.

Until Venezuala wants to become part of the Oil-for-dollars system or we all drive electric cars and only oil for remote work and emergency military expeditions then we need the Saudis on our side.

Un Citoyen , says: May 22, 2019 at 3:58 pm
This kind of mentality is the reason why I think the demise of America is necessary to achieve world peace.

Why on God's green earth should America dominate East Asia? Last time I checked, America is NOT part of Asia. We are not even in the same hemisphere for crying out loud. Why can't we just leave Asia to the Asians?

When was the last time China invaded a country? Never. These are the same people who discovered Africa and America long before the Europeans, but only wanted to "do business" and trade. They already have 1.3 Billion mouths to feed, the last thing the Chinese government needs is more mouths to feed.

Meanwhile, when Washington thinks of invasion, all they think of is guns, tanks, battleships. The Chinese are already quietly invading and conquering the west -- through immigration. All along the East and West coasts, Chinese dominant cities and schools are popping up everywhere. America really is the stupidest country on earth sometimes. All brawn and no brain. We want to start wars with everybody in the name of protecting "American interests", while the rest of the world are already conquering us from within through immigration. Wake up America.

Ricardo Toledano , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Though Mr. Merry sees things clearly, I can't really see why people like playing these games in the age of nukes.

It's one thing trying to play Kaiser Wilhelm II and dream of containment and conquest when you actually had to send armies to defeat your enemies, It's another to do so when people can kill a few millions by pressing a button.

It's a reckless game for me.

Ricardo Toledano , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Though Mr. Merry sees things clearly, I can't really see why people like playing these games in the age of nukes.

It's one thing trying to play Kaiser Wilhelm II and dream of containment and conquest when you actually had to send armies to defeat your enemies, It's another to do so when people can kill a few millions by pressing a button.

It's a reckless game to me.

Tom Diebold , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:32 pm
I would assume that the US is "in" East Asia, to a significant extent, because Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have sought US security and defense guarantees. The US has not forced itself into the region. Korea has reasons to be concerned about China, due to its experiences during the Korean War, and Taiwan, which wishes to remain independent of Chinese control, is directly threatened by China.

As for other allies in the region, Philippine president Duterte's overtures, upon taking office, to China, and his especially disparaging remarks about the US while making an official visit to China, seem quite puzzling, given China's illegitimate seizing of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea. US relations with the Philippines needs to be reexamined in light of this development. While Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are first-level allies in the region, the Philippines is not.

[May 22, 2019] Trump's Latest Unhinged Threat by Daniel Larison

Trump proved to a dangerous, crazy demagogue.
Notable quotes:
"... There is very good reason to think that the Iranian government doesn't want to fight unless it is backed into a corner and given no other choice, so it is dangerous and irresponsible to threaten them with annihilation for any reason. Even if Trump imagines that he is "warning" Iran, his words taken together with the administration's behavior over the last year are likely to be received very differently in Tehran. The idea that the U.S. would "end" Iran in the event of a conflict is crazy and appalling, and it reflects the president's poorly-concealed contempt for the country and its people. ..."
"... Trump's rhetoric is aimed at appealing to his domestic supporters, so he doesn't think about or care how it sounds to the targeted regime, but my guess is that the Iranian government will take this as additional proof that there is no point in talking to the U.S. while Trump is in charge. Over-the-top threats of destroying the entire country give the Iranian government another incentive to reject all U.S. demands, and they obviously do nothing to deescalate tensions between our governments when they are already very high. As usual, Trump's public displays of "toughness" only make him seem like an overcompensating bully and give hard-liners in both countries another boost. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The U.S. and Iran came unacceptably close to an avoidable war in the last two weeks. Now that things appear to be calming down a little, the president naturally feels the need to make another unhinged threat about annihilating the entire country:

The president reportedly does not want war with Iran, but it is hard to take that seriously when he makes cavalier threats about "ending" a nation of 80 million people. This latest threat recalls the president's previous deranged statement made in response to some unremarkable comments that Rouhani made about Iran's readiness to defend itself. Trump seems incapable of learning from this recent scare that it was excessive U.S. hostility towards Iran that put our governments on a collision course. If he doesn't recognize that it is his own Iran policy and his own advisers that nearly took the U.S. and Iran over the cliff's edge, that suggests that he isn't going to make any of the necessary policy or personnel changes to prevent similar standoffs from happening in the future.

There is very good reason to think that the Iranian government doesn't want to fight unless it is backed into a corner and given no other choice, so it is dangerous and irresponsible to threaten them with annihilation for any reason. Even if Trump imagines that he is "warning" Iran, his words taken together with the administration's behavior over the last year are likely to be received very differently in Tehran. The idea that the U.S. would "end" Iran in the event of a conflict is crazy and appalling, and it reflects the president's poorly-concealed contempt for the country and its people.

Trump's rhetoric is aimed at appealing to his domestic supporters, so he doesn't think about or care how it sounds to the targeted regime, but my guess is that the Iranian government will take this as additional proof that there is no point in talking to the U.S. while Trump is in charge. Over-the-top threats of destroying the entire country give the Iranian government another incentive to reject all U.S. demands, and they obviously do nothing to deescalate tensions between our governments when they are already very high. As usual, Trump's public displays of "toughness" only make him seem like an overcompensating bully and give hard-liners in both countries another boost.


Restonian , says: May 19, 2019 at 8:28 pm

"Over-the-top threats of destroying the entire country give the Iranian government another incentive to reject all U.S. demands, and they obviously do nothing to deescalate tensions between our governments when they are already very high."

Another thing about these "over-the-top threats of destroying the entire country" from Trump

One reason I voted for him was because of Hillary Clinton's reckless threat to "obliterate" Iran. I thought Trump knew better than to ape Clinton in that regard. But not only does he not know better, he's now made at least as wildly reckless a threat as she did, and he did it from the Oval Office.

He now seems far likelier to drag us into another war (by accident or purposely) over there than Clinton did back in 2016.

Joe F , says: May 19, 2019 at 9:17 pm
Isn't this the same as Death to America or Death to Israel. This reckless fool gets his buttons pushed while he is playing golf and decides to imperil security throughout the ME. Iran is asserting itself to protect its interest in a dangerous neighborhood, but pose no threat to the US at all, this is about Israel's conflict with Iran and even more dangerously, the Saudis want the US to win the war against the Shia for the Sunnis.

I (and everyone else in this country) have zero interest in picking sides in Shia v Sunni and Trump is to stupid to know that is what he is being dragged into by MBS and Netanyahu. There is no reason we could not stay in the nuke deal and begin to turn heat down with Iran.

Uncle Billy , says: May 20, 2019 at 6:12 am
The Saudis and Israel want a war between the US and Iran. Iran is not a threat to the US, so why do we have to do what the Saudis and Israelis tell us to do? To listen to the Neocons, you would think that the Iranian navy was steaming up Chesapeake Bay looking for a fight.
SteveM , says: May 20, 2019 at 8:52 am
Christopher Preble at the Cato Institute has opined on preventive vs. pre-emptive war. What about preventive or pre-emptive impeachment?

Trump's crazed threats against Iran are wildly unconstitutional. His threats contain no references to the Congress which has the sole authority to declare war. Trump is implying that he has war-making authority as President that the Constitution explicitly denies him.

Moreover, a Pentagon that supports Trump in his illegal war-mongering demonstrates allegiance to a self-anointed Emperor, not the Constitution. The sanctified "Generals" are a huge part of the problem whether in supporting the Saudi war crimes in Yemen or the war-mongering against Iran.

If I were in Congress, I'd move to impeach Trump now because if he starts a war, that bell can't be unrung no matter how illegal and unconstitutional its origin.

liberal , says: May 20, 2019 at 10:09 am
A big part of the problem is that there's no penalty for starting illegal, aggressive wars. Everyone (present company not included) seems to focus on crimes regarding the conduct of war ( jus in bello ) instead of the (IMHO at least as important) legality of the war itself ( jus ad bellum ). It's why Serbian war criminals were prosecuted, but not George W. Bush, who under any reasonable jus ad bellum criteria murdered 500,000 people.

A really excellent rethinking of war and legal philosophy is Jeff McMahan's Killing in War . From the Amazon blurb:

Killing a person is in general among the most seriously wrongful forms of action, yet most of us accept that it can be permissible to kill people on a large scale in war. Does morality become more permissive in a state of war? Jeff McMahan argues that conditions in war make no difference to what morality permits and the justifications for killing people are the same in war as they are in other contexts, such as individual self-defence. This view is radically at odds with the traditional theory of the just war and has implications that challenge common sense views. McMahan argues, for example, that it is wrong to fight in a war that is unjust because it lacks a just cause.

McMahan concludes IIRC that aggressive invading forces are not entitled to any use of force, whereas defensive forces are entitled to any use of force (similar to the situation if someone is defending their home against a robber).

Taras 77 , says: May 20, 2019 at 10:57 am
It is fairly clear that that the war mongering cabal have gotten to trump over the weekend:kushner,nitenyahoo,adelson,bolton,clown prince; trump folds and comes out with a stupid tweet that no he has not softened on the threats for war and destruction.
Pathetic-this is a crew in charge?? God help america and the world.
Egypt Steve , says: May 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Joe F. is right. When the Iranians were (mis)quoted as saying they wanted to wipe Israel off the map, this was routinely cited as proof that they were genocidal maniacs who could never be negotiated with, only defeated. So now we have a definite, on the record threat of genocide coming from the mouth of the American "president." What will the Iranians and the rest of the world conclude about us?

[May 22, 2019] Why Iran Won't Talk to Trump by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... The problem is not just that Trump and his advisers don't understand why these governments behave as they do, but that they are seeking concessions from them that no government would ever grant ..."
"... The door to talks with Iran is firmly shut and locked, and it is Trump's own actions that have made sure that it will stay closed for as long as he is president. ..."
"... Threatening the entire country with destruction just confirms the Iranian government in their determination to wait Trump out. ..."
"... Iran's government has not only been burned by the experience of negotiating with the U.S., but they also gave up what they had to trade in an attempt to get the sanctions relief that they were then denied. By ripping the Iranians off, Trump proved himself to be untrustworthy, and Iran's government no longer had anything they were willing to offer in exchange anyway. ..."
"... Contrary to Trump's thuggish approach to international relations, sending out "genocidal tweets" is not the way to gain respect and cooperation from other governments. Most other people understand that, but unfortunately this is what the president thinks diplomacy is. ..."
"... As a construction professional for 45+ years with my first decade spent in and around NJ, I can relate to anyone who won't bother talking to Trump. He was poison as a developer; not to be trusted at all. He walked away from his own deals as often as not. Things do not appear to have changed very much since then. ..."
May 21, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
President Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com , European External Action Service/Flickr The president's unhinged threat against Iran earlier this week recalls similar reckless rhetoric against North Korea in 2017. Just as we came dangerously close to an avoidable conflict then, the U.S. and Iran run the same risk now. If Trump thinks that this is why North Korea wanted to negotiate and that the same thing will happen with Iran, he is in for a rude awakening :

"Claiming a win on North Korea when the outcome has been anything but that is dangerous on two fronts: With North Korea because Kim is likely going to keep gradually escalating behavior that the US finds provocative, and with Iran because Trump seems to have internalized his own fact-free narrative about the magic he worked with North Korea," Jackson said.

The failure of Trump's North Korea policy is contributing to the failure of his Iran policy in part because he mistakenly believes that "maximum pressure" and threats brought North Korea to the table. Because he wrongly assumes that North Korea agreed to talk in response to pressure, he may also wrongly think this will force Iran to do likewise. In both cases, the administration won't get what it wants because it is demanding things from these states that they aren't ever going to give up. North Korea may go through the motions of talking about it, but Iran won't even bother with that. The problem is not just that Trump and his advisers don't understand why these governments behave as they do, but that they are seeking concessions from them that no government would ever grant. Talks with North Korea have predictably stalled for this reason, and that is why there will be no talks with Iran.

As Negar Mortazavi points out in a new report, the Iranian government is not seeking a summit with an American president as North Korean leaders have been doing for decades:

The North Korea blueprint will not work with Iran. Iranian leaders are very different from Kim Jung-un. They are not looking for public approval from the President of the United States and are not after photo-ops on the world stage.

Trump was pushing on an open door with a North Korean government that already wanted to talk once they had finished developing their nuclear arsenal.

The door to talks with Iran is firmly shut and locked, and it is Trump's own actions that have made sure that it will stay closed for as long as he is president.

Threatening the entire country with destruction just confirms the Iranian government in their determination to wait Trump out. The other obvious difference is that North Korea is a nuclear weapons state (whether we want to admit it or not) and Iran traded away the bulk of their leverage when they implemented and adhered to the nuclear deal. North Korea's leaders felt confident in negotiating with the U.S. because they believed they were doing so from a position of strength. Iran's government has not only been burned by the experience of negotiating with the U.S., but they also gave up what they had to trade in an attempt to get the sanctions relief that they were then denied. By ripping the Iranians off, Trump proved himself to be untrustworthy, and Iran's government no longer had anything they were willing to offer in exchange anyway.

The only way for the U.S. and Iran to get back to a point where our governments could start negotiations on other issues would be if a future president reentered the JCPOA and tried to make amends for the last few years of relentless hostility. Contrary to Trump's thuggish approach to international relations, sending out "genocidal tweets" is not the way to gain respect and cooperation from other governments. Most other people understand that, but unfortunately this is what the president thinks diplomacy is.

Myron K Hudson, says: May 21, 2019 at 8:17 pm

As a construction professional for 45+ years with my first decade spent in and around NJ, I can relate to anyone who won't bother talking to Trump. He was poison as a developer; not to be trusted at all. He walked away from his own deals as often as not. Things do not appear to have changed very much since then.

[May 21, 2019] 2020 Elections: It's Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid! by Ajamu Baraka

May 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

U.S. ships are involved in provocative "freedom of navigation" exercises in the South China Sea and other ships gather ominously in the Mediterranean Sea while National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo along with convicted war criminal Elliot Abrams conspire to save the people of Venezuela with another illegal "regime change" intervention. But people are drawn to the latest adventures of Love and Hip-Hop, the Mueller report, and Game of Thrones. In fact, while millions can recall with impressive detail the proposals and strategies of the various players in HBO's latest saga, they can't recall two details about the pending military budget that will likely pass in Congress with little debate, even though Trump's budget proposal represents another obscene increase of public money to the tune of $750 billion.

This bipartisan rip-off could not occur without the willing collusion of the corporate media, which slants coverage to support the interests of the ruling elite or decides to just ignore an issue like the ever-expanding military budget.

The effectiveness of this collusion is reflected in the fact that not only has this massive theft of public money not gotten much coverage in the mainstream corporate media, but also it only received sporadic coverage in the alternative media. The liberal-left media is distracted enough by the theatrics of the Trump show to do the ideological dirty work of the elites.

Spending on war will consume almost 70% of the budget and be accompanied by cuts in public spending for education, housing, the environment, public transportation, jobs trainings, food support programs like food stamps and Meals on Wheels, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Most of the neoliberal candidates running in the Democratic Party's electoral process, however, haven't spoken a word in opposition to Trump's budget.

The public knows that the Democratic Party's candidates are opposed to Trump's wall on the southern border, and they expect to hear them raise questions about the $8.6 billion of funding the wall. But while some of the Democrats may oppose the wall, very few have challenged the details of the budget that the U.S. Peace Council indicates . For example:

"$576 billion baseline budget for the Department of Defense; an additional $174 billion for the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), i.e., the war budget; $93.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs; $51.7 billion for Homeland Security; $42.8 billion for State Department; an additional $26.1 billion for State Department's Overseas Contingency Operations (regime change slush fund); $16.5 billion for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (nuclear weapons budget); $21 billion for NASA (militarizing outer space?); plus $267.4 billion for all other government agencies, including funding for FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice."

The Peace Council also highlights the following two issues: First, the total US military and war budget has jumped from $736.4 billion to $989.0 billion since 2015. That is a $252.6 billion (about 35%) increase in five years. Second, thesimultaneous cuts in the government's non-military spending are reflected in the proposed budget.

Here are some of biggest proposed budget cuts:

+ $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years, implementing work requirements as well as eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The budget instead adds $1.2 trillion for a "Market Based Health Care Grant" -- that is, a block grant to states, instead of paying by need. It's not clear whether that would be part of Medicaid.

+ An $845 billion cut to Medicare over 10 years. That is about a 10 percent cut .

+ $25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance.

+ A $220 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) over 10 years , which is commonly referred to as food stamps, and includes mandatory work requirements. The program currently serves around 45 million people.

+ A $21 billion cut to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , an already severely underfunded cash-assistance program for the nation's poorest.

+ $207 billion in cuts to the student loan program, eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and cutting subsidized student loans.

+ Overall, there is a 9 percent cut to non-defense programs , which would hit Section 8 housing vouchers, public housing programs, Head Start, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program , among others.

The working classes and oppressed peoples of the U.S. and around the world can no longer afford the unchallenged ideological positions of the Pentagon budget and the associated expenditures for so-called defense that are considered sacrosanct in the U.S. They cannot afford that much of the U.S. public is not concerned with issues of so-called foreign policy that the military budget is seen as part.

The racist appeals of U.S. national chauvinism in the form of "Make America Great" and the Democrats' version of "U.S. Exceptionalism" must be confronted and exposed as the cross-class, white identity politics that they are. The fact that supposedly progressive or even "radical" politics does not address the issue of U.S. expenditures on war and imperialism is reflective of a politics that is morally and political bankrupt. But it also does something else. It places those practitioners firmly in the camp of the enemies of humanity.

The objective fact that large numbers of the public accept that the U.S. can determine the leadership of another sovereign nation while simultaneously being outraged by the idea of a foreign power interfering in U.S. elections demonstrates the mindboggling subjective contradictions that exist in the U.S. For example – that an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez can assert that she will defer to the leadership of her caucus on the issue of Venezuela or that Barbara Lee can vote to bring Trump's budget proposal out of committee or that Biden can proudly support Trump's immoral backing of a neo-fascist opposition in Venezuela and they will all get away with those positions – reveals the incredible challenge that we face in building an alternative radical movement for peace, social justice and people(s)-centered human rights.

So, we must join with U.S. Peace Council and the other members of the Anti-war, pro-peace, and anti-imperialist communities in the U.S. to "resist and oppose this military attack on our communities, our livelihoods and our lives." This is an urgent and militant first step in reversing the cultural support for violence and the normalization of war that currently exists in the U.S. Now is the moment to demand that Congress reject and reverse the Trump Administration's military budget and the U.S. Government's militaristic foreign policy. But now is also the moment to commit to building a powerful countermovement to take back the power over life and death from the denizens of violence represented by the rapacious 1%. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Ajamu Baraka

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.

[May 21, 2019] Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment by David Swanson

May 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
A new book called Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Kris Newby adds significantly to our understanding of Lyme disease, while oddly seeming to avoid mention of what we already knew.

Newby claims (in 2019) that if a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer had not made a confession in 2013, the secret that Lyme disease came from a biological weapons program would have died with him. Yet, in 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory . He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on NBC's Today Show, where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection. Lab 257 hit the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

Newby's book reaches the same conclusion as Carroll's, namely that the most likely source of diseased ticks is Plum Island. Newby reaches this conclusion on page 224 after mentioning Plum Island only once in passing in a list of facilities on page 47 and otherwise avoiding it throughout the book. This is bizarre, because Newby's book otherwise goes into great depth, and even chronicles extensive research efforts that lead largely to dead ends, and because there is information available about Plum Island, and because Carroll's best-selling book seems to demand comment, supportive or dismissive or otherwise.

In fact, I think that, despite the avoidance of any discussion of Plum Island, Newby's research complements Carroll's quite well, strengthens the same general conclusion, and then adds significant new understanding. So, let's look at what Carroll told us, and then at what Newby adds.

Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes or at least made biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer swim to Plum Island. Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. "Ticks," Carroll writes, "find baby chicks irresistible."

In July of 1975 a new or very rare disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors . After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s (when we know that the United States was using such weaponized life forms in North Korea ). Even Plum Island's indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease -- and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

If Newby agrees or disagrees with any of the above, she does not inform us. But here's what she adds to it.

The outbreak of unusual tick-borne disease around Long Island Sound actually started in 1968, and it involved three diseases: Lyme arthritis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. A U.S. bioweapons scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, credited in 1982 with discovering the cause of Lyme disease, may have put the diseases into ticks 30 years earlier. And his report on the cause of Lyme disease may have involved a significant omission that has made it harder to diagnose or cure. The public focus on only one of the three diseases has allowed a disaster that could have been contained to become widespread.

Newby documents in detail Burgdorfer's work for the U.S. government giving diseases to ticks in large quantities to be used as weapons, as they have been in Cuba in 1962, for example. "He was growing microbes inside ticks, having the ticks feed on animals, and then harvesting the microbes from the animals that exhibited the level of illness the military had requested."

Burgdorfer published a paper in 1952 about the intentional infecting of ticks. In 2013, filmmaker Tim Grey asked him, on camera, whether the pathogen he had identified in 1982 as the cause of Lyme disease was the same one or similar or a generational mutation of the one he'd written about in 1952. Burgdorfer replied in the affirmative.

Interviewed by Newby, Burgdorfer described his efforts to create an illness that would be difficult to test for -- knowledge of which he might have shared earlier with beneficial results for those suffering.

Newby, who has herself suffered from Lyme disease, blames the profit interests of companies and the corruption of government for the poor handling of Lyme disease. But her writing suggests to me a possibility she doesn't raise, namely that those who know where Lyme disease came from have avoided properly addressing it because of where it came from.

Newby assumes throughout the book that there has to have been a particular major incident near Long Island Sound, either an accident or an experiment on the public or an attack by a foreign nation. Burgdorfer reportedly claimed to another researcher that Russia stole U.S. bioweapons. Based on that and nothing else, Newby speculates that perhaps Russia attacked the United States with diseased ticks, coincidentally right in the location where the U.S. government experimented with diseased ticks.

"What this book brings to light," Newby writes, "is that the U.S. military has conducted thousands of experiments exploring the use of ticks and tick-borne diseases as biological weapons, and in some cases, these agents escaped into the environment. The government needs to declassify the details of these open-air bioweapons tests so that we can begin to repair the damage these pathogens are inflicting on human and animals in the ecosystem."

Another product of U.S. bio-weapons tax dollars at work, of course, was the anthrax mailed to politicians in 2001. While Newby speculates that perhaps someone was trying to demonstrate the danger for our own good, I don't think we should forget that one purpose served -- whether or not intended -- by the "anthrax attacks" was a significant augmentation of the Iraq war lies. The attacks were falsely blamed on Iraq, and even if people have forgotten that, they fell for it long enough for it to matter. The one bit of truth in current public understanding of Lyme disease is that it has not been falsely blamed on some country the United States is eager to bomb. Let's keep it that way! Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: David Swanson

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition .

[May 21, 2019] Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants by Gary Leupp

May 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

May 17, 2019 Isn't it obvious? A moronic president with no firm principles other than the preservation of his base's support chose as his third national security advisor the notorious John Bolton. Bolton is using his position to try to guide the supposedly isolationist president into more wars of imperialist aggression. He is the Wormtongue in Trump's court, allied not with Saruman and Mordor but Binyamin Netanyahu, Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the neocon cause for Middle East dominance. He presently tows the administration's line in seeking peace with North Korea, but he has historically urged regime change in the DPRK. He was probably the one who at the last minute sabotaged the announcement of an already worked out agreement in Hanoi.

He has long been a proponent of regime change in Venezuela, and deliberately threatened to post 5000 U.S. troops in Colombia to "assist" Venezuelans (and distribute food to them, and help in the coup). The planned coup fizzled however, much to the disappointment of the corporate media that was expecting high drama last week. Trump reportedly felt he'd been misled to think the clown Guaido would be able to seize power. He may blame Bolton for that.

Bolton has been an advocate of regime change in Syria, too, for over two decades. He has lied before to produce pretexts for U.S. actions (or to justify Israeli ones) against the Syrian state. Most of all he has demanded the bombing of Iran, on the basis of the Big Lie that Iran has ever had anything other than a peaceful, civilian nuclear program (initially supported by General Electric under the Eisenhower "Atoms for Peace" program in the 1950s). Now he is chomping at the bit, thinking his moment has come.

Trump is besieged by investigations, embarrassing revelations about his rather pathetic business history, and fallout from the China trade war. Impeachment is a real possibility, if House hearings show criminality so obvious that Republicans will desert the president. (It is not as though all Republican Senators love him; they are simply too awed by his solid 35-40% to break with him publicly.) The president is no doubt distracted and troubled.

In this context a National Security Council meeting was held in which the acting secretary of "defense" Patrick Shanahan (and Bolton) laid out options for a war with Iran. No fewer than six people present contacted the press afterwards to leak this news, indicating shock that such was even being considered.

Then Bolton, in a highly unusual statement in his own name, and perhaps without even the knowledge of the moron-president, announced that the U.S. was sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to respond to Iranian threats to U.S. troops and interests in the area. Even MSNBC and CNN are questioning the basis for the reported threats, which are obviously more Bolton bullshit.

Trump joked recently, "I'm actually the one who tempers John, isn't that amazing?" implying that it was odd that
Bolton was even more bellicose and outrageous than himself. Hahahaha.

Imagine Bolton saying, "Look we can use those explosions on the UAE oil tankers in the Persian Gulf May 13 to blame Iran. Think about the U.S. Maine. You know? Oh you don't? We used this accident on a U.S. navy ship in Havana Harbor in 1898 to blame it on Spain and go to war. Spain wasn't responsible. But we got Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii out of the deal."

Trump perhaps laughs at this reminder (?) of U.S. history. He enjoys interacting with total warmongers. But he promised his base no more foreign wars. Morality has nothing to do with hesitation to send troops; when it comes to bombing and missile strikes Trump has shown his manhood in Afghanistan (dropping the monstrous MOAB bomb for the first time, just to show off what it could do) and Syria (striking some mothballed aircraft at a Syrian air force base in response to a bogus allegation of Syrian government sarin use). But he hesitates to deploy more troops abroad.

Yet suddenly (due to Bolton) we read of plans to dispatch 120,000 U.S. troops to the region around Iran if there's some attack on U.S. forces. Or maybe, allied (Saudi, UAE) forces. Trump's challenge to Iran, expressed in his childlike vocabulary, is both clear and totally unclear: "If they do anything they will suffer greatly." Anything. Will there be war? "We'll see."

Bolton must have now gained enough insight into Trump's malignant narcissistic personality that he knows what times and moods to exploit to pursue his own initiatives. Again, Trump may not even have been aware of Bolton's announcement. But Secretary of State Pompeo would have known, and acting Secretary of War Shanahan (Boeing Aircraft executive with no military experience) would have known as he announced plans for a potential deployment of 120,000 troops.

The warmongers have swiftly risen in the administration, raising worries about war on Venezuela or Iran if not North Korea. Trump is mercurial, impulsive, impressionable, without compassion or conscience. At this point the equally evil Bolton is the worst Wormtongue to have at his side and in his ear.

*****

Breaking news: Trump tells the press that he is not planning to send 120,000 troops to the Persian Gulf. (This is after the British Foreign Minister strongly advised against the move.) He calls it fake news. But, he adds, if he sends troops it will be a lot more than 120,000!

Unless you read that Bolton is fired in the near future, be rationally anxious. He's a despised, crazed monster, as any time Google-searching will convince you. And he serves a man without empathy, who admires outrageously brutal and foul-mouthed men. The combination is terrifying. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Gary Leupp

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan ; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan ; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 . He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion , (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

[May 20, 2019] May be tensions with Iran is the USA neocons strategy of containing China by depriving it economy of oil

China is Iran strategic ally. It will continue to buy Iranian oil.
May 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

charles 2 , May 20, 2019 at 6:43 am

Or maybe it is just one front: I.e. making globalisation difficult for the Chinese :
by pushing non Chinese Asians countries to de-integrate their supply chains with China and
by cutting its supply of oil though shortages induced by tensions in the Gulf.
The US knows that it can't be the sole superpower anymore any longer, so the strategy is to reverse globalisation so that no other global superpower (a Russian-Chinese with a dominating Persia in the Middle East) can emerge.
Far too early to say if the strategy will be successful or not.
As far as I am concerned, the silver linings would be that a long period of oil shortage could finally be the trigger to switch industrial infrastructure worldwide away from liquid and gaseous fossils, and that less globalised supply chain would be more robust to shocks, but if these silver linings were the ultimate goals, I could think of less adversarial ways to achieve that globally, with less money wasted on the military

jackson , May 20, 2019 at 8:41 am

The benefits of joint pricing mechanisms are also enormous. Currently, Iran has no choice because of the sanctions but to sell its oil – including from the shared fields – at massively reduced pricing that is comprised of its official selling price (OSP) minus the sanctions discount minus the incremental risk discount. This has resulted in Iran offering 'cost, insurance, and freight' cargoes for 'free on board' pricing, with the difference between the two covered by Iran. "Under this new agreement, Iranian oil from these shared fields will be sold based on Iraq's much higher three month moving average OSP pricing for cargoes, with no discounts at all, and the three month moving average for the effective spot market that Iraq has created and now controls," said the oil source.

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Geo , May 20, 2019 at 3:02 am

Thanks for the in-depth info. Lots to digest and research.

the US has acted in such bad faith so often in the early stages of conflicts that it's sensible to wonder how much of this account is accurate. It is very frustrating to be dealing with an informational hall of mirrors.

It's depressing to say but I when I read anything from domestic official sources or the media I can't help but think it's mostly lies. Not under the illusion that foreign actors are all righteous and benevolent, but as you said, our nation's track record with the truth in these scenarios is pretty tainted at this point. Just as we found out with Saddam and Qaddafi, these leaders have little reason to poke the dragon, and a lot of reason to build up defenses.

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PlutoniumKun , May 20, 2019 at 5:35 am

Interesting observations if true, and they certainly do make sense of a lot of the things that have been happening.

I see it hasn't dissuaded Trump though, this morning he is reported as doubling down on his threats to Iran. A big fear now is that Iran does not seem to be in the mood to give Trump the sort of symbolic 'win' he can use to climb down gracefully (and sack Bolton). The Saudi's can probably be scared into stepping back, but the Israeli's and the neocons want a hot war.

Its easy to see this gradually ratchet up step by step into an uncontrolled region wide conflict.

Ignim Brites , May 20, 2019 at 8:54 am

Not sure what to make of this article but the Anglo-American press is not providing much context for the recent ratcheting up of confrontation with Iran.

NotTimothyGeithner , May 20, 2019 at 10:11 am

The MSM is mostly stenographers and right leaning pundits. If no one tells them, they wouldn't know.

Also, the DC elites were pretty irked by Obama's Iran deal. They deferred to Obama and the Europeans who demanded the deal, but I think they live in a world where DC's enemies are the enemies of the American people who overwhelmingly supported the Iran deal. DC hasn't come to grips with this.

JBird4049 , May 20, 2019 at 12:20 pm

but I think they live in a world where DC's enemies are the enemies of the American people who overwhelmingly supported the Iran deal. DC hasn't come to grips with this.

Yes, because all pain, real blood and death, misery and horror that they cause in fighting what they assume putatively are "the American people's enemies" are never suffered by them, but only everyone else including the American people; all the financial benefits do go to them so it is all gain and no cost.

Ian Perkins , May 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

Will Lavrov and Wang Yi's guarantees prevent an Israeli nuclear attack on Iranian facilities, followed by US pledges to fully support Israel's right to self defence?

jackson , May 20, 2019 at 10:01 am

There are two kinds of weapons in the world offensive and defensive. The latter are cheaper, a fighter plane compared to a bomber. If a country does not (or cannot afford to) have offensive intent, it makes sense to focus on defense. It is what Iran has done. Moreover, its missile centered defense has a modern deadly twist -- the missiles are precision-guided. As an Iranian general remarked when questioned about the carrier task force: some years ago it would've been a threat he opined; now it's a target. Iran also has a large standing army of 350,000 plus a 120,000 strong Revolutionary Guard and Soviet style air defenses. In 2016 Russia started installation of the S-300 system. It has all kinds of variants, the most advanced, the S-300 PMU-3 has a range similar to the S-400 if equipped with 40N6E missiles, which are used also in the S-400. Their range is 400 km, so the Iranian batteries are virtually S-400s. The wily Putin has kept trump satisfied with the S-300 moniker without short-changing his and China's strategic ally. The latter continuing to buy Iranian oil.

Iran has friends in Europe also. Angela Merkel in particular has pointed out that Iran has complied fully with the nuclear provisions of the UN Security Council backed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action i.e. the Iran nuclear deal. She is mustering the major European powers. Already alienated with Trump treating them as adversaries rather than friends, they find Trump's bullying tiresome. President Macron, his poll ratings hitting the lowest, is hardly likely to engage in Trump's venture. In Britain, Theresa May is barely able to hold on to her job. In the latest thrust by senior members of her party, she has been asked to name the day she steps down.

So there we have it. Nobody wants war with Iran. Even Israel, so far without a post-election government does not want to be rained upon by missiles leaky as its Iron Dome was against homemade Palestinian rockets. Topping all of this neither Trump nor Secretary of State Pompeo want war. Trump is as usual trying to bully -- now called maximum pressure -- Iran into submission. It won't. The wild card is National Security Adviser John Bolton. He wants war. A Gulf of Tonkin type false flag incident, or an Iranian misstep, or some accident can still set it off. In Iran itself, moderates like current President Hassan Rouhani are being weakened by Trump's shenanigans. The hard liners might well want to bleed America as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thomas P , May 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I don't trust those air defenses too much, where have they ever performed well? The scary part is where Iran assumes that USA can through repeated air strikes wipe out their missiles. They will from the start find themselves in a "use them or lose them" scenario and may launch everything as response to even a limited US strike, since they can't know if it is limited or the beginning of a full scale attack, and I doubt Iran is willing to go down without doing everything it can to hurt their enemies. (Possibly excluding Israel which is crazy enough to go nuclear in response).

[May 20, 2019] On The Cusp Of War Why Iran Won't Fold

May 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Glenn F sent along this story about recent events in the US-Iran conflict, many of which don't appear to have been reported in the English language press. Interestingly, the article takes the position that it is the Saudis that have been doing their best and largely succeeding in suppressing these reports.

Going into the weekend, it looked as if the US was trying to turn down the Iran threat meter a notch. Both Iran and the Saudis said they didn't want war but were prepared for one. Then a mystery rocket landed in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Oopsie. From the Wall Street Journal:

No major destruction was inflicted by the rocket, which landed near a museum displaying old planes and caused some damage to a building used by security guards, according to an official in the interior ministry.

The interior ministry official, who declined to be identified, said the rocket had landed around a kilometer from the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's Green Zone, where many other diplomatic missions and Iraqi government offices are located.

No group claimed responsibility. But security officials said security forces had found and seized a mobile rocket launcher in an area of Baghdad where Shiite militias, including some with close links to Iran, have a presence.

But also note this:

The Trump administration last week ordered a partial evacuation of its diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Erbil citing increased threats posed by Iran and its allies in Iraq. The Iraqi government has varying degrees of control over an array of armed groups, some of which are closely affiliated with Iran.

... ... ...

[May 20, 2019] EP.744 Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel -- Joe Biden's Conventional Wisdom is AMERICAN IMPERIALISM!

May 11, 2019 | www.youtube.com

On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel who discusses why he is joining the race to pull the debate to the left, the nature of his contenders such as Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders, US regime change attempts in Venezuela and escalating tension with Iran, Julian Assange's imprisonment in the UK and the US' extradition request. Next we speak to Chris Williamson MP, in his first international interview since being suspended by the Labour Party.

He discusses NHS privatisation by stealth with the new GP contracts due to be signed next week, Israeli oppression of Palestinians, Trump's escalation against Iran and Julian Assange's on-going imprisonment in Belmarsh Prison.


Gary Salisbury , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo Finally Tells the Truth: 'We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal'" !! He makes me want to Puke !! His duplicity has no bounds !! A swamp dweller of NOTE !!

B. Greene , 1 week ago (edited)

Senator Gravel needs 100k unique contributions to qualify for the DNC debates. Help him shake things up with a $1 donation at: www.mikegravel.com

TrickyVickey , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo is a murderous "dictator pusher" for the military industrial complex.

harriet , 6 days ago (edited)

Love Mike gravel, honest, good, genuine person with pure heart and soul! Donate dollar to get him on the debates! Love Chris Williamson also a great men we need more people like these! This channel should have way more subs and views, great show!

Muzza Man , 1 week ago (edited)

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels . They are going to be INVADED by the real world terrorists, the USA,BRITAIN, and their puppet allies !!!! Need I say more?

invisble man , 1 week ago

Joe Biden could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and sniff everybody and he would not lose any voters.

[May 20, 2019] Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States

May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , May 19, 2019 10:55:01 PM | 6

Below is my final Xinhuanet link about China/US relations

Chinese FM urges US to avoid further damage of ties in phone call with Pompeo

The take away quote
"
Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States.
"
Empire is having its hand slapped back in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, ???

Where are they going to get their war on?

I see empire as a war junkie and they are starting to twitch in withdrawals which is dangerous but a necessary stage. Trumps latest tweets show that level of energy.

The spinning plates of empire are not wowing the crowds like before.....what is plan Z?

[May 20, 2019] We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nemesiscalling , May 19, 2019 5:18:09 PM | 6

Sasha , May 19, 2019 5:26:49 PM | 7

On the alleged Arendt´s banality of evil, well, some more evil than others, if not because o of their clearly over the top ambitions:

Interesting comment linking some sources and articles on US military strategy from decades ago , some of which I am not able to get to anymore, as the article at ICH numbered 3011:

"First published From Parameters, Summer 1997, pp. 4-14: US Army War College: "There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing."

"Excerpts From Pentagon's Plan: 'Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival':

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.

This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.

There are three additional aspects to this objective: First, the U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.

Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role. An effective reconstitution capability is important here, since it implies that a potential rival could not hope to quickly or easily gain a predominant military position in the world."

... access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil"


[May 20, 2019] "Us" Versus "Them"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth. ..."
"... There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase. ..."
"... Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus. ..."
"... When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed. ..."
"... I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. ..."
"... If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. ..."
"... These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president. ..."
"... The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!"" – Bill Hicks

Anyone who frequents Twitter, Facebook, political blogs, economic blogs, or fake-news mainstream media channels knows our world is driven by the "Us versus Them" narrative. It's almost as if "they" are forcing us to choose sides and believe the other side is evil. Bill Hicks died in 1994, but his above quote is truer today then it was then. As the American Empire continues its long-term decline, the proles are manipulated through Bernaysian propaganda techniques, honed over the course of decades by the ruling oligarchs, to root for their assigned puppets.

Most people can't discern they are being manipulated and duped by the Deep State controllers. The most terrifying outcome for these Deep State controllers would be for the masses to realize it is us versus them. But they don't believe there is a chance in hell of this happening. Their arrogance is palatable.

Their hubris has reached astronomical levels as they blew up the world economy in 2008 and successfully managed to have the innocent victims bail them out to the tune of $700 billion, pillaged the wealth of the nation through their capture of the Federal Reserve (QE, ZIRP), rigged the financial markets in their favor through collusion, used the hundreds of billions in corporate tax cuts to buy back their stock and further pump the stock market, all while their corporate media mouthpieces mislead and misinform the proles.

There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase.

Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus.

When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed.

I've never been big on joining a group. I tend to believe Groucho Marx and his cynical line, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member". The "Us vs. Them" narrative doesn't connect with my view of the world. As a realistic libertarian I know libertarian ideals will never proliferate in a society of government dependency, willful ignorance of the masses, thousands of laws, and a weak-kneed populace afraid of freedom and liberty. The only true libertarian politician, Ron Paul, was only able to connect with about 5% of the voting public. There is no chance a candidate with a libertarian platform will ever win a national election. This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Bill Hicks somewhat foreshadowed the last election by referencing another famous cynic.

"I ascribe to Mark Twain's theory that the last person who should be President is the one who wants it the most. The one who should be picked is the one who should be dragged kicking and screaming into the White House." ― Bill Hicks

Hillary Clinton wanted to be president so badly, she colluded with Barack Obama, Jim Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch and numerous other Deep State sycophants to ensure her victory, by attempting to entrap Donald Trump in a concocted Russian collusion plot and subsequent post-election coup to cover for their traitorous plot. I wouldn't say Donald Trump was dragged kicking and screaming into the White House, but when he ascended on the escalator at Trump Tower in June of 2015, I'm not convinced he believed he could win the presidency.

As the greatest self-promoter of our time, I think he believed a presidential run would be good for his brand, more revenue for his properties and more interest in his reality TV ventures. He was despised by the establishment within the Republican and Democrat parties. The vested interests controlling the media and levers of power in society scorned and ridiculed this brash uncouth outsider. In an upset for the ages, Trump tapped into a vein of rage and disgruntlement in flyover country and pockets within swing states, to win the presidency over Crooked Hillary and her Deep State backers.

I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. I hadn't voted for a Republican since 2000, casting protest votes for Libertarian and Constitutional Party candidates along the way. I despise the establishment, so their hatred of Trump made me vote for him. His campaign stances against foreign wars and Federal Reserve reckless bubble blowing appealed to me. I don't worship at the altar of the cult of personality. I judge men by their actions and not their words.

Trump's first two years have been endlessly entertaining as he waged war against fake news CNN, establishment Republicans, the Deep State coup attempt, and Obama loving globalists. The Twitter in Chief has bypassed the fake news media and tweets relentlessly to his followers. He provokes outrage in his enemies and enthralls his worshipers. With millions in each camp it is difficult to find an unbiased assessment of narrative versus real accomplishments.

I'm happy he has been able to stop the relentless leftward progression of our Federal judiciary. Cutting regulations and rolling back environmental mandates has been a positive. Exiting the Paris Climate Agreement and TPP, forcing NATO members to pay their fair share, and renegotiating NAFTA were all needed. Ending the war on coal and approving pipelines will keep energy costs lower. His attempts to vet Muslims entering the country have been the right thing to do. Building a wall on our southern border is the right thing to do, but he should have gotten it done when he controlled both houses.

The use of tariffs to force China to renegotiate one sided trade deals as a negotiating tactic is a high-risk, high reward gamble. If his game of chicken is successful and he gets better terms from the Chicoms, while reversing the tariffs, it would be a huge win. If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. Who has the upper hand? Xi is essentially a dictator for life and doesn't have to worry about elections or popularity polls. Dissent is crushed. A global recession and stock market crash would make Trump's re-election in 2020 problematic.

I'm a big supporter of lower taxes. The Trump tax cuts were sold as beneficial to the middle class. That is a false narrative. The vast majority of the tax cut benefits went to mega-corporations and rich people. Middle class home owning families with children received little or no tax relief, as exemptions were eliminated and tax deductions capped. In many cases, taxes rose for working class Americans.

With corporate profits at all time highs, massive tax cuts put billions more into their coffers. They didn't repatriate their overseas profits to a great extent. They didn't go on a massive hiring spree. They didn't invest in new facilities. They did buy back their own stock to help drive the stock market to stratospheric heights. So corporate executives gave themselves billions in bonuses, which were taxed at a much lower rate. This is considered winning in present day America.

The "Us vs. Them" issue rears its ugly head whenever Trump is held accountable for promises unkept, blatant failures, and his own version of fake news. Holding Trump to the same standards as Obama is considered traitorous by those who only root for their home team. Their standard response is that you are a Hillary sycophant or a turncoat to the home team. If you agree with a particular viewpoint or position of a liberal then you are a bad person and accused of being a lefty by Trump fanboys. Facts don't matter to cheerleaders. Competing narratives rule the day. Truthfulness not required.

The refusal to distinguish between positive actions and negative actions when assessing the performance of what passes for our political leadership by the masses is why cynicism has become my standard response to everything I see, hear or he read. The incessant level of lies permeating our society and its acceptance as the norm has led to moral decay and rampant criminality from the White House, to the halls of Congress, to corporate boardrooms, to corporate newsrooms, to government run classrooms, to the Vatican, and to households across the land. It's interesting that one of our founding fathers reflected upon this detestable human trait over two hundred years ago.

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." – Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine's description of how moral mischief can ruin a society was written when less than 3 million people inhabited America. Consider his accurate assessment of humanity when over 300 million occupy these lands. The staggering number of corrupt prostituted sociopaths occupying positions of power within the government, corporations, media, military, churches, and academia has created a morally bankrupt empire of debt.

These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president.

The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them. The answer to that question will strongly impact the direction and intensity of the climactic years of this Fourth Turning. What I've noticed is the shunning of those who don't take an all or nothing position regarding Trump. If you disagree with a decision, policy, or hiring decision by the man, you are accused by the pro-Trump team of being one of them (aka liberals, lefties, Hillary lovers).

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers. I don't want to be Us or Them. I just want to be me. I will judge everyone by their actions and their results. I can agree with Trump on many issues, while also agreeing with Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul, Glenn Greenwald or Matt Taibbi on other issues. I don't prescribe to the cult of personality school of thought. I didn't believe the false narratives during the Bush or Obama years, and I won't worship at the altar of the Trump narrative now.

In Part II of this article I'll assess Trump's progress thus far and try to determine whether he can defeat the Deep State.


TerryThomas , 32 minutes ago link

"The scientific and industrial revolution of modern times represents the next giant step in the mastery over nature; and here, too, an enormous increase in man's power over nature is followed by an apocalyptic drive to subjugate man and reduce human nature to the status of nature. Even where enslavement is employed in a mighty effort to tame nature, one has the feeling that the effort is but a tactic to legitimize total subjugation. Thus, despite its spectacular achievements in science and technology, the twentieth century will probably be seen in retrospect as a century mainly preoccupied with the mastery and manipulation of men. Nationalism, socialism, communism, fascism, and militarism, cartelization and unionization, propaganda and advertising are all aspects of a general relentless drive to manipulate men and neutralize the unpredictability of human nature. Here, too, the atmosphere is heavy-laden with coercion and magic." --Eric Hoffer

666D Chess , 11 minutes ago link

Divide and conquer, not a very novel idea... but very effective.

Kafir Goyim , 32 minutes ago link

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers

That's not true. When Trump kisses Israeli ***, most "Trumpeteers" are outraged. That does not mean they're going to vote for Joe "I'm a Zionist" Biden, or Honest Hillary because of it, but they're still pissed.

Rich Monk , 33 minutes ago link

These predators (((them))) need to fear the Victims, us! That is what the 2ND Amendment is for. It's coming, slowly for now, but eventually it speeds up.

yellowsub , 42 minutes ago link

Ya'll a dumb fool if you think gov't as your best interests first.

legalize , 46 minutes ago link

Citation needed.

Any piece like this better be littered with footnotes and cited sources before I'm swallowing it.

I'll say it again: this is the internet, people. There's no "shortage of column space" to include links back to primary sources for your assertions. Otherwise, how am I supposed to distinguish you from another "psy op" or "paid opposition hit piece"?

bshirley1968 , 51 minutes ago link

"The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them."

If you still ponder this question, then you are pretty frickin' thick. It is obvious at this point, that he betrayed everything he campaigned on. You don't do that and call yourself one of "us".......damn sure aren't one of "me".

If I couldn't keep my word and wouldn't do what it takes to do what is right.....then I would resign. But I would not go on playing politics in a world that needs some real leadership and not another political hack.

The real battle is between Truth and Lie. No matter the name of your "team" or the "side" you support. Truth is truth and lies are lies. We don't stand for political parties, we stand for truth. We don't stand for national pride, we take pride in a nation that is truthful and trustworthy. The minute a "side" or "team" starts lying.....and justifying it.....that is the minute they become them and not one of us.

Any thinking person in this country today knows we are being lied to by the entire complex. Until someone starts telling the truth.....we are on our own. But I be damned before I am going to support any of these lying sons of bitches......and that includes Trump.

Fish Gone Bad , 37 minutes ago link

Dark comedy. All the elections have been **** choices until the last one. Take a look at Arkancide.com and start counting the bodies.

Anyone remember the news telling us how North Korea promised to turn the US into a sea of fire?? Trump absolutely went to bat for every single American to de-escalate that situation.

bshirley1968 , 31 minutes ago link

Don't tell me about Arkancide or the Clintons. I grew up in Arkansas with that sack of **** as my governor for 12 years.

NK was never a real threat to anyone. Trump didn't do ****. NK is back to building and shooting off missiles and will be teaming up with the Russians and Chinese. You are a duped bafoon.

Kafir Goyim , 28 minutes ago link

I don't think anybody thought NK was an existential threat to the US. It has still been nice making progress on bringing them back into the world and making them less of a threat to Japan and S. Korea. Trump did that.

Giant Meteor , 9 minutes ago link

Dennis Rodman did that, or that is to say, Trump an extension thereof ..

Great theater..

Look, i thought it was great that Trump went Kim Unning. I mean after all, i had talked with a few elderly folks that get their news directly from the mainstream of mainstream, vanilla news reportage. Propaganda central casting. I remember them being extremely concerned, outright petrified about that evil menace, kim gonna launch nukes any minute now. If the news would have been announced a major troop mobilization, bombing campaigns, to begin immediately they would have been completely onboard, waving the flag.

Frankly, it is only a matter of time, and folks can speculate on the country of interest, but it is coming soon to a theater near you. So many being in the crosshairs. Iran i suspect .. that's the big prize, that makes these sociopaths cream in their panties.

Probably. In the second term .. and so far, if ones honestly evaluates the "brain trust" / current crop of dimwit opposition, and in light of their past 2 plus years of moronic posturing with their hair on fire, trump will get his second term ..

666D Chess , 15 minutes ago link

Until the last one? You are retarded, the last election was a masterpiece of Rothschilds Productions. The Illuminati was watching you at their private cinema when you were voting for Trump and they were laughing their asses off.

HoodRatKing , 55 minutes ago link

The author does not realize that everyone in America, except Native American Indians, were immigrants drawn towards the false promise of hope that is the American Dream, turned nightmare..

Owning your own home, car, & raising a family in this country is so damn expensive & risky, that you'd have be on drugs or an idiot to even fall for the lies.

I don't see an us vs them, I see the #FakeMoney printers monetized every facet of life, own everything, & it truly is RENT-A-LIFE USSA, complete with bills galore, taxes galore, laws galore, jails & prisons galore, & the worst fkn country anyone would want to live in poverty & homelessness in.

At least in many 3rd world nations there is land to live off of & joblessness does not = a financial death sentence.

bshirley1968 , 39 minutes ago link

Sure. Lets all go back to living in huts.....off the land....no cars.....no electricity.....no running water......no roads....

There is a price to pay for things and it is not always in the form of money. We have given up some of our freedom for the ease and conveniences we want.

The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke.

There is a balance. Don't take the other extreme or we never find balance.

911bodysnatchers322 , 56 minutes ago link

This article is moronic. One can easily prove that Trump is not like all the others in the poster. Has this author been living under a rock for the last 2.5 yrs? The past 5 presidents represent a group that has been literally trying to assassinate Trump, ruin his family, his reputation, his buisness and his future, for the audacity to be an ousider to the power network and steal (win) the presidency from under their noses. He's kept us OUT of war. He's dissolved the treachery that was keeping us in the middle east through gaslighitng and a proxy fake war that is ISIS, the globalists' / nato / fiveys / uk's fake mercenary army

Giant Meteor , 25 minutes ago link

And yet, I'll never forget all the smiling faces at the gala wedding affair.

Happier times ..

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/politics/ex-ally-donald-trump-now-heaps-scorn-on-bill-clinton.html

And yes, thanks in advance for noting the link is from New York slime, but i believe the picture in this case anyway, was not photo shopped.

She is, (hillary) after all, good people, a real fighter ..

**** .. mission accomplished ..

ExPat2018 , 1 hour ago link

The greatest threat to the USA is its own dumbed down drugged up citizens who cannot compete with anyone. America is a big military powerhouse but that doens't make successful countries

You must have intelligent people

America doesn't have that anymore.

JuliaS , 1 hour ago link

Notice how modern narrative is getting manipulated. What is being reported and referenced is completely different from how things are. And knowing that we can assume that the entire history is a fabricated lie, written by the ruling class to support its status in the minds of obedient citizens.

911bodysnatchers322 , 54 minutes ago link

This article is garbage propaganda that proves that they think we aren't keeping score or paying attention. The gaslighting won't work when it relies on so much counterthink, willful ignorance, counterfacts and weaponized omissions

istt , 1 hour ago link

The reality is the de-escalation of wars, the stability of our currency and our economy, and the moral re-grounding of our culture does not occur until we do what over 100 countries have done over the centuries, beginning in Carthage in 250AD.

fersur , 1 hour ago link

There's an old saying; "Congress does 2 things well Nothing and Protest" said by Pence Live-Streamed 4 hours ago at USMCA America First speech !

Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good is President Trump works extreme daily hours trying his best !

The Bad is Haters miss every bit of whatever their President Trump does that is good !

The Ugly is Hater Reporters ignoring World events, scared of possibly shining President Trump fairly !

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

You really are making it a bit too obvious, bro.

911bodysnatchers322 , 52 minutes ago link

The congress are statusquotarians. If they solved the problems they say they would,they'd be out of a job. and that job is sitting there acting like a naddler or toxic post turtle leprechaun with a charisma and skill level of zero. Their staff do all the work, half of them barely read, though they probably can

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

I still think 1st and 2nd ammedment is predicated on which party rules the house. If a Dem gets into the WH, we're fucked. Kiss those Iast two dying amendments goodbye for good.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

If we rely on any party to preserve the 1st or 2nd Amendments, we are already fucked. What should preserve the 1st and 2nd Amendments is the absolute fear of anyone in government even mentioning suppressing or removing them. When the very thought of doing anything to lessen the rights advocated in these two amendments, causes a politician to piss in their pants, liberty will be preserved. As it is now citizens fear the government, and as a result tyranny continues to grow and fester as a cancer.

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

In other words, those amendments are already lost... we're just waiting for the final dictate to come down.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

You may very well be right. I still hold out hope, but upon seeing what our society is quickly morphing into, that hope seems to fade more each and every day.

SHsparx , 49 minutes ago link

@ Zeusky Babarusky

I couldn't agree with you more.

Unfortunately, it is what it is, which is why I used the word "dying."

Those two amendments are on their deathbed, and if a Dem gets in the house, that'll be the nail in the coffin.

bshirley1968 , 1 hour ago link

If you think the 1st and 2nd amendments are reliant on who is in office, then you are already done. Why don't you try growing a pair and being an American for once in your life.

I will always have a 1st and 2nd "amendment" for as long as I live. Life is meaningless without them.....as far as I am concerned. Good thing the founders didn't wait for king George to give them what they "felt" was theirs.....by the laws of Nature and Nature's God.

I hope the democrats get the power......and I hope they come for the guns......maybe then pussies like you will finally have to **** or get off the pot......for once in your life. There are worse things than dying.

Nephilim , 1 hour ago link

THEHAZELFLOCKOFCRANES

BRINDLED FOOT,

AUSTRALIAN.

caveofgoldcaveofold

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

"Why do we have wars?"

"Because life is war: fighting for survival, resources, and what is best in the world."

"Why do people say war is bad?"

"Because they are useful idiots who have been tricked by religion and/or weak degenerates who are too weary to participate."

delta0ne , 1 hour ago link

This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Unless we get rid of *** influencing from abroad and domestically. Getting rid of English King few hundred years ago was a joke! this would be a challenge because dual-citizens masquerading as locals.

blind_understanding , 1 hour ago link

Last revolution (1776) we targeted the WRONG ENEMY.

We targeted King George III instead of the private bankers who owned of the Bank of England and the issued of the British-pound currency.

George III was himself up to his ears in debt to them by 1776, when the bankers installed George Washington to replace George III as their middleman in the American colonies, by way of the phony revolution.

Phony because ownership of the central bank and currency (Federal-Reserve Banks, Federal-Reserve notes) we use, remains in the same banking families' hands to this day. The same parasite remains within our government.

djrichard , 1 hour ago link

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/05/16/the-gervais-principle-vi-children-of-an-absent-god/

It is this strangely incomplete calculus that creates the shifting Loser world of rifts and alliances. By operating with a more complete calculus, Sociopaths are able to manipulate this world through the divide-and-conquer mechanisms. The result is that the Losers end up blaming each other for their losses, seek collective emotional resolution, and fail to adequately address the balance sheet of material rewards and losses.

To succeed, this strategy requires that Losers not look too closely at the non-emotional books. This is why, as we saw last time, divide-and-conquer is the most effective means for dealing with them, since it naturally creates emotional drama that keeps them busy while they are being manipulated.

[May 19, 2019] Lawrence Wilkerson Warns The US Is Driving Down A Highway To War With China

Notable quotes:
"... More broadly, Wilkerson pegs the ramping up of confrontation with China as "all about keeping the [military-industrial] complex alive" that Wilkerson explains "the military was scared to death would disappear as we began to pay the American people back" a peace dividend at the end of the cold war. US government efforts against terrorism, explains Wilkerson, have also been used to ensure the money keeps flowing. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Former Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, warns in a new The Real News interview with host Sharmini Peries that the United States government is driving down a "highway to war" with China -- a war for which Wilkerson sees no sound justification.

The drive toward war is not undertaken in response to a real threat posed by China to the people of America. Instead, argues Wilkerson, the US government is moving toward war for reasons related to money for both the military and the broader military-industrial complex, as well to advance President Donald Trump's domestic political goals.

Wilkerson, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity's Academic Board, elaborates on the US military's money-seeking motivation to advance the new China scare, stating:

All of this right now, first and foremost, is a budget ploy. They want more money.

And that's largely because their personnel costs are just eating their lunch. And, second, it's an attempt to develop - and this has something to do with money too of course - another threat, another cold war, another feeding system .

The military just hooks up like it is hooking up to an intravenous, you know, an IV system and the money just pours out-slush fund money, appropriated money, everything else.

More broadly, Wilkerson pegs the ramping up of confrontation with China as "all about keeping the [military-industrial] complex alive" that Wilkerson explains "the military was scared to death would disappear as we began to pay the American people back" a peace dividend at the end of the cold war. US government efforts against terrorism, explains Wilkerson, have also been used to ensure the money keeps flowing.

Watch Wilkerson's complete interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/42LauiK_rbY

* * *

Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

[May 19, 2019] Why The Takedown Of Heinz-Christian Strache Will Strengthen The Right

Notable quotes:
"... In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts. ..."
"... Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones. ..."
"... The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy. ..."
"... Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now. ..."
"... The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions. ..."
"... The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust. What was done during the 2007-8 banking crisis was utterly corrupt and also unjust. Instead of going to jail the bankers were rewarded with extreme amounts of money for their assault on the well being of the people. The public was then told that it must starve through austerity to make up for the loss of money. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

During the last days a right wing politician in Austria was taken down by using an elaborate sting. Until Friday Heinz-Christian Strache was leader of the far right (but not fascist) Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) and the Vice Chancellor of the country. On Friday morning two German papers, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel published (German) reports (English) about an old video that was made to take Strache down.

The FPOe has good connections with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin, and to other right-wing parties in east Europe. It's pro-Russian position has led to verbal attacks on and defamation of the party from NATO supporting and neoliberal circles.

In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts.

Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones.


A scene from the video. Source: Der Falter (vid, German)

During the six hour long party several schemes get proposed by the "Russian" and are discussed. Strache rejects most of them. He insists several times that everything they plan or do must be legal and conform to the law. He says that a large donation could probably be funneled through an endowment that would then support his party. It is a gray area under Austrian party financing laws. They also discuss if the "Russian" could buy the Kronen Zeitung , Austria's powerful tabloid, and use it to prop up his party.

The evening goes on with several bottles of vodka on the table. Starche gets a bit drunk and boosts in front of the "oligarch daughter" about all his connections to rich and powerful people. He does not actually have these.

Strache says that, in exchange for help for his party, the "Russian" could get public contracts for highway building and repair. Currently most of such contracts in Austria go to the large Austrian company, STRABAG, that is owned by a neoliberal billionaire who opposes the FPOe. At that time Strache was not yet in the government and had no way to decide about such contracts.

At one point Strache seems to understand that the whole thing is a setup. But his right hand man calms him down and vouches for the "Russian". The sting ends with Strache and his companion leaving the place. The never again see the "Russian" and her co-plotter. Nothing they talked about will ever come to fruition.

Three month later Strache and his party win more than 20% in the Austrian election and form a coalition government with the conservative party OeVP led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Even while the FPOe controls several ministries, it does not achieve much politically. It lacks a real program and the government's policies are mostly run by the conservatives.

Nearly two years after the evening on Ibiza, ten days before the European parliament election in which Strache's party is predicted to achieve good results, a video of the evening on Ibiza is handed to two German papers which are known to be have strong transatlanticist leanings and have previously been used for other shady 'leaks'. The papers do not hesitate to take part in the plot and publish extensive reports about the video.

After the reports appeared Strache immediately stepped down and the conservatives ended the coalition with his party. Austria will now have new elections.

On Bloomberg Leonid Bershidsky opines on the case:

Strache's discussion with the Russian oligarch's fake niece shows a propensity for dirty dealing that has nothing to do with idealistic nationalism. Nationalist populists often agitate against entrenched, corrupt elites and pledge to drain various swamps. In the videos, however, Strache and Gudenus behave like true swamp creatures, savoring rumors of drug and sex scandals in Austrian politics and discussing how to create an authoritarian media machine like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's.

I do not believe that the people who voted for the FPOe (and similar parties in other countries) will subscribe to that view. The politics of the main stream parties in Austria have for decades been notoriously corrupt. Compared to them Strache and his party are astonishingly clean. In the video he insists several times that everything must stay within the legal realm. Whenever the "Russian" puts forward a likely illegal scheme, Starche emphatically rejects it.

Bershidsky continues:

Strache, as one of the few nationalist populists in government in the European Union's wealthier member states, was an important member of the movement Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been trying to cobble together ahead of the European Parliament election that will take place next week. On Saturday, he was supposed to attend a Salvini-led rally in Milan with other like-minded politicians from across Europe. Instead, he was in Vienna apologizing to his wife and to Kurz and protesting pitifully that he'd been the victim of a "political assassination" -- a poisonous rain on the Italian right-winger's parade.
...
This leaves the European far right in disarray and plays into the hands of centrist and leftist forces ahead of next week's election. Salvini's unifying effort has been thoroughly undermined, ...

This is also a misreading of the case. The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy.

Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now.

But that Strache stepped down after the sudden media assault only makes him more convincing. The right-wing all over Europe will see him as a martyr who was politically assassinated because he worked for their cause. The issue will increase the right-wingers hate against the 'liberal' establishment. It will further motivate them: "They attack us because we are right and winning." The new far-right block Natteo Salvini will setup in the European Parliament will likely receive a record share of votes.

Establishment writers notoriously misinterpret the new right wing parties and their followers. This stand-offish sentence in the Spiegel story about Strache's party demonstrates the problem:

In the last election, the party drew significant support from the working class, in part because of his ability to simplify even the most complicated of issues and play the common man, even in his role as vice chancellor.

The implicit thesis, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues", is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false. The working class understands very well what the establishment parties have done to it and continue to do. The increasing vote share of the far-right is a direct consequence of the behavior of the neoliberal center and of the lack of real left alternatives.

Last week, before the Strache video appeared, Craig Murray put his finger on the wound:

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

...

The rejection of the political class manifests itself in different ways and has been diverted down a number of entirely blind alleys giving unfulfilled promise of a fresh start – Brexit, Trump, Macron. As the vote share of the established political parties – and public engagement with established political institutions – falls everywhere, the chattering classes deride the political symptoms of status quo rejection by the people as "populism". It is not populism to make sophisticated arguments that undermine the received political wisdom and take on the entire weight of established media opinion.

If one wants to take down the far right one has to do so with arguments and good politics for the working class. Most people, especially working class people, have a strong sense for justice. The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust. What was done during the 2007-8 banking crisis was utterly corrupt and also unjust. Instead of going to jail the bankers were rewarded with extreme amounts of money for their assault on the well being of the people. The public was then told that it must starve through austerity to make up for the loss of money.

While I consider myself to be a strong leftist who opposes the right wherever possible, I believe to understand why people vote for Strache's FBOe and similar parties. When one talks to these people issues of injustice and inequality always come up. The new 'populist' parties at least claim to fight against the injustice done to the common men. Unlike most of the establishment parties they seem to be still mostly clean and not yet corrupted.

In the early 1990s Strache actually flirted with violent fascists but he rejected their way. While he has far-right opinions, he and his like are no danger to our societies. If we can not accept that Strache and his followers have some legitimate causes, we will soon find us confronted with way more extreme people. The neoliberal establishment seems to do its best to achieve that.

Posted by b on May 19, 2019 at 01:10 PM | Permalink

[May 19, 2019] The US objective is to sustain US tech prominence by stifling Chinese plans to advance its economy.

May 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 3:24:47 PM | link

The US objective is to sustain US tech prominence by stifling Chinese plans to advance its economy. Of course China will never agree to that.
from CFR..

The Chinese government has launched "Made in China 2025," a state-led industrial policy that seeks to make China dominant in global high-tech manufacturing. The program aims to use government subsidies, mobilize state-owned enterprises, and pursue intellectual property acquisition to catch up with -- and then surpass -- Western technological prowess in advanced industries.
For the United States and other major industrialized democracies, however, these tactics not only undermine Beijing's stated adherence to international trade rules but also pose a security risk. . . here

[May 18, 2019] Are there any articles on how dependent Apple and Boeing are on Chinese components?

Boeing and Hollywood are two week stops that China can hit with impunity.
Notable quotes:
"... China has outspent the US on R&D since 2009 and now invests three times as much each year. ..."
"... The issue with these chips highlights just how ridiculous the American position is. The chips referred to are Intel processors they use in servers and qualcomm (arm core) processors in cell phones. Funny thing is, these processors are not even made in the US, and their replacement isn't that much of an issue, not for a company with the resources Huawei possesses. ..."
"... For government and other high security uses China has options like the MIPs based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like AMD markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do. ..."
"... The United States attacked China's largest telecom equipment maker Huawei. If China decides to retaliate, it could target chip giants like Qualcomm and Broadcom, which rely heavily on it for revenue, or tech giant Apple, which depends on them for iPhone manufacturing. ..."
"... Huawei's competitors Nokia and Ericsson would stand to win from the above ban as the United States and its allies would resort to them for 5G deployment. Nokia's and Ericsson's stocks rose more than 4% and 2% in early trading on May 16. . . here ..."
"... Chip fab is the only remaining significant technological lead that America retains anymore, but the raw engineering brainpower behind that industry in the US is mostly imported from China anyway. The Chinese have no shortage of brilliant engineers, they just have not really had the need to do without Intel and AMD before. Now they do. ..."
"... Within a year or so China will be producing chips as good as America's. Another year after that and America will be eclipsed in that industry. No longer will people be looking for "Intel Inside!" stickers on products but rather "Huawei Inside!" . ..."
"... What doesn't seem to be clear, or else ignored/excused here -- China is today just as globalist as the US and in fact the multinational corporations in control of both countries are inextricably linked, especially in the high tech sector currently under the intense MoA thread microscope. ..."
"... By our standards exploitation of workers in China is a grim picture , which compares with the grim blue collar conditions in the US, the equal and opposite result of the globalist equation wrt offshoring factory jobs endemic to capitalist production. ..."
"... MoA China "experts" should study the reality of globalization after removing the rose colored glasses if you wish to be considered analysts instead of merely wishful thinkers/cheerleaders of groupthink delusion. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , May 18, 2019 8:47:15 AM | link

@William Gruff #75: China is already producing world-class ARM chips. HiSilicon 's latest Kirin processors are on par with Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Samsung's Exynos processors. Apple's A-series is ahead of them all, but what does it matter if Apple's rising prices and falling quality are going to kill Apple anyway?

Schmoe , May 17, 2019 6:45:23 PM | link

Per Reuters, Huawei spends $11b on US components, and its ability to withstand this hit will vary by segment: "Huawei being unable to manufacture network servers, for example, because they can't get key U.S. components would mean they also stop buying parts from other countries altogether," said an executive at a Huawei chip supplier.

"They can relatively better manage component sourcing for mobile phones because they have their own component businesses for smartphones. But server and network, it's a different story," the executive said.

Are there any articles on how dependent Apple and Boeing are on Chinese components? This strategy seems incredibly short-sighted.

Godfree Roberts , May 17, 2019 7:30:34 PM | link
China has outspent the US on R&D since 2009 and now invests three times as much each year. That's why it's ahead technologically and scientifically.

By 2028, if current ratios hold, China will also outspend the US on defense. Won't that be interesting?

oglalla , May 17, 2019 7:34:09 PM | link
Remember the "Asian pivot"? Did Huawei and other critical tech companies start making independent chips back then? Or before? When were the tariffs planned? Speculation, anyone?
Indrid Cold , May 17, 2019 8:15:00 PM | link
The issue with these chips highlights just how ridiculous the American position is. The chips referred to are Intel processors they use in servers and qualcomm (arm core) processors in cell phones. Funny thing is, these processors are not even made in the US, and their replacement isn't that much of an issue, not for a company with the resources Huawei possesses.

Huawei already has its own arm based soc's it uses in it's high end phones and they can replace processors in it's low end phones with lesser versions of these.

The Intel processors will be tougher to do for the commercial market because of software compatibility issues.

For government and other high security uses China has options like the MIPs based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like AMD markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 10:59:03 PM | link
from Market Realist. . .

The United States attacked China's largest telecom equipment maker Huawei. If China decides to retaliate, it could target chip giants like Qualcomm and Broadcom, which rely heavily on it for revenue, or tech giant Apple, which depends on them for iPhone manufacturing.

Huawei uses Qualcomm's modems in its high-end smartphones and has been in settlement talks with the chip supplier over a licensing dispute. Tensions between the United States and Huawei could delay this licensing settlement, sending Qualcomm's stock down 4.4% on May 16.

Huawei's competitors Nokia and Ericsson would stand to win from the above ban as the United States and its allies would resort to them for 5G deployment. Nokia's and Ericsson's stocks rose more than 4% and 2% in early trading on May 16. . . here

William Gruff , May 18, 2019 8:11:03 AM | link
"Soon U.S. chip companies will have lost all their sales to the second largest smartphone producer of the world. That loss will not be just temporarily, it will become permanent." --b

This is a crucial and important development. So long as China is just developing their domestic chip designs as an academic exercise they will forever trail behind the market leaders by at least one technological iteration. Why try so hard with chip designs that will only ever just be used in college degree theses papers and proof of concept models? Real innovation comes from scratching an itch; from fulfilling an actual need. Chip fab is the only remaining significant technological lead that America retains anymore, but the raw engineering brainpower behind that industry in the US is mostly imported from China anyway. The Chinese have no shortage of brilliant engineers, they just have not really had the need to do without Intel and AMD before. Now they do.

In the short term the transition will be painful for China. The first few iterations of their replacement chip designs will be buggy and not have the features of chips they could have bought for cheaper from the US. They will also have problems ramping up capacity to meet their needs. Typical growing pains, in other words. In the long term, though, this will be seen as the point at which the end started for America's chip tech dominance. Within a year or so China will be producing chips as good as America's. Another year after that and America will be eclipsed in that industry. No longer will people be looking for "Intel Inside!" stickers on products but rather "Huawei Inside!" .

donkeytale , May 18, 2019 9:57:42 AM | link
Isnt it clear the US is globalist? Uhhm, well, yes, it's only been clear for the prior 75 years at least. In fact Lenin laid it all out during WWI so one could say it's been clear for 100 years.

What doesn't seem to be clear, or else ignored/excused here -- China is today just as globalist as the US and in fact the multinational corporations in control of both countries are inextricably linked, especially in the high tech sector currently under the intense MoA thread microscope.

Why aren't Huawei making making more smartphone chips in production? Because so many Chinese component manufacturers are still heavily invested in churning out product for Apple. These companies employ millions in "relatively high paying" factory jobs and account for a large slice of Chinese export income and stock market capitalization. These corporate oligarchs supported by the Chinese government retain a vested interest in the status quo.

This is not to minimize Huawei or Chinese growing ability to compete at the design and innovation level as well as production, it is simply rightsizing the perspective to fit the reality. Huawei production is growing worldwide but this doesn't mean Apple or Samsung will evaporate or fall by the wayside and the Chinese need Apple and its markets too . In fact, Huawei is now willing for the first time to sell microchips to third party cell phone producers including Apple. Successful capitalist growth for China depends on increasing production into new products, technologies and markets not replacing current platforms with new. The product cycle will take care of itself in time anyway.

By our standards exploitation of workers in China is a grim picture , which compares with the grim blue collar conditions in the US, the equal and opposite result of the globalist equation wrt offshoring factory jobs endemic to capitalist production.

China is still in the industrial growth phase of its capitalist development, although beginning to transition to the higher phase for sure. Of course.

MoA China "experts" should study the reality of globalization after removing the rose colored glasses if you wish to be considered analysts instead of merely wishful thinkers/cheerleaders of groupthink delusion.

[May 18, 2019] Trump might get into deeper problem with China that he anticipated: if China assume that US is not desirable partner then can replicate many of key US technological areas and deprive US companies of revenue.

Trump calculation is probably that neoliberalism in China already corrupted Communist Party enough for US being able to destabilize the country buy depriving it of export revenue. And it is true that influence neoliberal Fifth column in china exists and can compete with Communist Party for power. If Trump timing is correct China will be crushed. If this in incorrect the USA might be crushed. This is a very high stake game as Trump burn bridges way too easily (being reckless and arrogant all his life). Bulling as a negotiating tactics might be OK for New York real estate market is not that good in negotiating with countries such as China.
Both countries are neoliberal countries but Chinese have more flexibility as remnants of Communist Party control remain in place. But the same remnants are also a bog danger, as China might find itself in the position of the USSR when the US crushed oil price and deprived it of much of its export revenue. In this case Communist Party will be blamed for social disruptions and might lose power due tot he power of Chine Fifth column of nouveau riche like happened in the USSR (opposition was supported by huge cash injections from the USA). I hope they study the USSR experience very carefully and will not repeat Gorbachov mistakes (although it is difficult, as it is very difficult to find a more stupid politician then Gorbachov, unless we assume that he was a traitor). Also the level of nationalism in China is much higher and that might help. In any case this uncharted territory for both China and the USA.
The Trump administration seems to have the illusion that if you raise the stakes high enough, other countries will cave to US demands. There might also be an element of creating foreign adversary in order to unite the domestic front. If Chinese will hold their position tight despite the pain, Trump might lose the election in 2020 as he will be unable to protect the economy for more then a year and the first signs of reception nullify his changes, as he will be blames for it.
Notable quotes:
"... This article titled 'Face' by Walrus over at SST is well worth a read alongside b's piece. https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/05/face-by-walrus.html ..."
"... Both these articles give a very clear picture of what the drunken louts 'Team Trump' are up against in their so called trade war. Very much like a drunken spectator climbing into the ring thinking he can take on a professional boxer. ..."
"... The US attack on China did not start with Trump. This is what Obama's military "Pivot to Asia" was about, as was the TPP, which explicitly was designed to develop an economic alliance that left China out. Capitalist trade wars are also not new, as are hot wars. They are part of capitalism. ..."
"... "Intellectual property" is a laughable assertion, an audacious attempt by the US to corner all human advances and claim them as the property of US capitalists, to be only used for their profits. As if! ..."
"... What an appalling ruling elite in the USA. Blamers and punishers. Never take any responsibility for their murderous acts ..."
"... The U.S. talks about pressuring China until they give in. China talks about a solution that respects the dignity of each party. ..."
"... I had the sudden realisation that US politics is essentially monarchist in its nature, for all the complicated legal and constitutional structures that have been built around it over the past 240+ years. US politics and culture are fixated on one individual with extreme powers; the superhero obsession in Hollywood is one symptom of that. ..."
"... In a way the US now resembles the Ottoman empire during that empire's Sultanate of Women period (late 1500s to mid-1700s) when sultans' power was dominated by their mothers, viziers and sometimes the janissaries who became a hereditary class during that period. ..."
"... Idolatry is universal. People always gravitate towards Alpha personalities. ..."
"... In looking into US culture and why it gives rise the type of leadership it has, I think it may be the belief in exceptionalism. Exceptionalism may also carry with it the belief that all other peoples want to be like them and all they (Americans) have to do is free those peoples from the nasty dictators ruling over them. ..."
"... Patrick Armstrong in one of his articles has said that in his dealings with US officials as Canadian ambassador or diplomat, is that American officials genuinely believed that all they had to do was overthrow the evil dictator and the people would welcome Americans or willingly join the US system. ..."
"... But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square. ..."
"... We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink. ..."
"... The British court said, no patent, no copyright and no monopoly can last longer than 7 years. that was 1787-89, and it explains the for a short time clause in the USA constitution. ..."
"... I don't think the US sees the world's nations as commanded by their senior politician. Far from it, but to keep the US public locked in a child's mentality, the govt and its MSM present every political event/action/reaction as between personalities. Can't have reason and logic breaking out among the minions can we? ..."
"... China's "competitive advantages" are too big for a confederation of micro-countries in the Pacific to overcome. ..."
"... b said;" the U.S. economic system is based on greed and not on the welfare of its citizens." Bingo! Jrabbit @ 52 said;"US foreign policy has been remarkably consistent for over 20 years." Maybe the last 100 yrs.? Demonize countries people and rulers, and take their stuff, but why not? We are, don't ya' know, the exceptional nation, doing gods work. Manifest Destiny, isn't it great? ..."
"... Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State. ..."
"... the neocons in the US believes it is now or never to defend the USA unique position as world power. They believe, that if they don't fight now, they will have lost. I say, they already have. ..."
"... Trust the UnitedSnake to blame the Chinese for reneging on an agreement ! Fact is, Trump's team Add in last minute conditions that are totally unacceptable to China. Chinese commentators are fuming at the audacity of the demands. 'WTF, Do they think we'r their gawd damned 51st state ?' ..."
"... Typical UnitedSnake's 'negotiation' tactics, designed to fail ! Thats how Clinton justity his bombing of ex Yugo, by blaming Belgrade for the breakdown of negotiation ,to justify its 78 days of aerial arsons against Yugo. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

jared , May 17, 2019 4:55:50 PM | link

This article titled 'Face' by Walrus over at SST is well worth a read alongside b's piece. https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/05/face-by-walrus.html

Also this Sputnik Article https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201905161075055767-china-us-trade-war/

Both these articles give a very clear picture of what the drunken louts 'Team Trump' are up against in their so called trade war. Very much like a drunken spectator climbing into the ring thinking he can take on a professional boxer.

@ Peter AU 1 | May 17, 2019 4:33:54 PM | 1 5 Trump

Trump wants improved trade conditions for improved economic climate in the U.S. But there are others in the admin who want something else.

But still: "backup chips it has independently developed" That's a good one Mr Moon.

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 5:05:18 PM | link

The US attack on China did not start with Trump. This is what Obama's military "Pivot to Asia" was about, as was the TPP, which explicitly was designed to develop an economic alliance that left China out. Capitalist trade wars are also not new, as are hot wars. They are part of capitalism.

"Intellectual property" is a laughable assertion, an audacious attempt by the US to corner all human advances and claim them as the property of US capitalists, to be only used for their profits. As if!

https://wagelaborer.blogspot.com/2019/01/intellectual-property-and-war-on-china.html

uncle tungsten , May 17, 2019 5:12:28 PM | link
What an appalling ruling elite in the USA. Blamers and punishers. Never take any responsibility for their murderous acts. Rise up people, these are dangerous, stupid leaders and elites.
dh-mtl , May 17, 2019 5:13:10 PM | link
B says: Whatever face is at the top is only representing the layers below.

Yes, this is the case when complex governmental systems are functioning properly. In this case power is distributed throughout the system, based on the role each individual within the system. People must have a collaborative culture for complex systems to function properly.

People of an authoritarian nature hate complex systems and distributed power, as such systems limit the freedom of action of the authoritarian leader. The corollary to this is that systems must be kept simple to accommodate authoritarian leaders. And simple systems are much less powerful and effective than complex systems.

My observation is that, in the U.S., authoritarianism is the dominant culture, as opposed to a collaborative culture of the Chinese that is implied by B's comment.

Indeed we see many signs in these negotiations that the U.S. is operating based on a culture of authoritarianism, whereas China is operating based on a culture of collaboration. Among the signs:

  1. The tendency that B. noted of Americans to assign all power to the leader. (This is not the first time, and in fact it is a common mistake of the U.S. and one of the reasons that their regime change efforts almost never achieve a result that is favorable for the U.S.)
  2. The U.S. talks about winning and losing. China talks equity.
  3. The U.S. talks about pressuring China until they give in. China talks about a solution that respects the dignity of each party.

The principle behind negotiations for people of a collaborative culture is 'Win-Win or No-Deal'. For Authoritarians, Win-Win is a compromise, and compromise is the equivalent of a loss. My conclusion is that there is only a very low probability that the U.S. and China will successfully negotiate a trade deal. The cultures of the authoritarian Americans and the collaborative Chinese are too divergent. China will only accept Win-Win and the U.S. cannot accept Win-Win.

Winston2 , May 17, 2019 5:18:30 PM | link
Classic US empire strategy. Build up a supplier and when they start to be serious a competitor take them down. Asian Tiger crisis,forcing occupied Japan into the Plaza Accord etc. They left it too long with China, way too long. China has not recycled its trade dollars surplus into USTs since 2014. No replacement suppliers like Vietnam or Indonesia etc will do either, no more vendor finance for the US.

It will have to live within its means, no wonder the neocohens are going insane. We are watching the death of the $ as GRC first hand.

uncle tungsten , May 17, 2019 5:19:11 PM | link
@jared | May 17, 2019 4:55:50 PM | 18

NO jared, Trump is in charge, fully responsible and yet totally irresponsible. He hires and fires, he barks the orders, Trump is not captive. You may desperately wish to believe that but NO, Trump wants it like this and NO dissent.

This is Henry Kissinger's plan implemented by Trump. A war criminal implementing a sociopath war criminal's plan. Trump is a killer and an oligarchs stooge and he like the rewards.

See the fabulous Aaron Mate discussion previously linked in the last thread.

james , May 17, 2019 5:32:57 PM | link
thanks b... ditto peter au recommendation @16 on the article from walrus on face..
Jen , May 17, 2019 5:47:54 PM | link
I'd be curious to know what other MoA barflies think of the US tendency to personalize other countries' governments and political systems and reduce them all to monarchies of one sort or another, and what this says about the American psychology generally. So much of the US slather and accusations against Russia and China and what those nations are supposedly doing look like psychological projection of the US' own sins and malevolent behaviour.

I was in hospital nearly 20 years ago for a major operation and some of my recuperation there was spent watching a few old "Star Trek: Next Generation" episodes. Watching those shows, I was struck by how much "power" the Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard appeared to wield. Every one of his subordinates deferred to his decisions and very few challenged him.

I know this is an old TV show with scripts that emphasise individual action over collective action and delineating a whole culture on board the Starship fleet (this is a long time before "Game of Thrones") but I had the sudden realisation that US politics is essentially monarchist in its nature, for all the complicated legal and constitutional structures that have been built around it over the past 240+ years. US politics and culture are fixated on one individual with extreme powers; the superhero obsession in Hollywood is one symptom of that.

In a way the US now resembles the Ottoman empire during that empire's Sultanate of Women period (late 1500s to mid-1700s) when sultans' power was dominated by their mothers, viziers and sometimes the janissaries who became a hereditary class during that period.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 5:55:00 PM | link
@ dh-mtl 21
You provided an excellent analysis of two very different kinds of people, westerners and Asians (Chinese). Americans who believe that Chinese are pretty much like them, and respond to people, to pressures and and to situations in the same way, are badly mistaken.

I would add another: Westerners want instant results and quick profits whereas Chinese take the long view. Heck, they've been around for five thousand years so why not.

Lochearn , May 17, 2019 5:56:05 PM | link
I'm glad you raise the issue of increased prices for US consumers, b. I have been looking in vain for a mention of this even in alternative media. Nobody appears to be talking about it.

If I can go off track for a moment the events surrounding Boeing are highly significant and a parallel to what is happening generally in the US. Here is a something I wrote for naked capitalism but did not send - Yves is too fierce and I don't trust her. A bit like a feminine Colonel what's his name Laing...

Because of the prestige of Boeing Wall Street left its dimantling until quite late - 1997. GE and Ford had already produced their versions of the 737 Max in the 1960s with the Corvair and the Pinto respectively as finance people started to take over the running of US companies. There is something very sad in watching a once magnificent company reduced by bankers to a shadow of its former self.

dh , May 17, 2019 5:59:06 PM | link
There has been a trade imbalance for quite a while but it didn't seem to matter much. The Chinese raised their standard of living, Americans got cheap stuff, surplus dollars went into treasuries to fund the deficit. It all worked pretty well until Trump and MAGA. Somehow he thinks he'll bring the jobs back but no Americans are going to make sneakers and circuit boards for $2 an hour.
Ian , May 17, 2019 6:21:30 PM | link
@Jen | May 17, 2019 5:47:54 PM | 25:

Idolatry is universal. People always gravitate towards Alpha personalities.

dh | May 17, 2019 5:59:06 PM | 28:

Trump knows those manufacturing jobs aren't coming back and automation is the future. He's just parroting what his base wants to hear for votes.

Peter AU 1 , May 17, 2019 6:23:01 PM | link
Jen 25

I have just replied to Karlof1 in I think the previous thread and I link into this. In looking into US culture and why it gives rise the type of leadership it has, I think it may be the belief in exceptionalism. Exceptionalism may also carry with it the belief that all other peoples want to be like them and all they (Americans) have to do is free those peoples from the nasty dictators ruling over them.

Patrick Armstrong in one of his articles has said that in his dealings with US officials as Canadian ambassador or diplomat, is that American officials genuinely believed that all they had to do was overthrow the evil dictator and the people would welcome Americans or willingly join the US system.

OutOfThinAir , May 17, 2019 6:29:02 PM | link
All the economic momentum is in Eurasia, centering on China, India, and Russia. China is spearheading this drive and re-assuming its historical status as the richest land in the world. Instead of resisting, Washington should be working with projects like the BRI that help enrich everyone. (Indeed, why doesn't Washington announce a BRI for North/South America, perhaps a Yellow Brick Road? But that's an aside...)

And concerns about Chinese spying through their companies should be equaled with internal reflection about the practice in the United States. Perhaps it would be wise for both countries to develop and practice international standards that respect human rights in an Everything's Connected world.

Given how the US and China frequently treat "different" people with disdain, that's a lot to ask. But no country or people is spotless regarding abusing human rights and some wisdom with power would be welcome from both governments.

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 6:33:45 PM | link
Jen @25. Americans are good at Doublethink.

You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut.

They tell us that the leader of the targeted country is a Bad Guy and we must kill the people in order to save them. And Americans nod and comply. Except for the 5% that prefers peace, and they argue that the leader is not a Bad Guy, so we shouldn't kill the people to save them.
No American ever thinks to argue international law or basic morality, we just argue about the plot lines.

But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square.

We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink.

snake , May 17, 2019 6:37:51 PM | link
China has succeeded because it does not honor copyright and patent monopolies. Western civilization is failing because it imposes the feudal monopoly by rule of law system.. The state will make sure a few fat cats are lords and the masses are their slaves.
---

The investment and salary classes have been screwing me since I was born. Now its time for all of us to feel the pain. And create a world that can benefit all of us. https://dedona.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/donald-trump-and-the-politics-of-resentment-john-michael-greer/ so @ 8 <== I agree..

---

It is almost asking the change of China's political system." <= no its not, the struggle today is freedom, human rights and the right to self determination not socialism vs capitalism.. it the struggle today is capitalism vs monopolism.. because monopolism aims to make every single human being alive its slave to a very few monopoly powered corporate giants.. China is a clear example of what can be if the masses are allowed to compete without the shackles of copyrights, patents and other thin air monopolies.

Some aspects of China's trade behavior can and should be criticized.

Why? Because of that "intellectual property" stuff? Japan basically built itself from the ground up in the post-war through allowed and unallowed intellectual property theft. Canon and Nikon, for example, essentially fac-similed Leica during that period; after the transition to digital, they erased their theft past, but it doesn't change the objective truth both wouldn't exist without stealing technology from a defeated country (Germany). It did the same with missile reentrance technology it stole from the USSR after the Cold War.

< Technology is a product of the human mind.. copyright and patents are thefts of the products of the human mind.. and human mind assets do not belong to anyone, to any country.. Instead, copyright and patents (intellectual property) are and should be in the public domain (but the scum that write the laws have created from thin air; rights which do not exist, and given the rights they fabricated to their feudal lords and the corporations owned by such lords. So the lawmaking scum have made it possible for a few (feudal lords) to establish and maintain a monopoly in the good life, over the masses in the world. .. Just as in the in England, France and Switzerland, where only the rich, corrupt politicians, and criminal few hung out and traded copyright and patent monopolies in the coffee houses, (much like stocks and bonds are traded today, monopoly trading was a game between fat cats (today's the fat cats are wall street barons), ..monopolies allow rich and wealth to support their royal life styles at the price of enslaving the masses to poverty. Luckily a court in England, threaten by an angry crowd of the masses, denied the wealthy their perpetual lifetime patents and copyright demands, no longer could the fat cats squeeze ownership of an intellectual creation from its creator, convert it to intangible property, and use the intellectual property to monopolize the world.

The British court said, no patent, no copyright and no monopoly can last longer than 7 years. that was 1787-89, and it explains the for a short time clause in the USA constitution.

frances , May 17, 2019 6:42:04 PM | link
I don't think the US sees the world's nations as commanded by their senior politician. Far from it, but to keep the US public locked in a child's mentality, the govt and its MSM present every political event/action/reaction as between personalities. Can't have reason and logic breaking out among the minions can we?

As for Trump being in charge, I rather doubt it, no US president has been "in charge" of any thing except possibly what is for lunch since Washington. Too many policies Trump began, such as negotiations with NK, have been trashed by his "teams" who I believe are actually his minders put in place by the Deep State.

Is Trump a great guy? A NY developer by their very nature is not a great guy. But I do think he wants to be seen as a great president. To do that he has to pull off some deals that will be remembered which is why he wanted the deal with NK, that Pompeo blew up.

I also think that the govt is preparing for the time when the dollar is no longer the reserve currency. And to do that you need to pull manufacturing back from abroad (from China), seize critical assets (from Venezuela),break any and all treaties that require you to spend money you won't have (making NATO (pay as you go).

All things the govt is doing, admittedly with the most horrific management team since Taft's. But they are moving on all fronts to circle the wagons of US commerce.

They know what is coming, some of them may see war as the way to bilk a few more trillions out of the treasury, but I don't think the military will let them. For they know that if they go up against a nation that Russia and China support and botch it, that R&C will go for the throat and that, more so than the currency crash would be the end of the US.

These moves we see are very serious because the end game is for the continued existence (or death)of the US. And many of these tactical moves are very high risk because they hasten the end of the dollar. I give the dollar five years more, tops. Then it will be just one in a basket of currencies until the yuan makes its way to the top.

And where that strange UN Agenda 21 fits in this I don't know, its plan for the US is for drastically reduced population (70% loss, from what?)the remaining population in mega cities and truly vast areas of no go set aside for the "environment." It reads like a National Parks program on crack with a side of Hunger Games.

The next five years are going to be really critical and I personally think the US will only make it by the skin of its teeth.

Peter AU 1 , May 17, 2019 6:54:13 PM | link
@ Jen. Another thought. The era in which the current state of America was conceived. British colonies in a war of separation or independence against the British. Europe and Britain at that time mostly ruled by hereditary monarchs nobles and lords ect.

Americans which I take it at that time would have been mostly British ancestry had done away with hereditary monarchs and so forth. It would have been somewhat exceptional at the time. In the targeting of the leader of a nation as the source of all evil, I wonder if that relates back to doing away with hereditary leadership especially monarch.

the grand chessboard. checkmate the king.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 6:55:25 PM | link
President Trump has declared a national emergency due a threat to the US from "the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in information and communications technology or services, with potentially catastrophic effects, and thereby constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," so various actions and prohibitions have been stipulated here .
Lord H , May 17, 2019 7:07:00 PM | link
I particularly like this line: "where the propaganda weakens and journalism sneaks in"
jared , May 17, 2019 7:37:06 PM | link
UncleT

I dont mean to make excuses for Trump.
It all happens on his watch.

We will have other/better option soon - hopefully not too late.

Michael Droy , May 17, 2019 8:09:49 PM | link
I think war reporting rules are in place with China, and Trade war has started. Every month that passes without a crisis is a success for China right now as it over takes US in GDP, tech, and trade links.

Key issues are bringing Europe in - the Huawei ban extended to Europe is battlefield #1, Northstream (gas link to Russia) is #2.

First get Europe on board, the US can up things a lot further. If Trump gets this right, he can delay outright defeat by China under well beyond his 8 years are up. (Bush or Obama early on could have won, or could have found a peaceful solution).

lysias , May 17, 2019 8:15:14 PM | link
A president doesn't have to obey the orders of the powers that be just because they threaten to kill him otherwise. A brave president would defy them to do their worst. If they went ahead and killed him, he would still have accomplished something important. By exposing the nature of the system, he would have robbed it of its legitimacy and brought a revolution much closer.
Jackrabbit , May 17, 2019 8:32:10 PM | link
You've all been trained very well to ignore the class warfare. China's "peaceful rise" was convenient when it enriched the Western elite.

But when China makes a play for equal footing, the must be smacked down. In each case (rise, smack-down) ordinary people (like yourselves) get f*cked. Kissinger's NWO? It's for the children.... No, not YOUR children. Welcome to the rabbithole.

bevin , May 17, 2019 8:32:54 PM | link
vk@13

Best example of a country stealing foreign inventions and protecting its 'uneconomical' industries with tariffs is the USA. It was notorious that in the C19th American publishers pirated authors and musicians from Europe, particularly of course from Britain where the intellectual properties of Dickens and his contemporaries laid the basis for many an American publishing fortune.

Among the primary victims were American authors who couldn't compete against stolen imports.

dltravers , May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | link
I am not so sure the conclusions of the article are correct. Tariffs on Chinese factories will force production to other countries in the area like Vietnam where costs are not going to be much higher than China.

Granted, the US may be pissed off that Huawei is placing back doors in their systems but I suspect that they are only copying what the US has done for years with US companies like Microsoft.

My daughter managed 5 factories located in China of a clothing manufacture based in the US some years ago. She said there was constant chaos as the workers were continually on strike. Bad air, dangerous machines, poor wages. few bathrooms, bad water, childcare is chaining you child to a fence for the day, and the like. Her boss flew to China and asked for the cheapest costs possible. They showed him a factory full of little children cranking out production. He left crying his eyes out. He was a cold hearted bastard but even that was too much for him to see.

I viewed first hand the destruction trade agreements like NAFTA caused to good union wages and benefits in the US. Hell, that is what got Trump elected. It is tough to watch your children go into the same profession and make 50% less in wages and fringes 30 years later.

Intellectual property and patents? No so sure about that, the views here are new to me. I always supported them but I guess I need to dig deeper on that one.

In the net I think China is the loser, fewer jobs, higher food costs, their markets are down 30%, ours are peaking and are seen as a safe haven for money. Export numbers for China are dropping as is the trade balance.

At this point it is not a trade war but a re balancing of markets IMHO. If it was a real trade war things would be far worse. Middle supplier countries will be hurt, US farmers, some markets win some lose. If it was business as usual then it would be business as usual. Trump is stirring the pot and what the endgame is is anyone's guess. Did anyone really believe China would just bend over and accept any demands from the US?

All that being said China can easily wait it out and hope Trump loses and the policy is reversed which I am sure his policies will be reversed if anyone else gets elected.

Zachary Smith , May 17, 2019 9:19:41 PM | link
@ jared 4:47:32 PM #17

Your link about Boeing is a good one. Today at Naked Capitalism was a story about a possible 'payback' link between Huawei and Boeing. China has the option of causing a great deal of pain to both the US and Boeing in retaliation.

They could declare the recertified 737-MAX to be unsafe, so much so they're cancelling all orders and forbidding any landings in or overflights of China. If Canada hadn't screwed up so badly, the local Bombardier airplane might have been substituted for the 737. But Canada did goof in a major way.

Cyril , May 17, 2019 9:24:52 PM | link
@ponderer | May 17, 2019 4:27:02 PM | 15

There is no way that the US could subsidize the growth of a larger population base forever.

China sends vast amounts of manufactured goods to the United States; the US pays for all this with dollars it can effortlessly print. So who is subsidizing whom?

Cyril , May 17, 2019 9:26:38 PM | link
A minor thing compared to the trade war, but possibly of interest to sports fans.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been very popular in China, but its profitable Chinese operations may become a casualty of the trade war. Presumably it fears this: the NBA is looking to hire someone who can talk to the Chinese government :

The National Basketball Association Inc. is hiring its first head of government and public affairs in China as it seeks to protect its most important international market at a time of high tension in the U.S.-China relationship.
Jackrabbit , May 17, 2019 9:35:47 PM | link
What I don't like about Chas Freeman's article is his tone-deafness. He has been around government enough to know better. Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State. But Chas says:
There is no longer an orderly policy process in Washington to coordinate, moderate, or control policy formulation or implementation. Instead, a populist president has effectively declared open season on China.
It's a bit disturbing to see people here read Kissinger's 2014 Op-Ed (finally) but say nothing about Chas Freeman's assertion that it's all made up by a "populist" President.

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

If the above hurt your feeling please feel free to retreat to your happy place. We'd all be better off.

Don Bacon , May 17, 2019 11:06:15 PM | link
Many trade war articles here
dltravers , May 17, 2019 11:13:06 PM | link
Jackrabbit at @ 58

Not happy, just learned to live with it. I think I get your point. The policy really means little, the underlying issues will never change.
Been in the rabbit hole for a really long time. If more people jump in maybe things will really start to change.

vk , May 18, 2019 12:01:02 AM | link
@ Posted by: dltravers | May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | 53
I am not so sure the conclusions of the article are correct. Tariffs on Chinese factories will force production to other countries in the area like Vietnam where costs are not going to be much higher than China.

First of all, this is not a new phenomenon: low wages, low technology industries are already being transferred to India and SE-Asia. The Chinese know this and there are innumerous articles on the internet you can find about it.

But even if this process accelerates, that won't solve the manufacturing problem of the USA: it will continue to be abroad. Besides, China's "competitive advantages" are too big for a confederation of micro-countries in the Pacific to overcome. It has a socialist economy (centrally planified economy, under the hegemony of the working class); it has 1.5 billion people that will only peak in 2030; it is decades ahead in built infrastructure; it has a huge scale economy advantage (e.g. infrastructure projects that are required to reach a certain desired productive level, which are profitable in China, may not be profitable in e.g. Malaysia simply because it is too small); its financial sector is not dominant over production. But then, I repeat: even if the USA nukes China, manufacturing still won't go back to American soil.

America's problem is a secular fall of its profit rates, not manufacturing capacity: it can import whatever and how much products it needs simply because it can print world money (Dollar system).

ben , May 18, 2019 12:18:53 AM | link
b said;" the U.S. economic system is based on greed and not on the welfare of its citizens." Bingo! Jrabbit @ 52 said;"US foreign policy has been remarkably consistent for over 20 years." Maybe the last 100 yrs.? Demonize countries people and rulers, and take their stuff, but why not? We are, don't ya' know, the exceptional nation, doing gods work. Manifest Destiny, isn't it great?
Zachary Smith , May 18, 2019 1:31:30 AM | link
I know next to nothing about the "Huawei" business, so a new article about it is something to grab at. Pretty cut and dried, huh? Hauwei is pure evil, and no 'ifs' or 'buts' about it.

But who is this guy. A couple of quick searches turned up some more of his output.

'It's now or never': The untold story of the dramatic, Canadian-led rescue of Syria's White Helmets

How Israel became a defender of the Syrian people

Just another neocon hack peddling BS, so I'm back to square one.

Ian , May 18, 2019 4:30:33 AM | link
dltravers | May 17, 2019 8:55:12 PM | 54:

China will wait it out until Trump is out of office. The Chinese leadership is pretty smart and had at least three years to prepare for the worst case scenario. Once Chinese industries as a whole follow Huawei's footsteps (i.e. Plan B), there will be no turning back. They'll set off Plan B once they see Trump winning 2020.

dh | May 18, 2019 12:06:33 AM | 67:

Ugh...I almost leap for joy until I read the URL.

padre , May 18, 2019 5:06:23 AM | link
Are we to asume from "Some aspects of China's trade behavior can and should be criticized" that the United States are shining example of trade (and all other) policies,all others to follow?
S , May 18, 2019 6:02:26 AM | link
@Indrid Cold #46:
For government and other high security uses China has options like the mips based Loongson but that wouldn't work in the commercial environment so hopelessly devoted to x86 and windows. Probably the best solution would be to make an x86 analog like amd markets, and it wouldn't take that long to do.

Chinese-Taiwanese joint venture Zhaoxin has been making x86 processors since 2013, based on VIA Technologies' x86 license. These processors are manufactured by Taiwanese TSMC, but may switch to Chinese SMIC once it launches its 14nm process later this year.

William Gruff , May 18, 2019 7:43:24 AM | link
"Whatever face is at the top is only representing the layers below." --b

The truth of this is also why so many in America hate Trump so much. He is too perfect a reflection of what America truly stands for. Trump accurately represents America, from America's bloated, over-inflated sense of self-importance and worth to America's pussy-grabbing foreign policy. Trump-hate is really self-hate.

Delusional American Russiagater Trump Derangement Syndrome victims will protest, but such people are incapable of taking a good hard look at themselves.

Hmm... "delusional" and "American" are redundant adjectives here. I should be more careful with my writing style.

snake , May 18, 2019 7:55:24 AM | link
Mr. Gruff you have it almost correct, Americans and the USA are not one in the same and they never have been.
I still don't think you guys get it.. The 7 article constitution of the USA apportions the power to rule between two branches and separates the masses from their personal political powers and their human rights. Its result is not a democracy, but a few people rule republic. 100% of the authority to rule (operate and make decisions) is vested in one person (Art. II, rule and decide: President w/VP backup), subject only to the powers distributed to the two bodied legislative structure ( Art. I, pass law and raise money: 450 house+100 senate persons). Critical to understand => one person makes all decisions, and directs the day to day government. Article III thru VII defines the judiciary and clarifies various situations. (525 popularly elected + 2 electoral college appointed <=paid governors) vs. 350,000,000 powerless governed persons entitled only to 3 votes/voter [Senator(1), House members(2)] and allowed one vote/voter for each President(1) and VP(1) <=but both Art. II persons are appointed by the electoral college).

The USA is about delivering to the ownership of a very few, all of the assets, all of the power, and all of the services once possessed by the many. The demand for all of the possessions of the many, to be delivered to the few, has expanded over time from 13 colony America to earth and now space. No one but the few are entitled to anything and the USA and other governments are there to be sure of it. But how is 'total possession vested in the few' to be maintained? By rule of law!

But what law would transfer everyone's possessions into the ownership of a few? Ah, the laws of monopoly.. so rule of law, from thin air , generates=> monopoly powers and rights of ownership.. Examples of laws that bear monopoly powers and that transfer ownership rights are copyright laws, patent laws, as they convert monopoly powers that once the many shared (via governments) now belong to the few. The transfer is called privatization. Oil is controlled for the benefit of the private few by ownership laws and right to produce contracts. All in all the function of t he USA has been to make a few very wealthy at the expense of the many.

The trade issues, sanctions, wars, tariffs, race wars, oil wars, religious wars etc. are about which people are going to be the few. Until the form and function of governments are determined by the masses from the bottom, instead of by the few from the top, nothing will ever change. The masses will suffer or prosper according to which government is the winner.

therevolutionwas , May 18, 2019 8:08:39 AM | link
US factories moved to China because the US economy is based on greed?!! US government greed for the company's money maybe. US factories moved to China because it was cheaper to produce products there and then pay the expense to ship them all the way back. The US has one of the highest federal tax rates on earth, and add in high state taxes for an unacceptable situation. US fiat paper money is the base problem.
Mark2 , May 18, 2019 8:24:01 AM | link
William Gruff @ 72 & snake 71
I was just about to say the very same thing ! Delusions of grandeur ! And now major self-harm systems ! But are these degenerates above the law ? They are after all genocidal mass murder's! String um up I say or shall we fry um ?
Right now the brain dead American public are like something out of -- - - 'The invasion of the body snatchers ' film
Joanna , May 18, 2019 9:30:24 AM | link
@58, JackRabitt, Smacking down China is a strategic priority for the Deep State.

the first time I got some type of glimpse of the average American Mind on China, as it filtered down from "the deep state" to the more fearfully ill-informed quarters of society no doubt, was in the post 9/11 universe. The person or persons pushing the meme, may have been a bit confused by all the conspiracy theories about 9/11 unfolding at the time.

Anyway, Chinese troops he/she/they asserted readers were close to the Mexican border approaching, advancing swiftly.

In hindsight, maybe accidentally, although I doubt, Trump combines the elements of that narrative perfectly. And it is not my intention to argue right or wrong here. But apparently down at the border there is this "invasion" on the other hand there's also the Yellow Peril.

DontBelieveEitherPropaganda , May 18, 2019 9:58:41 AM | link
Well, the chinese system of power has always been the thoughest to understand for any outsider. It has been this way, but in the last years it seems the so called age of information has lead to erode the curtains of this complex mechanism. At least for those who want to look behind those curtains, and not use them to project their propaganda.. ;)

And it is a good sign that while Xi tired to establish himself in such a unique position of power like Mao, and openly tried to put himself into the historic succession of the old emperors (like Mao did too), that the will of the people and party still tips the scale of power. It means the chinese confucian tradition and its consequences for a ruler even today still matter. Even though they are anyway lost on someone who is not of Asian origin.

What to westerners look like a dictator, is of a different nature as one can even imagine with western eyes. Every ruler has to strive for balance, for harmony, which in turns makes hearing of the peoples popular will be a necessity.

Even though many Chinese say, they like any other people only strive for what they need most ;) (like harmony and compromise). Though many also say, that the chinese will always choose stability and security over freedom. And i guess that is what many from the western world dont get about China, and also about the Putinists. I say let them and every one else have their choice. Just like i say let the US do theirs, and reap what they seeded.

For those able to read German check out the Books of Peter Scholl-Latour on China. The most telling and authorative books from a journalist who has reported first had for over 60 years, and has always defended and honored his own perspective; While the western so called reporters were trapt in their professional delusion of pro-NATO propaganda, and while the SDS praised the culture revolution as a democratic means, when whole china was terrorized and millions slaugtherd.

Hard to walk that middle ground, while being attacked from ideological drones from both sides i guess..

Anyway, the neocons in the US believes it is now or never to defend the USA unique position as world power. They believe, that if they don't fight now, they will have lost. I say, they already have.

Short of pulling a Hitler on China, meaning a total annihilation of the Chinese people, there is nothing they can do. And even Bolton will have a hard time trying to push through a clear cut genocide ;)

We will see China rise. Those who feared of this will see that china will not be half as bad as thought, and those who gloirfy china and put them into a good (vs bad US) black-wide scheme will learn of the faults of the Chinese power and its projection (Like its own believe of supremacy, of racism (a reason why china in the cold war was pretty unsuccessful in Africa, where most knew who deeply racist Chinese treated their fellows as workers, guest students,..).

All in all, what we need is a true and functional global community of nations and people, where goverments truely work together to balance out the stronger world powers. And with the pressure of Chinas rise and its strugle with the US, we may finally have a better chance for this to at least partially succed. I hope.. ;) Or of course it nuclear winter time. We will see.

daffyDuct , May 18, 2019 10:30:54 AM | link
vk @ 13

China now, Japan in the 1980s - it's "deja vu all over again!"

"AFTER ITS DEFEAT in World War II, Japan was content to take foreign inventions -- the transistor, the laser, the videotape player -- and convert them into products that it could market around the world. Japan acquired much of its base of Western technology, most of it American, perfectly legally through licensing, careful study of scientific papers and patents, and imitation. But when the U.S. wasn't willing to share, some Japanese companies simply copied with little regard for patents and other intellectual property rights that the courts have only recently begun to define in many areas of high technology.

The U.S., confident of its technical superiority, ''sold out to the Japanese,'' says G. Steven Burrill, head of the high-technology consulting group at Arthur Young, a Big Eight accounting firm. ''We let them share our brain.''

Now, belatedly awake to the recognition that Japan has been eating their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime snack, American companies are stirring. IBM vs. Fujitsu over computer software, Honeywell vs. Minolta over automatic focusing, Corning Glass vs. Sumitomo Electric over fiber optics -- these are only the latest, best-publicized complaints that Japan has stolen American technology.

Even as those legal battles are fought out, the copycat cliche is becoming obsolete. A series of studies financed by the U.S. government since 1984 warn that Japan has caught up with the U.S. or passed it in the development of integrated circuits, fiber optics, computer hardware engineering, and advanced materials like polymers. It is pressing hard in some areas of biotechnology, and lags primarily in computer software.

Already there are signs that the Japanese, buoyed by their new prowess, have assumed the arrogance of the U.S. along with its technology."

"A MEASURE of Japan's progress can be found in the number of patent filings in the U.S., Japan's most important export market. ..."

"THE FACT that Americans now worry about their access to Japanese technology is an acknowledgment of Japan's new scientific competence. When the Japanese were known primarily as copycats, the flow of technology was essentially in one direction. It was also cheap. Aaron Gellman, president of a consulting firm, says that for years U.S. firms licensed technology to the Japanese without asking for a grant-back, the right to use any improvements they made. Says Gellman: ''This was very arrogant and implied that no one could improve on our technology.''"

"U.S. scientists and companies have failed to take advantage of opportunities to tap Japanese academic research. ''What's wrong here is pure laziness,'' says Martin Anderson, an analyst with the MAC Group, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts."

http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1987/12/21/69996/index.htm

denk , May 18, 2019 10:39:59 AM | link
Trust the UnitedSnake to blame the Chinese for reneging on an agreement ! Fact is, Trump's team Add in last minute conditions that are totally unacceptable to China. Chinese commentators are fuming at the audacity of the demands. 'WTF, Do they think we'r their gawd damned 51st state ?'

Typical UnitedSnake's 'negotiation' tactics, designed to fail ! Thats how Clinton justity his bombing of ex Yugo, by blaming Belgrade for the breakdown of negotiation ,to justify its 78 days of aerial arsons against Yugo.

denk , May 18, 2019 10:49:38 AM | link
How the UnitedSnake destroyed Toshiba and took over its crown jewel chip tech,... Toshiba was severely punished for breaking fukus sanction on USSR, by selling state of art milling machine to the Soviets. the unitedsnake slapped a heavy fine, demanded the resignation of Toshiba CEO, imposed a ten years ban on Toshiba products, FORCED the Japs to share their latest chip tech with Merikkans. Toshiba never recovered from that disaster.
vk , May 18, 2019 10:52:22 AM | link
Time to discard any illusions about the US ,source: Global Times Published: 2019/5/17 22:49:35
JOHN CHUCKMAN , May 18, 2019 10:59:52 AM | link
An excellent summary of many aspects of a serious and deteriorating situation. In the end, China has a lot of brainpower to apply to situations like this.They are used to speaking and writing one of the world's most difficult languages. They are used to playing Go, one of the world's most difficult board games. And their national endowment of analytical skills immensely surpasses that of the United States.

They are said to have eight times as many students in math and science and engineering in their universities. Xi himself is very bright, having earned degrees in difficult subjects at demanding universities, and he is calm and very forward-thinking. Just consider that magnificent long-term Silk Road Project. When I think of Trump with his constant mock-heroic poses and foot-high signatures on every silly memo and his gang of noisy, pompous thugs in top appointments, I can't help thinking I know how this will turn out in the end.

vk , May 18, 2019 11:11:09 AM | link
China's yuan slide risks trolling Trump It's good to remember that would not be the first time. After the first round of tariffs, China devalued the Renminbi and it basically wiped out the tariffs . In fact, it didn't even need to devalue that much: 1 Renminbi is now US$ 0.14 -- just a little over the Government max upwards band of 1:7.
denk , May 18, 2019 11:24:04 AM | link
In 2013, the CEO of French hi tech co Alstom was arrested by FBI, while changing flight at New York. His 'crime', breaking MERIKKAN anti corruption
law by bribing govn officials in INDONESIA ! Such is the LONG arm of merikkan extra territorial jurisdiction, rings a bell ... Ms meng ?

Just like Toshiba, the French paid a very heavy price. The CEO went to jail, Allstom, the crown jewel of French industry, was FORCED to sell off its core business to its main rival, GE. !

What did Ian Fleming's fundamental law of probability says.... ONCE IS HAPPENSTENCE, TWIC IS COINCIDENCE...

Noirette , May 18, 2019 11:39:25 AM | link
US MegaCos. outsourced and 'globalised' with the blessing, nay encouragement! of the Pol. Class. Cheaper labor and lax environmental rules, in comparison with 'home' (US, W countries, etc.) is a mantra. That is of course good enough, and one can track, say, sh*t-clothes factories transiting from Bangladesh, to China, to Malaysia, to Mexico, etc.

Other motives, the first is lack of responsibility and involvement which allows domineering and rapacious behavior. Foreign co. implant can just leave, relocate, if whatever. A random /racist term/ exploited worker in the 3rd world is not voting in US elections.

Deadly industrial pollution is outsourced, and energy use etc. at home while not curtailed or significantly diminished is not as high as one might see under condition of the industries returning home - a sort of 'greener' environment can be touted.

The PTB simply cannot grasp why some US citizens, who live high on the hog, house, 2 cars, 3 kids, endless dirt cheap consumer goods, etc. produced by 'slaves' abroad, complain. If the 'stuff' was produced at home, it would cost much more, the pay would be going to 'low-level' US labor -- in a more closed economic circuit there would be more 'equality' as things stand today in the US - *not* claiming it's a general rule.

Trump had some confused? thoughts about turning the present situation around, and relocating industrial - some extractive - manufacturing - jobs back home, say 1960s, with decent pay, to ppl who would then vote for him.

The stumbling block is that profits to shareholders, oligarchs, chief CEO's, asset trippers, usurers, Mafia types, Banks and other Fin, and Politicians who in the US are highly paid lackeys, etc. is set to diminish, as 'the pie' can no longer be grown much to accomodate all these grifters. Due to energy constraints, disruption of climate change, etc.

denk , May 18, 2019 11:56:20 AM | link
Brit and Dutch spooks now concur with Trump the charlatan's claim of Huawei security risk ! Trust the Brits to doublecross the Chinese, after they've been given the huawei source codes to examine and declared it free of bugs. As for the Dutch , they seems to be the goto guys these days, whenever the 5liars need some loyal poodles to corroborate their B.S., cue the M17 'investigation'.

hehehehe

[May 18, 2019] What is the representative of Allmighty Nation doing un Russia?

May 18, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Bianca , May 16, 2019 at 06:46

So, what is the representative of Allmighty Nation doing un Russia? Why bothering to hint on better relations? Noted in the press conference was the absence of Pompeo's moralizing, limiting itself on US position on issues. What is the point in this flying back and forth?

Yes, Iran -- and arms control. Venezuela -- and arms control. North Korea -- and arms control. I think they are paranoid about Russian weapons. And if Iranians by any chance have some of the new weaponry, providing perfect testing ground, would Russia own to that? What was obvious, no concessions on any issue from Moscow. Not even softened language.

This time, it is different. The economic and military power has shifted east, Europeans forever without a spine this time are spineless in all directions, and it will come as a shock to the establishment that the presumed animosity towards Iran in Gulf, will nowhere to be found. Wil Saudis host US troops against Iran, Doubt that deeply.

[May 17, 2019] US military complex is a 'malignant virus' that's evolved to defend itself

May 17, 2019 | www.unz.com

annamaria , says: Next New Comment May 16, 2019 at 10:51 pm GMT

@9/11 Inside job Andrew Cockburn: "US military complex is a 'malignant virus' that's evolved to defend itself" https://www.rt.com/usa/459505-us-military-industrial-virus/

"The MIC is embedded in our society to such a degree that it cannot be dislodged, and also that it could be said to be concerned, exclusively, with self-preservation and expansion, like a giant, malignant virus."

The system has evolved to be very good at defending itself – while leaving the country, "in reality so poorly defended".

One Tribe , says: May 16, 2019 at 11:10 pm GMT
Thanks again CJH for all the chuckles. It is time all 'real' people acknowledged that

The NYT is the " Propagandist of Record ".

Nothing more. And it's been like that for quite a while. While it would be logical to identify the systemic bend, and blindness that it has, it is probably against the law, like all discussions about [redacted]

A pattern that has played out consistently for over 2000 years, and can be seen for what it is in reviewing the Pale (of Settlements) and the conditions for those not included in the [redacted]. But really, it's beyond the pale, isn't it. People, slowly but surely, are building immunity to the perception management programs, even with the wildly amplified volume and frequency , we see the early adapters adapting, and opting for the red pill .

Just a co-incidence that while the psychotic ' leaders ' of a small colonial ' government ' squatting on expropriated land, committing escalating genocidal programs against the indigenous population, and actively conflating it with anti-[redacted], while the co-affiliates resident in the empire's other nation-states keep quiet, there seems to be an epidemic of anti-[redacted]?!

" It's a trick, and we use it a lot. "
he, he, aren't we so clever!

This ruse is coming to an end soon
and all of those people working in the desert somewhere, writing stuff online, are going to have to get real jobs.

[May 15, 2019] Trump's Hired Hands Want a War in Iran

Trump proved to be controlled by Zionists warmonger; a person far different that he presented to voters during his 2016 campaign. As deceptive as Obama -- the master of "bait and switch" maneuver with his "change we can believe in" propaganda.
He slides to to Bush II replica with a bunch of neocons in his administration. As one commenters noted, "Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy."
Notable quotes:
"... Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. ..."
"... Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. ..."
"... The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud. ..."
"... Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth... ..."
May 15, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

For Trump's hawkish advisers -- National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- instigating or provoking a conflict with Iran would serve their unified purpose of throwing the ayatollahs out of the corridors of power for good. Yet for Trump himself, rightly skeptical of launching dubious wars of choice and having committed to the American people he would extricate the United States from pointless interventions, picking a fight with Iran would be a direct violation of his campaign promise.

More important, a military conflict with Iran would be a U.S. response wholly disproportionate to the threat Iran poses to U.S. security.

Washington is full of advisers, think tank scholars, and pundits who believe that it's simply impossible for the United States and Iran to coexist and that the only solution to the Iranian problem is to change the regime -- whether by force or by collapsing Tehran's finances and instigating a widespread, domestic revolt. But to suggest that the United States, the world's only superpower with global power projection capabilities, is incapable or powerless to manage Iran is a severely flawed interpretation of the overall situation. Indeed, it underestimates the superior power of the United States and gives Tehran far too much credit than it's entitled to.

Right now, diplomacy between Washington and Tehran is unlikely over the short-term. The Iranians will likely bide their time and hope U.S. policy will change after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

However, what the Trump administration can do is decrease the tension before the situation gets to a point where avenues for de-escalation are further constrained. Trump must take control of the policy instead of leaving it in the hands of those who have been promoting unending confrontation with Iran for their entire careers. The simplest way to do this is by establishing direct lines of communication between U.S. and Iranian officials to -- at the very least -- pave the road for a dialogue and create a node that can be used by both to address any misunderstandings that occur at a moment's notice.

The American people don't want a war. The Iranian people don't want a war. Trump doesn't want a war. And the Iranian government, increasingly constrained by U.S. secondary sanctions, doesn't want a war it would lose. It's not too late for the president to nip the worst-case scenario in the bud.

Dan DePetris is a Fellow at Defense Priorities as well as a columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative. You can follow him on Twitter at @DanDePetris .

R. Arandas • 13 minutes ago

Bolton reminds me a bit of Cheney and his considerable influence over Bush's foreign policy.

AndrewK • 9 hours ago

Sheldon Adelson getting his money's worth...

[May 14, 2019] Antisemitism is now a mass movement in Britain by Gilad Atzmon

May 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

It seems as if British Jewish pressure groups have achieved their goal: anti-Semitism is now a mass movement in the UK. The rabid Zionist Algemeiner reports that "Antisemitism and virulent Israel-hatred were rife on Saturday at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London."

The Jewish press seems to be upset by a pro-Palestinian march that assembled at the offices of the BBC, not too far from a synagogue. I guess that the rationale is simple: once London is dotted with synagogues, human rights enthusiasts will be pushed out of the city. They will have to gather somewhere out of the green belt.

Jewish outlets complain that participants brandished 'antisemitic badges and placards,' such as "Israel provokes anti-Semitism." I am puzzled. Is this really an anti-Semitic statement? If anything, it is an attempt to identify the cause of anti-Semitism.

Jewish outlets are also upset by images of the Star of David crossed with a swastika. To start with, those who equate Israel with Nazi Germany actually contemplate the memory of the Holocaust and are by no means 'deniers.' I guess that the time is ripe for Zionists and supporters of Israel to accept that in consideration of the ongoing Israeli racist crime in Palestine, the Star of David has become a symbol of evil in the eyes of many.

The Jewish press is upset by the slogan "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" that calls for Israel's destruction. I would actually expect Jews who seem to be upset by the Hitlerian concept of an 'Aryans-only state' to accept that the concept of a 'Jews-only state' is equally disturbing.' They should support Israel becoming 'a state of its citizens' and accept that sooner or later this state will evolve into Palestine, from the river to the sea.

The Jewish press is totally irritated by Jewish Voice for Labour's Secretary Glyn Secker, who claimed that pro-Israel Labour officials were a "fifth column" in the party and asked, "What on earth are Jews doing in the gutter with these rats?" I would remind my readers that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is itself a Jewish racist exclusive political body that wouldn't accept non-Jews into its ranks. I have wondered more than once how it is possible that the anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn is willing to be associated with such a body. However, in his statement (if quoted correctly by the Jewish press), secretary Glyn Secker actually expresses the most disturbing tribal supremacist view. He looks down at a bunch of labour MPs whom he labels 'rats' and call for his Jewish brethren to disassociate from these low creatures. Glyn, in practice, sustains the Jew/Goy binary divide. He should actually receive the Kosher weekly award rather than be abused by the Zionist league.

But we can be reassured. Campaign Against Antisemitism has already confirmed that they are "reviewing the evidence that we gathered today. Where crimes have been committed, we will work with the authorities to ensure that there are arrests and prosecutions."

ORDER IT NOW

The facts on the ground are undeniable. The more Jewish bodies campaign against anti-Semitism the more opposition to Jewish politics is detected. The relentless Zionist campaign against Corbyn didn't hurt him, as he is still leading in most national election polls . Branding Nigel Farage as an anti-Semite didn't touch the man whose party is polling higher than the Tories and Labour combined in the coming European Parliament election. One way to look at it is to argue that Brits are not moved by the Jewish anti-Semitism hysteria. Another way to look at it is to conclude that Brits are actually grossly disturbed by the anti-Semitism frenzy. Being hated by the Zionist lobby has become a badge of honour, an entry ticket to Britain's political premiership.


Miro23 , says: May 13, 2019 at 9:36 pm GMT

The facts on the ground are undeniable. The more Jewish bodies campaign against anti-Semitism the more opposition to Jewish politics is detected. The relentless Zionist campaign against Corbyn didn't hurt him, as he is still leading in most national election polls.

In contrast to the 1960's Israel is starting to look unfashionable. Young people feel embarrassed to be associated with Jewish activism and Zionism.

Being unfashionable is a very serious state of affairs. Many failing businesses will testify to this. You do all the tried and tested stuff, and it just doesn't work.

Fran Taubman , says: May 13, 2019 at 9:09 pm GMT
@Grace Poole Why is a Jewish only state disturbing? It is surrounded by 32 Apartheid muslim only countries.
Could I move to Iran?
If Israel becomes a theocracy not a democracy, who cares. Look at the neighborhood.
If not Jewish only then what a Jihad state like the rest of the Arab world?
Give Israel the razor blade.
All you dog noses who claim the Jews made a banquet from the holocaust. Just look at the meal the Arabs made from those original 750,000 refugees created by the State of Israel founding war.
Cry me a river. They have an entire UN agency devoted to their every need, and status to 3rd and 4th generation children of the originals not living in the country, who have citizenship else where, How does that add up to the 5 million diaspora pals.
It is all such a game to see Israel go down mostly thru jealously that the Jews came from the ashes of near by extension to create the best country over there.

I would pay each one of the Pals 2 million to move to Jordan from the West Bank, and Gaza to the Sinai with joint ownership with Egypt. But that is a good idea and would solve the problem. No one wants to solve the problem they just want to see the Jews go down. Gilad licks his lips over it.

renfro , says: May 13, 2019 at 9:37 pm GMT
@Fran Taubman "There's always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors -- Palestinians -- who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people's passports," said Tlaib.

"And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them."

Love it ..just the right thing to say.

Anon [128] Disclaimer , says: May 13, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
@Fran Taubman

Why is a Jewish only state disturbing?

Because Jews hold the establishment of Israel to be a prerequisite for the destruction of all other nations in a final world war, which the Jews seem intent on instigating with Islam. Zohar Shemot 32a.

After which Israel is slated to be the only remaining national power (everyone else being destroyed).

Do not forget your books. We don't.

Why is a non-Jewish European-only State disturbing to you and other Jews?

You have your own state but refuse the same to others. You are not Europeans (Brits, Germans, etc) as these were originally ethnic-racial categories before you interfered. Yet you claim them your yourselves as well, and in doing so deny everyone else an exclusive identity.

Jews only allow themselves an exclusive identity, because your "god" (the writing of Jews) only gave Judea a nation. Correct?

Asking moronic questions at this point, which everyone knows the answer to, is insulting. You people are not innocent, are not dumb, and you know precisely why people are hostile to your mass genocidal, supremacist tribe.

James N. Kennett , says: May 13, 2019 at 10:19 pm GMT
@Fran Taubman

I would pay each one of the Pals 2 million to move to Jordan from the West Bank, and Gaza to the Sinai with joint ownership with Egypt. But that is a good idea and would solve the problem.

At a cost of $9 trillion. Who is going to pay?

Realistically, offer $100,000 per person, or $450 billion total. Double that to include the diaspora Pals, and close the refugee camps. If the resettlement took place over a decade, it would cost $90 billion a year, which could come from the US Defense budget. The latter could be wound down over the same decade, as it would no longer be needed to fight wars on behalf of Israel. Israel would get land and peace; Palestinians would be well compensated; and the USA would be relieved of its duty as a Middle-Eastern warmonger. Everybody wins. What's not to like?

However, to gain approval for the plan in the USA, it would be necessary to show that the expenditure is both worthwhile and an improvement over the status quo . This would mean explaining what the status quo actually is; and how and why it has come about. Unfortunately, this information is so inflammatory that it can never be publicly discussed.

James N. Kennett , says: May 13, 2019 at 10:49 pm GMT

Antisemitism Is Now a Mass Movement in Britain

I don't think this is true. A few years back, Daniel Finkelstein of the (London) Times characterised British anti-semitism as "background noise".

The pro-Palestinian demonstrations are the "exception that proves the rule". Their support has two cores: radical Muslims, and political activists on the Left. Neither is a mass movement.

The British Left tends to support people who have the most "victim points". Rightly or wrongly, they believe that Palestinians have a lot of victim points and, as the Holocaust moves from living memory into history, that Israelis and diaspora Jews have very few.

Furthermore, the Left particularly seeks ogres who are white and Western. Paradoxically, they dislike Israel because Israelis are similar to Britons, not because they are different. In contrast, massacres by Saddam Hussein, ISIS, or Rwandans never attracted much opprobrium from the Left. The idea of holding people to a lower moral standard, the less they look or sound like oneself, is obviously racist; but it is followed by people who genuinely believe that they are the least racist people on earth.

anon [833] Disclaimer , says: May 14, 2019 at 5:59 am GMT
@Anon

Why is a non-Jewish European-only State disturbing to you and other Jews?

because most jews, like taubstein, are racist, supremacist hypocrites

Antares , says: May 14, 2019 at 7:09 am GMT
Israel's racism is hardcoded into law.
nicholas nicola , says: May 14, 2019 at 8:09 am GMT
Hoorah

We have moved from the very REAL MURDER of thousands of Muslims by Jews in Palestine

to debating fluff in peoples navals

nicholas nicola , says: May 14, 2019 at 8:14 am GMT
Millions of Jews have emigrated to the middle of a massive clan of muslims and formed a military enclave which is slaughtering muslims en-mass.

Do you think that the collective memory of The Ummah will forget this?

Bill Jones , says: May 14, 2019 at 9:49 am GMT
@James N. Kennett "which could come from the US Defense budget"

Unfortunately the US doesn't have a "Defense Budget" It has an Attack Budget, and it's not going anywhere but up.

Fool's Paradise , says: May 14, 2019 at 11:58 am GMT
The world won't be free until it's a mass movement everywhere. People are finally waking up to this truth: No Israel, no war.
Fran Taubman , says: May 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm GMT
@nicholas nicola I hope the collective Ummah looks at:
Somalia
All of Africa
China
Myamar
All of Arabia
Slave labor in Libya
Women's rights in the Islamic world
Genital mutilation
beheadings

The entire muslim population in Israel has quadrupled since 1948. I guess the slaughtering of Muslims is not going so well.
You are deranged and delusional.

mark green , says: May 14, 2019 at 4:15 pm GMT
Well said! All Jewry wants is everything.

Jews demand their own exclusive state (subsidized by goyim), the privilege to cleanse their sacred (and expanding) Jews-Only territory of native gentiles, and the right to travel (and live) among the goyim as they see fit.

And don't you dare complain about these privileges. That's anti-Semitism!

And then there's the matter of speech.

Jews not only enjoy top tier access to the MSM (since they've conspired to buy up most of it for the undisclosed purpose of advancing pan-Zionist hegemony) but they actively and openly form teams, lobbies and NGOs to limit the right and opportunity of others to speak freely and assemble lawfully for the purpose of expressing their own political grievances.

Resistance and resentment to the entrenched double-standards that favor Jews, and state-sponsored lawlessness that empowers Israel, is routinely decried as anti-Jewish 'bigotry'. It is also mislabeled as 'anti-Semitism'. This keeps the opposition weak and off-balance.

How very clever. How very diabolical.

Why not call 'anti-Semitism what it is?

So-called 'anti-Semitism' is simply anti-Jewishness (or counter-Jewisness). It is merely an attitude.

Depending upon the circumstances, this attitude might be right or it may be wrong. But 'anti-Semitism' is all about Jews, their behavior, and their impact on non-Jews. Why not focus on this inescapable fact?

And since 'anti-Semitism' is not about 'Semites' at all, the very term itself is something of a canard.

On the other hand, organized Jewry is truly powerful. Sometimes it does real damage. Sometimes it does real harm. Sometimes it destroys. Why can't we talk about it openly?

Calling morally-grounded opposition to the real damage and real harm done by Jews 'anti-Semitism' is a calculated libel.

On the other hand, identifying and castigating organized Jewry for its various sins is vital, courageous, and healthy. So do the right thing.

Longfisher , says: May 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm GMT
When I was much younger and in Graduate School I hosted three British students who were on a summer sabbatical at the medical college I was attending.

There was no particular reason that the Jews in America came up over beers, many beers (Texans and the British like beer equally well). But they told me that there was and expression among common British about Jews, and, no it's not that the only good Jew is a dead Jew.

It was that "antisemitism is when one hates the Jews more than is absolutely necessary".

Interesting concept, that is.

Longfisher , says: May 14, 2019 at 6:04 pm GMT
"Jewish outlets complain that participants brandished 'antisemitic badges and placards,' such as "Israel provokes anti-Semitism." I am puzzled. Is this really an anti-Semitic statement? If anything, it is an attempt to identify the cause of anti-Semitism."

Yep, absolutely true.

It's not their religion about which folks object. It's not their race, if you want to call it a race.

IT'S THEIR BEHAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fran Taubman , says: May 14, 2019 at 8:32 pm GMT
@renfro

Wrong. At the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, was a supporter and ally of Hitler. When the two met, al-Husseini told Hitler that they shared the same enemies: "the English, the Jews, and the Communists." The two went on to scheme about how best to set upon and destroy the Jews of the Middle East. What's more, the Arabs regularly massacred Jews in Mandatory Palestine.

Lies are the lifeblood of anti-Semitism, and there's a purpose to Tlaib's false history. It serves to bolster the lie that the Jews waged war on a friendly and welcoming people, stole their land, and condemned them to ruin. Anti-Semitism depends on lies because its very motive is to hide the truth of one's own failings and lay blame on the Jews. The history of anti-Semitism is, in a sense, a history of wicked fabrications: From Jewish deicide, to the blood libel, to the claims of Jewish sorcery, to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to the idea that Jews were tipped off about 9/11, to the claim that Jews push the U.S. into wars, to the outrage over Jews supposedly buying politicians, to lies about Israel's founding.

Tlaib and Omar are exemplars of this tradition, peddlers of anti-Semitic folktales. In addition to spouting revisionist history, Tlaib has accused America's Israel-supporters of dual loyalty. Omar has done that and more, claiming that Israel has hypnotized the world into not seeing the evil it perpetrates, and stating that America's pro-Israel policies are simply purchased by those who support the Jewish state.

Ronnie , says: May 14, 2019 at 9:36 pm GMT
It is a very powerful and accurate expression to say that Israel is "unfashionable" – it is also true that most young people today feel no connection to the holocaust – when Rashida uses the word "comforting" to refer to her people's sacrifice for the Jews, I feel that the customary Zionist response to call these expressions "canards" will also be seen as an unfashionable response. Thank God for brave people like Tlaid and Omar who express distaste for the unfashionable and vulgar behavior of Israel and Zionists. Omar and Tlaib have already emboldened millions of others who share their ambivalence and horror, when they read about the Israel colonist settlers and their brutality to the Palestinians they displace .
Curmudgeon , says: May 15, 2019 at 12:27 am GMT
@Fran Taubman

It is surrounded by 32 Apartheid muslim only countries.

Not so. Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt have Christian minorities that have been protected over the years. Jordan has a few, but not many. Iraq, prior to Israel's proxy war on Saddam had plenty of Christians, including Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam's ministers.. Palestine has/had Christians that were killed by Israelis in the same way Muslims were.

Could I move to Iran?

I don't know, I'm not in charge of the Iranian immigration policy. Why not ask the Jews who are members of the Majles? You know, the legislative body with seats reserved for Jews and other minorities.

Like most Zionists, you seem to ignore the part where T.E. Lawrence got the go ahead from the British government to promise Arabs, which included Palestine, freedom from the Ottomans and self rule, in exchange for a revolt against them. That promise was never kept. The philo-Semite mass murderer Churchill is alleged to have organized Lawrence's assassination.
http://www.criminalelement.com/the-murder-of-lawrence-of-arabia-tony-hays/

[May 14, 2019] Putin Says Time To Restore Ties After Pompeo, Lavrov Spar On Election Meddling, Venezuela Iran

May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed a broad number of security related issues in Sochi on Tuesday ranging from nuclear arms control to ratcheting US tensions with Iran to Venezuela to Ukraine. Importantly, the two top diplomats traded warnings against election meddling and interference in their respective countries -- though we might add that Lavrov's message was packed with more sarcasm following the Mueller report clearing Trump of "collusion".

In response to Pompeo's reportedly warning Russia to never interfere in what he described as America's "sacred" elections, specifically warning against any 2020 presidential election interference, Lavrov shot back with: "We can discuss this topic forever, but until we have cold hard facts on the table, we cannot have a grown-up discussion about it," according to Russia's RT .

Speaking to reporters afterward, Lavrov said proudly that he had handed Pompeo a "memorandum" on US interference in Russia but didn't reveal its precise contents, only saying, "we're prepared to talk on this topic."

Though both expressed hope for improved ties between Washington and Moscow, Reuters characterized it as a testy and impatient exchange :

Visiting Russia for the first time as secretary of state, Pompeo publicly clashed with Lavrov on issues from Ukraine to Venezuela. After their meeting, both men said they had been far apart on many issues .

"I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov... that interference in American elections is unacceptable. If the Russians were engaged in that in 2020 it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been ," he said.

"I'd encourage them not to do that. We would not tolerate that."

However, soon after the summit, Russian President Putin in public statements indicated his belief that "Trump is in the mood to restore ties with Russia."

He also indicated it's his own desire to "fully restore" Russia-US ties, according to the AP, and interestingly also praised the "quite objective" Mueller report in statements to reporters .

"As you know, just a few days ago, I had the pleasure of talking with the US president on the phone," Putin told Pompeo during the Tuesday summit in Sochi. "I got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us."

Pompeo, for his part, appeared to say as much following the meeting, saying, "The United States stands ready to find common ground with Russia as long as the two of us can engage seriously on those issues."

Pompeo said further :

President Trump has made clear that his expectation is that we will have an improved relationship between our two countries. This will benefit each of our peoples. And I think that our talks here today were a good step in that direction.

However, Pompeo still went through a litany of disagreements he had with Russia, especially centering on multiple hot spots around the globe where the Trump administration has exercised a big stick approach.

At Lavrov-Pompeo presser, around 28:30, Lavrov says something significant: Russia recently offered to publish info from a US-Russia channel on cyberspace that he claims would address the allegations of Russian election meddling. He says the US declined: https://t.co/o4MbqQlwCy

-- Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 14, 2019

* * *

Below is a brief run-down of key points to the two briefed reporters on afterwards.

Nuclear treaty

At the top of the agenda, Lavrov signaled Russia could be open to a new arms control treaty after the recent US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, countered by Russia suspending its obligations under the Reagan-era pact which crucially served to keep missile build-up out of Europe.

Pompeo stressed China had to be part of any future sweeping deal, also considering rapid advances in defense technology. Lavrov expressed hope that any future agreements will be "positively received by both nations."

The New START nuclear arms reduction treaty will expire in February of 2021, giving greater impetus for both sides to work through the current impasse.

No common ground on Venezuela

Predictably the Venezuela hawk Pompeo slammed Russia's "interfering" in the Latin American country's internal affairs, adding also to that list China, Cuba and Iran.

"Maduro has brought nothing but misery to the Venezuelan people," Pompeo stated. "We hope that Russian support for Maduro will end." Lavrov defended the right of Venezuelans to choose their own president and refused to recognize US-declared "Interim President" Juan Guaido.

"Democracy cannot be done by force," Lavrov told reporters. "The threats that we hear against the Maduro government, threats that come from the mouths of US officials this has nothing in common with democracy."

* * *

No desire for war with Iran

"We fundamentally do not see a war with Iran," Secretary of State Pompeo said, but added: "We've made it clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will certainly respond in an appropriate fashion."

On Tuesday President Trump denied a prior New York Times report which alleged the White House was planning to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should conflict erupt between Iran and the United States. The president called the report "fake news" but still added that should war actually break out he would send "a hell of a lot more," according to Reuters.

Lavrov stated that Russia hopes "reason will gain the upper hand," and added that Moscow opposed the US pullout of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), and further that Europe is right in attempting to stick to the deal.

Ukraine standoff

Pompeo informed Lavrov that the US hadn't budged in its position regarding Moscow's "illegal" annexation of the Crimea in 2014, saying economic sanctions would remain in place until Russia reverses course.

Following the Ukrainian election of comedian turned unlikely politician Volodymyr Zelensky, Pompeo said Russia should now "work with Ukraine's new president-elect to bring peace to eastern Ukraine," according to a paraphrase of Pompeo's words by Reuters, and further that Russian authorities should release Ukrainian sailors captured in last year's dangerous Kerch Strait incident .

[May 14, 2019] Why Everyone in the U.S. Who Counts Wants Julian Assange Dead naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... The film also shows war crimes that implicate the entire structure of the U.S. military, as everyone involved was acting under orders, seeking permission to fire, waiting, then getting it before once more blasting away. The publication of this video, plus all the Wikileaks publications that followed, comprise the whole reason everyone in the U.S. who matters, everyone with power, wants Julian Assange dead. They also want him hated. Generating that hate is the process we're watching today. ..."
"... "Everyone" in this case includes every major newspaper that published and received awards for publishing Wikileaks material; all major U.S. televised media outlets; and all "respectable" U.S. politicians -- including, of course, Hillary Clinton, who was rumored (though unverifiably) to have said, "Can't we just drone this guy?" ..."
"... Please watch it. The footage shows not only murder, but bloodlust and conscienceless brutality, so much of it in fact that this became one of the main reasons Chelsea Manning leaked it in the first place. As she said at her court-martial : "The most alarming aspect of the video for me, was the seemingly delight of bloodlust they [the pilots] appeared to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging with, and seemed to not value human life in referring to them as 'dead bastards,' and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers." ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Even though this post covers known territory, it seems worthwhile to encourage those of you who haven't watched the "Collateral Murder" footage to view the full version. It's important not only to keep the public (and that includes people in your personal circle) focused on what Assange's true hanging crime is in the eyes of the officialdom .and it ain't RussiaGate. That serves as a convenient diversion from his real offense. That effort has a secondary benefit of having more people watch the video.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

Before and after images of the van that came to pick up the bodies of eleven men shot to death by circling American helicopters in Iraq in 2007. Both children in the van were wounded. "Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle," said one of the pilots. "That's right," replies another. From the video Collateral Murder .

Below is a full video version of Collateral Murder , the 2007 war footage that was leaked in 2010 to Wikileaks by Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning. This version was posted to the Wikileaks YouTube channel with subtitles. It will only take about 15 minutes of your life to view it.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/HfvFpT-iypw

It's brutal to watch, but I challenge you to do it anyway. It shows not just murder, but a special kind of murder -- murder from the safety of the air, murder by men with heavy machine guns slowly circling their targets in helicopters like hunters with shotguns who walk the edges of a trout pond, shooting at will, waiting, walking, then shooting again, till all the fish are dead.

The film also shows war crimes that implicate the entire structure of the U.S. military, as everyone involved was acting under orders, seeking permission to fire, waiting, then getting it before once more blasting away. The publication of this video, plus all the Wikileaks publications that followed, comprise the whole reason everyone in the U.S. who matters, everyone with power, wants Julian Assange dead. They also want him hated. Generating that hate is the process we're watching today.

"Everyone" in this case includes every major newspaper that published and received awards for publishing Wikileaks material; all major U.S. televised media outlets; and all "respectable" U.S. politicians -- including, of course, Hillary Clinton, who was rumored (though unverifiably) to have said, "Can't we just drone this guy?"

Yes, Julian Assange the person can be a giant douche even to his supporters, as this exchange reported by Intercept writer Micah Lee attests. Nevertheless, it's not for being a douche that the Establishment state wants him dead; that state breeds, harbors and honors douches everywhere in the world . They want him dead for publishing videos like these.

Please watch it. The footage shows not only murder, but bloodlust and conscienceless brutality, so much of it in fact that this became one of the main reasons Chelsea Manning leaked it in the first place. As she said at her court-martial : "The most alarming aspect of the video for me, was the seemingly delight of bloodlust they [the pilots] appeared to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging with, and seemed to not value human life in referring to them as 'dead bastards,' and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers."

The Wikileaks page for the video is here . A transcript is here .

This was done in our name, to "keep us safe." This continues to be done every day that we and our allies are at "war" in the Middle East.

Bodies pile on bodies as this continues. The least we can do, literally the least, is to witness and acknowledge their deaths.

[May 14, 2019] The tanker damage in the Gulf was probably a "provocation" aimed at Iran.

May 14, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump's national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton , one of the administration's most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

It is highly uncertain whether Mr. Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East. " NY Times

"It is also unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops or other details in the plans. On Monday, asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, Mr. Trump said: "We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake."

There are sharp divisions in the administration over how to respond to Iran at a time when tensions are rising about Iran's nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East." NY Times

-------------

IMO the armed forces (persons unknown therein) leaked the base information in this article to the NY Times to warn Trump of the wild eyed foolishness of the crew he has allowed to run US foreign policy.

In the information briefing (as opposed to a decision briefing) described in this article concerning military options, Trump was not even present.

What has happened once again is that Bolton asked DoD for options for the president/CinC's contemplation. As I have written in the last days, neither Bolton nor Pompeo has any command authority over the armed forces. Neither does Haspel at CIA. Only the president can command them. Only he has the constitutional authority to do so.

IMO the neocon squeeze with regard to Iran is in high gear. The aim is probably to pressure Iran until they lash out somewhere against US forces or interests.

Trump would then be urged by the madmen in the White House to order the armed forces to attack. pl

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/world/middleeast/us-military-plans-iran.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[May 14, 2019] Despite a $ 22 Trillion National Debt, America Is on a Military Spending Spree. 800 Overseas US Military Bases by Masud Wadan

Highly recommended!
Trump provided to be another Obama -- master of "bait and switch". His promise to disengage from foreign wars remains an unfulfilled promise. Due to thefact that he is owned by pro-Israel lobby he broung into his administrations such rabid neocons as chickenhawk Bolton and smug ruthless careerist masquerading as far-right zealot as Pompeo (and before them Haley). His promises to raise the standard of living of middles class (which is impossible without cutting the military budget) remains fake. He is a fake. The second fake after obama -- Republican Obama.
Notable quotes:
"... While the national debt of the United States was recorded at 22.03 trillion as of April 2019, Washington's going ahead with its hawkish policies worldwide with recent NATO summit pushing for further unity against China, Russia and Iran. NATO's annual overall military budget was US$ 957 billion in 2017 where the US's share was US$ 686 billion, accounting for 72 percent of the total. This number is pressed by the US to rise in the years to come. ..."
"... According to The Guardian, Trump takes more than $1tn in taxpayer money and allocates $750bn to the military. In other words, out of every taxpayer dollar, 62 cents go to the military and Department of Homeland Security and seven cents to Veterans affairs. It leaves just 31 cents for all the rest: education, job training, community economic development, housing, safe drinking water and clear air, health and science research and the prevention of war through diplomacy and humanitarian aid. ..."
"... In 2017, US spent US$ 685,957 billion with 3.6 of its GDP on military spending while the UK stood second at US$ 55,237 billion with 2.1 per cent of GDP. France and Germany allocated US$ 45,927 billion and 45,472 billion respectively with 1.8 and 1.2 percent of their GDPs. The NATO member states are pressured for raising their defense spending to 2 percent and gradually up to 4 percent in five years. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

While the national debt of the United States was recorded at 22.03 trillion as of April 2019, Washington's going ahead with its hawkish policies worldwide with recent NATO summit pushing for further unity against China, Russia and Iran. NATO's annual overall military budget was US$ 957 billion in 2017 where the US's share was US$ 686 billion, accounting for 72 percent of the total. This number is pressed by the US to rise in the years to come.

According to The Guardian, Trump takes more than $1tn in taxpayer money and allocates $750bn to the military. In other words, out of every taxpayer dollar, 62 cents go to the military and Department of Homeland Security and seven cents to Veterans affairs. It leaves just 31 cents for all the rest: education, job training, community economic development, housing, safe drinking water and clear air, health and science research and the prevention of war through diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

The Trump budget finds vast billions for militarization, while it cuts "smaller" poverty alleviation projects and other programs, claiming the goal is to save money.

Rutherford Institute's founder and director John W. WhiteHead writes in his institute's website that the American nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments. He remarks:

"Don't be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs".

He writes "you know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government's fiscal year? Government agencies – including the Department of Defense – go on a 'use it or lose it' spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year".

"We are talking about $97 billion worth of wasteful spending"

He maintains that the nation's educational system is pathetic, the infrastructure is antiquated and growing more outdated by the day and the health system is overpriced and inaccessible to those who need it most.

The tax cuts on super-rich, outflow of huge sums in interest payment for debt and more spending are plunging the US economy into a new crisis, according to many authors. The US economy faces a deficit which means the spending especially on military and defence is far exceeding the tax revenues.

In 2017, US spent US$ 685,957 billion with 3.6 of its GDP on military spending while the UK stood second at US$ 55,237 billion with 2.1 per cent of GDP. France and Germany allocated US$ 45,927 billion and 45,472 billion respectively with 1.8 and 1.2 percent of their GDPs. The NATO member states are pressured for raising their defense spending to 2 percent and gradually up to 4 percent in five years.

According to a study regarding world powers' overseas military bases

In other words, the US possesses up to 95 per cent of the world's military bases . The Department of Defense says that its locations include 164 countries. Put another way, it has a military presence of some sort in approximately 84 percent of the nations on this planet.

The US Military Bases Abroad Are Disrupting the World Order

The annual cost of deploying US military personnel overseas, as well as maintaining and running those foreign bases, tops out at an estimated US$ 150 billion annually. The US bases abroad cost upwards of US$ 50 billion only for building and maintenance, which is enough to address pressing needs at home in education, health care, housing and infrastructure.

In 2017 and 2018, the world's largest military spenders were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India. The UK took over France as sixth largest spender in 2018 while Japan and Germany stood at eighth and ninth positions.

In early 2018, Pentagon released a report saying that Afghan war costs US$ 45 billion to taxpayers in the preceding year. Of this amount, US$ 5 billion has been spent on Afghan forces, US$ 13 billion towards US forces in Afghanistan and the rest on economic aid.

But these costs are far lower than the time when the US military was highly engaged in Afghanistan. With nearly 100,000 soldiers in the country from 2010 to 2012, the price for American taxpayers surpassed US$ 100 billion each year. For now, there are around 16,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars have gone into Afghanistan, the US admits it failed in war against militants in Afghanistan.

In November 2018, another study published by CNBC reported that America has spent US$ 5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001 including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The study also reveals that more than 500,000 people have been killed in the wars and nearly 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.

The US has reportedly spent US$ 1.07 trillion in Afghanistan since 2001 which include Overseas Contingency Operations funds dedicated to Afghanistan, costs on the base budget of the Department of Defense and increase to the budget of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

In Afghanistan, the US costs of war in 2001 commenced with US$ 37.3 billion that soared to US$ 57.3 billion in 2007 and US$ 100 billion in 2009. The year with record spending was 2010 with US$ 112.7 billion that slightly plummeted to US$ 110.4 billion in 2011 but took downwards trend in the later years.

Due to skyrocketing military costs on the US government, Trump Administration recently decided to pack up some of its military bases in Afghanistan and Middle East to diminish expenditures, though it doesn't mean the wars would end at all.

According to Afghanistan Analysts Network, the US Congress has appropriated more than US$ 126 billion in aid for Afghanistan since financial year 2002, with almost 63 percent for security and 28 percent for development and the remainder for civilian operations, mostly budgetary assistance and humanitarian aid. Alongside the US aid, many world countries have pumped millions of dollars in development aids, but what is evident for insiders and outsiders is that a trickle of those funds has actually gone into Afghanistan's reconstruction.

With eighteen years into Afghan war, the security is deteriorating; Afghan air force is ill-equipped; poppy cultivation is on the rise; roads and highways are dilapidated or unconstructed; no mediocre hospital and health care has been established; weekly conflict causalities hit 150-250; electricity is still imported from Central Asian countries; economy remains dependent upon imports; unemployment rate is at its peak; more than three quarters of population live under poverty line and many, many more miseries persist or aggravate.

The US boasts of being the largest multi-billion dollar donor for Afghanistan, but if one takes a deeper look at the living standards of majority and the overall conditions, it can be immediately grasped that less than half of that exaggerated fund has been consumed. The US-made government of Afghanistan has deliberately been left behind to rank as the first corrupt country in the world. Thanks to the same unaddressed pervasive corruption, a hefty amount of that fund has been either directed back to the US hands or embezzled by senior Afghan officials.

Afghanistan's new Living Conditions Survey shows that poverty is more widespread today than it was immediately after the fall of Taliban regime, or in other words, in the early days of US invasion.

Next month, Kabul will host a Consultative Loya Jirga attended by around 2,000 representatives from Afghanistan which will cost the Afghan Ministry of Finance AF 369 million (equivalent to five million US$). Even as the past has proved that these events are only symbolic and further complicating the achievement of peace, a country with great majority under poverty line doesn't deserve to organize such costly gatherings.

*

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

Masud Wadan is a geopolitical analyst based in Kabul. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Salon.com

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Masud Wadan , Global Research, 2019

[May 14, 2019] Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Ce

May 14, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski Part II By Janelle Velina Global Research, May 08, 2019 Region: Asia Theme: History , Intelligence , US NATO War Agenda In-depth Report: AFGHANISTAN

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina , April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of "Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War". While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western 'left', whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union's demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. The original "moderate rebel"

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden , a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America's "boogeyman", Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a " peace warrior " and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent . Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as "moderate rebels" by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States' regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes , "a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.' geopolitical will abroad." Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another -- if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of "mutually assured destruction", the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism's ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union. And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene. Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from " behind the scenes " and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American "boots-on-the-ground", much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA -- a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former 'Soviet bloc' countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba'athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria's oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women's rights as an important part of the Ba'athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba'athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies -- Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA's anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups' anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba'ath party as their 'archenemy', and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

[Brzezinski]: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country's wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration -- knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence -- continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to "step up" its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a "Stalinist" or a "Soviet apologist", which are akin to labels such as "Russian agent" or "Assadist" being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as "revolutionary freedom fighters" and given a romantic, exoticized "holy warrior" makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, "This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan"; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as "savages" and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth .

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths , "The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants," (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed , but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office . Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were "freedom fighters"; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States "pulling the strings" all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan's standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention -- which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan's presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington's global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue's signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as "freedom fighters" is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as "freedom fighters" able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA's use of 'soft-power' schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet "radical leftist activists" and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely "leftist"-sounding language and given a more "hip", "humanitarian", "social justice", "free thinker" appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist "oppression theory" or "privilege theory" to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with 'leftist' leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea's Struggle for Freedom :

"U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries." (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad -- namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid "dissidents" in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this "soft power" tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed "dissidents" in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan -- which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan's public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED's founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, "activists", academics, and writers who presented themselves as "radical leftists" and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it -- which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These "soft power" schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as "peace warriors" while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an "invasion" or "aggression" marked the beginning of the regular use of "humanitarian" pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also "humanitarian" pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine into the Charter -- which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation's sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening -- with more naked aggression -- starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo . In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this "humanitarian" intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns -- which were tantamount to slander and libel -- were the claims that the Serbs were " committing genocide " against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism's scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former 'Soviet bloc' and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the 'final nail in the coffin' of whatever 'Soviet influence' was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the "Afghan trap" question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah's presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation's still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan's army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia's president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished 'failed state', serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the "Afghan trap" did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur , Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the "trap":

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

[Brzezinski]: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul's explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn't much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

United States War Crimes. A Historical Review

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union's economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the 'detente' that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan's hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people "did the Soviet Union in."

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised "peace". When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was "shameful".

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union's demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev's impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real "trap", it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end -- not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union's economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership -- from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev -- because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world's gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis' military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives : an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to "project forces over long distances", helping it to assert its global domination and impose its "political will". And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism -- an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as "the Afghan trap", but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States' steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called "moderate rebels" in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia's economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar , which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as "revolutionaries" to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said , "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past." Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit . American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards "de-Dollarization," as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies -- whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market -- even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out -- which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can "project forces over long distances," the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western "left" that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan's colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone -- in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of "moderate rebels" propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

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Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here .

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org . She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com .

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training. The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Janelle Velina , Global Research, 2019

[May 14, 2019] How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

Notable quotes:
"... Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise. ..."
"... Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

How Madeleine Albright Got the War the U.S. Wanted By Gregory Elich Global Research, May 13, 2019 Region: Europe , USA Theme: History , US NATO War Agenda

Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war.

The talks opened on February 6, 1999, in Rambouillet, France. Officially, the negotiations were led by a Contact Group comprised of U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill , European Union envoy Wolfgang Petritsch , and Russian diplomat Boris Mayorsky . All decisions were supposed to be jointly agreed upon by all three members of the Contact Group. In actual practice, the U.S. ran the show all the way and routinely bypassed Petritsch and Mayorsky on essential matters.

Ibrahim Rugova , an ethnic Albanian activist who advocated nonviolence, was expected to play a major role in the Albanian secessionist delegation. Joining him at Rambouillet was Fehmi Agani , a fellow member of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright regularly sidelined Rugova, however, preferring to rely on delegation members from the hardline Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had routinely murdered Serbs, Roma, and Albanians in Kosovo who worked for the government or opposed separatism. Only a few months before the conference, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled out his organization's vision of a future Kosovo as separate and ethnically pure:

"The independence of Kosovo is the only solution We cannot live together. That is excluded." [i]

Image result for kosovo liberation army

Source: Independent Balkan News Agency

Rugova had at one time engaged in fairly productive talks with Yugoslav officials, and his willingness to negotiate was no doubt precisely the reason Albright relegated him to a background role. Yugoslav Minister of Information Milan Komnenić accompanied the Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet. He recalls,

"With Rugova and Fehmi Agani it was possible to talk; they were flexible. In Rambouillet, [KLA leader Hashim] Thaçi appears instead of Rugova. A beast." [ii]

There was no love between Thaçi and Rugova, whose party members were the targets of threats and assassination attempts at the hands of the KLA. Rugova himself would survive an assassination attempt six years later.

The composition of the Yugoslav delegation reflected its position that many ethnic groups resided in Kosovo, and any agreement arrived at should take into account the interests of all parties. All of Kosovo's major ethnic groups were represented in the delegation. Faik Jashari , one of the Albanian members in the Yugoslav delegation, was president of the Kosovo Democratic Initiative and an official in the Provisional Executive Council, which was Yugoslavia's government in Kosovo. Jashari observed that Albright was startled when she saw the composition of the Yugoslav delegation, apparently because it went against the U.S. propaganda narrative. [iii] Throughout the talks, Albright displayed a dismissive attitude towards the delegation's Albanian, Roma, Egyptian, Goran, Turkish, and Slavic Muslim members.

U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia.

After arriving at Rambouillet, the secessionist Albanian delegation informed U.S. diplomats that it did not want to meet with the Yugoslav side. Aside from a brief ceremonial meeting, there was no direct contact between the two groups. The Yugoslav and Albanian delegations were placed on two different floors to eliminate nearly all contact. U.S. mediators Richard Holbrooke and Christopher Hill ran from one delegation to the other, conveying notes and verbal messages between the two sides but mostly trying to coerce the Yugoslav delegation. [iv]

Luan Koka, a Roma member of the Yugoslav delegation, noted that the U.S. was operating an electronic jamming device.

"We knew exactly when Madeleine Albright was coming. Connections on our mobile phones were breaking up and going crazy." [v]

It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private.

Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone.

"She had her task, and she saw only that task. You couldn't say anything to her. She didn't want to talk with us and didn't want to listen to our arguments." [vi]

One day it was Koka's birthday, and the Yugoslav delegation wanted to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere with U.S. mediators, inviting them to a cocktail party to mark the occasion.

"It was a slightly more pleasant atmosphere, and I was singing," Koka recalled. "I remember Madeleine Albright saying: 'I really like partisan songs. But if you don't accept this, the bombs will fall.'" [vii]

According to delegation member Nikola Šainović ,

"Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'" Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii]

From the beginning of the conference, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill "decided that what we really needed was an Albanian approval of a document, and a Serb refusal. If both refused, there could be no further action by NATO or any other organization for that matter." [ix] It was not peace that the U.S. team was seeking, but war.

As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern.

On the second day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the Yugoslav delegation with the framework text of a provisional agreement for peace and self-rule in Kosovo, but it was missing some of the annexes. The Yugoslavs requested a copy of the complete document. As delegation head Ratko Marković pointed out,

"Any objections to the text of the agreement could be made only after an insight into the text as a whole had been obtained."

Nearly one week passed before the group received one of the missing annexes. That came on the day the conference had originally been set to end. The deadline was extended, and two days later a second missing annex was provided to the Yugoslav delegation.[x]

When the Yugoslavs next met with the Contact Group, they were assured that all elements of the text had now been given to them. Several more days passed and at 7:00 PM on February 22, the penultimate day of the conference, the Contact Group presented three new annexes, which the Yugoslavs had never seen before. According to Marković, "Russian Ambassador Boris Mayorsky informed our delegation that Annexes 2 and 7 had not been discussed or approved by the Contact Group and that they were not the texts drafted by the Contact Group but by certain Contact Group members, while Annex 5 was discussed, but no decision was made on it at the Contact Group meeting." The Yugoslav delegation refused to accept the new annexes, as their introduction had violated the process whereby all proposals had to be agreed upon by the three Contact Group members. [xi]

At 9:30 AM on February 23, the final day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the full text of the proposal, containing yet more provisions that were being communicated for the first time. The accompanying note identified the package as the definitive text while adding that Russia did not support two of the articles. The letter demanded the Yugoslav delegation's decision by 1:00 PM that same day.[xii] There was barely time enough to carefully read the text, let alone negotiate. In essence, it was an ultimatum.

Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states:

"The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles."

Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region.

Twitter and the Smearing of Corbyn and Assange: A Research Note on the "Integrity Initiative"

The document called for a Western-led Joint Commission including local representatives to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the plan. However, if commission members failed to reach consensus on a matter, the Western-appointed Chair would have the power to impose his decision unilaterally. [xiv] Local representatives would serve as little more than window-dressing for Western dictate, as they could adopt no measure that went against the Chair's wishes.

The Chair of the Implementation Mission was authorized to "recommend" the "removal and appointment of officials and the curtailment of operations of existing institutions in Kosovo." If the Chair's command was not obeyed "in the time requested, the Joint Commission may decide to take the recommended action," and since the Chair had the authority to impose his will on the Joint Commission, there was no check on his power. He could remove elected and appointed officials at will and replace them with handpicked lackeys. The Chair was also authorized to order the "curtailment of operations of existing institutions." [xv]Any organization that failed to bend to U.S. demands could be shut down.

Chapter 7 of the plan called for the parties to "invite NATO to constitute and lead a military force" in Kosovo. [xvi]The choice of words was interesting. In language reminiscent of gangsters, Yugoslavia was told to "invite" NATO to take over the province of Kosovo or suffer the consequences.

Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii]

The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air.

The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii]

The agreement guaranteed that NATO would have "complete and unimpeded freedom of movement by ground, air, and water into and throughout Kosovo." Furthermore, NATO personnel could not be held "liable for any damages to public or private property." [xxiii] NATO as a whole would also be "immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal," regardless of its actions anywhere on the territory of Yugoslavia. [xxiv]Nor could NATO personnel be arrested, detained, or investigated. [xxv]

Acceptance of the plan would have brought NATO troops swarming throughout Yugoslavia and interfering in every institution.

There were several other objectionable elements in the plan, but one that stood out was the call for an "international" (meaning, Western-led) meeting to be held after three years "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo."[xxvi] It was no mystery to the Yugoslav delegation what conclusion Western officials would arrive at in that meeting. The intent was clearly to redraw Yugoslavia's borders to further break apart the nation.

U.S. officials knew the Yugoslav delegation could not possibly accept such a plan.

"We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept," Madeleine Albright confided to a group of journalists, "because they needed a little bombing." [xxvii]

At a meeting in Belgrade on March 5, the Yugoslav delegation issued a statement which declared:

"A great deceit was looming, orchestrated by the United States. They demanded that the agreement be signed, even though much of this agreement, that is, over 56 pages, had never been discussed, either within the Contact Group or during the negotiations." [xxviii]

Serbian President Milan Milutinović announced at a press conference that in Rambouillet the Yugoslav delegation had "proposed solutions meeting the demands of the Contact Group for broad autonomy within Serbia, advocating full equality of all national communities." But "agreement was not what they were after." Instead, Western officials engaged in "open aggression," and this was a game "about troops and troops alone." [xxix]

While U.S. officials were working assiduously to avoid a peaceful resolution, they needed the Albanians to agree to the plan so that they could accuse the Yugoslav delegation of being the stumbling block to peace. U.S. mainstream media could be counted on to unquestioningly repeat the government's line and overlook who the real architects of failure were. U.S. officials knew the media would act in their customary role as cheerleaders for war, which indeed, they did.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed the nature of the message Western officials were conveying to the Albanian delegation when he said,

"We are certainly saying to the Kosovo Albanians that if you don't sign up to these texts, it's extremely difficult to see how NATO could then take action against Belgrade." [xxx]

Western officials were practically begging the secessionists to sign the plan. According to inside sources, the Americans assured the Albanian delegation that disarmament of the KLA would be merely symbolic and that it could keep the bulk of its weaponry so long as it was concealed. [xxxi]

Albright spent hours trying to convince Thaçi to change his mind, telling him:

"If you say yes and the Serbs say no, NATO will strike and go on striking until the Serb forces are out and NATO can go in. You will have security. And you will be able to govern yourselves." [xxxii]

That was a clear enough signal that the intent was to rip the province away from Yugoslavia and create an artificial state. Despite such assurances, Thaçi feared the wrath of fellow KLA members if he were to sign a document that did not explicitly call for separation. When U.S. negotiators asked Thaçi why he would not sign, he responded:

"If I agree to this, I will go home and they will kill me." [xxxiii]

This was not hyperbole. The KLA had threatened and murdered a great many Albanians who in its eyes fell short of full-throated support for its policy of violent secession and ethnic exclusion.

Even NATO Commander Wesley Clark , who flew in from Belgium, was unable to change Thaçi's mind. [xxxiv] U.S. officials were exasperated with the Albanian delegation, and its recalcitrance threatened to capsize plans for war.

"Rambouillet was supposed to be about putting the screws to Belgrade," a senior U.S. official said. "But it went off the rails because of the miscalculation we made about the Albanians." [xxxv]

On the last day at Rambouillet, it was agreed that the Albanian delegation would return to Kosovo for discussions with fellow KLA leaders on the need to sign the document. In the days that followed, Western officials paid repeated visits to Kosovo to encourage the Albanians to sign.

So-called "negotiations" reconvened in Paris on March 15. Upon its arrival, the Yugoslav delegation objected that it was "incomprehensible" that "no direct talks between the two delegations had been facilitated." In response to the Yugoslavs' proposal for modifications to the plan, the Contact Group informed them that no changes would be accepted. The document must be accepted as a whole. [xxxvi]

The Yugoslav position, delegation head Ratko Marković maintained, was that "first one needs to determine what is to be implemented, and only then to determine the methods of implementation." [xxxvii]The delegation asked the Americans what there was to talk about regarding implementation "when there was no agreement because the Albanians did not accept anything." U.S. officials responded that the Yugoslav delegation "cannot negotiate," adding that it would only be allowed to make grammatical changes to the text. [xxxviii]

From the U.S. perspective, the presence of the Yugoslav delegation in Paris was irrelevant other than to maintain the pretense that negotiations were taking place. Not permitted to negotiate, there was little the Yugoslavs could do but await the inevitable result, which soon came. The moment U.S. officials obtained the Albanian delegation's signatures to the plan on March 18, they aborted the Paris Conference. There was no reason to continue engaging with the Yugoslav delegation, as the U.S. had what it needed: a pretext for war.

On the day after the U.S. pulled the plug on the Paris talks, Milan Milutinović held a press conference in the Yugoslav embassy, condemning the Paris meeting as "a kind of show," which was meant "to deceive public opinion in the whole world." [xxxix]

While the United States and its NATO allies prepared for war, Yugoslavia was making last-ditch efforts to stave off attack, including reaching out to intermediaries. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos contacted Madeleine Albright and told her that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević had offered to engage in further negotiations. But Albright told him that the decision to bomb had already been made. "In fact," Pangalos reported, "she told me to 'desist, you're just being a nuisance.'" [xl] In a final act of desperation to save the people from bombing, Milutinović contacted Christopher Hill and made an extraordinary offer: Yugoslavia would join NATO if the United States would allow Yugoslavia to remain whole, including the province of Kosovo. Hill responded that this was not a topic for discussion and he would not talk about it. [xli]

Madeleine Albright got her war, which brought death, destruction, and misery to Yugoslavia. But NATO had a new role, and the United States further extended its hegemony over the Balkans.

In the years following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, NATO was intent on redefining its mission. The absence of the socialist bloc presented NATO not only with the need to construct a new rationale for existence but also with the opportunity to expand Western domination over other nations.

Bosnia offered the first opportunity for NATO to begin its transformation, as it took part in a war that presented no threat to member nations.

Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise.

*

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Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich

[May 14, 2019] US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

US Accuses Iran Of Attack On Saudi Tankers

by Tyler Durden Mon, 05/13/2019 - 19:45 0 SHARES

Update: Just as everyone with half a frontal lobe had expected, the WSJ reported late on Monday that according to an initial U.S. assessment, "Iran was likely behind the attack" on the two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official said, a finding that, whether confirmed or not, will certainly inflame military tensions in the Gulf and likely result in a global proxy war that drags in the US, China and Russia. Oh, and that would be the Persian Gulf for those wondering, not the Gulf of Tonkin, which is where another famous False Flag naval incident occurred.

Furthermore, as we predicted would happen on Sunday, this "official assessment", was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack and follows a series of U.S. warnings against "aggression" by Iran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region. Some more details from the WSJ:

The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, didn't offer details about what led to the assessment or its implications for a possible U.S. response. The U.S. has said in the past week that it was sending an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an antimissile system to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threat to its troops.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We'll see what happens with Iran," President Trump said while meeting with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House earlier on Monday.

The assessment, predictable from a mile away, squares perfectly with CIA veteran Mike Pompeo's warning from just two days before the alleged attack, in which he said that " The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response," the US Secretary of State wrote in a statement warning that Iran should not mistake US "restraint" for a "lack of resolve," and criticizing Iran for "an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks."

Two days later Iran - according to US officials - staged the most brazen attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in years.

Of course, Iran would have to be utterly irrational to provoke such a sequence of events that culminates with a US campaign against it; so irrational in fact, as to be on par with the false flag chemical attacks staged by the "democratic powers" in Syria on various occasions, whose only purpose was to provoke the Trump administration into launching what were ultimately unsuccessful "regime change" air strikes.

That said, at this point we would urge readers to go long Brent call spreads, or outright calls, as it now appears that the Trump administration is fully intent on launching a "limited" military confrontation with Iran. Which, considering that Iran's biggest geopolitical backers are China and Russian, will be anything but limited.

* * *

Despite now near daily anti-Iran bluster coming out of Washington, fueling rising US-Iran tensions, and now with a major "incident" involving the reported "sabotage" attack on Saudi and UAE-docked oil tankers from an unknown perpetrator, leaders in Tehran do not see war on the horizon . Interestingly, the incident involving the Saudi tankers at the Emirates' port of Fujairah on Sunday came a mere days after the US warned that "Iran or its proxies" could attack commercial vessels in the region -- though there's yet to be blame officially cast over the latest mysterious incident.

Instead, Iran does see possible desperate attempts at a Psyop in the works: "The US military forces' deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare . They are not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range," Iranian Parliament's Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari said on Sunday after a closed door session with MPs, according to FARS news agency.

But the specific mention of Israel as being "within our range" marks a significant counter-threat which could easily make war a reality, now also given the Persian Gulf region is on edge after Saudi Arabia said overnight that two of its oil tankers were attacked while headed near the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile the US Department of Energy says it's "monitoring the oil markets, and is confident they remain well-supplied" amid fears there are efforts to "disrupt shipping," according to Bloomberg .

Norwegian oil tanker Andrea Victory, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage attacks." Via the AFP

The Saudis said in the aftermath of the still mysterious incident there was "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels" -- identified by shipping monitors as the Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah . Other tankers were also reported damaged in the UAE's Fujairan port.

Later in the day Monday, images and footage began to appear online via Middle East news sources purporting to show damage from the "sabotage attack" of unknown origin on multiple international vessels.

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And in predictable fashion, the Gulf Sunni dominated Arab League jumped in to back Saudi Arabia's use of "all measures" to safeguard their security, per the AP :

The head of the Arab League has condemned attacks that targeted vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates the previous day, including two Saudi oil tankers, as "criminal acts."

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said in a statement on Monday that these acts are a "serious violation of the freedom and integrity of trade and maritime transport routes."

He says the Arab League stands by the UAE and Saudi Arabia "in all measures taken to safeguard their security and interests."

Senior State Dept. official Brian Hook responded with "no comment" when asked if Iran was to blame for the alleged attacks on the commercial vessels near the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Hours after, President Trump weighed in by warning Iran against any "provocation" or else the country "will suffer greatly" if conflict breaks out with the US. Trump told reporters while meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House :

"We'll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything it'll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything."

Though so far it appears minor, the sabotage incident could signal the start of a Gulf of Tonkin type incident in the Persian Gulf, which would ultimately force Iran into a direct confrontation with the US and its regional allies, given also the ease with which any major event which disrupts shipping -- and impacting global oil markets -- would immediately be blamed on Iran , and uncritically spread through global and western media.

me title=

Seeming to be well aware of such a possibility, Iran on Monday urged caution and even directly suggested the events could be false-flag provocations designed to draw regional enemies into conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday the incidents were "alarming and regrettable," and urged that more details were needed.

He further warned against "plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and called for "vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements ."

via The Daily Mail

Last week the US deployed a carrier strike group to the region and further has a B-52 bomber group monitoring the skies over the Persian Gulf from al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

While the Iran's Revolutionary Guard has also dismissed the recent US military build-up as "nothing but psychological warfare", saying that "the US lacks power and does not dare to start a war against Iran," it has also said its finger is on the trigger, ready to respond to any aggressive acts.

[May 14, 2019] Transcript Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Face the Nation

What is funny is that MARGARET BRENNAN is to the right of Pompeo. That's a real achievement. Pompeo probably was surprised that he was put on the defensive from his right-wing position by this warmongering female neocon.
May 05, 2019 | www.cbsnews.com
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've got the whole world as your portfolio so let's move on to Venezuela and Russia. There was this phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Trump that just happened. The president described it to us in an Oval Office spray. Why didn't he bring up election interference on this phone call when he said he did discuss the findings of the Mueller Report which found sweeping and systematic Russian interference in 2016?

SEC. POMPEO: Well you'll have to ask the White House that question. The president's been very clear. The administration has taken great action. I wish the previous one had stopped the election interference that took place in 2016. They failed to do so. Between 2017 when President Trump came into office and 2018, we had a successful election year, a set of midterm elections. We're working diligently to ensure that the elections in 2020 aren't interfered with by Russia, by Iran, by North Korea or anyone else. We have enormous resource deployed against that challenge. And the American people should be sure that their government is working hard to keep our election safe and secure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said, this week, that Moscow has hundreds of people in Venezuela and you were very clear that you think it was Russia that convinced Nicolas Maduro not to get on a plane and to flee the country. Here's what the president said during his- after his phone call with Vladimir Putin.

*Take SOT*

MARGARET BRENNAN: There seems to be a difference in how the president described the situation and how you and Ambassador Bolton have described it.

SEC. POMPEO: No, no difference, no difference. The- the president has said, I think he in fact tweeted, that the Russians must leave Venezuela. We've asked every nation that is in- interfering with Venezuelan democracy- you've seen this. I- I was down on the border. We saw mothers who couldn't feed their children, fleeing the country. We saw families that had sick kids but couldn't get medicines, all sitting, was sitting within 50 miles of where we were located. And Maduro won't allow it to come in. The president's been very clear, we want the Cubans out. There are Iranians on the ground there. We want the Russians- we want everyone out so that the Venezuelan people can get the democracy they deserve. That includes Mr. Maduro leaving.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So when he says, the president says, "Putin is not looking to get involved at all in Venezuela," that is not the president accepting him at face value?

SEC. POMPEO: You'll- you'll have to leave- you'll have to look at--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He knows that that's not the case?

SEC. POMPEO: The- the president has tweeted that he wants the Russians out of Venezuela.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So he was just putting a positive spin on things in that moment?

SEC. POMPEO: We- we are working very diligently to ensure that Maduro leaves and we get free and fair elections in Venezuela. That will require the 2,300 Cuban security personnel, the- frankly, the people closest to Maduro who are protecting the in- tight security for Maduro, they've got to leave. We're working on that as well. We're working with the Cubans to try and get an outcome that will let the Venezuelans have this opportunity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On this, I know you'll be meeting with the Russian foreign minister in the coming days. Is there a deal to be struck with Russia on this front? I mean, Russia benefits, right, by having Venezuelan oil off the market, by having a level of influence in America's backyard. Is the U.S. going to negotiate a deal with Russia on Venezuela?

SEC. POMPEO: I'll certainly bring up Venezuela, be one of many topics that Foreign Minister Lav- Lavrov and I speak about- speak about. Whether there's a particular deal that can be reached? Only time will tell.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina who I know you know well tweeted this week, "Cuba, Russia sent troops to prop up Maduro in Venezuela while we talk and have sanctions. Where's our aircraft carrier?" He seems to be calling a bluff here on your mention and mention from others that military options aren't off the table. What is actually being considered here because you can't refer to the use of military force lightly. Is there an actual option that you are considering deploying in the coming days?

[May 13, 2019] Crappy little countries

This was true about Iraq war. This is true about Venezuela and Syria.
Notable quotes:
"... In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. ..."
"... Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. ..."
"... Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 . ..."
"... Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.) ..."
Apr 30, 2003 | www.leftbusinessobserver.com

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small c rappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.
- Michael Ledeen , holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Actually, the U.S. had been beating Iraq's head against the wall for a dozen years, with sanctions and bombing. The sanctions alone killed over a million Iraqis, far more than have been done in by weapons of mass destruction throughout history. But Ledeen's indiscreet remark, delivered at an AEI conference and reported by Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online , does capture some of what the war on Iraq is about.

And what is this "business" Ledeen says we mean? Oil, of course, of which more in a bit. Ditto construction contracts for Bechtel. But it's more than that - nothing less than the desire, often expressed with little shame nor euphemism, to run the world. Is there anything new about that?

The answer is, of course, yes and no. In a rather odd article in the London Review of Books , Perry Anderson argued that there wasn't, and wondered aloud why the U.S. war on Iraq had excited such unprecedented worldwide opposition - even, in all places, within the U.S. - when earlier episodes of imperial violence hadn't. Anderson, who's edited New Left Review for years, but who has almost no connection to actual politics attributed this strange explosion not to a popular outburst of anti-imperialism, but to a cultural antipathy to the Bush administration.

Presumably that antipathy belongs to the realm of the " merely cultural ," and is of no great political significance to Anderson. But it should be. U.S. culture has long been afflicted with a brutally reactionary and self-righteous version of Christian fundamentalism, but it's never had such influence over the state. The president thinks himself on a mission from God, the Attorney General opens the business day with a prayer meeting, and the Pentagon's idea of a Good Friday service is to invite Franklin Graham , who's pronounced Islam a "wicked and evil religion," to deliver the homily, in which he promised that Jesus was returning soon. For the hard core, the Iraq war is a sign of the end times, and the hard core are in power.

Lots of people, in the U.S. and abroad, recognize that and are alarmed. And lots also recognize that the Bush regime represents an intensification of imperial ambition. Though the administration has been discreet, many of its private sector intellectuals have been using the words "imperialism" and " empire " openly and with glee. Not everyone of the millions who marched against the war in the months before it started was a conscious anti-imperialist, but they all sensed the intensification, and were further alarmed.

While itself avoiding the difficult word "empire," the Bush administration has been rather clear about its long-term aims. According to their official national security strategy and the documents published by the Project for a New American Century (which served as an administration-in-waiting during the Clinton years) their goal is to assure U.S. dominance and prevent the emergence of any rival powers. First step in that agenda is the remaking of the Middle East - and they're quite open about this as well. We all know the countries that are on the list; the only remaining issues are sequence and strategy. But that's not the whole of the agenda. They're essentially promising a permanent state of war, some overt, some covert, but one that could take decades.

Imperial returns?

Why? The answers aren't self-evident. Certainly the war on Iraq had little to do with its public justifications. Iraq was clearly a threat to no one, and the weapons of mass destruction have proved elusive. The war did nothing for the fight against terrorism. Only ideologues believe that Baghdad had anything to do with al Qaeda - and if the Bush administration were really worried about "homeland security," it'd be funding the defense of ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants rather than starting imperial wars and alienating people by the billions. Sure, Saddam's regime was monstrous - which is one of the reasons Washington supported it up until the invasion of Kuwait. The Ba'ath Party loved to kill Communists - as many as 150,000 according to some estimates - and the CIA's relationship with Saddam goes back to 1959 .

Iraq has lots of oil , and there's little doubt that that's why it was at the first pole of the axis of evil to get hit. (Iran does too, but it's a much tougher nut to crack - four times as big, and not weakened by war and sanctions.)

It now looks fairly certain that the U.S. will, in some form, claim some large piece of Iraq's oil. The details need to be worked out; clarifying the legal situation could be very complicated, given the rampantly illegal nature of the regime change. Rebuilding Iraq's oil industry will be very expensive and could take years. There could be some nice profits down the line for big oil companies - billions a year - but the broader economic benefits for the U.S. aren't so clear. A U.S.-dominated Iraq could pump heavily and undermine OPEC, but too low an oil price would wreck the domestic U.S. oil industry, something the Bush gang presumably cares about. Mexico would be driven into penury, which could mean another debt crisis and lots of human traffic heading north over the Rio Grande. Lower oil prices would be a boon to most industrial economies, but they'd give the U.S. no special advantage over its principal economic rivals.

It's sometimes said that U.S. dominance of the Middle East gives Washington a chokehold over oil supplies to Europe and Japan. But how might that work? Deep production cutbacks and price spikes would hurt everyone. Targeted sales restrictions would be the equivalent of acts of war, and if the U.S. is willing to take that route, a blockade would be a lot more efficient. The world oil market is gigantic and complex, and it's not clear how a tap could be turned in Kirkuk that would shut down the gas pumps in Kyoto or Milan.

Writers like David Harvey argue that the U.S. is trying to compensate for its eroding economic power by asserting its military dominance. Maybe. It's certainly fascinating that Bush's unilateralism has to be financed by gobs of foreign money - and he gets his tax cuts, he'll have to order up even bigger gobs. But it's hard to see what rival threatens the U.S. economically; neither the EU nor Japan is thriving. Nor is there any evidence that the Bush administration is thinking seriously about economic policy, domestic or international, or even thinking at all. The economic staff is mostly dim and marginal. What really seems to excite this gang of supposed conservatives is the exercise of raw state power.

Jealous rivals

And while the Bushies want to prevent the emergence of imperial rivals , they may only be encouraging that. Sure, the EU is badly divided within itself; it has a hard enough time picking a top central banker , let alone deciding on a common foreign policy. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is already semi-apologizing to Bush for his intemperate language in criticizing the war - not that Bush has started taking his calls. But over the longer term, some kind of political unification is Europe's only hope for acting like a remotely credible world power. It's tempting to read French and German objections to the Iraq war as emerging not from principle, but from the wounded narcissism of former imperial powers rendered marginal by American might. Separately, they'll surely hang. But a politically united Europe could, with time, come to challenge U.S. power, just as the euro is beginning to look like a credible rival to the dollar.

(Speaking of the euro, there's a theory circulating on the net that the U.S. went to war because Iraq wanted to price its oil in euros, not dollars. That's grossly overheated speculation. More on this and related issues when LBO begins an investigation of the political economy of oil in the next issue.)

An even more interesting rivalry scenario would involve an alliance of the EU and Russia. Russia is no longer the wreck it was for most of the 1990s. The economy has been growing and the mildly authoritarian Putin has imposed political stability. Russia, which has substantial oil interests in Iraq that are threatened by U.S. control, strongly opposed the war, and at least factions within the Russian intelligence agency were reportedly feeding information unfriendly to the U.S. to the website Iraqwar.ru . There's a lot recommending an EU-Russia alliance; Europe could supply technology and finance, and Russia could supply energy, and together they could constitute at least an embryonic counterweight to U.S. power.

So the U.S. may not get out of Iraq what the Bush administration is hoping for. It certainly can't want democracy in Iraq or the rest of the region, since free votes could well lead to nationalist and Islamist governments who don't view ExxonMobil as the divine agent that Bush seems to. A New York Times piece celebrated the outbreak of democracy in Basra, while conceding that the mayor is a former Iraqi admiral appointed by the British. The lead writers of the new constitution are likely to be American law professors; Iraqis, of course, aren't up to the task themselves.

Certainly the appointment of Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner (Ret.) - one of the few superannuated brass not to have enjoyed a consulting contract with a major TV network - to be the top civilian official guiding the postwar reconstruction of Iraq speaks volumes. A retired general is barely a civilian, and Garner's most recent job was as president of SY Technology , a military contractor that worked with Israeli security in developing the Arrow antimissile system. He loves antimissile systems; after the first Gulf War, he enthused about the Patriot's performance with claims that turned out to be nonsense. He's on record as having praised Israel's handling of the intifada. If that's his model of how to handle restive subject populations, there's lots of trouble ahead.

lightness

In the early days of the war, when things weren't going so well for the "coalition," it was said that the force was too light. But after the sandstorm cleared and the snipers were mowed down, that alleged lightness became a widely praised virtue. But that force was light only by American standards: 300,000 troops; an endless rain of Tomahawks, JDAMs, and MOABs; thousands of vehicles, from Humvees to Abrams tanks; hundreds of aircraft, from Apaches to B-1s; several flotillas of naval support - and enormous quantities of expensive petroleum products. It takes five gallons of fuel just to start an Abrams tank, and after that it gets a mile per gallon. And filling one up is no bargain. Though the military buys fuel at a wholesale price of 84¢ a gallon, after all the expenses of getting it to the front lines are added in, the final cost is about $150 a gallon. That's a steal compared to Afghanistan, where fuel is helicoptered in, pushing the cost to $600/gallon. Rummy's "lightness" is of the sort that only a $10 trillion economy can afford.

The Bush gang doesn't even try to keep up appearances, handing out contracts for Iraq's reconstruction to U.S. firms even before the shooting stopped, and guarding only the oil and interior ministries against looters. If Washington gets its way, Iraq will be rebuilt according to the fondest dreams of the Heritage Foundation staff, with the educational system reworked by an American contractor, the TV programmed by the Pentagon, the ports run by a rabidly antiunion firm, the police run by the Texas-based military contractor Dyncorp , and the oil taken out of state hands and appropriately privatized.

That's the way they'd like it to be. But the sailing may not be so smooth. It looks like Iraqis are viewing the Americans as occupiers, not liberators. It's going to be hard enough to remake Iraq that taking on Syria or Iran may be a bit premature. But that doesn't mean they won't try. It's a cliché of trade negotiations that liberalization is like riding a bicycle - you have to keep riding forward or else you'll fall over. The same could be said of an imperial agenda: if you want to remake the world, or a big chunk of it, there's little time to pause and catch your breath, since doubt or opposition could gain the upper hand. Which makes stoking that opposition more urgent than ever.

Losing it all

There's a feeling around that Bush is now politically invulnerable . Certainly the atmosphere is one of almost coercive patriotism. That mood was nicely illustrated by an incident in Houston in mid-March. A teenager attending a rodeo failed to stand along with the rest of the crowd during a playing of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American," a dreadful country song that has become a kind of private-sector national anthem for the yahoo demographic, thanks to its truculent unthinking jingoism. A patriot standing behind the defiantly seated teen started taunting him, tugging on his ear as an additional provocation. The two ended up in a fight, and then under arrest.

There's a lot of that going around, for sure. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins get disinvited from events, websites nominate traitors for trial by military tribunal, and talk radio hosts organize CD-smashings. But things aren't hopeless. A close analysis of Greenwood's text might suggest why. The song's core argument is contained in its two most famous lines: "I'm proud to be an American/where at least I know I'm free." But the oft-overlooked opening reads: "If tomorrow all the things were gone/I'd worked for all my life," the singer would still be a grateful patriot. That's precisely the condition lots of Americans find themselves in. More than two million jobs have disappeared in the last two years. Millions of Americans have seen their retirement savings wiped out by the bear market, and over a million filed for bankruptcy last year. Most states and cities are experiencing their worst fiscal crises since the 1930s, with massive service cuts and layoffs imminent. In the song, such loss doesn't matter, but reality is often less accommodating than a song.

As the nearby graphs show, W's ratings are much lower than his father's at the end of Gulf War I, and his disapproval ratings much higher. Their theocratic and repressive agenda is deeply unpopular with large parts of the U.S. population. Spending scores of billions on destroying and rebuilding Iraq while at home health clinics are closing and teachers working without pay is potentially incendiary. Foreign adventures have never been popular with the American public (much to the distress of the ruling elite). An peace movement that could draw the links among warmongering, austerity, and repression has great political potential. Just a month or two ago, hundreds of thousands were marching in American streets to protest the imminent war. Though that movement now looks a bit dispirited and demobilized, it's unlikely that that kind of energy will just disappear into the ether.

[May 13, 2019] Not the men we thought we were ...

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box." ..."
"... The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. ..."
May 13, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"... Not the men we thought we were ..."

Newt Gingrich once explained to me whilst sitting in my map room in the Pentagon how it was that Japan decided to go to war against the United States in World War II.

He recounted that the decision had much to do with US embargoes of sales to Japan of strategic commodities such as; scrap steel, rubber and oil. Japan in the late 30s was resource poor and skills rich. The government was then in the hands of a clique of militaristic nationalists intent on winning lebensraum for their island empire. To accomplish that, the Tojo government needed the instruments of war as well as a lack of effective US and British resistance to their ambitions.

The embargoes of the materials needed for Japanese industry were seen by the government as a major obstacle to territorial expansion and a profound indication of the permanent hostility of the United States, a country that was the only other serious Pacific Ocean naval power as well as the possessor of a major land base in the Philippine Islands, then an American territory. With these beliefs as background, the Imperial War Council met in 1941 to consider options. The Navy tended to believe that it could not win a protracted struggle with the US, but the Army insisted that whatever the risk Japan must fight the US to find its place "in the sun." After long discussion the council recommended war to the Emperor in the belief that unless they were willing to fight the US and Britain they "would not be the men they had thought they were."

IMO we are creating an analogous situation in US-Iranian relations. The neocon imperialists present in both parties are riding high in the foreign policy apparatus of the United States. As part of their program of gaining a thinly disguised global hegemony they are steadily squeezing Iran into a smaller and smaller "box."

The abandonment of JCPOA and the demand for a new agreement that would require Iran to abandon any effort to be a regional power is at the core of that effort. The insistence that Hizbullah, Hamas and the IRGC are terrorist groups that may not be maintained or supported is a direct challenge to Iranian sovereignty. As I have previously written, the terrorist designation of these groups makes them legal targets for military action under the US AUMF. Add to these things, the effort to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero and you may well have a situation in which the Iranians decide that they must hit back or accept that they are not the men they thought they were. pl


EEngineer , 13 May 2019 at 11:45 AM

I see the parallels, but not that one. I think the neocons hope to force the Iranians into making that "all-in" call though. Perhaps as the neocons see it, such a strike would magically rally the American populous to the war they so desire. Imperial conquest performed as a defensive reflex. So they needle nearly everyone in the hopes of triggering a replay of the WW2 saga which has taken on a mythical good vs evil aura in the US. Ironically, I would say it is the neocons who think they need to start a war with the Iranians so that they can be the men they think they are. The only thing still holding them back is the passive-aggressive need to make it look like someone, anyone, else started it so they can play the victim card once the body bags start coming home.
Ed Lindgren , 13 May 2019 at 11:51 AM
USN CDR A. H. McCollum was the man who conceived the so-called "Eight Action Plan" which he outlined in his Oct 7, 1940 memo. This was his proposal for the U.S. and Britain to initiate actions which would essentially force Japan into making a decision to wage war against the United States.

The key elements of the plan, as outlined in McCollum's memo, include the following:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

Not too terribly different from the squeeze currently being placed on Iran by the team of Pompeo/Boton.

The text of the McCollum memo can be found here:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/McCollum_memorandum


turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:09 PM
Lindgren

Was this plan approved by Roosevelt? the embargoes had been in effect for some time by then.

blue peacock , 13 May 2019 at 12:21 PM
Col. Lang

It would seem that the best strategic option for Iran is to lay low and absorb the economic squeeze. The Chinese are unlikely to support the oil sanctions, so they'll be able to continue to sell them until the US navy starts to interdict their tankers. But oil is fungible.....

It would also seem that their best military strategy is a defensive one. Obtaining the best air defense systems and significant medium-range missiles with high payload capacity and accuracy. At the very least they'll be able to give a black-eye while going down.

Of course the question is how the Ayatollah controls his fire breathing, martyrdom loving hawks who bristle at their treatment by the US, Israel & the Saudis. My sense is Bibi will get more itchy than the Ayatollah to take advantage of his perception of complete control of Trump.

EEngineer said in reply to blue peacock... , 13 May 2019 at 01:01 PM
I've wondered if the Chinese will use their own tankers to pick up Iranian oil or re-flag Iranian ones with Chinese colors as the US did for Kuwait during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's.

I can see the neocons wanting open conflict with Iran, but I don't know if they would risk war with China.

turcopolier , 13 May 2019 at 12:23 PM
BP Merely logical
Tidewater said in reply to turcopolier ... , 13 May 2019 at 04:15 PM
Sir,

Nice map, I assume it can't be considered a chart. Maps make me think. Anyway, when I heard about the four tankers at Fujairah damaged by "sabotage" I took a look up at Qeshm island in front of Bandar Abbas (it looks to me like a shark) and wondered how far it was down to Fujairah. I get about 140 nautical miles.

I know that there are hardened sub-pens on the land side of Queshm Island probably out to the western end. Recently I have read comments speculating what the Iranian class of mini- or midget subs would be useful for. One learns that one use would be to deliver a sea-mine; another to launch the one torpedo it can carry; and another would be as a transport for naval commandos, or swimmers trained in demolition and mine warfare.

Then I remembered something. I took a look at the last place down on the right side of the map on the Iranian mangrove shore, Trask, once an old fishing port. Trask is also where the pipeline down from the CIS countries will end, and a large refinery, manufacturing, and shipping complex is planned. Since 2008, Trask has been developed for a number of military uses. First as a naval base which berths fast motor patrol boats of the kind that can launch missiles like the Qader, a sea-skimmer carrying a warhead of 200 kilos which can reach out to 186 miles; also as a drone base, complete with a rail launcher which could indicate proficiency in big stay-aloft reconnaisance drones, soon enough to be weaponized, if not already. Significantly, it is also a base for littoral-class submarines, which would include mini-subs design based on the North Korean Yono class, submarines that would be similar to the one that is thought to have sunk the ROKS Cheonan in 2011 with a torpedo. Travelling at nine or ten knots, the Iranian model of the Yono, the Ghadir, could make the crossing to Fujairah in about twelve hours. That's a distance of 127 miles or so.
It looks to me as if the stern location of the tanker the news videos show would not have been hit unless the ship backed into a mine. And it doesn't look like the kind of damage a naval mine would do. A naval mine would have made an enormous ten or twenty foot cavernous dent in that stern, at the least. What it looks like to me was that a swimmer or swimmers placed a sticky explosive or satchel charge. (?) I think it is meant as a warning. 'We can get you any time..."

There's another message. Fujairah and also the ports of Salalah, Sohar, and Duqm, in Oman, have been billing themselves as "the Gateway to the Arabian Gulf." (For that historical and scholarly insult alone they should pay.) Fujairah is the only one of the UAE that is on the eastern side of the Musandam Peninsula. It has been advertised as the emirate that would not be involved in a Gulf war. Out of range. Think again me buckaroos.

The United States has just signed an agreement in late March with Oman which allows US naval and air forces to use the new state- of-the art port facilities and airport at Duqm, down in the middle of the Oman coast, and also Salalah. Sultan Qaboos, a very impressive leader, one of the best, who happens to be gay (but the father of his country), balances carefully between the various powers he must deal with. Iran is already there in Oman and has the right to establish companies and to store materiel there, and to ship cargoes. Just as Iran does in Qatar, where two hundred trucks come across from Bushire every day and have since June 2017 since Trump the Brain gave the OK to Mohammed Bin Salman to lay siege to Qatar. Consider this: "Sohar Freezone has options for leasing pre-built warehouses and commercial offices, as well as 100% foreign ownership...and a One-Stop-Shop for all relevant permits and clearances." (From Overview--SOHAR Port and Freezone.) As to how you get this cargo to points south, that is an interesting question...

Russia will come in if push comes to shove. Russia will not countenance the idea of an America naval and drone base on the Caspian, which is what will happen if Iran is bombed flat. Russia will second pilots to the Iranians and will send bombers like the Tu-95 Bear or the Backfire capable of carrying the KH-101 which will carry Iranian markings etc. These bombers, with enormous range, could wreck havoc on Diego Garcia, and could destroy a carrier group.

The Iranians show us now that they were the ones who invented the game of chess. Trump can look at China, and then he can look at Fujairah, and he can see the American economy going down... The Iranian move is worthy of a grand master...

eaken , 13 May 2019 at 01:29 PM
Iran should publicly invite Trump to Tehran without his posse.
ted richard , 13 May 2019 at 01:37 PM
If the true goal of the neocons is war, provoked upon Iran then any naval battle group which includes a USA carrier sent into the Persian gulf is the match the neocons are looking for once they decide to ''remember the Maine'' to it sending it to the bottom, then use that false flag as their pretext.

If its obvious to me wouldn't you suppose its obvious to the pentagon?

O'Shawnessey , 13 May 2019 at 01:39 PM
An apt comparison, no doubt, to "The Day of Deceit."

Then there is the high probability that, even if Iran shows restraint and plays the long game, a provocation in the manner of "Assad gasses his own people" will be arranged for them.

Even so, time is not on the side of the US Entity. How much longer can the Fed's fraudulent T-bill scheme keep running? My sense is that they wouldn't be weaponizing the dollar if they had other actual weapons to hand.

Jack , 13 May 2019 at 01:58 PM
Sir

What real choices do the Iranians have? It would be foolish on their part to launch any kind of military action.

catherine , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM

No sooner 'warned' then done. Who did it?

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The reports come as the US warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as the US is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to counter what it called "threats from Tehran".

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/saudi-oil-tankers-sabotaged-ships-uae-coast-190513055332524.html

ancientarcher , 13 May 2019 at 01:59 PM
Exceptionally good argument. I would also posit that the element of religious belief makes the argument even more potent.

I can't help but think back to more recent instances where the neocons were basically daring the other party to do something - anything. Ukraine in 2014 and Syria later on, come to mind. They had been waiting for the Russians to send in their troops to Ukraine after which they could have totally choked the economy. They also waited for mistakes from Assad, which he wisely avoided.

Similarly, Iran will be wise to avoid reacting in any way to these provocations. Since these provocations are meant to provoke a reaction, if the Iranians bite their lips and hold their hands, they would do more to hurt the neocons than by reacting blindly as the situation and their nature perhaps goads them towards.

D , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
I humbly suggest you watch this series. Unfortunately, I don't know Persian so I can't help with translation. I watched these series with my sister in law who is a Persian Jew with an excellent command of Farsi; the videos are pretty informative.

https://youtu.be/LUHY17zF-9g?t=789

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LersWbaymTM
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUHY17zF-9g
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abODp1BeuAg
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePDXnAe_zm4
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNboW6WcC3U

Rocketrepreneur , 13 May 2019 at 03:08 PM
Pat,
I share your concern, but for the neocons I fear that they see that backing Iran into a position where it has nothing to lose with a war is a feature, not a bug.
~Jon
walrus , 13 May 2019 at 03:43 PM
Time is not on America's side

In my opinion, the critical element is the forthcoming deployment of advanced Russian and Chinese systems such as the Sarmat heavy ICBM, scheduled I think for 2021, new submarines, etc., etc. and I am not even talking about joint Russo/sino developments.

As Col. Lang/Gingrich explained, we are talking economics here. But unlike Japan, the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Chinese and associated economies under the stimulus of OBOR are only going to get stronger if left to themselves. The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities, fielding a million man Army and supporting allies like Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Poland, etc. without beggaring its population.

To put that another way, the American economic marvel of military production came off a low base with millions of underemployed work hungry people available as a result of the depression. I don't think those conditions obtain today.

Hence the Washington logic of picking off the weakest of the Axis - Iran, right now.

LJ , 13 May 2019 at 04:09 PM
The chances of war diminished?

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/05/13/from-karbala-to-al-fujairah-an-act-of-sabotage-may-end-prospects-of-a-summer-war-in-the-middle-east/

Eliot , 13 May 2019 at 04:30 PM
Walrus,

"The American economy, in my opinion, is no longer capable of replacing ageing infrastructure, matching Russo Chinese military technical capabilities"

I was in Russia for the first time last summer. I loved it, but I was surprised by how poor they are. Our debt load aside, they have do have more limited resources.

[May 13, 2019] "EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.

May 13, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 11, 2019 9:07:12 PM | link

< Iranian FM Zarif> said the following on Thursday :

"EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe -- and rest of world -- for a year and EU can only express 'regret'.
Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations - incl normalization of economic ties."

Khamenei's Twitter's been silent. Machine translation of what Rouhani Tweeted on the 7th :

"Iran has no obligation to keep its enrichment of uranium reserves and its produced absinthe. = = = = Iran = = = = the following acts of Iran will be in Iran if they can't fulfill their obligations in the day and supply the interests of Iran. The win-win conditions will be agreed."

Otherwise, lots of silence due to VE-Day celebrations. Syrian operations in Hama and Idlib are going very well.

Here's my Wednesday comments about Iranian and Russian statements about Iran's JCPOA announcements that weren't twisted by BigLie Media.

Uncle Jon , May 12, 2019 12:57:07 AM | link

@ Hoarsewhisperer 73

Javad Zarif put it best: "Negotiations and treaties are not about trust, but about respecting your signature".

[May 13, 2019] Pompeo is a real piece of work

There were some reports quoted in Alexander Mercouris has a much rosier view of Trump's intentions that the US military brass are vigorously apposed to the Bolton and Pompeo efforts to provoke war against Iran. The Pentagon has found its niche pounding upon third world countries which can't defend themselves, and that's not Iran.
May 12, 2019 | www.unz.com

Republic , says: May 12, 2019 at 11:37 am GMT

@El Dato

Pompeo is a real piece of work

This thug is Secretary of State. He doesn't do diplomacy, he only issues threats.

follyofwar , says: May 12, 2019 at 12:58 pm GMT
@Republic Seems that Pomp-ass Pompeo is from the Queen Hitlary school of diplomacy.
KA , says: May 12, 2019 at 1:02 pm GMT
@Endgame Napoleon Americans probably don't understand Russia. Americans don't even mostly understand their own history. "

and they inquire why they hate us .

Don Bacon | May 11, 2019 11:56:00 AM | 23

@ ToivoS 16

the US military brass are vigorously apposed to the Bolton and Pompeo efforts to provoke war against Iran.

Yes, for the reasons I noted in my 4 above. The Pentagon has found its niche pounding upon third world countries which can't defend themselves, and that's not Iran. The recent US defeats in Iraq and Syria also sent a message. So the Pentagon is now content with aerial bombing of Afghanistan and Somalia while spending big bucks to (supposedly) contend with Russia and China, which of course is also out of the question when it comes to execution.

The Pentagon materiel acquisition system is riddled with corruption and poor management, the army is handicapped by low recruiting, drugs and obesity, the navy suffers from performance and maintenance problems, and the air force has been decimated by personnel problems and by an overly zealous procurement of useless F-35 prototypes. So bombers dropping bombs on villages in poor countries is as far as the Pentagon can go.

Taffyboy | May 11, 2019 5:07:56 PM | 62

On May 14/2019 Pompeo is to meet Lavrov in Sochi! ..."Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Putin and Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in Sochi on May 14 to “discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges.” Before that, he will meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow."...

A messenger boy on the errant trip overseas from his handlers. Something to tell in person, mano a mano no less.

..."“On May 13, he will arrive in Russia to meet with his team at U.S. Embassy Moscow before meeting with U.S. business leaders and U.S. exchange alumni. Secretary Pompeo will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said."... That's rich, a nobody faces an unknown.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/443071-pompeo-to-travel-to-russia-meet-with-putin-next-week

Anyway...have a pleasant weekend, sir(B).

[May 12, 2019] I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

May 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

frances , May 11, 2019 7:35:12 PM | link

< reply to>
" https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/iran-may-have-the-s-400-in-all-but-name-what-russia-really-delivered-in-2016-and-why-it-matters "
Posted by: RenoDino | May 11, 2019 4:23:36 PM | 58

Excellent article! I have wondered for some time why the US was so reluctant to shell Iran, surely the US could protect Israel and after all, the US have shelled just about everyone in the neighborhood.

NOW I better understand their reluctance. Even if the possible Iranian S-400 are few in number, if they are shown to be as capable as they are believed to be, it is game over for US military sales and that is the bread, butter and gold of the empire.

[May 12, 2019] Trump about to dump Bolton caucus99percent

May 12, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

Speaking of getting led around by the nose, we come to one Gina Haspel's great deceptions. This deception plays directly into the hands of Russiagaters. This woman, supposedly brought into CIA leadership in order to demolish the agency, is proving quite adept in perpetuating its reign of terror. Again, we have a neocon undermining Trump's prestige and authority.

[May 12, 2019] Gina Haspel Conned Trump with British Lies into Expelling Russian Diplomats over Skripal Case

Apr 17, 2019 | larouchepub.com

(EIRNS) -- The New York Times ran a story yesterday titled, "Gina Haspel Relies on Spy Skills To Connect with Trump. He Doesn't Always Listen." Based on interviews with former and current CIA agents who worked with CIA Director Haspel (but not interviewing her), the Times praises her skills and attempts to denigrate Trump, but they also retail a story about her and Trump which could cost Haspel deeply.

Following the March 2018 breaking of the Skripal poisoning story in England, the Times writes, Trump had initially "written off the poisoning as part of legitimate spy games, distasteful but within the bounds of espionage." Haspel, on the other hand, was backing London's demand for Trump to blame Russia immediately and expel dozens of Russian diplomats.

Writes the Times:

"During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy CIA director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the President that the 'strong option' was to expel 60 diplomats.

"To persuade Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the conversation, officials including Ms. Haspel also tried to show him that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of Russia's attack.

"Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives."

This appeal reportedly swayed Trump to go along with Haspel's advice.

If it sounds like the British "White Helmet" terrorists in Syria faking pictures of children being hit with chemical weapons to convince Trump to bomb Syrian targets, it is indeed precisely the same.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray, an outspoken critic of these British imperial lies and atrocities, posted a response today to the Times garbage on his blog. He states first that yet another truth behind the Skripal lies was revealed recently by police, acknowledging that "the perfume bottle Charlie Rowley found was sealed and could not have been the container used on the Skripals." He goes on: "It took nine months for us to learn that, by a truly wonderful coincidence, the first person to find the Skripals ill on the bench was the Chief Nurse of the British Army."

But on the Haspel story in the Times, Murray is furious. "The problem is," he writes,

"there were no hospitalized children. No children have been reported as becoming ill following their duck feeding with the Skripals. We have heard from one of the parents that they were shown by the police extremely clear [closed-circuit surveillance] CCTV footage of the duck feeding, which has never been made public. Surely if the child had been hospitalized, the parent would have mentioned it?"

He quotes Dr. Stephen Davies of Salisbury Hospital, who wrote to the New York Times on March 14 stating clearly that no children had been hospitalized, and that every person who came to the hospital fearing they had been contaminated had no symptoms and tests turned out negative. Murray states:

"We also know that the duck feeding was the time that Boshirov and Petrov [the alleged Russian culprits] were physically closest to the Skripals. But this is the first time there has ever been any mention of any harm to the ducks. Dead ducks would have been noticed by the public."

It appears that the British Empire is the dead duck in this myth.

[May 11, 2019] Soros is the stanch defender and promoter of neoliberalism. He specializes and excels in using nationalism for destabilization of societies, especially in Soviet and post-Soviet space

Notable quotes:
"... Soros was instrumental in the collapse of the USSR due to the incompetence of Gorbachov and his clique of neoliberal reformers some of which later became part of Yeltsin entourage (Alexander Yakovlev, Yegor Gaidar, later the architect of the "shock therapy" reforms, Eduard Shevardnadze, etc). Their attempt to establish the second NEP ( which created a caste of "Komsomol bankers", like Khodorkovsky) went out of control and buried the already weakened USSR along with the splash of nationalism (by-and-large induced by the West) in all Soviet republics. ..."
Jul 16, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

likbez , July 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Matt,

You are all over the place, but let's return to Soros. Soros is a neoliberal, a staunch proponent of globalization. BTW Karl Popper was the member of Mont Perelin Society ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Pelerin_Society ). You can't get more neoliberal than that.

Neoliberalism as "Trotskyism for rich" is determined to install neoliberal regimes in all countries, if necessary by force, or subversion ("color revolutions" model. )

The accusation of totalitarianism is a standard neoliberal practice for governments they do not like, especially those who are not very friendly to multinationals.

Soros was instrumental in the collapse of the USSR due to the incompetence of Gorbachov and his clique of neoliberal reformers some of which later became part of Yeltsin entourage (Alexander Yakovlev, Yegor Gaidar, later the architect of the "shock therapy" reforms, Eduard Shevardnadze, etc). Their attempt to establish the second NEP ( which created a caste of "Komsomol bankers", like Khodorkovsky) went out of control and buried the already weakened USSR along with the splash of nationalism (by-and-large induced by the West) in all Soviet republics.

BTW he established the presence in all major Soviet Republics and promoted nationalism like there is no tomorrow, spending tens million of dollars on bribing key intellectuals and policy makers and working in close cooperation with USAID (and even just one million dollars was substantial money during this period and can get you a huge leverage) . Often working in close cooperation with emigrant organizations from the USA and Canada.

Now he complains about rising of ethno nationalism and cultural-nationalism in Europe ;-)

https://www.georgesoros.com/essays/remarks-delivered-at-the-brussels-economic-forum/

[May 11, 2019] Leaked USA s Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela. ..."
"... Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ... ..."
"... intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ... ..."
"... Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ... ..."
"... To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ... ..."
"... Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government." ..."
May 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Leaked: USA's Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/05/2019 - 11:20 2 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via Off-Guardian.org,

A detailed plan from "UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND" dated "23 FEBRUARY 2018" was issued with the title "PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP 'MASTERSTROKE'" and is here presented complete.

This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd , who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM , and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. But this was far more than just a military plan.

It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela.

It instructed SOUTHCOM:

Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ...

intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ...

Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ...

To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ...

Appealing to domestic allies as well as other people inserted from abroad in the national scenario in order to generate protests, riots and insecurity, plunders, thefts, assaults and highjacking of vessels as well as other means of transportation, with the intention of deserting this country in crisis through all borderlands and other possible ways, jeopardizing in such a way the National Security of neighboring frontier nations. Causing victims and holding the Government responsible for them. Magnifying, in front of the world, the humanitarian crisis in which the country has been submitted to."

Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government."<