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Who Rules America ?

A slightly skeptical view on the US political establishment and foreign policy

If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.

From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal

Skepticism -> Political Skeptic

News Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Libertarian Philosophy Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA National Security State
Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Iron Law of Oligarchy Elite Theory Cold War II Pathological Russophobia of the US elite
"Fuck the EU": neocons show EU its real place The Deep State Strzok-gate Neo-conservatism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Two Party System as Polyarchy Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative
Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak Anti Trump Hysteria Trump vs. Deep State Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Syria civil war Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars Color revolutions Demonization of Putin
Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization Anti-globalization movement Neoliberal corruption Neoliberalism and Christianity Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Disaster capitalism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Corporatism New American Militarism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism American Exceptionalism Predator state Obama: a yet another Neocon
Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Corruption of Regulators Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult  Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Groupthink Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Deception as an art form Mayberry Machiavellians Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers War and Peace Quotes
Compradors vs. national bourgeoisie Talleyrand quotes Otto Von Bismarck Quotes Kurt Vonnegut Quotes Somerset Maugham Quotes George Carlin Propaganda Quotes
Overcomplexity of society Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism Key Myths of Neoliberalism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

FDR. speech after the election (1936)

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later. So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

Skepticism is a useful quality that some people naturally possess and other can develop. but it not a panacea.  As such any "Skeptical" or even "Slightly skeptical" paged by definition suffer from "confirmation bias". They postulate that only information that doe snot correlate well with official position is worth presenting.  the reality is more complex than that. This consideration probably should be kept in mind when reading those pages. While they are an excellent tool for destroying propaganda stereotypes it is your own task to integrate your new understanding under some new paradigm. The  central for those pages is the idea that we live in neoliberal society and will continue to live in it for some type despite the crisis it experience now, because there is no viable alternative on the horizon and resurrection of New Deal capitalism is not possible as the countervailing  forces that existed to keep financial oligarchy in check dissipated, and part of them joined the former enemy.  That means  that we live in an unstable society prone to unleashing wars and falling in major crisis (aka Minsky moments). In this sense Financial crisis of 2008 can be called using Churchill's quote  "This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

"Neoliberalism -- the current social system in the USA and most European countries, Japan, Russia and China (with some minor variations) -- is a very interesting ideology, one that does not dare to speak its name ;-). After a triumphal march of neoliberalism in late 80th and early 90th (with the collapse of the USSR as the high point).

The crescendo of Triumphal march of neoliberalism which stated in 1980th was the collapse of the USSR, which happened in 1991, when Soviet elite switched  sides and  preferred to became "entrepreneurs" like their Western counterparts, privatizing  and looting their own country. Communists proved to be very corruptible folk, especially at Nomenklatura level and they like dollars more then their country. 

But neoliberalism entered the major crisis in 2008. The net result was so called Secular Stagnation. The "end of cheap oil" is another factor that guarantee the continuation of Secular Stagnation.  See Peak Cheap Energy.  

This site is slightly skeptical as for long-term viability of Neoliberalism as a social system. At the same time as bad as neoliberal as a social system was/is in comparison with New Deal Capitalism, that does not  mean the coming successor can't be worse.  If there is a way out of this neoliberal mess that was pushed on us since late 70th, I can't see it.

Right now Neoliberalism  is seriously sick and remind me Bolshevism after WWII. Bolshevism lasted almost 50 years after 1945, and do not see why neoliberalism can't last even longer then that as currently there is no viable alternatives'. For example, Russia which neocons try to paint as ne "Great Satan" is a yet another neoliberal state. Just with a different flavor of neoliberalism which reminds Trumps "national neoliberalism".  After the "triumphal march" of neoliberalism over the globe in the late seventies and 80th with the collapse of the USSR. BTW the collapse of Soviet Union was not what neoliberal propaganda teaches us. In essence Soviet elite (aka nomenklatura)  simply changed sides. The collapse of Bolshevism both as an ideology and the society paralleled the collapse of New Deal capitalism in the USA. Like large part of the USA management elite, Soviet nomenklatura became turncoats. And it was the alliance of management elite and trade unions that was at the core of New Deal capitalism. As soon as it collapsed the New Deal capitalism was replaced with neoliberalism.

 But neoliberalism proved to be not a sustainable social system,. It lost traction after 2000 and slides in deep crisis in 2008, the crisis which undermined the neoliberal ideology. That means that after 2008 neoliberalism entered zombie state, much like Soviet communism after WWII.  

Due to neoliberalism the USA is no longer a politically stable country. Political animosity after election of Trump reminds a soft civil war, racial hostility is growing, standards of majority of population are either stagnant or fall, neoliberal globalization (with off shoring and outsourcing) as well as automation leave the young unemployed. Epidemic of narco addiction in the USA (which claims 70K victims a year) remind epidemic of alcoholism in the USSR. Both were caused by desperation of people, who can't get a meaningful well paying job and see no future for themselves and their children. Wealth was redistributed to the few and the level of inequality became dangerously high. The working class falls into drugs and anomie. The wars for sustaining and expanding the neoliberal empire and crushing dissenters from neoliberal dogma never end. Meanwhile infrastructure ages and falls behind that of more advanced nations. Anger grows. As the pie shrinks, someone will have to get less pie. And it is not financial oligarchy, or MIC.

Who would thought that 30 years later the winner of the Cold War will enter the phase of decline which in may respects remind many observers  the decline of the USSR.

I would like to repeat again that this decline started  after the crisis of 2008 (the point at which neoliberal ideology collapsed and was discredited, much like communist ideology was after WWII. Trump election and Brexit were two historical events, after which we can attest that neoliberalism is past its prime and entered the phase of decline.  And this decline  created polarization of the society in which ruling neoliberal elite lost legitimacy in the eyes of common people. This is the problem  which  neoliberal elite tried to hide after 2016 Presidential elections under  the smoke screen of Russiagate (which is essence is a color revolution with the goal of deposing Trump)

The neoliberal ideology  which is, essentially, can  be called "market fundamentalism" was discredited earlier, after global financial crisis of 2008.  Much like communism was after WWII when it became clear that it can't secure the standard of living for its population superior to the standard of living of common people in Western European countries (and even most of the East European countries), which remained under the capitalism.

Paradoxically golden days of capitalism in Western Europe and the USA (which lasted till 79th) were possible only because communist states such as USSR existed, as it served as a powerful deterrent against the restoration of power of financial oligarchy. So it's not surprising that the New Deal Capitalism was dismantled after the USSR collapse. Moor did its duty, moor can go ;-). In other words, the mere existence of the USSR, while was not threat to the Western countries social system,  served as a powerful inhibitor of cannibalistic instincts of the elite in the USA and Western countries. It was communism that helped to secured the dominance of the New Deal capitalism till early 80th.

From this point the standard of living of poor and lower middle class in the West started to slide. The first 20 years, till probably 2000 (dot com crisis) the slide was masked by tremendous technological progress in computers and communications. Still outside top 10-20% of population, the slide of the standard of living and the income is a fact.  Outsourcing and offshoring killed many meaningful, well paying jobs. The new level of automation, possible with modern computers, killed some more. The possibility of cheap transcontinental communications also killed IT jobs and helpdesk type which jobs migrated to India and other countries with cheap and qualified labor force.  so loss of manufacturing jobs was amplified by loss of some segments of white color jobs as well.

While neoliberal think tanks and powerful MSM propaganda machine (in which the word neoliberalism is still a taboo) now try to contain damage, the fatal flaws of neoliberal ideology after 2008 financial collapse are apparent and can't be hidden. The key neoliberal country and the key enforcer of neoliberalism over the globe -- the USA -- entered "secular stagnation" period in economics. It is also is trying to fend off the challenge that China economic growth presents to its world dominance.

Brexit and the election of Trump mean that the protest against neoliberal globalization entered  the political mainstream in the USA in 2016:  Hillary Clinton suffered her electoral fiasco because she was the proponent of neoliberal status quo, the proponent  of neoliberal globalization and the wars for expansion of neoliberal empire, the candidate who promised to kick the neoliberal can down the road. 

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

  Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

From the Chance for Peace address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953. (Regarded as one of the finest speeches of Eisenhower's presidency.)

 

Trump should probably be viewed as a new stage of this decline of American republic (which for a long time is neither democracy not a republic, but a warmongering empire, a new social system of "inverted totalitarism" as Sheldon Wolin called it ). Some trapping of previous "New Deal style" democracy remained, but most of New  deal achievement  such as using trade unions as countervailing social force to check the greed of capital owners was perverted. During elections Trump used to have anti-globalization inclinations -- anathema to neoliberals -- and that's why he was so viciously attacked after he has won; but those inclinations almost completely disappeared after the election. Trumpism which sometimes is defined as "economic nationalism" includes the following (partially intersecting) elements which are anathema to classic neoliberalism:

  1. Rejection of neoliberal globalization. Use of tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing.
  2. Rejection of unrestricted immigration. Vigorous persecution and deportation of illegal immigrants and measures to block their entry (Mexican wall, etc) 
  3. Fight against suppression of wages by multinationals via cheap imported labor. Rejection of the idea of global labor market and unrestricted outsourcing of labor to foreign countries. Legal measures against multinationals who tried to offload major part of workforce abroad. 
  4. Fight against the elimination of meaningful, well-paying jobs in the USA via outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing (which is the essence of neoliberal globalization). Attempts to reverse this trend.
  5. Rejection of wars for enlargement and sustaining of neoliberal empire, especially NATO role as global policemen and wars for Washington client Israel in the Middle East;
  6. Détente with Russia;
  7. More pragmatic relations with Israel and suppression of Israeli agents of influence in congress and government (AIPAC and so called dual citizens problem;
  8. Attempt to reverse the offshoring of manufacturing and labor to China and India, as well as addressing the problem of trade deficit;
  9. Rejection of total surveillance on all citizens;
  10. The cut of military expenses to one third or less of the current level and concentrating on revival on national infrastructure, education, and science.
  11. Abandonment of maintenance of the "sole superpower" status and global neoliberal empire for more practical and less costly "semi-isolationist" foreign policy;
  12. Closing of unnecessary foreign military bases and cutting aid to the current clients.

Of course, the notion of "Trumpism" is fuzzy and different people might include some additional issues and disagree with some listed here, but the core probably remains. Please note that Trump was emasculated by the "deep state" and turned into neocon in foreign policy just three-four months into his presidency.

Still the fact remains: in 2016 financial oligarchy not only failed to put the desired puppet into White House, and was forced to unleash a color revolution against new POTUS ( Russiagate witch hunt is only the tip of the iceberg in this sense) to put him into compliance, or depose him. Neoliberals and neocons also failed with their color revolution as Brennan machinations (As Professor Stephen Cohen noted Russiagate should be renamed to Intelgate) with Steele dossier backfired that they got under fire from Trump supporters.  And both Brennan and FBI Mayberry Machiavellians suddenly from predators became a pray.  Neoliberal Democrats (Clinton wing of Democratic Party, of DemoRats) while managed to preserve political power over the party of suppress Sunders supporters, overplayed their hand with Russiagate and neo-McCarthyism campaign (which was designed to rally nation around the flag) and might face consequences during midterm elections.  Their only hope is help from the Grand Inquisitor, appointed as a part of coup d'état against Trump launched by intelligence agencies (the core of the "deep state"), Mr. Mueller.

This is not the first time the "deep state" tried to depose elected president. JFK was probably the first, Nixon the second and now Trump might be the third. What is new is disappearance of anti-war left and the total conversion under Hillary of Democratic Party into another War Party, the party of militant globalists (which can be a perfect new home for neocons).  Clinton wing of the Democratic Party doesn't want to admit she lost the election because neoliberalism became unpopular among the US electorate.  At the same time "the fifth branch of government" -- the intelligence services proved to be a formidable political force on the US political arena, able to block any attempts to stop feeding and care of military industrial complex. And for this particular reason block any even feeble attempts of rapprochement or cooperation with Russia.

The  country now resembles military camp with war propaganda on all major TV channel and newspapers broadcasted 24 x7.  But the cost of "guns instead of butter" policies are growing: the cost of post 9/11 War project  approaches  $5.6 trillion.  Stolen from ordinary Americans under false pretences (As President Eisenhower noted "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." If even small part of those funds were invested within the country we would have high speed tail between all major cities, or at lease might not be having such frequent deadly crashes of Amtrak trains. Among other useful things like better roads, bridges and airports.

Nostalgia for New Deal Capitalism

While I am openly nostalgic for the New Deal capitalism, I understand perfectly well that currently, there is no viable new alternative to neoliberalism. First of all because as in late 70th "managerial class" became yet another turncoat and allied with capital owners, against workers and middle class.

Still the New Deal remain the most humane form of capitalism invented and our analysis of neoliberalism has distinct New Deal capitalism bias. But we need to understand that the restoration of the New Deal capitalism looks impossible because the social base of it -- the alliance of corporate management and trade union leaders, was destroyed due to the defection of corporate managers to the side of capital owners. This realignment of political power makes possible the restoration of the rule of the financial oligarchy, which happened in late 1980th.

The new coalition of anti-globalization forces that emerged during Trump election campaign is still pretty amorphic political force and is unable to force changes in the society, as easy emasculation of President Trump by the deep state proved to all of us.  but hopefully it will grow and became better organized politically whether within the Republican Party of outside of it.

Neoliberal regime as the social system under which we live

And yes, my friends, like Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it, all of us are living under neoliberal regime at least since 1980, most probably without knowing it.  Current events are much easier to analyze if you use the framework of analyzing neoliberalism as a social system proposed in those pages.  Neoliberalism as a social system replaced the notion of Political party with the collection of neoliberal think tanks, a new class of "professional revolutionaries" who are mercenary political army that fight for the victory of neoliberalism and comprise kind of global Neoliberal International. On interesting nuance is that the idea of "professional revolutionaries" was one of the key innovations  of Bolsheviks and Trotskyites. And we can view neoliberalism as some kind of "Trotskyism for rich." In this  sense this social system is almost as far from real democracy as the USSR one party system. It is something Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". In certain aspects it is even more anti-democratic than the capitalism of the Gilded Age with which it has some uncanny similarities (enforcement of the "Law of Jungles" in labor market by suppression of trade unions and "atomization" of individuals as agent who sells themselves on some kind of marketplace, not as human being) .   As Pope Francis noted neoliberalism in anti-Christian system that despise and demonize poor blaming them as incapable to provide "value" to the marketplace, and ignoring their value as a human beings:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

Another interesting aspect of neoliberalism is the existence of so-called "neoliberal rationality" (compare with the "proletarian mindset" of Bolshevism ). As well as the extent of brainwashing of population into this rationality, especially at the university level (via neoclassical economics). As well as  the level and the sophistication of the use of propaganda which includes a set of neoliberal myths very similar to what were created by Bolshevism. For example, the neoliberal myths of "Free trade", "free market" (why not "fair" in both cases?) , "labor market", "human capital", etc.  In reality, the key idea behind this Potemkin Village-style ideological facade is the redistribution of wealth up toward top 1%  (or even more to the top 0.01%).  Exactly like was the case with Bolshevism, which while proclaiming the false facade of "dictatorship of proletariat" mercilessly suppressed unions and kept 90% of population at the standard of living much lower than in Western and even Eastern Europe. Although not close to starvation which is the ideal of neoliberal "plantation economy" (implemented, for example, by Wal-Mart, with its below subsistence wages), with atomized and isolated from each other "debt slaves."

In other words, there are some striking similarities between Soviet nomenklatura and neoliberal oligarchy, similarities that no objective scholar studying neoliberalism  can ignore. See also Two-Party System as Polyarchy -- "the first after the post system" proved to be ideal for neoliberal regime as it allows financial oligarchy preselect  candidates from both Parties. Effectively  turning the election into expensive staged event -- a grandiose political spectacle, if you wish. but with predicted outcome as stage directors who perform casting are members of a close circle of neoliberal elite -- mostly financial oligarchy.  It could have been adopted by Soviet nomenklatura as well, as it very effectively prevents any real challenges to the existing political regime by pre-selection of two candidates running to the given position and two parties, which are essentially a "soft" and "hard" factions of a single party of financial oligarchy. 

The level of "synchronicity" in coverage of foreign events by neoliberal MSM also reminds me the level typical for Soviet Union. With all MSM repeating the State Department talking points and in general going out their skin be politically correct stooges of the neoliberal regime.

Yet another very interesting aspect of neoliberal regime is the level of public apathy, limited  public discourse and even vocabulary (try to find the word "neoliberal" in WaPo ;-)  as well as epidemic of narco-addition (especially in Rust Belt, which is more severely hit by neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing). Which is not that dissimilar to the epidemic of alcoholism under Bolshevism. When common people see no future for themselves and their children they tend to engage in self-destructing behaviour.   Sheldon Wolin called this approach to suppressing of dissent "inverted totalitarism."

What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism"  has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-). the intent of this set of pages intent is to fight this trend and present a "slightly skeptical" view of this important social phenomenon.  

It is also important to understand that the level of hostility to Trump by the "deep state" is directly connected with three main (and very quickly betrayed) promises that Trump made during elections:

  1. No more neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and industries;
  2. No more wars for expansion of neoliberal empire;
  3. Jobs for all Americans

All three were the direct revision of neoliberal ideology postulates, as well as departure from the "neoliberal rationality".  That's why the counter-attack of both the "Deep State" and neoliberal MSM on Trump was so vicious, with well coordinated set of leaks, appointment of Special Prosecutor (on fake pretext), re-launch of McCarthyism, and campaign of demonization of Trump and his administration in media.  In the level of outrage that writers of Pravda during Stalin "Show Trials" would find  completely in line with their own writings -- they so vividly resembles the attacks on "revisionists" in the USSR during Stalinism, that you may wish to revisit books devoted to those trials  ;-).

Most people do not understand that putsch against Trump is actually tried and true color revolution -- the  first color revolution launched within the USA

What is new in putsch of intelligence services and neoliberal establishment against Trump is presence of classic elements of color revolutions technology. Which were for the first time used within the USA by "neoliberal nomenklatura" to preserve power. Some people call it Purple revolution. The ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power, and if this is not possible to emasculate his for the next four years. Some elements of this technology were previously used probably to depose Nixon. Watergate also involved intelligence agencies (the core of the Deep State) activities directed at the removal of the sitting President. And going back JFK was probably the first President removed by intelligence services.  

Initially color revolution technologies were designed  to topple "unfriendly" to neoliberalism regimes in xUSSR space and "resource nationalists" in the Middle East (as well as against China in Hong Cong). That suggests that after the election of 2016 neoliberals felt a real threat from Trump "revisionism".

Deployment of those technologies does not spell well with the social stability because delegitimization of elected government has lasting negative effects. Just look at Ukraine which was the victim of the most recent "color revolution" experiment. They have now two breakaway regions and the drop of the standard of living of population around 200% or more.  The country also now is a debt slave. In other words when the gin of color revolution is out of the bottle it is not that easy to put it back and the events can turn in the direction not anticipated by the originators of such a color revolution.

See also Neoliberalism


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It's easy to pretend to be a great strategist,
while sitting on the top of the hill,
at the safe distance from the battle in the valley

-- Shota Rustavelli (1172–1216)

[Oct 19, 2018] What happened here that all the neocons like Fred Hiatt and Sen. Lindsey Graham now want the blood of MBS?

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with Jack that when Brennan is writing an op-ed calling for the head of MbS something fishy is up. Kashoggi has had a long career at the heart of Saudi national security power structures. He's no angel. Clearly he touched a nerve to be murdered so openly with no plausible deniability. Or maybe that was intentional. Then....the reaction of the Deep State. Hmm? ..."
"... Please don't get me wrong. Saudi Barbaria has been a corrupting influence for decades and the role they have played in Syria, Libya is not to be condoned. I fully support walking away from our interventionist position in the Middle East and letting the chips fall there. However, I have a deep distrust of Brennan and his motives. I can't put my finger on why the neocons are reacting in this way in light of their previous attitude of ignoring such atrocities or even abetting them. This is raising suspicions. ..."
"... if that is such a common knowledge that host states always bug the guest embassies and consulates, that would mean that Saudis would have to assume that as well, so that they would make sure that these devices were ´blinded´, ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"As for arms sales, someone needs to brief Mr. Trump on the actual results of the promises made to him when he visited Riyadh last year. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution sums it up , "The Saudis have not concluded a single major arms deal with Washington on Trump's watch ." Moreover, an end to supplies of U.S. spare parts and technical support, something Russia cannot provide, would quickly ground the Saudi air force . That would have the welcome effect of ending a bloody bombing campaign in Yemen that a U.N. investigation concluded was probably responsible for war crimes." Washpost

-----------

Once again, I am not a great fan of Bezos or his blog, but two days in a row they have printed something I can agree with. Something has changed for him.

It has become a meme in the blather that runs shrill and shallow in the US media, that Saudi Arabia is a faithful, and indispensable ally of the US in the ME. Bezos disputes this and so do I.

A few points:

Yes, they chop heads off after Friday prayers outside the local mosque. They also do hands and feet. They stone to death women found guilty of adultery. They sew them in bags before the men present throw handy five pound rocks at them. The government is deeply approving of this. Sound familiar? Yes, it should. The jihadis whom the Saudis sponsor in Syria do the same things. The Sunni jihadis are nearly defeated in Syria and it has become clear that the Saudi government has been evacuating their leaders, probably with US connivance, so that they can pursue greater visions of jihad elsewhere.

The importance of Saudi Arabia in the world oil market is IMO now much exaggerated. They can undoubtedly do some damage by manipulating the short term contract (spot) market but this is something they would pay for heavily. The Kingdom is cash strapped. It was not for nothing that MBS turned the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh into a prison for the wealthy including many of his own kin in order to squeeze and in some cases torture them into handing over a lot of their cash to the government. Depressed petro sales at artificial prices will only further reduce revenue to the government.

The notion that Saudi intelligence contributes much to the GWOT is a joke. Saudi intelligence competence is something that exists only in pitchmen's claims voiced by TV touts. In fact, they get almost everything they have from the US and are like greedy baby birds always looking to be fed. They cannot organize a trip to the gold plated toilet. It took 15 of them to ambush Khashoggi, well, OK, 14 of them and a doctor to carry the electric bone-saw.

We need to sell them more equipment that they cannot use? It does not appear to me that any of the contracts that they promised to DJT has been signed. Their technique is simple. Keep the hope of profit for the US alive as leverage.

Lastly, the chimera of a great Arab alliance (a la NATO) is delusory. The Saudis lack both the organizational ability for such a thing and significant military power. They possess one of the world's largest static displays of military equipment. They have neither the manpower nor the aptitude to use such equipment effectively. As I have written previously, the Gulf Arabs have long had such an alliance. It is the GCC and it has never amounted to anything except a venue for the Arab delight in meetings and blather.

The basis for the desire for such an alliance is the Israeli strategic objective of isolating Iran and its allies; Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas with an eventual hope of destroying the Iranian theocracy. Israel is frightened of a possible salvo of many thousands of missiles and rockets into Israel from Lebanon as well as an eventual successful creation of a missile deliverable nuclear weapon by the Iranians. These are real and credible threats for Israel, but not for FUKUS . Israel has only two really valuable counter-value targets; Haifa and Tel Aviv. A hit on one or both with a nuclear weapon would be the end of Israel. The Israelis know that.

Adroit information operations carried out over generations by the Israeli government and its supporters have created in the collective US mind an image of Iran as a disguised 3rd Reich. This was well done. The same operation was run against Iraq with magnificent results from the POV of Israel

Saudi Arabia is a worthless ally. pl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/who-needs-saudi-arabia/2018/10/15/3ebe473c-d0a1-11e8-8c22-fa2ef74bd6d6_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a339b03b5abf


Jack , 2 days ago

Sir

What happened here that all the neocons like Fred Hiatt and Sen. Lindsey Graham now want the blood of MBS? Jamal Kashoggi was apparently a good pal of Osama and an insider who worked for Prince Turki al-Faisal both when he ran Saudi intelligence and when he was in DC. My antenna is up when John Brennan starts writing op-eds. After all he was in Riyadh when Turki was the internal security chief.

Does this have to do with our Deep State? Who may not be happy that MBS has by-passed them with a direct connection through Jared?

We didn't do anything or demand anything when the Saudis sent terrorists to attack us on 9/11. What's changed now with the murder of Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul?

RaisingMac -> Jack , 2 days ago
I'm with Jack. Don't get me wrong: I hate MBS as much as the next man, but I can't say I trust Erdogan or Bezos either. And these days, whenever the WaPo tells me to zig, my instinct tells me to zag. At the very least, I would like to know more about what's really going here before committing myself to one side or the other. Kashoggi, after all, was not just some random 'journalist'. He had intimate contact with, and knowledge of, high-ranking personages in the KSA and beyond. He even knew Osama bin Laden! There could be any number of parties out there in this world who have felt that he knew too much. It's just too early to jump to conclusions.
RaisingMac -> RaisingMac , 2 days ago
Over at Consortium News, Asad Abu Khalil, the 'Angry Arab', has up a good piece arguing that Kashoggi was no reformer. In fact, up until extremely recently, he was doggedly loyal to the régime. As he puts it:

"Western media coverage of Khashoggi's career (by people who don't know Arabic) presents a picture far from reality. They portray a courageous investigative journalist upsetting the Saudi regime. Nothing is further from the truth: there is no journalism in Saudi Arabia; there is only crude and naked propaganda."

https://consortiumnews.com/...

For now, I'm speculating that he simply ended up on the wrong side of MbS' intra-family feud, but I'm open to other theories.

ancient archer -> Jack , 2 days ago
It is very unlikely that the people, who time and time again have been found to lack even a shred of human decency, compassion and fairness, Brennan et al and I include WaPo in that, are now going gaga over the murder of a journo, who had strong links with the power players in the region.

The way that these things have worked out in the media earlier, I think the order has come from higher up to push this incident to damage either the relationship with SA or mbs. I think that keeping this incident hot has also kept the oil price high just before the mid-term elections. surely, a higher oil price hurts trump. that might be a reason for the trump-hating crowd including wapo to discover decency and fairness and other human virtues just right now. very intriguing, this reaction from the MSM.

I note that the British press is not pressing this issue as much, nor is Haaretz. Only the US MSM is pressing this very hard.

TTG -> Jack , 2 days ago
The US and the Brits before us have slavishly courted the Saudi Royals since before WWII. This is a constant through Republican and Democratic administrations. The Trump administration is no exception. Why the murder of one journalist would challenge a half century of established US policy at this time is beyond my understanding. Perhaps it's the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
David Habakkuk -> TTG , 2 days ago
TTG,

Someone from whose writings I have derived a great deal of instruction, as well as amusement, is Vladimir Golstein, a Russian Jewish émigré now in charge of 'Slavic Studies' at Brown University.

I introduce his explanation of the response to the Khashoggi killing, in a 'Facebook' post, not because I think it should be taken as some kind of authoritative truth, but because, as often, Golstein's irreverence is thought-provoking.

The post begins:

'Thank you, Saudi Arabia for exposing the utter hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of British and American gangsta press and equally gangsta establishment.

'You've been at it for a very long time. And it seems that finally you've got it right.'

After providing a long list of Saudi delinquencies, Golstein continues:

'I understand that you began to feel more and more desperate. You sided with Israel against Iran and Syria, and the rest of the world said that it is a moral thing to do and put you on the UN human rights board.

'Well, finally, you hit the right cord. Killing innocent people and abusing your moneyed power by buying newspapers, hotels, city districts or think tanks, was not enough to produce an outrage in the west, but when you whacked another cynical morally corrupt journalist that proved too much for the cynical and morally corrupt western press. They decided to stand up for one of their own.'

This does, I think, point to something rather important. And it leads to the thought that MBS and others may have miscalculated, as a result of an 'hubris' which many in the West have actually encouraged – just as they have a parallel 'hubris' in Israel.

As Golstein, who has a great deal of complex history behind him, can see very clearly, it is an interesting question when the 'sympathy' of Western 'liberals' is and is not actually felt.

What I think MBS may have missed is, quite precisely, the realisation that for people like Tom Friedman the fact that – as Golstein is pointing out – Khashoggi is the same kind of animal as they are means that killing him touches them personally.

Second, he is the kind of figure whom they have, as it were, 'cast' in a 'starring role', in their 'narrative' as to how somehow 'Saudi Barbaria' is going to 'modernise', and in so doing create a Middle East hospitable to a Jewish settler state.

So, in assassinating him, MBS may have unleashed a curious kind of psychological 'maelstrom.'

Barbara Ann -> David Habakkuk , 2 days ago
Jon Schwarz of The Intercept summed up the hypocrisy of the outrage rather well in a humorous tweet:

"I am withdrawing from all ventures with the Saudi government until they go back to killing people I'll never meet at a party"

David Habakkuk -> Barbara Ann , a day ago
Barbara Ann,

I think that is absolutely brilliant.

But, as well as hypocrisy, there is also a basic stupidity.

In fact, if one is reasonably 'worldlywise', one knows that people's sympathies, including one's own, are very often much more limited than they profess to be. We commonly find it much easier to feel the griefs and pain of people whom we see as like ourselves, than we do with those of others.

My own history, ironically, has been a move from finding it relatively easy to sympathise with people who write for the 'New York Times', or the 'Guardian', or the 'New York Review of Books', to finding it really rather difficult.

There is also, however, about so many of these people, an element of sheer stupidity.

Whether one agrees, or disagrees, with 'deplorables' is relevant, but only partly so. Actually, people who would not appear at the kind of 'party' which Jon Schwarz so aptly characterises have a very wide range of views, and I often agree in whole or in part with such people, and also often disagree in whole or in part. It is not a simple matter.

A related but distinct question has to do with common prudence.

People who lock themselves in a kind of bubble of the supposedly 'enlightened' are not only doing the rest of us no favours, but are inherently bound to head off in directions which are liable to be suicidal for themselves.

Prudent élites take the trouble at least to be aware that the world is not controllable by the comfortable people who appear at their dinner parties, and realise that if they persist in trying to persuade themselves that it is, sooner or later their self-delusion will blow up in their faces.

In relation to people like MBS, there is a double stupidity. The problem is not simply that he has been playing to their need to believe that he wants to 'modernise' Saudi Arabia. It is also that they have wanted to believe that such a venture is possible, which it almost certainly is not.

Pat Lang Mod -> Barbara Ann , 2 days ago
I have always been their opponent.
Jack -> David Habakkuk , 2 days ago
David

Yes, Vladimir Golstein has a point. The DC cocktail circuit have been offended as one of their fellow travelers has been offed. If this will lead to a break with Saudi Barbaria that will be good. I'm cynical however. Brennan, et al just want their boy in Riyadh not Jared's buddy.

smoothieX12 . -> Jack , a day ago
Wait until it becomes clear that Israel in actuality negotiates her safety with Russia (it is ongoing as I type this)--that's when the party will start in earnest.
Strawman -> TTG , 2 days ago
"The US and the Brits before us have slavishly courted the Saudi Royals since before WWII."

TTG, as you are doubtless aware, it goes back even further, to early World War I. David Fromkin's seminal 1989 history, "A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (also subtitled Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914–1922)": https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... describes the machinations by British, French, and (later) Americans to play the competing desert chieftains against each other, alternately catering to and dumping unceremoniously each one as political necessity dictated.

Recommended to readers wishing to further appreciate the roots of the irresolvable turmoil that is the modern Middle East.

Pat Lang Mod -> Strawman , 2 days ago
The American oil companies were mere commercial players.
blue peacock -> TTG , 2 days ago
TTG

Yes, there's clearly more than meets the eye. I agree with Jack that when Brennan is writing an op-ed calling for the head of MbS something fishy is up. Kashoggi has had a long career at the heart of Saudi national security power structures. He's no angel. Clearly he touched a nerve to be murdered so openly with no plausible deniability. Or maybe that was intentional. Then....the reaction of the Deep State. Hmm?

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Boringly conspiratorial minded. You people are buying into pro House of Saud propaganda.
blue peacock -> Pat Lang , 2 days ago
Col. Lang

Please don't get me wrong. Saudi Barbaria has been a corrupting influence for decades and the role they have played in Syria, Libya is not to be condoned. I fully support walking away from our interventionist position in the Middle East and letting the chips fall there. However, I have a deep distrust of Brennan and his motives. I can't put my finger on why the neocons are reacting in this way in light of their previous attitude of ignoring such atrocities or even abetting them. This is raising suspicions.

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Suspicion is good. Unwillingness to look at the evidence is not good.
blue peacock -> Pat Lang , 2 days ago
Col. Lang

The evidence I see is that a Saudi citizen who used to be a "regime insider" with high level connections and aligned with the previous head of Saudi intelligence was brutally murdered by Saudi government officials. Turkey leaked this information and in the leaks claim they have audio and video evidence of the murder. John Brennan and other neocons who previously have not only supported but also connived in some of the atrocities committed by the Saudi government are demanding that MbS be held to account.

The question that is nagging me is why are the neocons reacting this way now, considering they have always carried water for the Saudi royals when real dissidents have been routinely executed after show trials?

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Trump has asked the Turks for the surveillance data We will see.
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
USA just wants to get their well guarded ´sources and methods´, and to gain time. Zeit gewonnen ist viel gewonnen say Germans..
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , a day ago
"USA just wants to get their well guarded ´sources and methods´" What does that mean?
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
for example, how did Turks get the audio and possibly video of the deed, the transmission by Apple watch story may be just a red herring, they may have independent sources and methods which the US is not privy to the word ´their´ in my remark intended to say ´Turks´. Sorry about the unclear sentence.
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , a day ago
I thought you Germans were supposed to be smart. You don't understand that MIT, the Turkish intelligence service had bugged the consulate? What part of that do you not understand? Go get some strudel and think about it!
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
hahaha, I will eat it, BUT - if that is such a common knowledge that host states always bug the guest embassies and consulates, that would mean that Saudis would have to assume that as well, so that they would make sure that these devices were ´blinded´, and that would mean that there were other devices which they were not able to ´blind´. Just deep thinking, is that also German trait?
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , 18 hours ago
Sounds like Klarity, a German trait. The Saudis probably lacked the skill to find the Turkish bugs. MIT, the Turkish service are very skilled at installation.
Michael -> TTG , 2 days ago
Maybe this new surprising "moral" attitude has something to do with the mid-terms elections. Yes Saudi Arabia is a kind of traditional commodity platform and surely not an Ally, but DJT did enhance the Saudis status as Partners in his projected Deal of the Century (still not published).

The Khasoghi murder has become the DJT problem and while raising his expression for the outrage has also opened the exit door, and provided a possibility to dilute MBS direct responsibility. Of interest is the Erdogan careful but repeated supply of details.

FB -> Jack , 2 days ago
What 'terrorists' attacked on 911...?...nobody knows what exactly happened on that day, and who was involved...except that the official narrative is total BS...
Pat Lang Mod -> FB , 2 days ago
Rubbish! You are a truther?
FB -> Pat Lang , a day ago
Yes, one could lump me under the dismissive and unflattering epithet of 'truther'...after looking into some of the physical aspects of the matter, the narrative is impossible on grounds of physics...that is not to say I am speculating on who or even the how...which is where we see a lot of tinfoil hat stuff...but I have a solid engineering and aviation background...it could not have happened the way we are told...

[Oct 19, 2018] It appears that somebody tired to create Saudigate out of this insident. This potentially is good news for Iran and Russia. Perhaps not so good for Trump and Saidis. Israel may not be happy

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Oct 18, 2018 12:29:54 AM | link

TheBag @72

The President has authority under the Global Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions against anyone who has committed a human rights violation. Congress has already requested a HR investigation which Trump must act on and report to them within 4 months

It appears my prediction of Saudi gate may be right. This potentially is good news for Iran and Russia. Perhaps not so good for Trump and Saidis. Israel may not be happy. Perhaps his wife's plane troubles were a warning shot to remind him who is boss. Who knows ?

Haleys resignation beginning to make sense now. The House of Trump and House of Saud may soon fall, and Bibi wont be happy losing Trump and MBS. We all know what they are capable of to get things back on track

Why did the media held back on this so for so long?

Yemen (and Gaza).

CGTN & Al-Jazeera are the only global news outlets consistently and regularly reporting on the US facilitated genocides in Yemen and Jewish-occupied Palestine/Gaza.

The never-ending Khashoggi non-mystery mystery keeps Yemen & Gaza out of the Jew-controlled Western Media headlines. Saudi Barbaria and "Israel" are natural allies because each of them is an artificial Western political construct with a cowardly and incompetent military apparatus and an anti-heroic penchant for slaughtering undefended civilians - for psychopathic reasons.
--------
Talking about psychopathy...
Oz's Christian Zionist PM, Sco Mo, is blathering about following Trump's lead and moving Oz's Embassy in "Israel" to Jerusalem. Sc Mo, who has never had an original idea in his life, still hasn't woken up to the fact that Trump's Jerusalem gambit was a trap for Bibi. So it's hilarious that Sco Mo The Unoriginal, is planning to take a flying leap into the same trap!
Anyone with more than half a brain would realise that...
1. No civilised country has followed Trump's lead.
2. Trump can, and will, reverse his (illegal) Jerusalem decision out of a 'new-found respect' for International Law.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 18, 2018 12:14:08 AM | 83

Posted by: JNDillard | Oct 17, 2018 11:59:34 PM | 81


https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-saudi-arabia-payment-20181017-story.html

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 17, 2018 11:19:22 PM | 79

Whoever is ultimately behind this campaign (which I suspect is a loose association of interest groups spread throughout SA, Turkey, London citi, wall street, whoever) they will not stop until MbS is paraded through the streets in chains or at least his head at the end of a lance. At this point the only question how many days will it take to see his head on a pike?

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 17, 2018 11:24:27 PM | 80

"Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it's a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen."

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/mercenaries-assassination-us-yemen-uae-spear-golan-dahlan

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 17, 2018 10:26:46 PM | 77

Posted by: Gary Weglarz | Oct 17, 2018 10:22:19 PM | 76

[Oct 19, 2018] Women's March On The Pentagon Puts The 'Pro' Back In 'Protest' PopularResistance.Org by Cindy Sheehan

Jun 03, 2018 | popularresistance.org
| Resist! Women's March On The Pentagon Puts The 'Pro' Back In 'Protest' 2018-06-03 2018-06-03 https://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2017/12/popres-shorter.png PopularResistance.Org https://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2018/06/womens-march-on-the-pentagon-graphic.jpg 200px 200px

After eight years of the Obama regime expanding the Bush regime's wars from around two to around seven (with very little opposition from the so-called antiwar movement ), the Women 's March on the Pentagon is rebuilding a movement from practically scratch.

We are struggling to not get trapped in the antiwar old ways which never have been truly successful. If the anti-Vietnam war movement, its tactics, and energy were so awesome, then why is the US currently mired so deeply in at least seven wars for Empire with 1000 bases in over 130 countries around the world and continued support for the apartheid, colonial, illegal state of Israel?

We are planning to march on the Pentagon. The Pentagon is not a typical target because many activists are afraid of offending the military despite recognizing that the US military is the largest terrorist organization in the world. We are also having a rally on the 21st of October and are committed to "Occupying" the Pentagon until Veteran's Day, November 11th.

We are also reimagining new ways to state what the Women 's March on the Pentagon is doing.

Yes, we are against the US Empire's perpetual and devastating wars but being "anti" war was never enough. Being "pro" peace is also deficient because peace is just not an absence of war -- it is also the presence of social justice and social safety nets.

WMOP is putting the PRO back in PROtest but before we are PRO-peace, we feel we need to be each of the following. The list that follows is not exhaustive, but it is a good start.

PRO-woman: Every single woman on this planet, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or national origin, is entitled to the same quality of life as wealthy, white women in the USA -- including being free from military occupation (and all the horrors that brings, including rape and the murder of children) and other oppression.

PRO-equality: Every human is entitled to every good thing, including the right to PRO-test wrong things.

PRO-planet: The Pentagon's War Machine is responsible for a hugely disproportionate amount of pollution, waste, environmental degradation and use of fossil fuels. The Pentagon seriously needs to be reduced to a size where it can be drowned in a bucket before we can save human life from extinction on our only planet, our Mother Earth.

PRO-education: Education is a human right and the trillions of dollars spent on active wars and empire maintenance robs our communities and schools from money needed to give our children a high-quality and free education from Pre to University. In all levels, our children should feel safe to attend school without the horrors of mass-shootings and police state oppression.

PRO-gun control: As long as guns, ammunition, bombs and other weapons of murder are taken from the Pentagon and police forces first. Our mothers and grandmothers in occupied lands, inner cities, and other economically disadvantaged areas should not have to worry themselves sick when their young ones leave the home that they will be executed by a killer cop or drone-bombed by the USA. Our sisters in other countries should not have to bury their children, or flee their homes in fear for their lives, because of the US Empire.

PRO-health care: Women bear the burden of ill children and are likely the ones to miss work when a child is ill. Health care must be free and high-quality, but it must also serve families and communities with healthy food, water, air and opportunities for care for ill children (or elderly relatives) when the woman needs or wants to go to work. Health care must be comprehensive and include dental, mental, chiropractic and any other holistic treatment/prevention that is needed/wanted. Prescriptions must be free and no woman/family should have to choose between life-saving medication and/or food.

PRO-labor at a living wage and PRO-basic guaranteed income

PRO-housing/food: In a nation as wealthy as the US, not one person should exist without shelter or healthy and abundant food. Housing and food are human rights, not privileges. Most homeless people work hard, but cannot afford a place to live. 19% of the United States of American children (14 million) go to bed hungry every night in the land of plenty and plenty of waste. These statistics are shameful and abominable but can be changed after the commodification and privatization of everything for profit over people ends.

PRO-redistribution of resources: Ending the Pentagon, the billions of dollars of waste and more than a trillion dollar budget would go a long way to address the horrendous human rights' abuses and fundamental economic crises 2/3 of the people in the US face.

Once there is justice, environmental sustainability, economic equality and celebration of diversity, combined with the end of the US Military Empire, THEN, and only then, will we live in relative peace in our communities and families.

If one woman is living under military occupation, colonial rule, or otherwise oppressed, none of us are free!

Join the Women 's March on the Pentagon!

[Oct 19, 2018] I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question.

Notable quotes:
"... I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question. ..."
"... She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe. ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Seamus Padraig , , October 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question.

She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe.

So, three cheers for Trump embarrassing Merkel on this issue!

[Oct 19, 2018] We make fake news by Maxim Kononenko

Notable quotes:
"... "The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade ... to make sure that their energy does not go to market," ..."
Oct 04, 2018 | kononenkome.livejournal.com

The spoken word is known to be sticky. The quote tells us "Be careful with your words. Once they're said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten." Especially when it is the word of some high-ranking official. For example, the US Ambassador to NATO, which the day before, according to Reuters, said the following, quoting the Agency: "If Russia does not stop the development of prohibited weapons systems, the US will consider destroying them before they work."

How can you not believe Reuters? Okay there some dubious sources like NYT or WaPo, but it's the most respectable news Agency in the world. The main provider of financial news on the planet -- the type of news for the reliability of which people pay serious money. Because they make important decisions on their basis.

And now the whole world is holding its breath. Especially as days earlier the USA Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proudly declared that the USA can organize sea blockade of Russia (washingtonexaminer.com). "The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade ... to make sure that their energy does not go to market," he said. To prevent the supply of Russian energy resources to the Middle East. It's so scary. The impression is that WWIII is coming as a bunch of crazy lunatics in the USA are hell-bent on destroying Russia.

Suddenly, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, wrote on Twitter that she's not mean. And said only that if Russia will continue to develop their weapons, and the United States will also have to get the same weapons. And on careful reading of the transcript, it becomes clear that she really did not talk about any weapon destruction. But nobody checked.

And for some reason no onein MSM asked the question, and why supplies of Russian energy to the middle East that the Minister of internal Affairs of the United States trying to prevent are needed. Was he talking about gas supplies to Qatar? Or oil to Saudi Arabia? Or whether former Navy SEAL and Congressman Ryan Zinke drink or smoke something really strong.

No, nobody checked anything. Everyone just believed what the media gave us. Because not only is absolutely impossible not to believe Reuters. especially when the whole world is waiting for such fake news. Such news seems natural to the world in light of what is happening. Humanity is waiting for an aggravation, and the press gives mankind an exacerbation. Moreover, all know the fake news are distributed only by the Chinese and the Russians. And the free Western media cannot lie.

Science fiction, philosophers and futurologists have been trying for several decades to predict how the WWIII can begin. And now you and I know how it can start. It can start with the fact that some stupid or corrupt (or both )news agency decides to get more WEB traffic.

That's why probably the creator of WWW Tim Bernes Lee recently announced that he was going to produce alternative which will destroy this old WWW.

And may be for MSM just silence in case you are not sure, and avoiding excessive concern about profitability are somewhat safer. Actually safer for all of us, not just MSM.

[Oct 19, 2018] The demise of Davos in the Desert - TTG

Notable quotes:
"... Last summer, a standoff between Saudi Arabia and Canada gave us a window into how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman deals with critics -- but most of the world looked away. It started with two tweets. On Aug. 2, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote on Twitter that she was alarmed by the detention of Samar Badawi, a Saudi human rights activist whose brother, Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012. Raif Badawi's family lives in Canada. The next day, Global Affairs Canada weighed in, urging Saudi authorities to release civil and women's rights activists. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia was not having it. In a blustery Aug. 6 tweetstorm, the country's Foreign Ministry announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia 24 hours to leave. The state airline said it would stop flying to Toronto. Saudi scholarship students were told to pack their bags. Trade and investment were frozen. ..."
"... Pulling ambassadors and threatening to suspend investment was a "massive overreaction" and offered an important lesson, said Thomas Juneau, assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. "The lesson was that MBS is reckless and completely overreacts to threats," he added, using the crown prince's nickname. ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

18 October 2018 Stevenmnuchinsanctions

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just announced he will not be attending the Future Investment Initiative Summit in Saudi Arabia next week. Obviously he didn't decide this on his own. His announcement stated that this was done after consultation with Trump and Pompeo. Given that this "Davos in the Desert" summit is the brainchild of MbS, this official and personal snub by the Trump administration could be a sign of future sanctions or it could be an effort to get through this crisis with the issuance of a wrist slap. A lot will depend on how MbS reacts. Judging by his reaction to a mean tweet by the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister earlier this year, it would not surprise me if MbS goes ballistic over the collapse of his summit.

***********************

Last summer, a standoff between Saudi Arabia and Canada gave us a window into how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman deals with critics -- but most of the world looked away. It started with two tweets. On Aug. 2, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote on Twitter that she was alarmed by the detention of Samar Badawi, a Saudi human rights activist whose brother, Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012. Raif Badawi's family lives in Canada. The next day, Global Affairs Canada weighed in, urging Saudi authorities to release civil and women's rights activists.

Saudi Arabia was not having it. In a blustery Aug. 6 tweetstorm, the country's Foreign Ministry announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia 24 hours to leave. The state airline said it would stop flying to Toronto. Saudi scholarship students were told to pack their bags. Trade and investment were frozen.

Pulling ambassadors and threatening to suspend investment was a "massive overreaction" and offered an important lesson, said Thomas Juneau, assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. "The lesson was that MBS is reckless and completely overreacts to threats," he added, using the crown prince's nickname. (Washington Post)

***********************

Trump and Pompeo are now pushing for more time for the Saudis to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi, essentially stalling for time. I doubt Pompeo's recent trip to Riyadh and Ankara was a search for the truth. It was a desperate effort to coordinate a way out of this mess and preserve the existing Saudi-US relationship. I'd like to know what Pompeo promised Erdogan in an effort to make this all go away. Was it enough? I doubt it. This situation is absolute gold for Erdogan's dreams of a renewed Ottoman Empire.

How about MbS? Did Pompeo convince him to meekly accept whatever slap on the wrist is on the way? I doubt that as well. The Trump administration pretty much destroyed what was left of "Davos in the Desert." If I had my family stationed in the Kingdom, I'd get them out right now and have my go bag within arm's reach at all times. Without any degree of hyperbole, I predict MbS is about to get medieval on someone's ass someone beyond an aging expatriate reporter. The chessboard of the Middle East may be about to change dramatically. The result will be a lot of crying in Tel Aviv and Washington and a lot of smiling in Ankara and Tehran. And maybe an end to the needless dying and suffering in Yemen.

TTG

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/10/17/saudi-arabias-spat-with-canada-was-lesson-trump-ignored-it/

Posted at 01:17 PM in Middle East , Saudi Arabia , TTG , Turkey | Permalink | 32 Comments

Reblog (0) The killers are associated with MBS Turkish-Flag-Waving-Over-Map-of-Turkey

"On October 16 th , unnamed Turkish officials reportedly provided the Washington Post with scans of passports supposedly carried by seven men who were part of the 15-person team suspected in the disappearance and likely killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The passports add to the public information provided by Turkish officials as it seeks to fill out gaps in the narrative of what purported after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 nd . The Washington Post published the passports, but obscured the names and faces of the suspects, because it reportedly had no time to verify the people's identities.

Turkey maintains that Jamal had been killed and dismembered within the Saudi Arabian consulate. It also claims that a 15-man team dispatched from Saudi Arabia played a major role in the killing. One man from the group is the head of the medical forensics department in the Saudi ministry of interior.

Turkish officials also reportedly confirmed that the 15 names reported in the Daily Sabah are the actual names of the suspects." SF

-----------

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. There is no constitution. There is no legislature. Instead, there is "consultation." There are no laws that are not royal whims or Wahhabi Hanbali Sharia. Ah, no, my bad! There is also 12er Sharia in the Eastern Province for the Shia second class subjects (not citizens) who live there.

Turkey clearly is intent on "outing"Saudi Arabia as the butchers who killed Khashoggi and cut up his body in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, thus preparing it for re-export to The Kingdom.

Why are the Turks doing this? IMO, the Erdogan government wants to establish itself as the leading power in the world Islamic community, the 'Umma. the Ottoman Sultan Caliph was effectively that in Sunni communities and Erdo seeks to "restore" Ottoman times.

Donald Trump has one hell of a problem, largely of his own and Jared's creation, but, to be fair, also the product of 70 years of IMO misguided US insistence that the Saudis were a normal, post Treaty of Westphalia country that thought of the US as an ally rather that an alien entity to be manipulated and deceived whenever possible.

The Turks evidently really have "the goods" on MBS who is effectiely both head of state and head of government in SA. IMO they will drive the evidence home with the world media seeking to force an acknowledgement of their position in the world by Trump. pl

https://southfront.org/suspected-assasinators-of-khashoggi-appears-to-be-from-close-circle-of-saudi-crown-prince/

[Oct 19, 2018] Murder in the Embassy d'Orient Express possibly derails the plans to attack Iran

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Greece , Oct 17, 2018 8:15:04 PM | link

Agatha Christie's
Murder in the Embassy d'Orient Express

It was a dark and rainy afternoon...Jamal, sitting in his favorite Constantinopolitan coffee shop was seeping his Earl Gray tea watching the clouds gathering from afar in Bosporus, watching the impressive Hagia Sophia ancient church monuments in the background. The smells of Musaka and kiofte with red hot tomato sauce from a small tavern down the road were tinkling his nose. As he reaches his phone to call his soon to be Turkish wife, someone approaches khassogi and makes him a deal he can't refuse.

They make clear to him that it would involve him disappearing for ever but with a huge amount of cash to enjoy with his new wife, thus shutting up his mouth about possible details about the 9-11 forever.

(Plausible, Khassogi was no saint, he was photographed being armed with an rpg rolling down a hill along with Bin Laden. In Afghanistan?. He used in the past to write supportive stuff for ISIS or "moderate" head choppers)

They explain the plan to him and it seems it involves a scheme to feed false information to the close environment of Erdogan in order to damage his credibility and also bring Mohammad Bin Salman in a difficult position.

Khassogi is thrilled and he accepts gladilly.

(Plausible, D.Trump needs the new deal with the weapons to be signed which MbS agreed to but now it seems he stalled, D.Trump's/J.Kushner's environment along with Israel also could be needing to get a better control on Aramco's future plans which MbS might be postponing for the time, because these actors have planed new and suprising moves in the global scene)

This entity would also exploit this scheme to the max by discrediting every loud critic against D.Trump/J.Kushner (and Israel over it's alleged cooperation with MbS/Saudi Arabia), and that all soap opera would happen during the final weeks closing November's elections in the US.

(Plausible, timing is suspicius, also D.Trump should know better since he is no idiot)

The plan would involve designing the scheme in a way that false possitives about the truth of the story would regularly surface in the media being fed from the scheming Entity to Erdogan's environment who in their turn would leak out to the regime press (though that would also involve trusted persons in his environment having been sold out to the dark side in order to see him go)
(Plausible, still no body, no video, and a few audio tracks here and there make absolutely no credible truth for anything since fals audio is very easy to be manufactured, plus how can Erdogan explain in detail how he bugged Saudi embassy, since that would also be illegal?)

After the deal is made, Khasoggi played his part and they find a way to whisk him out from somewhere erdogan's people wouldn't be able to surveil. The "evidence" is planted and the soap opera is rolling....


Kadath , Oct 17, 2018 8:18:25 PM | link

given how much of the audio tapes descriptions have been leaked already I think the actual recordings (at least audio and perhaps even the video) will be leaked shortly. I would theorize that if the negotiations between the Saudis and Turkey don't make progress quickly enough Erdogan will leak the full Audio and then threaten to release the video.

However, the real unknown is Trump and the US, Trump & the Republicans need Saudi Arabia to keep oil prices low to prime the US economy, especially if the rumors of a planned strike against Iran in 2019/2020 are true.

I don't see how the US could launch anything against Iran (beyond funding Terrorist attacks) without completely tanking the US/world economy unless they have 100% support of Saudi Arabia (even with their support, I still think an attack against Iran would be a disastrous failure). Even getting rid of MbS would still leave Saudi Arabia with strained relations with the US for years to come (possibly derailing the plans against Iran entirely)

Greece , Oct 17, 2018 8:30:37 PM | link
There were other people at the Embassy during the time going about their bussines, it was working hours. It was also mentioned everybody were hearing screams. Where is their audio/video of what happened? Nobody mentioned that people were being frisked on their way out from the Embassy for their cellphones, and also the alleged team left in a hurry from an exite other than the main entrance where obivously people ussualy com and go. Where is their stuff? Why nothing on the internets about that? Turkey is not on an tottal internet lockdown, yet at least.
So?
psychohistorian , Oct 17, 2018 8:45:47 PM | link
@ Pft who is thinking big enough for the situation....nice

Yes, a major global geo-political shift is taking place and it is like folks say about you not wanting to see how sausage is made.

Pft alluded to blatant exertion and assertion of force which much of the world only sees on TV or in the movies. Since so much effort has been made to normalize such behavior, is there any surprise that might-makes-right continues to be projected by the West?

We are about to see how far the might-makes-right folks are willing to push their inhumane social structure. At the end of WWII there was a semblance of claim to moral high ground and global structures to support furtherance of visions of global peace.....which has all seemed to evolve to myth/facade

How did war become substituted for human growth? When will the West realize its inherent social/economic structure is the problem?

Jen , Oct 17, 2018 8:55:23 PM | link
Greece @ 66:

Ever considered taking up writing spy thriller novels for a living? I think you'd be much better than Ted Bell and my local library stocks his laughable trash tomes.
https://openlettersreview.com/open-letters-review/overkillby-ted-bell

But would our man Jamal not also be smoking a hookah pipe while sipping apple tea through a cube of sugar between his teeth and snacking on some nice baklava?

Plod , Oct 17, 2018 9:03:09 PM | link
mark2 ^^^ A few weeks ago Assad said he'd reached an 'understanding ' with other Arab states... Who were those other Arab states Turkey ? Saudi? Iran we can only guess ! We could all think of many others !

Turks? Iranians? Arabs? Wow. USA education system? Pretty basic schoolboys howlers there. Looks as if we could not "all think of many others".

wagelaborer , Oct 17, 2018 9:15:32 PM | link
I don't know why we are believing the Turk's story, just because it has been spread worldwide by the Mighty Wurlitzer of the corporate media.
If there were 15 Saudis meeting with Khashoggi at the Embassy, why do we assume that they were a hit team? Sounds like a joke...how many Saudis does it take to murder one journalist? Maybe it was a negotiation.
The Saudis say that he left the Embassy. The Turks, a week later, say that he didn't, and come up with a serial narrative, doled out daily, which the imperial media spreads, unchallenged, 24/7.
Erdogan doesn't control the world's media.
I remain skeptical.
TheBAG , Oct 17, 2018 9:55:57 PM | link
I agree that the target may be Trump.

This reminds me of Stephen Vincent Benet's short story, "The Devil and Daniel Webster."

The devil (anti-Trump deep state) ostensibly wants to take the soul of Jabez Stone (Mohammad bin Salman) but in reality the devil has his sights on a bigger quarry, Daniel Webster (Trump.)

Axios has just reported a letter signed by 11 senators demanding that Trump disclose his family's financial links to Saudi Arabia.

"It is imperative that this sanctions determination, and U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia generally, are not influenced by any conflicts of interest that may exist because of your or your family's deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia."

My feeling is that if sanctions against Saudi Arabia are approved by Congress, Trump will NOT veto. He has tended to follow the laws made by Congress more than his predecessor did.

On the other hand, how can Congress approve significant financial sanctions against Saudi Arabia? There is too much power and money involved. You think the NRA has power to influence Congress? I expect that congressmen and congresswomen are getting phone calls even as we speak.


[Oct 18, 2018] Student Debt Bondage Becoming More Widespread naked capitalism

Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."

Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.

From the article:

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.

And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.

I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.

What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups

But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:

A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.

It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.

They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.

Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.

______

1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".

Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am

There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/usury

Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am

Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.

The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.

L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.

xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.

https://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.

kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.

Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am

Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.

Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.

Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.

The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.

Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"

Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?

eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Because they think it will help them stay rich?

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

an aristocracy its founders abhorred

Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.

KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am

The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.

For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.

The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.

Our Government did this.

The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.

Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.

Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.

Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.

Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Amazing essay, thank you!

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Admirable and well thought-out post.

I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).

Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.

Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am

I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.

In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.

Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.

Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.

As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:

Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.

It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.

With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.

So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.

It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).

So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.

Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.

redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.

Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.

The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.

The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.

DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?

Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.

Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.

This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.

I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.

Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm

I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.

Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.

One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.

Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .

College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.

It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.

[Oct 18, 2018] Germany Clashes With The US Over Energy Geopolitics

Notable quotes:
"... This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1018 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page , which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we're doing this fundraiser and what we've accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, extending our reach . ..."
"... By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm. Originally published at OilPrice ..."
"... As long as NATO exists, Washington will continue to use it to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia. Merkel foolishly went along with all of Washington's provocations against Russia in Ukraine, even though none of it benefited Germany's national interest. ..."
"... She did indeed go along with all the provocations and she sat back and said nothing while Putin railed against US sanctions. Yet Putin didn't blame Germany or the EU. Instead he said that the Germany/EU is currently trapped by the US and would come to their senses in time. He is leaving the door open. ..."
"... What US LNG exports? The US is a net importer of NG from Canada. US 2018 NG consumption and production was 635.8 and 631.6 Mtoe respectively (BP 2018 Stats). Even the BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy has an asterisks by US LNG exports which says, "Includes re-exports" which was 17.4 BCM or 15 Mtoe for 2018. ..."
"... Natural gas negotiations involve long term contracts so there are lots of money to exchange ensuring business for many years to come. Such a contract has recently been signed between Poland's PGNiG and American Venture Global Calcasieu & Venture Global Plaquemines LNG (Lousiana). According to the Poland representative this gas would be 20% cheaper than Russian gas. (if one has to believe it). Those contracts are very secretive in their terms. This contract in particular is still dependent on the termination of liquefaction facilities in Lousiana. ..."
"... IIRC, the US is pushing LNG because fracking has resulted in a lot of NG coincident with oil production. They've got so much NG coming out of fracked oil wells that they don't know what to do with it and at present, a lot of it just gets flared, or leaks into the atmosphere. ..."
"... So they turn to bullying the EU to ignore the price advantage that Russia is able to offer, due to the economics of pipeline transport over liquefaction and ocean transport, and of course the issues of reliability and safety associated with ocean transport, and high-pressure LNG port facilities compared to pipelines. ..."
"... Trump will probably offer the EU 'free' LNG port facilities financed by low-income American tax-payers, and cuts to 'entitlements', all designed to MAGA. ..."
"... It seems we have been maneuvering for a while to raise our production of LNG and oil (unsustainably) in order to become an important substitute supplier to the EU countries. It sort of looks like our plan is to reduce EU opposition to our attacking Russia. Then we will have China basically surrounded. This is made easier with our nuclear policy of "we can use nuclear weapons with acceptable losses." What could go wrong? ..."
"... The United States should lead by example. Telling Germany not to import Russian gas is rich considering the U.S. also imports from Russia. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2018/07/12/russia-was-a-top-10-supplier-of-u-s-oil-imports-in-2017/ ..."
"... I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question. ..."
"... She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe. ..."
Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1018 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page , which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we're doing this fundraiser and what we've accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, extending our reach .

Yves here. It's not hard to see that this tiff isn't just about Russia. The US wants Germany to buy high-priced US LNG.

By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm. Originally published at OilPrice

The United States and the European Union (EU) are at odds over more than just the Iran nuclear deal – tensions surrounding energy policy have also become a flashpoint for the two global powerhouses.

In energy policy, the U.S. has been opposing the Gazprom-led and highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project , which will follow the existing Nord Stream natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. EU institutions and some EU members such as Poland and Lithuania are also against it, but one of the leaders of the EU and the end-point of the planned project -- Germany -- supports Nord Stream 2 and sees the project as a private commercial venture that will help it to meet rising natural gas demand.

While the U.S. has been hinting this year that it could sanction the project and the companies involved in it -- which include not only Gazprom but also major European firms Shell, Engie, OMV, Uniper, and Wintershall -- Germany has just said that Washington shouldn't interfere with Europe's energy choices and policies.

"I don't want European energy policy to be defined in Washington," Germany's Foreign Ministry State Secretary Andreas Michaelis said at a conference on trans-Atlantic ties in Berlin this week.

Germany has to consult with its European partners regarding the project, Michaelis said, and noted, as quoted by Reuters, that he was "certainly not willing to accept that Washington is deciding at the end of the day that we should not rely on Russian gas and that we should not complete this pipeline project."

In July this year, U.S. President Donald Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that "Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply." Related: The Implications Of A Fractured U.S., Saudi Alliance

"Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline," President Trump said.

Germany continues to see Nord Stream 2 as a commercial venture, although it wants clarity on the future role of Ukraine as a transit route, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said last month.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to bypass Ukraine, and Ukraine fears it will lose transit fees and leverage over Russia as the transit route for its gas to western Europe.

Poland, one of the most outspoken opponents of Nord Stream 2, together with the United States, issued a joint statement last month during the visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda to Washington, in which the parties said , "We will continue to coordinate our efforts to counter energy projects that threaten our mutual security, such as Nord Stream 2."

The United States looks to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the European market, including to Germany , to help Europe diversify its energy supply, which is becoming increasingly dependent on Russian supplies. Related: High Prices Benefit Iran Despite Lost Oil Exports

The president of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), Dieter Kempf, however, told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung last month, that he had "a big problem with a third country interfering in our energy policy," referring to the United States. German industry needs Nord Stream 2, and dropping the project to buy U.S. LNG instead wouldn't make any economic sense, he said. U.S. LNG currently is not competitive on the German market and would simply cost too much, according to Kempf.

The lower price of Russian pipeline gas to Europe is a key selling point -- and one that Gazprom uses often. Earlier this month Alexey Miller, Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee, said at a gas forum in Russia that "Although much talk is going on about new plans for LNG deliveries, there is no doubt that pipeline gas supplies from Russia will always be more competitive than LNG deliveries from any other part of the world. It goes without saying."

The issue with Nord Stream 2 -- which is already being built in German waters -- is that it's not just a commercial project. Many in Europe and everyone in the United States see it as a Russian political tool and a means to further tighten Russia's grip on European gas supplies, of which it already holds more than a third. But Germany wants to discuss the future of this project within the European Union, without interference from the United States.


Alex V , October 18, 2018 at 4:43 am

Thankfully liquefying gas and then reconstituting it uses no additional energy, and transportation into major harbors is perfectly safe.

Capitalism inaction!

Quentin , October 18, 2018 at 6:23 am

Maybe the US thinks it will also have to go out of its way to accommodate Germany and the EU by offering to construct the necessary infrastructure in Europe for the import of LNG at exorbitant US prices. MAGA. How long would that take?

disillusionized , October 18, 2018 at 7:03 am

The question is, is it inevitable that the EU/US relationship goes sour?

Continentalism is on the rise generally, and specifically with brexit, couple this with the geographical gravity of the EU-Russia relationship makes a EU-Russia "alliance" make more sense than the EU-US relationship.

Ever since the death of the USSR and the accession of the eastern states to the EU, the balance of power in the EU-US relationship has moved in ways it seems clear that the US is uncomfortable with.

To all of this we must add the policy differences between the US and the EU – see the GDPR and the privacy shield for example.

I have said it before – the day Putin dies (metaphorically or literally) is a day when the post war order in Europe may die, and we see the repairing of the EU-Russia relationship (by which I mean the current regime in Russia will be replaced with a new generation far less steeped in cold war dogma and way more interested in the EU).

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 1:23 pm

"The post war order in Europe will doe and we see the repairing of the EU/Russian relationship "

I think you mean the German/Russian relationship and that repair has been under way for more than a decade. The post war order is very very frayed already and looks close to a break point.

This Nord Stream 2 story illustrates more than most Germany's attitudes to the EU and to the world at large. Germany used its heft within the EU to 1 ) get control of Russian gas supplies into Central Europe (Germany insisted that Poland could not invest in the project apparently and refused a landing point for the pipeline in Poland. Instead it offered a flow back valve from Germany into Poland that the Germans would control) 2) thumb its nose at the US while outwardly declaring friendship through the structures provided by EU and NATO membership.

Even Obama suspected the Germans of duplicity (the Merkel phone hacking debacle).

It's is this repairing relationship that will set the tone for Brexit, the Ukraine war, relations between Turkey and EU and eventually the survival of the EU and NATO. The point ? Germany doesn't give a hoot about the EU it served its purpose of keeping Germany anchored to the west and allowing German reunification to solidify while Russia was weak. Its usefulness is in the past now, however from a German point of view.

Seamus Padraig , October 18, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Putin dying isn't going to change Washington. As long as NATO exists, Washington will continue to use it to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia. Merkel foolishly went along with all of Washington's provocations against Russia in Ukraine, even though none of it benefited Germany's national interest.

Come to think of it, maybe Merkel dying off would improve German-Russian relations

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm

She did indeed go along with all the provocations and she sat back and said nothing while Putin railed against US sanctions. Yet Putin didn't blame Germany or the EU. Instead he said that the Germany/EU is currently trapped by the US and would come to their senses in time. He is leaving the door open.

Germany won't lose if NATO and the EU break up. It would free itself from a range increasingly dis-functional entities that, in its mind, restrict its ability to engage in world affairs.

Susan the other , October 18, 2018 at 3:02 pm

I think you are right. Russia and Germany are coming together and there's nothing we can do about it because "private commercial venture." Poetic justice.

And the economic link will lead to political links and we will have to learn a little modesty. The ploy we are trying to use, selling Germany US LNG could not have been anything more than a stopgap supply line until NG from the ME came online but that has been our achilles heel.

It feels like even if we managed to kick the Saudis out and took over their oil and gas we still could no longer control geopolitics. The cat is out of the bag and neoliberalism has established the rules. And it's pointless because there is enough gas and oil and methane on this planet to kill the human race off but good.

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm

@Susan

That exactly right. and Gerhard Schroder has been developing those political relationships for more than a decade. The political/economic links already go very deep on both sides.

if the rapprochement is occurring, Brexit, the refugee crisis and Italy's approaching debt crisis are all just potential catalysts for an inevitable breakup. Germany likely views these as potential opportunities to direct European realignment rather than existential crises to be tackled.

JimL , October 18, 2018 at 7:08 am

What US LNG exports? The US is a net importer of NG from Canada. US 2018 NG consumption and production was 635.8 and 631.6 Mtoe respectively (BP 2018 Stats). Even the BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy has an asterisks by US LNG exports which says, "Includes re-exports" which was 17.4 BCM or 15 Mtoe for 2018.

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

The US produces annually about 33,000,000 million cubic feet and consumes 27.000.000 million according to the EiA . So there is an excess to export indeed.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Leaving 6,000,000 million to be exported, until the shale gas no longer flows. How farsighted.

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 7:42 am

Natural gas negotiations involve long term contracts so there are lots of money to exchange ensuring business for many years to come. Such a contract has recently been signed between Poland's PGNiG and American Venture Global Calcasieu & Venture Global Plaquemines LNG (Lousiana). According to the Poland representative this gas would be 20% cheaper than Russian gas. (if one has to believe it). Those contracts are very secretive in their terms. This contract in particular is still dependent on the termination of liquefaction facilities in Lousiana.

I don't know much about NG markets in Poland but according to Eurostat prices for non-household consumers are very similar in Poland, Germany, Lithuania or Spain.

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:36 am

Gas contracts are usually linked to oil prices. A lot of LNG is traded as a fungible product like oil, but that contract seems different – most likely its constructed this way because of the huge capital cost of the LNG facilities, which make very little economic sense for a country like Poland which has pipelines criss-crossing it. I suspect the terminals have more capacity that the contract quantity – the surplus would be traded at market prices, which would no doubt be where the profit margin is for the supplier (I would be deeply sceptical that unsubsidised LNG could ever compete with Russia gas, the capital costs involved are just too high).

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 8:26 am

IIRC, the US is pushing LNG because fracking has resulted in a lot of NG coincident with oil production. They've got so much NG coming out of fracked oil wells that they don't know what to do with it and at present, a lot of it just gets flared, or leaks into the atmosphere.

IMO, the folks responsible for this waste are as usual, ignoring the 'externalities', the costs to the environment of course, but also the cost of infrastructure and transport related to turning this situation to their advantage.

So they turn to bullying the EU to ignore the price advantage that Russia is able to offer, due to the economics of pipeline transport over liquefaction and ocean transport, and of course the issues of reliability and safety associated with ocean transport, and high-pressure LNG port facilities compared to pipelines.

This doesn't even take into account the possibility that the whole fracked gas supply may be a short-lived phenomenon, associated with what we've been describing here as basically a finance game.

Trump will probably offer the EU 'free' LNG port facilities financed by low-income American tax-payers, and cuts to 'entitlements', all designed to MAGA.

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:39 am

Just to clarify, fracked gas is not usually a by-product of oil fracking – the geological beds are usually distinct (shale gas tends to occur at much deeper levels than tight oil). Gas can however be a byproduct of conventional oil production. 'wet' gas (propane, etc), can be a by-product of either.

Synapsid , October 18, 2018 at 11:14 am

PlutoniumKun,

It's common for oil wells both fracked and conventional to produce natural gas (NG) though not all do. The fracked wells in the Permian Basin are producing a great deal of it.

Natural gas does indeed form at higher temperatures than oil does and that means at greater depth but both oil and NG migrate upward. Exploration for petroleum is hunting for where it gets captured at depth, not for where it's formed. Those source rocks are used as indicators of where to look for petroleum trapped stratigraphically higher up.

Steve , October 18, 2018 at 8:53 am

It seems we have been maneuvering for a while to raise our production of LNG and oil (unsustainably) in order to become an important substitute supplier to the EU countries. It sort of looks like our plan is to reduce EU opposition to our attacking Russia. Then we will have China basically surrounded. This is made easier with our nuclear policy of "we can use nuclear weapons with acceptable losses." What could go wrong?

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

What could go wrong?

I wonder what the secret industry studies say about the damage possible from an accident at a LNG port terminal involving catastrophic failure and combustion of the entire cargo of a transport while unloading high-pressure LNG.

They call a fuel-air bomb the size of a school bus 'The Mother of all bombs', what about one the size of a large ocean going tanker?

Anarcissie , October 18, 2018 at 10:46 am

Many years ago, someone was trying to build an LNG storage facility on the southwest shore of Staten Island 17 miles SW of Manhattan involving very large insulated tanks. In spite of great secrecy, there came to be much local opposition. At the time it was said that the amount of energy contained in the tanks would be comparable to a nuclear weapon. Various possible disaster scenarios were proposed, for example a tank could be compromised by accident (plane crashes into it) or terrorism, contents catch fire and explode, huge fireball emerges and drifts with the wind, possibly over New Jersey's chemical farms or even towards Manhattan. The local opponents miraculously won. As far as I know, the disused tanks are still there.

Wukchumni , October 18, 2018 at 10:55 am

This was a fuel-air bomb @ Burning Man about a dozen years ago, emanating from an oil derrick of sorts.

I was about 500 feet away when it went up, and afterwards thought maybe we were a bit too close to the action, as we got blasted with heat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wyc6LTVxhJA

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 10:56 am

Does this page help Watt4Bob?

https://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/LNG/app4.htm

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 2:53 pm

That last one was a doozy as they say!

Nigeria 2005;

A 28-inch LNG underground pipeline exploded in Nigeria and the resulting fire engulfed an estimated 27 square kilometers.

Here's one from Cleveland;

On 20 October 1944, a liquefied natural gas storage tank in Cleveland, Ohio, split and leaked its contents, which spread, caught fire, and exploded. A half hour later, another tank exploded as well. The explosions destroyed 1 square mile (2.6 km2), killed 130, and left 600 homeless.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:54 pm

The locals in Nigeria drill hole in pipeline to get free fuel.

The Nigeria Government has been really wonderful about sharing the largess and riches of their large petroleum field in the Niger delta. Mostly with owners of expensive property around the world.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 9:05 am

I am trying to think of what might be in it for the Germans to go along with this deal but cannot see any. The gas would be far more expensive that the Russian deliveries. A fleet of tankers and the port facilities would have to be built and who is going to pick up the tab for that? Then if the terminal is in Louisiana, what happens to deliveries whenever there is a hurricane?

I cannot see anything in it for the Germans at all. Trump's gratitude? That and 50 cents won't buy you a cup of coffee. In any case Trump would gloat about the stupidity of the Germans taking him up on the deal, not feel gratitude. The US wants Germany to stick with deliveries via the Ukraine as they have their thumb on that sorry country and can threaten Germany with that fact. Nord Stream 2 (and the eventual Nord Stream 3) threaten that hold.

The killer argument is this. In terms of business and remembering what international agreements Trump has broken the past two years, who is more reliable as a business partner for Germany – Putin's Russia or Trump's America?

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 10:20 am

Apart from cost issues, If American companies rely on shale gas to keep or increase production will they be able to honor 20 year supply contracts?

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:37 am

I find it impossible to believe that a gas supplier would keep to an artificially low LNG contract if, say, a very cold winter in the US led to a shortage and extreme price spike. They'd come up with some excuse not to deliver.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 10:40 am

Good question that. Poland has just signed a 20 year agreement with the US so I will be curious how that works out for them. Story at - https://www.rt.com/business/441494-poland-us-gas-lng/

jsn , October 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Trumps argument appears to be that Germany as a NATO member relies on US DOD for defense, to pay for that they must buy our LNG.

jefemt , October 18, 2018 at 9:25 am

My recollection was that there was a law that prohibited export-sales of domestic US hydrocarbons. That law was under attack, and went away in the last couple years?

LNG with your F35? said the transactional Orangeman

Duck1 , October 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm

The fracked crude is ultralight and unsuitable for the refineries in the quantities available, hence export, which caused congress to change the law. No expert, but understand that it is used a lot as a blender with heavier stocks of crude, quite a bit going to China.

oh , October 18, 2018 at 10:01 am

The petroleum industry has been bribing lobbying the administration for quite a while to get this policy in place, The so called surplus of NG today (if there is), won't last long. Exports will create a shortage and will result in higher prices to all.

vidimi , October 18, 2018 at 10:43 am

also, if Germany were to switch to American LNG, for how long would this be a reliable energy source? Fracking wells are short lived, so what happens once they are depleted? who foots the bill?

John k , October 18, 2018 at 12:48 pm

We do. Shortage here to honor export contracts, as has happened in Australia.

Big Tap , October 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

The United States should lead by example. Telling Germany not to import Russian gas is rich considering the U.S. also imports from Russia. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2018/07/12/russia-was-a-top-10-supplier-of-u-s-oil-imports-in-2017/

Seamus Padraig , October 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question.

She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe.

So, three cheers for Trump embarrassing Merkel on this issue!

Unna , October 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Putting money aside for a moment, Trump, as well as the entire American establishment, doesn't want Russia "controlling" Germany's energy supplies. That's because they want America to control Germany's energy supplies via controlling LNG deliveries from America to Germany and by controlling gas supplies to Germany through Ukraine. This by maintaining America's control over Ukraine's totally dependent puppet government. The Germans know this so they want Nord Stream 2 & 3.

Ukraine is an unreliable energy corridor on a good day. It is run by clans of rapacious oligarchs who don't give one whit about Ukraine, the Ukrainian "people", or much of anything else except business. The 2019 presidential election may turn into a contest among President Poroshenko the Chocolate King, Yulia Tymoshenko the Gas Princess, as well as some others including neo Nazis that go downhill from there. What competent German government would want Germany's energy supplies to be dependent on that mess?

It has been said that America's worst geopolitical nightmare is an economic-political-military combination of Russia, Iran, and China in the Eurasian "heartland". Right up there, if not worse, is a close political-economic association between Germany and Russia; now especially so since such a relationship can quickly be hooked into China's New Silk Road, which America will do anything to subvert including tariffs, sanctions, confiscations of assets, promotion of political-ethnic-religious grievances where they may exist along the "Belt-Road", as well as armed insurrections, really maybe anything short of all out war with Russia and China.

Germany's trying to be polite about this saying, sure, how about a little bit of LNG along with Nord Stream 2 & 3? But the time may come, if America pushes enough, that Germany will have to make an existential choice between subservience to America, and pursuit of it's own legitimate self interest.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm

The Empire fights Back.

Study a map of the ME, and consider the silk road Terminii.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm

It's hard to make NG explode, as it is with all liquid hydrocarbons. It is refrigerated, and must change from liquid to gaseous for, and be mixed with air.

I've also worked on a Gas Tanker in the summer vacations. The gas was refrigerated, and kept liquid. They is a second method, used for NG, that is to allow evaporation from the cargo, and use it as fuel for the engine (singular because there is one propulsion engine on most large ships) on the tanker.

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 5:31 pm

I dunno, there are other opinions .

[Oct 18, 2018] Treasury Official Arrested, Charged With Leaking Confidential Info On Ex-Trump Advisers; BuzzFeed Implicated

Oct 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Treasury Official Arrested, Charged With Leaking Confidential Info On Ex-Trump Advisers; BuzzFeed Implicated

by Tyler Durden Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:22 1.3K SHARES

In the latest indication of the Trump administration's efforts to root out alleged leakers, a senior Treasury Department official working in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports to the media concerning former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, according to The Hill .

Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards , a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law. - The Hill

Suspicious Activity Reports are filed by banks in order to confidentially notify law enforcement of potentially illegal financial transactions. The documents leaked by the Treasury official, which began last October, are reported to have been used as the basis for 12 news articles published by an unnamed organization.

While the news organization was not named in the complaint, it lists the headlines and other details of six BuzzFeed articles published between October 2017 to as recently as Monday which they allege were based on the leaks.

BuzzFeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier are commonly listed on several of the articles referenced in the government's complaint. (examples here , here and here ).

Edwards has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of SAR reports and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclousres of SARs. She will be tried in the Southern District of New York, and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on both charges.

When she was arrested, Edwards was in possession of a flash drive which was allegedly used to save the unlawfully disclosed SARs, as well as a cell phone " containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1."

"We hope today's charges remind those in positions of trust within government agencies that the unlawful sharing of sensitive documents will not be tolerated and will be met with swift justice by this Office," said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement.

According to the criminal complaint, agents in the Treasury inspector general's office detected "a pattern" of unauthorized media disclosures of the sensitive financial files beginning in October 2017 and continuing for a year . The disclosures were related to matters being investigated either by special counsel Robert Mueller , the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York or the Justice Department's National Security Division.

They included leaks about suspicious transactions made by Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and Gates, Manafort's longtime business partner who also served on the Trump campaign and the transition team. Both individuals were charged in connection with Mueller's Russia investigation last October with crimes stemming from their foreign lobbying activity. Both have since decided to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller's probe. - The Hill

Could Manafort now make the case that unauthorized media leaks saturating national headlines baised the jury against him?

Edwards is also accused of leaking sensitive financial information regarding Russian national, Maria Butina, who was charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/391061819/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-LJB9WLnO3KUJYXPOAsFe&show_recommendations=true

The alleged leak announced Wednesday would be the second major suspected breach at FinCEN reported this year, after a federal law enforcement official told The New Yorker in May that he leaked SARs on a shell company set up by Michael Cohen , Trump's former attorney, after two similar bank records appeared to be missing from the FinCEN database. - The Hill

Edwards is also accused of sending the reproter internal FinCEN emails, investigative memos and intelligence assessments

[Oct 18, 2018] Skripal and Khashoggi West Manufactures Absurd Fantasy to Pin on Russia, Lets Saudi Get Away With Chopping up WaPo Journalist

Oct 18, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London's case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities . Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months , since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of "evidence", the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, t he Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a "botched interrogation".

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi's body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What's more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat "rogue killers" and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there "will be severe consequences" for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by "rogue killers".

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for "a credible investigation" into the disappearance. But other than "tough-sounding" rhetoric, n one of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "concerned" by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi's killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain's venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: "In Trump's Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out".

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed "Davos in the Desert" by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called "reforming" Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain's rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.


Source: Strategic Culture

[Oct 18, 2018] Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Goes Neocon by Robert W. Merry

Highly recommended!
The truth is that Trump foreign policy was neocon from April 2017 -- first Tomahawk style in Syria. Trump is just yet another neocon, a huge disappointment for people who voted for him in a hope that he might change the US foreign policy and stop foreign wars.
Notable quotes:
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
Oct 15, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The president's equivocating remarks over the defense secretary show that Bolton and Pompeo are indeed winning.

President Trump with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Advisor John Bolton Credit:NATO/Flickr In covering President Donald Trump's recent pregnant comments about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, The Wall Street Journal tucked away in its story an observation that hints at the president's foreign policy direction. In an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes , the president described Mattis as "sort of a Democrat if you want to know the truth" and suggested he wouldn't be surprised if his military chief left his post soon. After calling him "a good guy" and saying the two "get along very well," Trump added, "He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves . That's Washington."

Actually that's Trump. He demands total and utter loyalty from his people and gives none in return. In just his first 14 months as president, he hired three national security advisors, reflecting the unstable relationships he often has with his top aides. Following the 60 Minutes interview, Washington was of course abuzz with speculation about what all this might mean for Mattis's fate and who might be the successor if Mattis were to quit or be fired. It was just the kind of fodder Washington loves -- human drama revealing Trump's legendary inconstancy amid prospective new turmoil in the capital.

But far more significant than Mattis's future or Trump's love of chaos was a sentence embedded in the Journal 's report. After noting that recent polls indicated that Mattis enjoys strong support from the American people, reporter Nancy A. Youssef writes: "But his influence within the administration has waned in recent months, particularly following the arrival of John Bolton as national security adviser and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state."

The significance here is that Bolton and Pompeo represent just about everything Trump ran against during his 2016 presidential campaign. He ran against the country's foreign policy establishment and its rush to war in Iraq; its support of NATO's provocative eastward expansion; its abiding hostility toward Russia; its destabilization of the Middle East through ill-conceived and ill-fated activities in Iraq, Libya, and Syria; its ongoing and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan; and its enthusiasm for regime change and nation-building around the world. Bolton and Pompeo represent precisely those kinds of policies and actions as well as the general foreign policy outlook that spawned them.

Trump gave every indication during the campaign that he would reverse those policies and avoid those kinds of actions. He even went so far, in his inimitable way, of accusing the Bush administration of lying to the American people in taking the country to war in Iraq, as opposed to making a reckless and stupid, though honest, mistake about that country's weapons of mass destruction. He said it would be great to get along with Russia and criticized NATO's aggressive eastward push. He said our aim in Syria should be to combat Islamist extremism, not depose Bashar al-Assad as its leader. In promulgating his America First approach, he specifically eschewed any interest in nation-building abroad.

The one area where he seemed to embrace America's post-Cold War aggressiveness was in his attitude toward Iran. But even there he seemed less bellicose than many of his Republican opponents in the 2016 primaries, who said they would rip up the Iran nuclear deal on their first day in office. Trump, by contrast, said it was a bad deal but one he would seek to improve.

Still, generally speaking, anyone listening to Trump carefully before the election would have been justified in concluding that, if he meant what he said, he would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Now we know he didn't mean what he said, and the latest tiff over the fate of Mattis crystallizes that reality. It's not that Mattis represents the kind of anti-establishment outlook that Trump projected during the campaign; in fact, he is a thoroughgoing product of that establishment. He said Iran was the main threat to stability in the Middle East. He supported sending arms to the Syrian rebels. He decried Russia's intent to "break NATO apart."

Thus any neutral observer, at the time of Mattis's selection as defense secretary, might have concluded that he was more bent on an adventurous American foreign policy than his boss. But it turned out to be just the opposite. There are two reasons for this. First, Mattis is cautious by nature, and he seems to have taken Trump at his word that he didn't want any more unnecessary American wars of choice. Hence he opposed the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prior to Trump's decision to pull America out of it. That action greatly increased the chances that America and Iran could find themselves on a path to war. Mattis also redeployed some military resources from the Middle East to other areas designed to check actions by Russia and China, which he considered greater threats to U.S. security.

And second, it turns out that Trump has no true convictions when it comes to world affairs. He brilliantly discerned the frustrations of many Americans over the foreign policy of the previous 16 years and hit just the right notes to leverage those frustrations during the campaign. But his actual foreign policy has manifested a lack of consistent and strong philosophy. Consider his approach to NATO. During the campaign he criticized the alliance's eastward push and aggressive approach to Russia; then as president he accepted NATO's inclusion of tiny Montenegro, a slap at the Russians; then later he suggested Montenegro's NATO status could force the U.S. into a major conflagration if that small nation, which he described as aggressive, got itself into a conflict with a non-NATO neighbor. Such inconsistencies are not the actions of a man with strong convictions. They are hallmarks of someone who is winging it on the basis of little knowledge.

That seems to have presented a marvelous opportunity to Bolton and Pompeo, whose philosophy and convictions are stark and visible to all. Bolton has made clear his desire for America to bring about regime change in Iran and North Korea. He supported the Iraq war and has never wavered in the face of subsequent events. He has advocated a preemptive strike against North Korea. Pompeo harbors similar views. He favored withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and has waxed bellicose on both Iran and Russia.

Thus a conflict was probably inevitable between Mattis and these more recent administration arrivals. The New York Times speculates that Bolton likely undermined Mattis's standing in Trump's eyes. Writes the paper: "Mr. Bolton, an ideological conservative whose views on foreign policy are more hawkish than those of Mr. Mattis, appears to have deepened the president's suspicions that his defense secretary's view of the world is more like those of Democrats than his own."

The paper didn't clarify the basis of this speculation, but it makes sense. Bolton and Pompeo are gut fighters who go for the jugular. Trump is malleable, susceptible to obsequious manipulation. Mattis is an old-style military man with a play-it-straight mentality and a discomfort with guile. Thus it appears we may be seeing before our eyes the transformation of Trump the anti-establishment candidate into Trump the presidential neocon.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C. journalist and publishing executive, is a writer-at-large for The American Conservative . His latest book is President McKinley: Architect of the American Century .

[Oct 17, 2018] Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9-11 Bombshell-

Oct 17, 2018 | theduran.com

The macabre case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises the question: did Saudi rulers fear him revealing highly damaging information on their secret dealings? In particular, possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001.

Even more intriguing are US media reports now emerging that American intelligence had snooped on and were aware of Saudi officials making plans to capture Khashoggi prior to his apparent disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. If the Americans knew the journalist's life was in danger, why didn't they tip him off to avoid his doom?

Jamal Khashoggi (59) had gone rogue, from the Saudi elite's point of view. Formerly a senior editor in Saudi state media and an advisor to the royal court, he was imminently connected and versed in House of Saud affairs. As one commentator cryptically put it: "He knew where all the bodies were buried."

For the past year, Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile, taking up residence in the US, where he began writing opinion columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi's articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he's known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman.

While Western media and several leaders, such as Presidents Trump and Macron, have been indulging MbS as "a reformer", Khashoggi was spoiling this Saudi public relations effort by criticizing the war in Yemen, the blockade on Qatar and the crackdown on Saudi critics back home.

However, what may have caused the Saudi royals more concern was what Khashoggi knew about darker, dirtier matters. And not just the Saudis, but American deep state actors as as well.

He was formerly a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal, who is an eminence gris figure in Saudi intelligence, with its systematic relations to American and British counterparts. Prince Turki's father, Faisal, was formerly the king of Saudi Arabia until his assassination in 1975 by a family rival. Faisal was a half-brother of the present king, Salman, and therefore Prince Turki is a cousin of the Crown Prince – albeit at 73 more than twice his age.

For nearly 23 years, from 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki was the director of the Mukhabarat, the Saudi state intelligence apparatus. He was instrumental in Saudi, American and British organization of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces. Those militants in Afghanistan later evolved into the al Qaeda terror network, which has served as a cat's paw in various US proxy wars across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Russia's backyard in the Caucasus.

Ten days before the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City, in which some 3,000 Americans died, Prince Turki retired from his post as head of Saudi intelligence. It was an abrupt departure, well before his tenure was due to expire.

There has previously been speculation in US media that this senior Saudi figure knew in advance that something major was going down on 9/11. At least 15 of the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked three commercial airplanes that day were Saudi nationals.

Prince Turki has subsequently been named in a 2002 lawsuit mounted by families of 9/11 victims. There is little suggestion he was wittingly involved in organizing the terror plot. Later public comments indicated that Prince Turki was horrified by the atrocity. But the question is: did he know of the impending incident, and did he alert US intelligence, which then did not take appropriate action to prevent it?

Jamal Khashoggi had long served as a trusted media advisor to Prince Turki, before the latter resigned from public office in 2007. Following 9/11, Turki was the Saudi ambassador to both the US and Britain.

A tentative idea here is that Khashoggi, in his close dealings with Prince Turki over the years, may have gleaned highly sensitive inside information on what actually happened on 9/11. Were the Arab hijackers mere patsies used by the American CIA to facilitate an event which has since been used by American military planners to launch a global "war on terror" as a cover for illegal wars overseas? There is a huge body of evidence that the 9/11 attacks were indeed a "false flag" event orchestrated by the US deep state as a pretext for its imperialist rampages.

The apparent abduction and murder last week of Jamal Khashoggi seems such an astoundingly desperate move by the Saudi rulers. More evidence is emerging from Turkish sources that the journalist was indeed lured to the consulate in Istanbul where he was killed by a 15-member hit squad. Reports are saying that the alleged assassination was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi royal court, which implicates Crown Prince MbS.

Why would the Saudi rulers order such a heinous act, which would inevitably lead to acute political problems, as we are seeing in the fallout from governments and media coverage around the world?

Over the past year, the House of Saud had been appealing to Khashoggi to return to Riyadh and resume his services as a media advisor to the royal court. He declined, fearing that something more sinister was afoot. When Khashoggi turned up in Istanbul to collect a divorce document from the Saudi consulate on September 28, it appears that the House of Saud decided to nab him. He was told to return to the consulate on October 2. On that same day, the 15-member group arrived from Riyadh on two private Gulfstream jets for the mission to kill him.

Official Saudi claims stretch credulity. They say Khashoggi left the consulate building unharmed by a backdoor, although they won't provide CCTV images to prove that. The Turks say their own CCTV facilities monitoring the front and back of the Saudi consulate show that Khashoggi did not leave the premises. The Turks seem confident of their claim he was murdered inside the building, his remains dismembered and removed in diplomatic vehicles. The two private jets left the same day from Istanbul with the 15 Saudis onboard to return to Riyadh, via Cairo and Dubai.

To carry out such a reckless act, the Saudis must have been alarmed by Khashoggi's critical commentaries appearing in the Washington Post. The columns appeared to be delivering more and more damaging insights into the regime under Crown Prince MbS.

The Washington Post this week is reporting that US intelligence sources knew from telecom intercepts that the Saudis were planning to abduct Khashoggi. That implicates the House of Saud in a dastardly premeditated act of murder.

But furthermore this same disclosure could also, unwittingly, implicate US intelligence. If the latter knew of a malicious intent towards Khashoggi, why didn't US agents warn him about going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? Surely, he could have obtained the same personal documents from the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, a country where he was residing and would have been safer.

Jamal Khashoggi may have known too many dark secrets about US and Saudi intel collusion, primarily related to the 9/11 terror incidents. And with his increasing volubility as a critical journalist in a prominent American news outlet, it may have been time to silence him. The Saudis as hitmen, the American CIA as facilitators.

[Oct 16, 2018] Social Justice Warriors Aren't Funny

Notable quotes:
"... The Green Room with Paul Provenza ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

There's an older episode of The Green Room with Paul Provenza when the late Patrice O'Neal, arguably one of the best stand-up comics in recent history, gets serious for a moment, saying: "I love being able to say anything I want. I had to learn how to stop caring about people not laughing. Because the idea of comedy, really, is not everybody should be laughing. It should be about 50 people laughing and 50 people horrified. There should be people who get it and people who don't get it."

O'Neal gets right to the chaotic, trickster heart of comedy with that statement. Comedy at its best balances humor against shock–not necessarily vulgarity, mind you, but a sort of unsettling surprise. It's a topsy-turvy glimpse at an uncanny, upside-down world, which, if the joke lands, provides a bulwark against torpor and complacency. Great comedy inhabits the absurdity of the world. It makes itself into a vantage point from which everything seems delightfully ridiculous, including (often especially) the comedians themselves. We wouldn't need comedy in a world that wasn't absurd. Perhaps that's why Dante only included humor in his Inferno . There is no absurdity in paradise.

Unfortunately, Hannah Gadsby's Nanette , a comedy special recently released on Netflix, only embraces the non-laughter half of O'Neal's dictum. It's the very epitome of self-serious, brittle, didactic, SJW "comedy." It's not funny. And worse, it's not meant to be.

Gadsby, a queer Australian comedian, uses her "stand-up special" as a way to destroy the very medium she pretends to be professionally engaged in. Her basic argument is that, since comedy is by its very nature self-deprecating (true), people who define themselves as members of an oppressed minority shouldn't engage in comedy because they're only participating in the violence already being done to them by society at large.


Arthur Sido October 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

We have allowed "social justice" types, a tiny fringe minority of unhappy and often unstable people, rewrite the rules of our entire civilization and culture.
David J. White , says: October 16, 2018 at 10:19 am
All the way back to Aristophanes comedy has often included a political component or an effort to "educate" audiences or at least make them think about things. But the actual comedy part is essential. Otherwise it's just a lecture.
JimDandy , says: October 16, 2018 at 2:23 pm
We might just be witnessing the death of Art. As the SJW furies brutally and effectively enforce The Narrative in literary fiction, film, TV, comedy, etc. they destroy the potential for creative genius in these mediums and kill off most of the audience. It was already hard enough for those arts to compete with new media forms. The SJW's hostile takeover of Art just makes the triumph of Real Life As Entertainment all the more complete.

Whereas twenty years ago I might be spending my free time reading a novel and attempting to write a short story, today I'm reading articles on The American Conservative and posting this comment.

[Oct 16, 2018] The "Grievance Studies" hoax exposes postmodernist charlatans by Eric London

Notable quotes:
"... Gender, Place and Culture ..."
"... the implications of the study are deadly serious. Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian have confirmed the right-wing political essence of identity politics and postmodernist thought, based on anti-Marxism, irrationalism and the rejection of the Enlightenment and objective truth. ..."
"... 'It's a very scary time for young men,' Trump told reporters on the very day that Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian went public with their hoax. Both express a fear of false attacks on men, whether levied by regretful sluts, lefty liberals, radical academics, or whoever else." ..."
"... World Socialist Web Site ..."
Oct 13, 2018 | www.wsws.org

On October 2, Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian published an article titled "Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship," incorporating the results of a year-long effort to publish hoax articles, deliberately comprised of bunk facts and irrational and reactionary conclusions, in academic journals associated with gender, racial and identity studies.

The results expose the intellectual bankruptcy of identity politics and postmodernist philosophy. Their proponents, who dominate university humanities departments worldwide, are charlatans who have published or given favorable "revise and resubmit" comments to the most absurd and vulgar pseudo-scientific arguments.

These include: a purported 1,000-hour study of dog "humping" patterns at dog parks that concludes by calling for human males to be "trained" like dogs to prevent rape culture; a long-form poem produced through a teenage angst poetry generator about women holding spiritual-sexual "moon meetings" in a secret "womb room" and praying to a "vulva shrine;" a proposal to develop feminist robots, trained to think irrationally, to control humanity and subjugate white men; and additional articles relating to male masturbation. Another proposal, which was praised by reviewers in a paper that was ultimately rejected, encouraged teachers to place white students in chains to be shamed for their "white privilege."

There is an element of humor in the fact that such drivel could win accolades from academics and journals. The "dog park" article was even selected as one of the most influential contributions in the history of the Gender, Place and Culture journal!

But the implications of the study are deadly serious. Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian have confirmed the right-wing political essence of identity politics and postmodernist thought, based on anti-Marxism, irrationalism and the rejection of the Enlightenment and objective truth.

Most chillingly, the authors also submitted a re-write of a chapter from Hitler's Mein Kampf , with language altered to reference female identity and feminism. The paper, titled "Our struggle is my struggle: solidarity feminism as an intersectional reply to neoliberal and choice feminism," was accepted for publication and greeted with favorable reviews.

"I am extremely sympathetic to this article's argument and its political positioning," one academic wrote. Another said, "I am very sympathetic to the core arguments of the paper."

In the wake of their public disclosure, Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian have come under attack by the proponents of postmodernism and identity politics, who claim the hoax is a right-wing attack on "social justice" disciplines.

Typical is the argument of Daniel Engber, who wrote in Slate : "How timely, too, that this secret project should be published in the midst of the Kavanaugh imbroglio -- a time when the anger and the horror of male anxiety is so resplendent in the news. 'It's a very scary time for young men,' Trump told reporters on the very day that Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian went public with their hoax. Both express a fear of false attacks on men, whether levied by regretful sluts, lefty liberals, radical academics, or whoever else."

In reality, the hoax has exposed the fact that it is the proponents of identity politics who are advancing views parallel to the far right. While they are enraged with those who voice concern about the elimination of due process and the presumption of innocence for the targets of the #MeToo campaign, they are unbothered by the fact that the writings of Adolf Hitler are published and praised in feminist academic circles.

Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian are self-described liberals who are concerned that the present identity hysteria is "pushing the culture war to ever more toxic and existential polarization," by fanning the flames of the far right. As a result, identitarians are "affecting activism on behalf of women and racial and sexual minorities in a way which is counterproductive to equality aims by feeding into right-wing reactionary opposition to those equality objectives."

In contrast, the authors' aim is to "give people -- especially those who believe in liberalism, progress, modernity, open inquiry, and social justice -- a clear reason to look at the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left and say, 'No, I will not go along with that. You do not speak for me.'"

The hoax's authors are correct to link the identity politics proponents' hostility to equality with their opposition to rationalism, scientific analysis and the progressive gains of the Enlightenment. But the roots of this right-wing, irrationalist, anti-egalitarian degeneration are to be found in the economic structure of capitalist society.

The academic architects of postmodernism and identity politics occupy well-paid positions in academia, often with salaries upwards of $100,000–$300,000 or more. As a social layer, the theoreticians of what the World Socialist Web Site refers to as the "pseudo-left" are in the wealthiest 10 percent of American society. Their political and philosophical views express their social interests.

The obsession with "privilege," sex, and racial and gender identity is a mechanism by which members and groups within this layer fight among themselves for income, social status and positions of privilege, using degrees of "oppression" to one up each other in the fight for tenure track jobs, positions on corporate or non-profit boards, or election to public office. A chief purpose of the #MeToo campaign, for example, is to replace male executives and male politicians with women, while ignoring the social needs of the vast majority of working class women.

The weaponization of identity politics is directed down the social ladder as well. By advancing the lie that white workers benefit from "white privilege," for example, the proponents of identity politics argue: the spoils of Wall Street should not go to meeting the social needs of the working class, including white workers, who face record rates of alcoholism, poverty, opioid addiction, police violence and other indices of social misery. Instead, the world's resources should go to me . It is this visceral class hatred that serves as the basis for absurd and reactionary arguments like those advanced in the hoax papers.

Nor have the politics of racial identity improved the material conditions for the vast majority of minority workers. Inequality within racial minorities has increased alongside the introduction of affirmative action programs and the increasing dominance of identity politics in academia and bourgeois politics. In 2016, the top 1 percent of Latinos owned 45 percent of all Latino wealth, while the top 1 percent of African-Americans owned 40.5 percent and the richest whites owned 36.5 percent of white wealth.

The influence of postmodernism in academia exploded in the aftermath of the mass protests of the 1960s and early 1970s. Based explicitly on a rejection of the revolutionary role of the working class and opposition to the "meta narrative" of socialist revolution, it is not accidental that identity politics and postmodernism have now been adopted as official ideological mechanisms of bourgeois rule.

In recent decades, a massive identity politics industry has been erected, with billions of dollars available from corporate funds and trusts for journals, non-profits, publications, fellowships and political groups advancing racial or gender politics. Identity politics has come to form a central component of the Democratic Party's electoral strategy. Imperialist wars are justified on the grounds that the US is intervening to protect women, LGBT people and other minorities.

The growing movement of the working class, broadening strikes across industries and widespread interest in socialism on college campuses pose an existential threat to the domination of postmodernism. Pluckrose, Lindsay and Boghossian have struck a well-timed blow against this reactionary obstacle to the development of scientific socialist consciousness.

Eric London

[Oct 16, 2018] Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Goes Neocon

Highly recommended!
The question is why the Deep State still is trying to depose him, if he essentially obeys the dictate of the Deep State ?
Notable quotes:
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Actually that's Trump. He demands total and utter loyalty from his people and gives none in return. ..."
"... The significance here is that Bolton and Pompeo represent just about everything Trump ran against during his 2016 presidential campaign. He ran against the country's foreign policy establishment and its rush to war in Iraq; its support of NATO's provocative eastward expansion; its abiding hostility toward Russia; its destabilization of the Middle East through ill-conceived and ill-fated activities in Iraq, Libya, and Syria; its ongoing and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan; and its enthusiasm for regime change and nation-building around the world. Bolton and Pompeo represent precisely those kinds of policies and actions as well as the general foreign policy outlook that spawned them. ..."
"... Trump gave every indication during the campaign that he would reverse those policies and avoid those kinds of actions. He even went so far, in his inimitable way, of accusing the Bush administration of lying to the American people in taking the country to war in Iraq, as opposed to making a reckless and stupid, though honest, mistake about that country's weapons of mass destruction. He said it would be great to get along with Russia and criticized NATO's aggressive eastward push. He said our aim in Syria should be to combat Islamist extremism, not depose Bashar al-Assad as its leader. In promulgating his America First approach, he specifically eschewed any interest in nation-building abroad. ..."
"... Still, generally speaking, anyone listening to Trump carefully before the election would have been justified in concluding that, if he meant what he said, he would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. ..."
"... Thus any neutral observer, at the time of Mattis's selection as defense secretary, might have concluded that he was more bent on an adventurous American foreign policy than his boss. But it turned out to be just the opposite. There are two reasons for this. First, Mattis is cautious by nature, and he seems to have taken Trump at his word that he didn't want any more unnecessary American wars of choice. Hence he opposed the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prior to Trump's decision to pull America out of it. That action greatly increased the chances that America and Iran could find themselves on a path to war. Mattis also redeployed some military resources from the Middle East to other areas designed to check actions by Russia and China, which he considered greater threats to U.S. security. ..."
"... That seems to have presented a marvelous opportunity to Bolton and Pompeo, whose philosophy and convictions are stark and visible to all. Bolton has made clear his desire for America to bring about regime change in Iran and North Korea. He supported the Iraq war and has never wavered in the face of subsequent events. He has advocated a preemptive strike against North Korea. Pompeo harbors similar views. He favored withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and has waxed bellicose on both Iran and Russia. ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Bolton was put in power to ensure unswerving loyalty to the dictates of Bibi Netanyahu and local neocons. Have we forgotten Iraq and endless wars since? ..."
"... this is all about Israel's hold on the Oval Office. Bolton and Pompeo are far, far closer to Israel than Mattis and that's a problem for him. Sorry Robert Merry, but you clearly didn't catch Trump's first foreign "policy" speech in 2016. He suddenly revealed his priorities for all to see. There are four words that Trump apologists simply cannot bring themselves to utter: "Trump is a neo-con". Suckers. ..."
"... Military adventurism is another disappointment. We can't afford more neocon disasters. We don't need to be the world's police force. We should be shrinking the military budgets. It is dismaying to watch the neocons gaining power after the catastrophic failures of recent decades. ..."
"... "Still, generally speaking, anyone listening to Trump carefully before the election would have been justified in concluding that, if he meant what he said, he would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama." ..."
"... Come on, anyone listening to Trump before the election realized that he said whatever drew the most applause from the crowd. He never, in his entire life, has meant what he said. ..."
"... He will continue down the neo-con line until Fox News and NY Times run front-page articles about how Bolton and Pompeo are manipulating him and actually running US foreign policy, at which time he will dump them and make up something else. ..."
"... Arrest the warmongering "leaders" who create havoc around the world ..."
"... I guess DJT offered you a "Bad Deal" then? Past performance does predict future results. ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In covering President Donald Trump's recent pregnant comments about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, The Wall Street Journal tucked away in its story an observation that hints at the president's foreign policy direction. In an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes , the president described Mattis as "sort of a Democrat if you want to know the truth" and suggested he wouldn't be surprised if his military chief left his post soon. After calling him "a good guy" and saying the two "get along very well," Trump added, "He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves . That's Washington."

Actually that's Trump. He demands total and utter loyalty from his people and gives none in return. In just his first 14 months as president, he hired three national security advisors, reflecting the unstable relationships he often has with his top aides. Following the 60 Minutes interview, Washington was of course abuzz with speculation about what all this might mean for Mattis's fate and who might be the successor if Mattis were to quit or be fired. It was just the kind of fodder Washington loves -- human drama revealing Trump's legendary inconstancy amid prospective new turmoil in the capital.

But far more significant than Mattis's future or Trump's love of chaos was a sentence embedded in the Journal 's report. After noting that recent polls indicated that Mattis enjoys strong support from the American people, reporter Nancy A. Youssef writes: "But his influence within the administration has waned in recent months, particularly following the arrival of John Bolton as national security adviser and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state."

The significance here is that Bolton and Pompeo represent just about everything Trump ran against during his 2016 presidential campaign. He ran against the country's foreign policy establishment and its rush to war in Iraq; its support of NATO's provocative eastward expansion; its abiding hostility toward Russia; its destabilization of the Middle East through ill-conceived and ill-fated activities in Iraq, Libya, and Syria; its ongoing and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan; and its enthusiasm for regime change and nation-building around the world. Bolton and Pompeo represent precisely those kinds of policies and actions as well as the general foreign policy outlook that spawned them.

Trump gave every indication during the campaign that he would reverse those policies and avoid those kinds of actions. He even went so far, in his inimitable way, of accusing the Bush administration of lying to the American people in taking the country to war in Iraq, as opposed to making a reckless and stupid, though honest, mistake about that country's weapons of mass destruction. He said it would be great to get along with Russia and criticized NATO's aggressive eastward push. He said our aim in Syria should be to combat Islamist extremism, not depose Bashar al-Assad as its leader. In promulgating his America First approach, he specifically eschewed any interest in nation-building abroad.

The one area where he seemed to embrace America's post-Cold War aggressiveness was in his attitude toward Iran. But even there he seemed less bellicose than many of his Republican opponents in the 2016 primaries, who said they would rip up the Iran nuclear deal on their first day in office. Trump, by contrast, said it was a bad deal but one he would seek to improve.

Still, generally speaking, anyone listening to Trump carefully before the election would have been justified in concluding that, if he meant what he said, he would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Now we know he didn't mean what he said, and the latest tiff over the fate of Mattis crystallizes that reality. It's not that Mattis represents the kind of anti-establishment outlook that Trump projected during the campaign; in fact, he is a thoroughgoing product of that establishment. He said Iran was the main threat to stability in the Middle East. He supported sending arms to the Syrian rebels. He decried Russia's intent to "break NATO apart."

Thus any neutral observer, at the time of Mattis's selection as defense secretary, might have concluded that he was more bent on an adventurous American foreign policy than his boss. But it turned out to be just the opposite. There are two reasons for this. First, Mattis is cautious by nature, and he seems to have taken Trump at his word that he didn't want any more unnecessary American wars of choice. Hence he opposed the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prior to Trump's decision to pull America out of it. That action greatly increased the chances that America and Iran could find themselves on a path to war. Mattis also redeployed some military resources from the Middle East to other areas designed to check actions by Russia and China, which he considered greater threats to U.S. security.

And second, it turns out that Trump has no true convictions when it comes to world affairs. He brilliantly discerned the frustrations of many Americans over the foreign policy of the previous 16 years and hit just the right notes to leverage those frustrations during the campaign. But his actual foreign policy has manifested a lack of consistent and strong philosophy. Consider his approach to NATO. During the campaign he criticized the alliance's eastward push and aggressive approach to Russia; then as president he accepted NATO's inclusion of tiny Montenegro, a slap at the Russians; then later he suggested Montenegro's NATO status could force the U.S. into a major conflagration if that small nation, which he described as aggressive, got itself into a conflict with a non-NATO neighbor. Such inconsistencies are not the actions of a man with strong convictions. They are hallmarks of someone who is winging it on the basis of little knowledge.

That seems to have presented a marvelous opportunity to Bolton and Pompeo, whose philosophy and convictions are stark and visible to all. Bolton has made clear his desire for America to bring about regime change in Iran and North Korea. He supported the Iraq war and has never wavered in the face of subsequent events. He has advocated a preemptive strike against North Korea. Pompeo harbors similar views. He favored withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and has waxed bellicose on both Iran and Russia.

Thus a conflict was probably inevitable between Mattis and these more recent administration arrivals. The New York Times speculates that Bolton likely undermined Mattis's standing in Trump's eyes. Writes the paper: "Mr. Bolton, an ideological conservative whose views on foreign policy are more hawkish than those of Mr. Mattis, appears to have deepened the president's suspicions that his defense secretary's view of the world is more like those of Democrats than his own."

The paper didn't clarify the basis of this speculation, but it makes sense. Bolton and Pompeo are gut fighters who go for the jugular. Trump is malleable, susceptible to obsequious manipulation. Mattis is an old-style military man with a play-it-straight mentality and a discomfort with guile. Thus it appears we may be seeing before our eyes the transformation of Trump the anti-establishment candidate into Trump the presidential neocon.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C. journalist and publishing executive, is a writer-at-large for . His latest book is President McKinley: Architect of the American Century .


General Manager October 15, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Bolton was put in power to ensure unswerving loyalty to the dictates of Bibi Netanyahu and local neocons. Have we forgotten Iraq and endless wars since? We need more folks like Phil Giraldi at TAC. Love him or hate him – but please bring him back. The First Amendment needs him. And many of us still long for his direct and well-informed comments.
George Hoffman , says: October 16, 2018 at 5:27 am
"Come on now!" as sports analysts say in a sarcastic segment about football blunders on ESPN. Did GWB really make just an honest mistake based upon faulty intelligence? Does this writer really believe his assertion? This intellectually dishonest essay comes on the heels of a puff piece by another so-called "conservative" writer who asserted that had JFK not been assassinated and won a second term, he would have surely withdrawn American soldiers from South Vietnam. And then later in this essay the writer finally admits that these wars in the global war on terror, excluding the war in Afghanistan, were unnecessary. But if these other wars were unnecessary, then it historically follows they were illegal wars of aggression against humanity. That was the legal basis under which we tried Nazi leaders as war criminals at Numenberg. By the way, if Trump does get rid of Mattis, there are plenty more, one could even say they are a dime a dozen, at the Pentagon who would be willing to toe the line under Trump. They're basically professional careerists, corporate suits with misto salads of colorful medals on their uniforms. They take their marching orders from the military/industrial complex. I'm a Vietnam vet and realized long ago how clueless these generals actually are when we crossed our Rubicon in Vietnam. The war on terror now rivals the Vietnam War as a major foreign policy debacle. All these other unnecessary wars are part of the endgame as we continue our decline as a constitutional republic and we eventually hit bottom and go bankrupt by 2030.
jd , says: October 16, 2018 at 9:37 am
Absolutely right General Manager, this is all about Israel's hold on the Oval Office. Bolton and Pompeo are far, far closer to Israel than Mattis and that's a problem for him. Sorry Robert Merry, but you clearly didn't catch Trump's first foreign "policy" speech in 2016. He suddenly revealed his priorities for all to see. There are four words that Trump apologists simply cannot bring themselves to utter: "Trump is a neo-con". Suckers.
Kirt Higdon , says: October 16, 2018 at 10:23 am
When was Trump's foreign policy anything but Neo-con? Oh, he had a few good lines when he was running – that was the "con" part. I didn't fall for it but many did. But since he took office, he's been across-the-board anti-Russian, anti-Iran, pro-Saudi, uber-Zionist, and enthusiastic shill for the military-industrial complex.
Patricus , says: October 16, 2018 at 10:35 am
Trump surprised many of us with some very positive conservative actions but has also disappointed smaller government conservatives. The deficits and debt grows as the economy improves. What in the world happens in the next recession?

Military adventurism is another disappointment. We can't afford more neocon disasters. We don't need to be the world's police force. We should be shrinking the military budgets. It is dismaying to watch the neocons gaining power after the catastrophic failures of recent decades.

TheSnark , says: October 16, 2018 at 11:05 am
"Still, generally speaking, anyone listening to Trump carefully before the election would have been justified in concluding that, if he meant what he said, he would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama."

Come on, anyone listening to Trump before the election realized that he said whatever drew the most applause from the crowd. He never, in his entire life, has meant what he said.

He will continue down the neo-con line until Fox News and NY Times run front-page articles about how Bolton and Pompeo are manipulating him and actually running US foreign policy, at which time he will dump them and make up something else.

swb , says: October 16, 2018 at 11:34 am
Hmm

And second, it turns out that Trump has no true convictions when it comes to world affairs.

Fixed:

And second, it turns out that Trump has no true convictions.

This is another article that attempts to overlay some sort of actual logical policy or moral framework over the top of Trumps actions. Please stop. Next week or next month this whole line of reasoning will be upended again and you will have to start over with another theory that contradicts this one.

BradleyD , says: October 16, 2018 at 11:40 am
@R Dodge

Are are you implying that Mattis is a slacker? Like, he isn't doing a good job? And, specially, what is he failing to do?

Even if he wasn't doing anything at all, you don't fire Mattis. He is beloved among the military. While a fair number revere and maybe even keep their own little "St. Mattis" shrine as a joke, it is only half a joke.

Mattis is one of the few modern military generals with a cult of personality who, I have little doubt, could declare crossing the Rubicon and would get a good number of veterans and active marching in support.

Stephen J. , says: October 16, 2018 at 11:48 am
I believe a good peaceful and appropriate "Foreign Policy" would be to:

"Arrest Them"

Arrest all those responsible for the plight of the Refugees
These people are in camps, or drowning in unfriendly seas
And when these unwanted, reach "safety," or a foreign land
They are treated like garbage and the rulers want them banned

Arrest these "rulers" who created this hell on earth
Who act, that human lives, don't have any worth
They are examples of evil and should not be in power
They really are disgraceful and an awful bloody shower

Arrest the warmongering "leaders" who create havoc around the world
Authorizing bombings and killings these "leaders" should be reviled
Instead we give them fancy titles and homes to park their asses
Will there ever be a day of reckoning and a rise up of the masses?

Arrest the financiers of these bloody wars of destruction
This is how these blood sucking parasites get their satisfaction
Drag them away in chains and handcuffs, and orange prison attire
These are the corporate cannibals who set the world on fire

Arrest the fat and plump little "honourable" Ministers of Wars
They are the "useful idiots" for the leading warmongering whores
They never fight in battle or sacrifice any of their rotten lives
They get others to do their evil work while they themselves thrive

Arrest the corporate chieftains who feed off death and destruction
And who count their bloodstained profits with smiling satisfaction
These are the well dressed demons who call their investments "creating jobs"
Meanwhile, around the world the oppressed are crying, and nobody hears their sobs

Arrest the uniformed generals who blindly obey their marching orders
To bomb, kill, maim and destroy: they are the brainwashed enforcers
Years ago there were trials for war crimes committed by those in charge
Now we need them again for we have war criminals at large

Arrest all the aforementioned, and help clean up the world
We cannot afford these people in power: Are they mentally disturbed?
They are a danger to all of us and we better wake up
Is it time to arrest all of them: Have you had enough?
[more info at links below]

http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2015/09/arrest-them.html
-- --

https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-great-satan-and-his-satanic-gang-of.html
-- –
https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-satanic-savages-in-suits-and-dresses.html

FJR Atlanta , says: October 16, 2018 at 12:13 pm
Hillary was right when she called Trump a puppet. She just had the puppeteers wrong.
Doswell , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm
"The significance here is that Bolton and Pompeo represent just about everything Trump ran against during his 2016 presidential campaign. "

Yes. Those two names are the main reason that this lifelong Republican is voting against Trump and the GOP in a few weeks. I voted against this kind of crap in 2016.

Sid Finster , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:09 pm
Trump is weak, stupid and easily manipulated. That is obvious. What blows my mind is how many people refuse to admit this obvious fact.
b. , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm
"[G]enerally speaking, anyone listening [..] before the election would have been justified in concluding [Trump] would reverse America's post-Cold War foreign policy as practiced by George W. Bush and Barack Obama."

What did Judas Goat 43 say again?

"Fool me once, shame on me. Full me twice in the long run we'll all be dead."

I guess DJT offered you a "Bad Deal" then? Past performance does predict future results.

Cape Fear , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm
If Trump loses at least one house of Congress this year, he can put it down to 1) failure on immigration and border control, 2) failure to control government spending, and 3) failure to get us out of the Middle East.

His new neocon friends are responsible for 3) and couldn't care less about 1) and 2).

One Guy , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm
"Now we know he didn't mean what he said "

No, Mr. Merry. We knew that long ago. I don't know how much attention you've been paying, but it's been so obvious for so long. But better late than never, I suppose.

Myron Hudson , says: October 16, 2018 at 1:56 pm
The only thing that surprises me is that anyone is surprised.

[Oct 16, 2018] Defeat in Bavaria delivers knockout punch to Merkel's tenure as Chancellor (Video)

Oct 16, 2018 | theduran.com

The stunning CSU defeat in Bavaria means that the coalition partner in Angela Merkel's government has lost an absolute majority in their worst election results in Bavaria since 1950.

In a preview analysis before the election, Deutsche Welle noted that a CSU collapse could lead to Seehofer's resignation from Merkel's government, and conceivably Söder's exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor's most outspoken critics from power , and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel's coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer's destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel's grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel's fall.

The Financial Times reports that the campaign was dominated by the divisive issue of immigration, in a sign of how the shockwaves from Merkel's disastrous decision to let in more than a million refugees in 2015-16 are continuing to reverberate through German politics and to reshape the party landscape.

The Duran's Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the stunning Bavarian election defeat of the CSU party, and the message voters sent to Angela Merkel, the last of the Obama 'rat pack' neo-liberal, globalist leaders whose tenure as German Chancellor appears to be coming to an end.

[Oct 16, 2018] Dan King and E.A. Greene

Notable quotes:
"... Stalin was a leader ahead of his time, with his relatively benign surveillance state plans, compared to those of the "Free" world. ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

October 16, 2018

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